Nell Speed.

The Carter Girls' Week-End Camp





I never dreamed you were thinking about me seriously, she confessed as she emerged from his embrace.

Honest? Been dotty about you ever since you took me for a jitney driver and tipped me a quarter. Got it yet.

Look how dark it is! I believe we are going to have a storm. What a great black cloud! Lets hurry, as I have no idea of getting my frock wet.

Hurry they did and reached the pavilion just as great drops began to fall. Bill was in a state of happy excitement over his engagement, although it was something he must keep to himself. He felt like shouting it on the housetops, but instead he gave one of his great laughs that startled Mrs. Carter so she stopped dancing and hunted up Bobby.

It sounded like bears and lions, she declared, and I felt uneasy about my baby.

She found that youngster fast asleep cuddled up in his fathers arms, the father looking very happy and peaceful. Robert Carter felt quite like a little child himself with his great girls taking care of him.

CHAPTER VII
THE STORM

That storm was always known as The Storm by everyone who was at the Week-End Camp on that night in August. Greendale had been singularly free from severe storms that season and the Carters had had no difficulty up to that time in keeping dry. They had had rain in plenty but never great downpours and their mountain had escaped the lightning that on several occasions had played havoc not many miles from them.

The day had been exceptionally warm but very clear. The full moon had taken the place of the sun when night came on and so brilliant was the glow from that heavenly orb, one could almost fancy heat was reflected as well as light. The great black cloud that came rolling over the mountain was as much an astonishment to the dancers in the pavilion as it was to the moon herself. They refused to recognize the fact that a storm was coming up and the moon also held her own for some time after the downpour was upon them. She kept peeping out through rifts in the clouds and once when the storm was at its fiercest she sailed clear of all clouds for a few moments, and then it was that the rarest of all beauties in Nature was beheld by the damp and huddled-up crowd of week-enders: a lunar rainbow.

It stretched across the valley, a perfect arc with the colors as clearly defined as a solar bow but infinitely more delicate than any rainbow ever beheld before.

There was no such thing as keeping dry. When Lewis Somerville and Bill Tinsley built the pavilion, they had kept exactly to the architects plans, drawn so carefully by Robert Carters assistant, Mr. Lane. The roof projected so far on every side that they had remarked at the time that nothing short of horizontal rain could find its way under that roof. Well, this rain was horizontal and it came in first one direction and then another until every bit of floor space was flooded. The thunder sounded like stage thunder made by rolling barrels of bricks down inclined planes and helped out with the bass drum.

Great clouds rested on the mountain tops and a wind, that seemed demoniacal in the tricks it played, bent over great forest trees as though they were saplings and then let them snap back into place with a deafening crack.

Save the Victrola, whispered Tillie to Bill. I want to dance with you once before you go off, and water will ruin it.

That was enough for the devoted Bill. He took off his coat and wrapped it tenderly over the top of the Victrola, which was still playing a gay dance tune as no one had had the presence of mind to stop it. Then he made a dash for the kitchen just as a river of water was descending and in a twinkling was back bearing in his arms a great tin tub. This he placed over the top of the precious music-maker. He felt very tender toward Tillie just then for although her new dress was being ruined, still her first thought had been for the Victrola so she could dance with him.

The storm having come up so suddenly found the crowd totally unprepared. Tent flys had been left up and the windows and door of the cabin, where Mrs. Carter was installed, were wide open for the four winds of heaven to blow through. Sad havoc they played with the dainty finery that Mrs. Carter and Susan had left spread out on the bed. The wonderful hat, brought as a present for Douglas, was picked up the next morning half way down the mountain; at least the ruin was supposed to be that hat but it was never quite identified as it had lost all semblance to a hat.

Lewis, after hearing the ultimatum from Douglas, as I have said, made his solitary way to his tent where he threw himself on his cot to fight it out with his disappointed self. A dash of rain on his tent aroused him and then a mighty gust of wind simply picked up the tent and wafted it away like thistledown.

Well, of all but Lewis never finished of all the what, but in a twinkling he had rolled up the bed clothes belonging to himself and his tent mates, and then rushing to the neighboring tents that were still withstanding the raging hurricane he rolled up blankets found there and piled cots on top of the bundles.

It was a real fight, strong man that he was, to make his way to the pavilion. Trees were bending before the wind and he found the only way to locomote was to crawl.

Just suppose the pavilion doesnt hold! was ringing in his mind; but the young men had builded better than they knew. It did hold although the roof was straining at the rafters and Lewis and Bill feared every moment it might rise up and float off as their tent had done.

Lewis came under cover wetter than he would have been had he been in swimming, he declared. Swimming just soaks the water in but the rain had beat it in and hammered it down. The wind was still driving the rain in horizontal sheets and the pavilion was getting damper and damper. The week-enders were a very forlorn looking crowd and no doubt the majority of them were far from blessing the day that had brought them to the camp in Albemarle. They ran from corner to corner trying to get out of the searching flood.

I know they are blaming it on us! cried Nan to Mr. Tucker.

Who is blaming it on you? laughed Page Allison. Why, honey, it may be doing worse things in other places. We should be thankful we are on a mountain top instead of in a valley. Then she drew Mr. Tucker aside and whispered to him: See here, Zebedee, dont you think it is up to us somehow to relieve this situation? If we get giddy and act as though it were a privilege to be wet to the skin, dont you think we might stir up these people and make a lark of this storm instead of a calamity? You remember you told me once that you and Miss Jinny Cox saved the day for a picnic at Monticello when a deluge hit you there?

Zebedee was the Tucker Twins pet name for their father, and Page Allison, their best friend, was also privileged to use the name for that eternally youthful gentleman.

Ive been thinking we must do something, but the lightning is so severe that somehow I think I must wait.

You are like Mammy Susan who says: Whin the Almighty is a-doing his wuck aint the time fur a po ole nigger ter be a-doin hern.

Exactly! But it is letting up a bit now, that is, the lightning is, but the rain is even more terrific.

A great crash of thunder, coming simultaneously with a flash of lightning that cracked like a whip, put a stop to conversation, and Page, in spite of her bravery, for she was not the least afraid of storms as a rule clung to Mr. Tucker. Everybody was clinging to everybody else and in the stress of the moment no one was choosy about the person to cling to. Bill cursed his stars that Tillie was hanging on to Skeeter, as pale as a little ghost, when she might just as well be hanging on to him, while he, in turn, was supporting a strange person he had never even met.

That hit close to us! exclaimed someone.

I believe it hit me! screamed a girl.

Where are Susan and Oscar? cried Douglas. They will be scared to death.

When I went down in the kitchen after the tub for the Victrola, Oscar was under the table and Susan was trying to get in the fireless cooker, head first, volunteered Bill. The kitchen is really the dryest place on the mountain, I fancy.

You forget the shower bath, suggested Helen. Turn it on full force and it would still be a thousand times dryer than any place here.

I tell you what lets do! spoke Dum Tucker with an inspiration that all regretted had not come sooner. Lets climb up and sit on the rafters!

Suiting the action to the word, she lightly ascended the trunk of the huge tulip poplar tree that had been left in the center of the pavilion as a support to the roof. The branches had been sawed off, leaving enough projecting to serve as hat racks for the camp. These made an admirable winding stair which an athletic girl like Dum Tucker made nothing of climbing.

Splendid! and Dee Tucker followed her twin. In short order many of the more venturesome members of the party were perched on the rafters where they defied the rain to reach them. Even poor Mrs. Carter, her pretty lace dress, if not absolutely ruined, at least with all of its first freshness gone, was persuaded to come up, too, and there she sat trembling and miserable.

Come on up, Page! shouted Dee to her chum.

Ill be there soon, but Page had an idea that she meant first to propose to Douglas.

Poor Douglas, this was a fitting ending to a day of worry and concern. She felt like one


Whom unmerciful disaster
Followed fast and followed faster.

Of course country folk are always made to feel in some intangible way that they are responsible for the weather when the weather happens to be bad and city folk are visiting them. Douglas thought she had enough not to bear the weight of the storm, but somehow she felt that that, too, was added to her burden.

I know exactly what you are thinking, said Page, coming up and putting her wet arm around Douglas wet waist. I have lived in the country all my life and whenever we have a big storm at Bracken or unseasonable weather of any sort, we are always held personally responsible for it by a certain type of visitors. You think this is going to harm your camp and keep people from coming, dont you?

Why, how did you know?

A little bird told me a stormy petrel. Now I tell you what we must do: we must whoop things up until all of these week-enders will think that the storm was about the most interesting thing that ever happened at Camp Carter and they will come again hoping for a repetition of the experience.

Oh, Page! How can we? and Douglas smiled in spite of herself.

Well, lets call a council and appoint a committee on ways and means.

Mr. Tucker was first on the list, then Helen and Dr. Wright, Bill Tinsley and Lewis Somerville. Nan was so busy looking at the beauties of Nature that she had to be called three times before she answered.

Come on, Miss Nan! begged Mr. Tucker. Your wise little head is wanted on this committee.

Only look at that bank of clouds as the lightning strikes on the edge of it! It looks like the portals of heaven.

Yes, and it came mighty near being that same thing, muttered Mr. Tucker.

The storm was really passing. Flashes of lightning and peals of thunder grew farther and farther apart. The rain gave one big last dash and stopped as suddenly as it had begun and then the moon asserted herself once more.

Every member of the hastily called council had some suggestion to make and every suggestion was eagerly taken by the committee on ways and means, that committee being composed of the entire council.

Page said hot coffee for the entire camp must be made immediately and she would do the making. Dr. Wright said a fire would be a pretty good thing if it could be managed, and Bill Tinsley remembered some charcoal braziers that Susan used for ironing and a box of charcoal in the corner of the kitchen. Lewis went to gather up all the blankets in the camp and those that were damp were draped along the rafters by the climbers. Soon the brazier had a glow of coals that sent up heat to the rafters, and Bill also put into use the great iron pot that had hung over the camp fire just for picturesqueness. It had never had anything in it but water, all the cooking being done on kerosene stoves and in a fireless cooker. This made an excellent brazier and the coals were kept red hot with the help of the automobile tire pump in lieu of bellows. Helen had ambition for a welsh rarebit and started in with chafing dishes. This called into requisition more workers and all of the camp was soon busy cutting up cheese and toasting bread and crackers.

The Victrola was relieved of its tub and a ragtime record put on that made all of the workers step lively, which did much toward starting their circulation and warming them up generally. The Victrola ever after that was called Diogenes, after a certain wise man who lived in a tub.

Everybody danced at his work and everybody was laughing and happy. The moonlight was so dazzling in its brilliancy that it was difficult to realize that not ten minutes before the biggest storm Greendale had ever known had been making even the strong men tremble. Nan seemed to be the only person who had not been afraid. Even those who had never before minded a storm had been cowed by this one.

Page declared she had always liked storms before; even when a big gum tree on the lawn at Bracken had been struck before her very eyes she had not been afraid, but this time she was scared to death.

Dum said it seemed to be such a personal storm somehow and each flash seemed to mean her. I felt my naked soul was exposed to my Maker, she said, as she gave her beloved father a hug. I have got all kinds of things to fess to you, Zebedee, things that I never thought made any difference before, she whispered.

Why, Dumdeedledums! What on earth?

Only this evening I smoked a cigarette, although I know you hate it I owe a little bill for soda water at Millers, although I know you dont want me to charge things there are other things but I cant think of them just now. Suppose only suppose that I had winked out without telling you or worse than that, suppose you had but Dum couldnt finish for the big tears that rolled out of her eyes and which Tucker-like she made no attempt to conceal. Zebedee lent her his handkerchief and then had to wipe his own eyes, too.

That is all right, honey, but dont do it any more. And now you turn in and help these Carter girls and Page jolly up this crowd. Page is making coffee and I am going with Somerville to right the tents and take stock of the damage done by the storm.

When Page had first entered the kitchen she found the two negroes bent over in abject woe. Oscar was praying while Susan moaned and groaned with occasional ejaculations like a Greek chorus in a tragedy of Euripides.

Oh my Gawd, let the deep waters pass over me and let me come out whiter than the snow and sweeter than the honey in the honey comb let me be putrified by fire and let the rollin thunders shock pass me by, leavin me stand steadfast, a pillar of smoke by day and a pillar of fire by night like unto a lily of the valley, a bright an mawnin star that casts its beams on the jest an the onjest

Yes, my Gawd! wailed the chorus. An the jest an the onjest shall lie down together like the lion an the lamb in that great an mighty day an who Gawd has united let no man pull acinder.

Yes! Yes! In that day when the Rock of Ages shall smite the Shibboleth and the Urum an Thurum may be delivered not remember thou thy servant Oscar

Yes! Yes, Lord! an thy handy maiden Susan!

Page entered and put a stop to the impassioned appeal by asking for the coffee pot, while Bill Tinsley bore off the big brazier full of charcoal.

The storm is over, I think, said Page, with difficulty restraining her smiles. It was very terrible indeed.

Turrible aint no word for it; an now you say the white folks wants to eat agin? Lord love us if evthing dont make these here week-enders emptier an emptier. Feedin of them is like pourin water down a rat hole.

Well, you see, uncle, they all of them got so wet that it is wise to give them something hot to drink, and then, too, we want them to forget the terrible storm and think of the camp only with pleasure. You see they might not come back again.

Forget it! forget it! You cant lose these here folks. Theyd ride all the way from Richmond jes to fill theyselves up, if for no other reason. They is the empties lot I ever come acrost.

Dee Tucker followed Page to the kitchen to see if she could be of any assistance in making the coffee. She felt keenly sorry for the Carters on account of this storm. Not being connected with them in any way, the grumblers had not hesitated to criticize the whole thing in Dees presence when they got wet and scared. Dee had done all in her power to soften their judgment, but there were several who did not hesitate to blame the Carter girls because of their wetting. Nothing is so catching as criticism and it spreads like wildfire with the genus boarder. She told Page of her fears.

Well have to put a stop to it. You get Tillie Wingo and you and she soft soap the men who are grouching, and then get Zebedee to go after the females. He can make them believe they only dreamed it stormed.

CHAPTER VIII
THE DAMAGE DONE

Jeffry Tucker and his daughter Caroline, otherwise known as Dee, were surely the most tactful human beings in the world. They could almost always gain any goal by tact. They set out now to make the grouchy week-enders dry up and cheer up, and in half an hour after the storm was over they had attained their object. Page overheard Mr. Tucker pacifying a very disconsolate maiden lady whose hair had come out of curl and whose rosy cheeks had run off not far, however only to her jaws.

This is a most outrageous way to treat boarders! she exclaimed. The idea of having no proper shelter for them charging an enormous price, too! I certainly intend to leave tomorrow and I will stop some friends of mine who were planning to come up next week. Isnt it strange how these places are overrated? Anyhow, Ill not give it a good name but will get out the first thing in the morning.

Oh, dont do that, begged the wily Zebedee. I had planned to get you to take a walk with me tomorrow evening. The moon will be gorgeous and there are some wonderful spots around here romantic spots.

Well, of course I wouldnt think of going if it clears up.

It has already cleared up! Just look at the moon! I almost think we might take a walk now, but it might be very muddy. Lets fox trot instead.

Done, for a ducat! laughed Page to herself, as Mr. Tucker and the much mollified week-ender danced off together. I am afraid poor Zebedee will have his whole holiday taken up showing the moon to wet hens.

What Mr. Tucker accomplished with the females, Tillie and Dee did likewise to the males. Tillie exercised all her fascinations on some hallroom boys, while Dee went in for some old bachelors who loved their ease and comfort and did not at all relish the idea of wet sheets on soggy cots.

Here is some hot coffee! she said, with a very winning smile. Two lumps, or one?

None for me, miss, from a terrible old grouch who had been particularly loud in his praise of Nature before Nature had shown what she really could do. I dont expect to sleep a wink as it is. I am perfectly sure the beds will be damp.

But I am sure they will not be. Douglas is seeing about it now and she says they have plenty of dry bed linen. You had better have some coffee and I will dance with you until you get sleepy.

Egad, that would be very pleasant! I am going back to the city tomorrow and I could sleep on the train, perhaps.

Oh, please dont go tomorrow. I thought you would be here over Sunday and we might get up a little crowd and go sit on the rocks and read aloud or something.

Well, if it clears I may change my mind.

It has already cleared! Goody! Goody! Now you will have to stay. Wouldnt the old-fashioned waltz go well with that record Helen has just put on? Do you know I adore the old-fashioned waltz?

As the old-fashioned waltz was the only thing that staid bachelor could dance, never having been able to master the new dances, this put him in rare good humor. He swallowed his coffee hastily, pronouncing it excellent, and in a twinkling he and Dee were dancing the dances of the early eighties and one more week-ender was saved to the Carters to give the camp a good name.

After a severe storm sometimes it is more of a wonder what the damage isnt than what it is. It seems at the time that nothing will ever be dry and straight again, and then in a very short while the world looks normal once more.

Camp Carter recuperated in a miraculous manner. Only one tent had been blown away and those that stood the test of wind had also stood the test of rain. Some of the blankets were damp but most of them, thanks to Lewis foresight, had been protected. The drainage on the side of a mountain is naturally perfect so there were no disconcerting puddles, and the rocky paths were hardly muddy, so hard and driving had been the downpour.





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