But military authorities said that the nurses ought to have some military drill. War nurses must be organized, and there was no better method of effecting this orderly requisite than by military training.
One well-known captain of infantry informed Madame Cleaver that war nurses could not reach the highest grade of efficiency unless they were able to march in columns from one camp to another and be distributed in squads at the points needed.
With all this information at her tongue’s end, the madame put the matter to her uniformed girls in the assembly hall. Rumor of what was coming had reached them in advance, so that it did not fall as a surprise. The vote was unanimous in favor of the plan. The needed nursing expert was already a member of the faculty. The classes were formed a few days later.
These were the girls that gathered around a big out-door campfire—it was really a bonfire—in the snow of mid-winter on the evening of the opening of this story. Most of them were rich men’s daughters, but there were no snobs among them. They were girls of vigor and vim, intelligence and imagination, practical and industrious. They were lively and fond of a good time, but—most of them, at least,—would not slight a duty for pleasure. Behind every enjoyment was a pathway of tasks well done.
Madame Cleaver was Chief Guardian of the fifteen Camp Fires of the Institute. The faculty was not large enough to supply all the adult guardians required, but that fact did not prove by any means an insurmountable difficulty. More than enough young women in Westmoreland, well qualified to fill positions of this kind, volunteered to donate their services in order to make the Camp Fire organization of the school complete. Indeed, these volunteer Guardians added materially to their influence and rank in the community by becoming connected with the Institute. There was, in fact, a waiting list of volunteers constantly among the social leaders of the place.
The Chief Guardian was mistress of ceremonies at the Grand Council Fire. Two hundred and thirty-nine girls in uniform, brown coats, campfire hats, and brown duck hiking boots, stood around the fire answering “Kolah” in unison by groups as the roll of the Fires was called. As each Fire was called and the answer returned, the Guardian stepped forward and gave a little recitation of current achievements. This program was varied here and there with music by a girls’ chorus and a girls’ orchestra. Everything went along with the smoothness, although with some of the deep dips and lofty lifts, of Grand Opera, until the name of the last Camp Fire, Flamingo, was called. Miss Harriet Ladd, the Guardian, stepped forward and said:
“Madame Chief Guardian, associate guardians, and Camp Fire Girls of Hiawatha Institute, I bring to you a message of things planned by Flamingo Camp Fire Girls, thirteen in number. As you know, there is in an adjoining state a strike of coal miners that has caused much suffering among the poor families of the strikers. High Peak lives in a mountain mining district. Her father is a mine owner and has given his consent to the extending of an invitation to Flamingo Camp Fire to work among these poor families and give them relief during the Christmas holidays. The arrangements have been completed, and the girls will start for Hollyhill tomorrow.”