Now that the weather is warmer, Samantha and Grandmary head to the summer home on a lake at Piney Point. Agnes, Agatha, Cornelia, Gard, and Grandmary's friend Admiral Archibald Beemis are all coming to visit. Admiral Beemis was Samantha's grandfather's best friend, and has continued his yearly visits even after her grandfather died. Rumor has it that every year, he asks Grandmary to marry him.
Samantha has fun showing Agnes and Agatha around the area, except when the twins suggest taking the boat out to Teardrop Island. It happens to be the place that Samantha's parents drowned during a storm when Samantha was five. The twins understand and drop the idea immediately, and the girls are able to go back to having fun soon after. One rainy day as they explore the attic, they find Samantha's mother's sketchbook, full of beautiful pencil drawings and watercolor paintings of Samantha and her parents at Teardrop Island. Seeing it as a place of beauty rather than one of sorrow and destruction makes Samantha want to visit it.
The next day the girls set out on their adventure. The island turns out to be just as beautiful as the sketchbook suggested, and they spend most of the day finding the places pictured in it. Then they notice some clouds coming in, and head back for their canoe. But it's gone! They each thought one of the other girls tied it, and after searching for a long time, can't find it. And no one knows where they are. The rain starts pounding as they desperately try to come up with a plan. They hear something rustling through the woods and worry that a bear or wolf is tracking them. Samantha bravely stands between the unknown thing and the twins, brandishing a stick, but it turns out to be Admiral Beemis. He had come to rescue them, but lost his footing on the wet rocks and hit his head. Just after finding the girls, he looses consciousness.
The girls are able to rouse him enough to get him down to his boat, where they lay him down. As the storm worsens, they row for Piney Point, knowing that while they might drown in the storm, Admiral Beemis will almost certainly not regain consciousness if he doesn't get to a doctor soon. Samantha guides the twins through the rocky waters, trying not to think about the night her parents died. They gut it out, and make it back in one piece. A doctor is on hand to see to Admiral Beemis's cut (no antibiotics then!) and probable concussion, but assures Samantha, Agnes, and Agatha that he will be fine. Samantha explains to Grandmary--who had also been nearly paralyzed with fear at the thought of her granddaughter meeting the same fate as her daughter and son-in-law--why she wanted to visit Teardrop Island. Grandmary and Uncle Gard look at the sketchbook, for the first time since the accident. They all agree to return to visit the island when the weather is better and everyone is well.
In the early 1900s, wealthy families would spend their summers at private resorts. They often liked to pretend they were "roughing it" like the pioneers. But unlike pioneers, they were still prim and proper, and any hunting was for sport rather than food. Most people didn't understand how to explore nature without destroying it, and the damage was noticed almost too late. People began working to preserve the natural beauty of the land, like John Muir when he founded the Sierra Club and Teddy Roosevelt when he established the National Parks system. Other conservationists had more specific causes: Sarah and James Philip saved the American bison from the brink of extinction. While there are still lasting effects of the recklessness, there are also many natural places being preserved and enjoyed.
The book is dedicated to Charlotte Katherine Campbell and Patrick Granger Campbell.
The twins are always pictured in identical outfits.
ALWAYS tell someone your plans when you go adventuring: where you're going and how long you expect to be gone. At the very least, the girls should have left a note.
Grandmary seems to be softening a bit as the books go on. She's more understanding than she was in Meet Samantha.
The large bovines that live on the North American plains aren't technically buffalo. They're bison. Buffaloes are the creatures in Africa. By the way, authentic mozzarella cheese is made from water buffalo milk. You can buy some from this small family-run dairy farm near me: http://www.rivervalleycheese.com/ (accepts online orders).