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The Ocean Wireless Boys on the Atlantic

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Then, shoving the men aside, he dived from the edge ofthe dock.—_Page 8._]


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THE OCEAN WIRELESS BOYS ON THE ATLANTIC


BY CAPTAIN WILBUR LAWTON AUTHOR OF “THE BOY AVIATORS’ SERIES,” “THE DREADNOUGHT BOYS’ SERIES,” ETC., ETC.


_ILLUSTRATED BY CHARLES L. WRENN_


NEW YORK HURST & COMPANY PUBLISHERS


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Copyright, 1914, BY HURST & COMPANY


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CONTENTS


CHAPTER PAGE


I. LOOKING FOR A JOB 5 II. JACK’S HOME 13 III. CAPTAIN TOBY READY—DOCTOR-AT-LARGE 19 IV. THE REJECTED REWARD 27 V. THE WIRELESS BOY’S FIRST POSITION 38 VI. LEARNING THE ROPES 47 VII. IN THE TEETH OF THE STORM 55 VIII. SIGHTING THE WRECK 62 IX. A TALK ON WIRELESS 70 X. OIL ON TROUBLED WATERS 77 XI. TO THE RESCUE 87 XII. JACK DISOBEYS ORDERS 95 XIII. OLD ANTWERP 106 XIV. SIGHT-SEEING 115 XV. AN ADVENTURE— 123 XVI. AND ITS CONSEQUENCES 130 XVII. RAYNOR’S UNLUCKY POCKET 137 XVIII. IN DURANCE VILE 143 XIX. THE FIELD OF WATERLOO 155 XX. HOMEWARD BOUND 164 XXI. SURGERY BY WIRELESS 172 XXII. “YOU SAVED MY ARM” 178 XXIII. A RIOT ON THE DOCKS 184 XXIV. A CALL FOR THE POLICE 192 XXV. IN THE NICK OF TIME 198 XXVI. A FRIENDLY WARNING 204 XXVII. AN UNEXPECTED MEETING 210 XXVIII. IN THE HOSPITAL 216 XXIX. JACK HAS VISITORS 224 XXX. THE REJECTED OFFER 230 XXXI. A WHISPER OF DANGER 237 XXXII. ICEBERGS! 244 XXXIII. THE COLLISION 250 XXXIV. QUELLING THE MUTINY 258 XXXV. A CALL FOR HELP 266 XXXVI. LOOKING FOR THE BURNING YACHT 272 XXXVII. THE MATE’S YARN 278 XXXVIII. IN SIGHT OF SMOKE 285 XXXIX. ADRIFT ON A LIFE RAFT 291 XL. THE RESCUE OF MR. JUKES 297 XLI. A JOYOUS REUNION 303


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The Ocean Wireless Boys on the Atlantic





CHAPTER I.


LOOKING FOR A JOB.


Jack Ready was making his way home. He was a tall, well-set-up lad ofsixteen, and when in a good mood was a wholesome, cheerful-lookingyoungster.


But now, as he trudged along the rough, deeply rutted road that skirtedthe crowded wharves and slips of the Erie Basin, his attitude towardlife was anything but amiable.


“It just seems as if I get turned down everywhere,” he muttered tohimself as he turned aside to avoid a big automobile truck that wasrumbling away from a squat, ugly-looking tank steamer lying at a docknot far off. “Too young, they all say. If only I could get a chance at awireless key, I’d show them, but—Oh! what’s the use! It’s me for a shoreberth till I’m old enough to try again, I guess. Hullo, what’s thematter over there?”


His attention had been caught by a sudden stir on the dock alongside thehome-looking “tank.” She was a type of oil carrier familiar to the boy,as many vessels of a similar sort docked in the Erie Basin, New York’sbiggest laying-up place for freight ships. This particular craft wasblack and powerful looking, with two pole masts bristling with derricks,and a tall funnel right astern painted black, with a red top.


But it was not the appearance of the steamer that interested the boy. Itwas a sudden rush and stir on the wharf alongside that had arrested hissteps.


He could see the men, who had been engaged in various tasks about thevessel, running about and shouting and pointing down at the waterbetween the ship’s side and the pier.


Evidently something very out of the ordinary was occurring. Glad of anyopportunity to divert his thoughts from his fruitless search foremployment as a wireless operator, Jack ran toward the scene of theexcitement.


As he came closer he could distinguish some of the shouts.


“Throw her a rope, somebody!”


“She’s still down there!”


“No, she isn’t!”


These and a dozen other agitated cries and contradictions were flyingabout from mouth to mouth, and on the faces of the speakers there werelooks of the greatest agitation.


“What is it? What’s the matter?” demanded Jack, running to the edge ofthe dock where the crowd of ’longshoremen and deck hands and sailorswere clustered.


“It’s Mrs. Jukes’ little girl. She—she’s fallen overboard!” cried a man.


“She’s down there in the water,” explained another one. “She wasclinging to a pile a minute ago. We’re trying to get a rope to her.”


“What! There’s a child down there and nobody’s gone after her?” criedJack indignantly.


As he spoke he stripped off his coat and removed his boots almost withone operation. Then, shoving the men aside, he dived from the edge ofthe dock into the strip of dark, dirty water that lay between the shipand the wharf.


Clinging frantically to one of the piles supporting the dock was alittle girl with a wealth of fair hair and a pretty, flower-like face.Too terrified even to scream, she was holding to the rough woodwork withall her little strength, but the expression of her face showed plainlythat the struggle could not last much longer. In fact, as Jack, with afew strong, swift strokes, reached her side her grip relaxed altogether,and she slipped back into the oil-streaked water just in time for hisstrong arms to seize and hold her.


It was all over so quickly that hardly a moment seemed to have elapsedfrom the instant that the lad sprang from the stringpiece of the dock tothe time when the cheering crowd above beheld him clinging to the roughsurface of the pile with one hand, while with the other he supported thechild, who had fainted and lay white-faced and weak in his grasp.


“Throw me a rope, some of you,” cried the boy, and in a jiffy a stoutrope, with a loop in it, came shaking down to him.


He gently placed the loop under the child’s arm-pits, and when this wasdone, and it was not accomplished without difficulty, he signaled to theonlookers above to hoist up the unconscious little form. They hauledwith a will, and in almost as brief a time as it takes to tell itMarjorie Jukes, daughter of the owner of the Titan Line of tanksteamers, was on the dock once more with a doctor, hastily summoned fromanother vessel, attending to her.


Jack’s turn at the rope came then, and by dint of scrambling on his partand stout pulling from a dozen brawny arms above he, too, was presentlyonce more in safety. Just as he reached the dock, dripping wet from hisimmersion, he heard the doctor asking how the child had come to gooverboard.


“Her dad, he’s Jacob Jukes, the big ship-owner, was ashore there in thewarehouses with the captain, fixing up an invoice,” Jack heard one ofthe sailors explaining. “Little Miss here was playing on the dock,waiting till her dad came back.


“All at once, afore any of us knowed a thing, there she was overboard.We all lost our heads, I guess. Anyhow, if it hadn’t been for a lad thatsuddenly bobbed up from no place in particular she might havedrown-ded.”


“Here’s her dad coming now!” cried another.


Someone had found the ship-owner, and, hatless and white-faced, he wasracing down to the dock from the gloomy red brick pile of warehousesashore.


“She’s all right, sir!” shouted one of the sailors. “See, she’s openin’her eyes, sir!”


“Thank God!” breathed her father reverently. “I should never have lefther. Get my automobile, somebody. I must rush her home at once.”


In a few minutes a big limousine came purring down the dock from therear yard of the storehouses. In the meantime Mr. Jukes, a handsome,florid-faced man of about fifty years of age, with a somewhatoverbearing manner, as perhaps became his importance and wealth, hadbeen informed of Jack’s brave rescue while he stood with his littledaughter bundled up tenderly in his arms, the water from her wetclothing streaming, unregarded by him, down his broadcloth coat.


“Where is he? Where is that boy?” he demanded. “I want to see him. Imust reward him handsomely.”


But Jack had vanished.


“He must be found. Does nobody know his name?” asked Mr. Jukes as if hewere issuing an order. “I want to see him at once. Who is he? Does helive hereabouts?”


But nobody appeared to know. As for Jack, being satisfied that the childwas out of all danger, and having no desire to pose as a hero, he hadslipped off home at the earliest opportunity, shivering slightly in hiswet clothing, for it was late fall and a chilly wind swept about thecrowded docks and ship-filled slips.


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CHAPTER II.


JACK’S HOME.


It was an odd home for which Jack was bound. Tucked away in a quietcorner of the bustling Basin was a sort of ocean graveyard. Here oldships that had outlived their usefulness lay in peace until they weresold to be broken up or to be converted into barges or to meet some suchend. Tall-sparred clippers that had once proudly swept the seven seas,rusty old tramp steamers, looking like the wrecks of marine hoboes thatthey were, and venerable ferryboats, all rubbed sides in this salt watercemetery.


In the farthest part of this quiet corner of the Basin lay a derelicttwo-masted schooner of an entirely different type from the other craft.To begin with, she was much smaller, and then again, instead ofdisplaying rusty iron sides, or gaping, bleached wooden ones, she wasgayly painted, with red and green hull and bulwarks. Her deck-houseastern was a veritable marine garden, and bright-colored blossoms of allkinds, even though the season was late, bloomed from numerous boxesplaced on the roof and about the taffrail.


A plank connected this queer-looking craft with the shore, and a columnof smoke ascending from a pipe stuck through the cabin roof, as well asthe curtained windows and general look of neatness, showed that someonemade a home on this retired wanderer of the seas. It bore the name“Venus” on either side of a dilapidated figurehead, doubtless intendedto represent the goddess of love. The effigy’s one remaining eye sadlysurveyed the deep-sea vagabonds about her.


If the above evidences that the old schooner was used as a habitationhad been lacking, there still would have remained proof that CaptainToby Ready made his home there, for, nailed to one side of the floweringcabin-house, was a large sign. On it in sprawling characters of white ona black background was the following inscription:


CAPTAIN TOBY READY


HERB DOCTOR AND COMMON-SENSE MEDICO-AT-LARGE TO THE SEA-GOING PROFESSION


All sailors who want to be strong and be steady, Call ’round to see Capt’n Toby Ready. Although the Captain is no M.D., He’ll fit you out quite _Ready_ for sea.


Here it was that Jack had made his home since the death of his father,Captain Amos Ready, at sea some years before. His Uncle Toby was thusleft his sole surviving relative, for his mother had died soon afterJack’s birth. So Jack had lived with his eccentric relative on the oldschooner, bought by Captain Toby many years before as a Snug Harbor.


The boy had helped his uncle compound his liniments and medicines, whichhad a ready sale among the old-time ship captains. They had more faithin Uncle Toby’s remedies than in a whole shipload of doctors. CaptainToby had, in his day, commanded fast clippers and other sailing vessels.On long voyages he had amused himself by studying pharmacy till hebelieved himself the equal of the entire college of surgeons. At anyrate, if his medicines did no good, at least they never did any harm,and Jack was kept busy delivering orders for Captain Toby’s compounds tovarious vessels.


With such a line of sea-going ancestry, it was natural that the boyshould have a hankering for the sea. But, together with his love of aseafaring life, Jack had developed another passion, and this was forwireless telegraphy.


Slung between the two bare masts of the old schooner was the antennæ ofa wireless apparatus, and down below, in his own sanctum in theschooner’s cabin, Jack had a set of instruments. It was a crude enoughstation, which is hardly to be wondered at, considering that the boy hadconstructed most of the apparatus himself.


But Jack had a natural leaning for this sort of work, and his home-madestation gave satisfactory results, although he could not catch messagesfor more than fifty miles or so. This, however, had not prevented himfrom becoming an adept at the key, and his one great ambition was to geta berth on one of the liners as a wireless operator.


So far, however, he had met with nothing but rebuffs. Wireless menappeared to be as common as blackberries.


“Come back when you’re older. We can’t use kids,” the head of a bigwireless concern had told him. And that was the substance of most of thereplies to his applications for a job at the work he loved.


That day he had tramped on foot to Manhattan and made his weary roundonce more, with the same result. Footsore and thoroughly discouraged, hehad trudged back over Brooklyn Bridge and across town to the region ofthe Basin, where the air bristled with masts and derricks, and queer,foreign, spicy smells issued from the doors of warehouses. He walked,for the excellent reason that he was young and strong, and every nickelsaved meant a better chance to improve the equipment of his station onthe old _Venus_.


He cheered up a bit as he came in sight of his floating home. He hadgrown to like his odd way of life, and he had a sincere affection forhis eccentric old uncle. Determined not to let the old man see hisdisappointment, he struck up “Nancy Lee,” whistling it bravely as hecrossed the rickety gangplank, walked over the scrupulously scrubbeddeck and dived down the companionway into one of the strangest homesthat any boy in all New York ever inhabited.


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CHAPTER III.


CAPTAIN TOBY READY—DOCTOR-AT-LARGE.


As Jack entered the cabin he was greeted by a succession of shrillshrieks and whoops.


“Ahoy, my hearty! Never say die! Don’t give up the ship! Kra-a-a-a!”


“That is good advice, Methusaleh,” laughed the boy, addressing himselfto a disreputable-looking parrot that stood balancing itself on a perchin a cage that hung in one corner of this queer abode.


The ports which the cabin had originally boasted had been enlarged andformed into windows, through which the light streamed cheerfully. Redcotton curtains hung at these casements and gave a dash of color to thedark wooden walls of the place. In the center was a swinging table andsome rickety chairs; at one end was a sea-stove, a relic of theschooner’s sea-going days, and at the opposite end of the cabin, at thestern portion of it, was a bulkhead and a door.


From beyond this door came the clinking of glasses and the sound ofpounding. It was Captain Toby hard at work in his sanctum compoundinghis medicines. Jack turned into another door alongside the stove, on theother side of which there was a similar portal.


These doors led into the cabins respectively of Jack and his uncle.Jack’s cabin was a neat little combination workshop and sleeping place.


On a shelf opposite his bunk was his wireless set, with the wiresleading down to it from the aerials above. Another shelf held his stockof books, mostly of a scientific character, dealing with his favoritepursuit. The rest of the space in the not very large cabin was occupiedby a work bench, cluttered with tools and stray bits of apparatus.


Jack had no wish to worry his uncle with an account of the happenings ofthe afternoon, so, before seeking him, he slipped out of his wet clothesand donned the overalls in which he usually worked. There was anotherreason for this, too, for the suit in which he had dived to the rescueof little Marjorie Jukes was the only one he boasted.
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