Girl Scouts at Dandelion Camp
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“I say! I’ll never find fault with your digging again, Betsy,” said Julie meekly, as she displayed about eighteen inches square of dug-out cellar, and a row of water-blisters on her hand.
Betty laughed at her sister, but the work continued until the cellar was dug deep enough and a mass of timbers was waiting to be used. As they stood admiring their morning’s work, Betty said:
“I think Hepsy is the best scout of all.”
“Why?” asked the other girls.
“Just see how she worked! She hauled and hauled, and never asked to exchange for an easier job. And all the time she worked she never complained once of an aching back or tired muscles. Yet I am sure she wanted to kick mightily now and then.”
A roar of laughter greeted her last words, and Betty guilelessly asked: “Now what have I said – what is the matter with you girls?”
The call to dinner quickly changed the current of their thoughts, however, and once seated about the stone table, they fell to with a will never manifested for plain cookery at home.
“We ought to be able to lay the floor logs and get the corner posts up this afternoon,” suggested Joan.
“I was going to propose a hike downhill in the opposite direction from the one we took yesterday,” said the Captain. “Then, when we return, a good swim will refresh us all for supper.”
“Oh, yes, we’ve worked enough for one day,” said Ruth.
When the scouts were ready to start for the hike, Mrs. Vernon showed them a note-book. “I’m going to have you take down notes on the flowers, trees, or birds we find on these hikes. This will prove very desirable practice when you are admitted as a Troop.”
They started off, while Hepsy stood leisurely nosing at her dinner of oats. This reminded Julie of the funny saying by Betty just before dinner, and she now repeated it to the Captain.
“I meant, you know, Verny, that Hepsy must have had stiff joints from all that hauling yet she never kicked once to straighten out the kinks,” explained Betty, when Julie finished.
“I doubt whether Hepsy felt as tired as you think she did. You must remember that her spine is almost parallel with the ground over which she has to pull her loads, and having four legs on which to balance herself, makes it easier than only having two. The chain and tackle also simplified the work for Hepsy, but we can’t say as much of the hauling an Indian Squaw has to do.
“Why, the poor squaws do all the lifting and moving of their camps, through forests, over rough land, and even carrying their papooses in the bargain. They, too, drag their burdens in a sort of ‘cradle’ that is hitched to their waists by means of two leather traces.”
“Oh, the poor creatures!” exclaimed ever-ready, sympathetic Betty.
“I’m thankful I’m not an Indian female!” declared Julie, with such earnestness that the others laughed.
After the usual scout reading from the Handbook the next morning, the girls hurried to work because they were anxious to see their hut built and finished.The ardor of accomplishment was beginning to fill their souls.
That day the cross-beams of the floor were laid and securely fastened at the corners. Then the other logs were sawed and notched for the corner-posts. It was impossible to split the timber for rafters, so the Captain advised the use of smaller tree-trunks for this purpose.
“What shall we do to keep out the rain or wild animals?” asked Ruth, seeing that no windows had been provided for the old hut.
“We can hang up water-proof canvas in the windows if it rains, but I have an idea for a door that I want to work on to-morrow,” replied the Captain.
The carpentry now went steadily on, and without friction, as each one was anxious to see a finished hut. They were tremendously interested in their work, too, and that always makes a task easy.
Mrs. Vernon superintended everything, and demonstrated a wonderful knowledge of woodcraft. Then, whenever the carpenters were cheerfully working without her help, she turned to her own plans. These had occasioned curious comment from the four girls, because they could not see what could be built with a lot of short boards which had been taken from the boxes.
“You’ll see when I’m through,” replied the Captain to all their questions.
The scouts worked so industriously that the new side walls were completed, and they were eager to begin work on the roof. The hut was much longer than the old one, but its width was the same, as it used the end wall of the old hut for one side of its own.
The meeting of the two front walls of the huts, however, had been a problem. The scouts could not figure out how to nail any boards or logs to a corner post already used for that purpose. But Julie thought out a scheme.
“We’ll leave that meeting place in front, for the door. Then we’ll use a post for the other side of our door, and begin there with the wall.”
This was hailed as a fine idea, so they tried it. But the door-lintel was not as secure as it might be, and the girls dodged in and out to avoid having it come down upon their heads should it topple. They had no doubt but that it would fall in sooner or later.
“We’re all ready for a roof, Verny, and don’t know where to find any wood for rafters or ridgepole,” said Joan, when the Captain walked over to pass judgment upon the structure.
“That’s a dangerous looking lintel, girls.”
“Best we could do with what we had,” replied Ruth.
“The material is all right, but the construction is careless. Now I have finished my door, but I wouldn’t dare swing it from that frame,” continued the Captain.
“Oh, were you building a door of those boards?” asked the girls.
“Yes, and I feel quite proud of it, too. Come and see it.”
The door was made of boards all the same lengths and thickness but of different widths. So Mrs. Vernon had grouped them to have all the wide boards at top and bottom of the door, and the others graduating in widths until a narrow center one was reached. This made a pretty effect.
They were all securely fastened to a frame made of rough planks, but this frame would be on the inside so it would not be seen. “We can hang a drapery, or some vines on this back to hide the unsightly frame,” said the Captain.
Heavy leather hinges were secured to the back edge of the door, and a latch and handle made of some sheet iron, were bent and cut to fit.
“How did you ever do that without a blacksmith?” asked Joan.
“I played my own blacksmith while you were on your hike this morning. I heated an old piece of wagon-tire and hammered it flat, then heated it red-hot and cut it with tools I found in the box.”
“All right, Verny! You shall take the prize this time,” Julie commended heartily.
“But that doesn’t give us a roof or rafters,” said Ruth.
“I have them all ready for you. I remembered them to-day when I inspected your work,” said Mrs. Vernon, leading the way down to the buckboard.
“Help me lift the seats off,” ordered the Captain.
This was done, and the curious girls then saw Mrs. Vernon pry out some small wooden wedges and lo! a board came from the floor of the buckboard. But stay! It was not from the floor, but one of the extra boards that had been laid down to form a double flooring.
Several boards were thus removed, and then it was found that the original floor of the buckboard was as good as ever.
“Why did you have another floor laid?” asked Julie.
“Jim suggested that we might need a few boards for see-saws, or some other fun, so he fitted these down over the real bottom of the buckboard. I forgot about them until I found your need of just such boards for your roof.”
“They’re not very thick or heavy,” said Joan, doubtfully.
“You don’t want them heavy for a roof. The lighter the better, as long as they are steady and secure.”
The boards were carried up to the new hut, and found to be several inches too long for the roof.
“That’s an error on the right side, if there can be such a ‘bull,’” said Mrs. Vernon. “For now you can have overhanging eaves instead of having the roof come flush with the sides.”
“We haven’t half enough of these boards for a roof, if we propose covering it with tar-paper as we did the old hut,” said Julie.
“We only need enough to form bases for us to nail the laths to. You will find a large bundle of laths in the material Jim sent out by the Freedom delivery-wagon. The laths are easy to nail down and then the paper goes over that, you know.”
So the roof was finally completed, but it was not as neat and exact as the work on the old roof, so Mrs. Vernon wondered! The week had gone by and the next day would be Sunday, but the scouts grumbled at the forced vacation.
“Dear me! I was sure we would be through building and ready to play by this time,” complained Joan.
“I think you have accomplished wonders this week. I thought it would take us two weeks, at least, to build this new hut,” said Mrs. Vernon.
“If we hadn’t had such glorious weather perhaps it might have taken us that long,” said Betty. “But the wood was all dry, and we had no delays in any way.”
“I think the door is the best-looking thing about the whole place,” said Julie, with head on one side, admiring the craftsman’s work.
“That commendation makes me yearn to try other ideas,” laughed the Captain.
“Maybe you are thinking of building a cobblestone chimney in our house,” laughed Julie.
“Why didn’t we think of it in time! We could have had one as easy as anything!” exclaimed Mrs. Vernon.
“Are you joking?” asked the girls.
“No, but now we must see where we could have it. I am afraid we will have to lean it up in the corner against the stone-wall at the back of the hut.”
The girls laughed at this, for now they were sure Mrs. Vernon was only fooling them.
CHAPTER EIGHT – SUNDAY VISITORS
Sunday morning was so fine that the scouts declared it was too bad they couldn’t finish the hut, as they felt so full of energy. Mrs. Vernon laughed, and said: “Bottle it up for Monday.”
“But there isn’t anything we can do on a day like this,” said Ruth, plaintively.
“Oh, yes, there is. Girl scouts can hike, visit, or do any of the recreations suitable for Sunday. It does not say that we must sit down and pull long faces,” replied Joan.
“Well, what would you do, Verny?” Ruth asked of the Captain.
“First of all I would eat my breakfast and hasten to clear away all signs of it from camp.”
“Second the motion!” laughed Julie.
“Oh, pshaw! Of course we will do that, but you know what I mean – after breakfast,” Ruth retorted.
“If we want something quiet to do, we might sketch that signboard on a sheet of paper. I brought heavy paper and pencils. But should we want to go for a long walk, we can do the designing any time. Then there is our Scout Handbook to read – I really want you to become familiar with the rules and customs of the scouts,” said the Captain, seriously.
“Suppose we have you read first of all, then go for a walk, and then if we are tired we can sit down and plan that sign,” suggested Julie.
So immediately after the breakfast things were cleared away, the group sat down beside the waterfall and Mrs. Vernon read.
“On page 9 of the Handbook you will find this important information – it follows directly after the tenth law of Girl Scouts:
“‘A Great Law of Life.’
“‘One of the most fundamental laws of life is that, in the natural course of things, the influence of women over men is vastly greater than that of men over one another.
“‘This is what gives to girls and women a peculiar power and responsibility, for no Girl Scout or other honorable woman – whether young or old – could use her influence as a woman excepting to strengthen the characters and to support the honor of the men and boys with whom she comes in contact.
“‘This great law is nothing to make a girl feel proud or superior to men; but, on the contrary, the understanding of it should make her humble and watchful to be faithful to her trust.
“‘Be prepared, therefore, to do a true woman’s full duty to her men by never allowing the desire for admiration to rule your actions, words, or thoughts. Our country needs women who are prepared.
“‘Prepared for what?
“‘To do their duty.’”
Mrs. Vernon paused here and looked at the girls. “I did not read the full text on that article, because I want you each to buy a Handbook and study it yourself. I find there are so many fine thoughts expressed in this book that I doubt whether it is wise of me to read them aloud to you while your minds are filled with the novelty of camp-life. It may not have the lasting impression it should.”
“What comes next, Verny – anything about what scouts do on Sunday?” inquired Joan.
The Captain smiled as it was evident that the girls were more concerned in doing what they were told scouts might do on Sundays, than they were in hearing about the ideals and aspirations of the scout order.
“I now have to turn back to page four, where it says: ‘It is not meant that Girl Scouts should play or work on Sunday, but that they may take walks where they can carry on a study of plants and animals.’ This is all it says regarding Sunday occupation. So I suppose the organizers deemed it wisest to leave it to the discretion of the Captains and scouts in each individual group,” commented Mrs. Vernon.
“If that is all the book declares we have to do, then we are at liberty to obey the rule and yet have lots of ways of passing the day,” said Joan.
“I should say that reading rules and lessons from the Handbook was considered work,” hinted Ruth.
“Then we won’t have any more of that kind of work,” laughed the Captain, closing the book emphatically.
“Good gracious, Ruth! Reading isn’t work – particularly if the reading matter is wholesome as Girl Scout lessons must be. I should as soon say that listening to the preacher at church is not considered Sunday business, just because he lectures on certain interesting subjects connected with the Scriptures,” argued Julie.
“Oh, really, you make a ‘mountain out of a mole-hill,’ Julie, every time I open my mouth,” retorted Ruth, impatiently.
But the Captain interrupted this conversation before it gathered any added criticism, by saying: “I want to make a note for a bit of work to be attended to first thing in the morning, and then we will start for a nice walk.
“I find there are a great many wide crevices between the logs of the hut, where rain and insects can enter; especially is this so at the back wall where the timbers rest against the rocky side of the cliff.
“To obviate this discrepancy in building with uneven logs, we can fill in the chinks with clay. When that hardens it will act like a solid cement between the logs.
“I prowled about yesterday and found a place down on the bank of the stream, where the clay was of the kind we need to use. We will bring some of it up to camp to-morrow, and after mixing it with water and sand, fill in the cracks in the walls. As it is now, should there be a heavy rain that would wash the water down over the cliff, the floods will pour in through the chinks of the log wall that is built against the rocks and run over the floor of your house.”
“We’ll attend to that first thing, as you say, Verny; but let’s hurry up, now, and get started for our walk,” Joan said.
After they had been walking for an hour or more, trying to name the various birds they saw, or tell about the peculiarities of woodland plants they found, Mrs. Vernon thought they had better start back for camp.
“It is only half an hour to our usual dinner-hour, and it will take us that long to reach camp. Before we have our Sunday dinner cooked it will be an hour later than our usual time on week-days.”
“At least we will be fashionable, then,” laughed Julie. “Every one has dinner an hour later on Sundays – that’s why the men always complain.”
“It isn’t because of style, Julie, but you know the men-folks never will get up on Sunday mornings, and that sets back all the work. ’Liza says she’s going to strike altogether about cooking Sunday dinners unless every one will get up just as they do on week-days,” explained Betty, conscientiously.
Her long harangue was greeted with appreciative laughter, but Betty looked from one to the other questioningly. Julie ran over and gave her a hug, and cried: “Her was a dear little lamb, so her was!“
They were quite near camp when Joan happened to remember that she had forgotten to place the water-cress in the pan of water to keep it fresh.
“Too late to cry over it now,” said Julie. “It will be so wilted that we’ll have to throw it away.”
“That leaves us without a salad as we had expected,” Ruth complained.
“Why didn’t you put it in water, then! You manage to find fault with everything that goes wrong, but I notice that you seldom do anything yourself!” snapped Joan.
“Girls! I hear people talking – the sound comes from our camp-grounds!” exclaimed Mrs. Vernon, stopping to hold up a hand for silence.
Every one stopped short and listened. Sure enough – there was a mingling of many voices.
“Some one from Freedom using our camp?” wondered Ruth.
“More likely a regiment of visitors!” said Joan.
“That’s just about it! All our families and relatives unto the third and fourth generation thereof,” laughed Julie.
“Perhaps they came for dinner!” gasped Mrs. Vernon, her sense of hospitality having a chill when she thought of the dinner for five only.
“If they didn’t bring their own dinners, they’ll have to sit and watch us eat ours,” declared Ruth.
The hikers hastened to reach camp after this, and the first glance caused them to catch hold of each other for support. There, in possession of their sacred precincts, was such a crowd of family and friends that it seemed there could be little room for the real owners.
“Did you ever! I think they might, at least, have asked if they would be welcome!” cried Ruth, with annoyance.
“They must have missed us a lot,” laughed Julie.
The visitors now spied the scouts, and John gave a shout. “Hello! Did we surprise you? This was my idea, girls!”
“I thought so! It’s just like you,” retorted Julie.
But every one was glad to see every one else, even if the surprise party was a genuine one for the campers. Hand-shakings and family embraces took at least ten minutes before hosts and guests began to think of other things.
“Had you only sent word, we might have prepared dinner,” began Mrs. Vernon in apology.
“Oh, we took care of all that,” laughed Eliza, who was in charge of the camp-fire, with John, and Joan’s brothers, to help.
This attracted the Captain’s eyes to her stove. There, on the stone-oven stood several large kettles, and others hung on the pole over the fire.
The sight was such a relief that Mrs. Vernon’s knees weakened and she sat down on the table-rock to collect herself. The visitors all laughed at her expression, and the girl scouts brightened suddenly.
“Well, you certainly showed some sense!” exclaimed Joan.
Every one laughed again. And Betty said in excuse: “You see we ran low for dinners this week ’cause we used so much time in building our house. Did you see it?”
A loud chorus of approval and admiration came from the relatives who felt a great pride in the achievements of their girls. But the mothers looked anxiously at the daughters when they heard Betty speak of scarcity in the larder. Still the girl scouts showed no symptoms of starvation. They looked fine and must have added a pound each to their weight.
“I rather thought such would be the case, with your camp so far from a store, so we brought a stock of food for this week,” said Mrs. Bentley.
“Now that is great, mother, because we can take that much more time in building a stable for Hepsy,” cried Ruth, with real gratitude shining in her eyes.
“Hepsy! Have you got that old nag here?” laughed John.
“What did you bring her for?” wondered May.
“To do the chores in camp,” retorted Julie, laughingly.
“What would we have done without her?” sighed Joan, as she remembered the hauling of the logs.
Then the girls explained how they constructed the hut and what part Hepsy played in the work. They enlarged on the picnics and drives they were going to have, with Hepsy to furnish the motive power.
The boys listened to the first part of the talk, but not being one of the party that expected to have the fine outings, they lost interest and ran off to see if dinner was ready.
John came racing back, crying aloud so all could hear: “’Liza says you’re all to sit down on the grass and hold your plates while’s she passes the soup-kettle and serves you!”
“Where are the dishes?” asked the girls of Mrs. Vernon, as John spoke.
“They must have brought them. I see May and your father over there, carrying a wash-basket,” whispered Mrs. Vernon.
So it was. And as each visitor was handed a soup-plate, the advice was given out at the same time: “You’ve got to use the same plate and spoon for every other course, so don’t look for clean dishes hereafter.”
The boys helped Eliza serve the soup, and when all were engaged in eating, one of the visitors remarked: “We saw quantities of wild strawberries down by the mountain-road as we walked by.”
“Whereabouts? We’ll pick them to-morrow for dinner,” said Joan, eagerly.
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