Both looked at the rock jutting out over the water, and shuddered at the height of the drop. At the far side of the gully the pond became a brook again and flowed on in a narrow channel the same as before. The woods were denser on this side of the gully and there was less sunlight filtering down through the branches. Several times they came upon clusters of fragile, pale Indian pipes growing out of wet, decayed stumps.
“Oh, it’s nice here,” breathed Veronica, revelling in the coolness.
“‘This is the forest primeval,’”
“‘The murmuring pines and the hemlocks—’”
“Only they aren’t murmuring pines and hemlocks,” she finished. “They’re mostly oaks and beeches.”
“It isn’t the primeval forest, either,” said Veronica. “There’s a tent over there between the trees.”
“Gracious!” exclaimed Sahwah, “and here am I, coming along with my shoes and stockings in my hand!” She sat down hastily and put on her foot-gear.
The tent stood quite close to the brook path and when they were nearly up to it they heard, coming from around the other side of it, a sound of vigorous splashing, punctuated by protesting squawks. Involuntarily the two girls stood still and listened. Above the squawking rose a voice.
“‘Curse on him,’ quote false Sextus, ‘will not the villain drown?’” it declaimed dramatically.
Then in a moment the splashes and squawks increased to an uproar, and then around the corner of the tent there came a chicken in full flight, its leathers dripping with water, in spite of which it made amazingly fast time. After the chicken came a balloon-like figure in a sky-blue bathrobe, uttering breathless grunts which were evidently intended to be peremptory commands to the chicken to halt its flight. At the sight of the two girls standing in the path the bath-robed pursuer fell back in astonishment.
“‘What noble Lucumo comes next to taste our Roman cheer?’” he exclaimed with a dramatic wave of the hand.
Then he stood transfixed, the gesture frozen in mid-air. “Sahwah!” he gasped. “Veronica! where in the world——”
The girls started forward with unbelieving eyes. “Slim!” cried Sahwah. “What are you doing here?”
“Tenting on the Old Camp Ground,” replied Slim, holding his voluminous bathrobe primly around him with one hand to cover the bathing suit which he wore under it, and shaking hands vigorously with the other.
Then, making a trumpet of his hands, he called loudly, “Captain, oh, Captain, come here quick!”
There was an upheaval inside the tent and the sound of something falling, and in a moment a second youth appeared around the corner of the tent, clad in khaki trousers and a blue and white blazer.
“What’s the matter?” he asked in alarm. Then he saw the girls and threw up his hands in amazement. “For the love of Mike!” he exclaimed elegantly.
“Captain!” cried Sahwah.