Girl Scouts at Dandelion Camp
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The locality was carefully described, and the girls noted it for future investigation. There was so much laughing and talking after this that many of the young people forgot what they had for dinner. However, Eliza had provided enough for all, and the scouts were relieved of any responsibility thereby.
“We’re not going to spend the afternoon,” May said to the scouts after dinner, “we just thought to surprise you and have dinner, then start for home again.”
Mrs. Allison added, as May finished speaking, “Yes, and we mothers felt sure you would be homesick after one week of camping. But I think we were the only ones feeling lonely. You seem to have had plenty to do to keep you from wanting to come back.”
“Don’t worry about our feeling forlorn or homesick, mother. If we can break away from here when September comes, we’ll be satisfied,” replied Joan.
Then Mr. Lee stood up on a stump and shouted: “Folks, it’s about time to start back to the conventional ways of living. But before we go we ought to thank our hostesses for this good time. I only wish I was a girl scout with a summer in camp before me!”
Every one clapped and, at a signal, gave three cheers for the Captain and her scouts. Then dishes were collected in the big basket, kettles stacked up in the hamper, and the visitors started down the road.
Eliza drew Mrs. Vernon aside and whispered: “You’ll find a lot of stuff I brought for cookin’ this week. We got a peck of onions from a farmer, so I measured out half for youse. I found I could spare a large measure of pertaters, too, and you’ll find them with th’ onions.
“I made a cake fer Sunday’s supper fer you-all, and the jar of cookies I promised every week. Seein’ as how there ain’t no way fer a butcher to reach you, I packed up the roast lamb left from yesterday, and a slice of steak ready to be fried.”
“Oh, Eliza! what a wonderful fairy you are! Now we will have enough meat and bones to last a week. I won’t waste a morsel!” Mrs. Vernon promised.
The scouts had accompanied their visitors down the road, so Mrs. Vernon now walked with Eliza, a short distance behind the crowd. As they went, the maid laughingly explained:
“That was why I insisted on servin’ the dinner. Mis’ Bentley and Mis’ Allison wanted to help, but I knew they wouldn’t be careful of left-overs like I would. And glad I am I did!
“Why do you know, Mis’ Vernon, there’s enough salad dressin’ left in a bowl in the store-room hut to last a week. An’ soup, too, fer supper to-night fer all of you. Sandwitches – my! you kin eat sandwitches for three days’ runnin’. Every speck of good cake what wasn’t teched, I put carefully in the tin cracker-box, and many a snack the girls kin have between meals by that cake.”
“Eliza, I will tell the girls all you just told me, and I know they will be delighted. I will thank you now, for them, as they will be busy saying good-by to every one after we join them.”
“That’s all right, Mis’ Vernon.Don’t bother about thanks, ’cause it is my bis’ness to look after them girls’ meals, anyway.”
But Mrs. Vernon thought how few maids of the present day thought as Eliza did. Would it not be to their own interests to consider their “business” a little more and thus win the gratitude and appreciation of the family?
The visitors had come out in large jitneys hired for the afternoon, and when every one was crowded in and the two heavy autos were about to start, Mrs. Vernon exclaimed:
“The next time you visit us, it will be at our invitation and expense. We will cook the dinner for the next picnic!”
And Julie shouted in addition to the invitation: “Yes, but we’ll only invite you in installments – not such a crowd at one time.”
CHAPTER NINE – THE CABINET MAKERS
When the last cloud of dust told the scout girls that their friends had disappeared down the road, they turned to the Captain. Julie evidently had an idea she wished to express.
“Now that we have time, let’s find that strawberry field and gather some for supper. It is allowable on Sunday, isn’t it?”
“If it’s for use and not for pleasure, it is right,” said the Captain.
“Well, one can’t exactly say it is for use, as one can do without berries; but they will taste mighty good with ’Liza’s cake, you know,” laughed Joan.
“And we can honestly say they are not for pleasure,” added Betty.
“They are for gustatory pleasures,” teased Mrs. Vernon.
“Girls! Seeing our Captain is so particular, suppose we exempt her from any obligation she fears we might incur by picking berries on Sunday. I say, we will gather the fruit on our own responsibility but she shall not eat of that forbidden fruit, either,” declared Julie, but at this point she was interrupted by Mrs. Vernon.
“Oh, no, indeed! As your guardian and Captain, I cannot have you eat berries on Sunday unless I, too, participate!”
With this form of banter they passed the time until the clearing in the woods was found where the berries grew in thick profusion.
“Oh, my! what a lot of them!” exclaimed the girls, as they jumped the deep ditch and fell to picking the luscious fruit.
“U-mm! Verny, you never tasted anything so delicious!” called Julie to the Captain who was seeking a safe spot to cross to the berry-patch.
After a silent time during which every one seemed hard at work, Mrs. Vernon stood up and called out: “How many quarts have you ready for supper, girls?”
Julie also stood up and laughed: “I am not sure how many quarts I can hold, but there is still room for some more.”
“We haven’t any other holder to put the fruit in – that’s why I am eating mine,” said Ruth, in self-defense.
“You’ll not be able to say that in another few minutes. Now begin to pick and save the berries until I come again,” said the Captain, going over to a clump of white birches.
“I know what: she’s going to strip some bark and make cornucopias for us to use,” explained Joan, as she saw Mrs. Vernon tear strips from the trees.
And that is just what she did. Each girl was given a deep cornucopia and soon the holders were full of berries. As each one had eaten plentifully of the fruit, as well, they were ready to start up the road again.
“Girls, we can gather berries to eat every day and still have plenty to can,” said the Captain, as they neared the camp.
“To can! how could we can any out here in the woods?”
“I’ll show you. To-morrow when the man comes from Freedom for our Tuesday order, I will tell him to bring us a box of fruit jars. Then we will experiment on the berries. Wild fruit always is much sweeter than the cultivated kind.”
“I’ve been wondering what we can give our visitors for a dinner, should we try to cook for them without asking for supplies from home?” ventured Betty, who had been rather silent during the walk to camp.
“I believe we can find enough good things right in the woods to give them, without falling back upon any store-food at all,” replied Mrs. Vernon.
The girls looked amazed, and Ruth said laughingly: “Then they’ll have to eat grass!”
“You wait and see! When I explain my menu you will be gratified, I think,” said the Captain.
It was found that Eliza had left enough soup in a pan so that, with heating, it was sufficient for supper. That, with the cake and berries, quite satisfied the girls. Then seated about the embers of the night-fire, they planned for work on the morrow.
Monday morning, as soon as the usual work was finished, the campers began to mix the clay cement for the walls. Filling up the crevices kept them busy till noon, and then they were eager to get through with the dinner and start on something new.
“Now that your new abode is finished, I wonder how you would like to fill it with furniture,” suggested Mrs. Vernon.
“Furniture! We haven’t any here, and I doubt if our folks can spare anything they might have,” Joan replied.
“I meant for you to make it,” responded the Captain.
“Make it – what of, boxes like those in the magazine?” said Julie, laughingly.
“You almost guessed my plan! If you come with me, girls, I’ll show you what I mean.”
Amazed but curious, the scouts followed Mrs. Vernon to the place where various boxes and barrels still waited to be used. These were examined and sorted by the Captain, then each girl was given one to carry up to the plateau beside the camp-ground.
“Seems to me I remember reading about that Box Furniture, once,” said Joan, dropping her burden upon the ground.
“We’ll see if we can remember well enough to apply it now,” replied the Captain. “First I’ll take this barrel. I’ll saw it halfway through the center, like this.”
Mrs. Vernon then sawed and sawed until half the staves, where she had carefully drawn a pencil-line about the center of them, fell from one side and left the other halves attached to one head end.
“See it now!” exclaimed she, standing the barrel on end. “That half where the staves are left will be the curved back of my easy-chair.”
The barrel-head which she had removed carefully from the end, that now was the top back of the chair, was secured upon the sawed staves to the center of the barrel and fastened to the back to make a seat. Then the remaining hoops were fastened securely to hold the bottom from spreading.
“Now girls, if we had material to cushion it and pad the back, don’t you think it would be comfortable?” said Mrs. Vernon.
The girls laughed appreciatively, and declared it was fine! Then Julie had an inspiration.
“Verny, I’ve got just the upholstery goods for the cushions!”
The captain smiled for she wondered if this scout had thought of the same material she had planned to use later.
“What is it?” demanded the other girls.
“We’ll take the burlap bag that came with Hepsy’s oats, die it with some vegetable or wood dye, and stuff it with excelsior that came packed about the pans.”
“Oh, Julie! How did you ever think of it?” cried Betty, admiringly.
“Just what I would have said, had you not found it out first!” declared Mrs. Vernon.
“But I don’t know where to find any dyes,” admitted the scout.
“I’ll tell you of some later. Now I wonder if you girls want to use the large barrel and copy my chair. Yours will be larger, however, as my chair was only a half-barrel size, you know.”
Being only too anxious to copy Verny’s chair, the four girls began work with a will. They took turns in sawing through the staves, even as they had been advised to do in building the hut, and this spared their muscles feeling lame or tired from the movement of the arm while sawing the hard wood.
“I’ll leave you now to finish the chair, while I hunt along the mountain trail to find certain dye materials,” said the Captain, as the work on the chair progressed finely.
But the barrel-chair was finished before Mrs. Vernon returned. “I couldn’t find a thing that would do. I hunted most thoroughly, too. You see, it is too early for walnuts – if they were ripe we could stain the wood and burlaps a fine brown. Then I looked for different wild plants that will dye things, but there were none.”
“Verny, Eliza colors our Easter eggs with onion peel. I see you have a lot of onions in the store-room, but I am not sure they will color burlap,” said Betty.
“Just the thing, Betty! How wonderful of you to remember it. We will boil the skins until the water is a deep brown-orange and then we will try it on the burlap.”
The onions had to be peeled, and this was not a pleasant task, as eyes began to weep and the girls had to sniffle as they skinned the onions, but they were determined to finish their upholstery work as long as they had started it.
The onion peels were placed over a fire to simmer slowly and the girls then went to work on the excelsior filling for the cushions. Meantime, Mrs. Vernon cut the burlap the required sizes to fit the seats of the chairs, and also cut oval panels for the backs.
Well, the onion peel dyed the material a soft ochre color, and was tried on the barrel-wood too. But it failed to stain that. The cushions were tacked down with small tacks, and the chairs looked most inviting to the manufacturers.
Each scout took a turn in trying the chairs, and each pronounced them most luxurious, but Mrs. Vernon withheld such high praise as “luxury,” saying instead “They’re hard as rocks!”
“Now what can we build?” asked Ruth, showing intense interest in this form of occupation.
Mrs. Vernon laughed. “Do you want to begin something else?”
“Might as well, Verny. The hut has to be furnished now, as long as you have launched us along that line,” Julie replied, laughingly.
“A table is easy to build, but you have to cut down the material for the legs.”
“Where do table-legs grow – we’ll cut them down,” returned Joan, comically.
“Wherever you find small birch-trees growing thickly together, you can cut one out. Never chop down a tree that stands alone, as it will mean shelter and shade in time to come. But a small tree can always be spared, if there are several growing in a group. The others will fare better for the thinning out.”
“How many shall we cut?” now asked Betty.
“Bring four, each one about two inches in diameter. We will use the thickest end of each trunk for legs, the middle sections for chair-backs, and the smallest ends for arms.”
Provided with the ax, hatchet, and woodsman knife, the scouts started on their quest. After they had gone, Mrs. Vernon detached one side of a packing-case and removed any nails left in the wood. As this section of the case had reinforced pieces along the outer edges, it would be a strong table-top.
The rest of the day was used in building the table, and a queer looking object was the result. It was a cross between a stool and a four-legged pedestal. It was rather wobbly, too, as Ruth had sawed one leg shorter than those made by her three scout companions.
“It might tip over, Ruth, if a visitor leans upon it,” said Mrs. Vernon.
“We’ll keep a stone under that leg. It won’t joggle if it’s boosted up,” explained Ruth.
“But the stone may slip out, or should one wish to move the table about, the stone will have to be carried about too.”
“Goodness me, Verny! What can I do? I can’t stretch it!” cried Ruth, distractedly.
Every one laughed, but the Captain said: “No, it won’t stretch, but can’t one of you scouts suggest a remedy?”
When they realized that they all were called upon to share the responsibility of the tilting table, they puckered their foreheads and put on their thinking-caps.
“I know! We’ll tack a little end of the wood to the bottom of the leg,” called Joan, excitedly.
Ruth cast a scornful look at Joan, as much as to say: “I’d like to see any one sticking a block under that leg!”
“Verny, we might take the leg off and saw a new one,” suggested Betty.
“We could, and I suppose that would be the only correct way to do it, but I am thinking of another and easier way,” replied the Captain.
“Oh! I guess I know! How will it do to saw all three legs off so they will be the same length as Ruth’s short one?” exclaimed Julie, slapping her knee.
Mrs. Vernon smiled for that was what she wanted the scouts to discover. At the same time, she was deeply interested in the fact that Julie always seemed to catch her thoughts and express them exactly as she might have done. This showed her that Julie was very mental, and was open to every good and helpful suggestion from thought-waves.
That evening the Captain said: “It feels as if we might have rain soon. I hope it doesn’t come before Wednesday, as I am conscious of neglecting an important work.”
“What is it?” cried four anxious voices.
“Hepsy’s shed. You see we were going to build her stable as soon as we completed the house, but we began our furniture instead. Hepsy had enjoyed the fresh air and fine pasturage on the plateau this last week, but she dislikes the rain.”
“Oh, dear! I forgot all about her shed,” cried Betty.
“So did we. If she only had complained now and then! But she went about her business so quietly!” sighed Joan.
“Verny, if it rains we must invite Hepsy into our hut! If we neglected to build her shed because of our fine furniture, then she must be admitted to the palace itself!” said Ruth, decidedly.
“That’s what we will, Verny! Hepsy won’t hurt the hut.”
And the Captain secretly exulted to find that Ruth was fast forgetting self in feeling responsibility for others – even a horse; while the other scouts thought nothing of their work unless it was put to some good use.
But it did not rain that night, nor in the morning, although the sky was gray and overcast. Hepsy had a shed all built before the first drops fell late that afternoon; there were several liberal ventilation crevices between the logs of the sidewalls, however.
The floor of the shed had been laid ? la corduroy style – as so many boggy roads are built upon in the west. The logs in this case were placed side by side in a bed of clay, and when the girls pressed down firmly upon the flooring, the clay oozed up between the joints and hardened there. In a few days the floor would be as solid as a rock and could be washed off with broom and water.
Hepsy had more than enough dry leaves for a bedding that first night, as the scouts thought she might take cold if she slept on the damp floor. Mrs. Vernon smiled, but said nothing as she knew the heap of leaves would keep Hepsy from cutting the soft clay with her hoofs. When the flooring was hard and dry nothing could hurt it.
Supper that night was rather a gloomy affair as everything was wet, and the fire would not burn. So they gathered in the hut and ate cold food. This started a discussion on fireplaces.
“You said maybe there was a chance of building a chimney,” ventured Joan.
“Yes, but we have been doing so much, I forgot about it,” confessed the Captain.
“A fireplace would feel great on a night like this,” said Julie.
“Verny, if clay will harden in chinks of the walls, and make a solid flooring, why won’t it hold stones together in a chimney?” now asked Ruth, eagerly.
“It will, if we can find stones that will fit properly. I wouldn’t attempt to do the mason work with round cobble-stones such as are used in most chimneys in bungalow houses.”
“Did you mean it when you said a chimney might be built if we leaned it against the rocky wall back of the rear wall of the hut?” asked Joan.
“No, I was only fooling when I spoke of leaning it – because a chimney has to be most accurately constructed or it will smoke one out of the place.”
“Let’s build the chimney to-morrow!” begged Ruth, eagerly.
“Oh, my dears! We haven’t done anything but build – build – build since we’ve been here. There are so many other things I want you to do that a chimney can wait.”
“If we agree to do what other things you want us to, why can’t we use the forty-five minutes of recreation that is ours each day to build the chimney?” persisted Ruth.
Mrs. Vernon laughed. But the eager faces of the girls showed her they were in earnest. Besides, what difference did it make in the end whether she was teaching them to build a stone chimney or how to mend a pair of stockings? If it was true work and done with the right motive back of it, it was progressive.
So she finally said: “All right, you may have two hours a day for chimney work, and the rest we will devote to my pursuits.”
“Hurrah! we ought to finish the chimney in three days!” exclaimed Julie.
Thus the second week passed quickly away. The little stone chimney was finished and presented a very artistic addition to the room. But it became so much smaller as it rose higher, that at the top it was only large enough for a tiny opening for the escape of smoke. Unfortunately, this caused the fireplace to smoke dreadfully when a fire was started, but once the bed of embers was well started, an additional bit of wood judiciously used did not cause every one to choke and run from the room.
In one of the hikes, the scouts had found a wild grapevine, but it had been severed from the root, and hung from the tree-trunk without leaves or fruit. It was more than an inch thick, so Mrs. Vernon had the girls carefully cut it down and carry it back to camp.
“The graceful curves of this twisted vine will make the prettiest chair imaginable, with back, arms and legs entwined, and holding up the seat of boards. Smaller bits of the gnarled vine will make flower-brackets, rustic hanging-baskets, and also a cord by which to suspend the signboard of Dandelion Camp,” remarked the Captain.
“If we only had a Turkish rug for the floor, our hut would look wonderful!” sighed Joan, admiring the latest additions.
“Why cry for the moon when you can have the sun?” laughed Mrs. Vernon.
“What do you mean? Did you bring a rug?” asked Joan, quickly.
“Oh, we forgot that crex mat, didn’t we? Do you suppose it is still down in the bushes?” asked Betty, anxiously.
“I quite forgot it myself, girls. But that was not what I meant just now. The moment Joan mentioned a rug, I thought of something I read about in the Handbook. We ought to weave a mat of grass or willows for that palace.”
“If we only could! It would be so in keeping,” said Betty, softly, that her voice would not interrupt the others who were loudly acclaiming this idea from the Captain.
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