Girls of the Morning-Glory Camp Fire
GIRLS OF THE MORNING-GLORY CAMP FIRE
The great burnished top was set to spinning madly upon a flat stone.
The author expresses her indebtedness toDr. Frank G. Speck of the University of Pennsylvaniaand to Dr. Jacob D. Sapir for permissionto reprint the nonsense-syllables and musicof the Leaf Dance, from their records madeamong the Indians, published in “CeremonialSongs of the Creek and Yuchi Indians.”
|I||A Strolling Piano|
|III||Captain Andy Takes Off His Hat|
|IV||The Lakeside Council Fire|
|VI||The Green Cross|
|IX||Wood Gatherers Among The Dunes|
|XIII||Wind Against Tide|
|XV||In the Quicksands’ Grip|
|XVII||A Monogram on a Coin|
|XVIII||The Torch Bearer|
“Why did she choose ‘Morning-Glory’as her tribe name?” asked Mŭnkwŏnthe Rainbow of Sesooā theFlame, as Rainbow and Flame, with girlisharms entwining, stood beneath the shelter of theSilver Twins, two kingly birch-trees, so identicalin stature even to their topmost jeweledcrowns of leaves flashing in the July sun, soalike in the silver symmetry of each fair limb asto be named the Twins.
These silver kings were one-hearted, too, intheir benevolent purpose in life, which was tounite in casting a brotherly shade over a certaincorner of the broad city playground, dottedwith children from every clime, and incidentallyto fan the flushed cheeks of the two girls directlybeneath them, bound together by a girdlingrainbow that played about their waists,woven by the sun’s shuttle amid the quiveringbirch-leaves, fit symbol of their binding CampFire sisterhood.
Sesooā’s eyes danced, lit by a tiny goldenflame that uncurled itself in their demure hazellike a firefly alighting on a brown leaf. Shecaught her lower lip between the pretty incisorsthat decorated the front of her mouth as shescrutinized the semi-distant figure of a sixteen-year-oldgirl—perhaps nearer to seventeen—cladin a loose lavender smock to her knees,whence to her ankles there was a gleam ofwhite skirt, with the most bewitching, frilledsummer “Tam” of lavender, matching hersmock, shielding her brown head, shelteringher face, like the hood of a flower. This floralfigure leaned against the open door of a handsomeautomobile which was standing upon theplayground avenue.
“I’m sure it’s beyond me to tell why JessicaHolley (Jessica Dee Holley; she always likes tobring the unusual little middle name in, becauseit was her mother’s, I suppose), why she choseWelatáwesit, which is the only Indian equivalentshe could find for Morning-Glory—literallymeaning ‘Climbing Plant’ or ‘Pretty Flower’for her Camp Fire name. But I believe there’sa story attached to the choice, some ‘cunning’little anecdote of her childhood. Wish I couldferret it out! She seems, always, to have beencalled ‘Glory,’ nearly as much as Jessica,” answeredSesooā racily, she who in every-daylife bore no flaming cognomen, but was plainlittle, gay little, Sally Davenport, as full of quipsand quirks, of lightning impulses and suddenturns as the wheeling firefly in her eyes.
“Goody! I’d like to hear the anecdote, too.The Morning-Glory name suits her so well thatI thought she must have dreamed it—that itcame to her in sleep—as I dreamed mine,”laughed the Rainbow, whose rightful namewhen she was not clad in a leather-fringed robeof khaki, in moccasins and head-band, andseated by a Council Fire, was Arline Champion.“But I call it absurd, meanly absurd, thatif there’s any story about her and her name,we should not hear it, we who have named ourCamp Fire (and it’s the best in the city, too,though I say it myself!), our whole group ortribe of fourteen girls, after her,” she went onwith a stamp of her foot on the playground sodand with rainbowed emphasis; she was theshell-tinted, demurely shining kind offifteen-year-old girl who unconsciously aims at carryinga rainbow in her pocket, to brighten thedull or tear-wet day.
“Oh! we didn’t exactly ‘name it after her,’”demurred Sally. “She happened to come herelast winter to visit those rich girls, the Deerings,who are all fluff an’ stuff; that exactly describesthem, Olive and Sybil——” There was the leastlittle green tinge of the spitfire about Sesooā’sflame now as she shot a glance toward twogirls seated in the waiting automobile togetherwith an older woman, evidently chaperon tothe band of girls. “Oh! I say, pinch me; Ishouldn’t have said that, should I, seeing thatthey brought us here in their car? But ’twasthe first time they ever did it, though myfather is head-bookkeeper in their father’s officeat the Works; and I’ll engage ’twas Morning-Glory—Jessica—whosuggested it, as we allwanted to visit this playground where thereare so many foreign children, to see them dancetheir folk dances,” she ran on, speech flittingaway from its starting-point in the wake of herfirefly dance, which vivaciously hovered fromone object or group of objects to another.
Arline waited for it to alight again on Jessica,as it presently did.
“Well! as I was saying,” reverted Sally,“you remember how she came here last Februaryjust when we were beginning to organizeour Camp Fire group, when we had securedMiss Darina Dewey as Guardian (I think she’sa love of a Guardian and I like her unusualfirst name, too, though some of the girls don’t!)but before we had applied for our Charter,when we were searching for a name for our newCamp Fire circle, raking over Indian nameslike leaves until—goodness! we seemed half-smotheredin them.” Sally paused for breath,breathlessly smothered, indeed, by the sunlittorrent of her own words, which had a trick ofinundating a listener.
“It was at our second meeting, I think, atMiss Dewey’s house,” she went on, “that Jessicacame in, all snow an’ sparkle from her eyes toher toes, and introduced herself by showing atransfer card signed by the Guardian of aCamp Fire circle in a small town in Pennsylvaniato which she had belonged, the AkiyuhapiCamp Fire.”
“The Are-you-happy Camp Fire! Soundsjust like that!” put in Arline, rainbowed withmirthful memory. “Jessica told us that she hadalready been initiated as a Wood Gatherer andshowed her silver fagot ring. But we were alittle flabbergasted, weren’t we, when shesprang her Indian name on us, by which shehad chosen to be known among Camp Firecircles: Welatáwesit; it sounded musical asshe pronounced it, but it seemed a mouthful!She partly explained it (d’you remember?) bysaying that when she was choosing her symbolicname—as all Camp Fire Girls do—shewanted, for a special reason which she kept toherself, to take that of a flower, Morning-Glory.And that Penobscot Indian word was the nearestshe could get to it, the morning-glory notbeing originally a native plant.”
“Yes, and it was at that very meeting, afterwe had welcomed Jessica with open arms as aCamp Fire Sister”—thus Sally again took upthe fascinating thread of reminiscence—“thatwhen each girl had told her symbolic name,Indian or otherwise, and how she came tochoose it to express some special wish or aim,that we fell back upon digging for one for thenew Camp Fire itself, the new circle or tribe.And then, don’t you remember”—Sesooā’svoice rose to a pitch of excitement—“howBetty Ayres, little fair-haired Betty, who’s soenthusiastic and about as big as aminute—she’s just four feet, five inches and ahalf——”
“My! but your minutes do stretch—likeelastic,” put in Arline, with a rallying elbowpoke.
“Humph! Piffle! Betty jumped up suddenlyas if she saw a vision, with an idea swelling upso big in her that she seemed to grow twoinches on the strength of it. ‘Girls!’ she cried,‘I’m just tired of browsing among Indian dictionaries,searching for a novel name for ournew Camp Fire circle. Why don’t we call it,right away, the Morning-Glory Camp Fire?There’s a name that will reflect glory on us!’said little Betty, half sobbing and half shining.‘It suggests so much—so much that I can’t justput into words of——’”
“‘Of the Morning of Life, the Glory of Girlhood—andvice versa—isn’t that what youmean, Betty dear?’ said our Guardian, helpingher out!” This reminiscent contribution camefrom Arline. “And then Miss Dewey went onto say how she thought herself that it would bea glorious name for us who are Daughters ofthe Sun, so to speak, having the Sun as ourgeneral symbol. So the Morning-Glory CampFire we are! And when we camp out this summerupon the Sugarloaf Peninsula where thesand-dunes are white as snow, we’re going tocall our great, ramshackle wooden shanty, withone side quite open to the airs of heaven, CampMorning-Glory. So much glory that we shan’tknow ourselves, eh? But all this”—slowly—“doesn’tbring us one little bit nearer to answeringthe question which I asked you at first, whyour Glory-girl, Jessica, chose her symbolic nameat the beginning. Since it put so much intoour heads we’ve got a right to know all aboutit!” with another laughing stamp upon theplayground grass. “I can’t bear mystery; ifthere’s a secret as big as my thumb, even