Read CHAPTER II - GOOD-BYE TO THE FARM of The Camp Fire Girls at Long Lake / Bessie King in Summer Camp, free online book, by Jane L. Stewart, on

Dolly had spoken in a low tone, her sobs seeming to strangle her speech, and only Bessie, who was amazed by this outburst, heard her.  Grieved and astonished, she put her arm about Dolly, but the other girl threw it off, roughly.

“Don’t you pretend you love me-I know the mean sort of a cat you are now!” she said bitterly.

“Why, Dolly!  Whatever is the matter with, you?  What have I done to make you angry?”

“If you were so mad at me the other day getting you into that automobile ride with Mr. Holmes you might have said so-instead of tending that you’d forgiven me, and then turning around and making everyone laugh at me to-night!  You’re prettier than I-and clever-but I think it’s pretty mean to make that Burns boy spend the whole evening with you!”

Gradually, and very faintly, Bessie began to have a glimmering of what was wrong with her friend.  She found it hard work not to smile, or even to laugh outright, but she resisted the temptation nobly, for she knew only too well that to Dolly, sensitive and nervous, laughter would be just the one thing needed to make it harder than ever to patch up this senseless and silly quarrel, which, so far, was only one sided.

To Bessie, who thought little of boys, and to whom jealousy was alien, the idea that Dolly was really jealous of her seemed absurd, since she knew how little cause there was for such a feeling.  But, very wisely, she determined to proceed slowly, and not to do anything that could possibly give Dolly any fresh cause of offence.

“Dolly,” she said, “you mustn’t feel that way.  Really, dear, I didn’t do that at all.  I talked to him when he came to sit down by me, but that was all.  I couldn’t very well tell him to go away, or not answer him when he spoke to me, could I?”

“Oh, I know what you’re going to say-that it was all his fault.  But if you hadn’t tried to make him come he wouldn’t have done it.”

“I didn’t try to make him come.  Did you?”

Dolly stared at her a moment.  The question seemed to force her to give attention to a new idea, to something she had not thought of before.  But when she spoke her voice was still defiant.

“Suppose I did!” she said angrily.  “I wanted to have a good time-and he was the nicest boy there-”

“Maybe he saw that you were waiting for him too plainly, Dolly.  Maybe he wanted to pick out someone for himself-and if you’d pretended that you didn’t care whether he talked to you or not he would have been more anxious to be with you.”

Dolly blushed slightly at that, though it was too dark for Bessie to see the color in her cheeks.  She knew very well that Bessie was right, but she wondered how Bessie knew it.  That feigned indifference had brought her the attentions of more than one boy who had boasted that he was not going to pay any attention to her just because everyone else did.

But the gradually dawning suspicion that she might, after all, have only herself to blame for the spoiling of her evening’s fun, and that she had acted in rather a silly fashion, didn’t soften Dolly particularly.  Very few people are able to recover a lost temper just because they find out, at the height of their anger, that they are themselves to blame for what made them angry, and Dolly was not yet one of them.

“I suppose you’ll tell all the other girls about this,” she said.  She wasn’t crying any more, but her voice was as hard as ever.  “I think you’re horrid-and I thought I was going to like you so much.  I think I’ll ask Miss Eleanor to let me share a room with someone else.”

Bessie didn’t answer, though Dolly waited while the wagon drove on for quite a hundred yards.  Bessie was thinking hard.  She liked Dolly; she was sure that this was only a show of Dolly’s temper, which, despite the restrictions that surrounded her in her home, and had a good deal to do with her mischievous ways, had never been properly curbed.

But, though Bessie was not angry in her turn, she understood thoroughly that if she and Dolly were to continue the friendship that had begun so promisingly, this trouble between them must be settled, and settled in the proper fashion.  If Dolly were allowed to sleep on her anger, it would be infinitely harder to restore their relations to a friendly basis.

“I suppose you don’t care!” said Dolly, finally, when she decided that Bessie was not going to answer her.

And now Bessie decided on a change of tactics.  She had tried arguing with Dolly, and it had seemed to do no good at all.  It was time to see if a little ridicule would not be more useful.

“I didn’t say so, Dolly,” she answered, very quietly.  And she smiled at her friend.  “What’s the use of my saying anything?  I told you the truth about what happened this evening, and you didn’t believe me.  So there’s not much use talking, is there?”

“You know I’m right, or you’d have plenty to talk about,” said Dolly, unhappily.  “Oh, I wish we’d never seen Will Burns!”

“I wish we hadn’t seen him until to-night, Dolly,” said Bessie, gravely.  “You know, that trip in the automobile with Mr. Holmes the other day wasn’t very nice for me, Dolly.  If they had caught me, as Mr. Holmes had planned to do, I’d have been taken back to Hedgeville, and bound over to Farmer Weeks-and he’s a miser, who hates me, and would have been as mean to me as he could possibly be.  That’s how we met Will Burns, you know-because you insisted on going with Mr. Holmes in his car to get an ice-cream soda.”

“That’s just what I said-you pretended to forgive me for that, and you haven’t at all-you’re still angry, and you humiliated me before all those people just to get even!  I didn’t think you were like that, Bessie-I thought you were nicer than I. But-”

“Dolly, stop talking a little, and just think it over.  You say you didn’t have a good time, and you mean that you didn’t have a boy waiting around to do what you told him all evening.  Isn’t that so?”

“All the other girls had boys around them all the time-”

“You went with Walter Stubbs, didn’t you?  And you told him that maybe you’d come home with him and maybe you wouldn’t-and that if anyone you liked better came along you were going to stay with them.  You didn’t know Will Burns was coming, did you?”

“No, but-I thought if he did come-”

“That’s just it.  You didn’t think about Walter at all, did you.  You wanted to have a good time yourself-and you didn’t care what sort of a time he had!  You just thought that if Will Burns did come he was sure to want to be with you, and so, as soon as you saw him come in you sent Walter off.  Oh, you were silly, Dolly-and it was all your own fault.  Don’t you think it’s rather mean to blame me?  We were together when Will Burns was coming toward us, and I wanted to go away and let you stay there-but you said I must stay.  Don’t you remember that?”

Dolly, as a matter of fact, had quite forgotten it.  But she remembered well enough, now that Bessie had reminded her of it.  And, though she had a hot temper, and was fond of mischief, Dolly was not sly.  She admitted it at once.

“I do remember it now, Bessie.”

“Well, don’t you see how absurd it is to say that I took Will away from you?  We were both there together-I couldn’t tell when we saw him coming that he was going to talk to me, could I?  And listen, Dolly-he asked me to go home with him in his buggy, and I said I wouldn’t.”

With some girls that would have made the chance of mending things very remote.  But Dolly, although her jealousy had been so quickly aroused, was not the sort to get still angrier at this fresh proof that she had been mistaken in thinking that Will Burns had liked her better than Bessie.

“Why, Bessie-why did you do that?”

Bessie laughed.

“We’re not going to be here very much longer, are we, Dolly?” she said.  “Well-if we’re not going to be here, we’re not going to see much of Will Burns.  You’re not the only girl who-was-who thought that he ought to be paying more attention to her than to me.  There was a pretty girl from Jericho, and he’s known her a long time.  Walter told me about them.

“And I could see that she wanted him to drive her home, so I asked him why he didn’t do it.  And he got very much confused, but he went over to her, finally, and she looked just as happy as she could be when he handed her up into his buggy, and they all went off along the road together, Will and she and two or three other fellows who had driven over together from Jericho.”

Dolly’s expression had changed two or three times, very swiftly, as she listened.  Now she sighed, and her hand crept out to find Bessie’s.

“Oh, Bessie,” she said, softly, “won’t you forgive me, dear?  I’ve made a fool of myself again-I’m always doing that, it seems to me.  And every time I promise myself or you or someone not to do it again.  But the trouble is there are so many different ways of being foolish.  I seem to find new ones all the time, and every one is so different from the others that I never know about it until it’s too late.”

“It’s never too late to find out one’s been in the wrong, Dolly, if one admits it.  There aren’t many girls like you, who are ready to say they’ve been wrong, no matter how well they know it.  I haven’t anything to forgive you for-so don’t let’s talk any more about that.  Everyone makes mistakes.  If I thought anyone had treated me as you thought I had treated you to-night I’d have been angry, too.”

Poor Dolly sighed disconsolately.

“You’re the best friend I ever had, Bessie,” she said.  “I make everyone angry with me, and when I say I’m sorry, they pretend that they’ve forgiven me, but they haven’t, really, at all.  That’s why I said that about your still being angry with me.  I thought you must be.  I really am going to try to be more sensible.”

And so the little misunderstanding, which might easily, had Bessie been less patient and tactful, have grown into a quarrel that would have ended their friendship before it was well begun, was smoothed over, and Dolly and Bessie, tired but happy, went upstairs to their room together, and were asleep so quickly that they didn’t even take the time to talk matters over.

Eleanor Mercer, standing in the big hall of the farm house as the girls went upstairs, smiled after Dolly and Bessie.

“I think you thought I was foolish to put those two in a room together,” she said to Mrs. Farnham, the motherly housekeeper, whom Eleanor had known since, as a little girl, she had played about the farm.

“I wouldn’t say that, Miss Eleanor,” said Mrs. Farnham.  “I didn’t see how they were going to get along together, because they were so different.  But it’s not for me to say that you’re foolish, no matter what you do.”

“Oh, yes, it is,” laughed Eleanor.  “You used to have to tell me I was foolish in the old days, when I wanted to eat green apples, and all sorts of other things that would have made me sick, and just because I’m grown up doesn’t keep me from wanting to do lots of things that are just as foolish now.  But I do think I was right in that”

“They do seem to get on well,” agreed Mrs. Farnham.

“It’s just because they are so different,” said Eleanor.  “Dolly does everything on impulse-she doesn’t stop to think.  With Bessie it’s just the opposite.  She’s almost too old-she isn’t impulsive enough.  And I think each of them will work a little on the other, so that they’ll both benefit by being together.  Bessie likes looking after people, and she may make Dolly think a little more.

“There isn’t a nicer, sweeter girl in the whole Camp Fire than Dolly, but lots of people don’t like her, because they don’t understand her.  Oh, I’m sure it’s going to be splendid for both of them.  Dolly was awfully angry at Bessie before they started from the church-but you saw how they were when they got here to-night?”

“I did, indeed, Miss Eleanor.  And I’d say; Dolly has a high temper, too, just to look at her.”

“Oh, she has-and Bessie never seems to get; angry.  I don’t understand that-it’s my worst fault, I think.  Losing my temper, I mean.  Though I’m better than I used to be.  Well-good-night.”

The next day was Sunday, and, of course, there was none of the work about the farm that the girls of the Camp Fire enjoyed so much.  They went to church in the morning, and when they returned Bessie was surprised to see Charlie Jamieson, the lawyer, Eleanor Mercer’s cousin, sitting on the front piazza.  Eleanor took Bessie with her when she went to greet him.

“No bad news, Charlie?” she said, anxiously.  He was looking after the interests of Bessie and of Zara, whose father, unjustly accused as Charlie and the girls believed, of counterfeiting, was in prison in the city from which the Camp Fire Girls came.  Charlie Jamieson had about decided that his imprisonment was the result of a conspiracy in which Farmer Weeks, from Bessie’s home town, Hedgeville, was mixed up with a Mr. Holmes, a rich merchant of the city.  The reason for the persecution of the two girls and of Zara’s father was a mystery, but Jamieson had made up his mind to solve it.

“No-not bad news, exactly,” he said.  “But I’ve had a talk with Holmes, and I’m worried, Eleanor.  You know, that was a pretty bold thing he did the other day, when he trapped Bessie into going with him for an automobile ride and tried to kidnap her.  That’s a serious offense, and a man in Holmes’s position in the city wouldn’t be mixed up in it unless there was a very important reason.  And from the way he talked to me I’m more convinced than ever that he will just be waiting for a chance to try it again.”

“What did he say to you, Charlie?”

“Oh, nothing very definite.  He advised me to drop this case.  He reminded me that he had a good deal of influence-and that he could bring me a lot of business, or keep it away.  And he said that if I didn’t quit meddling with this business I’d have reason to feel sorry.”

“What did you tell him?”

“To get out of my office before I kicked him out!  He didn’t like that, I can tell you.  But I noticed that he got out.  But here’s the point.  Are you still planning that camping trip to Lake?”

“Yes-I think it would be splendid there.”

“Well, why don’t you start pretty soon?” Holmes knows this country very well, and he’s got so much money that, if he spends it, he can probably find people to do what he wants.  Up there it’s lonely country, and pretty wild, and you could keep an eye on Bessie and Zara even better than you can here.  I don’t know why he wants to have them in his power, but it’s quite evident that their plans depend on that for success, and our best plan, as long as we’re in the dark this way, and don’t know the answer to all these puzzling things, is to keep things as they are.  I’m convinced that they can’t do anything that need worry us much as long as we have Bessie and Zara safe and sound.”

“We can start to-morrow,” said Eleanor.  “Bessie-will you tell the girls to get ready?  I’ll go and make arrangements, Charlie.”

And so, the next day, after lunch, the Camp Fire Girls, waving their hands to kindly Mrs. Farnham, and making a great fuss over Walter, who drove them to the station, said good-bye for the time, at least, to the farm.  And Dolly Ransom, Bessie noticed, took pains to be particularly nice to Walter Stubbs.