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Title: Wyn's Camping Days - or, The Outing of the Go-Ahead Club
Author: Marlowe, Amy Bell
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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WYN'S CAMPING DAYS



BOOKS FOR GIRLS

By AMY BELL MARLOWE

12mo. Cloth. Illustrated. Price per volume, 75 cents, postpaid

THE OLDEST OF FOUR
  Or Natalie's Way Out

THE GIRLS OF HILLCREST FARM
  Or the Secret of the Rocks

A LITTLE MISS NOBOBY
  Or With the Girls of Pinewood Hall

THE GIRL FROM SUNSET RANCH
  Or Alone in a Great City

WYN'S CAMPING DAYS
  Or The Outing of Go-Ahead Club

FRANCES OF THE RANGES
  Or The Old Ranchman's Treasure

THE GIRLS OF RIVERCLIFF SCHOOL
  Or Beth Baldwin's Resolve

GROSSET & DUNLAP

PUBLISHERS--NEW YORK



[Illustration: IT DID SEEM, BECAUSE THEY WERE IN A HURRY, THAT
EVERYTHING WENT WRONG. _Frontispiece (Page 80)._]



WYN'S CAMPING DAYS

OR

THE OUTING OF THE GO-AHEAD CLUB

BY

AMY BELL MARLOWE

AUTHOR OF
THE OLDEST OF FOUR, THE GIRL FROM SUNSET RANCH,
A LITTLE MISS NOBODY, ETC.

Illustrated

NEW YORK

GROSSET & DUNLAP

PUBLISHERS



Copyright, 1914, by

GROSSET & DUNLAP

Wyn's Camping Days



CONTENTS

  Chapter                                                     Page
       I. THE GO-AHEAD CLUB                                      1
      II. THE BUSTERS                                           12
     III. POLLY                                                 20
      IV. THE SILVER IMAGES                                     34
       V. BESSIE LAVINE                                         49
      VI. OFF FOR THE LAKE                                      55
     VII. THE STORM BREAKS                                      71
    VIII. AT WINDMILL FARM                                      83
      IX. JOHN JARLEY, EXILE                                    94
       X. THE "HAPPY DAY"                                      104
      XI. WHERE THE ACCIDENT HAPPENED                          120
     XII. AN OVERTURN                                          129
    XIII. A SERIOUS ADVENTURE                                  144
     XIV. THE REPULSE                                          150
      XV. TROUBLE "BRUIN"                                      161
     XVI. TIT FOR TAT                                          171
    XVII. VISITORS                                             188
   XVIII. THE REGATTA                                          198
     XIX. UNDER WHITE WINGS                                    207
      XX. THE CANOE RACE                                       213
     XXI. THE WAY OF THE WIND                                  224
    XXII. THE PRISONERS OF THE TOWER                           232
   XXIII. WYN HITS SOMETHING                                   240
    XXIV. THE NIGHT ALARM                                      248
     XXV. THE STRANGE BATEAU                                   258
    XXVI. THE BOYS TO THE RESCUE                               267
   XXVII. IS IT THE "BRIGHT EYES"?                             278
  XXVIII. A FRIEND IN NEED                                     288
    XXIX. THE SUNKEN TREASURE                                  296
     XXX. STRIKING CAMP                                        306



WYN'S CAMPING DAYS



CHAPTER I

THE GO-AHEAD CLUB


"Oh, girls! such news!" cried Wynifred Mallory, banging open the door of
Canoe Lodge, and bringing into the living room a big breath of the cool
May air, which drew out of the open fireplace a sudden balloon of smoke,
setting the other members of the Go-Ahead Club there assembled coughing.

Grace Hedges, who was acting as fireman that week, turned an exasperated
face, with a bar of smut across it, exclaiming:

"If another soul comes in that door and creates a back-draught until
this fire gets to burning properly, I certainly shall have hysterics! I
never did see such a mean old thing to burn."

"Never mind, Gracie. We're all here now--all six of us. There are no
more Go-Aheads to come," observed Bessie Lavine, yawning over her book
in the only sunny corner of the room.

"There! it's burning--finally," exclaimed Grace, with blended disgust
and thankfulness. "I never was cut out for a fireman, girls."

"Poor Gracie," purred Wyn, who had approached the blaze that was now
beginning to curl through the hickory sticks piled more or less
scientifically against the backlog. "Don't you know it needed just that
back-draught to break the deadlock in the chimney and start your fire
crackling this way?"

"Bah! it was just hateful," grumbled Grace. "I hate fire making. And it
does seem as though my week for playing fireman comes around twice as
often as it should." Wyn had moved rather too near to the darting
flames, and Grace suddenly pulled the captain of the club aside.
"_Don't_ stand so near, Silly!" she cried.

"Fireman! save my che-ild!" wailed "Frank" Cameron, coming forward and
winding her long arms around Wynifred. "What's the news, Wyn, dear?
Nobody had the politeness to ask you. Wherefore all the excitement?"

"There must be a strike at the blacksmith shop," said Percy Havel, a
curly-headed blonde girl.

"No!" cried Frank, with a droll twist of her rather homely features.
"I'll wager they've laid off one of the hands of the town clock.
Business is dreadfully dull. I heard my father say so."

She was a tall, lanky girl, was Frances Cameron, with a great mass of
blue-black hair and flashing black eyes. She was thin, strong, and
lacking in those soft curves of budding womanhood which girls of her age
usually display. "Straight up and down, my dears," she often said.
"Built upon the most approved clothespin plan, with every bone
perfectly--not to say generously--developed."

"Well," said Wyn, laughing, "if you girls will give me a chance I will
divulge my news."

"Be still!" commanded Frank. "The oracle speaks."

"Oh, hurry up, Wyn!" exclaimed Percy, coming nearer the group before the
now roaring fire. "I've been dying to tell them."

"Well, girls," said Wyn, smiling, so that her brown eyes fairly danced.
"Mrs. Havel--Percy's aunt--says she will go."

"Fine!" exclaimed Frankie.

"You don't mean it, Wyn?" gasped Mina Everett. "Then we really
_can_ go camping?"

"And to Lake Honotonka?" put in Bessie.

"That's what we aimed to do; wasn't it?" demanded Wyn, laughing. "And
when the Go-Ahead Club starts to do a thing, it usually arrives; doesn't
it?"

"At least, the captain arrives for them," said Frank, giving Wyn's arm a
little squeeze. "We wouldn't get far in our 'go-ahead' plans if it
wasn't for you, Wynnie."

"Such flattery!" protested the captain.

"You didn't have an easy time convincing my mother--I know that," said
Mina, shaking _her_ head. "You know, she's so afraid of water."

"And my mother is afraid of high winds," confessed Bessie. "Wyn had to
coax to bring her around."

"And of course, Gracie's mother is afraid of fire," chuckled Frank; "and
there you have the three elements. You can plainly see that Gracie knows
very little about fire. She never built one in her life until we formed
our camping club."

"Oh, well," observed Grace, trying to rub the smut off her face with a
handkerchief and the aid of a pocket-mirror, "this is about the end of
the fire season, thank goodness! If we go into camp after school closes,
on Lake Honotonka, there won't be any fires to build."

"Oh, _won't_ there?" cried Bessie. "You just wait. Instead of
taking turns at being fireman for the week, as we do through the winter,
we'll draw lots to see who shall build _all_ the fires. And you
know very well, Gracie, that you always _are_ unlucky."

"Sure she is," agreed Frank. "She always draws the very boobiest of all
booby prizes out of the grab-bag."

"Oh, dear me!" wailed Grace, who was big, and handsome, and not a little
lazy, "I do so hate to work, too. If there had been another set of girls
I liked at Denton Academy, I'd never have joined the Go-Ahead Club."

"Right. Gracie is better fitted for a Fall-Behind Club," observed Wyn.

"But tell us, Wynnie," begged Mina. "Is it really all arranged? Has
everybody agreed that we can go in our canoes to Lake Honotonka?"

"And stay all vacation if we like?" cried Percy.

"That is the understanding," Wyn assured them. "Percy's aunt is the very
kindest lady who ever was----"

"Vote we buy her something nice," interposed Frank.

"That will come in due season," Wyn continued. "But Mrs. Havel went with
me to all our people. She knows all about the place, of course----"

"So does my father," interposed Bessie.

"And he wasn't hard to convince," Wyn responded. "Of course, there are
wild nooks along Honotonka's shores; but at the upper end is Braisely
Park, where all those rich folks live; and there's the village of
Meade's Forge at this end of the lake. We can get supplies, or a doctor,
or send a telephone message, easily enough. And what more does one
want--camping out?"

"We'll have just a lovely time!" sighed Bessie. "I can hardly wait for
school to close."

"A month and a half yet," said Frank Cameron. "And every day will seem
longer than the one that preceded it. But then! when it does come----"

"Just think of living under canvas--and for weeks and weeks! It almost
makes me feel spooky," declared Grace, beginning to grow enthusiastic.

These girls, all attending Denton Academy and living within the limits
of that town, being the daughters of fairly well-to-do parents, had been
able to enjoy many advantages as well as pleasures that poorer girls
could not have; but none of them had chanced to experience the joys of a
vacation in the woods.

During the preceding autumn they had become immensely interested in
canoeing. Denton was situated upon the beautiful, winding Wintinooski,
and the six members of the Go-Ahead Club had taken several Saturday
cruises on the river. But never had they gone as far up the stream as
Lake Honotonka.

That was a wide and beautiful sheet of water, thirty-five miles to the
west of the town of Denton. Their boy friends had sometimes been allowed
to go camping upon the shores of the lake; and their enthusiastic praise
of the fun to be had under canvas had set Wynifred Mallory and her chums
"just wild," as Frank Cameron expressed it, to try it too.

Wyn was a girl of determination and physical as well as moral courage.
If she made up her mind that a thing was right, and she wanted it, she
usually got it.

When the girls first broached their desire to spend the summer at the
big lake, and actually live under canvas, not one of their parents
encouraged the idea. Because the "Busters," a certain boys' club of the
girls' friends, were going to the lake again for the long vacation, made
no difference to the mothers and fathers--especially the mothers of Wyn
and her chums of the Go-Ahead Club.

"It's no use," Bessie Lavine had reported, at their first meeting after
the idea was born in Canoe Lodge, as the girls called their novel
boathouse overhanging the bank of a quiet pool of the Wintinooski. "Even
father won't hear of it. Six girls going alone into the wilds----"

"But the Busters and Professor Skillings will be near our camp," Frank
had cried. "That's what I told mother. But she couldn't see it."

Wyn had listened at that meeting to the opinions of all the other
girls--and to their hopeless and disappointed complaints as well--and
then she had taken the whole burden on her own shoulders.

"Don't you say another word at home about it, girls--any of you," she
said. "Leave it to me. Our idea of living for the summer in the open is
a good one. We'll come back to school in the fall with ginger and health
enough to keep us going like dynamos during the next school year."

"But you can't make my mother see that," wailed Percy. "She only sees
the snakes, and mosquitoes, and tramps, and big winds, and drowning, and
I don't know but she visualizes earthquake shocks and volcanoes!"

"Give me a chance," said Wyn.

"Voted!" Frankie declared. "When Wyn sets out to do a thing we might as
well give her her head. She's like Davy Crockett; and I hope all our
folks will come down without being shot, like the historic 'coon."

And this present declaration of their captain, which had so aroused the
Go-Ahead Club, was the result of Wyn Mallory's exertions.

She had first obtained the interest and cooperation of Percy's Aunt
Evelyn, who was a widowed lady fond of outdoor life herself. Mrs. Havel
was to act as chaperone. With this addition to their forces, the girls
stood a much better chance to win over their parents to their plan.

And finally Wyn had gained the permission of the most obdurate parent.
The cruise of the Go-Ahead Club in their canoes to Lake Honotonka, and
their camping for the summer at some available spot along the lake
shore, was decided upon.

"And are the Busters going?" asked Frank. "That's the next important
matter."

"Oh, we can get along without those boys, I guess," scoffed Bessie.

"Yes, I know. We don't need 'em. And they are a great nuisance
sometimes," admitted Frank, laughing. "But just the same, we'll have
lots more fun with them around--especially Dave Shepard--eh, Wynnie?"

"I don't see that you need _me_ to witness the truth of your
statement, Frank," returned Wyn, flushing very prettily, for the girls
sometimes teased her about Dave, who was her next-door neighbor. "Of
course we want the boys, even if Bess is a man-hater."

"I guess they'll go," Frank said. "They liked it so much last year. And
the professor is interested in the geological specimens to be found up
that way."

"Goodness!" exclaimed Mina. "Is Professor Skillings going with them
again? He is so odd."

"He's very absent-minded," said Bessie.

Frank began to laugh again. "Say!" she began, "did you hear about what
happened to him last week? Father met him coming down Lane Street--you
know, it's narrow and the sidewalk in places is scarcely wide enough for
two people to pass comfortably.

"There was poor Professor Skillings hobbling along with one foot
continually in the gutter, his eyes fixed on a book he was reading as he
walked. Father said to him:

"'Good morning, Professor! How are you feeling to-day?'

"'Why--why--why!' exclaimed the professor--you know his funny way of
speaking. 'Why--why--why--I was very well when I started out, I thought.
But I don't know what's come over me. Do you know, I've developed a
pronounced limp since leaving the house!'"

"Well, the boys like him," Wyn said, when the girls' laughter had
subsided.

"I thought I saw Dave Shepard and that 'Tubby' Blaisdell around here
when I hurried down from school to light the fire," remarked Grace.

At that moment a strange, scraping sound was heard right above the
girls' heads. Bess and Mina jumped up.

"What's that?" cried Grace.

"It's something on the roof," declared Wyn.

Now, Canoe Lodge was built on a high bank over the river. One stepped
from the level sward into the living room. The roof on one side was a
short, sharp pitch; but over the river it ran out in a long, easy slope
to shelter the canoe landing.

Suddenly there was a crash, and the very house shook. There was a wheezy
shout of alarm, the sound of another voice in wild laughter, and some
heavy body slid down the long side of the roof with the noise of an
avalanche.

"The Busters!" shrieked Percy, and ran to a window overlooking the
river.



CHAPTER II

THE BUSTERS


The girls could overlook the lower slope of the long roof through the
bay window at the end of the living room. They crowded to it after Percy
Havel, and beheld a most amazing as well as ridiculous sight.

A very fat youth, in a blue and white striped sweater and with a
closely-cropped yellow head, was face down upon a length of plank, which
plank was sliding like a bobsled down the incline of green-stained
shingles.

"It's Tubby!" gasped Frank Cameron.

"Oh! oh! oh!" squealed Mina. "Is he doing that for _fun_?"

Before any further comment could be made, the boy on the plank shot out
over the edge of the roof and dived, with a mighty splash, into the deep
water of the pool, adjoining which Canoe Lodge was built.

"He'll be drowned!" cried Grace, wringing her plump hands.

"It'll serve him right if he is!" exclaimed Bessie. "What business had
he on our roof, I want to know?"

"Poor Tubby!" cried Wyn, choked with laughter.

"Isn't he the most ridiculous creature that ever was?" rejoined Frank.
"See there! he's come up to blow like a frog."

"It's a whale that comes up to blow," Wyn reminded her.

"Well! isn't Tubby Blaisdell a regular whale of a boy?" returned the
black-eyed girl.

"There's Dave!" cried Mina.

"I knew the two wouldn't be far apart!" sniffed Bess Lavine.

"He's got a boat and is going to Tubby's rescue," cried Grace.

"But see Tubby flounder around!" Frankie observed. "Why! that boy
couldn't sink if you filled his pockets with flatirons!"

"There! he _is_ going under," ejaculated the more timorous Mina.

"Dave will get him, all right," declared Wyn, with confidence.

She and Dave Shepard had been good chums since they were both in
rompers. Her girl friends might tease Wyn sometimes about Dave; but the
girl had no brothers and Dave made up the loss to her in every way.

"Oh! he's going to spear him with that boathook!" gasped Mina again.

And really, it looked so. Tubby Blaisdell was splashing about in the
pool before the canoe landing like a young grampus. Tubby was always
getting into more or less serious predicaments, and he always "lost his
head" and usually had to be aided by his friends.

In this case Dave Shepard prepared to literally spear him in the water.
Dave--who was a tall, athletic boy, with a frank, pleasant face, if
freckled, and close-cut brown curls in profusion--had driven the
flat-bottomed skiff he had obtained from a neighboring landing, across
the pool, and now, standing erect in the boat, with a single lunge
impaled upon the boathook the tail of Tubby's coat.

His chum was going down, as Dave thrust the boathook; for the
unfortunate victim of the accident had swallowed a quantity of water
when he dived with the plank from the eaves of the roof of Canoe Lodge.
There was no time to lose if Dave wished to rescue Tubby before serious
injury resulted to the unfortunate fat youth.

It was something of a feat to bring Tubby Blaisdell alongside the skiff
and haul him inboard without overturning the boat. But Dave accomplished
it to the admiration of the girls--even to Bessie's satisfaction.

"Well, I'm glad he got Tubby out," said that damsel, nodding her head.

"Glad to know that you are so humane, Bess," laughed Frank.

The girls trooped out to learn at closer range if the Blaisdell youth
was really injured or only exhausted.

He lay panting like a big fish in the bottom of the skiff. It was
altogether too cold an evening for him to be exposed in his wet
clothing. When the skiff's nose bumped into the shore, Dave Shepard
leaped out with alacrity and secured the painter to a post.

"Get up out of there, Tubby!" he commanded. "You'll get your death of
dampness. Come on!"

"Oh--oh--oh! I can't," chattered the fat youth. "I--I'm fr-roze to the
ve-ry mar-row of m-m-my bones!"

"The chill has struck in awful deep, then, Tubby," cried Frank Cameron,
from the river bank.

"Come on out of that!" commanded Dave. "I'm going to run you home so
that you will not get cold."

"Me?" chattered Blaisdell, rising like a turtle out of its shell. "Run
me home? Wh-wh-why, I c-c-couldn't do it. You know I couldn't r-r-run
that far, Dave."

"He must go right in by our fire and get warm," declared Wyn, quickly.
"Get your things, girls, and we'll all go home and leave Dave and Tubby
to enjoy that nice fire Grace built."

"That wet boy all over our nice rug!" exclaimed Bessie. "I object."

"Don't be hateful, Bess," admonished Grace.

"But what was he doing on our roof?" demanded the girl who claimed that
she did not like boys.

At this Dave burst into a great laugh and was scarcely able to drag
Tubby ashore.

"It's a wonder he didn't come right through on our heads," complained
Frank. "He's so heavy."

"But he _would_ do it," declared Dave, still laughing as he helped
his fat friend up the bank to the door of Canoe Lodge. "It would have
been a real good trick, too, if Tubby hadn't slipped."

"Always up to mischief!" sniffed Bessie Lavine. "That's why I dislike
boys so."

"I don't see what he could do on our roof," said Wyn, wonderingly.

"And he had no business there!" cried Grace.

"Why," explained Dave, for Tubby could not defend himself. "We saw Grace
making the fire, and we knew the wood was green. It made a big smudge
coming out of the chimney, and Tubby thought he had a brilliant idea."

"I know!" exclaimed Frankie. "He had that plank to put over the top of
our chimney. We'd have been smoked out, sure enough."

"That's it," chuckled Dave. "Tubby got up all right, and he got the
plank up all right. But just as he tried to lift the plank to the top of
the chimney his foot slipped, the board dropped, he fell on it as if he
was coasting down hill, and--you saw the rest!"

"Oh--oh!" chattered Tubby. "Come on in and let me get--get to--to
th-that f-f-fire. I'm _frozen_!"

"Here's the key, Dave," said Wyn, laughing (for the fat youth _did_
look so funny), "and you can lock up when you go home and bring the key
to my house. Don't you boys make a mess in here for us to clean up," she
added.

"But they will. Boys always do," declared Bessie Lavine.

"Well, thank goodness, it won't be _my_ turn to clean up after
them, or make another fire," declared Grace.

"They will do no damage," returned Wyn, with assurance, as the girls
trooped away from the boathouse toward the town.

"They have to keep their camp clean," declared Frank. "I know that.
Professor Skillings may be forgetful; but he is very particular about
_that_. Ferdinand Roberts told me so."

"I expect those horrid Busters _do_ know a lot more than we do
about camping."

"Indeed they do," sighed Grace. "How'll we ever put up a tent big enough
to house seven?"

"The boys will help us," declared Wyn.

"I expect we'll have to let them," grumbled Bess. "Or else pay a man to
do it for us."

"My goodness me!" laughed Frances Cameron. "It must be a dreadful thing
to hate boys like Bess does! They're awfully bad sometimes, I know----"

"Look at what those two boys tried to do to us this very evening,"
exclaimed Bessie.

"Oh, Tubby's always up to some foolishness," said Percy, laughing.

"And that Dave Shepard is just as bad!" cried Bess Lavine, tossing her
head.

"Wyn won't agree with that statement," chuckled Frank.

"And all six of the Busters are full of mischief," went on the
complaining one. "I wish they were not going to the same place we are to
camp."

"Why, Bess!" exclaimed Mina.

"I _do_ wish that. They'll be around under foot all the time. And
they'll play tricks, and be rough and rude, and I know they will spoil
the summer for us."

"You go on!" came from Frank, with some scorn. "I guess I can hold up my
end against the Busters."

"Just wait and see," prophesied Bessie, shaking her head. "I feel very
sure that, the Busters and the Go-Ahead Club will not get along well
together at Lake Honotonka."

"It takes two parties for an argument," said Wyn Mallory, quietly. "And
in spite of their mischief I believe in the Busters."

"Wait and see if what I say isn't true!" snapped Bessie, and turned off
into a side street toward her own home.



CHAPTER III

POLLY


Wyn Mallory was one of those girls whom people called "different."

Not that there was a thing really odd about her. She was happy, healthy,
more than a little athletic, of a sanguine temperament, and possessed a
deal of tact for a girl of her age.

But there was a quality in her character that balanced her better than
most girls are. That foundation of good sense on which only can be
erected a lasting character, was Wyn's. She was just as girlish and
"fly-away" at times, as Frances Cameron herself, or Percy Havel; but she
always stopped short of hurting another person's feelings and she seemed
to really enjoy doing things for others, which her mates sometimes
acclaimed as "tiresome."

And don't think there was a mite of self-consciousness about all this in
Wyn Mallory's make-up, for there wasn't. She enjoyed being helpful and
kind because that was her nature--not for the praise she might receive
from her older friends.

Wyn was a natural leader. Such girls always are. Without asserting
themselves, other girls will look up to them, and copy them, and follow
them. Whereas a bad, or ill-natured, or haughty girl must have some
means of bribing the weak-minded ones to gain a following at all.

The Mallory family was a small one. Wyn had a little sister; but there
was a difference of twelve years between them. The family was a very
affectionate one, and Papa Mallory, Mamma Mallory, and Wyn all
worshipped at the shrine of little May.

So when at supper that Friday evening something was said about certain
drygoods needed for the little one, Wyn offered at once to spend her
Saturday forenoon shopping.

She had plenty to do that morning; Saturday morning is always a busy
time for any school girl in the upper grades, and Wyn was well advanced
at Denton Academy. But she hastened out by nine o'clock and went down
town.

Denton was a pretty town, with good stores, a courthouse, well stocked
library and several churches of various denominations. In the center was
an ancient Parade Ground--a broad, well-shaped public park, with a huge
flagstaff in the middle of the main field, and Civil War cannon flanking
the entrances.

Denton had a history. On this open field the Minute Men had marched and
counter-marched; and before Revolutionary days, even, the so-called
"train-bands" had paraded here. Like Boston Common, Denton's Parade
Ground was a plot devoted for all time to the people, and could be used
for no other purpose but that of a public park.

The streets that bordered the three sides of the Parade Ground (for it
was of flat-iron shape) were the best residential streets of the town;
yet Market Street--the main business thoroughfare--was only a square
away from one side of the park.

Wyn Mallory on this bright May morning walked briskly along the shaded
side of the park and turned off at Archer Street to reach the main stem
of the town, where the shops stood in rows and the electric cars to
Maynbury had the right of way in the middle of the street.

Her very first call was at Mr. Erad's drygoods and notion store. His
shop was much smaller than some of the modern "department" stores that
had of late appeared in Denton; but the old store held the conservative
trade. Mr. Erad had been in trade, at this very corner, from the time he
was a smooth-faced young man; and now his hair and beard were almost
white.

He was a pleasant, cheerful--and usually charitable--gentleman, with
rosy cheeks and gold-rimmed spectacles. He spent most of his time "on
the floor," greeting old customers, attracting new ones with his
courtesy, and generally overseeing the salesmen.

He usually had a pleasant word and a hand-shake for Wyn when she entered
his store; but this morning the old gentleman did not even notice her as
she came through one of the turnstile doors.

He stood near, however, speaking with a girl of about Wyn's age--a girl
who was a total stranger to the captain of the Go-Ahead Club. The
stranger was rather poorly dressed. She wore shabby gloves, and a shabby
hat, and shabby shoes. Besides, both her dark frock and the hat were
"ages and ages" behind the fashion.

Her clothes were really so ugly that the girl herself did not have a
chance to look her best. Wyn realized that after the second glance. And
she saw that the strange girl was almost handsome.

She was as big as Grace Hedges; but she was dark. Her hair was
beautifully crinkled where it lay flat against the sides of her head
over her ears. At the back there was a great roll, and it was glossy and
well cared-for. Even a girl who cannot afford to dress in the mode can
make her hair beautiful by a little effort.

This girl had made that effort and, furthermore, she had made herself as
neat as anyone need be.

In addition to her beautiful hair, the stranger's other attractions can
be enumerated as a long, well formed nose, well defined eyebrows and
long lashes, and deep gray eyes that looked almost black in the shade of
her broad brow. Her skin was lovely, although she was very much bronzed
by the sun. A rose-flush showed through this tan and aided her red, full
lips to give color to her face. Her teeth were two splendid, perfect
rows of dazzling white; her chin was beautifully molded. This fully
developed countenance was lit by intelligence, as well, and, with her
well rounded figure and gentle, deprecating manner, Wyn thought of her
instantly as a big helpless child.

Mr. Erad was speaking very sternly to her, and that, alone, made Wyn
desire to take her part. She could not bear to hear anybody scold a
person so timid and humble. And at every decisive phrase Mr. Erad
uttered, Wyn could see her wince.

"I cannot do it. I do not see why I should," declared the storekeeper.
"Indeed, there are many reasons why I should not. Yes--I know. I
employed John Jarley at one time. But that was years ago. He would not
stay with me. He was always trying something new. And he never stuck to
a thing long enough for either he--or anybody else--to find out whether
he was fitted for it or not.

"Hold on! I take that back. I guess there's _one_ man in town,"
said Mr. Erad, with almost a snarl, "who thinks John Jarley stuck long
enough on one job."

Wyn, frankly listening, but watching the girl and Mr. Erad covertly, saw
the former's face flame hotly at the shot. But her murmured reply was
too low for Wyn to hear.

"Ha! I know nothing was ever proved against him. But decent people know
the other party, and know that he is square. John Jarley got out of town
and stayed out of town. That was enough to show everybody that he felt
guilty."

"You are wrong, sir," said the dark girl, her voice trembling, but
audible now in her strong emotion. "You are wrong. It was my mother's
ill health that took us into the woods. And the ill-natured gossip of
the neighbors--just such things as you have now repeated--troubled my
mother, too. So father took us away from it all."

"If he was honest, he made a great mistake in running away at that
time," asserted Mr. Erad.

"No, he made no mistake," returned the girl, her fine eyes flashing. "He
did the right thing. He saved my mother agony, and made her last years
beautiful. My father did no wrong in either case, sir."

"Well, well, well!" snapped Mr. Erad. "I cannot discuss the matter with
you. We should not agree, I am sure. And I can do nothing for you."

"Wait, please! give me a chance! Let me work for you to pay for these
things we need. I will work faithfully----"

"I have no place for you."

"Oh, sir----"

"My goodness, girl! _No_, I tell you. Isn't that enough? Beside,
you are not well dressed enough to wait upon my customers. And you could
not earn enough here to pay your board, dress decently, and pay for any
bill of goods that you--or your father--may want."

The girl turned away. There was a bit of dingy veiling attached to the
front of her old-fashioned hat, and Wyn saw her pull this down quickly
over her face. The listener knew _why_, and she had to wink her own
eyes hard to keep back the tears.

She deliberately turned her back upon old Mr. Erad, whom she was usually
so glad to see, and went hastily down the aisle. From her distant
station by the notion counter she saw the drooping figure of the strange
girl leave the store.

Wyn Mallory was worried. She could not see a forlorn cat on the street,
or a homeless dog shivering beside a garbage can, that she was not
tempted to "do something for it."

Dave Shepard often laughingly said that it was an adventure to go
walking with Wyn Mallory, One never knew what she was going to see that
needed "fixing." And Dave might have added, that if Wyn had him for
escort, she usually got these wrong things "fixed."

She now hastened through her purchasing, not with any definite object in
view, save that she wanted to get out of the store. Mr. Erad was not at
all the nice, charitable man whom she had always supposed him to be.
That is, it looked so now to the impulsive, warm-hearted girl.

Her mind was fixed upon the strange girl and her troubles. Wyn did not
neglect the errand her mother had given her to do, although she hurried
her shopping.

When she was out of the store, she drew a long breath. "I couldn't
breathe in that place--not well," she told herself. "I wonder where that
poor girl has gone now?"

There was nobody to answer her, nor was the strange girl in sight. Wyn
felt rather remorseful that she had not let her shopping wait and
followed the strange girl out of the store immediately.

The stranger might have been in desperate straits. Wyn could not imagine
anybody begging for goods, and for work, especially after the way Mr.
Erad had spoken, unless in great trouble.

Wyn began to take herself seriously to task. The strange girl had
disappeared and she had not even tried to help her, or comfort her.

"I might have gone out and offered some little help, or sympathy. How do
I know what will become of her? And she may have no friends in town. At
least, it is evident that she does not live here."

There were several other errands to do. All the time, especially while
she was on the street, she kept her eye open for the strange girl whose
name she presumed must be "Jarley."

[Illustration: "MY DEAR, I WILL BE YOUR FRIEND." _Page 30._]
But Wyn did not see her anywhere, and it seemed useless to wander down
Market Street looking for her. So, when she had completed her purchases,
she turned her face homeward.

She went up past Mr. Erad's store again and turned through Archer
Street. As she crossed into the park she looked for a settee to rest on,
for unconsciously she had walked more briskly than usual.

There, under a wide-limbed oak, was a green-painted seat, removed from
any other settee; but there was a figure on it.

"There's room for two, I guess," thought Wyn; and then she made a
discovery that almost made her cry out aloud. Its occupant was the very
girl for whom she was in search!

Wyn controlled her impulse to run forward, and approached the bench
quite casually. Before she reached it, however, she realized that the
dark girl was crying softly.

Natural delicacy would have restrained Wyn from approaching the girl so
abruptly. Only, she was deeply interested, and already knowing the
occasion for her tears, the captain of the Go-Ahead Club could not
ignore the forlorn figure on the bench.

Without speaking, she dropped into the seat beside the strange girl, and
put her hand on the other's shoulder.

"My dear!" she said, when the startled gray eyes--all a-flood with
tears--were raised to her own. "My dear, tell me all about
it--_do_! If I can't help you, I will be your friend, and it will
make you feel lots better to tell it all to somebody who sympathizes."

"Bu-but you ca-can't sympathize with me!" gasped the other, looking into
Wyn's steady, brown eyes and finding friendliness and commiseration
there. "You--you see, you never knew the lack of anything good; you're
not poor."

"No, I am not poor," admitted Wyn.

"And I don't want charity!" cried the strange girl quickly.

"I am not going to offer it to you. But I'd dearly love to be your
friend," Wyn said. "You know--you're so pretty!" she added, impulsively.

The girl flushed charmingly again. "I--I guess I'm not very pretty in my
old duds, and with my nose and eyes red from crying."

But she was really one of those few persons who are not made ugly by
crying. She had neither red eyes nor a red nose.

"Do tell me what troubles you," urged Wyn, patting her firm, calloused
hand.

Those hands were no soft, useless members--no, indeed! Pretty as she
was, the stranger had evidently been in the habit of performing arduous
manual labor.

"Where do you live, my dear?" asked Wyn, again, as her first question
was not answered.

"Up beyond Meade's Forge," said the strange girl.

"Oh, my! On Lake Honotonka?"

"Yes, ma'am."

"Please don't _ma'am_ me!" cried the captain of the Go-Ahead Club.
"My name is Wynifred Mallory. My friends all call me Wyn. Now, I want
you to be my friend, so you must commence calling me Wyn right away."

"But--but you don't know me," said the other girl, hesitatingly.

"I am going to; am I not?" demanded Wyn, with her frank smile. "Surely,
now that I have confided in you, you will confide in me to the same
extent? Or, don't you like me?"

"Of course I like you!" exclaimed the still sobbing girl. "But--but I do
not know that I have any right to allow you to be my friend."

"Goodness me! why not?" exclaimed Wyn.

"Why--why, we have a bad name in this town, it seems," said the other.

"Who have?" snapped Wyn, hating Mr. Erad harder than ever now.

"My father and I."

"What have you done that makes you a pariah?" exclaimed Wyn, fairly
laughing now. "Aren't you foolish?"

"No. People say my father was not honest I am Polly Jarley," said the
girl, desperately.

"Polly Jolly?" cried Wyn. "Not much you are! You are anything but jolly.
You are Polly Miserrimus."

"I don't know what that means, ma'am----"

"Wyn!" exclaimed the other girl, quickly.

"M--Miss Wyn."

"Not right. Just Wyn. Plain Wyn----"

"Oh, I couldn't call you plain," cried the poorly dressed girl, with
some spontaneity now. "For you are very pretty. But I don't really know
what Mis--Mis----"

"'Miserrimus'?'"

"That is it."

"It's Latin, and it means miserable, all right," laughed Wyn. "And you
act more to fit the name of 'Polly Miserrimus' than that of 'Polly
Jolly.'"

"It's Jarley, Miss Wyn."

"But now tell me all about it, Polly," urged Wyn, having by this means
stopped the flow of Polly's tears. "Surely it will help you just to free
your mind. And don't be foolish enough to think that I wouldn't want to
know you and be your friend if your poor father was the biggest criminal
on earth."

"He isn't! He is unfortunate. He has been accused wrongfully, and
everybody is against him," exclaimed Polly, with some heat.

"All right. Then let's hear about it," urged Wyn, capturing both of the
other girl's hands in her own, and smiling into her tear-drenched gray
eyes.



CHAPTER IV

THE SILVER IMAGES


"Didn't you ever hear of us Jarleys?" Polly first of all demanded.

"Only as being interested in the wax-work business," replied Wyn, with
twinkling eyes.

"I--I guess father never made wax-work," said Polly, hesitatingly.

She was an innocent sort of girl, who evidently lacked many advantages
of education and reading that Wyn and her friends had enjoyed as a
matter of course.

"Well, I never heard the name before to-day--not _your_ name, nor
your father's," Wyn said.

"Well, we used to live here."

"In Denton?"

"Yes, ma'am----"

"Will you stop that?" cried Wyn. "I am Wyn Mallory, I tell you."

"All right, Wyn. It's a pretty name. I'll be glad to use it," returned
Polly.

"Prove it by using it altogether," commanded Wyn. "Now, what about your
father?"

"I--I can't tell you much about it--much of the particulars, I mean,"
said the girl from Lake Honotonka, diffidently. "I don't really know
them. Father never speaks of it much. But even as a tiny girl mother
explained to me that when folks said father had done wrong I must deny
it. That it was not so. It was only circumstances that made him appear
in the wrong. And--you know, Wyn--your mother wouldn't lie to you!"

"Of course not!" cried Wyn, warmly. "Of course not!"

"Well, then, you'll have to believe just what I tell you. Father was in
some business deal with a man here in Denton, and something went wrong.
The other man accused father of being dishonest. Father could not defend
himself. Circumstances were dead against him. And it worried mother so
that it made her sick.

"So we all left town. Father had very little money, and he built a shack
up there in the woods near Honotonka. We're just 'squatters' up there.
But gradually father got a few boats, and built a float, and made enough
in the summer from fishermen and campers to support us. Of course,
mother being sick so many years before she died, kept us very poor. I
only go to the district school winters. Then I have to walk four miles
each way, for we own no horse. Summers I help father with the boats."

"That's where you got such palms! cried Wyn, touching her new friend's
calloused hands again.

"It's rowing does it. But I don't mind. I love the water, you see."

"So do I. I've got a canoe. I'm captain of a girls' canoe club."

"That's nice," said Polly. "I suppose when you take up boating for just
a sport it's lots better than trying to make one's living out of it."

"Well, tell me more," urged Wyn. "What are you in town for now? Why did
I find you crying here on the bench?"

"A man hurt me by talking harshly about poor father," said the girl from
Lake Honotonka.

"Come on! tell me," urged Wyn, giving her a little shake. Polly suddenly
threw an arm about the town girl and hugged her tightly.

"I _do_ love you, Wyn Mallory," she sobbed. "I--I wish you were my
sister. I get so lonely sometimes up there in the woods, for there's
only father and me now. And this past winter he was very sick with
rheumatic fever. You see, there was an accident."

"He met with an accident, you mean?"

"Yes. It was awful--or it might have been awful for him if he and I had
not had signals that we use when there's a fog on the lake. I'll tell
you.

"You see, there is a man named Shelton--Dr. Shelton--who lives in one of
the grand houses at Braisely Park--you know, that is the rich people's
summer colony at the upper end of the lake?"

"I know about it," said Wyn. "Although I never was there."

"Well, Dr. Shelton had his motor boat down at our float. He left it
there himself, and he told father to go to the express office at Meade's
Forge on a certain day and get a box that would be there addressed to
Dr. Shelton. It was a valuable box.

"When father went for it the expressman would not give it up until he
had telephoned to Dr. Shelton and recognized the doctor's voice over the
wire. It seems that that box was packed with ancient silver images that
had been found in a ruined temple in Yucatan, and had been sent to Dr.
Shelton by the man who found them. They claim they were worth at the
least five thousand dollars.

"The doctor had a party at his house right then, he said over the
telephone, and he wanted father to come up the lake with the box. He
wanted to display his antique treasures to his friends.

"Now, it was a dreadfully bad day. After father had started down to the
Forge in the motor boat he knew that a storm was coming. And ahead of it
was a thick fog. He told Dr. Shelton over the 'phone that it was a bad
time to make the trip the whole length of Lake Honotonka.

"The doctor would not listen to any excuses, however; and it was his
boat that was being risked. And his silver images, too! Those rich
people don't care much about a poor man's life, and if father had
refused to risk his on the lake in the storm Dr. Shelton would have
given his trade to some other boatkeeper after that.

"So father started in the _Bright Eyes_. He did not shoot right up
the middle of the lake, as he would have done had the day been fair. The
lake is twenty miles broad, you know, in the middle. So he kept near our
side--the south side it is--and did not lose sight of the shore at
first.

"But at Gannet Island he knew he had better run outside. You see, the
strait between the island and the shore is narrow and, when the wind is
high, it sometimes is dangerous in there. Why, ten years ago, one of the
little excursion steamers that used to ply the lake then, got caught in
that strait and was wrecked!

"So father _had_ to go outside of Gannet Island. The fog shut down
as thick as a blanket before he more than sighted the end of the island.
He kept on, remembering what Dr. Shelton had said, and that is where he
made a mistake," said Polly, shaking her head. "He ought to have turned
right around and come back to our landing."

"Oh, dear me! what happened to him?" cried Wyn, eagerly.

"The fog came down, thicker and thicker," proceeded the boatman's
daughter. "And the wind rode down upon father, too. Wind and fog
together are not usual; but when the two combine it is much worse than
either alone. You see, the thick mist swirling into father's eyes,
driven head-on by the wind, blinded him. He steered a shade too near the
shore.

"Suddenly the _Bright Eyes_ struck. A motor boat, going head-on
upon a snag, can be easily wrecked. The boat struck and stuck, and
father leaped up to shut off the engine.

"As he did so, something swished through the blinding fog and struck
him, carrying him backward over the stern of the boat. Perhaps it was
the loss of his weight that allowed the _Bright Eyes_ to scrape
over the snag. At least, she did so as father plunged into the lake, and
as he sank he knew that the boat, with her engine at half speed, was
tearing away across the lake.

"It was the drooping limb of a tree that had torn father from the stern
of the motor boat," continued Polly Jarley. "It may have been a big root
of the same tree, under water, that had proved the finish of the boat.
For nobody ever saw the _Bright Eyes_ again. She just ran off at a
tangent, into the middle of the lake, somewhere, we suppose, and filled
and sank."

"Oh, dear me! And your father?" asked Wyn, anxiously.

"He got ashore on the island. Then he signalled to me, and I went off
during a lull in the storm, and got him. He went to bed, and it was
three months before he was up and around again.

"He suffered dreadfully with rheumatic fever," continued Polly, sadly.
"And all the time Dr. Shelton was talking just as mean about him as he
could. He didn't believe his story. He even said that he thought my
father took the motor boat down the river somewhere and sold it. And the
way he talked about that box of silver images----"

"Oh, oh!" cried Wyn. "I'd forgotten about them. Of course they were
lost, too?"

"Sunk somewhere in Lake Honotonka," declared Polly. "Father knows no
more about where the boat lies than Dr. Shelton himself. But there are
always people ready and willing to pick up the evil that is said about a
person and help circulate it.

"While father was flat on his back, folks were talking about him. We had
to raise money on the boats to pay for our food and father's medicine.
If we don't have a good season this summer we will be unable to pay off
the chattel mortgage next winter, and will lose the boats. I tell you,
Miss Wyn, it is _hard_."

"You poor, dear girl!" exclaimed Wyn. "I should think it _was_
hard. And that mean man accuses your father----"

"Well, you see, there was father's past record against him. The story of
his trouble here in Denton followed him into the woods, of course. If
anybody gets mad at us up at the Forge, they throw the whole thing up to
us. I--I _hate_ it there," sobbed the boatkeeper's daughter.

"And yet, it is harder on poor father. He is straight, but everything
has been against him. I saw he felt dreadfully these past few days
because I need some decent clothes. And there is no money to buy any.

"So I thought I would come to town and see some old friends of mother's
who used to come and see us years ago. Yes, there were a few people who
stuck to mother, even if they did not quite approve of poor father. But,
when I paddled 'way down here----"

"Not in a canoe?" cried Wyn.

"Yes, I came down very easily yesterday evening and stopped at a
boatman's house on the edge of town. I shall go back again to-day. The
Wintinooski isn't kicking up much of a rumpus just now. The spring
floods are about all over."

"But you must be a splendid hand with a paddle," said Wyn. "It's a long
way to the lake."

"Oh! I don't mind it," said Polly. "Or, I _wouldn't_ mind it if it
had done me the least good to come down here," and she sighed.

"You are disappointed?" queried Wyn.

"Dreadfully! I did not find mother's old friends. I had not heard from
them for two or three years, and found that they were away--nobody knows
where. I did not know but I might get work here in town for a few weeks,
and live with these old friends, and so earn some money. I am so shabby!
And father isn't fit to be seen.

"And then--then there was a man in town who used to befriend mother. I
know when I was quite a little girl, the year after we had gone to the
woods to live, father was ill for a long time and mother had to have
things. She went to this storekeeper in Denton and he let her have
things on account and we paid him afterward. Oh, we paid him--every
cent!" declared Polly, again wiping her eyes.

"And I hoped he would--for mother's sake--help us again. I went to him.
I--I reminded him of how father once worked for him, and that he knew
mother. But he was angry about something--he would not listen--he would
neither give me work nor let me have goods charged. I--I--well, it just
broke me down, Wyn Mallory, and I came here to cry it out."

"It's a shame!" exclaimed Wyn. "I am just as sorry for you as I can be.
And I believe that your father is perfectly honest and that he never in
his life intended to defraud anybody."

It was that blessed _tact_ that made Wynifred Mallory say that. It
was the sure way to Polly Jarley's heart; and Wyn's words and way opened
the door wide and Polly took her in.

"You--you _blessed_ creature!" cried the boatman's daughter. "I
know you must have been 'specially sent to comfort me. I _was_ so
miserable."

"Of course I was sent," declared Wyn. She did not propose to tell her
new acquaintance that she had observed her in Erad's store and had
looked for her all over Market Street.

"Such things are meant to be. If we trust to God we surely shall have
release from our difficulties. That is just as sure as the day follows
the night," declared Wyn, with simple, straight-forward faith.

"And just see how it is proved in this case. You were in trouble, and
sat here crying, and needed somebody to help you. And I came along
perfectly willing and able to help you, and you are going to be helped."

"I _am_ helped!" declared Polly. "You just put the courage back
into me. I didn't know what to do----"

"Do you know any better now?" demanded Wyn, quickly.

"We--ell, I----"

"That doesn't sound as though you had _quite_ made up your mind,"
said Wyn, with a little laugh.

"Never mind. I can stand even going back home with my hands empty,
better than before I met you," declared Polly, bravely.

"But you won't go back home empty-handed."

"Oh, Wyn! Can you get me work?"

"No, not here. Nor do I believe you ought to leave your father alone up
there for so long. I expect he is not very well yet?"

"No. He is not," admitted Polly.

"Then, you go home. That is the best place for you, anyway. But before
you go you shall make such purchases as you may need----"

Polly drew away from her along the seat, and her gray eyes grew
brighter. "Oh, Miss Mallory!" she murmured. "Don't do _that_."

"Don't do what?" demanded Wyn.

"Don't spoil it all."

"Spoil what-all?" cried Wyn, in exasperation. "I'm not going to spoil
anything. But you listen to me. This is sense."

"I--I couldn't take charity from _you_--a stranger."

"I offer to lend you twenty dollars. You can pay it back when you
choose."

"Twenty dollars! You lend me twenty dollars?"

"Yes. I have quite some spending money given to me, and I have been
saving nearly all of it for some time. So I can easily spare it."

"But I don't know when I can repay you."

"I can tell you, then. You can pay me back this very summer."

"This summer, miss?"

"Don't call me 'miss'!" cried Wyn, in greater exasperation. "I have told
you my name is 'Wyn'! And I mean exactly what I say. This is a perfectly
straight business proposition," and she laughed her full-throated laugh
that made even Polly Jarley, in her trouble, smile.

"Then your business, Wyn Mallory, must be the saving of people from
trouble--is that it? For there is no reason in what you say you will
do--Oh, I can't accept it. It would be charity!" cried Polly, again
clasping Wyn's hands.

"It is not charity," said Wyn, firmly, opening her purse. "And I'll
quickly show you why it is not. You see, Polly Jolly--and I want you to
smile at me and look as though you fitted that name. You see, I am
captain of the Go-Ahead Club."

"The Go-Ahead Club?"

"Yes. We are six girls. We each own canoes. And we are just _crazy_
to spend next summer under canvas."

"You are going camping?"

"That is our intention," Wyn said, nodding.

"Oh, then! come up to Lake Honotonka," cried Polly. "I can show you
beautiful places to camp, and we can have lots of fun----"

"That likewise is our intention," broke in Wyn. "We have just decided to
camp for the summer on the shore of the lake. Rather, our parents,
guardians, and the cat, have finally agreed to our plans. We shall come
up there the week after the Academy closes."

"Now, we want you, Polly, to find us the very best camping place, to
arrange everything for us, and don't have it too far from your place,
and from Meade's Forge. I expect the Busters will camp on one of the
islands. The Busters, you see, are our boy friends who are likewise
going to the lake. They were there last year with Professor Skillings."

"I remember them," said Polly, wonderingly. "And you and your girl
friends are coming?"

"Just the surest thing you know, Polly," declared Wyn. "So you are going
to take this twenty dollars," and she suddenly thrust the bill into the
other girl's hand and closed her fingers over it. "Then, next summer, we
shall let you pay it back in perfectly legitimate charges, for we'll
want you and your father to help us a good deal.

"Now, what say, Polly Jolly? Will you please let your face fit your
name--as I have rechristened you? Smile, my dear--smile!"

"I could cry again, Wyn--you are so kind!" half sobbed the other girl.

"Now, you stop all that foolishness--a great, big girl like you!"
exclaimed Wyn. "Turn off the sprinkler, as Dave Shepard says. Get right
up now and go briskly about your buying. And write to me when you get
home and write just as often as you can till we meet at the lake this
summer."

"You dear!" ejaculated Polly.

"You're another. How will I address you--at the Forge?"

"Yes, and you must give me your address," said the boatman's daughter,
eagerly.

Wyn did so. The two girls, such recent but already such warm friends,
kissed each other and Polly Jarley went briskly away toward Market
Street. Wyn stopped on the bench for several minutes and watched the
girl from Lake Honotonka walk away, while a smile wreathed her lips and
a warm light lingered in her brown eyes.



CHAPTER V

BESSIE LAVINE


Suddenly a gay voice hailed Wyn.

"Hi, Captain of the Go-Aheads! What are you doing, mooning here?"

"Why, Bess!" returned Wyn, turning to greet Bessie Lavine. "I didn't see
you coming along."

"No; but I saw you, my noble captain."

"Going shopping?"

"Aye, aye, Captain!" cried the other member of the Go-Ahead club. "But
who was that I saw you with? Didn't I see you talking to that girl who
just crossed Benefit Street?"

"Oh, yes."

"Who was she?"

"Polly Jarley. She is daughter of a boatman up at the lake. And wasn't
it fortunate that I met her? She can find us a camping place and get
everything fixed up there for our coming."

"What's her name?" asked Bess, sharply.

"Polly Jarley."

"And she lives up there by the lake?"

"So she says."

"Her father is John Jarley, of course?" queried Bessie, looking down at
Wyn, darkly.

"Yes. That is her father's name," said Wyn, beginning to wonder at her
friend's manner.

"Well! I guess you don't know those Jarleys very well; do you?"

"Why--I----"

Wyn hesitated to tell Bessie that she had only just now met the
unfortunate boatman's daughter. She remembered Polly's story, and what
she had overheard Mr. Erad say in the drygoods store.

"You surely _can't_ know what and who they are, and still be
friendly with that girl?" repeated Bessie, her eyes flashing with anger.

"Why, my dear," said Wyn, soothingly. "Don't speak that way. Sit down
and tell me what you mean. I certainly have not known Polly long; and I
never met her father----"

"Oh, they left this town a long time ago."

"So she told me. And she said something about her father having been
accused of dishonesty----"

"I should say so!" gasped Bessie. "Why, John Jarley almost ruined
_my_ father. He was a traitor to him. They were in a deal
together--it was when my father first tried to get into the real estate
business here in Denton--and this John Jarley sold him out. Why,
everybody knows it! It crippled father for a long time, and what Jarley
got out of playing traitor never did him any good, I guess, for they
were soon as poor as Job's turkey, and they went to live in the woods
there. He's a poor, miserable wretch. Father says he's never had a
stroke of luck since he played him such a mean trick--and serves him
right!"

Wyn stared at her in amazement, for Bessie had gone on quite
breathlessly and had spoken with much heat. Finally Wyn observed:

"Well, dear, _your_ father has done well since those days. They say
he is one of our richest citizens. Surely you can forgive what poor John
Jarley did, for he and his daughter are now very miserable."

"I don't see why we should forgive them," cried Bessie, hotly.

"Why, Bess! This poor girl had nothing to do with her father wronging
your father----"

"I don't care. She's his daughter. It's in the blood. I wouldn't trust
her a single bit. I wouldn't speak to her. And no girl can be _her_
friend and mine, too!"

"Why, Bess! don't say that," urged Wyn. "You and I have been friends for
years and years. We wouldn't want to have a falling out."

"I see no need for us to fall out," exclaimed Bessie, her eyes still
flashing. "But I just won't associate with girls who associate with
those low people--there now!"

"Now do you feel better, Bess?" asked Wyn, laughing.

That was the worst of Wyn Mallory! All the girls said so. One couldn't
"fight" with her. For, you see, it takes two at least to keep a quarrel
alive, although but one to start it.

"Well, you don't know how mean that man, Jarley, was to my father. And
years ago they were the very best of friends. Why! they went to school
together, and were chums--just as thick as you and I are, Wynnie--just
as thick. And for him to be a traitor----"

"If he was, don't you think he has been paying for it?" asked Wyn,
sensibly. "According to what I hear he is poor, and ill, and
unfortunate----"

"I don't know whether he is or not. It was only a few weeks ago we heard
of his stealing a motor boat up there at the lake and some other
valuables, and selling them----"

"He wouldn't be poor if he had done that; would he?" interrupted Wyn.
"For I know for a fact that he is very, very poor."

She did not want to tell Bessie that she had given Polly Jarley money;
but she did not believe that the boatman's daughter would be in need as
she was if Mr. Jarley were guilty of the crime of which he had been so
recently accused.

"Well, I haven't a mite of sympathy for them," declared Bessie.

"Perhaps you cannot be expected to have sympathy for the Jarleys,"
admitted Wyn, in her wholesome way. "But you won't mind, will you, dear,
if _I_ have a little for poor Polly?" and she hugged Bessie, who
had sat down, close to her. "Come on, Bessie--don't be mad at
_me_."

"Oh, dear! nobody can be mad at you, Wyn Mallory. You do blarney so."

"Ah, now, my dear; it isn't blarneying at all!" laughed Wyn. "It's just
showing you the sensible way. We girls don't want to be flighty, and
have 'mads on,' as Frank says, for no real reason. And this poor girl
will never trouble you in the world----"

"I wish she wasn't up at that lake," declared Bessie.

"Why, Bess! the lake's plenty big enough," said Wyn, chuckling. "We
won't have to see much of the Jarleys. Although----"

"I sha'n't go if she is to be on hand," asserted Bessie, with vehemence.

"One would think poor Polly Jarley had an infectious disease. She won't
hurt you, Bess."

"I don't care. I feel just as papa does about it. He and Jarley were
closer than brothers. But he wouldn't speak to Jarley now--no, sir! And
I don't want anything to do with that girl."

With this Bess jumped up, preparing to go on her way to the stores. Wyn
was going home, and she gathered up her packages.

"You'll think differently about it some day, Bess," she said,
thoughtfully, as her friend tripped away. "How foolish to hold rancor so
long! For years and years those two men have hated each other. And I
expect Polly would dislike Bess just as Bess dislikes her--and for no
real reason!

"And it seems too bad. Mr. Lavine is very rich while John Jarley is very
poor. Usually it is the wicked man who prospers--for a time, at least I
really don't understand this," sighed Wyn, traveling homeward. "If
Polly's father is guilty as they believe he is, what did he do with the
money he must have made by his crimes?"



CHAPTER VI

OFF FOR THE LAKE


Although the members of the Go-Ahead Club--some of them, at least--had
expressed the wish that the time to start for Lake Honotonka was already
at hand, the remaining days of May and the busy month of June slipped
away speedily. At odd hours there was a deal to do to prepare for the
outing which the girl canoeists longed to enjoy.

Wyn received several letters from Polly Jarley, more hopeful letters
than she might have expected considering the situation in which the
boatman's daughter was placed. Evidently Polly was trying to live up to
her "rechristening."

In reply Wyn made several arrangements for the big outing which she
confided only in a general way to the club. Polly had selected a
beautiful spot just east of the rough water behind Gannet Island, and
not half a mile from her father's boathouse, for the camping place of
the Go-Ahead Club, and she wrote Wyn that she had stuck up a sign
pre-empting the spot for the girls from Denton.

It was arranged with the Busters, who would go up to Lake Honotonka the
same day as the Go-Aheads, to send the stores together by bateau. Wyn
arranged to have the girls' stores housed by the Jarleys, for she did
not think that the canvas of either the sleeping or the cook-tent would
be sufficient protection if there came a heavy storm.

The boys had picked their camping place the year before. They would go
to the far end of Gannet Island, where there was a cave which promised a
fairly good storehouse for their goods and chattels. They proposed to
erect their one big tent right in front of this cavity in the rock--in
conjunction therewith, in fact. There was a backbone of rock through the
center of the island in which Professor Skillings, as a geologist, was
very much interested, and had been for a long time.

To purchase the stores cost considerable money. The girls had to do it
all out of their own pockets, and to tell the truth some of them had to
mortgage their spending allowance for the entire summer to "put up"
their pro rata sum for these supplies.

"Papa says it is going to cost me as much as though I were spending the
summer at Newport," Percy Havel said, with a sigh.

"_My_ folks have expressed some surprise," admitted Mina Everett.
"They thought we were going to camp out _al fresco_; but they can
scarcely believe now that we are not going to live upon _pâté de foie
gras_ and have a French chef to get up the meals."

"My father began to say something about the cost the other night,"
giggled Frank Cameron. "But I put the stopper on poor pa very quickly. I
told him that I'd willingly give up the camping-out scheme if he'd buy a
touring car. I said:

"'Pa, I've figured the whole thing out, and we can do it easily enough.
The car, to begin with, will cost $5,000, which at six per cent, is only
$300 a year. If we charge ten per cent, off for depreciation it will
come to $500 more. A good chauffeur can be had for $125 per month, or
$1,500 per year. I have allowed $10 per week for gasoline and $5 for
repairs. The chauffeur's uniform and furs will come to about $200. Now,
let's see what it comes to. Three hundred, plus five hundred, and then
the chauffeur's salary at----'

"'Don't bother me any more, my dear,' says pa. 'I know what it comes
to.'

"'What _does_ it come to, Pa?' I asked. 'How quick you are at
figures!'

"'My dear,' he said, impressively, 'it comes to a standstill right here
and now. We will have no touring car. I'll say no more about the
Go-Ahead Club.'

"Oh, you can manage the grown-ups," concluded Frank, with a laugh, "if
you go about it right."

The bateau of stores went up the Wintinooski two days before the girls
and boys were to start; yet for fear that all might not have gone right
with the provisions, Wyn insisted that each member of the Go-Ahead. Club
pack in her canoe the usual "day's ration" that they had been taught
should always be carried for an emergency.

"It only adds to the weight," grumbled Grace. "And dear knows, the old
blankets and things that you make us paddle about, makes the going hard
enough."

"That's it--kick!" exclaimed Frank. "You'd kick if your feet were tied,
Gracie."

"Assuredly!" returned the big girl.

"Now, don't fuss at the rules of the club that have long ago been voted
upon and adopted," said Wyn, cheerfully. "We do not know what is going
to happen. Somebody might hit a snag. It would take hours to make
repairs--perhaps we would have to camp for the night somewhere on the
way. We want to be prepared for all such emergencies."

"Well, the Busters aren't loading themselves down with all this truck,"
declared Grace, with, vigor.

"That's all right. Let us be the wise ones," laughed Wynifred. "The boys
may want to borrow of us before we get to Lake Honotonka."

"Why, Wynnie!" cried Bess Lavine, "if you are expecting all sorts of
breakdowns and misfortunes, I shall be afraid to start at all."

"Guess I'll go on with Aunt Evelyn to the Forge, and send my canoe by
train," laughed Percy Havel. "Wyn's got us drowned already."

But on the morning of the departure not one of the girls prophesied
misfortune. As for the boys, they were bubbling over with fun.

Professor Skillings was going to paddle up the river with them, although
Mrs. Havel would take the afternoon train to the lake. The professor had
gone on ahead; but Dave Shepard arranged the two clubs in line and boys
and girls marched through the streets and down to the river, being
hailed by their friends and bidden good-bye by their less fortunate
mates.

Somebody started singing, and the twelve young voices were soon in the
rhythm of "This is the Life!" Dave and Tubby were ahead, their paddles
over their shoulders, each carrying his blanket-roll in approved scout
fashion. The roll made Tubby Blaisdell look twice his real size.

As the party struck across the sward toward the boathouses Dave suddenly
dropped his paraphernalia and started on a run for the river.

"Hi, there!" he shouted. "The professor is in trouble, boys!"

The Busters bounded away after him, and the girls, catching the
excitement, followed along the bank of the swiftly-flowing Wintinooski.
There was Professor Skillings in his canoe, drifting rapidly into the
middle of the current, and plainly without his paddle. Indeed, that
useful--not to say necessary--instrument, capped the pile of Professor
Skillings' impedimenta on the bank. He had evidently--in his usual
absent-minded manner--stepped into his canoe and pushed off from shore
without getting his cargo aboard.

Amid much laughter Dave and Ferd Roberts got a skiff and went after
their teacher. Professor Skillings chuckled at his own troubles.
Although he was well past the meridian of life, he had neither lost his
sense of the ridiculous nor his ability to laugh at a joke when it was
on himself.

While the boys were rescuing their friend and mentor, the Go-Ahead Club
proceeded to get out their own canoes and load them. The weight had to
be distributed in bow and stern of the light, cedar craft; but Wyn and
her mates had practised loading and launching their boats so frequently
that there was little danger of an overset now.

Grace was still growling about the food and cooking apparatus
distributed among the canoeists. Wyn said, laughing:

"That is still the bone of contention; is it, Gracie?"

"What _is_ a 'bone of contention'?" demanded Mina, innocently.

"Why, the jawbone, of course, silly!" cried Frank.

"Don't you mind about my jawbone, miss!" snapped Grace.

"Oh, don't let's fight, girls," Mina said, soothingly.

"Better a dinner of herbs with contentment than a stalled ox and trouble
on the side," misquoted Frank.

The six girls quickly shot their canoes out into the stream. At this
point the current was swift; but above Denton the river broadened into
wide pools through which the current flowed sluggishly and it would be
easier paddling.

The girls set into a steady stroke, led by their captain, and passed the
pretty town in a few minutes. Wyn could see the upper windows of her
home and noted a white cloth fluttering from one. She knew that her
mother was standing there with the field-glasses and Baby May. Perhaps
the little one was trying to see "sister" through the strong glasses.

So Wyn pulled off her cap and swung it over her head and the six canoes
immediately fell out of alignment.

"Don't do that, Wyn!" shouted Bess. "Those boys will catch up with us."

"Well, we want them to; don't we?" asked the captain of the Go-Aheads,
good-naturedly. "We're going to lunch together, and if we make the poor
boys work too hard they'll eat every crumb we've got and leave nothing
for poor little we-uns."

"So _that's_ why you made us bring all this food?" demanded Bess,
in disgust. "Can't those boys feed themselves?"

"Oh, they'll do their share," Wyn replied, laughing. "You'll see. Don't
you see how heavily laden Tubby's canoe is? I warrant he has enough
luncheon aboard for a small army."

"I can't look over my shoulder--I never can," quoth Bessie. "Paddling a
canoe takes more of my attention than riding a bicycle."

"Or a motorcycle. Those things are just awful," cried Mina Everett.

"Shucks!" exclaimed the lively Frankie. "A motorcycle is only an
ordinary bicycle driven crazy by over-indulgence in gasoline."

"How smart!" cried Bessie. "But you'd better save your breath to cool
your porridge----"

"Or, better still, to work your paddle," commented Grace, with a swift
glance behind. "Those Busters are coming up the river, hand over fist."

"With poor Tubby in the rear, of course," said Frank, glancing back.
"The tide is certainly against _him_."

"Oh, dear me!" giggled Percy, "poor Tubby was more than 'tide' last week
when he took Annabel Craven out on the river. Did you hear about it? You
know--the night before graduation."

"I believe that fat youth is sweet on Annabel," announced Bessie,
shaking her head seriously.

"What do you suppose Ann thinks of Tubby?" cried Grace.

"You know how it is," chuckled Frank. "Nobody loves a fat boy. Go on,
Percy. What happened to poor old Tubby?"

"Why, he inveigled Annabel down to the river and got her into a boat and
was going to row her around in the moonlight. You know it was just a
scrumptious night."

"M-m-m! wasn't it?" agreed Frank.

"Well," said Percy, "Tubby got in without overturning the boat and
settled to work. The current was pretty swift and he struck right out
into it and headed up stream.

"And there he tugged, and tugged, and tugged, giving all his attention
to the oars and having none to spare for Annabel. By and by, after Tubby
had tugged, and grunted, and perspired for half an hour, he said:

"'Say, I never saw anything like this current to-night--not in all my
born days! I've been pulling like a horse for half an hour and I don't
see that we've made as much as a dozen feet!'

"And then Annabel spoke up real pretty, and says she:

"'Oh, Mr. Blaisdell! I've just thought of something. The anchor fell
overboard some time ago and I forgot to tell you. Do you suppose it
could have caught on something?'"

The other girls were intensely amused at this, for they all appreciated
Annabel Craven's character as well as poor Tubby's good-natured
blundering. But while they laughed and chattered in this way the Busters
crept steadily up on them.

"I told you how it would be," said Bess, tartly, "if we didn't hurry
up."

"What's the matter with you girls?" demanded Dave Shepard. "One would
think you were sent for and couldn't come, by the way you paddle. You'll
get to the lake before noon at this rate."

"Not much danger of that, Davie," returned Wyn. "And you know we agreed
to stop at Ware's Island for lunch."

"Oh, I wish that was right here!" grunted a voice from the rear, where
Tubby Blaisdell was paddling away with almost as much splashing as a
small side-wheel steamer.

"My goodness, boy!" cried Ferd Roberts. "You're not hungry so soon, are
you?"

"Soon?" repeated Tubby, with disgust "It's so long since breakfast that
I've forgotten what I had to eat."

"What do you want to eat, Tubby?" asked Frank, giggling.

"Not particular. Anything--from a marshmallow cake to a tough steak,"
grunted the fat boy.

"Tubby wouldn't be as particular as the grouchy gentleman who went into
the restaurant out West and ordered a steak," chuckled Dave. "After the
waiter brought it the customer tried his knife on it and then called the
waiter back.

"'Say!' he objected. 'This steak isn't tender enough.'

"'Not tender enough, stranger?' returned the cowboy waiter. 'What d'you
expect? Want it to hug an' kiss yer?'"

When the laugh on Tubby had subsided Professor Skillings said, with a
twinkle in his eye:

"Our friend, Blaisdell, should be able to exist some time on his
accumulation of fat. He ought not to seriously suffer from hunger as
yet."

"Like a camel living on its hump--eh?" said Wyn. "How about that,
Tubby?"

"I'm no relation to a camel--I tell you that," snorted the fat boy, with
disgust.

"Then Mr. Blaisdell might imitate some insects; mightn't he, Professor
Skillings?" suggested Frank, with a sly look. "You know there are
insects that live on nothing."

"On nothing?" exclaimed the professor, quickly. "Oh, no, young lady, you
are mistaken. That is quite impossible."

"But, Professor! A moth lives on nothing; doesn't it?"

"No, indeed. How could that be?" cried the scientific gentleman, greatly
perturbed by Frank's apparent display of ignorance.

"Why, moths eat holes; don't they?" chortled Frank. "Surely 'holes' are
a pretty slim diet."

Professor Skillings led the laughter himself over this simple joke. But
he added:

"I fear I should not be able to interest you in science, Frances."

"Not in summer, sir--oh, never!" cried Frank. "I refuse to learn a
single, living thing until school opens again next fall."

In spite of Tubby's complaints, the canoeing party sighted Ware Island
in good season for luncheon. This was a low, wooded spot around which
the Wintinooski--split in two streams--flowed very quietly. The country
on both sides was cut up into farms, with intervening patches of woods,
dotted with ferns, and was very beautiful.

There was a little beach on one side of the island, with a green, shaded
bank above. This was a favorite picnicking spot for parties from Denton;
but our friends had the island all to themselves this day.

The girls had been as far as this island before in their canoes; but
never beyond. From this spot on the journey up the Wintinooski would be
all new to Wyn Mallory and her chums.

The canoes were hauled up out of the water and the boys skirmished for
fuel while the girls got out the luncheon. Ferd Roberts was
fire-builder, and Grace, who hated that work, watched him closely,
marveling how quickly and well he constructed the pyre and had a blaze
merrily dancing among the sticks.

"Doesn't that beat all!" cried Grace. "You must love fires as much as
Nero did."

"Nero? Let's see--he was the chap that always was cold; wasn't he?"
queried Ferd, grinning.

"Nope!" broke in Frank. "That was Zero. You _will_ get your ancient
history mixed, Ferd!"

The luncheon was quickly laid, and Tubby was not the only one who did it
justice. But Bessie Lavine continued to act disagreeably toward the
boys. She was "forever nagging," as Dave said; and sometimes there was a
spark of fire when she managed to get one or another of the boys "mad."

Professor Skillings wandered off with his bag and little geological
hammer and Tubby rolled over on his back under a shady bush and went to
sleep.

"Pig!" ejaculated Bess, in disgust. "That's all boys think of--their
stomachs."

"Oh, don't be so hateful, Bess," advised Frank. "Come on; the rest of us
are going to walk around a little to settle our luncheon, before
tackling the paddles again."

"Humph! with the boys?" snapped Bess, seeing Wyn start off with Dave by
her side. "Not me, thank you!"

"All right," chuckled Frank Cameron. "You can keep Tubby company."

But that suggestion made Bess even more angry, and she went off with her
nose in the air, and all alone. But as the crowd of young folk came
around the east end of Ware Island, they, saw Bess standing upon the
brink of a steep bank, under a small tree, where the water had washed
out a good deal of the earth in a sort of cave beneath where she stood.

"Hi, Bessie! get back from there!" shouted Dave, warningly. "That place
is likely to cave in."

"Then you certainly _would_ get a ducking," added Frank.

"Pooh! I guess I know what I'm about," said the girl. "I'm no baby."

"You're acting like one," growled Dave. "That place is dangerous."

"It's not, Mr. Smartie!" cried Bess, and she stamped her foot in anger.

And just as though that had been the signal for which it had been
waiting, several square yards of the steep bank, with the tree she was
clinging to, slumped down into the river.

The girls screamed, while the boys bounded forward toward the spot where
Bessie had disappeared.

"Oh, Dave!" cried Wyn. "Save her! save her! She can't swim very well.
She will be drowned!"



CHAPTER VII

THE STORM BREAKS


Dave Shepard, followed by the other "Busters," leaped down to the edge
of the water before they came to the spot where the bank had caved. They
feared that by tramping along the edge they might bring down even a
greater avalanche than had fallen with the unfortunate Bessie.

"There she is, fellows!" cried Dave. "She's hanging to the tree!"

"I see her!" returned Ferd Roberts.

"Oh, Dave! we can't reach her," cried another of the Busters.

"I wish the professor was here," cried Ferd. "He'd know what to do."

"My goodness!" returned Dave, throwing off his coat and cap. "I don't
need anybody to tell me what to do. _We've got to go after her!_"

He tore off the low shoes he wore, pitched them after his cap and coat,
and leaped into the water. The current tugged hard at the end of the
island, and Bessie and the uprooted sapling were being carried out
farther and farther into the stream.

The girl had not screamed. Indeed, she had been startled to such a
degree when she went down that she had really not breath enough for
speech as yet.

The boys were "right on the job," and only a few seconds elapsed from
the moment the bank gave away until that in which Dave Shepard sprang
into the river.

Some of the roots of the tree still clung to the shore. A part of the
loosened earth had fallen upon these roots and so the tree was anchored.
But Bessie was clinging to the hole of the sapling quite fifteen feet
from the edge of the solid beach.

"Catch hold of hands, boys!" commanded Dave. "Make a chain! Give me one
hand, Ferd! The current is tugging me right off my feet!"

His four mates obeyed orders promptly. Dave was captain of the Busters,
as Wyn was of the Go-Ahead Club; and the boys had learned to obey their
captain promptly--all but Tubby, at least. But Tubby was not in this
exciting adventure at all, being asleep under the bush at their lunching
place.

The fat boy was not even aroused when the crowd trooped back to the
spot, boys and girls alike chattering like magpies. Dave and Ferd
carried the dripping Bessie in "arm-chair" fashion and the girl who so
disliked boys clung to her two chief rescuers with abandon.

They had hauled her out of the river just as she was losing her grasp on
the tree. A moment later she might have been whirled down stream by the
current and her life endangered. As it was, she had swallowed much
water, and was just as wet inside and out as she would ever be in her
life.

All the boys were more or less wet--Dave was saturated to his arm-pits.
But the day was warm, and the boys were used to such duckings. It was
another matter, however, with the girl. She was already shaking with an
incipient chill.

"Wood on the fire, boys--get a lot of it," commanded Dave. "And get our
blankets and let's put up a makeshift tent for Bess to use. She must get
off her wet duds and wring them out and dry them. Hi! wake up that Tubby
Blaisdell. We want his help."

Ferd proceeded to walk right over the fat youth on his way for more fuel
and that effectually aroused the lad.

"Hey--you! what are you about?" yawned Tubby. "Can't you find another
place to walk on but _me_, Ferd Roberts?"

"I've got to walk _some_where," quoth Ferd.

"Why! you're all wet," gasped Tubby. "And so are you, Dave! And those
other fellows--I declare!"

"Wake up and do something, Tubby," commanded Dave. "We want to get a
tent up, There's been an accident, and Bessie Lavine is wetter than any
of us. Let's have your knife."

"My--my knife?" yawned Tubby, rolling over slowly to reach into his
breeches pocket.

This was too good a chance for Ferd to resist. Tubby was rolling near
the edge of the bank as Ferd came back with his arms full of broken
branches. Ferd put his foot against Tubby's back and pushed with all his
might.

"Hi! Stop that! Ugh!"

Tubby rolled over once--he rolled over twice; then, with many
ejaculations and bumps rolled completely down the slope, amid the
laughter of the boys and girls above him.

Tubby missed the canoes--by good luck--and rolled with a splash into a
shallow pool at the river's edge.

"You mean thing!" he yelled, getting up with some alacrity and shaking
his fist at Ferd. "I--I'm all wet."

"So are we, Tubby," Dave said. "You belong to our lodge now. Come on up
here with that knife of yours. Didn't I tell you I wanted to use it?"

The other boys were scurrying after stakes and blankets, while the girls
fed the fire till it roared high, and Bessie stood in the heat of the
flames.

"What do you think of the boys _now_, Bess?" Frank Cameron
whispered in the victim's ear. "Some good--at times--eh?"

"Now, don't worry her, Frank," commanded Mina, the tender-hearted. "The
poor, dear girl! See--she's just as wet as she can possibly be."

"Oh, and wasn't I scared!" gasped Bess, honestly. "When that bank went
down I thought I was right on my way through to China! I did, indeed."

"I was so thankful Dave was there," said Wyn Mallory, thoughtfully. "You
see, Dave is one of those dependable boys."

"I've got to admit it," gasped Bess. "He's some good. Why! he caught me
just as I was slipping off that tree. I _can't_ thank him!"

"Never mind," said Wyn, cheerfully. "It is decided, I guess, that the
boys may be of some use to us this summer, after all."

"That's so, if we're all going to run the risk of drowning," Grace
Hedges observed.

"I am going to learn to swim better," declared Bess. "I'll just put my
t--time all in on _that_. But, oh, girls! I am so wet!"

"Tent's ready, ladies!" shouted Dave Shepard. "Make her take her
clothing off, Wyn. We fellows will get the professor and go over to the
other side of the island for a swim. Ferd and I have got to strip off
and wring out our trousers, anyway. And I reckon Tubby is some wet."

"That's all right," grumbled the fat youth, waddling after his mates.
"I'll pay Ferd out for that--you see!"

The boys were back in an hour and a half. By that time Bess had been
made quite presentable, for her garments had been dried over the fire.
However, the girls were dressed in a way to stand--as well as might
be--such accidents as Bessie had met.

The girl who had declared boys no good frankly shook hands with Dave
before they embarked again, and thanked him very prettily for his help
in time of need.

"Go ahead! get a medal for me," said Dave. "Pin it right _there_,"
and he pointed to the lapel of his jacket. "I'm a hero. Keep on praising
me, Miss Lavine, and I'll grow as tall as a giraffe."

"And that's the highest form of animal life--ask the professor if it
isn't," chuckled Frank Cameron.

But they were all very thankful that nothing serious had resulted from
the accident. There was an after-result, however, that promised to be
unpleasant. They had been so delayed at the island that it was half-past
three before they got off. There was still a long stretch to paddle to
Meade's Forge at the foot of Honotonka Lake.

And, swiftly as they paddled, the sun was setting when they arrived at
the Forge. Besides, a heavy cloud was coming up, threatening a storm.
Indeed, lightning was already playing around the horizon behind them.

There was no hotel at the Forge, and no good place to stop for the
night. Mrs. Havel was out in her canoe waiting for them. Gannet Island,
where the boys were to camp, was in sight, and the camping place the
girls had had selected for them was even nearer.

"We had better go at once," said the professor, earnestly. "We will stop
and help you erect your tents first----"

"No, you will not," returned Mrs. Havel. "The girls and I have got to
learn to be independent. Besides, your stores are waiting for you over
there on the island, and I understand from the boatmen that the things
are not yet under cover. You must hurry. We'll get along all right;
won't we, girls?"

"Sure!" agreed Frank.

"We haven't come up here to be a burden on the boys, I hope," said Wyn,
sturdily.

Wyn was captain, and as both she and Mrs. Havel thought they could get
along all right, it was not for the other girls to object. The professor
and the boys bade them good-bye and paddled away as fast as possible for
the distant island. Even Tubby put forth some effort, for the
thunderstorm was surely coming.

Tired as they were, the girls of the Go-Ahead Club made their paddles
fly for another half-hour. Then they were in sight of a white birch, to
the top of which was fastened a long streamer, like a pennant.

"There's the place!" cried Wyn, recognizing the signal that Polly Jarley
had written to her about.

"And yonder is the boatman's place where our stores were left?" asked
Mrs. Havel.

"Yes, ma'am."

"We cannot stop for anything now, and must depend for the night upon
what we have with us. I don't like the look of that cloud," said the
lady.

None of the girls liked the look of it, either. It had now rolled up to
the zenith--a leaden mass, looming over them most threateningly. And
there was a rumble of thunder in the summer air.

"Oh! what a beautiful spot!" cried Percy.

"See that reach of lawn--and the thick grove behind it. Goodness me!"
exclaimed Mina Everett, "do you suppose there are bears in that woods?"

"If there are, we'll catch 'em and eat 'em," said Frank, practically.
"Now you know, Mina, there hasn't been a bear shot in this state since
your grandfather's time."

"Well, then, if there's been none shot, maybe there are a lot grown up
here in the woods," objected Mina.

"Don't scare a fellow to death with your croaking," admonished Percy.

Bessie had known that Polly Jarley had chosen the site for the camp; and
she was secretly prepared to find fault with it. But as they drove their
canoes ashore on the little, silvery beach below the green knoll where
the pennant fluttered, Bess could find in her heart no complaint.

It seemed an ideal spot. On three sides the thick woods sheltered the
knoll of green. In front the lake lay like a mirror--its surface
whitened in ridges 'way out toward the middle now, for the wind was
coming.

"Hurry ashore, girls," said Mrs. Havel. "And pull your canoes well up on
the sand. We must hurry to get our shelter up first of all. It will rain
before dark, and the night is coming fast."

"Wish the boys had stopped to help us," wailed Grace.

"And let their own stores get all wet--eh?" cried Wyn. "For shame! Come
on, girls. To the tent!"

There was a pile of canvas which had been dropped here by the bateau men
on their way to Gannet Island that forenoon. There were stakes and poles
with the canvas, and the girls had practised putting up the shelter and
striking it for some weeks in Wyn's back yard.

They were not so clumsy at this work, therefore; but it did seem,
because they were in a hurry, that everything went wrong.

Mina pounded her thumb with a stake-mallet, and the ridge pole fell once
and struck Grace on the side of the head. Poor Grace was always
unfortunate.

"Oh, dear me! I wish I was home!" wailed the big girl. "And ouch! it's
going to thunder and lightning just awful!"

"Now, keep at work!" admonished their captain. "Fasten those pegs down
well, Frankie," she added, to the girl, who had taken the mallet. "Never
mind crying over your poor thumb, Mina. Wait till the tent's up and all
our things brought up from the canoes."

"Here come the first drops, girls!" shrieked Frankie.

Drops! It was a deluge! It came across the lake in a perfect wall of
water, shutting out their view of Gannet Island and everything else.

The girls scuttled for the canoes, emptied them, turned the boats keel
upward, and then retreated to the big tent, Wyn even dragging the canvas
of the cook tent inside to keep it from becoming saturated.

Fortunately the last peg had been secured. The flap was laced down
quickly. In the semi-darkness of the sudden twilight the girls and Mrs.
Havel stood together and listened to the rain drum upon the taut canvas.

How it sounded! Worse than the rain on a tin roof! Peering out through
the slit in the middle of the tent-flap they could see nothing but a
gray wall of water.

Suddenly there was a glaring blue flash, followed soon by the roar of
the thunder. Several of the girls cried out and crouched upon the
ground.

"Oh, dear me! this is awful!" groaned Grace again.

Mina Everett was sobbing with the pain in her thumb and her fear of the
lightning.

"Now, this will never do, girls," admonished Wyn Mallory. "Come! we can
set up the alcohol lamp and make tea. That will help some. There are
crackers and some ham, and a whole big bottle of olives. Why! we sha'n't
starve for supper, that's sure."

"I--I don't know as I want to eat," quavered Mina.

"Pshaw! We Go-Aheads must not be afraid of a little storm----"

Wyn's voice was drowned in the clap of thunder which accompanied an
awful flash of lightning. With both came a splintering crash, the tent
seemed to rock, and for a moment its interior was vividly illuminated by
the electric bolt. The lightning had struck near at hand.



CHAPTER VIII

AT WINDMILL FARM


Both Wyn and Mrs. Havel--the bravest of the seven gathered in the big
tent--were frightened by this awful shock. The other girls clung to
them, Mina and Grace sobbing aloud.

"I--I feel as though that bolt fairly seared my eyeballs," groaned Frank
Cameron. "Oh, dear! Here's another!"

But this flash was not so severe. The girls peered out of the slit in
the front of the tent and screamed again in alarm. The rain had passed
for the moment. There, not many rods away, stood an old, half-dead oak
with its top all ablaze.

"That is where the lightning struck," cried Wyn.

"It is fortunate our tent was no nearer to that side of the plateau,"
observed Mrs. Havel.

Then the rain commenced again, and the thudding on the canvas drowned
out their voices for a time.

Somehow Wyn managed to get supper. The thunder and lightning gradually
subsided; but for an hour the rain came in intermittent dashes and it
was nine o'clock before they could venture forth into the cool, damp
air.

They had eaten their simple meal and set up the sleeping cots (which
were likewise of canvas) before that. There was a flooring of matched
planks to be laid, too; but the rain had wet them and the girls would
have to wait for to-morrow's sun to dry them.

"Oh! I don't believe living under canvas is going to be half so nice as
we thought," complained Mina. "I never _did_ think about its
storming."

"A bad beginning makes a good ending," quoted Mrs. Havel, brightly.
"This is only for one night."

"Excuse me! I don't want another like it, Auntie," declared her niece.

They could have no lamp to see to go to bed by, save Wyn's pocket
electric flash.

"And it's so plaguey awkward!" cried Frankie. "Here one of us has to
hold the snapper shut so the others can see. Here, Mina! I've played
Goddess of Liberty long enough; _you_ hold the lamp awhile."

Wyn slung a line from one end of the tent to the other, and on this they
hung their clothes. All the girls were provided with warm pajamas as
being safer night garments under canvas than the muslin robes they wore
at home.

"I _do_ feel so funny," cried Percy, hopping into her own nest. "I
can't curl my toes up in my nightgown--they stick right out at the
bottom of these trousers!"

"And doesn't the grass tickle your feet?" cried Frank, dancing about
between the cots. "My, my! this _is_ camping out in real earnest.
O-o-o! Here's a trickle of water running under the side of the tent,
Wyn."

"You can thank your stars it isn't running through a hole in the tent
right upon your heads," responded the captain. "Do get into bed, Frank."

Even Frank was quiet at last. The day had been a strenuous one. The
muttering thunder in the distance lulled them to sleep. Soon the big
white tent upon the knoll by the lake was silent save for the soft
breathing of the girls and their chaperone.

And--odd as it may seem, considering the strangeness of their
surroundings--all the girls slept soundly through the night. It was Wyn
Mallory herself who first opened her eyes and knew, by the light
outside, that it must be near sunrise.

Up she popped, stepping lightly over the cold grass so as not to arouse
her mates and Mrs. Havel, and reached the opening. She peered through.
To the east the horizon was aglow with melting shades of pink, amber,
turquoise and rose. The sun was coming!

Wyn snapped open the flap and ran out to welcome His Majesty. Then,
however, she remembered that she was in pajamas, and glanced around
swiftly to see if she was observed.

Not a soul was in sight. At that moment the first chorus of the
feathered choir that welcomes the day in the wilds, had ceased. Silence
had fallen upon the forest and upon the lake.

Only the lap, lap, lap of the little waves upon the shore was audible.
The wind did not stir the tree branches. There was a little chill in the
air after the storm, and the ground was saturated.

Wyn was doubtful about that "early morning plunge" in the lake that she
had heard the boys talk about, and which she had secretly determined to
emulate. But the boys' camp was at the far end of Gannet Island and she
could not see it at all. She wondered if Dave and his friends would
plunge into that awfully cold-looking water on this chilly morning?

To assure herself that the water _was_ cold she ran down to where
the canoes lay and poked one big toe into the edge of the pool. Ouch! it
was just like ice!

"No, no!" whispered Wyn, and scuttled up the bank again, hugging herself
tight in both arms to counteract the chill.

But she couldn't go back to bed. It was too beautiful a morning. And all
the others were sleeping soundly.

Wyn decided that she would not awaken them. But she slipped inside,
selected her own clothing, and in ten minutes was dressed. Then she ran
down to the pool again, palmed the water all over her face, rubbing her
cheeks and forehead and ears till they tingled, and then wiped dry upon
the towel she had brought with her.

Another five minutes and her hair was braided Indian fashion, and tied
neatly. Then the sun popped up--broadly agrin and with the promise in
his red countenance of a very warm day.

"Good-morning, Mr. Sun!" quoth Wyn, dancing a little dance of her own
invention upon the summit of the green knoll that overhung the lake
before the tent. "I hope you give us a fine day, and that we all enjoy
it."

With a final pirouette she ran back to the tent. Still Mrs. Havel and
the others slept.

"What lazy folk!" she told them, in a whisper, and then caught up a
six-quart pail and ran back through the open place and found the wood
road that Polly had written her about.

She knew that to her left lay the way to the landing where Mr. Jarley
kept his boats, and where their stores were under cover in a shed. But
breakfast was the first consideration, and in the other direction lay
Windmill Farm, at which Polly told her she had arranged for the
Go-Aheads to get milk, fresh eggs, and garden vegetables.

So Wyn tripped along this right hand extension of the wood path and,
within half an hour, came out of the forest upon the edge of the cleared
farm. Before her lay sloping fields up, up, up to a high knoll, on the
top of which stood a windmill, painted red.

The long arms of the mill, canvas-covered, rose much higher in the air
than the gilt vane that glistened on the very peak of the roof. The
rising sun shone full upon the windmill and made it a brilliant spot of
color against the blue sky; but the wind was still and the sails did not
cause the arms to revolve.

Just below the mill, upon the leisurely slope of the knoll, was set the
white-painted farmhouse, with well-kept stables and out-buildings and
poultry yards and piggery at the rear.

"What a pretty spot!" cried Wyn, aloud. "And the woods are so thick
between it and the lake that one would never know it was here."

She hurried on, for she knew by the smoke rising from the house chimney
and the bustle of sound from the barnyard that the farmer and his family
were astir.

Before she reached the side porch a number of cows, one with a bell on
her neck leading the herd, filed out through the side yard and took a
lane for the distant pasture. Horses neighed for their breakfasts, the
pigs squealed in their sties and there was a pretty young woman singing
at the well curb as she drew a great, splashing bucket of water.

"Oh! you're one of the girls Polly Jarley told us were coming to the
lake to camp?" said the farmer's wife, graciously. "And did you get here
in the storm last night? How do you all like it?"

"I can only answer for myself," declared Wyn, laughing. "They were all
asleep when I came away. But I guess if we have nothing worse to trouble
us than that shower we shall get along all right."

"You're a plucky girl--for a city one," said the woman. "Now, do you
want milk and eggs?"

Wyn told her what she wanted, and paid for the things. Then she started
back to camp, laden with the brimming milk pail and a basket which the
farmer's wife had let her have.

The sun was now mounting swiftly in his course across the sky. Faintly
she heard the sawmill at the Forge blowing a whistle to call the hands,
and knew that it was six o'clock. She hurried her steps and reached the
opening where the tent was pitched just as the first sleepy Go-Ahead was
creeping out to see what manner of day it might be.

"For goodness' sake, Wyn Mallory!" cried this yawning nymph in blue
pajamas. "Have you been up all night?"

"Aren't you cute in those things, Percy?" returned Wyn. "You look just
like a doll in a store window. Come on and dress. It's time you were all
up. Why! the day will be gone before you know it."

"Oh--ow--ouch!" yawned Percy, and then jumped quickly through the
opening of the tent because Grace Hedges pushed her.

"Why! the sun's up!" cried the big girl. "Why! and there's Wyn with
milk--and eggs--and pretty red radishes--and _peas_. Mercy me! Look
at all the things in this basket. Whose garden have you been robbing,
Wyn?"

"Come on!" commanded the captain of the Go-Ahead Club. "I brought a bag
of meal in _my_ canoe. And there is salt, and aluminum bowls, and
spoons. We can make a good breakfast of eggs and mush. Hurry up, all you
lazy folk, and help get breakfast."

"O-o-o! isn't the grass cold!" exclaimed one girl who had just stepped
out from between woolen blankets.

"I--I feel as though I were dressing outdoors," gasped another, with
chattering teeth. "D-don't you suppose anybody can see through this
tent?"

"Nonsense, goosey!" ejaculated Frank. "Hurry up and get into your
clothes. You take up more room than an elephant."

"Did you ever share a dressing room with an elephant, Frank?" demanded
Bess.

"Not before," returned the thin girl, grimly. "But I am preparing for
that experience when I try to dress in the same tent with Gracie."

But they were all eager to get outside when they sniffed the smoke of
the campfire, and, a little later, the odor of eggs "frying in the pan."
Despite the saturated condition of most of the underbrush Wyn knew where
to get dry wood for fuel, Dave had long ago taught her that bit of
woodcraft.

With a small camp hatchet she had attacked the under branches of the
spruce and low pine trees, and soon had a good heap of these dead sticks
near the tent. She turned over a flat stone that lay near by for a
hearth. Before the other girls and Mrs. Havel were dressed and had
washed their faces at the lakeside, Captain Wyn was stirring mush in a
kettle and frying eggs in pork fat in a big aluminum pan.

"Sunny side up; or with a veil of brown drawn over their beautiful
faces, Frankie?" asked Wyn, referring to the sizzling eggs. "How do you
like 'em?"

"I like 'em on toast--'Adam and Eve on a raft' Brother Ed calls 'em. And
when he wants 'em scrambled he says, 'Wreck 'em!'"

"You'll get no toast this morning," declared Wyn. "You'll be satisfied
with crackers--or go without."

"Cruel lady!" quoth Frank. "I expect I'll have to accept my yoke of
eggs----"

"Only the _yolk_ of the eggs, Frank?"

"No, I mean the pair I want," laughed Frankie. "And I'll take 'em
without the toast and--'sunny side up.'"

"Good! I can't turn an egg without breaking it--never could. Now, girls!
bring your plates. I'll flop a pair of eggs onto each plate. There's
crackers in the box. Hand around your bowls. The cornmeal mush is nice,
and there is lovely milk and sugar if you want it. For 'them that likes'
there is coffee."

"M-m-m! Doesn't it smell good?" cried Grace, as the party came trooping
to the fire with their kits.

"I--I thought I'd miss the sweet butter," said Bess, sitting down
cross-legged on the already dry grass. "But somehow I've got _such_
an appetite."

"I hope the boys are having as good a time," sighed Wyn, sitting back
upon her heels and spooning up her mush, flooded with the new milk.
"Isn't this just scrumptious, Mrs. Havel?"

"It is the simple life," replied that lady, smiling. "Plenty of fresh
air, no frills, plain food--that ought to do much for you girls this
summer. I am sure if you can endure plain food and simple living for
these several weeks before us, you will all be improved in both health
and mind."



CHAPTER IX

JOHN JARLEY, EXILE


This could be no day of leisure for the Go-Ahead Club. To get settled in
camp was the first task--and that no small one.

There was the plank flooring to be laid in the big tent, the cook-tent
to be erected, and the floor laid in that. There was a sheet-iron stove
to erect, with a smoke pipe to the outside, and an asbestos "blanket" to
wrap around the pipe to keep the canvas of the tent-top from scorching.

There were the swinging shelves to put up, fastened to the ridge-pole of
the cook-tent, on which certain supplies could be kept out of the reach
of the wood mice and other small vermin. Indeed, there were a dozen and
one things of moment to see about, beside bringing over to the camp a
selection of the stores--and their extra clothes--from John Jarley's
shack by the boat landing.

Wyn was a competent girl and knew something about using a hammer and a
saw. The flooring planks for both tents had been assembled at Denton,
and were numbered; but after they got the sleepers laid Wyn realized
that she and her mates had tackled more of a task than they had
expected.

"And the boys will be just as busy as they can be to-day," she said to
the other girls. "It's a wonder if everything they owned didn't get
soaked last evening.

"Now, we can't depend upon the Busters to give us any assistance just
now. Doubt if we see 'hide nor hair' of them to-day. But we need
somebody to make these floors properly. There! Bess has stuck a splinter
into her hand already."

"Plague take the old board!" snapped Bess, dropping it and sucking on a
ragged little wound in her hand.

"You see," Wyn said, quickly. "I'm going to get some help. Anybody want
to walk over to Jarley's with me?"

"Are you going to get that man to come here?" demanded Bess, sharply.

"Don't see what else there is to do--do you, Bessie?"

"Isn't there anybody else to help us around here? There must be other
squatters."

"I do not know of any. We chance to know the Jarleys----"

"Not I!" cried Bess, shaking her head. "_I_ don't know them--and I
won't know them."

"All right. You and Grace and Percy take the pails and try for some
berries in the woods yonder. I saw some ripe ones this morning. Fresh
picked berries will add nicely to our bill-of-fare; isn't that so, Mrs.
Havel?"

"Quite so, my dear," replied the widow, and buried herself in her book
again, for, as she had told the girls, she had not come here to work;
they must treat her as a guest.

"Are you going to stop with Mrs. Havel, Mina?" continued Wyn. "Then come
along with me, Frank. We'll go over and see if the Jarleys bite. Bess is
afraid they will!"

"She was telling us all about John Jarley," said Wyn's chum, as the two
left the camp on the green knoll. "Do you suppose he stole that motor
boat and the box of silver statuettes?"

                   *       *       *       *       *

"I don't _know_ anything about it," said Wyn, briskly. "But I know
that he and Polly are very poor, and with a motor boat and five thousand
dollars' worth of silver, it looks to me as though they would be very
foolish to suffer the privations they do. It's nasty gossip, that's all
it is."

"Well, Bess says the man stole from her father years ago----"

"I don't know much about _that_, either," interrupted Wynifred.
"But I think Bess is overstepping the line of exact truth when she says
John Jarley stole from her father. They were doing business together,
and Mr. Lavine accused Jarley of 'selling him out' in a real estate
deal.

"I asked my father about it. Father says the whole business was a little
misty, at best. If Jarley did all Lavine said, he merely was guilty of
being false to his friend and partner. It is doubtful if he made much
out of it. But Lavine talked loudly and long; he had lots of friends
even then. The talk and all fairly hounded the Jarleys out of town.

"And now," said Wyn, warmly, "the Lavines are rich and the Jarleys have
always been poor. Mr. Jarley is an exile from his old home and such
friends as he had in Denton. It is really a shame, I think--and you'll
say so, too, when you see what a splendid girl Polly is."

The two girls had followed the edge of the lake toward the landing,
instead of taking the path through the wood. Suddenly they came in sight
of the float and shack, with the several boats in Mr. Jarley's keeping.

Back from the shore was a tiny cottage, painted red, its window sash and
door striped with yellow. It was a gay little cot, and everything about
it was as neat and as gaily painted as a Dutch picture.

As Wyn and Frank came down the hill they saw Polly Jarley run out of the
house and down to the landing. Her father was busy there at an
overturned boat--evidently caulking the seams.

The boatman's girl did not see her visitors coming; but Wyn and Frank
got a good view of her, and the latter exclaimed to Wyn:

"Why! she's as pretty as a picture! She's handsome! If she only had on
nice clothes she would be a perfect beauty."

"Wouldn't she?" returned Wyn, happily. "I think my Polly Jolly is just
the _dearest_ looking creature. Isn't she brown? And what pretty
feet and hands she has!"

Polly wore a very short skirt, patched and stained. Her blouse was open
at the throat, so that the soft roundness of the curve of her shoulder
was plainly visible.

Out of the open neck of the blouse her deeply tanned throat rose like a
bronze column; the roses in her cheeks and on her lips relieved the
sun-darkened skin. Her hair was in two great plaits and it was evident
that she seldom troubled about a hat. She was lithe, graceful as she
could be, and bubbling over with good health if not good spirits.

And this was a morning--after the rain--to make even a lachrymose person
lively. The smell of all growing things was in the nostrils--the warmth
of the sun lapped one about like a mantle--it was a beautiful, beautiful
day,--one to be remembered.

Wyn shouted and started running down the hill. Polly heard her, turned
to see who it might be who called, and recognizing her friend, set out
to meet her quite as eagerly.

"Oh, Miss Wynifred!" cried the boatman's daughter.

"Polly Jolly! This is Frank Cameron." She kissed Polly warmly. "How fine
you look, Polly! Tell me! will all we girls look as healthy and be as
strong as you are, by the autumn? You're a picture!"

"A pretty shabby one, I fear, Miss Wyn," protested Polly, yet smiling.
"I am in the very oldest clothes I have, for there is much dirty work to
be done around here. We have hardly got ready for the summer yet. Father
has been so lame."

"And you must introduce me to your father, Polly," Wyn said, quickly.
"We have something for him to do--if he will be so kind."

"All you need to do is to say what it is, Wynifred," responded Polly,
warmly. "If either of us can do anything for you we will only be too
glad."

The three girls walked to the spot where Mr. Jarley was engaged upon his
boat. He was not at all the sort of a person whom the girls from town
had expected to see. The boatmen and woodsmen who sometimes drifted into
Denton were rough characters. This man, after being ten years and more
in the woods, savored little of the rough life he had followed.

He was a small man, very neat in his suit of brown overalls, with
grizzled hair, a short-cropped gray mustache, and without color in his
face save the coat of tan his out-of-door life had given him.

There was a gentle, deprecatory air about him that reminded Wyn strongly
of Polly herself. But this manner was almost the only characteristic
that father and daughter had in common.

Mr. Jarley was low-spoken, too; he listened quietly and with an air of
deference to what Wyn had to propose.

"Surely I will come around and do all I can to aid you, Miss Mallory,"
he said. "You shall pick out the stores you think you will need, and we
will take a boat around to your camp. Your stores will be perfectly safe
here--if you wish to risk them in my care," he added.

"Of course, sir. And we expect to pay you for keeping them. If we have a
long spell of rainy weather the dampness would be bound to spoil things
in our tents."

"True. This corrugated iron shack will keep the stores dry, and the door
has a good padlock," returned Mr. Jarley. "Now, you young ladies pick
out what you wish carried over to the camp and I will soon be at your
service."

"Isn't he nice?" whispered Wyn to Frank, when Polly had run into the
house for something, and Mr. Jarley himself was out of hearing.

"Why! he is a perfect gentleman!" exclaimed Frank. "How can Bess talk as
she does about him? I am surprised at her."

"And these other people about here, too!" declared Wyn, warmly. "What an
evil tongue Gossip has! That man--Shelton, is his name?--at the other
end of the lake, who has accused Mr. Jarley of stealing his boat and the
silver statues, ought to be punished."

"Well--of course--we don't _know_ anything more about the Jarleys
than these other people," observed Frank, doubtfully.

"I judge people by their appearance a good deal, I suppose," admitted
Wyn. "And mother tells me that is a poor way to judge. Just the same, I
_feel_ that the Jarleys are being maligned. And I would love to
help them."

"Well! there isn't much chance to do that unless you can prove that he
_is_ honest, after all," remarked Frank.

"I know it. Everything is going to tell against him unless the lost boat
and the images can be found. I wonder where it was sunk? Do you suppose
Polly would tell us just where the accident happened?"

"Ask her."

"I will, if I get a chance," declared Wyn. "And wouldn't it be fine if
we girls could find the sunken boat and the box belonging to Dr.
Shelton, and clear up the whole trouble?"

"Even _that_ would not satisfy Bessie Lavine," said Frankie, with a
little laugh. "You know--Bess is 'awful sot in her ways.' When she has
made up her mind that a thing is so, you can't shake it out of her with
a charge of dynamite!"

"You never tried the dynamite; did you, Frank?" queried Wyn, smiling.

"No! But I've wanted to--at times."

"Bessie is like her father--obstinate. It is a family trait Yet, once
get her turned around--show her that she has been wrong and unfair to
anybody--and she can't do too much for her to prove how sorry she is."

"That's right! look how she talked against the boys--especially against
Dave Shepard. And now you can just wager she won't be able to do enough
for him to show how grateful she is for being pulled out of the water,"
laughed Frank.

Mr. Jarley was ready to load the boat for them, and Polly came back with
the key to the shack. Polly could not go over to the camp, for both she
and her father could not leave the landing at once. Some fishermen might
come along at any time to hire a boat. The season was opening now, and
after the "lean months" that had gone by, the Jarleys had to be on the
watch for every dollar that might come their way.

"It seems an awfully hard life for such a man--and for Polly," whispered
Wyn to her companion. "I'd just _love_ to have Polly for a member
of our club."

"So would I," agreed Frank. "She's just as sweet as she can be. But Bess
would go right up in the air!"

"Oh, I know it," sighed Wyn. "Somehow we have got to make Bessie Lavine
see the error of her ways. Oh, dear! why can't people be nice to each
other all the time?"

"Goodness me, Wyn Mallory!" exclaimed Frank. "What do you expect while
there still remains 'original sin' in the world? That seems to have been
left out of _your_ constitution; but most of the rest of us have
our share."



CHAPTER X

THE "HAPPY DAY"


That day the camp upon the hill overlooking Lake Honotonka was
completed. Mr. Jarley was very helpful, for beside laying the floors of
the two tents, and setting up the stove, he built for the girls an
open-air fireplace of flat rocks, dragged up from the shore; set up
their plank dining table, cut and set three posts for their clothes-line
(for they were to do their own laundry work), dug shallow ditches all
around the tents, with a drain to carry off any water that might
collect; built an "overlook-seat" at the foot of a big birch which
overhung the water, and did countless other little services which most
of the Go-Ahead Club appreciated.

Bessie Lavine did not come back from the berrying expedition until Mr.
Jarley had gone back to the landing; and of course she hadn't much to
say about the change in the appearance of things. But the other girls
were enthusiastic.

"And now we must have a name for the camp," said Mrs. Havel, as they sat
down to the oilcloth-covered table to dinner.

The arrangements for cooking and eating were of the simplest; yet
everything was neat. Using oilcloth saved laundry, and using paper
napkins was likewise a help. The food was served daintily, if simply,
and although all the girls were used to much finer table service at
home, the hearty appetites engendered by the pure air of lake and forest
made even coarse food taste delicious.

They were all instantly enthusiastic over their chaperone's suggestion.
Half a dozen names were suggested on the spur of the moment; but no
particular one met the approval of all the girls, immediately.

"We'll have to draw lots," suggested Mina.

"No! let's each write down the best names we can think of, and then vote
on them," said Bess.

"Goody!" cried Frank. "We must have a name that fits, but is pretty and
not too 'hifalutin',' as my grandmother would say."

"Naming the camp is all very well, girls," said Wyn, seriously, rapping
on the table for order. "But there are more important things to decide.
The work of the camp is to be properly apportioned----"

"Oh, dear me!" groaned Grace. "Have we _got_ to work? After
traipsing over four miles of huckleberry pasture all the morning I feel
as though I had done my share for to-day."

"And she ate as many as she picked!" cried Bess. "Oh, I'm going to tell
on you, Miss! You're not going to crawl out of your fair share."

"I didn't enlist to work," declared Grace, with some sullenness. "What's
the fun of camping out if one has to work like a slave all the time?"

"And we haven't even begun!" cried Frank. "For shame, Gracie!"

"Now, none of the members of the Go-Aheads, I feel sure," quoth Wyn,
quietly, "will try to escape her just burden. To have the fun of camping
out under canvas we must each do our share of the work quickly and
cheerfully. We will divide up the tasks, and change them about weekly.
Of course, Mrs. Havel is not supposed to lift her hand. She is our
guest."

"Oh, but auntie is going to show us how to make pancakes," cried Percy.

"I'll learn to do _that_," said Grace, brightening up. "For I love
'em."

"Of course--piggy-wiggy!" scoffed Bess. "Come, Wyn, you set us our tasks
and any girl who kicks about 'em shall be fined."

"We'll do better than that. We will use Mina's idea of drawing lots
about the work. There are certain things to be done each week--each day,
of course. Two girls must 'tend fires and cook; two girls must air and
make beds, clean up about the tents, and wait on table if needed; the
other two must get up early and go for the milk and vegetables, gather
berries, and do odd jobs. The girls who do the 'chamber work' should
wash the dishes, too, for the cooks will be too tired and heated after
preparing the meals to clean up the tables and mess with the
dishwashing.

"Now are those three divisions satisfactory? Every third week, you see,
the two who go for the milk, etcetera, will have an easy job. Is it
agreed?"

There was no objection raised to this plan, and the girls paired off as
they usually did--Wyn and Frank together, Grace and Percy, and Bess and
Mina.

Then they drew straws--really grass blades of three lengths--to see
which couple should do which. It fell to the lot of Bess and Mina to
cook for a week. Grace and Percy Havel were "chambermaids," and Wyn and
Frank Cameron had the good luck to get the shortest blade of grass.

"Of course, _I'd_ have to work hard two weeks before getting a
chance to rest," grumbled Grace. "Probably something will happen after
we're here a fortnight, and we'll all have to go home."

"It would take something _awful_ to send me home from this
beautiful spot in a fortnight," cried Mina.

"Just my luck if you all got smallpox, or something equally contagious,"
growled Grace.

"Then you certainly would be fortunate for once--if you escaped it,"
chuckled Wyn.

"Not a bit of it. They'd quarantine you here, and have nurses, and lots
of nice jellies and ices for you; while poor unlucky me would be packed
back to Denton for the rest of the summer--and after working like a
slave, dishwashing, and sweeping, and making beds, and cooking, and the
like, for two whole weeks."

Despite Grace's complaints, the club as a whole was satisfied with the
arrangements for taking care of the camp. There had been a secondary
consideration in the minds of all their mothers when permission was
obtained for the Go-Aheads to spend the summer under canvas. Mrs. Evelyn
Havel was a wondrously good housekeeper. She had been trained in
domestic science, too. And she had promised to have an oversight of each
girl's work and to teach them, from time to time, many helpful domestic
things.

This phase of the camping-out plan Wyn had "played up" in getting the
consent of all the parents; and for one, Wyn was determined to carry the
scheme through. When they went back to Denton in the fall she proposed
to be a good "plain cook" herself, and she hoped the other girls would
fall in cheerfully with the project also. She knew Mrs. Havel would do
all she could toward teaching them.

The work once apportioned to them, the girls' minds could be given more
particularly to the naming of the camp. But they would not decide upon
it until bedtime. However, all six cudgeled their brains to invent
striking names.

It was decided that only one name could be suggested by each girl, and
this would give them a list of six to choose from. Oddly enough both
Mina and Grace chose the same--Camp Pleasant. It looked as though
_that_ name had a lead at the start.

Frank suggested Birch Tree Camp--for there was an enormous birch on the
knoll at the foot of which Mr. Jarley had set up a bench for them.

"Now you, Bess?" said Wyn, as mistress of ceremonies.

"Camp Pleasant is all right," admitted Miss Lavine; "only it is not very
distinctive. I expect there are thousands of Camp Pleasants--don't you
think so?"

"What's the matter with _my_ name?" demanded Frank Cameron.

"I find the same fault with it," replied Bess. "It is not distinctive
enough. Now, I don't know that I have the right idea; but I believe that
calling the camp after our club wouldn't be so bad. And it would mean
something."

"Go-Ahead Camp? Or Camp Go-Ahead?" cried Grace.

"There's nothing romantic about it, that's sure," objected Mina.

"Goodness me! we're not looking for romance, I hope," cried the
strong-minded Bess.

"Bess is a suffragette in embryo--I declare!" cried Frank, laughing.

"How does Camp Cheer sound?" suggested Percy. "Now, that's real nice,
_I_ think."

"Say, we've got to vote on them, anyway," said Grace. "_We've_ got
two votes for Camp Pleasant, Mina."

"But hold on!" cried Frank. "Here's one hasn't been heard from. The
shrinking violet of all our crew! What's the matter, Wynnie? Can't you
decide on a name?"

"I thought of one last evening when we were paddling over here from the
Forge--before the rain," admitted the captain.

"Well! for pity's sake!" gasped Grace. "That's before we even knew it
was to have a name."

"I didn't think particularly about naming the camp," said Wyn,
reflectively, "but from the water, with the squall working up behind us,
and the last light of the day lingering on this little hill, the name
flashed into my mind."

"What is it?" chorused the others. "Do tell us, Wyn!"

"Green Knoll."

"Just _that_?" cried Grace. "'Green Knoll'? Why! It _was_
green; wasn't it?"

"I remember how green it seemed from the lake," added Bess. "It's not a
silly name, either. It means something."

"I take it all back about 'Birch Tree Camp,'" declared Frank. "'Green
Knoll.' There's a dignity about that--as our assistant principal, Miss
Hutchins, would say."

"It's a fine name, _I_ think," admitted Percy Havel, slowly. "I
withdraw Camp Cheer. It may not be so cheerful here all the
time--especially if we catch smallpox, as Grace says. But it will
_always_ be green up here on the knoll."

"As long as we are here to see it, at least," agreed Frankie, nodding.

"Say! our Camp Pleasant is swamped!" cried Grace. "What say, Mina? Shall
we surrender?"

"Green Knoll sounds very pretty," agreed the sweet-tempered Mina
Everett.

"Oh, girls! do you really all like it?" Wyn cried.

"I vote aye!" said Frank, with emphasis. The other four followed in
quick succession.

"Why, that's lovely of you!" cried the captain of the club. "I--I was
afraid nobody would like it but myself."

"It's so appropriate," said Bess.

"It's all _right_," Frank declared. "I wonder what the Busters will
call their camp?"

"They named it last fall," said Wyn. "Dave told me. It is
Cave-in-the-Wood Camp. Not so bad--eh?"

"Pretty good for a parcel of boys," observed Bess.

"Well, I'm glad the worry's over," yawned Grace. "Let's go to bed. You
know, Percy, we've got to work like slaves to-morrow, so it behooves us
to get to bed betimes."

"Mercy!" cried Frankie, "they'll be wanting to make up the cots before
we are out of them in the morning. Come on! let's all turn in."

There was a general roll-call at daybreak the next morning. Wynifred and
Frank were not the only ones to get up as soon as day approached,
although to them had been allotted the task of going to Windmill Farm
for the milk and the day's supply of vegetables.

They had agreed the night before to venture into the water. The boys
always bragged about this early morning dip, which was a rule of their
camp.

"I don't see why we shouldn't be able to do anything those boys do,"
declared Bess, with her usual contempt for the vaunted superiority of
the other sex. "If they can run down and plunge right into the water,
right out of bed, why can't _we_?"

So even Grace--who had her doubts about it--ventured on this second
morning. They slipped out of their sleeping clothes and into bathing
suits. There _was_ a little chill in the air; but Wyn assured them
the water would be warmer than the air and--if they remained in half an
hour, or so--the sun would be up and his rays would warm them when they
came out.

And Wyn's prophecy was proven right. The six girls disported in the lake
like a flock of ducks. Mrs. Havel, however, would not let them remain
more than twenty minutes. The sun had shot up, then, and already the
green knoll was warm in his first rays.

Wyn and Frank scurried into their clothes and hurried away to the farm
for the milk and vegetables. Frank saw the windmill on the summit of the
hill, and nothing would do but she must run up and inspect it. The
breeze was rising and the farmer, who was likewise the miller, was
preparing to "grind a grist."

"We've got a good bit of grain on hand; but we've not had wind enough of
daytimes lately to grind a handful," he said. "I can't invite you
inside, young ladies, because when they set up this mill for me they
made the door, as you see, right behind the sails. When the arms are in
motion I am shut in till the grist is ground; or I stop the sails with
this lever just inside the door--d'ye see?"

As the girls went back toward the house the arms began turning with a
groaning sound. The wind became fresher. Round and round the long arms
turned, while the canvas bellied like the sails on a boat.

Louder and louder grew the hum of the mill. The miller threw in the
clutch and the stones began to grind. They heard the corn poured into
the hopper, and then the shriek of the kernels as they were ground
between the stones. The whole building began to shake.

"What a ponderous thing it is!" exclaimed Frank. "And see! there's a
tiny window in the roof facing the lake. I imagine you could see clear
to Meade's Forge from that window."

"Farther than that, my dear--much farther," said the farmer's wife,
handing Frank the basket of fresh vegetables over the garden fence. "On
a clear day you can see 'way across the lake to Braisely Park. The tower
of Dr. Shelton's fine house is visible from that window. And the whole
spread of the lake. But the air must be very clear."

"Goody! We'll bring the other girls up here some day when the mill is
not running and climb to the top of the mill for the view," declared
Frank.

Bess and Mina, with some advice from Mrs. Havel, made a very good
breakfast. Although neither was very domestic in her tastes, the two
young cooks were on their mettle, and did the best they could. If the
hot biscuits were not quite so flaky as their mothers' own cooks made
them at home, and some of the poached eggs broke in the poacher, and the
broiled bacon got afire several time and "fussed them all up," as Mina
said, the general opinion of the occupants of Green Knoll Camp was that
"there was no kick coming"--of course, expressed thus by the slangy
Frank Cameron.

Grace _would_ dawdle over the dishwashing, and Percy was a good
second. Therefore, those two still had work on their hands when Bess
sighted a motor boat coming swiftly toward their camp from the direction
of Gannet Island.

"Now somebody's going to butt in and bother us," declared Bess. "It
can't be the Busters, I s'pose?"

"That's exactly who it is!" cried Wyn, delightedly. "That's the _Happy
Day_. Dave said if his cousin, Frank Dumont, could come up here, he
would bring his father's motor boat. And he must have come yesterday
when we were busy and did not see him."

"Hurrah!" cried Frank. "A motor boat beats a canoe all to pieces."

"The Busters are aboard, all right," sighed Bess, after another look.
"Now we'll have a noisy time."

"Now there'll be something doing!" quoth Frank. "That's the trouble with
a crowd of girls. After they have played 'Ring Around the Rosy' and
'London Bridge is Falling Down' they don't know another living thing to
do except to sit down and look prim and be prosy. But with boys it's
different. There's something doing all the time."

"You should have been a boy, Frank," declared Bess, with some disgust.

"If I was one, I'd be hanging around your house all the time, Bessie
mine," laughed the other, hugging the boy-hater.

"Get away! I'd have Patrick turn the hose on you if you did!" cried
Bess, in mock wrath.

But secretly, Miss Lavine, as well as her mates, was glad of the break
in the quiet affairs of Green Knoll Camp made by the appearance of Dave
Shepard and his spirited chums.

"Oh, crackey, girls! you ought to see our camp! We've got a regular
pirates' cave," declared Ferdinand Roberts.

"Did your stores get wet in that awful storm?" demanded Wyn from the top
of the knoll.

"Not much. We managed to cover them with the canvas. And now we've
cleaned out the cave and it's great. All we need is some captives to
take over there and chain to the rocks," laughed Dave.

"And fatten 'em up till they're fit to eat," drawled Tubby Blaisdell.

"Stop it, Tub!" cried one of his mates. "We're not going to play
cannibals, but pirates."

"Well, in either case," declared Bess, "you will not get captives at
Green Knoll Camp."

"Is that what you call this pretty hillock?" cried Dave. "Well, it
_is_ a beauty spot! And how nice you girls have made everything.
Why! you don't need any boys around at all."

"That's what I've always told them," murmured Bess. "They're only a
nuisance."

"We came over to see if we could help you," continued Dave. "Here's my
cousin, Frank Dumont, girls. Some of you know him, anyway. This is his
motor boat, and if there really is nothing we can do to help you here,
why, Frank wants to take you all--with Mrs. Havel, if she is
agreeable--for a trip around the lake. We've got supplies aboard and
we'll stop somewhere and make a picnic dinner."

"Goody!" cried Mina. "Then we will not have to make dinner here, Bess."

"Agreed!" announced Grace. "There will be no more dishes to wash until
evening, then."

"Well, I don't know," Dave said, slowly. "Of course we like to have you
girls go along; but usually girls do the grub-getting and dishwashing on
a picnic."

"Nothing doing, then," declared Frank, laughing at him. "This crowd of
girls are going as invited guests, or not at all. We promise to be
ornamental, but not useful."

"You're ornamental, all right, in those blouses and bloomers," declared
Ferd, for the girls had discarded skirts about the camp, and felt much
more free and comfortable than they usually did.

"If worse comes to worst," said Mrs. Havel, smiling, "_I_ will be
the camp drudge, boys, for I want to see the lake shore in panorama."

"Oh, let 'em come," drawled Tubby, still lying on his back on the little
deck of the _Happy Day_. "They'll get hungry some time and
_have_ to cook for us."

And so, amid much bustle, and laughter, and raillery, the girls of Green
Knoll Camp joined the boys of Cave-in-the-Wood Camp in the motor boat
for a trip around the big lake.



CHAPTER XI

WHERE THE ACCIDENT HAPPENED


"And where is Professor Skillings?" asked Mrs. Havel, as the well-laden
launch drew away from the little natural landing which defended one end
of the girls' bathing beach at Green Knoll Camp.

"Bless your heart, ma'am," said Ferdinand Roberts, laughing, "the old
gentleman is trying to figure out one of Tubby's unanswerable
arguments--that is, I believe, what you'd call it."

"One of Tubby's unanswerable arguments?" cried Wyn. "For pity's sake!
what can that be?"

"Why, at breakfast this morning the professor got to 'dreaming,' as he
sometimes does. He tells us lots of interesting things when he begins
talking that way; but sometimes, if we are in a hurry to get away, we
have to put the stopper in," chuckled Ferd.

"Tubby usually does it. Tubby really _is_ good for something beside
eating and sleeping, girls--you wouldn't believe it!"

"You _do_ surprise us," admitted Bess Lavine, cuttingly.

"All right. But just wait and listen. We wanted to get away early and
come over here after you," said Ferd. "And the professor began to give
us one of his talks. This time it was on literature. By and by he says:

"'We are told that it took, Gray, author of 'An Elegy Written in a
Country Churchyard,' seven years to write that famous poem."

"'Gee!' exclaimed Tubby. 'If he'd only known stenography how much better
off he'd been.'

"'Ahem! how do you prove that, Mr. Blaisdell?' inquired the professor,
quite amazed.

"'Why, we took that as a lesson in the shorthand class of the Commercial
Department last spring,' said Tubby, 'and some of the real good ones
could do Gray's Elegy, from dictation, in seven minutes. See what Gray
would have saved if he'd known shorthand!'

"And that completely shut up the professor," said Ferd, as the laughter
broke out. "He hasn't recovered from the shock yet."

The _Happy Day_ was turned toward the Forge first, skirting the
shore all the way. That brought them, of course, close to Jarley's
Landing. Polly was just pushing out in a little skiff.

Wyn and Frank waved to her; but the other girls did not know her, of
course, and only watched the boatman's daughter curiously.

"How well she rows!" exclaimed Percy.

"Say! but she's a fine looking girl," said Dave, earnestly. "What
handsome arms she's got."

"Handsome is as handsome does," remarked Bess, snappishly.

"She's as brown as an Indian," observed Mina.

"That doesn't hurt her," declared Dave, stoutly. "Is _she_ the girl
you were speaking about, Wyn?"

"She is Polly Jarley, and she is my friend," responded Wynifred,
quietly. "And I believe her to be as good as she is beautiful."

"Then there are wings sprouting under her blouse," laughed Frank; "for
there's no girl _I_ ever saw who could hold a candle to Polly for
right down beauty."

"She looks so sad," said Mina, softly.

"Why shouldn't she be sad?" Wyn demanded, "with everybody talking about
her father the way they do?"

"Come, girls!" commanded Mrs. Havel. "Don't gossip. Find some other
topic of conversation."

"Ha! quite so," cried Frank, with a grimace upon her own homely face. "A
girl may be as pretty as a picture and spoil it all by an ugly frame of
mind. How's _that_ for a spark thrown from the wheel?"

"Stand back, audience!" exclaimed Dave. "Something like that is likely
to happen any minute."

"I don't really see how the old professor gets on with you boys at all,"
remarked Bessie Lavine, with a sigh. "You'd worry the life out of an
angel."

"But Professor Skillings is _not_ an angel--thanks be!" exclaimed
Dave.

"He's a good old scout!" drawled Tubby.

"He just hasn't forgotten what it is to be a boy," began Ferd.

"But, goodness me!" cried Frankie. "He's forgotten about everything
else, at some time or other; hasn't he?"

"Not what he's learned out of books and from observation," declared
Dave. "But my goodness! he _is_ absent-minded. Yesterday a couple
of us fellows chopped up a good heap of firewood. We don't have a fancy
stove like you girls, but just an out-of-doors fireplace. After supper
the dear old prof, said he'd wash the dishes, and we dumped all the pots
and pans together and--what do you think?"

"Couldn't think," drawled Frank. "I'm too lazy. Tell us without making
your story so complicated."

"Why, we found he had carried an armful of firewood down to the shore
and was industriously swashing the sticks up and down in the water,
thinking he was washing the supper dishes."

With similar conversation, and merry badinage, the journey around Lake
Honotonka progressed. The shores of the lake, in full summer dress, were
beautiful. There was an awning upon the motor boat, so the rapidly
mounting sun did not trouble the party. But it _was_ hot at
noonday, and through Dave's glasses they could see that the sails on the
mill behind Windmill Farm were still. There wasn't air enough stirring,
even at that height, to keep the arms in motion, and down here on the
water the temperature grew baking.

They ran into a cool cove and went ashore for dinner. Nobody wanted
anything hot, and so, as there was a splendid spring at hand, they made
lemonade and ate sandwiches of potted chicken and hard-boiled eggs which
the boys had been thoughtful enough to bring along. The girls had crisp
salad leaves to go with the chicken, too, and some nice mayonnaise.
Altogether even Tubby was willing to pronounce the "cold bite"
satisfying.

"And I'm no hypocrite," declared the fat youth, earnestly. "When I say a
thing I mean it."

"What _is_ your idea of a hypocrite, Tubby?" demanded Wyn,
laughing.

"A boy who comes to school smiling," replied Tubby, promptly.

After a while a little breeze ruffled the surface of the lake again and
the _Happy Day_ was made ready for departure. They continued then
toward the west, where lay the preserve known as Braisely Park, in which
there were at least a dozen rich men's lodges. They were all in sight
from the lake--at some point, at least. Each beautiful place had a water
privilege, and the landings and boathouses were very picturesque. There
was a whole fleet of craft here, too, ranging in size from a cedar canoe
to a steam yacht. The latter belonged to Dr. Shelton, the man who had
accused John Jarley of stealing the motor boat _Bright Eyes_ and
the five thousand dollars' worth of silver images from the ruined
temples of Yucatan.

"And of course," said Wyn, warmly, "that is nonsense. For if Polly and
her father had done such a thing, they would turn the silver into money;
wouldn't they, and stop living in poverty?"

"Well, it looks mighty funny where that boat and all could have gone,"
Bessie remarked.

"If she sank as quickly as he says, the wreck must lie off Gannet Island
somewhere," remarked Dave, reflectively.

"Oh! I wish we could find it," commented Wyn.

"If it ever sank at all," sneered Bessie.

But it was almost impossible to quarrel with Wyn Mallory. Frank would
have "got hot" a dozen times at Bess while the party chanced to discuss
the Jarleys and their troubles. But the captain of the Go-Ahead Club was
patient.

Bye and bye--and after mid-afternoon--the _Happy Day_ came around
to the west end of Gannet Island. Up among the trees a glint of white
betrayed the presence of the boys' tent. In a little sheltered cove
below the site of Cave-in-the-Wood Camp, danced the fleet of canoes.

Nothing would do but the girls and Mrs. Havel must go ashore and see the
cave and the camp.

"And we can have tea," said Ferd. "How's that, girls? Professor
Skillings has got a whole canister of best gunpowder in his private
stores--and there he is on that log, examining specimens."

"Oh, dear me!" cried Frankie, "tea isn't going to satisfy the gnawing of
_my_ appetite."

"How about a fish-fry?" demanded Dave, swerving the motor boat suddenly
away from the landing.

"Where'll you get your fish?" cried Percy Havel.

"In the fish store at Meade's Forge," scoffed Ferdinand Roberts.

"That's too far to run for supper--and back again--this afternoon,
boys," said Mrs. Havel.

"Just you wait," cried Dave. "I caught sight of something just
now--there she is!"

The _Happy Day_ rounded a wooded point of the island. Near the
shore floated Polly Jarley's skiff and Polly was just getting up her
anchor.

"She's been fishing all day!" exclaimed Wyn.

"And I'll wager she's got a fine mess of perch," said Dave. "Hi, Miss
Jarley!" he shouted. "Hold on a minute."

Polly had heard the chugging of the motor boat. Now she stood up
suddenly and waved both hands in some excitement.

"What does she want?" demanded Bess.

"Get out! farther out!" the boatman's daughter shouted, her clear voice
echoing from the wooded heights of the island. "Danger here!"

"What's the matter with her?" demanded Bess again. "Is there a submarine
mine sunk here?"

But Dave veered off, taking a wider course from the shore.

"What is the matter, Polly?" shouted Wyn, standing up and making a
megaphone of her hands.

"Snags!" replied the other girl. "Here's where father ran Dr. Shelton's
boat on a root. The shallow water here is full of them. Look out"

"Say!" cried Frank Dumont "We don't want to sink the old _Happy
Day_."

"So _this_ is where the accident happened; is it?" observed Wyn,
looking around at the shores of the little cove and the contour of the
island's outline.

"Humph!" snapped Bessie Lavine, sitting down quickly. "I don't believe
there was any accident at all. It was all a story."



CHAPTER XII

AN OVERTURN


Dave Shepard had stopped the motor boat land now he hailed the pretty
girl in the skiff.

"I say, Miss Jarley! did you have any luck?"

"I've got a good string of white perch. They love to feed among these
stumps," returned Polly.

"Oh, Polly Jolly! sell us some; will you?" cried Wyn, eagerly. "We're so
hungry."

"Do, do!" chorused several of the other girls and boys aboard the
_Happy Day_.

Polly, smiling, held up a long withe on which wriggled at least two
dozen silvery fish. "Aren't they beauties?" she demanded. "Wait! I'll
row out."

She had already raised her anchor. Now she sat down, seized the short
oars, and plunged them into the water. How she could row! Even Bessie
Lavine murmured some enthusiastic praise of the boatman's daughter.

Her skiff shot alongside the motor boat. She caught the gunwale, and
then held up the string of fish again.

"How much, Miss Jarley?" asked Dave.

"Half a dollar. Is that too much?"

"It looks too little; but I suppose you know what you can get for them
at the Forge," he said.

"And this saves me rowing down there," returned the brown girl, smiling
and blushing under the scrutiny of so many eyes.

Wyn leaned over the rail, took the fish, and kissed Polly on her brown
cheek.

"Dreadfully glad to see you, dear," she declared. "Won't you come over
to the camp to-morrow and show us girls where--and how--to fish, too?
We're crazy for a fishing trip."

"Why--if you want me?" said Polly, her fine eyes slowly taking in the
group of girls aboard the motor boat.

All looked at her in a friendly way save Bessie, and she had her back to
the girl.

"I'll come," said Polly, blushing again; and then she pocketed, the
piece of money Dave gave her, and pushed off a bit.

"Is this really where your father came so near losing his life, Polly?"
asked Wyn, seriously.

"Yes, Miss Wyn. Right yonder. It was so thick he could not see the
shore. A limb of that tree yonder--you can see where it was broken off;
see the scar?"

There was a long yellow mark high up on the tree trunk overhanging the
pool where Polly had been fishing.

"That limb brushed father out of the boat just as she struck. The snag
must have torn a big hole in the bottom of the _Bright Eyes_.
Lightened by his going overboard, she shot away--somewhere--toward the
middle of the lake, perhaps. He knows that he gave the wheel a twirl
just as he went overboard and that must have driven the nose of the boat
around.

"She shot away into the fog. He never saw or heard of her again. We
paddled about for a week afterward--the bateau men and I--and we
couldn't find it. Poor father was abed, you see, for a long time and
could not help."

"All a story, _I_ believe," whispered Bess, to Mina.

"Oh, don't!" begged the tender-hearted girl.

Perhaps Polly heard this aside. She plunged her oars into the water
again and the skiff shot away. She only nodded when they sang out
"Good-bye" to her.

The _Happy Day_ carried the party quickly back to the cove under
the hill on which Cave-in-the-Wood Camp had been established. The girls
and boys landed and were met by Professor Skillings--who could be a very
gallant man indeed, where ladies were concerned. He helped Mrs. Havel
out of the motor boat, which Dave had brought alongside of a steep bank,
where the water was deep, and which made a good landing place.

"My dear Mrs. Havel! I am charmed to see you again," said the professor.
"You are comfortably situated over there on the shore, I hope?"

"My girls are as successful in making me comfortable as are your boys in
looking after you, I believe, Professor Skillings," returned the lady,
laughing.

"More so--I have no doubt! More so," admitted the professor.

"Treason! treason!" shouted Dave Shepard.

"What's the matter with you?" demanded Wyn, who had hopped ashore behind
the chaperone.

"Professor Skillings is going back on us, boys," declared Dave.

"Why, Professor!" cried Ferdinand. "Where would you find in all the five
zones such a set of boys as we-uns?"

"Five zones? Correct, my boy," declared the professor, seriously. "But
name those five zones; will you, please?"

"Sure!" wheezed Tubby, before Ferd could reply. "Temperate, Intemperate,
Canal, Torrid, and Ozone."

"Goodness gracious, Agnes!" gasped Dave. "Can you beat Tubby when he
lays himself out to be real erudite?" while the others--even the
professor and Mrs. Havel--could not forbear to chuckle.

But Dave and Ferd got busy at once while the others laughed, and
chaffed, and looked over the boys' camping arrangements. Dave was cook
and Ferd made and fed the fire. These boys had all the approved Scout
tricks for making fire and preparing food--they could have qualified as
first-class scouts.

Ferd started for an armful of wood he had cut down at the bottom of the
steep bank and suddenly, without any warning whatsoever, he slipped, his
feet pointed heavenward, and he skated down the bank upon the small of
his back.

"My goodness me!" exclaimed Frank Cameron. "Did you see that?"

"Sure," said Dave, amid the laughter of the crowd. "Poor Ferdy! the
whole world is against him!"

"You bet it is," growled Ferd, picking himself up slowly at the bottom
of the bank. "And it's an awful hard world at that."

"Come on! Come on!" whined Tubby Blaisdell. "Aren't you ever going to
get supper? You're wasting time."

Dave was expertly cleaning fish. Wyn ran to his help, finding the flour,
cracker-crumbs, and salt pork. The pan was already heating over the
blaze that the unfortunate Ferdinand had started in the fireplace.

"If you're so blamed hungry," said Dumont to the wailing Tubby, "start
on the raw flour. It's filling, I'll be bound."

"Say! I don't just want to get filled. I want to enjoy what I eat. I
could be another Nebuchadnezzar and eat grass, if it was just
_filling_ I wanted."

"Ha!" cried Dave. "Tubby is as particular as the Western lawyer--a
perfectly literal man--who entered a restaurant where the waiter came to
him and said:

"'What'll you 'ave, sir? I 'ave frogs' legs, deviled kidneys, pigs'
feet, and calves' brains.'

"'You look it,' declared the lawyer man. 'But what is that to me? I have
come here to eat--don't tell me your misfortunes.'"

Amid much laughter and chaffing they finally sat down to the
fish-fry--and if there is anything more toothsome than perch, fresh from
the water, and fried crisply in a pan with salt pork over the hot coals
of a campfire, "the deponent knoweth not," as Frank Cameron put it.

Then Tubby got his banjo, Dumont his mandolin, Dave his ocarina, and
they sang, and played, and told jokes, until a silver crescent moon
rising over the lake warned them that the hour was growing late. The
feminine visitors then boarded the _Happy Day_ and under the escort
of Dave and Ferdinand to work the boat, the girls and their chaperone
made the run back to Green Knoll Camp, giving the cove where Polly
Jarley had caught the perch a wide berth.

Dave insisted upon going ashore at Green Knoll and searching the camp
"for possible burglars," as he laughingly said.

"Do, _do_ look under my bed, Dave!" squealed Frank, in mock
distraction. "I've always expected to find a man under my bed."

"But it was real nice of him, just the same," admitted Mina Everett,
when the _Happy Day_ had chugged away. "I feel a whole lot better
now that he has beaten up the camp."

On the next morning Grace and Percy were not allowed to lag over the
breakfast dishes till all hours.

"This shall be no lazy girls' camp," declared Mrs. Havel. "The quicker
you all get your tasks done, the better. Then you can have games, and go
fishing, and otherwise enjoy yourselves."

The fish-fry they had enjoyed at Cave-in-the-Wood Camp the evening
before had given them all an appetite for more, and as Polly Jarley
appeared early, according to promise, Wyn began to bustle around and
hunt out the fishing tackle.

There probably wasn't a girl in the crowd who was afraid to put a worm
on a hook, save Mina. She owned up to the fact that they made her
"squirmy" and she hated to see live bait on a hook.

"But that's what we have to use for lake fish--or river fish, either,"
Wyn told her. "You're not going to be much good to this fishing party."

"I know it, Wynnie. And I sha'n't go," said the timid one. "Mrs. Havel
is not going fishing, and I can stay with her."

"You'll have company," snapped Bessie Lavine. "I'm sure _I'm_ not
going," and she said it with such a significant look at Polly Jarley,
who had come ashore, that the boatman's daughter, as well as the other
girls, could not fail to understand _why_ she made the declaration.

"Why, Bess Lavine!" exclaimed Frankie, the outspoken.

Polly's face had flushed deeply, then paled. Bess had avoided her
before; but now she had come out openly with her animosity.

"Is your name Miss Lavine?" asked the boatman's daughter, her voice
quivering with emotion.

"What if it is?" snapped Bess.

"Then I guess I know why you speak to me so----"

"Don't flatter yourself, Miss! I don't care to speak to you," said Bess.

"Nor do I care to have anything to do with you," said Polly, plucking up
a little spirit herself under this provocation. "You are Henry Lavine's
daughter. I am not surprised at your speech and actions. He has done all
he could to hurt my father's reputation for years--and you seem to be
just like him."

"Hurt your father's reputation--Bosh!" cried Bess. "You can't spoil
a----"

But here Wyn Mallory came to the rescue.

"Stop, Bess! Don't you pay any attention to what she says, Polly. If
this quarrel goes on, Bess, I shall tell Mrs. Havel immediately. You
come with us, Polly; if Bessie doesn't wish to go fishing, she can
remain at camp. Come, girls!"

Bess and Mina remained behind.

"I told you how 'twould be, Miss Wyn," said Polly, her eyes bright and
hard and the angry flush in her cheek making her handsomer than ever. "I
shall only make trouble among your friends."

"You don't notice any of the rest of us running up the red flag; do
you?" interposed Frank Cameron. "Bess's crazy."

"The Lavines have been our worst enemies--worse than Dr. Shelton," said
Polly, with half a sob. "Mr. Lavine is up here at the lake in the spring
and fall, usually, and he will always talk to anybody who will listen
about his old trouble with father. And he is an influential man."

"Don't you cry a tear about it!" exclaimed Frank, wiping her own eyes
angrily.

Wyn had put a comforting arm over the shoulder of the boatman's
daughter. "We'll just forget it, my dear," she said, gently.

But it was not so easy to forget--not so easy for Polly, at least,
although the other girls treated her as nicely as they could. Her face
remained sad, and she could not respond to their quips and sallies as
the fleet of four canoes and Polly's skiff got under weigh.

Polly pulled strongly along the shore in her light craft; but of course
the canoes could have left her far behind had the girls so wished. Their
guide warned them finally against loud talking and splashing, and soon
they came to a quiet cove where the trees stood thickly along the lake
shore, and the water was not much ruffled by the morning breeze.

Polly had brought the right kind of bait for perch, and most of the
girls of the Go-Ahead Club had no difficulty in arranging their rods and
lines and casting for the hungry fish. Perch, "shiners," roaches, and an
occasional "bullhead" began to come into the canoes. These latter scared
some of the girls; but they were better eating than any of the other
fish and both Wyn and Frank, as well as Polly, knew how to take them off
the hook without getting "horned."

Polly did not remain with them more than an hour. She was sure the girls
would get all the fish they would want right at this spot, and so,
excusing herself, she rowed back to the landing.

"It's a shame!" exclaimed Frank, the minute she was out of hearing. "I
don't see what possesses Bess to be so mean."

"I am sorry," rejoined Wyn. "Polly will not come to the camp again--I
can see that."

"A shame!" cried Percy. "And she seems such a nice girl."

"Bessie ought to be strapped!" declared Frank.

"I am sure Polly seems just as good as we are," Grace remarked. "I don't
see why Bess has to make herself so objectionable."

"She should be punished for it," declared Percy.

"Turn the tables on her," suggested Frank. "If she will not have
anything to do with Polly, let's give _her_ the cold shoulder."

"No," said Wyn, firmly. "That would be adding fuel to the flames--and
would be unfair to Bess."

"Well, Bess is unfair to your Polly Jolly," said Frankie.

"Two wrongs never yet made a right," said the captain of the Go-Ahead
Club.

"Well!"

"Bessie is a member of our club. She has greater rights at Green Knoll
Camp than Polly. It is true Polly will not come again, unless Bessie is
more friendly. The thing, then is to convince Bess that she is wrong."

"Well!" exclaimed Frank again. "I'd like to see you do it."

"I hope you will see me," returned Wyn, placidly. "Or, at least, I hope
you will see Bessie's mind changed, whether by my efforts, or not. Oh,
dear! it's so much easier to get along pleasantly in this world if folks
only thought so. Query: Why is a grouch?"

Percy suddenly uttered a yell and almost plunged out of her canoe. She
had whipped in her line and there was a small eel on the hook.

It is really wonderful what an excited eel can do in a canoe with a girl
as his partner in crime! Mr. Eel tangled up Percy's line in the first
place until it seemed as though somebody must have been playing cat's
cradle with it.

Percy shrieked and finally bethought her to throw the whole thing
overboard--tangled line, rod, and Mr. Eel. In his native element, the
slippery chap in some mysterious way got off the hook; but the linen
line was a mess, and that stopped the fishing for that morning.

They had a nice string, however, and when the odor of the frying fish on
the outdoor fire began to spread about Green Knoll Camp, Frank declared:

"The angels flying overhead must stop to sniff--that smell is so
heavenly!"

"Nonsense, child!" returned Grace. "That thing you see 'way up there
isn't an angel. It's a fish-hawk."

There were letters to take to the Forge that afternoon, and the girls
all expected mail, too. But after the fishing bout, and the heavy dinner
they ate, not many of the Go-Aheads cared to paddle to town.

"The duty devolves on your captain," announced Wyn, good-naturedly. "Of
course, if anybody else wants to go along----"

"Don't all speak at once," yawned Frank, and rolled over in the shade of
the beech.

"It's a shame! I'll go with you," said Bessie Lavine, getting up with
alacrity.

"All right, Bess," said Wyn, cheerfully. "I am glad to have you go."

The other girls had been a little distant to Bess since their return
from the fishing trip; but not Wyn. She had given no sign that she was
annoyed by Bessie's demeanor towards Polly Jarley.

Nor did she "preach" while she and Bess paddled to the Forge. That was
not Wynifred Mallory's way. She knew that, in this case, taking Bess to
task for her treatment of Polly would do only harm.

Bess had probably offered to come with Wyn for the special purpose of
finding opportunity to argue the case with the captain of the club. But
Wyn gave her no opening.

The girls got to the Forge, did their errands, and started back in the
canoes. Not until they got well out into the lake did they notice that
there were angry clouds in the northwest. And very soon the sun became
overcast, while the wind whipped down upon them sharply.

"Oh, dear, me!" cried Bess. "Had we better turn back, Wyn?"

"We're about as far from the Forge as we are from Green Knoll Camp,"
declared the other girl.

"Then let's run ashore----"

But they had struck right out into the lake from the landing, and it was
a long way to land--even to the nearest point. While they were
discussing the advisability of changing their course, there came a lull
in the wind.

"Maybe we'll get home all right!" cried Bess, and the two bent to their
paddles again, driving the canoes toward distant Green Knoll.

And almost at once--her words had scarcely passed--the wind whipped down
upon them from a different direction. The surface of the lake was
agitated angrily, and in a minute the two girls were in the midst of a
whirlpool of jumping waves.

In ordinary water the canoes were safe enough. But when Bess tried to
paddle, a wave caught the blade and whirled the canoe around. She was
up-set before she could scream.

And in striving to drive her own craft to her friend's assistance, Wyn
Mallory was caught likewise in a flaw, and she, too, plunged into the
lake, while both canoes floated bottom upward.



CHAPTER XIII

A SERIOUS ADVENTURE


Wyn Mallory was a pretty cool-headed girl; nor was this the first time
she had been in an accident of this nature.

Naturally, in learning to handle the light cedar craft as expertly as
they did, the members of the Go-Ahead Club had much experience. While
the weather was good the girls plied their paddles up and down the
Wintinooski, but seldom was the river as rough as this open lake in
which Wyn and Bessie Lavine had been so unexpectedly overturned.

"Oh! am I not the unluckiest girl that--that ever happened?" wailed
Bess, when she came up puffing.

"N-o-no more than _I_, Bess," stammered Wyn.

"Get your canoe, Wyn!" cried Bess.

"Oh, yes; but we can't turn them over in this sea. Oh! isn't that
horrid!" as another miniature wave slapped the captain of the club in
the face and rolled her companion completely over.

Bess lost her grip on her canoe. The latter floated beyond her reach
while Wyn was striving to get her friend to the surface again.

"Why! we're going to be drowned!" shrieked Bess, suddenly
horror-stricken.

"Don't you _dare_ lose your nerve," commanded Wynifred. "If we lose
courage we certainly will be lost."

"Oh, but, Wyn----"

"Oh, but, Bess! Don't you dare. Here! get hold of the keel of my canoe."

"But it won't bear us both up," groaned Bessie Lavine.

"It's got to," declared Wyn. "Have courage; don't be afraid."

"You needn't try to tell me you're not afraid yourself, Wyn Mallory!"
chattered her friend.

"Of course I am, dear; but I mean, don't lose your head because you
_are_ afraid," said Wyn. "Come, now! Paddle with one hand and cling
to the keel with the other. I'll do the same."

"Oh, dear, me! if we were only not so far from the shore," groaned Bess.

"Somebody may see us and come to our help," said Wyn, with more
confidence in her tone than she really felt.

"The canoes couldn't live in this gale."

"It's only a squall."

"That's all very well; but they wouldn't dare to start out for us from
Green Knoll."

"But the boys----"

"Their camp isn't in sight of this place, Wyn," moaned Bess. "Oh! we
_will_ be drowned."

But Wyn had another hope. She remembered, just before the overturn, that
she had caught a glimpse of the red and yellow cottage behind Jarley's
Landing.

"Oh, Bess!" she gasped. "Perhaps Mr. Jarley will see us. Perhaps
Polly----"

Another slapping wave came and rolled them and the canoe over. The frail
craft came keel up, level full of water. The least weight upon it now
would send it to the bottom of the lake.

"Oh, oh!" shrieked Bess, when she found her voice. "What shall we do
now?"

They could both swim; but the lake was rough. The sudden and spiteful
squall had torn up the surface for many yards around. Yet, as they rose
upon one of the waves, they saw the sun shining boldly in the westward.
The squall was scurrying away.

"Come on! we've got to swim," urged Wyn.

[Illustration: THEY COULD BOTH SWIM, BUT THE LAKE WAS ROUGH. _Page
146._]
"That's so hard," wailed Bess, but striking out, nevertheless, in the
way she had been so well taught by the instructor in Denton. All these
girls had been trained in the public school baths.

"There's the other canoe," said Wyn, hopefully.

"But we--we don't want to go that way," gasped Bess. "It's away from
land."

Now Wyn knew very well that they had scarcely a chance of swimming to
the distant shore. In ordinarily calm weather--yes; but in this rough
sea, and hampered as they were by their bloomers and other clothing--no.

The two girls swam close together, but Wyn dared not offer her comrade
help. She wanted to, but she feared that if she did so Bess would break
down and become helpless entirely; and Wyn hoped they would get much
farther inshore before that happened.

The squall had quite gone over and the sun began to shine. It seemed a
cruel thing--to drown out there in the sunlight. And yet the buffeting
little waves, kicked up by the wind-flaw, were so hard to swim through.

Had the waves been of a really serious size the struggle would have been
less difficult for the two girls. They could have ridden over the big
waves and managed to keep their heads above water; but every once in a
while a cross wavelet would slap their faces, and every time one did so
Bess managed to get a mouthful of water.

"Oh! what will papa do?" moaned Bess.

And Wyn knew what the poor girl meant. She was her father's close
companion and chum. The other girls in the Lavine family were smaller
and their mother was devoted to them; but Bess and Mr. Lavine were pals
all the time.

Bess repeated this exclamation over and over again, until Wyn thought
she should shriek in nervous despair. She realized quite fully that
their chance for life was very slim indeed; but moaning and groaning
about it would not benefit them or change the situation in the slightest
degree.

Wyn kept her head and saved her breath for work. She raised up now and
then, breast high in the water, and tried to scan the shore.

Suddenly the sun revealed Green Knoll Camp to her--bathing the little
hillock, with the tents upon it, in the full strength of his rays. But
it was quite two miles away.

Wyn could see no moving figures upon the knoll. Nor could her friends
see her and Bess struggling in the water at that distance. If their
overset had not been sighted, Mrs. Havel and the four other members of
the Go-Ahead Club would not be aware of their peril.

And, Wyn believed, the swamping of the canoes could only have been
observed through a glass. Had anybody along shore been watching the two
canoes as the squall struck the craft and overset them?

In that possibility, she thought, lay their only hope of rescue.



CHAPTER XIV

THE REPULSE


As the squall threatened in the northwest, it had been observed by many
on the shores of Lake Honotonka--and many on the lake itself, as well.
Sailing craft had run for havens. The lake could be nasty at times and
there might be more than a capful of wind in the black cloud that spread
so quickly over a sky that had--an hour before--been of azure.

Had the two girls from Green Knoll Camp been observed by the watermen as
they embarked in their canoes at Meade's Forge, they might have been
warned against venturing far from the shore in those cockleshells. But
Wynifred and Bessie had not been observed, so were not warned.

The squall had come down so quickly that they were not much to be
blamed. It had startled other people on the lake--and those much more
used to its vagaries.

In a cove on the north shore a small cat-rigged boat had been drifting
since noon-time, its single occupant having found the fishing very good.
This fisher was the boatman's daughter, Polly Jarley.

She had now a splendid catch and she knew that, if the wind held true, a
sharp run to the westward would bring her to Braisely Park. At some one
of the private landings there her fish would be welcomed--she could get
more for them than she could at the Forge, which was nearer.

But the squall gathered so fast that she had to put aside the thought of
the run down the lake. The wind would switch about, too, after the
squall. That was a foregone conclusion.

She waited until the blow was past and then saw that it would be quite
impossible to make the park that afternoon and return to the landing in
time for tea. And if she was later her father would be worried.

Mr. Jarley did not like to have his girl go out this way and work all
day; but there seemed nothing else to be done this summer. They owed so
much at the stores at the Forge; and the principal and interest on the
chattel mortgage must be found before New Year or they would lose their
fleet of boats. And as yet few campers had come to the lake who wished
to hire Mr. Jarley's boats.

So by fishing (and none of the old fellows who had fished Honotonka for
years was wiser about the good fishing places than Polly) the girl added
from one to two dollars every favorable day to the family income.
Sometimes she was off by light in one boat or another; but she did not
often come to this northern side of the lake. This cove was at least ten
miles from home.

As the last breath of the squall passed, the wind veered as she had
expected, and Polly, having reeled in her two lines and unjointed the
bamboo poles, stowed everything neatly, raised the anchor, or kedge, and
set a hand's breadth of the big sail.

The canvas filled, and with the sheet in one hand and the other on the
arm of the tiller, the girl steered the catboat out of the cove and into
the rumpus kicked up by the passing squall.

The girls of the Go-Ahead Club would surely have been frightened had
they been aboard the little _Coquette_, as the catboat was named.
She rocked and jumped, and the spume flew over her gunwale in an
intermittent shower. But in this sea, which so easily swamped the
canoes, the catboat was as safe as a house.

Polly was used to much rougher weather than this. In the summer Lake
Honotonka was on its best behavior. At other seasons the tempests tore
down from the north and west and sometimes made the lake so terrible in
appearance that even the hardiest bateau man in those parts would not
risk himself in a boat.

Polly knew, however, that the worst of the squall was over. The lake
would gradually subside to its former calm. And the change in the wind
was favorable now to a quick passage either to the Forge or to her
father's tiny landing.

"Can't get any fancy price for the fish at Meade's," thought Polly. "I
have a good mind to put them in our trap and try again for Braisely Park
to-morrow morning."

As she spoke she was running outside the horns of the cove. She could
get a clear sweep now of the lake--as far as it could be viewed from the
low eminence of the boat--and she rose up to see it.

"Nobody out but I," she thought. "Ah! all those folk at the end of the
lake ran in when the squall appeared. And the girls and boys over
yonder----"

She was peering now across the lake ahead of the _Coquette's_ nose,
toward the little island where was Cave-in-the-Wood Camp, and at Green
Knoll Camp, where the girls from Denton were staying.

Her face fell as she focused her gaze upon the bit of high, green bank
on which the sun was now shining again so brilliantly. She remembered
how badly she had been treated by Bess Lavine only that morning.

"I can't go over there any more," she muttered. "That girl will never
forget--or let the others forget--that father has been accused of being
a thief. It's a shame! A hateful shame! And we're every bit as good as
she is----"

Her gaze dropped to the tumbling wavelets between her and the distant
green hillock. She was about to resume her seat and catch the tiller,
which she had held steady with her knee.

But now her breath left her and for a moment she stood motionless--only
giving to the plunge and jump of the _Coquette_ through the choppy
waves.

"Ah!" she exclaimed again, after a little intake of breath.

There were two round objects rising and falling in the rough water--and
far ahead. They looked like cocoanuts.

But a little to one side was a long, black something--a stick of timber
drifting on the current? No! _An overturned boat._

There was no mistaking the cocoanut-like objects. They were human heads.
Two capsized people were struggling in the lake.

Polly, in thirty seconds, was keenly alive to what she must do. There
was no time lost in bewailing the catastrophe, or wondering about the
identity of the castaways.

Who or whatever they were they must be saved. There was not another boat
on the lake. And the swimmers were too far from land to be observed
under any conditions.

The wind was strong and steady. The wavelets were still choppy, but
Polly Jarley never thought of a wetting.

Up went the sail--up, up, up until the unhelmed catboat lay over almost
on beam ends. The girl took a sailor's turn of the sheet around the
cleat and then swung all her weight against the tiller, to bring the
boat's head up. She held the sheet ready to let go if a warning creak
from the mast should sound, or the boat refuse to respond.

But in half a minute the _Coquette_ righted. It had been a perilous
chance--she might have torn the stick out. The immediate peril was past,
however. The great canvas filled. Away shot the sprightly
_Coquette_ with the wind--a bone in her teeth.

Now and then she dipped and the spume flew high, drenching Polly. The
boatman's daughter was not dressed for this rough work, for she was
hatless and wore merely a blouse and old skirt for outside garments. She
had pulled off her shoes and stockings while she fished and had not had
time to put them on again.

So the flying spray wet her through. She dodged occasionally to protect
her eyes from the spoondrift which slatted so sharply across the deck
and into the cockpit. The water gathered in the bottom of the old boat
and was soon ankle-deep.

But Polly knew the craft was tight and that this water could be bailed
out again when she had time. Just now her mind and gaze were fixed
mainly upon the round, bobbing objects ahead.

For some minutes, although the catboat was traveling about as fast as
Polly had ever sailed, save in a power boat, the girl could not be sure
whether the swamped voyagers were girls or boys. It might be two of the
Busters, from Gannet Island, for all she knew. She had made up her mind
that the victims of the accident were from one camp or the other. There
were no other campers as yet on the shore at this end of the lake.

Then Polly realized that the heads belonged to girls. She could see the
braids floating out behind. And she knew that they were fighting for
their lives.

They swam near together; once one of them raised up breast high in the
water, as though looking shoreward. But neither turned back to see if
help was coming from behind.

With both hands engaged with sheet and tiller Polly could not make a
megaphone to carry her voice; but several times she shouted as loud as
she could:

"Ahoy! Hold on! I'm coming!"

Her voice seemed flung right back into her face--drowned by the slatting
spray. How viciously that water stung!

The _Coquette_ was traveling at racing speed; but would she be in
time?

How long could those two girls bear up in the choppy sea?

One of the heads suddenly disappeared. Polly shrieked; but she could do
nothing to aid.

The spray filled her eyes again and, when she had shaken them free,
Polly saw that the other swimmer--the stronger one--had gotten her
comrade above the surface once more.

Indeed, this one was swimming on her back and holding up the girl who
had gone under. How brave she was!

The sun shone clear upon the two in the water and Polly recognized
Wynifred Mallory.

"Wyn! Wynnie! Hold to her! Hold up!" cried the boatman's daughter. "I'll
help you!"

But she was still so far away--it seemed as though the catboat never
_would_ come within hailing distance. But before she turned over in
the water to swim with Bessie's hand upon her shoulder, the captain of
the Go-Ahead Club beheld the catboat rushing down upon them.

She could only wave a beckoning hand. She could not cry out. Wyn was
well-nigh breathless, and Bessie's only hope was in her. The captain of
the canoe club had to save her strength.

Down swooped the catboat. Polly was shouting madly; but not for an
instant did she lose control of the boat or ignore the work she had in
hand. She wanted to encourage Wyn and the other; but she was taking no
chances.

Suddenly she let the sheet run and loosed the halliards. The canvas
fluttered down on the deck with a rustle and crash. The catboat sprang
to even keel, but shot on under the momentum it had gained in swooping
down upon the swamped girls.

"Wyn! hold hard! _I've got you!_"

But it was the other girl Polly grasped. Wyn had turned, thrust the
half-drowned Bessie before her, and Polly, leaning over the gunwale of
the tossing boat, seized her by the shoulders.

In a moment she heaved up, struggled, dragged the other girl forward,
and together rescuer and rescued tumbled flat into the cockpit of the
_Coquette_.

Polly shouted again:

"Wyn! Wyn! I'll come back for you----"

"Give me a hand!" cried Wyn, hanging to the rudder. "Polly! you old
darling! If you hadn't got here when you did----"

Polly left Bess to her own resources and rushed to the stern. She helped
Wyn clamber into the boat. Then she hoisted the sail again, and got way
upon the boat. She raised the canvas only a little, for she had risked
all the weight she dared upon the mast before.

"Are you all right, Bess?" cried Wyn.

"I--I'm alive. But, oh! I'm so--so sick," gasped Miss Lavine.

"Brace up, Bess! We're all right now. Polly has saved us."

"Polly?" cried Bess, sitting up, the better to see the boatman's
daughter as the latter sat again at the helm. "Oh, Polly!"

"You'd better both lie down till we get to the camp. I'll take you right
there," said the other girl, briefly.

"We'd have been--been drowned, Wyn!" gasped Bess.

"I guess we would. We are still a long way from shore."

"And Polly saved us? All alone? How wonderful!"

But Polly's face was stern. She scarcely spoke to the two Denton girls
as the _Coquette_ swept across the lake. Wyn told her just how it
all happened and the condition of the two canoes when they lost sight of
them.

"I saw one; maybe the other can be found," Polly said. "I'll speak to
father and, if the moon comes up clear bye and bye, we'll run out and
see if we can recover them."

But for Bess she had no word, or look, and when the other put out her
hand timidly and tried to thank her, as they neared the shore, Polly
only said:

"That's all right. We're used to helping people who get overturned. It
really is nothing."

She would not see Bessie's hand. The latter felt the repulse and Wyn,
who watched them both anxiously, dared not say a word.



CHAPTER XV

TROUBLE "BRUIN"


The other girls and Mrs. Havel were all down on the beach to meet the
catboat and her passengers. To see Wyn and Bessie returning across the
lake in the sailboat, instead of the canoes, forewarned the Go-Aheads
that an accident had happened.

But although the girls were wet and bedraggled, the captain of the club
made light of the affair.

"Where are your canoes?"

"What's happened?"

"Who is it with you?"

"What under the sun did you do--go overboard?"

Wyn answered all questions in a single sentence:

"We were capsized and lost the letters and things; but Polly picked us
up and brought us home."

Then, amid the excited cries and congratulations, her voice rose again:

"Isn't she brave? What do you think of my Polly Jolly _now_? Can
you blame me for being proud of her?"

"I tell you wh--what she is!" gasped Bessie. "She's the bravest and
smartest girl I ever heard of."

"Good for you, Bess!" shouted Frank Cameron, helping the castaways
ashore. "You're coming to your senses."

"And--and I'm sorry," blurted out Bess, "that I ever treated her so----"

Polly shoved off the catboat and proceeded to get under way again.

"Oh, _do_ come ashore, Polly!" begged Grace.

"I want to hug you, Miss Jarley!" cried Percy.

"What? All wet as I am now?" returned the boatman's daughter,
laughing--although the laugh was not a pleasant one. "You make too much
of this matter. We're used to oversets on the lake. It is nothing."

"You do not call saving two girls' lives _nothing_, my
dear--surely?" proposed Mrs. Havel.

"If I saved them, I am very, very glad of it," returned Polly, gravely.
"Anybody would be glad of _that_, of course, But you are making too
much of it----"

"My father will not think so!" exclaimed the almost hysterical Bess.
"When he learns of this he will not be able to do enough for you----"

"Your father can do nothing for me, Bessie Lavine!" cried the boatman's
daughter, with sharpness.

"Oh, Polly!" said Wyn, holding out her arms to her.

"He'll--he'll _want_ to," pursued Bess, eagerly. "Oh! he will! He'd
do anything for you now----"

"There's only one thing Henry Lavine can do for me," cried Polly,
turning an angry face now toward the shore. "He can stop telling stories
about my father. He can be kind to him--be decent to him. I don't want
anything else--and I don't want that as pay for fishing you out of the
lake!"

She had got the sail up again and now the breeze filled it. The
_Coquette_ laid over and slipped away from the shore. Her last
words had silenced all the girls--even Mrs. Havel herself.

Bess burst into tears. She was quite broken down, and Wyn went off with
her to the tent, her arm over her shoulder, and whispering to her
comfortingly.

"I don't care. Polly's served her right," declared Frank Cameron.

"I do not know that Polly can be blamed," Mrs. Havel observed. "But--but
I wish she was more forgiving. It is not for herself that she speaks,
however. It is for her father."

"And I'll wager he's just as nice a man as ever was," declared Frank.
"I'm going to ask _my_ father if he will not do something for Mr.
Jarley."

"Do so, Frances," advised the chaperon. "I think you will do well."

The accident cast a cloud over Green Knoll Camp for the evening. The
girls who had been swamped went to bed and were dosed with hot drinks
brewed over the campfire by Mrs. Havel. And when the boys came over in
their fleet for an evening sing and frolic, they were sent back again to
the island almost at once.

The boys did not take altogether kindly to this rebuff, and Tubby was
heard to say:

"Isn't that just like girls? Because they got a little wet they must go
to bed and take catnip tea, or something, and be quiet. Their nerves are
all unstrung! Gee! wouldn't that make your ears buzz?"

"Aw, you're a doubting Thomas and always will be, Tub," said Ferd
Roberts. "You never believe what you're told. You're as suspicious as
the farmer who went to town and bought a pair of shoes, and when he'd
paid for 'em the clerk says:

"'Now, sir, can't I sell you a pair of shoe trees?'

"'Don't you get fresh with me, sonny,' says the farmer, his whiskers
bristling. 'I don't believe shoes kin be raised on trees any more 'n I
believe rubbers grow on rubber trees, or oysters on oyster plants,
b'gosh!'"

"Well," snarled the fat youth, as the other Busters laughed, "the girls
are always making excuses. You can never tell what a girl means,
anyway--not by what she _says_."

"You know speech was given us to hide our thoughts," laughed Dave.

"Say! I'll get square just the same--paddlin' clear over here for
nothing. Humph! I know that Hedges girl is afraid there's bears in the
woods? Say, fellers! I've _got_ it! Yes, I've got it!"

When Tubby spoke in this way, and his eyes snapped and he began to look
eager, his mates knew that the fat youth's gigantic mind was working
overtime, and they immediately gathered around and stopped paddling.

As Dave said, chuckling, a little later, "trouble was bruin!"

In the morning the girls found the two lost canoes on the shore below
the camp. Polly and her father had evidently gone out in the evening,
after the moon rose, and recovered them. Neither, of course, was
damaged.

"And we must do something nice to pay them for it!" cried Grace.

Bessie was still deeply concerned over Polly's attitude.

"I am going to write father at once, and tell him all about it," she
said. "And I _am_ sorry for the way I treated Polly at first. Do
you suppose she will ever forgive me, Wyn?"

Just as Wyn had once said in discussing Bessie's character: when the
latter realized that she was in the wrong, or had been unfair to anyone,
she was never afraid to admit her fault and try to "make it up." But
this seemed to be a case where it was very difficult for Bessie to
"square herself."

The boatman's daughter had shown herself unwilling to be friendly with
Bess. Nor was Polly, perhaps, to be blamed.

However, on this particular morning the girls of Green Knoll Camp had
something besides Bessie's disturbance of mind and Polly Jarley's
attitude to think about.

And this "something" came upon them with a suddenness that set the
entire camp in an uproar. Grace, the dilatory, was picking berries
before breakfast along the edge of the clearing, and popping them into
her mouth as fast as she could find ripe ones.

"Come here and help, Grace!" called Percy from the tent where she was
shaking out the heavy blankets. "I'm not going to do all my work and
yours, too."

"You come and help _me_. It's more fun," returned Grace, laughing
at her.

Then the lazy girl turned and reached for a particularly juicy
blackberry, in the clump ahead of her. Percy saw her struck motionless
for a second, or two; then the big girl fairly fell backward, rolled
over, picked herself up, and raced back to the tents, her mouth wide
open and her hair streaming in the wind.

"What _is_ the matter?" gasped Percy.

"Oh, Grace! you look dreadful! Tell us, what has happened!" begged
Bessie, as the big girl sank down by the entrance to the tent, her limbs
too weak to bear her farther.

"What has scared you so, Grace?" demanded Wyn, running up.

Grace's eyes rolled, she shut and opened her mouth again several times.
Then she was only able to gasp out the one word:

"Bear!"

The other girls came crowding around. "What do you mean, Grace?" "Stop
trying to scare us, Grace!" "She's fooling," were some of the cries they
uttered.

But Wyn saw that her friend was really frightened; she was not "putting
it on."

"You don't mean that it was a _real_ bear?" cried Frank Cameron.

"A bear, I tell you!" moaned Grace, rocking herself to and fro. "I told
you they were here in the woods."

"Oh, dear me!" screamed Mina. "What shall we do?"

"You didn't _see_ it, Grace?" demanded Wyn, sternly. "You only
heard it."

"I saw it, I tell you!"

"Not really?"

"Do--do you think I don't know a bear when I see one?" demanded Grace.
"He--he'll be right after us----"

"No. If it was a real, wild bear he would be just as scared at seeing
you as you would be at seeing him," remarked the decidedly sensible
captain.

"He--he _couldn't_ be as scared as I am," moaned Grace, with
considerable emphasis.

"I don't believe there's a bear within miles and miles of here!"
declared Frank.

"Well! I declare I hope there isn't," cried Bess.

"I'll look," offered Wyn. "Grace just thought she saw something."

"A great, black and brown hairy beast!" moaned Grace. "He stood right up
on his hind legs and stretched out his arms to me----"

"Enamored of all your young charms," giggled Frank.

"It's no joke!" gasped the frightened one.

"It _might_ be a bear, you know," quavered Mina.

The breakfast was being neglected. Mrs. Havel was down at the edge of
the lake washing out some bits of lace. She had not heard the rumpus.

"I'm going to see," announced Frank, and ran back over the course Grace
had come.

She reached the berry bushes. She parted them and peered through. She
began to enter the jungle, indeed, in search of bruin.

And then the girls all heard a sort of snuffling growl--just the sort of
a noise they _thought_ a bear must make. Frank jumped out of those
bushes as though they had become suddenly afire!

"Wha--what did I tell you?" screamed Grace.

"He's there!" groaned Mina.

Then suddenly a dark object appeared among the saplings and underbrush.

"Look out, Frank! Run!" cried the other girls, in chorus; but Miss
Cameron needed no urging; she ran with all her might!



CHAPTER XVI

TIT FOR TAT


But instead of returning toward the tents she ran straight across the
clearing. Possibly she did not stop to think where she was going, for
she came against the underbrush again and that terrific growl was once
more repeated.

Frankie stopped as though she had been shot. Right in front of her
loomed a second black, hairy figure.

She glared around wildly. At the back of the clearing was the opening
into the wood path leading from Windmill Farm down to the boat-landing
at John Jarley's place. And in that opening, and for an instant,
appeared likewise a threatening form!

"Come here! Come here, Frank!" shrieked Bess. "There's another of
them--we're surrounded."

The Cameron girl started again, and let out the last link of speed that
there was in her. She ran straight down to the shore where Mrs. Havel
just aroused by the shrieks, was starting to return to camp.

The other girls piled after her. But Wyn brought up the rear. She looked
around now and then. Three bears! In a place where no bears had been
seen for years and years! Wyn was puzzled.

"There are bears in the woods, Mrs. Havel!" gasped Grace.

"Nonsense, child!"

"I saw 'em. One almost grabbed me," declared the big girl.

"And _I_ saw them, Auntie," urged Percy Havel.

"This way! this way!" cried Frank, running along the shore under the
high knoll on which the camp was pitched. "They can't see us down here."

Mrs. Havel was urged along by her niece and Grace. Wyn brought up the
rear. Oddly enough, none of the bears came out of the bushes--that she
could see.

The girls plunged along the sand, and through the shallow water for
several yards. Here the bushes grew right down to the edge of the lake.
Suddenly Wyn caught sight of something ahead, and uttered a sharp
command:

"Stop! every one of you! Do you hear me, Frank? Stop!"

"Oh, dear! they can eat us here just as well as anywhere," groaned
Grace.

"Now be quiet!" said Wynifred, in some heat. "We've all been foolish
enough. _Those were not bears._"

"Cows, maybe, Wynnie?" asked Mrs. Havel. "But I am quite as afraid of
cows----"

"Nor cows, either. I guess you wouldn't have been fooled for a minute if
you had seen them," said Wyn.

"What do you mean, Wyn?" cried Frank. "I tell you I saw them with my own
eyes----"

"Of course you did. So did I," admitted Wyn. "But we did not see them
right. They are not bears, walking on their hind legs; they are just
boys walking on the only legs they've got!"

"The Busters!" ejaculated Frank.

"Oh, Wyn! do you think so?" asked Mina, hopefully.

"Look ahead," commanded Wyn. "There are the boys' canoes. They paddled
over here this morning and dressed up in those old moth-eaten buffalo
robes they had over there, on the island, and managed to frighten us
nicely."

"That's it! They played a joke on us," began Frank, laughing.

But Mrs. Havel was angry. "They should be sent home for playing such a
trick," she said, "and I shall speak to Professor Skillings about it."

"Pooh!" said Wyn. "They're only boys. And of course they'll be up to
such tricks. The thing to do is to go them one better."

"How, Wyn, how?" cried her mates.

"I do not know that I can allow this, Wynifred," began Mrs. Havel,
doubtfully.

"You wish to punish them; don't you, Mrs. Havel?"

"They should be punished--yes."

"Then we have the chance," cried Wyn, gleefully. "You go back to the
camp, Mrs. Havel, and we girls will take their canoes--every one of
them. We'll call them the trophies of war, and we'll make the Busters
pay--and pay well for them--before they get their canoes back. What do
you say, girls?"

"Splendid!" cried Frank. "And they frightened me so!"

"Look out for the biscuits, Mrs. Havel, please," begged Bess. "I am
afraid they will be burned."

The lady returned hurriedly to the camp on the top of the hillock. When
she mounted the rise from the shore, there was a circle of giggling
youths about the open fireplace and a pile of moth-eaten buffalo hides
near by. Dave was messing with the Dutch oven in which Bess had just
before put the pan of biscuit for breakfast.

"Ho, ho!" cried Tubby. "Where are the girls?"

"Bear hunting, I bet!" cried Ferd Roberts.

"Good-morning, Mrs. Havel," said Dave, smiling rather sheepishly. "I
hope we didn't scare _you_."

"You rather startled me--coming unannounced," admitted Mrs. Havel, but
smiling quietly. "You surely have not breakfasted so early?"

"No. That's part of the game," declared another youth. "We claim
forfeit--and in this case take payment in eats."

"I am afraid you are more slangy than understandable," returned Mrs.
Havel. "Did you come for something particular?"

"Goodness! didn't you see those girls running?" cried Ferd.

"Running? Where to?" queried the chaperone.

Dave began to look more serious.

"Perhaps they are running yet!" squealed Tubby, only seeing the fun of
it.

"Bet they've gone for help to hunt the bears," laughed another of the
reckless youngsters.

"They'll get out the whole countryside to find 'em," choked Ferdinand
Roberts. "That's _too_ rich."

"Are you sure the girls didn't come your way, Mrs. Havel?" asked Dave,
with anxiety.

"Oh, the girls will be back presently. I came up to see to the biscuit,
Mr. Shepard. About inviting you to breakfast--You know, I am only a
guest of Green Knoll Camp myself. I couldn't invite you," said Mrs.
Havel, demurely.

The boys looked at each other in some surprise and Tubby's face fell
woefully.

"Ca-can't we do something to help you get breakfast, Mrs. Havel?"

Mrs. Havel had to hide a smile at that, but she remained obdurate. "I
have really nothing to do with it, Sir Tubby. You must wait for the
girls to come," she said.

The boys began whispering together; but they did not move. They had
scuttled over from their own camp early with the express intention of
"getting one" on the girls, and making a breakfast out of it. But now
the accomplishment of their purpose seemed doubtful, and there was a
hollow look about them all that should have made Mrs. Havel pity them.

That lady, however, remembered vividly how she had run along the shore
in fear of a flock of bears; this was a part of the boys' punishment for
that ill-begotten joke.

The biscuit were beginning to brown, the coffee sent off a delicious
odor, and here were eggs ready to drop into the kettle of boiling water
for their four-minute submersion. Besides, there was mush and milk.
Every minute the boys became hungrier.

"Aren't the girls ever coming?" sighed Tubby. "They _couldn't_ be
so heartless."

"They haven't gone far; have they?" queried Dave Shepard. "We saw their
canoes on the beach."

Just then the laughter of the girls in the distance broke upon the ears
of those on the hillock. They were approaching along the
shore--apparently from the direction of Jarley's landing.

"They don't seem to have been much scared, after all," grumbled Tubby to
Ferd.

"It was a silly thing to do, anyway," returned young Roberts. "Suppose
we don't get any breakfast?"

At this horrid thought the fat youth almost fainted. The girls came in
sight, and at once hailed the boys gaily:

"Oh! see who's here!" cried Frank. "What a lovely surprise!"

"Isn't it?" said Bess, but with rather a vicious snap. "We couldn't get
along, of course, without having a parcel of boys around. 'Morning, Mr.
Shepard."

Bess made a difference between Dave and the rest of the Busters, for
Dave had helped her in a serious difficulty.

"Where's the professor?" demanded Grace. "Isn't he here, too?"

"He's having breakfast all by his lonesome over on the island," said
Ferd, and Tubby groaned at the word "breakfast," while Dave added:

"We--we got a dreadfully early start this morning."

"Quite a start--I should say," returned Wyn, smiling broadly. "And now
you're hungry, I suppose?"

"Oh, aren't we, just?" cried one of the crowd, hollowly.

"How about it, Bess? Is there enough for so many more?"

Bess was already sifting flour for more biscuit. She said: "I'll have
another panful in a jiffy. Put in the eggs, Mina. We can make a
beginning."

"There's plenty of mush," said Mina. "That's one sure thing."

"But we can't all sit down," cried Grace.

"You know, there are but six of these folding seats, and Wyn's been
sitting on a cracker box ever since we set up the tents."

"Feed 'em where they're sitting," said Wyn, quickly. "Beggars mustn't be
choosers."

"Jinks! we didn't treat you like this when you came over to our camp,"
cried Ferd.

"And we didn't come over almost before you were up in the morning,"
responded Frank, quickly. "How did you know we had made our 'twilights'
at such an unconscionable hour?"

The girls were all laughing a good deal. Nobody said a word about the
"bear" fright, and the boys felt a little diffidence about broaching the
subject. Evidently their joke had fallen flat.

But the girls really had no intention of being mean to the six Busters.
The first pan of biscuit came out of the oven a golden brown. Grace and
Percy set them and the bowls of mush on the table, and handed around
other bowls and a pitcher of milk to the circle of boys, sitting
cross-legged on the ground like so many tailors.

There was honey for the biscuits, too, as well as golden butter--both
from Windmill Farm. The eggs were cooked just right, and there were
plenty of them. Crisp radishes and sliced cucumbers and tomatoes added
to the fare.

"Gee!" sighed Tubby, "doesn't it take girls to live _right_ in
camp? And look at those doughnuts."

"I fried them," cried Mina, proudly. "Mrs. Havel showed me how, though."

"Mrs. Havel, come over to Gannet Island and teach us how to cook," cried
Dave. "We don't have anything like this."

"Not a sweetie except what we buy at the Forge--and that's baker's
stuff," complained Tubby.

"Don't you think you boys had better be pretty good to us--if you want
to come to tea--or breakfast--once in a while?" asked Wyn, pointedly.

"Right!" declared Dave.

"Got us there," admitted Ferdinand.

"_I'll_ see that they behave themselves, Wyn," cried Tubby, with
great enthusiasm. "These fellows are too fresh, anyway----"

But at this the other boys rose up in their might and pitched upon
Master Blaisdell, rolling him over and over on the grass and making him
lose half of his last doughnut.

"Now, now, now!" cried Mrs. Havel. "This is no bear-garden. Try to
behave."

The boys began to laugh uproariously at this. "What do _you_ know
about a bear-garden, Grace?" Ferd demanded.

"And wasn't that growling of Dave's awe-inspiring?" cried another.

"And weren't _you_ scared, Frank Cameron?" suggested Tubby,
grinning hugely when his mates had let him up. "I never did know you
could run so fast."

"Why, pshaw!" responded Frank. "Did you boys really think you had scared
us with those moth-eaten old robes?"

"How ridiculous!" chimed in Bess. "A boy is usually a good deal of a
bear, I know; but he doesn't _look_ like one."

"And--and there haven't been any bears in this country for--for years,"
said Grace, though rather quaveringly.

"Say! what do you know about all this?" demanded Dave, of his mates.

"Do you girls mean to say that you weren't scared pretty near into
fits?" cried one lad.

"Did we act scared?" laughed Wyn. "I guess we fooled you a little, eh?"

"You're just as much mistaken," said Frank, "as the red-headed man was
who went to see the doctor because he had indigestion. When the doctor
told him to diet, it wasn't his hair he meant; but the red-headed man
got mad just the same. Now, you boys----"

"Aw, come! come!" cried Dave. "You can't say honestly you were not
scared. You know you were."

"I am afraid your joke fell flat, Davie," laughed Wyn. All the girls
were enjoying the boys' discomfiture. "Of course, I suppose you thought
you deserved your breakfast as a forfeit because you got a trick across
on us. But you'll have to try again, I am afraid. Just because we ran
doesn't prove that we did not recognize the combination of a boy and a
buffalo robe."

"Aw, now!" cried one of the boys. "What did you run for?"

"There's a reason," laughed Percy.

"Wait!" advised Frank, shaking her head and her own eyes dancing. "You
will find out soon enough why we ran."

"'He laughs best who laughs last,'" quoted Grace. "Bears, indeed!"

The boys were puzzled. Breakfast being over the girls went about their
several tasks and paid their friends of the opposite sex very little
attention. To all suggestions that they get out the canoes and go across
to the island with the boys, or on other junkets, the girls responded
with refusals. They evidently thought they had something like a joke
themselves on the boys, and finally the latter went off through the
brush toward the spot where they had tied their canoes, half inclined to
be angry.

They were gone a long while, and were very quiet. The girls whispered
together, and kept right near the tents, waiting for the explosion.

"At least," Wyn said, chuckling, "we gave them a good breakfast, so they
won't starve to death; but if they want to go to the island they will
have to swim."

"We've given them 'tit for tat,'" said Frankie, nodding her head. "Glad
of it. And _they'll_ pay the forfeit, instead of us."

"If they don't find the canoes," whispered Grace.

"They wouldn't find them in a week of Sundays," cried Percy.

"Then let's set them a good hard task for payment," suggested Bess.

"That's right. They oughtn't to have tried to scare us so," agreed Mina.

"I guess it is agreed," laughed Wyn, "to show them no mercy. Ah! here
they come now."

The Busters slowly climbed the knoll in rather woebegone fashion. Their
feathers certainly were drooped, as Frank remarked.

"Well," said Dave, throwing himself down on the sward, "we must hand it
to you Go-Aheads. You've got us 'way out on the limb, and if you shake
the tree very hard we'll drop off."

"No, thanks!" snapped Bess. "We don't care for green fruit."

"Oh, oh!" squealed Ferd. "I bet that hurt me."

"Now, there's no use quarreling," said Dave. "We admit defeat. Where
under the sun you girls could have hidden our canoes I don't see. And
your own haven't been used this morning, that's sure."

Wyn and her mates broke into uncontrollable laughter at this.

"Who's the joke on now?" cried Bess.

"What will you give to find your canoes?" exclaimed Frankie.

"Aw--say--don't rub it in," begged Tubby. "We own up to the corn. You
beat us. Where are the canoes?"

"Ahem!" said Wynifred, clearing her throat loudly, and standing forth.

"Hear, hear!" cried Mina.

"Oh! you've got it all fixed up for us, I see," muttered Ferd.

"The understanding always has been," said Wyn, calmly, "that if one
party succeeded in playing a practical joke on the other, and 'getting
away with it,' as you slangy boys say, the party falling for the trick
should pay forfeit. Isn't that so?"

"Go on! Do your worst," growled Ferd.

"That's right. You state the case clearly, Miss Mallory," said Dave,
with a bow of mockery.

"And they never paid a forfeit for the time Tubby slid down our
boathouse roof, plunk into the water," cried Bessie.

"Aw--that's ancient history," growled Tubby.

"Let us stick to recent events," agreed Wyn, smiling. "If we girls were
at all frightened by your 'bear-faced' attempt to frighten us this
morning, we have paid with a breakfast; haven't we?"

"And it was a good one," agreed Dave.

"It's made me go right to cooking again," said Bess. "A swarm of locusts
would have brought about no greater devastation."

"Then, gentlemen," said Wynifred, "do you admit that the shoe is now on
the other foot? You cannot find your canoes. Will you pay us to find
them for you?"

"That's only fair," admitted Dave.

"Say! how do we pay you?" demanded Ferd.

"Shall I tell them what we demand, girls?" asked Wyn.

"Go ahead!" "It'll serve them right!" "They've got to do it!" were some
of the exclamations from the Go-Aheads.

"Oh, let the blow fall!" groaned Dave.

"Then, gentlemen of the Busters Association, it is agreed by the ladies
of the Go-Ahead Club that while we remain in camp on Green Knoll this
summer, you young gentlemen shall cut and stack all the firewood we
shall need!"

"Ow-ouch!" cried Ferd.

"What a cheek!" gasped Tubby, rolling his eyes.

"_All_ the firewood you use?" repeated one of the other boys.
"Why--that will be cords and cords!"

"Every stick!" declared Wyn, firmly.

"And I'd be ashamed, if I were you, to complain," pursued Bessie. "If
you had been gentlemanly you would have offered to cut our wood before.
You know that that is the _one_ thing that girls can't do easily
about a camp."

"Gee! you have quite a heap of stove wood yonder," said Tubby.

"That is what Mr. Jarley cut for us," Wyn said. "But it doesn't matter
what other means we may have for getting our firewood cut. Will you
accept the forfeit like honorable gentlemen?"

"Why, we've _got_ to!" cried Ferd.

"We're honestly caught," admitted Dave Shepard. "I'll do my share. Two
of us, for half a day a week, can more than keep you supplied--unless
you waste it."

"And we can have the canoes back?" demanded one of the other Busters,
eagerly.

And so it was agreed--"signed, sworn to, and delivered," as Frankie
said. With great glee the girls led the Busters to the steep bank by the
waterside, over which a great curtain of wild honeysuckle hung. This
curtain of fragrant flowers and thick vines dragged upon the ground.
There was a hollow behind it that Wyn had discovered quite by chance.

And this hollow was big enough to hide the six canoes, one stacked a-top
of the other. One passing by would never have suspected the hiding
place, and in hiding the craft the girls had left no tell-tale
footprints.

So, for once at least, the Go-Aheads got the best of the Busters.



CHAPTER XVII

VISITORS


Bessie Lavine had written home, as she said she would, regarding her
adventure with Wyn when they were overturned by the squall, and all
about Polly Jarley. But the result of this letter--and the others that
went along to Denton with it--was not just what the girls had expected.

Although Mrs. Havel, in charge of the Go-Aheads, reported regularly to
her brother-in-law, Percy's father, the story of the overturn made a
great stir among the mothers especially, whose consent to the six girls
living under canvas for the summer had been gained with such difficulty.

"What do you know about this, girls?" cried Frank, on next mail day. "My
mother and father are coming out here. They can stay but one night; but
they say they must see with their own eyes just how we are living here."

"And my Uncle Will is coming," announced Grace. "What do you know about
_that_? Mother has made him promise to come and see if I am all
right."

"_My_ mother says," quoth Mina, slowly, "that she doesn't doubt
Mrs. Havel does the very best she can by us; but she and papa are coming
up here with Mr. and Mrs. Cameron."

Bessie began to laugh, too. "Pa's coming," she said. "It's a plot, I
believe. He says he has hired the _Sissy Radcliffe_, and all of our
parents can come if they like. The boat's big enough. He will bring
another sleeping tent and those who wish can sleep under canvas while
they remain. The boat has lots of berths in it. Say! maybe we'll have a
great time."

"I expect," said Mrs. Havel, looking up and smiling, from her own
letter, "that your mothers, girls, will not really be content until they
see for themselves how you are getting along. So we may as well make
ready for visitors. They will arrive on Saturday. Some will remain only
over Sunday and return by train from the Forge. But Mr. Lavine, I
believe, and some of the gentlemen, will be here on the lake for a week,
or more."

"No more oversets, now, girls," said Frankie. "That's what is bringing
the mothers up here."

"_My_ father is coming to see if he cannot do something for Polly
Jarley," declared Bessie, with emphasis.

But Wynifred Mallory was quite sure that the Lavines--no matter how good
their intentions now were toward the boatman's daughter--would find
Polly rather difficult. Wyn had been down to the boatkeeper's house
several times alone to see Polly; but the backwoods girl would not be
shaken from her attitude. She would not come to Green Knoll Camp any
more, nor would she send any word to Bess Lavine.

Bess really was sorry for what she had said and the way she had treated
Polly. But the latter was obdurate.

"I don't want anything from those Lavines," she replied to Wyn's urging.
"Only that Mr. Lavine should treat my father kindly. I'd pull the girl
out of the lake again--sure! But I don't want her for a friend, and I
don't want to be paid for doing my duty. _You_ don't offer to pay
me, Wynnie."

"No, dear. I couldn't pay you for saving my life," Wynifred admitted.

"Neither can they!" retorted Polly, heatedly. "They think they're so
much above us, because they have money and we have none. They are like
those millionaires at the other end of the lake--Dr. Shelton and the
others. I don't want their money!"

But Polly's obstinacy was cutting the boatman's daughter out of a lot of
fun. This fact became more pronounced, too, when the visitors from
Denton, in the _Sissy Radcliffe_, came to Green Knoll Camp.

The _Sissy_ was a big motor launch, and there was a good-sized
party aboard. When the ladies had once seen how the girls and Mrs. Havel
lived, they were glad to take advantage of the tent Mr. Lavine brought.
The gentlemen slept aboard the launch, which was anchored at night off
Green Knoll Camp.

There were indeed gay times, for instead of acting as "wet-blankets" to
the young folks' fun, the visitors entered into the spirit of the outing
and, with the Busters and Professor Skillings from Gannet Island, made a
holiday of the occasion.

Both the girls and boys "showed off" in their canoes in the shallow
water under the bank, and in their bathing suits. They showed the more
or less anxious parents just how skillful they were in the management of
the tricky craft.

When the canoes were overturned, the girls and boys were able to right
them, bail them out, and scramble aboard again. They could all swim and
dive like ducks--save Bessie and Tubby. But Bessie was improving every
day, and Tubby never _could_ really sink, they all declared, unless
he swallowed so much of the lake for ballast that he would be able to
wade ashore from the middle.

It was now the height of the camping season and the Busters and
Go-Aheads, with their friends, were not the only parties along the
shores of Lake Honotonka. The Jarleys were doing a good business, almost
all their craft being in use most of the time. A battalion of Boy Scouts
went into camp about ten miles to the west of Gannet Island and Dave and
his mates had some friends among them.

Several small steamboats plied the waters of the lake with excursion
parties. The people at Braisely Park often came down to Gannet Island
and the neighborhood of Green Knoll in their boats. Altogether there was
considerable intimacy among the campers and between them and the
residents of Braisely Park.

This pleasant condition of affairs brought about the idea of the
regatta, or boating sports. Some of the wealthy men at the west end of
the lake arranged the events, put up the prizes for certain classes of
boat trials and other aquatic sports, had the necessary printing and
advertising done, and

                         HONOTONKA REGATTA DAY

became emblazoned on the billboards along the neighboring highways and
railroad lines.

The events were entirely amateur and were confined to those actually
camping on, or living on, the shores of the lake. Arrangements went
ahead with a rush, the date being set so close that most of the parents
and friends who had come up with Mr. Lavine from Denton were encouraged
to stay over.

Some of the Busters were going to enter for the canoeing events, and
there was a girls' contest, too, that interested our friends. Bessie
Lavine could paddle a canoe as well as anybody, and she was eager to
take part in one or two of the races. So she got out early one morning,
with Wyn and Grace, and Mr. Lavine for referee, and they did some good
work.

They chanced to get well over toward the Jarley boat landing and
suddenly Wyn set up a shout:

"Polly! Polly Jolly! I never knew you had a canoe. Come on over here!"

She had caught sight of the boatman's daughter paddling near the shore
in an Indian canoe. It was of birchbark and Polly shot it along under
the stroke of her paddle as though it had the weight of a feather. And,
indeed, it was not so heavy by a good deal as the cedar boats of the
Go-Ahead girls.

Polly waved her hand and turned the canoe's prow toward Wyn. Not until
she was right among the other canoes did she realize that in one of them
sat Bessie Lavine.

"We are very glad to see you, Polly," declared Wyn. "Are you going to
enter for the girls' races?"

"Good-morning, Polly," cried Grace, equally cordial. "What a pretty boat
you have!"

Polly stammered some words of welcome and then looked from Bessie to Mr.
Lavine. Evidently the boatman's daughter suspected who the gentleman
was.

Mr. Lavine was a pleasant enough man to meet socially. It is true that
both he and his daughter were impulsive and perhaps prided themselves on
being "good haters." This does not mean that they were haters of that
which was good; but that if they considered anybody their enemy the
enmity was not allowed to die out.

"I am glad to see you again, Polly," Bess said, driving her canoe close
to that of the boatman's daughter. "Won't you speak to me at all?"

"Oh, Miss Lavine! I would not be so rude as to refuse to speak to you,"
Polly replied. "But--but it doesn't do any good----"

"Yes, it does, Polly," Bess said, quickly. "This is my father and he
wants to thank you for saving my life."

"Indeed I do!" exclaimed Mr. Lavine, heartily. "I can't tell you how
much I appreciate what you did----"

"Oh, yes, sir," said Polly, hurriedly. "I know all about that. You told
me how you felt in your letter. And I'm sure I am obliged to you----"

"For what?" demanded the gentleman, smiling. "I have done nothing but
acknowledge in empty phrases your bravery and good sense. I think a deal
of my Bessie, and I must show you in some more substantial way how much
I appreciate what you did for her."

"No, sir; you cannot do that," declared Polly, very much flushed, but
with firmness, too.

"Oh, come, now I My dear girl! Don't be so offish----"

"You have thanked me sufficiently, sir," declared Polly. "If I did not
know better than to accept anything more substantial myself, my father
would not allow it."

"Oh, come now! Your father----"

"My father, sir, is John Jarley. He used to be your friend and partner
in business. You have seen fit to spread abroad tales about him that he
denies--that are untrue, sir," pursued Polly, her anger making her voice
tremble.

"From you, Mr. Lavine, we could accept nothing--no charity. If we are
poor, and if I have no advantages--such advantages as your daughter has,
for instance--_you_ are as much to blame for it as anybody."

"Oh! come now!"

"It is true. Your libelling of my father ruined his reputation in
Denton. He could get no business there. And it worried my mother almost
to death. So he had to come away up here into the woods."

"I really was not to blame for that, Polly," said Mr. Lavine.

"You were! Whether you realize it yourself, or not, you are the cause of
all our troubles, for they began with your being angry with father over
the Steel Rivet Corporation deal. I know. He's told me about it
himself."

Mr. Lavine was putting a strong brake upon his temper. He was deeply
grateful to Polly; but he was a proud man, too.

"Let us put aside the difference of opinion between John Jarley and
myself, my dear girl," he said, quietly. "Perhaps he and I had better
discuss that; not _you_ and I. Bessie, I know, wishes to be your
friend, and so do I. Had you not rescued her from the lake as you did,
Polly, I should be mourning her death. It is a terrible thing to think
of!"

Polly was silenced by this. But if she did not look actually sullen, she
certainly gave no sign of giving way.

"So, my dear, you must see how strongly we both feel. You would be doing
a kind action, Polly, if you allowed Bessie to be your friend."

"That is true, Polly," cried Bessie, putting out her hand again. "Do,
_do_ shake hands with me. Why! I owe you my life!"

"Don't talk that way!" returned the boatman's daughter. But she gave
Bess her hand. "You make too much of what I did. And I don't want to
seem mean--and ungrateful.

"But, truly, you can do nothing for me. No, Mr. Lavine; there is nothing
I could accept. You have wronged my father----"

He put up his hand in denial, but she went on to say:

"At least, _I_ believe so. You can do nothing for me. I would be
glad if you would right the wrong you did him so long ago; but I do not
want you to do _that_ in payment for anything I may have done for
Miss Bessie.

"No, sir. Right my father's wrong because it _is_ a wrong and
because you realize it to be such--that you were mistaken----"

"I do not see that," Mr. Lavine returned, stiffly.

"Then there is nothing more to be said," declared Polly, and with a
quick flirt of her paddle, she drove her birchbark out of the huddle of
other canoes and, in half a minute, was out of earshot.



CHAPTER XVIII

THE REGATTA


The late July morning that broke upon the scene of the last preparations
for Honotonka regatta promised as fine a day as heart could wish.

There was a good breeze from early morning. This was fine for the
catboat races and for the sailing canoes. Yet the breeze was not too
strong, and there was not much "sea." This latter fact made the paddling
less difficult.

The camps on Gannet Island and at Green Knoll were deserted soon after
breakfast. The Busters took their canoes aboard the _Happy Day_,
while Mr. Lavine's launch, the _Sissy Radcliffe_, carried the
girls' canoes as well as the girls themselves.

They were two merry boatloads, and the boats themselves were strung with
banners and pennants. As they shot up the sunlit lake they sighted many
other craft headed toward Braisely Park, for some contestants had come
from as far away as the Forge, at the head of the Wintinooski.

Suddenly Wyn, looking through the camp spyglass, recognized the patched
sail of the _Coquette_, the little catboat in which Polly Jarley
had come to the rescue of the two members of the Go-Ahead Club on that
memorable day.

"Polly is aboard," she told Frank Cameron, passing the glass to her
friend. "But who is the boy with her?"

"That's no boy!" declared the sharp-eyed Frankie. "Why! he's got a
mustache."

"It's never Mr. Jarley himself?" exclaimed Wyn, in surprise.

"That's exactly who it is."

"I didn't think they'd both leave the landing at the same time. Do you
suppose they have entered the _Coquette_ in the free-for-all
catboat race?"

"I shouldn't wonder. She's a fast boat if she _is_ old and
lubberly-looking. And Dr. Shelton has offered twenty-five dollars for
the winning boat."

"It takes two to work a catboat properly, too. That is the
understanding," said Wyn, thoughtfully: "a crew of two."

"Hope they win the race!" declared Frank, generously.

"So do I. And they've got Polly's birch canoe aboard. She will enter for
the girls' canoe race, I am sure."

"All right," said Frank. "If you don't win the prize in _that_, my
dear, then I hope Polly does."

"Why, I haven't a chance beside Bess, I am sure."

"That's all right. Bess is too erratic. One day she paddles well and the
next she is 'way behind. It's her temperament. She's not a steady old
warhorse like yourself, Wynnie."

"Thanks," laughed Wyn. "How about Polly? What do you call _her_?"

"I don't know. I admire her vastly," said Frank. "But Polly puzzles me.
And I haven't seen her working at the paddle much. I only know that in a
skiff she can out row any of the Busters."

"I fancy she can paddle some, too. And her canoe is as light as a
feather. All those birchbarks are."

"The judges may handicap her, then. But, hullo! what's that Dave Shepard
up to?"

Wyn turned to look at her next-door neighbor. Dave was writing upon a
slip of paper. Once he looked across at Frank and Wyn and saw that the
two girls were watching him.

He seemed confused, started as though to tear the paper up, and then hid
it under a coil of rope at his feet. But he was very particular to hide
every particle of the paper.

"What you doing there, Dave?" demanded Frank, with plain curiosity.

"Oh, nothing," responded the youth, and rose up, stretching his arms and
yawning. It was plain that he did not wish to be questioned.

"What was that paper?" pursued Frank.

"Oh--that--er----It's of no consequence," declared Dave, and walked aft
so as not to be further questioned.

"Now, he can't fool me!" cried Frank, under her breath. "It _was_
something of consequence. I--I'm going to see."

"I wouldn't," said Wyn.

"Why not?"

"Well--whatever it is, it isn't ours."

"Pooh!"

"And he evidently didn't want us to see it."

"For that very reason I am going to look," declared Frankie. And the
moment Dave was out of sight she sprang across the deck and lifted up
the rope enough to pull out the paper.

The moment she scanned it, Wyn saw Frankie's face turn very red. She
looked angry, and stamped her foot. Then she burst into a giggle, and
slid the paper back out of sight again.

She came back to her friend with a mixture of emotions expressed on her
countenance. "What do you suppose?" she demanded.

"Suppose about what?" asked Wyn.

"What do you suppose Dave wrote on that paper?"

"I give it up. Something that didn't concern us, as I told you."

"You're wrong," cried Frank, divided between wrath and amusement. "And
it's just the very _meanest_ thing!"

"Why, you excite my curiosity," admitted Wyn.

"That's what he did it for," declared Frankie.

"_What_ did he write?" cried Wyn. "Out with it."

"He wrote: 'I bet an ice-cream treat all around that your curiosity will
not permit you to leave this alone.' Now! could anything be meaner?"

"Ha, ha!" chuckled Wyn.

"Don't you see? We can't claim the treat without giving ourselves away?
I believe I'll join forces with Bess. There _is_ nothing meaner
than a boy."

"Never mind," said Wyn. "I'll find some way of making Master Dave pay
for the ice-cream treat, just the same. You see if I don't."

Soon after this the launches were sent to one side so as to leave the
course clear, and the races began. The men's and boys' canoe races were
very interesting, and Dave Shepard won a sweater, while one of the other
Busters got the second prize of a dollar for quickness in overturning
and righting a canoe.

Some "funny stunts" followed in the water, and then came a girls'
swimming race. Here the Go-Ahead girls excelled, although there were
more than a score of entries. Wyn Mallory won a two-hundred-yard,
straightaway dash, while Frank was second and Grace Hedges third in the
same race. The people who had come up from Denton cheered the girls
enthusiastically. When the parents who had been so afraid for their
daughters' safety saw how well able the girls were to take care of
themselves, their anxiety was allayed.

After these swimming contests there was an interval of two hours for
refreshments. A caterer had prepared tables of sandwiches and cold
drinks, as well as ice cream and cake, on one of the bigger docks
belonging to Braisely Park. In fact, it was Dr. Shelton's dock.

The catboat races were to follow the intermission and Wyn found that the
Jarley _Coquette_ had been entered. She ran over to the dock from
which the "cats" were to start for the line, and as she approached the
spot she heard loud voices and saw a little crowd of excited people.

The _Coquette_ was almost the only catboat left. Dr. Shelton had
backed Mr. Jarley up against a post on the wharf and, in a loud and
angry voice, was telling the unfortunate boatman what he thought of him.

"_You_ have the cheek to be in this race, John Jarley?" cried the
angry man. "I don't mind your daughter--I pity her. But I'm hanged if
I'll let a thief take part in this race--and me offering the prize. Get
out of here!"

"Hold on, Shelton!" exclaimed one of his friends. "You're going too far
when you call Jarley a thief."

"Or else you are not going far enough," chimed in another. "If you
believe Jarley stole those images--and the boat--why don't you go about
it right? Report it to the county prosecutor and have the man arrested."

"Or, if Jarley is _not_ guilty," added another, "I advise him, as a
lawyer, to sue you for damages."

"Let him sue and be hanged to him!" cried Dr. Shelton, who was a great,
rough man, twice the size of the boatman, and with all the confidence of
his great wealth, as well as his great muscle, behind him. "But he
sha'n't sail in this race."

"We'll go back home, Father----Oh, let's go back!" cried Polly, from the
cockpit of the dancing _Coquette_.

But Wyn Mallory knew that the Jarleys must have hoped to win the
twenty-five dollar prize. The _Coquette_ was being mentioned as a
possible winner among the knowing ones about the course.

"Dr. Shelton!" she cried, tugging at the angry man's arm. "Do you mind
if Polly and I sail the boat instead?"

"Eh? _You_--a girl?" grunted the doctor, "Well, why not? I've got
nothing--as I said before--against his daughter. It's the man himself
who has no business at this end of the lake. I sent him word so a month
and more ago. I ought to have him arrested."

Win thought it would be less cruel to do so, and have the matter
thrashed out in the courts. Mr. Jarley was stooping from the wharf,
whispering with Polly.

"I can help her," Wyn cried, turning to the abused boatman. "Let
me--do!"

"You are very kind, Miss Mallory," said Jarley.

The captain of the Go-Ahead Club leaped lightly down into the
_Coquette_.

"What's our number--sixteen?" she cried. "Pay off the sheet, Polly.
We're off." Then she added, in a low tone, to the weeping girl in the
stern: "Don't you mind the doctor, Polly--mean old thing! We'll win the
prize in spite of him--you see if we don't."



CHAPTER XIX

UNDER WHITE WINGS


Already the catboats were getting off from the starting line, in
rotation of numbers and about two minutes apart. The course was ten
miles (or thereabout) straightaway to the stake-boat, set far out in the
lake--quite out of sight from the decks of the boats about the starting
point--and turning that, to beat back. The wind was free, but not too
strong. The out-and-return course would prove the boats themselves and
the seamanship of their crews.

Being a free-for-all race, there had been brought together some pretty
odd-looking craft beside the smart, new boats belonging to dwellers in
Braisely Park. But the Jarleys' boat was by no means the worst-looking.

However, it attracted considerable attention because it was the only
catboat "manned" by girls.

Wynifred Mallory had done this on impulse, and it was not usual for her
to act in such a way. But her parents had gone home and she had nobody
to ask permission of but Mrs. Havel--and she did not really know where
the Go-Aheads' chaperone was.

Beside, there wasn't time to ask. The catboats were already getting
under way. The _Coquette_ was almost the last to start. Wyn was not
at all afraid of the task before her, for she had helped Dave sail his
cousin's catboat on the Wintinooski many times. She knew how to 'tend
sheet.

The Go-Aheads and Busters recognized Wyn, and began to cheer her and
Polly before the _Coquette_ came to the line. Other onlookers
caught sight of the two girls, and whether they knew the crew of the
_Coquette_ or not, gave them a good "send-off."

Polly had accepted Wyn's help quietly, but with a look that Wyn was not
likely to forget. It meant much to the Jarleys if the _Coquette_
won the twenty-five dollars. They needed every dollar they could
honestly earn.

The boatman's daughter did not stop then to thank her friend. Instead
she gave her brief, but plain, instructions as to what she was to do,
and Wyn went about her work in a practical manner.

The catboat was sixteen feet over all, with its mast stepped well
forward, of course, carrying a large fore-and-aft sail with gaff and
boom. A single person _can_ sail a cat all right; but to get speed
out of one, and manoeuver quickly, it takes a sheet-tender as well as
a steersman.

"Sixteen!" shouted the starter's assistant through his megaphone, and
Polly brought the _Coquette_ about and shot towards the starter's
boat.

The boatman's girl had held off some distance from the line. Number
Fifteen had just crossed and was now swooping away on her first tack
toward the distant stake-boat. The momentum the _Coquette_ obtained
racing down to the line was what Polly wanted.

"Go!" shouted the starter, looking at his watch and comparing it with
the timekeeper's.

The _Coquette_ flashed past the line of motor-boats and smaller
craft that lined the course for some distance. The course was not very
well policed and one of the small steamers, with a party of
excursionists aboard, got right in the way of the racing boats.

"Look out, Wynnie!" shouted Polly. "I'm going to tack to pass those
boats."

Wyn fell flat on the decked-over portion of the _Coquette_, and the
boom swung across. With gathering speed the catboat flew on and on.
Although her sail was patched, and she was shabby-looking in the
extreme, the _Coquette_ showed her heels that day to many handsomer
craft.

The various boats raced with each other--first one ahead, and then
another. There were not many important changes in the positions of the
contesting boats, however, until the stake-boat was reached.

But Number Sixteen passed Thirteen, Fifteen, and Twelve for good and
all, before five miles of the course were sailed. The _Coquette_,
when once she had dropped an opponent behind, never was caught by it.

Wyn was on the _qui vive_ every moment. She sprang to obey Captain
Polly's commands, and the latter certainly knew how to sail a catboat.
She never let an advantage slip. She tacked at just the right time. Yet
she sailed very little off the straight course.

The motor boats and steamboats came hooting after the racing catboats
that their passengers might have a good view of the contest. These
outside boats were a deal of a nuisance, and two of the tail-enders in
the race dropped out entirely because of the closeness of the pleasure
boats' pursuit.

[Illustration: THE _COQUETTE_ SHOT OVER THE COURSE, LIKE A GREAT
SWOOPING BIRD. _Page 212._]
"But they couldn't win anyway," Polly confided to Wynifred. "Get a
bucket of water, dear. Dip it right up. That's right! Now throw it on
the sail. Another! Another! It will hold the wind better if it is wet."

"What a scheme!" cried Wyn. "Oh, Polly! I wish you lived in Denton and
went to our school and belonged to the Go-Ahead Club."

But Polly only shook her head. That was beyond the reach of possibility
for her, she believed. But she thanked Wyn for suggesting it.

Neither girl let her attention to the present business fail, however.
They were on their mettle, being the only girls in the race.

Some of the other crews had jollied them at the start; but the old
_Coquette_ passed first one and then another of the competing
boats, and none of the other craft passed her.

Because of the fact that the boats had started about two minutes apart
it was rather difficult to tell which was really winning. The leading
boats were still far ahead when the _Coquette_ rounded the
stake-boat.

Polly took the turn as shortly as any craft in the race--and as cleanly.
The _Coquette_ made a long leg of her first tack, then a short one.
Whereas it seemed as though at first the other craft were crowding Polly
and Wyn close, in a little while the _Coquette_ was shown to be
among the flock of leading craft!

"Only Numbers One, Three, Four, Seven, and Nine ahead of us, Polly
Jolly!" reported Wynifred. "And we're Sixteen! Why, it's wonderful! We
are sailing two lengths to one of some of them, I verily believe!"

"But Conningsby's _Elf_, and the _Pretty Sue_ are good
sailers--I've watched 'em," said Polly. "And the _Waking Up_ is
splendidly manned. If our sail would only hold the wind! It's a regular
old sieve."

Wyn splashed bucket after bucket of water into the bellying sail. On the
long tacks the _Coquette_ shot over the course like a great,
swooping bird. When she passed near one of the excursion boats the
spectators cheered the two girls vociferously.

Half-way back to the starting boat the _Happy Day_, into which the
Go-Aheads and all the Busters had piled, shot alongside the racing
catboat manned by the two girls, and from that point on their friends
"rooted" for the _Coquette_.

The _Coquette_ passed Numbers Seven and Nine; It did seem as though
she must have sailed the course fast enough to bring her well up among
the leaders, so many higher numbers than her own had been passed.

But Wyn and Polly were not sure, when they crossed the line, how they
stood in the race.



CHAPTER XX

THE CANOE RACE


Dave Shepard, at the wheel of the _Happy Day_, ran directly behind
the judges' boat and stopped.

"Who won?" cried the boys, in chorus. "Where does Number Sixteen stand?"

"How can we tell you until all the boats are in?" returned one of the
gentlemen, smiling.

"Of course we know," declared Dr. Shelton. "And you are quite right to
cheer them, boys. The _Coquette_ is 'way ahead of everything
else--those two girls are corkers!"

Instantly the Busters and the Go-Aheads began to cheer anew. The older
members of their party aboard the _Sissy Radcliffe_ took up the
chorus. Wyn Mallory and Polly Jarley had beaten out the other catboats
in the dingy old craft, and had won the twenty-five-dollar prize.

"It's all for you, dear," cried Wyn, when Polly kissed and thanked her.
"Of course I don't need the money, while you and your father do. You'll
take it from me--for friendship's sake, dear?"

"Yes, Wyn. From _you_," returned the boatman's daughter, with
trembling lips.

"And now you are coming to try for the canoe prize, too? That will be a
five-dollar gold piece. But you will have to fight all us Go-Ahead girls
for it. I shall beat you myself, if I can," laughed Wynifred.

Dave had rushed the motor boat over to the landing and he got Wyn's and
Polly's canoes into the water. The whistle had blown for the girls'
canoe race the minute before, and the other girls were out on the lake.

Altogether there were forty-three canoes. Some were birchbarks like
Polly's; but the large majority were cedar boats.

"Birchbarks line up at Dr. Shelton's landing!" bellowed the starter's
voice through his megaphone. "Get me? Shelton's landing!"

Polly and the few other girls who had the Indian canoes waved their
hands and got into position. They kept a pretty straight line.

"Now at the starting line here for you cedars!" cried the man, and Wyn,
with her five mates, and the rest of the girl canoeists from all about
the lake, tried to obey the command.

But there were so many of them that it was not altogether easy to get
into line. Nearly forty canoes were "some bunch," to quote the slangy
Frank, who was, by the way, just as eager as any of the other
contestants.

Although Frank believed that Wyn, and perhaps Bess, as well as Polly and
Grace, had a better chance than _she_ of winning the race; there
was, of course, a chance of the very best canoeist getting a spill and
so being put out of the race.

It is not always the best paddler who wins; there is too much
uncertainty in handling the "tippy" craft--especially in moments of
excitement, and among many other similar craft.

So there was hope for any and all. The eager faces of the girls in the
canoes showed it. They scuffled somewhat to get place on the line; but
the entries had all been numbered, so it was merely a case of getting in
right and leaving enough space on either side of one's bobbing canoe.

One of the starters was pulled up and down the line in a skiff to
criticise. Not every girl was as fair-minded to her opponents as the
girls from Green Knoll Camp, and there was some little bickering before
the starter shouted for the whole crowd--both cedars and birches--to get
ready.

"At the shot, remember," he cried through the megaphone. "Once around
the stake-boat, to the right, and return. The birchbarks finish at this
line, like the cedars. Now!"

A moment later the pistol shot rang out. There was a splash of
paddles--even a clash of them, for some of the girls were too near each
other and too eager.

The spectators cheered--the boys from Gannet Island doing especially
well in that line. They were determined to root indiscriminately for the
girls of Green Knoll Camp.

But within a very few minutes Dave Shepard shouted to his friends:

"Look what's coming up, fellows! See Polly!"

"Polly Jolly!" yelled the excitable Ferd. "Is that her in the first
birchbark?"

"Of course it is," responded Tubby Blaisdell. "Well! did you ever see a
girl like that before? Look at those arms. She's got better biceps than
_you_ have, Dave, m' boy!"

For the girls were in their bathing dresses and Polly's bare arms were
displayed to the best advantage as she flashed past the motor boat. Her
face was set--her eyes bright. And she weaved back and forth as she
drove the paddle with the steadiness of a machine.

"Hooray for Polly Jolly!" yelled Ferd Roberts, again.

The Busters took up the chorus. They could not restrain their
enthusiasm, for the pace at which Polly was overhauling the cedar boats
was really marvelous.

Of course, it was a foregone conclusion that some of the contestants
would drop out. These canoes Polly passed as though they were standing
still.

In the lead were Wyn, Bess, Grace, Frank, and half a dozen other girls
from about the lake. There were already two spills, and several slight
collisions followed. The handicap on the birch canoes was really greater
than was expected, for being in the rear, they had to dodge all the
overset boats and the other paddlers who did not know enough to keep out
of the course.

But Polly Jarley had taken the outside and she shot by all the trouble
easily. She was soon clinging to the skirts of the head canoes and it
looked, before the turn, as though she would soon be in the lead
herself.

Up ahead Wyn and Bess and Grace were struggling almost neck and neck
with two strange girls. The captain of the Go-Aheads wanted to win--she
wanted to do so very much. She was a good sport, and therefore a good
loser; but that does not necessarily mean that one _likes_ to lose.

Bessie Lavine was paddling splendidly for her--it was evidently one of
her good days. Frank Cameron had fallen behind--indeed, she had clashed
with another girl and both were out of the race.

Grace Hedges was almost as big and strong as Polly Jarley; but she
lacked the training of the boatman's daughter. Polly was used to hard
work every day of her life. That is different from gymwork and a little
paddling, or swimming, or other athletic fun a few times a week.

But Grace was doing finely and she even might have won had she not tried
unwisely to pass one of her rivals. Her paddle clashed with that of the
other girl. Both canoeists were straining hard--and their tempers were a
bit strained, too.

"I wish you'd look where you're going, Miss!" snapped the other girl,
and before Grace could return the compliment--had she so wished--the two
canoes crashed together and both girls were spilled into the lake.

There was no danger in these spills. Two motor boats followed behind and
picked up the swamped contestants.

But before Grace was picked up she saw Polly Jarley flash by in the
birchbark. There were but three cedar boats ahead of the boatman's
daughter, and all were coming down the return course, the paddlers
straining to do their very best.

Wyn had a splendid, even stroke; Bess was getting heated, and bit her
lip as she paddled. It always hurt Bess when she lost. Up from the rear
Polly urged her birchbark with long, steady heaves that seemed to prove
her magnificent muscles tireless.

The spectators began to shout for the boatman's daughter. They saw that
she was making a magnificent attempt to win the race.

But when Wyn heard them shouting for another number rather than her
own--she did not notice which!--she put forth every ounce of spare
strength she possessed.

Bess was left behind by the captain of the Go-Ahead Club. Her canoe
quivering, her paddle actually bending under her work, Wyn dashed on.
Bess and the other girl were out of the race--hopelessly. It lay between
Wyn and the birchbark canoe.

Polly did not withhold her paddle when she saw her friend dart ahead; it
was a perfectly fair race. But the boatman's girl had done so well at
first, considering her handicap and all, that there was little wonder if
she could not keep up the gruelling work. She had no reserve force, as
Wyn had.

The latter dashed over the mark with undiminished speed. Polly only
halted long enough to congratulate her.

"It's dear of you to be glad, Polly, when I know you wanted the prize,"
cried Wyn. "But we couldn't both have it."

"You have helped me enough to-day, Wynifred," replied Polly, softly.
"Now father and I will go home. He told me how it would be, if he came
down here; but at least we won the big prize, thanks to you, and money
means so much to us now!"

The day was not over yet for the Go-Aheads and the Busters, although the
races were finished. Somehow the news was spread among the campers on
Gannet Island and Green Knoll that there was to be a "grand treat" at
the ice-cream tables, and they gathered "like eagles to the kill,"
Frankie poetically declared.

The waiter brought heaping dishes of cream, there were nice cakes, and
Tubby's unctuous smile at one end of the table radiated cheer. They were
all very jolly and nobody asked who was to pay the piper until the
waiter gravely brought Dave Shepard the check and a slip of paper.

"Hi! did _I_ order this feed?" demanded Dave, startled by the size
of the check.

"I was ordered to give the check to you--and the paper," quoth the
waiter, calmly.

"Gee, Dave! somebody's stung you!" croaked Tubby, with his mouth still
full.

Dave unfolded the paper slowly, and read in his own handwriting: "I bet
an ice-cream treat all around to the Go-Ahead girls that your curiosity
would not permit you to leave this alone."

"You don't deny your own handwriting; do you, sir?" queried the waiter,
with a perfectly grave face. "I served the company on that order, Mr.
Shepard."

"That Wyn Mallory! She got me!" groaned Dave, and paid up like a man.

"But what's the use of trying to put a joke over on those girls?" he
said to Tubby afterward. "They're always turning the tables on a
fellow."

"Very good table, too--very good table," agreed Tubby, smacking his
lips. "But you're so reckless with your promises, Dave."

Mr. Lavine's man took the _Happy Day_ and the canoes back to camp,
while the whole party of young folk piled aboard the larger
_Sissy_. They had a fine time sailing down the lake and reached the
Cave-in-the-Wood Camp at late supper time.

There was still light enough on the water for the voyagers to see a boat
rocking on the waves in the little cove where Polly Jarley had first
been introduced to the two canoe clubs.

"And that's Polly and her father there now," said Dave, quickly.

"Yes. It's the _Coquette_," agreed Wyn.

"What are they doing in there?" asked Frankie. "See! he is standing up
and gesticulating--not to us. He's talking to Polly."

"That is the place where he had the misfortune to lose Dr. Shelton's
motor boat last winter," said Wyn. "Don't you remember?"

"You see," Dave cried, "he is showing her the place where the limb fell
again--and the direction the boat must have taken in the fog."

"A lot _he_ knows where it went," said Tubby, scornfully. "He was
swept overboard, and as far as he knows the _Bright Eyes_ might
have gone right up into the air!"

"But it didn't explode, you see, nor did it have wings," laughed
Wynifred. "So it took no aërial voyage--we may be sure of that. I'd give
anything to find where it sank."

"So would I, Wyn," cried Dave. "If we could locate the sunken boat, Mr.
Jarley could easily prove he had neither stolen it nor the silver
images."

"I'd give something handsome to have the mystery explained, myself,"
said Mr. Lavine, suddenly.

"What would you give, Father?" asked his daughter.

"I'll tell you," he replied, smiling. "I understand both of your
clubs--the Go-Aheads and the Busters--are anxious to really _own_ a
motor boat. Frank Dumont, here, tells me he has got to go home with the
_Happy Day_ to-morrow, as his vacation is ended.

"Now, I'll make you boys and girls an offer," pursued Mr. Lavine, more
earnestly. "You'll hunt in packs, anyway--the boys together and the
girls together. If the girls find the sunken boat I'll present them with
a motor boat as good as the _Happy Day_; and if the boys have the
luck, then the boat shall belong to the Busters. What say?"

"We say 'Thanks!'" cried Dave, instantly.

"_We_ think it is very handsome of you, sir," declared Wyn, coming
over to the gentleman and taking his hand. "And I know why you do it,
sir--so I thank you twice. If poor Mr. Jarley could be absolved of Dr.
Shelton's accusation, it would help a whole lot."

"Humph!" muttered Mr. Lavine, "I heard Shelton going on about Jarley
myself to-day, and it made me ashamed--I'm free to own it. I never
_did_ think John as bad as all that!"

"It sounds different when you hear somebody else say it," whispered Dave
in Wynifred's ear.

Mr. Lavine's proposal, however, met with enthusiastic favor on the part
of both clubs. A motor boat would be just the finest thing to own! Both
boys and girls determined to find the lost _Bright Eyes_ before the
season was out.



CHAPTER XXI

THE WAY OF THE WIND


"Did you know," said Professor Skillings, visiting Camp Green Knoll with
the Busters several days later, "that there are several thousand Poles
in the Wintinooski Valley?"

"You surprise me," remarked Mrs. Havel.

"Fine things to grow beans on, Professor," declared Dave, coming up with
a brimming bucket of water from the spring.

"Not the right kind of poles, my boy--not the right kind of poles," said
the professor, smiling gently, and offering Mrs. Havel a cocoanut-cup of
the sparkling water. "You see what a misunderstanding of terms will do,"
the professor added, in his argumentative way. "A little
knowledge--especially a little scientific knowledge--is a dangerous
thing."

"You are right, Professor," cried Tubby, who was within hearing
distance. "Did you hear about what Dr. Mackenzie's servant girl did?"

"Dr. Mackenzie is very erudite," commented the professor, dreamily.

"That's right. Anyhow, the girl heard a lot of talk about bugs, and
grubs, and germs, and the like--and it proves just what Professor
Skillings says about the danger of knowing a little science."

"How's that, Tubby?" queried one of the interested young folk.

"Why, one day the doctor's wife asked this servant for a glass of water,
and the girl brought it.

"'It has a very peculiar taste, Mary,' said Mrs. Mackenzie.

"'Sure, ma'am, it's all right, ma'am. There ain't a germ in it, for I
ran it through the colander before I brought it to you, ma'am!' says
Mary. Oh, Mary had picked up some scientific notions, all right, all
right!"

"I believe there would be more breeze up on Windmill Farm," observed
Wynifred Mallory.

"Wish I was up there, then," growled Tubby, who had quite collapsed
after telling his joke.

"Let's go!" suggested Frankie.

"There will be plenty of wind bye and bye," said Dave, thoughtfully
eyeing the clouds on the horizon.

"Listen to the weather prophet," scoffed Ferdinand.

"I tell you!" cried Frankie, jumping up. "Let's go up into the windmill
and see how far one can really _see_ from that height. The farmer's
wife says it is a great view--doesn't she, Wyn?"

"I'm game," responded Wyn. "We'll be no warmer walking than we are
sitting here talking about the heat."

She and Frankie and Dave started off ahead; but Tubby would not come,
nor would Grace Hedges. The others, however, saw some prospect of
amusement and were willing to pay the price.

They began to be paid for their walk as soon as they came out into the
open fields of Windmill Farm. A little breeze had sprung up and,
although it was fitful at first, it soon grew to a steady wind from
across the lake.

The distant haze was dissipated, and when the boys and girls reached the
top of the hill they were glad they had come.

"I bet we have a storm bye and bye," Dave said. "But isn't the air up
here cool?"

"Let's climb up into the loft," Frank urged. "The farmer's wife said we
could."

"They're all away from home to-day," Wyn said. "But I don't believe they
will mind. When we came up for the milk this morning Mrs. Prosser told
us they were going on a Sunday school picnic."

"I'd like to set the old thing to working," remarked the inquisitive
Ferdinand. "What do you know about it, Dave?"

"It starts by throwing in this clutch," replied the bigger boy, just
inside the door. "If the wind keeps on the farmer will probably grind a
grist when he comes back. You see, there are several bags of corn and
wheat yonder."

The girls were already finding their way up the dusty ladders, from loft
to loft of the tower. Frank got to the top floor first and called out
her delight at the view.

"Come on up!" she cried. "There is plenty of room. It's bigger up here
than you think--and the breeze is nice. There are two windows, and that
makes a fine draught."

The boys trooped up behind the Go-Aheads--all but Ferdinand. But none of
them missed him for some minutes.

What a view was obtained from the window of the mill! The whole panorama
of Lake Honotonka and its shores, with a portion of the Wintinooski
Valley, lay spread like a carpet at their feet--woods and fields,
cultivated land in the foreground, the rocky ridges of Gannet Island,
Jarley's Landing, the Forge, the steep shore of the lake beyond the
Wintinooski, and so around to the fine houses in Braisely Park and the
smoke of the big city to the west.

In the midst of their exclamations there came a sudden jar through the
heavily-timbered building that startled them.

"What's that?" cried Mina.

"An earthquake!" laughed Frankie.

"It's the sails!" yelled Dave, starting for the ladder. "What are you
doing down there, Ferd?"

The groaning and shaking continued. The arms of the windmill were going
round and round--every revolution increasing their speed.

"Stop that, Ferd!" shouted Dave again, starting to descend the ladder.

"Isn't that just like a boy?" demanded Bess, in disgust. "He just
_had_ to fool with the machinery."

"What do you suppose the miller will say?" queried Wyn, anxiously.

The roar of the whirling arms almost drowned their voices. The wind had
increased to a brisk breeze. With the sails so well filled the arms
turned at top-notch speed. The tower shook as though it were about to
tumble down.

"Oh, dear me!" moaned Mina, the timid one. "Let us get out of here."

"Why doesn't Dave make him stop it?" shouted Frankie.

"Why doesn't the foolish Ferd stop it himself?" was Wyn's demand.

The other boys were already tumbling down the ladder, and the girls
followed as fast as possible. It was rather dark below, and when they
came to the ground floor, it was full of dancing dust-particles. Dave
and Ferd were busy over the machinery near the door.

"Can't you stop it, Dave?" shrieked Percy.

"The confounded thing is broken!" announced Dave, in disgust.

"Goodness me!" cried Frank. "I want to get out of here."

She started for the door; but Wyn grabbed her just in time. Past the
open door whirled the sails of the mill--one after the other--faster and
faster. And so close were the sails to the doorway that there was not
room for the very smallest of the Go-Ahead girls to get out without
being struck.

Dave stared around at the others. It was almost impossible to hear each
other speak--and what was there to say? Each boy and girl realized the
situation in which Ferd's meddling had placed them.

Until the wind subsided they were prisoners in the tower.

Ferd Roberts subsided into a corner, and hid his face in his hands. He
had done something that scared his inquisitive soul to the very bottom.

He had started the sails, and then, in trying to throw out the clutch,
he had started the millstones as well. _They_ made most of this
noise that almost deafened them.

Finally, however, Dave pushed the power belt from the flywheel, and the
stones stopped turning; but there was no way of stopping the sails. To
step outside the door was to court instant death, and until the wind
stopped blowing it seemed as though there would be no escape.

"And the wind blows sometimes two or three days at a stretch!" cried
Frankie.

"It's lucky Tubby isn't up here with us," Dave said, grimly. "He would
want to cast lots at once to see which one of the party should be eaten
first."

"Ugh! don't joke like that, Dave," begged Mina. "Maybe we _will_ be
dreadfully hungry before we get out of this place."

"I'm hungry now," announced Frankie.

"It _is_ near time for luncheon," agreed Wyn.

"'Luncheon'! Huh!" ejaculated Dave. "I s'pose that's the feminine of
'lunch.' I could eat a stack of pancakes and a whole can of beans right
now. I'm too hungry for any mere 'luncheon.'"

"Oh, dear! It's so hot down here," sighed Percy. "If we've got to stay,
let's go upstairs again, where there is some air stirring."

"Let's wave a signal from the window. Maybe somebody will see it and
come to our rescue," suggested Frank.

"And what could they do?" demanded Wyn, "These sails can't be stopped
from the outside; can they, Dave?"

"Not that I know of," replied Dave. "If there was a tree near, a fellow
might tie a kedge rope to it, and then throw the kedge over one of the
arms. But that would tear the machinery all to pieces, I suppose, it
would stop it with such a jerk."

Just then Mina Everett uttered a shrill cry of alarm. "Look! Look!" she
cried. "It's afire! We'll burn up in here! Oh, oh, Wynnie! what shall we
do?"

The others turned, aghast There _was_ blue smoke spurting out
around the shaft above their heads.



CHAPTER XXII

THE PRISONERS OF THE TOWER


"Fire!" cried Percy Havel. "Oh! what _shall_ we do?"

"Well, your yelling about it won't put it out," snapped Frank.

But Dave Shepard had sprung up the ladder and immediately announced the
trouble.

"The axle is getting overheated. See that can of oil yonder, Ferd? Come
out of your trance and do something useful, boy! Quick! hand me the
can."

But it was Wyn who got it to him. Dave quickly refilled the oil cups and
squirted some of the lubricant into the cracks about the shaft. The
smoke immediately drifted away.

"The rest of you go up where it's cooler," he commanded. "I will remain
here and play engineer. And for goodness' sake, pray for the wind to die
down!"

The situation was really serious; nobody among the prisoners of the
tower knew what to do.

While the wind swung the arms of the mill round and round, there was no
chance to get out. Not that they did not all cudgel their brains within
the next hour to that end. There were enough suggestions made to lead to
a dozen escapes; only--none of the suggestions were practical.

It was less noisy, now that Dave had stopped the millstones; but the
building continued to tremble, and the great wheel to creak.

"What a donkey the man was to let them cut his door right behind the
arms," exclaimed Frankie.

"And with no proper means of stopping the sails from inside, once the
wind began to blow," added Percy.

"No. That's my fault," admitted Ferdinand. "I broke the gear some way."

"Well, if we only had an axe," said one of the other boys, "we might cut
our way out of the building on the side opposite the door."

But Dave had already searched the mill for tools. There wasn't even a
rope. Had there been, they could have let themselves down from the high
window to the ground.

"It should be against the law to build windmills without proper
fire-escapes," declared Frank, trying to laugh.

But it was hard to joke about the matter. It looked altogether too
serious.

The wind continued to blow steadily--a little harder, indeed, as time
passed; but the sun grew hotter. It came noon, and they knew that those
at Green Knoll Camp had long since expected them back.

Finally a figure appeared upon the path far down the hill. They
recognized Tubby Blaisdell trudging painfully up the slope in the hot
sun, evidently an unwilling messenger from Mrs. Havel and Professor
Skillings.

They began to shout to Tubby, although they knew very well it was
useless. He couldn't have heard their voices down there, even if the
windmill hadn't made so much noise.

But the girls fluttered their hats from the window and, bye and bye, the
stolid fat youth, glancing up while he mopped his brow, caught sight of
the signals. He halted, glared up at the window from under his hand, and
then hurried his steps.

"Oh, you Tubby!" shouted Frank, at last, thrusting her tousled curls out
of the window. "Can't you help us?"

He heard these words, and looked more bewildered than ever.

"Say! what do you want?" he bellowed up at them. "Don't ask me to climb
up those ladders, for I can't. And Mrs. Havel and the prof. say for you
to come back to camp. They think a storm is coming. Besides--aren't you
hungry?"

"Hungry! why, Tub," yelled down Ferd, "if we could only get at you, we'd
eat you alive!"

Tubby looked more than a little startled, and glanced behind him to see
that the way of retreat was clear.

"Well, why don't you come down and get your lunch, then?" demanded young
Blaisdell.

"We can't," said Wyn, and she explained their predicament.

"Can't stop those sails?" gasped Tubby. "Why--why--Where's the man who
owns the old contraption?"

They explained further. Tubby went around to the other side and caught a
glimpse of Dave playing engineer. The chums shouted back and forth to
each other for some time.

Tubby wanted to see if he couldn't stop the sails by making a grab at
them.

"You do it, Tubby, and the blamed things will throw you a mile through
the air," declared Dave. "Besides, we don't want to smash the farmer's
mill. We have done enough harm as it is. So, there's no use in backing
one of those heavy wagons into it and wrecking the sails. No. I guess
we've got to stand it here for a while."

They heard one of the girls calling, and Tubby lumbered around to see
Frankie gesticulating from the window.

"Oh, Tubby! don't leave us to starve--and we're so _awfully_
thirsty, too," cried Wyn, pushing her friend to one side. "Get us a
bucket of water from the well, first of all."

"Gee! how am I going to get it up to you--throw it?" cackled the fat
youth.

"You get the bucket--and a rope," commanded Wyn.

"But if he can throw a rope up to us, we can get out of this fix,"
Ferdinand cried. "Can't we, Dave?" he asked of his captain, who had come
up the ladders for a breath of fresh air.

"Tubby couldn't throw a coil of rope for a cent. He couldn't learn to
use a lasso, you know."

"And we girls could not get down on a rope," objected Bess.

"We could lower you," Ferd declared.

"It would have to be a pretty strong rope," said Dave. "And maybe there
isn't anything bigger than clothes line about the farm."

Which proved to be the case. At least, Tubby could find nothing else and
finally brought the brimming bucket and the line he had found on the
drying green behind the farmhouse.

"I can't throw the thing up so high," complained Tubby, after two or
three attempts.

"Wait!" commanded Wyn.

"Hold on! Wynnie's great mind is at work."

"Everybody sit down and unlace his or her shoes. I want the lacings,"
declared Wynifred.

"Hurray!" exclaimed Ferd. "Wait a bit, Tubby; don't wear your poor
little self to a grease spot trying to throw that rope over the mill."

Tubby, nothing loath, sat down and breathed heavily. The day _was_
hot in spite of the high wind.

Wyn got all the shoe strings and tied them together, with a bolt
fastened to the lower end for a sinker, and let it down to the ground.
There Tubby attached the end of the clothes line and they pulled it up.
It was long enough, and strong enough, and Dave carefully raised the
bucket of water--and oh! how good it tasted to the thirsty prisoners.

They were all provided with cups, for the Academy teachers and the
Denton mothers were rather insistent on that point.

"But, oh, golly!" burst forth Frank, "if they'd only made us always
carry an emergency ration."

"We didn't expect to be cast away on a desert island in this fashion,"
said Dave.

But Wyn had another idea.

"There are melons on the back porch. I saw them there this morning. Go
get us a lot, Tubby. Send 'em up by the bucket-full. And there are
tomatoes in the garden, and some summer apples on that tree by the fence
corner. We'll make it all right with Mrs. Prosser. Why, say! we sha'n't
starve."

"I'll get you some eggs if you want 'em," suggested the willing youth.
"I hear the hens cackling."

But all objected to raw eggs and thought the melons and fresh tomatoes
would suffice.

"You go back to camp and report," ordered Dave, through the window. "The
prof, and Mrs. Havel will be having conniption fits if these girls don't
show up pretty soon. Tell 'em we're all right--but goodness knows we
want the wind to stop blowing."

It did not seem, however, as though the wind had any such intention.
After Tubby Blaisdell departed it blew even stronger.

It was hard to keep the whole party in good temper. The imprisonment was
getting on their nerves. Besides, the sky was growing darker, although
it was not yet mid-afternoon; and not long after the fat youth was out
of sight, heavy drops of rain began to fall.

Rather, the wind whipped the raindrops in at the tower window. Patter,
patter, patter, they fell, faster and faster, and in the distance
thunder rumbled.

The picnicking farmers should be home ahead of this storm; yet, if they
came, they could not stop the sails of the windmill. The shaft groaned
and smoked, but Dave kept the oil cups filled.

Nearer and nearer came the thunder, and the lightning began to flash.
Some of the girls were frightened. Nor was this a pleasant place in
which to be imprisoned during an electrical storm. The tall, revolving
arms seemed just the things to attract the lightning.

They all were glad--boys as well as girls--to retire to the ground floor
of the mill while the elements shrieked overhead and the rain pounded
upon the roof and the sails. It was really a most unpleasant situation.



CHAPTER XXIII

WYN HITS SOMETHING


In the midst of the storm a voice hailed them from outside. Dave went to
the doorway and saw--through the falling rain--Farmer Prosser, standing
by his horses' heads. He had just brought his family home from the
picnic and they had scurried into the house.

"What are you doing in there?" demanded the farmer. "Can't you stop the
sails?"

Dave explained, making it as light for Ferd as possible.

"Well! I've been expecting something like this ever since the mill was
put up. We can't do anything about it now. But I believe the wind will
shift soon. And if it does, perhaps I can stop the sails from outside
here."

It was nearly dark, however, and quite supper-time, before the farmer's
prophecy came true. Then the rain suddenly ceased to fall (the thunder
and lightning had long since rolled away into the distance) and the wind
dropped.

The farmer and his man rigged a brake to fall against the narrow breadth
of shaft which extended outside of the mill wall, and so brought
pressure to bear upon the revolving axle. This helped bring the sails to
a stop.

How thankfully the Go-Aheads and the Busters got out of that tower, it
would be difficult to express. Professor Skillings had started up
through the rain to see what he could do; but on the way he had picked
up a white pebble washed out of the roadside by the rain, and there
being something peculiar about it, he stopped under a hedge to examine
it by the light of his pocket lamp. Then he must needs proceed with his
ever-present geological hammer to break the stone in two. Long after
dark his electric lamp was flashing down there on the hillside like some
huge wavering firefly.

Not that he could have done a thing to help his young friends. Mrs.
Prosser, the farmer's wife, had the most practical idea of anybody; for,
the minute the boys and girls were out of the mill, she insisted that
they troop into the farmhouse kitchen and there sit down to her long
table and "get outside of" great bowls of milk and bread, with a host of
ginger cookies on the side.

So the incident ended happily after all, though Ferdinand Roberts's
spirits drooped for several days. It was well for him to suffer in
spirit--as Frankie said: it might teach him a lesson. And he had to pay
the farmer for the damage he had done to the machinery.

Ferdinand never had any money. He spent his allowance in advance,
borrowing of the other Busters whenever he could. When he got money from
home he had to sit down and apportion it all out to his creditors, and
then had to begin borrowing again.

He had hard work scraping together the wherewithal to pay Mr. Prosser;
but the boys made it up for him, and the girls would have helped--only
Dave Shepard had instilled it into Ferd's mind that it was not honorable
to borrow from a girl.

However, having cleaned his own pocket and strained his credit to the
snapping point, Ferdinand was over at the Forge with Tubby a couple of
days afterward and beheld something in a store window that he thought he
wanted.

"Oh, Tubby!" he cried. "Lend me half a dollar; will you? I must have
that."

Tubby looked at him out of heavy-lidded eyes, and croaked: "Snow again,
brother; I don't get your drift!"

When Ferd went from one to the other of his mates they all refused--if
not quite as slangily as the fat youth, Ferd found himself actually a
pauper, with all lines of credit shut to him. It made him serious.

"If all you fellows, and the old prof., should suddenly die on me up
here--what would I do?" gasped Ferd. "Why--I'd have to walk home!"

"Or swim," said Dave, heartlessly. "You'd pawn your canoe, I s'pose."

Speaking of swimming, that was an art in which several of the boys, as
well as Bessie Lavine and Mina Everett, needed practice. Beside the
early morning dip, both clubs often held swimming matches either at
Green Knoll Camp, or off the boys' camp on Gannet Island.

The boys built a good diving raft and anchored it in deep water after
much hard work. The good swimmers among the girls--especially Wyn and
Grace--liked to paddle over to the raft and dive from it.

Late in the afternoon the Go-Aheads had come to the raft in their canoes
dressed only in their bathing suits, and found that the boys had gone
off on some excursion, and that even Professor Skillings was not in
sight at Cave-in-the-Wood Camp.

"Oh, goody!" exclaimed Bess, with satisfaction. "Now we can have a good
time without those trifling boys bothering us. I'm going to learn to
dive properly, Wyn."

"Sure," returned her friend and captain, encouragingly. "Now's the
time," and she gave Bess a good deal of attention for some few minutes.

The other girls disported themselves in the deep water to their vast
enjoyment. Bessie learned a good bit about diving and finally sat upon
the edge of the float to rest.

Wyn dived overboard.

She had taken a long slant out from the float, but once under the
surface she turned and went deeper. She was like an otter in the water,
and having stuffed her ears with cotton she felt prepared to remain
below a long time.

Once she had opened her eyes while diving with Bess, and she thought she
saw a shadowy something on the bottom of the lake that was neither a
boulder nor a waterlogged snag.

She beat her way to the bottom as rapidly as possible; but the light did
not follow her. She could see nothing when she opened her eyes. It
seemed as though something overshadowed her.

The water was tugging at her; she could not remain below for long. But
as she turned to drift up again, her shoulder touched something. She
struck out and reached it. But the blow really pushed her away and she
floated upward toward the surface.

When she paddled to the raft she was panting, and Frank demanded:

"What's the matter, Wyn? You look as if you'd seen a ghost I believe you
stay down too long."

"No," gasped Wyn. "I--I hit something."

"What was it?"

"Why--why, it looked like a wagon. 'Twas something."

"I suppose so!" laughed Frank. "Wagon with a load of hay on it--eh?"

Wyn said nothing more. She sat upon the float, with her knees drawn up
and hugged in her brown arms, and thought. The other girls could get
nothing out of her.

She wasn't dreaming, however. She was thinking to a serious purpose.

It _had_ looked like a wagon--as much as it looked like anything
else. But, of course, she had seen it very dimly. She knew by the touch
that it was of wood; but it was no waterlogged tree, although there was
slime upon it It was not rough; but smooth.

Of course, it wasn't a wagon. Nor was it a huge box. Neither wagon nor
box could have got out here, fifteen or twenty rods off Gannet Island.

Wyn glanced over toward the island and saw that she could look right
into the cove where John Jarley had met with his accident. According to
the boatman's story, as he went overboard from the motor boat he gave
the wheel a twist that should have shot her directly out of the cove
toward the middle of the lake.

"But suppose the boat didn't respond, after all, to the twist of the
wheel?" Wyn was thinking. "Or, suppose the slant of the rudder was not
as great as he supposed?"

She fixed in her mind about the spot where the thing lay she had hit,
and then glanced back to the tree on the bank of the cove, that showed
the long scar where the branch was torn off.

The line between the two was clear. The motor boat might have run out
exactly on that course and missed the wooded point which guarded the
entrance to the cove.

Suppose the thing she had hit when she dived was the _Bright Eyes_,
Dr. Shelton's lost motor boat?

Wyn was about to shout to the other girls--to call them around her to
divulge the idea that had come into her mind--when a hail from the water
announced the return of the Busters.

She remembered Mr. Lavine's promise. The two clubs were rivals in this
matter. Wouldn't it be a fine thing for the Go-Aheads to own a motor
boat all by themselves!

Wyn got up and dived again. But she did not dive toward the mysterious
something that she had previously found. She swam stoutly instead to
meet the coming Busters.



CHAPTER XXIV

THE NIGHT ALARM


Wyn Mallory had "another mind," as the saying is, before the Go-Aheads
left the island and paddled swiftly for their own camp.

She determined not to say anything to her girl friends of the club about
the sunken object she had hit under the water. Perhaps it was nothing of
any consequence; then they would laugh at her. If it _was_ the lost
motor boat, to tell the girls might spread the story farther than it
ought to be spread at once.

The Go-Aheads and the Busters were rivals. Mr. Lavine had promised the
prize to whichever club found the sunken boat and the box of silver
images that Dr. Shelton had accused John Jarley of stealing.

"And it may not be anything, after all," thought Wyn. "It may be a false
alarm. Then the _boys_ would have the laugh on us."

To make sure of what she had hit when she dived seemed to Wyn to be the
principal thing. And how could she make sure of this without going down
specially to examine the mystery?

"How under the sun am I going to do that without the boys seeing me?"
she mused. "And if I take the girls into my confidence they will all
want to be there, too--and then sure enough the Busters will catch us at
it. Dear me! I don't know what to do--really."

She had half a mind to take Frank into her confidence; but, then, Frank
was such a joker. The girls and boys had often talked about hunting for
the missing motor boat; but since Mr. Lavine had gone back to Denton,
after the regatta, neither club had seriously attempted a search for the
_Bright Eyes_.

Polly had told Wyn how men from Meade's Forge had searched for the boat
when she was first lost; and some of the bateau men had kept up the
search for a long time. Had the motor boat and the silver images been
found, Dr. Shelton might have been obliged to pay a large reward to
obtain them, for not all of the bateau men of the lake were honest.

"Some of them bothered father a good deal while he was first laid up
from his accident, coming by night and trying to get him to give them
details which he hadn't given to the other searchers. They thought he
must know just where the _Bright Eyes_ was sunk," Polly had told
the captain of the Go-Ahead Club. "But they got tired of that after a
while. They saw he really did not know what had become of the boat."

Polly! She was the one to confide in, Wyn decided. And the captain of
the Go-Ahead Club did not decide upon this until after the other girls
in the big tent, and Mrs. Havel, were all asleep. Wyn had been awake an
hour wondering what she would better do.

Now, convinced that the boatman's daughter would be a wiser as well as
safer confidante at this stage than Frank or the others, Wyn wriggled
out of her blanket and seized her bathing suit. It was a beautiful warm
night. She was no more afraid of the woods and lake at this hour than
she was by daylight.

So she slipped into the suit, got out of the tent without rousing any of
the others, selected her own paddle from the heap by the fireplace, and
ran barefooted down to the shore. It took but a minute to push her canoe
into the water.

She paddled away around the rushes at the end of the strip of sand below
the knoll, driving the canoe toward the Jarley Landing. Out of the
rushes came a sudden splashing, and some water-fowl, disturbed by her
passing, spattered deeper into hiding.

Wyn only laughed. The warm, misty night wrapped her around like a cloak;
yet there was sufficient light on the surface of the lake for her to see
her course a few yards ahead.

_This_ was a real adventure--out in her canoe alone in the dark.
And how fast she made the light craft travel through the still water!

She reached the landing in a very short time. Hopping out, she hauled up
the canoe. Was that the water splashing--or was there a sound behind her
on the float? Was it a footstep--somebody hastening away?

Now, for the first time, Wyn felt a little tremor. But she was naturally
too brave to be particularly disturbed by such a fancy. Who would be
lurking about the Jarleys' place at this hour?

So, after a moment, she shook off her doubt, and ran lightly up the
float and along the path to the little cottage. She knew Polly's window
well enough, and dark as it was, she soon found the spot.

It was shuttered, and the shutter was bolted on the inside; but Wyn
scratched upon the blind and after doing so a second time she heard a
movement within.

"Polly!" she breathed.

She did not want to awaken Mr. Jarley. She just felt that she could not
explain to _him_. Of course, what she had hit under the water might
have nothing to do with the sunken boat, and Wyn shrank from disturbing
the boatman himself about it.

"Polly!" she exclaimed, again in a whisper, "it's I--Wyn--Wyn Mallory."

At once she heard her friend's voice in return. The shutter opened.
Polly blinked at Wyn through the darkness.

"My _dear_! What do you want? What has happened?" asked the girl of
the woods.

"Come on out--do, Polly. I've got something to tell you. Just put on
your bathing suit," Wyn whispered.

"For pity's sake! What is it?"

"Don't awaken your father. Come."

"Just a minute," whispered the sleepy Polly, and in not much longer than
the time stated she crept through the window.

"I'd wake father if I went out by the door," she said. "Now come down to
the landing. What are you doing 'way over here at this time o' night?"

"I have the most surprising thing to tell you."

"What about?"

"I wish you'd go over to Gannet Island with me and see if I'm right. The
moon will be up bye and bye; won't it?"

"Yes. But what do you mean? What is the mystery?" inquired Polly. Then
she seized Wyn's arm and demanded that she "Hush!" although Wyn's lips
were not open at the moment.

"I declare I thought I heard something just then," whispered Polly.

"You're bound to hear things in the dark," returned Wyn, cheerfully.

"But it was somebody coughing."

"A bird?" ventured Wyn. "I heard one splashing in the sedges as I came
along in the canoe."

"A bird clearing its throat?" laughed Polly. "Not likely!"

She did not bother about it again, but squeezed Wyn's arm. "Tell me what
the matter is. It must be something very important to bring you 'way
over here alone at night."

"That's right. It is," replied Wyn, and she related to Polly the thing
that was troubling her.

"And, oh, Polly! if that thing I hit under the water should be that
boat----"

"Oh, Wyn! What would father say?"

"He'd be delighted. So would we all. And we must find out for sure."

"I'll tell him in the morning. We'll go there and see----"

But Wyn stopped her. She showed her how necessary it was for the matter
to be looked into secretly. Mr. Lavine had promised to give a motor boat
to whichever club found the sunken _Bright Eyes_ and the silver
images. And the Busters must not know a thing about it until they were
sure----

"Then Mr. Lavine believes father's story about the boat?" burst in
Polly.

"I believe he does, Polly, dear. I think, Polly, that he would be very,
very glad to have Mr. Jarley cleared of all suspicion. He is sorry for
your father's trouble. I think his attitude, toward your father has
changed from what it must have been at one time."

"It ought to be!" exclaimed Polly.

"Of course. But we none of us always do all we ought to do," observed
Wyn mildly.

"If we are going to try and find that place where you dived to-day, Wyn,
we'd better be about it," Polly urged.

"You'll go now?" cried Wyn.

"Of course I will. The boys will be asleep up in their camp. We will
take the _Coquette_. There is a breeze."

"Let's tow my canoe behind, then," said Wyn, eagerly. "Come on! I'm just
crazy to dive for the thing again. If it _is_ the _Bright
Eyes_----"

Polly insisted upon hunting out a couple of old blankets to wrap about
them if the wind should turn chill.

"And after you have been overboard you'll want something to protect you
from the night air," she said.

"Oh, Polly! do you suppose I can find the place again?" cried Wyn,
infinitely more eager than the boatman's daughter.

"You say it's right off the boys' float? Well! we can look, I guess."

"Feel, you mean," laughed Wyn. "For _I_ couldn't see anything down
there even by daylight--it was so deep."

"All right. We'll look with our hands. I shall know if it's a boat, Wyn,
once I reach it."

"And I hope it _is_" gasped Wyn. "Not alone for _your_ sake,
Polly. Why, if it is the _Bright Eyes_, the Go-Aheads will own a
motor boat their very own selves. Won't that be fine?"

But Polly was too busy getting the catboat ready to answer. The
_Coquette_ was moored just a little way off the landing, and the
two girls went out to her in Wyn's canoe.

There was a lantern in her cuddy and Polly lit it. Then they slipped the
buoyed moorings and spread a little canvas. There was quite a breeze,
and it was fair for their course to Gannet Island. Soon the catboat was
laying over a bit, and the foam was streaking away behind them in a
broad wake.

"What a lovely night!" sighed Wyn. "And it will be the very gladdest
night I ever saw if that thing I hit proves to be the _Bright
Eyes_."

Polly had glanced behind them frequently. "Don't you hear anything?" she
asked finally.

"Hear what?"

"Hush! that's somebody getting up a sail. Can't you hear it?"

Wyn listened, and then murmured: "Your ears must be sharper than mine,
Polly. I hear nothing but the slap of the water."

"No. There is another sailboat under weigh. Where can it be from?"

"You don't suppose your father was aroused, and is coming after us?"
asked Wyn.

"Of course not. Beside, the _Coquette_ is the only sailing
boat--except a canoe--that we have at present. The other cat is loaned
for a week. And I heard the hoops creaking on the mast as a heavy sail
went up."

"Some crowd of fishermen?" suggested Wyn.

"But where's their light?"

Wyn stared all around. "You're right," she gasped. "There isn't a single
twinkling lantern--except ashore."

Polly, sitting in the stern seat, reached for their own lantern and
smothered its rays. "We won't show a gleam, either," she muttered.

"Why! who could it possibly be?" cried Wyn. "Do you think somebody may
be following us?"

"I don't know," returned Polly, grimly. "But I thought I heard something
back there at our house. We were talking loud. If those silver images
were worth all Dr. Shelton says they were, there are more than us girls
who would like to find them."

"My goodness me! I didn't think of _that_," observed Wyn Mallory,
with a little shiver. "Do you suppose we really are being followed?"



CHAPTER XXV

THE STRANGE BATEAU


Polly laughed a little. Yet she spoke seriously.

"You needn't be so worried, Wyn. I know most of the men who do business
on the lake. Some of them are mighty fine fellows, and others are just
the opposite; but I'm not afraid of the worst of them."

"If they followed us, and we _did_ find the sunken motor boat,
couldn't they grapple for the box of silver images, and steal them?"
demanded Wyn.

"Not easily. You see, they don't know where the box was stowed. Father
told nobody but me. The _Bright Eyes_ was a good-sized boat, and
they'd have some trouble getting up the box without raising the boat
herself."

"I suppose that's so," admitted Wyn, less anxiously, as the
_Coquette_ carried them swiftly toward Gannet Island. "But these
men you speak of might interfere with us."

"Yes. That's so. But they'd get as good as they sent, I reckon," said
Polly, who didn't seem to have a bit of fear.

Wyn was no coward; she had shown that the time she and Bessie Lavine
were spilled out of their canoes in the middle of the lake. But she had
not lived, like Polly, in the woods with few but rough people for
associates.

Soon they passed Green Knoll Camp, lying peacefully in the light of the
moon that was just then rising above the Forge. Its rays silvered all
the knoll and made the camp a charming spot.

"I hope none of them will wake up and find me gone," remarked Wyn,
chuckling.

Polly gave the tiller and sheet to her friend and stood up to get a
better view of the lake astern of them. At first she saw nothing but the
dim shores and the silvering water. Then, some distance out, Polly
caught sight of a ghostly sail drifting across the path of moonlight.

"A bateau!" she exclaimed. "And--with the wind the way it is--she must
have come right out of our cove, Wynnie."

"Do--do you really think anybody was listening to us when we were
talking there on the landing, Polly?" Wyn asked. "And are they aboard
_that_ bateau?"

"I don't know. But I know I heard something then."

"But that boat isn't following us."

"It may be. We can't tell. They can watch us just as easily as we can
watch them."

But when the _Coquette_ got around to the side of Gannet Island
where the boys' camp was established, the shadow of the high, wooded
ridge was thrown out so far across the lake that the swimming raft and
its neighborhood were in darkness.

The catboat, with her sail dropped and her nose just touching the edge
of the float, was quite hidden by this shadow of the island, which was
all the darker in contrast with the brilliant moonlight lying on the
water farther out.

"I'll carry the kedge to the float," whispered Polly, "and then we'll
pay out the line till the _Coquette_ floats about over the spot
where you think the thing you hit lies."

"Let's get my canoe out of the way, too," urged Wyn. "Oh! I hope the
boys will not wake up."

"What's that light up there?" exclaimed Polly, suddenly.

"That's the spark of their campfire. It's in the rocks, so no harm can
come from it; they don't trouble to cover it when they go to bed."

"Now, Wyn--push the boat off."

They worked the catboat from the float for several yards. "Wait,"
whispered Wyn. "Let's try here."

"Are you going to dive?"

"Yes. It will make some splash; but I don't believe I can reach the
bottom of the lake otherwise, it is so deep here."

"Careful!" cautioned Polly. "You may hurt yourself on whatever is down
there."

"I'll look out," returned Wyn, again filling her ears with cotton. She
slipped off the skirt of her bathing suit, too, so as to have more
freedom. Then she poised herself for a moment on the decked-over part of
the sailboat--a slim, lithe figure in the semi-darkness--and gradually
bent over with her arms outstretched to part the water.

As she dived forward she thought she heard a quick exclamation from
Polly; but Wyn believed it to be an encouraging cry. At least, she gave
it no attention as she clove the water and went down, down, down into
the depths of the lake.

She opened her eyes, but, of course, saw nothing but a great, shadowy
mass below her. Toward this mass she swam eagerly; the lake seemed much
deeper than it had by daylight.

Struggling against the uplift of the water, she beat her way down into
the depths for more than a minute. That was a goodly length of time for
the first submersion. And she did not reach the bottom, nor find any
object like the thing she had struck against some hours before.

It was necessary for her to rise. As she turned over, a luminous spot
appeared over her head, and toward this spot she sprang. With aching
chest she reached the surface, and sprang breast high out of the
water--some yards from the catboat. There was a strong current here.

"Polly!" she gasped.

"Sh!" hissed her comrade's voice, in warning.

Surprised, Wyn obeyed the warning. Causing scarcely a ripple in the
water, she paddled to the boat. There she clung to the rail and
listened. She could not see Polly.

"Dunno where they went to in that cat, Eb," growled a hoarse voice out
of the darkness.

Wyn darted a glance over her shoulder. There, looming gray and ghostly,
was the tall sail they had seen once before. The strange, square-nosed
bateau was drifting by, but at some distance. Evidently the catboat was
well hidden in the shadow of the island.

Suddenly Polly reached over the edge of the boat and seized Wyn's
shoulders. "Don't try to climb in," she whispered. "They'll see or hear
the splash."

"All right," breathed back the captain of the Go-Aheads.

"It's Eb Lornigan and some of his friends. Eb is a disgrace to the lake.
He's been in jail more than once," whispered Polly.

But Wyn's shoulders began to feel cold. The night air, after all, was
not really warm. "I'm going down again," she whispered.

"Did--did you find it?" queried Polly.

"No. But I will," declared the other girl, confidently, and slipped into
the water.

She ventured under the bottom of the catboat and, turning suddenly,
braced her feet against it, and so flung herself down into the depths.

She descended more swiftly with the momentum thus gained, traveling
toward the bottom on a different slant than before. With her hands far
before her she defended her head from collision with any sunken object
there might be down here. And this time she actually did hit something
again.

She turned quickly and grabbed at it with both hands. It seemed like a
sharp, smooth pole sticking almost upright in the water. There was a bit
of rag, or marine plant of some kind, attached to it.

She struggled to pull herself down by the staff, but she had been below
now longer than before. Just what the staff could be she did not imagine
until she had again turned and "kicked" her way upward.

"It's the pennant staff of the sunken boat!" she gasped, as she came to
the surface and could open her mouth once more.

"Hush! what's the matter with you?" demanded Polly, in a low voice,
directly at hand.

"Oh! have they gone?"

"The bateau is out of hearing distance. But you _do_ splash like a
porpoise."

"Nonsense! Let me climb up."

Polly gave her some help and in a few moments Wyn lay panting in the
tiny cockpit of the boat.

"Did--did you find anything?" queried Polly, anxiously.

Wyn told her what she believed she had found underneath the water, and
the position of the staff. "It must be lying bow on to us here," she
said.

"Oh! do you suppose it really _is_ the _Bright Eyes_?"

"It's something," replied Wyn, confidently, pulling one of the blankets
around her.

"I'm going down myself," declared Polly, sharply.

"All right. Maybe you can find more of the boat. It's there."

Polly sprang up into the bow of the catboat, poised herself for a moment
and then dived overboard. She could outswim and outdive any of the
Go-Ahead girls--and why not? She was in, or on, the lake from early
spring until late autumn.

Polly was under the surface no longer than Wyn; but when she came up she
struck out for the _Coquette_ and scrambled immediately into the
boat.

"What is it? Am I right? Is it a boat?" cried the anxious Wynnie.

"Yes! It's there. Oh, Wynifred Mallory! My father is going to be so
relieved! It's--it's just heavenly! How can we ever thank you?"

Wyn was crying softly. "I'm so delighted, dear Polly. It--it is
_sure_ the _Bright Eyes_?"

"It is a motor boat. I went right down to the deck, and scrambled around
it. There are surely not _two_ motor boats sunk in Lake Honotonka,"
declared Polly.

"Hush, then!" urged Wyn. "We'll keep still about it. It is my find and
I'll telegraph to Mr. Lavine as quick as I can. The Go-Ahead girls are
going to own a motor boat! Won't that be fine?"

"Say nothing to any of the others. I'll tell father," said Polly,
beginning to haul in on the kedge line. "And he'll know what to do about
raising the launch. He'll have to go to the Forge----"

"Then he can send the message to Mr. Lavine for me. Tell him the girls
have found the sunken boat, and sign my name to it. That will bring
Bessie's father up here in a hurry."

The girls got their anchor and the canoe, and put up the sail again. As
the _Coquette_ shot away from the boys' swimming float, the ghostly
sail of the strange bateau again crossed the path of moonlight at the
other end of the island.

"I'd feel better," muttered Polly, "if those, fellows were not hanging
about so close."



CHAPTER XXVI

THE BOYS TO THE RESCUE


Wyn got into her canoe in sight of Green Knoll Camp, and leaving Polly
to work the _Coquette_ home alone, paddled to the shore, drew out
the canoe and turned it over on the beach with the six other canoes
belonging to the camp, and so stole up the hill and prepared for bed
again.

Nobody seemed to have missed her, although it was now two hours after
midnight. The captain of the girls' club felt a glow of satisfaction at
her heart as she composed herself for sleep. She believed she was going
to have a great and happy surprise for the girls of the Go-Ahead Club;
and in addition the Jarleys would be relieved of the cloud of suspicion
that had hung over Mr. Jarley ever since Dr. Shelton's motor boat was
lost.

Wyn slept so late that all the other girls were up and had run down for
their morning dip ere Mrs. Havel shook her.

"You must have had your bath very early, Wynnie," said that lady. "Here
is your bathing suit all wet."

"Yes, ma'am," responded Wyn, sleepily.

"Now, rouse up. The whole camp is astir," said Mrs. Havel, and Wyn was
fully dressed when the other girls came back. There were not too many
questions asked, so her secret remained safe.

She became considerably disturbed, however, when the hours of the
forenoon passed and she neither heard from nor saw anything of the
Jarleys.

Once a big bateau went drifting by and disappeared behind Gannet Island,
under a lazy sail and with two men at the long sweeps, or oars. When it
was lost to view Wyn was troubled by the thought that it might be the
same mysterious craft that had followed the catboat the night before.
Had it anchored off the boys' camp now?

So, to calm her own mind, she suggested that they all paddle over to
Cave-in-the-Wood Camp and take their luncheon with them.

"Goodness me, Wynifred!" exclaimed Bess, the boy-despiser, "can't you
keep away from those boys for a single day?"

"I notice we usually have a good time when the boys are around,"
returned Wyn, cheerfully.

"Oh, they're quite a 'necessary evil,'" drawled Frank. "But I feel
myself like Johnny Bloom's aunt when we get rid of the Busters for a
time."

"What about Johnny's aunt?" queried Mina.

"Why, do you know that Johnny belongs to the Scouts and one law of the
Scouts is that they shall each do something for somebody each day to
make the said somebody happy."

"Rather involved in your English, Miss, but we understand you," said
Grace.

"So far," agreed Percy Havel. "But where do Johnny Bloom and his aunt
come in?"

"Why, any day he can't think of any other kindness to render his
friends," chuckled Frankie, "he goes to see his aunt. She is so glad
when he goes home again--she detests boys--that Johnny feels all the
thrill of having performed a good deed."

"Now, Frank!" laughed Wyn, "you know it isn't as bad as all
_that_."

"Yes, it is," chuckled Frankie. "You don't know Johnny Bloom as well as
his neighbors do. He lives on my street."

"Humph! most boys are just as bad," declared Bess. "Just the same, if
Wyn says 'Gannet Island' I reckon we'll all have to go."

"And we'll have some fun diving," Grace Hedges declared. "I wish we had
a diving float over here."

Mrs. Havel preferred to remain at the camp and the six girls were a very
hilarious party as they set forth in their canoes and fresh bathing
suits for the island.

By this time every member of the Go-Ahead Club was as brown as a berry,
inured to exposure in the sun, and enjoying the outdoor life of woods
and lake to the full.

Mina's timidity had worn off, Percy was not so "finicky" in her tastes,
Bessie was more careful of other people's feelings, Grace really seemed
almost cured of laziness, Frank was by no means so hoydenish as she once
was, and as for Wynifred, she was just as hearty and happy as it seemed
a girl could be. Their independent, busy life on Green Knoll was doing
them all a world of good.

As the little squadron of canoes drew near to the easterly end of the
Island the girls were suddenly excited by a great disturbance in the
bushes on the hill above them. This end of the island was exceedingly
steep and rocky.

"Oh, what's that?" cried Mina, as some object flashed into view for a
moment and then disappeared.

"It's one of the goats," squealed Frankie.

Gannet Island was grazed by a good-sized herd of goats, but they
remained mostly at this end and kept away from the boys' camp at the
other. The girls had seldom seen any of the herd, although they had
heard the kids bleating now and then, and the boys had described the old
rams and how ugly they were.

Here, right above them, was going on a striking domestic wrangle, for in
a moment they saw that two of the rams were having a set-to among the
bushes on the side-hill, while several mild-eyed Nannies and their
progeny looked on.

The rams would back away a little in the brush and then charge each
other. When their hard horns collided, they rang like steel, and several
times the antagonists were both overborne by the shock and rolled upon
the ground.

"What a place for a fight!" exclaimed Frank. "What do you know about
_that_, girls?"

"It's a shame," quavered Mina. "Somebody ought to separate them."

"Sure! I vote that you go right up and do so, Miss Everett," said Grace,
briskly.

However, Frank's criticism of the judgment of the combating goats was
correct. It was no place for a fair fight. One of the animals happened
to get "up hill" and at the next charge the lower goat was lifted
completely off its feet and came tumbling down the steep descent with
the speed of an avalanche.

The girls screamed, the other goats bleated--while the conquering Billie
took a commanding position on a rock and gazed down upon his falling
enemy. The latter could not stop. Twice he tried to scramble to his
sharp little hoofs, but could not accomplish the feat. So, then, quite
helpless, he fell the entire distance and came finally, with a mighty
splash, into the deep water under the bank.

"Oh! the poor creature will be drowned!" cried Wyn, in great distress at
this catastrophe, although some of the other girls were inclined to
laugh, for the goat _did_ look more than a little comical.

He had been battered a good deal and had received a wound upon one side
of his face that did not improve his looks at all. And while he had been
so lively and pugnacious up on the hillside, now he splashed about in
the lake quite helplessly.

The shore of the island just here was altogether too abrupt to afford
the unlucky goat any foot-hold. And the goat is not naturally an aquatic
animal.

"Come on!" urged Bessie. "Let's leave him. We can't do any good here."

"Of course we can help him," cried Wyn. "Grab him by the other horn,
Frank!"

She had driven her own canoe to the far side of the goat and now seized
the beast's horn. He could not fight in the water and Wyn and Frank
slowly guided him along the shore until they reached a sloping piece of
beach where he could, at least, get a footing. But he lay down, half in
and half out of the water, seemingly exhausted.

"He can never climb that bank," declared Mina.

"We'll boost him up, then," said Frank, with confidence. "Having set out
to be twin Good Samaritans, we'll finish the job properly; eh, Wyn?"

Her friend agreed, laughing, and both girls sprang ashore. They didn't
mind getting a little wet, considering how they were dressed.

The goat bleated forlornly as they seized upon him; he was quite all the
two girls could lift, and they actually had to drag him up the steeper
part of the hill by his legs.

Their friends below chaffed them a good deal, for it was a ridiculous
sight. Soon, however, Wyn and Frank got their awkward burden to the
mouth of an easily sloping gully, that led toward the interior of the
island. As soon as he could, the animal scrambled upon his feet.

Once firmly set, however, this ungrateful goat's temper changed most
surprisingly. Or he may have felt that his dignity had been ruffled by
the treatment he had received at the hands of his rescuers.

So he began stamping his little sharp hoofs and lowered his head,
shaking the latter threateningly.

"What did I tell you?" called Bess, from below. "Next you two sillies
know he'll butt you."

"Oh, come along, Wyn!" gasped Frankie. "Plague the goat, anyway!" as she
dodged the enraged animal's first charge.

The goat was headed up the gully, away from the shore, or he might have
gone head first into the lake again. As the girls escaped him, Wyn,
laughing immoderately, looked back. A big beech tree cropped out of the
bank not far away, and under this tree she descried a figure lying.

"Oh, Frank!" she cried.

Her friend turned and saw the figure, too.

"Oh, Wyn!"

Their ejaculations seemed to have attracted Mr. William Goat's attention
to the same reclining figure. Outstretched upon the sward, with a large
handkerchief over his face as a protection from gnats and other insects,
and with his fat fingers interlaced across what Dave Shepard wickedly
termed his chum's "bow-window," lay the quite unconscious Tubby
Blaisdell.

"Tubby!" shrieked the girls in chorus.

The fat boy sat up as though a spring had been released. The
handkerchief was still over his face, and he grunted blindly.

It was a challenge to Mr. Goat. He charged. Amid the screams of the
girls the goat hurtled through the air, all four feet gathered beneath
him, and landed head-and-horns in the middle of poor Tubby's waistcoat!

It wasn't a very big goat. 'Twas lucky for Master Blaisdell that this
was so. Tubby went back with an awful grunt, heels in the air, and the
goat turned a complete somersault. But the latter scrambled to his feet
a whole lot quicker than did Tubby.

"Run--run, Tubby!" shrieked Frank.

"Look out for him, Ralph!" cried Wyn.

Back the goat came. This time he took Master Blaisdell from the rear and
butted him so hard that he actually seemed to lift the fat boy to his
feet.

The youth had scratched the handkerchief from his face, and now could
see the enemy. Tubby had emitted nothing but a series of excruciating
grunts; but now, when he saw the goat making ready for another charge,
he met the animal with a yell, leaping into the air with his legs
a-straddle, so that the Billie ran between them, and then Tubby footed
it up the gully as fast as he could travel.

The goat, headed down hill again, saw his old enemies, the two girls,
and made as though to attack them. Wyn and Frank, almost dead with
laughter, managed to roll down the bank and so get out of the erratic
goat's sight. The other girls had only heard the noise of the conflict,
and did not understand; nor could Wyn and Frankie explain when they
first scrambled into their canoes.

"Poor Tubby! Poor Tubby!" was all Wyn could say. "Let's paddle around to
the boys' camp. He's run for home."

"It was a home run, all right!" gasped Frank.

But three minutes later, when the canoes got into the cove where Polly's
father had met with his accident in the _Bright Eyes_, Wyn suddenly
found something more serious than Tubby Blaisdell's experience to worry
about. There was the big bateau, its sail furled, almost over the spot
where Wyn and Polly were sure the lost motor boat lay!

"Oh, dear me!" cried Bess. "Now we can't have any fun on the raft. Those
men will be in our way. What do you suppose they are poking around there
in the water with those poles for?"

Wyn began to paddle fast. She shot ahead of the other girls and aimed
directly for the bit of beach on which the boys' canoes were drawn.

The noise and laughter up at the camp assured her that Tubby had arrived
and that all the Busters were at home. Wyn had made up her mind quickly
that, if she must, she would rather take the boys into her confidence
about the sunken boat than let those bateau men find it.

"Boys! Dave!" she hailed them from the water.

Young Shepard appeared at once and, seeing Wyn, ran down to the shore.

"Will you help us?" gasped Wyn. "Quick! get the boys! Move your diving
float where I tell you; those men will find it first, if you don't."

"Find what?" demanded Dave. "Are you sensible, Wynnie?"

The explanation tumbled out of Wyn Mallory's lips then in rather a
jumbled fashion; but Dave understood. He turned and gave the view-halloa
for his mates. They all tumbled down the bank save Tubby.

"Get a move on, fellows," commanded the leader of the Busters. "We've
got to move that raft. Wyn will tell us where. And later we'll tell you
_why_. But the word is now: Look sharp!"



CHAPTER XXVII

IS IT THE "BRIGHT EYES"?


With a whirl and clash of paddles the little flotilla of canoes shot out
to the diving float. The bateau was only a few yards away. The two
rough-looking men in her were sounding the lake bottom, with long poles;
but as yet they had not got around to the right spot.

Wyn breathlessly told the boys to move the raft to the place to which
she paddled. The other girls were excitedly asking questions but neither
Wyn nor Dave answered.

The captain of the Go-Aheads thought that if the raft could be held
stationary--anchored in some way--directly over the sunken boat, the
prize would be safe until Mr. Jarley, or somebody else in authority,
came to claim the _Bright Eyes_. Of course, providing this sunken
boat was she.

Polly had seemed so positive, and so eager to get her father started
after the motor boat he had lost, that Wyn could not understand why the
Jarleys were not already on the spot.

"Hey, there! what are you boys doing?" demanded one of the bateau men,
hailing Dave and his friends on the raft.

"Moving our float," replied the captain of the Busters, promptly.

"Well, don't you git in our way," said the man, crossly.

"Hel-_lo_!" exclaimed the saucy Ferd Roberts. "I've always wondered
who owned Lake Honotonka, and now I know."

"You'll know a whole lot more if you don't look out, Young Fresh,"
growled the other boatman.

"I shouldn't wonder," laughed Ferd. "But I'm not going to school to
_you_, Mister."

"Do be quiet, Ferd," advised Dave. "Now, Wynnie! What do you say to
this?"

Meantime the boys had raised the two big stones that served the raft as
anchors, and had poled the float near to Wyn's canoe.

"Oh! a little farther, Dave, please," cried the anxious girl.

"Say! I wanter know what you young ones are up to?" repeated the first
boatman.

"Can't you see?" returned Dave. "We're shifting our raft."

"What for?"

"Cat's fur! To make kittens' breeches of, 'cause we couldn't get dog
fur--_now_ do you know?" snapped Ferd.

"Shut up, Ferd!" commanded Dave, again.

"He'd better shut up," growled the man, "or something'll happen to
him--the young shrimp!"

"Oh, dear me, Wyn!" cried Bessie Lavine; "let's go back to camp."

"You'd all better scatter--both gels and boys," said the boatman,
threateningly. "We're busy here an' we don't want to be bothered by
shrimps."

"I guess we'll stay a while longer, Mister," Dave said, boldly.

"We were here first," cried the irrepressible Ferd.

"You youngsters air in our way. Get out," commanded the Boatman.

He was working the bateau nearer to the raft, using one of the long
sweeps for that purpose.

"Heave over the anchors again, fellows," said Dave, quietly. "Then stand
by with your paddles to repel boarders. We mustn't let 'em have the
raft, or move it."

"Oh, Wyn!" begged Mina Everett, "let's go away."

The girls had all paddled near Wyn Mallory. Now they clustered about her
in plain anxiety. The boys had climbed upon the raft and all five were
plainly intending to offer resistance to the ugly boatmen.

"Now, girls," begged the captain of the Go-Aheads, firmly, "let us show
_some_ courage, at least. The boys are willing to fight our
battle----"

"_Our_ battle?" gasped Bessie. "What do you mean?"

In a whisper Wyn explained to the wondering and frightened girls what it
was all about.

"Polly and I believe the lost motor boat lies right beneath us here. We
must keep those men off, for they are hunting for the sunken boat, too,"
concluded Wynnie.

"My goodness! how exciting!" cried Grace Hedges.

"And we'll actually win the prize your father offered us, Bess!" gasped
Percy Havel.

"I don't see that _we_ have had much to do with it," said Frank.
"Wyn made the discovery."

"What is for one is for all," declared Wynnie. "But we won't win Mr.
Lavine's prize unless the boat is raised and the silver images are
delivered to Dr. Shelton. If those men get hold of the boat----"

Suddenly one of the boatmen--a long-legged fellow with a cast in one eye
and lantern jaws sparsely covered with sandy whisker--came forward to
the bow of the bateau and poised himself for a leap to the diving float.

"Keep off!" Dave warned him, swinging his paddle over his head. "You
jump over here and you'll catch this where Kellup caught the hen--right
in the neck! You let us alone and we'll let you alone."

The boatman told him, in no very choice language, what he would do to
Dave when he caught him; but the captain of the Busters did not appear
to be much shaken.

"Hold, on, Eb!" yelled the other boatman. "I'll run that raft down and
spill 'em all off."

"You try it and you'll likely smash your boat," shouted Dave. "I warn
you."

Mina Everett began to cry softly, for the suggestion of a pitched battle
between the boys and the boatmen frightened her dreadfully. Bess began
to grow excited.

"Aren't those men just _mean_? I wish I had something to hit them
with--I do! I believe I'll get out on the raft with _my_ paddle."

"That wouldn't be a bad idea," said Grace. "I think the boys are as nice
to us as they can be."

Suddenly, while the attention of all the others was held by the exciting
situation on the raft, Frank Cameron cried out:

"Who's this coming? Oh, girls! isn't that Polly? Look, Wyn!"

Wyn almost overturned her canoe in her eagerness to back out of the
group and whirl her canoe about that she might see. Down upon the scene
was bearing one of the larger power boats from the other end of the
lake.

"It's Dr. Shelton's _Sunshine Boy_!" cried Percy Havel.

"And that _is_ Polly Jolly in the bow," exclaimed Wyn. "Hurrah!"

She drove her paddle into the water and sent her canoe driving for the
approaching motor boat.

"Polly! Polly!" she called, long before the boatman's daughter could
hear her.

But Polly recognized her just the same, and waved her hand; there was a
gentleman pacing the deck, too, who came to lean on the rail and look at
the flying canoe. Wyn next saw Mr. Jarley, in his working clothes, put
his head out of the cabin that housed the motor.

"It's Dr. Shelton," Wyn thought. "Then he and Mr. Jarley have made it
up. I'm so glad!"

But the motor boat was coming fast and Wyn drove her canoe as though she
were racing. Swerving the craft quickly, the girl brought it very nicely
into a berth beside the motor boat. Polly leaned down and steadied the
canoe with the boat hook, and her friend hopped aboard. Then together
they hoisted over the rail the almost swamped canoe.

"What's all this? What's all this?" demanded Dr. Shelton. "You girls are
regular acrobats. Hullo! This is the young miss who won the canoe race
and the swimming match for girls, the other day. Am I right?"

"Yes, sir," said Polly, presenting Wyn proudly. "This is Miss Wynifred
Mallory, my very dear friend."

"The girl who thinks she has found our old motor boat--eh?" asked the
burly doctor.

"I am sure she has found it, sir," declared Polly. "And what are Eb and
his chum, Billy Smith, trying to do there at the raft, Wyn?"

"They suspect something; but the boys have got the float right over the
sunken boat and have promised to hold the bateau men off----"

Just then Dr. Shelton turned quickly, picked up a megaphone and bawled
through it to the bateau men, one of whom had leaped aboard the boys,
raft.

"Hey, you! Get off that raft and keep off it, or I'll put you both in
jail at the Forge. Understand me?"

It was evident that the boatmen _did_ understand the doctor, for
the trespasser aboard the raft leaped back into the bateau without a
blow being struck, although the boys were ready for him. The big sail of
the craft was immediately raised and she had borne off to some distance
when the _Sunshine Boy_ was allowed to drift in close to the float.

"Now, boys," said Dr. Shelton, genially, "I understand you have found my
old _Bright Eyes_ under water here and have been guarding it from
all comers. Is that right?"

"No, Doctor," returned Dave. "We fellows have had mighty little to do
with it. It's the girls----"

"It's Wyn!" cried Frank, "and nobody else."

"Wyn did it all," agreed Bess.

"But those men, poking around here, might have found it and laid claim
to it, sir, if the boys had not come to the rescue," declared the
captain of the Go-Aheads, warmly.

"You seem to be a Mutual Admiration Society," laughed the doctor.
"However, if the boat is here and that express box intact, as Jarley
says, I certainly owe somebody something handsome for finding it."

"Oh, no, sir!" murmured Wyn, quickly, standing by his side. "You owe me
nothing. Mr. Lavine has promised our club a present, and Polly and her
father are going to be made very happy if it turns out all right.
_That_ is reward enough for us."

"Humph! you feel that way about it; do you, Miss Mallory?" queried the
doctor. "Just the same, if the _Bright Eyes_ really is sunk here I
must show my gratitude to somebody."

"Then do something for Polly," Wyn whispered. "Give her a chance to go
to school--to Denton Academy with the rest of us girls. That would be
fine! She wouldn't let Mr. Lavine do that for her; but I know she'll
accept it from you, when her father has proved himself clear of
suspicion."

"Ha! John Jarley is a better man than I am," grunted Dr. Shelton. "I had
no business to talk to him the way I did regatta day. I'm free to admit
I was wrong, whether we recover the _Bright Eyes_ and the silver
images, or not!"

And the question, Is it the _Bright Eyes_? was the principal
subject of discussion among them all. The boys were just as eager as
were the girls over the affair.

"If the sunken boat is all right--and the images," said Dave Shepard,
"you girls will be lucky enough to sail a motor boat of your own."

"And we'd never own it if you boys hadn't come forward as you did,"
declared Wyn. "Isn't that so, Bess?"

Bess had to admit the fact, much as she disliked praising boys.

"Oh, we'll let you boys sail in our new boat once in a while," she said.

"Goodness me! I should say yes!" exclaimed Frank, suddenly. "For we've
got to have somebody teach us how to run a motor boat; haven't we?"



CHAPTER XXVIII

A FRIEND IN NEED


It was early on the next day that Bessie received a message from her
father for the whole club:

    "Look for me in a few hours. Shall run up to see what Wyn has
    done as soon as I can get away. If it is all right, you shall
    have new boat this season.--Henry Lavine."

A man brought it over from the Forge. The girls were delighted with the
news. A guard had been set over the spot where the sunken boat lay and
Dr. Shelton and Mr. Jarley were making arrangements to have a derrick
barge towed up to Gannet Island, so that the old _Bright Eyes_
could be brought to the surface quickly.

Naturally the Busters were too much interested in these proceedings to
come over to Green Knoll Camp; and the girls had had so much excitement
and exercise of late that they were inclined to take matters quietly for
the time being.

Therefore, there was not a canoe on the lake when a fussy, smoky little
motor boat, late in the afternoon, came into the lake from the
Wintinooski and puffed out into deep water, evidently bound for either
the Island or Green Knoll Camp.

The deep cove, at the head of which the little red and yellow cottage of
the Jarleys was set, was like a big bay in the contour of the lake
shore. It was out here in this deep water that Wyn Mallory and Bess
Lavine had been swamped by the squall. From the docks at the Forge to
the point east of Green Knoll, where the girls' camp was situated, was
all of eight miles. When this little motor boat had sputtered along
until she was about half way between those two points, she suddenly
stopped.

The girls had been lazily on the lookout for Mr. Lavine's appearance and
earlier in the day had kept the camp spyglass busy. Now Frank suddenly
caught it up again and focused it almost at once on the stalled motor
boat.

"Oh! what's that?" was her excited demand. "Girls! there's a boat we
missed before."

"Where?" drawled Grace, lazily.

"It isn't father; is it?" demanded Bess.

"How do I know? It's a power boat----Goodness, what's that?"

She jumped so that Wyn came to her side quickly. "Let me see, Frank,"
she begged.

"There's--there's a fire!" gasped Frankie.

The girls came running at her cry. Even Mrs. Havel left her seat and
stepped out of the shade of the beech tree to scan the water under her
hand.

"I see smoke!" cried Percy.

"Dear me! is the boat really afire?" demanded Mina Everett.

"Of course, it can't be father," declared Bess. "He knows how to take
care of a motor boat."

Through the glass Wyn, who now had it, saw the flames leaping from under
the hood of the boat, while a dense plume of smoke began to reel away on
the breeze that was blowing.

"It is afire!" she gasped "Oh! it _is_! What can we do?"

"We could never reach it in our canoes before the boat burns to the
water's edge," cried Frankie.

They could see two figures on the doomed boat. Through the glass Wyn
could see them so plainly that she knew one to be a waterman, while the
other was much better dressed. Indeed, she feared that she recognized
the figure of this second man.

"Let me have the glass, Wyn," said Bessie, eagerly.

But Wyn, for once, was disobliging. "You can't see anything--much," she
said. "Come on, Bess! let's try and paddle out to them."

"And have them swamp our canoes if they tried to climb in," said Miss
Lavine. "No, thanks!"

"Come on!" cried Frank, joining in. "We ought to try and help."

"What's the use?" drawled Bessie, walking away. "And you're mean not to
let me have the glass, Wyn."

"Oh, come on and take it!" gasped Wyn.

"Don't want it now," snapped Bess, who took offense rather easily at
times. "You can keep the old thing."

Wyn sighed with relief. Then she whirled quickly and ran down to the
beach, with Frank right at her heels. They were the only two girls who
launched their canoes. Wyn had brought the glass with her.

"Now I _know_ Bess won't see him," she exclaimed, almost in a
whisper.

"What's that?" demanded Frankie, who overheard. "What do you mean, Wyn?"

"I believe that is Mr. Lavine out there," said the captain of the
Go-Aheads. "Oh, Frank! paddle hard!"

And it _was_ Mr. Lavine. He had hired this little gasoline boat,
with its owner to run it, at Denton, and had paid the owner an extra
five-dollar bill to force the boat to its very highest speed (and that
wasn't much) all the way up the Wintinooski. Mr. Lavine was in a hurry;
he was in too much of a hurry, as it proved.

Somewhere off Meade's Forge he began to smell the gasoline all too
strongly. There was a leak somewhere; but the boat kept on.

Finally even the reckless driver grew frightened and shut off the spark.

"There's a leak, boss," he drawled. "Sure as aigs is aigs!"

Mr. Lavine tore up one of the boards under his feet in the cockpit. A
man with half an eye could have seen the scum of gasoline on the bilge
in the cockpit.

"Leak!" he exclaimed, wrathfully. "I should say you had been using the
boat's bottom for a gasoline tank. Why! we might have been blown up a
dozen times."

"I expect the leak's in the feed pipe," confessed the boatman. "But I
thought I'd got her fixed las' week."

"You've got _us_ fixed," snapped Mr. Lavine. "'Way out here in the
middle of Lake Honotonka, too--and I in a hurry."

"Wal," said the man, "I'll putty up the leak and you see if you kin swab
out the boat. I wouldn't dare try and ignite her again with so much
gasoline around."

"I--should--say--not!" gasped the gentleman, and removed his coat,
rolled up his sleeves and his trousers, and set to work.

They both labored like beavers for half an hour and then the boatman did
the very silliest thing one can imagine. He had worked hard and, being a
man addicted to tobacco, he felt the need of a smoke.

He pulled out his pipe, filled it, unnoticed by Mr. Lavine, who was
still trying to swab out the last of the bilge and gasoline, and
scratched a match. He was directly in front of the hood of the boat when
he did it. The next moment there was a flash, a roar, and the man was
flung the length of the boat, against Mr. Lavine in the stern, and the
two almost went overboard.

The foolish smoker lost his mustache, eyebrows, and lashes, and a lot of
his front hair. He was scorched quite severely, too; but the peril which
menaced them with the front of the boat in flames drove the thought of
his burns from the fellow's mind.

"And I can't swim a stroke, boss!" he cried.

"You have nothing on me there," declared Mr. Lavine. "I have never been
able to master more than the first few motions in the art of swimming."

But the flames were springing higher and they had nothing with which to
throw water on the fire. The man had not even a bailing tin in his
moribund old craft. Mr. Lavine had been using a swab and was covered
with grease and dirty water.

This became a small thing, however--and that within a very few minutes.
The boat was doomed and both knew it.

Mr. Lavine tried to tear up more of the grating under foot so as to make
something that would float and upon which they might bear themselves up
in the water. But the boards were too thin.

Then he tried to unship the rudder (the singed boatman was no use at all
in this emergency) and so make use of that as a float. But the bolts
were rusted and the boat had begun to swing around so that the fire blew
right into the stern.

They both had to leap overboard.

It was a serious situation indeed. By Mr. Lavine's advice they paddled
toward the bow, one on either side of the boat, for the flames were
rushing aft.

The bow was a mere shell, however. The flames had already almost
consumed it, and soon the fire fairly ate through the bows at the water
level. The water rushed in and so sank the boat by the head.

Not that the boat went straight down. The stern rose in the water and
the two men, in their desperate strait, gazed at the flames above their
heads.

Had it been night the fire would have been like a great torch in the
middle of the lake--and it would have brought help from all directions.
As it was, the black smoke first thrown off, and then the steam,
attracted more than the girls of Green Knoll Camp to the scene.

At the landing Mr. Jarley was splicing some heavy rope which he expected
to use the next day when the sunken _Bright Eyes_ would be actually
raised. Polly saw the smoke first from the cottage and ran out to tell
him.

"One of those motor boats is afire, Father!" she cried. Instantly the
boatman set about going to the rescue. It was a fair day, but there was
a good breeze blowing. Jarley took the _Coquette_.

He had no idea to whom he was playing the friend in need when he sailed
the catboat down upon the scene of the disaster. It was a chance to help
two fellow beings and the boatman cared not who they were.

Of course the sailing craft beat out the two frantically paddling girls
from Green Knoll Camp. Yet it was still a long way from the spot when
the last of the burning boat seemed to sink completely and the flames
were snuffed out by the waters of the lake.



CHAPTER XXIX

THE SUNKEN TREASURE


Wyn and Frank were in despair when they saw the last of the flames wink
out and the balloon of smoke sail away upon the breeze. They were too
far away to be able to see the men struggling in the water--if they were
still there.

"Oh! suppose Mr. Jarley doesn't reach them in time?" cried the captain
of the girls' club.

"He must! he must!" groaned Frank, beating the water as hard as she
could with her paddle.

"You'll have your canoe over!" exclaimed Wyn. "Look out, Frank!"

"I don't care! I don't care!" repeated the good-hearted Frances. "Oh,
dear me! Suppose Mr. Lavine should be drowned? What would Bessie do? And
they so much to each other!"

The girls saw the catboat round to suddenly, and Mr. Jarley drop the
sail. The _Coquette_ seemed to drive straight across the spot where
the burned motor boat had gone down.

They saw the boatman bend over the rail once--and then again. Each time
he lifted in--or helped lift in--some object; but whether it was the men
he picked up, or some of the floating wreckage, the girls could not see.

They drove their canoes on, however, and Mr. Jarley saw them when he
brought the catboat about. So he sailed down to pick them up likewise.

"Did you get them? Did you get them?" shouted Wyn, resting on her
paddle.

Frankie was crying--and she was not a "weepy" girl as a general thing.
But the peril seemed so terrible that she could not control herself for
the moment.

Mr. Jarley--whose figure was all the girls could see in the
catboat--leaned over and waved his hand to the girls. Was it meant to be
reassuring? They did not know until the _Coquette_ tacked so as to
run down very close to them.

"Is that his girl with you, Miss Mallory?" demanded Polly's father.

"No. She did not come. She doesn't know," cried Wyn. "Oh, Mr. Jarley! is
he all right?"

At that Mr. Lavine's head and shoulders appeared above the rail.

"We're alive, girls," he called, hoarsely. "This brave fellow caught us
just in time. Where's Bess?"

"She doesn't even know it was you in the burning boat," cried Wyn. "But
Frank and I started out for you."

"You'd been awfully wet before ever we could have reached you, though,
Mr. Lavine," choked Frank, quickly turning from tears to laughter, as
was her nature.

Mr. Jarley had dropped the sail again, and beckoned the girls to
approach.

"Come aboard," he said, gravely, "and I'll tow your canoes behind us.
Shall I take this gentleman to your camp, Miss Mallory?"

But Wyn was thinking to good purpose. She saw that Mr. Jarley, like his
daughter, wished to have nothing to do with the Lavines. She knew that
now Mr. Lavine would be doubly grateful to the boatman and that the time
was ripe for the old friends to come to a better understanding.

"Why, Mr. Jarley," she said, "we haven't a thing at the camp he can put
on--or the other man. No, sir. I don't know what we should do with them
there."

Jarley's face flushed and he glanced back at the Forge. But it was near
sunset already, and the Forge was much farther away than his own
landing. The case was obvious.

"Well," he said, "I can take them home. Polly will find something for
them to put on while their clothing is being dried. Yes! that may be
best."

"And you take us girls right along with you and we'll paddle home from
the landing," declared Wyn.

Wyn wanted to see Polly. After all, she believed, it lay with the
boatman's daughter to make friends between the Jarleys and the Lavines.
The captain of the Go-Ahead Club felt as though her long and exciting
vacation under canvas would come to a very happy conclusion if she could
see the two men who had once been such close friends, reunited.

Wyn was the first one ashore when the bow of the catboat touched the
landing. Polly came running from the cottage, for she had spied their
approach.

"Oh, Wynnie!" she cried, "what was it? Did father get them safely?"

"He saved them both--the most wonderful thing, Polly Jolly!" cried Wyn.

"Not so wonderful," corrected Polly, with pride. "My father has saved
the lives of people from the lake before."

"But it _is_ wonderful," quoth Wyn, "because one of the men saved
is Bessie's father."

"Mr. Lavine!" gasped Polly.

"Yes. Now he owes his life to your father, just as Bess owes hers to
you."

"Don't talk so, Wyn," begged Polly. "It's nothing."

"Nothing! It's everything! Don't stand in the way of your father and
Bessie's being good friends again."

"Why, Wynnie!" gasped Polly, with a deeper color in her cheek.

"Don't you dare to act 'offish,'" warned Wyn. "The Lavines feel very
kindly toward you--you know it. And now I am sure Mr. Lavine will feel
more than kindly toward your father. Bring them together, Polly."

"You talk as though _I_ could do anything," responded the boatman's
girl.

"You can. You can do everything! Show your father that you feel kindly
toward Mr. Lavine. That will break down _his_ coldness quicker than
anything," declared the inspired young peacemaker.

Wet and bedraggled, Mr. Lavine and his companion stepped ashore.

"Hi, Polly!" shouted her father. "Take Mr. Lavine up to the house and
see if he can wear some of my things while his clothes are drying. I can
find something at the shed here, for Bill."

Polly hesitated just a moment. The eager Wyn gave her a little push from
behind. The boatman's girl ran forward to greet Mr. Lavine.

"Oh, sir!" she cried, timidly, "I am _so_ sorry you had this
accident."

"I don't know yet whether I am sorry, or not," said Mr. Lavine, grasping
her hand.

She turned and walked beside him and her other hand sought his arm in a
friendly way. John Jarley stood on the landing and followed them with
his eyes. The expression upon his face pleased Wyn immensely.

She beckoned Frank away. "Come on! let's hurry back to the camp before
it gets dark. Mrs. Havel will be worried about us."

"And leave Mr. Lavine here?" queried Frank.

"He couldn't be in better hands; could he?"

"I don't know that he could, Wyn!" cried her friend, suddenly. "What a
smart girl you are!"

But Wyn would not accept that praise without qualifying it. "The
accident was providential," she declared, gravely. "And without
_my_ assistance I am sure Polly knows how to do the right thing."

Perhaps Polly did. At least she gave much attention to their visitor,
and her father could not help but see that Polly and Mr. Lavine were
very good friends.

In half an hour Mr. Lavine appeared from the cottage dressed in Mr.
Jarley's best suit of clothes. He shook hands with Polly, and then
suddenly drew her to him and kissed her on the forehead.

"You are a dear girl, Polly," he declared, with some emotion. "I have to
thank you for my little girl's life; and now I am going to thank your
father for _mine_."

He walked straight down to the landing where Mr. Jarley was apparently
very busy.

"Bill, here, says he will row you over to that camp if you care to go,
Mr. Lavine," said the boatman.

"I don't want to see Bill, John," said the real estate man. "I want to
see _you_. I am going to take advantage of my position as your
guest, John. You cannot turn me off, or refuse to talk with me. You
always were a gentleman, John, and I am sure you will listen to me now."

Mr. Jarley looked at him a good deal as Polly had looked (at first) at
Wyn Mallory.

"Come! don't hold a grudge, John, just because _I_ have been wicked
enough to hold one all these years. I was wrong. I freely admit it. Come
and sit down here, old man, and let's talk all that old matter over and
see where our misunderstanding lay."

"Misunderstanding?"

"Aye," said the other, warmly. "Misunderstanding. For I am convinced now
that a brave and generous man like you, John Jarley, would never have
knowingly done what--all these years--I have held you to be guilty of!"

He had put his arm through the boatman's. Together they walked aside and
sat down upon an upturned skiff. And they were sitting there long after
it grew pitch dark upon the landing, with only the glow of Polly's lamp
in the kitchen window and that uncertain radiance upon the lake which
seems the reflection of the distant stars.

Finally the two men stepped into a skiff and Mr. Jarley rowed it over to
Green Knoll Camp. They did not reach the camp until nearly bedtime, and
they came so softly to the shore that the girls did not hear the
scraping of the boat's keel.

Lavine seized his old friend's hand before leaping ashore.

"Then it's understood, John? You're to get out of this place and come
back to Denton? I'm sorry Dr. Shelton is ahead of me in giving Polly
something substantial; but you and I are going to begin just where we
left off in that Steel Rivet Corporation deal, John.

"About next month I'll have a bigger thing than _that_ in sight,
and you shall have the same share in it that you would have had in the
old deal. You used to be mighty good in handling your end of the game,
John; I want you to take hold of it in just the same way again. Will you
agree, old man?"

And Mr. Jarley gave him his hand upon it.

The girls put their visitor to sleep in the cook tent that night and the
next morning the whole party went over to Gannet Island to see the work
of raising the sunken motor boat carried on. The Busters were as excited
as the girls themselves over the affair, and Cave-in-the-Wood Camp was a
lively place indeed that day.

Tubby Blaisdell was the only person in the party who wore an aggrieved
air. At first he could hardly be made to believe that the girls had not
"sicked" the goat upon him two days before when he had stolen away from
the other boys for a nap in the woods. Tubby walked lame and could have
displayed bruises for several days.

The derrick barge had been towed over to the place where the _Bright
Eyes_ was sunk, the evening before. The boys helped put the chains
around the hull of the sunken boat, for they were all good divers--save
the fat youth, who remained on the invalid list.

Before noon the lost boat was raised to the surface and lashed to the
side of the barge. Mr. Jarley very quickly tacked a tarpaulin over the
hole in her bottom, and then she was pumped out. Further repairs were
made and by night the _Bright Eyes_ was riding safely to her own
anchor and Mr. Jarley pried open the rusted lock of the cabin.

Dr. Shelton had come over in the _Sunshine Boy_ and received from
Mr. Jarley the box containing the silver images intact. It made Polly
Jarley very happy to hear what the quick-tempered doctor said to her
father; and it made Wyn Mallory blush to listen to what they _all_
said to her!

"You can't get out of it, girlie!" laughed Frank Cameron. "What they say
is quite true. If it hadn't been for you they never would have found the
boat, and of course the images would have remained hidden. You're
_it_, Wyn Mallory--no getting away from that!"



CHAPTER XXX

STRIKING CAMP


It was a glorious September morning--and no other month of all the year
can display such beauties of sky and landscape, such invigorating air,
or all Nature in so delightful a mood.

It was a still morning. The newly-kindled fire on Green Knoll sent a
spiral of blue smoke mounting skyward. There was the delicious odor of
pancakes and farm-made sausage hovering all about the camp of the
Go-Ahead girls. Windmill Farm had supplied these first "goodies" of the
autumn and the members of the club enjoyed them to the full.

"But, thanks be! there will be no more dishes to wash for a while,"
declared Grace Hedges.

"Nor beds to make," agreed her partner, Percy Havel.

"Nor fires to kindle," sighed Bessie Lavine.

"Well!" exclaimed Frank Cameron, "an outing in the woods isn't
_all_ it's cracked up to be, I admit. One might just as well accept
a situation as servant in a very untidy household. It would be about the
same thing. But my! we've had some fun between times."

"And such excitement!" declared Mina Everett. "Think of all that's
happened to us since we paddled up from Denton two months and more ago."

"And happened to the boys, too," said Frank, "I understand that Tubby
Blaisdell has put on ten additional pounds of flesh since yesterday
morning."

"Now, Frank! how could he?" gasped Grace.

"Nobody could be much fatter than Tubby already is," added Bess,
laughing.

"You never know till you try," chided Mina. "You have put on some flesh
yourself, Miss Lavine."

"Bah! they'll soon work it off of me when we're back in school," groaned
Bessie. "That's the worst of a vacation--there's always work at the end
of it."

"Lazy!" cried Percy. "I believe I'll _love_ study when I'm back to
the 'scholastic grind.'"

"You can have my share," grumbled Bess. "But what about Tubby's
additional avoirdupois, Frankie? He's as big as a haystack anyway."

    "'All flesh is grass,' the Scriptures say,
    So Tubby B.'s a load of hay!"

chuckled Frank. "Is that it? And Tubby is all swelled up now--as big as
a barrel."

"That's an awful fib, Frank," declared Mina. "He couldn't be."

"Well, Ferd says he _looks_ so. The boys found a bumble bees' nest
and Tubby didn't have any paddle to hit them with. So they all went for
poor Tubby and they stung him so that his face is twice as big as
usual--so Ferd says."

"Something is always happening to that boy," said Bess, laughing.
"Hullo! where have _you_ been, Wyn?"

Wyn came up from the shore. "I know where she's been," cried Frank. "She
has been down there gloating!"

"Gloating?" repeated Percy.

"Over the boat. Is it all there, Wyn?"

The girls ran to the brow of the bank. There, floating off their beach,
was a freshly painted motor boat, its brasswork shining, and everything
spick and span about it. A very commodious and handsome craft she was,
with "Go-Ahead" painted on either side of her bow and on her
stern-board.

"Oh, she's all there! nobody has run off with her in the night," laughed
Wyn. "And Mr. Lavine couldn't have found a better boat if he had
tried--Mr. Jarley says so."

"It was good of Dr. Shelton to sell the _Bright Eyes_ to father,"
said Bessie Lavine. "And they made a good job of it at the boatyard at
the Forge."

"She's such a fine and roomy boat," declared Frankie. "We couldn't have
expected such a big one, otherwise."

"And it's big enough for the Busters and Professor Skillings to sail
home with us, too," said Percy. "Mr. Jarley is going to take charge of
the boys' canoes, as well as ours, and ship them to us."

"Bully! An all-day cruise on the lake and then down the Wintinooski by
moonlight to-night," sighed Wyn. "It will be just scrumptious!"

"Come, then, girls," warned Mrs. Havel. "We must strike camp. Everything
must be rolled up and secured, ready for shipment on the bateau when it
comes. I saw the sail of the bateau going past the point of Gannet
Island early this morning. I expect the boys are all ready before this
time."

"Let's wait for them," said the languid Bess. "What's the use of having
boy friends if you don't make use of them?"

"Listen to her!" exclaimed Wyn, with scorn. "Depend upon the boys?
I--rather--guess--not!"

"Don't be so independent, Miss," returned Miss Lavine. "You'll be glad
to have Davie at your beck and call again when we get back home."

Wyn laughed. "It's all right to have them within reach if need should
arise----"

"Like a mouse, or a snake," put in Frank Cameron.

"Goodness!" drawled Grace. "After all the bugs, and worms, and
caterpillars, and other monsters we have faced--alone and
single-handed--here in the woods, I don't believe I'll _ever_
squeal if I put my hand upon a mouse in the pantry."

"Pshaw!" said Frank. "You only _think_ that. It's the frailties of
the sex we cannot get over. You all know very well that a boy with a
teenty, tinty garter-snake on the end of a stick could chase this whole
crowd either into the lake, or into hysterics."

"Shame!" cried Wyn. "That is rank treachery to the 'manhood' of us girls
of the Go-Ahead Club."

"You are right, Wyn," agreed Mina. "Why, we none of us have any nerves
now--but plenty of _nerve_, of course."

"Oh!" exclaimed Frank, starting back suddenly. "See that! Is it a spider
over your head, Mina?"

Miss Everett uttered an ear-piercing shriek and sprang up, to run madly
from the spot. Frank burst into laughter.

"How brave! Such nerve! My, my! we'll none of us ever be afraid
again----"

They all pitched upon the joker, and Mrs. Havel had to come to her
rescue with the reminder that time was flying.

"If you want to show the boys that you are really fit to camp out alone,
get to work!" she commanded.

The next hour was a busy one for the Go-Aheads. But how much more
handily they went about the striking of the tents than they had about
raising them two months before!

Life in the open had really done wonders for the girls from Denton. They
knew how to do things that they had never dreamed of doing at home. Most
of them had learned how to swing an axe, although the boys had
faithfully paid their forfeit by cutting the firewood for Green Knoll
Camp all summer. The girls could use a hammer, too, and tie workman-like
knots, and do a host of other things that had never come into their
lives before.

"It is well to be sufficient unto one's self," Mrs. Havel told them. "A
girl cannot always expect to find a boy at her beck and call. It is nice
to be waited on by the male sex--and it is good for boys to learn to
attend properly upon their girl friends; it is better, however, to know
how to accept favors gracefully from our boy friends, and yet not really
_need_ their assistance."

So Green Knoll Camp presented a very orderly appearance when the boys
and Professor Skillings appeared ahead of the bateau that was to take
all their goods and chattels back to their home town.

"Goodness! aren't you girls smart?" cried Dave Shepard, the first
ashore. "Are you _all_ ready?"

"Every bit," declared Wyn.

"Then we can get off in the _Go-Ahead_ at once?"

"Right," declared Frank, laughing. "And as soon as you can teach Wyn and
me how to manage the motor boat, we girls sha'n't need you boys at all."

"A fine lot of suffragettes you are going to make," growled Dave.

"No; we'll never be 'suffering-cats,' Davie," returned Frank, laughing.
"We don't need to. Let us alone for being able to get the best of you
Busters whenever we want to."

"Isn't she right?" cried Ferdinand Roberts, admiringly. "You can't beat
'em!"

"No, you can't," snarled Tubby Blaisdell, very puffy about his face, and
with a wry smile. "They even get the goats to help 'em."

"They got your goat, old man," said Dave, chuckling, "that's sure. But
you blame them for a crime they did not commit, I believe. Remember how
many times you have tried to trick _them_?"

"Huh!" snorted the fat youth. "Did I ever succeed?"

"I hope," said Mrs. Havel, breaking in upon this "give and take"
conversation, "that your parents will not blame me if you all
appear--both girls and boys--to have lost your good manners here in the
woods. Do simmer down. Remember, you return to civilization to-day."

"Oh, dear! don't remind us--don't, dear Mrs. Havel," cried Frank.

"Just think!" scoffed Ferd. "You girls will have to be all 'dolled up'
on Sunday again. Won't you _hate_ it?"

"Rather go around in a tramping skirt and without a hat," admitted Wyn,
frankly.

"The tastes of girlhood are much different now from what they were in
_my_ day," said the lady, with a sigh. "When I was young we never
thought of doing the things you girls do now."

"Isn't that why you didn't do them?" asked Frank, slily. "Perhaps we
girls of this generation have better-developed imaginations."

"Oh, sure!" cried Ferd, with sarcasm. "You girls are wonders--just as
smart as little Hen Rogers was last term when Miss Haley asked him if he
could name any town in Alaska."

"What did he say?" asked Frank, with interest.

"He said, 'Nome'--and she sent him to the foot of the class," chuckled
Ferd.

"Oh! aren't you smart?" railed Bessie. "That joke is the twin to the one
about the boy who was asked by the professor in physics if he knew what
'nasal organ' meant. And the boy said 'No, sir' and got a 'perfect'
mark."

"Come on, folks!" cried Wyn. "Stop telling silly jokes and bear a hand
here. All these things have to go into the boat."

Mr. Jarley and Polly joined them just then, Mr. Jarley to collect the
canoes and take them to the Forge, while Polly was to go with the two
clubs aboard the newly-named _Go-Ahead_ to Denton.

Polly, in a brand-new boating costume, was so pretty that the boys
couldn't keep their eyes away from her. She was happy, too, and this
fact gave an entirely different expression to her face.

She was to go home with Wyn, and in a few weeks her father would follow
and establish a home for them both in Denton. He was going, as Mr.
Lavine declared, to start in his old home town just where he had left
off more than ten years before. And Polly was to enter the academy with
the girls of Green Knoll Camp on the opening day.

The party got under weigh on the _Go-Ahead_ and were some miles
down the lake ere it was discovered that Professor Skillings had
forgotten both his shoes and his hat, for he had paddled over to the
girls' camp barefoot as usual. It was too late to go back then, for the
baggage had all been put aboard the bateau.

So the professor went home with a handkerchief tied around his head and
a pair of moccasins on his feet--the latter borrowed from Dr. Shelton,
at whose dock they stopped for luncheon.

The bluff doctor insisted that the whole party come ashore and lunch
with him. He had arranged for Polly's tuition at the Denton Academy, had
bought her text-books, and when the party left for home that day he
thrust into Polly Jolly's hand a silver chain purse with more money in
it than the boatman's daughter had ever possessed before.

Polly Jolly was beginning to live up to the loving name that Wyn Mallory
had given to her. She was the very gayest of the gay as the
_Go-Ahead_ proceeded down the lake and then down the Wintinooski to
Denton.

The last of the journey was taken after they had had a picnic supper,
and under the brilliant light of the September moon. The boys and girls
sang and told stories, and otherwise enjoyed themselves. But as they
drew near home they quieted down.

The summer was behind them. For more than two months they had skylarked,
and enjoyed themselves to the full on the lake and in the woods. They
"were going back to civilization," as Frankie said, and it made them a
bit thoughtful.

"I expect," said Mina Everett, "that we have had just the best time that
we will ever have in all our lives."

"Why so?" demanded Bess. "Can't we go camping again?"

"Sure we will!" declared Dave Shepard.

"I see what Mina means--and I guess she is right," Wyn remarked,
earnestly. "We may go camping again; but it will never be just like this
first time. For the girls, I mean. We had never done such a thing
before. And then--if we go next summer--we'll be a whole year older. And
a year is a long, long time."

"Long enough to spoil some of you girls, I expect," grumbled Ferdinand.

"Spoil us, Mister? How's that?" snapped Bess, at once taking up the
gauntlet.

"You'll be wanting to put up your hair and let down your skirts, and
will be wearing all the new-style folderols by next summer," retorted
Ferd.

"Oh, won't they, just!" groaned Tubby, in agreement.

"You wait and see, Smartie!" cried Frank Cameron.

"We are not like the girls you are thinking of," declared Grace, with
some warmth.

"No, indeed," agreed Percy.

"The Go-Aheads are going to fool you, Ferdie," said Wyn, laughing. "Just
you watch us. _All_ girls aren't in a hurry to grow up and ape
their mothers and older sisters. We're going in for athletics and the
'simple life' strongly; aren't we, girls?"

Her fellow club members agreed in a hearty chorus. "Besides," added
Bess, "we can have all the fun the other kind of girls have as well as
our own kind. We can dance, and go to parties, and wear pretty frocks
for _part_ of the time."

"What did I tell you?" demanded Ferd, grinning.

"Never mind, Ferd, never mind," said Dave, softly. "We'll be a bit that
way ourselves before the winter's over. You know, Ferd, that your folks
will insist on your keeping your hair cut and your finger-nails
manicured."

"And of course I'll have a blister on my heel from wearing dancing pumps
before the season is over," groaned Tubby. "Oh, well! it's not
altogether our fault that we grow up so fast. Our folks make us," and he
groaned again, for dancing school was one of the fat youth's pet
aversions.

"That is what youth is for," advised Mrs. Havel, who overheard all this.
"It is a preparation for manhood and womanhood."

"Dear me! Dear me! let's forget it," cried Dave. "This is no time for
feeling solemn. Thank goodness, for two solid months we have forgotten
all about the 'duty we owe to posterity,' as the professor expresses it.
Maybe next year we can forget it again in our camps upon the shores of
Lake Honotonka."

"Well expressed, little boy--well expressed," agreed Wynifred, tweaking
one of Dave's curls that would _not_ lie down, no matter what he
did to them. "My! but we _have_ grown serious. This is no way to
end our camping days, girls. Come! another lively song----"

The motor boat drifted in to the boathouse landing to the lilt of a
familiar rowing song. Wyn's camping days were over; the outing of the
Go-Ahead Club was at an end.

THE END



SOMETHING ABOUT

AMY BELL MARLOWE

AND HER BOOKS FOR GIRLS

In these days, when the printing presses are turning out so many books
for girls that are good, bad and indifferent, it is refreshing to come
upon the works of such a gifted authoress as Miss Amy Bell Marlowe, who
is now under contract to write exclusively for Messrs. Grosset & Dunlap.

In many ways Miss Marlowe's books may be compared with those of Miss
Alcott and Mrs. Meade, but all are thoroughly modern and wholly American
in scene and action. Her plots, while never improbable, are exceedingly
clever, and her girlish characters are as natural as they are
interesting.

On the following pages will be found a list of Miss Marlowe's books.
Every girl in our land ought to read these fresh and wholesome tales.
They are to be found at all booksellers. Each volume is handsomely
illustrated and bound in cloth, stamped in colors. Published by Grosset
& Dunlap, New York. A free catalogue of Miss Marlowe's books may be had
for the asking.



THE OLDEST OF FOUR

"I don't see any way out!"

It was Natalie's mother who said that, after the awful news had been
received that Mr. Raymond had been lost in a shipwreck on the Atlantic.
Natalie was the oldest of four children, and the family was left with
but scant means for support.

"I've got to do something--yes, I've just got to!" Natalie said to
herself, and what the brave girl did is well related in "The Oldest of
Four; Or, Natalie's Way Out." In this volume we find Natalie with a
strong desire to become a writer. At first she contributes to a local
paper, but soon she aspires to larger things, and comes in contact with
the editor of a popular magazine. This man becomes her warm friend, and
not only aids her in a literary way but also helps in a hunt for the
missing Mr. Raymond.

Natalie has many ups and downs, and has to face more than one bitter
disappointment. But she is a plucky girl through and through.

"One of the brightest girls' stories ever penned," one well-known author
has said of this book, and we agree with him. Natalie is a thoroughly
lovable character, and one long to be remembered. Published as are all
the Amy Bell Marlowe books, by Grosset & Dunlap, New York, and for sale
by all booksellers. Ask your dealer to let you look the volume over.



THE GIRLS OF HILLCREST FARM

"We'll go to the old farm, and we'll take boarders! We can fix the old
place up, and, maybe, make money!"

The father of the two girls was broken down in health and a physician
had recommended that he go to the country, where he could get plenty of
fresh air and sunshine. An aunt owned an abandoned farm and she said the
family could live on this and use the place as they pleased. It was
great sport moving and getting settled, and the boarders offered one
surprise after another. There was a mystery about the old farm, and a
mystery concerning one of the boarders, and how the girls got to the
bottom of affairs is told in detail in the story, which is called, "The
Girls of Hillcrest Farm; Or, The Secret of the Rocks."

It was great fun to move to the farm, and once the girls had the scare
of their lives. And they attended a great "vendue" too.

"I just had to write that story--I couldn't help it," said Miss Marlowe,
when she handed in the manuscript. "I knew just such a farm when I was a
little girl, and oh! what fun I had there! And there was a mystery about
that place, too!"

Published, like all the Marlowe books, by Grosset & Dunlap, New York,
and for sale wherever good books are sold.



A LITTLE MISS NOBODY

"Oh, she's only a little nobody! Don't have anything to do with her!"

How often poor Nancy Nelson heard those words, and how they cut her to
the heart. And the saying was true, she _was_ a nobody. She had no
folks, and she did not know where she had come from. All she did know
was that she was at a boarding school and that a lawyer paid her tuition
bills and gave her a mite of spending money.

"I am going to find out who I am, and where I came from," said Nancy to
herself, one day, and what she did, and how it all ended, is absorbingly
related in "A Little Miss Nobody; Or, With the Girls of Pinewood Hall."
Nancy made a warm friend of a poor office boy who worked for that
lawyer, and this boy kept his eyes and ears open and learned many
things.

The book tells much about boarding school life, of study and fun mixed,
and of a great race on skates. Nancy made some friends as well as
enemies, and on more than one occasion proved that she was "true blue"
in the best meaning of that term.

Published by Grosset & Dunlap, New York, and for sale by booksellers
everywhere. If you desire a catalogue of Amy Bell Marlowe books send to
the publishers for it and it will come free.



THE GIRL FROM SUNSET RANCH

Helen was very thoughtful as she rode along the trail from Sunset Ranch
to the View. She had lost her father but a month before, and he had
passed away with a stain on his name--a stain of many years' standing,
as the girl had just found out.

"I am going to New York and I am going to clear his name!" she resolved,
and just then she saw a young man dashing along, close to the edge of a
cliff. Over he went, and Helen, with no thought of the danger to
herself, went to the rescue.

Then the brave Western girl found herself set down at the Grand Central
Terminal in New York City. She knew not which way to go or what to do.
Her relatives, who thought she was poor and ignorant, had refused to
even meet her. She had to fight her way along from the start, and how
she did this, and won out, is well related in "The Girl from Sunset
Ranch; Or, Alone in a Great City."

This is one of the finest of Amy Bell Marlowe's books, with its
true-to-life scenes of the plains and mountains, and of the great
metropolis. Helen is a girl all readers will love from the start.

Published by Grosset & Dunlap, New York, and for sale by booksellers
everywhere.



WYN'S CAMPING DAYS

"Oh, girls, such news!" cried Wynifred Mallory to her chums, one day.
"We can go camping on Lake Honotonka! Isn't it grand!"

It certainly was, and the members of the Go-Ahead Club were delighted.
Soon they set off, with their boy friends to keep them company in
another camp not far away. Those boys played numerous tricks on the
girls, and the girls retaliated, you may be sure. And then Wyn did a
strange girl a favor, and learned how some ancient statues of rare value
had been lost in the lake, and how the girl's father was accused of
stealing them.

"We must do all we can for that girl," said Wyn. But this was not so
easy, for the girl campers had many troubles of their own. They had
canoe races, and one of them fell overboard and came close to drowning,
and then came a big storm, and a nearby tree was struck by lightning.

"I used to love to go camping when a girl, and I love to go yet," said
Miss Marlowe, in speaking of this tale, which is called, "Wyn's Camping
Days; Or, The Outing of the Go-Ahead Club." "I think all girls ought to
know the pleasures of summer life under canvas."

A book that ought to be in the hands of all girls. Issued by Grosset &
Dunlap, New York, and for sale by booksellers everywhere.



THE GIRLS OF CENTRAL HIGH SERIES

By GERTRUDE W. MORRISON

12mo. BOUND IN CLOTH. ILLUSTRATED. UNIFORM STYLE OF BINDING

Here is a series full of the spirit of high school life of to-day. The
girls are real flesh-and-blood characters, and we follow them with
interest in school and out. There are many contested matches on track
and field, and on the water, as well as doings in the classroom and on
the school stage. There is plenty of fun and excitement, all clean,
pure and wholesome.

THE GIRLS OF CENTRAL HIGH
  Or Rivals for all Honors.

A stirring tale of high school life, full of fun, with a touch of
mystery and a strange initiation.

THE GIRLS OF CENTRAL HIGH ON LAKE LUNA
  Or The Crew That Won.

Telling of water sports and fun galore, and of fine times in camp.

THE GIRLS OF CENTRAL HIGH AT BASKETBALL
  Or The Great Gymnasium Mystery.

Here we have a number of thrilling contests at basketball and in
addition, the solving of a mystery which had bothered the high school
authorities for a long while.

THE GIRLS OF CENTRAL HIGH ON THE STAGE
  Or The Play That Took the Prize.

How the girls went in for theatricals and how one of them wrote a play
which afterward was made over for the professional stage and brought
in some much-needed money.

THE GIRLS OF CENTRAL HIGH ON TRACK AND FIELD
  Or The Girl Champions of the School League

This story takes in high school athletics in their most approved and
up-to-date fashion. Full of fun and excitement.

THE GIRLS OF CENTRAL HIGH IN CAMP
  Or The Old Professor's Secret.

The girls went camping on Acorn Island and had a delightful time at
boating, swimming and picnic parties.

Grosset & Dunlap, Publishers, New York



THE MOVING PICTURE GIRLS SERIES

By LAURA LEE HOPE

Author of "The Bobbsey Twins Series."

12mo. BOUND IN CLOTH. ILLUSTRATED. UNIFORM STYLE OF BINDING

The adventures of Ruth and Alice DeVere. Their father, a widower, is
an actor who has taken up work for the "movies." Both girls wish to
aid him in his work and visit various localities to act in all sorts
of pictures.

THE MOVING PICTURE GIRLS
  Or First Appearance in Photo Dramas.

Having lost his voice, the father of the girls goes into the movies
and the girls follow. Tells how many "parlor dramas" are filmed.

THE MOVING PICTURE GIRLS AT OAK FARM
  Or Queer Happenings While Taking Rural Plays.

Full of fun in the country, the haps and mishaps of taking film plays,
and giving an account of two unusual discoveries.

THE MOVING PICTURE GIRLS SNOWBOUND
  Or The Proof on the Film.

A tale of winter adventures in the wilderness, showing how the
photo-play actors sometimes suffer.

THE MOVING PICTURE GIRLS UNDER THE PALMS
  Or Lost in the Wilds of Florida.

How they went to the land of palms, played many parts in dramas before
the camera; were lost, and aided others who were also lost.

THE MOVING PICTURE GIRLS AT ROCKY RANCH
  Or Great Days Among the Cowboys.

All who have ever seen moving pictures of the great West will want to
know just how they are made. This volume gives every detail and is
full of clean fun and excitement.

THE MOVING PICTURE GIRLS AT SEA
  Or a Pictured Shipwreck that Became Real.

A thrilling account of the girls' experiences on the water.

THE MOVING PICTURE GIRLS IN WAR PLAYS
  Or The Sham Battles at Oak Farm.

The girls play important parts in big battle scenes and have plenty of
hard work along with considerable fun.

Grosset & Dunlap, Publishers, New York



THE OUTDOOR GIRLS SERIES

By LAURA LEE HOPE

Author of the "Bobbsey Twin Books" and "Bunny Brown" Series.

12mo. BOUND IN CLOTH. ILLUSTRATED. UNIFORM STYLE OF BINDING.

These tales take in the various adventures participated in by several
bright, up-to-date girls who love outdoor life. They are clean and
wholesome, free from sensationalism, absorbing from the first chapter
to the last.

THE OUTDOOR GIRLS OF DEEPDALE
  Or Camping and Tramping for Fun and Health.

Telling how the girls organized their Camping and Tramping Club, how
they went on a tour, and of various adventures which befell them.

THE OUTDOOR GIRLS AT RAINBOW LAKE
  Or Stirring Cruise of the Motor Boat Gem.

One of the girls becomes the proud possessor of a motor boat and
invites her club members to take a trip down the river to Rainbow
Lake, a beautiful sheet of water lying between the mountains.

THE OUTDOOR GIRLS IN A MOTOR CAR
  Or The Haunted Mansion of Shadow Valley.

One of the girls has learned to run a big motor car, and she invites
the club to go on a tour to visit some distant relatives. On the way
they stop at a deserted mansion and make a surprising discovery.

THE OUTDOOR GIRLS IN A WINTER CAMP
  Or Glorious Days on Skates and Ice Boats.

In this story, the scene is shifted to a winter season. The girls have
some jolly times skating and ice boating, and visit a hunters' camp in
the big woods.

THE OUTDOOR GIRLS IN FLORIDA.
  Or Wintering in the Sunny South.

The parents of one of the girls have bought an orange grove in
Florida, and her companions are invited to visit the place. They take
a trip into the interior, where several unusual things happen.

THE OUTDOOR GIRLS AT OCEAN VIEW
  Or The Box that Was Found in the Sand.

The girls have great fun and solve a mystery while on an outing along
the New England coast.

THE OUTDOOR GIRLS ON PINE ISLAND
  Or A Cave and What it Contained.

A bright, healthful story, full of good times at a bungalow camp on
Pine Island.

Grosset & Dunlap, Publishers, New York



THE BOBBSEY TWINS BOOKS

For Little Men and Women

By LAURA LEE HOPE

Author of "The Bunny Brown" Series, Etc.

12mo. BOUND IN CLOTH. ILLUSTRATED. UNIFORM STYLE OF BINDING.

Copyright publications which cannot be obtained elsewhere. Books that
charm the hearts of the little ones, and of which they never tire.
Many of the adventures are comical in the extreme, and all the
accidents that ordinarily happen to youthful personages happened to
these many-sided little mortals. Their haps and mishaps make decidedly
entertaining reading.

THE BOBBSEY TWINS

THE BOBBSEY TWINS IN THE COUNTRY

THE BOBBSEY TWINS AT THE SEASHORE

THE BOBBSEY TWINS AT SCHOOL

Telling how they go home from the seashore; went to school and were
promoted, and of their many trials and tribulations.

THE BOBBSEY TWINS AT SNOW LODGE

Telling of the winter holidays, and of the many fine times and
adventures the twins had at a winter lodge in the big woods.

THE BOBBSEY TWINS ON A HOUSEBOAT

Mr. Bobbsey obtains a houseboat, and the whole family go off on a
tour.

THE BOBBSEY TWINS AT MEADOW BROOK

The young folks visit the farm again and have plenty of good times and
several adventures.

THE BOBBSEY TWINS AT HOME

The twins get into all sorts of trouble--and out again--also bring aid
to a poor family.

Grosset & Dunlap, Publishers, New York





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