Lillian Roy.

Girl Scouts at Dandelion Camp





We can take turns walking if we are too crowded, suggested Mr. Gilroy, who shared the back seat with two scouts.

Well have to do that, anyway, when Hepsy comes to a hill, laughed Mrs. Vernon.

So with light banter the party rode to Freedom; there they were received like heroes, for every inhabitant of Freedom had clipped the papers and saved the items that mentioned the capture of the convicts. While Mr. Gilroy went with Lemuel to get his letters, Mrs. Vernon asked if young Dunstan had been heard from.

Not yet, but sometimes he takes the Crest Trail to hum. In that case, he nary comes nigh Freedom, replied an old native.

Where does the Crest Trail start? asked Mrs. Vernon.

Wall, thats the way Mr. Gilroy went from Junction. It runs along the top affer one gits halfway up from Junction.

As this description was not very accurate, the Captain decided to trust to Mr. Gilroys ability to lead them there. So she made a proposition to Mr. Gilroy. The girls did not hear what it was, so they knew nothing of the outing planned for the morrow.

I think it will be fine, Captain, and I will see the man who has charge of the stable, returned Mr. Gilroy, in a low voice.

Soon after this Mr. Gilroy went down the main street and turned in at the livery stable. He was not gone long, however, and when he returned, he nodded satisfactorily to Mrs. Vernon.

That night Mrs. Vernon said to the scouts: You must all go to bed early, as we have a jaunt planned for you to-morrow. Breakfast must be out of the way quite early, as we hope to start from camp about eight oclock.

Where are we going, Verny? asked Ruth.

I heard Verny asking about Dunstans Cabin, and I bet she plans for us to walk there, quickly added Julie.

Mrs. Vernon smiled at this added proof of Julies mental alertness, but she shook her head as she said: Not a walk, but a ride.

A drive, you mean, corrected Joan.

No just what I said. There will be horses from Freedom brought to camp before eight to-morrow, if it is clear, explained Mrs. Vernon.

Good gracious! I havent any habit! exclaimed Ruth.

We will ride in the bloomers we wear at camp, said the Captain.

I never knew there were enough saddles in Freedom for all of us, laughed Julie.

That is what I went to find out, said Mr. Gilroy. The man, Mark, who has charge of the stable, told me he could hire some from the farmers round about. He is going to bring up the horses in the morning and take them back in the evening.

What will he do meantime, to kill time here? asked Joan.

He said he would make some bird-boxes for you, and nail them up in various trees, so you can entice the birds to nest here.

But the scouts had not yet studied bird-life, so they were not aware that the nesting period was past. They delighted in the news that they were to have bird-houses, however.

When Mr.

Gilroy took up his flashlight to go down to his Royal Suite, as the scouts called the walnut bedstead, Joan said: Shall we escort you down the trail?

Oh, no! I can find the bed, all right. It is such a huge affair that I would have to be blind not to see it in the dark.

The scouts were soon in bed after this, and honestly tried to go to sleep, but the new adventure planned for the morrow kept them awake. After telling each other what they would wear and how well they could ride horses, one after the other quieted down, and, last of all, Mrs. Vernon was able to sleep.

It was past eight when Mark was seen coming up the trail leading a line of horses, saddled and ready to ride. Stopping at the Royal Suite, he waited for Mr. Gilroy to get upon the largest horse. Then they continued to the camp.

The girls had breakfast out of the way, and were anxiously waiting for the horses, so Mark had quite an audience as he rode up on the plateau.

The scouts seldom had opportunity to ride a horse when at home, and now they commented on the different animals. Julie instantly said: I choose the brown one he is so shiny.

Seems to me they look awfully tall, whispered Betty.

They be the usual size, miss, said Mark, who overheard.

Maybe they wont seem so high when we get up, added Joan.

Mrs. Vernon laughed. That is always the first thought of an amateur rider how high up the saddle seems!

Mr. Gilroy assisted the Captain to mount, then he helped the girls up. Mark had an extra horse, and now he said: I brung my own hoss ez I figgered Id best lead the way as fur as Crest Trail. After that its easy going and you cant miss Dunstans Cabin.

All right, Mark lead on, said Mr. Gilroy.

As the hosses is all safe fer ridin, the scouts needen fear em. They aint colts ner air they skittish, said Mark.

Mr. Gilroy smiled, for he surmised as much. The mounts, in fact, seemed aged enough to be pensioned for the rest of their lives.

As Mark led the way up the trail, he described Granny Dunstan and her abode. Shes most a hunerd years old, an shes allus lived in that cabin. This boy is her great-granson, but his folks lives in a town some forty mile away. He come to stop wid Granny when she got so old, an he likes the woods life.

But he enlisted, you say, to fight the Germans, said Mrs. Vernon, eagerly.

Yeh! He keeps up to th times, an hes books and papers up thar. When the Lusertani was sunk he got reel mad, an come down to Freedom an wanted to git a crowd of young uns up to go and shoot the Huns. But they diden want to go so fur from hum. Then he got his dander up an says: Ill jine myself, then. Youll hear of me some day! And off he goes. Some folks said he oughter have stayed wid his Granny, so a few of us druv up to ask her about it. Golly! she mos made us deef with her shoutin at our bein slackers, cuz she said her boy was the onny true Yank in Freedom!

She made us feel mighty small when she shouts out: Yuh call yer town Freedom! Bah it aint nothin but a handful of cowards. It oughter be called Slack town. We got away pritty soon affer that, an folks aint so anxious to visit Granny as onct they was.

This explanation gave the scout party a good idea of the old woman they were about to visit, and Mrs. Vernon said:

Do you think we should have told her we wanted to call?

Oh, no! she dont mind strangers. She goes about her chores jes th same ez ef no one was there, said Mark.

The seven horses padded softly up the grassy trail, and when they reached the cross-trail near the top of the mountain Mark reined in his mount.

Now, yeh foller that trail to the crest an then turn t th left. Foller the road clear on till yeh come to the Cabin.

Mark waited and watched until the last horse had disappeared on top of the mountain, then he rode back to camp to wait. The scouts continued on the trail, passing noisy streams that ran madly over rocks or fell over cliffs. The birds and flowers were many-hued and beautiful, so that every step of the way was enjoyable. Mr. Gilroy rode in front, and the Captain at the rear of the line.

After a ride of about three miles along the Crest, Mr. Gilroy stopped his horse and looked at a tiny cabin half-hidden under vines and giant trees. It sat back from the trail about twenty feet, and might have been passed by unless one was looking for it.

Isnt that lovely? Joan said.

Yes, in summer; but think how dreadful it would be in winter, added Julie.

She doesnt live here all winter, does she? asked Ruth.

Yes; Mark says she wont leave the place, although her granddaughter the aviators mother, you know begged her to move down to her home, explained Mrs. Vernon.

The roofs as green as the grass, now said Betty.

Its moss on the old shingles, said Mrs. Vernon.

Mark told me that folks at Freedom say the old lady has a heap of money hidden away in this old cabin, and no one knows where except her great-grandson, who will be the heir, said Mr. Gilroy.

But that is all conjecture, Mr. Gilroy, as no one has ever heard a word about it from Granny or her boy, added Mrs. Vernon.

I think it is idle gossip, for how could the old dame make the gold up here? It would take all she could earn with her herbs to pay for her living, admitted Mr. Gilroy.

Does she sell herbs? asked the scouts, eagerly.

Mark said she is the greatest Nature physician ever found around here. If the medical men cant cure a sickness, they send for Granny Dunstan, and she gives the patients a drink of simples and they recover quickly.

She used to sell these remedies all over the countryside, but of late years she doesnt come down to the towns like she used to. Her boy sells his pelts instead, so that is why the people said she had gold enough.

Im glad you told us this, Mr. Gilroy, said Mrs. Vernon, as I should like the scouts to learn from the aged woman how she gathers and prepares the tea and balms.

The riders dismounted and tied their horses to trees, then followed Mr. Gilroy across the grass to the cabin. The door stood open but not a sound was heard from within.

Just look at this construction! cried Julie. Shes used stones, logs and everything in the walls.

And the growing trees were used for corner-posts of the house, added Mrs. Vernon, examining the odd structure.

Mr. Gilroy rapped politely on the door, but no one replied. Again he rapped louder, and a shrill bark sounded from a distance back in the woods.

I guess shes out in her garden, said Mr. Gilroy.

I heard a funny grunt from the little shed at the back of this room, whispered Julie.

Lets go around the corner of the cabin and see if she is back there, suggested Mrs. Vernon.

So they followed Mr. Gilroy, and all had to laugh when they found the grunt came from a sow with a litter of little pigs. She was queen of the shed that leaned against the cabin, so the scouts watched her with interest for a time, then turned to follow after Mr. Gilroy and the Captain.

But the sow grunted excitedly when the little ones ran after the visitors. They thought there would be something to eat, and having never seen strangers before they knew no fear of them. The angry grunting of the old mother hog made the dog bark again from the woodland, and soon after a bent-over form could be seen coming from the woods.

A hound bounded before her, barking shrilly at the trespassers, until the old woman shouted: Be quiet, Bill!

Instantly the dog dropped behind his mistress, and Mr. Gilroy lifted his hat as he greeted the aged dame.

Mrs. Vernon went forward also, and said: We came to see you, Mrs. Dunstan; I heard your boy was an aviator in France, and I felt an interest in meeting and talking with you and him. My boy was one, too, but he was shot down.

This was an opportune introduction, as nothing melted the old ladys scorn and indifference to visitors like the interest one took in aviation.

Now, this be a real treat! Them folks at Freedom wont dare to come and see me since we went to war! declared the centenarian in a strong voice.

Granny Dunstan squinted keenly at the visitors to make sure they were truthful, and, finding they seemed earnest, she led the way to the cabin.

I rickon we better sit outside; the cabins too small to hold moren three of us, announced Granny, as she turned to address her visitors.

Her criss-crossed wrinkled face seemed to roll up with that grin, showing shrivelled toothless gums. Yet the aged face was attractive, with a subtle kind of wholesomeness seldom seen in old people. Mrs. Vernon said, later, that it must be the result of living alone with Nature and her children for so many years.

You said you had a boy what was aviator in France? questioned Granny, the moment the scouts had seated themselves.

Yes, and when I heard your boy had been over, I was anxious to meet you both, said Mrs. Vernon.

Wall, my boys got a cross from France, an now hes ben sent for to go to Washinton and meet some big folks whats here visitin from France. I tell you, Johns a right smart soljer!

The proud old dame wagged her head briskly as she gazed from one to the other of her hearers. Then she suddenly changed the conversation.

Yeh hed a long, long ride from Freedom, didnt yeh?

Mrs. Vernon explained that they were camping and had only traveled from the plateau that morning.

Oh, yees must be the gals John tole me about one day he said thar war some tramps loose on the hill and he wisht yuh knew it so yuh could keep a dog to warn em off. In fack, he wuz agoin to git yuh one, but he had to leave so quick-like.

Granny was very entertaining, and before the scouts left, she had shown them many of her preparations, witch-hazel being one of her remedies. She treated them to drinks of birch-beer, and gave them vials of winter-green flavoring, and peppermint oil, to be used in candy-making.

Id like to bring my girls up again, Granny, to have them learn more of your art of chemistry. The proof that you have found the secret of living long and well is evident in your strength and power to enjoy life as you do, said Mrs. Vernon, as they said good-by.

An Ill tell John about you havin a boy over thar, an hell be sure to come and see yuh, said the old lady.

Ill be so happy to become acquainted with him. Who knows, but he may have known my son and can tell me something of his life there. We have never been able to learn much, said Mrs. Vernon, pathetically.

Granny Dunstan placed a bony hand gently on her visitors arm and looked volumes with her bright little eyes. Then and there, age, position, and all earthly claims disappeared, and the scouts were given a wonderful sight in beholding a perfect spiritual communion between two entirely different humans.

On the ride back to camp, Mr. Gilroy said: Well, I wouldnt have missed that visit for anything.

If imitation is the sincerest flattery then we are flattering Granny Dunstan, for we are going there again to learn the things she knows, said Mrs. Vernon.

The scouts found that Mark had erected several bird-houses, and as they stood watching him line up his horses again, to lead them back to Freedom, they plied him with questions about Granny Dunstan.

Mark, does she keep all those pigs for meat in winter? asked Ruth.

No, she fattens em en sells em fer groceries en other needs. Her pork fetches moren enny other round th country.

How do you account for that, Mark? asked Mrs. Vernon.

Cuz it is such sweet and clean meat. Them pigs fatten up on acorns and nuts. And that makes the finest tastin flesh, yuh know.

After Mark left camp, the girls still talked of the old lady and her wonderful knowledge of woodcraft. Mr. Gilroy and Mrs. Vernon stood at a short distance, conversing in low tones. Finally they came over and joined the scouts.

Mr. Gilroy said: I want to thank you scouts for all you have done for me, not only in saving my life, but in entertaining me later.

Julie looked anxiously up at him and said, You sound just as if you were going to leave.

Mrs. Vernon and he laughed: To tell the truth, I am.

There I knew it! Its that old walnut bed! cried Ruth.

Oh, no, laughed Mr. Gilroy. It is because I must keep important appointments at home. You see, I merely got off at Junction when I heard of the Cave, and here Ive been ever since.

You had as good a time here, as elsewhere, havent you? demanded Julie.

Better than Ive had in years, but now I must go on. But I want to make a proposition to which your Captain agrees.

Next summer, as soon as school closes, I want you girls to visit my place in the Adirondacks. The reward of money you will receive will pay all expenses for fares and outfits, and I will try to be as fine a host as you were hostesses. Will you?

You said you were from New York? argued Joan.

So I am when I am at home. But I spend most of the year in my Adirondack camp. You see, I am an ardent Boy Scout admirer, and every summer I have a crowd of boys camp in the mountains with me. As I have several thousand acres there, we wont interfere with you girls. In fact, I have just been telling your Captain that I am going to write to Headquarters and offer my place to the Girl Scouts for any number of camps they may see fit to start. I can make it very comfortable for them, as my workmen have cut good roads through the woods and many trails are worn over the surrounding mountains. If youll agree to establish a flourishing Troop by next spring, I will agree to give you the time of your life.

When Mr. Gilroy finished, the scouts were too delighted to speak for a time. Then Julie sprang forward, and threw her arms about his waist. She hugged him so unexpectedly, but withal so tightly, that he gasped for breath. Every one laughed, as it expressed their sentiments exactly.

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN NEW MEMBERS

Well, our friend is off! Now what can we do? wailed Ruth, as the scouts sat disconsolately about the fire.

I wish we could camp in the Adirondacks this summer! We still have August, you know, said Joan.

Mr. Gilroy particularly mentioned next season, and besides, you have to become a registered Troop, before you can accept his invitation, hinted Mrs. Vernon.

I should think we ought to hurry up and begin, then, suggested Julie.

How can we? Those girls in Elmertown will all be away for their vacations, and how can we find them? grumbled Ruth.

Mr. Gilroy said he had given orders in Freedom that any time we wanted to take a trip about the country, we were to have the automobile he rented that day for the hunt. He said that this would be his present to you this summer because he would not be here personally to take you about, said Mrs. Vernon.

What did you say did you refuse or accept? asked Ruth.

At first I said I didnt think he ought to pay for the drives, but he silenced me with a look, and said: I have already paid for ten drives in advance so they must be used up.

Hurrah! Then we can go for one to-morrow, cant we? cried Joan.

I have been planning where to go if we take a drive to-morrow, answered Mrs. Vernon.

Why cant we go to Elmertown, first of all, and find out about the new members. I dont want to postpone that until it is too late to teach them anything. You see, we must get on in scoutdom, so we can visit Mr. Gilroys place next year, said Julie.

Thats what I wanted to suggest, Julie that we drive home and find out about new members, responded Mrs. Vernon.

So the grocers order-man was told that afternoon to have the chauffeur bring his car up to the crossing of the trail with the woodland road the next morning, where his passengers would be waiting for him.

The following day was fair, so the scouts hurried with the camp-work and then ran down the trail to wait for the car. They were soon on the road to Elmertown, enjoying the smooth running of the car over the fine road; after the rough mountain trails, and Hepsys uncertain going, it was a luxury.

Many stops were made in Elmertown, but of all the girls homes visited only five were available to join the scouts. Many were away on visits, and a few were not allowed to consider joining a camp where escaped convicts were caught behind the walls!

This last excuse caused such merriment from the scouts that severe mothers wondered what there could be to laugh at in dangers such as they ran while camping in the woods.

The five girls who were so eager to join the scouts, had the willing consent and co-operation from their mothers. So Mrs. Vernon felt it was much better to take girls whose parents appreciated the benefit of the scout work, rather than to have girls whose mothers were waiting to criticise or discourage their children in the undertaking.

When the five had been finally decided upon, the Captain notified them that the car would call for them that day week, and they were to be ready to return to camp.

It will take you a week to prepare, girls, for you must write to New York and secure a handbook for each, and not only read it, but study the first rules in the book. We have been doing that since we went to camp, so now you will have to catch up, said Mrs. Vernon.

And rest assured we will give you some awful initiation tests before you become full-fledged members! threatened Julie.

The scouts and the would-bes laughed at this, for they knew the tests would be funny ones that would amuse every one.

Only pack sensible things, girls. Middy blouses, a pair of khaki bloomers and a pair of blue serge ones. Youll need a serge dress, too, and a heavy sweater. If you have a light-weight sweater, also, so much the better, advised Mrs. Vernon.

The elated scouts-to-be eagerly promised everything, and then watched the car drive away. But they felt no envy or regret for they would be traveling the same road a week hence.

Verny, maybe we ought to be glad weve got all the extra furniture now, ventured Betty, as they climbed the familiar trail and passed by the Royal Suite.

Thats so, Verny. We can let the new members furnish their hut with the stuff, said Joan.

Only they havent any hut, Ruth added.





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