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The Motor Girls on a Tour by Margaret Penrose

Part 4 out of 4

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"Is little Wren happy?" she asked, without apology for the sudden
turn in their conversation.

"Well, just now," replied Duncan very seriously, "she can scarcely
be expected to realize either happiness or unhappiness, for we had
to give her a powerful anesthetic."

"For an operation?" Cora could not refrain from asking. Clip
showed no curiosity, and Cora knew at once that she was acquainted
with the circumstances.

"Something of that kind," answered Duncan vaguely. "But put your
mind at rest - the child has every chance of ultimate recovery.
The trouble was the wrong treatment. We use purely physical
training for that sort of thing."

"Could the neglect have been intentional?" asked Cora further.
She had in mind the "quack" doctor so long sent to Salveys' by the
Roland branch of the family.

"Oh, I wouldn't like to venture an opinion on that," replied
Duncan, "but ignorance is closely allied to criminal negligence."

Clip set her deep dark eyes in a tense, strained expression. Then
they all fell to thinking, and for a time conversation ceased.

"Ten more telegraph poles and we run into Breakwater," announced
Duncan, while Tom eyed his speedometer. "Then for our reception!"

It seemed but two minutes, at most, from that announcement that
Duncan's machine turned into the Bennet estate.



The runaways were forgiven, finally, although between four
"enraged" young medical students, and the sextette of motor girls,
Cora and Duncan had some difficulty in making it perfectly clear
that the trip to Chelton was entirely unavoidable. It was a merry
party that gathered in Mrs. Bennet's long drawing-room that
evening to make arrangements for the run over Breakwater roads in
the morning. The girls at first refused to allow Cora a sight of
the decorated cars until they should be in line, but Tillie was so
proud of her achievement with the Whirlwind that all finally
consented, and directly after tea the cars in the garage and in
the big barn were admired and inspected. Certainly the machines
did credit to the fair decorators. The Whirlwind was transformed
into a moving garden, the sides being first wound with strong
twine, and into this were thrust all sorts of flowers in great,
loose bunches. Only the softest foliage, in branches, was
utilized, as Tillie felt responsible for the luster of the "piano"
polish, for which the Whirlwind was remarkable. The top of the
car was like a roof garden, the effect being quite simply managed,
for Tillie was resourceful. She had stretched across the roof of
the car a strong sheet of pasteboard. Into this she placed a
great variety of wild flowers, banking the stalks, which stood
into holes made in the board, with soft grasses and such ferns as
might be depended upon not to "slink" in the sun.

"Wonderful!" exclaimed Cora with unfeigned delight. "But what an
awful lot of trouble, Tillie!"

"It is for you," said the German girl sincerely, "and you have
gone to an awful lot of trouble for me. Besides," she added, "you
will look so queenly in that throne of flowers."

The compliment was rather overwhelming - especially as the strange
young men were there, they with Duncan adding a new line of
adjectives to the admiration party.

"You may look at our car, Cora," assented Bess, "although you were
so indifferent, going away without even offering a suggestion as
to what we might do."

"As if I could anticipate Belle's talent," said Cora with a laugh.
"I feel I ought to answer to `which hand' when I open my eyes on
her creation."


The boys all joined in with Cora and Clip in the expressions of
delight, for there was the pretty little runabout, the Flyaway,
made into a "live pond lily."

"However did you do it?" asked Cora, actually amazed at the
charming effect.

"I shouldn't tell," replied Belle, who was looking very pretty -
at least one of the strange boys thought so. It was Phil
MacVicker who "kept track" of Belle, and it was the same gallant
Phil, who, late in the afternoon, helped Belle to finish up her
pond lily.

"We may all guess why Belle chose that design," said Daisy, who
was waiting for the newcomers to pass judgment on her own
runabout. "A pond lily has a yellow head, and Belle's is just
about that shade."

It would be pretty to see a yellow head in the white peals of the
improvised lily. Cora satisfied her curiosity by finding out that
these petals were nothing more than barrel staves covered with
crushed white paper.

"You have had an awful lot to do, girls," she said with genuine
sincerity. "I am actually sorry I could not have been here to

"Of course, mine is not so elegant," remarked Daisy, who led the
way to the other carriage house, where her machine was kept, "but
I fancy people will look at it."

Duncan "went wild" when he beheld what Daisy had rigged up. A
veritable circus wagon - a cage, in which Daisy declared she was
going to sit with whip in hand, and Nero, the big St. Bernard dog,
at her feet.

"We made it out of clothes poles and laths," said Daisy proudly.
"I have not taken a course in manual training for naught."

Then the boys had to fix up their cars. Duncan was tired - the
other boys were frisky - so he nicely suggested that they "do as
they jolly pleased with his car, so long as they left room for his

Of course the boys wanted something grotesque. Phil suggested
that they all carry out the circus idea, and "trail" after Beauty
and the Beast. This was finally agreed to, and it was Duncan's
car that they turned into the calliope, actually going so far as
to hire the local hurdy-gurdy man to ride in it and do the

"It looks as if our run home would be more auspicious than the
trip we made in," said Cora to one of the very nice young
students, who had offered to look over her car and see that it was
in good working order. "We had a dreadful time coming out here -
but I suppose the girls have told you about it."

Bentley Davis, otherwise called Ben, admitted that the young
ladies had spoken of the trip, and he presumed to predict a great
time for the auto meet.

So it went on until the boys had to go back to their hotel, and
the girls, after discussing all sorts of necessary and unnecessary
plans, finally consented to wait for the morrow.

Tired from their enthusiasm, as well as from muscular efforts, the
girls found their eyes scarcely "locked," before the bright rays
of a late summer sun knocked on the tardy lids and demanded

Was it really time to get up?

If only the wasted hours of the evening past might be tucked on to
the shortened time! Most things might be lengthened that way.

But, one after the other, the girls were at last awake, and so,
quicker and quicker, sped the time until horns were sounding from
garage and stable and even from the roadway.

"There come the Cheltons!" called Duncan as he saw Jack's car.
Then Walter's with Ed rounded the gravel driveway.

>From that moment, until car after car was upon the roads of
Breakwater, it was a question which made the most noise, the girls
talking or the boys blowing signals on the auto horns. Hazel had
come with Jack, as Paul was scarcely able for the excitement, so
that, after all, the motor girls were all in the run.

What a parade!

Of course, Cora, being captain, had to lead, and from the floral
folds of the Whirlwind floated the club flag in the newly adopted
colors, red and white, with the gold letters, M. G. C. (Motor
Girls' Club), plainly discernible in the changing sunlight.

Every one in Breakwater had heard that there was to be an amateur
motor show, but few expected it to turn out into such a fine

The sound of the "calliope" was truly ludicrous. To this was soon
added all sorts of noises that only street urchins know how to
develop spontaneously.

Nor were the young people of Breakwater to be left out of the
sport, for numbers of them possessing automobiles, fell into line,
after the decorated cars, until the entire little summer place was
agog with such excitement as the extreme originality of the
visiting colonists usually affords.

Street after street was paraded through, auto after auto wheeled
along, horns tooting, whistles screeching, boys shouting, girls
cheering, until one hour of this strenuous frolic seemed enough to
satisfy motor girls and motor boys; and the party went to the
Beacon for luncheon precisely at noon, leaving Tom to finish the
honors by stripping the cars of their trappings and making them
ready for a homeward trip.

Cora, however, was persuaded to leave her machine decorated, as
the flowers made a pretty picture, and the return home, after the
three-days' trip, seemed more auspicious when thus heralded.

Reluctantly the adieux were made - Mrs. Bennet had been so
hospitable, and the boys such good company.

Duncan found an opportunity of making Clip more intimately
acquainted with his mother, for she was a woman glad to be the
friend of her boy's friends, and willing to take considerable
trouble to show the many little social preferences.

Cora insisted on the festivities breaking up on the scheduled
time, and so did Clip. Cora wanted to get to the antique shop,
and Clip wanted to get back to Chelton. So after a delay,
impossible to avoid where there were so many boys and so many
girls, each and all wanting something to say, some question to
ask, or some message to deliver, the party finally started off on
the return trip of the first regular tour of the Motor Girls'



With Jack's and Walter's additional cars the girls were able to
ride home without crowding, so that the Whirlwind carried only
Cora, Clip and Gertrude - the gallantry of the Chelton young men
affording Tillie and Adele a chance for a most jolly trip in the
little runabouts, while Hazel rode with the twins.

Cora explained that she had an errand to do on the river road, so
that she might go to the antique shop without the others.

"I think it will be best to have a chance to talk with the old man
quietly," she told her companions. "I am so anxious to find out
whether or not he really had Wren's table, or knows anything about

But scarcely had she turned into the narrow street than the
surprising sight of Rob Roland's car dashed before her eyes. In
it were Rob Roland and Sid Wilcox.

Seeing the festooning of the Whirlwind, the driver of the smaller
car slackened up, then, seeing further who the occupants of the
floral car were, Rob Roland drew up to speak to Cora.

"He has just come from the antique shop," whispered Clip, "and I
am afraid we are too late, Cora."

But Cora spoke cheerily to the young men, exchanging pleasantries
about the auto show, and remarking that they should have been in
Breakwater to see it.

"Oh, we have had our own show this morning," said Rob
triumphantly. "I guess the motor girls are not such expert
detectives as they have thought themselves to be."

This seemed to be aimed directly at Clip. She only laughed
merrily, however, as the Whirlwind shot out of reach of the young
man's voice.

"What do you suppose he meant?" she asked Cora.

"We will soon know," replied the other. "It is about the table,
of course."

They pulled up to the narrow sidewalk. Cora was not slow in
leaving her car. Clip was with her on the walk directly.

As they pulled off, their gloves they stopped for a moment in
front of the dingy window.

Cora drew back.

"Look!" she exclaimed. "There is Wren's promise book."

"For sale here!" gasped Clip.

"I - hope so - " faltered Cora quickening her steps into the shop.

The little bewhiskered man was rubbing his wrinkled hands in
apparent satisfaction. He was in no hurry to wait on his

"What is that album I see in the window?" asked Cora. "Some
foreign postcard book?"

"Oh, that! No, that is not foreign. It is a sacred relic of some
child saint."

"For sale?" asked Cora, her voice a-tremble.

"Oh, no! No! No!" and the man shook his head gravely. "I always
keep relics - for curiosities."

"Might I look at it?" pressed the motor girl, while Clip picked up
something with pretended interest.

"Oh, yes, of course. But it is only filled with names, and I got
it in a deal with another sale. The party who brought it here,"
went on the curio dealer, "the same who bought the table gave me
the book in the bargain, with the understanding that I should not
sell it but keep it on exhibition. They were very particular
about me not selling it."

Cora instantly guessed what this meant - a trick of Rob Roland.
To show her the book! To make sure it was now useless, as the
table had been made secure by him, but just to put it in that case
to taunt her, when she would come, as of course he knew she would,
and discover there was now absolutely no hope of ever recovering
Wren's long-lost treasure.

She looked vaguely into the glass case. "So you did get the
table?" she said indifferently.

"Yes, that, too," said the man. But he made no attempt to display

"Can't I see it? You said you would make me one like it - "

"Oh, yes. I know I did. But my customer is very particular, and
I have agreed not to show it."

"Cora's heart sank. She must be shrewd now or lose what she had
so long worked for.

"But you made the agreement with me first," she argued. "You
promised to let me see the table, and said you would make me one
to order, not like it, of course, but in the same line."

The old man shook his head. He had evidently changed his mind.

A new thought came to Cora. "Has your customer paid for the
table?" she asked.

"Oh, it will be paid for - it will be paid .for," and he seemed to
gloat over the words, "when it is delivered."

Then it was not yet paid for - not actually bought. Clip saw
instantly what Cora was striving for, but she pretended to be
interested in the locked case in which rested the much-looked-for
promise book.

"How do you know it will be paid for?" hazarded Cora. "Young
folks often change their minds. I suppose you have a good

"Well, no. I wanted one, but the gentleman is gone for to cash a
check - "

Cora laughed. The old man's face changed.

"If they wanted the table why did they not bring the money?" she
said. "I should think it would save you trouble to sell the table
directly to me - if it suits me, of course. I am going away from
here, and suppose the other customer never comes back?"

Still the old man did not speak. Cora saw her advantage and took
out her purse.

"How much is it?" she asked boldly.

"They will pay me fifty dollars for that table," he said

"So will I, if it suits me," she declared. "Come, let me see it."

The old man saw the new bills in her hands,

He stepped toward the door of another room, but he put up his hand
to warn her not to follow.

"I will bring it," he said in such grave tones that Clip wanted to
laugh - surely this was a Shylock.

While he was within the room Cora whispered to Clip, and when the
old man came out Clip was gone.

He had between his hands a small, very narrow table, like the
old-time card table, with glass knob at either end, and on the
long drop leaves were inlaid an anchor and crossed oars.

"That is just the size," declared Cora, while she trembled so she
feared the man would detect her agitation. Then she looked it
over, and under she was seeking for a hidden drawer.

"Are there drawers in it?" she asked.

"Oh, my, but yes. That is why it is worth so much. The drawers
cannot all be found. It is like a safe - "

Cora was sure this was the long-lost table. Oh, if she could only
induce the man to let her take it

The price, she was positive, was far beyond that offered by the
other customer, but that did not matter.

"You had better let me have this," she said. "I will take it
right along and save express. Then make one for the other party,
if he ever comes back."

The shopkeeper shrugged his shoulders - if he only would talk,
thought Cora.

Cora counted out fifty dollars. The man watched her greedily. It
was twenty-five dollars more than he had bargained to sell the
table for. Why should he lose so much?

"May I have it?" pressed Cora.

"Well, I never before did that but he should have left a deposit,"
said the man.

Quicker than the girl dreamed she could do it, Cora paid the man,
actually grabbed the table herself and ran out of the shop with it
and thrust it into the front of the Whirlwind among the flowers,
cranked up her car and darted off.

Her face was so white that she frightened Gertrude. "Don't ask
any questions, dear," she said to the latter. "I must meet Clip.
She has gone for a detective."

Just around the corner came Clip, and with her an officer in plain
clothes. Cora swung in to the curb.

"I have it! I have it!" she exclaimed to Clip. "Is this the
officer?" she asked. "And have you told him the book was stolen?"

"Oh, don't worry about the details, miss," replied the officer.
"We have that thing to do every day. These fellows take anything
they can get, and that being the book of a cripple, I will take
chances on getting it. You may be asked to explain fully, later."

"Oh, thank you so much!" cried Cora, almost overcome. "To think
we may bring both the table and the book home to Wren!"

What followed seemed like a dream to Cora. Of course she knew
that it was Rob Roland who had ordered the table and Sid Wilcox
who had returned the book. As the Whirlwind passed the little
hotel on the road to Chelton Cora actually brushed against Rob
Roland's car - and she had the table hidden amid the flowers in
the Whirlwind!

In Clip's hands was grasped the promise book - Wren should have
both. Poor, afflicted little Wren!

Straight to the private sanitarium they went - these two motor
girls. Miss Brown helped carry the table up to Wren's bedside.

At the sight of it Wren uttered a scream - then the shock did what
medical skill often fails to do. Wren Salvey sprang out of bed,
touched a spring in the table and a drawer jerked open.

"There!" she shrieked, holding up a paper. "The will!" Then she
fell back - exhausted.

"The shock has done it," said Miss Brown as Clip helped put the
girl on the bed and Cora looked frightened. "It has broken the
knot that tied her muscles. She will be cured."

Clip stepped over to a closet, and while Cora was almost fainting
from excitement Clip quietly took off her motor coat. Presently
she stepped back to Cora - in the full garb of a trained nurse.

"Clip!" exclaimed Cora.

"Yes," replied the girl, "I graduate to-night. Will you be able
to come?"

What more should be told? With the failure of Rob Roland to get
possession of the table he lost all courage and simply admitted
defeat. It was Sid Wilcox who stole the book from little Wren -
just to avenge Ida Giles, whose lunch basket had been demolished
by a motor girl. An odd revenge, but he thought, in some way, it
would annoy the motor girls. Of course Rob Roland paid him
something for doing it. But all their strategy was not equal to
the ready wit of Cora Kimball and her chums. Nor was this the
only time that the motor girls proved their worth in times of
danger and necessity. They were active participants in other
adventures, as will be related in the third volume of this series,
to be called "The Motor Girls at Lookout Beach; Or, In Quest of
the Runaways." How they went East in their cars, and how they
unexpectedly got on, the trail of two girls who had left home
under a cloud, will, I think, make a tale you will wish to peruse.

It was not long after the table and the promise book had been
restored to Wren, and following her complete recovery, that the
suit against Mr. Robinson was dropped. Roland, Reed & Company
admitted that they had arranged to have the papers taken from the
mailbag, and the government imposed a heavy fine on them for their
daring crime. They had done what they did with the idea of
securing information, and not with a desire to keep the papers,
but the Federal authorities would accept no excuses. Later Mr.
Robinson secured heavy damages from the men, the disfigured thumb
of one having served Clip to identify him.

As for Wren and Mrs. Salvey, with the will in their possession,
they were enabled to get control of a comfortable income, and Wren
could be taken to a health resort to fully recover her strength.
Sid Wilcox and Rob Roland were not prosecuted for their mean parts
in the transactions, as it was desired to have as little publicity
as possible.

"And to think, Clip, dear, that you were deceiving us all the
while," remarked Cora several days later, when she and the
Robinson twins; and a few other of the chums, were gathered in the
Kimball home. "I never would have thought it of you."

"Nor I," added Belle.

"But wasn't it strange how it all came about?" suggested Bess.
"It seemed like fate."

"It was fate," asserted Clip. "Fate and - Cora."

"Mostly fate, I'm afraid," declared Cora. "Of course the table
being disposed of at auction was a mere accident, likely to happen
anywhere. The real power, though, was little Wren. She, somehow,
felt that the old will was in it, and by her talk, and through her
promise book, the fact came to be known to the enemies of the
family. Then Rob Roland, or some of the men who used him as a
tool, conceived the idea of searching for the table. They
probably had the old mahogany man act for them, and he made
inquiries of auctioneers and persons who were in the habit of
buying at auctions. Then we came into the game, and - "

"Yes, and then Ida and Sid Wilcox, though I'm glad Ida didn't take
any part in these proceedings," observed Belle.

"So am I," said Cora softly. "Well, we managed to get ahead of
Rob Roland. A little later and he would have had the table, and
would have found the will. Then little Wren and her mother would
never have come into their inheritance. Oh, I don't see how
people can be so mean!"

"And the way they treated Paul," added Clip. "They ought to be
punished for that."

"Well, I guess Paul was more harmed mentally than he was
physically," said Bess. "He told me the men used him very gently.
It was the papers in the bag they were after."

"I think Clip gave us the greatest surprise of all," went on Cora.
"The idea of a girl keeping it secret as long as she did, that she
was all ready to graduate as a trained nurse! No wonder she knew
how to treat Wren. I feel that she is far above us now."

"Shall I lose my honorary membership in the Motor Girls' Club?"
asked Clip as she slipped her arm around Cora and pretended to
feel her pulse.

"Well, I guess not! The motor girls are proud of you!" cried

"Of course," added Belle.

Cora said nothing, but the manner in which she put her arm around
the waist of Clip was answer enough.

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