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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Outdoor Girls On Pine Island - Chapter 4. The Gypsy Encampment
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The Outdoor Girls On Pine Island - Chapter 4. The Gypsy Encampment Post by :johlum Category :Long Stories Author :Laura Lee Hope Date :May 2012 Read :2038

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The Outdoor Girls On Pine Island - Chapter 4. The Gypsy Encampment


Betty was ready before any one arrived that night. The boys and girls were to meet at her house and from there go on to the gypsy encampment.

She sat on the porch with a light wrap thrown over one arm and waited impatiently.

"Oh, why don't they come?" she thought. "The girls said they would be early, and the boys are always away ahead of time. Oh, here come Grace and Will, now if the others will only hurry."

"Hello, Betty! Been waiting long?" It was Will's cheery greeting.

"Oh, for hours and hours," said the Little Captain with a sigh. "I'd begun to think everybody had forgotten all about it. I'm so glad you're here. You can keep me company anyway."

"Oh, are we the first?" Grace was surprised. "I hurried Will till he nearly had a fit. Said we would be ahead of everybody else, but I didn't believe him."

"Some day," said Will in a prophetic voice, "some day, young lady, you will learn that I _do know something."

"Oh, do you really think so?" said Grace, hopefully. "If that day ever comes, Will, dear, I will be the very first to congratulate you."

"Here come some of the others," Betty cried out. "I can't quite make them out, but it looks like Roy and Amy and--yes--there's Allen, too. But who is the other girl? It certainly isn't Mollie. I know her walk too well."

"No, it isn't Mollie," said Grace, slowly. "Do you know whom it looks like, Betty?"

"No," said that young person, straining her eyes in the direction of the newcomers. "Who is it?"

"I'm not sure but it looks like----" Grace paused a moment, then said with conviction, "I'm right! It's Alice Jallow, and I don't like her very much. What is she doing in our crowd anyway?"

"That's what I would like to know," growled Will. "We had just enough before. I don't know who's going to take care of her."

"Will, don't be ungallant," warned his sister. "Play the game. Probably there's some explanation, anyway."

But to the Little Captain, as she watched the quartette approaching, there seemed no plausible explanation. Why should Allen be paired off with "this Jallow girl"? Betty knew very little of the latter except that she was always trying to get in where she was not wanted. Well, she certainly was not wanted now. Oh, why did Allen look so happy? If "this Jallow girl" had her, Betty's, escort, where did she come in? Hot tears of anger and mortification rose to her eyes, but she drove them back mercilessly and her greeting to the newcomers was as merry as ever.

"Hello, everybody!" she called. "You surely took long enough to get here."

"Hello, Betty! This is----" Amy paused, then went on rather awkwardly. "You see, Alice happened to be at the house when the boys came and--well--we brought her along," she finished, lamely.

"And here I am," said Alice effusively. "I do hope I'm not putting any one out. The idea of visiting the gypsy camp was so fascinating that I simply couldn't resist the temptation. I think you might have let me in on it in the first place," and she looked reproachfully at Allen.

That young gentleman had been sending imploring looks in Betty's direction over Alice Jallow's head, which the former had chosen absolutely to ignore. Now, being thus appealed to, he smiled down at Alice.

"It certainly was a grave oversight on our part," he said.

Betty felt as if her little world had been turned upside down and she wanted to shake somebody--it didn't much matter who it was--but shake somebody she must, good and hard!

Just at this critical moment up came the two missing ones, Mollie and Frank--and a third.

"Now, who is that?" thought the poor Little Captain in despair. "If this keeps on, we shall have the whole town assembled pretty soon. Oh, dear!"

"Betty, this is a friend of mine, Jack Sanford," Frank introduced him in his own pleasant way. "He's not such a bad chap when you get to know him well," he added, while his friend thanked him, ironically.

Betty acknowledged the introduction gaily. If Allen liked "this Jallow girl," why, he could, that was all! and she was not going to let them spoil the evening for her. Besides, here was one providentially sent, or so it seemed to her. And he was nice, too, very nice! He seemed to be hail-fellow-well-met with the boys. And the girls--well, one could see that they liked him from the start. But if only Allen would not look so happy!

"Suppose we start, now we're all here," suggested Roy. "The sooner we get there the more time we'll have."

"Bright boy," commented Allen. "How did you ever find that out?" Then, under cover of the laughter and the darkness, he found Betty's hand and held it for a moment. "Betty," he pleaded, "I----"

"May I, Miss Nelson?" It was Jack Sanford, bowing low before her.

"Sounds like a dance," laughed Betty, and added: "Indeed you may. Oh, isn't it a wonderful night?"

Allen ground his teeth and once more submitted to the effusive attentions of Alice Jallow. If Betty could have seen him then she would have been moved to pity.

"Is it very far to the camp?" Mollie asked, after they had been walking some time. "I'm anxious to get there."

"Not very far, now," Roy assured her. "It's just on the outskirts of the town. Just wait till you get there. When you see how interesting it is you won't mind the walk."

"I guess you don't know whom you are talking to," called Betty, just behind them. "You forget that walking is our middle name."

"Pardon, fair damsel," said Roy in mock humility. "I must confess I had forgotten for the moment that----"

"Oh, look! look! All the bonfires and things and people sitting around them!" Mollie interrupted. "That must be the camp, isn't it, Roy?"

It really was the camp. The young people drew closer together as they neared it, fascinated, yet half afraid. There were huge bulky objects in the background beyond the illuminated circle of firelight.

"Those are the caravan wagons, aren't they?" demanded the Little Captain in hushed tones. "Oh, I wish I could see inside one of them."

"Yes, they are the Pullman cars of the gypsies," laughed Jack. "Perhaps you wouldn't like them so much inside if you did see them," he added.

"Oh, let's go on," urged Grace at Betty's elbow. "I'm dying to see more of them, even if I am horribly afraid. Just look at all the tents they have put up. They must expect to stay a long time."

The girls' eyes grew wider and wider as they advanced toward the circle of flickering firelight. It seemed they were not the gypsies' only visitors, for there were many residents of Deepdale, some of whom the girls recognized.

The roving folk had set forth their wares upon rudely constructed tables, ready for the first purchaser. Some of the things were truly beautiful--pieces of rare old lace, chains and chains of many-colored beads, silver that was polished till it reflected dazzlingly the dancing firelight. There were rude tents set aside for the telling of fortunes, and somewhere further back in the camp the wild, sweet strains of a violin mingled with a man's sweet tenor voice.

"Some of those fellows surely can sing," Frank remarked. "I'd give a good hundred dollars this minute if I had his voice."

"I wish I could find one for you, Frank," said Grace. "I need the hundred badly."

The young people spent over an hour wandering about the place, enjoying to the full the novelty and the romance of it all.

Just as they had about made up their minds that it was time to go home, Betty, who had exclaimed more than once over the beauty of some of the young gypsy girls, their beauty being emphasized by the picturesque clothes they wore, stepped back to look into a tent they had passed a moment before.

Allen saw his opportunity and was quick to improve it.

"You must be careful how you trot about alone here, Betty. You know----" he began, when she interrupted him.

"Oh, it is!" she said. "It is!"

"What?" asked Allen, mystified.

She drew him back into the shadows before she answered. "I wasn't sure, but now I know," she said. "That's the very old woman who wanted to tell our fortunes at Grace's this afternoon."

"Well, what of it?" he inquired, with an attempt to be reassuring. "She won't hurt you--not while I'm around."

"Oh, but I don't like her looks," and the girl shivered slightly.

"You need your coat, Betty," said Allen. "Where is it?"

"Jack--Mr. Sanford has it. I'll get it."

She started forward, but he laid a restraining hand on her arm. "Betty, Betty," he whispered. "You're not going to keep this up, are you?"

"What do you mean?" she questioned, with an attempt at dignity that was not a very great success.

"You know as well as I do," he answered. "It wasn't my fault. Amy introduced her and I--well, I had to be decent. Betty, don't you know me well enough----"

"Where have you people been anyway?" It was Amy's voice. "We've been looking all over for you."

"Right here, every minute," said Allen cheerily, and the little party started on again. Not, however, before Mollie and Grace had exchanged very significant glances.

The young people turned for a last look at the gypsy rendezvous before a bend in the road shut it from view.

"I've had an awfully good time," said Grace, then added, irrelevantly: "I only hope those gypsies don't steal anything."

"That's a good hope," whispered Allen in Betty's ear. "They are dabsters when it comes to getting away with other people's property."

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