Chapter X. Topsy-Turvy Day
 

"Why, where is camp?" asked Sahwah in perplexity, noticing that the whole place was dark and still. It was half past six, the usual after-supper frolic hour, when camp was wont to ring to the echo with fun and merriment of all kinds. Now no sound came from Mateka, nor from the bungalow, nor from any of the tents, no sound and no movement. Before their astonished eyes the camp lay like an enchanted city, changed in their absence from a place of racket and bustle and resounding laughter, to a silent ghost of its former lively self.

"What's happened?" exclaimed the Winnebagos to each other. "Is everybody gone on a trip?"

Mystified, they climbed up the hill, and at the top they found Miss Judy going from tent to tent with her flashlight, as if making the nightly rounds after lights out.

"O Miss Judy," they called to her, "what's happened?"

"Shh-h-h!" replied Miss Judy, holding up her hand for silence and coming toward them. "Everybody's in bed," she whispered when she was near enough for them to hear her."

"In bed!" exclaimed the Winnebagos in astonishment. "At half past six in the evening? What for?"

"It's Topsy-Turvy Day," replied Miss Judy, laughing at their amazed faces. "We're turning everything upside down tonight. Hurry and get into bed. The rising bugle will blow in half an hour."

Giggling with amusement the Winnebagos sped to their tents, unrolled their ponchos, made up their beds in a hurry, undressed quickly and popped into bed. Not long afterward they heard the dipping of paddles and the monotonous "one, two, one two," of the boatswain as the crew of the Turtle started out for practice. The Turtle's regular practice hour was the half hour before rising bugle in the morning.

Tired with her long paddle that day Hinpoha fell asleep as soon as she touched the pillow, and was much startled to hear the loud blast of a bugle in the midst of a delightful dream. "What's the matter?" she asked sleepily, sitting up and looking around her in bewilderment. "What are they blowing the bugle in the middle of the night for?"

"They aren't blowing the bugle in the middle of the night," said Sahwah with a shriek of laughter at Hinpoha's puzzled face. "This is Topsy-Turvy Day, don't you remember? We're going to have our regular day's program at night time. It's ten minutes to seven, and that's the bugle for morning dip. Are you coming?"

Sahwah was already inside her bathing suit, and Agony had hers half on. Hinpoha replied with an unintelligible sound, one-eighth grunt and seven-eights yawn, and rising tipsily from her bed she looked around for her bathing suit with eyes still half sealed by sleep. Sahwah helped her into the suit and seizing her hand led her down to the water, where half the camp, shaking with convulsive merriment at the absurdity of the thing, were scrupulously taking their "morning dip," with toothbrush drill and all the other regular morning ablutions.

The rising bugle blew while they were still at it and they sped back to the tents to get dressed, making three times as much racket about this process as they ever did in the morning. Most of the tents had no lights, because ordinarily no one needed a light to undress by and so the lanterns which had been given out at the beginning of the season were scattered everywhere about camp as especial need for them had arisen upon various occasions. But getting dressed in the dark is harder than getting undressed, and most of the tents were in an uproar.

"I can only find one stocking," wailed Oh-Pshaw, after vainly feeling around for several minutes. "Where's my flashlight, Katherine?"

"I'm sorry, but I just dropped it into the water jar," replied Katherine, "and it won't work any more." Katherine herself was hopelessly involved in her bloomers, having put both feet through the same leg, and was lying flat on the floor trying to extricate herself.

"Can I go with only one stocking on?" Oh-Pshaw persisted plaintively. "I haven't another pair here in the tent."

"I can't find my middy," Jean Lawrence was lamenting, paying no heed to Oh-Pshaw's troubles in regard to hosiery.

Tiny Armstrong, reaching down behind her bed for some missing article of her costume, gave the bed such a shove that it went flying out of the tent carrying the rustic railing with it, and they heard it go bumping down the hillside.

"Strike one!" called Tiny ruefully. "That's what comes of being so strong. I'll knock the tent down next."

"Will somebody please tell me where my middy is?" Jean cried tragically. "I can't find it anywhere."

"Will someone tell me where the other leg of my bloomers is?" exclaimed Katherine. "I've shoved both feet through the same leg three times, now. There goes the breakfast bugle!"

"Oh, where is my other stocking?"

"Where is my middy?"

"Who's gone south with my shoes?"

The threefold wail floated down on the breeze as footsteps began to run down the Alley in the direction of the bungalow. A few minutes later the occupants of Bedlam slid as unobtrusively as possible into the lighted bungalow; Oh-Pshaw with her bloomers down around her ankles in a Turkish effect, to hide the fact that she had on only one stocking; Jean with her sweater buttoned tightly around her, Katherine with her red silk tie bound around one knee to gather up the fullness of her bloomer leg, for the elastic band had burst from the strain of accommodating two feet at once; and Tiny had one white sneaker and one red Pullman slipper on. Glancing around at the rest they saw many others in the same plight--middies on hindside before, odd shoes and stockings, sweaters instead of middies, and various other parodies on the regular camp uniform--and immediately they ceased to feel conspicuous. Taking their places around the table the campers proceeded to sing one of the morning greetings:

  "Good morning to you,
  Good morning to you,
  Good morning, dear comrades,
  Good morning to you!"

"Did you have a good night's sleep?" was a question that made the rounds of the table, with many droll replies, as the cereal was being passed. Hilarity increased during the meal, as the absurdity of eating cereal and fruit and toast at eight o'clock in the evening overcame the girls one after the other, and the room rang with witty songs made up on the spur of the moment.

At "Morning Sing" which followed breakfast, they solemnly sang "When Morning Gilds the Skies," "Awake, my soul, and with the sun," "Kathleen Mavourneen, the grey dawn is breaking," and other morning songs; the program for the day was read, and Dr. Grayson gave a fatherly lecture on the harmfulness of staying up after dark. Getting the tents ready for tent inspection without lights was a proceeding which defies description. Tiny Armstrong was still on the hillside searching for her runaway bed when the Lone Wolf reached Bedlam in her tour of inspection, and was given a large and black zero in consequence. She finally gave up the search and wandered into Mateka, where, with lanterns hanging above the long tables, Craft Hour was in full swing, the girls busily working at clay modeling, wood-blocking and paddle decorating, while the moon, round-eyed with astonishment, peeped through the doorway at the singular sight. Still more astonished, the same moon looked down on the tennis court an hour later, where a lively folk dance was going on to the music of a graphaphone; couples spinning around in wild figures, stepping on each other's feet and every now and then dropping down at the outer edge of the court and shrieking with laughter, while the dance continued faster and more furiously than before, till the sound of the bugle sent the dancers flying swiftly to their tents to wriggle into clammy, wet bathing suits that seemed in the dark to be an altogether different shape from what they were in the daylight.

Standing on top of the diving tower when Tiny's cry of "All in!" rang out, Sahwah leaped down into the darkness and had a queer, thrilling moment in mid air when she wondered if she would ever strike the water, or would go on indefinitely falling through the blackness. Laughing, shouting, splashing, the campers sported in the water until all of a sudden a red canoe shot into their midst and the director of Camp Altamont, accompanied by two assistants, came in an advanced stage of breathlessness to find out what the matter was. They heard the noise and the splashing of water and thought some accident had occurred.

"No accident, thanks, only Camp Keewaydin stealing a march on old Father Time and turning night into day," Dr. Grayson called from the dock, and amid shouts of laughter from all around the messengers paddled back to their camp to assure the wakened and excited boys that nothing had happened, and that it was only another wild inspiration of the people at Camp Keewaydin.

At midnight, when the bugle blew for dinner, everyone was as hungry as at noon, and the kettle of cocoa and the trays of sandwiches were emptied in a jiffy.

"Now what?" asked Dr. Grayson, looking around the table with twinkling eyes, when the last crumb and the last drop of cocoa had disappeared.

"Rest hour," replied Mrs. Grayson emphatically. "Rest hour to last until morning. Blow the bugle, Judy."

"Wasn't this the wildest evening we ever put in?" said Katherine, fishing her hairbrush out of the water pail. "Where's Tiny?" she asked, becoming aware that their Councilor was not in the tent,

"Down on the hill looking for her bed." replied Oh-Pshaw.

"Goodness, let's go down and help her," said Katherine, and Oh-Pshaw and Jean streamed after her down the path. They stumbled over the bed before they came to Tiny. It had turned over sidewise and fallen into a tiny ravine, and as she had gone straight down the hill searching for it she had missed it. Katherine stepped into the ravine, dragging the two others with her, and at the bottom they landed on top of the bed.

Getting an iron cot up a steep hill is not the easiest thing in the world, and when they had it up at the top of the hill they all sat down on it and panted awhile before they could make it up. Then they discovered that the pillow was missing and Katherine obligingly went down the hill again to find it.

"I shan't get up again for a week," she sighed wearily as she stretched between the sheets.

"Neither will I," echoed Tiny.

Jean and Oh-Pshaw did not echo. They were already asleep.

Katherine had just sunk into a deep slumber when she started at the touch of a cold hand laid against her face. "What is it?" she cried out sharply.

A face was bending over her, a pale little face framed in a lace boudoir cap. Katherine recognized Carmen Chadwick. "What's the matter?" she asked.

"My Councy's awful sick, and none of the other girls will wake up and I don't know what to do," said Carmen in a scared voice.

"What's the matter with her?" asked Katherine.

"She ate too many blueberries, I guess; she's got an awful pain in her stomach, and chills."

Katherine hugged her warm pillow. "Take the hot water bottle out of the washstand," she directed, without moving. "There--it's on the top shelf. There's hot water in the tank in the kitchen. And have you some Jamaica ginger? No? Take ours--it's the only bottle on the top shelf. Now you'll be all right."

Katherine sank back into slumber. A few minutes more and she was awakened again by the same cold hand on her face.

"What is it now?"

"The Jamaica ginger," asked Carmen's thin voice in a bewildered tone, "what shall I do with it? Shall I put it in the hot water bottle?"

Katherine's feet suddenly struck the floor together, and with an explosive exclamation under her breath she sped over to Avernus and took matters in hand herself. She had tucked Carmen into her own bed in Bedlam, and she spent the remainder of the night over in Avernus, taking care of the Lone Wolf, snatching a few moments' sleep in Carmen's bed now and then when her patient felt easier. It was broad daylight before she finally settled into uninterrupted slumber.