"Last summer, Gilly said he would tell us all sorts of Indian legends when we visited camp in the Adirondacks. Now we're here and this is the right sort of an evening to tell them."
The other scouts seconded the suggestion, but Mr. Gilroy said: "Funny, but I don't remember that promise."
"I told you you've got an awful memory—didn't I want to dub you 'The man-with-a-poor-memory?'" teased Judith.
The guest sat gazing silently into the fire for a few minutes, then he began:
"I'm going to tell you a story that is told by the Alaskan Indians. These ancient legends have been handed down from one generation to another, but the original goes back before the days of Moses. I was deeply interested in a few of these tales because they sounded so much like our story of Creation as told in Genesis, that I wondered if a white missionary had sown his seeds of Christianity in the fertile soil of the Alaskan Esquimaux' mind.
"But as far as I could ascertain this legend was told many hundreds of years before white man ever stepped on Alaskan ground. Recently I learned that Iceland has similar legends, and it may be that the Alaskan Esquimaux are descended from those of Iceland. It is well known that Iceland is the oldest civilized land in the world—that it was famous for its learning before the days of Solomon the Wise."
A STORY OF CREATION*
A Legend of Raven
*This legend, given in various ways by different tribes of the Icelandic and Alaskan Indians, each with its own variations, but all with one thread of similarity woven through the tales—was partly interpreted and grouped by the author into the legend that appears in this book. It is said to date back thousands of years before Abraham and our Bible. Acknowledgments for original texts and tales are due the Smithsonian Institute.
"No one knows just how Raven first came to be, and we have many different beginnings to start from, but in Sitka we know that Raven never had beginning nor will he have an ending.
"Raven was always the All-in-all, and, as he knew all things and made all, he began to wish to have a form of his wisdom that, too, would live on with him forever. So it was that he made him a son to help in the creation. And the son's name, also, was Raven. And now it is of Raven, Son of Raven, that we speak.
"Raven was instructed in every form of knowledge and he was trained in every wise thing, so that when he grew up he would have everything necessary to make a glorious world, where all beautiful wishes and every good idea would be objectified, and would remain forever a praise and prayer to Raven, the Father Creator.
"So Raven made the world, but he found there was no light with which to show the beauty and form of what he had created. Then, after deep thinking, he remembered his father to have said that there was a large lodge far up the Nass where One kept all the Light that ever could be found.
"Raven tried many ways in which to reach this house on the Nass, but the way was unknown to every one, so he wandered afar, seeking for the true trail. One day he helped an old lame man along the path and, for gratitude, the old man said: 'You seek the One of Nass who keeps the Light?'
"Raven replied, 'Yea, for many days have I sought Him.'
"Then the lame old man smiled a strange smile, and said, 'I know of but one way to bring this great Light into the world you made, and that way is to send forth that Light through the daughter of the One with the Light.'
"'But, Brother, how do I know there is such a daughter? And if there be, how shall I receive the Light through her?'
"'O Raven, thou art a great creator! Thy father is All-in-all of the North, and the daughter of Light will joyously send forth this Light you need to show the beauties of your world,' said the old wayfarer.
"'Then tell me this, O Brother, for I seem not to know how to reach the Virgin of the Light, despite all the wisdom I have been taught,' anxiously begged Raven.
"'Then hark to my words, O Son of Raven: I will turn you into a small drop of water, and fly with you over the House of Light. As I pass the pool whence comes the water for drink, I will drop you into a glass the Virgin holds ready to quaff. Then you will know what to do.'
"Raven showed his surprise, for he had believed the old man to be lame and helpless, and now he found he was a Wise Man who could find his way wheresoever he would go.
"Then the old man, with the wonderful drop of water held carefully in his palm, flew over the House of Light, and passed low down over the pool where the Virgin stood ready to drink.
"As she raised the cup to her lips, the drop of pure water which had been Raven, fell into the liquid, and she drank all that the vessel held.
"Now this drop of clear water grew and became a man-child, and the Virgin knew she was to bring forth the Light unto the World, that all might enjoy the beauties of creation. So she was happy and praised Raven and the Father of Raven, day and night, for having given himself to become a little drop of water that the Light might be born.
"When the time came for the Light to be revealed, the Virgin prepared a royal bed of furs of great value for the Man of Light to be born on. But the babe struggled and refused to be born in a state of riches, and he whispered to the Virgin: 'The world of joy and riches needs me not, but the world of sorrow and darkness needs me. I will shed this Light on such as are heavyladen and weary.' So the Virgin knew the Light must be born in meekness and humility, that all brothers could find Raven without pomp or pay.
"So the birthplace was lined with common Iceland moss, and the child of Light was born thereon. The moss-bed was made up in a room that had been used for the humblest things in the Great House of Light: that is, for the storing of queer bundles, some large, some small, and all of various shapes and colors. And when the babe looked around at the walls of his birthplace, his eyes shone like stars and a heavenly smile beamed from his face, for he knew what those bundles contained!
"As the child waxed strong and beautiful, the mother saw that it yearned for something she had not hitherto given him, so a servant was ordered to seek everywhere and find what it was the babe craved.
"Finally, the attendant moved a bundle that hung at the farthest end of the room. And as he did so, the child laughed and his eyes shone brightly.
"'Bring that bundle here—it is what the Babe wanted!' declared the mother. So the unwieldy bundle was placed upon the bed.
"The mother carefully removed a wrapper, but found still others to undo. Finally all the wrappers were taken away and but one remained. This was of a wonderful shimmering material such as no one had ever beheld before. The mother reverently opened this cover, and lo! there lay revealed all the Stars of Heaven!
"The Child gurgled with joy, and took the corner of the shimmering cover and drew it, with the contents, over to himself. He looked upwards, and with a wonderful expression in his sweet face, suddenly flung the bright cover and all the Stars it held, up through the smoke-hole of the lodge.
"With a happy, joyous laugh, he watched the Stars scatter far and wide to rest finally in the Firmament, and there they shine to this very day!
"The Virgin Mother then knew that this child truly was Raven, the Son of Raven, and she commanded every one to bow down in worship, for he had been given the power to bring Light to the world of darkness, and no more would darkness cover the people.
"Soon after the Stars were fixed in the Firmament of Heaven, the child again yearned and seemed to pine for something. But now the mother knew what had to be done, so she commanded an attendant to take down the bundle that hung in the corner whence the Stars came.
"This bundle was brought over to the mother, but it was smaller than the first bundle that had held all the Stars. The Mother carefully undid the many wrappings of this bundle, and found the last covering was made of a filmy frosty texture which had no opening or end that might be unrolled.
"But the child held out his hands eagerly for the bundle, and the moment it had been given him, he found the secret opening and then unrolled the cover. When the last frosty bit of gauzy cloud fell away from the contents so carefully preserved, every one exclaimed in wonder at the beauty they beheld. There was a big Moon, cool and shining, then as now!
"The child clapped his hands with delight, and wafted the Moon with its frosty gauze covering up through the smoke-hole of the room and it became fixed as the Stars, to give light through the hours of darkness, that the earth need not stumble and fall upon a black pathway.
"The third bundle was great and difficult to reach, but the child cried for it and the servants had to work and struggle to reach it, until finally, down it came. And as it fell, it sent forth sparks of strange fire that consumed not a thing, yet prevented any servant from handling the bundle.
"The child laughed and clapped his hands, but finding no one could hold the flaming bundle, he crept over and took it. The mother stood affrighted lest the Child of Light be consumed. But he unwrapped each covering himself, and when the last dazzling wrapper was revealed, no human being durst gaze upon that Light. But he who was born of Light looked upon what was hidden in that covering and flung all up through the smoke-hole to take its place in the Firmament of Heaven, where it shines like unto a Sun—to-day, as in those days. And it was given the world to shed its rays of Light upon the earth by day, even as the Moon shines for Light by night, and the Stars sing for joy and gladness that Light came to the world.
"After the Sun, and Moon, and Stars were made, this man-child did many wonderful things that astonished all who came to the House of Light to hear and see such a marvelous being. But there was still one bundle left hanging in a very gloomy corner of the birth-chamber, and this bundle was left until the child grew to the stature of a man. Then he demanded that it be given him.
"'No, no, my son,' wept the mother, 'do not ask for that—it contains Death.'
"'Know then that I know it,' returned the young man, seriously. 'Knowest thou not why I came to be born of the Light? Not only that the world might have eternal Light, but also to dispel all darkness that Eternal Life might come through the overcoming of this Death.
"'The Light I had, and the Light I gave, but through forever closing the gates of Death to the world I forever fix this Light of Life in the Heavens that no one can darken it more.'
"The mother wept for she knew her son must die if he took down that bundle, but he replied: 'For this great mission was I sent to you that, through you, should be given birth to Light, and thus establish for all time the Light for the world.'
"Sorrowing, the mother herself took down the bundle and brought it to her son, and no servant might remain in the room when Raven, Son of Raven, removed the coverings of Death. As the last wrapper was removed and the mother saw the heavy shroud that folded itself clingingly about the ghastly contents of that bundle, she ran weeping from the room, for she dared not watch her son accept it.
"So the birth-room remained closed while Raven fought with Death, but after three shinings of the Sun, and three shinings of the Moon, and with the shining of the Stars as they sang softly, a blinding Light shone through all the walls of the House of Light, and the mother with her attendants ran to open the door of the birth-chamber, now called the Room of Death. But behold! the man Raven himself was revealed in shining raiments, shining like the Sun, and he smiled upon those who fell down in awe at sight of him.
"'I have destroyed Death for all, and now I go to shine in the Heavens with this Light of Life that was given me. All who will may follow where I go,' said Raven.
"'And at that, he rose through the smoke-hole and took his place in Heaven, but his Light shone then and shines now into every corner of darkness in the world. And the day is come when there is no more darkness, for rich and poor, good and bad, and every created thing made by Raven, see the Light that transforms everything into lights that find their places in the Firmament of Heaven.'
"Raven, Son of Raven, sat hidden in the Great Light that he received when Death was overcome, but he saw that the earth was without form. Then he desired to create seas and mountains upon the face of the void, and he sat thinking and thinking for many a time.
"Suddenly he remembered that in the House of Light there was a wonderful pool of clear water. So he sent a ray from the Sun down through the clouds and thereby drew up enough water to drink. But he did not swallow the cooling water. He held it in his mouth and flew with it over the whole earth which was void of form.
"He spat forth a drop of this water and it became the source of the River Nass. Another drop from his mouth became the Stikine River, and the third drop became the Taku River. Then followed the Chilkat, the Alsek, and finally, all the great rivers of the North.
"But Raven found he would need more water for seas and oceans and lakes, so he sat again, and by thinking and thinking he received the idea.
"It was not according to his wish to send a sunbeam to the pool of eternal water in the House of Light, to bring up more of that pure water to him, and he was happy when he conceived the idea that came to him. And this it was:
"'If the rivers I made, run on eternally because their source came from the House of Light, why shall I not guide them all to one great meeting-place and call that the Ocean? But as they run to this one rest, even so will I give them smaller rests along the way, and at these resting-places they may spread out upon the bosom of the earth. These rests will I call Lakes. Then there will come times when the Ocean, which is continually filled from the eternal source of the Rivers, must needs overflow its boundaries. And these overflows will fill up the great holes in the earth. So these I will call Seas.
"'Even as the Sun sent his ray to carry me the drink from the pool that is in the House of Light, so will I command the Sun and the Moon and the Stars to govern the waters of the earth, and thus the Lights in the Firmament of the Heavens will draw up any surplus overflows, that these may turn to moisture in the cloudy coverings that wrapped the Lights before they became fixed in the Firmament. The Clouds will rain down refreshing drink upon all lands on the earth, that all things may replenish themselves and so live eternally, in one grand bond of Brotherhood, loving and helping each other, from the Great to the Small, and from Small to Great.'
"And it was as Raven desired. So to this day, the Sun and Moon and all the Stars work together in harmony to keep the Rivers and Lakes, and Seas, and Ocean within their bounds and to replenish all things.
"But Raven found afterwhile that so much water flowing ceaselessly from the Source, and the rain that fell from the Clouds upon the land, made the earth so wet that it was not a good place to dwell upon. Then he began to think and think again, of how he might create something to dry up the surplus moisture.
"Now he was walking by a great ocean, one day, still thinking of plans to dry away any unpleasant dampness, when he saw a Petrel sitting on a rocky promontory.
"'Brother,' called Raven to the bird, 'how came you here?'
"'I? Oh, I was born when the waters were sent to earth. How came you here—and where were you born?' asked the Petrel.
"'I? Oh, I was born before the world was thought of, so I have no beginning and no end,' replied Raven.
"'Ha! Tis well said, but rings not true,' the Petrel jeered. 'No one ever was before this world was created, and no one ever shall remain when this world ends.'
"'I am Raven, Son of Raven, and because you know not the Truth of Creation, but believe the Lie, you shall henceforth go about in a fog. Your name shall be earth-made, and you shall dream dreams in this fog, but you may not see the Light until that day when the whole world shall be freed from all forms of darkness!'
"And instantly, a fog-cover fell over Petrel, because he knew not the Truth told by Raven, Son of Raven. And the fog so hid from the eyes of Petrel the Sun and Moon and Stars that came from the House of Light, that he believed them to be controlled by a Lie, also.
"But Raven learned that the fog he had called forth from the waters on the earth made the place still more moist and not good for a place of sojourn. Then he planned to dry it away quickly.
"Petrel, the earth-bound, was left groping in the fog for the Truth he had scorned and now could not find, and Raven passed to a place where he saw something floating on the wave not far from shore. He failed to recognize it as of his creating, so he wished to reach it.
"While looking about for something to use to reach it, he saw a bird with a very long bill, watching him. This bird was not like anything he had created so he knew it must be an offspring of the fog, mist-made, and related to Petrel.
"Raven then commanded this bird, 'Fly out over the water and bring back yon floating object.'
"The bird with a long bill was a chicken-hawk, and it lived by killing weaker and smaller birds than itself. Raven knew this was its way the moment he saw it was mist-made, and so he sent it on this errand.
"The chicken-hawk dared not refuse to go after the bright object floating on the wave, but he said to himself, 'I'll drop it if it is not good for me to carry!'
"Raven knew this evil intent, and said, 'When you have taken hold of the object, do not drop it till you have brought it ashore.'
"So the chicken-hawk left in no good humor, and flew out to the wave, where he found a mass of fire floating there. He was a coward, such as all mist-made creatures are, and he feared to bring in the great ball of fire, yet he dared not disobey the command of a superior being like Raven. So he tore off a mouthful only, and that is how he came to be so badly burned. Had he caught hold of the whole mass of flame, the outside of which really had been cooled as it rolled about upon the waves, he could have escaped without an injury.
"He brought the piece of fire to shore, and Raven said, 'Because you were cowardly and obeyed me only through fear, your beak shall remain forever burned off and short as it now is.'
"And so it is to this day, and shall be until Light redeems all things.
"Raven then took some chips of red cedar and some white stones, and mixed them in the fire. These were distributed over all the earth, so that many great forests grew up from the cedar shavings, and thus absorbed the surplus moisture on the land. And mighty volcanoes were formed of the red-hot stones, and these, in consuming the water under the surface, steamed and spewed forth the massive rocks and varied-hued stones that gave peaks and cliffs as pleasant places for deer and sheep to roam upon.
"Thus, with the face of the earth so beauteous, Raven sat down and rejoiced. But Petrel and Chicken-hawk were left to wander in the fog.
"Finally, Raven's mother died, and he sorrowed greatly, for she saw not the Great Light that he had established to overcome the darkness of Death. Still, because she had always dwelt in the House of Light and had given birth to Raven, Son of Raven, she was given an honorable place in the Firmament of Heaven.
"And Raven, as the custom was in the realm where his mother had lived, prepared a great feast in honor of his mother. But he began thinking how he might honor her in a different way. So he cut a witch-hazel wand with which to point at anything he wished to use in the preparation of this feast. Thus he collected wood and stones and many things on the face of the earth. And when all this was assembled he built him a great house.
"Then he called the rain and sunshine to hide the house until he was ready for the feast. He then sat down to think and think, and this is what he thought, and what came of it.
"'I want fish to swim in the waters, and birds to fly in the skies, and creatures to live in the forests, and beings to live on the land, to be found in this house when it is opened. And they will all be perfect, lovely, and good, to live with this creation I have made.'
"Thus, having thought all these things, Raven stood up and stretched out his hand that held the wand, and pointed it over the house that was hidden as yet by rain and clouds.
"And, suddenly, the rain ceased its downpour, the sun smiled, and the house stood revealed in all its beauty. Then Raven sang:
"'This made I for an honor to my mother!'
"And as he sang his song of honor and praise, the house opened and all manner of living creatures came forth—beautiful, perfect, and an honor to the earth upon which they would dwell.
"So it is that even to this day, when one makes a feast to honor a dead person who will sit in a place in the firmament, the house of the living is opened to all, from the greatest to the least of the earth.
"When the feast was over Raven wished to leave an eternal monument to his mother, the Virgin who gave birth to the Light, so he called to him the four winds to help.
"'South Wind, in the spring and summer when all the sun's rays are warm, blow gently upon the earth and sing of my mother.'
"'North Wind, sit on top of the ice-mountain yonder, and when the earth is chill and sorrowing for my mother, blow fiercely from your snow-laden hills and sing over her grave.'
"'East Wind, when the earth-people weep salt-water over the biers of their dead, and sigh because of their loss, sing to them of my mother.'
"'West Wind, when you blow gently, and tell the earth that storms and cold and sorrow may come but Light shines in the end to bring them joy and peace, sing low and sweetly of my mother.'
"Thus the four winds came to earth to sing to the peoples dwelling here, and every one heard of the mother who gave birth to Light—Raven, Son of Raven.
"But after all these things were done, Raven sat down and thought and thought deeply, and as he thought he called upon his father, the Great Raven, the All-in-all, for advice.
"And having received advice, Raven stood up and lifted his hands to the Heavens, and sang with a loud voice:
"'I shall make men in my image and likeness, and they shall dwell in the Light and be given dominion over all this earth I have made for my joy and pleasure. Thus we shall be happy and live forever!'
"So Raven made all men like unto himself. They were good and perfect and beautiful and they all dwelt in love in the Light. And thus they dwelt many, many days, and were happy.
"But the fog which had been called out for Petrel's error harbored many birds of evil omen, and these, guided by Petrel, swept through the fog and attacked the Men of the Light. The fog covered all things and caused every one to grope about, seeking to find one another and escape from the mist that hid the Shining Light.
"And thus any one who had the slightest degree of fear or greed or malice or lying in his heart, breathed in the fog and thenceforth lived in a dream. They were thenceforth born of the fire of wrath that the Chicken-hawk tore apart from the floating mass, and were consumed with fear. They lived their days in the fog that came upon Petrel when he believed a lie, and they suffered and sorrowed and died, all in a dream caused by the fog; and afterwhile these mist-men forgot there ever had been a perfect earth created by Raven, Son of Raven, where love and beauty and joy rule everything.
"So Petrel ruled his world of fog, where hate and sin and death were his servants, and thus it happened that a Petrel is the sign of storm and trouble and blinding mist, but the Raven is known to be wise and patient for it knows where its Light dwells.
"So Raven sits, and patiently waits for Petrel's dreams to lose themselves in the fog, for such will surely come about. And as the Lights ruled by Raven shine stronger, the fog grows fainter and still lighter, until breaks the Day when all mist vanishes and Raven's Creation is seen forever beautiful and perfect."
When Mr. Gilroy concluded his beautiful legend, the scouts were silent. It was the greatest praise they could bestow at the moment, for the story was not one to call forth applause and noise. Then they began to speak, but in soft voices.
"And to think that this story of creation, so similar in many ways to our Bible Stories, was handed down from ancient days," remarked Mrs. Vernon, thrilled by the realization.
"I find many interesting similarities between our Bible and the Holy Legends reverently told by the Esquimaux. But this one always struck me as being as fine as any. That is why I told it," explained Mr. Gilroy.
Then their Camp Entertainer, as Julie now named Mr. Gilroy, bid them all good-night and went up the trail. And the scouts were soon in bed, their last waking thoughts being of Raven, Son of Raven, the All-in-all of Creation.
LOST ON THE TRAIL
A few days after the girl scouts' visit to Grey Fox Camp, they were agreeably surprised by having the boys visit them. Mr. Gilroy was with them, and as each boy carried an ax and a woodman's knife, the girls knew they came to work.
"We decided to cut a shorter trail over the crest, and as to-day is so cool, we thought it would be a fine time for work," explained Alec, the leader in the boys' camp.
"One day's as good as another! We're ready to help any time," replied Julie, as leader of the Girl Scouts' Troop.
"Why didn't you let us know, then we might have blazed the trail up our side of the mountain, and you boys would have worked from your side. When we met on top, we might have celebrated with a feast," ventured Mrs. Vernon.
So the girls ran for axes and knives, and all began work together, back of Dandelion Camp. They cut and chopped, and blazed a fine trail up past Silver Falls, where the doe had called to her mate the first night the girls were at Camp, and so on to the top of the mountain. But it took the greater part of that morning to go as far as they did.
"We'd better stop here, and go back to see how the trail seems," suggested Mr. Gilroy.
"Why not finish the job, now that we're on top?" asked Alec.
"Because you boys can easily blaze from here on to your camp, and I am beginning to worry lest my dinner is burning," laughed Mr. Gilroy.
"Your dinner! Where's the Indian cook?" asked Alec.
"He's cooking for fifteen! I have invited guests coming to dine at the bungalow this evening," returned Mr. Gilroy, meaningly.
"Oh, hurrah! Isn't that fine? Now we won't have to wash any supper-dishes!" exclaimed Ruth, who still disliked doing dishes.
The girls laughed, for they understood, but Alec said, "Why talk about a supper so distant! I'd rather plan about something to eat this minute."
"So would we all. I guess we are nearly starved," said Ned.
"Why not stop work and cook a few steaks?" suggested Bob.
"You boys have done all the talking about something to eat, but the girls said nothing. Maybe they are not hungry!" ventured Mr. Gilroy.
"Hungry! We're too weak to speak," sighed Julie, rubbing the spot under her belt.
"I can eat reindeer moss without its being cooked," said Amy.
"That settles it! Cook we must, but what?" declared Joan.
"Well, some of us will hunt up the mushrooms; some must gather bracken, some, the lichen; and Gilly can hunt up the coffee beans, alias roots and acorns," said Alec.
"What will you be doing, meantime?" retorted Mr. Gilroy.
"Oh, I'll just remove that package of flour from your pocket and use this strip of bacon that I lifted from Dandelion larder; and when the steaks come back, I'll have bread and fat ready over a fine fire."
"Bacon! When did you manage to steal that?" demanded the Captain, amazed.
The boys laughed, for Alec's clever sleight-of-hand was an endless source of fun for them.
"Don't all hunt together. Divide your strength and see that results come back with you," advised Alec, rolling up his sleeves preparatory to starting his fire.
"I can't fish like the other boys, so I'll go with the girls who are going for the beefsteaks," said Dick.
"All right. And where will you go, Captain?" asked Alec.
"If Gilly is sent for coffee, I shall hunt for tea. I do not care for his brand of coffee, but I do know where to find the ingredients for a nice fragrant cup of tea."
A laugh circled the group, and Mr. Gilroy said, "All right. Now see to it that you don't ask for a drop of my coffee, hereafter."
So they separated, some of the scouts going with Mrs. Vernon; Bob and Ned going for trout; Hester and Amy with Mr. Gilroy; and Julie, Joan and Judith with Dick, for mushrooms.
After breaking a way through a dense jungle, the latter four scouts came out to a small clearing, but they had not seen any mushrooms.
"What a fine baseball diamond this clearing would make!" said Julie, as they looked around.
"And there are some chestnut stumps—on the far side of the clearing!" exclaimed Dick, crossing to the spot.
But they found no mushrooms on the stumps, much to their chagrin. "There'll be other trees about here, where we're sure to find what we need," said Dick, eagerly.
So into the woods they plunged, winding about here and there, but not finding what they sought. None of them thought to blaze a trail as they wandered, consequently had no means of telling how far or in what direction they had gone before Dick found a few small mushrooms.
"Only enough for a few of us. We need more than these," he remarked.
"There's sure to be more where these are. Let's keep on hunting," urged Julie.
So they kept on winding through the underbrush, but with no good results. Finally Dick found a plant that he believed to be a wild potato.
"No, it is not. It hasn't the leaves or blossom of the Indian potato," declared Joan.
"That may be, but when it grows old it dries up, you know," argued Dick, beginning to dig at the root.
The girls wandered about seeking for signs of more mushrooms, but could find none. Then Dick stood up and stretched his back-muscles.
"My that was tough digging when you have no tool. And it wasn't a potato after all."
"Well, we've been gone a long time now. Suppose we go back with what we have," said Joan.
"Yes; even if we can't fill up on steaks to-day, let us eat more of the greens," added Judith.
So they turned to go back to camp. They climbed over the boulders similar to those over which they had already climbed, over similar fallen timber, and finally came to a stream.
"I don't remember a brook when we came," remarked Julie.
"Neither do I," added Judith.
"All places look alike when you're hunting anything. We may have crossed a bog or a brook and never have noticed it," said Dick.
"Oh, I would have noticed it! I wouldn't be such a poor scout as not to know where I was going," returned Julie, defensively.
"Now, Dick, I'm sure there was no bog where we came through, but here's one right ahead of us," called Joan, who was a few paces ahead.
"No, there was no bog!" affirmed Julie.
"Did you bring a compass?" now asked Dick.
"No, we never thought of being lost," murmured Julie.
"We're not lost, just strayed a bit," Dick assured them.
"'Lost, Strayed or Stolen'—it's all the same if we have to miss our dinner," sighed Joan.
They managed to cross the boggy spot and then trailed to a place that Dick claimed was the clearing. But it turned out to be a little fen made by a tiny spring.
"What we should have done was to leave our marks as we came through—broken twigs, or trampled grass, or some such signs," said Julie.
"But we didn't, and now is no time to talk of it!" Dick said impatiently, for he began to realize that they really were lost.
"We can begin right now, however, and then not keep circling around without recognizing that we were there before!" snapped Julie.
So the girls began, then and there, to leave their signs as they followed after Dick, who really knew not where he was leading.
"Had we better separate and go in different directions to hunt the camp?" asked Dick finally.
"Mercy, no! Better be lost together than get lost each one alone!" exclaimed Joan.
"Sort of 'United we stand,' etc.," chuckled Julie, in spite of her concern over not finding the way.
They kept on forcing a way through the thick bush and resting now and then when they found a little clearing; but finally Judith cried: "You'll have to go without me! I'm so weak from hunger I can't walk another step."
"Girls, suppose we stop and cook the steaks?" asked Dick.
"I say so, too," agreed Julie.
So they cleared a little space in the woods and with two rubbing-sticks soon produced fire. While two of the girls were doing this, Dick washed the mushrooms in the little spring they had seen, and then sliced them with his knife.
"We haven't any salt or bacon, but they'll taste good to starved wanderers," said Dick, holding one over the fire to cook.
Each girl spiked one on a sharpened stick and held it out to broil. When the mushrooms were cooked they each ate until they felt better. Then Dick made a suggestion.
"Making this fire gave me an idea. Why not make 'two smokes' for signals. If Alec or any one else is looking for us, they can see them."
"Why didn't we think of that before! Fine idea, Dick," said Joan.
"What will 'two smokes' mean?" asked Judith.
"Means 'we are lost,' come find us," said Dick, busy with two heaps of firewood.
"But you can't signal here under these trees, Dick! We've got to find an open place where the smoke can rise up above the tree-tops, you know," advised Julie.
Dick realized he had been caught napping by a girl, and he didn't like it very much but he could not show his annoyance, for Julie was right. So he stood up and said: "I'll shout as loud as possible,—maybe they will hear us." So he shouted until he was hoarse.
"In this dense forest, where the trees break every sound, the smoke signal is as good as any other. Let us find a clearing," suggested Julie.
So they sought again, and soon found an open spot where the sky was visible without any obstructing tree-branches overhead.
"Why, this looks like the same clearing that I said would make a fine baseball diamond," declared Julie.
"So it does! And here is a broken twig where we went out," said Joan.
"Then we can't be many miles from home," laughed Julie, her spirits rising again at the slightest encouragement.
They made two smokes, however, and waited to watch the thin spirals rise above the trees, side by side, until they dispersed in the blue ether far overhead. But no sound came in answer to the signals.
"Maybe no one remembered the smoke idea," ventured Judith.
"And they'd have to be in the open, or climb a tree, to see it," asserted Joan.
"Maybe they made signals, too, and are waiting for us to answer them. Did you bring a rifle, Dick?" said Julie.
"No, none of us did. But I can climb one of these trees and see if the others made any smokes."
"Choose that towering pine,—you ought to be able to see everything from that high top," advised Julie.
So Dick climbed the tall pine, but after he had reached the top he saw nothing that might lead him to find the other campers. He shouted and whistled as shrilly as he could from the lofty perch, but no answering sound came to his ears, so he slid down again.
"See anything at all, Dick?" asked Julie, the moment he came down.
"A great sea of waving green tops, one wave back of the other, without a break," said he.
"Well, what now? Shall we keep on hunting for the way back from this clearing, or just sit and let them find us?" asked Joan, despondently.
"You know they say a flock of ducks will always fly towards water. Now, I saw some ducks flying in one direction when I sat up in that tree," remarked Dick.
"Then you did see something other than waves of green! Why didn't you say so!" snapped Julie, impatient with his poor scouting sense.
"I thought they might be flying down towards Little Moose Lake, where Dandelion Camp is, and we want to find our party," said Dick, in justification.
"Anything to get out of this tangle. We'd just as lief wind up at Dandelion Camp as elsewhere," said Joan.
"All right then, follow me and we will go in the direction the birds flew," said Dick, and he started down hill.
Down and down they tramped, chopping away smaller obstructions, until they were stopped by a wide fen that belted the section. Advance was impossible, for every time one tried to step upon the ooze the foot would begin to sink in.
"Oh, how awful!" wailed Judith, ready to cry.
"How can we cross? If only we could find a fallen tree that happened to fall right across," sighed Joan.
"If only we had a drink of cold water I'd be thankful," declared Julie, mopping her warm face.
"That's the easiest part of the whole trouble," quickly said Dick.
"What do you mean? I wouldn't drink that slimy liquid for anything," said Julie, frowning at the water.
"Now, just wait a second and you'll see what I can do with that water!" bragged Dick, glad to redeem his reputation as a scout.
With hands and a stick he quickly dug a hole to the depth of the marsh. Then he squinted carefully at his well, then at the marsh, and back again. The girls watched him curiously.
"Guess I can go a few inches deeper,—the well has to be about six inches below the surface of the nearby pool, you know."
He dug deeper and soon the well began filling with muddy water. "There, now I've got it!" said Dick.
"Do you expect us to drink that!" scorned Joan.
"No, but wait." Dick hurriedly baled out the well until it was almost emptied. Then he allowed it to fill again.
He baled it out a second time, and permitted it to fill again. The third time the water was almost clear, so he baled once more, and this time the water filtered in as clear as crystal.
He stooped, drank from it, and said: "It's cold and pure!"
Then the girls drank, and found it most refreshing to their parched tongues and throats.
"Well, I never knew that before! We've learned two things by being lost with Dick as guide," said Julie frankly, and Dick was delighted to hear such nice things about himself.
"Shall we try to circle this fen and get across, or go back again?" now asked Dick.
"It's hard to tell just what is best to do," murmured Julie, puckering her brow in thought.
Suddenly two shots echoed down the mountainside, and after an interval of six seconds a third shot rang out.
"There! Alec's seen our smoke. His signal means 'Where are you?' What shall we do?" cried Dick, excitedly.
"How can we answer them?" wondered the girls.
"We'll have to back-trail to our clearing. That's where the shots sounded from," said Dick.
"Dear me, if only we had waited there, they would have found us," complained Judith.
"But we didn't, so the next best thing to do is to get back as soon as we can, or they'll go away again," declared Julie.
They climbed, scrambled and tumbled up the rugged slope, keeping as far as they could to the rough trail they had made in coming down. When they thought they were near the clearing, they shouted with all their lung-power, and the welcome sound of answering calls soon greeted their ears.
"Oh, Dick, give that cat-call again so they will know we're on our way," asked Julie, anxiously.
So Dick gave his ear-splitting whistle by placing his fingers between his lips and blowing through the crevices. In less than ten seconds afterwards, two shots sounded in quick succession.
"That means they've heard us and are waiting," cried Dick. "Come this way,—that echo is misleading."
So the girls followed their young guide, and soon they broke through the fringe of great trees into the clearing where the rest of the party stood. Alec gave them no time to explain. He was angry, and no mistaking it!
"Dick, can you tell me of any concession made to you that allows you to start two fires and then go away and leave them to work their will in these forests? If we had not found the fires you left, what might have resulted to this area of mountain land?"
The girls and Dick stood amazed, for they had forgotten all about the fires started as smoke signals.
"When I broke through the underbrush into this clearing, the fires were blazing away like fury. They had encroached upon all the brush and handy leaves, and were eating a way to the timber-line. In half an hour more those same little fires would be raging over the crest and destroying acres and acres of forest-trees, to say nothing of causing the work all the farmers and forest-rangers would have in trying to control it. Just because a brainless scout forgot his duty!" The scorn in Alec's last words was cutting.
Dick began to apologize, but Alec held up a hand. "No apology will answer for such a thing." Then he turned to Ned and said: "Put Dick down for penance at camp."
"We ought to be punished as well as Dick," said Julie. "We never remembered the fires, either."
"That's up to your Captain,—I am merely doing my duty to my Troop," returned Alec.
"Had anything to eat?" asked Anne, who always felt sorry for any one who was hungry.
"We ate the mushrooms we found," meekly replied Joan.
"Then come back and eat what we left for you. We had fish and greens and biscuit," said Hester.
While they were munching the cold food, Alec questioned them further. "Why didn't you use what scout-sense you had? You know you could have found the way you came through those woods by looking for broken cobwebs across the bushes; by overturned stones with the damp under side showing; or by broken twigs and crushed blades of grass; and last, but hardest, you might have looked to see where leaves on trees and bushes were turned awry from your brushing against them. They do not right themselves immediately, you know."
"We never heard of that before," admitted Julie.
"But Dick has, even though he has forgotten it," said Alec. "He had to learn it from the Manual—what he would do in case of being lost in a forest."
"But even if you knew nothing about that, you all knew it would simplify things for us if you were to blaze a way to guide us the way you went. You could easily have broken twigs and left them hanging, or piled little heaps of stones along the trail you took."
"Oh, for goodness sake! Let up on us now, and wait until you are lost, will you?" cried Julie, placing her palms over her ears.
"Yes, it's so easy to tell the other feller what to do!" was all the retort Dick made.
"Well, children, after all I have my inning!" declared Mr. Gilroy, chuckling.
"What's that?" demanded every one.
"I wanted you to come home and dine with me, but no! you must stop to cook in the woods. Now you'll all be glad enough to hurry home and come to my party. And the dinner won't be slighted, either, from so much overeating up here!"
A LITTLE BUSINESS
At breakfast the day following the "Lost Scouts'" adventure, Mrs. Vernon remarked: "Girls, yesterday's experience taught me an important thing, and that is, we need a set of rules for camp, so that every member of Dandelion Troop will have her proper share of work and duty to perform.
"We have been keeping house in a haphazard way, with no responsibility attached to any one but Julie and me. Now, each day there must be some sort of regulations and punishments, if duties are neglected. The fire yesterday showed me that that system was good."
"Your idea is all right, Verny, but what will the rules cover, and why have punishments?" asked Julie.
"Because every day will probably bring new problems to us, so that set rules will not do, but each day must have added rules. If these rules are not obeyed, the scout who is negligent ought to be made to pay for her lack of obedience."
"Have you formulated any plan to begin with?" asked Joan.
"I thought that Julie, as Scout Leader, could consult with me about that. Although I think we ought to select a new orderly for each day, to see that the other scouts do what is required of them. If we begin with Ruth, Betty next day, and so on through the new membership, one each day, it brings us to the eighth day. Of course Julie, Joan and I will not be orderlies. But the Leader and Corporal are over the Orderly, and the Captain over all of you."
"What do you expect the Orderly to do, Verny?" asked Joan.
"She will read the rules for the day immediately after breakfast. Every scout must take turns in being cook for camp one day. One must be wood-gatherer, one must see that food supplies are on hand, some must do the fishing, and so on through the entire housekeeping list. This trains every one alike, and no partiality will be shown one who is a fine cook or one who is an awful one!"
The girls laughed, and the Captain continued: "Then, we don't expect one to do all the heavy work while another goes free, and by partitioning the work and control each one does her bit. In case of any gross negligence or breaking of rules, the Officer of the Day, the Corporal and the Leader will decide the punishment. Should need arise, the whole Troop may act as a jury to judge the matter."
After the Captain had finished speaking, the scouts sat down and compiled a set of Camp Rules, and Ruth was asked to print them neatly on cardboard, because Ruth was the artistic scout of the group.
This business disposed of, Julie said: "Now what shall we do to-day, girls?"
"But you haven't chosen an Orderly for the Day!" called Judith.
"Oh, that's so! Well, it lies between Ruth and Amy, as they are the more experienced scouts, to act the first day."
"Don't choose me. I've got my work cut out already, if you expect these rules nicely printed," declared Ruth.
"All right, then; it's Amy. No partiality meant, girls," Julie reminded them.
"More like 'malice aforethought,'" giggled Joan.
"Why? Isn't it an honor to be the Orderly?" demanded Julie.
"It may seem like an honor, but when it is thoroughly investigated it turns out to be just plain old hard work!"
"Sure, Julie! Don't you see, all the other scouts go scot free for the day, while the Orderly has to see that everything is done properly and then take the blame if nothing is right," laughed Judith.
"Well, Amy is able to carry the burden, and it is only for a day; then another one has to do it," said the Captain.
When the weighty business of selecting rules and deciding on a recreation for the day was over, Mrs. Vernon said, "Which did you decide to do first, hike or swim?"
"Is Mr. Gilroy coming over to visit us to-day?" asked Ruth.
"He invited himself to supper to-night, but I doubt if we see him before that time. Why?" answered the Captain.
"Because if he was coming, he would hike with us, and we'd rather wait for him, and swim first. But it doesn't matter now."
"We'll go for the hike first, and when we get back a fine, cool swim will feel good," suggested the Orderly for the day.
"Verny, do you know of any places one might choose for an objective on a hike?" asked Joan.
"Yes, Mr. Gilroy gave me a county map that shows every good trail within twenty miles of here. I'll get it and we'll look it over." So saying, the Captain went to her tent for the paper.
They all sat about Mrs. Vernon as she studied the map and read aloud of various trails that sounded interesting. At last she said: "Here's one that seems inviting. It is named 'River Bend,' and the trail winds along one of the streams that is an outlet of our lake. The description says the blazes are old but distinct, and no one can miss the may. Shall we try that trail?"
"Where does it end?" questioned Hester.
"How long is it to anywhere?" asked Anne.
"It's seven miles, and forks when one reaches the hut of an Indian canoe-builder. One fork runs to River Bend village, and the other to a ravine that is said to be most picturesque."
"We'll take that trail and decide which place we prefer to see, the village or the ravine, after we have hiked a while," said the Orderly.
"Why not take a little flour and fat and catch some fish at noon, and sup while on the trail?" asked Julie.
"Why not carry our dinner stuff and have a regular meal while we are about it," said Anne, who could not forego a dinner.
The other scouts laughed, and Mrs. Vernon replied, "All right, it sounds inviting."
So each scout carried a tin cup and platter, while the Orderly saw to it that each one carried part of the dinner material. It fell to the Captain's lot to carry the frying-pan, and to Anne to carry the two-quart pail; the others had the flour, bacon, potatoes, etc.
River Bend trail led down to the end of the lake, where the stream started. It wound in and out, as it followed the uneven edges of Little Moose Lake, running over mossy knolls, through rivulets, past waterfalls, and around impassable obstructions. Thus the detouring added greatly to the distance the map had vouched for.
The scouts had paper and pencils in case they wished to sketch anything interesting, but most of the paper was used in writing notes along the way, to be entered later in their records. They had gone about two miles when Julie stopped short and held up a warning hand.
"Verny, listen! I heard a baby crying pitifully over in those high bushes."
"Mercy me! Do you suppose there can be any gypsies here?" cried Amy, the timid.
"Gypsies—nothing! But how could a baby get in that jungle?" retorted Joan.
Then they distinctly heard the plaintive wail, as of a very young child in fear and distress. Even Mrs. Vernon turned pale at the picture that presented itself to her thought.
"Girls, we've got to investigate this. It doesn't seem plausible that any one would bring a kidnapped child to this wilderness to lose it, but one can never tell!" declared Julie.
"It's a baby, that we know, so it's up to us to save it," added Ruth.
"The poor little dear!" wept Betty, the tender-hearted.
So the scouts began cutting a way through the almost impenetrable growth that divided the trail from the place whence came the cries. But as they went deeper in the jungle and got nearer the spot they were aiming for, the cries ceased.
"Dear, dear! I hope the little thing isn't past aid?" murmured the Captain, anxiously.
That urged the scouts to greater endeavor, and finally Julie broke into a tiny clearing of about three feet across, and saw a little grey rabbit, which had been caught in an old mesh-wire trap set by some one long before and forgotten.
"Oh, you poor little creature!" cried Julie, falling upon her knees to rescue the soft little thing.
"Is it alive, Jule?" asked a chorus of anxious voices.
"Yes, but it is awfully afraid of me. I can't do anything for it."
"Maybe it will bite you—do be careful, Jule!" called Amy, deliciously thrilled at this fearful risk her friend was taking.
"Bite!" scorned Julie. "It's starved, and too weak to even nibble."
"Wait, Julie! Let me throw my hat over it so it won't see what we are doing. Then it won't feel so frightened. Remember the 'Boulder' we all saw, and when it moved we had a panic? Well, our sense of sight was all that caused that fear. It is the same now—what the rabbit doesn't see it won't fear," explained Mrs. Vernon.
While it was hidden under the broad-brimmed scout hat, the rabbit was not aware of the willing rescuers, and soon Julie had the snare open, and Mrs. Vernon held the little creature in her hat.
"Shall we let it go now?" asked some of the girls.
"It may have an injured leg where the trap caught it. I think we will carry it home and feed it well, and then if it is all right, it can run away. It is sure to be caught by some larger animal if it is unable to jump or run," said the Captain.
"This will make a dandy story to write down in our record book, Verny, won't it?" asked Ruth, eagerly.
"Yes, but it will also show how inexperienced we are in wildwood sounds,—to mistake the rabbit's cry for a child's wail."
"But it did sound exactly like a baby, there's no denying that!" exclaimed Julie, frowning as she realized how they all were caught napping.
"This reminds me of a story Alec told us yesterday when we were waiting at the campfire for you lost scouts," said Hester. "He and his Troop went on a three days' hike in the country last year, and at night they found an old abandoned barn where they decided to sleep. The floor was in good condition, with a bit of hay piled up in one corner. But the loft overhead was in such bad condition that in many places the flooring was broken down completely. As there was no ladder or stairway to reach it, the boys concluded there was no use in examining it—no one would be up there!
"So they stretched out on the hay and were soon sound asleep. But some time after that—no one knew how long they had been asleep—Ned nudged Alec and whispered: 'Some one's in the loft!'
"Alec sat up and listened. Sure enough, he could hear a man snoring as distinctly as he could hear Dick breathe.
"So he roused the other scouts, and they very quietly crept over to the side where they could get a grip on the joists to help themselves up. Each scout had armed himself in some way. One had an old pitchfork with but one prong. Another had a rake handle, one found the curved handle of a feed-grinder, and so on.
"When they got to the shaky, decayed floor above, the snoring had stopped, so they knew the tramp was aware of their approach. They had to be awfully careful, too, so as not to fall through any of the broken places in the floor. But they each had their lanterns, and used them before they took a step. Alec went first, and threw the light back and forth to avoid a sudden surprise from the tramp.
"'There's something moving over on that pile of old burlap sacks!' whispered Alec, the instant he saw a creeping movement there.
"Several of the boys then jumped and began beating up the sacks violently. But as suddenly, a pair of wings flapped up in their faces with a whirring sound, and a barn-owl began to screech madly as she rose and flew through a hole in the roof."
Hester laughed as she reached this part of the story, and all the scouts joined in. Julie, who had not heard it before, said:
"Thank goodness, we girls are not the only ones to be taken in, then!"
"Alec said there are lots of wild creatures that make sounds exactly like human beings. And that owl snored just like a man."
By this time they had regained the trail, and Mrs. Vernon tenderly adjusted the trembling rabbit. The hat so covered it that it could curl inside and not see a thing to cause it any fear, and thus it was carried along, to be cared for later on and then regain its freedom.
The scouts found many interesting subjects for discussion along the trail, until they reached a wide shallow stream that came down the steep mountainside and emptied into the river.
"It's not on the map, and it sure cuts off further progress," said the Captain.
"It's shallow—we can wade it," suggested Julie.
"Let us go upstream and find a narrow ford, or some rocks that we can cross on," added Mrs. Vernon.
They went up on the near side of the stream, but the banks became so rocky and impassable that they found it was useless to try to climb them. The scenery was wild and wonderful, so several good pictures were taken of the tumbling waters and rocks, and then they all retraced their steps.
"Now, it's wade or go back," declared Joan.
"Stuff your stockings down in your boots and sling them about your necks by the strings," advised Julie.
This was done, and one after another the scouts waded through the stream, shouting, screaming if one slipped on a stone, laughing when one stepped in a hole and got wet to the waist, but having plenty of fun.
"How did bunny stand the voyage?" called Julie, the moment the Captain stepped up on the bank.
"Bunny is curled up fast asleep, I guess," said she.
"I wish it was noon. Did any one hear the twelve o'clock whistle blow?" laughed Joan.
"Why—are you hungry?" questioned Anne.
"Aren't you?" retorted the Orderly.
"Sure! I always am," laughed Anne, frankly.
"Then why not say it is dinner-time, Verny?" asked Ruth.
"You must be hungry, too!" declared Judith.
"I bet we all are, if Verny will take the count," asserted Hester.
"Well, we may as well stop here beside this stream and eat, as to go on and fare worse," admitted the Captain.
"Some one's got to fish," said Judith.
"Why not all fish and the sooner catch what is needed?" advised Mrs. Vernon. So this suggestion was followed out.
Four goodly sized fish rewarded the combined efforts of the fishermen that time, and then two scouts were detailed to clean them, while two went to build a fire. Others were tolled off to attend to other work, and in half an hour a savory meal was ready.
When all signs of cooking and eating were cleaned away, Mrs. Vernon took the bunny again and said they had best go on.
"Outdoor cooking and eating always makes me feel fine. I can walk a hundred miles now, and feel it no more than if it were a trifle," said Julie, taking a deep breath.
"All the same, we haven't gone five miles yet, according to Verny's map, and there is still that walk home, so don't brag too much, Julie," advised Betty, seriously.
"We haven't voted yet whether we want to go on to the village or to the ravine," now said Ruth.
"I'd like to visit the old Indian canoe-maker, and have a chat with him," said Joan.
"His time is money, so he will charge us for chatting," returned Julie, grinning.
"I think Joan's idea of visiting the Indian a good one, girls; why not go there instead of to either of the other places?"
The Captain's suggestion was agreed upon, and the scouts turned in at the willow-arched walk that led to the Indian's hut. A wide brook ran under the willows, and here they saw several canoes waiting to be used. The pathway that ran alongside the brook was littered with rubbish of all kinds,—the accumulation of years of slovenly housekeeping and lazy carpenter work out of doors.
But it was evident that the Indian was neither slovenly nor lazy when it pertained to making canoes. Every canoe there was a splendid example of workmanship. When the scouts reached the door, the owner came out to see them.
"Morn'," said he, bowing seriously to his visitors.
"Are you Mike, the Indian?" asked Mrs. Vernon, after acknowledging the salutation.
"Me Mike—wan'da canoe?"
"No, we came to visit you. We are friends of Mr. Gilroy's," explained the Captain.
"Huh! Mees'er Gilloy use Mike's canoes."
"So he told us. He says they are the finest anywhere," said Julie, ingratiatingly.
"Bedder buy one," came from the Indian.
"Verny, we might rent another one—we only have two in the lake, you know, and we all prefer canoes to boats," whispered Joan.
"We can't afford any added expense," replied Mrs. Vernon.
But Mike understood the meaning of that whisper, so he wisely said: "Come see fine canoes."
He led the way to his shop on the banks of the little stream and displayed the various methods of his trade. The girls found it all very instructive and interesting. Then he said:
"Mike take canoe to lake fer leddy—no charge."
"What do you mean by that?" wondered Julie.
"Mike give fine canoe—one week try; leddy not like, Mike come take him home. No pay."
"But we don't want any more canoes. We have two now," asserted Mrs. Vernon.
Mike shrugged his shoulders silently.
"How much you rent canoe for?" asked Julie, believing the Indian could comprehend better if she used bad English.
"Mike no rent his canoe—sell him cheap."
"We can't afford to buy one, but we might rent it if you make a low price," bargained Julie.
Mike shook his head decidedly. "No rent—onny buy."
"Come, girls! We must start on, now that we've had our visit," said the Captain, turning to go.
The scouts reluctantly turned also, but Mike saw their faces, and also knew that the lady was boss. So he seemed to reconsider.
"Mike got good fren' by Mees'er Gilloy. Mebbe fren's of him be fren's of Mike. How much you give for rent canoe?"
Every one turned suddenly at that hope held forth.
"What do you ask?" countered Mrs. Vernon.
"Got money now to pay?" asked Mike, cutely.
Julie exclaimed, "Certainly!" But the Captain saw through the shrewd bargainer, and said: "We'll have Mr. Gilroy do this business for us."
Now Mike had no idea of losing these customers, nor of having to deal with a good business man like Mr. Gilroy, so he said guilelessly: "Solly dese gals no paddle home in dis canoe."
Several of the scouts instantly wished to do so, but the Captain said: "Corporal, see that your Troop does not fall for this enticing snare."
The scouts laughed when they comprehended Mike's intentions, and Mrs. Vernon courageously walked away. But Mike followed.
"Canoe rent for four dollah week."
"What! that's sixteen a month! I guess not!" cried Julie.
"Fren's of Mees'er Gilloy get him fer tree dollah week."
"No sir-ee!" retorted Julie. "Mike, I'll pay you two dollah week—or six dollah mont—or feefteen dollah season. What you take?"
All the scouts laughed, but Mike frowned. "Me tak feefteen dollah now to Augus' furst," said he.
Every one hushed to get every word of this bargaining.
"We want him in Augus', too. Him worth feefteen dollah, no more, till September ten," declared Julie, slapping her palms together to emphasize her words.
Mike sighed audibly. "All light. But Mike no carry him an' lose day. Gals mus' tak now an' pay down."
Then every one turned to every one else, and word ran round: "Who's got any money?"
"I've got three dollars—that's all," said Mrs. Vernon.
"Mike, we got tree dollahs only. Come to camp and get rest," said Julie.
"You tak him along?" asked Mike, anxiously.
"Are you 'fraid to trust us?" countered Julie.
"Oh, no! Mike no wan' trouble carry him so far, da's all."
So the three dollars was paid down, balance to be paid when Mike called for it; canoe to be taken along with no added work expected of Mike.
Mike launched the canoe in the stream that passed his shop, and several of the girls squatted in the bottom. But it proved overweighted for such a shallow stream, and two had to get out again. Julie and Joan then paddled it safely to the deeper river, where Amy and Judith, being lightest of the scouts, got in and sat in the bottom.
Mrs. Vernon and the rest of the Troop stood watching eagerly while the two girls paddled silently and swiftly up the river to the place where the tumbling stream joined River Bend. Here they halted to allow their other friends to catch up with them.
Julie and Joan were complimented upon their prowess, and when Ruth and Betty exchanged places with Amy and Judith, the canoe went on its way up the river, while the other scouts continued hiking back towards camp.
"It wouldn't take us long to reach home if we were all in canoes," said Anne.
"It would if you were in one—you are so heavy!" laughed Hester.
A titter sounded from the girls, but Mrs. Vernon held up a hand for silence. "Was that thunder I heard from over the mountain?"
"No, that was only Julie's paddle echoing down the stream," giggled Judith. But a louder rumble told the Captain she was right in her surmise.
"Dear me! I hope we won't be caught in another thunder-storm," said she, holding the bunny closer to her side.
But in answer to her fear, a sudden flash and a nearer peal of thunder warned them all to seek shelter if possible.
"If it rains we're bound to be soaked!" sighed Anne.
"You big silly! Did any of us think water was dry?" asked Hester, scornfully.
"I do wish those girls hadn't left us in the canoe! If it rains they may upset," worried the Captain.
"They didn't leave us in the canoe, Captain. And we are just as likely to meet with mishap as they," laughed Judith, to cheer every one up.
"Well, it's going to break mighty quick! See that inky cloud scudding across there?" exclaimed Amy, pointing at the sky.
"Verny, why not make a quick shelter to crawl under?" suggested Anne.
"Think you can do it?" answered the Captain.
"Hester's got the rubber cover that Mike gave us for the canoe when it is not in use, and we might stretch that between four trees," added Anne.
"That's so. Let's try it!" agreed Hester, eagerly.
Quickly, then, the scouts chopped down the scrub bush where four young trees were found for the corners, and then, while Anne and Hester secured the four corners of the cover, the other girls ditched around the spot so the rain would run off and not soak their camping place.
Anne and Hester completed their work before the others, and then hastily bunched a mass of chopped-down bushes all around the temporary tent to break the driving rain when it came. The spot thus enclosed was not large, but by huddling together they managed to keep dry.
"How nice it is to sit in a dry place and watch everything else gradually soak with the rain," ventured Amy, comfortably.
"No one would have dreamed that a shower would come up to-day, the weather was so perfect when we left camp," said Judith.
"Do any of you girls understand weather-lore?" asked Mrs. Vernon.
No one did, so the Captain continued: "If you study wind and cloud, wildwood creatures and other animals, you will find much to interest you in the weather.
"When rain is coming you will see the sheep turn their tails to windward, but if the day is to be fine the sheep will graze with faces to the wind.
"Cows always gather and huddle together at a sheltered end of the pasture lot when a storm is approaching. Cattle are restless and uneasy before a storm breaks. And cows will fling up their heels, or sheep will gambol as if to make the most of the sunshine just before a prolonged spell of bad weather. Pigs, too, will grunt loudly and cavort about uneasily in their pens, carrying bits of straw from their bedding in their mouths, before a heavy rainstorm.
"With wild creatures you will find partridges sitting in the fields when thunder is in the air. But the moment the storm blows over, the birds are alive with energy again. Rabbits and other night-feeders can be found out hunting on a sunny day, but that means there will be a wet night.
"Most of our birds in field and forest know when a storm is brewing, and they can be seen seeking for extra food to carry home, or, perhaps, devouring it quickly, storing it up against the time everything is soaked with the rain.
"Bees seldom fly far from the hive when rain is threatening; flies are annoying and sting sharply before rain, and many times they cling tenaciously to wall or furniture,—that is to keep flat to a surface, so their bodies will not become damp.
"A large ring can be found to encircle the moon the night preceding a rainstorm. Should the storm be two or three days off, the ring is wider and you will find fainter shadows inside the main circle,—one for each day.
"Mountain moss is found to be soft and limp, and smoke generally beats downward when the East Wind presages rain. Callouses on the feet will ache painfully; spiders will be seen strengthening their webs against moisture-weight; morning-glories will close up tightly; mushrooms are found to be numerous; and there are a dozen other weather-signs that I forget now."
The scouts had listened with interest, for this was new to them, although Hester added: "I've heard the saying, 'Mackerel sky, twelve hours dry.'"
"Yes, and another one goes, 'Rain before seven, fine before eleven,'" said Judith.
"You will find in summer that heavy dews in the night mean fine weather the following day," added Mrs. Vernon. "Also any thunder-storm that comes with the wind soon passes away, but let it come against the wind, and it is apt to last."
"This one came with the wind and is blowing away already. See!" exclaimed Amy, eagerly.
"Yes, girls, now we can do as the Arabs—fold our tent and steal away," said Mrs. Vernon, rising carefully so as not to jar the bunny which had remained very quiet all this time.
"I wonder what the girls in the canoe did while the rain was falling," said Judith.
"Leave it to Julie to find a way. I'll say she landed them all on the bank and then turned the canoe upside down over their heads," laughed Hester.
When the canoeists arrived at camp, sometime after the hikers got there, they exchanged experiences. Hester's surmise turned out to be exactly right, and the girls in the canoe were as dry as those who sat under the rubber cover.
JAKE'S INTERVIEW WITH A SKUNK
"Gilly, do you know of any vegetable dye we can find in the woods to dye some burlap for decorations?" asked Julie one day.
"Yes, you can take the berries and leaves of red or staghorn sumac and boil them together to make a black dye, or ink. If you need ink in a hurry, you can take the Genus Coprinus, commonly known as the ink mushroom, and pluck it at the end of its first day. The spores are black, and the gills turn into a black fluid at the last. This produces a splendid writing ink, or will dye grass, quills, and other wildwood stuffs."
"Speaking of quills, Gilly—why can't we have chickens as the Grey Fox boys have?" asked Joan.
"What would you do if they got the gapes, and no one would feed them chopped onions?" laughed Mr. Gilroy.
"I'm not looking for trouble, but for pets to have about camp," retorted Joan.
"I'd hardly call a chicken a pet!" laughed Julie.
"Even so, Julie, it would cluck and appear to be friendly, even it wasn't."
"What you scouts need is a good frisky dog for a pet. You can have chickens, if you like, but they are a nuisance. They stray away to lay their eggs, and if they were kept cooped you'd have to spend valuable time making a suitable inclosure. But a dog will go hiking with you, guard you at night from elephants and other prowling animals of the jungle, and be a fine old pal to boot," said Mr. Gilroy.
"Oh, why didn't we think to bring Jippy," exclaimed Amy. Jip was a little poodle of about fifteen years and had had the rickets for the past five years, so he had to be carried about.
The moment the scouts saw that Amy was in earnest they fairly roared, and Judith finally said: "Oh, Amy's catching the ingenue habit from Betty! What shall we do with two of them on hand?"
"Had we but known of this dire need of a dog, we would have brought Towser—had he lived. He was only twenty-two this March, and had full use of his bark even though he had no teeth or eyesight. But, alas! alas! Towser is no more!" sighed Julie, rolling her eyes.
As Towser had been one of the "old settlers" in Elmertown, he was known to every man, woman and child there. Many a time, because he was stone-deaf and had not heard the blast from the horn, some one would have to rush out to rescue him from a passing automobile. So Julie's lament caused a new burst of merriment.
"Stop all fooling now, scouts, and listen to me," said Mr. Gilroy. "I mean a regular dog—an Irish terrier, or a bulldog, to chum with and be of some good to you. How'd you like it?"
"There ain't no sech critter in camp," retorted Julie.
"But I know where to get one! His name is Jake, and he is very fond of the ladies, I'm told."
"His name sounds dreadfully rakish, Gilly," teased Joan.
"If Jacob is as faithful as his name would imply, we'd like to meet him," added Mrs. Vernon, smiling.
"You shall. He lives at the farm where my overseer is, and the next time Mr. Benson is due here, I'll see that Jake accompanies him. If both sides are mutually attracted, the dog shall stay to give you scouts something to do," declared Mr. Gilroy.
"What kind of a dog is he, Gilly?" asked Betty, eagerly.
"He is a prize Airedale. But he is so clever that he tries to run everything on the farm, consequently Mr. Benson always has to separate Jake from the other dogs in the neighborhood."
For the next two days the scouts were kept busy constructing a fine kennel for Jake to live in when he joined their camp. Everything imaginable was done to add to the comfort and luxury of this "dog's life"; and the third day they started for the bungalow to be introduced to Jake, who was expected to arrive that morning.
It was a warm, drowsy day, and the wildwood creatures seemed to be keeping quiet. Even the bees hummed less noisily over the flowers they were robbing of nectar. The girls strolled slowly along the pathway, stopping now and then to watch a bird or examine a flower. They were just passing the bend where the tumbling brook could be plainly seen from the trail when, suddenly, Julie held up a warning hand for quiet.
Every one stopped short and waited. She pointed silently across the bushes in the direction of a long fallen tree that lay on the bank of the stream. The scouts looked, but saw nothing to cause this interest. Then she whispered warily, "I saw a big creature creeping along that log!"
"What did it look like? Which way did it go?" were questions hoarsely whispered.
"It crawled on that log and suddenly disappeared. Maybe it jumped into the water when it saw us. I am thinking it was a beaver," returned Julie.
"Oh, how wonderful! If we could only see it at work," cried some of the scouts.
"How big was it, Julie?" now asked Mrs. Vernon.
"It went so fast that I couldn't see well, but I should say it was about as big as a very large cat,—maybe larger if we were closer," said Julie.
"Dear me, if we didn't have to go for Jake we might sit and wait for it to appear again. If it is a beaver, I'd love to watch it build a dam," sighed Ruth.
"I hope Jake won't want to chase it, on our way back," Betty worried, as the thought struck her.
"We'll hold Jake on a leash. And if he doesn't make a fuss we might creep over and watch for the animal's appearance again," added Julie.
"Then the sooner we go and get Jake, the sooner we'll be back here," was the sensible remark of Joan.
The scouts now hurried along the trail and soon reached the bungalow, where a splendid Airedale was sleeping in the sunshine. He was stretched out full length right in the way where one would have to pass to go up the steps to the verandah.
"Oh, are you Jake?" called Julie quickly, when she saw the dog.
"Isn't he a beaut?" cried Joan, admiring the shapely form as it jumped up to growl at the visitors.
"Why, Jake, don't begin our relations with a growl! Don't you know we have to keep the peace all summer?" laughed Julie, snapping her fingers to the dog.
Mr. Gilroy heard voices and came out on the verandah. The moment he greeted the scouts familiarly, Jake wagged his stump of a tail and ran up to show his friendship for his master's friends.
The girls fussed over the dog immediately, and Mr. Gilroy smiled. "Well, what do you think of him, scouts? Is he homely enough to win your pity? You know it is said, 'Pity is akin to love.'"
"He's a regular peach, Gilly!" exclaimed Joan.
"Just what we need at camp," added Judith.
And in the next ten minutes the dog had won high favor with his future companions. Then the scouts told about the animal they believed to be a beaver, so they wanted to hurry back and watch.
"But hold to the leash if you go near the log. Jake is a born hunter," advised Mr. Benson.
"Oh, he is very obedient if you speak sternly to him," added Mr. Gilroy. "If he tugs or wants to run, just command in severe tones, 'To heel, Jake,' and he will obey like a lamb."
Jake wagged his tail as he watched Mr. Gilroy, and when the order was given, 'To heel, Jake,' he crept behind his master.
"Oh, the darling! Doesn't he mind splendidly!" cried several of the scouts.
"I'll come along pretty soon. Wait for me near the log where you saw the beaver. I'll finish up with Benson and then join you there," said Mr. Gilroy, as the scouts started down the trail again, leading Jake by the leash.
Every one was delighted with the meek and obedient dog, and the fussing was accepted by him as his due, but he paid no attention to the numerous pats and endearing names given him as they walked along. Then they reached the open space where the log bounded the edge of the running water. It was about a hundred yards from the trail and distinctly visible because the brook was lower than the footpath where the scouts stood.
"There it is! I saw it!" exclaimed Joan, excitedly.
At the same moment Jake also saw something doubtful moving swiftly out of sight back of the log. The girls ran over to the bushes to see the better, and Julie's hold on the leash relaxed unconsciously. In that same second, Jake took mean advantage of her inattention to him and darted away.
"Oh, oh! Come back here, Jake!" yelled Julie instantly.
But the dog stood upon a rock, his ears erect, his nose sniffing as he pointed it in the direction of the log. His tail trembled spasmodically and the hair along his spine stood up stiffly.
"I say, to heel, Jake. Come back, to heel!" shouted every scout in the group. But Jake was deaf to their calls.
Then the Captain called to him, but he bounded from the rock and managed to force his way through the bushes, the leash catching here and there on stumps, on sharp rocks, or on bushes.
"What shall we do? Now he'll kill the little beaver!" wailed Betty, wringing her hands.
"Some one run back and get Gilly! He'll make him mind," ordered Julie.
"Who's Orderly for the Day? I want to wait and watch what he does," said Joan.
"Oh, pshaw! I'm Orderly, and I s'pose I've got to go," declared Judith, impatiently.
"I'll go for you, Judy, 'cause I can't bear to wait here and see Jake kill anything," said Betty, deeply distressed.
"All right, Judy,—let Betty go instead, if she likes," agreed the Corporal. So Betty ran swiftly away while the other scouts resumed their coaxings to draw Jake away from the log.
Julie now started to break away through the bush to get the dog, and several of the girls followed closely at her heels. When they reached the place where they had seen something move, they also saw tracks in the soft soil.
"It really is a wild animal," said Julie, excited at sight of the footprints.
"But what? Do you know?" asked Judith.
"No, but it must be a beaver—or a fox. I don't know which," confessed Julie.
But they couldn't get at Jake. He was racing excitedly up and down on the log, his nose close to the strangely odorous scent, and all the commands and persuasions from the scouts failed to make the least impression on him. His nervous short yelps showed how keen he was to have a face-to-face bout with the animal.
Julie tried to step on the leash, but he dragged her foot so that she suddenly sat down violently on the ground. Then he nosed under the grass that hung over the brook, and finally swam over to the other side. There he stood and watched nervously, but the girls could not get him back again.
"Talk about his minding! Why, he's the cussedest dog I ever saw!" complained Julie, as she got up and shook her clothes free of the briars.
"There's no use standing in this baking sun to look at Jake standing on the other bank!" exclaimed Joan, angrily eying the disobedient dog.
"We'll go back to the shady trail and watch for Gilly," said Julie, starting back to join the Captain. But they kept calling to Jake as they retraced their steps.
When they got back to the slight elevation where Mrs. Vernon and Amy had waited, anxiously watching results, they saw Jake make a leap and swim quickly back across the brook to the log.
"He must have seen or heard something that time," whispered Hester.
"Yes, 'cause he's stretched out on that log nervously wagging his tail with his eyes glued on something," admitted Amy.
Then they caught their breath. The scouts saw a movement in the green leaves at the end of the log and then—Jake was creeping stealthily across that log, as if he also saw what he wanted to pounce upon.
"Oh, oh! Jake's got it! He's jumped upon it!" screamed Julie, frantically.
"Why, it's a great big tomcat! They're fighting!" cried Hester, too excited to stand still, but jumping up and down.
"A cat! Gilly hasn't a cat that color!" declared Joan.
"Girls!" fairly hissed Julie. "I bet it's a wildcat—and it will kill Jake as sure as anything!"
"No, no! Oh, girls, I just saw it, too! It's a skunk! Run, run—for your lives!" cried Mrs. Vernon, turning to run up the trail towards the bungalow.
But several of the scouts would not desert the dog. He had carried the skunk off its feet with his unexpected leap upon it, and the two rolled and fought madly for supremacy. The leash, instead of tripping Jake, got tangled in the skunk's legs, and both animals rolled back and forth.
The enraged beast fired the deadly fluid to blind her antagonist, but it drenched the fallen tree only. Then Jake caught a grip on her throat and shook her head; still she was game and kept on struggling.
Again they rolled over together, the skunk trying to get to the brink of the water, where she would manage to roll them both in. But Jake understood that motive, too, and braced his feet against the stones in their way.
A second volley of the ill-smelling spray from the skunk struck at random, and then Jake gave her neck another sudden shake. This time it was effective, and the head suddenly hung limp. Jake had broken her neck, and was the victor!
He now took great pains to drag the trophy through the brush to present to his friends in the roadway. The leash caught several times and almost snapped his own neck, and the skunk was heavy, but he managed to drag it along.
When Julie saw his intent she screamed and warned the girls to flee! And in running up the trail they met Mr. Gilroy, who had been summoned by half-crazed Betty's crying, "Jake and the beaver are killing each other!"
Mr. Gilroy did not stop to hear what Julie tried to gasp, but he ran down and saw Jake bringing the skunk out into the pathway.
"To heel! to heel, Jake!" shouted Mr. Gilroy, holding his nose when the dog tried to jump upon him in the ecstasy of having achieved such a great deed.
"What shall we do with him? He can't sleep at Dandelion camp to-night," wailed the girls, as they, too, held their noses.
"I'll have to take him back to the barn and have Hiram turn the hose on him for twenty-four hours."
"Isn't there a reward for skunks in the country?" now asked the Captain.
"Not only a reward, but the pelts are valuable since they became so fashionable," remarked Mr. Gilroy, complacently.
"Well, Jake's earned his keep to-day, then," declared Judith.
"But it will cost more than the skunk brings to pay for the nine hundred and ninety-nine bottles of fleur-de-lis toilet water Gilly will have to use to change Jake's scent!" laughed Julie.
LESSONS IN TRACKING
"Well, scouts! That shows us how little we know about wild animal's tracks," remarked Mrs. Vernon, after Jake had been made to go back to the bungalow, and the Troop went on to camp.
"I could have sworn that skunk's footprints were a coon's or a fox's,—or something big!" exclaimed Julie, trying to justify her mistake.
"To me, the tracks in the soil looked like a lynx's, or something," added Joan, hoping to cover the ignominy of having unearthed a skunk without knowing the animal.
"Isn't there some sort of book that will teach us how to recognize tracks, girls?" asked Hester.
"Is there, Verny? Maybe we can get one at the bungalow," added Julie.
"I don't know of any at this moment, but Mr. Gilroy surely will know," replied the Captain.
So they all went to the bungalow the next morning to inquire after Jake's scent, and also to borrow any books on the subject they had discussed.
"Yes, I have several books, and let me tell you they are precious, too. There are but few on this subject, and the one I consider the best was compiled by Ernest Seton-Thompson under great difficulties. He had to gather all information from plaster casts made in the tracks themselves, or from sketches, or from camera pictures taken on the spot.
"As every different animal leaves a different track, there are many illustrations necessary in such a work, and that makes the book most desirable and also very expensive. But it is great fun to study the pictures and then try to recognize the tracks in the woods."
"We haven't found any about camp," said Judith, regretfully.
"There must be all sorts of tracks there, but you don't know how to find them. Now, if you want to study this book and then practice early some morning, I'll come down and help find the tracks," Mr. Gilroy said.
"Oh, great! Will you come to-morrow morning?" asked the girls.
"Hadn't we better study the book first, scouts, and let Gilly know when we are ready to go tracking?" suggested the Captain.
So for a time every one was busy reading the book and trying to discover a track in the woods near camp. But Julie laughed as she said, "It isn't likely that a wild animal will prowl close to our camp at night. We'll have to hunt one some distance away."
Mr. Gilroy overheard the remark as he came down the trail. "Sometimes the animals will come quite close to camp just to find out what it is that is intruding on their forest domain."
"Well, then, I wish they'd hurry and come here!" declared Judith.
"When you are ready to hunt tracks, I'll arrange some baits around your camp grounds; and the next morning I'll vow you'll see that you've had callers while you slept. So quiet are they that you won't hear them, either," said Mr. Gilroy.
"We are ready to hunt now, Gilly. We know everything in the book and are crazy to test it," said Joan, eagerly.
"Then I'll tell you what we might do. I was going over to Grey Fox Camp, but if you girls will deliver a message for me, I will go home and attend to the bait I spoke of. Hiram and I will do the rest."
"All right—what do you want us to say to the boys?" agreed the scouts.
"Now, listen! Tell them that I want them to start out at dawn in the morning and hunt up all the tracks they can trace about their camp. Then to-morrow afternoon they are to come over here with their reports and have a match with you girls. The side showing the best results and most interesting experience shall have a prize. How does it strike you?" Mr. Gilroy glanced at the pleased faces as he concluded.
"Fine! Do they know much about tracks?" returned Julie.
"Oh, yes, but then you must understand that they have been scouting for more than four years. Tell them that this is your first summer in a genuine forest camp, and they need not expect you to accomplish wonders. Then you girls must turn in and do your best!" laughed Mr. Gilroy.
The scouts were most enthusiastic, and gaily agreed to follow Mr. Gilroy's suggestions. When they were ready to hike over the crest, the Captain said, "We may as well invite the boys to supper to-morrow and make a party of it."
"That will be splendid. And I'll contribute my quota to the dinner instead of eating it at home," added Mr. Gilroy.
"We may have quail or partridge for dinner if we track the birds carefully," suggested Joan, giggling.
"Venison steaks are better," hinted Mrs. Vernon.
"What's the matter with bear steaks, while we're about it? They're said to be gamier in flavor," laughed Julie.