Chapter One

"This is not what I had in mind," I muttered. Going to camp with my mother was bad enough. But a boys camp? Ugh!

"Hey, look!" said Alan, as we rounded a corner on the winding dirt road. "There's the sign. 'Camp Challenge, On the Shores of Lake Pollywog.'"

"Big deal," I grumbled. Alan could get all excited. At least he could stay in a cabin. I would be stuck in the infirmary with Mom.

"Here we are," said Mom, as we pulled up to a white house with a big porch. A woman in a white uniform stood watching, as if she'd been waiting for us. "That must be the other camp nurse. If she has children, you'll have a playmate or two, Eleanor."

"Whoopee." At the age of almost twelve, I was beyond playmates. What I wanted were friends, and all my friends were back home in Glenwood.

Alan laughed. "Just what you need, Ellie. A couple whiny little kids to play with."

"Alan," Mom said in her voice that meant cut it out. She pulled into a parking spot. "Please help Eleanor and me carry our things inside before you go to your cabin."

I grabbed a suitcase from the trunk of the car. If only I had the freedom Alan had.

"Hello," said the woman on the porch. Her voice was soft. She looked fragile, as if the breeze from the lake could knock her over. Even her short curly hair looked delicate. "I'm Abigail White."

"Nice to meet you," said Mom, shaking Mrs. White's hand. "I'm Mary Endicott, and this is Alan and Eleanor."

"My son, Tim, is about your age, Eleanor." Mrs. White pointed to a path, just a few steps from the side of the infirmary, leading to the lake. "He's down there, feeding the ducks."

I squinted as I shielded my eyes from the sun with my hand. I saw a scrawny little kid who looked about eight years old. Not exactly someone I would have chosen for my only "friend" for the entire summer.

Alan must have spotted Tim too, because he snorted under his breath. I knew what he was thinking. My potential "playmate" looked like a real wimp.

"You must meet Tim." Mrs. White reached into her pocket and pulled out a whistle. At the sharp sound, Tim came running.

Alan and I exchanged glances. How embarrassing to be whistled in by your mother! Thank goodness Mom has a voice that can be heard halfway down the street.

"Yes, mother?" said Tim as he ran up the path. He had the same whispery voice as Mrs. White.

"Tim, dear, I'd like you to meet the Endicotts." Mrs. White ran her fingers through Tim's wispy curls. Alan elbowed me in the ribs. He'd have a fit if Mom ran her fingers through his hair.

"This is Alan and Eleanor," said Mrs. White. "Eleanor will be staying with her mother in the other apartment above the infirmary. You'll have someone to play with."

"Hi," said Tim, with a shy smile.

"Hi," I said. Enough with the introductions, already. I wanted to check out our apartment.

"Tim will be eleven in September," said Mrs. White. "So he's too young to stay in a cabin this year. But next year his father insists he enroll as an official camper." Mrs. White patted Tim's shoulder. "My husband teaches history at a high school where he also coaches football. This summer he off doing construction work in Alaska. Will your husband be joining you at all this summer, Mary?"

"I'm a widow," said Mom.

"Oh. I'm so sorry."

"Thank you," said Mom.

Then there was a silence that made me uncomfortable. I never knew what to say at times like that. So, I didn't say anything.

Alan cleared his throat and shifted his weight. "Can we get this stuff inside, Mom? I want to stop by the kitchen and then find my cabin."

Ah, good. Prompting from Alan. Sometimes he was actually useful.

"I'll help," said Tim. I didn't think he could lift anything heavier than a glass of water. But he grabbed my suitcase with one hand and carried it in.

We headed up a flight of stairs that branched off halfway up. We went to the left. At the top, Mom opened the door. "Well, Eleanor, here's our home for the summer."

I took one look inside and wanted to jump in the lake.

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