Read CHAPTER TWO - ANOTHER DAY OF TROUBLES of Girl Scouts in the Adirondacks , free online book, by Lillian Elizabeth Roy, on ReadCentral.com.

Early in the morning the scouts heard Jim rattling the pans while he essayed to cook breakfast. They were soon up and dressed, and being ready for another day’s adventuring, they offered their services to the cook.

“Last night after you-all went for that hike, I mooned around some myself. I saw a little farmhouse over that hill, and I think a couple of girls might try to get some milk for breakfast,” suggested Jim, pointing over the brow of a slight grade.

“All right, Hester and I will go for it, Verny!” exclaimed Amy.

“Very well, girls; the rest of us will do what we can to help Jim. Breakfast will be all ready by the time you return, so don’t dawdle on the way, will you?” replied the Captain.

“Take the big thermos bottle that will keep the milk cold all day, and bring the breakfast milk in this pail,” suggested Julie, handing the girls both articles as she spoke.

Hester and Amy disappeared over the brow of the hill where Jim said the farm was located, but breakfast was ready and waiting a long time before a sight of the girls was had again.

Hester carried the pail very carefully, and Amy held the bottle, so it was evident that they had milk, but why should they seem to laugh so merrily over something, as they drew near the scouts?

“What do you think happened to us?” called Amy.

“You’ll never guess we got chased by a bull!” added Hester.

“Oh, never!” cried the scouts who had been waiting anxiously.

“Yes, sir! We heard a cow and knew there must be a farm,” began Amy excitedly, but her companion interrupted her and said: “That wasn’t a cow we heard, but the bellow of this bull!”

“Do tell us all about how you escaped,” chorused the eager voices of many girls.

Every one was anxious to wait on the heroines, and after they had been served everything at one time, they began to munch and talk.

“Well, first we left here and thrashed through those bushes back there,” said Hester, nodding her head towards the alder bushes, “to reach the place where we heard the cow as we thought.”

Here Hester choked over the egg, and Amy quickly took up the story: “And we were halfway across a pasture lot when Hester, who was first, yelled wildly and waved her arms. I looked up, ’cause I was watching where I walked, the lot was pawed up into such hummocks, and saw Hester racing for the low boughs of an apple-tree. Then I heard a thumping, and saw a big bull charging across the meadow, making straight for us!”

Amy gasped and needed a drink of water, then Hester continued the tale: “Oh, girls, it was thrilling! I managed to scramble up in the apple-tree, and turned to see what had become of Amy. There she was, sprinting like a Marathoner for the barbed-wire fence that enclosed the lot. She back-trailed over to it, and up over it she went, just like a swallow flies, but look at her stockings and skirt!”

Every one looked at Amy’s apparel and sympathized with her, yet every scout wished she had had such an exciting time.

“Now they can win a badge for story-telling, can’t they, Verny?” said Betty, glad for her two pals.

“And another one for mending,” laughed Julie, vindictively.

“Poor Julie’s awful sore about that mud,” murmured Amy, winking an eye at the others.

Every one laughed, but the Captain said: “Go on and finish the yarn.”

“Well, I left Hester in the tree safety first, you know with the bull standing under it, waiting for her, while I skirted the lot and reached the house. When I told the old lady how we happened to be in such a fix, she threw her gingham apron over her head and sat down on the doorstep to laugh.

“I was beginning to feel offended, when she glanced up. She understood, and said: ’Deary, that olé bull has to be helped to his stall every night after a day in the pastoor. He oughter been butchered years an’ years ago, but you see he saved me from a wicked tramp one day, an’ father sayed Bill had earned his life-pension fer that. So Bill’s safe from the slaughter-house, but he sure is a nuisance these days. Why, this mad run of his’n will keep him wheezin’ fer a hull week. Now come with me an’ I’ll show you how he’s payin’ the price fer actin’ like a three-year-old!”

“I followed the old lady to the fence, and there, sure enough! Bill was sprawled out under the tree, puffing for breath, but poor Hester sat in the branches wailing because she dared not come down while the bull was making such a snorting noise!”

The scouts laughed heartily at the graphic picture of Hester crying up in the tree, but the girl retorted, “Well, isn’t ’Discretion the better part of valor’?”

“Of course it is! We’d have done the same thing,” agreed Mrs. Vernon, still laughing at Amy’s story. Then she suggested breaking camp.

After cleaning away all signs of camping, the scouts climbed into the cars which were soon speeding along. They were keen, now, for something new that they could write in their diaries, and many interesting things were seen and dilated upon as they rode past.

As the autos neared Schenectady, one of the scouts began singing; in a few moments all the girls were singing with her. But a hound ran out of the gate of a farmhouse and barked at the oncoming singers. Then the distracted dog sat down and lifted his snout high in the air. His dismal prolonged howl of protest at such singing effectually ended the song, and Julie called to the animal, “Wise doggy to be able to tell singing from singing!”

The weather was all that could be desired, and the two cars were in fine shape for the run. After they left Amsterdam, where the large carpet-mills would have offered interesting entertainment had not the scouts a greater ambition in view, that of reaching camp they voted to stop for no sightseeing along the way. So they kept along the road to Fonda. Here they left the railroad turnpike and went northward to Johnstown.

At this place Mrs. Vernon made an error in judgment. She should have gone westerly, through Rockwood, Lascelville, Oppenheim, and so on to Delgeville. But she took the northward road, which looked better and was more traveled. Not until she came to Gloversville did she realize the mistake. Then she stopped and questioned a policeman how to reach her destination. And he explained about the country road she must follow due west in order to reach Rockwood, where the state roads would be picked up again.

This advice was followed, and they traveled over the bad road until a crossroad was reached. There was no mention made of this spot on the road-map, and there was no signpost to direct a lost tourist. So the Captain said, “We’ll take the right-hand turn, it looks best.”

Further on, the road descended and ran close to a river. “Dear me, I hope we didn’t take the wrong turn, anyway!” cried Mrs. Vernon. “That officer never told me about a crossroad.”

“And it’s going to pour, too. Just look at that black cloud,” said Joan.

“It hasn’t thundered yet,” Hester said, trying to be cheerful.

At the same moment a flash satisfied every one that a shower was imminent, and Jim failed to relieve their fears when he said, “We don’t want to get caught on this low land when it rains. The road is lower than the river and will soon be flooded over.”

That spurred on the Captain, and she made the car fairly fly, in order to reach higher ground before the shower came. But the storm won out.

“I felt a drop of rain!” called Julie.

“So did I two drops more!” seconded Ruth.

“We’d better stop to button down the rain-curtains, Captain,” advised Jim.

“Maybe we can reach high ground soon, Jim!” called back Mrs. Vernon, still speeding along the marshy road.

A loud peal of thunder and inky clouds warned her, however, that this would be no trifling shower, so she stopped reluctantly for the curtains to be fastened down over the sides of the cars. The girls got out while the rain-curtains were sought in the box under the seat, and Jim removed numerous items before he reached them in the bottom.

“Gee! everything under the sun was piled in here!” growled he. And by the time he did get the covers out, the rain was falling hard.

While Jim and Mrs. Vernon secured the curtains on the buttons, the scouts transferred the pyramid of camping necessities back into the boxes under the seats. Then when all were snugly sheltered from the rain, the Captain proceeded to start her car. It failed to respond, however. She tried again, with no success. Then she turned and called to Jim.

“Something must be wrong, Jim!”

“Mebbe it’s ’cause the wheels is sunk so deep in that soft mud,” said he. “It’s ’most up to the hubs.”

“No something is wrong with the engine,” returned she.

“I’ll slip on my oilskin and see,” said Jim, finally.

“Oh, Jim! Don’t slip on it just put it on,” giggled Julie, the irrepressible.

“Humph!” was all the reply she got at the stale joke.

“Jim, I’ll help you,” now offered Betty, willingly.

“You gals just sit still, will you?” growled Jim impatiently, as he jumped out into the muddy road.

The wind came tearing down the valley that lay between the mountains, driving shreds of storm-clouds before it. Gusts of rain dashed against Jim’s face as he peered and poked about the stubborn engine, but still the obstinate machine refused to budge.

“I can’t see a durn thing that’s the matter with it!” shouted he, trying to make himself heard above the whistling of the wind.

“Better get back in your car until the worst is over,” called back Mrs. Vernon.

So they all waited patiently for the rain to cease, but the storm grew worse, while the clouds seemed to fairly empty themselves right over the stalled cars. Suddenly Jim gave a frightened cry:

“Great Scott, Captain! The river’s overflowin’ her banks, and this road’s gettin’ under water!”

“Then we’ve just got to get out of this fix somehow!” wailed Mrs. Vernon, gazing helplessly around for aid.

“I’ll try to work my car close up to the other and see if I can’t push you ahead,” suggested Jim, starting his engine as he spoke. But this idea failed to render the assistance they looked for.

“I think you need a good hard impact to send you out of that mud. The wheels are stuck,” called Julie, who had been considering the plight.

“But how can we get an impact? Jim can’t crush in the radiator on his car, you know! And the fender won’t do it,” said Ruth.

“Let a few of us get some of those stout rails from that fence and shove them under the back of the machine. The rest of the girls can tie a rope to the front and pull. Then when we give a signal, Jim can push with his machine, while Verny throws hers into high something ought to happen with all that!” suggested Julie.

Anything seemed better than sitting helplessly while seeing the water slowly rising in the roadway. So the plan proposed by Julie was put into operation. Two long rails were shoved, one under each side of the back of the car, with two scouts ready to apply all their youthful muscle up on each rail. Four scouts stood in front holding to a rope, ready to pull. The Captain sat at the wheel ready to speed, and Jim waited in his car behind, ready to drive on.

“Now, when I yell ‘go,’ every one strain your muscles fit to crack. It’s the only way we’ll get out of this,” ordered Julie.

“Tell us when you’re going to say ’go’!” begged Ruth.

“I’ll shout ’One, two, three GO’ then go!”

Julie braced herself, took a deep breath, and cried, “All ready one, two, three GO!”

Four in front pulled with might and main. Mrs. Vernon’s engine chugged ready to break. Jim almost pushed the radiator in, and the four scouts pushing on the rails well, “they were not.”

Jim was heard roaring unrestrainedly, while four girls in front were standing and staring as if at an apparition. All the time, the rain fell in a deluge, but Mrs. Vernon jumped out into the mud to see what had happened at the rear. Then she, too, gasped.

Both the rails were completely worm-eaten, but how should girls have known that? They were placed under the car at a dangerous angle for their future use in the fence, and when the good strong muscles of four scouts brought their weight upon the rails to lift the car somewhat, the timber quickly split up and precipitated the four boosters, face downward, in the mud.

“Oh, dear me! This is the last straw!” moaned Mrs. Vernon.

“No the last rails!” sputtered Julie, trying to laugh.

“Girls hold your faces up to the rain and it will wash the mud from your eyes!” yelled Judith, who waited on the running board for further developments.

She had hardly spoken when a swift shaft of blinding light and a deafening crack of thunder sent a panic into every one. They were stunned for a moment, and then such a howl as went up from nine lusty throats!

“We’re struck!” yelled some.

“Oh, we’re killed!” added others, but it took only a second after they had caught their breaths to pile, willy-nilly, into the cars, where they huddled until the fright had subsided.

Shortly after the lightning had struck a large tree further up the road, the rain suddenly stopped and the sun shone out as hot and bright as ever.

“My! I feel like Pollyanna would,” sighed Julie. “’I’m glad, glad, GLAD’ we weren’t standing under that tree!”

“We can only die once,” responded Ruth, sighing as she gazed down at the flooded road.

“Ruth thinks she’d rather die quickly, than by slow degrees in being choked in this mud,” laughed Julie, catching Ruth’s thought.

Every one laughed and that made them feel more cheerful. Then just back of them came the sound of horses’ hoofs and a kindly voice called out, “Well, well, this is some plight you-all are in, eh?”

They turned and beheld a nice old man sitting astride one plow-horse and leading a second.

“Reckon you didn’t know this was one of the worst roads in the county when it rains.”

Mrs. Vernon explained how it came about that they were there, and the old man said, “Fortunately, I cut across that field in order to reach home. I was late and, as this is meeting night, I have to leave home earlier than usual. Now I can help you pull out, ’cause my team is pretty powerful.”

He hitched his horses to the front of the stalled car, and it was soon pulled up on higher ground where Jim could crawl under and see what was wrong with the works.

“We are most grateful to you, sir, for your timely help,” said Mrs. Vernon. “How much do we owe you for this great service?”

“I’m glad I could help, madam. I am the parson of the district, hereabouts, and I try to do good by the wayside as I walk this life-road.”

“Then, if you will not accept a gift for yourself, you cannot refuse it for your flock. We will give to any needy one in your parish,” said Mrs. Vernon, handing him a folded bill.

Being sent along the right road with the minister’s directions and blessing, the cars soon reached Rockwood, and from there, followed the usual route to Delgeville. The highway now ended, and a pretty country road took its place as far as Salisbury, where a turnpike road began and continued as far as Middleville. From the latter town onward, the roads were indifferent or bad as far as Gravesville.

There were many interesting experiences for the scouts to write up in their books later on, such as running into a balky herd of cows and being threatened for damages by the farmer; holding their breaths when Mrs. Vernon ran over a lot of broken glass sprinkled across the road but the tires held and no damage was done; stopping to bargain for a string of fish that a little freckled-face boy had for sale; and last, but not least, just before reaching Gravesville, being warned by a girl of twelve of a masquerading constable, further up the road, who arrested more speeding drivers than any other constable in the county.

When asked why she showed the scouts this partiality, the girl said: “Because I’m going to be a scout myself, as soon as that new Manual gets here. I wrote fer it t’other day, and I’ve got five schoolgirls ready to start with me. Maw says she will ask the teacher to be our Captain.”

Thereupon followed a good scout talk by Mrs. Vernon, the country girl listening with all her wits alert.

“How’d you know we were scouts?” asked Julie, curiously.

“By that pennant flyin’ in front, of course!” retorted the girl.

As the scouts drove away, Mrs. Vernon said, “She’ll make a first-class scout, because she uses her eyes and other faculties.”

After leaving the town of Gravesville, the scouts took a short cut to Prospect, but the roads were steep and rough, and it was all the engines could do to mount the grades. Then the opposite down slopes were so steep and sudden that it was necessary to put on all brakes and shut off the engines.

One of these down grades had a sharp turn at the bottom, with a purling stream running under a rustic bridge immediately at the base of the mountain. On the other side of the bridge, the road rose abruptly up the side of another mountain. The descent was made nicely and the Captain’s car crossed the bridge, but Jim’s car stopped unexpectedly just as it reached the bridge at the foot of the mountain.

“Another case of push!” laughed Julie.

“All out!” ordered Jim.

“What now?” called Mrs. Vernon, as she also stopped her car to ask what was wrong.

“If only your car was behind, you could shove us across the bridge, but there isn’t enough room in this trap to do anything.”

“Every one will have to help, Jim; the girls can push and pull the car back to the grade, while you work the engine. Maybe it will start that way,” suggested Mrs. Vernon, waving her passengers out to help the stranded car.

After half an hour’s work, Jim suddenly called, “My! what a lot of cotton-heads we are! Here, Captain, just back up and give us a tow across the bridge that’s all!” At this simple remedy every one laughed.

The steep climb of the mountain was accomplished without trouble, and there the road wound back and forth like a serpent’s trail. Rocks, weighing tons, overhung with lovely vines, jutted out from the sides of the cut-out road that edged the cliff. Again, mossy dells where maidenhair fern waved fragile fronds at the girls, nestled under giant groups of pines. The chorus of wild birds mingled with the subdued music of falling water, to the keen appreciation of the tourists who delighted in this impressive scene as only scouts can.

The cars continued slowly through this peaceful place, but Jim’s engine suddenly stopped short again. He frowned and got out to examine it.

“Gee, Captain! the tank needs gas and no place at hand to buy the feed. What shall I do?”

“We didn’t cross that other bridge until we came to it,” giggled Julie, quickly.

“I suppose I’ve got to tow you along until we find gas, somewhere,” said Mrs. Vernon. So the second car was harnessed to the leader and they started again.

In this manner they traveled until they came to a small settlement that boasted an “Emporium” where all the “latest styles and goods were sold.” On the front porch of this store, in a low rocking-chair, sat the owner, a lady of doubtful years. She jumped up spryly when the cars stopped at the steps, and smiled invitingly.

“Do you sell gasoline?” asked Mrs. Vernon, politely.

“I guess I kin oblige you,” replied the lady, going indoors.

Jim jumped out and began to unscrew the plug on the tank.

“Now who’d a thought we could get gas in this little shop?” declared Ruth, surprised.

“You never can tell! I s’pose she wants to make all she can in every way,” added Hester.

Meantime the lady returned to the door and called out, “Won’t you please step this way?”

Jim thought she had to fill a measure from some barrel in the back, so he went in. But the lady was searching diligently along a shelf of bottles until she saw the one she wanted.

“Here they be I knew I had ’em somewhere. One’s ten cents, and the other’s a twenty-five cent bottle. But you have to take keer of fire, you know.”

Jim scratched his head, as he said, “I’ll take a five-gallon can, please, ma’am.”

For a second, the old lady was amazed, but she rose to the occasion and showed herself a true business woman, “Oh, I’m sorry, I’m just out of that size to-day, but can’t you come back to-morrow I’ll have it then?”

Jim laughed. “I need it for the tank. The car won’t go on nor come back, unless I get some gas for it.”

“Oh! I thought you wanted some to clean gloves, or shoes. That’s the only kind I keep on hand.”

“Maybe you can tell us where we can get a gallon or so,” said Jim, trying hard to keep a straight face.

“If you kin wait until Jed gits back I kin send him to Prospeck Junction for a gallin. He can’t carry five gallins, I fear.”

Jim started out and the shopkeeper followed as she spoke. So Mrs. Vernon asked, “Where is Prospect Junction?”

“Jus’ over yander, a bit of ways. It’s quite a gay resort, I’ve hear’d Jed say, where they sells gas to riders what come through. But I hain’t never gone there, ’cause I don’t mingle with society. I am a church member and ’tends to my business.” The lady tossed her head with a self-righteous air as she said the last words.

Jim said: “I’m sorry that four-ounce bottle wouldn’t do, Missus.” And the scouts bowed as they left her standing on the “stoop.”