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       Automobile Girls at Newport; Or, Watching the Summer Parade, p.1
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           Laura Dent Crane
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Automobile Girls at Newport; Or, Watching the Summer Parade

  Produced by Roger Frank and the Online DistributedProofreading Team at

  "The Automobile Girls" Were Fairly Started._Frontispiece._]

  The Automobile Girls at Newport


  Watching the Summer Parade


  Author of The Automobile Girls in the Berkshires, The Automobile Girls Along the Hudson, Etc., Etc.



  Copyright, 1910, by Howard E. Altemus


  CHAPTER PAGE I. Barbara to the Rescue 7 II. Lost, Strayed or Stolen 16 III. Ruth's Perfect Plan 30 IV. Mother's Secret 39 V. The Glorious Start 47 VI. What Happened the First Day 59 VII. Showing Their Mettle 71 VIII. "For We Are Jolly Good Fellows!" 86 IX. Only Girls 93 X. Enter Gladys and Mr. Townsend 104 XI. Newport at Last 111 XII. A Week Later 121 XIII. The Night of the Ball 131 XIV. Barbara's Secret 142 XV. Ruth in Danger 150 XVI. Help Arrives 162 XVII. The Fortune-Tellers 169 XVIII. A Word to the Wise 180 XIX. "Eyeology" 190 XX. Ruth Wakes Up! 204 XXI. The Capture of the Butterfly 213 XXII. The Tennis Tournament 224 XXIII. Brought to Bay 236 XXIV. Good-Bye to Newport 242



  "Pink hair ribbons!"

  Barbara Thurston's brown, bright face seemed to twinkle all over, as sheclinked a yellow coin on the marble top of the little sewing table.

  "Silk stockings!" chorused Mollie Thurston gleefully. "Wasn't it theluckiest thing that the hotel people wanted so many berries this year!"And she, too, sent a gold piece spinning over the smooth surface. "But,perhaps, we won't be invited after all," she sighed.

  "Nonsense!" rejoined Barbara energetically. "When Grace Carter saysshe'll fix a thing, you can wager she will. She's known Ruth Stuart forthree summers now, and she's told us we'd be invited to Ruth's partythis year. I can read the invitations already. The only thing worryingme was what we'd wear. Now the strawberry crop has turned out so well,and mother's a brick, and will let us use our money as we wish--I thinkwe're fixed. Then--who knows?"

  "I am sure Ruth Stuart's lots of fun when you get to know her,"interrupted Mollie eagerly. "If Cousin Gladys wasn't boarding at thehotel with her, we'd have met her long before. Isn't Gladys a stuck-upgoose? Never mind. We'll have the laugh on her when she sees us at theparty. Let's be de-lighted to meet her. I should love to watch her whenshe is fussed!"

  "After all," mused Barbara, thoughtfully, "her father was in partnershipwith papa. It's mighty funny that uncle got all the money. I wonder----"She stopped playing with her gold piece and gazed thoughtfully out ofthe sitting room window at the hot, empty, yellow road that ran so nearthe tiny cottage.

  Barbara Thurston was sixteen, Mollie just two years younger, and nearlyall their lives had been spent in that little cottage. John Thurston,the girls' father, had died suddenly when Mollie was only three yearsold.

  He had been at that time in the wholesale clothing business with hiswife's brother, Ralph Le Baron, and was supposed to be a rich man. Butwhen his affairs were settled up, his brother-in-law, the executor,announced that a very small interest in the business remained to Mrs.Thurston. He hinted, darkly, at stock speculation on her husband's part,and poor Mrs. Thurston, overcome by grief, had not wanted to questiondeeply.

  She, herself, happened to own the little cottage, in Kingsbridge, inwhich she and her brother had lived as children. Acting on his advice,she settled there with her two little girls, and had remained eversince, subsisting on the small income her brother regularly transmittedto her from her dead husband's tiny business interest. Le Baron and hiswife, with their daughter, Gladys, usually spent the summer inKingsbridge, at the one "summer hotel" in the place; but intercoursebetween the two families had come to be little sought on either side.Kingsbridge was a quiet little village in New Jersey, and, except forthe summer visitors, there was little gayety. Gladys Le Baron,especially, had shown herself icily oblivious of the existence of heryounger cousins, Barbara and Mollie.

  These two were delightful examples of self-reliant young America.Barbara, the elder, looked a regular "nut-brown maid," with chestnuthair that never would "stay put," and usually a mischievous twinkle inthe brown eyes beneath the straying locks. But there was plenty ofgenuinely forceful energy stored away in her slim, well-knit young body,and her firm chin and broad forehead told both of determination andintelligence.

  Her sister, Mollie, was fair, with lovely curling blond hair, and aquaint drollery of speech that won her many friends. Both sisters hadgrown up quietly, helping their mother about the house, as they couldafford no servant, going to the village school, and, when they wantedanything beyond the plainest necessities of life, earning it.

  This summer both had set their hearts on "really-truly" party clothes,not "hand-me-downs." Their friend, Grace Carter, daughter of SquireCarter, the village dignitary, had promised them invitations to "theevent of the season," the party to be given by her friend Ruth Stuart, arich Western girl who quite recently had come to spend her summer atKingsbridge. And didn't Ruth Stuart live at the same hotel with GladysLe Baron, the snobbish cousin?

  To meet the enemy on her own ground, and to have the fun of a partybesides, was certainly worth picking strawberries for, thought Barbaraand Mollie. So they scoured the country round for the sweet wild onesthe hotel visitors liked best. Now each of the girls was fingeringgleefully her twenty-dollar gold-piece that meant many days' work in thepast, but pretty dresses in the future.

  The prospect was too alluring for Barbara to spend much time inwondering about the real "why" of their fallen fortunes, though thequestion had come to her before, and would again. Now she was ready tojoin Mollie in eager planning as to "just what they'd get."

  "Go get a pencil and paper, Molliekins, and we'll set it all down," shelaughed.

  Mollie went into the further room and Barbara waited, eyesabsent-mindedly fixed on the yellow stretch of road.

  Suddenly she became conscious of a curious pounding. There was a queer,wild rhythm to it, and it seemed to be coming nearer and nearer.

  Barbara put her head out of the open window. She could see nothing but acloud of dust far down the road. Yet the pounding sounded louder everymoment.

  Then she knew. The noise came from the furious feet of runaway horses.And they were coming past the house with their helpless, unknownvictims.

  What could Barbara do? Her mother was asleep upstairs and there was noman about the place. There was no other house near. Besides, thesl
ightest delay might prove fatal.

  All this seemed to flash through Barbara's brain in a second. She knewshe must act. Swiftly and easily as a boy she vaulted the open window,pausing only to snatch a closed umbrella that leaned against the sill.How glad she was she had forgotten to put it away in the closet when shecame in from the shower yesterday!

  In an instant the girl sped through the gate and out into the road,opening her umbrella as she ran.

  There she paused, squarely in front of the approaching dust cloud, verynear now. She could hear the click of the stones, cast aside by theflying feet of the horses, and she caught a glimpse of two black heads,wild-eyed and foam-flecked, through the whirling dust.

  Barbara strained her eyes to locate hanging bridles. But meantime,swiftly and mechanically, she was opening and shutting the big blackumbrella.

  "If they'll only stop!" she murmured.

  And they did. Fear-crazed already, their legs trembling after a terrificrun, the horses dared not seek encounter with that horrible bat-likecreature that seemed to await them.

  Scarcely five feet away, their wild pace broke. They hesitated, andBarbara flung herself forward and seized the dangling bridles. For amoment she pulled on them with wrists of steel, but it was notnecessary. The horses drooped their weary heads and gladly stood still.

  Then, and only then, Barbara glanced at the carriage and its occupants.

  It was an open four-seated carriage, and in it were Ruth Stuart, GraceCarter, Gladys Le Baron and a strange young man somewhat older than therest of the party. The girls were leaning back, with closed eyes andwhite faces. The young man was staring straight ahead, with a blankexpression, fear depicted on every feature.

  Barbara dared not leave the horses even now. "Mollie! Mollie!" shecalled.

  Mollie was already out of the house. From the window, terror-stricken,she had seen it all.

  "Get the girls out," Barbara directed. "I can't leave these brutes,though I guess they're all right now."

  In the meantime, Grace and Gladys had opened their eyes. Mollie nowstood at the carriage step, her hand outstretched.

  As they recognized their rescuers, Grace's pale face lit up. EvenGladys, for once, tried to summon a gracious and grateful smile.

  "We're all right, Mollie," spoke up Grace, "but I think Ruth hasfainted. I'll help you get her into the house."

  Suddenly the young man started up. "I beg your pardon," he remarked in asmooth, pleasantly-modulated voice, "but you really must let me help. Ihave been utterly helpless so far," and his glance wandered admiringlyand a trifle shamefacedly toward Barbara.

  In an instant, he had sprung over the wheel and gently half lifted, halfdragged Ruth Stuart off the seat.

  As her feet touched the ground, she too opened her eyes, only to closethem again with a shivering sigh. Grace was at her side in a moment.

  "Try to walk to the house, dear," Grace urged. "It's only a few steps."

  Mollie took the place of the young man, and, between the two girls, Ruthstumbled to the gate.

  The young man stepped up to Barbara. "Can I help you?" he ventured,looking at the now quieted horses.

  But a cold voice sounded from the carriage, where Gladys still sat. "Ithink you might think a little about me, Harry," she exclaimed.

  The young fellow bit his lip and hesitated.

  "Please," broke in Barbara, "please take her to the house. I can't getthese horses and this carriage through the gate. It isn't big enough.But I'll hitch them to the fence and stay with them for a few minutes.You must need rest, all of you!"

  Harry Townsend bit his lip as he caught the sarcastic inflection inBarbara's last sentence, but did as he was directed, and walked slowlytoward the house with Gladys.

  Left to herself, Barbara led the horses, still attached to the carriage,toward the fence, and hitched them by the reins in a clever way allcountry girls know. "Good boys! Poor boys!" she murmured, petting them,for they were still shivering pitifully with fright.

  For several minutes she stood talking to them. Then Mollie's anxiousface appeared at the door, and in a moment she stood beside her sister.

  "What shall we do?" she asked. "Miss Stuart is feeling very ill, andwants to go home at once. She and all the others refuse to step footinto that carriage again--and I can't blame them; but, you know, it's twomiles to the hotel, if it's a step, and we haven't a telephone. Gracesays Ruth's father would send the au-to-mo-bile,"--Mollie pronounced theword with reverent care--"but what's the quickest way of getting themessage to them? Mother suggests running over to Jim Trumbull's andseeing if he'll hitch up and drive to the hotel. But it's half a mile tohis place, and he's very likely to be away anyhow. What do you----?"

  Barbara interrupted her decisively. "I'll just drive those horses backto the hotel myself, Mollie Thurston," she said calmly.

  "Barbara, you can't! It's risking your life!"

  "Nonsense! There isn't an ounce of spirit left in the poor, frightenedthings. I guess I haven't broken Jim Trumbull's colts for him withoutknowing how to handle horses. You go tell Miss Stuart that herautomobile will be here in two shakes of a lamb's tail. And see,Mollie," the twinkle shone in Barbara's eyes, "of course they'll give mea ride back in the auto!"

  Laughing at Mollie's protests, the plucky girl untied the horses andturned them carefully.

  "Stand at their heads, just a minute," she cheerfully directed. ThenBarbara gathered up the reins and climbed up to the high seat.

  "Drop anchor, Mollie," she called, and trotted slowly down the roadbehind the quieted blacks.

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