Mabell S.C. Smith.

Ethel Morton's Enterprise online

. (page 6 of 13)
Online LibraryMabell S.C. SmithEthel Morton's Enterprise → online text (page 6 of 13)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

salpiglossis, which is an exquisite flower in spite of its name."

"One of the sweetpea packages is marked 'blue,'" said Roger, "I wonder
if it will be a real blue?"

"Some of them are pretty near it. Now this isn't a bad list for a rather
difficult color," Mr. Emerson went on, looking over Ethel Blue's paper,
"but you can easily see that there isn't the variety of the pink list
and that the true blues are scarce."

"We're going to try it, anyway," returned Helen. "Perhaps we shall run
across some others. Now I wrote down for the yellows, yellow crocuses
first of all and yellow tulips."

"There are many yellow spring flowers and late summer brings goldenrod,
so it seems as if the extremes liked the color," said Margaret

"The intermediate season does, too," returned Mr. Emerson.

"Daffodils and jonquils are yellow and early enough to suit the most
impatient," remarked James.

"Who wrote this," asked Mr. Emerson, from whom Ethel Brown inherited her
love of poetry:

"I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high on vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd
A host of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze."

"Wordsworth," cried Ethel Brown.

"Wordsworth," exclaimed Tom Watkins in the same breath.

"That must mean that daffies grow wild in England," remarked Dorothy.

"They do, and we can have something of the same effect here if we plant
them through a lawn. The bulbs must be put in like other bulbs, in the
autumn. Crocuses may be treated in the same way. Then in the spring
they come gleaming through the sod and fill everybody with Wordsworth's

"Here's another competition between Helen's wild garden and the color
bed; which shall take the buttercups and cowslips?"

"Let the wild bed have them," urged Grandfather. "There will be plenty
of others for the yellow bed."

"We want yellow honeysuckle climbing on the high wire," declared Roger.

"Assisted by yellow jessamine?" asked Margaret.

"And canary bird vine," contributed Ethel Blue.

"And golden glow to cover the fence," added Ethel Brown.

"The California poppy is a gorgeous blossom for an edge," said Ethel
Blue, "and there are other kinds of poppies that are yellow."

"Don't forget the yellow columbines," Dorothy reminded them, "and the
yellow snapdragons."

"There's a yellow cockscomb as well as a red."

"And a yellow verbena."

"Being a doctor's son I happen to remember that calendula, which takes
the pain out of a cut finger most amazingly, has a yellow flower."

"Don't forget stocks and marigolds."

"And black-eyed-Susans - rudbeckia - grow very large when they're

"That ought to go in the wild garden," said Helen.

"We'll let you have it," responded Roger generously, "We can put the
African daisy in the yellow bed instead."

"Calliopsis or coreopsis is one of the yellow plants that the
Department of Agriculture Bulletin mentions," said Dorothy. "It tells
you just how to plant it and we put in the seeds early on that account."

"Gaillardia always reminds me of it a bit - the lemon color," said Ethel

"Only that's stiffer. If you want really, truly prim things try
zinnias - old maids."

[Illustration: Rudbeckia - Black-eyed Susan]

"Zinnias come in a great variety of colors now," reported Mr. Emerson.
"A big bowl of zinnias is a handsome sight."

"We needn't put any sunflowers into the yellow bed," Dorothy reminded
them, "because almost my whole back yard is going to be full of them."

"And you needn't plant any special yellow nasturtiums because Mother
loves them and she has planted enough to give us flowers for the house,
and flowers and leaves for salads and sandwiches, and seeds for pickle
to use with mutton instead of capers."

"There's one flower you must be sure to have plenty of even if you
don't make these colored beds complete," urged Mr. Emerson; "that's the
'chalk-lover,' gypsophila."

"What is it?"

"The delicate, white blossom that your grandmother always puts among cut
flowers. It is feathery and softens and harmonizes the hues of all the

'So warm with light his blended colors flow,'

in a bouquet when there's gypsophila in it."

"But what a name!" ejaculated Roger.



The dogwood was in blossom when the girls first established themselves
in the cave in the Fitz-James woods. Mrs. Morton and Mrs. Smith thought
it was rather too cool, but the girls invited them to come and have
afternoon cocoa with them and proved to their satisfaction that the
rocks were so sheltered by their position and by the trees that towered
above them that it would take a sturdy wind to make them really

Their first duty had been to clean out the cave.

"We can pretend that no one ever has lived here since the days when
everybody lived in caves," said Ethel Blue, who was always pretending
something unusual. "We must be the first people to discover it."

"I dare say we are," replied Dorothy.

"Uhuh," murmured Ethel Brown, a sound which meant a negative reply.
"Here's an old tin can, so we aren't the very first."

"It may have been brought here by a wolf," suggested Ethel Blue.

"Perhaps it was a werwolf," suggested Dorothy.

"What's that?"

"A man turned by magic into a wolf but keeping his human feelings. The
more I think of it the more I'm sure that it was a werwolf that brought
the can here, because, having human feelings, he would know about cans
and what they had in them, and being a wolf he would carry it to his
lair or den or whatever they call it, to devour it."

"Really, Dorothy, you make me uncomfortable!" exclaimed Ethel Blue.

"That may be one down there in the field now," continued Dorothy,
enjoying her make-believe.

The Ethels turned and gazed, each with an armful of trash that she had
brought out of the cave. There was, in truth, a figure down in the field
beside the brook, and he was leaning over and thrusting a stick into the
ground and examining it closely when he drew it out.

"That can't be a werwolf," remonstrated Ethel Brown. "That's a man."

"Perhaps in the twentieth century wolves turn into men instead of men
turning into wolves," suggested Dorothy. "This may be a wolf with a
man's shape but keeping the feelings of a wolf, instead of the other way

"Don't, Dorothy!" remonstrated Ethel Blue again. "He does look like a
horrid sort of man, doesn't he?"

They all looked at him and wondered what he could be doing in the Miss
Clarks' field, but he did not come any nearer to them so they did not
have a chance to find out whether he really was as horrid looking as
Ethel Blue imagined.

It was not a short task to make the cave as clean as the girls wanted it
to be. The owner of the tin can had been an untidy person or else his
occupation of Fitz-James's rocks had been so long ago that Nature had
accumulated a great deal of rubbish. Whichever explanation was correct,
there were many armfuls to be removed and then the interior of the cave
had to be subjected to a thorough sweeping before the girls' ideas of
tidiness were satisfied. They had to carry all the rubbish away to some
distance, for it would not do to leave it near the cave to be an eyesore
during the happy days that they meant to spend there.

It was all done and Roger, who happened along, had made a bonfire for
them and consumed all the undesirable stuff, before the two mothers
appeared for the promised cocoa and the visit of inspection.

The girls at once set about the task of converting them to a belief in
the sheltered position of the cave and then they turned their attention
to the preparation of the feast. They had brought an alcohol stove that
consisted of a small tripod which held a tin of solid alcohol and
supported a saucepan. When packing up time came the tripod and the can
fitted into the saucepan and the handles folded about it compactly.

"We did think at first of having an old stove top that Roger saw thrown
away at Grandfather's," Ethel Brown explained. "We could build two brick
sides to hold it up and have the stone for a back and leave the front
open and run a piece of stove pipe up through that crack in the rocks."

Mrs. Morton and Mrs. Smith, who were sitting on a convenient bit of rock
just outside the cave, peered in as the description progressed.

"Then we could burn wood underneath and regulate the draft by making a
sort of blower with some piece of old sheet iron."

The mothers made no comment as Ethel Brown seemed not to have finished
her account.

"Then we thought that perhaps you'd let us have that old oil stove up in
the attic. We could set it on this flat rock on this side of the cave."

"We thought there might be some danger about that because it isn't very,
_very_ large in here, so we finally decided on this alcohol stove. It's
safe and it doesn't take up any room and this solid alcohol doesn't slop
around and set your dress afire or your table cloth, and we can really
cook a good many things on it and the rest we can cook in our own little
kitchen and bring over here. If we cover them well they'll still be warm
when they get here."

"That's a wise decision," assented Mrs. Morton, nodding toward her
sister-in-law. "I should be afraid that the stove top arrangement might
be like the oil stove - the fuel might fall about and set fire to your

"And it would take up much more space in the cave," suggested Mrs.
Smith. "Here's a contribution to your equipment," and she brought out a
box of paper plates and cups, and another of paper napkins.

"These are fine!" cried Ethel Blue. "They'll save washing."

"Here's our idea for furnishing. Do you want to hear it?" asked Dorothy.

"Of course we do."

"Do you see that flat oblong space there at the back? We're going to
fit a box in there. We'll turn it on its side, put hinges and a padlock
on the cover to make it into a door, and fix up shelves."

"I see," nodded her mother and aunt. "That will be your store cupboard."

"And our sideboard and our linen closet, all in one. We're going to make
it when we go home this afternoon because we know now what the
measurements are and we've got just the right box down in the cellar."

"Where do you get the water?"

"Roger is cleaning out the spring now and making the basin under it a
little larger, so we shall always have fresh spring water."

"That's good. I was going to warn you always to boil any water from the

"We'll remember."

The water for the cocoa was now bubbling in the saucepan. Ethel Blue
took four spoonfuls of prepared cocoa, wet it with one spoonful of water
and rubbed it smooth. Then she stirred it into a pint of the boiling
water and when this had boiled up once she added a pint of milk. When
the mixture boiled she took it off at once and served it in the paper
cups that her aunt had brought. To go with it Ethel Brown had prepared
almond biscuit. They were made by first blanching two ounces of almonds
by pouring boiling water on them and then slipping off their brown
overcoats. After they had been ground twice over in the meat chopper
they were mixed with four tablespoonfuls of flour and one tablespoonful
of sugar and moistened with a tablespoonful of milk. When they were
thoroughly mixed and rolled thin they were cut into small rounds and
baked in a quick oven for ten or fifteen minutes.

"These are delicious, my dear," Mrs. Smith said, smiling at her nieces,
and the Ethels were greatly pleased at their Aunt Louise's praise.

They sat about on the rocks and enjoyed their meal heartily. The birds
were busy over their heads, the leaves were beginning to come thickly in
the tree crowns and the chipmunks scampered busily about, seeming to be
not at all frightened by the coming of these new visitors to their
haunts. Dorothy tried to coax one to eat out of her hand. He was curious
to try the food that she held out to him and his courage brought him
almost within reach of her fingers before it failed and sent him
scampering back to his hole, the stripes on his back looking like
ribbons as he leaped to safety.

Within a month the cave was in excellent working order. The box proved
to be a success just as the girls had planned it. They kept there such
stores as they did not care to carry back and forth - sugar, salt and
pepper, cocoa, crackers - and a supply of eggs, cream-cheese and cookies
and milk always fresh. Sometimes when the family thermos bottle was not
in use they brought the milk in that and at other times they brought it
in an ordinary bottle and let it stand in the hollow below the spring.
Glass fruit jars with screw tops preserved all that was entrusted to
them free from injury by any marauding animals who might be tempted by
the smell to break open the cupboard. These jars the girls placed on the
top shelf; on the next they ranged their paper "linen" - which they used
for napkins and then as fuel to start the bonfire in which they
destroyed all the rubbish left over from their meal. This fire was
always small, was made in one spot which Roger had prepared by
encircling it with stones, and was invariably put out with a saucepanful
of water from the brook.

"It never pays to leave a fire without a good dousing," he always
insisted. "The rascally thing may be playing 'possum and blaze out later
when there is no one here to attend to it."

A piece of board which could be moved about at will was used as a table
when the weather was such as to make eating inside of the cave
desirable. One end was placed on top of the cupboard and the other on a
narrow ledge of stone that projected as if made for the purpose. One or
two large stones and a box or two served as seats, but there was not
room inside for all the members of the Club. When there was a general
meeting some had to sit outside.

They added to their cooking utensils a few flat saucepans in which water
would boil quickly and they made many experiments in cooking vegetables.
Beans they gave up trying to cook after several experiments, because
they took so long - from one to three hours - for both the dried and the
fresh kinds, that the girls felt that they could not afford so much
alcohol. They eliminated turnips, too, after they had prodded a
frequent fork into some obstinate roots for about three quarters of an
hour. Beets were nearly as discouraging, but not quite, when they were
young and tender, and the same was true of cabbage.

"It's only the infants that we can use in this affair," declared Dorothy
after she had replenished the saucepan from another in which she had
been heating water for the purpose, over a second alcohol stove that her
mother had lent them. Spinach, onions and parsnips were done in half an
hour and potatoes in twenty-five minutes.

They finally gave up trying to cook vegetables whole over this stove,
for they concluded that not only was it necessary to have extremely
young vegetables but the size of the cooking utensils must of necessity
be too small to have the proceedings a success. They learned one way,
however, of getting ahead of the tiny saucepan and the small stove. That
was by cutting the corn from the cob and by peeling the potatoes and
slicing them very thin before they dropped them into boiling water. Then
they were manageable.

"Miss Dawson, the domestic science teacher, says that the water you cook
any starchy foods in must always be boiling like mad," Ethel Blue
explained to her aunt one day when she came out to see how matters were
going. "If it isn't the starch is mushy. That's why you mustn't be
impatient to put on rice and potatoes and cereals until the water is
just bouncing."

"Almost all vegetables have some starch," explained Mrs. Morton. "Water
_really_ boiling is your greatest friend. When you girls are old enough
to drink tea you must remember that boiling water for tea is something
more than putting on water in a saucepan or taking it out of a kettle on
the stove."

"Isn't boiling water boiling water?" asked Roger, who was listening.

"There's boiling water _and_ boiling water," smiled his mother. "Water
for tea should be freshly drawn so that there are bubbles of air in it
and it should be put over the fire at once. When you are waiting for it
to boil you should scald your teapot so that its coldness may not chill
the hot water when you come to the actual making of the tea."

"Do I seem to remember a rule about using one teaspoonful of tea for
each person and one for the pot?" asked Tom.

"That is the rule for the cheaper grades of tea, but the better grades
are so strong that half a teaspoonful for each drinker is enough."

"Then it's just as cheap to get tea at a dollar a pound as the fifty
cent quality."

"Exactly; and the taste is far better. Well, you have your teapot warm
and your tea in it waiting, and the minute the water boils vigorously
you pour it on the tea."

"What would happen if you let it boil a while?"

"If you should taste water freshly boiled and water that has been
boiling for ten minutes you'd notice a decided difference. One has a
lively taste and the other is flat. These qualities are given to the
pot of tea of course."

"That's all news to me," declared James. "I'm glad to know it."

"I used to think 'tea and toast' was the easiest thing in the world to
prepare until Dorothy taught me how to make toast when she was fixing
invalid dishes for Grandfather after he was hurt in the fire at
Chautauqua," said Ethel Brown. "She opened my eyes," and she nodded
affectionately at her cousin.

"There's one thing we must learn to make or we won't be true campers,"
insisted Tom.

"What is it? I'm game to make it or eat it," responded Roger instantly.

"Spider cakes."

"Spiders! Ugh!" ejaculated Della daintily.

"Hush; a spider is a frying pan," Ethel Brown instructed her. "Tell us
how you do them, Tom," she begged.

"You use the kind of flour that is called 'prepared flour.' It rises
without any fuss."

The Ethels laughed at this description, but they recognized the value in
camp of a flour that doesn't make any fuss.

"Mix a pint of the flour with half a pint of milk. Let your spider get
hot and then grease it with butter or cotton seed oil."

"Why not lard."

"Lard will do the deed, of course, but butter or a vegetable fat always
seems to me cleaner," pronounced Tom wisely.

"Won't you listen to Thomas!" cried Roger. "How do you happen to know
so much?" he inquired amazedly.

"I went camping for a whole month once and I watched the cook a lot and
since then I've gathered ideas about the use of fat in cooking. As
little frying as possible for me, thank you, and no lard in mine!"

They smiled at his earnestness, but they all felt the same way, for the
girls were learning to approve of delicacy in cooking the more they

"Go ahead with your spider cake," urged Margaret, who was writing down
the receipt as Tom gave it.

"When your buttered spider is ready you pour in half the mixture you
have ready. Spread it smooth over the whole pan, put on a cover that
you've heated, and let the cake cook four minutes. Turn it over and let
the other side cook for four minutes. You ought to have seen our camp
cook turn over his cakes; he tossed them into the air and he gave the
pan such a twist with his wrist that the cake came down all turned over
and ready to let the good work go on."

"What did he do with the other half of his batter?" asked Ethel Brown,
determined to know exactly what happened at every stage of proceedings.

"When he had taken out the first cake and given it to us he put in the
remainder and cooked it while we were attacking the first installment."

"Was it good?"

"You bet!"

"I don't know whether we can do it with this tiny fire, but let's
try - what do you say?" murmured Ethel Brown to Ethel Blue.

"We ought to have trophies of our bow and spear," Roger suggested when
he was helping with the furnishing arrangements.

"There aren't any," replied Ethel Brown briefly, "but Dicky has a glass
bowl full of tadpoles; we can have those."

So the tadpoles came to live in the cave, carried out into the light
whenever some one came and remembered to do it, and as some one came
almost every day, and as all the U.S.C. members were considerate of the
needs and feelings of animals as well as of people, the tiny creatures
did not suffer from their change of habitation.

Dicky had taken the frogs' eggs from the edge of a pool on his
grandfather's farm. They looked like black dots at first. Then they
wriggled out of the jelly and took their place in the world as tadpoles.
It was an unfailing delight to all the young people, to look at them
through a magnifying glass. They had apparently a round head with side
gills through which they breathed, and a long tail. After a time tiny
legs appeared under what might pass as the chin. Then the body grew
longer and another pair of legs made their appearance. Finally the tail
was absorbed and the tadpole's transformation into a frog was complete.
All this did not take place for many months, however, but through the
summer the Club watched the little wrigglers carefully and thought that
they could see a difference from week to week.



When the leaves were well out on the trees Helen held an Observation
Class one afternoon, in front of the cave.

"How many members of this handsome and intelligent Club know what leaves
are for?" she inquired.

"As representing in a high degree both the qualities you mention, Madam
President," returned Tom, with a bow, "I take upon myself the duty of
replying that perhaps you and Roger do because you've studied botany,
and maybe Margaret and James do because they've had a garden, and it's
possible that the Ethels and Dorothy do inasmuch as they've had the
great benefit of your acquaintance, but that Della and I don't know the
very first thing about leaves except that spinach and lettuce are good
to eat."

"Take a good, full breath after that long sentence," advised James. "Go
ahead, Helen. I don't know much about leaves except to recognize them
when I see them."

"Do you know what they're for?" demanded Helen, once again.

"I can guess," answered Margaret. "Doesn't the plant breathe and eat
through them?"

"It does exactly that. It takes up food from water and from the soil by
its roots and it gets food and water from the air by its leaves."

"Sort of a slender diet," remarked Roger, who was blessed with a hearty

"The leaves give it a lot of food. I was reading in a book on botany the
other day that the elm tree in Cambridge, Massachusetts, under which
Washington reviewed his army during the Revolution was calculated to
have about seven million leaves and that they gave it a surface of about
five acres. That's quite a surface to eat with!"

"Some mouth!" commented Roger.

"If each one of you will pick a leaf you'll have in your hand an
illustration of what I say," suggested Helen.

[Illustration: Lily of the Valley Leaf]

They all provided themselves with leaves, picking them from the plants
and shrubs and trees around them, except Ethel Blue, who already had a
lily of the valley leaf with some flowers pinned to her blouse.

"When a leaf has everything that belongs to it it has a little stalk of
its own that is called a _petiole_; and at the foot of the petiole it
has two tiny leaflets called _stipules_, and it has what we usually
speak of as 'the leaf' which is really the _blade_."

They all noted these parts either on their own leaves or their
neighbors', for some of their specimens came from plants that had
transformed their parts.

"What is the blade of your leaf made of?" Helen asked Ethel Brown.

"Green stuff with a sort of framework inside," answered Ethel,
scrutinizing the specimen in her hand.

"What are the characteristics of the framework?"

"It has big bones and little ones," cried Della.

"Good for Delila! The big bones are called ribs and the fine ones are
called veins. Now, will you please all hold up your leaves so we can all
see each other's. What is the difference in the veining between Ethel
Brown's oak leaf and Ethel Blue's lily of the valley leaf?"

[Illustration: Ethel Brown's Oak Leaf]

After an instant's inspection Ethel Blue said, "The ribs and veins on my
leaf all run the same way, and in the oak leaf they run every which

"Right," approved Helen again. "The lily of the valley leaf is
parallel-veined and the oak leaf is net-veined. Can each one of you
decide what your own leaf is?"

1 2 3 4 6 8 9 10 11 12 13

Online LibraryMabell S.C. SmithEthel Morton's Enterprise → online text (page 6 of 13)