Betty Gordon at Mountain Camp/Chapter 25
ON THE DECK OF THE SAN SALVADOR
Mr. Richard Gordon sent several telegrams before the train arrived, and they were all of importance. One recovered Betty's locket, for, informed of the circumstances by this telegram, the lawyer in Washington sent his clerk to Mrs. Staples and showed her in a very few words that she was coasting very close to the law by keeping the little platinum and diamond locket.
"So," said Betty to Bobby, "if the lawyer gets it—and Uncle Dick says he will—I can wear the locket to parties at the school."
"If Mrs. Eustice allows it," said her chum grimly. "You know, she's down on jewelry. Remember how she got after Ada Nansen and Ruth Gladys Royal for wearing so much junk?"
"My goodness!" giggled Betty, "what would she say to you if she heard you use such an expression? Anyway, I am going to show her Uncle Dick's present and ask her. I know the beautiful diamond earrings Doctor and Mrs. Guerin sent me can't be worn till I grow up a bit. But my locket is just right."
It was a noisy crowd that boarded the train; and it continued to be a noisy crowd to the junction where it broke up. All the young folks would have been glad to go with Uncle Dick and Ida Bellethorne to New York; but he sent all but Betty and Bob on to school. They would reach the Shadyside station soon after daybreak the next morning, and Mr. Gordon had telegraphed ahead for the school authorities to be on the lookout for them.
Betty and Bob, with Uncle Dick and the English girl, left the train at the junction and boarded another for New York City in some confidence of reaching their destination in good season.
The train, however, was late. It seemed merely to creep along for miles and miles. Luckily they had secured berths, and while they slept the delayed train did most of its creeping.
But in the morning they were dismayed to find that they were already two hours late and that it would be impossible for the train to pick up those two hours before reaching the Grand Central Terminal in New York City.
"Now, hold your horses, young people!" advised Mr. Gordon. "We are not beaten yet. The San Salvador does not leave her dock until eleven at the earliest. It may be several hours later. I have wired to Miss Bellethorne aboard the ship and in care of the Toscanelli Opera Company as well. I do not know the hotel at which Miss Bellethorne has been staying."
"But, Uncle Dick!" cried Betty, who seemed to have thought of every chance that might arise, "suppose Ida's aunt wants to take her along to Brazil? Her passport——"
"Can be viséd at the British consulate on Whitehall Street in a very few minutes. I have examined Ida's passport, and there is no reason why there should be any trouble over it at all. She is a minor, you see, and if her aunt wishes to assume responsibility for her no effort will be made to keep her in the country, that is sure."
"Then it all depends upon Ida's aunt," sighed Betty.
"And our reaching the dock in time," amended Uncle Dick. "I would not wish to interfere with Miss Bellethorne's business engagement in Rio Janeiro; but I am anxious for her to authorize me, on behalf of her niece, to get legal matters in train for the recovery of that beautiful mare. I believe that she belongs—every hair and hoof of her—to our young friend here. There has been some trickery in the case."
"Oh, Uncle Dick!" shrieked Betty.
"When I went to see that poor little cripple Hunchie Slattery he told me that the very papers that were given to Mr. Bolter with the horse must prove Ida's ownership at one time of the mare. There was some kind of a quit-claim deed signed by her name, and that signature must be a forgery.
"The horse could never have been sold in England, for the Bellethorne stable was too well known there. The men who grabbed the string of horses left when Ida's father died are well-to-do, and Mr. Bolter will be able to get his money back, even if he has already paid the full price agreed upon for Ida Bellethorne.
"I am convinced," concluded Uncle Dick, "that the girl has something coming to her. And it may even pay Miss Bellethorne to remain in the United States instead of going to Rio Janeiro until the matter of the black mare's ownership is settled beyond any doubt."
When the train finally reached New York, Uncle Dick did not even delay to try to reach the dock by telephone. He bundled his party into a taxicab and they were transported to the dock where the San Salvador lay.
A steward seemed to be on the look-out for the party, and addressed Uncle Dick the moment he alighted from the cab.
"Mr. Gordon, sir? Yes, sir. Madam Bellethorne has received your wire and is waiting for you. I have arranged for you all to be passed through the inspection line. The steamship, sir, is delayed and will not sail until next tide."
"And that is a mighty good thing for us," declared Mr. Gordon to his charges.
His business card helped get them past the inspectors. It is not easy to board a ship nowadays to bid good-bye to a sailing friend. But in ten minutes or so they stood before the great singer.
She was a tall and handsome woman. Betty at first glance saw that Ida, the niece, would very likely grow into a very close resemblance to Madam Bellethorne.
The woman looked swiftly from Betty to Ida and made no mistake in her identification of her brother's daughter. Ida was crying just a little, but when she realized how close and kindly was her aunt's embrace she shook the drops out of her eyes and smiled.
"Father wanted I should find you, Aunt Ida," she said. "He wrote a letter to you and I have it. I think it was the principal thing he thought of during his last illness—his misunderstanding with you."
"My fault as much as his," Madam Bellethorne said sadly. "We were both proud and high-tempered. But no more of this now. Something in this gentleman's long telegram to me——"
She bowed to Mr. Gordon. He quickly stated the matter of the black mare's ownership to the singer.
"If you will come to the British consulate where Ida's passport must be viséd, and sign there a paper empowering me to act in your behalf, you assuming the guardianship of Ida, I can start lawyers on the trail of this swindle."
Miss Bellethorne was a woman of prompt decision and of a business mind, and immediately agreed. She likewise saw that her niece had made powerful friends during the weeks she had been in America and she was content to allow Mr. Gordon to do the girl this kindness.
It was a busy time; but the delay in the sailing of the San Salvador made it possible for everything necessary to be accomplished. Uncle Dick and Betty and Bob accompanied the Bellethornes aboard the ship again and had luncheon with them. Ida cried when she parted with Betty; but it would be only for the winter. When the opera company returned to New York it was already planned that the younger Ida Bellethorne should join the friends of her own age she had so recently made at Shadyside School.
It was an astonishing sight for Betty and Bob to see the great ship worried out of her dock by the fussy little tugs. It was growing dark by that time and the great steamship was brilliantly lighted. They watched until she was in midstream and was headed down the harbor under her own steam.
"There! It's over!" sighed Betty. "I feel as if a great load had been lifted from my mind. Dear me, Bob! do you suppose we can ever again have so much excitement crowded into a few hours?"
As Betty was no seeress and could not see into the future she of course did not dream that in a very few weeks, and in very different surroundings, she would experience adventures quite as interesting as any which had already come into her life. These will be published in the next volume of this series, entitled: "Betty Gordon at Ocean Park; or, Gay Doings on the Boardwalk."
Bob shook his head at Betty's last observation. "Does seem as though we manage to get hooked up to lots of strange folks and strange happenings. Certain metals attract lightning, Betty, and I think you attract adventures. What do you say, Uncle Dick?"
Mr. Gordon only laughed. "I say that you young folks had better have supper and a long night's rest. I shall not let you go on to school until to-morrow. For once you will be a day late; but I will chance explaining the circumstances to your instructors."
They got into the taxicab again and bowled away up town. The lights came up like rows of fireflies in the cross streets. When they struck into the foot of Fifth Avenue at the Washington Arch the globes on that thoroughfare were all alight. It was late enough for the traffic to have thinned out and their driver could travel at good speed save when the red lights flashed up on the traffic towers.
"Isn't this wonderful?" said Betty. "Libbie is always enthusing about pretty views and fairylike landscapes. What would she and Timothy say to this?"
"Something silly, I bet," grumbled Bob. "Cricky! but I'm hungry," proving by this speech that he had a soul at this moment very little above mundane things.
Uncle Dick chuckled in his corner of the car, and made no comment. And Betty said nothing further just then. The brilliant lights of the avenue were shining full in her face, but her thoughts were far away, with Ida Bellethorne on that ocean-going steamer bound for South America. What a wonderful winter of adventures it had been!
"And the best of it is, it all came out right in the end," murmured the girl softly to herself.