While on the way to a winter break vacation at Snow Camp, Ruth, Helen, and Tom cross paths with a strangely sullen boy named Fred Hatfield. The chum's chaperone, Mr. Cameron, suspects the boy of being a runaway, and decides to take him back to his family in the town near Snow Camp. When the runaway jumps from their train on the way North, Ruth follows -- and what follows is a harrowing adventure with a panther, a crazy hermit, and a trip through the chilling climate of New York state!
>And the answer to that question was not so easily found--as Tom had observed. They could not roll the stump over; they had no means of cutting through to the prisoner. But, suddenly, that individual settled the question without their help. There was a struggle under the log, a splashing of the water, and then a figure bobbed up out of the shallows.
Ruth screamed and seized it before it fell back again. It was a boy-- a thin, miserable-looking, dripping youth, no older than Tom, and with wild, burning eyes looking out of his wet and pallid face. Had it not been for Ruth and Tom he must have fallen back into the stream again, he was so weak.
They dragged him ashore, and he fell down, shaking and chattering, on the edge of the creek. He was none too warmly dressed at the best; the water now fast congealed upon his clothing. His garments would soon be as stiff as boards.
"We've got to get him to the Mill, girls," declared Tom. "Come! get up!" he cried to the stranger. "You must get warmed an