The Campfire Girls at Camp Keewaydin by Hildegard G. Frey
Chapter IV. The Alley Initiation
Folk-dancing hour had just drawn to a close, and the long bugle for swimming sounded through camp. The sets of eight which had been drawn up on the tennis court in the formation of "If All the World Were Paper," broke and scattered as before a whirlwind as the girls raced for their tents to get into bathing suits. Sahwah, as might be expected, was first down on the dock, but close at her heels was another girl whom she recognized as living in one of the Avenue tents. This girl, while broader and heavier than Sahwah, moved with the same easy grace that characterized Sahwah's movements, and like Sahwah, she seemed consumed with impatience to get into the water.
"Oh, I wish Miss Armstrong would hurry, hurry, hurry!" she exclaimed, jigging up and down on the dock. "I just can't wait until I get in."
"Neither can I," replied Sahwah, scanning the path down the hillside for a sight of the swimming director.
"Do you live in the Avenue or the Alley?" asked the girl beside her.
"In the Alley," replied Sahwah.
"Gitchee-Gummee. Which one are you in?"
"That's way up near the bungalow, isn't it?"
"Yes, where are you?"
"The very last tent in the Alley, that one there, buried in the trees."
"Oh, how lovely! You're right near the path to the river, aren't you? I wish I were a little nearer this end. It would save time getting to the water."
"But you're so near the bungalow that you only have to go a step when the breakfast bugle blows. You have the advantage there," replied Sahwah. "We down in Gitchee-Gummee have to run for all we're worth to get there before you're all assembled. We have hard work getting dressed in time. We put on our ties while we're running down the path, as it is."
The other girl laughed, showing a row of very white, even teeth. "Did you see that girl who came running into the dining-room this morning with her middy halfway over her head?"
Sahwah laughed, too, at the recollection. "That was Bengal Virden, the one they call the Elephant's Child," she replied. "She lives in Ponemah, with some friends of mine. She had loitered with her dressing and didn't have her middy on when the breakfast bugle blew, so she decided to put it on en route. But while she was pulling it on over her head she got stuck fast in it with her arms straight up in the air and had to come in that way and get somebody to pull her through. I never saw anything so funny," she finished.
"Neither did I," replied the other.
They looked at each other and laughed heartily at the remembrance of the ludicrous episode.
All this while Sahwah was trying to recollect her companion's name, but was unable to do so. It was impossible to remember which girls had answered to which names at the general roll call on that first night in Mateka.
Just then the other said, "I don't believe I recall your name--I'm very stupid about remembering things."
"That's just what I was going to say to you!" exclaimed Sahwah, with a merry laugh. "It's impossible to remember so many new names at once. I think we all ought to be labeled for the first week or so. I'm Sarah Ann Brewster, only they call me Sahwah."
"What a queer nickname! It's very interesting. Is it a contraction of Sarah Ann?"
"No, it's my Camp Fire name."
"Oh, are you a Camp Fire girl?"
"How splendid! I've always wished I could be one. What does the name mean?"
"Sunfish!" replied Sahwah. "The sun part means that I like sunshine and the fish part means that I like the water."
"Oh-h!" replied the other with an interested face. Then she began to introduce herself. "I haven't any nice symbolic name like yours," she said, "but mine is sort of queer, too."
"What is it?" asked Sahwah.
"Undine!" repeated Sahwah. "How lovely! I've always been perfectly crazy about Undine since I got the book on my tenth birthday. Undine was fond of water, like I was. What's the rest of your name?"
"Girelle," replied Undine.
"Do you live in the east or in the west?" asked Sahwah. "You don't speak like the Easterners, and yet you don't speak like us Westerners, either. What part of the country are you from?"
"No part at all," answered Undine. "My home is in Honolulu."
"Not really?" said Sahwah in astonishment.
"Really," replied Undine, smiling at Sahwah's look of surprise. "I was born in Hawaii, and I have lived there most of my life."
"Oh," said Sahwah, "I thought only Hawaiians lived in Hawaii--I didn't know anyone else was ever born there."
"Lots of white people are born there," replied Undine, politely checking the smile that wreathed her lips at Sahwah's ingenuous remark. "But," she added, "most of the people in the States seem to think no one lives in Hawaii but natives, and that they wear wreaths of flowers around their necks all the time and do nothing but play on ukuleles."
Sahwah laughed and made up her mind that she was going to like Undine very much. "I suppose you swim?" she asked, presently.
Undine nodded emphatically. "It's the thing I like to do best of anything in the world. Do you like it? Oh, yes, of course you do. You call yourself the Sunfish on that account."
Sahwah affirmed her love for the deep, and thrilled a little at discovering an enthusiasm to match hers in this girl from Honolulu. The rest of the Winnebagos, although good swimmers, did not possess in an equal degree Sahwah's inborn passion for the water. Sahwah and Undine both felt the call of the river as it flowed past the dock; to each of them it beckoned with an irresistible invitation, until they could hardly restrain themselves from leaping off the boards into the cool, glassy depths below.
"Here comes Miss Armstrong!" shouted somebody at the other end of the dock, as the big Australian came into view down the path, and there was a scramble for the diving tower.
The swimming place at Camp Keewaydin was divided into three parts. A shallow cove at the left of the dock, where the curve of the river formed a tiny bay, was the sporting ground of the Minnows, the girls who could not swim at all; the Perch, or those who could swim a little, but were not yet sure of themselves, were assigned to the other side of the dock, where the water was slightly deeper, but where they were protected by the dock from the full force of the current; while the Sharks, the expert swimmers, were given the freedom of the river beyond the end of the pier. The diving tower was on the end of the pier and belonged exclusively to the Sharks; it was fifteen feet high, and had seven different diving boards placed at various heights. Besides the diving tower, there was a floating dock anchored out in midstream, having a springboard at either end. There was also a low diving board at the side of the pier for the Perch to practice on.
Miss Armstrong came down on the dock in a bright red bathing suit which shone brilliantly among the darker suits of the girls. She rapidly separated the Minnows from the other fish, and set them to learning their first strokes under the direction of one of the other councilors. Then she lined the remaining girls up for the test which would determine who were Sharks and who were Perch. The test consisted of a dive from any one of the diving boards of the tower and a demonstration of four standard strokes, ending up with a swim across the river and back.
About a dozen dropped out at the mere reading of the test and accepted their rating as Perch without a trial; as many more failed either to execute their dives properly or to give satisfaction in their swimming strokes. Sahwah, burning with impatience to show her skill, climbed nimbly up to the very top of the tower and went off the highest springboard in a neat back dive that drew applause from the watchers, including Miss Armstrong. She also passed the rest of the test with a perfect rating.
"You're the biggest Shark so far," remarked Miss Armstrong, as Sahwah clambered up on the dock after her swim across the river, during which she had almost outdistanced the boat which accompanied her over and back.
Sahwah smiled modestly as one of the old campers started a cheer for her, and turned to watch Undine Girelle, who was mounting the diving tower. When Undine also went off the highest springboard backward, and in addition turned a complete somersault before she touched the water, Sahwah realized that she had met her match, if not her master. Heretofore, Sahwah's swimming prowess had been unrivalled in whatever group she found herself, and it was a matter of course with the Winnebagos that Sahwah should carry off all honors in aquatics. Now they had to admit that in Undine Girelle Sahwah had a formidable rival and would have to look sharply to her laurels.
"Isn't she wonderful?" came in exclamations from all around, as Undine sported in the water like a dolphin. "But then," someone added, "she's used to bathing in the surf in Hawaii. No wonder."
There were about fifteen put in the Shark class in the first try-out, of whom Sahwah and Undine were acknowledged to be the best. Hinpoha and Gladys and Migwan also qualified as Sharks; Katherine went voluntarily into the Perch class, and Agony failed to pass her diving test, although she accomplished her distance swim and the demonstration of the strokes.
Agony felt somewhat humiliated at having to go into the second class; she would much rather have been in the more conspicuous Shark group. Sahwah had already made a reputation for herself; Hinpoha drew admiring attention when she let her glorious red curls down her back to dry them in the sun; but she herself had so far made no special impression upon the camp. Why hadn't she distinguished herself like Sahwah, or Undine Girelle, Agony thought enviously. Others were already fast on their way to becoming prominent, but so far she was still going unnoticed. Her spirit chafed within her at her obscurity.
Oh-Pshaw, alas, was only a Minnow. The fear of water which had lurked in her ever since the accident in her early childhood had kept her from any attempt to learn to swim. It was only since she had become a Winnebago and had once conquered her fear on that memorable night beside the Devil's Punch Bowl that she began to entertain the idea that some day she, too, might be at home in the water like the others. It was still a decided ordeal for her to go in; to feel the water flowing over her feet and to hear it splash against the piles of the dock and gurgle over the stones along the shore; but she resolutely steeled her nerves against the sound and the feel of the water, forcing back the terror that gripped her like an icy hand, and courageously tried to follow the director's instructions to put her face down under the surface. It was no use; she could not quite bring herself to do it; the moment the water struck her chin wild panic seized her and she would straighten up with a choking cry. She looked with envy at the other novices around her who fearlessly threw themselves into the water face downward, learning "Dead Man's Float" inside of ten minutes. She would never be able to do that, she reflected sorrowfully, as she climbed up on the dock before the period was half over, utterly worn out and discouraged by her repeated failures to bring her head under water.
Beside her on the dock sat a thin wisp of a girl whose bathing suit was not even wet.
"Didn't you go in?" asked Oh-Pshaw.
"No," replied the girl in a high, piping voice, and Oh-Pshaw recognized her as the dweller in Avernus who had come over that first day and asked them how to make her bed. Carmen Chadwick, they had found out her name was.
"I'm afraid of the water," continued Carmen. "Mamma never let me go in at home. She doesn't think it's quite ladylike for girls to swim."
Oh-Pshaw smiled in spite of herself. "Oh, I don't think it makes girls unladylike to learn how to swim," she defended. "It's considered to be a fine exercise; about the best there is to develop all the muscles."
"Oh!" said Carmen primly. "That's what mamma doesn't like, to have my muscles all lumpy and developed. She wants to keep me soft and curved."
Oh-Pshaw stifled a shriek with difficulty, and turning aside to hide her twinkling eyes she caught sight of the Lone Wolf standing on the dock not far away, gazing mournfully into the Minnow pond.
"What do you think of her?" asked Oh-Pshaw hastily, steering the conversation away from muscles and kindred unladylike topics.
"She's my Councy," replied Carmen.
"My Councy--my Councilor. I'm frightened to death of her."
"Why, what does she do?" asked Oh-Pshaw in consternation.
"She doesn't do anything, in particular," replied Carmen. "She just stares at me solemn as an owl and every little while she puts her head down on her bed under the pillow. Do you know," she continued, sinking her voice to a whisper, "I believe there is something the matter with her mind."
"Really!" said Oh-Pshaw, her voice shaking ever so slightly.
"She doesn't seem to realize what she is saying, at all," said Carmen. "Do you remember when Dr. Grayson introduced her he said she was real good and pious, but she isn't a bit pious. She didn't bring any Bible with her and she didn't say any prayers before she went to bed."
"Maybe she said them to herself after she was in bed," remarked Oh-Pshaw, when she could control her voice again. "Lots of people do, you know."
"I don't believe she did," replied Carmen in a tone of conviction. "I watched her. She made shadow animals with her fingers on the tent wall in the moonlight the minute she got into bed, and she kept it up until she went to sleep."
Out of the corner of her eye Oh-Pshaw saw the Lone Wolf moving toward them, and hastily changed the subject. "Why did you put your bathing suit on when you didn't have any intention of going into the water?" she asked, seizing upon the first thing that came into her mind.
"It looks so well on me," replied Carmen. "Don't you think it does?"
"Y-yes, it d-does," admitted Oh-Pshaw, her teeth suddenly beginning to chatter, and she realized that she was sitting out too long in her wet bathing suit. "I g-guess I'll g-go up and get dressed," she finished, between the shivers that shook her like a reed.
The Lone Wolf came up to her and taking her own sweater off wrapped it around her and hustled her off toward her tent.
Just then the cry of "All out!" sounded on the dock and the swimmers came flocking out of the water with many an exclamation of regret that the time was up.
"Oh, please, Tiny, may I do this one dive?" coaxed Bengal from one of the boards on the tower. "I'm all in a position to do it--see?"
"Time's up," replied Tiny inexorably, and Bengal reluctantly relinquished her dive and climbed down from the tower.
"Next test for Sharks a week from today!" called Tiny in her megaphone voice to the Perches, as she mounted the diving tower in preparation for her own initial plunge. The swimming instructors had their own swimming time after the girls were out of the water.
Gladys and Migwan were dripping their way back to Ponemah, one on either side of Bengal Virden, who was entertaining them with tales of former years at camp, when they were startled to see Miss Peckham standing on top of a high rock wildly waving them back.
"Don't go near the tent!" she shrieked.
"Why not?" called Migwan in alarm, as the three girls stood still in the path, the water which was dripping out of their bathing suits collecting in a puddle around their feet.
"There's a snake underneath the tent, a great big snake," answered Miss Peckham in terrified tones.
"Well, what of it?" demanded Bengal coolly. "I've seen lots of snakes. I'm not afraid of them. Come on, let's get a forked stick, and let's kill it."
She stooped to wring out the water which had collected in the bottom of her bathing suit and then started forward toward Ponemah.
Miss Peckham, high on her rock, raised a great outcry. "Stay where you are!" she commanded. "Don't you go near that tent."
Bengal kept on going, looking about her for a forked stick.
"Bengal Virden!" screamed Miss Peckham, in such a tone of terror that Bengal involuntarily stood still in her tracks, dropping the stick she was in the act of picking up. "It's a deadly poisonous snake," gasped Miss Peckham, beginning to get breathless from fright, "a monstrous black one with red rings on it. I saw it crawling among the leaves. It reared up and menaced me with its wicked head. Don't you stir another step!" she commanded as Bengal seemed on the point of going on.
"What's the matter?" asked a voice behind them, and there was Miss Judy, just coming out of her tent with her wet bathing suit in her hand.
"There's a terrible poisonous snake under our tent," replied Miss Peckham. "I was just coming out of the door after my nap when I saw it gliding underneath. It's down there now, under the bushes."
"How queer!" replied Miss Judy, looking with concern at her wildly excited cousin. "We've never had large snakes around here. What color did you say it was?"
"It had broad, alternate rings of red and black," replied Miss Peckham, with the air of one quoting from an authority, "the distinguishing marks of the coral snake, one of the seventeen poisonous reptiles out of the one hundred and eleven species of snakes found in the United States."
"A coral snake!" gasped Miss Judy, in real alarm, while the other three, taking fright from the tone of her voice, began to back down the path.
Other dwellers in the Alley came along to see what the commotion was about and were warned back in an important tone by Miss Peckham. The timid ones took to their heels and fled to the other end of camp, while the more courageous hung about as near as they dared come and stared fascinated at the miniature jungle of ferns and bushes that grew under Ponemah to a height of two or three feet. Sahwah, whose insatiable curiosity as usual got the better of her fears, climbed a tree quite close to Ponemah and peered down through the branches, all agog with desire to see the dread serpent show itself.
"Come down from there--quick!" called someone in a nervously shaking voice. "Don't you know that snakes climb trees?"
"Nonsense," retorted Sahwah. "Whoever heard of a snake climbing a tree?"
An argument started below, several voices upholding each side, some maintaining emphatically that snakes did climb trees; others holding out quite as determinedly that they didn't.
"Anyway, this one might," concluded the one who had started the argument, in a triumphant tone.
"What are we going to do?" someone asked Miss Judy.
"I'll get father to come and shoot it," replied Miss Judy.
Just then there came an excited shriek from Sahwah. "It's coming out! I see the bushes moving."
The girls scattered in all directions; Miss Peckham, up on her rock, covered her ears with her hands, as though there was going to be an explosion.
"Here it comes!"
Sahwah, leaning low over her branch, nearly fell out of the tree in her excitement, as her eye caught the gleam of red and black among the bushes. Miss Judy scrambled up on the rock beside Miss Peckham.
There was a violent agitation of the ferns and bushes underneath Ponemah, a sort of scrambling movement, accompanied by a muffled squeaking, and then a truly remarkable creature bounced into view--a creature whose body consisted of a long stocking, red and black in alternate stripes, in the toe of which some live animal frantically squeaked and struggled, leaping almost a foot from the ground in its efforts to escape from its prison, and dragging the gaudy striped length behind it through a series of thrillingly lifelike wriggles.
"Hi!" called Sahwah with a great shout of laughter. "It's nothing but a stocking with something in it."
In reaction from her former alarm Miss Judy laughed until she fell off the rock, and sat helplessly on the ground watching the frantic struggles of the creature in the stocking to free itself. Hearing the laughter, those who had fled at the first alarm came hastening back, and all promptly went into hysterics when they saw the stocking writhing on the ground, and all were equally as helpless as Miss Judy and Sahwah.
"Only Tiny Armstrong's stocking!" gasped Miss Judy, wiping away her tears of merriment with her middy sleeve. "I told her they would cause a riot in camp!"
Only Miss Peckham did not laugh; she looked crossly around at the desperately amused girls.
"Oh, Miss Peckham," gurgled Bengal, "you said it reared up and menaced you with its great, wicked h-head! You said its hood was swelled up with ferocity and venom, and it hissed sibilantly at you."
Bengal rolled over and over on the ground, shrieking with mirth.
Miss Peckham, her face a dull red, moved off in the direction of the tent.
Others came up, excitedly demanding to know what the joke was.
"She thought it was a coral snake, and it was Tiny's stocking," giggled Bengal, going into a fresh spasm.
"Well, what if I did?" remarked Miss Peckham, turning around and looking at her frigidly. "It's a mistake anybody could easily make, I'm sure." And she went stiffly up into the tent.
Sahwah and Miss Judy had somewhat recovered their composure by this time, and having captured the wildly agitated stocking they released from it a half-grown chipmunk, who, beside himself with fright and bewilderment, dashed away into the woods like a flash.
"How frightened he was, poor little fellow!" cried Migwan compassionately. "It wasn't any joke for him. He must have been nearly frantic in there. How do you suppose he ever got in?"
"Walked in, or fell in, possibly," replied Miss Judy, "and then couldn't find his way out again. Tiny had those modest little stockings of hers hanging on the tent ropes this morning, and it was easy enough for a chipmunk to get in."
Carrying the stocking between them, and followed by all the girls who had been standing around, Sahwah and Miss Judy started for Bedlam to tell Tiny about the panic her hosiery had caused, but halfway to Bedlam the trumpet sounded for dinner and the deputation broke up in a wild rush for the bungalow. Miss Peckham carefully avoided Miss Judy's eye all through dinner.
When the Winnebagos sauntered back to their tents for rest hour they all found large, wafer-sealed envelopes lying in conspicuous places upon their respective tables. Sahwah pounced upon the one in Gitchee-Gummee and looked at it curiously. On it was written in large red letters:
TO THE DWELLERS IN GITCHEE-GUMMEE IMPORTANT!!!
"Whatever can this be?" she asked in mystified tones. Miss Judy was not in the tent.
"Open it," commanded Agony.
Sahwah slit the envelope with the knife that she always kept hanging at her belt, and pulled out a sheet of rough, brown paper, on which was drawn the picture of a girl bound fast to a tree by ropes that went round and round her body, while a band of Indians danced a savage war dance around her. Underneath was printed in the same large red letters as those which adorned the outside of the envelope:
BE DOWN ON THE DOCK AT SUNDOWN WITHOUT FAIL PREPARED TO UNDERGO THE ORDEAL WHICH ALL DWELLERS IN THE ALLEY MUST SUFFER BEFORE BEING WELCOMED INTO THE INNER CIRCLE OF ALLEY SPIRITS. WARNING: MENTION NOT THIS SUMMONS TO A LIVING SOUL OR AWFUL WILL BE THE CONSEQUENCES. SIGNED: THE TERRIBLE TWELVE. P.S. BRING YOUR BATHING SUITS.
"What on earth?" cried Hinpoha in bewilderment.
"It's the Alley Initiation!" exclaimed Sahwah. "I heard someone asking when it was going to be. Mary Sylvester and Jo Severance and several more of the old girls were talking about it while they were in the water today. It seems that the girls who have lived in the Alley before always hold an initiation for the new girls before they let them in on their larks."
"I wonder what they're going to do to us," mused Hinpoha. "That advice to bring your bathing suit sounds suspicious to me."
"Do you suppose they're going to throw us into the river?" asked Agony.
"Nonsense," replied Sahwah. "Half the new girls in the Alley can't swim. Dr. Grayson wouldn't allow it, anyway. He made a girl come out of the water during swimming hour this morning for trying to duck another girl. They'll just make us ridiculous, that's all."
"Well, whatever they ask us to do, let's not make a fuss," said Hinpoha. "Here comes Miss Judy. Put that letter out of sight and act perfectly unconcerned."
Sahwah whipped the envelope into her suitcase and flung herself down on her bed; the others followed her example; and when a moment later Miss Judy stepped into the tent and looked quizzically at the trio she found them apparently wrapped in placid slumber.
Shortly before seven that evening, when the Avenue girls were dancing in the bungalow, Sahwah and Hinpoha and Agony quietly detached themselves from the group and slipped down to the dock to find Katherine and Oh-Pshaw and Jean Lawrence already down there, swinging their feet over the end of the pier and waiting for something to happen. Down the hillside other forms were stealing; Migwan, and Gladys, and Bengal Virden, followed by Tiny Armstrong, until practically all the inhabitants of the Alley were gathered upon the dock. Miss Judy was leaning over the edge of the pier untying the launch.
The neophytes watched intently every move that the old girls made, and were somewhat reassured when they saw that they had brought their bathing suits, too.
"Are all assembled?" asked Miss Judy, straightening up and looking over her shoulder inquiringly.
"Not yet," answered Mary Sylvester, taking an inventory of girls present.
"Who isn't here yet?"
"Carmen Chadwick and the Lone Wolf. Oh, they're coming now, so is Miss Amesbury."
Migwan felt a little flustered as Miss Amesbury came smiling into their midst. She didn't in the least mind being initiated, but she did rather hate to have Miss Amesbury see her made ridiculous. She would much rather not have her looking on.
Carmen Chadwick looked quite pale and scared as she joined the group on the dock, and took hold of Katherine's arm as if to seek her protection.
"All ready now?" asked Miss Judy.
"Ay, ay, skipper," replied Tiny Armstrong.
"Man the boat!" commanded Miss Judy.
The girls got into the launch and Miss Judy started the engine. They rode a short distance up the river to the Whaleback, a small island shaped, as its name indicated, like a whale's back. It was quite flat, only slightly elevated above the surface of the water. On one side it had rather a wide beach covered with stones and littered with driftwood; behind this beach rose a dense growth of pines that extended down to the very edge of the water on the other side of the island.
The initiation party disembarked upon the beach. A huge fire was laid ready and Miss Judy lit it, then she requested the new girls to sit down in a place which she designated at one side of it, while the old girls seated themselves in a row opposite. Sahwah took note that the new girls were in the full glare of the firelight, while the old ones sat in the shadow.
Miss Judy opened the ceremonies. Stepping into the light, she addressed the neophytes. "Since the dwellers in the Alley live together in such intimate companionship it is necessary that all be properly introduced to each other, so that we shall never mistake our own. We shall now proceed with the introductions. As soon as a new girl or councilor recognizes herself in the pictures we shall proceed to draw, let her come forward and bow to the ground three times in acknowledgment, uttering the words, 'Behold, it is I! who else could it be?'"
She poked up the fire to a brighter blaze and then sat down beside Tiny Armstrong on the end of a log. As she seated herself Jo Severance rose and came forward demurely. Jo was an accomplished elocutionist, and a born mimic. Assuming a timid, shrinking demeanor, and speaking in a high, shrill voice, she piped,
"Mother, may I go out to swim?" "Yes, my darling daughter, Put on your nice new bathing suit, But don't go near the water!"
"Don't you think it's unladylike to have your muscles all hard and developed?"
* * * * *
Oh-Pshaw buried her face in her handkerchief with a convulsive giggle. The voice, the intonation, the expression, were Carmen Chadwick to a T. But how did the Alleys know about her attitude toward bathing? She had not told anyone. Then she recalled that the Lone Wolf had walked behind them on the pier that morning when Carmen had been talking to her. Had the Lone Wolf also heard them talking about her? Agony wondered in a sudden rush of embarrassment.
There was no mistaking the first "portrait." All eyes were focused upon Carmen, and blushing and shrinking she went forward to make the required acknowledgment.
"Beh-hold, it is I; w-who else could it be?" she faltered, and it sounded so irresistibly funny that the listeners went into spasms of mirth.
Carmen crept back to her place and hid her face in Katherine's lap while Jo Severance passed on to the next "portrait." Climbing up an enormous tree stump, she flung out her arms and began to shriek wildly, waving back an imaginary group of girls. Then she proclaimed in important tones: "It had broad, alternating rings of black and red, the distinguishing marks of the coral snake, one of the seventeen poisonous reptiles out of the one hundred and eleven species of snakes found in the United States. It reared up and menaced me with its great, wicked--"
The remainder of her speech was lost in the great roar of laughter that went up from old and new girls alike.
Miss Peckham turned fiery red, and looked angrily from Jo Severance to Miss Judy, but there was no help for it; she had to go forward and claim the portrait.
"Behold, it is I; who else could it be?" she snapped, and the mirth broke out louder than before. The "who else could it be?" was so like Miss Peckham.
One by one the other candidates were shown their portraits, that is, as many as had displayed any conspicuous peculiarities.
"O Pom-pom! O dear Pom-pom, O darling Pom-pom!" gushed Jo, rolling her eyes in ecstasy, and Bengal Virden, laughing sheepishly, went forward.
Miss Amesbury watched the performance with tears of merriment rolling down her cheeks. "I never saw anything so funny!" she exclaimed to Mary Sylvester. "That phrase, 'who else could it be' is a perfect gem."
Agony was somewhat disappointed that her portrait was not painted; it would have drawn her into more notice. So far she was only "among those present" at camp. None of the old girls had paid any attention to her.
After all the portraits had been painted the rest of the girls were called upon to do individual stunts. Some sang, some made speeches, some danced, and the worse the performance the greater the applause from the initiators. One slender, dark-eyed girl with short hair whistled, with two fingers in her mouth. At the first note Migwan and Gladys started and clasped each other's hands. The mystery of the fairy piping they had heard in the woods that first afternoon was solved. The same clear, sweet notes came thrilling out between her fingers, alluring as the pipes of Pan. The whistler was a girl named Noel Carrington; she was one of the younger girls whom nobody had noticed particularly before. Her whistling brought wild applause which was perfectly sincere; her performance delighted the audience beyond measure. She was called back again and again until at last, quite out of breath, she begged for mercy, when she was allowed to retire on the condition that she would whistle some more as soon as she got her breath back.
Noel's performance closed the stunts. When she had sat down Miss Judy rose and said that she guessed the Alley dwellers were pretty well acquainted with each other, and would now go for a swim in the moonlight. Soon all but Carmen Chadwick were splashing in the silvery water, playing hide and seek with the moonbeams on the ripples and feeling a thrill and a magic in the river which was never there in the daylight. After a glorious frolic they came out to stand around the fire and eat marshmallows until it was time to go back to camp.
"Initiation wasn't so terrible after all," Carmen confided to Katherine in the launch.
"Heaps of fun," replied Katherine, laughing reminiscently.
"Isn't Miss Peckham a prune?" whispered Sybil's voice behind Katherine. "I'm glad she's not my councilor."
"She's mine, worse luck," answered Bengal Virden's voice dolefully.
"Too bad," whispered Sybil feelingly.
The launch came up alongside the dock just as the first bugle was blowing, and the Alley, old girls arm in arm with the new, went straight up to bed.