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   Chapter 12 IN A BIG STORM

The Outdoor Girls in a Winter Camp / Or, Glorious Days on Skates and Ice Boats By Laura Lee Hope Characters: 8973

Updated: 2017-12-04 00:02

"How do you do?" asked Kittie sweetly-too sweetly, the other girls mentally decided as the three rivals approached the boundary line. "We hear you are camping up in these woods."

"Yes," remarked Betty a bit coldly. Really they had no quarrel with Kittie, though she was the chum of Alice, and always siding with her. Kittie had never said anything actually mean. "Yes, we are here. Are you camping too?"

"We are," said Mrs. Jallow, taking up the conversation. Evidently she did not propose to do as her daughter did, and not speak, for Alice, with a supercilious air, had not so much as addressed a word to the outdoor girls and their boy friends. "We are in one of Mr. Jallow's cabins. We like it very much."

"Yes, it is nice," agreed Grace. Amy had taken no part in the talk, and Will, sensing her feelings, took her arm and led her along the path, pretending to show her some curious moss formation on the trees.

"Where are you staying?" went on Mrs. Jallow. She must have known of the feeling between her daughter and the other girls, but she was credited with being a very curious person, and she may have been willing, for the sake of acquiring information, to sink her personal feelings. Naturally she would side with Alice.

"Oh, we are in one of the cabins my father owns," said Grace.

"Going to stay long?"

"We don't know."

"That is the way with us," went on Mrs. Jallow. "Jim-that's Mr. Jallow, you know-has quite a lot of timber to get out of that new tract, and he wants to finish before Spring. So as I was sort of run down I thought I'd take a rest and come up with him and the girls and boys. Your folks all well?"

"Yes," went on Grace, who seemed to have had the office of spokesman thrust upon her.

"I'm sorry about the trouble you had with Hank Smither," went on Alice's mother.

"Hank Smither?" questioned Mollie.

"Yes. He's one of Mr. Jallow's men, you know. He ordered you off, the other day. But you must excuse him. He was only carrying out our orders, and I've no doubt Mr. Jallow will be glad to let you come over and see us."

"Oh, Mr. Smither didn't annoy us," said Grace easily. "We realized that the poor man was only carrying out his orders. Thank you for the invitation, but I don't know as we will have much time for calling. We are up here to get as much fresh air as we can."

"Humph!" sneered Alice audibly.

"Well, we mustn't let business quarrels interfere with we women folks being friendly," said Mrs. Jallow in what she probably meant for a conciliatory tone, but which she only succeeded in making patronizing.

"No, indeed, we don't intend to," said Betty, calmly. "We hope you will enjoy it here."

"Well, the young folks do, if I don't," said Mrs. Jallow. "I like more conveniences than you have in a log cabin. But then it may do my nerves good to get a rest."

There was a little pause-rather an awkward one-and then Grace said:

"Well, girls, we had better be getting on. It's late."

"Yes, and I must see about supper," said Mrs. Jallow. "I wish you'd come over." She did not heed the eye-telegraphic signals her daughter was flashing at her. But the other girls understood.

"Thank you," said Grace again, non-committally.

"Well-good-bye!" said Mrs. Jallow, a farewell in which Kittie joined faintly, but Alice, without a word, turned her back and marched toward the cabin, where the two boys still were.

"She tried to find out all she could," said Mollie when the outdoor girls had gotten out of sight in the woods. "That's all she talked for."

"Yes, and I believe they just came up here camping because they heard we were here," went on Betty. "Oh, I do hope we don't get into any trouble with them."

"It will have to be of their making," said Grace firmly. "I'll never set foot on that land Mr. Jallow claims if I can help it. It might complicate legal matters."

"That is a wise decision," said Allen, viewing it from a lawyer's standpoint. "Let the trespass come from them, if there is to be any."

They talked over the unexpected meeting with their rivals, and speculated as to when they had come, and the motive that brought them, also, to a winter camp.

"I believe it's just to spy on us!" declared Mollie. "We have evidently frightened them, Grace."

"Then they must have something to be frightened about," said Will. "I do wish we could get on the track of something, or somebody, who could let us know how to prove that the boundary is wrong; for wrong

father surely thinks it is."

"We'll do the best we can," suggested Allen. "I am going to send for copies of the deeds, and then we'll look along the present boundary marks. I may be able to see if they have been changed. I once studied surveying."

"I want you boys to promise something," said Grace, as they neared their cabin.

"What is it?" asked Frank.

"Not to have any quarrels with those girls-Alice and Kittie."

"We never quarrel with girls," said Will.

"Well, then, with those boys, either."

"We won't do anything to provoke a quarrel if they don't, Sis," Will promised. "But we're not going to let them walk over us; eh, fellows?"

"Of course not!" cried Frank.

"Oh, but please don't get into a-a fight!" begged Grace, and she meant it.

"All right, little one; here is a chocolate for thou!" laughed Will, as he crowded one into her mouth.

For a few days our friends saw nothing of Alice and the rival campers. They did not go toward the part of the wood where the Jallow cabin was located, and Mrs. Jallow did not bring her charges toward the place where our boys and girls held forth.

There was little for Ted Franklin, Mr. Ford's man, to do, save to keep a watch over the camp, visiting the distant points on different days. In his trips he was often accompanied by some of the young people, who much enjoyed his company, for Mr. Franklin was an old woodsman, and many an interesting bit of information, or lore, he gave out, to the profit of the boys and girls.

"Hurray!" exclaimed Will one day, when a belated mail had come in. "Here's a letter from Mr. Blackford. He says he's coming up to pay us a visit soon."

"That will be nice," spoke Mollie. She had taken quite a liking to the young business man, and he seemed fond of her.

"We'll have some fun," said Frank. "We'll show him the woods, all right."

"Oh, he is no tenderfoot," declared Allen.

It was several days after this that Will proposed an ice boat trip. The river was in fine condition, and the wind was just right.

"The only thing is that it looks like a storm," said Betty. "We don't want to go too far."

"We won't," promised Will.

They got an early start, and took some food with them, intending to stay until afternoon. Though they did not plan to sail far, it was so glorious, once they started to glide along, that there was a temptation to continue, and when, by consulting her watch, Mollie discovered it to be some minutes after noon, they were many miles from camp.

"Oh, we must stop!" she exclaimed. "The wind may die out and we can't get back!"

"All right-let's have the eats then," proposed Will. A halt was made, and on the bank, under the shelter of some big trees, they built a fire, made chocolate and partook of the sandwiches they had brought.

"This is all right!" exclaimed Frank, munching on some bread and chicken, a sentiment with which they all agreed.

Betty was nervously glancing at the sky now and then.

"Do hurry!" she urged her chums.

"Oh, don't fuss so," advised Mollie. "You won't enjoy your food if you do."

"But I'm sure it's going to storm."

"Let it!" said Will recklessly.

Five minutes later the first flakes began falling. This brought even Will to a sense of possible danger. The things were hurriedly collected, the young people got into the Spider and the sail was hoisted. Off they glided down the river toward their camp.

"We'll beat the storm there!" boasted Will.

"I don't know about that," said Allen slowly, as he cast a glance aloft. "It looks to me as though it was going to come down hard soon. And the wind is freshening."

The white flakes did increase in volume a little later and the wind sighed mournfully through the pine trees on shore, and through the rigging of the ice boat.

Then, with a suddenness that was almost terrifying, the storm broke over them in a fury so often witnessed in wintry outbursts. The snow was blinding, and was whipped into their faces by an ever-increasing wind.

"Why-why, we can't see ten feet ahead!" cried Frank.

"Oh, slow down-don't run into anything!" begged Betty.

"I guess I had better lay to a while, until we see what it's going to do," decided Allen, as he lowered the sail. "It's too much of a risk. There may be open water, or an air hole, or another boat on the river."

And then, as the craft came slowly to a stop, they gazed out at the big storm which enveloped them, hiding the shores from sight.

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