THOSE “UNINTERESTED” PARENTS

“Girls,” said the president of the seven sibyls impressively, “do
you realize that it is too late for us to make any money to amount
to anything this year? I mean the school year, of course. The Black
Wizards have to make some; Billy told me, and you and I know what for,
or we haven’t had much trouble in making a pretty good guess. One of
the church societies is selling that candy we thought we could get hold
of. Our fudge goes off like hot cakes when we make any, but school is
nearly out and I’m proud to think that every one of the S. P.’s gets
out of finals, and that in spite of our new club and all our doings!”

“We had our scholarship up all the year before,” remarked Phoebe.

“Phoebe is nothing, if not frank,” laughed Bess.

“Traitoress!” hissed Fran, in such good imitation of a reading
which they had recently heard at school that they all applauded but
Phoebe, who declared that she thought the truth might just as well be
acknowledged. “I couldn’t have brought up any low grades while we were
doing all the extra things and taking the early hikes and all.”

“No, neither could I, Phoebe, you’re right,” said Jean. “All of which
goes to prove—-”

“‘That music is both elevating and refining’.”

“Stop your nonsense, Phoebe! I’m trying to get something across.”

“Oh. Sorry, Madame President. The subject was making money, I remember.”

“Exactly. The time has come to call on our worthy parents with the
request that they will advance the money for a tent and let us go
camping as soon as school is out. We have enough money in the treasury
for the books we positively have to have or think we have to have, as
my father says, so that’s all right, and we can have a real campaign in
the fall. Nan’s father says that we ought to start one for a real good
school library, since we are interested in books. He thinks that we
could get some good gifts from the people around town and that perhaps
we could stir the school board up to do something, maybe get the people
to vote them more money for it, though taxes are bad enough as it is,
he says.”

“My father says that he will take it up in the paper, too, girls,” Nan
added, “and the few copies of the school paper that we’ve been getting
out with the boys have gone all over town. I’ve heard all sorts of
things about the S. P.’s and Molly’s and Phoebe’s drawings. They think
we’re ‘real cute’ so far! But let’s show everybody we can be more than
funny.”

“Hear, hear!”

The girls were not in their club room for this called meeting. In spite
of windows and cross draughts, the fact remained that the attic was
directly under the roof. June suns often made it quite warm. It was
time to think of camping. Just now they were all in Jean’s big swing,
three on a seat, Jean standing between them.

“Molly, tell the girls what Grace wrote.”

Molly drew a folded paper from her notebook. “This is a sheet from
Grace’s letter,” said she. “She wrote to all of us, and this is what
she said to me: ‘Molly, I just can’t write you a separate letter, have
scarcely a minute free with all the last doings. I shall be a wreck,
but if you promise that you really will keep things going at first
yourselves, I’ll only be too glad to spend a few weeks in the woods or
on the water. I told Mother that last week and I’m surprised that you
wrote me about it. Perhaps she forgot to tell you.’ That’s all about
that.”

“Why, how funny!” cried Phoebe. “It’s wonderful that Grace will do it,
but why did your mother ask her? Did you tell her how much we wanted to
go camping?”

“Only what we agreed, that we would talk about girls’ camps and how
much fun it must be, and send for catalogues about tents, and talk
about raising money.” Molly laughed herself at the array of hints which
almost any discerning parent might take.

“Bless you, Molly, you’re the most transparent little dear in the
world. You probably talked in your sleep, too.”

“I do sometimes,” Molly acknowledged. But for once the S. P.’s were
not right. Parents sometimes make plans for their children and wiser
ones than those same children often make. Seven fathers were having
a glorious time in planning a little surprise, to say nothing of as
many mothers, who were using the telephone or calling on each other
occasionally while the girls were in school. It was a generous little
plot against the S. P.’s, and for their benefit.

“I asked Mother about it and she said that she _had_ written to Grace
about it, since we all were talking about what fun it would be to camp.
She thought it could be managed, if not right away, probably soon after
Grace’s Commencement is over. She and Father are going on to it, you
know.”

“Then all we’ll have to do is to get everybody else’s permission, and
I’m pretty sure if Grace is with us, and we don’t go too far away,
they’ll let us.” Jean’s voice had a happy lilt.

“Wait, Jean,” said Molly. “Mother told me that Grace had already
written to her about it, but that she thought it too soon to make it
definite and there were other reasons why she had not said anything.
Grace said that one of the senior girls had been a junior councilor at
an eastern camp for girls, that another had a troop of girl scouts in
her home town and still another knew all about the camp fire girls. So
Grace will know a lot of things for us to do. I wish Grace was going to
be at home next year!”

“Is she going to teach or something?”

“Worse. She’s going to be married.”

The Black Wizards were behaving in a most mysterious fashion in these
days. The girls were quite sure that they had not seen them that day
upon the river road, or they would have suspected that their secret was
known or surmised.

After school they would disappear with great suddenness. On street
corners or in the school grounds they held secret confabs when they
met. Sometimes a machine would be waiting for them after school. As
boys do, they would pile into it and drive off with more than the usual
air of a good time. Indeed, they made an effort to repress their usual
high spirits and noise, a thing which in itself would have called
attention to them. The girls saw no more lumber going out of town, but
that was because the early and late hikes had stopped, or possibly
because the lumber had all been delivered. It would have been fun to
find out where they were building, but the girls were too busy with
other things. It was not directly on any of the main roads, at least,
where they drove with their parents at odd times. Miss Haynes had
announced her plans early enough for them not to count upon her, but
they were quite content to rest their hopes on Grace French, who was so
attractive, and engaged!

With much glee the girls made fudge that evening of the called meeting,
one batch after another, more than one kettle on at a time, each in
charge of a separate S. P., since too many cooks do often “spoil the
broth.”

“After saying that we’ll have to give up making money, here Jean puts
us at making candy to sell to-morrow!” whimsically Phoebe complained.

“We need just a little more for that set of nature books,” said Jean.
“Besides, what cruelty not to supply those Black Wizard carpenters with
something to eat while they work! Do you realize that to-morrow is the
last day for us, except when we go to get our grades? Now, Molly, you
can start the hard molasses taffy. We’ve got enough fudge, after we
get that last beaten. Leigh, did you bring that oiled paper? And oh,
Nan, did you put down how much we paid for the sugar? Mother gave us
the cream. While the last cools, we’ve got to make the little S. P.
cornucopias, if we stay up half the night to do it! Don’t you think
that we could charge ten cents for them instead of five?”

“Poor Wizards!” cried Molly.

“It’s not just the Wizards we sell to. Well, all right, but don’t fill
them as full as you did last time. Our candy is just as good as what
you buy in a box, and we give more for the money now than they do at
the church sales. Billy said so.”

“Jean’s getting stingy,” giggled Bess. “But if ‘Billy said so,’ it must
be all right.”

Jean, already flushed with the cooking and the warm evening grew a
little rosier. Billy had managed to see a good deal of her lately,
whenever Wizard affairs permitted it. But there wasn’t anything “silly”
about it. Probably she’d better not quote Billy any more.

After the noon meal the next day, the girls took their candy to school.
Half of it they sold at once. The rest they had for sale after school,
outside of the school grounds. Six of the Wizards were climbing into a
Ford sedan when Molly and Jean ran with a school bag full of the little
packages. “Don’t you want something to eat on your ride?” asked Molly
of Jimmy Standish.

“I believe I do,” grinned Jimmy, feeling in his pocket. “I just bought
some at noon, but I need nourishment already.”

“I need all my nickels,” said Billy Baxter, “but as you said at noon,
Jean, that this is the last chance, I’ll indulge, too. Give me two,
if you please, one fudge, the other that good hard stuff that lasts
longer.”

“Molly’s going to find out how to make the kind you eat off of sticks,
Billy,” said Jean, as she picked out two of the fattest looking
cornucopias she could find and handed them to him.

“That cornucopia shape is the most deceiving thing, Jean,” said Jimmy.
“It’s on the same style of having the best on top. You think you still
have a lot, and there’s only one measley piece left.”

“Measley, Jimmy?” asked Jean, as Jimmy put a piece of fudge in his
mouth.

“I’ll take that back, Jean. It’s good, and you’re the little girls
that can get money out of a customer! So long.”

It was great to have the freedom instead of taking the examinations.
Their parents congratulated them and expressed pride that they had made
high grades, but the girls were surprised at the lack of interest they
showed when the subject of camping was definitely put before them.




“Why, I can’t get Father and Mother interested at all,” Jean
complained. “I don’t know what’s gotten into them! They haven’t any
great objections, as I thought they might have, but I can’t get them to
do anything.”

“Same thing at our house,” said Leigh Dudley. “I thought that Mother,
at least, would be interested, but she asked if I thought Grace were
old enough to take care of us, and where we thought we’d like to camp,
and said that she would think about it; but when I asked her if we
could pick out the sort of tent we wanted, she said, ‘Well, it wouldn’t
do any harm,’ even if we didn’t go!”

“We ought to have begun to talk it up earlier,” Fran declared. “But all
is not lost. We’ll just have to keep it before them, in a very nice
way, of course. Teasing is N. G. at our house.”

“Also at ours,” said Nan.

“Especially tell them how safe it will be near home and how much better
off we are than girls who have to go a long way off from home, pay a
big railroad fare and aren’t familiar with the country as we are here,
to know about snakes and things.”

“Better not mention snakes!”

“This sounds awful, girls, as if we were in the habit of ‘working’ our
folks!” Thus Jean.

“It isn’t ‘working’ them, Jean,” said Fran, “but you do have to use
some _tact_ to get the grown-ups interested. And we do want to go, and
we think it will be all right. Now if we can only get them to thinking
so, too!”

“All right, Fran.”

It may be imagined, however, how embarrassing all this was to parents
who were planning not only to let the girls go, but to have supplies
ready by a certain time and break the news in the way of a surprise.

A few ideas of the girls, however, were able to fit in nicely toward
the common goal, as when no objection was made to “hiking suits.”
Middies and bloomers became popular for the summer outfit. The mothers
had wondered how the matter of clothes was to be handled, if the girls
were to be ready. Fathers soberly commented on how sensible girls
were getting in their choice of clothes, and the girls, accustomed to
teasing remarks, thought nothing of it.

Meanwhile preparations went merrily on. “It is scarcely more expensive
than sending our girls on some trip,” said Mr. Standish one early June
evening, as he drove with Mr. French, coming into town along the river
road. “I think that they will be enthusiastic over it, though you can
not always tell about young folks.”

“I can not imagine their not being happy over it, Standish.”