Part 4 out of 4
"Consarn them Boy Scouts," sputtered the farmer, returning to his
original grievance, "if Joe hadn't a joined them none of this
would have happened."
"Oh, yes it would and worse in fact," said Mr. Blake quietly,
"from what I have learned of the affair it was your lad's
knowledge of the Morse code, which every Boy Scout must know,
that saved him when he was confined on the island."
"That's right, pop," piped up the lad himself.
"Wall, I don't know nothin' about Horses, codes," grunted Mr.
Digby, somewhat mollified, "but if it saved Joe here it must be
"Then your animosity toward the Boy Scouts is somewhat modified,"
smiled Mr. Blake, "let me tell you just what happened. As a
matter of fact the whole trouble dates back to the day your son
exposed the contemptible trick by which Jack Curtiss hoped to win
the aeroplane model prize contest."
The banker drew the farmer aside and related to him the story
that had been previously narrated by Rob.
"I want ter shake yer hand, boy," exclaimed the fanner, darting
at Rob at the conclusion, "I want ter shake all yer hands," he
yelled in his enthusiasm.
"Bless my soul," exclaimed Commodore Wingate suddenly, "we are
clean forgetting about those two young rascals who tried to
extort the money from Mr. Digby. We must get after them at once
and their accomplice who, I suppose, is, the man delegated to
take the money from under the rock."
"What do you suggest?" asked Mr. Blake.
"That we hasten to the office of the chief of police and then get
into my car and ferret them out if possible," said the commodore
briskly, "they must be made to suffer for this."
"I don't believe that Sam Redding had any hand in it," put in Rob
as Merritt mentioned the name of the boat-builder's son. "You
know that all our investigation only pointed to two persons, Jack
and Bill, and their assistant, Hank Handcraft."
A short time later Merritt, Tubby and the Digbys being left
behind on the landing, a high powered car, containing Rob, his
father, Commodore Wingate and the chief of police of Hampton shot
out on to the road leading to the farm owned by Jack Curtiss'
father. Inquiry at the Bender home had already developed the
fact that Jack and Bill had left there hurriedly a short time
before, saying they were going out to the Curtiss place. The
party was doomed to disappointment, however, so far as the hope
of catching Jack or his accomplices at the farm was concerned.
Old Mr. Curtiss informed them that his son had taken the family
buggy and driven furiously off down the road with Bill Bender a
short time before.
"He got a hundred dollars from me," explained the old man simply,
"he told me he was goin' ter invest it in some rich mining stock
his friend Bender had promoted but--what's the matter,
gentlemen," he broke off, noticing the half-pitying look on the
faces of the men in the automobile. Mr. Blake hurriedly
explained the attempted extortion of which Jack had been guilty.
"What, Jack--my son!" exclaimed the old man in half daze at the
stunning intelligence, "my boy Jack do a thing like that? Why,
it can't be true. I don't believe it."
"I'm afraid, nevertheless, it is," rejoined Mr. Blake, but the
old man only shook his head.
"I'll not believe it," he kept repeating.
"I wish that so good a father had a worthy son," remarked Mr.
Blake as the car shot out of the farm and out upon the highroad
in the hope of overtaking the buggy.
At the Digby farm the machine was turned off to take the cross
roads and at this spot they encountered a buggy coming toward
them driven by a farmer friend of Mr. Blake's.
"Seen a rig with Jack Curtiss and Bill Bender in it?" shouted the
banker as the car was slowed up by Commodore Wingate.
"Down the road a piece driving like the Mischief," responded the
rustic pointing back with his whip, "but you're wrong 'bout ther'
bein' only two of them; that no-good beach-comber, Hank
Handcraft, was in there with them."
With a shouted word of thanks the car dashed forward once more.
It was evident that, realizing that their game was up, Jack and
Bill had picked up Hank, and, with a sense of loyalty for which
Rob certainly would not have given them credit, were trying to
save him too.
"Where can they be headed for?" wondered Mr. Blake as the car
"I can hazard a guess," exclaimed Commodore Wingate, "for the
Sunnyside railroad station. If they make a train they may escape
"Je-rus-a-lem," exclaimed the chief of police, a man named
Applegate, pulling out a huge old-fashioned silver watch,
"there's a train due in a few minutes now; if we don't make it,
they'll slip through our fingers!"
Faster and faster the car roared forward and suddenly as it shot
round a curve the little station of Sunnyside came in sight.
Tied outside it was the buggy and horse of farmer Curtiss and on
the platform stood three figures that the party in the auto made
out at once as Jack Curtiss, Bill Bender and their unsavory ally.
The road took a long curve at this point and while they could see
the station the pursuers had the mortification of knowing that it
would be some minutes before they could reach it. As the car
bounded forward, swaying like a rocking ship over the rough
roads, there came a sudden sound that made Rob's heart bound.
The long whistle of an approaching train.
Faster the machine shot onward roaring like a battery of machine
guns going into action. Its occupants leaned forward with eyes
glued on the group on the platform.
The trio of whom the autoists were in pursuit had by this time
realized that they were the objects of the chase and were
nervously staring up the track down which was fast approaching
the train by which they hoped to escape.
The auto was still a good two hundred yards from the station when
the train rolled in and, hardly stopping, started to move out
"Stop! stop!" yelled Chief Applegate, at the top of his lungs,
and the others waved their hands frantically. The engineer
looked back at them with a grin.
"Some more idiots missed their train, Jim," he remarked to the
fireman, "I might have waited for them but we're five minutes
behind schedule time now."
The fireman nodded understandingly and as the auto, in a cloud of
dust, dashed up to the little depot the train, with a screech
that sounded like the last defiance of the bully, shot round a
curve and vanished with a cloud of black smoke.
"Beaten!" gasped the chief.
"We can telegraph ahead and have them arrested in New York,"
"No, perhaps it is all for the best," counseled Mr. Blake, "the
parents of both those boys are respected citizens, and it would
be a cruel grievance to them were their boys to be publicly
disgraced. Let them work out their own salvation."
And so Jack Curtiss, Bill Bender and Hank Handcraft vanish for a
time from the ken of the Boy Scouts, leaving behind them no
regrets, except it be those of their parents who were for many
months bowed down with the grief and humiliation of their boys'
SCOUTS IN NEED ARE FRIENDS INDEED
"Ta-ra-ta-ra-ta! Ta-ra-ta-ra-ta! Ta-ra-ta-rata! Ta-ra-ta-a-a!"
Andy's bugle briskly announced the last morning of the Boy
Scouts' camp on Topsail Island. Already the first breath of
autumn had begun to tint the leaves of the earlier fading trees,
and the chill of the early dawn was noticeable.
During their stay in camp the lads had profited in every way.
The scout program as sent out for camps by headquarters had been
gone, through with some modifications, and Sim Jeffords had
qualified as a first-class scout while Martin Green, Walter
Lonsdale and Joe Digby, once more as merry as ever, were all
fitted for their second-class scout diplomas. The prospect of
another patrol in Hampton had been discussed and the outlook for
one seemed favorable.
As the last notes of Andy's call--to turn to the subject of the
opening of this chapter--rang out the tousle-headed, sleepy-eyed
scouts appeared from their tents and found themselves enveloped
in a fleecy mist--such a light fog as is common on that part of
the Atlantic coast at this season of the year.
"Pretty thick!" was Rob's comment as he doused his face in his
"Hull-o-o-o!" suddenly hailed a voice from the water, "got any
breakfast fer an old shipmate?"
Through the fog the boys could make out the dim outline of the
captain's motor boat even if it's apoplectic cough had not
already told them it was there.
"Sure, come ashore," hailed Merritt.
A few moments later the hearty old seaman was sitting down with
the lads and performing miracles of eating.
"It's a good thing we haven't all got your capacity," remarked
Rob, laughing, "or that provision tent wouldn't have held out
"Wall, boys," observed the captain, drawing out a black pipe and
ramming some equally black tobacco into it with a horny thumb, "a
full hold makes fair sailin', that's my motto and 'Be Prepared'
is yers. A man can be no better prepared than with a good meal
under his belt. Give me a well-fed crew and I'll navigate a raft
to Hindustan, but a pack uv slab-sided lime juicers couldn't work
a full-rigged ship uv the finest from here to Ban-gor."
Having delivered himself of this bit of philosophy, the captain
passed on to another subject.
"Hear'n anything uv them varmints what slipped their moorings on
the train?" he asked.
"We heard that they had gone West," rejoined Merritt, "but to
just what part I don't know."
"That thar Sam Reddin' boy clar'd himself uv all suspicion, did
he?" went on the old man.
"Yes, after he had admitted that Jack Curtiss and Bill Bender and
himself stole our uniforms and robbed you--"
"Consarn him," interrupted the captain.
"You needn't grumble, his father paid you back all that was
taken," observed Merritt.
"That don't lessen the crime," grunted the captain, "heave ahead
with yer yarn, my boy; yer was sayin' that that Reddin' boy
"Well," continued Rob, "in consideration of his confession, it
was agreed not to prosecute him and he seems to be a reformed
character. He absolutely denied, though, having had anything to
do with the kidnapping of Joe Digby here, and I believe he is
telling the truth."
"The truth ain't in any uv them fellers, that's my belief,"
snorted the captain, "and if ever I get my hands on that thar
Jack Curtiss or Bill Bender I'll lay onto 'em with a rope's end."
"Oh, we'll never see them again," laughed Rob.
It may be said here, however, that in this he was very much
mistaken. Rob and his friends did meet the bully again and under
strange circumstances, in scenes far removed from the peaceful
surroundings of Hampton.
"Fog's thickenin'," observed the captain squinting seaward.
As he remarked, the mist was indeed increasing in density,
shrouding the surroundings of the camp completely and covering
the trees and bushes with condensed moisture, which dripped in a
slow, melancholy sort of way from their limbs.
"Bad weather for ships," observed Merritt.
"Yer may well say that, my lad, and this is a powerful bad part
uv the coast ter be navigatin' on in a fog. I've heard it said
that there's a lot uv iron in the Long Island shoals and that
this deflects the compasses uv ships that stay too near in shore
in a fog. I don't know how that maybe, I don't place a lot uv
stock in it myself, but I do know that steamers and vessels uv al
kinds go ashore here more than seems ter be natural."
As he finished speaking there came, the fog a sound that fitted
in so well with subject of his conversation that it almost an
accompaniment to it.
"A steamer's siren," exclaimed Rob.
"That's what it is, lad," assented the old sailor, as the sound
came again, booming through the fog with a melancholy cadence.
"Who-o-o-o-o-o!" roared the siren once more.
"I'll bet the feller who's on the bridge uv that ship is havin'
his own troubles just about now," remarked the captain, "hark at
The whistle was now roaring like a wounded bull, sending distinct
vibrations of sound through the increasing fog billows.
"Thick as pea soup," commented the captain, refilling his pipe,
"reckon I'll have ter stay here till she lifts a bit. Wind's
hauled to the sou'west too. Bad quarter means more fog and
"Who-o-o-o-o!" boomed the siren of the hidden vessel once more,
and this time it was answered by another whistle somewhere
further off in the fog.
"Two uv 'em now. Stand by fer a collision," shouted the captain,
while the scouts, intensely interested in the development of this
hidden drama of the fog, clustered about him.
"Who-o-o-o-o! Who-o-o-o-o! Who-o-o-o-o!" came the nearest
"She's standin' in shore," shouted the captain, "boys, she's in
"What's she coming in for?" asked Merritt.
"I suppose her skipper thinks he's got plenty uv water under his
keel and wants ter give a wide berth ter the other vessel,"
explained the captain. "Boys, if only we had a big bell or a
steam whistle we could warn them poor fellows uv their peril."
"It does seem hard to hear them blundering in and not be able to
warn them," agreed Rob, "there should have been a lighthouse put
on these shoals long ago."
"Right yer are, boy, but the government is a slow movin' vessel
and hard ter get under way."
The boys had to laugh at this odd way of expressing the
difficulty of getting new lights erected, but they knew as well
almost as their companion the dangers of the ocean off this part
of Long Island.
The whistle boomed out its wailing note again.
"Closer and closer," lamented the captain, "what's the matter
with those lubbers? Yer'd think they'd have a leadsman out."
All at once the catastrophe for which they had been more or less
prepared happened. So quickly did it come that they had not time
The echoes of the last note of the siren had hardly died out when
there came a loud explosion.
"A signal gun," roared the captain.
"They are calling for help?" asked Rob.
"That's it, my boy. They've struck, just as I thought they
The distress gun sounded again.
"They're in a bad mess by the sound uv that," said the captain.
"It doesn't sound as if they were more than half a mile or so
out," remarked Rob.
"I guess they're not. Hark at that! They must be scared ter
The gun was fired three times in rapid succession.
"They'll never hear that at Lone Hill life savin' station,"
grimly commented the captain, "and this fog's too thick fer them
ter see her."
"Do you imagine she is badly damaged, captain?" asked Rob
anxiously. The idea of the stranded ship lost in the dense fog
affected him strangely.
"Can't tell," the captain replied to his question, "may have
stove a hole in herself and be sinking now."
"Can't we do something to help them?" asked Merritt eagerly.
"Only one thing we can do, boy, and that's full uv danger."
"What is it?" demanded Rob, ignoring the last part of the
"Get in ther boat and go out thar to 'em. If they're sinkin' we
can help 'em a whole lot, and--"
The captain stopped short in amazement.
Rob, Merritt and Tubby had already started for the beach and
Hiram, "the wireless scout", was close on their heels.
"Well, douse my toplights," exclaimed the captain, rising to his
feet and lumbering after them, "Yer can't beat the Boy Scouts."
A MEETING IN THE FOG-CONCLUSION
"Can you make her out?"
Five pairs of eyes peered through the mist that hung like a white
pall an every side of the Flying Fish.
"Stop that motor a minute, while I listen!"
In compliance with Rob's order Merritt shut down the panting
"What's that noise off there?" asked Hiram suddenly.
"That sort of throbbing sound?" rejoined Tubby Hopkins.
"That's it, sounds like a big heart beating," put in Rob.
"I guess that's their engine. They're tryin' ter back her off,"
suggested the captain.
"Give them a blast on that fog-horn and see if they answer," said
Hiram took up the big brass fish-horn, used as a fog signal on
the Flying Fish, and blew a loud, long call.
After an interval of waiting, from out of the mist came the wail
of the stranded ship's siren once more.
"There she is, right in there," declared the captain, pointing
seaward into the mist. "Steer right on that tack, Rob, and we'll
pick her up pretty soon."
The motor was started up once more and the Flying Fish forged
ahead through the smother. Suddenly Rob, with a sharp cry of:
"Stop her!" swung his wheel over sharp and the Flying Fish headed
The gleaming black rampart of a large vessel's side had suddenly
loomed up dead ahead of him.
"Ahoy! aboard the steamer," roared the captain, framing his mouth
with his hands, "what ship is that?"
"The El Paso from London to New York," came back a hail from
somewhere above them in a somewhat surprised tone, "who are you?"
"The Flying Fish of Hampton, Long Island," responded Rob, with a
"Never heard of her," responded the voice, "we're hard aground on
one of your Long Island shoals it seems."
"That's what yer are," exclaimed the captain, "how come yer ter
be huggin' the shore so hard?"
"Trying to avoid a collision with another vessel."
"Are yer all right?" bellowed the captain.
"Seem to be. So far as we can find out there's not a plate
started, but if you're from the land we've got a couple of
passengers we'd be thankful if you'd take ashore. Will you come
"Sure, if yer'll drop a Jacob's ladder," bellowed the captain at
the invisible speaker.
"In a minute."
The conversation had been carried on without either of the
parties to it being able to see one another, but the captain of
the vessel--for he had been the boy's interlocutor--now came off
the bridge and with some of the crew watched two sailors lower a
Jacob's ladder and make it fast to the rail.
"Now we go aboard," said Captain Hudgins, clambering up the
swaying contrivance as nimbly as an athlete, "make our painter
fast ter the ladder, Rob."
This being done, the boys followed the veteran on board. The
steamer, when they gained her deck, puzzled them a good deal and
it was not till her captain, a genial blond-bearded Britisher,
explained to them that she was a cattle ship that they understood
the utility of the wooden structures with which her decks were
The captain explained that these were pens for the cattle she
expected to take back to England, from which country she was
returning after having taken over a large consignment of steers.
"Which," went on the captain, "brings us to my passengers. They
are Mr. Frank Harkness and his son, of Lariat, a small cattle
town in the West, where Mr. Harkness has a large ranch. They
were his cattle that we took over and as he had difficulty in
engaging a berth on a liner at this time of year, when the
passenger ships are crowded, he decided to return with us. Here
is Mr. Harkness now," he added, as a tall, bronzed man, with a
long coat draped over a pair of broad shoulders, and a
wide-brimmed sombrero above keen eyes, approached.
"Visitors from the shore, captain?" he inquired, a pleasant smile
illuminating his clean-shaven, sun-browned face.
"That's what they are," rejoined the captain, "just dropped in on
us, don't you know."
"You mean we dropped in on them," amended the other with a laugh,
"come here, Harry," he called, raising his voice, "we've got some
company out of the fog."
In response to his call a lad about the age of Rob appeared from
the after-end of the ship, where the cabins were, and greeted the
boys with a smile and a nod. He, like his father, wore a
sombrero and was quite as sunburned. For the rest he was
well-knit and athletic looking and had evidently lived an
"Well, we are getting plenty of experiences away from the ranch,
eh, Harry?" observed his father, after the boys and the captain
had introduced themselves and there had been a great and
ceremonious hand-shaking all round.
"We just naturally are," responded the rancher's son. "Say,
captain," he went on, "when do you expect to get off ?"
"If we are not too badly hung up we ought to get off at
high-water," rejoined the Britisher.
"That won't be till late to-night," observed Rob.
"If I could only get a tug we might do better," observed the
captain, "in fact, since I've had the engines going I don't think
we can back off under our own power."
"Have you got a wireless?" asked Hiram, his pet subject
"Yes, but our operator went ashore in London and I guess he had
too good a time; anyhow he never showed up so we had to cross
"Is she working?" asked Hiram interestedly.
"Sure, there's plenty of 'juice' as the operators, call it. I
tried to work it coming over," laughed Harry, "but outside of
getting a proper shock, I didn't do much."
"I'll send out a signal for a tug," said Hiram quietly, "there's
a station at Island. They'll pick up the message and transmit
"What--you can work a wireless?"
"A little bit," said the lad modestly.
"Come on, I'll show you the way," said the delighted captain,
starting off with Hiram, and followed by the others.
"Say, don't think it personal of me, will you?" remarked Harry
Harkness to Rob as they followed, "but would you mind telling me
what you all are wearing those uniforms for?"
"Why, we're Boy Scouts," rejoined Rob proudly, and went on to
explain just what the organization is.
"Say, that's great," exclaimed Harry enthusiastically, "I'd like
to form a patrol out at Lariat. Do you reckon I could?"
"I don't doubt it," rejoined Rob, smiling the Western enthusiasm.
"By cracky, I'll do it," went on Harry Harktess, "I'll make it a
mounted patrol and if we don't get old 'Silver Tip' then, besides
all the other sport we'll have, call me a coyote."
"Who or what is old Silver Tip?" asked Rob, somewhat interested
in his breezy new acquaintance.
"Silver Tip is a grizzly," explained Harry, "a grizzly bear you
know. Dad says he's the biggest he's ever seen and he seems to
bear--excuse the pun, please--he seems to bear a charmed life.
All the boys on the ranch are crazy to get a shot at him, but
they've never been able to."
"Say, that sounds bully," agreed Rob, "I wish I could get out
West for a while."
"It's a great country," said Harry sagely, as they entered the
wireless room, where Hiram was already bending over the
instrument sending out a message for aid, while the blue spark
leaped and crackled across its gap. The others gazed on
admiringly as Hiram, having completed his message, adjusted the
detector on his head and awaited an answer.
It soon came. Tugs would be dispatched as soon as the fog
lifted, the operator at Fire Island announced.
"That's a weight off my mind," breathed the captain, while Harry
hastily confided to his father that the lads who had boarded the
vessel out of the mist were Boy Scouts.
"The fog is lifting," announced Rob, as they streamed out of the
"Yes, the wind has shifted," remarked Captain Hudgins. "I guess
it was that sou'west breeze that brought the mist. She's hauled
ter the nor'west now, and in an hour's time it will be clear."
"I wonder if you boys can put us ashore," said Mr. Harkness, as
the group walked aft to the captain's cabin; "I would be very
grateful if you could. It seems that it will be some time before
the steamer is cleared, and I am anxious to make a train for the
The boys agreed to land the ranchman and his son as soon as the
fog cleared off, which, as the captain had prophesied, it did in
about an hour's time. The boys had spent the interim in
exploring the ship and listening to Harry Harkness' tales of the
ranch and the marvelous exploits of Silver Tip, the huge grizzly,
who derived his name, it appeared, from a spot of white fur on
his breast. In fact, so fast did they get on, that by the time
Harry and his father were called by Captain Hudgins to embark in
the Flying Fish, the boys had become fast friends.
The run to the shore was made quickly and by landing the two
travelers at a point above Hampton they were enabled to make a
train that would land them in the city in time for dinner. Mr.
Harkness whiled away the trip by plying the boys with all sorts
of questions about the Boy Scouts and seemed greatly interested
in their answers. Altogether the boys felt quite sorry when it
came time to part at the wharf at Farmingdale, the place where
the rancher and his son were put ashore.
"Well, good-bye, boys," said Mr. Harkness, holding out a big hand
to Rob, who took it and was amazed to find a twenty dollar gold
piece slipped into his palm by the ranchman.
"Oh, I couldn't think of taking that," he said, insisting on
handing it back despite the ranchman's protests, "I appreciate
your motive, but I couldn't think of taking any money for an
"By Sam Hooker, you're right, boy," cried the ranchman heartily,
"and it's a privilege to meet such a bunch of fine lads. I
thought all you Easterners were a bunch of stuck-up tenderfeet,
but I find I'm wrong--anyhow so far as the Boy Scouts are
A few minutes later the rancher and his son were hastening to the
railroad station, followed by the boys' eyes. As they entered
the depot, just in time to catch the New York train--they waved a
hearty farewell and the boys waved and shouted in return.
"We've only known them a few hours, but I feel as if I'd just
said good-bye to two friends," said Rob as they turned away and
prepared to go back to the island in their boat and break camp.
"So do I!" said Tubby; "I wonder if we'll ever see them again."
"No, I guess they're kind of ships that pass in the night,"'
laughed Merritt, "however, I'm glad we did them a good turn."
The boys, however, were destined to meet the ranchers again and
to have many strange and exciting adventures, among which the
ultimate downfall of Silver Tip was to be one. Could they have
looked into the future, too, they would have seen that in the Far
West they were to face dangers and difficulties of which they had
as yet never dreamed and were to be the victims of the malicious
contrivings of Bill Bender and our old, acquaintance, Jack
A few weeks after the events related above there was great
excitement in Hampton over the announcement that Merritt's
courageous act of life-saving and the achievements of the other
young scouts of the Eagle Patrol were to receive official
recognition. A field secretary of the organization arrived at
the village one evening and was met at the depot by the Patrol in
full uniform, and with the village band drawn up at their head.
Proudly, under the Eagle standard, they marched to the Town Hall,
which had been illuminated in a style the villagers would never
have believed possible and were greeted by the local committee
headed by Commodore Wingate and Mr. Blake.
"Three cheers for the Boy Scouts!" came from a voice in the back
of the crowded hall after the honors had been distributed and the
advances in rank announced.
The shout that went up cracked the plaster on the ceiling of the
"Speech, speech," shouted one of those individuals who always do
raise that cry on the slightest excuse.
Rob Blake, very red and protesting, was hustled to the front of
the stage on which the Scouts had been drawn up.
"I can't make a speech," he began.
"Hear! Hear!" shouted the crowd, most of whom couldn't.
"But on behalf of the Boy Scouts I want to thank you all and--
The rest was drowned by the band which, having been quiescent for
ten whole minutes, could maintain silence no longer and blared
out into that favorite of all village bands, "Hail to the Chief."
"Come on, let's get out of here," whispered Rob to Merritt, whose
breast was decorated with the coveted bronze cross and red
ribbon, which is the highest honor a scout can attain.
As they slipped out upon the darkened street a boy came up to
them with an outstretched hand.
"I want to tell you I'm sorry for the part I played in the mean
tricks Jack Curtiss and Bill Bender put up on you fellows," he
said contritely, "will you shake hands?"
"Sure we will, Sam Redding," responded Merritt, extending his
palm, while Rob did likewise.
"At that," added Merritt, "I guess we win."
And here, with their former enemy become a remorseful friend, we
will, for the present, leave the Boy Scouts to renew our
acquaintance with them in the next volume of this series which
will be called: "The Boy Scouts on the Range."