HotFreeBooks.com
The Camp Fire Girls on the March - Bessie King's Test of Friendship
by Jane L. Stewart
Previous Part     1  2  3
Home - Random Browse

"Music always sounds best over the water," said Eleanor. "He does play well. I've been to concerts, and heard famous violin players who didn't play a bit better—or as well, some of them."

And just at that moment the music came to them again, wailing, mournful, as if the strings of the violin were sobbing under the touch of the bow, held in the fingers of a real master. The music blended with the night, and the listening girls seemed to lose all desire to talk, so completely did they fall under the spell of the player.

But after a little while a harsh voice on the deck of the yacht interrupted the musician. They could not distinguish the words, but the speaker was evidently annoyed by the music, for it stopped, and then, for a few minutes, there was an argument in which the voices of two men rose shrilly.

"Well, I guess the concert is over," said Dolly, getting up. "Who wants a drink? I'm thirsty."

"So am I!" came in chorus from half a dozen of those who were sitting on the sands.

"Serve you right if you all had to go after your own water," said Dolly. "But I'm feeling nice to-night. I guess it's the music. Come on, Bessie—feel like taking a little walk with me?"

"I don't mind," said Bessie, rising, and stretching her arms luxuriously. "Where are you going?"

"Up the bluff first, to get a pail of water from that spring. After that—well, we'll see."

"Just like Jack and Jill," said Bessie, as they trudged up the path, carrying a pail between them.

"I hope we won't be like them and fall down," said Dolly. "I suppose I'd be Jack—and I don't want to break my crown."

"It's an easy path. I guess we're safe enough," said Bessie. "It really hardly seems worth while to fix up that pipe-line Miss Eleanor spoke about."

"Oh, you'll find it's worth while, Bessie. The salt air makes everyone terribly thirsty, and after you've climbed this path a few times it won't seem so easy to be running up and down all the time. There are so many other things to do here that it's a pity to waste time doing the same thing over and over again when you don't really need to."

"I suppose that's so, too. It's always foolish to do work that you don't need to do—I mean that can be done in some easier way. If your time's worth anything at all, you can find some better use for it."

"That's what I say! It would be foolish and wasteful to set a hundred men to digging when one steam shovel will do the work better and quicker than they can. And it's the same way with this water here. If we can put up a pipe in about an hour that will save two or three hours of chasing every day, whenever water is needed, it must be sensible to do it."

They got the water down without any mishap, however, and it was eagerly welcomed.

"It's good water," said Margery. "But not as good as the water at Long Lake and in the mountains."

"That's the best water in the world, Margery," said Eleanor. "This is cold, though, and it's perfectly healthy. And, after all, that is as much as we can expect. Are you and Bessie going for a walk, Dolly?"

"We thought we would, if you don't mind."

"I don't mind, of course. But don't go very far. Stay near enough so that you can hear if we call, or for us to hear you if you should happen to call to us."

Dolly looked startled.

"Why, should we want to call you?" she asked.

"No reason that I can think of now, Dolly. But—well, I suppose I'm nervous. The way they tried to get hold of Bessie and Zara at Canton to-day makes me feel that we've got to be very careful. And there is no use taking unnecessary chances."

"All right," said Dolly, with a laugh. "But I guess we're safe enough to-night, anyhow. They haven't had time to find out yet how Bessie fooled them. My, but they'll be mad when they do find out what happened!"

"They certainly will," laughed Margery. "I wouldn't want to be in Jake Hoover's shoes."

"I hope nothing will happen to him," said Eleanor, anxiously. "It would be a great pity for him to get into trouble now."

"I think he deserves to get into some sort of trouble," said Dolly, stoutly. "He's made enough for other people."

"That's true enough, Dolly. But it wouldn't do us any good if he got into trouble now, you know."

"No, but it might do him some good—the brute! You haven't seen him when he was cutting up, the way I have, Miss Eleanor."

"No, and I'm glad I didn't. But you say it might do him some good. That's just what I think it would not do. He has just made up his mind to be better, and suppose he sees that, as a reward, he gets himself into trouble. What is he likely to do, do you think?"

"That's so," said Margery. "You're going off without thinking again, Dolly, as usual. He'd cut loose altogether, and think there wasn't any sort of use in being decent."

"Well, I haven't much faith in his having reformed," said Dolly. "It may be that he has, but it seems too good to be true to me. I bet you'll find that he'll be on their side, after all, and that he'll just spend his time thinking up some excuse for having put them on the wrong track to-day."

"I think that's likely to keep him pretty busy, Dolly," said Eleanor, dryly. "And that's one reason I really am inclined to believe that he'll change sides, and go to Charlie Jamieson, as Bessie advised him to do."

"Well, if he does, it won't be because he's sorry, but because he's afraid," said Dolly. "If he can be of any use to us, why, I hope he's all right. I don't like him, and I never will like him, and there isn't any use in pretending about it!"

Everyone laughed at that.

"You're quite right, Dolly," said Margery. "When you dislike a person anyone who can see you or hear you knows about it. I'll say that for you—you don't pretend to be friends with people when you really hate them."

"Why should I? Come on, Bessie, if we're going for a walk. If we stay here much longer Margery'll get so dry from talking that we'll have to go and get her some more water."

"Let's go up the path and get on the bluff again," said Bessie. "I like it up there, because you seem to be able to see further out to sea than you can here."

"All right. I don't care where we go, anyhow, and it is more interesting up there than on the beach, I think."

The night was a beautiful one, and walking was really delightful. Below them the beach stretched, white and smooth, as far as the cove itself. At each end of the cove the bluff on which they were walking curved and turned toward the sea, stretching out to form two points of land that enclosed the cove.

"They say this would be a perfect harbor if there was a bigger channel dredged in," said Dolly. "Of course it's very small, but I guess it was used in the old days. There are all sorts of stories about buried treasure being hidden around here."

"Do you believe those stories, Dolly?"

"Not I! If there was any treasure around here it would have been found ever so long ago. They're just stories. I guess those pirates spent most of the money they stole, and I guess they didn't get half as much as people like to pretend, anyhow."

"It would be fun to find something like that, though, Dolly."

"Well, Bessie King, you're the last person I would ever have expected even to think of anything so silly! You'd better get any nonsense of that sort out of your head right away. There's nothing in those old stories."

"I suppose not," said Bessie, and sighed. "But in a place like this it doesn't seem half so hard to believe that it's possible, somehow. It looks like just the sort of place for romance and adventure. But—oh, well, I guess I'm just moonstruck. Dolly, look at that!"

Her eyes had wandered suddenly toward the yacht, and now, from their higher elevation, they were able to see a small boat drawing away from her, on the seaward side, and so out of sight of the girls on the beach.

"That's funny," said Dolly, puzzled. "I should think that if they were going to send a boat ashore she'd come straight in."

"Let's watch and see what happens, Dolly."

"You bet we will! I wouldn't go now until I knew what they were up to for anything!"

"It's going straight out to sea, Dolly, and it's keeping so that the yacht is between it and the shore. It does look as if they didn't want to be seen, doesn't it!"

"It certainly does! Look, there it goes through the little gap in the bar! See? Now it will be hidden from the people on shore—and it's going toward West Point, too. See, I'll bet they're going to make a landing there!"

They hurried along the bluff, and in a few minutes they saw the boat graze the beach at the end of West Point. Three men jumped out and hauled the little craft up on the shore, and then they began to move inland, toward Bessie and Dolly.

"We'd better work back toward the camp," said Dolly, excitedly. "It wouldn't do to have them see us—not until we know more about them."

"I wonder if they'll come back this way, toward the camp? And why do you suppose they're acting that way? It seems very funny to me."

"It does to me, too. I'm beginning to think Miss Eleanor had a good reason for being nervous, Bessie. I don't believe that yacht is here for any good purpose."

"It's a good thing we came up this way, isn't it?"

"It certainly is, if we can manage to find out something about them. I say, do you remember where the spring is? Well, right by it there's a mound, with a whole lot of bushes. I believe we could hide there, and be waiting as they come along."

"Let's try it, anyhow. Maybe there's something we ought to know."

They found it easy to hide themselves, and when, a few minutes later, the three men came along, they were secure from observation.

"Do you think it's Mr. Holmes?" whispered Bessie, voicing the thought both of them had had.

"It's just as likely as not! It's the sneaky way he would act," said Dolly, viciously. "They're pretty careful about the way they walk—see?"

But then the men came into the range of their eyes, and the sigh of disappointment that rose from them was explained by Dolly's disgusted, "It's not Mr. Holmes, or anyone else I ever saw before."

The men came nearer, and seemed to be looking down at the camp.

"They're the ones! That's the outfit, all right," said one of them. "Well, it's easy to keep an eye on them."



CHAPTER XIV

A NIGHT ALARM

Bessie and Dolly looked at one another. Holmes wasn't there, but who but Holmes or someone working for him could have any such sinister interest in keeping an eye on the camp as was implied by that sly remark? Evidently luck had favored them once more, and they had stumbled again on early evidence of another coming attack.

But they took little time—could take little time, indeed—to think of the meaning of what they had heard. It was too important for them to find out as much as possible from these men. They dared not speak to one another; the men were so close that they were almost afraid that the sound of their own breathing would betray them.

And, dark as it was, they could see that these were men of a type who would stop at little if they felt they were in danger of failure. They were big, burly, ugly-looking men, rough in speech and manner, and, though they masked their movements, and went about their business, whatever it might be, as quietly as possible, their quietness was furtive and assumed and by no means natural to them.

"They won't run away to-night, Jeff," grumbled one of the men. "You ain't a-goin' to stay here and watch them, are you?"

"No, I'm not—but you are," growled the one addressed as Jeff. "See here, my buck, the boss don't want any slip-up on this job—see? He's been stung once too often. I'm goin' back to the boat, but you and Tim will stay here till daylight—right here, mind you!"

"Aw, shucks, that's a fine job to give us!" growled Tim. "Larry's got the right dope, Jeff. They won't run away to-night."

"Listen here—who's giving orders here? What I say goes—do you get that? If you don't, I'll find a way to make you, and pretty quick, too. I don't want none of your lip, Tim."

"What's the game, Jeff?" asked the man Larry, in milder tones. "We'll do as you say, all right, all right, but can't you tell a guy what's doin'?"

"I don't know myself, boys, and that's a fact," said Jeff, seemingly mollified by this submission to his orders. "But the boss wants them two gals—and what he wants he gits, sooner or later."

"Guess he does!" laughed Tim. "You said something that time, Jeff!"

"There's money in it, I know that," Jeff went on. "Big money—though I'm blowed if I see where! But we'll get our share if we do our part."

"I can use any that comes my way, all right," said Larry, with a smothered laugh. "Always broke—that's what I am!"

"How about the morning, Jeff?" asked Tim. "We can't stay here when it gets to be light. They'd spot us in a minute."

"Won't be any need then, Tim. We can keep an eye on them from the yacht. And the boss is apt to turn up here himself most any time."

"Why not pull it off to-night, Jeff?" asked Larry. "It's a good chance, I'd say."

"Ain't got my orders yet, Larry. As soon as the boss turns up there'll be plenty doing. Keep an eye out for a red light from the deck. That'll be a sign to watch out for anything that comes along. We may show it—we may not. But if we do, be lively."

"All right," growled Tim. "But let's quit this nursemaid job as soon as we can, Jeff. We're good pals of yours—and this ain't no game for a grown man, you know that."

"'Twon't be so bad," said Jeff, comfortingly. "Nights ain't so long—and you can take turns sleeping. It's all right as long as one of you stays awake."

"So long, Jeff," said both the men who were to stay behind, then, in unison.

"Good-night," answered Jeff. "I'll have a boat at the point for you at daylight. Good luck!"

And he went off, quietly, walking easily, so that the noise of his footsteps would not reach those on the beach below.

From the beach the voices of the girls rose faintly. Words could not be distinguished, but Bessie and Dolly could both guess that their prolonged absence must be beginning to give Miss Eleanor and the others some uneasiness.

They were trapped, however, although they were in no real danger. The men who had been left on guard were between them and the path; they could not possibly pass them without arousing them, and they did not care to take the chance of making a wild dash for freedom unless it became absolutely necessary.

Bessie weighed the chances. It seemed likely to her that she and Dolly, taking the two men by surprise, could slip by them and reach the beach safely. But if they did that, the men would know that their plans were known, and that their talk had been overheard, and that would be to throw away half of the advantage they had gained. It would be better a thousand times, Bessie felt, to wait, and take the faint chance that both men might go to sleep together, and so give them the chance to escape unseen.

For some minutes the silence was unbroken save for the faint murmur of the voices from the beach. Then Larry spoke to his companion.

"Say, Tim, don't think much of this game, do you?" he said.

"Sure don't!" grunted Tim. "Just like Jeff, though. Takes the easy lay himself and don't care what he puts up to us."

"Got any money?"

"About five dollars. Why? Want to borrow it? Just as soon you had it as me! Can't spend it here, anyhow."

"No. Wouldn't do me any good. Got lots of my own out on the yacht."

"Wish there was a place near here where I could get a drink. Seems like I was choking to death."

"Lots of water right by you," said Larry, with a hoarse laugh. "Help yourself—it's free!"

"Water—pah!" snorted Tim. "That's not what I want, and you know it, Larry."

"Say, come to think of it, there's an elegant little roadhouse a ways back in the country here, Tim. About half an hour there and back, I judge."

Tim grunted uneasily.

"Think it's safe?" he queried. "If Jeff got on to us——"

"Shucks! What could he do? We ain't his hired hands."

"The boss, though—suppose Jeff told him?"

"He wouldn't, and how's he goin' to find out, anyhow? Nothin's goin' to happen to-night, you can bet on that. Come on, be a sport, Tim! We've got as much on Jeff as he's got on us, if it comes down to that, ain't we?"

"I dunno. I'm kind of leery, when he told us to stick, Larry."

"I thought you had more nerve, Tim. Didn't ever think you'd stand for no game like this. But, if you're afraid—"

"Come on!" said Tim, angrily. "I'll show you if I'm afraid! I guess it's safe enough."

"That's more like my old pal Tim. I knew you had nerve enough. Let's be movin'. The sooner we go, the sooner we'll be back. And we'll show who's afraid—eh, old sport?"

"That's the stuff, Larry! Guess there ain't no one big enough to tell us what to do."

And, with linked arms, they moved off. Bessie and Dolly, hardly able to believe in the good luck that left the way to the beach clear, held their breath for a moment. Then Bessie, seeing that Dolly was about to rise, whispered to her.

"Not yet, Dolly," she said, tensely. "Wait till we're sure they can't see us. No use taking chances now."

"All right, Bessie, but what luck! I was afraid we'd have to stay here until daylight, and I was wondering what Miss Eleanor and the girls would think!"

"So was I. I'm afraid they're worried about us already. But it wasn't our fault, and it really is a good thing we heard them, isn't it? The 'boss' they're talking about must be Mr. Holmes, don't you think!"

"I don't see who else it could possibly be. Come on, Bessie. I think it's time now, they're out of sight."

Slowly and carefully, to take into account the off chance that Jeff, the other man, might have come back to see if his sentinels were faithful, they slipped across the path and made their way down. And at the bottom, as they reached the beach, Eleanor Mercer spied them, with a glad cry.

"Oh, whatever kept you so long?" she exclaimed. "How glad I am to see you back safely! We couldn't imagine what on earth was keeping you."

"You shouldn't have stayed so long," said Margery Burton. "We were just going to start out to look for you."

"You wouldn't have had very far to go. We've been right at the top of the path for three-quarters of an hour," said Dolly, excitedly.

"It wasn't our fault, really! We couldn't get here any sooner," said Bessie. "You see—"

And, quietly, being less excited and hysterical than Dolly, she explained what they had discovered, and the trap in which they had allowed themselves to be caught.

"We thought it was better to wait there than to let them know we had heard them," she ended. "You see, they think now that we haven't any suspicions at all, and that we'll be off our guard. Don't you suppose Mr. Holmes must be coming on board that yacht, Miss Eleanor?"

"I certainly do," said Eleanor, her lips firmly set, and an angry gleam in her eyes. "You did exactly the right thing. It was better for us to be worried for a few minutes than to take any chance of spoiling all you'd found out."

"What do you suppose they'll try to do now?" wondered Margery. "Oh, I'd like to find some way to beat them, so that they'd have to stop this altogether."

"They'll go too far, some time," said Eleanor, indignantly. "Mr. Holmes seems to forget there is such a thing as the law, but if he doesn't look out he'll find that all his money won't save him from it. And I think the time is coming very soon. My father has some money, too, and I'm pretty sure he'll spend as much as he needs to to beat these criminals."

"Can't we go away from here to-night, Miss Eleanor?" asked Dolly. "They said we'd never do that, and it might fool them."

Everyone looked at Dolly in astonishment. It was a strange proposition to come from her, since she usually was the one who wanted to fight if there seemed to be any possibility of success. Now, however, she looked nervous.

"I don't see how we can, Dolly," said Eleanor. "And, really, I don't believe there's any danger here. Mr. Holmes isn't on the yacht, and these men won't do anything until he is there to direct them. I shall telegraph to Mr. Jamieson in the morning, and he will probably come here. He can reach here by noon, and I think we will be all right here until then."

Dolly said nothing more to her, but when she was alone with Bessie she expressed herself more freely.

"I'm afraid of those men," she said, with a shiver. "I think they're far more dangerous than the gypsies were. Didn't you think, from the way they talked, that they would do anything if they thought they would get well paid for it?"

"Yes, but we're warned, Dolly. It isn't as if we didn't have any idea, as they believe, that there is danger here. So I don't think we need to be afraid."

On the beach, between the sea and the tents, the blaze of the camp fire flickered in the darkness, casting an uneven light on the beach. On the yacht all was still and peaceful. One by one her lights had gone out, until only the anchor lights, which she was required by law to show, remained.

"They've gone to sleep on board the yacht," whispered Bessie. "That looks as if they didn't mean to do anything to-night, doesn't it, Dolly?"

"I suppose so, Bessie. But I'm not satisfied."

Neither, wholly, in spite of her reassuring words, was Eleanor. Had there been any way of moving from the camp that night, she would probably have taken it. But there seemed to be nothing for it but to wait there until morning, at least.

"We'll stay here," she said, as good-nights were being exchanged, "but we'll set a guard for the night. Margery, I wish you and Mary King would take the first watch. You'll be relieved at one o'clock. You're not too tired, are you?"

"No, indeed," said both girls.

"I think I ought to take the watch. This is partly on my account," said Bessie.

"Sleep first, and perhaps you can take the second spell, with Dolly," said Eleanor. "You've had a harder day than the rest of us, and you must be tired now."

Bessie and Dolly were, indeed, very tired. The fact that the camp was not to be left unguarded while they slept seemed to reassure Dolly, and she and Bessie were soon sound asleep. Only the noise of the light surf disturbed the intense stillness, and that had a soothing, musical quality that made it far from a disturbance to those who slept.

But that peace was to be rudely shattered before the first watch was over. It was just after midnight when a wild tumult aroused the camp, and Bessie and Dolly, springing to their feet, saw that the beach was as light as day—and that the light did not come from the camp fire. Confused and sleepy as they were, they saw the cause in a moment—the big living tent, in which meals were to be eaten in case of rainy weather, was all ablaze, and the wind that had sprung up during the night was blowing the sparks to the other tents, which caught fire as the girls, frightened and almost panic stricken, rushed out.

For a moment there was no concerted effort, but then Eleanor took command of the situation, and in a moment a line had been formed, and pails full of water from the sea were being handed from one girl to another.

The yacht had sprung into life at the first sign of the fire, and now, as the girls worked, they heard the sound of oars, as boats were hurriedly pushed ashore. In a minute a dozen men had joined them in their fight against the fire, and, thanks to this unexpected aid, one or two of the tents, which had been furthest from the one in which the blaze had started, were saved.

The men from the yacht worked heroically, but their presence and their shouts created a new confusion. And in the midst of it Bessie, a pail of water in her hand, saw a man seize Zara and carry her, struggling, toward a boat. She was just about to cry out when a hand covered her mouth, and the next instant she was lifted in strong arms, carried to the boat, and pushed in.

Then two men sprang aboard, and one held the girls, while the other pulled quickly toward the yacht. They were prisoners!



CHAPTER XV

DOLLY RANSOM MAKES GOOD

"Keep still, and you won't be hurt!" commanded the man who held them. Bessie had no choice in the matter for his hand covered her mouth, and, even had she wished to do so, she could not have cried out.

In a moment, too, looking toward Zara, she saw that she had fainted, and her own predicament was made worse than ever, since the ruffian who held her could now devote all his attention to her. So, utterly helpless, and almost ready to despair, Bessie had to submit to being carried up the little companion ladder that ran to the yacht's deck.

As soon as she was on deck a handkerchief was slipped over her eyes, and, though she could hear the low murmur of voices, and was almost sure that one was that of Mr. Holmes, her arch enemy, she could not be positive. Her one hope now was that Dolly or some one of the others on the beach would have seen her abduction. But, even if they had, what could they do?

"Suppose they did see," poor Bessie thought to herself; "they couldn't do anything. It would take a lot of strong men to come on board this yacht and get us off, and the girls wouldn't be able to do anything at all."

She was not left long on the yacht's deck. Almost at once she was carried below, and in a few minutes she found herself in a cabin, where the handkerchief was taken from her eyes. The cabin was a pretty one, but Bessie was in no mood to appreciate that. She hated the sight of its luxury; all she wanted was to be back with the girls on the beach, no matter how great the discomfort after the fire might be.

Zara, who had not yet revived, was brought down after her and laid on a sofa. Then she and Bessie were left alone with the big man who had carried Bessie from the beach. She thought that he was Jeff, the man who had left the two faithless sentinels to watch the path from the cliff. And she noticed, to her surprise, that, though his speech and manners were rough, there was a look about him that was not unkindly.

"Now, see here, sis," he said, gently enough, "we don't aim to treat you badly here. You've run away from home, and that's not right. We're going to see that you get back to them as has the best right to look after you, but we don't want you to be uncomfortable."

"How can I help it?" asked Bessie, indignantly.

"Just you behave yourself and keep quiet, and you'll be all right," said Jeff. Bessie was sure of his identity now. "You'll have this pretty room here to yourselves, and you'll have lots to eat. It'll be better food than you got with that pack of chattering girls, too. We'll up anchor and be off pretty soon, and then you can come up on deck and have a good time. But as long as we're here, why, you'll have to stay below."

Bessie got her first gleam of hope from that speech. If they stayed in Green Cove a little while, there was always the chance that something might happen.

"You see, sis," said Jeff, with a grin, "after a while your folks there will find you're missing, and, like enough, they'll suspicion that we done it; took you off, I mean. 'Twouldn't make no great difference if they did know it," Jeff went on. "But the boss thinks it's just as well if we throw them off a bit—guess he wants to have some fun with them."

"Who is your 'boss'?" asked Bessie, quickly. "I should think you would be ashamed of yourself, treating girls who can't fight back this way! Do you call yourself a man?"

"Easy there, sis!" said Jeff, with a roar of laughter. "You can't make me mad. Orders is orders, you know, and you did wrong when you run away like you did. And I ain't tellin' you who the boss is. What you don't know won't hurt you—and that goes for your friends, too."

He left them alone then, and a faint hope was left behind him. Now that she had the chance, Bessie turned her attention to Zara. There was water in the cabin, and in a few minutes she had revived her chum, and was able to tell her what had happened. Poor Zara seemed to be completely overcome.

"Oh, Bessie, we haven't got a chance this time!" she said. "I'll have to go back and work for Farmer Weeks, and you—will they make you go back to Maw Hoover?"

"Never say die, Zara! As long as the yacht stays in the cove there is a chance that we'll be rescued. That man didn't know it, but he'll never be able to make Miss Eleanor believe we're not on this yacht. Listen—what's that?"

There was a sound of hasty footsteps outside, and Jeff came in hurriedly. He slipped back a panel at one side of the cabin, and revealed a little closet.

"In there with you—both of you!" he said. "And I'm sorry, but you'll have to be quiet, and there's only one way."

In a trice their hands and feet were bound, and handkerchiefs were stuffed into their mouths. Then they were pushed into the closet and the panel was slipped back into place. They were helpless. Unable to speak, or to beat hands or feet against the thin wood, there was no way in which they could make their presence known. And in a moment they knew the reason for this precaution. For, through the wood of the panel, wafer thin, they heard Miss Eleanor's voice.

"You can't deceive me, sir!" they heard her say. "Those girls must be on this yacht, and I warn you that you had better give them up. Kidnapping is a serious offence in this state."

"You can see for yourself they're not here, ma'am," said Jeff. "And I don't take this kindly at all, ma'am. Why, when I saw the fire in your camp, I went ashore with my men to try to help you—and now you make this charge against us."

"I certainly do!" said Eleanor, with spirit. "I am quite sure that this is the only place where my girls can be, and I mean to have them back. As to the fire, you helped us, it is true. But I am as certain as I can be of anything that you had something to do with starting it before you tried to put it out!"

"There's no use talking to you, ma'am, and I won't try it," said Jeff. "If you're crazy enough to believe anything like that, I could talk all day and you'd still believe it. Here's the yacht—you're welcome to go over her and see for yourself. You won't find the girls, because they're not aboard. That's a good reason, I guess."

"Then let me see Mr. Holmes."

"There you go again, ma'am! Didn't I tell you on deck that there's no such party aboard, and that I never even heard of him? If you're satisfied now, we'll be glad to have you go ashore, because I want to sail. I've got business down the coast."

"I shall not go ashore until I have found my girls," said Eleanor. There were tears of baffled anger in her voice, and Bessie thrilled with indignant sympathy at the idea that she was within a few feet of her best friend without being able to let her know that she was there.

"Then you'll be put ashore—gently, but firmly, as the books say," said Jeff. "You're dead right, ma'am, kidnappin' is a bad sort of business in this state, and I don't aim to give you a chance to say we carried you off with us against your will. Sail we will—and you'll stay behind. This is my boat, and I've got a right to put off anyone that is trespassin'."

"You brute!" gasped Eleanor. "Don't you dare to touch me!"

"Will you go of your own accord, then?"

"I suppose I must," gasped Eleanor tearfully. "But you shall pay for this, you scoundrel! You're tricking me in some fashion, but you can't deceive me, and you can't keep the truth quiet forever."

Then there was the sound of retreating footsteps, and a few minutes later Bessie and Zara were released by Jeff, who was grinning as if it had been a great joke.

"Well, sis, we're off now!" he said. "Come on! I don't want to be hard on you. Come out here in the passageway, and you can have a look at the shore as we go off."

He led them to the stern, and to the little cabin, in which was a porthole. Looking out, Bessie saw the beach indistinctly. The ruined tents were there, and several of the girls, in bathing suits. And, swimming slowly to the shore she saw a girl in a red cap, which, as she knew, belonged to Dolly. How she longed to be able to call to her! But Jeff was at her side, and she knew that the attempt would be useless, since he was watching her as if he had been a cat and she a mouse.

A bell clanged somewhere below them, and the next moment there was a rumbling sound as the machinery was started. At the same moment there came the grinding of the anchor chains as they were raised. But the yacht did not move! Even after the anchor was up there was no movement except the throbbing of the whole vessel as the engines raced in the hold! Jeff's face grew black, and he turned toward the passage with a scowl.

"What's wrong here?" he shouted, going to the door. At the same moment, seizing her brief chance, Bessie gave a wild scream, and saw, to her delight, that those on shore had heard it. In a moment she was pulled roughly from the porthole, and Jeff, his face savage and all the kindness gone out of it, scowled down at her.

"Keep quiet, you little vixen!" he shouted. "Here, come with me!"

At the foot of some steps that led up to the deck he left the two girls in the care of Larry, one of the two men she had seen the night before.

"Keep them quiet," he commanded, as he sprang up the steps. "What's wrong, Larry; do you know?"

"Something the matter with the propeller. Can't tell what," said Larry.

And above, on the deck, there was a wild rushing about now. Orders were shouted to the engineers below; hoarse answers came back. The engines were stopped and started again. But still the yacht did not move. A grimy engineer came up and stood beside her.

"Propeller's fouled," he said to Jeff. "We'll have to send a man overboard to clear it."

"How long will that take?" roared Jeff.

"Maybe an hour—if we're lucky."

"You're a fine engineer, not to have the boat ready to start!" screamed Jeff, mad with rage. "You'll lose your berth for this!"

"Guess I can get another," replied the engineer calmly. "It's been done on purpose and it's the business of the deck watch to keep the stern clear, not mine."

With frantic haste a man was sent overboard. He dived and found the propeller. Bessie heard his report. The screw was twisted around with rope—knotted and tied so that, even with a knife he would have to make many descents to clear it. Without a diving suit it was impossible for the man to stay under water more than half a minute at a time, and, as it turned out, he was the only man on board who could dive at all.

Jeff raged in vain. The work of clearing the propeller could not be hastened for all his bellowing, and the precious minutes slipped by while the diver worked. Each time that he came up for rest and air he reported a little more progress, but each time, too, as he grew tired, his period of rest was lengthened, while his time below the water was cut shorter.

And then, when he had reported that two more trips would mend the trouble, there was a sudden bumping of boats against the yacht, on the shoreward side, which had been left without watchers, it seemed, and there was a rush of feet overhead. Bessie cried out in joy, and the next instant a dozen men tumbled down the steps and overpowered Larry.

"Are you Bessie King?" asked their leader. "I've got a search warrant empowering me to search this yacht for you and one Zara Doe and take you ashore."

"We're the ones! Take us!" pleaded Bessie.

And, sobbing with joy, she went up the steps to the deck. There Jeff, furious but powerless in the grip of two men, watched her go over the side and into a small boat in which sat Eleanor, who threw her arms joyously about the recovered captives. Dolly was there, too, and she kissed and hugged Bessie as soon as Eleanor was done.

"The men got here in time from Bay City," said Eleanor. "Thank Heaven! A few minutes more, and they would have been too late. I telephoned as soon as I could, and I knew the district attorney there was a friend of Charlie Jamieson. He came at once with his men."

"The propeller was fouled. That's why they couldn't get away," said Bessie. "Wasn't that lucky?"

Dolly snorted.

"Luck nothing!" she said, perkily. "I swam out with a rope, and they never saw me! I was there, diving up and down, for half an hour. I thought they'd have a lovely time getting it clear when the knots I made had swollen up!"

"Yes, it was Dolly who saved the day," said Eleanor.

"Shall we row you ashore, ma'am, or do you want to see the rest of the fun on board?" asked one of the oarsmen.

"Take us ashore, please. I'll hear all about it later," said Eleanor.

And in five minutes the Camp Fire Girls were reunited.

———————————————————————————————————-

THE BILLY WHISKERS SERIES

As Originated by

FRANCES TREGO MONTGOMERY

Mrs. Montgomery has the happy faculty of knowing just what the small boy and his sister like in stories, and the added ability of giving it to them. Her ideas are touched with the sparkle of real genius and little folks find it a delight to travel in her company. These adventures of a frolicsome goat never fail to please.

TWENTY-FIVE VOLUMES

BILLY WHISKERS BILLY WHISKERS' KIDS BILLY WHISKERS, JUNIOR BILLY WHISKERS' TRAVELS BILLY WHISKERS AT THE CIRCUS BILLY WHISKERS AT THE FAIR BILLY WHISKERS' FRIENDS BILLY WHISKERS, JR., AND HIS CHUMS BILLY WHISKERS' GRAND-CHILDREN BILLY WHISKERS' VACATION BILLY WHISKERS KIDNAPPED BILLY WHISKERS' TWINS BILLY WHISKERS IN AN AEROPLANE BILLY WHISKERS IN TOWN BILLY WHISKERS OUT WEST BILLY WHISKERS IN THE SOUTH BILLY WHISKERS' ADVENTURES BILLY WHISKERS IN THE MOVIES BILLY WHISKERS OUT FOR FUN BILLY WHISKERS' FROLICS BILLY WHISKERS AT HOME BILLY WHISKERS' PRANKS BILLY WHISKERS IN MISCHIEF BILLY WHISKERS AND THE RADIO BILLY WHISKERS' TREASURE HUNT

Quarto, six full color illustrations and many black-and-white drawings, bound in cloth, colored jacket. Price, $1.25 each.

THE SAALFIELD PUBLISHING COMPANY AKRON, OHIO

———————————————————————————————————-

EVERY CHILD'S LIBRARY

No child has come into his full and rightful heritage in the world of books until he has read the stories comprising

Every Child's Library

HEIDI—Spyri TREASURE ISLAND—Stevenson EAST O' THE SUN AND WEST O' THE MOON—Dasent HANS BRINKER—Dodge THE SWISS FAMILY ROBINSON—Wyss ROBINSON CRUSOE—Defoe PINOCCHIO—D. Collodi ROBIN HOOD—Gilbert KING ARTHUR FOR BOYS—Gilbert ANIMAL STORIES—P. T. Barnum KIDNAPPED—Stevenson CORNELLI, HER CHILDHOOD—Spyri A CHRISTMAS CAROL—Dickens A DOG OF FLANDERS—Ouida THE CUCKOO CLOCK—Molesworth JIM DAVIS—Masefield AT THE BACK OF THE NORTH WIND—MacDonald THE PRINCESS AND CURDIE—MacDonald THE PRINCESS AND THE GOBLIN—MacDonald BLACK BEAUTY—Sewell MAXA'S CHILDREN—Spyri A LITTLE SWISS BOY—Spyri UNCLE TITUS IN THE COUNTRY—Spyri THE BLACK ARROW—Stevenson THE RED FAIRY BOOK—Lang THE BLUE FAIRY BOOK—Lang GRANNY'S WONDERFUL CHAIR—Browne LITTLE MEN—Alcott AN OLD-FASHIONED GIRL—Alcott

Each volume is well illustrated, is bound in cloth and has a jacket in colors.

THE SAALFIELD PUBLISHING CO. AKRON, OHIO

———————————————————————————————————-

JOHN NEWBERY SERIES

Early in the 18th century John Newbery was born in a little Berkshire village in England, and became a bookman in the old St. Paul's churchyard.

It was he who first believed children needed books of their own, and he set about to supply that need. Many of the old stories, quaint jingles and nursery rhymes we have to-day are due to him. It is therefore peculiarly fitting this series, comprising the best written for childhood, should bear his name.

THE PIED PIPER OF HAMELIN—Robert Browning THE KING OF THE GOLDEN RIVER—John Ruskin MONI, THE GOAT BOY—Johanna Spyri FAIRY TALE GIANTS FAIRY TALE PRINCES FAIRY TALE PRINCESSES A DOG OF FLANDERS—Louisa de la Ramee (Ouida) THE LEGEND OF SLEEPY HOLLOW—Washington Irving RIP VAN WINKLE—Washington Irving THE NURNBERG STOVE—Louisa de la Ramee (Ouida) THE ADVENTURES OF A BROWNIE—Miss Mulock CHILD VERSES—Eugene Field

These books are well bound in cloth, are profusely illustrated, have a colored frontispiece and a colored jacket, and contain 92 pages each.

THE SAALFIELD PUBLISHING CO. AKRON, OHIO

Previous Part     1  2  3
Home - Random Browse