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

   Chapter 22 THE OLD LUMBERMAN

The Outdoor Girls in a Winter Camp / Or, Glorious Days on Skates and Ice Boats By Laura Lee Hope Characters: 5065

Updated: 2017-12-04 00:02


Finding an injured man in a lonely cabin, practically snowed in, was not the only surprise the girls were to receive that day. The other followed quickly on the heels of the first. It was Mollie who "sprung it," as Will said afterward, and even Grace did not rebuke him for his slang.

Betty, followed by the others-rather timidly followed, it must be confessed-approached the bunk where the man lay. He had indeed fainted and his face was woefully white. Then Mollie cried out:

"Why it's that man-the one who rescued us from the ice floe. It's the kind lumberman!"

The others stared at her for a moment, and then looked at the burly form amid the rough blankets. A light broke over Betty's face.

"It is the same one!" she cried. "Oh, girls, here is a chance for us to repay him for what he did for us!"

"But what-what can we do?" asked Grace. "We can't fix his broken leg!"

"No, but we can get him something to eat-some hot coffee, and revive him. Then we can go for help!" exclaimed practical Betty. "Now, girls, the first thing to do is to build a fire, and heat some water. The doctor will want that when he comes. We'll make some coffee, too. Then we'll see what is next to be done."

The outdoor girls were used to doing things for themselves. They had not lived in their cabin a month, building fires, getting their own meals and doing practically all the hard work, for nothing. They knew how to proceed, now that there was need of haste.

Betty, looking among the stores in the cupboard, found a bottle of strong ammonia. This she carefully brought to the man's nostrils. His breathing became quicker, and soon he opened his eyes. Wonderingly he stared about him.

"What-what happened? Who are you-girls? Oh, I guess I must have keeled over. Mighty foolish of me. Oh, my leg!"

A spasm of pain shot over his face.

"Lie still," said Betty soothingly. "We will send for help. Here, drink this," and she held some water to his lips. He supported himself on his elbow, and drank greedily.

"First I had in a long time," he apologized huskily.

Mollie and Grace were making the fire, while Amy was washing out the pot, and putting some ground coffee in it. The stove was blazing well, and the kettle was put on to boil. The man drank some more water and seemed better.

"I slipped and fell coming home the other day," he explained. "I didn't think it was much more than a sprain at first, but the next morning I couldn't walk, and I knew my leg was broken. Then come this last big storm, and no

body passed here. I yelled for help until I was hoarse, but it did no good. I had about given up when you girls came along. I haven't been able to even crawl, the pain was so bad. I just had to keep covered up to prevent freezing."

"You'll soon be all right," said Betty soothingly. "We are making coffee."

"Yes, I can smell it. It's mighty good of you girls."

"You know who we are; don't you?" asked Mollie.

"I can't say as I do. The light ain't very good in here."

"Don't you remember the girls who were stranded in the ice boat; and how you pulled us to shore?"

"Oh, are you those girls? Well, land be!"

"Here is some coffee," said Betty, pouring out a fragrant cup. "I couldn't find any milk, though."

"I never use it. I like it black. You can sweeten it with molasses. You'll find some in that jug," and he indicated it. "Well, well, to think you're those girls!" he murmured as he sipped the hot beverage. Every moment he seemed to be stronger, though his pain in his leg made him wince every now and then.

"We must get a doctor for you-or send the boys," spoke Betty. "Won't you tell us who you are? So we will know how to tell the physician."

The man hesitated a moment, and looked sharply at the girls.

"I didn't aim to tell my name," he said slowly. "I didn't want it known that I had come back. But I can't see that there's any harm in telling you girls. You won't know my story, and I guess the doctor won't either. I'm Paddy Malone!"

Grace started. The name stirred half-forgotten memories.

"What!" she cried. "Paddy Malone, who used to work for Mr. Ford?"

It was the turn of the lumberman to start.

"Mr. Ford!" he exclaimed. "Do you know Mr. Ford?"

"I am his daughter," said Grace simply, "and he has been looking all over for you. He has had trouble about a lumber tract and he thinks you could straighten it out for him, and prove his claim. Are you really that Paddy Malone?"

"I am," said the man humbly, "and this is a judgment on me-a judgment on me! To think that James Ford's daughter should help me. Well, well! Yes, I am that Paddy Malone," he went on in louder tones, "and I can prove your father's claim. I'm through with that Jallow crowd, now. Through with 'em! Get a doctor, girls, if you can, and I'll tell everything when I'm fixed up. I'll prove James Ford's lumber claim for him, and show those swindlers that they can't fool Paddy Malone! I'll show 'em!"

He sank back on his pillow exhausted, while Betty made haste to bring more coffee.

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