The Camp Fire Girls at the Seashore
Or, Bessie King's Happiness
Camp Fire Girls Series, Volume VI
By JANE L. STEWART
The Saalfield Publishing Company
Chicago Akron, Ohio New York
By The Saalfield Publishing Company
[Illustration: They had hearty
appetites for the camp breakfast.]
The Camp Fire Girls at the Seashore
FROM THE ASHES
The sun rose over Plum Beach to shine down on a scene of confusion
wreckage that might have caused girls less determined and courageous
than those who belonged to the Manasquan Camp Fire of the Camp Fire
Girls of America to feel that there was only one thing to do--pack up
and move away. But, though the camp itself was in ruins, there were no
signs of discouragement
among the girls themselves. Merry laughter
with the sound of the waves, and the confusion
among the girls was more
apparent than real.
"Have you got everything sorted, Margery--the things that are completely
ruined and those that are worth saving?" asked Eleanor Mercer, the
Guardian of the Camp Fire.
"Yes, and there's more here that we can save and still use than anyone
would have dreamed just after we got the fire put out," replied Margery
Burton, one of the older girls, who was a Fire-Maker. In the Camp Fire
there are three ranks--the Wood-Gatherers, to which all girls belong
when they join; the Fire-Makers, next in order, and, finally, the
Torch-Bearers, of which Manasquan Camp Fire had none. These rank next to
the Guardian in a Camp Fire, and, as a rule, there is only one in each
Camp Fire. She is a sort of assistant
to the Guardian, and, as the name
of the rank implies, she is supposed
to hand on the light of what the
Camp Fire has given her, by becoming a Guardian of a new Camp Fire as
soon as she is qualified.
"What's next?" cried Bessie King, who had been working
with some of the
other girls in sorting out the things which could be used, despite
damage done by the fire that had almost wiped out the camp during the
"Why, we'll start a fire of our own!" said Eleanor. "There's no sort of
use in keeping any of this rubbish, and the best way to get rid of it is
just to burn it. All hands to work now, piling it up and seeing
there is a good draught
underneath, so that it will burn up. We can get
rid of ashes easily, but half-burned things are a nuisance."
"Where are we going to sleep to-night?" asked Dolly Ransom, ruefully
surveying the places where the tents had stood. Only two remained, which
were used for sleeping
quarters by some of the girls.
"I'm more bothered about what we're going to eat," said Eleanor, with a
laugh. "Do you realize that we've been so excited that we haven't had
any breakfast? I should think you'd be starved, Dolly. You've had a
busier morning than the rest of us, even."
"I _am_ hungry, when I'm reminded of it," said Dolly, with a comical
gesture. "Whatever are we going to do, Miss Eleanor?"
"I'm just teasing you, Dolly," said Eleanor. "Mr. Salters came over from
Green Cove in his boat, when he saw the fire, to see if he couldn't help
in some way, and he's gone in to Bay City. He'll be out pretty soon with
a load of provisions, and as many other things as he can stuff into the
"Then we're really going to stay here?" said Bessie King.
"We certainly are!" said Eleanor, her eyes flashing. "I don't see why we
should let a little thing like this fire drive us away! We are going to
stay here, and, what's more, we're going to have just as good a time as
we planned to have when we came here--if not a better one!"
"Good!" cried half a dozen of the girls together.
Soon all the rubbish
was collected, and a fire had been built. And,
while Margery Burton applied
a light to it, the girls formed a circle
about it, and danced around, singing the while the most popular of Camp
Fire songs, Wo-he-lo.
"That's like burning all the unpleasant
things that have happened to us,
isn't it?" said Eleanor. "We just toss them into the flames,
and--they're gone! What's left is clean and good and useful, and we will
make all the better use of it for having lost what is burning now."
"Isn't it strange, Miss Eleanor," said Bessie King, "that this should
have happened to us so soon after the fire that burned up the Pratt's
"Yes, it is," replied Eleanor. "And there's a lesson in it for us, just
as there was for them in their fire. We didn't expect to find them in
such trouble when we started to walk there, but we were able to help
them, and to show them that there was a way of rising from the ruin of
their home, and being happier and more prosperous
than they had been
"We're going to do that, too," said Dolly, with spirit. "I felt terrible
when I first saw the place in the light, after the fire was all out, but
it looks different already."
"Mr. Salters will be here soon," said Eleanor. "And now there's nothing
more to do until he comes. We'll have a fine meal--and if you're half as
hungry as I am you'll be glad of that--and we'll spend the afternoon in
getting the place to rights. But just now the best thing for all of us
to do is to rest."
"I'll be glad to do that," said Dolly Ransom, as she linked her arm with
Bessie's and drew her away. "I am pretty tired."
"I should think you would be, Dolly. I haven't had a chance to thank you
yet for what you did for me."
"Oh, nonsense, Bessie!" said Dolly, flushing. "You'd have done it for
me, wouldn't you? I'm only just as glad as I can be that I was able to
do anything to get you away from Mr. Holmes--you and Zara."
"Zara's gone to pieces completely, Dolly. She was terribly
frightened--more than I was, I think, and yet I don't see how that can
be, because I was as frightened as I think anyone could have been."
"I never saw them get hold of you at all, Bessie. How did it happen?"
"Well, that's pretty hard to say, Bessie. You know, after we found out
that that yacht was here just to watch us, I was nervous, and so were
"I think we had reason to be nervous, don't you?"
"I should say so! Well, anyhow, as soon as I saw that the tents were on
fire, I was sure that the men on the yacht had had something to do with
it. But, of course, there wasn't anything to do but try as hard I could
to help put out the fire, and it was so exciting that I didn't think
about any other danger until I saw a man from the boat that had come
ashore pick Zara up and start to carry her out to it."
"They pretended to be helping us with the fire, and they really did
help, Bessie. I guess we wouldn't have saved any of the tents at all if
it hadn't been for them."
"Oh, I saw what they were doing! When I saw the man pick Zara up,
though, I knew right away what their plan was. And I was just going to
scream when another man got hold of me, and he kept me from shouting,
and carried me off to the yacht in the boat. Zara had fainted, and they
kept us down below in a cabin and said they were going to take us along
the coast until we came to the coast of the state Zara and I were in
when we met you girls first."
"We guessed that, Bessie. That was one of the things we were all
worrying about when we came here--that they might try to carry you two
off that way. I don't see how it can be that you're all right as long as
you're in this state, and in danger as soon as you go back to the one
you came from."
"Well, you see, Zara and I really did run away, I suppose. Zara's father
is in prison, so they said she had to have a guardian, and I left the
Hoovers. So that old Farmer Weeks--you know about him, don't you?--is
in that state, and he's got an order from the judge near
Hedgeville putting us in his care until we are twenty-one."
"But that order's no good in this state?"
"No, because here Miss Mercer is our guardian. But if they can get us
into that other state, no matter how, they can hold us."
"Oh, I see! And, of course, Miss Eleanor understood right away. When we
told the men who had helped us with the fire that you were missing, they
said they were afraid you must have been caught in the fire, but Miss
Eleanor said she was sure you were on the yacht. And they just laughed."
"I heard that big man, Jeff, talking to her when she went aboard
"Yes. They wouldn't let her look for you, and he threatened to put her
off if she didn't come ashore. You heard that, didn't you?"
"Oh, yes! Zara and I could hear everything she said when she was in the
cabin on the yacht. But we couldn't let her know where we were."
"Well, just as soon as she could get to a telephone, Miss Eleanor called
up Bay City, and asked them to send policemen or some sort of officers
who could search the yacht. But we were terribly
afraid that they would
sail away before those men could get here, and then, you see, we
couldn't have done a thing. There wouldn't have been any way of catching
"And they'd have done it, too, if it hadn't been for you, Dolly! I don't
see how you ever thought of it, and how you were brave enough to do what
you did when you did think of it."
"Oh, pshaw, Bessie--it was easy! I knew enough about yachts to
understand that if their screw was twisted up with rope it wouldn't
turn, and that would keep them there for a little while, anyhow. And
they never seemed to think of that possibility
at all. So I swam out
there, and, of course, I could dive and stay down for a few seconds at a
time. It was easier, because I had something to hold on to."
"It was mighty
clever, and mighty
plucky of you, too, Dolly."
"There was only one thing I regretted, Bessie. I wish I'd been able to
hear what they said when they found out they couldn't get away!"
"I wish you'd been there, too, Dolly," said Bessie, laughing. "They were
perfectly furious, and everyone
on board blamed everyone
else. It took
them quite a while to find out what was the matter, and then even after
they found out, it meant a long delay before they could clear the screw
and get moving."
"I never was so glad of anything in my life, Bessie, as when we saw the
men from Bay City coming while that yacht was still here! We kept
watching it all the time, of course, and we saw them send the sailor
over to dive down and find out what was wrong. Then we could see him
going down and coming up, time after time, and it seemed as if he would
get it done in time."
"It must have been exciting, Dolly."
"I guess it was just as exciting for you, wasn't it? But it would have
if, after having held them so long, it hadn't been quite
"Well, it _was_ long enough, Dolly, thanks to you! I hate to think of
where I would be now if you hadn't managed it so cleverly."
"What will they do to those men on the yacht, do you suppose?"
"I don't know. Miss Eleanor wants to prove that it was Mr. Holmes who
got them to do it, I think. But that won't be decided
until her cousin,
Mr. Jamieson, the lawyer, comes. He'll know what we'd better do, and I'm
sure Miss Eleanor will leave it to him to decide."
"I tell you one thing, Bessie. This sort of persecution
of you and Zara
has got to be stopped. I really do believe they've gone too far this
time. Of course, if they had got you away, they'd have been all right,
because in that other state where you two came from what they did was
all right. But they got caught at it. I certainly do hope that Mr.
Jamieson will be able to find some way to stop them."
"I'm glad we're going to stay here, aren't you, Dolly? Do you know, I
really feel that we'll be safer here now than if we went somewhere else?
They've tried their best to get at us here, and they couldn't manage it.
Perhaps now they'll think that we'll be on our guard too much, and leave
"I hope so, Bessie. But look here, there were two girls on guard last
night, and what good did it do us?"
"You don't think they were asleep, do you, Dolly?"
"No, I'm sure they weren't. But they just didn't have a chance to do
anything. What happened was this. Margery and Mary were sitting back to
back, so that one could watch the yacht and the other the path that
leads up to the spring on top of the bluff, where those two men we had
seen were sitting."
"That was a good idea, Dolly."
"First rate, but those people were too clever. They didn't row ashore
a boat--not here, at least. And no one came down the path, until later,
anyhow. The first thing that made Margery think there was anything wrong
was when she smelt smoke and then, a second later, the big living tent
was all ablaze."
"It might have been an accident, Dolly, I suppose--"
"Oh, yes, it might have been, but it wasn't! They were here too soon,
and it fitted in too well with their plans. Miss Eleanor thinks she
knows how they started the fire."
"But how could they have done that, if there were none of them here on
the beach, Dolly?"
"She says that if they were on the bluff, above the tents, they could
very easily have thrown down bombs that would smoulder, and soon set the
canvas on fire. And there was a high wind last night, and it wouldn't
have taken long, once a spark had touched the canvas, for everything to
blaze up. They couldn't have picked a much better night."
"I don't suppose that can be proved, though, Dolly."
"I'm afraid not. That's what Miss Eleanor says, too. She says you can
often be so sure of a thing yourself that it seems that it must have
happened, without being able to prove it to someone else. That's where
they are so clever, and that's what makes them so dangerous. They can
hide their tracks splendidly."
"I don't see why men who can do such things couldn't keep straight, and
really make more money honestly
than they can by being crooked."
"It does seem strange, doesn't it, Bessie? Oh, look, there's the _Sally
S._ with our breakfast--and there's another boat coming in. I wonder if
Mr. Jamieson can be here already?"
In a moment his voice proved that it _was_ possible, and a few minutes
later, while the girls were helping Captain Salters to unload the stores
he had brought with him, Eleanor was greeting her attorney
A NEW ALLY
"I guess you haven't met Billy Trenwith properly
yet, Eleanor," said
Charlie Jamieson, smiling.
"Maybe not," said Eleanor, returning the smile, "but I regard him as a
friend already, Charlie. He was splendid this morning. If he hadn't
understood so quickly, and acted at once, the way he did, I don't know
what would have happened."
"I'm afraid I didn't really understand at all, Miss Mercer," said
Trenwith, a good looking young fellow, with light brown hair and grey
blue eyes, that, although mild and pleasant enough now, had been as cold
as steel when Bessie had seen him on the yacht. "But I could understand
readily enough that you were in trouble, and I knew that Charlie's
cousin wouldn't appeal
to me unless there was a good reason. So I didn't
feel that I was taking
many chances in doing what you wished."
"I'm afraid you took more chances than you know about, Billy," said