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

   Chapter 13 THE MISSING PIECE

The Outdoor Girls in a Winter Camp / Or, Glorious Days on Skates and Ice Boats By Laura Lee Hope Characters: 8988

Updated: 2017-12-04 00:02


"Say, this is no fun!" exclaimed Will, when ten minutes had passed, with no cessation of the fury of the wind and whirling white flakes.

"It is keeping up," spoke Mollie in a low tone. "Can we ever get back to camp?"

"Of course!" cried Betty quickly. It was no time now to have anyone's nerves go to pieces. "Certainly we can get back, if we have to walk; can't we, boys?" and she gave Allen a look that made his eyes sparkle as he answered:

"Certainly. It will be more fun walking, anyhow."

"Spoken like a true hero," said Will in his ear.

"The boat can't go if the snow gets very deep," observed Frank.

"And it is getting heavier every minute," declared Amy, looking over the side of the cockpit of the ice boat, and brushing some of the white crystals from the frozen surface of the river. "There's nearly half an inch now," and she shivered slightly.

"Are you cold, dear?" asked Betty, passing over a spare blanket, for they had brought along plenty of coverings and wraps.

"No, not exactly cold, Betty, but--"

"Don't say you're worried, my dear," whispered Betty, as she tucked some stray strands of hair under her Tam-o'-Shanter. "Grace is so nervous lately," went on Betty, under pretense of wrapping the robe around Amy. "I don't know what is the matter with her, but she seems to fly to pieces if you look at her."

"Perhaps it's worry about this lumber camp business."

"It may be. Anyhow we don't want to get her alarmed. We may have hard enough time as it is."

"Oh, Betty! Do you think-anything will-happen?"

"Of course-lots of things will happen!" laughed Betty, Grace and Mollie having gotten out of the boat to stroll about a bit. "We'll have a nice walk home, and a good hot supper, and then we'll sit about the fireplace and roast apples and marshmallows, and talk about this."

"That listens good," observed Will rather sarcastically, "but it may be a long while before you're sitting before your own fireside, or we in front of ours."

"Well, you don't need to make the announcement of that fact; do you?" asked Allen, as he straightened out some of the running tackle of the sail.

"So that's the way the wind lies; eh?" asked Will in a queer tone. "What's the answer, old man?"

"Just this," replied Allen. "We may not be able to go on in the boat. I thought this was only a snow squall, but it seems to be turning into a regular blizzard. You know we can't glide over the ice when it's covered with snow. We may have to walk back to camp, and it's no small stretch. What I mean is that we've got to keep up the courage of the girls. That's all."

He and Will and Frank were out of the boat now, fixing one of the ropes that had gotten out of place, so Betty and Amy, who remained cuddled up in the soft and warm robes, did not hear the talk.

"So that's the game-bluff?" asked Will.

"Somewhat-yes. I'm going to try to start off again, but I don't know how far we'll get. Where's Grace and Mollie?"

"Hey-Grace!" cried Will, raising his voice. "We're going to start!"

"All right!" floated back the answer through the storm.

Soon the girls came running up to the ice boat. They had been racing about, they said, to get warm, and Betty and Amy, sitting amid the furs and blankets, rather wished they had done the same, for they were quite chilly in spite of their coverings.

"I'm going to make a try for it," explained Allen. "We may not be able to go far, for the snow is rather wet and heavy, and it may clog the runners. But we'd better make a start, anyhow. It seems to be slackening up a bit."

They piled into the ice boat, and the sail was hoisted. The Spider darted off, after a moment's hesitation.

"Hurray!" cried Will. "We're moving."

"And that's about all," said Allen in a low voice. "Don't crow until you're out of the woods. This snow is worse than I thought it was."

For a time the ice boat went along well, halting occasionally as masses of snow clogged the runners. Then there came a jolt, and a puff of wind nearly upset it, as the craft did not properly answer the helm.

"Oh, my!" screamed Grace, as she clutched Betty. "We are going to upset."

"No, we're not!" declared Allen, as he loosed the halyards, letting the sail come down on the run. "I guess we'll have to abandon the Spider," he went on, "and tramp it. The snow is too heavy. We may upset."

"Well, the girls are good walkers," observed Frank.

"Which is a blessing," spoke Will. "Out of the Spider into the-f

rying-pan. Don't you ask me to carry you, Sis," and he looked at his sister.

"No danger!" she retorted, haughtily.

The storm, though continuing steadily, had so far lessened in severity that the shores of the river could be made out, standing grim and dark with their fringes of trees.

"We'll just run the Spider over to shore," said Allen, "and leave it there. We can come for it to-morrow, or whenever the storm lets up."

"What about the blankets and robes?" asked Will.

"Take them with us. We-oh, well, take them along. They may blow away," and Allen corrected himself.

The girls and boys climbed out of the boat, loaded themselves with the wraps after the craft had been tied close to shore, and started off down the river.

"What were you going to say about the blankets and robes?" asked Will, when he got a chance to speak to Allen alone. "Was it that we might need them-in case we didn't get back to camp?"

"It was."

"Don't you think we have a very good chance?"

"Not extra good-to-night. Of course we'll get there to-morrow, but it will be too bad if the girls have to stay out all night. Perhaps they won't, but if they do we can make a shelter of the robes and blankets."

"That's so," agreed Will.

On they tramped through the storm. It was hard work, for the snow clogged their steps and the wind made the carrying of the heavy blankets an additional burden. But no one murmured.

They kept to the river, and thus were assured of a straight road to camp. It was not like being lost in the wood. The only danger was that they were quite a distance from their cabins, and that night was coming on, and that a big storm was raging. Long since it had passed from the class of a mere squall, in which it seemed to be at one time.

"Did anyone bring the sandwiches we left?" asked Grace, when they had gone on for perhaps a mile.

"I did, and your chocolates, too," said Allen. "Will you have them now?"

"Divide the candy up," said Grace. "They say that persons lost in the snowy Alps eat chocolate."

"You eat it-lost or not," laughed Will. "But pass it around, Allen."

There was a sandwich each, and also a few pieces of candy for each one, as Allen divided them, and the eating of the bread, meat and sweets did really put new energy into them. They trudged on in better heart now.

"But we're still a good way from camp," said Allen, as he peered as best he could at the landmarks on the shore. "It will take us another hour."

"And it will be dark then," said Amy in a low voice.

"Never mind," advised Betty. "The snow on the ground will make it light, and we can't miss the river. We'll be all right."

Darkness did not bring them in sight of their camp, and they were beginning to lose heart, when Will cried:

"I see a light! It's Franklin's cabin. We're at camp! We're all right now!"

"Are you sure?" asked Grace.

"Certainly. I knew we were near it some time ago."

He gave a hail, which was answered, and soon the young people heard the welcome call of Mr. Franklin, who demanded to know where they had been, and what had happened.

"There's a light in our cabin!" exclaimed Will, as he saw the gleam in the window. "Who's there, Mr. Franklin?"

"A friend of yours-he says."

"A friend of ours!" exclaimed Allen. "Is it Mr. Jallow, masquerading under that name, and trying to get possession of this land as well as the other valuable strip?"

"No, it isn't Jallow," replied Mr. Franklin. "I know him. This is a young fellow you've been expecting, he says. He come up in a hired rig from the village. Blackstone-Blackrock-some such name as that he give."

"Oh, Mr. Blackford, yes. We were expecting him. So he has arrived? I hope he made himself at home."

"I told him to," said Mr. Franklin, "and I guess he did. He had quite a time of it in the storm, and I reckon you folks did, too."

"We did!" exclaimed Will. "But we're all right now. Come on, girls, get in and make yourselves comfortable, and we'll bring Blackford over as soon as we feed him."

The girls went to their cabin, the boys to theirs. The latter found Mr. Blackford making himself perfectly at home.

"Well, what brings you up here?" asked Allen, when greetings had been exchanged.

"Boys, I've got good news!" cried the young business man. "I've found the missing piece of paper that tells me what sort of a birth mark my sister has-the sister I have been searching for so long. I could hardly wait to tell you!"

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