Part 3 out of 4
She had her desire. Never was weather more perfect, never were
better country roads discovered and never could there have been a
more jolly party of girls.
Maud was enchanted with Ebbinflow. She declared the watering
place was a perfect fairyland, but some of her companions hinted
that it was the style of the gowns that attracted her. Still they
spent the best part of a day there, enjoying the bathing and
coming back in the cool of the evening much refreshed.
"Now, Bess, it's your choice for our destination to-morrow,"
announced Cora at a little luncheon just before retiring time.
"But please don't choose ruins or a watering place."
"The woods for mine," announced Bess. "I heard of a lovely grove
about twenty-five miles from here - "
"Twenty-five miles to find an ordinary grove," said Maud.
"Oh, but it's not an ordinary one," declared Bess. "It is quite
A delightful fancy dress ball was given that evening at the girls'
club, where our friends stopped, and this made a pleasant break in
the tour and a welcome relief from spark plugs, carburetors and
the cranking of motors, much as the girls had come to care for
Two days more were spent in visiting well-known places of
interest, and on one trip Maud and Bess, who managed to slip away
from their companions, went through several old farmhouses in
search of the table. Once they had hopes that they were on the
track, as an elderly woman declared she had just what they were
looking for, but it proved to be far from it, though she was
anxious to sell it to them.
"Oh, dear, I hoped we could find it," said Bess as they came out.
Next morning Tillie declared it was her turn to say where the trip
should be, and she picked out an exclusive antique shop, about
twenty miles from Breakwater, in which direction the cars were
"I'll get a warming pan if there is one in the place," announced
Tillie, whose love for the old copper pan with the long and
awkward handle was almost a joke with her friends.
"Well, I do hope if you can't get a pan that you'll not load us up
with lead pipe and such stuff," said Cora with a laugh. "I
remember very well that last day at school when you came back from
Beverly. My, what a sight you were! What did you ever do with
"Indeed, it was not junk," objected Tillie, "but a lot of the very
handsomest glass knobs and brass candlesticks, and my samovar."
"You surely did not carry a samovar!" exclaimed Maud.
"Indeed I did," replied the little German, "else I should not have
gotten it in the morning. I know those antique men. They are
like a thermometer - go up and down with simple possibilities."
Ray was as pretty as ever, Maude just as sweet and Daisy just as
gentle, while Cora and Gertrude had added new summer tints to
their coloring. Adele and Tillie were still bubbling over with
enthusiasm, the twins were exceptionally happy, the morning mail
having brought good news - so that all were "fine and fit" when
they started on the ride to the antique shop.
The day was of that sort that comes in between summer and fall,
when one time period borrows from the other with the result of
making an absolutely perfect "blend."
Ray had changed places with Belle Robinson, so that Belle was in
the Whirlwind and Ray in the Flyaway, and when the procession was
moving it attracted the usual public attention.
But the motor girls were now accustomed to being stared at; in
fact, they would have missed the attention had they been deprived
of it, for it was something to have a run with all girls - and
such attractive girls.
"What if we should find the table at the antique shop!" suddenly
said Belle to Ray. "Somehow I have a feeling - "
"Let me right out of your machine, Bess Robinson," joked Ray. "I
have had all I want of `feelings' since we started on this trip.
I rather think the one where the goat or sheep or whatever it was
did the actual `feeling' was about the `utmost,' as Clip would
say. Poor Clip! I wonder what she is about just now."
"About as frisky as ever, I'll wager," said Belle. "I never could
understand that girl."
"Well," objected Bess, "it would be hard to understand any one who
is only in Chelton two months at summer. If you were at school
all year and came home for new clothes, I fancy I would scarcely
understand my own twin sister."
"Strange," went on Ray, "that boys always so well understand a
girl of that type. Now I do not mean that in sarcasm," she
hurried to add, noting the impression her remark had made, "but I
have always noticed that the girls whom girls think queer boys
think just right."
"Pure contrariness," declared Bess. "I don't suppose a boy like
Jack Kimball thinks more of a girl just because she keeps her home
surroundings so mysteriously secret."
As usual, Bess had blundered. She never could speak of Jack
Kimball and Clip Thayer without "showing her teeth," as Belle
The machines were running along with remarkable smoothness. The
Flyaway seemed to be singing with the Whirlwind, while Daisy's car
had ceased to grunt, thanks to the efforts of the workman at her
"What will the antique man think of three autos stopping at his
door?" inquired Adele of Cora.
"Think? Why, it will be the best advertisement he ever had.
Likely he will pay us to come again," replied Cora.
The street upon which "the mahogany shop" was situated was narrow
and dingy enough - the sort of place usually chosen to add to the
"old and odd" effect of the things in the dusty window.
The proprietor was outside on a feeble-looking sofa. As Cora
predicted, he evidently was honored with the trio of cars that
pulled up to the narrow sidewalk. Tillie, with the air of a
connoisseur, stepped into the shop before the little man with the
ragged whiskers had time to recover from his surprise.
"Have you a warming pan?" she inquired straightaway, whereat, as
was expected, the man produced almost every other imaginable sort
of old piece save, of course, that asked for.
But Tillie liked to look at all the stuff, and was already running
the risk of blood poison, as Cora whispered to Gertrude, with her
delving into green brasses and dirty coppers.
With the same thought uppermost in their minds, Bess, Belle and
Cora were soon busy examining the old furniture. There were many
curious and really valuable pieces among the collection, for this
man's shop was famous for many a mile.
"Tables!" whispered Belle. "Did you ever think there were so many
Cora approached the owner. "Have you an inlaid table - a card
table or one that could be used for one? I would fancy something
in unpolished wood."
"I know just what you mean," answered the man, "and I expect to
have one in a few days. In fact, I already have an order for one
- with anchors and oars inlaid."
Cora did not start. She winked at Bess, who was always apt to
"Anchors?" repeated Cora. "Set in on the sides, I suppose? Well,
that would be odd. But where can you get such a piece as that?"
Cora did not mean to ask outright where the piece might be
obtained; what she meant was: "That will surely be a difficult
thing to find."
"Oh, there is one - some place," replied the man, little dreaming
what a tumult his words were creating in the brains of the anxious
motor girls. "And when I get an order I always get the article.
I shall have a warming pan for this young lady by to-morrow noon."
"Then suppose I order a table, like the one with the oars and
anchors?" ventured Cora. "Could I get that?"
"Oh, no, miss," and he shook his head with importance. "You do
not understand the trade. That would be a duplicate, and in
furniture we guarantee to give you an original - I can only get
one seaman's card table, and that is ordered."
Cora smiled and walked off a little to gain time, and to think.
Her manner told the girls plainly not to mention the matter. She
would act as wisely as she was capable of doing. She overhauled
some blue plates and selected a pair of "Baronials."
The man went into ecstasies, describing "every crack in the
dishes," Maud said to Daisy, but Cora bought the plates, and paid
him his price without question.
Adele and Tillie had piled up quite a heap of brass and copper,
and, unlike Cora, they argued some about the cost, but finally
compromised, and put the entire heap into an old Chinese basket
which the man "threw in."
"Then I cannot get a table," said Cora, purposely displaying a
roll of bills which she was replacing in her purse.
"Not exactly that kind," answered the man. "But something very
much handsomer, I assure you. If you will call in a day or two I
will show you something unmatched in all the country. A house has
just sold out, and I have bought all the mahogany."
When Cecilia Thayer in her own little runabout, the Turtle, went
over the road to Mrs. Salvey's cottage, after the visit to the
Hastings, her alert mind was occupied with many questions.
She had advised the mother to go to court to account for her own
child, a most peculiar proceeding, but one insisted upon by a
well-meaning organization, the special duty of which was to care
for children. What sort of story Mrs. Salvey's relative may have
told to bring such a course about, neither she nor Cecilia knew.
But at any rate a private hearing was arranged for, and now
Cecilia was on her way to fetch the widow to town.
Driving leisurely along, for the Turtle could not be trusted to
hurry, Cecilia had ample time to plan her own course of action,
should the judge insist upon having Wren shown in court. This
Cecilia felt sure would be dangerous to the extremely nervous
condition of the child, and it was such a move she most dreaded.
"I will call Dr. Collins," thought Cecilia, "and have him state
the facts, if necessary. But then I would have to give an account
of my own part," came the thought, "and that would mean so much to
me just now."
The "burr r-rr-r" of an approaching automobile startled her. She
turned and confronted Rob Roland.
"Well," he exclaimed, his pleasure too evident, "this is luck.
Were you going to Aunt Salvey's?"
Cecilia was annoyed. But she had no other course than to reply
that she was going to the cottage.
"So am I," replied the young man, "and very likely our business is
of the same nature."
"I am going to fetch her into town to the hearing," spoke up
Cecilia, "and I have to hurry along."
"And I, too, was going to fetch her. She is quite in demand, it
seems," and he stretched his thin lips over his particularly fine
teeth in something like a sneer. "I wish I had known you were
coming out; I should have invited you to ride with me."
"Thanks," said Cecilia indifferently. "But I could hardly have
accepted. I had some calls to, make as I came along."
"Yes, I saw your machine at Hastings. How's the chap getting on?"
"Paul is almost better," replied Cecilia, making an effort to get
out of talking distance. But he knew exactly why she sent her
machine ahead, and while too diplomatic to actually bar her way,
he, too, opened the throttle to increase the speed of his car.
It was very aggravating. Cecilia had expected to have an
important talk alone with Mrs. Salvey.
Without a doubt this was also the very thing Rob Roland intended
to do. If only she could get Mrs. Salvey into her car. But if
she should prefer to ride with her nephew.
For some short distance Cecilia rode along without attempting
conversation with the young man who was driving as close to her
car as it was possible for him to do. Finally he spoke:
"Have you ever been in a courtroom?" he asked.
"No," she replied curtly.
"Then you are sure to make a hit. Bet your picture will be in the
"What!" gasped Cecilia. "I understood this was to be a private
"Nothing's private from the newspaper chaps. They make more of
chamber hearings than the open affairs. Always sure to be
something behind the doors, you know."
The thought flashed through the girl's mind that he was trying to
frighten her - to keep her away from the hearing.
"Well, I hope they have decent cameras," she managed to say
He glanced at her with a look that meant she would make a picture.
And in this, at least, he was honest, for the girl was certainly
attractive in her linen coat, her turn-over collar and her simple
Panama hat. She looked almost boyish.
"Better let me call Aunt Salvey," he said as they neared the
cottage. "But there she is - waiting for us."
Cecilia urged the Turtle slightly ahead, then stopped suddenly.
She was almost nervous with suppressed excitement.
"All ready?" she asked as Mrs. Salvey greeted first her, then the
"Yes. I wanted to be on time," replied the woman, stepping down
from the porch.
"Well, you cannot ride in two cars," called young Roland, "and
this is - if I must be impolite - the best machine, Aunt Salvey."
"But you had an appointment with me," pressed Cecilia, pretending
to joke. "I would not trust even Mr. Roland to get you there on
time, so I came myself."
"Of course," replied the widow, puzzled at the situation, "it was
good of you to come, Rob, but I must go with Miss Thayer. I had
arranged to do so."
"Just as you like," he said, tossing his head back defiantly, "but
you know it would look better. Oh, we know perfectly well where
Wren is," he sneered, "and if you go to see her this afternoon I
am going, too."
So this was his scheme - he would follow them to find the child's
Mrs. Salvey stepped into Cecilia's car. Her face was whiter than
the widow's ruche she wore in her black bonnet. She trembled as
Cecilia took her hand. What if she were making a mistake in
trusting so much to this young girl, and so defying her
antagonistic relatives! What if they should attempt to prove that
she was not properly caring for her child! And if they should
take Wren from her!
"Perhaps I ought not to anger him," she whispered to the girl.
"Do you think I had best go with him?"
"After I have had a chance to say a word or two, you may get out
if you like," replied Cecilia hastily. "But I must caution you
not to mention where Wren is, no matter how they press you. If
they insist upon knowing I shall call Dr. Collins. That is the
most important thing. Next, don't tell who were the last persons
who signed the promise book. Now, you may get out and make a joke
of it. I will trust to luck for the rest."
THE CHILDREN'S COURT
Judge Cowles was a gentleman of what is called the "old-fashioned"
type. He was always gentle, in spite of the difficult human
questions he was constantly called upon to decide, and which
necessarily could not always be decided to suit both parties
involved in the legal dispute. But when Mrs. Salvey walked into
his room and took a seat beside Cecilia Thayer he started up in
surprise. He had known Mrs. Salvey long ago, when she lived by
the sea with her father-in-law, Captain Salvey. Many a time had
judge Cowles ridden in the little boat that the captain took such
pride in demonstrating, for the boat was rigged up in an original
way, and the captain was choice about his companions.
"Why, Mrs. Salvey!" he exclaimed, with the most cordial voice. "I
am surprised to see you!"
Mrs. Salvey bowed, but did not trust herself to speak. She felt
humiliated, wronged, and was now conscious of that deeper pang -
stifled justice. Judge Cowles would be fair - and she would be
Cecilia, young and inexperienced as she was, felt a glad surprise
in the words of the judge; if he knew Mrs. Salvey he must know her
to be a good mother.
A man of extremely nervous type, who continually rattled and
fussed with the typewritten pages he held in his hand, represented
the Children's Society. Evidently he had prepared quite an
argument, Cecilia thought. Close to him sat Rob Roland, and the
stout man whom the motor girls had met on the road after the
robbery of the mailbag. Cecilia recognized him at once, and he
had the audacity to bow slightly to her.
There were one or two young fellows down in the corner of the
room, sitting so idly and so flagrantly unconcerned that Cecilia
knew they must be newspaper men - time enough for them to show
interest when anything interesting occurred.
The case just disposed of - that of a small boy who had been
accused of violating the curfew law - was settled with a
reprimand; and as the crestfallen little chap slouched past
Cecilia, she could not resist the temptation of putting out her
hand and tugging pleasantly at his coat sleeve.
"You'll be a good boy now," she said, with her most powerful
smile. But the agent of the Children's Society, he with the
threatening papers in his hand, called to the boy to sit down, and
the tone of voice hurt Cecilia more than the insolent look turned
fully upon her by Rob Roland.
The judge was ready for the next case - it was that of the
Children's Society against Mrs. Salvey. Cecilia could hear the
hum from the newspaper corner cease, she saw Mr. Reed, he of
Roland, Reed & Company, and the same man who had just bowed to
her, take some papers from his pocket.
Then the judge announced that he was ready to hear the case.
"This woman, your honor," began the nervous man, "is charged with
wilfully neglecting her child in the matter of withholding the
child from relatives who have for years been both supporting and
rendering to the child necessary medical aid."
Mrs. Salvey's face flushed scarlet. Cecilia was almost upon her
feet. But the others seemed to take the matter as the most
ordinary occurrence, and seemed ,scarcely interested.
"This child," went on the agent, "is a cripple" - again Cecilia
wanted to shout - "and mentally deficient."
"That is false!" cried Mrs. Salvey. "She is mentally brilliant."
"One minute, madam," said the judge gently.
"To prove that the child has hallucinations," pursued the man,
reading from his papers, "I would like to state that for some
years she has kept a book - called a promise book. In this she
collected the names of all the persons she could induce to put
them down, claiming that when the right person should sign she
would recover some old, imaginary piece of furniture, which, she
claimed, held the spirit of her departed grandfather."
The man stopped to smile at his own wit. Cecilia and Mrs. Salvey
were too surprised to breathe - they both wanted to "swallow"
every breath of air in the room at one gulp.
"And the specific charge?" asked the judge, showing some
"Well, your honor, we contend that a mother who will wilfully take
such a child away from medical care, and hide her away from those
who are qualified to care for her, must be criminally negligent."
The judge raised his head in that careful manner characteristic of
"And what do you ask?" he inquired.
Cecilia thought she or Mrs. Salvey would never get a chance to
speak - to deny those dreadful accusations.
"We ask, your honor," and the man's voice betrayed confidence,
"that this child be turned over to the Children's Society. We
will report to the court, and make any desired arrangements to
satisfy the mother."
Turn Wren over to a public society! This, then, was the motive -
those Rolands wanted to get the little one away from her own
"Mrs. Salvey," called the judge, and the white-faced woman stood
up. As she did so, Mr. Reed, the lawyer, advanced to a seat quite
close to that occupied by the judge. Rob Roland shifted about
with poorly - hidden anxiety.
"You have heard the charge," said the judge very slowly. "We will
be pleased to hear your answer."
"One minute, your honor," interrupted Lawyer Reed. "We wish to
add that on the day that our doctor had decided upon a hospital
operation for the child, the child was secretly smuggled off in an
automobile by a young girl, and a young sporting character of this
Had Cecilia Thayer ever been in a courtroom before, she might have
known that lawyers resort to all sorts of tricks to confuse and
even anger witnesses. But, as it was, she only felt that
something had hit her - a blow that strikes the heart and
threatens some dreadful thing. The next moment the blood rushed
to her cheeks, relieved that pressure, and she was ready - even
for such an insulting charge.
Mrs. Salvey was again called, and this time she was not
interrupted. She told in a straight-forward manner of the illness
of her little girl, of her own difficulty in obtaining sufficient
money to have the child treated medically, and of how her
husband's cousin, Wilbur Roland, senior member of the firm of
Roland, Reed & Company, had come forward and offered her
"Then why," asked the judge, "did you take the child away?"
Mrs. Salvey looked at Cecilia. Lawyer Reed was on his feet and
ready to interrupt, but the judge motioned him to silence.
"I took her away because I feared the treatment was not what she
needed, and I had others offered," replied Mrs. Salvey.
"Other medical treatment?" asked the judge.
"Yes," answered the mother.
"Then she is being cared for?" and judge Cowles looked sharply at
the children's agent.
"Most decidedly," answered Mrs. Salvey with emphasis. "And not
only is she better, but can now stand - she has not been able to
do that in ten years."
"It's a lie!" shouted Rob Roland, so angered as to forget himself
entirely. "She is a hopeless cripple."
"Have you any witness?" asked the attorney of Mrs. Salvey, while
the judge frowned at Rob and warned him to be careful or he might
be fined for contempt of court.
The mother turned to Cecilia. "This young girl can corroborate my
statement," she answered.
As Cecilia stood up the reporters actually left their places and
very quietly glided up to seats near the trembling girl.
"Would they make a scandal of it?" she was thinking. "That
lawyer's remark about Jack Kimball "
"Your name?" asked the judge.
She replied in a steady voice.
"And your occupation?"
Cecilia hesitated. She was not yet ready to make public the
ambition she had so earnestly worked for.
"A student," she replied finally.
"Of what?" asked Rob Roland.
"Young man," said the judge sternly, "I am hearing this case, and
any further discourtesy from you will be considered as contempt."
The youth smiled ironically. He was already accustomed to such
usage, and did not mind it in the least if only he could gain his
point, but this time he had failed.
"You know the child - Wren Salvey?" asked the judge.
"Yes. I have been in close attendance upon her for some weeks,"
"And you can state that she is improved in health since leaving
her mother's house?"
"Very much improved. If she had not lost a very dear treasure,
over which she grieves, I believe she would be almost well soon."
Cecilia looked very young and very pretty. She spoke with the
conviction of candor that counts so much to honest minds, and
judge Cowles encouraged her with a most pleasant manner. The
newspaper men were scribbling notes rapidly. Rob Roland was
looking steadily at the chandelier at the risk of injury to his
neck - so awkward was his position.
"You are the young lady who removed the child?" questioned the
"Yes," replied Cecilia.
"And her accomplice?" shouted Rob Roland questioningly.
"Leave the room!" ordered the judge. "I think there is a
different case behind this than the one we are hearing. I shall
inquire into it, and, for the good of the child and her wronged
mother, I shall order a thorough investigation. What motive have
those who brought up this alleged case? There is absolutely no
grounds for this action. The case is dismissed."
So suddenly did the relief come to Cecilia that she almost
collapsed. She looked at Mrs. Salvey, who was pressing her
handkerchief to her eyes.
"It is all right," whispered Cecilia. "Oh, I am so glad!"
A stir in the room attracted their attention. Cecilia turned and
faced Jack Kimball.
Jack was hurrying up to the judge's chair, and scarcely stopped to
"Mr. Robinson wishes you to detain these gentlemen a few minutes,"
said Jack to judge Cowles. "He is on his way here."
A messenger was sent to the corridor after Rob Roland. The other
lawyers were discussing some papers, and in no hurry to leave.
Presently Mr. Robinson and two other gentlemen entered. The face
of the twins' father was flushed, and he was plainly much excited.
"I have just heard from my daughters," he began, "who are away on
a motor tour. They state that the day my papers were taken from
the mailbag they met on the road a man answering the description
of this gentleman," indicating Mr. Reed. "They described him
exactly, his disfigured thumb being easily remembered. Now the
young fellow who was `held-up' that day, and who has been sick
since in consequence, also says he felt, while blindfolded, that
same one-jointed thumb. Further than that," and Mr. Robinson was
actually panting for breath, "my girls can state, and prove, that
this same man was at a tea-house near Breakwater discussing
papers, which the young girls who conduct the tea-house plainly
saw. The papers were stamped with the seals of my patent
Rob Roland was clutching the back of the seat he stood near. The
lawyer accused, Mr. Reed, had turned a sickly pallor.
Jack Kimball stepped up. "There is present," he said, "one of the
motor girls who was on the road at that time. She may be able to
identify this man."
What followed was always like a dream to Clip - for, leaving off
legalities, we may again call her by that significant name. She
faced the man to whom she had talked on the road, he who had
wanted to help her with her runabout when she was unable to manage
it herself. It was directly after Paul Hastings left them, and
within a short time of the happening which had meant so much to
Hazel's brother. Clip told this, and, strange to say, the lawyer
made no attempt to deny any part of her statement.
"We are prepared to answer when the case is called," he said.
"But it seems to me, Robinson, you went a long way for detectives.
Did not the motor girls also tell you that they met me on the road
to Breakwater two days ago?"
"Judge, I demand those papers!" called Mr. Robinson. "This fellow
does not deny he took them."
"When the ladies leave the room," said the judge quietly, with
that courteous manner that made Clip want to run up to him and
throw her arms about his neck, "we may discuss this further. We
are indebted to the young motor girl for her identification."
When Clip took Mrs, Salvey out they went directly to the Kimball
home, nor were they now afraid of being followed by the
threatening and insulting Rob Roland.
THE MOTOR GIRLS ON THE WATCH
Cora Kimball was turning away from the antique shop as
indifferently as if nothing there interested her. The other girls
looked at her aghast.
Bess could scarcely be motioned to silence, for the "little
mahogany man" came to close the door of the tonneau, incidentally
to look over his customers.
"If you come again in a day or so," he said to Cora, "I will have
tables," and he rolled his eyes as if the tables were to come from
no less a place than heaven itself. "Oh, such tables!"
"I may," replied Cora vaguely. "But I fancy I may have a seaman's
table made. I would not be particular about an original."
"Wait, wait!" exclaimed the man. "If you do not care for an
original I could make a copy. The one I am to get is something
very, very original, and I will have it here. There is no law
against making one like it."
"Well," said Cora, "I will be in Breakwater for a few days, and I
may call in again. There," as he handed in her blue plates,
"these are splendid. Mother has a collection of Baronials."
Then they started off.
Bess drove up to the Whirlwind.
"Why in the world didn't you ask who had ordered the table?" she
almost gasped. "If you knew that you could easily have traced
"Wait, wait!" exclaimed Cora, in tones so like those of the shop
proprietor that the girls all laughed heartily. "I will go to the
shop again, and then I will see. Perhaps I will get the original
- and then - well, wait - just wait."
"You are a natural born clue hunter!" declared Daisy, "and I am
just dying to get back to Aunt May's to tell Duncan."
"Now see here, girls," called Cora very seriously, so that all
in-the different machines might hear her, "this is a matter that
must not be mentioned to any one. It would spoil all my plans if
the merest hint leaked out. Now remember!" and Cora spoke with
unusual firmness; "I must have absolute secrecy."
Every girl of them promised. What is dearer to the real girl than
a real secret - when the keeping of it involves further delights
in its development?
Once back at Bennet Blade the girls whispered and whispered, until
Cora declared they would all, forsooth, be attacked with
laryngitis, if they did not cease "hissing," and she called upon
Doctor Bennet to bear out her statement.
Duncan was going to Chelton, and of course he took the trouble to
ask what he might do there for the Chelton girls.
What he might do? Was there anything he might not do? The
Robinson girls declared that their mail had not been forwarded,
and they could not trust to mails, anyhow, since their father's
papers had been lost. Would it be too much trouble for him just
to call? To tell their mother what a perfectly delightful time
they were having, and so on.
And Maud Morris hated to bother him, but could he just stop at
Clearman's and get her magazine? She was reading a serial, and
simply could not sleep nights waiting for the last instalment.
Of course he would go to see his uncle, Dr. Bennet, Sr. In fact,
it was with Dr. Bennet he had the appointment; and when Daisy
started to entrust him with her messages to her father, he
insisted that she write them down - no normal brain could hold
such a list, he declared.
Ray was what Bess termed "foxy." She did not ask him to do a
single thing. "She thinks he will fetch her a box of candy, or a
bottle of perfume. That's Ray," declared Bess to Belle.
Cora certainly wanted to send many messages, with the opportunity
of having them go first-hand. It did seem such a long time since
she had seen Jack; then there was Hazel, poor child, penned up
with a sick brother. And Wren and Clip. Why couldn't Cora just
run in to Chelton herself with Duncan?
The thought was all-conquering. It swayed every other impulse in
Cora's generous nature. Why should she stop at the thought of
propriety? Was it not all right for her to ride with Doctor
Bennet, to reach Chelton by noon and return before night?
She must go. She would go if every motor girl went along with
Mrs. Bennet was one of those dear women who seem to take girls
right to her heart. As I have said, she was small and rosy, with
that never-fading bloom that sometimes accompanies the
rosy-cheeked, curly-headed girl far into her womanhood. Cora
would go directly to her, and tell her. She would abide by her
Mrs. Bennet simply said yes, of course. And then she added that
Cora might start off without letting the girls know anything about
it. That would save a lot of explanation.
How Cora's heart did thump! Duncan was going in his machine, and,
like all doctors, he always preferred to have a man drive - his
chauffeur was most skilful - doctors, even when young in their
profession, do not willingly risk being stalled.
But in spite of Cora's one guiding rule - "When you make up your
mind stick to it" - she had many misgivings between that evening
when her plans were made, and the next morning when she was to
start off with Duncan Bennet. The other girls had gone out to an
evening play in Forest Park, one of the real attractions of
Breakwater, and at the last moment Cora excused herself upon some
available pretense so that she was able to get her things together
and see that her machine was safely put up, and then be ready to
start off in the morning before the other girls had time to
realize she was going.
"It does seem," she reflected, "that I am always getting runaway
rides." Then she recalled how Sid Wilcox actually did run away
with her once, as related in the "Motor Girls." "And," she told
herself, "I seem to like running away with boys."
This was exactly what worried Cora; she knew that others would be
apt to make this remark. "But I cannot help it this time," she
sighed. "I have to go to Chelton, or - "
Cora was looking very pretty. Excitement seems to put the match
to the flickering taper of beauty, hidden behind the self-control
of healthy maidenhood. Her cheeks were aflame and her eyes
sparkled so like Jack's when he was sure of winning a hard
"Dear old Jack!" she thought. "Won't he be surprised to see me!
That will be the best part of it. They will all be so surprised."
She went down to the study, where she was sure to find Duncan.
"I suppose your mother has told you of my mad impulse," she began
rather awkwardly. "Do you think the folks will be glad to see
What a stupid remark! She had no more idea of saying that than of
saying: "Do you think it will snow?" But, somehow, when he put up
his book and looked at her so seriously, she could not help
"They ought to be," he said simply. Then she saw that he was
preoccupied - scarcely aware that she was present.
"I beg your pardon," he said directly, "but I was very busy
thinking, just then."
"Oh, I should not have disturbed you," she faltered. "I will go
away at once. I just wanted to be sure that you would wait for me
- not run off and leave me."
"Oh, do sit down," he urged. "My brain is stiff, and I've got to
quit for to-night. I haven't told you what takes me to Chelton -
in fact, I haven't told mother. You see, she thinks I am such a
baby that I find it better not to let her know when I am on a
case. But the fact is, I am just baby enough to want to tell some
He arranged the cushions in the big willow chair, and Cora sat
down quite obediently. She liked Duncan - there was something
akin to bravery behind his careless manner. "What he wouldn't do
for a friend!" she thought.
"Your case?" asked Cora. "I am very ignorant on medical matters,
but I should love to hear about the Chelton case. I fancy I know
every one in Chelton."
"Well, you know Uncle Bennet, Daisy's father, is quite a surgeon,
and he has been called in this case by Dr. Collins. It is a
remarkable case, and he has asked me to come in also."
"It is that of a child who has been a cripple for some years, and
who now is making such progress under the physical-training system
that she promises to be cured entirely.
"A child?" asked Cora, her heart fluttering.
"Yes; and I rather suspect that you know her." He seemed about to
laugh. "Uncle mentioned your brother's name in his invitation for
me to go in on the case."
"Oh, tell me," begged Cora, "is it Wren?"
"Just let me see," and he looked over some letters. "It seems to
me it was some such fantastical name - yes, here it is. Her name
is Wren Salvey."
"Oh, my little Wren! And Clip is doing all this! Oh, I must go!
Is she going to be operated upon?"
"Seems to me, little girl," and the young doctor put his hand over
hers as would an elderly physician, "that you are over excitable.
I will have to be giving you a sedative if you do not at once
quiet down. The child is not to be operated upon, as I understand
it. It is simply what we call an observation case."
"But she is at our house - she has been there since I came away.
Why, however can all that be going on at home and no one there but
the housekeeper - "
"The child was at your house, but is now in a private sanitarium,"
he said quickly. "I have had the pleasure of being in close
correspondence with your friend Clip."
CORA 'S RESOLVE
For a moment Cora was dumfounded. Duncan Bennet a close friend of
The next moment the riddle was solved.
"Why, of course you know Clip," she said. "She goes to your
"Yes," and he ran his white fingers through his "fractious" hair.
"The fact is, Cora, I am quite as anxious to see Clip as to go in
on the case. Haven't seen her since school closed."
"I'll likely have some trouble in finding her," he added
presently. "Never can find her when I particularly want to, but
if she is in Chelton I'm going to hunt her up."
"Won't she be at the sanitarium?" asked Cora, and she wondered why
her own voice sounded so strained.
"I think not," he replied. "Clip is a poster-girl, in our
parlance, and we don't let them in on real cases."
"Poster?" asked Cora.
"Yes; it means she has had her picture in the college paper, with
`Next' under it. I don't mind saying that I cut out that
"It must be lots of fun to be in such affairs," said Cora. "I
have often thought that the simple life of society is a mere
bubble compared to what goes on where girls think."
"Well, I am going early," he said pleasantly. "I suppose you
don't mind running away before breakfast."
"No, indeed," she answered. "I rather fancy the idea. If I ever
trusted myself to meet the girls I would surely `default.'"
"All right. My man is always on time. Mother will see that we
are not hungry - I've got the greatest mother in the world for
looking after meals."
Cora laughed, and arose to go.
"I've told you a lot," he said rather awkwardly, "but somehow I
felt like telling you."
"You may trust me," replied Cora lightly. "I have such a lot of
secrets, that I just know how to manage them - they are filed
away, you know, each in its place."
"Thanks," he said. "You know, we don't, as a rule, speak about
our professional friends. Don't say anything to Daisy about Clip.
I think she would die if she knew I fancied her."
He said this just like a girl, imitating Daisy.
"Why, she likes Clip," declared Cora. "We all do."
"Wait," he said, and he raised a prophetic finger, "wait until
Clip sails under her own colors. Then take note of her friends.
This is the thorn in her side, as it were. She speaks of it
How Cora's head throbbed! Perhaps, as Duncan had said, she was
over excited. But just now there seemed so many things to think
If she went to Chelton she might hear something that would give
her a clue to Wren's book. Jack insinuated that he had a clue
when he spoke to her over the 'phone. What if she should be able
to trace both the book and the table! And bring Wren into her
As if divining a change in the girl's mind, Duncan Bennet said:
"Now, you won't disappoint me? I am counting on your company."
"Well, I shall have to dream over it," replied Cora. "Mother says
it is always safest to let our ambitions cool overnight."
"`Think not ambition wise, because 'tis brave?'" he quoted. But
he did not guess how well that quotation fitted Cora's case.
It seemed scarcely any time before the girls were back from the
park, just bubbling over in girlish enthusiasm about the wonderful
woodland performance. And that Cora should have missed it! Even
Gertrude, the staid and steady, could not understand it.
The Bennets' home was a very large country house, but with all the
motor girls scattered over it the house seemed comparatively
small. Chocolate and knickknacks were always served before
bedtime, and Daisy had reason to be proud of her part in the
entertainment of the girls.
"And to-morrow," said Adele, between mouthfuls of morsels, "we
shall have to decorate for the fete. I am going to do the
Whirlwind all my own way, am I not, Cora?"
"You certainly may," replied Cora vaguely. "I am the poorest hand
at decorating. I prefer driving."
And they all wondered why she took so little interest in the
preparations for the fete.
"I know," whispered Bess. "You are thinking of that little
mahogany man. And so am I. I can't just wait to see the table."
Bright and early, the next morning the girls were astir. They had
need to be "up with the lark," for the gathering of stuffs with
which to decorate cars is quite a task, and they planned to make
the fete a memorable affair, as Belle put it.
"Wait till Cora comes down," said Tillie. "Won't she be surprised
that I have already been over the meadow, and gotten so many
beautiful, tall grasses!"
Mrs. Bennet appeared at that moment.
"My dears," she began, "I have a surprise for you. Cora has taken
a run home - she really had to go, but she will be back by
nightfall. Now, there," to Daisy, "you must not pout. Cora has
been a faithful little captain, and, from what I understand, there
have been a great many things to demand her attention at home. Go
right on with your plans, and make her car the very prettiest, and
when she gets back she will have some reason to be proud of her
allies. I have arranged to be at home all day, and to do whatever
I can to assist you, in Cora's place."
The girls were utterly surprised, but what could they say? Show
displeasure to so affable a hostess? Never!
What they thought was, of course, a matter of their own personal
A WILD RUN'
"Speed her up, Tom," ordered Dr. Duncan Bennet to his chauffeur,
as he and Cora started out that bright, beautiful morning. "We
will have all we can do to cover the ground and make home by
"Without a single stop," remarked Cora, "I calculated we could do
it. Do you think there is any possibility of us failing to get
"Tom knows no end of short cuts," said Duncan, settling himself
down comfortably. "We take quite a different route to that which
you girls came over."
"Oh, yes, of course. We could never get to Chelton and back in
one day over the roads which we came by," replied Cora.
"The one controlling thought is," said the young physician, "that
an automobile is not a camel. No telling when its thirst will
demand impossible quenching. But this is a first-rate car," he
went on, "and it has never gone back on me yet."
"It rides beautifully," agreed Cora, as the machine was speeding
over the roads like the very wind. "After all, I do believe that
an experienced chauffeur is a positive luxury "
"Now, now!" exclaimed Duncan. "Don't go back on your
constitution. You will have to report, I suppose. What do you
imagine our little girls are thinking and doing about now?"
Cora laughed. Duncan seemed amused at the idea of "stealing" the
captain of the club - he liked nothing better than a "row" with
"Well, I suppose," said Cora cautiously, "that they are scouring
Breakwater for things to decorate the machines with. I am glad
that I entrusted the Whirlwind to Tillie - she is so artistically
practical that she will be sure to avoid making holes in the car
to stick bouquets in."
"The fellows will be up to-night. They have taken rooms at the
Beacon. There'll be no end of a rumpus if they strike Breakwater,
and I am not there to pilot them."
"Likely our girls would attempt to put them to rights," said Cora,
joking. "Just fancy a crowd of students, and those silly girls."
"It is well that they can't hear you," remarked Duncan. "Of
course, you are very - very sensible."
"You mean - I should not have come?" she said, her face flushing.
"Oh, indeed, I meant nothing of the sort," he hurried to explain.
"In fact, I never could have carried out my plan if you had not
come along. I am going to bring Clip out for the meet."
"Oh, wouldn't that be splendid!" exclaimed Cora. "If only we can
manage it. But she is always so busy - "
"Then I intend to make her stop work for a few days at least. I
want my brother to meet her, and this - well, quite an
Cora looked at the earnest young man beside her. "Clip is worth
knowing," she said simply. Then she added: "I wonder if we could
arrange it to have Hazel come? It would be just glorious to have
the club complete after all our little drawbacks. If her brother
is better I will not take `no' for an answer. I shall simply
insist upon Hazel coming."
Cora was aglow with the prospects - if only everything would go
along smoothly and no other "drawback" should occur.
"Your friends are from Exmouth, aren't they?" asked Duncan. "I
ought to know some of them; we played their team last year."
"Oh, do you know Ed Foster? And Walter Pennington?" asked Cora.
"I happen to remember their names," said Duncan. "I would be glad
if we could manage to have them come out to the show. Let me see.
How could we fix it up?"
"Jack has a car, and so has Walter," replied Cora, while the
chauffeur looked at his speedometer and noted that they were doing
twenty-five miles an hour.
"Then," said Duncan, "if we can fix it - But that observation case
will take quite a little time."
"You can attend to your case, and get Clip," said Cora with a
mischievous smile, "and I will attend to the boys."
"Oh, my!" exclaimed Duncan. "You are ready and willing to make
the `round up.' Well," and the car gave an unexpected bump that
almost threw Cora over into her companion's arms, "I would like
first rate to have them all come to Breakwater, and our fellows
would count it the best part of their vacation to have an auto run
of that kind. If we find everything all right out in Chelton we
will call a special meeting of the motor girls, the girls being
you, and the motor boys being me, and then we will come to the
quickest decision on record."
Cora was arranging her goggles and veil. The speed of the car was
playing sad havoc with her costume, and she was not too
independent to want to look well when she got into her home-town.
"Look out, Tom!" called Duncan to his man. "Here is about where
they enforce the speed laws, isn't it?"
"We have to take chances," replied the man, "if we expect to cover
"Mercy!" exclaimed Cora. "Please do not take any chances with
speed laws. I have a perfect horror of that sort of thing."
"What's she doing?" asked the doctor.
"Only twenty miles, sir," replied the chauffeur, "and they allow
"Couldn't we just as well conform to the regulation speed?" asked
Cora anxiously. It was rather unusual for her to show such
"Leave it to Tom," replied the young doctor. "Chauffeurs are like
house-maids - they must not be interfered with."
Up to this time Cora had really not noticed the speed. Her
conversation with Duncan had been altogether engrossing. But now
she began to appreciate the situation, and this precluded all
other considerations, even the thoughts of Chelton.
Duncan Bennet had no sister, and, consequently, was not versed in
the art of "fidgets." He only knew the ailment when it took
definite form. But Cora was getting it - in fact, she now felt
How that machine did go! The speed delighted Duncan. Tom was
like an eagle bending over his prey - he urged the car on with
such determination. Once or twice Cora felt bound to exclaim, but
Duncan only shook his head. It was going, that was all he seemed
to care for. Near the station they were obliged to slow up some
to look for trains. As they did so Cora saw another car dash by,
and in she recognized the man now known to her as Mr. Reed, Rob
She made no remark to Duncan; he seemed so occupied with his own
thoughts. But when, after a few minutes, the same car passed them
again, having made a circuit on a crossroad, and the same man
stared at Cora as if to make sure it was she, she felt a queer
This time the other car shot ahead at such a wild pace that even
Duncan's machine was not speeding compared with that.
"Talk about going!" commented the physician; "just look at that
fellow. If he can use up that much gasoline and escape the law,
no need for us to worry."
The chauffeur was simply intent upon speed - he seemed to have
gone speed crazy, Cora thought.
They were traveling over a perfectly straight road, and Duncan
Bennet took out his field glasses.
"Here," he said to Cora, "I often find these interesting when on a
long journey. Take a peek."
Cora adjusted the glasses and peered ahead.
"That man," she said, "has stopped at a small shed - "
"That's the constable's hang-out," remarked Duncan. "I had to
stop there once - just once," and the thought was evidently funny,
for he laughed boyishly.
"Yes," went on Cora, "there is some one talking to him. Oh,
Duncan," and she clutched his arm nervously, "do tell Tom to drive
slowly past there, for I think I know that man."
"Go slow, Tom," called Duncan carelessly. "We might be held up.
Just let me take the glasses, Cora."
He peered through the strong lenses. "The other car has gone on,"
he said. "Perhaps the cop is a friend of your friend's"; and
again he laughed, much to Cora's discomfort.
On and on the machine flew. Finally they were within a few rods
of the little shed by the roadside. A man on a motor-cycle was
waiting. As the Bennet car came up he shot out into the center of
Duncan did not mistake his intention. Tom turned his head and
gave the other a meaning look. Then the chauffeur slowed down -
slower and slower.
"Stop!" called the man on the motor-cycle, at the same moment
dismounting from his wheel.
Tom almost stopped. Cora thought he had turned off the gasoline,
but the next moment he had shot past the surprised officer, and
was going at a madder pace than ever.
Cora was frightened. Some motor-cycles can beat ordinary
automobiles; she knew that. But Duncan was laughing. If only
that man, Reed, was not on the same road just then.
"Can you make it?" asked Duncan, calling into the chauffeur's ear.
"Don't know," replied the man. "But we may as well get as far out
of the woods as possible."
"Don't worry, little girl," said Duncan to Cora with that
self-confidence peculiar to those who are accustomed to being
obeyed. "We are all right. It is only a fine, at any rate, and I
always carry small change."
"Stop!" yelled the man at the rear. "You cannot cross the line,
and if you don't stop soon you will find your tires winded."
A revolver shot sounded.
Tom drew up instantly. "I don't fancy putting on new tires," he
said coolly, "so we may as well surrender."
Duncan looked at the officer in a perfectly friendly way.
"Well, what's up?" he asked indifferently.
"You ought to know," replied the man, scowling angrily. "If I
hadn't stopped you land knows but you would have been over the
falls. What's the matter with you fellows, anyhow? Can't you
take a joy ride without committing murder and suicide ?"
"You're mistaken," replied Duncan. "I'm a doctor on a hurry call
"Yes, you are ! You look it!" and the officer sneered at Cora.
"Tell that to the marines!"
"Well, what's the price?" demanded Duncan with some impatience.
"I'm in a hurry."
"Wait till your hurry cools off," said the officer, who from his
own wild chase was now plainly uncomfortably warm. "You made the
marked-off distance in the shortest time on record, from post to
post in one minute."
"How do you know?" asked the chauffeur sharply.
"What's that to you?" replied the officer. "Didn't I see you?"
"You did not!" shouted Tom. "Some one `squealed,' and you have no
proof of what you are saying."
The man hesitated. Then he blurted out: "Well, what if a friend
did tip me off? Wasn't he in as much danger from your runaway
machine as the next one?"
"That man!" whispered Cora to Duncan. "He stopped and told him to
"Well, the price?" called Duncan, with his hand in his pocket. "I
tell you I am a doctor, and I am in a hurry to get to Chelton.
Can't you make it something reasonable - and then something for
your own trouble?"
The man eyed Duncan sharply. "I was told you would say just
that," he said with a curious laugh.
"And that is just what the other fellow said to you," spoke Tom.
"Now look here, Hanna. I know how much you have got out of this
already, and I happen to know the sort of coin that that sneak,
Reed, carries. He has offered me some - at times. He travels out
here quite some of late. Take my advice and be square. It is all
bound to come out in the wash."
Cora gazed at Duncan in astonishment. "I told you," said the
latter, "that it is best to leave a good man alone. Like a good
cook, they usually know their own business."
But the officer was not so sure. He hesitated, then said: "Well,
I see judge Brown over in the meadow. He can settle it. Come
Cora was in despair. To be thus detained when there was not an
hour to spare! Tom drew the machine well to the roadside. Duncan
leisurely climbed out and then asked the girl if she would remain
in the car.
"That's the mean part of this business," remarked Duncan; "they
don't want money - they want time - good, honest time."
Then, of a sudden, with that boyishness that Cora had so greatly
admired in so thoughtful a young man, he sprang off on a run
toward the meadow, where the constable had indicated the judge
could be found.
"Come on, friend," he called good-naturedly to the officer on the
wheel. "When a thing's to be done, may as well do it. The sooner
the quicker," he joked, while Cora wondered more and more how so
wronged a person could be so good-humored.
Tom fussed about the machine, looking to see that the official
bullet had not struck through a tire. Evidently the constable did
not expect Duncan to take him at his word, and go after the
squire, for it took him some time to put his wheel against a tree
and prepare to follow on foot.
"You can't go that way," he shouted to Duncan. "That's all
"Won't hurt me," replied the irrepressible Duncan. "I am taking
the water cure."
Soon Duncan was talking to the farmer - and the constable was
still "picking his steps" toward the spot where the two stood.
"I am sure Duncan will win him," thought Cora, "and perhaps we
will not be so long delayed, after all."
But Tom could not stand the suspense. He asked Cora if she would
mind being left alone for a few minutes, and soon he, too, was
hurrying over the meadow.
Cora had great faith in Tom's judgment now, and was rather glad
that he had gone to Duncan's help. She stepped out of the car to
gather a few wild flowers, and was just about to step in again
when the rumble of an approaching machine attracted her attention.
She turned and saw coming toward her that man Reed. With assumed
indifference she stepped back to the road to get another flower.
This took her just a bit farther from his path than she would have
been in the car, but as he came up she heard him slacken, then
Her heart seemed to stand still. In an instant she realized what
it meant for a girl to be alone on a road - she should not have
left Breakwater, and the doctor and Tom should not have left her.
"Miss Kimball," called a voice from the other car. "I am sorry to
see you in this predicament. I am Mr. Reed, of Roland, Reed &
Company," and he said this with all possible courtesy. "I believe
we have met before, and I came back to see if I might be of any
assistance to you. This speeding business is rather troublesome,
and I ventured to guess that you are most anxious to be in Chelton
to-day, as there are so many interesting things going on there."
For an instant Cora felt that she had wronged this man. Perhaps,
after all, he was a perfect gentleman, and had nothing to do with
their being detained. If only Duncan or Tom was there!
"Yes, I am in a hurry to get home," admitted Cora. "But I think
we will soon be off again."
"Not very likely," went on the other. "That old judge seems to
delight in keeping folks away from their business. He has the
most roundabout way possible of transacting matters. I was about
to suggest that if you really are anxious to get to Chelton I
would go over there and speak with your friend, and, as we are not
so far away from the home town, it might be wise for you to ride
with me. It is very awkward for a lady to be in this position.
Sometimes a newspaper fellow comes along, and, as they say, `gets
a story' out of it."
"Oh, I thank you very much," she said hurriedly and not without
showing her confusion, "but I will wait until Dr. Bennet comes. I
am sure he will not be detained long. They should have some
consideration for physicians."
"Dr. Bennet? Oh, I see. He is in a hurry, too, to get to
Chelton." (If Cora could have seen the flash that shot through the
lawyer's brain at that moment.) "Well, of course, he ought to be
allowed to go - although we all have to keep within the speed
"They are coming now," said Cora joyously, for the interview was
anything but pleasant. "I will tell Dr. Bennet of your kindness "
The man cranked up instantly, excusing his haste with a glance at
his watch. "Well," he said, "I have a noon appointment, so I may
as well hurry on. Good morning, Miss Kimball. I suppose we shall
see each other again in Chelton, as we both are interested, I
believe, in the same affair - finding the promise book and finding
the lost table."
Then he was off.
Duncan, Tom and the two officers were up to the car before Cora
had quite recovered herself.
"That was Reed, miss, wasn't it?" asked Tom sharply.
"Yes," replied Cora.
"Well, he's a cool one," went on Tom, while Duncan looked after
the receding car. "Do you know him, if I may ask?"
"Yes, and no," said Cora nervously, for the constable and justice
were looking at her with some impertinence.
"I thought so. His usual game. He makes himself known. Now see
here," said Tom, in a manner that made Cora think of Paul -
perhaps Tom loved machines as did Paul, and was more than an
ordinary chauffeur - "that man is a keen lawyer, Dr. Bennet, and
he has some purpose in delaying you."
"Delaying me!" echoed Duncan.
"No," interrupted Cora. "It is in me he seems to have the
interest, for he asked me to ride back to Chelton with him. Oh, I
know!" she exclaimed. "It is in Wren! He is the lawyer who has
to do with Mrs. Salvey's case, and he is trying to keep Dr.
Bennet away from Chelton to-day. He must have heard that you were
on the case," declared Cora, as the whole strange proceeding
seemed to flash before her excited mind.
"That's bad!" groaned Duncan.
The officials were talking at one side of the road.
"Look here, squire," called Tom, "this is all a putup game. You
have no proof that we were going faster than the law allows. That
sneak Reed simply told you so. Now own up, Hanna. Am I not
"He sure said so," grumbled Hanna.
"And you had only his word?" asked the old justice angrily.
"I saw the smoke from that car, and - "
"Well, I'm goin' to let you go," asserted the judge. "I don't
like this here kind of business, Hanna, and I want you after this
to have all your charges first hand. Don't take no tips from
nobody, d'ye hear?"
Hanna smiled. He had his hand in his pocket, and it may as well
be told that there was also in the pocket something which resigned
him to letting the automobilists go. Reed had attended to the
"Just as you say, judge," remarked the constable.
Duncan put his hand out to the old squire. "Here, squire," he
said. "I do this openly. I want you to take this, not as a
bribe, but as a personal gift, which I have a perfect right to
offer you. You are doing me a kindness, and also this young lady
a kindness, and the one most concerned is a helpless little
creature who waits until I reach Chelton to know whether or not
she is to be made perfectly well, so to speak. Not that I am the
one to say that, but because a noted specialist will wait for all
the other doctors. It's a long stony, but I will let you know how
we make out if I beat that sharper into Chelton."
Cora couldn't speak. She, too, put out her hand to the old
squire, who was wiping his eyes and shaking his head against
Duncan's gift. Finally the young doctor prevailed upon him, and
then once more they started on their mad run for Chelton
AGAINST THE LAW
Two hours later Cora almost fell into the arms of her brother - so
overstrained were her nerves after the exciting ride.
"Oh, Jack," she exclaimed, "I had the awfullest time! It is very
well to be a girl and imitate boys in the matter of risking; but I
say, Jack, it is always risky."
"Well, I am glad you have found that out, little girl," answered
the brother, putting her comfortably down in the big armchair.
"What's the particular risk now? No more stolen girls?"
"Oh, that was your part," she said, laughing. "And, by the way, I
hear you are quite a successful kidnaper."
"Not so bad. But you should have seen the time we had to get Wren
to the sanitarium. She didn't want to leave here, and had a
mortal fear of a hospital. But how are you?" and he looked into
her flushed face. "I declare it seems moons since I've seen you."
"And all the other planets since I saw you, Jack. I wonder will I
ever have the courage to tell you all about it?"
"Wouldn't the courage just naturally come on my side? I would
have to listen - "
"Oh, no. You don't have to - "
"There you go! Home ten minutes and picking a fight - "
Then they both laughed. It was jolly even to play at quarreling,
and be real brother and sister again.
"Well, I have so little time, Jack, I must be serious. You know
we have to get back to Breakwater to-night. We are to fetch you,
and Ed and Walter and Clip - "
"Oh, you don't say! In a suit case or a la hamper? Ed is
literally cut up about all the girls being out of town at once.
He would fit in the shirt box, I fancy. But Wallie - he seems to
have expanded. I doubt if you could manage him - "
"Oh, you ridiculous boy! Come on. Run after me while I get
through the house. I must see dear old Margaret. How is she
"First-rate, for Margaret. She only starved me out of the
midnight rations twice - "
"You should not eat after ten, Jack. But come along. I must look
over the place, and talk at the same time," and with that
intention Cora started on her tour of home inspection, while Jack
made all the noise he possibly could make (which was not a
little), running through the house after her.
Margaret, of course, knew what the tumult was about. She always
declared that boys went to college to learn how to make unearthly
Cora found little out of place. Margaret was an old and trusted
servant, and, in the absence of her mistress, could always be
depended upon to look after the "children."
"And now I must go and get the folks together," remarked Cora.
"Can you come, Jack?"
"And help you pick up the humans? Well, guess I may as well, as I
am to be in the collection. But what is it all about?"
In a girl's way Cora told of the plans for the auto fete, and of
Dr. Bennet wishing to have the Chelton boys meet his student
"First rate!" responded Jack, when Cora paused for breath. "I
rather fancy the idea of going after some of the girls. I cannot
help but agree with Ed that all the girls should not leave town at
once - you should take turns."
"But how about Clip? The others imagine that she makes up for
quite a number - with you and Walter."
"There you go again, picking a fight," and he laughed honestly.
"Now, Cora, Clip is just Clip, no more and not one whit less, but
she has been so busy - oh, so tremendously busy!" He was getting
into his motor togs, and Cora was already equipped for her ride
about Chelton. "Say, sis," he added, "did I tell you I have my
suspicions about the loss of Wren's book? Did she describe to you
the pair who last signed the contract?"
"No," answered Cora, now fully interested.
"Well, she told me it was a fellow with bent shoulders, and a girl
with red hair. Now, who does that fit?"
Cora thought for a moment. Then her face showed quicker than her
words that she guessed who might answer those descriptions.
"Sid Wilcox and Ida Giles!" she exclaimed. "But what motive could
"Sid Wilcox and Rob Roland are termed the Heavenly Twins, they are
so often together. Now, Rob Roland has been the paragraph and the
period, so to speak, in this story," said Jack meaningly.
"But why should Ida stoop to such a thing?"
"Didn't you run over her dining-car one day early this summer?"
Jack reminded her. "Or was it Bess? No matter just who, it was
one of the motor girls. And, besides, you did not ask her to go
on the run."
"If I thought Ida Giles knew anything about that book I would go
directly to her house and demand an explanation," said Cora,
flushing. "Ida is too apt to be influenced by Sid Wilcox. I
thought she had seen enough of the consequences of such folly."
"Oh, Ida is ambitious in that line," replied the cool, deliberate
"Well, let us start," suggested Cora. "I have quite some ground
to cover. Dr. Bennet has agreed to find and fetch Clip."
"Has, eh? Smart fellow, Doc Bennet! I tried all afternoon
yesterday to locate the lithersome Clip. Took a coy little jaunt
of two miles afoot - some one said she had a friend out Bentley
way, but I did not locate her. Hope Doc has better luck."
Jack said this in a way that opposed his words to their own
meaning. He evidently meant he hoped Dr. Bennet would not have
"I am so anxious about the report on Wren," commented Cora, as
they finally started off in Jack's runabout. "It will mean so
much to her mother, and to her, of course."
"Well, if Clip has had any influence, I should say Wren would turn
out an artist's model, physically. Clip has just about lived with
the child since you went away. Of course, we had Miss Brown, and
if she isn't Brown by nature as well as by name. I wouldn't say
so. I never got one single smile to cut across her map."
"Shall we look for Ed first?" and Cora could not control a most
provoking flush that threatened her cheeks.
"Just as you say, lady. But I have not told you -let the last
moment be the hardest. Ed has taken to the ram. He is training
the ram. Can't get him away from the ram. Mary's little lamb is
a `bucking bronco' to it."
"Oh, I have been wondering about that," said Cora. "I thought I
was to wear the ram's fleece as a sort of real baby-lamb coat next
"Nothing of the sort, girl. Ed's ramifications are the talk of
the town. He is to give an exhibition at college when we get
back. A clear case of the lamb and Mary's school days."
"Well, where shall we hope to find him?" and she glanced at her
watch. "I must find some one soon."
"Come along. I'll hunt him up. He is likely at this very moment
giving Minus his morning ablutions. He called the ram Minus
because the animal takes away so much of his time. Joke, eh ?"
Jack directed his machine toward the same little creek that
figured in my first story of the motor girls, when Ed rescued them
from a sorry plight, the Whirlwind having run into a mudhole.
"Now, I'll bet we find him by the brookside with Minus chewing
daisies and, incidentally, Ed's stray clothing," declared Jack.
Along the way people appeared surprised to see Cora, and their
greetings were a mixture of query and astonishment.
"There's Ida!" suddenly exclaimed Jack. "Don't let on you see
her. I don't want to stop here to talk to her."
"Why?" asked Cora curiously.
"Because in about one minute you will see her trailer, the
insufferable Sid, and I am not in Sid's humor.
"I would like to speak with Ida," objected Cora. "I really wanted
to ask her something."
"Save it," commanded the ungovernable brother. "A thing like that
gets better with time."
So they passed along, Cora having to be content with a bow and a
smile to Ida Giles, who returned both promptly.
"Jack," said Cora, when they were also up to the hill behind which
they hoped to find the idler by the brook, "do you know I think I
have an actual clue to Wren's table. An antique man out
Breakwater way has an order for one. I am watching that order."
"That's easy. When you know that Reed has been in and out of the
place for some days. That's the best of being a girl. You can
trace around after the most important clues and no one would ever
suspect you of knowing what you are after. Now, I rather think
when the fete is `pulled off,' if I may use the term," and he
laughed his apology, "then there will be some doin's. I just want
to see rocky Rob rumpled."
"Let us not delay talking long with Ed," proposed Cora, "for I
must be at Hazel's at one - I am so anxious about Paul."
"About Paul? Why, he's all right. He's out and has been to the
office," was the brother's surprising answer. "Didn't you hear
about Mr. Robinson wanting to send him away for his health?
Robinson has taken a great fancy to Paul. The stolen document
business is also near a climax. I had a fine time trying to keep
Clip's name out of the paper, the day they had the hearing about
Wren. You see, I - the great first person - ran into the
courtroom just as the judge was dismissing the absurd case set up
against Mrs. Salvey. Of course, that was nothing more or less
than a trick to get information for the other side. Well, Mr.
Robinson was hurrying to court and he has passed his running days
creditably, I believe when he met me. I took up his run at a
moment's notice, reached the courtroom, waved my hands wildly in
the air - "
"Oh, Jack!" interrupted Cora; "don't be so absurd. You know I am
just dying to hear what happened."
"Then don't die until you do hear," and he slowed up at the hill.
"The fact is, I just caught the whole City News force red-handed
with a great story about Clip. The reporters had called her the
modern Clara, and all that, but I got it away from them. I know
one of the best of them, and he agreed, so they all had to. It
was a good little story, for the lawyers were matched against a
motor girl. That made it interesting from a newspaper viewpoint.
Hello! Didn't I tell you? Say, there, Mr. Foster! Chain up the
ram, Ed. We want to approach."
Just as they rounded the hill, Ed could plainly be seen as Jack
had foretold - idling by the brook with the ram in the same
picture, but at a polite distance from its owner.
"I thought Walter wanted the ram," remarked Cora as they neared
the spot where Ed was "getting himself together."
"Oh, he did. But do you remember what the man said about having
to put his overcoat on to feed that animal? Well, he wouldn't
even stand ,for Walter, with or without the ulster. He tried his
best raincoat and all, but the ram just went for him. But look
how he purrs around Ed - tame as a kitten."
"I am not going to trust him, though," decided Cora. "One
experience with Mr. Minus is enough for me. Shout to Ed to come
over. I must hurry."
Cora's invitation to go to Breakwater came almost as a shock, Ed
declared, but coming from Cora he would accept. Consequently he
hurried the ram to its quarters, and, agreeing to look up Walter,
the girl was left to pay her visit to Hazel.
"We fellows will start from here about daybreak," Jack decided,
"and we will reach Breakwater about ten o'clock. That's the time
Doc Bennet gave me for the official gun to go off."
It happened that Ed knew the young doctor slightly, so that he
took Jack's urgent "appeal" as coming from the actual host.
"I told you he would be glad to join the Motor Girls' Club,"
remarked Jack, while Ed was exchanging civilities with Cora.
"He's just been pining around here like a lost - "
"Now, Jack, be square," interrupted the handsome young man, whom
Cora thought had actually grown handsomer in the days since she
had last seen him. "I never pine. I growl - just plain growl."
"You take me over to Hazel's, Jack?" asked Cora. "Then you may go
along and help look for Walter. I must meet Dr. Bennet at
two-thirty. And then, I wonder, will we be able to get back to
Breakwater by six."
She was thinking of her experience coming out to Chelton; also she
kept on the lookout for Mr. Reed. He had hinted that there were
interesting things developing in Chelton just then. He had said
openly that his interest and Cora's were mutual. Would he again
With this thought she determined not to get too far away from
Jack. She would have him call at the Hastings' house for her.
And the Roland, Reed & Company lawyers knew that Cora Kimball was
a leader among the motor girls the club that had avowed its
purpose of finding the book, as well as the table.
All this was complicated and involved, but to the shrewd lawyers,
Cora knew the working out of the details was merely a matter of
Having failed to prove Wren a subject for some "shut-in"
institution, these same lawyers were now engaged on another
scheme, that of trying to show that the child was detained against
her will, and was actually in the possession of Cora Kimball.
Jack had told Cora all this, trying to make it a matter of small
importance, and laughing at Rob Roland's initial performance, as
Jack put it; but Cora felt that it was no laughing matter, and
that at least the happiness of two persons - Mrs. Salvey and her
delicate little daughter - was involved.
Cora and Jack were on the road, and Jack had cranked up. Ed,
having made the ram secure in the field, was about to walk to his
own lodgings. Suddenly a flash of red swept across the streak of
brown highway. Cora recognized it instantly as Dr. Bennet's car.
He was coming at such a pace that in drawing up the gears and
brakes of his machine protested with unpleasant, grinding sounds.
Dr. Bennet seemed flushed and excited. He began, without any
preliminaries, to tell Cora that she must get into his car, and
hurry back to Breakwater.
"I have been on the wildest hunt," he said, smiling an
acknowledgment to Cora's introduction to Ed, and bowing to Jack,
whom he had met earlier in the day. "I have been all over
Chelton, but of course did not expect to locate you out here."
Duncan Bennet possessed that manner which is at once persuasive
and at the same time courteous combination of the doctor and the
"You see," he continued, "I happened to overhear that you are to
be subpoenaed in that Robinson patent case. In fact, I heard Reed
say he would have you in an hour, so I determined to beat him back
home - get you over the State line before he can serve the papers.
Now, you had best jump right in. Clip is waiting for us at
Wiltons'. We will pick her up and then fly."
"Oh!" gasped Cora, seizing at Jack's arm. "I am not going to run
away. I will stay right at home - with my brother." Cora was as
near crying as any young lady with the reputation of strength of
character might safely venture. But Jack knew more of the case
than he had confided to her, and he instantly agreed with Dr.
"Run along, sis, " he advised, with the jollity that makes a brave
boy ever a girl's hero. "I'll be after you with the others, and
it will be no end of fun. Clip's going, and I'll try to have Paul
and Hazel join - if Paul is fit. Then with Ed and Walter - Say,
we will have the time of our young lives! Get in with Dr.
Bennet, and I'll turn back and stop in front of the ice cream
place. Of course, Reed or Roland will come along that way, and of
course you will be inside eating frapped subpoenas."
Cora was now climbing in beside Dr. Bennet.
"And that is why that horrid man tried to get me to ride in town
with him!" cried Cora. "He wanted to make me take those papers -"
"Certainly," interrupted Duncan. "But we have fooled him thus
far. Be sure to come to the show, boys," this to Ed and Jack.
"My crowd will be out there to-night, but I suppose we will not
see the Chelton throng until to-morrow. Excuse haste - and a bad
pen," he added, laughing, while Tom gave a signal on the horn.
"This is the time we make a run against the law."
"Now, Tom," called Duncan Bennet to his chauffeur, after Clip had
joined Cora, "you had better slow up some. The young ladies may
want to find out whether or not they still wear hats." They had
ridden fast and far.
"Oh!" exclaimed Clip, "I never had such a delightful ride. I
suppose that is what you call being motor mad - going and going
until you cannot go fast enough. They say it is a disease, isn't
"I believe it is so defined," answered Duncan with mock dignity.
"But we are not to talk disease, if you please, young lady," and
he smiled a command which might easily be interpreted to mean:
"You must rest from that sort of thing for a while."
Cora turned to look back over the dusty road. Her face, usually
alive to every mood, was strangely set - as if too anxious to
venture a change of expression. Duncan from the front seat saw
"Oh, he is not coming," he said. "No need to worry now. We are
across the State line."
"I never was so frightened in my life," admitted Cora. "Not that
I was afraid of going to court, but I was mortally afraid we would
not be able to make the run in time. I should have known better,
however, for Tom had qualified before to-day."
"Tom knows just how fast this machine ought to go," added Duncan.
"I don't mind Tom hearing it, either."
The chauffeur smiled in acknowledgment to the compliment. It had
been a hard run, and the Chelton lawyer had only turned back at
the last mile post.
"Wonder where that motor-cycle officer is now?" remarked Cora. "I
mean Constable Hanna."
"Oh, he's out having a good time on what he earned this morning,"
answered Duncan. "One hold-up in a day is plenty for Hanna."
"I have scarcely had a chance to speak to you, Clip," Cora began,
as her nervousness vanished. "I am so glad to see you."
"Well, you have been looking whole vocabularies at me, Cora, in
many and various languages," said Clip in her own inimitable way.
"I have been wondering whether you had turned into a Sphynx or
"But, Clip, I did have a fright. Suppose I should have had to
give up the run, and go to that stuffy old courtroom!"
"Well, I am glad you didn't," answered Clip sincerely. "I do
think that a courtroom is about the meanest place I have ever
visited - and I have been in a lot of queer places. And the
girls," went on Clip. "Whatever will they say to you two
"What won't they say?" replied Duncan. "I am not to blame, of
course. Miss Cora simply inveigled me into allowing her to ride
with me - "
"I saw Reed pass over the back country road a moment ago,
interrupted Tom. "I might guess where he is going."
"Where?" asked the trio in a breath.
"To that junk shop on the turnpike," replied Tom. "He seems to
think the shop is haunted with a valuable ghost. He goes out
there almost daily."
"You mean the antique shop?" asked Cora. "Oh, I know. He is
after a table. I am sure it is he who has given the order - "
She stopped - her finger on her lip. Tom seemed to know so much -
what if he should know about the missing table? "Have you any
idea what he is after?" asked Cora directly.
"Well, I ought to know," replied Tom, "for he has made no secret
of it. He has searched every attic from Breakwater to Moreland.
I caught an old junk dealer in our barn the other morning, and
while I watched him get down the road I saw Reed come along. Of
course, he had hired the man to search where he himself could not
go. He is after some sort of ancient rustic table, I believe."
Clip and Cora exchanged meaning looks. Cora had not for a moment
forgotten about the antique man's promise to have the original
table in a few days. She was to see this and then -
"We are not out of the woods yet," remarked Clip. "I am thinking,
Duncan, that you have undertaken a large contract. You have
positively agreed to have me back in Chelton by to-morrow
afternoon at four o'clock."
"Oh, we will see about that," replied the physician with a sly
look at Cora. "There is a telephone in Breakwater - "
"Duncan Bennet! If I thought I should be late for the
`clearing-up' to-morrow I would start right now," declared Clip
"Oh, you won't be. We will fix it so the `clearing-up' will be
late for you. I suppose you think everything that ever happened
is going to repeat itself to-morrow afternoon, just because one
Miss Cecilia Thayer is going - "
"Hush, Duncan! Cora does not know one word about it. She may
have guessed, but that is not knowing, is it, Cora?"
"I confess to a keen curiosity," answered Cora, "but as a matter
of fact I expect to be very much busy myself to-morrow. Just now
I cannot see how it is all going to be managed."
"Well, when the Chelton boys arrive I guess the girls will not be
so particular about their time," said Duncan. "I fancy even the
captain will have to show somebody the beauties of Breakwater.
But hark! Wasn't that Daisy? I just heard a breath. We are only
about ten miles from home - Daisy can easily breathe that long
when she is excited. Oh, I am just aching to hear what they will
say, Cora," and he laughed. "I'll wager Ray will be the aggrieved
one. She will likely manage to keep out of the work, don't you
Cora did not reply in so many words, but she looked acquiescence.
Certainly those who knew Ray appreciated her ability to take care
of her own personal self at the risk of all other matters. But
Cora was thinking of something else - of Wren and the medical
report. She knew better than to ask Duncan outright what might
have been the result of their inquiry. Nevertheless, she could
not refrain from "begging the question."