The Outdoor Girls at Rainbow Lake by Laura Lee Hope
Chapter IV. The Missing Documents
"How do you feel now? Do you think you can drink a little of this?"
Faintly Grace heard these words, as though some one, miles away, was repeating them through a heavy fog. Myriads of bells seemed ringing in her ears, and her whole body felt as though made of lead. Then she became conscious of shooting pains. Her head ached, there was a roaring in it. This was followed by a delicious drowsiness.
"Try and take a little of this. The doctor does not think you are badly hurt. Fortunately the horse did not fall on you."
Again it seemed as though the voice came from the distant clouds.
Grace tried to think-- to reason out where she was, and discover what had happened; but when she did, that same ringing of bells sounded in her ears, her head ached and she felt she was losing that much-to-be desired drowsiness.
"Try and take it."
She felt some one raise her head, supporting her shoulders. She struggled with herself, resolving not to give way to that lethargy. She opened her eyes with an effort, and looked about her in wonder. She was in a strange room, and a strange woman was bending over her, holding a glass of some pleasant-scented liquid.
"There, you have roused up, my dear, try to take this," said the woman, with a smile. "The doctor will be back to see you in a little while."
"The doctor," stammered Grace. "Am I hurt? What happened? Oh, I remember, Prince was frightened by the auto, and ran away. Where is he?" she asked in sudden terror, as a thought came to her.
"He got up and ran off after he fell with you," said the woman, as she held the glass for Grace to drink. "We had no time to try and catch him, for there were others to attend to."
"Oh, but Prince must be caught!" cried Grace, trying to rise from the couch on which she was lying, but finding it too much of an effort.
"He will be, my dear," said the woman. "Don't fret about the horse. He did not seem to be hurt."
Oh, it isn't so much Prince himself, though Will would feel very badly if anything happened to him. It is---- "
Then Grace recalled that to mention the papers in the saddle bag might not be wise, so she stopped.
"There now, don't worry, my dear," spoke the woman, soothingly. "Some one will catch the horse,"
"Oh, he must be caught!" cried Grace. "You say the doctor was here to see me?"
"Yes, we sent for one soon after a passing farmer carried you in here when you fell and fainted. You were lying out in the rain-- insensible. We managed to get off your wet dress, and I just slipped this dressing gown of mine on you."
"You were very kind. I can't seem to think very clearly," and poor Grace put her hand to her head.
"Then don't try, my dear: You'll be all right in a little while. Just rest. I'll see if the doctor can come to you now."
"Why is he here-- in the house-- is some one else ill?" asked Grace, quickly.
"Yes, my dear. Poor little Dodo was knocked down by the horse, and we fear is badly hurt."
"Dodo?" and the voice of Grace fairly rang at the name.
"Yes, little Dora Billette. This is her aunt's house. She and her brother Paul are visiting here."
"Yes, yes! I know. They live near me in Deepdale. Their sister Mollie is one of my best friends. I am Grace Ford."
"Oh yes, I know you now. I thought I recognized your face. I have seen you at Mollie's house. I am a distant relative. But rest yourself now, and the doctor will come to you as soon as he can. He has to attend to Dodo first, the little dear!"
"Oh! Dodo, Dodo!" cried Grace, much affected. "You poor little darling, and to think that it was my fault! I must go to her. Mollie will never forgive me!"
She tried to rise.
"Lie still," commanded the woman, but gently. "It was not your fault. I saw it all. The twins persisted in running out in the storm. The girl could not stop them. Dodo got away and ran directly for the horse."
"Yes, I saw that. I thought she would be terribly hurt. Oh, to think it had to be I and Prince who did it!"
"It was not at all your fault. If anyone is to blame it is those autoists for going so fast, and passing you so closely. There was no excuse for that. The road was plenty wide enough and they scarcely stopped a moment after you went down, but hurried right on. They should be arrested!"
"Oh, but poor Dodo! poor Dodo!" murmured Grace. "Is she much hurt?"
"The doctor is not sure. He is afraid of internal injuries, and there seems to be something the matter with one of her legs. But we are hoping for the best. Here, take some more of this; the doctor left it for you."
Grace was feeling easier now. Gradually it all came back to her; how she had raced to get home before the storm broke-- the pursuing auto, the injured horse and then the heavy fall. She had no recollection of the passing farmer carrying her into the house.
The doctor came into the room.
"Well, how are we coming on?" he asked, cheerfully. "Ah, we have roused up I see," he went on, as he noted Grace sitting up. "I guess it is nothing serious after all. Just a bump on the head; eh?" and he smiled genially, as he took her hand.
"Yes, I feel pretty well, except that my head aches," said Grace, rather wanly.
"I don't blame it. With that fall they say you got it is a wonder you have any head left," and he put out his hand to feel her pulse, nodding in a satisfied sort of way.
"How-- how is little Dodo?" faltered Grace.
Dr. Morrison did not answer at once. He seemed to be studying Grace.
"How is she-- much hurt?" Grace asked again.
"Well, we will hope for the best," he answered as cheerfully as he could. "I can't say for sure, but her left leg isn't in the shape I'd like to see it. I am afraid the horse stepped on it. But there, don't worry. We will hope for the best."
"Little Dodo's sister is my best chum," explained Grace, the tears coming into her eyes. "Oh, when I saw her running toward Prince I thought I would faint! Poor little dear! I called to her, but she would not mind."
"That was the trouble," explained Mrs. Watson, who had been ministering to Grace, "she seemed just wild to get out in the rain."
"Well, it may yet come out all right," said Dr. Morrison, "but it is not going to be easy. I don't believe you need me any more-- er---- "
He paused suggestively.
"Miss Ford is my name," Grace supplied.
"Ah, yes, I am glad to know you. Now I must go back to the little one."
"Could I see her?" asked Grace, impulsively.
"I had rather not-- now."
Grace caught her breath convulsively. It was worse than she had feared-- not to even see Dodo!
"But you can talk to Paul," went on the physician. "Probably it will do him good to meet a friend. He is rather upset. His aunt, Mrs. Carr, with whom the children were staying for a few days, has telephoned to Mrs. Billette about the accident. Word came back that Nellie-- is that the name-- the larger sister---- "
"Mollie," said Grace.
"Well, then, Mollie is to come to take Paul home. We cannot move Dodo yet."
"Oh, is Mollie coming here?"
"Yes. You can arrange to go home with her if you like. I believe Mrs. Carr asked for a closed carriage."
"Then, I will go home with Mollie and Paul. Oh, will they ever forgive me?"
"It was not your fault at all!" insisted Mrs. Watson." I saw the whole thing. Please don't worry."
"No, you must not," said the physician. "Well, I will go back to my little patient," and he sighed, for even he was affected by Dodo's suffering.
Grace sought out Paul, who was with his aunt, whom Grace knew slightly. Mrs. Carr greeted her warmly, and put her arms about her in sympathy. Paul looked up at the familiar face and asked:
"Oo dot any tandy?"
"No, dear," said Grace, gently, "but I'll get you some soon. Mollie will bring some, perhaps."
With this promise Paul was content, and Mrs. Carr left him with Grace.
Poor Grace! With all the whirl that her head was in, feeling as wretched as she did, one thought was uppermost in her mind-- the papers in the saddlebag. So much might happen to the valuable documents that were needed now-- this very instant, perhaps-- by her father. She almost wanted to go out in the storm and search for Prince.
"But perhaps he ran straight home to the stable," she reasoned. "In that case it will be all right, if only they think to go out and get them from the saddle, and take them to papa. Oh, if only Will were home from that ball game. What can I do? The telephone! They will be worried when they see Prince come home, cut, and will think I am badly hurt. I must let them know at once."
Mrs. Carr took her unexpected guest to the telephone, and Grace was soon talking to her mother.
"Don't worry, Momsey," she said. "Prince ran away with me-- an auto hit him-- now don't faint, I am all right. I'm at Mollie's Aunt Kittie's. Poor Dodo is hurt, I'll tell you about that later. But, listen. Go out to the stable-- I suppose Prince ran there: Get those papers from the saddle, and send them to papa at once. Grandma's papers. They are very important. What? Prince has not come home? Oh, what can have become of him? Those missing papers! Oh, telephone to papa at once! He must do something," and Grace let the receiver fall from her nerveless hand as she looked out into the storm. The rain, after a long dry spell, was coming down furiously.