MoboReader> Literature > The Outdoor Girls in a Winter Camp / Or, Glorious Days on Skates and Ice Boats

   Chapter 11 THE RIVALS

The Outdoor Girls in a Winter Camp / Or, Glorious Days on Skates and Ice Boats By Laura Lee Hope Characters: 11967

Updated: 2017-12-04 00:02


Grace clutched Mollie, and Amy made an equally effective seizure of Betty. The two girls whose nerves were under better control than those of their two chums stood their ground-if not sturdily, at least with the appearance of it. They stared at the man, for want of something better to do, as Mollie afterward admitted. And the man found their gaze a bit disconcerting, it was evident, for he shifted uneasily, first on one big-booted foot, and then on the other.

"Well, be you goin' t' git?" he finally asked. "I tell you this is private land, and Mr. Jallow don't allow nobody on it 'ceptin' them he hires."

This gave Mollie an opening.

"Oh, is this Mr. Jallow's land?" she asked, and her chums wondered at the sweetness of her tones.

"It be," the burly guard replied, "an' you'd better git off."

The dog growled, and looked up inquiringly at his master as though asking for orders.

"We-we know Mr. Jallow," went on Mollie. Then nudging Grace, she whispered: "Say something; can't you? This must be the piece your father is having trouble about. Say something."

"I-I don't know what to say," faltered Grace. "Oh, let's get away from here! That dog--"

The animal growled, as though resenting the tone in which Grace talked about him.

"Do come," urged Amy. "I'm all in a tremble. The woods are big enough without getting on this disputed land."

"I tell you you'd better go!" insisted the guardian of the forest. "I'm supposed to keep trespassers off, an' I'm goin' t' do it, too!" Evidently he did not like the looks of the girls whispering together. Perhaps he may have imagined that there was a conspiracy to kidnap him and take possession of the property in dispute. He moved nearer to the girls, the dog following him.

Grace uttered a little cry.

"Now I ain't a-goin' fer t' hurt ye!" exclaimed the man, "an' I don't want t' be no harsher than I have t' be, but you folks must move back, else I'll have t' make ye go. I'm on guard here, and--"

"Oh, we'll go," said Betty quickly, "but I don't see what harm we were doing. The woods seem all alike to me."

"Well, mebbe ye wasn't doin' no particular harm," admitted the man in surly tones, "but my orders is to keep trespassers off, an' I'm goin' t' do it!"

"It's hard to tell where Mr. Ford's land ends and Mr. Jallow's begins," said Mollie, looking for some sign of a boundary mark. The man started.

"Be you folks from Ford's camp?" he asked, quickly.

"Yes," said Grace, taking heart, perhaps, at the mention of her father's name. "I am Miss Ford."

"Well, I'm sorry, but now you'll have to go quicker than if you was some one else!" said the man firmly. "I thought you was jest ordinary folks, but I've got very strict orders not to let Mr. Ford nor nobody who represents him, set foot on this land. So that's your game; is it?" and he leered at them.

"Game! We don't know what you mean!" said Mollie with asperity. "We certainly are up to no game."

"Indeed not!" echoed Betty indignantly. The girls, even Amy and Grace, had recovered their "nerve" now. The opposition, when they knew they had done no real harm, was enough to make them assert themselves for their common rights.

"Well, you'll have to git right away from here. I won't stand for no nonsense!" cried the fellow. "Fer all I know you may be tryin' some law-dodge on me. Move on!"

He advanced threateningly, and the dog growled menacingly. Even Mollie and Betty were not brave enough to stand their ground now, and they were preparing for a precipitate retreat when the sound of a shot was heard close at hand.

The man uttered an exclamation of alarm, and the dog barked, ending in a howl.

"Ha! More trespassers!" ejaculated the man. "Are they with you? Are they friends of yours?" he asked cunningly.

"They might be," answered Mollie, thinking of the boys who had gone hunting.

"Well, if that's the case," began the man, "I'll have to--"

But he did not finish, for, at that instant, Will, Allen, and Frank came out from behind a clump of bushes. Will bore a gun that still had smoke coming from the muzzle. The boys started at the sight of the girls, and looked wonderingly at the man who was so evidently threatening them.

"What's up, Sis?" demanded Will, striding forward.

"Has this-fellow-been annoying you?" asked Allen.

"I warned 'em away-they are trespassing on Mr. Jallow's land," said the man, but his manner was much softened. Evidently the sight of the three young huntsmen had had a good effect.

"Oh, so this is Mr. Jallow's land?" inquired Allen quickly. "Is this the part that is in dispute?"

"I don't know nothin' about no dispute," was the sullen response, "but I know what my orders are, and I'm going t' carry 'em out."

"Far be it from us to stand in the way of you doing your duty," remarked Will pleasantly. "But if you have been annoying these young ladies--" he paused significantly and looked at his two chums.

"Oh, he-he didn't annoy us!" said Grace quickly. She wanted no unpleasantness.

"I am glad of it," spoke Will.

"Perhaps you will be glad enough to point out just where the boundary marks are," said Allen quietly. "We may be walking in these woods often, and we would not like to trespass if we can avoid it. Where is the dividing line?"

The question evidently took the man by surprise. He seemed confused.

"It's somewhere about here," he muttered. "I seen one of the stone piles a while ago."

"Perhaps the young ladies were not trespassing at all," went on Allen. "In that case I have to point out that you have exceeded your authority. You may even be a trespasser yourself, on Mr. Ford's land. If you are, don't be alarmed. We shall take no extreme measures."

"Huh! Think you're smart; don't you? Maybe you're a lawyer?"

"I am!" was the quiet answer "And I know my rights, and those of my friends."

"So that's the game, is it? You're tryin' t' establish a right here. Well, you can't do it! I order you off

."

"First show that you have the right," insisted Allen. "Where is the dividing line?"

The man looked up and down through the woods. He went a little way backward, and then forward. Then he uttered an exclamation.

"There it is-back of you!" he exclaimed. "You're all on Mr. Jallow's land now, and I order you off. Them stone piles are the points in the line. That big pine tree is another mark. The line runs right along here, and you're all trespassers."

"Well, if that is the correct line, perhaps we are," agreed the young lawyer. "And we are willing to go-for the time being. But it looks to me as though those stone piles had been very recently put up, and the blaze on that tree is certainly a fresh one."

"I don't know nothin' about that," growled the man. "All I was told was that this is the line, and to keep strangers off; so I'm going to do it!"

"And we don't blame you," went on Will, recognizing that it would be poor policy to quarrel with a mere guard. "If we question this at all it will be with those in authority."

"Huh! If you lock horns with Mr. Jallow you'll be sorry for it," said the guard. "Now you'd better go. My dog is getting uneasy."

"He'd better not get too uneasy," remarked Frank significantly. "Come on, girls," and the girls, who had been getting more and more nervous as the talk proceeded, were glad enough to precede the boys off the disputed territory. The man stood sullenly watching them, while the dog growled deep in his throat.

"Well, you had quite an adventure; eh?" asked Will when they were out of earshot of the man.

"Yes, and I was so afraid something would happen," said Grace. "He came upon us so suddenly!"

"Evidently Mr. Jallow means to contest this land business!" exclaimed Allen. "I should like to look into this matter myself. I don't like the looks of those stone piles."

"Father is sure there has been some unlawful change in the boundary line," spoke Grace. "But it is hard to prove. Oh, if we could only find that old lumberman, Paddy Malone."

"Perhaps we may come across him in our wanderings," suggested Mollie.

"Did you boys have any luck hunting?" inquired Betty, when the details of the encounter with the man had been given.

"Not a luck!" exclaimed Will. "We all fired at one poor little rabbit, and he ran home and told his mamma on us, I guess."

"Well, you won't go hungry," said Amy.

"Why, are you girls going to invite us over to lunch?" asked Will quickly. "That's great, fellows! For this unexpected pleasure-many thanks!" and he bowed low.

"I-I didn't exactly mean it that way!" stammered Amy, blushing, and looking at her friends in some alarm at thus being so quickly taken up. "I meant that you had plenty of food in your own cabin."

"Oh, no, Amy! You can't take it back that way!" cried Will, waltzing around with her in the snow. "You gave us an out-and-out invitation; didn't she, fellows?"

"Sure," chorused Frank and Allen.

"Oh, well, I guess we can stand you for one meal," said Grace. "Shall we, girls?"

The others were willing, and the hunters were soon with their friends, making merry at table.

The weather, which had been threatening, became more so toward night, and the next two days it snowed. It did not keep the outdoor girls in, but they did not go far from the cabins, as Mr. Franklin said they might easily become lost. The boys shoveled paths for them, and spent much time in hunting, but with poor luck. The girls managed to fill in the time, and they declared they would not have missed coming for anything.

Amy seemed to have recovered her spirits under the influence of her friends, and in the fresh, bracing air of the Winter woods. Letters from home came for all the girls and boys, but mails were not very frequent.

Going for food, cooking, doing the work of the cabin, taking walks filled up the days completely, and then there came a thaw, a rain and a freeze. The young folks spent much time on the river then, skating and ice boating, and having good times generally.

Then ensued another mild spell, during which long walks were taken to distant parts of the big lumber camp. The place where the logs were cut and hauled to the river, and the saw mill, now deserted, where some of the big trees were made into beams, were inspected by the curious ones.

One afternoon, following a long tramp, while the boys and girls were on their way to camp they made a curious discovery. Since the encounter with the man (the story of it having been sent to Mr. Ford) no further trouble had been experienced. But Grace and her chums were careful to keep on their side of the boundary.

On this occasion, however, they approached it closely, and looking off through the trees of the land Mr. Jallow claimed, Mollie espied smoke coming from a log cabin.

"Why, someone's living over there!" she exclaimed. "I never noticed that before."

"Neither did I," agreed Betty. "I'm sure no one was in it when we passed here two days ago!"

As they paused to look several persons came from the cabin, which had evidently been built for camping purposes.

"Look!" exclaimed Grace in a low voice.

"It's Alice Jallow!" exclaimed Mollie.

"And Kittie Rossmore!" added Betty.

"Who are the two fellows with them?" Grace wanted to know.

"One is Jake Rossmore-Kittie's brother," spoke Will, "and the other is--"

"Sam Batty!" interrupted Frank. "Two cronies if ever there were any. I wonder what this means?"

"It looks as though they were camping out-just as we are," said Mollie. "And, look, there is Mrs. Jallow. Oh, they've seen us!"

It was indeed so. Mrs. Jallow, her daughter and Kittie looked up and saw our friends-their rivals. Then the three newcomers started for the boundary line, the two boys remaining at the cabin.

"Shall we-shall we wait?" asked Betty in a low voice.

"We're on my father's land-I don't see why we should run," said Grace calmly. "Especially from-them!"

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