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   Chapter 3 THE COMPLICATIONS

The Outdoor Girls in a Winter Camp / Or, Glorious Days on Skates and Ice Boats By Laura Lee Hope Characters: 6490

Updated: 2017-12-04 00:02


"Before I begin," said Mr. Ford, as he glanced over the papers that littered the table, "let me ask, has anything new come up about your friend Amy? Is she any nearer solving the mystery of her identity?"

"No," replied Betty.

"Then what occurred to-day?"

"Oh, it was that horrid Alice Jallow!" exclaimed Mollie. "Excuse me, Mr. Ford!" she cried, impulsively, "but I just can't help saying it."

"You are excused," he said, smiling.

By turns the girls told what had happened on the ice.

"Humph! Rather strange," mused the lawyer. "Quite a coincidence. I don't believe I ever told you, Grace," and he looked at his daughter, "but, as a matter of fact, I am the principal owner of this lumber camp where you girls may go."

"No, you never told me, Daddy."

"Well, I am. I bought it some time ago as an investment, but things went wrong. I guess the right men didn't have charge. Neither the lumber business, nor the leasing of camp sites and bungalows to Summer vacationists and Fall hunters, paid. The matter got into the courts and I had myself named as receiver, so I could better look after my interest. Now I don't know just what I am going to do, except that I want some one up there to see to things. If I can get Ted Franklin and his wife I know it will be all right, and you girls will have a fine time with them.

"You can have a bungalow or a cabin or two to yourselves, if you like, and lay in enough provisions for all winter. It's on a branch of the Argono River," he went on, "and you can skate all the way to camp on the ice, if you like. But we'll discuss the details later."

"What about the complications, Daddy?" asked Grace, laughing.

"I'm coming to them. Mr. Jallow, the father of your friend Alice--"

"She isn't our friend," said Grace, quickly.

"Well, anyhow, her father is mixed up in this lumber camp business. He owns a lot of property next to mine, and he claims some that I think should belong to me."

"He does?" cried Mollie. "That's just like the Jallows! Always taking what doesn't belong to them-even the reputation of other girls. She borrowed my botany a year ago and never returned it."

Mr. Ford smiled.

"I don't know anything about the girl Alice," he said, "but that Jallow is certainly a sharper, to be moderate. He and I will have a clash if he doesn't look out!" and Mr. Ford's hands clenched.

"What about, Daddy?" asked Grace.

"Why, as I said, he claims some land that I think is mine. When I bought this lumber camp, and formed a company, with myself as the largest stockholder, I was given to understand that a certain tract, containing valuable timber, went with my purchase. I had it surveyed, and I supposed I had title to this big strip, that joins on some land Jallow owns.

"We didn't cut any trees on this strip for some years, and here this Fall, when we started in on it, Jallow stopped us by an injunction from the court."

"By what right?" asked Betty.

"Why, he claimed that valuable strip was his. I contested, of course, but it seems that there was a mix-up in the landmarks. Those by which I went, when I had my survey made, had disappeared, and others which were accepted by the court seemed to indicate that the land was Jallow's. B

ut I know better. I was there at the survey, and saw the marks. The trouble is that I couldn't prove it. My word alone was not enough, and the surveyor, I am sorry to say, is dead."

"Then you can never prove it is your land, Daddy?"

"Well, if I could find an old lumberman-Paddy Malone he called himself-if I could find him, I might prove my case, for he was with me at the time, he and a couple of his friends, and he saw where the stakes and stone piles were. But Paddy seems to have disappeared."

"That's too bad!" exclaimed Mollie, sympathetically.

"Yes. Well, I may be able to do something later. I am sure the landmarks were changed-if not by Jallow, by some one interested with him. The strip they claim, and which I say is mine, is the most valuable in the woods. I wish I could establish title to it, but unless I can find Paddy, or some of his friends, I'm afraid I'll have to lose.

"That is the complication I spoke of. But it need not hinder you girls from going to spend the winter in camp-or at least part of the winter."

"Will there be any danger?" asked Grace, rather timidly.

"No, not at all. You won't be mixed up in the legal proceedings. Nothing will be done, anyhow, until Spring. Then I'll see what can be accomplished. I only want a legal representative in the camp, in case Jallow tries any more sharp tricks. He has won the first skirmish, however, so I don't believe he'll make another move until I do. It only complicates matters, though.

"Now, if you girls think you'd like to go winter camping, why, say the word, find out if your folks will let you," and Mr. Ford looked at Mollie and Betty, "and I'll arrange with Ted Franklin and his wife."

"Of course we'll go, Daddy!" cried Grace, dancing about the room. "It will be just lovely; won't it, girls?"

"Scrumptious!" agreed Mollie.

"I'm sure I can go!" declared Betty. "Now let's go tell poor Amy!"

"Yes, I think the change will do her good," said Mr. Ford, reflectively. "Those Jallows-well, perhaps the least said about them the better."

Talking excitedly over the chance that had been offered to them, Grace, Mollie and Betty were soon on their way to the home of Amy Stonington. They found their chum in better spirits. The gloom of the day had passed, and she smiled, though wanly.

By common, though unspoken, consent, the little episode of the afternoon was not referred to.

"But, oh! we've got the finest news!" cried Betty, enthusiastically. "We're going winter camping! Think of that! Winter camping!"

"Tell me about it!" commanded Amy, her face brightening. And they told her.

The description had been nearly finished, and from Mr. and Mrs. Stonington had been exacted a tentative promise that Amy could go if the rest did, when the telephone bell rang.

"It's Will on the wire," said Amy to Grace. "He wants to speak to you."

"How did he know I was here?" asked Grace, as she took the receiver from her chum. "Oh, papa must have told him. Yes, what is it, Will? What! Mr. Blackford there? And he has some strange news of his missing sister? Yes, you and he can come right over!"

She turned and gazed with startled eyes at her chums.

"I-I wonder if he has found her?" faltered Mollie.

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