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- The Campfire Girls Go Motoring - 20/30 -
"A quarter after one," repeated Gladys. "That's Central time. That was a quarter after two Cleveland time. The bank closes at two o'clock. They probably never sent me any money!"
"Now you'll have to wire your father after all," said Hinpoha.
For answer Gladys pointed to the blackened telegraph pole which was lying with its many arms stretched out across the roof of the station. There would be no wires sent out that day.
By the time the rain had ceased the darkness of the thunder clouds had been succeeded by the darkness of night, and Hinpoha and Gladys took their way wearily back over the flooded road to where the Striped Beetle stood.
"Did you have to dig a well first, before you got that gasoline?" called Chapa, as they approached. (They _had_ put down the storm curtains, Gladys noted.)
Gladys made her announcement briefly and they all settled down to gloom.
"Talk about being shipwrecked on a desert island," said Hinpoha. "I think one can get beautifully shipwrecked on the inhabited mainland. We are experiencing all the thrills of Robinson Crusoe and the Swiss family Robinson combined."
"We haven't any Man Friday," observed Gladys.
"What good would he be if we had him?" inquired Hinpoha, gloomily.
"He could act as chauffeur," replied Gladys, "and supply the modern flavor."
"This is Friday, too," remarked Medmangi.
"That's why the car won't start," said Hinpoha, "it won't start anything on Friday."
"Couldn't we dig for oil?" suggested Chapa. "We're in the oil belt. There must be all kinds of gasoline in the earth under our very feet, and we languishing on top of it! It's like the stories where the man perishes of thirst in the desert right on top of the water hole."
"We really and truly are Robinson Crusoe-like," said Gladys, looking out at the flooded fields and deserted road.
"Robinson Crusoe had the advantage of us in one thing," said Hinpoha, returning to her main theme. "He had a corn-stalk, and clams, and things."
"'If we only had some ham, we could have some ham and eggs, if we only had some eggs,'" quoted Gladys.
"Here's where the Slave of the Lamp would come in handy," sighed Hinpoha.
"You might rub the lamp," said Gladys, pointing to the tail light, "and maybe the Slave will appear."
"I want baked potatoes on my order," said Gladys.
"And I want broiled chicken," said Chapa.
Hinpoha got down and solemnly rubbed the tail lamp of the Striped Beetle, exclaiming, "Slave, appear!"
Something black bounded out of the darkness at the side of the road and landed at her feet. It was Mr. Bob, who had gone off for exercise. He carried something in his mouth which he laid decorously on the ground beside her. She stooped to look at it. It was an apple.
The girls all shouted. Hinpoha straightened up. "Girls," she said solemnly, "coming shadows cast their events before, I mean, coming events cast their shadows before. Where there's honey you'll find bees, and where there's apples you'll find trees. The famine is over, and now for the feast."
She led the way down the road with Chapa and Medmangi on either side. They found the tree, close beside the road, and loaded with fruit. They filled their pockets for Gladys and returned to the Striped Beetle, and then for some time, as Hinpoha said, "Nothing was heard in the air but the hurrying munch of the greening."
"It must be a disadvantage to be a negro," remarked Hinpoha reflectively, "you can't tell the difference when they're clean."
"May I ask," inquired Gladys politely, "just what it was that caused you to make that remark at this time?"
"Greening apples," returned Hinpoha, calmly. "You can't tell which are ripe and which are green."
"You can tell by the seeds," said Gladys.
"All seeds are black by night," returned Hinpoha.
"Not changing the subject," said Chapa, "but where are we going to stay to-night?"
"You're not _going_ to stay," replied Hinpoha, "you're staying. Right here. The Inn of the Striped Beetle.
"Under the wide and starry sky Fold up the seats and let us lie!"
"We'll sleep with the raggle taggle gypsies, O!" added Gladys.
"I want a fire," said Hinpoha. "We always have a fire when we sleep out."
"Well, build one in a puddle, if you can," said Gladys. "Your hair will be the only blaze we have to-night."
Chapa and Medmangi stood up together on the running-board and began to sing dolefully,
"Forsaken, forsaken, forsaken, am I, Like the bones at a banquet, all men pass me by."
"I wish a few would pass by," said Gladys, "By the way, have you noticed that not a single car or wagon has passed through here since we've been stranded? I thought this was the main road."
"If this is the main road," said Hinpoha, "I'd hate to be stranded on a by-path."
Of course, the girls did not know then that the storm had washed out the bridges on either side of them and the roadway had been closed to traffic. They sat peering into the darkness like Columbus looking for land and wondering why no one came along to whom they could appeal for a tow into the village. The moon shone, a slender sickle in the west that Gladys said reminded her of the thin slices of melon they used to serve for breakfast at Miss Russell's school.
"I think it looks more like a toe nail," said Hinpoha, squinting sidewise at it.
"Don't look at it squarely, it'll bring you bad luck," said Chapa.
"I'm not looking at it," said Hinpoha, "it's looking at me."
"Where does the man in the moon go when it turns into a sickle?" asked Medmangi.
"That doesn't worry me half so much as where Pearl went with my silver mesh bag," said Gladys. That brought them all down to earth again and back to the cause of their predicament, and the moon turned into a yellow banana and fell off the sky counter while they voiced their indignation. And, of course, they all turned on Hinpoha for being taken in by her in the first place, and Hinpoha vented her irritation on Mr. Bob, who was sitting with his head on her knee in a lover-like attitude.
"It's all your fault that we are in this mess," she said to him, crossly. "If you hadn't jumped out of the car after that yellow dog and chased him into the empty store I wouldn't have had to go after you, and if I hadn't gone after you I would never have discovered Pearl and brought her along with us. It's the last time I'll ever travel with you." Mr. Bob, feeling the reproach in her tone, crept away with his head down.
"O come, let's not quarrel about whose fault it was," said Gladys. "It isn't the first time people have been taken in."
"We seem to be left out, rather than taken in," murmured Hinpoha.
"You're unusually brilliant to-night," remarked Chapa. "It must have been the apples, because on an ordinary diet you never say anything bright."
"Is that so?" said Hinpoha.
"Look at the stars," said Gladys hastily, "aren't they brilliant to- night?"
"Almost as brilliant as Hin--" began Chapa.
"If we sit up late enough," said Gladys, cutting in on Chapa's remark, "we may see some of the winter stars. I actually believe there's Orion now."
"And the Twins," cried Hinpoha, forgetting her momentary offended feeling in the interest of her discovery.
"And Sirius and the Bull and the River," added Gladys. "It's just like getting a peep at the actors in their dressing-rooms before it is time for them to come out on the stage, to see the winter stars now."
"I hate to look at the stars so much," said Hinpoha, dolefully. "They make me feel so small."
"I should think that anything that made you feel small would--"
Gladys again interrupted the flow of Chapa's wit, directed this time against Hinpoha's bulk.
"I'm going to bed," she announced. There was a scramble for the robes and for comfortable places in the tonneau, and it took much adjusting
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