"A Merry Crowd of Campers"
By Ruth Plumly Thompson
Author of The Wishing Horse of Oz, "The Wizard of Pumperdink", "King, King! Double King!", etc.
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, Sept. 15, 1918.
Up the hill helter-skelter pounded the girls from Camp Perry. Deep sand and sticks meant nothing to these thirty lively brown lassies, breathless from setting-up drill. Pshaw! not when breakfast was waiting. A dip in the bay does give one an appetite. Oh, boy!
Two months this merry crown had hiked and played and sailed and swam together and the thought of breaking up was "ruination and desolation!" as one little southern girl expressed it. "I'm pickled inside - swallowed so much of the bay!" gasped Polly, sinking into her chair. "Bay-lieve me!"
"I'm growing gills!" answered Gabriel dryly, and all within hearing giggled appreciatively. Five tables - and how the food disappeared and how they chattered as it went down!
Then the bell sounded and every one turned their heads toward Cap'n John, to hear the program of the day - the "last day," as each one mournfully reflected.
"Seems as if it were only yesterday I landed in the Haven!" whispered Gabriel hoarsely to her neighbor. Gabriel was a nickname, for, strange to say, she, the only girl in camp who could blow the bugle, was lodged in Angel's Haven and immediately dubbed Gabriel by her three other angel fellows, who instantly became Peter, Job and Michael!
Cap'n John, in his usual teasing fashion, called off the names of the different crews, for this, my dears, was a nautical camp down on Cape Cod. Then, after assigning some to row, some to paddle the canoes - others to sail and the rest to go motor-boating - he paused impressively. Then ceremoniously announced:
"The members of the Kennel will entertain the camp this evening at Indian Head at an old-fashioned barn dance. Please come in costume. Prizes will be awarded to the best and the most terrible costumes!"
A whoop of delight greeted this news, and there was a spirited dash for the costume box on the side porch of the main bungalow.
The members of the Kennel (another one of the lodges) whispered mysteriously together and refused to give any particulars.
There was so much to do that the costumes had to be fitted in between times.
"I just know I'll come apart or sumpin'!" wailed Cora May, a little nine-year-old. "Could you lend me a few safety pins?"
But somehow the necessary apparel was assembled. Wonderful things can be done with kimonos and cheesecloth, safety pins and ingenuity.
Eight o'clock found an excited company of masked and mysterious figures on the dock, and in high spirits they made the trip across the bay to Indian Head and hiked the rest of the way to the big barn.
George and Martha Washington welcomed them, and, thrills upon thrills, there was a real darky fiddler and old-fashioned cookies and punch! The floor was smooth and waxed, and away marched the grand parade in and out and round about so the judges could decide which costume was handsomest and which the most terrible.
There was a little old-fashioned maid, her dress hastily assembled from an old nightgown and ruffled pajamas peeking below for pantalettes. There were sailor boys and boy scouts and Japanese damsels with knitting needles in their top-knots.
A French peasant girl in black-laced bodice - and how do you s'pose that bodice was made? A black necktie laced up the front with yellow yarn fastened on pins! There were several country chaps in overalls and straw hats, a country girl in sunbonnet and with a basket of fresh vegetables, and a dozen shy little girls in curls and socks and side sashes. A pirate with a ferocious wooden dagger got the prize for being the most terrible and the little country girl the prize for the best costume.
And what a lark it was! The old fiddle twanged and scraped as they frolicked through Virginia reels and skipped through polkas and "heels and toe."
The punch, helped along with water, held out splendidly, and the full moon peeped in the window to see what all the noise was about!
But even the best times end, and at 11 o'clock the party broke up and went singing along the quiet roads to camp.
"It was the bangingest-up party ever!" each one assured the members of the Kennel, and many times in the years to come those girls will look back on that evening in the old jolly barn as one of the happiest in their lives.
THE FORGETFUL POET
By Ruth Plumly Thompson
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, March 24, 1918.
The Forgetful Poet's Puzzles
The answers to Mr. G. Ography and Mr. History's puzzles were Prussia, neutral countries of Europe--Spain, Sweden, Norway, Holland, Switzerland, Denmark. The Bay State is Massachusetts; West Virginia, Pan Handle; Pine Tree State, Maine; Keystone State, Pennsylvania; Lone Star, Texas; Hoosier, Indiana; Empire, New York; Old Dominion, Virginia. The men from Florida are nicknamed Fly-up-the-Creeks; New Yorkers, Knickerbockers; Vermonters, Green Mountain Boys; Michigan men, Wolverines. The naval hero was Admiral Dewey, and the present-day general Leonard Wood.
There seems to be no sense whatever in this verse by our poetical friend. See what you can make of it.
My Fishing Trip
With little worms upon my back
And line and rod in cans,
I started out to catch some fish,
I'd wisely laid my plans.
I threw my line into a stream--
It caught upon a branch,
The hook flew back and bit me; took
Two handkerchiefs to staunch
The blood--I now untangled all
The cast and knots again.
My foot slipped and somehow I've felt
Oh far from well, since then!
[Answer next time.]
Copyright © 2006 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.
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