Deidre Johnson presents the full text of the book "Betty Gordon at Bramble Farm," by American author Josephine Lawrence (1889-1978). Lawrence wrote the Betty Gordon series for children under the pseudonym Alice B. Emerson.
Ruth Fielding, a recently-orphaned girl, arrives in Cheslow, New York to live with her uncle, Jabez Potter, at the Red Mill with his housekeeper, Aunt Alvirah Boggs. Ruth is greatly disappointed in the cold reception she receives. Uncle Jabez seems to care very little about her, and all that he has to say is that she must earn her keep. Uncle Jabez grows even more difficult after his cash box disappears during a flood. Ruth becomes friends with Helen and Tom Cameron, who are the children of a wealthy merchant. Ruth also visits a lame girl, Mercy Curtis, at her home. Mercy is a very disagreeable girl who resents her disability and takes it out on everyone else. Ruth kindly endures Mercy's taunts, and even promises Mercy that she can someday come stay with her at the Red Mill. There stood the miller, upright and silent, plying the whip. In time, Ruth's cheery disposition softens Mercy's attitude, and she does visit the Red Mill. Soon, a doctor examines Mercy, and it is determined that she may have hope of recovery after an operation. Uncle Jabez's cash box is found, thanks to Ruth, and Uncle Jabez gradually softens towards Ruth.
Mr. Cameron has purchased a winter camp deep in the wilderness near Scarboro, New York. Helen and Tom have received permission to take Ruth and their other friends to Snow Camp for the latter part of their winter break. Before the friends depart, they cross paths with a strange, sullen boy named Fred Hatfield, who comes from Scarboro. Mr. Cameron has a suspicion that the boy is a runaway and decides to take him back to his family in Scarboro. The Cameron party departs for Snow Camp with Fred Hatfield as an unwilling passenger. On a brief stop near Scarboro, Fred jumps off the train, and Ruth impulsively follows. Fred steals a wagon which is parked in front of a store, and Ruth jumps on board. What follows is a harrowing adventure in which the two are nearly attacked by a panther and are later rescued by a crazy hermit. The sharp explosion and the shriek of the panther seemed simultaneous. The hermit takes the two young people to Snow Camp, but Fred disappears just before they arrive. As fate would have it, Ruth encounters Fred Hatfield several more times during their stay at Snow Camp. In the end, Fred is reunited with his family, and Ruth and her friends return from an enjoyable vacation.
Ruth, Helen, and Tom watch a moving picture company film scenes near the Red Mill. As they watch, the starring actress, Hazel Gray, falls into the river and is swept downstream. Ruth and her friends rescue Miss Gray and take her to the Red Mill to recover. The next day, Ruth meets the producer, Mr. Hammond, who promises to read Ruth's scenario when she impulsively confides that she is planning to write one. Soon after the friends return to school, the East Dormitory burns and is a complete loss. All of the girls housed in that building, including Ruth and her friends, lose all of their possessions. It is soon learned that Dr. Tellingham allowed the insurance to lapse, and there is no money to rebuild the dormitory. In the meantime, Ruth submits her scenario to Mr. Hammond and is thrilled when he accepts it. After her scenario is accepted, Ruth gets a wonderful idea about how she can help the school raise money to rebuild the dormitory. In the Italian garden scenes, the seniors and juniors were used. Ruth calls a meeting of all of the students and suggests her idea of writing a moving picture scenario that will be filmed on the campus. The proceeds from the film would go towards rebuilding the dormitory. In this way, all of the girls would contribute to the fund, since they would be the extras in the film. This idea is met with enthusiasm, and Ruth soon gains Mr. Hammond's approval.
The gray dust, spurting from beneath the treads of the rapidly turning wheels, drifted across the country road to settle on the wayside hedges. The purring of the engine of Helen Cameron's car betrayed the fact that it was tuned to perfection. If there were any rough spots in the road being traveled, the shock absorbers took care of them. "Dear me! I always do love to ride in Nell's car," said the plump and pretty girl who occupied more than her share of the rear seat. "Even if Tom isn't here to take care of it, it always is so comfy." "Only one thing would suit you better, Heavy," declared the sharp-featured and sharp-tongued girl sitting next to Jennie Stone. "If only a motor could be connected to a rocking-chair-" "Right-o!" agreed the cheerful plump girl. "And have it on a nice shady porch. I'd like to travel that way just as well. After our experience in France we ought to be allowed to travel in comfort for the rest of our lives. Isn't that so, Nell? And you agree, Ruthie?" The girl at the wheel of the flying automobile nodded only, for she needed to keep her gaze fixed ahead. But the brown-haired, brown-eyed girl, whose quiet face seemed rather wistful, turned to smile upon the volatile-and voluble-Heavy Stone, so nicknamed during their early school days at Briarwood Hall.
Helen and Tom Cameron plan an automobile trip upstream with Ruth Fielding. Soon after the friends depart, they seek shelter from a storm in an old farmhouse and are frightened by a couple of rough-looking gypsies. Ruth hears the men discussing a wealthy old woman, a valuable necklace, and how they will no longer take risks for her. Ruth wonders what it all means. Later, the chums continue on their way, but Tom's car breaks down. He goes for help, leaving Ruth and Helen alone. Some gypsies offer to help Ruth and Helen, but Ruth is suspicious. Helen insists that they accept the gypsies' help and leaves a note for Tom. Unknown to the two girls, the gypsies remove the note, leaving no clue as to where the girls went. Soon after the girls join the gypsy caravan, they realize that they are in danger. The gypsies intend to keep them captive and demand ransom from their families. He pushed Ruth roughly back into her seat. While captive, Ruth sees the valuable necklace which is in possession of the queen of the gypsies. Later, Helen and Ruth escape from the gypsies and return to Briarwood Hall. Upon their arrival at the school, Ruth learns that a five-thousand dollar reward has been offered for the recovery of a valuable necklace that was stolen from the aunt of a new student. Ruth sorely wants to become independent of her Uncle Jabez, whose allowance is offered so grudgingly. Ruth's thoughts center upon the necklace and her desire to locate it and claim the reward.
Betty Gordon and her friends enjoy Christmas vacation with the Littell family in Washington. While Betty is shopping one day, she meets a girl named Ida Bellethorne, who works in a store. Betty immediately likes the girl, who seems to be unhappy. Betty loses a locket while in the store, and Ida gives it to the owner of the store. When Betty goes to the store again to ask about the locket, the store owner pretends that nothing was found and tells Betty that Ida Bellethorne has gone away. Much troubled, Betty wonders whether Ida could have found her locket and kept it for herself. The time comes for Betty and her friends to return to school—but everyone at Shadyside has the measles! School is postponed for two weeks, and the young people travel with Uncle Dick to Mountain Camp. Although Betty enjoys the vacation, she continues to worry about her locket and Ida Bellethorne. The whole party turned out gaily. Betty unexpectedly encounters Ida Bellethorne at Mountain Camp, and the mystery of the locket is solved. Betty and her friends help Ida Bellethorne become reunited with her aunt just before they return to school.
Betty Gordon continues her stay at Bramble Farm, awaiting word from her uncle. Betty's friend, Bob Henderson, one day learns that a bookstore owner from Washington has looked over his records from the poorhouse. The man has information about Bob's mother, and Bob decides to leave for Washington after Mr. Peabody cruelly beats him. Shortly after Bob departs, Mr. Peabody accuses Bob of stealing an unrecorded deed. Betty leaves for Washington after she receives a letter from her uncle. Upon her arrival, three girls are waiting for her at the station and take her to their home, where Betty expects to find Uncle Dick. Betty is shocked to discover that there has been a bad mix-up, and the girls have mistaken her for someone else. The Littell family graciously accepts Betty as their houseguest and makes her feel welcome. However, Betty continues to worry about her uncle. She discovers that he is no longer in Washington and has journeyed to Oklahoma. "You're not Uncle Dick!" she gasped accusingly. Betty worries when her telegram to Uncle Dick goes unanswered. The Littells show her around Washington, and Betty runs into Bob, who has learned that his mother had a share in an oil well in Oklahoma. After Betty and Bob endure one last unpleasant encounter with Mr. Peabody, Betty receives word from Uncle Dick, urging her to come to Oklahoma.
Ruth and Helen eagerly await the arrival of Jane Ann Hicks, who is to attend Briarwood Hall this year. The girls experience a great deal of worry when they learn that Jane's train has been wrecked. Jane is fine, but a boy named Jerry Sheming has been hurt. Jerry is taken to the Red Mill where Aunt Alvirah and Ruth care for him. Jerry reveals that he used to live on Cliff Island, but his uncle was cheated out of his land. His uncle lost his treasure box in a landslide, and with it, the papers needed to prove his claim to the island. Uncle Pete lost his mind and entered an insane asylum, and Jerry was forced to leave. Jerry hopes to someday find the treasure box and prove his uncle's claim. Ruth and her friends leave for Briarwood Hall, and Jerry stays behind at the Red Mill. The girls do their best to make Jane Ann fit in and try to keep her from being hazed as a new girl. Unfortunately, Jane Ann has much trouble fitting in with the other girls until she uses her lassoing technique in a rescue. Things gradually get better for Jane. She shot over the yawning edge of the chasm and disappeared. After a time, the girls are invited to Cliff Island for Christmas by Belle Tingley, whose father has purchased the island. Ruth is certain that Mr. Tingley did nothing to cheat Jerry's Uncle Pete, but the man who sold him the island must have cheated Jerry's uncle. Ruth sends word to Jerry to travel to the island and arranges for Mr. Tingley to give him a job. Later, Jerry is ordered arrested by the real estate man and is forced to hide in a cave. Ruth and her friends search the island for some sign of Uncle Pete's treasure chest. In time, the truth is discovered, Jerry is reunited with his uncle, and Ruth and her friends return home after a happy vacation.
Ruth continues her work for the Red Cross and is soon transferred to a hospital that is on the war front. Ruth faces the very real danger of possible death but soon has a greater concern. Ruth asks a friend whether there is any news of Tom Cameron and learns that he has disappeared in Germany—and is suspected of working for the Germans! Ruth is shaken but certain that Tom would never betray his country. Ruth becomes acquainted with the Countess Marchand and her son, Major Marchand. Ruth trusts the Countess completely, but is suspicious that her son might be working for the Germans. One day, Ruth is walking along a road when a strange note is dropped from a plane. The note states, "Don't believe everything you hear." It is written in Tom Cameron's handwriting. Ruth realizes that Tom must be in on some secret mission in German territory. "Halt!" was the sudden command. Ruth soon has an unexpected ally who has information about Tom. The two concoct a daring plan which requires Ruth to travel into enemy territory in disguise so that Tom can be rescued. Ruth willingly agrees to the plan, but will she make it out alive?
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