Read CHAPTER FOUR - A VISIT TO GREY FOX CAMP of Girl Scouts in the Adirondacks , free online book, by Lillian Elizabeth Roy, on ReadCentral.com.

Each girl wore hiking boots, her camp uniform, and carried a light pack containing the ax, cup, knife and matches. A few of the girls, secretly following the Captain’s example, packed a strip of bacon and crackers, or other eatables in their packs. Mr. Gilroy saw them safely started on the right trail, and then drove away in his car. He followed a woodcutters’ road that wound around the mountain, but the scouts were to use the trail that ran over the crest to the boys’ camp.

The scouts were brimming over with spirits (Julie said, “not the kind made in the moonshine, either"), and spent so much time examining flowers or watching wonderful birds that the time sped by unawares. The trail led through small clearings where a brook or waterfall made life worth living. But the higher they climbed the more rugged grew the trail, until there were long stretches that seemed to be sheer wilderness.

At such places, the scouts had to hunt about and find a blaze to guide them further. In this way, the hours passed and noon came; still the hikers were far from Grey Fox Camp.

“And I’m starved to pieces!” Joan assured them all.

“So’m I!” admitted Ruth. Then it was learned that every one present would appreciate something to eat.

“But what? We only brought flour and bacon,” laughed Amy.

“How would a fine juicy steak taste about this time?” asked Mrs. Vernon, winking at her old scouts. They knew what she meant.

“Oh, ’Home and Mother’!” sighed Judith, rolling her eyes heavenward.

Every one laughed, but the Captain added: “I really mean it! We may as well stop now to cook that steak as to keep on in a half-fainting condition.”

“But, Verny! We didn’t bring one bit of meat to camp, and the butcher drives his rounds once a week,” cried Amy.

“We’ll just hunt around and chop down a steak,” suggested Mrs. Vernon. “Who wants to go with me to find the wooden animal that grows a steak ready-made?”

Of course, they all went, except Julie and Joan who remained to build a fire and start the bacon sizzling in the tiny pan. A scout-twist of flour and water was kneaded by Joan and put to bake near the fire, and then the girls sat and waited for the others to return.

The Captain blazed a way slowly into the forest wilderness, peering under bushes and wherever a tree had been cut down on its stump of a trunk she always looked eagerly. After about ten minutes’ search she saw what she wanted.

“Ah! Here it is a porterhouse, this time.”

The new members saw a great chestnut stump, its jagged spears of wood protesting against its untimely end. But all over the trunk grew fungi some larger, some smaller, and all of the same flat horizontal shape, like a huge palm-leaf. These were carefully removed and handed to the girls to carry.

“What are they for?” asked Judith, looking at the red juice that ran over her fingers when she took the fungus.

“That’s your steak think it is too big for one?”

“The what?” exclaimed the other new members, skeptically.

“Beefsteak mushroom finest steaks ever tasted,” came reassuringly from the Captain. “The ones growing on a chestnut stump are always the sweetest, but the chestnut trees are disappearing so fast that soon we will have no such mushrooms from them.”

When they had gathered enough steaks for that meal, they returned to the clearing where Julie and Joan awaited them. On the way back, Mrs. Vernon showed the scouts the earmarks of the beefsteak mushroom.

“When I cut these from the tree they bled exactly as flesh will bleed when it is cut. Now turn them over and you will see on the under side that they have veins of red. That is the life-sap. We will broil or cook them exactly as if they were steaks and then you shall judge of their flavor.”

“Isn’t it thrilling to think that man can go right into any wilderness and, without carrying food, clothing, or shelter, live with what Nature provides,” remarked Judith.

“Yes, and without paying the outrageous prices charged at the present time for actual necessities,” replied the Captain.

The bread-twist was baked, and when the steaks were washed and sliced, Mrs. Vernon dropped them into the hot fat tried out from the bacon. Immediately the smell of frying steak made every scout smack her lips in anticipation.

“If we weren’t sure of such a fine dinner awaiting us, I would have had a few of you girls gather young bracken for a fresh green vegetable to eat with our steak. But we must not stop and enjoy too much by the wayside,” said the Captain.

There was a liberal slice of steak for each one and the girls pronounced the taste of it delicious.

“And so tender, too! I never had such a juicy bit of meat,” said Hester.

Having refreshed themselves considerably, with the fun of finding the mushrooms and cooking them, to say nothing of eating them, also, the scouts continued the hike along the trail. Just as they reached the crest of the mountain, Julie came suddenly upon a fawn, standing in the shadow of a tree; it was watching these queer two-legged creatures.

It is hard to say which was most surprised, Julie or the deer, but the fawn recovered first and bounded away through the forest.

“Oh, shucks! There we’ve gone and left that camera home again!” cried Julie, stamping her foot angrily.

“Wouldn’t that have made the most wonderful picture!” added Judith.

“No use crying now, but, for goodness sake! Julie, remember to bring it next time,” said Joan.

“Let every one remember the last thing to do when we start anywhere, every one is to say to herself: ‘Remember the Maine!’ then we will surely take the camera,” giggled Julie.

The scouts now began descending the other side of the crest, and found a better trail than on the side they came up. So, being able to go faster, they soon reached a lovely camp-site, where the voices of several boys announced that Grey Fox Camp was reached.

“We were just being sworn in as deputies to go out and hunt for strayed or stolen scouts,” called Mr. Gilroy, jocularly, as the girls picked their way down from the great rocks that formed a wall back of the camp-ground; then he introduced the two Troops to each other.

“You told us it was about a two-hours’ hike!” said Ruth, shaking her head at Mr. Gilroy, as if in despair of saving his soul.

“Well, so it is, when the boys are in a hurry to get to the bungalow.”

“We’ve been five hours coming, and had to stop for lunch along the way, too,” said Judith, eager to talk about the beefsteak.

The boys stared. “Why, you were to have dinner with us! Didn’t Mr. Gilroy tell you that?”

“Yes, but we couldn’t wait so long. We’re ready for more dinner, now,” said Joan.

“What did you cook for luncheon?” asked Alec, the oldest boy in the Troop.

“Oh, only a beefsteak-mushroom and a scout-twist,” returned Julie, nonchalantly.

The boys exchanged glances. “Did you find the mushrooms along the way?” asked another boy named Bob.

“Sure! Did you think they came preserved?” laughed Joan.

“No, but we have never found any on this side of the hill. Bob often goes out to hunt, but so far we’ve never seen any,” explained another boy, Ned Thompson.

“When we go back, you can go with us a ways, and we will show you where we found the ones we had for luncheon,” said Betty.

“Is dinner ready, boys, or will there be time to show the girls about the camp?” asked Mr. Gilroy.

“Show them about, as it will take us ten minutes more to finish everything in style,” replied Alec.

So the girl scouts were invited to pass judgment on the fine camp the boy scouts had made. Everything was neat as wax, and the boys had constructed many convenient articles from wildwood material only.

“Last year we had eight boys in camp, but this season only four could come in the beginning; so they have lots of room in their big tee pee. When the other boys come out, they will have to make another tent. They made and water-proofed this one themselves,” explained Mr. Gilroy, showing the visitors the fine big tent.

“They built this dining-room, too, to use if the weather is very bad. I told the boys about your corduroy floor that you made in your huts last summer, so they tried it here with very good result.”

The girl scouts now saw their own idea put into use in a different manner. The log floor was hard and dry, but at each corner rose a stout pole, and upon the tops of the four pole ends was stretched a canvas roof, making a shelter underneath.

“Girls, we ought to do the same thing, to use for meal time when it rains, or if the rays of the sun are too hot,” observed Mrs. Vernon.

Mr. Gilroy then pointed out to the girls how careful the boys had been in selecting this camp-site. They had high, dry ground, near plenty of fine spring water, on the same lake where the girl scouts camped, but an arm of high land extended out into the water and separated the two camps.

“You see, they have ample firewood about without cutting down any trees; they get the early morning sun, and shade all the rest of the day. They ditched the entire place to carry off all the rainwater that might wash down from the crest during a heavy storm. And they built a refrigerator to keep things cold; and over there they have a chicken-coop.”

“A chicken coop! where did they get the chickens?” asked Julie.

“Ned had some at home and he crated them and brought them along. The boys get fresh eggs in this way, and when the season is over, they will kill the hens for a special occasion and eat them.”

“Verny, that’s what we need, a few chickens in camp,” was Joan’s decision, the moment she saw the hens scratching.

“I noticed Gilly had a lot of chickens running about the barnyard. Maybe he will loan us a few, just to provide us with eggs this summer. We can return them in the fall, you know,” ventured Julie, daringly.

“Who will buy their corn?” asked he, laughingly.

“No one. We will feed them scraps and they can scratch!” promptly replied Julie.

“You’ll starve them and then they won’t lay any eggs,” now said Alec, joining the party.

“We’ll smile on Hiram and get him to bring us some corn from the barn, now and then,” said Ruth.

“I came over to tell you dinner was ready to serve. We had better go now, and eat it while it’s good,” said Alec.

The boys had various things hanging over the fire, but the great novelty that caught the girl scouts’ attention, at once, was the roaster upon which a nice brown chicken was swinging before the fire.

“There! That’s a fine idea. How did you make it?” asked Mrs. Vernon, looking closely at the contraption.

Alec described to the Captain the method of making the roaster. “We took a forked stick, as you see there, of about a two-foot length. We drove that down into the ground about six inches. Next we took a long pole, six or eight feet long, and drove the end down into the ground just back of the short stick with the forks. It rested in the crotch made by the forks so that its tapering end slanted upward at an angle, as you see here.

“From the end of this long pole we hung the cord that holds the chicken. Wire is just as good to use. Then we arranged that flat, paddle-like fan halfway between the top and the rope end where the roast will hang. As your chicken roasts before the fire, that mill-fan keeps it perpetually turning about so it browns alike all over.”

Julie wanted to make one like it as soon as they went back to their own camp, so she hastily sketched a model.

“It is a great stunt, all right, and we’ve cooked many dandy roasts this way, and never scorched any,” said Bob, when Alec concluded his description.

The dinner began with oyster-mushroom stew, then they had roast chicken, baked wild-potatoes, stewed bracken that tasted exactly like young spinach, dandelion salad, and scout cakes for dessert.

It was mid-afternoon when the girls finally said good-by to their hosts, and invited them soon to visit Dandelion Camp. They started on the return hike, but when they reached the highest boulder back of the camp, the scouts stood and waved good-by again.

“Come as soon as you can, but give us a whole day’s warning, first!” shouted Julie, to the four smiling boys below.

They made much better time going back, as the trail from Grey Fox Camp was plain, and going down the other side of the crest was much simpler than climbing up. They got back to their own camp by seven o’clock, and were surprised to find Mr. Gilroy there before them, with supper all ready to eat.

“Well, this sure is good of you!” sighed Julie, dropping upon the grass with healthy fatigue.

“I thought you’d appreciate it; I had no exercise to-day, except what I got running the car, so I decided to ‘do a good turn’ and digest that dinner at the same time,” said he.

After supper, which was unusually late that night, the tired scouts and their visitor were sitting about the campfire hoping some one would tell a story, when Julie spoke:

“Last summer, Gilly said he would tell us all sorts of Indian legends when we visited camp in the Adirondacks. Now we’re here and this is the right sort of an evening to tell them.”

The other scouts seconded the suggestion, but Mr. Gilroy said: “Funny, but I don’t remember that promise.”

“I told you you’ve got an awful memory didn’t I want to dub you ’The man-with-a-poor-memory?’” teased Judith.

The guest sat gazing silently into the fire for a few minutes, then he began:

“I’m going to tell you a story that is told by the Alaskan Indians. These ancient legends have been handed down from one generation to another, but the original goes back before the days of Moses. I was deeply interested in a few of these tales because they sounded so much like our story of Creation as told in Genesis, that I wondered if a white missionary had sown his seeds of Christianity in the fertile soil of the Alaskan Esquimaux’ mind.

“But as far as I could ascertain this legend was told many hundreds of years before white man ever stepped on Alaskan ground. Recently I learned that Iceland has similar legends, and it may be that the Alaskan Esquimaux are descended from those of Iceland. It is well known that Iceland is the oldest civilized land in the world that it was famous for its learning before the days of Solomon the Wise.”