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Title: The Camp Fire Girls at Sunrise Hill
Author: Margaret Vandercook
Release Date: August, 2005 [EBook #8662]
[Date last updated: February 4, 2008]
Character set encoding: ASCII
*** START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK CAMP FIRE GIRLS AT SUNRISE HILL ***
THE CAMP FIRE GIRLS AT SUNRISE HILL
By Margaret Vandercook
First of a series
"Oh dear, I do wish some one would invent something new for girls!" she
exclaimed, although there was no one in the room to hear her. "It seems
to me that all girls do nowadays is to imitate boys. We play their
games, read their old books and even do their work, when all the time
girls are really wanting girl things. I agree with King Solomon: 'The
thing that hath been, it is that which, shall be; and that which is done
is that which shall be done; and there is no new thing under the sun.'
At least not for girls!"
Then with a laugh at her own pessimism, Betty, like Hamlet, having found
relief in soliloquy, jumped up from her chair and crossing her room
pressed the electric button near the fireplace until the noise of its
ringing reverberated through the big, quiet house.
"There, that ought to bring some one to me at last," she announced.
"Three times have I rung that bell and yet no one has answered. Do the
maids in this house actually expect me to build my own fire? I suppose
I could do it if I tried."
She glanced at the pile of kindling inside her wood box and then at the
sweet smelling pine logs standing nearby, but the thought of actually
doing something for herself must have struck her as impossible, for the
next moment she turned with a shiver to stare through the glass of her
closed window, first up toward the sullen May sky and then down into her
Outside the gray clouds were slowly pursuing one another against a
darker background and in the garden the lilacs having just opened their
white and purple blossoms were now looking pale and discouraged as
though born too soon into a world that was failing to appreciate them.
In spite of her petulance Betty laughed. She was wearing a blue
dressing gown and her red-brown hair was caught back with a velvet
ribbon of the same shade. Her room was in blue, "Betty's Blue" as her
friends used to call it, the color that is neither light nor dark, but
has soft shadows in it.
Betty herself was between fifteen and sixteen. She had gray eyes, a
short, straight nose and her head, which was oddly square, conveyed an
effect of refinement that was almost disdain. Her mouth was a little
discontented and somehow she gave one the impression that, though she
had most of the things other girls wish for, she was still seeking for
"The outdoors is as dismal as I am, no wonder we used to be sun
worshipers," she said after a few more minutes of waiting; "but since
Prometheus stole the fire from heaven some ages ago, I really don't see
why I should have to freeze because the sun won't shine."
The house was strangely silent for the middle of a week-day afternoon; not a sound came either from below stairs or above, not the rattle of a window blind nor the echo of a single pair of footsteps.
At some time has a sudden silence ever fallen upon you with a sense of
foreboding like the hour before a storm or the moment preceding some
unexpected news or change in your life?
Betty hurried toward the back-stairs. She was leaning over the
banisters and had called once for one of the maids, when she ceased
abruptly, and stood still for several moments with her head tilted back
and her body tense with surprise.
So long as Betty could recall, there had been a vacant room in the rear
of the old Ashton homestead, which had stood for more than a hundred
years at the comer of Elm Street in Woodford, New Hampshire. She was
stupider than other people about remembering the events of her childhood
and yet she was sure that this room had never been used for any purpose
save as a storehouse for old pieces of furniture, for discarded
pictures, for any odds and ends that found no other resting place about
the great house. It was curious because the room was a particularly
attractive one, with big windows overlooking the back garden, but then
there was some story or other connected with it (old houses have old
memories) and this must have made it unpopular. Betty did not know what
the story was and yet she had grown up with a queer, childish dread of
this room and rarely went into it unless she felt compelled.
What transformation had taken place! The room was a store place no
longer, for most of the old furniture and all the other rubbish had been
cleared away and what was left was arranged in a comfortable, living
fashion. An old rug was spread out on the floor, a white iron bed stood
in one corner with an empty bookshelf above it. There was a vase on a
table holding a branch of blossoming pussy willow, and seated before one
of the big, open windows was a strange girl whom Betty Ashton never
remembered to have seen before in her life.
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