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   Chapter 2 A FINE CHANCE

The Outdoor Girls in a Winter Camp / Or, Glorious Days on Skates and Ice Boats By Laura Lee Hope Characters: 10464

Updated: 2017-12-04 00:02

"That Alice Jallow is certainly the meanest girl in Deepdale!" declared Mollie, with vehemence.

"And Kittie isn't much better," added Grace, with spirit. "I don't see how Margaret can go with them."

"She's a newcomer here, that's the reason," said Betty-bouncing Betty she was now, for she was whirling about and "teetering" on her skates in a dizzying fashion. "When she gets to know those girls she won't have any more to do with them than-we do."

"And there was a time, even after they made those first slurring remarks about Amy, that they seemed real nice," spoke Grace.

"It was too good to last," asserted Mollie. "Oh-the cat!"

Mollie shot out the word as though she would like to exercise some of the proclivities of a feline herself, and scratch.

"What possessed her to stop where she did, and talk loud enough for Amy to hear?" asked Grace.

"It's hard to tell," decided Betty with a sigh. "Shall we go after her?" and she nodded in the direction taken by Amy, who could not now be seen because of the intervening crowds.

"No; best let her cry it out, poor child," said Mollie, softly. "She was crying when she skated away."

"Well, if we can find the boys we'll just mildly hint that those chocolates are about due," observed Grace, and she and the others looked about for Will and his chums, little dreaming of the danger which, at that moment, menaced poor Amy.

Those of you who have read the previous books of this series need no special introduction to my heroines. Others may care for just a brief one. The initial volume, entitled "The Outdoor Girls of Deepdale; Or, Camping and Tramping for Fun and Health," told how Betty, Mollie, Grace and Amy decided to go on a walking tour. Incidentally they solved the mystery of a five hundred dollar bill, and won the lasting gratitude of a Mr. Henry Blackford, a young business man.

In the second book, "The Outdoor Girls at Rainbow Lake; Or, The Stirring Cruise of the Motor Boat Gem," there was a queer ghostly mystery on an island, but the girls were a match for it. As may be guessed from the title, the story has to do with boating, Betty having become the proud possessor of a fine craft.

When Mollie Billette got her touring car the girls saw no end of good times ahead of them, and their hopes were fully realized. The third volume, named "The Outdoor Girls in a Motor Car; Or, The Haunted Mansion of Shadow Valley," involved the girls from the very start in a series of queer happenings. They could not discover, until the very end, why a certain girl fell out of a tree. And as for the strange manifestations in the mysterious old mansion-but there, it would not be fair to betray the secret in such a fashion.

The beautiful Fall weather gave the girls a chance to make long tours in the car, and they enjoyed every minute spent in the open. And now they were on the edge of winter.

A cold snap had frozen over the Argono River, on the pleasant banks of which was located Deepdale, the thriving town where our friends lived. And they were out enjoying the sport when Amy overheard the cruel words that sent her off crying.

I might add something about the personal lives of the four chums, by saying that Betty was an only child, that Grace had a lovable brother Will, and Mollie a small brother and sister-Paul and Dodo-twins, who were alternately called the "cutest" and the "most mischievous" youngsters in existence. Of Amy's mystery I have already hinted.

When Will Ford saw the danger in which his sister's chum was unconsciously placing herself he fairly raced forward. There was need to act promptly, and Will did so. Skating in a diagonal direction he fairly collided with the girl, and forced her out of her course, and away from the dangerous hole that yawned there just before her.

"Amy!" Will cried. "What is the matter?"

Amy looked up with a start, and Will saw that she had been crying.

"I-I don't know," she stammered. "I guess I wasn't looking where I was going."

"I should say not!" cried Will. "Look there!" and he pointed to the open water that seemed so black and ugly in contrast with the pure ice.

"Oh-oh!" she gasped. "Was-was I skating toward that?"

"Right toward it!" exclaimed Will. "I couldn't do anything else than shove you to one side. I hope I didn't hurt you."

"Oh, no, Will, it was good of you. I-I didn't know what I was doing. I was thinking-thinking--"

She hesitated, and again tears came into her eyes.

"Can I do anything for you-has anything happened?" he asked, eagerly. "Has anyone--"

"Oh, no, Will. It is-nothing."

"Then let's go back to the others," he proposed. "They may be getting anxious about you."

"No, Will, I'd rather not go back-just now. I'll go on-home." Amy hesitated over the word. "I can take a short cut across the fields."

"Then let me take off your skates," he said, gently. Perhaps he guessed at something that had occurred. "Come over to shore and I'll have them off in a jiffy. Then I'll walk home with you."

"No, Will," said Amy, in a low voice. "I had rather go alone, really I would. Just tell the girls--"

She hesitated again, and seemed unable to speak.

"Tell them I am all right-that I want to be alon

e. They will understand."

"Very well." He skated with her to the bank, where she sat on a log. Then, with her skates dangling over her shoulder, Amy set off across the snow-covered fields alone-with bowed head-and into her eyes the tears came again as she thought of what she had heard.

Will watched her, shook his head once or twice, as though puzzled, and then skated back toward his sister and the others.

"Where's Amy?" Grace demanded, anxiously, as he came in sight.

"Gone home."

"Home? Why didn't you go with her?" asked Mollie, quickly.

"She wouldn't let me. Say, she acted mighty funny. She was skating along, looking down, and she came within a few feet of going into an air hole. I had to almost knock her to one side. She seemed dazed. Did anything happen?"

"Yes, there did," said Grace, promptly. "And the less said about it the better. It was that horrid Alice Jallow making slurring remarks about Amy. We won't take any notice of her after this. Oh, how mean she is!" Briefly, she told Will what had happened.

"That accounts for it," he said. "Poor Amy! No wonder she didn't look where she was going. She might have been drowned."

"Don't say that!" cried Betty, sharply.

"Why not, when it's the truth?"

Betty gave the woman's reason.


Frank and Allen came skating up.

"Come!" cried Grace, as joyfully as possible under the circumstances. "The prizes-our chocolates, boys!"

"Of course!" added Allen. "But where is Amy?"

"She'll be along later-maybe," and Will winked at his chum as a signal not to be too inquisitive. The young lawyer understood and nodded.

Soon the party of young people were in a drug store, partaking of hot chocolates, and talking of the fun on the ice, while Grace spent some time at the candy counter, selecting a new variety of chocolates.

That evening Betty and Mollie called on Grace.

"Let's go over and cheer Amy up," proposed Betty, who was always thinking of some kindness.

"All right," agreed Grace. "Come into the library a moment. I'll get you that book I promised, Betty. Oh, it's just splendid! You won't stop until you finish it."


"Oh, Papa, I didn't know you were here!" exclaimed Grace, as, leading her chums into the library, she discovered her father busy over a mass of papers on the table.

"That's all right," he invited. "Come right in. It's only a little legal tangle I'm trying to straighten out," for Mr. Ford was a well-known lawyer.

"Anything we can help you with?" asked Betty, with a smile.

"I'm afraid not," he answered, laughing. "I've just been appointed receiver of a bankrupt lumber camp up in the North Woods, and I've got to arrange for some one to stay there during the winter to see that it isn't disturbed. It comes just at the wrong time, too. I'm so busy I don't know how I can spare the time to go up there and straighten things out. Where are you going, Grace?"

"Over to see poor Amy Stonington. It's too bad! She heard something more about her mystery to-day, Daddy, and she nearly skated into an airhole-she was so upset. Isn't it horrid?"

"Yes, it is too bad about Amy," said Mr. Ford, for he knew the story, as did many in Deepdale. "She ought to get out and away from the influences around here. Stonington ought to take her away."

He was musing for a moment. Then a queer expression came over his face.

"Girls!" he cried. "I think I have something that will just fill the bill!"

"Oh, Papa!" cried Grace, clapping her hands. "When you talk that way I know something is going to happen!"

"Well, we'll see," he answered. "As I understand it, the High School won't open until late this winter, on account of the repairs not being finished."

"That's right, Daddy!" cried Grace. "Not until after Christmas. Go on!"

"Well, about this lumber camp that I've got to get someone to take charge of. It seems that there are some bungalows or cabins in it that can be hired out to campers. Now if--"

"Daddy, I've guessed it!" cried Grace, jumping up and putting her arms about his neck. "You're going to let us go up there to a winter camp. Aren't you?"

"I was thinking of it," he confessed. "It seems to me to be a fine chance for you to get all the fresh air you want. And I suggest that you take Amy along. What she needs is a change of environment. She has had too much of Deepdale of late. Could you take her with you?"

"Of course, Daddy!" cried Grace. "Oh, what a lovely opportunity! We could get Cousin Jane to go with us, perhaps," and she looked at Mollie, whose cousin had chaperoned them on the auto tour.

"Yes, she could," said Mr. Ford, slowly. "And I was thinking of an old lumberman and his wife whom I might appoint as care-takers of the camp. They could help look after you."

"As if we needed looking after!" challenged Grace.

"Well, we'll think about it," he said. "If you girls want to go to a winter camp, I see no reason why you could not. Of course there are complications, but perhaps we can get over those."

"Complications!" cried Grace. "Girls, we'll not stir another step until we hear all about those complications! It sounds very interesting."

"It surely does," agreed Betty and Mollie.

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