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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Outdoor Girls On Pine Island - Chapter 19. A Marvelous Discovery
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The Outdoor Girls On Pine Island - Chapter 19. A Marvelous Discovery Post by :joebiff Category :Long Stories Author :Laura Lee Hope Date :May 2012 Read :3523

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The Outdoor Girls On Pine Island - Chapter 19. A Marvelous Discovery

CHAPTER XIX. A MARVELOUS DISCOVERY

Upon reaching the house the Outdoor Girls ran upstairs while the boys went back to camp to get some things they thought they might need. A few moments later the girls rejoined them.

"Where shall we go?" Roy, who was leading the van, paused and looked behind him. "Let's take some different part of the wood--some place we haven't explored yet."

"If there is any," Allen agreed.

"There is some place, for we have not yet found the gypsies Mollie's old store-keeper told her about," put in Betty.

"Very well, then, trot ahead, Roy, we'll follow you."

"All right, but don't blame me if we are lost."

"Oh, if there is any danger of that," said Amy, pulling away and looking back longingly, "perhaps we better stick to what we know."

"Oh, Roy is only talking to hear himself talk," Will assured her. "It isn't possible to get lost on this island, even if you wanted to. All we would have to do would be to follow the shore and sooner or later we'd be bound to come upon 'The Shadows.'"

Amy saw the reason in this and was reassured. "All right," she said; "but it wouldn't be very much fun to get lost."

"Why not?" demanded Will, and she looked at him in surprise.

"Well, would it?" she asked wonderingly.

"It would be the greatest little lark ever," he said so decidedly that Amy blushed. "We'd have some excitement for a little while, anyway."

When they had walked a little farther into the woods Roy stopped again, and, pointing before him, called out: "We have found just the place, people--it's Arcadia itself."

They crowded about him, gazing in the direction he had pointed out. It was a wonderful island, this--where you were always stumbling into some little glade or woodland bower made especially for you. Surely this tiny garden spot of nature was even more alluring than the famous fishing pool, and the girls pushed forward eagerly.

"That big flat stone over there will be just the very thing to spread the eatables out on," said Grace, "and I guess we can all manage to get around it, too."

"Of course we can," said Mollie enthusiastically. "It's exactly the right height. Oh, every thing is perfect!"

"If you girls will only stop raving long enough to get us something to eat," said Will plaintively, "you'll be doing some good in the world. Gee, but I'm hungry!"

"Poor boy," said Betty, with ready sympathy, "I know just exactly how you feel, because I'm nearly dead myself. Hand over the basket, Allen, please, and I'll spread the cloth."

"You bet I will!" said Allen readily. "I'll help you fix things."

"Look out for him, Betty," Roy cautioned. "He's got his eye on the good things."

"What good does that do?" sighed Allen. "I'd rather have my teeth on them."

"So say we all of us," laughed Frank. "Can't I help, too, Betty?"

"Of course--all of you," the Little Captain agreed, magnanimously. "Come on, girls--stop admiring the view and help with these things."

"Oh! will we?" cried Mollie, and all made a rush for the baskets. "What's first? You've got the table cloth? Well, then the napkins next and the sandwiches--and the biscuits, and--oh, boys, you never could guess----" Mollie sat back on her heels and regarded them laughingly. "Think of the thing you want most in the world," she said. "That's it!"

"There are lots of things I want," Frank began, but Roy interrupted him.

"There is only one thing in the world that is better than anything else," he said.

"And that?" the others queried breathlessly.

"Plum pudding!" He pronounced the two words with the reverence due them.

Grace stared at him in amazement. "How did you know?" she stammered. "It's almost uncanny."

"Not at all," said Roy, with a superior air. "It's perfectly simple--I smelled it."

"Oh, so that was the blithe and savory odor that assailed our nostrils a short time ago," said Frank. "But my hopes never soared to the heights of plum pudding."

"And here is the hard sauce," said Mollie, passing it around from one to the other as though it had been a precious jewel. "Amy made it--all of powdered sugar--with perhaps a little egg and butter thrown in--and I know it is delicious."

"You had better put that out of sight till we get through eating other things, Mollie," Betty cautioned. "The boys will be starting at the wrong end of the meal."

"Yes, and spoil their appetites," Amy added, while Mollie removed the temptation.

However, from the way the good things disappeared, there seemed no reason for Amy's fears--appetites like those were proof even against plum pudding.

At last the picnickers stretched themselves, replete and happy, upon the soft grass, to discuss a further course of action.

"What shall we do next?" asked Betty, after a somewhat lengthy pause. "Are we going to take a walk or swim some more or just stay here?"

"You've got the right idea," Roy commended.

"Which?" she asked, with uplifted eyebrows. "I suggested three things."

"The last of course," he answered, plucking a piece of long grass and beginning to chew the end of it. "I don't know what you put in that plum pudding, but it has made me everlastingly sleepy. I'd like to take a nice long nap;" and a prodigious yawn gave truth to his words.

"How interesting," Grace mocked. "Mrs. Irving warned Mollie that it might have such an effect--in fact, she said it was too hearty for hot weather. Behold we have the proof of her words."

"For goodness' sake, Roy, brace up!" cried Will, in a stage whisper. "Can't you see what you are doing? If you keep this up they won't give us any more. Brace up!"

Seeing the wisdom of this, Roy did his best to "brace up," but the girls only laughed at him.

"We are sleepy, too," Amy confessed, "so we won't tell. Besides, don't you suppose _we like plum pudding?"

"Good!" said Roy, leaning back against the tree with a relieved sigh. "Now we can act naturally."

However, the Outdoor Girls and their boy chums were too active to remain quiet long, even after plum pudding. Allen was the first to become restless, and the others soon caught it from him. He rose, went through some gymnastic exercises, then looked about him curiously. "I wonder if there are any more places like this hereabout?" he said. "Does anybody want to take a little tramp and find out? You look about as energetic as a bunch of turtles. Come on, let's do something."

"Why do something when we can get lots more fun out of doing nothing?" asked Roy lazily. "What wouldst have us do?"

"I just told you," Allen's tone showed disgust. "Isn't there one among you with any pep at all? How about you, Betty? You're usually the one to start things."

Betty looked up at him with a slow, tantalizing little smile. "That's why I am letting you take the lead this time," she purred. "I thought I'd wait and see who'd make the first move."

"And I am going to force the second move," and before she could guess what he was going to do, he leaned over, caught her two hands in his and pulled her to her feet. "Now, you are going to take a little walk with me, young lady. If the rest of this lazy crowd don't want to come along, they know what they can do!"

The Little Captain blinked at him uncertainty. "You might tell me what you are going to do," she complained. "Look, Allen--you hurt me!"

He regarded the brown little hand, held up for his inspection, anxiously. "I don't see anything," he said. "But if I hurt it I am sorry," and he stroked the place that should have been red.

"If you are going, why don't you go?" Grace demanded, then added meaningly: "I guess they _are glad we are lazy."

"Please don't make any insinuations," said Betty, her nose in the air, but Allen sent a laughing shot back at them before they disappeared into the denser wood.

"You can eat another plum pudding if you like," he said.

Frank chuckled audibly. "Wise old chap--Allen," he remarked.

"I wish we could take his advice," mourned Amy. "If you boys hadn't been such pigs, we might have had some pudding left."

"Oh, why didn't you make more?" was Will's uncivil comment.

For a long time Allen and Betty wandered through the woods, seeing nothing and hearing nothing but the usual sights and sounds of the forest--and seemingly quite content to go on in that way forever.

It was Allen who first broke the silence. "I wish you would tell me what you are thinking about so hard, Betty. It must be very interesting, because you haven't said a word to me since we left that lazy crowd back there. 'Fess up!"

Betty flushed faintly. "You should never ask what a person thinks about on a beautiful summer, day when she is wandering through the woodland with--with----"

"Whom?" Allen prompted softly. "Go on, Betty, finish the story."

"Can't," she smiled up at him roguishly. "It's one of those 'to be continued.'"

He caught her hand, but she drew it away quickly. "Allen, what's this?" she cried.

She had accidentally brushed aside some brambles that had caught on her dress, and there close beside them, so near that she could thrust her hand into the opening, yawned the cavernous black mouth of a cave.

Allen drew her aside quickly. "Don't go near it," he commanded, in a tone that made Betty look at him in surprise. "I'm suspicious of these caves until I have investigated them myself. I am going to have a look, Betty. You stay where you are."

But the Little Captain had not been so named for nothing. She seized Allen's arm, and drew him back from the opening.

"Allen, if you go in there, I'm going, too," she cried, her eyes blazing. "Do you suppose I'm going to stand here, and see you get eaten up by a--a----"

"A what?" said Allen, putting his hands on her shoulders and laughing down at her.

"Well, whatever there is in the cave," she finished lamely. "Anyway, I'm going in with you."

"Betty, do be reasonable," he pleaded, but she flared up at that.

"Do you know, Allen, there is nothing a girl hates more than to have a boy ask her to be reasonable, when she knows she is? Anyway," her voice lowered and she pleaded her turn. "Anyway, it's lots worse to see anybody get hurt, anybody that you like, that is, than it is to get hurt yourself."

"You little soldier," Allen murmured. "But can't you see, Betty, that I am here to protect you from danger if there is any--not let you run right into it?"

"Then there is no reason why you should, either," she said obstinately.

"Will it make you feel any better if we get the others?" Allen asked, just a little exasperated, for he liked mysteries and hated to leave them unsolved. "We can get to them in five minutes if we run."

"Yes, that will be better," Betty agreed, seizing the suggestion eagerly. "But do you think we can find the cave again?"

"Easily," said Allen. "You see, we are pretty near the water right here and that bent old tree at the edge of the lake--see what I mean?--well, that's right on the line with the mouth of the cave. I guess it will be easy enough to find."

So it was settled, and they raced back hand in hand to the spot where they had left their friends, eager to tell the news.

"So here you are," cried Mollie, at sight of the runaways. "We thought you were never coming back."

Allen wasted no time, but told his story in the fewest words possible. They were all tremendously excited, and followed the two adventurers eagerly as they led the way along the shores of the lake.

"Are you sure you can find it again?" Grace was asking when Amy seized her arm and pointed out over the water.

"Look!" she cried. "Gypsies!"

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