The Camp Fire Girls at Driftwood Heights
The Camp Fire Girls at Driftwood Heights
“It’s the worst example of pure and unadulterated nerve I’ve ever heard of,” cried Jane Pellew inelegantly.
recited Ruth Garnier in clear, purposeful tones.
For a brief instant following her spokenpledge, an eloquent silence reigned over thecircle of picturesque figures seated about thebrightly-blazing camp fire. Then a storm ofacclamation rent the still night air, echoing andre-echoing among the giant oaks that hemmedin the company of ardent fire-worshippers. Tohear Ruth Garnier repeat the desire of theTorch Bearer was indeed sufficient reason forapplause on the part of her comrades of schooland Camp Fire. No one of them was morehonestly deserving of that honor than sunny,self-reliant Ruth. It was the highest to whichshe could attain as a Camp Fire Girl until thepassing of years should render her eligible tothe post of Guardian.
Her cheeks flaming at this unexpected tributeto herself, Ruth resumed her place in the widecircle of girls to the accompaniment of the ringingvocal cheer, “Wo-he-lo for aye!”
She was feeling strangely humble and a bitoverwhelmed at the ovation. At no time vainglorious,she found it hard to conceive of whyher promotion to Torch Bearer should elicitsuch a lively clamor of appreciation. As onein a dream, she listened to Miss Drexal, theGuardian, as the latter proceeded to dwell flatteringlyupon the new Torch Bearer’s goodqualities, expressing her pleasure at Ruth’sadvancement in the Camp Fire Association.
It was not until the chorus of fresh youngvoices had begun their beautiful good-nightsong, “Now Our Camp Fire’s Burning Low,”that Ruth emerged sufficiently from her tranceof wondering happiness to join in the singing.As she sang, a tender smile flickered abouther mobile lips. She knew that among thosepresent a sextette of loyal friends was impatientlylonging for the Council Fire to end,so that they might tender their more personalcongratulations.
To the group of girls known as the HillsideCamp Fire belonged not only Ruth, but her sixchums, Betty Wyndham, Jane Pellew, FrancesBliss, Sarah Manning, Anne Follett and EmmelineCerrito. Brought into intimate companionshipduring their first year at Miss Belaire’sAcademy, the seven young women had foundmuch in common. In “THE CAMP FIRE GIRLS ATHILLSIDE” the story of how they met, and oneby one became interested in the Camp Firemovement, has already been told.
Later, when the longed-for summer vacationbrought them together again for a month’s stayin the Catskills at a house party given byBetty Wyndham, their Camp Fire zeal receivedfresh impetus. It was while they were at Wanderer’sRoost, the Wyndhams’ cottage, thatthey came into the real meaning of the wordcomradeship.
Strangely enough it was the eighth memberof the house party, Marian Selby, an unwelcomecousin of Ruth Garnier’s, who showedthem the way. Out of a series of dark misunderstandings,which bade fair to wreck thatpromised month of unalloyed pleasure, rosethe Equitable Eight, of whom Marian eventuallybecame the best-loved member. A completerecord of their eventful sojourn in theCatskills has been set down in “THE CAMP FIREGIRLS AT LOOKOUT PASS.”
And now their second year at Miss Belaire’swas rapidly drawing to a close. So far as theseven Hillside members of the Equitable Eightwere concerned, it had been a year of concentratedendeavor, not only as students, butas Camp Fire Girls as well. Devoted followersof the great movement whose watchwordsare, “Work, Health and Love,” they had laboredconscientiously to forward it at the academy.The Hillside Camp Fire, to which they belonged,now boasted of its full quota of members. Theoverflow of converts to it had formed themselvesinto a second group known as the DrexalCamp Fire, named in honor of Miss Drexal,Guardian of the Hillside group, who, with Ruth,had worked unceasingly to organize this secondbranch.
On the balmy evening in June which markedthe elevation of Ruth to Torch Bearer, the twogroups had joined forces in a grand CouncilFire, as a fitting wind-up to the meetings whichhad been regularly held during the school year.Though each Camp Fire had its own particularout-door rendezvous, the two groups hadelected to hold their last Council Fire at theHillside meeting-place. It was an ideal spot,less than half a mile from the Academy, andsituated in a natural grove of magnificent oaks.
Due to a long warm fall and an especiallymild winter, the Hillside group had made ita point to hold as few meetings as possibleindoors by candle light. Only in the case ofsevere storm had they reconciled themselves tothe lesser freedom of the house. To quoteRuth’s frequent sturdy assertion: “Camp FireGirls aren’t supposed to mind a little thing likebad weather.” Her own enthusiasm in themovement always bubbling over, it was notstrange that the others in her group had becomegradually imbued with the same spirit. Neitherwas it to be wondered at that those to whomshe had been an inspiration to good workswere now unselfishly glad to see her thus publiclycome into her own.
“Hurrah for our Ruth!” was the first jubilantexclamation that greeted her ears, theinstant the Council Fire had ended. FrancesBliss had pounced upon Ruth with the joyousabandon of a playful bear-cub, and was huggingher vigorously.
Free at last to express their individual gratification,her six intimate friends now crowdedabout her, each one more eager than the nextto make herself heard.
“I’m so pleased and so proud of you, Ruth,”was Anne Follett’s affectionate tribute, as Ruthemerged, rosy and laughing, from Frances’devastating embrace.
“So are the rest of the Equitable Eight,”caroled Jane Pellew, her sharp black eyes glowing.“I speak for Marian, too. It’s just whatshe’d say if she were here.”
“You truly deserved the honor, Ruth,” chimedin Betty Wyndham. “It was positively thrillingto hear you repeat the Torch Bearer’sDesire.” Betty had been keenly alive to thedramatic value of the ceremony.
“It was just like a play, wasn’t it, Betty?”teased Sarah Manning.
“Certainly it was,” agreed Betty, calmlyignoring Sarah’s intent to tease. “Still I can’tsee that your remark is strictly in the natureof a congratulation,” she added slyly.
“Oh, I hadn’t got that far yet,” was Sarah’sunabashed retort. “But here goes. Most estimableand magnificent Ruth, deign to acceptthe humble and heartfelt congratulations of yourlowly admirer, Sarey. Profiting by yourunparalleled example, I shall live in the fondhope that sometime during the next hundredyears I shall be elevated to a like honor.”
“Fine!” applauded Frances. “Plain Janeand I will proceed to live in the fond hopethat we’ll be there to see it. We may be atrifle time-worn and wobbly by that time, butnevertheless, we’ll be there.”
“You needn’t include me in your calculations,”cut in Jane scornfully. “I shall growold gracefully and never wobble.”
“You only think you won’t,” beamed Frances.“But never mind. No matter what relentlessfate Time may bring you, Plain Jane, I shallbe on hand to aid and sustain your totteringsteps. I refuse to be deprived of my chiefpillar of argument.”
“Oh, dear, they’ve begun,” moaned Sarah.“Won’t somebody please stop them?”
“I don’t understand you, Sarah.” Francesfixed a reproving eye on the protestant. “Alwaystry to say clearly what you mean, thenwe may perhaps believe that you mean whatyou say.”
“I mean what I say when I say that I don’tintend to argue with you, Frances Bliss. It’sa waste of breath and I—”
“Be calm, children,” laughingly admonishedEmmeline Cerrito. Her gaze fixed intently onRuth, Emmy had thus far remained silent. Thevery expression of her dark eyes was moreeloquent than speech. In reality her light expostulationhad cloaked a depth of emotion whichshe jealously sought to conceal even from herchums. Their second year together as roommateshad served greatly to strengthen thebond between herself and Ruth. A well-nighperfect comradeship now existed between them.Emmy’s happiness in the fulfillment of Ruth’sdesire was second only to that of the latterherself.
“I am calm,” declared Frances. “’Tis thecalm of inspiration. If you don’t believe it,wait a little. I am on the verge of composinga great epic poem in which Sarah, Plain Janeand little Frances are all sweetly mingled. Itbegins, ‘Words, idle words, I know not whatthey mean!’ That’s as far as I’ve progressed.The rest of it will come to me later.”
“I hope it will be after you’ve gone to bedto-night. Then you can’t inflict it upon me,”was Jane’s unappreciative comment.
“What a cruel, unfeeling person you are,Janie.” Frances’ wide smile indicated smallinjury. “Never mind. Sarah can’t escape me.I’ll