The Camp Fire Girls Do Their Bit by Hildegard G. Frey
Chapter X. The Opening Career of Many Eyes
"Good morning, Winnebago friends, With your faces as bright as mine, Good morning, Winnebago friends, You're surely looking fine, Ashes to ashes, and dust to dust, If the pancakes don't get you the syrup must Good morning, Winnebago friends, With your faces as bright as, Your faces as bright as, Your faces as bright as mine!"
The Winnebagos, happy and hungry, gathered around the breakfast table in answer to the summons which Hinpoha had just sent echoing through the house. With the advent of the Winnebagos at Carver House, Nyoda's melodiously chiming Japanese dinner gong had been discarded in favor of a hoarse-throated fish horn, which bore some similarity to the sound of a bugle and was therefore to be preferred because it had more of a military flavor.
"Where's Sahwah?" asked Nyoda, noticing that her place was vacant
Hinpoha blew a second blast of the horn up the stairway, making a noise that would have waked the Seven Sleepers with ease, but there was no answer.
"Sahwah must be out taking a morning walk," announced Hinpoha, when her horn blast had failed to rout out the absentee, "she's forever exercising herself in the early morning hours--as if we didn't get enough exercise doing military drill! It's no wonder she's like a beanpole. I would be, too, if I was forever trotting the way she is. Here she comes now, tearing up the walk like a racehorse!"
"She probably heard your horn on the other side of the woods," said Nyoda, laughing, "and got here before it stopped blowing."
Sahwah came in quite out of breath and evidently tremendously enthusiastic about something.
"Nyoda," she burst out as soon as she was inside the door, "how fast would a Primitive Woman go up and how many pounds would she pull?"
"What?" asked Nyoda, looking up inquiringly from the cup of cocoa she was handing to Gladys. The rest of the Winnebagos looked at Sahwah in open-mouthed astonishment.
"How fast would a Primitive Woman go up and how many pounds would she pull?" repeated Nyoda. "What is it, a riddle?"
"No, a kite," replied Sahwah impatiently. "I mean a kite built like Many Eyes, our Primitive Woman symbol; would she fly high and pull a heavy tail?"
"I haven't the slightest idea," replied Nyoda. "Why do you ask?"
"Because I've entered the kite-flying contest that the Boy Scouts of this town are having, and I thought of building my kite in the Primitive Woman shape."
"You've entered a kite-flying contest that the Boy Scouts are having!" exclaimed Hinpoha in surprise. "How on earth did you happen to do that?"
"It's open to outsiders," replied Sahwah. "I saw a Scout nailing a bulletin on a tree in the square down town challenging all the boys in town to a kite-flying contest on Commons Field next Saturday afternoon."
"All the boys in town!" replied Hinpoha. "Since when are you a boy?"
"Well," replied Sahwah, "I read the sign and I remembered how I used to love to fly kites with my brother and I thought what fun it would be to go into the contest. So I ran after the Scout who had nailed up the bulletin and asked him if we Winnebagos couldn't enter the contest, and he was awfully nice about it when he heard we were Camp Fire Girls. He said of course we couldn't build a decent kite, no girl could, but if we wanted to go into the contest and get beaten the Scouts wouldn't care. So I wrote our name in the space under the announcement that was left for the entries, and we're going to be in the contest! On the way home I thought of building the kite in the shape of Primitive Woman, which would be original and symbolic. Do you think she'd fly high, Nyoda?" she asked anxiously.
"I can't say," replied Nyoda. "I'll have to confess that I know nothing whatever about the art of flying kites. My childhood was sadly neglected, I'm afraid, but that's one thing I never did. All you can do is make one and try."
Sahwah set to work right after breakfast with sticks of wood and brown wrapping paper and by afternoon her kite was ready for its trial flight. All the Winnebagos went out to help fly it. The trial was a success. Primitive Woman soared high at a good rate of speed and pulled a five-pound tail. Jubilant, Sahwah stripped the common wrapping paper from the frame and with fine brown paper which Nyoda gave her began to construct a Primitive Woman which was a work of art. Hinpoha painted the features on the triangle-shaped head, and under her clever brush Many Eyes was soon looking out on the world with a serene and confident smile. The Winnebagos were enchanted with the result and all enthusiastic about the contest now.
"Many Eyes, you're holding the honor of the Camp Fire Girls in your hands," said Sahwah solemnly. "You've got to fly faster than any kite a mere Boy Scout can invent. You've got to win!" And it seemed to the girls, surrounding Many Eyes as she stood up against the wall to dry, that her smile widened in a promise of victory.
"Let's make a magic over her," suggested Hinpoha, "and then she can't lose," Hinpoha was always having rings wished on her fingers, and running around her chair to change her luck, and building rain jinxes before starting out on excursions.
"Let's find a four-leaf clover and fasten it on her," said Migwan. "Where'll we find one?"
"Out in the woods there's a place where there are some," replied Sahwah.
"We might take our supper out in the woods," suggested Nyoda. "Aren't we going to have a Ceremonial Meeting tonight to take Agony and Oh-Pshaw into the Winnebagos? We could have our Council Fire out in the woods after supper."
"Let's take Many Eyes along and make her our official mascot," suggested Sahwah. "We can install her with ceremonies, like we did Eeny-Meeny."
This bit of nonsense was seized upon by the Winnebagos as a grand inspiration. When Agony and Oh-Pshaw arrived at Carver House with their Ceremonial dresses in neat packages under their arms and their lists of honors in their hands they found the Winnebagos forming a procession out by the back gate. Sahwah headed the parade, holding up above her head a huge kite made in the form of the symbolic Primitive Woman, with a long tail which the rest of the Winnebagos carried like pages carrying a queen's court train.
"What on earth!" began Agony.
"Get on the end of the line and help carry her tail!" commanded Sahwah.
"What's the idea?" demanded Agony suspiciously. "Are we getting initiated?"
"No," explained Sahwah. "This is Many Eyes, our entry in the Boy Scout's kite-flying contest. We're conveying her in state to the Council Rock. We're going to make her our official mascot and then she'll be sure to win the contest."
"And we're going to find a four-leaf clover and put it on her and render her impassable," said Hinpoha. Hinpoha was trying to think of "unsurpassable," and "impassable" was the nearest she came to it.
Agony and Oh-Pshaw joined themselves on to the procession with alacrity.
"We passed the Boy Scouts' bulletin board on the way over," said Agony, "and we saw that the Winnebagos were entered in the contest."
"Were there any more entries?" asked Sahwah eagerly.
"Several," replied Agony. "Scout Troops Number One, Two and Three were entered."
"Now," said Hinpoha, who seemed to be mistress of ceremonies, "we're going to make a magic so that Many Eyes will win, and first we are going to do the Indian Silence. We're going to march to the woods in single file, carrying Many Eyes, and nobody must speak a word, or the charm will be broken. Nobody must speak until we've found the four leaf clover."
"How perfectly epic!" exclaimed Agony, falling in with the spirit of the occasion.
"Is everybody ready?" asked Hinpoha. "Come on, then. Start!"
The procession moved off like a snake past the barn and down the hill, Many Eyes smiling serenely ahead of her. The silence continued deep and sepulchral all the way down the hill and quite to the edge of the woods, and then Nyoda suddenly exclaimed, "The supper basket! Who has it?"
Nobody had it!
The Winnebagos looked sheepishly at one another and then Migwan and Gladys offered to go back and get it.
"We'll sit right here, and wait for you," said Hinpoha, "and none of us will speak a word until you come."
Many Eyes was propped against a tree while her escort sat around on the ground holding their handkerchiefs in front of their mouths to keep from talking. Migwan and Gladys presently came panting up and the procession resumed its way into the woods. It was harder walking here and the tail-bearers often stumbled against each other or accidentally kicked each other's shins, and when that happened they had to compress their lips tightly to keep back the exclamations of surprise or pain that involuntarily sought expression. The procession wound up beside the stream which Sahwah had discovered in the woods on the other side of the hill, at a smooth, grassy spot where the clover grew in abundance. Here they set Many Eyes down on the ground and began hunting diligently for the symbol of good luck. It was a good thing that the four leaf clover was found soon--and by Sahwah, too, which was taken as a further omen of good luck--or the strain of the silence might have been fatal to a few of the searchers. Agony was ready to burst long before the time limit was up.
Then, when the charm of the silence had gotten in its good work, and the little green quatrefoil had been fastened into the outstretched right hand of Many Eyes, Hinpoha selected several soft, flat stones from the stream and carved them with further good luck omens--the swastika, the horseshoe, and all the other signs she could think of that were supposed to bring good luck. These were to be a part of the kite's tail. A little later they all clasped hands and wished for success on the evening star. Then, to her great delight, Hinpoha caught a glimpse of the slender new moon over her left shoulder, and registered her wish on that. Meanwhile the others noticed a big black spider letting himself down from the tree above, directly in front of Many Eyes--another omen of good fortune. Never had the signs been so auspicious for any undertaking.
Nyoda carried Many Eyes with her when she took her place on the Council Rock. The Council Fire was to be held on the great flat rock that overhung the Devil's Punch Bowl; an impressive place indeed to hold a Camp Fire Ceremonial, up there right under the stars, it seemed, with the wind fiddling through the branches all around them and the water whispering to itself below. The rock was about twenty feet wide and as flat as a table.
Agony and Oh-Pshaw and Veronica, who were the lowest in rank of the Winnebagos, had gathered the wood for the fire and laid the fagots in place in the center of the rock, with the bow and drill and tinder beside it and the supply of firewood nearby.
Nyoda smiled whimsically at Many Eyes, standing against the perpendicular back ledge of the Council Rock, and with her heart full of love for the girls who could get so much fun out of a kite, wished success to their cause with all her soul. Then she stood up in the center of the rock and sent forth the clear call, the summons for the tribe of Wohelo to come to the Council Fire.
The call rang far out over the water and came echoing back from the surrounding hills, and before the echoes had died away it was answered from the depths of the wood, and then shadowy figures came stealing forward from between the tall trees, a silent file that came winding down to the Council Rock in a stately procession. The circle closed around Nyoda and she stooped to kindle the fire. As the bow flashed quickly back and forth and the drill whirled in its center, a low, musical chant rose from the circle:
"Keep rolling, keep rolling, Keep the fire sticks Briskly rolling, rolling, Grinding the wood dust, Smoke arises! Smoke arises! Ah, the smoke, sweetly scented, It will rise, it will rise, it will rise!"
The chant swelled out in volume to a dramatic climax as a puff of smoke burst forth beneath the point of the whirling drill. Nyoda adroitly caught the spark in a bed of tinder and raised it to her lips, blowing gently to fan it into flame, while the chant was resumed:
"Dusky forest now darker grown, Broods in silence o'er its own, Till the wee spark to a flame has blown, And living fire leaps up to greet The song of Wohelo."
The "wee spark" turned into a tiny point of flame and the tinder burst out into a merry blaze. Nyoda dropped it into the pile of fagots and the ceremonial fire was kindled, while the Winnebagos sprang to their feet, ready to sing, "Burn, fire, burn."
When that had been sung the Winnebagos still remained on their feet. There was a moment of silence and then they sang a hearty cheer:
"Oh, we cheer, oh, we cheer for Wohelo, For our comrades and friends so true, And our loyalty ever shall linger, Oh, Nakwisi, we sing to you! Oh, Chapa, we sing to you! Oh, Medmangi, we sing to you!" "Oh, Katherine, here's to you, Our hearts will e'er be true, We will never find your equal Though we search the whole world through!"
They were singing to the absent Winnebagos who would always be present in spirit wherever the Winnebagos were gathered together.
Agony and Oh-Pshaw were touched and felt a lump rising in their throats; it was so beautiful, this bond of affection between the Winnebagos. They were completely carried away by the dramatic atmosphere of a Winnebago Council Fire. They had never taken part in such an elaborate one. Both of them, by spasmodic efforts, had attained the rank of Fire Maker in the group to which they had formerly belonged, whose Guardian had meant well enough, but had neither the time nor the talent to become a successful Camp Fire leader. The group had never accomplished much, and had finally drifted apart, as many groups do, for lack of a powerful welding influence.
Agony and Oh-Pshaw, having been instrumental in starting the group, had "run" it to their hearts' content; that is, Agony ran it, for her dominating personality completely overshadowed her sister along with the rest of the members. Agony "ran" the Guardian, too, who admired her immensely, thought everything she did a symptom of genius, stood not a little in awe of her family connections, and let her have full sway in everything. Agony was fond of the Guardian, too, but naturally was not profoundly influenced by association with her.
But there was an altogether different atmosphere in the Winnebago group, as Agony soon discovered. No one girl had any more to say than the others, all worked together in perfect harmony, and all worshipped the same sun, Nyoda. She was a great lode star that drew them together, and kept them circling contentedly in their little orbits; she was their oracle, their all-wise counsellor, their loving elder sister. Around her the Winnebagos clustered, as the populace did about Peter, anxious to have his shadow fall upon them. The Twins had also fallen under her spell and after their first meeting had become her adoring slaves. "Run" Nyoda? The thought never entered Agony's mind.
In her own group Agony had achieved her honors easily, for the Guardian had not been too insistent about having things done well, and some of her honors were really only half earned. So she had become a Fire Maker without any strenuous efforts. Now her great ambition was to be a Torch Bearer. All the year at school she had looked with envy on the little round silver pins that Hinpoha and Migwan and Gladys wore and noticed how people who understood the meaning of that little pin always exclaimed admiringly, "Oh, you're a Torch Bearer!" Agony could not bear to have anyone get ahead of her, she must be a Torch Bearer, too. She could hurry up and get enough honor beads by the next Council meeting to be eligible.
After the ceremony of the installation was over and she and Oh-Pshaw were really Winnebagos, she spoke of the desire which lay near to her heart. It was in the little intimate talk time which always took place during the Ceremonial Meeting, when the flames began to burn down to embers, just before it was time to sing, "Now Our Camp Fire Fadeth."
"Nyoda," she said confidently, "I'm ready to become a Torch Bearer at the next meeting."
Nyoda looked at her with serious, thoughtful eyes. In the Winnebago group, it had not been customary for the girls to announce that they were worthy to be called Torch Bearer. Nyoda had herself conferred that honor upon them when she considered them worthy. No one had ever voiced her belief that she was ready, although Nyoda knew how each one had coveted the title. She was able to read Agony clearly, and knew that the keynote of her life was ambition. She was pretty certain that Agony wanted to be a Torch Bearer because it was the highest rank to which a Camp Fire Girl could aspire, and she wanted to be on the top. As yet she had seen no evidence of a humble desire to lose herself so deeply in the joy of service for others that self was forgotten. Agony was a born leader, there was no doubt about that, but Nyoda knew that she was not yet ruler over her own spirit. To the Winnebagos it seemed that Agony was already a Torch Bearer beyond compare, but Nyoda's inner voice of wisdom whispered, "Not yet." Agony must win that title in humility and self-forgetfulness before she could glory in it.
So she replied quietly, "When you have earned the right to be called Torch Bearer you shall be made one, but remember, Agony, that one does not become a Torch Bearer merely by earning a certain number of honor beads and standing up and repeating the Torch Bearer's Desire. A girl must have shown a steady power of leadership for a long time, and must satisfy all the questions in the Guardian's mind about her fitness for the rank. Also remember, Agony, that true leadership does not necessarily mean taking the world by storm and being tremendously popular with people. It may sometimes mean retiring to the background and playing a very insignificant part, instead of being always in the limelight. A good leader is first of all a good team worker, one who is willing to suppress her own personal inclinations for the good of the cause."
Agony, who was not given to examining her own faults very closely, failed to see wherein she fell short in any of these requirements, and was filled with elation as she thought that just as soon as Nyoda began taking special notice of her she would see that she was a candidate par excellence for the title of Torch Bearer.
"You shouldn't have asked to be made a Torch Bearer!" Sahwah whispered in her ear while Nyoda was stirring up the fire. "That isn't the way to do it; it's like handing yourself a bouquet!"
"Well, I didn't know it," Agony whispered back, not a whit abashed. "In our other group we had to ask for everything we got or we never would have gotten it."
Nyoda then turned to Oh-Pshaw, who had sat silent and thoughtful during the whole Council Meeting.
"Are you ready to be a Torch Bearer, too?" she asked.
"Oh, no," replied Oh-Pshaw modestly. "I'm not worthy to be called a Torch Bearer. I'm not a born leader, like Agony is." There was a world of unexpressed longing in her voice.
Nyoda thought seriously about the matter. Oh-Pshaw was certainly humble and unassuming enough, always kind and sweet and obliging, always willing to take any part in anything that was assigned her, but did she have the grit and backbone, the force of character which Nyoda considered necessary qualifications for a Torch Bearer? As yet she did not know.
The subject was dropped. The circle sat in a silence for a moment. Each one of the Torch Bearers in that circle was humbly wondering what Nyoda had ever seen in her to cause her to single her out for the honor. And each one became very sober as she thought about it and wondered if she had come up to Nyoda's expectations.
The fire was burning low and the embers sent only a feeble glow around the Council Rock. Behind them the forest stretched darkly away, and in the stillness that brooded over them the sound of the lapping water beneath came up with a curious distinctness. Oh-Pshaw shuddered as she heard it and drew closer to the fire.
"What's the matter, are you cold?" asked Nyoda.
"I hate the sound of running water!" exclaimed Oh-Pshaw. "It fairly makes my blood curdle. It's been so ever since I can remember. I hate it in daylight, but at night it makes my hair stand on end! If I were out here alone with it I'd simply go insane!"
"Why, how queer!" said Sahwah, unable to understand how anyone could be afraid of her beloved element, and the others laughed, too, thinking that Oh-Pshaw was only exaggerating, as most girls do over their little peculiarities.
"It is queer," said Agony, "because water doesn't affect me a bit like that. I love to hear it, day or night. But it's been that way with Oh-Pshaw ever since she was little. I can remember once when we were about five years old she had spasms because our nurse left us alone in the bathtub when the water was running in. She can't even stand it to hear the water running down the eave spouts during a heavy shower."
The Winnebagos all laughed again at this queer "bete noir" of Oh-Pshaw's, all but Nyoda. She knew something which the girls did not, and which neither Agony nor Oh-Pshaw herself knew, something which had been told her by Grandmother Wing in one of her talks with Nyoda. That was that when Oh-Pshaw was a baby only three months old she had been taken out in a sailboat by her father and mother on the river which ran through Oakwood. A squall came up and the boat capsized and all three were thrown into the wildly rolling river. They were promptly rescued by a nearby launch, all unhurt, but the moaning, gurgling sound of the water had stamped itself indelibly on Oh-Pshaw's tiny brain and she would never again be able to hear that gurgling noise without a sensation of horror. During her infancy, even the sound of water gurgling out of a bottle was sufficient to throw her into spasms. She had never been told about the accident, in the hope that she would outgrow the shock and get over the fear, but she had never outgrown it. She no longer had spasms when she heard water gurgling, but the sound chilled her to the very marrow of her bones, and she never went alone, even in daylight, past the river.
Nyoda knew how real this fear was and sympathized deeply with her, although she pretended to make light of it, as the others did. Nyoda and the Winnebagos loved to sit in the silence of the woods when the fire burned low and listen to the murmuring of the water, but for Oh-Pshaw's sake they must not do it to-night.
"Come, girls," Nyoda called cheerily, "'Fire's gwine out,' time to sing 'Mammy Moon' and then go home."
She poked the last embers of the fire into a little blaze, and the light and the lively measures of the song took Oh-Pshaw's mind off the gurgling water.
"Cross my heart, Mammy Moon, Termorrer I'll be an angel coon, I'll be a chile dat'll make you smile, Good--o-l-e Mam-my M-o-o-n!"
The circle all lay down with their heads on each other's shoulders in the drowsy attitude with which the song closes, and then Gladys's clear voice rose in the melody of the Camp Fire Girls' own lullaby, sung to the music of an Ojibway love song:
"In the still night, far, far below, The drowsy wavelets come and go, They weave a dream spell round Wohelo. "Mid the pine trees, the long night through, The wandering breezes croon to you, They breathe a sleep charm of mist and dew. "Heaven broods o'er you with stars aglow, The hearts of Night is beating low, Wokanda watches o'er Wohelo. Wokanda watches o'er Wohelo!"
Then the last ember burned out into darkness and with the aid of their little bug lights they stole home through the shadowy woods; Sahwah carrying Many Eyes in her arms and confident she was a winner; Agony filled with a great elation because her ambition to become a Torch Bearer would soon be realized; Oh-Pshaw sadly wishing she were a born leader like her sister; and Nyoda, walking with them, guessed what was in the mind of each and her heart went out to them in tender love as the heart of a shepherd goes out to his sheep.