Part 2 out of 3
"But why don't you want us to look for our friend? Surely you've got
nothing against him--or us."
"Not a thing. Not a thing, sonny. Only I live on this place, and I
can't have a troop of youngsters tracking mud in at my front door.
That friend of yours couldn't very well be on my island without my
knowing it, could he?"
"But you've never said out and out that he wasn't on the island,"
asserted Jerry boldly. "And you've acted so suspicious that--that we
wouldn't believe you now if you did say it."
The man laughed at that, for Jerry had started out by trying to be
diplomatic, but his feelings got the better of him before the end.
"I'll be careful not to say it then. As for the tackle box--here it
is." Jerry opened his eyes wide; he had thought the box a pure
invention on the part of Phil. "Now back water and keep backing."
"You think you've got us beat," shouted Jerry at his retreating
back. "Never you worry--I've told Mr. Fulton, and he and Mr. Aikens
will be coming down here with a posse. They won't be asking your
permission if they can investigate an island that doesn't belong to
you any more than it does to me."
"It belongs to Mr. Fulton, I suppose?" challenged the man, and
turning around for a last laugh. Neither boy answered.
"You tell your Mr. Fulton that I said he was welcome to come any
"Now what?" asked Jerry, as Phil turned the boat about and headed
for the other shore.
"What next? Night, mostly. Then I think we'll show your Mr. Billings
a few Scout tricks he doesn't know about."
"I didn't say his name was Billings----"
"I know--but _I_ did. I've seen him before. That may be the reason
he's so touchy about having us land on the island. The last time I
saw him it was down at dad's office. Uncle Ed--that's Mr. Fulton,
you know--was there, and when I opened the door on them suddenly, he
and this Billings were having the hottest kind of an argument. Dad
hustled me out of there in a hurry, but not before Uncle Ed'd called
him Billings--and a lot of other things."
"You think then that Billings is still sore at Mr. Fulton, and that
he's holding Tod there----"
"Nothing more likely. We'll know to-night. At least we'll know
whether Tod is there--and I guess we'll make a good strong try at
getting him loose."
"How can we do it? What's your plan?"
"Leave it to the Flying Eagle Scouts. I'm not bragging, but we're
one live crew!"
A VOYAGE IN THE DARK
Still, it was some time after the return of Phil and Jerry from
their unsuccessful sortie into the enemy's country, before a
practical plan occurred to the ten-brain-power plotters. But the
scheme, once its details had been worked out, struck them all as
having a fair chance for success. Briefly, it was this:
Two of the boys--Jerry and Phil were again chosen--were to go down
the river to the bridge and cross over and get the _Big Four_. They
were to come back up the river as quietly as possible, hugging the
opposite shore to a point about two hundred yards below the island,
where the east bank spurred off into a fairly high hill. Here one of
the boys was to leave the boat, as near nine o'clock as possible--it
was now seven--and climb the hill, where he was to signal across to
Dick Garrett, who would be watching directly opposite.
Then Jerry and Phil were to make all speed to Lost Island, landing
at the lower end. The Boy Scouts, and Dave and Frank, were to gather
as conspicuously as possible--a flaring camp fire would show their
intentions--and pretend that _they_ were about to embark for the
That _ought_ to leave the lower end of the island unguarded for the
safe landing of Jerry and Phil. Once they were ashore, the dense
bushes and the darkness ought to be sufficient cover for their
Little time had been lost, really, in making the plan, for the
Scouts had been bustling back and forth, building a camp fire and
preparing supper. Four of them had set up the tents, finishing the
task begun by all of them when Jerry and Phil set out on their first
trip to the island.
It was not a very fancy meal the boys sat down to. The food was
served on paper lunch plates, so there would be no dish-washing.
Each Scout carried knife, fork, spoon and tincup. There was no extra
"silverware" save the cook's big utensils. So the three outsiders
ate with fingers and pocketknives. A nice mess of perch had been
caught in a near-by creek, and Frank Willis, whose turn it was to
act as chef, had browned them most artistically. There were some
ash-baked potatoes, and a farmhouse close by had provided a generous
supply of buttermilk.
The last of the meal was eaten by the light of the camp fire, for
the sky had clouded over and night seemed to drop suddenly from
above. Licking the last morsel of the delicious fish from his greasy
finger-ends, and wiping his greasier mouth on his sleeve, Jerry
jumped to his feet and announced:
"I'm ready, Phil, if you are."
"I've been ready for a quarter of an hour--just waiting for the
skillet to be empty, because I knew you'd never stir so long as
there was a crumb left. Where do you put it all?"
"I've got to stow away a lot to balance my brains. I notice you're a
light eater," retorted Jerry, but Phil only chuckled.
"All right, you two--be on your merry way," put in Dick Garrett.
"This is no picnic excursion you're starting off on. And don't forget
your oars, unless you expect to row your boat with your wits."
The two made no reply; a half minute later there were only eight
boys in camp.
Something like a quarter of a mile inland was the gravel road that
followed the windings of Plum Run, to cut across at the wagon
bridge. Two stealthy figures hurried through the woods and across
the fields, to emerge on the other side of a barbed wire fence and
trudge off down the dusty road.
"Some woodsman, you are!" snorted Phil in purposely exaggerated
disgust. "When you skulked through the brush the limbs could be
heard popping for a mile. How many times did you fall down?"
"Fall down? What you mean, fall down? Every time you stumbled over
your shadow I thought you were ducking for cover, so I simply
crouched to keep out of sight."
Phil snorted, and quickened his pace. Jerry put an extra few inches
on his own stride and easily kept up. They passed a farmhouse--at
good speed, for a dog came out and after a few suspicious sniffs
proceeded to satisfy his appetite on Phil's leg. A loud ripping
noise told that he at least kept a souvenir of the visit.
The dog's excited barking kept them company to the next farmhouse,
which they passed as silently as possible, not particularly desiring
to repeat the experience.
"It was your whistling back there that scared up that dog--see if
you can whistle a patch onto my leggins," Phil suggested when they
were once more surrounded by open fields.
Jerry did not answer, for just ahead of them the road forked and he
was trying to remember which turn it was one took to get to the
bridge. He had never gone this way, but he had once heard a farmer
giving directions to a party of automobilists. However, Phil
unhesitatingly took the branch that cut in toward the river, so he
said nothing for some time.
"Ever been over this road before?" he ventured to ask when the road
suddenly became so rough that they stumbled at every step.
"No--never been up this way. We always fish on the other side of the
"How do you know then that this is the right road?"
"It turned in toward the river, didn't it? And the other road angled
off toward Tarryville."
"But the bridge road is graveled all the way, and if this isn't blue
clay I'll eat my hat. It might just be a private road to some farm,
and the other road might have swung around after a bit. This muck-
hole doesn't look good to me."
"All the same, through those trees yonder I can see water. It's the
old Plum all right. Shake a leg."
"I think we'll gain time by shaking two legs--back to the fork.
That's the Plum, all right enough, but you'll walk through marsh all
the way to the bridge if you try to follow the bank. I remember now:
this is the old wood road. It hasn't been used since they cut timber
on the Jameson tract."
Jerry did not wait to finish his argument but had already gone back
a good fifty feet of the way to the other road, when he noticed that
Phil was not following him.
"What's the matter, Phil?"
"Don't you think we've wasted enough time, without losing some more
by going back?"
"We'll lose more by going ahead. And we're losing now by standing
still chewing the rag about it. Come on."
"I'm going ahead. You followed my lead this far; I guess it won't
hurt you to follow it a little farther. I'm Patrol Leader, you
Jerry sensed a little resentment in Phil's tone, and remembered that
once or twice he had spoken to the Scout leader just as he did to
his chums--and his chums always looked to him for commands.
"I'm not trying to boss you, Phil, don't think that. But I _know_
that the other way is the best way, and I've _got_ to follow it. So
you go ahead, and I'll wait for you at this end of the bridge."
Without further word he strode off on the back road. It was so dark
that he might have done so safely, but he did not look back.
Nevertheless, a pleased grin spread over his face, for he was soon
aware that Phil was tagging along not many paces behind. That had
always been the way. Jerry was a born leader; the other boys
followed him willingly because they never found any cause to lose
confidence in his judgment.
"Phil, you're a genuine sport," was all he said as the other boy
fell into step beside him as once more they reached the gravel
roadway and turned into the right-hand branch.
Sooner than they expected they saw the gaunt skeleton of the upper
bridgework against the dark sky. Jerry did not permit himself an "I
told you so," but he said instead:
"We'll be in a pretty pickle if we get on the other side and find
our boat gone."
Phil made no answer and in silence they walked across the hollow-
echoing bridge. A series of giant stone steps led down to the river
bank, and as soon as they reached bottom they saw that their fears
were groundless, for there lay the _Big Four_ as Jerry and Dave had
left her eighteen hours before. Deep footprints in the mud bank,
dimly visible in the dusk, told that someone had stopped to look the
boat over. Perhaps had the oars been handy, the boat might not have
remained so safely.
The boys were glad to relieve their shoulders of the pair they had
taken turns in carrying, and without pausing to rest, they stepped
into the boat, Phil finding some difficulty in making the Scout
boat's oars fit the _Big Four's_ oarlocks. But at last they were off
and Jerry bent to his task. The _Big Four_ had been built for speed,
and the craft was trimmed just right for getting the most with the
least effort. The current was fairly swift here, but Jerry hugged
the east bank and took advantage of every eddy. It was not long
before Lost Island swung into sight.
"Let me spell you off," suggested Phil, but Jerry shook his head.
"After we land at the hill you can take her the rest of the way. I
think I'll pull in at that little cove just ahead. It makes a little
longer walk, but it's well out of sight of the island. Who'll climb
"Leave that to me. I kind of want to try out a little signaling
stunt that Dick and I have been figuring on. Here's a good sandy
stretch; let's beach her here."
The boat grated on the pebbly shore; Phil sprang lightly out, and
Jerry was left alone. He could hear Phil scrunching over the rocks
and through the brush; then all was still. Jerry strained his eyes
to see if he could make out the figure of Dick, who must be almost
directly opposite, but only the dense black of the wood met his
gaze. He waited patiently for the gleam of the flashlight, but
minute after minute slipped by, and no signal appeared.
So he was somewhat surprised when after perhaps fifteen minutes he
heard a footstep on the beach and he realized that Phil was
"Our scheme worked fine," announced the Scout leader. "Bet you never
even saw Dick's signal."
"No, I didn't," confessed Jerry.
"Good reason why. You see, I figured out that if you shoot a flash
straight out in front of you very long everybody can see it. A quick
flash--well, anyone who saw it might think it was just lightning or
the interurban. So I just snapped about a dozen straight up into the
air, until I got a return flash from Dick. Then I used this." He
pulled out a little pocket mirror. "I pointed my light straight at
the ground, and gave him a dot and dash message by holding the
mirror in the light. Some scheme, eh?"
Jerry merely grunted, but way down in his heart a deep respect was
forming for these Boy Scouts and their resourcefulness.
"Just flash a few signals to those oars," he advised, taking his
place in the stern. "And be careful with that left oar--she squeaks
if you pull her too hard."
But Phil soon showed that he needed no advice about handling a boat.
Without a sound--without a ripple, almost--they moved away from
shore and cut out into the current.
"Safe to get out into line with the island, I guess. If they're
watching, it's the shore they'll be most suspicious of."
"They? We've only seen one out there."
"Maybe. But I'm betting on a pair of them at least. It's about time
for the boys to--listen to those Indians, would you? I'm afraid
they're overdoing it a bit."
From the far shore, out of sight behind Lost Island, rose a hubbub
of cries that sounded as if the island were about to be attacked by
a war party of Sioux. A Boy Scout yell sounded out, the voices of
Dave and Frank heard above the rest.
"Guess your two must have deserted your banner and joined the
Eagles," teased Phil.
The island lay dead ahead of them, dark and still. Both boys had a
shivery feeling of being watched, but no sign was apparent as they
floated in behind the point of the island and noiselessly beached
"We'd best stay close together," suggested Jerry in a whisper.
"And by all means don't whisper--talk in an undertone. A whisper
carries twice as far," countered Phil. Jerry marked down one more to
the score of the Boy Scouts.
But there was little need for talk. The brush was heavy, broken by
thickets of plum trees and an occasional sapling of hickory; the
ground was boggy in spots, and once Jerry sank almost to his knees
in oozy mud. A screech owl hooted in a tree close by, and cold
shivers ran up and down their backbones. Unbroken by path or
opening, the island wilderness lay before them.
They walked hours it seemed, trying their best not to advertise
their coming in breaking limbs and rustling leaves, for the night
was uncannily still. It was a great relief, therefore, when the
underbrush suddenly gave way to a few low trees and after that open
ground. Jerry was for plunging right ahead, relying on the darkness,
but Phil caught his arm.
"Circle it," he commanded, and Jerry, little used to obeying orders
as he was, at once saw the wisdom of the idea and agreed. They were
nearly halfway around the open plot when they struck a path,
evidently leading to the river. But the other end must go somewhere,
and they strained their eyes into the darkness.
"A house, I do believe," mumbled Phil.
"Shall we risk going closer?"
"Got to. Not a sound now. Let's take off our shoes."
In their stocking feet they stealthily drew nearer the dark blot
against the background. When they were within twenty feet they saw
it was not a cabin, but one end of a long, narrow, shed-like
structure, perhaps twenty feet wide and running far back into the
darkness. They approached it cautiously and began feeling carefully
along the higher side for some sort of door or opening. They had
gone a good thirty feet, their nerves tingling with the hope of
next-instant discovery, when Phil broke the silence with a low-toned
"There's a house or cabin of some kind less than twenty feet away."
Jerry did not look. His groping fingers had found something that
felt like a door-edge. His hand closed over a knob.
"Here's the door!" he exclaimed eagerly, and then felt his heart
almost stop beating. The knob had been turned in his hand! But
before he could say a word, a sudden "Sh!" sounded from his
"Did you hear it?" gasped Phil.
"What?" asked Jerry, his voice trembling in spite of him.
But Phil did not answer--there was no need. From the cabin came a
sound that set every nerve on edge. It was a groan--the groan of
someone in great agony.
A RESCUE THAT FAILED
In the excitement of hearing that groan, Jerry forgot every other
thought. Both boys jumped at once to the same conclusion: Tod was in
that cabin! Perhaps he had been hurt, or perhaps, even, that ruffian
was mistreating him. With one accord they broke for the cabin,
making for where a thin pencil of light hinted at a door. They
wasted no time fumbling for the knob, but put all the strength of
their shoulders against the opening.
The door gave, suddenly, and they tumbled over each other into a
dimly lighted room. It was fortunate for them that there was no one
there, for in falling Phil overturned a chair, which in turn managed
to become entangled in Jerry's legs, who came to the floor with a
suddenness that did not give Phil time to get out of the way. Half
stunned, they lay there panting, till a renewal of the moaning
aroused them to quick action.
Phil jumped to his feet and caught up a leg of the chair, that had
been broken loose in the triple fall. It was well to have some sort
of weapon. The sounds seemed to have come from above, where a trap
door indicated a loft or attic of some sort. The boys looked wildly
about for some means of getting up to the trap door, but the light
of the smoky kerosene lamp revealed nothing. The chair might have
helped them, but it was wrecked beyond hope.
"Perhaps if we called to him, he might answer," ventured Jerry
"First see if you can reach the trap door if you stand on my
shoulders." Phil made a stirrup of his hands and gave Jerry a leg
up. Wabbling uncertainly, but managing to straighten himself, Jerry
caught at the edge of the opening.
"Nailed!" he exclaimed disappointedly as he jumped to the floor.
"Shall we call?" Phil nodded.
"Tod. Oh, Tod!"
Only silence. Again they called.
There was an answer this time, but not of the sort nor from the
direction the boys expected. It was more like a whine than a groan
this time, and it came from the far side of the room. For the first
time the boys noticed that there was a door there, partly open. They
made a rush for it, Jerry in the lead. But he got no farther than
the threshold. As he reached it, the door was flung open in his
In the doorway stood a sixteen-year-old girl, a slim, black-haired
slip of a thing, her black eyes snapping. One hand was doubled up
into a fist that would have made any boy laugh, but there was no
laughter in the other hand. It brandished a wicked looking hand-axe,
and it was evident from the way she handled it that there was
strength in those scrawny arms.
"You get out of here!" she commanded, advancing a step.
Jerry backed away hastily, but Phil only laughed, trying to balance
himself on the two and a half legs of the wrecked chair.
"I've seen you before, Lizzie, and you don't scare me a bit with
that meat axe."
"It's no meat axe; it's a wood axe--look out for your heads," she
retorted scornfully. "Clear out of here or I'll make kindling of
both of you."
"Put down that cleaver, Lizzie, and let's talk sense. We came here
to get Tod Fulton--he's my cousin, you know----" but that was as far
as he got.
The girl, her face showing a determination that made nonchalant Phil
jump up from his chair and beat a quick retreat, walked up on them,
the axe flashing viciously back and forth before her.
"You're going to get off this island," she exclaimed, "and you're
going to do it quick. No tricks now! The first one who makes a break
gets this axe in the back--and I can throw straight. About face,
There was nothing to do but obey. Sheepishly enough the boys turned
and meekly let her drive them out into the dark. As she passed the
lamp she caught it down from the bracket on the wall with one hand.
Thus they marched across the open ground, along the narrow path and
out on the waterfront.
"Our boat is down at the other end of the island" remarked Phil,
turning his head ever so slightly.
"I'll have my father bring it over to you in the morning," answered
the girl relentlessly. "I see your friends waiting for you over on
the other side, so it wouldn't be fair to keep them in suspense."
"You're surely not going to make us try to swim it?" pleaded Phil,
pretending great consternation, hoping that he might delay their
departure till something might happen to give them the advantage.
"That's not all I am going to do." Setting down her lamp on a
convenient rock, and changing her axe to her left hand, she stooped
over and picked up a pebble. With a quick jerk she drew back her arm
and then shot it out, boy-fashion The boys heard the stone hum as it
sailed through the air. An instant, and then a howl of pain arose
from one of the Scouts dancing about the blazing camp fire on the
other shore. It was a good hundred yards away.
"I just did that to show you what'd happen to you if you didn't head
straight for that gang of pirates over there," she said grimly.
"You're _some_--tomboy!" exclaimed Phil, admiringly, Jerry thought,
but the girl only laughed sarcastically.
"You first," she demanded. "You're just watching for a chance to
catch me off my guard. I'm onto you."
Phil had no choice, so without more ado, he plunged in and began
cutting the water neatly in the direction of the camp fire.
"He swims well, doesn't he?" remarked the girl, so easily that Jerry
could have sworn she was about ready to laugh.
"He sure does!" he agreed. "He's got me beat a mile. Say," he
coaxed, "we didn't mean any harm. We were just looking for a boy who
was supposed to have got drowned up the river a piece but we believe
landed here on Lost Island. Just tell me whether he's alive or not,
and we won't bother you any more."
"Oh, you're no bother. In fact, I rather enjoyed your little visit--
though I will admit you scared me a bit when you held the knob of
the door to the hangar----"
"Hangar? What's that?"
"It's--it's French for--woodshed," the girl stammered. "It's your
turn now," motioning toward the water.
"But won't you tell me about Tod?"
"Did you ask my father about him?"
"If it _was_ your father, yes."
"And he didn't tell you!"
"No, and he wouldn't let us search the island."
"Well, I'm my father's daughter. So into the briny deep with you. I
hope the fish don't bite you."
"But, look here," began Jerry, then fell silent and moved toward the
waters edge, for the girl had picked up a handful of large pebbles
and stood plumping them meaningly into the river.
The water was warm, and aside from his clothes, Jerry did not mind
the swim. After he had stroked along perhaps a third of the way, he
turned on his back. The light had disappeared from shore. He had a
moment's impulse to turn back, but was afraid she might be waiting
in the darkness to greet him with a laugh and an invitation to take
to the water again.
He turned once more and swam steadily across the current. But after
a little, once more he turned on his back, only kicking occasionally
to keep himself afloat. He fancied he had heard some noise that did
not belong with the night.
There it was again, that regular beat as of wood striking against
wood. He listened intently, trying to place the sound. Finally, it
dawned on him that it was a boat, rowed by means of a pair of loose
His mind worked quickly. It could not be the Boy Scout boat, for the
sound was not right for that. It could only be the man of the
island, "Lizzie's" father--she had as much as said he was away. At
any rate, Jerry decided, he would wait there and find out. If the
worst came to the worst he could always dive out of sight.
Nearer and nearer came the boat. Jerry lay in the water with only
his nose showing. He was too heavy-boned to be very good at
floating, but the barest movement of hands or feet kept him from
going under. At first he could make out nothing, but as his eyes
focused more sharply he distinguished a slow-moving shape against
the gray of the sky. It was barely twenty feet away, headed almost
directly at him.
A few noiseless strokes put him inside the boat's path, but when he
stopped paddling he realized to his horror that the boat had changed
direction and was cutting in toward the island. It was almost upon
him when he dived.
He was not quick enough. The landward oar caught him a flat blow
across his eyes. Blinded, dazed, his mouth full of water, he flung
up his arms. He had a vague sense of having caught hold of
something, and he held on. Through a sort of mist he heard a voice
"Hit a snag, John. Better be careful or you'll wreck the ship in
sight of harbor."
Little by little Jerry's head cleared and he realized that he had
caught hold of the stern of the boat. He could not see over the
edge, but he could tell that there were two people in the boat, both
men. They talked fitfully, but for the most part their voices came
to Jerry only as meaningless mumbles. Once more the dark outline of
Lost Island lay before him, and in Jerry's heart arose a new hope
that perhaps this time he would not come away empty-handed. The boat
grounded on the beach where he and Phil had stood only a few minutes
before. The man who had been at the oars jumped out and pulled the
boat well up on shore. Jerry, finding that he could touch bottom,
had let go and now stood well hidden in the water.
"You might as well wait here in the boat," said the one who had gone
ashore. "I won't be gone but a minute."
He moved up the bank. It was the same man Jerry had encountered
twice before on his island visits. But who was the man in the boat?
Jerry wished he dared come closer.
The minutes passed slowly, and the water did not feel as warm as it
had at first. He was greatly relieved when once more he heard the
rustle of someone coming through the tall grass. But though the
sound came nearer and nearer, Jerry, his nerves literally on end,
found the wait a long one. Would the man never get there?
But the delay was quickly explained. There were two instead of one
crunching across the beach, and the other stumbled as he walked and
would have fallen more than once had it not been for the supporting
arm of his companion. Jerry could have shouted from joy had he
dared, for some instinct told him that that swaying form belonged to
no one but his chum, Tod Fulton.
And then, in an instant, the mystery was all made clear--at least
for the instant. The man in the boat rose and struck a match so that
the other could see to help wobbly Tod to a seat. As the light
flared up full, Jerry had a good sight of the face of the man who
It was Mr. Fulton!
"TO-MORROW IS THE DAY!"
And then it was that Jerry saw that the temporary clearing of the
mystery only made things darker than ever. For, why should Tod be
rescued in this weird fashion? Why had the man refused to let Tod's
friends come on the island? And why, why had Mr. Fulton laughed at
Jerry's story--and yet followed his clue in this stealthy way?
Jerry, up to his nose in the water, and deeper than that in
perplexity, saw that the whole affair was really no longer the
mystery of Tod Fulton's disappearance, but the mystery of Lost
So, although he now felt safe from bodily harm, because of Mr.
Fulton's presence, he made no sign, but waited there a scant dozen
feet beyond the stern of the boat. He heard Tod answer a few low-
toned questions of his father, but could not make out either
question or answer. He saw Mr. Fulton pick up the oars and poise
them for a sweep, dropping the blades into the water to exchange a
last sentence with the shadow who stood waiting on the bank.
"Everything all right, then, Billings!"
"Varnish on the left plane cracked pretty badly, Mr. Fulton. I had
to scrape it off and refinish it. It really ought to have another
day to dry."
Jerry repeated, puzzled, to himself: "Left plane--what in thunder's
Billings went on:
"You won't forget to bring the timer. Elizabeth will get it at the
usual place if you can leave it by noon."
"It'll be there, Billings."
Not a word more was said as the boat was swung about and headed out
into the stream, save that Mr. Fulton chuckled:
"Old Billings rather had you worried, eh, son, until he gave you my
Tod laughed, so heartily that Jerry, who had watched his chance to
cut out into the wake of the boat and hold on behind with one hand,
could not himself forbear a little happy ripple.
"What was that?" exclaimed Mr. Fulton, a full minute after.
"I don't know," answered Tod. "I was waiting for it to come again.
Sounded like--only _he_ couldn't be here."
"It sounded like a laugh--and there's only one person, outside of a
billygoat, who's got a gurgle like that."
"Your wetting didn't tame you down any, did it? Who's the goat you
had in mind?"
"Jerry King--_well_, what in the world!"
Over the back of the boat clambered a dripping, wrathful figure.
"I'll be switched if I'm going to be dragged along at the tail of
this scow and be insulted any longer. I laugh like a billygoat, do
I? For two cents I'd scuttle the ship!"
But Jerry's anger was more put on than real, and under Mr. Fulton's
banter and Tod's grateful appreciation of the attempted rescue, he
soon calmed down.
"What was the matter with you back there on the island? We heard you
groaning as if you'd green-appled yourself double."
"Groaning? Me groaning? Huh! Say, next time you go bearding damsels
in distress and rescuing castaway fishermen, you learn how to tell
the difference between a bulldog who's whining to get out and get at
you, and a wounded hero. It's a good thing you didn't have a chance
to follow up that 'groan'--you'd have _groan_ wiser."
"One more like that, Tod," suggested Mr. Fulton wearily, "and I
think I'll take a hand myself."
"But why," Jerry wanted to know, "didn't you come back home right
away--if you weren't hurt?"
"Oh, but I was. You try going over that dam once and see if your
insides-out don't get pretty well mixed up. I got a terrific thump
on the back of the head when the boat turned turtle, and if I hadn't
had a leg under the seat, I'd be in Davy Jones' locker right now.
When I came to I didn't know whether I was me or the boat. I had
gallons of water in me and--and I think I swallowed a worm or two;
the bait can got tipped over--and all the worms were gone--
"But why did you stay----" Jerry began, feeling vaguely that Tod was
talking so much to keep him from asking questions. But he was not
allowed even to ask this one, for Mr. Fulton interrupted with:
"I got busy right away after you had told me about your Lost Island
clue, and soon got a message through to--to Mr. Billings there. When
he told me Tod was safe and sound, I thought I'd wait until I had
finished some important business I just couldn't leave. That's how
it was so late before I got here."
"Mr. Billings came and got you, didn't he?" remarked Jerry, trying
to keep the suspicion out of his voice. If they had a secret that
was none of his business, _he_ wouldn't pry.
"Yes," said Mr. Fulton, and made no further explanation.
"But there were two of you on the island after me, weren't there?
Who was the other hero?" Tod wanted to know.
"Where were you, that you knew there were two of us?"
"I was all doubled up in that little anteroom where the dog was--
doubled up laughing." Then he added hastily, thinking he had teased
poor Jerry far enough: "But I was locked in."
"Why locked in, if Mr. Billings had gone to bring your father?
Afraid you'd up and rescue yourself?" Jerry's tone was downright
"No, Jerry--you see, the island--that is," looking toward Mr. Fulton
as if for permission to go on, "that is, there's something going on
on Lost Island that Mr. Billings figures isn't anybody else's
business, and he didn't want to take chances of my nosing around."
"I see," said Jerry dryly. "So of course rather than row you across
to dry land himself he brought your father here to get you. It's all
as plain as the wart on a pumpkinhead's nose!"
"Now, Jerry, you're getting way up in the air without any cause.
I'll tell you this much, because I think you've got a right to know:
Mr. Billing's secret really is mine. Just as soon as I dare I'll
tell you all about it. But what became of your friend--if there
_were_ two of you?"
"I was so peeved that I forgot all about Phil. It's Phil Fulton----"
"What!" cried Tod. "Cousin Phil. Where is he?"
"Standing on the bank just opposite Lost Island and figuring out how
soon he ought to give me up for drowned or hand-axed by a savage
female. He may have gone for the sheriff by this time--or the
coroner. Better take me to shore here and I'll go back."
Mr. Fulton began pulling the boat toward shore. "How did he happen
to get into this?" he asked.
Jerry told him the whole story of the encounter with the Boy Scouts.
"They've pitched camp there, so I guess I'll see if they can dry me
out and put me up for the night," he finished.
As the boat neared shore Tod began to show signs of suppressed
excitement. Finally, as Jerry was about to jump out into the shallow
water, being already soaked through, Tod began coaxingly:
"Why couldn't I go on with Jerry, dad? You told me you'd let me go
camping with the bunch, don't you remember? And I promised Phil I'd
show him the best bass lake in the country----"
"I ought to take you back to town and let Doc Burgess look you over.
Maybe the bones are pressing on your brain where you bumped your
head. You act like it. But the fact is I _didn't_ want to go back to
Watertown--I ought to chase right down to Chester for that timer. It
was promised for to-morrow, and there isn't a minute to be lost.
There aren't any falls down this way, are there?" he asked with mock
"Come on, dad, say I can go!" begged Tod.
"We-l-l," hesitated Mr. Fulton, "suppose we say I'll let you stay
till morning--or night, rather. Then we'll see."
Jerry jumped out at this point and splashed his way to shore. He had
a feeling that the two might want to talk without being overheard.
Apparently he was right, as for a good five minutes the two
conversed in low tones. Jerry tried his best not to hear what was
said, but every now and then a sentence reached his ears. But it was
so much Greek as far as he was concerned.
He had walked inland a bit, finally striking the narrow path that
fishermen had cut along the top of the high bank. It swung back
toward the edge, cut off from view by a rank growth of willows. He
noticed that the boat had drifted downstream until it now stood
almost opposite him, and only a few feet from shore. Thus it was
that, as Mr. Fulton backed water with his left-hand oar and rammed
the nose of the boat toward the shelving beach, he heard one
complete sentence, distinct and understandable.
"It's up to you, Tod, to get them away. We can't afford any
complications at this stage of the game. To-morrow is the day!"
"Trust me, dad!" exclaimed Tod, going up and giving his father's
shoulder a squeeze. Jerry waited for no more. Bending low, he
scurried far down the path, so that Tod could have no suspicion that
his chum had overheard.
"Are you coming?" he shouted when he felt that he had gone far
"Hold up a second and I'll be with you. Good night, dad."
"Good night, Mr. Fulton," shouted Jerry in turn, then waited for
The journey to the Boy Scout camp was made in silence, for Jerry did
not feel that he dared ask any more questions, and Tod volunteered
no further explanation. Just outside the ring of light cast by the
deserted camp fire, however, Jerry halted and asked:
"Thought what you'll tell _them?_"
"Why, no. Just what I told you, Jerry."
"You can't--unless you tell them more. They'd never be satisfied
"I'm sorry, Jerry. I'd like to tell you the whole yarn, but--but you
see how it is."
"I don't but I guess I can wait. Only I do think you ought to have
something cooked up that would stop their questions. Will you leave
it to me?"
"Surest thing you know. What'll you say?"
"That's my secret. You play up to my leads, that's all you've got to
do. _Hello_, bunch!" he shouted.
"Wow! Hooray! There he is!" came cries of delight from the darkness
in the direction of the river, and a moment later the boys, who had
been almost frantic with worry over the non-appearance of Jerry,
came trooping up. When they found Tod with him, their joy was
unbounded. Their excited questions and exclamations of surprise gave
Jerry a much-needed instant in which to collect his story-inventing
wits. At last Phil quieted down his dancing mob and put the question
Jerry had been awaiting:
"How did you do it?"
"That's the funny part of it. I didn't. Tod's dad came along and did
it for me."
"I hope he beat up that old grouch----"
"Huh, you got another guess coming. They're old friends----yes," as
a cry of unbelief went up, "that's why Tod was in no hurry to be
rescued. His name's Billings, and Mr. Fulton used to be in business
with him. Is yet, isn't he, Tod?"
"Uhuh--I think so."
"Well, you may know there's fish around Lost Island. Billings is
what I call a fish hog. He don't want anybody to know about the
place--wants it all for himself. Tod drifts onto the island and the
man can't very well throw _him_ off, half drowned as he is. Then,
when he gets the water out of Tod, all but his brain, he finds it's
the son of his partner, and he can't very well throw him off _then_.
There's a girl on that mound out there, and she comes in with a
string of the biggest fish you ever saw. You couldn't drive Tod off
with a club after that. After the fish, I mean, not the girl. He
gets a message to his father, and makes his plans to stay there all
summer, but dad comes down to-night and spoils his plans by dragging
him off. He kind of thinks he doesn't want all the fish dragged out
by the tails--he likes to hook a few big ones himself. I'd got out
into the middle of the Plum when I heard the sound of prodigious
weeping--it was Tod, saying a last farewell to the big fishes--and
the little girl.
"So I swam back. And here he is and here I am, and we're both
pledged not to go back on Lost Island."
"Righto!" cried Tod, in great relief, Jerry could plainly see. "And
dad asked me to coax you chaps to keep away from old Billings--he's
a regular bear, anyway. But to make up for that, to-morrow I'm going
to take you to the swellest pickerel lake you ever laid eyes on."
"You mean _bass_ lake, don't you?" asked Jerry maliciously.
"Pickerel and bass," agreed Tod without an instant's hesitation.
"Let's turn in; we want to make an early start."
It was late, however, before the camp was finally quiet, for someone
started a story, and that brought on another and another, till half
of the Scouts fell asleep sitting bolt upright.
But as one lone boy, the last awake, rolled near the fire in his
borrowed blanket, he chuckled knowingly to himself and said:
"Foxy old Tod! Dad sure can 'trust' him. But I'm just going to be
curious enough to block his little game so far as I'm concerned.
_I'm_ going to stick around!"
A MID-AIR MIRACLE
Jerry had a hard time next morning explaining just why he couldn't
go along on the proposed fishing trip. Tod was inclined to accept
his excuses at face value, but Dave and Frank could not understand
why Jerry should so suddenly about-face in his notions. Just the day
before he had talked as if he was prepared to stay a week. But his
promise of a speedy return--with his own fishing tackle--finally
silenced their grumblings, especially when he agreed to make their
peace with two mothers who would be asking some pretty hard
questions on their own return.
But Jerry was not to get away without taking part in an incident
that almost provided a disagreeable end for the adventure. It was
while they were all at breakfast. Tod had been giving a glorious
account of the thrilling sport he had enjoyed on his last trip to
the bass lake he promised to guide them to. Suddenly, in the midst
of a sentence, he stopped dead. His jaw dropped. He positively
"_There she is!_"
Then his face became blank. After a hasty glance about the circle of
astonished faces, he went on with his fish story. But he was not
allowed to go far.
It was Phil, taking a cousin's rights, who put the sharp question.
"Is your mind wandering, or what? 'There she is!' Who is _she_--and
where? We don't want to hear your old fish yarn anyway."
"I guess he's still thinking of that island girl," suggested Jerry,
realizing that Tod had put himself into some kind of a hole, and
wishing to help his chum out. But Phil was not to be so easily
"There's something mighty queer about this whole proposition. That
yarn of yours last night, Jerry, didn't sit very easy on my pillow,
and it doesn't rest very easy on my breakfast, either. What's the
idea? What you trying to hide, you two?"
"Nothing," said Tod, and Jerry repeated the word.
"Nothing! You make me tired. Now, out with it. I swam across that
creek last night in my clothes on account of you, and I figure
you've got a right to tell me why."
"And I figure you've got a right to believe me when I told you why
"You didn't. You left it to Jerry to cook up a story that would keep
us from asking questions. And now you yell out, 'There she is!' and
sit there gaping at the sky, with your mouth wide open as if you
expected a crow to lay an egg on your tongue. What does it all
"It means I'm still capable of taking care of my own business!"
"Oh--very well. After this I'll let you."
It was an uncomfortable group that sat about the rest of the
breakfast, even after Tod had begged his cousin's pardon for
ungrateful loss of temper, and Phil had said that it was "all
Jerry was afraid for awhile that the fishing trip would be called
off, but in the boisterous horseplay that went with the washing of
the scanty dishes, all differences were forgotten, especially when
Phil, scuffling in friendly fashion, put Tod down on his back and
pulled that squirming wrestler's nose till he shouted "Enough!"
It was with feelings of mingled amusement and relief that Jerry
watched the noisy crowd pile into the two boats, the Scout boat and
the _Big Four_, and paddle downstream, soon to be lost sight of
behind Lost Island. His satisfaction was somewhat lessened by the
fact that Phil had felt it necessary that one of their number remain
behind to stand guard over the camp, but Jerry was sure that he
would have no great trouble in keeping away from Frank Willis,
trusting that "Budge" would live up to his reputation.
He began well, for hardly was the camp deserted before he went back
to his blankets. "Now some folks like fishing," he yawned, "and I do
too when the fish don't bite too fast; but I like sleep. It's good
for what ails you, and it's good if nothing ails you. Take it in
regular doses or between meals--it always straightens you out."
Jerry did not argue with him. A few minutes later his regular
breathing told the world at large and Jerry in particular that so
far as one Budge was concerned the coast was clear.
As a matter of fact, Jerry did not feel that there would be anything
to see until late in the afternoon at best. The conversation between
Mr. Fulton and the man Billings had seemed to indicate that nothing
out of the ordinary was to happen that day, but Mr. Fulton's parting
words to Tod gave Jerry hope. "This is the day!" he had said.
At any rate, he slipped out of camp and scouted about for a
comfortable spot in which to keep an eye on Lost Island. But after
he had sat there a half hour, he began to have twinges of the same
disease that afflicted Budge and he saw that it would be necessary
for him to move about a bit in order to stay awake. He regretted
having left the camp without a fishing pole; that would at least
give him something to do to pass the time away. With something like
that in mind he started back toward the shady place where he had
left Budge snoozing.
But as the walk started his blood circulating again, and his brain
became active once more, he had a new idea. "Old Tod's a sly fox,"
he said to himself. "He's not going to be among the missing when the
fun is on. He's going to take them down to his bass lake, and then
he's going to slip away. He'll have to come back by land, so he'll
probably take them to Last Shot Lake. It'll take them an hour to get
there, but he can come back afoot in half that time if he's in a
hurry--and I guess he is. He most likely will hang around half an
hour before he thinks it's safe to make his getaway. That's two
hours all told. In some fifteen or twenty minutes he ought to come
skulking along through the woods.
"There's that hill yonder--it ought to make a good spy-post. Little
Jerry bids these parts a fond adieu."
Something like a strong quarter of a mile down the river, and
perhaps that much inland, stood a lonesome hill, almost bare of
trees save a clump of perhaps a dozen on the very summit. It was an
ideal hiding place. Leaving the road after cutting through the river
timber and following it a few hundred yards, he plunged into a dense
growth of scrub oak and hazel brush that extended almost to the base
of his hill.
He came to one bare spot, perhaps an acre in extent, and was about
to leave the shelter of the brush for the comparatively easy going
of the weedy grass, when, almost opposite him, he saw a figure
emerge from the trees.
At first he thought it was Tod, and he chuckled to himself as he
thought how quickly his guess had been proved true. But when a
second stepped out close behind the first, Jerry realized that
neither one was his friend, even before he noticed that both were
A pair of hunters, no doubt, Jerry surmised, although he wondered
idly what they would be hunting at this season of the year. Rabbits
were "wormy" and the law prohibited the shooting of almost
everything else. But "City hunters," Jerry derided, "from their
clothes. They think bluejays and crows are good sport."
That the hunters were looking for birds was evident, for they kept
their eyes turned toward the tree-tops. Thus it was that they did
not see Jerry crouching in the brush a scant dozen feet from where
they broke into the woods again. He was near enough to overhear them
perfectly, but not a word could he understand, for they were talking
very earnestly together in some outlandish tongue that, as Jerry
said, made him seasick to try to follow. But as they talked they
pointed excitedly, first toward the sky and then straight ahead, and
that part of their conversation was perfectly understandable to the
A sudden wild thought entered his mind. Here were two hunters out in
the woods at a time when no real sportsmen carried anything but rods
and landing nets. The mystery of their purpose reminded him of
another mystery, and immediately his mind connected the two, even
before he noticed the constant recurrence of a word that sounded
much as a foreigner would pronounce "Lost Island." Jerry realized,
even as the thought passed through his mind, that it was the wildest
kind of guess, but it was enough to set him stealthily picking his
way through the brush in the wake of the two.
He saw, just in time to avoid running smack into them, that just
before they reached the road, although now out of the heavier woods,
they had stopped and were talking together more excitedly than ever.
Something had happened, Jerry realized at once, but he could not
puzzle out what it was, although he looked and listened as intently
as they seemed to be doing. He was about to give it up in disgust,
when he became conscious of a queer droning noise, as of a swarm of
bees, or a distant threshing machine. Strangely, the sound did not
seem to be coming from the woods or fields about him, but from the
blank sky itself.
Then he remembered how Tod had acted at breakfast--how he too, like
these men, had been apparently staring into space. Jerry read the
newspapers; he was an eager student of one of the scientific
magazines; he had sat in Mr. Fulton's basement workshop and listened
to many a discussion of the latest wonders of invention. But even
then he did not at once realize that the sound he had been hearing
really came from the sky, and that the purring noise was the whir of
the propellers of an aeroplane.
He looked for a full minute at the soaring speck against the blue
sky before he exclaimed aloud. "I'll be darned--an airship!"
Fortunately, the two men were too engaged to pay any attention to
sounds right beside them. But Jerry glanced hastily in their
direction as he dropped back into the shelter of a big clump of
elderberry. Then he looked again. There could be no doubt the two
were following the flight of the aeroplane. They stepped off a few
feet to the right and Jerry could see only their shoulders and heads
above the bushes. He was curious to see better what they were doing,
but he dared not cross the open ground between. So instead he turned
his attention again to the soaring man-bird.
It was coming closer. It swung down lower and circled in over Lost
Island, barely a hundred feet above the tree-tops. A sudden cry from
the two men drew his eager eyes away from the approaching aircraft,
but he looked back just in time to witness a wonderful sight.
Motionless, poised like a soaring hawk, the aeroplane, its propeller
flashing in the sunlight, hung over Lost Island. For fully six
seconds it remained there, not moving an inch. Suddenly it lurched,
dropped half the distance to the trees, the yellow planes snapping
like gun-shots. It looked as if it would be wrecked, and Jerry
started forward as if to go to the rescue. In the half instant he
had looked away, the machine had righted and purring like an
elephant-size pussy, was darting out over the water. A cheer sounded
faintly from Lost Island; Jerry wanted to cheer himself.
Now he heard another kind of sound, but this time there was no doubt
in his mind as to its source. There could be no mistaking the put-
put-put of a single cylinder motor boat. It was coming up Plum Run,
probably from the "city"--Chester. He could see it swinging around
into the channel from behind Lost Island. It crept close along
shore, and with a final "put!" came to a stop just where the boat
had landed the night before with Mr. Fulton. Three men crowded
forward and jumped to shore; one of them, Jerry could have sworn,
was Mr. Fulton himself.
As if the pilot of the aeroplane had been waiting for their coming
he circled back toward the island. He had climbed far into the blue,
but came down a steep slant that brought him within two hundred feet
of earth almost before one could gather his wits to measure the
terrific drop. Out across Plum Run he swept in a wide circle, and
Jerry saw that the aeroplane would pass almost directly overhead.
He had forgotten all about the two men by this time, so keen was his
interest in the daring aviator. He certainly had nerve, to go on
with his flight after the accident that had so nearly ended his
career only a minute back.
And then Jerry was treated to a sight that made him rub his eyes in
amazement. The accident was repeated--it had been no accident. Now
only a hundred feet up, directly above him, the big machine seemed
to quiver with a sudden increase or change of power. A rasping, ear-
racking sound--a spurt of blue vapor--and the aeroplane did what no
other flying machine had ever done before; it stopped stock-still in
Jerry could see every detail of the big machine, its glistening
canvas, its polished aluminum motor and taut wires and braces. He
could even see the pilot, leaning far over to one side, a smile of
satisfaction on his face. Jerry could hardly resist shouting a word
of greeting to the bold aeronaut.
He did shout, but it was a cry of horror, for all in a moment, a
streak of flame seemed to leap out of the motor, there was a fearful
hiss of escaping gas, a report that fairly shook the tree-tops, and
with planes crumpling under the tremendous pressure of the air
rushing past as it fell, the aeroplane plunged to earth. Yet, even
in his intense excitement, Jerry, as he raced to where the flaming
machine had fallen, caught at a fleeting impression: There had been
two explosions, and the first seemed to come from close beside him.
The aeroplane had come to earth a good hundred yards away, and Jerry
made all speed in that direction. He passed the spot where the two
men had been standing--they were still there, and seemed in no hurry
to go to the rescue. One of them, Jerry noticed as he rushed by,
shouting "Quick!" had just thrown his gun under his arm, but the
action did not impress the boy at the time as having any
He raced on, the flaming wreck now in sight. He fairly flew through
the last dense thicket and jumped out, just in time to collide with
another hurrying figure. When the two picked themselves up, Jerry
saw that it was Tod.
"Hurry, Jerry," he cried. "I'm afraid that poor Billings is killed!"
AN EMPTY RIFLE SHELL
In that few steps till they reached the smoking mass of wreckage,
many things became clear to Jerry. He realized that Lost Island had
been merely a building ground for Mr. Fulton's experiments in
aeronautics, that this sorry looking ruin was his invention. He
remembered the long, low shed on the island--that was the workshop.
Then they were at the verge of the twisted and wrecked machine,
frantically tugging at rods and splintered wood in an effort to get
at the unconscious form covered by the debris. Fortunately there was
no great weight to lift, and there was really no fire once the smoke
of the explosion had cleared away. In a very few seconds they had
dragged the man clear and laid him out flat on his back in a grassy
spot, where Tod remained to fan the man's face while Jerry hurried
toward camp for water. Blackened and bleeding as the man was, Jerry
readily recognized him as Billings.
He found Budge startled by the explosion and hesitating about
leaving the camp unguarded to go to the rescue. Jerry's shouted
command brought him galloping across the field with a pail of water,
and the two boys made good speed on the way back. They found the man
still unconscious but beginning to writhe about in pain.
"I think his leg's broken," cried Tod, his face white with the
strain of helpless waiting. "From the way he doubles up every little
bit I think he must be hurt inside. The cuts that are bleeding don't
seem to be very bad. Let me have the water."
"Do you suppose we really ought to----" began Jerry, but paused, for
Budge had answered his question effectually.
Without a word he stooped over the moaning man. Outer clothes were
taken off in a trice. Without jarring the man about, almost without
moving him, garment by garment Budge gradually removed, replaced,
examined, until every part of the man's anatomy had been looked
over. Finally he straightened up, and for the first time the other
two, who had stood helplessly by, saw how set and white the young
Scout's face was.
"Leg's broken all right," he said slowly. "So's his arm--and at
least two ribs. Maybe more. Side's pretty badly torn and I think
he's bleeding internally. We've got to get a doctor without a
second's loss of time. Tod, you chase along like a good fellow and
see how quick you can get to a telephone. Jerry, lend a hand here
and we'll fix a splint for his leg--lucky it's fractured below the
knee or we'd have a time. I don't know whether I can do anything for
his ribs or not. Hustle up, Tod--what you standing there gaping
"Where--where'd you learn to do things like that?" blurted Tod, as
he started away.
"What? This?" in surprise. "Every Scout knows how to do simple
things like this." And he turned back to his bandaging, for he had
brought along the camp kit, with its gauze and cotton. Out came his
big jackknife and he cut a thumb-sized willow wand, which he split
and trimmed. In less than no time he had snapped the bone back into
place and wound a professional looking bandage about the home-made
splint. He was just about to turn his attention to the injured side
when a great crackling in the brush caused both boys to turn.
Three men came bounding across the open space, the foremost, Mr.
"Is he alive?" he exclaimed before he recognized the two boys.
"Yes," answered Jerry, "but he's hurt pretty bad--inside, Budge
says. Tod just----"
"Tod! He here? Did he go after a doctor?"
"Here he comes now. Did you get the doctor?" shouted Budge and Jerry
"I got his office. It's our own Doctor Burgess. I got Mrs. Burgess
and she says the doctor is out this way, and she'll get him by
telephone--she can locate him better than I could. He ought to be
here most any minute. I'm to watch for him along the road." Tod
darted back toward the line of bushes that marked the highway.
But it was a good half hour before a shout proclaimed the coming of
the doctor, and in that time Budge had had a chance to show more
evidences of his Scout training. After a hurried trip back to camp
he fashioned bandages that held the broken ribs in place; he bound
the scalp wound neatly, and stopped the flow of blood from an ugly
scratch on the man's thigh. The others stood about, helping only as
he directed. It was with a wholesome respect that they eyed him when
the job was finished.
But it took the doctor to sum their admiration up in one crisp
"Bully--couldn't have done it better myself."
He felt about gently and at last straightened up and remarked:
"He's good enough to move, but not very far. Where's the nearest
"Half a mile, nearly," answered Tod.
"I think he'd want to be taken--home," Mr. Fulton said hesitatingly.
"If we could move him to the river bank I guess we could get him
across all right--to Lost Island, you know. His daughter's there to
"Lost Island?" questioned the doctor, raising his eyebrows. "We-l-l--
Son, can you make a stretcher?" turning to Budge.
"Come on, Jerry. Back in a minute," called Budge over his shoulder
to the doctor.
Jerry followed to the Scout camp, where Budge caught up a pair of
stout saplings that had been cut for tent poles but had not been
"Grab up a couple blankets," he directed, setting off again through
the brush on a run. Jerry was well out of breath, having contrived
to trip himself twice over the trailing blankets, when he finally
rejoined the group. Budge reached out for the blankets and soon had
a practical stretcher made, onto which the injured man was gently
lifted. Mr. Fulton and one of the strangers took hold each of an end
and they set out directly for the bank of Plum Run.
For the first time Jerry had a chance to observe the two who had
come with Tod's father. Heavy-set, rather stolid chaps they were,
just beginning to show a paunch, and gray about the temples. They
looked good-natured enough but gave the impression of being set in
their ways, a judgment Jerry had no occasion to change later. They
spoke with an odd sort of accent but were evidently used to
conversing in English, although the first glance told that they were
They were plainly but expensively dressed; they looked like men of
wealth rather than like business men. They had come to see Mr.
Fulton's invention tried out, Jerry surmised, and, if it proved
successful, perhaps to buy it. Those two men he had seen with the
rifles were foreigners too, but of a different station in life and,
Jerry was sure, belonging under a different flag.
They were soon down to the water's edge, where was moored the launch
Jerry had heard chugging over to the island not long before.
Blankets were brought from the Scout camp and piled on the launch
floor to make a comfortable bed, and poor Billings was carefully
lifted from the stretcher and laid in the boat. The doctor and Mr.
Fulton got in. The two men remained on the bank. Mr. Fulton looked
at them questioningly, but their heavy faces gave no sign. So he
"You will wait for me, I trust! I don't want you to feel that this--
accident----" he hesitated over the word--"makes the scheme a
failure. There is something about it all that I can't understand,
but a close examination may reveal----"
"Ah, yes," answered the shorter of the two, "we will want to be just
as sure of the failure as we insisted on being of the success. But
you understand of course that we feel--ah--feel considerably--ah--
disappointed in the trial flight. Oh, yes, we will wait for you. You
will not be long?"
"Just long enough for the doctor to find out what needs to be done.
That slim youngster there is my son Tod. He knows almost as much
about my--about _it_ as I do. Tod, you take care of Mr. Lewis and
Mr. Harris till I come back. You'd best stay close to the
_Skyrocket_; we don't want to take any chances, you know."
All the time he had been talking he had been tinkering with the
motor, which was having a little balky spell. At his last words
Jerry spoke up hastily:
"I'll chase over and keep an eye on the _Skyrocket_ while the rest
of you take your time," and he hurried off, adding to himself:
"_Skyrocket's_ a good name, 'cause it sure went up in a blaze of
glory, and came down like the burnt stick." But he had other things
in mind besides the mere watching of the wreck. At Mr. Fulton's
hesitation over the word "accident" a picture had popped into his
mind--two men carrying rifles and peering up over the tree-tops.
He was destined to see them again, for as he crossed the road he
heard a crackling in the underbrush of someone in hasty retreat. He
blamed his thoughtlessness in whistling as he ran along; perhaps he
might have caught them red-handed if he had been careful. As it was,
he saw the two scurrying toward the south, whereas before they had
been going northward.
He did not go directly to the fallen aeroplane. Instead he picked
his way carefully over the route the men had followed just after the
explosion, stooping low and examining every spear of grass. His
search was quickly rewarded. Just where the trampled turf showed
that the two men had stood for some time he pounced upon a powder-
blackened cartridge, bigger than any rifle shell he had ever seen
before, even in his uncle's old Springfield. That was all, but it
was enough to confirm his suspicions.
He walked over to the charred and twisted remains of the
_Skyrocket_, fighting down his strong impulse to pry into the thing
and see if he could discover the secret of its astounding exploits
before the crash came. It did not take more than the most fleeting
glance to see, even with his limited knowledge of flying machines,
that this one was very much different from the others. He was glad
when the others came up to save him from yielding to his curiosity.
Tod and the two men were deep in a discussion of Mr. Fulton's
invention, but Jerry gained little by that, as most of the technical
terms were so much Greek to him. Tod talked like a young mechanical
genius--or a first-class parrot. The two men listened to his glowing
praises in no little amusement, venturing a word now and then just
to egg the boy on--though he needed none.
Jerry waited for a chance to break in forcibly. "I say, Tod." he
interrupted a wild explanation of the theory of the differential, "I
expect I'd better chase along back home. I can just catch the
interurban if I cut loose now. I--I want to hike back and spread the
good news that you aren't decorating a watery grave."
"I s'pose I'll have to stay here and help the Scouts mount guard
over the relics here--when will you be back?"
"You can come back with dad. He'll probably come back to Watertown
to-night, after he takes these two gentlemen to Chester in the
launch. He'll probably want you to help him bring down some
"You think he'll try to patch up the _Skyrocket?_" asked Jerry.
"Doesn't look hardly worth while."
"Worth while!" exploded Tod. "Is a half million dollars worth
while?" Then he repented having spoken out so freely, reminded by
the sharp glances of the two men. "Oh, Jerry's all right," he
apologized. "Dad thinks as much of him as he does of me."
"Well, I'll be off," said Jerry hurriedly. "Tell your father I'll
see him either to-night or early in the morning--and that I've got
something important to tell him."
"About the _Skyrocket?_" demanded Tod eagerly, but Jerry only shook
his head teasingly and began to hurry across the fields and woods to
the interurban tracks.
He was lucky, for hardly had he reached the road crossing before the
familiar whistle sounded down the track. The motorman toot-tooted
for him to get off the rails, as this was not a regular stop, but
Jerry stood his ground and finally the man relented at the last
minute and threw on the brakes.
Watertown reached, Jerry could not hold his good news till he got
home, but to every one he met he shouted the glad word that Tod
Fulton had been found, alive and uninjured. The open disbelief with
which his announcement was met gave him a lot of secret
satisfaction. In fact, he could hardly restrain an occasional, "I
told you so." His mother was the only one to whom he allowed himself
to use that phrase, but then, he _had_ told her.
He could hardly wait until Mr. Fulton should return from Chester, so
eager was he to tell of his discovery there in the woods, but the
slow day passed, and bedtime came without any sign of a light in the
big house down the street. Reluctantly he finally went up to his
room, but for a long time he sat with his nose flattened out on the
window pane, watching patiently.
At last he was rewarded. Out of the gloom of the Fulton house he saw
a tiny point of light spring, followed by a flood of radiance across
"What are you doing, son?" came a deep masculine voice from the
sitting room. "Thought you had gone to bed hours ago."
"Mr. Fulton just came home, pa, and Tod told me to tell him----"
"Guess it'll keep till morning, won't it? Besides, I expect Tod saw
his father later than you did."
"I'll be right back, dad----" this from just outside the kitchen
door. "It's just awfully important----"
The door banged to just then. Mr. Ring chuckled. He believed in
letting boys alone.
Jerry sped down the dark walk and jabbed vigorously at the special
doorbell, hurried a little bit by the fact that as he came through
the wide gate he had a feeling that the big gateposts did not cause
all the shadow he passed through. "I'm getting nervous since I saw
those two men to-day," he reminded himself. "I'll soon be afraid of
my own shadow--but I hope it doesn't take to whispering too."
Mr. Fulton came hurrying to the door, a big look of relief on his
face when he saw who it was.
"I couldn't wait till morning, Mr. Fulton. I just had to tell you I
knew the _Skyrocket_ didn't fall of its own free will. I saw two men
skulking in the woods. They both carried big rifles. I was sure I
heard one of them go off just before the explosion came, and on the
ground where they stood I found _this!_"
He handed Mr. Fulton the rifle shell.
"Good boy!" exclaimed the man, almost as excited as the youngster.
"I'm beginning to see daylight. You keep all this under your hat,
sonny, and come over as early in the morning as you can. We'll talk
it over then, after I've had a chance to sleep on _this_." He
indicated the cartridge. "Tell me, though--was one of the men a
tall, lean chap with a sabre scar on his jaw----"
"They were both heavy-set, scowly looking----" "Hm. That makes it
all tangled again. Well, it may look clearer in the morning. Chase
along, Jerry; I've got a busy night's work ahead of me. No," he
added as Jerry began to speak, "you couldn't help me any. Not to-
night. To-morrow you can."
Jerry wanted to tell him about the whispering shadows, but hesitated
because it sounded so foolish. His heart skipped a beat or two as he
drew near the tall posts, but this time the gateway was as silent as
the night about him.
"Some little imaginer I am," he laughed to himself as he skipped
back into the house.
THE GAME BEGINS
The sun was not up earlier next morning than Jerry Ring. However, he
waited till after breakfast before going over to rouse Mr. Fulton,
Who would, he knew, sleep later after his strenuous night's work. He
spent the time in an impatient arrangement and rearrangement of his
fishing tackle, for he had a feeling in his bones that this visit to
Lost Island might be more than a one-day affair.
Mrs. Ring finally appeared on the scene, to tease him over his early
rising. "I don't need to look for the fishing tackle when you get up
ahead of me; I know it's there."
But Jerry only grinned. His mother was a good pal, who never spoiled
any of his fun without having a mighty good reason. Now he saw her
setting about fixing up a substantial lunch, and he knew that there
would be no coaxing necessary to gain her consent to his trip. He
slipped up behind her unawares and kissed her smackingly on the back
of the neck--perhaps that was one reason she was such a good pal.
Breakfast over, Jerry caught up his pole and tackle box and hustled
down the street. The Fulton house looked silent and deserted, he
thought, as he reached up to push the secret button. The loud b-r-r-
r echoed hollowly through the big house; Jerry sat down on the step
to await the opening of the door, for he figured Mr. Fulton would be
slow in waking up. But the minute he had allowed stretched into two,
so he reached up and gave the button another vigorous dig. Still
there was no response. Puzzled, he held the button down for fully a
minute, the bell making enough racket to wake the dead. Vaguely
alarmed, Jerry waited. No one came. Putting his mouth to the
keyhole, he shouted: "Mr. Fulton--wake up--it's Jerry!"
Then he put his ear against the door and listened for the footsteps
he was sure would respond to his call. Silence profound. Again he
shouted and listened. And then came a response that set him
frantically tugging at the door--his name called, faintly, as if
from a great distance.
But the door did not yield. Jerry bethought himself of a lockless
window off the back porch roof, which he and Tod had used more than
once in time of need. He quickly shinned up the post and swung
himself up by means of the tin gutter. In through the window,
through the long hall and down the stairway he plunged, instinct
taking him toward Mr. Fulton's bedroom-study. The door stood ajar.
He pushed it open and looked in. A fearful sight met his eyes.
On the bed, where he lay half undressed on top of the covers, was
Mr. Fulton, blood streaming down his battered face. "What has
happened?" gasped Jerry, seeing that the man's eyes were open. But
there was no answer, and he saw that Mr. Fulton was too dazed to
give any account of the events that had left him so befuddled. Jerry
got water and bathed and dressed the deep cuts and bruises as best
he could. The shock of the cold water restored the man's faculties
in some measure and he finally managed a coherent statement.
"It was your two friends, I guess. They broke in on me while I was
working downstairs. One stood guard over me while the other
ransacked the house. Then, when they couldn't find anything, they
tried to force me to tell where my papers were hid. That was when I
rebelled, and they pretty near did for me. I put up a pretty good
scrap for a while, until one of them got a nasty twist on my arm. I
guess the shoulder's dislocated; I can't move it. But I guess I left
a few marks myself--that's why they were so rough. But all they got
was the satisfaction of beating me up."
"I wish I knew what it was all about," remarked Jerry. "I feel like
a fellow at a moving picture show who came in about the middle of
the reel. And there's nobody to tell me what happened before."
"I guess there's no harm in telling _you_--now. You see, Jerry, the
big outstanding feature of the war across the water has been the
work done by two recent inventions, the submarine and the aeroplane.
That set me thinking. The water isn't deep enough around here to do
much experimenting with submarines, but there's dead oodles of air.
So aeroplanes it had to be. Now, the aircraft have been a distinct
disappointment, except as scouting helps, because the high speed of
the aeroplanes makes accurate bomb-dropping almost impossible.
"That was my starter. If I could perfect some means of stopping a
machine in mid-flight, just long enough to drop a hundred pounds of
destruction overboard with a ninety per cent chance of hitting the
mark, I had it. Well, I got it. The _Skyrocket_ is the first
aeroplane that can stop dead still--or was. I showed my model to the
proper government officials, but even after I had cut my way through
endless red tape I found only a cold ear and no welcome at all. I
think the official I talked to had a pet invention of his own.
"At any rate I was plumb disgusted. I finally took my idea to the
business agent of a foreign power--and the reception I got almost
took me off my feet. Meet me halfway! They pretty near hounded me to
death till I finally consented to give them an option on the thing,
But then my troubles began. The man who had made the deal with me
had to step aside for a couple of old fogies who can't grasp
anything they can't see or handle. I was about disgusted, when a
friend introduced me to a friend of his, who hinted that there were
other markets where the pay was better. The upshot of it was that I
gave this man--as agent of course for _his_ government--a second
option on the invention to hold good if no deal was made with the
first party before August first, when option number one expires.
"Mr. Lewis and Mr. Harris represent--well, the name of the country
doesn't make any difference, but they hold the first option. They
are cautious; they won't buy unless they can see a complete machine
that works perfectly. The others are willing to buy the idea
outright, just as it stands.
"Of course I have no proof that the two men you saw--and they are
the same I am sure as the two who burglarized me--have anything to
do with my invention, but I'd venture a guess that their aim is to
prevent my being able to demonstrate my machine before August first.
What do you think?"
"I think we'd better be getting busy."
"There's nothing to do. Of course, I don't lose any money by it--I
gain some. But I hate to sell my idea to a gang of cutthroats and
thieves. I resent being black-handed into a thing like that. But
with Billings laid out, the _Skyrocket_ wrecked and myself all
binged up, there's little chance. I suppose I could get a lot of
mechanics and turn out a new plane in time, but I don't know where I
could get men I could trust. Like as not those two villains, or
their employer, would manage to get at least one of their crew into
the camp, and there'd be a real tragedy before we got through."
"I tell you what," suggested Jerry. "If you feel strong enough to
manage it, you come over to the house and let ma get you some
breakfast. Then you'll feel a little more hopeful--ma's breakfasts
always work that way," he said loyally. "There is bound to be a way
out of this mix-up, and we'll find it or know the reason why."
Over a savory pile of pancakes Mr. Fulton did grow more hopeful,
especially when Jerry began to outline a scheme that had been
growing in his mind. He began by asking questions.
"Do you have to have such skilled mechanics to make those repairs?"
"Well, no, not as long as I have skilled eyes to oversee the job. A
good deal of it is just dub work. Most anybody could do it if he was
told how. I could do the directing easy enough; but I'm not left-
handed. However, I'll chase downtown and let Doc Burgess look me
over; maybe my shoulder isn't as bad as it feels. But I'm afraid my
right arm is out of the fight for at least a couple of weeks--and
there's just two weeks between now and August first. I'd not be much
good except as a boss, and a boss isn't much good without somebody
to stand over. So there you are, right back where we started."
"Not on your life! We're a mile ahead, and almost out of the woods.
If you can boss dubs, and get anything out of them, why I know where
you can get at least nine of them, and they're all to be trusted--
"Tod could help a lot, and I suppose you are one of the dubs, but
where are the rest?"
"Phil Fulton and his Boy Scouts----"
"My nephew, you mean, from Chester? I suppose I could get him, but
just what are these Boy Scouts?"
"You've been so interested in your experiments that you don't know
what the rest of the world is doing. Never heard of the Boy Scouts?"
Jerry, secure in his own recent knowledge, was openly scornful.
"Oh, yes, now that you remind me, I do remember of reading about
some red-blooded boy organization--a little too vigorous for chaps
like you and Tod, eh?" he teased.
"You'll see what happens before the summer is ended. But that isn't
helping _us_ out any, now. Phil's patrol is down there with Tod
right this minute, and I bet you they know a thing or two about
mechanics. That seems to be their specialty--knowing something about
most everything. I'm mighty sure that if you tell us what to do, we
can do it. We may not know a lot about the why of it, but we're
strong on following instructions."
"I'd be willing to take a chance on you fellows if it wasn't for the
time. The _Skyrocket's_ a complete wreck. It took Billings a good
many times two weeks to build her up in the first place----"
"But you're not losing anything. The boys would be tickled to death
to tackle it, and if we do lose out finally, why we've lost nothing
but the time. It's like a big game----"
"Yes," observed Mr. Fulton dryly. "A big game, with the handicaps
all against us. If we win, we lose money, and we have the pleasant
chance of getting knocked over the head most any night."
"But that isn't the idea. A set of foreigners are trying to force
some free-born Americans to do something we don't want to do. Are we
going to let them?"
"Not by a jugfull!" exclaimed Mr. Fulton, getting up painfully from
his chair. "I'll go on down to the doctor--I expect I should have
first thing, before I started to stiffen up. You go ahead to Lost
Island, and see what can be done toward picking up the pieces and
taking the _Skyrocket_ over to the island. If there are enough
unbroken pieces we may have a chance. I'll be along by noon."
He hobbled down the street and Jerry, after telling his mother what
had happened, and getting reluctant consent to his extended absence,
gathered together a few necessaries and made all speed for the
interurban. There was no temptation to go to sleep this time, for
his thoughts were racing madly ahead to the exciting plan to beat
the schemers who had wrecked the _Skyrocket_. At the same time he
was conscious of a disappointed feeling in his heart; why could it
not have been the United States that had bought the invention? That
would have made the fight really worth while. For, to tell the
truth, the two unenthusiastic owners of the first option did not
appeal to him much more than did the others.
He found the whole Boy Scout crew gathered about the _Skyrocket_,
having given up a perfectly wonderful fishing trip to guard the
airship. Jerry quickly told the story of the morning's events to
Phil, interrupted at every other sentence by the rest of the excited
Scouts. The whole affair appealed to their imaginations, and when he
came to the proposition he had made Mr. Fulton, there was no doubt
of their backing up his offer.
"Let's get busy!" shouted Dick Garrett, Assistant Patrol Leader. "We
ought to be all ready to move across by the time Mr. Fulton gets
And he started toward the wreck as if to tear the thing apart with
his bare hands and carry it piecemeal to the banks of the Plum.
"We won't get far, that way, Dick," observed Phil. "First of all we
want a plan of action. And before that, we need to investigate, to
see just how much damage has been done and how big the pieces are
going to be that we'll have to carry."
"But we don't know the first thing about how the contraption works,"
objected Dick, somewhat to Jerry's satisfaction, for there was a
little jealous thought in his heart that Phil would naturally try to
take away from him the leadership in the plan. But Phil soon set his
mind at rest.
"We don't need to know how it works. All we need to know is whether
we have to break it apart or if we can carry it down mostly in one
piece. First, though, we've got to organize ourselves. Jerry's the
boss of this gang, and as Patrol Leader I propose to be straw-boss.
Anybody got any objections? No? Well, then, Boss Jerry, what's
Much pleased, Jerry thought over plans. A workable one quickly came
to him. "First of all we'll follow out your idea, Phil. Let's all
get around it and see if we can lift it all together. Dave, you
catch hold of that rod sticking out in front of you--it won't bite.
Give him a hand, Budge. All right, everybody! Raise her easy--_so_."
To their unbounded relief, nearly all the aeroplane rose together.
One plane, it is true, gave one final c-c-r-rack! as the last whole
rod on that side gave way; but the rest, twisted all out of shape
and creaking and groaning, held together in one distorted mass.
"All right," commanded Jerry; "let her down again--easy, now. That's
the ticket. Now, Frank--the two Franks--you scout ahead and pick us
out a clear trail to the water. You'll have to figure on a good
"I guess we might as well finish the work you young Sandows started.
I see that the right plane--or wing or whatever you call it--is just
as good as gone. We'll cut her away and that'll give us a better
"Why not take her all apart while we're at it, Jerry?" suggested
Phil. "We'll have to anyway to get her over to the island."
"Just leave it to me and we won't. I've got a little scheme. Who's
got a heavy knife with a sharp big blade in it?"
"That's part of our Scout equipment," answered Phil proudly. "Come
on, Scouts, the boss says whack away the right wing."
"Wing?" grunted Fred Nelson, hacking vainly at the tough wood.
"Feels more like a drumstick to me!" Although the rods were
splintered badly they did not yield readily to the knives. The two
trail scouts returned long before the task of clearing away the
plane was finished.
"There's a fairly easy way if we go around that hazel thicket and
make for the road about a hundred yards south of here, then come
back along the road to that cut-over piece by the little creek, go
in through there to the river trail, and along that, south again,
till we come just about straight across from here," reported the
"All right. Now one of you stay here and mount guard over the left-
behinds, while the other goes ahead and shows us the way. How's the
knife brigade coming on?"
"Ready any time you are. What's next?"
"Line up on each side the stick of the _Skyrocket_, and we'll pick
her up and tote her to the beach. Back here, Dave, you and Barney;
we need more around the motor--it weighs sixteen ounces to the
pound. All set now? Right-o--pick her up. Lead ahead, Frank."
The unwieldy load swayed and threatened to buckle, and more than
once they had to set it down and find new holds, but the winding
road picked out by Frank Ellery was followed without any serious
mishap, until at last they stood on the high bank overlooking the
wide stretch of sandy beach beyond which Plum Run rippled along in
"Set her down--gently, now," ordered Jerry. "We'll let her rest here
while we bring up our reinforcements--and the rest of our baggage.
Phil, you take three Scouts and go back and bring in the wings.
Leave Frank there until you've gathered up every last scrap. The
rest of us will stay here to figure out some way of getting our
plunder shipped safely across to Lost Island."
"Go to it!" urged Phil mockingly. "You've got some job ahead of you.
You figure out how a rowboat's going to float that load across--and
let me know about it."
"Yes," challenged a new voice, "you do that, and let me know about
Mr. Fulton had stepped unobserved through the border of trees and
brush lining the river path.
"Huh!" bragged Jerry. "If that was the hardest thing we had to do,
we could use the _Skyrocket_ for a fireworks celebration to-night!"
PATCHING THE "SKYROCKET"
But Jerry gave no explanation of the method he intended to use in
transporting the unwieldy bulk across the narrow stretch of water.
While Phil and his helpers disappeared, to bring up the rest of the
aeroplane framework, he set his crew to work. The Scout camp, which
was something like a hundred feet north, yielded a couple of
trappers' axes; with these he soon had two stout saplings cut and
trimmed to an even length of thirty feet. In the larger end of each
he cut a deep notch, while to the smaller ends he nailed a good-
sized block, the nails found in an emergency locker on the _Big
Four,_ both it and the Boy Scout boat having been brought down and
hauled up on the beach.
The two boats were now laid side by side, twenty odd feet apart.
Across the bows he laid the one sapling, across the sterns, the
other, so that blocks and notches fitted down over the far edges of
the boats. Mr. Fulton at once caught Jerry's idea and nodded his
"All right," he said, "if the saplings will hold up the weight."
"They don't need to," explained Jerry. "The _Skyrocket_ will reach
over to the inner edges of the boats; I measured the distance with
my eye. All the sticks do is to hold the two ships together."
Phil's crew made two trips, on the second one bringing in Frank, who
had wrapped up a weird collection of broken-off parts in a piece of
varnish-stiffened silk torn from one of the planes,
It did not take long to load the "body" of the _Skyrocket_ onto the
saplings, the boats being still on shore. Then, all pushing
steadily, the strange double craft was slowly forced across the sand
and into the shallow shore-water of Plum Bun. Both boats settled
dangerously near to the point of shipping water, so it was fortunate
that the river was as calm as a millpond. At that, there was no hope
that anyone could get in to row the boats.
"Strip for action!" shouted Phil. "The boss says we're to swim
across. Likewise, the last one in's a rotten egg."
The splashing that ensued, as ten youngsters plunged in, almost in a
body, nearly swamped the boats. After his first shout of alarm, Mr.
Fulton waved his hand gayly and shouted:
"Go to it, fellows. If the doctor didn't have my arm in a splint I'd
be right with you."
"All right, Scouts," assented Jerry, "but go mighty easy."
They were all good swimmers, and with hardly a ripple they propelled
the _Skyrocket_ slowly but steadily toward the shore of Lost Island.
As they drew near they saw that they had spectators on both sides,
for awaiting them was the girl Phil and Jerry had seen not so long
before, but under different circumstances. Now she waved her hand
"Oh, Liz-z-i-e!" shouted Phil, "where's the meat-axe?"
For answer she caught up a pebble and sent it skimming in his
direction, so close that Phil felt no shame in ducking, even if it
did bring a great shout of laughter from his companions.
But it was evident that "Lizzie" or Elizabeth Billings, as they soon
came to call her, bore no ill will as she came down to the water's
edge and awaited their coming. But the boys had no intention of
making a landing so long as she was there, and Jerry was turning
over in his mind just how to ask her to withdraw, when she
apparently came to the conclusion that her presence was neither
needed nor desired. At any rate, she left the beach abruptly and
disappeared along the island path, only stopping to send a hearty
peal of laughter in their direction.
"Next time across I guess well wear our clothes," snickered Budge.
"The young lady isn't used to welcoming savages to her lonely isle."
"Try a little of your savage strength on that rod you're leaning on;
nobody suggested that this affair was a lawn party," Phil reminded
him. "Come on, fellows, let's get the old _Skyrocket_ up out of the
After some maneuvering they decided to unload from the water, as the
beach shelved gradually. Within five minutes they were ready to
make for the other shore, being compelled to swim the boats back
again, as no one had remembered to throw in the oars.
This time their load was hardly worth calling one so far as weight
was concerned, and four of the boys piled in, to row the boats
across, nearly capsizing the whole arrangement in their efforts to
outspeed each other. This time they were fully dressed. One of the
boys brought the two boats back, and now all the party crossed over,
with the exception of poor Budge, who again was the one slated to
stay behind and guard camp. Perhaps his disappointment was only half
genuine, however, as he was none too keen about the heavy job of
freighting the wreckage to the center of Lost Island.
Tod was awaiting them when the last boatload beached on the island.
It was easy to see that he had been greatly worried over the
nonappearance of his father, and the bandages in which Mr. Fulton
was literally swathed were not calculated to set his mind at ease.
But Mr. Fulton's laughing version of the "accident," as he called
it, soon relieved Tod's fears.
They made short work of the trip to the long, low shed Phil and
Jerry had seen on their exploration of the island, and which they
now learned was a "hangar," a place specially fitted for taking care
of the aeroplane. When the big sliding door was thrown open the boys
saw that inside was a complete machine shop, with lathes, benches,
drills and punches, the whole being operated by power from the
gasoline engine in the corner.
"The first thing to do," announced Mr. Fulton, "is to understand
just what we're driving at. So I'll explain, as briefly as possible,
just what this contraption of mine is. It's simply a device that
enables me to reverse the propellers instantly at high speed. But
that isn't all. The same lever throws in another set of propellers--
lifters, we call them--just above where the pilot sits. They act as
a kind of counterbalance. Now these planes, or wings, act in the
same manner as the surfaces of a box kite, and aside from this
device of mine, which has some details you won't need to know about,
and a slight improvement I've made in the motor itself, the
_Skyrocket_ isn't any different from the ordinary biplane, which you
all know about, of course."
"Of course we don't," blurted Jerry.