Girl Scouts at Dandelion Camp
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CHAPTER ONE – THE DANDELION PATROL
“Dear me, I never saw so many old dandelions in my life!” exclaimed Juliet Lee, as she tugged mightily at a stubborn root.
“Seems to me there are ten new weeds ready to spring up the moment we pull an old one out,” grumbled Ruth Bentley, standing up to straighten her aching back.
“Forty-six for me! I’ll soon have my hundred roots out for the day!” exulted Elizabeth Lee, Juliet’s twin sister. As she spoke, she shook a clod of loose earth from a large dandelion root, and threw the forty-sixth plant into a basket standing beside her.
“You handled that root exactly as an Indian would a scalp before he ties it to his belt,” laughed Joan Allison, another girl in the group of four so busily at work weeding a vast expanse of lawn.
“Oh, me! I don’t b’lieve we ever will earn enough money this way to pay our expenses in a Girls’ Camp!” sighed Ruth, watching her companions work while she stood and complained. “Doesn’t it seem foolish to waste these lovely summer days in weeding Mrs. Vernon’s lawn, when we might be having glorious sport in a Girl Scouts’ Troop?”
“We’d never be admitted to a Patrol or Troop if we had to confess failure in pulling up little things like dandelions,” ventured Elizabeth, without raising her eyes from her task.
“There you go – preaching, as usual!” retorted Ruth.
“Well, anyway, Mrs. Vernon said it wasn’t so much what we did, or where we did it, as long as we always did the best we could; so I’m trying my best on these unfriendly weeds,” added Elizabeth, generally called Betty, for short.
“Pooh! Mrs. Vernon is an old preacher, too, and you copy her in everything just because you haven’t any mind of your own!” scorned Ruth, her face looking quite ugly for such a pretty girl.
Juliet, known familiarly as Julie, glanced over at her sister to see if Ruth’s rude words hurt. Seeing Betty as happy-faced as ever, she exchanged glances with Joan, who understood Ruth better than the girl understood herself.
To change the trend of the conversation, Joan now asked: “Has any one thought of a name for our club?”
“Yes, I proposed lots of them but Verny seemed to think they were meaningless. I suppose she prefers a Latin or Greek name,” Ruth jeered.
“Oh, not at all! She left it entirely to us to choose a name, but she thought we ought to select one that would fit,” hastily explained Joan.
“I’ve got one – guess what?” exclaimed Betty, sitting back, and hugging her knees as she smiled questioningly at her friends.
The other girls puckered their brows and guessed all sorts of names, some so ridiculous that a merry chorus of laughter pealed across the glen; but finally, Betty held up a hand in warning and shouted:
“Halt! Halt! if you keep on this way, we’ll never finish the weeds.”
“Give up, then!” responded her companions.
“Dandelion Troopy!” exulted Betty.
“Troopy – why that ‘y’ at the end?” queried Joan.
“’Cause we can’t be a regular ‘Troop,’ you know, while we have only four members – Verny said the Scout Manual says so.As most infant ideas end with a ‘y,’ I suggest that we end that way.”
“Oh, Betty! I’m sure you don’t want us to end there when we’ve but just begun,” laughed Julie.
Betty was about to explain her meaning when Ruth interrupted. “Good gracious! Haven’t we had enough of dandelions in this horrid job without reminding us forever of the work by calling ourselves by that name?”
“Well, I was thinking how pretty the name would look if Verny prints it on a board sign and paints yellow dandelions all about the words,” explained Betty, in an apologetic tone.
“It would look nice,” added Joan, picking up a blossom and studying it carefully.
“You know dandelions really are lovely! And they smell sweet, too. But they grow so freely, everywhere, that folks think they are weeds. Now they’d be considered wonderful if they were hard to cultivate,” said Betty, seriously.
“I fail to see beauty in the old things!” scorned Ruth.
“You fail to see beauty in lots of things, Ruth, and that’s where you lose the best part of living,” said a sweet voice from the pathway that skirted the lawn.
“Oh, Verny! When did you get back?” cried three of the girls. Ruth turned away her face and curled her lips rebelliously.
“Oh, some time ago, but I went indoors to see if the banker had his money ready for my scouts,” replied Mrs. Vernon, paying no attention to Ruth’s attitude.
“We were just talking of a name, Verny, and Betsy said she thought the name of ‘Dandelion’ was so appropriate,” explained Joan.
“Betty thought a signboard with the name and a wreath of the flowers painted on it would be awfully sweet,” added Julie, eagerly.
“And I say ‘Toad-stool Camp’ with a lot of fungus plants painted about it would be more appropriate for this Troop’s name!” sneered Ruth, wheeling around to face Mrs. Vernon. “We’re sick of the sight of dandelions.”
Understanding Ruth’s shortcomings so well, the girls paid no attention to this remark, but Mrs. Vernon said: “I came out to see if you were almost through with to-day’s work.”
“Seems as if we were awfully slow this afternoon, Verny, but we’ll dig all the faster now for having you here to boss us,” said Julie.
“It’s all because I stopped them to talk about a name,” admitted Betty.
“Well, we were glad of the recess,” laughed Joan.
“Come, come, then – let’s make up for lost time!” called Julie, falling to with a zeal never before demonstrated by her.
The other girls turned and also began digging furiously, in order to complete the number of roots they were supposed to sell at one time. Not a word was spoken for a few moments, but Ruth groaned about her backache, and sat up every few seconds to look at her dirt-smeared fingernails. Mrs. Vernon had to hide a smile and when she could control her voice, said:
“I’ll be going back to Vernon’s Bank, girls, but as soon as you are ready to cash in for the roots, go to the side porch. Then wash up in the lavatory and meet me on the front verandah, where we’ll have something cool to drink for such warm laborers.”
“Um-m! I know what! You always do treat us the best!” cried Joan.
“With such an incentive before us, I shouldn’t wonder but we’ll be there before you are ready,” added Julie, smacking her lips.
Mrs. Vernon laughed, then walked back to the house, and the girls dug and dug, without wasting any more time to grumble or talk. Even Ruth forgot her annoyances in the anticipation of having something good to eat and a cooling drink the moment she was through with her hundred weeds.
As usual, Betty completed her task before any of her companions, and Ruth said querulously: “I don’t see how you ever do it! Here I’ve worked as hard as any one but I only have sixty roots.”
“I’ll help you finish up so’s we can get to the house,” Betty offered generously. And Ruth accepted her help without thinking to thank her.
“I know why Ruth always falls behind,” commented Joan. “Betty may be a ‘prude’ and a ‘preacher’ in Ruth’s eyes, but she sure does persist in anything. I haven’t heard her complain of, or shirk, a single thing since we began this Scout plan. Ruth sits and worries over everything before it happens, so she really makes her work hard from the moment she ever starts it.”
“That’s good logic, Joan,” returned Julie. “Besides all that, I have watched Betty work, and she seems to like it! Haven’t you ever noticed how fast and well you can do anything that you love to do?”
“You don’t suppose I love to root out dandelions, do you?” demanded Betty, laughingly.
“Not exactly, but you try to see all the good points in them and that makes you overlook the horrid things,” said Julie.
“Well, I wish Betty would show me the good points in a pan of potatoes,” said Joan. “I have to peel the ’taters every day, and I hate it! Many a time I have tried to fool myself into believing I like them – but I just can’t!”
The girls laughed heartily, and Julie added: “Next time you have to peel them, begin to sing or speak a piece – that works like magic, because it turns your thoughts to other things.”
“There now! Ruth’s hundred are ready, too!” said Betty, tossing the last few roots into the basket.
Mr. Vernon was paymaster, and always contrived to have bright new coins on hand with which to pay his laborers. To-day he counted out the correct wage for each girl, and then said:
“That lawn must be almost cleaned up, eh?”
“Oh, Mr. Vernon! It’s most discouraging!” cried Ruth.
“Yes – why?” asked Mr. Vernon, quizzically.
“Because we root out a place one day, and the next the young ones sprout up again.”
“That looks as if you girls may bankrupt me before this contract is completed, eh?” laughed he.
“Come, girls! Don’t waste your time in there with Uncle Verny when you might be sipping cool lemonade out here!” called Mrs. Vernon from the front of the house.
So the four girls hastily washed away all signs of earth from hands and faces, and joined their “Captain” on the verandah. Here they found waiting great wicker easy-chairs, and a table spread with goodies. In a few moments unpleasant work and dandelions were forgotten in the delectable pastime of eating fresh cake and drinking lemonade.
“What do you think of the name ‘Dandelion Troop,’ Verny?” asked Julie, when the first attack on the cake had subsided.
“I think it is most appropriate at present, but how will you feel about that name next year – or the next?”
“Now that’s what I say! We’ll grow so tired of it,” added Ruth.
“But we don’t think so!” argued Julie.
“Besides, we ought never to weary of the humble things that really start us in life. If dandelions mean our start to a real Scout Troop, we ought to be grateful and honor the weed,” giggled Joan.
Then an animated discussion followed between the girls for and against the name, but finally the champions of “Dandelion” came forth the victors, and thereafter they wished to be known as “The Dandelion Troop.”
“I suppose you girls know that we can’t organize a regular Patrol until we have eight or more girls,” said Mrs. Vernon, after the mimic christening of a dandelion with Betty as sponsor for the name took place.
“We know that, but you told us that the Handbook said we might be a club from any school or Y. W. C. A., and meet regularly until we had secured our needed number,” added Joan, anxiously.
“Yes, that is true, but I think we had better continue with our little club as we are now, and study the ways and laws of the Scouts, before we try to increase our number to eight. You see, you had already planned to earn money for camping this summer before the Girl Scout Drive began; then you became enthusiastic over that.
“If I am to be your Captain, I, too, must study the plans, principles, and objects of the Organization, or I would be a poor Captain to guide you.”
“Does that mean we can’t call ourselves Girl Scouts, or anything else, until you’ve done training?” demanded Ruth.
“By no means! Dandelion Patrol can go right along and obey the laws of the Scouts, and perfect itself for admission to the Organization as soon as we prove we know enough to claim our membership,” explained Mrs. Vernon.
“But we won’t have to give up our camp idea for that, will we?” asked Joan, anxiously.
“No,” laughed Mrs. Vernon, while the other girls sighed in relief.
While the four girls are trudging homeward, you may like to hear how they came to be weeding Vernon’s lawn, and why they were so keen about starting a Girls’ Scout Patrol.
Julie and Betty were about thirteen years old, and were very popular with their friends. Their sister, May, who was about seventeen, kept house for the family, as the mother had been dead for several years. Besides May, there were Daddy Lee, John, the brother, who was twelve, and Eliza, the maid-of-all-work, who had been a fixture in the household since May was a baby.
Ruth Bentley was about fourteen, but she was an only child. Every whim was law to her doting mother and father, so it was small wonder that the girl was spoiled in many ways. But not past salvation, as you shall see. She had a lovely home quite near the Vernons’ place, with servants to do the work and wait upon her; thus indolence became one of her evil tendencies. When Ruth heard the Lee girls propose the forming of a Scout Patrol, she, too, yearned to become a member. Hence she had to weed dandelions for a test the same as the other girls did, but not without complaints and rebellion on her part. Mrs. Vernon paid no attention to her fault-finding, for she knew that if the girl persevered there would be less danger of her failing in other tests when the Patrol began on more interesting but more difficult tasks.
Joan Allison was also thirteen years of age, and a more sensible little person you would have difficulty in finding. She had three brothers younger than herself, but her parents could not afford a maid, so Joan helped with the house-work, while the boys did the chores about the place.
The Vernons’ house, on the outskirts of the town, was the handsomest place in the township. There were acres of woodland and meadows at the back, and a velvety lawn that sloped from the front of the house down to the stream that was the boundary line of the estate.
The Vernons had had a son who enlisted in the Aviation Service at the beginning of the War in Europe, but he had met death soon after his initial flight on the battle lines. Mr. and Mrs. Vernon had always taken an interest in the children living in their neighborhood, but after Myles’ death they tried to forget their loss by closer companionship with the young people in the small town.
Mrs. Vernon had heard of and seen the splendid work done by Girl Scouts, and she decided to train a group to join the Organization. Thus it came about that the four girls who were anxious, also, to become Scouts, were the first members in the Dandelion Patrol to be started by Mrs. Vernon.
To try out their patience and powers of endurance, as well as to have them earn money for their simple camp-equipment, Mrs. Vernon suggested that they weed dandelions at a rate of twenty cents a hundred. This test taught the girls to appreciate the value expressed in a dime – for it meant just that much service rendered.
School would soon close for the summer, and the girls hoped by that time to have enough money earned and saved to buy the second-hand tent and camp-outfit a friend of May’s had offered for sale. Every dollar added to the camp-fund gave the girls dreams of the mountains where canoeing, hiking, fishing and living in the open would constitute one long season of delight.
Mrs. Vernon listened to their plans and preparations, but she was too wise to discourage them by saying it would take longer than two weeks at the rate of income they were receiving to earn sufficient capital to outfit a camp. She encouraged them in doing whatever work came for them to do – be it dandelion roots or drying dishes – and explained how Perseverance and Persistence always rewarded one.
CHAPTER TWO – AN UNEXPECTED PROPOSITION
Julie and Betty dropped their coins into the bank at home that was jointly kept for their savings, then they hurried out to the kitchen to see what kind of dessert May was preparing.
Eliza was busy with the finishing touches of the dinner when the twins ran in; and being the nominal head of the family since the mother was gone, she ordered the children around.
“Here, Betty – mash them pertaters whiles I strain the squash, will yuh?” said she.
“Shall I add the butter and cream, ’Liza?” asked Betty, eagerly taking up the patent masher because it was considered great fun to watch the tiny squirms of mealy potato run through the sieve.
“Julie kin get the butter an’ cream – yuh jest hurry and do the mashin’. I’m gettin’ late with th’ dinner ennyway,” replied Eliza, turning her attention to the roast in the oven.
Julie started for the jug of cream, but stopped at May’s side and asked: “How far is it from here to the Adirondacks, Maysy – I mean, how much does it cost to get there?”
“It’s a good ways, and I’ve heard it costs a lot of money, but I don’t know exactly how much. Why?”
“Oh, nothing much – I just wanted to know, that’s all,” returned Julie, as she took up the jug to carry it back to Betty.
“We want to figure out how much more money we’ll have to earn, Maysy, before we can start for that camp. That’s why Jule asked,” explained Betty, conscientious even in little things like this.
“Hoh! why you girls will have to weed Vernon’s lawn all summer before you can raise money enough to pay carfare to the Adirondacks!” laughed John, who now scuffled into the kitchen to see if he could find anything good to eat before dinner was served.
“We didn’t ask your opinion! You’re only a child, so how would you know about carfares,” retorted Julie, condescendingly.
“Oh, really! Is that so! Well, let me tell you, I know a heap more about it than you dream of, ’cause I’m planning to go to Chimney Point Camp myself this summer – so!” exclaimed John, feeling highly gratified when he saw the looks of consternation on his sisters’ faces. But he forgot to reckon with Eliza.
Eliza was a trifle more than six feet in height, and buxom as well. She had powerful hands and feet and when she snapped her mouth shut as a signal of disapproval, the children knew better than to argue.
Now Eliza plunked the soup-pot down upon the range and wheeled to face John. Her broad hands went to their habitual rest upon her ample hips, and she inquired in a high falsetto voice:
“John Lee! Does your father know what you’se just said?”
“Not yet, but he will t’night, ’Liza; the Y. M. C. A. director of our gym is coming to see him about it,” replied John, without the bravado he had expressed towards his sisters.
“Then lem’me tell you this much, sonny! Ef your father asks me fer an opinion – and I s’pose he will, seein’ how I has brung you all up – I’ll come out an’ tell him it ain’t fair fer him t’ let you take money to go to camp this summer, an’ make th’ girls set to work to earn their’n. An’ that’s onny fair to all!”
“Oh, I am not going to spend money, ’Liza – I’m goin’ to help wash dishes in camp to pay for my board,” hastily added John.
“Wash dishes! Huh!” snorted Eliza disdainfully. “I’d hate t’ hev to eat from them dishes!” Then as an afterthought struck her humorously, she added: “But men-folks don’t know th’ diffrunce – they eat what’s set before them, whether dishes are clean or dirty!”
May laughed appreciatively and said: “Which goes to show how much ’Liza appraises John’s ability to wash dishes.”
“Er anything else, that I knows of,” murmured Eliza, winking at May. “Don’t we have t’ look after his neck and ears every day afore he goes to school?”
Julie joined May in the laugh at John’s expense, and he rushed out of the kitchen, slamming the door behind him. But Betty turned to Eliza and said:
“’Liza, John’s getting to be too big a boy for us to tease like that. I think we hurt his feelings just now.”
“Betsy, if John’s too big for teasin’ then he’s big enough to ’tend to his own wardrobe and appearance. Now I wonder what he would look like in ten days ef I diden’ keep after him all the time?”
Betty said no more but she had finished mashing the potatoes and so she ran out, planning how she could please John in order to compensate him for the teasing from Eliza.
Julie had been hanging about, thinking she could scrape the bowl clean when her sister had finished whipping the cream for the Snow Pudding. But May had other plans. When the cream had stiffened into a peak of snow-like froth, the bowl was carried to the refrigerator and there placed upon the ice.
With a regretful sigh, Julie watched, then ran out after Betty. John and Betty were in the sitting-room asking Mr. Lee about railroad fares and camp-life. So Julie was just in time to hear his reply.
Having figured roughly on a scrap of paper, Mr. Lee told his questioners about how much it would cost to reach the Adirondacks. John whistled in surprise, and Betty looked at Julie in chagrin.
“My goodness, Betty! It will take us all summer to earn that much money.”
“I guess we’ll have to find some mountains nearer home, then,” ventured Betty, wistfully.
“I wonder what Ruth will do when she hears we can’t earn enough money for fares,” added Julie.
The following day after school, the four girls met again on Vernon’s lawn and exchanged items of news with each other. But the most discouraging of all was the telling of the cost of carfare to the Adirondacks.
They stood with baskets hanging from their arms, and weeding tools idle, while faces expressed the disappointment at hearing Betty’s story. Finally Ruth said:
“Then there’s no use breaking our backs over this old lawn. I’ll not dig dandelions if it isn’t going to get us anywhere.”
“Oh, I didn’t mean to make you feel that way, when I told you about the fares,” expostulated Betty. “I only wanted you to know we’d have to find some other camp-place to go to, nearer home.”
“Anyway, girls, don’t let’s quit work just now, because we found out about the cost of traveling. Let’s keep right on and who knows! we may wind up in the Alps this summer – carfares, steamers for ocean voyages, and everything included – paid for and presented to us by an unknown uncle from a far country!” laughed Joan.
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