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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Outdoor Girls On Pine Island - Chapter 9. Pine Island At Last
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The Outdoor Girls On Pine Island - Chapter 9. Pine Island At Last Post by :joebiff Category :Long Stories Author :Laura Lee Hope Date :May 2012 Read :1061

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The Outdoor Girls On Pine Island - Chapter 9. Pine Island At Last

CHAPTER IX. PINE ISLAND AT LAST

The Outdoor Girls and their boy friends made good time for the rest of the journey and it was not quite sundown when they came in sight of the beautiful shores of Lake Tarracusio.

"We will have to leave the automobiles somewhere in town, won't we?" asked Amy, as the two machines drew up side by side for a final consultation.

"Of course," said Grace. "According to Mollie's description of the rickety old steamer I should think it would have all it could do to carry us--let alone the machines."

"There ought to be at least one big garage in town, Frank," Betty suggested. "Let's move along the main street until we find it."

"Nobody asks me for my advice," complained Mollie, in an injured tone. "And I am the most likely one to know about it."

Mollie gave the directions for finding the garage which her aunt had written. A minute later they drew up before the place and tumbled out, bag and baggage, in obedience to Frank's instructions.

While the boys were in the garage talking to the proprietor, the girls had a chance to look about them.

"Isn't it lovely?" cried Mollie delightedly. "It looks just like the little colored pictures of towns they have in the magazines sometimes. The same quaint little frame houses with green shutters and well-kept lawns in front----"

"And flower beds with borders of white shells," Amy finished for her. "I know just what you mean, Mollie; I've seen them myself."

"Girls," said Betty, jumping up from the overturned suitcase she was using for a seat, and speaking impressively, "I have a feeling----" here she paused for effect. "I have a feeling," she continued, "that we are going to have a good time."

"Humph," snorted Mollie. "Why don't you tell us something we don't know?"

"Get off the luggage, you girls!" Will commanded, good-naturedly. "The man in there says we have just exactly five minutes to catch that joke steamer for the island, and if he is right, we've got to hustle. Sling over that bag, Sis, will you?"

"With the greatest of pleasure," said Grace. "But will somebody kindly tell me how we are going to make that boat in five minutes?"

"By running like the very wind," Frank declared, and, picking up two suitcases in one hand, he propelled Grace down the street with the other. "Please hurry," he urged. "Never mind about your hats, girls. It will soon be so dark nobody will be able to see them."

"Shall we give them a race?" asked Allen of Betty, as they prepared to follow Roy, who had taken both Mollie and their gay little chaperon in tow.

"Let's," said Betty with dancing eyes. "Nobody knows us here and I wouldn't care if they did--better people than you and I have run for boats before, Allen."

"Oh, I don't know," he said, argumentatively. "Just as good, possibly, but never better."

"All right, have it your own way," she laughed. "Now do we begin? One--two--three--come on. We'll beat them even with the head start."

Off they raced, light and graceful and buoyantly alive. It was no task at all to overtake Roy, who was hampered by gasping little Mrs. Irving--who, although young, was not--_so young. Next came Amy and Will, running easily, but Allen and Betty passed them as if they had been standing still.

"Oh, you will, will you?" Will shouted as they went by. "We'll see about that. What do you say, Amy, more speed?"

"Sure," said game little Amy. "I can go lots faster than this." So the two quickened their pace, but Betty and Allen were on wings, and, try as they might, they could not lessen the space between.

"Oh, well, we don't want to beat them anyway, do we?" said Will, when they had to give up.

"No, we wouldn't think of taking the fun from them," she panted, and they both laughed merrily.

Meanwhile the two champion runners had overtaken Grace and Frank and had started on the last lap to the wharf.

"There's the little steamer now, Allen!" gasped Betty. "Oh, do you think it will go without us?" As if for answer the whistle on the curious old ferry shrieked a warning to all would-be voyagers to Pine Island.

Allen's hand tightened its grasp of Betty's arm. "Are you game for one last spurt?" he asked her. "We may be able to make it."

Betty nodded her head, for just then breath was precious and not to be wasted in idle words. Silently, the two called on their splendid reserve strength, while arm in arm they sped along the shore to the dock. They reached it just in the nick of time.

"Hold on there, will you?" shouted Allen, with what he had left of his breath. "The rest of the party will be up in a minute."

True to his prophecy, in a moment's time the entire company was assembled on the ancient dock, tired and out of breath, but happy to be there nevertheless.

"You two are some classy little speed merchants," remarked Frank, slangily, while he regarded the pair thus designated with profound admiration. "I never knew two people could run so fast before."

"So this is the steamer!" said Grace, as soon as she could find breath enough to speak at all. "It does justify your aunt's description, Mollie, although it doesn't look quite so rickety as I expected."

"Probably she will look lots worse in the daylight," Will prophesied cheerfully. "Say, folks, what do you say to our making ourselves comfortable? We have quite some ride before us; eh, Mollie?"

"About half an hour's _sail_," corrected Mollie. "You _ride in an automobile, but you _sail in a boat."

"I don't see why ride isn't just as appropriate as sail in this case," said Will, sitting on a suitcase beside Amy, with his back against the rail, prepared to argue the point. "Especially since this old tub has never known a sail."

"Betty," Frank said, turning to that young person who was gazing dreamily out over the water, "what did they put in that basket when we stopped at the hotel this afternoon?"

"What?" she said, bringing her mind down to every-day things with an effort. "Oh, the basket! I wouldn't dare tell you that," she added, with sudden animation. "Boys, boys, if you could only see inside--if you only could--oh, how your mouths would water!"

"Just think," said Grace, tragically. "Here we have everything that goes to make up a romantic sail----"

"What, for instance?" Roy demanded. "If you call a leaky old ferryboat with the weather so damp that you can't touch the rail without feeling as if you have had a dip in the briny--if that's what you call romantic, then give me a good open fire and plenty of chicken bones to gnaw."

"Oh," said Betty in sorrow, shaking her head at the depths to which the boys had fallen. "Frank, I would never have thought it of you. Just the same," she added, in a stage whisper, "I wouldn't mind having a couple of them myself."

"Betty, Betty," Allen reproved her. "I thought----"

"Oh, Mollie, look there," cried Betty, pulling her friend towards her and indicating an indistinct shadowy bulk looming eerily before them. "Mollie, dear, that's the island, isn't it? I can't wait until I put my two feet on it."

"Oh, I wish we could see an inch before our noses!" said Grace impatiently. "I can't make out a single blessed thing."

"Probably going to rain some more," said Frank consolingly. "Never mind, Grace, whenever your heart begins to fail you, just think of--what, fellows?"

"Chicken!" they shouted, with one voice.

"You don't know you are going to get any, yet," Betty declared. "If I remember rightly, Frank is the only one who said anything about it, and he doesn't know what he is talking about."

"Betty, don't be heartless," Allen implored. "Is there or is there not a fowl in that basket?"

"There is!" she answered in solemn tones.

"Hoorah!" shouted Will. "Three cheers for the good old bird!"

As he spoke the little steamer scraped against the dock that was almost invisible to those on deck, then came to a full stop. The shrill whistle which Roy contemptuously characterized as a joke, broke the misty stillness with a shriek, that echoed and re-echoed, thrown back upon itself by some distant cave or hillside on the island.

"Goodness! I wouldn't mind a nice fire myself," said Mollie, shivering with something a little more than cold. There was something mysterious about this island, shrouded as it was in the clinging mist--something that made the girls draw close together for companionship. "I hope it will be more cheerful in the daytime--the island, I mean, not the fire," she added.

"Girls," cried Betty, "this looks like a regular adventure island. Maybe we'll find the gypsies here."

"Oh, don't," shivered Amy. "Don't talk about gypsies--until daylight, at least."

"Here comes the rain!" Roy shouted. "We'll have to hurry some, if we want to beat it to the house. Here, Will, take hold of this bag. Quick, I can't carry more than three at a time."

"Give it to Allen," Will advised, as they tumbled out on the tiny wharf. "I have more than my share already."

"Oh, all right," said Allen, "I'll be the goat. How about it, Betty--shall we give them another race? It looks as if a little speed would come in handy."

"No, let Mollie lead this time. I hope she knows the way."

"Of course I do," said Mollie, coming up behind them. "There isn't any way to find. The house is at the end of the wharf. Follow us and----"

"You'll get something to eat," Roy finished for her. "We have the basket."

"Then you needn't worry about our following you," said Allen. "Only if you don't look out we will get there before you after all. Come on, Betty," and for the second time that day the young folks had a chance to test their skill in running. The main thing was that they got there before the rain.

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