Sally Scott of the WAVESRoy J. Snell / Young Adult
Produced by Roger Frank and Sue Clark
Sally Scott of the WAVES
Story by ROY J. SNELL
Illustrated by HEDWIG JO MEIXNER
WHITMAN PUBLISHING COMPANY RACINE, WISCONSIN
Copyright, 1943, by WHITMAN PUBLISHING COMPANY
Printed in U.S.A.
All names, characters, places, and events in this story are entirely fictitious.
I Up the Ladder II The Radio from the Sky III A Message in Code IV Danny Duke Makes a Catch V Danny Shares a Secret VI Through a Hole in the Sky VII Silent Storm VIII Danger is My Duty IX Sally Steps Out X Sally Saves a Life XI Secret Meeting XII They Fly at Dawn XIII Among the Missing XIV The Captain's Dinner XV Danny's Busy Day XVI The Dark Siren XVII Little Shepherdess of the Big Ships XVIII The Secret Radio Wins Again XIX Oh, Danny Boy! XX A Gleam from the Sea XXI Dreams
Sally Placed the Black Box on the Study Table Ensign Mills Interviewed Sally You Mean I'll Have to Drop From the Sky? She Stepped Out on the Roof and Clung to the Gable Barbara's Head Came Out From Beneath the Covers Barbara Was Staring Gloomily at the Floor Good Old Chute! Sally Murmured Danny! What Are You Doing Here? They Swung Out Over the Sea Again It Could Be a Flight of Our Bombers. Riggs, I'm Convinced! the Captain Declared I Thought You Might Need Me, She Said Danny Watched the Last Little Traveler Pass Sally Stood Looking at the Endless Black Waters A Sailor Helped Sally to Her Feet Sally Saw Two Sailors Carry Riggs Out They Watched Breathlessly as the Bomb Struck See, I Have a Present for You, Said Sally She Hit the Water Near Danny's Raft
Sally Placed the Black Box on the Study Table]
SALLY SCOTT OF THE WAVES
UP THE LADDER
It was mid-afternoon of a cloudy day in early autumn. Sally Scott glidedto the one wide window in her room and pulled down the shade. Then, withmovements that somehow suggested deep secrecy, she took an oblong, blackbox, not unlike an overnight bag, from the closet. After placing thiswith some care on her study table, she pressed a button, and caught thebroad side of the box, that, falling away, revealed a neat row ofbuttons and switches. Above these was an inch-wide opening where anumber of spots shone dimly.
After a glance over her shoulder, Sally shook her head, tossing herreddish-brown hair about, fixed her eyes on this strange box and thenwith her long, slender, nervous fingers threw on a switch, another, andyet another in quick succession. Settling back in her chair, she watchedthe spots above the switches turn into tiny, gleaming, red lamps thatgave off an eerie light.
Red for blood, black for death, someone had said to her. She shudderedat the thought.
From the box came a low, humming sound. She turned a switch. The humincreased. She turned it again and once more the hum rose in intensity.This time, however, it was different. Suddenly the hum was broken by alow, indistinct hut--hut--gr--gr--gr--hut--hut--hut.
Oh! The girl's lips parted as a look of surprise and almost of triumphspread over her face.
And then, suddenly, she started to leap from her chair. A key hadrattled in the door.
Before she could decide what she should do, the door swung open andsomeone snapped on a light.
And then a voice said, Oh! I'm sorry! I've been in the bright sunlight.The room seemed completely dark.
It really doesn't matter, Sally spoke slowly, studying the othergirl's face as she did so. The girl was large and tall. Her hair was jetblack. She had a round face and dark, friendly eyes. This much Sallylearned at a glance. It doesn't matter, she repeated. I suppose weare to be roommates.
It looks that way, the other girl agreed. I just arrived. She sether bag on the floor.
I see. Sally was still thinking her way along. Then I suppose youdon't know that we are not allowed to have radios in our rooms.
But you see, I have one, Sally went on. I suppose I could be senthome for keeping it, but I'm going to chance it. I--I've just got to.It--it's terribly important that I keep it. It--well, you can see it'snot like other radios. It's got--
Red eyes, the other girl said in a low voice.
Yes, but that's not all. You couldn't listen to a program on it if youtried. It--it's very different. There are only two others like it in allthe world.
I see, said the new girl.
No, you don't, see at all, Sally declared. You couldn't possibly. Theonly question right now is: will you share my secret? Can I count onyou?
Yes, the black-haired girl replied simply. And she meant just that.Sally was sure of it.
Thanks, heaps. Her eyes shone. You won't be sorry. Whatever mayhappen you'll not be dragged into it.
And, she added after a pause, there's nothing really wrong about it,I'm a loyal American citizen, too loyal perhaps, but you see, my fatherwas in the World War, Grandfather at Manila Bay, and all that.
My father died in France, the large, dark-eyed girl said simply. Iwas too young to recall him.
That was really tough. I've had a lot of fun with my dad.
But excuse me. Once again Sally's fingers gripped a knob and themysterious radio set up a new sort of hum. With a headset clamped overher ears, she listened intently, then said in a low tone:
Hello. Nancy! Are you there?
Again she listened, then laughed low.
I'm sorry, Nancy, she apologized, speaking through a small mouthpiece.Something terribly exciting happened. I got something on the shortestwave-length, where nothing's supposed to be.
Yes, I did! she exclaimed. Then: No! It can't be! Fifteen minutes.Oh, boy! I'll have to step on it. I--I'll be right down. Meet you at thefoot of the ladder.
What ladder? the big girl asked in surprise.
The one from first floor to second, of course. We don't have stairwaysin this place, you know, only ladders. Sally laughed low.
After turning off the switches, Sally snapped the black box shut, thenhid it in a dark corner of the closet.
But I just came up a stairway, the new girl insisted.
Oh, no you didn't! Sally laughed. It was a ladder!
You're new here so you'll have to work that one out. I'm sure you'llfind I'm right. Sally was hastily putting on hat, coat, and gloves.I've got to skip. Have my personal interview in fifteen minutes. That'swhere they try to find out what we're good for. What's your specialty?Oh, yes, and what's your name?
I'm Barbara Brown. And I'm scared to death for fear they'll send mehome. I haven't done a thing but sew, and work in a laundry, and cook alittle.
They'll find a place for you. Just tell them your life story. Don't beafraid. You'll win.
Sally was out of the room and down the ladder before Barbara couldhave counted ten.
At the foot of the ladder she met Nancy McBride, a girl she had knownwell in the half-forgotten days of high-school basketball.
It's perfectly terrible starting out in a new place with a deepsecret, Sally said in a low tone as they hurried away toward theU.S.S. Mary Sacks where interviews for all recent recruits wereconducted.
Yes, it is, Nancy agreed soberly. A trifle wacky if you'd ask me.
But it's so very important, Sally insisted.
More important than making good with the WAVES? Nancy asked soberly.For my part I can't think of a thing in the world that could be half asimportant as that. That's just how I feel about it.
Yes, that's right. Oh! If I were thrown out of the WAVES I'd just wantto die. Sally's face took on a tragic look. And yet--
And yet, what?
Well, you just don't know old C. K. Kennedy, that's all. I've beenworking with him since I was fifteen and now I'm twenty-one.
Working at radio? What did you know about radio when you were fifteen?
That's just it. I didn't know a thing. You see, a radio came droppingright out of the sky and--
Out of the sky? Nancy stared.
Yes, right into the middle of a meadow where I was looking for ameadowlark's nest.
Say! Why don't you talk sense? You can't expect people--
Shush, Sally whispered. Here's the gangplank of the 'U.S.S. MarySacks.' We'll have to get right in. Don't betray me. I'll explain it alllater.
As they entered, a girl in the nobby blue uniform of a WAVE said:
Take the ladder to Deck Two. Turn to the right and there you are.
Yes, Sally said to Nancy, with a sharp intake of breath, there weare. Right in the midst of things. Some sharp-eyed examiner will probeour minds to find out how much we know, how keen we are, what ourmotives for joining up were, and--
And then she'll start deciding what we can do best, Nancy broke in.
And if she decides I'll make a good secretary to an Admiral, Sallysighed, I'll wish I hadn't come. Well-- She took a long breath. Herewe go up Fortune's ladder. Wish you luck.
Same to you. Then up they went.
* * * * *
In the meantime the big girl, Barbara, opened her bag, shook out herclothes, packed some away in a drawer, hung others up, then dropped intoa chair for a few long, long thoughts. The truth was at that moment shewished she hadn't come.
She thought of the steam laundry where she had worked for three years.All the girls laughing and talking, the fine clean smell of sheets asthey ran through the mangle, the rattle and clank of machines and theslap of flat-irons--it all came to her with a rush.
It's all so strange here-- she whispered. Go down the ladder, that'swhat she said. What ladder, I wonder?
Then she jumped up. She would have to get out of here, begin to facethings. What things? Just any things. If you faced them, they lost theirterror. They stepped to one side and let you by.
After putting on her hat and coat, she opened the door to stand therefor a moment. Truth was, she was looking for the ladder.
Hi, there! came in a cheery voice as a girl in a natty blue suit andjaunty hat rounded a corner in the hall. You're one of the new ones,aren't you? Close the hatch and let's get down the ladder for a coke atthe USO.
The ha-hatch? Barbara faltered. What's a hatch and where's theladder?
Right down--oh! the girl in blue broke off. I forgot. Of course youwouldn't know. You see, we are WAVES, you and I--
So this place we live in is a ship, at least we say it is. This is notthe second floor but the second deck. The door is a hatch, the wallsbulkheads and, of course, the stairway is a ladder.
Oh! Barbara beamed. That's the way it is!
* * * * *
Of course Sally and Nancy had not boarded a ship for their interview.The U.S.S. Mary Sacks was a two story building turned over by thecollege to the WAVES. And it was up a stairs, not a real ladder, thatthe two girls climbed. It was all a part of the program that was to turngirls from all walks of life into sailors.
Your name is Sally Scott? said a girl in a WAVES uniform.
That's right, said Sally.
Come into my parlor, the girl said, smiling, broadly and indicating asmall booth furnished with two chairs and a narrow table.
'Said the spider to the fly.' Sally returned the smile as she finishedthe quotation..
Oh! It's not nearly as bad as that, said the blonde examiner. The flydid not escape. You will, I am sure.
Six months after the war is over. Sally did not smile.
Yes, that sounds a bit serious, doesn't it?
It certainly does, Sally agreed.
It's nice to have a sense of humor and also a serious side, said theexaminer. We like them that way. You should get on well.
Thanks. I'm glad you think so.
My name is Marjory Mills. I won't keep you long, at least not longerthan you wish to stay. Ensign Mills motioned Sally to a chair.
By the way, she said as she dropped into the opposite chair, why didyou want to join the WAVES?
It's our war. We're all in it. I hate the way the people of France,Belgium, and all the rest are treated. They're slaves. They've got to befreed.
Yes, of course.
I've three cousins in the war. We were great pals. All the boys of ourcrowd are gone, and some of the girls.
Lonesome? Is that it?
No, not entirely. I want them to come back, never wanted anything quiteso much. They can't come back until we've done all we can to help them.
That's true, Ensign Mills spoke quietly. You're sure that it wasn'tromance, love of excitement, the desire to go places and see things thatbrought you here?
Sally looked into the other girl's eyes, then said:
Yes, of course it was, in part. No one motive ever draws us into makinga great decision, at least not often. Of course I dream of romance,adventure, and travel. Who doesn't?
We all do, Marjory Mills agreed frankly. The only thing is, thosecan't be our main motives. If they were we should meet disappointmentand perhaps miserably fail. 'Blood, sweat, and tears.' That is what wehave ahead of us.
Yes, Sally replied soberly. I know. My father has told me. He was inFrance for more than a year.
In the last war? Yes, then you would know. We like to have daughters ofveterans. Some of them are among our best. And now, Marjory Mills'svoice was brisk again. What do you think you'd like to do? Or, first,would you like to tell me your story?
I'd love to. How much time have I? Sally looked at her watch.
As much as you like. Ensign Mills settled back in her chair. Shoot!