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

   Chapter 14 AN ICE BOAT RACE

The Outdoor Girls in a Winter Camp / Or, Glorious Days on Skates and Ice Boats By Laura Lee Hope Characters: 8880

Updated: 2017-12-04 00:02


"The girls will want to know this!" cried Will, when he had grasped the import of the news.

"Yes, and I want to tell them," said Mr. Blackford. "Somehow or other I have an idea that they can help me to find my sister. I don't know why I feel so, but I have-all along. They have always been so lucky."

"They surely have," agreed Allen. "From the time they first set out--"

"And found my five hundred dollar bill," interrupted Mr. Blackford. "And then--"

"Un-haunting the mansion of Shadow Valley," added Will.

"How did you come to find the missing piece of paper?" asked Frank.

"It was simple enough," replied the young man. "It appears that the corner of the document, describing the birth mark on my sister, was torn off when the firm I have engaged to help search for her, forwarded it to me. One of the stenographers found it in her desk the other day, and they sent it on.

"I had some business in this section, so, remembering your kind invitation to spend some time in your camp, I decided to avail myself of it, and stop over."

"Glad you did," said Will hospitably. "Did the storm bother you?"

"Not much. You were caught in it though."

"Yes. Had to leave the ice boat and tramp back. But we're all right now. We'll hustle around and get some grub," announced Allen. "Then we'll go over and see the girls. They'll be anxious to hear the story. You haven't succeeded in locating your sister yet; have you?"

"No, I've been on a number of false trails, but I somehow feel that luck is going to turn now."

Mr. Blackford, who said he had been invited by Mr. Franklin to make himself at home in the cabin of the boys, turned in and helped them get ready a simple meal. It was now night, and the boys were tired out from buffeting the storm. But they were in good spirits, and glad to see their friend.

After the meal, at which all present displayed good appetites, they went over to the girls' cabin, where they found Betty and her chums in dry clothes sitting before a roaring fire.

"My, this looks like all the comforts of home!" exclaimed Mr. Blackford approaching the blaze and rubbing his hands. "You certainly have it fine here!"

"So you have good news?" queried Grace, for Will had slipped over for a moment to give a hint of what was to come.

"Yes, I have a description of my sister's birth mark now. So if you see her-or if I do-we can identify her."

"I hope we do find her," spoke Betty sympathetically. "What sort of a mark is it?"

"It is the letter 'V' on her left arm, just above the elbow," returned Mr. Blackford.

"That ought to be easy to see-especially in summer time when the girls wear short sleeves," said Will. "But in winter it would be rather awkward going about asking a girl if she had the letter 'V' tattooed on her elbow. She might think you were trying to jolly her."

"It isn't a tattoo mark," said Mr. Blackford, as he consulted the description, the torn-off piece having been pasted on to make it complete. "It's a red birth-mark, this paper says, and is in the shape of a 'V'. I do hope it will lead to something. If you girls--"

"Why-why!" cried Betty springing to her feet. "Amy, you have a mark like that-at least it looks like a mark on your arm. I have often seen it!" Betty was much excited, and Amy turned pale.

"Is this-is this so?" faltered Mr. Blackford eagerly. "Have you such a mark?"

"Not such as you describe," replied Amy with a blush. When the young man had first spoken of a birth mark a rush of hope had flooded her heart. Now it had receded, leaving her disappointed.

"See," she said, rolling up her sleeve just above her elbow. "It is a mere scar. I have had it ever since I was a child. I don't know how I came by the thing, and neither-neither do-any of my friends." She hesitated at the word.

"No, I'm afraid the mark I am looking for isn't that kind," said Mr. Blackford slowly. "The one spoken of in the missing part of the letter is very definite. I am sorry."

Amy was too, but she did not speak.

"Oh, isn't this too bad!" exclaimed Betty contritely. "I am sorry I spoke, and raised false hopes. But I remembered that mark on Amy's arm--"

"Well, better luck next time," said Mr. Blackford, as cheerfully as he could. "If you girls will continue to be on the lookout--"

"We'll do all we can for you," said Mollie, Amy did not speak again. It might be that she was wishing she had some such clue so

that she could locate her missing parents or relatives, whoever they might be.

Mr. Blackford, who had been in Deepdale a few days before setting out for the camp, told the news and gossip of the village.

"Did you hear anything as to why Mr. Jallow brought his folks up here?" asked Grace.

"Nothing definite-no. There was talk that they had come here, and folks were speculating as to why. I wondered if it had anything to do with the dispute over the land."

"We think so, but we can't be sure," said Will. "I have written to father about it, and he has asked us to be on our guard. Jallow may be planning some trick to get more land away from dad."

"Oh, I wish this unpleasant dispute was all over!" sighed Grace. "It makes it so uncertain!"

"Well, don't worry," advised Allen. "We're having a good time up here."

"And we'll have more fun when I get what I've sent for," said Will mysteriously.

"What is it?" asked Grace. "Another box of chocolates?"

"Nonsense! Always chocolates!" cried her brother. "No, this is better. Did you inquire about it when you were in town, Mr. Blackford?" for Will had been corresponding with the young man.

"Yes, and they said it would be shipped this week."

"Good! Then I'll get it next, and we'll astonish the girls."

"Mean thing-not to tell!" pouted Grace. But Will was obdurate.

The storm kept up all night, and part of the next day. The snow was so deep that skating and ice boating were out of the question. But the young people could go on sledding excursions, which they did, Mr. Franklin furnishing the horses and sleigh.

This was a new kind of fun, and was enjoyed to the utmost. They went to near-by towns, and had oyster suppers, going to informal dances afterward. Mr. Blackford stayed, and as he could do little business while thus snow-bound he made arrangements to remain in camp a week or two. The boys and girls were glad to have him, as he was good company, and knew no end of games for an evening entertainment.

Meanwhile, though the young folks often went off in the woods, they had no further clashes with the Jallows. They did not call on their rivals, though Mrs. Jallow, meeting the girls once or twice, pressed them to come.

"But she just wants to ask us questions about father's business," decided Grace. "We'll not go."

And they did not, for it would have been embarrassing for poor Amy.

Once or twice the girls had a sight of Hank Smither patroling the dividing line between the two properties, but he said nothing, and his dog growled. The girls were careful to keep on Mr. Ford's land.

Then came a miserable week, when it rained and rained and rained again. Much of the snow was washed away, and the boys and girls had to stay in their cabins most of the time. Then it was that Mr. Blackford proved his worth, for he was a royal entertainer, and when he ran out of tricks and games he invented new things to interest them.

"His sister will be a lucky girl-whoever she is, if he takes her to live with him," said Betty one night after an evening of enjoyment.

"That's right," agreed Mollie. "He's almost as nice as-Allen-isn't he?"

"I'm glad you think so," replied blushing Betty.

There came a freeze, and the river was just right for glorious skating and ice boating. The Spider had been brought to her dock again, and one pleasant afternoon, when there was a good, but not too cold or stiff a breeze, the party set off for another run. It was cool and clear, with no hint of storm.

They had not gone very far in the ice boat before they heard the approach of another behind them, and soon, to their surprise, they saw in the craft that was rapidly overcoming them Alice Jallow, and her three young friends. As they came up Jake Rossmore called patronizingly:

"Want a race?"

"Sure," answered Allen, nothing loath, for he had faith in his craft.

Soon the two gliders were on even terms, but it was soon seen that the rival boat carried more sail, and was better built for racing. It began to forge ahead of the Spider.

"I'll tell them you're coming!" jeered Sam Batty as he waved his hand to those he was leaving behind.

"Oh, can't you beat him?" exclaimed Mollie impulsively. "Do try, Allen!"

"I will, but they have the better boat."

He man?uvered as best he could, but it was of no use. The other boat shot ahead.

"Wait!" murmured Will. "I'll show them a trick next week."

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