The Camp Fire Girls by the Blue Lagoon

Produced by Al Haines.

Cover art]

Gill Rejoined Him and Was Attempting to Fix Her Hair]

*THE CAMP FIRE GIRLS BY THE BLUE LAGOON*

*BY MARGARET VANDERCOOK*

Author of ”The Ranch Girls” Series, ”The Red Cross Girls” Series, etc.

ILLUSTRATED

PHILADELPHIA THE JOHN C. WINSTON CO. PUBLISHERS

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 an 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 The Camp Fire Girls by the Blue Lagoon

PRINTED IN THE U. S. A.

*CONTENTS*

I. The City of Towers II. The Generations III. Future Plans IV. Natural History V. Renunciation VI. The Box Party VII. The Apartment VIII. The Enigma IX. The House by the Blue Lagoon X. One Night XI. The Same Evening XII. The Camp Fire XIII. The Following Day XIV. An Interview XV. Twisted Coils XVI. The Disappearance XVII. The Return XVIII. The Eternal Way

*ILLUSTRATIONS*

Gill Rejoined Him and Was Attempting to Fix Her Hair . . . Frontispiece

”My Dear Mother, What a Sentimentalist You Are”

”I Wonder if I Shall Ever Make You Understand How Dull You Are on OneParticular Subject”

”I Was Never So Disappointed in Any Human Being in My Life, Sally, As IAm in You”

*The Camp Fire Girls by the Blue Lagoon*

*CHAPTER I*

*THE CITY OF TOWERS*

One afternoon in October two girls were walking down Fifth Avenue. Theywere strangers in New York. One of them, a tall, fair girl, dressed in adark blue tailor suit, furs, and a close-fitting velvet hat, was severalyears older than her companion, who was small with dark eyes, a sallowskin and an oddly unconventional appearance which seemed to accord withher costume, a brown serge cape, a gown of the same material and anold-fashioned poke bonnet of flowered silk.

In another hour the shops would close and the crowds come pouring forthinto the streets.

”Are you tired, Elce? I had forgotten you were never in New York savethe one day when you landed. The hotel is only a few blocks further on,yet perhaps it might have been wiser not to have attempted to walk fromthe station.”

Bettina Graham, who was carrying a small suitcase, made an effort toslacken her pace, her companion with quicker, shorter steps keepingclose beside her.

”No, I am not tired,” she answered, ”it is only the noise that confusesme. I never could have imagined anything like it. Yet I think I oncedreamed of a city like this, of tall towers and streets that are ravinesbetween high cliffs, with the same bright blue sky overhead.”

The older girl smiled.

”You are a fanciful person, but dreaming in New York is a dangerouspastime, where one must watch every foot of the way.”

The afternoon was warm and brilliant, with only a faint suggestion offrost, the shop windows filled with brilliant displays, the streetscrowded with automobiles.

Bettina's expression changed, her eyes shone, her lips parted slightlyas the color swept into her cheeks.

”New York is fascinating, isn't it? One forgets how fascinating evenwhen one has been away only a short time. I do hope I may be able tospend the winter here! But for you, Elce, who have lived almost yourentire life in the country, it must be a wholly new experience. Well,we are both runaways this afternoon!

”There is Mrs. Burton's hotel just around the corner of the next block.At this hour, between five and six o'clock, she must be at home.”

Unconsciously Bettina began to move more rapidly, with the appearance ofa runner whose goal is nearly in sight.

”I'll send up our cards and she will see us at once. I am sorry ourtrain was two hours late. I presume I ought to have telegraphed. Onedoes not enjoy the idea of being alone in New York.” Bettina laughed.”Don't be troubled, there is not the faintest chance of such a disaster.Now that our Camp Fire guardian has returned to the stage and her playbecome one of the greatest successes of the winter, I suppose she doeshave to excuse herself to a good many persons, yet she will scarcelydecline to see us.”

Not talking to her companion so much as to herself, Bettina at the sametime was studying the faces of the passers-by, divided between herinterest in New York, the contagion of the brilliant autumn day and herundoubted nervousness over some personal problem.

Reaching the desired hotel, after an instant's hesitation, the two girlsentered, Bettina feeling an unaccustomed awkwardness and embarrassment.Notwithstanding the fact that she had traveled many miles in the pastfew years in her own country and in Europe, this was the first occasionwhen she had been without a chaperon.

Declining to surrender her suitcase, Bettina asked the clerk to announceher arrival to Mr. and Mrs. Richard Burton. In a measure she feltprepared to have her request refused, as Mrs. Burton would probably wishto be excused to visitors at this hour. She meant to be insistent, evenif necessary to telephone her own name.

The clerk shook his head.

”Sorry, miss, but Captain and Mrs. Burton are not in; they left thishotel four or five days ago and took an apartment of their own.”

”You don't mean they are no longer living here?”

To her own ears Bettina's voice sounded more startled than it should.”Then will you be kind enough to give me their new address, as I wish tofind them at once.”

She thought she saw a faint look of sympathy and regret on the clerk'sface.

”Sorry again, but Captain Burton left strict orders their new addresswas to be given to no one. They do not wish to see strangers. Theirfriends they intend notifying themselves. Perhaps you want Mrs. Burtonto help you to go on the stage, so many young women call on her for thispurpose and she has been giving up so much time to them, Captain Burtondoes not wish her to be disturbed in the future.”

Bettina flushed and frowned.

”No, I am not looking for work and I am not a stranger to Mrs. Burton.She and Captain Burton would wish you to tell me where they are living.Mrs. Burton is a kind of relative, or at least she is an intimatefriend.”

The clerk smiled.

”That is what everyone says. I regret not being able to oblige you, butorders are orders.”

As if Bettina were no longer demanding his attention he turned to someone who had been waiting and was now inquiring for a room.

Wishing to discuss a question of great importance to her own happinesswith her Camp Fire guardian, Bettina had run away from home. The actwas not premeditated. When she made her sudden decision her mother andfather chanced to be spending a few days away from Washington. Norwould they have objected to her journey, save to prefer that she have anolder companion than the little English girl, Elce, originally known asChitty, whom the Camp Fire girls had known during the summer in ”MerrieEngland.”

Bettina had not seen her Camp Fire guardian in six months, not sincetheir parting at Half Moon Lake. Of late, not once, but many times hermother had announced that she would like the benefit of Polly Burton'sadvice on the question which divided them.

So Bettina suddenly had set out on her pilgrimage to New York with thisend in view. To arrive unheralded and not find Mrs. Burton, to becompelled to spend the night with Elce as her only companion would butdeepen her mother's impression that she possessed neither the judgmentnor experience necessary for the independence she desired.

Nothing would be gained by looking inside her pocket book. She knewexactly the amount of money it contained.

After paying for her own and Elce's tickets and an expensive lunch onthe train she had counted it carefully. Seven dollars and forty centsthen had seemed a sufficient amount when she expected to be with herCamp Fire guardian in a few hours; it was woefully insufficient to meetthe expenses of two persons in New York.

There was one friend to whom she might appeal, but this would make herpresent difficulty with her mother the greater. Surely there must besome method of discovering her Camp Fire guardian, if only she were notso stupid that she had no idea what to do next. In any case she wouldnot remain longer in the lobby of the hotel and she declined to questionthe clerk a third time. In the street she would receive freshinspiration.

She and Elce left the hotel.

Outdoors no new idea immediately occurred to her. It seemed strangethat her mother had not mentioned Mrs. Burton's change of address: asthey never failed to write each other once a week, undoubtedly she mustknow. Then Bettina recalled the fact that she and her mother had hadbut little to say to each other of late, since no matter upon whatsubject they started to talk, always the conversation veered to thedifference between them.

”Don't be worried, dear, I shall be able to think what to do in a fewmoments,” Bettina remarked, with more courage than conviction. ”It wasridiculous for the hotel management to decline to give me Tante's changeof address. She and Captain Burton will both be annoyed; the clerkshould have known they might wish some exception to be made to theirorder.”

Elce nodded, regretting that she was unable to offer any advice and yetperfectly content to abide by Bettina's judgment. In a strange andunfamiliar world, Bettina was her one anchor. Sent to a boardingschool, from loneliness and longing for the outdoors, Elce had fallenill, and unable to continue at school, Bettina's home had been herrefuge.

At present the younger girl was finding it difficult to keep herattention concentrated upon the object of their quest, the city noisesso excited and confused her. With her strange musical gift she long hadbeen able to reproduce the country sounds, the singing of certain birds,the wind in the trees, now she seemed faintly aware of some hiddenharmony amid the thousand discords of the city streets.

Again her companion brought her back from her day dreaming.

”I believe I will look in the telephone book, as it is just possibleTante may have kept her former telephone number and had it transferredto her new address. If you do not mind waiting, here is a publictelephone booth.”

Five minutes later with her expression a little more cheerful, Bettinarejoined the younger girl.

”I have discovered an apartment in Fifth Avenue which may be Tante's.At least it is occupied by a Mr. and Mrs. Richard Burton. As no oneanswered the telephone, suppose we take the Fifth Avenue bus and see ifby a stroke of good fortune we have located the right place. I do hopeso. If not, I suppose we can find a quiet hotel and spend the nightthere, or if not go to a Y.W.C.A. and explain our difficulty. In themorning I fear we must return to Washington and there humbly inquire forTante's address. I might telegraph of course, but as mother and fatherare not at home, to find we have vanished before they receive the letterI left for them, will annoy and frighten them. Heigh-ho, it is apuzzling world, Elce dear; when I thought I was attempting a simplejourney for a good cause here I am in an entirely unexpected tangle!”

In spite of her uncertainty, for she had but little assurance of findingher guardian, Bettina could not fail to enjoy the ride up Fifth Avenuein the crowded bus. Not yet dark, still here and there lights wereshining in the office buildings, while the throngs of people hurryinghome grew constantly larger. The bus passed the low, classic stonebuilding she recognized as the New York Public Library, then a group ofmagnificent houses and hotels and the entrance to Central Park.

At Sixty-first Street and Fifth Avenue Bettina and her companiondismounted.

Half a block further on they entered a handsome apartment building.

”Will you telephone up and ask either Mr. or Mrs. Richard Burton to seeMiss Bettina Graham,” Bettina asked the elevator boy. ”I won't giveyour name, Elce; it is better that I explain later and the two namesmight be confusing,” she whispered, more uneasy than she cared toconfess even to herself.

The reply brought a flush of color to Bettina's cheeks. She was to”come up at once.”

”I am afraid I am a good deal relieved. In truth I am so tired I shalltumble into bed as soon as dinner is over and not try to have a longtalk with Tante before morning. Probably she would prefer me to wait, asshe will soon be leaving for the theater. I hope her apartment is notvery small, but in any case she will have to find room for us to-night,”Bettina managed to confide on the way up to the fifth floor.

The moment she had rung the bell, the door opened.

Bettina and Elce found themselves confronting a young man of abouteighteen or nineteen years of age.

”Won't you come in? I believe you wish to see my mother. I did notcatch your name, but she will be at home in a few moments. Theapartment has been deserted all afternoon, but I am sure she won't bemuch longer away.”

An absurd instant Bettina forgot her dignity and the number of her yearsand suffered an impulse to shed tears. She was tired and it was late.She felt the responsibility for her companion. Of course she should nothave rushed to New York in this impetuous fashion without her mother'sknowledge, or informing her Camp Fire guardian of her intention.

”You are very kind. I am sorry to have troubled you, but it is not yourmother I am looking for. I was afraid I was making a mistake. I amseeking for another Mrs. Richard Burton and merely hoped that this mightprove to be her address.”

”You are convinced it is not.” The young fellow's manner was so kindthat Bettina felt slightly less depressed. ”Suppose you tell mesomething of the Mrs. Burton you _do_ wish to find, give me some kind ofa clue and I may be able to help you.”

”Well, I scarcely know how to explain. I came to New York under theimpression that Mr. and Mrs. Burton were at a hotel where I know theyhave been for a number of months and unexpectedly learned they hadmoved.”

”Surely you could have inquired where they have gone!”

Scarcely conscious of how cross and tired she appeared, Bettina frowned.

”Oh, of course I inquired, but the hotel clerk refused to inform me.Mrs. Burton's play this winter is a great success and I suppose so manypeople have called on her that she felt obliged to refuse to permit heraddress to be given to strangers, and I was unable to convince the clerkI was an old friend.”

Bettina and Elce were about to turn away.

”Do you mean you are trying to discover the Mrs. Burton who is PollyO'Neill Burton, and is acting in the new play known as 'A Tide in theAffairs'? I saw it only a few nights ago. Why do you not go to hertheater and inquire where she lives. The theater is at Forty-seventhand Broadway. If you do not receive the information you could waituntil Mrs. Burton arrives. I wish you would allow my mother to go withyou. If I were only another girl I might be useful. As I am not, Idon't dare propose to accompany you. But there are two of you, so Isuppose you will be all right, although I don't like the idea of yourgoing to a theater at this hour alone.”

Bettina smiled, forgetting in her evident relief to be as conventionalas was usual with her.

”I am very much obliged to you. I don't see why I did not think of yoursuggestion myself. There is no reason to trouble you any further. Ofcourse yours is the proper solution of our difficulty, I knew there mustbe one if I could only discover it. Good-by and thank you.”

An hour later Bettina Graham and Elce were entering an old house inGramercy Park which recently had been made over into apartments. Andwithin a few moments Mrs. Burton's arms were about Bettina.

”My dear, how lovely it is to see you after so long! But what hasbrought you here at this hour without letting me know? Surely nothinghas happened to Betty or to you! You have not come to tell me yourmother is ill and wants me?”

Bettina shook her head.

”No, dear, there is no reason to be uneasy. I simply wish to talk overa question with you, partly because you are my Camp Fire guardian, butmore I suppose because you are yourself. I left Washington suddenly anddid not think it worth while to telegraph. You see I did not dream youhad moved, or that I would have any difficulty in discovering you. Butlet me tell you the whole story in the morning. Elce and I are tiredand hungry. Can you find a place for us?”

”Don't be absurd, Bettina. Think, dear, I have not seen one of my CampFire girls in six months! Come and let us find Richard, he is in thedrawing-room; then we will have dinner as I must be off to the theatersoon afterwards. We can have a long, uninterrupted talk after breakfasttomorrow.”