MoboReader > Young Adult > The Camp Fire Girls in the Maine Woods; Or, The Winnebagos Go Camping


The Camp Fire Girls in the Maine Woods; Or, The Winnebagos Go Camping By Hildegard G. Frey Characters: 22585

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:03

True to her promise, Sahwah began the very next morning "cultivating" Gladys. "Have you any middies you want washed?" she asked, as she dumped her own into the kettle over the fire.

"Every one I own is soiled," replied Gladys.

"Bring them along, then," said Sahwah, "and we'll do them together." Gladys brought her middies and Sahwah popped them into the boiling soapsuds, stirring them around with a stick. When they had boiled a few minutes she fished them out into a pail and carried them down to the lake for rinsing, Gladys walked along, but she did not offer to help carry the pail. Sahwah rinsed the soapy pieces in the clear water and was spreading them out on the rocks in the sun when she noticed that the Bluebird, which had been making its morning stop at Wharton's Landing, was headed their way instead of passing out through the gap. "Who can be coming to see us?" she said to Gladys. "The boat wouldn't stop unless it had a passenger, for our supplies came yesterday."

It was not a passenger, however, that was left on the Winnebago dock, but a wooden box from the express company. The girls crowded around to get a look at it. It was addressed to the "Winnebago Camp Fire Girls, Camp Winnebago, Loon Lake, Maine." Sahwah ran and got a hammer and soon had the box open.

"What is it?" cried the girls.

"It's a sail!" exclaimed Sahwah, looking at it closely, "the kind you put on canoes."

Attached to the lid of the box was a card which read:

"To the Winnebagos, to save them the trouble of harnessing themselves to their canoe to make it go. In remembrance of a delightful day spent in their camp.


"O joy!" exclaimed Sahwah, clapping her hands. "Maybe we won't have some fun now! Just wait until I get it adjusted." She spent most of the day hoisting that sail on one of the canoes, but finally had it finished, and went darting around on the lake like a white-winged bird, taking the other girls out with her in turn. "It's too bad you can't go out in a canoe," she said to Gladys with real regret, "I should love to have you go sailing with me." There was no help for it, however, and Gladys had to stay on shore.

"Won't you let me help you?" she asked Gladys at the next swimming period. "I'll hold you up if you'll try to float." But Gladys would not let any one touch her in the water except Nyoda. When Nyoda was directing the other girls Gladys stood out on the beach. "How am I going to help Gladys learn to swim if she won't let me?" thought Sahwah in despair.

"Don't go too far out on the lake," Nyoda warned Sahwah that afternoon, her eye on a bank of clouds that was rolling up in the west.

"I know there's a storm coming, and I'll be careful," promised

Sahwah, mindful of her new resolution to think before she acted,

"but the wind is so strong now it's great fun to be out sailing.

I'll stay near shore."

The storm that had been threatening broke loose about supper time, and the girls ran to fasten down their tents. "Whew!" said Sahwah, struggling with a tent flap, "listen to the wind." The great pines were roaring deafeningly, and the lake, lashed into fury, was dashing high against the cliff. "Where are you going?" said Nyoda imperatively, as Hinpoha started down the path to the lake in her bathing suit. "To bring in the flag," answered Hinpoha. "It'll be torn to pieces in that gale." It was all she could do to stand upright on the dock. The rain was coming down in slanting sheets that closed round her like a fog. She untied the ropes that held the flag and tried to lower it. But it would not come. Something was wrong with the pulley. The flag was flapping in the wind and straining at the ropes like a spirited horse.

"No help for it," said Hinpoha to herself, "I'll have to go up on top." The tower swayed in the wind as she mounted the ladder, and the rain dashed in her face, blinding her. Great crashes of thunder sounded in her ears, and the lightning flashed all around her. Up on top it was worse yet. The wind whipped her long hair out and threatened to hurl her from the little platform, so she did not dare let go of the railing with one hand while she released the pulley with the other. "Glory," she whispered as she cautiously descended the ladder, "but the Thunder Bird has it in for us!"

She sped up the path with the precious flag held against her bosom, and found the girls gathered in the shack. Nyoda was kindling a fire in the big open fireplace, and the girls were seated in a circle before it. Then Nyoda, raising her voice above the patter of the raindrops on the roof, read aloud while the girls did Craft work by the light of lanterns. The evening wore away pleasantly, but the rain continued. At bed time they wrapped their ponchos around them and ran for the tents. The hollows between the rocks were veritable rivers, and in the inky darkness more than one girl stepped squarely into the flood.

"I'm soaked to the skin," panted Sahwah, running into the tent and quickly closing the flap behind her, "and I stepped into a puddle up to my knees."

"So am I," said Hinpoha, who was divesting herself of her clothes in the middle of the tent. "Did you ever see such a downpour?"

"Cheer up," said Migwan, who had gone to bed early in the evening with a headache and stayed in during the storm, "the tent doesn't leak, anyway. We'll be perfectly dry in here."

"It'll be all right if the tent doesn't blow over," said Sahwah. "Whew! Listen to that!" The girls held their breath as a particularly fierce blast hurled itself against the canvas sides of their shelter. Gladys, terror-stricken, sat on the bed and trembled. Sahwah hastened to reassure her. "It probably won't blow down," she said cheerfully; "these tents are made pretty strong, and the ropes on this one are all new, but there is always the possibility. Do you mind if I take your laundry bag down? It is pinned to the side of the tent and will lead the water through."

The girls slept very little that night, although the tent withstood the storm and remained standing. The rain still fell with unabated vigor at dawn. At about six o'clock Nyoda put her head into the tent and called Sahwah. Sahwah was alert instantly. Nyoda had on her bathing suit and cap. "What is it?" asked Sahwah.

"One of the canoes has broken away, and is floating off," Nyoda said in a low tone, so as not to disturb Gladys and Migwan, who were still sleeping. Hinpoha sat up and listened. "I am going after it in the launch," continued Nyoda, "and will need help. Put on your bathing suit and come."

"Let me come, too," begged Hinpoha.

"All right," said Nyoda, and the three crept out of the tent and down the path to the lake. The water had risen at least a foot, and the floor of the dock was flooded. About half a mile out in the lake they saw the runaway canoe, now standing on end, now floating bottom up.

"Wouldn't it float in by itself?" asked Sahwah.

Nyoda shook her head.

"It might float in all right," she said, "but it would be dashed to pieces on the rocks on the other side. You notice it is being carried farther away from us all the time. If we want that canoe for the rest of the summer we'll have to go after it."

That was the most exciting launch ride the two girls had ever taken. The little boat rode up and down on the waves like an egg shell, the water going over her constantly, drenching the girls and threatening to swamp the engine. The wind whirled the rain against their faces. Nyoda stood up in the bow handling the wheel as calmly as if she were pouring tea at a reception. Nyoda's strong point was her composure; it was next thing to impossible to get her excited. They caught up with the canoe and Sahwah and Hinpoha managed to right it and fasten it to the launch with a rope. They got back to the dock without mishap and pulled the canoe high up where it could not be washed away a second time. Sahwah and Hinpoha returned to the tent red as roses from their exposure to the wind and rain and recounted their early morning adventure to Migwan and Gladys.

At breakfast time they had to put on their ponchos again and pick their way through the puddles to the shack, where they ate their breakfast. The "Mess Tent" was leaking merrily in a dozen places. By noon there was still no let up in the downpour. Rest hour was spent on the floor in the shack. When Nyoda came in in the middle of the afternoon from a tour of inspection she announced that both the Alpha and Omega tents were leaking badly and the bedding was getting wet. She made the girls bring their blankets, rolled up in their ponchos, into the shack and spread them out before the fire.

The shack was pretty well crowded before the afternoon was over. Besides all the girls and the bedding and the partially painted paddles that stood around everywhere, Nyoda brought in a large supply of fire wood. It was all damp and had to be dried out before it would burn. The rain whirled against the windows, as if seeking entrance by force, but the girls inside, safe and dry, made merry before the fire. Nyoda taught them a new game, called "Johnny, Where Are You?" She blindfolded Hinpoha and Sahwah and set them on the floor. Then each one in turn had to call, "Johnny, where are you?" and upon the other one's answering, "Here!" whacked in the direction of the voice with a rolled-up newspaper. Both had to keep one hand on a pie-tin on the floor between them. Sahwah and Hinpoha both gave and received some sounding whacks, and kept the watchers in a roar of laughter with their efforts to dodge each other. Towards the end Nyoda slipped up and removed the bandage from Hinpoha's eyes and let her whack Sahwah with her eyes open, and poor Sahwah wondered why she could not dodge the attacks any better.

After supper Nyoda proposed playing "Aeroplane." She shooed all the girls but Hinpoha out into the kitchen. One by one they were blindfolded and led in. Sahwah was the first. She was led into the center of the room and there brought to a halt. "Step up," commanded some one. Sahwah did as she was told and her feet were planted on something that felt like a platform. "Now hang on!" they ordered. She hung. It seemed to be hair she was hanging on to. "Up with her!" Sahwah felt herself rising, up, up. The hair sank out of her grasp. The board wobbled under her feet. Straight up toward the ceiling she went, past the rafters and on up, until her head struck the roof. The board wobbled much worse. "Jump!" they shouted. Sahwah gathered her forces for a mighty leap, determining to strike the floor with knees bent so as to break the shock. She struck solid ground before she had fairly started. The bandage was taken from her eyes. She was standing on the floor in front of the fireplace. Beside her was the "Aeroplane." It was a plain wooden board. When she had stood on it they had lifted it up, and Hinpoha, whose head she had seized upon to support herself, had gradually stooped down, to enhance Sahwah's sensation of going up. To complete illusion they hit her on the head with a book to make her think she had struck the ceiling. She had risen about six inches from the floor in all, although she was sure she had gone up six feet at least. Her m

ighty leap caused the "conductors" much merriment. Gladys did still better. She fell off without jumping.

When bedtime came there was no thinking of going to the tents, so the beds were made up on the floor in a circle about the fireplace. "Does this count toward our honor for sleeping five nights on the ground?" asked Sahwah. "It ought to," said Hinpoha, "it's harder than the ground."

Morning found the rain still unabated. "This is getting monotonous," said Migwan, looking out at the grey skies and the lake shrouded in mist.

"Can't we take our dip even if it is raining?" asked Sahwah anxiously.

"I don't see why not," said Nyoda. But when they were in their bathing suits and ready to start they found they could not open the porch door of the shack. "What's the matter?" said Nyoda, lowering one of the windows and looking out. "Oh, look at the porch floor!" she cried. The flooring had warped up into a great hump before the door, preventing its being opened.

"It looks like a roller coaster," said Migwan. The girls were obliged to make their exit and re-entrance through the window.

"Hurray! No tent inspection to-day!" cried Hinpoha, picking up her blankets from the floor to make room for Craft work.

"It'll take more than inspection to fix your tent up again," said

Nyoda, looking out of the side window of the shack.

"Why?" said Hinpoha.

"Come here and look," said Nyoda.

"Why, it's fallen down!" cried Hinpoha, looking over Nyoda's shoulder. The girls pressed to the window to see the heap of canvas that had been the Omega tent.

"Is Alpha still standing?" asked the inhabitants of that tent, craning their necks.

"Yes," answered Nyoda, "which proves its superiority once for all." The Alphas swelled out their chests and made triumphant grimaces at the Omegas.

"I don't care," declared Sahwah, "I'd rather be an Omega any day than an Alpha. We have a better view of the lake."

"But we keep our tent neater," said Chapa, "and so it looks better."

"Like fun you keep yours neater," returned Sahwah.

"We get higher marks than you right along," said Chapa, "and that goes to show."

"Well," flashed Sahwah, "we'd get higher marks if it wasn't for-." Just in time she remembered her promise and broke off abruptly.

"If it wasn't for what?" asked Chapa.

"For the wind blowing our things around so," she finished lamely, and fell to carving her wood block furiously.

"Let's sing something," said Nyoda hastily.

"Migwan and Hinpoha, sing 'The Owl and the Pussy Cat,'" cried the girls in chorus. Thus urged, the two mounted the piano bench and acted out the romantic tale as they sang the words.

"Now let's all sing something," said Nyoda, when the amorous owl and the impassioned pussy had danced themselves off the bench. "What were some of those songs we sang on the hike?"

"Let's sing Migwan's latest song, 'O We Are Winnebagos,'" said


"That has a good swing to it," said Nyoda when they had sung it several times. "Sahwah, dear, follow the tune more closely with your tenor, you put us out."

"Well, I'm willing to sing, anyhow," said Sahwah, "even if I can't and that's more than some people do." This last was a direct reference to Gladys. Although she was supposed to have a very good and well-trained voice and had done much solo singing in her time, Gladys steadfastly refused to sing along with the other girls in chorus. Once or twice, after much coaxing on Nyoda's part, she had consented to sing a "solo" on Sunday morning or on "stunt night," but sing mornings in the shack with the others she would not. They laid it to the fact that she considered herself better than themselves and did not want to mix in their doings, and it put a damper on their own, singing because they thought she was criticising them. This was not exactly the case. Once an enthusiastic teacher of hers had pronounced her voice "different" from others and told her that chorus singing would spoil it, so from then on she refused to blend her voice with others. She knew well enough that this was ridiculous, but it pleased her vanity and she kept it up. She would not come right out and tell why, however, but simply said she "didn't feel like singing." Naturally the girls thought her reason a personal one and it made bad feeling all around. Her refusal to sing puzzled and grieved Nyoda more than anything else she did. The Winnebagos were known as a "singing group," and the addition of a trained voice was very welcome. Nyoda thought of course that Gladys would lead the singing in great shape and her disappointment at her attitude was very keen.

"Yes, Sahwah," said Nyoda warmly, "your willingness to use the talents you have is one of the reasons why we love you so."

"I think that any one who can sing and won't isn't-isn't a sport," said Hinpoha emphatically.

"Maybe I have a reason for not singing," said Gladys in a lofty manner.

"Well, what is it?" said Sahwah, exasperated into sharp speech.

Gladys pursed up her lips but did not reply.

Nyoda saw that a storm was brewing. It was the inevitable result of the girls having been pent up so close together for over two days. She pulled out her watch. "It's time for folk dancing," she announced briskly. The girls looked out of the window. The rain was still teeming down. "Who's game to put on her bathing suit and dance in the rain?" asked Nyoda.

"I, I," cried all the girls. They followed her to the tennis court, where they did such dances as they could without music and ended up with a lively game of "Three Deep," the water running down over their faces. "Let's play 'Stump the Leader,"' said Nyoda, when they had grown tired of "Three Deep."; "Follow me." She led them a wild chase all over the camp, over rocks and stumps, around trees and through puddles, then down on the dock. She dove into the lake, swam around the dock, climbed out on the rocks, out on the dock again and climbed the tower, from which she jumped, the girls keeping close behind her, all except Gladys. By the time swimming hour was over the girls had let off enough steam to dwell together again in peace and amity.

Late that afternoon the rain ceased and the sun peeped out, pale and wan from his long imprisonment. At the first beam that shone through the girls were out of the shack with a whoop and began putting up the Omega tent. "Let Hinpoha and me do it alone!" shrieked Sahwah, pushing the others away, "if only two do it we get an honor, if more help we don't!"

"Right-O," said Nyoda, stepping back, "do your worst, you two."

The tent was re-erected, and the girls scrambled around looking for their scattered possessions.

"And the looking glass didn't even break!" said Migwan, picking it up from one of the beds where it had landed when the tent went down.

The next morning the sun shone in splendor and the sky was deep blue and cloudless, while a high wind did its best to dry up the ground. "Isn't it fine to be dry again?" said Migwan, looking approvingly at her canvas shoes. "For the last three days I've felt like a water-soaked sponge."

"Goodness, but the lake is rough," said Nyoda, watching Sahwah out in a canoe, which was nearly standing on end. Her hair stood out straight behind her in the wind and she reminded Nyoda of the picture of the girl going over the falls in the "Legend of Niagara." "There! I knew she would tip! For goodness sake, what is she doing now?" For Sahwah had climbed on top of the overturned canoe and was trying to paddle it in wrong side up.

She kept her eyes on Sahwah, watching her rather slow progress through the waves, and did not see a party of people who were coming up the path from the road until they were right beside her. Her attention was attracted by a cry from Migwan. She turned and saw a man and woman with a little boy about three years old.

"Why, that's my little boy!" said Migwan. "The one I saw in the woods that morning."

"Then you are the young lady we are looking for," said the man, coming forward. "We have you to thank that we have our boy with us to-day. It was you who put us on the track of the men who had kidnapped him."

"He was kidnapped, then," said Migwan.

"Yes," answered the boy's father, "he was taken from our camp by those two men whom you saw. Thanks to your picture of them we put the police on their trail and caught them in Portland. We are just coming home with him now and wanted to see you. This is Mrs. Bartlett, my wife, and our son Raymond, whom you have already seen."

"Come right up and sit down," said Nyoda cordially, "and tell us all about it. We have been curious to know whether the little boy was ever found or not."

They told how the little boy was missed from their camp that Thursday night, and of their frantic search along the shore, thinking he had fallen into the lake. Then some one found a toy sailboat of his in the woods and they came to the conclusion that he had either wandered off or been carried away. No trace of any abductor could be found, however, and it would have been hard work running the men down if it had not been for Migwan's picture of them with the boy and her report that they were headed for the Loon Lake boat. When found, little Raymond was dressed in girl's clothes and effectually disguised. Then Migwan told the story of her fall down the cliff and her night in the woods and her seeing the three on the path in the morning. It was just like a fairy tale.

"By the way," said Mr. Bartlett when she had finished, "did you know that I had offered a reward of two hundred and fifty dollars to any one giving information which would lead to Raymond's recovery?"

"No," said Migwan, "I didn't."

"Well," said Mr. Bartlett, "that's what I did, and I don't see that any one is entitled to it but yourself. You gave us the only definite clue we had to work on. It gives me great pleasure, madam, to pay my just debts," and he handed Migwan a check.

Migwan stared at the slip of paper in a dazed fashion. She could not comprehend the good fortune that had suddenly come to her. Then she handed the check back to Mr. Bartlett. "I can't take your money," she said. "I really didn't do anything, you know."

"That's all right," said Mr. Bartlett, waving her back. "You did a whole lot more than you know, young lady. Just think of the worry and anxiety you have saved us! It's worth the money, every cent of it. I only wish I could offer a larger reward."

So Migwan, still protesting, was forced to accept the check, and the Bartletts rose to go. "Come over and see us sometime," said Mrs. Bartlett cordially, "and bring all the girls along. You might have a sleeping party on our lawn."

"That will be fine, and I accept the invitation in behalf of my girls," said Nyoda, as she accompanied them to the road where their car stood.

Up on the shack porch Migwan was the center of an excited group, and the check was passed from hand to hand. Sahwah sighed enviously and wished with all her heart that she might be the heroine of the hour.

"What are you going to do with all that money?" asked one of the girls.

"It looks," said Migwan in an awed tone, hugging the precious check in her hands, "as if I were really going to college, after all!"

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