Swamp IslandMildred A. Wirt / Young Adult
Produced by Stephen Hutcheson, Charlie Howard, and theOnline Distributed Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net
_By_ MILDRED A. WIRT
_Author of_ MILDRED A. WIRT MYSTERY STORIES TRAILER STORIES FOR GIRLS
CUPPLES AND LEON COMPANY _Publishers_ NEW YORK
_PENNY PARKER_ MYSTERY STORIES
_Large 12 mo. Cloth Illustrated_
TALE OF THE WITCH DOLL THE VANISHING HOUSEBOAT DANGER AT THE DRAWBRIDGE BEHIND THE GREEN DOOR CLUE OF THE SILKEN LADDER THE SECRET PACT THE CLOCK STRIKES THIRTEEN THE WISHING WELL SABOTEURS ON THE RIVER GHOST BEYOND THE GATE HOOFBEATS ON THE TURNPIKE VOICE FROM THE CAVE GUILT OF THE BRASS THIEVES SIGNAL IN THE DARK WHISPERING WALLS SWAMP ISLAND THE CRY AT MIDNIGHT
COPYRIGHT, 1947, BY CUPPLES AND LEON CO.
PRINTED IN U. S. A.
CHAPTER PAGE 1 THE BEARDED STRANGER _1_ 2 ALERTING ALL CARS _7_ 3 UNFINISHED BUSINESS _16_ 4 A TRAFFIC ACCIDENT _25_ 5 THE RED STAIN _33_ 6 AMBULANCE CALL _42_ 7 AN EMPTY BED _50_ 8 IN SEARCH OF JERRY _58_ 9 THE WIDOW JONES _64_ 10 INSIDE THE WOODSHED _73_ 11 AN ABANDONED CAR _81_ 12 A JOB FOR PENNY _91_ 13 INTO THE SWAMP _100_ 14 A CODE MESSAGE _107_ 15 BEYOND THE BOARDWALK _113_ 16 TREED BY A BOAR _121_ 17 RESCUE _128_ 18 WANTED--A GUIDE _136_ 19 PENNY'S PLAN _146_ 20 TRAILING HOD HAWKINS _153_ 21 THE TUNNEL OF LEAVES _160_ 22 HELP FROM TONY _166_ 23 LOST IN THE HYACINTHS _175_ 24 UNDER THE FENCE POST _183_ 25 OUTWITTED _192_
CHAPTER 1 _THE BEARDED STRANGER_
With slow, smooth strokes, Penny Parker sent the flat-bottomed skiffcutting through the still, sluggish water toward a small point of woodedland near the swamp's edge.
In the bottom of the boat, her dark-haired companion, Louise Sidell, satwith her hand resting carelessly on the collar of her dog, Bones, whodrowsed beside her. The girl yawned and shifted cramped limbs.
Let's go home, Penny, she pleaded. We have all the flowers you'll needto decorate the banquet tables tonight.
But not all I want, Penny corrected with a grin. See those beautifulCherokee roses growing over there on the island point? They're nicer thananything we have.
Also harder to get.
Louise craned her neck to gaze at the wild, tangled growth which rosedensely from the water's edge.
Remember, she admonished, when Trapper Joe rented us this boat hislast words were: 'Don't go far, and stay in the skiff.'
After we gather the flowers, we'll start straight home, Lou. We're toonear the edge of the swamp to lose our way.
Disregarding Louise's frown, Penny tossed a lock of auburn hair out ofher eyes, and dug in again with the oars.
A giant crane, disturbed by the splash, flapped up from the tall watergrass. As he trumpeted angrily, Bones stirred and scrambled to his feet.
Quiet, Bones! Louise ordered, giving him a reassuring pat. It's only asaucy old crane.
The dog stretched out on the decking again, but through half-closed eyeswatched the bird in flight.
Lou, hasn't it been fun, coming here today? Penny demanded in a suddenoutbreak of enthusiasm. I've loved every minute of it!
You certainly have! But it's getting late and we're both hot and tired.If you must have those flowers, let's get them quickly and start home.
The two girls, students at Riverview high school, had rented the skiffearly that afternoon from Trapper Joe Scoville, a swamper who lived alonein a shack at the swamp's edge.
For three hours now, they had idled along the entrance channel, gatheringwater lilies, late-blooming Cherokee roses, yellow jessamine, and iris.
The excursion had been entirely Penny's idea. That night in a Riverviewhotel, her father, Anthony Parker, publisher of the _Riverview Star_, wasacting as host to a state newspapermen's convention. He had handed Pennytwenty dollars, with instructions to buy flowers for the banquet tables.
Penny, with her usual flare for doing things differently, had decided tosave the money by gathering swamp blooms.
These flowers are nicer than anything we could have bought from aflorist, she declared, gazing appreciatively at the mass of blooms whichdripped water in the basket at her feet.
And think what you can do with twenty dollars! her chum teased.
Seventeen. Remember, we owe Trapper Joe three dollars for boat rental.
It will be four if we don't call it a day. Let's get the flowers, if wemust, and start home.
Fair enough, Penny agreed.
Squinting at the lowering sun, she guided the skiff to a point of thelow-lying island. There she held it steady while her chum stepped out onthe spongy ground.
Bones, eager to explore, leaped after her and was off in a flash beforeLouise could seize his collar.
Penny followed her chum ashore, beaching her skiff in a clump of waterplants. This place looks like a natural haunt for cottonmouths ormoccasins, she remarked. We'll have to watch out for snakes.
Already Louise was edging along in the soft muck, alertly keeping an eyeupon all overhead limbs from which a poisonous reptile might drop.
Annoyed by thorny bushes which teethed into her jacket, she turned toprotest to Penny that the roses were not worth the trouble it would taketo gather them.
But the words never were spoken.
For just then, from some distance inland, came the sound of men's voices.Louise listened a moment and retreated toward the boat.
Someone is here on the island, she whispered nervously. Let's leave!
All afternoon the girls had floated through the outer reaches of theswamp without seeing a single human being. Now to hear voices in thisisolated area was slightly unnerving even to Penny. But she was not oneto turn tail and run without good reason.
Why should we leave? she countered, careful to keep her voice low. Wehave a perfect right to be here. They're probably fishermen fromRiverview.
Louise was not so easily reassured.
We have all the flowers you need, Penny. Please, let's go!
You wait for me in the boat, Lou. I'll slip over to the bank and get theroses. Only take a minute.
Stepping carefully across a half-decayed log, Penny started toward theroses, visible on a bank farther up shore.
Bones trotted a few feet ahead of her, his sensitive nose to the ground.
Go back, Bones, Penny ordered softly. Stay with Louise!
Bones did not obey. As Penny overtook him and seized the trailing leash,she suddenly heard voices again.
Two men were talking several yards away, completely hidden by the bushes.Their words brought her up short.
There hain't no reason to be afeared if we use our heads, the one wassaying. Maybe me and the boys will help if ye make it worth our while,but we hain't aimin' to tangle with no law.
The voice of the man who answered was low and husky.
You'll help me all right, or I'll tell what I know! Only one thingbrought me back here. I aim to get the guy who put me up! I was in townlast night but didn't get sight of him. I'm going back soon's I leavehere.
Penny had been listening so intently that she completely forgot Bones.
The dog tugged hard at the leash which slipped from the girl's hand. Shescrambled for it, only to have Bones elude her and dart into theunderbrush.
From the boat, Louise saw her pet escaping. Fearful that he would belost, she called shrilly: Bones! Bones! Come back here!
The dog paid no heed. But Louise's cry had carried far and served to warnthose inland that someone had landed on the point.
A moment of dead silence ensued. Then Penny heard one of the men demandsharply: What was that?
Waiting for no more, she backtracked toward the boat. Before she couldreach it, the bushes behind her parted.
A tall, square-shouldered man whose jaw was covered with a jungle growthof red beard, peered out at her. He wore a wide-brimmed, floppy, felt hatand loose fitting work clothes with sturdy boots.
His eyes, fierce and hostile, fastened directly upon Penny.
Git! he said harshly.
Penny retreated a step, then held her ground.
Please, sir, our dog is lost in the underbrush, she began. We can'tleave without him--
Git! the man repeated. As he started toward her, Penny saw that hecarried a gun in the crook of his arm.