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Title: Ruth Fielding At Sunrise Farm - What Became of the Raby Orphans
Author: Emerson, Alice B.
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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[Illustration: “WHY, SADIE RABY! WHO’D EVER EXPECT TO SEE YOU HERE?”]



                             Ruth Fielding
                            At Sunrise Farm


                    WHAT BECAME OF THE RABY ORPHANS

                                   BY

                            ALICE B. EMERSON

            Author of “Ruth Fielding of the Red Mill,” “Ruth
                      Fielding at Snow Camp,” Etc.

                             _ILLUSTRATED_


                                NEW YORK
                         CUPPLES & LEON COMPANY
                               PUBLISHERS



                            Books for Girls
                          BY ALICE B. EMERSON

                          RUTH FIELDING SERIES

                       12mo. Cloth. Illustrated.

                  RUTH FIELDING OF THE RED MILL

                  RUTH FIELDING AT BRIARWOOD HALL

                  RUTH FIELDING AT SNOW CAMP

                  RUTH FIELDING AT LIGHTHOUSE POINT

                  RUTH FIELDING AT SILVER RANCH

                  RUTH FIELDING ON CLIFF ISLAND

                  RUTH FIELDING AT SUNRISE FARM

                  RUTH FIELDING AND THE GYPSIES

               Cupples & Leon Co., Publishers, New York.

                          Copyright, 1915, by
                         Cupples & Leon Company

                      Ruth Fielding Homeward Bound

                          Printed in U. S. A.



                                CONTENTS

           CHAPTER                                          PAGE
                I. Sweet Briars and Sour Pickles               1
               II. The Wild Girl                              12
              III. Sadie Raby’s Story                         23
               IV. “Them Perkinses”                           34
                V. “The Tramping Girl”                        45
               VI. Seeking the Trail                          53
              VII. What Tom Cameron Saw                       61
             VIII. Traveling Toward Sunrise Farm              68
               IX. The Sunrise Coach                          77
                X. “Touch and Go”                             85
               XI. Tobogganing in June                        91
              XII. A Number of Introductions                 100
             XIII. The Terrible Twins                        108
              XIV. “Why! Of Course!”                         114
               XV. The Tempest                               120
              XVI. The Runaway                               128
             XVII. The Black Douglass                        135
            XVIII. Sundry Plans                              143
              XIX. A Safe and Sane Fourth?                   151
               XX. The Raby Romance                          158
              XXI. A Very Busy Time                          166
             XXII. The Terrible Twins on the Rampage         173
            XXIII. Lost                                      180
             XXIV. “So That’s All Right”                     189
              XXV. The Orphans’ Fortune                      198



RUTH FIELDING AT SUNRISE FARM



CHAPTER I—SWEET BRIARS AND SOUR PICKLES


The single gas jet burning at the end of the corridor was so dim and
made so flickering a light that it added more to the shadows of the
passage than it provided illumination. It was hard to discover which
were realities and which shadows in the long gallery.

Not a ray of light appeared at any of the transoms over the dormitory
doors; yet that might not mean that there were no lights burning within
the duo and quartette rooms in the East Dormitory of Briarwood Hall.
There were ways of shrouding the telltale transoms and—without doubt—the
members of the advanced junior classes had learned such little tricks of
the trade of being a schoolgirl.

At one door—and it was the portal of the largest “quartette” room on the
floor—a tall figure kept guard. At first this figure was so silent and
motionless that it seemed like a shadow only. But when another shadow
crept toward it, rustling along the wall on tiptoe, the guard demanded,
hissingly:

“S-s-stop! who goes there?”

“Oh-oo! How you startled me, Madge Steele!”

“Sh!” commanded the guard. “Who goes there?”

“Why—why—— It’s _I_.”

“Give the password instantly. Answer!” commanded the guard again, and
with some vexation. “‘I’ isn’t anybody.”

“Oh, indeed? Let me tell you that _this_ ‘I’ is somebody—according to
the gym. scales. I gained three pounds over the Easter holidays,” said
“Heavy” Jennie Stone, who had begun her reply with a giggle, but ended
it with a sigh.

“Password, Miss!” snapped the guard, grimly.

“Oh! of course!” Then the fat girl whispered shrilly:
“‘Sincerity—befriend.’ That is what ‘S. B.’ stands for, I s’pose.
Sweetbriars! and I have a big bag of sour pickles to offset the cloying
sweetness of the Sweetbriars,” chuckled Heavy. “Besides, they say that
vinegar pickles will make you thin——”

“I don’t need them for that purpose,” admitted the guard at the door,
still in a whisper, but accepting the large, “warty” pickle Heavy thrust
into her hand.

“Will make _me_ thin, then,” agreed the other. “Let me in, Madge.”

The guard, sucking the pickle convulsively the while, opened the door
just a little way. A blanket had been hung on a frame inside in such a
manner that scarcely a gleam of lamplight reached the corridor when the
door was open.

“Pass the Sweetbriar!” choked Madge, with her mouth full and the tears
running down her cheeks. “My goodness, Jennie Stone! these pickles are
right out of vitriol!”

“Sour, aren’t they?” chuckled Heavy. “I handed you a real one for fair,
that time, didn’t I, Madge?”

Then she tried to sidle through the narrow opening, got stuck, and was
urged on by Madge pushing her. With a bang—punctuated by a chorus of
muffled exclamations from the girls already assembled—she tore away the
frame and the blanket and got through.

“Shut the door, quick, guard!” exclaimed Helen Cameron.

“Of course, that would be Heavy—entering like a female Samson and
tearing down the pillars of the temple,” snapped Mercy Curtis, the lame
girl, in her sharp way.

“Please repair the damage, Helen,” said Ruth Fielding, who presided at
the far end of the room, sitting cross-legged on one of the beds.

The other girls were arranged on the chairs, or upon the floor before
her. There was a goodly number of them, and they now included most of
the members of the secret society known at Briarwood Hall as the
“S. B.’s.”

Ruth herself was a bright, brown-haired girl who, without possessing
many pretensions to real beauty of feature, still was quite good to look
at and proved particularly charming when one grew to know her well.

She was rather plump, happy of disposition, and with the kindest heart
in the world. She made both friends and enemies. No person of real
character can escape being disliked, now and then, by those of envious
disposition.

Ruth Fielding succeeded, usually, in winning to her those who at first
disliked her. And this, I claim, is a better gift than that of being
universally popular from the start.

Ruth had come from her old home in Darrowtown, where her parents died,
two years before, to the Red Mill on the Lumano River, where her
great-uncle, Jabez Potter, the miller, was inclined at first to shelter
her only as an object of his grudging charity. In the first volume of
this series, however, entitled “Ruth Fielding of the Red Mill; Or,
Jasper Parloe’s Secret,” the girl found her way—in a measure, at
least—to the uncle’s crabbed heart.

Uncle Jabez was a just man, and he considered it his duty, when Helen
Cameron, Ruth’s dearest friend, was sent to Briarwood Hall to school, to
send Ruth to the same institution. In the second volume, “Ruth Fielding
at Briarwood Hall; Or, Solving the Campus Mystery,” was related the
adventures, friendships, rivalries, and fun of Ruth’s and Helen’s first
term at the old school.

In “Ruth Fielding at Snow Camp; Or, Lost in the Backwoods,” was told the
adventures of Ruth and her friends at the Camerons’ winter camp during
the Christmas holidays. At the end of the first year of school, they all
went to the seaside, to experience many adventures in “Ruth Fielding at
Lighthouse Point; Or, Nita, the Girl Castaway,” the fourth volume of the
series.

A part of that eventful summer was spent by Ruth and her chums in
Montana, and the girl of the Red Mill was enabled to do old Uncle Jabez
such a favor that he willingly agreed to pay her expenses at Briarwood
Hall for another year. This is all told in “Ruth Fielding at Silver
Ranch; Or, Schoolgirls Among the Cowboys.”

The girls returned to Briarwood Hall and in the sixth volume of the
series, entitled “Ruth Fielding on Cliff Island; Or, The Old Hunter’s
Treasure Box,” Ruth was privileged to help Jerry Sheming and his
unfortunate old uncle in the recovery of their title to Cliff Island in
Lake Tallahaska, while she and her friends had some thrilling and many
funny adventures during the mid-winter vacation.

The second half of this school year was now old. The Easter recess was
past and the girls were looking forward to the usual break-up in the
middle of June. The hardest of the work for the year was over. Those
girls who had been faithful in their studies prior to Easter could now
take something of a breathing spell, and the S. B.’s were determined to
initiate such candidates as had been on the waiting list for reception
into the secrets of the most popular society in the school.

The shrouded door of the quartette room occupied by Ruth, Helen, Mercy,
and Jane Ann Hicks, from Montana, was opened carefully again and again
until the outer guard, Madge Steele, had admitted all the candidates and
most of the members of the S. B. order who were expected.

Each girl was presented with at least half a big sour pickle from
Heavy’s store; but really, the pickles had nothing to do with the
initiation of the neophytes.

There was a serious and helpful side to the society of the S. B.’s—as
witness the password. Ruth, who was the most active member of the
institution, realized, however, that the girls were so full of fun that
they must have some way of expressing themselves out of the ordinary.
Perhaps she had asked Mademoiselle Picolet, the French teacher, whose
room was in this dormitory, and Miss Scrimp, the matron, to overlook
this present infraction of the rules, for it must be admitted that the
retiring bell had rung half an hour before the gathering in this
particular room.

“All here!” breathed Ruth, at last, and Madge was called in. The
candidates were placed in the middle of the floor. Ann Hicks, the girl
from Silver Ranch, was one of these. Ann had proved her character and
made herself popular in the school against considerable odds, as related
in the preceding volume. Now, the honor of being admitted into the
secret society was added to the other marks of the school’s approval.

“Candidates,” said Ruth, addressing in most solemn tones the group of
girls before her, “you are about to be initiated into the degree of the
Marble Harp. As Infants, when you first entered the school, you were all
made acquainted with the legend of the Marble Harp.

“The figure of _Harmony_, presiding over the fountain in the middle of
the campus, was modeled by the sculptor from the only daughter of the
man who originally owned Briarwood Park before it became a school. Said
sculptor and daughter—in the most approved fashion of the present day
school of romanticist authors—ran away with each other, were married
without the father’s approval, and both are supposed to have died
miserably in a studio-garret.

“The heart-broken father naturally left his cur-r-r-se upon the
fountain, and it is said—mind you, this is hearsay,” added Ruth,
solemnly, “that whenever anything of moment is about to transpire at
Briarwood Hall, or any calamity befall, the strings of the marble harp
held in the hands of _Harmony_, are heard to twang.

“Of course, as has been pointed out before, the fact that the harp is in
the shape of a _lyre_, must be considered, too, if one is to accept this
legend. But, however, and nevertheless,” pursued Ruth, “it has been
decided that the candidates here assembled must join in the Mackintosh
March, and, in procession, led by our Outer Guard and followed—not to
say _herded_—by our Rear Guard, must proceed once around the campus,
down into the garden, and circle the fountain, chanting, as you have
been instructed, the marching song.

“All ready! You all have your mackintoshes, as instructed? Into them at
once,” commanded Ruth. “Into line—one after the other. Now, Outer
Guard!”

The lights were extinguished; the blanket at the door was removed; Madge
Steele led the way and Heavy, as the Rear Guard, was last in the line.
Shrouded in the hoods of the mackintoshes, scarcely one of the girls
would have been recognized by any curious teacher or matron.

Ruth hopped down from the bed, and the remaining Sweetbriars ran
giggling to the windows. It was a drizzly, dark night. The paths about
the campus glistened, and the lamps upon the posts flickered dimly.

Out of the front door filed the procession; when they were far enough
away from the buildings which surrounded the campus, they began the
chant, based upon Tom Moore’s famous old song:

  “The harp that once through Briarwood Hall
    The soul of music shed,
  Now hangs as mute o’er the campus fount
    As though that soul were dead.”

Madge Steele, with her strong voice, led the chant. The girls, crowded
at the open windows, began to giggle, for they could hear Heavy, at the
end of the procession, sing out a very different verse.

“That rascal ought to be fined for that,” murmured The Fox, the
sandy-haired girl next to Ruth.

“But, isn’t she funny?” gasped Helen, on the other side of the Chief of
the S. B.’s.

“Oh, dear!” exclaimed Belle Tingley. “I hope Sarah Fish got there ahead
of them. _Won’t_ they be surprised when they get a baptism of a glass of
water each from the fountain, as they go by?”

“They’ll think the statue has come to life, sure enough, if it doesn’t
twang the lyre,” quoth Helen.

“They’ll get an unexpected ducking,” giggled Lluella Fairfax.

“It won’t hurt them,” Ruth said, placidly. “That’s why I insisted upon
the mackintoshes.”

“It’s just as dark down there by the fountain as it can be,” spoke
Helen, with a little shiver. “D’you remember, Ruthie, how they hazed us
there when we were Infants?”

“Don’t I!” agreed her chum.

“If Sarah is careful, she can stand right up there against the statue
and never be seen, while she can reach the water to throw it at the
girls easily. There!” cried Belle. “They’re turning down the walk to the
steps. I can see them.”

They all could see them—dimly. Like shadows the procession descended to
the marble fountain, still chanting softly the refrain of the marching
song. Suddenly a shriek—a very vigorous and startling sound—rang out
across the campus.

“It’s begun!” giggled Belle.

But the sound was repeated—then in a thrilling chorus. Ruth was
startled. She exclaimed:

“That wasn’t either of the candidates. It was Sarah who screamed. There!
It is Sarah again. Something has happened!”

Something certainly had happened. There had been an unexpected fault
somewhere in the initiation. The procession burst like a bombshell, and
the girls scattered through the wet campus, utterly terrified, and
screaming as they ran.



CHAPTER II—THE WILD GIRL


“Something awful must have occurred!” cried Helen Cameron.

Ruth did not remain at the window for more than a moment after seeing
the girls engaged in the initiation disperse, and hearing their screams.
She drew back from the crowding group and darted out of the room.
Fortunately neither the French teacher, nor the matron, had yet been
aroused. If the girls came noisily into the dormitory building, Ruth
knew very well that “the powers that be” must of necessity take
cognizance of the infraction of the rules.

The girl from the Red Mill sped down the broad stairway and out of the
house. Some of the fastest runners among the frightened girls were
already panting at the steps.

“Hush! hush!” commanded Ruth. “What is the matter? What has happened?”

“Oh! it’s the ghost!” declared one girl.

“So’s your grandmother’s aunt!” snapped another. “Somebody shoved Sarah
into the water. It was no ghost.”

It was Madge Steele who last spoke, and Ruth seized upon the senior,
believing she might get something like a sensible explanation from her.

“You girls go into the house quietly,” warned Ruth, as they scrambled up
the stone steps. “Don’t you _dare_ make a noise and get us all into
trouble.”

Then she turned upon Madge, begging: “Do, _do_ tell me what you mean,
Madge Steele. _Who_ pushed Sarah?”

“That’s what I can’t tell you. But I heard Sarah yelling that she was
pushed, and she did most certainly fall right into the fountain when she
climbed up there beside the statue.”

“What a ridiculous thing!” giggled Ruth. “Somebody played a trick on
her. I guess she was fooled instead of the candidates being startled,
eh?”

“I saw somebody—or something—drop off the other side of the fountain and
run—I saw it myself,” declared Madge.

“Here comes Sarah,” cried Ruth, under her breath. “And I declare she
_is_ all wet!”

Sarah Fish was actually laughing, but in a hysterical way.

“Oh, dear me! was ever anything so ridiculous before?” she gasped.

“Hush! Don’t get Miss Picolet after us,” begged Madge.

“What really happened?” demanded Ruth, eagerly.

“Why—I’ll tell you,” replied Sarah, whose gown clung to her as though it
had been pasted upon her figure. “See? I’m just _soaked_. Talk about
sprinkling those silly lambs of candidates! Why, _I_ was immersed—you
see.”

“But how?”

“I slipped over there before the procession started from these steps. I
was watching the girls, and listening to them sing, and didn’t pay much
attention to anything else.

“But when I dodged down into the little garden, I thought I heard a
footstep on the flags. I looked all around, and saw nothing. Now I know
the person must have already climbed up on the fountain and gotten into
the shadow of the statue—just as I wanted to do.”

“Was there really somebody there?” demanded Madge.

“How do you think I got into the fountain, if not?” snapped Sarah Fish.

“Fell in.”

“I did not!” cried Sarah. “I was pushed.”

“‘Did She Fall, or Was She Pushed?’” giggled Madge. “Sounds like a
moving picture title.”

“You can laugh,” scoffed Sarah. “I wonder what you’d have done?”

“Got just as wet as you did, most likely,” said Ruth, calming the
troubled waters. “Do go on, Sarah. So you really _saw_ somebody?”

“And felt somebody. When I climbed up to get a footing beside the
sitting figure, so that the girls would not see me, somebody shoved
me—with both hands—right into the fountain.”

“That’s when you squalled?” asked Madge.

“Yes, indeed! And I rolled out of the fountain just as the—the person
who pushed me, tumbled down off the pedestal and ran.”

“For pity’s sake!” ejaculated Ruth. “Do tell us who it was, Sarah.”

“Don’t you think I would if I could?” responded Sarah, trying to wring
the water out of her narrow skirt.

Through the gloom appeared another figure—the too, too solid figure of
Jennie Stone.

“Oh—dear—me! Oh—dear—me!” she panted. And then seeing Sarah Fish
dripping there on the walk, Heavy fell upon the steps and giggled. “Oh,
Sarah!” she gasped. “For once, your appearance fits your name, all
right. You look like a fish out of its element.”

“Laugh——”

“I have to,” responded Heavy.

“Well, if it were you——”

“I know. I’d be floundering there in the water yet.”

“But tell me!” cried Ruth, under her breath. “Was it a girl who pushed
you into the fountain, Sarah?”

“It wore skirts—I’m sure of that, at least,” grumbled Sarah.

“But it ran faster than any girl I ever saw run,” vouchsafed Heavy.
“_Did_ you see her just skimming across the campus toward the main
building? Like the wind!”

“It must be one of our girls,” declared Madge.

“All right,” said Heavy. “But if so, it’s a girl I never saw run before.
You can’t tell me.”

“You had better go in and get off your clothes, Sarah,” advised Ruth.
Then she looked at Madge. Madge was one of the oldest girls at
Briarwood. “Let’s go and see if we can find the girl,” Ruth suggested.

“I’m game,” cried Madge, as the other stragglers mounted the steps and
disappeared behind the dormitory building door.

Both girls hurried down the walk under the trees to the main building.
In one end of this Mrs. Tellingham and the Doctor had their abode. In
the other end was the dining-room, with the kitchens and other offices
in the basement. Besides, Tony Foyle, who was chief man-of-all-work
about the Hall, and his wife, who was cook, had their living rooms in
the basement of this building.

Ruth and Madge hoped to investigate the matter of the mysterious
marauder without arousing the little old Irishman, but already they saw
his lantern behind the grated window in the front basement, and, as the
two girls came nearer, they heard him grumblingly unchain the door.

“Bad ‘cess to ’em! I seen ’em cavortin’ across the campus, I tell ye,
Mary Ann! There’s wan of thim down here in the airy——”

It was evident that the old couple had been aroused, and that Tony was
talking to his wife, who remained in the bedchamber. Ruth seized Madge’s
wrist and whispered in her ear:

“You run around one way, and I’ll go the other. There must be _somebody_
about, for Tony saw her——”

“If it _is_ a girl.”

“Both Sarah and Heavy say it is. I’m not afraid,” declared Ruth, and she
started off alone at once.

Madge disappeared around the corner. Ruth had darted into the heavily
shaded space between the end of the main building and the next brick
structure. There were no lights here, but there was a gas lamp on a post
beyond the far corner, and before she was half way to it, she saw a
shadow flit across the illuminated space about this post, and disappear
behind a clump of snowball bushes.

Ruth ran swiftly forward, dodged around the other end of the clump of
thick bushes, and suddenly collided with somebody who uttered a muffled
scream. Ruth grabbed the girl by both shoulders and held on.

It was like trying to hold a wildcat. The girl, who was considerably
smaller, and far slighter than Ruth, struggled madly to escape. She did
not say a word at first, only straining to get away from Ruth’s strong
grip.

“Now stop! now wait!” panted Ruth. “I want to know who you are——”

The other tugged her best, but the girl of the Red Mill was very strong
for her age, and she held on.

“Stop!” panted Ruth again. “If you make a noise, you’ll bring old Tony
here—and then you _will_ be in trouble. I want to know who you are and
what you were doing down there at the fountain—and why you pushed Sarah
into the water?”

“And I’d like to push _you_ in!” ejaculated the other girl, suddenly.
“You let go of me, or I’ll scratch you!”

“You can’t,” replied Ruth, firmly. “I’m holding you too tight.”

“Then I’ll bite you!” vowed the other.

“Why—you’re a regular wild girl,” exclaimed Ruth. “You stop struggling,
or I’ll shout for help, and then Tony will come running.”

“D—don’t give me away,” gasped the strange girl, suddenly ceasing her
struggles.

“Do you belong here?” demanded Ruth.

“Belong here? Naw! I don’t belong nowheres. An’ you better lemme go,
Miss.”

“Why—you _are_ a strange girl,” said Ruth, greatly amazed. “You can’t be
one of us Briarwoods.”

“That ain’t my name a-tall,” whispered the frightened girl. “My name’s
Raby.”

“But what were you doing over there at the fountain?”

“Gettin’ a drink. Was _that_ any harm?” demanded the girl, sharply. “I’d
found some dry pieces of bread the cook had put on top of a box there by
the back door. I reckoned she didn’t want the bread, and _I_ did.”

“Oh, dear me!” whispered Ruth.

“And dry bread’s dry eatin’,” said the strange girl. “I had ter have a
drink o’ water to wash it down. And jest as I got down into that little
place where I seed the fountain this afternoon——”

“Oh, my, dear!” gasped Ruth. “Have you been lurking about the school all
that time and never came and asked good old Mary Ann for something
decent to eat?”

“Huh! mebbe she’d a drove me off. Or mebbe she’d done worse to me,” said
the other, quickly. “They beat me again day ’fore yesterday——”

“Who beat you?” demanded Ruth.

“Them Perkinses. Now! don’t you go for to tell I said that. I don’t want
to go back to ’em—and their house ain’t such a fur ways from here. If
that cook—or any other grown folk—seen me, they’d want to send me back.
I know ’em!” exclaimed the girl, bitterly. “But mebbe you’ll be decent
about it, and keep your mouth shut.”

“Oh! I won’t tell a soul,” murmured Ruth. “But I’m so sorry. Only dry
bread and water—”

“Huh! it’ll keep a feller alive,” said this strangely spoken girl. “I
ain’t no softie. Now, you lemme go, will yer? My! but you _are_ strong.”

“I’ll let you go. But I do want to help you. I want to know more about
you—_all_ about you. But if Tony comes——”

“That’s his lantern. I see it. He’s a-comin’,” gasped the other, trying
to wriggle free.

“Where will you stay to-night?” asked Ruth, anxiously.

“I gotter place. It’s warm and dry. I stayed there las’ night. Come! you
lemme go.”

“But I want to help you——”

“‘Twon’t help me none to git me cotched.”

“Oh, I know it! Wait! Meet me somewhere near here to-morrow morning—will
you? I’ll bring some money with me. I’ll help you.”

“Say! ain’t you foolin’?” demanded the other, seemingly startled by the
fact that Ruth wished to help her.

“No. I speak the truth. I will help you.”

“Then I’ll meet you—but you won’t tell nobody?”

“Not a soul?”

“Cross yer heart?”

“I don’t do such foolish things,” said Ruth. “If I say I’ll do a thing,
I will do it.”

“All right. What time’ll I see you?”

“Ten o’clock.”

“Aw-right,” agreed the strange girl. “I’ll be across the road from that
path that’s bordered by them cedar trees——”

“The Cedar Walk?”

“Guess so.”

“I shall be there. And will you?”

“Huh! I kin keep my word as well as you kin,” said the girl, sharply.
Then she suddenly broke away from Ruth and ran. Tony Foyle came
blundering around the corner of the house and Ruth, much excited,
slipped away from the brush clump and ran as fast as she could to meet
Madge Steele.

“Oh! is that you, Ruth?” exclaimed the senior, when Ruth ran into her
arms. “Tony’s out. We had better go back to bed, or he’ll report us to
Mrs. Tellingham in the morning. I don’t know where the strange girl
could have gone.”

Ruth did not say a word. Madge did not ask her, and the girl of the Red
Mill allowed her friend to think that her own search had been quite as
unsuccessful. But, as Ruth looked at it, it was not _her_ secret.



CHAPTER III—SADIE RABY’S STORY


Ruth did not sleep at all well that night. Luckily, Helen had nothing on
_her_ mind or conscience, or she must have been disturbed by Ruth’s
tossing and wakefulness. The other two girls in the big quartette
room—Mercy Curtis and Ann Hicks—were likewise unaware of Ruth’s
restlessness.

The girl of the Red Mill felt that she could take nobody into her
confidence regarding the strange girl who said her name was Raby.
Perhaps Ruth had no right to aid the girl if she was a runaway; yet
there must be some very strong reason for making a girl prefer practical
starvation to the shelter of “them Perkinses.”

Bread and water! The thought of the child being so hungry that she had
eaten discarded, dry bread, washed down with water from the fountain in
the campus, brought tears to Ruth’s eyes.

“Oh! I wish I knew what was best to do for her,” thought Ruth. “Should I
tell Mrs. Tellingham? Or, mightn’t I get some of the girls interested in
her? Dear Helen has plenty of money, and she is just as tender-hearted
as she can be.”

Yet Ruth had given her promise to take nobody into her confidence about
the half-wild girl; and, with Ruth Fielding, “a promise was a promise!”

In the morning, there was soon a buzz of excitement all over the school
regarding the strange happening at the fountain on the campus. One girl
whispered it to another, and the tale spread like wildfire. However, the
teachers and the principal did not hear of the affair.

Ruth’s lips, she decided, were sealed for the present regarding the
mysterious girl who had pushed Sarah Fish into what Heavy declared was
“her proper element.” The wildest and most improbable stories and
suspicions were circulated before assembly hour, regarding the Unknown.

There was so much said, and so many questions asked, in the quartette
room where Ruth was located, that she felt like running away herself.
But at mail time Madge Steele burst into the dormitory “charged to the
muzzle,” as The Fox expressed it, with a new topic of conversation.

“What do you think, girls? Oh! what do you think?” she cried. “We’re
going to live at Sunrise Farm.”

“Ha! you ask us a question and answer it in the same breath,” said
Mercy, with a snap. “Now you’ve spilled the beans and we don’t care
anything about it at all.”

“You _do_ care,” declared Madge. “I ask _you_ first of all, Mercy. I
invite every one of you for the last week in June and the first two
weeks of July at Sunrise Farm——”

“Oh, wait!” exclaimed Mary Cox, otherwise “The Fox.” “Do begin at the
beginning. I, for one, never heard of Sunrise Farm before.”

“I—I believe _I_ have,” said Ruth slowly. “But I don’t suppose it can be
the same farm Madge means. It is a big stock farm and it’s not many
miles from Darrowtown where I—I used to live once. _That_ farm belonged
to a family named Benson——”

“And a family named Steele owns it now,” put in Madge, promptly. “It’s
the very same farm. It’s a big place—five hundred acres. It’s on a big,
flat-topped hill. Father has been negotiating for the other farms around
about, and has gotten options on most of them, too. He’s been doing it
very quietly.

“Now he says that the old house on the main farm is in good enough shape
for us to live there this summer, while he builds a bigger house. And
you shall all come with us—all you eight girls—the Brilliant Octette of
Briarwood Hall.

“And Bob will get Helen’s brother, and Busy Izzy; and Belle shall invite
her brothers if she likes, and——”

“Say! are you figuring on having a standing army there?” demanded Mercy.

“That’s all right. There is room. The old garret has been made over into
two great dormitories——”

“And you’ve been keeping all this to yourself, Madge Steele?” cried
Helen. “What a nice girl you are. It sounds lovely.”

“And your mother and father will wish we had never arrived, after we’ve
been there two days,” declared Heavy. “By the way, do they know I eat
three square meals each day?”

“Yes. And that if you are hungry, you get up in your sleep and find the
pantry,” giggled The Fox.

“Might as well have all the important details understood right at the
start,” said Heavy, firmly.

“If you’ll all say you’ll come,” said Madge, smiling broadly, “we’ll
just have the lov-li-est time!”

“But we’ll have to write home for permission,” Lluella Fairfax ventured.

“Of course we shall,” chimed in Helen.

“Then do so at once,” commanded the senior. “You see, this will be my
graduation party. No more Briarwood for me after this June, and I don’t
know what I shall do when I go to Poughkeepsie next fall and leave all
you ‘Infants’ behind here——”

“_Infants!_ Listen to her!” shouted Belle Tingley. “Get out of here!”
and under a shower of sofa pillows Madge Steele had to retire from the
room.

Ruth slipped away easily after that, for the other girls were gabbling
so fast over the invitation for the early summer vacation, that they did
not notice her departure.

This was the hour she had promised to meet the strange girl in whom she
had taken such a great interest the night before—it was between the two
morning recitation hours.

She ran down past the end of the dormitory building into the head of the
long serpentine path, known as the Cedar Walk. The lines of closely
growing cedars sheltered her from observation from any of the girls’
windows.

The great bell in the clock tower boomed out ten strokes as Ruth reached
the muddy road at the end of the walk. Nobody was in sight. Ruth looked
up and down. Then she walked a little way in both directions to see if
the girl she had come to meet was approaching.

“I—I am afraid she isn’t going to keep her word,” thought Ruth. “And
yet—somehow—she seemed so frank and honest——”

She heard a shrill, but low whistle, and the sound made her start and
turn. She faced a thicket of scrubby bushes across the road. Suddenly
she saw a face appear from behind this screen—a girl’s face.

“Oh! Is it you?” cried Ruth, starting in that direction.

“Cheese it! don’t yell it out. Somebody’ll hear you,” said the girl,
hoarsely.

“Oh, dear me! you have a dreadful cold,” urged Ruth, darting around the
clump of brush and coming face to face with the strange girl.

“Oh, _that_ don’t give me so much worry,” said the Raby girl. “Aw—My
goodness! Is that for _me_?”

Ruth had unfolded a paper covered parcel she carried. There were
sandwiches, two apples, a piece of cake, and half a box of chocolate
candies. Ruth had obtained these supplies with some difficulty.

“I didn’t suppose you would have any breakfast,” said Ruth, softly. “You
sit right down on that dry log and eat. Don’t mind me. I—I was awake
most all night worrying about you being out here, hungry and alone.”

The girl had begun to eat ravenously, and now, with her mouth full, she
gazed up at her new friend’s face with a suddenness that made Ruth
pause.

“Say!” said the girl, with difficulty. “You’re all right. I seen you
come down the path alone, but reckoned I’d better wait and see if you
didn’t have somebody follerin’ on behind. Ye might have give me away.”

“Why! I told you I would tell nobody.”

“Aw, yes—I know. Mebbe I’d oughter have believed ye; but I dunno. Lots
of folks has fooled me. Them Perkinses was as soft as butter when they
came to take me away from the orphanage. But now they treat me as mean
as dirt—yes, they do!”

“Oh, dear me! So you haven’t any mother or father?”

“Not a one,” confessed the other. “Didn’t I tell you I was took from an
orphanage? Willie and Dickie was taken away by other folks. I wisht
somebody would ha’ taken us all three together; but I’m mighty glad them
Perkinses didn’t git the kids.”

She sighed with present contentment, and wiped her fingers on her skirt.
For some moments Ruth had remained silent, listening to her. Now she had
for the first time the opportunity of examining the strange girl.

It had been too dark for her to see much of her the night before. Now
the light of day revealed a very unkempt and not at all attractive
figure. She might have been twelve—possibly fourteen. She was slight for
her age, but she might be stronger than she appeared to Ruth. Certainly
she was vigorous enough.

She had black hair which was in a dreadful tangle. Her complexion was
naturally dark, and she had a deep layer of tan, and over that quite a
thick layer of dirt. Her hands and wrists were stained and dirty, too.

She wore no hat, raw as the weather was. Her ragged dress was an old
faded gingham; over it she wore a three-quarter length coat of some
indeterminate, shoddy material, much soiled, and shapeless as a
mealsack. Her shoes and stockings were in keeping with the rest of her
outfit.

Altogether her appearance touched Ruth Fielding deeply. This Raby girl
was an orphan. Ruth remembered keenly the time when the loss of her own
parents was still a fresh wound. Supposing no kind friends had been
raised up for her? Suppose there had been no Red Mill for her to go to?
She might have been much the same sort of castaway as this.

“Tell me who you are—tell me all about yourself—do!” begged the girl of
the Red Mill, sitting down beside the other on the log. “I am an orphan
as well as you, my dear. Really, I am.”

“Was you in the orphanage?” demanded the Raby girl, quickly.

“Oh, no. I had friends——”

“You warn’t never a reg’lar orphan, then,” was the sharp response.

“Tell me about it,” urged Ruth.

“Me an’ the kids was taken to the orphanage just as soon as Mom died,”
said the girl, in quite a matter-of-fact manner. “Pa died two months
before. It was sudden. But Mom had been sickly for a long time—I can
remember. I was six.”

“And how old are you now?” asked Ruth.

“Twelve and a half. They puts us out to work at twelve anyhow, so them
Perkinses got me,” explained the child. “I was pretty sharp and foxy
when we went to the orphanage. The kids was only two and a half——”

“Both of them?” cried Ruth.

“Yep. They’re twins, Willie and Dickie is. An’ awful smart—an’ pretty
before they lopped off their curls at the orphanage. I was glad Mom was
dead then,” said the girl, nodding. “She’d been heart-broke to see ’em
at first without their long curls.

“I dunno now—not rightly—just what’s become of ’em,” went on the girl.
“Mebbe they come back to the orphanage. The folks that took ’em was nice
enough, I guess, but the man thought two boys would be too much for his
wife to take care of. She was a weakly lookin’ critter.

“But the matron always said they shouldn’t go away for keeps, unless
they went together. My goodness me! they’d never be happy apart,” said
the strange girl, wagging her head confidentially. “And they’re only
nine now. There’s three years yet for the matron to find them a good
home. Ye see, folks take young orphans on trial. I wisht them Perkinses
had taken _me_ on trial and then had sent me back. Or, I wisht they’d
let the orphans take folks on trial instead of the other way ’round.”

“Oh, it must be very hard!” murmured Ruth. “And you and your little
brothers had to be separated?’

“Yep. And Willie and Dickie liked their sister Sade a heap,” and the
girl suddenly “knuckled” her eyes with her dirty hand to wipe away the
tears. “Huh! I’m a big baby, ain’t I? Well! that’s how it is.”

“And you really have run away from the people that took you from the
orphanage, Sadie?”

“Betcher! So would you. Mis’ Perkins is awful cross, an’ he’s crosser! I
got enough——”

“Wouldn’t they take you back at the orphanage?”

“Nope. No runaways there. I’ve seen other girls come back and they made
’em go right away again with the same folks. You see, there’s a Board,
or sumpin’; an’ the Board finds out all about the folks that take away
the orphans in the first place. Then they won’t never own up that they
was fooled, that Board won’t. They allus say it’s the kids’ fault if
they ain’t suited.”

Suddenly the girl jumped up and peered through the bushes. Ruth had
heard the thumping of horses’ hoofs on the wet road.

“My goodness!” gasped Sadie Raby. “Here’s ol’ Perkins hisself. He’s come
clean over this road to look for me. Don’t you tell him——”

She seized Ruth’s wrist with her claw-like little hand.

“Don’t you be afraid,” said Ruth. “And take this.” She thrust a
closely-folded dollar bill into the girl’s grimy fingers. “I wish it was
more. I’ll come here again to-morrow——”

The other had darted into the woods ere she had ceased speaking.
Somebody shouted “Whoa!” in a very harsh voice, and then a heavy pair of
cowhide boots landed solidly in the road.

“I see ye, ye little witch!” exclaimed the harsh voice. “Come out o’
there before I tan ye with this whip!” and the whip in question snapped
viciously as the speaker pounded violently through the clump of bushes,
right upon the startled Ruth.



CHAPTER IV—“THEM PERKINSES”


It was a fact that Ruth crouched back behind the log, fearful of the
wrathful farmer. He was a big, coarse, high-booted, red-faced man, and
he swung and snapped the blacksnake whip he carried as though he really
intended using the cruel instrument upon the tender body of the girl,
whose figure he had evidently seen dimly through the bushes.

“Come out ’o that!” he bawled, striding toward the log, and making the
whiplash whistle once more in the air.

Ruth leaped up, screaming with fear. “Don’t you touch me, sir! Don’t you
dare!” she cried, and ran around the bushes out in to the road.

The blundering farmer followed her, still snapping the whip. Perhaps he
had been drinking; at least, it was certain he was too angry to see the
girl very well until they were both in the road.

Then he halted, and added:

“I’ll be whipsawed if that’s the gal!”

“I am _not_ the girl—not the girl you want—poor thing!” gasped Ruth.
“Oh! you are horrid—terrible——”

“Shut up, ye little fool!” exclaimed the man, harshly. “You know where
Sade is, then, I’ll be bound.”

“How do you know——?”

“Ha! ye jest the same as told me,” he returned, grinning suddenly and
again snapping the whip. “You can tell me where that runaway’s gone.”

“I don’t know. Even if I did, I would not tell you, sir,” declared Ruth,
recovering some of her natural courage now.

“Don’t ye sass me—nor don’t ye lie to me,” and this time he swung the
cruel whip, until the long lash whipped around her skirts about at a
level with her knees. It did not hurt her, but Ruth cringed and shrieked
aloud again.

“Stop yer howling!” commanded Perkins. “Tell me about Sade Raby. Where’s
she gone?”

“I don’t know.”

“Warn’t she right there in them bushes with you?”

“I shan’t tell you anything more,” declared Ruth.

“Ye won’t?”

The brute swung the blacksnake—this time in earnest. It cracked, and
then the snapper laid along the girl’s forearm as though it were seared
with a hot iron.

Ruth shrieked again. The pain was more than she could bear in silence.
She turned to flee up the Cedar Walk, but Perkins shouted at her to
stand.

“You try ter run, my beauty, and I’ll cut ye worse than that,” he
promised. “You tell me about Sade Raby.”

Suddenly there came a hail, and Ruth turned in hope of assistance. Old
Dolliver’s stage came tearing along the road, his bony horses at a
hand-gallop. The old man, whom the girls of Briarwood Hall called “Uncle
Noah,” brought his horses—and the Ark—to a sudden halt.

“What yer doin’ to that gal, Sim Perkins?” the old man demanded.

“What’s that to you, Dolliver?”

“You’ll find out mighty quick. Git out o’ here or you’ll git into
trouble. Did he hurt you, Miss Ruth?”

“No-o—not much,” stammered Ruth, who desired nothing so much as to get
way from the awful Mr. Perkins. Poor Sadie Raby! No wonder she had been
forced to run away from “them Perkinses.”

“I’ll see you jailed yet, Sim, for some of your meanness,” said the old
stage driver. “And you’ll git there quick if you bother Mis’
Tellingham’s gals——”

“I didn’t know she was one ‘o them tony school gals,” growled Perkins,
getting aboard his wagon again.

“Well, she is—an’ one ‘o the best of the lot,” said Dolliver, and he
smiled comfortably at Ruth.

“Huh! whad-she wanter be in comp’ny of that brat ’o mine, then?”
demanded Perkins, gathering up his reins.

“Oh! are you hunting that orphanage gal ye took to raise? I heard she
couldn’t stand you and Ma Perkins no longer,” Dolliver said, with
sarcasm.

“Never you mind. I’ll git her,” said Perkins, and whipped up his horses.

“Oh, dear, me!” cried Ruth, when he had gone. “What a terrible man, Mr.
Dolliver.”

“Yah!” scoffed the old driver. “Jest a bag of wind. Mean as can be, but
a big coward. Meanes’ folks around here, them Perkinses air.”

“But why were they allowed to have that poor girl, then?” demanded Ruth.

“They went a-fur off to git her. Clean to Harburg. Nobody knowed ’em
there, I s’pose. Why, Ma Perkins kin act like butter wouldn’t melt in
her mouth, if she wants to. But I sartainly am sorry for that poor
little Sade Raby, as they call her.”

“Oh! I do pity her so,” said Ruth, sadly.

The old man’s eyes twinkled. Old Dolliver was sly! “Then ye _do_ know
suthin’ about Sade—jes’ as Perkins said?”

“She was here just now. I gave her something to eat—and a little money.
You won’t tell, Mr. Dolliver?”

“Huh! No. But dunno’s ye’d oughter helped a runaway. That’s agin’ the
law, ye see.”

“Would the law give that poor girl back to those ugly people?”

“I s’pect so,” said Dolliver, scratching his head. “Ye see, Sim Perkins
an’ his wife air folks ye can’t really go agin’—not _much_. Sim owns a
good farm, an’ pays his taxes, an’ ain’t a bad neighbor. But they’ve had
trouble before naow with orphans. But before, ’twas boys.”

“I just hope they all ran away!” cried Ruth, with emphasis.

“Wal—they did, by golly!” ejaculated the stage driver, preparing to
drive on.

“And if you see this poor girl, you won’t tell anybody, will you, Mr.
Dolliver?” pleaded Ruth.

“I jes’ sha’n’t see her,” said the man, his little eyes twinkling. “But
you take my advice, Miss Fielding—don’t _you_ see her, nuther!”

Ruth ran back to the school then—it was time. She could not think of her
lessons properly because of her pity for Sadie Raby. Suppose that horrid
man should find the poor girl!

Every time Ruth saw the red welt on her arm, where the whiplash had
touched her, she wondered how many times Perkins had lashed Sadie when
he was angry. It was a dreadful thought.

Although she had promised Sadie to keep her secret, Ruth wondered if she
might not do the girl some good by telling Mrs. Tellingham about her.
Ruth was not afraid of the dignified principal of Briarwood Hall—she
knew too well Mrs. Grace Tellingham’s good heart.

She determined at least that if Sadie appeared at the end of the Cedar
Walk the next day she would try to get the runaway girl to go with her
to the principal’s office. Surely the girl should not run wild in the
woods and live any way and how she could—especially so early in the
season, for there was still frost at night.

When Ruth ran down the long walk between the cedar trees the next
forenoon at ten, there was nobody peering through the bushes where Sadie
Raby had watched the day before. Ruth went up and down the road, into
the woods a little way, too—and called, and called. No reply. Nothing
answered but a chattering squirrel and a jay who seemed to object to any
human being disturbing the usual tenor of the woods’ life thereabout.

“Perhaps she’ll come this afternoon,” thought Ruth, and she hid the
package of food she had brought, and went back to her classes.

In the afternoon she had no better luck. The runaway did not appear. The
food had not been touched. Ruth left the packet, hoping sadly that the
girl might find it.

The next morning she went again. She even got up an hour earlier than
usual and slipped out ahead of the other girls. The food had been
disturbed—oh, yes! But by a dog or some “varmint.” Sadie had not been to
the rendezvous.

Hoping against hope, Ruth Fielding tacked a note in an envelope to the
log on which she and Sadie had sat side by side. That was all she could
do, save to go each day for a time to see if the strange girl had found
the note.

There came a rain and the letter was turned to pulp. Then Ruth Fielding
gave up hope of ever seeing Sadie Raby again. Old Dolliver told her that
the orphan had never returned to “them Perkinses.” For this Ruth might
be thankful, if for nothing more.

The busy days and weeks passed. All the girls of Ruth’s clique were
writing back and forth to their homes to arrange for the visit they
expected to make to Madge Steele’s summer home—Sunrise Farm. The senior
was forever singing the praises of her father’s new acquisition. Mr.
Steele had closed contracts to buy several of the neighboring farms, so
that, altogether, he hoped to have more than a thousand acres in his
estate.

“And, don’t you _dare_ disappoint me, Ruthie Fielding,” cried Madge,
shaking her playfully. “We won’t have any good time without you, and you
haven’t said you’d go yet!”

“But I can’t say so until I know myself,” Ruth told her. “Uncle Jabez——”

“That uncle of yours must be a regular ogre, just as Helen says.”

“What does Mercy say about him?” asked Ruth, with a quiet smile. “Mercy
knows him fully as well, and she has a sharp tongue.”

“Humph! that’s odd, too. She doesn’t seem to think your Uncle Jabez is a
very harsh man. She calls him ‘Dusty Miller,’ I know.”

“Uncle Jabez has a prickly rind, I guess,” said Ruth. “But the meat
inside is sweet. Only he’s old-fashioned and he can’t get used to
new-fashioned ways. He doesn’t see any reason for my ‘traipsing around’
so much. I ought to be at the mill between schooltimes, helping Aunt
Alvirah—so he says. And I am afraid he is right. I feel condemned——”

“You’re too tender-hearted. Helen says he’s as rich as can be and might
hire a dozen girls to help ‘Aunt Alviry’.”

“He might, but he wouldn’t,” returned Ruth, smiling. “I can’t tell you
yet for sure that I can go to Sunrise Farm. I’d love to. I’ve always
heard ’twas a beautiful place.”

“And it is, indeed! It’s going to be the finest gentleman’s estate in
that section, when father gets through with it. He’s going to make it a
great, big, paying farm—so he says. If it wasn’t for that man Caslon,
we’d own the whole hill all the way around, as well as the top of it.”

“Who’s that?” asked Ruth, surprised that Madge should speak so sharply
about the unknown Caslon.

“Why, he owns one of the farms adjoining. Father’s bought all the
neighbors up but Caslon. _He_ won’t sell. But I reckon father will find
a way to make him, before he gets through. Father usually carries his
point,” added Madge, with much pride in Mr. Steele’s business acumen.

Uncle Jabez had not yet said Ruth could go with the crowd to the
Steeles’ summer home; Aunt Alvirah wrote that he was “studyin’ about
it.” But there was so much to do at Briarwood as the end of the school
year approached, that the girl of the Red Mill had little time to worry
about the subject.

Although Ruth and Helen Cameron were far from graduation themselves,
they both had parts of some prominence in the exercises which were to
close the year at Briarwood Hall. Ruth was in a quartette selected from
the Glee Club for some special music, and Helen had a small violin solo
part in one of the orchestral numbers.

Not many of the juniors, unless they belonged to either the school
orchestra or the Glee Club, would appear to much advantage at
graduation. The upper senior class was in the limelight—and Madge Steele
was the only one of Ruth’s close friends who was to receive her diploma.

“We who aren’t seniors have to sit around like bumps on a log,” growled
Heavy. “Might as well go home for good the day before.”

“You should have learned to play, or sing, or something,” advised one of
the other girls, laughing at Heavy’s apparently woebegone face.

“Did you ever hear me try to sing, Lluella?” demanded the plump young
lady. “I like music myself—I’m very fond of it, no matter how it sounds!
But I can’t even stand my own chest-tones.”

Preparations for the great day went on apace. There was to be a
professional director for the augmented orchestra and he insisted,
because of the acoustics of the hall, upon building an elevated
extension to the stage, upon which to stand to conduct the music.

“Gee!” gasped Heavy, when she saw it the first time. “What’s the
diving-board for?”

“That’s not a diving-board,” snapped Mercy Curtis. “It’s the lookout
station for the captain to watch the high C’s.”

The bustle and confusion of departure punctuated the final day of the
term, too. There were so many girls to say good-bye to for the summer;
and some, of course, would never come back to Briarwood Hall again—as
scholars, at least.

In the midst of the excitement Ruth received a letter in the crabbed
hand of dear old Aunt Alvirah. The old lady enclosed a small money
order, fearing that Ruth might not have all the money she needed for her
home-coming. But the best item in the letter beside the expression of
Aunt Alvirah’s love, was the statement that “Your Uncle Jabe, he’s come
round to agreeing you should go to that Sunrise Farm place with your
young friends. I made him let me hire a tramping girl that came by, and
we got the house all rid up, so when you come home, my pretty, all you
got to do is to visit.”

“And I _will_ visit with her—the unselfish old dear!” Ruth told herself.
“Dear me! how very, very good everybody is to me. But I am afraid poor
Uncle Jabez wouldn’t be so kind if he wasn’t influenced by Aunt
Alvirah.”



CHAPTER V—“THE TRAMPING GAL”


The old clock that had hung in the Red Mill kitchen from the time of
Uncle Jabez Potter’s grandfather—and that was early time on the Lumano,
indeed!—hesitatingly tolled the hour of four.

Daybreak was just behind the eastern hills. A light mist swathed the
silent current of the river. Here and there, along the water’s edge, a
tall tree seemed floating in the air, its bole and roots cut off by the
drifting mist.

“Oh, it is very, very beautiful here!” sighed Ruth Fielding, kneeling at
the open window and looking out upon the awakening world—as she had done
many and many another early morning since first she was given this
little gable-windowed room for her very own.

The sweet, clean, cool air breathed in upon her bare throat and
shoulders, revealed through the lace trimming of her night robe. Ruth
loved linen like other girls, and although Uncle Jabez gave her spending
money with a rather niggardly hand, she and Aunt Alvirah knew how to
make the pennies “go a long way” in purchasing and making her gowns and
undergarments.

There lay over a chair, too, a pretty, light blue, silk trimmed
crepe-cloth kimona, with warm, fur-edged slippers to match, on the
floor. The moment she heard Uncle Jabez rattle the stove-shaker in the
kitchen, Ruth slipped into this robe, and thrust her bare feet into the
slippers. Her braids she drew over her shoulders—one on either side—as
she hurried out of the little chamber and down the back stairs.

She had arrived home from Briarwood the night before. For more than
eight months she had seen neither Uncle Jabez nor Aunt Alvirah; and she
had been so tired and sleepy on her arrival that she had quickly gone to
bed. She felt as though she had scarcely greeted the two old people.

Uncle Jabez was bending over the kitchen stove. He always looked gray of
face, and dusty. The mill-dust seemed ground into both his clothes and
his complexion.

The first the old man knew of her presence, the arms of Ruth were around
his neck.

“Ugh-huh?” questioned the old man, raising up stiffly as the fire began
to chatter, the flames flashing under the lids, and turned to face the
girl who held him so lovingly. “What’s wanted, Niece Ruth?” he added,
looking at her grimly under his bristling brows.

Ruth was not afraid of his grimness. She had learned long since that
Uncle Jabez was much softer under the surface than he appeared. He
claimed to be only just to her; but Ruth knew that his “justice” often
leaned toward the side of mercy.

Her mother, Mary Potter, had been the miller’s favorite niece; when she
had married Ruth’s father, Uncle Jabez had been angry, and for years the
family had been separated. But when Uncle Jabez had taken Ruth in “just
out of charity,” old Aunt Alvirah had assured the heartsick girl that
the miller was kinder at heart than he wished people to suppose.

“He don’t never let his right hand know what his left hand doeth,”
declared the loyal little old woman who had been so long housekeeper for
the miller. “He saved me from the poorhouse—yes, he did!—jest to git all
the work out o’ me he could—to hear him tell it!

“But it ain’t so,” quoth Aunt Alvirah, shaking her head. “He saw a lone
ol’ woman turned out o’ what she’d thought would be her home till she
come to death’s door. An’ so he opened his house and his hand to her.
An’ he’s opened his house and hand to _you_, my pretty; and who knows?
mebbe ’twill open wide his heart, too.”

Ruth had been hoping the old man’s heart _was_ open, not only to her,
but to the whole world. She knew that, in secret, Uncle Jabez was
helping to pay Mercy Curtis’s tuition at Briarwood. He still loved
money; he always would love it, in all probability. But he had learned
to “loosen up,” as Tom Cameron expressed it, in a most astonishing way.
One could not honestly call Uncle Jabez a miser nowadays.

He was miserly in the outward expression of any affection, however. And
that apparent coldness Ruth Fielding longed to break down.

Now the girl, all flushed from her deep sleep, and smiling, lifted her
rosy lips to be kissed. “I didn’t scarcely say ‘how-do’ to you last
night, Uncle,” she said. “Do tell me you’re glad to see me back.”

“Ha! Ye ain’t minded to stay long, it seems.”

“I won’t go to Sunrise Farm if you want me here, Uncle Jabez,” declared
Ruth, still clinging to him, and with the same smiling light in her
eyes.

“Ha! ye don’t mean that,” he grunted.

He knew she did. His wrinkled, hard old face finally began to change.
His eyes tried to escape her gaze.

“I just _love_ you, Uncle,” she breathed, softly. “Won’t—won’t you let
me?”

“There, there, child!” He tried for a moment to break her firm hold;
then he stooped shamefacedly and touched her fresh lips with his own.

Ruth nestled against his big, strong body, and clung a moment longer.
His rough hand smoothed her sleek head almost timidly.

“There, there!” he grumbled. “You’re gittin’ to be a big gal, I swow!
And what good’s so much schoolin’ goin’ ter do ye? Other gals like you
air helpin’ in their mothers’ kitchens—or goin’ to work in the mills at
Cheslow. Seems like a wicked waste of time and money.”

But he did not say it so harshly as had been his wont in the old times.
Ruth smiled up at him again.

“Trust me, Uncle,” she said. “The time’ll come when I’ll prove to you
the worth of it. Give me the education I crave, and I’ll support myself
and pay you all back—with interest! You see if I don’t.”

“Well, well! It’s new-fashioned, I s’pose,” growled the old man,
starting for the mill. “Gals, as well as boys, is lots more expense now
than they used ter be to raise. The ‘three R’s’ was enough for us when I
was young.

“But I won’t stop yer fun. I promised yer Aunt Alviry I wouldn’t,” he
added, with his hand upon the door-latch. “You kin go to that Sunrise
place for a while, if ye want. Yer Aunt Alviry got a trampin’ gal that
came along, ter help her clean house.”

“Oh! and isn’t the girl here now?” asked Ruth, preparing to run back to
dress.

“Nope. She’s gone on. Couldn’t keep her no longer. And my! how that
young ’un could eat! Never saw the beat of her,” added Uncle Jabez as he
clumped out in his heavy boots.

Ruth heard more about “that trampin’ girl” when Aunt Alvirah appeared.
Before that happened, however, the newly returned schoolgirl proved she
had not forgotten how to make a country breakfast.

The sliced corned ham was frying nicely; the potatoes were browning
delightfully in another pan. Fluffy biscuits were ready to take out of
the oven, and the cream was already whipped for the berries and the
coffee.

“Gracious me! child alive!” exclaimed the little old woman, coming
haltingly into the room. “You an’ Jabez air in a conspiracy to spile
me—right from the start. Oh, my back! and oh, my bones!” and she lowered
herself carefully into a chair.

“I did sartain sure oversleep this day. Ben done the chores? An’ ye air
all ready, my pretty? Jest blow the horn, then, and yer uncle will come
in. My! what a smart leetle housekeeper you be, Ruth. School ain’t
spiled ye a mite.”

“Uncle is still afraid it will,” laughed Ruth, kissing the old woman
fondly.

“He only _says_ that,” whispered Aunt Alvirah, with twinkling eyes.
“He’s as proud of ye as he can stick—I know!”

“It—it would be nice, if he said so once in a while,” admitted the girl.

After the hearty breakfast was disposed of and the miller and his hired
man had tramped out again, the old housekeeper and Ruth became more
confidential.

“It sartain sure did please me,” said Aunt Alvirah, “when Jabez let me
take in that trampin’ gal for a week an’ more. He paid her without a
whimper, too. But, she _did_ eat!”

“So he said,” chuckled Ruth.

“Yes. More’n a hired hand in thrashin’ time. I never seen her beat. But
I reckon the poor little thing was plumb starved. They never feed ’em
ha’f enough in them orphan ‘sylums, I don’t s’pect.”

“From an orphanage?” cried Ruth, with sudden interest born of her
remembrance of the mysterious Sadie Raby.

“So I believe. She’d run away, I s’pect. I hadn’t the heart to blame
her. An’ she was close-mouthed as a clam,” declared Aunt Alvirah.

“How did you come to get her?” queried the interested Ruth.

“She walked right up to the door. She’d been travelin’ far—ye could see
that by her shoes, if ye could call ’em shoes. I made her take ’em off
by the fire, an’ then I picked ’em up with the tongs—they was just
pulp—and I pitched ’em onto the ash-heap.

“Well, she stayed that night, o’ course. It was rainin’. Your Uncle
Jabez wouldn’t ha’ turned a dog out in sech weather. But he made me put
her to bed on chairs here.

“It was plain she was delighted to have somebody to talk to—and as that
somebody was ‘her pretty,’ the dear old soul was all the more joyful.

“So, one thing led to another,” pursued Aunt Alvirah, “and I got him to
let me keep her to help rid the house up. You know, you wrote me to wait
till you come home for house-cleanin’. But I worked Jabez Potter
_right_; I know how to manage him,” said she, nodding and smiling.

“And you didn’t know who the girl was?” asked Ruth, still curious.
“Nothing about her at all?”

“Not much. She was short-tongued, I tell ye. But I gathered she had been
an orphan a long time and had lived at an institution.”

“Not even her name?” asked Ruth, at last.

“Oh, yes. She told her name—and it was her true one, I reckon,” Aunt
Alviry said. “It was Sadie Raby.”



CHAPTER VI—SEEKING THE TRAIL


“I might have known that! I might have known it!” Ruth exclaimed when
she heard this. “And if I’d only written you or Uncle Jabez about her,
maybe you would have kept her till I came. I wanted to help that girl,”
and Ruth all but shed tears.

“Deary, deary me!” cried Aunt Alvirah. “Tell me all about it, my
pretty.”

So Ruth related all she knew about the half-wild girl whose acquaintance
she had made at Briarwood Hall under such peculiar circumstances. And
she told just how Sadie looked and all about her.

“Yes,” agreed Aunt Alvirah. “That was the trampin’ gal sure enough. She
was honest, jest as you say. But your uncle had his doubts. However, she
looked better when she went away from here.”

“I’m glad of that,” Ruth said, heartily.

“You know one o’ them old dresses of yours you wore to Miss Cramp’s
school—the one Helen give you?” said old Aunt Alvirah, hesitatingly.

“Yes, indeed!” said Ruth. “And how badly I felt when the girls found out
they were ‘hand-me-downs.’ I’ll never forget them.”

“One of them I fitted to that poor child,” said Aunt Alvirah. “The poor,
skinny little thing. I wisht I could ha’ kep’ her long enough to put
some flesh on her bones.”

Ruth hugged the little old woman. “You’re a dear, Aunty! I bet you fixed
her up nice before she went away.”

“Wal, she didn’t look quite sech a tatterdemalion,” granted Aunt
Alvirah. “But I was sorry for her. I am allus sorry for any young thing
that’s strayin’ about without a home or a mother. But natcherly Jabez
wouldn’t hear to keepin’ her after the cleanin’ was done. It’s his
_nearness_, Ruthie; he can’t help it. Some men chew tobacco, and your
Uncle Jabez is _close_. It’s their nater. I’d ruther have a stingy man
about, than a tobacco chewin’ man—yes, indeed I had!”

Ruth laughed and agreed with her. Yet she was very sorry that Sadie
Raby, “the tramping girl,” had been allowed to move on without those at
the Red Mill, who had sheltered her, discovering her destination.

She learned that Sadie had gone to Cheslow—at least, in that
direction—and when Helen came spinning along in one of her father’s cars
from Outlook that afternoon, and wanted to take Ruth for a drive, the
latter begged to ride “Cheslowward.”

“Besides, we both want to see Dr. Davison—and there’s Mercy’s mother.
And Miss Cramp will be glad to see me, I know; we’ll wait till her
school is out,” Ruth suggested.

“You’re boss,” declared her chum. “And paying calls ‘all by our
lonesomes’ will be fun enough. Tom’s deserted me. He’s gone tramping
with Reno over toward the Wilkins Corner road—you know, that place where
he was hurt that time, and you and Reno found him,” Helen concluded.

This was “harking back” to the very first night Ruth had arrived at
Cheslow from her old home at Darrowtown. But she was not likely to
forget it, for through that accident of Master Tom Cameron’s, she had
met this very dear friend beside her now in the automobile.

“Oh, dear me! and the fun we used to have when we were little
girls—‘member, Ruthie?” demanded Helen, laughing. “My! isn’t it warm? Is
my face shiny?”

“Just a little,” admitted Ruth.

“Never can keep the shine off,” said Helen, bitterly. “Here! you take
the wheel and let me find my powder-paper. Tom says he believes I smoke
cigarettes and roll them myself,” and Helen giggled.

Ruth carefully changed seats with her chum, who immediately produced the
booklet of slips from her vanity case and rubbed the offending nose
vigorously.

“Have a care, Helen! you’ll make it all red,” urged Ruth, laughing. “You
_do_ go at everything so excitedly. Anybody would think you were grating
a nutmeg.”

“Horrid thing! My nose doesn’t look at all like a nutmeg.”

“But it will—if you don’t look out,” laughed Ruth. “Oh, dear, me! here
comes a big wagon. Do you suppose I can get by it safely?”

“If he gives you any room. There! he has begun to turn out. Now, just
skim around him.”

Ruth was careful and slowed down. This did not suit the fly-away Helen.
“Come on!” she urged. “We’ll never even get to the old doctor’s house if
you don’t hurry.”

She began to manipulate the levers herself and soon they were shooting
along the Cheslow road at a speed that made Ruth’s eyes water.

They came safely to the house with the green lamps before it, and ran in
gaily to see their friend, Dr. Davison. For the moment the good old
gentleman chanced to be busy and waved them into the back office to wait
until he was free.

Old Mammy, who presided over the doctor’s old-fashioned establishment,
had spied the girls and almost immediately the tinkling of ice in a
pitcher announced the approach of one of Mammy’s pickaninny
grandchildren with a supply of her famous lemonade and a plate of cakes.

“Mammy said you done git hungery waitin’,” declared the grinning,
kinky-haired child who presented herself with the refreshments. “An’ a
drink on one o’ dese yere dusty days is allus welcome, misses.”

Then she giggled, and darted away to the lower regions of the house,
leaving the two chums to enjoy the goodies. Helen was cheerfully
curious, and had to go looking about the big office, peeking into the
bookcases, looking at the “specimens” in bottles along the shelf, trying
to spell out and understand the Latin labels on the jars of drugs.

“Miss Nosey!” whispered Ruth, admonishingly.

“There you go! hitting my nose again,” sighed Helen. And then she jumped
back and almost screamed. For in fooling with the knob of a narrow
closet door, it had snapped open, the door swung outward, and Helen
found herself facing an articulated skeleton!

“Goodness gracious me!” exclaimed Helen.

“Oh, no,” giggled Ruth. “It’s not you at all. It’s somebody else.”

“Funny!” scoffed Helen. Then she laughed, too. “It’s somebody the
doctor’s awfully choice of. Do you suppose it was his first patient?”

“Hush! Suppose he heard you?”

“He’d laugh,” returned Helen, knowing the kindly old physician too well
to be afraid of him in any case. “Now, behave! Don’t say a word. I’m
going to dress him up.”

“What?” gasped Ruth.

“You’ll see,” said the daring Helen, and she seized an old hat of the
doctor’s from the top of the bookcase and set it jauntily upon the
grinning skull.

“My goodness! doesn’t he look terrible that way? Oh! I’ll shut the door.
He wiggles all over—_just as though he were alive_!”

Just then they heard the doctor bidding his caller good-bye, or Helen
might have done some other ridiculous thing. The old gentleman came in,
rubbing his hands, and with his eyes twinkling. He was a man who had
never really grown old, and he liked to hear the girls tell of their
school experiences, chuckling over their scrapes and antics with much
delight.

“And how has my Goody Two-sticks gotten along this year?” he asked, for
he was much interested in Mercy Curtis and her improvement, both
physically and mentally. Had it not been for the doctor, Mercy might
never have gotten out of her wheelchair, or gone to Briarwood Hall.

“She’s going to beat us all,” Helen declared, with enthusiasm. “Isn’t
she, Ruth?”

“She will if we don’t work pretty hard,” admitted the girl of the Red
Mill, who was hoping herself to be finally among the first few members
of her class at the Hall. “But I would rather see Mercy win first place,
I believe, than anybody else—unless it is you, Helen.”

“Don’t you fret,” laughed Helen. “You’ll never see little me at the head
of the class—and you know it.”

The two friends did not bore the physician by staying too long, but
after he bade them good-bye at the door, Helen ran down the path
giggling.

“What do you suppose he’ll say when he finds that hat on the skeleton?”
she demanded, her eyes dancing.

“He’ll say, ‘That Helen Cameron was in here—that explains it!’ You can’t
fool Dr. Davison,” laughed Ruth.

Ruth had taken Helen into her confidence ere this about the strange
runaway, Sadie Raby, and during their call at the doctor’s, she had
asked that gentleman if he had seen the tramping girl, after the latter
had left the Red Mill. But he had not. Oddly enough, however, Ruth found
some trace of Sadie at Mercy’s house, where the girls in the automobile
next went to call.

Mercy’s mother had taken the girl in for a night, and fed her. The
latter had asked Mr. Curtis about the trains going west, but he had sold
Sadie no ticket.

“She was very reticent,” Mrs. Curtis told Ruth. “She was so independent
and capable-acting, in spite of her tender years, that I did not feel as
though it was my place to try to stop her. She seemed to have some
destination in view, but she would not tell me what it was.”

“I wonder if that wasn’t what Aunt Alvirah meant?” queried Ruth,
thoughtfully, as she and Helen drove away. “That Sadie is awfully
independent. I wish you had seen her.”

“Maybe she’s going to find her twin brothers that she told you about,”
suggested Helen. “I wish I _had_ seen her.”

“And maybe you’ve guessed it!” cried Ruth. “But that doesn’t help us
find _her_, for she didn’t say where Willie and Dickie had been taken
when they were removed from the orphanage.”

“Gracious, Ruthie!” exclaimed her chum, laughing. “You’re always
worrying over somebody else’s troubles.”



CHAPTER VII—WHAT TOM CAMERON SAW


Of course, Ruth was not at all sure that she could do anything for Sadie
Raby if she found her. Perhaps, as Helen said, she was fond of
shouldering other people’s burdens.

It did seem to the girl of the Red Mill as though it were a very
dreadful thing for Sadie to be wandering about the country all alone,
and without means to feed herself, or get anything like proper shelter.

In her secret heart Ruth was thinking that _she_ might have been as wild
and neglected if Uncle Jabez, with all his crankiness, had not taken her
in and given her a home at the Red Mill.

They stopped and saw Ruth’s old school teacher and then, it being past
mid-afternoon, Helen turned the headlights of the car toward home again.
As the machine slid so smoothly along the road toward the Lumano and the
Red Mill, Ruth suddenly uttered a cry and pointed ahead. A huge dog had
leaped out of a side road and stood, barring their way and barking.

“Reno! dear old fellow!” Ruth said, as Helen shut off the power. “He
knows us.”

“Tom must be near, then. That’s the Wilkins Corner road,” Helen
observed.

As the car came to a halt and the big mastiff tried to jump in and
caress the girls with his tongue—poor fellow! he knew no better, though
Helen scolded him—Ruth stood up and shouted for her friend’s twin
brother.

“Tom! Tom! A rescue! a rescue! We’re being eaten up by a great
four-legged beast—get down, Reno! Oh, don’t!”

She fell back in her seat, laughing merrily, and keeping the big dog off
with both hands. A cheery whistle came from the wood. Reno started and
turned to look. He had had his master back for only a day, but Tom’s
word was always law to the big mastiff.

“Down, sir!” sang out Tom Cameron, and then he burst into view.

“Oh, Tom! what a sight you are!” gasped Ruth.

“My goodness me!” exclaimed his sister. “Have you been in a fight?”

“Down, Reno!” commanded her brother again. He came striding toward them.
If he had not been so disheveled, anybody could have seen that, dressed
in his sister’s clothes, and she in his, one could scarcely have told
them apart. A boy and a girl never could look more alike than Tom and
Helen Cameron.

“What has happened to you?” demanded Ruth, quite as anxious as Tom’s own
sister.

“Look like I’d been monkeying with the buzz-saw—eh?” he demanded, but a
little ruefully. “Say! I’ve had a time. If it hadn’t been for Reno——”

“Why, Reno has hurt himself, too!” exclaimed Ruth, hopping out of the
car and for the first time noticing that there was a cake of partially
dried blood on the dog’s shoulder.

“He isn’t hurt much. And neither am I. Only my clothes torn——”

“And your face scratched!” ejaculated Helen.

“Oh—well—_that’s_ nothing. That was an accident. She didn’t mean to do
it.”

“_Who_ didn’t mean to do it? What _are_ you talking about?” screamed his
sister, at last fully aroused. “You’ve been in some terrible danger, Tom
Cameron.”

“No, I haven’t,” returned Tom, beginning to grin again. “Just been
playing the chivalrous knight.”

“And got his face scratched!” tittered Ruth.

“Aw—well—— Now wait! let me tell you,” he began.

“Now he’s going to make excuses,” cried Helen. “You have gotten into
trouble, you reckless boy, and want to make light of it.”

“Gee! I’d like to see _you_ make light of it,” exclaimed Tom, with some
vexation. “If you can make head or tail of it—— And that girl!”

“There he goes again,” said Ruth. “He has got to tell us. It is about a
girl,” and she laughed, teasingly.

“Say! I don’t know which one of you is the worse,” said Tom, ruefully.
“Listen, will you?”

“Go ahead,” said Helen, solemnly.

“Well, Reno and I were hiking along the Wilkins Corner road yonder. It
was just about where your Uncle Jabe’s wagon, Ruth, knocked me down into
the gully that time—remember?”

Ruth nodded.

“Well, I heard somebody scream. It was a girl. Reno began to growl and I
held him back till I located the trouble. There was a campfire down
under that bank and the scream came from that direction.

“‘Go to it, old boy!’ I says, and let Reno go. I had no reason to
believe there was real trouble,” Tom said, wagging his head. “But I
followed him down the bank just the same, for although Reno wouldn’t
bite anybody unless he had to, he does look ugly—to strangers.

“Well, what do you think? There were a couple of tramps at the fire, and
Reno was holding them off from a girl. He showed his teeth all right,
and one of them had his knife out. _He_ was an ugly looking customer.”

“My goodness! a girl?” gasped his sister. “What sort of a looking girl?”

“She wasn’t bad looking,” Tom said. “Younger than us—mebbe twelve, or
so. But she’d been sleeping out in her clothes—you could see she had.
And her face and hands were dirty.

“‘What were they trying to do to you?’ I asked her.

“‘Trying to get my money,’ says she. ‘I ain’t got much, but you bet I
want that little.’

“‘I guess you can keep it,’ I said. ‘But if I were you, I’d hike out of
this.’

“‘I’m going to,’ says she. ‘I’m going just as fast as I can to the
railroad and jump a train. These fellers have been bothering me all day.
I’m glad you came along. Thanks.’

“And with that she started to move off. But the tramps were real ugly,
and one of them jumped for her. I tripped him up,” said Tom, grinning
again now in remembrance of the row, “and then there certainly _was_ a
fuss.”

“Oh, Tom!” murmured Helen.

“Well, I had Reno, didn’t I? The man I tripped fell into the fire, but
was more scared than hurt. But the other fellow—the one with the
knife—slashed at Reno, and cut him.

“Well! you never saw such a girl as that tramping girl was——”

“What’s _that_?” gasped Ruth. “Oh, Helen!”

“It might be Sadie Raby—eh?” queried her chum.

“Hel-lo!” exclaimed Master Tom, turning curious. “What do you girls know
about her? Sadie Raby—that’s what she said her name was.”

“My goodness me! What do you think of that?” cried his sister.

“And where is she now?” demanded Ruth.

“Aw, wait till I tell you all about it,” complained Tom. “You girls take
the wind all out of my sails.”

“All right. Go ahead,” begged his sister.

“So, that Sadie girl, she came back to my help, and when one of the
fellows had me down, and Reno was holding the other by the wrist, she
started to dig into the face of the rascal who held me. And once she
scratched me by mistake,” added Tom, laughing.

“But between us—mostly through Reno’s help—we frightened them off. They
hobbled away through the bushes. Then I took her to the railroad, and
waited at the tank till a train came along and stopped.”

“And put her aboard, Tom!” cried Ruth.

“Yes. It was a freight. I bribed the conductor with two dollars to let
her ride as far as Campton. I knew those two tramps would never catch
her there. Why! what’s the matter?”

“Goodness me!” exclaimed Helen, with disgust. “Doesn’t it take a boy to
spoil everything?”

“Why—what?” began Tom.

“And her name was Sadie Raby?” demanded Ruth.

“That’s what she said.”

“We just wanted to see her, that’s all,” said his sister. “Ruth did,
anyway. And I’d have been glad to help her.”

“Well, I helped her, didn’t I?” demanded Tom, rather doggedly.

“Yes. Just like a boy. What do you suppose is to become of a girl like
her traveling around the country?”

“She seemed to want to get to Campton real bad. I reckon she has folks
there,” said Tom, slowly.

“She’s got no folks—if her story is true,” said Ruth, quietly, “save two
little brothers.”

“And they’re twins, like us, Tom,” said Helen, eagerly. “Oh, dear! it’s
too bad Ruth and I didn’t come across Sadie, instead of you.”

Tom began to laugh at that. “You’d have had a fine time getting her away
from those tramps,” he scoffed. “She didn’t have but a little money, and
they would have stolen that from her if it hadn’t been for Reno and me.”



CHAPTER VIII—TRAVELING TOWARD SUNRISE FARM


Tom Cameron thought a great deal of Ruth, and for that reason alone was
sorry he had not stayed the departure of the runaway girl, Sadie Raby,
from the vicinity of Cheslow. Then, as he thought of it more, and heard
the girls talk about the tramping girl’s circumstances as _they_ knew
them, Tom was even more disturbed.

He and Reno had gotten into the tonneau of the car, which rolled away
toward the Red Mill at a slower pace. He leaned his arms on the back of
the front seat and listened to Ruth’s story of her meeting with Sadie
Raby, and her experience with Sim Perkins, and of her surprise at
finding that Sadie had worked for a while at the Red Mill.

“If we had only been a few days earlier in getting home from school,
there she would have been,” finished Ruth, with a sigh.

“That’s so,” agreed her chum. “And she even stayed night before last
with Mercy’s mother. My! but she’s as elusive as a will-o’-the-wisp.”

“We could telegraph to Campton and have her stopped,” suggested Tom.

“By the police?” demanded his sister.

“Oh! what for?” asked Ruth.

“There! nothing _I_ suggest is any good,” said the boy.

“Not unless you suggest something better than that,” laughed Ruth. “The
poor thing doesn’t need to be arrested. And she might refuse any help we
could give her. She’s very independent.”

“She sure is,” admitted Tom, ruefully.

“And we don’t know _why_ she wanted to go to Campton,” his sister
remarked.

“Nor if she got there safely,” added Ruth.

“Pshaw! if that’s worrying you two, I’ll find out for sure to-morrow,”
quoth Master Tom.

He knew the conductor of the freight train with whom he had entrusted
the strange girl. The next day he went over to the tank at the right
hour and met the conductor again.

“Sure, I got her on to Campton—poor kid,” said the man. “She’s a smart
one, too. When the boys wanted to know who she was, I said she was my
niece, and she nodded and agreed to it. We had a big feed back here in
the hack while she was aboard, and she had her share.”

“But where was she going?” asked Tom.

“Didn’t get much out of her,” admitted the conductor. “But she’d lived
in Harburg, and I reckon she had folks in or near Campton. But I’m not
sure at all.”

This was rather unsatisfactory; but whatever point the strange girl was
journeying to, she had arrived safely at Campton. This Tom told Ruth and
the latter had to be content with this information.

The incident of the runaway girl was two or three days old when Ruth
received a letter from Madge Steele urging them all to come on soon—that
Sunrise Farm was ready for them, and that she was writing all the girls
to start on Monday.

The train would take them to Darrowtown. There a conveyance would meet
and transport the visitors fifteen miles through the country to Mr.
Steele’s big estate.

Mercy Curtis joined the Camerons and Ruth at the Cheslow Station, and on
the train they boarded were Heavy Stone and The Fox. The girls greeted
each other as though they had been separated for a year.

“Never was such a clatter of tongues,” declared the plump girl, “since
the workmen struck on the tower of Babel. Here we are—off for the
sunrise—and traveling due west. How do you make that out?”

“That’s easy—anybody could see it with half an eye,” said The Fox.

“Half an eye, eh?” demanded Heavy. “And Cyclops had a whole one. Say!
did you hear about the boy in school who was asked by his teacher (he
must have been in Tommy’s class) ‘Who was Cyclops?’ He was a bright boy.
He answered: ‘The man who wrote the encyclopædia.’ The association of
ideas was something fierce—eh?”

“Dear me, Jennie,” admonished The Fox, “you are getting slangier every
day.”

“Never mind; I’m not losing flesh over it. Don’t you,” returned the
careless “heavyweight.”

It was a long, but not a tedious, ride to Darrowtown. The young folk had
left Cheslow just before dark, and their sleeper was sidetracked at the
end of the journey, some time in the very early morning. When Ruth first
opened her eyes she could scarcely—for the moment—think where she was.

Then she peered out of the narrow window above her berth and saw a
section of the railroad yard and one side of Railroad Avenue beyond. The
right of way split Darrowtown in two halves and there were grade
crossings at the intersections of the principal cross streets.

Long as she had been away from the place, the girl recognized the houses
and the stores, and every other landmark she could see. No further sleep
for her, although it was scarcely dawn.

She hopped softly out of the berth, disturbed none of her companions or
even the porter nodding in his corner, and dressed hurriedly. She made
her toilette and then went into the vestibule and from thence climbed
down to the cinder path.

There was an opening in the picket fence, and she slipped through in a
moment. Dear old Darrowtown! Ruth’s heart throbbed exultantly and she
smiled, although there were tears in her eyes.

There was the Brick Church on the corner. The pastor and his wife had
been so kind to her! And up this next street was the way to the quiet
cemetery where her father and mother were buried. Ruth turned her steps
in that direction first of all.

The sun came up, red and jovial; the birds twittered and sang in the
great maples along the way; even in the graveyard a great flock of
blackbirds “pumped” and squeaked in noisy, joyous chorus.

The dew sparkled on leaf and bush, the flowers were fragrant, the cool
breeze fanned her cheek, and the bird chorus rose higher and higher. How
could one be sad long on such a beautiful, God-made morning?

Impossible! Ruth plucked a spray of a flowering shrub for both graves,
and laid them on the mounds tenderly, with a little prayer. Here slept
the dead peacefully, and God had raised her up many, many friends!

The early chimneys were smoking in the suburbs of the town. A
screen-door slammed now and then. One man whom she knew slightly, but
who did not remember her, was currying his horse in an alley by his
stable. Mrs. Barnsworth, notably the smartest housewife in Darrowtown,
was starting already with her basket for market—and woe be to the grocer
or marketman if the shops were not open when she arrived!

Stray cats ran along the back fences. A dog ran out of a yard to bark at
Ruth, but then thought better of it and came to be patted instead.

And then, suddenly, she came in sight of the back garden of Miss True
Pettis!

It was with that kind-hearted but peculiar spinster lady that Ruth had
lived previous to being sent to the Red Mill. Miss Pettis was the
neighborhood seamstress and, as she often had told Ruth, she worked hard
“with both tongue and needle” for every dollar she earned.

For Miss True Pettis had something more than dressmaking to do when she
went out “by the day” to cut and fit and run the sewing machine.
Darrowtown folk expected that the seamstress should have all the latest
gossip at her tongue’s end when she came to sew!

Now, Miss True Pettis often laid down the law. “There’s two kinds of
gossip. One the Bible calls the seventh abomination, an’ I guess that’s
right. But for shut-in folks like most housekeepers in Darrowtown, a
dish of harmless gossip is more inspiritin’ than a bowl of boneset tea!

“Lemme have somethin’ new to tell folks about folks—that’s all. But it
must be somethin’ kind,” Miss Pettis declared. “No backbitin’, or church
scandal, or neighborhood rows. If Si Lumpkin’s cat has scratched
Amoskeag Lanfell’s dog, let the cat and the dog fight it out, I say; no
need for Si and Amoskeag, who have been friends and neighbors for years
an’ years, gettin’ into a ruction over it.

“I never take sides in any controversy—no, ma’am! If ye can’t say a good
word for a neighbor, don’t say nothin’ to _me_. That’s what I tell ’em.
But if ye know anythin’ good about ’em, or they’ve had any streak o’
good luck, or the like, tell me. For the folks in this town—‘specially
the wimmen folks that don’t git out much—is just a-honin’ for news, and
True Pettis, when she goes out by the day, has gotter have a full and
plenty supply of it.”

Ruth, smiling quietly to herself, remembered how the thin, sallow, quick
spoken lady looked when she said all this. Miss Pettis’s eyes were black
and snapping; her nose was a beak; she bit off threads as though her
temper was biting, too. But Ruth knew better. A kinder-hearted mortal
never lived than the little old seamstress.

Now the visitor ran across the garden—neatly bedded and with graveled
paths in which the tiniest weed dared not show its head—and reached the
kitchen porch. Miss Pettis was always an early riser, and the smoke of
her chimney was now only a faint blue column rising into the clear air.

Yes! there was a rattle of dishes in the kitchen. Ruth tiptoed up the
steps. Then she—to her amazement—heard somebody groan. The sound was
repeated, and then the seamstress’s voice murmured:

“Oh, dear, oh, dear! Oh, dear, oh, dear! whatever shall I do——”

Ruth, who had intended opening the door softly and announcing that she
had come to breakfast, forgot all about the little surprise she was bent
on giving Miss Pettis. Now she peered fearfully in at the nearest
window.

Miss Pettis was just sitting down in her rocker, and she rocked to and
fro, holding one hand with the other, continuing to groan.

“Oh, dear, me!” cried Ruth, bursting in at the door. “What in the world
is the matter, my dear?”

“It’s that dratted felon—— Why, Ruthie Fielding! Did you drop from the
sky, or pop up out o’ the ground? I never!”

The dressmaker got up quickly, but struck her hand against the
chair-arm. Instantly she fell back with a scream, and Ruth feared she
had fainted. A felon is a terribly painful thing!

Ruth ran for a glass of water, but before she could sprinkle any of it
on Miss Pettis’ pale face the lady’s eyes opened and she exclaimed:

“Don’t drop any of that on my dress, child—it’ll spot. I’m all right
now. My mercy! how that hurt.”

“A felon, Miss Pettis? How very dreadful,” cried Ruth, setting down the
glass of water.

“And I ain’t been able to use my needle for a week, and the
dishwashin’—well, it jest about kills me to put my hands in water. You
can see—the sight this kitchen is.”

“Now, isn’t it lucky that I came this morning—and came so early, too?”
cried Ruth. “I was going to take breakfast with you. Now I’ll get the
breakfast myself and fix up the house—— Oh, yes, I shall! I’ll send word
down to the hotel to my friends—they’ll take breakfast there—and we can
have a nice visit, Miss True,” and Ruth very carefully hugged the thin
shoulders of the seamstress, so as not to even jar the felon on her
right fore-finger.



CHAPTER IX—THE SUNRISE COACH


Ruth was determined to have her way, and really, after one has suffered
with a felon for a week, one is in no shape to combat the determination
of as strong a character as that of the girl of the Red Mill!

At least, so Miss True Pettis found. She bowed to Ruth’s mandate, and
sat meekly in the rocking chair while that young lady bustled about,
made the toast, poached eggs, made a pot of the kind of tea the spinster
liked, and just as she liked it—— Oh, Ruth had not forgotten all her
little ways, although she had been gone so long from the seamstress’s
tiny cottage here in Darrowtown.

All the time, she was as cheerful as a bluebird—and just as chatty as
one, too! She ran out and caught a neighbor’s boy, and sent him
scurrying down to the sidetracked sleeping car with a note to Helen. The
rest of the crowd expected at Sunrise Farm would arrive on an early
morning train on the other road, and both parties were to meet for
breakfast at the Darrowtown Inn.

The vehicle to transport them to the farm, however, was not expected
until ten o’clock.

Therefore, Ruth insisted, she had plenty of time to fix up the house for
Miss Pettis. This she proceeded to do.

“I allus _did_ say you was the handiest youngun that ever was born in
Darrowtown,” said the seamstress, with a sigh of relief, as Ruth,
enveloped in a big apron, set to work.

Ruth did more than wash dishes, and sweep, and clean, and scrub. All the
time she told Miss Pettis about her life at the Red Mill, and her life
at the boarding school, and of many and various things that had happened
to her since, two years before, she had gone away from Darrowtown to
take up her new life with Uncle Jabez.

Not that she had not frequently written to Miss Pettis; but one cannot
write the particulars that can be told when two folks are “gossiping.”
Miss True Pettis had not enjoyed herself—felon and all!—so much for ages
as she did that forenoon.

And she would have a long and interesting story to tell regarding “Mary
Fielding’s little girl” when again she took up her work of going out by
the day and bringing both her nimble needle and her nimble tongue into
the homes of the busy Darrowtown housewives.

On the other hand, Miss Pettis told Ruth all the news of her old home;
and although the girl from the Red Mill had no time then to call upon
any other of her one-time friends—not even Patsy Hope—she finally went
away feeling just as though she had met them all again. For little of
value escaped Miss Pettis, and she had told it all.

The Brick Church clock was striking ten when Ruth ran around the corner
and came in sight of the Darrowtown Inn. There was a crowd of girls and
boys on the porch, and before it stood a great, shiny yellow coach,
drawn by four sleek horses.

“Bobbins” himself—Madge Steele’s big, white-haired brother, who attended
the military academy with Tom Cameron, was already on the coachman’s
seat, holding the reins in most approved style. Beside him sat a man in
livery, it was true; but Bob himself was going to drive the
four-in-hand.

“Isn’t that scrumptious, Ruth?” demanded Belle Tingley, one of those who
had arrived on the other railroad. “Where have you been all the time?
Helen was worried for fear you wouldn’t get here.”

“And here’s Ralph!” exclaimed Ruth, heartily shaking hands with one of
Belle’s brothers. “I’m all right. I used to live here in Darrowtown, you
know, and I was making calls. And here is Isadore!”

“Oh, I say, Ruth!” exclaimed the chap in knickerbockers, who was so
sharp and curious that he was always called “Busy Izzy” Phelps. “Where
have you been all the time? We were going to send a searching party
after you.”

“You needn’t mind, sir. I can find my way around a bit yet,” laughed
Ruth.

“All ready, now!” exclaimed Bob, importantly, from the high seat. “Can’t
keep these horses standing much longer.”

“All right, little boy,” said his sister, marshaling the girls down the
steps of the hotel. “Don’t you be impatient.”

“It’s the horses,” he complained. “See that nigh leader beginning to
dance?”

“Tangoing, I suppose?—or is it the hesitation?” laughed Lluella Fairfax.
“May anybody sit up there beside you, Mr. Bob?”

“I’m afraid not. But there’s room on top of the coach for all of you, if
you’ll crowd a bit.”

“Me behind with the horn!” cried Tom, swinging himself up into the
little seat over the luggage rack.

“Now, girls, there are some steep places on the road,” said Madge. “If
any of you feel nervous, I advise you to come inside with me.”

“Ha!” ejaculated Heavy. “It’s not my nerves that keep me from climbing
up on that thing—don’t think it. But I’ll willingly join you, Madge,”
and the springs creaked, while the girls laughed, as Heavy entered the
coach.

They were all quickly seated—the boys of course riding on the roof.
Ruth, Helen, Lluella and Belle occupied the seat directly behind the
driver. Jane Ann Hicks, who had been spending the intervening week since
school closed with Heavy, and would return to Montana after their
sojourn at Sunrise Farm, was the only other girl who ventured to ride
a-top the coach.

“All ready?” sang out Bobbins, with a backward glance.

Tom put the long silver horn to his lips and blew a blast that startled
the Darrowtown echoes, and made the frisky nigh leader prance again. Bob
curled the long lash of the yellow whip over the horses’ ears, and at
the crack of it all four plunged forward.

There was a crowd to see the party off. Darrowtown had not become
familiar with the Steeles’ yellow coach. In fact, there were not many
wealthy men’s estates around the town as yet, and such “goings-on” as
this coaching party of girls and boys was rather startling to the staid
inhabitants of Darrowtown.

The road through the town proper was very good, and the heavy coach
wheels rolled over it smoothly. As soon as they reached the suburbs,
however, the way was rough, and the horses began to climb, for
Darrowtown was right at the foot of the hills, on the very highest of
which Sunrise Farm lay.

There were farms here and there along the way, but there was a great
deal of rough country, too. Although it was a warm day, those on top of
the coach were soon well shaded by the trees. The road wound through a
thick piece of wood, where the broad-branched trees overhung the way
and—sometimes—almost brushed the girls from their seats.

“Low bridge!” called Bobbins, now and again, and they would all squeal
and stoop while the leafy branches brushed above them.

Bobbins had been practicing a good deal, so as to have the honor of
driving his friends home from Darrowtown, and they all praised him for
being so capable.

As for Tom, he grew red in the face blowing that horn to warn the foxes
in the hills and the rabbits in the bushes that they were coming.

“You look out, Tommy!” advised Madge from below. “You’ll blow yourself
all away tooting so much, and goodness knows, we don’t want any accident
before luncheon. Mother is expecting all manner of things to happen to
us after we get to the farm; but I promised faithfully I’d bring you all
home to one o’clock luncheon in perfect order.”

“A whole lot you’ve got to do with it,” grunted Busy Izzy, ungallantly.
“It’s Bobbins that’s doing the chief work.”

Three hours to Sunrise Farm, yet it was only fifteen miles. The way was
not always uphill, but the descents were as hard to get over as the
rising ground, and the coach rolled and shook a good deal over the
rougher places.

Bye and bye they began to look down into the valleys from the steeps the
horses climbed. At one place was a great horseshoe curve, around which
the four steeds rattled at a smart pace, skirting a precipice, the depth
of which made the girls shriek again.

“I never did see such a road,” complained Lluella.

“We saw worse at Silver Ranch—didn’t we, Ann?” demanded Ruth of the
Montana girl.

“Well, this is bad enough, I should hope,” said Belle Tingley. “Lucky
there is a good brake on this coach. Where’d we be——?”

As it chanced, the coach had just pitched over the brow of another
ridge. Bob had been about to point out proudly the white walls of the
house at Sunrise Farm which surmounted the next hill.

But there had been a rain within a week, and a hard one. Right here
there was a small washout in the road, and Bob overlooked it. He did not
swerve the trotting horses quickly enough, and the nigh fore-wheel
dropping into this deep, deep rut.

It is true Bob became a little excited. He yelled “Whoa!” and yanked
back on the lines, for the nigh leader had jumped. The girls screamed as
the coach came to an abrupt stop.

The four horses were jerked back by the sudden stoppage; then,
frightened, they all leaped forward together.

“Whoa, there!” yelled Bob again, trying to hold them in. Something broke
and the nigh leader swung around until he was at right angles with his
team-mate.

The leader had snapped a tug; he forced his mate over toward the far
side of the road; and there the ground broke away, abruptly and steeply,
for many, many yards to the bottom of the hill.

There was neither fence, nor ditch, to guard passengers on the road from
catastrophe.



CHAPTER X—“TOUCH AND GO”


As it chanced, Mr. Steele’s groom, who had been sent with the coach and
who sat beside Bob, was on the wrong side to give any assistance at this
crucial moment. To have jumped from the seat threatened to send him
plunging down the undefended hillside—perhaps with the coach rolling
after him!

For some seconds it did seem as though the horses would go down in a
tangle and drag the coach and its occupants after them.

Bob was doing his best with the reins, but the frisky nigh leader was
dancing and plunging, and forcing his mate off the firm footing of the
road. Indeed, the latter animal was already slipping over the brink.

“Get him!” yelled Bob, meaning the horse that had broken the trace and
had stirred up all the trouble.

But who was to “get him”? That was the difficulty. The groom could not
climb over the young driver to reach the ground.

There was at least one quick-witted person aboard the Sunrise coach in
this “touch and go” emergency. Ruth was not afraid of horses. She had
not been used to them, like Ann Hicks, all her life, but she was the
person now in the best position to help Bob.

To reach the ground on the nigh side of the coach Ann Hicks would have
to climb over a couple of boys. Ruth was on that end of the seat and she
swung herself off smartly, and landed firmly on the road.

“Look out, Ruth!” shrieked her chum, “you’ll be killed!”

Ruth had no intention of getting near the heels of the horse that had
broken its harness. She darted around to his head and seized his bridle.
His mate was already scattering gravel down the hillside as he plunged.

Ruth, paying no attention to the shrieks of the girls or the commands of
the groom and the boys, jerked the nigh horse’s head around, and so gave
his mate a chance to obtain firm footing again. She instantly led both
horses toward the inside of the road.

Tom was off his perch by now and had dashed forward to her aid. Amid the
gabble of the others, they seemed the only two cool persons in the
party.

“Oh! hold them tight, Tom!” cried his sister. “Don’t let them run.”

“Pshaw! they don’t want to run,” growled Bobbins.

The groom climbed carefully over him and leaped down into the road. Tom
was looking at Ruth with shining eyes.

“You’re the girl for me, Ruthie,” he whispered in a sudden burst of
enthusiasm. “I never saw one like you. You always have your wits about
you.”

Ruth smiled and blushed. A word of approbation from Tom Cameron was
sweeter to her than the praise of any other of her young friends. She
gave him a grateful look, and then turned back to the coach, where the
girls were still as excited as a swarm of bees.

They all wanted to get down into the road, until Madge positively
forbade it, and Ruth swung herself up to her seat again.

“You can’t do any good down there, and you’d only be in the way,” Madge
said. “And the danger’s over now.”

“Thanks to Ruthie!” added Helen, squeezing her chum.

“Oh, you make too much fuss about it,” said Ruth. “I just grabbed the
bridle.”

“Yes,” said Mercy, from inside. “I thought I’d need my aeroplanes to fly
with, when that horse began to back over the edge of the hill. You’re a
good child, Ruthie. I always said so.”

The others had more or less to say about Ruth’s action and she was glad
to turn the conversation to some other subject.

Meanwhile the groom had mended the harness, and now he and Tom led the
leaders to straighten out the team, and the four horses threw themselves
into their collars and jerked the coach-wheel out of the gutter.

The trouble had delayed them but slightly, and soon Tom was cheerfully
winding the horn, and the horses were rattling down a more gentle
descent into the last valley.

From this to the top of the hill on which the Steele home stood was a
steady ascent and the horses could not go rapidly. Bob and Madge pointed
out the objects of interest as they rolled along—the farmhouses that
were to be torn down, the fences already straightened, and the dykes and
walls on which Mr. Steele’s men were at work.

“When this whole hill is father’s, you’ll see some farm,” crowed
Bobbins.

“But whose place is _that?_” demanded one of the girls, behind him,
suddenly.

The coach had swung around a turn in the road where a great, bald rock
and a border of trees on the right hand, hid all that lay beyond on this
gentle slope. The other girls cried out at the beauty of the scene.

A gable-roofed farmhouse, dazzlingly white, with green blinds, stood end
to the road. There were great, wide-branched oaks all about it. The sod
was clipped close and looked like velvet. Yet the surroundings of the
homestead were rather wild, as though Nature had scarcely been disturbed
by the hand of man since the original clearing was made here in the
hillside forest.

There were porches, and modern buildings and “ells” added to the great
old house, but the two huge chimneys, one at either end, pronounced the
building to be of the architecture of the earliest settlers in this
section of the State.

There were beds of old-fashioned flowers; there was a summerhouse on the
lawn, covered with vines; altogether it was a most beautiful and “homey”
looking place.

“Whose place is it?” repeated the questioner.

“Oh, that? Caslon’s,” grunted Bob. “He’s the chap who won’t sell out to
father. Mean old thing.”

“Why, it’s a love of an old place!” exclaimed Helen.

“Yes. It is the one house father was going to let stand on the hill
beside our own. You see, we wanted to put our superintendent in it.”

Just then an old gentleman came out of the summer house. He was a
portly, gray mustached, bald-headed man, in clean linen trousers and a
white shirt with a short, starched bosom. He wore no collar or necktie,
but looked clean and comfortable. He smiled at the young people on the
coach jovially.

Behind him stood a motherly lady some years his junior. She was buxom
and smiling, too.

Bobbins jerked his head around and snapped his whip over the leaders’
ears. “These are the people,” he said.

“Who?” asked Belle Tingley.

“The Caslons.”

“But they’re real nice looking people,” Helen exclaimed, in wonder.

“Well, they’re a thorn—or a pair of thorns—in my father’s flesh. You’d
better not boost them before him.”

“And they don’t want to sell their old home?” queried Ruth, softly. Then
to herself, she whispered: “And who could blame them? I wouldn’t sell
it, either, if it were mine.”



CHAPTER XI—TOBOGGANING IN JUNE


The four horses climbed briskly after that and brought the yellow coach
to an old stone gateway. At the end of the Caslon farm the stone wall
had begun, and now it stretched ahead, up over the rise, as far as
anything was to be seen. Indeed, it seemed to melt right into the sky.

Bobbins turned the leaders’ noses in at the gateway. Already it was
shown that the new owner had begun to improve the estate. The driveway
was an example of what road-making should be—entirely different from the
hap-hazard work done on the country roads.

There were beautiful pastures on either hand, all fenced in with
wire—“horse high, bull strong, and pig tight,” as Bobbins explained,
proudly. There were horses in one pasture and a herd of cows in another.
Beyond, sheep dotted a rocky bit of the hillside, and the thin, sweet
“baa-as” of the lambs came to their ears as the coach rolled on.

The visitors were delighted. Every minute they saw something to exclaim
over. A pair of beautifully spotted coach dogs raced down the drive, and
cavorted about the coach, eagerly welcoming them.

When they finally topped the hill and came out upon the tableland on
which the house and the main buildings of Sunrise Farm stood, they
received a welcome indeed.

There was a big farm bell hung to a creaking arm in the water-tower
beside the old colonial dwelling. The instant the leaders’ ears topped
the rise, and while yet the coach was a long way off, several youngsters
swung themselves on the bell-rope, and the alarm reverberated across the
hills and valleys in no uncertain tone.

Beside this, a cannon that was something bigger than a toy, “spoke”
loudly on the front lawn, and a flag was run up the pole set here in a
prominent place before the house. Mr. and Mrs. Steele stood on the broad
veranda, between the main pillars, to receive them, and when the coach
drew up with a flourish, the horde of younger Steeles—Madge’s and Bob’s
brothers and sisters, whom the big sister called “steel filings”—charged
around from the bell-tower. There were four or five of the younger
children, all seemingly about of an age, and they made as much confusion
as an army.

“Welcome to Sunrise, girls and boys,” said Mr. Steele, who was a short,
brisk, chubby man, with an abrupt manner, but with an unmistakably kind
heart, or he would not have sanctioned the descent of this horde of
young folk upon the place. “Welcome to Sunrise! We want you all to have
a good time here. The place is open to you, and all Mother Steele begs
is that you will not break your necks or get into any other serious
trouble.”

Mrs. Steele was much taller than her husband; it was positive that Madge
and Bobbins got their height from her side of the family. All the
younger Steele seemed chubby and round like their father.

Everybody seemed so jolly and kind that it was quite surprising to see
how the faces of both Mother and Father Steele, as well as their
children, changed at the long lunch table, half an hour later, when the
name of Caslon, the neighboring farmer, was mentioned.

“What d’ye think they have been telling me at the stables, Pa?” cried
Bobbins, when there was a lull in the conversation so that he could be
heard from his end of the table to his father’s seat.

“I can’t say. What?” responded Mr. Steele.

“About those Caslons. What do you suppose they’re going to do now?”

“Ha!” exclaimed the gentleman, his face darkening. “Nothing you have
heard could surprise me.”

“I bet this does,” chuckled Bob. “They are going to take a whole raft of
fresh air kids to board. What do you know about that? Little ragamuffins
from some school, or asylum, or hospital, or something. Won’t they make
a mess all over this hill?”

“Ha! he’s done that to spite me,” exclaimed Mr. Steele. “But I’ll post
my line next to his, and if those young ones trespass, I’ll see what my
lawyer in Darrowtown can do about it.”

“It shows what kind of people those Caslons are,” said Mrs. Steele, with
a sigh. “Of course, they know such a crowd of children will be very
annoying to the neighbors.”

“And we’re the only neighbors,” added Bob.

“Seems to me,” said Madge, slowly, “that I have heard the Caslons always
_do_ take a bunch of fresh air children in the summer.”

“Oh, I fancy he is doing it this year just to spite us,” said her
father, shortly. “But I’ll show him——”

He became gloomy, and a cloud seemed to fall upon the whole table for
the remainder of the meal. It was evident that nothing the neighboring
farmer could do would be looked upon with favorable eyes by the Steeles.

Ruth did not comment upon the situation, as some of the other girls did
out of hearing of their hosts. It _did_ seem too bad that the Steeles
should drag this trouble with a neighbor into the public eye so much.

The girl of the Red Mill could not help but remember the jovial looking
old farmer and his placid wife, and she felt sure they were not people
who would deliberately annoy their neighbors. Yet, the Steeles had taken
such a dislike to the Caslons it was evident they could see no good in
the old farmer and his wife.

The Steeles had come directly from the city and had brought most of
their servants with them from their city home. They had hired very few
local men, even on the farm. Therefore they were not at all in touch
with their neighbors, or with any of the “natives.”

Mr. Steele was a city man, through and through. He had not even lived in
the country when he was a boy. His own children knew much more about
out-of-doors than he, or his wife.

The host was a very successful business man, had made money of late
years, and wished to spend some of his gains now in laying out the
finest “gentleman’s farm” in that quarter of the State. To be balked
right at the start by what he called “a cowhide-booted old Rube” was a
cross that Mr. Steele could not bear with composure.

The young folks, naturally (save Ruth), were not much interested in the
controversy between their hosts and the neighboring farmer. There was
too much fun going on for both girls and boys to think of much beside.

That afternoon they overran the house and stables, numbered the sheep,
watched the tiny pigs and their mothers in the clover-lot, were
delighted with the colts that ran with their mothers in the paddock,
played with the calves, and got acquainted in general with the livestock
of Sunrise Farm.

“Only we haven’t goats,” said Bobbins. “I’ve been trying to get father
to buy some Angoras. Old Caslon has the best stock anywhere around, and
father says he won’t try to buy of _him_. I’d like to send off for a
good big billy-goat and turn him into Caslon’s back pasture. I bet
there’d be a fight, for Caslon’s got a billy that’ll chase you just as
soon as he’d wink.”

“We’d better keep out of _that_ pasture, then,” laughed one of the
girls.

“Oh, father’s forbidden us trespassing on Caslon’s land. We’d like to
catch him on _our_ side of the line, that’s all!”

“Who—Mr. Caslon, or the billy?” asked Tom, chuckling.

“Either one,” said Bob, shaking his head threateningly.

Everyone was in bed early that night, for all were tired; but the boys
had a whispered colloquy before they went to sleep in their own big room
at the top of the house, and Bob tied a cord to his big toe and weighted
the other end so that it would drop out of the window and hang just
about head-high above the grass.

The first stableman up about the place ran over from the barns and gave
Master Bob’s cord a yank, according to instructions, and pretty nearly
hauled that ingenious chap out of bed before the eastern sky was even
streaked with light.

“Gee! have we got to get up now?” demanded Busy Izzy, aroused, as were
the other boys, by Bobbins dancing about the floor and rubbing his toe.
“Somebody has been foolin’ you—it’s nowheres near morning.”

“Bet a dog jumped up and bit that string you hung out of the window,”
chuckled Tom Cameron.

He looked at his watch and saw that it really was after four o’clock.

“Come on, then!” Tom added, rolling Ralph Tingley out of bed. “We must
do as we said, and surprise the girls.”

“Sh!” commanded Bobbins. “No noise. We want to slide out easy.”

With much muffled giggling and wrestling, they dressed and made their
way downstairs. The maids were just astir.

The boys had something particular to do, and they went to work at it
very promptly, under Tom Cameron’s leadership. Behind one of the farther
barns was a sharp, but smooth slope, well sodded, which descended to the
line of the farm that adjoined Mr. Caslon’s. There, at the bottom, the
land sloped up again to the stone wall that divided the two estates.

It was a fine place for a slide in winter, somebody had said; but Tom’s
quick wit suggested that it would be a good place for a slide in summer,
too! And the boys had laid their plans for this early morning job
accordingly.

Before breakfast they had built a dozen barrel-stave toboggans—each long
enough to hold two persons, if it was so desired.

Tom and Bobbins tried them first and showed the crowd how fine a slide
it really was down the long, grassy bank. The most timid girl in the
crowd finally was convinced that it was safe, and for several hours, the
shrieks of delight and laughter from that hillside proved that a sport
out of season was all the better appreciated because it was novel.

Over the broad stone wall was the pasture in which Caslon kept his flock
of goats. Beautiful, long-haired creatures they were, but the solemn old
leader of the flock stamped his feet at the curious girls and boys who
looked over the wall, and shook his horns.

Somewhere, along by the boundary of the two estates, Bob said there was
a spring, and Ruth and Helen slipped off by themselves to find it. A
wild bit of brush pasture soon hid them from the view of their friends,
and as they went over a small ridge and down into the deeper valley, the
laughter and shouting of those at the slide gradually died away behind
them.

The girls had to cross the stone wall to get at the spring, and they did
not remember that in doing so they were “out of bounds.” Bob had said
nothing about the spring being on the Caslon side of the boundary.

Once beside the brook, Helen must needs explore farther. There were
lovely trees and flowering bushes, and wild strawberries in a small
meadow that lured the two girls on. They were a long way from the stone
fence when, of a sudden, a crashing in the bushes behind them brought
both Ruth and Helen to their feet.

“My! what’s that?” demanded Helen.

“Sounds like some animal.”

Ruth’s remark was not finished.

“The goat! it’s the old billy!” sang out Helen, and turned to run as the
horned head of the bewhiskered leader of the Angora herd came suddenly
into view.



CHAPTER XII—A NUMBER OF INTRODUCTIONS


“We must run, Ruthie!” Helen declared, instantly. “Now, there’s no use
in our trying to face down that goat. Discretion is the better part of
valor—— Oh!”

The goat just then shook his horns and charged. Ruth was not much behind
her chum. She saw before Helen, however, that they were running right
away from the Steele premises.

“We’re getting deeper and deeper into trouble, Helen,” she panted.
“Don’t you _see?_”

“I can’t see much. Oh! there’s a tree we can both climb, I am sure.”

“But I don’t want to climb a tree,” objected Ruth.

“All right. You stay down and play tag with Mr. Billy Goat. Me for the
high and lofty!” and she sprang up as she spoke and clutched the low
limb of a widely branching cedar.

“I’ll never leave my pal!” Ruth declared, giggling, and jumping for
another limb.

Both girls had practiced on the ladders in the school gymnasium and they
quickly swung themselves up into the tree. The goat arrived almost on
the instant, too. At once he leaped up with his fore-feet against the
bole of the tree.

“My goodness me!” gasped Helen. “He’s going to climb it, too.”

“You know goats _can_ climb. They’re very sure-footed,” said her chum.

“I know all that,” admitted Helen. “But I didn’t suppose they could
climb trees.”

The goat gave up _that_ attempt, however, very soon. He had no idea, it
seemed, of going away and leaving his treed victims in peace.

He paced around and around the cedar, casting wicked glances at the
girls’ dangling feet, and shaking his horns in a most threatening way.
What he would do to them if he got a chance would “be a-plenty,” Helen
declared.

“Don’t you suppose he’ll get tired, bye and bye?” queried her chum,
despondently.

“He doesn’t look as though he ever got wearied,” returned Helen. “What a
savage looking beast he is! And such whiskers!”

“I wouldn’t make fun of him,” advised Ruth, timidly. “I believe he
understands—and it makes him madder! Oh! see him!”

Mr. Goat, impatient of the delay, suddenly charged the tree and banged
against it with his horns in a desperate attempt to jar down the girls
perched above.

“Oh, the foolish billy!” cooed Helen. “We’re not ripe enough to drop off
so easily. But he thinks we are.”

“You can laugh,” complained Ruth. “But I don’t think this is much fun.”

“Not for the goat, anyway. He is getting so angry that he may have
apoplexy. Let’s shout. Maybe the boys will hear us.”

“Not ‘way down here, I fear,” returned Ruth. “We can’t hear a sound from
_them_. But let’s try.”

They raised their voices in unison, again and again. But there came no
reply, save that a number of Mr. Billy Goat’s lady friends came trooping
through the brush and looked up at the girls perched so high above them.

“Bla-a-a-t! bla-a-a-at!” quoth the chorus of nannies.

“The same to you, and many of them!” replied Helen, bowing politely.

“Look out! you’ll fall from the limb,” advised Ruth, much worried.

“And what a fall would then be there, my countrymen!” sighed Helen.
“Say, Ruth! did you ever notice before what an expressive countenance a
goat has? Now, Mr. Billy, here, looks just like a selectman of a country
school board—long whiskers and all.”

“You stop making fun of him,” declared Ruth, shaking her head. “I tell
you it makes him mad.”

  “Goaty, goaty, go away,
  Come again some other day,
  Ruthie and Helen want to get down and play!”

sang Helen Cameron, with a most ridiculous expression.

“We’ll never get down unless somebody comes to drive that beast away,”
cried Ruth, in disgust.

“And I bet nobody comes over to this end of the farm for days at a
time.”

“That’s it! keep on! make it just as bad as you can,” groaned Ruth. “Do
you know it will soon be luncheon time, Helen?”

“But that won’t bother Mr. Goat. He hopes to lunch off us, I guess.”

“But we can’t stay here, Helen!” cried Ruth, in despair.

“You have my permission to hop right down, my dear, and make the closer
acquaintance of Sir Capricornus, and all the harem. Ex-cuse me! I think
after due consideration I will retain my lofty perch—— Ugh!”

“You came pretty near slipping off that time!” exclaimed Ruth. “I
wouldn’t be too funny, if I were you.”

“Maybe you are right,” agreed her friend, in a more subdued tone. “Dear
me! let us call again, Ruth!”

So both girls again raised their voices. This time there was a response,
but not from the direction of the stone wall they had crossed to reach
the spring.

“Hello!” called a jovial sounding voice. “Hello up there!”

“Hello yourself!” shouted Helen. “Oh, do, _do_ come and drive away these
awful goats.”

There was a hearty laugh at this reply, and then a man appeared. Ruth
had guessed his identity before ever he came in view. It was the portly
Mr. Caslon.

“Well, well, my dears! how long have you been roosting up there?” he
demanded, laughing frankly at them. “Get out, you rascal!”

This he said to the big goat, who started for him with head lowered. Mr.
Caslon leaped nimbly to one side and whacked the goat savagely across
the back with his knobby stick. The goat kept right on down the
hillside, evidently having had enough of _that_ play, and the nannies
followed, bleating.

“You can come down now, young ladies,” said the farmer. “But I wouldn’t
come over into this pasture to play much. The goats don’t like
strangers.”

“We had no business to come here at all, but we forgot,” explained Ruth,
when both she and her chum had descended from the tree. “We were warned
not to come over on this side of the line.”

“Oh, indeed? you’re from up on the hill-top?” he asked.

“We are visiting Madge Steele—yes,” said Helen, looking at him
curiously.

“Ah! I saw all you young folk going by yesterday. You should have a fine
time about here,” said the farmer, smiling broadly. “And, aside from the
temper of the goats, I don’t mind you all coming over here on my land if
you like.”

The girls thanked him warmly for rescuing them from their predicament,
and then ran up the hill to put the stone wall between them and the
goats before there was more trouble.

“I like him,” said Helen, referring to Mr. Caslon.

“So do I,” agreed Ruth. “And it’s too bad that Mr. Steele and he do not
understand each other.”

Although their escapade with the goats was a good joke—and a joke worth
telling to the crowd—Ruth decided that it would be just as well to say
nothing about it, and she told Helen so.

“I expect you are right,” admitted her chum. “It will only cause comment
because we went out of bounds, and became acquainted with Mr. Caslon.
But I’m glad the old goat introduced us,” and she laughed and tossed her
head.

So they joined their friends, who had gotten tired by this time of
tobogganing in June, and they all trooped up the hill again to the
house. It was growing warm, and the hammocks and lounging chairs in the
shade of the verandas attracted them until noon.

After luncheon there was tennis and croquet on the lawns, and toward
evening everybody went driving, although not in the yellow coach this
time.

The plans for the following day included a long drive by coach to a lake
beyond Darrowtown, where they had a picnic lunch, and boated and fished
and had a glorious time in general.

Bobbins drove as before, but there were two men with the party to do the
work and look after the horses, and Mrs. Steele herself was present to
have an oversight of the young folk.

Bob Steele was very proud of his ability to drive the four-in-hand, and
when they swung through Darrowtown on the return trip, with the whip
cracking and Tom tooting the horn, many people stopped to observe the
passing of the turnout.

Every other team got out of their way—even the few automobiles they
passed. But when they got over the first ridge beyond the town and the
four horses broke into a canter, Mrs. Steele, who sat up behind her son
on this journey, suddenly put a hand upon his shoulder and called his
attention to something ahead in the road.

“Do have a care, my son,” she said. “There has been an accident
there—yes? Don’t drive too fast——”

“By jiminy!” ejaculated Ralph Tingley. “That’s a breakdown, sure
enough.”

“A farm wagon. There’s a wheel off,” cried Ann Hicks, leaning out from
the other end of the seat the better to see.

“And who are all those children in blue?” demanded Mercy Curtis, looking
out from below. “There’s such a lot of them! One, two, three, four,
five—— Goodness me! they jump about so like fleas that I can’t count
them!”

“Why, I bet I know what it is,” drawled Bobbins, at last. “It’s old
Caslon and his load of fresh airs. He was going to town to meet them
to-day, I believe. And he’s broken down before he’s half way home with
them—and serves him good and right!”



CHAPTER XIII—“THE TERRIBLE TWINS”


Ruth heard Bob’s last expression, despite the rattling of the harness
and the chattering of the girls on, and in, the coach, and she was
sorry. Yet, could he be blamed so much, when similar feelings were
expressed daily by his own father regarding the Caslons?

Mrs. Steele was shocked as well. “My dear son!” she exclaimed, in a low
voice, leaning over his shoulder. “Be careful of your tongue. Don’t say
things for which you might be sorry—indeed, for which I am sure you
_are_ sorry when you stop to think.”

“Huh! Isn’t that old Caslon as mean as he can be?” demanded Bobbins.

“I am sure,” the good lady sighed, “that I wish he would agree to sell
his place to your father, and so have an end of all this talk and
worriment. But I am not at all sure that he hasn’t a right to do as he
pleases with his own property.”

“Well—now—Mother——”

But she stopped him with: “At any rate, you must halt and offer him
help. And those children—I hope none of them has been hurt.”

“Pooh! you couldn’t hurt kids like those,” declared Bob.

But he brought the horses down to a walk and the yellow coach approached
the scene of the accident at a temperate pace.

The big farm-wagon, the body of which had been filled with straw for the
youngsters to ride in, had been pulled to the side of the road out of
the way of passing vehicles. It was clear that the smashed wheel was
past repair by any amateur means, for several spokes were broken, and
the hub was split.

The youngsters whom Mr. Caslon had taken aboard at the railway station
in Darrowtown were dancing about and yelling like wild Indians. As the
coach came nearer, the excited party upon it could more carefully count
the blue-clad figures, and it was proved that there were twelve.

Six girls were in blue gingham frocks, all alike, and all made “skimpy”
and awkward looking. The six boys were in new blue overalls and cotton
shirts. The overalls seemed all of one size, although the boys were not.
They must have been purchased at the store of one size, and whether a
boy was six, or twelve, he wore the same number.

Each of the children, too, carried a more or less neatly made up parcel,
the outer covering of which was a blue and white bandanna, and the
contents of which was the change of clothing the institution allowed
them.

“What a terrible noise they make!” sighed Mrs. Steele. “And they are
perfect little terrors, I suppose. But they _are_ clean.”

They had not been out of the sight of the institution nurse long enough
to be otherwise, for she had come as far as Darrowtown with them. But
they _were_ noisy, sure enough, for each one was trying to tell his or
her mates how he or she felt when the wheel crashed and the wagon went
over.

“I reckon I oughtn’t to have risked that wheel, after all,” said Mr.
Caslon, doffing his hat to Mrs. Steele, but smiling broadly as he looked
up from his examination of the wheel.

“Whoa, Charlie! Don’t get too near them heels, youngsters. Charlie an’
Ned are both old duffers like me; but you can’t fool around a horse’s
legs without making him nervous.

“And don’t pull them reins. I don’t want ’em to start right now.... Yes,
ma’am. I’ll haf ter lead the horses home, and that I don’t mind. But
these young ones—— Now, let that whip lay right where it is, young man!
That’s right.

“You see, ma’am,” he proceeded, quite calmly despite all that was going
on about him, and addressing himself to Mrs. Steele, “it’s too long a
walk for the little ones, and I couldn’t tote ’em all on the backs of
the horses——

“Now, you two curly heads there—what do you call ’em?”

“The Terrible Twins!” quoth two or three of the other orphans, in
chorus.

“I believe ye! I believe ye! They jest bile over, _they_ do. Now, you
two boys,” he added, addressing two youngsters, very much alike, about
of a height, and both with short, light curly hair, “never mind tryin’
to unharness Charlie and Ned. _I’ll_ do that.

“Ye see, ma’am, if you could take some of the little ones aboard——” he
suggested to Mrs. Steele.

The coach was well filled, yet it was not crowded. The girls began to
call to the little folks to get aboard even before Mrs. Steele could
speak.

“There’s lots of room up here,” cried Ruth, leaning from her end of the
seat and offering her hand. The twins ran at once to climb up and fought
for “first lift” by Ruth.

“Oh, yes! they can get aboard,” said Mrs. Steele. “All there is room
for.”

And the twelve “fresh airs” proved very quickly that there was room for
them all. Ruth had the “terrible twins” on the seat with her in half a
minute, and the others swarmed into, or on top of, the coach almost as
quickly.

“There now! that’s a big lift, I do declare,” said the farmer, hanging
the chains of the horses’ traces upon the hames, and preparing to lead
the pair along the road.

“My wife will be some surprised, I bet,” and he laughed jovially. “I’m
certain sure obleeged to ye, Mis’ Steele. Neighbors ought to be
neighborly, an’ you air doin’ me a good turn this time—yes, ma’am!”

“Now, you see,” growled Bob, as the four coach horses trotted on, “he’ll
take advantage of this. We’ve noticed him once, and he’ll always be
fresh.”

“Hush, my son!” whispered Mrs. Steele. “Little pitchers have big ears.”

“Huh!” exclaimed one of the wriggling twins, looking up at the lady
sideways like a bird. “I know what _that_ means. _We’re_ little
pitchers—Dickie an’ me. We’ve heard that before—ain’t we, Dickie?”

“Yep,” announced his brother, nodding wisely.

These two were certainly wise little scamps! Willie did most of the
talking, but whatever he said his brother agreed to. Dickie being so
chary with speech, possibly his brother felt that he must exercise his
own tongue the more, for he chattered away like a veritable magpie,
turning now and then to demand:

“Ain’t that so, Dickie?”

“Yep,” vouchsafed the echo, and, thus championed, Willie would rattle on
again.

Yes. They was all from the same asylum. There were lots more of boys and
girls in that same place. But only twelve could get to go to this place
where they were going. They knew boys that went to Mr. Caslon’s last
year.

“Don’t we, Dickie?”

“Yep.”

No. They didn’t have a mama or papa. Never had had any. But they had a
sister. She was a big girl and had gone away from the asylum. Some time,
when they were big enough, they were going to run away from the asylum
and find her.

“Ain’t we, Dickie?”

“Yep.”

Whether the other ten “fresh airs” were as funny and cute as the
“terrible twins,” or not, Ruth Fielding did not know, but both she and
Mrs. Steele were vastly amused by them, and continued to be so all the
way to the old homestead under the hill where the children had come to
spend a part of the summer with Mr. and Mrs. Caslon.



CHAPTER XIV—“WHY! OF COURSE!”


“I hope you told that Caslon woman, Mother, to keep those brats from
boiling over upon our premises,” said Mr. Steele, cheerfully, at dinner
that evening, when the story of the day’s adventures was pretty well
told.

“Really, John, I had no time. _Such_ a crowd of eels—— Well! whatever
she may deserve,” said Mrs. Steele, shaking her head, “I am sure she
does not deserve the trouble those fresh air children will bring her.
And she—she seems like such a nice old lady.”

“Who’s a nice old lady?” demanded her husband, from the other end of the
long table, rather sharply.

“Farmer Caslon’s wife.”

“Humph! I don’t know what she is; I know what _he_ is, however. No doubt
of that. He’s the most unreasonable——”

“Well, they’ll have their hands full with all those young ones,” laughed
Madge Steele, breaking in upon her father, perhaps because she did not
wish him to reveal any further to her guests his ideas upon this topic.

“What under the sun can they do it for?” demanded Lluella Fairfax.

“Just think of troubling one’s self with a parcel of ill-bred children
like those orphanage kids,” added Belle Tingley.

“Oh, they do it just to bother the neighbors, of course,” growled
Bobbins, who naturally believed all his father said, or thought, to be
just right.

“They take a world of trouble on themselves, then, to spite their
neighbors,” laughed Mercy Curtis, in her sharp way. “That’s cutting
one’s nose off to spite one’s face, sure enough!”

“Goodness only knows _why_ they do it,” began Madge, when Ruth, who
could keep in no longer, now the topic had become generally discussed
among the young people, exclaimed:

“Both the farmer and his wife look to be very kindly and jolly sort of
people. I am sure they have no idea of troubling other folk with the
children they take to board. They must be, I think, very charitable, as
well as very fond of children.”

“Trust Ruth for seeing the best side of it,” laughed Heavy.

“And the right side, too, I bet,” murmured Tom Cameron.

“We’ll hope so,” said Mr. Steele, rather grimly. “But if Caslon lets
them trespass on my land, he’ll hear about it, sharp and plenty!”

Now, it so happened, that not twenty-four hours had passed before the
presence of the “fresh air kids” was felt upon the sacred premises of
Sunrise Farm. It was very hot that next day, and the girls remained in
the shade, or played a desultory game of tennis, or two, or knocked the
croquet balls around a bit, refusing to go tramping through the woods
with the boys to a pond where it was said the fish would bite.

“So do the mosquitoes—I know them,” said Mercy Curtis, when the boys
started. “Be honest about it, now; I bet you get ten mosquito bites to
every fish-bite. Tell us when you get back.”

Late in the afternoon the rural mail carrier was due and Ruth, Helen,
Madge and Heavy started for the gate on the main road where the Steeles
had their letter box.

A little woolly dog ran after Madge—her mother’s pet. “Come on,
Toodles!” she said, and then all four girls started to race with Toodles
down to the gate.

Suddenly Toodles spied something more entertaining to bark at and caper
about than the girls’ skirts. A cat was slipping through the bushes
beside the wall, evidently on the trail of some unconscious bird.
Toodles, uttering a glad “yap, yap, yap!” started for the cat.

Two tousled, curly heads appeared at the gateway. Below the uncapped
heads were two thin bodies just of a size, clothed in shirts and
overalls of blue.

“Hello, kiddies!” said Heavy. “How did you get here?”

“On our feet—didn’t we, Dickie?” responded Master Willie.

“Yep,” said Dickie.

“Oh, dear me! Toodles will hurt that cat!” cried Madge. “One of you boys
run and save her—save kitty!” she begged.

But as the youngsters started off as per direction, the cat turned
savagely upon Toodles. She snarled like a wildcat, leaped for his
fur-covered back, and laid in with her claws in a way that made the pup
yell with fright and pain.

“Oh, never mind the cat! Help Toodles! Help Toodles!” wailed Madge,
seeing her pet in such dire trouble.

The youngsters stopped with disgust, as Toodles went kiting up the hill,
yelping.

“Pshaw!” exclaimed Willie. “Toodles don’t need helpin’. Did’ye ever see
such a dog? What he needs is a nurse—don’t he, Dickie?”

“Yep,” declared the oracular Dickie, with emphasis.

Heavy dropped down on the grass and rolled. As the cat had quickly
returned from the chase, Madge and Helen joined her. It was too funny.
The “terrible twins” were just slipping out of the gate, when Ruth
called to them.

“Don’t go yet, boys. Are you having a good time?”

“We ain’t allowed in here,” said Willie.

“Who told you so?”

“The short, fat man with the squinty eyes and the cane,” declared
Willie, in a matter of fact way.

“Short—fat—squinty—— My goodness! I wonder if he can mean my father?”
exclaimed Madge, inclined to be offended.

“But you can stand there and talk with us,” said Ruth, strolling toward
the boys. “So you are having a nice time at Mr. Caslon’s?”

“Bully—ain’t we, Dickie?”

“Yep,” agreed the echo.

“And you won’t be glad to go back to the orphanage when you have to
leave here?”

“Say, who ever was glad to go to a ’sylum?” demanded Willie, with scorn.

“And you can’t remember any other home, either of you?” asked Ruth, with
pity.

“Huh! we ’member just the same things. Our ages is just alike, they be,”
said Willie, with scorn.

“They have you there, Ruth,” chuckled Heavy.

Ruth Fielding was really interested in the two youngsters. “And you are
all alone in the world?” she pursued.

“Nope. We gotter sister.”

“Oh! so you said.”

“And it’s so, too. She used ter be at the ’sylum,” explained Willie.
“But they sent her off to live with somebody. And we was tried out by a
lady and a gentleman, too; but we was too much work for the lady. We
made too much extry washin’,” said Willie, solemnly.

“My goodness me!” exclaimed Ruth, suddenly. “What are your names?”

“I’m Willie; he’s Dickie.”

“But Willie and Dickie _what_?” demanded the startled Ruth.

“No, ma’am. It ain’t that. It’s Raby,” declared the youngster, coolly.
“And our sister, _she’s_ Sadie Raby. She’s awful smart and some day, she
told us, she’s goin’ to come an’ steal us from the ‘sylum, and then
we’ll all live together and keep house.”

“Will you hear this, Helen?” demanded Ruth, eagerly, to her chum who had
run to her.

“Why, of course! we might have known as much, if we had been smart.
These are the twins Sadie told you about. And we never guessed!”



CHAPTER XV—THE TEMPEST


Ruth was much interested in the fresh air children, and so was Helen.
They found time to walk down to the Caslon farm and become acquainted
with the entire twelve. Naturally, the “terrible twins” held their
attention more than the others, for it _did_ seem so strange that the
little brothers of Sadie Raby should come across Ruth’s path in just
this way.

Of course, in getting so well acquainted with the children, Ruth and her
chum were bound to know the farmer and his wife better. They were very
plain, “homey” sort of people, just as Ruth had guessed, and it appeared
that they were not blessed with an over-abundance of ready money. Few
farmers in Mr. Caslon’s circumstances are.

What means they had, they joyfully divided with the youngsters they had
taken to board. The Caslons had no living children; indeed, the two they
had had, years ago, died while they were yet babies. This Mrs. Caslon
confided to Ruth.

“It left an empty place in our hearts,” she said, softly, “that nothing
but other little children can fill. John has missed them fully as much
as I have. Yes; he lets these little harum-scarums pull him around, and
climb all over him, and interfere with his work, and take up his time a
good deal. Yes, I know the place looks a sight, inside the house and
out, when they go away.

“But for a few weeks every year we have a host of young things about us,
and it keeps our hearts young. The bother of ’em, and the trouble of
’em, is nothing to the good they do us both. Ah, yes!

“Yes, I’ve often thought of keeping one or two of them for good. There’s
a-many pretty ones, or cunning ones, we’d like to have had. But
then—think of the disappointment of the rest of the darlings!

“And it would have narrowed down our sympathy—mine and John’s,”
proceeded Mrs. Caslon, shaking her head gently. “We’d have centered all
our love and longin’ into them we took for keeps, just as we centered
all our interest in the two little ones God lent us for a little while,
long ago.

“Havin’ a number of ’em each year, and almost always different ones, has
been better, I guess—better for all hands. It keeps John and me
interested more, and we try to make them so happy here that each poor,
unfortunate orphan will go away and remember his or her summer here for
the rest of their lives.

“And they _do_ have so little to be happy over, these orphans—and it
takes so very little to make them happy.

“If I had money—much money,” continued the farmer’s wife, clasping her
hands, fervently, “I’d move many orphan asylums, and such like, out of
the close, hot cities, where the little ones are cramped for room and
air, and put each of them on a farm—a great, big farm. City’s no place
for children to grow up—’specially those that have no fathers and
mothers.

“You can’t tell me but that these young ones miss their parents less
here on this farm than they do back in the brick building they live in
most of the year,” concluded the good woman, earnestly.

Ruth quite fell in love with the old lady—who did not appear so very
old, after all. Perhaps she had kept her heart young in serving these
“fresh air” orphans, year after year. And Mr. Caslon seemed a very
happy, jolly sort of man, too.

The two girls stole away quite frequently to watch the youngsters play,
or to teach them new means of entertaining themselves, or to talk with
the farmer’s wife. But they did not wish the other girls, and the
Steeles, to know where they went on these occasions.

Their host, who was the nicest kind of a man in every other way, seemed
determined to look upon Caslon as his enemy; and Mr. Steele was ready to
do anything he could to oust the old couple from their home.

“Pshaw! a man like Caslon can make a good living anywhere,” Mr. Steele
declared. “His crops just _grow_ for him. He’s an A-1 farmer—I’d like to
find as good a one before next year, to superintend my whole place. He’s
just holding out for a big price for his farm, that’s all he’s doing.
These hayseeds are money-mad, anyway. I haven’t offered him enough for
his old farm, that’s all.”

Ruth doubted if this were true. The Caslon place was one of the oldest
homesteads in that part of the State, and the house had been built by a
Caslon. Mr. Steele could not appreciate the fact that there was a
sentiment attached to the farmer’s occupancy of his old home.

The Caslons had taken root here on this side-hill. The farmer and his
wife were the last of the name; they had nobody to will it to. But they
loved every acre of the farm, and the city man’s money did not look good
enough to them.

Ruth Fielding hungered to straighten out the tangle. She wished she
might make Mr. Steele understand the old farmer’s attitude. Was there
not, too, some way of settling the controversy in a way satisfactory to
both parties?

Meanwhile the merry party of young folk at Sunrise Farm was busy every
waking hour. There were picnics, and fishing parties, and games, and
walks, and of course riding galore, for Mr. Steele had plenty of horses.

Ruth and Helen privately worked up some interest among the girls and
boys visiting the farm, in a celebration on the Fourth for the fresh air
children. Ruth had learned that the farmer had purchased some cheap
fireworks and the like for the entertainment of the orphans; but Ruth
and her chum wanted to add to his modest preparations.

Ten dollars was raised, and Tom Cameron took charge of the fund. He was
to ride into town the afternoon before the Fourth to make the purchases,
but just about as he was to start, a thunderstorm came up.

Mr. Steele, who was a nervous man, forbade any riding or driving with
that threatening cloud advancing over the hills. The lightning played
sharply along the edges of the cloud and the thunder rolled ominously.

“You youngsters don’t know what a tempest is like here in the hills,”
said Mr. Steele. “Into the house—all of you. Take that horse and cart
back to the stables, Jackson. If Tom wants to go to town, he’ll have to
wait until the shower is over—or go to-morrow.”

“All right, sir,” agreed young Cameron, cheerfully. “Just as you say.”

“Are all those girls inside?” sharply demanded Mr. Steele. “I thought I
saw the flutter of a petticoat in the shrubbery yonder.”

“I’ll see,” said Tom, running indoors.

Nervous Mr. Steele thought he saw somebody there behind the bushes,
before he heard from Tom. It had already begun to rain in big drops, and
suddenly there was a flash of lightning and a report seemingly right
overhead.

The host turned up his coat collar, thrust his cap over his ears, and
ran out across the lawn toward the path behind the shrubbery. It led to
a summer house on the side lawn, but this was a frail shelter from such
a tempest as this that was breaking over the hill.

Mr. Steele saw the flutter of a skirt ahead, and dashed along the path,
the rain pelting him as he ran.

“Come back here! Come to the house, you foolish girl!” he cried, and
popped into the summer house just as the clouds seemed to open above and
the rain descend in a flood.

It was so dark, and Mr. Steele was so blinded for a moment, that he
could scarcely see the figure of whom he was in search. Then he beheld a
girl crouching in a corner, with her hands over her ears to shut out the
roar of the thunder and her eyes tightly closed to shut out the
lightning.

“For mercy’s sake! get up and come into the house. This place will be
all a-flood in a minute,” he gasped.

Suddenly, as he dragged the girl to her feet by one shoulder, he saw
that she was not one of the house party at all. She was a frail,
shrinking girl, in very dirty clothing, and her face and hands were
scratched and dirty, too. A regular ragamuffin she appeared.

“Why—why, where did _you_ come from?” demanded Mr. Steele.

The girl only stuttered and stammered, looking at him fearfully.

“Come on! never mind who you are,” he sputtered. “This is no place for
you in this tempest. Come into the house!”

He set out on a run again for the front veranda, dragging her after him.
The girl did not cry, although she was certainly badly frightened by the
storm.

They reached the door of the big house, saturated. Here Mr. Steele
turned to her again.

“Who are you? What are you doing around here, anyway?” he demanded.

“Ain’t—ain’t this the place where they got a bunch of fresh air kids?”
asked the girl.

“What?” gasped Mr. Steele. “I should say not! Are you one of those young
ones Caslon has taken to board to the annoyance of the whole
neighborhood? Ha! what were you doing trespassing on my land?”

“I ain’t neither!” returned the girl, pulling away her hand. “You lemme
be.”

“I forbade any of you to come up here——”

“I ain’t neither,” reiterated the girl. “An’ I don’t know what you mean.
I jest got there. And I’m lookin’ for the place where the fresh air kids
stay.”

In the midst of this the door was drawn open and Mrs. Steele and some of
the girls appeared.

“Do come in, Father,” she cried. “Why! you’re soaking wet. And that
child! bring her in, whoever she is. Oh!”

Another flash of lightning made them all cower—all but Ruth Fielding,
who had crept forward to look over Mrs. Steele’s shoulder. Now she
dashed out and seized the bedrabbled looking stranger by the hand.

“Why, Sadie Raby! who’d ever expect to see you here? Come in! do let her
come in out of the storm, Mrs. Steele. I know who she is,” begged Ruth.



CHAPTER XVI—THE RUNAWAY


Madge said, in something like perplexity: “You _do_ pick up the
strangest acquaintances, Ruth Fielding. She really does, Ma. But that
has always been Ruth’s way.”

Mrs. Steele was first disturbed over her husband’s condition. “Go right
away and change into dry garments—do, Father,” she urged. “You will get
your death of cold standing there. And shut the door. Oh! that
lightning!”

They had to wait for the thunder to roll away before they could hear her
again, although Mr. Steele hurried upstairs without another glance at
the bedrabbled child he had brought in out of the storm.

“This—this girl must go somewhere and dry herself,” hesitated Mrs.
Steele, when next she spoke. “My! isn’t she a sight? Call one of the
maids, someone——”

“Oh, dear Mrs. Steele!” exclaimed Ruth, eagerly, “let me take Sadie
upstairs and look after her. I am sure I have something she can put on.”

“So have I, if you haven’t,” interposed Helen. “And my clothes will come
nearer fitting her than Ruth’s. Ruth is getting almost as fat as Heavy!”

“There is no need of either of you sacrificing your clothes,” said Mrs.
Steele, slowly. “Of course, I have plenty of outgrown garments of my own
daughters’ put away. Yes. You take care of her if you wish, Ruth, and I
will hunt out the things.”

Here the strange girl interposed. She had been darting quick, shrewd
glances about the hall at the girls and boys there gathered, and now she
said:

“Ye don’t hafter do nothing for me. A little rainwater won’t hurt me—I
ain’t neither sugar nor salt. All I wants to know is where them fresh
air kids is stayin’. I ain’t afraid of the rain—it’s the thunder and
lightning that scares me.”

“Goodness knows,” laughed Madge, “I guess the water wouldn’t hurt you.
But we’ll fix you up a little better, I guess.”

“Let Ruth do it,” said Mrs. Steele, sharply. “She says she knows the
girl.”

“She’s a friend of mine,” said the girl of the Red Mill, frankly. “You
surely remember me, Sadie Raby?”

“Oh, I remember ye, Miss,” returned the runaway. “You was kind to me,
too.”

“Come on, then,” said Ruth, briskly. “I’m only going to be kind to you
again—and so is Mrs. Steele going to be kind. Come on!”

An hour later an entirely different looking girl appeared with Ruth in
the big room at the top of the house which the visiting girls occupied.
Some of them had come upstairs, for the tempest was over now, and were
making ready for dinner by slow stages, it still being some time off,
and there was nothing else to do.

“This is Sadie Raby, girls,” explained Ruth, quietly. “She is the sister
of those cute little twins that are staying at the Caslons’ place. She
has had a hard time getting here, and because she hasn’t seen Willie and
Dickie for eight months, or more, she is very anxious to see them. They
are all she has in the world.”

“And I reckon they’re a handful,” laughed Heavy. “Come on! tell us all
about it, Sadie.”

It was because of the “terrible twins” that Ruth had gotten Sadie to
talk at all. The girl, since leaving “them Perkinses,” near Briarwood,
had had a most distressful time in many ways, and she was reticent about
her adventures.

But she warmed toward Ruth and the others when she found that they
really were sincerely interested in her trials, and were, likewise,
interested in the twins.

“Them kids must ha’ growed lots since I seen ’em,” she said, wistfully.
“I wrote a letter to a girl that works right near the orphanage. She
wrote back that the twins was coming out here for a while. So I throwed
up my job at Campton and hiked over here.”

“Dear me! all that way?” cried Helen, pityingly.

“I walked farther than that after I left them Perkinses,” declared
Sadie, promptly. “I walked clean from Lumberton to Cheslow—followed the
railroad most of the way. Then I struck off through the fields and went
to a mill on the river, and worked there for a week, for an old lady.
She was nice——”

“I guess she is!” cried Ruth, quickly. “Didn’t you know that was _my_
home you went to? And you worked for Aunt Alvirah and Uncle Jabez.”

No, Sadie had not known that. The little old woman had spoken of there
being a girl at the Red Mill sometimes, but Sadie had not suspected the
identity of that girl.

“And then, when you were still near Cheslow, my brother Tom, and his
dog, rescued you from the tramps,” cried Helen.

“Was that your brother, Miss?” responded Sadie. “Well! he’s a nice
feller. He got me a ride clear to Campton. I’ve been workin’ there and
earnin’ my board and keep. But I couldn’t save much, and it’s all gone
now.”

“But what do you really expect to do here?” asked Madge Steele,
curiously.

“I gotter see them kids,” declared Sadie, doggedly. “Seems to me,
sometimes, as though something would bust right inside of me here,” and
she clutched her dress at its bosom, “if I don’t see Willie and Dickie.
I thought this big house was likely where the fresh airs was.”

“I should say not!” murmured Madge.

“They’re all right—don’t you be afraid,” said Ruth, softly.

“I thought mebbe the folks that was keepin’ the kids would let me work
for them,” said Sadie, presently. “For kids is a lot of trouble, and I’m
used to ’em. The matron at the home said I had a way with young’uns.”

She told them a good deal more about her adventures within the next half
hour, but Madge had left the room just after making her last speech.
While the girls were still listening to the runaway, a maid rapped at
the door.

“Mr. Steele will see this—this strange girl in the library,” announced
the servant.

Sadie looked a little scared for a moment, and glanced wildly around the
big room for some way of escape.

“Gee! I ain’t got to talk with that man, have I?” she whispered.

“He won’t bite you,” laughed Heavy.

“He’s just as kind as kind can be,” declared Helen.

“I’ll go down with you,” said Ruth, decisively. “You have plenty of
friends now, Sadie. You mustn’t be expecting to run away all the time.”

Sadie Raby went with Ruth doubtfully. The latter was somewhat disturbed
herself when she saw Mr. Steele’s serious visage.

“You’ll excuse me, Mr. Steele?” suggested Ruth, timidly. “But she is all
alone—and I thought it would encourage her to have me here——”

“That is like your kind heart, Ruth,” said the gentleman, nodding. “I
don’t mind. Madge has told me her story. It seems that the child is
rather wild—er—flighty, as it were. I suppose she wants to run away from
us, too?”

“I ain’t figurin’ to stay here,” said Sadie, doggedly. “I’m obleeged to
you, but this ain’t the house I was aimin’ for.”

“Humph! no. But I am not sure at all that you would be in good hands
down there at Caslon’s.”

Ruth was sorry to hear him say this. But Sadie broke in with: “I don’t
keer how they treat me as long as I’m with my brothers. And _they_ are
down there, this Ruth girl says.”

“Yes. I quite understand that. But we all have our duty to perform in
this world,” said Mr. Steele, gravely. “I wonder that you have fallen in
with nobody before who has seen the enormity of letting you run wild
throughout the country. It is preposterous—wrong—impossible! I never
heard of the like before—a child of your age tramping in the open.”

“I didn’t do no harm,” began Sadie, half fearful of him again.

“Of course it is not your fault,” said Mr. Steele, quickly. “But you
were put in the hands of people who are responsible to the institution
you came from for their treatment of you——”

“Them Perkinses?” exclaimed Sadie, fearfully. “I won’t never go back to
them—not while I’m alive I won’t! I don’t care! I jest won’t!”

She spoke wildly. She turned to run from the room and would have done
so, had not Ruth been there to stop her and hold her in her arms.



CHAPTER XVII—THE BLACK DOUGLASS


“Oh, don’t frighten her, Mr. Steele!” begged Ruth, still holding the
half wild girl. “You would not send her back to those awful people?”

“Tut, tut! I am no ogre, I hope,” exclaimed the gentleman, rather put
out of countenance at this outburst. “I only mean the child well.
Doesn’t she understand?”

“I won’t go back to them Perkinses, I tell you!” cried Sadie, with a
stamp of her foot.

“It is not my intention to send you back. I mean to look up your record
and the record of the people you were placed with—Perkins, is it? The
authorities of the institution that had the care of you, should be made
to be more careful in their selection of homes for their charges.

“No. I will keep you here till I have had the matter sifted. If
those—those Perkinses, as you call them, are unfit to care for you, you
shall certainly not go back to them, my girl.”

Sadie looked at him shrewdly. “But I don’t want to stay here, Mister,”
she blurted out.

“My girl, you are not of an age when you should be allowed to choose for
yourself. Others, older and wiser, must choose for you. I would not feel
that I was doing right in allowing you to run wild again——”

“I gotter see the twins—I jest _gotter_ see ’em,” said Sadie, faintly.

“And whether that Caslon is fit to have charge of you,” bitterly added
Mr. Steele, “I have my doubts.”

“Oh, surely, you will let her see her little brothers?” cried Ruth,
pleadingly.

“We will arrange about that—ahem!” said Mr. Steele. “But I will
communicate at once—by long distance telephone—with the matron of the
institution from which she came, and they can send a representative here
to talk with me——”

“And take me back there?” exclaimed Sadie. “No, I sha’n’t! I sha’n’t go!
So there!”

“Hoity-toity, Miss! Let’s have no more of it, if you please,” said the
gentleman, sternly. “You will stay here for the present. Don’t you try
to run away from me, for if you do, I’ll soon have you brought back. We
intend to treat you kindly here, but you must not abuse our kindness.”

It was perhaps somewhat puzzling to Sadie Raby—this attitude of the very
severe gentleman. She had not been used to much kindness in her life,
and the sort that is forced on one is not generally appreciated by the
wisest of us. Therefore it is not strange if Sadie failed to understand
that Mr. Steele really meant to be her friend.

“Come away, Sadie,” whispered Ruth, quite troubled herself by the turn
affairs had taken. “I am so sorry—but it will all come right in the
end——”

“If by comin’ right, Miss, you means that I am goin’ to see them twins,
you can jest _bet_ it will all come right,” returned Sadie, gruffly,
when they were out in the hall. “For see ’em I will, an’ _him_, nor
nobody else, won’t stop me. As for goin’ back to them Perkinses, or to
the orphanage, we’ll see ‘bout that,” added Sadie, to herself, and
grimly.

Ruth feared very much that Mr. Steele would not have been quite so stern
and positive with the runaway, had it not been for his dislike for the
Caslons. Had Sadie’s brothers been stopping with some other neighbor,
would Mr. Steele have delayed letting the runaway girl go to see them?

“Oh, dear, me! If folks would only be good-natured and stop being so
hateful to each other,” thought the girl of the Red Mill. “I just _know_
that Mr. Steele would like Mr. Caslon a whole lot, if they really once
got acquainted!”

The rain had ceased falling by this time. The tempest had rolled away
into the east. A great rainbow had appeared and many of the household
were on the verandas to watch the bow of promise.

It was too wet, however, to venture upon the grass. The paths and
driveway glistened with pools of water. And under a big tree not far
from the front of the house, it was discovered that a multitude of
little toads had appeared—tiny little fellows no larger than one’s
thumbnail.

“It’s just been rainin’ toads!” cried one of the younger Steele
children—Bennie by name. “Come on out, Ruthie, and see the toads that
comed down with the rainstorm.”

Tom Cameron had already come up to speak with Sadie. He shook hands with
the runaway girl and spoke to her as politely as he would have to any of
his sister’s friends. And Sadie, remembering how kind he had been to her
on the occasion when the tramps attacked her near Cheslow, responded to
his advances with less reluctance than she had to those of some of the
girls.

For it must be confessed that many of the young people looked upon the
runaway askance. She was so different from themselves!

Now that she was clean, and her hair brushed and tied with one of Ruth’s
own ribbons, and she was dressed neatly, Sadie Raby did not _look_ much
different from the girls about her on the wide porch; but when she
spoke, her voice was hoarse, and her language uncouth.

Had she been plumper, she would have been a pretty girl. She was tanned
very darkly, and her skin was coarse. Nevertheless, given half the care
these other girls had been used to most of their lives, and Sadie Raby
would have been the equal of any.

Ruth came strolling back to the veranda, leaving Bennie watching the
toads—which remained a mystery to him. He was a lively little fellow of
six and the pet of the whole family.

As it chanced, he was alone out there on the drive, and the others were
now strolling farther and farther away from him along the veranda. The
boy ran out farther from the house, and danced up and down, looking at
the rainbow overhead.

Thus he was—a pretty sight in the glow of the setting sun—when a sudden
chorus of shouts and frightened cries arose from the rear of the house.

Men and maids were screaming. Then came the pounding of heavy hoofs.

Around the curve of the drive charged a great black horse, a frayed and
broken lead-rope hanging from his arching neck, his eyes red and
glowing, and his sleek black body all a-quiver with the joy of his
escape.

“The Black Douglass!” ejaculated Tom Cameron, in horror, for the great
horse was charging straight for the dancing child in the driveway.

It was the most dangerous beast upon Sunrise Farm—indeed, almost the
only savage creature Mr. Steele had retained when he bought out the
former owner of the stock farm and his stud of horses.

The Black Douglass was a big creature, with an uncertain temper, and was
handled only by the most careful men in Mr. Steele’s employ. Somehow, on
this occasion, the brute had been allowed to escape.

Spurring the gravel with his iron shod hoofs, the horse galloped
straight at little Bennie. The child, suddenly made aware of his peril
by the screams of his brothers and sisters, turned blindly, staggered a
few steps, and fell upon his hands and knees.

Mr. Steele rushed from the house, but he was too far away. The men
chasing the released animal were at a distance, too. Tom Cameron started
down the steps, but Helen shrieked for him to return. Who was there to
face the snorting, prancing beast?

There was a flash of a slight figure down the steps and across the sod.
Like an arrow from a strong bow, Sadie Raby darted before the fallen
child. Nor was she helpless. The runaway knew what she was about.

As she ran from the veranda, she had seized a parasol that was leaning
against one of the pillars. Holding this in both hands, she presented it
to the charging horse, opening and shutting it rapidly as she advanced.

She leaped across Bennie and confronted the Black Douglass. The flighty
animal, seeing something before him that he did not at all understand,
changed his course with a frightened snort, and dashed off across the
lawn, cutting out great clods as he ran, and so around the house again
and out of sight.

Mr. and Mrs. Steele were both running to the spot. The gentleman picked
up the frightened Bennie, but handed him at once to his mother. Then he
turned and seized the girl by her thin shoulders.

“My dear girl! My dear girl!” he said, rather brokenly, turning her so
as to face him. “That was a brave thing to do. We can’t thank you
enough. You can’t understand——”

“Aw, it warn’t anything. I knowed that horse wouldn’t jump at us when he
seen the umbrel’. Horses is fools that way,” said Sadie Raby, rather
shamefacedly.

But when Mrs. Steele knelt right down in the damp gravel beside her, and
with one arm around Bennie, put the other around the runaway and hugged
her—hugged her _tight_—Sadie was quite overcome, herself.

Madge Steele was crying frankly. Bobbins came rushing upon the scene,
and there was a general riot of exclamation and explanation.

“Say! you goin’ to let me see my brothers now?” demanded the runaway,
who had a practical mind, if nothing more.

“Bob,” said his father, quickly, “you have the pony put in the cart and
drive down there to Caslon’s and bring those babies up here.”

“Aw, Father! what’ll I tell Caslon?” demanded the big fellow,
hesitatingly.

“Tell him—tell him——” For a moment, it was true, that Mr. Steele was
rather put to it for a reply. He found Ruth beside him, plucking his
sleeve.

“Let me go with Bobbins, sir,” whispered the girl of the Red Mill. “I’ll
know what to say to Mr. and Mrs. Caslon.”

“I guess you will, Ruth. That’s right. You bring the twins up here to
see their sister.” Then he turned and smiled down at Sadie, and there
were tears behind his eyeglasses. “If I have my way, young lady, your
coming here to Sunrise Farm will be the best thing—for you and the
twins—that ever happened in your young lives!”



CHAPTER XVIII—SUNDRY PLANS


Perhaps Sadie Raby would have been just as well pleased had Mr. Steele
allowed her to go to the Caslons’ to see her brothers, instead of having
them brought up the hill to Sunrise Farm. The gentleman, however, did
not do this because he disliked Caslon; Sadie had saved Bennie from what
might have been certain death, and the wealthy Mr. Steele was quite as
grateful as he was obstinate.

He was determined to show his gratitude to the friendless girl in a
practical manner. And the object of his gratitude would include her two
little brothers, as well. Oh, yes! Mr. Steele proposed to make Sadie
Raby glad that she had saved Bennie from the runaway horse.

The other girls and boys, beside the members of the Steele family, were
anxious now to show their approval of Sadie’s brave deed. The wanderer
was quite bewildered at first by all the attention she received.

She was such a different looking girl, too, as has been already pointed
out, from the miserable little creature who had been found by Mr. Steele
in the shrubbery, that it was not hard to develop an interest in Sadie
Raby.

Encircled by the family and their young visitors on the veranda, Sadie
again related the particulars of her life and experience—and it was a
particularly sympathetic audience that listened to her. Mr. Steele drew
out a new detail that had escaped Ruth, even, in her confidences with
the strange child.

Although the “terrible twins” were unable to remember either father or
mother—orphan asylums are not calculated to encourage such remembrances
in infant minds—Sadie, as she had once said to Ruth, could clearly
remember both her parents.

And although they had died in distant Harburg, where the children had
been put into the orphanage, Sadie remembered that the family had
removed to that city, soon after the twins were born, from no less a
place than Darrowtown!

“Me, I got it in my head that mebbe somebody would remember pa and mom
in Darrowtown, and would give me a chance. That’s another reason I come
hiking clear over here,” said Sadie.

“We’ll hunt your friends up—if there are any,” Mr. Steele assured her.

Sadie looked at him shrewdly. “Say!” said she, “you treat me a whole lot
nicer than you did a while ago. Do folks have to do somethin’ for your
family before you forget to be cross with them?”

It certainly was a facer! Mr. Steele flushed a little and scarcely knew
what to say in reply to this frank criticism. But at that moment the
two-wheel cart came into sight with the pony on the trot, and Ruth and
the twins waving their hands and shouting.

The meeting of the little chaps with their runaway sister was touching.
The three Raby orphans were very popular indeed at Sunrise Farm just
then.

Mr. Steele frankly admitted that this might be a case where custom could
be over-ridden, and the orphanage authorities ignored.

“Whether those Perkins people she was farmed out to, were as harsh as
she says——” he began, when Ruth interrupted eagerly:

“Oh, sir! I can vouch for _that_. The man was an awful brute. He struck
_me_ with his whip, and I don’t believe Sadie told a story when she says
he beat her.”

“I wish I’d been there,” ejaculated Tom Cameron, in a low voice, “when
the scoundrel struck you, Ruth. I would have done something to him!”

“However,” pursued Mr. Steele, “the girl is here now and near to
Darrowtown, which she says is her old home. We may find somebody there
who knew the Rabys. At any rate, they shall be cared for—I promise you.”

“I know!” cried Ruth, suddenly. “If anybody will remember them, it’s
Miss Pettis.”

“Another of your queer friends, Ruth?” asked Madge, laughing.

“Why—Miss True Pettis isn’t queer. But she knows about everybody who
lives in Darrowtown, or who ever did live there—and their histories from
away back!”

“A human encyclopedia,” exclaimed Heavy.

“She’s a lovely lady,” said Ruth, quietly, “and she’ll do anything to
help these unfortunate Rabys—be sure of that.”

The late dinner was announced, and by that time the twins, as well as
Sadie, had become a little more used to their surroundings. Willie and
Dickie had been put into “spandy clean” overalls and shirts before Mrs.
Caslon would let them out of her hands. They were really pretty
children, in a delicate way, like their sister.

With so many about the long dining table, the meals at the Steele home
at this time were like a continuous picnic. There was so much talking
and laughter that Mr. and Mrs. Steele had to communicate with signs, for
the most part, from their stations at either end of the table, or else
they must send messages back and forth by one of the waitresses.

The twins and Sadie were down at Mrs. Steele’s end of the table on this
occasion, with the girls all about them. Ruth and the others took a lot
more interest in keeping the orphans supplied with good things than they
did in their own plates.

That is, all but Heavy; of course _she_ wasted no time in heaping her
own plate. The twins were a little bashful at first; but it was plain
that Willie and Dickie had been taught some of the refinements of life
at the orphanage, as both had very good table manners.

They had to be tempted to eat, however, and finally Heavy offered to run
a race with them, declaring that she could eat as much as both of the
boys put together.

Dickie was just as silent in his sister’s presence as usual, his
communications being generally in the form of monosyllables. But he was
faithful in echoing Willie’s sentiments on any and every
occasion—noticeably at chicken time. The little fellows ate the
fricassee with appetite, but they refused the nice, rich gravy, in which
the cook had put macaroni. Mrs. Steele urged them to take gravy once or
twice, and finally Sadie considered that she should come to the rescue.

“What’s the matter with you kids?” she demanded, hoarsely, in an attempt
to communicate with them aside. “Ye was glad ’nough to git chicken gravy
on Thanksgivin’ at the orphanage—warn’t ye?”

“Yes, I know, Sadie,” returned Willie, wistfully. “But they never left
the windpipes in it—did they, Dickie?”

“Nope,” responded Dickie, feelingly, likewise gazing at the macaroni
askance.

It set the table in a roar and finally Willie and Dickie were encouraged
to try some of the gravy, “windpipes” and all!

“They’re all right,” laughed Busy Izzy, greatly delighted. “They’re
one—or two—of the seven wonders of the world——”

“Pooh!” interrupted Heavy, witheringly, “You don’t even know what the
seven wonders of the world are.”

“I can tell you one thing they’re _not_,” grinned Busy Izzy. “They’re
not a baseball team, for there’s not enough of them. Now will you be
good?”

Madge turned her head suddenly and ran right into Belle Tingley’s elbow,
as Belle was reaching up to settle her hair-ribbon.

“Oh, oh! My eye! I believe you poked it out, Belle. You have _such_
sharp elbows,” wailed Madge.

“You’ll have to see Doc. Blodgett at Lumberton,” advised Heavy, “and get
your eye tended to. He’s a great old doctor——”

“Why, I didn’t know he was an eye doctor,” exclaimed Madge. “I thought
he was a chiropodist.”

“He used to be,” Heavy returned, with perfect seriousness. “He began at
the foot and worked up, you see.”

Amid all the fun and hilarity, Mr. Steele called them to order. This was
at the dessert stage, and there were tall cones of parti-colored ice
cream before them, with great, heaping plates of cake.

“Can you give me a moment’s attention, girls and boys?” asked their
host. “I want to speak about to-morrow.”

“The ‘great and glorious,’” murmured Heavy.

“We’ve all promised to be good, sir,” said Tom. “No pistols, or
explosives, on the place.”

“Only the cannon,” interposed Bobbins. “You’re going to let us salute
with _that_; eh, Pa?”

“I’m not sure that I shall,” returned his father, “if you do not give me
your attention, and keep silent. We are determined to have a safe and
sane Fourth on Sunrise Farm. But at night we will set off a splendid lot
of fireworks that I bought last week——”

“Oh, fine, Pa! I do love fireworks,” cried Madge.

“The girls are as bad as the boys, Mother,” said Mr. Steele, shaking his
head. “What I wanted to say,” he added, raising his voice, “was that we
ought to invite these little chaps—these brothers of Sadie Raby—to come
up at night to see our show.”

“Oh, let’s have all the fresh airs, Pa!” cried Madge, eagerly. “_What_ a
good time they’d have.”

“I—don’t—know,” said her father, soberly, looking at his wife. “I am
afraid that will be too much for your mother.”

“Mr. Caslon has some fireworks for the children,” broke in Ruth,
timidly. “I happen to know that. And Tom was going down to buy ten
dollar’s worth more to put with what Mr. Caslon has.”

“Humph!” said Mr. Steele.

“You see, some of us thought we’d give the little folk a good time down
there, and it wouldn’t bother you and Mrs. Steele, sir,” Ruth hastened
to explain.

“Well, well!” exclaimed the gentleman, not very sharply after all, “if
those Caslons can stand the racket, I guess mother and I can—eh,
mother?”

“We need not have them in the house,” said Mrs. Steele. “We can put
tables on the veranda, and give them ice cream and cake after the
fireworks. Get the men to hang Chinese lanterns, and so forth.”

“Bully!” cried the younger Steeles, in chorus, and the visitors to
Sunrise Farm were quite delighted, too, with this suggestion.



CHAPTER XIX—A SAFE AND SANE FOURTH?


Of course, somebody had to go to the Caslons and explain all this, and
that duty devolved upon Ruth. Naturally, permission had to be sought of
the farmer and his wife before the “fresh air kids” could be carried off
bodily to Sunrise Farm.

It was decided that the ten dollars, of which Tom had taken charge,
should be spent for extra bunting and lanterns to decorate with, and to
buy little gifts for each of the fresh airs to find next his or her
plate on the evening of the Fourth.

Therefore, Tom started again for Darrowtown right after breakfast, and
Ruth rode with him in the high, two-wheeled cart.

Ruth had two important errands. One was in Darrowtown. But the first
stop, at Mr. Caslon’s, troubled her a little.

How would the farmer and his wife take the idea of the Steeles suddenly
patronizing the fresh air children? Were the Caslons anything like Mr.
Steele himself, in temperament, Ruth’s errand would not be a pleasant
one, she knew.

The orphans ran out shrieking a welcome when Tom drove into the yard of
the house under the hill. Where were the “terrible twins”? Had their
sister really come to see them? Were Willie and Dickie coming back to
the orphanage at all?

These and a dozen other questions were hurled at Ruth. Some of the
bigger girls remembered Sadie Raby and asked a multitude of questions
about her. So the girl of the Red Mill contented herself at first with
trying to reply to all these queries.

Then Mrs. Caslon appeared from the kitchen, wiping her hands of
dish-water, and the old farmer himself came from the stables. Their
friendly greeting and smiling faces opened the way for Ruth’s task. She
threw herself, figuratively speaking, into their arms.

“I know you are both just as kind as you can be,” said Ruth, eagerly,
“and you won’t mind if I ask you to change your program a little to-day
for the youngsters? They want to give them all a good time up at Sunrise
Farm.”

“Good land!” exclaimed Mrs. Caslon. “Not _all_ of them?”

“Yes, ma’am,” said Ruth, and she sketched briefly the idea of the
celebration on the hill-top, including the presents she and Tom were to
buy in Darrowtown for the kiddies.

“My soul and body!” exclaimed the farmer’s wife. “That lady, Mis’
Steele, don’t know what she’s runnin’ into, does she, Father?”

“I reckon not,” chuckled Mr. Caslon, wagging his head.

“But you won’t mind? You’ll let us have the children?” asked Ruth,
anxiously.

“Why——” Mrs. Caslon looked at the old gentleman. But he was shaking all
over with inward mirth.

“Do ’em good, Mother—do ’em good,” he chuckled—and he did not mean the
fresh air children, either. Ruth could see that.

“It’ll be a mortal shame,” began Mrs. Caslon, again, but once more her
husband interrupted:

“Don’t you fuss about other folks, Mother,” he said, gravely. “It’ll do
’em good—mebbe—as I say. Nothin’ like tryin’ a game once by the way. And
I bet twelve little tykes like these ’uns will keep that Steele man
hoppin’ for a while.”

“But his poor wife——”

“Don’t you worry, Mrs. Caslon,” Ruth urged, but wishing to laugh, too.
“We girls will take care of the kiddies, and Mrs. Steele sha’n’t be
bothered too much.”

“Besides,” drawled Mr. Caslon, “the woman’s got a good sized family of
her own—there’s six or seven of ’em, ain’t there?” he demanded of Ruth.

“Eight, sir.”

“But that don’t make a speck of difference,” the farmer’s wife
interposed. “She’s always had plenty of maids and the like to look out
for them. She don’t know——”

“Let her learn a little, then,” said Mr. Caslon, good naturedly enough.
“It’ll do both him and her good. And it’ll give you a rest for a few
hours, Mother.

“Besides,” added Mr. Caslon, with another deep chuckle, “I hear Steele
has been rantin’ around about takin’ the kids to board just for the sake
of spitin’ the neighbors. Now, if he thinks boardin’ a dozen young’uns
like these is all fun——”

“Don’t be harsh, John,” urged Mrs. Caslon.

“I ain’t! I ain’t!” cried the farmer, laughing again. “But they’re
bitin’ off a big chaw, and it tickles me to see ’em do it.”

It was arranged, therefore, that the orphans should be ready to go up to
Sunrise Farm that afternoon. Then Ruth and Tom drove to Darrowtown. They
had a fast horse, and got over the rough road at a very good pace.

Tom drove first around into the side street where Miss True Pettis’s
little cottage was situated.

“You dear child!” was the little spinster’s greeting. “Are you having a
nice time with your rich friends at Sunrise Farm? Tell me all about
them—and the farm. Everybody in Darrowtown is that curious!”

Tom had driven away to attend to the errands he could do alone, so Ruth
could afford the time to visit a bit with her old friend. The felon was
better, and that fact being assured, Ruth considered it better to
satisfy Miss Pettis regarding the Sunrise Farm folk before getting to
the Raby orphans.

And that was the way to get to them, too. For the story of the tempest
the day before, and the appearance of Sadie Raby, the runaway, and her
reunion with the twins, naturally came into the tale Ruth had to tell—a
tale that was eagerly listened to and as greatly enjoyed by the
Darrowtown seamstress, as one can well imagine.

“Just like a book—or a movie,” sighed Miss Pettis, shaking her head.
“It’s really wonderful, Ruthie Fielding, what’s happened to you since
you left us here in Darrowtown. But, I always said, this town is dead
and nothing really happens _here_!”

“But it’s lovely in Darrowtown,” declared Ruth. “And just to think!
Those Raby children lived here once.”

“No?”

“Yes they did. Sadie was six or seven years old, I guess, when they left
here. Tom Raby was her father. He was a mason’s helper——”

“Don’t you tell me another thing about ’em!” cried Miss Pettis, starting
up suddenly. “Now you remind me. I remember them well. Mis’ Raby was as
nice a woman as ever stepped—but weakly. And Tom Raby——

“Why, how could I forget it? And after that man from Canady came to
trace ’em, too, only three years ago. Didn’t you ever hear of it, Ruth?”

“What man?” asked Ruth, quite bewildered now. “Are—are you sure it was
the same family? And _who_ would want to trace them?”

“Lemme see. Listen!” commanded Miss Pettis. “You answer me about these
poor children.”

And under the seamstress’s skillful questioning Ruth related every
detail she knew about the Raby orphans—and Mr. Steele, in her presence,
had cross-questioned Sadie exhaustively the evening before. The story
lost nothing in Ruth’s telling, for she had a retentive memory.

“My goodness me, Ruthie!” ejaculated the spinster, excitedly. “It’s the
same folks—sure. Why, do you know, they came from Quebec, and there’s
some property they’ve fell heir to—property from their mother’s side—Oh,
let me tell you! Funny you never heard us talkin’ about that Canady
lawyer while you was livin’ here with me. My!”



CHAPTER XX—THE RABY ROMANCE


Miss True Pettis thrilled with the joy of telling the romance. The
little seamstress had been all her life entertaining people with the dry
details of unimportant neighborhood happenings. It was only once in a
long while that a story like that of the Rabys’ came within her ken.

“Why, do you believe me!” she said to Ruth, “that Mis’ Raby came of
quite a nice family in Quebec. Not to say Tom Raby wasn’t a fine man,
for he was, but he warn’t educated much and his trade didn’t bring ’em
more’n a livin’. But her folks had school teachers, and doctors, and
even ministers in their family—yes, indeed!

“And it seems like, so the Canady lawyer said, that a minister in the
family what was an uncle of Mis’ Raby’s, left her and her children some
property. It was in what he called ‘the fun’s’—that’s like stocks an’
bonds, I reckon. But them Canadians talk different from us.

“Well, I can remember that man—tall, lean man he was, with a yaller
mustache. He had traced the Rabys to Darrowtown, and he saw the
minister, and Deacon Giles, and Amoskeag Lanfell, askin’ did they know
where the Rabys went when they moved away from here.

“I was workin’ for Amoskeag’s wife that day, so I heard all the talk,”
pursued Miss Pettis. “He said—this Canady lawyer did—that the property
amounted to several thousand dollars. It was left by the minister (who
had no family of his own) to his niece, Mis’ Raby, or to her children if
she was dead.

“Course they asked me if _I_ knowed what became of the family,” said the
spinster, with some pride. “It bein’ well known here in Darrowtown that
I’m most as good as a parish register—and why wouldn’t I be? Everybody
expects me to know all the news. But if I ever _did_ know where them
Rabys went, I’d forgot, and I told the lawyer man so.

“But he give me his card and axed me to write to him if I ever heard
anything further from ’em, or about ’em. And I certain sure would have
done so,” declared Miss Pettis, “if it had ever come to my mind.”

“Have you the gentleman’s card now, Miss True?” asked Ruth, eagerly.

“I s’pect so.”

“Will you find it? I know Mr. Steele is interested in the Rabys, and he
can communicate with this Canadian lawyer——”

“Now! ain’t you a bright girl?” cried the spinster. “Of course!”

She at once began to hustle about, turning things out of her bureau
drawers, searching the cubby holes of an old maple “secretary” that had
set in the corner of the kitchen since her father’s time, discovering
things which she had mislaid for years—and forgotten—but not coming upon
the card in question right away.

“Of course I’ve got it,” she declared. “I never lose anything—I never
throw a scrap of anything away that might come of use——”

And still she rummaged. Tom came back with the cart and Ruth had to go
shopping. “But do look, Miss Pettis,” she begged, “and we’ll stop again
before we go back to the farm.”

Tom and she were some time selecting a dozen timely, funny, and
attractive nicknacks for the fresh airs. But they succeeded at last, and
Ruth was sure the girls would be pleased with their selections.

“So much better than spending the money for noise and a powder smell,”
added Ruth.

“Humph! the kids would like the noise all right,” sniffed Tom. “I heard
those little chaps begging Mr. Caslon for punk and firecrackers. That
old farmer was a boy himself once, and I bet he got something for them
that will smell of powder, beside the little tad of fireworks he showed
me.”

“Oh! I hope they won’t any of them get burned.”

“Kind of put a damper on the ‘safe and sane Fourth’ Mr. Steele spoke
about, eh?” chuckled Tom.

Miss Pettis was looking out of the window and smiling at them when they
arrived back at the cottage. She held in her hand a yellowed bit of
pasteboard, which she passed to the eager Ruth.

“Where do you suppose I found it, Ruthie?” she demanded.

“I couldn’t guess.”

“Why, stuck right into the corner of my lookin’-glass in my bedroom. I
s’pose I have handled it every day I’ve dusted that glass for three
year, an’ then couldn’t remember where it was. Ain’t that the
beatenes’?”

Ruth and Tom drove off in high excitement. She had already told Master
Tom all about the Raby romance—such details as he did not already
know—and now they both looked at the yellowed business card before Ruth
put it safely away in her pocket:

                           Mr. Angus MacDorough
                               _Solicitor_
                        13, King Crescent, Quebec

“Mr. Steele will go right ahead with this, I know,” said Tom, nodding.
“He’s taken a fancy to those kids——”

“Well! he ought to, to Sadie!” cried Ruth.

“Sure. And he’s a generous man, after all. Too bad he’s taken such a
dislike to old Caslon.”

“Oh, dear, Tom! we ought to fix that,” sighed Ruth.

“Crickey! you’d tackle any job in the world, I believe, Ruthie, if you
thought you could help folks.”

“Nonsense! But both of them—both Mr. Steele and Mr. Caslon—are such
awfully nice people——”

“Well! there’s not much hope, I guess. Mr. Steele’s lawyer is trying to
find a flaw in Caslon’s title. It seems that, way back, a long time ago,
some of the Caslons got poor, or careless, and the farm was sold for
taxes. It was never properly straightened out—on the county records,
anyway—and the lawyer is trying to see if he can’t buy up the interest
of whoever bought the farm in at that time—or their heirs—and so have
some kind of a basis for a suit against old Caslon.”

“Goodness! that’s not very clear,” said Ruth, staring.

“No. It’s pretty muddy. But you know how some lawyers are. And Mr.
Steele is willing to hire the shyster to do it. He thinks it’s all
right. It’s business.”

“_Your_ father wouldn’t do such a thing, Tom!” cried Ruth.

“No. I hope he wouldn’t, anyway,” said Master Tom, wagging his head.
“But I couldn’t say that to Bobbins when he told me about it, could I?”

“No call to. But, oh, dear! I hope Mr. Steele won’t be successful. I do
hope he won’t be.”

“Same here,” grunted Tom. “Just the same, he’s a nice man, and I like
him.”

“Yes—so do I,” admitted Ruth. “But I’d like him so much more, if he
wouldn’t try to get the best of an old man like Mr. Caslon.”

The Raby matter, however, was a more pleasant topic of conversation for
the two friends. The big bay horse got over the ground rapidly—Tom said
the creature did not know a hill when he saw one!—and it still lacked
half an hour of noon when they came in sight of Caslon’s house.

The orphans were all in force in the front yard. Mr. Caslon appeared,
too.

That yard was untidy for the first time since Ruth had seen it. And most
of the untidiness was caused by telltale bits of red, yellow, and green
paper. Even before the cart came to the gate, Ruth smelled the tang of
powder smoke.

“Oh, Tom! they _have_ got firecrackers,” she exclaimed.

“So have I—a whole box full—under the front seat,” chuckled Tom. “What’s
the Fourth without a weeny bit of noise? Bobbins and I are going to let
them off in a big hogshead he’s found behind the stable.”

“You boys are rascals!” breathed Ruth. “Why! there are the twins!”

Sadie’s young brothers ran out to the cart. Mr. Caslon appeared with a
good-sized box in his arms, too.

“Just take this—and the youngsters—aboard, will you, young fellow?” said
the farmer. “Might as well have all the rockets and such up there on the
hill. They’ll show off better. And the twins was down for the clean
clo’es mother promised them.”

It was a two-seated cart and there was plenty of room for the two boys
on the back seat. Mr. Caslon carefully placed the open box in the bottom
of the cart, between the seats. The fireworks he had purchased had been
taken out of their wrappings and were placed loosely in the box.

“There ye are,” said the farmer, jovially. “Hop up here, youngsters!”

He seized Willie and hoisted him into the seat. But Dickie had run
around to the other side of the cart and clambered up like a monkey, to
join his brother.

“All right, sir,” said Tom, wheeling the eager bay horse. It was nearing
time for the latter’s oats, and he smelled them! “Out of the way, kids.
They’ll send a wagon down for you, all right, after luncheon, I reckon.”

Just then Ruth happened to notice something smoking in Dickie’s hand.

“What have you there, child?” she demanded. “Not a nasty cigarette?”

He held out, solemnly, and as usual wordlessly, a smoking bit of punk.

“Where did you get that? Oh! drop it!” cried Ruth, fearing for the
fireworks and the explosives under the front seat. She meant for Dickie
to throw it out of the wagon, but the youngster took the command
literally.

He dropped it. He dropped it right into the box of fireworks. Then
things began to happen!



CHAPTER XXI—A VERY BUSY TIME


“Oh, Tom!” shrieked Ruth, and seized the boy’s arm. The bay horse was
just plunging ahead, eager to be off for the stable and his manger. The
high cart was whirled through the gateway as the first explosion came!

Pop,pop,pop! sputter—BANG!

It seemed as though the horse leaped more than his own length, and
yanked all four wheels of the cart off the ground. There was a chorus of
screams in the Caslons’ dooryard, but after that first cry, Ruth kept
silent.

The rockets shot out of the box amidships with a shower of sparks. The
Roman candles sprayed their varied colored balls—dimmed now by
daylight—all about the cart.

Tom hung to the lines desperately, but the scared horse had taken the
bit in his teeth and was galloping up the road toward Sunrise Farm,
quite out of hand.

After that first grab at Tom’s arm, Ruth did not interfere with him. She
turned about, knelt on the seat-cushion, and, one after the other, swept
the twins across the sputtering, shooting bunch of fireworks, and into
the space between her and Tom and the dashboard.

Providentially the shooting rockets headed into the air, and to the
rear. As the big horse dashed up the hill, swinging the light vehicle
from side to side behind him, there was left behind a trail of smoke and
fire that (had it been night-time) would have been a brilliant
spectacle.

Mr. Caslon and the orphans started after the amazing thing tearing up
the road—but to no purpose. Nothing could be done to stop the explosion
now. The sparks flew all about. Although Mr. Caslon had bought a wealth
of small rockets, candles, mines, flower-pots, and the like, never had
so many pieces been discharged in so short a time!

It was sputter, sputter, bang, bang, the cart vomiting flame and smoke,
while the horse became a perfectly frenzied creature, urged on by the
noise behind him. Tom could only cling to the reins, Ruth clung to the
twins, and all by good providence were saved from an overturn.

All the time—and, of course, the half-mile or more from Caslons’ to the
entrance to the Steele estate, was covered in a very few moments—all the
time Ruth was praying that the fire-crackers Tom had bought and hidden
under the front seat would not be ignited.

The reports of the rockets, and the like, became desultory. Some set
pieces and triangles went off with the hissing of snakes. Was the
explosion over?

So it seemed, and the maddened horse turned in at the gateway. The cart
went in on two wheels, but it did not overturn.

The race had begun to tell on the bay. He was covered with foam and his
pace was slackening. Perhaps the peril was over—Ruth drew a long breath
for the first time since the horse had made its initial jump.

And then—with startling suddenness—there was a sputter and bang! Off
went the firecrackers, package after package. A spark had burned through
the paper wrapper and soon there was such a popping under that front
seat as shamed the former explosions!

Had the horse been able to run any faster, undoubtedly he would have
done so; but as the cart went tearing up the drive toward the front of
the big house, the display of fireworks, etc., behind the front seat,
and the display of alarm on the part of the four on the seat, advertised
to all beholders that the occasion was not, to say the least, a common
one.

The cart itself was scorched and was afire in places, the sputtering of
the fire-crackers continued while the horse tore up the hill. Tom had
bought a generous supply and it took some time for them all to explode.

Fortunately the front drop of the seat was a solid panel of deal, or
Ruth’s skirt might have caught on fire—or perhaps the legs of the twins
would have been burned.

As for the two little fellows, they never even squealed! Their eyes
shone, they had lost their caps in the back of the cart, their short
curls blew out straight in the wind, and their cheeks glowed. When the
runaway appeared over the crest of the hill and the crowd at Sunrise
Farm beheld them, it was evident that Willie and Dickie were enjoying
themselves to the full!

Poor Tom, on whose young shoulders the responsibility of the whole
affair rested, was braced back, with his feet against the footboard, the
lines wrapped around his wrists, and holding the maddened horse in to
the best of his ability.

Bobbins on one side, and Ralph Tingley on the other, ran into the
roadway and caught the runaway by the bridle. The bay was, perhaps,
quite willing to halt by this time. Mr. Steele ran out, and his first
exclamation was:

“My goodness, Tom Cameron! you’ve finished that horse!”

“I hope not, sir,” panted Tom, rather pale. “But I thought he’d finish
us before he got through.”

By this time the explosions had ceased. Everything of an explosive
nature—saving the twins themselves—in the cart seemed to have gone off.
And now Willie ejaculated:

“Gee! I never rode so fast before. Wasn’t it great, Dickie?”

“Yep,” agreed Master Dickie, with rather more emphasis than usual.

Sister Sadie appeared from the rear premises, vastly excited, too, but
when she lifted the twins down and found not a scratch upon them, she
turned to Ruth with a delighted face.

“You took care of them just like you loved ’em, Miss,” she whispered, as
Ruth tumbled out of the cart, too, into her arms. “Oh, dear! don’t you
dare get sick—you ain’t hurt, are you?”

“No, no!” exclaimed Ruth, having hard work to crowd back the tears. “But
I’m almost scared to death. That—that young one!” and she grabbed at
Dickie. “What did you drop that punk into the fireworks for?”

“Huh?” questioned the imperturbable Dickie.

“Why didn’t you throw that lighted punk away?” and Ruth was tempted to
shake the little rascal.

But instantly the voluble Willie shouldered his way to the front. “Gee,
Miss! he thought you wanted him to drop it right there. You said so.
An’—an’—— Well, he didn’t know the things in the box would go off of
themselves. Did you Dickie?”

“Nope,” responded his twin.

“Do forgive ’em, Miss Ruth,” whispered Sadie Raby. “I wouldn’t want Mr.
Steele to get after ’em. You know—he can be sumpin’ fierce!”

“Well,” sighed Ruth Fielding, “they’re the ‘terrible twins’ right
enough. Oh, Tom!” she added, as young Cameron came to her to shake
hands.

“You’re getting better and better,” said Tom, grinning. “I’d rather be
in a wreck with you, Ruthie—of almost any kind—than with anybody else I
know. Those kids don’t even know what you saved them from, when you
dragged ’em over the back of that seat.”

“Sh!” she begged, softly.

“And it’s a wonder we weren’t all blown to glory!”

“It was a mercy we were not seriously hurt,” agreed Ruth.

But then there was too much bustle and general talk for them to discuss
the incident quietly. The horse was led away to the stable and there
attended to. Fortunately he was not really injured, but the cart would
have to go to the painter’s.

“A fine beginning for this celebration we have on hand,” declared Mr.
Steele, looking ruefully at his wife. “If all that can happen with only
two of those fresh air kids, as Bob calls them, on hand, what do you
suppose will happen to-night when we have a dozen at Sunrise Farm?”

“Mercy!” gasped the lady. “I am trembling in my shoes—I am, indeed. But
we have agreed to do it, Father, and we must carry it through.”



CHAPTER XXII—THE TERRIBLE TWINS ON THE RAMPAGE


The girls who had come to Sunrise Farm to visit at Madge Steele’s
invitation, felt no little responsibility when it came to the
entertainment for the fresh air orphans. As The Fox said, with her usual
decision:

“Now that we’ve put Madge and her folks into this business, we’ll just
have to back up their play, and make sure that the fresh airs don’t tear
the place down. And that Sadie will have to keep an eye on the ‘terrible
twins.’ Is that right?”

“I’ve spoken to poor Sadie,” said Ruth, with a sigh. “I am afraid that
Mrs. Steele is very much worried over what may occur to-night, while the
children are here. We’ll have to be on the watch all the time.”

“I should say!” exclaimed Heavy Stone. “Let’s suggest to Mr. Steele that
he rope off a place out front where he is going to have the fireworks.
Some of those little rascals will want to help celebrate, the way Willie
and Dickie did,” and the plump girl giggled ecstatically.

“’Twas no laughing matter, Jennie,” complained Ruth, shaking her head.

“Well, that’s all right,” Lluella broke in. “If Tom hadn’t bought the
fire-crackers—and that was right against Mr. Steele’s advice——”

“Oh, here now!” interrupted Helen, loyal to her twin. “Tom wasn’t any
more to blame than Bobbins. They were just bought for a joke.”

“It was a joke all right,” Belle said, laughing. “Who’s going to pay for
the damage to the cart?”

“Now, let’s not get to bickering,” urged Ruth. “What’s done, is done. We
must plan now to make the celebration this afternoon and evening as easy
for Mrs. Steele as possible.”

This conversation went on after luncheon, while Bob and Tom had driven
down the hill with a big wagon to bring up the ten remaining orphans
from Mr. Caslon’s place.

The gaily decorated wagon came in sight just about this time.
Fortunately the decorations Tom and Ruth had purchased that forenoon in
Darrowtown had not been destroyed when the fireworks went off in the
cart.

The girls from Briarwood Hall welcomed the fresh airs cheerfully and
took entire charge of the six little girls. The little boys did not wish
to play “girls’ games” on the lawn, and therefore Bob and his chums
agreed to keep an eye on the youngsters, including the “terrible twins.”

Sadie had been drafted to assist Madge and her mother, and some of the
maids, in preparing for the evening collation. Therefore the visitors
were divided for the time into two bands.

The girls from the orphanage were quiet enough and well behaved when
separated from their boy friends. Indeed, on the lawn and under the big
tent Mr. Steele had had erected, the celebration of a “safe and sane”
Fourth went on in a most commendable way.

It was a very hot afternoon, and after indulging in a ball game in the
field behind the stables, Bobbins, in a thoughtless moment, suggested a
swim. Half a mile away there was a pond in a hollow. The boys had been
there almost every day for a dip, and Bob’s suggestion was hailed—even
by the usually thoughtful Tom Cameron—with satisfaction.

“What about the kids?” demanded Ralph Tingley.

“Let them come along,” said Bobbins.

“Sure,” urged Busy Izzy. “What harm can come to them? We’ll keep our
eyes on them.”

The twins and their small chums from the orphanage were eager to go to
the pond, too, and so expressed themselves. The half-mile walk through
the hot sun did not make them quail. They were proud to be allowed to
accompany the bigger boys to the swimming hole.

The little fellows raced along in their bare feet behind the bigger boys
and were pleased enough, until they reached the pond and learned that
they would only be allowed to go in wading, while the others slipped
into their bathing trunks and “went in all over.”

“No! you can’t go in,” declared Bobbins, who put his foot down with
decision, having his own small brothers in mind. (They had been left
behind, by the way, to be dressed for the evening.)

“Say! the water won’t wet us no more’n it does you—will it, Dickie?”
demanded the talkative twin.

“Nope,” agreed his brother.

“Now, you kids keep your clothes on,” said Bob, threateningly. “And
don’t wade more than to your knees. If you get your overalls wet, you’ll
hear about it. You know Mrs. Caslon fixed you all up for the afternoon
and told you to keep clean.”

The smaller chaps were unhappy. That was plain. They paddled their dusty
feet in the water for a while, but the sight of the older lads diving
and swimming and having such a good time in the pond was a continual
temptation. The active minds of the terrible twins were soon at work.
Willie began to whisper to Dickie, and the latter nodded his head
solemnly.

“Say!” blurted out Willie, finally, as Bob and Tom were racing past them
in a boisterous game of “tag.” “We wanter go back. This ain’t no fun—is
it, Dickie?”

“Nope,” said his twin.

“Go on back, if you want to. You know the path,” said Bobbins,
breathlessly.

“We’re goin’, too,” said one of the other fresh airs.

“We’d rather play with the girls than stay here. Hadn’t we, Dickie?”
proposed Willie Raby.

“Yep,” agreed Master Dickie, with due solemnity.

“Go on!” cried Bob. “And see you go straight back to the house. My!” he
added to Tom, “but those kids are a nuisance.”

“Think we ought to let them go alone?” queried Tom, with some faint
doubt on the subject. “You reckon they’ll be all right, Bobbins?”

“Great Scott! they sure know the way to the house,” said Bob. “It’s a
straight path.”

But, as it happened, the twins had no idea of going straight to the
house. The pond was fed by a stream that ran in from the east. The
little fellows had seen this, and Willie’s idea was to circle around
through the woods and find that stream. There they could go in bathing
like the bigger boys, “and nobody would ever know.”

“Our heads will be wet,” objected one of the orphans.

“Gee!” said Willie Raby, “don’t let’s wet our heads. We ain’t got
to—have we?”

“Nope,” said his brother, promptly.

There was some doubt, still, in the minds of the other boys.

“What you goin’ to say to those folks up to the big house?” demanded one
of the fresh airs.

“Ain’t goin’ to say nothin’,” declared the bold Willie. “Cause why? they
ain’t goin’ to know—‘nless you fellers snitch.”

“Aw, who’s goin’ to snitch?” cried the objector, angered at once by the
accusation of the worst crime in all the category of boyhood. “We ain’t
no tattle-tales—are we, Jim?”

“Naw. We’re as safe to hold our tongues as you an’ yer brother are,
Willie Raby—so now!”

“Sure we are!” agreed the other orphans.

“Then come along,” urged the talkative twin. “Nobody’s got to know.”

“Suppose yer sister finds it out?” sneered one.

“Aw—well—she jes’ ain’t go’n’ ter,” cried Willie, exasperated. “An’ what
if she does? She runned away herself—didn’t she?”

The spirit of restlessness was strong in the Raby nature, it was
evident. Willie was a born leader. The others trailed after him when he
left the pathway that led directly back to Sunrise Farm, and pushed into
the thicker wood in the direction he believed the stream lay.

The juvenile leader of the party did not know (how should he?) that just
above the pond the stream which fed it made a sharp turn. Its waters
came out of a deep gorge, lying in an entirely different direction from
that toward which the “terrible twins” and their chums were aiming.

The little fellows plodded on for a long time, and the sun dropped
suddenly behind the hills to the westward, and there they were—quite
surprisingly to themselves—in a strange and fast-darkening forest.



CHAPTER XXIII—LOST


The girl visitors from Briarwood Hall did all they could to help the
mistress of Sunrise Farm and Madge prepare for the evening festivities,
and not alone in employing the attention of the six little girls from
the orphanage.

There were the decorations to arrange, and the paper lanterns to hang,
and the long tables on the porch to prepare for the supper. Twelve
extra, hungry little mouths to feed was, of itself, a fact of no small
importance.

When the wagon had come up from Caslon’s with the orphans, Mrs. Steele
had thought it rather a liberty on the part of the farmer’s wife because
she had, with the children, sent a great hamper of cakes, which she
(Mrs. Caslon) herself had baked the day before.

But the cakes were so good, and already the children were so hungry,
that the worried mistress of the big farm was thankful that these
supplies were in her pantry.

“When the boys come back from the pond, I expect they will be ravenous,
too,” sighed the good lady. “_Do_ you think, Madge, that there will be
enough ham and tongue sandwiches for supper? I am sure of the cream and
cake—thanks to that good old woman (though I hope your father won’t hear
me say it). But that is to be served after the fireworks. They will want
something hearty at suppertime—and goodness me, Madge! It is five
o’clock now. Those boys should be back from their swim.”

As for Mr. Steele, he was immensely satisfied with the celebration of
the day so far. To tell the truth, he had very little to do with the
work of getting ready for the orphans’ entertainment. Aside from the
explosion of the fireworks in the cart, the occasion had been a
perfectly “safe and sane” celebration of a holiday that he usually
looked forward to with no little dread.

Before anybody really began to worry over their delay, the boys came
into view. They had had a refreshing swim and announced the state of
their appetites the moment they joined the girls at the big tent.

“Yes, yes,” said Madge, “we know all about that, Bobbie dear. But his
little tootie-wootsums must wait till hims gets his bib put on, an’ let
sister see if his hannies is nice and clean. Can’t sit down to eat if
hims a dirty boy,” and she rumpled her big brother’s hair, while he
looked foolish enough over her “baby talk.”

“Don’t be ridiculous, Madge,” said Helen, briskly. “Of course they are
hungry—— But where’s the rest of them?”

“The rest of what?” demanded Busy Izzy. “I guess we’re all here.”

“Say! you _must_ be hungry,” chuckled Heavy. “Did you eat the kids?”

“What kids?” snapped Tom, in sudden alarm.

“The fresh airs, of course. The ‘terrible twins’ and their mates. My
goodness!” cried Ann Hicks, “you didn’t forget and leave them down there
at the pond, did you?”

The boys looked at each other for a moment. “What’s the joke?” Bobbins
finally drawled.

“It’s no joke,” Ruth said, quickly. “You don’t mean to say that you
forgot those little boys?”

“Now, stop that, Ruth Fielding!” cried Isadore Phelps, very red in the
face. “A joke’s a joke; but don’t push it too far. You know very well
those kids came back up here more’n an hour ago.”

“They didn’t do any such thing,” cried Sadie, having heard the
discussion, and now running out to the tent. “They haven’t been near the
house since you big boys took them to the pond. Now, say! what d’ye know
about it?”

“They’re playing a trick on us,” declared Tom, gloomily.

“Let’s hunt out in the stables, and around,” suggested Ralph Tingley,
feebly.

“Maybe they went back to Caslon’s,” Isadore said, hopefully.

“We’ll find out about that pretty quick,” said Madge. “I’ll tell father
and he’ll send somebody down to see if they went there.”

“Come on, boys!” exclaimed Tom, starting for the rear of the house.
“Those little scamps are fooling us.”

“Suppose they _have_ wandered away into the woods?” breathed Ruth to
Helen. “Whatever shall we do?”

Sadie could not wait. She was unable to remain idle, when it was
possible that the twin brothers she had so lately rejoined, were in
danger. She flashed after the boys and hunted the stables, too.

Nobody there had seen the “fresh airs” since they had followed the
bigger boys to the pond.

“And ye sure didn’t leave ’em down there?” demanded Sadie Raby of Tom.

“Goodness me! No!” exclaimed Tom. “They couldn’t go in swimming as we
did, and so they got mad and wouldn’t stay. But they started right up
this way, and we thought they were all right.”

“They might have slanted off and gone across the fields to Caslon’s,”
said Bobbins, doubtfully.

“That would have taken them into the back pasture where Caslon keeps his
Angoras—wouldn’t it?” demanded the much-worried young man.

“Well, you can go look for ’em with the goats,” snapped Sadie, starting
off. “But me for that Caslon place. If they didn’t go there, then they
are in the woods somewhere.”

She started down the hill, fleet-footed as a dog. Before Mr. Steele had
stopped sputtering over the catastrophe, and bethought him to start
somebody for the Caslon premises to make inquiries, Sadie came in view
again, with the old, gray-mustached farmer in tow.

The serious look on Mr. Caslon’s face was enough for all those waiting
at Sunrise Farm to realize that the absent children were actually lost.
Tom and Bobbins had come up from the goat pasture without having seen,
or heard, the six little fellows.

“I forgot to tell ye,” said Caslon, seriously, “that ye had to keep one
eye at least on them ‘terrible twins’ all the time. We locked ’em into
their bedroom at night. No knowin’ when or where they’re likely to break
out. But I reckoned this here sister of theirs would keep ’em close to
her——”

“Well!” snapped Sadie Raby, eyeing Tom and Bobbins with much disfavor,
“I thought that a bunch of big fellers like them could look after half a
dozen little mites.”

Mr. Steele had come forward slowly; the fact that the six orphan boys
really seemed to be lost, was an occasion to break down even _his_
barrier of dislike for the neighbor. Besides, Mr. Caslon ignored any
difference there might be between them in a most generous manner.

“I blame myself, Neighbor Steele—I sure do,” Mr. Caslon said, before the
owner of Sunrise Farm could speak. “I’d ought to warned you about them
twins. They got bit by the runaway bug bad—that’s right.”

“Humph! a family trait—is it?” demanded Mr. Steele, rather grimly eyeing
the sister of the runaways.

“I couldn’t say about that,” chuckled the farmer. “But Willie and Dickie
started off twice from our place, trailin’ most of the other kids with
’em. But I caught ’em in time. Now, their sister tells me, they’ve got
at least an hour and a half’s start.”

“It is getting dark—or it will soon be,” said Mr. Steele, nervously. “If
they are not found before night, I shall be greatly disturbed. I feel as
though I were responsible. My oldest boy, here——”

“Now, it ain’t nobody’s fault, like enough,” interrupted Mr. Caslon,
cheerfully, and seeing Bobbins’s woebegone face. “We’ll start right out
and hunt for them.”

“But if it grows dark——”

“Let me have what men you can spare, and all the lanterns around the
place,” said Caslon, briskly, taking charge of the matter on the
instant. “These bigger boys can help.”

“I—I can go with you, sir,” began Mr. Steele, but the farmer waved him
back.

“No. You ain’t used to the woods—nor to trampin’—like I be. And it won’t
hurt your boys. You leave it to us—we’ll find ’em.”

Mrs. Steele had retired to the tent on the lawn in tears, and most of
the girls were gathered about her. Sadie Raby clung to Farmer Caslon’s
side, and nobody tried to call her back.

Since returning from Darrowtown that morning, Ruth Fielding had divulged
to Mr. Steele all she had discovered through Miss True Pettis regarding
the Raby family, and about the Canadian lawyer who had once searched for
Mrs. Raby and her children.

The gentleman had expressed deep interest in the matter, and while the
fresh air children were being entertained during the afternoon, Mr.
Steele had already set in motion an effort to learn the whereabouts of
Mr. Angus MacDorough and to discover just what the property was that had
been willed to the mother of the Raby orphans.

Sadie had been told nothing about this wonderful discovery as yet.
Indeed, there had been no time. Sadie had been busy, with Mrs. Steele
and the others, in preparing for that “safe and sane” celebration with
which Mr. Steele had desired to entertain the “terrible twins” and their
little companions at Sunrise Farm.

Now this sudden catastrophe had occurred. The loss of the six little
boys was no small trouble. It threatened to be a tragedy.

Down there beyond the pond the mountainside was heavily timbered, and
there were many dangerous ravines and sudden precipices over which a
careless foot might stray.

Dusk was coming on. In the wood it would already be dark. And if the
frightened children went plunging about, seeking, in terror, to escape,
they might at any moment be cast into some pit where the searchers would
possibly never find them.

Mr. Steele felt his responsibility gravely. He was, at best, a nervous
man, and this happening assumed the very gravest outlines in his anxious
mind.

“Never ought to have let them out of my own sight,” he sputtered, having
Ruth for a confidant. “I might have known something extraordinary would
happen. It was a crazy thing to have all those children up here,
anyway.”

“Oh, dear, Mr. Steele!” cried Ruth, much worried, “_that_ is partly my
fault. I was one of those who suggested it.”

“Nonsense! nonsense, child! Nobody blames you,” returned the gentleman.
“I should have put my foot down and said ‘No.’ Nobody influenced me at
all. Why—why, I _wanted_ to give the poor little kiddies a nice time.
And now—see what has come of it?”

“Oh, it may be that they will be found almost at once,” cried Ruth,
hopefully. “I am sure Mr. Caslon will do what he can——”

“Caslon’s an eminently practical man—yes, indeed,” admitted Mr. Steele,
and not grudgingly. “If anybody can find them, he will, I have no
doubt.”

And this commendation of the neighbor whom he so disliked struck Ruth
completely silent for the time being.



CHAPTER XXIV—“SO THAT’S ALL RIGHT”


“And here it is ‘ong past suppertime,” groaned Heavy; “it’s getting
darker every minute, and the fireworks ought to be set off, and we can’t
do a thing!”

“Who’d have the heart to eat, with those children wandering out there in
the woods?” snapped Mercy Curtis.

“What’s _heart_ got to do with eating?” grumbled the plump girl. “And I
was thinking quite as much of the little girls here as I was of myself.
Why! here is one of the poor kiddies asleep, I do declare.”

The party in the big tent was pretty solemn. Even the six little girls
from the orphanage could not play, or laugh, under the present
circumstances. And, in addition, it looked as though all the fun for the
evening would be spoiled.

The searching party had been gone an hour. Those remaining behind had
seen the twinkling lanterns trail away over the edge of the hill and
disappear. Now all they could see from the tent were the stars, and the
fireflies, with now and then a rocket soaring heavenward from some
distant farm, or hamlet, where the Glorious Fourth was being fittingly
celebrated.

Madge and Helen came out with a hamper of sandwiches and there was
lemonade, but not even the little folk ate with an appetite. The day
which, at Sunrise Farm, was planned to be so memorable, threatened now
to be remembered for a very unhappy cause.

Down in the wood lot that extended from below some of Mr. Steele’s
hayfields clear into the next township, the little party of searchers,
led by old Mr. Caslon, had separated into parties of two each, to comb
the wilderness.

None of the men knew the wood as did Mr. Caslon, and of course the boys
and Sadie (who had refused to go back) were quite unfamiliar with it.

“Don’t go out of sight of the flash of each other’s lanterns,” advised
the farmer.

And by sticking to this rule it was not likely that any of the sorely
troubled searchers would, themselves, be lost. As they floundered
through the thick undergrowth, they shouted, now and then, as loudly as
they could. But nothing but the echoes, and the startled nightbirds,
replied.

Again and again they called for the lost boys by name. Sadie’s shrill
voice carried as far as anybody’s, without doubt, and her crying for
“Willie” and “Dickie” should have brought those delinquents to light,
had they heard her.

Sadie stuck close to Mr. Caslon, as he told her to. But the way through
the brush was harder for the girl than for the rest of them. Thick mats
of greenbriars halted them. They were torn, and scratched, and stung by
the vegetable pests; yet Sadie made no complaint.

As for the mosquitoes and other stinging insects—well, they were out on
this night, it seemed, in full force. They buzzed around the heads of
the searchers in clouds, attracted by the lanterns. Above, in the trees,
complaining owls hooted their objections to the searchers’ presence in
the forest. The whip-poor-wills reiterated their determination from dead
limbs or rotting fence posts. And in the wet places the deep-voiced
frogs gave tongue in many minor keys.

“Oh, dear!” sighed Sadie to the farmer, “the little fellers will be
scared half to death when they hear all these critters.”

“And how about you?” he asked.

“Oh, I’m used to ’em. Why, I’ve slept out in places as bad as this
more’n one night. But Willie and Dickie ain’t used to it.”

One end of the line of searchers touched the pond. They shouted that
information to the others, and then they all pushed on. It was in the
mind of all that, perhaps, the children had circled back to the pond.

But their shouts brought no hoped-for reply, although they echoed across
the open water, and were answered eerily from the farther shore.

There were six couples; therefore the line extended for a long way into
the wood, and swept a wide area. They marched on, bursting through the
vines and climbers, searching thick patches of jungle, and often
shouting in chorus till the wood rang again.

Tom and one of the stablemen, who were at the lower end of the line,
finally came to the mouth of that gorge out of which the brook sprang.
To the east of this opening lay a considerable valley and it was decided
to search this vale thoroughly before following the stream higher.

It was well they did so, for half a mile farther on, Tom and his
companion made a discovery. They came upon the tall, blasted trunk of a
huge old tree that had a great hollow at its foot. This hollow was
blinded by a growth of vines and brush, yet as Tom flashed his lantern
upon it, it seemed to him as though the vines had been disturbed.

“It may be the lair of some animal, sir,” suggested the stableman, as
Tom attempted to peer in.

“Nothing much more dangerous than foxes in these woods now, I am told,”
returned the boy. “And this is not a fox’s burrow—hello!”

His sudden, delighted shriek rang through the wood and up the hillside.

“I’ve found them! I’ve found them!” the boy repeated, and dived into the
hollow tree.

His lantern showed him and the stableman the six wanderers rolled up
like kittens in a nest. They opened their eyes sleepily, yawning and
blinking. One began to snivel, but Willie Raby at once delivered a sharp
punch to that one, saying, in grand disgust:

“Baby! Didn’t I tell you they’d come for us? They was sure to—wasn’t
they, Dickie?”

“Yep,” responded that youngster, quite as cool about it as his brother.

Tom’s shouts brought the rest of the party in a hurry. Mr. Caslon hauled
each “fresh air” out by the collar and stood him on his feet. When he
had counted them twice over to make sure, he said:

“Well, sir! of all the young scamps that ever were born—Willie Raby!
weren’t you scared?”

“Nope,” declared Willie. “Some of these other kids begun ter snivel when
it got dark; but Dickie an’ me would ha’ licked ’em if they’d kep’ that
up. Then we found that good place to sleep——”

“But suppose it had been the bed of some animal?” asked Bobbins,
chuckling.

“Nope,” said Willie, shaking his head. “There was spider webs all over
the hole we went in at, so we knowed nobody had been there much lately.
And it was a pretty good place to sleep. Only it was too warm in there
at first. I couldn’t get to sleep right away.”

“But you didn’t hear us shouting for you?” queried one of the other
searchers.

“Nope. I got to sleep. You see, I thought about bears an’ burglars an’
goblins, an’ all those sort o’ things, an’ that made me shiver, so I
went to sleep,” declared the earnest twin.

A shout of laughter greeted this statement. The searchers picked up the
little fellows and carried them down to the edge of the pond, where the
way was much clearer, and so on to the plain path to Sunrise Farm.

So delighted were they to have found the six youngsters without a
scratch upon them, that nobody—not even Mr. Caslon—thought to ask the
runaways how they had come to wander so far from Sunrise Farm.

It was ten o’clock when the party arrived at the big house on the hill.
Isadore had run ahead to tell the good news and everybody was
aroused—even to the six fellow-orphans of the runaways—to welcome the
wanderers.

“My goodness! let’s have the fireworks and celebrate their return,”
exclaimed Madge.

But Mr. Steele quickly put his foot down on that.

“I am afraid that Willie and Dickie, and Jim and the rest of them, ought
really to be punished for their escapade, and the trouble and fright
they have given us,” declared the proprietor of Sunrise Farm.

“However, perhaps going without their supper and postponing the rest of
the celebration until to-morrow night, will be punishment enough. But
don’t you let me hear of you six boys trying to run away again, while
you remain with Mr. and Mrs. Caslon,” and he shook a threatening finger
at the wanderers.

“Now Mr. and Mrs. Caslon will take you home,” for the big wagon had been
driven around from the stables while he was speaking. Mrs. Caslon, too
worried to remain in doubt about the fresh airs, had trudged away up the
hill to Sunrise Farm, while the party was out in search of the lost
ones.

Mrs. Steele and the girls bade a cordial good-night to the farmer’s
wife, as she climbed up to the front seat of the vehicle on one side. On
the other, Mr. Steele stopped Mr. Caslon before he could climb up.

“The women folks have arranged for you and your wife to come to-morrow
evening and help take care of these little mischiefs, while we finish
the celebration,” said the rich man, with a detaining hand upon Mr.
Caslon’s shoulder. “We need you.”

“I reckon so, neighbor,” said the farmer, chuckling. “We’re a little
more used to them lively young eels than you be.”

“And—and we want you and your wife to come for your own sakes,” added
Mr. Steele, in some confusion. “We haven’t even been acquainted before,
sir. I consider that I am at fault, Caslon. I hope you’ll overlook it
and—and—as you say yourself—_be neighborly_.”

“Sure! Of course!” exclaimed the old man, heartily. “Ain’t no need of
two neighbors bein’ at outs, Mr. Steele. You’ll find that soft words
butter more parsnips than any other kind. If you an’ I ain’t jest agreed
on ev’ry p’int, let’s get together an’ settle it ourselves. No need of
lawyers’ work in it,” and the old farmer climbed nimbly to the high
seat, and the wagon load of cheering, laughing youngsters started down
the hill.

“And so _that’s_ all right,” exclaimed the delighted Ruth, who had heard
the conversation between the two men, and could scarcely hide her
delight in it.

“I feel like dancing,” she said to Helen. “I just _know_ Mr. Steele and
Mr. Caslon will understand each other after this, and that there will be
no quarrel between them over the farms.”

Which later results proved to be true. Not many months afterward, Madge
wrote to Ruth that her father and the old farmer had come to a very
satisfactory agreement. Mr. Caslon had agreed to sell the old homestead
to Mr. Steele for a certain price, retaining a life occupancy of it for
himself and wife, and, in addition, the farmer was to take over the
general superintendency of Sunrise Farm for Mr. Steele, on a yearly
salary.

“So much for the work of the ‘terrible twins’!” Ruth declared when she
heard this, for the girl of the Red Mill did not realize how much she,
herself, had to do with bringing about Mr. Steele’s change of attitude
toward his neighbor.



CHAPTER XXV—THE ORPHANS’ FORTUNE


A great deal happened at Sunrise Farm before these later occurrences
which so delighted Ruth Fielding. The excitement of the loss of the six
“fresh airs” was not easily forgotten. Whenever any of the orphans was
on the Sunrise premises again, they had a bodyguard of older girls or
boys who kept a bright lookout that nothing unusual happened to them.

As for the twins, Sadie took them in hand with a reformatory spirit that
amazed Willie and Dickie. Those two youngsters were kept at Sunrise Farm
and put in special charge of Sadie. Thus Mr. Steele had the three Raby
orphans under his own eye until he could hear from Canada, and from the
orphanage, and learn all the particulars of the fortune that might be in
store for them.

After a bit Willie and Dickie found the watchfulness of their sister
somewhat irksome.

“Say!” the talkative twin observed, “you ain’t got no reason to be so
sharp on us, Sadie Raby. _You_ run away your ownself—didn’t she,
Dickie?”

“Yep,” agreed the oracular one.

“An’ we don’t want no gal follerin’ us around and tellin’ us to ‘stop’
all the time—do we, Dickie?”

“Nope.”

“We’re big boys now,” declared Willie, strutting like the young bantam
he was. “There ain’t nothin’ goin’ to hurt us. We’re too big——”

“What’s that on your finger—— No! the other one?” snapped Sadie, eyeing
Willie sharply.

“Scratch,” announced the boy.

“Where’d you get it?”

“I—I cut it on the cat,” admitted Willie, with less bombast.

“Humph! you’re a big boy—ain’t you? Don’t even know enough to let the
cat alone—and I hope her claw done you some good. Come here an’ let me
borrer Miss Ruth’s peroxide bottle and put some on it. Cat’s claws is
poison,” said Sadie. “You ain’t so fit to get along without somebody
watchin’ you as ye think, kid. Remember that, now.”

“We don’t want no gal trailin’ after us all the time!” cried Willie,
angrily. “An’ we ain’t goin’ to stand it,” and he kicked his bare toe
into the sand to express the emphasis that his voice would not vent.

“Humph!” said Sadie, eyeing him sideways, meanwhile trimming carefully a
stout branch she had broken from the lilac bush. “So you want to be your
own boss, do you, Willie Raby?”

“We _be_ our own boss—ain’t we, Dickie?”

For the first time, the echo of Dickie’s agreement failed to
materialize. Dickie was eyeing that lilac sprout—and looked from that to
his sister’s determined face. He backed away several feet and put his
hands behind him.

“And so you ain’t goin’ to mind me—nor Miss Ruth—nor Mr. Steele—nor Mr.
Caslon—nor nobody?” proceeded Sadie, more earnestness apparent in each
section of her query.

Her hand reached out suddenly and gripped Willie by the shoulder of his
shirt. He tried to writhe out of her grasp, but his sister’s muscles
were hardened, and she was twice as strong as Willie had believed. The
lilac sprout was raised.

“So you’re too big to mind anybody, heh?” she queried.

“Yes, we be!” snarled the writhing Willie. “Ain’t we, Dickie?”

“No, we’re not!” screamed his twin, suddenly, refusing to echo Willie’s
declaration. “Don’t hit him, Sade! Oh, don’t!” and he cast himself upon
his sister and held her tight about the waist. “We—we’ll be good,” he
sobbed.

“How about it, Willie Raby?” demanded the stern sister, without lowering
the stick. “Are you goin’ to mind and be good?”

Willie stared, tried to writhe away, saw it was no use, and capitulated.
“Aw—yes—if _he’s_ goin’ to cry about it,” he grumbled. He said it with
an air intimating that Dickie was, after all, quite a millstone about
his neck and would always be holding him back from deeds of valor which
Willie, himself, knew he could perform.

However, the twins behaved pretty well after that. They remained with
Sadie at Sunrise Farm, for the whole Steele family had become interested
in them.

The inquiries Mr. Steele set afoot resulted, in a short time, in
information of surprising moment to the three Raby orphans. The old
inquiry which had brought the lawyer, Mr. Angus MacDorough, to
Darrowtown three years before, was ferreted out by another lawyer
engaged by Mr. Steele.

It was found that Mr. MacDorough had, soon after his visit to the States
in the matter of the Raby fortune, been stricken ill and, after a long
sickness, had died. His affairs had never been straightened out, and his
business was still in a chaotic state.

However, it was found beyond a doubt that Mr. MacDorough had been
engaged to search out the whereabouts of Mrs. Tom Raby and her children
by the administrators of the estate of Mrs. Raby’s elderly relative, now
some time deceased.

Nearly two thousand dollars in American money had been left as a legacy
to the Rabys. In time this property was put into Mr. Steele’s care to
hold in trust for the three orphans—and it was enough to promise them
all an education and a start in life.

Had it not been so, Mr. and Mrs. Steele would have felt sufficiently in
Sadie’s debt, because of her having saved little Bennie Steele from the
hoofs of the Black Douglass, to have made the girl’s way—and that of the
twins—plain before them, until they were grown.

How much Ruth Fielding and her chum, Helen, were delighted by all this
can be imagined. Sadie held an almost worshipful attitude toward Ruth;
Ruth had been her first real friend when she ran away from “them
Perkinses.”

That Ruth and her chum bore the affairs of the Raby orphans in mind, and
continued to have many other and varied interests, as well as a
multitude of adventures during the summer, will be explained in the next
volume of our series, to be entitled: “Ruth Fielding and the Gypsies;
Or, The Missing Pearl Necklace.”

Meanwhile, the visit to Sunrise Farm came to a glorious close. The
belated Fourth of July was celebrated on the evening of the fifth, in a
perfectly “safe and sane” manner by the burning of the wealth of
fireworks that Mr. Steele had supplied.

The days that followed to the end of the stay of the girls of Briarwood
Hall and their brothers, were filled with delightful incidents. Picnics,
fishing parties, tramps over the hills, rides, games on the lawn, and
many other activities occupied the delightful hours at Sunrise Farm.

“This surely is the nicest place I ever was at,” Busy Izzy admitted, on
the closing day of the party. “If I have as good a time the rest of the
summer, I won’t mind going back to school and suffering for eight months
in the year.”

“Hear! hear!” cried Heavy Jennie Stone. “And the eats!”

“And the rides,” said Mercy Curtis, the lame girl. “Such beautiful rides
through the hills!”

“And such a fine time watching those fresh airs to see that they didn’t
kill themselves,” added Tom Cameron, with a grimace.

“Don’t say a word against the poor little dears, Tommy,” urged his
sister. “Suppose _you_ had to live in an for orphanage all but four
weeks in the year?”

“Tom is only fooling,” Ruth said, quietly. “I know him. He enjoyed
seeing the children have a good time, too.”

“Oh! if you say so, Miss Fielding,” said Tom, laughing and bowing to
her, “it must be so.”

The big yellow coach, with the four prancing horses, came around to the
door. Bobbins mounted to the driver’s seat and gathered up the ribbons.
The visitors climbed aboard.

Ruth stood up and waved her hand to the rest of the Steele family, and
Sadie and the twins gathered on the porch.

“We’ve had the finest time ever!” she cried. “We love you all for giving
us such a nice vacation. And we’re going to cheer you——”

And cheer they did. At the noise, the leaders sprang forward and the
yellow coach rolled away. Ruth, laughing, sat down suddenly beside her
chum, and Helen hugged her tight.

“We always have a dandy time when we go anywhere with _you_, Ruth,” she
declared. “For you always take your ‘good times’ with you.”

And perhaps Helen Cameron had made a very important discovery.


                                THE END



THE RUTH FIELDING SERIES

By ALICE B. EMERSON

12mo. Illustrated. Jacket in full colors.

Price 50 cents per volume. Postage 10 cents additional.

Ruth Fielding was an orphan and came to live with her miserly uncle. Her
adventures and travels make stories that will hold the interest of every
reader.

Ruth Fielding is a character that will live in juvenile fiction.

  1. RUTH FIELDING OF THE RED MILL
  2. RUTH FIELDING AT BRIARWOOD HALL
  3. RUTH FIELDING AT SNOW CAMP
  4. RUTH FIELDING AT LIGHTHOUSE POINT
  5. RUTH FIELDING AT SILVER RANCH
  6. RUTH FIELDING ON CLIFF ISLAND
  7. RUTH FIELDING AT SUNRISE FARM
  8. RUTH FIELDING AND THE GYPSIES
  9. RUTH FIELDING IN MOVING PICTURES
  10. RUTH FIELDING DOWN IN DIXIE
  11. RUTH FIELDING AT COLLEGE
  12. RUTH FIELDING IN THE SADDLE
  13. RUTH FIELDING IN THE RED CROSS
  14. RUTH FIELDING AT THE WAR FRONT
  15. RUTH FIELDING HOMEWARD BOUND
  16. RUTH FIELDING DOWN EAST
  17. RUTH FIELDING IN THE GREAT NORTHWEST
  18. RUTH FIELDING ON THE ST. LAWRENCE
  19. RUTH FIELDING TREASURE HUNTING
  20. RUTH FIELDING IN THE FAR NORTH
  21. RUTH FIELDING AT GOLDEN PASS
  22. RUTH FIELDING IN ALASKA
  23. RUTH FIELDING AND HER GREAT SCENARIO
  24. RUTH FIELDING AT CAMERON HALL
  25. RUTH FIELDING CLEARING HER NAME

CUPPLES & LEON COMPANY, Publishers NEW YORK



THE BARTON BOOKS FOR GIRLS

By MAY HOLLIS BARTON

12mo. Cloth. Illustrated. With colored jacket.

Price 50 cents per volume.

Postage 10 cents additional.

May Hollis Barton is a new writer for girls who is bound to win instant
popularity. Her style is somewhat of a reminder of that of Louisa M.
Alcott, but thoroughly up-to-date in plot and action. Clean tales that
all the girls will enjoy reading.

1. THE GIRL FROM THE COUNTRY or Laura Mayford’s City Experiences

2. THREE GIRL CHUMS AT LAUREL HALL or The Mystery of the School by the
Lake

3. NELL GRAYSON’S RANCHING DAYS or A City Girl in the Great West

4. FOUR LITTLE WOMEN OF ROXBY or The Queer Old Lady Who Lost Her Way

5. PLAIN JANE AND PRETTY BETTY or The Girl Who Won Out

6. LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE or The Old Bachelor’s Ward

7. HAZEL HOOD’S STRANGE DISCOVERY or The Old Scientist’s Treasure Box

8. TWO GIRLS AND A MYSTERY or The Old House in the Glen

9. THE GIRLS OF LIGHTHOUSE ISLAND or The Strange Sea Chest

10. KATE MARTIN’S PROBLEM or Facing the Wide World

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THE BETTY GORDON SERIES

By ALICE B. EMERSON

12mo. Cloth. Illustrated. Jacket in full colors.

Price per volume, 65 cents, postpaid

1. BETTY GORDON AT BRAMBLE FARM or The Mystery of a Nobody

  At twelve Betty is left an orphan.

2. BETTY GORDON IN WASHINGTON or Strange Adventures in a Great City

  Betty goes to the National Capitol to find her uncle and has several
  unusual adventures.

3. BETTY GORDON IN THE LAND OF OIL or The Farm That Was Worth a Fortune

  From Washington the scene is shifted to the great oil fields of our
  country. A splendid picture of the oil field operations of to-day.

4. BETTY GORDON AT BOARDING SCHOOL or The Treasure of Indian Chasm

  Seeking treasures of Indian Chasm makes interesting reading.

5. BETTY GORDON AT MOUNTAIN CAMP or The Mystery of Ida Bellethorne

  At Mountain Camp Betty found herself in the midst of a mystery.

6. BETTY GORDON AT OCEAN PARK or School Chums on the Boardwalk

  A glorious outing that Betty and her chums never forgot.

7. BETTY GORDON AND HER SCHOOL CHUMS or Bringing the Rebels to Terms

  Rebellious students, disliked teachers and mysterious robberies.

8. BETTY GORDON AT RAINBOW RANCH or Cowboy Joe’s Secret

  Betty and her chums have a grand time in the saddle.

9. BETTY GORDON IN MEXICAN WILDS or The Secret of the Mountains

  Betty receives a fake telegram and finds both Bob and herself held for
  ransom in a mountain cave.

10. BETTY GORDON AND THE LOST PEARLS or A Mystery of The Seaside

  Betty and her chums go to the ocean shore for a vacation and Betty
  becomes involved in the disappearance of a string of pearls.

11. BETTY GORDON ON THE CAMPUS or The Secret of the Trunk Room

  An up-to-date college story with a strange mystery that is bound to
  fascinate any girl reader.

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BILLIE BRADLEY SERIES

By JANET D. WHEELER

12mo. Cloth. Illustrated. Jacket in full colors.

Price per volume, 65 cents, postpaid

1. BILLIE BRADLEY AND HER INHERITANCE or The Queer Homestead at Cherry
Corners

Billie Bradley fell heir to an old homestead that was unoccupied and
located far away in a lonely section of the country. How Billie went
there, accompanied by some of her chums, and what queer things happened,
go to make up a story no girl will want to miss.

2. BILLIE BRADLEY AT THREE-TOWERS HALL or Leading a Needed Rebellion

Three-Towers Hall was a boarding school for girls. For a short time
after Billie arrived there all went well. But then the head of the
school had to go on a long journey and she left the girls in charge of
two teachers, sisters, who believed in severe discipline and in very,
very plain food and little of it—and then there was a row!

3. BILLIE BRADLEY ON LIGHTHOUSE ISLAND or The Mystery of the Wreck

One of Billie’s friends owned a summer bungalow on Lighthouse Island,
near the coast. The school girls made up a party and visited the Island.
There was a storm and a wreck, and three little children were washed
ashore.

4. BILLIE BRADLEY AND HER CLASSMATES or The Secret of the Locked Tower

Billie and her chums come to the rescue of several little children who
had broken through the ice. There is the mystery of a lost invention,
and also the dreaded mystery of the locked school tower.

5. BILLIE BRADLEY AT TWIN LAKES or Jolly Schoolgirls Afloat and Ashore

A tale of outdoor adventure in which Billie and her chums have a great
variety of adventures. They visit an artists’ colony and there fall in
with a strange girl living with an old boatman who abuses her
constantly.

6. BILLIE BRADLEY AT TREASURE COVE or The Old Sailor’s Secret

A lively story of school girl doings. How Billie heard of the treasure
and how she and her chums went in quest of the same is told in a
peculiarly absorbing manner.

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THE LINGER-NOT SERIES

By AGNES MILLER

12mo. Cloth. Illustrated. Jacket in full colors.

Price per volume, 50 cents. Postage 10 cents additional.

This new series of girls’ books is in a new style of story writing. The
interest is in knowing the girls and seeing them solve the problems that
develop their character. Incidentally, a great deal of historical
information is imparted.

1. THE LINGER-NOTS AND THE MYSTERY HOUSE or The Story of Nine
Adventurous Girls

How the Linger-Not girls met and formed their club seems commonplace,
but this writer makes it fascinating, and how they made their club serve
a great purpose continues the interest to the end, and introduces a new
type of girlhood.

2. THE LINGER-NOTS AND THE VALLEY FEUD or the Great West Point Chain

The Linger-Not girls had no thought of becoming mixed up with feuds or
mysteries, but their habit of being useful soon entangled them in some
surprising adventures that turned out happily for all, and made the
valley better because of their visit.

3. THE LINGER-NOTS AND THEIR GOLDEN QUEST or The Log of the Ocean
Monarch

For a club of girls to become involved in a mystery leading back into
the times of the California gold-rush, seems unnatural until the reader
sees how it happened, and how the girls helped one of their friends to
come into her rightful name and inheritance, forms a fine story.

4. THE LINGER-NOTS AND THE WHISPERING CHARM or The Secret from Old
Alaska

Whether engrossed in thrilling adventures in the Far North or occupied
with quiet home duties, the Linger-Not girls could work unitedly to
solve a colorful mystery in a way that interpreted American freedom to a
sad young stranger, and brought happiness to her and to themselves.

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THE GIRL SCOUT SERIES

By LILIAN GARIS

12mo. Cloth. Illustrated. Jacket in full colors.

Price per volume, 50 cents. Postage 10 cents additional.

The highest ideals of girlhood as advocated by the foremost
organizations of America form the background for these stories and while
unobtrusive there is a message in every volume.

1. THE GIRL SCOUT PIONEERS or Winning the First B. C.

A story of the True Tred Troop in a Pennsylvania town. Two runaway
girls, who want to see the city, are reclaimed through troop influence.
The story is correct in scout detail.

2. THE GIRL SCOUTS AT BELLAIRE or Maid Mary’s Awakening

The story of a timid little maid who is afraid to take part in other
girls’ activities, while working nobly alone for high ideals. How she
was discovered by the Bellaire Troop and came into her own as “Maid
Mary” makes a fascinating story.

3. THE GIRL SCOUTS AT SEA CREST or the Wig Wag Rescue

Luna Land, a little island by the sea, is wrapt in a mysterious
seclusion, and Kitty Scuttle, a grotesque figure, succeeds in keeping
all others at bay until the Girl Scouts come.

4. THE GIRL SCOUTS AT CAMP COMALONG or Peg of Tamarack Hills

The girls of Bobolink Troop spend their summer on the shores of Lake
Hocomo. Their discovery of Peg, the mysterious rider, and the clearing
up of her remarkable adventures afford a vigorous plot.

5. THE GIRL SCOUTS AT ROCKY LEDGE or Nora’s Real Vacation

Nora Blair is the pampered daughter of a frivolous mother. Her dislike
for the rugged life of Girl Scouts is eventually changed to
appreciation, when the rescue of little Lucia, a woodland waif, becomes
a problem for the girls to solve.

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THE RADIO GIRLS SERIES

By MARGARET PENROSE

12mo. Cloth. Illustrated. Jacket in full colors.

Price per volume, 65 cents, postpaid.

A new and up-to-date series, taking in the activities of several bright
girls who become interested in radio. The stories tell of thrilling
exploits, outdoor life and the great part the Radio plays in the
adventures of the girls and in solving their mysteries. Fascinating
books that girls of all ages will want to read.

1. THE RADIO GIRLS OF ROSELAWN or A Strange Message from the Air

Showing how Jessie Norwood and her chums became interested in
radiophoning, how they gave a concert for a worthy local charity, and
how they received a sudden and unexpected call for help out of the air.
A girl wanted as witness in a celebrated law case disappears, and the
radio girls go to the rescue.

2. THE RADIO GIRLS ON THE PROGRAM or Singing and Reciting at the Sending
Station

When listening in on a thrilling recitation or a superb concert number
who of us has not longed to “look behind the scenes” to see how it was
done? The girls had made the acquaintance of a sending station manager
and in this volume are permitted to get on the program, much to their
delight. A tale full of action and fun.

3. The RADIO GIRLS ON STATION ISLAND or The Wireless from the Steam
Yacht

In this volume the girls travel to the seashore and put in a vacation on
an island where is located a big radio sending station. The big brother
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party those on the island receive word by radio that the yacht is on
fire. A tale thrilling to the last page.

4. THE RADIO GIRLS AT FOREST LODGE or The Strange Hut in the Swamp

The Radio Girls spend several weeks on the shores of a beautiful lake
and with their radio get news of a great forest fire. It also aids them
in rounding up some undesirable folks who occupy the strange hut in the
swamp.

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By MINNIE E. PAULL

12mo. Cloth. Illustrated. Price per volume, 65 cents, postpaid.

Four bright and entertaining stories told in Mrs. Paull’s happiest
manner are among the best stories ever written for young girls, and
cannot fail to interest any between the ages of eight and fifteen years.

RUBY AND RUTHY

Ruby and Ruthie were not old enough to go to school, but they certainly
were lively enough to have many exciting adventures, that taught many
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RUBY’S UPS AND DOWNS

There were troubles enough for a dozen grown-ups, but Ruby got ahead of
them all, and, in spite of them, became a favorite in the lively times
at school.

RUBY AT SCHOOL

Ruby had many surprises when she went to the impossible place she heard
called a boarding school, but every experience helped to make her a
stronger-minded girl.

RUBY’S VACATION

This volume shows how a little girl improves by having varieties of
experience both happy and unhappy, provided she thinks, and is able to
use her good sense. Ruby lives and learns.

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