MoboReader > Literature > The Outdoor Girls in the Saddle; Or, The Girl Miner of Gold Run

   Chapter 15 ALLEN ARRIVES

The Outdoor Girls in the Saddle; Or, The Girl Miner of Gold Run By Laura Lee Hope Characters: 8683

Updated: 2017-12-04 00:02

Amy was delighted with the praise she received from the girls and the first thing she did after they returned to the ranch was to write home to her guardian for the concert program she had so luckily saved.

Naturally the girls were more curious than ever after this second trip to his little cabin in the woods and longed to find out about this strange musician who hid himself so persistently from the world.

"Of course," Grace said, during one of the many times when they talked the matter over, "we're not at all sure that the Hermit is the same man who played at our benefit."

"Of course we're not," Mollie agreed with her. "There must be a great many musicians who can play those same selections that we heard him play."

"That's all very true," said Betty argumentatively. "But if he is really this same musician that played at our benefit, then that explains the queer hunch I've had of having seen him somewhere before."

"Well," said Mollie resignedly, "I guess all we can do for the present is to wait until Amy gets her program. When we find out the name of the violinist that played for us then we can decide what to do next about the Hermit."

Reluctantly they admitted that what she said was true, and for the time being let the discussion rest there.

Then came the day when Betty received a letter from Allen announcing that he would reach Gold Run the following afternoon on the four-thirty-five train. The letter ended by begging her to meet the train herself and please not to send any one else, for no one else would do!

Betty's pretty face flushed a deeper pink and her eyes shone brighter as she read this passage-and two or three others-several times over. Then she went to find the girls and tell them the good news.

They also had received mail from the other boys and some of the folks at home, and she found them all together on the eastern porch having the time of their lives. Mollie and Amy were perched on the railing while Grace and a box of candy reposed in a hammock.

"Well, have you finished reading yours already?" Mollie greeted the Little Captain as she swung up the steps. "It was such a fat one I thought it would take you till lunch time at least to get through with it."

"Speak for yourself," retorted Betty, too happy to mind being teased. "Guess what, girls!" she added, unable to keep the news to herself for another minute, "Allen arrives via the Western Limited at four-thirty or thereabouts to-morrow afternoon."

"Hooray!" cried the girls, and momentarily forgot their own letters in very real delight. Allen Washburn was a favorite with all of them.

"Will you let us all go to meet him, Betty dear?" asked Grace, with a twinkling smile. "Or does he insist on seeing you alone?"

"Don't be silly," retorted Betty good-naturedly. "I know he would take it as a personal slight if you weren't all there to welcome him."

"Well, I don't know," Mollie commented ruefully. "Something tells me he would manage to live through it even if we weren't there. But go on, Betty," she added. "Tell us what else he has to say."

"That's pretty nearly all," said Betty truthfully. "He said he would save all the news until he saw me-us. One thing he did say," she added, dimpling: "The boys are simply wild with jealousy. They say it is all a deep dark scheme on Allen's part to get out here with us."

"Us!" repeated Grace, with a giggle. "Much he cares about the rest of us."

Be that as it may, they certainly all turned out that following afternoon to meet the Western Limited which was bearing Allen swiftly toward them.

There was the usual gathering of picturesquely garbed miners and cow-punchers on the platform, and for most of these the girls had a smile and a nod.

"Seems funny to think how strange everything looked to us when we first came," remarked Grace, as they waited for the train. "Now we feel as much at home as if we had lived here all our lives."

"The people are all so nice and friendly, too," said Amy. "It's wonderful how soon you come to know them."

"It is a nice atmosphere," Betty agreed. "At home in the East we want to know pretty much all there is to know about people we make our friends. But out here they take you for granted. Nobody seems to care where you came from or who your relatives are--"

"Huh," grunted Moll

ie. "I guess in a good many cases it wouldn't do to be too curious," she said cynically. "If you believe the stories you read and the movies you see everybody who has committed a crime anywhere from petty larceny to murder skips out West to escape just punishment."

"Then at this moment," drawled Grace, glancing around at the rather harmless looking crowd on the station platform, "we are surrounded by thieves and murderers. Though I must say they are a pretty nice looking set," she added, and the girls giggled.

"Grace could forgive a man anything, if he was only good-looking enough," remarked Amy.

"Here comes the train!" cried Betty suddenly, as the Western Limited thundered around a curve in the distance and steamed toward them. Immediately she forgot everything but that Allen was on that train and that in a moment more she would see him--

Then Allen himself, handsome as ever, eagerly scanning the faces on the platform as he jumped from the train the instant the porter opened the door.

It took him barely a moment to discover the group of girls, and he came toward them, hand outstretched, eyes alight with greeting.

"Well, if this isn't great!" he cried in his hearty voice, shaking hands with all of them but looking mostly at Betty. "Knew I could trust the Outdoor Girls to turn out for a rousing welcome. How's everything?"

"Just fine," they assured him, and then Betty took him in hand.

"We've brought a wagon along from the ranch to carry your luggage," she said, dragging him over to the wagon beside which two of the boys from the ranch were waiting bashfully. "Come over and meet a couple of our cow-punchers, and they will help you load your trunk on board."

All this accomplished, the cowboys and Allen having formed an immediate and staunch friendship, Betty introduced the latter to the horse she had brought for him to ride. The pony was a magnificent animal, dark brown in color with a curve to his graceful neck and a flash to his eye that proclaimed his thoroughbred ancestry.

"Say, you old peach of a horse," said Allen, fondly stroking the soft muzzle, "you're just about the most perfect thing of your kind I've ever seen. It seems almost a sacrilege to ride you."

"His name is Lightning," Amy volunteered. "The boys call him that because he can outrun almost any other horse on the ranch. Though," she added loyally, "I shouldn't wonder if Lady could beat him if they should give her a head start."

This characteristic speech brought a laugh, and Allen regarded the four other beautiful horses in the group.

"You girls seemed to have picked winners yourselves," he said admiringly. He studied them a moment, then his eyes narrowed quizzically as he turned to Betty.

"I'll bet you a box of candy against a pair of gloves," he said, "that I can tell which horse belongs to which. Do you take me?"

"Of course," said Betty. "Go ahead."

He guessed them nearly right, except that he gave Nigger to Mollie and Old Nick to Betty.

"Almost does not avail," sang Betty gayly. "You owe me a box of candy, Allen Washburn."

He looked at her for a moment laughing, and suddenly her gaze faltered. There had been something new and forceful about Allen ever since he had come back from the war that had made Betty a little afraid of him. But she did not think any the less of him-oh, no indeed!

"I'll give you a dozen of them if you'll take them," he was saying ardently-evidently in reference to the candies.

"And if she won't take 'em, I will," said Grace, with a gusto that made them all laugh.

On the way home the girls, with what they thought was great consideration, cantered along in front, leaving Allen and Betty to bring up the rear. Allen blessed them for it, but Betty was furious and kept up such a running fire of comment and laughing narrative that Allen had no chance to say the things he had wanted to say.

Only once as they neared the ranch she paused a moment, pointing out over the dazzling plains to the purple tipped mountains in the distance.

"Isn't the country beautiful, Allen?" she asked breathlessly. "I've fallen dead in love with it."

"It looks too good to be true," Allen agreed seriously, then added boyishly, with a glance that took her in, as well as the scenery: "Just now, I don't care if I never go home!"

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