Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

´╗┐Title: The Castaways of Pete's Patch - A Sequel to the Adopting of Rosa Marie
Author: Rankin, Carroll Watson
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
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.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Castaways of Pete's Patch - A Sequel to the Adopting of Rosa Marie" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



produced from images made available by the HathiTrust
Digital Library.)



THE CASTAWAYS OF PETE'S PATCH

    _by_

    Carroll Watson Rankin

    _Illustrated by_

    ADA C. WILLIAMSON

    _Frontispiece and jacket illustrations
    by_ MIRIAM SELSS


How many girls have wished to spend a summer in a real camp on the
shores of a lake, with soft grass, kind to bare feet, comfortable camp
beds of fragrant balsam tips and plenty of real adventure.

Here are our friends of the Dandelion Cottage marooned on a point of
land. Indian boys, a castaway sailor lad, and many other happenings
fill this book full of delight for the girls, who, having read the
earlier volumes of the series, will be glad to meet again these cheery
little lassies of the justly famous Dandelion Cottage Series.

[Illustration: IT SEEMED TO MABEL THAT SHE COULD DETECT A SOUND OF
BREATHING]



Dandelion Series

THE CASTAWAYS OF PETE'S PATCH

    (_A Sequel to The Adopting of Rosa Marie_)

    BY

    CARROLL WATSON RANKIN

    Author of "Dandelion Cottage," "The Girls of
    Gardenville," etc.

    _With Illustrations by_
    ADA C. WILLIAMSON

[Illustration]

    NEW YORK
    HENRY HOLT AND COMPANY



    COPYRIGHT, 1911,

    BY

    HENRY HOLT AND COMPANY

    August, 1937

    PRINTED IN THE U. S. A. BY
    THE QUINN & BODEN COMPANY
    RAHWAY, N. J.



    TO

    ERNEST AND BERWICK

    AND ALL OTHER GOOD CAMPERS



CONTENTS


    CHAPTER                                      PAGE
            INTRODUCTION                           xi
         I. AN INNOCENT PLAN                        1
        II. THE TROUBLED WHALE                     12
       III. A PREDICAMENT                          24
        IV. A NIGHT OUT                            36
         V. THE MISSING WHALE                      49
        VI. THE COMING OF DAVE                     59
       VII. DELIVERED BY DAVE                      68
      VIII. THE PANGS OF HUNGER                    78
        IX. AN EXCITING AFTERNOON                  87
         X. A STORMY NIGHT                        100
        XI. DRY CLOTHES FOR FIVE                  110
       XII. MABEL'S ASTONISHING DISCOVERY         118
      XIII. BREAKING THE NEWS                     127
       XIV. A MISSING MESSENGER                   136
        XV. DOCTOR DAVE                           147
       XVI. A VALUABLE INSECT                     158
      XVII. THE GAME WARDEN'S VISIT               168
     XVIII. THE BOY'S NAME                        179
       XIX. A BELATED TRAVELER                    188
        XX. A SURPRISE PARTY                      199
       XXI. DAVE MAKES HIMSELF USEFUL             213
      XXII. A TWISTED CONSCIENCE                  225
     XXIII. BILLY'S MEMORY                        234
      XXIV. A MUTUAL FRIEND                       241
       XXV. A CAPTURED FISHERMAN                  252
      XXVI. IN FAIRYLAND                          264
     XXVII. A VISITOR FOR LADDIE                  274
    XXVIII. BREAKING CAMP                         285



THE PERSONS OF THE STORY


    BETTIE TUCKER}
    JEANIE MAPES } Once of Dandelion Cottage, now
    MARJORY VALE }         of Pete's Patch.
    MABEL BENNETT}

    HENRIETTA BEDFORD: Their Chum.

    MR. BLACK: A Childless but Fatherly Man.

    MRS. CRANE: His Warm-hearted Sister.

    DAVE GURNEAU: A Good and Bad Half-breed.

    MAHJIGEEZIGOQUA: An Old Acquaintance.

    MR. WILLIAM SAUNDERS: Mr. Black's Right-hand.

    MISS BLOSSOM: A Timely Visitor.

    ROSA MARIE: A Very Young Old Friend.

    TERRIBLE TIM: Always to the Point.

    BILLY BLUE-EYES: The Most Cast-away of all the Cast-aways.

    A Number of Parents and Other Necessary Grown-ups.



ILLUSTRATIONS


                                                               FACING
                                                                 PAGE
    IT SEEMED TO MABEL THAT SHE COULD DETECT A
        SOUND OF BREATHING                              _Frontispiece_
    THE SPACE BEHIND THE LOG WAS ALREADY OCCUPIED                 124
    SEATED ON THE DRY END WAS A STOUT, PLACID MAN                 256
    "MOTHER!" HE CRIED. "MOTHER! IT'S MY MOTHER!"                 276



INTRODUCTION


WHEN the biggest lake there is chooses to go on one of her very best
rampages, even the bravest of mariners make as speedily as possible for
safe harbors. At midnight, therefore, following a certain blustery day
in early summer, it was not strange that the huge, storm-tossed lake
appeared, for as far as eye could reach, absolutely deserted.

Somewhere, however, on that fearfully tumultuous sea, one direly
threatened craft was still abroad, and, what is a greater marvel, still
afloat. At best, the ancient yawl was but a poor excuse for a ship;
now, at her worst, she was little more than a raft. Driven before the
wind, tossed here and there by the buffeting waves, she carried a
solitary passenger and only a little one at that.

Indeed, he wasn't at all the kind of sailor that one would _expect_ to
find sailing dangerous seas all alone at midnight, for the solitary
mariner, adrift in all that wilderness of tumbling water, was a
twelve-year-old boy.

There was no sail to the little boat--that had been torn away in the
furious gale--but a short, stumpy mast remained. To that the boy,
happily unconscious of his plight, was firmly but rather clumsily bound
by means of many folds of stout fish-net wrapped tightly about his
slender body. Also about his waist hung a battered life-preserver.

The lad had been fastened there by other hands than his own, for
most of the knots were out of his reach. The little chap's head hung
forward; his eyes were closed; he no longer heard the roar of the sea
or felt the cold or suffered from hunger; but in spite of this merciful
oblivion, he still had a life to lose--and was in very grave danger of
losing it.

It isn't fair, of course, to leave a really attractive little lad in a
plight like this; with darkness and an angry sea all about him; with,
seemingly no possible help at hand, since the nearest coast was still
many miles distant and supposedly uninhabited.

Yet, in this truly terrible predicament, this poor boy--strange little
hero of a girls' story--must remain until you've learned just how a
certain "Whale" (you must admit that it isn't usual to find whales near
fresh water) contributed to his rescue.

To discover exactly how it all happened we must go way back to the very
beginning; and the beginning of it all was Bettie.



THE CASTAWAYS OF PETE'S PATCH



CHAPTER I

An Innocent Plan


"THIS," said Bettie Tucker, one morning, with approving glances at the
offerings heaped about her, "is certainly a pretty fine world. I'm glad
I stayed in it, even if I haven't feet enough for eleven pairs of pink
bed socks."

For an alarming number of weeks, Bettie's friends had feared that this
most lovable of little girls might _not_ remain in it; but now that all
danger was past, she was able to sit for long hours by the window that
afforded the best view of the Tuckers' front gate.

Ordinarily it was not much of a gate. So many little Tuckers had
climbed upon it and tumbled off that it had grown shaky as to hinges
and bald as to paint; though, if one used rope enough, it was still
useful as a barrier between the world and the adventuresome Tucker
babies.

But now this gate--or rather this gateway--had become a most
interesting spot. Through it, at delightfully frequent intervals, came
baskets, boxes, and bundles. Most of them contained offerings, more or
less enjoyable, for convalescent Bettie; for all the members of Doctor
Tucker's church loved the gentle, kindly, absent-minded clergyman. Now
that a member of his household was recovering from a serious illness,
it seemed, as Doctor Bennett, the family physician said, as if the
parish were bent on making her ill again by sending her more things to
eat than any one small Bettie-girl could possibly hold. Everything from
soup to dessert flowed in at that gate, for Lakeville was a kindly town
and everybody knew that overworked Mrs. Tucker had quite enough to do
without the extra work of preparing dainty food.

Moreover, to add very seriously to Bettie's danger from promiscuous
donations, Doctor Bennett's own warm-hearted but decidedly
inexperienced young daughter Mabel was laboriously cooking things out
of a large number of cook-books to carry triumphantly or despondently,
according to her degree of success, to her very dearest friend Bettie.

"This," explained Mabel, one morning, displaying a dull purple, most
uninviting object that quivered uncannily when one shook the bowl, "is
'Ambrosial Delight.'"

"Where--where did you get it?" asked Bettie, eying the strange mixture
distrustfully.

"Out of an advertising cook-book that somebody left on our doorstep.
It said 'Ambrosial Delight' under the picture, but someway the pudding
looks--different."

"What makes it such a very queer color?" demanded interested Bettie.

"Grape juice and eggs," explained Mabel, tenderly clasping her
handiwork to her breast. "You see, according to the picture, it ought
to be in even purple and yellow stripes and standing up in a stiff
para--parachute--those things in Egypt----"

"Pyramid. Go on," assisted Bettie, accustomed to Mabel's difficulties
of speech.

"Pyramid, but someway the custard part and the jelly part all ran
together and sat down. But it tastes a lot better than it looks."

"Bettie mustn't eat anything more for two hours," interposed Mrs.
Tucker. "She's just had a big piece of strawberry shortcake. I'll set
this pudding in the ice-box--that'll harden the jelly."

"I'm ever so much obliged," beamed Bettie, suspecting that Mabel would
have enjoyed seeing her eat the "Ambrosial Delight." "It's nice of you
to cook things for me."

"Even if they do turn out wrong most every time," supplemented Mabel.
"Yes, I think it is nice, because I sort of hate to cook anyway, and
everybody in our house just hates to have me. I'm so untidy, they say.
I always have to do it when Bridget isn't looking and it makes me
nervous to have to hurry. Can you think of anything else you'd like me
to make?" continued this martyr. "Because I'd _do_ it, if I had to get
up before daylight."

"I don't know of anything unless somebody invents a dish that will go
right straight to my knees. They wabble. I feel as if I'd like to run a
mile, but by the time I've tottered to the gate I'm glad it isn't more
than a dozen steps. There's your father coming--I'm going to ask him
why my knees wabble so awfully."

Impulsive Mabel, at this news, instinctively scrambled under the bed.
Then, remembering that she had really been pretty good all day, she
sheepishly crawled out, to Bettie's amusement, to greet her surprised
father.

"I'm on my way home," said she.

"So I notice," returned Doctor Bennett, his mouth stern, his eyes
twinkling. "Don't let me detain you."

"I want to know," demanded Bettie, "why I haven't any knees?"

"I think," replied Doctor Bennett, "that we ought to get you outdoors
a great deal more than we do. You're not getting air enough. Where's
your jacket? I'll take you for a drive this minute--I'm going to South
Lakeville by the shore road to see a patient. Think you're good for a
buggy ride?"

"I'm sure of it," laughed Bettie, "but I'm afraid my bones will scratch
all the varnish off your nice bright buggy. I've twice as many ribs as
I used to have--perhaps my knees have turned into ribs!"

Bettie returned an hour later; none the worse for her drive and hungry
enough to eat even Mabel's unsightly pudding, after finishing a large
bowl of broth.

"It tastes fine," she confided to Doctor Bennett, who had insisted on
carrying the slender invalid upstairs, "if you eat it with your eyes
shut. My! I'm hungry as a bear--wasn't it lucky that mother had my
lunch ready?"

"I guess you'll have to have another ride to-morrow," laughed the
pleased doctor. "Fresh air is all the medicine you need--you ought to
_live_ outdoors."

There was danger, however, of Bettie's getting more fresh air than any
one little maid could ever hope to breathe, for, the next morning,
there was an item in Lakeville's daily paper that brought curious and
almost instantaneous results. The paragraph read:

    "Miss Bettie Tucker, who has been seriously ill for several
    weeks, enjoyed her first outing yesterday."

It wasn't a very big item, Bettie thought, for so momentous an event,
but it was quite large enough for kind-hearted Lakeville. Immediately,
everybody with anything one _could_ ride in wanted to take Bettie
driving. Mr. Black placed his automobile at her disposal. Henrietta
Bedford's grandmother, Mrs. Slater, laid her horses, the grandest of
her carriages, and her only coachman at Bettie's bedroom-slippered
feet; Jean and Marjory laboriously collected sufficient money to hire
a sad old horse, more or less attached to a dilapidated cab, from
the very cheapest livery stable for a whole expensive hour. Nearly
all the members of Doctor Tucker's congregation took turns inviting
Bettie to ride in anything from a buckboard to an omnibus. Even Julius
Muhlhauser, the milkman, insisted on carrying her, in his flaming
scarlet cart, over three-fourths of his milk-route, one morning.

"That," laughed Bettie, after the milkman had delivered her safely at
her own door, "was something different. It isn't everybody who has a
chance to drive down the milky way."

"Are you hungry?" asked her mother, meeting her at the door, with a
bowl of broth.

"Not so very," returned Bettie, nevertheless accepting the broth and
eating it eagerly. "I drank a whole pint of the milk-wagon milk."

Next, all Bettie's friends began to invite the little girl to visit
them. She had to spend whole days or pieces of days with Jean, with
Marjory, with Henrietta, with Mabel (who nursed her so devotedly that
she almost suffered a relapse), and with Mrs. Crane and Mr. Black. But,
as yet, she had not returned to her old footing with her comrades; she
was not yet sufficiently strong for the old rough-and-tumble play, the
happy-go-lucky hours in Dandelion Cottage. She was a new variety of
Bettie, a fragile Bettie, to be handled with the utmost tenderness.

Mr. Black and his stout sister, Mrs. Crane, than whom Bettie had no
stauncher friends, had swung the largest and most gorgeous hammock that
Lakeville could furnish, under their trees for her--they were only
sorry that she couldn't use _two_ hammocks.

"Peter," said Mrs. Crane (they were sitting on the porch to keep an eye
on Bettie, who, in spite of the gorgeousness of her swaying couch, had
fallen asleep), "that child ought to stay outdoors all the time. That
rectory is a stuffy place, crowded up against the church and right in
the smoke of two factories. As soon as she's strong enough to stand it,
she ought to go camping--some place on the lake shore where the air is
pure."

"Of course she ought," agreed Mr. Black, heartily. "It's the best tonic
in the world for growing children--there's nothing like it in bottles."

"Isn't there any way we could manage it? If we only had a camp----"

"We'll have one," promised Mr. Black, promptly.

"But we haven't any land----"

"Yes, we have; a lot of it. About four years ago I bought forty acres
from an Indian, forty more from his brother, and then, just to be
obliging, forty more from his friend, all for a few dollars an acre.
Afterwards somebody suggested that it was all the same forty, but it
wasn't; I looked it up to see. It's seventeen miles from here on the
shore of the biggest and wettest lake there is, with the cleanest,
sweetest air that ever was made. Just the finest spot in the world for
a camp--I saw it once.

"When? Oh, six or seven years ago. I tell you what, Sarah! Suppose we
take a run up there in the automobile and have a look at it. There used
to be a road--it's probably there yet."

"Why couldn't we make a picnic of it and take Bettie and the girls?"
asked good Mrs. Crane, instantly falling in with her brother's plan.
"Seventeen miles is no distance at all for the car--I'm sure Bettie
could stand it because she could get a nap there as well as at home."

"We could," agreed Mr. Black, "and I guess there'd be room for
Henrietta, too--she'll want to go."

"I always did enjoy a picnic," confessed Mrs. Crane, a little
sheepishly. "I guess I haven't quite grown up, in some ways."

"I like 'em myself," owned Mr. Black. "Besides, I've been thinking for
some time that I'd like a look at that land--haven't seen it since I
bought it. This is Monday, isn't it? Suppose we go there day after
to-morrow if the weather stays right--that'll give us a day to cook in.
We'll ask the girls to-night."

So, in this commonplace fashion, was planned the picnic that proved
utterly unlike any picnic that this good, elderly couple had ever
attended; for this particular outing behaved in a most extraordinary
way. Mr. Black supposed that this innocent excursion was his, that
it belonged to him, that it was subservient to his will; instead of
which--but you shall hear what happened.



CHAPTER II

The Troubled Whale


MR. BLACK, his fine dark eyes sparkling with pleasure; his crisp hair,
plentifully sprinkled with white, standing upright from his broad,
benevolent brow, looked with approval at his party as he packed his
merry guests very carefully into his big touring car.

Jean, who was tall and not particularly wide for her fourteen and a
half years, was attractive because of the serene loveliness of her
expression; one knew at a glance that she was a _good_ child. One
guessed, just as quickly, that Henrietta was sometimes naughty, for
an impish light danced in her long-lashed black eyes and there was a
mischievous dimple in the dusky crimson of her cheek. Next to Jean in
height and age, she seemed older and yet less responsible--one couldn't
be quite sure of spirited Henrietta Bedford.

Marjory, two years younger, was both short and narrow for her age; and
so very fair that one had to guess at her eyebrows. But she, too,
was a pretty child, for her small features were pleasing and her pale
golden hair was quite wonderful. Like Henrietta, she was quick and
graceful in all her movements.

Bettie, also between twelve and thirteen, was now mostly eyes; big,
velvety brown ones that played pranks with one's heart-strings;
particularly with those of Mr. Black and Mrs. Crane. She had lost all
her short, curly brown hair during her illness; it was now coming in,
shorter and curlier than ever.

Mabel, the youngest of the group, was also the broadest. But her
undeniable plumpness did not detract from her looks. One couldn't
help liking her honest brown eyes, the wholesome red and white of her
rounded countenance, her sturdy, childlike figure, and the rich bronze
of her abundant--and frequently untidy--hair.

Mrs. Crane, brown as to skin, black as to eyes, stout, elderly, and
warm-hearted, was very like her brother, except that she sometimes
worried. Mr. Black never did.

Finally all these good people, with a coat or sweater for each girl,
with two big hampers of food from Mr. Black's home, with several
baskets of picnic lunch from the other houses, were stowed away in the
capacious car. Mr. Black called his automobile the "Whale," because
once, for a few weeks, it had been driven by Jonah Higginsworth, who,
however, was so frequently cast forth by this modern whale, owing
to dangerously reckless driving, that Mr. Black had been obliged to
discharge him.

"We are seven," said Mr. Black, taking the chauffeur's seat. "I'm going
to drive this car myself; they say the road's a bit rough--isn't used
much. Seven's a good number."

"Eight's better," retorted Henrietta, diving into a silk bag and
dragging forth a queer bundle of mottled fur.

"What's that?" demanded Mr. Black. "I didn't invite anybody like that
to _my_ picnic."

"Just a kitten," explained Henrietta, waving him for all to see. "I
adopted him yesterday, but nobody in our house likes him, so I have to
_wear_ him--he's very tame."

"He looks," laughed Bettie, "just like the pudding Mabel made for me
two weeks ago; purple, yellow, and white, all jumbled together--let's
name him Ambrosial Delight."

"No," objected Henrietta, "he's already named Anthony Fitz-Hubert."

"Because he has fits?" asked Marjory.

"He _doesn't_. Just see how calm he is."

Doctor Bennett, Doctor Tucker, Marjory's Aunty Jane, and all the
mothers stood on the sidewalk to see the merry party started on its
way. Henrietta's dignified little grandmother sat in her carriage.

"Don't worry if we're late," said Mr. Black, turning to this trusting
assemblage and not guessing how very late he was going to be. "The
other end of our road may prove a trifle heavy; the day's so fine that
we're not going to hurry, anyhow. Good-by till you see us again--we'll
take the very best care of all your precious girls. Good-by,
good-by----"

"Just where are you going?" shrieked Aunty Jane, a moment too late.

For the picnic, kitten and all, was already spinning joyously away;
and never was there a happier party. At first the inviting road was all
that road should be, for constant use kept it in excellent condition.
After the first two miles, however, the going was only fair, as it
was necessary to proceed rather slowly because spring rains had
uncovered big boulders that it seemed best to avoid. Also there were
chickens--never had the Whale's way been so beset by loitering hens.
When these had finally been left behind, the Whale came to a pleasant
stretch of country road partly overgrown with short, fragrant grass.

"If it's all like this," said Mrs. Crane, sniffing contentedly, "it
won't take long to travel seventeen miles."

Unfortunately, it wasn't like that for any great distance. Soon the
Whale was panting laboriously up a long, stony hill; down which
a foolish little creek that had strayed from its proper bed was
meandering aimlessly but with most disastrous results. It had made
deep, jagged, treacherous furrows that had to be skilfully avoided; so
it took considerable time to climb the damaged hill. After that, the
road was sandy.

The sand in northern Michigan seems sandier than any other sand. Mr.
Black was certain that it was at least a mile deep along that dreadful
road, skirted by a dreary stretch of small poplars. But far ahead, this
dauntless man could see the beckoning green of lofty trees--he fixed
hopeful eyes on that and coaxed the groaning Whale to nobler efforts.
Where the sand was deepest, everybody but Bettie and Mr. Black got
out and walked--or waded along the dusty roadside; and sometimes they
pushed the Whale when that weary leviathan threatened to stick. At
length, however, the dusty car lurched heavily into the grateful shade
of a fine forest road, carpeted smoothly with pine needles and the
decaying leaves of oak, maple, and elm trees, whose branches, green and
lovely with spring foliage, met overhead.

"Oh," breathed Bettie, lying back luxuriously among her cushions,
"isn't this just beautiful!"

"Let's go slowly," pleaded Mrs. Crane. "It's years since I've seen such
woods. I declare! I'd like to stay right here."

"I guess the mosquitoes 'd be glad to have you," said Mr. Black. "Are
all those girls aboard? They won't need to do any walking as long as
this lasts--it was _made_ for the Whale!"

Unfortunately, the beautifully smooth ground stretched before them for
only a few precious moments, though the forest itself grew wilder and
more interesting at every turn of the wheels. After a time, the road
began to dip steadily downward. Presently the Whale was sliding over
clay, pushing through deep, clinging mire, splashing through puddles of
stagnant water, or bumping over stretches of half-submerged corduroy.

"Peter," said Mrs. Crane, rather nervously, when her patient, elderly
brother had climbed out for the fourth time to pull long ropes of
tangled weeds out of the wheels, "don't you think we'd better give up
and turn back? It's getting worse and worse."

"No," returned Mr. Black, "I don't. I started out to look at that land
and I'm going to find it. Besides, Timothy Burbank drove over this road
this spring and he says it's open all the way to Barclay's Point--my
place is a mile this side of Barclay's."

"But Timothy rode in a buckboard."

"He said he guessed the Whale could make it and I've no reason to doubt
his word. Anyhow, we're going on--we're so muddy now that a little more
won't hurt us; and there's one comfort; there are no steep precipices
on this road for us to tumble from."

It was fortunate, too, that Mr. Black carried a hatchet, because
several times it became necessary to chop fallen trees--luckily they
were small ones--out of the road; and once it was necessary to repair a
broken bridge; but the girls, who helped with that, thoroughly enjoyed
the task. Occasionally, the Whale was obliged to ford a certain small
river that crossed the road an astonishing number of times. Also, with
increasing frequency, Mr. Black was obliged to crawl under the car to
see what was the matter with the machinery; but, on the whole, the
Whale behaved surprisingly well.

Presently the road which, up to that moment, had stretched mainly
toward the north, turned sharply toward the east.

"Ah!" breathed Mr. Black, with a deep sigh of satisfaction. "Timothy
says our place is just three miles from this turn. Does anybody want to
go back _now_?"

Nobody did, so the Whale pushed on; and, wonder of wonders! For a whole
delightful mile the road was good, alluringly good. The big car fairly
pranced with pleasure, and all the passengers settled back comfortably
against the cushions. But after that one deceiving mile! Never was
there a more discouraging stretch of road--if it _were_ road. Sunken
boulders, slime-covered water, deep black mud, rotting corduroy,
jutting logs, weed-grown swamp. The Whale's passengers were jounced and
jolted, spattered and scratched. Low-growing branches slapped their
faces and reached maliciously for unguarded tresses. Altogether, this
final two miles of wilderness surpassed all the rest--suppose there
were no bottom to that mud! Even Henrietta was too frightened for
speech.

Finally the Whale, with a last despairing gasp that died away to an
alarming silence, refused to go a single inch farther.

"It's all out for everybody," said Mr. Black, who now looked as
concerned as the others. "Something's given out--it's not surprising."

"But," objected Mrs. Crane, "how are we to get home?"

"Hush, woman," returned Mr. Black, whimsically, "folks on their way
_to_ a picnic don't talk about going home. Let's get there first."

"Why!" cried light-footed Marjory, who had darted ahead and back again
with her news, "we're out of that swamp, anyway. This road goes right
uphill and it's sandy."

"Good!" exclaimed Mr. Black. "That means that we're almost there. Come
back, Marjory, and get your share of the load; everybody must carry
something. Bettie, can you walk half a mile if you're helped over the
rough places?"

"A whole mile if I have to--I'm not tired."

"The air," remarked Jean, sniffing curiously, when the party had
reached the top of the brief ascent, "smells different. My! Isn't it
good! I feel it way down inside of me."

"It's the lake," explained Mr. Black. "In less than ten minutes you're
going to see something."

The prediction proved true. In a very few moments the road branched,
the right fork led them north, then swerved again toward the east, the
forest stopped with a suddenness that was startling, and the picnic
found itself in a wide, grassy clearing at the very edge of the big,
blue lake. The bigness and the blueness were dazzling. The curved beach
stretched like a broad golden ribbon in either direction.

"This," said Mr. Black, "is the place."

"Oh, Peter!" cried Mrs. Crane, dropping her end of the heaviest hamper.
"How much of it is ours?"

"Every scrap. All that you can see."

"What! Down to that rocky point?"

"Yes, and up the other way to that other rocky point--a whole mile of
shore line."

"And the island off that little projection--is _that_ ours?"

"Every inch of it."

"Why, Peter!"

"Fine, isn't it? We own a river, too--there's the mouth of it down the
shore. What do you think of it all, Sarah?"

"Peter, it's--it's heaven!"

"And uninhabited," declared Mr. Black, supposing that he was speaking
the exact truth, "except for our seven selves."

There was, however, an eighth inhabitant; and a human one at that. But
for the time being no one suspected it.



CHAPTER III

A Predicament


"PETER," queried Mrs. Crane, "what time is it? I'm starved."

Mr. Black looked at his watch, at first expectantly, then ruefully.

"The thing's stopped," said he, shaking it. "I dropped it out a couple
of times when I was under the Whale, and once it struck a boulder. It
stopped at half-past twelve."

"An hour ago?"

"It _might_ be two hours--or even three! Girls, did you bring a
watch--any of you?"

"I did," said Henrietta, "but I wound it to practise by without setting
it, so it's probably wrong--it usually is. It says quarter to nine!"

"It certainly _is_ wrong. I _know_ it's dinner time--or worse.
Sarah----"

"Build a fire, Peter--there's plenty of wood on the beach. I brought
a coffee pot and you'll find a box of matches in it. Jean, spread the
cloth that's in one of those hampers--the ground's nice and smooth
right there at your feet. You'll find wooden plates and tin cups under
the cloth. Marjory, you can fish for the sugar and cream and the salad.
Mabel, you--no, I'll cut the bread myself; you can pick up bits of wood
for the fire."

"There are two big apple pies and some cheese in my basket," said Jean,
"and--yes, a bag of cookies!"

"Here are my sandwiches," said Henrietta. "Just loads of them; and a
big veal loaf---- Oh! It smells so good!"

"Aunty Jane sent a huge crock of beans and some cold ham," said
Marjory, "and here's a jar of something--pickles, I guess."

"There's a box of things," said Mr. Black, "fruit, cookies, crackers,
sardines, peanut butter, and a thing or two in cans still aboard the
Whale, but I guess, with all this good home cooking, we won't need it
just yet--anyway, I'd rather look at the lake than go after it."

"Can't I take off my shoes and wade out for the coffee water?" pleaded
Mabel. "I love to wade."

"Of course you can," replied Mrs. Crane. "Here's the pail--I'll take
the doughnuts out of it."

"What's this?" asked Mr. Black, holding up a flat, heavy parcel.

"A piece of bacon--I thought we might need bacon and eggs in addition
to our salad--I brought a flat pan to fry them in. And here are salt
and pepper."

"Well!" laughed Mr. Black, as parcel after parcel came out of the
tightly packed hampers, "I guess we'll have to set up a grocery store
and sell stuff to the squirrels--we can't possibly eat all this at
_one_ meal."

"Don't be too sure," warned Bettie. "I'm pretty hungry. Mother put in a
can of cocoa and a little saucepan to cook it in--and here's a pint of
milk."

"We'll make the cocoa and coffee," decided Mrs. Crane, "and eat the
sandwiches and other ready-made things. We won't bother to do any other
cooking; and, I must say, I'm glad we don't need to. I _never_ was so
hungry."

Everybody it seemed was on the verge of starvation. The Whale's
passengers ate and ate and ate. Even Ambrosial Delight, the
three-colored cat, drank milk as if he had always lived on the lake
shore and dined from wooden plates. After dinner, every one, except
Bettie, who was compelled by solicitous Mrs. Crane to curl up with the
kitten under a tree for a nap, went exploring.

That was great fun, for exploring is interesting, anyway, even if you
haven't anything bigger to explore than your own back yard. But when
you have a whole wilderness, with a little of every kind of landscape
there is dotted about, here and there; and always so unexpectedly that
you don't know what you're coming to next, exploring becomes just the
very jolliest pursuit there is.

In the first place, there was the large, grassy clearing where they
had eaten dinner. This place was almost circular in shape and as big,
Bettie said, as a whole city block. In it were a few scattered trees;
but, for the greater part, it was open and almost perfectly level. On
one side was the lake; the other three sides were walled in by most
attractive forest.

A number of little trails led from the clearing into the woods.
Each one, they found, pointed toward some definite object. One, for
instance, carried them to a tiny spring of clear, gurgling water.
Another led them to what was evidently a good fishing spot on the
river. A third brought them to a tiny unsuspected lake, dotted with
lily pads.

"This," said quick-eyed Marjory, pointing northwestward, when the
explorers had returned for the third time to the sunny clearing, "is
the widest trail of all."

"For my part," said Mr. Black, "I don't know why there should be any
trails here at all. No one has lived here for four years. Sometimes
fishermen come here in gasoline launches for a few days in the spring,
or hunters for a week or two in the fall, but never in sufficient
numbers to make as marked a trail as this--we must certainly
investigate _this_ one."

This wider trail led them for perhaps a hundred feet through a dense
thicket of shrubbery; then, with a suddenness that was startling, the
explorers found themselves in another clearing, about half the size
of the first. In it stood a curious structure with a rounded top. It
was built of bent strips of wood, covered with large sheets of rough
birch bark, bound in place with willow withes, and sewed in spots with
buckskin thongs. It was blackened with age and smoke.

"It looks," said Henrietta, "like the top half of a big balloon. And
mercy! How horrible it smells."

"What _is_ it?" asked Mabel. "Is it a bear's den? Ugh! I hope Mr. Bear
isn't home."

"It's a birch-bark wigwam," replied Mr. Black, "and somebody has
occupied it recently. See the bed in the corner?"

Sure enough, there _was_ a bed--some balsam boughs covered with a
dingy blanket and some rags that had once been a quilt. On an upturned
box was a burlap bag containing potatoes and a few perfectly sound
onions. A deer-skin was stretched to dry against one rounded side
of the wigwam and just opposite the doorway of the queer hut were a
number of blackened stones, evidently a rude fireplace. Hanging against
a convenient tree-trunk were some sooty and most uninviting cooking
utensils; a camp kettle, a frying-pan, a lard pail or two, a big iron
pot, a long-handled spoon.

"It isn't a great while," said Mr. Black, frowning perplexedly, "since
these things were used. But who, I'd like to know, used them?"

"Wild Indians," offered Marjory, glancing fearfully over her shoulder.

"Pirates," shuddered Mabel.

"A wild man of the jungle," suggested imaginative Henrietta.

"Perhaps you're all partly right," admitted Mr. Black. "I believe these
things belong to a filthy half-breed, trapping game out of season. If
_I_ catch him at it, it will be some time before he has a chance to try
it again. Perhaps he'll come back this afternoon. Now, girls, let's go
back to the lake--this place certainly does smell 'injun-y'--there's no
other smell quite like it."

"Can't we all go in wading?" demanded Mabel. "The water's pretty cold,
but it's nice--makes your toes all pink."

"Of course you can. There isn't any danger, because the water is
shallow for a long, long distance; and the sand is as hard and clean as
the very cleanest thing you can think of."

"Marble!" cried Mabel.

"Aunty Jane's house!" shouted Marjory.

"Yes," laughed Mr. Black, "even as clean as that. Now, away with you
all. But keep within hearing distance. I'm going to rest awhile under
this pleasant tree."

"And I," murmured Mrs. Crane, drowsily, "am going to take a nap under
_this_ tree--I can't stay awake a moment longer."

Presently Bettie, the kitten, and Mrs. Crane were all sound asleep;
and, from Mr. Black's leafy shelter, a sound closely resembling gentle
snores proved most interesting to a puzzled chipmunk, who had a pantry
in that tree. The chipmunk even perched on Mr. Black's toe to listen;
but the good, weary gentleman slumbered unheedingly.

Jean, Marjory, Mabel, and Henrietta were having a glorious time in
the rippling blue lake. When they were tired of splashing about to
scare the abundant minnows, they built wonderful castles in the sand.
Mabel's were square and solid, like Mabel herself; Jean's were lofty
with aspiring towers and turrets, and Henrietta's were honeycombed with
fearsome dungeons. Marjory built long streets of tiny, modern, and
excessively neat dwellings.

After that, they discovered that the beach near the river's mouth was
strewn with pebbles of every hue known to pebbles. There were agates,
bits of glittering quartz and granite, and many brown, green, or yellow
stones threaded prettily with a network of white. They wanted to gather
them all to carry back to Bettie, but contented themselves with about a
bushel--all that their four skirts would hold. But they found to their
surprise that they were anchored to the ground; that it wasn't possible
to rise with the heavy burden. As for carrying the glittering hoard,
that was clearly impossible, too; so they heaped their treasure on the
sand and ran to look at the river where it joined the lake.

Never was there a more companionable river. At the mouth it was only a
yard wide and just deep enough to cover one's ankles. A little way up,
it spread out as wide as a street, but there it barely covered one's
toes. Farther up, there were big, moss-covered stones and the water
grew perceptibly deeper--up to one's knees. Still further, and the
river grew wide and deep and darkly mysterious, where great trees cast
brown and green shadows over the russet surface.

"Ugh!" shuddered Henrietta, at this point, "let's go back--I like it
better where it's narrow."

"So do I," agreed Jean. "If there _were_ crocodiles in this part of the
country, that's where they'd live."

"Let's build a bridge across the narrowest place," proposed Marjory.

All about were stones and driftwood. The girls built a beautiful
bridge and sat afterwards on the beach to admire their handiwork; but
very soon the quiet water stealthily washed the sand away from the
foundation stones and in a little while the river's mouth was twice as
wide as it had been before the bridge, now floating lakeward, was built.

"I could stay here forever," said Henrietta, "there are so many things
to do--nice, foolish things, like sand-castles, bridges that float
away, and stones that look like diamonds when they're wet and like just
stones when they're dry. I'd like to _live_ here."

"So would I," agreed Jean.

"Wouldn't it be nice," asked Marjory, "if we _could_ come here to camp?"

"We're here now," returned matter-of-fact Mabel. "Let's pretend we
really _are_ camping."

"Look at the lake!" exclaimed Jean, suddenly. "It isn't blue any
more--it's all gray and silver."

"And all the ripples are gone," observed Henrietta. "See how flat and
smooth it is and how _lazy_ it is along the edges. And the sand is
turning pink!"

"Hush!" warned quick-eared Marjory. "I think Mr. Black's calling
us--yes, he's waving the tablecloth!"

After they had picked their way rather painfully over the bed of
sharp pebbles, the barefooted girls ran gaily along the hard, smooth
beach--they were surprised to find themselves so far from their
foot-gear.

"Mr. Black seems excited," remarked Jean. "I wonder if anything has
happened."

"Perhaps," said Henrietta, soberly, "it's time to go home."

"It _can't_ be," protested Mabel. "We've only just come--anyway, it
seems so."

"That," explained Jean, sagely, "is because this is the very nicest
spot that ever grew."

"Hurry!" shouted Mr. Black; "don't wait to put on your shoes--just
bring them along."



CHAPTER IV

A Night Out


"JEAN," queried Mr. Black, when the four rather disheveled youngsters
had scrambled up the bank, "have you girls seen anything of a boat?"

"No," replied Jean.

"Have you been on the shore all the time?"

"Every minute."

"I didn't _see_ a boat," offered Henrietta, "but about half an hour
ago--or perhaps an hour--I heard something that made a noise like this:
'chug-chug, chuggity-chug, chug-chug-chuggity-chug'"--Henrietta gave a
very fair imitation of a naptha launch.

"I heard it, too," admitted Margery.

"That was the boat," said Mr. Blank, scanning the forsaken lake
anxiously. "It's Hillitt's fish-tug and it goes down to Lakeville at
sundown every day when the weather's fair. The tug runs to Bear Bay. I
expected to go home on that boat; but, unfortunately, I went to sleep
and didn't wake up in time to signal her."

"She was very far out," volunteered Jean. "You couldn't have seen her
from here--I looked in every direction when I heard that noise, but I
couldn't see what was making it."

"_I_ thought," confessed Marjory, "that it was some sort of an animal
breathing queerly--I didn't exactly like it."

"Evidently," said Mr. Black, "that boat stayed a long way from
shore--sound carries a great distance over water. Anyway, that eases my
conscience a little. I ought not to have fallen asleep, but I didn't
suspect that it was so late. You see, girls, our time is all off.
Goodness only knows how long it took us to get here; and I'm sure I
don't know whether it was one, two, or three when we ate our dinner.
Now, what do you think that big, golden sun's doing--over there behind
those trees?"

"I think," said Henrietta, eying it, sagely, "that it's either going
down or coming up. And I _know_ it can't be time for it to come up."

"And it can't possibly be time," protested Mabel, "for it to go down."

"I fear it is," said Mr. Black. "I ought never to have taken that nap."

"Peter," demanded Mrs. Crane, suddenly joining the group, "how are we
ever going to get home?"

"Sarah," replied Mr. Black, with one of his sweet, whimsical smiles,
"I'm blest if I know."

"But, Peter, it's too far to walk; and the Whale----"

"But, Sarah, I fully intended to go home by boat. I was told that that
boat passed here every day. Well, it has passed, hasn't it?"

"Yes," admitted Mrs. Crane, dryly, "it _passed_ all right."

"When the Whale broke down," continued Mr. Black, soothingly, "I said
to myself, 'Never mind, old chap, there's Hillitt's launch--we'll hail
that and ride home.'"

"And when you assured us that you knew of a safe and easy way to get
home, you were depending on that boat!"

"Sarah, don't rebuke me. I was. But, having committed that fatal error,
I'm willing to atone for it. Hi there, girls! We'll all have to work
for our living for the next hour or so. You see, good people, we'll
probably have to stay here all night unless somebody sees our fire on
the shore. Jean, I'm going to take you and Henrietta to the Whale so
you can help me rob him of his lanterns and cushions. Sarah, I want
you and the girls to take this hatchet, my knife, the bread-knife, and
anything else that is sharp, and cut as many balsam boughs as you can
from that grove of evergreens over there--I want a whole wagon load.
Bettie, you can sit here on this log and fill these two hamper-covers
with chips--we'll need a lot of firewood."

Presently Mr. Black and his two companions were back with all the
comforts that could be stripped from the Whale. Dropping them near
the baskets of wood and the growing pile of evergreen boughs, he went
down to the beach, to select several tall poles from the half-buried
driftwood that past storms had heaped behind the numerous big logs
framing the upper edge of the beach.

Having dug holes with a sharp stick, Mr. Black planted the poles in an
upright position; and the sand, fortunately, held them firmly. More
poles were fastened securely across the top; luckily Jean remembered
seeing a tangle of buckskin thongs hanging in the birch-bark wigwam;
Mr. Black appropriated those. Along the beach were many odd lengths of
lumber cast up by a long series of storms; these, too, were tied to the
poles or securely braced against them; for the castaways had no nails.

The tablecloth--fortunately a generous one as to size--was fastened
on top for a roof. This curious shack, when completed, was six feet
wide by about seventeen feet long. Three sides were inclosed, but the
fourth, the long side facing the south, was left open.

"We'll build a fire outside," said Mr. Black, "to keep our toes warm."

The entire floor space inside the shack was covered with balsam boughs.
Mr. Black showed the girls how to make them stand upright like a forest
of tiny trees--the twigs were about fourteen inches long.

"It'll be almost like a mattress and springs," assured he, "when you
have it finished. The Whale has provided three light dust-covers and
three fairly heavy robes--we'll use those for bedding."

"But," objected Marjory, who was not at all sure that she was going to
like the queer bed that Mr. Black was making, "we haven't any pillows."

"I guess," teased Mr. Black, "you'll have to use your shoes--campers
always do."

"The woods are full of pillows," assured Bettie, who was helping with
the balsam twigs. "There's running pine on the ground under the trees,
a lot of nice green moss on the logs, all sorts of big, soft ferns; and
whole bushels of leaves on the trees."

"That's right," commented Mr. Black. "Suppose you girls gather about
seven pillows--good big ones because the stuff will pack down--off the
nearest pillow-tree; and I'll see if I can't find another wide board or
two."

"Where," asked thoughtful Jean, "do all the pieces of lumber come from?"

"There's a sawmill at Big Bear Harbor, some fifteen miles north of
here. I suppose a good many boards get lost through careless handling.
None of this is first-class lumber, however. This plank, you see, is
full of knot-holes. This one is hemlock and has two long splits in it."

"I guess there's a shingle-mill somewhere, too," said Bettie. "Mabel
picked up a whole basketful of pieces of brand-new shingles."

"Sarah," said Mr. Black, turning to his sister, who still seemed rather
stunned at the idea of spending a night in the woods, "you'd better fix
some supper for us before it gets too dark. Now that we have a house to
live in, we must have regular meals."

"What's that lean-to at the side for?" asked Mrs. Crane, pointing to
the row of boards that rested against one end of the shack, forming a
triangular space about four feet wide by six feet long.

"For me and the provisions," explained Mr. Black. "I never _did_ like
sleeping seven in a bed. And, in case it should rain, we must keep our
food dry."

"It's lucky," said Mrs. Crane, touching a match to the neat fire that
she had laid, "that we all brought more of everything to eat than we
needed. And I'm glad I brought my old gray shawl; it's as warm as a
blanket."

"If it turns cold," said Mr. Black, "we'll build a big fire just
outside the open end of our house. But I think it's going to be a
comfortably warm night---- There, I've got that plank fastened at last
and our palatial home is finished. And bless me! Here comes the pillow
brigade with all its petticoats turned into pillow-cases; and the
brigade all giggling. They're certainly a happy lot, Sarah."

"Mine's for Mr. Black," shouted Mabel.

"Mine's for Mrs. Crane," shrieked Marjory.

"And mine," said extravagant Henrietta, dropping to her knees before
Bettie, and proffering her lace-trimmed burden, "is for the Lady
Bettina, with the devotion of her humblest slave."

"I guess," said Mr. Black, eying the roof of his house, ruefully, "that
we'll have to eat without a tablecloth. Sarah, how's that supper?"

"Just about ready," said Mrs. Crane, stirring the cocoa with a long,
clean stick. "The water will boil in a moment or two and Jean is
cutting the bread."

The sun, red and glorious at the last, had gone down; but, while the
campers, seated in a circle about the two dish-towels that Mrs. Crane
had spread for a cloth, were eating their ample and delicious meal, the
sky was so wonderful and the lake so marvelous with its calm surface
touched lightly to burnished copper, that the castaways all but forgot
that they were castaways, until Mr. Black brought them back to earth.

"There's only one thing that troubles me," said he, "and that's the
mothers and grandmothers and Aunty Janes that we left in Lakeville."

"Yes," agreed Mrs. Crane, pouring a second cup of cocoa for Bettie,
"they're sure to worry. No matter how far we've gone in the Whale,
we've always been home by bedtime."

"And I can't recall," said Mr. Black, running his fingers through his
thick, iron-gray hair, "that I told a single soul exactly where I was
going."

"And none of the rest of us _knew_," retorted his sister. "I've said,
a great many times, that your fondness for surprising us would get us
into trouble some day, and it _has_."

"But it's pretty _nice_ trouble," offered Bettie, the peacemaker. "Of
course all our grown-ups will worry, because grown-ups always do,
anyway. But I'm sure they'll remember that you've never lost any of us
yet, or starved us, or let us freeze."

"Granny will think," assured Henrietta, giggling at the thought,
"that we're staying at a hotel, waiting for repairs on the Whale.
She _always_ thinks of hotels as a safe refuge for the homeless--she
couldn't imagine a spot _without_ a convenient hotel."

"Well, if nothing rescues us to-night," promised Mr. Black, "I'll walk
to Barclay's Point at six to-morrow morning and hail that fish-boat. It
leaves Lakeville six times a week at daybreak."

Their meal ended, the castaways sat in a circle about the big driftwood
fire that Mr. Black built on the beach. Even Ambrosial Delight enjoyed
the unusual evening. He ran round and round the group, just at the
edge of the darkness, chasing nocturnal insects or the shadows cast by
the flickering firelight; and once, greatly to his own surprise and to
the campers' amusement, he leaped from a jutting log into the smooth,
glassy lake. After that surprising experience, he was willing to lie
cuddled in Henrietta's lap.

When it became evident that nobody could stay awake any longer, Mrs.
Crane tucked all her little charges--even to the kitten--away for the
night.

"I'm so sleepy," yawned Mabel, "that I could sleep on cobblestones."

"We'll leave a big place for you, Mrs. Crane," promised Jean,
thoughtfully, "and we'll remember not to lean too hard against the
walls."

"Ugh!" exclaimed Marjory, "isn't it queer without sheets!"

"This bed feels good to _me_," murmured Bettie, drowsily.

"Not a word more from anybody," said Mr. Black, who had donned his
fur automobile coat and was crawling like a big shaggy bear into his
triangular den. "It's time all honest people were asleep."

"I just wish," murmured Mrs. Crane, stretching herself luxuriously upon
her fragrant balsam bed, "that all those mothers could see how safe and
comfortable we are. They'll surely worry."

"They surely will," agreed Mr. Black, drowsily, "for it's an unheard-of
thing, in Lakeville, for a picnic to stay out all night. It's a
calamity, but it can't be helped."

And then, never guessing that to a certain about-to-be-shipwrecked boy
their going home at the proper time would have proved a far greater
calamity, the castaways closed their eyes.



CHAPTER V

The Missing Whale


UNFORTUNATELY, the three mothers, Henrietta's grandmother, and Aunty
Jane could not look into that queer chicken-coop of a house to see
their precious chickens sleeping the sound, sweet sleep that life in
the open induces.

Still, the evening was so very fine that no one was surprised because
of the prolonged outing--that is, at first. But when nine o'clock came
and the Whale failed to appear, Mrs. Slater, Henrietta's grandmother,
telephoned to Mr. Black's unresponsive house, and then to Jean's
mother, Mrs. Mapes. Mrs. Mapes obligingly ran in to ask Marjory's
Aunty Jane if anything had been seen of the delayed Whale; and then
both ladies scurried to the rectory to ask Doctor Tucker if _he_ knew
the whereabouts of the Whale--or the Whale's passengers. Of course he
didn't; so he and Mrs. Tucker went with the inquiring pair to Doctor
Bennett's to ask if Mabel had returned. Naturally, she hadn't, so,
joined by Mabel's now mildly anxious parents, they all went--just like
persons in a moving-picture show, Doctor Bennett said afterwards--to
Mrs. Slater's house to ask what _she_ thought about it. They found her
anxiously watching the clock.

Mrs. Slater promptly sent Simmons, the butler, to order her carriage,
in which the entire party, somewhat crowded it is true, was speedily
transported to Mr. Black's home, where they found Martin waiting in the
lighted garage.

"Where," asked Doctor Bennett, "is your master?"

"Sure," returned Martin, pulling politely at a long lock of sandy hair,
"that's what _I'd_ like to know. 'Tis a lonely evenin' I'm spendin'
without even a horse for company."

"Does his automobile ever break down?" queried Aunty Jane, a thin woman
with very sharp eyes and other features to match.

"It never has, mum; but most of 'em does, sooner or later. Still, Mr.
Black is always careful--he'd be likely to choose a safe spot to break
down in."

"He said," offered Doctor Tucker, "that he was going to look at some
land of his--where is his land?"

"Sure," returned Martin, with a gesture that included the entire
horizon, "he has land anywhere you'd want to look--he owns a pile of
rale estate, they say. When annybody wants a little money, he just
sells his land, back taxes and all, to that aisy-going man. _He_ don't
know where his land is; it's iv'rywhere. But wheriver he's gone he
can't starve, for Mrs. Crane and Bridget cooked all day yesterday; and
he can't freeze because there's three big robes and a fur coat."

"But what can be keeping him?" asked Mrs. Tucker. "He knows that Bettie
ought to be in bed by nine."

"Most like it's a busted tire--'tis time wan was givin' out. If he
wasn't smart enough to put the new one on--and belike he isn't, him not
bein' used to the job--why, there he is, laid out in the road."

"But all our girls are with him," protested Mrs. Bennett. "There's
seven in the party. Our five children----"

"The more the merrier," consoled Martin, comfortably. "Even if two or
three was spilled overboard, there'd be four left to spread the tale.
Depind on it, ladies--and your Riverince--they're safe somewhere, or
we'd hear the bad news. That's the kind that travels fastest."

"I think Martin is right," agreed Doctor Tucker, mildly. "I'm quite
sure that they're all safe, _somewhere_; at some farm, perhaps, where
there's no telephone. Even if those girls were alone they'd manage to
make themselves comfortable somehow--just remember what they did to
Dandelion Cottage."

"They're smart enough," agreed Mrs. Mapes, "and they are all
resourceful. And Mrs. Crane is with them. If they haven't all plunged
over some embankment----"

"Not Mr. Black, mum," assured Martin. "He's that careful and slow that
I'm ashamed to be seen ridin' with him. Why, mum, whin I'm in the
Whale I feel just like a baby in a go-cart."

Their fears somewhat allayed by optimistic Martin, the parents and
guardians of the castaways, after waiting hopefully until midnight,
finally dispersed and went to bed, for there was really nothing else
to do; but the passengers of the missing Whale spent a far happier
and more peaceful night than did their anxious relatives; for the
castaways, at least, knew that they were alive and unharmed.

The morning sun was shining brightly when Ambrosial Delight, who
had escaped at dawn, chased a frightened chipmunk into Mr. Black's
triangular den and roused that recumbent gentleman from the soundest
sleep he had had in years.

"Great Scott!" exclaimed the surprised man, sitting up under his bias
roof, "the stars were shining when I looked out last! It must be seven
or eight o'clock. Hi there, Sarah! Jean! Girls! Has that fish-boat gone
up the lake?"

"Yes, yes, Bridget," murmured Mrs. Crane, sleepily. "We'll have
creamed shrimps and----"

"Sarah!" shouted Mr. Black, "wake up! You've made me miss that boat
again."

So Mrs. Crane woke up, and presently the girls, with sleepy eyes and
tousled heads, crawled out, one by one, to blink in the dazzling
sunshine.

"Run down to the lake," advised Mr. Black, "and wash your
faces--that'll wake you up."

So the girls waded out and washed in the finest basin in the world,
made friends with a courageous squirrel who was also bathing his face,
and combed their tangled locks with Henrietta's side-combs.

"If you hadn't brought these," observed Jean, "we'd have been in a fine
fix."

"Anyhow," giggled Marjory, wiggling her pink toes, delightedly,
"there's water enough."

"Bettie," cried Mrs. Crane, from the bank, "come out of that lake!
You're a sick girl----"

"I'm not, either," contradicted Bettie, indignantly. "I feel just
fine."

"I'm glad to hear it," returned motherly Mrs. Crane, "but I don't want
you to take any risks. You've been in long enough."

"All right," agreed Bettie, regretfully. "I'll come out, just to be
good, but I don't want to one bit."

"Isn't this just heaven!" breathed Jean, ecstatically, extending her
arms as if she would embrace the whole beautiful universe. "Look at
that water--pearl-gray, with pink and gold sparkles all spangled over
the top! It's a different color every time you look at it. I love it."

"So do I," said Bettie, from the beach. "I wish I were a fish and could
_live_ in it."

"But then," objected Henrietta, "you couldn't _see_ it--I'd rather be a
sea-gull."

"She's making puns," groaned Marjory. "Hurry up with that comb, Mabel;
it's my turn next."

"Hi there!" called Mr. Black; "who's setting the table for breakfast?"

As the tablecloth was still serving as a roof, Mr. Black found a couple
of clean boards that served very nicely in its stead. This was not
difficult, since all the driftwood was most beautifully clean. So, too,
was the sand. Even the soil under the trees, being free from clay, was
clean, dry, and pleasant. One could sit on the ground without fear of
dampness, dirt, or snakes. It was _pleasant_ ground.

"This place," said Mrs. Crane, who was boiling the coffee water, "is
absolutely dust-proof, I believe. I'd like to live here all the time,
if only to breathe this air."

"Let's stay," pleaded Bettie. "_I_ don't want to go home."

"Neither do I," said Mabel.

"Nor I," said Henrietta.

"Nor I," echoed Marjory, who had finally succeeded in braiding her
long, fair hair.

"I guess," said Mr. Black, "we'll _have_ to stay for awhile, whether we
want to or not. But, if we don't turn up to-day, they'll begin to hunt
for us."

"Oh," groaned Henrietta, "I _hope_ not."

"Peter," said Mrs. Crane, "we didn't meet a single soul on that road
after we took the turn-off just out of Lakeville."

"I don't wonder," returned Mr. Black. "Nobody that could possibly
travel by any other road would ever think of taking that one. I suspect
that it hasn't been used very much since Randall stopped lumbering at
Barclay's Point, six years ago. But, never fear, they'll find us all
right--we're only seventeen miles from Lakeville."

"But _such_ miles," breathed Mrs. Crane. "Nobody 'd think of trying
that road--they'd think we had more sense."

"Perhaps we should have had--perhaps I ought to have doubted Timothy.
Anyway, we left tracks. If they look for us at all thoroughly, they'll
surely find those."

"That Timothy man," suggested Jean. "Wouldn't _he_ know?"

"Ye--es," admitted Mr. Black, "but when I asked him about that road he
was just boarding a train for Boston. But don't worry. We're not half
as lost as we might be. In fact, _we_ know exactly where we are."

The castaways had barely finished breakfast when sharp-eyed Marjory
spied a small, dark object on the water, not far from Barclay's Point.

"That wasn't there yesterday," said she, pointing it out to the others.

"It's moving!" cried Jean.

"Perhaps it's more driftwood for our house," suggested Bettie.

"Or a bear coming to eat us," offered Mabel.

"It's long and slim with a bump at one end," explained Marjory.
"Something like a dead tree with one branch sticking up. Just a log,
perhaps, but----"

"Anyway," interrupted Jean, "it's coming this way and coming _fast_."



CHAPTER VI

The Coming of Dave


THE castaways, forgetting that there were dishes to be washed, stood in
an eager row on the bank above the beach. The floating object continued
to approach. Soon they could see why it moved; the blade of a broad
paddle gleamed in the sunlight.

"It's a boat!" cried Marjory.

"A canoe," announced Mr. Black. "See, one end is low, the other fairly
out of the water. Let's stand behind these bushes, girls--the shack is
so far back that the man in the canoe won't notice it if he doesn't
see the tablecloth. I'll take it down, I guess. You see, there's just
a chance that that fellow might not land if he saw people here--and we
need him in our business. We'll be quiet, too. He seems to be making
for this little bay."

The boat and its occupant were an even shade of dark brown, but the
paddle gleamed golden in the sunshine. The canoe, skilfully propelled
by a practised hand, shot rapidly toward the strip of sand at the very
feet of the almost breathless watchers and, in a very few seconds more,
was safely beached. A snarling, stealthy dog leaped ashore and began
to sniff suspiciously at the sand; but his owner, fortunately, paid
no attention to him. The paddler proved to be an Indian half-breed,
bareheaded and clad only in shirt and trousers. His clothes were old
and greasy, his bare brown feet far from clean. He flung from the canoe
a fish-net, two dead muskrats, and, although it was out of season, a
small saddle of venison. He spread the net on the sand to dry, threw
the venison upon his shoulder, and climbed the bank.

Mr. Black, stepping from the sheltering bush, met him when he reached
the top.

"Good-morning," said he.

The startled Indian almost dropped his burden.

"Goo'-morn'," he grunted, surlily.

"Why!" exclaimed Mr. Black, closely scrutinizing the half-breed's not
very prepossessing countenance, "I think I've met you before. You're
Dave Gurneau, the man I bought this land from."

"Yass, I guess, mebbe-so," returned Dave. "You ol' Pete Black, I t'ank
so?"

"Yes," admitted the gentleman, "I'm old Pete Black. But what are _you_
doing here? I thought I bought this land with the understanding that
you were to vacate it--leave it--get off of it? How long have you lived
here?"

The culprit wriggled his toes in the sand.

"Ever since Ah'm sell heem," returned Dave, whose small black eyes were
shifty.

"Well!" gasped Mr. Black, "that's nerve for you--stayed right here, did
you?"

"Yass, Ah'm stay hon dose plass. Me, I must sell dese lan' to you so I
can buy proveesion enough for leeve hon heem--som' leetle onion, som'
potate, som' flour----"

"You--you sold me the land so you could live on it!"

"Yass--Ah'm got to buy proveesion sometam'. You good, easy man, Ah'm
tole."

"He means easy mark," breathed Mrs. Crane.

"Well, I'll be--switched," declared Mr. Black, endeavoring to frown at
guilty Dave; but, meeting Bettie's dancing eyes, he laughed instead.

"Dave," said he, "you're an unprecedented rascal. You've caught my
fish, picked my berries, killed my game; but I'll forgive you if you'll
do an errand for me. Do you think you could walk to Lakeville?"

"Sure t'ing," replied Dave, whose shifty eyes had traveled
speculatively from one to another of the group. "Ah'm walk dere plantee
tam'. Got to sleep two-t'ree hour, den go."

"Very well," returned Mr. Black; "I'd _rather_ you'd start at once, but
if you need sleep, you'd better get it now than on the way. I'll write
Saunders (Saunders was Mr. Black's trusted secretary) to send a launch
or a wagon for us and horses for the automobile."

"Peter," queried Mrs. Crane, wistfully, "do we _have_ to go home? You
know we talked of coming here to camp, anyway. Now that we're here,
why can't we stay? I suppose it's a crazy scheme; but that road is
too rough to travel over very often, and you know I never did like
the water--I'm always seasick. Saunders could send us all the things
we need--tents and everything else. And all the parents would be
willing--they were all in favor of a camping trip _sometime_. We'd
write and explain----"

"Oh, _do_ stay," cried Jean.

"Oh, _do_," implored Bettie, flinging her arms about Mr. Black's neck.

"_Please_ do," begged Henrietta, impulsively seizing a hand.

"Oh, do, do, _do_," shrieked Marjory, seizing the other hand.

"I'll wash all the dishes," promised Mabel, throwing her arms about Mr.
Black's stout waist, "and everybody knows that that's a job I hate."

"I'll get fat," promised Bettie.

Now, Mr. Black was ever a warm-hearted and obliging man, with a
wonderful love for children in general--his own little dark-eyed
daughter had died in infancy--and for Bettie in particular. Even if
the plan did seem a bit wild and venturesome (and Mr. Black himself
was something of an adventurer, in the best sense of that word), it
was not easy to say no with all those clinging arms about him, those
eager, pleading young faces upturned expectantly to his. Moreover, few
persons, Mr. Black least of all, were able to resist the appeal in
Bettie's big, black, always rather pathetic eyes. And already, best
argument of all, the slender little maid seemed to be improving under
these new conditions.

"Well," capitulated Mr. Black, "it will take Dave some hours to get
to Lakeville, and it may take considerable time for Saunders to find
a boat or horses to come up here--we'll have to leave all that part
of it to his discretion. It may be to-morrow morning before we are
rescued. Now, I'll agree to this. We'll send him a list of everything
we need. If we are still desirous of staying when the things come, and
if there's nothing in my mail to call me to town, we'll stay. If we're
tired of it, we'll just cart the stuff home again. We'll each make out
a list----"

"On what, I'd like to know?" interrupted Mrs. Crane. "I've used all the
wrapping paper to start fires."

Mr. Black, shaking off the clinging children, searched in the pockets
of his clothes.

"Nothing doing," said he. "The only scrap of paper I can spare is
already covered with memoranda."

Dave, who had been silently waiting, laughed appreciatively. It was an
unexpectedly pleasant sound, too; for the half-breed's voice was soft
and deep.

"Lots of paper on top of som' tree," he said. "Ah br-r-reeng som'."

"I can see leaves," laughed Henrietta, squinting upward, "but no pages."

"He means birch bark," explained quick-witted Marjory. "See, he's
cutting big squares of it."

When the squares were peeled into many thin sheets (the girls thought
that great sport) Mr. Black distributed them among the other castaways.

"Here are two pencils," said he. "I'll use my fountain pen."

"And I always have pencils in my bag," said Mrs. Crane. "I'll tend to
the provisions, Peter, if you'll look out for the other things. Be
sure, girls, to ask for extra shoes and stockings; you'll need those
and something warm to sleep in."

Noting that one more pencil was needed, Dave began to fumble in an
apparently bottomless pocket. From the depths he finally produced a
grimy, greasy stub, which he offered to pencil-less Marjory.

But Marjory, fastidious little maid that she was, drew back from it,
loathingly, and declined.

Gentle-mannered Jean, promptly surmising that Dave's feelings might be
hurt, handed her own clean, long pencil to Marjory and accepted Dave's
offering, with a sweet-voiced "thank you."

From that moment, Dave was Jean's abject slave; and, if the proofs of
his devotion were not always welcome, they at least proved numerous.



CHAPTER VII

Delivered by Dave


BY this time, of course, the mothers, Aunty Jane, the solitary
grandmother, and even the fathers, were decidedly alarmed; for morning
disclosed the disquieting fact that the Whale was still missing.

Mrs. Slater thought that somebody ought to call up the police; Mrs.
Tucker suggested sending the militia forth on horseback to scour the
surrounding country. Aunty Jane advised ringing the fire bell.

"All nonsense," blustered Doctor Bennett, more worried than he was
willing to admit; but, since all the alarmed ladies, singly and
collectively, had appealed to him for advice, it was necessary of
course to appear as unconcerned as possible. "All nonsense, I say. If
Mr. Black has had an accident with his car he probably doesn't care
to have the fact advertised. Nor do we want the whole town worrying
about our children. Be reasonable. There isn't a road in the country
that crosses a railroad track; there isn't an inch of road anywhere
about that skirts any dangerous declivity. The Whale _might_ get stuck
in some swamp or stalled in the sand or lose a tire or run short of
gasoline. In any of those cases, they'd take refuge _somewhere_, while
waiting for repairs. Folks with automobiles often get held up for a
night. There's just one thing for us to do. That is, to wait. Go home,
everybody, and _wait_."

So, only partly relieved of their fears, though frequently upheld by
encouraging Doctor Bennett, these good people waited throughout the
long, dreary day.

       *       *       *       *       *

To return to the castaways, it required nearly every minute of the two
hours that Dave spent in slumber to prepare those lists and various
letters, for they all needed a great deal of revising.

Henrietta's was the last note to be finished, because that ingenious
maid added a miraculous number of postscripts. All the other missives
were tied together with a stout string; when Henrietta, who had seized
hers at the last moment to add a request for marshmallows, discovered
that Dave, with the large packet inside his shirt, was already making
for the path out of the clearing.

Henrietta flew after him with the note, which was addressed very
clearly to Mrs. Slater. Dave laughed, thrust the note lightly into the
pocket of his shirt, and vanished--Dave had a curious way of melting,
with surprising suddenness, from one's sight.

"He'll lose that," declared Henrietta, returning to the group sheltered
under a big pine tree--the June sun was bright in the clearing. "I wish
it were tied up with the others."

It was fortunate, however, that it was not; for the Indian proved an
erratic postman.

It took Dave less time than Mr. Black had supposed it would to reach
Lakeville--and a Lakeville friend, dwelling on the outskirts of the
town. This hospitable friend considered it necessary to refresh his
visitor with the contents of a large, flat bottle.

Now, Dave was very easily affected by strong drink. After he had parted
from his generous host, he remembered hazily that he had something
to deliver to somebody--he cherished a dim recollection of a flying,
girlish figure, a bright, youthful countenance, and a letter. That was
it, a letter. He groped in his trousers pockets. Nothing there. In his
loose belt. Nothing there. In the pocket of his dingy shirt. Yes, there
it was.

Clutching it firmly, the staggering Indian searched the sky above him
with bleared but inquiring eyes.

"What ye lookin' for?" asked Pat Mulligan, the policeman.

"Pos'--pos' office," replied Dave, with a wide, friendly smile.
"Let--letters s'mail."

"Give it here," said Pat, "I'm goin' right there myself."

With that, he escorted trusting Dave to the village lockup. This safely
accomplished, he studied the address on the birch-bark note.

"Sure," observed Pat, "there's no stamp on this. 'Twas plainly meant to
be delivered by hand. On the Avenoo, is it? I'm knowin' the house--I'll
take it there."

Which the good-natured officer did, to the great relief of Mrs. Slater,
who, in spite of Doctor Bennett's assurances, was almost wild, by this
time, with anxiety.

"Dear Granny," extravagant Henrietta had written. "I'm a wild Indian in
the loveliest woods in the world. We're all safe and comfortable and
we're going to stay _forever_, so send me a nightie and a toothbrush,
some stockings, my tennis shoes, my oldest dress, some underwear; and,
if you love me, a clean towel--a fuzzy one. Affectionately, Henrietta.

"P.S.--I'd like a pillow-case, _if_ you please. And a sheet.

"P.S.--Oh, yes--I need my hairbrush and my bathing suit.

"P.S.--And a lot of things to eat; bread, pie, cake, cookies, fruit,
and fish-hooks.

"P.S.--Please can I have a red bandanna handkerchief and a button to
sew on my petticoat. Also, a pair of shoe strings.

"P.S.--Peanuts and everything else you can thing of to eat and wear.

"P.S.--Please send the bundle to Mr. Black's office to Mr. Saunders.

"P.S.--A can of condensed milk for Anthony Fitz-Hubert, if they _do_
call the poor dear 'Ambrosial Delight.'

"P.S.--A whole bushel of marshmallows for _me_. I love you."

Mrs. Slater, a bright old lady with sparkling black eyes, not unlike
Henrietta's own, read this letter with very evident enjoyment. Then she
went to the telephone.

"Is this Doctor Tucker?" she asked. "Have you heard from Bettie? Oh,
haven't you? Well, I have--that is, from Henrietta. They are safe and
comfortable; and, I should judge from Henrietta's note, uproariously
happy. If you'll call up the Bennetts and Marjory's Aunt Jane, I'll
tell Mrs. Mapes. Then I'll drive round, presently, and let you see
the note--no, she didn't mention the Whale--I fancy your girls will
want as many things as Henrietta does. Don't forget to tell the
others--good-by."

This, of course, relieved the anxious minds of the parents; and Doctor
Bennett was thoughtful enough to inform Martin that the party was safe.

At ten o'clock the next morning, Dave was given an opportunity to
appear before Judge Wilson and tell his story. The delayed notes came
to light, and by noon were properly distributed, whereupon there was
a grand scurrying in several households; and in Mr. Black's office as
well.

"What," asked puzzled Mrs. Bennett, running into Mrs. Tucker's
conveniently near house, "did Bettie ask for? This is every word Mabel
wrote."

Mrs. Bennett drew a scrap of bark from her blouse. Mrs. Tucker laughed
when she read it.

"Dear Mother:" wrote Mabel. "Please send about a thousand bananas. We
are going to stay here."

All around this was an elaborate border of drawings--attempts at
squirrels. Mabel had left no room for further writing.

"I hope," Mrs. Tucker said, eying the drawings, apprehensively, "that
that place isn't infested with rats."

"They're _rabbits_," explained Mrs. Bennett, with conviction. "Mabel
has quite a talent for drawing. But I wish she'd _written_ a little
more."

"She probably needs all the articles that Bettie asks for," said Mrs.
Tucker. "Bettie says she's feeling fine. I suppose they found an empty
farmhouse and took possession of it."

"Yes," agreed Mrs. Bennett, "I can just _see_ them moving into those
empty rooms and making them as homelike as possible."

It was a good thing, perhaps, that Mrs. Bennett _couldn't_ see the
house that her daughter was living in; for it certainly wasn't much
of a house, even with the extra touches that Mr. Black was adding at
that very moment. But of course it was better than none. The good lady,
re-enforced by Bettie's really useful list, went home to hunt up as
many as she could locate of Mabel's scattered belongings; for Mabel,
ever the untidiest of mortals, kept her wardrobe in the unlikeliest of
places.

Poor Mr. Saunders certainly had his hands full collecting all the
things for which Mr. Black and his good sister had asked--these
hospitable souls were bent on providing their guests with every
possible comfort. It was not easy, either, to find a boatman willing or
able to go so far--the distance was greater by water than by land.

When all else was packed in Captain Berry's gasoline launch, Mr.
Saunders paid Dave's fine and secured his release from the jail, for
Mr. Black had written that Dave was to ride with the motley cargo. This
cargo was all aboard, even to Mabel's bananas, but it was the morning
of the following day before the boat was able to start, because Captain
Berry, the launch-man, had discovered at dusk that his gasoline barrel
was empty. By that time Dave was missing. But dauntless Mr. Saunders
employed Mulligan, the policeman, to find him; and Dave, very much the
worse for the liquid portion of his breakfast, was finally loaded,
with his snarling dog, aboard the launch. Dave, it was only too plainly
evident, was unable to resist the temptations of town life.

At last, however, to the great relief of Mr. Saunders, the launch was
started on its way. "I feel," said the weary bachelor, turning away
from the wharf, "just like the father of a whole orphan asylum."



CHAPTER VIII

The Pangs of Hunger


BY this time, the castaways were on the brink of starvation. They had
feasted all the first day, and, with the prospect of more provisions
coming, had eaten all they could hold on the second; that was no small
amount, for the fresh air had quickened all their appetites. On the
third they ate about all there was left for breakfast.

"We might as well," said Mrs. Crane, "for the boat or the wagon will
surely be here by noon, or, at worst, by night."

But, thanks to unreliable Dave, the castaways' calculations were all
wrong. Not a crumb arrived that day. For their noon meal, they drank
some very weak cocoa, some broken crackers, and some crusts that Mabel
had left at breakfast time. Mabel always left her crusts; though now
that she had nothing else to eat, they tasted, as Mabel said, almost as
good as cake.

"This won't do," said Mr. Black, putting his share of the fragments on
Bettie's wooden plate. "I'm going to rob that Indian's wigwam and we'll
have a real meal just as soon as we can cook it."

"If we were toads," offered Mabel, disconsolately eying her empty
plate, "we could eat toadstools. I saw a lot of awfully queer ones
along the road that leads to Barclay's Point."

"Toadstools?" questioned Mr. Black, pausing in his flight. "What were
they like?"

"Very pointed at the top," returned Mabel. "Some of them were shaped
just like big, smooth eggs and some were spread out flat like a
parasol."

"What color were they?"

"Gray--sort of silvery. One of the big ones was all wet on the edges
with shoeblacking--all drippy."

"Inky mushrooms!" exclaimed Mr. Black and Mrs. Crane, in one breath.

"Sarah," continued Mr. Black, "you go with Mabel and look at those
'toadstools' while I burglarize Dave's wigwam. Then we'll have a meal
even if it doesn't happen to be mealtime."

"I guess," mourned Bettie, "we fed too many scraps to the squirrels."

The toadstools proved to be a very fine variety of "inky" mushrooms
(long afterwards Jean learned that the proper name for this mushroom
was _coprinus atramentarius_). They grew in generous clusters and it
was great fun to gather the queer, slippery objects and pack them
carefully in Mrs. Crane's basket, which was soon filled. Mr. Black
returned with a number of potatoes, a saucepan, part of the Indian's
venison, some salt, and a little flour.

"That," explained Mr. Black, "is to thicken the gravy. Here, Jean, hand
me that frying-pan for my venison cutlets. Marjory, you may run to the
beach with these potatoes and wash them. Take this saucepan with you
and scour that, too--use sand. I'll build a good fire and get a pail of
water. Here come the mushroom gatherers. What luck, Sarah? Phew! You
_have_ made a haul!"

"Are they really good to eat?" queried Bettie, distrustfully.

"One of the very best kinds that grow."

"And you're sure that these are that kind?"

"Perfectly sure. Sarah and I used to gather them when we were children,
didn't we, Sarah? I'm glad there's a tiny corner of butter left to fry
them in."

By the middle of the afternoon, this curiously acquired meal was ready;
and, although the potatoes were plain boiled with their jackets on
and the gravy was pretty lumpy, it all tasted very good indeed to the
hungry castaways.

"I guess," said Mabel, taking most of the credit for the mushrooms to
herself, "that I just about saved your lives."

"Or poisoned us," remarked Marjory, who wasn't quite sure that she
liked mushrooms. "I'm glad, anyway, that we've enough meat and potatoes
and gravy left for another meal."

"That venison," said Mr. Black, beaming at his satisfied family, "was
certainly good."

"Mr. Black," queried Henrietta, her black eyes twinkling saucily,
"didn't I hear you say that you were going to have Dave arrested for
getting game out of season? What happens to people that _eat_ it out of
season?"

"They get arrested, imprisoned, and fined," said Mr. Black, "provided
the game warden catches them. I'm glad you asked that question,
Henrietta. Girls, you are not to mention this venison in town or to
any chance visitor that may come this way. And don't point out that
wigwam to any stranger--there are too many evidences of Dave's crimes
about the place. Besides, they're on my property--they _might_ hold me
responsible."

"Particularly if they caught you with the bones on your plate,"
remarked Mrs. Crane, dryly. "And, in any case, you stole that venison."

"Dave owes me a lot more than this for rent," returned Mr. Black. "But
we won't have to break any game laws if Saunders sends the fishing
tackle I ordered. There are three good meals a day swimming about in
our own river."

"What," asked Bettie, "is that net for--the one that Dave left on the
beach? Why can't you fish with that?"

"By Jove!" exclaimed Mr. Black, "that _is_ fishing tackle. But that's
against the law, too. It's to stretch across the river for trout; but
that form of sport isn't permitted. Still----"

"Peter, you _wouldn't_!" protested Mrs. Crane.

"Sarah, I _would_--if it were necessary to keep us from hunger. But if
I ever do--girls, _whatever_ I do, you must remember about that game
warden."

"We will," promised Henrietta.

"We will," chorused the others.

And when the time came, they did; but you shall hear about that after
awhile.

The castaways were up bright and early the next morning. For one
thing the mosquitoes troubled them; hitherto the light breeze blowing
across their camp ground had kept these pests away; but the night had
been unusually still and the tantalizing insects had discovered the
sleeping campers. For another thing, everybody wanted to be up and as
much dressed as possible when the boat or the wagon should come. This
uncertainty as to whether relief would arrive by land or approach by
water added very considerably to the excitement. It wasn't possible
for the girls to do much of anything except to run by turns to the
spot whence one could look down the road and to that other spot from
which one could view the lake. Unfortunately there was no one spot that
commanded both these avenues of approach.

Just at noon, a shrill screech from Marjory, prancing precariously on
the edge of the bank, announced that relief was in sight.

"A ship--a ship!" shrieked keen-sighted Marjory.

"Where away?" demanded Mr. Black.

"There she blows!" quoted Marjory, employing the only other nautical
term she could call to mind and pointing with an extended forefinger.

"That's not a whale--that's a boat," scoffed Henrietta, who had
traveled. "It's whales that blow."

"I don't care," returned Marjory. "And boats do too, when they have
whistles. Anyhow, I saw it first---- Look out, Mabel!"

But the frail edge of the bank had already crumbled under weighty
Mabel, who, unexpectedly, shot downward to the beach. No harm was done,
however, for the sand was clean and soft.

"Mabel," laughed Mr. Black, "you'll have my whole hundred-and-twenty
acres in the lake if you don't stop tumbling off the edge of my
property. This isn't the first time you've taken a large slice off the
landscape."

"It's about the ninth," admitted Mabel, scrambling back to the grassy
top. "I'm always forgetting how easily it breaks away."

"That's because it sticks out a little over the top," explained sage
Jean. "In very stormy weather the waves wash against the bank and scoop
it out."

"I suppose that _is_ our boat," said Mr. Black, rubbing his chin, "and
I hope my razor's on it--I must look like a pirate by this time, or a
tramp."

Coatless Mr. Black, without his daily shave and with his broken
suspenders mended with odd bits of twine, certainly did look rather
unlike his usually neat self.

"That boat isn't coming very fast," complained Marjory.

"It's a very clear day," explained Mrs. Crane, "so you can see a long
distance. That boat is probably several miles away."

In spite of their impatience, the boat remained several miles away for
a long, long time.

"If that _is_ a boat," said Mr. Black, "it's the very slowest one on
Lake Superior."

"Perhaps," suggested Jean, "it's going the other way."

But the boat was neither going nor coming. The engine had balked; and
Captain Berry, for it really _was_ Captain Berry, was waiting, as he
had often waited before, for his defective electrical apparatus to get
good and ready to work.



CHAPTER IX

An Exciting Afternoon


IT was three o'clock before the speck on the water began to show signs
of life.

"Hurrah!" cried Bettie, who spent much time lying on her stomach on the
beach with her heels in the air, since she was not permitted to use
them recklessly for walking purposes. "I hear something 'chugging.'
Listen, everybody."

"I do believe it's really coming," announced Marjory, who was perched
on a fallen pine tree, whose upturned root rested edgewise on the
bank while its trunk, firmly upheld by the stout stubs of its broken
branches, extended far out over the shallow water. Light-footed Marjory
delighted in running the length of that log, or in perching at its
outer end. Henrietta enjoyed it, too. Sometimes all the girls sat on it
in a giggling row, with their feet dangling over the water.

"Yes," said Mr. Black, rolling up his sleeves (there would be plenty
of work for all hands when the boat should arrive), "that craft is
certainly headed this way."

"By the way," said Mr. Black, with a comprehensive glance that swept
the entire group, "how many of you would like to go home when that boat
goes back?"

"Not I," cried Bettie.

"Not I," echoed Jean.

"Nor I," said Marjory.

"I'm going to stay forever," declared Henrietta.

"As for me," said Mabel, "I feel as if I'd only just got here!"

"You don't look it," said Henrietta; "there's a suspiciously dark ring
about your neck, your wrists are black, and you're fairly bursting out
between your buttons."

"Well," retorted Mabel, "there isn't much use in taking a bath when
you haven't any soap or towels or clean clothes. You just wait till
my--gracious!"

"What's the matter?" asked Jean; for over Mabel's plump and not
over-clean countenance had spread a look of blank dismay.

"I never asked for a thing but bananas," groaned the youngest member of
Mr. Black's flock.

"You can string the skins and wear those," suggested Henrietta,
wickedly, for she delighted in teasing Mabel. "You've seen pictures of
Fiji Islanders, haven't you? Well, no doubt you'll come to that."

"Never mind," soothed Jean, the peacemaker. "Mother always sends a lot
more of everything than anybody needs; so perhaps I'll be able to lend
you a thing or two. I'd do anything to stay."

"How is it with you, Sarah?" asked Mr. Black. "Do _you_ want to go
home?"

"Peter," replied Mrs. Crane, "this _is_ home."

"I'm beginning to think," said Mr. Black, "that we were all born wild
Indians. I don't want to go home myself; and I hope that Saunders won't
send any news that will make me feel that I ought to. How about you,
Ambrosial Delight? Do _you_ like the woods, little cat?"

The frisky kitten, always responsive to attention, scrambled up Mr.
Black's leg, leaped to his broad shoulder, and began running in a
circle round and round Mr. Black's neck.

"He says," interpreted Henrietta, "that he wouldn't go home for the
best cow's milk in the country."

At last the boat, headed straight for the shore, was so near that the
campers could see that every available inch of the craft was filled
with boxes, bundles, and baskets. The excited little girls pranced
so recklessly on the edge of the bank that a lot more of it crumbled
and rolled to the beach, a youngster or two with it. Mabel, anxious
to obtain a closer view of the boat's cargo, as Captain Berry dropped
anchor, rushed recklessly toward the end of the long, prostrate pine.

"Oh!" shrieked Marjory, "you're shaking the whole log! Oh! Oh! Don't
touch _me_!"

But Marjory's admonition came too late. Plump, clumsy Mabel, feeling
the need of some other support than the log afforded, flung her arms
about her slender comrade. There was another alarmed shriek from
Marjory, two wildly scrambling figures clutching at empty air--and a
prodigious splash. The water at this point was just knee deep; enough
of it, fortunately, to break the girls' fall and not enough to drown
them.

Dave and his dog plunged overboard from the launch and waded rapidly to
the rescue. That is, Dave waded and Onota swam. Mr. Black, too, waded
hurriedly to the spot where Mabel, on all-fours, was endeavoring to
stand upright and where Marjory was thrashing about like a frenzied
trout.

Dave seized one, Mr. Black the other, and, in another moment the girls
were safe on their feet, gasping, sputtering, and trying to wipe their
wet faces on their wetter skirts.

"It's a good thing," said Mr. Black, leading his half of the rescued
victims ashore, "that your dry clothes are in sight."

"I only hope they are," breathed Mabel. "I didn't _ask_ for any."

As there was no dock, the launch could not be taken very close to
shore, so her cargo was carefully unloaded by Captain Berry into one of
the three small boats that he was towing. Dave, already so wet that a
little more moisture did not matter, pushed this smaller craft ashore.
The boat's nose was drawn up on a strip of wet sand, perhaps three feet
across. Next to this came about twenty feet of dry, white sand. After
that a sand bank eight feet high led by a steep path to the grassy
plateau above.

"All hands unload," shouted Mr. Black, seizing some of the lighter
parcels and tossing them up to Mrs. Crane, who carried them back a few
yards from the edge and piled them under a tree. The girls grabbed
baskets and bundles, too, and scrambled up the steep bank with them and
scurried down again for more. Mabel and Marjory worked also, which was
better than sitting still in wet clothes; and Dave, Captain Berry, and
Mr. Black toiled up the bank with the heavier articles. When the first
boat load was cared for, the little craft was rowed back to the launch
for another cargo--it made four trips.

Two of the small boats that Captain Berry had towed behind the launch
were pulled high on the beach, with oars and oar-locks laid carefully
inside. The girls were delighted when they learned that they were to be
left at the camp.

Some of the baskets and bundles were addressed to the little girls and
you may be certain that it wasn't long before those eager children had
the wrappings torn from their many parcels.

"Hey!" shrieked Mabel, prancing heavily on one foot and waving aloft a
pair of stockings and a freshly laundered petticoat, "they _did_ send
my clothes, and my bananas, too. Now I can dress up."

Everybody laughed, because, if ever a human being looked in need of
clean garments, Mabel did. Her tumble into the lake, followed by sundry
other tumbles up and down the sand bank, had certainly not improved the
appearance of Mabel's pink gingham frock.

"I've two clean dresses, too," added Mabel, after another excursion
into her basket, "and a cake of soap."

At sight of the soap, the girls fairly shrieked with mirth.

"For goodness' sake," advised Marjory, "go use it."

Mr. Black found the hammer he had sent for (fortunately Saunders had
marked the outside of all the parcels that he had packed, so that
one could be reasonably certain as to the nature of the contents)
and knocked the covers off all the boxes in order to ascertain if
everything he had ordered had been sent. When he and Mrs. Crane were
satisfied as to this matter, they told Captain Berry that everything
was all right.

"But," suggested Mrs. Crane, "hadn't he better come back in about a
week to see if we need anything? And there's the Whale----"

"We can send Dave to town again if we find we need provisions. And
Saunders writes that he couldn't tell from Dave's directions how to
reach us with horses and would await further orders concerning the
car. Now that I have tools I can build a temporary shelter over the
Whale."

"I'll have to be starting homeward pretty soon," said Captain Berry,
who had been casting anxious glances at the sky. "Those clouds are
traveling pretty fast and there's considerable ripple on the water.
There'll be something doing before morning."

"Rain?" asked Mrs. Crane, anxiously.

"Wind," said the Captain, "but there may be rain, too."

"If that's the case, we'd better get those tents up at once," said Mr.
Black, "and then we shan't care if it does rain. We have five tents and
plenty of blankets."

"Well," offered Captain Berry, "if you've five tents to put up, I guess
I'd better help you; but you mustn't keep me too long."

Fortunately, poles and stakes came with the tents and the ground in the
grassy clearing was level. Soon, with valuable assistance from Dave, a
large octagonal tent of gaily striped canvas was in place.

"This," said Mr. Black, viewing it with satisfaction, "is our
dining-room."

Next, the three men hurriedly put up a large, straight-walled sleeping
tent that looked very clean and new.

"This," said Mr. Black, wiping the perspiration from his brow, "is for
you five girls--you'll have room for your bed and space enough to dress
in."

Of the remaining tents, one was for Mrs. Crane, another for Mr. Black,
and the third was for the provisions. As soon as the tents were up,
and good Captain Berry was chug-chugging away as fast as he could in
his very much lightened launch, there was plenty of work for all hands
to do. Provisions were placed under cover, fresh balsam beds were
arranged in the three sleeping tents--Dave brought the boughs and made
the beds--and the girls stored their bundles of clothing in their big
bedroom.

In addition to garments for their charges, the three mothers, Marjory's
Aunty Jane, and Henrietta's grandmother had sent large baskets of
delightful things to eat. Mrs. Slater had sent two roasted chickens,
some bread, a huge frosted cake, and some oranges; besides all the
things for which Henrietta had asked. Mrs. Mapes had dispatched bread,
doughnuts, and three gigantic apple pies. Mrs. Bennett's contributions
were some fine home-made rolls, a large veal loaf, a big box of
cookies, besides a huge basket of bananas for her daughter Mabel. Aunty
Jane had sent four kinds of pickles, four kinds of jelly, four kinds of
jam, and a large beefsteak. Mrs. Tucker had added a large jar of baked
beans, a generous salad, and two big pans of gingerbread.

"I guess," said Mrs. Crane, almost overwhelmed with these contributions
to her pantry, "we won't have to use the flour, the yeast cakes, and
the tin oven I sent for, just yet awhile."

"Nor the potatoes, canned things, and other provisions that _I_
ordered," said Mr. Black. "We're certainly bountifully supplied with
food."

"We'll have a ready-made supper to-night," promised Mrs. Crane.

"If you'll wait half an hour," said Mr. Black, "we'll have a table to
eat it on. Now that I have nails and a saw, we can have real furniture."

Dave and Mr. Black made not only a table but four benches, each long
enough to hold four persons. The table had to have a hole in the center
to accommodate the tent pole; but Mr. Black managed that. Then he
fastened two lamps with reflectors to the pole, Mrs. Crane spread a
big sheet of white oil-cloth over the table, and the dining-room was
complete.

Jean begged a number of wooden boxes from which the contents had been
removed. "We can put our extra clothes in them," said she, "and keep
our toilet articles on top. I'm so glad to have a hairbrush that I feel
as if I ought to frame it."

"Anything more to build?" asked Mr. Black.

"I'd like a cupboard for my dishes," said Mrs. Crane, who was setting
the attractive table. "But you needn't make it to-night. It's a good
thing the plates came--our wooden ones wouldn't have stood another
washing. And I'm glad to have a dishpan."

"Wasn't the lake big enough?"

"It wasn't in the right place. Where's Dave? He seems to think he
belongs to us. Hadn't we better give him some supper?"

"Yes. If you'll put something on a plate I'll carry it to him--he's
gone to his wigwam. I want to tell him that we took his venison and
potatoes. Here, that's enough--I can't carry _three_ plates."



CHAPTER X

A Stormy Night


EVERY one had been too busy to think about the weather. But, when
supper was on the table, Mrs. Crane noticed that Jean's dark hair had
been blown about her face, that Henrietta's, too, was flying about in
loose locks, and that the loose canvas at the doorway of the big tent
was flapping noisily.

"Look at the lake!" cried Marjory. "It's all mussed up and queer, like
something _boiling_. I hope Captain Berry got home safely."

"The wind is in his favor and he has had sufficient time. But that's
a pretty angry sea--I guess Dave and I had better pull those boats to
the top of the bank, after supper. We're going to have some waves that
_are_ waves before morning."

The lake, at that hour, however, was not so rough as it was
threatening. Its surface was of a dark, dull slate-color, marked
with long lines of deep blue and blackish purple. Some hidden force
seemed to be lifting it from underneath as if, as Marjory said, it
were boiling, or at least getting ready to boil. The sun had dropped
behind the distant hills without leaving the usual rose-pink afterglow.
Overhead, dark clouds were scurrying toward the southwest; but as yet
the waves had not gathered sufficient strength to be very noisy. The
air was colder; and that, too, seemed filled with hidden threats and
half-whispered warnings.

"I'm thankful," said Mr. Black, carving more roasted chicken for
Bettie, who said that all fowls _should_ have had eight legs apiece,
"that we have good, sound tents to sleep in to-night and that Captain
Berry knew how to put them up so they'd stay. After we've pulled the
boat up, Dave and I will see if any of the ropes need tightening. There
is one thing that everybody must remember. If it rains, you must not
touch the canvas--that makes it leak."

It was too windy for a fire on the beach that night, so the castaways,
in their warm sweaters, sat round the dining-room table, and, by
the light of the big lamps enjoyed the magazines that Mr. Saunders
had thoughtfully included. They were particularly interested in the
advertisements of tents, boats, and other camp-y things.

Just as Bettie was certain that her eyes would not stay open a single
moment longer, there was a loud crash near at hand.

"Now what?" cried startled Mrs. Crane, who was hemming some of the
queer dish-toweling that inexperienced Mr. Saunders had been obliged to
select, "is that? Not thunder, I hope."

"Our late residence, I suspect," returned Mr. Black. "It's a good thing
we moved out when we did--I guess I'd better rescue that tablecloth."

By this time the waves were running high and dashing savagely against
the bank. Usually the hurrying clouds obscured the moon; but, whenever
it gleamed forth for a moment, it showed a foaming, furious sea--their
calm, beautiful, softly tinted lake was gone.

"I'm glad," shuddered Bettie, "that I'm not out there in a boat."

"I hope," said Jean, "that nobody is. A little boat would be smashed to
bits."

"Wouldn't it be dreadful," suggested Henrietta, "if a ship were wrecked
right down there on the beach? Anyway, I guess we'd find it pretty
exciting."

"Or the ship would," offered Marjory.

"Let's hope _hard_," said Bettie, "that all the ships and sailors are
in snug, safe harbors--When I go to bed to-night I'm going to make a
little prayer about it."

But, in spite of Bettie's little prayer, if, indeed, she remembered to
make it, there were several ships abroad that night; and a passenger on
one of the smallest and least significant was probably, at that very
moment, sailing into this story; but many other things happened before
he was unceremoniously tumbled into the tale; and you must have them in
their turn.

All night long the heavy surf pounded and thundered on the beach. All
night long the wind howled and shrieked. But the castaways, snug in
their strong new tents and their warm, red blankets, slept through all
the turmoil.

They were obliged, next morning, to forego the pleasure of washing
their faces in the lake; but the river, with some help from the bright
new dishpan, served as well. Dave's ice-cold spring provided them with
excellent drinking water.

"This storm," said Mr. Black, arranging a temporary shelter for the
fire, "will bring us plenty of driftwood. We can have benches under the
trees and an extra table or two--I expect to get thin, building things."

"Well, it won't hurt you," returned Mrs. Crane. "You can begin by
building that fire--I'm ready to cook."

Previously to this time, the days had been warm and comparatively
quiet; but to-day it was decidedly cold. The wind, sweeping through the
clearing, carried off all the bits of paper and string that the eager
girls had torn from their parcels the night before and thoughtlessly
scattered about. It was necessary to fasten things down to keep them
from swirling out of sight. The big waves still thundered in and their
white spray dashed high above the edge of the battered bank.

But, for all that, it proved a delightful day, because the clear air
was wonderfully bracing, the campers were really camping, and one could
escape the buffeting of the wind and the continuous roar of the waves
by taking long walks in the sheltered trails and roads.

"This," said Mr. Black, when the morning's work was done, "would be a
good time to walk to Barclay's Point to see the waves. These are just
tiny wavelets beside what we'll see over there--they'll be perfectly
terrific on the north side of that peninsula. I _was_ going to fish in
the river with those nice angleworms that Saunders sent; but I can take
you there first and do my fishing afterwards."

There were two ways of getting to Barclay's Point. In ordinary weather,
one walked up the beach. In stormy weather, there was a very roundabout
way by the road and a more direct route by a woodsy trail that wasn't
exactly visible--one _felt_ rather than saw it. Some persons have an
instinct for following trails. Jean had it, Marjory had it to a lesser
degree; but Mabel and Henrietta were without it; while Dave, Indian
that he was, could see trails where none existed for any one else.
Since Jean possessed the trail-instinct, she walked ahead, while Mr.
Black, in order to keep Mabel and Henrietta from straying from the
path, marched behind. Mrs. Crane remained in camp with Bettie, who was
not yet permitted to take long walks.

To reach Barclay's, one crossed the river twice. The first crossing
was easy, for there was a rude bridge built of heavy timber. But
the second was a different matter. Nature had provided a bridge by
conveniently dropping a huge tree across the stream, which was wide and
about three feet deep at this point. The log--the branches had long
ago been chopped away--was very wide at one end but tapered somewhat
toward the other. When the water was low, there was room for a canoe
to pass under this log. Jean walked steadily across it, Marjory flitted
over it like a bird, Henrietta, with fancy steps that would have been
impossible for the others even on solid ground, danced across; but
Mabel, wavering and wabbling, had to be assisted by Mr. Black, who
stretched forth a helping hand the moment she began to falter.

"I guess," declared Mabel, indignantly, "that old tree was a slippery
elm."

"No," returned Mr. Black, "it was pine, and a big fellow at that. It's
been here for many years."

"How can you tell?" queried Henrietta.

"See that birch tree growing from the upper side of its root? That
birch has had time to grow from a seed into a good-sized tree since
some mighty tornado or some unusual freshet uprooted this great
pine--pine does not rot as quickly as some of the harder woods."

"I see one reason why it fell," asserted Jean. "There's water bubbling
out down there, under the root."

"So there is," said Mr. Black. "I'm glad I brought my cup--that's a
spring. We'll have a drink."

So everybody drank some of the clear, cold water before proceeding to
Barclay's.

There was no sign of civilization at Barclay's Point; just a long,
rocky promontory that ran out into the lake and, in fair weather,
furnished a fine place to fish from. Its north coast was particularly
rough and jagged. Here, as Mr. Blank had prophesied, the waves,
roaring and booming like ceaseless artillery, struck with tremendous
force against the rocks and dashed to prodigious heights--a grand and
unforgettable sight.

But Mabel's sweater was not unforgettable. She had taken it off because
she was too warm after the steep climb to the spot from which the waves
presented the finest spectacle (nobody wanted to get _too_ close to all
that mountain of water) and anchored the garment firmly to the ground
by means of a heavy stone. She returned to camp without missing it--she
had something more exciting to think of, for Henrietta had mentioned
that one of the contributions from her grandmother was a large box of
candy.

"We'll have some," promised Henrietta, "as soon as we get back to camp."

Naturally Mabel, who was inordinately fond of sweet things and who had
had no candy for a week, forgot all about her gray sweater, so near the
color of the rocks that nobody else noticed it. But, notwithstanding
the discomfort she endured without it, she was glad afterwards that she
_had_ forgotten it.



CHAPTER XI

Dry Clothes for Five


INSPIRED by the prospect of candy, Mabel was eager for the campward
trail. This trail was wide and clearly marked near Barclay's, so Mabel
ran gaily ahead; but the others followed closely at her heels--it was
too windy for much lingering on that exposed shore.

Mabel, with just one thought in her head, started heedlessly to run
across the log that spanned the river. If a squirrel hadn't started
at the same moment from the other end, Mabel might have rushed safely
across. But, startled by the sudden, affrighted chattering of the
surprised squirrel, Mabel stopped, staggered, swayed, and began to
clutch wildly for support. She found it in the scarlet necktie of
Henrietta's blouse.

Henrietta, clutched by the throat, as it were, seized Mabel with one
hand and Marjory with the other in order to sustain her own suddenly
disturbed balance. For a moment, all three swayed uncertainly. Then,
there was a mighty splash. All three were gone!

The disturbed river bottom sent up bubbles of mud, a hand, a foot,
then a bedraggled hair ribbon. Mr. Black, followed by courageous
Jean, plunged to the rescue. In a moment, they had all three of the
struggling, half-strangled girls on their feet. As the river bottom was
of the softest of mud, no one was hurt; but the rescuers as well as the
rescued were completely drenched.

"Now, see here, Mabel," said Mr. Black, wiping that subdued young
person's dripping countenance with his own wet handkerchief, "you'll
have this whole camp drowned if you don't look out. After this, you're
to stick to solid earth. I'm in earnest about this, Mabel. You're not
to attempt to cross this log again, unless I'm with you."

"You were here _this_ time," complained the dripping culprit.

"It's a good thing I was. Jean would have had a fine time fishing the
three of you out of that mud. Now, we'll just wade across here where
it isn't so deep--we can't get any wetter than we are--and race home
before we begin to feel cold."

They raced as well as they could, in clinging garments and water-soaked
shoes; but they presented a curious sight as they trailed into the
clearing. Mrs. Crane and Bettie advanced eagerly to greet them.

"Company!" warned Bettie, running ahead. "Two young men that drove up
in a buckboard to spend the day fishing in our river--Mr. Saunders sent
some letters by them. Thought I'd tell you so you could prink a little,
Henrietta--my goodness! What's happened?"

"I've been fishing in the river myself," explained Mr. Black, "and this
is what I caught--three very much speckled trout."

"My land!" exclaimed Mrs. Crane. "What an awful mess!"

"It's just mud," said Marjory. "A few of us landed head first in
several inches of it. It was Mabel, of course, that pulled us in--she
fell off the big log on the trail to Barclay's."

"Well, you're certainly a sight," laughed Bettie, turning back with her
friends. "I don't know which of you looks worst."

"They _all_ do," groaned Mrs. Crane. "And here was I just telling those
two young men that we had with us as pretty a lot of children as they'd
find in the state!"

The young men, seated on one of the benches, looked at the "pretty
lot of children." Then, throwing back their heads, they laughed
uproariously.

"We knew there were fish in the river," said one of the visitors, "but
we hadn't been told about your mermaids."

"I've caught two lots this spring," said Mr. Black, "but this is my
largest--and, I hope, my last--haul. This sort of fishing is hard on my
limited wardrobe."

"Dear me," said Mrs. Crane, "these shivering scarecrows must get out
of their wet garments at once. Here, Jean, you and Henrietta may dress
in my tent--I'll bring your clothes. And, girls, throw all your wet
garments outside--don't drop them on the blankets."

The visitors declined an invitation to dinner, as they had brought an
ample lunch; but before departing they helped Mrs. Crane stretch a long
clothesline between two trees in the clearing.

"These things _should_ be washed," said Mrs. Crane, fastening the
garments to the line with all the safety pins the camp afforded, "but
we can't use the lake just now and it's a little too far to a place
that is just the right depth in the river."

"Perhaps," suggested Bettie, helpfully, "most of the mud will brush off
when the things are dry."

"The sand will, anyway. I hope those girls can find enough clothes to
put on."

"They have the ones they came in," said Bettie, "and Jean's bundle was
extra large."

The active castaways, clothed in dry garments, spent a busy if not
particularly exciting afternoon exploring the trails that led from
the clearing. They gathered flowers, mushrooms, firewood, birch bark,
moss, ferns, and even a few wild strawberries. Dave, who was mysterious
in his comings and goings, taught them how to make willow whistles and
promised to show them some day how to catch chipmunks.

"I think," said Jean, when the campers had assembled for supper, "that
this camp should have a name. We might call it 'Camp Comfort.'"

"Everybody that _has_ a camp," objected Mr. Black, "calls it that.
Let's have something truly poetic."

"We might," suggested Henrietta, "name it the Black Basin."

"That," demurred Bettie, "seems awfully pirate-y. Bob has a book about
pirates that used to hide in a cave called the 'Black Basin'--I'd be
afraid to go to bed nights in a Black Basin."

"Perhaps," offered Henrietta, "'The Crane's Cove' would sound safer."

"That doesn't work right," protested Marjory, wiggling her small pink
tongue comically. "I'd always be saying 'Crane's Crove.'"

"Besides," said Jean, "that isn't romantic enough. We want something
like 'Lover's Leap,' or 'Breezy Bluff,' or 'River's Rest.'"

Just then Dave approached with an offering for Jean--he had already
given her his best willow whistle and a partridge wing. This time it
was a fine speckled trout, bigger than any that Mr. Black had been able
to hook.

"Where'd you catch him?" asked Mr. Black.

Dave shrugged his shoulders and replied evasively: "Pretty goo' fishin'
groun' here at 'Pete's Patch.'"

"Where's Pete's Patch?" demanded Mr. Black, suspiciously.

"Right here," replied Dave, with a gesture that included Mr. Black's
entire property. "He name after you--Ah name heem maself."

"That's nerve for you," breathed Henrietta.

"Pete's Patch!" murmured Mr. Black, who seemed decidedly taken aback.
"Pete's Patch!"

Then the surprised gentleman caught Bettie's dancing eye and suddenly
choked.

"What a lovely name," teased impish Henrietta. "So romantic! So poetic!
I'm glad I came to Pete's Patch--I think I'll have to write some verses
about it--something like this, for instance:

    "If a trout or two you'd catch,
     Or of mushrooms like a batch--
     If a taste of heaven you'd snatch,
     Hie away unto Pete's Patch."

"That's pretty bad," laughed Bettie, "but it goes pretty well with the
name."

Of course the name stuck. Mr. Black tried a number of times to think of
a more suitable or finer sounding name for his beautiful lakeside camp,
but Dave's title was there to stay, so the amused castaways had to make
the best of "Pete's Patch."

"Never mind, Peter," Mrs. Crane would say, "it's a nice place, anyway;
and the name goes very well with our birch-bark stationery."



CHAPTER XII

Mabel's Astonishing Discovery


THE campers rose the next morning without suspecting that a very
strange thing was about to happen; or that Mabel, who was still in
disgrace because of her habit of half drowning her trusting companions,
was, on that never-to-be-forgotten day, as they say in books, to cover
herself with glory--instead of mud.

The inhabitants of Pete's Patch rose to find the sun shining, the wind
gone, the lake settled back in its proper place.

"The sea began to subside before I turned in last night," said Mr.
Black. "It's as gentle as a lamb to-day."

"Look at the shore!" cried Marjory. "It's different. The beach that
was sandy before the storm is all pebbly now; and down there where the
cobblestones were it's all beautiful, smooth sand."

"And look," supplemented Jean, "at the mouth of that surprising river.
It's a lot wider than it was when we came."

"Some time to-day," said Mr. Black, "I want to go to the little cove
about halfway between here and Barclay's Point. That seems to be the
spot that catches everything that is cast up by the sea. I need some
thin boards for your cupboard, Sarah. I noticed the other day that the
sharp cleft in the rocks back of that cove was filled with boards."

"That's an awfully interesting spot," said Jean. "If sailors threw
bottles overboard with letters in them, that's where you'd find
them--everything washes in at that spot."

"Or," said Henrietta, "if the captain lashed his only daughter to the
mast and threw her overboard, that's where she'd land."

"Oh, I _hope_ not," breathed tender-hearted Bettie.

"So do I," laughed Henrietta, with an impish glance at Mr. Black.
"Think of being wrecked on the reef of Pete's Patch!"

"Norman's Woe certainly sounds better," agreed Mr. Black, "but let us
hope that no one got wrecked _any_ place. Now I must take a look at the
Whale--I'm wondering how she weathered the storm."

"It's my turn to wash dishes," announced Jean.

"And mine to wipe," said Henrietta.

"Then Bettie and I will do the beds," said Marjory, quickly.

Mabel, left out in the cold, scowled darkly for a moment. Then she sat
up very stiffly indeed.

"I shall go all by myself and pick up two big baskets of driftwood,"
said she.

"To-morrow morning," offered sympathetic Jean, "you're invited to do
dishes with me, Mabel."

"And beds with me," added impish Henrietta.

"And to wash potatoes with me," teased Marjory.

"Why not let me do _all_ the work?" queried Mabel, huffily. "But I
_will_ do dishes with you, Jean. I know _you_ meant to be polite."

Presently Mabel, with two of the big baskets that had come with the
provisions, slid down the sand bank to the beach. It was certainly a
fine morning. Within two minutes, sturdy Mabel had forgotten that the
others were paired off and that she was the odd one.

"The sky is blue, blue, blue," sang Mabel, marching up the smooth, hard
beach; "the water is blue, blue, blue with golden sparkles; and the air
is warm enough and cool enough and clean, clean, cle--ow!"

A leisurely wave had crept in and made a playful dash for Mabel's
heedless feet.

"You got me that time," beamed friendly Mabel. "I guess you wanted to
remind me that I was out after wood. All right, Mr. Lake, I'll walk
closer to the bank. My! What nice little blocks for our fire. I _love_
to find things."

Soon both baskets were filled; but by this time Mabel was well out of
sight of the camp, having passed two of the little rocky points that
extended into the lake, north of Pete's Patch.

"I wish I had a hundred baskets to fill," sighed Mabel. "I guess I'll
leave these right here and go a little farther; it's such a nice day
and I _love_ to go adventuring. Oh! I know what I'll do; I'll go to
Barclay's Point after my sweater--I hope it hasn't blown away."

So Mabel, with a definite object in view, started at a brisker pace
toward Barclay's. Presently she reached the cove mentioned by Mr. Black
as a catch-all for floating timber. The water was deeper at this place
and a strong current carried quantities of driftwood to this wide,
bowl-shaped cove. In severe storms, some of it was tossed high among
the rocks and gnarled roots in a ravine-like cleft at the back. Nearer
the water, many great logs, partially embedded in the sand, caught and
held the lighter material tossed in by the waves.

"Oh!" cried Mabel, "I wish I had a _million_ baskets! I know what I'll
do. I'll just toss a lot of those go-in-a-basket pieces into a big pile
way up there where the waves can't get them."

Gathering up the edges of her skirt, sturdy Mabel filled it with the
clean, if not particularly dry, bits of wood, worn satin-smooth and
white by long buffetings against graveled shores.

"I'll throw them behind that log," decided Mabel, toiling inland with
her heavy burden. "They'll be perfectly safe up there--My! But they're
pretty heavy. I guess there's room back of that big log for a whole
wag--wow! ow!"

Mabel's final syllable was a curious, startled sound. While not
precisely a gasp, a shriek, or a shout, it was a queer combination of
all three.

Mabel was startled, and with good reason. The space behind the log was
already occupied; and by something that looked human.

The surprised little girl saw first a pair of water-soaked shoes
attached to two very thin, boyish legs in black stockings. Beyond the
stockings was a gray mass of tangled fish-net wound about something
bulky and white that Mabel concluded was a life-preserver. Beyond
that, an extended arm was partly buried in the sand. A thin, white hand
was firmly closed over a sharply projecting point of rock. Very close
against the huge log, so close as to be almost under it, was a shining,
golden ball, the back of a boy's close-cropped head.

[Illustration: THE SPACE BEHIND THE LOG WAS ALREADY OCCUPIED]

For a long moment Mabel, who had unconsciously dropped her load on her
own toes, stood still and gazed questioningly at her unexpected find.
Then the astonished little adventurer climbed over the wood she had
dropped, bent down, and, with one finger, touched the boy's stocking,
gingerly.

"If--if he'd been here very long," she said, sagely, "his stockings
would have been faded. Things fade pretty fast on the lake shore.
Perhaps if I poke him he'll wake up."

Mabel prodded the unfaded legs very gently with a pointed stick. There
was no response.

"I guess he's dead," she sighed. "But I s'pose I ought to feel his
pulse to find out for sure--ugh! I sort of hate to--suppose he _is_
dead!"

But, bravely overcoming her distaste for this obvious duty, Mabel
laid a trembling finger on the slim white hand. It was not as cold and
clammy as she had feared to find it. Mabel touched it again, this time
with several fingers. Yes, the hand was actually a little bit warm.

As she bent closer to the golden head, it seemed to Mabel that she
could detect a sound of breathing, rather heavy breathing, Mabel
thought; a little like Mrs. Crane's, when that good lady snored.

Mabel crouched patiently near the prostrate lad and listened. The
labored breathing certainly came from that recumbent boy.

"But," argued Mabel, "if he's only taking a nap, why is he all tangled
up in that net? And there's that life-preserver. He's been wrecked and
tossed up, I believe. And he's still all wet underneath. Perhaps I
ought to wake him up--he ought not to sleep in such wet clothes."

So Mabel grasped her discovery very firmly by one thin shoulder and
shook him quite vigorously; but he still slept. Then, clutching him
by both shoulders, she succeeded in dragging the heavy sleeper a few
inches from the log; but he seemed rather too firmly anchored to his
resting-place for this method to work successfully. Still, she had
gained something, for now one ear and a bit of one cheek were visible.
They were not white like the extended hand, but darkly red and very hot
to the touch.

"Boy!" called Mabel. "Why don't you wake up? Don't you know that you're
not drowned? Wake up, I say! Whoo! Whoo! _Whoo!_"

But the boy, in spite of what should have proved alarming sounds,
made, as they were, in his very ear, still slumbered on in a strange,
baffling fashion; and Mabel, after watching him in a puzzled way for
several moments longer, found a broad shingle, which she balanced
neatly on the boy's unconscious head.

"That'll keep the sun off," said she, "while I'm gone for help."



CHAPTER XIII

Breaking the News


"I WONDER," said Marjory, who, perched on the edge of the bank, was
shaking the sand from a dried bathing suit, "what's happened to Mabel.
She's running down the beach like mad. And calling! I guess she wants
somebody."

"If _you'd_ keep quiet," suggested Henrietta, "perhaps you could hear
what she says."

"It's 'Mr. Bla-a-a-a-a-ack!'" mimicked Marjory.

Mabel was breathless by the time she reached the foot of the steep sand
bank, just below the camp.

"Oh," she panted. "Mr. Black--get him, quick. And, Jean, _you_ come.
And, Mrs. Crane--scissors! I _must_ have scissors. Phew!"

"Be quiet a moment," advised motherly Mrs. Crane, from the bank. "Sit
right down where you are and rest till you get your breath. Marjory,
you're the quickest--you run for Mr. Black; he's just started for the
wigwam to see if he can find Dave. Jean, I'll trust _you_ with my
scissors; but I'm going to tie them to you with a piece of string.
There! Now we'll go down to Mabel.

"Now," said Mrs. Crane, when that stout lady had made a careful descent
of the sandy bank, "tell us exactly what's happened, Mabel."

"It's a boy!" panted Mabel, "and he isn't dead."

"Most boys aren't," encouraged Bettie, who had a large number of lively
brothers. "Go on, Mabel."

"I found him on the beach."

"Well," scoffed Henrietta, "I guess a boy on a beach isn't anything so
wonderful."

"How did he get there?" queried Mrs. Crane.

"Washed up, I guess. I thought he was drowned. He's _most_ dead."

"Where? Where?" shrieked Henrietta, with sudden interest.

"Where? Where?" echoed Bettie.

Just then Marjory flung herself breathlessly over the edge of the bank
with Mr. Black, also short of breath, close at her heels.

"What's it all about?" demanded Mr. Black. "Has Mabel fallen in again?"

"Get the bread-knife, somebody," ordered Mabel, now sufficiently
recovered to scramble to her feet, "and follow me."

"I have a knife," said Mr. Black, displaying as bloodthirsty a bit of
cutlery as one would want to see. "Saunders thought I might need a
hunting knife. If you've caught a deer I'll skin him for you."

"I guess," laughed Bettie, "she doesn't want her game _skinned_. She's
found a boy."

Presently the procession, headed proudly by Mabel, who now felt very
important indeed and would allow none of her impatient followers to
pass her, was marching up the beach. She was, however, too breathless
for speed.

"Couldn't you go a _little_ faster?" pleaded Marjory.

"No, I couldn't," panted Mabel. "And, if you run ahead of me, you
won't know where to turn off--so there."

"Tell us more about it," begged Henrietta. "I've always been crazy to
rescue a shipwrecked crew!"

"No," said Mabel, "I want my breath to walk with."

Fortunately, the beach was smooth and hard; the excited campers soon
reached the cove. Mabel, thoughtfully pausing long enough for Mrs.
Crane and Bettie to catch up, led them to the big, half-buried log.

"There!" said she, pointing to what was behind it. "That's the boy."

Bettie, Marjory, and Henrietta peered eagerly over the log. Jean, Mrs.
Crane, and Mr. Black hurried behind it. Mr. Black whipped out his
knife, dropped to his knees, and began to cut at the mesh of the stout
net. After a moment Jean assisted with the scissors.

Mrs. Crane patted the boy's hand and laid her own motherly palm against
his cheek.

"Poor lamb! Poor lamb!" she murmured.

Presently the lad was freed from the net and the life-preserver and
gently lifted from the wet wreckage to the warm, dry sand. His eyes
were closed, his breathing jerky and strange, his whole countenance
deeply flushed. Big tears rolled down Mabel's cheeks as she looked at
the limp, pathetic figure.

"That boy," said Mrs. Crane, "is terribly ill with a fever. Goodness
only knows how long he's been imprisoned here, chilled and shivering,
before this fever came on."

"Or just when the waves flung him behind that log," said Mr. Black. "It
might have been early last night, any time yesterday, or even during
the previous night. He was lashed to something with that net--yes, here
it is; a piece of rotten pole as thick as my arm--possibly a mast or
part of a raft. But what concerns us just now is what we're to do for
him."

"He's certainly a sick boy," agreed Mrs. Crane, "and there's nobody but
us to help him."

"Mabel," said Mr. Black, "you'd better take off his shoes--he'll be
lighter without them. Sarah, you'd better hurry back to camp and fix
a bed for him in your tent. Jean, you go with her, build a fire, and
put some water on to boil--a little hot broth might help. If you other
girls will boost him a little, when I say the word, I think I can carry
him."

The girls boosted. Mr. Black, with the long, thin boy hanging limply
over his shoulder, started toward camp. Mabel, a wet shoe dangling from
each hand, plodded after.

"Isn't it exciting?" breathed bright-eyed Henrietta, falling into line.
"A boy right out of the skies."

"I guess you mean right out of the lake," corrected Marjory. "I hope
he'll wake up pretty soon--I'm dying to know how he got behind that
log."

"Perhaps it was a good thing," said Bettie, "that the log was there.
The end of that pole swung under the log and held him right there, or
the waves might have carried him out again or hurled him against the
rocks--ugh!"

"His father," declared Henrietta, dreamily, "was the captain of a
gallant ship. When the vessel was about to sink he said: 'Men! Save
yourselves. As for me, I perish with her.' Then he lashed his only son
to the mast of the sinking ship----"

"What for?" demanded practical Marjory.

"I guess maybe he didn't," amended Henrietta, reflectively. "He made a
raft out of one of the hatches and tied him to that with the only thing
he had at hand--a fish-net."

"But first," added Marjory, "he fastened a life-preserver about him."

"If I could run the way I used to," said thoughtful little Betty
(this was the longest walk she had taken since her arrival at Pete's
Patch), "I'd rush ahead and help Mrs. Crane with that bed. As it is,
I'm willing to help with one of the baskets we're coming to--I guess
Mabel's forgotten all about them."

"I'll help Mrs. Crane," promised nimble-footed Marjory, "if you and
Henrietta will bring the wood--they may need it for the fire that Jean
is to build."

Mr. Black undressed the thin, still-unconscious lad, wrapped him in a
warm blanket (his feet, Mrs. Crane said, were like lumps of ice), and
tucked him into bed.

"If we were in town," declared Mrs. Crane, "I'd send for the doctor."

"Just what I'm going to do, as soon as Dave turns up. I'll go to his
wigwam now--perhaps he's back. Too bad there isn't any medicine----"

"But there is," said Mrs. Crane. "Mrs. Tucker sent a bottle to Bettie
to be used in case her fever should return. She sent a tonic, too, but
neither bottle has been opened. If you think it's safe----"

"Good for Mrs. Tucker! Give that boy a dose of the fever medicine--he
certainly needs that. Now for Dave--I'd like to get him started for
Lakeville at once."

Dave, however, was not to be found. His ways were strange and
mysterious; he had an inconvenient habit of disappearing without
warning for hours at a stretch. No one would see him go. He would set
out, ostensibly for his wigwam; but if Mr. Black followed him to that
habitation, as he sometimes did, no sign would he find of Dave. This
time, the canoe was gone, also, and, of course, Dave's dog.

"He hasn't shown up," said Mr. Black, returning from the wigwam. "I
suppose he rose at daybreak and took to the lake; for his canoe isn't
in the river. And here I am _paying_ him to bring water and wood for us
and help with the boats."

"Paying him!" gasped Mrs. Crane, "when he lived on your land for four
years without paying rent? _Peter!_"

"Well," returned Mr. Black, "it's only a dollar a day. Perhaps that
isn't enough--I'll raise his wages!"

"But that poor boy----"

"We'll just have to wait until Dave gets back, I suppose. But you can
dose the boy with Bettie's fever medicine--not the tonic--and perhaps
we can pull him through."

"Anyway, we'll try," assured Mrs. Crane.



CHAPTER XIV

A Missing Messenger


IT was Thursday when Mabel discovered the boy. Friday morning Dave was
still missing and the lad was still unconscious.

"He must have been a pretty tough little chap to start with," declared
Mrs. Crane, when all the members of her always-hungry family had been
bountifully served with steaming breakfast food, "or he never would
have lasted as long as this with such a fever. I wish Dave was here.
He ought to have a doctor; and, if the boy's people live in Lakeville,
they'll surely want to know that he's alive."

"We've been talking about that," said Jean, "and we don't think he _is_
a Lakeville boy."

"You see," explained Marjory, "he must be about twelve or thirteen
years old--somewhere between Mabel's age and Henrietta's. If he'd been
in school one or another of us would have seen him--we're scattered
all over, you know."

"And I," said Henrietta, "am scattered about in _all_ the grades,
because I'm so smart and so stupid in spots."

"But perhaps," suggested Mr. Black, "this illness has altered his
appearance."

"It couldn't change his hair," asserted Mabel. "It's a very queer
color."

"Yes," agreed Mrs. Crane, "it's a most unusual shade--very bright and
glistening like ruddy gold. There's a tinge of copper to it and yet
it's golden. If only Dave were here----"

"I could walk to Lakeville myself," began Mr. Black, reflectively,
"but----"

"But you're not going to," protested his sister. "We can't stay here
without a man. Besides, if anything happened to you on the way down,
where should _we_ be?"

"At Pete's Patch, I suspect," twinkled Mr. Black. "Suppose you give
that boy some hot sponge baths--that may help a little."

"But, goodness!" objected Mabel, "he must be perfectly soaked with
water--his clothes were drenched."

"Still," said Mr. Black, "baths are beneficial to fever patients."

"I've been putting mild mustard plasters on his chest," confessed
anxious Mrs. Crane. "I didn't like his breathing--it sounded too much
like pneumonia yesterday; but it's a bit better to-day. And I'll try
those baths."

"I haven't much faith in your mustard plasters," asserted Mr. Black,
teasingly. "You're too tender-hearted to make one strong enough to do
any good."

"I'm not," retorted Mrs. Crane; "but there's no sense in blistering
folks."

"I'm glad there's a really sick person in this camp," said Bettie,
"because now, perhaps, I can persuade you to believe that I'm most
as well as ever. I had two long walks yesterday and I feel just fine
to-day."

"Did you sleep well?" queried Mrs. Crane, anxiously. "I declare, with
all this excitement, I forgot to ask you."

"Only five minutes," said Bettie, in a sorrowful tone. "I shut my eyes
at eight o'clock last night and when I opened them it was only five
minutes after eight."

"Last night?" pursued Mrs. Crane, anxiously.

"No, this morning," replied Bettie, demurely, "but the clock _said_
five minutes, and it didn't _seem_ like any more than that."

Among the many things that Mrs. Crane had ordered from town was a
truly alarming alarm clock. Although it went off faithfully and with
astonishing vigor at seven every morning, no one ever heard it after
the first day except Mrs. Crane. The campers, never very early risers,
grew lazier every day--and fatter! Mabel, always exceedingly plump,
was now so rotund that Mrs. Crane was obliged to tie loops of twine
in all her buttonholes. Bettie's cheeks and the calves of her legs
were certainly rounding into new and pleasing curves. Tall Jean was
casting a wider shadow, shapely Henrietta had punched two new holes in
her tight leather belt; and it was now possible to pinch the hitherto
unpinchable Marjory. Their complexions, too, had undergone curious
changes. Mabel had gained a generous sprinkling of very fine, very dark
freckles. Marjory's blue-white skin was dotted with a limited number of
very large, pale tan-colored freckles. Henrietta was tinged a rich even
brown, except where a fine red glowed in her dark cheeks. Most of the
time Jean was a brilliant scarlet; for her tender skin burned easily
and her nose, as Bettie said, was disreputably ragged, for it peeled
every day or two. So did the edges of her ears. As for Bettie, her
yellowish pallor was gone and a fine, rose-colored flush now tinged her
lips and her cheeks. Her big, dark eyes were brighter and merrier than
the girls had ever seen them.

"Another ten days in camp," asserted Mr. Black, pinching Bettie's
firm cheek, "and you'll all be wearing Mrs. Crane's clothes. Your own
mothers won't know you by the time we're ready to go home."

"They won't want to," laughed Marjory, "if we all gain as Mabel has.
Look at her back!"

It was really a shockingly untidy back, because bits of Mabel and
Mabel's underwear stuck out between the loops.

"She drinks so much water," complained Henrietta, "that my arm just
aches from filling her cup."

"Put the pail beside her," suggested Mr. Black. "Water's the one thing
that can't give out."

"That reminds me," said Mrs. Crane, "we'll need a lot of things by the
time Dave goes to town again. My list is growing bigger every minute."

"Like Mabel," breathed Marjory, teasingly.

"Well," sighed Mabel--and the sigh burst two of her loops--"I shall ask
for a very wide sailor-jumper to pull on over my head. The knots in
those loops are pretty bumpy. If I were to sneeze, they'd _all_ go, I
guess."

Mrs. Crane, of course, appropriated most of the care of the newest
castaway. But the willing girls helped in many ways.

"They are my feet," said slow-moving, stiff-jointed Mrs. Crane. "They
bring me everything I need and save me hundreds of steps every day.
They're all as good as gold, Peter."

"They're _better_," declared Mr. Black. "I wish they all belonged to
_me_--anyway, we'll enjoy 'em while we can."

Sometimes one or another of the girls was permitted to sit beside the
sleeping boy for half an hour, while Mrs. Crane busied herself with
the camp cooking--no one else, the good lady was certain, could plan
the meals; but nursing proved rather an uninteresting task, because
there was really nothing that one could do. The girls found cooking
rather more to their taste and were able to relieve Mrs. Crane of many
of her culinary burdens. Jean, however, was the only one who could fry
the fine brook trout that Mr. Black sometimes caught in the attractive
river.

"They're all right after they're cooked," shuddered Marjory, that
afternoon, when Mr. Black brought in a pretty string of fish, cleaned
and ready to fry, "but I _couldn't_ touch a raw one--ugh!"

"Neither could I," said Henrietta, "but Anthony Fitz-Hubert could--see,
he's just crazy for one this minute."

"Here's one with his name on it," said Mr. Black, presenting the little
cat with a small specimen. "That one is under-sized, so it wouldn't
do for _us_ to be caught with it; but they couldn't arrest or fine
Anthony, because he's too active and too poor. How would you girls like
to try fishing?"

"We'd like it," responded Henrietta. "Once, when I was very small,
I went fishing in Scotland, in a little rushing river; and once, in
France, a little peasant boy let me hold his rod for a few minutes."

"Well," promised Mr. Black, "some day I'll take you all fishing. After
you've caught a trout or two you won't mind handling them. But just now
I can't afford to be reckless with the bait--we'll get a bigger supply
next time."

"I've heard it said," laughed Mrs. Crane, "that there's a stingy streak
in everybody, if you know just where to look for it; we've found yours,
Peter; it's fish-worms."

"Well, they're mighty scarce in this part of the country. I dug for
nearly an hour along the river bank and found only one. I'll send word
to Martin, next time, and have him dig a pailful in our garden."

"He'll dig up everything else, too," sighed Mrs. Crane, "but never
mind. But that reminds me of Dave. Marjory, I wish you and Henrietta
would see if that rascal has slipped in by some back way to his wigwam.
I declare I never thought that I'd _want_ to set eyes on that homely
half-breed, but I'd give a dollar, this very minute, to see him."

Mrs. Crane, however, was not called on to part with her dollar. The
messengers returned without Dave.

"Not a single sign of him," said Henrietta, "and we called until all
the little squirrels sat up and scolded us for making such a noise."

"He's out for venison, I fear," said Mr. Black, who was counting his
seven precious fish-worms. "He has no regard whatever for the game
laws. I shall give him a good talking to when he returns."

"You'd better wait," suggested Mrs. Crane, "until after he's been to
Lakeville."

"You'd better wait," laughed saucy Henrietta, "until you see him."

"Anyway," said Mr. Black, "we must all remember to stand between Dave
and the game warden, if that officer ever visits Pete's Patch."

"No really respectable game warden," laughed Henrietta, "would ever
visit a camp with a name like that."

"That's a nice name," championed Mabel. "It's plain and sensible like
Mr. Black. I _like_ things that are plain and sort of--homely."

At this, everybody (including Mr. Black, who might easily have been
much homelier than he was) laughed merrily; for Mabel, cheerful little
blunderer, usually managed to give a queer twist to her compliments.

"Anyhow," said Mabel, rather huffily, "I _meant_ to be polite."

"You _were_," assured Mr. Black, patting the hunched shoulder, "because
it's our meaning that counts; and we all know that you meant well."

"I wonder," queried Jean, "if Dave does?"

"I fear," returned Mr. Black, "that the workings of that rascal's mind
would be pretty hard to follow--let's see if his boat is in sight."

But it wasn't, so Mr. Black got the wood and the water that he was
paying Dave to bring and arranged the evening bonfire.

And the sick boy, in spite of the young campers' impatience to learn
his story, still slept. Mrs. Crane, by this time, was almost sure that
he would never waken.



CHAPTER XV

Doctor Dave


AT daybreak the next morning the barking of a dog wakened the sleeping
camp. Mr. Black pulled on his clothes and went sleepily down to the
water's edge, where Onota, Dave's yellow dog, was running madly about,
uttering excited yelps.

"Heem glad for got home," explained Dave, who had beached his canoe and
was gathering up its contents.

"What have you got?" asked Mr. Black.

Dave displayed a small doe, not yet skinned.

"Dose bigges' one--som' beeg buck, Ah'm t'ink--she ees bus' up ma
trap," Dave complained, "so Ah'm snare dose li'le doe. He ees good
meat, all right."

"Dave, you scalawag, you ought to be in jail. I'll wager there isn't a
game law that you haven't broken."

"He ees mos' all for you," assured Dave, ingratiatingly. "You got fine
dinner off heem ver' soon--I skeen heem for you, bam-bye. She's good
meat, dose young-lady deer."

"I _ought_ to tell the game warden on you. Don't you _know_ that you're
breaking game laws?"

"Ah'm t'ink maybe Ah'm crack dose law som'," admitted Dave; "but me, Ah
mus' eat li'le deer meat som' tam', halso dose par_tridge_, maybe som'
duck, too."

"Well," warned Mr. Black, helplessly, "don't expect me to help you
out if you get caught. And now, Dave, I wish you'd stay right here
for awhile; I've got a job for you. I want you to go to Lakeville
to-day--we've a sick boy up there and we need a doctor."

"Seeck boy?" queried Dave. "W'ere you got her from? W'at she ees seeck
on herself wit'?"

Mr. Black explained.

"Dat's all right," Dave said. "Bad cold on her long (lung). Ah cook you
som't'ing w'at feex her pooty good."

"No, no," protested Mr. Black, "we want a doctor and a lot of other
things. You _must_ go to Lakeville. I'll--yes, I'll give you two
dollars."

"Maybe Ah go behind dinner," promised Dave, uncertainly. "Ah mus'
sleep, me, for two-t'ree hour--Ah'm chase dose deer hall night. Tell
dose Jean, dose Bet_tee_, dose Mabelle, and dose Henriette, eef he ees
com' roun' pooty soon, Ah show heem how to skeen dose deer."

Notwithstanding the fact that his medical services had been declined,
Dave began almost at once to search for herbs, dig for roots, and
gather certain pungent leaves and twigs. These he covered carefully
with water and placed over a slow fire in a most repulsive saucepan.
By half-past eight o'clock, by which time the castaways were eating
breakfast, Dave had obtained about half a pint of a queer-smelling,
most unattractive-looking, greenish-black fluid. He carried this
strange brew carefully to the clearing, peered cautiously into Mrs.
Crane's unguarded tent, entered noiselessly, and dropped the flap.
Then, kneeling beside the helpless lad, the half-breed raised him
gently and poured the contents of his blackened tin cup, a little at a
time, down the boy's throat. This accomplished successfully, Dave, much
pleased with himself, emerged just in time to meet startled Mrs. Crane,
returning to look at her charge.

"Dave," she shrieked, noting the empty, not over-clean cup, "what
_have_ you done?"

"Das all right, Mees Crane," assured Dave. "Dose boy, she swallow good.
Ev'rybody wait fi--seex hour. Dose boy sweat lak' horse bam-bye--wake
up weak like babee--open hees eye. Maybe she's dead then, maybe she's
get well. You geeve her queek som' brot'--bouillon--w'at you call
heem--soup, hey?--behin' dos beeg sweat. For mak' her strong, dose
seeck boy."

"Dave," moaned Mrs. Crane, who had seized the cup and was smelling it,
"you've surely killed that poor child!"

"Nong, nong," protested Dave. "Dose ees ver' goo' medicine--Ah'm got
her off ma gran'modder."

"Well," growled Mr. Black, finding it difficult to be stern, with five
amused little girls giggling at his back. "If you get any more medicine
off your grandmother I'll throw you into the lake."

"Hee ees been dead long tam'--dose gran'modder."

"Took her own medicine, I suppose," said Mr. Black. "Was she French or
Indian?"

"Ojibway; som' squaw--som' Injun lady; ma fadaire, he French, from
Canadaw--speak no Englise. Ma modder Injun, sam' lak ma gran'modder; he
mak' dose medicine, too. Bot' dead, dose fadaire, dose modder."

"No wonder," breathed Henrietta.

"Mees Bet_tee_," said Dave, turning to go, "you breeng dose odder
girl--Ah show you how to skeen som' deer. Maybe Ah'm geeve you dose
tail. Dose liver--vaire fine meat, dose liver--ees for Jean."

At this the girls found it hard not to laugh outright, because, as
they very well knew, Jean heartily disliked liver of any kind. But
gentle-mannered Jean, who was always careful not to hurt any other
person's feelings, managed to say, prettily:

"Thank you, Dave; you're very good to me."

"You pooty nice girl," returned Dave. "Ah mak' som' med'cine for dose
sunburn hon your face."

"Thank you," faltered Jean, "but I--but I _like_ to be sunburned. I'll
be such a fine color after I've lost _all_ my skin."

"Dear me," groaned Mrs. Crane, when the girls had trooped away at
Dave's heels, "I was almost sure, this morning, that that boy was
better. I put my hand on his forehead very early--when Dave's dog
barked, and it felt cool and even a little damp--as if the fever had
left him for just a moment or two. And now Dave has probably finished
him. That boy must have had a fine constitution to start with or that
fever would have ended him yesterday. That horrible medicine on top of
everything else he's gone through----"

"Well," returned Mr. Black, "we won't gain anything by worrying
about it. We'll get Dave started after a real doctor as soon as
possible--I'll write a note to Doctor Bennett, so he can bring the
proper medicines with him. Make out your list and put the girls at
theirs as soon as they return--I'll go after them presently. That
rascal said he'd start 'behind dinner.'"

It was considerably "behind" the noon meal when Dave was ready to
begin his long walk; but at last, with a little food tied in a soiled
red handkerchief that dangled from a stick resting on his shoulder,
he departed. Although Dave never looked particularly clean, although
he was not especially handsome, there were moments when, because of
his picturesqueness, he decidedly pleased the eye. Now, with the
touch of dangling scarlet at his back, all the rest of him except his
rather long black hair an even, woodsy brown, Dave and the landscape,
harmoniously combined, made a truly attractive picture. But not for
long. The leaves at the edge of the grassy clearing closed suddenly
behind him; the castaways could not discover his trail; but Dave must
have guessed that they were trying to find it, for his laugh, always
an unexpectedly musical sound, floated back to the searchers.

"I hope," said Jean, "that he won't be gone as long _this_ time. Mrs.
Crane is almost as worried about this boy as she was about Rosa Marie
with the measles--perhaps more, because she had the doctor to help her
then."

"Dave helped her this time," said Marjory.

"_I_ hope he'll hurry, too," returned Henrietta. "It seems a _year_
since I ate the last crumb of candy out of my box."

"And we can't make any," mourned Marjory, "because the sugar's all but
gone."

"There's only a little butter," added Bettie, "and less than half a
loaf of rye bread; but luckily we've plenty of flour and cornmeal.
Biscuits and johnny-cake help a lot."

"It's a good thing," said Mabel, "that Mrs. Crane thought of sending
for that old tin oven. I'd hate to be obliged to go hungry with the
kind of appetite I've got _now_. I believe I could eat raw potatoes
this minute."

"You won't have to," assured Jean. "There's plenty of oatmeal and rice
and a lot of things in packages. Oh, yes, and _beans_--a great big bag
of dried ones."

"Wouldn't it be nice," suggested Bettie, "to surprise Mr. Black and
Mrs. Crane with baked beans for supper!"

"But they'd see us cooking them," objected Jean.

"We could build a stone oven, the way Dave showed us, on the beach,"
said practical Bettie. "Of course, if we used the tin one here in the
clearing, they'd see what we were doing. Marjory, you're so small they
won't notice you, so you slip into the provision tent and get the
beans. How many? Why--I don't know."

"Seven hundred," said Henrietta, promptly. "A hundred apiece--Anthony
prefers fish-tails."

"I guess," protested Marjory, "I'm not going to _count_ those
beans--they come in _pounds_, not dozens."

"They swell a lot," said Bettie. "I think that about four cupfuls would
be enough--bring them down in one of those round pudding pans--we'll
bake 'em in that."

"It seems to me," said Jean, when Marjory had successfully captured the
beans, "that we ought to wash them. But we haven't any colander--one of
those things with holes in it."

"Never mind," said Henrietta, "we'll use the lake--it's big enough,
anyway. I'll wade in with the beans----"

"I guess not," retorted Mabel. "Your feet and beans all in together!"

"That's so," agreed Henrietta. "Well, we'll dig out a basin in the hard
clean sand and wash them in that."

The basin grew larger than the girls meant to make it, and the slippery
white beans, turned loose in this little pond, proved remarkably
elusive. But finally the last one was captured and placed in a pan of
water with a pinch of salt; the pan was placed in the oven that the
girls had built, and a fire was started under it.

"They'll be surprised, won't they?" giggled the happy conspirators, far
from suspecting that they themselves were to be the surprised persons;
for this was their first experience with cooking dried beans, and of
course, since they couldn't consult Mrs. Crane without betraying the
secret, there was no one to ask for very necessary instructions.



CHAPTER XVI

A Valuable Insect


MRS. CRANE remained very near her sleeping charge all that day. She
didn't see, she said, how anybody _could_ survive the dreadful dose
that Dave had poured down the unconscious lad's throat.

At four that afternoon one of Dave's predictions came true. Great
beads of perspiration broke out on the boy's forehead; and soon the
voluminous nightgown in which Mrs. Crane had arrayed the patient was
wet through, for he was indeed "sweating like a horse."

Remembering Dave's advice concerning broth, yet decidedly fearful of
following advice from so doubtful a source, the anxious nurse searched
her cupboard for the little jar of beef extract that had been ordered
for Bettie (by this time Bettie was clamoring for--and getting--more
substantial food) and made a small bowlful of strong _bouillon_. But
first, careful Mrs. Crane wrapped her patient in a warm blanket.

When she returned with the broth, intending to force it by spoonfuls
into the lad's mouth, she realised that a great change had taken place
in her patient. The fever flush was gone from his cheeks, leaving him
pale and clammy; but now, for the first time since his arrival in
Pete's Patch his eyes were open. They were big and very, very blue.

"Well," greeted Mrs. Crane, "this is something like! Awake, are you?
Don't be frightened, poor lamb--you're as safe here as if you were in
your own bed. Open your mouth, there's a good boy. It's some time since
you've had a Christian meal."

After the first few spoonfuls, the boy's eyes closed wearily; but he
still opened his mouth obediently, just like a young robin, his pleased
nurse said afterwards.

"That's all," announced Mrs. Crane, giving him the last spoonful. "Now
go to sleep if you want to."

Apparently he did want to, for that is what he did. Mrs. Crane stole
softly from the tent.

"Girls," said she, to the little group in the shade of the biggest
tree, "I want you to be very quiet whenever you come near the
tents--tell the others when they come back. I believe that boy has
taken a change for the better--he's lost his fever and he's sleeping
like a baby."

"Was it Dave's awful medicine?" queried Bettie.

"I don't know," returned Mrs. Crane. "Your bottle probably helped. I
don't suppose we'll _ever_ know just what effect Dave's potion had; but
_something_ has certainly brought about a change in that poor child.
Anyway, remember not to make a noise near my tent."

"My!" giggled Marjory, when Mrs. Crane had returned to her charge, "she
never even _looked_ toward the beach. I was _so_ afraid she'd notice
the smoke from that fire and ask what Jean and Mabel were doing."

"So was I," said Henrietta, who was endeavoring to weave a basket from
some long, fragrant grass that she had discovered in a marsh near the
river, "but she doesn't think of anything but that boy."

"What's Mr. Black doing all this time?" asked Bettie, who was lying at
full length on the ground with her head in Marjory's lap.

"Fishing with his two and a half worms," replied Henrietta.

"There he comes now," said Marjory, "but what in the world ails him?"

No wonder she asked, for stout Mr. Black, hatless and coatless, his
thick, iron-gray hair standing upright, his oft-mended suspenders
broken once more and dangling from his waist, was dashing madly about
the further end of the clearing. Now with arms aloft, now with fingers
gripping the sod, this usually sedate and dignified gentleman was
behaving in a most remarkable manner.

"Goodness!" gasped Henrietta. "He must be doing an Indian war-dance!"

"He's pounding the ground with his hat," said Marjory.

"Now he's trying to fly--mercy! He's tripped right over a stump!"
exclaimed Henrietta. "Let's go and see what he's doing."

Just then Jean and Mabel clambered up the bank from the beach. On
seeing the others fleeing hurriedly in Mr. Black's direction, they,
too, scurried after.

"He got away," panted Mr. Black, ruefully, as he picked himself up from
the grass plot.

"What?" inquired Marjory, "a squirrel? a rabbit? a beaver?"

"No," returned Mr. Black, rather sheepishly, wiping his perspiring
brow, "a grasshopper. But I must have that beast. Girls, I'll give you
a dollar apiece for every grasshopper you can catch within the next
ten minutes. You see, I accidentally caught one--the thing was down my
neck--put it on my hook, and in two seconds it was snatched off by the
biggest trout I've seen in six years! Yes, siree! He was a yard long!
I'd pay _two_ dollars for another grasshopper this minute; for _I_
can't catch the pesky things."

"Easy money," laughed Henrietta. "Come on, girls. Let's see who'll get
the two dollars."

In another moment all five were hurling themselves recklessly about
the sunny clearing, wherever a grasshopper jumped. To an unenlightened
observer, it must have seemed as if they, too, were doing an Indian
war-dance; certainly they alarmed the grasshoppers.

"Oh," gasped Bettie, after five minutes of this strenuous exercise, "I
can't try any longer--my poor old legs are all gone."

So tired Bettie nestled comfortably against Mr. Black, who, with his
broad back against a stump, was resting as peacefully as the thought of
that big, uncaught trout would permit. But the other four still chased
grasshoppers.

Suddenly, a big, bewildered insect hopped right into Bettie's lap; and,
in a moment, Bettie's quick, slender fingers had closed over as fine a
grasshopper as fisherman would wish to see.

"I've got him--I've got him!" she shrieked. "He's right in my hand."

Mr. Black placed the captive in his pocket match-safe. Then gravely
extracting a two-dollar bill from his trousers pocket, he dropped it
in Bettie's lap.

"Oh, _no_," breathed Bettie. "Not when you're so good to me--I'd catch
a million grasshoppers for you for nothing, if I only could."

"If you don't keep it," declared Mr. Black, closing her fingers over
the bill, "I'll let that precious insect fly away."

"Well," sighed Bettie, stuffing the money down her neck, "I'll sit here
with my mouth open and let grasshoppers fly in until I catch a _truly_
two dollars' worth."

"Well," laughed Mr. Black, rising with difficulty, "bring all you catch
down that left-hand trail to the second bend in the river--that's where
I saw that whale."

But there was no need of a second grasshopper; for before another was
captured, Mr. Black, beaming with pleasure, rushed to the clearing to
display his trout. Although the big fish lacked almost two feet of
being a yard long, he was a fine specimen.

"And Bettie's grasshopper," said Mr. Black, readjusting it on
his hook, "is still as good as new, so I'm going back for another
fish--with one more, plus the three I caught this morning, we'll have
enough for supper."

"My goodness!" gasped Jean. "Our surprise--nobody's watching the fire!"

With one accord, the five cooks rushed to the beach.

"The fire's out," said Jean. "We'll have to build it again."

When all the rest of the supper was on the table, including Mr. Black's
satisfactory catch of trout, nicely fried by Jean, Marjory slipped
quietly away to extract the surprise from the oven. She was not
entirely satisfied with its appearance; but, at any rate, the dish was
good and hot. She succeeded in getting it safely up the sand bank and
into the octagonal tent, where she placed it triumphantly beside the
trout.

"Why!" exclaimed Mrs. Crane, whose patient was still sleeping, "what
have we here?"

"A surprise," beamed Mabel.

"Boston baked beans," explained Bettie.

"Now, that," said Mr. Black, "is a real treat. There's nothing better
than beans for camp fare."

But when the beans were served they rattled, as they touched the
plates, like rain on a tin roof. Instead of being smooth and nicely
filled out, each bean was shriveled and as hard as a pebble.

"Dear me," mourned Bettie, who had taken the first mouthful, "those are
dreadful beans--I can't bite them."

"But," said puzzled Jean, "they cooked for hours."

"Did you soak them first?" asked Mrs. Crane.

"No," replied Jean.

"Didn't you boil them?"

"No, we didn't do that, either. Just baked 'em."

"Dear, dear," laughed Mrs. Crane. "No wonder they're hard. You should
have soaked them all night, boiled them for an hour, and _then_ baked
them. And I think, my dears, that you forgot the pork, the molasses,
and the salt--beans need a great deal of salt. But it was nice and
thoughtful of you good little girls to go to all that trouble."

"We wanted it to be a lovely surprise," mourned Mabel.

"Well," teased Mr. Black, "it's certainly more of a surprise than you
meant it to be, therefore more of a success, because we are _all_
surprised."

"Cheer up," said Mrs. Crane, touched by the downcast countenances of
the disappointed cooks. "We'll feed the surprise to the squirrels.
After supper--you see there's plenty this time _without_ the
surprise--we'll put some more beans to soak; and to-morrow we'll cook
them the other way. Anyway, I'm very glad you thought of cooking those
beans--I'd forgotten that we had them."

At this the seven gloomy faces brightened. And the beans were not
wasted; for the kind squirrels carried away every one.



CHAPTER XVII

The Game Warden's Visit


THE boy was really better; but very, very weak. Every time he opened
an eye, that next day, solicitous Mrs. Crane was ready with a bowl of
broth. Once he did not fall asleep immediately but followed her with
big, questioning blue eyes as she moved about the tent. He remained
awake for twenty minutes that time and even moved his hands slightly.

"You've been real sick," explained Mrs. Crane, sociably, her soft dark
eyes very kind and encouraging. "You're pretty weak yet, but you're
twice the boy you were yesterday. Could you eat more broth?"

For an instant something that looked like a genuine smile flickered
across the boy's lips; and his eyes, Mrs. Crane said afterwards, almost
twinkled. Then, in a very thin, weak voice, he said: "Please."

After that he again fell into a long, deep sleep. But now his prolonged
slumbers were no longer terrifying, for his breathing was natural, his
fever entirely gone.

"_Can't_ we see him next time his eyes are open?" pleaded Mabel,
waylaying Mrs. Crane in the provision tent, "and _couldn't_ I be the
first one? I found him, you know, so he's really mostly mine."

"Ye--es," replied Mrs. Crane, pondering this matter. "I guess it's only
fair that you should be the first. If you'll stay where you can see the
door of my tent, I'll wave a towel when the time comes. But it won't be
right away, for he's just gone to sleep again."

"That boat ought to get here to-day," said Mr. Black, who had been
expectantly gazing from time to time at the lake, "but I suppose that
rascal Dave stopped all along the way to set traps."

Mr. Black was quite right. Dave _had_ stopped to set traps. But first
of all, with characteristic stealth, the conscienceless half-breed
had begun his journey with a comfortable nap. For almost two hours,
within five minutes' walk of Pete's Patch, Dave had slumbered, with
no thought of anything but his own comfort. After that, he attended
leisurely to the numerous traps along his almost invisible trail.
Fortunately--or he might _never_ have reached his destination, he found
only a solitary muskrat. The big rat was still living. Dave eyed him
reflectively.

"Goo'-by, li'le son," said Dave, liberating the bright-eyed prisoner.
"You ees more bodder dan you ees wort', to-day. An' w'at for Ah'm eat
moskrat! Me, Ah'm go for eat dose bifsteak, dose pork shop, dose baked
bean hon top of Lakeveele. Go home, you son of a moskrat--Ah catch you
som' more nex' veek."

The limping rat splashed into the river, and Dave, after one
half-regretful glance at the eddying water, at last started briskly
along the trail that led to Lakeville.

He spent the night with his cousin on the outskirts of the town, who
refreshed him so generously that faithless Dave didn't know, next
morning, whether he was headed toward Lakeville or toward camp. So
he slept all that day and the next; while his good friend Mabel, at
Pete's Patch, made brave efforts to save him from threatened disaster.

Mabel and all the other girls knew that Dave had every reason to fear
the game warden. The youthful castaways, who were not very clear as
to the duties of game wardens in general, considered them the natural
enemies of all hunters and fishermen. Dave had once shown the girls
a battered, yellowed newspaper containing a full-length picture of
a brawny, khaki-clad game warden arresting a lawless sportsman. The
half-breed had said, half laughingly, half seriously:

"Eef you ees see dose man som' tam', Mees Mabelle, Mees Bet_tee_, don't
you go for tole her som't'ing about Dave Gurneau, or maybe, me, Ah'm
got maself lock up for sure. Or maybe Ah'm go for pay feefty dollar
fine."

The idea of a fifty-dollar fine had probably tickled Dave, who, at that
poverty-stricken moment would have found it impossible to pay even
fifty cents.

But the girls had been deeply impressed. They saw clearly that a visit
from the game warden would result disastrously to Dave, whom the
youngsters liked, in spite of his many irregularities; for the ignorant
half-breed was always good to them in his own peculiar way. And then,
too, Mr. Black had said that Dave was to be protected from all chance
visitors.

Very soon after the arrival of the nails, Mr. Black had built a
rain-proof shed to shelter the disabled "Whale." As it was possible to
reach this spot without tumbling into either the lake or the river,
Mabel often strolled that way to look for berries, flowers, mushrooms,
or mosses--she was apt to return with specimens of all four jumbled
untidily together in the skirt of her dress.

This fine morning, Mrs. Crane having suggested that a few mushrooms
would add flavor and bulk to the noon meal, Mabel and Henrietta, with
the praiseworthy intention of gathering a bushel or two, walked along
the swampy, woodsy road that led to Lakeville.

It was not often that Mabel and Henrietta paired off together, for
Henrietta was the oldest, Mabel the youngest of the five girls. But
in some ways pretty, black-eyed Henrietta was more thoughtless, less
responsible than Jean, Marjory, or Bettie. After the death of her
young mother, various relatives, including an inexperienced father and
a too-indulgent grandmother, had done their best to spoil attractive
Henrietta. They hadn't exactly succeeded; but the unrestrained little
girl, naturally impulsive, naturally a bit daring, and always very
high-spirited, was apt to act first and do her thinking afterwards. As
for Mabel--why, Mabel simply _plunged_ into trouble. Still, it seemed
safe enough to send this pair forth for mushrooms; so, with a basket
between them, a smiling sky overhead, they set forth merrily.

"It's funny about mushrooms," observed Mabel. "You can gather all there
are and the next day you find just as many more. But when you pick
berries that's the last of them for a whole year."

"I wish," returned Henrietta, "it were just the other way."

"So do I," agreed Mabel, her mouth full of big, red wintergreen berries.

"It never is," sighed Henrietta, sentimentally. "Every time there's a
storm, the sea brings in millions of cobblestones and only one agate. I
_love_ to hunt for agates."

"If they came in like cobblestones," said practical Mabel, "you
wouldn't have the fun of hunting---- Why! There's something coming down
the road. See! That way--toward Lakeville."

"A man on horseback!" exclaimed Henrietta. "Let's hide----"

"What for?" demanded Mabel, bravely.

"His clothes!" breathed Henrietta, in an agonized whisper, as she
dragged Mabel backward. "Can't you _see_? It's the game warden--I know
him by his leggings. Just like that picture. Hurry, Mabel--he's after
Dave!"

"Oh! do you _think_ so?" gasped Mabel, paralyzed with horror. "And
all that venison hanging near Dave's wigwam! And all those partridge
feathers on Mr. Black's land! They might arrest him, too! And us! Oh,
Henrietta! What'll we do?"

"Run," urged Henrietta, tugging at Mabel's dress.

"But--but I can't!" gasped Mabel, helplessly. "And, anyway, it's too
late--he's looking right this way. But, oh! We mustn't let him go
anywhere near Pete's Patch."

"Sh!" breathed Henrietta, warningly; but with a quick, decisive nod
that seemed vaguely reassuring. "Stop looking scared."

The rider, having cautiously and more or less successfully skirted
a bad bit of swamp, caught sight of the girls and checked his
travel-stained horse.

"Is this the way," he asked, politely, "to Barclay's Point?"

Henrietta's forefinger promptly pointed toward the north--directly
toward the concealed Point.

"Just keep going," she advised. "It's quite a long way, but you're
headed right for Barclay's."

"Yes," assisted Mabel, after a closer scrutiny of the telltale
leggings, "you just keep going."

"I'm looking," explained the man, "for Mr. Black. He's at Barclay's
Point, isn't he?"

"Sometimes," replied Henrietta, truthfully.

"How's the fishing up there?"

"I haven't fished," returned Henrietta, shortly. The game warden, it
was plain, would get no incriminating information from Henrietta.

"This road, you say, leads to the Point?"

"Ye--es," faltered Mabel; "yes, if----"

"Never mind the 'if,'" hissed Henrietta, into Mabel's surprised ear.
"Yes," she added aloud, and very convincingly, "it _does_ lead to the
Point. But you'd better hurry, or Mr. Black may be starting out for
some other place."

"I'd hate to miss him," said the man, touching his hat. "Thank you,
young ladies. I'll go at once--perhaps I'll see you later."

Mabel and Henrietta eyed each other in discreet silence until the sound
of hoofbeats had gradually died away.

"We've been bad," breathed Mabel.

"It was necessary," sighed Henrietta. "Goodness knows, I'd _rather_ be
good. And that road _does_ lead to Barclay's Point."

"Yes--if you're smart enough to find the turn off."

"That's why I told him to hurry--if he rides fast, he'll _never_ see
it."

"Nobody would," agreed Mabel. "Where does this road go, anyway?"

"Seventeen miles to an old lumber camp--Dave told me. There's another
camp, not so far, but it has a 'blind turn-off'--you'd _never_ find it
if you didn't know just exactly where to look. Even then you'd _think_
you were wrong. I guess it'll take him all day to find Pete's Patch.
Anyhow, I hope so."

"Shall we tell the others?"

"N--no," decided Henrietta, contemplatively. "By the time he's reached
the end of that swampy road without coming to anything he'll be too
tired and discouraged to _want_ to arrest anybody. He'll just make
tracks for home. But when Dave comes we'll tell him to hide his
venison."

"And," said Mabel, not knowing the depths of Dave's depravity, "he'll
surely be here soon--he'll hurry right back with my father."

"Why, that's so," laughed Henrietta. "Your father _is_ coming. Well,
he won't know you--he'll think you're some relative of Dave's, and
prescribe soap. But let's get those mushrooms. If that man comes back
he mustn't find us here--he _might_ ask questions we couldn't answer.
And I think we'd better roll a log across the turn-off to Pete's Patch
and throw a little old brush against it so it won't show."



CHAPTER XVIII

The Boy's Name


AN hour later, with a splendid lot of glistening mushrooms, Mabel and
Henrietta returned to camp. As they neared the clearing, Mrs. Crane
could be seen in the doorway of her tent, frantically waving a large
towel.

"Oh," cried Mabel, quickening her pace, "the boy's awake! She wants
_me_--I'm to be first--I'm to be----"

"If you plunge in that way," admonished Henrietta, running lightly
beside Mabel, "you'll scare him to death. Do stop long enough to wash
your face--he'll think you're a murderous young squaw coming with
another dose of Dave's medicine."

Five minutes later, when Mabel, very red and very shining from a hasty
application of laundry soap and cold water, looked in at the tent door,
a pair of big, bright blue eyes smiled at her from the low, balsam bed.

"Hello!" said the boy, "are you the kid they call Mabel? They tell me
you picked me up on the beach, along with some driftwood, when I was
drowned."

"Yes," admitted Mabel, bashfully. "And I guess you _were_ drowned,
too--almost. I'm glad you've come to, at last. When are you going to
get up?"

"I tried to just now, but my head's made of lead--it won't come up."

"I guess your neck's weak--Bettie's was. What's your name?"

The laughter and the light suddenly faded from the boy's eyes.

"I don't know," said the boy, blankly. "I--it's queer, isn't it? That
lady with the broth asked me once before, I think----"

"I asked you yesterday," corroborated Mrs. Crane. "But don't worry, my
dear. You've been very ill and your mind is as weak as your body, no
doubt. They'll both be stronger in a few days. All you need to remember
is that we are your friends."

"And your real name doesn't matter, anyway," added Mabel, noting the
troubled expression that still clouded the boy's countenance. "I'm
going to call you Billy Blue-eyes--I used to know a goat----"

The boy's expressive face suddenly brightened, the blue eyes actually
twinkled with fun.

"The very thing," cried Mrs. Crane. "We'll call him Billy Blue-eyes. I
told him this morning that, when he came out of the lake, he must have
brought some of the color with him. His eyes are certainly blue. Shall
we call you Billy?"

"Sounds all right to me," agreed the boy; "but--but I _hope_ I wasn't
that goat."

"You weren't," assured Mabel, earnestly. "_I_ liked him, but he butted
so many people that Grandma Pike--he belonged to her--had to have him
chloroformed and stuffed. The stuffed-animal man wanted him. They
didn't have any real glass goat eyes to put in him so they used blue
glass marbles. But how did you get in the lake--or out of it, Mr.
Billy?"

Again the boy looked troubled.

"I don't know," said he, after a long pause.

"Don't ask any more questions," warned Mrs. Crane. "There'll be plenty
of time for that later. Mr. Black sent a notice to the Lakeville paper,
by Dave, so his folks'll know he's alive--we described him as well as
we could. I even measured him with my tape-measure. He isn't as wide as
he ought to be for his length, poor lamb."

"He'll get fat on camp fare," promised Mabel. "Look at me!"

Billy Blue-eyes looked and the troubled expression gave way to one of
amusement.

"Phew!" said he, "I'd better not be fed so often--I guess I'll wait
awhile for that broth--I've only one suit of clothes, the broth lady
says. If I outgrow that----"

"You can borrow mine," laughed Mabel. "My gray sweater would fit you
splendidly."

"He'll need it, too," said Mrs. Crane, "when he sits up to-morrow. That
is, I _think_ I'll let him sit up to-morrow--he hasn't had a scrap of
fever for quite awhile."

"Perhaps," suggested Mabel, "Dave's medicine really did cure him. Did
you taste it, Billy?"

"Once," said Billy, "but I don't know when, I drank something like
red-hot coals, flavored with tobacco and vinegar and ink--was that it?"

"Yes," laughed Mabel, "that must have been it."

"There's a queer taste in my mouth yet," declared the boy. "It's all
puckered up--like choke-cherries."

"I guess you'd better run along, Mabel," advised Mrs. Crane, noting
that the boy's eyes, in spite of his best efforts, were closing
wearily. "He doesn't stay awake very long at a time."

"Good-by," said Mabel, cheerfully.

"Come again," breathed the boy, sleepily.

Of course Mabel felt very important indeed when the other youthful
castaways, waiting impatiently just outside the tent, seized her and
wanted to know all about it.

"He's awfully thin," said Mabel, condescending finally to answer some
of the eager little girls' questions. "And his eyes are perfectly huge
and sort of twinkly. And blue; yes, bluer than Marjory's. I think we're
going to like him; but he can't remember his own name."

"Can't remember his own name!" exclaimed Henrietta. "Perhaps he doesn't
_want_ to. Perhaps he's an escaped convict trying to hide from the
police. Perhaps he's a burglar----"

"He isn't either," snorted Mabel, indignantly. "Do you s'pose I'd
rescue anybody like that? Besides, you can tell. He _wants_ to remember
and can't."

"But what," demanded sympathetic Bettie, "will that poor child do for a
name? Are we to call him 'that boy' forever? And shout 'Say, Boy' when
we want him?"

"Of course not," said Henrietta, promptly. "We'll name him ourselves.
Vincent de Manville Holmes would be nice--or Neptune something, because
he came out of the sea."

"That was Venus," corrected Jean.

"Oh, well," amended Henrietta, cheerfully, "Ulysses might be better.
Still, I always did like Reginald. Or Percival--Percival Orlando de
Courcy."

"You go home," blurted indignant Mabel, no longer able to listen in
triumphant silence. "His name's Billy. He's my boy and I named him; and
that's enough."

"What?" demanded Marjory. "Just Billy?"

"Billy Blue-eyes."

"My!" teased Marjory. "Just like a paper doll!"

"Never mind," soothed tactful Jean, "I think Billy's a beautiful name."

"For a goat," scoffed Henrietta.

There's no knowing what would have happened if Mr. Black, gently
shooing a strange object before him, had not appeared just then, from
the woods back of the clearing.

"Hi there, girls," he shouted, "I'm bringing you a pet!"

At that the girls, all differences forgotten, raced toward Mr. Black.

"Stop! Stop!" he shouted. "You'll scare him away. Stand where you are.
That's right. Now, Marjory, you run for the clothesline--we'll try to
get a noose about his neck."

"Goodness!" gasped Henrietta, backing away as the pet waddled toward
her; "what is it? It looks just like a bad dream."

"I know," laughed Jean. "It's a porcupine. Just see how his quills
stick out--Mercy! Look out, Bettie!"

"Ouch!" squealed short-skirted Bettie, as the clumsy beast hurtled past
her. "My legs!"

"Why!" cried Mabel, "there's quills in your stockings!"

"In _me_, too," giggled Bettie. "I guess nobody'll pet _that_ pet very
much."

"Perhaps we don't want him," said Mr. Black, rather apologetically;
"but I thought you might enjoy studying a porcupine at close quarters."

"Not _too_ close," laughed Bettie, rubbing her shin.

"They're easily tamed," said Mr. Black, "and they'll eat most anything.
I found this one on the river bank. He seemed willing enough to run,
but it took quite a while to get him going in the right direction."

Mr. Black succeeded presently in getting a noose fastened about the
porcupine's neck. Then, because there happened to be a convenient tree
at that point, the other end of the rope was made fast to a sturdy
maple near the path that led to the beach.

"We'll name _him_ Percival Orlando de Courcy," declared Henrietta.

"No," said Mr. Black, "this is Terrible Tim, the watchdog. Stationed at
this point, he'll keep all intruders at bay."

Terrible Tim, however, looked the mildest of beasts by this time, for
with quills lowered, he was cowering bashfully among the shrubbery.



CHAPTER XIX

A Belated Traveler


A BRILLIANT moon had aided Dave in the latter portion of his journey
to Lakeville. The following night, a similarly illumined sky was
of great assistance to another solitary wayfarer, for the man in
leather leggings, misdirected that morning by Mabel and Henrietta, was
laboriously making his way back toward Pete's Patch. Before he had
_quite_ reached the end of the unspeakable road over which the girls
had sent him, he had met a camping fisherman who had given him explicit
directions for finding Mr. Black's land.

At ten o'clock that night, having at last reached Barclay's Point, he
urged his patient horse along the beach until he came to the embers
of a dying camp fire, and noted, on the bank above, a number of white
tents gleaming like ghosts in the moonlight. Tying his weary steed to
a convenient log, the man, very stiff and sore from his long ride,
clambered up the sand bank, only to fall prone at the top over a
strange and most alarmingly prickly object that stood directly in his
path.

Rising with considerable difficulty and separating himself as speedily
as possible from Terrible Tim, who was emitting queer, frightened
grunts, the surprised traveler moved cautiously along the path,
shouting, in a voice that quavered persistently in spite of his manly
efforts to control it:

"Mr. Black! Oh, Mr. Bla--ack!"

Mr. Black, only half awake, sat up to listen. The call came again.

"Oh, Mr. Bla-a-a-ack!"

The owner of the name, wrapped in a blanket, thrust an inquiring head
from the doorway of his tent.

"What's all the row about?" he demanded.

"Oo!" groaned Henrietta, who had wakened at the first call, "it's that
game warden! He'll never spare us _now_."

Keen-eared Marjory, too, was sitting up to listen; and, at Mr. Black's
reply, Jean and Bettie opened their eyes.

"Wake up," commanded Henrietta, in a terrifying whisper, as she
pummeled Mabel mercilessly. "Wake up, wake up--the game warden's here."

The response to this was so surprising that Henrietta, whose teeth were
already chattering with fright, almost tumbled over.

"Who--oop!" shouted Mabel, doubling up her sturdy fists and hitting
out, first with one, then another. "Who--oop! Who--oop! Who--oop!"

"Mabel! For goodness' sake, what do you think you're doing!" gasped
Henrietta. "Oh, my poor chin!"

"Mabel! Stop pounding my ribs!" shrieked Bettie. "You can't sleep next
to _me_ again."

"I--I killed him," breathed Mabel, subsiding with a deep, satisfied
sigh. "Oh, is it breakfast time?"

"What did you kill?" demanded Henrietta, rubbing her chin.

"The father-bear--Bettie was running away with his cubs. What's the
matter with everybody?"

"The game warden," whispered Henrietta. "He's outside with Mr.
Black--arresting him, I guess. But listen--they're talking."

"What!" Mr. Black was exclaiming, excitedly. "Two girls? Two of _my_
girls sent you--why, Saunders! You must be dreaming!"

"Saunders!" gasped Henrietta.

"Saunders!" echoed Mabel. "Why! Saunders is the man in Mr. Black's
office. I've never seen him, but I've heard a lot about him."

"Girls!" called Mr. Black, "are you awake?"

"Yes," shrieked all five.

"Here's a hungry man. Could one of you roll up in a blanket and find
him something to eat?"

"Sure!" shrieked all five.

Then, of course, there followed a lively scramble for shoes and
blankets and, in another moment, the five girls, looking like so many
disheveled little squaws, were out in the moonlight.

"There's some cold johnny-cake," said Jean, rather doubtfully, "and
some mushroom soup that I could warm up."

"And beans," added Marjory, stalking after her towards the camp
cupboard. "I'll get the dishes."

"Girls," said Mr. Black, "this is Mr. Saunders--Mr. William
Saunders--of Lakeville. Saunders, which of these young women did you
see this morning?"

"Well, really," stammered the visitor, glancing from one to another of
the blanketed maidens, "I couldn't say."

"Mabel and me," mumbled Henrietta, half-heartedly.

"And you sent him----"

"We thought," explained Mabel, balancing unsteadily on the only foot
for which she had been able to find a shoe, "that he was the game
warden."

"Game warden!" gasped Mr. Black. "Do you mean to say that you _meant_
to send him seventeen miles from Barclay's?"

The guilty little girls accomplished the difficult feat of nodding and
hanging their heads at the same time.

"In all that mud!" groaned Saunders, "and on that awful saddle!"

"We," faltered Henrietta, whose red blanket was most becoming to her
sparkling brunette countenance, "we didn't want the game warden to find
out about Dave."

"Good gracious!" exclaimed Mr. Black. "That reminds me. Dave is in
Lakeville, Saunders is here--he brought up an important paper for me to
sign. With Saunders gone, Dave won't know what to do about the doctor.
He _may_ start back."

"Not if there's anything drinkable left in Lakeville," assured
Saunders. "I know mighty well where I'll find him. But I _can't_ go
back to-night--I'm not accustomed to riding, and I've been on that poor
old nag all day."

"I'll fix a bed for you in my tent," said Mr. Black. "There's plenty of
room."

"I'm awfully sorry for what we did," mumbled Henrietta, contritely,
"but we _did_ mistake you for that dreadful game warden."

"That looks," said Saunders, with mock severity, "as if you'd been
breaking the game laws."

"It's that rascal Dave," explained Mr. Black. "He has damaged them all;
but please don't mention it in town."

Mr. Saunders was fed and escorted to bed; but before he had had time
to unlace his shoes, there were wild shrieks from the girls' tent.
Mabel, the first to plunge in, had collided with a horribly prickly
object that grunted like a frightened pig and scratched like a thousand
needles. Then, as girl after girl rubbed against Terrible Tim, who had
somehow escaped and was calmly eating their tallow candle, a chorus of
shrieks rang forth. This outcry, of course, sent Mr. Black flying to
the rescue. And Mrs. Crane, roused at last and puzzled by the presence
of Mr. Saunders, joined the relief party.

"It's Terrible Tim!" shrieked Marjory. "He's in all our beds!"

"We'll let him go," declared Mr. Black. "He's too troublesome a pet."

"No, no, no!" shrieked the alarmed girls. "He'll get in here again."

"And I'm sure," said Mrs. Crane, "that he isn't wanted in _my_ tent."

"Well," agreed Mr. Black, "I guess it _is_ wiser to tie him up than to
attempt to chase him away--perhaps he's forgotten the way home."

So Terrible Tim, cowering in a corner and quite as frightened as his
victims, was fastened to his clothesline and driven to his tree. It was
days, however, before the girls' blankets were free from the irritating
porcupine quills that Timothy had shed so generously.

In the morning Mr. Saunders, still stiff and sore from his long ride,
was safely started on his way to Lakeville; but, during his brief stay,
he had made friends with all the girls and even conversed for a few
moments with Billy Blue-eyes, who was greatly taken with the pleasant
young man.

"You see," explained Saunders, with a twinkle in his shrewd gray eye
as he glanced toward Mabel and Henrietta, "I want to make such a good
impression that I'll be recognized a mile away _next_ time."

"Well," complained Mabel, "you might have _said_ you weren't that game
warden."

At that, lame as he was, Saunders threw back his head and roared.

When Saunders, bountifully supplied with lists and instructions, had
departed, Mrs. Crane told the girls that Billy was clamoring for
visitors.

"I guess," said she, "we'll let Jean and Bettie in first--they're the
quietest."

The boy was now visibly gaining in strength; also he seemed
sufficiently cheerful and contented until Bettie, forgetting that she
was not to trouble him with questions, asked if he lived in Lakeville.

"Where's that?" queried the boy.

"About fifteen miles from here," returned Bettie. "You could see it on
a clear day if it wasn't for Sugar Loaf and a lot of other scenery in
the way."

"What's Sugar Loaf--sounds like a candy shop?"

"A very high hill right on the edge of the lake. Lakeville is a town
around several corners in a little bay. Where _did_ you come from?"

The boy's eyes clouded. "I don't know," said he. "When I wake up in the
night I _almost_ remember things--my bed, for instance, belongs over
there--but there's always a piece of everything gone. I--it bothers me.
I guess you think I'm pretty queer."

"Don't worry," soothed Jean. "You're not strong yet. You'll be all
right when you're well."

"Think so?" demanded Billy, brightening. "Then I'll eat all the broth
Mrs.--some kind of a bird--brings me."

"She's making some now," said Bettie, "from a piece of Dave's venison.
We'll have all sorts of good things to eat as soon as Mr. Saunders gets
to town. He said he'd travel as fast as he _could_--I guess he's pretty
lame."

"But," groaned Jean, "he can't possibly get anything here before
to-morrow and I'm just starved for pie."

"Pie!" laughed the boy. "I'd like a piece myself. Why, when I lived
in--in---- Now wouldn't that make you tired! I can _see_ a table with
pie on it and a whole pitcher full of cream; but, if you offered me a
thousand dollars I couldn't tell you where to find that table! Pshaw!
It makes me so mad when things float off like that that I want to--cry."

Whereupon Jean, noting that big tears blurred the blue eyes, began
hastily to tell how Terrible Tim had devoured one of Mabel's shoes,
left carelessly within his reach; and presently the lad was again
smiling.



CHAPTER XX

A Surprise Party


THE following afternoon, all the castaways except Billy, who, however,
was sitting up in bed, crouched in a row on the bank to watch two
slowly approaching objects.

"Surely we never asked for _two_ boat-loads of food," remarked puzzled
Bettie.

"Or medicine," added Mrs. Crane.

"Or books," said Jean.

"Or clothes," supplemented Henrietta.

"Perhaps," suggested Mr. Black, "the other boat isn't coming here."

"But it _is_," asserted far-sighted Marjory. "It's headed right this
way. And the bigger one is Captain Berry's launch, I _know_."

Twenty minutes later the boat that was _not_ Captain Berry's dropped
anchor in the little bay.

"It's people!" Marjory exclaimed, as the smaller launch swung about.
"It looks like a picnic."

"Dear me," said alarmed Mrs. Crane, "I hope they've brought their own
lunch--_we_ couldn't give them much. And I feel like hiding in the
woods--we're terribly in need of starch and flatirons."

"They're _waving_," cried Bettie. "I do believe they're visitors for
us. Oh, I guess they want a boat."

Mr. Black, who had hastened to the launch with one of the small boats,
was first to recognize the passengers. Jean, who followed with the
second boat (by this time all the girls had learned to row in the
shallow, usually calm little bay), was second.

"Mercy!" exclaimed astonished Jean, almost catching a crab, "it's most
of our parents and Aunty Jane--I do hope they're not going to take us
home!"

Presently the visitors were safely landed. Doctor and Mrs. Bennett,
Doctor and Mrs. Tucker, Mrs. Mapes, Henrietta's grandmother, Mrs.
Slater, and Marjory's Aunty Jane.

"Where's that dreadful boy?" demanded Aunty Jane, the moment she was
on shore. "Are you sure he hasn't something catching? I haven't known
a moment's peace since I knew that you'd sent for the doctor; for
Marjory's never had _anything_. Are you sure it isn't smallpox? Those
lumber camps up the lake----"

"Dear me," said Mrs. Crane, "didn't we write that the boy was more than
half drowned? I'm _sure_ I said so."

"It was that Indian--that unspeakably filthy Indian," returned Aunty
Jane. "He said the boy had a fever. I went to the jail--to the _jail_,
Mrs. Crane--to talk to that--that beast."

"Who--Dave?"

"I suppose so. From what little I could understand, I gathered that
that boy had some malignant illness--typhoid, diphtheria, scarlet
fever, smallpox----"

"Mr. Black," interposed Doctor Bennett, "I did all I could to keep
these women home, but they _would_ come."

"I don't blame them," beamed Mr. Black, hospitably. "They wanted to see
their girls. We're glad to see you all."

Aunty Jane, the neatest housekeeper in Lakeville, cast disapproving
glances in every direction as Mr. Black led the way to the campground.
Everybody else was busy exclaiming over Bettie.

"Are you sure you _are_ Bettie?" demanded Mrs. Tucker, with delighted
eyes. "Why, you're _fat_--Doctor Bennett, she hasn't been fat since she
was three years old. And brown! And look at the red in her cheeks! And
her lips!"

"I've certainly lost my patient," laughed Doctor Bennett. "But Mabel
seems to be all here."

"Just look at my long Jean's brown arms," cried pleased Mrs. Mapes,
vainly endeavoring to span the rounded forearm. "Bigger than mine!"

"That's muscle," laughed Jean. "Rowing and climbing trees are great for
your muscle--but hard on your clothes."

"Ugh!" shuddered Aunty Jane, sniffing disgustedly. "How horrible
everything smells! Bacon, onions, fish--just like that filthy Indian!"

"All camps smell camp-y," explained Doctor Bennett. "_You'll_ smell
camp-y after a day in the woods. But where's that boy? Until I've seen
him, these anxious mothers won't be satisfied that he hasn't something
contagious."

Mrs. Mapes, Doctor and Mrs. Tucker, and the Bennetts were delighted
with Pete's Patch and went quite wild over the scenery; but it was
clear to everybody that Henrietta's decidedly aristocratic little
grandmother and Marjory's overwhelmingly neat Aunty Jane had never been
intended by nature for camp life. Mrs. Slater, to be sure, enjoyed
the fine sky, the wonderful expanse of blue water, the beautiful
golden-brown river, and the deep, cool forest. She liked all these in
a quiet, understanding way; but one could see, although the tactful
gentlewoman was most polite about it all, that the lowly balsam beds,
the rough benches, the careless attire of the castaways had proved
rather shocking to a lady accustomed always to luxurious ways of
living. As for Aunty Jane, she liked nothing and did not hesitate to
denounce camp life and all pertaining to it, Terrible Tim included.

"Marjory!" she had exclaimed, at first sight of her usually spotless
niece, "your dress is a perfect sight! Go this instant and put on a
clean one."

"Why!" returned surprised Marjory, "this is my clean one--I washed it
yesterday."

"_Washed_ it!" gasped Aunty Jane. "Well, you couldn't have used much
water."

"Only the whole lake," returned Marjory, meekly. "But we haven't any
flatirons, so we just pull things somewhere near the right shape and
dry them on the bushes. It's lovely fun to wash--we go right in with
our clothes."

"Do you _cook_ in those filthy pans?" next demanded Aunty Jane,
inspecting the fruit of the large pine that served, as Mr. Black punned
merrily, as a "pan-tree."

"They're clean _inside_," defended Jean. "That's smoke from the camp
fire."

"I wash the _outside_ of my saucepans," sniffed Aunty Jane, with
blighting emphasis. "Also my frying-pans."

"It isn't considered proper in camp," returned Mr. Black, whose eyes
were twinkling wickedly; "but if you'd like a little missionary work,
Miss Jane, there's the dishcloth."

"Dishcloth!" gasped Aunty Jane, disdainfully, eying the fairly clean
rag drying in the sun. "I wouldn't scrub my coal bin with a cloth the
color of that."

"I wouldn't scrub mine with _anything_," laughed Mrs. Bennett; "but
never mind, Aunty Jane, our girls seem to be thriving in spite of torn
dresses and unscoured pans. This life is doing them a world of good."

"Good!" sniffed Aunty Jane. "Why! The place must be fairly swarming
with germs. I shouldn't _think_ of permitting Marjory to remain here--I
shall take her home with me to-night."

This was lightning from a clear sky. For a moment nobody said a word.
Then there was a chorus of protests.

"No, no!" shrieked Bettie, hurling herself upon Aunty Jane. "She can't
go."

"Oh, _please_, Aunty Jane," cried Jean. "We can't spare her--she's our
telescope and our ears."

"Oh, _no_," stormed Mabel, "we _must_ keep her. _She_ likes it
here--and look at her face--all brown----"

"With dirt," snapped Auntie Jane. "It'll take me a month to get that
child clean--and a year to scour off those disgusting freckles."

Marjory groaned. The prospect was certainly dismal.

"Never mind," counseled impish Henrietta, whispering in Marjory's ear.
"You can run away--I'll help you. You can easily hide in the bushes so
she can't find you when the time comes--there's forty good places to
hide in--let's find one now."

"No," moaned Marjory, "I _can't_ do that--I wouldn't dare to. And it
won't do a mite of good to tease. If she says a thing she sticks to
it--it's all over for poor me."

When things went wrong, Bettie cried easily, Henrietta wept copiously,
and Mabel wailed uproariously; but Marjory, restrained little soul
that she was, was seldom known to shed tears. But now several large
specimens began to roll down Marjory's cheeks, and presently, to Mr.
Black's dismay, the little girl was sobbing bitterly, with her head
against Jean's flat but motherly bosom.

Both Mr. Black and Mrs. Crane pleaded with Aunty Jane. All the parents
reasoned with her. Even Mrs. Slater, who was no camper herself,
implored Miss Higgins to change her mind. But that was a thing that
the poor lady never _could_ do. Some people _can't_ change their
minds--Aunty Jane couldn't. Even when she wanted to she couldn't.

"Perhaps she'll be more amiable after dinner," suggested gentle Doctor
Tucker, whose mild eyes were shining at the prospect of catching a
trout with the hook that Mr. Black was baiting for him. "Many persons
are."

But the splendid noon dinner that hungry Aunty Jane had expected
to devour was still nearly a mile from shore in Captain Berry's
launch, and the other launch-man couldn't go after it; because,
having incautiously ventured too near shore, he was now engaged in
half-hearted attempts to dislodge his stranded craft from a troublesome
sand bar. He declined all offers of assistance, saying that Captain
Berry, whose engine would surely work _sometime_, could easily tow
him into deeper water--_he_ wasn't goin' to work hisself to death for
nobody, no, not he.

As nobody wanted to row a mile or more and then back again with a load
of heavy baskets, nobody did; so Mrs. Crane did the best she could with
what she had; but the camp-cooked dinner did not appeal to Aunty Jane,
who refused to eat venison that Dave had touched and had no appetite
for plain beans, boiled potatoes, and cindery johnny-cake. Altogether,
poor Aunty Jane, who was never _very_ pleasant, was in her unhappiest
mood.

"You see," apologized Mrs. Crane, "our provisions are pretty low; we
haven't a very large supply of cups and plates, and of course you
haven't been here long enough to acquire an appetite for camp fare. Let
me give you a piece of this trout, Miss Higgins."

"No, thank you," was Aunty Jane's frigid reply. "I never eat fish."

"These beans," assured Mrs. Slater, politely, "are very nice indeed."

"And I'm sure," said Doctor Bennett, "this is excellent coffee, even if
I _do_ have to drink from a cocoa can."

But Aunty Jane scorned them both.

"Tell us," urged Mr. Black, "about that boy of ours. What do you think
of him?"

"Why," replied the merry doctor, "the lad's all right, considering
what he's been through. But, judging from his extreme thinness, being
shipwrecked is only a small part of his unhappy experience."

"What _do_ you mean?" demanded Mrs. Mapes, uneasily.

"No, my dear woman--_all_ my dear women," Doctor Bennett hastened to
add, "he hasn't had smallpox. But I _do_ know that he was a sick boy
_before_ he was shipwrecked, because his body shows that he has lost
more flesh than a boy _could_ lose in so short a time."

"Yes," corroborated Mrs. Crane, "he was _very_ thin when we found him."

"Tuberculosis!" breathed Aunty Jane.

"Nothing of the kind," declared the doctor.

"But he was dreadfully thin," asserted Mabel. "His legs----"

"Never mind his legs," said Doctor Bennett. "It's his head that
troubles us now. His body is mending with every moment; but there's
something seriously wrong with his memory----"

"A dangerous lunatic!" gasped excitable Aunty Jane, half rising from
her seat.

"No, no!" shouted the exasperated doctor, who didn't like Aunty
Jane. "Nothing of the sort. Merely a very pitiable boy who has been
extremely ill, probably with pneumonia. A boy who is naturally very
bright, in all ways but the one. A boy with an excellent constitution
or this last experience would have finished him. The best thing we can
possibly do for him is to keep him right here, build up his strength
in this splendid air, and then, when he's entirely well, take him to a
specialist--I'm wiser about bodies than brains."

"Could I make him a pudding?" demanded Mabel, unexpectedly.

"No," roared the doctor. "We want him to get _well_."

"As for me," said Henrietta, "I shan't be able to sleep nights until I
know that boy's real name."

"Take my word for it," warned Aunty Jane, "he isn't worth saving. He'll
prove either a thief or a tramp; or perhaps both. I wouldn't _think_ of
taking in a stranger like that."

Mabel was about to retort indignantly, and, it is to be feared,
impolitely; for this candid child was sometimes too candid; when
Henrietta whispered in her ear:

"Wouldn't it be terrible if he proved to be just like Aunty Jane!"

This thought was so appalling, in spite of its impossibility, that for
ten seconds Mabel sat in silence, with her eyes fairly bulging.

"Henrietta," she breathed finally, "weren't--weren't you just fooling?"

"Listen!" warned Henrietta.

"I'd rather be deceived fifty times," Mrs. Crane was saying, "than let
even a tramp go hungry; but that's an honest lad or I never saw one.
It's quite possible that he's poor, but that's no crime."



CHAPTER XXI

Dave Makes Himself Useful


SHOUTS from the lake now claimed the campers' attention. Captain
Berry's obstinate engine had suddenly decided to work and was now
making up for lost time by refusing to stop. The captain, as near shore
as he dared approach, was spinning round and round in circles. Each
time he neared the land he shouted lustily.

"He wants something," interpreted Mr. Black, rising from the table.
"Marjory--where is Marjory with her sharp ears?"

"Crying in our tent," replied Mabel, with a vindictive glance toward
Aunty Jane. "If she wasn't a _good_ child, she'd climb a tree and stay
there until some folks----"

"There, there," squelched Doctor Bennett, "we mustn't criticise our
elders. Let's see what that crazy boat is doing."

"She's stopped," said Mr. Black, "and Dave's swimming ashore--after
the boats, I guess. Let's help him."

Presently all sorts of boxes, bundles, and baskets were safely landed;
all the campers and most of the visitors helping the good work along.
Even Marjory, her face swollen and disfigured from much weeping,
assisted a little.

"Hullo!" cried Dave, catching sight of the sorrowful countenance. "W'at
you ees cry for, li'le gal?"

Tactful Jean, seeing that Marjory was unable to speak, replied for her.

"Her aunt--she hasn't any mother, you know--is going to take her home.
She doesn't want to go; but she can't help herself."

"Dat's too bad," sympathized Dave. "W'ich of dose ees hees aunt?"

Jean pointed out Aunty Jane--a middle-aged, unattractive lady, who
sat bolt upright when everybody else loafed in comfortable, camp-y
attitudes.

"Yas, Ah'm see dose old gal biffore," admitted disrespectful Dave,
eying Aunty Jane's stiff, unconscious back reflectively. "Ah'm not lak'
dose kind of lady ver' moch--she ees tole me for take som' _bat'_."

Even Marjory smiled forlornly at the idea of Dave's taking a bath. But
smiles did not last long that day. In spite of all the good things
that came in baskets and bundles, in spite of a big box of candy that
Saunders had included for Mabel and Henrietta, and inscribed "With the
Game Warden's Compliments," the sympathetic little girls were very
unhappy at the thought of losing Marjory. They had _always_ played
together; and now they were absolutely certain that they _couldn't_
have good times during the rest of their stay with no Marjory to help
enjoy them. As for Marjory, that small maiden was shedding so many
tears that Mabel feared there would soon be nothing left of her unhappy
little friend. And by afternoon even the grown-ups were thoroughly
vexed by Aunty Jane's obstinacy.

"Oh, we all know," said Mrs. Bennett to Mrs. Tucker, who sat under a
tree, letting down a skirt for Bettie, "that Aunty Jane _means_ well;
she'd work her fingers to the bone for Marjory; but a _real_ mother
wouldn't be a--a----"

"Vinegar cruet," supplied Doctor Bennett.

"She has completely spoiled the day," declared Mrs. Tucker, "for all
those children; and we _meant_ to give them a pleasant surprise."

"Poor Aunty Jane _couldn't_ be a pleasant surprise," protested
Mrs. Bennett, "but we mustn't blame her--_she_ didn't pick out her
unfortunate disposition. We'll just have to be extra cheerful ourselves
this afternoon to make up for her unpleasantness."

But no one succeeded in being "extra cheerful," when there was so much
gloom to dispel; to the children, especially, the day seemed absolutely
spoiled in spite of much unexpected and rather amusing sympathy from
Dave, who plainly considered going home with Aunty Jane an unmixed
calamity.

"I guess," said Jean, shrewdly, "that Dave _likes_ to have us here."

"And why not?" demanded Henrietta. "We give him all sorts of good
things to eat and Mr. Black pays him besides, for all the work he
doesn't do. He's just bought himself a nice new blanket and a fine big
quilt--I noticed them on the beach. Why! Something's happening. Let's
see what it is."

Dave, with a large bundle on his shoulder, was crossing the clearing,
in the direction of his wigwam. Aunty Jane, pointing at the bundle and
scolding loudly, was scurrying after him. Mrs. Bennett and Mrs. Mapes
were scurrying after _her_. Mrs. Slater, under a tree with Mrs. Tucker,
seemed greatly amused; for this bright old lady possessed a strong
sense of humor.

"What _is_ it, Granny?" demanded Henrietta, pausing at sight of the
dainty little grandmother's smiling countenance. "Is she trying again
to make Dave take a bath?"

"No, Honey," laughed Mrs. Slater. "She thinks she recognizes that
quilt--she missed one off her clothesline several nights ago."

Dave, seeing that Aunty Jane was not to be shaken off, stopped, untied
his bundle, separated the quilt from the other articles, and offered it
to the pursuing lady.

"Yas," grinned Dave, "Ah'm t'ink dose queelt she ees yours, maybe.
She's grow on som' clothesline jus' biffore de back part of dose house
of madame hon Lakeveele. Me, Ah'm need som' more queelt--som' tam' Ah'm
got company. Mus' feex noddaire bed, Ah'm t'ink."

"Well," replied Aunty Jane, tartly, as she reached for the guilt,
"you'd better think again. Give it to me this instant."

Then, catching a whiff of the aroma that was ever a part of Dave, Aunty
Jane fairly hurled the restored comforter at the grinning thief.

"For goodness' sake!" she gasped. "_Take_ it, you filthy Indian. There
isn't water enough in Lake Superior to get the smell out of anything
you've touched."

"Yas," returned Dave, blandly accepting the quilt, "Ah'm sleep hon dose
queelt hall de way from Lakeveele. Night biffore, halso. Ah'm moch
obliged for dose present, madame. Dose ver' good queelt, Ah'm t'ink."

"A great deal too good for you, you filthy beast."

Dave's ill-kept teeth still gleamed in his wide, amiable smile; but
his narrowed black eyes suddenly glittered in a cold, snaky way that
started an unpleasant chill down Aunty Jane's spine.

"That wicked Indian," she said afterwards, "thanked me and looked as if
he'd like to murder me, all in the same breath."

"Indians," mused Doctor Tucker, "are said to be revengeful."

Perhaps, with so many little girls sorrowful on Marjory's account,
the sky hadn't the heart to keep on smiling. At any rate, a full hour
earlier than the visitors had expected to leave, their launch-man was
pointing pessimistically toward gathering clouds--no one else had
noticed them.

"If you folks want to get home before it rains," said he, "you'd better
be climbing aboard--less'n you want to stay here all night."

"Mercy!" cried Aunty Jane, springing to her feet, "I wouldn't stay for
a million dollars."

Mrs. Slater was too polite to _say_ that she wouldn't either; but she,
too, rose rather hastily to look about for scattered belongings.

Dave assisted everybody with wonderful alacrity. He was here, there,
and everywhere. The girls assisted, too--perhaps that was why it took
so long to find all Marjory's widely dispersed garments. They were
still at this task after most of the mothers had climbed aboard the
launch. Marjory, by this time fairly helpless with grief, sat on a log
and wept; while Aunty Jane, on her knees under a nearby tree, attempted
to roll the accumulated garments into a neat bundle.

Somehow--nobody knew exactly how--Terrible Tim, the porcupine, made
his presence felt just at this busy moment. One instant the object in
Aunty Jane's grasp was an innocent bundle of clothing. The next, the
horrified lady was clutching an astonished and most dreadfully prickly
porcupine; for Timothy, propelled by some mysterious force, had landed
squarely in her arms.

Instantly the air was rent with shrieks. No one noticed the extra
shriek or two that Marjory added to the chorus as a dark, sinewy arm
shot forth and suddenly grasped her. No one saw lithe Dave draw the
frightened, dazed little girl into the thicket, toss her across his
shoulder, and flee, by a roundabout trail that no civilized foot could
have found, toward his own wigwam.

"Be still," commanded Dave, clapping his hand gently but effectually
over Marjory's mouth. "Don't be scare--Ah'm good frien' to you, li'le
gal. Now ron, ron fast hon your own leg."

Astonishment prevented further desire to shriek, for, near the doorway
of Dave's wigwam and washing a grimy pan with a grimier rag, stood a
dark but decidedly attractive young woman. And down in the dirt at
her feet, as Marjory had seen her many times previously, groveled the
Dandelion Cottage baby, the unforgettable Rosa Marie.

Marjory, at sight of the funny little Indian baby that Mabel had once
adopted, almost forgot her own troubles.

"Ma sistaire," explained Dave, pointing toward the woman. "Hees name
ees Mahjigeezigoqua. Can you say dose name?"

"Mar-gee-gee-ze-go-qua," repeated Marjory, correctly making the first
g soft, the second hard. "But how did you get them here? We didn't see
them leave the boat."

"Ah'm pack dem wit' dose proveesion," laughed Dave. "Ah'm poot dose two
hon shore behin' som' point, w'ile all dose peop' ees too busy for look
at Dave. Ma sistaire ees come for pick som' berry. Hey, you know dose
kid? W'y you no talk, Rosa Marie? Here ees som' frien' for you."

Then Dave spoke rapidly in some strange tongue to his sister,
concluding in his broken English, as he turned to go:

"Now Ah'm go for help dose ol' Aunt hon top dose boat. You stay here."

Nevertheless, conscientious Marjory started to follow him; but Rosa
Marie's mother, stepping quickly into the narrow pathway, gently but
unmistakably detained her.

"You talk som' leetle t'ing to Rosa Marie--she ees remembaire you, ees
eet not, Rosa? See, how he ees grow som' hon herself, dose so fat Rosa."

So Marjory, seeing no way of immediate escape with the attractive young
Indian woman firmly blocking the pathway, renewed her acquaintance with
Rosa Marie, who apparently was as stolid and as unemotional as ever.

"Hees fadaire lak' dat," explained Mahjigeezigoqua. "He t'ink hon hees
inside honly. No talk, no mak' som' smile hon her face, dose man."

If Rosa Marie _did_ any thinking, it is certain that the process went
on "inside only," for if ever there was a wooden little Indian it was
Rosa Marie. But by dint of hard work, Marjory finally extracted a
smile. Then Rosa Marie, groping under her brief skirts, produced the
very dirtiest and most disreputable doll that Marjory had ever beheld.

"Ma-_bel_," said Rosa Marie. "Ma-_bel_."

"She ees name for Mees Ma_bel_," explained the Indian baby's mother.

"Mabel ought to feel flattered," giggled Marjory. "I'll tell her about
her namesake. But mercy! I must go back----"

"Wait," said Dave's sister, lightly clasping her slender brown fingers
about Marjory's wrist. "Ah show you how to catch som' chipmunk."

And Marjory, realizing that she was a prisoner, stayed where she was.



CHAPTER XXII

A Twisted Conscience


BY the time Dave returned, Aunty Jane had been separated from Terrible
Tim and a large number of loose quills. All the others had embarked,
but Aunty Jane, breathing dire threats, still lingered to look for
Marjory.

"Are you sure," asked Henrietta, sincerely, "that she didn't go aboard
with that last boat-load? I don't think she was here when poor Timothy
tumbled out of that tree."

"_Did_ he tumble?" snapped Aunty Jane. "_I_ think he jumped."

At this moment, Dave--the only person who knew exactly how Terrible Tim
happened to land where he did--joined in the search for Marjory.

"Ah'm smell pooty good," asserted crafty Dave, crawling about on
all-fours and making an elaborate pretense of sniffing at the sand,
"and Ah'm sure dose gal ees mak' som' track for dose boat."

"Hi there!" shouted Mr. Black, from the beach. "Captain says he can't
wait a moment longer--other boat's halfway home by now. Or are you
going to stay with us, Miss Higgins? There's plenty of room."

"No, I'm _not_," snapped Aunty Jane, fleeing down the bank. "With your
dirty Indians and your flying beasts this is no place for a decent
woman."

It is said that one disagreeable person in camp can spoil the very
pleasantest party, and the saying must be true, for with Aunty Jane
at Pete's Patch nothing had seemed quite right--the luster was gone
from everything--even the sky. But, as Captain Berry's delayed launch
began the determined chug-chugging that soon carried the little boat
into deeper water, everybody on shore breathed a sigh of relief; and
overhead, as Henrietta pointed out, laughingly, a tiny patch of gold
glimmered among the clouds.

"They say," mused Mr. Black, "that living close to Nature brings out
all your traits more strongly."

"Yes, Peter," laughed Mrs. Crane, "I've noticed that you're lazier here
than you were in town."

"I was thinking," returned Mr. Black, with dignity, "that folks with
sharp tongues and twisted tempers ought never to venture into the
woods."

Aunty Jane was a good mile from shore before Dave turned, with his
wickedest grin, toward the castaways.

"Come wit' me," he invited. "Ah'm fool dose aunt lady, Ah'm t'ink."

"What do you mean?" demanded Mr. Black.

"Come wit' me," repeated Dave, with the most complacent of smiles.
"Ah'm show you som' deer in a trap--Ah'm snare heem just now."

Of course Mr. Black and the girls wanted to see so unusual a sight as
a trapped deer; but when they discovered that the deer was a dear,
their own beloved Marjory, their astonishment was great. And of course
they were no less surprised to see Rosa Marie and Mahjigeezigoqua, her
almost unspellable mother.

"Marjory!" gasped Jean. "We thought you were on the boat!"

"Marjory," panted Mabel. "All your clothes _are_ on that boat."

"These aren't," returned Marjory, indicating what she had on. "And my
skin isn't--I can wear that, if I have to."

"Granny brought me loads of things," assured Henrietta. "I guess you
won't need to come down to skin."

"Marjory," demanded Mr. Black, rather severely for so mild a man, "do
you mean to say that you were naughty enough to deliberately hide from
Aunty Jane?"

Marjory colored, but remained silent. It occurred to her suddenly that
telling the truth would seem a good deal like disloyalty to Dave--Dave,
who had been her friend. As Marjory was not in the habit of fibbing,
she didn't know what to say.

"Eef dose gal won't ron away on herself," explained Dave, promptly
exonerating Marjory from all blame, "me, Ah'm mus' ron away wit' heem.
Ah'm pull heem into de bush and ron, ron lak' de dev' (devil). Hey,
li'le gal; Ah'm good frien' to you, hey? An' now dose aunt, w'at smell
too strong wit' hees nose, ees gone two-t'ree mile, Ah'm t'ink."

"Dave," queried Mr. Black, shaking his head soberly, "is there any way
of discovering what you _do_ think? Are you all rascal or are you part
angel--with the angel part very much disguised? I can't make you out."

But this was too deep for Dave.

"Ah'm t'ink," replied Dave, replying to only the first part of Mr.
Black's question, "dat dose poor li'le Margy ees don't want to go home
wit' hees aunt. Me, Ah'm not care for go home wit' dose aunt maself."

At this the delighted girls shrieked with mirth, for the idea of Aunty
Jane taking Dave home with her would have amused even Dave's solemn
dog. Mr. Black, however, still frowned slightly, for Dave puzzled him.

"Dave," said he, "you're altogether too full of tricks. I suppose you
don't know what courtesy toward a woman means; but you've certainly
been ruder than you should have been to poor Miss Higgins. You'll have
to go to Lakeville to-night and tell that poor woman that Marjory is
safe--perhaps I'd better write her a note so she won't blame Marjory."

"Ah'm go right off," agreed Dave, cheerfully. "Maybe Ah'm find som'
more queelt on hees line."

"Dave, you incorrigible rascal," stormed Mr. Black, "you let that
lady's clothesline alone. Steal one off _my_ line, if you must have a
quilt--I'm better able to spare it."

"Ah'm good frien' to _you_," protested Dave, earnestly, with the
outstretched hand of good-fellowship. "You shake hon dat?"

"I hope you are," returned Mr. Black, shaking the proffered hand. "But,
Dave, your conscience is like that river--no one could possibly map
its windings. And after this, my man, you must be a good friend to my
_friends_, as well as to me. Now let's go back to camp and see what our
Billy boy is doing."

Dave, evidently somewhat troubled, for he still had an unconfessed
misdeed on his mind, followed the castaways back to the clearing. They
found Mrs. Crane sitting disconsolately on the bench outside her tent.

"That boy's so blue," she confided, advancing to meet them, "that I'm
staying outside to give him a chance to cry. I guess he thought the
doctor was going to cure him right off and he's terribly disappointed."

"Couldn't we tell him about Dave and Aunty Jane?" queried Bettie. "That
ought to cheer anybody--just think, Mrs. Crane, Dave hid Marjory in his
wigwam, with Rosa Marie and her mother."

"Rosa Marie! And didn't Marjory go on the boat?"

"No, Marjory's back there with Mabel and Rosa Marie--she's Dave's
niece."

"Dave's niece! Well, well----"

"I guess Dave doesn't like Aunty Jane," interrupted Henrietta. "I can't
be sure--it was all so exciting just then--but I _think_ Dave slid down
the trunk of one of those big trees just after Terrible Tim landed
between Aunty Jane and that bundle."

"She might have been badly hurt," said Mrs. Crane, indignantly. "Dave,
come here a moment--I want to talk to you. Did you drop that porcupine
into Miss Higgins' lap?"

"Eef som' porkypine ees go for drop," returned Dave, whimsically, "eet
ees good dat he ees land on som' sof' plass. Som' tam', Ah'm tole,
she's rain cat an' dog; som' tam' she's rain porkypine. W'at for? Me,
Ah'm can't tole you. De sky she ees made dose way."

"Well," warned Mrs. Crane, "you'd better see to it, Dave, that it
doesn't rain any more porcupines--I don't like such tricks."

"Ah'm not please nobody," sighed Dave, dolefully, "w'en Ah'm try all
day to help all dose body."

"But, Dave," remonstrated Mrs. Crane, "you do so many wrong things. You
stole that quilt from Miss Higgins' line, didn't you?"

"Yas," replied Dave. "Dose blanket, too."

"Dave, you poor benighted creature! Don't you know it's wrong to steal?"

"Yas," admitted incorrigible Dave, with an unmistakable twinkle in his
eye. "Ah'm t'ink so, w'en som'body ees eat up all dose venison of me.
She's very bad for stole all dose meat--Me, Ah'm have no dinnaire, me.
Halso, Ah'm got no suppaire, Ah'm _sop_pose. Mus' break som' more game
law----"

"Dave!" cried Mrs. Crane, contritely. "You sit right down at that table
and I'll give you the best meal you ever ate."

"But," mourned the wily half-breed, seating himself, nevertheless,
"Rosa Marie, ma sistaire, too, mus' dose two starve?"

"Why--why, no!" gasped Mrs. Crane. "I'll fix something for them, too."

"Som' day," promised Dave, sincerely, "Ah'm geeve you som' good fat
moskrat."

Too polite to say so, Mrs. Crane hoped fervently that Dave would forget
that promise; she was quite certain that she wouldn't enjoy eating a
"good fat muskrat," or even a very thin one.



CHAPTER XXIII

Billy's Memory


WHILE Mrs. Crane was supplying Dave with a bountiful meal, the
girls were telling Billy about Rosa Marie, Marjory, Aunty Jane, the
porcupine--in short, all the news of that eventful day. Billy, with
brightening eyes, was certainly enjoying it all, particularly the part
about Terrible Tim.

"Once," began Billy, reminiscently, "when I was a kid I saw----"

But what Billy had seen could only be guessed, for the brightness
slipped from his eyes and he pulled the corner of his blanket over his
face.

"I can't remember a blamed thing," he mumbled, with a catch in his
throat.

"Cheer up," teased Henrietta, gently. "Nobody 'd _want_ to remember
anything that looks like Terrible Tim. But when you see him, you'll
probably remember what you were going to say. Did they tell you that
you're to come outside to-morrow and lie in a hammock with soft-boiled
eggs? Oh, I mean you're to _eat_ the eggs. Aren't you glad?"

"I like eggs," said the boy, uncovering one eye. "Chicken, too, and
roast beef."

"Perhaps Dave will get you a partridge--Doctor Bennett said you could
eat that. Did you ever eat partridge?"

"Yes," returned Billy.

"Where?" demanded Bettie and Henrietta, with one voice.

"At--at--oh, it's gone!" wailed Billy, "when I had it right at the end
of my tongue."

"Don't worry," soothed motherly Jean. "You're a _lot_ better than you
were yesterday. We can all see that."

"Think so? Well, maybe I am. Is that--yes, it _is_ milk toast. Tastes
just like food. _Sure_ I'm ready for another bite."

"It's the good sweet cream those people brought," said Mrs. Crane.

"I hope," murmured Billy, between bites, "they'll come often."

"I don't," protested Mabel. "Visitors are a nuisance--they stir things
up too much."

"Her mother scrubbed her," laughed Henrietta, "and brushed a lot of
sand out of her hair--didn't you hear terrible wails? But Mabel was
glad to see her mother, just the same."

The threatening clouds that had so alarmed the two launch-men passed
harmlessly over Pete's Patch; and the next day proved so fine that
Billy was moved to a hammock under the trees, where the overlapping
leaves of huge maples formed a most attractive roof. The change agreed
with him; fortified with fresh eggs and fresh air he grew stronger with
astonishing rapidity; a rapidity that proved alarming to Mrs. Crane;
for, like Bettie, this new invalid was no sooner on his feet than he
made tracks for the alluring lake.

"If I had a bathing suit," said Billy, when Mrs. Crane had, for
the fourth time, forbidden him to wade in the lake, "I'd go in
_swimming_--then you couldn't pull me out so easily."

"But, Billy----"

"All right, I'll be good," promised Billy, "but that's a mighty fine
bunch of water--say, couldn't you _make_ some swimming tights for a
chap?"

"When you're strong enough to swim," agreed Mrs. Crane.

Physically, young Billy improved by leaps and bounds; but the stronger
he grew, the more he worried over his strange lapses of memory.

"Sometimes I dream things," complained Billy, one day. "And when I wake
up I wonder how much of it is true. Last night I thought I was falling
down, down out of an airship and I called 'Mother, mother! I can't find
my umbrella.'"

"Have you a mother?" asked Jean, quickly.

"I don't know. But I think so--I dream of some person who says: 'Now
don't do that, Lad--Lad----'"

"Laddie," supplied Bettie, promptly.

"Laddie!" shouted the boy. "That's it--it didn't get away _that_ time."

"Sometimes," said Laddie-Billy, another day, "when Dave comes into
sight, I _almost_ call him by another name; but the name doesn't quite
come--I think I've known somebody--in a boat, perhaps--that looked like
him."

There were many things, fortunately, that the boy had not forgotten. He
handled his knife and fork properly, ate his soup daintily, and proved
later that he had once been able to row a boat; though at first, of
course, his strength had been unequal to very strenuous efforts with
the oars. In spite of his unhappy experience with the lake, he seemed,
strangely enough, to be exceedingly fond of the water and to feel not
the slightest fear of it. Mrs. Crane, indeed, would have been glad to
find him more cowardly; for, long before the purposely delayed bathing
suit was ready, Billy had gone in swimming in his only clothes. Also,
it was next to impossible to keep him out of the boats.

Time proved, too, that the water-loving castaway was a bright lad. He
could read and write very readily in English, knew a little French,
and was rather clever at figures. Often, when glancing through the
advertising pages of magazines, his expressive face would light up
and Laddie-Billy (as the girls now called him to please Mabel) would
exclaim, joyfully: "I've seen _that_ picture before."

But the things that the curiously afflicted boy _wanted_ to remember
refused obstinately to come; and this grieved him sorely.

"I suppose," said Billy, one balmy evening, when all the youngsters
were roasting potatoes between two glowing logs, "I'm really well
enough to go home, but--but where _is_ my home?"

"You needn't worry about that," assured Mrs. Crane. "We're more than
willing to keep you right here--as long as you don't tumble out of
those boats."

"Yes," added Mr. Black, heartily, "we really need a boy to help us when
Dave is busy breaking the game laws. I'm only afraid that Saunders will
come along some day with an answer to that advertisement. You're well
worth keeping, my lad."

"I'm glad of that," smiled Billy, cheered by these kindly assurances.
"I'll try to be, anyway."

"We _all_ like you," declared Mabel, "even if you _are_ getting fat."

"Am I?" queried Laddie-Billy, anxiously. "Gracious! If I do, these
clothes--can it be that I'll come to wearing a blue plaid bathing suit
_all_ the time?"

For Mrs. Crane, for want of other material, was slowly converting her
biggest and most gorgeous gingham apron into a decidedly queer bathing
costume for her lively charge.

"The bagginess," Mrs. Crane explained, when the castaway suggested
mildly that part of the cloth might be saved for other purposes, "will
fill up with air and keep you from sinking."

And naughty Henrietta had added, under her breath: "Behold Billy
Blue-eyes, the Human Balloon."



CHAPTER XXIV

A Mutual Friend


DURING the blissful summer that Jean, Bettie, Mabel, and Marjory had
spent in Dandelion Cottage, and before the coming of Henrietta, the
little girls had frequently found themselves in need of real money for
their make-believe housekeeping. In order to procure the needed funds,
they had rented a room to a charming young woman named Miss Blossom.

Miss Blossom's father, an organ tuner by profession, visited many towns
in the course of a year. In July, while the castaways were still in
camp, some portion of the Presbyterian organ in Lakeville went wrong;
and skilful Mr. Blossom, summoned to that town to repair it, was
accompanied by his very pleasant daughter. Of course the very first
thing she did was to ask for her young friends.

"We've only three days to spend here," said she, "but I _should_ like
to see those darling girls--I've thought of them so many, many times."

"Suppose," said Mrs. Bennett, to whom Miss Blossom had appealed, "you
go to Mr. Saunders--he may be sending things up."

"Mr. William Saunders?" queried the young woman, with interest. "Oh--I
met him when I was here last summer. Thank you--I'll get father to take
me to his office this noon."

So that is how it happened that the ever-useful Saunders, who had
been commissioned to supply Laddie-Billy with a wardrobe, loaded Miss
Blossom aboard Captain Berry's launch that very afternoon. And then,
feeling certain that the pleasant and very pretty young woman would
be lonely with no one but the captain for company, Mr. Saunders added
himself to the load.

The castaways, always eager for the arrival of parcels from home, were
all on the beach to welcome the unexpected visitors. Even Billy, who
declared that he had never felt better in his life, was part of the
sunburnt group.

"I know," lamented Billy, "that those clothes'll be too small--I've
grown a foot since Mr. Black measured me three days ago."

"Oh, not a whole foot," protested Mrs. Crane, eying her patient with
pride. "But I do think you're a credit to my nursing."

"It isn't everybody," beamed Billy, "that has such a fine nurse--shall
I help with that boat, Mr. Black?"

"No, Dave'll take her out."

"Why!" cried Marjory, "there are _people_ getting into Captain Berry's
skiff."

"I think," said Jean, a moment later, "that the man is Mr. Saunders;
but I don't know the lady--I can't see her face."

"She looks young," said Marjory, with a sigh of relief. "Too young to
be Aunty Jane. Just at first--Ugh! I was scared--Oh! It's----"

"Why!" cried Billy, springing suddenly to his feet and rushing straight
toward the landing place, "it's Miss Blossom!"

"Miss Blossom!" gasped Jean, gazing in open-eyed amazement at the
others.

"Miss Blossom!" echoed Mabel.

"Miss Blossom!" breathed Bettie. "Oh! Look at Billy! It really _is_
Miss Blossom, and he knows her!"

It certainly looked as if Billy, the unknown castaway, had found a
friend; for, not waiting for the boat to land, he had rushed into the
water (it was shallow, you remember, for a long distance) and had
seized the surprised young woman in a bearlike hug.

"Miss Blossom! Miss Blossom!" he cried, hopefully. "What _is_ my name?"

"Why, my dear Laddie," returned the overwhelmed (and almost overturned)
young woman, "what does all this mean? Never before was I so warmly
greeted by any young man. Is this--Oh, I _see_. You're the sick and
shipwrecked boy that Mr. Saunders--but _you're_ not sick!"

"Not any more," gasped excited Billy, still with an arm about Miss
Blossom, as if fearful she might escape. "But I can't remember
anything. Tell me, quick--where did I come from?--who am I? I know
_you_. I pumped the organ for you--a big church--you played--Oh, tell
me, _tell_ me."

"Wait," pleaded Miss Blossom, "until we're on shore--you'll surely tip
us over."

"All right," agreed Billy, reluctantly. But so great was his eagerness
to get his friend ashore that he got behind the boat and pushed.

"Now," demanded excited Billy, the moment Miss Blossom was out of the
boat, "what's the rest of my name? Laddie--Laddie _what_?"

"I don't know," confessed Miss Blossom, coloring with chagrin.
"Honestly I don't, Laddie. You see, so many boys have pumped organs for
us that I don't always remember even their _first_ names."

"But," panted Billy, with a catch in his throat, "surely you'll
remember the name of the town?"

"No--o," faltered Miss Blossom, "I'm afraid I don't. I remember your
face and your very bright hair--I can _see_ that bright head bobbing
up and down in the light of a stained glass window--but I _don't_
know which town or even which state I saw you in. But don't worry,
Laddie-boy. My father has a list of all the organs he has ever mended.
Now, it must be some time within the last two years that you pumped for
us; and it is probable that we stayed with that particular organ for a
number of days, else I wouldn't have had time to learn that you were
'Laddie'--I usually call the organ-pumper 'Boy.' Now, when I've looked
at father's list, I'll pick out all the _long_ jobs, discover what
towns they were in, and perhaps Mr. Saunders, here, will write a notice
to insert in the papers that are published in those towns. Don't worry.
One of them will certainly be your town. And here are all my precious
girls patiently waiting to be hugged!"

Miss Blossom proved a most delightful visitor. The girls wanted to
keep her, Mrs. Crane urged her to stay; but Miss Blossom declared that
she owed it to Laddie-Billy to get back to Lakeville as speedily as
possible. Captain Berry, also, would remain for only two hours; but
everybody visited fast and furiously for that precious interval of
time--it went all too quickly.

"I'm quite sure," declared Miss Blossom, at parting, "that father's
list will help."

"Let me know," pleaded Billy, who had donned his becoming new clothes
without delay and happily found them sufficiently large, "if you find
anything."

"I surely will," promised Miss Blossom.

Three days later, Mr. Saunders, this time on horseback, rode into camp.

"I'm commissioned," he explained, "to say a certain word in Billy's
hearing. Where is he?"

"Getting washed for dinner," replied Henrietta, flourishing the
bread-knife toward the river.

"Don't mention my errand," said Saunders. "I'll spring it on Billy when
we're all at table--I've invited myself to dinner."

"We'll let everybody get seated before we call Billy," agreed
Henrietta. "And I'll warn the girls. You might tie your horse behind
those bushes and perhaps he won't know you're here until you speak."

Sure enough, hungry Billy plunged to his place without observing the
visitor; but when the plates were filled, Mr. Saunders suddenly leaned
forward, looked at Billy, and remarked casually: "The last time I was
in Pittsburg----"

"Pittsburg!" gasped Billy, with widening eyes. "Were you ever in
Pittsburg?"

"No," admitted Saunders, rather sheepishly. "Were you?"

"Yes!" yelled Billy, joyously waving his slice of bread.
"Two-twenty-four Jefferson Street, Pittsburg, Pennsylvania; population
three hundred and twenty-one thousand. _Sure!_ I was _born_ there!
That's where I _live_."

"But how," queried Henrietta, strong in all matters geographical,
"could a person set sail from Pittsburg and be wrecked at Pete's Patch,
Upper Michigan?"

"He couldn't," replied Mr. Black.

"Nevertheless," said Saunders, "I've sent notices to all the Pittsburg
papers--what's that street number again?"

"I--I don't know," stammered Billy. "It's gone again. I guess it's
easier to think when you're not trying to."

"Jefferson Street," supplied Marjory, who had remembered.

Billy nodded. "Yes," said he, "that sounds right. But how did you guess
Pittsburg, Mr. Saunders?"

"In Mr. Blossom's note-book there was an item, under the heading
'Pittsburg,' that read: 'Paid Laddie one dollar.'"

"Wonder where it went?" said the boy, turning his empty pockets inside
out.

"By this time to-morrow," promised Saunders, "all Pittsburg will know
that a Pittsburg boy name Laddie, wrecked on Lake Superior, is alive
and well in--or near--Lakeville."

"Lost:" murmured Laddie, "a brindle pup; answers to the name of Billy.
Well, I'm awfully obliged, Mr. Saunders; and my folks--I wonder if my
folks _want_ to find me? Do you s'pose they do?"

"I'm sure of it," declared Mrs. Crane. "But if they don't, _I'll_ keep
you."

"Nobody'd ever think," sniffed Mabel, overcome with emotion, "that
_I'd_ found that boy--everybody adopting him all the time."

"You found Rosa Marie, too, didn't you?" teased Billy. "Well, I refuse
to be a twin sister to Rosa Marie."

"Who," asked Saunders, "is Rosa Marie?"

"She's a relative," remarked Mr. Black, dryly, "that Dave imported for
the express purpose of eating our berries. Dave, it seems, not only
lives here himself but entertains his relatives at our expense."

"And Peter encourages Dave in all his iniquity," added Mrs. Crane.

"And," laughed Bettie, "Mrs. Crane cooks for Dave and all his visitors."

"Well," admitted Mrs. Crane, "they'd either starve or steal if I
didn't."

"Dave," said Marjory, who had learned much of the Gurneau family
history from the friendly Indian, "has nine brothers and seven
sisters--his mother had seventeen children."

"Good gracious!" exclaimed Mr. Black, "do they _all_ live here at
times?"

"No," laughed Marjory. "Most of them are in Canada."

"Dear me," breathed Mrs. Crane, fervently, "I hope they'll stay there."



CHAPTER XXV

A Captured Fisherman


NOW that there was hope of learning more about Billy Blue-eyes, the
young campers found it hard to wait patiently for possible tidings from
Pittsburg. They were all restless and excited; Laddie in particular
could settle down to nothing.

"We'll all go fishing," declared Mr. Black. "That'll keep Billy's mind
off his troubles. Dave says he knows a trail that will lead us to the
finest fishing spot in the country; so we'll take a lunch and stay all
day."

"Laddie," queried Mrs. Crane, anxiously, "are you strong enough for
such a long trip?"

"Sure," asserted her fidgety patient, "I could pull in a _whale_."

"Then," declared Mrs. Crane, "I'll get Mahjigeezigoqua to wash the
dishes and make the beds, and I'll go, too. I don't care if I do get
rheumatism--I haven't been fishing for _years_. And that young woman
loves to do things for us."

"No wonder," said Jean, "after all you did for Rosa Marie last winter."

"Put on your very oldest shoes," ordered Mr. Black. "You're to wade the
river--Dave says it's shallow all the way down, except in a few spots
where we can follow a trail along the bank. He's cutting poles for
everybody."

For perhaps half an hour, sure-footed Dave, carrying the lunch in a bag
on his back, led the fishing party through thickets that Mr. Black had
supposed impenetrable, to come out at last on the river bank. It was
their own many-curved river, but so wildly beautiful at this seldom
visited spot that even quiet Mrs. Crane exclaimed loudly. Then, their
hooks baited, they waded into the shallow, winding stream, and fished.

"Go _down_ dose stream," commanded Dave. "Bam-bye she's take you back
to Pete's Patch."

"Here, Bettie," said Mr. Black, "I'll show you how to cast your
hook--Phew! Here's a fish for you already--must have been ready for
breakfast!"

Sure enough, a wriggling, silvery trout dangled from Mr. Black's pole.

"There's something running away with my line," complained inexperienced
Jean, a little frightened by this uncanny sensation. "It feels as big
as a rabbit!"

"Pull it in," commanded Mr. Black, "you've got a bite."

So she had, but the fish that had felt "as big as a rabbit" proved
so tiny that Mr. Black put him back to grow; and the apparently
unconcerned little trout made a dart for Marjory's hook. He seemed so
determined to be caught by _somebody_--it didn't matter who--that Dave
dug a little pool in the sand for him.

"Stay dere," ordered Dave, "till dose beeg brodder of you ees have som'
chance for got caught."

"I don't think I want to fish," said tender-hearted Jean. "I'd rather
_look_. Every time I take a step I see a new picture--I'd like to keep
all my eyes for the scenery."

"So would I," declared Bettie, pulling in her line. "Let's just dawdle
along together somewhere out of reach of Mabel's hook--Goodness! Look
at Henrietta putting on her own bait!"

"I did it, too," bragged Marjory. "I couldn't wait for Dave--it's
_such_ fun to see a trout dart out from under the bank and grab your
worm and run away with it."

"You must give a little jerk," instructed Mr. Black. "Just like that."

"Just like this," added Mabel. But Mabel's fish proved to be a log, so
amid much laughter, Dave provided her with a fresh hook.

For several wonderful hours, the happy castaways waded and fished.
Never in all their wanderings had they encountered anything as
beautiful as the overhanging trees, the fern-fringed banks, the softly
gurgling water. And never had fish seemed more willing to bite. Even
Dave was surprised at their voracity. In spite of Mrs. Crane's heavy
floundering, in spite of the number of times that Mabel slipped from
slimy stones to land "kersplash" on her sturdy back, in spite of the
delighted shrieks that came from Marjory and Henrietta at every bite,
the hungry fish flocked to the feast of angleworms.

[Illustration: SEATED ON THE DRY END WAS A STOUT, PLACID MAN]

"Dose worms she's taste lak' pie to dose feesh," explained Dave.

"I'd like it better," grumbled Mabel, whose hook was continually
catching in the trees, "if there wasn't so much underbrush overhead."

"That's certainly a queer place," laughed Billy, stringing his eleventh
trout on the branch provided by Dave, "for _under_brush. Here, I'll
pull it out for you."

The wonderfully happy morning passed all too quickly--there should be
some way of prolonging summer mornings in a trout stream. They had
eaten their wholesome lunch, and Mr. Black, his fine dark eyes aglow
with eagerness, his thick, almost-white hair standing up all over his
head, had fished in a dozen perfectly marvelous holes that Dave had
pointed out, when the castaways reached in their wanderings a point
crossed by a broken-down bridge. One end was still in place; the
other sagged until it was partly submerged. Seated on the dry end
of this flimsy structure, fish-pole in hand, was a stout, placid man,
whose mild, serene blue eyes invited confidence.

Sociable Mr. Black, still aglow with the joy of his unusual luck and
glad of a chance to display his splendid catch, proudly disclosed the
contents of his basket--also of the basket that Dave carried.

Billy, too, and the girls flocked nearer to display _their_ respective
catches. It was certainly a fine showing. Mr. Black, however, had the
lion's share.

"How many did you say?" drawled the comfortable stranger, seemingly
only mildly interested in the count. His apparent indifference, indeed,
proved quite galling to Mr. Black, who had introduced himself and his
party.

"Seventy-two for mine," beamed Mr. Black. "For once we'll have all the
trout we can eat."

"Well, Mr. Black," returned the man, in his leisurely, indifferent way,
"I'm sorry for you; but I guess you'll have to ride to Lakeville in my
buckboard to-night. I'm the game warden; and fifty fish is the limit."

"The game warden!" gasped Mabel.

"The game warden!" gasped Henrietta.

"The game warden!" gasped all the others.

"The penalty," drawled the leisurely officer, "is either imprisonment
or a fine--seein' it's you, you'll probably have to pay a fine."

"I _will_!" exclaimed Mr. Black. "What's that about a limit? I didn't
know----"

"New law," explained the man, lazily. "And some of these here
trout that your kids have caught are undersized; they ain't seven
inches--'nother new law; you'll have to pay for those, too."

"Why, the limit is _six_ inches."

"Used to be, ain't any more," returned the placid person, fumbling in
his pocket for a battered copy of the game laws. "See, here's what it
says."

"I guess you're right," admitted Mr. Black, scanning the pages.

"I'm real sorry," stated the game warden for the second time. "But you
see, Mr. Black, I've got to arrest _somebody_ this week or they'll
think I'm not earning my salary. And I guess you can stand it lots
better'n some."

"Well," said Mr. Black, "I certainly supposed I was a law-abiding
citizen; but I'm willing to pay the piper--it isn't often that I dance
to such a merry tune. Those fish are worth any fine that I shall have
to pay. I'll go down with you to-night if you'll tell me where to meet
you; but I'm going to eat my share of those fish first--I assure you of
that!"

Mabel, who had edged closer to the game warden, now relieved her mind.

"Say," she queried, "you won't put him in jail, will you?"

"Not if he's able to pay his fine," smiled the stout officer.

"Where," she next demanded, severely, "are your leggings?"

"Leggings!" exclaimed the puzzled man. "Why! They don't make any big
enough to go round my fatted calves."

"I don't believe you _are_ the game warden," declared Mabel. "You're
just pretending."

The complacent officer, however, proved his right to the title by
showing certain documents to Mr. Black. But, as Mabel leaned closer to
inspect them, too, her weight upon the rotten log on which the bulky
game warden sat proved too much for the time-worn timber. Down it
crashed, taking Mabel and the astonished officer with it.

Fortunately, the water at this point was sufficiently deep to break
their fall, for the river bottom near the bridge was of solid
sandstone, and therefore pretty hard. Dave plunged in after Mabel, but
permitted the gasping game warden to flounder out by himself. By way of
atonement, Mr. Black invited the victim to supper and later loaned him
some dry clothing. After this accident, the campers, somewhat subdued
but fully alive to the wonderful charm of the day, proceeded toward
home. It was five o'clock when the castaways, hungry but otherwise
none the worse for their long day in the river, finally reached Pete's
Patch; for the point in the pretty stream that was only three-quarters
of a mile away by land was almost a day's journey by water, owing to
the numerous twists and turns of the winding river that was so like
Dave's queer conscience.

"Say, M'sieu Black," said Dave, lingering after the others had turned
toward camp, and speaking in a dreadful whisper very close to Mr.
Black's ear. "Ah'm good frien' to you. Eet ees ver' bad, Ah'm tole
(here Dave's black eye glittered humorously), to broke dose game law;
but eef you ees weesh for hide you'self, me, Ah'm show you som' pooty
good plass. Dose game ward' hunt for feefty year biffore she ees fin'
dose ol' Pete Black. Hey, Pete? You lak for hide on yourself?"

"Thank you, Dave," returned Mr. Black, "but I guess I'd better take my
medicine like a man--a man doesn't hide."

His first plan failing, Dave kindly offered to set the game warden
hopelessly astray, to steal his horse, and finally, as a last resort,
to murder the unsuspecting officer in a variety of ingenious ways. But
Mr. Black declined all these kindly offers and finally convinced Dave
that he didn't mind going to Lakeville, with a good fish supper inside
of him.

The castaways found Mr. Saunders in possession of the camp at Pete's
Patch. He had whittled a shingle doll for Rosa Marie, who sat in rapt
devotion at his feet.

"She hasn't taken her eyes off me since I arrived, three hours ago,"
declared Saunders, rising to hand some papers to Mr. Black. "She's
immensely taken with either my auburn hair or my new tan shoes--I don't
know which. I didn't know, Mr. Black, what you wanted done about this
insurance matter, so I brought the letters to you."

"Mighty glad to see you," returned Mr. Black, "for I'm going to town
to-night. You'll have to stay here till I get back and be a father to
my family. I'm under arrest for breaking the game laws--but wait till
you see what I broke 'em with. Those fish----"

"Any news from Pittsburg?" interrupted Mrs. Crane.

"Not a word. But I've brought letters for all those girls. Their
mothers, aunts, and so forth want to know how they're going to get
them ready to go away to school next fall if you keep them in the woods
all summer. They want to make clothes for them."

"It isn't polite," giggled lively Henrietta, "to answer letters the
moment you get them. And anyhow, who wants clothes?"

"There's just one thing that we do want," said Mrs. Crane, "and that's
news for our Billy-boy. He's so uneasy that he can't rest. In fact,
we're _all_ uneasy--in a state of suspense----"

"Well," returned Mr. Black, "worrying won't hurry matters, so you'd
better amuse yourselves with other things--perhaps Saunders will help."

Saunders _did_ help; nevertheless, it was hard to wait; for by this
time Laddie-Billy was quite certain that he was a friendless waif, a
homeless orphan, or, at best, a hopelessly lost youngster with only
half a mind.

"I'd rather be dead," mourned Billy, bitterly, "than a blithering
idiot."



CHAPTER XXVI

In Fairyland


MR. BLACK, hearing nothing from Billy's people and knowing that
Saunders was an able guard for his precious family, remained away
for three days; for he found a number of matters in Lakeville that
claimed his attention. He paid his fine cheerfully, and declared ever
afterwards that the day's sport was worth all that it had cost him.

Mr. Saunders proved a most delightful companion, in spite of his misfit
clothing; for the tall, slender young man had borrowed stout Mr.
Black's camping costume. Wherever he went he was followed by devoted
Billy and the no less devoted girls. Dave liked him, too. Even Rosa
Marie waddled at his heels and grunted happily when he condescended
to pat her black head or her fat brown hands. It may have been his
undeniably red hair that charmed Rosa Marie, but it was his voice that
pleased the girls; for he proved a decidedly eloquent person. He told
them the most wonderful of fairy tales, recited miles and miles of
nonsense rhymes and several yards, as Bettie said, of real poetry.

But the fairy tales pleased them most because there were so many spots
near Pete's Patch that seemed just like little bits of Fairyland;
and sometimes Saunders' tales were cleverly fitted to these suitable
surroundings. Before the three days were over, the girls were living in
a veritable land of enchantment and went about with such dreamy eyes
that Mrs. Crane was certain that they were all bewitched.

On the last forenoon of the useful young man's visit, Mabel, pursuing
a startled brown rabbit, happened to stumble into the very heart of
Fairyland. The rabbit led her out of Pete's Patch, through thicket and
marsh, to an unsuspected bayou--a little bay that had once been part of
the lively river but was now merely a quiet pond. Mabel found herself
on the very muddy edge of a wide circular basin that was bigger than it
looked. The banks were a tangled, seemingly impenetrable mass of green
foliage, showing occasionally the vivid pink of a late wild rose or the
dazzling white of Queen Anne's lace and meadow-sweet. More inviting
than all were quantities of strange water flowers of shining white that
spangled the glinting surface of the pond. These were new to Mabel and
all hers for the gathering.

"Oh!" gasped the little girl, quite overcome with the surprising beauty
of this hitherto undiscovered treasure, "I guess I've found the Witch's
Pool where the pale Princess was turned into a--Oh! I _must_ get those
flowers for Mrs. Crane; she'd _love_ 'em."

A long, partly submerged log extended toward the center of the pond.
Mabel very cautiously at first, then with more confidence, trusted her
weight to this. If she could reach just one of those elusive flowers----

Suddenly there was a horrible "giving way" under her feet. She clutched
wildly at unsubstantial air; there was a wild shriek followed by a
violent splash. Millions of golden bubbles floated to the surface.

For a long moment that was all that the brown rabbit, safe among the
ferns, could see. Then, a dozen feet away from the broken log, a queer
green object, a most unpleasant-looking object, caught at the slimy
branches of a water-logged, barkless tree that had stood in the pool
for goodness only knows how many years; and, freeing one wet hand,
wiped a veil of emerald slime from its mouth and eyes. The green object
was Mabel; and tumbling right into Fairyland was not an entirely
pleasant process.

Fortunately, a few short stumps of branches still remained firmly
attached to the upright trunk. The plump "Princess" was able, happily,
to find a firm foothold on one of these. Then, with her knees under
water, her arms clasped about the slippery tree trunk, she stood more
or less securely anchored in the treacherous pool, looking not unlike
a green marble statue in the center of a fountain. Fortunately the
water was not at all cold. Fortunately, too, it harbored none of the
horrible things that Mabel imagined might be lurking beneath its
verdant surface. It was because of her fear of possible--or rather
impossible--alligators, snakes, and hippopotami that the little girl's
voice proved unusually feeble when she attempted to shout for the help
that she so sorely needed. At any rate, no one responded.

Although the wonderfully tinted bayou was a lovely spot to look at,
with its green and golden browns in the sunlight, its deep sepia tones
in the shadows, and its marvelous reflections of objects along the
edge, poor Mabel found it hard to be compelled to gaze at it for so
long a time. After the first half-hour, even with blue king-fishers
and many-hued dragon-flies darting down after water bugs, or lightly
skimming the jeweled surface, it seemed a lonely place. As for the
frostlike blossoms that had lured her into the pool Mabel no longer
admired them; and she hated the brown rabbit.

When noon arrived without bringing always hungry Mabel back to Pete's
Patch--never before had she missed a meal--the other campers began to
grow alarmed. By two o'clock the entire camp was scouring forest,
lakeshore, and river banks for Mabel or traces of Mabel. Mr. Saunders
had even loaded Mr. Black's gun and was firing it, at intervals, thus
providing Mabel with a new cause for alarm, since she didn't know that
the gun was pointed toward the open lake. Laddie was searching the
rocks at Barclay's Point, Jean and Henrietta were examining the roads
that Mabel sometimes explored for mushrooms, Dave and Marjory were
following all the more or less familiar trails.

"She's fallen in, somewhere," declared Mrs. Crane, pale with anxiety,
"and is drowned. Nothing else would have kept her away from lunch."

"And she can't get near water _without_ falling in," agreed Bettie.
"But, so far, she's always gotten out again."

Sometimes the hateful brown rabbit, safe on dry land, bobbed up to look
at Mabel. Sometimes a saucy squirrel ran along an overhanging branch to
scold loudly at the little girl. Once a big mud-hen waded into sight,
then, suddenly discovering the discouraged "Princess," fled with an
alarmed--and alarming squawk.

"I suppose," groaned Mabel, "I'm missing a million things. Most likely
Mr. Black is back with splendid news for Billy--I'm sure he'll turn out
to be somebody perfectly grand, like a young duke or the only son of a
mayor. Or Mr. Saunders is telling that loveliest-of-all fairy tale that
he promised to save for the very last. And I _know_ they'll eat every
crumb of those splendid huckleberry pies that Mrs. Crane was making
when I left camp. And, oh! What'll I do when it gets dark?"

But Mabel, happily, was spared this last horror. At three o'clock
Mahjigeezigoqua, Rosa Marie's really beautiful mother, parted the
branches that fringed the pool and peered at the strange object upright
in the water.

"Oh!" cried weary Mabel, in sudden excitement, "do come and get me--a
rope, a boat, anything----"

"Can you hol' on som' more?" demanded the young woman, testing the
ground with a cautious foot.

"Yes, yes," cried Mabel, almost letting go in her joy. "Only please
save me soon--I'm awfully tired of this place--I've been here for
_years_."

"Ah'll breeng ma brodder," promised the dusky beauty, slipping
noiselessly away.

It seemed another year before Dave finally came, bounding like a deer
through the thicket, with his sister at his heels. Dave plunged in--he
had learned by this time exactly how to rescue Mabel from all sorts of
watery graves--and soon that relieved young person was safe on some
very black, oozy mud that, ordinarily, wouldn't have seemed so pleasant
underfoot.

There was great rejoicing when this frequently cast away castaway,
still well besmeared with green slime, was escorted by Dave and his
pretty sister to Pete's Patch.

"Geeve her som' bat' hon de lake," advised Dave, before disappearing in
search of certain herbs for which he had found a use.

Mrs. Crane, feeling that Mabel had been sufficiently punished for
her thoughtlessness without being scolded, hastily prepared a hot
meal--after all, she _had_ saved Mabel's share of the pie. Then, while
Mrs. Crane was setting a place for her, the culprit, escorted to the
lake by Jean and Henrietta, was thoroughly scrubbed, rubbed dry, and
hustled into clean clothing.

"Hurry!" cried Mrs. Crane, "or the stew will get cold again."

Just as Mabel was opening her mouth for the first delicious bite, a
brown, sinewy hand deftly placed a dingy tin cup at her lips, her head
was unexpectedly twitched backward, and before Mabel could realize what
was happening, Dave had poured a generous dose of his evil-smelling
herb tea down her unresisting throat.

"Ah'm learn dose good trick off ma gran'modder," explained Dave,
evidently much elated at his success. "Ma gran'modder ver' smart ol'
squaw."

"I wish," choked Mabel, crimson with indignation, "your horrid old
grandmother 'd never been _born_."

"Som' tam'," smiled Dave, sympathetically, "Ah'm used for weesh dat,
too. But dose medicine ees ver' good--mak' you feel all bully hon top
your inside, bam-bye. Maybe you lak' som' more, hey?"

"You go home!" snapped Mabel. "I'll taste that stuff for a _year_."

Dave chuckled as he slipped away. And, however dreadful it looked and
smelled and tasted, the medicine at any rate did no harm; for Mabel
awoke next morning none the worse for either the prolonged soaking,
Dave's unpalatable remedy, or even an unusually large portion of Mrs.
Crane's famous pie.



CHAPTER XXVII

A Visitor for Laddie


THE campers had barely finished breakfast when Captain Berry's launch
chug-chugged into the little harbor; and the girls, still at the table,
were laughing so heartily over one of Mr. Saunders' amusing tales that
they had no suspicion of the launch's presence, at that unusual hour,
until Mr. Black's hearty "Hi there, folks! Isn't anybody up?" made them
all jump.

"Oh," breathed Mabel, evidently much relieved. "They didn't put him in
prison, after all."

"I guess I'd better be getting into my own clothes," said Saunders.
"I'll be going back with Captain Berry, I suppose. I'd _much_ rather
stay."

"There's no need for you to hurry," returned Mrs. Crane. "Captain Berry
always stops for quite awhile; so finish your breakfast in peace."

Mr. Black, now plainly visible from the open door of the dining tent,
was coming up the path from the beach. Behind him walked another
person--a small woman in widow's garb. Her thin, white face wore
an anxious, strained expression; her blue eyes beamed with eager
expectancy, her hands twitched.

As the pair approached all the campers regarded them wonderingly.
Suddenly Billy's cup dropped with a crash. In another moment he had
leaped over the bench and was racing down the pathway.

"Mother!" he cried. "Mother! It's my mother!"

The little woman, laughing and crying together, was seized by this big
whirlwind of a boy and hugged until she gasped for mercy.

"Oh, Laddie Lombard!" she cried. "I--I'm so glad--Oh, do let me cry
just a minute! I thought--oh, _Laddie_!"

Saunders, with a delicacy that still further endeared him to the
adoring girls, silently reached forth a long arm and dropped the tent
flap. Mr. Black, his kindly face beaming with sympathy, pushed his way
in; Laddie, rather close to tears himself, led his weeping mother to a
bench under the trees.

"Her name," explained Mr. Black, seating himself at the breakfast
table between Bettie and Jean, "is Mrs. Tracy Lombard. She wasn't
in Pittsburg; but a friend of hers saw the notice in the paper and
telegraphed her, and she came as fast as she could."

[Illustration: "MOTHER!" HE CRIED. "MOTHER! IT'S MY MOTHER!"]

"Of _course_ she did," breathed Mrs. Crane. "But how did the boy----"

"Billy--Laddie, I mean--wasn't well this spring. It happened that he
was coming down with typhoid; but his mother didn't know that--thought
it was overwork in school. Hoping to benefit him by a change of
climate, Mrs. Lombard, always rather fussy, I imagine, over this one
precious infant, started West with him, over the Canadian Pacific
route. She had relatives in Seattle or Portland--I've forgotten which.
But that part of it doesn't matter.

"The second day after leaving Pittsburg, Laddie became so alarmingly
ill that Mrs. Lombard was glad to accept the invitation of a
fellow-traveler, a motherly, middle-aged woman, who lived in a small
village on the north shore of Lake Superior."

"In Canada?" queried Marjory.

"Yes," returned Mr. Black. "In, as nearly as I could make out from
Mrs. Lombard's description, a very quiet little place across the lake
from Pete's Patch, if not exactly opposite. But so far away that one
wouldn't expect small boats to make the journey. In that village,
however, Laddie was seriously ill; because, by this time, he had
pneumonia in addition to typhoid. For weeks he was a very sick boy.
Then, when he began to mend, his mother found it difficult to hold him
down, headstrong little rascal that he was, with no father to control
him--his father died when Laddie was two years old, and I guess the boy
has had his own way most of the time."

"He isn't a bit spoiled," defended Mrs. Crane. "But go on with your
story."

"Long before he was well enough to walk he was begging to be taken
on the water--he was always crazy about the water, his mother says;
perhaps because most of his ancestors were sailors. On pleasant
days--our spring was unusually mild, you remember--they allowed him
to sit on the sunny veranda of Mrs. Brown's cottage, from which the
lake, only two hundred feet distant, was plainly visible. At first they
merely rolled him up in a blanket; but for the last three days of his
sojourn in that place he had worn his clothes, shoes and all, since it
galled his proud young spirit to be considered an invalid in the sight
of the villagers.

"One day, during the half-hour or so that Mrs. Lombard was busy
changing her dress, straightening her son's room, and so forth, Laddie
disappeared."

"Before he could walk?" demanded Mrs. Crane.

"No, he was able to go from room to room by that time. You've noticed,
haven't you, how quickly he recovers, once he is started? Well, as soon
as he was better he disappeared."

"Where did he go?" asked Bettie. The girls, of course, were all nearly
breathless with interest--no tale told by Saunders had held them so
closely.

"Nobody knows," returned Mr. Black. "Probably nobody ever _will_ know
precisely what happened. However, there was a sociable half-breed
fisherman, sort of a half-witted chap, who had leaned over the fence
almost daily to talk to the boy. The theory is that he asked Laddie
to go out in his boat. The landing was only a short distance away and
almost directly in front of Mrs. Brown's house; but, owing to jutting
rocks at the east side of the little bay, one could easily embark and
very speedily get entirely out of sight of any of the houses. Now, the
chances are that Laddie, or any other boy, invited by Indian Charlie
to go out for a brief sail, would have considered it rather smart to
accept the invitation. Would have thought it a good joke on his mother,
perhaps--the best of boys make such mistakes, sometimes.

"Anyway, Laddie disappeared, and several days later Indian Charlie
was found drowned near a rocky point several miles from the village;
pieces of timber that _might_ have been part of his boat were picked up
after the storm--that same storm that brought Laddie to us. Moreover,
another fisherman remembered noticing a boy with very bright hair in
Charlie's boat, which he happened to pass that afternoon a mile or two
down the shore. The wind was pretty fresh that day, and by night it was
blowing a gale.

"Mrs. Lombard was forced to conclude, when no further word was heard of
Laddie, that her boy had shared poor Charlie's fate--several far more
seaworthy boats were wrecked that night and more than one unfortunate
sailor lost his life. But Mrs. Lombard is now blaming herself for
giving up hope so easily, though she did offer a reward, through the
Canadian papers, for the finding of Laddie's body; and afterwards
the Canadian shore was searched quite thoroughly. It didn't occur to
anybody that Laddie, probably lashed to the mast by Indian Charlie,
probably ill again and possibly delirious, as a result of exposure to
wind and waves, could have been carried across Lake Superior in so
frail a craft as that poor half-breed's boat. But the wind was in the
right direction. How long the boat held together we shall never know.

"Mrs. Lombard learned afterwards that Indian Charlie was considered
far too reckless in his handling of sailboats, and that he hadn't any
better judgment than to take a sick boy out to sea if the boy showed
the faintest inclination to go--and you know how wild that Billy-boy is
about the water. Bless me, Sarah! That poor woman wouldn't wait for any
breakfast----"

"I'll make some fresh coffee this minute," said Mrs. Crane, "but do
save the rest of the story until I get back."

"There isn't any more," returned Mr. Black, taking a drink of water,
"except that Mrs. Lombard reached town at four o'clock this morning,
routed me out at half-past--the advertisement read 'apply to Peter
Black'--and we came here as fast as gasoline could bring us."

"Then _you_ didn't have any breakfast, either," guessed Mrs. Crane,
shrewdly.

"I suspect I didn't," admitted Mr. Black.

And then Laddie Billy Blue-eyes, otherwise William Tracy Lombard,
introduced his pretty little blond mother to all the campers.

"I'm remembering things so fast," said he, "that it makes me dizzy.
Mother seems to be the missing link that connects me with Pittsburg
and everything else. You know I always said that Dave reminded me
of somebody? Well, when mother spoke of Indian Charlie, I _knew_.
For a moment I could feel a boat heave up and down; and in a flash
I saw a dark face something like Dave's, and some rather long, very
black hair, also like Dave's. I could see the face _two_ ways. Once
it was laughing, over a fence top. Then it was all twisted up with
fright--bending over me and scared blue. And while the face looked like
that, there were hands fumbling about my waist----"

"As if," queried Bettie, "somebody were tying a life-preserver----"

"Yes, yes," declared Laddie. "And that dreadful face said things in
a dreadful voice; but I couldn't hear--everything whirled and roared.
Sometimes there was a horrible going-down feeling. Perhaps, after all,
I just dreamed all that, but--but I _think_ it happened."

"And you don't remember getting into any boat?" asked Mrs. Lombard.

"No, I don't," replied Laddie, whose always responsive eyes twinkled
suddenly. "But if it were poor Charlie's fault, it wouldn't be polite
to remember; if it were mine, I'd rather forget it; but I really don't
remember one thing about those days in Canada, except that face like
Dave's."

"No wonder," said Mrs. Lombard. "You were delirious when we took you
off the train and so hazy when you were sitting up that you didn't know
whether you were in Oregon or Pittsburg. You'd been _terribly_ sick.
The doctor said that your splendid constitution was all that saved you.
And to think that you survived that storm----"

"Pooh!" scoffed Billy, "that boat probably lasted till I was tossed
up on this shore. And anyhow, a bath does a fellow good. See how husky
Mabel is--she's forever taking 'em. Say! That girl would fall into an
ink bottle, if you left it uncorked--she just naturally tumbles into
things."



CHAPTER XXVIII

Breaking Camp


"GIRLS," said Mr. Black, when he had finished his delayed breakfast, "I
have a very sorrowful confession to make. I've got to lose you."

"Oh, _no_," protested Mrs. Crane, "not so soon."

"I don't like it myself, Sarah, but all those mothers, grandmothers,
and Aunty Janes came and sat around my office and reminded me that
their precious girls were all going away to school, told me that the
school was _almost_ picked out--they've narrowed down to four--and
dragged from me a promise that I just hated to make. As far as I can
discover, they've bought all the cloth in Lakeville, engaged all the
dressmakers, and are in a fever to try things on. And I promised----"

"To send us all home?" guessed Bettie.

"Yes. A lot of men are coming this afternoon with a tug and a big
flat scow to take the Whale home--I suspect she'll have to go to the
factory for repairs. There'll be room on the scow for us and all our
belongings besides. But cheer up. We won't need to start until along
toward night."

"So this is our last day," mourned Jean.

"Dear me," sighed Bettie, "we'll _never_ have so splendid a time again."

"We'll come again next summer," promised Mr. Black, "unless you get so
young-ladyfied at your boarding school that you won't _want_ to camp."

"You just wait and see," said Marjory.

"No danger," declared Henrietta.

"But," mourned Mabel, "we won't have any Billy Blue-eyes."

"Perhaps I'll get wrecked again," consoled Laddie, "and you can pick me
up some more. But you'll forget all about me before next summer."

"I will not," contradicted Mabel. "I'm going to write to you."

"That's good," declared Laddie; "let's _all_ write to each other."

"Mrs. Lombard," offered Bettie, rather shyly, "we've always wondered
who Laddie would turn out to be. When he asked for a toothbrush we were
quite sure that he was a young duke, or a prince, or--or----"

"No," laughed Mrs. Lombard, "he isn't even a youthful millionaire. He's
just a plain boy. We have enough to live on, to be sure; but after
awhile Billy will have to work like any other man for his living. I
hope you're not disappointed."

"No," said Mabel, magnanimously, "we'd like him, just the same, even if
he were just a coal-heaver."

That last day was spent in visiting all the spots that were dear to the
young campers and in showing many of them to Mrs. Lombard, who proved
a very pleasant little woman, even if she did cling rather tightly to
Laddie when he suggested going out in the boat for a pail of water.

"Well," laughed Billy, "I can just as easily _walk_ out, if you
consider that safer; but it's rather drier to go by boat."

Dave, of course, had to hear all about Billy Blue-eyes' experience.

"Ah'm have som' brudder Charlie wan tam'," remarked Dave, thoughtfully.
"Ah'm scare for go out on som' boat wit' dose fellow maself, w'en Ah'm
leeve hon Canadaw."

"Do you think he _was_ your brother?" pursued Laddie.

"Ah don't know," returned Dave, who evidently was not greatly concerned
by the news of a possible relative's death. "Me, Ah'm got eight-nine
brodder som' plass. Not moch good hon herself, dose brodder, hey?"

But when Dave learned that the campers were about to depart for
Lakeville he was far more distressed.

"Me, Ah'm find eet lonesom' widout dose Jean, dose Margy, dose Mabelle,
dose petite Bet_tee_, dose good Mees Crane, dose good Pete Black, dose
fine Bil_lee_--maybe dose good dinnaire, too."

Even numerous gifts of food, clothing, and cooking utensils; even the
bestowal of Terrible Tim and Anthony Fitz-Hubert (the kitten was now
so wild that only the half-breed could catch him) did not serve to
raise Dave's drooping spirits. Although he assisted in breaking camp,
it was easy to see that he hated the task. He sighed heavily as each
tent fell.

The campers, already looking far ahead, as happy children always do,
toward new scenes and new experiences, trooped merrily aboard the big
scow just at sunset that evening, eager for the picnic supper that was
to be eaten on the deck of the safe, clumsy craft; eager, too, though
they did not realize it, for a sight of home.

The evening was peaceful, the pale lake calm and softly tinted like
a big shining opal. The homeward trip, with so much to relate at the
end of it to the dear home people, promised so much enjoyment that no
actual tears were shed as the tug began slowly to move her heavy burden
seaward. Still, the backward glances were sufficiently regretful; for
Pete's Patch was not a spot to be lightly deserted, and never had
the place seemed more beautiful than it appeared now from the slowly
departing boat.

Dave stood alone on the bank, for his sister was already eagerly
examining the ample store of provisions left for their use. For as long
as they could see him, the girls waved to the solitary watcher. But
long after that Dave strained his eyes after the boat that was carrying
away the dearest friends that he had ever known.

"Ah'm lak' dose peop'," said Dave, with a catch in his throat, as he
turned away at last. "Ver' moch, Ah'm lak' dose good peop'. Me, Ah'm
good frien' to hall dose; until Ah'm go for die hon maself."

At nine o'clock that night the castaways landed safely in Lakeville,
and the picnic that had lasted for weeks instead of hours and proved so
much more than a mere picnic was at an end.

    THE END

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's Notes:

Page 140, "sprinling" changed to "sprinkling" (a generous sprinkling)

Page 141, "beween" changed "between" (stuck out between the loops)

Page 171, "half-breeed" changed to "half-breed" (The half-breed had)

Page 199, "is" changed to "it" (But it _is_)

Page 238, "Ofter" changed "Often" (Often, when glancing)

Page 241, "namd" changed to "named" (young woman named Miss)





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Castaways of Pete's Patch - A Sequel to the Adopting of Rosa Marie" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home