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   Chapter 20 TO THE RESCUE

The Outdoor Girls in a Winter Camp / Or, Glorious Days on Skates and Ice Boats By Laura Lee Hope Characters: 6338

Updated: 2017-12-04 00:02

"Oh-oh!" gasped Grace, when she saw the dark and seething water all around them. "Oh, we're-afloat!"

"And it's a good thing, too!" exclaimed Betty quickly, as she squared the rudder-runner. "If we weren't afloat we'd be sinking, and I don't want to do that-it's too cold!"

Thus spoke the practical Little Captain, for she realized that now was the time to gain control over the nerves of her chums. Once they became hysterical there would be no managing them. And, as she spoke she glanced sharply at Mollie, who had opened her mouth to say something, but had thought better of it.

"But we're on a cake of-ice!" cried Amy.

"And, as the old wolf said to Little Red Riding Hood, so much the better to keep afloat with, my dear!" went on Betty gaily, a condition which she was far from feeling.


The Outdoor Girls in a Winter Camp. Page 160.

"Yes, it's a nice big cake, too!" declared Mollie, recognizing that Betty would need help-"backing-up"-in her efforts to calm the two more timid girls. "It's a lovely large cake," Mollie added. "The largest around of any. Just suppose we were on-that?" and she pointed to one about as large as a "five cent piece the ice man brings in on a hot day," to quote Betty's later characterization.

"Oh, how can you make fun, when we may-when we may-may slip off any minute?" protested Grace, half tearfully. "Oh, why did we come out in this ice boat?"

"Now look here!" and Betty spoke sharply. "Isn't it a good deal better to be jolly than glum? Of course it is. And we're in no immediate danger. As Mollie says, we may be thankful we are not on a small cake of ice. This will hold us nicely."

"But we're floating down the stream," said Amy.

"Of course we are," agreed Betty cheerfully. "A river never stands still, you know. We are floating down with the rest of the cakes. Pretty soon there will be an ice jam, and--"

"Oh, don't say that!" begged Grace. "An ice jam! That's one of those terrible things where so many persons are killed."

"Nonsense! You're thinking of an avalanche!" declared Mollie. "Betty means that the cakes of ice will all jam together pretty soon, when the river narrows, and we can walk ashore as nicely as you please, hauling the ice boat after us."

"Why can't we go ashore in that?" asked Amy, her face brightening.

"Because it will be so-humpy!" explained Betty. "We could not run the auto ice boat over the bumps. But really it might be worse; I'm not fooling."

Their situation was indeed peculiarly fortunate considering what had happened. The warm weather had softened the ice, and the melting of much snow had caused the river to rise. This had had the effect of cracking the covering of ice, and it had broken up. The ice boat got on a certain large section that split off and went floating down stream.

"Well, let's get out and see what we can do," proposed Mollie, as she left her place near the motor.

"Don't you dare leave this boat!" commanded Betty, a bit sternly.

"Why not?" asked Mollie, curiously.

"I'll tell you why. Though the cake we are on seems solid, there may be cracks in it,

and it might separate if we stepped out on it. You see our weight would come in a comparatively small space, whereas in the boat it is distributed over a large surface."

"My? Where did you learn that?" asked Mollie, admiringly.

"In our physics class. It's true, too. We must stay here."

"How, long?" queried Grace. "It will soon be late, and--"

"You have some chocolates; haven't you?" demanded Betty, quickly.

"Yes, but--"

"Then save them. We may be here for some time, but we are bound to be taken off-sooner or later."

"And if it's later, and the cake of ice goes to pieces, no matter whether we get out on it or not, what will happen?" Amy wanted to know.

"Well, the boat contains a lot of wood, and it will float for some time-especially this cockpit part," said Betty. "Then, too, some one is sure to see us when we get down a little further. Or the boys will miss the ice boat, and, knowing that we have it out, they'll hunt for us. Especially when they see the ice breaking up."

They were slowly floating down stream-slowly because of the number of large and small cakes their own encountered. After the first alarm the girls felt more at ease, especially Amy and Grace, for, in a large measure, they had come to depend on Betty and Mollie. And these two justified the confidence reposed in them.

Eagerly they all scanned the shore of the river, but they saw no one.

"I'd even be glad to see some of the Jallows!" exclaimed Grace, after a bit. "They couldn't refuse to rescue us. Oh, I do hope papa will have no further trouble with that man! If we could only help him to straighten out the tangle!"

"We'll have to straighten out our own first," said Mollie, with a tense smile. "Do you think we are getting nearer shore, Betty?"

Betty was about to reply, when, with a sharp report, a large piece broke off their cake of ice. This left one of the runners on the forward cross-piece close to the lapping water.

"Oh dear!" cried Amy. "If this keeps up--"

"Isn't that a man over there?" suddenly cried Betty, pointing toward shore. "Yes, girls, it is. A man! Oh, shout to him! Call for help!"

The next instant there went echoing over the expanse of ice-strewn water four young voices, uniting in a call for aid.

Fortunately the wind was right, and the man heard. He had been walking along the river shore, and now, looking up and across, he saw the girls in the ice boat in their perilous position. It needed but an instant for him to sense the situation, and he acted promptly.

He waved his hand as a sign of encouragement, and his voice came faintly to the girls, but they could not make out what he said. The man ran back up the shore a little way.

"Where's he going?" asked Amy. "Oh, he's going to leave us!"

"No, he's probably gone for help!" said Betty. "Oh, there goes another piece of our floe!"

"Help! Help! Hurry!" shouted Mollie, the others joining their voices to hers.

Presently the man was seen to be pushing something down to the river.

"It's a boat!" cried Betty. "Now we're all right!" And it did seem to be some sort of boat in which the man was coming to the rescue.

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