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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Outdoor Girls On Pine Island - Chapter 13. The Gathering Of The Clans
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The Outdoor Girls On Pine Island - Chapter 13. The Gathering Of The Clans Post by :joebiff Category :Long Stories Author :Laura Lee Hope Date :May 2012 Read :3218

Click below to download : The Outdoor Girls On Pine Island - Chapter 13. The Gathering Of The Clans (Format : PDF)

The Outdoor Girls On Pine Island - Chapter 13. The Gathering Of The Clans

CHAPTER XIII. THE GATHERING OF THE CLANS

"If you got us some soap and water," Will suggested after they had indulged in some sheepish grins at their own expense, "you might be doing a little good in the world."

"Well, you ought to know how to find it yourselves," Grace retorted. "Suppose you go and wash, and make yourselves look like respectable citizens again--even though you aren't," she added sweetly.

"Look out, Grace, some time we will get even for all the knocks you have been handing out," Frank threatened, shaking a grimy fist in her direction.

"Now I don't suppose we can have a fire at all," sighed Mollie, as the boys made a rush for the stairs. "And I did so want one."

"If we can find a blower," Allen shouted from the landing, "we'll have a good fire yet."

"Yes, look around, girls, will you?" Roy added, "It will save no end of time."

"Do you know what a blower looks like?" Mollie inquired, a puzzled frown on her forehead. "How can I find anything when I don't know what it looks like?"

"Oh, I know," said Betty. "We used to have one at home before dad put the hood on the fire-place. Let's go on a still hunt."

This they did, and when the boys came down a few minutes later they proudly announced their discovery.

"This is it, isn't it?" asked Betty, indicating a big square of tin with a handle at the top. "It looks like the one we used to use."

"It's exactly the thing," cried Frank, pouncing on it eagerly. "Now if this doesn't make the wood burn, nothing will."

In less time than it takes to tell the boys had succeeded in igniting the green wood, and had applied the blower before the smoke had had a chance to get out into the room.

The fire danced and glowed, while its leaping flames sent fantastic shadows playing hide and seek around the room.

"How is this for a fire, eh?" said Will, holding out his hand to the welcome warmth of the blaze, for although the days were hot, the nights were apt to be damp and cool on this island, surrounded as it was by the waters of the lake. "Some time the girls will find out that we know our business pretty well. Oh, that feels good!"

"You are right," said Frank, as they instinctively drew their chairs nearer to the fire. "Now all we need is something to roast or toast, it doesn't much matter which."

"That reminds me," said Betty, turning accusing eyes upon Roy and Mollie, whose faces were clearly outlined in the dancing fire-light. "You two people over there seem to have a secret that you don't want to share with us. I think Mrs. Irving knows," she went on, turning an accusing eye on the chaperon where she sat in the midst of the circle, "but she won't let on. Suppose you tell the rest of us what it is."

"Well, Mollie said something about a fire," Roy admitted, "and I thought a couple of boxes of marshmallows wouldn't be unwelcome; so, when the rest of you were all busy buying other things, Mollie and I slipped off and got them. Where are they, Mollie?"

"I'll get them," she answered, rising reluctantly from her comfortable chair. "I hid them. I knew that if Grace once had an inkling they were in the house she would never rest till she found them. In that case----" she paused impressively, and looked about her, "there wouldn't have been one left by to-night."

They laughed, well knowing the truth of this remark, while Grace gave a sigh at being so misunderstood.

A few moments later, Mollie had returned with the cherished sweetmeats and the boys were busily engaged in the process of toasting them on the ends of long wire forks made especially for that purpose.

"Um--um, this is good," said Betty, biting off the end of a delicious morsel. "Why didn't you buy three boxes while you were about it, Roy?"

"That's all you get----" Roy was beginning, when Mollie interrupted him, speaking dreamily.

"Wasn't he a funny old man, Roy?" she said--"the one who sold us the candies, I mean."

"Yes, I guess he must have been in his dotage," Roy agreed. "In five minutes he told us all his life's history and then some."

"That's pretty good," said Allen with interest, while he dangled his marshmallow perilously near the leaping flames. "I bet you couldn't do as well."

"I know I couldn't," Roy answered modestly. "That old chap was a past master all right. Some of the things he said were interesting, though. Weren't they, Mollie?"

"Very," said Mollie, while she stared fixedly at the fire. "Interesting and--a little creepy," she added.

The girls started and leaned forward eagerly, Mrs. Irving and the boys evincing equal interest.

"Creepy!" Amy repeated, in awed tones. "Oh, Mollie, what do you mean?"

"Just that," said Mollie, enjoying the sensation she was making. "He was an awfully wizened old man, and when he heard we were from Pine Island--well, he told us some mighty queer things."

"Pine Island?" cried Mrs. Irving, the color flaming into her cheeks, whether from excitement or the warmth of the fire, no one could tell.

"What can be strange about Pine Island?" demanded Betty. "Mollie, I could shake you; why don't you tell us and have it over with?"

Mollie glanced at Roy. "Shall I?" she asked, just as if she had not been longing for the last half hour for the time to come when she could create a sensation by telling.

"You might as well," he answered condescendingly. "As long as we have to have them around for the rest of the summer, we might as well let them in on it."

"Well of all the----" Grace was beginning, when Betty nudged her sharply.

"Don't interrupt, Grace, whatever you do," she whispered. "They take long enough getting to the point anyway."

Grace saw the wisdom in this, and stopped short.

"Well," began Mollie, speaking slowly and with aggravating distinctness, "you see, in the old days, this island used to be a rendezvous for all the wandering gypsies for miles around."

"What?" Frank cried.

"Well, I am only telling you what the old man said," asserted Mollie defensively and with warmth. "I don't say he may not be mistaken----"

"Oh, that's all right, Mollie," Betty broke in quickly. "We understand that you are not vouching for the old man's honesty. All we want is his story. Please go on--I am awfully interested."

"Just think, gypsies on this island!" murmured Amy, shuddering.

"He says," Mollie continued, "in the old days there used to be as many as two or three hundred of the gypsies gathered around here--on this part of the island, too." She paused to see the effect of her words.

"But didn't your aunt say anything about that, Mollie?" Grace queried. "Why, it seems impossible. I don't wonder you felt creepy, especially if there are many like that old crone we saw in Deepdale," and she glanced over her shoulder in the direction of the open window.

"Don't you think we had better lock the door?" suggested Amy. "Some of those men in the gypsy camp looked actually murderous."

Of course the boys laughed at her fears, and Roy remarked casually: "The old chap told us something else, fellows, that may be of interest later on."

"What's that?" Will demanded.

"He said that when the tide was on the ebb, you could actually ford the lake to the islands farther south. It might be worth while trying some time."

"You bet it will!" said Allen, and his eagerness was not feigned.

"We'll try it the first chance we get," Frank added.

"We're going, too," said Betty. "You needn't think you can leave us behind when there is anything like that afoot."

"We wouldn't try," said Allen, ruefully. "Especially as you girls say you can swim."

"However, they will have to prove that point," Roy put in.

"That's easy," said Grace fearlessly. "As we have remarked before, we haven't been outdoor girls all our lives for nothing."

"If you boys hadn't been so set on our looking at your old camp to-day," said Amy with unusual spirit, "we would have proved it to you before this. But do you really think there are gypsies on the island?" she added. "Because, if there are, we might be able to find some of their loot." She voiced this last desire in hushed tones.

The girls laughed even while they drew their chairs still closer to the fire.

"Such a chance!" gibed Will, but Betty's eyes were shining in the glow of the fire-light.

"Oh, if we only could!" she whispered softly. "If we could only get the stuff stolen from Deepdale!"

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