The Craven and The Crag: Chapter One Part 3
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New World Discovered Part 3 of 3
“Where were you last night?” Cathy snapped the following morning. Reveille had just been played and as usual, everyone was up except me.
Wendy and I looked at each other. “I – I just went to the bathroom,” I stammered.
“So did I,” Wendy added quickly.
“It took you an hour to go to the bathroom?”
“Uh – we took a little walk afterwards,” Wendy said nervously. The other girls stared, incredulous looks on their faces.
“Going for a walk by yourselves in the middle of the night?” Cathy scolded.
“Well, uh…” Wendy and I sputtered.
“This is serious. Do you realize you could have been attacked by a bear?”
We gaped at her, horrified.
“I’m going to keep quiet about this, and handle it myself. You two are to wash all the dishes in the cabin for each meal today. If you do anything like this again, I’ll report you to Tim Mustard, the Camp Director. You could be sent home from camp, so you’d better not do it again!” I cringed in horror. I loved Pinecrest almost as much as I hated Oakland, and was in no hurry to go home, especially in disgrace.
We washed the dishes at separate tables, for which I was very glad. In truth, I was ashamed of my actions. One fault of mine was a tendency to be easily swayed. I knew I never should have listened to Wendy bash Cathy, especially since I felt Cathy was justified in punishing her earlier in the week, and that it was generous of her to deal with us herself instead of reporting the incident. Also, wandering off into the woods late at night was foolish indeed. I would never have done something like that in Oakland.
The next day was Friday. At dinner, Cathy approached me. “Raven, would you please do my dishes, so I can run into town for something?”
After having done dishes all day yesterday, I was wondering why she would ask me. “Uh – sure,” I answered uneasily. So after dinner, I took her tray along with my own. “What are you doing that for?” Wendy yelled, when she saw me.
“I asked her to do my dishes,” Cathy told her.
“What did you do wrong this time?” Wendy demanded, a tone of triumph in her voice.
“She did nothing wrong,” Cathy answered, giving her a look that ended the conversation.
Back at the cabin, I got into the Sabbath outfit I’d brought; a yellow ruffled blouse with dark blue trim, and a dark blue skirt with yellow clovers scattered all over it, with a yellow ruffled petticoat underneath. Ten minutes before Line Call, Cathy arrived, and quickly changed into a beautiful German dirndl with a white peasant blouse, black vest, and red embroidered skirt. We got into Line Call, then marched to the Campfire Bowl. Sabbath began at sundown, so we sang only Christian songs. Then the Camp Pastor told us the story of King Solomon. He was the wisest king Israel ever had, and Israel enjoyed a golden age under his rule. Unfortunately, he compromised his relationship with God by forming alliances with pagan nations and marrying their princesses. Because he allowed himself to be swayed, his kingdom fell apart after he died.
After singing the Good Night song, as the others filed back to their cabins, Cathy beckoned me to the giant painting by the campfire. Once there, she handed me a chocolate bar, some graham crackers, and marshmallows. “Thanks!” I exclaimed, immediately biting into the chocolate bar.
“Wait. You’re supposed to make s’mores,” she told me.
“S’mores? What’s that?”
She showed me how to roast a marshmallow, and make a sandwich with it between the chocolate and the graham cracker. As we stood eating them, she said, “By the way, thanks for doing my dishes for me. I needed time to run into town and get the s’mores ingredients.”
“Wow – thanks!” I said, overwhelmed with gratitude – and guilt, for listening to Wendy slander her.
“What did you think of the pastor’s story?”
“You mean how King Solomon let those Canaanites talk him into marrying pagan princesses against what God said?”
”Well – I don’t know – there were certainly a lot more of them than there were Israelites. I guess I can’t really blame him for chickening out.”
“With God on his side, he had nothing to fear. Do you know why the Canaanites wanted to form alliances with Israel?” Cathy asked me.
“No I don’t,” I answered.
“It’s because they could see how well off the Israelites were, and they feared them. Rather than giving in to their requests, King Solomon should have taught them about his God, and showed them the proper way to live, so they could share the same blessings. Instead, by compromising his principles, he weakened his kingdom. That’s why out of the original 12 tribes, only 2 remain today.
“So often, it’s easier to ‘chicken out’ and go along with the majority, or someone more powerful, than to follow your convictions. But in the end, you wind up worse off. It’s better to stand up for what you know is right; you may even be a witness.”
“Uh – why are you telling me this?” I asked, even though I had a pretty good idea.
“Can you think of any way this may be happening in your life?” she responded.
Apparently, she knew about my conversation with Wendy Wednesday night. “I – I guess it’s nothing I haven’t done. Like letting myself be swayed by Wendy.” I burst into tears. “I’m sorry – really! Actually, I think you’re very nice!”
She gave me a hug. “That’s OK. We’re all here to build character. Plus, coming from a big city like Oakland, you must find this place scary.”
“Actually, Oakland’s a lot scarier. I never would have gone off by myself at night, there. In fact, daytime’s dangerous enough!” We both laughed.
“Why do you suppose Wendy acts the way she does?” Cathy went on.
“I don’t know that, either. Kids at my school do that all the time, though they’re a lot meaner about it. It’s because they can, I suppose. The teachers and other grownups make excuses for them, saying it’s because I’m smart, though my grades really aren’t that good. Maybe it’s because I’m weird.”
”Weird in what way?”
“Well – I’m not tough like they are. Also, I seem to like the wrong things. They make fun of me because I read fairy tales and adventure stories. In fact, the last day of school, I got hassled because I was reading a book about a girl in Tibet.”
“Tibet? Isn’t that a country between China and India? This sounds fascinating! Tell me about it.”
“It’s a book called Daughter of the Mountains. A girl named Momo has a lifelong wish for a golden Lhasa Terrier, and finally she manages to get one. She asks the local priest to give her a horoscope for her dog. Her parents think it’s really funny, but the priest tells them the dog will bring many adventures and great fortune – and sure enough, it happens. A passing trader steals her dog, and she runs off to India to get him back. Along the way, she sees many things she didn’t even know existed. It turns out her dog was sold to an English lady. She gives Momo her dog back, plus lots of money for her parents.”
“Kind of sounds like you coming to Pinecrest, You’re the only real city person here, so a lot of things the kids take for granted are a new adventure to you.”
“Yes, it certainly is,” I agreed.
“Wendy acts the way she does to hide things. Like most of the kids here, she’s from the Sacramento area. She most likely felt intimidated by the fact that you weren’t totally freaked out by this place. There are some things here that she fears more than you, even though she’s more familiar with them.”
I was shocked. Wendy, being more afraid than me? Then I remembered how nervous she had acted while we were riding horses, even though she had claimed to own a horse and had been in shows. My thoughts moved on to the girl who had snatched away my book on the last day of school. Why should she feel threatened, when I hadn’t even been paying attention to her? For that matter, why was I constantly being hassled for reading stories about Far East Asia and Europe, when becoming Africanized would only make things worse? Come to think of it, the kids in Oakland made even less sense than Wendy.
“Um – do you think this could be happening at school, too?” I asked Cathy.
Cathy gave me a knowing smile. “Actually, I think you really are smart, in spite of what you say about your grades. Let’s go back to the cabins. I didn’t think to bring my flashlight – sorry. Are you OK, walking back in the dark?”
“Sure,” I answered.
“You’re not afraid of the dark?”
“No, not at all.”
“Well, that’s a new one!” exclaimed Cathy. “Because to tell you the truth, I am!”
“Really?!” I was surprised, then remembered her warning earlier in the week. “Uh – what about bears?”
“That’s why I’m nervous. But you can ward them off by making noises. They generally attack only when surprised. Let’s sing on the way back.”
By then, the campfire had died down, so we were almost in total darkness. Cathy began to sing:
“My Lord knows the way through the wilderness; all I have to do is follow.
My Lord knows the way through the wilderness; all I have to do is follow.
Strength for today is mine all the way, and all that I need for tomorrow.
My Lord knows the way through the wilderness; all I have to do is follow.”
Though I’d never heard the song before, I only had to hear it through once before I learned it and joined in. It was at that point I made up my mind to live in a place like Pinecrest when I grew up. I had no idea how I was going to do it, but having just discovered there were other worlds besides Oakland, there had to be a way. Then it occurred to me…
“Hey – as for great fortune - what if I didn’t have to go back to Oakland? Maybe I can learn to live off the land like that Indian couple who rode over Lover’s Leap, and escape into the woods when camp is over!”
“PLEASE don’t talk like that!”
“Oh – sorry,” I said, remembering my night escapade with Wendy.
We sang the song all the way back to the cabins, stopping when we reached the entrance to the circle. When we entered Airedale cabin, everyone had already gone to bed. Silently, we changed and got into our sleeping bags. I lay awake in my top bunk for a long time, wondering how I was going to live this type of life when I grew up. Maybe if I accepted Christ, I would be able to do so…
On the Sabbath, we got up an hour late, and dressed in our Sabbath clothes. We hiked to a different bowl, along the Tree Trail, which was three long logs which we walked on, in our nice shoes. Though the trail was steep, I didn’t get tired.
At the entrance to the bowl were four male counselors who sang “Little Brown Church in the Vale” barbershop quartet style. The sunlight shafting through the trees inspired us to reverence. The pulpit was a thick log on which there was a painted carving that said, “GOD IS HERE”. Church service started with Christine Jacobs, the Girls’ Director, announcing, “Welcome to the most beautiful church in the world!” Indeed, it was.
We had a regular church service, singing songs out of the Youth Hymnal, accompanied by a piano. The camp pastor preached a sermon about King Manassah, an evil king who led Israel into horrible sin, and lost his kingdom and was thrown into prison as a result. However, he saw the error of his ways, and repented. God restored his kingdom and throne, and he spent the rest of his life doing his best to lead Israel to Godly living. It showed that even when we do wrong, repenting of our sins can reverse the consequences. It was the most magical church service I’d ever been to.
The rest of the day we spent just relaxing, hanging around camp. That evening, at Campfire, we were shown the movie Stars in my Crown, about a preacher to comes to a lawless Southern town in the 1860s, and sets up a church there. A screen was erected in front of the Western painting, and a movie projector stood behind the bowl. Every once in awhile, the black-and-white movie would stop, and a staff member would change reels. Unlike Kings Solomon and Manasseh, this preacher didn’t have the advantage of people knowing right from wrong. I marveled at his skillfulness in handling the situation, especially the part where he persuaded some mean parents to let their three children attend a church picnic, only for one of them to drown in the river. I couldn’t even handle the kids in Oakland! But maybe I could get some practice here at camp. After all, Wendy wasn’t that bad.
Sunday morning, again we rose an hour late. After breakfast, we returned to our cabins to pack our things. Everyone had to do this, whether we were staying on or not. Those of us who were staying on went to Headquarters to register for our new cabins.
“Where would you like to stay this week?” the registrar asked me.
“I want to stay in Airedale again,” I told her. So she put me down for Airedale.
That was quick and easy! I went back to the cabin to unpack my things – and there was Wendy.
A Smart Girl's Guide to Friendship Troubles
Raven could have benefited from a book like this. It covers the basics on how to be a good friend, how to tell true friends from false ones, and the basics of etiquette.
© 2012 Yoleen Lucas