Margaret Love Sanderson.

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CAMP FIRE GIRLS - DRIFTWOOD HEIGHTS ***




Produced by Roger Frank, the Google Books Library Project
(https://books.google.com) and the Online Distributed
Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net (This book was
produced from images made available by the HathiTrust
Digital Library.)






Camp Fire Girls Series

The Camp Fire Girls at Driftwood Heights

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[Illustration: “It’s the worst example of pure and unadulterated nerve
I’ve ever heard of,” cried Jane Pellew inelegantly.]

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The Camp Fire Girls at Driftwood Heights

BY

MARGARET LOVE SANDERSON

Illustrated by

Mildred Webster

The Reilly & Lee Co.

Chicago

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Copyright, 1918
by
The Reilly & Britton Co.

Made in U. S. A.

The Camp Fire Girls at Driftwood Heights

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CONTENTS

I THE TORCH BEARER’S DESIRE
II THE “GREAT FAVOR”
III ALL FOR THE SAKE OF RUTH
IV A HEART TO HEART TALK
V THREE LETTERS
VI A SUDDEN CHANGE OF PROGRAMME
VII AN OFFENDED EAVESDROPPER
VIII BLANCHE LIVES UP TO HER REPUTATION
IX AN ENERGETIC INVALID
X A HURRIED HOMEWARD HIKE
XI THE REVOLT OF RUTH
XII THE PROMISE
XIII THE ARRIVAL OF BLUE WOLF
XIV THE START
XV BLUE WOLF DISTINGUISHES HIMSELF
XVI A DISCOURAGED TORCH BEARER
XVII RUTH DELIVERS HER ULTIMATUM
XVIII A DISGRUNTLED EXPLORER
XIX A PAIR OF INNOCENT MISCHIEF-MAKERS
XX CAUGHT IN THE DARK
XXI A NIGHT OF SUSPENSE
XXII “UNITED WE FLOURISH”

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The Camp Fire Girls at Driftwood Heights




CHAPTER I

THE TORCH BEARER’S DESIRE


“That light which has been given to me,
I desire to pass undimmed to others,”

recited Ruth Garnier in clear, purposeful tones.

For a brief instant following her spoken pledge, an eloquent silence
reigned over the circle of picturesque figures seated about the
brightly-blazing camp fire. Then a storm of acclamation rent the still
night air, echoing and re-echoing among the giant oaks that hemmed in
the company of ardent fire-worshippers. To hear Ruth Garnier repeat the
desire of the Torch Bearer was indeed sufficient reason for applause on
the part of her comrades of school and Camp Fire. No one of them was
more honestly deserving of that honor than sunny, self-reliant Ruth. It
was the highest to which she could attain as a Camp Fire Girl until the
passing of years should render her eligible to the post of Guardian.

Her cheeks flaming at this unexpected tribute to herself, Ruth resumed
her place in the wide circle of girls to the accompaniment of the
ringing vocal cheer, “Wo-he-lo for aye!”

She was feeling strangely humble and a bit overwhelmed at the ovation.
At no time vainglorious, she found it hard to conceive of why her
promotion to Torch Bearer should elicit such a lively clamor of
appreciation. As one in a dream, she listened to Miss Drexal, the
Guardian, as the latter proceeded to dwell flatteringly upon the new
Torch Bearer’s good qualities, expressing her pleasure at Ruth’s
advancement in the Camp Fire Association.

It was not until the chorus of fresh young voices had begun their
beautiful good-night song, “Now Our Camp Fire’s Burning Low,” that Ruth
emerged sufficiently from her trance of wondering happiness to join in
the singing. As she sang, a tender smile flickered about her mobile
lips. She knew that among those present a sextette of loyal friends was
impatiently longing for the Council Fire to end, so that they might
tender their more personal congratulations.

To the group of girls known as the Hillside Camp Fire belonged not only
Ruth, but her six chums, Betty Wyndham, Jane Pellew, Frances Bliss,
Sarah Manning, Anne Follett and Emmeline Cerrito. Brought into intimate
companionship during their first year at Miss Belaire’s Academy, the
seven young women had found much in common. In “THE CAMP FIRE GIRLS AT
HILLSIDE” the story of how they met, and one by one became interested in
the Camp Fire movement, has already been told.

Later, when the longed-for summer vacation brought them together again
for a month’s stay in the Catskills at a house party given by Betty
Wyndham, their Camp Fire zeal received fresh impetus. It was while they
were at Wanderer’s Roost, the Wyndhams’ cottage, that they came into the
real meaning of the word comradeship.

Strangely enough it was the eighth member of the house party, Marian
Selby, an unwelcome cousin of Ruth Garnier’s, who showed them the way.
Out of a series of dark misunderstandings, which bade fair to wreck that
promised month of unalloyed pleasure, rose the Equitable Eight, of whom
Marian eventually became the best-loved member. A complete record of
their eventful sojourn in the Catskills has been set down in “THE CAMP
FIRE GIRLS AT LOOKOUT PASS.”

And now their second year at Miss Belaire’s was rapidly drawing to a
close. So far as the seven Hillside members of the Equitable Eight were
concerned, it had been a year of concentrated endeavor, not only as
students, but as Camp Fire Girls as well. Devoted followers of the great
movement whose watchwords are, “Work, Health and Love,” they had labored
conscientiously to forward it at the academy. The Hillside Camp Fire, to
which they belonged, now boasted of its full quota of members. The
overflow of converts to it had formed themselves into a second group
known as the Drexal Camp Fire, named in honor of Miss Drexal, Guardian
of the Hillside group, who, with Ruth, had worked unceasingly to
organize this second branch.

On the balmy evening in June which marked the elevation of Ruth to Torch
Bearer, the two groups had joined forces in a grand Council Fire, as a
fitting wind-up to the meetings which had been regularly held during the
school year. Though each Camp Fire had its own particular out-door
rendezvous, the two groups had elected to hold their last Council Fire
at the Hillside meeting-place. It was an ideal spot, less than half a
mile from the Academy, and situated in a natural grove of magnificent
oaks.

Due to a long warm fall and an especially mild winter, the Hillside
group had made it a point to hold as few meetings as possible indoors by
candle light. Only in the case of severe storm had they reconciled
themselves to the lesser freedom of the house. To quote Ruth’s frequent
sturdy assertion: “Camp Fire Girls aren’t supposed to mind a little
thing like bad weather.” Her own enthusiasm in the movement always
bubbling over, it was not strange that the others in her group had
become gradually imbued with the same spirit. Neither was it to be
wondered at that those to whom she had been an inspiration to good works
were now unselfishly glad to see her thus publicly come into her own.

“Hurrah for our Ruth!” was the first jubilant exclamation that greeted
her ears, the instant the Council Fire had ended. Frances Bliss had
pounced upon Ruth with the joyous abandon of a playful bear-cub, and was
hugging her vigorously.

Free at last to express their individual gratification, her six intimate
friends now crowded about her, each one more eager than the next to make
herself heard.

“I’m so pleased and so proud of you, Ruth,” was Anne Follett’s
affectionate tribute, as Ruth emerged, rosy and laughing, from Frances’
devastating embrace.

“So are the rest of the Equitable Eight,” caroled Jane Pellew, her sharp
black eyes glowing. “I speak for Marian, too. It’s just what she’d say
if she were here.”

“You truly deserved the honor, Ruth,” chimed in Betty Wyndham. “It was
positively thrilling to hear you repeat the Torch Bearer’s Desire.”
Betty had been keenly alive to the dramatic value of the ceremony.

“It was just like a play, wasn’t it, Betty?” teased Sarah Manning.

“Certainly it was,” agreed Betty, calmly ignoring Sarah’s intent to
tease. “Still I can’t see that your remark is strictly in the nature of
a congratulation,” she added slyly.

“Oh, I hadn’t got that far yet,” was Sarah’s unabashed retort. “But here
goes. Most estimable and magnificent Ruth, deign to accept the humble
and heartfelt congratulations of your lowly admirer, Sarey. Profiting by
your unparalleled example, I shall live in the fond hope that sometime
during the next hundred years I shall be elevated to a like honor.”

“Fine!” applauded Frances. “Plain Jane and I will proceed to live in the
fond hope that we’ll be there to see it. We may be a trifle time-worn
and wobbly by that time, but nevertheless, we’ll be there.”

“You needn’t include me in your calculations,” cut in Jane scornfully.
“I shall grow old gracefully and never wobble.”

“You only think you won’t,” beamed Frances. “But never mind. No matter
what relentless fate Time may bring you, Plain Jane, I shall be on hand
to aid and sustain your tottering steps. I refuse to be deprived of my
chief pillar of argument.”

“Oh, dear, they’ve begun,” moaned Sarah. “Won’t somebody please stop
them?”

“I don’t understand you, Sarah.” Frances fixed a reproving eye on the
protestant. “Always try to say clearly what you mean, then we may
perhaps believe that you mean what you say.”

“I mean what I say _when_ I say that I don’t intend to argue with you,
Frances Bliss. It’s a waste of breath and I—”

“Be calm, children,” laughingly admonished Emmeline Cerrito. Her gaze
fixed intently on Ruth, Emmy had thus far remained silent. The very
expression of her dark eyes was more eloquent than speech. In reality
her light expostulation had cloaked a depth of emotion which she
jealously sought to conceal even from her chums. Their second year
together as roommates had served greatly to strengthen the bond between
herself and Ruth. A well-nigh perfect comradeship now existed between
them. Emmy’s happiness in the fulfillment of Ruth’s desire was second
only to that of the latter herself.

“I _am_ calm,” declared Frances. “’Tis the calm of inspiration. If you
don’t believe it, wait a little. I am on the verge of composing a great
epic poem in which Sarah, Plain Jane and little Frances are all sweetly
mingled. It begins, ‘Words, idle words, I know not what they mean!’
That’s as far as I’ve progressed. The rest of it will come to me later.”

“I hope it will be after you’ve gone to bed to-night. Then you can’t
inflict it upon me,” was Jane’s unappreciative comment.

“What a cruel, unfeeling person you are, Janie.” Frances’ wide smile
indicated small injury. “Never mind. Sarah can’t escape me. I’ll wait
until she is nicely asleep, then I’ll wake her up and recite it to her.”

“You’re quite capable of it,” giggled Sarah, “but ‘forewarned,’ you
know. You’ll wish you’d kept your great epic poem to yourself.”

“More idle words,” murmured Frances. “It’s not wise to take such vague
threats too seriously. I—”

Her further remarks on the subject were suddenly cut short by merry
cries of “Break away! Break away!” from a bevy of girls who had come up
to congratulate Ruth. Signally entertained by Frances’ nonsense, the
sextette still hemmed Ruth in. Now obligingly obeying the impetuous
demand, it broke up to give place to the newcomers. For at least fifteen
minutes an impromptu reception went on by the ruddy light of the fire
which Miss Drexal had purposely allowed to remain unextinguished for the
time being.

“Come girls. It is almost ten o’clock,” she presently reminded the knots
of busy chatterers. “We must put out the sacred flame and depart in a
hurry. Remember the ten-thirty bell. I am afraid as it is that there
will be a dolorous wail of ‘unprepared’ to-morrow morning. Betty and
Jane, will you please help me?”

“With pleasure,” responded both at once, halting only long enough to
solemnly join their little fingers and wish, by reason of having said
precisely the same thing in the same instant.

“Thumbs, Shakespeare, Knickerbocker, salt, pepper, vinegar,” mumbled
Betty glibly.

“Elbows, toes, Webster, Washington, ginger, catsup, paprika,” droned
Jane. Whereupon they hastily unlocked fingers, giggled and rushed to the
aid of the Guardian who had already begun to beat out the fire with a
long stick.

That important task efficiently accomplished, a long procession of
gay-voiced Camp Fire followers was soon wending a swinging course across
the moonlit fields toward the academy. Almost at its head walked Ruth
and Emmy, conversing in low, confidential tones.

“I can’t begin to tell you how sweet it was to hear you repeating the
Torch Bearer’s Desire,” Emmy was saying softly. “It made me feel so glad
and happy for your sake.”

“I knew you’d feel that way about it,” breathed Ruth. “You understood
better than anyone else exactly how much it meant—”

“I thought I’d never catch up with you,” broke in a cross voice, as a
tall, auburn-haired girl unceremoniously shattered the confidential
little session by shoving herself between the two, causing them to relax
their light hold on each other’s arms. In the white moonlight the face
of the intruder showed decided sulkiness. “Ever since the Council Fire
was over I’ve been trying to get in a word edgewise with Ruth. Much good
it did to try with the girls all crowding around her, talking at the top
of their lungs.”

“Well, here I am, Blanche. Sorry I happened to be so popular, for once.”
Ignoring the pettish inflection in the newcomer’s voice, Ruth spoke with
her usual sunny good humor. “Was it something special you had to tell
me?”

“Oh, no. I merely thought I’d like to congratulate you,” Blanche
answered in anything but a congratulatory tone.

“Thank you ever so much.” Privately, Ruth was at a loss to account for
this sudden interest in herself on Blanche Shirly’s part. Long since,
she had reached the rueful conclusion that she and Blanche had little in
common. It was only of late that the latter had begun to treat her with
condescending friendliness.

During her first year at Miss Belaire’s she had earnestly tried to find
under Blanche Shirly’s shallow, snobbish exterior some vein of intrinsic
worth. Toward the close of that memorable year, when the Camp Fire
spirit had begun to manifest itself strongly throughout the freshman
class, Ruth had had high hopes of Blanche’s conversion to a more earnest
scheme of life which offered loftier ideals than fine clothes, beaux,
theatres and dances, and Blanche had even gone so far as to express a
desire to be a Camp Fire Girl. Nevertheless she had not put her desire
into execution. She had merely made vague promises to join the
organization in the fall, before departing homeward on her summer
vacation.

Afterward, when the seven friends had chanced to encounter her at Haines
Falls, a summer resort in the Catskills, she had apparently changed her
mind. On the momentous occasion when Emmeline Cerrito’s perverse stand
was responsible for the call Blanche and her mother had paid Betty
Wyndham at Wanderer’s Roost, both mother and daughter had offered a most
unflattering opinion of the Camp Fire movement. Blanche expressed
herself loftily as having lost all interest in it.

Through the major part of her second year at Miss Belaire’s, she had
pointedly steered clear of the Equitable Eight. Later, for reasons best
known to herself, she had abruptly changed her tactics. Greatly to their
surprise she and Jeanette Hayes had recently joined the Drexal Camp Fire
and religiously attended the meetings.

Slightly mollified by Ruth’s cordial reception of herself, Blanche
marched serenely along between the two whom she had interrupted,
apparently oblivious to the fact that Emmy had said not a word to her.
Emmy was not only incensed by Blanche’s lack of ceremony, she was also
darkly considering the reason for the invasion. She had no illusions
concerning Blanche. Far from feeling jealous at this inexplicable
display of friendliness toward Ruth, she was nevertheless not favorably
impressed by it.

“What’s the matter with you, Emmy?” It had suddenly penetrated Blanche’s
somewhat obtuse brain that Emmy was not specially overjoyed at seeing
her. “Are you deep in one of your black moods? Anyone might think you
weren’t glad on Ruth’s account.”

In the darkness Emmy’s eyes flashed ominously. An angry reply leaped to
her lips. Forcing it back she merely said with acid sweetness: “What
reason have you for thinking that I’m not?”

“None at all,” Blanche hastily assured. “I was only fooling.” Warned by
Emmy’s tone that she had gone too far, Blanche continued nervously, “I
must go back to Jean. She will wonder what has become of me. See you
to-morrow.” Promptly beating a retreat, she left the danger spot and
returned to Jeanette with, “Thank goodness, that’s done. My, but
Emmeline Cerrito hates to have anyone say two words to Ruth Garnier! She
makes me tired. If it weren’t for certain reasons, I wouldn’t bother my
head about Ruth Garnier.”

Left alone, neither Emmy nor Ruth spoke for a moment. It was Emmy who
broke the silence. “Blanche has an axe to grind,” she burst forth. “I’ve
noticed for over a week now that she is trying her best to be sweet to
you, Ruth. Don’t think I’m jealous. I hope I’ve learned that jealousy
doesn’t pay. But I know Blanche. Jeanette is the only girl at Miss
Belaire’s that she really cares about. They are two of a kind. Mark what
I say. Blanche has thought of something that she wants you to do for
her.”

“Oh, I hardly think so.” Affection for Emmy kept Ruth from reminding her
that to discuss Blanche was not strictly in accordance with Camp Fire
ethics. To her alone Emmy spoke her mind freely. To others she was a
model of discreet reserve. “I am sure I am willing to help Blanche in
any way that I can.”

But in making this whole-hearted statement, Ruth had yet to learn that
the favor which Blanche intended presently to ask of her would be far
from easy to grant.




CHAPTER II

THE “GREAT FAVOR”


“Take my word for it, you’ll never be able to get yourself invited to
that wonderful reunion,” was Jeanette Hayes’ dampening assertion.

“Oh, I don’t know.” Blanche Shirly crested her auburn head with an air
of supreme confidence in her own ability to work miracles. “Once I’ve
won Ruth Garnier over to the point where she feels that it’s her duty to
invite me to the reunion, the others will have to give in, too. I’ve
thought of a way to do it. Of course, my scheme may not work. Still, I’m
going to try it.”

“What are you going to do?” queried Jeanette eagerly.

“Wait and see. If it works, I’ll tell you all about it. If it doesn’t, I
won’t.”

“It’s hateful in you not to tell me,” pouted Jeanette. “I hope I can
keep a secret.”

“I hope so,” came the aggravating retort. Blanche prudently refrained
from adding that she did not propose to become a subject for Jeanette’s
ridicule should her plan miss fire. To confide in her beforehand, and
then fail, would mean the supplying of Jeanette with a fund of caustic
darts to be used against herself in future quarrels. Though sworn allies
and roommates, Blanche and Jeanette led the proverbial cat and dog life.
It was on this very account that Blanche now forebore revealing her true
reason for secrecy. Kept in ignorance of it, Jeanette would merely pout.
Informed of it, an exchange of angry words would follow. For the
present, at least, Blanche was not anxious to roil her touchy chum.

With intent to placate, she patted her sulking roommate’s plump
shoulder. “Don’t be cross, Jean,” she cooed. “I _know_ you can keep a
secret. Just think of all the confidential things I’ve told you. It’s
only because I hate to brag and then, perhaps, be disappointed, that I’d
rather not say anything just yet. If my scheme works, you’ll be the
first and only one to hear about it.”

“Whatever you’re going to do, you’ll have to hurry. This is the last
week of school,” reminded Jeanette, her frowning face gradually
clearing.

“Leave that to me,” shrugged the plotter. “Now come on. We’ll both be
late for chapel. Then Miss Belaire will have a spasm. I promised her not
to be late again and I’ve broken my word twice since then. It will be a
joyful day for me when I see the last of Hillside—pokey old place.”

Filled, for once, with the laudable determination to be on time, the two
girls made a hurried exit from the house and set off across the campus
toward the chapel on the run. During the services, however, Blanche’s
mind strayed far afield. She was deep in the consideration of how and
when she could manage to see Ruth Garnier alone. To go boldly to Ruth’s
room after classes were over for the day was out of the question. She
would be almost sure to encounter Emmeline Cerrito there, who was
decidedly not included in her program of action. With Emmy on the scene,
she would stand small chance of gaining her point.

By the time the brief morning service was over, however, Blanche had
arrived at a definite decision. Without appearing to do so, she managed
to draw near to Ruth, keeping a little behind her as the lines of
students filed out of the chapel. Once outside, Fortune favored her. She
saw Ruth pause for an instant at the foot of the stone walk to exchange
a few words with Betty Wyndham and Emmy, then nod farewell and swing
briskly across the campus.

Noting that in one hand Ruth held several letters, Blanche instantly
guessed that she was heading for the mail-box at the extreme north end
of the campus. It was too good an opportunity to be lost. Promptly
seizing it, Blanche followed her at a leisurely walk, glancing
frequently over her shoulder to see if she had been observed. So far as
she could notice, no one was paying the slightest attention to her. The
major portion of the girls had already turned their faces toward the
main building, there to report for the first recitations of the morning.
Luckily for her, Jeanette was among them. Blanche had not confided to
her roommate her intention to trail Ruth, but had managed to slip
stealthily away the instant the morning exercises were over. She was
congratulating herself on the success of her plan.

Halfway back from the mailbox, pursuer and pursued met.

“Good morning, Blanche,” greeted Ruth pleasantly. “On your way to the
mail box? I’ve just been there. Night before last I wrote three letters,
then forgot to post them. Last night the Council Fire made me forget
them again. They’re on their way at last, thank goodness.” Ruth sighed
her relief.

“It’s you I was looking for; not the mailbox,” Blanche made abrupt
beginning. “I—that is—I’ve a great favor to ask of you, Ruth. I can’t
tell you about it now. It would take too long. It’s something very
important. I wonder if you would mind coming to my room this afternoon,
when recitations are over. No one will be there but just you and I.
And—that is—please don’t say to the girls that I’ve asked you.”

A bright flush rose to Ruth’s smooth cheeks as Blanche added this
somewhat lame and wholly unnecessary caution. “Certainly I won’t mention
it to the girls.” There was a hint of offense in the reply. “Have you
any reason to think I would?”

“Oh, no. Please don’t misunderstand me. I didn’t mean—I meant—”


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