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- The Campfire Girls Go Motoring - 2/30 -
we had seen in our mind's eye had been country roads gleaming in the sunshine, but Gladys said scornfully that she would like to be shown the group of Camp Fire Girls who would let themselves be put off by rain.
"Let's build a Rain Jinx," said Sahwah, who always has the most whimsical inspirations.
"A what?" asked Gladys.
"A Rain Jinx," said Sahwah, warming to the idea. "A 'doings' to scare away the Rain Bird and the Thunder Bird."
As the foundation for her Rain Jinx she took Hinpoha's Latin book, which she declared was the driest thing in existence. On top of that she piled other books which were nearly as dry until she had a sort of altar. Then she proceeded to sacrifice all the rubbers, rain-coats and umbrellas she could find, as a propitiatory offering to the Rain Bird. Thoroughly in the mood for such nonsense, now she proceeded to chant weird chants around the altar to protect us from all sorts of things on the road; to soften the hearts of traffic policemen; to keep the tires from bursting, and the machinery from cutting up capers. It was the most ridiculous performance I have ever seen and Aunt Phoebe and the Doctor laughed themselves almost sick over it. I laughed so myself that I could not take notes on what she was saying and so can't let you laugh at it for yourselves. As a reporter I'm afraid I'm not an unqualified success.
In the midst of that "Vestal Virgin" business--Sahwah was flourishing a chamois vest to give us the idea of _vestal_--Nyoda walked in. There was only one low lamp burning in order to carry out Sahwah's idea of what a Rain Jinx ceremony should be like, and Nyoda couldn't clearly make out the objects in the room.
"Look out for the Rain Jinx!" called Sahwah, warningly. "If you touch it it will bring us bad luck instead of good."
But it was too late. Nyoda had stumbled over the pile of things on the floor, and in falling sent the elements of the Rain Jinx flying in all directions. Hinpoha flew to light the light and Sahwah picked Nyoda up out of the mess and set her in a chair, while the rest of us collected the scattered articles and tidied up the room, and Sahwah painted in lurid colors to Nyoda the dire consequences of her crime, and made her give her famous "Wimmen Sufferage" speech as an act of atonement.
The Rain Bird must have forgiven her on the strength of that speech, for there never was such a perfect blue and gold day as the morning we started out. I have already told you how we were divided up in the cars. Gladys in the Striped Beetle went first, carrying with her Hinpoha, Chapa and Medmangi, and Nyoda drove the Glow-worm right behind her with Sahwah, Nakwisi and myself. Hinpoha insisted upon bringing Mr. Bob, her black cocker spaniel, along as a mascot. Of course, everybody wanted to sit beside the driver and we had to compromise by planning to change seats every hour to give us all a chance. We all carried our cameras in our hands to be ready to snap anything worth while as it came along, and beside that Nakwisi had her spy-glass along as usual and I had my reporter's note-book. In honor of my being reporter they let me sit beside Nyoda at the start.
Nakwisi couldn't wait until we got under way and bounced up and down on the seat with impatience. "What's the matter with you?" said Sahwah, "You're a regular _starting-crank_!"
"That will do, Sahwah," said Nyoda, with mock severity. "I want it distinctly understood that anybody who indulges in puns on this trip is going to get out and walk."
With that threat she settled herself behind the wheel and turned on the gasoline, or whatever it is you do to start a car. Thus we started off, like modern day Innocents Abroad, with the Winnebago banner across the back of each car, and our green veils fluttering in the breeze. Mr. Evans waved the paper on which the bet was recorded significantly, and shouted "Remember!" in a sepulchral tone, and it was plain to be seen he was sure he would win the bet. He even tempted Fate so far as to throw an old rubber after us as we departed, instead of an old shoe, to bring us luck according to the Rain Jinx. It landed in the tonneau of our car and Sahwah pounced upon it as a favorable omen and kept it for a mascot.
With a great cheering and waving of handkerchiefs we were off. The Striped Beetle was just ahead of us in all the glory of its new coat of paint and its bright banner, and I couldn't help thrilling with pride to think that I, for once, belonged to such a gay company, I, who all my life had to be content with shabby things. I suppose we must have cut quite a figure with our tan suits all alike and our green veils, for people stopped to look at us as we passed through the streets. It was not long before we were outside the city limits and running along the western road toward Toledo.
I always did think September was the prettiest month in which to go through the country in the lake region on account of the grapes. The vineyards stretched for miles along the road and the air was sweet with the perfume of the purple fruit. There were wide corn-fields, too, that made me think of the poem:
"Up from the meadows rich with corn, Clear in the cool September morn--"
Oh, there never was such a beautiful country as America, nor such a happy girl as I! In one place someone had planted a long strip of brilliant red geraniums through the middle of a green field and the effect was too gorgeous for description. (I'm glad I noted all those things and put them down on the first part of the trip, for afterwards I scarcely thought of looking at the scenery.)
The girls in the car ahead kept shouting back at us and trying to make up a song about the Striped Beetle, and, of course, we had resurrected the one-time popular "Glow-worm" song and made the hills and dales resound with the air of the chorus:
"Shine, little Glow-worm, glimmer, Shine, little Glow-worm, glimmer, Lead us lest too far we wander, Love's sweet voice is calling yonder; Shine, little Glow-worm, glimmer, Shine, little Glow-worm, glimmer, Light the path, below, above, And lead us on to love!"
Then there would come a chorus of derision from the Striped Beetles, who politely inquired which one of us expected to be led to her Prince Charming by that mechanical Glow-worm; and flung back our chorus in a parody:
"Shine, little Glow-worm, glimmer, Till the Law makes you put on the dimmer!"
Then we christened the horn of the Striped Beetle "Love", because that was the only "sweet voice" we heard calling yonder. I don't believe I ever had such a good time as I did on the road to Toledo. We got there about noon and went to a large restaurant for dinner. Even there people looked up from their tables as we eight girls came in, dressed in our wood brown and green costumes, and we heard several low-voiced remarks, "They're probably Camp Fire Girls."
We had a great deal of fun at dinner where we all sat at one big table. Sahwah and Hinpoha sat at the two ends and got into a dispute as to which end was the head of the table. "Stop quarreling about it, you ridiculous children," said Nyoda. "'Wherever Magregor sits--' you know the rest."
While she was speaking I saw a tourist at another table, dressed in a long dust coat and wearing monstrous goggles that covered the entire upper half of his face and made him look like a frog, lean forward as if to catch every word. Nyoda is perfectly stunning in her motor suit and I couldn't blame the man for admiring her, but we did want Nyoda to ourselves on this trip, and the thought of having men mixed up in it put a damper on my spirits. I suppose Nyoda will leave us for a man sometime, but the thought always makes me ill. I came out of my little reverie to find that Gladys had appropriated my glass of water and Sahwah and Hinpoha were still disputing about being the head of the table. Finally, we jokingly advised Sahwah to ask the waiter, and she promptly took us up and did it, and found that Hinpoha was the head.
"I'm going to have the head at the next place we eat," Sahwah declared, owning her defeat with as good grace as she could. And Fate winked solemnly and began to slide off the knees of the gods.
From Toledo to Ft. Wayne, our next stop, there were two routes, the northern one through Bryan and the southern one through Napoleon and Defiance. As there didn't seem to be much difference between them we played "John Kempo" and the northern route won, two out of three. As we were threading our way through the streets of the town, an old woman tried to cross the street just in front of the Glow-worm. Nyoda sounded the horn warningly but the noise seemed to confuse her. She got across the middle of the street in safety and Nyoda quickened up a bit, when the woman lost her head and started back for the side she had come from. She darted right in front of the Glow-worm, and although Nyoda turned aside sharply, the one fender just grazed her and she fell down in the street. Of course, a crowd collected and we had to stop and get out and help her to the sidewalk where we made sure she was not hurt. Nyoda finally took her in tow and piloted her across the street to the place where she wanted to go.
When the excitement was over and the crowd had dispersed we returned to the car and Nyoda started up once more. Then for the first time we noticed that the Striped Beetle was nowhere in sight. Apparently Gladys had not noticed our stopping in the confusion of the busy street and had gone on ahead without us.
Gladys, as the leader, had the road map with her with the route marked out which we were to follow. We hastened to the end of the street, expecting to catch sight of the Striped Beetle just around the corner, but it was nowhere to be seen. We stopped at a store and asked if they had seen it come by and they said, yes, it had just passed and had turned to the left up --th Street. We followed swiftly, thinking to come upon the girls each moment, but there was no sign of them.
"They surely have discovered by this time that we are not behind them and must be waiting for us," said Nyoda. "I can't understand it."
"Gladys is probably trying to see if we can trail her through the city to the motor road," said Sahwah. "You know how much we talked about being self-reliant? We'll probably find her where the road branches out
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