The Camp Fire Girls at Half Moon Lake
CAMP FIRE GIRLS
HALF MOON LAKE
Author of “The Ranch Girls” Series, “The Red Cross Girls” Series, etc.
THE JOHN C. WINSTON CO.
Copyright 1921, by
The John C. Winston Company
STORIES ABOUT CAMP FIRE GIRLS
List of Titles in the Order of their Publication
- The Camp Fire Girls at Sunrise Hill
- The Camp Fire Girls Amid the Snows
- The Camp Fire Girls in the Outside World
- The Camp Fire Girls Across the Sea
- The Camp Fire Girls’ Careers
- The Camp Fire Girls in After Years
- The Camp Fire Girls at the Edge of the Desert
- The Camp Fire Girls at the End of the Trail
- The Camp Fire Girls Behind the Lines
- The Camp Fire Girls on the Field of Honor
- The Camp Fire Girls in Glorious France
- The Camp Fire Girls in Merrie England
- The Camp Fire Girls at Half Moon Lake
- Chapter Page
- I. Indian Summer 7
- II. Half Moon Lake 19
- III. Old Friends 29
- IV. The Hermit 43
- V. A Conversation and a Loss 57
- VI. “A Man for a’ That” 72
- VII. Friendship 83
- VIII. Midwinter 92
- IX. The Poet’s Corner 107
- X. Holiday Guests 116
- XI. Juliet Temple 128
- XII. Friends That Were 142
- XIII. Anxious Waiting 154
- XIV. Christmas Eve 162
- XV. Romance 173
- XVI. An Encounter 195
- XVII. Closed In 204
- XVIII. Spring 212
- “I am a Stranger in This Locality,” He Explained Frontispiece
- For a Moment the Man Stared in Silence 59
- Sally’s Hands Beat Against the Closed Door 160
- “I Wish You Would Help Me About Something,” She Said 189
The Camp Fire Girls
At Half Moon Lake
Two girls were following a narrowtrail.
About them the woods were scarletand flame, golden and bronze, and incontrast the blue-green depth of tall pineand cedar trees.
Down a steep hill the trail led; on eitherside a thick underbrush of wild grapevinesand blackberries that twisted and sprawled,showing shriveled clumps of seed pods whereformerly the fruit had ripened.
One of the girls, wearing a corduroy costumeof hunter’s green and a tam-o-shanterof the same shade, was carrying a rifle,while over her shoulder hung a brace ofrabbits and half a dozen quail.
Following close behind her the secondgirl’s costume was of the same character,a short skirt and coat with leather leggingsand high boots, but of dark blue.
“Do you think we are lost, Gill?” sheinquired cheerfully.
Her companion shook her head.
“Well, as David Murray says, we arewhere we shouldn’t be and don’t knowwhere we are, but I should never call thatbeing lost, would you, Bettina?”
Grasping a small birch tree firmly so asnot to be obliged to continue her descent,and forcing Bettina to imitate her example,Gill turned halfway around.
“To get down this hill and find our campbefore dusk I suggest that we follow thefashion set by ‘The Waters at Lodore’.I am not sufficiently literary to recall theexact lines of the poem, I leave that to you,Princess, but there was something abouttheir dashing, splashing and tumbling, somethingquick and active, and in contrast toour methods for this past hour. Farewell,valor at present is the better part of discretion,to transpose the axiom.”
As she ceased speaking, releasing theslender young tree and bracing her feettogether, Mary Gilchrist began to slidedown the steep incline.
In the heart of the Adirondack forest itwas now early in the month of Novemberand about four o’clock in the afternoon.Overhead the sun was still shining and thesky a warm blue, yet from the ground arosea light mist, playing in and out amid theunderbrush and the bases of the trees,ethereal and evanescent, the floating draperiesof unseen fairies holding an autumncarnival.
Bettina Graham continued her downwardprogress more slowly and cautiously.
Over the trail beech leaves and birchleaves and the long fingers of the pine hadblown in little drifts of amber and greenwhich, mixing with the decaying wood andwet earth, formed a slippery aisle.
Ten minutes elapsed before Bettina rejoinedher companion. She then discoveredMary Gilchrist seated upon an overturnedlog, her gun and game on the ground besideher, her hat in her lap, while she shook bitsof brushwood, twigs and leaves from herhair and removed them from her apparel.
The autumn sun shone through an archof branches overhead on the red-brown ofher hair, on her eyes so nearly the samecolor, on her healthy, lightly freckled skin,and her full, irregular lips.
“I am glad the turn in the trail concealedthe latter part of my prowess as a mountaineer,Bettina. I certainly came downswiftly enough toward the end. In fact, Ihad hard work holding on to my rifle,”Gill announced, shaking her head a secondtime so that a bronze leaf slid on to theearth. “But if I lost my dignity I did notlose my gun or game.”
“You are not hurt, are you, Gill?”Bettina asked, looking with admiration andamusement at her companion.
Then as she shook her head:
“Do you know, Gill, it has been a curiousfact in our Camp Fire life together, livingas we have for the past few years in differentplaces and under such a variety of conditions,to find here and there one of usdiscover the environment for which shemust have been intended. Vera Lagerloffand Alice Ashton, for instance, were attheir best when doing reconstruction workin France. You, Gill, were very busy anduseful over there, and yet no one has knownthe real you until these past few weeks inthe mountains. Yet why should this betrue when you lived all your past life inthe western prairie country until yourdesire to drive a motor in France led youto join our Camp Fire and help with therelief work?”
“I sometimes feel that I have not yetfound my true environment. Do youremember the wonderful new play Tanteread aloud the other evening, ‘Beyond theHorizon’, whose theme is that each humanbeing must live in harmony with his ownnature, else he will never find happinessor success?”
Mary Gilchrist smiled.
“I remember it after a fashion, but,Bettina dear, please don’t ask me to understandliterary subtleties. You know thereis no one in the world who cares less thanI for books, although to my shame I confessit, but I don’t believe I ever read or studiedvoluntarily save when I thought it my duty.Every interest with me is an outdoor interestand I confess I have never loved any placeso well as these Adirondack forests. Somewherein my past I must have had anIndian ancestor, not a squaw, but a greatchief who roamed these hills, hunting andfishing, sleeping and living outdoors whenit was possible, because I feel at presentas if I never wished to do anything else,except perhaps see my friends and familynow and then. But enough of conversation,Bettina, woodsmen or woodswomenwe have been told were a silent race andwe must learn the law of the woods. WhatI really would like to know is in whatdirection we should travel to reach campin the shortest length of time. We havebeen following a deer trail I believe thathas led us nowhere. However, we cannotbe many miles out of the way. We mustmove now toward the west, and, Bettina,let’s not separate again, you know you haveno sense of direction once you are morethan a mile away from camp.”
Unable to dispute this assertion, BettinaGraham, who was beginning to grow tiredwhile her companion appeared as fresh aswhen they set out, followed obedientlybeside her.
A half hour longer they walked, Gillrarely hesitating, although keeping her compassin her hand and glancing at it occasionally,when suddenly both girls stopped short.
They were not alone in this portion ofthe woods. Not far off some one else wasmoving, finding the way slowly and uncertainly.
Mary Gilchrist glanced at her rifle, whichshe carried with skill and assurance.
“I cannot imagine who can be in thewoods at so late an hour. I must try andfind out.”
Placing her fingers on her lips the girluttered a shrill, clear call.
A moment later she repeated the call.
Then both girls heard a voice shoutingin a tone of mingled terror and relief.
“I have lost my path. Won’t some onecome and find me? I can never manageto reach you.”
The girls exchanged glances.
“A lost knight in the dark forest, Bettina!Well, these are the days when women arethe modern crusaders, so let us to therescue!”
Not many minutes after, the two girlscame upon a young man of about twentylying gracefully outstretched on the groundupon a fragrant bed of balsam, with an openbook in his hands.
As Bettina and Mary drew near he arose.
“I was resting,” he explained, “knowingthat you would have less difficulty in discoveringme if I remained quiet in onespot.”
His manner was so self-possessed andself-assured that Bettina smiled, observing,however, that Gill appeared annoyed.
Small wonder! Their faces were flushed,their clothes covered with brambles fromtheir search, while he showed no sign ofdiscomfort. His hair, worn longer thanwas usual, was of a bright gold, his skinpallid and his cheeks slightly sunken,making his long, curiously shaped grayeyes more conspicuous.
“Yes, one can see you have not disturbedyourself,” Gill returned. “Yet if you wishto be out of the woods before twilight, youhad best make some effort. FortunatelyI discovered the trail we were seeking whilelooking for you. Please follow me.”
She turned sharply and moved off, herfigure vanishing between the trees, everyinch of her body alert, vigorous, almostboyish, with her rifle and game over hershoulder.
Nevertheless the newcomer glanced ather with an expression of disapproval,while his eyes sought Bettina for sympathy.
“I am a stranger in this locality,” heexplained. “I intend spending the winterat a cabin in one of the clearings. ‘Long,long is the autumn dream in these corridorsof heaven’,” he quoted.
“Yes, I know,” Bettina answered; “still,I think it might be just as well not to discussthe beauty surrounding us for a shorttime and follow our guide. You cannotdepend on me and I am sure you appearto be an equally unreliable woodsman.Gill,” Bettina called, realizing that Gillwas walking more rapidly than usual andthat they might be forced to run ratherthan lose sight of her.
Out of breath they both were whenfinally they caught up. A few yards fartheron, the path broadened, leading betweenan avenue of sugar maples raining goldenleaves.
“You have been hunting,” the youngman remarked in an effort to induce MaryGilchrist to behave as if she were aware ofhis existence.
The fact was too obvious to require ananswer, notwithstanding Gill nodded.
“Do you actually mean you have shotand killed those pretty little things yourself,those gentle, furry rabbits with theirsoft eyes and cotton tails and the quail onecan hear calling to one another with theirsweet, throaty notes? The wild animalsone might be willing to destroy, althoughI scarcely think that fair in their ownhaunts. Surely a portion of this worldshould be reserved to them as well! Buteven when one reconciles oneself to theidea of a man hunting, the thought of awoman or girl being willing to kill is beyondmy conception.”
Bettina saw the hot color flood Gill’scheeks, saw her bite her lips.
“Well, you may now broaden your conceptions!I have been hunting since I wasa little girl, was taught by my father agood many years ago. Do you know Ihave an idea, that were we to invite youto have dinner with us to-night, no onewould enjoy the game I have just killedmore than you. There are so many peoplein this world who like to sentimentalizeand leave the hard work to others, whilethey enjoy the results. You were quitewilling to remain on your couch of balsamneedles this afternoon while we scoured thewoods in search of you. Your plan is anexcellent one, so long as it is successful.Never do the difficult or disagreeable tasks;always find some one to do them for you.”
Ordinarily gay and sweet tempered, Bettinaglanced