“Girls, this is our third Summer as the Dandelion Troop of Girl Scouts,—do you realize that fact?” commented Mrs. Vernon, generally called “Verny” by the girls, or “Captain” by her friends.
“That first Summer in camp seems like mere child’s play now, Verny,” returned Juliet Lee, known as “Julie” or just “Jule” by her intimates.
“That really wasn’t camping, at all,—what with all the cooked food our families were bringing weekly to us, and the other housekeeping equipment they brought that day in the ‘furniture shower,’” Joan Allison added, giggling as she remembered the incident.
“But last Summer in the Adirondacks was real camping!” declared Ruth Bentley, nodding her head emphatically.
“Yes. Still it wasn’t anything like this year’s camping experience promises to be,—in the Rocky Mountains,” replied Mrs. Vernon. “Mr. Gilroy furnished the tents and cots and other heavy camping things last summer, but this year we will have to do without such luxuries.”
“We don’t care what we have to do without, Verny, because we are so thankful to be here at all!” exclaimed Anne Bailey, who was one of the five additional scout members admitted to the circle of the four founders of Dandelion Troop the preceding summer.
“I’m so sorry the other girls can’t be with us this trip,” remarked Julie, who was Scout Leader of the troop.
“It’s a shame that Amy’s mother treats her as if she were a babe. Why, this sort of trip is exactly what the girl needs to help her get rid of her nerves,” said Joan.
“Yes; didn’t every one say how well she was after last summer’s camp in the Adirondacks?” added Ruth Bentley.
“Poor Amy, she’ll have to stay home now, and hear her mother worry about her all summer,” sighed Betty Lee, Julie’s sister.
“Well, I am not wasting sympathy on Amy, when dear old Hester needs all of it. The way that girl pitched in and helped earn the family bread when her father died last winter, is courageous, say I!” declared Julie.
“We all think that, Julie. And not a word of regret out of her when she found we were coming away, with Gilly, to the Rockies,” added Joan.
“Dear old pal! We must be sure to write her regularly, and send her souvenirs from our different stopping-places,” said Mrs. Vernon, with tears glistening in her eyes for Hester’s sacrifice.
“If Julie hadn’t been my sister, I’m sure Mrs. Blake would have frightened May into keeping me home,” announced Betty. “When she told sister May of all the terrible things that might happen to us in the Rockies, Julie just sat and laughed aloud. Mrs. Blake was real angry at that, and said, ‘Well, May, if your mother was living she’d never allow her dear little girls to risk their lives on such a trip.’”
Julie smiled and added, “I told Mrs. Blake, then and there, that mother would be delighted to give us the opportunity, and so would any sensible mother if she knew what such a trip meant! Mrs. Blake jumped up then, and said, I’m sure I’m as sensible as any one, but I wouldn’t think of letting Judith and Edith take this trip.’”
“I guess it pays to be as healthy as I am,” laughed Anne Bailey, who was nicknamed the “heavyweight scout,” “’cause no one said I was too nervous to come, or too delicate to stand this outing.”
The other scouts laughed approvingly at Anne’s rosy cheeks and abundant fine health.
The foregoing conversation between Mrs. Vernon and five girl scouts took place on a train that had left Chicago, and Mr. Vernon, the day before. He had had personal business to attend to at that city, and so stopped over for a few days, promising to join the Dandelion Troop at Denver in good time to start on the Rocky Mountain trip.
“It’s perfectly lovely, Verny, to think Uncle is to be one of our party this summer,” remarked Joan. “He and Mr. Gilroy seem to get on so wonderfully, don’t they?”
“Yes, and Mr. Gilroy’s knowledge of camping in the Rockies, combined with Uncle’s being with us, lightens much of the responsibility I felt for taking you all on this outing,” answered Mrs. Vernon.
“It will seem ages for us to kill time about Denver when we’re so anxious to get away to the mountains,” said Julie.
“But there’s plenty to do in that marvelous city; and lots of short trips to take that will prove very interesting,” returned the Captain.
“Besides, we will have to get a number of items to add to our outfits,” suggested Ruth.
“That reminds me, girls; the paper Uncle gave me as he was about to leave the train is a memo Mr. Gilroy sent, about what to take with us for this jaunt. Shall I read it to you now?” asked Mrs. Vernon.
“Oh yes, do!” chorused the girlish voices; so Mrs. Vernon opened the page which had been torn from a letter addressed to Mr. Vernon by Mr. Gilroy. Then she began reading:
“About taking baggage and outfit for this trip in the Rockies, let me give you all a bit of advice. Remember this important point when considering your wardrobe, etc.,—that we will be on the move most of the time, and so every one must learn how to do without things. We must travel as the guides and trappers do—very ‘light.’ To know when you are ‘traveling light’ follow this rule:
“First, make a pyramid of everything you think you must take for use during the summer, excluding the camp outfit, which my man will look out for at Denver.
“Next, inventory the items you have in the heap. Study the list earnestly and cross out anything that is not an actual necessity. Take the articles eliminated from the heap, throw them behind your back, and pile up the items that are left.
“Then, list the remainder in the new pyramid, and go over this most carefully. Cast out everything that you have the least doubt about there being an imperative need of. Toss such items behind you, and then gather the much smaller pyramid together again.
“Now, forget all your past and present needs, all that civilized life claims you should use for wear, or camp, or sleep, and remove everything from the pyramid excepting such articles as you believe you would have to have to secure a living on a desert island. If you have done this problem well, you ought to have a list on hand, after the third elimination, about as follows:
“A felt hat with brim to shed the rain and to shade your eyes from the sun; a good all-wool sweater; winter-weight woolen undergarments that will not chill you when they are dripping with water that is sweated out from within, or soaked through from without; two or three large handkerchiefs, one of silk to use for the head, neck, or other parts of the body in case of need; three pairs of heather stockings,—one pair for day use, one pair to wear at night when it is cold, and the third pair to keep for extra need; high boots—one pair to wear and one to carry; two soft silk shirts—shirt-waists for you girls; a pure wool army blanket; one good rubber blanket; a toothbrush, hairbrush and comb, but no other toilet articles. Be sure to have the girl-scout axe, a steel-bladed sheath knife, a compass, the scout pocket-knife, fishing tackle, and a gun. (More about this gun hereafter, girls.)
“Now, being girl scouts, you will naturally wear the approved scout uniform. If possible, have this made up in good wiry serge that will shed dust and other things, along the trail. You will want a good strong riding-habit, and two pairs of silk rubber bloomers, the latter because of their thin texture and protection against moisture.
“Wear a complete outfit, and then pack your extras in the blanket; roll the bundle in the rubber blanket, and buckle two straps about the roll. Then slip this in the duffel-bag, and you are ready.
“About the gun. Don’t let your parents have a panic over the item mentioned. You girls had excellent target practice all last winter, so the fact of your carrying a rifle on this trip should not unduly excite any one. In the Rockies, a gun is as necessary as an axe or knife, and no one incurs a risk from carrying such a weapon unless he is careless. Being trained scouts, with experience back of you, you will be perfectly safe on this outing even though you do carry a rifle.
“An old Indian guide that I had some years ago, sent word that he would be happy to give us his time for the summer. So he will attend to all the camping needs,—utensils and canvas and horses, for the trip. I told him that we would have a party of girls with us this time, and he smiled when he said he would have to add needle and thread, cold cream, and such requisites to his list.”
“There, girls,” continued Mrs. Vernon, when she had concluded the reading of Mr. Gilroy’s instructions, “that is about all Gilly said about the outfit. But I knew we had conformed to most of these requirements already, so there is nothing more to do about it. When we go over the duffel-bags in Denver, Gilly may ask you scouts to throw out your manicure cases, or whimsical little things you deem an absolute necessity now, and several articles of wear that you think you must take, but, otherwise, we are ready to ‘travel light,’ as he says.”
“Shan’t we take our sleeping-bags, Verny?” asked Ruth.
“Gilly doesn’t say a word about them, so I don’t know whether he forgot them, or thought you left them home.”
“I wonder what sort of an outfit the guide will take?” remarked Julie.
“Aluminum-ware for cooking, and a cup, plate, and cutlery for each member of the party, Uncle Vernon said,” answered Mrs. Vernon.
Just before reaching Denver, Mrs. Vernon asked of the eager scouts, “Did you girls read the books I mentioned, to become familiar with this wonderful country through which we are going to travel?”
“I read all I could, and I’m sure the other girls did, too, because every time I asked for one of those books at the Public Library I was informed it was out. Upon investigation, I learned that one or the other of Dandelion Troop was reading it,” laughed Julie.
“Well, then, you learned that Colorado can boast of more than fifty mountain peaks, each three miles or more in height; a hundred or so nearly that high. And between these peaks can be found the wildest gorges, most fertile valleys and plains, that any state in the Union can boast.
“And because of these great peaks with their snow-capped summits, many of which are snowy all the year round, the flow of water from the melting snows furnishes the many scenic streams that give moisture to the plains; which in turn produce the best crops in the West.
“But the plains and valleys were not the attraction that first brought pioneers to Colorado. It was the gold and silver hidden in the mountains, and the upthrust of valuable ore from the sides of the canyons and gulches that was the magnet which caused mankind to swarm to this state. Thus, you see, it became generally populated, the mountainous, as well as the ranch sections.”
While riding westward from Chicago, the gradual rise of the country failed to impress the scouts, so they were all the more surprised when Mrs. Vernon exclaimed, “I verily believe I am the first to see Pike’s Peak, girls!”
“Oh, where? where?” chorused the scouts, crowding to the windows on the side of the train where the Captain sat.
“Away off there—where you see those banks of shadowy clouds! There is one cloud that stands out more distinctly than its companions—that’s it,” replied the Captain.
“Oh, Verny, that’s not a peak!” laughed Joan.
“Of course not! That’s only a darker cloud than usual,” added Julie, while the other scouts laughed at their Captain’s faulty eyesight.
Mrs. Vernon smiled, but kept her own counsel, and half an hour later the girls began to squint, then to doubt whether their hasty judgment had been correct, and finally to admit that their guide and teacher had been quite right! They saw the outline of a point that thrust itself above the hanging clouds which hid its sides in vapor, and the point that stood clearly defined against the sky was Pike’s Peak!
“But it isn’t snow-clad, and it isn’t a bit beautiful!” cried Ruth in disappointment.
“Still it is the first Rocky Mountain peak we have seen,” Betty Lee mildly added.
“Scouts, this is known as ‘The Pike’s Peak Region,’” read Julie from a guide-book.
“It ought to be called ‘Pike’s Bleak Region,’” grumbled Anne. “I never saw such yellow soil, with nothing but tufts of grass, dwarfed bushes, and twisted little trees growing everywhere.”
Mrs. Vernon laughed. “Anne, those tufts are buffalo grass, which makes such fine grazing for cattle; and your dwarfed bushes are the famous sage-brush, while the twisted trees are cottonwoods.”
“Oh, are they, really?” exclaimed Anne, now seeing these things with the same eyes but from a changed mental viewpoint.
“And notice, girls, how exhilarating the air is. Have you ever felt like this before—as if you could hike as far as the Continental Range without feeling weary?” questioned Mrs. Vernon.
When the train pulled in at Denver, Mr. Gilroy was waiting, and soon the scouts were taken to the hotel where he had engaged accommodations for the party.
“Don’t say a word until you have washed away some of that alkali dust and brushed your clothes. Then we will go out to view the village,” laughed he, when the girls plied him with questions.
But the scouts wasted no time needlessly over their toilets, and soon were down in the lobby again, eager for his plans.
“Now I’ll tell you what Uncle wired me from Chicago to-day,” began Mr. Gilroy, when all were together. “He’ll be there three days longer, so we’ve almost five days to kill before meeting him at this hotel.”
“I’ve engaged two good touring cars, and as soon as you approve of the plan, we will start out and see the city. To-morrow morning, early, we will motor to Colorado City and visit Hot Springs, and all the points of interest in that section. Then we can return by a different route and embrace dear old Uncle, who will be waiting for us. How about it?”
“How needless to ask!” exclaimed Mrs. Vernon, when the chorus of delight had somewhat subsided. Mr. Gilroy laughed.
“Come on, then! Bottle up the news, and stories of crime you experienced on the way West from New York, until we are en route to Colorado Springs. Then you can swamp me with it all,” said he.
So that day they visited the city of Denver, which gave the scouts much to see and talk about, for this wonderful city is an example of western thrift, ambition, and solid progress. Early the following morning, the touring party started in the two machines to spend a few days at Colorado Springs.
Without loss of time they drove to the famous Hot Springs, and then on through the picturesque estate of General Palmer, the founder of Colorado City. His place was copied after the well-known English castle Blenheim, and Julie was deeply impressed with the architecture of the building.
“Girls, to-morrow morning I want you to see the sun rise from the vantage point of Pike’s Peak, so we won’t climb that to-day. But we will go to Manitou, where the setting sun casts long-fingered shadows into the ravines, turning everything to fairy colors,” said Mr. Gilroy.
The scouts were awed into silence at the grandeur of the scenery they beheld, and Mr. Gilroy said, “The Ute Indians used to come to the Manitou Waters for healing, you know. To-morrow, on your way down from the Peak, we will stop at the Ute Pass. But I want you to see the marvelous feat of engineering in this modern day that has made an auto drive to the top of Pike’s Peak a possibility.”
So very early the next morning the scouts were called, and after a hurried breakfast started out in the cars for the Peak. Having driven over the fine auto road, recently completed, to the top of the Peak, they got out to watch the sunrise. This was truly a sight worth working for. From the Peak they could see over an expanse of sixty thousand square miles of country, and when the rays of the sun began to touch up with silver places here and there on this vast stretch, the scene was most impressive.
After leaving Pike’s Peak, Mr. Gilroy told the chauffeur to drive to the Ute Pass. That same day the girls visited the scenic marvels of the Garden of the Gods, the Cave of the Winds, Crystal Park, and other places.
They dined at the “Hidden Inn,” which was a copy of one of the Pueblo cliff-dwellings of the Mesa Verde. This Inn is built against a cliff, and is most picturesque with its Indian collection of trophies and decorations after the Pueblo people’s ideals.
They visited William’s Canyon and the Narrows, with its marvelous, painted cliffs of red, purple, and green; and went to Cheyenne Mountain and the canyon with its beautiful “Seven Falls.” Other places that Mr. Gilroy knew of but that were seldom listed in the guidebooks because they were out of the way, were visited and admired.
The last day of their visit to Colorado City, they all took the railroad train and went to Cripple Creek. The train wound over awesome heights, through rifts in cliffs, and past marvelously colored walls of rock, and so on to the place where more gold is mined than at any other spot in the world.
That night the scouts returned to the hotel at Colorado City well tired out, but satisfied with the touring they had accomplished in the time they had been in Colorado. In the morning they said good-bye to the gorgeous places in Pike’s Peak Park and headed again for Denver.
A splendid road led through Pike View, where the best views of Pike’s Peak can be had. Then they passed the queer formation of rock called “Monument Park,” and on still further they came to a palisade of white chalk, more than a thousand feet wide and one-fifth that in height, that was known as Casa Blanca.
Castle Rock was the next place of interest passed. It is said to be a thousand feet higher than Denver. Then several picturesque little towns were passed by, and at last Fort Logan was reached. As an army post this spot interested the scouts, but Mr. Gilroy gave them no time to watch the good-looking young officers, but sped them on past Loretto, Overland, and Denver Mile, finally into Denver again.
As they drove into the city, Mr. Gilroy explained why he had to hurry them. “You see, this is almost the middle of June, and I am supposed to return from the mountains in September with reports and specimens for the Government.
“Few people tarry in the Rockies after September, as the weather is unbearable for ‘Tenderfeet.’ So I have to get through my work before that time. Besides, Uncle Vernon is probably now awaiting us at the hotel, and he must not be left to wander about alone, or we may lose him.”
“When can we start for the Rockies, Gilly?” eagerly asked Julie, voicing the cry of all the other scouts.
“As soon as the Indian guide gives us the ‘high sign,’” replied Mr. Gilroy.
“About when will that be?” insisted Julie.
“Where is he now, Gilly?” added Ruth.
“I suppose he is in Denver waiting for us, but we can tell better after we see Uncle. I wired him to meet Tally there and complete any arrangements necessary to our immediate departure from Denver the day after we get back there.”
“I hope the guide’s name is easier to say than Yhon’s was last summer,” laughed Mrs. Vernon.
“The only name I have ever given him is ‘Tally’; but his correct name has about ninety-nine letters in it and when pronounced it sounds something like Talitheachee-choolee. Now can you blame me for quickly abbreviating it to Tally?” laughed Mr. Gilroy.
“I should say not!” laughed the girls, and Julie added, “Ho, Tally is great! It will constantly remind the scouts to keep their records up to date.”
Mr. Vernon was found at the hotel, comfortably ensconced in a huge leather chair. He pretended to be fast asleep, but was soon roused when the lively scouts fell upon him in their endeavor to tell him how glad they were to see him again.
“Spare me, I beg, and I will lead you to the nicest meal you ever tasted!” cried he, gasping.
Mr. Gilroy laughed and added, “You’d better, for it’s Tally, and wild Indian cooking hereafter, for three months!”
“That threat holds no fears for us brave scouts,” retorted the Corporal.
The girls followed quickly after Mr. Vernon, just the same, when he led the way to the dining-room. Here he had his party seated in a quiet corner, and then he reported to Mr. Gilroy all he had done since he landed in Denver in the morning.
“I have the surprise of the season for the scouts, I’m thinking,” began Mr. Vernon, smiling at the eager faces of the girls. “Have you formed any idea of how we are going to travel to the Divide?”
Even Mr. Gilroy wondered what his friend meant, for he had asked Tally to secure the best horses possible in Denver. And the scouts shook their heads to denote that they were at sea.
Mrs. Vernon laughed, “Not on foot, I trust!”
“No, indeed, my dear! Not with shoe leather costing what it does since the war,” retorted Mr. Vernon.
“We all give up,—tell us!” demanded his wife.
“First I have to tell you a tale,—for thereby hangs the rest of it.
“You see, Tally came here first thing this morning, and when I came in from my train, which was an hour late from Chicago, he greeted me. I hadn’t the faintest idea who he was until after the clerk gave me the wire from Gilly, then I saluted as reverently as he had done. Finally his story was told.
“It seems ‘Mee’sr Gil’loy’ told Tally to get outfit and all the horses, including two mules for pack-animals (although I never knew until Tally told me, that mules were horses). And poor Tally was in an awful way because he couldn’t find a horse worth shucks in the city of Denver. I fancy Tally knows horseflesh and would not be taken in by the dealers, eh, Gilly?” laughed Mr. Vernon.
Mr. Gilroy nodded his head approvingly, and muttered, “He is some guide, I tell you!” Then Mr. Vernon proceeded with his tale.
“Well, Tally got word the other day from his only brother, who runs a ranch up past Boulder somewhere, that a large ranch-wagon, ordered and paid for several months before, was not yet delivered. Would Tally go to the wagon-factory, and urge them to ship the vehicle, as the owner was in sore need of it this summer.
“Tally had gone to the factory all right, but the boss said it was impossible to make any deliveries to such out-of-the-way ranches, and the railroad refused freight for the present. Poor Tally wired his brother immediately, and got a disconcerting reply.
“He was authorized to take the wagon away from the manufacturer and send it on by any route possible. But the brother did not offer any suggestions for that route, nor did he provide means by which Tally could hitch the wagon up and send it on via its own transportation-power or expenses.
“Fortunately for Tally, and all of us, a horse-dealer had overheard the story and now joined us. ‘’Scuse me fer buttin’ in,’ he said, ‘but I got some hosses I want to ship to Boulder, and no decent driver fer ’em. Why cain’t we-all hitch up our troubles an’ drive ’em away. Let your Injun use my hosses as fur as Boulder, and no charge to him. He drives the animals to a stable I’ll mention and c’lect fer feed and expenses along the road, but no pay fer himself,—that’s squared on the use my beasts give you-all.’
“I ruminated. Here we were with Tally who had a wagon on his hands and no horses, and here was a dealer with four horses and no wagon. It sure seemed a fine hitch to make, so we all hitched together. So now we are all starting early in the morning via a prairie schooner to Boulder. How do you like it?”
A cry of mingled excitement and delight soon told him what the scouts thought of the plan, but Mr. Gilroy remarked, “But what am I to do about horses for the rest of the jaunt?”
“Oh, Tally says he can drive much better bargains with ranchers than in the city here, and the horses trained for mountain climbing by the ranchers are far superior to the hacks that have been used for years to trot about Denver City. So I decided to put it right up to Tally, and he agreed to supply splendid mounts for each one of us, or guide you free of charge all summer,” said Mr. Vernon.
Categories: English Literature