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Title: Girl Scouts at Dandelion Camp
Author: Roy, Lillian Elizabeth, 1868-1932
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Girl Scouts at Dandelion Camp" ***

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produced from images made available by the HathiTrust
Digital Library.)



GIRL SCOUTS AT DANDELION CAMP

By Lillian Elizabeth Roy

Author of The Polly Brewster Books, The Little Washington Books

Illustrated

Grosset & Dunlap

Publishers, New York

Made in the United States of America

Copyright 1921 by George Sully & Company



CONTENTS

  CHAPTER ONE--THE DANDELION PATROL
  CHAPTER TWO--AN UNEXPECTED PROPOSITION
  CHAPTER THREE--THE OLD CAMPSITE
  CHAPTER FOUR--BEGINNING THEIR CAMP LIFE
  CHAPTER FIVE--RUTH MEETS WITH DIFFICULTIES
  CHAPTER SIX--FIRST LESSONS IN SCOUT WORK
  CHAPTER SEVEN--HEPSY JOINS THE SCOUTS' UNION
  CHAPTER EIGHT--SUNDAY VISITORS
  CHAPTER NINE--THE CABINET MAKERS
  CHAPTER TEN--A FOURTH OF JULY OUTING
  CHAPTER ELEVEN--IN BLUEBEARD'S CAVE
  CHAPTER TWELVE--AN UNPLEASANT SURPRISE
  CHAPTER THIRTEEN--THE CAPTURE
  CHAPTER FOURTEEN--THE REWARD FOR COURAGE
  CHAPTER FIFTEEN--A FURNITURE SHOWER
  CHAPTER SIXTEEN--A VISIT TO GRANNY DUNSTAN'S CABIN
  CHAPTER SEVENTEEN--NEW MEMBERS
  CHAPTER EIGHTEEN--THE SCOUTS MEET JOHN DUNSTAN



[Illustration: _Mrs. Vernon turned the flashlight over the ground
about them (Frontispiece)_]



GIRL SCOUTS AT DANDELION CAMP

CHAPTER ONE

THE DANDELION PATROL


"Dear me, I never saw so many old dandelions in my life!" exclaimed
Juliet Lee, as she tugged mightily at a stubborn root.

"Seems to me there are ten new weeds ready to spring up the moment we
pull an old one out," grumbled Ruth Bentley, standing up to straighten
her aching back.

"Forty-six for me! I'll soon have my hundred roots out for the day!"
exulted Elizabeth Lee, Juliet's twin sister. As she spoke, she shook a
clod of loose earth from a large dandelion root, and threw the
forty-sixth plant into a basket standing beside her.

"You handled that root exactly as an Indian would a scalp before he ties
it to his belt," laughed Joan Allison, another girl in the group of four
so busily at work weeding a vast expanse of lawn.

"Oh, me! I don't b'lieve we _ever_ will earn enough money this way to
pay our expenses in a Girls' Camp!" sighed Ruth, watching her companions
work while she stood and complained. "Doesn't it seem foolish to waste
these lovely summer days in weeding Mrs. Vernon's lawn, when we might be
having glorious sport in a Girl Scouts' Troop?"

"We'd never be admitted to a Patrol or Troop if we had to confess
failure in pulling up little things like dandelions," ventured
Elizabeth, without raising her eyes from her task.

"There you go--preaching, as usual!" retorted Ruth.

"Well, anyway, Mrs. Vernon said it wasn't so much what we did, or where
we did it, as long as we always did the _best_ we could; so I'm trying
my best on these unfriendly weeds," added Elizabeth, generally called
Betty, for short.

"Pooh! Mrs. Vernon is an old preacher, too, and you copy her in
everything just because you haven't any mind of your own!" scorned Ruth,
her face looking quite ugly for such a pretty girl.

Juliet, known familiarly as Julie, glanced over at her sister to see if
Ruth's rude words hurt. Seeing Betty as happy-faced as ever, she
exchanged glances with Joan, who understood Ruth better than the girl
understood herself.

To change the trend of the conversation, Joan now asked: "Has any one
thought of a name for our club?"

"Yes, I proposed lots of them but Verny seemed to think they were
meaningless. I suppose she prefers a Latin or Greek name," Ruth jeered.

"Oh, not at all! She left it entirely to us to choose a name, but she
thought we ought to select one that would fit," hastily explained Joan.

"I've got one--guess what?" exclaimed Betty, sitting back, and hugging
her knees as she smiled questioningly at her friends.

The other girls puckered their brows and guessed all sorts of names,
some so ridiculous that a merry chorus of laughter pealed across the
glen; but finally, Betty held up a hand in warning and shouted:

"Halt! Halt! if you keep on this way, we'll never finish the weeds."

"Give up, then!" responded her companions.

"Dandelion Troopy!" exulted Betty.

"Troopy--why that 'y' at the end?" queried Joan.

"'Cause we can't be a regular 'Troop,' you know, while we have only four
members--Verny said the Scout Manual says so. As most infant ideas end
with a 'y,' I suggest that we end that way."

"Oh, Betty! I'm sure you don't want us to end there when we've but just
begun," laughed Julie.

Betty was about to explain her meaning when Ruth interrupted. "Good
gracious! Haven't we had enough of dandelions in this horrid job without
reminding us forever of the work by calling ourselves by that name?"

"Well, I was thinking how pretty the name would look if Verny prints it
on a board sign and paints yellow dandelions all about the words,"
explained Betty, in an apologetic tone.

"It _would_ look nice," added Joan, picking up a blossom and studying it
carefully.

"You know dandelions really are lovely! And they smell sweet, too. But
they grow so freely, everywhere, that folks think they are weeds. Now
they'd be considered wonderful if they were hard to cultivate," said
Betty, seriously.

"I fail to see beauty in the old things!" scorned Ruth.

"You fail to see beauty in lots of things, Ruth, and that's where you
lose the best part of living," said a sweet voice from the pathway that
skirted the lawn.

"Oh, Verny! When did you get back?" cried three of the girls. Ruth
turned away her face and curled her lips rebelliously.

"Oh, some time ago, but I went indoors to see if the banker had his
money ready for my scouts," replied Mrs. Vernon, paying no attention to
Ruth's attitude.

"We were just talking of a name, Verny, and Betsy said she thought the
name of 'Dandelion' was so appropriate," explained Joan.

"Betty thought a signboard with the name and a wreath of the flowers
painted on it would be awfully sweet," added Julie, eagerly.

"And I say 'Toad-stool Camp' with a lot of fungus plants painted about
it would be more appropriate for this Troop's name!" sneered Ruth,
wheeling around to face Mrs. Vernon. "We're sick of the sight of
dandelions."

Understanding Ruth's shortcomings so well, the girls paid no attention
to this remark, but Mrs. Vernon said: "I came out to see if you were
almost through with to-day's work."

"Seems as if we were awfully slow this afternoon, Verny, but we'll dig
all the faster now for having you here to boss us," said Julie.

"It's all because I stopped them to talk about a name," admitted Betty.

"Well, we were glad of the recess," laughed Joan.

"Come, come, then--let's make up for lost time!" called Julie, falling to
with a zeal never before demonstrated by her.

The other girls turned and also began digging furiously, in order to
complete the number of roots they were supposed to sell at one time. Not
a word was spoken for a few moments, but Ruth groaned about her
backache, and sat up every few seconds to look at her dirt-smeared
fingernails. Mrs. Vernon had to hide a smile and when she could control
her voice, said:

"I'll be going back to Vernon's Bank, girls, but as soon as you are
ready to cash in for the roots, go to the side porch. Then wash up in
the lavatory and meet me on the front verandah, where we'll have
something cool to drink for such warm laborers."

"Um-m! I know what! You always do treat us the best!" cried Joan.

"With such an incentive before us, I shouldn't wonder but we'll be there
before you are ready," added Julie, smacking her lips.

Mrs. Vernon laughed, then walked back to the house, and the girls dug
and dug, without wasting any more time to grumble or talk. Even Ruth
forgot her annoyances in the anticipation of having something good to
eat and a cooling drink the moment she was through with her hundred
weeds.

As usual, Betty completed her task before any of her companions, and
Ruth said querulously: "I don't see how you ever do it! Here I've worked
as hard as any one but I only have sixty roots."

"I'll help you finish up so's we can get to the house," Betty offered
generously. And Ruth accepted her help without thinking to thank her.

"I know why Ruth always falls behind," commented Joan. "Betty may be a
'prude' and a 'preacher' in Ruth's eyes, but she sure does persist in
anything. I haven't heard her complain of, or shirk, a single thing
since we began this Scout plan. Ruth sits and worries over everything
before it happens, so she really makes her work hard from the moment she
ever starts it."

"That's good logic, Joan," returned Julie. "Besides all that, I have
watched Betty work, and she seems to _like_ it! Haven't you ever noticed
how fast and well you can do anything that you love to do?"

"You don't suppose I _love_ to root out dandelions, do you?" demanded
Betty, laughingly.

"Not exactly, but you try to see all the good points in them and that
makes you overlook the horrid things," said Julie.

"Well, I wish Betty would show me the good points in a pan of potatoes,"
said Joan. "I have to peel the 'taters every day, and _I hate it!_ Many
a time I have tried to fool myself into believing I like them--but I just
can't!"

The girls laughed heartily, and Julie added: "Next time you have to peel
them, begin to sing or speak a piece--that works like magic, because it
turns your thoughts to other things."

"There now! Ruth's hundred are ready, too!" said Betty, tossing the last
few roots into the basket.

Mr. Vernon was paymaster, and always contrived to have bright new coins
on hand with which to pay his laborers. To-day he counted out the
correct wage for each girl, and then said:

"That lawn must be almost cleaned up, eh?"

"Oh, Mr. Vernon! It's most discouraging!" cried Ruth.

"Yes--why?" asked Mr. Vernon, quizzically.

"Because we root out a place one day, and the next the young ones sprout
up again."

"That looks as if you girls may bankrupt me before this contract is
completed, eh?" laughed he.

"Come, girls! Don't waste your time in there with Uncle Verny when you
might be sipping cool lemonade out here!" called Mrs. Vernon from the
front of the house.

So the four girls hastily washed away all signs of earth from hands and
faces, and joined their "Captain" on the verandah. Here they found
waiting great wicker easy-chairs, and a table spread with goodies. In a
few moments unpleasant work and dandelions were forgotten in the
delectable pastime of eating fresh cake and drinking lemonade.

"What do _you_ think of the name 'Dandelion Troop,' Verny?" asked Julie,
when the first attack on the cake had subsided.

"I think it is most appropriate at present, but how will you feel about
that name next year--or the next?"

"Now that's what I say! We'll grow so tired of it," added Ruth.

"But we don't think so!" argued Julie.

"Besides, we ought never to weary of the humble things that really start
us in life. If dandelions mean our start to a real Scout Troop, we ought
to be grateful and honor the weed," giggled Joan.

Then an animated discussion followed between the girls for and against
the name, but finally the champions of "Dandelion" came forth the
victors, and thereafter they wished to be known as "The Dandelion
Troop."

"I suppose you girls know that we can't organize a regular Patrol until
we have eight or more girls," said Mrs. Vernon, after the mimic
christening of a dandelion with Betty as sponsor for the name took
place.

"We know that, but you told us that the Handbook said we might be a club
from any school or Y. W. C. A., and meet regularly until we had secured
our needed number," added Joan, anxiously.

"Yes, that is true, but I think we had better continue with our little
club as we are now, and study the ways and laws of the Scouts, before we
try to increase our number to eight. You see, you had already planned to
earn money for camping this summer before the Girl Scout Drive began;
then you became enthusiastic over that.

"If I am to be your Captain, I, too, must study the plans, principles,
and objects of the Organization, or I would be a poor Captain to guide
you."

"Does that mean we can't call ourselves Girl Scouts, or anything else,
until you've done training?" demanded Ruth.

"By no means! Dandelion Patrol can go right along and obey the laws of
the Scouts, and perfect itself for admission to the Organization as soon
as we prove we know enough to claim our membership," explained Mrs.
Vernon.

"But we won't have to give up our camp idea for that, will we?" asked
Joan, anxiously.

"No," laughed Mrs. Vernon, while the other girls sighed in relief.

While the four girls are trudging homeward, you may like to hear how
they came to be weeding Vernon's lawn, and why they were so keen about
starting a Girls' Scout Patrol.

Julie and Betty were about thirteen years old, and were very popular
with their friends. Their sister, May, who was about seventeen, kept
house for the family, as the mother had been dead for several years.
Besides May, there were Daddy Lee, John, the brother, who was twelve,
and Eliza, the maid-of-all-work, who had been a fixture in the household
since May was a baby.

Ruth Bentley was about fourteen, but she was an only child. Every whim
was law to her doting mother and father, so it was small wonder that the
girl was spoiled in many ways. But not past salvation, as you shall see.
She had a lovely home quite near the Vernons' place, with servants to do
the work and wait upon her; thus indolence became one of her evil
tendencies. When Ruth heard the Lee girls propose the forming of a Scout
Patrol, she, too, yearned to become a member. Hence she had to weed
dandelions for a test the same as the other girls did, but not without
complaints and rebellion on her part. Mrs. Vernon paid no attention to
her fault-finding, for she knew that if the girl persevered there would
be less danger of her failing in other tests when the Patrol began on
more interesting but more difficult tasks.

Joan Allison was also thirteen years of age, and a more sensible little
person you would have difficulty in finding. She had three brothers
younger than herself, but her parents could not afford a maid, so Joan
helped with the house-work, while the boys did the chores about the
place.

The Vernons' house, on the outskirts of the town, was the handsomest
place in the township. There were acres of woodland and meadows at the
back, and a velvety lawn that sloped from the front of the house down to
the stream that was the boundary line of the estate.

The Vernons had had a son who enlisted in the Aviation Service at the
beginning of the War in Europe, but he had met death soon after his
initial flight on the battle lines. Mr. and Mrs. Vernon had always taken
an interest in the children living in their neighborhood, but after
Myles' death they tried to forget their loss by closer companionship
with the young people in the small town.

Mrs. Vernon had heard of and seen the splendid work done by Girl Scouts,
and she decided to train a group to join the Organization. Thus it came
about that the four girls who were anxious, also, to become Scouts, were
the first members in the Dandelion Patrol to be started by Mrs. Vernon.

To try out their patience and powers of endurance, as well as to have
them earn money for their simple camp-equipment, Mrs. Vernon suggested
that they weed dandelions at a rate of twenty cents a hundred. This test
taught the girls to appreciate the value expressed in a dime--for it
meant just that much service rendered.

School would soon close for the summer, and the girls hoped by that time
to have enough money earned and saved to buy the second-hand tent and
camp-outfit a friend of May's had offered for sale. Every dollar added
to the camp-fund gave the girls dreams of the mountains where canoeing,
hiking, fishing and living in the open would constitute one long season
of delight.

Mrs. Vernon listened to their plans and preparations, but she was too
wise to discourage them by saying it would take longer than two weeks at
the rate of income they were receiving to earn sufficient capital to
outfit a camp. She encouraged them in doing whatever work came for them
to do--be it dandelion roots or drying dishes--and explained how
Perseverance and Persistence always rewarded one.



CHAPTER TWO

AN UNEXPECTED PROPOSITION


Julie and Betty dropped their coins into the bank at home that was
jointly kept for their savings, then they hurried out to the kitchen to
see what kind of dessert May was preparing.

Eliza was busy with the finishing touches of the dinner when the twins
ran in; and being the nominal head of the family since the mother was
gone, she ordered the children around.

"Here, Betty--mash them pertaters whiles I strain the squash, will yuh?"
said she.

"Shall I add the butter and cream, 'Liza?" asked Betty, eagerly taking
up the patent masher because it was considered great fun to watch the
tiny squirms of mealy potato run through the sieve.

"Julie kin get the butter an' cream--yuh jest hurry and do the mashin'.
I'm gettin' late with th' dinner ennyway," replied Eliza, turning her
attention to the roast in the oven.

Julie started for the jug of cream, but stopped at May's side and asked:
"How far is it from here to the Adirondacks, Maysy--I mean, how much does
it cost to get there?"

"It's a good ways, and I've heard it costs a lot of money, but I don't
know exactly how much. Why?"

"Oh, nothing much--I just wanted to know, that's all," returned Julie, as
she took up the jug to carry it back to Betty.

"We want to figure out how much more money we'll have to earn, Maysy,
before we can start for that camp. That's why Jule asked," explained
Betty, conscientious even in little things like this.

"Hoh! why you girls will have to weed Vernon's lawn all summer before
you can raise money enough to pay carfare to the Adirondacks!" laughed
John, who now scuffled into the kitchen to see if he could find anything
good to eat before dinner was served.

"We didn't ask your opinion! You're only a child, so how would you know
about carfares," retorted Julie, condescendingly.

"Oh, really! Is that so! Well, let me tell you, I know a heap more about
it than you dream of, 'cause I'm planning to go to Chimney Point Camp
myself this summer--so!" exclaimed John, feeling highly gratified when he
saw the looks of consternation on his sisters' faces. But he forgot to
reckon with Eliza.

Eliza was a trifle more than six feet in height, and buxom as well. She
had powerful hands and feet and when she snapped her mouth shut as a
signal of disapproval, the children knew better than to argue.

Now Eliza plunked the soup-pot down upon the range and wheeled to face
John. Her broad hands went to their habitual rest upon her ample hips,
and she inquired in a high falsetto voice:

"John Lee! Does your father know what you'se just said?"

"Not yet, but he will t'night, 'Liza; the Y. M. C. A. director of our
gym is coming to see him about it," replied John, without the bravado he
had expressed towards his sisters.

"Then lem'me tell you this much, sonny! Ef your father asks me fer an
opinion--and I s'pose he will, seein' how I has brung you all up--I'll
come out an' tell him it ain't fair fer him t' let you take money to go
to camp this summer, an' make th' girls set to work to earn their'n. An'
that's onny fair to all!"

"Oh, I am not going to spend money, 'Liza--I'm goin' to help wash dishes
in camp to pay for my board," hastily added John.

"Wash dishes! Huh!" snorted Eliza disdainfully. "I'd hate t' hev to eat
from them dishes!" Then as an afterthought struck her humorously, she
added: "But men-folks don't know th' diffrunce--they eat what's set
before them, whether dishes are clean or dirty!"

May laughed appreciatively and said: "Which goes to show how much 'Liza
appraises John's ability to wash dishes."

"Er anything else, that I knows of," murmured Eliza, winking at May.
"Don't we have t' look after his neck and ears every day afore he goes
to school?"

Julie joined May in the laugh at John's expense, and he rushed out of
the kitchen, slamming the door behind him. But Betty turned to Eliza and
said:

"'Liza, John's getting to be too big a boy for us to tease like that. I
think we hurt his feelings just now."

"Betsy, if John's too big for teasin' then he's big enough to 'tend to
his own wardrobe and appearance. Now I wonder what he would look like in
ten days ef I diden' keep after him all the time?"

Betty said no more but she had finished mashing the potatoes and so she
ran out, planning how she could please John in order to compensate him
for the teasing from Eliza.

Julie had been hanging about, thinking she could scrape the bowl clean
when her sister had finished whipping the cream for the Snow Pudding.
But May had other plans. When the cream had stiffened into a peak of
snow-like froth, the bowl was carried to the refrigerator and there
placed upon the ice.

With a regretful sigh, Julie watched, then ran out after Betty. John and
Betty were in the sitting-room asking Mr. Lee about railroad fares and
camp-life. So Julie was just in time to hear his reply.

Having figured roughly on a scrap of paper, Mr. Lee told his questioners
about how much it would cost to reach the Adirondacks. John whistled in
surprise, and Betty looked at Julie in chagrin.

"My goodness, Betty! It will take us all summer to earn that much
money."

"I guess we'll have to find some mountains nearer home, then," ventured
Betty, wistfully.

"I wonder what Ruth will do when she hears we can't earn enough money
for fares," added Julie.

The following day after school, the four girls met again on Vernon's
lawn and exchanged items of news with each other. But the most
discouraging of all was the telling of the cost of carfare to the
Adirondacks.

They stood with baskets hanging from their arms, and weeding tools idle,
while faces expressed the disappointment at hearing Betty's story.
Finally Ruth said:

"Then there's no use breaking our backs over this old lawn. I'll not dig
dandelions if it isn't going to get us anywhere."

"Oh, I didn't mean to make you feel that way, when I told you about the
fares," expostulated Betty. "I only wanted you to know we'd have to find
some other camp-place to go to, nearer home."

"Anyway, girls, don't let's quit work just now, because we found out
about the cost of traveling. Let's keep right on and who knows! we may
wind up in the Alps this summer--carfares, steamers for ocean voyages,
and everything included--paid for and presented to us by an unknown uncle
from a far country!" laughed Joan.

"Let me tell you something, too!" added Betty. "Let's try to keep up our
spirits while weeding this afternoon, by talking over what we will do
when we reach the mountains. I'd rather pretend we were in the
Adirondacks, or the Rockies, than over in Europe. But we can picture
ourselves in the mountains, _somewhere_, like Sarah Crewe did you know,
about her father and home, even while she had to live in the attic!"

The girls laughed at Betty's optimism, but she took the laugh in good
part; then she began weeding and at the same time began a fine oration
on the beauties of the mountains and the wonders of Nature.

Soon the other girls were weeding, too, and vied with one another in
thinking of some wonderful camp sports or plan they could talk about.
Soon, to Ruth's great amazement, each girl had rooted out the required
number of dandelions for the day.

"Now then, didn't I tell you we could work better if we thought of
pleasant things and plans?" exulted Betty.

"We certainly did our stint this afternoon without the usual complaints
and delays," admitted Joan. "Let's root some more."

The rest of the afternoon passed quickly, and by the time the girls
carried their baskets of weeds to Mrs. Vernon to be paid for, they found
they had earned twice as much money, for they had each rooted out 200
plants instead of their usual 100.

As they sat on the cool verandah enjoying ice-cream and cakes, they told
their hostess how it was they had weeded so many dandelions. Then they
told her about their discouragement when they had heard how expensive a
trip it would be to go to camp in the Adirondacks. But in reply to all
their talking, Mrs. Vernon smiled and nodded her head.

They began to say "good-by" for the day, when Mrs. Vernon said: "I'll
have pleasant news for you to-morrow."

"Oh, can't we be told just a word about it now?" cried Ruth.

"Is it about a camp in the mountains?" added Joan.

But Mrs. Vernon shook her head in mild reproof of their curiosity, and
refused to be beguiled into sharing her secret.

The Dandelion Girls, as they now styled themselves, lost no time after
school was dismissed, the next afternoon, in running to the Vernon's
house. They found Mrs. Vernon on the side porch waiting for them.

"Before you begin work to-day, I thought I would mention a little idea I
had last night after you left. It is not _the_ secret but it has some
connection with it.

"When Mr. Vernon came home last night, he told me he had heard of a fine
tent for sale very cheap. There are several cot-beds and four lockers to
go with it. He secured an option on it until he could ascertain what
your decision might be about the purchase.

"As it is such a bargain, I would advise our buying it; then we can
erect it on the rear lawn, and your tools and other chattels can be kept
in the lockers. It would also provide us with a clubroom all our own
while here, and when we go away to the mountains we will have a tent all
ready to take with us."

"Oh, I think that is lovely!" cried Julie, clapping her hands.

"It is so good of Uncle Verny and you--and we thank you a thousand
times!" exclaimed Betty, thinking of gratitude before she gave a thought
to the fun they might have in the tent.

"Well, it will make us feel as if we were preparing for a camp-life this
summer, even though we may not be able to really afford it," sighed
Ruth, despondently.

"Heigh there! Cheer up, can't you? Don't be a gloom just when Verny
tells us something so fine!" called Joan, reprovingly.

"But we don't even know the price! Maybe it will take all the savings we
have had on hand for our camping purposes," argued Ruth.

"That's so," admitted Julie and Joan, but Betty said:

"How much will it cost us, Verny?"

"Well, as I am going to enjoy this outfit as much as any one of you
girls, I am going to pay my share of the costs--exactly one-fifth of the
total, girls."

Ruth smiled unpleasantly at this reply, as if to say: "And you with all
your money only doing what we girls each are doing!"

Mrs. Vernon saw the smile and understood the miscomprehension that
caused it, but she also knew that Ruth would soon overcome all such
erroneous methods of thinking and feeling if she but continued
interesting herself in the Scout work and ideals.

"How much will the total cost be, Verny?" asked Julie.

Mrs. Vernon took out a slip of paper and read aloud the items that went
with the tent, then concluded by mentioning the cash sum asked for the
entire outfit.

"Why, it sounds awfully cheap!" exclaimed Betty.

"I think it is, girls, that is why I advise you to take it."

"What under the sun do we want of an ax, a saw, and all that carpenter's
outfit? Why not let the man keep them and deduct the sum from the cost
of the outfit?" asked Ruth.

"Because, my dear, a good ax, and other tools, are as necessary in
camp-work and life as the tent itself. At present, tools are very
expensive, and these are of the best quality steel, Uncle Verny says."

"Well, buy them if you want to, but don't expect _me_ to wear water
blisters on my hands by handling an ax or spade. Not when _I_ go to
camp!" retorted Ruth.

Little attention was paid to this rudeness, as Ruth's friends knew
enough of the laws of the scouts to ignore such shortcomings in others,
but to try, instead, to nourish that which was worthy of perpetuation in
thought and deed.

"Having our own tent where we can rest when we like makes it seem as if
the mountains were much nearer us than so far off as the Adirondacks
really are," said Betty, happily.

"It may turn out that this camp will be all we shall have for this
year," commented Ruth.

"I don't see why you should say that!" demanded Joan, impatiently.

"Because we'll spend our money on this old thing and then have to weed
and weed all the rest of the summer to earn the carfares."

"It won't figure up any differently in the end, 'cause we'd have to have
some kind of a tent, wouldn't we?" asked Julie.

"We might be able to borrow some--or buy them on the installment plan. I
even might tease father to lend us the money to buy new ones when we are
ready to go," replied Ruth.

"It isn't one of our rules to borrow or go in debt. We each want to
demonstrate independence as we go along. Buying on credit, or with
borrowed capital, is a very undesirable method of doing business," said
Mrs. Vernon, gravely.

"But paying back for a tent next fall, instead of next week, isn't as
bad as you seem to think," insisted Ruth.

"All the same, we girls are going to buy for cash, and never borrow
trouble, if we can help it!" declared Julie, sensibly.

"Then it is settled, is it? We take the tent?" said Mrs. Vernon.

"Of course! Even Ruth must admit that it is a bargain," returned the
three girls in a chorus.

"I don't know the least thing about costs of camping, and there seems so
little hope of my ever participating in such joys!" retorted Ruth. But
they all knew she was well pleased with the purchase.

That afternoon they went to work with a zeal hitherto unfelt, for they
had a keen sense of proprietorship in something worth-while. Mrs. Vernon
felt happy, too, over the way the girls voted to pay cash as they went,
for she knew it meant individual freedom for each; and Ruth would soon
be made to understand the meaning of "obligations" if she associated
with three such practical girls.

The moment the weeding was done for the afternoon, four eager girls
assembled to hear about the "great secret." Mrs. Vernon began by saying:

"Now I don't want you girls to be disappointed in what _I_ consider my
fine secret, but I really think it is the only way out for this summer."

Ruth sniffed audibly and sat with lifted eyebrows, as if to suggest:
"Didn't I tell you that tent would be all you got this year for your
money!"

But Mrs. Vernon continued her preamble without hesitation.

"Even should you girls earn ten times the amount of money you are now
receiving each afternoon, you would still lack enough to pay carfares to
the Adirondacks, or the White Mountains. And as we agreed from the
beginning never to borrow money for our scout work, such a long trip
seems out of the question at present.

"Last night I sat puzzling over this situation, when a splendid idea
flashed into my mind. I remembered a campsite in the mountains not so
far from here, that will give us all the delights of the Adirondacks
without the costs. A motor truck can carry our outfits instead of our
shipping them by freight, and we can go there in my car, whenever we are
ready to start.

"If we decide on such a plan, we could prepare to leave home the week
following the closing of school. I think it will take us at least that
long to get everything ready, you know."

"Oh, how wonderful!" breathed Betty, joyfully.

"Our dreams come true!" sighed Joan and Julie.

But Ruth, as usual, could not accept any proposition, no matter how
pleasant, without argument. So she said: "How do we know this campsite
is where we might wish to spend a summer?"

"Mrs. Lee and I spent a summer there when we were girls, and your own
mother cried because she had to go with her parents to the farm in the
Catskills, instead of camping with her schoolmates. Perhaps your mother
will describe the beauties of this place to you, so you will feel sure
it is desirable enough for you," said Mrs. Vernon, calmly, but with a
faint suggestion of sarcasm in her tone.

Ruth had the grace to keep silence after that, and Mrs. Vernon said:
"I'm not going to say more about the idea, but you shall judge for
yourselves when I take you there in the auto on Saturday."

"Dear me. I feel so excited that I'm sure I won't be able to sleep all
week!" exclaimed Julie, jumping up and dancing around.

"I feel as if there were wheels whirring around inside of me," added
Joan.

The others laughed, and Mrs. Vernon admitted: "That is the way I felt
when it was agreed that I might join my friends for camp-life that
summer."

"It will be so lovely to camp in the same place that mother dear did
when she was a little girl," said Betty, her voice trembling slightly as
she thought of the one now absent from sight, but not in spirit.

"I don't know but what I'd rather try out the first summer in camp with
no other scout girls to watch and comment about our mistakes," confessed
Joan. "If we start alone this year, we will feel like experienced scouts
by next summer."

"I agree with you there, Joan," said Julie.

"Then we are pleased with my plan to ride out and inspect the old
campsite on Saturday, eh?" ventured Mrs. Vernon.

"Yes, indeed!" chorused four voices; even Ruth agreed with her friends
about this week-end outing.

By Saturday the girls had paid for the tent and outfit bought of the
man, and had nineteen dollars left for expenses at a camp that summer.
They were at Headquarters (they named the tent on the back-lawn
"Dandelion Headquarters") an hour before the time decided upon for the
early start to the mountains. But it was as Julie said:

"Better too early than too late!"

Mrs. Vernon was giving last instructions about packing a luncheon to
take with them, then she came out and joined her Patrol.

"What do you think, Verny? Eliza said she would bake us a crockful of
ginger-snaps and cookies every week this summer, and send them to camp
for us, because we would not be home to eat."

"How are you going to get them? I asked mother about the campsite and
she said it was three or four miles from any village," said Ruth, this
being the first inkling she had given that she had inquired about the
camp.

"Why Rural Delivery will leave it for us, Daddy said," replied Julie.

"And my mother said I could make fudge to sell to my family and friends.
She would give me the sugar and chocolate. Father ordered two pounds
then and there--so that makes a dollar more that I shall have earned
before next week," said Joan.

"I can make good fudge, too. I'll ask May if I may sell it!" exclaimed
Julie.

"Our waitress left last night, and mother said she would pay me a
quarter a night if I would wash the dishes. But I hate doing dishes. The
greasy water gets all over your hands and then they smell so!" said
Ruth, not willing to be left out of this working-community.

"Did you do them?" eagerly asked the girls.

"Of course not! I didn't want to feel all warm and sticky for the rest
of the evening. Besides, I manicured my nails so nicely just before
dinner."

"Dear me! I wish your mother would let me do them--for a quarter a
night!" sighed Betty, anxiously.

"Even if she did, would you give _that_ money to the Patrol?" wondered
Ruth, doubtfully.

"Sure! Aren't we all earning for the general good?"

"Well, I'll ask mother if she'll let you do them," replied Ruth,
magnanimously. She actually felt that she was bestowing a favor on Betty
by allowing her to wash her dishes and donate the earnings to the
camp-fund.



CHAPTER THREE

THE OLD CAMPSITE


Early Saturday morning the chauffeur brought the car over to the tent,
and Mrs. Vernon told the girls to jump in while she sent Jim for the
lunch-baskets. She got in the front seat, as she proposed driving the
car.

When all was ready, the merry party started off with Mr. Vernon wishing
them a good time. They were soon outside of town limits, and skimming
over a good hard country road. Then Mrs. Vernon drove slower and spoke
of the place they were bound for.

"Of course you know, girls, that it is not necessary for you to select
this site if you do not like it. I am merely driving you there because
it seems to meet with our present needs for a camp-life. We still have
other places we can investigate, as there is a pyramid of catalogues on
the table in the tent."

"But every one of those camping places will cost us so much money to
reach, and that won't leave us anything for board," said Joan.

"Father told us last night that he always wanted to get a crowd of the
boys to go with him to that camp you all made when you were girls. But
his chums wanted to go so far away that they never got anywhere to camp
in the end," said Betty.

"Yes, and he said he wished he could have his boyhood over again. Then
he'd spend his vacations in camp even if it was near home," added Julie.

Mrs. Vernon smiled. "I remember how jealous a few of the boys were when
they heard us talk of the fun we had in camp. Betty's mother was so
sorry for them that she invited them to visit the camp now and then.
Betty takes after her mother for having a great heart."

"Maybe we can invite our folks to visit us, too," said Julie, eagerly.

"So we can--if they will come and bring supplies," said Ruth.

Every one laughed at this suggestion, and Ruth added: "Well, we can't
afford to pay for visitors, can we? I won't be surprised to find that we
shall have to break camp and return home in a month's time, just for
lack of funds to go on with the experiment."

"We won't do even that if we have to chop cord wood to pay our way,"
laughed Mrs. Vernon.

"Are there big trees on the mountain, Verny?" asked Betty.

"We girls thought it a great forest in those days. To us it seemed as if
the trees were giants--but we had not seen the Redwoods of California
then," Mrs. Vernon chuckled as she spoke.

"What do you call it now?" asked Joan.

"This ridge has no individual name that I know of, but the range is an
extension of those known by the name of Blue Mountains. The place I have
in mind is one of the prettiest spots on this particular spur of hills.
You will find forest trees, streams, pools for bathing, softest moss for
carpets, flowers for study, wild woodland paths for hikes--in fact
everything to rejoice a nature-lover's heart."

"Dear me, can't you speed up a little?" asked Julie.

"No, don't, Verny--we'll land in jail if you go faster!" exclaimed Ruth.

"Let's call this spur 'Verny's Mountain,' shall we, girls?" suggested
Betty.

"Yes, let's!" abetted Joan.

The automobile rolled smoothly and swiftly along, and after the first
excitement had abated somewhat, the girls begged their Captain to tell
them how she had found the place and what they did at camp when she was
a girl.

"I think it was that one summer in camp that made me eager to give every
girl an opportunity to enjoy a like experience. But we went there under
far different auspices than you girls are now doing. We had to convince
our parents that we would not be murdered by tramps, or starved, or made
ill by sleeping out-of-doors in the woods.

"Then, too, we had to load our outfit on a farm-wagon and climb in on
top of it so that one trip would do all the moving, as horses were
scarce for pleasure-trips, but were needed for farm-work in those days.

"I can remember the shock we girls created with the village people, when
it was whispered around that we proposed a camp-life that summer,
instead of sitting home to do tatting and bleaching the linen. It was
all right for boys to have a camp for fun--but for girls, never!

"However we six girls were of the new era for women, and we wanted to do
the things our brothers and their schoolmates did. They could go camping
and fishing and hiking so why couldn't we? What difference did skirts
and pig-tails make in vacation-time? So we won over our parents' consent
to let us try it for a week.

"But we stayed a month, and then a second month until we made the whole
summer of it. And, girls, we brought home more knitted socks and crochet
trimming and tatting, with an abundance of good health and experience
thrown in, than all the rest of the girls in the village could show
together.

"Even the parson, who had visited our mothers to dissuade them from
allowing us this unheard-of freedom of camp-life, had to admit that he
had been prejudiced by members of his congregation."

"Just like a story-book, Verny! Do tell us what you did when you first
got to camp?" cried Julie.

"Well, it was lucky for us girls that my brother Ted drove the
farm-wagon for us. When we reached the steep road that ran up over the
mountain, we had to leave the horses and wagon and carry our outfit to
the site we had selected.

"Then Ted showed us how to build a fireplace, an oven, and a pot-hanger.
He also helped us ditch all about the tent so the rain-water would drain
away, and he constructed a latrine for camp.

"He promised to drive up on Sunday to see how we were faring, and bring
a few of his chums with him, if they could get off from the farm-work.
So we gladly said good-by to him, and felt, at last, much like Susan
Anthony must have felt when she realized her first victory in the fight
over bondage for women."

"And didn't you have any guardian or grown-up to help take care of you?"
wondered Ruth.

"The school-teacher planned to stay with us for a month, but she could
not come for the first few days; and we feared we might be kept home
unless we started before our folks repented, so we went alone on the day
agreed upon.

"But, girls, I will confess, every one of us felt frightened that first
night; for an owl hooted over our heads, and queer noises echoed all
around us, so that we thought of all the dangers the foolish villagers
had said would befall us."

The car now went through a thriving village which Mrs. Vernon said was
Freedom, the last settlement they would see this side of the campsite.
With the announcement that they were now nearing "Verny's Mountain," the
four girls were silent; but they watched eagerly for the woodcutters'
road that Mrs. Vernon said would be the place where they would leave the
automobile and climb to the plateau.

The further they went, the wilder and more mountainous seemed the
country; finally Mrs. Vernon drove the car up a rutty, rocky road until
the trail seemed to rise sheer up the rugged side of the mountain.

"Here's where we have to get out and walk, girls."

And glad they were, too, to jump out and stretch themselves after the
long drive. They stood and gazed rapturously around at the wildness and
grandeur of the place, and all four admitted that no one could tell the
difference between Verny's Mountain and the Adirondacks.

"We'll take turns in carrying the hampers, girls," said Mrs. Vernon,
lifting the well-laden baskets from the automobile.

They began climbing the side of the mountain by following the old
woodcutters' path, until they reached a large, grassy plateau. Back of
this flat a ledge rose quite sheer, in great masses of bed-rock. Mosses
and lichen clung to the niches of this rocky wall, which was at least
forty feet high, making it most picturesque.

"What a wonderful view of the valley we get from this plateau!"
exclaimed Joan.

"Is this where you camped, Verny?" eagerly asked Julie.

"No, but this is where we danced and shouted and played like any wild
mountain habitants," laughed Mrs. Vernon, the joys of that girlhood
summer lighting her eyes. "And here is where you girls can play scout
games and dances, or sit to dream of home and far-away friends."

"The scout games we'll enjoy here, but dreams of home--never! We'll have
to go back there soon enough," declared Joan, causing the others to
laugh merrily.

"Well, come on, girls. Our campsite lies just there beyond that cluster
of giant pines that rear their heads high above the surrounding forest
trees," said Mrs. Vernon, leading the way across the plateau.

The sound of falling water became plainer as they went, and soon,
between the trunks of the trees skirting the plateau, the girls spied a
beautiful waterfall. It tumbled from one great boulder to another, until
it splashed into a basin worn deep in the farthest end of the plateau;
thence it sought the easiest way to reach the valley, making many
sparkling pools and musical waterfalls in its descent.

"How perfectly lovely!" breathed Betty, standing with clasped hands and
a gaze that was riveted on the falls.

"You had plenty of water for cooking and bathing, didn't you?" said
practical Julie.

"Yes, and that was one reason we chose this spot for our camp. You see
this high rocky wall made a fine wind-shield from the north, and where
could one find a more convenient gymnasium than that flat? The pines and
waterfall over here provided shelter and supply. So we built our hut
against the wall under those trees."

"Hut? You never told us you built a hut," exclaimed Joan.

"No, because I have no idea of finding it here. I suppose the logs have
rotted away years ago," returned Mrs. Vernon.

"We might build another one, Verny, 'cause I see plenty of down-timber,"
suggested Betty.

"And it will be great sport to play carpenter," added Joan.

Mrs. Vernon forced a way through the tangle of briars and bushes that
had grown up since that long-ago, and the scouts followed directly after
her.

"Girls, here is the pool where we used to swim--isn't it lovely?"

The girls stood still, admiring the clear water and the reflection of
green trees in the pool; then the Captain turned and began breaking down
slender twigs and bending aside green berry-bushes, as she eagerly
blazed a trail towards the wall.

Here, not fifty feet from the pool, was glimpsed the old frame and
timbers of a log cabin. A mass of vines and moss almost hid the hut from
view, so that one would unconsciously pass it by, thinking it but the
trunk of a cluster of old trees against the wall.

[Illustration: _A mass of vines and moss almost hid the hut from view_]

"Oh, we must have built well to have had it survive all these years,
girls!" cried Mrs. Vernon, joyfully, as she stood and looked at the
handiwork of her friends of years long gone.

"Verny, this is the way we girls will build, too. We will erect a hut
alongside this, and show it to our children many years from now," said
Betty, fervently.

"I don't see why we can't use this hut, too," said Julie.

"The frame and floor beams are solid enough," added Joan, examining the
posts.

"It will need a roof and some new side-logs--that is all," Ruth said,
taking a lively interest in the camp-plan.

"Yes, we can easily repair it, and then you girls can build your own hut
as an annex to this hotel," said Mrs. Vernon, still smiling with
satisfaction at the discovery of the cabin.

"Dear me! I wish we had brought our camp outfit to-day and could stay to
begin work," complained Joan.

"I'm crazy to start, too," admitted Julie.

"But we have to have those tools, and some others besides. I shall ask
Uncle Verny to sell us some of his extra ones. He has several hammers,
screw-drivers, and other implements he can spare," said Mrs. Vernon.

"Now what can we look at?" inquired Ruth, quickly wearying of one thing.
This was one of the weak tendencies Mrs. Vernon hoped to cure that
summer.

"You can bring the hampers over to the pool, if you like, and when we
are through planning here, we will join you and have our picnic."

"Why, I don't want to carry them alone! Can't we all go now and do it?"

"I want to snoop about here a little more," said Julie.

"And I want to figure out how many tree-trunks we'll have to drag over
here before we can have a cabin as good as this one," called Joan, as
she measured the length of logs with a hair-ribbon.

"Mercy! Aren't any of you going to eat before you finish that nonsense?"
Ruth asked plaintively.

Mrs. Vernon smiled. Then she turned to Joan and said: "If you girls will
really promise to build and finish a hut, I will ask Uncle Verny to loan
us the farm-horse to haul the timbers. You girls could never drag them,
you know. But Hepsy is accustomed to hauling and heavy work, so we need
have no fear of straining her."

"Just the thing! Hepsy forever!" shouted Joan, throwing her hat in the
air for a salute.

"Can you remember all the things we still need this summer, Verny?"
asked Julie, anxiously.

"We'll jot down everything as we remember it, then we can compare lists
when we go to order the things," said Mrs. Vernon.

"Won't the girls at school look green with envy when we tell them we are
going to have a strange girl camp with us this summer?" laughed Julie,
as a thought struck her.

"Who is she?" gasped the other girls in surprise.

"Ho! did I get you on that?" teased Julie.

"This is the first hint we've had of it," complained Joan.

"Why no! Verny suggested the plan herself--didn't you, Verny?"

But Mrs. Vernon shook her head doubtfully, while Julie shouted with
delight at their mystification. Then, eager to share her fun, she cried
laughingly: "Hepsy, the dear old girl!"

Of course when one is happy and gay it takes but little to cause loud
and long merriment, and so it was in this instance. They laughed
uproariously at the joke, and decided then and there to tease the other
girls at school who were so anxious to join a Patrol, but would not weed
the dandelions to earn money for a camp.

As weeding had been the best test of endurance and patience Mrs. Vernon
could think of at the time, she had felt rather relieved to find that
only four responded to the initiation invitation. In doing things
according to the Handbook for Captains, she felt she would find four
girls sufficient material to practice upon for the first season.

When the luncheon was unpacked and spread out, Mrs. Vernon smiled
continuously at the happy chatter of the four girls, and the
thousand-and-one plans they made for the camp that summer. Then all sat
down to enjoy the feast, for nothing had ever tasted so good to them
before, and then--did Verny say it was time to start for home?

"Oh, no! It can't be late, Verny!" exclaimed Ruth.

"Why, we've only been here half a minute, Verny," added Joan.

The Captain glanced at her wrist watch. "We have been here more than two
hours, girls, and it is a two hour drive back, you know."

"Dear, dear! the only comfort I have in leaving now is the hope of being
here for all summer in another week!" cried Betty.

"Then you have decided to choose this site?" ventured the Captain.

"I thought you knew it! Of course this is what we want," admitted Ruth,
frankly. And Mrs. Vernon mentally gave her a credit-mark for forgetting
self enough to speak her opinion honestly.

The drive back was much longer than going, even though the girls planned
and plotted how to earn more money with which to buy everything they
craved for that camp. It was to be a wonder-camp.

"I can add a dollar and seventy-five cents to the fund now," announced
Ruth, calmly.

"A dollar and s-e-v-e-n-t-y--five cents!" gasped the girls.

"Then I'll have another dollar and a half before next Friday--if I keep
on washing those nasty dishes every night!"

"R-rruth!" squealed Betty, throwing her arms about her friend's neck.

"Ruth Bentley!" cried Joan.

"I cannot believe my ears!" added Julie, in a whisper.

Mrs. Vernon never said a word, but she did a lot of silent
praying--thanking Him for this break in the clouds of human will and
selfishness that the girl had always displayed hitherto.

Ruth felt embarrassed at so much fussing, and felt a deep gratitude to
the Captain for not adding to her self-consciousness. The moment she
could free herself from Betty's loving embrace, she said, recklessly:

"I told mother I'd rather give up camping than do those dishes any more,
but now that I've seen the place, I'll scrub the kitchen floor if she
wants me to."

A great laugh relieved every one's feelings at this statement from Ruth,
and the merry party reached the Vernon home feeling very much at peace
with the world in general.



CHAPTER FOUR

BEGINNING THEIR CAMP LIFE


The next few days were so filled with the final work to finish the
scholastic year, and closing of school, that every one of the girls was
kept busy, and had little time to think of camp.

Once Thursday came, however, the only exciting thing remained to be done
was Commencement on Friday; so the four girls met at Dandelion Tent to
plan for the camp.

"We ought to have our folks give us a great send-off, like they did with
the regiments that mustered from the town families," said Julie.

"If they'll only give us all I asked for, we will be satisfied," laughed
Joan.

"What did you do?" instantly said three voices.

"First, I told mother what we would have to have for camp, then I got
mother to visit your folks and tell them what we really ought to have to
make life comfortable in the wild woods."

"Oh, oh! That's why Eliza told us she would fix us up with some jams and
other food-stuff," laughed Julie.

"And mother asked me did we want any furniture or china?" added Ruth.

"What did you say?" asked Julie.

"I told her we'd rather she donated the price of china or furniture this
time, and let us invest it as we found need."

The girls laughed and Mrs. Vernon ran out of the side door, saying: "I'm
missing all the fun! Do tell me what it is about?"

Then Julie told her what Ruth had replied to her mother's question, and
the Captain laughed also. "I see Ruth is developing a wonderfully keen
sense of finance."

"You'll say so when you see this scrap of paper, Verny," said Ruth,
taking a crumpled oblong of tinted paper from her middy blouse and
passing it over to the Captain.

Mrs. Vernon looked at it in surprise, and gasped: "Why, of all things!"

"The price of china and furniture that mother figured we would smash or
damage," explained Ruth.

"Girls, it's a check for twenty-five dollars from Mrs. Bentley. We'll
have to vote her a letter of thanks at once."

"Hurrah! Now, all ready for three cheers for Mrs. Bentley!" shouted
Julie, jumping upon the camp-stool and waving her hat.

Instantly the girls began a loud hurrah, but the folding chair suddenly
shut up, with Julie frantically trying to balance herself. Before a
second hurrah could have been given, Julie was sprawling across the camp
table right on top of the hats, pans and what-not that had been
accumulated to take to camp. Such a clatter of tins and wild screams of
laughter that filled that tent!

Finally Julie emerged from the wreckage and stood up, tentatively
feeling of her bones and head and body. "Am I all in one piece, girls?"
she asked, trying to appear anxious.

"You are, but my hat isn't!" retorted Joan, holding up a crushed straw
sailor with the brim severed from the crown.

"I'll have to work and buy you another," said Julie.

"Please don't! I despise sailors and had to wear this one because mother
said I would need no new summer hat if I was in camp," hastily explained
Joan.

"Come, girls, we must indite that letter to Ruth's mother now. Sit down
quietly and suggest something fine," interpolated Mrs. Vernon.

So the letter was composed and given to Ruth to deliver, then the last
plans for leaving home were perfected, and the Patrol separated for the
day.

Saturday found the girls again at Vernon's place, eager to hear what day
they were to start for camp. Everything that they had on their lists had
been provided, and now the only thing to do was to say good-by and
leave. This the girls felt could not be accomplished any too soon for
their peace and comfort.

"Why, Verny, if we don't get away in a day or so, those seven girls who
are possessed to join us will steal us and hold us as hostages until you
agree to take them in our Troop," said Julie.

"Patience! They'll have to wait now, and learn the lesson you girls have
finished before they can join this Patrol. Why, I wonder if you realize
how high you have climbed on the rungs of the ladder of Scout Ideals
during these past few weeks?" said Mrs. Vernon.

"I can't see any change," said Joan.

"What! don't you think your friends here have improved any whatsoever
since we decided to begin a Troop?"

"Oh--the girls have--a little, but I haven't!"

"You have, too, but you don't see it yet. Wait."

"All the same, Verny, tell us when we _can_ start?" begged Julie.

"Well, Mr. Vernon sails for his European trip on Monday, so I see
nothing to keep us home after that. Can you all be ready to go on
Tuesday morning?"

"You know we can--why ask?" laughed Julie.

"Maybe you'd prefer us to start Monday afternoon after you come home
from the steamer," suggested Ruth.

Mrs. Vernon laughed. "Hardly as soon as that."

When Tuesday arrived, however, the girls found many little things to
delay them, so it was past nine o'clock before they met at the old
headquarters, but the tent had disappeared.

"Here we are, Verny, bag and baggage!" shouted Julie, as they tramped up
the side-steps of the porch.

"And some of our folks are coming over in a few minutes to see us off. I
suspect they have various advices to whisper to you, as well as leave
with us some forgotten parting words," said Joan.

"Eliza's going to give us a parting pie," added Betty, so innocently
that every one laughed.

"Well, the visitor that we invited to camp with us for the summer is
hitched up and waiting to start," Mrs. Vernon informed the girls, as she
pointed towards the barns, where a horse was seen going down the back
road.

"Why, Hepsy's hooked up to a buckboard? What for?" asked Ruth.

"We won't need it this summer, so Uncle Verny suggested that Hepsy take
it along for us to use if we had to go to the stores at Freedom, or
should we want to go away on a picnic."

"Say--that's a great idea! I never thought of it," said Julie.

"Which proves that you have no monopoly on great ideas," retorted Joan.

Then the automobile drove up to the steps and was soon followed by a
heavy rumbling auto-truck that was used for heavy cartage at Mr.
Vernon's factory. He had sent it down for the newly-fledged Scout Troop
to make use of to carry tents, boxes and what not to Verny's Mountain.

The advance line of family members now came straggling up the road to
watch their girls depart. Before the truck started, the other friends
arrived, so there was quite a crowd to wish them good-by and good-luck
as they climbed into the car and wildly waved hats and hands.

The ride seemed very short that morning, for so much had to be talked
over, and the village of Freedom was reached before they could realize
it. Then began the ascent up the woodroad to the plateau. Here the car
halted, and the chauffeur assisted the driver of the truck in
transferring the boxes and baggage to the buckboard Hepsy had brought
thus far.

"We'll have to stable Hepsy somewhere, girls," suggested Julie, as she
stood and watched the men work.

"Yes, we ought to make that our first concern, for Hepsy may not
appreciate outdoor life as we do--especially if it rains."

"We'll build her a hut," promised Ruth, eagerly.

"And let her sit out under a tree for the four weeks it will take us to
erect it?" laughed Joan.

The girls were too eager to reach their campsite to wait any longer for
the men to complete the baggage transfer, so they informed the Captain:

"We'll take our suitcases and start up, Verny!"

Mrs. Vernon readily agreed to this, so they started off and were soon
out of sight. Once they had reached the old cabin, Julie said:

"Let's get out of these city clothes and get into our scout
camp-uniforms."

This met with general approval, and soon the girls were gleefully
comparing notes about each other's appearance. But this was interrupted
when shouts and crackling of brush was heard. Then poor Hepsy was seen
snorting and pulling to bring the loaded buckboard up to the plateau.

"Gee! That's some haul--that grade!" complained Jim, as he mopped his hot
brow and stood looking back at the steep road.

"And Hepsy's so soft from no recent work!" added Mrs. Vernon, as she
reached his side. Jim was too easy with the horses for their own good,
so she said what she did to let him know his sympathy was misplaced.

Hepsy began nibbling at the luscious grass that grew near her feet, and
Mrs. Vernon laughingly added: "Poor thing! She must be almost dead to be
able to start right in and eat like that."

The luggage was taken to the hut and then Jim went back for a second
load. The back seat of the buckboard had been removed so the camp outfit
could be easily piled upon the floor of the vehicle. But it did not hold
very much, hence it was necessary to make several trips.

When all was carted up to the campsite, Mrs. Vernon said: "Now, Jim,
remember to bring the oats once a week for Hepsy, and any other things I
write for. See that all mail is forwarded to Freedom, where we can get
it."

Jim promised to see that everything was done as requested, then he, too,
left. When the last chugs from the automobile truck and the car died
away, Mrs. Vernon turned to the girls.

"Well, scouts, here we are for a whole summer of delights!"

"Hip, hip----" began Julie, and the others joined in.

"Don't you think the hut has grown smaller since we were here last?"
asked Betty, wonderingly.

"That is because you were picturing the place on a much grander scale
after you got home than it actually is. It is your thought that has to
dwindle again to take in the proportion of the hut as it is," replied
the Captain, amused at Betty's experience.

"I thought the very same thing, but I hated to say anything that sounded
like criticism," admitted Joan.

"Tell the truth, girls, I think that hut is tiny, but it looked big
enough the other day," laughed Julie.

"Then we must build ours larger than this," said Mrs. Vernon, turning to
look over the stock of things needing shelter.

"It looks like an awful heap of stuff, doesn't it?" asked Ruth.

"Yes, but we needed everything, so we had to bring them."

"What shall we do first, Verny?" asked Betty.

"Better pitch the tent first of all, and arrange the cots, then we can
work as long as we like, without worrying about having to make our
beds."

The girls quickly unrolled the large canvas tent they had purchased, but
when it came to erecting it, they found it a much more difficult task
than they had anticipated. Jim and the gardener had helped pitch it the
first time, but now they were absent.

However, after many failures, the tent was up, albeit it looked wobbly
and one-sided. The cots were next opened and placed under the canvas,
and the lockers were dragged to their right places.

"Where's the crex rug Verny said we could bring for the ground inside
the tent?" called Julie, thrusting her head from the opening of the
canvas. But she forgot Ruth had placed a pole directly in front of the
entrance to hold up the flap temporarily.

"Ouch! Who left that tree-trunk right in the way?" cried Julie, as she
bumped her head smartly.

"That's the porter standing at the door of our hotel!" retorted Joan,
laughing as she saw Julie scowling.

"Well, where's the crex rug, anyway?" demanded Julie.

"Come to think of it--Jim threw it out when he unloaded the truck, and
then he must have forgotten to pick it up again," said Mrs. Vernon.

"We'll have to use grass for carpet to-night, then," said Julie.

"Unless you run down and drag it up," ventured Ruth.

"That's what we brought Hepsy for, girls. Who'll drive her down and
bring back the rug?" called Mrs. Vernon from the hut.

All four were anxious to drive and enjoy the fun, so Julie jumped on the
front seat and the others sat dangling their feet from the back of the
buckboard. The Captain stood smiling and watching as they went, thinking
to herself, "What a good time they will have in camp!"

When the amateur truckman returned, Ruth called out: "Guess what, Verny?
We found the seat of the buckboard in the bushes, too. Wasn't it
fortunate we went for the rug?"

"We might have hunted all over the camp for that seat when we want to go
for a drive, and never have thought of it being left down there," added
Julie.

When the girls ran over to see what next to do, they found the Captain
eyeing a board about sixteen inches in length. She was calculating aloud
and wondering if it would fit.

"Fit where? What is it for?" asked Joan.

"You'll soon find out. Now you girls can unpack the hamper and get
luncheon ready--I'm hungry," replied Mrs. Vernon.

She knew this would meet with great approval, and soon they were busy
unpacking the ready-made lunch, and placing it on a large flat rock.

"Ruth! quick--brush that awful bug from the butter!" shrieked Julie, as
she stood with both her hands filled with dishes.

"Oh--oh! I can't! It's an awful looking creature!" cried Ruth, running
away from the rock where the luncheon was spread.

"Joan--come here! What's that beast on the butter--see?" called Julie,
trying to set the tier of dishes down on the grass.

"It's only a young dragon-fly--don't you know one when you see it?"
laughed Joan, shooing the insect away.

"I've seen them flying in the sunshine, but never on the butter-dish,"
said Julie, picking up the dishes again and placing them on the cloth.

Mrs. Vernon had started for the rock-table when she heard the shouting,
but now she laughed heartily. "Joan, where did you study insect-life
that you know so much about one of the common members?"

"Wasn't it a dragon-fly, Verny?"

"Not at all. I should think every one of you girls could tell a
dragon-fly, because we have them about our gardens at home."

"What was it, then?" asked Joan.

"I'm going to send to Scout Headquarters for a book on Insect Life, and
have you study the different ones you find while in camp. Then you'll
become acquainted with them and never forget again. The same with
flowers and trees--I must send for books that you can refer to and teach
yourselves all you need to know about these things that every good scout
knows."

"Oh, come on and let's eat. Every ant and bug in the land will get there
before us, and we'll have to eat leavings," said Julie, whipping a
hornet from the jelly dish.

So with all kinds of insects for guests, the girls ate their first lunch
at camp. They were so hungry that stale bread would have tasted good,
but given the delicious things prepared by the Vernons' cook, it was
small wonder they all felt uncomfortably full when they left the
rock-table.



CHAPTER FIVE

RUTH MEETS WITH DIFFICULTIES


Immediately after luncheon, the girls left the flat table-rock and ran
off in quest of fun. They had ignored the remains of the meal, and the
dishes were left to attract all the ants and flies within a radius of
the odor of the food.

Mrs. Vernon had gone to the buckboard to unpack the chest that held the
tools, and was engaged in sorting the nails she thought would be needed
to repair the old hut. When she turned to see if the girls were almost
through with the task of clearing away the dishes, she found them
eagerly investigating the camp grounds.

"How I'd like to have a swim in this pool," called Joan, standing beside
the mirror-like water.

"Oh, no; we can take a dip any time. Let's go for a hike up the
mountainside. I want to explore," cried Ruth.

"Why not wait until to-morrow morning for adventuring--I want to see if
there are any fish in this trout brook," said Betty.

Julie was out of hearing, but she was busy over some quest of her own,
and she had shirked work as well as the others.

"Girls, is it possible that you are seeking for a kind fairy who might
live in the woods, or are you just waiting for some one to happen along
and offer services to you?" asked Mrs. Vernon.

"What do you mean?" inquired Joan, puzzled at the words.

"And what are _you_ looking for, Verny?" asked Betty, seeing the Captain
going about examining various spots, then glance up at the trees
overhead, or shade her eyes to gaze at the sky.

"Finding a suitable place for the cook-stove," said she.

"Cook-stove! Why, we didn't bring any!" replied four girls.

"Oh, yes we did--I'll show you a fine one to-morrow."

"Are we to have running water in our bedrooms, too?" laughed Joan.

"You can, if you are willing to do the plumbing," retorted Mrs. Vernon.

But evidently she found just the place she sought for; and now the girls
were deeply interested in watching her build a camp-stove. "You see, I
need a place where the smoke will not be driven into our tents, and also
where the wind will act as a blower up the chimney and not a quencher of
the fire.

"Julie, you can bring me some smooth flat stones for an oven, and Joan
can find me a peck of small stones for a lining. Then Betty can cut a
good strong young sapling about an inch through, cut off the twigs and
leave a clean pole about five feet long; and Ruth can cut two shorter
ones with crotches made by two limbs. The crotched limbs can be about
three inches long and the poles cut to four feet high. Sharpen the ends
to a point so we can drive them into the ground."

Each girl went to do the bidding of their Captain, and when they
returned they found a pit had been scooped out of the sheltered nook at
the base of a huge rock. This pit was lined with smooth small stones,
and the flat oven-stones firmly fixed at the back. Then the two notched
poles were planted one on each side of the fireplace, and the long pole
placed across the top, the ends fitting securely into the notches.

"To-night we shall have hot soup for supper, girls, and there will be
plenty of hot water to wash dishes in."

"Hadn't we better heat some water now for the dishes?" asked Julie.

"Oh--haven't you cleared away the lunch table and washed the dishes?"
asked Mrs. Vernon, seemingly surprised.

"Not yet--there wasn't any hot water," said Ruth.

"Then we must heat some at once, for no good scout will postpone
clearing away food and dishes after he has had a bountiful meal. It
shows a lack of appreciation and gratitude to the Provider when one is
slack about cheerfully doing his part," said the Captain.

So Joan was sent for a pail of water, and the other girls were told to
remove all signs of food from the rock and bring the dishes to the
kitchen.

"Where is the kitchen?" giggled Ruth.

"For to-day, we will have it _below_ the pool in which we wish to bathe.
Then the brook can carry away the dish-water without having it seep into
the ground and find its way to mingle with the pool."

The pail of water was hung upon the cross-pole, and fire was laid and
lit in the fire-pit. The girls watched very closely as the Captain
slowly placed the dry leaves, then the dried twigs, and lastly the dry
wood that would burn quickly and start other wood burning in the stove.

While the water was heating, Mrs. Vernon showed the girls how to hitch
and unhitch Hepsy. If either one needed to do it, she would understand
just where all the pieces of harness fitted in. Hepsy was now given a
drink and some oats, and turned out to graze about the plateau.

With five pairs of hands, the clearing away of the dishes did not take
long. As they worked, the Captain planned the carpentry work.

"Don't you think we ought to repair the old hut first?" asked she. "You
see, we need some sort of protection for our dry groceries and other
things."

"Well, we can do that to-day, and begin on Hepsy's shed in the morning,"
suggested Julie.

"I doubt if we can complete all the work to be done on the old place in
this afternoon's few hours," returned Mrs. Vernon.

"It doesn't look as if it would take more than two hours at most,"
argued Joan.

"We'll begin now and then you can find out for yourselves," the Captain
said in reply.

All the tools they had brought were now unpacked and placed ready for
use. Mrs. Vernon then said: "Now we must weed up all the stubble and
wild-growth that has filled the interior of the hut. We may find the
floor beams good enough to use again when the undergrowth is cleared
away."

"Why not let's build the roof first?" asked Ruth.

"Because you have no flooring down, and every nail or tool you drop
while working on the roof will have to be sought for in the rank
growth."

The girls saw the logic of that, so they began pulling and working on
the material that had to be eliminated before further work could be
attended to.

"Why, this is as bad as weeding dandelions," grumbled Ruth.

"Say, Ruth, dandelions were easy in comparison," laughed Joan, standing
up to wipe the perspiration from her face.

"Well, all I can say is, if this is the sort of fun the Girl Scouts rave
about, I don't want any more of it!" declared Ruth, throwing down her
weeding fork and stepping over the beam to get out of the hut.

The other girls stopped work and looked impatiently at her, but Mrs.
Vernon said: "Perhaps you'd like to work at some other task. There are
many things to be done before we can settle down in camp and enjoy our
leisure."

"All right! Give me any old thing but that weeding!"

"Here's the ax--see those trees growing so closely together over there?"

Ruth took the ax and signified by a nod that she saw the clump referred
to.

"Start to cut down several of them, but do not chop too low or too high
from the base. I mean, you ought to cut about eighteen inches above
ground. When you have chopped through nearly half of the trunk, call me
and I will show you what next to do."

"Hurrah! Now I'm going to do something different! I'm sorry for you poor
girls with nothing but weeds to work on," called Ruth gaily, swinging
the ax as she moved away.

The three girls watched for a few moments, but she had not yet reached
the clump of trees before they were again working hard. The Captain was
occupied in removing some boards from the packing cases already emptied
of bedding and other things, so no one noticed Ruth.

She held the ax up over her head as she had seen others do, and brought
it down with a swing. But it caught in the high bushes beside her and
was yanked from her hands.

"Well! to think a little thing like that birch bush could do that!"
exclaimed Ruth to herself.

She picked up the ax and took a fresh start. This time she changed her
position so the birch could not interfere again. The ax came down, but
so wide was its swing, and Ruth had not allowed for any leeway in her
stiff pose, hence the muscles in her arms were wrenched and her back
suddenly turned with the force of the blow.

"O-oh" exclaimed she, dropping the ax and rubbing the flesh of her upper
arms.

She glanced over at her companions to see if they had seen the awkward
work she was making of the chopping, but they were laughing merrily as
they worked inside the hut. Mrs. Vernon was not to be seen so the girl's
pride was spared. She picked up the ax again and looked at it carefully.

"What is there about you that hurt me like that?"

But the inanimate ax did not answer, and Ruth could not tell. So she
lifted it again, slowly this time, and then made sure that no
obstructions were in the way.

She paid so much attention to the ax that she scarcely looked where the
blow might fall, consequently the blade came down almost on a vertical
line with the tree-trunk. It glanced off and sank into the soft soil
beside the tree, with Ruth holding fast to the handle. So unexpected was
this aim and the downward continuation of the ax until it sank into the
ground, that Ruth was fairly pulled over and fell upon her face in the
vines and bushes.

"You mean old thing! You can stick there as long as you like--I'll never
put a finger on you again!" cried the ax-scout, as she got up and felt
of the scratches on her face.

"What's the matter, Ruth?" called Mrs. Vernon, seeing the girl slowly
returning to camp without the ax.

"That tool is too heavy for me to use. Have you a hatchet or something
else to cut with?"

"The ax is the only thing that ought to be used on a small tree; the saw
is for thicker trunks, but you can't manage it, either, if you can't
handle the ax."

"Well, what else is there I can do instead of chopping down forests?"
asked Ruth, trying to cover her shortcomings with a laugh.

"Did you bring back the ax? It's a very good one, you know."

"I thought perhaps one of the other girls would want to change work
soon, so I left it by the tree."

"If one of the others should feel like quitting the work they were given
to complete first, then they can take the ax from its place in the
tool-chest. Better bring it to me now, Ruth."

As no other alternative was open, she went back to the tree and kicked
viciously at the ax. But the blade was still securely embedded in the
ground and that made the handle as resistant as an upright post. So all
Ruth got for her kick was a suddenly turned toe that felt lame for days
afterwards.

"Oh, o-oh! _how_ I hate camping! I'm going home and tell every one I
know what a horrid thing this Girl Scout business is! All hard work
and--everything! No fun, no rest--just lame backs and broken bones!" Ruth
fairly screamed to herself as she sat down and removed the sneaker from
the foot that had tried to crack the ax-handle of hickory.

The Captain heard the crying and hurried over to inquire into the cause
of it. Ruth was weeping by this time, so sorry did she feel for herself,
and her ill-treatment.

"What ever has happened, Ruth, in this perfectly safe spot?"

"O-ooh! I must have stubbed my toe! Oooo-h, I'm afraid it's broken!"
wailed the girl.

Mrs. Vernon saw the ax with its head deep in the ground but she did not
dream how Ruth had "stubbed" her toe. She sat down and wiggled the
injured member tenderly, then said:

"Oh, no, it's not broken, only hurt by the collision. It will be all
right in a little while," the Captain replied cheerfully.

But Ruth did not want cheerfulness--she wanted to be told she had to
remain as quiet as possible and have others wait on her.

"Pick up the ax and I'll help you walk over--you can lean upon my arm if
you think your toe will feel easier," suggested Mrs. Vernon.

"I don't believe I can walk," breathed Ruth, fearfully.

"Oh, yes, you can. The foot is all right, it is only the toe that feels
lame for a short time--just as it would have done at home if you ran into
a piece of furniture."

Reaching camp again, Ruth was about to drop the ax on the grass, when
the Captain said: "The tool-chest is over on the buckboard, Ruth."

The girl clinched her teeth in anger, but the ax was taken to its right
place and left in the box whence she had taken it.

One after another of the girls looked up and felt surprised to find Ruth
sitting on a box holding her foot. Then Julie called out:

"Good gracious! Ruth done chopping that tree so soon?"

"No, she and the ax had an argument," laughed Mrs. Vernon.

Ruth glanced at the Captain out of the corners of her eyes, and
wondered: "Did she see me kick that old thing?"

"Oh! Well, then, come over and get busy here again," said Joan,
beckoning to Ruth.

"That won't make your toe hurt, Ruth. You can remain in one spot and
weed," added Mrs. Vernon.

Not having any other excuse at the moment, Ruth limped to the hut and
slowly began the old work, but she rebelled inwardly.

After an hour's hard work the clearing was done, and the girls threw
themselves down to rest. The Captain was ready for this recess.

"I made a jugful of lemonade, girls, and it is as cold as if we had ice
water in it. Just taste!"

"Oh, glory! Just what I was wishing for," sighed Julie.

The others quickly agreed with that exclamation, and tested the drink.
The mingled sounds of approval made the Captain smile. After a short
rest, Joan said:

"What next? I'm ready to start work again."

"Dear me! Haven't we done enough for this afternoon? I want to enjoy a
_little_ bit of the time here," complained Ruth.

"I'm having a fine time! I like this sort of thing," said Joan.

"You can do exactly as you like, girls; if you want to do any more work
on the hut, well and good; if you prefer to rest or do anything else,
there is no one to stop you. But it is plain to be seen that the hut
cannot be repaired completely this afternoon, eh?" said Mrs. Vernon,
with a smile.

"I should say not! If we finish it by to-morrow night we will be clever
workers," replied Julie.

"I'm going back to work on it, anyway," came from Betty.

"You always were the easy mark for every one," Ruth said scornfully,
tossing her head.

Betty flushed, but Julie defended her. "She isn't an easy mark at all!
But she may be too sympathetic for hard-hearted or lazy folks who always
play on her generosity!"

"I don't believe the scout handbook says that members of the scout
organization must criticize or say unpleasant things to others,"
commented Mrs. Vernon.

That silenced every one, and soon all four girls were at work again,
removing the dead wood of the flooring. When this was done, Mrs. Vernon
examined it carefully.

"It isn't as bad as I thought it would be. The tangle of briars and
brush, and the decayed outer layer of the beams, made it look as if it
all must be removed."

Once they became interested in repairing the floor as it should be done,
the girls wanted to continue and complete it, but the wise Captain
called a halt, and said:

"Twilight will soon creep up to compel us to stop work; before that
comes we want to have everything ready for the night."

So when darkness fell the camp was ready and waiting for it. A fine fire
reflected light fitfully about its radius, and lanterns were lighted for
use in case the campers wished to go about. Hepsy had been fed and
bedded for the night, and the tent was in readiness for its tenants.

Supper had been prepared and disposed of, and the dishes washed and
cleared away before darkness invited every one to sit down and listen to
the Captain's stories of girlhood days in this very spot. But she had
rather a drowsy audience that night. Four girls were so tired out with
healthy exercise and the mountain air that the fire gave them a feeling
of peace and rest.

Not a demur was heard when Mrs. Vernon suggested bed, and the hard cots
must have felt like a nest of feathers to the newly-fledged scouts, for
soon every one was fast asleep.



CHAPTER SIX

FIRST LESSONS IN SCOUT WORK


A loud drumming on a tin pan roused the would-be scouts in the morning,
and each girl tumbled out of her cot feeling as if she had slept on
roses. The invigorating air and the benefit of sleeping out-of-doors
began to be felt. Then the odor of cooking was wafted in through the
tent opening, and Joan ran to look out.

"Oh!" sniffed she, "Verny's up and dressed and has something _awfully_
good cooking for breakfast!"

"Um-m--I should say she has!" added Julie, running over to join Joan at
the tent door.

"What is it, Verny?" called a chorus of girls, and as the Captain turned
to reply she saw four tousled heads crowded out of the opening.

"Can't tell secrets until you've washed and dressed!" laughed Mrs.
Vernon.

It was not long, therefore, before the hungry campers joined her about
the fire and wanted to know what smelled so good. The Captain was adding
a pinch of salt to the "something" in the pot, so she did not look up,
but said hastily:

"Will some one watch that toast--it seems to be scorching."

"Did you ever! Making toast on a stone!" laughed Julie, trying to turn
over the slices with a stick.

"But the stone's as hot as any stove-lid," commented Betty, as she saw
the smoke rise from the crumbs that burned on the rock.

"Is that cereal standing off on that other stone?" now inquired Ruth.

"Yes, but who'd a thought a stone would ever be used for an oven?"
laughed Joan, stirring the cereal with a long spoon.

"The oven won't retain heat long after the stone is removed from the
embers. Better be ready to serve yourselves as soon as I say 'ready,'"
said Mrs. Vernon, as she removed the pot that had given forth such
appetizing odors from the fire, and stood it upon a heated rock.

"Now--all ready!" laughed she, and every girl made a dash for the cereal.

"Here--let me dish it up and pass it along. The whole mess will be in the
fire if we all struggle to be first," added Joan.

The cereal disappeared like snow in July, and then four eager girls were
asking for the next course.

"This food, fit for the gods, is composed of the leavings of supper last
night. But you girls will never dream that it goes by a homely name,"
said Mrs. Vernon, as she ladled a goodly portion upon each plate which
was thrust out under her nose.

"What _is_ it called?" asked Ruth, tasting a bit that fell upon the edge
of her plate.

"It smells heavenly, Verny!" sighed Julie, rolling her eyes skyward.

Every one laughed, for Julie always was extravagant in her language.

"In boarding-houses the guests object every time it is served, but we
have the great advantage over city boarders whose hash is made merely
with chopped meat and eggs and milk! We have Nature's appetizer to
season our dish, so that it becomes nectar and ambrosia in this camp,"
explained the Captain, smilingly.

The hash went the way of the cereal, and the girls looked anxiously in
the pot to see if there could be a second helping.

"Oh, thanks to our lucky stars and Verny, she made a lot of it!" called
Julie, waving a spoon at her comrades.

"But where is the toast? Verny--the toast is gone!" shouted Joan, gazing
fearfully under the stones to see if it could have slipped from the
oven-rock.

"Ha! that's my secret! Eat the hash, girls, and I will tell you where
the toast is."

It needed no second invitation to finish all signs of hash, then Ruth
demanded to know where the toast was hidden.

The Captain ran over to Ruth and touched the spot where the stomach is
located. "You've had your share of toast and it is in there!" laughed
Mrs. Vernon.

"We haven't! We only had hash!" retorted Ruth, wonderingly.

"The hash was made of toast and other things. I only had about a
spoonful of corned beef left from last night. But toast, when broken
into bits, will taste so like meat that few people know the difference.
That's how I managed to cook a second helping."

"As long as it was not wasted I don't care much whether I ate the toast
in hash or had it with tea," said Julie.

"But I can eat more breakfast," commented Joan.

"'Enough is as good as a feast,' and I'm sure you girls must admit
you've had enough to sustain you until noon," said Mrs. Vernon.

"Oh, certainly!" agreed Joan, "making the best of a famine is my
especial virtue."

This started a laugh, and merry words were exchanged while the dishes
were cleared away and the camp was left in good order.

"Now shall we start in to finish the hut, Verny?" asked Betty.

"I thought I'd like to read aloud from the handbook, 'Scouting for
Girls,' and see how many of the laws and customs you girls know."

"You'll find us in the A-B-C-class, I'm afraid," said Joan.

"Then the sooner you are promoted out of it the better," declared Mrs.
Vernon, seating herself on a stump and opening the manual.

"First question: 'How do you start a Patrol?'" asked the Captain.

"Oh, we know that, Verny, 'cause we had to learn it by heart in order to
advise those girls who wanted to join, you see," chorused the girls.

"Well, then, are we a Patrol now?" asked Mrs. Vernon.

"In the real sense, we are not, as there are only four members at
present; but we are _going_ to be one, aren't we?" said Julie.

"Yes, but until we have eight girls we are not anything on record.
However, we can form our club and then enlist new members to increase
the number to the required total.

"Next it says: 'The Scout Captain who has studied the plan, principles
and object of the organization, explains the laws and obligations of
members to those who wish to form a troop.' I must now take down your
names and addresses in a book, and decide what day or at what time we
wish to hold our regular meetings.

"It says here that fifteen minutes must be spent on knot-tying and
three-quarters of an hour on recreation. So I will now teach you the art
of tying knots. Following this lesson, we will take forty-five minutes
for recreation."

But the fifteen minutes merged into twenty, and still the novitiates
begged to be allowed to "try just one more knot."

"Now I am going to read the Girl Scout Laws from the book, but there
will be no comments, please, until I give the signal," said the Captain,
having taken away the rope for knots, and seated herself upon it to keep
the girls from experimenting.

"'1--If a Scout says "on my honor it is so," that means that what she
says is as true as if she had taken a most solemn oath.

"'2--A Girl Scout is loyal to the President, to her country, and to her
officers; to her father, to her mother, and to her employers. She
remains true to them through thick and thin. In the face of the greatest
difficulties and calamities her loyalty must remain untarnished.

"'3--A Girl Scout's duty is to be useful and to help others. She is to do
her duty before anything else even if she gives up her own pleasure,
safety, or comfort. When in doubt as to which of two things to do she
must think: "Which is my duty?" which means "Which is the best for other
people?" and then do that at once. She must be prepared at any time to
save life or help the injured. She should do at least one good turn to
some one every day.

"'4--A Girl Scout is a Friend to all, and a sister to every other Girl
Scout. Thus, if a Scout meets another Scout, even though a stranger to
her, she may speak to her and help her in any way she can, either to
carry out the duty she is then doing, or by giving her food, or as far
as possible anything she may want. Like Kim, a Scout should be a "Little
friend to all the world.

"'5--A Scout is courteous; that is, she is polite to all. She must not
take any reward for being helpful or courteous.

"'6--A Scout keeps herself pure in thought, word and deed.

"'7--A Scout is a friend to animals; she should save them as far as
possible from pain, and should not kill even the smallest unnecessarily.
They are all God's creatures.

"'8--A Scout obeys orders under all circumstances; when she gets an order
she must obey it cheerfully and readily, not in a slow, sullen manner.
Scouts never grumble, whine nor howl.

"'9--A Scout is cheerful under all circumstances. Scouts never grumble at
hardships, nor whine at each other, nor frown when put out. A Scout goes
about with a smile and singing. It cheers her and cheers other people,
especially in time of danger.

"'10--A Scout is thrifty; this means that a Scout avoids all useless
waste of every kind; she is careful about saving every penny she can put
into the bank so that she may have a surplus in time of need. She sees
that food is not wasted, and that her clothing is cared for properly.
The Girl Scout does not waste time. She realizes that time is the most
precious thing any one of us has. The Girl Scout's time is spent either
in useful occupation or in wholesome recreation, and she tries to
balance these two harmoniously.'

"Now girls, have you any comments to make, for I have read the ten
commandments of the Girl Scout organization, and will hear any testimony
now?" said Mrs. Vernon, laughingly.

"I haven't any comments to make on the reading, but I would like to
remind the illustrious Captain that she forgot a very important part of
the program this morning," said Julie, seriously, albeit there was a
twinkle in her eyes.

"Speak now or forever after hold your peace!" declared Mrs. Vernon, with
a magisterial air.

Every one laughed, but Julie obeyed the command: "You said we would give
fifteen minutes to knot-tying and forty-five to recreation. Now I wish
to ask Your Honor, is this Scout Reading to be considered as
recreation?"

The Captain smiled, and after a few moments' pause said: "I am guilty of
theft. But I plead extenuating circumstances. I forgot what I said about
recreation, and was so over-anxious to have my infant Patrol grounded in
the first lessons of scout duties that I stole time from the hour. Who
is there here just enough to sentence me?"

"We have no jury, but in lieu of a speaker, allow me to speak for
myself: your zeal shall be your excuse, but hereafter see that you do
not commit the same offense," spoke Julie, with a judicial air.

The Captain and girls laughed heartily, and thus ended the first reading
of Scout Laws. Mrs. Vernon closed the book and got up from the knotty
seat of rope, and asked the girls if they had thought of any form of
recreation.

"We still have to be informed by the Court if the time stolen from our
forty-five minutes must be returned or deducted?" countered Julie.

"The Court thinks you should have the full time given you for any useful
recreation--not for foolishness," said Mrs. Vernon.

"Well, would the Court adjudge a good hike to be useful?" demanded Joan.

"The Court most certainly would, and will even offer to accompany the
jury, or whatever body you call yourselves."

"Then it's us for a hike, girls!" cried Joan.

The suggestion met with favor, and soon the newly-made Scouts were
climbing the steep grade of the mountainside. It was more than an hour
before voices were again heard, and Hepsy whinnied as if to ask "What
sort of scouts are you, anyway, to listen to a law read about animals
and how to treat them, and then go away without giving me my breakfast?"

The moment the girls heard the appeal from the mare, they understood and
ran pell-mell to get Hepsy the oats. When she saw they were measuring
out her breakfast, she craned her neck as far as it would stretch, and
pawed the ground impatiently.

Mrs. Vernon held her head with both hands and cried as if in despair:
"Merciful goodness! What sort of a Captain am I to forget our faithful
old scout Hepsy?"

"Will Hepsy get sick now, Verny?" asked Betty, worried.

"No, but she is so famished she may eat me up if I venture near her with
a pail of water! That is all that might happen."

"If she does, there will be a second result, too. Hepsy'll sure have an
awful case of indigestion after dining!" retorted Julie, causing the
others to laugh.

Hepsy was given a long drink and then left to enjoy her oats. While the
animal was feeding, Julie said: "How about the hut?"

"I hope we can finish it to-day, Verny," added Joan.

"You can try at least. Every bit done helps, you know," replied the
Captain.

The old flooring had been scraped clean and the cross-sections that were
too badly decayed were removed. Then the boards taken from the packing
cases were fitted in and nailed down securely. By one o'clock the partly
new floor was finished and cleaned up.

Dinner was suggested before continuing the work, and the campers talked
about roofing the hut while they prepared the meal.

"Now that the floor is finished, two of us ought to begin to carry in
our stock, while the others work on the roof. That will save our
groceries from the moisture or dampness in the ground, you see," said
Mrs. Vernon.

"But we all want to work on the roof--it will be fun," declared Julie.

"In that case, we shall have to draw lots. And after half of the
groceries are moved in by two girls, the others will have to take their
turn while the first two enjoy the roof," suggested the Captain.

"And you--what do you want to do?" asked Ruth.

"I am going to hunt around for any down timbers that we can use for
siding the hut where the old logs have fallen away and rotted on the
ground. I will leave you scouts to work on the roof after your own
plans."

"Oh, but tell us what to use before you go?" cried Betty.

"You'll find a roll of tar paper over there with the supplies. This you
must measure off and cut the required size. Be sure to have it long
enough to turn under the eaves and over at the top."

"How do we nail it down?" asked Joan.

"Lay the strips lengthwise, from ridgepole to eaves, and fasten down
each strip on the old boards. But, girls, do be careful not to break
through those openings in the roof, nor crumble in at any decayed
places!"

"All right--I guess we can remember that much all right," said Julie,
eager to begin.

So Mrs. Vernon left them to see how far they would use their
intelligence in doing this work, while she began seeking along the
woodland road for down tree-trunks of movable length and weight.

She found plenty of timber such as she wanted for the sides of the old
hut, and also to start work on the new one, but she did not return to
camp until four o'clock. When she did, she found two of the girls fast
asleep on the grass, while the other two were in the pool splashing
about.

She went quietly over to the hut, and, to her surprise, found the roof
as neatly finished as if done by an experienced hand. The edges were
turned under and fastened with nails, and the seams lapped just as they
should be. In fact, she was delighted with the workmanship.

Then, too, the boxes of groceries and other goods were neatly stacked in
one corner, so less room was used for storage and more left for personal
use.

"Now I wonder which one of the girls thought this out? It is so natural
for young folks to shove the boxes in and leave them standing about
anywhere. But this proves to me that one of my scouts has a good head
for management of affairs."

The girls swimming about in the pool now caught sight of the Captain,
and scrambled out of the water. They were soon dressed and ran over to
receive Mrs. Vernon's compliments on the work done. The two sleeping
ones also sat up, rubbed their eyes, and laughed.

"When did you get back, Verny?" yawned Ruth.

"Just now; but, girls, I have seen the hut, and you surely have done
fine work!" exclaimed the Captain, turning to admire the roof again.

While her head was turned, four girls exchanged knowing winks, but their
faces were as serious as ever when Mrs. Vernon's eyes searched theirs
keenly.

"We thought you'd be pleased, Verny. But what kept you so long?" said
Julie.

"I found enough wood for a new hut, and then I sat down on a log and
sketched a working plan for the sections of the building you propose
erecting.

"You see this rocky wall that rises back of the old hut?" the Captain
pointed to the lines she had drawn on the paper. "Well, we will use that
for a back wall against which our new hut can brace itself. The wall of
the old hut can supply one side of the new building, and we can extend
the roof on the same lines as the old one, along over the new hut."

"Oh, yes, that's a fine idea!" cried Joan.

"And that will save us hauling the wood and building up one whole side,
won't it?" asked Betty.

"Yes, but it also makes a two-room house of the two huts, see?" and Mrs.
Vernon displayed another plan she had drawn on paper.

"I think I like it better than having two separate huts, Verny," said
Julie.

"And we can use the wood we might have built into the one side of the
hut for a shed for Hepsy. Can't we go right on extending the house and
build the lean-to to the end of the new hut, just as we plan hooking the
new addition on to the old hut?" asked Joan.

The original way in which the description was worded caused a general
laugh, but Joan never worried about laughter when it was in fun. She
always said, "Well, if it gives any one any satisfaction to laugh at me,
I'm glad to accommodate them so cheaply. It doesn't hurt one."

"Joan's idea is good, and we will follow it as soon as we finish the
frame of the new hut," said Mrs. Vernon.

"We were thinking of moving your cot-bed into the old hut, Verny, but
then we decided to wait and see if you would like it," now suggested
Betty.

"You see, we were a bit crowded last night in the tent, and we thought
you would like some privacy of your own. Being in the old hut might
appeal to your sentimentality," added Julie.

Another laugh rang out, but this time at Mrs. Vernon's expense. She
sighed and posed as a sentimental maiden might, and simpered her thanks
for the scouts' forethought. Then they laughed again.

"Now all joking aside, girls! I appreciate your thought and will gladly
move my hotel-suite to the hut. At least I shall be near the crackers
and prunes if I feel hungry at night," declared Mrs. Vernon.

She then called the girls to assist her in moving her effects from the
tent to the hut, and as they went back and forth the Captain could not
refrain from again voicing her gratification at the manner in which the
scouts finished their first carpentry work.

"If you were fully-fledged scouts of record, you surely would be awarded
a badge."

Behind her back, as she said this, the Captain's four carpenters again
exchanged smiles and knowing winks.



CHAPTER SEVEN

HEPSY JOINS THE SCOUTS' UNION


The next morning, after breakfast dishes were cleared away, the Captain
said: "Now we will give a few minutes to reading our Scout Handbook, and
then practice some new knots. After that we can choose our recreation."

"I don't want to waste any more time on recreation until our new hut is
built," declared Joan.

"Neither do any one of us, Verny," added Julie.

"Well, if that is the general wish, we can work on the hut and call it
recreation, you know," answered Mrs. Vernon.

The moment the knots and reading were finished, they all ran over to the
tool-chest to select whatever implements they might need. Mrs. Vernon
handed out a spade and a pick, but no one took advantage of them.

"What are they for?" asked Ruth.

"We will have to divide the work as we did yesterday. Two can dig the
cellar while two haul timbers for the hut."

"Dig cellar! You haven't any cellar under yours," returned Joan, amazed.

"But we have! Do you suppose those timbers and flooring would have
lasted as long as this if we hadn't excavated a pit under them. The hole
may have filled up with leaves and dried wood material, but all the
earth was cleaned out by digging a cellar at least three feet deep. This
gave ventilation and kept our things from mildewing."

"Why don't we all dig foundations, then, and finish it so much the
sooner?" asked Julie.

"You'll find it isn't the easiest work to stoop over with a pick or
spade and move earth that is filled with heavy stones. Your backs will
ache in a short time, and you'll grow tired of the task. Then I propose
exchanging those weary ones for two fresh diggers," explained the
Captain. "Turn and turn about keeps one from feeling any monotony in the
work."

"All right--send Ruth and Joan off for the first haul of logs," replied
Julie, resignedly.

"But I'd rather dig, Julie, and let you two go for wood," declared Ruth.

"Ha, ha, ha! You're so contradictory! That's just what I hoped you'd
say! 'Cause I'd lots rather drive Hepsy down the hill and hitch her up
to the logs she's got to haul!" exclaimed Julie, exultantly.

Ruth said nothing but took the spade and started for the newly staked
out cellar of the hut. Joan scowled and followed, but she wanted to join
Julie in hauling the logs. Betty understood and ran up to exchange work
with her.

"I'd be a poor scout if I didn't dig alongside Ruth when it's my job!"
returned Joan, when Betty said she would exchange.

"But we all will have to dig and take turns, so what difference will it
make, Joan dear, if I dig now or later?" argued Betty.

"Don't you really care whether you work with Ruth or Julie?" asked Joan,
skeptically, because she liked to be with Julie.

"It's all the same to me, as long as we build the house," returned
Betty, taking the pick and thrusting a hook into Joan's willing hands.

"What's this for?" wondered she.

"Verny says we have to use it to move the timber."

"Great! Well, as long as you don't mind, Betty, I'll run away and find
Julie."

"I can't budge a spadeful of this hard ground, Betty," complained Ruth,
as her companion joined her.

"Oh, not in that way, Ruth. You'll have to remove all the roots and
weeds first, and that will help break up the hardened soil, you know;
'cause the brush-roots run down real deep, you see."

"But I just hate weeding, Betty; can't I dig it up without doing that
extra work?"

"You tried just now and said it was awfully hard! I am going to weed
mine first, and then dig it up."

So saying, wise Betty weeded a patch and then used the pick with which
to break up the ground. This done, she took the spade and, to Ruth's
great surprise, the loosened earth came up readily. The energetic young
scout had made good progress in this work before Mrs. Vernon came over
to inspect the task.

Ruth raised no further objections when she saw how easy the digging was
for Betty; so she weeded, too, and followed her chum's example. Soon she
found the work was not nearly as hard as she had thought it would be.
But that is because she had not stopped to complain or think how hard it
was _going_ to be--she forgot all this in watching and working as Betty
did.

Julie and Joan followed Mrs. Vernon as she led Hepsy down the slope to
the spot where the cut timbers were piled up. Here she showed the girls
how to attach the chain and tackle to a log, and then to hook the chain
to Hepsy's harness.

The strong horse willingly started up the hill and dragged the long log
up to the site where the hut was to be. One girl drove Hepsy carefully
to avoid ruts and snags which might catch the log and thus yank Hepsy up
suddenly and perhaps injure her. The other girl had to follow in the
wake of the log to see that it did not roll or twist out of the pathway,
causing a ruthless tearing at bushes and flowers along the way.

The two girls who were digging found it quite tiresome to lean over so
constantly. When they stood erect to stretch their back muscles, their
bones felt as if they would crack. Ruth complained of her aches long
before the Captain joined them.

Then Mrs. Vernon said: "Ah! I think I was wise in telling you girls to
take turns about. Now I will signal for the two timber-jacks to exchange
work with you."

When the two girls hauling timber responded to the call, they seemed
right glad to exchange labor with the excavators.

"You'll find this digging a pit is simply awful, girls!" exclaimed Ruth,
pretending she could not straighten her backbone.

"It can't be a patch on the job we've been doing!" cried Joan, looking
at her hands with pity in her eyes.

"That's right! When you've had to steer or roll a log a mile long,
you'll have something to say about hard work!" added Julie.

"One would think, after hearing you girls, that you were too soft and
delicate to proceed further in your scout tests," said Mrs. Vernon
seriously. That stopped all complaints instantly.

But Ruth could not help adding: "Girl scouts never work like this in
camp--I'm sure of it."

"Girl scouts would never call _this_ hard work! They'd laugh at any one
for hinting at such a thing. And you'll do the same thing before the
summer's over," said Mrs. Vernon.

"Ah well! Let's prepare for the end of the summer, girls," sighed Julie,
ludicrously.

"Come on, Ruth--take the reins from Julie and let's start," said Betty,
taking the hook and starting down the road.

"By the time you two girls get back here, Betty, we'll show you how you
should dig a cellar," retorted Julie. "Why, you only managed to dig up a
square yard in all this time. You should have had half of the pit
finished."

Betty and Ruth smiled at each other and nodded their heads wisely, then
ran off to help Hepsy with the logs. Mrs. Vernon smiled also as she saw
that each couple would soon learn that nothing is easy until one learns
how to do it right. Then, when that time comes, it generally happens
that one is forced to go higher to a new task. And so on, eternally, for
this is progress and growth.

By the time the horn sounded for another change of work, both diggers
and haulers were glad to exchange back again. Mrs. Vernon was busy about
dinner, for she said such hard labor deserved hearty meals. And the
girls agreed absolutely with her on that statement.

"I say! I'll never find fault with your digging again, Betsy," said
Julie meekly, as she displayed about eighteen inches square of dug-out
cellar, and a row of water-blisters on her hand.

Betty laughed at her sister, but the work continued until the cellar was
dug deep enough and a mass of timbers was waiting to be used. As they
stood admiring their morning's work, Betty said:

"I think Hepsy is the best scout of all."

"Why?" asked the other girls.

"Just see how she worked! She hauled and hauled, and never asked to
exchange for an easier job. And all the time she worked she never
complained once of an aching back or tired muscles. Yet I am sure she
wanted to kick mightily now and then."

A roar of laughter greeted her last words, and Betty guilelessly asked:
"_Now_ what have I said--what is the matter with you girls?"

The call to dinner quickly changed the current of their thoughts,
however, and once seated about the stone table, they fell to with a will
never manifested for plain cookery at home.

"We ought to be able to lay the floor logs and get the corner posts up
this afternoon," suggested Joan.

"I was going to propose a hike downhill in the opposite direction from
the one we took yesterday," said the Captain. "Then, when we return, a
good swim will refresh us all for supper."

"Oh, yes, we've worked enough for one day," said Ruth.

When the scouts were ready to start for the hike, Mrs. Vernon showed
them a note-book. "I'm going to have you take down notes on the flowers,
trees, or birds we find on these hikes. This will prove very desirable
practice when you are admitted as a Troop."

They started off, while Hepsy stood leisurely nosing at her dinner of
oats. This reminded Julie of the funny saying by Betty just before
dinner, and she now repeated it to the Captain.

"I meant, you know, Verny, that Hepsy must have had stiff joints from
all that hauling yet she never kicked once to straighten out the kinks,"
explained Betty, when Julie finished.

"I doubt whether Hepsy felt as tired as you think she did. You must
remember that her spine is almost parallel with the ground over which
she has to pull her loads, and having four legs on which to balance
herself, makes it easier than only having two. The chain and tackle also
simplified the work for Hepsy, but we can't say as much of the hauling
an Indian Squaw has to do.

"Why, the poor squaws do all the lifting and moving of their camps,
through forests, over rough land, and even carrying their papooses in
the bargain. They, too, drag their burdens in a sort of 'cradle' that is
hitched to their waists by means of two leather traces."

"Oh, the poor creatures!" exclaimed ever-ready, sympathetic Betty.

"I'm thankful I'm not an Indian female!" declared Julie, with such
earnestness that the others laughed.

After the usual scout reading from the Handbook the next morning, the
girls hurried to work because they were anxious to see their hut built
and finished. The ardor of accomplishment was beginning to fill their
souls.

That day the cross-beams of the floor were laid and securely fastened at
the corners. Then the other logs were sawed and notched for the
corner-posts. It was impossible to split the timber for rafters, so the
Captain advised the use of smaller tree-trunks for this purpose.

"What shall we do to keep out the rain or wild animals?" asked Ruth,
seeing that no windows had been provided for the old hut.

"We can hang up water-proof canvas in the windows if it rains, but I
have an idea for a door that I want to work on to-morrow," replied the
Captain.

The carpentry now went steadily on, and without friction, as each one
was anxious to see a finished hut. They were tremendously interested in
their work, too, and that always makes a task easy.

Mrs. Vernon superintended everything, and demonstrated a wonderful
knowledge of woodcraft. Then, whenever the carpenters were cheerfully
working without her help, she turned to her own plans. These had
occasioned curious comment from the four girls, because they could not
see what could be built with a lot of short boards which had been taken
from the boxes.

"You'll see when I'm through," replied the Captain to all their
questions.

The scouts worked so industriously that the new side walls were
completed, and they were eager to begin work on the roof. The hut was
much longer than the old one, but its width was the same, as it used the
end wall of the old hut for one side of its own.

The meeting of the two front walls of the huts, however, had been a
problem. The scouts could not figure out how to nail any boards or logs
to a corner post already used for that purpose. But Julie thought out a
scheme.

"We'll leave that meeting place in front, for the door. Then we'll use a
post for the other side of our door, and begin _there_ with the wall."

This was hailed as a fine idea, so they tried it. But the door-lintel
was not as secure as it might be, and the girls dodged in and out to
avoid having it come down upon their heads should it topple. They had no
doubt but that it _would_ fall in sooner or later.

"We're all ready for a roof, Verny, and don't know where to find any
wood for rafters or ridgepole," said Joan, when the Captain walked over
to pass judgment upon the structure.

"That's a dangerous looking lintel, girls."

"Best we could do with what we had," replied Ruth.

"The material is all right, but the construction is careless. Now I have
finished my door, but I wouldn't dare swing it from that frame,"
continued the Captain.

"Oh, were you building a door of those boards?" asked the girls.

"Yes, and I feel quite proud of it, too. Come and see it."

The door was made of boards all the same lengths and thickness but of
different widths. So Mrs. Vernon had grouped them to have all the wide
boards at top and bottom of the door, and the others graduating in
widths until a narrow center one was reached. This made a pretty effect.

They were all securely fastened to a frame made of rough planks, but
this frame would be on the inside so it would not be seen. "We can hang
a drapery, or some vines on this back to hide the unsightly frame," said
the Captain.

Heavy leather hinges were secured to the back edge of the door, and a
latch and handle made of some sheet iron, were bent and cut to fit.

"How did you ever do that without a blacksmith?" asked Joan.

"I played my own blacksmith while you were on your hike this morning. I
heated an old piece of wagon-tire and hammered it flat, then heated it
red-hot and cut it with tools I found in the box."

"All right, Verny! You shall take the prize this time," Julie commended
heartily.

"But that doesn't give us a roof or rafters," said Ruth.

"I have them all ready for you. I remembered them to-day when I
inspected your work," said Mrs. Vernon, leading the way down to the
buckboard.

"Help me lift the seats off," ordered the Captain.

This was done, and the curious girls then saw Mrs. Vernon pry out some
small wooden wedges and lo! a board came from the floor of the
buckboard. But stay! It was not _from_ the floor, but one of the extra
boards that had been laid down to form a double flooring.

Several boards were thus removed, and then it was found that the
original floor of the buckboard was as good as ever.

"Why did you have another floor laid?" asked Julie.

"Jim suggested that we might need a few boards for see-saws, or some
other fun, so he fitted these down over the real bottom of the
buckboard. I forgot about them until I found your need of just such
boards for your roof."

"They're not very thick or heavy," said Joan, doubtfully.

"You don't want them heavy for a roof. The lighter the better, as long
as they are steady and secure."

The boards were carried up to the new hut, and found to be several
inches too long for the roof.

"That's an error on the right side, if there can be such a 'bull,'" said
Mrs. Vernon. "For now you can have overhanging eaves instead of having
the roof come flush with the sides."

"We haven't half enough of these boards for a roof, if we propose
covering it with tar-paper as we did the old hut," said Julie.

"We only need enough to form bases for us to nail the laths to. You will
find a large bundle of laths in the material Jim sent out by the Freedom
delivery-wagon. The laths are easy to nail down and then the paper goes
over that, you know."

So the roof was finally completed, but it was not as neat and exact as
the work on the old roof, so Mrs. Vernon wondered! The week had gone by
and the next day would be Sunday, but the scouts grumbled at the forced
vacation.

"Dear me! I was sure we would be through building and ready to play by
this time," complained Joan.

"I think you have accomplished wonders this week. I thought it would
take us two weeks, at least, to build this new hut," said Mrs. Vernon.

"If we hadn't had such glorious weather perhaps it might have taken us
that long," said Betty. "But the wood was all dry, and we had no delays
in any way."

"I think the door is the best-looking thing about the whole place," said
Julie, with head on one side, admiring the craftsman's work.

"That commendation makes me yearn to try other ideas," laughed the
Captain.

"Maybe you are thinking of building a cobblestone chimney in our house,"
laughed Julie.

"Why didn't we think of it in time! We could have had one as easy as
anything!" exclaimed Mrs. Vernon.

"Are you joking?" asked the girls.

"No, but now we must see where we could have it. I am afraid we will
have to lean it up in the corner against the stone-wall at the back of
the hut."

The girls laughed at this, for now they were sure Mrs. Vernon was only
fooling them.



CHAPTER EIGHT

SUNDAY VISITORS


Sunday morning was so fine that the scouts declared it was too bad they
couldn't finish the hut, as they felt so full of energy. Mrs. Vernon
laughed, and said: "Bottle it up for Monday."

"But there isn't anything we can do on a day like this," said Ruth,
plaintively.

"Oh, yes, there is. Girl scouts can hike, visit, or do any of the
recreations suitable for Sunday. It does not say that we must sit down
and pull long faces," replied Joan.

"Well, what would you do, Verny?" Ruth asked of the Captain.

"First of all I would eat my breakfast and hasten to clear away all
signs of it from camp."

"Second the motion!" laughed Julie.

"Oh, pshaw! Of course we will do that, but _you_ know what I mean--after
breakfast," Ruth retorted.

"If we want something quiet to do, we might sketch that signboard on a
sheet of paper. I brought heavy paper and pencils. But should we want to
go for a long walk, we can do the designing any time. Then there is our
Scout Handbook to read--I really want you to become familiar with the
rules and customs of the scouts," said the Captain, seriously.

"Suppose we have you read first of all, then go for a walk, and then if
we are tired we can sit down and plan that sign," suggested Julie.

So immediately after the breakfast things were cleared away, the group
sat down beside the waterfall and Mrs. Vernon read.

"On page 9 of the Handbook you will find this important information--it
follows directly after the tenth law of Girl Scouts:

"'Self-Improvement'

"'A Great Law of Life.'

"'One of the most fundamental laws of life is that, in the natural
course of things, the influence of women over men is vastly greater than
that of men over one another.

"'This is what gives to girls and women a peculiar power and
responsibility, for no Girl Scout or other honorable woman--whether young
or old--could use her influence as a woman excepting to strengthen the
characters and to support the honor of the men and boys with whom she
comes in contact.

"'This great law is nothing to make a girl feel proud or superior to
men; but, on the contrary, the understanding of it should make her
humble and watchful to be faithful to her trust.

"'Be prepared, therefore, to do a true woman's full duty to her men by
never allowing the desire for admiration to rule your actions, words, or
thoughts. Our country needs women who are prepared.

"'Prepared for what?

"'To do their duty.'"

Mrs. Vernon paused here and looked at the girls. "I did not read the
full text on that article, because I want you each to buy a Handbook and
study it yourself. I find there are so many fine thoughts expressed in
this book that I doubt whether it is wise of me to read them aloud to
you while your minds are filled with the novelty of camp-life. It may
not have the lasting impression it should."

"What comes next, Verny--anything about what scouts do on Sunday?"
inquired Joan.

The Captain smiled as it was evident that the girls were more concerned
in doing what they were told scouts might do on Sundays, than they were
in hearing about the ideals and aspirations of the scout order.

"I now have to turn back to page four, where it says: 'It is not meant
that Girl Scouts should play or work on Sunday, but that they may take
walks where they can carry on a study of plants and animals.' This is
all it says regarding Sunday occupation. So I suppose the organizers
deemed it wisest to leave it to the discretion of the Captains and
scouts in each individual group," commented Mrs. Vernon.

"If that is all the book declares we have to do, then we are at liberty
to obey the rule and yet have lots of ways of passing the day," said
Joan.

"I should say that reading rules and lessons from the Handbook was
considered work," hinted Ruth.

"Then we won't have any more of that kind of work," laughed the Captain,
closing the book emphatically.

"Good gracious, Ruth! Reading isn't work--particularly if the reading
matter is wholesome as Girl Scout lessons must be. I should as soon say
that listening to the preacher at church is not considered Sunday
business, just because he lectures on certain interesting subjects
connected with the Scriptures," argued Julie.

"Oh, really, you make a 'mountain out of a mole-hill,' Julie, every time
I open my mouth," retorted Ruth, impatiently.

But the Captain interrupted this conversation before it gathered any
added criticism, by saying: "I want to make a note for a bit of work to
be attended to first thing in the morning, and then we will start for a
nice walk.

"I find there are a great many wide crevices between the logs of the
hut, where rain and insects can enter; especially is this so at the back
wall where the timbers rest against the rocky side of the cliff.

"To obviate this discrepancy in building with uneven logs, we can fill
in the chinks with clay. When that hardens it will act like a solid
cement between the logs.

"I prowled about yesterday and found a place down on the bank of the
stream, where the clay was of the kind we need to use. We will bring
some of it up to camp to-morrow, and after mixing it with water and
sand, fill in the cracks in the walls. As it is now, should there be a
heavy rain that would wash the water down over the cliff, the floods
will pour in through the chinks of the log wall that is built against
the rocks and run over the floor of your house."

"We'll attend to that first thing, as you say, Verny; but let's hurry
up, now, and get started for our walk," Joan said.

After they had been walking for an hour or more, trying to name the
various birds they saw, or tell about the peculiarities of woodland
plants they found, Mrs. Vernon thought they had better start back for
camp.

"It is only half an hour to our usual dinner-hour, and it will take us
that long to reach camp. Before we have our Sunday dinner cooked it will
be an hour later than our usual time on week-days."

"At least we will be fashionable, then," laughed Julie. "Every one has
dinner an hour later on Sundays--that's why the men always complain."

"It isn't because of style, Julie, but you know the men-folks never
_will_ get up on Sunday mornings, and that sets back all the work. 'Liza
says she's going to strike altogether about cooking Sunday dinners
unless every one will get up just as they do on week-days," explained
Betty, conscientiously.

Her long harangue was greeted with appreciative laughter, but Betty
looked from one to the other questioningly. Julie ran over and gave her
a hug, and cried: "Her was a dear little lamb, so her was!"

They were quite near camp when Joan happened to remember that she had
forgotten to place the water-cress in the pan of water to keep it fresh.

"Too late to cry over it now," said Julie. "It will be so wilted that
we'll have to throw it away."

"That leaves us without a salad as we had expected," Ruth complained.

"Why didn't _you_ put it in water, then! You manage to find fault with
everything that goes wrong, but I notice that you seldom do anything
yourself!" snapped Joan.

"Girls! I hear people talking--the sound comes from our camp-grounds!"
exclaimed Mrs. Vernon, stopping to hold up a hand for silence.

Every one stopped short and listened. Sure enough--there was a mingling
of many voices.

"Some one from Freedom using our camp?" wondered Ruth.

"More likely a regiment of visitors!" said Joan.

"That's just about it! All our families and relatives unto the third and
fourth generation thereof," laughed Julie.

"Perhaps they came for dinner!" gasped Mrs. Vernon, her sense of
hospitality having a chill when she thought of the dinner for five only.

"If they didn't bring their own dinners, they'll have to sit and watch
us eat ours," declared Ruth.

The hikers hastened to reach camp after this, and the first glance
caused them to catch hold of each other for support. There, in
possession of their sacred precincts, was such a crowd of family and
friends that it seemed there could be little room for the real owners.

"Did you ever! I think they might, at least, have asked if they would be
welcome!" cried Ruth, with annoyance.

"They must have missed us a lot," laughed Julie.

The visitors now spied the scouts, and John gave a shout. "Hello! Did we
surprise you? This was my idea, girls!"

"I thought so! It's just like you," retorted Julie.

But every one was glad to see every one else, even if the surprise party
was a genuine one for the campers. Hand-shakings and family embraces
took at least ten minutes before hosts and guests began to think of
other things.

"Had you only sent word, we might have prepared dinner," began Mrs.
Vernon in apology.

"Oh, we took care of all that," laughed Eliza, who was in charge of the
camp-fire, with John, and Joan's brothers, to help.

This attracted the Captain's eyes to her stove. There, on the stone-oven
stood several large kettles, and others hung on the pole over the fire.

The sight was such a relief that Mrs. Vernon's knees weakened and she
sat down on the table-rock to collect herself. The visitors all laughed
at her expression, and the girl scouts brightened suddenly.

"Well, you certainly showed some sense!" exclaimed Joan.

Every one laughed again. And Betty said in excuse: "You see we ran low
for dinners this week 'cause we used so much time in building our house.
Did you see it?"

A loud chorus of approval and admiration came from the relatives who
felt a great pride in the achievements of their girls. But the mothers
looked anxiously at the daughters when they heard Betty speak of
scarcity in the larder. Still the girl scouts showed no symptoms of
starvation. They looked fine and must have added a pound each to their
weight.

"I rather thought such would be the case, with your camp so far from a
store, so we brought a stock of food for this week," said Mrs. Bentley.

"Now that is great, mother, because we can take that much more time in
building a stable for Hepsy," cried Ruth, with real gratitude shining in
her eyes.

"Hepsy! Have you got that old nag here?" laughed John.

"What did you bring her for?" wondered May.

"To do the chores in camp," retorted Julie, laughingly.

"What would we have done without her?" sighed Joan, as she remembered
the hauling of the logs.

Then the girls explained how they constructed the hut and what part
Hepsy played in the work. They enlarged on the picnics and drives they
were going to have, with Hepsy to furnish the motive power.

The boys listened to the first part of the talk, but not being one of
the party that expected to have the fine outings, they lost interest and
ran off to see if dinner was ready.

John came racing back, crying aloud so all could hear: "'Liza says
you're all to sit down on the grass and hold your plates while's she
passes the soup-kettle and serves you!"

"Where are the dishes?" asked the girls of Mrs. Vernon, as John spoke.

"They must have brought them. I see May and your father over there,
carrying a wash-basket," whispered Mrs. Vernon.

So it was. And as each visitor was handed a soup-plate, the advice was
given out at the same time: "You've got to use the same plate and spoon
for every other course, so don't look for clean dishes hereafter."

The boys helped Eliza serve the soup, and when all were engaged in
eating, one of the visitors remarked: "We saw quantities of wild
strawberries down by the mountain-road as we walked by."

"Whereabouts? We'll pick them to-morrow for dinner," said Joan, eagerly.

The locality was carefully described, and the girls noted it for future
investigation. There was so much laughing and talking after this that
many of the young people forgot what they had for dinner. However, Eliza
had provided enough for all, and the scouts were relieved of any
responsibility thereby.

"We're not going to spend the afternoon," May said to the scouts after
dinner, "we just thought to surprise you and have dinner, then start for
home again."

Mrs. Allison added, as May finished speaking, "Yes, and we mothers felt
sure you would be homesick after one week of camping. But I think we
were the only ones feeling lonely. You seem to have had plenty to do to
keep you from wanting to come back."

"Don't worry about our feeling forlorn or homesick, mother. If we can
break away from here when September comes, we'll be satisfied," replied
Joan.

Then Mr. Lee stood up on a stump and shouted: "Folks, it's about time to
start back to the conventional ways of living. But before we go we ought
to thank our hostesses for this good time. I only wish I was a girl
scout with a summer in camp before me!"

Every one clapped and, at a signal, gave three cheers for the Captain
and her scouts. Then dishes were collected in the big basket, kettles
stacked up in the hamper, and the visitors started down the road.

Eliza drew Mrs. Vernon aside and whispered: "You'll find a lot of stuff
I brought for cookin' this week. We got a peck of onions from a farmer,
so I measured out half for youse. I found I could spare a large measure
of pertaters, too, and you'll find them with th' onions.

"I made a cake fer Sunday's supper fer you-all, and the jar of cookies I
promised every week. Seein' as how there ain't no way fer a butcher to
reach you, I packed up the roast lamb left from yesterday, and a slice
of steak ready to be fried."

"Oh, Eliza! what a wonderful fairy you are! Now we will have enough meat
and bones to last a week. I won't waste a morsel!" Mrs. Vernon promised.

The scouts had accompanied their visitors down the road, so Mrs. Vernon
now walked with Eliza, a short distance behind the crowd. As they went,
the maid laughingly explained:

"That was why I insisted on servin' the dinner. Mis' Bentley and Mis'
Allison wanted to help, but I knew they wouldn't be careful of
left-overs like I would. And glad I am I did!

"Why do you know, Mis' Vernon, there's enough salad dressin' left in a
bowl in the store-room hut to last a week. An' soup, too, fer supper
to-night fer all of you. Sandwitches--my! you kin eat sandwitches for
three days' runnin'. Every speck of good cake what wasn't teched, I put
carefully in the tin cracker-box, and many a snack the girls kin have
between meals by that cake."

"Eliza, I will tell the girls all you just told me, and I know they will
be delighted. _I_ will thank you now, for them, as they will be busy
saying good-by to every one after we join them."

"That's all right, Mis' Vernon. Don't bother about thanks, 'cause it is
my bis'ness to look after them girls' meals, anyway."

But Mrs. Vernon thought how few maids of the present day thought as
Eliza did. Would it not be to their own interests to consider their
"business" a little more and thus win the gratitude and appreciation of
the family?

The visitors had come out in large jitneys hired for the afternoon, and
when every one was crowded in and the two heavy autos were about to
start, Mrs. Vernon exclaimed:

"The next time you visit us, it will be at our invitation and expense.
We will cook the dinner for the next picnic!"

And Julie shouted in addition to the invitation: "Yes, but we'll only
invite you in installments--not such a crowd at one time."



CHAPTER NINE

THE CABINET MAKERS


When the last cloud of dust told the scout girls that their friends had
disappeared down the road, they turned to the Captain. Julie evidently
had an idea she wished to express.

"Now that we have time, let's find that strawberry field and gather some
for supper. It is allowable on Sunday, isn't it?"

"If it's for use and not for pleasure, it is right," said the Captain.

"Well, one can't exactly say it is for use, as one can do without
berries; but they will taste mighty good with 'Liza's cake, you know,"
laughed Joan.

"And we can honestly say they are not for pleasure," added Betty.

"They are for gustatory pleasures," teased Mrs. Vernon.

"Girls! Seeing our Captain is so particular, suppose we exempt her from
any obligation she fears we might incur by picking berries on Sunday. I
say, we will gather the fruit on our own responsibility but she shall
not eat of that forbidden fruit, either," declared Julie, but at this
point she was interrupted by Mrs. Vernon.

"Oh, no, indeed! As your guardian and Captain, I cannot have you eat
berries on Sunday unless I, too, participate!"

With this form of banter they passed the time until the clearing in the
woods was found where the berries grew in thick profusion.

"Oh, my! what a lot of them!" exclaimed the girls, as they jumped the
deep ditch and fell to picking the luscious fruit.

"U-mm! Verny, you never tasted anything so delicious!" called Julie to
the Captain who was seeking a safe spot to cross to the berry-patch.

After a silent time during which every one seemed hard at work, Mrs.
Vernon stood up and called out: "How many quarts have you ready for
supper, girls?"

Julie also stood up and laughed: "I am not sure how many quarts I can
hold, but there is still room for some more."

"We haven't any other holder to put the fruit in--that's why I am eating
mine," said Ruth, in self-defense.

"You'll not be able to say that in another few minutes. Now begin to
pick and save the berries until I come again," said the Captain, going
over to a clump of white birches.

"I know what: she's going to strip some bark and make cornucopias for us
to use," explained Joan, as she saw Mrs. Vernon tear strips from the
trees.

And that is just what she did. Each girl was given a deep cornucopia and
soon the holders were full of berries. As each one had eaten plentifully
of the fruit, as well, they were ready to start up the road again.

"Girls, we can gather berries to eat every day and still have plenty to
can," said the Captain, as they neared the camp.

"To can! how could we can any out here in the woods?"

"I'll show you. To-morrow when the man comes from Freedom for our
Tuesday order, I will tell him to bring us a box of fruit jars. Then we
will experiment on the berries. Wild fruit always is much sweeter than
the cultivated kind."

"I've been wondering what we can give our visitors for a dinner, should
we try to cook for them without asking for supplies from home?" ventured
Betty, who had been rather silent during the walk to camp.

"I believe we can find enough good things right in the woods to give
them, without falling back upon any store-food at all," replied Mrs.
Vernon.

The girls looked amazed, and Ruth said laughingly: "Then they'll have to
eat grass!"

"You wait and see! When I explain my menu you will be gratified, I
think," said the Captain.

It was found that Eliza had left enough soup in a pan so that, with
heating, it was sufficient for supper. That, with the cake and berries,
quite satisfied the girls. Then seated about the embers of the
night-fire, they planned for work on the morrow.

Monday morning, as soon as the usual work was finished, the campers
began to mix the clay cement for the walls. Filling up the crevices kept
them busy till noon, and then they were eager to get through with the
dinner and start on something new.

"Now that your new abode is finished, I wonder how you would like to
fill it with furniture," suggested Mrs. Vernon.

"Furniture! We haven't any here, and I doubt if our folks can spare
anything they might have," Joan replied.

"I meant for you to make it," responded the Captain.

"Make it--what of, boxes like those in the magazine?" said Julie,
laughingly.

"You _almost_ guessed my plan! If you come with me, girls, I'll show you
what I mean."

Amazed but curious, the scouts followed Mrs. Vernon to the place where
various boxes and barrels still waited to be used. These were examined
and sorted by the Captain, then each girl was given one to carry up to
the plateau beside the camp-ground.

"Seems to me I remember reading about that Box Furniture, once," said
Joan, dropping her burden upon the ground.

"We'll see if we can remember well enough to apply it now," replied the
Captain. "First I'll take this barrel. I'll saw it halfway through the
center, like this."

Mrs. Vernon then sawed and sawed until half the staves, where she had
carefully drawn a pencil-line about the center of them, fell from one
side and left the other halves attached to one head end.

"See it now!" exclaimed she, standing the barrel on end. "That half
where the staves are left will be the curved back of my easy-chair."

The barrel-head which she had removed carefully from the end, that now
was the top back of the chair, was secured upon the sawed staves to the
center of the barrel and fastened to the back to make a seat. Then the
remaining hoops were fastened securely to hold the bottom from
spreading.

"Now girls, if we had material to cushion it and pad the back, don't you
think it would be comfortable?" said Mrs. Vernon.

The girls laughed appreciatively, and declared it was fine! Then Julie
had an inspiration.

"Verny, I've got just the upholstery goods for the cushions!"

The captain smiled for she wondered if this scout had thought of the
same material she had planned to use later.

"What is it?" demanded the other girls.

"We'll take the burlap bag that came with Hepsy's oats, die it with some
vegetable or wood dye, and stuff it with excelsior that came packed
about the pans."

"Oh, Julie! How did you ever think of it?" cried Betty, admiringly.

"Just what I would have said, had you not found it out first!" declared
Mrs. Vernon.

"But I don't know where to find any dyes," admitted the scout.

"I'll tell you of some later. Now I wonder if you girls want to use the
large barrel and copy my chair. Yours will be larger, however, as my
chair was only a half-barrel size, you know."

Being only too anxious to copy Verny's chair, the four girls began work
with a will. They took turns in sawing through the staves, even as they
had been advised to do in building the hut, and this spared their
muscles feeling lame or tired from the movement of the arm while sawing
the hard wood.

"I'll leave you now to finish the chair, while I hunt along the mountain
trail to find certain dye materials," said the Captain, as the work on
the chair progressed finely.

But the barrel-chair was finished before Mrs. Vernon returned. "I
couldn't find a thing that would do. I hunted most thoroughly, too. You
see, it is too early for walnuts--if they were ripe we could stain the
wood and burlaps a fine brown. Then I looked for different wild plants
that will dye things, but there were none."

"Verny, Eliza colors our Easter eggs with onion peel. I see you have a
lot of onions in the store-room, but I am not sure they will color
burlap," said Betty.

"Just the thing, Betty! How wonderful of you to remember it. We will
boil the skins until the water is a deep brown-orange and then we will
try it on the burlap."

The onions had to be peeled, and this was not a pleasant task, as eyes
began to weep and the girls had to sniffle as they skinned the onions,
but they were determined to finish their upholstery work as long as they
had started it.

The onion peels were placed over a fire to simmer slowly and the girls
then went to work on the excelsior filling for the cushions. Meantime,
Mrs. Vernon cut the burlap the required sizes to fit the seats of the
chairs, and also cut oval panels for the backs.

Well, the onion peel dyed the material a soft ochre color, and was tried
on the barrel-wood too. But it failed to stain that. The cushions were
tacked down with small tacks, and the chairs looked most inviting to the
manufacturers.

[Illustration: _The cushions were tacked down with small tacks_]

Each scout took a turn in trying the chairs, and each pronounced them
most luxurious, but Mrs. Vernon withheld such high praise as "luxury,"
saying instead "They're hard as rocks!"

"_Now_ what can we build?" asked Ruth, showing intense interest in this
form of occupation.

Mrs. Vernon laughed. "Do you want to begin something else?"

"Might as well, Verny. The hut has to be furnished now, as long as you
have launched us along that line," Julie replied, laughingly.

"A table is easy to build, but you have to cut down the material for the
legs."

"Where do table-legs grow--we'll cut them down," returned Joan,
comically.

"Wherever you find small birch-trees growing thickly together, you can
cut one out. Never chop down a tree that stands alone, as it will mean
shelter and shade in time to come. But a small tree can always be
spared, if there are several growing in a group. The others will fare
better for the thinning out."

"How many shall we cut?" now asked Betty.

"Bring four, each one about two inches in diameter. We will use the
thickest end of each trunk for legs, the middle sections for
chair-backs, and the smallest ends for arms."

Provided with the ax, hatchet, and woodsman knife, the scouts started on
their quest. After they had gone, Mrs. Vernon detached one side of a
packing-case and removed any nails left in the wood. As this section of
the case had reinforced pieces along the outer edges, it would be a
strong table-top.

The rest of the day was used in building the table, and a queer looking
object was the result. It was a cross between a stool and a four-legged
pedestal. It was rather wobbly, too, as Ruth had sawed one leg shorter
than those made by her three scout companions.

"It might tip over, Ruth, if a visitor leans upon it," said Mrs. Vernon.

"We'll keep a stone under that leg. It won't joggle if it's boosted up,"
explained Ruth.

"But the stone may slip out, or should one wish to move the table about,
the stone will have to be carried about too."

"Goodness me, Verny! What can I do? I can't stretch it!" cried Ruth,
distractedly.

Every one laughed, but the Captain said: "No, it won't stretch, but
can't one of you scouts suggest a remedy?"

When they realized that they all were called upon to share the
responsibility of the tilting table, they puckered their foreheads and
put on their thinking-caps.

"I know! We'll tack a little end of the wood to the bottom of the leg,"
called Joan, excitedly.

Ruth cast a scornful look at Joan, as much as to say: "I'd like to see
any one sticking a block under that leg!"

"Verny, we might take the leg off and saw a new one," suggested Betty.

"We could, and I suppose that would be the only correct way to do it,
but I am thinking of another and easier way," replied the Captain.

"Oh! I guess I know! How will it do to saw all three legs off so they
will be the same length as Ruth's short one?" exclaimed Julie, slapping
her knee.

Mrs. Vernon smiled for that was what she wanted the scouts to discover.
At the same time, she was deeply interested in the fact that Julie
always seemed to catch her thoughts and express them exactly as she
might have done. This showed her that Julie was very mental, and was
open to every good and helpful suggestion from thought-waves.

That evening the Captain said: "It feels as if we might have rain soon.
I hope it doesn't come before Wednesday, as I am conscious of neglecting
an important work."

"What is it?" cried four anxious voices.

"Hepsy's shed. You see we were going to build her stable as soon as we
completed the house, but we began our furniture instead. Hepsy had
enjoyed the fresh air and fine pasturage on the plateau this last week,
but she dislikes the rain."

"Oh, dear! I forgot all about her shed," cried Betty.

"So did we. If she only had complained now and then! But she went about
her business so quietly!" sighed Joan.

"Verny, if it rains we must invite Hepsy into our hut! If we neglected
to build her shed because of our fine furniture, then she must be
admitted to the palace itself!" said Ruth, decidedly.

"That's what we will, Verny! Hepsy won't hurt the hut."

And the Captain secretly exulted to find that Ruth was fast forgetting
self in feeling responsibility for others--even a horse; while the other
scouts thought nothing of their work unless it was put to some good use.

But it did not rain that night, nor in the morning, although the sky was
gray and overcast. Hepsy had a shed all built before the first drops
fell late that afternoon; there were several liberal ventilation
crevices between the logs of the sidewalls, however.

The floor of the shed had been laid _à la corduroy_ style--as so many
boggy roads are built upon in the west. The logs in this case were
placed side by side in a bed of clay, and when the girls pressed down
firmly upon the flooring, the clay oozed up between the joints and
hardened there. In a few days the floor would be as solid as a rock and
could be washed off with broom and water.

Hepsy had more than enough dry leaves for a bedding that first night, as
the scouts thought she might take cold if she slept on the damp floor.
Mrs. Vernon smiled, but said nothing as she knew the heap of leaves
would keep Hepsy from cutting the soft clay with her hoofs. When the
flooring was hard and dry nothing could hurt it.

Supper that night was rather a gloomy affair as everything was wet, and
the fire would not burn. So they gathered in the hut and ate cold food.
This started a discussion on fireplaces.

"You said maybe there was a chance of building a chimney," ventured
Joan.

"Yes, but we have been doing so much, I forgot about it," confessed the
Captain.

"A fireplace would feel great on a night like this," said Julie.

"Verny, if clay will harden in chinks of the walls, and make a solid
flooring, why won't it hold stones together in a chimney?" now asked
Ruth, eagerly.

"It will, if we can find stones that will fit properly. I wouldn't
attempt to do the mason work with round cobble-stones such as are used
in most chimneys in bungalow houses."

"Did you mean it when you said a chimney might be built if we leaned it
against the rocky wall back of the rear wall of the hut?" asked Joan.

"No, I was only fooling when I spoke of leaning it--because a chimney has
to be most accurately constructed or it will smoke one out of the
place."

"Let's build the chimney to-morrow!" begged Ruth, eagerly.

"Oh, my dears! We haven't done anything but build--build--build since
we've been here. There are so many other things I want you to do that a
chimney can wait."

"If we agree to do what other things you want us to, why can't we use
the forty-five minutes of recreation that is ours each day to build the
chimney?" persisted Ruth.

Mrs. Vernon laughed. But the eager faces of the girls showed her they
were in earnest. Besides, what difference did it make in the end whether
she was teaching them to build a stone chimney or how to mend a pair of
stockings? If it was true work and done with the right motive back of
it, it was progressive.

So she finally said: "All right, you may have two hours a day for
chimney work, and the rest we will devote to my pursuits."

"Hurrah! we ought to finish the chimney in three days!" exclaimed Julie.

Thus the second week passed quickly away. The little stone chimney was
finished and presented a very artistic addition to the room. But it
became so much smaller as it rose higher, that at the top it was only
large enough for a tiny opening for the escape of smoke. Unfortunately,
this caused the fireplace to smoke dreadfully when a fire was started,
but once the bed of embers was well started, an additional bit of wood
judiciously used did not cause every one to choke and run from the room.

In one of the hikes, the scouts had found a wild grapevine, but it had
been severed from the root, and hung from the tree-trunk without leaves
or fruit. It was more than an inch thick, so Mrs. Vernon had the girls
carefully cut it down and carry it back to camp.

"The graceful curves of this twisted vine will make the prettiest chair
imaginable, with back, arms and legs entwined, and holding up the seat
of boards. Smaller bits of the gnarled vine will make flower-brackets,
rustic hanging-baskets, and also a cord by which to suspend the
signboard of Dandelion Camp," remarked the Captain.

"If we only had a Turkish rug for the floor, our hut would look
wonderful!" sighed Joan, admiring the latest additions.

"Why cry for the moon when you can have the sun?" laughed Mrs. Vernon.

"What do you mean? Did you bring a rug?" asked Joan, quickly.

"Oh, we forgot that crex mat, didn't we? Do you suppose it is still down
in the bushes?" asked Betty, anxiously.

"I quite forgot it myself, girls. But that was not what I meant just
now. The moment Joan mentioned a rug, I thought of something I read
about in the Handbook. We ought to weave a mat of grass or willows for
that palace."

"If we only could! It would be so in keeping," said Betty, softly, that
her voice would not interrupt the others who were loudly acclaiming this
idea from the Captain.

"I wish to goodness Sunday were a week away so we could finish up all
the fine plans we have started," sighed Ruth.

"Well, Ruth, only _our_ folks are coming out this Sunday, you know, and
we needn't mind them much. If it wasn't that we needed 'Liza's cake and
bread and other things, we could have postponed the call for a week,"
said Betty, condolingly.

As usual, Betty's candor made them laugh, and Mrs. Vernon said: "Yes, I
fear our invitation had an awfully big string to it this week."



CHAPTER TEN

A FOURTH OF JULY OUTING


Saturday night the scouts and Mrs. Vernon planned the dinner for the
next day.

"We'll use some of those onions, and cut potatoes into dice to add to
them; then I'll take a small can of tomatoes, some rice and a bit of
bacon, and make a good chowder of the whole. If we only had a few of the
little fish Joan caught the other day, they would give it a fine
flavor," suggested the Captain.

"You said we might open a jar of our strawberry preserve, Verny,"
reminded Julie.

"Yes, but not for a course; it is too precious for anything but
dessert."

"After the chowder, what can we have?" asked Ruth.

"We'll boil that artichoke root we dug up this morning. When that is
seasoned it tastes just like salsify. If Eliza doesn't bring any meat,
we can run along the mountain-path and cut one of the beefsteak
mushrooms I showed you yesterday. I doubt if your folks will be able to
tell the difference between it and a tenderloin steak," the Captain
said, chuckling.

"My, won't they be surprised when they see all we have learned in two
weeks!" exclaimed Betty, proudly.

"I hope it doesn't rain to-morrow," ventured Julie.

"Yes, 'cause we've got to have Eliza's supplies!" added her twin sister.

"Can you think of anything else that's novel, Verny, for dinner?" asked
Joan.

"We can cut enough dandelion leaves in the morning to have a salad";
Mrs. Vernon glanced doubtfully at Ruth as she spoke.

Ruth caught the look and laughed: "Are you afraid I am going to boil
over because you mentioned dandelions?"

"Well, I didn't know how you might take it?"

"I'll confess; I'd just as soon call the camp 'dandelion' as anything
else, for now I appreciate what that digging did for us."

"I'm so glad, Ruthy; now I can paint that sign. Do you know girls why I
refused to hang out the sign you wanted? It was because we were not
unanimous in the selection of a name. As Ruth's objection is removed I
will have the sign ready for next Sunday when the Allisons and Bentleys
visit us."

"Did you save that fine ash board you selected the very first day we
came here?" asked Ruth.

"Yes, and to-morrow I'll show it to you--ready to burn."

"Burn?" came from four girls.

"Yes; I am going to etch the name 'Dandelion Camp' in the wood with a
red-hot poker, and sketch the dandelions about the name in pyrography,
also. Then we can tint the flowers and leaves. You haven't any idea how
soft and beautiful the burnt tones blend with yellow and green paints."

"It sounds fascinating--I wish I could do it," said Joan.

"You each may practice and when you can handle the iron well enough, you
might try to do little things like book-ends or wall-brackets."

"We got as far on the bill-of-fare as dandelion salad, Verny, and then
switched off on something new--as usual," laughed Julie.

"That was the end of my menu, as far as I could provide any," returned
the Captain.

Sunday morning it was decided to go for the beefsteak mushrooms and cook
them for dinner, even if Eliza brought meat. In that case, they would
keep the meat for dinners the following days and give the visitors a
treat by having tenderloin steak (?).

Ruth proved her statement that she had outgrown her dislike of
dandelions by offering to cut enough plants for the salad. When she
returned to camp she had a fine mess of young leaves, and after washing
them clean, left them in cold water until wanted.

Joan and Julie had offered to get up early and go for berries. Mrs.
Vernon was dubious about berry-picking being in order for scouts on
Sunday, when there was enough dessert already on hand.

"But why not? It is wholesome study of nature's own fruit, you know,"
argued Joan.

"Verny, we really must have a dessert for those who do not like
preserves, you know. Otherwise father will eat the whole jar of our
strawberry preserves," added Julie.

So the two girls prevailed over the Captain's mild scruples and hurried
down the road to the strawberry field. Before the Lee family arrived,
everything was done and ready for their reception.

Eliza, as anticipated, had smuggled a host of good things into the
surrey, and when Mr. Lee and May were listening to all that the scouts
had accomplished during the week, she transferred the larder hidden in
the harness box of the surrey to the camp-larder in the old hut.

As they sat down to dinner, John began showing symptoms of disapproval
of his soup (chowder, the scouts called it), and carefully placed his
dish upon the rock before him.

"The chowder smells delicious, girls," said May, as the aroma rose to
her nose.

"It's just as good as it smells, too," said Julie.

"Is every one served now, Jule?" called Joan, who was waitress for the
day.

"Yes, and all anxious to begin--hurry and sit down," Julie replied.

Joan took her plate and sat down nearest the board from which she had to
serve the dinner. John waited smiling knowingly as he sat and watched
the others.

Mr. Lee was the first to take a spoonful of chowder. He frowned for a
moment, then took a second taste. His mouth puckered and he looked
questioningly at Eliza as if to ask her what was wrong with it.

May had already taken her spoonful and immediately cried: "For goodness
sake! Who cooked this chowder?"

"Verny--why?" hastily asked the girls.

"Why? Well just taste it!"

Every one had had a good mouthful by this time and every one looked at
the Captain reproachfully.

"Really! I'm sure I didn't salt this chowder as heavily as this! I
tasted it just before you arrived and it was delicious," exclaimed Mrs.
Vernon in self-justification.

Joan now looked dreadfully concerned. She tasted the soup and then made
a wry face. But she was not going to have any one falsely accused, so
she spoke up:

"Verny, you know when you told me to salt something-or-other, I thought
you meant chowder; so I put in as much as I felt it needed. Maybe I
misunderstood you."

"Oh, Joan! I called to you and said _not_ to salt the chowder because I
saw you seasoning everything you could find!"

Joan looked so woe-begone that every one laughed, and Betty said
regretfully: "It's too bad, Joan, 'cause the chowder was cheap so it was
to be the filler, you know. Now we won't have enough dinner without
eating our preserves."

That made every one scream with merriment, and the salty soup was passed
by without further reproach. While waiting for the steaks (?) John
cleared his throat as a signal, and said:

"You won't see _me_ here again this summer."

"Why not?" queried his sisters.

"'Cause I'm going to camp on Wednesday--Daddy fixed it with the Master at
our gym."

"Going to wash dishes?" teased Julie, winking at Eliza.

"Nope! But I'm going to keep the grounds clean. I have to pick up papers
and see that nothing is littered around. Every time I leave trash about,
I get fined, so I'll have to be awake."

"What splendid practice that will be for you, Johnny. When you come back
home, you ought to have the habit so strong that Eliza won't have to run
after you at every step," declared Julie.

"I know John will make a fine scout for that work," added Betty.

Being a regular boy, John wouldn't thank Betty for her kind words but he
mentally decided that she was a bear!

The beefsteak mushrooms were a great success and no one could tell what
they were eating. Boiled potatoes, artichokes, dandelion salad with
Eliza's French dressing, and a gravy of browned flour, made a fine
dinner to go with the steak. Then followed the berries and generous
slices of fresh layer cake brought from home. When dinner was over, John
frowned and said: "Is this all we get?"

"All! my goodness, isn't it enough?" demanded Julie.

"Not for Sunday's dinner. I bet we'll have a regular feast at _our_
camp, all right!"

"You couldn't have such cake if you baked for ages!" retorted Julie.

"Cake--pooh! Fellers don't want cake. We want man's dinners," bragged the
boy.

"I noticed you ate every crumb, just the same!"

"That's 'cause I am hungry and had to."

"Seein' es how yuh despise my cake, I'll see you don't have to eat none
of it whiles you are at camp," said Eliza, at this point of the
altercation between brother and sister.

John gasped, for he had already boasted to his boy-chums who were going
to camp with him that _he_ could have cakes and lots of goodies sent to
him every week!

That afternoon the visitors were escorted about the woods; every
beautiful nook and dell was duly admired, and when it came time for
good-bys both sides felt that they had had a fine visit.

"We'll look forward to coming again _when_ it is our turn," observed Mr.
Lee, as he climbed into the surrey.

"We'll be looking as anxiously for you as you will for us," Betty
replied.

May grinned, for she understood why they would be welcomed. But Ruth
said hurriedly: "S-sh! My mother's coming next and she won't let your
family outdo her in bringing goodies. May, do tell her all you brought
to-day."

Every one laughed at that frank confidence, and the Lees drove away
feeling happy and proud of the way their girls were improving under the
scout life.

As they trudged back up the hill, Joan said: "Is any one expected for
the Fourth?"

"Not that I know of--I forgot the Fourth comes this week," Mrs. Vernon
replied.

"What can we do, Verny? We haven't any fire-works," said Betty.

"We'll have to think out a suitable plan with which to celebrate the
National Birthday."

That evening about the camp-fire, it was discussed and finally voted
upon to go for a long outing on the Fourth.

"But where? We don't want to go down into civilization, you know," said
Ruth.

"Can't we pack up a dinner and go away off somewhere?" suggested Joan.

"We can drive Hepsy and ride in the buckboard," added Julie.

"Hepsy hasn't had much exercise lately, and she's getting too lazy; it
will do her good to thin down somewhat," laughingly said Mrs. Vernon.

"Verny, did you ever hear of Bluebeard's Cave, 'way back on this
mountain?" asked Julie, glancing slyly at her companions.

"I have, but how did you hear of it?"

"Now you've got to tell her!" exclaimed Betty, while Joan and Ruth tried
to hush her.

"What does this mean--what is there to tell, scouts?" asked Mrs. Vernon,
seriously.

"Oh, it isn't anything--much. Only a little joke we had on you a long
time ago," began Joan, stammeringly.

"Better tell me all about it and end it," advised Mrs. Vernon, not a
little surprised, for she wondered if the girls had ever tried to find
the cave, which she knew to be dangerous without a grown person or a
lantern to guide them.

"Do you remember the day we built the roof on the hut?" asked Julie,
giggling.

"Yes, it was the neatest work you ever did--before or since."

"But we didn't do it!" exclaimed Ruth, also giggling.

"You didn't! Then who did!" gasped the Captain, amazed.

The girls laughed merrily. This was just the sort of a surprise they had
looked for. They never thought of the danger in the cave that had
worried the Captain, so there was no reason why they should not laugh
and enjoy the joke.

Mrs. Vernon saw immediately that there was no ground for her fear, so
she managed to laugh too. "What is the joke, girls?"

"You had no sooner gone, that day, when a young woodsman came across the
plateau. He lives way back on the last crest," began Joan, eagerly, but
Julie interpolated with: "In winter he traps fur-bearing animals and
sells the pelts. He was out hunting that day. He had a gun in his hands
and a loaded revolver in his belt."

"He asked us if we weren't afraid to camp here alone," added Betty.

"And we laughed at him. We told him you were always with us, so we were
not alone."

"He then said, we ought to have a big dog to keep away tramps, but we
said he was the first stranger we ever saw about. Then we showed him our
hut and the roof we had to make. But he laughed."

"Yes, he laughed, because he said we were doing it wrong. Then he leaned
the gun against a tree and showed us how to roof the place properly,"
said Ruth.

"He told us always to place a gun with the barrel aiming up or down.
Never to lean it sideways or lay it on the ground. He told us how many
hunters are accidentally killed through carelessness in handling their
firearms," explained Betty.

"He said he wanted to see you and tell you something, so he waited
around, but finally he had to go. We made each other promise not to tell
you that day as we wanted you to think we did the fine roof," concluded
Julie, laughing merrily.

"Do you know what he wanted to see me for?" asked Mrs. Vernon, finding
an entirely different cause for concern, since she heard this story.

"Nothing, I guess, unless he wanted to get orders for a fur coat next
winter," said Joan, smiling as if to invite a laugh at her wit.

"Oh, no, Joan. He didn't look like that at all," said Betty,
reprovingly.

"I think he wanted to tell Verny where there might be dangerous places
in the mountains, 'cause he warned us not to stray away alone at any
time; but we don't need him for that, 'cause we don't wander off, like
he does," added Julie.

"And he told you about Bluebeard's Cave, eh? What did he say about it?"

"We asked him if there were any wonderful places in this mountain that
we could visit some day. He told us of a place known as 'Bluebeard's
Cave' that was about twelve miles away, but he said we ought to make a
day's trip of it, 'cause it was so fine," explained Joan.

"We'll consider going there some day, but I do wish this young man had
waited to talk with me," murmured the Captain.

The days preceding the Fourth, the scouts completed a rustic book-shelf,
several original ornaments such as no one could possibly name, and
having woven a small grass rug, they felt that the hut was better than
any king's castle.

The morning of the Fourth was cloudless and the scouts were up earlier
than usual. It had been decided upon, before going to bed the night
before, that the trip to Bluebeard's Cave would be an interesting outing
if the party got away in time to have a full day for the outing.

Hepsy was feeling most frisky because she had had so little exercise the
past week; two of the girls led her to the buckboard and hitched her
securely, while the other two slid the adjustable rear seat into the
grooves meant for it along the sides of the vehicle. As they did so,
Joan noticed the edge of one groove seemed splintered.

Mrs. Vernon and the scouts had packed the hamper with a good luncheon,
and now the Captain placed the basket in front of the three girls who
took possession of the back seat. The other scout sat on the front seat
beside the driver.

Hepsy jogged along at her own sweet will, and all the chirruping and
switching of the reins failed to bring forth one added bit of speed.

"I think Hepsy's awful mean to go so slow! We'll _never_ get there at
this rate," complained Ruth.

"And after the royal way we have treated her, too! Why, one'd think the
old nag was tired to death!" added Joan.

"I wish we had tied a feed bag to her nose--then she'd show some speed,"
laughed Julie.

"Maybe the climb is too steep for her. I know I wouldn't want to pull
five folks and a wagon up this grade," said Betty.

"Oh, pshaw! If Hepsy thinks this is steep what will she do when we come
to the last mountain climb," asked Mrs. Vernon, exasperated with urging
the horse onwards.

Julie laughed as she said, "She'll let the buckboard run backwards on
that hill."

"Serve her right if we pull her over on her haunches and drag her down
with us," added Joan.

With such complaints and banter, the scouts reached a steep ascent.
Hepsy brought the party to the foot of the hill and then stopped. All
the urging and switching failed to make her move a foot.

"Girls, you'll have to get out and walk up--Hepsy used to play this trick
on us long ago, but she has forgotten it during the last few years; or
perhaps, she hadn't the occasion to use it until to-day," laughed Mrs.
Vernon.

The scouts joined in the laugh, but jumped out to see if Hepsy would
start. The wise old horse turned her head, and finding several of her
passengers were out of the buckboard, continued on up the grade.

When they came to the level again, the horse would stop long enough to
allow the passengers to get back on the seat. But they had to jump out
again when Hepsy reached the next grade.

This amused the scouts tremendously; they laughed and enjoyed the way
the wise old animal balked about pulling them up the hills. But Mrs.
Vernon had an idea.

"Girls, the next grade we come to, you three jump out and wait for Hepsy
to start on her way, then instantly climb up on the tailboard and sit
there. We'll see if she minds the extra weight, or if she is just
whimsical."

So Hepsy halted as usual when she came to the next grade and the scouts
did as the Captain suggested. They sat on the back of the buckboard
floor, swinging their feet and laughing wildly at the way the horse
jogged on up the hill, believing that they were walking.

Having reached the top, Hepsy waited, as was her custom, for the girls
to climb in, but they merely crept over the back of the seat and then
shouted: "Gid'dap!"

Perhaps it was this pulling and scrambling that moved the seat from the
splintered groove, or perhaps it had not been securely slid into place
when the two girls adjusted it. No one knew it had worked its way out of
the slot and now was merely sitting on top of the side-rails; but the
combined weight of the three girls held it firmly while the buckboard
ran over level ground.

So elated were the scouts over the success of their hoax that they
determined to repeat the trick at the next ascent. They sang and shouted
with exuberant spirits, so that Mrs. Vernon had to hold her ears with
both hands, while Betty drove.

But Hepsy became annoyed at such unseemly hilarity, and switched her
tail impatiently several times. Still the scouts kept on laughing and
shouting, so Hepsy expressed her irritation in starting to run.

The added speed only made the scouts laugh and shout louder, and Hepsy
ran faster. As this was exactly what they all had wanted for an hour
past, the girlish voices rang merrily over the hills and came back in
mad echoes.

Now Hepsy determined she would not stand for such nonsense, but there
was the steepest ascent of all just ahead. It was the last, but longest,
on the mountainside.

Hepsy's run turned into a gallop that rocked the vehicle from side to
side, so that Betty could not control the animal. Mrs. Vernon hastily
took the reins and tried to soothe the horse, but it seemed as if Hepsy
said: "No, you laughed at the way I was fooled, so now I will have my
turn!"

The three girls on the rear seat had to cling to each other to avoid
being rolled out of the buckboard; still they never dreamed that much of
the swaying was due to the seat being free from the clutch of the
grooves.

Just ahead, Mrs. Vernon saw a huge flat bowlder which would prove an
awful jolt unless Hepsy could be guided so as to avoid it. The Captain
tugged with all her strength on the left rein, but the stubborn horse
kept straight on.

Suddenly the front wheel struck the rock and the vehicle went up on one
side and down on the other. With the mighty lurch, the seat toppled
over, and the three occupants were shot into the bushes and grass
growing beside the woodland path. The hamper rolled off afterward and
stood upside down in the road.

Once over the obstacle, however, the buckboard righted itself again, and
Hepsy kept galloping on as if her life depended upon it. All the
shouting and yanking at the reins, that the Captain was capable of, had
no effect on the animal.

She climbed the ascent in a galloping pace, and never stopped until the
pathway ended in front of the Cave. Then she stood heaving and breathing
as if every gasp would be her last.

Mrs. Vernon and Betty jumped and looked with fear and trembling at what
had happened to the three scouts so unceremoniously tipped into the
woods.

At the foot of the steep climb, the three girls were seen struggling to
carry the hamper up to the Cave. But they were laughing so they could
not lift the heavy basket.

The Captain made a megaphone of her hands and shouted: "Never mind!
Leave the hamper. We can have dinner down there."

Thankfully then, the scouts placed the hamper in the ferns beside the
road, and climbed up to the height where the others stood.

"I never saw such an old fraud in my life!" exclaimed Mrs. Vernon, when
the girls came within hearing of her voice.

"Are you all right, girls?" asked Betty, anxiously.

"Yes, but weak from laughing," shouted Joan.

"Oh, if I ever get a chance to pay Hepsy back!" threatened Ruth,
angrily.

"Verny? I'd give my hat if we could only have had a movie taken of this
whole episode," added Julie, still giggling.

"I shall never accuse Hepsy of being a silly beast again," said Mrs.
Vernon, once she was satisfied there were no bruises or other injuries
to the girls.



CHAPTER ELEVEN

IN BLUEBEARD'S CAVE


The buckboard was drawn out of the path and left beside the cave; then
Hepsy was unhitched and tethered to a tree with enough rope to allow her
to graze. But she kept turning her head to look quizzically at the
scouts, as much as to say:

"Huh! you thought you had played a trick on me, but I managed to turn
the tables, after all!"

"Verny, Hepsy's got a wicked gleam in her eyes, just as if she dumped us
out on purpose," laughed Julie, slapping the horse on the shoulder.

Mrs. Vernon was too busy unpacking a pasteboard box to reply, so the
scouts stood about her asking questions about the package.

"I brought a number of thick candles and a box of matches. Each one of
you girls must carry a candle, while I go first and carry the electric
flashlight," explained Mrs. Vernon.

"How exciting!" cried Joan, trying to light her candle.

"Just like explorers in an unknown jungle," added Julie.

"Caves, I should say, Jule," corrected Ruth, laughingly.

"Well, are we all ready?" now asked the Captain, seeing that each scout
had the candle lighted.

"All ready for the great adventure," laughed Julie.

In the first lap of the exploration nothing unusual occurred as the
footpath ran over smooth stone and sand, while the vaulted ceiling and
sidewalls were far enough away to make the cave seem really larger than
it was.

"It doesn't make one feel very spooky," said Ruth.

"Let's wait until we get in where the water drips and the queer
formations hang from the roof. That is where the hunter said the
weirdness of the place impressed you," explained Julie.

They continued deeper into the mountainside, and the air felt cooler,
while the domed tunnel grew perceptibly smaller. The girls were silent
now, being very careful to follow closely behind the Captain.

"I think it is quite spooky enough for me," whispered Betty, taking hold
of Mrs. Vernon's skirt.

"If you feel this way, now, what will you do when we get away in!"
laughed Julie.

The laugh echoed madly and hurled its sounds back again at the scouts,
and the entire party stopped suddenly with fright.

"Oh! It was only an echo of Julie's laugh," sighed the Captain, in
relief.

"But what a horrible maniac's cry it was!" gasped Joan.

Betty was shivering with nervousness, when Julie again laughed, to hear
the echoes come back.

"_Please_ don't do that!" cried Ruth, closing her ears, and at the same
time dropping the candle.

Its light was extinguished, and the candle must have rolled into some
crevice, for it could not be found, even though the flashlight and other
candles were used to hunt for it.

"You'll have to creep close beside me," said Julie, linking Ruth's arm
through hers.

The cave now narrowed down so that they had to stoop to go on. About
fifty feet further, the tunnel forked. Two separate tubes ran at
diagonal lines with each other.

"Which shall we take first?" asked Joan, comparing the two openings.

"'My mother told me to take this one,'" counted Julie, her finger
pointing to each tunnel alternating on each word she spoke. It was the
right-hand opening that was on the last count.

Mrs. Vernon laughed. "Well, we will go this way and see why your 'mother
told you to take this one.'"

The scouts laughed, too, but the echoes failed to ring back as
repeatedly as in the front tunnel.

"That means we are near the end of this tube," said Joan.

"I'm glad of it! I don't like to be away in here," admitted Betty.

"The roof is coming down to bump our heads, Verny," said Julie, who was
now leading.

"Then we must soon retrace our steps and take the other tube, as this
was the short one that leads nowhere. The other must be the tube that
leads to the stalactite cave," said Mrs. Vernon.

The scouts proceeded a few feet further but the aperture was becoming
too small to follow comfortably, and the Captain said:

"Well, we may as well turn around, girls."

As she spoke a low moan seemed to come from the ground, and the girls
huddled close to the Captain.

"What was it, Verny?" whispered Julie, fearfully.

Mrs. Vernon gravely turned her flashlight over the walls and ceiling of
the rocky tunnel, then moved it slowly over the ground about them.

Just when the scouts began to feel courageous again, thinking the sound
was some other form of hallucination in the cave, the light fell upon a
form doubled up against the side of the rocky wall.

The scouts saw it about the same time the Captain did, and four
high-pitched, excited young voices screamed fearfully, causing the
tunnel behind them to echo with ear-splitting yells of terror. Even Mrs.
Vernon shivered at the uncanny sight and sounds.

Betty and Ruth had hidden their faces in the Captain's skirt, as if this
would defend them from danger. But Julie and Joan stood their ground
beside the Captain, trying to peer in advance of their position to see
what the form could be.

"Is he drunk?" whispered Joan.

"Maybe he is murdered," ventured Julie, causing the others to shiver
again.

"No--he moaned, so he is not dead. I must find out what is the matter,"
replied the Captain, bracing herself for the unpleasant task.

"Oh, Verny! Please don't!" wailed Betty.

"He may be hoaxing us like Hepsy did--better call to him and tell him we
haven't a jewel or a cent with us," cried Ruth.

But the form remained inanimate. Not another sound was heard other than
the cries and talking of the scouts.

Mrs. Vernon went over slowly, keeping the electric light directly upon
the form. The two other girls held their candles so that the footpath
showed distinctly, as they walked beside the Captain. Ruth and Betty
clung to each other where they had been left standing.

"Here! Get up!" ordered Mrs. Vernon, pushing the body gently with her
foot.

But there was no sound or motion from the form.

The coat had been removed, but the undergarments looked like good ones,
so Mrs. Vernon stooped down the better to see. The right arm was so bent
upwards that it covered the face, and it seemed as if the man was
sleeping that way.

"Wake up! Do you hear me?" called the Captain, again.

The fearful quiet was the only effect of the second demand, so then Mrs.
Vernon carefully removed the arm from the face.

"Oh!" shrieked Julie and Joan, falling back suddenly, and even the
Captain cried with horror.

"Help! Help!" screamed Ruth, not sure of what was happening to her
friends.

But the movement of the arm must have caused an instance of
consciousness in the man, as he made another faint sound like a sigh or
a moan.

"Girls, something has happened to this man, and we have to use our
scout-sense to try and carry him out to the air," said Mrs. Vernon,
turning to the girls.

"Oh, dear me! I'm afraid to go any nearer. He may die if we move him,"
said Joan, fearfully.

"He'll surely die if left here alone. It may be days or even weeks
before any party again visits this Cave," said Mrs. Vernon,
emphatically.

"How terrible! We just can't let him die, then," admitted Julie.

"Do we have to help you?" wailed Ruth, from the rear.

"Betty and you will have to carry the lights, while we three try to
carry him," answered the Captain.

"If only we had a blanket!" sighed Julie.

"It would have been so easy to make a stretcher, then," added Joan.

"We'll have to contrive one from my skirt, girls. I have a full skirt
on, and the pleats at the belt can quickly be ripped out."

Even as she spoke, Mrs. Vernon slipped off the plaid skirt and began
pulling at the belt. But it was well-sewed and would not give way.

"Here, let me chew open some of the stitches," said Joan.

"No, no! I have an idea--let me burn the threads with the candle-flame,"
called Julie.

"Good! Now touch it right there," said the Captain, as she held the belt
over the flame.

In a few moments, the scorched and smoking skirt belt gave way to the
strength of the pull Mrs. Vernon used on it, and once the stitching
began, it easily ripped across the entire width.

"That scorching also reminds me, girls! I've heard said that smoking
wool will revive a fainting person. We will try it as soon as we have
him out of this smothering place," said the Captain.

An impromptu stretcher was then contrived of the skirt, and the three
bearers lifted the unconscious man upon it. They managed to carry the
form over to the spot where Betty and Ruth held the lights, but the
moment Ruth saw the gash on the head, and the blood trickling from it,
she screamed and clung to Betty.

"Don't, Ruth--don't hang on to me like that!" wailed Betty. "I'm going to
faint, if you don't let go of me!"

"Betty Lee! You'd better not!" cried Julie, desperately.

"We haven't time to hold you up and try to revive you," added Joan.

"Children, start ahead and show us the way, or we'll all be taken to
Court to testify why we let this man die," ordered the Captain, hoping
by such awe-inspiring words to make Betty and Ruth see the necessity of
self-control.

Ruth managed to take the extra candle from Betty's shaking hand, and
say: "Come on, Betty, we'll both be in jail for murder if we don't."

As this was Ruth's interpretation of Court, and it seemed to have the
desired effect, Mrs. Vernon thought best not to correct her. The two
frightened girls led the way with the lights and the three bearers of
the still unconscious form followed.

Finally they reached the open, and the man was placed upon the grass
near the Cave entrance. "If he doesn't regain his senses in a few
moments, we will have to try that burnt wool," said Mrs. Vernon,
watching the patient very closely, while the scouts bathed his head with
the water they had brought in a bottle.

But the fresh air seemed to have the hoped-for effect, for the man
heaved a deep sigh and slowly opened his eyes. At first he merely stared
right up at the green foliage of the trees, but as his strength came
back, he tried to see who was bathing his forehead.

"Do you feel better, now?" inquired Mrs. Vernon, softly.

The man tried to speak but couldn't, so Julie whispered: "Maybe he's
been in there for days, and needs food."

"Some of you girls run and bring the hamper up," said Mrs. Vernon, but
the patient had heard.

"No--all right," he managed to gasp.

After what seemed an eternity to the scouts, the man had survived far
enough to sit up and lean against the front seat of the buckboard which
the girls had removed and carried over.

"I fear you have had a bad accident," said the Captain. "Do you know
what happened to you in the Cave? Maybe you fell from a shelf of rock."

"No--tramps did it."

The girls cried out, but the Captain gave them a severe look that
quieted them at once. Then she held the cup of water for the man to sip,
and he freshened up visibly.

"Girls, all four of you go for the hamper, as we must eat our dinner up
here. You can take turns in carrying it, you know," said the Captain.

The scouts preferred to hover about and hear about the tramps, but Mrs.
Vernon's word was law, so they started down the hill. On the way, Ruth
said, complainingly:

"We ought to hitch that lazy old horse to the buckboard and make her
pull the load up the hill."

"She'd balk halfway up, Ruth, and make us pull _her_ up the rest of the
way," retorted Julie, laughingly.

Mrs. Vernon fanned the cut and bruised face, and wished the man could
tell who he was. As if in answer to her thoughts, he whispered: "Did you
find my card-case in the coat pocket?"

"No, the tramps who maltreated you so, stole everything."

The man was not yet aware that he was in his shirt-sleeves, but now he
glanced at himself and frowned.

"I beg your pardon, but you see my appearance is unavoidable," murmured
he, while a flush rose to his pale face.

"Oh, don't think of form just now--let us help you back to a normal state
as soon as possible," replied Mrs. Vernon, earnestly.

"I am a stranger in these parts, having left the train that goes to New
York, because I heard there were some marvelous caves of stalactite
formation in this mountain. I was told to find a young hunter on top of
this crest who would guide me," whispered he.

"But I must have missed my way, as I found myself at the Cave itself,
before I even found the trail that goes to the hunter's cabin. I had a
grip which I left outside, and taking my flashlight out of it, I started
in alone." The speaker rested a few moments, then continued: "As I
reached the branch where the two tunnels fork, I heard voices. So I
hailed, thinking it might be the hunter escorting a party through the
Cave. Then suddenly the voices were silenced.

"That should have warned me that all was not right, but I hurried on,
hoping to meet some one. Instead I suddenly was struck directly in the
face with a sharp rock. The blow staggered me, but I leaned against the
wall, until two hard-looking villains crept along the tunnel thinking I
was unconscious.

"One of them had on stripes, so I judged they were escaped convicts. I
fought them off, but the blows from a cudgel and the loss of blood from
the gash made by the rock, weakened me so that I remember no more until
I opened my eyes and found you bending over me."

"How horrible! But how grateful we are that we visited the Caves to-day.
What day was it that you went in there?"

"Let me think: I left the train at the Junction on the evening of July
third, and stopped at a country inn for the night. Early on the Fourth I
climbed the mountains, and visited the Cave. What day is it now?"

"Why this is the Fourth still! You must have been attacked but a short
time before we found you. It is now noon," exclaimed Mrs. Vernon,
showing her dread of lurking rascals by calling to the girls to hasten
up the hill.

"Thank heavens! Then we may catch them before they get out of the
country," said the man.

"My name is Mrs. Vernon, and I am camping in these woods with my girl
scouts. But I should dread having them go about alone after this."

"My name is Mr. Gilroy, and I certainly feel greatly obliged to your
scouts and to you, Madame, for your aid."

"If only we were not so far from camp, or such a long ride to Freedom.
You could have medical attention there, and notify the police of this
assault."

"My dear Madame! I, too, have been an enthusiastic camper and can help
myself better than the physicians can. Give me a few hours' rest, and I
will be as well as ever," said Mr. Gilroy.

The scouts now came puffing up with the hamper, registering many threats
against Hepsy for her untimely trick. As they came over and stood beside
the Captain, she introduced them to Mr. Gilroy. They were delighted to
find him so far recovered, and they said so in girlish words and
expressions.

The scouts displayed as hearty an appetite as if nothing unusual had
happened, but Mrs. Vernon was too concerned over the news of some tramps
being at large to enjoy her dinner; she put two and two together and
decided that this was what the young hunter wished to warn her about.

Mr. Gilroy seemed to like the eager attendance on him shown by the
girls, but he ate sparingly of all the many goodies they urged upon him.

When the dinner was over, Mrs. Vernon said: "We must leave the hamper
hidden somewhere, girls, and call back for it another day. The back seat
we must leave here, also."

"Why?" asked the scouts, wonderingly.

"Because we must contrive some sort of couch on the floor of the
buckboard for Mr. Gilroy; you girls will sit on either side, or at the
back of the buckboard. I can manage to crowd in one extra scout on the
front seat. As Ruth is the slenderest one, I think it had better be she
and Betty for the front seat, while Joan and Julie mount guard over
their patient."

The girls seemed to think the plan a good one, so the hamper and extra
seat were soon hidden inside the Cave.



CHAPTER TWELVE

AN UNPLEASANT SURPRISE


When dinner was cleared away, Mrs. Vernon and the scouts gathered young
spruce tips from the trees growing so profusely near the Cave. These
were woven into a soft springy mattress on the floor of the buckboard,
by placing a row of tips where the head would be. The next row of tips
was so placed that the stems ran under the soft resisting tops of the
former row. So on, row after row was woven, until the floor of the
vehicle was covered.

Mr. Gilroy was then helped up and partly carried over to the spruce-bed.
He had been preparing for this ordeal, and managed to get up on the
buckboard, but then he sank back in a half-faint. The scouts were at
hand, however, with water and a paper fan.

The return trip took more than two hours, and when the trail was
followed that led direct to the camp Hepsy jogged along without urging
and without balking.

Joan and Julie sat on either side of their patient, with their feet
dangling from the rear. Mrs. Vernon drove Hepsy very carefully, and the
animal seemed to sense that she must step circumspectly. Not a bowlder
or rut did she cause the vehicle to encounter.

"For which we are duly grateful to tricky old Hepsy," declared Julie, as
they neared the camp.

The scouts entertained Mr. Gilroy on this ride down the mountainside, so
that he smiled and almost forgot he was a patient. In fact, the scouts
forgot he was a stranger, so pleasant was this middle-aged man of
forty-five, with his fine face and gray hair.

On the last hundred yards to the Camp, Hepsy pricked up her ears.

"She smells oats for supper, and a good bed," laughed Joan.

"I'm awfully glad we had Hepsy with us to bring back this couch for Mr.
Gilroy," said Betty.

"Yes, and we're all glad there is such a nice hut ready to receive Mr.
Gilroy. All we will have to do will be to carry the spruce tips from
here to the cabin and make the bed," added Julie.

Then they told Mr. Gilroy all about the hut and the rugs and the
wonderful furniture, that had taken more than two weeks to build. They
were still laughing over the perfect work done on the roof by the young
hunter, when Hepsy pulled the vehicle up on the plateau near the huts
and stopped.

"Our camp is under those pines, right beside the tumbling waters,"
explained Ruth, pointing out the spot to the tired-looking eyes of the
man.

"Well, I've enjoyed the ride, dear young ladies, but I am greatly
relieved to be here," sighed Mr. Gilroy.

"Verny, can't you make Hepsy bring the buckboard over to the hut so Mr.
Gilroy won't have to walk?" said Joan.

"I was just going to suggest it. I will lead her by the head, so she
won't balk, but you girls remain seated and see that our guest does not
roll off."

Ruth and Betty followed behind, and the Captain led the horse carefully
over the grass until the camp was reached. All that was now necessary
was for the man to wait until the spruce bed was removed from the wagon
to the hut.

"You girls run and make room in the hut so we can lay the bed on the
floor. Move the furniture against the walls," said the Captain.

Julie and Joan, being foremost, ran over to begin the work while Mrs.
Vernon unhitched Hepsy to take her to the shed. Ruth and Betty were
about to push the buckboard under the trees when a heart-rending cry
came from the hut.

The Captain thought instantly of the tramps, and held her heart as she
ran to help. Ruth and Betty left the wagon where it was and started
after Mrs. Vernon. Even Mr. Gilroy, forgetting his weakness, slid from
the buckboard and crept along in wake of the others.

"Oh, Verny! Our lovely, lovely hut! Oh, oh!" wailed Joan.

"Everything ruined! Who could have done it!" cried Julie, stamping her
foot furiously.

When the others crowded about the door, they beheld a scene indeed! Mr.
Gilroy sank upon the grapevine seat just outside the door, and panted
forth:

"Those rascally vandals! They did it!"

"Oh, oh! everything gone or broken! But why did they do it? It won't
help them any!" wailed Ruth.

The table and chairs had disappeared completely, and bits of grapevine
and ends of boards scattered everywhere, testified to the cataclysm that
struck the inside of the hut. The pictures were torn from the walls, and
the flowers were tossed, with their holders, into the grass near the
hut. The willow and grass mats were in strips, some of them showing
where the demons had tried to set fire to them, but they were too green
to burn readily.

Suddenly Mrs. Vernon gasped and said: "The annex, girls!"

She feared that the tramps might be hidden there. But the girls thought
she meant the food-stock, so they ran pell-mell out of the new hut into
the old one, Mrs. Vernon trying to hold them back.

The scouts found the food-stuff had been taken, too. This was too much
for them! They fairly screamed with rage. Mrs. Vernon had all she could
do to calm their hysterical anger.

"I'll kill them if I get sight of them!" screamed Ruth, with clenched
hands, jumping up and down.

"Oh, if we only had that hunter's gun!" added Joan.

"And shoot each other--no thank you!" declared Julie, in so
matter-of-fact a tone that it did more to stop the howling than anything
else. Even Mr. Gilroy felt like smiling, in spite of the troubles these
innocent scouts had had thrust upon them.

"Verny, don't you suppose those poor convicts have gone without food for
so long that they had to take ours!" ventured Betty, kindly.

"Oh, oh! how _can_ you pity them, Betty Lee!" cried Joan.

"Betty, if you don't swear to avenge this outrage, I'll spank you good
and hard--so there!" threatened Julie, her eyes gleaming dangerously as
she leaned towards poor Betty.

"I can't swear, Julie, but I am sorry for two terribly wicked men who
don't know better than to hurt Mr. Gilroy and then ruin our lovely home.
The food I s'pose they needed," explained Betty, with more spirit than
she had ever expressed in her life.

The scouts were so amazed at Betty's self-defense that unconsciously
they pardoned her charity towards the vagabonds.

"Besides, Verny, they couldn't have carried the boxes very far, you
know, when it took Hepsy and all of _us_ to carry them in," added Betty.

"And the furniture was awfully heavy, too," said Ruth.

"And too clumsy for them to handle well," Betty added, but she had best
have left that unsaid, as Julie's wrath exploded.

"How can you call the furniture clumsy? They were just as handsome as
anything I ever saw!"

But no one abetted this statement, so she modified her words. "Well, not
_very_ clumsy--only heavy, maybe."

Mr. Gilroy had been thinking very quickly during this conversation, and
now he called to the Captain. They all ran over to him to see if he was
all right.

"Oh, yes, I feel all right; but I was wondering if you can find it
possible to have Hepsy drive on down to that village you mention?"

"To Freedom? What for?" asked Julie, surprised.

"Because I have a theory about this vandalism, and the sooner the police
hear of it, the better for the safety of all," replied Mr. Gilroy.

"Do you think you can stand the extra journey?" now asked Mrs. Vernon.

"I feel so strong and improved since I see what the rascals did here
that I really will be better off if we go to the village than if I
remained here chafing against the delay of catching them."

Mrs. Vernon knew that an unsettled mental condition was worse than
actual healthy fatigue, so she agreed to drive on down to Freedom. "But
it will be too late for us to return to-night!"

"Oh, you must not think of it! In fact, you must not camp here again
until the convicts are taken," hastily replied Mr. Gilroy.

"I suppose we can find a good farm-house where we can board for a time,"
suggested Mrs. Vernon.

"We'll ask the grocery man who comes up for our orders," added Julie.

By the time Hepsy was hitched again to the buckboard, the scouts had
packed some things in suitcases to take with them. Mr. Gilroy refused to
recline on the spruce bed again, so he sat up between the two girls.

Hepsy was inclined to balk when she found she was wanted to drive down
to Freedom; but Mrs. Vernon was most emphatic with a persuasive hickory
stick, so that Hepsy decided that "discretion was the better part of
stubbornness."

Once warmed up to the going, Hepsy kept on traveling at a great rate, so
that the village of Freedom was seen in less than an hour's time after
leaving the camp. While Mrs. Vernon asked the keeper of the general
store about hotel accommodations for all, Mr. Gilroy went to the
telephone and called up the police station at Junction.

The scouts had not heard the first part of his conversation, as they
were interested in hearing about rooms for the night, but when the
store-keeper held up a hand for silence, they heard Mr. Gilroy say
excitedly:

"Is that so! Well, I really believe I can get them for you. My name is
Chester Gilroy, and my home is in New York State, but the young ladies
are Girl Scouts. The Captain's name is Mrs. Vernon, of Elmertown--the
other side of this ridge, you know. And the scouts are Juliette and
Elizabeth Lee, Ruth Bentley and Joan Allison."

The scouts exchanged glances with Mrs. Vernon, but they had no clue to
the conversation at the other end of the wire.

"What's that?" asked Mr. Gilroy. "Oh--yes! They lost all their
food-stuff, furniture, and other things from camp, so they are compelled
to stay at Freedom until the rascals are caught."

After saying "good-by" Mr. Gilroy hung up the receiver and came over to
the group waiting to hear what was to be done.

The excitement and tiresome trip, followed by the sudden relaxation and
satisfaction he experienced now, caused the man's head to whirl, so that
he dropped into a wooden chair for a time.

As he sat there recovering himself, he quickly planned. Then he looked
up at the store-keeper.

"Mr. Grocer, I can show you an express order on a bank at Junction from
my home bank in New York State. I want you to take it--not to cash, but
just to prove to you that I mean business."

The scouts looked perplexed, and the store-keeper said: "What sort of
business do you want to transact?"

"I want you to act as a constable for me--or get a real one, if there is
one, at once. Then I want you to collect as large a posse of men as you
can, and begin and search that mountainside thoroughly. Begin at an
outside circle and narrow down as you reach the camp-huts. We've got to
get those escaped convicts and hand them over to the police before we
can feel safe." The canny grocer shook his head dubiously.

"If the men of Freedom round up and land two dangerous criminals, think
of the story the newspapers will tell about it. Why, Freedom will be on
the map in big headlines!" Mr. Gilroy was beguiling.

When Mr. Gilroy concluded, the store-keeper said: "How much do yuh
kalkerlate on spendin', mister?"

"How many men can you get to go on this quest?" Mr. Gilroy countered.

"Wall--there air loungers hangin' about th' post office, in that store
over thar, an' there be young fellers what'll want to chase the convicts
fer fun, an' others what will do it fer the dollars. I kin raise 'bout
forty er fifty, I rickon."

"Fine work! I'll pay them $2 for every half-day they are out, with extra
money for meals and night work. But the bosses will get double the
money. I'll pay you a dollar for every man you sign up."

"Signed up--what fer?" asked the suspicious grocer.

"To contract to hunt these criminals. You see, we've got to do the thing
business-like, and once they start out they might work a whole day or
two, and be entitled to honest pay. But others who never moved may come
in at pay-time and claim money for nothing. I've got to have the
signatures of my men so that I know who I am paying, see?"

The old grocer felt satisfied with the explanation, and said: "I know
the constabule pritty well, and he'll 'tend to the posse if I divide
even. He knows the best men to send on a job like this. I'll be
satisfied with half, if I get my picksher in a New York news-paper. I
allers wanted to do that afore I die!"

Mrs. Vernon could not refrain from smiling at such a desire and ideal,
but the scouts laughed outright. Mr. Gilroy said: "Youth laughs because
it does not believe in death."

"When do ye want 'em to start?" queried the grocer eagerly.

"As soon as you can possibly get them off. Those convicts may escape
from the mountainside in another twenty-four hours."

"I'll git Lem on the telerphone now, and start him off. He's our
constabule, ye know, and a lively one, tew."

Soon after this, Lemuel Saunders called to see Mr. Gilroy. "Ef yuh will
step over to my office, I've got a line o' men waitin' to sign up."

The scouts wanted to watch the rest of this exciting plan, so Mrs.
Vernon accompanied them to the constable's room behind the Post-Office
General Store.

Mr. Gilroy hastily wrote upon a sheet of fool's-cap paper, then handed
it to Mr. Saunders to be signed by the applicants. A long line filed in,
and, signing, went out again. To each man one dollar was paid in advance
for a meal, and advice given as to taking guns, clubs and other weapons
with them.

The spirit of adventure, added to a good financial return, had attracted
every one in the village, so that wives and mothers had packed up hearty
lunches, and seen to it that the hunters were provided with firearms or
cudgels for defense.

Scarcely a man or grown boy could be found in town who had not agreed to
go out and hunt the felons for Mr. Gilroy. Before sundown that evening
the village was left without a man in it. But here and there on the
great mountainside twinkling lights could be seen, as the posse moved
carefully upwards towards the camp.

The following morning found Mr. Gilroy feeling rested and eager to
follow the villagers in their search for the outlaws. But the doctor who
had sewed up the gash in his head advised the patient to rest all that
day.

The girls made a great fuss over their sick guest--or at least they
insisted upon calling him sick in spite of his protests to the
contrary--and promised the physician that they would take every
precaution to keep Mr. Gilroy quiet.

But they had no idea of how their promise was to be tested. They were
soon to know, however.

On the first train that stopped at Freedom came the Chief of Police and
a number of his officers from Junction, to capture the two escaped
convicts. They went straight to Mr. Gilroy to learn all the facts from
him, and having taken down his statement they spoke of securing horses,
or a car, to take them up the mountainside.

"I hired all the horses and vehicles to be had in Freedom," explained
Mr. Gilroy, "but I will gladly turn over the auto to you, providing you
take me with you on this trip."

"Why! You can't leave this porch, Mr. Gilroy," exclaimed Julie.

"The doctor said we were to keep you very quiet," added Joan.

"But that was more than an hour ago; I am quite recovered now, my
dears," laughed Mr. Gilroy.

"That makes no difference with us--we were ordered to see that you kept
quiet," declared Ruth.

"I can keep just as quiet while riding in the car with the Chief as if I
sat on this chair," argued Mr. Gilroy.

"Impossible! The excitement of the chase will give you a fever," said
Julie, emphatically.

"Why, they are two poor convicts who are most likely in chains by this
time. Our posse has captured them long before this, and all I have to do
is to pay off my men," explained the stubborn patient.

"Well, you'll find they are not quite tame, or as easy to secure, as you
fancy," ventured the Chief. "One of those rascals is a member of that
gang that tried to bomb New York City recently. And the other one is a
leader of a group of 'Reds' that the secret police rounded up lately.
Both, being aliens, were kept in jail until they could be deported. But
they managed to make their escape."

"How did you get the orders to capture them?" asked Mr. Gilroy.

"Why, the Police Chiefs all over the country were sent secret
communications with descriptions and photographs of the fellows; just
the other day, a young man who lives with his granny on this mountain,
said he had seen two evil-looking tramps somewhat resembling the
pictures. So we quickly planned to start a round-up when we heard from
you. Then last night I got a message over the wire that two suspects
were trailed as far as Junction or its vicinity, and we were to look
carefully to see if any disguised strangers were hanging about our
town."

"Well, well! This is certainly interesting, but now I am more determined
than ever to go with you when you start. Are we waiting for anything?"
said Mr. Gilroy.

"Nothing except the consent of your nurses," laughed the Chief.

The four girls looked obdurate, and Mr. Gilroy began to smile, then he
turned to the Chief.

"You feel reasonably sure that I will be taking no risks in accompanying
you back to the campsite?"

"Oh, certainly! Those two outlaws will never hang about a spot where so
many people are liable to stop."

"Well, then, is there any objection to my four nurses going with me to
see that I keep quiet to-day?"

"Oh, Mr. Gilroy! How splendid that will be!" cried Julie,

"Oh, yes! Do let us go, Chief!" exclaimed Joan, eagerly.

But at this moment Mrs. Vernon came out on the piazza. She overheard the
last words and instantly shook her head in disapproval.

"But why not, Verny? The Chief says the ground is perfectly safe about
our camp!" pleaded Julie.

"Why, not a mother in the land would ever allow her girls to join the
Scout Organization if they thought I was a sample of a Captain--the very
idea! to let you girls run right into such a hotbed of danger!" Mrs.
Vernon glanced scornfully at Mr. Gilroy as if to dare him to say another
word.

But he smiled in return and said: "Just step inside for a moment, Mrs.
Vernon,--I have a word to speak to you."

Wonderingly, the Captain followed him indoors, and whatever he whispered
must have had a wonderful power, for a radical change took place in Mrs.
Vernon's opinions before she joined the girls again.

"Mr. Gilroy has convinced me that it is to our _advantage_ to go back to
the huts, but still I refuse to go unless the Chief can assure me that
we will not be anywhere near those outlaws, or run any risk by returning
to camp," said she.

"As far as that is concerned, I told Mr. Gilroy that the two rascals
were too experienced to stay near the camp, but were most likely over
the mountain by this time, making tracks for some out-of-the-way place
where they could hide again for a few days."

"Maybe they will go back to Bluebeard's Cave, now that they got our food
and other necessities," suggested Joan.

"I only hope they do," laughed the Chief. "For in that case we will
smoke them out with sulphur."

After many misgivings as to the wisdom of this trip, and fearing the
condemnation of all the parents of the girls, as well as the disapproval
of the Girl Scouts Organization should they ever hear of the escapade,
Mrs. Vernon followed her charges to the car.

By the time the police and the scout party arrived at the campsite, the
village posse were far past that spot and were beating the woods up on
the mountainside. The Chief went carefully over every visible sign of
the destruction in the camp, but shook his head smilingly after he had
concluded his investigation.

"I don't believe the rascals stole the furniture, you know, Mr. Gilroy,
as it would hamper them too much in their get-away and it would be of no
earthly value to any one but these scouts. Neither do I believe that
they carried off much food. Only enough to last them for the present.
But they doubtless made a caché of it somewhere, believing that the
scouts would be too timid ever to return to this camp, and then they
could take up their quarters here. If they were left unmolested, they
could move back the furniture and food later."

"That's what I thought, too," agreed Mr. Gilroy. "And by depriving the
girls of food and camp-beds, they were sure of driving them away from
here at once."

"Exactly. Now, I should propose to the scouts that they thrash the
bushes near here to see if the villagers have not passed over the hidden
stores or pieces of furniture. Of course they ought to have beaten the
woods too well to miss anything, but one never can tell as, in their
zeal, they are hunting _men_, not food," said the Chief.

"We will search if you are quite sure it is safe for us to do so. If the
hunters who sought first missed the chairs or table, why couldn't they
pass over a recumbent form of a man?" said Mrs. Vernon.

"Oh, I do not think the tables or chairs are left standing intact. And
the food-stuffs will not be in boxes, either; but small installments of
it probably will be found here and there under the leaves, in hollows,
or hidden under roots of trees."

"Well, Chief, you leave two of your best men here with us for
protection, and then go as far as you like over the mountain-top,"
agreed Mr. Gilroy.

So two big fighting men were detailed to remain behind with the
camp-party, and the rest of the police started in different directions
to hunt out the desperadoes.

After the police were out of sight, Joan said: "I wish we could find our
food-stuff and furniture before a rain-storm comes."

Mrs. Vernon laughed. "If the grapevine could withstand the snows and
rains of many years before we found it, now that it is turned into
furniture for us it will surely not suffer from a slight storm."

"Well, _I_ am not thinking of storms, but of hunger. Let's go to work
and hunt, then we can stay on in camp--if we find the food," said Julie.

So in short order every one was beating the bushes and leaves as if in
search of diamonds. The policemen had given the girls a "safety zone" in
which to work, while they themselves wandered further afield.

Not long after they began seeking, Mrs. Vernon found a cooking-pot under
a bush. Then Joan found some groceries. In all sorts of out-of-the-way
holes and nooks, well-covered from curious eyes, different articles were
found, but the greater part of the food-stuff was still to be regained,
when the Captain told her girls to rest for a short time and eat some of
the crackers Ruth had found.

A dish-pan of water was brought from the spring and the scouts sat down
to eat and drink, while reviewing the thrilling adventures of the past
two days.

"I still must say that I am dubious about the reception this present
undertaking will receive, when it is known that I am so weak-minded as
to give in to four coaxing girls and Mr. Gilroy, who has a wonderful
plan for you girls to win a lot of money--but in a manner that is
ninety-nine chances against one to its success."

"Oh, Verny! Do tell us what it is!" exclaimed Julie.

"Is that what he whispered to you that made you change your mind?" asked
Ruth.

"Yes, I was foolish enough to believe that it was possible, but now that
I am here I see that it is not! I wish to goodness we were back safe at
Freedom!"



CHAPTER THIRTEEN

THE CAPTURE


A pleased signal from the detective now caused the happy scouts to race
down the trail as if a wild grizzly was after them. Joan and Julie
reached him first, and there they saw the nice little caché of
food-stock that every man in Freedom had passed by while thrashing the
bushes for the fugitives.

"Of all things! How did they get the time to do it so neatly?" asked
Mrs. Vernon, seeing the logs and leaves and stones scattered over the
boxes and tins of camp-food.

"They are experienced wanderers, I suppose, and most likely often had to
hide their firearms and food from the secret police in Europe," returned
the detective, beginning to drag out the packages and boxes.

"I can't understand how those men from Freedom, beating over this very
ground, should pass by such a clue to the rascals. You see they can't
live very long without food, so here we have them, while they may still
be at large on the mountains," continued the policeman.

The girls were only too glad to carry their campstock back to the small
hut and there left it in the custody of Mr. Gilroy, while they sought
still further for blankets or bedding.

The Chief soon came down the trail and stopped at the camp long enough
to hear about the recovery of the stolen food. Then, hearing that the
detective was still out hunting for the bedding, he left the scouts to
cook some supper.

As they worked to settle the camp again, Mr. Gilroy sat in the sun
thinking. Suddenly he exclaimed, "I have it!"

"What?" cried four voices as they ran over to see if he had caught the
vandals with his idea.

"The true story of this entire plot. Now, it is this way:

"Those blackguards saw your party drive Hepsy up the trail going to the
Cave. Maybe they hid and heard you talk about the place. And they knew
that if you explored the Caves you must find me and doubtless would
endeavor to help me.

"They counted on that work taking you much longer than it actually
did--for they know nothing about scouts and how they have to understand
'First Aid.' But they raced down the trail as fast as they could go,
hoping to get away from this region before their new atrocity was
published.

"Then they reached your camp and found the food-stuff and the other
things. To prevent you from remaining at camp again it would be
necessary to deprive you of food and furniture. So they carried
everything off and hid it in the bushes where you wouldn't find it so
easily. The food they covered, for that they wanted for themselves, in
case they had to hide for a long time.

"They figured that it would take you some time to carry me down the
hillside, and much longer to go on to Freedom. By that time they could
be miles away over the mountain-top.

"But you upset most of their calculations by unexpectedly appearing on
the scene with me, and then going right on down the trail. If we had
passed a night here, or even delayed a few hours until darkness fell,
perhaps we would never again have seen the day."

"Oh! You make me shiver, Mr. Gilroy," exclaimed Ruth.

"Don't shiver over a theory, Ruth! That's all it is, for Mr. Gilroy said
so before he told his story," laughed Julie.

"Julie, you're right! Mr. Gilroy ought to have more sense than to
theorize in such a fear-inspiring way," added Joan, trying to be jocular
but feeling creepy.

"I beg your pardon, scouts--I am at fault, I see," said Mr. Gilroy,
politely.

"I say, don't let's waste time theorizing and scolding each other, but
do let us see that a nice supper is ready for the police when they come
up the hill," said Betty.

"As usual, our Welfare Member is right," laughed Mrs. Vernon, patting
Betty on the head.

But the two detectives failed to come back, and Mr. Gilroy began
worrying about them. He thought it foolish for two men to go away like
that, while the rascals were still at large.

Then Mrs. Vernon expressed an opinion. "Mr. Gilroy, I will make a motion
that you be made to go to bed in the old hut. The spruce tips are made
up in there, and you have had a wearing day. We should feel guilty if we
had to telegraph a death notice to your friends in New York State."

"I second the motion!" exclaimed Julie.

"Motion made and seconded that our friend Mr. Gilroy be made to go to
bed at once--without his supper," laughed Joan.

"Don't take a vote, scouts--I promise to be good!" cried Mr. Gilroy,
holding up a hand in protest of the unanimous vote about to follow.

"Then say 'nighty-night' and go at once," added the Captain.

"I suppose I must even though the sun has not yet set, but what is one
poor man to do with five domineering scouts about him?" sighed he, in
mock obedience.

Having given their guest some supper and then shown him to his room and
seen that the candle was safely stuck in an empty bottle, the scouts
said good-night and returned to the fire, where the Captain still sat
thinking.

"Girls, I want you all to sit in the new hut with me, if you don't
mind," whispered Mrs. Vernon.

"Why--are you frightened, Verny?" asked Julie, while the others looked
apprehensively about.

"I feel that it is all so open out here, and the two detectives never
came back. In the hut we will have log walls, at least."

"Come on--hurry up, girls," cried Ruth, running over towards the door.

"If only we had some revolvers," said Julie.

"If only I had had more sense than to give in to your coaxing! I might
have known this was no place for us," snapped Mrs. Vernon, angry with
herself.

When the campers were seated upon the boards they had placed across the
damaged seats, Betty asked timidly:

"Verny, are we going to bed to-night?"

"You scouts will, but I will sit up all night."

"Then we shall too, Verny. Not that we want to disobey you, but you must
not ask us to do anything you would not do yourself," said Julie.

"But you will grow drowsy later on, girls, and I want you to have as
much rest as possible," explained Mrs. Vernon.

"I'm sleepy now, Verny; if I only had a pillow I could be off in
dreamland in a moment," confessed Betty.

"Here--lean your head against my shoulder, Betsy," said Julie, placing an
arm about her sister.

But the dreams suddenly disappeared when a stealthy creeping of
footsteps seemed to come from the doorway of the old hut. Every one
gazed spell-bound at the open door, and Mrs. Vernon could just summon
courage enough to say quite loudly:

"Is that you, Chief? Mr. Gilroy is in the small hut!"

She knew the sound of her voice would break the spell of fear that held
them all. Then Mr. Gilroy's voice came back:

"S-sh! It is me--myself!"

"What's the matter?" anxiously whispered five voices.

The very actions of Mr. Gilroy now filled the scouts with fear, for he
leaned over and in such a low whisper as to be hardly distinguishable,
said: "Some one's behind the wall of this hut."

It was well that at this moment a muffled curse sounded from the wall at
the back of the hut, where it was built up to meet the rocky ledge of
the mountainside. The scouts instantly felt their courage revive when
they knew where to look for the danger.

A hoarse whisper was now plainly heard through the chinks of the wall
where the clay had been plastered in.

"Agh! now you must mek a noise aut get us pinched in agin!" The voice
was gutteral and spoke with a strong foreign accent.

"But dis foot is crusht allreatty. I can't stant it anudder minute. I'm
better off in jail dan widdout a foot!"

Mr. Gilroy now placed his mouth close to Julie's ear and whispered: "You
and Joan take the flashlight and creep out of here as noiselessly as
possible. Run for your lives down the trail and give the signal the
police determined upon. Here is a whistle. Blow it three times with but
a moment's interval between--then, if it is not answered, blow again.
Keep this up until you get an answer."

"Supposing the two policemen are not down that trail?" asked Julie, as
softly as could be.

"They will be--because now we know they are not killed. We have the two
fugitives in behind that wall, and I want to keep them there until the
police get here," said Mr. Gilroy.

Julie and Joan then crept away, and Mrs. Vernon heard Mr. Gilroy's voice
close at her ear explaining where they went.

"You see, the convicts cannot get out of there without our seeing them.
In that case I will use my automatic revolver," added Mr. Gilroy.

"Oh! I didn't know you had one," sighed the Captain in great relief.

"Yes, and I was about to say that you and the two girls had better creep
out and get under the heap of spruce tips that is piled in the old hut,
while I sit here and guard the wall," Mr. Gilroy returned.

Ruth and Betty refused to leave him, however, so the four sat and waited
in the darkness.

After a long interval of absolute silence, a shrill whistle was heard
down the trail. Then a voice behind the wall said: "D'ye t'ink enny
one's got a clue?"

"Try to see thu dat crack in de wall--see ef yuh kin see any light in dat
room?"

"Not a flicker--black as pitch out dere."

"Dat shows dey's gone, 'cause no woman'll sit in de dark widda coupla o'
convicks loose in de woods," harshly laughed one.

"I wisht you'se coul' help lift me foot outen dis hole what's eatin' me
heart out," groaned the man who evidently had injured his foot.

"S-she! Dere goes dat whistle agin. Mebbe dem cops is comin' back dis
way."

"Ef dey come back, it's ours fer keepin' mum agin. We cain't git away,
yuh know, wid my foot lame. An' dey'll never tink of lookin' behin' dis
wall fer us ef we kin shet up an' stan' it."

"No, but we woulden' have t'ought of it ourself ef it hadn't ben fer dat
crookit chimbly. It war so easy to climb dat an' slide down here behin'
de wall," chuckled the other one.

Mr. Gilroy gently touched the scouts to keep silence, and all four
listened with nerves a-tension.

"Wisht we onny hed a gun--den we coul' put up a fight ef any one gits on
to dis hidin' place," said one of the voices, after a silence that had
followed another shrill whistle in the woods.

"Dem cops is havin' fun widda whistle. But dey kin whistle fer all we
care." A chuckle expressed the satisfaction the man felt.

Then an answering signal whistled close to the hut, and one of the
prisoners said to his pal: "Gee! Dey's closer'n I t'ought. Keep mum,
now, en don't groan enny when dey's in hearin'."

Another whistle from the trail echoed to the hut, and Mr. Gilroy got up
and ran out. He met two of the returning policemen just outside, and
drew them away so that he could tell them of the discovery without being
overheard by the convicts; for he had learned how the slightest sound
echoed in the forest silences.

The men quickly planned how they could catch the convicts, but how
should they force them out from behind the wall of the hut?

"We'll have to chop down the log wall," said one.

"It will take all night and before we get it down our men may have crept
out and escaped," said the other.

"We'll have to wait for the Chief and his companion to join us, so that
two of us can sit on the roof and guard the hole where these men crept
through to get in back there," said Mr. Gilroy.

A dancing flashlight seen through the forest trees along the lower trail
now told the three anxious men that the girls had found the Chief and
his men and were returning.

Soon the Chief was in an earnest conference with his men and Mr. Gilroy,
while the two scouts crept in to whisper a plan to the Captain.



CHAPTER FOURTEEN

THE REWARD FOR COURAGE


While the Chief drew his men away from the hut so they might talk and
plan without danger of being heard by the convicts, Julie and Joan
whispered their plan to the admiring Captain.

"We'll start a blazing fire in the chimney, because everything is laid
ready for one, and soon the smoke will choke up the hut and fill the
empty place back of the wall, just as it always did when we had a fire
for fun," said Julie.

"Wasn't it lucky that we built the chimney as we did! If it was straight
and correct, it wouldn't smoke, and then that hollow place behind the
wall would never fill with smoke," whispered Betty, excitedly.

"S-sh! For goodness sake don't whisper so loud--they'll hear us and know
what we are planning to do!" warned Joan, placing her hand over Betty's
mouth.

"But we won't hint to those rascals that we are only smoking them out--we
will pretend we are going to burn down the hut," now announced Julie,
highly pleased with her plan.

"How?" asked Betty.

"This way--now listen and keep your wits about you--all of you, and reply
wisely," whispered Julie, going over to the fireplace to speak so the
men behind the wall could plainly hear her.

"Scouts, the Chief and his men are outside loading their guns to open a
fight on these two men hidden behind this wall, but that means there
will be an awful fight. Now, I have a much better plan; I am going to
pour gasoline all over this wall and then light it. It won't take long
to burn these logs down; but it will give these convicts a chance to
give themselves up."

Julie paused a moment, then called out loudly:

"Say, you two fugitives! Come out from there quietly and we won't drive
you forth."

But not a sound was heard from behind the wall. After a few moments,
Julie added: "All right! We'll have to burn down the hut. I'm sorry, but
we've got to get you, or give up camping here."

The scouts were intensely interested in this farce, but Julie meant
business. She turned to the Captain and said: "Make the scouts leave the
hut before I pour this gasoline all over the log wall. If they remain
here with lighted candles, the fumes of the gasoline will cause an
explosion."

Julie grinned at the girls and placed a finger on her lips as a signal
for absolute silence; then she continued:

"That's right, Captain; now you take that can of gasoline that stands by
the door, and pour it all over those logs while I soak these--then run
outside. I will wait, and the moment you are out I will throw a lighted
taper at the wall. Instantly the flames will eat up the bark and begin
to burn through. By that time those two men will be glad to crawl out
and give themselves up."

Julie pointed at a pail of water that stood by the door, so the Captain
picked it up. Then the scout began arranging the paper and kindlings in
the fireplace. These she lit with a match, and when she found they were
beginning to burn, she called out:

"Now! Let us throw the gasoline all over the wall! Ready!"

As Julie gave the word, Mrs. Vernon tossed the water over as much wall
surface as possible, then ran from the hut. The smoke now began to pour
from the fireplace and filled the room. The scouts had to remain outside
to keep from choking. Julie was the last to leave, but she smiled with
satisfaction when she saw the dense smoke quickly filling the hut. Then
she closed the door.

"Have you enough wood on the fire to last this trick out?" asked Mrs.
Vernon, anxiously.

"Piles of it! That's why it is smoking so furiously," replied Julie.

"Only a tiny spiral of smoke can be seen coming from the top of the
chimney, so most of it must be escaping from the fireplace into the
room," announced Joan.

Suddenly the scouts heard some one back of the hut wall cough. Then
another louder cough. Soon two were coughing and strangling desperately,
and the Captain patted Julie on the back approvingly.

Then a gutteral voice tried to be heard: "Vee gif up--onny safe us from
dis fire!"

Julie held Betty, who was going to shout back that they would be saved.
No one replied to the cry, and the two voices shrieked and screamed,
"Help! Help--dis house iss on fire--vee burn to dedt!"

Julie was about to answer, when the Chief and Mr. Gilroy ran up. The
latter caught Mrs. Vernon's look, but the former cried excitedly: "How
did the hut catch fire?"

He seemed terribly upset about it and wanted to know if the convicts had
set fire to the logs. Mrs. Vernon began to explain, while Julie
scrambled up on the roof of Hepsy's shed and carefully made her way
along the framework until she reached the chimney, where she held fast
and called down to the men behind the wall.

"Come out and give yourselves up, or roast where you are."

When the Chief heard the scout's command, he smiled and ordered his men
up on the roof to help. Then he followed Julie, and stood beside her
with cocked revolver aiming at the rocky wall. The other policemen
climbed up, too, and the Chief said to Julie:

"You'd better get down and join your friends now. We can handle the
rascals better if you are out of the way."

"But you won't have to use revolvers, 'cause they are unarmed," said
Julie, anxiously.

"How do you know that?"

"We heard them whispering. Besides, one man has a crushed foot, and we
scouts don't believe in hurting _anything_ that is helpless--even a
convict who has made lots of trouble for us."

"All right, little girl; I'll put my gun away, but we ought to have
_one_ to show, so the rascals won't try to overpower us."

"I guess they are so full of smoke and fear that they won't be able to
fight. Cowards always give up easy, you know," said Julie, creeping down
from the roof of the hut, back to Hepsy's shed.

As Julie had said, the two convicts crawled up from behind the wall,
looking the sorriest mortals ever one saw. Their eyes were red and
watery from the smoke so that they could hardly see, and they coughed
every other second. One limped most painfully, and had to be helped by
his pal. Then, just as they stood up on the roof to hold up their hands
in defeat, the other one broke through the tar paper roof and stuck fast
between the rafters.

"Oh, there goes our roof!" cried Betty plaintively.

"Never mind, Betty dear! You can hire men to put on fifty roofs now,
with the reward you scouts will get," exclaimed Mr. Gilroy.

"Reward! What reward?" asked five amazed voices.

Mr. Gilroy laughed delightedly. "The Chief told me that one reason his
men and all the men in Freedom were so eager to hunt these convicts, was
the hope of the cash reward offered. The State has offered $500 a head
for the capture, dead or alive, of these outlaws and aliens. You scouts
have captured the men!"

"W-h-y! I can't believe it! How did we do it?" exclaimed Betty.

"Oh--Julie caught them, didn't she?" cried Joan.

"Not alone, Jo. You all helped, and the Captain poured the gasoline, you
know, and took the risk of being blown to bits!" laughed Julie,
excitedly, as she twisted her fingers nervously.

"When the Chief told me of the rewards, I said: 'Then the girls ought to
have it, no matter who _catches_ the convicts, for they apprehended them
and turned in the news of their whereabouts.'"

"Oh, but we didn't, Mr. Gilroy. You did that yourself," Ruth corrected
the gentleman.

"I only took the blows from the prisoners--you did the rest. But I never
dreamed that you would capture them, too. I might have known that girl
scouts are capable of doing anything."

The moment handcuffs were on the convicts, they were placed in custody
of the officer. Then the Chief blew his signal so the hunters on the
mountainside would know the men were taken.

He congratulated Julie and her friends on having won the much coveted
reward, and then said to Mrs. Vernon: "I suppose you will hear from the
Government offices in a few days. Meantime, I will need the names and
addresses of the members of Dandelion Camp, to enter the report on my
records."

The scattered men who had been hunting through the forests now straggled
into camp, all eager to hear by whom and how the convicts had been
caught. When they learned that a few girls did the work, they looked
disgusted.

But one of the officers laughed heartily as he said: "Why didn't we
think of that hiding-place!"

"Wall, I kin say I'm glad th' gals got it! They lost all the camp
ferniture and grub, an' has to go home now!" added Lem Saunders, the
constable.

"Oh, we forgot to tell you! The food and some furniture was found hidden
down the trail in the bushes," exclaimed Joan.

"But ye haint be agoin' to stay out here any more, air yeh?" asked
Lemuel, wondering at such a risk.

"Of course! We are safer now than we were before we went to Bluebeard's
Cave, you know," laughed Julie.

"Now we know where those convicts will be, but for two weeks past they
were at large and we never knew it. _That_ was when there was cause to
fear for us--being in a lonesome camp," added Mrs. Vernon.

"Yeh," agreed Lemuel. "But what one don't know never hurts one, ye
know!"

"That reminds me!" exclaimed the Captain, holding up a hand for
attention. "Do any of you men know a young hunter and trapper from up
the mountain?"

"D'ye mean Ole Granny Dunstan's boy?" asked Lemuel.

"I only know he lives up the mountain somewhere, and makes his living
through selling pelts. I don't even know his name," said Mrs. Vernon.

"That's him! Ole Granny Dunstan's son," returned Lemuel.

"Is he with you to-night?" continued the Captain.

"Nah! He's gone to Washerton most ten days ago. They writ him a note
sayin' they was holdin' a French paper fer him," explained a young man
who was standing on the outer line of the posse.

"He fit so hard in France, yeh know, that th' Frenchys done sent him a
fine paper tellin' folks about him. I've hear'n said folks over thar
nicknamed him an 'ace,'" said another man.

"Then he must have been an aviator!" exclaimed Mrs. Vernon.

"Yeh! he can fly in one of them machines--but we don't keep any in
Freedom, so we never seed him ride one," said Lemuel.

"Well, gentlemen, I thank you for this information. But should you see
him when he returns from Washington, tell him we want him to stop in and
see us--at Dandelion Camp."

The Chief had ordered his men to accompany the convicts to the village,
so Mr. Gilroy offered the car to them. He was going to stay at camp with
the scouts, he said.

"But we left our suitcases at the hotel, and Hepsy is at the stable in
Freedom!" declared the Captain.

"We'll all have to go back, then, and come up in the morning," added
Julie.

So the convicts were tied to horses and two of the officers whose mounts
had been chosen for this need sat in the car with the scouts. But they
didn't mind being crowded when the two policemen began telling stories
of the narrow escapes they had had in the past while catching criminals.

As the cavalcade entered Freedom, Mrs. Vernon said: "After all those
blood-curdling stories, I doubt if my scouts will sleep."

It was past midnight when the hunting party returned to Freedom, and
only goodness knows what time it was when all the hunters had finished
telling the citizens how the convicts were captured by a few girl
scouts.

Long after the scouts had retired Mrs. Vernon heard them whispering to
each other. Finally she called out:

"Why don't you girls go to sleep?"

"We can't, Verny; we're thinking of that reward," said Joan.

"And we've spent most of it already!" laughed Julie.

"You'll have plenty of time to plan about it, girls, for the
Government--like most large bodies--moves very slowly. It may be next
summer before you get the check," said the Captain.

"Never mind; it will be ready for the Adirondacks, then."



CHAPTER FIFTEEN

A FURNITURE SHOWER


News of the raid on Dandelion Camp traveled swiftly, so that the head of
police in Elmertown heard of the posse and the reward offered to capture
the convicts.

He was going down the street after hearing the story and, meeting Mr.
Allison, stopped him.

"I suppose the scouts came home this afternoon," he said.

"The scouts! Why, no--why should they?" asked Mr. Allison.

"Is it possible that you have not heard?"

"Heard--heard what? Has anything terrible happened?" cried the frightened
father.

Now, the policeman knew that no one in Elmertown had heard the story,
but he liked to create an effect, so he explained carefully, "Why, two
convicts got away from State's prison and were hiding on that mountain
where your girls are camping."

"Good heavens! What happened?"

"Nothing more than their camp was broken up. All the food-stuff and
furniture are gone. The men stole everything and what they could not
carry away, they broke to bits."

"Why--how awful! Where were the scouts when this happened?" asked Mr.
Allison, trembling with apprehension.

"Oh, it seems they went to Bluebeard's Cave to celebrate the Fourth, and
there they found an unconscious man who had been beaten almost to death
by the rascals who, after robbing him, took him way back in the Cave and
left him there. But the scouts discovered him, and saved his life."

"Well, now! that is something like it," said the father proudly.

"But it didn't spare their camp. When they got back they found
everything gone, so they kept right on to Freedom and are staying at
Mrs. Munson's hotel."

"Why there--they should have come home," said Mr. Allison.

"They couldn't, I s'pose. You see, they would have to be on hand to
swear to warrants and everything. We police do things up according to
law, you know."

"Maybe they'll be home to-day," ventured Mr. Allison.

"Like as not. Well, so long!"

Mr. Allison thanked the officer and hurried to his office. He rang up
the Bentley's house and found Ruth's father at home.

"Say, Bentley, I just met the cop on our beat and he tells me the scouts
had an awful time! Two escaped prisoners were hiding on the mountains,
and smashed up the camp. Every bit of food and all the furniture broken
to bits. The girls saved a man that the outlaws had beaten to a jelly."

"Good heavens! Were any of the scouts hurt in the fight?"

"No, but I guess they were pretty well frightened,--eh?"

"I should say so! What are we going to do about it--go out and bring them
home?" said Mr. Bentley.

"Oh, the cop told me they were now at a hotel in Freedom, as they had to
be on hand to testify to certain things. I suppose they will be home
to-morrow."

"Let me hear from you if you hear anything new, will you?" asked Mr.
Bentley.

"Yes, and you do the same," replied Mr. Allison.

Hardly had both men hung up the receivers before the telephone bell at
the Lee house tinkled. May answered the call. Two men were trying to get
her. One said to the other: "Get off of this wire--it's busy."

Then the other replied: "I called the number first--I heard you come
in----Now get off, I have to tell this party a very important story."

"Ho! that sounds like Allison's voice--is it you?"

"Yes,--is this Bentley?" asked the other voice.

"Ha, ha, ha! I was just going to tell the Lees about the robbers and the
camp. But you can tell them, if you like."

"All right--hang up and I'll tell them," said Mr. Bentley.

Now, May had heard this conversation and when the men spoke of robbers
and camp she trembled with fear. By the time Mr. Bentley had told his
story, she was so weak that she had to sit down. Finally she managed to
get in a word, so she asked:

"But where are the girls? Did anything happen to them?"

"Oh, they are all right! They're stopping at the Freedom Hotel until the
police can get all their testimony."

"Thank goodness. The furniture can quickly be replaced, but the girls'
lives cannot. Now we will have to plan to refurnish their huts," said
May.

"Refurnish--why! Won't you insist upon their coming home now?" asked Mr.
Bentley.

"Why should they come home now, just after they cleared the pests out of
their vicinity? Of course not!"

"Well, I suppose you are right in one way. But Allison and I expected
they would come home to-morrow."

"Poor girls! They were having such a wonderful time in camp, too! I
guess I will get Mrs. Vernon's sister to take me to Freedom in the
morning to see if there is anything we can do."

"May, I think that is a fine idea. And when you see them give them our
love and say that we will do anything they say. If they plan to go on
with the camp--all right and well. We will stock them up again."

"All right, Mr. Bentley, I'll call you up when I get back and tell you
all they say. Meantime, let Mr. Allison know that I intend running out
to see them, will you?"

"Yes, I'll call him up at once, May. Good-by."

So it happened that Mrs. Vernon's sister-in-law and May went to Freedom
in the automobile the day following the Fourth, but found the town
almost deserted. Mrs. Munson told them how the scouts led the way up the
mountainside when the police arrived, and they weren't expected back
that day.

After sitting around and waiting until afternoon, May and Mrs. Vernon's
sister decided to go back. But they left notes with Mrs. Munson for the
scouts, as soon as they should return.

That evening May telephoned the Bentleys. After telling the little she
knew about the case, she asked them to come over and discuss a plan she
had thought of. Then the Allisons were asked to run over and meet the
others in planning a relief-party for the scouts.

That evening the whole plan was approved and worked out. May said that
the sister-in-law had promised to send the factory truck to the house on
Saturday at noon, so they need not worry about transporting the
donations to the camp. As that was the only hitch in the entire plan,
once it was removed every one was delighted.

That Saturday morning the local papers were full of the story of how a
few girl scouts found and captured two desperate outlaws. The story was
so highly embellished that several of the conservative parents in the
town thought it was dreadful to allow girls to go off in the woods
without a dog or a big brother. What the big brother would have done
that the scouts didn't accomplish is hard to say.

But most of the girls who had been so anxious to be scouts and spend the
summer in camp, now gnashed their teeth in envy. Here were four girls
who had to dig dandelions to earn the money to go away on, now having
the most wonderful time! They had their names in the paper, and every
one said what brave scouts they were! And, most of all, they were going
to have ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS from the Government as a reward. "Oh, why
did we have to sit at home all summer while these scouts were getting
all the fun?" they wailed.

The three families of the Dandelion Camp Scouts felt very proud of their
girls when they read the account in the papers, and they felt all the
more eager to go to camp with the donations of furniture, and show the
girls how much they appreciated their courage and cleverness in
capturing the rascals.

At one o'clock on Saturday the driver pulled his truck up in front of
the Lee homestead. Just inside the picket fence stood two cane-seated
chairs. The fact that hind-legs were missing was not apparent to a
casual observer, but that is why they had been in the loft for several
years.

The moment the truck was seen to stop, May and her father ran from the
house, carrying paper bundles piled high in their arms. Eliza followed
with a brass banquet lamp minus a globe. Handing this to the driver, she
hurried back for odds and ends of dishes and pans. May made a second
trip for some pictures in broken frames--also a washtub and old tools
that had been found in the loft.

The second stop was made at the Bentley's house. Their donation
consisted of a table with three legs; a small wash-stand bureau with
bottomless drawers; an old-fashioned towel-rack and a rocker with a very
lame back; in fact, the back might be called crippled and helpless. But
then they added a goodly stock of groceries.

At the Allison's house the driver took on a kitchen table with one
drop-leaf gone and the other hanging by one hinge. A small family
album-stand from the parlor of long ago. An old hair-cloth sofa with
broken springs and the filling most gone; a straw mattress and a spiral
spring that had not been used for years, so the Allisons thought it
might as well go to the camp as to be left in the attic. Foodstuff was
the last but not least of this donation.

When the truck reached the Vernons' house, where the sister-in-law was
waiting, many cumbersome and heavy items were added to the collection.
By this time the jitney party had been picked up one after another, and
now all arrived at the Vernons' house for the last passenger.

The truck and jitney then started for Dandelion Camp, the happy givers
picturing how delighted the scouts would be to receive the shower of
furniture.

At Freedom the surprise party found their girls had gone back to camp,
and the injured man with them. Lemuel Saunders was such a personage in
the public eye since the man-hunt on the mountain that he could be seen
strutting up and down Main Street, telling people all about the Great
Deed. Thus it was that the families from Elmertown heard the tale
first-hand--with all its trimmings.

As the truck started up the trail for the camp Mr. Bentley turned to Mr.
Lee and Mr. Allison and said: "According to Lemuel, he did the whole
trick. If our girls played so little a part in the capture, why should
they have had the reward?"

But further conversation was rendered impossible by the deep ruts worn
in the trail by the many wagons that had recently traveled the road.
People from Freedom and other villages nearby wanted to see the girl
scouts who had shown so much sense as to trap two convicts.

Finally the truck halted, and the jitney traveled on a few hundred feet
in advance before it, too, had to stop. Each member of the party then
took a piece of furniture and, carrying the load, started for camp.

The scouts were busy trying to put their camp in order again, when Mrs.
Vernon called out, "Some one's coming up the trail."

Ruth ran out to see who it could be, and then exclaimed: "Why, it's
Daddy! He's carrying an old table."

A few yards behind Mr. Bentley came Mr. Allison with the legless chairs.
And then followed the chauffeur, staggering under a canopy of the
husk-mattress. A line of visitors came behind him, each burdened with
some piece of old furniture.

The scouts stood speechless at the top of the slope, but gradually the
truth about this "moving brigade" dawned upon Mrs. Vernon. She turned
instantly to the girls, and said: "Be very grateful, for your people
have gone to a great deal of trouble to refurnish your camp."

Mr. Bentley was only too thankful to drop his burden when he reached the
scouts; Ruth caught hold of his hand, laughing merrily as she said: "Oh,
can you ever stand up straight again, Daddy?"

"I doubt it," returned he, holding the small of his back.

Then the others came up and deposited their donations beside the
kitchen-table. As each one sighed and wiped streaming faces, the scouts
declared they were the finest families on earth.

"You certainly are very self-sacrificing to bring all this furniture to
camp," added Mrs. Vernon.

"We would have been cold-blooded folks if we hadn't, after hearing how
all the rustic furniture was destroyed," said May.

"But we got it all back!" exclaimed Julie, joyously.

"Got it back! I thought those rascals smashed it up," said Mr. Allison.

"No--they just hid it behind bushes and trees; only the grass mats and
little ornaments were broken up," explained Joan.

"Dear me! Do you mean to say that we brought this load of odds and ends
all this way for nothing?" cried Mrs. Bentley.

"Of course not! Now we can entertain company over-night, you see. With
that mattress and spring we can have two people," declared Julie,
looking at her companions for credit of this idea.

"That's so! And we can furnish a regular bedroom with the chairs and
table--and banquet lamp," added Joan.

"But we will have to pin a notice on those chairs so no one will use
them," ventured Betty, doubtfully, looking at the legless objects.

Every one laughed, and Ruth added: "We'll build new legs on to them."

"You'll have to build another hut to hold the furniture," now said Mr.
Gilroy.

This attracted all attention to the stranger, and Mrs. Vernon suddenly
flushed crimson, and said: "Oh! What a poor scout hostess I make. I
quite forgot to introduce our guest, Mr. Gilroy." Then the usual
ceremony took place, midst the laughter of every one, for Mrs. Vernon
was considered to be very particular about social customs.

"Now that all this furniture is here, what shall we do with it?" asked
Joan.

"It won't stand dew and weather like our rustic pieces, you know," added
Ruth.

"If you scouts will help move the 'shower,' we might pile it back of
Hepsy's shed and cover it with a canvas until you have built a hotel,"
laughed May.

So, with merriment and strenuous labor, the furniture was neatly stacked
up beside the shed until it could be better arranged.

Then every one sat down to listen to the story of the capture of the
convicts. As all the scouts wished to tell the tale at the same time so
that no one understood, the visitors quickly voted that Mrs. Vernon be
the speaker. This was acceptable to the girls, and the Captain began.

She was a good story-teller, and the scenes were graphically described
until she reached the part where the Chief stood on the roof of the hut,
commanding the fugitives to come out. To make the recital more
impressive, the Captain threw out her arm, which was supposed to hold
the revolver, when quite unexpectedly the chair she sat in collapsed,
and she found herself on the grass.

For a second every one held his or her breath, then laughed heartily at
Mrs. Vernon's surprised expression. Julie jumped up from the stump where
she had been sitting and ran over to explain.

"Oh, I am so sorry, Verny! I forgot to tell you that the fore leg of
this rustic seat was loose. I tied it on with string to make it look
right, but I didn't think any one would use it."

"Good gracious, Jule! Did you think our camp wanted ornamental
furniture?" demanded Joan, thinking thereby to give a strong hint to the
friends who showered useless articles upon them that day.

This statement caused rather a silence in the visitors, until May said:
"I hope you won't find much trouble in repairing the pieces _we_ brought
for you."

"Oh, we will make some sort of use of them," replied Julie, frankly, as
sisters will. "We can pull the old stuffing out of that sofa, you know,
and use it for bedding for Hepsy, when we run short of dried leaves or
grass."

Every eye turned to look at the old sofa, and Mr. Gilroy had great
difficulty in keeping his face straight. Finally the erstwhile owner of
the sofa said: "Horses don't like hair for bedding."

Julie retorted: "Because it makes them dream of what all the tails and
manes come to when they die!"

This caused a laugh, and Joan added: "Anyway, a horse in camp--'specially
a scout horse--can't be choosers about bedding. They are glad to get what
is to be had."

Mr. Lee laughingly replied to this: "I'm glad I'm not a scout horse."

Mrs. Vernon now turned to her sister-in-law and said: "I'm curious to
hear what donations you found to bring out?"

"Oh, Pete told me there was a loft full of furniture over the old
stables. So I rummaged and found all I could manage."

"That reminds me, Mrs. Ormsby! We have not added your gifts to these
because we could not carry them up the slope. They were too heavy,"
explained Mr. Lee.

"My goodness me! More stuff?" exclaimed Ruth.

"Yes, but I think you will be pleased with my donations," said Mrs.
Ormsby, apologetically. "I heard how you had to manage with this poor
camp-fire, so I brought a kitchen stove that was stored in the loft. I
also----" but the lady got no further at that time.

The scouts laughed so that some of them doubled over and rocked back and
forth. Even Mrs. Vernon had to laugh at her relative's pity.

"Oh, oh! This is the funniest thing I ever heard!" said she. "Why, my
dear Kate, don't you know that half the sport of camping is trying to do
without modern equipment? Every camper tries to use wood-material only
for home, furniture and outfit. What would the founders of the girls'
scouts say if they heard we cooked our camp meals on a kitchen range in
the woods!"

"Do you really mean that you do not want it?" asked Mrs. Ormsby.

"Of course not! We have a fine fireplace and oven, so the stove and
stove-pipe may as well go back on the truck."

"Maybe you will scorn the walnut bed I brought as a great surprise? I
heard there was a spring and mattress, so I had the bed brought from the
loft and moved here on the truck with the other things. But it is so
massive and heavy, no one could carry the head and foot boards up the
hill. We thought Hepsy could do that," explained Mrs. Ormsby, dubiously
to be sure, after the reception her other gift had received.

Mrs. Vernon now laughed as heartily as the scouts had done just before
this. "Oh! That awful bedstead that always took an acre lot to hold it!
Where could we put it up? Our huts will never hold one section of it."

"I have a brilliant idea, Mrs. Vernon," now said Mr. Gilroy. "Suppose we
put up the bed down there in some secluded nook and then with the spring
and mattress I can have a wonderful suite of my own for a few nights."

"There! I knew that bed would prove useful!" declared Mrs. Ormsby,
sending a look of thanks to Mr. Gilroy.

"Maybe Mr. Gilroy would like the stove, too, to dry out the dampness
from the ground where he camps," suggested Julie.

Every one laughed excepting Betty; she took the idea as literal, and
said: "That might be a good plan for us--to use it in front of the
fireplace. You see, we can't burn wood there 'cause it smokes so, but
the stove-pipe can be run right up the flues so all the smoke from the
stove will manage to get up where it ought to go."

Another shout of laughter greeted this original proposition, and Mrs.
Vernon finally gasped: "If the stove goes in the hut, we will have to
stay out!"

"Then I suppose the stove has to go back?" Mrs. Ormsby wanted to know.

"We can sell it in Freedom, I have no doubt, and put the proceeds in the
bank for the Adirondack Camp," replied Mrs. Vernon.

"Oh, say, Verny! That's what we can do with all this furniture, can't
we?" cried Julie, eagerly.

But her vivacious suggestion seemed to meet with another strange
silence. Finally Mrs. Vernon broke the embarrassment by saying: "We
ought to get dinner, as it is long past the hour."

And Mr. Lee said: "I suppose the food-stock we brought to replenish the
larder will be scorned."

"Oh, no indeed, Daddy! We _need_ things to eat!" said Betty.

As they all sat in a circle on the grass, eating and laughing, Eliza
made a bold suggestion.

"Now, I sez we folks seem to be foolish over some things. One of 'em is,
we hoard ole furniture and odds and ends that even a Dandelion laughs
at! We pays rent fer jes' sech useless trash that we never wants to use
agin. Every house-cleanin' time we moves and cleans the rubbish what
collects moths, an' finally, affer years of savin', we throws it out."

She paused to see what effect this statement had on her audience, and
seeing it was politely received, she took another huge bite from the
sandwich she held, and, while chewing vigorously, concluded her speech.

"Now, this is what I sez: 'Let's go home and clear out all the rubbage
that clutters our attics, an' give it to the poor, or sell it to a
rummitch sale such as I hears tell of in Elmertown.'"

"I second that valuable motion!" laughed Mr. Lee.

And the men voted unanimously on the plan, but the ladies were not so
easily persuaded. Mrs. Ormsby quickly added: "All opposed to the motion,
say 'Nay.'"

But the scouts and Mrs. Vernon shouted hilariously to drown opposition.
There were two or three faint "nays," so the motion was carried, and the
men declared that they would see to it that it was fulfilled.



CHAPTER SIXTEEN

A VISIT TO GRANNY DUNSTAN'S CABIN


Mr. Gilroy's "suite of rooms" was put in order by the men before they
went back to Elmertown, and not only the walnut bed helped furnish the
chamber, but several other pieces of furniture were carried back from
the stack beside the shed, and placed to add a look of comfort to the
"room."

When all was done and the visitors were ready to leave, the scouts
declared they would accompany their relatives down the slope and pass
judgment on the "suite" to be occupied by their guest.

"It may be healthy to sleep out under the trees like this, but I prefer
a plaster ceiling," laughed Mr. Lee, waving his hand at the open woods
that was to be Mr. Gilroy's chamber.

"That's because you never tried Nature's ceiling. Once you sleep out in
the open, you will never want to try indoors again," replied Mr. Gilroy.

"I'd better not try it, then. I have to remain at home and see that some
one provides the 'pot-boiler,'" returned Mr. Lee.

The visitors climbed into the jitney and said good-by, and the scouts
turned to go up the hill again, when Mrs. Vernon remarked: "Now that you
have a boarder to look after, you must pay more attention to your
cookery. Mr. Gilroy must not regret having accepted our invitation to
camp with us for a few days."

"But our invitation had 'a string' to it, Verny," added Julie
laughingly.

"That's true--I said I would take 'pot luck' and teach the scouts many
camping tricks to boot!" declared Mr. Gilroy.

Sunday morning at breakfast Mrs. Vernon said she was very anxious to
meet young Dunstan, for he might have met her son in the Aviation
Service. Then she had to tell Mr. Gilroy about it.

"I thought I would like to drive down to Freedom later in the day, Mrs.
Vernon, and see if there was any mail for me. It was to be forwarded
from Junction, you know. If you would care to go and ask about Dunstan,
we might make a little party of it," suggested Mr. Gilroy.

"Yes, Verny, let's!" exclaimed the scouts.

"I am willing, as there seems little else one can do," added Mrs.
Vernon.

So Hepsy was hitched to the buckboard and the campers climbed in. As
they started down the trail, Ruth remarked: "We ought to be thankful the
posse found our hamper and seat in the Cave, and brought it back to
camp."

"Yes, or we'd have to ride on the floor of the buckboard," added Joan.

"We'd have more room there than on this seat," retorted Julie, who was
clinging to the iron rail.

"We can take turns walking if we are too crowded," suggested Mr. Gilroy,
who shared the back seat with two scouts.

"We'll have to do that, anyway, when Hepsy comes to a hill," laughed
Mrs. Vernon.

So with light banter the party rode to Freedom; there they were received
like heroes, for every inhabitant of Freedom had clipped the papers and
saved the items that mentioned the capture of the convicts. While Mr.
Gilroy went with Lemuel to get his letters, Mrs. Vernon asked if young
Dunstan had been heard from.

"Not yet, but sometimes he takes the Crest Trail to hum. In that case,
he nary comes nigh Freedom," replied an old native.

"Where does the Crest Trail start?" asked Mrs. Vernon.

"Wall, that's the way Mr. Gilroy went from Junction. It runs along the
top affer one gits halfway up from Junction."

As this description was not very accurate, the Captain decided to trust
to Mr. Gilroy's ability to lead them there. So she made a proposition to
Mr. Gilroy. The girls did not hear what it was, so they knew nothing of
the outing planned for the morrow.

"I think it will be fine, Captain, and I will see the man who has charge
of the stable," returned Mr. Gilroy, in a low voice.

Soon after this Mr. Gilroy went down the main street and turned in at
the livery stable. He was not gone long, however, and when he returned,
he nodded satisfactorily to Mrs. Vernon.

That night Mrs. Vernon said to the scouts: "You must all go to bed
early, as we have a jaunt planned for you to-morrow. Breakfast must be
out of the way quite early, as we hope to start from camp about eight
o'clock."

"Where are we going, Verny?" asked Ruth.

"I heard Verny asking about Dunstan's Cabin, and I bet she plans for us
to walk there," quickly added Julie.

Mrs. Vernon smiled at this added proof of Julie's mental alertness, but
she shook her head as she said: "Not a walk, but a ride."

"A drive, you mean," corrected Joan.

"No--just what I said. There will be horses from Freedom brought to camp
before eight to-morrow, if it is clear," explained Mrs. Vernon.

"Good gracious! I haven't any habit!" exclaimed Ruth.

"We will ride in the bloomers we wear at camp," said the Captain.

"I never knew there were enough saddles in Freedom for all of us,"
laughed Julie.

"That is what I went to find out," said Mr. Gilroy. "The man, Mark, who
has charge of the stable, told me he could hire some from the farmers
round about. He is going to bring up the horses in the morning and take
them back in the evening."

"What will he do meantime, to kill time here?" asked Joan.

"He said he would make some bird-boxes for you, and nail them up in
various trees, so you can entice the birds to nest here."

But the scouts had not yet studied bird-life, so they were not aware
that the nesting period was past. They delighted in the news that they
were to have bird-houses, however.

When Mr. Gilroy took up his flashlight to go down to his "Royal Suite,"
as the scouts called the walnut bedstead, Joan said: "Shall we escort
you down the trail?"

"Oh, no! I can find the bed, all right. It is such a huge affair that I
would have to be blind not to see it in the dark."

The scouts were soon in bed after this, and honestly tried to go to
sleep, but the new adventure planned for the morrow kept them awake.
After telling each other what they would wear and how well they could
ride horses, one after the other quieted down, and, last of all, Mrs.
Vernon was able to sleep.

It was past eight when Mark was seen coming up the trail leading a line
of horses, saddled and ready to ride. Stopping at the Royal Suite, he
waited for Mr. Gilroy to get upon the largest horse. Then they continued
to the camp.

The girls had breakfast out of the way, and were anxiously waiting for
the horses, so Mark had quite an audience as he rode up on the plateau.

The scouts seldom had opportunity to ride a horse when at home, and now
they commented on the different animals. Julie instantly said: "I choose
the brown one--he is so shiny."

"Seems to me they look awfully tall," whispered Betty.

"They be the usual size, miss," said Mark, who overheard.

"Maybe they won't seem so high when we get up," added Joan.

Mrs. Vernon laughed. "That is always the first thought of an amateur
rider--how high up the saddle seems!"

Mr. Gilroy assisted the Captain to mount, then he helped the girls up.
Mark had an extra horse, and now he said: "I brung my own hoss ez I
figgered I'd best lead the way as fur as Crest Trail. After that it's
easy going and you can't miss Dunstan's Cabin."

"All right, Mark--lead on," said Mr. Gilroy.

"As the hosses is all safe fer ridin', the scouts needen' fear 'em. They
ain't colts ner air they skittish," said Mark.

Mr. Gilroy smiled, for he surmised as much. The mounts, in fact, seemed
aged enough to be pensioned for the rest of their lives.

As Mark led the way up the trail, he described Granny Dunstan and her
abode. "She's most a hunerd years old, an' she's allus lived in that
cabin. This boy is her great-gran'son, but his folks lives in a town
some forty mile away. He come to stop wid' Granny when she got so old,
an' he likes the woods life."

"But he enlisted, you say, to fight the Germans," said Mrs. Vernon,
eagerly.

"Yeh! He keeps up to th' times, an' hes books and papers up thar. When
the _Lusertani_ was sunk he got reel mad, an' come down to Freedom an'
wanted to git a crowd of young uns up to go and shoot the Huns. But they
diden' want to go so fur from hum. Then he got his dander up an' says:
'I'll jine myself, then. You'll hear of me some day!' And off he goes.
Some folks said he oughter have stayed wid his Granny, so a few of us
druv up to ask her about it. Golly! she mos' made us deef with her
shoutin' at our bein' slackers, cuz she said her boy was the onny true
Yank in Freedom!

"She made us feel mighty small when she shouts out: 'Yuh call yer town
Freedom! Bah--it ain't nothin' but a handful of cowards. It oughter be
called "Slack town."' We got away pritty soon affer that, an' folks
ain't so anxious to visit Granny as onct they was."

This explanation gave the scout party a good idea of the old woman they
were about to visit, and Mrs. Vernon said:

"Do you think we should have told her we wanted to call?"

"Oh, no! she don't mind strangers. She goes about her chores jes th'
same ez ef no one was there," said Mark.

The seven horses padded softly up the grassy trail, and when they
reached the cross-trail near the top of the mountain Mark reined in his
mount.

"Now, yeh foller that trail to the crest an' then turn t' th' left.
Foller the road clear on till yeh come to the Cabin."

Mark waited and watched until the last horse had disappeared on top of
the mountain, then he rode back to camp to wait. The scouts continued on
the trail, passing noisy streams that ran madly over rocks or fell over
cliffs. The birds and flowers were many-hued and beautiful, so that
every step of the way was enjoyable. Mr. Gilroy rode in front, and the
Captain at the rear of the line.

After a ride of about three miles along the Crest, Mr. Gilroy stopped
his horse and looked at a tiny cabin half-hidden under vines and giant
trees. It sat back from the trail about twenty feet, and might have been
passed by unless one was looking for it.

"Isn't that lovely?" Joan said.

"Yes, in summer; but think how dreadful it would be in winter," added
Julie.

"She doesn't live here all winter, does she?" asked Ruth.

"Yes; Mark says she won't leave the place, although her
granddaughter--the aviator's mother, you know--begged her to move down to
her home," explained Mrs. Vernon.

"The roof's as green as the grass," now said Betty.

"It's moss on the old shingles," said Mrs. Vernon.

"Mark told me that folks at Freedom say the old lady has a heap of money
hidden away in this old cabin, and no one knows where except her
great-grandson, who will be the heir," said Mr. Gilroy.

"But that is all conjecture, Mr. Gilroy, as no one has ever heard a word
about it from Granny or her boy," added Mrs. Vernon.

"I think it is idle gossip, for how could the old dame make the gold up
here? It would take all she could earn with her herbs to pay for her
living," admitted Mr. Gilroy.

"Does she sell herbs?" asked the scouts, eagerly.

"Mark said she is the greatest Nature physician ever found around here.
If the medical men can't cure a sickness, they send for Granny Dunstan,
and she gives the patients a drink of simples and they recover quickly.

"She used to sell these remedies all over the countryside, but of late
years she doesn't come down to the towns like she used to. Her boy sells
his pelts instead, so that is why the people said she had gold enough."

"I'm glad you told us this, Mr. Gilroy," said Mrs. Vernon, "as I should
like the scouts to learn from the aged woman how she gathers and
prepares the tea and balms."

The riders dismounted and tied their horses to trees, then followed Mr.
Gilroy across the grass to the cabin. The door stood open but not a
sound was heard from within.

"Just look at this construction!" cried Julie. "She's used stones, logs
and everything in the walls."

"And the growing trees were used for corner-posts of the house," added
Mrs. Vernon, examining the odd structure.

Mr. Gilroy rapped politely on the door, but no one replied. Again he
rapped louder, and a shrill bark sounded from a distance back in the
woods.

"I guess she's out in her garden," said Mr. Gilroy.

"I heard a funny grunt from the little shed at the back of this room,"
whispered Julie.

"Let's go around the corner of the cabin and see if she is back there,"
suggested Mrs. Vernon.

So they followed Mr. Gilroy, and all had to laugh when they found the
grunt came from a sow with a litter of little pigs. She was queen of the
shed that leaned against the cabin, so the scouts watched her with
interest for a time, then turned to follow after Mr. Gilroy and the
Captain.

But the sow grunted excitedly when the little ones ran after the
visitors. They thought there would be something to eat, and having never
seen strangers before they knew no fear of them. The angry grunting of
the old mother hog made the dog bark again from the woodland, and soon
after a bent-over form could be seen coming from the woods.

A hound bounded before her, barking shrilly at the trespassers, until
the old woman shouted: "Be quiet, Bill!"

Instantly the dog dropped behind his mistress, and Mr. Gilroy lifted his
hat as he greeted the aged dame.

Mrs. Vernon went forward also, and said: "We came to see you, Mrs.
Dunstan; I heard your boy was an aviator in France, and I felt an
interest in meeting and talking with you and him. My boy was one, too,
but he was shot down."

This was an opportune introduction, as nothing melted the old lady's
scorn and indifference to visitors like the interest one took in
aviation.

"Now, this be a real treat! Them folks at Freedom won't dare to come and
see me since we went to war!" declared the centenarian in a strong
voice.

Granny Dunstan squinted keenly at the visitors to make sure they were
truthful, and, finding they seemed earnest, she led the way to the
cabin.

"I rickon we better sit outside; the cabin's too small to hold more'n
three of us," announced Granny, as she turned to address her visitors.

Her criss-crossed wrinkled face seemed to roll up with that grin,
showing shrivelled toothless gums. Yet the aged face was attractive,
with a subtle kind of wholesomeness seldom seen in old people. Mrs.
Vernon said, later, that it must be the result of living alone with
Nature and her children for so many years.

"You said you had a boy what was aviator in France?" questioned Granny,
the moment the scouts had seated themselves.

"Yes, and when I heard your boy had been over, I was anxious to meet you
both," said Mrs. Vernon.

"Wall, my boy's got a cross from France, an' now he's ben sent for to go
to Washin'ton and meet some big folks what's here visitin' from France.
I tell you, John's a right smart soljer!"

The proud old dame wagged her head briskly as she gazed from one to the
other of her hearers. Then she suddenly changed the conversation.

"Yeh hed a long, long ride from Freedom, didn't yeh?"

Mrs. Vernon explained that they were camping and had only traveled from
the plateau that morning.

"Oh, ye'es must be the gals John tole me about one day--he said thar war
some tramps loose on the hill and he wisht yuh knew it so yuh could keep
a dog to warn 'em off. In fack, he wuz agoin' to git yuh one, but he had
to leave so quick-like."

Granny was very entertaining, and before the scouts left, she had shown
them many of her preparations, witch-hazel being one of her remedies.
She treated them to drinks of birch-beer, and gave them vials of
winter-green flavoring, and peppermint oil, to be used in candy-making.

"I'd like to bring my girls up again, Granny, to have them learn more of
your art of chemistry. The proof that you have found the secret of
living long and well is evident in your strength and power to enjoy life
as you do," said Mrs. Vernon, as they said good-by.

"An' I'll tell John about you havin' a boy over thar, an' he'll be sure
to come and see yuh," said the old lady.

"I'll be so happy to become acquainted with him. Who knows, but he may
have known my son and can tell me something of his life there. We have
never been able to learn much," said Mrs. Vernon, pathetically.

Granny Dunstan placed a bony hand gently on her visitor's arm and looked
volumes with her bright little eyes. Then and there, age, position, and
all earthly claims disappeared, and the scouts were given a wonderful
sight in beholding a perfect spiritual communion between two entirely
different humans.

On the ride back to camp, Mr. Gilroy said: "Well, I wouldn't have missed
that visit for anything."

"If 'imitation is the sincerest flattery' then we are flattering Granny
Dunstan, for we are going there again to learn the things she knows,"
said Mrs. Vernon.

The scouts found that Mark had erected several bird-houses, and as they
stood watching him line up his horses again, to lead them back to
Freedom, they plied him with questions about Granny Dunstan.

"Mark, does she keep all those pigs for meat in winter?" asked Ruth.

"No, she fatten's 'em en sells 'em fer groceries en' other needs. Her
pork fetches more'n enny other round th' country."

"How do you account for that, Mark?" asked Mrs. Vernon.

"Cuz it is such sweet and clean meat. Them pigs fatten up on acorns and
nuts. And that makes the finest tastin' flesh, yuh know."

After Mark left camp, the girls still talked of the old lady and her
wonderful knowledge of woodcraft. Mr. Gilroy and Mrs. Vernon stood at a
short distance, conversing in low tones. Finally they came over and
joined the scouts.

Mr. Gilroy said: "I want to thank you scouts for all you have done for
me, not only in saving my life, but in entertaining me later."

Julie looked anxiously up at him and said, "You sound just as if you
were going to leave."

Mrs. Vernon and he laughed: "To tell the truth, I am."

"There--I knew it! It's that old walnut bed!" cried Ruth.

"Oh, no," laughed Mr. Gilroy. "It is because I must keep important
appointments at home. You see, I merely got off at Junction when I heard
of the Cave, and here I've been ever since."

"You had as good a time here, as elsewhere, haven't you?" demanded
Julie.

"Better than I've had in years, but now I must go on. But I want to make
a proposition to which your Captain agrees.

"Next summer, as soon as school closes, I want you girls to visit my
place in the Adirondacks. The reward of money you will receive will pay
all expenses for fares and outfits, and I will try to be as fine a host
as you were hostesses. Will you?"

"You said you were from New York?" argued Joan.

"So I am--when I am at home. But I spend most of the year in my
Adirondack camp. You see, I am an ardent Boy Scout admirer, and every
summer I have a crowd of boys camp in the mountains with me. As I have
several thousand acres there, we won't interfere with you girls. In
fact, I have just been telling your Captain that I am going to write to
Headquarters and offer my place to the Girl Scouts for any number of
camps they may see fit to start. I can make it very comfortable for
them, as my workmen have cut good roads through the woods and many
trails are worn over the surrounding mountains. If you'll agree to
establish a flourishing Troop by next spring, I will agree to give you
the time of your life."

When Mr. Gilroy finished, the scouts were too delighted to speak for a
time. Then Julie sprang forward, and threw her arms about his waist. She
hugged him so unexpectedly, but withal so tightly, that he gasped for
breath. Every one laughed, as it expressed their sentiments exactly.



CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

NEW MEMBERS


"Well, our friend is off! Now what can we do?" wailed Ruth, as the
scouts sat disconsolately about the fire.

"I wish we could camp in the Adirondacks this summer! We still have
August, you know," said Joan.

"Mr. Gilroy particularly mentioned _next_ season, and besides, you have
to become a registered Troop, before you can accept his invitation,"
hinted Mrs. Vernon.

"I should think we ought to hurry up and begin, then," suggested Julie.

"How can we? Those girls in Elmertown will all be away for their
vacations, and how can we find them?" grumbled Ruth.

"Mr. Gilroy said he had given orders in Freedom that any time we wanted
to take a trip about the country, we were to have the automobile he
rented that day for the hunt. He said that this would be his present to
you this summer because he would not be here personally to take you
about," said Mrs. Vernon.

"What did you say--did you refuse or accept?" asked Ruth.

"At first I said I didn't think he ought to pay for the drives, but he
silenced me with a look, and said: 'I have already paid for ten drives
in advance--so they must be used up.'"

"Hurrah! Then we can go for one to-morrow, can't we?" cried Joan.

"I have been planning where to go if we take a drive to-morrow,"
answered Mrs. Vernon.

"Why can't we go to Elmertown, first of all, and find out about the new
members. I don't want to postpone that until it is too late to teach
them anything. You see, we must get on in scoutdom, so we can visit Mr.
Gilroy's place next year," said Julie.

"That's what I wanted to suggest, Julie--that we drive home and find out
about new members," responded Mrs. Vernon.

So the grocer's order-man was told that afternoon to have the chauffeur
bring his car up to the crossing of the trail with the woodland road the
next morning, where his passengers would be waiting for him.

The following day was fair, so the scouts hurried with the camp-work and
then ran down the trail to wait for the car. They were soon on the road
to Elmertown, enjoying the smooth running of the car over the fine road;
after the rough mountain trails, and Hepsy's uncertain going, it was a
luxury.

Many stops were made in Elmertown, but of all the girls' homes visited
only five were available to join the scouts. Many were away on visits,
and a few were not allowed to consider joining a camp where escaped
convicts were caught behind the walls!

This last excuse caused such merriment from the scouts that severe
mothers wondered what there could be to laugh at in dangers such as they
ran while camping in the woods.

The five girls who were so eager to join the scouts, had the willing
consent and co-operation from their mothers. So Mrs. Vernon felt it was
much better to take girls whose parents appreciated the benefit of the
scout work, rather than to have girls whose mothers were waiting to
criticise or discourage their children in the undertaking.

When the five had been finally decided upon, the Captain notified them
that the car would call for them that day week, and they were to be
ready to return to camp.

"It will take you a week to prepare, girls, for you must write to New
York and secure a handbook for each, and not only read it, but study the
first rules in the book. We have been doing that since we went to camp,
so now you will have to catch up," said Mrs. Vernon.

"And rest assured we will give you some awful initiation tests before
you become full-fledged members!" threatened Julie.

The scouts and the "would-bes" laughed at this, for they knew the tests
would be funny ones that would amuse every one.

"Only pack sensible things, girls. Middy blouses, a pair of khaki
bloomers and a pair of blue serge ones. You'll need a serge dress, too,
and a heavy sweater. If you have a light-weight sweater, also, so much
the better," advised Mrs. Vernon.

The elated scouts-to-be eagerly promised everything, and then watched
the car drive away. But they felt no envy or regret for they would be
traveling the same road a week hence.

"Verny, maybe we ought to be glad we've got all the extra furniture
now," ventured Betty, as they climbed the familiar trail and passed by
the Royal Suite.

"That's so, Verny. We can let the new members furnish their hut with the
stuff," said Joan.

"Only they haven't any hut," Ruth added.

"They will have to build one, like we did, to pass a test in carpentry,"
remarked Julie.

"I think Betty's suggestion better than the one Ruth made last
night--that we chop up the furniture for kindlings," now spoke the
Captain.

"Well, I didn't really mean that, you know! I only said it when I had to
go and collect damp wood for the fire," admitted Ruth.

That evening as the scouts sat about the camp-fire, Mrs. Vernon
remarked: "I wonder if you girls realize how much you have already
improved in this one month of camp-life?"

They then began to compare notes.

"Julie isn't nearly as impulsive as she used to be," said Betty.

"But she still has enough left to find fault with," laughed the Captain.

"And Betty isn't so preachy as she was when we weeded dandelions on your
lawn," commented Ruth.

"Betty is beginning to have more confidence, too," added Julie, gazing
at her twin in a speculative way.

"What about me--how have I improved?" eagerly asked Joan, looking from
one to the other of her companions.

"You--oh, Joan, you are hopeless!" laughed Julie, whereupon Joan fell
upon her and they had a rough-and-tumble time on the grass.

"Thus endeth every serious lesson I try to teach," laughed Mrs. Vernon,
when the contestants came back to the fire.

"I say, scouts: can any one see the improvement in Verny?" now called
Julie, in rebuttal of the Captain's last words.

But the girls refused to testify, and then a new subject was introduced.
"I am sure I heard thunder just then."

"I thought I saw a flash a little time ago," added Joan.

"Maybe we had better get our things in under cover, then, and be ready
to go to bed if it rains," suggested the Captain.

Consequently a mad scurrying took place and the scouts were cozily
housed when the rain came down.

The next morning Mrs. Vernon said: "I have been waiting for spare time
to give you scouts a few lessons in first aid, but now that we expect
new members in the Patrol, it may be just as well to wait for them. Many
can learn as easily as a few individuals."

"Still, that need not keep us from having a few tests," replied Joan,
who looked for some fun in this practice.

"True; and if you have a little lesson now, you ought to be able to help
the new members when they come in," added Mrs. Vernon.

"All right--let's begin," said Julie.

"My first question will be: What would you do for first-aid in case of
accident?"

Julie giggled: "I'd take mighty good care not to have one! I call that
genuine first-aid."

The others laughed, and Mrs. Vernon said: "You are right of course,
Julie, but that is not what I mean. Because there are many people who
meet with accidents, who need aid at once. And there are nine-tenths of
the people who know nothing about rendering help properly. However,
during the last ten years, due a great deal to scout work, I believe,
the schools are taking up this work and teaching children just what to
do."

"We never had it in our school," said Betty.

"Maybe the town is too small to pay an instructor, but all city schools
teach first-aid, I'm sure," replied the Captain. "Now, girls, let us be
serious in this lesson.

"Drop your skirts and practice in your bloomers, as you can move about
easier that way."

The scouts did as they were told, and then Mrs. Vernon said: "We'll try
Betty first, as she is the lightest of you girls.

"Now let us pretend Betty went in swimming and was taken suddenly with
cramps. She sank. One of you saw her disappear and called on the others
for help. You ran to the water's edge and saw some one swim to shore
with her; no one but you scouts knew how to revive her, so you went
right to work to save her life.

"Now, Betty, stretch out on the grass just as you would if you had been
dragged in from the water in an unconscious state," advised Mrs. Vernon,
helping Betty to repose as she should.

The three scouts watching, giggled as this sort of work was fun. When
Betty was in the right position, Mrs. Vernon called:

"Now scouts, loosen her clothing as quick as possible--because every
second counts with her life.

"If she has on corsets, unhook them immediately that respiration may not
be retarded. If she has on a skirt with tight belt, or other
close-fitting garments that prevents circulation, undo them at once, or
even cut it open if it can be accomplished in no other way. Now she
ought to breathe. Tell me, can she draw her breath easily?"

"Can she! She's breathing so hard that I'm afraid she'll explode unless
she has a chance to laugh!" retorted Julie.

The scouts all laughed, but Mrs. Vernon remained serious, as she knew it
would never do to give Julie encouragement.

"Now then, empty her lungs of water by laying her, breast downwards, and
holding her up by the middle. Julie and Joan do that."

Betty was very ticklish, and the moment Julie took hold of her sides,
she squirmed and giggled. Julie tried to be severe.

"Teacher, this drowned scout won't let me get a good grip on her side. I
fear she will have to expire unless she rolls over at once."

Even Mrs. Vernon had to laugh at Julie, and Betty said: "Well, I'll roll
over, if you'll make Julie stop tickling me."

Obliging little Betty then rolled over face downwards, but in a second
she was up on her feet, squealing and shaking herself. Every one was
surprised, and Julie said aggrievedly:

"Now what's the matter?"

"Oh, I saw a nasty fat spider running in the grass right under my nose!
I wish some one else would drown for me, Verny."

The girls laughed, and Julie added: "It's bad enough to have you get
cramps and drown without inviting us to follow suit!"

"Here, Betty, get down in this short grass where there will be no plump
little spiders," advised the Captain.

Betty complied, and then the two aids again took their places beside
her.

"Now we will begin again. Take Betty by the middle, girls, and allow her
head to hang down for a few moments to take the water out of her lungs."

This lesson was done well, then Mrs. Vernon said:

"Now turn the patient face downward on her breast and give artificial
respiration."

"Explain, Verny--that long word is too much for me," said Julie.

"You press the lower ribs down and forward towards the head, then
release. Repeat this action twelve times to every minute."

Now Julie and Joan worked with a will, and Betty found herself revived
far enough to object to their energetic treatment. She had had five
respirations administered, and her first-aids were giving the sixth,
when Betty kicked out with her heels and tripped Joan over upon her
face.

"My! This dead one came to mighty quick, Verny. We must be powerful good
treaters," laughed Julie.

"Scouts, I am sure Betty is well along the road to recovery, so we can
go on to the next lesson," laughed Mrs. Vernon.

"The next thing to do, is to place heated bottles of water at Betty's
feet, and rub her arms and legs briskly, but be sure to always rub
towards the heart," said the Captain.

"Must I have more treatment?" asked Betty, plaintively.

"Sure! You're not all alive yet," laughed Ruth.

Julie and Joan began rubbing as they had been told, but Betty suddenly
sat up and said: "Last night you said I was becoming more
self-confident! All right, now I am so confident that you two girls are
each going to get a big kick, that you'd better get out of my
way--quick!"

"Scouts, don't give up," called Mrs. Vernon, laughingly. "Betty is doing
fine, so you must not stop such treatment."

"Then you come here and take my place," said Joan, who dodged the kick
too often for comfort's sake.

"But she must be put in a warm bed, and give her hot drinks, you know.
With plenty of fresh air, I trust she will be as well as ever," said
Mrs. Vernon.

But Betty had managed to kick both her nurses and that ended the lesson.



CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

THE SCOUTS MEET JOHN DUNSTAN


The following day while the scouts were washing the dinner dishes, a
young man came across the plateau. He was dressed in nice clothes and
wore a straw sailor hat. As he neared the camp, he lifted his hat and
smiled.

"Why--it's the hunter!" cried Julie, dropping the dish-mop and drying her
hands on her apron.

"So it is--where is Verny!" added Joan.

"Didn't you know me, ladies?" asked the visitor.

"You looked so different the other day in your hunting clothes," said
Julie, smiling graciously.

Ruth and Betty had gone to find the Captain, and now they came back with
her.

"This is John Dunstan, Verny," said Betty, simply.

The young man was invited to sit down with them, and being a genuine son
of Nature, he felt quite at ease anywhere, so he began to chat with Mrs.
Vernon.

[Illustration: _He sat down and began to chat with Mrs. Vernon_]

"Granny told me about the scouts calling on her," said he, showing how
much he appreciated the visit.

"Yes, and we are going again, as we enjoyed our first one so much," said
the Captain.

"She says you had a son in the aviation field 'over there,'" continued
John.

"Yes, and I do so want to talk with you about that; but first, let me
ask you if you knew of those convicts being at large in the woods the
last time you were here to help the scouts finish the roof?"

"That was why I wanted to see you," said John. "I had reason to
_believe_ that two tramps were somewhere about this mountain, and I
feared they might start for the village. If they did, they would come
across this camp, and I didn't like to think they might annoy the
scouts."

"You didn't know they were convicts, then?" said Julie.

"If I had, do you suppose I would have allowed you girls to win the
honor of catching them? I would have taken them myself."

"How could you--all alone?" said Joan.

"The same way I rounded up five Huns when they shot down my plane on
their side of the battle-line. I managed to get them, too, and marched
them across No Man's Land at night, and brought them in prisoners to our
Captain."

"Oh, oh! tell us all about it?" entreated the girls.

"Some other time, scouts, but now I want to answer this lady's
questions," said John, laughingly.

"Only tell us this much--is that what you got the medal for?" begged
Julie.

"That, and one other trick I turned," said John, without any sign of
self-importance.

"My boy enlisted before the United States entered the war," began Mrs.
Vernon. "Because we had no air service, he entered the Royal Flying
Corps in Canada. He was with them until we declared war on Germany, then
he wanted to fight under his own Flag. It was in his first battle as an
American Flyer that he was shot down."

"I was with the Royal Flying Corps, too, at first. But I didn't get your
name, Captain, so I really do not know the name of your son," said John.

"Oh, don't you know my name--it is Vernon; and my boy's name was Myles
Vernon. He was a Lieutenant in the Lafayette Escadrille."

"Why--Mrs. Vernon! Myles and I were flying and fighting together when he
was shot down! That is the very battle I was just telling of, when I
bluffed the Germans into such fear that they gave up and marched across
to the American lines as my prisoners."

"Oh, oh, really! How happy I am to find some one who saw him at the
last. Do tell me all you know, my boy, for we had very little
information to console us."

John then told how bravely Myles fought and how he had shot down three
planes of the enemy before they got him.

"I saw his plane burst into flames but he managed to get into his
parachute and cut loose. Then as he dropped nearer the earth, a machine
gun riddled the parachute and he fell.

"I know he met death instantaneously, for I fell very near the same
place, and saw his body immediately afterwards. I was handed the
personal effects he had with him, and had charge of them while I spoke
to the interpreter who took down the name and address. Then I had to
give them over to their authorities.

"Mrs. Vernon, I saw the Germans place his body on a bier and carry it
away to a house removed from the line of battle. And some weeks later, I
visited the lovely little farm where he is buried. It is cared for by a
mother who lost three sons for France, and now she takes the greatest
joy in caring for the flowers she has planted on American Boys' graves.

"I can tell you of many valiant battles Myles Vernon fought, before he
was killed in that one. I saw several of these fights myself, and my
friends told me of others--when they heard Myles was gone."

"Oh, I am so happy to hear this. I feel as if you are the direct answer
to prayers. Long have I desired to hear about my boy from some one who
knew the facts!" cried Mrs. Vernon, with eyes streaming.

"But were you not injured when your plane fell that day?" asked Julie,
eagerly.

"By some strange freak, the wings caught in a giant tree and stuck
there. The upper branches were broken and hung down from the impact, but
the lower boughs and trunk stood up firmly beneath the terrific jar. I
was so shaken up that they thought my neck was broken, and I pretended
to be a great deal worse than I was, because I believed I could find a
way to escape.

"They left me with the doctor and a few nurses, and when it was learned
that I was partly recovered I had to help them. It was the freedom
accorded any one who assists in looking after the sick prisoners that
opened a way for my escape."

The scouts were so anxious to hear all about his experiences that he
entertained them the greater part of the afternoon. When he finally
stood up to go home, he was begged to come again very soon.

"I will tell Granny that you expect to come up and call on her again?"
said he, shaking hands with Mrs. Vernon.

"Yes, but be sure and come down to see us soon, won't you?" said she.

John left, and Mrs. Vernon excused herself for a time. She went in the
old hut, and Julie leaned over to whisper: "Now she'll go and cry
herself to pieces!"

"No, Julie, I think she is going to pray out her thanks to God for His
mercy in sending her such glorious news of her boy," returned Betty,
gently.

And Betty was right. For when the Captain returned to the scouts, her
face was shining with a radiance that seldom was seen on her face.

"Girls, where shall we have the new members build their hut?" asked she,
as if nothing had ever caused her to think of aught but the scouts and
their work.

"Why not move Hepsy's shed along and have them use that site for their
house?" suggested Joan.

After much planning and arguing, it was decided that the new members
could choose their own site and choice of building. "They may prefer to
live in a tent--for all we know," said Ruth.

The four scouts worked hard all that week to present as fine a camp as
could be found to the new members, and when the five girls drove up in
the car to taste the joys of a scout camp, they were duly impressed with
the order and neatness of everything about the camp.

How these nine girls formed a Troop of splendid Girl Scouts, how they
won badges for prowess in many tests and trials, and how they were the
envy of all the school-girls in Elmertown, is too long a tale to tell
here.

But this much can be said: The reward for the $1000 was paid over to the
scouts, and the Captain placed it in the Bank of Freedom, to the account
of "Girls of Dandelion Patrol." That was the beginning of their savings
to pay expenses of a Camp in the Adirondacks the following season.

And how they finally went to the much-longed-for camp where Mr. Gilroy
welcomed them for a whole summer's visit, is told in the second volume
of the Girl Scouts Mountain series, called "Dandelion Troop in the
Adirondacks."



_This Isn't All!_

Would you like to know what became of the good friends you have made in
this book?

Would you like to read other stories continuing their adventures and
experiences, or other books quite as entertaining by the same author?

On the _reverse side_ of the wrapper which comes with this book, you
will find a wonderful list of stories which you can buy at the same
store where you got this book.

_Don't throw away the Wrapper_

_Use it as a handy catalog of the books you want some day to have. But
in case you do mislay it, write to the Publishers for a complete
catalog._



GIRL SCOUTS SERIES

By LILLIAN ELIZABETH ROY

Author of the "Polly Brewster Books"

Handsomely Bound. Colored Wrappers. Illustrated Each Volume Complete in
Itself.

Here is a series that holds the same position for girls that the Tom
Slade and Roy Blakeley books hold for boys. They are delightful stories
of Girl Scout camp life amid beautiful surroundings and are filled with
stirring adventures.

GIRL SCOUTS AT DANDELION CAMP

This is a story which centers around the making and the enjoying of a
mountain camp, spiced with the fun of a lively troop of Girl Scouts. The
charm of living in the woods, of learning woodcraft of all sorts, of
adventuring into the unknown, combine to make a busy and an exciting
summer for the girls.

GIRL SCOUTS IN THE ADIRONDACKS

New scenery, new problems of camping, association with a neighboring
camp of Boy Scouts, and a long canoe trip with them through the Fulton
Chain, all in the setting of the marvelous Adirondacks, bring to the
girls enlargement of horizon, new development, and new joys.

GIRL SCOUTS IN THE ROCKIES

On horseback from Denver through Estes Park as far as the Continental
Divide, climbing peaks, riding wild trails, canoeing through canyons,
shooting rapids, encountering a landslide, a summer blizzard, a sand
storm, wild animals, and forest fires, the girls pack the days full with
unforgettable experiences.

GIRL SCOUTS IN ARIZONA AND NEW MEXICO

The Girl Scouts visit the mountains and deserts of Arizona and New
Mexico. They travel over the old Santa Fe Trail, cross the Painted
Desert, and visit the Grand Canyon. Their exciting adventures form a
most interesting story.

GROSSET & DUNLAP, PUBLISHERS, NEW YORK



THE LILIAN GARIS BOOKS

Attractively Bound. Illustrated. Individual Colored Wrappers. Every
Volume Complete in Itself.

Lilian Garis is one of the writers who always wrote. She expressed
herself in verse from early school days and it was then predicted that
Lilian Mack would one day become a writer. Justifying this sentiment,
while still at high school, she took charge of the woman's page for a
city paper and her work there attracted such favorable attention that
she left school to take entire charge of woman's work for the largest
daily in an important Eastern city.

Mrs. Garis turned to girls' books directly after her marriage, and of
these she has written many. She believes in girls, studies them and
depicts them with pen both skilled and sympathetic.

  GLORIA: A GIRL AND HER DAD
  GLORIA AT BOARDING SCHOOL
  JOAN: JUST GIRL
  JOAN'S GARDEN OF ADVENTURE
  CONNIE LORING'S AMBITION
  CONNIE LORING'S DILEMMA

GROSSET & DUNLAP, PUBLISHERS, NEW YORK



AMY BELL MARLOWE'S BOOKS FOR GIRLS

Charming, Fresh and Original Stories

Illustrated. Wrappers printed in colors with individual design for each
story

Miss Marlowe's books for girls are somewhat of the type of Miss Alcott
and also Mrs. Meade; but all are thoroughly up-to-date and wholly
American in scene and action. Good, clean absorbing tales that all girls
thoroughly enjoy.

THE OLDEST OF FOUR; Or, Natalie's Way Out.

A sweet story of the struggles of a live girl to keep a family from
want.

THE GIRLS AT HILLCREST FARM; Or, The Secret of the Rocks.

Relating the trials of two girls who take boarders on an old farm.

A LITTLE MISS NOBODY; Or, With the Girls of Pinewood Hall.

Tells of a school girl who was literally a nobody until she solved the
mystery of her identity.

THE GIRL FROM SUNSET RANCH; Or, Alone in a Great City.

A ranch girl comes to New York to meet relatives she has never seen. Her
adventures make unusually good reading.

WYN'S CAMPING DAYS; Or, The Outing of the GO-AHEAD CLUB.

A tale of happy days on the water and under canvas, with a touch of
mystery and considerable excitement.

FRANCES OF THE RANGES; Or, The Old Ranchman's Treasure.

A vivid picture of life on the great cattle ranges of the West.

THE GIRLS OF RIVERCLIFF SCHOOL; Or, Beth Baldwin's Resolve.

This is one of the most entertaining stories centering about a girls'
school that has ever been written.

WHEN ORIOLE CAME TO HARBOR LIGHT.

The story of a young girl, cast up by the sea, and rescued by an old
lighthouse keeper.

WHEN ORIOLE TRAVELED WESTWARD.

Oriole visits the family of a rich ranchman and enjoys herself
immensely.

GROSSET & DUNLAP, PUBLISHERS, NEW YORK



THE BLYTHE GIRLS BOOKS

By LAURA LEE HOPE

Individual Colored Wrappers

Text Illustrations by THELMA GOOCH

Every Volume Complete in Itself

The Blythe girls, three in number, were left alone in New York City.
Helen, who went in for art and music, kept the little flat uptown, while
Margy just out of a business school, obtained a position as a private
secretary and Rose, plain-spoken and business-like, took what she called
a "job" in a department store.

THE BLYTHE GIRLS: HELEN, MARGY AND ROSE; Or, Facing the Great World.

A fascinating tale of real happenings in the great metropolis.

THE BLYTHE GIRLS: MARGY'S QUEER INHERITANCE; Or, The Worth of a Name.

The girls had a peculiar old aunt and when she died she left an unusual
inheritance. This tale continues the struggle of all the girls for
existence.

THE BLYTHE GIRLS: ROSE'S GREAT PROBLEM; Or, Face to Face With a Crisis.

Rose still at work in the big department store, is one day faced with
the greatest problem of her life. A tale of mystery as well as exciting
girlish happenings.

THE BLYTHE GIRLS: HELEN'S STRANGE BOARDER; Or, The Girl From Bronx Park.

Helen, out sketching, goes to the assistance of a strange girl, whose
real identity is a puzzle to all the Blythe girls. Who the girl really
was comes as a tremendous surprise.

THE BLYTHE GIRLS: THREE ON A VACATION; Or, The Mystery at Peach Farm.

The girls close their flat and go to the country for two weeks--and fall
in with all sorts of curious and exciting happenings. How they came to
the assistance of Joe Morris, and solved a queer mystery, is well
related.

GROSSET & DUNLAP, PUBLISHERS, NEW YORK



THE POLLY BREWSTER SERIES

By LILLIAN ELIZABETH ROY

Durably Bound. Illustrated. Colored Wrappers. Every Volume Complete in
Itself.

A delightful series for girls in which they will follow Polly and
Eleanor through many interesting adventures and enjoyable trips.

POLLY OF PEBBLY PIT

Tells about a Rocky Mountain ranch girl and her many adventures.

POLLY AND ELEANOR

Eleanor Maynard visits Polly at the Ranch and they have lively times.

POLLY IN NEW YORK

Polly and Eleanor visit New York and have a number of very interesting
experiences.

POLLY AND HER FRIENDS ABROAD

The girls go abroad and spend most of their time with other American
travelers.

POLLY'S BUSINESS VENTURE

Polly and Eleanor take up interior decorating. They attend sales of
antiques and incidentally fall in love.

POLLY'S SOUTHERN CRUISE

A hurricane and cloud-burst threatens to swamp the vessel in which Polly
and her friends take this trip.

POLLY IN SOUTH AMERICA

Polly and her friends land at many funny old towns and have several
exciting adventures not altogether pleasant.

GROSSET & DUNLAP, PUBLISHERS, NEW YORK





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