Hildegard G. Frey.

The Camp Fire Girls at Camp Keewaydin Or, Paddles Down online

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bothered about them. But that morning Sahwah, lying awake waiting for
the rising bugle to blow, saw a round-bellied, jolly-looking little bug
crawling leisurely along the floor, dragging a tiny seed of grain with
him, and looking for all the world like the father of a family bringing
a loaf of bread home for breakfast. As she watched it traveling along a
crack in the board floor, a very large, fierce-looking bug appeared on
the scene, fell upon the smaller one, killed and half devoured it, and
then made off triumphantly with the seed the other had been carrying.

"No you don't!" shouted Sahwah aloud, waking Agony out of a sound sleep.

"What's the matter?" yawned Agony.

Sahwah laughed a little foolishly. "It was nothing; only a bug," she
explained. "I'm sorry I wakened you, Agony. You see, I was watching a
cute little bug carrying a seed across the floor, and a bigger bug came
along and took it away from him. I won't stand for anything like that
here in Gitchee-Gummee. We all play fair here, and nobody takes any
plums that belong to someone else."

She rose in her wrath, reached for her shoe, and made short work of the
unethical despoiler.

Agony made no comment. The words, _we all play fair here, and nobody
takes any plums that belong to someone else_, pierced her bosom like
barbed arrows. She lay so still that Sahwah thought she had dropped off
to sleep again, and crept quietly back to bed so as not to disturb her a
second time. Like the tiger, however, who, once having tasted blood, is
consumed with the lust of killing, Sahwah, having squashed one bug,
itched to do the same with all the others in the tent, and when
tidying-up time came there began a ruthless campaign of extermination.

Agony, having made her bed and swept out underneath it, departed
abruptly from the scene. Somehow the sight of bugs being killed was
upsetting to her just now. She wandered down toward the river, listening
pensively to the sweet piping notes of Noel Sanderson's whistle, coming
from somewhere along the shore; then she turned and walked toward
Mateka, planning to put in some time working on the design for her
paddle before Craft Hour began and the place became filled to
overflowing with other designers, all wanting the design books and the
rulers and compasses at once.

As she passed under the balcony which was Miss Amesbury's sanctum, a
cordial hail floated down from above. "Good morning, Agony, whither
bound so early, and what means that portentous frown?"

Agony looked up to see Miss Amesbury, wreathed in smiles, peering down
over the rustic railing at her. Agony flushed with pleasure at the
cordiality of the tone, and the use of her nickname. It was only the
girls for which she had a special liking that Miss Amesbury ever
addressed by a nickname, no matter how universally in use that nickname
might be with the rest of the camp. Agony's blood tingled with a sense
of triumph; her eyes sparkled and her face took on that look of being
lighted up from within that characterized her in moments of great

"I was coming down to Mateka to put in some extra work on the design for
my paddle," she replied, in her rich, vibrating voice, "and I was
frowning because I was a little puzzled how I was going to work it out."

"Industrious child!" replied Miss Amesbury. "Come up and visit me and
I'll show you some good designs for paddles."

The next half hour was so filled with delight for Agony that she did not
know whether she was sleeping or waking. Sitting opposite her adored
Miss Amesbury on a rustic bench covered with a bright Indian blanket and
listening to the fascinating conversation of this much traveled, older
woman, the voice of conscience grew fainter and nearly ceased tormenting
Agony altogether, and she gave herself up wholly to the enjoyment of the
moment. In answer to Miss Amesbury's questioning, she told of her home
and school life; her great admiration for Edwin Langham; and about the
Winnebagos and their good times; and Miss Amesbury laughed heartily at
her tales and in turn related her own school-girl pranks and enthusiasm
in a flattering confidential way.

Agony rushed up to the Winnebagos after Craft Hour, radiant with pride
and happiness. "Miss Amesbury invited me up to her balcony," she
announced, trying hard to speak casually, "and she lent me one of her
own books to read, and she helped me work out the design for my paddle.
She's the most wonderful woman I've ever met. She wants me to come again
often, she says, and she invited me to go walking with her in the woods
this afternoon to get some balsam."

"O Agony, how splendid!" cried Migwan, with a hint of wistfulness in her
voice. Migwan did not envy Agony her sudden popularity with the campers
one bit; that was her just due after the splendid deed she had
performed; but where Miss Amesbury was concerned Migwan could not help
feeling a few pangs of jealousy. She admired Miss Amesbury with all the
passion that was in her, looking up to her as one of the nameless,
insignificant stars of heaven might look up to the Evening Star; she
prayed that Miss Amesbury might single her out for intimate friendship
such as was enjoyed by Mary Sylvester and some of the other older girls.
Migwan never breathed this desire to anyone, but if Miss Amesbury had
only known it, a certain pair of soft brown eyes rested eagerly upon her
all through Morning Sing, as she sat at the piano playing hymns and
choruses, even as they were fixed upon her during meals and other
assemblies. And now the thing that Migwan coveted so much had come to
Agony, and Agony basked in the light of Miss Amesbury's twinkling smile
and enjoyed all the privileges of friendship which Migwan would have
given her right hand to possess. But, being Migwan, she bravely brushed
aside her momentary feeling of envy, told herself sternly that if she
was worth it Miss Amesbury would notice her sooner or later, and
cheerfully lent Agony her best pencil to transfer the new paddle design

"Supper on the water tonight!" announced Miss Judy, going the rounds
late in the afternoon. "Everybody go down on the dock when the supper
bugle blows, instead of coming into the dining room."

There was a mad rush for canoe partners, and a hasty gathering together
of guitars and mandolins, which would certainly be in demand for the
evening sing-out which would follow supper. Agony, being in an exalted
mood, had an inspiration, which she confided to Gladys in a whisper, and
Gladys, nodding, moved off in the direction of the Bungalow and paid a
visit to her trunk up in the loft, after which she and Agony disappeared
into the woods.

The river was bathed in living fire from the rays of the setting sun
when the little fleet of boats pushed out from the shore and began
circling around the floating dock where Miss Judy and Tiny Armstrong,
with the help of three or four other councilors, were passing out plates
of salad, sandwiches and cups of milk. Having received their supplies,
the canoes backed away and went moving up or down the river as the
paddlers desired, sometimes two or three canoes close together,
sometimes one alone, but all, whether alone or in groups, filling the
occupants of the launch with desperate envy. A dozen or more girls these
were, still in the Minnow class, still denied the privilege of going out
in a canoe because they had not yet passed the swimming test.

Oh-Pshaw, alas, was still one of them. She looked wistfully at Agony, a
Shark, in charge of a canoe with Hinpoha and Gladys and Jo Severance as
companions, gliding alongside of Sahwah and Undine Cirelle on the one
side and Katherine and Jean Lawrence on the other. She heard their
voices floating across the water as they laughingly called to each other
and sang snatches of songs aimed at Miss Judy and Tiny Armstrong on the
floating dock; heard Tiny Armstrong remark to Miss Judy, "There's the
best group of canoeists we've ever had in camp. Won't they make a
showing on Regatta Day, though!"

Oh-Pshaw longed with all her heart on floating supper nights to belong
to that illustrious company and go gliding up and down the river like a
swan instead of chugging around in the launch, sitting cramped up to
make room for the supper supplies that covered the floor on the trip
out, and baskets of used forks and spoons and cups on the trip back. It
was not a brilliant company that went in the launch. Jacob, Dr.
Grayson's helper about camp, ran the engine. Being desperately shy, he
attended strictly to business, and never so much as glanced at the girls
packed in behind him. Half a dozen of the younger camp girls, who never
did anything but whisper together, carve stones for their favorite
councilors, and giggle continually; three or four of the older girls who
sat silent as clams for the most part, and never betrayed any particular
enthusiasm, no matter what went on; Carmen Chadwick, who clung to
Oh-Pshaw and squeaked with alarm every time the launch changed her
course; and Miss Peckham, who from her seat in the stern kept shouting
nervous admonitions at the unheeding Jacob; these constituted the
company who were doomed to travel together on all excursions.

Oh-Pshaw labored heroically to infuse a spark of life into the company;
she wrote a really clever little song about "the Exclusive Crew of the
Irish Stew," but she could not induce the exclusive crew to sing it, so
her first poetic effort was love's labor lost. So she looked enviously
upon the canoes and resolved more firmly than ever to overcome her fear
of the water and learn to swim, and thus have done with the launch and
its uninspiring company for all time.

Migwan's eyes, as usual, went roving in search of Miss Amesbury, but
tonight, to her sorrow, they did not find her anywhere in the canoes.

"Where is Miss Amesbury?" she asked of Miss Judy, as her canoe came up
alongside of the "lunch counter."

"She didn't come out with us tonight," replied Miss Judy, tipping the
milk can far over to pour out the last drop. "She wanted to do some
writing, she said."

Migwan sighed quietly and gave herself over to being agreeable to her
canoe mates, but the occasion had lost its savor for her.

Supper finished, the canoes began to drift westward toward the setting
sun, following the broad streak of light that lay like a magic highway
upon the water, while guitars and mandolins began to tinkle, and from
all around clear girlish voices, blended together in exquisite harmony,
took up song after song.

"Oh, I could float along like this and sing forever!" breathed Hinpoha,
picking out soft chords on her guitar, and looking dreamily at the
evening star glowing like a jewelled lamp in the western sky.

"So could I," replied Migwan, leaning back in the canoe with her hands
clasped behind her head, and letting the light breeze ruffle the soft
tendrils of hair around her temples. "It is going to be full moon
tonight," she added. "See, there it is, rising above the treetops. How
big and bright it is! Can it be possible that it is only a mass of dead
chalk and not a ball of burnished silver? Gladys will enjoy that moon,
she always loves it so when it is so big and round and bright. By the
way, where _is_ Gladys? I saw her in a canoe not long ago, but I don't
see her anywhere now."

"I don't know where she is," replied Hinpoha, glancing idly around at
the various craft and then letting her eyes rest upon the moon again.

The little fleet had rounded an island and turned back upstream, now
traveling in the silver moon-path, now gliding through velvety black
shadows, and was approaching a long, low ledge of rock that jutted out
into the water just beyond the big bend in the river. A sudden
exclamation of "Ah-h!" drew everybody's attention to the rock, and there
a wondrous spectacle presented itself - a white robed figure dancing in
the moonlight as lighty as a bit of seafoam, her filmy draperies
fluttering in the wind, her long yellow hair twined with lillies.

"Who is it?" several voices cried in wonder, and the paddlers stopped
spellbound with their paddles poised in air.

"Gladys!" exclaimed Migwan. "I thought she was planning a surprise, she
and Agony were whispering together this afternoon. Isn't she wonderful,
though!" Migwan's voice rang with pride in her beloved friend's
accomplishment. "Too bad Miss Amesbury isn't here to see it."

The dancer on the rock dipped and swayed and whirled in a mad measure,
finally disappearing into the shadow of a towering cliff, from whence
she emerged a few moments later, once more in the canoe with Agony, and
changed back from a water nymph into a Camp Keewaydin girl in middy and

"It was Agony's idea," she explained simply, in response to the storm of
applause that greeted her reappearance among the girls. "She thought of
it this afternoon when the word went around that we were going to have
supper on the water."

Then Agony came in for her share of the applause also, until the woods
echoed to the sound of cheering.

"Too bad Miss Amesbury had to miss it." Thus Agony echoed Migwan's
earlier expression of regret as she walked down the Alley arm in arm
with Migwan and Hinpoha after the first bugle. "She's been working up
there on her balcony all evening, and didn't hear a bit of the singing.
We were too far up the river."

"Couldn't we sing a bit for her?" suggested Migwan. "Serenade her, I
mean; just a few of us who are used to singing together?"

"Good idea," replied Agony enthusiastically. "Get all the Winnebagos
together and let's sing her some of our own songs, the ones we've
practicsed so much together at home. You bring your mandolin, Migs, and
tell Hinpoha to bring her guitar. Hurry, we'll have to do it fast to get
back for lights out."

Miss Amesbury, wearily finishing her evening's work, was suddenly
greeted by a burst of song from beneath her balcony; a surpassing deep,
rich alto, beautifully blended with a number of clear, pure sopranos,
accompanied by mandolin and guitar. It was a song she had not heard in
years, one which held a beautiful, tender association for her:

"I would that my love could silently
Flow in a single word - "

A mist came over her eyes as she listened, and the gates of memory swung
back on their golden hinges, revealing another scene, when she had
listened to that song sung by a voice now long since hushed. She put her
hand over her eyes as if in pain, then dropped it slowly into her lap
and sat leaning back in her chair listening with hungry ears to the
familiar strains. When the last note had echoed itself quite away she
leaned over the balcony and called down softly, "Thanks, many thanks,
girls. You do not know what a treat you have given me. Who are you? I
know one of you must be Agony, I recognize her alto, but who are the
rest of you? The Winnebagos? I might have guessed it. You are dear girls
to think of me up here by myself and to put yourselves out to give me
pleasure. Come and visit me in the daytime, every one of you. There goes
the last bugle. Goodnight, girls. Thank you a thousand times!"

The Winnebagos scurried off toward the Alley, in high spirits at the
success of their little plan. Migwan actually trembled with joy. At last
she had been invited up on Miss Amesbury's fascinating little balcony.
True, the invitation had been a general one to all the Winnebagos, but
nevertheless, it was a beginning.

"Miss Amesbury must have been very tired tonight," she confided to
Hinpoha. "Her voice actually shook when she thanked us for singing."

"I noticed it, too," replied Hinpoha, beginning to pull her middy off
over her head as she walked along.

When Agony reached the door of Gitchee-Gummee she remembered that she
had left her camp hat lying in the path below Mateka, where they had
stood to serenade Miss Amesbury, and fearing that the wind, which was
increasing in velocity, might blow it into the river before morning, she
hastened back to rescue it. She moved quietly, for it was after lights
out and she did not wish to disturb the camp. Miss Amesbury's lamp was
extinguished and her balcony was shrouded in darkness by the shadow of
the tall pine which grew against it.

"She must be very tired," thought Agony, remembering Migwan's words,
"and is already in bed."

Agony felt carefully over the shadowy ground for her hat, found it and
started back up the path. But the beauty of the moonlight on the river
tempted her to loiter and dream along the bluff before returning to her
tent. Enchanted by the magic scene beneath her, she stood still and
gazed for many minutes at the gleaming river of water which seemed to
her like pure molten silver.

As she stood gazing, half lost in dreams, she saw a canoe shoot out from
the opposite shore some distance up the river and come toward Keewaydin,
keeping in the shadows along the shore. Just before it reached camp it
drew in and discharged a passenger, which Agony could see was a girl.
Then the canoe put off again, and as it crossed a moonlit place Agony
saw that it was painted bright red, the color of the canoes belonging to
the Boy's Camp located about a half mile down the river. Agony realized
what the presence of that canoe meant. One of the girls of Keewaydin had
been out canoeing on the sly with some boy from Camp Alamont - a thing
forbidden in the Keewaydin code - and was being brought back in this
surreptitious manner. Who could the girl be? Agony grimaced with
disgust. She waited quietly there in the path where the girl, whoever
she was, must pass in order to go up to her tent. In a few moments the
girl came along and nearly stumbled over her in the darkness, crying out
in alarm at the unexpected encounter. Agony's swiftly adjusted
flashlight fell upon the heavy features and unpleasant eyes of Jane

"O Jane," cried Agony, "you haven't been over at that boys' camp, have
you? You surely know it's forbidden - Dr. Grayson said so distinctly when
he read the camp rules."

"Well, what if I have?" Jane demanded in a tone of asperity. "Dr.
Grayson makes a lot of rules that are too silly for words. I have a
friend over at Camp Altamont that I've known for years and if I choose
to go canoeing with him on such a gorgeous night instead of going to bed
at nine o'clock like a baby it's nobody's business. By the way, what are
_you_ doing here?" she demanded suspiciously. "Why aren't you in bed
with the rest of the infants?"

"I came out to get my hat," replied Agony simply.

"Strange thing that your hat should get lost just in the spot where I
happen to come ashore," remarked Jane sarcastically. "How long have you
been spying upon my movements, Miss Virtue?"

"I haven't been spying on you," declared Agony hotly. "I hadn't any idea
you were out. To tell the truth, I never missed you this evening when we
were on the river."

"Well, I suppose you'll pull Mrs. Grayson out of her bed now to tell her
the scandal about Jane Pratt," continued Jane bitingly, "and tomorrow
morning at five o'clock there'll be another departure from camp."

"O Jane!" cried Agony, in distress. "Will she really send you home?"

"She really will," mocked Jane. "She sent a girl home last year who did
the same thing."

"O Jane, how dreadful that would be," said Agony.

"And how sorry you would be to have me go - not," returned Jane

"Jane," said Agony seriously, "if I promise not to tell Mrs. Grayson
this time will you promise never to do this sort of thing again? It
would be awful to be sent home from camp in disgrace. If you think it
over you'll surely see what a much better time you'll have if you don't
break rules - if you work and play honorably. Won't you please try?"

The derisive tone deepened in Jane's voice as she answered, "No I will
_not_. I'll make no such babyish promise - to you of all people - because
I wouldn't keep it if I did make it."

"Then," said Agony firmly, "I'll do just as we do in school with the
honor system. I'll give you three days to tell Mrs. Grayson yourself,
and if you haven't done it by the end of that time I'll tell her myself.
What you are doing is a bad example for the younger girls, and Mrs.
Grayson ought to know about it."

Jane's only reply was a mocking laugh as she brushed past Agony and went
in the direction of her tent.



"Miss Amesbury wants us to go off on a canoe trip with her," announced
Agony, rushing up to the Winnebagos after Craft Hour the next morning.

"Wants who to go on a canoe trip with her?" demanded Sahwah in

"Why, us, the Winnebagos," replied Agony. "Just us, and Jo Severance.
She wants to take a canoe trip up the river, but she doesn't want to go
with the whole camp when they go because there will be too much noise
and excitement. She wants a quieter trip, but she doesn't want to go all
alone, so she has asked Dr. Grayson if she may take us girls. He said
she might. We're to start this afternoon, right after dinner, and be
gone over night; maybe two nights."

"O Agony!" breathed Migwan in ecstacy, falling upon Agony's neck and
hugging her rapturously. "It's all due to you. If you hadn't done that
splendid thing we wouldn't be half as popular as we are. We're sharing
your glory with you." She smiled fondly into Agony's eyes and squeezed
her hand heartily. "Good old Agony," she murmured.

Agony smiled back mechanically and returned the squeeze with only a
slight pressure. "Nonsense," she replied with emphasis. "It isn't on
account of what - I - did at all that she has asked you. It's because you
serenaded her the other evening. That was _your_ doing, Migwan."

"But we wouldn't have ventured to serenade her if she hadn't been so
friendly with you," replied Migwan, "so it amounts to the same thing in
the end. That's the way it has always been with us Winnebagos, hasn't
it? What one does always helps the rest of us. Sahwah's swimming has
made us all famous; and so has Gladys's dancing and Katherine's

"And your writing," put in Hinpoha. "Don't forget that Indian legend of
yours that brought the spotlight down upon us in our freshman year. That
was really the making of us. No matter what one of us does, the others
all share in the glory."

A tiny shiver went down Agony's back. "And I suppose," she added
casually, "if one of us were to disgrace herself the others would share
the disgrace."

"We certainly would," said Sahwah with conviction.

Agony turned away with a dry feeling in her throat and walked soberly
to her tent to prepare for the canoe trip.

"Have you noticed that there is something queer about Agony lately?"
Migwan remarked to Gladys as she laid out her poncho on the tent floor
preparatory to rolling it.

"I haven't noticed it," replied Gladys, getting out needle and thread to
sew up a small rent in her bloomers. "What do you mean?"

"Why, I can't explain it exactly," continued Migwan, pausing in the act
of doubling back her blanket to fit the shape of the poncho, "but she's
different, somehow. She sits and stares out over the river sometimes for
half an hour at a stretch, and sometimes when you speak to her she gives
you an answer that shows she hasn't heard what you said."

"I _have_ noticed it, now that you speak of it," replied Gladys,
straightening up from her mending job to give Migwan a hand with the
poncho rolling. Then she added, "Maybe she's in love. Those are supposed
to be the symptoms, aren't they?"

"Gracious!" exclaimed Migwan in a startled tone. "Do you suppose that
can be what's the matter with her. I hadn't thought of that."

"It must be," said Gladys with a quaint air of wordly wisdom, and then
the two girls proceeded to forget Agony in the labor of rolling the
poncho up neatly and making it fast with a piece of rope tied in a
square knot.

When Agony reached Gitchee-Gummee on her errand of packing, there was
Jo Severance waiting for her with a letter.

"Letter from Mary Sylvester," she called gaily, waving it over her head.
"It just came in the morning's mail and I haven't opened it yet. Thought
I'd bring it down and let you read it with me."

An icy hand seemed to clutch at Agony's heart, and she gazed at the
little white linen paper envelope as though it might contain a bomb.
Here was a danger she had not foreseen. Mary Sylvester, even though she
had left camp, corresponded with her bosom friend, Jo Severance, and
very naturally she might make some reference to the robin incident.
Agony gazed in fascinated silence as Jo opened the envelope with a nail
file in lieu of a paper cutter and spread out the pages. Little black
specks began to float before her eyes and she leaned against the bed to

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Online LibraryHildegard G. FreyThe Camp Fire Girls at Camp Keewaydin Or, Paddles Down → online text (page 7 of 13)