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Motor Boat Boys' River Chase; or, Six Chums Afloat and Ashore,
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THERE CAME A SHARP REPORT AND A FLASH OF FLAME]
MOTOR BOAT BOYS' RIVER CHASE
_Six Chums Afloat and Ashore_
_By_ LOUIS ARUNDEL
Chicago M. A. DONOHUE & COMPANY
Copyright 1914 by M. A. DONOHUE & CO. CHICAGO
Made in U. S. A.
CHAPTER PAGE I. READY FOR THE START 7 II. THE CRUISE BEGUN 21 III. BUSTER CAPTURES A FISH 33 IV. A MYSTERY LOOMS UP 43 V. THE FIRST CAMP FIRE OF THE TRIP 57 VI. A STARTLING INTERRUPTION 69 VII. THE TREASURE CACHE 81 VIII. JACK PLAYS SCOUT 91 IX. OPENING THE STRANGE BOX 103 X. DISAPPOINTMENT 112 XI. BUSTER HAS A SHOCK 121 XII. THE MAN WITH THE BLUE MOON SWEATER 131 XIII. THE RIVER PIRATE 140 XIV. READY FOR TROUBLE 150 XV. JUST A MINUTE TOO LATE 160 XVI. IN HOT PURSUIT 169 XVII. THE MOONLIGHT CHASE 178 XVIII. OVERHAULED 187 XIX. ABOARD THE FLOATING RAFT 196 XX. HOLDING THE FORT 206 XXI. MAKING THINGS WARM 211 XXII. "DROP THAT BAG" 221 XXIII. EVERYTHING LOVELY--CONCLUSION 230 XXIV. CONCLUSION 237
The Motor Boat Boys' River Chase
Six Chums Afloat and Ashore
By Louis Arundel
READY FOR THE START
"What are we waiting for, Commodore Jack?"
"Yes, I'm the last one to be in a hurry, boys, but it seems to me weought to be getting away. The river ain't waiting up for us, younotice."
"Hold your horses, Buster, and count noses; perhaps you'll find thatthere are only five of us present."
"Huh! guess you're right, Josh Purdue; but what's become of Jimmie. Inever heard a splash, and I don't see him swimmin', if he is a regularwater duck. Water's too cold any way, this fine April day, for goin'in."
"Why, Jack sent him back to the post office to see if there was anymail. He's thinking of George here, who's expecting a letter from thatsweet little Southern girl he met last fall, when we were knockingaround the Florida Keys in our motor boats, after coming down thecoast."
"Rats! speak for yourself, Josh!" exclaimed the fifth member of theparty, whose name seemed to be George, and who was a nervous, activeboy, one of those kind who are always wanting to do things in a hurry;"didn't I see you get a lavender colored letter only last week, andwhen I walked past him purposely in the post office, fellows, oh! mygoodness! you ought to have sniffed the lovely perfume that oozed out ofthat envelope. Did Josh tear the end off? Not that I could notice; buthe took out his knife, and cut it so carefully like, you'd think----"
"Sure we've got all the grub aboard, Jack?" asked the said Josh, whohad turned more or less red in the face with confusion at being sounexpectedly attacked, "because it'd be a mighty tough thing to getsnugly settled in the first camp of the season, and find you've gone andleft that elegant home-cured ham to home."
"Our ham's safe, all right; I'm looking right at it now!" declaredGeorge, as he stared at the rosy face of Josh, and chuckled aloud.
"I've gone over the list, and checked things off, with the help of Herbhere; and so far as we could tell, there's nothing missing. Things seemto be in good shape, after lying all winter in the boat-yard. And theengines work splendidly," was the report of the boy named Jack, to whomthe others seemed to look as though he might have some right to thattitle of "Commodore," being the chief officer of the motor boat club.
They were standing on the river bank just below a small town that wassituated on the Upper Mississippi; and fastened to the shore by stoutcables were three power boats of vastly different patterns.
One of them, owned by George Rollins, was a speed boat, narrow of beam,and capable of doing wonderful stunts in the way of annihilating space,whenever the big powered motor chose to act decently, which happenedmore frequently in these days than in the past, when it used to give theskipper much trouble. This boat was known as a freak, and went under thename of the Wireless.
The second was a good, roomy craft, which George called a "punkin-seed,"because it took up so much room. Herbert Dickson was the satisfied ownerof this boat, and as it bore the name of Comfort, it may readily beunderstood that the captain was a quiet, unassuming lad, who as a ruleminded his own business, and always wanted comfort before speed. Still,it had often happened that Herb got to his destination long beforeGeorge, who spent so much time tinkering with his balky engine, whilethat of the roomy craft had never been known to act sulky, or quitbusiness, but worked right along like a well-oiled clock.
The third boat was a happy medium between the other two, and went underthe name of the Tramp. Jack Stormways held the wheel of this, and as arule the absent member, Jimmie Brannagan, served as the crew. The Trampwas a reliable article, and probably better fitted for cruising thaneither of the others, when one wanted an all-round craft, capable ofspeed, and yet not cramped for room, or cranky in action.
These six lads had formed a club, and during the last two years had beenable, by reason of fortunate circumstances whereby they came into aconsiderable sum of money, to make several long cruises.
These have been narrated at length in previous volumes of this Series,and the reader of the present book, who has not had the pleasure ofmaking the acquaintance of Jack and his chums up to now, and wouldknow more about them, is referred to the earlier numbers for fullparticulars, with the assurance that he will find an abundance of livelyreading there.
Their first cruise had been down the Father of Waters all the way to NewOrleans, where they had a mission to perform. After that they had theboats shipped to Clayton on the St. Lawrence; and for the better partof vacation time cruised among the Thousand Islands, and on the GreatLakes, going up through the wonderful Soo Canal, and seeing everythingthat was worth while in that enchanted region.
Then, in the winter, they were given a glorious chance to start downthe Atlantic coast, taking the inside route away from the ocean, andreaching Florida after some of the most stirring adventures ever told.
And as their time had not been exhausted, they put in some weeks ofpleasure in navigating among the Keys of the Florida peninsula, meetingwith many stirring adventures, all of which have been faithfullychronicled for the reading of our boys.
And now, here were the Easter holidays come, and a little riverexcursion planned, down to a big island that lay some ninety miles ormore below the home town, and which was an object of more or lesscuriosity to the passengers on the river steamboats, because of thestrange stories that were told about mysterious lights seen there, andqueer noises that had been heard from time to time.
Fishermen sometimes stopped there, in several little old huts they haderected; but of late years they seemed to have rather abandoned theisland for other more favored localities; declaring that the fishing wasno longer good there, and all that; but it was secretly passed aroundthat they had been frightened off through some means; and so the islandhad come to have a bad name.
These bold lads liked nothing better than to explore such a place, andlearn for themselves w
And here they were, only waiting for the return of Jimmie, when theymeant to go aboard, cast off the lines, float out upon the swirlingwaters of the great river, and then starting their engines, go speedingdown the current.
Although George, always in a hurry, might be expected to show impatience,even stout Buster, who was well named, had confessed to a feeling ofanxiety to get started. They all loved this life on the water so much,that after being shut up between the walls of the high school buildingfor some months now, five days in a week, they were just wild to beafloat.
"What d'ye suppose Clarence Macklin'd say if he saw our bully littleflotilla all ready, with steam up, to start on this new voyage?" Busterasked, a few minutes afterwards, as they stood there, keeping an anxiouseye toward the border of the near-by town, and along the river roadwhich Jimmie would have to use to reach them.
This same Clarence had always been a thorn in the flesh of the motorboat boys ever since the club was started. He had certain habits thatthe others did not like, and when he applied for admission, it was nosurprise that he had been black-balled.
After that Clarence, who was of a mean disposition, could never forgiveJack and his chums; and he had lost no opportunity to annoy them, oftengoing to extremes in his desire to make them all the trouble that hecould.
During their cruise down the Mississippi, and when upon the St. Lawrenceand the Great Lakes he had bobbed up every little while, with his fastboat, known under the name of Flash, and there were times when Jack andhis friends just hated the sight of that contemptuous face of ClarenceMacklin.
So when Buster mentioned it now, the boys looked at each other, with alittle anxious expression on their faces.
"Oh! I guess we needn't look for any more trouble from Clarence," Jackremarked. "He's kept clear of us all winter, you know; and perhaps he'slet the whole thing drop. I hope so, anyway."
"Well, I know Clarence better than the rest of you," said Herb, "becauseI used to chum with him before I found better fellows to go with; andyou can take it from me that when he's quiet, that's the time he's to befeared most of all, for he's sure to be hatching up mischief. That brainof his is never still. And ever since we got back from Florida he's beenlistening, second-hand, to the great stories we had to tell, and justeating his heart out with envy because he couldn't have been there too."
"Yes," put in Josh Purdue, with a frown, for he had had many unpleasantexperiences with the said Clarence, and the mention of that name actedon him as a red flag would on a bull; "and I happen to know that BullyJoe, the feller Clarence still hangs on to for his crony, heard me tella gentleman about the trip we expected to take during Easter holidays;and when I saw him running down the street so fast you could a-playedmarbles on his coat-tail, I just knew he was in the biggest hurry everto tell Clarence all about it."
"Oh! then that explains why you've been keeping an eye out on the riverso much all the time we've been standing here," remarked Jack. "Now, Ithought you were only trying to figure on the strength of the current,and how long it ought to take us to drop down to Bedloe's Island."
"We'll be there before the sun drops out of sight; that is, wind andweather, and the engine of the Wireless permitting," said Josh.
"Now, never you mind about what my motor is going to do," spoke upGeorge, who, in spite of all the tricks that had been played on him byhis balky engine, still had an abiding faith in its ability to dowonders, and was always sure he had solved the combination that had beenbothering him, this time for good. "I've been working a whole lot onthat same machine since our last cruise down among the oyster reefs ofFlorida, and I'm dead sure I've got it fixed now so that she'll never goback on me again. P'raps she won't be quite as swift as before, but thenI'm coming to the conclusion that speed ain't everything when you're ona long trip. You fellows used to take it so comfy, while I was alwaysfretting, and worrying over my motive power."
"Hear! hear!" exclaimed Jack, "the old buccaneer has seen a great light,and is half converted right now. Chances are, Herb, he'll be offering totrade with you before long."
At that George looked daggers at the Comfort, riding like a contentedduck on the water near by.
"Perhaps I may, when I want a tub," he said, severely; "but I don'tthink that day'll ever arrive, Jack."
"All the same," spoke up Josh, who had often been Herb's companion onthe beamy boat, and knew the luxury of having plenty of room, withoutbeing told a thousand times to keep still, because he was rocking theboat; "I can remember the time when you were mighty glad to come aboardthat same tub, and beg a breakfast from the skipper, because your sillycranky Wireless was out of commission or sunk. Don't look a gift horsein the mouth, George. Time may come again when you'll feel like beggingthe pardon of that noble craft. Many's the happy day I've had whileserving my time on her. She's a dandy, that's what."
"Thank you, Josh!" said Herb, quietly; but there was a satisfied gleam inhis eyes that spoke louder than words; for Herb really loved his boat,and took it to heart more than easy-going, reckless George imagined, whenthe scornful member of the club chose to speak slightingly of her.
Possibly George felt twinges of remorse, as his memory carried him backto certain occasions in the adventurous past; for he tossed his head,and went on to say:
"Oh! she's all right, for those who don't care anything about gettingalong in a rush; but you know I never could stand that sort of thing.I'm too much a bundle of nerves. When I've set my mind on doing a thingI don't like to be kept waiting. Herb wouldn't fancy my boat any more'nI do his; and there you are."
"Well, we'll soon be off now," remarked Buster, joyfully.
"Yes, because there comes Jimmie," added Jack.
Jimmie Brannagan was an Irish boy, as his name announced. He was a sortof ward of Jack's father, who held some little money in trust until thelad came of age. His parents had been of a good family, and while Jimmiechose to talk in a species of brogue, that was amusing to his mates, hecould really use as good language as any fellow, if he chose to exerthimself. He lived with the Stormways, and was much in the company ofJack, being a warm-hearted boy, impulsive, and a friend who would stickthrough thick and thin.
He was seen to be half running along the road, as though eager to joinhis comrades, and get started on the joyous trip; for Jimmy was ashappy as a bird when aboard a boat. As a rule he acted as Jack'steam-mate; but there were times when changes in the crews had to bemade, owing to a disinclination on the part of Buster, Jimmy, and Joshto serve any great length of time aboard the wobbly Wireless; for theydeclared that the narrow boat was just about as nervous as its skipper,and kept the crew on edge all the time.
"What's he waving that newspaper for, d'ye think?" Buster asked,presently.
"You might guess a thousand years, and never know," remarked George,"but he'll be along right soon now, and then we'll find out. Take asprint, Jimmie; stretch a single into a two-bagger, and slide forsecond! Here you come, old top! Now, what's all the row about; tell us?"
Jimmie, red-faced, freckled, good-natured Jimmie, grinned, and held outthe open newspaper toward them.
"Sure and they do be havin' the dickens av a time up beyant us. Look atthe illegant head-lines, would ye? 'Bowld robbery! Thaves break into theBank, and loot the Safe av a Forchune! Lawrence all excited over thevisit av yeggmen! Reward offered for tha apprehension av the
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