The Camp Fire Girls Do Their Bit by Hildegard G. Frey
Chapter XI. The Further Career of Many Eyes
"What a grand day, and the wind just right," exulted Sahwah on Saturday noon as the Winnebagos were hastening home from military drill. "It was just made for flying kites."
"Are Slim and the Captain coming?" asked Hinpoha.
"They said they were," replied Sahwah.
"Father's coming, too," said Agony. "He came home this morning. He said he would get Mr. Prince to come along with him."
"Oh, dear, I do hope we win, with him there!" said Hinpoha. "But I don't see how Many Eyes can help winning, with the four leaf clover and all the good luck signs tied to her tail," she finished confidently. Hinpoha believed firmly in the potency of her charms.
But alas for charms and good luck signs! Maybe the Fates stand in awe of them, but they are powerless in the case of a goat. The Winnebagos reached home just in time to see Many Eyes, impaled on Kaiser Bill's horns, borne swiftly through the garden toward the stable. Sahwah shrieked and darted in pursuit, whereupon the Kaiser collided with a tree and drove his whole head and shoulders through the paper form of Many Eyes and splintered her ribs like toothpicks. Then he dashed round and round the garden at top speed, scattering bits of her tail in his wake. By the time he had finally been subdued with an open umbrella there was not enough left of Many Eyes to know that she had ever been a kite.
The Winnebagos stood dumb with dismay and Sahwah nearly strangled with mingled rage and disappointment.
"We're finished, as far as the contest is concerned," said Agony gloomily.
Sahwah turned her back sharply and winked her eyes hard to keep the tears from falling. She had worked so hard to build Many Eyes, and here was all her work gone for nothing, all on account of that fiendish goat!
"Somebody will have to go and tell the Scouts that we withdraw our entry, I suppose," said Migwan.
"Yes, and maybe they won't believe that the goat smashed it," said Agony darkly. "Maybe they'll think we fell down on making a kite, or got cold feet or something."
Sahwah's eyes flashed and she whirled around fiercely, galvanized into action by Agony's words. "That Scout I was talking to was so sure we couldn't make a kite, and I was just aching to show him!" she said with tragic emphasis. Then resolution kindled in her eyes. "I said we were going into that contest, and we are! They'll never get a chance to say we backed down! I'm going to make another kite!"
"Oh, Sahwah, there isn't time," said Hinpoha hopelessly. "It's twelve o'clock already and the contest starts at two."
"Two hours!" replied Sahwah. "I can make one in two hours."
"But you haven't had your lunch----" began Hinpoha.
"Lunch!" exclaimed Sahwah scornfully. "Who wants any lunch? I'm going to build another kite!"
She sped into the house and in a few moments was busy nailing together another frame while the rest of the Winnebagos stood around and handed her tacks, paper, paste, and everything as she needed it. By half past one another Primitive Woman had been evolved by her flying fingers, Migwan and Gladys hastily constructing the tail while Sahwah made the kite proper.
"I believe I'd have time to paint a face on her," said Hinpoha. She seized her brush and put in an eye with rapid strokes. The clock chimed a quarter to two and Sahwah started up nervously.
"There isn't time to do any more, Hinnpoha," she said. "We'll just have time to get there now. She'll just have to go as she is."
"But can you call her Many Eyes if she only has one eye?" objected Hinpoha.
"Never mind what we call her," said Sahwah. "She's a kite, and that's all she needs to be. Call her One Eye if you like. What have you put in her tail?"
"Some of those little sample bags of salt," replied Migwan. "They were the only things we could find to put in as weights."
"Salt's bad luck!" wailed Hinpoha. "Oh, whatever did you take salt for?"
"Too late to change now," said Sahwah.
Agony looked scornfully at the new edition of Many Eyes. "For goodness' sake, you aren't going to enter that thing in the contest?" she exclaimed when she saw it. "Why, it looks perfectly crazy. Everybody will laugh at it. I'd rather stay out of the contest than enter such a looking kite. It looks like a scarecrow! For goodness' sake, don't enter that!"
Sahwah had to admit that the new Many Eyes was a rather laughable object, with her one eye and her miscellaneous tail and her one arm covered with yellow paper where the brown had given out.
"I don't care what she looks like, she'll fly," said Sahwah stoutly.
"Well, I care what she looks like," returned Agony. "I tell you everybody will laugh at us and our one-eyed kite."
"Let them laugh," retorted Sahwah, "I don't care."
"Oh, come on," said Migwan good-naturedly, "stop arguing about it. If we're going into the contest we'll have to get there pretty soon. We won't win, of course, but we'll show the boys that we're game, anyway. Like the 'poor, benighted Hindoo,' we'll 'do the best we kin do!' Be a sport, Agony, and come on."
Sahwah gathered up her kite in her arms and started for the door. Going through the hall she knocked Hinpoha's little purse mirror from the table and smashed it all to bits. Hinpoha was aghast. "Bad luck again!" she wailed.
"Never mind, 'Poha, I'll buy you another mirror," said Sahwah. "Just leave the pieces, I'll sweep them up when I come back."
Agony scolded about the crazy-looking kite all the way to Commons Field and Hinpoha resignedly accepted the fact that luck was against them, and they might as well not enter the contest. To all of their remarks Sahwah paid no heed, stubbornly keeping her determination to enter her beloved kite.
"We've got to be sports now and not back down," was the only thing she would say.
"Yes," said Migwan, "remember--"
"'Tis better to have flown and lost Than never to have flown at all!'"
The other entries had already arrived on the scene when the Winnebagos got there, and a good many of the Oakwood boys and girls had assembled to watch the contest. Commons Field was a five-acre lot running down to the river on the eastern side of the town, used as baseball field, footfall field, and general sporting grounds. It was a sort of natural amphitheatre, for a grassy hill curved around two sides of it, making an ideal place for the spectators to sit and watch what was going on below.
Lists of the entries in the contest had been posted on various trees.
GREAT KITE FLYING CONTEST Entries VICTORY BIRD........................Troop No. 1 Boy Scouts SKYSCRAPER..........................Troop No. 2 Boy Scouts MIKADO II...........................Troop No. 3 Boy Scouts SAMMY BOY..............................St. Andrew's League AMERICAN EAGLE...................Sunday School Association MANY EYES........................Winnebago Camp Fire Girls
"How graciously they put us at the end of the list," remarked Sahwah.
The Captain and Slim were there waiting for them and looked at Many Eyes critically, but they forebore to laugh at her. Sahwah felt as though she would explode if they made fun of her. But they made no disparaging remarks, although they both felt dubious about the flying qualities of a kite in the shape of a Primitive Woman. However, they were game and promised to shout for her with all their might.
The Scout who had taken Sahwah's entry that day under the tree came strolling over, curious to see what kind of a kite she had produced.
"Ho, ho!" he scoffed. "What kind of a kite do you call that? That's nothing but a paper doll. That's just the kind of a kite you'd expect a girl to make. Now when you're making a kite, you want to make a kite, not a paper doll! And what did you go and paint that one eye on there for and nothing else, and then enter her as Many Eyes?"
Sahwah forbore to reply, and walked away, shielding her poor darling with her body against the curious stares and comments of the other contestants. Mr. Wing was sympathetic when he heard of the tragic fate of the original Many Eyes and did not laugh at her hopscotch successor, but the artist, who was with him, laughed uncontrollably, which hurt Sahwah's feelings and increased the slight antagonism she already had toward him. So she walked away from him, too, and took her place with the contestants, who were forming in a line in the field. All around her she heard amused comments passed upon the shape of No. 6 entry; everybody called it the "paper doll." In height and breadth it conformed to the prescribed measurements laid down by the rules of the contest, but it did look so odd for a kite to have a head and arms and legs! All the other entries were the regulation kite shape. Victory Bird and American Eagle had pictures of eagles with outstretched wings pasted upon them. The whistle blew and the kites were launched in air and immediately the sky was split with the shouts of the various rooters.
"VICTORY BIRD! VICTORY BIRD! VICTORY BIRD!"
"SAMMY BOY! SAMMY BOY! SAMMY BOY!"
"SKYSCRAPER! SKYSCRAPER! SKYSCRAPER!"
In the midst of the din came the feebler, but stanch cheer of the Winnebagos. Nyoda noticed that Agony did not cheer for Many Eyes; she had slipped away from the Winnebagos and stood by herself a few paces off, trying to look like a disinterested spectator.
"She won't cheer for Many Eyes because she's ashamed of her and doesn't want people to know she's her entry!" was the painful thought that came into Nyoda's mind.
The rest of the Winnebagos stood gamely together and shrieked for their entry at the tops of their voices. Slim and the Captain stood by them loyally and made as much racket as they could.
The ripple of amusement that had caused Agony so much chagrin when the "paper doll" began her flight soon changed to astonished applause, for Many Eyes won in a walk! Straight up she soared, "just like an angel," as Sahwah described it afterwards, tugging so hard on her leash that the stick upon which the string was wound spun around in Sahwah's hand like a bobbin and it was all she could do to hold on to it. Once she got started she left all the others far behind. As Slim said, she "made them look like a row of stationary wash tubs."
Sammy Boy and the Skyscraper got their tails twisted and came to earth in a tangled mass; American Eagle was top heavy and flopped around in circles and never rose higher than fifty feet, Mikado went up steadily but slowly, straining at its weighted tail; and Victory Bird, whom everybody expected to win, came a close second, and that was all. Many Eyes got to the end of her string first and danced triumphantly about in the air, several yards above Victory Bird. With everything dead set against her, broken looking glass, salt weights, only one eye, and not a single good luck symbol on her anywhere she had come out first in spite of it all!
Then the Winnebagos nearly split their throats cheering, and Agony, who had slipped back to them, cheered louder than all the rest, advertising to all within earshot that she was a Winnebago and belonged to the winning entry.
"And to think," marveled Hinpoha, "that with all her lucky symbols, the other Many Eyes came to grief, and this one won without a single thing to help her! I'll never have faith in good and bad luck signs again!"
The Scout who had scoffed at Many Eyes before the contest came around afterward and looked her over thoughtfully, and discussed her construction in a decidedly respectful tone with Sahwah.
"Now, can a girl design a kite?" asked Sahwah triumphantly.
"I guess she can," admitted the Scout as graciously as he could under the circumstances. He was the one who had designed Victory Bird and it was hard for him to admit that he had been beaten by a girl.
"But then, you're a Camp Fire Girl," he added, as if it were not so much of a defeat to be beaten by a Camp Fire Girl as by an ordinary girl.
"But what did you put the one eye on her for?" he finished curiously.
"So she could see where she was going," replied Sahwah gravely.
"But why didn't you put two eyes in her?" persisted the Scout.
"Because she only needed one to see to get ahead of your kites," answered Sahwah, and felt that her triumph was complete.
After the contest was over the Winnebagos went out rowing on the river with Mr. Wing and the artist and Slim and the Captain. Oh-Pshaw wouldn't go, nothing would ever induce her to go rowing, so Nyoda stayed out with her while the rest went. Slim and the Captain had a private squabble as to which one should have Hinpoha in his boat and while they were squabbling she got into the boat with the artist, so the Captain solaced himself with Sahwah and Agony, and Slim took Gladys and Veronica. Migwan got into the boat with Mr. Wing, an arrangement which pleased them both, for Migwan thought Mr. Wing the most charming man in the world, and he was very fond of the sweet, Madonna-faced girl with the beautiful, thoughtful eyes and the intellectual forehead.
"Who's the nervy party with the chin whiskers that's cabbaged Hinpoha?" asked the Captain of Sahwah, scowling crossly after the leading boat, which was already drawing away from the rest of the party.
"He's an artist, his name is Prince," replied Sahwah. "He's a great friend of Agony's father."
"Is he a great friend of Hinpoha's, too?" demanded the Captain.
"She thinks he's the most wonderful man she ever met," replied Sahwah.
The Captain scowled again, and caught a crab, showering Sahwah and Agony with drops from his oar. "Excuse me!" he exclaimed, disgusted with himself. "Oh, hang it all, anyway!" This last was uttered under his breath, but Sahwah's sharp ear heard it. "Do you think he's so wonderful?" he demanded anxiously. The Captain had a vast respect for Sahwah's opinion in most matters.
"I don't like him at all!" Sahwah burst out vehemently. "He's always smiling, and all I can think of is a grinning hyena!" Sahwah spoke with unnecessary vigor, but the remembrance of how he had laughed at Many Eyes still rankled in her bosom.
"Why, Sahwah!" exclaimed Agony in a shocked tone. "How can you say such a thing? I think he's perfectly wonderful," she added. "So polished, and such charming manners."
Here Sahwah created a diversion by dropping her hat overboard, and the artist was forgotten in the exciting business of rescuing it from the swiftly running current.
Hinpoha, beside herself with joy at the victory of Many Eyes, was boasting to the artist what a wonderful group the Winnebagos were.
"And that's not all," she said, as she finished the tale of their numerous achievements on land and water, "we've got a real live baroness in our group!"
"Indeed!" said the artist, nearly dropping his oar in his surprise. "Which one is it?"
"Veronica," replied Hinpoha, gratified at the impression this statement had made upon her listener, and then she launched into a detailed account of Veronica's entire history, dwelling on the part where Veronica had played for the prince.
It was not until she was tucked into bed that night and was just dropping off to sleep that she remembered her promise not to tell anyone about Veronica. "But it was perfectly all right to tell him" she said to herself, "he was so interested and so sympathetic." And she dropped off to sleep with never a qualm of conscience about her broken promise.