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The High School Boys' Canoe Club by H. Irving Hancock

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"Prescott, I take it you're the business manager of this crowd,"
the boat builder went on. "Now, look over these figures with
me, and see if everything is straight. Here are the different
loads of bark you've brought in. I figure them up at $122.60.
See if you make it the same?"

"Of course I do," nodded Dick, not even looking at the figures.

"Careless of you, not to watch another man's figuring," remarked
Hiram Driggs. "Now, then, the bark you've brought in comes to
just what I've stated. Against that is a charge for the team
and wagon, eight days at four dollars a day---thirty-two dollars.
Twenty dollars for fixing your canoe. Total charges, fifty-two
dollars. Balance due you for bark, seventy dollars and sixty
cents. That's straight, isn't it?"

"I---I don't understand," faltered Dick Prescott.

"Then see if this will help you to understand," proposed Driggs,
drawing a roll of bills from his pocket and laying down the money.
Here you are, seventy dollars and sixty cents."

"But we didn't propose to sell you any bark," Dick protested.
"All we expected to do was to bring you in good measure to pay
you for all your kindness to us."

"Kindness to you boys?" demanded Driggs, his shrewd eyes twinkling.
"I hope I may go through life being as profitably kind to others.
Boys, the bark you've sold me will enable me to make up several
canoes at a fine, fat profit. Take your pay for the goods you've

Dick glanced at his chums, who looked rather dumbfounded. Then
he picked up the bills with an uneasy feeling.

"Thank you, then," young Prescott continued. "But there is one
little point overlooked, Mr. Driggs. You did the canoe for us
at cost, though your price to any other customer would have been
thirty dollars."

"Oh, we'll let it go at that," Driggs suggested readily. "I'm
coming out finely on the deal."

"We won't let it go at that, if you please, sir," Dick Prescott
retorted firmly.

Dick placed a ten dollar bill on the desk, adding:

"That makes the full thirty dollars for the repairing of the canoe."

"I don't want to take it," said Driggs gruffly.

"Then we won't take any of this money for the bark," insisted
Dick, putting the rest of the money back on the table.

"If you corner me like that," muttered Driggs, "I'll have to take
your ten dollars. Now put the rest of the money back in your
pocket, and divide it among your crowd whenever you're ready.
Wait a minute until I make out a receipt for repairing the canoe.
I'll put the receipt in your name, Prescott."

Driggs wrote rapidly, then reached for another paper.

"And now," he laughed, "since you're so mighty particular about
being exact in business, you may as well sign a receipt for the
money paid you for the bark."

Signatures were quickly given.

"Now, I reckon you boys want to get out to your canoe," the builder

"Yes, but we can't take Dick with us," Tom declared. "Not with
all that money belonging to the company in his pocket. Dick,
before you step into the canoe you'd better leave the money with
Mr. Driggs, if he'll oblige us by taking care of it."

Driggs dropped the money in an envelope, putting the latter in
his safe.

"Call and get it when you're going away," he said.

"Some day, when we recover, Mr. Driggs," said Dick earnestly,
"we're going to come in and try to thank you as we should."

"If you do," retorted the boat builder gruffly, "I'll throw you
all out. Our present business deal is completed, and the papers
all signed. Git!"

Driggs followed them out to show them how to launch the canoe
with the least trouble.

"Have any of you boys ever handled a paddle before?" inquired
Hiram Driggs.

"Oh, yes; in small cedar canoes," Dave answered.

"All of you?"

"Yes, sir."

"Then you ought to get along all right in this craft. But be
careful at first, and don't try any frolicking when you're aboard.
Remember, a canoe isn't a craft that can be handled with roughness.
Don't anyone try to 'rock the boat,' either. In a canoe everyone
has to sit steadily and attend strictly to business."

"A war canoe! Isn't it great?" chuckled Dan, as he started to
help himself to a seat.

But Tom grabbed him by the coat collar, pulling him back.

"First of all, Danny Grin, shed that coat. Then ask Dick which
seat you're going to have. He's the big chief of our tribe of

"Better all of you leave your coats here," suggested Driggs.
"You can get 'em when you come back. And you can keep the canoe
here without charge, so you'll have a safe place for it. Some
fellows, you know, might envy you so that they might try to destroy
the canoe if you left it in a place that isn't locked up at night."

When the boys were ready, in their shirt sleeves, Dick assigned
Dave Darrin to the bow seat. The others were placed, while Prescott
himself took the stern seat, from which the steering paddle must
be wielded.

"All ready, everyone," Dick called. "Dave, you set the stroke,
and give us a slow, easy one. We mustn't do any swift paddling
until we've had a good deal of practice. Shove off, Dave."

Darrin pushed his paddle against the float, Dick doing likewise
at the stern. Large as it was, the canoe glided smoothly across
the water.

"Now, give us the slow stroke, Dave!" Dick called.

Soon the others caught the trick of paddling in unison. Each
had his own side of the craft on which to paddle. Dick, alone,
as steersman, paddled on either side at will, according as he
wished to guide the boat.

"You're doing finely," called Hiram Driggs.

"Let's hit up the speed a bit," urged Dan Dalzell.

"We won't be in too big a hurry about that," Dick counseled.
"Let us get the knack of this thing by degrees."

"Whee! When we do get to going fast I'll wager there is a lot
of fine old speed in this birch-bark tub!" chuckled Tom Reade.

Dick now headed the canoe up the river. For half a mile or more
they glided along on a nearly straight course.

To say that these Gridley high school boys were happy would be
putting it rather mildly. There was exhilaration in every move
of this noble sport. Nor was it at all like work. The canoe
seemed to require but very little power to send her skimming over
the water.

At last Dick guided the canoe in an easy, graceful turn, heading
down the river once more.

"Now, you can try just a little faster stroke, Dave," Dick suggested.
"And make it just a bit heavier on the stroke, fellows, but don't
imagine that we're going to try any racing speed."




It was great sport! Just the small increase in the stroke sent
the handsome big war canoe fairly spinning down the river.

"I never dreamed it would be like this!" cried Dave Darrin, in
ecstasy. "Fellows, I don't believe there is any fun in the world
equal to canoeing in a real canoe."

"It beats all the little cedar contraptions that some folks call
canoes!" Tom Reade declared.

"I am almost beginning to think," announced Danny Grin, "that
I'd rather go on canoeing than go home for my dinner."

"That idea would last until about half-past twelve," chuckled
Reade. "This is glorious fun, all right, but dinner has its
place, too. As for me, I want to get my dinner strictly on time."

"Glutton!" taunted Greg Holmes.

"Don't you believe it," Reade retorted. "I want my dinner right
on time so that I can get back for a longer afternoon in the canoe."

"Fellows," announced Dave Darrin solemnly, "we've got to form
a canoe club."

"Humph!" retorted Greg Holmes. "We don't want to belong to any
club where the other fellows have only the fourteen or sixteen
foot cedar canoes."

"We don't have to," Dave explained. "We'll limit the membership
to those who own war canoes like this one. In other words, we'll
be the whole club."

"What's the need of our forming a club?" asked Greg Holmes. "We're
as good as being a club already. We're always together in everything,
aren't we?"

"Still, it won't do any harm to have a regular club name for the
summer," Dick Prescott suggested.

"What would we call the club?" asked Hazelton.

"Why not call it the Gridley High School Canoe Club?" Dick demanded.

"Best name possible," Tom agreed.

"Some of the other high school fellows might get sore at us, though,"
Tom hinted. "They might say we had no right to take the high
school name."

"We won't take it for ourselves only," Dick smiled. "We'll keep
the club membership open to any set of six fellows who will own
and run a war canoe. We'll keep the membership as open as possible
to the high school fellows."

"Humph! And then Fred Ripley, Bert Dodge and a few others with
plenty of cash would get a canoe and insist on coming in and spoiling
the club."

"They might," Dick assented, "but I don't believe they would.
Fred Ripley, Bert Dodge and a few others of their kind in the
Gridley High School wouldn't spend five cents to join anything
we're in."

Toot! toot! sounded a whistle shrilly behind them.

Dick turned carefully to glance at the bend above them.

"Steam launch, with an excursion party," he informed the others.
"I think I see Laura Bentley and Belle Meade in the bow waving
handkerchiefs at us."

Dan Dalzell turned abruptly around. Harry Hazelton did the same.

"Look out!" cried Greg, as he shifted swiftly to steady the craft.

Just then Tom Reade turned, too. His added weight sent the canoe
careening. There was a quick scramble to right the craft.

Flop! The canoe's port rail was under water. She filled and
sank, carrying a lot of excited high school boys down at the same



Dick Prescott sank into the water not more than two or three feet.
Then his head showed above the surface of the river. He struck
out vigorously, looking about him.

"The canoe is done for!" he gasped.

Too-oot! too-oot! too-oot! The steam launch was now speeding
to the scene, its whistle screeching at a rate calculated to inform
everyone in Gridley of another river disaster.

Up came Greg, then Dave. Tom Reade's head appeared down stream.
Harry Hazelton bobbed up not six feet from Dick. Hazelton blew
out a mouthful of water, then called:

"Everyone up, Dick?"

"All but Dan."


"I guess he's all right. Danny Grin is a good swimmer, you know."

Half a dozen river craft were now heading their way, but the launch
was the only power boat in sight.

Five members of Dick & Co. now got close together.

"We've got to go down after Danny Grin," Reade declared. "You
fellows watch, and I'll get as close to bottom as I can."

Tom sank. To the anxious boys he seemed to be gone for an age.
He came up alone.

"Did you see Dan?" Dick faltered. "Not a glimpse of him," returned
Tom despairingly.

"See the canoe?"


"Then you couldn't have gone down in the right place," Dick argued.

"I'll try it, fellows!" exclaimed Darrin. Down went Dave. He
soon came up, treading water. As soon as he had blown out a mouthful
of water he exclaimed:

"I found Dan, but I couldn't stay under long enough. He went
down with the canoe. He's lying in it now."

"Look out, there! We'll pick you up," called a voice from the
launch, which now darted toward the boys. A bell for half speed,
then another for "stop" sounded, and the hull of the launch divided
the frightened swimmers.

"Let me get aboard!" cried Dick, taking a few lusty over-hand

Willing hands hauled him into the launch at the bow, while girls'
cries and anxious questions filled the air.

"What's the matter?"


But Dick waited to answer no one. Standing in the bow of the
launch, he pointed his hands, then dived into the river.

While he was below the surface of the water the other canoeists
swam alongside, helping themselves aboard.

"Oh, Dave!" cried Laura Bentley. "What's wrong?"

"Dan Dalzell hasn't come up," Darrin choked. "Here, clear the
way. I'm going down after Dick."

He was gone like a flash. Seconds ticked by while a score of
pale faces watched over the side of the launch.

Then, at last, up shot Dave. He was followed almost instantly
by Dick, his arms wrapped around the motionless form of Dan Dalzell.

"Get close and we'll haul you in!" called Tom Reade, a boat-hook
in his hand.

"Is Dan drowned!" demanded a dozen voices.

"Don't ask questions now!" cried Tom Reade impatiently, without
looking about him. "Keep quiet! It's a time for work."

Abashed, the questioners became silent. Tom caught the boat-hook
through the collar of Dan's flannel shirt. With the aid of the
launch's helmsman Reade drew Dan in and got him aboard. Young
Dalzell's eyes were closed, nor did he speak.

Then Dick and Dave were pulled aboard the launch.

"Dan didn't seem to be able to free himself," Darrin explained
breathlessly. "His foot was wedged under a cleat in the canoe."

"Carry Dan aft," ordered Dick, while he was still clambering over
the rail. "Lay him face down."

Then, drenched as he was, Dick hastened aft, where he directed
others how to pat Dan on the back and to work his arms.

"We've got to get that water off his lungs," Dick explained.
"Don't stop working for a moment. I wish we had a barrel to roll
him on!"

"We will have soon," replied the launch's helmsman, rushing back
to his post and ringing the bell. Thus recalled to his post,
the engineer turned on the speed.

The craft made swiftly for Hiram Driggs' float. A few moments
later it ran alongside.

Warned by the whistle, Driggs and two of his workmen came running
out to the float.

"Get a barrel as quickly as you can!" shouted young Prescott.

By the time Dalzell had been hustled ashore the barrel was in
readiness. Dan received an energetic rolling. Three or four
little gushes of water issued from his mouth.

"Keep up the good work," ordered Dick feverishly. "We'll bring
him around soon."

When they saw that no more water was coming from Dalzell's mouth
the workers placed him in a sitting position, then began to pump-handle
his arms vigorously.

A tremor ran through the body of Danny Grin.

"Hurrah!" cried Dick. "He's going to open his eyes!"

This Dan did a few moments later. "Keep on working his arms,"
commanded Prescott.

"Quit!" begged Dalzell in a faint whisper. "You're hurting me."

"Good enough!" chuckled Dick. "Keep on at his arms until he can
talk a whole lot more."

"But isn't it cruel?" asked a girl.

"No," rejoined Tom Reade, turning to her. "Did you ever bring
a drowning man to?"

"Never, of course."

"Then let our Dick have his way. He generally knows what he's
about. No rudeness intended you understand," Reade added, smiling.

"This lad's all right, now," declared Hiram Driggs. "Help him
to his feet and walk him about a bit until he gets the whole trick
of breathing again. Dalzell, didn't you know any better than
to try to swallow the whole river and ruin my business?"

A faint grin parted Dan's lips.

"Oh, I'm so thankful," sighed Laura Bentley. "Dick, I was afraid
there would be but five of you left when I saw Dan being hoisted

Soon Dalzell was able to laugh nervously. Then a scowl darkened
his face.

"I'm the prize idiot of Gridley!" he muttered faintly.

"What's the matter now?" Dave Darrin demanded.

"The canoe is lost, and it's all my fault," moaned Dalzell. "Oh,
dear! Oh, dear!"

"Bother the canoe!" cried Dick impatiently. "We're lucky enough
that no lives have been lost."

"But I---I turned and upset the craft," wailed Dan.

"There were others of us," said Greg sheepishly. "If we had had
the sense of babies none of us would have turned, and there wouldn't
have been any accident."

"This is no time to talk about canoe etiquette," Prescott declared.
"Let us be thankful that we're all here. We'll wait until Dan
is himself again before we do any talking."

"I'm all right," protested Dan Dalzell.

"Yes; I believe you are," Driggs nodded.

"'T' any rate, you won't die now of that dose of river water."

"Party ready to come back aboard the launch?" called the helmsman.

"Oh, don't hurry us, just now!" appealed Laura Bentley, going
over to him quietly. "We're all so interested and concerned in
what is going on over here."

So the helmsman waited, grumbling quietly to himself.

Some twenty of the high school girls had chartered the launch
for a morning ride up the river. Dainty enough the girls looked
in their cool summer finery. They formed a bright picture as
they stood grouped about Dick & Co. and the other male members
of the party.

"You fellows can say all you want to," mumbled Dan, "but the canoe
is gone for good and all! We won't have any more fun in it this

"Was that what ailed you, Dan?" teased Darrin. "You felt so badly
over the loss of the canoe that you tried to stay on the bottom
of the river with it?"

"My foot was caught, and I couldn't get it loose," Dan explained.
"I was trying to free myself, like mad, you may be sure, when
all at once I didn't know anything more. You fellows must have
had a job prying my foot loose."

"It was something of a job," Dick smiled, "especially as our time
was so limited down there at the bottom with you. The river
must be twenty feet deep at that point."

"All of that," affirmed Hiram Driggs.

By this time the high school girls had divided into little groups,
each group with a member of Dick & Co. all to itself. The girls
were engaging in that rather senseless though altogether charming
hero worship so dear to the heart of the average schoolboy.

"What caused the accident?" inquired one girl.

"Gallantry," smiled Greg. "We were all so anxious to see you
girls that we all turned at the same time. We made the canoe
heel, and then it filled and went down. But you can't blame us,
can you?"

"But you've lost your fine big canoe," cried Laura Bentley, looking
as though her pretty eyes were about to fill with tears.

"Yes," Dick admitted, "and, of course, it's too bad. But a lot
of other worse things might have happened, and I guess we'll get
over our loss some way."

"But that canoe meant so much for your summer fun," Laura went
on. "Oh, it's too bad!"

"Maybe the canoe isn't lost," suggested Hiram Driggs.

"What do you mean, Mr. Driggs?" cried Laura, turning to him quickly.

"Is there any way of bringing the canoe up again?" asked Belle
Meade eagerly.

"There may be," Driggs replied quietly. "I'm going to have a
try at it anyway."

"All aboard that are going back to the dock," called the helmsman
of the launch, who was also her owner.

Laura turned upon him with flashing eyes.

"I don't believe there is anyone going," she said. "We wouldn't
leave here anyway, while there's a chance that the high school
boys can get their canoe back to the surface of the water. You
needn't wait, Mr. Morton. When we're ready we can walk the rest
of the way."



"I don't say that I can surely raise the canoe," Mr. Driggs made
haste to state, "or that it will be worth the trouble if we do
raise it. That canoe may have sunk on river-bottom rocks, and
she may be badly staved by this time. But I've sent one of my
men to fire the scow engine, and I'm going out to see what can
be done in the matter."

"And may we wait here?" asked Laura Bentley, full of eagerness.

"Certainly, young ladies."

"Oh, that's just fine of you, Mr. Driggs," cried Belle Meade.

Smoke soon began to pour out of the short funnel of the working
engine on the boatyard scow. It was a clumsy-looking craft---a
mere floating platform, with engine, propeller, tiller and a derrick
arrangement, but it had done a lot of good work at and about the

"You want to get aboard the scow now, boys," called Mr. Driggs.
"If we do anything real out yonder I'll have need of some willing

"Can't some of the girls go, too?" called a feminine voice. "We're
all dreadfully anxious, you know."

Hiram pursed up his mouth, as though reluctant. Then he proposed,

"A committee of two girls might go, if they're sure they'll keep
out of the way when we're working. Just two! Which of the young
ladies ought we to take, Mr. Prescott?"

"Why, I believe Miss Bentley and Miss Meade will be as satisfactory
a committee as can be chosen," Dick smiled.

Some of the girls frowned their disappointment at being left out,
but others clapped their hands. Laura and Belle stepped on the
scow's platform.

"I wouldn't try to go, if I were you, Dan," urged. Dick, as young
Dalzell stepped forward to board the scow.

"I'm all right," Dan insisted.

"Sure you're all right?" questioned Hiram Driggs, eyeing Danny
Grin's wobbly figure.

"Of course I am," Dan protested, though he spoke rather weakly.

"Then there's a more important job for you," declared Mr. Driggs.
"Stay here on the float with the rest of the young ladies, and
explain to them just what you see us doing out yonder."

There was the sound of finality about the boat builder's voice,
kindly as it was.

"Cast off," ordered Driggs, taking the tiller. "Tune up that
engine and give us some headway."

Clara Marshall was thoughtful enough to run back and get a chair,
which she brought down to the float and placed behind Dalzell.

"Sit down," she urged.

"Thank you," said Dan gratefully, "but I didn't need a chair."

Nevertheless the high school girls persuaded him to be seated.

"I---I wasn't drowned, you know," Dan protested as he sat down.

"No; but you got a little water into your lungs," responded one
of the girls. "I heard Mr. Driggs tell Dick Prescott that, as
nearly as they could guess, you opened your mouth a trifle just
before Dick and Dave reached you and freed you from that awful
trap. Mr. Driggs said that if you had been under water two minutes
longer there would have been a different story to tell."

"I wonder how long I was under water?" mused Dan.

"Long enough to drown, Danny Grin," replied Clara Marshall gravely.

Meanwhile the scow was making slow headway out into the river
and slightly up stream.

"Dick, don't you think this canoeing is going to prove too dangerous
a sport for you boys?" asked Laura, regarding him with anxious

"Not when we get so that we know how to behave ourselves in a
canoe, Laura," young Prescott answered.

"Yet, no matter how skilful you become, some unexpected accident
may happen at any moment," she urged.

"You wouldn't have us be mollycoddles, would you?" asked Dick
in surprise.

"Certainly not," replied Laura with emphasis.

"Yet you would advise us to avoid everything that may have some
touch of danger in it."

"I wouldn't advise that, either," Laura contended with sweet
seriousness. "But-----"

"You'd like to see us play football some day, wouldn't you?"

"I certainly hope you'll make the high school eleven."

"Football is undoubtedly more dangerous than canoeing," Dick claimed.

"It seems too bad that boys' best sports should be so dangerous,
doesn't it?" questioned young Miss Bentley.

"I can't agree with you," Dick answered quietly. "It takes danger,
and the ability to meet it, to form a boy's character into a man's."

"Then you believe in being foolhardy, as a matter of training?"
asked Laura, with a swift flash of her eyes.

"By no means," Prescott rejoined. "Foolhardy means just what
the word implies, and only a fool will be foolhardy. If we had
been trying to upset the canoe, as a matter of sport, that would
have been the work of young fools."

It was not difficult to locate the spot where the canoe had gone
down. The river's current was not swift, and the paddles now
floated not very far below the spot where the cherished craft
of Dick & Co. had gone down.

"Do you want the services of some expert divers, Mr. Driggs?"
asked Dave, turning from a brief chat with Belle Meade.

"Not you boys," retorted the boat builder. "You youngsters have
been fooling enough with the river bottom for one day."

"Then how do you expect to get hold of the canoe, sir?" asked
Tom Reade.

"We'll grapple with tackle," replied Driggs, going toward an equipment
box that stood on the forward end of the scow. "We'll use the
same kind of tackle that we've sometimes dragged the bottom with
when looking for drowned people."

Laura Bentley slivered slightly at his words. Driggs' keen eyes
noted the fact, and thereafter he was careful not to mention drowned
people in her hearing.

The tackle was soon rigged. Tom Reade and Harry Hazelton, who
possessed the keenest interest in things mechanical, aided the
boat builder under his direction.

Back and forth over the spot the scow moved, while the grapples
were frequently shifted and recast.

"Stop the engine," called Driggs. "We've hooked into something!"

Laura turned somewhat pale for a moment; Belle, too, looked uneasy.
The same thought had crossed both girls' minds. What if the
tackle had caught the body of some drowned man?

"We'll shift about here a bit," Driggs proposed, nodding to the
engineer to stand by ready to stop or start the engine on quick

Before long the grappling hook of another line was caught;

"The two lines are about twelve feet apart," Driggs announced.
"My idea is that we've caught onto two cross braces of the canoe.
If so we'll have it up in a jiffy."

Both lines were now made fast to the derrick, in such a way that
there would be an even haul on both lines. Belting was now connected
between the engine and a windlass.

"Haul away, very slowly," Driggs ordered.

Up came the lines, an inch at a time. Belle and Laura could not
resist the temptation to go to the edge of the scow and peer over.

"I see something coming up," cried Belle at last.

"It's the canoe," said Tom Reade, trying to speak carelessly,
though there was a ring of exultation in his voice.

Nearer and nearer to the surface of the water came the canoe.

"Now, watch for my hand signal all the time," called Driggs.
"I don't want to get the middle part of the canoe more than an
inch above the surface."

When the point of the canoe's prow rose above the surface of the
water a cheer went up from the scow that carried the news instantly
back to the landing float.

Danny Grin stood up, waving his hat and cheering hoarsely, while
the girls who surrounded him waved handkerchiefs and parasols.

Then the gunwale appeared just above water along the whole length.

"It will be a hard job to bail her out now," Dave declared.

"Not so hard that it will worry you any," Driggs smiled.

He dragged a pump over, allowing its flexible pipe to rest down
into the water in the canoe.

"Now, some of you youngsters get hold of the pump handles," Driggs

Five high school boys got hold with a will. Gradually, as the
water was emptied out of her the canoe rose higher and higher
in the water.

There was no cheering, now, from the boys on the scow. They were
using all their breath working the pump, while Driggs carefully
directed the bottom of the flexible tubing.

"There!" declared Driggs at last. "Barring a little moisture,
your canoe is as dry as ever it was, boys. I can't see a sign
of a leak anywhere, either. But don't make a practice of tipping
it over every day, for I can't afford to leave my work to help
you out. There's your canoe, and she's all right."

Dick got hold of the painter at the bow, while Driggs released
the grappling tackle.

What a cheer went up from the scow, and what a busy scene there
was on the float as the young women jumped up and down in their
glee over the good fortune of Dick & Co.

"Now, we'll cruise down and get the paddles," Driggs proposed.

"As soon as we pick up a couple of them, Dick and I can take the
canoe and get the rest," Dave suggested.

"You cannot, while the young ladies are with us," Hiram Driggs
contradicted. "Do you want to scare them to death by having another

Laura shot a grateful glance at kindly Hiram Driggs. The scow
moved forward, cruising among the paddles until all of them had
been recovered.

"Now, Mr. Driggs, won't you stop a moment?" asked young Prescott.
"It will be a bit humiliating to be towed into dock. Wait, and
let us get into the canoe. We'd rather take it ashore under
our own power."

Laura hoped Hiram Driggs would veto the idea, but he didn't.

The canoe was brought alongside, and five boys stepped carefully
into it, seating themselves.

"Room for one young lady in here, if we can find a fair way of
drawing lots between them," suggested Dick playfully.

"They won't step into the canoe, just now, if I can prevent them,"
Driggs declared flatly. "You boys want just a few minutes' more
practice at your new game before you risk the lives of these girls."

"You're right, I'm afraid, Mr. Driggs," Dick Prescott admitted
with a smile. "But, before long, we hope to take out as many
of the high school girls as care to step into this fine old war

"I hope you won't forget that," Belle Meade flashed at him smilingly.

"We won't," Dave promised her. "And you and Laura shall have
the first invitation."

"I shall be ready," Laura replied, "just as soon as you boys feel
that you can take proper care of us in the canoe."

"You'll have to do your own share of taking care," Tom Reade responded.
"About all a passenger has to learn in a canoe is to take a seat
right in the middle of the canoe, and to keep to that place without
moving about."

Dick & Co., minus Danny Grin, now paddled off, reaching the float
some moments before the scow got in.

"Young ladies," said Dick, as he stepped to the float, "I don't
know how many of you will care about going out in our canoe, but
we wish to invite all who would like it to try a trip within the
next few days. Four boys and two girls can go out at a time,
and in case of mishap that would leave two good swimmers to look
after each girl. We shall be glad if you will permit us to invite
you in couples."

Despite the accident of the morning the invitation was greeted
with enthusiasm.



Hiram Driggs refused to accept any money for his trouble in raising
the canoe.

"I won't charge you anything, unless upsetting your craft becomes
a troublesome habit," the boat builder declared. "Remember, I'm
a big winner on our birch bark trade."

Within the next four days all of the girls invited had been able
to take a trip up the river and back.

By this time Dick & Co. had fully acquired the mastery of their
canoe. They had had no more upsets, for "Big Chief Prescott,"
of this new Gridley tribe of young Indians, had succeeded in putting
through some rules governing their conduct when the chums were
out in their canoe. One of these rules was that no one should
change his position in the craft except the steersman at the stern.
Others would not look about at a hail unless informed by the
steersman that they might do so.

Not by any means did Dick do all the steering of the craft. Each
of his chums had a frequent turn at it, and at the other positions
in the canoe, until all were expert at any part of the work.

"But there is one big drawback about having this canoe," Greg
remarked one day.

"What's that?" asked Dave.

"There are no canoes to race with."

"There are up at Lake Pleasant," Dick replied.

"But we can't take the canoe up there," Tom Reade objected. "It's
twenty-four miles from Gridley."

"Couldn't we walk there and carry the canoe on our shoulders?"
suggested Dave.

While they were discussing this, the canoe lay on the float.,
whence they were soon to take it into the boathouse.

"We can try it now," suggested Dick.

Getting a good hold, Dick & Co. raised the war canoe to their
several shoulders. They found they could accomplish the feat,
though it wasn't an easy one.

"We'll have to give up that idea," Tom remarked rather mournfully.
"Without a doubt we could carry the canoe to Lake Pleasant, if
we had time enough. But I don't believe we could make five miles
a day with it. So to get the canoe up to Lake Pleasant on our
shoulders, and then back again would take over two weeks."

Dick was unusually thoughtful as the boys strolled from Driggs'
yard up to Main Street. Lake Pleasant was a fine place to visit
in summer. He knew that, for he had been there on one occasion.

On one side of the lake were two hotels, each with roomy recreation
grounds, with piers and plenty of boats. On this same side there
were four or five boarding houses for people of more moderate

Boating was the one great pastime at Lake Pleasant. Indeed, a
canoe club had been started there by young men of means, and the
boathouse stood at the water's edge on the Hotel Pleasant grounds.

Then, too, there may have been another reason for Dick's desire
to go to Lake Pleasant. The following week Dr. and Mrs. Bentley
were going to take charge of a party of Gridley high school girls,
at Lake Pleasant, and Laura and Belle Meade would be of the number.

"We'd cut a fine dash at Lake Pleasant," Dave Darrin laughed.
"Which hotel would we honor with our patronage? Terms, from
fourteen to twenty-five dollars a week. We've about enough money
to stay at one of the hotels for about two hours, or at a boarding
house for about nine hours. When shall we start---and how shall
we get there with our canoe?"

"We have about fifty dollars in our treasury, from the birch bark
business," Dick mused aloud, "but that won't help us any, will it?"

"Why, how much would it cost to have the canoe taken up there
on a wagon Danny Grin asked.

"Not less than fifteen dollars each way," Dick replied.

"We'll give it up," said Tom. "There's nothing in the Lake Pleasant
idea for us."

"I hadn't any idea we could do anything else but give it up,"
Dave observed, though he spoke rather gloomily.

Dick was still thinking hard, though he could think of no plan
that would enable them to make a trip to Lake Pleasant and remain
there for some days.

It was a Saturday afternoon. It had been a hot day, yet out on
the water, busy with their sport, and acquiring a deep coating
of sunburn, the boys had not noticed the heat especially. Now
they mopped their faces as they strolled almost listlessly along
the street.

"I want to go to Lake Pleasant," grumbled Danny Grin.

"Going to-night, or to-morrow morning?" teased Greg.

"If I had an automobile I'd start after supper," Dalzell informed

"But not having a car you'll wait till you're grown up and have
begun to earn money of your own," laughed Harry Hazelton.

"What do you say, Dick?" asked Dan Dalzell anxiously.

"I say that I'm going to put in a few days or a fortnight at Lake
Pleasant if I can possibly find the way," Dick retorted, with
a sudden energy that was quite out of keeping with the heat of
the afternoon.

"Hurray!" from Danny Grin.

"That's what I call the right talk," added Darrin.

"How will the rest of us get along with the canoe while you're
gone?" questioned Tom Reade.

"You don't suppose I'd go to Lake Pleasant without the rest of
the crowd?" Dick retorted rather scornfully.

"Then you're going to take us all with you, and the canoe, too?"
Tom demanded, betraying more interest.

"If I can find the way to do it, or if any of you fellows can,"
was young Prescott's answer.

That started another eager volley of talk. Yet soon all of them
save Dick looked quite hopeless.

The railroad ran only within eight miles of the lake. From the
railway station the rest of the journey was usually made by automobile
stages, while baggage went up on automobile trucks. Charges were
high on this automobile line up into the hills. To send the canoe
by rail, and then transfer it to an automobile truck would cost
more than to transport it direct from Gridley to the lake by wagon.

"We can talk about it all we want," sighed Tom, "but I don't see
the telephone poles on the golden road to Lake Pleasant."

"We've got to find the way if we can," Dick retorted firmly.
"Let's all set about it at once."

"When do we start?" teased Tom.

"Monday morning early," laughed Dave. "And this is late Saturday

Dan Dalzell was not in his usually jovial spirits. His heart
was as much set on going as was Dick's, but Dan now felt that
the pleasure jaunt was simply impossible.

"Let's meet on Main Street after supper," Dick proposed. "Perhaps
by that time we'll have found an idea or two."

"If we can find a pocketbook or two lying in the Main Street gutter,
that will be something more practical than finding ideas," Tom
replied with a doleful shake of his head. "But perhaps we'll
really find the pocketbooks. Such things are told of in story
books, anyway, you know."

"If we find any pocketbooks," smiled Dick, "our first concern
after that will be to find the owners of them. So that stunt
wouldn't do us much good, even if it happened."

Then the boys separated and went to their respective homes for
supper. But Dick Prescott did not eat as much as usual. He was
too preoccupied. He knew to a penny the amount that was in the
treasury of their little canoe club, for Mr. Prescott was holding
the money subject to his son's call. Certainly the money in the
treasury wouldn't bring about a vacation at Lake Pleasant.

Just as soon as the meal was over Dick went out, strolling back
to Main Street.

"'Lo, Dick!"

Prescott turned to recognize and nod to a barefooted boy, rather
frayed as to attire. Mart Heckler had been two classes below
him when Prescott had attended Central Grammar School. Now Mart
was waiting for the fall to enter the last grade at Central, which
was also to be his last year at school. Mart's parents were poor,
and this lad, in another year, must join the army of toilers.

"You must be having a lot of fun this vacation, Dick," remarked
Mart rather wistfully. "Lot of fun in that war canoe, isn't there?"

"Yes; there is, Mart. If we see you down at the float one of
these days we'll ask you out for a little ride."

"Will you?" asked Mart, his eyes snapping. "Fine! Now that you
fellows have your canoe I don't suppose you'll be trying to go
away anywhere this summer. Too much fun at home, eh?"

"I don't know about that," said young Prescott wistfully. "Just
now we're planning to try to take the canoe up to Lake Pleasant
for a while."

"Bully place, the lake," said Mart approvingly. "I'm going up
there Monday. Going to be gone for a couple of days."

"How are you going to get there?" Dick asked with interest.

"You know my Uncle Billy, don't you?" asked Mart. "He's the teamster,
you know. He's going to Lake Pleasant to get a load of furniture
that the installment folks are taking back from a new boarding
house up there. He said I could go up with him. We'll carry
our food, and sleep over Monday night in the wagon."

Dick halted suddenly, trembling with eagerness. He began to feel
that he had scented a way of getting the canoe up to the lake
in the hills!



"Your uncle will be at his regular stand to-night, won't he?" queried
Dick Prescott.

"I expect so," Mart agreed. "What's the matter? Do you want
to go along with us? I guess Uncle Billy would be willing."

At this moment Dick heard a group of younger boys laughing as
they strolled along the street.

Following their glances, Dick saw in the street what is commonly
known in small towns as the "hoss wagon"---a vehicle built for
the purpose of removing dead horses.

"There goes Fred Ripley's bargain!" chuckled one of the boys.

At that moment Fred Ripley himself turned the corner into Main

"And there's Rip himself," laughed another boy. "Hey, Rip! How's
horse flesh?"

But Fred, flushing angrily, hurried along. "What's up?" asked
young Prescott as the group of boys came along.

"Haven't you heard about Fred's pony?" asked one of the crowd.

"I know he bought a pony," Dick answered.

"Yes; but Squire Ripley had a veterinary go down to the Ripley
stable this afternoon, and look the pony over," volunteered the
ready informant. "Vet said that the pony would be worth a dollar
or two for his hide, but wouldn't be worth anything alive. So
Squire Ripley ordered the pony shot, and that cart is taking the
poor beast away."

"Is your canoe going to be a winner?" asked another boy.

"We expect so," Dick nodded.

"Great joke on Rip, isn't it?" grinned another.

"I can't say that his misfortune makes me especially happy," Prescott
answered gravely.

"Well, I'm glad he was 'stung' on his pony," continued the other
boy. "Rip is no good!"

"There is an old saying to the effect that, if we got our just
deserts we'd all of us be more or less unhappy," smiled Dick.

"Rip won't be so chesty with us smaller boys," predicted another
grammar school boy. "If he tries it on, all we've got to do is
to ask him, 'How's horse flesh, Rip?'"

In spite of himself Dick could not help laughing at the thought
of the mortification of the lawyer's son when he should be teased
on so tender a point. Then Dick asked:

"Mart, is your uncle at his stand now?"

"I reckon he is," nodded Heckler.

"Let's go over there and see him."

"You're going to try to take the ride with us, then?" asked Mart.

"I think so."

"Bully!" glowed Mart, who, like most of the younger boys of Gridley,
was a great admirer of the leader of Dick & Co.

Billy Heckler, a man of thirty, was, indeed, to be found at his

"Dick wants to go up to Lake Pleasant with us on Monday," Mart
began, but Dick quickly added:

"I understand, Mr. Heckler, that you're going up to the lake without
a load."

"Yes," nodded the truckman.

"Then it struck me that perhaps I could arrange with you to take
up our canoe and some bedding, and also let the fellows ride on
the wagon."

"How many of you are there?" inquired Billy Heckler.

"The usual six," Dick smiled. "If you can do it, how much would
you charge us?"

"Fifteen dollars," replied the driver, after a few moments' thought.

Dick's face showed his disappointment at the answer.

"I'm afraid that puts us out of it, then," he said quietly. "I
had hoped that, as you are going up without a load, anyway, you
might be willing to take our outfit up for a few dollars. It
would be that much to the good for you, wouldn't it?"

"Hardly," Billy replied. "Carrying a load takes more out of a
team than an empty wagon does. You can see that, can't you?"

"Ye-es," Dick nodded thoughtfully. "But, you see, we're only
boys, and we can't talk money quite like men yet."

"Some men can't do anything with money except talk about it,"
Billy Heckler grinned. "Well, I'd like to oblige you boys. What's
your offer, then?"

"We don't feel that we could pay more than five dollars," Dick
answered promptly.

"No money in that," replied Billy Heckler, picking up a piece
of wood and whittling.

"No; I'm afraid there isn't," Dick admitted. "I guess our crowd
will have to content itself with staying at home and using the
canoe on the river."

"The river is a good place," Heckler argued. "Why aren't you
all content to stay at home and use your canoe on the river?"

"Because," smiled young Prescott, "I suppose it's human nature
to want to get away somewhere in the summer. Then we understand
that there are other crew canoes on Lake Pleasant. Of course,
now we've spent a few days in the canoe, we believe we're real
canoe racers."

"If you could call it ten dollars," Heckler proposed after a few
minutes, "that might-----"

"The crowd hasn't money enough," Dick replied. "You see, we've
got to get the canoe back, too. Then we'll have to use money
to feed ourselves up there. I don't see how we can go if we have
to spend more than five dollars to get there."

Billy Heckler started to shake his head, but Mart, getting behind
Dick, made vigorous signals.

"We-ell, I suppose I can do it," agreed Heckler at last. "There's
nothing in the job, but I can remember that I used to be a boy
myself. We'll call it a deal, then, shall we?"

"I'll have to see the other fellows first," Prescott answered.
"I'll hustle, though. The fellows will all have to get permission
at home, too, you know."

"Let me know any time before six to-morrow night," proposed Billy.
"It must be understood, though, that if I get a paying freight
order to haul to the lake between now and starting time, then
my deal with you must be off."

"Of course," Dick agreed. "And thank you, Mr. Heckler. Now,
I'll hustle away and see the other fellows."

Dick sped promptly away. When he reached Main Street he found
the other fellows there. Dick gleefully detailed the semi-arrangement
that he had made.

"Great!" cried Dave.

"Grand, if we can all square matters at home," Tom Reade nodded.
"Well, fellows, you all know what we've got to do now. We'll
meet again at this same place. All do your prettiest coaxing
at home. It spoils the whole thing if anyone of us gets held
up from the trip. Did you hear about Rip's pony, Dick?"


"Served him ri---" began Greg Holmes, but stopped suddenly.

For Fred Ripley, turning the corner, saw Dick & Co., and carefully
walked around them to avoid having to pass through the little

"Speaking of angels-----!" said Dave Darrin dryly.

"Don't tease him, Darry," urged Dick in a very low voice.

But Fred heard all their remarks. His fists clenched as he walked
on with heightened color.

"It's just meat to them to see me so badly sold on the pony, and
to know that my father ordered the animal shot and carted away!"
muttered young Ripley fiercely. "Of course the whole town knows
of it by this time. Prescott's muckers and a few others will
be in high glee over my misfortune, but, anyway, I'll have the
sympathy of all the decent people in Gridley!"

Fred's ears must have burned that night, however, for the majority
of the Gridley boys were laughing over his poor trade in horse



On the landing stage at the Hotel Pleasant a group of girls stood
on the following Tuesday morning.

"Wouldn't Dick and Dave and the rest of their crowd enjoy this
lake if they were here with their canoe?" asked Laura Bentley.

"Yes," agreed Belle Meade. "And very likely they'd win some more
laurels for Gridley High School, too. Preston High School has
a six-paddle canoe here now, and Trentville High School will send
a canoe crew here in a few days. Oh, how I wish the boys could
manage to get here with their war canoe!"

"It seems too bad, doesn't it," remarked Clara Marshall, "that
some of the nicest boys in our high school are so poor that they
can't do the ordinary things they would like to do?"

"Some of the boys in Dick & Co. won't be poor when they've been
out of school ten years," Laura predicted, with a glowing face.

"I don't believe any of them will be poor by that time," agreed
Clara. "But it must hurt them a good deal, just now, not to have
more money."

"I wish they could be here now," sighed Laura.

"You want to see Gridley High School win more laurels in sports
and athletics?" asked another girl.

"Yes," assented Miss Bentley, "and I'd like to see the boys here,
anyway, whether they won a canoe race or not."

"There's a crew canoe putting off from the other side now!" announced
Belle Meade.

"That's probably Preston High School," said Laura.

"Have the Preston boys a war canoe, too?" asked one of the girls,
shading her eyes with her hand, and staring hard at the canoe
across the lake, some three quarters of a mile away.

"Someone at the hotel said the Preston boys have a cedar and canvas
canoe," Laura replied.

"That's a birch-bark canoe over yonder," declared the girl who
was studying the distant craft so intently. "I can tell by the
way the sun shines on the wet places along the sides of the canoe."

The other girls were now looking eagerly. "Wait a moment," begged
Clara, and, turning, sped lightly to the boathouse near by. She
returned with a telescope.

"Hurry!" begged Laura Bentley as Clara started to focus the telescope.

"You take it," proposed Clara generously, passing the glass to

Laura soon had the telescope focused.

"Hurrah, girls!" she cried. "That's the war canoe from Gridley,
and Dick & Co. are in it."

She passed the glass to Belle Meade, who took an eager peep through

"Hurrah! Gridley High School! Hurrah!" chorused the other girls.

Their voices must have traveled across the water, for Prescott,
at the stern of the war canoe, suddenly gave a couple of strokes
with his wet, flashing paddle, that swung the prow around, driving
the canoe straight in the direction of the landing float.

"Hurrah! Gridley High School! Hurrah!" called the girls again,
giving the high school yell of the girls of that institution of

In answer a series of whoops came over the water.

"They're coming at racing speed!" cried Laura.

"Which shows how devoted the boys of our high school are to the
young ladies," laughed Belle.

Within a few minutes the canoe was quite close, and coming on
swiftly. From the young paddlers went up the vocal volley:

"T-E-R-R-O-R-S-! Wa-ar! Fam-ine! Pesti-i-lence! That's us!
That's us! G-R-I-D-L-E-Y-----H.S.! Rah! rah! rah! Gri-dley!"

"Hurrah! Gridley! Hurrah!" answered the girls.

"Whoop! Wow! wow! _Whoo-oo-oo-oop_! Indians! Cut-throats!
Lunch-robbers! Bad, bad, bad! Speed Club! Glee Club! Canoe
Club---Gridley H.S.!" volleyed back Dick & Co.

It was the first time that they had let out their canoe yell in
public. They performed it lustily, with zest and pride.

"Splendid!" cried some of the girls, clapping their hands. Though
it was not quite plain whether they referred to the new yell,
or to the skilful manner in which the boys now brought their craft
in. At a single "Ugh!" from Prescott they ceased paddling. Dick,
with two or three turns of his own paddle, brought the canoe in
gently against the float. Now Dave and Dick held the canoe to
the float with their paddles while the other young Indians, one
at a time, stepped out. Those who had landed now bent over, holding
the gunwale gently while Dave, first, and then Dick, stepped to
the float.

"Up with it, braves! Out with it!" cried Dick. The canoe, grasped
by twelve hands, was drawn up on to the float, where its wet hull
lay glistening in the bright July sunlight.

"You never told us you were coming up here!" cried Laura Bentley,
half reproachfully.

"If you're bored at seeing us," proposed Dick, smilingly, "we'll
launch our bark and speed away again."

"Of course we're not bored," protested Belle Meade. "But why
couldn't you tell us you were coming?"

"We weren't sure of it until late Sunday afternoon," Dave assured
her. "Some of us had to do some coaxing at home before we got

"How did you get that big canoe here?" Clara Marshall asked.

"Don't you see the gasoline engine and the folded white wings
inside the canoe?" asked Tom Reade gravely. "We can use it either
as a canoe or as an airship."

Three or four of the girls, Clara at their head, stepped forward
to look for engine and "wings," then stepped back, laughing.

"You're such a fibber, Tom Reade!" declared Susie Sharp.

"A falsifier?" demanded Tom indignantly. "Nothing like it, Miss
Susie! The worst you can say of me is that I have the imagination
of an inventor."

"Tweedledum and tweedledee!" laughed Clara.

"It does seem good to see you boys up here," Belle went on with
enthusiasm. "How long are you going to stay?"

"In other words, how soon are you going to be rid of us?" asked
Danny Grin.

"Are you speaking for yourself, Mr. Dalzell?" Belle returned tartly.
"I inquired more particularly about the others."

Dan quite enjoyed the laugh on himself, though he replied quickly:

"The others have to go home when I do. They had to promise that
they would do so."

"We have been camping at Lake Pleasant for two days," Dick explained.
"We came up herewith our canoe and camping outfit on Billy Heckler's
wagon. We brought along Harry's bull-dog to watch the camp.
As to how long we'll stay, that depends."

"Depends upon what?" Clara asked.

"On how long our funds hold out," Prescott explained, with a frank
smile. "You see, all our Wall Street investments have turned
out badly."

"I'm truly sorry to hear that young men of your tender age should
have been drawn into the snares of Wall Street," retorted Clara

"So, having had some disappointments in high finance," Prescott
went on, "we can stay only as long as our _dog fund_ lasts."

"Dog fund?" asked Susie Sharp, looking bewildered.

"Dick is talking about the money we made in bark," Greg Holmes
explained readily.

"Then you really expect to be here a fortnight?" Laura asked.

"Yes; if we don't develop too healthy appetites and eat up our
funds before the fortnight is over," Dick assented.

"Oh, you mustn't do that," urged Belle.

"Mustn't do what?" Dave asked.

"Don't eat up your funds too quickly," Belle explained.

"Even if you do," suggested Susie Sharp, teasingly, "you won't
need to hurry home. We girls know where there are several fine
fields of farm truck that can be robbed late at night. Potatoes,
corn, watermelons-----"

"It's really very nice of you girls to offer to rob the farmers'
fields to find provender for us," returned Greg. "But I am afraid
that we boys have been too honestly brought up to allow ourselves
to become receivers of stolen-----"

"Greg Holmes!" Susie Sharp interrupted, her face turning very

"No; it's nice of you, of course," Greg went on tantalizingly,
"but we'd rather have a short vacation, that we can tell the whole
truth about when we go home."

"You boys may starve, if you like," retorted Susie, with a toss
of her head. "I'm through with trying to help you out."

"You know, Susie," Danny Grin went on maliciously, "farmers' fields
are often guarded by dogs. Just think how you would feel, trying
to climb a tree on a dark night, with a bulldog's teeth just two
inches from the heels of your shoes."

"Who are up here, in the way of canoe folks?" Dick asked Laura.

She told him about the Preston High School boys and the coming
crew from Trentville High School.

"We ought to be able to get up some good races," remarked Dave.

"You'll disgrace Gridley High School, though, unless you drop
Danny Grin and Greg Holmes," retorted Susie.

"Now, don't be too hard on us, Miss Sharp," tantalized Greg, "just
because we tried to dissuade you from committing a crime with
the otherwise laudable intention of feeding us when our money
runs out."

"If you will only leave Greg and Dan out," proposed Clara, "you
may call on any two of us girls that you want to take their places
in the canoe on race days."

"Whew!" muttered Dick suddenly.

"What's wrong?" demanded Belle.

"Don't mind Prescott," urged Tom Reade. "Just as we left shore
on the other side someone threw a stone into the lake and raised
a succession of ripples, which rocked the canoe a bit. So---well,
you've all heard of sea sickness, haven't you?"

"We might feel worse than sea sick," Dick went on, "if we had
raced, and then suddenly remembered that we have no authorization
from Gridley High School to represent the school in sporting events."

Tom's face fell instantly. Dave Darrin, too, looked suddenly
very serious.

"What's the matter?" asked Laura anxiously.

"Why, you see," Dick went on, "although we are sure enough Gridley
High School boys, we haven't gone through the simple little formality
of getting our canoe club recognized by the High School Athletic

"You can race just the same, can't you?" asked Susie Sharp, looking
much concerned.

"We may race all we wish, and no one will stop us-----"

"Then it's all right," said Susie, with an air of conviction.

"But we simply cannot race in the name of Gridley High School."

"Oh, but that's too bad!" cried Clara.

"You can write to someone in the Council and secure the necessary
authorization, can't you?" asked Laura.

"Yes, we can write; but it's another matter to get action by the
Council in time," Dick responded. "You see, it's the vacation
season. There are seven members of the Athletic Council and I
believe that all seven of the members are at present away from
Gridley. Likely as not they are in seven different states, and
the secretary may not even know where most of them are."

Eight Gridley High School girls suddenly looked anxious. They
had been rejoicing in the prospect of "rooting" for a victorious
Gridley crew here at Lake Pleasant. Now the whole thing seemed
to have fallen flat.

"The thing to do---though it doesn't look very promising---is
to-----" began Tom Reade, then came to dead stop.

"How provoking you can be, when you want to, Tom," pouted Clara.
"Why don't you go on?"

"Because I found myself stuck fast in a new quagmire of thought,"
Reade confessed humbly. "What I was about to say is that the
first thing to do is to write to Mr. William Howgate, secretary
of the Gridley High School Athletic Council of the Alumni Association.
But that was where the thought came in and stabbed me with a
question mark. Mr. Howgate is out of town. Does anyone here
know his address?"

Fourteen Gridley faces looked blank until Dick at last remarked:

"I suppose a letter sent to his address in Gridley would reach
him. It would be forwarded."

"Thank goodness for one quick-witted boy in Gridley High School!"
uttered Belle. "Of course a letter would be forwarded."

"And there isn't any time to be lost, either," urged Susie. "Girls,
we'll take Dick right up to the hotel now, and sit and watch him
while he writes and mails that letter."

"Right!" came a prompt chorus.

"Come along, boys," added Susie, as the girls started away with
their willing captive.

"Let Dave go," spoke up Tom. "Some of us must stay behind and
stand by our canoe. It's valuable---to us!"

So Darrin was shoved forward. He and Prescott had walked a few
yards when the latter stopped in sudden dismay.

"What's the matter?" asked Clara.

"We are dressed all right for our own camp," Dick replied, glancing
down at his flannel shirt, old trousers and well-worn pair of
canvas "sneakers" on his feet. "We didn't feel out of place in
the canoe, either. But the hotel is a fashionable place, and
we can't go up in this sort of rig, to discredit you girls. For
that matter, just think how smart you all look yourselves, dressed
in the daintiest of summer frocks. While we look like---well,
I won't say the word."

"If our Gridley boys are ashamed to be seen with us just because
they're in rough camp attire," said Laura gently, "then we haven't
as much reason to be proud of them as we thought we had."

"I'm answered," Dick admitted humbly. "Lead on, then. We'll
take comfort from our company, and hold our heads as high as we

On to the wide hotel porch, where many well-dressed people sat,
the girls conducted the two delegates from the canoe club. However,
none of the guests on the porch paid any particular attention
to Dick and Dave. Both campers and canoers were common enough
at this summer resort.

It was Clara who led the way into a parlor, in one corner of which
there was a writing desk. Dick seated himself at the desk, and
after a moment's thought began to write, then promptly became
absorbed in his task. Dave and the girls seated themselves at
a little distance, chatting in low tones.

There were other guests of the Hotel Pleasant in the parlor, while
still others passed in or out from time to time.

One young man, quite fashionably dressed, stepped into the parlor,
looked about him, then started as his glance fell on Dick and Dave.

It was Fred Ripley.

"Hello!" muttered Ripley in a voice just loud enough to carry,
as he stood looking at Dick and Dave. "I thought I saw, out in
the grounds, a sign that read: 'No tramps, beggars or peddlers
allowed on these grounds or in the hotel.'"

Dick's fingers trembled so that he dropped the pen, though he
tried to conceal his feelings.

Dave Darrin's fists clenched tightly, though he had the good sense
to realize that to start a fight in the parlor was out of the

Ripley's remark had been loud enough to attract the attention
of nearly every person in the big room toward Dick and Dave.



Laura Bentley bit her lips. She flushed, then started to rise,
but Susie Sharp gently pushed her back into her seat, then crossed
to an electric button in the frame of a window.

A bell-boy promptly answered Susie's ring.

"Will you kindly ask the manager to come here at once?" asked

As it happened, the manager was no further away than the corridor.
He came in quickly, bowing.

"Mr. Wright," asked Susie coldly, nodding toward Fred Ripley,
who stood leaning over a chair, smiling insolently, "will you
kindly have this objectionable person removed? He is annoying
our guests."

In a twinkling Fred's insolent smile vanished. Susie's request
had not been voiced in a loud tone, but it had been heard by perhaps
twenty-five strangers in the parlor.

Ripley's face paled, briefly, then became fiery red. He stood
erect, stammered inarticulately, then looked as though he were
furtively seeking some hiding place.

"I think, Miss Sharp," replied the hotel manager, with another
bow, "that the young man is on the point of leaving, and that
the services of a porter will not be needed."

Fred tried to look unconcerned; he fished mentally for something
smart to say. For once, however, his self assurance had utterly
deserted him.

"Oh---well!" he muttered, then turned and left the parlor in the
midst of a deep silence that completed his utter humiliation.

"Mr. Wright," said Laura, "I want you to know Mr. Darrin, one
of our most popular high school boys in Gridley. Dick, can't
you come over here a moment? Mr. Wright, Mr. Prescott. Our two
friends, Mr. Wright, have brought up a racing canoe. They are
camping across the lake. We hope they will arrange for races
with the Preston and Trentville High School Canoe Clubs."

"I am most glad to meet your friends," said the manager, shaking
hands with Dick and Dave. "Two of the Preston High School young
men are stopping here in the house, and the others are over at
the Lakeview House. I hope, Mr. Prescott, that we shall be able
to have some fine high school races. It will increase the gayety
of the season here."

"Thank you," said Dick. "But I am afraid, sir, that we have been
worse than neglectful---stupid.

"How so?" asked Mr. Wright, his manner quickly putting both rather
shabby-looking boys wholly at their ease.

"Why, sir," Prescott explained, "we had never thought, until this
morning, to secure authorization from the Athletic Council of
our school to represent Gridley High School. I am now engaged
in writing a letter asking for that authorization."

"Let me take a hand in this," begged Mr. Wright. "Is your letter
at all of a private nature?"

"Not in the least, sir."

"May I see it?"

"Certainly, Mr. Wright."

The hotel manager followed Dick to the writing desk, where he
glanced over the letter.

"I have only one suggestion to make," said the manager. "Why
not ask the secretary, Mr. Howgate, to send his answer by telegraph
to this hotel, collect?"

"That would be all right," agreed Dick frankly, "if his answer
isn't too long, or if he doesn't have to send more than one telegram.
We are not exactly overburdened with funds, Mr. Wright."

"That doesn't cut any figure at all," replied the hotel manager
in a voice so low that none but Prescott heard him. "Any telegrams
sent here for you will be paid for by the hotel. There will be
no expense to you, Mr. Prescott."

"I'm afraid I don't understand why you should do this, Mr. Wright,"
said Dick, looking at the other attentively.

"Purely a matter of business, my boy," the hotel manager beamed
down at him. "Such racing as I hope to have here on Lake Pleasant
constitutes a summer season attraction. Arrange a schedule of
races, and you may be sure that both hotels will advertise the
fact. It will be enough to draw a lot of young people here, and
this hotel thrives by the number of guests that it entertains.
So will you do me the favor of asking your Mr. Howgate to telegraph
his answer---collect---addressing it here?"

That began to look like something that Prescott could understand.
He called Dave over to him and told his chum what was being discussed.

"Fine!" glowed Darrin. "Thank you, Mr. Wright."

So Dick made the suggested addition to the letter. After he addressed
an envelope and had sealed it the manager took the letter away
to mail. Then he returned to say, with a tactfulness that won
the hearts of the eight Gridley High School girls:

"Mr. Prescott, you and your friends will oblige me if you will
make this hotel your headquarters when you are on this side of
the lake. We shall always be delighted to see you here."

Thanking the manager for his courtesy, Dick and Dave accompanied
Laura to the porch; where they were introduced to some of the
other guests. Then the two boys and the girls started down to
the lakeside once more.

"Mr. Wright was very kind," murmured Dick gratefully.

"He never fails in courtesy toward anyone," replied Laura. "You
boys will come over every day, won't you? We must have a picnic
or two."

"And you must all visit our camp." Dick urged. "It isn't much
of a place, but the welcome will be of the real Gridley kind.
If you dare take the risk, we'll even offer you a camp meal."

"The farmers' gardens are in danger, after all, then," laughed
Susie. "If you are going to deplete your larders to entertain
us, we girls will surely rob the farmers to make up for what we

Susie's face had grown so grave that Prescott could not help regarding
her quizzically.

"I mean just what to say about robbing the farmers, don't I, girls?"
Susie asked.

"Yes," agreed Laura Bentley promptly. She had no idea what was
passing in her friend's head, but she knew Susie well enough to
feel sure that the latter was planning nothing very wicked.

"Can't we take you out, two at a time?" proposed Dick, as the
young people neared the float.

"Now?" inquired Laura.

"Yes; since 'now' is always the best time for doing things," Prescott

In no time at all the plan had been agreed to. Clara and Susie
went out for the first ride in the canoe, Tom Reade taking command,
while Dick and Dave remained on the float.

Two at a time the girls were taken out on the water. This consumed
nearly two hours of time altogether, but it was thoroughly enjoyed
by every member of the party.

But at last it came close, indeed, to the luncheon hour.

"Now, when are you coming over to that picnic in our camp?" Dick
asked in an outburst of hospitality.

"At what time of the day?" Laura inquired.

"If your mother and Mrs. Meade will come along as chaperons,"
Dick answered, "night would be the best time."

"Why at night?"

"Because, then, you wouldn't be able to see the shabby aspect
of our camp so plainly."

"It would be very jolly to go over and have a picnic meal by the
campfire," Belle agreed. "Yet, in that case, we would want to
reach your place by half-past four or so in the afternoon."


"So that we girls may have the fun of helping prepare a famous
feast," Miss Meade went on. "Boys, if we come, we shall pass
luncheon by and bring keen appetites for that evening feast.
What is the principal item on the bill of fare of your camp?"

"Canned goods," replied Tom Reade.

"Don't you believe him," Dick interjected quickly. "Lake trout,
bass and perch. This lake is well stocked, and we have already
found one splendid fishing hole. We got up at five this morning
and caught so many fish in half an hour that we threw some of
them back into the water because we had no ice."

"Will your mothers come, if we have it in the evening?" asked
Dick looking at Laura and Belle.

"Surely," nodded Laura quickly.

"And we'll greatly enjoy it," Dick went on, "if Dr. Bentley will
also come. Is your father here, Miss Meade?"

"I'm sorry to say that he isn't," Belle answered. "A real picnic,
in real woods, beside real water, would appeal to him strongly."

"But we haven't fixed upon the date," cried Susie impatiently.

"How would to-morrow night do?" Dick suggested.

"Famously," Laura replied. "Now, boys, you catch the fish to-morrow
afternoon, and don't bother so much about the other things to
eat. We won't have any canned stuff in our famous feast. We
girls will bring all the garden stuff."

"And will steal it from the farmers, at that," added Susie teasingly.

"Yes, you will!" mocked Danny Grin good-humoredly.

"I give you our word that we'll steal everything that we bring
in the garden line," Susie declared vigorously.

"Then you'll arrange it with the farmer in advance," Greg laughed.

"I give you our word that we won't do that, either," laughed Laura,
coming to her friend's support, though she had no idea what was
passing in Susie's busy little head.

"There goes the luncheon bell!" cried Dick reproachfully. "We're
keeping you girls away from your meal. Come on, fellows. Into
the canoe with you."

"But you'll be back here to-morrow morning?" pressed Miss Bentley.

"Yes; at what time?"

"Ten o'clock."

"You'll find us here punctually."

Dick & Co. paddled back to their camp feeling that they were having
a most jolly time, with all the real fun yet to come.

Dick did not think it worth while to go over to the hotel again
that day, to see if a telegram had come. He was certain that
the letter would not find Mr. Howgate earlier than the next day,
in any event.

But at ten o'clock the next morning Dick & Co., having put the
best possible aspect on their attire, paddled gently in alongside
the float of the Hotel Pleasant.

Even before they had landed, Fred Ripley, who was stopping with
his father and mother at the Lakeview House, alighted from an
automobile runabout in the woods some two hundred yards from the
lakeside camp of Dick & Co.

"Those muckers are away," Fred told himself, as he watched the
war canoe go in at the hotel float. "Now, if I have half as much
ingenuity as I sometimes think I have, I believe I can cut short
their stay here by rendering that cheap crowd homeless---and foodless!"



Fred studied the now distant canoe, then glanced carefully about
the camp.

He knew that any sign of his presence, observed by Dick & Co.,
would be sure to result in the swift return of the canoe, with
its load of six indignant boys.

Nor did young Ripley dare to risk discovery as the perpetrator
of the outrage he was now planning. He feared his father's certain

"There are screens of bushes behind which I can operate," Ripley
decided. "I am glad of the bushes, for, if I use care, not a
living soul can see me. Now, for some swift work."

It did not take Ripley long to discover where the boys' food supply
was stored.

"These fellows act like boobs!" muttered Fred in disgust. "Here
they go away and leave everything exposed. If they didn't have
an enemy in the world, even then some tramp could come along and
clean out the camp. Humph! Two tramps, if they wanted to work
for a little while, could carry away all the food there is here.
What a lot of poor, penniless muckers Prescott and his friends

Again Fred studied the lay of the land, then drew off his coat
and flung it aside.

"Now, to work!" he said to himself gleefully.

First of all, he got the food supplies all together. Most of this
stuff was in the form of canned goods. Ripley gathered it up in
one big pile.

Then he stepped over to the tent, from which, at several points
and angles he looked carefully over to the hotel landing float
on the other side of Lake Pleasant.

"They can't see, from the hotel, whether the tent is down or up,"
Fred determined. "So here goes!"

Opening the largest blade of his pocketknife, Fred cut one of
the guy-ropes. He passed around the tent, cutting each one in
turn, until the canvas shelter fell over in a white mass.

"Won't they be sore, though?" laughed Fred maliciously, as he
started to carry off the camp supplies.

Gr-r-r-r-r! Gr-r-r-r!

Just as Fred was straightening up to start off with his load for
a bush-screen near the lake front, Ripley heard that ominous growl.
There was also the sound of something moving through the bushes.

As Fred turned his face blanched.

"Harry Hazelton's bull-dog!" he quivered, now utterly frightened
as he caught sight of the gleaming teeth in that ugly muzzle.
"I didn't know that they had brought that beast with them. It's
the lake for mine! If I can only get into the water I can swim
faster than the dog!"

All this flashed through his mind in an Instant. Young Ripley
started in full flight.

Close behind him, bounding savagely, came the bull-dog, Towser!

Trip! Fred's foot caught in a root. Crying out in craven fright,
Fred Ripley plunged to the ground.

There was no time to rise. Towser, growling angrily, was upon
him with a bound.

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