The Carribou had turned her nose about and was gliding smoothly upstream, following the random curvings of the lazy Onawanda as it wound through the low-lying, wooded hills of the Shenandawah country, singing a carefree wanderer’s song as it flowed. It was a glorious, balmy day in late June, dazzlingly blue and white, sparklingly golden. It was the Carribou’s big day of the year, that last day of June. On all other days she made her run demurely from Lower Falls Station to Upper Falls, carrying freight and a handful of passengers on each trip; but every year on that last day of June freight and ordinary passengers stood aside, for the Carribou was chartered to carry the girls of Camp Keewaydin to their summer hunting grounds.
The Winnebagos looked around with interest at the girls who were to be their companions for the summer, all as yet total strangers to them. Girls of every shape and size, of every shade of complexion, of every age between sixteen and twenty. A number were apparently “old girls,” who had been at Camp Keewaydin in former years; they flocked together in the bow right behind the Winnebagos, chattering animatedly, singing snatches of camp songs, and uttering conjectures in regard to such things as whether they would be in the Alley or the Avenue; and who was going to be councilor in All Saints this year.
A number of these old girls were grouped in an adoring attitude around a pretty young woman who talked constantly in an animated tone, and at intervals strummed on a ukulele. Continual cries of “Pom-pom!” rose on the air from the circle surrounding her. It was “Dear Pom-pom,” “Pom-pom, you angel,” “O darling Pom-pom! Can’t you fix it so that I can be in your tent this year?” and much more in the same strain.
“Pom-pom is holding her court again this year, I see,” said a biting voice just behind Agony.
Agony maneuvered herself around on her perch and glanced down at the speaker. She was a decidedly plain girl with a thick nose and a wide mouth set in a grim line above an extraordinarily heavy chin. Her face was turned partly away as she spoke to the girl next to her, but Agony caught a glimpse of the sarcastic expression which informed her features, and a little chill of dislike went through her. Agony was extremely susceptible to first impressions of people.
The girl addressed made an inaudible reply and the first girl continued in low but emphatic tones, “Well, you won’t catch me fetching and carrying for her and playing the part of the adoring slave, I can tell you. I think it’s perfectly silly, the way the girls all get a crush on her.”
There was a pause, and then the other girl asked, somewhat hastily, “Who do you suppose will get the Buffalo Robe this year?”
“Oh, Mary Sylvester will, of course,” came the reply. “She nearly got it last year. Now that Peggy Atterbury isn’t coming back Mary’ll be the most popular girl in camp without a doubt. Look at her over there, trying to be sweet to Pom-pom.”