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Billie Bradley on Lighthouse Island; Or, The Mystery of the Wreck By Janet D. Wheeler Characters: 9169

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02

Splash! went a big drop just on the exact tip of Laura Jordon's pretty, rather upturned nose. She put her hand to the drop to be sure she had not been mistaken, then turned in dismay to her companions.

"Girls," she cried, "it's raining!"

If she had said the world was coming to an end her companions could not have looked more startled. Then Billie Bradley cocked an eye at what she could see of the sky through the trees and held out one hand experimentally.

"You're crazy," she announced, turning an accusing eye upon Laura. "It's no more raining than you are. And, anyway, haven't we troubles enough without your going and making up a new one?"

"M-making up!" Laura stuttered in her indignation. "If you don't believe me, just look at my nose."

"I don't see what your nose has to do with it," Billie began scornfully, but the third of the trio, Violet Farrington, by name, interrupted.

"Laura's right," she cried. "I just felt a great big drop myself. Now, what ever are we going to do?" Vi dropped down in a pathetic little heap on a convenient rock, looking up at her chums wistfully.

Violet Farrington was always a little wistful when in trouble, like a small girl who can never understand why she is being punished. But just now this wistfulness irritated Billie Bradley, who was very much given to quick action herself, and she turned upon Vi rather snappily.

"Well, you needn't just sit there like a ninny," she cried. "Get up and help us think what we can do to get out of this mess."

"Mess is right," said Laura Jordon gloomily.

And it must be admitted that the girls were in rather a trying situation. Their botany teacher at Three Towers Hall, where they were students, had sent them into the woods to gather some rare ferns which they were to use in the botany class the next day.

That was all very well; for if there was anything the girls loved it was a trip into the woods. They had started off in hilarious spirits; and then-the impossible thing had happened.

They had gathered the ferns, turned to go back to Three Towers, and found, to their absolute dismay, that they did not know which way to go. There was no getting over the fact. They were absolutely and completely lost!

For almost an hour now they had been wandering around and around, getting deeper into the woods every minute, until they had finally begun to feel really frightened. Suppose they couldn't find Three Towers before dusk? Suppose they should be forced to stay in the woods all night? These and a hundred other thoughts had chased themselves through their heads, but they had said nothing of their fears to each other. The girls were thoroughly "game."

But now had come this new complication. It had begun to rain. Hopelessly lost in the woods and a storm coming on! It was a situation to try the patience of a saint. And the girls were not saints. They were just happy, fun-loving, lovable specimens of young American girlhood who could upon occasion show rather alarming flashes of temper.

"I'm not a ninny," Vi protested hotly; but Billie was already started on a different train of thought. She caught Vi's wrist in hers and her eyes were big and round as she looked from her to Laura.

"Suppose," she said in a whisper, "we should meet the Codfish!"

Vi shivered nervously, but it was Laura's turn to be cross.

"Don't be silly," she said. "Don't you know that the Codfish is safe in jail, and has been there for a long time? Now who's making up something to worry about, I'd like to know."

"But thieves do break out of jail," Billie insisted. "And the Codfish is just the kind who would do it."

"Goodness, Billie, what an idea!" said Vi breathlessly. "I never even thought about his escaping. And I suppose," she added, beginning to feel deliciously goose-fleshy, "that we'd be the very first ones he'd go for. Revenge, you know-that's what they are always after in the stories."

"I hate to interrupt you," Laura broke in as sarcastically as she could. "But if you two want to stand there all day talking about the Codfish and revenge, you can, but I'm going to find some way out of this place. Goodness, I felt another drop. And there's another!"

"Well, you needn't count them," Billie remarked briskly, bringing an hysterical giggle from Vi. "Come on, there must be a path of some kind around here."

"I suppose there is, but if we can't find it, it won't do us much good," said Laura, looking about her helplessly.

"Well, we certainly won't find it by standing still," snapped Billie. "Come on. I feel it in my bon

es that Three Towers is somewhere off in this direction." And she led the way into the woods, the girls following dispiritedly.

And while the three chums are searching for the path, the opportunity will be taken to recount to new readers some of the adventures and queer experiences the girls had had up to the present time.

In the first book of this series, entitled, "Billie Bradley and Her Inheritance," Billie had been left an old homestead at Cherry Corners in the upper part of New York State. The strange legacy had come to Billie from an eccentric aunt, Beatrice Powerson, for whom Billie had been named. For Billie's real name was not Billie at all, but Beatrice.

It will be remembered that the girls had decided to spend their vacation there, and that the boys, Billie's brother Chetwood, Laura's brother Teddy, and another boy, Ferd Stowing, had joined them there and that queer and exciting adventures had followed.

The most wonderful thing of all had been the finding of the shabby old trunk in the attic whose contents of rare old coins and postage stamps had brought Billie in nearly five thousand dollars in cash. The money had enabled Billie to replace a statue which she had accidentally broken a little while before and had also given her the chance to go to Three Towers Hall, a good boarding school, and Chet the opportunity to go to the Boxton Military Academy, which was only a little over a mile from Three Towers Hall.

The good times the girls had at school-and some bad times, too-have been told of in the second book of the series, called, "Billie Bradley at Three Towers Hall."

In North Bend, where the girls had always lived, there lived also two other girls, Amanda Peabody and Eliza Dilks. These girls were sneaks and tattletales of the worst order and were thoroughly disliked by all the girls and boys with whom they had come in contact.

When the chums had heard that Amanda was to accompany them to Three Towers they were absolutely dismayed, for they expected that she would spoil all the fun. Amanda had done her best to live up to the expectations of the girls, but try as she would, she had not been able to spoil entirely the fun. And this very failure had, of course, made her and her chum, Eliza Dilks, furious.

Both Three Towers Hall and Boxton Military Academy had been built on the banks of the beautiful Lake Molata, and the girls and boys had spent many happy hours rowing upon the lake in the fall and skating upon it in the winter.

But the most amazing thing that had happened to them at Three Towers had been the capture of the man the girls called "The Codfish." This rascal had attempted to steal Billie's precious trunk in the beginning, but Billie and the boys had given chase in an automobile and had succeeded in recovering the trunk. They had also succeeded in getting a good look at the man, whose hair was red, eyes little and close together, mouth wide and loose-lipped. It was this last feature that had given the thief his name with the boys and girls. For the mouth certainly resembled that of a codfish.

Later the "Codfish" had turned up again near Three Towers Hall, had robbed one of the teachers of her purse when she was returning from town, and had later succeeded in making off with a great many valuables from Boxton Military Academy.

The girls never forgot how, with the aid of the boys, they had captured the Codfish and turned him over to the police. Though, as Laura said, the thief had been in jail for some time, the chums had never stopped thinking and wondering about him. But never before had the possibility of his escaping been thought of.

But now, as they made their way through the forest that was growing darker and darker, they could not shake off the thought of him.

They glanced often and uneasily into the shadowy woodland and drew closer together as if for protection. The rain was beginning to come a little faster now, and their clothes felt damp. Even Billie's courage was beginning to fail.

Suddenly Laura stopped stock still and looked at them impatiently.

"There's not a bit of use our going on like this," she said. "For all we know we may be getting farther away from the path every minute."

"And my feet hurt," added Vi pathetically.

Suddenly Billie called to them. She had gone on a little ahead and, peering through the dusk, had seen the outline of something dark, a black smudge against the gray of the woods.

"Girls, come here quick!" she cried, and half-fearing, half-hoping, they knew not what, the others ran to her.

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