Girl Scouts at Dandelion Camp
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“They couldn’t, I s’pose. You see, they would have to be on hand to swear to warrants and everything. We police do things up according to law, you know.”
“Maybe they’ll be home to-day,” ventured Mr. Allison.
“Like as not. Well, so long!”
Mr. Allison thanked the officer and hurried to his office. He rang up the Bentley’s house and found Ruth’s father at home.
“Say, Bentley, I just met the cop on our beat and he tells me the scouts had an awful time! Two escaped prisoners were hiding on the mountains, and smashed up the camp. Every bit of food and all the furniture broken to bits. The girls saved a man that the outlaws had beaten to a jelly.”
“Good heavens! Were any of the scouts hurt in the fight?”
“No, but I guess they were pretty well frightened, – eh?”
“I should say so! What are we going to do about it – go out and bring them home?” said Mr. Bentley.
“Oh, the cop told me they were now at a hotel in Freedom, as they had to be on hand to testify to certain things. I suppose they will be home to-morrow.”
“Let me hear from you if you hear anything new, will you?” asked Mr. Bentley.
“Yes, and you do the same,” replied Mr. Allison.
Hardly had both men hung up the receivers before the telephone bell at the Lee house tinkled. May answered the call. Two men were trying to get her. One said to the other: “Get off of this wire – it’s busy.”
Then the other replied: “I called the number first – I heard you come in – Now get off, I have to tell this party a very important story.”
“Ho! that sounds like Allison’s voice – is it you?”
“Yes, – is this Bentley?” asked the other voice.
“Ha, ha, ha! I was just going to tell the Lees about the robbers and the camp. But you can tell them, if you like.”
“All right – hang up and I’ll tell them,” said Mr. Bentley.
Now, May had heard this conversation and when the men spoke of robbers and camp she trembled with fear. By the time Mr. Bentley had told his story, she was so weak that she had to sit down. Finally she managed to get in a word, so she asked:
“But where are the girls? Did anything happen to them?”
“Oh, they are all right! They’re stopping at the Freedom Hotel until the police can get all their testimony.”
“Thank goodness. The furniture can quickly be replaced, but the girls’ lives cannot. Now we will have to plan to refurnish their huts,” said May.
“Refurnish – why! Won’t you insist upon their coming home now?” asked Mr. Bentley.
“Why should they come home now, just after they cleared the pests out of their vicinity? Of course not!”
“Well, I suppose you are right in one way. But Allison and I expected they would come home to-morrow.”
“Poor girls! They were having such a wonderful time in camp, too! I guess I will get Mrs. Vernon’s sister to take me to Freedom in the morning to see if there is anything we can do.”
“May, I think that is a fine idea.And when you see them give them our love and say that we will do anything they say. If they plan to go on with the camp – all right and well. We will stock them up again.”
“All right, Mr. Bentley, I’ll call you up when I get back and tell you all they say. Meantime, let Mr. Allison know that I intend running out to see them, will you?”
“Yes, I’ll call him up at once, May. Good-by.”
So it happened that Mrs. Vernon’s sister-in-law and May went to Freedom in the automobile the day following the Fourth, but found the town almost deserted. Mrs. Munson told them how the scouts led the way up the mountainside when the police arrived, and they weren’t expected back that day.
After sitting around and waiting until afternoon, May and Mrs. Vernon’s sister decided to go back. But they left notes with Mrs. Munson for the scouts, as soon as they should return.
That evening May telephoned the Bentleys. After telling the little she knew about the case, she asked them to come over and discuss a plan she had thought of. Then the Allisons were asked to run over and meet the others in planning a relief-party for the scouts.
That evening the whole plan was approved and worked out. May said that the sister-in-law had promised to send the factory truck to the house on Saturday at noon, so they need not worry about transporting the donations to the camp. As that was the only hitch in the entire plan, once it was removed every one was delighted.
That Saturday morning the local papers were full of the story of how a few girl scouts found and captured two desperate outlaws. The story was so highly embellished that several of the conservative parents in the town thought it was dreadful to allow girls to go off in the woods without a dog or a big brother. What the big brother would have done that the scouts didn’t accomplish is hard to say.
But most of the girls who had been so anxious to be scouts and spend the summer in camp, now gnashed their teeth in envy. Here were four girls who had to dig dandelions to earn the money to go away on, now having the most wonderful time! They had their names in the paper, and every one said what brave scouts they were! And, most of all, they were going to have ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS from the Government as a reward. “Oh, why did we have to sit at home all summer while these scouts were getting all the fun?” they wailed.
The three families of the Dandelion Camp Scouts felt very proud of their girls when they read the account in the papers, and they felt all the more eager to go to camp with the donations of furniture, and show the girls how much they appreciated their courage and cleverness in capturing the rascals.
At one o’clock on Saturday the driver pulled his truck up in front of the Lee homestead. Just inside the picket fence stood two cane-seated chairs. The fact that hind-legs were missing was not apparent to a casual observer, but that is why they had been in the loft for several years.
The moment the truck was seen to stop, May and her father ran from the house, carrying paper bundles piled high in their arms. Eliza followed with a brass banquet lamp minus a globe. Handing this to the driver, she hurried back for odds and ends of dishes and pans. May made a second trip for some pictures in broken frames – also a washtub and old tools that had been found in the loft.
The second stop was made at the Bentley’s house. Their donation consisted of a table with three legs; a small wash-stand bureau with bottomless drawers; an old-fashioned towel-rack and a rocker with a very lame back; in fact, the back might be called crippled and helpless. But then they added a goodly stock of groceries.
At the Allison’s house the driver took on a kitchen table with one drop-leaf gone and the other hanging by one hinge. A small family album-stand from the parlor of long ago. An old hair-cloth sofa with broken springs and the filling most gone; a straw mattress and a spiral spring that had not been used for years, so the Allisons thought it might as well go to the camp as to be left in the attic. Foodstuff was the last but not least of this donation.
When the truck reached the Vernons’ house, where the sister-in-law was waiting, many cumbersome and heavy items were added to the collection. By this time the jitney party had been picked up one after another, and now all arrived at the Vernons’ house for the last passenger.
The truck and jitney then started for Dandelion Camp, the happy givers picturing how delighted the scouts would be to receive the shower of furniture.
At Freedom the surprise party found their girls had gone back to camp, and the injured man with them. Lemuel Saunders was such a personage in the public eye since the man-hunt on the mountain that he could be seen strutting up and down Main Street, telling people all about the Great Deed. Thus it was that the families from Elmertown heard the tale first-hand – with all its trimmings.
As the truck started up the trail for the camp Mr. Bentley turned to Mr. Lee and Mr. Allison and said: “According to Lemuel, he did the whole trick. If our girls played so little a part in the capture, why should they have had the reward?”
But further conversation was rendered impossible by the deep ruts worn in the trail by the many wagons that had recently traveled the road. People from Freedom and other villages nearby wanted to see the girl scouts who had shown so much sense as to trap two convicts.
Finally the truck halted, and the jitney traveled on a few hundred feet in advance before it, too, had to stop. Each member of the party then took a piece of furniture and, carrying the load, started for camp.
The scouts were busy trying to put their camp in order again, when Mrs. Vernon called out, “Some one’s coming up the trail.”
Ruth ran out to see who it could be, and then exclaimed: “Why, it’s Daddy! He’s carrying an old table.”
A few yards behind Mr. Bentley came Mr. Allison with the legless chairs. And then followed the chauffeur, staggering under a canopy of the husk-mattress. A line of visitors came behind him, each burdened with some piece of old furniture.
The scouts stood speechless at the top of the slope, but gradually the truth about this “moving brigade” dawned upon Mrs. Vernon. She turned instantly to the girls, and said: “Be very grateful, for your people have gone to a great deal of trouble to refurnish your camp.”
Mr. Bentley was only too thankful to drop his burden when he reached the scouts; Ruth caught hold of his hand, laughing merrily as she said: “Oh, can you ever stand up straight again, Daddy?”
“I doubt it,” returned he, holding the small of his back.
Then the others came up and deposited their donations beside the kitchen-table. As each one sighed and wiped streaming faces, the scouts declared they were the finest families on earth.
“You certainly are very self-sacrificing to bring all this furniture to camp,” added Mrs. Vernon.
“We would have been cold-blooded folks if we hadn’t, after hearing how all the rustic furniture was destroyed,” said May.
“But we got it all back!” exclaimed Julie, joyously.
“Got it back! I thought those rascals smashed it up,” said Mr. Allison.
“No – they just hid it behind bushes and trees; only the grass mats and little ornaments were broken up,” explained Joan.
“Dear me! Do you mean to say that we brought this load of odds and ends all this way for nothing?” cried Mrs. Bentley.
“Of course not! Now we can entertain company over-night, you see. With that mattress and spring we can have two people,” declared Julie, looking at her companions for credit of this idea.
“That’s so! And we can furnish a regular bedroom with the chairs and table – and banquet lamp,” added Joan.
“But we will have to pin a notice on those chairs so no one will use them,” ventured Betty, doubtfully, looking at the legless objects.
Every one laughed, and Ruth added: “We’ll build new legs on to them.”
“You’ll have to build another hut to hold the furniture,” now said Mr. Gilroy.
This attracted all attention to the stranger, and Mrs. Vernon suddenly flushed crimson, and said: “Oh! What a poor scout hostess I make. I quite forgot to introduce our guest, Mr. Gilroy.” Then the usual ceremony took place, midst the laughter of every one, for Mrs. Vernon was considered to be very particular about social customs.
“Now that all this furniture is here, what shall we do with it?” asked Joan.
“It won’t stand dew and weather like our rustic pieces, you know,” added Ruth.
“If you scouts will help move the ‘shower,’ we might pile it back of Hepsy’s shed and cover it with a canvas until you have built a hotel,” laughed May.
So, with merriment and strenuous labor, the furniture was neatly stacked up beside the shed until it could be better arranged.
Then every one sat down to listen to the story of the capture of the convicts. As all the scouts wished to tell the tale at the same time so that no one understood, the visitors quickly voted that Mrs. Vernon be the speaker. This was acceptable to the girls, and the Captain began.
She was a good story-teller, and the scenes were graphically described until she reached the part where the Chief stood on the roof of the hut, commanding the fugitives to come out. To make the recital more impressive, the Captain threw out her arm, which was supposed to hold the revolver, when quite unexpectedly the chair she sat in collapsed, and she found herself on the grass.
For a second every one held his or her breath, then laughed heartily at Mrs. Vernon’s surprised expression. Julie jumped up from the stump where she had been sitting and ran over to explain.
“Oh, I am so sorry, Verny! I forgot to tell you that the fore leg of this rustic seat was loose. I tied it on with string to make it look right, but I didn’t think any one would use it.”
“Good gracious, Jule! Did you think our camp wanted ornamental furniture?” demanded Joan, thinking thereby to give a strong hint to the friends who showered useless articles upon them that day.
This statement caused rather a silence in the visitors, until May said: “I hope you won’t find much trouble in repairing the pieces we brought for you.”
“Oh, we will make some sort of use of them,” replied Julie, frankly, as sisters will. “We can pull the old stuffing out of that sofa, you know, and use it for bedding for Hepsy, when we run short of dried leaves or grass.”
Every eye turned to look at the old sofa, and Mr. Gilroy had great difficulty in keeping his face straight. Finally the erstwhile owner of the sofa said: “Horses don’t like hair for bedding.”
Julie retorted: “Because it makes them dream of what all the tails and manes come to when they die!”
This caused a laugh, and Joan added: “Anyway, a horse in camp – ’specially a scout horse – can’t be choosers about bedding. They are glad to get what is to be had.”
Mr. Lee laughingly replied to this: “I’m glad I’m not a scout horse.”
Mrs. Vernon now turned to her sister-in-law and said: “I’m curious to hear what donations you found to bring out?”
“Oh, Pete told me there was a loft full of furniture over the old stables. So I rummaged and found all I could manage.”
“That reminds me, Mrs. Ormsby! We have not added your gifts to these because we could not carry them up the slope. They were too heavy,” explained Mr. Lee.
“My goodness me! More stuff?” exclaimed Ruth.
“Yes, but I think you will be pleased with my donations,” said Mrs. Ormsby, apologetically. “I heard how you had to manage with this poor camp-fire, so I brought a kitchen stove that was stored in the loft. I also – ” but the lady got no further at that time.
The scouts laughed so that some of them doubled over and rocked back and forth. Even Mrs. Vernon had to laugh at her relative’s pity.
“Oh, oh! This is the funniest thing I ever heard!” said she. “Why, my dear Kate, don’t you know that half the sport of camping is trying to do without modern equipment? Every camper tries to use wood-material only for home, furniture and outfit. What would the founders of the girls’ scouts say if they heard we cooked our camp meals on a kitchen range in the woods!”
“Do you really mean that you do not want it?” asked Mrs. Ormsby.
“Of course not! We have a fine fireplace and oven, so the stove and stove-pipe may as well go back on the truck.”
“Maybe you will scorn the walnut bed I brought as a great surprise? I heard there was a spring and mattress, so I had the bed brought from the loft and moved here on the truck with the other things. But it is so massive and heavy, no one could carry the head and foot boards up the hill. We thought Hepsy could do that,” explained Mrs. Ormsby, dubiously to be sure, after the reception her other gift had received.
Mrs. Vernon now laughed as heartily as the scouts had done just before this. “Oh! That awful bedstead that always took an acre lot to hold it! Where could we put it up? Our huts will never hold one section of it.”
“I have a brilliant idea, Mrs. Vernon,” now said Mr. Gilroy. “Suppose we put up the bed down there in some secluded nook and then with the spring and mattress I can have a wonderful suite of my own for a few nights.”
“There! I knew that bed would prove useful!” declared Mrs. Ormsby, sending a look of thanks to Mr. Gilroy.
“Maybe Mr. Gilroy would like the stove, too, to dry out the dampness from the ground where he camps,” suggested Julie.
Every one laughed excepting Betty; she took the idea as literal, and said: “That might be a good plan for us – to use it in front of the fireplace. You see, we can’t burn wood there ’cause it smokes so, but the stove-pipe can be run right up the flues so all the smoke from the stove will manage to get up where it ought to go.”
Another shout of laughter greeted this original proposition, and Mrs. Vernon finally gasped: “If the stove goes in the hut, we will have to stay out!”
“Then I suppose the stove has to go back?” Mrs. Ormsby wanted to know.
“We can sell it in Freedom, I have no doubt, and put the proceeds in the bank for the Adirondack Camp,” replied Mrs. Vernon.
“Oh, say, Verny! That’s what we can do with all this furniture, can’t we?” cried Julie, eagerly.
But her vivacious suggestion seemed to meet with another strange silence. Finally Mrs. Vernon broke the embarrassment by saying: “We ought to get dinner, as it is long past the hour.”
And Mr. Lee said: “I suppose the food-stock we brought to replenish the larder will be scorned.”
“Oh, no indeed, Daddy! We need things to eat!” said Betty.
As they all sat in a circle on the grass, eating and laughing, Eliza made a bold suggestion.
“Now, I sez we folks seem to be foolish over some things. One of ’em is, we hoard ole furniture and odds and ends that even a Dandelion laughs at! We pays rent fer jes’ sech useless trash that we never wants to use agin. Every house-cleanin’ time we moves and cleans the rubbish what collects moths, an’ finally, affer years of savin’, we throws it out.”
She paused to see what effect this statement had on her audience, and seeing it was politely received, she took another huge bite from the sandwich she held, and, while chewing vigorously, concluded her speech.
“Now, this is what I sez: ‘Let’s go home and clear out all the rubbage that clutters our attics, an’ give it to the poor, or sell it to a rummitch sale such as I hears tell of in Elmertown.’”
“I second that valuable motion!” laughed Mr. Lee.
And the men voted unanimously on the plan, but the ladies were not so easily persuaded. Mrs. Ormsby quickly added: “All opposed to the motion, say ‘Nay.’”
But the scouts and Mrs. Vernon shouted hilariously to drown opposition. There were two or three faint “nays,” so the motion was carried, and the men declared that they would see to it that it was fulfilled.
CHAPTER SIXTEEN – A VISIT TO GRANNY DUNSTAN’S CABIN
Mr. Gilroy’s “suite of rooms” was put in order by the men before they went back to Elmertown, and not only the walnut bed helped furnish the chamber, but several other pieces of furniture were carried back from the stack beside the shed, and placed to add a look of comfort to the “room.”
When all was done and the visitors were ready to leave, the scouts declared they would accompany their relatives down the slope and pass judgment on the “suite” to be occupied by their guest.
“It may be healthy to sleep out under the trees like this, but I prefer a plaster ceiling,” laughed Mr. Lee, waving his hand at the open woods that was to be Mr. Gilroy’s chamber.
“That’s because you never tried Nature’s ceiling. Once you sleep out in the open, you will never want to try indoors again,” replied Mr. Gilroy.
“I’d better not try it, then. I have to remain at home and see that some one provides the ‘pot-boiler,’” returned Mr. Lee.
The visitors climbed into the jitney and said good-by, and the scouts turned to go up the hill again, when Mrs. Vernon remarked: “Now that you have a boarder to look after, you must pay more attention to your cookery. Mr. Gilroy must not regret having accepted our invitation to camp with us for a few days.”
“But our invitation had ‘a string’ to it, Verny,” added Julie laughingly.
“That’s true – I said I would take ‘pot luck’ and teach the scouts many camping tricks to boot!” declared Mr. Gilroy.
Sunday morning at breakfast Mrs. Vernon said she was very anxious to meet young Dunstan, for he might have met her son in the Aviation Service. Then she had to tell Mr. Gilroy about it.
“I thought I would like to drive down to Freedom later in the day, Mrs. Vernon, and see if there was any mail for me. It was to be forwarded from Junction, you know. If you would care to go and ask about Dunstan, we might make a little party of it,” suggested Mr. Gilroy.
“Yes, Verny, let’s!” exclaimed the scouts.
“I am willing, as there seems little else one can do,” added Mrs. Vernon.
So Hepsy was hitched to the buckboard and the campers climbed in. As they started down the trail, Ruth remarked: “We ought to be thankful the posse found our hamper and seat in the Cave, and brought it back to camp.”
“Yes, or we’d have to ride on the floor of the buckboard,” added Joan.
“We’d have more room there than on this seat,” retorted Julie, who was clinging to the iron rail.
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