The Motor Girls Through New England Part 32
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"We will have Lena with us--that is, she will be supposed to be with us. Then--but you must wait and see. It is rather odd, but it is better than being indoors." Helka rang her bell and Lena appeared.
"We are ready," she said simply, and again the girl was gone.
It seemed ages, but really was but a short time before Lena returned.
"All right," she said, "the door is opened, and the dogs are gone."
It was the first time Cora had been out in the hall, and she looked around in wonderment. It was dark and dirty, so different from Helka's apartment. Lena led the way. There were three flights of stairs.
"You girls do not do too much sweeping," complained the queen, as she lifted her skirts. "I should think you would have had Christine brush down these steps."
"I told her to, but Mother Hull sent her for berries," explained Lena.
They pa.s.sed along, and finally reached the outer door. The fresh air blew upon them.
"Oh!" exclaimed Cora. "Isn't it good to be in the open air?"
"Hus.h.!.+" whispered Helka. "It is best that you make no remarks. I will tell you why later."
Mother Hull was crouched at the steps. She looked up first at Helka, then at Cora. My, what eyes! No wonder Helka said they might kill one in a dream.
Down the steps and at last on the ground! Cora's feet fairly tingled.
Helka tripped along lightly ahead of her. Two ordinary-looking men were working on the grounds. The place seemed just like any other country house that might be old and somewhat neglected, but there was not the slightest evidence of it being an abode of crime or of gypsies.
"This way, Cora," said Helka. "There is a splendid path through the woods this way. I love to gather the tinted leaves there."
As they turned the men also turned and made their work fit in exactly to the way the girls were going.
"Our guard," whispered Helka. "They will not speak to us, but they never take their eyes off us. I don't mind them, but I hate the dogs.
They never call them unless they fear I might speak with a stranger."
"What sort of dogs are they?" asked Cora eagerly.
"I don't know; not thoroughbreds, I can tell you that. I could make friends with any decent dog, but these--must be regular tramps. I hate them."
Cora, too, thought she might have made friends with any "decent" dogs, but she had the same fear that Helka spoke of regarding mongrels.
A roadway was not too distant to be seen. If only some one would come along, thought Cora, some one who might hear her voice! But if she should shout! They might both be attacked by those savage dogs.
"Oh, see those gentian," exclaimed Helka. "I always think of David's eyes when I find gentian. They are as blue and as sweet and----"
"Why, Helka! You leave me nothing to say for my fair-eyed friends.
They have eyes, every one of them. Here are Betty's," and she grasped a sprig of a wonderful blue blossom. "And here are dear, darling Belle's," picking up a spray of myrtle in bloom, "and here are the brown eyes of Bess," at which remark the eyes of Cora Kimball could hardly look at the late, brown daisy, because of a mist of tears.
"All girls!" exclaimed Helka wonderingly.
"Oh, I know some boys," replied Cora, running along and noting that the men with the dogs were close by. "Jack is dark. I really could not tell the color of his eyes!"
"And he is your brother!"
"The very reason," said Cora with something like a laugh. "Now I know that Walter has eyes like his hair, and his hair is not like anything else."
"But Ed's?" and at this Helka smiled prettily. "I had an idea that Ed's eyes were sort of composite. A bit of love, that would be blue,"
and she picked up a late violet, "a bit of faith, gray for that," and she found a spray of wild geranium, "and a bit of black for steadfast honor. There! I must find a black-eyed Susan," and at this she actually ran away from Cora, and left the frightened girl with the men and dogs too close to her heels for comfort.
For a moment Cora wanted to scream. She was too nervous to remember that she had been promised security by Helka: all she knew, and all she felt, was danger, and danger to her was now a thing unbearable.
"Helka! Helka!" she called wildly.
The other girl, running nymph-like through the woods, turned at the call, and putting her hands in trumpet shape to her lips, answered as do school girls and boys when out of reach of the more conventional forms of conversation.
"Here I am," came the reply. "What is it, Cora?"
"Wait for me," screamed the frightened girl, while those dreadful dogs actually sniffed at her heels.
Cora felt just then that the strain of being so near freedom, and yet so far from it, was even worse than being in the big room.
"I know where there are some beautiful fall wild flowers," said Helka.
"We may walk along for a good distance yet. These grounds are mine, you know."
"If they were only mine!" Cora could not help expressing.
"You see, my dear, I owe something to my dear, dead mother. She loved this life."
"But your father. Did he?"
"I can't say. I wish I might find him. He is not really dead."
"No. I say so at times because we call certain conditions death, but I do believe my father lives--abroad."
"And he is a n.o.bleman?"
"You folks would call him that, but he is not one of us."
"How strange that you should be so bound by traditions! And you know your lover--is not one of you."
"Oh, yes, he is. That is what makes him love me. He is called a socialist. He is not a gypsy, but he will not be bound by conventionalities."
"But suppose he knew of this crime?"
"We do not admit it is a crime to hold you for the release of Salvo.
They cannot convict him of the robbery if you do not appear against him. It is a sort of justice."
It was very vague justice to Cora, and she knew perfectly well the argument would have little weight with her friends, should she ever meet them again.
But she must meet them! She must induce this girl--for she really was nothing more than a misinformed girl--she must induce her to escape!
The Motor Girls Through New England Part 32
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The Motor Girls Through New England Part 32 summary
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