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The Camp Fire Girls at Sunrise Hill
by Margaret Vandercook
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"Betty and Polly, you are sneaks!" Mollie O'Neill exclaimed indignantly. "Just because I can't swim as well as you do and Esther can't swim at all, you are going off without us. You are fine Camp Fire girls; please bring our bathing suits here, too."

Both girls nodded and laughed in rather an abashed fashion. But at a safe distance away Betty turned to Polly. "Won't you confess, please, that it is rather a nuisance having Esther Clark in the tent with us? I don't see why Martha McMurtry insisted upon it when we might have had Meg or most anybody else."

Polly looked unusually grave. "You don't care for Esther, do you?" she questioned. "It is curious, because though you haven't been particularly nice to her, she is devoted to you and I believe would do anything in the world for you."

Ten minutes later the four girls in their Camp Fire bathing suits were in the waters of the lake near their camp, Polly and Betty swimming with long even strokes toward its center, Mollie hovering near the shore, while Esther stood shivering in a foot of water trying vainly to warm herself by splashing and throwing handfuls of water on her chest and face.

Half a mile out Betty turned over on her side. "Say the Law of the Camp Fire to yourself, Polly. I have just said it and I am going back toward shore. I suppose if one makes a vow to 'give service' it is little enough to show another girl how to swim. If Esther didn't look so big and wasn't so horribly shy, I am sure I should like her better, but here goes!"

It wasn't easy work teaching Esther to swim, for she was so much larger than Betty and had such an absurd fashion of keeping both feet down and splashing the water into her own and her teacher's face. Polly laughed softly to herself as she swam slowly forward to offer her assistance. She was wondering if a single week in camp had really begun to reform her spoiled Betty and if it had, had any change also been wrought in her? She was to find out in a very few minutes.

One Camp Fire law, that there was no escaping, was that the girls were not to spend but fifteen minutes in bathing. Really it hardly seemed like half that time before the four girls were once again on land getting into their bathing gowns which had been left hanging on a willow tree nearby. They were to dress later on in their tent, so they were hardly on shore more than a few moments, but even in that short space of time a noise a few yards away startled them. The four girls turned indignantly. In the entire week of their stay in camp they had not been disturbed by a single intruder. Sunrise Hill, with its tall pines—the emblem of the Camp Fire—its wooded lake for fishing, bathing and canoeing, and its utter seclusion, had seemed, after several weeks of careful search in the neighborhood about Woodford, the ideal place for the girls' summer camp. So far not even a friend, man or woman, had been allowed to visit them, because the camp was to be in running order before they received any outside criticism.

Now a young fellow of perhaps sixteen stood only a short distance off from the lake with an expression of superior amusement on his face. He was a country boy, for he wore no hat and his hair was burnt to a light straw color at the ends, his skin was almost bronze.

"Please go away," Polly demanded haughtily. She had gathered her bathing gown about her as though it were a Roman matron's robe and was feeling that her presence must be impressive although her hair was extremely wet and drops of water were trickling down her face.

However, the intruder paid not the least attention to her request, except to laugh as though her indignation gave him special pleasure. He was carrying a large tin pail on one arm and a basket on the other and of course his behavior was hardly that of a gentleman.

Anger for the moment kept Polly speechless, but a chorus of protests arose from Betty, Mollie and Esther. "We are camping here and we would rather not have visitors, so would you mind going back the way you have come?" Betty requested in her most Princess-like fashion.

"Not until I have seen the sights," the newcomer answered. He did not really look impertinent, only mischievous, and his eyes were as blue as Polly's.

"You don't suppose that I have walked a mile before breakfast and carried these heavy things except to find out what on the face of the earth you crazy girls are doing here, trying to pretend you are scouts or Indian squaws. Of all the foolishness!"

Perhaps even this short acquaintance with Polly O'Neill has suggested that she had, what is for some reason or other called an Irish temper, though temper does not belong wholly to Irish people. Polly herself did not know when this temper would take possession of her nor where it would lead her. At present the young man continued to walk slowly on toward the white tents, whistling to show his complete indifference, while the four girls could see that their friends were now stirring about in camp evidently getting ready to start breakfast.

Without reflecting Polly stooped. There on the ground before her lay a sharp rock, ground and polished by the waters of the lake, and like a shot from a bow she flung this stone whistling through the air at the intruder.

Whether she thought her stone would strike the young man or what particular effect her childish bad manners would have if it should, Polly herself did not know. However, she was startled and flushed hotly when, with an exclamation of pain, the boy put down his pail, placing one hand quickly to his head.

The four girls had started for their camp, but now Mollie, first flashing a look of surprise and scorn at her usually beloved sister, ran on ahead of the others. "I am so sorry," she said in a gentle, reserved manner peculiar to her, "you were rude not to go away when we asked you, but it is far worse for one of us to have been so childish as to strike you. I am dreadfully ashamed."

The young man smiled, not very cheerfully it must be admitted, but at least not looking so angry as he had the right to. "Did you throw the stone?" he inquired. "I never would have believed a girl could throw straight if I hadn't felt the blow, so perhaps you are learning one or two things by living like boys. Never mind, I can see you are not the guilty one."

"We are not trying to live in the least like boys, only like sensible girls," Mollie started in to reply quietly, but the last part of her sentence trailed off into a faint whisper, for the young man had just taken his hand down from his head and his fingers were covered with blood, a few drops were even trickling down the back of his neck inside his soft flannel shirt.

The other three girls had now come close enough to see the blood also, and except for Betty, Pony would everlastingly have disgraced herself. There are many persons in the world whom the sight of blood fills with a strange shrinking and terror that is almost like faintness, and Polly was one of them. Now she wanted to run away, she even turned to fly, when her friend caught hold of her. "Don't be utterly stupid, Polly, you have done a foolish trick and you've got to face the music, for if you don't, you know Mollie is apt to take the blame upon herself."

Polly's knees were shaking and her thin expressive face so pale that she looked quite unlike herself. However, she managed to save a part of her dignity by saying with an attempt at a smile, as she stopped alongside Mollie and the young fellow, "I am sorry, I cannot tell a lie, I did it with my little hatchet, so please feel all the anger against me. I do hope I haven't hurt you very much."

The young man now stared at Polly and then at Mollie and afterwards back again from one to the other. He started to whistle but stopped himself in time. "Gee, but you are alike—with a difference," he returned, neither accepting nor refusing to accept Polly's half-hearted apology.

Hardly knowing why, except that the back of his neck was apparently covered with perspiration when there was no heat to explain it, the boy again put up his hand to his head. This time it was impossible to ignore the amount of blood that covered his hand nor the horrified faces of his small audience.

"I expect I can't go up to your camp, after all, when I am in such a fix, so you've come kind of close to getting your own way. I guess you, usually do!" he said, frowning up at Polly. "I wonder if it is too much to ask you girls to carry these things up to your tents; the pail has your morning's milk and is pretty heavy; the basket is only filled with strawberries. My father is the farmer who owns the land about here and I thought it would be a lark to find out what you campers were trying to do. Didn't mean anything serious but I guess you'll have to come for your own supplies after this as there ain't no one but me to bring 'em." He spoke rather churlishly, but then he did have cause.

"Hadn't you better wash your cut at the lake or come on up to the tent and let us do something there for you," Betty proposed, not knowing exactly what they should do in the present situation and yet feeling that something ought to be done. "I am afraid walking home in the sun with your head in that condition may make you ill."

The young man shook his head and then winced. "It ain't anything," he replied, beginning to back away, but at the same moment Mollie O'Neill took firm hold on his sleeve. "Come down to the water," she demanded quietly, "you are cut pretty badly, but I think I can stop the bleeding. I suppose the other girls will laugh at me, but ever since I have been in camp I have been carrying some gauze bandage about in my pocket and finding out what to do in case of accidents. I won't hurt you."

The young fellow had intended utterly to decline Mollie's kindly offer, but now her suggestion of not hurting amused him, besides he was sensible enough to know she was right. It was embarrassing, however, to have three other girls looking on during the operation, so whatever anguish Mollie caused him he felt prepared to endure in silence.

In a very business-like fashion the young girl drew her roll of surgeon's lint from an inside pocket of her bathing gown and a small pair of scissors. Then she made her patient sit down on the ground by the water's edge while she carefully examined his cut.

"I ought to help, Mollie," her sister suggested faintly, but Mollie shook her head and the young man appeared grateful. "I don't mind blood and you do, Polly," she returned, "besides if anybody is to help I would rather have Esther. I am afraid, if you don't mind, I have got to cut your hair away, it is already so matted with blood."

To almost any suggestion the patient would have agreed, since he had but one desire now, and that to get away from the strange girls about whom he had been so curious an hour before.

Mollie cheerfully snipped away several locks of his hair covering a space about as large as a dollar. The cut she discovered was deeper than she had expected and, as it was still bleeding profusely, she next called Esther for advice. Very carefully then the two girls washed out the cut with clean water and then Mollie, finding a flat stone, made a pad by wrapping it a number of times with gauze. This she placed over the wound, binding the young man's head, Esther assisting in making the bandage as tight as he could endure.

All this time Polly, with Betty's hand firmly clutching hers, had stood quietly looking on at the scene. She was feeling penitent and ashamed, and yet her Irish sense of humor made her a little bit amused as well. Mollie was so entirely unconscious, but she did seem to be intensely enjoying her first opportunity to prove herself a worthy Camp Fire Girl.

Perhaps the young man vaguely felt Polly's amusement, although he did not look at her and certainly did not give her the satisfaction of knowing whether or not she had been forgiven. But he managed to thank Mollie and Esther more politely for what they had done for him, than his boorish manners earlier in the morning suggested, and even insisted on going on up to the camp with them in order to carry the heavy pail.

Several others of the Camp Fire girls, were by this time engaged in getting break fast and although they could hardly help showing surprise at the unexpected appearance of a wounded hero no questions were then asked.

Miss McMurtry did not seem annoyed at seeing the young man, indeed it turned out that she and several of the girls had walked over to Mr. Webster's farm the day before to ask as a special favor that milk be sent their camp each day. If she felt any displeasure, Betty and Polly were sure it was directed toward them, for the first week of Camp Fire life had not been altogether smooth and there were still adjustments to be made between some of the girls and their guardian.



CHAPTER VIII

OTHER GIRLS

Besides the four girls who have just returned from the lake there were six others in the camp at Sunrise Hill, their guardian, Miss McMurtry and one small imp or angel, according to one's way of looking at things. For Margaret Everett had joined the summer campers and, in order to accomplish it, had brought her small brother, Horace Virgil Everett, along with her. You see, the girls felt they simply must have Meg, so after a great deal of discussion it was decided that Horace Virgil would be an excellent person to practice mother craft upon and would certainly bring into service whatever first aid information might be required.

Meg was so gay, so sweet tempered and so utterly inconsequential. If things were going well in camp, if the sun was shining and everybody was feeling amiable then she was entirely happy, but if things were going wrong, then it was that Meg counted, for she kept her temper through almost any kind of stress. She did not have so many moods as Polly, she was not so quiet and reserved as Mollie, nor did she expect the world to move according to her desires, as Betty Ashton did. Meg's faults were that she was not a good manager and did try to do too many things at once and so did none of them well, but she had not had an easy time since her mother died two years ago. Although her father and older brother adored her, they were selfish in unconscious masculine ways, President Everett in devoting too much time to his school and John to his studies and amusements. Unfortunately neither of them realized that Meg might now and then grow weary of having a small brother, capable of originating new kind of mischief at least once an hour, everlastingly tagging after her. But Meg's cares (if she ever called them by that name) had for the present been entirely lifted from her, for she had ten other people now to help, her take care of "Bumps," whom the girls had rechristened "Hai-yi" or "Little Brother," and if Meg had been asked to vote upon the happiest week of her life since her mother's death she would instantly have voted her first week in camp with her own club of Camp Fire Girls.

Then there was Sylvia Wharton! Did Sylvia really enjoy the change in her life from staying cooped up in a great house, looked after by servants and alone a great part of the time when her father was away? Her brother Frank, who was several years older, seldom paid the least attention to her. If the little girl did enjoy the woods and the companionship of the other girls and all the opportunities that the camp fire life offered her, so far she showed not the slightest sign. Her one pleasure must have been her chance to haunt Polly O'Neill, for although she did not seem particularly happy when she was with Polly, certainly she never left her side unless she were compelled to do her share of the camp work and only then when Polly insisted upon it. Already Miss McMurtry felt that Sylvia might become difficult, but then the child had had no training, and besides Miss McMurtry shared the belief of almost all other persons that Sylvia was simply stupid. Curiously enough Eleanor Meade now appeared to have been invited into the first Woodford Camp Fire circle under a false impression. You see, the girls at the high school where Eleanor was also a student considered her a genius, and it is agreeable for a community to have one genius in its midst. Eleanor did have talent for drawing, and besides she had a number of characteristics which many persons associate with genius. She was entirely careless of her other responsibilities, and, if she happened to wish to paint, considered it entirely unreasonable that anything or anybody should interfere with her desire. She was often in the habit of forgetting engagements and at times there was a faraway expression in her eyes, which may have come from having neglected to wear her glasses, but which her friends believed due to the thrall of some wonderful creative idea which might be presented to the world some day in the form of a great picture. And Eleanor, being but human and seventeen, had done her best to foster this belief. She would not dress in modern fashions like the other girls; her parents had little money, but Eleanor's mother was a clever needlewoman and her eldest daughter always appeared in gowns made after exactly the same pattern and of some soft clinging material, whether cashmere or cheesecloth, they were always short waisted with a folded girdle and deep hem and cut low in the neck. Then Eleanor's hair, which was heavy and straight and a kind of ashen brown, was always worn parted in the middle and fixed in a great loose knot at the back of her neck. Eleanor was not pretty like Betty and Meg and Mollie and, at times, Polly O'Neill, but she would have scorned to have been thought pretty—interesting was the adjective she preferred.

However, since Eleanor's appearance in camp for almost a week she had forgotten to be a genius. For one thing the girls were all wearing the regulation Camp Fire uniform, a loose blouse and dark blue serge skirt, and so she could not dress the part. Then, although the Camp Fire official log book had been given her to illustrate she had not even started to paint the totem of the Sunrise Camp on its brown leather cover, although Sunrise Hill stood, always before her in its changing beauty. The girls had taken its name for their camp with the thought that the hill might symbolize their own efforts to look upward always to the highest and most beautiful things.

But Eleanor should hardly be blamed for not having done much painting so far, there, had been such a lot of other work to do, in helping to put things in order in camp, and besides she had developed the most surprising talent for making an Irish stew, that was the envy and delight of all the other girls. Eleanor said it was because she had a soul above science and used her imagination in her stew, but whatever the reason, since the first day when the cooking of dinner fell to her, this stew had been one of the greatest successes in camp and Eleanor received her first honor bead for her genius in cooking instead of in art.

Besides these seven girls already described, there was an eighth girl in the Sunrise camp, the stranger whom Betty had brought home with her on the day their club had first been discussed—the girl whose face was so familiar to Mrs. Ashton but whose name was unknown. There had been a question as to whether or not this particular girl could come to summer camp, not because the other girls were unwilling to have her, but because she worked in a milliner's shop in Woodford and had to go back and forth to be at work every day. Quite by accident on the eventful afternoon Betty had stooped by this shop in her journey to Meg's to ask about her new spring hat, and being so full of her plan had poured it into Edith Norton's ear, while the little milliner was trying on her hat. Naturally Edith thought it a wonderful plan, so Betty, with one of her sudden impulses, immediately insisted that the young milliner come home with her to become a member of their new Camp Fire club. This seemed at the time a perfectly impossible dream to Edith, who was a poor girl with her own living to make, but then she did not understand Betty's ability to make things happen. Every obstacle had been smoothed away, Edith was now riding Betty's bicycle back and forth from camp to town every day and, already the headaches, which had first wakened Betty's sympathy, because of the pallor of her face and the dark circles under her eyes, had begun to grow better from the daily fresh air and exercise. Of the Camp Fire Girls Edith was the oldest; she was about eighteen and had blonde hair and delicate features, with brown eyes. She might have been pretty, but that she needed to grow stronger in body and character, and already the girls and their guardian had discovered that Edith was too fond of tea and coffee and sweets and modern novels for her own health or happiness. The trouble was that her home was too filled with small brothers and sisters and a father and mother too poor to make them comfortable, so that the eldest daughter had been forced to find her own pleasures.

The last two members of the Sunrise Hill camp were unknown to the other girls until a few days before. They were two sisters, daughters of a favorite doctor, cousin of Miss McMurtry's, who had been pupils in a fashionable boarding school in Philadelphia. They were not alike, either in appearance or character, for the older one of them thought too much about clothes and wealth and position, and so immediately fell to admiring and imitating Betty, while the other was an impossible tomboy, more like a feminine Puck, the very incarnation of mischief, whose one idea of happiness seemed to lie in playing pranks.

Juliet Field, the older girl, had light brown hair and eyes, was rather pretty and had a plump girlish figure, round fat cheeks with a good deal of color and a piquant, turned-up nose, while Beatrice, whom everybody called "Bee," wore her curly dark hair cut short, had a melancholy brown face entirely unlike her character and was as slender and small and quick in her movements as a tiny wren.

The two sisters and Sylvia Wharton slept in the tent with Miss McMurtry, while the third tent sheltered Eleanor, Edith, Meg and, of course, "little brother".

When Miss McMurtry had wakened to discover that four of the Camp Fire girls had gone in swimming without the others, she had not been pleased, more because she felt that Betty and Polly were too much inclined to be leaders among the girls and to disregard her advice. They had not yet openly disobeyed her, so of course she had been unable to say anything to them, but now she made up her mind to hang in each tent the rules for each day's camp routine so that there could be no more uncertainty. Miss McMurtry had merely been waiting to decide what rules were wisest before making her schedule.

As soon as their first masculine visitor departed Eleanor, Meg and Juliet announced breakfast. At a comfortable distance from the kitchen fire a large white cloth had been spread on the grass and in the center stood the great basket of fresh strawberries just brought over by the young man to whom Polly had given such an uncomfortable reception. A big coffee pot and two jugs of milk stood at opposite ends of the cloth besides toast and a dozen boiled eggs in a chafing dish, while from the nearby fire came the most delicious food odor in the world: bacon fried before open coals. Nevertheless the girls did not sit down to breakfast at once although they were dreadfully hungry. Already they had established certain Camp Fire customs, and one was their morning habit of reciting some verse of thanksgiving in unison before beginning the real living of their day. The hymn, which first introduced Betty to Esther was always sung at the close of each day, but this morning verse had always to be original and one girl at a time was allowed to make the selection. To-day it had fallen to Polly's lot and she had taught it to the other girls over their camp fire the night before.

So now the ten girls with their guardian in the center stood in a semicircle facing Sunrise Hill. The sun had fully risen and the earth, as the Indians used to say, had "become white." Led by Polly they slowly recited this ancient chant:

"Shine on our gardens and fields, Shine on our working and weaving; Shine on the whole race of man, Believing and unbelieving; Shine on us now through the night, Shine on us now in Thy might, The flame of our holy love And the song of our worship receiving."

And when they had finished, Polly O'Neill, with a note of reverence in her voice that gave it an unconscious dramatic quality she would have vainly tried to have at any other time, added: "We Camp Fire girls worship not the fire but Him of whom in ages past it was the chosen symbol because it was the purest of all created things."

And then without further ceremony there was a sudden rush for breakfast.



CHAPTER IX

THE GUARDIAN

Miss Martha McMurtry was an odd guardian for a Camp Fire club which owed its existence to Betty Ashton's enthusiasm, for two more different persons cannot well be imagined. Of course the girls in the club were of many kinds and characters and it would have been almost impossible for any guardian to have been congenial with all of them, but it was unfortunate that the head of the Sunrise Camp and the two girls who were its leading spirits had at the beginning of the summer so little in common. For there was no question but that Betty and Polly were leaders, one week in camp had been more than sufficient to prove this.

Betty's influence was of course easy to understand, for she was uncommonly pretty and wealthy, and though spoiled and wayward, given to sudden generous impulses and affections which made her friends willing to overlook her faults. With Polly, O'Neill the case was different, she had no money and was not particularly good looking, it was simply that the intensity of her emotions would always, whether as a woman or child, make her a force for good or evil. When Polly was happy persons about her found it almost impossible not to share in her mood, she had such a delicious sense of humor and was so full of clever jokes and delicate, unconscious flatterings. Then when an ugly mood descended upon her, and, as Polly in Irish fashion used to say, "a witch rode on her shoulders," it was almost equally impossible to ignore her foolishly tragic points of view. There is an old name for Ireland, Innis Fodhla, which means the Island of Destiny, and though Polly had been born in a little New England village, nevertheless, in her blood there was a strain of those inheritances which have made the Irish nation so unlike all others.

While Betty and Polly were friends there was apt to be peace among all the girls in camp, but if they should disagree? Ah well, they had never really had any serious differences of opinion in their lives which Mollie, after the passing of a day or two, had not been able to smooth over. And they both had every intention of making themselves as agreeable as possible to their guardian.

Of course from the beginning of things it had been perfectly apparent that Betty would never voluntarily have chosen Miss McMurtry for their camp guardian, but finding that her science teacher was the only woman in Woodford who knew about the Camp Fire movement and was able to spend the summer with them, she had accepted the situation with as good a grace as possible.

Miss Martha McMurtry was not an attractive woman when she first came into the Sunrise Camp. Names have an odd fashion of describing the persons who own them and Miss McMurtry's exactly described her. Have you not a mental picture of a tall, learned young woman, with straight black hair, which she wore pulled back very tight, forming an unattractive knot at the back of her head? Of course she also wore glasses, having spent all her life inside of books until her pupils were convinced that she knew everything in the world. She did know a great deal and because of her knowledge was a splendid Camp Fire guardian, but there were a few things about human nature which her girls were to teach her in exchange for her science. Her information covered a number of fields, for while she taught botany and chemistry at the Girls' High School, she had also taken a two years' course in domestic science before beginning her teaching. Miss McMurtry was only twenty-six, had no family and lived all alone in a small house in Woodford. However, she appeared much older, and one of the questions her pupils were never able to answer was whether she had ever had a man call on her in her life. About her early history there was very little known, as she did not care to talk about herself and no one asked about her past.

About five o'clock on the next afternoon Miss McMurtry and Esther Clark were seated not far from a small fire which they had lately built near their pine grove. The day was not cold, but New Hampshire is seldom very warm in June and, besides, no one in camp ever tried to resist the opportunity for having a fire when most of their pleasure in being in camp centered around it.

Back and forth from the pine grove to his friends Hai-ya, Little Brother, traveled. He was cheerfully engaged in bringing pine cones to Miss McMurtry, and piling them into a small mound, later to be thrown on the fire. On the ground between the woman and girl were some odd pieces of khaki galatea, bits of leather fringe, shells and beads, and Esther was busily sewing. Miss McMurtry was writing: several times she had torn up what she had written, throwing the waste paper into the fire, but finally she handed a sheet to Esther in a hesitating way.

"See what you think of this, Esther?" she asked. "You see the Camp Guardians are advised to follow certain rules and regulations in camp life and I have been trying to decide what would best suit us. Please tell me what you think?"

Esther looked the paper over thoughtfully, and then began reading it aloud.

6:30 A.M. Arise, wash, either bathing in lake or tent, then air bedding thoroughly. Hoist American flag, salute it. Three girls prepare breakfast.

7:30 A.M. Recite in unison morning verse, eat breakfast, make up own bed and clean tent, also do whatever share of work is apportioned for the day.

10 to 12 A.M. Devote to practice in one of the seven Camp Fire crafts for obtaining honors.

12 to 1 P.M. Three girls prepare dinner.

1 to 2 P.M. Dinner served.

2 to 3 P.M. Rest.

3 to 5:30 P.M. Recreation.

5:30 to 6:30 P.M. Three girls prepare tea.

6:30 to 7 P.M. Tea served.

7:00 to 8:30 P.M. Camp Fire, stories, songs, confidences, etc.

8:30 P.M. Milk and crackers, bed.

9 P.M. Lights out.

Ester read the schedule over the second time and then nodded her head approvingly. "It's splendid and I am sure the girls will think it can't be improved upon," she answered, adding the latter part of her speech as she handed the paper back, for Miss McMurtry was looking troubled and Ester half guessed the cause.

Miss McMurtry said nothing, however, only picking up a piece of Ester's sewing.

"What is this you're making, Ester?" she inquired. "I thought you had made your ceremonial Camp Fire dress some time ago!"

Ester did not reply at once as she bent more closely over her work, but on being asked the question the second time returned with an attempt at speaking carelessly: "Oh, it's Betty's costume, I hope you won't mind, but she says really she never has had time to do any sewing since our club was formed. So, as we are to have our June Council Fire to-night, I promised to finished it for her. You see this is our most important meeting because that afternoon in town we did not have an opportunity to arrange appropriate ceremonies."

Miss McMurtry nodded, "Yes, but I thought it was part of our plan to have each girl make her own dress. Even Sylvia Wharton has done her best to help."

Miss McMurtry picked up a portion of the neglected dress, however, and began to assist Esther. "I wonder if it is a good thing for you and Betty to be together," she remarked thoughtfully. "Of course I know Mrs. Aston's intentions were for the best in taking you to live with them at this late date and they will probably be very kind to you, but really there isn't any reason, Esther, why you should take all the cares away from Betty. She seems to be one of the persons in the world for whom nothing is ever made difficult, while you—" Breaking off abruptly she turned to see if her small charge was still busy and then shaded her eyes from the sun.

Esther laughed happily. Not so shy and awkward here in the woods with the other girls, she had lately thought little of her own lack of advantages. "You needn't worry about me," she now replied, stopping her work for a moment to look off across the fields for the return of the other Camp Fire Girls. "Already I perfectly adore Betty. Of course she does not care a great deal for me, for there is nothing in me to attract her, but all my life I have wanted some one to love, and sort of take care of and do things for. Of course Betty has so many people she does not need me much now, but some day. Oh well, as she herself says, one never can tell just how things may turn out in this world."

"Wohelo, Wohelo, Wohelo!" A far cry from several voices sounded across the fields and a few moments later Betty Ashton, Meg, Eleanor and Juliet Field came into view. Betty was wearing her every day Camp Fire costume with the official hat of blue cloth embroidered with a silver gray "W" on a dark red background and over her shoulder was strapped a smart knapsack. She seemed to dance away from the other girls, although she was not dancing but running. Yet such was her grace and slenderness that somehow she appeared:

Like to a lady turning in the dance, Foot before foot from earth so slightly moved, That scarce perceptible her advance.

Arriving first she threw herself down on the ground near Esther, tossing off her hat and resting her head on the other girl's lap.

"I am nearly dead!" she exclaimed rather irritably. "Two miles walk into town and two miles back is a good deal when one has been doing a thousand things beforehand. Besides, I didn't find a letter from mother or father, and Mollie and Polly have seven from Mrs. O'Neill, one for each day of her trip from New York to Queenstown. Of course it does take longer for a ship to land in Naples, so I am silly to be disappointed, yet I am just the same! Besides, Polly was dreadfully obstinate and would insist on coming back to camp by another route, said it was shorter and much more adventurous than the open road. So we parted, and Mollie and Sylvia and Bee axe returning with her. She may be having more adventures than we did, but the way is not shorter, for we appear to have arrived first."

Opening her knapsack Betty then handed two letters to Miss McMurtry and gave a little rolled package to Esther. "Here is something for you from Dick; he doesn't seem to have written me either."

Esther unwrapped her parcel. "It is just a piece of music your brother told me about, an Indian love song. He thought perhaps I could learn it and we could sing it together in camp. He is very kind."

Betty shrugged her shoulders. "Oh yes, Dick is kind to nearly everybody, except to me sometimes when he thinks I need discipline. But he and mother both think you have a remarkable voice, Esther, and that it will be a pity if you don't have it cultivated some day."

Esther laughed, touching Betty's auburn hair affectionately. It was loosened from her walk and curling round her face. "That is my soul's desire, Betty," she whispered, surprised at her sudden burst of confidence. But Betty's manner with her was unexpectedly more intimate than it had been since their first meeting. She could hardly have known that it was owing to the fact that she had just quarreled with her adored Polly. Of course Betty did not intend to be deceitful, she was simply in the habit of seeking consolation from some source, whenever things went wrong with her.

Now she put her hand the second time into her knapsack and, drawing forth a square white box, she proceeded to open it in a slightly shamefaced fashion and then handed it to Miss McMurtry. "I am a dreadful backslider from Camp Fire rules, but I just had to have some candy this afternoon. Do eat some with me, so I won't be the only sinner in camp," she begged.

Miss McMurtry shook her head. "Don't tempt Esther or any of the other girls, Betty," she replied in a tone that Betty was familiar with at school. "One of the health craft rules you girls have promised to observe is to give up candy between meals for three months. Of course if you wish to break your word you may, but I had rather you would not try to influence any one else."

Betty banged the lid back on her box.

"Oh," she replied unsteadily. "I am sorry you feel about me in that way. I didn't mean to be a mischief maker, but you need not worry about Esther, for she is not the kind that falls from grace."

She sat a few moments longer leaning her chin on her hand and looking toward the grove of pine trees where the shadows were now growing longer and darker as the afternoon lengthened. Sorry to have fallen from grace herself, Betty at this moment would have perished rather than confess it.

The other three girls had gone straight on up to the tents, Meg taking "Little Brother" with her. But now Eleanor appeared at the opening before their kitchen tent and began vigorously ringing a large dinner bell.

"Betty Ashton," she called, "it is half-past five o'clock and time to begin dinner. You know it is your turn to help with Juliet and me. Meg is putting the baby to bed."

Betty encircled her hand above her lips forming a small trumpet. "I am not going to help with dinner to-night, I am too dead tired," she halloed back. "I will help to-morrow instead."

"To-morrow?" Eleanor cried indignantly. "What has to-morrow, got to do with it? You are no more tired than the rest of us and besides it is your turn to-night and we have promised not to try to get out of things unless we are ill." Eleanor said nothing more, but even at a distance of a good many yards it was plain that she had flounced back inside the tent. When she came out again with some pots and pans her air was one of conscious and offended virtue.

A moment later Betty sighed. "I wonder if you would mind taking my place this afternoon, Esther?" she inquired. "I am very tired and you haven't been doing anything. Would you mind, Miss Martha?"

Betty made her request very prettily and really without the least idea that it could be refused, for she was not in the habit of being made to do what she did not wish. With her own family to have said she was tired would have been regarded as a sufficient excuse for any change of plan.

Perhaps Miss McMurtry would have been wiser had she agreed to Betty's request, and had she been another girl she possibly might have been more lenient. Now she decided that Betty was simply trying to shirk her responsibilities and so slowly shook her head.

"Of course if you are not well, Betty, I will be glad to take your place myself," she answered, trying to speak kindly. "However, if I were you, I would hardly say that Esther has been doing nothing since she has been sewing all afternoon on the ceremonial dress you promised to make your self, so that you may wear it to our Council Fire to-night."

Betty got up quickly. "Please don't do any further work for me while we are in camp together, Esther," she demanded, "for it is evident that Miss McMurtry thinks I spend my time trying to impose upon you. As far as the dress is concerned, I shall not need it to-night, for I shall not come to the Council Fire. I will do my part in helping to get dinner, of course, but I prefer to rest afterwards."

Hardly, knowing what she was doing because of her anger, Betty yet managed to get up quietly from her place and start toward camp without glancing at either Esther or Miss McMurtry, although she heard Esther following close behind her. "Please don't disappoint us, dear," Esther pleaded. "I know Miss Martha will be willing to let me do your work to-night, if we ask her again, and it will quite ruin our Council Fire if you are not with us. What will Polly say when you and she have planned the whole ceremony? And I—I shall be so disappointed, for I am to be made a Fire-Maker to-night. Besides, you know we are to talk over the names we hope to be known by in our club."

But Betty only walked steadily on as though deaf to the other girl's entreaty. Near her own tent she turned at last and Esther could see that her eyes were full of tears. "You are mistaken, Esther, though I am sure you are very kind," she insisted with her offended Princess air, about which Polly used so often to tease her. "I am sure no one will miss me in the least and my absence will give you a chance to bestow on me the title you think really belongs to me, such as: 'Betty who won't bear her own burdens' or anything you prefer. Please leave me alone now."

So there was nothing more for Esther to do but to return to her work, knowing how little influence she had with Betty at any time.



CHAPTER X

PIPES OF PEACE

Half an hour later Polly discovered Esther seated alone by her slowly perishing fire taking the last stitches in Betty's rejected ceremonial dress. She had even embroidered on the left sleeve a small crown in gold colored silk, since Betty's old title "The Princess" would scarcely be changed whatever new names might be awarded to the other girls in their Camp Fire.

"Where's Betty?" Polly inquired carelessly. "I hope she wasn't cross; I suppose it was not kind of me to leave her and return another way, and she was right, it did make us late, but we had a delicious adventure!" Polly had dropped down on the ground and put her arms about her, knees, slowly rocking herself back and forth, her face shining with mischief and excitement, so that her color came and went quickly and tiny sparks appeared to dart forth from the blueness of her eyes and the blackness of her hair.

But as Esther neither answered nor asked any questions Polly stared at her in amazement. She had no particular emotion for Esther one way or the other, perhaps because she was not yet a rival in Betty's affections, but she had always tried to make herself agreeable to her and to have her feel like one of them; moreover, she did not enjoy being disregarded.

Halfway up on her feet a glance at Esther's face made her drop back into her old position, except that she put one hand under the girl's chin, turning her face toward her.

"For goodness' sake, Esther, what is the matter?" she demanded. "I suppose it is Betty!"

And Esther nodded, feeling an absurd disposition to shed actual tears of disappointment. So much had been planned for to-night's Council Fire and this was the first disagreement in their camp. Should Betty fail to appear, the other girls, learning the cause, were sure to take sides and no one would be really happy.

Until Esther finished her story Polly listened without comment, although her face flushed and her lips were pressed close together.

"I do think Miss McMurtry was a little hard," she said finally. "It isn't fair to expect us to reform all at once and she might remember that Betty has never had the discipline of having to do things when she didn't wish to before. It is different when one has been poor, isn't it, Esther? Never mind, I will do my best. Betty hasn't any right to make everybody uncomfortable just because she is offended, particularly when she has had so much to do with our plans for to-night."

Polly disappeared, but when tea was served a short time later a signal to Esther reported that she had met with no success. Betty helped with the evening work, saying nothing but looking pale and tired, so that Miss McMurtry wondered if she had been too severe. Perhaps Betty was used up by her walk! She would have liked to have talked to her but had no opportunity, for as soon as supper was over (and three other girls always did the clearing up) Betty immediately disappeared inside her tent, and when her three friends came in to dress for their meeting they found her in bed covered up with her blue blankets and not in the mood for conversation.

Vainly Mollie and Esther attempted persuasion, reproaches, they received always the same answer—fatigue and not ill temper kept Betty from their entertainment. She was sorry of course but they would probably have a better time without her.

Curious, but in the half hour required by the three girls for their dressing, Polly, in spite of her promise, added not a single word of regret or entreaty in spite of Esther's pleading looks and Mollie's outspoken demands that her sister exert her influence. Appearing utterly absorbed in her own costume and in admiring Esther's and Mollie's, Polly only shook her head.

The June afternoon was a long one, so there still remained sufficient daylight for the girls to see to dress in their tent. Over the crest of Sunrise Hill a pale crescent moon with a single star glowing beneath it had now arisen and the moonlight later on promised to be radiant.

There were bursts of laughter, cries of admiration floating from one open tent to the other, for this was the first time the girls had seen one another dressed in their new costumes.

Polly plaited her long black hair in two braids, twining it in and out with narrow strips of bright orange ribbon, and then around her head she bound a broader band of ribbon the same color with a single black feather just above her forehead on the left side. With her dark hair and high cheek bones, which to-night were crimson with excitement, she made an unusually picturesque Indian girl. Mollie's hair was softer in texture and less heavy, so that she wore it hanging loose over her shoulders.

At first, however, Esther's appearance was not much of a success. Although, apparently lost in languor and uninterested in anything, from her couch Betty observed her, wondering what could be done. For Esther to look so awkward and plain to-night, when as the first of their Camp Fire girls to be raised to the rank of Fire Maker she would be the center of all eyes, did seem hardly fair.

Trying to make the best of herself and without the gift most girls have in this direction, Esther had also arranged her hair in two braids, but while her hair was thick it was too short to be effective in this style, and parted in the middle accentuated the plainness of her long face with its irregular features, light blue eyes and large mouth; moreover, the bright yellow of her khaki costume with its red fringes, gay shell and beads made her complexion appear in contrast paler than ever. In despair she was twisting a band of bright red cotton decorated in brass spangles about her forehead, when a cry from Polly, who happened at this moment to catch sight of her, made her drop her head-dress.

"Stop, and don't you ever so long as you live, Esther Clark, dare to put a touch of red near your face," Polly demanded autocratically, rummaging at the same time in a small box on a table which she knew held a number of trinkets belonging to Betty. The next moment drawing forth a band of dull silver embroidery about an inch and a half wide, she crossed over to the older girl.

"Please let me fix you a little differently," she urged coaxingly, beginning at once to unwind Esther's hair and combing it out over her shoulders; then loosening it in front she put the silver band like a crown about it. Esther's hair wag red, of this there could be no denial, but now unbound it showed bright strands of gold and darker shades of red that could never have been discovered when tightly fastened to her head. Perhaps it was partly due to Polly's little act of friendliness making the other girl happier, but certainly there was a marked change for the better in Esther's appearance, so much so that Betty decided she looked almost pretty when a few moments afterwards her three friends bidding farewell to her went out leaving her alone in her tent, where the darkness was now closing in. In parting, Mollie and Esther had added a final plea to Betty to join them, but still Polly had spoken no word.

Lying alone on her couch Betty wondered why? Of course Polly was always being swept off her feet by new people and new interests and so after ten days in camp would not be so fond of her, but it was odd that she cared nothing for her presence at their Council Fire to-night, since they had planned the whole ceremony together and were to play leading parts.

Partly to close out the moonlight, which was now shining faintly inside her tent, and partly to shut her ears to the voices and laughter of her friends, Betty turned over on her balsam pillow with her face to the tent side, and there covering up her head lay perfectly still, so still that she would not even put her handkerchief to her eyes, although for some reason or other they were uncomfortably moist.

Fifteen minutes passed and there was no noise of a returning footfall, but presently there was a faint, sweet odor in the lodge and Betty heard a low call such as a boy would make on a wild reed whistle.

She did not stir, so the sound was repeated more shrilly, and by and by a pair of hands forcibly pulled the blankets down from her face.

There stood Polly in her Indian costume with her intense love for the dramatic shining in her eager face and holding above Betty's head two perforated sticks, one painted blue to represent the sky, the other green to represent the earth, and both of them decorated in tiny feathers of birds and a pair of wing-like pendants.

"Betty," Polly asked quietly, "do you remember the names of these two Indian treasures and how hard we have worked to make them as like the originals as we could?"

"Of course, they are the calumets you are to use in the Council Fire ceremony to-night. They are pretty!" Betty conceded.

But Polly had dropped down by the side of her bed. "They have another name, Betty, which isn't calumets and you know it, and we were to use them at our Council Fire to-night. They are called 'pipes of peace' and I can't very well lead the party that is to bring them to camp and also the children who are to receive them."

A silence in the tent then followed, lasting several moments.

"Aren't you a little ashamed, Princess, thinking of the character of our ceremony this evening, not to be willing to be present? It is to be war and not peace then, isn't it?"

Betty laughed. "I only said I was tired," she argued faintly. "I am sure no one has the least reason for thinking I am angry if I happen to prefer to rest."

Then Polly began to feel that her case was won. Very quietly she slipped over to a wooden dress-good's box covered with bright cretonne and, opening it, drew forth the ceremonial dress so recently finished by Esther, then she lighted two candles on either side the table underneath their small mirror. Betty's head-dress was there, a band of her favorite blue velvet ribbon with three white feathers crossed in front. Catching it up Polly waved it temptingly.

"Come on, Betty, and let me help you dress, everybody is waiting for us and there never was such a night!" But seeing that her friend still hesitated, added in a tone which was a question, not a reproach: "Don't you think, dear, that so long as you really originated our Camp Fire club and asked Miss McMurtry to be our guardian, it is rather a pity for you to make the first break? Isn't one of the Camp Fire ideas to learn to put the happiness of a good many people before our own personal desires?"

In a half minute Betty was out of bed with her Camp Fire dress nearly on. "If you are going to turn preacher and reform at this time of life, Polly O'Neill, then goodness knows what is to become of me! Once you were my partner in crime, but now—well, it is hard to think of you even yet as 'Saint Polly'!"

"And will be to the end, me darling," Polly agreed, dropping into her Irish brogue from sheer pleasure that her purpose was accomplished.

Five minutes later the two friends were hurrying forth toward a circular piece of ground some yards from their tent, which to-night the girls wished known as their "earth lodge." There the other Camp Fire members had already assembled with a great pile of wood in their midst waiting to be kindled.



CHAPTER XI

UNDER THE ROSE MOON

In June the moon of the Camp Fire girls is known as the Rose Moon. But there were no roses blooming near their camping grounds at Sunrise Hill to-night and only the odor of the pines made the night air fragrant.

Betty went straight up to Miss McMurtry, however, and in her hand carried a small cluster of pink roses.

"I brought you these from our garden at home this afternoon; the house is closed, but our old gardener is miserable because no one is about to enjoy his flowers. Please wear them."

Then before the older woman could do more than murmur "Thank you," Betty had slipped away and taken her place in the circle of girls between Meg and Esther, not without noticing, however, that their guardian looked unusually well in a dress of plain white serge with her dark hair bound about her head like a coronet. Also she saw that Miss McMurtry's face had brightened, as she placed the flowers in her belt and felt that peace was restored between them even before the beginning of their ceremony of peace.

The little company had evidently been waiting for the appearance of Betty and Polly, for now Miss McMurtry stepped into the center of their group and there was instant silence. She looked slowly about at the ten faces gazing upon her with rapt attention and then sang in a low tone, and yet one that could be distinctly heard, this ancient Indian chant.

"To-day our Father (Sun) shone into our lodge, his power is very strong, To-night our mother (Moon) shines into our lodge, her power is very strong, I pray the Morning Star (their Son) that when he rises at daybreak, he too will shine in to bless us and give us long life."

This chant signified the opening of the Council Fire. For the next moment Miss McMurtry turned toward the heap of wood carefully placed in the center of the circle, by the wood-gatherers. A little pile of paper with some small chips and dried twigs on top of it lay on the ground, above which leaned a pyramid of larger logs, waiting to be lighted.

Kneeling close by this pile the guardian of the Sunrise Camp Fire took from her pocket a bit of flint and a piece of steel, striking them sharply together. Tiny sparks flew forth but no answering crackle resounded from the wood and paper, although the sparks darted in and out among them like miniature fireflies. Once more Miss McMurtry tried her flint and steel according to the prescribed rules, but again the result was failure.

Of course matches were not a luxury at Sunrise Camp and in the making of their daily fires the campers were not superior to the using of them, but this lighting of their first real Council Fire was to be a truly important ceremony and greatly the members desired to return to the primitive method of fire-making.

There must be something more than superstition in the old axiom that the third time is charm, perhaps three efforts are required for the training of the human will; but however that may be, at the third striking together of the metal and the flint the Sunrise Council fire sprang into life, stick by stick it blazed forth, until at last a tongue of flame leaping up in the air encircled the whole pyramid, setting the pine logs into a splendid flare.

On ten different faces it shone, revealing as many characters when, seated in Indian fashion on straw mats upon the ground, the Camp Fire girls now repeated in unison their "Ode to Fire."

"Oh, Fire! Long years ago when our fathers fought with great animals you were their protection. From the cruel cold of winter, you saved them. When they needed food you changed the flesh of beasts into savory meat for them. During all the ages your mysterious flame has been a symbol to them for Spirit. So (to-night) we light our fire in remembrance of the Great Spirit who gave you to us."

Then Polly slowly arose from her place, approached the flames and cast upon them a great bunch of sweet dried grass; a moment later the rising smoke filled the air with an odor like incense.

But the chief feature of to-night's ceremony was to be the elevation of Esther Clark to the rank of Fire-Maker. For three months had she been working to gain the fourteen necessary requirements and the twenty elective honors, yet now as the moment for receiving her reward drew near she felt a strong disposition to run away. Betty must have guessed her feeling, for at the critical moment she slipped her arm through the older girl's, smiling at her and pressing her hand encouragingly.

"Don't be foolish and don't be frightened, Esther," she whispered encouragingly, "for you are only to receive the honor that is your just due!"

Curious how often in the years that would follow, these same simple words of Betty's were to be repeated in almost the same form to the girl now seated at her side!

Seeing that Esther was too timid to approach the center of the circle alone, Betty accompanied her, standing a little to one side, while Esther, in order to show her complete understanding of the whole Camp Fire idea, repeated once again in her low beautiful voice (almost her only attraction at this time of her life) "The Firemaker's Desire," the same verse she had recited to Betty Ashton over her own fire on the day of their first meeting in the Ashton home. Then Miss McMurtry slipped over Esther's head a string of twenty shining beads representing her new honors, and amid much clapping of hands from their small audience the two girls returned to their places, Esther wondering if she were not almost as happy in Betty's companionship as in her new title. For remember, she had never had any intimate tie in her life, no father or mother, no sisters or brothers, and only the care and kindness of strangers until Miss McMurtry had made of her a friend.

All this time Polly O'Neill has been vainly trying to pretend that she is devoutly interested in what is taking place, although any one knowing her would have understood that Polly's real attention was absorbed in the feature of their Council Fire ceremony in which she was to play the leading role. Now without further delay, and followed by Meg, Eleanor, Beatrice and the faithful Sylvia, she disappeared into the Pine grove not far from the gathering of the Council, while the remaining girls and their guardian drew nearer to their own fire, heaping it with fresh pine branches.

And by and by, from the edge of the trees, the same notes from the reed- like whistle that had called Betty to her place in the ceremony of peace, now about to take place, were repeated. Then along a white path of moonlight, in their Indian costumes, the five girls led by Polly, swaying her pipes of peace slowly above her head, came dancing with a queer, rhythmical movement of their bodies, arms and feet.

A strange spectacle for these modern days, and yet many such an Indian dance had taken place in these same New England hills hundreds of years before!

As they drew near enough to be plainly seen by the little party waiting in their "earth lodge," Betty got up from her place, lifting on high a fluttering white handkerchief tied to a birch pole.

In the old days there were always two parties to this ancient Indian ceremony of peace: those bringing the calumets were called "the fathers" and those receiving them "the children". So it was necessary that Betty should now indicate that "the children" were willing to receive the blessing the other party desired to bring.

The five visiting girls stood facing those seated on the ground; Polly standing before their guardian and still waving her blue and green perforated sticks made her carefully memorized speech with the dramatic intensity dear to her theatrical soul.

"These pipes of peace once symbolized heaven and earth to the Indians and the mysterious power that permeates all nature. In their presence the Indians were taught to care for their children, to think of the future welfare of their people and to live at peace with one another. The Indians were supposed to be a savage race and yet their prayer seems to come very near to the ideals of the Camp Fire girls. May we also live in peace with one another, learning from the women of the past all that was best in their lives and refitting it to the needs of the now women of to-day and to-morrow."

Then at the end of her invocation she moved quietly from one Camp Fire girl to the other, waving her blessing of peace over each bowed head. And as she moved she sang the Indian song of peace, the other girls straightway joining in, but it was not Polly's voice but Esther's that carried the music of the refrain far out over the fields, carried it at last to the ears of some one who had been seeking the home of the Sunrise Camp for the past two hours.

"Down through the ages vast On wings strong and true, From great Wa-kon-da comes Good will to you—Peace that shall here remain."



CHAPTER XII

NAN

At the close of the calumet ceremony the girls immediately drew closer together about the fire, making ready for an informal discussion. Of course they had been uncommonly serious for the past hour, but the night was so mystically beautiful with the new moon casting a silver radiance over the hills and fields, that there in the yellow glow of the Council Fire the girls had felt the inspiration of its beauty and their own seclusion.

Since darkness had fallen there had been no noise save the murmur of their own voices and the cry of "Hinakaga", the owl, like a sentry at his post making his report from the grove of pines.

Once or twice as the time slipped away Miss McMurtry had faintly suggested that the hour had come for retiring, but always the girls, led by Polly O'Neill, had pleaded that to-night was not like other nights, and they must be allowed a slightly longer respite. During the earlier part of the evening, when she had believed no one observing her, Polly had evidently been on the lookout for something or some one, for she had kept glancing slyly out across the country toward the path leading to their camp; now, however, this idea must have passed from her mind, for she was as completely absorbed as her companions in the selection of the new names, which the girls might hope to bear in their Camp Fire club.

Miss McMurtry talked very little—persons who are deep students rarely do; far more apt are those of us who play upon the surface of life to like to do our thinking aloud. So now, the Council was surprised to hear her speak in so earnest a tone that every one else was silenced:

"Girls, I want you to do me a favor to-night. I don't know whether it is usual for the guardian of a Camp Fire club to have a new title awarded her, but nevertheless I want you to give me one. You see I am Miss Martha or Miss McMurtry to most of you at school and really I wish to forget that I am a schoolmarm this summer and to have you forget it. I have been finding out a good many things since I came into camp, though it hasn't been very long, and one of them is that a guardian does not need so much to be a teacher as a friend to her girls. You see no guardian can know everything that you girls are studying to gain your elective honors, but, if we are friends we can work them out together."

Deeply grateful was Betty Ashton for the night and the shadows of the firelight that were playing on her face while Miss McMurtry was making this little speech, which she could hardly help knowing was directed in a large measure to her. However, she could not refrain from giving Esther's arm a knowing pinch and then raising her eyes to intercept a returning glance from Polly.

Possibly Miss McMurtry expected Betty's point of view, even if she did not see her express her surprise, for although some distance away from her place in the circle her next remark was addressed to Betty.

"Betty, can't you think of a name for me?" she asked deliberately, wondering what answer under the circumstances she would be apt to receive. "I know you and Polly have been reading a good deal in order to find new names to suggest to the girls, so haven't you come across a name that might be suitable for me? There are astrologers and fortune tellers who believe that one's good or evil fate depends on bearing an appropriate name and I have always hated mine."

"But it exactly suits you and doesn't make you ridiculous like my name does me!" Sylvia Wharton announced unexpectedly, breaking into the conversation for the first time during the evening in her dull, even tones. "What is really horrid is to have a name that suggests some one very beautiful and graceful—a name that sounds like water running over pebbles in a brook and then to look like I do. I wish everybody would call me Mary Jane! I would like to have a plain, homely name."

Such was the astonishment following Sylvia's protest that no one spoke for at least half a minute. Who could have supposed her capable of developing so much of an idea? For once in their acquaintance Polly (for of course Sylvia managed to be next her) laughed with the little girl instead of at her, at the same time taking the trouble to give one of her stiff flaxen braids an amused tug, while Miss McMurtry, in order to break the silence, went on talking about herself.

"Of course my name suits me, Sylvia, that is the worst of it," she laughed. "How can any one named Martha escape being a Martha? Oh, I presume the name taken by itself is a good old-fashioned one, but in combination with McMurtry it has such an old-maidy, school-teachery sound that I have been compelled to live up to it. Now, Betty, please make a suggestion."

Betty flushed and at the same time smiled to herself. The Indian name "Pokamp" or catbird had come to her mind shortly after her quarrel with Miss McMurtry during the afternoon. "Minerva," she now proposed faintly, "she was the Goddess of Wisdom."

"Gracious no, that is worse than Martha to live up to!" Miss McMurtry objected and also declined just as decisively the dignity of "Hypatia" and "Aspasia', when those learned ladies of ancient times were offered for her consideration.

"We might call you 'Our Lady Protector'; it is just another expression for guardian," Mollie O'Neill proposed uncertainly, not because she had any enthusiasm for her idea but because no one else had anything better to introduce, but before Miss McMurtry could answer, Polly's laugh had settled the proposition.

"Or we might call Miss Martha 'Chest Protector' or 'Bella Donna Plaster', which is a very soothing title, meaning 'Beautiful Lady Covering'," she teased. "Suppose, Miss Martha, that we just wait and perhaps follow the old Indian custom of choosing your name through a dream or the first object we see at an appointed time. But I must be allowed to bestow Mollie's new name upon her," she added, gazing sentimentally up into the sky and putting her arm apologetically about her sister, riot knowing how much she might have enjoyed being laughed at in public.

This time, however, it was Mollie who plainly scored, for she only laughed good humouredly saying: "Go ahead, Polly, you have arranged everything else for me in my life except my name and you only didn't do that at baptism because you were but a few weeks old!"

During the shouts of merriment, Polly, acknowledging her autocratic tendencies, could only hide her diminished head on her sister's shoulder; nevertheless, sitting up again a few moments later she pointed one hand in a dramatic fashion toward the heavens. "Only hear the name I have found for you and you will forgive me much, Mollie Mavourneen," she pleaded. "It is a part of our Camp Fire education to study the stars, isn't it? Well, see the Seven Brothers, the Great Bear family forming the Big Dipper in the northern sky. How many of us know that those stars were shot up there to escape the wrath of their terrible brother, Grizzly Bear, according to Indian astronomy. Now see that small star just at one side of the handle of the Dipper, known as 'Sinopa'. Don't you think we ought to call Mollie, 'Sinopa,' when it means 'Little Sister'?"

Overwhelmed by the general approval of Polly's suggestion, Mollie would never have had the courage to oppose it, but fortunately had no such desire and so as usual agreed to her sister's wishes.

"Marjoram" the girls next voted an appropriate new name for Margaret Everett if she needed one, because in the first place the word was like her own name and more important was its pretty German meaning, "happy- minded", one of those rare plants that has no single ugly quality.

Edith Norton agreed to be called "Apoi-a-kimi," because the Indian word meant "light hair" and she was particularly proud of her own fluffy blonde hair even though since becoming a Camp Fire girl she had felt compelled to hide away her puffs.

Very easily might the girls have continued this discussion of their titles until the sun rose beyond their Sunrise Hill, had not Miss McMurtry suddenly looked at her watch by bending close to the light of their fire. Then she rose so quickly and with such a sharp exclamation of surprise that several of the girls got up with her.

"Camp Fire maidens, what are we thinking of? It is after ten o'clock and we must say good-night and extinguish our fire. What a wonderful night it has been, so quiet, so serene that I think no one of us will soon forget it!" Very naturally she looked away from the group of girls close about her for a wider view of the landscape, hoping that this vision of its beauty might remain with her. Already the early splendor of the night was beginning to fade and although the moonlight still made the objects near by fairly distinct, farther off they were black and ghostlike. Perhaps for this reason Miss McMurtry at first made no sign, though believing she saw a small object dart forth from the shelter of the pine trees, run a few steps, crouch down and then getting up again run on a few feet more.

Of course she and the Camp Fire girls felt perfectly safe in their retreat in the woods, although just at the beginning of their encampment, when the nights closed down upon them, some few of the girls had felt awed and nervous, now after ten such experiences the sense of unfamiliarity was quite gone.

Sunrise Hill was on the border of the Webster farm, two miles from the village and well out of the way of trespassers. There were no wild animals about in these New Hampshire hills, for hunters had long since driven them away, and yet Miss McMurtry wondered dimly if the object plainly intending to come up to them could be an animal. She did not have to wonder very long, however, for the object soon rose on two legs and was plainly a human being.

What should be done? Miss McMurtry did not wish to alarm the younger girls, when there was no possible reason for fear, and yet she was annoyed, for if some one were trying to spy upon them at this hour the intruder must be summarily dealt with. Fortunately, Polly O'Neill had risen when her guardian did and happened to be standing next her at this minute. Slipping her arm through Polly's a slight movement drew her aside.

"Polly," she whispered, "there is something or someone coming toward us; let us go forward quietly and find out what or who it is."

Instantly catching the direction of Miss McMurtry's guarded glance, Polly, not hesitating a second, broke away and ran forward alone to meet the advancing figure. Nevertheless, the older woman followed so promptly that she was able to catch the girl's first words even before seeing the person to whom they were addressed.

"Why, Nan Graham, what do you mean by coming out here so late?" Polly demanded. "When I told you that you might look on at our Council Fire to-night I thought of course that you would come to camp before dark so that I could ask permission and explain."

Half leading, half pulling the newcomer, who after all was only another young girl, Polly drew her closer to the circle of their slowly dying fire. First she looked appealingly at their guardian, who had walked forward with them, and then from one of her friends' faces to the other until she found Betty's. There were no returning glances of sympathy from a single one of the Camp Fire girls.

Unfortunately, Nan Graham was not a stranger to any member of the Sunrise Hill club except to Juliet and Beatrice Field, who were themselves strangers in Woodford. Had Nan been, her reception would have been more cordial, even though appearing at night in so unconventional a fashion. But the newcomer had been a student with most of the girls at the high school the winter before and had been expelled for supposed dishonesty. Her family was impossible, the father, a man of good birth fallen so low that his own people would have nothing to do with him, had married an emigrant woman and Nan was one of many children. The girl had tried working in the village, but no one cared to trouble with her long. And yet she was just a little more than fifteen years old and not an unattractive looking girl, although her face was curiously older than any other girl's in the group about her. To-night she was wearing a shabby black frock, torn and dusty, and her coarse short black hair was unpleasantly disheveled.

"I couldn't leave home until late and then I lost my way," she replied finally, answering Polly's question in a sullen fashion because of the weight of disapproval.

"What right had you to say she could come, Polly O'Neill, when you understand that we like to keep our Council Fires to ourselves?" flashed Betty, and then stopped, knowing that it was plainly not her place to speak first.

"You should have returned home when you found you had mistaken the way," Miss McMurtry frowned. "You ought not to have come through the woods alone at this hour of the night, Nan, as you know perfectly well. But there is no way now for me to send you back to-night, though I am sure I don't know what to do with you. Polly, I think you owe it to us to explain why you invited a guest to camp and then gave us no warning so that we might have been prepared."

Under the influence of the meeting of the Council Fire and perhaps more under the spell of Polly's magnetism than she realized, Miss McMurtry, although it was plain that she was a good deal vexed, did not put her question severely.

So it was naturally irritating, not only to her but to a number of the girls as well, to have Polly, in the midst of the general disapproval, suddenly shrug her shoulders and give a characteristic laugh. "Oh, for goodness' sake, don't let us make a mountain out of a molehill!" she begged. "I was coming back to camp this afternoon and happening to pass Nan's home, she told me something that I thought it great fun for us to know. Some of our boy friends are coming out to camp to-morrow disguised as Indians and mean to take us by surprise. We can be prepared for them and so turn the joke around the other way. Well, after Nan told me this we talked for a little while, while Mollie and Bee and Sylvia walked on ahead. She seemed desperately anxious to hear about our camp and how we were living and what we were doing, so I told her to come along and see us. I really don't see that she can do us any harm. As far as to-night is concerned, why I will make up beds for us just outside our tent, for I have been wishing to sleep outdoors ever since we came into camp."

"And then I can go back home again in the morning," the newcomer said with a scowl. "I wasn't meaning to do any harm just by looking on."

Polly would have liked to have embraced Margaret Everett on the spot, for now separating herself from her friends she came shyly forward taking the strange girl's hand. "I am sorry you have had such a tiresome walk," she said kindly; "come let us all get ready for bed."

Mollie and Sylvia Wharton followed Meg's example in speaking to their unwelcome visitor, but Betty set the example for the others, by merely passing her by with a nod of her head.

However, when Esther and Mollie were both asleep, Betty came out from her tent and stood for a moment looking down at the two figures on their hastily improvised beds only a few feet away from her own tent.

One of them stirring, she bent over her whispering: "Good-night, Polly; of course there is no harm in Nan's being here one night, but please don't ask her to stay longer."



CHAPTER XIII

"NOBODY WANTS TO BE DONE GOOD TO"

A canoe containing three girls had been out on the waters of the lake near the foot of Sunrise Hill for the past two hours. A part of the time it had been swiftly shot through the water only to rest afterwards in certain shadowed places, where fishing lines were quietly dropped over its sides, until now a flat birch basket in its stern was filled with freshly caught fish.

There had been little conversation during this time, but now Polly O'Neill, letting her paddle rest for a moment, said to her fellow oarsman:

"Come, Betty, let us drift for a while. We don't have to get back to camp just yet, for it will be another two hours probably before our supposedly unexpected guests arrive, so we will have plenty of time to help with the preparations, to fry the fish and have Mollie make her inspired corn dodgers. It will be rather good fun when the Indian chiefs appear to strike terror to our hospitality, if not to our souls, for us to be ready and waiting for them, Semper paratus, always prepared, we can assure them is a Camp Fire girl's motto. But just now I wish to talk."

Betty's back was turned to the speaker, but her sister, Mollie, sat facing her midway between the other two seats. Quietly and without replying Betty acquiesced in the request, permitting their canoe to glide slowly toward a small island and getting her kodak ready for action. One of her summer amusements was the making of a collection of animal and bird pictures, and now a large nest overhanging the water attracted her attention.

Therefore it was Mollie who replied to her sister, although the remark had not been made directly to her.

"Yes, Polly, we know you want to talk and we think we know what you want to talk about. I saw it on your face at breakfast even if Betty didn't and knew perfectly well why you persuaded Miss Martha to let us come with you for the fishing and no one else, even when Sylvia Wharton was almost in tears at being left behind."

"You don't know what I want to talk about, do you, Princess? Mollie is absurd, for I am sure I was not thinking of it at breakfast," Polly halloed, wishing that her friend's face was toward her so that she might gain something from her expression. A moment longer she had to wait for her answer because a great heron, startled by the noise, rose out of its nest flapping its great wings and ungainly legs and Betty's kodak instantly clicked with its appearance. Then she shook her head slowly, still not turning around, as she replied:

"Yes, I do know, Polly. That is why I would not agree to come with you until I had first had a little talk with Miss McMurtry. I didn't want to be obstinate if I am wrong, but she feels exactly as I do."

Polly whistled softly, two bright spots of color showing on her high cheek bones, a signal with her of being desperately in earnest. Nevertheless she returned indifferently: "Of course if Betty and our guardian agree, then have righteousness and truth met together and there is no use wasting my breath by putting in my poor little plea."

"There is no use in your being disagreeable, Polly," Mollie advised, who was not in the least afraid of scolding her sister, although rarely quarreling with her. "In this case I think Betty is entirely in the right, for this is not a question of money or family or many of the things you and Betty disagree about, it is a question of the person!"

"Gracious, what person?" Polly protested. "You are both talking riddles. Have I mentioned anybody's name or proposed any mortal thing? If I happen to be interested in this Nan Graham and to believe that things have been made pretty hard for her, is it anybody's business? I don't know just what it is about her that makes me feel as if she were a poor little hunted animal. I really don't think anybody has ever been even decently kind to her in her life; she has always had a bad name, and it must be a pretty hard thing to have to grow up in the shadow of one with no one to give you a boost. Take that affair at school; it was never positively proven that Nan was dishonest. Only she had told a few lies and her family was so horrid. Another girl might have been given another chance!"

"Well, we can't give her a chance at our Camp Fire club this summer, dear, Miss Martha is positive about it, so don't pretend that is not what you have on your mind," Betty interrupted. "I am sorry, but Miss Martha says she is a very different type of girl from the rest of us and might get us into trouble, and she is afraid our parents would not like her being with us."

"I don't know about parents, but I am sure mother wouldn't mind our helping another girl, perhaps just because she is different." And Polly's eyes filled with quick tears at the thought of her first long separation from her mother.

But Mollie shook her head slowly though not unsympathetically. "I am not so sure, Polly," she argued. "You know mother is always urging you to be sensible first and sentimental afterwards, and says that half the trouble in your life will come from working the other way round. Just take the question of the money; Nan Graham would never be able to pay her share, and although we let Mr. Ashton give us our camping outfit, each one of us is to pay her portion of our expenses and to try and find out how economical we can be. It isn't fair to impose a girl on Betty—"

"I have no idea of imposing Nan Graham on Betty," Polly interrupted hastily. "If it ever comes to be just a question of money, why I will promise to pay her expenses and to try to be responsible for her."

"You?" Mollie stared. "Polly O'Neill, you must be out of your senses. You know we have just barely enough for ourselves and are even trying to save a bit out of that, besides working at basket making and anything else we can do, to send mother some extra money."

Polly smiled in a superior fashion. "There are more ways for making money, Sinopa, than are dreamt of in your philosophy. I have my own reasons for not telling you, but I expect to come into a sum of money shortly which will certainly be more than enough to pay this poor Nan's expenses."

"But it is not the money that I care about in the least, Poay," Betty exclaimed, "and you know it! Somehow I am just afraid that in some way Nan will bring unhappiness among us."

"Of course it is not the money you care about, Princess." (Polly's apology was as ardent as her suggestion.) "Sometimes I wonder what would happen to you if you should ever be poor and have to learn to think about such an ugly, commonplace thing as money. Never mind, I am going to be an American Sarah Bernhardt and you and Mollie can travel about in my private car with me. But you understand if you agree to let Nan Graham stay in camp with us, I can't let her be an expense to you or the other girls."

By way of answer Betty looked at her watch. "It is getting pretty late, Polly, don't you think we had better get back to camp?" she proposed.

In perfect accord the two girls now swept their canoe back to their landing place, for they could row perfectly together, swim, paddle a canoe, ride, play tennis, in fact do everything except have the same opinions.

The two girls carried the basket of fish, leaving Mollie to tie up the canoe.

"I hope you don't feel very disappointed, Polly, it was because I was afraid you might think it a good idea to have Nan Graham join our Camp Fire club that I asked you not to think of it last night," Betty said, apologetically, sorry as always to disappoint her friend and not unaffected by her point of view.

"Ah, but you put it in my head, Betty Ashton. Really I never dreamed at first of letting Nan do anything more than come and see what our Camp Fire life was like. She was so eager and so interested when I met her yesterday that she seemed kind of pitiful to me. She told me she was dreadfully lonely because nice girls wouldn't have anything more to do with her now and yet she didn't want really to be bad. No one will take her to work, so she couldn't think what she could do with herself all summer. Last night when you went in to bed I kept on thinking about her and about what our Camp Fire may mean some day when we are older and stronger ourselves and understand more about it. Of course no one wants to be done good to, that is horrid and patronizing, but everybody wants to be made happier, rich people: and poor people too. Remember how you once said that Wohelo, Work, Health and Love, solved all life's difficulties.

"Wohelo means love. We love Love, for love is life, and light and joy and sweetness, And love is comradeship and motherhood, and fatherhood, and all dear Kinship. Love is the joy of kinship so deep that self is forgotten."

"Now I wonder if comradeship and kinship really mean just caring about the people we would have had to care about anyway, our own friends or our own family?"

Having unconsciously touched upon one of the biggest questions in the world and having no answer, the two girls were both silent for a moment. Then Polly added in a surrender unusual to her:

"Don't worry, Betty, perhaps you are, right after all. Nobody can live up to all the things we preach. Anyhow it was, good of you to ask Miss Martha to let Nan spend the day with us. She says she will never get over the pleasure of it as long as she lives."

"Don't, Polly, really I do not think I can be expected to bear any more. You, have made me feel already that if Nan Graham ever does anything wrong or brings any sorrow on herself by her behavior, why it will somehow be my fault. Why do you make me responsible when you know Miss McMurtry and most of the other girls are just as opposed to having her with us as I am?" said Betty, realizing that her defense was a sign of weakness and yet feeling that Polly had somehow driven her to the wall.

"Because, Betty, you know that if you try you can bring some of the girls to your way of thinking and I can work on the others. Then together if we promise to be responsible for Nan's good behavior, why we may be able to influence Miss Martha."

Betty sighed. Mollie was catching up with them and they had almost reached camp, which was a scene of the most amazing activity.

"Ask me again to-night, Polly, I will try to think things over a little more."

There was no opportunity for any further discussion, for at this instant Meg and Eleanor swept down upon them.



CHAPTER XIV

SURPRISING THE CAMP

In the middle of the camping grounds on their return the girls now beheld Miss Martha McMurtry waving a large kitchen spoon in somewhat the same fashion that a conductor uses his baton to direct the energies of his orchestra. Rushing from one spot to the other her aides were engaged in putting fresh wood on one smoldering camp fire, stirring up slumbering ashes in another, removing kettles to different points of vantage and generally giving the impression that they were preparing for the feeding of an army. However, they were only getting ready for the entertainment of a few of their Boy Scout friends.

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