Part 1 out of 3
Produced by Anne Folland, Charles Franks
and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team.
[Illustration: "YES, I AM RUNNING AWAY," SAID THE GIRL IN A TONE OF
The Camp Fire Girls Go Motoring
Along the Road that Leads the Way
By HILDEGARD G. FREY
"The Camp Fire Girls in the Maine Woods," "The Camp Fire Girls at
School," "The Camp Fire Girls at Onoway House."
THE CAMP FIRE GIRLS GO MOTORING
It is at Nyoda's bidding that I am writing the story of our automobile
trip last September. She declared it was really too good to keep to
ourselves, and as I was official reporter of the Winnebagos anyway, it
was no more nor less than my solemn duty. Sahwah says that the only
thing which was lacking about our adventures was that we didn't have a
ride in a patrol wagon, but then Sahwah always did incline to the
spectacular. And the whole train of events hinged on a commonplace
circumstance which is in itself hardly worth recording; namely, that
tan khaki was all the rage for outing suits last summer. But then, many
an empire has fallen for a still slighter cause.
The night after we came home from Onoway House and shortly before we
started on that never-to-be-forgotten trip, I was sitting at the window
watching the evening stars come out one after another. That line of
Longfellow's came into my mind:
"Silently, one by one, in the infinite meadows of heaven,
Blossomed the lovely stars, the forget-me-nots of the angels."
That quotation set me to thinking about Evangeline and the tragedy of
her never finding her lover. Could it be possible, I thought, that two
people could come so near to finding each other and yet be just too
late? Not in these days of long distance telephones, I said to myself.
As I looked out dreamily into the mild September twilight, I idly
watched two little girls chasing each other around the voting booth
that stood on the corner. They kept dodging around the four sides,
playing cat and mouse, and trying to catch each other by means of every
trick they could think of. One would go a little way and then stop and
listen for the footsteps of the other; then she would double back and
go the other way, and thus they kept it up, never coming face to face.
I stopped dreaming and gave them my entire attention; I was beginning
to feel a thrill of suspense as to which one would finally outwit the
other and overtake her. The darkness deepened; more stars came out; the
moon rose; still the exciting game did not come to a finish. Finally, a
woman came out on the porch of the house on the corner and called,
"Emma! Mary! Come in now." They never caught each other.
When I was elected reporter on the trip to keep a record of the
interesting things we saw, so we wouldn't forget them when we came to
write the Count, Nyoda said jokingly, "You'd better take an extra note-
book along, Migwan, for we might possibly have some adventures on the
I answered, "We've had all the adventures this last summer that can
possibly fall to the lot of one set of human beings, and I suppose all
the rest of our lives will seem dull and uninteresting by comparison."
I presume Fate heard that remark of mine just as she did that other one
last summer when I observed to Hinpoha that we were going to have such
a quiet time at Onoway House, and sat up and chuckled on the knees of
the gods. In the light of future events it seems to me that it couldn't
have done less than kick its heels against that Knee and have
As I was in the Glow-worm all the time, of course, I was an eye witness
to the things which happened to our party only; but the other girls
have told their tale so many times that it seems as if I had actually
experienced their adventures myself, and so will write everything down
as if I had seen it, without stopping to say Gladys said this or
Hinpoha told me that. It makes a better story so, Nyoda says.
After Gladys's father had told us we might take the two automobiles and
go on a trip by ourselves, he gave us a road map and told us to go
anywhere we liked within a radius of five hundred miles and he would
pay all the bills, provided, we planned and carried out the whole trip
by ourselves, and did not keep telegraphing home for advice unless we
got into serious trouble. All such little troubles as breakdowns,
hotels and traffic rules we were to manage by ourselves. He has a
theory that Gladys should learn to be self-reliant and means to give
her every opportunity to develop resourcefulness. He thinks she has
improved wonderfully since joining the Winnebagos and considered this
motor trip a good way of testing how much she can do for herself.
Gladys scoffed at the idea of wiring home for help when Nyoda was
along, for Nyoda has toured a great deal and once drove her uncle's car
home from Los Angeles when he broke his arm. Gladys's father knew full
well that Nyoda was perfectly capable of engineering the trip or he
never would have proposed it in the first place, but he never can
resist the temptation to tease Gladys, and kept on inquiring anxiously
if she knew which side of the road to stop on and where to go to buy
gas. Gladys, who had driven her own car for three years! Finally, he
offered to bet that we would be wiring home for advice before the end
of the trip and Gladys took him up on it. The outcome was that if we
returned safe and sound without calling for help Mr. Evans would build
us a permanent Lodge in which to hold our Winnebago meetings. Gladys
danced a whole figure dance for joy, for in her mind the Lodge was as
good as built.
How we did pore over that road map, trying to make up our minds where
to go! Nyoda wanted to go to Cincinnati and Gladys wanted to go to
Chicago, and the arguments each one put up for her cause were side-
splitting. Finally, they decided to settle it by a set of tennis. They
played all afternoon and couldn't get a set. We finally intervened and
dragged them from the court in the name of humanity, for the sun was
scorching and we were afraid they would be doing the Sun Dance as
Ophelia did if we didn't rescue them. The score was then 44-44 in
games. So now that neither side had the advantage of the other we did
as we did the time we named the raft at Onoway House--joined forces. We
decided to go both to Cincinnati and Chicago.
As we finally made it out, the route was like this: Cleveland to
Chicago by way of Toledo and Ft. Wayne; Chicago to Indianapolis;
Indianapolis to Louisville. Here Hinpoha got a look at the map and
wanted to know if we couldn't take in Vincennes, because she had been
crazy to see the place since reading Alice of Old Vincennes. So to
humor her we included Vincennes on the road to Louisville, although it
was quite a bit out of the way. Then from Louisville we planned to go
up to Cincinnati and see the Rookwood Pottery that Nyoda is so crazy
about and come back home through Dayton, Springfield and Columbus. We
were all very well pleased with ourselves when we had the route mapped
out at last, and none of us were sorry that Nyoda and Gladys couldn't
agree on Cincinnati or Chicago and had to compromise and take in both.
Then, when it was decided where we were going, came the no less
important question of what we were to wear on the road. We decided on
our khaki-colored hiking-suits as the shade that would show the dust
the least, and our soft tan regulation Camp Fire hats, with green motor
veils. Besides being eminently sensible the combination was wonderfully
pretty, as even critical Hinpoha, who, at first wanted us to wear smart
white and blue suits, had to admit. It seemed to me the most fitting
thing in the world for a group of Camp Fire Girls to sally forth
dressed in wood brown and green, the colors of nature which in my mind
should be the chosen colors of the whole organization.
We had a discussion about goggles and Gladys and Hinpoha declared
flatly that they wouldn't disfigure their faces with them, but Nyoda
made us all get them whether we wanted to wear them all the time or
not. Nyoda is an advocate of Preparedness. It was this spirit that
prompted her to make me take an extra note-book along, not the
premonition that there was going to be something to put into it. Nyoda
doesn't believe in premonitions since she didn't have any the time she
and Gladys got into the blue automobile with the cane streamer that
awful day in May.
Then there came the weighty matter of the names of the two cars. I will
skip the discussion and merely announce the result. The big, brown car
which Gladys was to drive was christened the Striped Beetle, on account
of the black and gold stripes, and the black car was called the Glow-
worm, because that's what it reminds you of when it comes down the road
at night with the lamps lighted and the body invisible in the darkness.
Nyoda was to be at the helm, or rather at the wheel, of the Glow-worm.
In order that no feelings might be involved in any way over which car
we other girls traveled in, Nyoda, Solomon-like, proposed that she and
Gladys play "John Kempo" for us. (That isn't spelled right, but no
matter.) Gladys won Hinpoha, Chapa and Medmangi, and Nyoda won Sahwah,
Nakwisi and myself. Thus the die was cast and my fortunes linked with
those of the Glow-worm.
I don't remember ever being so supremely happy as I was the night
before we were to start. All my troubles seemed over for good. The
summer venture had been a success and the doors of college stood wide
open to receive me when the time came. The awful weight of poverty
which had sat on my shoulders last year, and had made my school days
more of a nightmare than anything else was lifted, and here was I,
"Migwan, the Penpusher", actually about to start out on an automobile
trip such as I had often heard described by more fortunate friends, but
had never hoped to experience myself. We were all over at Hinpoha's
house that night, because Aunt Phoebe had just come back with the
Doctor and they wanted to see us.
"And you be careful of your bones, Missis Sahvah!" said the Doctor,
playfully shaking his finger at her.
"Are you going if it rains?" asked Aunt Phoebe.
The possibility of rain had never occurred to us, as the only picture
we had seen in our mind's eye had been country roads gleaming in the
sunshine, but Gladys said scornfully that she would like to be shown
the group of Camp Fire Girls who would let themselves be put off by
"Let's build a Rain Jinx," said Sahwah, who always has the most
"A what?" asked Gladys.
"A Rain Jinx," said Sahwah, warming to the idea. "A 'doings' to scare
away the Rain Bird and the Thunder Bird."
As the foundation for her Rain Jinx she took Hinpoha's Latin book,
which she declared was the driest thing in existence. On top of that
she piled other books which were nearly as dry until she had a sort of
altar. Then she proceeded to sacrifice all the rubbers, rain-coats and
umbrellas she could find, as a propitiatory offering to the Rain Bird.
Thoroughly in the mood for such nonsense, now she proceeded to chant
weird chants around the altar to protect us from all sorts of things on
the road; to soften the hearts of traffic policemen; to keep the tires
from bursting, and the machinery from cutting up capers. It was the
most ridiculous performance I have ever seen and Aunt Phoebe and the
Doctor laughed themselves almost sick over it. I laughed so myself that
I could not take notes on what she was saying and so can't let you
laugh at it for yourselves. As a reporter I'm afraid I'm not an
In the midst of that "Vestal Virgin" business--Sahwah was flourishing a
chamois vest to give us the idea of _vestal_--Nyoda walked in.
There was only one low lamp burning in order to carry out Sahwah's idea
of what a Rain Jinx ceremony should be like, and Nyoda couldn't clearly
make out the objects in the room.
"Look out for the Rain Jinx!" called Sahwah, warningly. "If you touch
it it will bring us bad luck instead of good."
But it was too late. Nyoda had stumbled over the pile of things on the
floor, and in falling sent the elements of the Rain Jinx flying in all
directions. Hinpoha flew to light the light and Sahwah picked Nyoda up
out of the mess and set her in a chair, while the rest of us collected
the scattered articles and tidied up the room, and Sahwah painted in
lurid colors to Nyoda the dire consequences of her crime, and made her
give her famous "Wimmen Sufferage" speech as an act of atonement.
The Rain Bird must have forgiven her on the strength of that speech,
for there never was such a perfect blue and gold day as the morning we
started out. I have already told you how we were divided up in the
cars. Gladys in the Striped Beetle went first, carrying with her Hinpoha,
Chapa and Medmangi, and Nyoda drove the Glow-worm right behind her
with Sahwah, Nakwisi and myself. Hinpoha insisted upon bringing Mr. Bob,
her black cocker spaniel, along as a mascot. Of course, everybody
wanted to sit beside the driver and we had to compromise by planning to
change seats every hour to give us all a chance. We all carried our
cameras in our hands to be ready to snap anything worth while as it came
along, and beside that Nakwisi had her spy-glass along as usual and I
had my reporter's note-book. In honor of my being reporter they let me
sit beside Nyoda at the start.
Nakwisi couldn't wait until we got under way and bounced up and down on
the seat with impatience. "What's the matter with you?" said Sahwah,
"You're a regular _starting-crank_!"
"That will do, Sahwah," said Nyoda, with mock severity. "I want it
distinctly understood that anybody who indulges in puns on this trip is
going to get out and walk."
With that threat she settled herself behind the wheel and turned on the
gasoline, or whatever it is you do to start a car. Thus we started off,
like modern day Innocents Abroad, with the Winnebago banner across the
back of each car, and our green veils fluttering in the breeze. Mr.
Evans waved the paper on which the bet was recorded significantly, and
shouted "Remember!" in a sepulchral tone, and it was plain to be seen
he was sure he would win the bet. He even tempted Fate so far as to
throw an old rubber after us as we departed, instead of an old shoe, to
bring us luck according to the Rain Jinx. It landed in the tonneau of
our car and Sahwah pounced upon it as a favorable omen and kept it for
With a great cheering and waving of handkerchiefs we were off. The
Striped Beetle was just ahead of us in all the glory of its new coat of
paint and its bright banner, and I couldn't help thrilling with pride
to think that I, for once, belonged to such a gay company, I, who all
my life had to be content with shabby things. I suppose we must have
cut quite a figure with our tan suits all alike and our green veils,
for people stopped to look at us as we passed through the streets. It
was not long before we were outside the city limits and running along
the western road toward Toledo.
I always did think September was the prettiest month in which to go
through the country in the lake region on account of the grapes. The
vineyards stretched for miles along the road and the air was sweet with
the perfume of the purple fruit. There were wide corn-fields, too, that
made me think of the poem:
"Up from the meadows rich with corn,
Clear in the cool September morn--"
Oh, there never was such a beautiful country as America, nor such a
happy girl as I! In one place someone had planted a long strip of
brilliant red geraniums through the middle of a green field and the
effect was too gorgeous for description. (I'm glad I noted all those
things and put them down on the first part of the trip, for afterwards
I scarcely thought of looking at the scenery.)
The girls in the car ahead kept shouting back at us and trying to make
up a song about the Striped Beetle, and, of course, we had resurrected
the one-time popular "Glow-worm" song and made the hills and dales
resound with the air of the chorus:
"Shine, little Glow-worm, glimmer,
Shine, little Glow-worm, glimmer,
Lead us lest too far we wander,
Love's sweet voice is calling yonder;
Shine, little Glow-worm, glimmer,
Shine, little Glow-worm, glimmer,
Light the path, below, above,
And lead us on to love!"
Then there would come a chorus of derision from the Striped Beetles,
who politely inquired which one of us expected to be led to her Prince
Charming by that mechanical Glow-worm; and flung back our chorus in a
"Shine, little Glow-worm, glimmer,
Till the Law makes you put on the dimmer!"
Then we christened the horn of the Striped Beetle "Love", because that
was the only "sweet voice" we heard calling yonder. I don't believe I
ever had such a good time as I did on the road to Toledo. We got there
about noon and went to a large restaurant for dinner. Even there people
looked up from their tables as we eight girls came in, dressed in our
wood brown and green costumes, and we heard several low-voiced remarks,
"They're probably Camp Fire Girls."
We had a great deal of fun at dinner where we all sat at one big table.
Sahwah and Hinpoha sat at the two ends and got into a dispute as to
which end was the head of the table. "Stop quarreling about it, you
ridiculous children," said Nyoda. "'Wherever Magregor sits--' you know
While she was speaking I saw a tourist at another table, dressed in a
long dust coat and wearing monstrous goggles that covered the entire
upper half of his face and made him look like a frog, lean forward as
if to catch every word. Nyoda is perfectly stunning in her motor suit
and I couldn't blame the man for admiring her, but we did want Nyoda to
ourselves on this trip, and the thought of having men mixed up in it
put a damper on my spirits. I suppose Nyoda will leave us for a man
sometime, but the thought always makes me ill. I came out of my little
reverie to find that Gladys had appropriated my glass of water and
Sahwah and Hinpoha were still disputing about being the head of the
table. Finally, we jokingly advised Sahwah to ask the waiter, and she
promptly took us up and did it, and found that Hinpoha was the head.
"I'm going to have the head at the next place we eat," Sahwah declared,
owning her defeat with as good grace as she could. And Fate winked
solemnly and began to slide off the knees of the gods.
From Toledo to Ft. Wayne, our next stop, there were two routes, the
northern one through Bryan and the southern one through Napoleon and
Defiance. As there didn't seem to be much difference between them we
played "John Kempo" and the northern route won, two out of three. As we
were threading our way through the streets of the town, an old woman
tried to cross the street just in front of the Glow-worm. Nyoda sounded
the horn warningly but the noise seemed to confuse her. She got across
the middle of the street in safety and Nyoda quickened up a bit, when
the woman lost her head and started back for the side she had come
from. She darted right in front of the Glow-worm, and although Nyoda
turned aside sharply, the one fender just grazed her and she fell down
in the street. Of course, a crowd collected and we had to stop and get
out and help her to the sidewalk where we made sure she was not hurt.
Nyoda finally took her in tow and piloted her across the street to the
place where she wanted to go.
When the excitement was over and the crowd had dispersed we returned to
the car and Nyoda started up once more. Then for the first time we
noticed that the Striped Beetle was nowhere in sight. Apparently Gladys
had not noticed our stopping in the confusion of the busy street and
had gone on ahead without us.
Gladys, as the leader, had the road map with her with the route marked
out which we were to follow. We hastened to the end of the street,
expecting to catch sight of the Striped Beetle just around the corner,
but it was nowhere to be seen. We stopped at a store and asked if they
had seen it come by and they said, yes, it had just passed and had
turned to the left up --th Street. We followed swiftly, thinking to
come upon the girls each moment, but there was no sign of them.
"They surely have discovered by this time that we are not behind them
and must be waiting for us," said Nyoda. "I can't understand it."
"Gladys is probably trying to see if we can trail her through the city
to the motor road," said Sahwah. "You know how much we talked about
being self-reliant? We'll probably find her where the road branches out
from the city, waiting with a stop watch to see how long it took us to
"We'll get there," said Nyoda grimly, her sporting blood up.
Everywhere along the road people told us about the brown car that had
gone just ahead of us and pointed out the direction it had taken. Every
time we turned a corner we expected to hear the laughter of the girls
who were leading us such a merry chase, but we didn't. Soon we were out
of the city and on the country road once more, and we were quite a bit
puzzled not to find them waiting for us. We certainly thought the joke
was to have ended here. But a man walking along the road had seen the
car go by half an hour before.
"Half an hour!" we echoed. "Gladys must have been speeding to have
gotten so far ahead of us." Of course, the Striped Beetle is a six-
cylinder car and more powerful than the Glow-worm, which is a four, and
then they hadn't stopped at every corner to ask the way, so it wasn't
so strange after all that Gladys was so far ahead.
"We'll make some speed on this road," said Nyoda resolutely, "and if we
don't catch Lady Gladys before she gets to Ft. Wayne, I'll know the
reason why. This is the road to Bryan, isn't it?" she asked, with her
hand on the starting-lever.
"No," said the man. "This here road goes through Napoleon and Defiance.
It gets to Ft. Wayne all right, but it doesn't go through Bryan."
Nyoda stopped in surprise. "The southern route?" she said, wonderingly.
"Why, we decided on the northern. Whatever could have made Gladys
change her mind without letting us know? Are you sure it was a brown
car with four girls dressed just like us?"
The man was positive. It was the suits and the veils all alike that had
caught his eye in the first place. He didn't generally remember much
about the cars that went past. There were too many of them. But these
girls looked so fine in their tan suits that he just had to look twice
at them. They were laughing fit to kill and all waved their
handkerchiefs at him as they passed.
We looked at each other in astonishment. It was undoubtedly the Striped
Beetle that was going along the southern route and we couldn't
"Do you suppose," I said, "that Gladys could have misunderstood when
you were playing 'John Kempo' and thought it was the southern route
"She must have," said Nyoda. "It's not impossible. We were all laughing
and talking so much nonsense at the time that it was hard to think
straight. But it doesn't make any difference," she added, "this route
is as good as the northern, and we are right behind them and I mean to
catch up before we get to Ft. Wayne." I knew what Nyoda was thinking
about. The man had said the girls in the car were laughing fit to kill,
and that looked very much as if there were some joke on foot. We knew
very well they were running away from us and were going to lead us a
chase to Ft. Wayne.
As we started off in pursuit I looked around from the tonneau, where I
was then sitting, and saw a red roadster not far behind us. There was
one man in it and he was the Frog I had seen goggling at Nyoda in the
dining-room at Toledo.
We were not so terribly surprised when we did not find the Striped
Beetle at Napoleon where we stopped for gasoline. We knew now that they
would not let us catch them before we got to Ft. Wayne. We inquired at
the service station and found that the brown car had stopped for
gasoline nearly an hour before. Clearly they were not losing any time
on the road. Neither were we gaining on them at that rate. Nyoda looked
thoughtful as she started out once more. I knew she was meditating a
lecture for Gladys when she caught up with her, about running away from
us. Nyoda was responsible for the welfare of seven girls and how could
she fulfil her trust if she had only three under her eye? And I knew as
well as I knew anything that Gladys would forfeit her right to be
leader by that little prank and for the rest of the trip would follow
meekly along behind us. Nyoda would never in the world stand for her
going off like that. But by the puzzled frown on her face I knew that
she didn't understand it any more than I did. Gladys was the last one
in the world to do such a thing. There must be some reason.
From my seat I could see that the Frog, who had also stopped for
gasoline when we did, was not far behind us. The car he was in looked
like a racing car, with a very long hood in front, and he could easily
have gotten ahead of us. I wondered for a long time why he did not do
so, and then suddenly I had a premonition. He was following us, or
rather Nyoda. Something had told me when I first saw him that we should
see him again. I made a horrible face at him behind my veil and wished
something would happen to his car.
As we were passing through the village of S---- a chicken started up
right under our front wheels, uttering a startled and startling squawk.
Nyoda swerved to one side and ran squarely into a tree. There was a
bump and a grating sound somewhere beneath us and then the nice
cheerful humming of the motor stopped. Nyoda got out of the car to see
what had been damaged.
"As far as I can see, only the lamp bracket is bent," she said, but
when she tried to start the car again it wouldn't start.
"Maybe the driving spider has caught the flywheel," said Sahwah, trying
to be funny.
Just then the red roadster did pass us, going slowly, and the Frog kept
his eyes riveted on Nyoda all the while. She never looked at him. She
had unbuttoned the roof over the engine and was poking her fingers down
into the dragon's mouth, but undoubtedly the trouble wasn't there.
There was a repair shop not far away--all of the towns along the
touring routes which have an eye to business have some sort of one--and
Nyoda repaired thither and fetched a man who tinkered knowingly with
the regions underneath the Glow-worm and then reported in a dust choked
voice that one of the gears was "on the blink". Just what part of a
car's vital organs a gear is I don't know, but I judged it was an
important one because Nyoda looked serious.
"What will we do?" she said, tragically.
"Can fix you up in the shop," said the man, wiping his forehead with a
blue and white handkerchief. "We have a dismantled car of the same make
there and can take a gear out of that."
So the Glow-worm was trundled up the street into the shop, and we were
told that the damage would be fixed by the next morning. The next
morning! We looked at each other in consternation.
"But we must get to Ft. Wayne to-night," said Nyoda, in a tone of
"Sorry, ladies," said the foreman of the repair shop, "but it can't be
done." Then we realized that we would have to stay in S---- all night.
Here was a pretty mess. And Gladys and Hinpoha and the other two
waiting for us in Ft. Wayne.
"We'll have to let them know," said Nyoda. "They'll worry when they see
we're not coming."
"Let them worry," said Sahwah, darkly. "It serves them right for what
they did to us."
But, of course, we had to let them know. So Nyoda wired the little
hotel where we had planned to stay--and what a good time we were going
to have!--and told the girls to stay there for the night and to please
wait for us in the morning and not leave us again. Of course, the
message was much more condensed than that, but Nyoda got it all in.
Then there was nothing else for us to do but make the best of a bad
bargain and hunt up the one hotel in S---- and prepare to spend the
night. But when we got there it was crowded. There was a big wedding in
town that night, we were informed, and the out-of-town guests had
filled the hotel. They were already two in a room and there was no hope
of doubling up. Seeing our dismay at this news, the clerk bethought
himself of a woman in the village who had a very large house and often
let rooms to tourists when the hotel was full. She had once been very
wealthy, but had lost everything but the house and now made her living
by keeping boarders.
We thanked him and hurried off to the address to which he had directed
us. We were very hot and tired and dusty and amazingly hungry. It was
already six o'clock in the evening, and with the difference in time
between our city and this we had been on the road a long day. We were
glad after all that the hotel had not been able to accommodate us when
we saw this house. The hotel was on the main street and the rooms must
have been small and stuffy; anything but comfortable on this hot night.
But this house stood far back from the street in an immense shady yard,
one of those enormous brick houses that well-to-do people were fond of
building about thirty-five years ago, with large rooms and high
ceilings and enough space inside them to quarter a regiment. We blessed
the good fortune which had led our feet to this hospitable looking
door, which, in times gone by, must have opened to admit throngs of
There was no door-bell, but a big bronze knocker, and in answer to it a
young girl, presumably the "hired girl", let us into the hall. She took
our coming as a matter of course, so we judged they were prepared for
tourists that day, knowing that the hotel was full on account of the
wedding. Without a word she led us up-stairs and we breathed a sigh of
relief when we thought of a bath and supper. The house must have been
the home of fashionable people in its time, for the furnishings, though
old, were still luxurious. The carpet on the stairs was still thick and
soft to our feet, and the curtains I could see on the windows were of a
fine quality. At the head of the stairs there was an oil painting of a
woman in the dress of a by-gone day. The servant opened the door of a
room at the front end of the long up-stairs hall and we passed in.
We had known instinctively as soon as we entered the place that the
lady of the house was a woman of refinement and culture,
notwithstanding the reduced circumstances which made it necessary for
her to rent out rooms in this big mansion of a house in order to make
her living. "I should think she'd rent it or sell it," said practical
"She probably can't bear to part with these things, which remind her of
her former life," I said, sentimentally.
We were all anxious to see the woman who had been the mistress of so
much splendor in days gone by and could not give up the house. The
bedroom we were shown to was luxurious compared to what I had been used
to at home. The bed was a mahogany four-poster covered with a spread of
lace, and the rug on the floor was a faded oriental. Opening out of the
bedroom was a bath with a shower and we made a dash to get under the
cooling flood. I have never seen such towels as were stacked up on that
little white table in the bathroom. They were all heavily embroidered
with initials and the fringe on them was every bit of six inches long.
"The fringe for me!" exclaimed Sahwah, when she saw them. She seized a
whole pile of them at once, using only the fringe for drying, and
putting on affected aristocratic airs that made us shriek with
laughter. We had been dressing all over the two rooms and the floor was
strewn with towels and articles of clothing. Suddenly the door of the
bedroom opened and a woman stood in the room. She was a gray-haired
woman of about fifty, very handsome and proud-looking, and dressed in a
gown of plum-colored satin. She said nothing; just looked at us. I
glanced around at the others. There was Sahwah, her kimono wrapped
loosely around her, patting her feet dry with the fringe of a dozen
towels; Nyoda stood in front of the dressing-table with a towel wrapped
around her, combing her hair: I was sitting on the floor putting my
shoes on, while through the bathroom door came the sounds of the shower
turned on full force, with an occasional shriek from Nakwisi when she
got it too cold. Suddenly I felt unaccountably foolish. Nyoda and
Sahwah looked up and saw the woman the next instant. She stood looking
at us, her eyes nearly popping out of her head, her face purple,
leaning against the foot of the bed for support. Nobody said a word. As
Sahwah expressed it afterward, "Silence reigned, and we stood there in
"How did--how did you get in?" the woman gasped faintly, after a
silence of a full minute. We knew something was wrong. We could feel it
in the marrow of our bones.
Nyoda, holding her towel closely around her, answered in as dignified a
manner as possible. "We were directed to your house from the hotel as a
place where we could spend the night, and your maid admitted us and
brought us in here. Is there anything the matter?"
The woman stood staring as if fascinated at the towels which were lying
all over the floor. At that moment Nakwisi opened the door of the bath
and emerged in her dressing-gown, the open door behind her revealing
splashes of water all over the room and more towels on the floor. The
woman put her hand to her throat as if she were choking. She tried to
speak but evidently could not.
"Isn't this Mrs. Butler's house?" asked Nyoda, with growing misgiving.
"Don't you take in tourists when the hotel is filled?"
The woman swallowed convulsively and found her voice. "No," she said,
emphatically, "this is not Mrs. Butler's house, and I don't take in
tourists when the hotel is filled. This is the McAlpine residence and
my husband is State Senator McAlpine. My daughter is getting married
to-night and we have a houseful of wedding guests. We had two special
trains, one from Chicago and one from New York, bringing guests. If my
maid let you in she thought you were some of them." Then she looked
around the room and seemed on the verge of apoplexy once more. "But how
did you get in here?" she cried, wildly. "This is the bridal chamber!"
I suddenly felt weak in the back-bone, and thought my head was going to
drop into my lap. The towel fell from Nyoda's shoulders and she stood
there like a statue with her long hair around her. Sahwah stopped still
with her foot on the stool and the handful of towels in her hand. For
one moment we remained as if turned to stone and then Sahwah buried her
face in the towels with a muffled shriek. If embarrassment ever killed
people I know not one of us would have survived. Nyoda apologised
profusely for our intrusion, which, after all, was not our fault, as we
soon found. The hotel man had told us number 65 South Vine Street when
it was number 65 North Vine Street he had meant.
We got dressed faster than we ever had before in our lives and packed
up our scattered belongings, leaving the rooms nearly as tidy as they
were when we came in. Mrs. McAlpine had withdrawn into the next room,
and through the closed door we could hear the sound of excited talking
and knew that she was telling the story to someone. When she had
finished we heard a man's voice raised in a regular bellow. Evidently
it had struck him as funny.
"No!" we heard him chortle. "You don't mean it! Got put into the bridal
chamber, ha, ha! When you wouldn't let me put a foot into it! Took a
bath and used up all the wedding towels that you wouldn't even let me
touch! Oh, ha! ha! ha!" The very house seemed to shake with the
violence of his mirth. Senator McAlpine, for we judged it was he, must
have had a sense of humor. "Where are they?" we heard him shout. "Let
me see them!"
But at the thought of facing that battery of laughter we fled in haste.
Feeling unutterably small and ridiculous, we crept down-stairs and out
of the front door, past numbers of people who were arriving. Once out
on the sidewalk we leaned against the ornamental iron fence and laughed
until we cried. The more we thought about it the funnier it seemed.
What a tale we would have to tell the other girls when we met them in
As we had had our bath there only remained supper, and we certainly did
justice to it when we finally arrived at Mrs. Butler's house on North
Vine Street. It was after eight o'clock and we were ravenous. The rooms
we had in that house, while they were nothing compared to what we
almost had, were still very comfortable, and we were in such high
spirits that any place at all would have looked good to us. Our long
day in the open air had made us sleepy and it was not long before we
were all touring in the Car of Dreams.
While we were eating breakfast in Mrs. Butler's big, airy dining-room
we heard a boy arrive at the kitchen door and ask for the "automobile
ladies." He had been sent out from the telegraph office and the hotel
clerk had told him where we were. He handed Nyoda a message. As she
read it a surprised and puzzled look came into her face.
"What is it, Nyoda?" we all cried.
She handed us the bit of yellow paper. It was what is called a service
message from the telegraph company, and read: "Message sent Gladys
Evans Potter Hotel Ft. Wayne undelivered. No such party registered."
We stared in open-mouthed astonishment. Gladys and the others not in
Ft. Wayne? If they weren't there, where were they? We were expecting to
join them this very morning. Nyoda came to a sensible conclusion first,
as she always does, "Where are they?" she repeated. "Why, stranded in
some place along the road, just as we are, of course. We're not the
only ones that can have accidents. I thought Gladys would get into some
trouble or other at the rate she was driving that car. I hope none of
them got hurt, but it serves them right if they did have a hold-up of
some kind. And I hope the trouble, whatever it is, keeps them tied up
until we overtake them. We must ask at every village whether the
Striped Beetle is there. Wouldn't we laugh to see them standing around
some garage waiting impatiently for the damage to be mended?"
It was nine o'clock before the Glow-worm was in running order again and
we were ready to take the road once more. Since being towed into the
repair shop the night before we had seen nothing of the Frog, and I
concluded that he had gone on his way and would cross our path no more.
But we had not gone many miles on the road when I saw the now familiar
roadster traveling leisurely along behind us. I mentioned the fact
casually to Nyoda as I was sitting beside her, and while she made no
comment whatever, I noticed that she began gradually to increase the
pace of the car. As yet neither of us had hinted at our unspoken
antagonism to this persistent follower--for Nyoda was antagonistic to
him, because I noticed that she bit her lip in an annoyed way when she
saw him again. After all, he might not be following us. He certainly
had every right in the world to be traveling in the general direction
of Chicago over the public highway at the same time we were making our
And yet--why did he stay all night in S---- when there was nothing the
matter with his car, and when accommodations were so very scarce. We
hadn't the least idea where he had stayed, but he must have been in
S---- all night or he couldn't have followed us out in the morning. Even
that fact, which might have been a coincidence, did not convince me so
much that he was following us as my own intuition did. And I have
learned by experience to respect those intuitions. Out of a whole
dining-room full that man had been the only one who had attracted my
attention, and I felt antagonistic toward him instantly. I had the same
feeling when I saw him behind us on the road to Napoleon. And the worst
part of it was that he had done absolutely nothing to make me feel that
way toward him. He hadn't been impertinent, in fact, he had never said
a single word to any of us! All he had done was to stare searchingly at
Nyoda through that goggle mask of his. There was nothing the matter
with his looks, goodness knows. All we could see under the big goggles
were part of a nose and a brown mustache and they looked harmless
enough. Then why did Nyoda and I both have the same feeling toward him?
We inquired carefully all the way, but nowhere did we come upon any
trace of the Striped Beetle. At several places they had seen the brown
car go by the day before and at one place it had stopped for gasoline,
but no one knew of any repairs that had been made on it. The thing
began to loom up like a puzzle. If the Striped Beetle had not been
delayed by accident why had not Gladys arrived in Ft. Wayne the night
before as per schedule.
"Possibly they did arrive all right, and didn't go to a hotel because
you weren't with them," suggested Sahwah. "Gladys may have friends
there and they may have stayed with them." That fact was so very
probable that we ceased to worry about the girls, trusting that the
whole thing would be made clear when we got to Ft. Wayne.
We were in Indiana now, running through beautiful farm country, with
occasional tiny villages. Sahwah made up a game, estimating the number
of windmills we would see in a certain time and then counting them as
we passed to see how near she came to being right. As we were keeping a
sharp lookout on each side of the road so as not to miss any, we saw a
girl running across a field toward the road just ahead of us. She was
waving her arms and we looked to see whom or what she was waving at,
but there was nothing in sight.
"I actually believe she's waving at us!" said Sahwah. There was no
mistake about it. The girl stood still in the road waiting for us to
come up and motioned us to stop. We did so. She stood and looked at us
for a minute as if she were afraid to speak. I looked back to see if
the Frog was gaining on us. The red roadster had disappeared. The girl
who stood before us looked about eighteen or twenty. She wore a plain
suit of dark blue cloth with a long skirt down to the ground and a
white sailor hat with a veil draped around it that covered her face. In
her hand she held a small traveling bag. She looked beseechingly from
one to the other of us and then her eyes came back to Nyoda.
"Could you--would you--will you take me to Decatur?" she faltered.
"I'll pay you whatever you think it's worth," she added hastily. Now
Decatur was out of our course altogether, some miles to the south. We
were hurrying to Ft. Wayne to find out what had become of Gladys and
why our telegram had come back unanswered. But this girl was plainly in
trouble. Through the veil we could see that her face looked haggard and
her eyes were big and staring. She looked frightened to death. No girl
in trouble ever came to Nyoda in vain.
"Do you want to go to Decatur very badly?" she asked, gently.
"I must go," said the girl, earnestly. "I have to catch a train there,
the train for Louisville." She checked herself when she had said that
and looked around as if afraid she had been overheard.
"But why go to Decatur?" asked Nyoda. "You can get the Louisville train
in Ft. Wayne. We are going directly to Ft. Wayne and are nearer there
now than Decatur. We will be very glad to take you along."
But at the mention of Ft. Wayne the girl shrank back. "No, no, not
there," she said in evident terror. "They--they would be watching for
Nyoda looked at the girl keenly. She must have seen what we did not.
"My dear," she said, in a big sister tone, "are you running away from
The girl started and looked haunted. "Yes, I am running away," she said
in a tone of desperation, "but I'm not running away from home. I'm
running back home. Home to my mother." She looked over her shoulder at
a house set far back from the road.
"Tell me about it," said Nyoda, with that smile of hers that never
fails to win a confidence. The girl looked into Nyoda's eyes and did
not look away again. It's the way everybody does.
"I'm Margery Anderson," she said. "You know now who I am and why I'm
Yes, we all knew. The papers all over had been full of the fight Mr.
and Mrs. Anderson, who were separated, had been making to get
possession of their daughter Margery. The law had given her to her
mother, but she had been kidnapped twice by her father and the last
that had been published about her was that she was in the keeping of an
uncle, who was hiding her from her mother. But the papers had said that
Margery was only thirteen years old. This girl looked older.
"My uncle wants to take me to Japan, where I'll never see my mother
again," she said. "I want my mother!" she finished with a very childish
Nyoda got out of the car and put her arm around her. "You shall go to
your mother, my dear," she said. "We'll take you to Decatur."
In walking to the car Margery fell all over the long skirt she was
wearing, and then we realized that she was dressed up in someone else's
clothes to make herself look older. She was only thirteen after all.
Nyoda had been able to observe this right away when she had looked at
her closely. She was as straight and as slender as a boy and the jacket
modeled for an older woman hung on her as on a pole.
"Do you know the road to Decatur?" asked Nyoda. Margery said that she
did, and told Nyoda how to turn. Our arrival in Ft. Wayne would be
delayed an hour or so by going to Decatur, but none of us minded. We
were all keenly interested in this much talked of young girl and were
anxious to see her get to her mother before her uncle could stop her.
Who would not have done the same thing in our place?
"What time does the Louisville train leave Decatur?" asked Nyoda,
looking at her watch.
"Eleven-thirty," said Margery.
Nyoda put the watch back hastily and increased the speed of the car.
She did not say what time it was and none of us asked her, thinking
that the time might be short and Margery would be worried for fear we
would not make it. We knew Nyoda would make it if she possibly could do
so. Margery looked at her inquiringly, and Nyoda answered with a bright
reassuring smile. Once Nyoda and I caught each other looking behind at
the same moment and we each smiled faintly. The red roadster was
nowhere in sight. By making this detour to Decatur while it was delayed
on the road we had undoubtedly thrown it off the track.
We could not have been many miles from Decatur when a shot startled us.
We all looked around expecting to see Margery's uncle after us, but it
was only the bursting of a tire. Only the bursting of a tire! But to
this day I hold that that tire did not burst of its own accord. Fate
deliberately jabbed a pin into it. We carried an extra and with the
help of a farmer who was passing we jacked up the Glow-worm in a hurry
and put on its new gum shoe, Margery walked up and down the road
nervously during the process. I suppose the minutes seemed like hours
I beguiled the time by scribbling verses in my note-book to celebrate
"Tires, brand new tires, I know not what they mean,
Freshly inflated from the Free Air pump,
Giving no warning of their base designs,
Scatter in air with a terrific bang,
And all upon a sudden are no more.
"Sweeter it is than dreams of paradise
To ride with friends beside one in one's car,
O'er sunlit roads; past fields of waving grain.
Bitter it is as drops of greenest gall,
To blow a tire, and sit there in the sun."
At this juncture the exchange of tires was completed and we were off
once more. I saw Nyoda look at her watch.
"What time is it?" asked Margery.
"My watch has stopped," answered Nyoda. There was a clock on the corner
of two streets in the next village we passed through and the hands
pointed to eleven. This would give us plenty of time. We were not far
from Decatur. We all breathed a sigh of relief, for we had been afraid
that the bursting of the tire had caused us to miss the train. Nyoda
calculated closely and announced that we would have time to stop and
buy gasoline. She was not sure whether we had enough to make Decatur or
not, and it would be a shame to go dry outside the very walls of Rome,
she said. It took the young boy in charge of the place where they sold
the gasoline some minutes to fill our tank, as he was only looking
after the place while the proprietor was out and he was awkward. It was
ten minutes after eleven when we got under way again. Nyoda set her
watch by the clock.
When we got into Decatur we had an unpleasant surprise. All the clocks
we came to said ten minutes to twelve. The other clock we had seen had
been half an hour slow. We hurried to the station in the hope that the
train was late, but there was no such luck. It had been on time for
once. Margery sank down on the seat in the waiting-room and looked at
us with wide frightened eyes. Clearly she was appealing to Nyoda to
tell her what to do.
"When is the next train to Louisville?" Nyoda inquired at the ticket
"None until to-morrow noon," was the reply.
Margery looked so dismayed that Nyoda said hastily, "Why won't you go
to Ft. Wayne and get the train there? The fast trains that don't stop
here stop there and you can get one later in the day."
But Margery looked more frightened than ever. "I can't go to Ft.
Wayne," she said. "My uncle would expect me to go there and would have
the station watched. That's why I wanted to go to Decatur. They would
never think of looking there for me. What shall I do. I know I'll never
get to mother!"
She looked so young and babyish and helpless that Nyoda made up her
mind on the spot that she was not the kind of girl who could be left on
her own resources.
"Tell me," she said, "does your mother expect you to-morrow?"
Margery shook her head. "She doesn't even know that I'm coming."
"Then," said Nyoda decidedly, "I'm not going to leave you to find your
way there alone. We will be going through Louisville in a few days and
you're going to stay right with us until we get there. Your uncle will
probably be having trains watched and would never think of you in an
automobile. It is the best solution of the problem. We'll get you a
dress and veil like the other girls and everyone will think you are one
of our party. In that case you don't need to be afraid to go to Ft.
Wayne, where we must stop, as we will not go near a railway station."
Margery agreed to this plan with such an air of relief that it was
plain to be seen what an ordeal it had been for her to try to travel
With this delay of having to go to Decatur it was past noon before we
got to Ft. Wayne. Once there we were at a loss how to proceed to find
the Striped Beetle and the girls. I believe everyone of us confidently
expected to find them waiting for us at some point where the road
entered the city, and it threw us off our bearings to find they were
not there. Even Nyoda was plainly puzzled what to do. We found the
little Potter Hotel where we were to have stayed and asked to see the
register. It was possible that the girls had been there after all in
spite of the telegram not having been delivered. Telegrams have failed
to connect before. But they had not been there. If they had stayed with
friends we did not know where they were now. It was a riddle. Not
getting any light on the subject we decided to eat our dinner before we
We checked our cameras and the man at the checking counter looked at us
closely when we came up. There was no one else there and he seemed
inclined to be talkative.
"There was a party just like you here yesterday," he said.
"What do you mean by 'just like us?'" we asked.
"Same clothes," he answered. "Four girls in tan suits and green veils
and one in a blue suit and white veil."
We all looked at each other. The four girls were evidently ours, but
who was the one in blue?
"What time were they here?" we asked.
"About five o'clock yesterday afternoon," he answered. "They checked
some things here and then went into the dining-room."
Five o'clock was the time we should all have reached Ft. Wayne if
things had gone right.
"Have you any idea where they have gone now?" we asked, eagerly.
"They were on their way to Chicago, going through Ligonier," answered
the man. "I heard them talking about it. They seemed to be in a great
hurry and were only in the dining-room about fifteen minutes. The one
in blue kept telling them to make haste."
"The plot thickens," said Sahwah. "Gladys is mixed up in some adventure
of her own, apparently. She's not running away from us for the fun of
the thing, you can rest assured. I never thought so from the first.
She's probably taking some distressed damsel to Chicago in a grand rush
and counts on us to trust her until we catch up with her and hear the
"Yes," agreed Nyoda, "she must have had some urgent reason for acting
so, that's a foregone conclusion."
"It's a _four gone_ one all right," said Sahwah, but Nyoda's mind
was too busy with wondering about Gladys to notice the pun.
"I think the best thing to do is to follow them as fast as we can,"
"I think so too," said Nyoda.
Puzzled as we were about Gladys's strange behavior, we were yet
relieved of all anxiety about the Striped Beetle and its passengers.
The girls were on their way to Chicago by way of Ligonier, the way we
had planned in the beginning, and had undoubtedly not fallen by the
wayside. We did wait long enough in Ft. Wayne to buy Margery a suit and
veil just like ours and were surprised and gratified to find that we
could get a suit exactly like ours down to the last button.
"Who do you suppose the girl in blue is with Gladys?" we asked each
other, as we took the road again. But, of course, no one could answer
I was sitting in the front seat beside Nyoda. We had not gone very far
on the way when I saw her knit her brows in a frown and heard her
mutter to herself, "I thought we had lost you!" At the same time she
increased the speed of the car. Naturally, I looked ahead in the
direction in which she was looking, but there was nothing in sight.
Then I looked behind. About a hundred yards behind us was the red
roadster with the Frog calmly sitting at the wheel. How did Nyoda know
he was there? She had not turned around since we had left Ft. Wayne.
"Have you an eye in the back of your head?" I asked, curiously.
"No, but I have one in the back of my collar," she answered, trying to
hide her annoyance in a joke. "I just had a feeling he was there," she
This time I actually had a chill when I saw him. There was something
terrifying in that figure always following us, never coming any nearer,
never saying anything, but yet, never losing sight of us. Those mask-
like goggles and the cap he wore pulled low over his face made him look
like one of the creatures you see in a bad dream.
We had spent so much time in Ft. Wayne looking for a suit for Margery
that it was four o'clock before we finally got under way. The morning
had been fine, but the afternoon was misty and chilly. It must have
rained not long before, for the road was muddy. We did not make such
very good time, for the car began to act badly, and it was soon evident
that something was wrong. We began to run slowly. Involuntarily, I
glanced around to see how much the roadster was gaining on us. It had
slowed down too and was going at exactly our pace. By this time the
other girls could not help noticing that it was following us. Margery
crouched in the seat and clung to Sahwah's arm. She was sure it was her
uncle after her, and then I had to explain that the Frog had been
following us all the way from Toledo, before we had taken her in.
We had expected to make Ligonier in a very short time and reach South
Bend before night, but as things turned out we never got there at all.
Somewhere between Ligonier and Goshen, at a little town called
Wellsville, the poor Glow-worm must have been taken with awful pains
in its insides, for it began to pant and gasp like a creature in
misery, and utter little squeals of distress. There was nothing left to
do but hunt up the one garage in town, which fortunately had a repair
shop in connection with it, and get someone to look at the engine. I
don't pretend to know anything about the machinery of the car, so I
haven't the slightest idea what was the matter, but the man talked
knowingly about magnetos and carburetors and said he could have the
trouble fixed by eight o'clock in the evening. We were vexed that it
should take so long, because we had expected to make South Bend early
in the evening, but there was no help for it, so we repaired to the
hotel next door--"hotel" by courtesy, for it was nothing more than a
wayside inn--for supper.
It was raining a fine drizzle, and, as we did not care to walk around
in it, after supper we sat in the stuffy parlor and tried to pass away
the hours until the Glow-worm would be cured of its sickness and we
could resume our journey. The carpet on the floor was a mixture of
hideous red and pink roses on a green background. I can see that carpet
yet. It was a Brussels, and Sahwah kept referring to it as one of the
Belgian Atrocities. There was a larger room opening out of the parlor
in which we sat, a sort of general reception and smoking-room combined.
There was an old square piano out there and some young man was banging
ragtime on it, while half a dozen others leaned over it and roared out
songs in several different keys at once. All around the room sat men,
smoking until the air was blue, and talking in loud voices, or shouting
snatches of the songs. They seemed a rather noisy lot and from the
scraps of conversation we heard we judged that they had come from
somewhere to attend the September horse races which were being held in
the neighborhood. At any rate, the hotel was swarming with them and we
were glad that we were to get out of there by eight o'clock and did not
have to stay all night. Once one of them walked into the parlor where
we sat and said "Good evenin', ladies," in an impertinent sort of way,
but we all froze him up with a glance and he went out without saying
anything more to us. We saw him cross the other room toward a door at
the farther side, and, as he crossed the floor we saw someone else get
up from a chair in the corner of the room and go out after him. The
second man was right under a light and we recognized the Frog, still
with his goggles and cap on. Soon there came a loud uproar from the
invisible room and unmistakable sounds of scuffling. We waited to hear
no more. If there was going to be a quarrel in that hotel we did not
wish to see any of it. We ran out in the rain and went into the garage
where the man was working on the Glow-worm. The quarrel we had fled
from didn't amount to anything after all, I suppose, for in a few
minutes we heard the men back at their singing.
It was now nearly eight o'clock and we looked anxiously from time to
time at the Glow-worm to see if it was nearly finished, but some of the
parts were scattered out on the floor and the man was wrenching away at
what was left in the car and did not seem to be in any hurry to put the
others back. At eight o'clock it was not done and Nyoda asked him how
soon it would be.
"Not before nine or nine-thirty, Miss," replied the man.
The rain had stopped and we walked up and down the main street for the
next two hours, stopping in at the garage every time we passed, in the
vain hope that the work was finished and we could go on. But it was not
to be so. It was half past ten before it was finally ready and that was
too late to start. We realized that we would have to stay in that inn
all night, much as we were disinclined to do so. The racket was still
in full blast when we returned and were shown to rooms. We had to go up
on the third floor because the other rooms were all taken by the
racketers. The ceiling sloped down on our heads and the windows were
small and the furniture was exceedingly cheap, but it was a place to
stay and that was the main thing.
"There's only one quilt on my bed," said Nakwisi rather disdainfully,
"and I don't believe that has more than an eighth of an inch of batting
"I think an eighth of an inch is a pretty good batting average for a
hotel quilt," giggled Sahwah, whose spirits nothing can dampen.
We made up our minds to get up at six o'clock and get a good early
start the next morning. As things turned out we got a much earlier
start than we had anticipated. Margery didn't like the room at all and
cried while she was undressing, and Nyoda had to pet her and make a
fuss over her before she would lie down in the bed. I couldn't help
wondering just what Nyoda would have done to one of us if we had cried
about that hotel room. But then Margery isn't a Winnebago, and that
makes a lot of difference.
We went to sleep with the banging of the piano and the sound of the
songs floating up from downstairs, and each of us puzzling about the
appearance of the Frog and wondering why he hadn't approached us in the
parlor if he were really trying to make our acquaintance. Possibly he
meant to, later, only we upset his plan by going out when we did, I
reflected. It really had been rather an eventful day, I thought, even
if we hadn't made much progress with our trip. Think of spending a
whole day in going a distance that should have consumed at the most
only a few hours! We really must get an early start to-morrow and make
Chicago in good time, or be laughed at for running a lame duck race, I
thought as I dropped off to sleep.
I woke up with the strangest feeling I have ever had in my life. I
remember dreaming that we had left the door open, and all the tobacco
smoke from below had floated up into the room and was choking me. When
I first awoke I thought that the racketers were still at it below, for
from somewhere there came a horrible din. There was the sound of many
voices shouting unintelligible things, when suddenly above the roar one
voice shrieked out "Fire!" Then I knew. The room was filled with smoke,
dense and choking.
"Wake up!" I shouted, shaking Sahwah, who was sleeping with me. I
dragged her out of bed and we two ran into the other room where Nyoda
and Nakwisi and Margery were sleeping. The smoke was still thicker
there and I believe they must have been nearly suffocated. We had hard
work rousing them. Above the shouts of the people in the street below
we could hear an ominous crackling that increased every minute. At
first I was so frightened I could hardly move. It was the first time I
had ever been in a burning building. The time the tepee burned we were
out of it in one jump, before we had realized what had happened. I
shudder yet, when I hear crackling wood.
Nyoda's voice roused me to action. She had regained her wits and was
cool-headed as usual. Margery clung to her and screamed and she shook
her and told her to be quiet.
"Carry out your clothes if you can find them, girls," she said calmly,
"but don't wait to put anything on."
We groped through the smoke and found our clothes on the chair beside
the bed, and gathering them up went out into the hall. The hotel was
old-fashioned, with a long, narrow wooden hallway running the entire
length of the up-stairs, crossed in places by other halls. Somewhere
along that hall was the stairway; we had a dim remembrance of the
direction from which we had come up the night before. We had to grope
our way along by keeping our hands on the wall, for the smoke was so
thick that it was impossible to see a step before us. We reached the
stairs at last. After one look we jumped back in alarm. The whole
stairway was one mass of leaping flames. I have never seen such a
dreadful sight. We groped our way back toward our rooms, which were at
the front of the building, intending to lean out of the windows and
shout for help from below. But we lost our way in the smoke and could
not find the way back. There we were, caught like rats in a trap, with
the flames beginning to come through the floor in places, and the smoke
rolling around us in blinding, suffocating clouds. There was no escape,
then. We were to perish in this hotel blaze. Would we ever be
identified? How soon would they know at home? All these things flashed
through my mind as we stood there in the midst of that awful nightmare.
Suddenly something appeared out of the smoke close beside us, something
white and ghostlike. Then a voice spoke. "Follow me, girls," it said,
and we knew that the ghost was a man with a towel tied over his face.
"All of you get in line behind your mother," said the voice thickly,
"and each one hold onto the one in front of you. Don't let go, or
you'll be lost and I can't watch you."
We didn't even smile at his thinking Nyoda was our mother. With the
military precision we have learned from long practice of doing things
together, we formed in a goose line behind Nyoda, each one gripping
tightly the hand of the one ahead of her, and thus we began to move
forward. After what seemed a hundred years, but could not have been
more than five minutes, we felt a gust of fresh air blowing on us, and
knew that we were standing beside an open window.
"This window looks out on the roof of the second story at the back of
the building," said the voice, "and it's an easy drop to the roof."
We had to take his word for it, for the smoke obscured everything so
that we did not know whether we were going to drop three feet or
thirty. The air coming in the window blew the smoke away from our faces
for a moment and we got a breath, or otherwise I am afraid we would
have strangled on the verge of being rescued. Without a moment's
hesitation the hands that belonged to the towel and the voice seized
Nyoda and swung her out of the window as if she had been a feather, and
in a moment her "All right" told that she had landed safely on the
roof. One by one he took us in the same manner. We were still in a
dangerous position, for there was fire under us, although the worst
blaze was at the front of the building, and as far as we could see
there were no ladders anywhere around waiting to take us down.
"Confound these one-horse country towns, anyway", we heard the voice
mutter, "that can't support a decent Fire Department.
"Here," he shouted to the gaping crowd below who were watching the few
that were trying to fight the flames with garden hoses, "bring
It was rather a thrilling moment when we stood on that burning building
waiting for the blankets to come into which we were to jump. Now that I
look back at it I think we must have been a funny sight, for while we
stood there we threw on our jackets over our night-dresses and held the
rest of our belongings in our hands. With all the rest of her
impedimenta Nyoda had rescued her camera, Nakwisi her spy-glass and I
my note-book, and they gave us an odd, jaunty tourist appearance which
must have been amusing. Well, the people came running with blankets and
held them for us to jump and we jumped, although we had to throw
Margery down. She stood there trembling, afraid to jump and there was
no time to argue the necessity of prompt action. We gathered up our
possessions from the people to whom we had tossed them and hastened
into a near-by house where we got ourselves dressed.
Our rescuer had jumped right after us, and by the time we had picked
ourselves up and got our breath back enough to thank him he had
vanished from the scene. He must have been the proprietor, we judged,
for he knew the inside of the hotel so well. Possibly he went back to
rescue some more of his patrons.
After we were dressed we returned to the scene of the fire, which had
drawn people from all the country around, in the usual half-dressed
state in which people go to midnight fires. Of course, there was no
hope of saving the building, for the few thin streams of water that
were playing on it went up in steam as soon as they touched the blaze.
The walls fell in with terrifying crashes and the roof caved in like a
pasteboard box. It had been nothing but a dry shell of a building and
burned like tinder.
"It's an ill wind that blows nobody any good," said Sahwah, giggling
nervously, "that piano is a hopeless ruin and the people around here
won't have to listen to it any more. And even if they do rebuild the
hotel they can never get another piano like it, for there aren't two
such tin pans in existence."
After the rain had stopped that night a fog had settled down and the
glare of the flames through the mist made a weird lurid scene that I
shall never forget. All this time the wind had been from the east,
which drove the flames toward an open square where they could set
nothing else afire, but suddenly it veered to the west, and showers of
burning brands began to fall on the roof of the garage where the Glow-
worm was standing. The scanty water force was then turned to save this
building and we had several anxious moments until the wind shifted
"How foolish I was not to have taken the car out immediately," said
Nyoda. Other people were hurrying to the spot to rescue their cars and
we also went over. The interior of the place had not been damaged by
the small blazes which had been kindled on the roof, though I tremble
to think what might have happened if the gasoline stored inside had
exploded. Thankful that fortune had favored us so far in this night of
accident, we took our way among the other cars in the place to where
the Glow-worm had stood. Then we rubbed our eyes and looked at each
other. For where the Glow-worm had been when we left the place the
night before there was an empty space. A hasty search through the
place, which was not very large, revealed that the car was gone.
Frantically we rushed after the proprietor, who was standing in the
doorway watching the grand spectacle next door. He knew nothing about
the matter. The car had been there when he closed up that night, but as
soon as the fire broke out people had been coming for their cars and
the place had been open. He was much excited over it and declared that
such a thing had never happened before as long as he had been in
business, but then, he added, neither had the hotel ever burned down
To say that we were dismayed was putting it mildly. To have your own
car stolen is bad enough, but when it is a car belonging to someone
else who has kindly loaned it to you to take a pleasure trip in, it is
ten times worse. Nyoda had promised to bring the car back in safety and
she was almost beside herself at the thought of its being stolen. None
of us ever felt like facing Mr. Evans again. We reproached ourselves a
thousand times that we had not gone for the Glow-worm immediately upon
getting out of the burning building, without waiting to dress or stand
around and watch the walls fall. We searched vainly through the line of
motors moving up and down the street for the familiar black body and
yellow lamps of the Glow-worm.
Discouraged and heartsick over this new calamity, we retired to the
park-like square on the other side of the hotel to talk things over and
lay out our course of action. Through the trees in the square we could
see something moving along the road, and, by a sudden glare from the
fire we made out the Glow-worm, proceeding slowly and silently in the
opposite direction, and the man at the wheel was the Frog! We all
darted after him, shouting "Stop thief!" at the top of our voices. The
Frog turned around in the seat, saw us streaming across the square, and
evidently decided that the chase was too hot, for he jammed on the
brakes and jumped from the car, leaving the motor still running. He ran
into a clump of shrubbery and disappeared from sight.
We were too glad to get the car back to hunt for the thief and bring
him to justice. In our relief from the dismay of the moment before we
were ready to hug the old Glow-worm.
"Girls," said Nyoda, "what do you say to starting out for South Bend
this very minute? I don't believe any of us could sleep any more to-
night even if we had a place to do it, which is extremely doubtful.
It's positive folly to leave this car standing around here any longer.
That garage man is too much interested in the fire to take care of his
business. We have no belongings to go back after, for everything we
left in the hotel is lost."
We were thankful then that we had carried so little hand luggage, for
beyond a few toilet articles which could easily be replaced at the next
town we had lost nothing. The trunk with our extra clothes was carried
on the car. We agreed to Nyoda's proposal eagerly. Sleep for the rest
of the night was out of the question and we might as well be driving as
not. It would be a good way to get an appetite for breakfast, we all
"Jump in, girls," said Nyoda, taking her place behind the wheel. "You
sit up here with me, Margery."
Then we had the second shock of the evening. Margery was nowhere to be
seen! We were all sure that she had been there just a moment ago,
clinging to Sahwah's arm and squealing, although we could not remember
whether she had been with us when we ran across the park after the
Glow-worm or not.
"She has gotten separated from us in the crowd," said Nyoda. "You girls
run and find her while I stay here and watch the car."
We hunted everywhere, high and low, asking everybody we met, but there
was no trace of her. Finally, we ran into the garage man and thought it
only fair to tell him that we had found the car. He was much overjoyed
at the fact and listened sympathetically when we told him we had lost
"Did she have on a tan suit like yours?" he asked.
"Yes," we answered eagerly, "have you seen her?"
"I saw a girl in a tan suit driving away just a minute ago with a man
in a red roadster," he answered.
"What did the man look like?" we asked.
"I can't tell you much about his looks," replied the garage man. "He
wore great big green goggles that covered up half of his face. Looked
just like a frog."
We looked at each other in dismay. The Frog had run off with Margery!
We ran in haste to tell the news to Nyoda.
"It's queer," she said. "He must be one of her relations after all,
though I surely thought he had begun to follow us from Toledo. But it
might have been only a coincidence that he was behind us then, for
after all he never said anything to us."
"But why did he take our car first, if it was Margery he was after all
the while?" I asked.
"So we couldn't follow him," said Sahwah, with startling clear-
Nyoda, who doesn't believe in premonitions, had one then. "I don't
believe he's a relative of hers at all," she said, flatly. "I have a
feeling in my bones that he isn't. I also have a feeling that something
has happened to Margery which it is our business to investigate."
In less time than it takes to tell about it we had inquired the
direction taken by the driver of the red roadster and had started in
pursuit. The fog was closing in on us thicker than ever and the Glow-
worm's eyes shone dimly through the white curtain. We could not go
ahead at full speed because we had to proceed slowly and carefully. The
fact that the road was exceptionally good along here was the only thing
that kept us from accident, I suppose. If we had struck some of the
holes that we did a distance back--
We were divided between joy over the fact that the Frog couldn't go any
faster than we were going in that fog and so couldn't use his powerful
car to his advantage, and the fear that he would slip off into some
side road without our noticing it and so escape us. The fog naturally
muffled all sounds, but we recognized at last the steady throbbing of a
motor ahead of us on the road and knew that we were on the trail of the
fugitives. We didn't know whether the Frog knew we were after him or
not, but it seemed to us that the throbs began to grow fainter after a
time as if the car were getting farther away. Finally, they stopped
altogether and we began to realize that after all we had not much
chance to catch up with that powerful car.
"They're leaving us behind," said Sahwah, in a disappointed tone
The next instant we crashed full into a car that was standing still in
the road and which loomed out of the fog with the suddenness of an
apparition. Nyoda had jammed on the emergency brake a half minute
before we struck or there would have been a worse smash. As it was the
Glow-worm was shaken from end to end and I can imagine what the stalled
car felt like.
We experienced all the thrills of the heroines in the moving picture
plays when we ran into that car and expected to see the grotesque face
of the Frog in the light of our lamps, with the terrified Margery near-
by. The next minute showed us our mistake. The man who was standing
beside his car in the road, when we had torpedoed it from the rear was
not the Frog. It was a man we had never seen before. He was all alone.
The automobile was not the red roadster, but a limousine.
We all sprang out to see what damage had been done the Glow-worm. We
were relieved to find it not so terrible after all. Nyoda had given the
steering-wheel a sharp twist the instant she saw she was going to
strike something, and the car glanced to one side, so that it was the
right front wheel and fender that actually struck. The limousine was in
worse shape. Our wheel had jammed into its rear wheel and torn it off,
while the side of the Glow-worm had scraped across the hack of the
bigger car, splintering the wood in places. Every window in the
limousine had been broken by the shock.
The driver of the battered car stood and looked gloomily at the havoc
we had wrought.
"Can't you look where you're going?" he burst out angrily.
"You didn't have your tail lamp lit," replied Nyoda calmly, "and we
couldn't see you in the fog. I tried to turn out but it was too late."
"It's true," said the man, pacifically. "It's my fault, or rather the
fault of the car. I couldn't make the lights burn. That's why I was
standing here. I was afraid to go ahead in the fog."
Then I suppose he was afraid that we could bring suit against him for
the damage done to the Glow-worm because he was standing in the road
without any lights, for he left the limousine and came and looked
carefully at what had happened to us. He was much relieved when he saw
it was no worse. The front wheel wobbled tipsily and the fender was
torn off, but these it appeared were not mortal wounds. His eye went
back from our car to his.
"It's a good thing no one was riding in the back," he said
thoughtfully, looking at the shattered windows. At that very moment a
wail rose from somewhere, coming apparently from the inside of the
limousine. Startled, he leaped over and pulled the door open. He turned
a pocket flash into the car and we could all see that there was
somebody lying on the floor half under the seat. It was a girl in a tan
suit. When the light was flashed into her face she looked up and saw
us. Then she sat up. It was Margery.
"Margery!" exclaimed Nyoda. "What are you doing here?"
Margery got out of the tipping car and ran to Nyoda and hung on her
arm. She was trembling so she could hardly stand. She looked from one
to the other of us with big frightened eyes. The owner of the limousine
regarded her in wide-eyed astonishment.
"How did you get into that car?" asked Nyoda, gently.
"I hid in it," said Margery. "In the garage. And he," she pointed to
the man, "drove away and I was afraid to come out."
"What made you hide in the car?" asked Nyoda.
Margery gave a quick glance around. "I saw my uncle," she said in a
half whisper. "He was looking at the fire. He didn't see me. I ran away
and hid in the garage and when people began coming for their cars I was
afraid they would find me and I got into this one. Pretty soon my uncle
came into the garage. I was down on the floor of the limousine and he
didn't see me. Just then the driver got up in front and began to take
the car out, but I didn't dare open the door and come out. He drove
away with me and I didn't know what to do, so I stayed in. Then the car
stopped on the road and I was going to get out and run away when the
other car came up behind and ran into us. I was afraid it was my uncle
and didn't even come out when the car nearly fell over. But I was
frightened and cried and you heard me and opened the door."
"Tell me," said Nyoda, "was your uncle the man with the goggles?"
"No," answered Margery, "he wasn't. My uncle is a little, thin man with
"It's a mercy you weren't hurt," said Nyoda, thinking with a shudder of
the blow we had dealt the limousine. "You did get cut," she cried,
turning the flashlight full on her face. The blood was running down her
cheek from a cut in her forehead and her arm was also bleeding. We tied
her up with strips of handkerchiefs and set her on the back seat of the
The owner of the limousine decided to leave it there and come for it in
the morning, and, as our engine was not hurt we thought best to drive
on. The man offered to pay for having our wheel fixed and the fender
put on again and seemed dreadfully afraid we were going to sue him. He
gave us his name and address and told us to send the bill to him. He
lived in the neighborhood and could find his way home on foot.
After he had disappeared in the fog and the Glow-worm was once more
proceeding on her journey, we suddenly realized that we did not know
where we were nor in which direction we were going. We were not on the
road to Chicago, we knew, because the road we had followed out of
Wellsville in pursuit of the Frog had gone off at right angles to that
road. At the time we had thought only of finding out what had become of
Margery and had followed him blindly. The fog was getting thicker
instead of thinner and it was impossible to see anything like a sign
post. A sharp east wind was blowing that chilled us to the bone. It was
rather a dismal situation we found ourselves in. Of all kinds of bad
weather I hate fog the worst. It makes me feel as if I had lost my last
friend. Nyoda hadn't any idea where she was going, but she kept the car
moving slowly, hoping that we would come to a town pretty soon. We
sounded the horn constantly to warn any other vehicles on the road and
Nakwisi offered to sit in front and keep a lookout with her telescope.
"Telescope!" said Sahwah, scornfully. "What you want is a collide-o-
scope!" Whereupon we all pinched her for making a pun and went on
Just when we got off the road I don't know, but gradually we became
aware that it was not hard earth we were riding over but something that
swished under the wheels like long grass.
"We're in a field!" cried Sahwah.
Nyoda turned the car around and we went a few yards, expecting to get
back into the road every minute. Then suddenly the car began to go down
hill very rapidly, and at the bottom there was a grand splash, and we
found ourselves up to the wheel hubs in water. We had run into a stream
of some kind. The bottom was soft mud and to keep from sinking we had
to go on across. Luckily it was shallow and not very wide and the water
did not come inside the car. Margery screamed all the way across and we
had a rather breathless few minutes, until we came out on the farther
bank. Once on dry land again Nyoda stopped the car and flatly refused
to drive another inch. We were off the road, we had no idea where we
were, and there was too much danger of running into things in the fog.
None of us dared to think what might have happened if that river had
So here we were stranded, at about two o'clock in the morning, in a
field nobody knew where, by a road whose direction we could not even
guess, with a thick mantle of fog rolling around us as dense as the
smoke had been a few hours before. Could it have been only a few hours
before that we came near burning to death? And now we were in nearly as
much danger of freezing to death. Fire and dampness all in one night!
It certainly was a varied experience.
And the cold was no joke. It pierced the very marrow of our bones. We
were not dressed for any such weather as that. We had had two blankets
in the car but there was only one left when we recovered it from the
Frog. Sahwah suggested that we join hands around the Glow-worm and sing
"When the mists have rolled away".
"You'll have to get out and walk around, if you don't want to catch
cold," said Nyoda. We walked up and down for a while, each with a hand
on the other's shoulder so as not to get separated and lost in the fog.
This walk soon turned into a snake dance and then a war dance around
the Glow-worm. It must have been a weird sight if anyone had seen us,
ghostly figures flitting about in the illumined fog around the car. I
suppose they would have taken us for dancing nymphs or will-o'-the-
wisps, or some other creatures which inhabit the swamps.
We really became hilarious as we danced, although it was a serious
business of keeping warm, and on the whole I would not have missed that
night for anything. I adore unusual experiences and I'm sure not many
people have been stalled in a fog when on an automobile trip and have
had to spend the night dancing to keep warm. Margery didn't see the
funny side of it, and you really couldn't blame her, poor thing, for it
was all her fault that we were in this mess and she had been so badly
frightened earlier in the night and then so shaken up when the Glow-
worm ran into the limousine.
She didn't want to dance to keep warm and sat shivering in the car with
the one blanket around her, except when Nyoda made her get out and
Morning came at last and when the sun rose the fog lifted. We found
ourselves in the middle of a field some distance from the road, near
the stream into which we had plunged the night before. We must have
been off the road for some time before we noticed it. The place where
we had run off was where the road turned and we had kept on straight
ahead instead of turning. We got out of the field and followed the
road. It was not a regular automobile road and was not sign-posted. We
did not know whether we had gone north or south from Wellsville the
night before. The fog had us completely turned around. By the position
of the sun, the road extended toward the south. How far we had come we
could not tell. We thought of going back to Wellsville and striking the
main road again, but then Nyoda decided that by finding a road which
ran toward the west we could strike the other trunk line route that
went up to South Bend by way of Rochester and Plymouth. We did not want
to make Wellsville again if we could possibly help it, for fear we
would run into Margery's uncle.
That ride to Rochester was more like a bad dream than anything else. As
I have said, we were not on the main automobile road, and we soon got
into such ruts and mud holes as I have never seen. In places the road
was strewn with stones and we were nearly shaken to pieces going over
them. It was not long before we came to a sound asleep little townlet,
but we didn't have the heart to wake it up and ask it its name, so we
went on to the next. It was then about six in the morning and a few
people were stirring in the main street. We found by inquiry that we
were in the town of Byron and that by turning to the west beyond the
schoolhouse we would strike a road which eventually led to Rochester.
"Eventually" was the right word. It certainly was not "directly". It
twisted and turned and ended up in fields; it wound back and forth upon
itself like a serpent; it dissolved in places into a lake of mud. We
didn't go very fast because we were afraid the wobbly wheel would
wobble off. Hungry as we were we decided to wait until we reached
Rochester before getting breakfast, so we could put the car into the
repair shop the first thing and save time. We staved off the keenest
pangs of hunger by plundering an apple tree that dangled its ripe fruit
invitingly over the road, and I haven't tasted anything so delicious
before or since as those Wohelo apples, as we named them.
The poor Glow-worm minus the one fender looked like a glow-worm with
one wing off and the wobbling wheel gave it a tipsy appearance. Nyoda
frowned as she drove; I know she hated the spectacle we made.
"Needles and pins, needles and pins,
When a girl drives an auto her trouble begins,"
"Aren't we nearly there?" sighed Nakwisi, as she came back to the seat
after rising to the occasion of a bump.
"Long est via ad Tipperarium", replied Sahwah, and then bit her tongue
as we struck a hole in the road.
The morning was beautiful after the foggy night and our spirits soared
as we traveled along in the sunshine, singing "Along the Road that
Leads the Way". But it was not long before there was a fly in the
ointment. Turning around one of the innumerable curves in the road we
saw the red roadster proceeding leisurely ahead of us.
As far as we could make out there was only one person in the car and
that was the driver, and if he had left the scene of the burning hotel
with a girl in a tan suit she was no longer with him. I think Nyoda
would have turned aside into some by-road if there had been such a
thing in sight, but there wasn't. The Frog turned around in the seat
and saw us coming. That action seemed to rouse Nyoda to fury. Two red
spots burned in her cheeks and her eyes snapped.
"I'm going to overtake him," she said with a sudden resolution, "and
ask him pointblank why he is always following us."
At that she put on speed and went forward as fast as the wobbling wheel
would allow. But no sooner had she done this than a surprising thing
happened. The Frog looked around again, saw us gaining on him, and then
the red roadster shot forward with many times the speed of ours and
disappeared around a bend in the road.
"He's running away from us!" exclaimed Sahwah.
"He may be afraid we are going to make it unpleasant for him for
stealing the Glow-worm," said Nyoda. "But," she added, "I can't
understand why he has ventured near us at all since that episode. You
would expect him to put as much space as possible between himself and
"He probably didn't know we were following him," said Sahwah, shrewdly.
But the whole conduct of the Frog since the beginning was such a puzzle
that we could make neither head nor tail out of it, so we gave it up
and turned our attention to the scenery. Behind us a motorcycle was
chugging along with a noise all out of proportion to the size of the
vehicle, and we amused ourselves by wondering what would happen if it
should try to pass us on the narrow road, with a sharp drop into a
small lake on one side and a swamp on the other. But the rider
evidently had more caution than we generally credit to motorcyclists
and made no attempt to pass us, so we were not treated to the spectacle
of a man and a motorcycle turning a somersault into the lake or
sprawling in the marsh.
We certainly were ready for our long delayed breakfast when we finally
got to Rochester, after giving the Glow-worm into the hands of the
doctor once more. The poor Glow-worm! She never had such a strenuous
trip before or after. The man on the motorcycle came into the repair
shop while we were there to have something done to his engine, and he
listened with interest while we were telling the repair man how we had
run into the limousine in the fog. He looked at Margery curiously and I
wonder if he noticed that her suit did not fit her by several inches.
But Nyoda says men are not very observant about such things.
He was a good-looking, light-haired young man, and he stared at us with
a frank interest that could not be called impertinent. I believe there
is a sort of freemasonry between motor tourists, especially when they
are having motor troubles, that makes it seem perfectly all right to
talk to strangers. When the young man asked where we were from and
where we were going we answered politely that we were on our way to
Chicago by way of Plymouth and LaPorte. (We had decided not to go to
South Bend at all, as it was out of the way of the route we were now
traveling.) Nyoda added that we hoped to make Chicago before night.
Here Sahwah advised her to rap on wood. We had planned to make it
before nightfall once before. When we told about the fire the young man
agreed that we certainly had had adventures a-plenty. He ended up by
telling us a good restaurant where we could get breakfast (he evidently
had been in town before) and we hastened to find it, leaving him
explaining to the repairman what was the matter with his motorcycle.
While we were eating breakfast we saw him pass on the opposite side of
the street and enter a building which bore the sign of the telegraph
company. I couldn't help wishing that we knew his name and would meet
him again on the trip, he seemed such a pleasant chap. I am always on
the lookout for romantic possibilities in everything.
The Glow-worm was to be ready to appear in polite society sometime in
the afternoon and we had nothing to do but kill time until then. There
were no picture shows open in the morning so the only thing left for us
to do was to go for a walk through the town. It was terribly hot,
nearly ninety in the shade, and what it was out in the sun we could
only surmise. Margery wanted to keep her veil down because she was
afraid of meeting people, and Sahwah thought it would appear strange if
only she were veiled and suggested that we all keep ours down, but they
nearly stifled us. So we compromised on wearing the tinted driving
goggles, which really were a relief from the glare of the sun, even if
they did look affected on the street, as Nakwisi said. I'm afraid we
didn't have our usual blithe spirit of Joyous Venture, as we walked up
and down the streets of the town, looking, as Sahwah said, "for
something to look at". The frequency with which the Glow-worm was being
laid up for repairs was beginning to get on our nerves. Sahwah remarked
that if we had set out to walk to Chicago we would have been there long
ago, and that the rate at which we were progressing reminded her of
that gymnasium exercise known as "running in place", where you use up
enough energy to cross the county and are just as tired as if you had
gone that far, while in reality you haven't gotten away from the spot.
Nakwisi stood up on a little rise of ground and focused her spy-glass
in the direction of Chicago and said she had better try to get a look
at the Forbidden City from there because she might never get any
Nyoda had torn her green veil on her hatpin and the wind had whipped
the loose ends out until they looked ragged and she was frankly cross.
"When lovely woman stoops to folly,
And learns too late that veils do fray--"
chanted Sahwah, trying to be funny, but no one even laughed at her. We
were too much exhausted from the heat and too busy wiping the
perspiration out of our eyes.
As a town of that size must necessarily come to an end soon, we found
ourselves after a while, beyond its limits and on a country road. We
saw a great tree spreading out its shady branches at no great distance
and made for it. With various sighs and puffs of satisfaction we sank
down in the grass and made ourselves comfortable. Of all the sights we
had seen so far on our trip the sight of that tree gave us the most
pleasure. We had not sat there very long when a young man passed us in
the road. He was the light-haired young man we had seen in the repair
shop. He lifted his hat as he passed but he did not say anything. He
was on foot, from which we judged that he also had some time to kill
while his motorcycle was being fixed.
We did not sit long under that tree after all. First, Sahwah discovered
that she was sitting next to a convention hall of gigantic red ants and
a number of the delegates had gone on sight-seeing excursions up her
sleeves and into her low shoes, which naturally caused some commotion.
Then a spider let himself down on a web directly in front of Margery's
face and threw her into hysterics. And then the mosquitoes descended,
the way the Latin book says the Roman soldiers did, "as many thousands
as ever came down from old Mycaenae", and after that there was no
peace. We slapped them away with leaves for a time but there were too
many for us, so in sheer self-defense, we got up and began to walk back
to town. The only thing we had to be thankful for so far was that the
Frog had apparently vanished from the scene.
We went back to the little restaurant where we had eaten our breakfast
and ordered dinner. We had our choice between boiled fish and fried
steak and we all took steak except Margery, who wanted fish. The heat
had taken away our appetites, all but Margery's, and she ate heartily.
Dinner over, we went out into the heat once more. We went up to see if
the picture show was open yet, for the thought of a comfortable seat
away from the sun and with an electric fan near, was becoming more
alluring every minute. It was open and we passed in with sighs of joy.
Somewhere along the middle of the performance, Sahwah, who was sitting
next to me, gave me a nudge and pointed to the other side of the house.
There sat the Frog, as big as life.
"I should think he'd smother in those goggles," whispered Sahwah.
At the same time Nakwisi, who was on the other side of me, also nudged
me and told me to look around a few minutes later so it wouldn't look
as if she had called my attention. After a short interval I looked.
There sat the motorcyclist directly behind us. How I did wish we could
tell him about the Frog and how he was always following us around, why,
we could not guess.
Before the picture was finished Nyoda thought it was time to go and get
the Glow-worm, which should be finished by that time. But when we got
out into the sun again Margery began to feel dizzy and sick. We were
perplexed what to do. This little country town was not like the big
city where there are rest rooms in every big store. We finally decided
to get a room at the hotel, which was near-by. But here as everywhere,
that miserable Jinx had raised an obstacle against us. There was a
rural church conference going on in town that week and, of course, the
hotel was filled to overflowing. Delegates with white and gold badges
were standing around everywhere and there was not a room to be had.
Margery sat down in the parlor awhile and then said she felt somewhat
better, but she still looked so white that Nyoda refused to set out
with her in the car. As in S----, the clerk gave us the name of a woman
near-by who would let us have a room if we wanted it, and after a while
we went up there. We wanted Margery to lie down on a bed for a while.
But no sooner were we there than she was taken with terrible pains.
Thoroughly alarmed, Nyoda went across the street where a doctor's sign
swung on a post before a house and brought him over. Margery was very
ill by this time and the doctor said she had symptoms of ptomaine
poisoning. He asked what she had eaten for dinner. At the mention of
fish he nodded his head gravely. Eating fish with the thermometer at
ninety-five degrees is a somewhat hazardous proceeding, he remarked.
How glad we all were then that we had taken the steak, even if it was
tough! The doctor gave Margery some medicine and said we needn't worry
because she wouldn't get any worse, and left us with a few more remarks
about eating fish in a restaurant in hot weather.
Margery was more distressed about having delayed our start than she was
over her own discomfort, so we had to make light of it, even though we
were dismayed ourselves. Now the Glow-worm was ready and we were not! I
couldn't help feeling that it had been no ordinary fish from the near-
by lake that Margery had eaten, but one of the fateful fishes of the
zodiac itself, especially prepared for the occasion. For it soon became
evident that we could not leave town that night. Margery was feeling
better, but was still too weak for automobile traveling.
Nyoda knit her brows for some time. "I'll have to wire Chicago," she
said, thoughtfully. Gladys and the others must be there by this time.
I walked over to the telegraph office with her and stood beside her
while she wrote the message: "Held in Rochester to-night on account
sickness. Address Forty-three Main Street." She directed it to Gladys
at the Carrie Wentworth Inn, the new Women's Hotel where we were to
stay in Chicago. She read it out loud to me, counting over the words.
As we turned away from the window-desk someone turned and went out just
ahead of us. It was the motorcyclist.
Margery was sleeping when we returned, and we sat down beside the bed
and read the paper we had bought at the corner stand. Nyoda gave a
smothered exclamation as she read and pointed to an article which said
that both Margery Anderson's father and uncle were scouring the country
for her, and the uncle was accusing the father of having spirited her
away. The paper said that private detectives were trying to trace her.
Then it was that we remembered the mysterious reappearance of the Frog.
We hadn't much doubt that he was a detective. But if he were a
detective, why had he attempted to steal the Glow-worm? The only reason
could have been the one which Sahwah suggested, namely, that he wanted
to cut us off from following him. He had probably carried away the
wrong girl in the excitement of the fire and did not discover his
mistake until later and then had let her go. This accounted for the
fact that there was no girl in the red roadster when it loomed up ahead
of us in the road that morning.
But why had he run away from us when we tried to overtake him? That was
a baffling question, and the only way we could explain it was that he
was afraid we would accuse him of theft. That he had not gone very far
away from us was shown by the way he had appeared in the picture
theatre that afternoon. But if he was a detective, why did he not
boldly march up to Margery and attempt to take her away from us?
Between the heat and the puzzle we were reduced to a frazzle. We
carefully hid the paper so Margery wouldn't see it when she woke up and
went down to supper. The house was on a corner and it seemed to me, as
I sat at the table that I saw the Frog walking down the side street.
But it was growing dark and I was not sure, so I said nothing about it.
Margery was very weak when she woke up and still unable to eat
anything, and I believe she had a touch of sunstroke along with her
ptomaine poisoning. She was clearly not a strong girl. The room seemed
stuffy and close and we fanned her to make her feel cooler. But we were
still thankful that we were not in the hotel, with its crowd of
delegates and its band continually playing.
Sahwah was telling that joke about the man thinking the car was empty,
when all the while there was a miss in the motor and a "dutchman" in
the back seat, when there came a rap on the door and the lady of the
house came in. A minute later we were all looking at each other in
bewildered astonishment. _She had asked us to leave the house._
"But we've engaged the rooms for the night," said Nyoda.
That made no difference. We could have our money back. She had changed
her mind about letting the rooms.
"You certainly can't think of turning this sick girl out of the house!"
exclaimed Nyoda, incredulously.
Mrs. Moffat's face did not change in the least. She looked from one to
the other of us with a steely glitter in her eye, which was a great
change from the professional hospitality of her manner when she had let
the rooms. "People aren't always as sick as they make folks believe,"
she said, sourly.
"You certainly don't doubt that this girl is sick!" said Nyoda, in
"I'm not saying I doubt anything," replied Mrs. Moffat. "I said I
didn't want you to have the rooms to-night and I meant it."
"Will you please come outside and explain yourself," said Nyoda, "where
it won't excite this sick girl?"
They went down-stairs to the lower hall, where Nyoda argued and pleaded
to be told the meaning of Mrs. Moffat's strange attitude toward us, but
she got no satisfaction. Mrs. Moffat would say nothing more than that
she had a reputation to keep up. When Nyoda defied her to put Margery
out Mrs. Moffat said grandiloquently that her son was on the police
force (I suppose she meant he was _the_ police force) and we would
see what she could do.
Nyoda, at her wit's end, was trying to think of what to say next when
there was a rap on the door and a small boy arrived with a note, which
he would not give into Mrs. Moffat's hand. He just held it up so she
could see what was on the outside. It was addressed to "The black-
haired automobile lady". This, of course, was Nyoda and the boy was
perfectly satisfied to give her the note once he had looked at her.
Wonderingly she unfolded it. It contained only one line: "Go 22 Spring
Street." It was signed "A fellow tourist." Nyoda turned to ask the boy
who had given him the note, but he had disappeared.
22 Spring Street. Spring Street was one block down Main Street. Nyoda
called me to go with her and we went to 22 Spring Street. A perfectly
dear old lady came to the door and, when we asked if she could keep us
all night, she said she would be delighted to. She asked such few
questions that I have a suspicion that she knew all about us already
from the motorcyclist, for we had no doubt that it was he who had sent
Nyoda the note. How he knew Mrs. Moffat was trying to put us out was
beyond us, unless he had been passing the open front door and overheard
her conversation, which had not been in low tones by any means. As the
new place was so near we got Margery over without any trouble and shook
the dust of Mrs. Moffat's house from our feet disdainfully, if still
completely in the dark as to why it should be so.
What had caused the change in her manner toward us? She had been
perfectly cordial at the supper table and asked how we liked the beds.
Something had evidently occurred while we sat upstairs, but what it was
we could not guess. Then, like a flash, I remembered having seen the
Frog sauntering past the house while we were eating supper. Had he gone
to Mrs. Moffat with some story about us which had caused her to put us
out? It sounded like a moving picture plot, and yet we all realized the
possibility of it. We were simply dazed with the events of the day and
evening by the time we reached the new rooms and had put Margery to