Read CHAPTER THREE - IN THE MOUNTAINS AT LAST of Girl Scouts in the Adirondacks , free online book, by Lillian Elizabeth Roy, on ReadCentral.com.

The scouts finally reached Old Forge, where they had been due a full day sooner. Mr. Gilroy was worried at their non-appearance and had telephoned to their homes to learn that they had left on time. Then he followed them along their route and at some places he heard they had stopped and gone again, and at others that they had not yet arrived. But the moment the girls saw him and heard his complaint, they laughed at his concern.

“Nice way to treat your adopted father laugh at him, because he worried over his girls!” said he in pretended grievance.

“But what could possibly happen when we had Jim and Verny at the wheels?” asked Ruth.

“That’s just it! With the Captain leading, I was sure you would be jailed for speeding, and would need me to bail you out,” teased he.

“We needed baling out when we got in the river-flood, but not in jail!” laughed Julie.

“If we had dreamed you had a ’phone way up here, we would have called you to help us, that time,” added Joan.

Then the story of the mud and flood had to be told, while Mr. Gilroy sat on the side-door of the car and directed the Captain which road to take to reach his bungalow.

“Did our outfits get here all right, Mr. Gilroy?” asked Ruth.

“Yes, and they have been down at your camp several days now,” replied their host.

“How far is our camp from your bungalow, Mr. Gilroy?” asked Betty.

“Not very far just a nice walk. Your camp is right on the shore of one lake, while my bungalow is on the shore of First Lake, one of the Fulton Chain, you know.”

The scouts then learned that Mr. Gilroy’s estate extended from First Lake, where his bungalow was built, across country to Little Moose Lake where their camp was to be. This was a distance of about three-quarters of a mile between the two places.

“We’ll stop at the bungalow first and give you a good square meal after all your experiences; then we’ll go on over to camp. When your baggage is all out of the cars, Jim and I will drive back to my garage where the machines can stand.”

“Oh, Jim is going back home with Dad’s car, to-morrow,” said Ruth.

“And Verny is going to keep hers here for the summer,” added Julie.

The cold luncheon had been waiting a long time, and when the scouts finally arrived they did justice to the viands. Then, every one being eager to see the new camp-site, they started for the Lake. Here everything was in order to receive the tenants. Three fine tents, fully equipped with every possible comfort for the campers, were waiting for the girls, and a smaller tent for the Captain.

“Oh, how wonderful! Why, this won’t be like roughing it,” declared several of the girls as they inspected their camp.

“Everything is ready but the fancy touches. You girls will have to add them as your experiences pile up,” said Mr. Gilroy.

“What do you mean?” asked Julie.

“Oh, collections of butterflies, flower-prints, willow-work, and birchbark articles all these are fancy touches.”

It was late in the afternoon when the scouts arrived at the bungalow, and it was twilight before they had their baggage all unpacked and in their individual tents. Then when the cars were emptied and it was time to drive them back to the garage, Mr. Gilroy said:

“As this is your first night, and everything is strange, you’d better come back to the house for a light supper. Get your beds all ready to turn into, and then let everything else go until morning.”

Mrs. Vernon approved of this plan, so they finished their tasks and jumped in the cars to drive back to the bungalow for the evening. Darkness crept into the woods and everything was silent as they reached the house.

While Jim followed the host to the garage with the cars, the scouts sat on the verandah and enjoyed the quiet of the woods. The stars now began to peep out of the deep blue that could be seen here and there through the trees, and the Captain reminded the girls:

“Now that we are here for the summer, you must resume your study of the stars. You dropped that, you know, when schoolwork took so much of your time.”

“Most of us know all the stars by heart, Verny,” said Betty.

“The names of them, yes, but how many of you can find them as they are placed in the sky?” returned Mrs. Vernon.

“I can show you where the Pole Star is. Look there!” replied Joan, running out on the grass to find the bright point of light.

“And I can find Great Bear and The Pointers,” added Ruth, joining her friend on the grass.

The other scouts now jumped up from the verandah and ran to join the first two, so the Captain followed, also.

“I know Alcor, Mizor, and the Square of Pegasus,” said Amy.

“That panlike group of stars is known as Andromeda,” added Julie, not to be outdone by her chums. “And those three little stars are called The Kids. Off to the left of Perseus oh, I forgot to say that Perseus is a group of stars at the end of the pan-handle, well, to the left of them are the bright stars known as Capella.”

“Bravo! you scouts are going to be marvelous astronomers some day,” came the approving voice of Mr. Gilroy, as he joined them.

“I was just telling the girls they would have to take up the study of the heavens again,” mentioned Mrs. Vernon.

“And we were showing off to let the Captain hear how much we know,” laughed Julie.

“Who can find The Lady in the Chair or The Guards?” asked Mr. Gilroy of the scouts.

The girls eagerly sought for and described these groups, then their host asked for the Seven Sisters and Demon’s Eye. When they had answered these, Ruth said:

“If the trees were not so thick I could show you Orion, Taurus, and lots more, like the Lion, the Sickle, Canis Major, etc.”

“Hoh! Some of those and the Clown, the Ox-Driver, the Southern Cross, and the Northern Cross can’t be seen at this time of year, Ruth,” said Julie.

Ruth frowned at the correction, but Mr. Gilroy quickly calmed the troubled waters with praise for the girls.

“You scouts certainly know the stars better than the boys of Grey Fox Troop. I should like to have the two Troops have a match game about the stars, some time.”

“Who are the Grey Fox boys, Mr. Gilroy?” asked Julie.

“Do you remember I told you, last summer, of some Boy Scouts who camped in my woods every year? Well, four of those boys are here now. The rest of the Troop are coming up in August, but these four have all summer to camp in. I’m going to introduce you, soon.”

“Verny, why can’t we see all the stars all the year?” now asked Ruth.

“Because the earth turns on its axis, you know, so that certain planets are out of sight for us, and are seen on the other side of the globe. Then when the earth turns fully around we see them again.”

“And the Pole Star is reckoned to be the center of the star-sky for all the others to move about it. The Pole Star is always in the same fixed place, so we can always locate it. But not so with the other stars,” added Mr. Gilroy.

“I wish some one would tell us a story about the stars,” Hester now said.

“Who will tell one?” asked Mrs. Vernon.

“I know that Mizor and Alcor were used by the Turks in past days as a test for eyesight. Soldiers who could not sight those two stars were disqualified for fighting. But in these times I don’t believe a little thing like bad eyes will hold up a Turk from fighting!” said Julie, comically.

Then Joan added: “The Pole Star and Ursa Major, or The Great Bear as it is also called, form a shape like a wagon; so in olden times it was called King Charles’ Wain. Each star in this constellation is known by a Greek letter. The two stars ‘a’ and ‘b’ are called the ‘Pointers’ because they point to the Pole Star.”

“Oh, I didn’t mean lesson stuff, like this,” complained Hester. “I meant a real live legend!”

“You tell one, Verny,” begged Betty, sweetly.

“Mr. Gilroy is better able to do it. Besides he is the host and is supposed to entertain us,” returned Mrs. Vernon, glancing at Mr. Gilroy, who was stretched out comfortably upon the short grass.

“Your host claims to be completely disabled for the time being, Captain. Pray proceed with the legend yourself,” laughed Mr. Gilroy.

Then Mrs. Vernon said: “I never could see why Cassiopeia, or The Lady in the Chair, should be named that. To me, the stars look more like a tipped-over letter ‘W’ than a lady in a chair.”

“Don’t you know the story, Verny?” asked Julie, eagerly.

“You do, so why not tell us?” retorted the Captain.

“Oh, well, then, all right!” said Julie. So she began:

“Once there was an Ethiopian Queen, the wife of Cepheus, who was very proud of their only child, a daughter named Andromeda. They were always praising her and speaking of her beauty to every one, so that after a time folks who also had lovely daughters felt jealous of the princess.

“In the depths of the Inner Sea, which is now the Mediterranean, lived Old Nereus and a number of charming daughters. They heard of the Queen’s bragging about Andromeda, and they made up their minds to stop it. So they got their father to help them.

“Then Nereus and the nymphs sent a flood of water over all the country of which Cepheus was king, and devastated the kingdom. This caused famine and pestilence, and in the wake of these awful plagues came a sea-monster in the form of a dragon. This fearful beast bellowed ”

At that moment a deep thrilling call from some creature close by in the forest-edge caused every one to jump, and they all huddled together. They turned and stared apprehensively at the darkness behind them, but Mr. Gilroy instantly whispered, “S-sh! Don’t breathe, and you will see a sight worth watching for.”

The moon now sailed from back of the cloud that had obscured it for a time, and its cold white light etched everything it touched. Again the strange whistling call sounded directly back of the group, and a crashing and tearing of underbrush ended with the sudden spring of a fine buck, that landed him out on the grass not twenty feet from the scouts.

At the same moment, a plaintive call came from the direction of Silver Falls, which was up on the mountainside in front of the bungalow. The buck lifted his gigantic antlers in the moonlight, and his sensitive snout sniffed angrily as he sensed the invaders of his range; but another imperative call from his mate at the Falls compelled him to leave these usurpers; so he wheeled gracefully and, with an answering call to let his doe know he was coming, trotted down the trail until he reached the stream that came from Silver Falls, and there he disappeared in the forest.

“What a wonderful sight!” breathed Mrs. Vernon, when the buck was gone.

The girls listened to the dying echoes of those pounding hoofs, and sighed. Mr. Gilroy sat up and spoke eagerly, “That is the first buck I’ve ever seen near my bungalow. There are deer in the Adirondacks, but they seldom come near a habitation. It is said that they feed in the barnyards in winter, looking for stray grain, but I am not here in winter, you see.”

“How I would have loved to have had a snapshot of him,” said Julie, sighing.

“You’ve all got it in your memory the best place to frame a picture for all time,” replied Mrs. Vernon.

“You know, girls, there is an old hunter’s saying, that goes: ’A deer to welcome you on your first night will bring luck to you all that year,’” said Mr. Gilroy, as he turned to lead the way into the bungalow.

“Wait, Mr. Gilroy; Julie never finished her story. She broke off just where the beast bellowed then came the buck!” said Joan.

“The deer finished the story better than we ever could,” laughed the Captain, as she followed Mr. Gilroy.

“But, at least, tell us what happened to those Nerieds?” asked Betty, who wished to see the wicked punished.

So Mrs. Vernon had to end the story, although it was condensed in the telling. But Betty persisted, “You haven’t told us yet what the Nerieds did when they found the wonderful Prince Perseus saved and married to the Princess.”

Every one laughed, but Julie replied, “Why, like most jealous people, the Nerieds had to move away from town when every one found out how it all had happened!”

The “bite” they had before leaving for camp would have been classed as a first-class supper in the city restaurants, and then, when good-nights were being said, the host gave Jim a laden basket to carry for the scouts.

“You’ll be glad of this in the morning, for breakfast. If you need anything else, run over here and get it from my man who cooks,” explained Mr. Gilroy.

But next morning, the contents of that basket were found to be more than enough for any one breakfast. The fruit, cereal, biscuits, and ham to broil, were highly appreciated by the hungry girls. This was soon gone, and then Mrs. Vernon said they must buckle down to genuine camp life.

“I’d rather sleep out under the trees, Verny, when the weather is so fine,” suggested Julie.

“So would we,” agreed the other scouts, and the Captain said, “Well, we might make willow beds for out-of-doors, and keep the cots as they are.”

“How do we know we can find any willows around here?” asked Ruth.

“I saw some early this morning when I was snooping about. I got up at dawn and left you girls sleeping, while I investigated the premises. Girls, the place is simply perfect for anything we might choose to do this summer,” declared the Captain, enthusiastically.

“Tell us where the reeds are, and we will get them,” said Betty.

“They grow about a spring not far from here. We must follow a wild-animal trail along the lake to reach the spot.”

So the scouts each took an axe and knife and followed the guide to the willow-brook where the reeds grew. Mrs. Vernon showed the girls how to select the wands, and then began to cut down her own. She took about six dozen reeds as thick as a lead-pencil, and many smaller ones; these were bundled together, and then she was ready to start back to camp. Finally the girls were ready, also, and they trailed back.

“Now girls, each one must cut notches about three-fourths of an inch from the butt-ends of the reeds. Then peel the sticks carefully do not crack or break them while doing it.” Mrs. Vernon did hers as she advised.

“Now come with me, and select your posts for the beds. I take four young birch saplings for the bed-frame,” announced Mrs. Vernon, as she chopped down the required birches, “and stout birches about four inches thick for my bedposts.”

Each scout cut hers and then went back to the camp-ground to begin work on the Indian beds.

“Every one measure the birch saplings and have two of them seven feet long, and two shorter ones three or four feet long,” instructed Mrs. Vernon. “Lop off all the twigs, and place the two long ones for sides, and the two short ones for top and bottom of the bed-frame.

“Now, this done, watch me carefully, girls. This is the important part of making the bed,” advised the Captain.

Mrs. Vernon took a ball of heavy twine and doubled a long strand so that it was half-length. This was twisted into one strand, and a loop tied in the middle. Many of these strands were stretched across the frame at equal distances apart, until the entire frame had a warp across it.

“Now I’ll weave in the reeds,” said the Captain, taking one of the thin willows and weaving it in and out of the cords. At the loop, the rod was thrust through it to hold it centrally in place, then the weaving process went on until the end of the frame was reached.

The weaving of each reed was done the same way until the whole frame was crossed with willows held firmly in the middle by the loops in the cords.

“Next thing, girls, I will cut the posts as I need them. I want them about three feet high. One end of each post must be sharpened so it will go down into the ground.” This was done and the four stout birch posts were driven firmly into the ground where Mrs. Vernon wanted her willow bed to stand.

“And next, I tie a loop of heavy cord, or rope, about the top of each post, in which I can hang my willow-frame.” This was also done, and the scouts helped place the woven mat in position.

“Well, isn’t that simple, when you know how!” said Julie.

“Everything is, my dear,” laughed Mrs. Vernon.

“Your bed is too wide for me. I don’t want one four feet wide,” said Ruth.

“You can make it as wide, or as narrow, as you like. I think three feet is wide enough for each girl,” returned the Captain. “But the best of these beds is, that when one is invited to visit, one can roll up the mat easily and carry it along to sleep on. They are very light and not cumbersome to roll and carry.”

All that day was given to weaving the beds, and the scouts not only enjoyed the novel employment, but had great fun in joking each other over the work. About four o’clock that afternoon a shrill whistle was heard from the trail that ran to the bungalow and soon thereafter Mr. Gilroy was seen coming down towards camp.

“Hullo, there! I waited all morning for visitors, but at last decided to come and see if my tenants had abandoned the premises!” explained he, as he went over to the weavers to watch them.

“Now you understand why we couldn’t visit,” said Joan.

“I came over to ask how many of you have been fishing? And what did you catch?” said he.

“No, we haven’t fished yet. We planned to try it the very moment we are through with these beds,” replied Joan.

“Then perhaps you have not been near the lake-cove since you went hunting for willows this morning,” remarked Mr. Gilroy.

“The cove? I saw two boats there early this morning,” said the Captain.

“And now there are two canoes there, also,” added Mr. Gilroy.

“Oh, really! But how did you manage to get them there by paddling in from the lake?” asked Mrs. Vernon.

“No, I had them brought from my boathouse this morning. While Jim was here, I made use of him by having him help Hiram carry two canoes over to the boat-wagon, and then drive down here. Not a soul nor a sound was seen or heard about the camp, so I surmised you had all gone on a lark. Then we launched the canoes and tied them to a stump to surprise you when you should go for the boats. We never dreamed you could keep away from temptation so long as this.”

“Goody! Then the first scout that finishes her bed can go and catch fish for supper,” declared Amy, who was the slowest of the weavers.

They all laughed teasingly, and soon afterwards, Julie cried, “I’m done! Now for the fish!”

Joan and Ruth soon completed their beds, too, so Mr. Gilroy went out with them to fish. That evening he was invited to sup with the scouts, and a jolly time they had. In the evening, while sitting about the dying campfire, he said to the girls:

“The first rainy day that comes along I want you all to come to the bungalow and see my collection of moths, flowers, birds, and butterflies. I have a fine exhibit of butterflies, among them are rare specimens that have seldom been found in these mountains. You scouts will want to start collecting after you see what I have done.”

“I shall be delighted to look at them, as I have always wanted my girls to do something along those lines,” said Mrs. Vernon.

“If you know anything about butterflies, you will prize the specimen of swallow-tail I found in these woods,” said Mr. Gilroy.

“Really! But I’ve heard they were never found in America, Mr. Gilroy,” exclaimed Julie.

“I know that is a common belief, but I have one, nevertheless, and a friend who devotes his time to studying insect-life assured me that the one I caught was genuine. Then, the very next day this friend caught one quite near the place where mine was taken. This led us to investigate, and we reached the conclusion that there are rare butterflies hatched out in isolated sections of this land, but are not found; so, of course, no mention is made of them.

“Even if the farmers see a swallow-tail, or any other rare butterfly hovering over their gardens, they don’t know the difference, and it passes safely. If that same farmer knew the value of the specimen he would leave all else to chase the gauzy flutterer.”

When it came time for the visitor to say good-night, he said, “Oh, I forgot all about the very object of my visit!”

“It must have been awfully important,” laughed Julie.

“Well, we think it is,” chuckled Mr. Gilroy. “The boys of Grey Fox Camp sent me to invite you to have dinner with them to-morrow, if it is clear.”

“Why, Mr. Gilroy!” exclaimed Julie, scarcely believing her idol could forget such an important matter.

Every one laughed at his guilty look, and Judith teasingly said, “We ought to call him ‘The Man Who Lost His Memory,’ for that!”

“All fooling aside, scouts, I have a suggestion to make on that very remark. I’ve wanted to mention it before, but always there was some exciting or important matter that could not be interrupted. Now I wish you girls would stop ‘mistering’ me! I am such an old friend by this time, I should think I could be to you as much as the Captain is. She is ‘Verny’ instead of ‘Mrs. Vernon.’”

Julie was ready with an answer before he had quite finished his complaint. “Oh, we would love to give you a pet name, Gilly, because you do mean as much to us as our best friends anywhere. By taking a few letters away from your proper name and adding a little ‘nick’ to the syllable, we have one ready-made.”

“Fine! ‘Gilly’ it shall be henceforth!” laughed Mr. Gilroy.

“But it is so disrespectful, I think,” remonstrated Mrs. Vernon. “Couldn’t we find some other affectionate term that will do without impressing strangers with our lack of courtesy to our friend?”

“Why do you object to ‘Gilly?’” asked Mr. Gilroy, quizzically.

“I can’t really find any tangible excuse, except that it makes me think of gilly-flowers, you know,” laughed Mrs. Vernon.

Every one joined in the laughter, but Mr. Gilroy said seriously, “Well, I am not old enough to be ‘Granny’ to the girls and I dare not request to be called ‘Daddy’ by them, or their rightful parents will call me out to fight a duel, so do let us leave it ‘Gilly.’ The boys of Grey Fox always wanted to use a friendlier name than a ‘Mr.’ but they never came to it. Now we will begin the habit.”

Before Mr. Gilroy left the camp, the name was established.

They were to meet at Mr. Gilroy’s bungalow early in the morning, so he could start them on the right trail. He was going over in the car with supplies for the boys, but the hikers preferred the novelty of adventuring on foot.

Early the following morning, breakfast being cleared away, each scout was advised to take an axe, a clasp-knife, a bit of twine, a tin cup, and some waterproof matches.

“But why should we bother with such stuff?” asked Amy.

“One never knows whether one will arrive at the right destination or not. Should we get lost, we at least have something with which to get a meal,” said the Captain.

“Are you going to carry that little bag of flour?” asked Hester, curiously.

“Yes, and a strip of bacon that is wrapped in the paper. I’m not going to starve, if worst comes to worst,” laughed Mrs. Vernon.

“A lot of good a strip of bacon will do for ten of us!” said Judith. But she had not been with the scouts when they camped at Verny’s Mountain the foregoing summer.

When Mr. Gilroy heard about the bacon and flour, he laughed. “Why, it is only two or three hours’ tramp over the ridge, and a big dinner will be waiting when you get there.”

Mrs. Vernon held her peace, but carried the bacon and flour just the same. She was not to be jeered out of what she knew to be a wise act, whether the food would be needed or not.