Before the tents a great fire was burning, and the girls cried out happily at the sight of plates, with knives and forks and tin pannikins set by them, all spread out in a great circle near the fire. At the fire itself two or three men were busy with frying pans and great coffee pots, and the savory smell of frying bacon, that never tastes half as good as when it is eaten in the woods, rose and mingled with the sweet, spicy smell of the balsams and the firs, the pines and the spruces.
“Oh, but I’m glad we’re here!” cried Dolly, with a huge sigh of content. “And I’m glad to see supper—and smell it!”
And what a supper that was! For many the girls, like Bessie, and Zara, and Dolly, it the first woods meal. How good the bacon was, and the raised biscuit, as light and flaky as snowflakes, cooked as only woods guides know how to cook them! And then, afterward, the great plates heaped high with flapjacks, that were to be eaten with butter and maple syrup that came from the trees all about them. Not the adulterated, wishy-washy maple syrup that is sold, as a rule, even in the best grocery stores of the cities, but the real, luscious maple syrup that is taken from the running sap in the first warm days of February, and refined in great kettles, right under the trees that yielded the sap.
And then, when it was time to turn in, how they did sleep! The air seemed to have some mysterious qualities of making one want to sleep. And the peace of the great out-of-doors brooded over the camp that night.
A RECKLESS EXCURSION
In the morning, when the girls awoke, there was no sign of the guides who had cooked that tempting and delicious supper the night before.
“Well, we’re on our own resources now, girls,” said the Guardian. “This may be a sort of Eden—I hope we’ll find it so. But it’s going to be a manless one. There’ll be no men here until we get ready to go away, if I can help it—except as visitors.”
“Well, I guess we can get along without them all right, for a change,” said Dolly, blushing a little.
“Some of the men I know who are interested in the Boy Scouts think the Camp Fire Girls are a good deal of a joke,” said Eleanore, with a light in her eyes that might have made some of the scoffers she referred to anxious to eat their words. “They say we get along all right because we always have some man ready to help us out if we get into any trouble. So I planned this camp just to show them that we can do just as well as any troop of Boy Scouts ever did.”
“I bet we can, too,” said Dolly, eagerly. “Why, with such a lot of us to do the work, it won’t be very hard for any one of us.”
“Not if we all do our share, Dolly,” said Eleanor, looking at her rather pointedly. “But if some of us are always managing to disappear just when there’s work to be done, someone will have to do double duty—and that’s not fair.”