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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Outdoor Girls At Ocean View, Or The Box That Was Found In The Sand - Chapter 25. All's Well--Conclusion
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The Outdoor Girls At Ocean View, Or The Box That Was Found In The Sand - Chapter 25. All's Well--Conclusion Post by :Riverbraid Category :Long Stories Author :Laura Lee Hope Date :May 2012 Read :1685

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The Outdoor Girls At Ocean View, Or The Box That Was Found In The Sand - Chapter 25. All's Well--Conclusion

CHAPTER XXV. ALL'S WELL--CONCLUSION

"All aboard!"

It was the tense voice of Allen Washburn calling, as he and his chums clambered aboard the _Pocohontas_. There had been a hurried filling of the gasoline and oil tanks after the suggestion offered by Tin-Back, that the disappearance of the mysterious schooner was coincident with the disappearance of the girls.

"If she only will run," ventured Roy, who was in charge of the motor.

"She's _got to run!" declared Allen, fiercely. Not all of the party went in the motor boat. Mrs. Nelson did not feel equal to the task, but Mollie said she would go, for her girl chums might need her in case they were found.

Tin-Back went, of course, with Henry, Allen and Roy. Will volunteered to stay with Mrs. Nelson and Grace. At first he had begged to be taken along, but some one had to stay to be the "man of the house," and I think, after all, Will wanted to get another look at the diamonds, in which he now had so strong and growing an interest.

"Let her go!" cried Allen, and the motor boat glided away from the little dock. It was late afternoon, and while the threatened storm had held off, the daylight was fast fading.

Fortunately they had a clue as to the direction the schooner had taken after leaving her anchorage. The man at the life saving station had observed her beating out on a long tack. He had noticed her through a glass, but had taken no note of any girls that might have been put aboard. But the wind was now quite strong, and the schooner would hardly sail against it. So our friends had a certain fairly sure direction to follow.

Will and Mrs. Nelson, with Grace and Percy, went back to the cottage. Their first care was to see that the diamonds were safe, and this was soon ascertained to be the case.

Meanwhile the motor boat had taken up the search. Driven at top speed, and with the engine "doing its prettiest," as Roy boasted, they made good time. In and out they went, over the course, now and then pausing to speak some clammer, but getting no information, save in one or two instances. But they learned enough to know that they were on the right track.

"Are you going to cruise all night," asked Mollie.

"No, unfortunately we'll have to turn back at dark," Allen said. "That is why I want to cover as much water as possible before all the light is gone."

They chased after one or two schooners, but without result, until, just as the last light of a threatening day was fading, Tin-Back startled them all by leaping up and shouting:

"Sail, ho!"

"Where away?" demanded Allen, in true nautical fashion.

"Dead ahead. There she is or I'm a candidate for Davy Jones's locker! Put after her, boys!"

It was comparatively easy, for the wind had died out--the calm before a storm, and as the schooner had no "kicker," or small gasoline engine, as had some of the clammers, she was soon overhauled.

That she was at least the one which had been anchored out in the bay was evident, for Tin-Back recognized her at once. Also it was evident that no visitors were desired, for, as the _Pocohontas came up alongside the almost motionless sailing craft, an ugly face looked over the low rail, and a gruff voice cried:

"That'll do, now. Keep off or you'll get into trouble! What do you want, anyhow?"

"You know well enough what we want!" cried Allen. "Up on deck, boys! We've got 'em just where we want 'em. There's your man, officer!" he called. It was pure "bluff," but it seemed to have its effect, for the man who had given the warning drew back.

"What is it?" demanded some one else, coming up out of the cabin.

"Oh, some fresh guys----"

"Come on, fellows!" Allen called loudly. He had leaped out on the forward deck of the motor boat. Mollie had been urged to stay in the little cabin, and did so. But it was evident there was to be no serious trouble--at least just yet.

"Come on!" cried Tin-Back, and at the sound of his resolute voice there was a surprised exclamation from the group of men on the schooner's deck.

"All aboard!" yelled the old clammer. "We've got 'em where we want 'em! Close-hauled! We'll holystone 'em an' slush 'em with hot tar if they give any trouble! Come on!"

Another instant and, despite his age and the crippling effects of rheumatism caused by exposure in all sorts of weather, Tin-Back had leaped to the schooner's deck. He was followed by Roy, Allen and a couple of sturdy fishermen, who had been picked up on the beach.

"Now, then, what do you fellows want?" demanded Pete, who was recognized as the fisherman of the lonely cabin.

"You know well enough what we want!" answered Allen resolutely. "The two young ladies you have on board here."

"There's nobody here," was the surly denial.

"I tell you there are!"

"You----"

There came a shrill scream from somewhere below decks, followed by an exclamation in a woman's voice.

"They're loose! They're loose. Pete--Jake--I--I----"

The men of the schooner uttered surprised exclamations.

"Come on!" cried Pete, leaping up.

"Not so fast," interposed Tin-Back, stepping in front of the man who had made a dash toward the cabin. "Wait a minute," and an extended foot tripped Pete, who fell heavily to the deck.

"We're coming!" shouted Allen, and, followed by Roy and Mollie, who by this time had made her way to the deck of the schooner, they hurried below. From behind a closed door came the sound of a struggle.

"In here!" cried Allen, and he threw himself against the panels as though he were stopping a rush on the football field. There was a cracking of wood and a snapping of metal. The door burst open.

In the cabin, struggling against the old crone, were Betty and Amy, disheveled and almost hysterical, but otherwise safe and sound.

"Allen!" gasped Betty, holding out her hands to him. He clasped them warmly, and the old crone, seeing that the whole affair was over, slunk off, whining something about meaning no harm to the "dearies"!

"Just watch those fellows that they don't do any mischief," said Henry to Tin-Back, when he had comforted his sister.

"Oh, they won't do any harm. They know it's all up. Besides, I brought this with me," and the clammer showed an ancient horse pistol, that, had it been fired, would probably have worked more havoc to the marksman than to the person aimed at.

There were tears, hysterical laughter, and rapid-fire explanations--all, seemingly, at once.

"But you're safe!" cried Allen, who had both Betty's hands. Whether or not it had been a continuous performance I cannot say. Probably it had. Betty was a very nice girl.

"Oh, yes, we're safe," she said, trying to control her voice.

"But those awful men; that--that horrid woman!" gasped Amy.

"You needn't worry about them any more," Allen assured her. "We'll see that they get what's coming to them."

Whether or not he would have been able to put this into operation is a question. But unexpected help arrived. It would not have been easy for the little force in the motor boat to cope with the larger crew of men on the schooner. Besides, there were three girls to be considered, and, though they were equal to most emergencies, both Betty and Amy were now rather unnerved.

There was a sharp whistle outside--a boat signal, evidently.

"What's that?" asked Allen, who, with Henry, Roy and the girls, was in the cabin, so recently a prison.

"It's a revenue cutter," bawled Tin-Back down the hatchway. "They want to know if we need help."

"We'll take it, anyhow," chuckled Allen. He felt like laughing now. "But how in the world did they come, and in the nick of time?"

"Maybe Will sent them," suggested Mollie. "They may be down here after the smugglers."

And so it proved when Allen went up on deck and held a short talk with an officer aboard the trim cutter, which had come to a stop alongside the motor boat and drifting schooner.

Will, left behind at the cottage with Mrs. Nelson and Grace, had suddenly thought to send the cutter _Minoa to follow up the _Pocohontas_. The government vessel had come down to Ocean View in view of certain facts Will had given his chief in the Secret Service, but Will had not expected to use the _Minoa in the chase. When he recalled that she was but a short distance off shore, awaiting wireless instructions, he rushed in Percy's auto to the telegraph office in town, and got into communication with his chief, who was awaiting word from him.

It was but the matter of a few minutes to relay the instructions to the cutter by wireless from Boston, and she started out to look for a small motor boat chasing a suspicious schooner. She found both in the nick of time.

Explanations made, men from the revenue vessel boarded the sailing craft and made her captain and crew prisoners, the old crone being among those captured. She had tried to make off in the rowboat trailing at the schooner's stern, but had been caught by Tin-Back.

"No, you don't!" he cried. "We want you!" and the old lobsterman held to her despite her struggles.

There were more explanations, and then, as the storm showed signs of breaking, the rescued girls and their friends set out for Ocean View in the motor boat. The revenue officers remained in charge of the captured schooner, and said they would see Will in the morning to complete the case.

"But what in the world did they want to capture you girls for?" asked Roy, when they were all safe again in Edgemere. The rain was beating against the windows, for they arrived just as the downpour began.

"They thought to get the secret of the diamonds," declared Will. "I can tell you that much. Though how they expected to do it I can't say."

"But were those men who had us--and that horrid old woman--the smugglers?" asked Amy.

"No, only their tools," Will said. "In brief, the game was this: The box of diamonds you found was smuggled from France. But before those interested in bringing them over could make good they received word that the customs officers in Boston were waiting for them. The government agents abroad had sent word here to be on the lookout.

"So the smugglers adopted a bold plan. They sent a message in cipher, by the ship's wireless, when two or three days outside of Boston, to their confederates, to have a boat waiting for them off this coast. That was done, and one dark night the smugglers tossed overboard the box with the diamonds concealed in the false bottom. It was fixed in a cork arrangement, so it would float. This box was picked up, but before the confederates could make away with it something happened. There was a quarrel among the smugglers, I believe, and one gang hurried off and buried the box here in the sand.

"You girls came along just as that had been done, and though some of the men wished to come back and take away the booty, others would not permit this, thinking no chance comer would find it."

"Those were the men we saw leaving in the boat," said Mollie.

"Yes," assented Will.

"And we did find the diamonds!" cried Grace.

"Yes, and that made all the trouble--for the smugglers," went on Will. "Of course they soon learned that the box was gone, and they guessed you girls had taken it. Then they tried to get it back."

"Those men in the cellar?" asked Betty.

"Were part of the gang," declared Will. "And I learned that they found the diamonds were in the cellar because a tramp hanging around for food overheard us taking about them. He wasn't in with the smugglers then, but later he joined them, giving this information.

"But the plan to get the diamonds from the cellar failed, and they had to do something else. That old woman and her fisherman husband were delegated to capture one or more of you girls, and force you either to tell where the diamonds were, or else they were going to hold you as a ransom for them."

"How terrible!" cried Grace.

"But it's all over now," her brother said. "Now we have the diamonds, we have the poor dupes of tools the smugglers bribed--the fisherman and the men of the schooner--and it only remains to get the criminals themselves. We'll do it, too."

"Did they treat you badly?" asked Grace of Betty and Amy.

"Badly enough," the Little Captain replied. "They would not tell us why we were made prisoners. But after they had taken the gags from our mouths, they put them on again, just before you came."

"That was because they saw the motor boat after them and knew they couldn't get away because of no wind," suggested Will.

"We thought perhaps there was a pursuit," Amy said. "And then Betty grew desperate and managed to attack the old woman."

"But you helped," said Betty.

"Oh, don't let's talk about it," exclaimed Grace. "All's well that ends well."

"But it isn't all ended yet," Will remarked, significantly.

Working on the fears of their prisoners the government men learned where the real smugglers were hiding, waiting for the success of their plot, and they were arrested. In due time they were tried, found guilty and sentenced to pay heavy fines on the charge of trying to defraud Uncle Sam. On the charge of kidnapping the two girls the heavier punishment of imprisonment was meted out to those involved.

It developed that the smugglers, however, had protected themselves from the graver charge. They had instructed the fishermen to get information from the girls about the diamonds, in any way the ignorant men thought best, and the kidnapping scheme was the product of the brains of the old woman and her husband. They laid the plot to capture the girls, and secured the help of several friends, hiring the schooner for their purpose. When the schooner sailed away with Betty and Amy the old woman and her husband expected to pick up the smugglers and let them force the truth from the girls. But their plan was spoiled.

The diamonds, of course, became the property of the government, and were sold at auction, and on such favorable terms that each of the girls was able to obtain one for herself. Will helped bring this about, for the government was under obligation to him and his friends for recovering the jewels and capturing the smugglers. The reward was evenly divided.

"And I received a fine letter of thanks from my chief," said Will. "For my first case he said it was a--corker!"

"Oh, Will!" objected his sister.

"Well, he meant that, if he didn't say it," was the answer. "And I'm going to have a vacation which I'm going to spend down here if Betty will let me."

"Of course I will," she said. "We'll have jolly times!"

And then began glorious days at Ocean View, days in which there was no worriment about the packet of diamonds. Allen was allowed to keep the mysterious box and the original of the cipher, but he was never able to discover the meaning of it, nor who the enigmatical "B. B. B." was.

It was practically certain, however, that "B. B. B." was the real head of the smugglers, he who furnished the money and most of the brains. But his confederates never betrayed him. The value of the diamonds was several thousand dollars above Mr. Nelson's estimate.

There followed vacation days of boating and bathing, with more picnics, and Grace had all the chocolates she wanted--or at least all that were good for her. Tin-Back came in for a share of the reward, and bought himself, among other things, a new fish net.

And, while the outdoor girls are enjoying life at beautiful Ocean View, we will take leave of them.


(THE END)
Laura Lee Hope's Novel: Outdoor Girls at Ocean View, or The Box That Was Found in the Sand

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