Nell Speed.

The Carter Girls' Week-End Camp





You are frightfully burned, Douglas, complained Mrs. Carter as they finally got themselves stowed away in the faithful mountain goat. I cant see why you do not protect your skin. Your neck will take months to recover from such a tanning.

Well, I dont think that will make much difference, laughed Douglas. I fancy it will be many a day before I go d?collet?.

I dont see that. If you are not going to college, I see no reason why you should not make your debut next winter.

Douglas looked at her mother in amazement. Could it be that even now she did not understand? She said nothing, feeling that it would be wiser to wait until she and her mother were alone. Never having economized in her life, Mrs. Carter did not know the meaning of the word. The many parcels that were borne from the train gave Douglas a faint feeling. Had her mother been buying things in New York?

I brought you a perfect love of a hat, darling, Mrs. Carter chattered on, but of course you shall have to bleach up a bit for it to be becoming to you. I did not dream you were so burned or I should not have selected such pale trimmings. I have a delightful plan! Since you are to come out next winter, I think a fortnight at the White in late August would be charming give you that poise that debutantes so often lack. We can leave the children with your father and go together

But, mother

Oh, we shant go quite yet! I know you want to see your father for a few days before you leave him even for a fortnight.

Douglas was speechless; Nan, who was crowded in by her, gave her a sympathetic squeeze.

It is lovely to be with my girls again, the little lady bubbled on. Of course your letter was a great surprise to me, Douglas. The idea of my children making money! and she gave a silvery laugh. I am delighted that you have, because now no doubt your coming out will be even more delightful than I had anticipated. Of course those persons who are in our house in Richmond will simply have to get out.

But, mother

Simply have to how can a girl come out suitably unless she is in her own home?

CHAPTER III
THE PROBLEM

The cabin was looking very sweet and fresh after a thorough cleaning from the willing hands of Susan, who was in a state of bliss because her beloved mistress was returning. Gwen had found some belated Cherokee roses and with a few sprays of honeysuckle added had glorified the plain room.

You think Miss Lizzie Somerville is elgant! Well, you jes oughter see my missis. She is the mos elgantes lady in the whole er Richmond. I bet Mis Carter aint never in all her life done a hans turn. Gawd knows what she gonter say bout these here young ladies er hern workin like they was in service, Susan remarked to the little English Gwen, who had done many a hands turn herself and still had an elegance all her own, so evident that the colored servants recognized her as a lady bawn.

I think it is very wonderful that the Carter girls should be able to work so well when they have never been brought up to it, said Gwen as she hung the last freshly laundered sash curtain.

Thats they paw in em, declared Susan.

He is the wuckinest gemman I ever seed. Taint nothin he wont turn his han ter. He dont never set back and holler fer help when he wants the fire fixed er sech like. Nom, he jes jumps up an waits on hisself. Sometimes he used ter git Mis Carter kinder put out cause hed even do his own reaching at the table. Miss Douglas is the spittin image of him. None of the gals favors her much cep Miss Nan. She looks like her but she aint so langrous like when theys work on hand. Miss Helen is the same kind er spender as her maw. I believe my soul them two would ruther buy than eat. Cook used ter say that Mis Carter an Miss Helen spent like we done come to the millionennium. Great Gawd! Here they is an I aint got on my clean apron. Thats one thing that Mis Carterll certainly git cross over aprons.

She did not, however. Too pleased to see the faithful Susan, Mrs. Carter overlooked the doubtful apron.

What a charming room! Is this where I am to be? And you girls in the tents beyond? And Bobby where does Bobby sleep?

He is with Lewis Somerville and his friend, Bill Tinsley. I believe he wrote you about Bill, said Helen, the young man who was shipped from West Point when Lewis was.

Oh yes, I remember! I am glad to see you have not let yourself run down like Douglas, my dear. Your hair looks well kept and your complexion is perfect.

Douglas, much perturbed over her mothers plans, had rushed off to be alone for a moment to compose herself.

But, mother, I dont burn like Douglas, and then Douglas hair is so lovely it doesnt make any difference what she does to it. Mine must be well kept to pass muster. I hope you are not going to find it too rough here for you, mumsy, and Helen put a protecting arm around the little mother, who was more like a sister, and a younger one at that, than a mother to these great girls.

Oh, I think it is delightful for a while. Of course I have been on shipboard so long that I really am longing for some society. Did you hear me tell Douglas what my plan is for her and me? I should like to include you, too, but perhaps it would be best for you to wait a year.

No, I did not hear; you see the car is such a noisy one that one never can hear. What is your plan?

I want to take Douglas to the White for several weeks preparatory to her making her debut this winter.

Debut! gasped Helen. White Sulphur!

Certainly, why not?

But, mother, we havent money for clothes and things.

Nonsense! Our credit is perfectly good. I fancy there is not a man in Richmond who has paid his bills so regularly as Robert Carter, and now that he is not able to work for a few months I feel sure there is not a single tradesman with whom we have always dealt who would not be more than pleased to have us on his books for any amount.

I wanted to charge a lot of things I thought we needed, but Douglas just wouldnt have it. She never does realize the importance of clothes. I dont mean to criticize Douglas, she is wonderful, but she is careless about clothes.

Well, I shall put a stop to that, now that I am back with my children. Your father is so much better I can give my time to other things now. How exciting it will be to have a daughter in society! I never did want Douglas to go to college. What made her give it up? She never did say what her reason was. Letters are very unsatisfactory things when one is on shipboard.

It was money, of course, said Helen. There was no money for college.

Oh, to be sure! I forgot that college takes cash. Well, I am heartily glad she has given it up. I think college girls get too independent. I am dying to show you my purchases in New York.

I am dying to see them, too, but, mumsy, I shall have to leave you now and run and do a million things. We have a great crowd of week-enders coming up on the late train.

Cant Susan attend to the things?

Oh, Susan does a lot, but I am the chief cook and Douglas is the brains of the concern and looks after all the money and does the buying. Nan attends to all the letter writing, and you would be astonished to see how much she has to do because we have showers of mail about board. Lucy sees to the setting of the tables, and all of us do everything that turns up to be done. Even Bobby helps.

How ridiculous! Well, take care of your hands, darling. I hate to see a girl with roughened hands. There is simply no excuse for it.

Helen was dazed by her mothers attitude.

She is just presenting a duck-back to trouble, thought the girl, looking rather ruefully at her shapely hands which were showing the inevitable signs of work.

She found Douglas sitting in a forlorn heap in their tent. Her countenance was the picture of woe.

Helen! Helen! What are we to do?

Well, it wouldnt be so bad to take a trip to the White, and you certainly deserve a change. Poor mumsy, too, is bored to death with such a long sea trip and she needs some society.

But, honey, the money!

Oh, I dont see that we need worry so about that. Mother says that there is not a tradesman in Richmond who would not be pleased to have us on his books for any amount. I, for one, am longing for some new clothes. I dont mind a bit working and cooking, but I do think I need some new things and as for you why, Douglas, you are a perfect rag bag.

Douglas looked at her sister in amazement. The lesson, then, was not learned yet! She had thought that Helen understood about the necessity of making no bills as the bills were what had helped to reduce their father to this state of invalidism, but here she was falling into the mothers way of thinking willing to plunge into debt to any amount.

But Dr. Wright

Oh, always Dr. Wright!

But, Helen, you know you like Dr. Wright now and you must trust him.

So I do. I like him better and trust him entirely and he himself told me at the station that father was getting well fast. He said it would take a little more time but that he would be perfectly well again at least that is what I gathered. I know father would be the last man in the world to want his girls to go around looking like ash cats and you know it would make him ill indeed to think that mother wanted to go to White Sulphur for a while and could not go because of lack of money.

Of course it would, but surely neither you nor mother would tell him that she wanted to go if you know there is no money to pay for such a trip.

But there is money! exclaimed Helen with some asperity. You told me yourself that the camp was paying well enough for us to begin to have quite a bank account.

Yes but

Well now, if we have some money you must think that I have helped to earn it!

Why, Helen dear, you have done more than any of us. You are so capable

I dont say I have done more, no one could have worked harder than you have in fact, everybody has worked, but if I have done my share of the work, then I am certainly entitled to my share of the money and I intend to take my share and send mother to White Sulphur for a change. Of course you will simply have to go with her as she has set her heart on it.

I will not, announced Douglas, her girlish face taking on stern determination.

A shout from Bobby heralded the arrival of Josephus with the luggage. The discussion ended for the time being as Douglas and Helen were both needed to prepare for the inroad of week-enders that were to arrive in a few minutes. Mr. Carter alighted from the cart, already looking better. He was most enthusiastic over the camp and all of its arrangements.

I am going to be your handy man, he said, putting his arm around Douglas. Are you well, honey? You look bothered.

Oh yes, I am as well as can be, said Douglas, trying to smooth her wrinkled brow. How she did want to talk all the troubles over with her father, but he of all persons must not be bothered. The old habit of going to him with every worry was so strong that it was difficult to keep from doing it now, but she bit her lips and held it in.

Ill tell Lewis, she thought. He will at least sympathize.

What was she to do about her mother and Helen? They seemed to have no more gumption about money than the birds. Even then parcels were being carried into the cabin from the cart that must have meant much money spent in New York. Where did mother get it? The rent from the house in town had been sent to Mrs. Carter for running expenses on shipboard and hotels at the many places where they had stopped, but that must have gone for the trip. Could she have charged the purchases in New York? Poor Douglas! She had felt that the problem of making her sisters see the necessity of economizing had been a great one, but she realized that it was nothing to what she must face now. She felt that all her former arguments had been in vain since Helen was dropping into her mothers habit of thought and upholding that charming butterfly-like person in all her schemes of extravagance. Lucy was sure to follow Helens lead and begin to demand clothes, treats, trips and what-not. Nan, dear sensible, unselfish Nan, would be the only one who would sympathize with her older sister in regard to the necessity of continuing the strict economy they had practiced since early in May, when Dr. Wright had declared that the only thing that would save their fathers reason was an immediate change, a long rest and complete cessation of all business worries.

Nans tastes were simple, but she had a passion for color and beautiful textiles and sometimes indulged that taste in adorning her dainty little person. As a rule, however, she was quite satisfied to behold the color in a Persian rug or the wings of a butterfly. Beauty was to the girl the most important thing in life whether it was of line, color, sound or idea. She was perfectly happy with a good book and a comfortable place in which to curl up. Her fault was laziness, a certain physical inertia which her indulgent mother always attributed to her delicate constitution; but the summer in the mountains with the enforced activity had proven that the delicate constitution was due to the inertia and not the inertia to the delicate constitution. Up to that time in her life there had been no especial reason for exerting herself, but Nan was very unselfish and when she realized that her sisters were one and all busying themselves, she threw off her lazy habits as she would an ugly robe, and many tasks at Week-End Camp fell to her share.

Douglas, in this trouble that had arisen, felt that she could go to Nan for comfort and advice. Nans mind was as normally active as her graceful little body was inactive and she had a faculty of seeing her way through difficulties that the conscientious but more slowly thinking Douglas much envied her.

Nan, its fifteen minutes before train time when the week-enders will come piling in Im dying to have a talk with you.

Well, dont die just talk, drawled Nan, looking up from her book but never stopping turning the crank of the mayonnaise mixer. This was a job Nan loved, making mayonnaise. She had gotten it down to a fine art since she could mix and read at the same time. She declared it was a plain waste of time to use your hands without using your head and since turning a mayonnaise mixer crank required no intelligence beyond that of seeing that the funnel was filled with olive oil, she was able to indulge in her passion for poetry while she was making the quarts of mayonnaise that the young housekeepers dealt out so generously to their week-enders.

Listen to this! and Nan turned the crank slowly while she read:


Alas for all high hopes and all desires!
Like leaves in yellow autumn-time they fall
Alas for prayers and psalms and loves pure fires
One silence and one darkness ends them all!

The crank stopped and all of the oil flowed through the funnel while Nan softly turned the leaves of Marstons Last Harvest.

Yes, honey, it is beautiful, but you had better read a livelier form of verse or your salad dressing will go back on you.

Heavens, you are right! Ive got Barrack Room Ballads here ready in case I get to dawdling, laughed Nan.

I want to talk about something very important, Nan. Can you turn your crank and listen?

Yes, indeed, but youll have to talk fast or else Ill get to poking again. You see, I have to keep time.

So Douglas rapidly repeated the conversations she had had with her mother and later with Helen.

What are we to do? Must I tell Dr. Wright? I am afraid to get them started for fear father will be mixed up in it. He must not know mother wants to go to White Sulphur he would be sure to say let her go and then he would try to work again before he is fit for it, and he would certainly get back into the same state he was in last spring.

Poor little mumsy! I was sure she would not understand, and once more the mixer played a sad measure.

I was afraid she wouldnt, sighed Douglas, but I did think Helen had been taught a lesson and realized the importance of our keeping within our earnings and saving something, too, for winter.

Helen why, she is too young for the lesson she learned to stick. She is nothing but a child.

Is that so, grandmother? laughed Douglas, amused in spite of her trouble at Nans ancient wisdom (Nan being some two years younger than Helen).

Why, Douglas, Helen has just been play-acting at being poor. She has no idea of its being a permanency, and Nan filled the funnel again with oil and began to turn her crank with vigor.

But what are we to do? I am not going to White Sulphur and I am not going to make my debut thats sure. I have never disobeyed mother that I can remember, but this time I shall have to. I dont know what I am to say about the trip to the White. Helen is saying she has helped to earn the money and she means to spend her share giving poor mumsy a little fun after her tiresome long journey on the water. I wish we had never told her we were able to put something in the bank last month. It was precious little and Helens share would not keep them at White Sulphur more than two or three days. Helen thinks I am stingy and mother thinks I am stubborn and ugly and sunburned and theres the train with all the week-enders and poor Douglas gave a little sob.

And I have turned my wheel until this old mayonnaise is done just look how beautiful it is! And you, poor old Doug, must just leave it to me, and Ill think up something to keep them here if I have to break out with smallpox and get them quarantined on the mountain.

Oh, Nan! Is there some way out of it without letting father know that mother wants something and cannot have it for lack of money?

Sure there is! You go powder your nose and put on a blue linen blouse and give a few licks to your pretty hair while I hand over the mayonnaise to Gwen and see that Lucy has counted noses for the supper tables. Ive almost got a good reason already for mumsys staying here aside from the lack of tin, but I must get it off to her with great finesse.

I knew you would help! and Douglas gave her little sister and the mayonnaise bowl an impartial hug, and then hastened to make herself more presentable, hoping to find favor in the eyes of her fastidious mother.

CHAPTER IV
ROBERT CARTERS ASTONISHING GIRLS

August, the month for holidays, was bringing much business to the proprietresses of Week-End Camp. Such a crowd came swarming up the mountain now that Lucy, who had set the tables with the assistance of her chum, Lil Tate, and the two sworn knights, Skeeter Halsey and Frank Maury, and had carefully counted noses according to the calculations Nan had made from the applications she had received, had to do it all over to make room for the unexpected guests.

Just kilt-plait the places, suggested Lil.

If they keep on coming well have to accordeon-plait em, laughed Lucy.

Gee, Im glad your eats dont land in your elbows! from Skeeter.

Me, too! exclaimed Frank. Miss Helen tipped me a wink that theres Brunswick stew made out of the squirrels we got yesterday. And there is sho no elbow room at these tables.

Look at em swarming up the mountain. Where do you reckon theyll sleep? asked Lil.

Have to roost in the trees.

I bet more than half of them didnt bring their blankets, hazarded Lucy.

Yes, thats the way they do, these town fellows, said Skeeter, forgetting that he too had been a town fellow only a few weeks before that time.

The summer in the mountains was doing wonders for these youngsters. Sleeping in the open had broadened their chests. They were wiry and tanned and every day brought some new delightful duty that was never called a duty and so was looked upon by all of them as a great game. Theirs was the task of foraging for the camp, and no small job was it to find chickens and vegetables and fruit for the hungry hordes that sought the Week-End Camp for holiday and recreation.

They had found their way to many a remote mountain cabin and engaged all chickens hatched and unhatched. They had spread the good news among the natives that blackberries, huckleberries, peaches, apples, pears and plums were in demand at their camp. Eggs were always needed. Little wild-eyed, tangled-haired children would come creeping from the bushes, like so many timid rabbits, bringing their wares; sometimes a bucket of dewberries or some wild plums; sometimes honey from the wild bees, dark and strong and very sweet, bumblebee honey, Skeeter called it. All was grist that came to the mill of the week-enders. No matter how much was provided, there was never anything to speak of left over.

These hyar white folks is same as chickens, grumbled old Oscar. Theys got no notion of quittin slong as theys any corn lef on the groun.

They sho kin eat, agreed Susan, but Miss Douglas an Miss Helen done said we mus fill em up and thats what we is hyar fur.





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