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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Outdoor Girls At Ocean View, Or The Box That Was Found In The Sand - Chapter 22. The Search
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The Outdoor Girls At Ocean View, Or The Box That Was Found In The Sand - Chapter 22. The Search Post by :Riverbraid Category :Long Stories Author :Laura Lee Hope Date :May 2012 Read :3431

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The Outdoor Girls At Ocean View, Or The Box That Was Found In The Sand - Chapter 22. The Search

CHAPTER XXII. THE SEARCH

Grace Ford slowly opened her eyes. Grace seldom did anything in a hurry, not even awakening, and on this occasion, after the little doze that hot summer day, in the grove by the seashore, she was even more dilatory than usual in bringing all her faculties into play.

Lazily enough she glanced over at Mollie, who was still asleep. Grace felt a little sense of elation that she was awake before her friend. She did not look around for Betty or Amy, but, picking up a small pebble, tossed it in Mollie's direction.

Straight and true it went, alighting on the sleeper's nose, which, in spite of the assurance of her friends, Mollie felt was always likely to be classed as "slightly pug."

"Score one for me!" laughed Grace, still lazily, as Mollie sat up with a start. There was nothing slow about Mollie, waking or sleeping.

"What is it? Oh, you! Did you throw that?" she asked, rubbing her nose, on which a little red spot had been raised. Feeling a sting there Mollie opened her bag and gave a hasty glance at the little mirror hidden in one flap.

"You mean thing!" she cried. "And you know how sensitive my skin is!" By this time Mollie had glanced around her, something which Grace had not yet done.

"Why--why," Mollie exclaimed. "Where is Betty--and Amy?"

"Oh, probably off somewhere indulging in athletic stunts for fear they'll lose their figures on account of eating so much lunch," remarked Grace, reaching out her hand toward a box that had held some chocolate almonds.

"But they're not in sight!" declared Mollie. She rose to her feet, and glanced rapidly up and down the beach. "I can't see them anywhere," she went on. "They--could they have gone back and left us sleeping here?"

"Well, we certainly _were sleeping," admitted Grace, with a smile that was lazy--like her drawling words.

"Oh, do be sensible--for once!" exclaimed Mollie, and her tones had a snap to them that made Grace sit up and fairly gasp.

"Why, whatever is the matter, Billy?" she asked in aggrieved accents. "I haven't done anything. And just because Betty and Amy aren't here----"

"That's just it--where are they?" asked Mollie, sharply.

"How should I know?" returned Grace, determined not to be conciliated so easily. "They went off for a walk while we were asleep, I suppose."

"Yes, but unless they went a long distance we ought to be able to see them," Mollie went on. "And they're not in sight--you can see for yourself."

"If they're not in sight I _can't see, Mollie dear," spoke Grace, this time soothingly.

"Oh, do be sensible!" snapped the other. "Stop eating that silly candy, and help me gather up some of these things. I--I wonder what could have happened?"

The manner in which Mollie said this startled Grace as perhaps nothing else could have done.

"Help me up," she begged. "This skirt is so narrow. Oh, Mollie, do you think----" and she paused with frightened eyes, gazing into the more determined ones of her chum.

"I don't know that I think anything--just now," replied Mollie, in rather gentler tones. "I'm afraid I was a bit cross, Grace, but you know, dear it is----"

"A _bit cross! You were positively--horrid. But I forgive you."

"I'm always cross when I wake up suddenly," explained Mollie. "You shouldn't have hit me on the nose, Grace."

"I wouldn't have, had I known you were such a--er--what animal is it that has such a sensitive nose, Mollie?"

"Bear, I guess you mean," Mollie admitted.

"Yes, that's it. Oh, but I did have a nice sleep!" and Grace lazily stretched first one arm and then the other. "But where are Betty and Amy keeping themselves?" she asked.

"That's just what I've been trying to get you to realize," said Mollie. "It's rather strange of them to go so far away."

"Oh, probably Betty wants to get some more shells for those string portiers she is making," Grace said. "Come on, we'll walk down the beach a little way ourselves."

Mollie assented and the two were soon strolling down the strand, looking in advance for a sight of their chums.

But the seashore was deserted, save for the presence of some birds that swooped down now and then to snap up the hopping white insects which made such queer little burrows down in the sand.

A few hundred feet beyond the little grove where the picnic had been held, Mollie and Grace came to a pause.

"I don't see them," Mollie said, and her voice was troubled.

"Nor I," conceded Grace. "Do you suppose they can be hiding to play a joke on us?"

"They might," Mollie admitted. "But they would hardly go so far away."

"Let's look on the other side," proposed Grace. But that beach, of the little arm of land that jutted out into the bay and ocean, showed no sight of Betty and Amy.

"Oh, I--I'm getting--worried," returned practical Mollie. "Nothing could have happened, unless one of them sprained her ankle, or something like that, and can't walk. Even then the beach is so open, and there isn't a place on it that one need fear----"

"Unless it's that old fisherman's hut," broke in Grace.

"Oh," observed Mollie, slowly, and there came a change over her face. "I didn't think of that. Yes, they might----"

She was interrupted by a shrill whistle, as if of some boat. Both girls turned quickly, and the same exclamation came to the lips of both.

"The boys!"

It was the _Pocohontas approaching, and Allen, Roy and Henry waved their hands as they came on swiftly over the blue waters.

"Are they in the boat?" asked Grace.

"Who?" Mollie wanted to know.

"Betty and Amy."

"Why, how could they be?"

"I thought perhaps the boys might have come up while we were asleep, taken Betty and Amy out for a little run, and were now coming back, to laugh at us for being so lazy."

"Well, they're not in the motor boat, anyhow," Mollie said. "I do hope nothing has happened."

Grace did not ask what might possibly have happened. She was just a little afraid of what her chum might say. The sprained ankle theory was too simple. Somehow Grace felt a growing concern.

But, for the present, at least, this was lost sight of in the little excitement over the advent of the boys. They came on, laughing, singing and shouting, while Roy held up a string of fish. Evidently they had had good luck.

The motor boat grounded gently in the shallow water and the boys jumped out, Allen tossing out a light anchor high up on the sand.

"We came to take you home," he announced. "We thought you'd have enough of picnic by this time. Where's Betty?" he asked, quite frankly. Allen was not at all fussy about showing his admiration for the Little Captain.

"Why, it's queer," Mollie replied, smiling just the least bit, "but she and Amy seem to have gone off by themselves. Grace and I dozed, and when we awoke they were gone."

"Probably down the beach," suggested Roy. "How's that for fish?" and he held up the string. But Mollie and Grace were not interested in fish just then.

"We've been looking for them," Mollie went on. "We were looking when--when you came."

Something in her words and manner caused Allen to ask quickly:

"You--you don't think anything could have happened; do you?"

"I--I don't know what to think," Mollie faltered. "It seems--a little strange."

"Oh, we'll find them," declared Henry. "Amy isn't one to go far."

"But Betty is a great walker," Grace ventured.

"Well, we'll find them and all go back in the boat," proposed Allen. "It looks as though we might have a thunder shower. That's why we gave up fishing. Come on, have a look."

It did not take a very long search up and down the beach to disclose the fact that Amy and Betty were nowhere near. The little clump of trees held no hiding place, and unless they had gone inland there was no other explanation except that they had gone back to the cottage.

"And this they would hardly do," said Mollie. "Unless something had happened. Maybe----"

"What?" asked Roy, as she stopped suddenly.

"Oh, nothing," she said in some confusion. "Nothing at all."

"They may have gone over to that fisherman's hut, just to see what it was like," Mollie said. "You know the old woman was always teasing us to come in and have some milk. She may have been more persuasive this time, though Betty couldn't bear her."

"We'll have a look in that direction," suggested Henry.

"Yes, for I don't just like the looks of the weather," added Allen. "Henry and I will go over there," he said. "Roy, you stay here with the girls and help them pack up the things. We may have to make a run for it when we come back with Betty and Amy."

"If you find them," said Mollie, in a low voice--so low that no one heard her.

Allen and Henry set off over toward the sand dunes behind which was hidden the fisherman's shack. Grace, Mollie and Roy began collecting the picnic things.

The young law student and his chum made good time. Nor did they waste any when they reached the lone cabin. A glance up and down the beach showed no trace of the missing ones. In the offing a schooner was slowly sailing away.

"There goes that boat," remarked Allen. "Didn't seem to have any business around here--neither clamming or fishing."

"That's right," agreed Henry. He knocked, and, after waiting a moment, tried the latch. The door swung open, showing the place to be deserted.

"Betty--Amy!" called Allen.

There was no answer. Then with a quick motion Henry darted forward and picked up something from the floor. It was a handkerchief.

"It's my sister's," he said. "They--they've been here!"

He and Allen looked at each other strangely.

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