THE GIRL SCOUTS AT SEA CREST
The Wig Wag Rescue
By LILIAN GARIS
"The Girl Scout Pioneers," "The Girl Scouts at Bellaire," etc.
NEW YORK CUPPLES & LEON COMPANY
THE GIRL SCOUT SERIES
By LILIAN GARIS
Cloth. 12mo. Frontispiece.
THE GIRL SCOUT PIONEERS, Or, Winning the First B. C.
THE GIRL SCOUTS AT BELLAIRE Or, Maid Mary's Awakening
THE GIRL SCOUTS AT SEA CREST Or, The Wig Wag Rescue
* * * * *
Other volumes in preparation
CUPPLES & LEON COMPANY, NEW YORK
COPYRIGHT, 1920, BY
CUPPLES & LEON COMPANY
THE GIRL SCOUTS AT SEA CREST
Printed in U. S. A.
I. SAME OLD OCEAN 1
II. THE BOTTLED WARNING 11
III. A COUPLE OF FREAKS 19
IV. MARGARET-BY-THE-DAY 25
V. CAPTAIN DAVE 32
VI. CRABS AND DISASTER 42
VII. A DIFFICULT SITUATION 51
VIII. AT WEASEL POINT 58
IX. THE FIRE AT THE PIER 67
X. PLANNING FOR ACTION 75
XI. AT THE COLONNADE 83
XII. ON THE SANDS 91
XIII. A BLANKET OF FOG 102
XIV. ABOARD THE BLOWELL 113
XV. STRANDED 123
XVI. THE BAREFOOT GIRLS 132
XVII. A RELIC FROM THE ALAMEDA 144
XVIII. THE WIG WAG RESCUE 155
XIX. THE GLORIOUS AFTERMATH 165
XX. A REVELATION 176
XXI. ON LUNA LAND 187
XXII. A COMEDY OF THE ROCKS 196
XXIII. SCOUTS EVERY ONE 204
THE GIRL SCOUTS AT SEA CREST
SAME OLD OCEAN
THREE girls stood on the beach watching the waves—the tireless, endless, continuous toss, break, splash; toss, break, splash! Always the same climbing combers smoothly traveling in from eternity, mounting their hills to the playful height of liquid summits, then rolling down in an ocean of foam, to splash on the beach into the most alluring of earth's play toys—the breakers.
"And we thought the baby mountain at Bellaire beautiful—why this ocean is—well, it is simply bigger and grander than anything I have ever dreamed of," declared Grace. "No wonder the girls out in Chicago long to spend a summer at the sea shore."
"I couldn't even find a word to describe it," admitted Cleo. "Doesn't it look like eternity all spilled out?"
"And the roll is like the origin of noise," suggested Grace. "Now, Weasie, what do you see that looks like—like the original public service telephone company, or the first gas and electric plant? Don't you think those glints of color and sparks of foam may be our first sulphur springs?"
"I never could claim a poetic imagination," admitted Louise, known to her chums as Weasie, "but I might see a family resemblance there to—well—to a first-class Turkish bath. There! How the mighty hath fallen! From the origin of noise and eternity spilled out, down to a mundane yet highly desirable Turkish bath! And girls, mine is the only practical description, for a bath it is to be, ours for all summer! Can you imagine it?"
"And smell the salt?" prompted Cleo. "Since you insist on being practical, no use talking about the aroma of the gods, or the incense of the mermaids. Weasie, I see you are going to keep us down to earth; and I guess you are right. Essays are better in school than done orally on a beautiful beach. But really isn't it overwhelming?"
"I'll admit that much," replied Weasie. "But you see, I have had a glimpse of the beach before. I vacationed here for one week. Then I have been to Atlantic City in winter. That's simply wonderful. But you little Westerners, all the way from Pennsylvania," and she laughed at the idea, "you, of course, have only seen good old Lake Erie. Yes, girls, this is the ocean. Meet Madame Atlantic," with a sweeping gesture toward the ocean. "But look out! That's how Madame Atlantic meets us! Just look at my pumps!"
A vengeful wave had crept in and deliberately splashed the three pairs of new summer pumps, before the girls realized they were being surrounded.
"Well, of all things!" exclaimed Grace. "How did that wave get in without us seeing it? And we standing right there watching it! My shoes are simply done for," and she looked about for a place to sit down and dump out some of the damage.
"That's the way with waves," explained Louise, who now stood sponsor for the ocean and its habits. "You never can tell just what a wave will do."
"I see," said Cleo, trying to plough through the heavy sand without burying the soaking wet slippers. "I suppose we may call this our initiation. Changing time at Pittsburg is nothing to changing pumps at Sea Crest. Let's to it."
"And salt water is ruinous to leather. I know that much," declared Grace. "Weasie, you should have told us to leave our shoes on land and come into the sands barefoot. I suppose that's why all the picture dancers are barefoot on the sands; it's so hard on slippers. There's a barrel. Let's anchor that and divest ourselves. Did you ever see dry land so far away? This sand is as bad as water to plough through."
"Knocks the poetry out of it, doesn't it?" teased Louise. "But don't let's mind. What are mere pumps to all this?"
They reached the barrel which had been washed up on the beach and was quite securely embedded in the sand. On this the three chums took refuge from the ocean water and sea of sand, while they attempted to wring out their soaking socks and hang them on some brush to dry.
"This is such a lovely big barrel," commented Cleo. "Let's sit here, and while our wash dries we can tell marine stories. Grace, you had better put your pumps up farther. That island may be washed away with the next wave."
"I guess I will," agreed Grace. "It seems to me this old ocean knows we are greenies the way it tantalizes us. Now there!" and she placed the two black slippers much farther up from the line marked by the incoming tide. "I hope the next set of waves will be polite enough to keep their distance. Come on to the barrel and let's hear about Madaline. Why couldn't she come down?"
They adjusted themselves again on the great cask, and Cleo proceeded to narrate the details of her recent letter from their chum, Madaline.
"Her folks are going to travel this summer so we can't have our little roly-poly Madaline with us," she explained. "Of course, we shall miss her, but we are going to have Mary. Her rich relations are coming down to the Colonade."
"To that immense gold-and-white hotel over there!" exclaimed Grace. "Then we shall have wonderful times visiting her. And we can see all the dances and masquerades—I suppose they have a very gay season at a hotel like that."
"I saw a circular announcing the opening on the fifteenth," said Louise. "Perhaps Mary will be down then and we may be invited."
"I smell fire," interrupted Cleo, "and there isn't a streak of smoke in sight. Wonder where it can be?"
"I am sure that is fire somewhere," declared Grace. "Where can it be!" and she too sniffed the odor of smoke.
"Oh my!" exclaimed Louise, jumping up and dragging her chums with her. "We are on fire! See, it is in the barrel!"
"And my skirt is burned!" declared Grace. "Just see!" exhibiting a singed hole in her blue serge skirt.
"However did a fire start in there?" questioned Cleo. "Let's see."
But there was no need of investigation, for scarcely had they jumped from their places when a sheet of flame shot out from the open end of the otherwise innocent looking cask.
"Land sakes!" declared Louise. "We were lucky not to be blown up. How did that start with no one in sight to start it?"
"Maybe we touched off a fuse," suggested Cleo jokingly.
"No, I'll tell you," offered Grace. "When we sat on the barrel we shut out the wind from the side, all but enough to create a draft; and the paper must have been smoldering. Now, just look at our perfectly good seat turned into a beach fire! We had better rescue our socks. Maybe those sticks will explode under them, next thing we know."
"Oh, just look here!" called Cleo. "See what I just kicked up! It's a bottle and has a note in it! Maybe it's a warning from the firebug," she finished, dragging from the sand a bottle and proceeding to pull out the paper which had been carefully wound with a cord, the end of which was brought out at the cork. Cleo promptly let the cork pop, yanked the string, and so dislodged the note.
"I knew it," she exclaimed, "a message from the pirates. Listen to this!"
Grace and Louise hopped back to hear the contents of the rolled slip of paper.
"Short enough," commented Cleo. "It simply says, 'Beware of the fire-bug' and it's signed 'The Weasle'. Well, I never! Beware of the fire-bug," she repeated, "and not a human in sight that fire-bug fires. And signing himself the Weasle! Must be pretty snappy. Well, I say girls, as early as we thought we were getting down, before all the other schools were dismissed, the little old fire-bug got here first. What do you make of it?"
"Maybe some one comes in by boat from some island, and leaves the fires to start up with a clock signal, like they do it in the movies," suggested Grace.
Louise and Cleo laughed the idea to scorn.
"Can you imagine an island in the ocean?" asked Louise. "And just look at the writing of this note! It is a perfectly modern school hand. Some small boy I suppose, who has been reading too much Captain Kidd. At any rate let us be glad we didn't burn up more skirts, although it is too bad to spoil that splendid new serge, Grace," she finished, commiserating with the girl who was just then judging the size of the hole burnt in her skirt by trying to view the sun through it.
"Oh, perhaps I can fix it," speculated Grace. "It's a very nice round hole, and I may cover it with a patch pocket, though it would be rather low down to trust my wealth to it. However, it is all right. And the fire will finish drying our socks and pumps. And also, we have something to remember in our first beach fire. I have often read of them. They usually toast potatoes and things in the fires, don't they?"
"Marshmallows," corrected Louise, quite well informed on beach lore. "We'll have a marshmallow roast when enough of the girls come down. But it is nice to get here first and find everything out. When the other schools close next week I suppose we won't be able to find one another, with the crowds that will flock to this beach. And just now we have it all to ourselves," she finished, looking up and down the vast expanse of territory known as the ocean front, and therefore quite as extensive as the stretch of the ocean itself.
"All the same," insisted Grace, smoothing again the rolled slip of paper which Cleo had handed over. "I believe this is written by someone——"
"We all do," interrupted Cleo with a smile.
"I mean some one who is a firebug!"
"Oh, come now," teased Louise. "I don't believe you are as sensational as that, Grace. Firebugs don't grow in the ocean, like crabs. Just see that funny crab trying to get in your slipper. You don't suppose he can write notes, and start fires, do you?"
"And here's another sort of monster," called Cleo, who was poking in the sand near the edge. "I believe this fellow could do most anything if he had the tools. Just look! Isn't he horrid looking?"
"Ugh!" exclaimed Grace, "I'm glad I never eat fish!"
"That's a skate," explained Louise. "No one eats that sort of fish. Isn't he ugly?" and a determined thrust with her beach stick (a piece of bamboo salvaged from the drift wood), sent the dead monster out into the deep.
"If I had a pencil, I would put an answer to that letter in the bottle," proposed Cleo. "We might get a lot of fun out of it."
"And we might also get a visit from friend fire-bug," cautioned Grace. "And I don't know whether our cottage is insured or not. But I do know it has lovely furniture and mother says it's a perfect joy to come into a house, all spick and span without having to do the spicking. No, Cleo, please don't invite the Weasle to call."
"I have a tiny dance card pencil," offered Louise. "Let's write a note just for fun. Of course, no one will ever find it."
Cleo ran up the sand to the board walk where bits of paper could be seen flying in the early summer breeze. She returned, presently, with a piece suitable for their pirate message.
"Let's write a scary answer," she proposed. "Here, I'll say 'Wild Weasle, take heed! We have seen your sign and will return for vengeance!' Signed 'The Pirates!' There!" she concluded. "If any fire-bug finds that maybe he will take heed. Where's the bottle?"
Louise produced the erstwhile soda water container, and into this the girls' letter was poked, with the poke-string left out at the cork, as per sample.
"We're beginning early," said Cleo. "Louise, I'm glad you know the beach. You may save us from disaster, although we have had so many experiences first out at Flosston, then last summer at Bellaire. I suppose, like trouble, adventure is bound to come to those who seek it. Now, we are all ready. Have the right shoes on the right feet, have buried our Pirate Threat, and so let's go back home. I'm just crazy to show you the love of a cottage we have."
"I thought ours was the very prettiest," said Grace, "but we shall inspect yours first, Cleo. Then look at mine, and if Louise——-"
"Certainly, I want you to come over and see my sleeping porch. I hardly believe there is one prettier here. Come along."
"We should have called out the department," said Cleo. "Just fancy them extinguishing that hole in your skirt, Grace!"
And the romp from the beach echoed with their merry laughter for all could vision Grace under the fire hose!
"This way to the Log Cabin!" announced Cleo leading her friends from the boardwalk along the Avenue to her quaint summer home. "Now, for our first inspection!"
THE BOTTLED WARNING
"OH, how curious!" This from Grace.
"Like a mountain house at the seashore. All field stones and rustic trimmings," commented Louise.
"We think it simply great," declared Cleo. "Come along till I show you the big attic. It was built for a studio, and looks right over the ocean. I never dreamed seashore landlords could offer for rent such a wonder house as this."
"Folks tire of things so easily, and continually long for change, I suppose," said Louise. "But you were lucky to get this, Cleo. I fancy one of the many artists coming here would love to have found it first."
"Can you imagine an entire house trimmed with rough cedar? And just see the length of these cedar beams! Fully forty feet; they go straight from one end of the house to the other," declared Cleo, proudly pointing out the novelties of the Log Cabin.
"And just see here!" exclaimed Grace. "A real dogwood tree trimmed with the most perfect paper flowers. Isn't that simply lovely!"
This last found attraction was a novelty indeed, for it was nothing less than a fine sized dogwood tree standing against a latticed cedar screen; and this tree of natural wood was decorated with perfectly made paper flowers—quite as if the original blooms had developed into the "everlasting" variety. A wonderful fireplace of field stones opened in the living room, and sent its tower clear to the studio on the third floor; while every board and stick in the cottage was either of rough natural cedar, or the same wood chastened to bring out the marvellous tones of color that can only be described as cedar.
It was, in truth, a remarkable summer home; and while we leave the girls here to explore its glories, we may take a moment to recall the other two volumes of this series: "The Girl Scout Pioneers; or Winning the First B. C." and the second "The Girl Scouts at Bellaire; or Maid Mary's Awakening."
In the first we were treated to an intimate view of girl scouting as it is worked out in the groups known as patrols and troops. The True Tred Troop of Flosston, a Pennsylvania mill town, was composed of a lively little company indeed, and these American girls were given an opportunity of working and lending influence to a group of mill girls, whose quaint characteristics and innate resourcefulness make an attractive background for our story picture.
How the runaway girls were reclaimed, how a little woodland fairy, Jacqueline, worked out a scout fantasy, and how a very modest deed won the first Bronze Cross, makes the first volume of this series a book calculated to inspire as well as to fascinate the reader.
The second volume: "The Girl Scouts at Bellaire," narrates the remarkable experience of our True Treds in a mountain town in New Jersey, where, while spending a vacation, they discover Maid Mary, the orphan of the orchids, a child of strange fancies and queer tropical influences, who has been made a victim of the orchid seekers to the extent of being kept from her relations until the rare bulb is found by the Girl Scouts.
The glory of the orchids, with their delightful colors and their rarest of perfumes, permeates the story, while the vague, subtle influence of queer foreigners lends sufficient clouds to bring out the real beauties of the tale. The Girl Scout Series is intended to furnish the best sort of good reading in an attractive style, suited at once to the needs of the girl's mind, and her natural enjoyment of the story, while it will stand the most critical censorship of parents and caretakers of the plastic minds of young girls.
And now our girls are ransacking the Log Cabin from roof to landing, (there is no cellar to the beach cottage) and on this the first day of their vacation at Sea Crest, hours are all too short in which to cram the joys of exploration.
"I have never seen a place like this," declared Grace, when all three scouts came to a halt finally on the low couch under the indoor dogwood tree. "We can have lovely parties here, can't we, Cleo?"
"Surely," agreed the hostess. "But girls, what shall we do about scouting this summer?" she asked, diverting suddenly to a more serious question. "You see, there is no troop here, and it is such an opportunity for good scouting, with all the wilds of the ocean and cliffs, as a background. I feel perhaps, we should organize. Suppose we organize a summer troop of just our own girls? Margaret and Julia will be here this week, and you know many more from school will be down later."
"Oh let's call ourselves the Sea Gulls. Then we would have an excuse for taking rides in that airplane that goes up from the park," suggested the ever venturesome Grace.
"I'd like it," agreed Louise. "Then, too, we could wear our uniforms a lot, and I am sure I shall have to wear something to help out on cutting down laundry until real hot weather. Do you know, girls, there is no such thing as obtaining help? And our Susie insisted on getting married, so would not come down with us."
"And mother wouldn't even try to get a perfectly strange maid," said Cleo. "I don't mind helping out by wearing a uniform on cool days, but I don't believe I should enjoy doing a lot of housework. I would rather go scouting for maids," she insisted.
"We might even do that," replied Grace, "but now let's hie to the next cottage. I think mine is next."
It was so early in the season that not many of the summer places were open, but in almost every cottage workers were busy, opening the boarded windows, (all windows on the ocean side have to be boarded up to withstand the winter storms) fixing up the grounds, opening garages, and generally preparing for the summer influx.
"Here we are!" announced Grace, leading her companions up through the well groomed lawn, then under the rose arch over which the word "Rosabell" was wrought in rustic characters, with the rose vines threading in and out, and punctuating each letter with sprays of buds almost ready to bloom.
"Oh, isn't that pretty!" enthused Cleo. "I believe the light dainty cottage is really prettier than our gloomy old log cabin."
"And such porch furniture!" enthused Louise. "You can have a lovely scout meeting out here Grace. Let's hurry and organize so we can have a meeting," suggested Louise in sincere compliment to "Rosabell."
Within the cottage the rooms were all done in a chintz and hung in wonderful gauzy draperies, almost unknown to city houses, but quite indispensable to the summer resort.
"And wait until you see my room," Grace told her friends. "I am sure you will like it."
"Oh, a marine room," exclaimed Cleo, as they entered a corner all decorated with sea trophies, including star fish, the sword of a sword fish, tortoise shells, even fishing rods and queer tackle hung on the background of seine or fish net, that almost covered one side of the marine green walls.
"I chose this room although Benny wanted it," said Grace, "but I had first choice, so he got an extra play room over the garage, where boys' noise would not sound quite so telephonic," she ventured. "I wondered why people left this sort of thing up in a summer cottage, where usually, they say, things must be so sanitary and practical, but it seems the boy who owned them was a Jackie, and his mother wouldn't have the room disturbed."
"Sakes-a-live!" exclaimed Louise. "He may come in the window some night while taking a stroll in his seaplane, Grace. Better keep a screen in this lovely long window," she admonished.
"Oh, I shall, although I just love Jackies and intend to make a lot of friends down at the life saving station. That is where we ought to be able to apply some choice scouting," said Grace, rearranging a row of green bound books, that, like everything else in the room, harmonized in the marine effect.
"Don't go turning crabbed, or getting fishy, or even mermaiding in this room, Grace," teased Cleo. "It is so effective I should rather fear the effect taking root. Just look at this real little alligator and he is actually strong enough to sit on! Did you ever see anything so cunning?" The real little alligator or crocodile was actually standing on his short hind legs, and in his front (shall we say paws?) he was holding a flat piece of wood that served for the seat of the queer stool. It was all very novel, and everyone decided "Rosabell" was one of the prettiest cottages in Sea Crest.
"And having decided to organize the Sea Gulls," Louise remarked, "I think this would be a particularly appropriate place to hold our initiations."
"But I thought Cleo had formed a pirate's league?" teased Grace. "Suppose our Captain Kidd fire-bug discovers who set off the beach barrel fuse, and comes around for vengeance some night? Whoo-pee!" and Grace demonstrated the revenge with an indescribable arm swing not listed in her Swedish movements.
"I do think that is sort of queer," commented Cleo, "how that fire started, and the way it burned. Did any one smell oil? All big incendiary fires are oil soaked always, you know."
"It might have been oil or it might have been fish bones, but I did not notice any pungent odor," declared Louise. "And now for my cottage. I am afraid there are no thrills left, so don't be too much disappointed."
"I am sure we will have enough thrills to applaud you, Weasie dear," said Grace. "It is so nice to have you with us this year. Of course we are going to miss our baby Madaline, and it is a shame we cannot all come to such a lovely summer place, but having you along does compensate. And we are always hoping Madie will come later on. When will Julia and Margaret arrive?"
"Early next week," Louise replied, "and Julia has the loveliest new car."
"So have we, and so have you, and so has Cleo," replied Grace, rather discounting the glory of the first mentioned. "They may not all be quite as high-class as Julia's, but I am sure they are each perfectly first rate. Here is ours coming in just now. Let's hop in, and Lenore will run us over to your place, Weasie."
A COUPLE OF FREAKS
LEONORE, an older sister of the vivacious Grace, very willingly picked up the trio, and presently they were contrasting the ocean air as breathed at a speed rate along the ocean front, to the same air as gathered "by hand" from a stationary position.
"It's like drinking air," commented Cleo. "This is surely liquid air if there is any such commodity."
"I want to stop at Borden's for a paper," said their driver, Leonore. "Grace, will you kindly hop out and get it?"
The opportunity of inspecting the big pavilion which was just opened that day for the season, was eagerly grasped by all three girls, who promptly decided there were many and various things they all needed; all of which might be bought at Borden's, so they hopped out with conspicuous alacrity.
"Isn't this splendid!" enthused Grace, almost dancing across the well polished floor. "We will be sure to want a lot of ice cream this summer."
Over in a corner a queer looking girl was counting and recounting a lot of small change. First she would finger it from one hand to the other, almost counting aloud; then she would drop each coin on the table and its ring counted aloud for her. This attracted the attention of the Girl Scouts, who without speaking of it, were all watching the process with interest.
"Wealth," whispered Louise, "and newly acquired, I guess."
"Going to treat the world," said Cleo under her breath. "Too bad they are all out of balloons."
The girl had finally decided to spend one pile of the coins she had heaped before her, and the other she brushed into a little muslin bag, tied it with a black string and then stuck it carefully into the neck of her blouse. As if conscious she was being watched she shuffled awkwardly, then made her way to the end of the counter, where the one-time penny candies were sold.
"There!" exclaimed Cleo, when the girl was well out of hearing. "She is surely a queer character and worth watching. How do you suppose she ever came by that famous collection of modern coins."
"Why, she earned them, I should say," guessed Louise. "That's the sort of girl always available for a mind-the-baby job."
As the girl waited to make her purchase she kept turning, very boldly, to stare at the scouts, who were vainly trying to hide their interest in the queer character. Evidently she had no misgivings concerning her interest in them.
First she would shrug her shoulders, then tilt up her broken straw hat, kick the heel of one "sneak" against the other, until finally the clerk spoke sharply to bring her attention to the point of buying candy.
It took her some time longer to make her selection and again in counting out her money she made quite an unnecessary display. A spill of the coins brought an ill-concealed titter from Cleo and Grace, and this the girl so sharply resented that Louise edged her chums to the other side of the room for safety.
"Fierce!" commented Grace. "Think she bites?"
"Might," replied Cleo under her breath.
Louise was ordering stamps, and her friends pretended to examine the alluring display of new post-cards.
"Oh, my!" whispered Grace. "What is this we have come upon? Please look over in that far corner!"
They followed the direction indicated and saw there a very tall, awkward boy, pouring over a badly worn book, and making notes on a slip of yellow paper. He wore glasses, and possessed that queerly undefinable personality, usually ascribed to the gawky boy, or he who is different from others.
"Look!" begged Louise grasping the arms of Grace and Cleo. "He has the same kind of paper we found in the bottle!"
"Our fire-bug!" breathed Cleo, edging away in mock alarm. "Behold his avenger!" and she held aloft a pretty yellow lolly-pop lately chosen from the candy case.
The boy never noticed those about him, but literally poured over his book and dug notes out with a stubby pencil.
Meanwhile the girl with the bag of coins had procured her confections, and was now counting her change. As she passed the girls she looked boldly at them and actually stuck out her tongue!
Grace roared laughing. The outburst caused the boy in the corner to drop his pencil and stare.
Then Cleo laughed; Louise joined her, and all three bolted for the door.
"Oh, I thought I'd choke," gurgled Cleo. "Did you ever see such circus folks?"
"But the boy with the yellow paper may be writing us another letter," hazarded Grace. "We should have gone up boldly and confronted him."
"I was more interested in slip-shod Letty," said Louise. "She looked real daggers, and what about her threat? She almost shook her fist at us."
"Oh, she'll be sure to love us, that's certain," commented Cleo, "but I don't see why we should let her act so bold. We ran as if we were afraid of her."
"We were afraid of ourselves—thought we were going to get into a fit of laughing," admitted Grace.
"Come on," urged Louise. "Leonore will be out of patience."
"I thought you were going to buy the store out," said the waiting girl, impatiently pressing the self starter button and the car rumbled off.
"No danger," replied Grace. "But we saw the funniest folks," and she proceeded to tell of their near-encounter with the girl they named Letty, and then mentioned the glimpse they had of the queer, studious boy.
"A couple of freaks," said Leonore, as the car picked up speed. "There are plenty of them around here, and you little girl scouts better watch out. Some one may find you off your guard," she finished good-naturedly.
When the girls settled down they exchanged opinions on the morning's experience. No little country coin collector could open fire on them that way, without paying some penalty. Not if they knew it.
"And think of her sticking her tongue out," exclaimed Grace. "Of all the rude tricks!"
"I do believe she would have punched me if she had dared," remarked Cleo.
"Well, she had better wait—just wait," said Louise with a threat in her voice. "We are sure to meet Letty again and then—just wait!"
"And the boy with the yellow paper," Cleo reminded her chums. "What about him?"
"There's plenty of yellow paper," replied Grace, "but of course he might be our fire-bug. He looked sort of unconscious."
"Didn't notice you looking at him, that was queer," teased Louise.
"Oh, I think I saw your gray eyes rolling over in his corner," fired back Grace.
"Not even the entire volley brought him to his senses," put in Cleo, "for I must admit I was looking over his way myself."
"Well, here we are. Thanks for the lift, Leonore," said Louise as the car stopped in front of the glistening white cottage, one of the show places of Sea Crest.
"Oh, how fine!" exclaimed Cleo. "Like Crystal Palace, so white and shiny."
And then began the third lap in their inspection of the summer cottages.
"WHY shouldn't we do it?" argued Margaret, who with Julia had joined her chums at Sea Crest. "I think it would be just as much fun as playing a game, and heaps more useful."
"Mother would hardly allow us," drawled Cleo. "She might appreciate our courage, but to really try doing a washing!"
"Why not?" insisted Grace. "I'm just dying to try one of those motors. I think it would be almost as exciting as driving a car. Do let us Cleo. You know how it works."
"Yes, I know how to touch the button and turn on the switch, but how about making the starch?"
Everybody joined in the laugh that followed the admission of not knowing the common kitchen starch process, while having an idea of a modern electric appliance.
"That's what ails our domestic science class. We study the washing machine, but omit the starch," said Louise. "Well, suppose we do just that and don't bother with the stiffness."
Teased into compliance Cleo led her chums to the out-of-door laundry, which was built as a part of the bathing houses just off the kitchen.
It might have been the lure of the nice new, white washing machine, with its buzzing electric motor, but whatever the cause the girls finally succeeded in winning Cleo's permission that they try it.
"I'm going to be boss," insisted Margaret, rolling up her sleeves with more gusto than seemed necessary, for in the process her fist came in contact with Cleo's eye.
The friendly bout that followed delayed the washing somewhat, but the scouts were at least on their way.
They had the log cabin all to themselves; and the manner in which they took possession might have been taken to indicate they had the world to themselves, for they made quite as much noise as a real troop, instead of the prospective summer troop they were forming themselves into.
"Now first," ordered Margaret, giving her skirt a very effective but unnecessary hitch, "first we sort the clothes."
"Ye-s—" agreed Julia. "But h-o-w?"
"Why just sort them, of course," evaded Margaret.
"Into nice neat little heaps," offered Cleo, stretching out a sheet on the narrow floor, and thereby doing deadly damage to the white muslin.
"I know that the table linen should be absolutely separate," declared Julia authoritatively, beginning on the small collection of table stuff. "Please Grace, fetch me the basket."
"I need the basket for my collection," objected Grace. "Mine is much the most. I have the underlies," she catalogued, holding up a dainty hand-made camisole that was surely never intended to enter an amateur washing contest.
"Lovely," exclaimed Louise, dropping a pair of silk hose into the neat little pile of table linen.
"There," cried Margaret. "We surely didn't undertake this as an inspection. Let's get right at the wash, Cleo, please put some water in the machine."
"However do you do that?" asked Grace in genuine awe, for plainly the washing machine was not connected with any water faucet.
"Why, I have to put that hose on that tub over there and fill it that way," proudly explained the wash-day hostess. "I should think, Margaret, if you are going to be boss you would understand something of the system," she joked.
"Oh, I just love to be Margaret-by-the-day," answered the self-appointed supervisor, "but even she, you remember, did not know all about electric washing machines. Now let's see how the hose works."
But no need to see, they could feel, for the hose had slipped from its niche in the washing machine, and seemed to be pouring out volumes of water on everybody.
"Turn it off," shouted Louise, already pretty wet and surely getting wetter.
To save more direct contact Cleo had pointed the nozzle at the roof, and now a light shower was descending on the erstwhile washerwomen, and their pretty little piles of selected apparel.
Presently the faucet was reached and the hose properly directed into the cylinder, and while the water flowed in, Margaret put down the first batch, which was quite properly composed of the table linen.
"Now the washing powder," called Cleo. "Here it is all nicely stocked and ready. I think it should be very lightly sprinkled on."
"Oh no, never!" protested Louise. "That would simply eat holes in everything. You have to dilute it. I heard our maid say so."
"All right, I just as soon," agreed Cleo, giggling helplessly. "But go ahead and dilute. I'm having trouble enough here."
"Say," inquired Julia innocently. "I thought these electric washing machines did all the washing. Why don't they do it then?" and this afforded a new cause for laughter that simply demoralized the entire squad.
Finally Grace had diluted the washing powder and was pouring it over the linen, regardless of their lovely colored borders, that should never have known anything stronger than the purest soap. Then the cylinder cover was clapped on and fastened (Cleo understood the importance of this), and while all the girls stood at a safe distance she threw in the switch, and touched the button.
Thereat the Girl Scouts' washing went on as merrily as a merry-go-round at a picnic.
"We can go out and play croquet while it washes," announced Cleo grandly. "That's the beauty of these washers."
They agreed that was real beauty, and off they romped to the brand new croquet set, to try their skill at pegging balls under wire wickets.
"I think I'll go in and make the starch," Margaret proposed, as she missed a wire. "Those clothes will be done presently, and we mustn't wait too long between the acts. You know how tiresome that always is."
"Well, if you insist," replied Cleo. "You will find the starch where I got the powder. Just help yourself," and off went the practical Margaret, quite determined to earn her title of "boss."
But there were no directions on the starch box. That was queer thought the little scout, every box should carry its own directions. But of course, it must be very simple to make starch.
One pours water on it surely, she did that. Then one cooks it—Margaret proceeded to do that, and before she could reach a spoon to stir the mass, the lovely white starch had congealed into a big bubbly pan cake, that wouldn't stir, wouldn't turn and wouldn't—do anything, but burn—and my, how it did burn!
"Looks like a real pudding," she told herself in desperation, trying frantically to move the mass from the bottom of the white enameled pan.
The odor of the burning starch brought her companions in on a run.
"What's the matter? Don't burn down the house," implored Grace. "My, that's worse than the fish cake Cleo burned in the mud hole in the woods. You don't make starch solid, Margy, you have to make it runny, all gooy like, don't you know?"
"Of course, I know," retorted Margaret, "but I didn't do this, it did itself. I had it all nice and gooy for about half a second, then it cemented into adamant. There! I hate starch!" she admitted, ending up in a gale of laughter that advertised defeat.
"Oh, run out and stop that motor Louise," called Cleo. "It has been running half an hour."
As the starch making process was being operated in the kitchen, and the machine was out in the laundry, Louise left the former conference to attend to the latter requirement.
"Oh my!" shouted Louise, "Come here, it's shooting sparks all over!"
And just as she said, the motor was emitting a series of flashes that flew around with absolute disregard of aim or purpose.
It took sometime for Cleo to get up courage enough to touch the black button, and when finally the machine stopped the little group looked about at the ruin of their hopes.
Then they laughed, and laughed, and roared and laughed, until Julia ran over to her cottage, fairly kidnapped her own faithful maid, who, to save further disaster, came to the log cabin and reluctantly finished the unfortunate wash.
As the girls hung the pretty white garments on the line, they each decided to make a note of the fact that handkerchiefs and napkins are never starched, and that starch must first be thoroughly dissolved in cold water before boiling water is added. Also, that it is very important to have a spoon in one's hand and begin stirring as the pouring is begun.
But Margaret-by-the-day proved an interesting game, if it did slip a cog or two in its development.
"I WOULD never have believed that real scouts could have failed so miserably in a mere washing," complained Grace; "in fact, I am almost wondering if we should not go into ashes and broadcloth, and ask to be trained laundresses. It seems to me rather humiliating."
"Ashes and broadcloth," repeated Cleo thoughtfully. "Oh, you mean sackcloth and ashes. That's in a different department—Con Grazia, also a different priced goods. But I don't believe we need worry about the laundry work. Mother thought we were perfectly heroic to undertake the task, and she was pleased to death to see the lines of sparkling linens waving welcome to her as she hailed in from the train. Also, she admitted the same starch mistake we made, that of stiffening handkerchiefs when she first tried out the process. So perhaps that's a regular human weakness and not peculiar to raw scouts, rookies, I suppose I should say."
"I am so glad your mother approved, Cleo. I feel better now. I must confess I was rather crestfallen after all our noble, heroic, spectacular stunts. But sufficient unto the day is the trouble thereof, as some one has remarked. Now Cleo, I want to tell you something," and she settled down deeper in the porch cushions at "Rosabell." Also she kicked off a new pair of pumps to remove pedal distractions. "You know Cleo, I have heard that a lot of small fires do start up mysteriously around here. And no one has been able to run down the fire bug. I heard some men down at the Post Office talking about a run the fire department had last night. Away out some place just for a chicken coop. They seemed peeved, as Louise would say. Now I feel we have a clue in that bottle note, but after all our other experiences perhaps it would be better for just you and me to go at the mystery first. More hands always seem to me like more mixups."
"Really, Grazia, you alarm me with your wisdom," replied Cleo, affixing a very foolish giggle to the alarm signal. "I just wonder what will happen if you go getting so mighty wise all of a sudden. But I do think you are right just the same. Many hands mean mighty mixups. That's alliteration. You see I'm sticking to lit."
"I wish you would stick to common sense, Cleo. I am not wishing any hard work on the scouts for this glorious summer, but I feel, I instinctively feel, as Julia says, there is something queer to curiosity in the fire-bug business. Also, I have found my old Jack Tar friend, that I promised myself when we came down. And he is captain of the Life Saving Station just as I planned. Only—well—it really isn't essential, but his whiskers are not quite as long as I planned them to be. But Cleo, I want you to meet old Neptune. His name is Dave Dunham, and he seems to love me already. Come on down and have a talk with him. He has a place like a scene in an old fashioned drama."
"I'd love to go, Grace, and I am just keen on an ocean breeze this A. M. So gather up your pumps, also your feet, and let us away," decided Cleo.
The weather was still cool, and true to their promise the girls were wearing their scout uniform, all khaki, with the thin blouse, so that running along to the life saving station they seemed quite a part of the picture. The real marine sky—that green blue with white clouds as soft as the very foam they roll over, gave the day a finish fit for the true artist's eye, but Cleo and Grace did not stop to admire the tints and tones, whether marine or general seascape.
"How cozy," whispered Cleo as they stepped into the front room of the station, which was fitted up with such comforts as might be essential to the life of the Coast Guard. The big round pot stove was obviously the most conspicuous thing in the room, and beside it such furniture as the long table with its faded red cover, the big wooden chairs, with bindings of wires and telegraph glasses for castors (rheumatic cures, we recall), all these articles fell into the shadows of that big round stove, with its new coat of shiny black iron paint.
"Captain Dave!" called Grace, after looking about for the host. "Are you in?"
"Sure thing, I'm in, right here, comin'," returned a voice which preceded the figure of Captain Dave.
"Good morning, Captain," Grace greeted him. "This is my chum, Cleo Harris, you remember I spoke of her. We are all Girl Scouts, you know," as he eyed the uniform and both girls raised their hand in salute. "Maybe you can give us something to do with all of your life lines, and buoys and such things. We don't know much about life saving on the deep, although we have tried it on dry land," said Grace.
"Welcome," said the old sailor simply. "We don't have hard work this time of the year, but we need the rest after winter. This was a heavy one. More storms than in thirty years," he declared, pulling out two of the heavy wooden chairs, running his hand over them to make sure they were free from dust, then indicating the girls should make themselves comfortable, while he proceeded to occupy a still larger chair that commanded a view of the sea from the broad window.
"Captain, what do you think of all those small fires we hear folks talking about?" asked Grace in her direct way. "Do you suppose some mischievous boys are starting them?"
The captain turned his head to the direction in which he was emitting his clouds of smoke, paused for a minute, then shook his head.
"I dunno," he replied. "I know most of the youngsters around here, and I've never known them to do a thing like that. There was seven good hens burned in that little fire last night, and old Dick Malloney has to depend on selling eggs to get his coffee. It's a shame!" and he allowed his heavy chair to spring forward with a pronounced thud.
"We have only been down a week," remarked Cleo, "but I have noticed smoke almost every morning out in those woods over the river. I suppose some one lives that way, do they?"
"You mean on the island," he explained. "That's Weasle Point, sticks out into the bay and just west is the island; not more than a clump of trees on a few rocks, but big enough to stand the wear, so it is called Luna Land, but children make it Looney Land," he explained. "A couple of huts in there, but no place for you girls to go visitin'," he finished, as if divining the plan already shaping itself in the minds of Grace and Cleo—a trip to Looney Land.
"Why Looney Land?" asked Cleo. "Queer folks out there?"
"Dunno as any folks is out there, but places get named somehow, just like they get trees, no plantin' just come that way. Looney Land doesn't mean anything that I know of except the moon seems to set over there. But one thing I do know," and he made this very plain, "it's a good place for girls to keep away from."
Grace and Cleo exchanged glances. It occurred to each that the forbidden land was very apt to become attractive, but neither said so, nor asked how Looney Land was to be reached.
"You have awful storms in winter, don't you?" asked Cleo, fingering an oil skin coat, and noticing the big shiny hat that hung with it on a wooden peg. "And I suppose you have wrecks occasionally."
"Yes, more than we enjoy," replied Captain Dave. "Had a bad one two years ago. See that little pole stickin' up out there beyond the pier? That's all that's left of the Alameda, and a fine vessel she was, too."
"Lives lost?" asked Grace mechanically.
"Oh, yes indeed, yes indeed," replied the captain. "Some folks around here yet that was thrown ashore from that wreck. I mind one light haired woman, and a youngster—little girl. We took them in here from the line, you know how we swing the rings out on the line, and draw the poor things in? Well this woman was so frozen we could hardly get the child from her arms. She died next day, just as we got her to the hospital."
"What was her name—the girl's name, I mean?" asked Grace, interested now that "life" had been discovered in the specter of the wreck.
"Oh, some simple name—don't know as I recall it rightly. They usually tag on another. We have quite a few folks pass in and out of this station in thirty years—I've been here more than that, and I don't keep no record of my visitors. They are mostly glad to come and glad to go," and the captain lighted a fresh pipe, by way of turning over a new leaf in his story.
"I suppose there were the usual papers for the little girl from the wreck," prompted Cleo. "They always turn out to be somebody of account, lost at sea and found years later on land. You know how stories have a way of shaping themselves, Captain," she apologized, "and I am sort of interested in stories."
"You'll find plenty around here, without concocting them," the seaman promised. "Not a broken oar in that loft but is a record of some boy's courage, and not a boat do we break up for firewood but with it goes many a story of heroism that never was printed," he added eloquently.
"And you think we ought to keep away from Looney Land?" Cleo forced herself to ask, being a trifle reticent about recalling the question Captain Dave had so decisively spoken upon.
"Oh, I don't know as there's any great harm in the little splash of an island," he replied. "But when young 'uns keep saying 'look out' and 'don't go near,' I allus' believe they know what they're talking about. I hain't never hearn any grown up say rightly the place is pested, in any way, but the young 'uns just naturally shuns it, and kids often make a mighty good barometer—can tell when a gale is brewin'."
At this the captain showed signs of having some work to do, so the girls arose and thanked him for his hospitality. They had enjoyed the visit, and on leaving, captain Dave promised to let them see a life drill some afternoon.
"Isn't that queer about Looney Island?" asked Grace, directly they reached the board walk. "Luna Land is a pretty enough name, especially as Captain Dave says the moon sets over there, but 'Looney Land' is different," she declared. "We will surely have to explore those parts, Cleo, even if we do have to take a life saver's kit along with us."
"And did you notice Weasle Point? Of course our fire-bug must belong somewhere out in that sand-bar, and just as much of course, we will have to find out all about the queer diggin's. Better not tell Julie, she is so nervous, and I'm sure Margaret would want to fetch along our only two town police officers, she is so practical. There they are—the girls, I mean. See them just turning around 'B' street? Coo-ee—Whoo-ee!" called Cleo, her hand cupped to her lips to send out the yodle.
Cutting across the little stretch of green that bound Glimmer Lake, Margaret and Julia were soon on the board walk.
"Oh listen!" shouted Julia. "Listen!" she repeated in that useless way girls have of holding off news.
"We are listening, of course," replied Grace, "but get your breath or you'll choke. What's the excitement!"
"That funny girl with the tongue," Margaret managed to say, before Julia could get her breath. "She's the queerest thing. She followed us all the way from the village. We turned corners, and so did she; we hurried, and she hurried, and when we stopped, she stopped. Isn't that too impudent for words? I think we ought to report her," declared the indignant Margaret.
"Report her for doing the things we do?" laughed Cleo. "Why, Margaret, who would think you were a first class scout? I'm surprised," and the girl's voice mimicked the severe tones of a prim elder.
"Just the same," Julia insisted, "I can't see why she should be allowed to plague us and molest us in the streets." Julia was not quite sure "molest" was the word, but it had an important sound and all the girls seemed impressed by it.
"Aren't we special officers?" protested Grace. "Why shouldn't we do our own—our own policing? Let's form ourselves into a squad, and track down the culprit," and she rolled her tongue, as well as her eyes.
"Let us sit down and talk it over," suggested practical Margaret. "I'm ready to drop from all the paces we made samples of to suit our trailer."
"Where did she go?" asked Cleo.
"Ducked into a little shanty with a laundry sign on the fence," replied Julia, "and we were so glad to be rid of her we just raced all the way down B street."
"And look!" said Margaret. "There's our other hero. The boy with the books. See, he is making for a quiet bench, and look! That's yellow paper sticking out of his pocket. Let's watch him! Maybe he will get our bottle letter."
But the studious boy with the books and papers made straight for the bench, and finding a seat proceeded to read. He didn't even notice the girls when they brushed past him.
CRABS AND DISASTER
"ARE you perfectly sure it is safe?" asked Cleo. "Seeing the bottom here doesn't mean we can see it all the way across."
"Why, you could walk across the river, really," replied Louise. "Even at high tide it's not more than a big pond."
"Oh, do come on," begged Grace. "Think of catching crabs."
"But who knows how to row?" demanded the cautious Cleo.
"I do!" called Margaret. "I always rowed out in the pond at Flosston."
"And so do I," insisted Julia. "We go to Lake George sometimes, and I have tried rowing in the smaller streams there."
"And I have always known how to row," replied Louise emphatically.
"That being the case I suppose I must make the crabbing party unanimous," capitulated Cleo, "although I should not enjoy a spill out here so near the inlet."
"We will go up stream, the other way," conceded Louise, delighted at the prospect of their crabbing party. "Come on, here is where we hire our boat, and get our crabbing outfit."
Down to the landing that jutted out into the shallow Round River, the girls hurried to procure their fishing outfit.
"A flat bottomed boat," urged Cleo.
"All right," agreed Louise. "But any big boat will do. There are four of us. One basket and four poles," she ordered from the prim little gray haired woman who kept the stand at the landing.
"And bait," went on Louise, while the other girls marveled at her marine intelligence.
"Oh, what smelly stuff?" sniffed Grace, taking the basket and holding it out at arm's length.
"That's the bait," explained Louise.
"I'm never going to eat fish as long as I live," resolved Cleo. "Each time I meet it it smells worse."
"The same fish naturally would," joked Louise. "But this is only bait Cleo—bait, don't you know what that means?" she teased, swinging the obnoxious basket up to a line with Cleo's face, where avoiding the odor would be impossible.
A boy was unfastening their boat, and he placed the oars in the locks just as the girls reached the water's edge.
"Don't tip," cautioned Julia. "We could at least get wet, even in this shallow water."
Grace and Margaret took the oars, and soon the crabbing party was gliding out among the few vacationists who were taking advantage of the pleasant afternoon on the water.
"Oh, look!" exclaimed Cleo. "There are the crabs! Where's our bait and things?"
"We have to load up first," explained Louise, assuming the role of fisherman. "Get your lines out, look out! Don't tangle them."
"But how do we hook them?" asked Julia, who was gingerly affixing an unfortunate little "shiner" on her line, to serve as bait for the foolish, greedy crab.
"We don't hook them, we catch them in the nets," further explained Louise. "I came out with daddy last week."
"Oh, no wonder you are so wise," said Cleo, struggling with her line. "I simply couldn't imagine what degree of scouting you learned to fish in; because I didn't."
"We recall what a lovely time you had in Allbright woods," Grace reminded Cleo. "But then it was at cooking fish you especially qualified," she added referring to an incident related in "The Girl Scout Pioneers."
"Oh, yes. My explosive mud ball!" assented Cleo. "But this is different. Ugh! I shall never, never brag of clean hands again after this. There, my fish is tied on the sinker; now what do I do, Weasie?"
"Don't rock the boat, that is always first and last orders," replied her chum, "and next, just throw your line out in any direction you choose."
"Oh, I see. You just guess where the crabs are," replied Cleo, quite interested, as her bait was leaving port, so to speak. "There! That's the best part of the fun—taking aim," and she gracefully tossed her flying line out into the water.
The other girls had likewise "cast," and now all were patiently waiting for a bite.
"Now, when you feel a pull," advised Louise, "just bring it up and slip your net in quietly, and scoop up Mr. Crab. There! I've got one! Now watch!"
Just as she had ordered the others to do, Louise now scooped up her net, and in came a good sized blue crab.
"Oh, look out," cried Grace. "Crabs bite fearfully. Louise, you are not going to turn that thing loose in this little boat?" she wailed.
"Don't worry Grace; he goes right in his little basket. There!" and with a skillful motion Louise did turn the squirming shell fish into the basket.
"He's crawling out!" shrieked Julia. "Oh, we should have a cover for the basket."
"No," Margaret said, shaking the basket and thus settling the nervous crab. "He can't get out. He is just exercising. My, how clawy he is! How many like that would it take to make a meal?"
"Quite a few I should think," replied Cleo. "For I know we don't eat the shell. But this is fun. Let me have another try. My turn to land one now," and again she cast out and patiently waited a bite.
The next shout of victory, however, came from Julia's end of the boat, and she presently landed a very large crab, so large and lively in fact, that all four girls helped to get him in the basket.
"Now, they'll fight," murmured Margaret. "See the way they claw each other."
"Come on girls," called Louise. "We'll never fill our baskets if we hold an autopsy over every catch. Here! I've got another," and into the basket went another unfortunate.
"It's just like a game, and I think the chance of grabbing one is as good fun as grabbing at Cross Tag," Cleo remarked. "Oh, there's one, Grace; look at your line dragging!"
And so it went on until the crabs were piling up in the basket and threatening to get out, in spite of the sea weed that was heaped on much thicker than necessary, according to the opinion of Louise.
So intent were the girls on their crabbing game they had not noticed the other craft drifting about them. Suddenly Grace pulled so hard at Cleo's sleeve she almost lost a catch in the attempt.
"Look!" begged Grace. "Over in that boat! Wise Willie, the boy with the book."
They all paused to observe the graceful green bark, in which was seated the boy with the book, as Grace described him. And as usual the book was very much in evidence.
In fact, his oars lay in their locks, and he was drifting aimlessly as if the river were his, instead of the earth, according to Monte Cristo.
"Let's give him a scare and see if he is alive," suggested Cleo.
"Suppose we row up to him and ask him if he knows where the Weasle lives," proposed Grace.
"Oh, please don't," implored Julia, who showed signs of nervousness. "Why should we disturb him—he's only reading?"
"Oh, you like Wise Willie," teased Margaret. "Here's a flower from my belt, toss it to him, Julia."
But in spite of their joking the boy in the boat, all unconscious of the attention he was the center of, merely drifted on, until first one oar, then the other slipped out of the boat, and floated down the river.
"I believe he is unconscious," Grace continued to joke. "Now, of course, we have to rescue his oars."
"Why?" asked Julia innocently.
"Or tow him in, if you would rather, Jule," suggested Louise. "Don't you realize we are bound by traffic laws to assist a stranded boatman?"
"But he isn't stranded, and he doesn't need help," replied Julia with a show of something like temper. "Why should we speak to a strange boy?" she demanded.
"And why shouldn't we?" fired back Cleo. "If he isn't stranded it is because he hasn't struck the strand yet; just watch him."
They dropped their nets and watched the boy, who, bent over his book, drifted along without the least sign of regard for his situation.
Meanwhile the oars had drifted farther and farther away. A passing motor boat swelled the tide to a current and this washed them almost out of sight of the watchers.
"Being a boy we hesitate to hail him," said Louise. "Now, if that were a girl——"
"Oh, if it were," interrupted Julia, with a meaning tone.
"All the same the poor boy may be late for dinner," said Grace foolishly. "Let's hail him!" and she cupped her hands to her lips.
"Please don't," begged Julia. This objection brought forth a perfect volley of cynicism.
Finally, Cleo took up one oar, and Margaret the other, and they proceeded in the direction of the floating propellers. As they passed the boy's boat, the girls spoke loudly of "some one losing his oars," but even this did not arouse him.
"Maybe we'll have to row him home," said Grace. "He doesn't look as if he cared much whether he ever gets back to land or not."
It took but a few moments to get his oars, and again the girls turned up stream.
"Who is going to give them to him," asked Louise, with a foolish giggle.
"We are noble scouts—we are!" mocked Cleo. "Mine be the task! A-hem!" and here a fit of laughter spoiled the proposed effect.
"Here are your oars!" called Grace, before the others could realize what she was about. But no boy answered.
"Say!" yelled Margaret, taking courage from Grace. "Say, boy! Here are your oars!" Still no answer.
Louise took an oar and gave the drifting boat a vigorous shove.
At this the boy did look up, and for a moment he seemed to comprehend; then he jumped up so suddenly he toppled over into the water between the two boats!
"Oh, mercy!" cried the girls, in one voice.
"The river is deep enough here!" exclaimed Louise. "Give him an oar to climb on."
A sudden scream from the boy in the water brought the melancholy news that he could not swim! His boat drifted off as quickly as it was freed from his weight, and the girls were not quite near enough to reach him.
"Hurry, hurry!" begged Louise, who was now rowing. "He may sink, then what would he do?"
But the boy was splashing around making a brave attempt to keep up, and really doing so by the flat handed action with which he patted the water.
All embarrassment was now forgotten, as the scouts pulled up carefully to where the boy was just bobbing up and down, each movement adding to his peril.
"Climb in!" commanded Louise as they reached him. But he could scarcely put his hand to the oar, and the girls noticed his face was blue white.
"Oh, dear me!" cried Julia, "he is fainting or something," and nervous though she was, it was she who managed to get the first grip on the weakened boy.
It was no easy matter to get him into the boat; he was struggling and gasping for breath, and could make very little effort to help himself. Finally, when all four girls had succeeded in keeping the boat balanced and dragging him into it, he gave one painful gasp, closed his eyes, and sank into unconsciousness.
A DIFFICULT SITUATION
"WHERE shall we take him?" asked Grace in dismay.
"To the landing," replied Cleo, who still rowed with Margaret, while Julia clung to the stern of the boat in horror.
The boy looked so lifeless! Could he be dead?
As he lay there his delicate features seemed more than death-like; they seemed dead!
"Oh, mercy, do hurry!" pleaded Grace. "Let me help you pull," she asked, getting hold of Margaret's oar.
The small boat was now over crowded, and it was with difficulty the girls managed to give the boy sufficient room.
"Can't we call any one?" suggested Julia.
"Not any one in sight now," replied Louise. "We spent more time than we imagined. See, it is sun down."
"But what made him go like that?" Margaret whispered. "He had only been in the water a few minutes."
"Maybe the fright," said Cleo, noticing how high the lad's forehead was, and with what evident care he had been dressed. His glasses were still on, and the sunset made ghostly shadows on his face.
"I'm so glad he didn't topple over when I touched his boat," said Louise. "I should have thought it all my fault, if he had."
"Nonsense," replied Grace. "He was bound to fall overboard. He did not seem to know he was on the water. But isn't it too bad there is no one around to call? Every one is gone now."
They rowed as vigorously as their young arms could serve the strokes, and it took but a few moments to get out in a straight line for the pier.
As the girls came within hailing distance of the dock the captain there, seeing something was wrong, hurried to the steps to meet them.
"What's this? What happened?" he asked.
"He fell overboard. Oh, please hurry to revive him," pleaded Julia. "He looks so death-like."
Leaning over the boat the man picked the frail boy up in his arms and carried him up the pier as quickly as it was possible to do so.
"He moved. Look!" called Julia. "See, he is moving! Oh, I am so glad he is not dead."
"He could hardly have died," replied Louise, thus reassuring her nervous companions. "Still, I am glad to see he does move. Do you think we should follow them up there?"
"Oh, see the crowd gathering," exclaimed Margaret. "We can't do anything to help. Let's row out and bring in his boat. We would attract a lot of foolish attention up there."
This was considered the best plan, and without being noticed the girls pulled out again, and only watched the excitement from the distance. Presently they heard an automobile start off from the pier and at this the crowd was seen to disperse.
"I guess they are taking him home in a car," said Cleo. "Dear me, do you suppose it was our fault that he fell overboard?"
"Why, no indeed," protested Margaret. "But we saved him. He might easily have been lost if we hadn't. Somehow he seemed half asleep. He might have really been sleeping. Boys often do that while out rowing."
They managed to catch the drifting boat, and Grace got in this to row. As she did so she could not help observing a number of folded slips of yellow paper that lay tossed aside, in the bottom of the boat. But Grace had no thought of scrutinizing them. Somehow such an act would seem like spying.
Briskly both boats were now rowed back to the landing. No one was near, and when the scouts turned in their oars and paid for their boat, only a boy was at the stand.
"Was he hurt?" asked Cleo eagerly.
"Oh no, just scared. He's all right," replied the boy handing out some change.
"Who is he?" asked Grace frankly.
"Oh, a chap that lives at the Point—don't know his name. He's awful quiet and queer—just reads his eyes out—no wonder he wears goggles," finished the clerk, turning to pop a soda for a waiting customer.
The girls breathed easier. Somehow they were each conscious of a dread, and the boy's report had dispelled it as if by magic.
"Oh, say!" he called after them as they were moving away. "Are you the girls who rescued him? Well, he especially warned me to get your names?" This was in question.
"But we shouldn't like to have him bother thanking us," returned Cleo, as spokesman. "We only did a scout duty."
"Oh yes, that's so. You're scouts. Aren't you? I'm a scout too, but we haven't any girls' troop around here. Wish you would start one."
"We may," assented Margaret. "But did you talk to the boy after he revived? Was he perfectly all right?" she questioned pointedly.
"Guess so, but he's a queer chap. Can't tell whether he's all right or all wrong, he's such a stick. Excuse me, here's where I sell a real order," and he hurried over to an old lady who was vainly trying to shut an obstinate parasol.
Again the girls turned away, and the clerk had not fulfilled his promise to get their names; neither had they obtained the name of the stricken boy.
"But I feel a lot better," admitted Cleo. "Somehow, it isn't nice to see a boy as still as he was."
"I should say not," added Grace. "And I couldn't help thinking of Benny. I've never seen him still in his life, but I don't ever want to see him as quiet as that. And say, girls—" and she drew as many of them to her as her arms would reach, "the bottom of that boat was full of yellow paper rolls!"
"He couldn't be the fire-bug!" protested Louise.
"I don't believe he could either," went on Grace, now really serious. "But I thought I ought to mention about the papers."
"And the boat man's boy said he lived over on the island," mused Cleo. "I'm glad we got out of leaving our names. He might come around to thank us—and he might carry—a torch!"
This sally revived the girls' spirits to the extent of producing the first laugh they had enjoyed since the accident; and to demonstrate the possible torch bearing, Cleo paraded on ahead with a long stick up-raised, while Grace and Louise followed with the crabs squirming in their basket.
"Now, we shall divide the spoils," said Margaret, when the town was reached, and the group should separate for their respective cottages.
"How many are there?" queried Cleo.
"Any one may have my share," offered Julia. "I don't ever want to see a crab again as long as I live," and her face fell to positive freezing point.
"Now, Julie dear, don't take on so," teased Grace. "No telling what our Wise Willie may turn out to be, and just think—you held his foot when we dragged him in."
"Grace, just you stop, I am nervous," pleaded Julia, "and I didn't hold his foot, it was his hand."
If Julia was really nervous, the laugh and merry-making that followed her naive remark must certainly have dispelled the quakes, for presently she was shaking with laughter rather than with nerves.
"But the crabs!" insisted Grace. "Let's draw for them," and she dragged the girls over to a little terrace where they unceremoniously squatted down.
"Here are nice long and short straws," offered Louise, breaking off some tall grass ends. "Julia, you can say which wins, long or short?"
"Please don't ask me to decide anything about those crabs," protested Julia. "And if you don't mind I'll just run along. Mother expects folks to dinner. I had a lovely time—" she stopped to allow the girls' laugh time to penetrate. Force of habit in "having a good time" seemed too absurd now, when all were just recovering from the accident shock.
"Oh, we know what you mean, Julia," teased Grace. "You had a lovely time holding Willie's foot—hand I mean, I forgot it was his hand."
But Julia was off, down the avenue, her light hair floating like a cloud about her shoulder, and her slim figure—the girls called it svelt—still proclaiming her the little girl, in spite of her grown up manners. Every one liked Julia; she was pensive and temperamental, but distinctively individual withal.
"No use my winning those crabs," said Margaret, "we haven't any one to shell them, or cook them, or do anything with them."
"You can put them in a tub of water and let them grow up," suggested Cleo, drawing a long straw, when a short one would decide the crabs.
"There, Louise, you have them. Take them! I hope they make you a lovely salad, and that they don't make you sick."
AT WEASLE POINT
"ISN'T it queer how no one seems to know any one else?" remarked Grace, with more words than meaning.
"You mean every one seems a stranger to every one else," added Cleo, affecting the same ambiguity.
"Yes; to put it collectively, the whole town is being populated by rank 'furriners,'" said Louise, "but I can explain the analogy. You see, when summer comes the natives pack up and leave their homes to rent them profitably. That means only the post-master, and store keepers stay put."
"I have asked more questions and got fewer answers since I came to Sea Crest than I would have believed possible to ask and not receive," declared Cleo. "But what is your special trouble, Grace?"
"I asked a couple of girls who our queer Letty was and they didn't know. Now, they were barefoot and peddling clams, the kind they dig up in the sand, and does it seem possible they would not know that girl?"
"They may come in from another town," suggested Louise. "It is quite possible they wouldn't know a thing but clams. I have found that out. But let's hurry off. I've got the lunch, and we are not to go farther than the Point. I have learned that girls go out there with perfect safety, and there's a nice little ice cream place tended by a perfectly prim, gray-haired lady, who keeps an eye all over the Point. It must be a very small point, or the woman must have a long distance eye," finished Louise.
"We are going in the launch, of course," asked and answered Cleo. "I had to assure mother that the man who runs it has a brand new license, and I almost promised to bring back the number. Mother is so afraid of all sorts of motors."
Ready for the excursion to Weasle Point, Grace, Cleo, and Louise, garbed in their practical scout uniforms and armed with fishing rods and a lunch box, started off in time to take the River Queen on its first trip of the afternoon. A few other passengers embarked with the girls; a mother with a small son and daughter, two business men, and the boy with supplies for the island fruit stand.
This number seemed to satisfy the captain who, after counting heads, started off. Across the river, then into the bay that widened as it neared the ocean, the River Queen glided gracefully over to the little strip of land jutting out, with its clump of deep green pines, and the ever present picnic sign.
"Isn't this lovely?" exclaimed Louise. "I am so sorry Julia had to go to the city."
"And that Mary is not down yet," added Cleo, "but we can come again. It's a perfectly lovely sail."
Landing at the improvised dock the girls quickly found the most secluded corner of the little grove, and although they had lunched at home, the sail was a potent appetizer, and the proposed spread was eagerly arranged.
It was very quiet on the strip of sand selected by the little party. Like a narrow ribbon the Point lay on the waters, and the deeper woodlands were evidently unpopular and little traversed, for not even a path greeted the scouts in their rambles.
"I wonder why the place is called Weasle Point?" questioned Cleo. "Are we supposed to hunt weasels out here?"
"I don't even know what the beast looks like," replied Grace. "Are they bearish or wolfish?"
"Neither, they are little snappy things that eat birds," said Louise. "I've heard daddy tell of them—he's quite a hunter, you know. But I don't fancy we will be attacked."
They had disposed of their lunch, and were exploring. All sorts of odd growing things were discovered, from the almost invisible wintergreen, that hugs the earth as if fearful of standing alone, to the wide spreading sweet fern, that lords it over every other green thing under the trees.
More than once shouts of "Snake!" were sent up, and each time this proved to be a false alarm, or the snake must have made good its escape, for no horrible crawling reptile came to view, in spite of the most desperate thrashing of bushes, and beating of brush, following each alarm.
"Oh, see here!" called Louise, who had wandered some distance from her companions. "Here is the dearest little dove, eating our lunch crumbs. He carried them out here to safety."
Quietly the girls stole up to a pretty soft spot in the thicket, and there found a little pigeon enjoying the last crumbs of Cleo's cake. Although the approach meant some more crackling of leaves and sticks, the bird seemed not the least disturbed, in fact, as the scouts looked down he looked up with a perky twist of his graceful throat.
"Must be tame," suggested Louise. "I hope those children down by the water don't come romping up to scare him off."
Cautiously Grace approached in that steady, definite manner that always seems to mean still motion. The bird hardly fluttered, but when the girl threw out a few more crumbs he proudly hopped toward her.
"He has something tied to his leg," said Grace, keeping her voice down to almost a murmur. "I believe he is a carrier pigeon."
"Surely," agreed Louise, for the tiny speck on the bird's leg was plainly an aluminum strip such as marks the carrier bird.
The same thought flashed through the mind of each—who would be sending private messages through that grove!
"I suppose we wouldn't dare look at the note," said Grace. "They are always in a piece of gelatine under the wing."
"My, no," replied Cleo, "that would be equivalent to robbing the mails."
"But this mail seems to want robbing," said Louise quietly, "just see how he waits? Maybe this is his station."
So intent were they on watching the dove they did not hear an approaching step. It came so stealthfully, creeping along the soft marshy ground, scarcely a sound broke the woodland stillness; only the voices of children down at the landing, giving evidence of other life than that of the Girl Scouts on the island.
"Oh see!" said Grace. "This leg is hurt. Perhaps that is why he doesn't fly off," and noticing for the first time that the bird hopped on one slender leg, Grace stepped up nearer to examine the injury. As she did a voice sounded just back of the group, and a very sharp voice it was.
"Hey there! You leave that bird alone!" came the shrill order.
Turning, they confronted the girl they had privately named Letty.
"Oh, is he your bird?" asked Louise confidently. "He seems to be injured, and we thought we might help fix the injury."
"Oh, yes, you did," sneered the girl. "A whole lot you thought that. Guess you had an eye on Lovey's mail bag. Here Lovey!" she sort of cooed to the bird. The change in her voice was remarkable. It softened to a caress as she stooped to pick up the little carrier pigeon.
First she looked at the leg, which, it appeared, had been hurt, but was mending. Assuring herself this was all right the child perched the bird on her shoulder and stood there a picture for the eye of an artist.
Standing at a little distance the girls regarded her cautiously. There she stood in her bare feet, with a tattered dress, her hair cropped out as if cut with a single snip of a powerful scissors, and that pretty bird perched contentedly on her shoulder!
After satisfying her inclination for this unconscious pose, she cuddled the bird in the crook of her arm, and again confronted the girls.
"You don't ever want to interfere with anything around here," she warned, assuming again the high pitched voice. "And if you don't run away you might miss your boat."
"Oh, we wouldn't mind," Grace had courage to say. "We are not afraid of the woods, and it's early yet. There seem to be other people here who have to get back to Sea Crest."
"Snoopin' eh?" sneered the girl again. "Well, you want to watch out. You're the smarties that tried to drown Bentley, ain't you?"
"Who said we ever tried to drown any one?" demanded Cleo, stepping up to the girl, whose bare feet looked almost black, and whose short hair stood around her face with the wildest effect—almost Fiji, the girls thought.
"Well, I ain't saying Bentley did," she answered, "but some one did, and you better be gettin'."
"Seems to me you are not very polite," said Louise. "Here we offer to help you fix up your bird, and you try to chase us," she declared. "Well, we are in no hurry, and don't you go saying anything about us drowning folks, do you hear?" and Louise surprised herself with her courage. "We saved a boy from drowning the other day, and were glad to do it, but we had nothing to do with the accident, and it won't be well for any one to spread malicious reports about us either!"
Had the other scouts dared they would have applauded, but the occasion demanded different tactics.
"Oh, ain't you smart! I suppose you're scouts too, in them rigs. Maybe you'll go tattlin' on me and try to have me 'pinched.' Well, there ain't nobody 'round here dasts to touch me, so you needn't bother."
"We had no idea of tattling on you, but it seems you have taken a lot of trouble to bother us, since we came," retorted Cleo.
"And you was down on the beach when the barrel went off and burned some of the guards things, wasn't you?" she went on, ignoring the charge Cleo had made. "You know they're after the firebug, an' you better watch out!"
This seemed too much. The girls fairly fumed with indignation.
"Yes, we were down there, and nearly got burned with the way that barrel went up," fired back Grace as quickly as she could get her breath, "but we don't know anything about the firebug yet. But we are going to. Do you know who the Weasle is?" she asked indignantly.
"The Weasle!" and the girl burst into a choppy laugh. "Me, know who the Weasle is?" she repeated again. "That's a good 'un. Why don't you ask Bentley?" and before they realized her intention she stooped for the empty lunch box, and with her free hand threw it full force at Louise's head. Dodging it Louise was ready to start after the creature, but before she could do so they saw her reach the water's edge, jump into a skiff and row swiftly away.
"Talk about cyclones," began Cleo, when she had recovered from her surprise. "Whatever do you call that human tornado?"
"We don't call her," replied Grace. "I just think we ought to make a complaint about her. Think of her saying we tried to drown a boy!"
"I'll tell you," said Louise soberly. "She isn't right in her mind."
"But right enough to make a lot of trouble for folks," retorted Cleo. "There she goes now for Looney Point. Maybe that's what Captain Dave warned us to keep clear of."
"Let's get down among the other people," suggested Grace. "It's a little too lonely up here."
"And I guess we had better take the next boat back," added Louise. "Something might just happen that we would be left."
When they reached the dock the launch was about ready to start, and piling in they soon found themselves again facing Sea Crest Pier.
So the afternoon had been one of surprise and disappointment.
THE FIRE AT THE PIER
"WE must have a regular scout meeting," announced Cleo. "We may get into trouble if we are not careful. Grace, have you rounded up all the True Treds?"
"I have," replied Grace, raising her finger in salute to the emergency captain. "They'll all be here at Rosabell, by eleven. And having Mary and Helen will give us a small troop."
"That's splendid. Mary and Helen are Tenderfoots, of course, but they know the duties. I can scarcely believe that girl would actually say the things we heard her say, and then to throw that box at Louise!"
"Just the same as pulling faces at us the first day we met her," said Grace. "I don't feel we ought to take her seriously. But you know there was another fire out Koto way last night, and it spoiled some lovely trees. Father says every one is so indignant about it, but never a person is found around to give a clue to the culprit."
"And she insinuated that we made the beach fire," said Cleo indignantly.
"Oh, that's pure nonsense, of course. But did you see how she acted when we asked her about the Weasle?"
"Yes, she knows about that note, I'm sure," said Cleo. "But then she thinks she knows a lot of things. She certainly lives over on the Island, and so she couldn't very well start fires at night?"
"But she rows like an Indian. Here come the girls. Now we will have a chance to talk it all over."
The arrival of Helen, Mary, Louise, and Julia completed the group, and presently a summer session of the True Treds was under way.
To the newcomers at Sea Crest the whole situation was explained, and nothing short of consternation followed its recital.
"Do you mean to say no one knows this girl?" asked Helen.
"No one we can find," replied Louise. "You see the whole town moves away when the summer folks come, all but the cleaners and the store keepers; and we didn't like to ask any of them."
"I'm sure Captain Dave must know this girl," declared Grace. "I'm going down to the station this very afternoon and have a talk with him."
"Saw him go out to Brightwater in a motor boat this morning," Louise said.
"Well, we simply have got to keep up our troop tactics until we run this down," declared Cleo. "Think of her saying we tried to drown the boy!"
"And she called him Bentley. That's rather a pretty name. He surely doesn't belong to her class," said Grace.
"But he too is odd, we must admit," resumed Louise, "and he had the very same kind of paper we found in the bottle."
"And his boat was covered with it," added Grace.
"But you really don't think he could be malicious enough to start fires?" asked Julia.
"I don't know," replied Grace. "They always say book-worms are queer, and surely he is a book-worm, if there ever was one."
"I propose taking a trip to that Looney Island," said Louise directly.
"I'd love to," followed Cleo; "but what about Captain Dave's warning?"
"What did he say?" inquired Mary.
"Why, he told us this Luna Island or Looney Land as the children call it, was a very good place to keep away from."
"Did he say why?" asked Helen.
"No; just hinted that children always feared to go over there, and he considers children the natural judges of danger. We know better. Here we are mere kiddies, and we are not a bit afraid," and she laughed at the idea.
"In fact, we are just dying to go. How do you get there?" This from Margaret.
"Take the launch to the point, then hire a boat and row over to the island. We saw 'the girl' do it. It's only a short distance."
"Sounds alluring," said Mary, who was now a splendidly healthy little girl, quite unlike the timid creature discovered by the girls in our second volume, "The Girl Scouts at Bellaire."
"You are almost chubby, Mary," remarked Grace. "I suppose you had a wonderful winter in the South with your folks."
"Oh yes, wonderful," replied Mary. "But I would rather have been to school in New York with you girls. Perhaps next fall I can enter with you."
"So it is all decided," prompted Helen. "We are to go to your Looney Land and capture the lunes. I wonder if we had not better bring a few brothers along?"
"As scouts we scorn a body guard!" replied Louise, "although it might be well to leave a lookout over at the point."
"When do we set out?" asked Julia, now as keen as her companions on the perilous expedition.
"That must depend on the weather," said Cleo. "We can't brave the waters with overhung skies. If I'm not mistaken I hear thunder this minute."
"Bring your wheels in," cautioned Grace. "Benny will put them in the garage. There! That surely sounded near by."
In the cyclonic way storms have of gathering near the ocean, clouds tumbled over clouds, piling mountains high, then dipping down in veritable spouts ready to empty their weight of water on the shrinking earth. The weather had been just warm enough to precipitate this sort of shower, and before the first drops fell people scurried for shelter, deserting piers, and board walk, as if swept away by the reckless west wind.
The Girl Scouts stayed on the porch until the lightning frightened them inside Rosabell cottage, then from the windows watched the vagaries of the summer storm.
A sudden blinding flash of lightning and its immediate clap of thunder drove the girls from the window.
"Oh!" shouted more than one. "Wasn't that awful!"
"Listen!" as a gong sounded. "The fire bell!" cried Grace. "Get your coats; see the crowd over there! Let's run."
Without a thought of the down-pouring rain, the Girl Scouts, garbed in such protective garments as they could snatch from the clothes-tree in the hall of Rosabell, raced over to cover the short distance to the pavilion, where the crowd was seen to gather from all directions.
"What was struck?" Cleo asked a boy, who was trying to outdistance the bright red fire engine.
"The pier, I guess," he replied, dashing on merrily at the prospect of some real excitement.
A light film of smoke could now be seen steaming up through the rain at the end of the pier. But it was not likely a fire could make much headway in that downpour. The girls watched the rather primitive fire apparatus, with keen interest. Crowds of boys, numbers of men, and a scattering of girls and children, made the scene quite a lively one, to say nothing of the shouting of the volunteer firemen—the only grade that is allowed to shout at a fire. A line of hose was soon dragged out to the end of the pier, and almost before the happy urchins realized it the fire was out, back taps sounded from the tower in the village, and the fun was over.
After the crowd had dispersed and the shower was entirely over, the girls walked down the pier to inspect the damage. On one of the benches near the end, an old man sat huddled alone, his fishing rod was at his feet, and his basket was beside him on the bench. As they approached he stood up, then sank down again unable to keep to his feet.
"He must have been out here when the lightning struck," said Louise. "The poor old man!"
They came up to him and he smiled feebly.
"That was a big shower," said Helen by way of introduction.
"Mighty heavy, mighty heavy," he answered, his words short and his voice very low.
"Were you out here then?" asked Grace, beginning to realize that the old man must have been stunned.
"Yes, and—it near—finished me," he replied, again trying to stand but ending by sinking back on the bench, heavier than before.
"Oh, you poor old man!" said Julia. "We must help you home. Where do you live?"
"Couldn't help me home," he replied with a sigh. "I have a long walk along the sand, and then the boat. Don't see how I'm going to make it though. That flash just did me up," and he stooped to gather his fishing things that had evidently been scattered when the hose was run down the pier.
"Where do you live?" again asked Louise. "No matter how far away it is we can help you. We can take you in a car."
"No cars go out that way," said the fisherman, mistaking Louise's meaning.
"Oh, we mean in an automobile," she corrected. "Let us see if you can't lean on some of us while the others go for a car. We will be glad to help you," she insisted, feeling the Girl Scout pledge surge over her.
It was quickly decided Grace should run for her sister Leonore, to get their car out, as Rosabell was the nearest cottage, and while she hurried off with Helen, Cleo and Louise assisted the old man to his feet. Meanwhile Mary and Julia gathered up his fishing outfit.
He was old and feeble at best, but now, after his fright and shock from the lightning, he seemed leaden, as he leaned on Cleo from one side, with Louise at the other.
Up the pier they led him, and at every step he either sighed because he had lost his power or blessed "the little girls who gave him a hand." It seemed to the scouts rather odd that no one had discovered his plight until they had found him, but after all, it was not hard to understand how an old fisherman could be overlooked in the excitement.