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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Outdoor Girls On Pine Island - Chapter 3. Fortunes
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The Outdoor Girls On Pine Island - Chapter 3. Fortunes Post by :johlum Category :Long Stories Author :Laura Lee Hope Date :May 2012 Read :2528

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The Outdoor Girls On Pine Island - Chapter 3. Fortunes


Early the next morning Mollie hailed Betty as the Little Captain went up the street.

"Where to, so early?" she called. "Why didn't you stop for me?"

"Oh, I was going to Amy's first, to find out how Mrs. Stonington is," said Betty as she turned back. "Then I was going to stop in to see if you would go with me to call on Grace. I promised her last night I would come over this morning."

"But isn't it early?" said Mollie, doubtfully. "Probably Grace won't even be up yet."

The Little Captain seated herself comfortably on the board step of the veranda. "Yes she will," she said decidedly. "I told her yesterday that if I came over this morning and found her in bed eating candy before breakfast instead of enjoying the wonderful morning air, I'd never come over again. She knows that I mean it, too."

"Well, in that case, she may be up," laughed Mollie. "If you will wait a minute I'll go with you to Amy's," she added and ran lightly into the house.

The girls found Mrs. Stonington very much improved and Amy only too glad to get out into the glorious sunshine of the summer morning.

As the three chums, clad daintily in white, with a background of velvety green lawn to set them off, approached the Fords' beautiful home, they were surprised beyond measure to see Grace swinging leisurely back and forth in the big hammock under the trees. They stopped short and gazed upon this spectacle.

"And she's not eating chocolates either," remarked Amy in an awe-struck voice. "What can have happened?"

"I wish you would stop gazing at me like that," said Grace, raising her head and looking at the three girls who were still regarding her fixedly. "Is it my hair, or is my nose red, or is it my skirt that's too tight? Please tell me and get it over with. I can stand anything but this suspense."

"A miracle has taken place--the impossible has happened!" cried Betty, striking a theatrical pose. "Never again will I doubt the wisdom of those so learned----"

"What is she raving about, girls, do you know?" asked Grace plaintively. "She never used to be like this."

"It's the shock, that's all," interpreted Mollie. "Never mind, Betty," she added soothingly. "You will get used to it in time."

"Amy, you're the only sane one in that crowd," cried Grace in desperation. "Will you kindly explain what those two lunatics are talking about--if they know themselves!" This last was uttered so vindictively that the girls came down from rhetorical heights with a bounce.

"Oh," laughed Betty, running up to Grace and giving her a hug. "You must really forgive us, Grace dear, we just couldn't help it--you reformed so suddenly, you know."

"Reformed?" said Grace, still mystified, while she made room for the other girls in the hammock. "What do you mean--'reformed'? I didn't know I needed to."

"Listen to the child," mocked Mollie. "Why, don't you know, Grace, that there isn't one of us that doesn't need a lot of reforming?"

"Speak for yourself, Mollie Billette," remarked Grace, a trifle shortly, for her natural good temper was becoming ruffled under the continued teasing.

"Now, please, girls," said Betty, fearing a storm, "don't let's quarrel, whatever we do. We were only surprised to see you up so early, Grace, that's all. But now I'm mighty glad you are, because we'll have a chance for a nice long talk. What time do you suppose it is now?"

"It was nearly ten when I came out of the house," Grace replied, placated by the Little Captain's tactful changing of the subject. "Can't you all stay to lunch? Then we can make a good long day of it."

The girls took a walk about town before lunch, just to "be sure of an appetite," as Amy said. During the tramp they met Roy Anderson, an old boy friend.

"Are you doing anything particular this afternoon?" he wanted to know, and upon the girls replying in the negative, asked if he might bring some of the other boys around. "We have made a discovery!" he shouted after them. "We'll tell you about it when we see you."

And so, the noon meal over, the girls strolled out on the lawn again and waited eagerly for what the boys might have to tell them.

They had not long to wait--in fact they had barely had time to settle themselves in the comfortable chairs, when along the road came--not the boys, but a ragged, bent, old woman, leaning heavily on a twisted stick for support. Instead of going straight on, as the girls had expected she would do, the old woman turned in at the drive and made straight for them.

"What shall we do? Shall we go in the house?" whispered Grace to Betty. "I don't like her looks very much, do you?"

"She isn't particularly beautiful," Betty telegraphed back. "But she can't possibly do us any harm. Let's wait and see what she has to say."

As the old hag drew nearer, the girls instinctively shrank back in their chairs. And, indeed, she was not a prepossessing figure. Her head was bound about with an old red handkerchief, tied under the wrinkled chin and framing a face seamed and crisscrossed with a million wrinkles. An old, tattered shawl covered her bent shoulders, and the hand that grasped the knotted stick was claw-like and emaciated. Her eyes were the only part of her that seemed to retain some semblance of youth. They were little and beady and exceedingly keen, so that when she raised them to Betty's young face, that staunch little captain felt that she would almost rather be anywhere else than there beneath the trees with the searching eyes of the old crone fixed upon her.

"What do you want?" Betty gasped, trying to make her voice calm and steady, but with little success.

"I won't hurt you, pretty ladies," said the old woman, divining their repugnance and half-fear and desiring to placate them. "Won't you have your fortunes told? Only twenty-five cents, and I can tell you of your past and as much as you will of your future. Only a quarter, pretty ladies."

Betty glanced inquiringly at the other girls, but they shook their heads decidedly--the mumbling old crone was getting on their nerves.

"Not to-day," said Betty, as kindly as she could. "We are expecting company and we haven't time. Some other time perhaps."

"Some other day may be too late," said the old crone, leeringly. "Oh, yes, you will have all the time there is to be miserable in. And you will be! You will be! The curse be on you for refusing an old woman like me the price of her bread!" and she hobbled down the long drive muttering to herself and stopping once to shake her fist at the startled girls.

"Oh, did you ever!" Mollie exclaimed. Just then there was a sound of jolly, masculine laughter and around a corner of the house came the boys.

"Oh, I've never been so glad to see anybody in all my life!" said Grace with a little shiver, as the boys paused to gaze after the retreating form of the old hag. "It is such a relief to have some boys around!"

"I say! who's your venerable friend, Grace?" Roy inquired as he and his friends joined the girls.

"Yes, what did you do to her, Betty?" It was Allen Washburn who asked the question. He was a young lawyer, liked and admired by every one in Deepdale, and let it be said here that Betty was no exception to the general rule. And as for young Allen Washburn himself, he never sought to conceal his genuine admiration for the Little Captain. "The last I saw of her, she was shaking her fist at the house. She didn't seem to be in any too sweet a temper, either."

"It was just because we wouldn't let her read our fortunes," Betty explained. "Oh, I wouldn't let that old thing touch me!"

"I could tell your fortune for you, if you'd only let me," whispered Allen, so softly that only Betty heard. But that was as it should be, since it was intended for her ear alone.

"She looked just like a--oh, what do you call them?--the people that wander around all the time and never have any homes--oh, I know, gypsies," said Amy eagerly. "Wasn't she a gypsy, Will?"

"Oh, now she's gone and spilled the beans!" said Frank, so ruefully that they all laughed. "Here we come, all primed to give you a surprise, and we find you prepared beforehand."

"But what surprise?" asked Mollie. "She didn't tell us anything--we wouldn't let her."

"Yes, she did. She told you everything, only you don't know it," was Will's enigmatic comment. "You see," he went on, "there's a gypsy encampment near by and we thought you girls might like to visit it. The caravans they use and the strange costumes are all mighty interesting."

"Oh, won't that be fine!" said Grace eagerly. "I've always wanted to see one of those things near by. When can we go?"

"I thought you didn't like gypsies, Grace," Betty broke in.

"Well, I wouldn't if they were all like this," answered Grace. "But they're not, are they, Roy? There are lots and lots of really romantic-looking ones if all the books I've read know anything about it."

"Of course there are. You don't suppose we'd take you to see a lot of old crones like this peppery woman, do you?" Roy answered. "Why, I've heard there are some mighty good-looking girls in this crowd."

"Now I see why they're so anxious to go," laughed Betty. "I don't think we'd better chance it, girls. They might become so charmed with the fair gypsy maids that they'd forget our existence."

"I don't think you need worry too much about that," said Allen, answering the challenge in Betty's eyes. "The only question is whether we will have eyes to see the charms of the gypsy maids."

"Here! here!" shouted Will. "You're coming on, Allen, you're coming on. I wish I could reel them off like that. Well, ladies, what day shall we set for the adventure?"

"To-night," said Betty promptly.

"Good," Frank responded. "Betty has the right idea, all right. To-night it is!"

So it was settled, and when they parted eyes were bright with the excitement of the coming adventure.

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