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

   Chapter 24 THE LYNX

The Outdoor Girls in a Winter Camp / Or, Glorious Days on Skates and Ice Boats By Laura Lee Hope Characters: 12560

Updated: 2017-12-04 00:02

Over the snow to where, according to Ted Franklin, the Jallow lumbermen had last been seen cutting the valuable timber, went Mr. Ford and his little party, including the boys and girls. There was eager anticipation in their demeanor.

"What do you suppose your father will do?" asked Mollie of Grace, as they rode along in the big sled, for, out of consideration of Paddy's leg, they rode instead of walked.

"I don't know," was the answer. "But I guess daddy has his plans all made."

"I just hope that Alice Jallow sees how we come out ahead!" went on Mollie, half-vindictively.

"Mollie!" reproached Betty, gently.

"I don't care. She-she's a-cat!"

Mr. Ford, Paddy and Allen were consulting with the court officer, Will and Frank were discussing a prospective hunting trip, and the girls were planning Christmas surprises as the sled slid on.

"Here's the new line," said Paddy, as they came to a pile of stones. "And there's where it ought to be," he added, as they drove across the valuable strip in dispute. There was a difference of nearly a mile.

"That is my recollection of it," said Mr. Ford. "Owing to the death of the surveyor, and the destruction of some of his records, I was unable to prove it, though."

"Well, you can now," retorted Paddy, significantly.

Soon they heard the sound of axes and, in answer to a nod from Mr. Ford, the horses were turned in that direction.

Suddenly from behind a tree stepped the burly form of Hank Smither.

"You can't go any further!" he growled. "Turn back an' git off this land! You're trespassin'!"

"Oh, I think not," said Mr. Ford, pleasantly.

"Well, I tell you you be! Git off, 'fore I--"

"Now I advise you to go slow, my big friend," put in the constable. "I'm from the court, and I have authority in this matter that goes above even Jallow's."

"All I know is that my orders is not to let any one on here exceptin' Mr. Jallow's men," growled Hank.

"Where is Mr. Jallow?" asked Mr. Ford.

"Over there," and Hank pointed.

"Then we'll settle with him. Drive on, Ted."

"I don't see how I kin let ye!" whined Hank. He had lost much of his bluster now.

"You don't have to let us. We'll do it without, Hank!" spoke Paddy, suddenly. At the sound of his voice-for up to now Hank had not seen the lumberman-the burly guard started slightly.

"Paddy Malone!" he gasped. "You back!"

"Yes, and I guess Jallow won't be any more glad to see me than you are," was the grim comment.

There was no further hindrance to their progress. The sound of chopping grew louder, and a little later the sled turned into a clearing, about which were strewn many big, fallen trees. Mr. Ford's eyes sparkled at the sight.

"They haven't hauled out much of my timber," he said. "We are just in time!"

A man came running from a group. He held up a warning hand.

"You'll have to get out of here!" he cried.

"Who says so?" asked Mr. Ford.

"Mr. Jallow sent me to tell you."

"Well, you tell Mr. Jallow to come here himself. We want to see him."

The man hesitated a minute and then set off on the run.

"Here comes Jallow now," observed Will.

"Oh, I hope there won't be any trouble," murmured Amy.

"Don't worry," said Mr. Blackford, who sat beside her.

"Here, what do you want?" blustered Mr. Jallow, as he came up. "Oh, it's you; is it, Ford? Well, you haven't any more right here than any one else. Get off. This is my land-the courts have awarded it to me."

"Under a misapprehension-yes. Because of false boundary lines-yes, Jim Jallow!"

"Who says the boundary lines are false?"

"I do!" cried Paddy Malone, standing up in the sled, and leaning on his crutch. "I say the lines were changed, Jim Jallow, and you know it! I saw the right marks put, but they were shifted, and I'm ready to testify that you paid me to keep out of the country while you changed 'em."

"That isn't so!" stormed Jallow. "Who would believe you?" but he paled, and was obviously ill at ease.

"I guess they'll believe me when Mr. Ford and Dick Norbury testify to the same thing," said Paddy, coolly.

"Dick Norbury-why, he's-dead!" gasped Jallow.

"Not much!" cried Paddy. "He's very much alive, and I've got a letter from him in my pocket now, saying he'll come on any time he's wanted and testify as to the right boundaries."

Mr. Jallow stood with open mouth. As the saying goes, all the wind had been taken out of his sails.

"I guess you had better give up, Mr. Jallow," said the court officer. "I'm here to take charge of this land until the matter is officially settled. In the meanwhile no more trees must be cut. That is a court order, and here is a copy of it. I serve it on you, and violation of it means contempt, with heavy penalties."

"The jig is up, Jim!" cried Paddy. "I told you I'd get even with you!"

Mr. Jallow said not another word. He was beaten at every point, and he knew it. His men crowded up around him.

"Shall we go on cutting?" asked the foreman.

Mr. Jallow hesitated a moment.

"No," he said, in a low voice. "Better stop-I guess."

"I may want you men to work for me," put in Mr. Ford. "I intend to go on cutting this tract, as soon as the court formalities are over. If you like you may remain in camp until it is time to go to work again. I'll hire you."

A cheer greeted this announcement. The men had looked rather blank at losing their work in the middle of winter.

"Well, it's all over," said Grace, as the sled turned homeward. "And it wasn't so terrible; was it, Amy?"

"No, indeed. Oh, I'm so glad your father has won, dear."

"I guess we all are," spoke Betty. "Now we can enjoy the rest of our stay in camp without having to worry, and we can go where we please. Can you stay, Mr. Blackford?"

"Yes, for a few days more."

The court formalities did not take long, and soon the title of Mr. Ford to the disputed land was confirmed. The change in boundary lines was shown, and, had he so desired, Mr. Ford could have proceeded against Mr. Jallow. But he preferred not to, since he had not really lost any of the valuable timber.

"Besides, there is no use making Alice feel any worse than she does," said Grace. The Jallow camp had been broken up, since it was on Mr. Ford's land, and Alice, her mother

and guests had gone back to Deepdale. Our friends held undisputed sway in the woods.

Christmas was approaching. There was but about a week more in the woods, when, one fine warm day-that is, warm for that time of year-the party of young people set off for a tramp in the forest.

By twos and threes they strolled on, until finally Amy and Mr. Blackford found themselves in rather a lonely part of the woods, separated from the others.

"I guess we had better be getting back," he observed with a smile. "They may be anxious about us."

"Yes," agreed Amy. "But it is so wonderful here-in the winter woods. I feel I could stay-forever!"

They walked along a narrow path. There was a movement in the trees over their heads.

"What is that?" asked Amy, suddenly.

"A bird, I guess. Did you think it was a bear?"

Amy did not answer at once. Then she screamed as the grayish body of some animal with curiously tufted ears, sprang from an overhanging branch straight at her.

Mr. Blackford, who was carrying a heavy cudgel, turned quickly at the sound of Amy's voice, and pulled her to one side. He was not altogether successful, for the keen claws of the lynx grazed Amy's shoulder, tearing through her coat and dress, ripping off the sleeves and leaving her arm exposed to the shoulder, a slight scratch, through even the thicknesses of cloth, bringing blood.

With a snarl the beast turned as though to repeat the attack, but Mr. Blackford brought down the cudgel on its head with such force that the brute turned with a shrill cry of pain and fled.

Then the young man, who had caught the almost fainting girl in his other arm, turned his attention to her.

"Amy-Amy!" he cried. "Are you hurt? Speak and tell me!"

Slowly she opened her eyes. The blood came back into her cheeks, that paled again at the sight of the crimson mark on her arm.

"It is only a scratch-not deep," said Mr. Blackford, reassuringly. "The brute leaped to one side. It must have been desperate to spring on you that way."

"What was it?" asked Amy, weakly.

"A lynx-a fierce sort of beast. Wait, I will bind up your arm," and he drew out his handkerchief.

As he was winding the linen about the cut he started. A queer look came over his face. He stared at a mark-a strange red mark-on her shoulder.

"That-that!" stammered Mr. Blackford. "How did you come by that mark, Amy?"

He stood holding her arm-her arm whence the sleeves had been ripped, and the young man was gazing with fascinated eyes at a peculiar star-shaped mark in deep red imprinted on the white flesh. In red it matched the ruddy hue of the blood drawn by the lynx.

"Tell me," he said, hoarsely, "how did that mark come there?"

"It is a birth mark," said Amy, slowly. "It has always been there. But why-why do you question me so? Why do you look at me so strangely?"

"Because, Amy, there may be something providential in this. Because you-you may be my-sister!"

"Your sister!" She started as though to pull away from him, but he held her arm, continuing to gaze at the red mark.

"Yes," he answered. "Wait. I must make sure this time. I have a drawing of it. Let me compare it, please. You are not cold?"

"No." Amy was pale, but her heart was pumping blood through her veins at such a rapid rate that it seemed as if she would never be cold again. The flow of blood from the scratches made by the beast had somewhat lessened.

From his pocket Mr. Blackford drew a paper. Amy could see that it contained a drawing-an outline in red ink. The young man compared this with the mark on her shoulder-a mark at which she had often wondered herself.

"It is the same-the very same," he murmured. "The same shape, the same size, and in the same place. There can be no doubt of it, I think. Amy, you must be-my sister!"

"But-but," she stammered, "you said your sister had a 'V' shaped mark on her arm, just above the elbow. Now you--"

"I know I said that, but it was a mistake. Or, rather, that was not the real identifying mark. The people on whom I relied did not send me all the information they had.

"My missing sister did have a mark on her arm-a mark shaped like a 'V,' but it is not a birth mark. It was caused by the sharp point of a hot flatiron when she was a child. But the main identifying mark is this red one on the shoulder. You have it! Everything tallies with the new information I have."

"But you never said anything to us about this," spoke Amy, wonderingly.

"I know it. I thought I had inflicted enough of my family troubles on you girls. I kept quiet about this. I determined to say nothing. But now, when I saw this mark on you, I was sure. There can be no mistake. Oh, Amy!" and his eyes filled with tears of joy.

"I-I hope there is no mistake," she faltered. "I-perhaps it will be well to say nothing to the others about it-just yet."

"Perhaps. I will have further inquiries made, and then I will let you know. Poor Amy! Does it pain you very much?" and he touched her arm gently.

"No, hardly any, now."

"I will bind it up, and we will go back. Oh, Amy, I hope-I pray that it may turn out you are my sister. I-I want you so much."

"And I hope so, too," she said.

The scratched arm was bandaged, and the torn sleeves adjusted as well as could be. Then the two, upon whom Fate had payed such a strange trick, walked back.

"I had some hopes, when you first mentioned a birth mark," said Amy, "that mine might prove to be the one you were looking for, but when you spoke of one near the elbow I knew it could not be. This scar, which does somewhat resemble a 'V,' was not a birth mark, though."

"No, and that threw us all off. But I did not then know of the mistake having been made. I only learned differently the other day, but I kept silent about it. There had been disappointments enough. But when I saw that mark on your shoulder, it came to me in a rush. Amy, you must be my sister!"

"I-I hope I am!"

"But we will wait and make sure."

To this she agreed. Of course they showed their excitement when they joined the others-a double excitement-but the story of the lynx was excuse enough for that, and no embarrassing questions were asked. Amy was hurried back to the cabin to have her arm dressed properly.

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