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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Outdoor Girls At Ocean View, Or The Box That Was Found In The Sand - Chapter 24. To The Rescue
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The Outdoor Girls At Ocean View, Or The Box That Was Found In The Sand - Chapter 24. To The Rescue Post by :Riverbraid Category :Long Stories Author :Laura Lee Hope Date :May 2012 Read :1946

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The Outdoor Girls At Ocean View, Or The Box That Was Found In The Sand - Chapter 24. To The Rescue

CHAPTER XXIV. TO THE RESCUE

"What gone? Not the diamonds!" cried Will, hopping about, first on one foot, and then the other. "Don't tell me those sparklers are gone, after all the trouble I've had on this case--and it's my first, too! That's a shame! How did it happen."

"Oh, you and your diamonds!" cried Allen. "It's the girls who are missing! Don't you understand? The girls!"

"I don't understand," replied Will. "What's the game?"

"And Betty and Amy are not up at the cottage?" asked Mollie.

Will shook his head.

"I just came down from Boston," he said. "I was told you were all out--the boys fishing and the girls on a picnic. I could hardly wait until you came back to tell you the news. But you've knocked my feet from under me."

"Oh, it's just terrible!" said Grace. "What will Mrs. Nelson say?"

"Now look here!" exclaimed Allen, taking charge of matters in the masterful way he had. "We've got to do something in a hurry. Of course Mrs. Nelson will have to be told, but it may be all right after all. Betty and Amy may have gone in to the village, to send a telegram, or something like that."

"What about?" asked Grace.

"The diamonds, of course. They may have struck a clue. Now look here," Allen went on quickly. "Will, as I understand it, you have found out to whom those stones belong?"

"Well, yes; that is, almost. There's been a big smuggling job, and those diamonds are part of the loot, or swag----"

"Such slang!" protested Grace.

"Don't worry about slang at a time like this," said Mollie. "Go on, Will."

"No, we haven't time for all his story now," said Allen. "It is enough for us to know that he has solved the mystery."

"This much of it, at any rate," Will assented, "though I'm in the dark yet about the missing girls. As I said, I've been working my government position for all it's worth. There was a big smuggling job lately, and they were keeping it quiet. These diamonds are undoubtedly part of it, and now if I can only help get some of the men it sure will be a feather in my cap--a whole ostrich plume, in fact."

"Well, the rest of your story will keep," Allen remarked. "The next thing is to trace the girls. Here's the story about them, Will," and he rapidly told it as he had gathered it from Mollie and Grace.

"At the fisherman's hut, eh?" mused Will. "I always thought he had a hand in the affair. But where did the girls go from there?"

"That's just what we don't know," Henry remarked. "I found Amy's handkerchief in the cabin, or we wouldn't have known that much."

"It's a bare chance that they may have gone to the telegraph office in the village, to send a wire to Betty's father," said Allen. "We'll try there before we raise an alarm."

"But can we keep the news from Mrs. Nelson?" asked Mollie.

"She isn't home," Will said. "She's out calling somewhere. I've been keeping bachelor's hall at Edgemere ever since I came from the train. The maids told me where you were."

"We might stave off worrying Mrs. Nelson if one of us could get to town and back before she returned," said Allen. "Of course if the girls haven't been there we'll have to come out with the whole story."

"If we only could get to the village in a rush," said Mollie.

"An auto!" exclaimed Grace.

"There isn't one near enough----" began Will, when Grace cried:

"Percy Falconer! There he comes!"

The Deepdale johnny was coming down the road in his powerful machine. With all his faults he had the car in his favor, though he was not a skilled driver, and seldom could get anyone to venture out with him.

"Hey, Percy! You're just in time!"

"Over here!"

"This way!"

"Got to get to town in a hurry!"

Thus called the boys and girls to him, and it is doubtful if Percy Falconer ever received such a warm welcome before, or since.

"Just the one we want to see," said Allen, getting into the car with Will. "We are in a hurry to get to the telegraph office."

"Some one ill?" asked Percy, looking at his wrist watch.

"No, but there may be if we don't hustle," Allen said. "To the telegraph office as fast as you can make it, Percy boy."

"And let Allen drive, if you don't mind, old man," put in Grace's brother. "You must be tired, and we don't want to be ditched."

"Oh, all right, of course. If you're in a rush," agreed Percy, good-naturedly, and he found a warmer place in the hearts of those who had hitherto cared little for him.

"After all, Percy isn't such a bad sort," remarked Roy, as he walked with Grace and Mollie up the drive leading to Edgemere.

"He came in very useful to-day, at all events," Mollie agreed. "I think I shall teach him that new aeroplane whirl in the hesitation he is so anxious to learn."

"Oh, a dance!" acclaimed Grace. "I'm just dying for one."

"There won't be any--if we don't find Betty," said Mollie, seriously enough.

"Oh, we'll find them!" declared Roy.

"I hope Mrs. Nelson stays away until--well, until the scare is either over, or until we have something to go on, in case--in case they are lost," commented Grace.

Betty's mother had not returned home when the auto, driven at break-neck speed by Allen, swung down the road again.

"What news?" asked Mollie, as the echo of the screeching brakes died away. But there was no need to ask. A look at the faces of Allen and Will told her what she wanted to know.

"They weren't there, and hadn't been," said Allen, slowly.

"Oh, but I say! What's it all about?" asked Percy.

"You'll know soon enough," Will answered in a low voice.

As they stood on the porch, a much-worried group of young people, Mrs. Nelson came back from her call.

There was no need for her to ask if anything was the matter. A glance told her that. But she met the emergency bravely. The girls told their story first--how they had awakened to find Betty and Amy gone. Then Henry told of finding the handkerchief in the hut, and lastly Will explained how he had found out that the diamonds were the booty of a smuggling plot.

"Well, we must get right to work," said Mrs. Nelson, and she proved herself a worthy mother of a worthy daughter. "I am sure nothing serious could have happened--no drowning, or anything like that. The only other explanation is, I think, along the lines suggested by Allen.

"Their disappearance must have something to do with the diamonds. It is possible they are following some suspect, and have had no chance to send back word. In that case they are all right. But we must search for them, and begin at the fisherman's shanty.

"We must also telegraph for Mr. Nelson. I'll go to town and do that. I'll also try to get him on the long distance telephone. Now, let me see. Some of you will come with me, others will go to the fisherman's cabin, and others will start a search along the beach, and notify the life saving station. We must neglect nothing."

"Isn't she splendid?" asked Grace of Mollie. "I feel better already."

"So do I."

There was a hasty consultation, and three parties were made up. Percy offered the use of his car, and Allen elected to go in it with Mrs. Nelson, to town. The others would go to the fisherman's shack and to the life saving station, though at this time of year there was only one man on duty. But he would know how to organize a corps of fishermen and clammers to make a search, if needed.

Mrs. Nelson returned from the village, after sending a telegraph message. She was unable to communicate with her husband by telephone.

"We had best follow them to the fisherman's cabin," said Allen. "That will be a sort of rallying point."

There they found all the young folks gathered, those who had been assigned the task of going to the life saving station having accomplished their errand, bringing back the message that soon a body of hardy men would be patrolling both beaches.

But it was Tin-Back who gave the real clue. He came up as they were making a second examination of the cabin, to discover some other evidence of the former presence of Betty and Amy there.

"The girls missin'!" exclaimed the old crabber. "Wa'al, there's only one place t' look fer 'em!"

"Where's that?" asked Mrs. Nelson. "Not--not----"

"No'm, they're not drowned, don't fear that, mum," said Tin-Back, with ready perception. "Nothin' like that could happen. They're off--there!"

He waved his hand toward where the mysterious schooner had been anchored.

"What makes you think so?" asked Allen, after the crabber had spoken of his belief, and mentioned the absence of the schooner as evidence.

"Because that vessel has been hanging around here on purpose to work off some such scheme as that! Take my word for it, the girls are aboard her. Pete and his woman Mag haven't gone off together for nothin'. The girls are on the _Spud_, and bad luck to her for a sneaky craft!"

"There's no time to lose!" he went on. "We've got to take after 'em, and locate her before nightfall. We need a fast boat----"

"The _Pocohontas is in good trim!" interrupted Allen.

"The very thing!" cried Tin-Back. "Hurray! This is like old times! I'm with you!" and he clapped his hand on his thigh with a report like a pistol shot. "To the rescue!" he cried.

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