“It’s a lucky thing Miss Eleanor has taken part in amateur theatricals sometimes,” he continued. “She was half wild with anxiety about you two, and she was ready to give you the worst scolding you ever listened to. But I told her what I wanted her to do just in that one minute there at the station, and she played up splendidly, so that I don’t believe Holmes suspects that we’re on to him at all. She’s mad with curiosity, too, and I bet she’s dying to get hold of me and make me tell her all about it.
“Well, I’ve got to get ready for what’s coming after dinner. Run along upstairs, you two, and try to sleep for an hour or so.”
“You won’t leave us behind?” said Dolly, anxiously.
“I’d leave you in a minute, you minx, but I couldn’t get Bessie without waking you up too, I suppose, and I need her, so you’ll have to come along. If you see the other girls don’t tell them what’s happened. Make them wait until tomorrow.”
“All right,” said Bessie. “Come along, Dolly! I am tired. It will feel good to get a little nap.”
The reaction from the strain of their experiences made it easy for them to get to sleep as soon as they were lying down, and both were still sleepy when a knock at the door awakened them, It was quite dark, and the moon was shining. Outside they found two wagons, one much larger than the other, filled with straw.
“This is fine fun,” said Holmes, who was standing with Miss Mercer and Jamieson: “A regular old-fashioned straw ride, eh?”
“Well, pile in!” said Jamieson, who was acting as master of ceremonies. “Holmes, get in there beside Miss Mercer. Bessie, you and Dolly get in there, too. We want to keep an eye on you, so that you don’t get into any more mischief. Come on, now, all you girls get aboard the other wagon—and off you go!”
Then he climbed aboard himself, and began to take up the song that had already been started in the other wagon, one of the favorites of the Camp Fire Girls. So it was a jolly party that soon passed out of the tree-lined avenue of the Mercer farm and began driving along the road, away from Deer Crossing.
The smaller and lighter wagon took the lead and they passed along quietly for some time—quietly as far as incident is concerned, that is, for there was nothing quiet about the merry, happy girls in the big wagon. They made the night resound with their songs and laughter, and Bessie wondered a little why she and Dolly were kept where they were, instead of being sent with the other girls. But she said nothing, and she knew that she would find out presently. For her and Dolly there was a peculiar thrill in the ride, and a delightful one, too, for they knew from what the lawyer had told them that there was a surprise preparing for Holmes, and it was exciting to try to guess what it might turn out to be.
Nor was the explanation very long delayed. They had driven for a mile, perhaps, when the driver, obeying a quiet order from the lawyer, who had taken a seat beside him, turned off the main road, and they found themselves in a narrow lane, where there would not be room to pass should they meet any sort of a vehicle.