The Camp Fire Girls at School; Or, The Wohelo Weavers


or, The Wohelo Weavers

By Hildegard G. Frey

Author of

”The Camp Fire Girls in the Maine Woods”,”The Camp Fire Girls at Onoway House”,”The Camp Fire Girls Go Motoring.”




”Speaking of diaries,” said Gladys Evans, ”what do you think of this forone?” She spread out a bead band, about an inch and a half wide and ayard or more long, in which she had worked out in colors the main eventsof her summer's camping trip with the Winnebago Camp Fire Girls. Thegirls dropped their hand work and crowded around Gladys to get a betterlook at the band, which told so cleverly the story of their wonderfulsummer.

”Oh, look,” cried ”Sahwah” Brewster, excitedly pointing out the figures,”there's Shadow River and the canoe floating upside down, and Ed Robertsserenading Gladys--only it turned out to be Sherry serenading Nyoda--andthe Hike, and the Fourth of July pageant, and everything!” TheWinnebagos were loud in their expressions of admiration, and the ”Don'tyou remembers” fell thick and fast as they recalled the events depictedin the bead band.

It was a crisp evening in October and the Winnebagos were having theirWork Meeting at the Bradford house, as the guests of Dorothy Bradford,or ”Hinpoha,” as she was known in the Winnebago circle. Here were allthe girls we left standing on the boat dock at Loon Lake, looking justthe same as when we saw them last, a trifle less sunburned perhaps, butjust as full of life and spirit. Scissors, needles and crochet hooksflew fast as the seven girls and their Guardian sat around the cheerfulwood fire in the library. Sahwah was tatting, Gladys and Migwan wereembroidering, and Miss Kent, familiarly known as ”Nyoda,” the Guardianof the Winnebago group, was ”mending her hole-proof hose,” as shelaughingly expressed it. The three more quiet girls in the circle,Nakwisi the Star Maiden, Chapa the Chipmunk, and Medmangi the MedicineMan Girl, were working out their various symbols in crochet patterns.Hinpoha was down on the floor popping corn over the glowing logs andturning over a row of apples which had been set before the fireplace towarm. The firelight streaming over her red curls made them shine likeburning embers, until it seemed as if some of the fire had escaped fromthe grate and was playing around her face. Every few minutes she reachedout her hand and dealt a gentle slap on the nose of ”Mr. Bob,” a youngcocker spaniel attached to the house of Bradford, who persistently triedto take the apples in his mouth. Nyoda finally came to the rescue anddiverted his attention by giving him her darning egg to chew. The roomwas filled with the light-hearted chatter of the girls. Sahwah wasrelating with many giggles, how she had gotten into a scrape at school.

”And old Professor Fuzzytop made me bring all my books and sit up atthat little table beside his desk for a week. Of course I didn't mindthat a bit, because then I could see what _everybody_ in the room wasdoing instead of just the few around me. The only thing I prayed for wasthat Miss Muggins wouldn't come in and see me, because she has taken asort of fancy to me and makes it easy for me in Latin, but if I everfall from grace she won't pass me. But of all the luck, right in themiddle of the Fourth Hour when everybody was in the room studying, inshe walked. I saw her as she opened the door and quick as a wink Iopened up the big dictionary on the table and buried my nose in it, soshe'd think I had gone up there of my own accord. She stopped and lookedat me, then patted me encouragingly on the shoulder and remarked what astudious girl I was. I thought everybody in the room would die tryingnot to laugh, but nobody gave me away. She came in during the FourthHour for several days after that, and every time I flew to thesheltering arms of the dictionary, and she always made some approvingremark out loud. Now she thinks I'm a shark and I have a better stand-inthan ever with her. She told her Senior session room that there was agirl in the Junior room who was so keen after knowledge that no matterwhen she came into the room she always found her consulting thedictionary!”

Sahwah's imitation of the elderly and precise Miss Muggins was so closethat the girls shrieked with laughter. Even Nyoda, who was a ”faculty,”and should have been the ally of the deluded instructor, was too muchamused to say a word. ”By the way, Sahwah,” she said when the laughterhad died down, ”how are you coming on in Latin? The last time I saw youyour Cicero had a strangle hold on you.” Sahwah made a fearful grimace,and recited sarcastically:

”Not showers to larks more pleasing, Not sunshine to the bee, Not sleep to toil more easing, Than Latin prose to me!

”The flocks shall leave the mountains, The dew shall flee the rose, The nymphs forsake the fountains, Ere I forsake my prose!”

Nyoda laughed and shook her head at Sahwah, and ”Migwan,” otherwiseElsie Gardiner, looked up at the despiser of prose composition in mildwonderment. ”I don't see how you can make such a fuss about learningLatin,” she said, ”it's the least of my troubles.”

”But I'm not such a genius as you,” answered Sahwah, ”and my head won'tstand the strain.” Her mental limitations did not seem to cause her anyanxiety, however, for she hummed a merry tune as she drew her tattingshuttle in and out.

Migwan leaned back in her chair and looked around the tastefullyfurnished room with quiet enjoyment. This library in the Bradford housewas a never-ending delight to her. It was finished in dark oak and thewalls were hung with a rich brown paper. The floor was polished andcovered with oriental rugs, whose patterns she loved to trace. At oneend of the room was a big fireplace and on each side of it a cozy seat,piled with tapestry covered cushions. Over the fireplace hung twoslender swords, the property of some departed Bradford. The handsomechairs were upholstered in brown leather to match the other furnishings,and everything in the room, from the Italian marble Psyche on itspedestal in the corner to the softly glowing lamps, gave the impressionof wealth and culture. Migwan contrasted it with the shabby sitting roomin her own home and sighed. She was keenly responsive to beautifulsurroundings and would have been happy to stay forever in this library.But beautiful as the furnishings were, they were the least part of theattraction. The real drawing card were the books that filled the caseson three sides of the room. There were books of every kind; fiction,poetry, history, travel, science; and whole sets of books in handsomebindings that Migwan fairly revelled in whenever she came to visit.Hinpoha herself was not fond of reading anything but fiction, andalthough she had the freedom of all the cases she never looked atanything but ”story books.” Before her parents went to Europe they hadtried making her keep an average of one book of fiction to one ofanother kind in the hope of instilling into her a love for essays andhistory, but in the absence of her father and mother, history and essayswere having a long vacation and fiction was working overtime.

”Let's play something,” said Sahwah when the apples and popcorn haddisappeared; ”I'm tired of sitting still.”

”Can't somebody please think of a new game?” said Hinpoha. ”We've playedeverything we know until I'm sick of it.”

”I thought of one the other day,” said Gladys quietly. ”I named it the'Camp Fire Game.' You play it like Stage Coach, or Fruit Basket, onlyinstead of taking parts of a coach or names of fruits you take articlesthat belong to the Camp Fire, like bead band, ring, moccasin, bracelet,fire, honor beads, symbol, fringe, Wohelo, hand sign, bow and drill,Mystic Fire, etc. Then somebody tells a story about Camp Fire Girls, andevery time one of those articles is mentioned every one must get up andturn around. But if the words 'Ceremonial Meeting' or 'Council Fire' arementioned, then all must change seats and the story teller tries to geta seat in the scramble, and the one who gets left out has to go on withthe story.”

”Good!” cried Nyoda, ”let's play it. You tell the story first.”

Gladys stood up in the center of the room and began: ”Once upon a timethere were a group of Camp Fire Girls called the Winnebagos, and theywent to school in the Professors' big tepee on the avenue, where theypursued knowledge for all they were worth. So much wisdom did theyimbibe that it was necessary to wear a head band to keep their headsfrom splitting open. Wherever they went they were immediately recognizedby their rings and bracelets, and were pointed out as 'those dreadfulyoung savages.' The professors and teachers hoped every day that theywould not come to school, but they never stayed away because theyreceived honor beads from their Guardian Mother for not being absent.Sometimes it seemed as if the tricks they did in class room could onlyhave been accomplished by their having consulted one another, and yet itwas impossible to catch them whispering in class because they alwaysconversed by hand signs. However, this also led to disaster one day whenone of our well-beloved sisters of the bow and drill tried to make thehand sign for 'girl,' and raised her hand above her head. The Big Chief,who was conducting the lesson, thought she wanted something, and saidbenevolently: 'What is your desire?' Absent-mindedly she replied, 'It ismy desire to become a Camp Fire Girl and obey the Law of the Camp Fire,which is to seek beauty, give service, pursue knowledge, be trustworthy,hold on to health, glorify work, and be happy,' 'Begone,' said the BigChief, 'what do you think this is, a Ceremonial Meeting?'”

At the words ”Ceremonial Meeting” all the girls jumped up to changeplaces, and in the scramble a vase was knocked off the table and broken.Every one sat rooted to the spot with fright, all except Mr. Bob, whofled at the sound of the crash as if he had been the guilty one. Hinpohacalmly collected the pieces and carried them out. ”My mother will beextremely grateful to you for this when she comes home,” she said. ”Ifthere was one vase in the house she hated it was this one. My AuntPhoebe brought it from the World's Fair in Chicago and thinks it's thechief ornament of our home. Won't mother be glad when she finds itbroken and she can prove that none of us did it?” The tension relaxedand the girls breathed easily again.

”When are your mother and father coming home?” asked Nyoda.

”They sailed last week on the _Francona_,” answered Hinpoha.

”Weren't you worried to death to have them in Europe so long with thewar going on?” asked Migwan.

”No, not much,” said Hinpoha, ”because they have been in Switzerland allthe while, which is safe enough, and as they are coming home on aneutral vessel they have had no trouble getting passage. They should behere in a week.” And Hinpoha's eyes shone with a great, glad light, foralthough she had been having the jolliest time imaginable, doing as shepleased in the house, which was in the care of easy-going ”Aunt Grace,”who never cared a bit what Hinpoha did so long as it did not bother her,she missed her mother sorely, and could hardly wait until she returned.Nyoda saw the transfigured look that came into her eyes when she spokeof her mother's home coming, and her own eyes went dim, for her motherhad died when she was just Hinpoha's age.

After the breaking of the vase the game stopped and the girls sat downagain in a quiet circle. ”Do you know,” said Nyoda, ”that bead bandGladys made has given me an idea? Why can't we keep a personal record inbead work? It would be a great deal more interesting and picturesquethan keeping a diary, and there would be no danger of your little sistergetting hold of it and reading your secrets out loud to her friends.”

”It's a great idea,” said Migwan, who had always kept a diary and hadsuffered much from an inquisitive brother and sister.

”Besides,” said Sahwah, ”think how exciting it would be at CeremonialMeetings, to sit with your life story hanging around your neck, and knowthat your neighbor was just breaking _her_ neck trying to figure outwhat the little pictures meant. Wouldn't old Fuzzytop love to be able toread mine, though!” And Sahwah giggled extravagantly as she saw in hermind's eye the bead record of some of her activities in the Juniorsession room.

”Now, about all our activities,” continued Nyoda, ”are covered by theseven points of the Camp Fire Law, so that everything we do eitherfulfills or breaks the Law. What do you say if we register ourcommendable doings in colors, but record the event in black every timewe break the Law?”

The girls thought this would be a fascinating game, and Sahwah remarkedthat she must send to the Outfitting Company for a bunch of black beadsdirectly, as she had only a very few left.

”It's a good thing we didn't keep this record last summer,” said Gladyswith a thoughtful look in her eyes, ”or mine would have been black fromone end to the other.”

”It wouldn't, either,” said Sahwah vehemently. ”You did more for us inthe end than we ever did for you. And my sins were as scarlet as yours,every bit.”

Since that terrible day in camp Gladys seemed to have been made over,and never once reverted to her old selfishness and superciliousness, sothat she now had the love and esteem of every one of the Winnebagos. Allmention of her old short-comings was quickly silenced by Sahwah, who nowadored her, heart and soul. Gladys's entrance into the public schoolafter two years at Miss Russell's had caused quite a stir among thegirls of the neighborhood, who in times past had been wont to considerher proud and haughty, but her simple, unaffected manner quickly won forher a secure place in the affections of all. Teachers and scholars alikeloved her.

Sahwah was still counting up her own misdemeanors at camp when theEvans's automobile came for Gladys, and reluctantly all the girlsprepared to go home. It always seemed harder to break away fromHinpoha's house than from any of the others'. In spite of the richfurnishings it had a cozy, homey atmosphere of being used from one endto the other, and no guest, however humble, ever felt awkward or out ofplace there. Thus it usually happens that when people are entirely atease in their own surroundings, they soon make others feel the same waytoo.