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- The Curlytops on Star Island - 30/32 -


Ted's muddy stocking had dried by this time, and he and Jan, using sticks, scraped most of the dirt off.

"Now we'd better be going home," Jan suggested after a bit. "There isn't any fun here."

"Yes, we might as well go," agreed Hal. And I'll tell you what let's do!"

"What?" demanded Ted.

"Let's look in the place where Trouble found those blue stones and see if we can find anymore."

"Oh, yes, let's!" cried Janet. She was happy again, now that she was out in the bright sunshine.

The children remembered where Baby William had found the pretty rocks from which he had made his castle, but when they reached the place not a one was to be had, though they searched all about.

"I guess Trouble took them all," said Janet. "I remember now. I helped him look for more and we couldn't find any."

"Well, maybe there'll be some more somewhere else," suggested Hal hopefully. "Let's look."

So they looked, wandering about in the woods not far from camp, until they heard Nora ringing the bell for dinner.

"Well, where have you children been?" asked Mrs. Martin as they came trooping up to the tent, tired, hungry and dirty.

"Oh, we've been looking for gold," explained Ted, but he did not say they had visited the cave, where they had been told not to go.

"You didn't dig any more deep holes, did you?" asked his grandfather.

"No, sir," answered Ted.

After dinner Ted asked Hal why he didn't speak of having Grandpa Martin go to the cave with the big lantern.

"I thought you were going to do that," he said to Hal.

"Well, I was. But maybe we can find some more of the blue stones for ourselves. We'll look around before we ask your grandpa to help."

Janet wanted to stay around camp and play with her dolls that afternoon, and she took care of Trouble.

"Then we'll go for a goat ride," said Ted. "Come on, Hal."

The two boys hitched Nicknack to the wagon, and set off down the island.

"We'll look for some more blue rocks," suggested Hal, and Ted was willing.

On and on the two boys rode, now stopping to look at some pretty flower, again waiting to hear the finish of some bird's song. They looked on both sides of the woodland path for some of the blue rocks, but, though they saw some of other colors, there were none like those they wanted.

"Whoa there, where are you going now?" Ted suddenly called to Nicknack, and the little boy pulled on the reins by which he guided the goat--or "steered" it, as he sometimes called it.

"What's the matter?" asked Hal.

"Nicknack wants to go over that way and I want him to go straight ahead," answered Ted.

"Maybe he sees some of those blue rocks the way he wants to go," suggested Hal.

"Oh, I don't guess so," replied his chum. "I guess he just wants to get some new kind of grass to eat. Whoa, Nicknack, I tell you!" and Teddy pulled as hard as he could on the reins, without hurting his goat, for he never wanted to do that.

But the goat would not go straight down the island path. He kept pulling off to one side, and at last Ted cried:

"Here, Hal, you take hold of the lines and pull with me. Maybe we can steer him around then."

"Can we pull real hard--I mean will the lines break?" asked Hal.

"Oh, no, they're good and strong," answered Ted.

So he and his chum both pulled on the one rein--the one to get Nicknack's head pointed straight down the path instead of off to one side, but it did no good. The goat knew what he wanted to do, and he was going to do it.

"Look out!" suddenly cried Teddy. "We're going to tip over!"

The next minute the front wheels of the wagon ran up on a little pile of dirt at one side of the path, and the cart gently tilted to one side and then went over with a rattle and a bang.

"There!" laughed Hal, as he rolled out on some soft grass. "We are over, Ted."

"I knew we were going," said Teddy as he, too, laughed and got up. "Whoa there, Nicknack!" he shouted, for the goat was still going on, dragging the overturned wagon after him.

But Nicknack did not stop until he reached a little bush, on which were some green leaves that he seemed to like very much, for he began to chew them.

"That's what he wanted all the while," said Teddy.

"Well, let him eat all he wants, and then he won't be hungry any more and he'll pull us where we want to go," advised Hal.

They did this, after setting the cart up on its wheels. When Nicknack turned away from the bush, and looked at the two waiting boys, Ted said:

"Well, I guess we can go on now."

"Yes," added Hal, "and I hope we'll find those blue rocks. But I don't believe we're ever going to."

At last, however, when it was getting rather late in the afternoon and Ted had said it was time to go back, Hal, who was driving the goat through a part of the woods they never before had visited, pointed to a big stone buried in the side of a hill and cried:

"Look! Isn't that rock blue, Ted?"

"It does look kind of blue, yes."

"Then it's just what we're looking for. See, there's lots of little blue rocks, too. Let's take some back to camp. Maybe they're the same kind Trouble had, and there may be gold in 'em! Come on."

They piled the rocks, which were certainly somewhat blue in color, into the wagon, and started back with them.

"We found 'em! We found 'em!" they called as they came within sight of the tents. "We got the blue rocks!"

"Well, they're pretty, certainly," said Grandpa Martin, as he picked up one from the wagon, "but they're no better than any other rocks around here, as far as I can see."

"They've got gold in 'em, Hal says," Ted stated.

"Gold? Oh, no, Curlytop!" laughed his grandfather. "I've told you there is no gold on this island."

"There's _something_ in the blue rocks," declared Hal. "Feel how heavy they are--lots heavier than any other stones around here."

"Yes, they are," agreed Grandpa Martin, as he weighed one of the stones in his hand. "There might be some iron in them, but not gold. Look out!" he suddenly called as the stone slipped from his hand. "Look out for your toes!"

Laughing, the Curlytops and Hal jumped back. The blue stone which Grandpa Martin dropped, struck on the edge of the shovel which was out in front of the tent. As the rock hit the steel tool with a clang, something queer happened.

At once the rock began to burn with a curious blue flame, and a yellowish smoke curled up.

"Oh, the rock's on fire!" cried Janet. "The rock's on fire!"

"Yes, and look!" added Ted. "It's burning blue, just like the light we saw on the island one night."

"And how queer it smells!" exclaimed Hal.

"Sulphur!" ejaculated Grandpa Martin.

He and the children looked at the queer blue fire that seemed to come from inside the rock. What could it mean?

CHAPTER XX

THE HAPPY TRAMP

Grandpa Martin stood looking down at the queer, burning rock. The blue fire was flaming up brighter now, and it made a strange light on the faces of the Curlytops and Hal as they gathered about. The sky was cloudy and it was getting dark.

"Oh, what is it? What is it?" asked Ted and Jan.

"It smells just like old-fashioned sulphur matches that my grandmother


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