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THE MOTOR GIRLS SERIES

by MARGARET PENROSE




Author of the highly successful "Dorothy Dale Series" 12mo.
Illustrated. Price per volume, 75 cents, postpaid.

Since the enormous success or our "Motor Boys Series," by Clarence
Young, we have been asked to get out a similar series for girls. No one
is better equipped to furnish these tales than Mrs. Penrose, who,
besides being an able writer, is an expert automobilist.



THE MOTOR GIRLS ON A TOUR


CONTENTS



I A SPOILED DINNER.

II THE WOODLAND CONFERENCE.

III "NO BOYS!"

IV THE STRANGE PROMISE.

V A LITTLE BROWN WREN

VI THE HOLD-UP

VII A CHANCE MEETING.

VIII JACK AND CLIP

IX THE MYSTERIOUS RIDE.

X "THEY'RE OFF!"

XI THOSE DREADFUL BOYS.

XII THE GIRL IN THE DITCH

XIII AT THE GROTTO

XIV THE PROMISE BOOK LOST

XV ROB ROLAND

XVI A STRANGE MESSAGE

XVII THE ROAD TO BREAKWATER

XVIII THE CLUE.

XIX PAUL AND HAZEL

XX AT THE MAHOGANY SHOP

XXI PERPLEXITIES

XXII THE CHILDREN'S COURT

XXIII THE MOTOR GIRLS ON THE WATCH.

XXIV CORA'S RESOLVE.

XXV A WILD RUN

XXVI LEGAL STRATEGY

XXVII AGAINST THE LAW

XXVIII CONFIDENCES

XXIX MERRY MOTOR MAIDS

XXX THE PROMISE KEPT



THE MOTOR GIRLS ON A TOUR




CHAPTER I

A SPOILED DINNER


The big maroon car glided along in such perfect rhythm that Cora
Kimball, the fair driver of the Whirlwind, heard scarcely a sound of
its mechanical workings. To her the car went noiselessly - the
perfection of its motion was akin to the very music of silence.

Hazel Hastings was simply sumptuous in the tonneau - she had spread
every available frill and flounce, but there was still plenty of
unoccupied space on the luxuriously cushioned "throne."

It seemed a pity to passers-by that two girls should ride alone on that
splendid morning in the handsome machine - so many of those afoot would
have been glad of a chance to occupy the empty seats.

Directly following the Whirlwind came another car - the little silver
Flyaway. In this also were two girls, the Robinson twins, Elizabeth
and Isabel, otherwise Belle and Bess. Chelton folks were becoming
accustomed to the sight of these girls in their cars, and a run of the
motor girls was now looked upon as a daily occurrence. Bess Robinson
guided her car with unmistakable skill - Cora Kimball was considered an
expert driver.

Sputtering and chugging close to the Flyaway came a second runabout.
In this were a girl and a boy, or, more properly speaking, a young lady
and a young gentleman. As they neared the motor girls Bess called back
to Belle:

"There come Sid and Ida. I thought they were not on speaking terms."

"They were not, but they are now," answered Belle with a light laugh.
"Why should a girl turn her back on a young man with a brand new
machine?"

"It runs like a locomotive," murmured Bess, as, at that moment, the
other car shot by, the occupants bowing indifferently to the Robinson
girls as the machines came abreast.

Cora turned and shook her head significantly when the third car had
forged ahead. She, too, seemed surprised that Ida Giles should be
riding with Sid Wilcox. Then Bess rolled up alongside the Whirlwind.

"My, but they are going!" she called to Cora. "I thought Ida said she
would never ride with Sid again."

"Why not?" flashed Cora merrily. "Isn't Sid's car new and - yellow?"

"Like a dandelion," put in Belle, who was noted for her aesthetic
tendencies. "And, precisely like a dandelion, I fancy that machine
would collapse without rhyme or reason. Did you every try a bunch of
dandelions on the table?"

The girls all laughed. No one but Belle Robinson would ever try such
an experiment. Everybody knew the ingratitude of the yellow field
flower.

"I can never bear anything of that color since my valentine luncheon,"
declared Belle bravely. "That's why I predict disaster for Sid's new
car."

"They have dropped something!" exclaimed Hazel as she peered ahead at
the disappearing runabout.

Bess had taken the lead.

"Let's put on speed," she suggested, and, pulling the lever, her car
shot ahead, and was soon within close range of the yellow runabout.

"Be careful!" called her sister. "You will run over - "

It was too late. At that moment the Flyaway dashed over something - the
pieces flew in all directions.

"Their lunch-hamper!" exclaimed Belle.

The runabout had turned to one side, and then stopped. Bess jammed on
the brakes and also came to a standstill.

"Well!" growled Sid Wilcox, approaching the wreck in the road.

"I - couldn't stop," faltered Bess remorsefully.

"I guess you didn't try," snapped Ida Giles, her cheeks aflame almost
to the tint of her fiery tresses.

"I really did," declared Bess. "I would not have spoiled your hamper
for anything."

"And your lunch was in it?" gasped Belle. "We're awfully sorry!"

Bent and crippled enameled dishes from the lately fine and completely
equipped auto-hamper were scattered about in all directions. Here and
there a piece of pie could be identified, while the chicken sandwiches
were mostly recognizable by the fact that a newly arrived yellow dog
persistently gnawed at one or two particular mud spots.

"Oh, we can go to a hotel for dinner," announced the young man, getting
back into his car.

"But they ought to pay for the hamper," grumbled Ida, loud enough for
the Robinson girls to make sure of her remark.

"We will, of course," called Bess, just as Cora and Hazel came up, and
then the Wilcox runabout darted off again.

"Table d'hote?" called Cora, laughing.

"No, a la carte," replied Bess, picking up a piece of damaged celery,
putting it on a slice of uninjured bread and proffering it to Hazel.

"What a shame!" sighed Hazel. "Their picnic will be spoiled."

"But look at the picnic we've had," put in Belle. "You should have
seen Ida's face. A veritable fireless cooker."

"And Sid - he supplied the salt hay," declared Bess. "I felt as if I
were smothered in a ton of it."

"And that was the peace-offering hamper," declared Cora, alighting from
her car and closely viewing the wreck. "Jack told me that Ida gave Sid
a handsome hamper for the new car."

"I told you that the yellow machine would turn - "

"Dandelion," Hazel interrupted Belle. "Well, I agree with you that was
an ungrateful trick. To demolish the lunch, of all other available
things to do, on a day like this!"

"Souvenirs?" suggested Cora, removing her glove to dig out of the mud a
knife, and then a fork.

"Oh, forget it!" exclaimed Bess. "I am sure I want to. Let's get
going again, if we are to make the Woodbine Way in time to plan the
tour. I'm just crazy about the trip," and the enthusiastic girl
expended some of her pent-up energies on the crank at the front of the
Flyaway.

Cora was also cranking up. "Yes," she said, "we had best be on the
road again. We are due at the park at twelve. I expect Maud will have
the family tree along and urge us to stop overnight at every gnarl on
the 'trunk.'"

"We might have asked Ida and Sid," reflected Belle aloud,
sympathetically.

"Yes," Bess almost shouted, "and have them veto every single plan.
Besides, there are to be no boys on this trip; Lady Isabel please take
notice!"

"As if I wanted boys!" sneered her sister.

"As if you could have them if you did!" fired back Bess in that
tantalizing way that only sisters understand, only sisters enjoy, and
only sisters know how to operate successfully.

"Peace! peace!" called Cora. "If Belle wants boys she may have them.
I am chairman of the acting committee, and if boys do not act I would
like to know exactly what they do."

"No boys!" faltered Hazel, who, not owning a machine, had not as yet
heard all the details of the proposed three-days' tour of the motor
girls.

"Nary a one!" returned Bess, now about to start.

"If we had boys along," explained Cora, "they would claim the glory of
every spill, every skid, every upset and every 'busted tire.' We want
some little glory ourselves," and at this she threw in the clutch, and,
with a gentle effort, the Whirlwind rolled off, followed closely by the
Flyaway.

"I suppose Sid and Ida are licking their fingers just about now,"
remarked the good-natured Bess.

"Very likely," rejoined her sister, "for I fancy their meal was made up
of buckwheat cakes and molasses, as Sid had to pay for it."

"Oh, I meant sheer deliciousness," corrected her sister. "I
'fawncy'" - and she imitated the dainty tones used by Belle - "they have
had - "

"Backbiting and detraction," called Cora, who had been close enough to
hear the sisters' remarks. "I would not have been in your place at
that table, Bess, for a great deal."

Bess tossed her head about indifferently. She evidently knew what to
expect from Ida and Sid.

"Now for a straight run!" announced Cora, throwing in third speed. "We
must make the bridge by the quarter whistle or the Maud Morris family
tree may have been consumed for luncheon. I particularly want a peg at
that tree."

"We're off!" called Bess, following with additional speed.

Then the Whirlwind and the Flyaway dashed off, over the country roads,
past scurrying chicks and barking dogs, past old farmers who turned in
to give "them blamed things" plenty of room, out along Woodbine to the
pretty little park where the plans for the first official run of the
motor girls were soon to be perfected.



CHAPTER II

THE WOODLAND CONFERENCE


In the first volume of this series, entitled "The Motor Girls; Or, A
Mystery of the Road," we became acquainted with these vivacious young
ladies. Cora Kimball, the first to own her own motor-car, the
Whirlwind, was the only daughter of Mrs. Grace Kimball, a wealthy widow
of the little town of Chelton. Jack Kimball, Cora's brother, a typical
college boy, had plenty to do in unraveling the mystery of the road,
while his chums, Walter Pennington and Edward Foster, were each such
attractive young men that even to the end it was difficult to guess
which one would carry off the highest honors socially - with Cora as
judge, of course.

It was Ed Foster who lost the money, a small fortune, and it was the
rather unpleasant Sid Wilcox, and perhaps unfortunate Ida Giles, who
finally cleared up the mystery, happily enough, all things considered,
although in spite of the other girls' opportune intention it was not
possible to reflect any degree of credit upon those responsible for the
troubles and trials which that mystery involved.

Speaking of the young men, Paul Hastings, a young chauffeur, should not
be overlooked. Paul was a very agreeable youth indeed, and his sister,
Hazel, a most interesting young lady, with very special qualities of
talent and learning.

"Among those present" in the first volume were the attractive Robinson
twins, Bess inclined to rather more weight than height, and Belle, the
tall, graceful creature, who delighted in the aesthetic and reveled in
"nerves."

Mr. Perry Robinson, the girls' father, was a wealthy railroad magnate,
devoted to carriage rides, and not caring for motors, but not too "set"
to allow his daughters the entire ownership of the pretty new
runabout - the Flyaway.

Cora, Hazel, Bess and Belle were flying over the country roads in their
cars, making for Woodbine Park, where they were to hold a preliminary
meet to arrange for a tour on the road.

Past the bridge at the appointed time, they reached the wooded park
exactly at twelve - the hour set for the rest and luncheon, to be
followed by the "business meeting."

"There come Daisy and Maud," called Cora, as along the winding road she
discerned another car approaching.

"And there are Clip and Ray," added Belle, shutting off the gasoline
and preparing to bring her machine to a standstill.

"I think it a shame to call Cecilia Thayer Clip," objected Belle. "She
is no more of a romp than - "

"Any boy," interrupted Bess. "Well, the boys call her Clip, and it's
handy."

By this time the new car was up in line with the others.

"'Lo, there!" called Cecilia, jerking her machine to a stop in the
manner deplored by skilled mechanicians.

"Look out!" cautioned Cora. "You'll 'bust' something."

Cecilia had bounded out on the road.

"Stiff as a stick!" she exclaimed with a rather becoming twist of her
agile form. "I never make that road without absorbing every bump on
the thoroughfare."

Cecilia was not altogether pretty, for she had the "accent on her
nose," as Cora put it, but she was dashing, and, at a glance, one might
easily guess why she had been called Clip.

Rachel Stuart was a striking blonde, tall to a fault, pink and white to
bisqueness and, withal, evidently conscious of her charms. Even while
motoring she affected the pastel tints, and this morning looked radiant
in her immense blue scarf and her well-matched blue linen coat.

"You look," said Cora to Cecilia, as the latter continued to shake
herself out of the absorbed bumps, "like nothing so much as like a
'strained' nurse - Jack's variety."

"Exactly that!" admitted Cecilia. "I have been searching high and low
for a cheap and economical rig to drive in, and I have just hit upon
this." She pirouetted wonderfully. "All ready made - the 'strained'
nurse variety, sure enough. How do you like it?"

"Very becoming," decided Bess.

"And very practical," announced Belle.

"Sweet," declared Cora.

"When you say a good thing, stop," ordered Cecilia, just as Ray was
about to give her verdict.

"And now to the woods," suggested Cora. "We may as well put our
machines up in the open near the grove. We can see them there, and
make sure that no one is tempted to investigate them."

It was a level stretch over the field to the grove. Cora led the way
and the others followed. Lunch baskets and boxes were quickly gathered
up from the machines, and, with the keenness of appetite common to
young and healthy, and "painful" to our fair motorists (for Cecilia
declared her appetite "hurt"), the party scampered off to an
appropriate spot where the lunch might be enjoyed.

"And there are to be no boys?" asked Maud Morris, she with the
"imploring look," as Cecilia put it, although Maud was familiarly known
as a very sweet girl.

"No boys!" echoed Bess, between uncertain mouthfuls.

Daisy Bennet turned her head away in evident disapproval.

"No boys," she repeated faintly. Daisy did everything faintly. She was
a perfectly healthy young girl, but a little affected otherwise - too
fond of paper-covered books, and perhaps too fond of other sorts of
romance. But we must not condemn Daisy - her mother had the
health-traveling habit, and what was Daisy to do with herself?

Cora handed around some lettuce sandwiches.

"I am just as keen on boys as any of you," she admitted, "but for a
real motor girl tour it is apparent that boys will have to be tabooed."

Bess grunted, Belle sighed, Cecilia bit her tongue, Ray raised her
eyebrows, Hazel made a "minute" of the report.

"And silence ensued," commented Cecilia, reaching back of Maud and
securing a dainty morsel from the lunch-box of the latter.

"Water?" called Bess.

"Yes," chimed in Cecilia, "go and fetch some."

"The spring is away down the other side of the hill," objected Bess.

"You need the exercise," declared Cecilia.

"Clip, you go fetch some," suggested Cora, "and I'll give you half my
pie."

Without another word Clip was on her feet, had upset Daisy's improvised
table of sticks and paper napkins in her haste to secure the water
bottle, and was now running over the hill toward the spring.

Presently she stopped as if listening to something. Then she turned
and hurried back to the party on the grass. Her face was white with
alarm.

"Oh!" she gasped. "I heard the awfullest groans! Some one must be
either dying for a drink, or dying from a drink. The groans were wet!"

Cora jumped up, as did some of the others.

"Come on," said Cora. "I'm not afraid. Some one may need help."

"Oh, they do - I am sure," panted Cecilia. "All kinds of help, I should
say. The moans were chromatic."

"Listen!" commanded Cora, as the sounds came over the hill. Low, then
fierce growls and groans, tapering down to grunts and exclamation marks
sounded through the grove.

"Oh!" screamed Belle.

"What can it be?" exclaimed Daisy.

"Almost anything," suggested Cora. "But we had best be specific," and
she started in the direction of the mysterious sounds.

Cecilia followed, as did Bess, while the others held off in evident
fear.

Although it was high noon, in the grove the heavy spruce and cedar
trees darkened the place, and the farther the girls penetrated into the
depths of the wood, the deeper did the shadows close in around them.
Cora picked up a stout stick as she advanced.

"Get me one," begged Cecilia. "We may encounter a bear."

"Human?" asked Cora with a laugh.

"Preferably," answered Cecilia, keeping very close to Cora.

The noises had ceased. The girls halted, waiting for a sound to give
them the clue of direction.

"He's dead!" gasped Cecilia. "It was the drink - he got the drink, and
then died!"

"As long as he got it," whispered Cora. She was anxious to catch
another "groan."

"There!" exclaimed Bess, as a sound, faint but decisive, was heard from
a hollow ahead.

"Where?" asked Cora, purposely misunderstanding Bess.

"Here!" called Cecilia, who, with sudden resolve, had snatched the
stick from Cora's hand, and now darted forward.

She went straight for the spring.




CHAPTER III

"NO BOYS!"


Such shouting and such laughing!

There, hidden in the thicket near the spring, were discovered Jack
Kimball and Walter Pennington, while the chuckles and other noises
emerging from mysterious parts of the wood indicated the presence of
human beings, although the sounds had a queer similarity to that made
by furry beasts.

"Oh, Clip! Spare me!" called Jack, as Cecilia actually undertook to
punish physically the offending young man. "I really did not think you
would be scared - in fact, I had an idea you were scare-immune."

"I am," declared the girl; "but the idea of me wasting sympathy! I
might have discovered the dead man of all my life-long dreams - had to
appear in court, and all the other delightful consequences of finding a
man under suspicious circumstances; and there you are not even sick.
Jack Kimball, how could you? You might at least have had the
politeness to be deadly ill."

Walter crawled out from the thicket.

"I thought I smelled eating," he remarked, "and I suggested that we
postpone the wild and woolly until we had investigated."

"Oh, come on," called Cora. "We may as well allow you to move on. - You
have actually interrupted the plans for our first official run.'

"Good!" exclaimed Ed Foster, who, with some other young chaps, had
collected themselves from the various haunts. "Any boys?"

"Boys!" echoed Cora.

"B-o-y-s!" drawled Maud, "chucking the imploring look," as Cecilia
whispered to Cora.

"We have been discussing the question," declared Bess, as they all
started toward the lunch spread on the grass, "and we have now fully
decided. The answer is: No boys!"

This verdict brought forth the expected chorus of groans from the young
men.

"Indeed, you may be glad to get a fellow when you find yourselves in a
good and proper smashup," declared Jack, "and I predict a smash-up
about every other mile."

The sight of the tempting lunch and that of the other young ladies who
had not undertaken the march to the spring, was the signal for a "grand
rush" - and that was about all.

When the boys extricated themselves from the "rush" there was not a
crumb visible.

"We had all we wished," faltered the circumspect Ray Stuart. "You were
entirely welcome - might have saved, at least, the dishes."

"Oh," breathed Ed, "it is so much pleasanter to poach - don't spoil it."

Ed cast a most appreciative glance at Ray. She expected it, of course,
and accepted it with a smile.

Clip was talking earnestly to Jack, Cora was being entertained by
Walter, who, at the same time, managed to keep up a running
conversation with the group of girls now busy putting away the lunch
things.

"We had a dreadful accident coming out," said Belle. "Bess ran over - "

"A square meal in a square basket," interrupted Bess. "I demolished
the hamper that Ida Giles had bestowed on Sidney Wilcox. It was a
peace offering, I believe."

"And you should have seen the kind of 'pieces' Bess made of it,"
commented Hazel with a merry laugh.

"Hush!" hissed Ed with his finger to his lips.

"Something tells me that the demolished hamper forbodes evil. You will
regret the day, Miss Elizabeth, that you spilled Sid Wilcox's-"

"Pumpkin pie," finished Cora. "I never saw such pumpkiny pumpkin pie
in my life. I can smell it yet!"

"Mrs. Giles' famous home-made," quoted Walter. "Well, it might have
been worse - they might have eaten that pie."

"Say, fellows," said Jack suddenly, "this is all very pretty - the
girls, I mean, of course - but does it smite any one of you young
rustics that we have an engagement - ahem! At three-thirty, wasn't it?"

"Precisely," declared Ed. "So much obliged for the feed; and do we
make a party call?"

"Of course," answered the pretty Ray, attempting to tie her huge scarf,
without having any idea of doing so. "We shall expect - "

"The bunch?" interrupted Jack, knowing Ray's preference for the
handsome Ed.

"How - "

"Naughty," simpered Cecilia. "Jack, how can you use slang in the
presence of ladies?" and she assumed the characteristic "tough" walk,
which had always been one of Clip's most laughable capers.

"Loidies!" echoed Jack, tilting his cap and striking an attitude
appropriate to that assumed by Cecilia. He slipped his arm within
hers, and the pair "strutted off," in the fashion identified with the
burlesque stage.

"Here! here!" called more than one young lady. "Come back here, Clip!
There are to be no boys!"

"This isn't a boy," called back Cecilia, keeping up the performance.
"He's only a - "

"Don't you dare!" threatened Jack.

The girls began to gather the things up from the grass.

"Now don't hurry," remarked Ed coolly. "The fact is, we are not going
your way."

"Don't want us!" almost gasped Ray.

"Shook!" groaned Bess.

"Not at all," Walter hurried to add, "but the real truth is - well, let
me see. What's the real truth?"

Jack was fetching Cecilia back. At some secret sign the young men
actually took to their heels, and ran away before the girls realized
what was happening. But from a distance they waved a cheerful adieu.

"What do you think of that!" exclaimed Hazel.

"Oh, they are just up to some frolic, and could not take us in," said
Cora. "If we were not so busy with our plans we might follow them.
But I propose continuing the business meeting."

With some reluctance, for the time had been greatly enlivened by the
appearance of the young men on the scene, the girls once more got to
discussing the details of their proposed three days' tour.

As Cora had predicted, Maud wanted the stops along the way made at the
homes of her various and varied relatives. Daisy feared her mother
would insist upon a chaperone, and this almost absorbed Daisy's chance
of being eligible. Ray thought the motors should flaunt flags - pretty
light blue affairs - but Bess declared it would be infinitely more
important to carry plenty of gasoline.

So the girls planned and plotted, until, in the northwest, a great
black cloud came stealing over the silent blue, gathering fury as it
came, and coming very quickly at that.

"A storm!" shouted Belle. "Oh, I do hope it won't be the thundering
kind!"

There was a swirl of the leaves around them, and the wind gave a
warning howl. All ran for the cars.

"A tornado, likely," said Hazel. "And, oh, dear! this is just about
the time that Paul will be bringing the mail over. I am so nervous
since his firm undertook the mail route between New City and Cartown.
This is such a lonely road for an auto in a storm - especially when
every one knows Paul carries the mail."

Hazel was greatly agitated, but the other girls endeavored to reassure
her.

"Why, Paul will be all right," declared Cora, surprised at Hazel's
alarm. "What could happen to him? Why is a storm in the afternoon of
such consequence?"

"Oh, I don't know," sighed Hazel; "but having to manage a car, and be
personally responsible for the big mailbag - there is so much important


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