The Boy Scouts of the Eagle Patrol
Robert Drake

Part 1 out of 4

Produced by Sean Pobuda


By Lieut. Howard Payson



The dark growth of scrub oak and pine parted suddenly and the
lithe figure of a boy of about seventeen emerged suddenly into
the little clearing. The lad who had so abruptly materialized
from the close-growing vegetation peculiar to the region about
the little town of Hampton, on the south shore of Long Island,
wore a well-fitting uniform of brown khaki, canvas leggings of
the same hue and a soft hat of the campaign variety, turned up at
one side. To the front of his headpiece was fastened a metal
badge, resembling the three-pointed arrow head utilized on old
maps to indicate the north. On a metal scroll beneath it were
embossed the words: "Be Prepared."

The manner of the badge's attachment would have indicated at
once, to any one familiar with the organization, that the lad
wearing it was the patrol leader of the local band of Boy Scouts.

Gazing keenly about him on all sides of the little clearing in
the midst of which he stood, the boy's eyes lighted with a gleam
of satisfaction on a largish rock. He lifted this up, adjusted
it to his satisfaction and then picked up a smaller stone. This
he placed on the top of the first and then listened intently.
After a moment of this he then placed beneath the large
underlying rock and at its left side a small stone.

Suddenly he started and gazed back. From the distance, borne
faintly to his ears, came far off boyish shouts and cries.

They rose like the baying of a pack in full cry. Now high, now
low on the hush of the midsummer afternoon.

"They picked the trail all right," he remarked to himself, with a
smile, "maybe I'd better leave another sign."

Stooping he snapped off a small low-growing branch and broke it
near the end so that its top hung limply down.

"Two signs now that this is the trail," he resumed as he stuck it
in the ground beside the stone sign. "Now I'd better be off, for
they are picking my tracks up, fast."

He darted off into the undergrowth on the opposite side of the
clearing, vanishing as suddenly and noiselessly as he had

A few seconds later the deserted clearing was invaded by a
scouting party of ten lads ranging in years from twelve to
sixteen. They were all attired in similar uniforms to the
leader, whom they were tracing, with but one exception they wore
their "Be Prepared" badges on the left arm above the elbow. Some
of them were only entitled to affix the motto part of the badge
the scroll inscribed with the motto. These latter were the
second-class scouts of the Eagle Patrol. The exception to the
badge-bearers was a tall, well-knit lad with a sunny face and
wavy, brown hair. His badge was worn on the left arm, as were
the others, but it had a strip of white braid sewn beneath it.
This indicated that the bearer was the corporal of the patrol.

As the group of flushed, panting lads emerged into the sandy
space the corporal looked sharply about him. Almost at once his
eye encountered the "spoor" left by the preceding lad.

"Here's the trail, boys," he shouted, "and to judge by the fresh
look of the break in this branch it can't have been placed here
very long. The small stone by the large one means to the left.
We'll run Rob Blake down before long for all his skill if we have
good luck."

"Say, Corporal Merritt," exclaimed a perspiring lad, whose "too,
too solid flesh" seemed to be melting and running off his face in
the form of streaming moisture, "don't we get a rest?"

A general laugh greeted poor Bob or Tubby Hopkins' remark.

"I always told you, Tubby, you were too fat to make a good
scout," laughed Corporal Merritt Crawford, "this is the sort of
thing that will make you want to take some of that tubbiness off

"Say, Tubby, you look like a roll of butter at an August picnic,"
laughed Simon Jeffords, one of the second-class scouts.

"All right, Sim," testily rejoined the aggrieved fat one, "I
notice at that, though, that I am a regular scout while you are
only a rookie."

"Come on, cut out the conversation," exclaimed Corporal Crawford
hastily, "while we are fussing about here, Rob Blake must be
halfway home."

With a groan of comical despair from poor Tubby, the Boy Scouts
darted forward once more. On and on they pushed across country,
skillfully tracking their leader by the various signs they had
been taught to know and of which the present scouting expedition
was a test.

Their young leader evidently intended them to use their eyes to
the utmost for, beside the stone signs, he used blaze-marks, cut
on the trees with his hunting knife. For instance, at one place
they would find a square bit of bark removed, with a long slice
to the left of it. This indicated that their quarry had doubled
to the left. The slice to the right of the square blaze
indicated the reverse.

Suddenly Corporal Crawford held up his hand as a signal for
silence. The scouts came to an abrupt stop.

From what seemed to be only a short distance in front of them
they could hear a voice upraised apparently in anger. Replying
to it were the tones of their leader.

"Seems to be trouble ahead of some kind," exclaimed Crawford.
"Come on, boys."

They all advanced close on his heels--guided by the sound of the
angry voice, which did not diminish in tone but apparently waxed
more and more furious as they drew nearer. Presently the
woodland thinned and the ground became dotted with stumps of
felled timber and in a few paces more they emerged on a small
peach orchard at the edge of which stood Rob Blake and a larger
and older boy. As Crawford and his followers came upon the scene
the elder lad, who seemed beside himself with rage, picked up a
large rock and was about to hurl it with all his might at Rob
when the young corporal dashed forward and held his hand up to
stay him.

"Here, what's all this trouble?" he demanded.

"You just keep out of it, Merritt Crawford," said the elder lad,
a hulking, thick-set youth with a mean look on his heavy
features. "I'm just reading this kid here a lesson. This
orchard is my father's and mine and you'll keep out of it in
future or suffer the consequences, understand?"

"Why, we aren't doing any harm," protested Rob Blake heatedly.

"I don't care what you are doing or not doing," retorted the
other, "this is my father's orchard and you'll keep off it. You
and the rest of you tin soldiers. I don't want you stealing our

"I guess you are sore, Jack Curtiss, because you couldn't get a
boy scout patrol of your own! I guess that's what the trouble
is," remarked Tubby Hopkins softly, but with a meaning look at
the big lad.

"You impudent little whipper-snapper," roared Jack Curtiss, "if
you weren't such a shrimp I'd lick you for that remark, but
you're all beneath my notice. All I want to say to you is keep
away from my orchard or I'll give you a trimming."

"Suppose you start now," said Rob Blake quietly, "if you are so
anxious to show what a scrapper you are."

"Bah, I don't want anything to do with you, I tell you," rejoined
Curtiss, turning away, with a rather troubled expression,
however, for while he was a bully the big lad had no particular
liking for a fight unless he was pretty sure that all the
advantage lay on his side.

"It was too bad you didn't get that patrol of yours, Jack,"
called the irrepressible Tubby after him as the big youth strode
off across the orchard toward the old-fashioned farmhouse in
which he lived with his father, a well-to-do farmer. "Never
mind; better luck next time," he went on, "or maybe we'll let you
into ours some time."

"You just wait," roared the retreating bully, shaking his fist at
the lads, "I'll make trouble for you yet."

"Well," remarked Rob Blake, as Jack Curtiss strode off, "I guess
the run is over for to-day. Too bad we should have come out on
his land. Of course he feels sore at us; and I shouldn't wonder
but he will really try to do us some mischief if he gets a

As it was growing late and there did not seem much chance of
restarting the "Follow the Trail" practice, that day at least,
the boys strolled back through the woodland and soon emerged on a
country road about three miles from Hampton Inlet, where they

While they are covering the distance perhaps the reader may care
to know something about the cause of the enmity which Jack
Curtiss entertained toward the lads of the Eagle Patrol. It had
its beginning several months before when the boys of Hampton
Inlet began to discuss forming a patrol of boy scouts. They all
attended the Hampton Academy, and naturally the news that Rob
Blake was going to try to organize a patrol soon spread through
the school.

Jack Curtiss, as soon as he heard what Rob--whom he considered
more or less a rival of his--intended doing he also forwarded an
application to the headquarters of the organization in New York.
As Rob Blake's had been received first, however, and on
investigation he was shown to be a likely lad for the leader, he
was appointed and at once began the enrollment of his scouts.

The bully was furious when he realized that he would be unable to
secure an authorized patrol, and he and his cronies, two lads
about his own age named Bill Bender and Sam Redding, had been
busy ever since devising schemes to "get even" as they called
it. None of these, however, had been effective and the encounter
of that day was the first chance Jack had had to work off any of
his rancor on Rob Blake's patrol.

Young Blake was the only son of Mr. Albert Blake, the president
of the local bank. His corporal, Merritt Crawford, was the
eldest of the numerous family of Jared Crawford, the blacksmith
and wheelwright of the little town, and Tubby Hopkins was the
offspring of Mrs. Hopkins--a widow in comfortable circumstances.
The other lads of the Patrol whom we shall meet as the story of
their doings and adventures progresses were all natives of the
town, which was situated on the south shore of Long Island--as
has been said--and on an inlet which led out to the Atlantic

The scouts trudged back into Hampton just at twilight and made
their way at once to their armory--as they called it--which was
situated In a large room above the bank of which Rob's father was
president. At one side of it was a row of lockers and each lad--after
changing his uniform for street clothes--placed his "regimentals"
in these receptacles.

This done the lads broke up and started for their various homes.
Rob and his young corporal left the armory together, after
locking the door and descending the stairs which led onto a side

"I wonder if that fellow Curtiss means to carry out his threat of
getting even?" said Crawford as they made their way down the
street arm in arm, for their homes were not far apart and both on
Main Street.

"He's mean enough to attempt anything," rejoined Rob, "but I
don't think he's got nerve enough to carry out any of his
schemes. Hullo!" he broke off suddenly, "there he is now across
the street by the post office, talking to Bill Bender and Sam
Redding. I'll bet they are hatching up some sort of mischief.
Just look at them looking at us. I'll bet a doughnut they were
talking about us."

"Shouldn't wonder," agreed his companion. "By the way, I've got
to go and see if there is any mail. Come on over."

The two lads crossed the street and as they entered the post
office, although neither of them had much use for either of the
bullies' two chums, they nodded to them pleasantly.

"You kids think you're pretty fine with your Eagle Patrol or
whatever you call it, don't you," sneered Bill Bender, as they
walked by. "I'll bet the smell of a little real powder would
make your whole regiment run to cover."

"Don't pay any attention to him," whispered the young corporal to
Rob, who doubled up his fists and flushed angrily at the sneering
tone Jack Curtiss' friend had adopted.

Rob restrained his anger with an effort, and by the time they
emerged from the post office the trio of worthies--who, as Rob
had rightly guessed, had been discussing them--had moved on up
the street.

"I had trouble with those kids myself this afternoon," remarked
Jack Curtiss with a scowl, as they wended their way toward a shed
in the rear of Bill Bender's home, which had been fitted tip as a
sort of clubroom.

"What did they do to you?" incautiously inquired Sam Redding, a
youth as big as the other two, but not so powerful. In fact he
was used more or less as a tool by them.

"Do to me," roared the bully, "what did I do to them, you mean."

"Well what did you do to them then?" asked Bill Bender, as they
entered the clubroom before referred to and he produced some
cigarettes, which all three had been strictly forbidden to smoke.

"Chased them off my land," rejoined the other, lighting a paper
roll and blowing out a cloud of smoke, "you should have seen them
run. If they want to play their fool games they've got to do it
on the property of folks who'll let them. They can't come on my

"You mean your father's, don't you?" put in the unlucky Sam

"Sam, you've got a head like a billiard ball," retorted the
bully, turning on the other, "it'll be mine some day, won't it?
Therefore it's as good as mine now."

Although he didn't quite see the logic of the foregoing, Sam
Redding gave a sage nod and agreed that his leader was right.

"Yes, those kids need a good lesson from somebody," chimed in
Bill Bender.

"I think we had better be the 'somebodies' to give it to them,"
rejoined Jack Curtiss. "They are getting insufferable. They
actually twitted me this afternoon with being sore at them
because I didn't get my patrol--as if I really wanted one. That
Blake kid is the worst of the bunch. Just because his father has
a little money he gives himself all kinds of airs. My father is
as rich as his, even if he isn't a banker."

"I've been thinking of a good trick we can put up on them, but it
will take some nerve to carry it out," announced Bill Bender,
after some more discussion of the lads of the Eagle Patrol.

"Out with it, then," urged the bully, "what is it?"

In a lowered tone Bill Bender sketched out his scheme in detail,
while Jack and Sam nodded their approval. At length he ceased
talking and the other two broke out into a delighted laugh, in
which malice as much as merriment prevailed.

"It's the very thing," exclaimed Jack. "Bill, you're a genius.
We'll do it as soon as possible. If that doesn't take some
starch out of those tin soldiers nothing will."

Half an hour later the three cronies parted for the night. Sam
went to his home near the waterfront, for his father was a boat
builder, and Jack started to walk the three miles to his father's
farm in the moonlight. His way took him by the bank. As he
passed it he gazed up at the windows of the armory on which was
lettered in gilt: "Eagle Patrol of the Boy Scouts of America."

"That's a slick idea of Bill's," said the bully to himself, "I
can hardly wait till we get a chance to carry it out."



"Whatever are you doing, Rob?"

It was the morning after the consultation of Jack Curtiss and his
cronies, and Corporal Crawford was looking over the fence into
his leader's yard.

Rob was bending over a curious-looking apparatus, consisting of a
bent stick held in a bow-shape by a taut leather thong. The
appliance was twisted about an upright piece of wood sharpened at
one end--which was rotated as the lad ran the bow back and forth
across it.

Presently smoke began to rise from the flat piece of timber into
which the point of the upright stick had been boring and
depositing sawdust, and Rob, by industriously blowing at the
accumulation, presently caused it to burst into flame.

"There I've done it," he exclaimed triumphantly, arising with a
flushed face from his labors.

"Done what?" inquired young Crawford interestedly.

"Made fire in the Indian way," replied Rob triumphantly.

"I thought they made it by rubbing two sticks together."

"Only book Indians do that," replied Rob, "I'll tell you it took
me a time to get the hang of it, but I've got it now."

"It's quite a stunt, all right," commented the corporal

"You bet, and it's useful, too," replied Rob. "I'll put the bow
and drill in my pocket, and then any time we get stuck for
matches we'll have no trouble in making a signal smoke or
lighting cooking fires."

"Say, I've got some news for you," went on young Crawford, "did
you know that Sam Redding has entered that freak motor boat he's
been building in the yacht club regatta? He's out for the club

"No, is he, though?" exclaimed Rob, keenly interested. "Then
the crew and skipper of the Flying Fish will have to look alive.
I know that Sam's father helped him out with that boat and put a
lot of new wrinkles in it. I didn't think, though, he'd have it
ready in time for the races."

The boys referred to the coming motor-boat races which were to
take place shortly on the inlet at Hampton. Like most of the
other lads in the seashore town, Merritt and Rob had a lot of
experience on the water and some time before had built a speedy
motor boat from knock-down frames. The Flying Fish, as they
called her, was entered for the main event referred to, the
prize for which was a silver cup, donated by the merchants of
the town. There were several other entries in the race, but Rob
and his crew, consisting of Merritt and Tubby Hopkins,
confidently expected the Flying Fish to easily lead them all.

"I wonder if the Sam Redding can show her stern to the Flying
Fish?" mused Rob. "I'd like to lake a good look at her."

"Let's go down to Redding's boat yard," suggested Merritt;
"she's lying there on the ways. I don't suppose any one would
object to our sizing her up."

Rob hailed the suggestion as a good one.

"We can call in for Tubby on the way," he said, as he darted into
the house after his hat.

The boys dropped in at Tubby's house on their way to the
water-front, and received from the stout youth some additional
details regarding Sam's boat.

"She's a hydroplane," volunteered Tubby, "and Tom Jennings, down
at the yard, says she's as fast as a race horse."

"A hydroplane?--that's one of those craft that cut along the top
of the water like a skimming dish, isn't it?" asked Merritt.

"That's the idea," responded Rob. "They're supposed to be as
speedy as anything afloat in smooth water."

Thus conversing they reached the boat-building yard of Sam
Redding's father and were greeted by Tom Jennings, a big
good-natured ship carpenter. "Hullo, Tom! Can we see that new
boat of Sam's?" inquired Rob,

"Sure, I guess there's no objection," grinned Tom, "come right
this way. There she is, over there by that big winch."

Report had not erred apparently as to the novel qualities of Sam
Redding's speed craft. She was about twenty-five feet long,
narrow and painted black. She was perfectly flat-bottomed, her
underside being deeply notched at frequent intervals. On the
edge of those notches she was supposed to glide over the water
when driven at top speed.

"She certainly looks like a winner," commented Rob, as he gazed
at her clean, slender lines and sharp bow.

"She's got wonderful speed," Tom Jennings confided. "We tried
her out the other night when no one was around. But I don't
think that in rough water she'll be much good."

"No, I'd prefer the Flying Fish for the waters hereabouts,"
agreed Rob, "it's liable to come on rough in a hurry and then a
chap who was out in a dry-goods box, like that thing, would be in

"What are you calling a dry-goods box?" demanded an indignant
voice behind them, and turning, the lads saw Sam Redding with a
menacing look on his face. A little way behind him stood Bill
Bender and Jack Curtiss.

"Oh, I beg your pardon, Sam," said Rob. "I really admire your
hydroplane very much, and I think it will give us a tussle for
the trophy, all right; but I don't think she'd be much good in
any kind of a sea-way."

"That's my business, you interfering little runt," snapped Sam,
who, with Bill Bender and Jack Curtiss to back him, felt very
brave; though ordinarily he would have avoided trouble with the
young scouts. "What are you doing spying around the yard here,
anyhow?" he went on insolently.

"We are not spying," indignantly burst out Merritt. "We asked
Tom Jennings if we couldn't look at your hydroplane, as we were
naturally interested in her, and he gave us permission."

"Well, he had no business to," growled Sam; "he ought to be
attending to his work instead of showing a lot of nosy young cubs
my new boat."

"They are capable of stealing your ideas," chimed in Jack
Curtiss, "and putting them on their own boat."

"That's ridiculous," laughed Rob, "as I said I wouldn't want to
have anything to do with such a contrivance except on a lake or a

"Well, you keep your advice and your ideas to yourself, and get
out of this yard!" roared Sam, waxing bolder and bolder, and
mistaking Rob's conciliatory manner for cowardice. "I've a good
mind to punch your head."

"Better come on and try it," retorted Rob, preparing for the
immediate onslaught which it seemed reasonable from Sam's manner
to expect.

But it didn't come.

Muttering something about "young cubs," and "keeping the
boat-yard gate locked," Sam turned to his chums and invited them
to come and try out his new motor in the shop.

As the three chums had no desire to "mix it up with Sam on his
own place," as Tubby put it, they left the yard promptly, and
walked on down the water-front to the wharf at which lay the
Flying Fish, the fastest craft in the Hampton Motor Boat Club.
Rob's boat was, to tell the truth, rather broad of beam for a
racer and drew quite a little water. She had a powerful motor
and clean lines, however, and while not primarily designed solely
for "mug-hunting," had beaten everything she had raced with
during the few months since the boys had completed her. The
money for her motor had been given to Rob by his father, who was
quite indulgent to Rob in money matters, having noticed that the
lad always expended the sums given him wisely.

"Let's take a spin," suddenly suggested Tubby.

"Nothing to prevent us," answered Rob; "we've got plenty of time
before dinner. Come on, boys."

The lads were soon on board and examining the gasoline tank, to
see how much fuel they had on hand, and oiling up the engine.
The fuel receptacle proved to be almost full, so after filling
the lubricant cups and attending to the batteries, they started
up the engine--a powerful, three cylindered, twelve-horse affair
capable of driving the twenty-two foot Flying Fish through the
water at twelve miles an hour or better.

Just as Rob was casting off the head-line there came a hail from
the wharf above them.

"Ahoy, there, shipmates! Where are yer bound fer this fine,
sunny day?"

The lads looked up to see the weather-beaten countenance of
Captain Job Hudgins, one of the characters of the vicinity. He
was a former whaler, and lived on a small island some distance
from Hampton. On his little territory he fished and grew a few
vegetables, "trading in" his produce at the Hampton grocery
stores for his simple wants. He, however, had a pension, and was
supposed to have a "snug little fortune" laid by. His only
companion in his island solitude was it big Newfoundland dog
named "Skipper."

The animal stood beside its master on the dock and wagged its
tail at the sight of the boys, whom it knew quite well from their
frequent visits to the captain's little island.

"Hullo, captain!" shouted Rob, as the veteran saluted his three
young friends. "Where's your boat?"

"Oh, her engine went--busted, and I had to leave her at the yard
below fer repairs," explained the captain. "I wonder if yer boys
can give me a lift back if yer goin' near Topsail Island?"

"Surest thing you know," rejoined Rob hastily. "Come right
aboard. But how are you going to get off your island again if
your motor is laid up here to be fixed?"

"Oh, I'll use my rowboat," responded the old mariner, clambering
down into the Flying Fish. "Say, this is quite a right smart
contraption, ain't she?"

"We think she is a pretty good little boat," modestly replied
Rob, taking his place at the wheel. "Now, then, Merritt, start
up that engine."

"Hold on a minute!" shouted Tubby. "We forgot the dog."

Sure enough, Skipper was dashing up and down the wharf in great
distress at the prospect of being deserted.

"Put yer boat alongside that landin' stage at the end of the
wharf," suggested his master. "Skipper can get aboard from
there, I reckon."

Rob steered the Flying Fish round to the floating landing, to
which an inclined runway led from the wharf. Skipper dashed down
it as soon as he saw what was happening, and was waiting, ready
to embark, when the Flying Fish came alongside.

"Poor old Skipper, I reckon yer thought we was goin' ter maroon
yer," said Captain Job, as the animal jumped on board with a bark
of "thanks" for his rescue. "I tell yer, boys, I wouldn't lose
that dog fer all the money in Rob's father's bank. He keeps
good watch out an the Island, I'll tell yer."

"I didn't think any one much came there, except us," said Rob, as
the Flying Fish headed away from the wharf and began to cut
through the waters of the inlet.

"Oh, yes; there's others," responded the old man. "That Jack
Curtiss lad and his two chums are out there quite often."

"Bill Bender and Sam Redding, I suppose you mean," said Tubby.

"Those their names?" asked the captain. "Well, I don't know any
good uv any uv 'em. Old Skipper here chased 'em away from my
melon patch the other day. I reckon they thought Old Scratch was
after them, the way they run; but they got away with some melons,
just the same."

The old man laughed aloud at the recollection of the marauders'
precipitous flight.

That Jack Curtiss and his two cronies had made a rendezvous of
the island was news to the boys, and not agreeable news, either.
They had been planning a patrol camp there later on in the
summer, and the bully and his two chums were not regarded by them
as desirable neighbors. However, they said nothing, as they
could not claim sole right to use the island, which was property
that had been so long in litigation that It had come to be known
as "No Man's Land" as well as by its proper name. The captain
was only a squatter there, but no one cared to disturb him, and
he had led the existence of a semi-hermit there for many years.

The Flying Fish rapidly covered the calm waters of the inlet and
was soon dancing over the swells outside.

"I'm going to let her out a bit," said Rob suddenly; "look out
for spray."

"Spray don't bother a brine-pickled old salt like me," laughed
the captain. "Let her go."

The Flying Fish seemed fairly to leap forward as Merritt gave her
the full power of her engine. As Rob had said, it did indeed
behoove her occupants to look out for spray. The sparkling spume
came flying back in sheets as she cut through the waves, but the
boys didn't mind that any more than did their weather-beaten
companion. As for Skipper, he barked aloud in sheer joy as the
Flying Fish slid along as if she were trying to live up to her
name to her utmost ability.

"This is a good little sea boat," remarked the captain, as they
plunged onward. "She's as seaworthy as she is speedy, I guess."

"She'll stand a lot of knocking about, and that's a fact," agreed

"Well," remarked the old man, gazing about him, "it's a good
thing that she is, fer, if I'm not mistaken--and I'm not often
off as regards the weather--we are goin' ter have quite a little
blow before yer boys get back home."

"A storm?" asked Tubby, somewhat alarmed.

"Oh, no; not what yer might call a storm," laughed the captain;
"but just what we used to term a 'capful uv wind.'"

"Well, so long as it isn't a really bad blow, it won't trouble
the Flying Fish," Rob assured him.

"Hullo!" exclaimed the old man suddenly. "What queer kind uv
craft is that?"

He pointed back to the mouth of the now distant inlet, from which
a curious-looking black craft was emerging at what seemed to be
great speed.

"It's that hydroplane of Sam Redding's, for a bet!" cried Rob.
"Here, Tubby, take the wheel a minute, while I put the glasses on

The lad stood up in the heaving motor craft, steadying himself
against the bulwarks by his knees, and peered through his

"It's the hydroplane, sure enough," he said. "By ginger, but she
can go, all right! Sam and Jack and Bill are all in her. They
seem to be heading right out to sea, too."

"Say!" exclaimed Tubby suddenly, "if it comes on to blow, as the
captain said it would, they'll be in a bad fix, won't they?"

"In that ther shoe-box thing," scornfully exclaimed the old
captain, who had also been looking through the glasses, "why, I
wouldn't give a confederate dollar bill with a hole in it fer
their lives."



"Hadn't we better put back and warn them?" suggested Merritt
rather anxiously, for he was alarmed by the confident manner in
which the old seaman prophesied certain disaster to the
hydroplane if the weather freshened.

"No; see, she's heading toward us. I guess they want a race,"
cried Rob. "We'll slow down a bit and let them catch up."

In a few moments the hydroplane was alongside. The yellow hood
over her powerful engines glistened with the wet of the great
bow-wave her speed had occasioned, and her powerful motor was
exhausting with a roar like a battery of machine guns.

Crouched aft of the engine hood was Sam Redding, who held the
wheel. Jack Curtiss and Bill Bender were in the stern. They sat
tandem-wise in the narrow racing shell.

"Want a tow rope for that old stone dray of yours?" jeered Jack
Curtiss, as the speedy little racer ranged alongside.

He did not know that the Flying Fish was slowed down, and that
although the hydroplane appeared to be capable of tremendous
speed, she was not actually so very much faster than Rob's boat.

"Say, you fellows," warned Rob, making a trumpet of his hands,
"the captain says it's coming on to blow before long. You'd
better get back into the inlet with that craft of yours."

"Save your breath to cool your coffee," shouted Sam Redding back
at him, across the fifty feet or so of water that lay between the
two boats. "We know what we are about."

"But you're risking your lives," shouted Merritt. "That thing
wouldn't live ten minutes in any kind of a sea."

"Well, we're not such a bunch of old women as to be scared of a
little wetting," jeered Jack Curtiss. "So long! We've got no
time to wait for that old tub of yours."

Before the boys could voice any more warnings, the hydroplane,
which had been slowed down, dashed off once more.

"I don't know what we are to do," spoke up Merritt. "We can't
compel them to go in, and, after all, the captain may be

"No, I'm not, my son," rejoined the veteran. "I can smell wind--and
see them 'mare's tails' in the sky over yonder. They're as fall
uv wind as a preacher is uv texts."

"Well, we've done our best to warn them," concluded Rob. "If
they are so foolhardy as to keep on, we can't help it."

In half an hour more the boys had landed the captain at the
little pier he had built on his island, and to which his rowboat
was attached, and were ready to start back, good-bys having been

"Hark!" exclaimed the captain, as Rob prepared to give the order
to "Go ahead."

The boys listened, and heard a low, distant moaning sound,
something like the deepest rumbling notes of a church organ.

"That's the wind comin'," warned the captain. "Yer'd better be
hurryin' back."

With more hasty good-bys, the lads got under way at once. As
they emerged from the lee of the island they could see that
seaward the ocean was being rapidly lashed into choppy, white--
crested waves by the advancing storm, and that the wind was
freshening into a really stiff breeze.

"Those fellows must be wishing they took our advice now if they
are fools enough to have kept out," said Merritt, as he slowed
down the engine so as to permit the Flying Fish to ride the
rising seas more easily.

"Yes, I guess they're doing some tall thinking," agreed Tubby, as
a wave caught the little Flying Fish "quartering" on her port
bow, and sent a white smother of spray swirling back over her

"That's the time we got it," laughed Rob, from the wheel, peering
straight ahead. Suddenly he uttered a shout and pointed seaward.

"Look there!" he shouted at the top of his voice. "There are
those three fellows, and they're in trouble, from the looks of

The others looked, and beheld, half a mile or so away, on the
roughening waters, the hull of the hydroplane. She was tossing
up and down like a cork, and apparently was drifting helplessly,
with her motor broken down, in the heavy sea. Her occupants
seemed to be bailing her; but as they caught sight of the Flying
Fish they stood up and waved frantically.

"Yes, they're in trouble, all right," agreed Tubby. "And I
suppose we've got to go and get them out of it."

Rob had already put the Flying Fish about and headed her for the
distressed craft. As they drew near, Sam Redding began shouting:

"Help, help! We're sinking, we're sinking!"

Jack Curtiss and Bill Bender, drenched to the skin with spray and
white with fright, said nothing, but a look of great relief came
over their faces as the chums' boat ranged alongside.

"I don't want to risk ramming my boat by coming right alongside,"
shouted Rob. "You'll have to jump for it. Don't be scared.
We'll pull you aboard."

The three youths on the water-logged hydroplane looked somewhat
alarmed at the prospect, but Rob knew that Jack and Bill could
swim. He was not sure of Sam, but assumed, from the fact that he
had lived by the sea all his life, that he was equally at home in
the water.

The hesitation of Jack Curtiss and his chum was over in a minute,
as the hydroplane gave a plunge that seemed as if it would be her
last. Lightly dressed as they were, in canvas trousers,
sleeveless jerseys and yachting shoes, it was no trick at all for
them to swim the few feet to the Flying Fish. As they leaped
overboard, Sam lingered.

"Come on, Sam," shouted Jack, as the boys lugged the two
dripping, sputtering castaways on board.

"I--I can't swim. You'll have to come alongside for me,"
stuttered the badly-scared Sam.

"All right. Hold on, and we'll do what we can," hailed Rob,
starting to carry out the risky maneuver of getting alongside the
plunging hydroplane in the heavy sea.

In some never-to-be-explained manner, however, the frightened Sam
suddenly lost his balance in the tossing racing boat, and,
clawing desperately at her bulwarks to save himself, shot over
the side.

"He'll drown!" shouted Jack Curtiss. "He can't swim, and he'll

"If you knew that, why didn't you stand by him?" truculently
growled Tubby.

Without an instant's hesitation, Merritt threw off the jacket he
had put on when it started to blow, and slipped off his shoes.
He was overboard and striking out for the drowning boy before
those in the Flying Fish even realized his purpose.

With swift, powerful strokes he got alongside Sam just as the
owner of the hydroplane was going down for the third time.

As the brave boy seized the struggling, frightened youth he felt
himself gripped by the panic-stricken Sam in a frenzied hold of
desperate intensity. His arms were pinioned by the drowning
wretch, and they both vanished beneath the waves.

As they went under, however, Merritt managed to get one hand
free, and recalling what he had read of what to do under such
conditions, struck the other boy a terrific blow between the
eyes. It stunned Sam completely, and, to his great relief,
Merritt felt the imprisoning grip relax. He could then handle
Sam easily, and as they shot to the surface he saw the Flying
Fish bearing down on them, with four white, strained faces
searching the tumbling waters.

In a few moments the unconscious lad and his rescuer were hauled
on board, and Rob, after congratulations, headed the Flying Fish
for the mouth of the inlet, which was still some distance off.

Tubby and Bill Bender laid Sam on his stomach, across a thwart,
and started to try to get some of the salt water, of which he had
swallowed great quantities, out of him. He soon gave signs of
returning consciousness, and opened his eyes just as Jack Curtiss
was demanding to know if the Boy Scouts weren't going to take the
hydroplane in tow.

"Not much we're not," responded Rob. "I'm sorry to have to leave
her; but this sea is getting up nastier every minute, and there's
no way of getting a line to her without running more risk than I
want to take. We've had one near-drowning and we don't want

"If this was my boat, I'd pick Sam's boat up," sullenly replied
the bully.

"You ought to be mighty glad we came along when we did,"
indignantly spoke up Tubby. "You'd have been in a bad fix if we
hadn't. Instead of being thankful for it, all you can do is to
kick about leaving the hydroplane."

An angry reply was on the other's lips, but Bill Bender checked
it by looking up and saying: "I guess the kid's right, Jack. Let
it go at that."

The bully glowered. He felt his pride much wounded at having
been compelled to seek the aid of the boys whom be despised and

"I suppose you'll go and blab it all over town about how you
saved us," he sneered, as the Flying Fish threaded her way
through the tumbling waters at the mouth of the inlet and began
making her way up it.

"I don't think we shall," replied Rob quietly. "I mean to
recommend Merritt, though, to headquarters for his Red Honor."

"Oh, you mean that cheap, bronze medal thing on a bit of red
ribbon!" sneered Jack. "Why, that isn't worth much. You
couldn't sell it for anything but old junk. Why don't they make
them of gold?"

"That 'bronze medal thing,' as you call it, is worth a whole lot
to a Boy Scout," rejoined Rob in the same even tone. "More than
you can understand."

On their arrival at the yacht-club pier the boys were overwhelmed
with questions, and a doctor was summoned for Sam, who, as soon
as he found himself safe, began to groan and show most alarming
symptoms of being seriously affected by his immersion.

The boys were not able to conceal the fact that they had
accomplished a brave rescue, and were overwhelmed with
congratulations. Merritt especially came in for warm praise and

"You will certainly be granted your Red Honor," declared Mr.
Wingate, who, besides being commodore of the Yacht Club, was one
of the gentlemen whom Rob had persuaded to act as Scout Master
for the new patrol.

Merritt escaped from the crowd of admiring motor-boat men and
boys as soon as he could, and hastened home for a change of
clothes. On the arrival of Dr. Telfair, the village physician,
he pronounced that there was nothing whatever the matter with Sam
but a bad fright, and prescribed dry garments and hot lemonade.

"Don't I need any medicine?" groaned Sam, determined to make the
most out of his temporary notoriety.

"No, you don't," growled the doctor; "unless," he added to
himself, "they put up 'courage' in bottles."

"I suppose those boys will be more stuck up than ever now," said
Jack to Bill Bender, as, having perfunctorily thanked their
rescuers, they started for home with the almost weeping Sam.

"Sure to be," rejoined Bill. "It's all your fault, Sam, for
taking us out in that fool hydroplane."

"My fault! Well, I like that," stuttered out Sam. "You asked me
to come, and you know I wanted to come back when the boys told us
it might come on to blow; but you called me a 'sissy,' and said I
was too timid to own a boat."

"Um--er--well," rejoined Bill, somewhat confused, "that's so.
But anyhow, to return to what we were talking about, it's given
those kids a great chance to set up as heroes."

"Well, we can work that scheme we were talking about last night
on them just as soon as you're ready," suddenly remarked Jack.
"That will give them something else to think about."

"Oh, say, Jack, cut it out, won't you?" pleaded Sam. "I don't
like the kids any better than you do, but one of them saved my
life to-day, and I'm not going into anything that will harm

"Hear him rave!" sneered Jack. "Why last night, when we talked
it over, you thought it would be a prime joke. It isn't as if it
would hurt them. It'll just give them something to study up,
that's all. They think they're such fine trailers and tracers
that it would be a shame not to give them a chance to show what
they can do."

"That's right, Sam," cut in Bill; "it's more of a joke than
anything else."

"Well," agreed Sam weakly, "if you put it in that way, I suppose
it's all right; but I tell you I don't like it."

"Why, you'll have the laugh of your young life after we've pulled
the stunt off," remarked Bill. "When will we do it, Jack?"

"Not to-night, that's certain," responded the other. "I've had
enough excitement for one day."

"What's the matter with to-morrow night, then?"

"I'm agreeable. How about you, Sam?"

"I wish you fellows would leave me out of it," rejoined the
bully's timid chum.

"Like they left you out of their patrol, eh?" sneered Bill,
knowing that he was touching the other on a tender spot.

"All right, to-morrow night suits me," snapped Sam, flushing
angrily at Bill's remark--as that worthy had intended he should.
"Here's my house. We'll meet at Bill's 'boudoir."'

"Right you are," chuckled Jack. "Oh, say, it's going to be the
joke of the century!"




Merritt paused the next morning in front of Tubby's home, and
gave the "call" of the Eagle Patrol with a not uncreditable
resemblance to the scream of a real eagle.

The cry was instantly echoed--though in a rather thicker way--
from inside the house, and in a minute Tubby, who knew that some
one of the patrol must have uttered the call, appeared at his
door, munching a large slice of bread and jam, although it was
not more than an hour since breakfast.

"Say, you, did you ever hear an eagle scream with his mouth full
of bread and jam?" demanded Merritt, as the stout youth appeared.

"Eagles don't eat bread and jam," rejoined Tubby, defending his
position. "Have some?"

"Having had breakfast not more than an hour ago, I'm not hungry
yet, thank you," politely rejoined the corporal; "besides, I'm
afraid I'd get fat."

Dodging the stout youth's blow, the corporal went on:

"Heard the news?"

"No--what news?" eagerly demanded the other, finishing his light

"Why, the Dolphin--you know, that fishing boat--picked up Sam's
hydroplane at sea and towed it in. It's in pretty good shape, I
hear, although the engine is out of commission and it was half
full of water."

"He's a lucky fellow to get it back."

"I should say so," replied Merritt; "but it will cost him a whole
lot to reclaim it. The captain of the Dolphin says he wants
fifty dollars for it as salvage."

"Gee! Do you think Sam's father will give him that much?" said
Tubby, with round eyes.

"I don't know. He can afford it all right. He's made a lot of
money out of that boat-building shop, my father says; but he's so
stingy that I doubt very much if he will give Sam such a sum."

"Why, here's Sam coming down the street now," exclaimed the
good-natured Tubby. "I wonder if he's heard about it. Hullo,
Sam! Get all the water out of your system?"

"I'm all right this morning, if that is what you mean," rejoined
the other, with dignity.

"Heard the news about your boat?" asked Merritt suddenly.

"No; what about her? Is she safe? Who picked her up?"

"Wait a minute. One question at a time," laughed Merritt.
"She's safe, all right. The Dolphin picked her up at sea. But
it will cost you fifty dollars to get her."

"Fifty dollars!" gasped Sam, turning pale.

"That's what the skipper of the Dolphin says. He had a lot of
trouble getting a line fast to her, he says, and he means to have
the money or keep the boat."

"Oh, well, I'll get it from my father easily enough," said Sam
confidently, preparing to swagger off down the street. "I've got
to get my boat back and beat Rob's Flying Fish, and that
hydroplane can do it."

"Can you match that?" exclaimed Merritt to the fat youth, as Sam
strolled away. "Here he was saved from drowning by the Flying
Fish only yesterday, and all he can think of this morning is to
promise to beat her. What makes him so mean, I wonder?"

"Just born that way, I guess," rejoined the stout youth; "and as
for the Flying Fish saving him, if it hadn't been for a certain
Corporal Crawford, he--"

"Here, stow that," protested Merritt, coloring up. "I heard
enough of that yesterday afternoon,"

As the boys had surmised, Sam's father was not at all pleased
when he learned that his son wanted fifty dollars. In fact, he
refused point blank to let him have it at all.

"That boat of yours has cost enough already, and I'm not going to
spend any more on it," he said angrily, as he turned to his work.

"But I can't get the hydroplane back if I don't pay it," urged
Sam. "I've seen the captain of the Dolphin, and he refuses
absolutely to let me have her unless I pay him for his trouble in
towing her in."

"I can't help that," snapped the elder Redding. "What have I got
to do with your boat? Look here!" he exclaimed, turning angrily
and producing a small memorandum book from his pocket and rapidly
turning the leaves. "Do you know how much I've given you in the
last two months?"

"N-n-no," stammered Sam, looking very much embarrassed, and
shuffling about from one foot to the other.

"Then I'll tell you, young man; it's exactly--let me see--ten,
twenty, five, three, fifteen and eight. That's just sixty-one
dollars. Do you think that money grows on gooseberry bushes?
Then there'll be your college expenses to pay. No, I can't let
you have a cent."

"That means that I will lose my boat and the chance of winning
the race at the regatta!" urged Sam gloomily.

"Well, you should have had more sense than to take that fool
hydroplane out into a rough sea. I told you she wouldn't stand
it. There, go on about your own affairs. I'm far too busy to
loaf about, arguing with you."

And with this the hard-featured old boat builder--who had made
his money literally by the sweat of his brow--turned once more to
his task of figuring out the blue prints of a racing sloop.

Sam saw that it was no use to argue further with his father, and
left the shop with no very pleasant expression on his

"I'll have to see if I can't borrow it somewhere," he mused. "If
only I was on better terms with Rob Blake, I could get it from
him, I guess. His father is a banker and he must have plenty. I
wonder--I wonder if Mr. Blake himself wouldn't lend it to me. I
could give him a note for it, and in three months' time I'd be
sure to be able to take it up."

With this end in view, the lad started for the Hampton Bank. It
required some courage for a youth of his disposition to make up
his mind to beard the lion in his den--or, in other words, to
approach Mr. Blake in his office. For Sam, while bold enough
when his two hulking cronies were about, had no real backbone of
his own.

After making two or three turns in front of the bank, he finally
screwed his courage to the sticking point, and timidly asked an
attendant if he could see the banker.

"I think so. I'll see," was the reply.

In a few seconds the man reappeared, and said that Mr. Blake
could spare a few minutes. Hat in hand, Sam entered the
ground-glass door which bore on it in imposing gilt letters the
word "President."

The interview was brief, and to Sam most unsatisfactory. The
banker pointed out to him that he was a minor, and as such that
his note would be no good; and also that, without the permission
of his father, he would not think of lending the youth such a
sum. Much crestfallen, Sam shuffled his way out toward the main
door of the bank, when suddenly a voice he recognized caused him
to look up.

"A hundred and twenty-five dollars. That's right, all shipshape
and above board!"

It was the old captain of Topsail Island, counting over in his
gnarled paw one hundred and twenty-five dollars in crisp bills
which he had just received from the paying teller.

"You must be going to be married, captain," Sam heard the teller
remark jocularly.

"Not yet a while," the captain laughed back. "That ther motor uv
mine that I left ter be fixed up is goin' ter cost me fifty
dollars, and the other seventy-five I'm calculating ter keep on
hand in my safe fer a while. I'm kind uv figgerin' on gettin' a
new dinghy--my old one is just plum full uv holes. I rowed over
frum the island this mornin', and I declar' ter goodness, once or
twice I thought I'd swamp."

Sam slipped out of the bank without speaking to the captain,
whom, indeed, since the episode of the melon patch, he had no
great desire to encounter.

As he made his way toward his home in no very amiable mood, he
was hailed from the opposite side of the street by Jack Curtiss
and Bill Bender.

"Any news of the boat?" demanded Jack, as he and Bill crossed
over and slapped their crony on the back with great assumed

"Yes, and mighty bad news, too, in one way. She's safe enough.
The Dolphin--that fishing boat--found her and towed her in.
But--here's the tough part of it--it's going to cost fifty dollars
for salvage to get her from the Dolphin's captain, the old

"Phew!" whistled Jack Curtiss. "Pretty steep. But I suppose
your old man will fork over, eh?"

"That's just it," grumbled Sam; "he won't come across with a
cent. I suppose, if I don't pay for the hydroplane's recovery
pretty soon, she will be sold at auction."

"That's the usual process," observed Bill.

"Isn't there any way you can raise the wind?"

"No, I've tried every one I can think of. I don't suppose either
of you fellows could--"

"Nothing doing here," hastily cried Jack, not giving the other
time to finish.

"I'm cleaned out, too," Bill also hurriedly assured the
unfortunate Sam.

"It looks like everybody but us has coin," complained that worthy
bitterly. "While I was in the bank trying to get old man Blake
to take up a note of mine for the sum I need, who should I see in
there but that old fossil of a captain from Topsail Island."

"Who grows such fine, juicy melons and keeps such a nice, amiable
pet dog," laughed Jack, roaring at the recollection of the
piratical expedition of which the island dweller had told the

"Ha, ha, ha!" shouted Bill in chorus. "We'll have to give him
another visit soon."

"But what about the old land crab, Sam?" demanded Jack the next
minute. "What was he doing in the bank?"

"Why, drawing one hundred and twenty-five dollars. Just think of
it, and we always figured it out that he was poor."

"A hundred and twenty-five dollars! I wonder what he's going to
do with it?" wondered Jack, with whom money and its spending was
always an absorbing topic.

"Why, I overheard that, too, as I passed by," rejoined Sam.
"He's going to spend some of it for the repairing of his motor,
which broke down yesterday, and the rest he's going to keep by

"Keep it on the island, you mean?" demanded Jack, becoming
suddenly much interested.

"That's what he said--keep it in his safe," replied Sam. "But
what good does that do us?"

"A whole lot, maybe," was the enigmatic reply. "See here, Sam,
you can win that race if you get your hydroplane?"

"I'm sure of it."

"You are going to bet on yourself, of course."

"Sure. I've got to raise some money somehow."

"Well, I've thought of a way you can borrow the money to get your
boat back, and when you win the race you can return it. Come on,
lees go to Bill's den, and we'll have a smoke and talk it over."



That afternoon, in reply to a notice sent round by a runner, the
lads of the Eagle Patrol assembled at their armory, and on Leader
Rob's orders "fell in" to hear the official announcement of the
coming camping trip. As a matter of fact, they had discussed
little else for several days, but the first "regimental"
notification, as it were, was to be made now.

The first duty to be performed was the calling of the roll after
"assembly" had been sounded--somewhat quaveringly--by little Andy
Bowles, the company bugler.

Beside Rob Merritt, Tubby and Andy, there were Hiram Nelson, a
tall, lanky youth, whose hands were stained with much fussing
with chemicals, for he was a wireless experimenter; Ernest
Thompson, a big-eyed, serious-looking lad, whose specialty in the
little regiment was that of bicycle scout, as the spoked wheel on
his arm denoted; Simon Jeffords, a second-class scout, but who,
under Rob's tutelage, was becoming the expert "wig-wagger" of the
organization; Paul Perkins, another second-class boy, but a hard
worker and a devotee of aeronautics; Martin Green, one of the
smallest of the Eagle Patrol, a tenderfoot; Walter Lonsdale, also
a recruit, and Joe Digby, who, as the last to join the Patrol,
was the tenderest of the tenderfeet.

Rob's announcement of the program for the eight days they were to
spend on the island was greeted with cheers. The news that turns
were to be taken by two scouts daily at washing dishes and
cooking did not awaken quite so much enthusiasm. Everybody cheered
up again, however, when Rob announced that the Flying Fish would be
at the disposal of the boys of the patrol.

Corporal Merritt took Rob's place as orator then, and announced
that each boy would be assessed one dollar for the expenses of
the camp, the remainder of the money necessary for the providing
of tents and the provisioning of the camp having been donated by
Rob's father, Mr. Wingate, of the yacht club, and the other
representative citizens of Hampton who composed the local scout

Further excitement was caused by the announcement that following
the camp the local committee would pass upon the applications for
promotions and honors for the lads of the Patrol, and that it was
likely that another patrol would be formed in the village, as
several boys had expressed themselves as anxious to form one.
The gentlemen having charge of the local scout movement, however,
had decided that it would be wiser to wait and see the result of
one patrol's training before forming a second one.

"I'm going to try for an aviator's badge," announced Paul Perkins,
as Rob declared the official business at an end.

"Say, Rob, what's the matter with our fixing up a wireless in the
camp? I'm pretty sure I can make one that will catch anything in
a hundred-mile radius."

"That's a good idea," assented Rob; "if you can do it we can get
a lot of good out of it, I don't doubt."

"What's the good of wireless when we've got wig-wagging and the
semaphore code," spoke up Simon Jeffords, who was inclined to
doubt the use of any other form of telegraphy but that in which
he had perfected himself.

As for Martin Green, Walter Lonsdale and Joe Digby, they
contented themselves with hoping that they might receive their
badges as second-class scouts when the camp was over.

"I can take the whole tests except cooking the meat and potatoes
in the 'Billy,'" bemoaned young Green, a small chap of about
thirteen. "Somehow, they always seem to burn, or else they don't
cook at all."

"Well, cheer up, Martin," laughed Rob. "You'll learn to do it in
camp. We'll make you cook for the whole time we're out there, if
you like--that will give you plenty of practice."

"No, thank you," chimed in Andy Bowles. "I've seen some of
Mart's cooking, and I think the farther you keep him from the
cook fire, the better for the general health of the Eagle Patrol."

At this moment there came a rap on the door.

"Come in!" shouted Rob.

In reply to this invitation, the door opened and a lad of about
fifteen entered. His face was flushed and he bore in his hand a
long sheet of green paper.

"Hello, Frank Farnham," exclaimed Rob glancing at the boy's
flushed, excited face. "What's troubling you?"

"Oh, hello, Rob. Excuse me for butting in on your ceremonies,
but I was told Paul Perkins was here."

"Sure he is, Frank," exclaimed Paul, coming forward. "What's the
matter? It's much too warm to be flying around the way you seem
to have been. Come in under this fan."

He indicated an electrically driven ventilator that was whirring
in a corner of the room.

"Quit your fooling, Paul," remonstrated Frank, "and read this
circular. Here."

He thrust the green "dodger" he carried into the other's hand.

"What do you think of that, eh?" demanded Frank, as Paul skimmed
it with delighted eyes.

The circular contained the announcement of a lecture on
aeronautics by a well-known authority on the subject who had once
been a resident of Hampton. To stimulate interest in the
subject, the paper stated that a first prize of fifty dollars, a
second prize of twenty-five, and a third prize of ten dollars
would be given to the three lads of the town making and flying
the most successful models of aeroplanes in a public competition.
To win the first prize it would be necessary for the model to fly
more than two hundred feet, and not lower, except at the start
and end of the flight, than fifty feet above the ground. The
second prize was for the next best flight, and the third for the
model approaching the nearest to the winner of the second money.

"Now, Paul, you are an aeronautic fiend," went on Frank, "So am
I, and Hiram has the fever in a mild way. What's the matter with
you two fellows forming a team to represent the Boy Scouts, and
I'll get up a team of village boys, to compete for the prizes."

"That's a good idea," assented Hiram Nelson. "I've got a model
almost completed. It only needs the rubber bands and a little
testing and it will be O.K., or at least I hope so. How about
you, Paul?"

"Oh, I've got two models that I have got good results from,"
replied the boy addressed. "One is a biplane. She's not so
speedy, but very steady; and then I have a model of a Bleriot.
I'm willing to enter either of them or both."

"And I've got a model of an Antoinette, and one of a design of my
own. I don't know just how well it will work," concluded Frank
modestly, "but I have great hopes of carrying off that prize."

"Let's see who else there is," pondered Hiram.

"There's Tom Maloney. He'll go in, I know; and Ed Rivers and two
or three others, and then, by the way, I almost forgot it, I met
Sam Redding, Jack Curtiss and Bill Bender, reading a notice of
the competition, just before I came up. Of course, as there is a
chance of winning fifty dollars, Jack is going to enter one, and
Bill Bender said he would put one in, too."

"What do they know about aeroplanes?" demanded Paul.

"Not a whole lot, I guess; but Jack said he was going to get a
book that tells how to make one, and Bill said he'd do the same."

"How about Sam?" inquired Rob.

"Oh, I guess he's got troubles enough with his hydroplane,"
responded Rob, whose father had told him at dinner that day of
Sam's vain visit to the bank.

"It would be just like those fellows to put up something crooked
on us," remarked Paul, who had had much the same experiences with
the bully and his chums as his schoolmates generally.

"Oh, there'll be no chance of that," Frank assured him. "A local
committee of business men is to be appointed to see fair play,
and I don't fancy that even Jack or Bill will be slick enough to
get away with any crooked work."

"How long have we got to get ready?" asked Hiram suddenly.

"Just a week."

"Wow! that isn't much time."

"No; my father told me that Professor Charlton, whom he knows,
would have given a longer time for preparation but that he has to
attend a flying meet in Europe, and only decided to lecture at
his native town at the last moment. Lucky thing that most of us
have got our models almost ready."

"Yes, especially as this notice says," added Paul, who had been
reading it, "that all models must be the sole work of the

"If it wasn't for that it would be easy," remarked Hiram. "You
can buy dandy models in New York. I've seen them advertised in
the papers."

"Well, come on over now and put your name down, as a contestant.
The blanks are in the office of the Hampton News," urged Frank.

"I guess we're all through up here, Rob, aren't we?" asked Hiram.

"Yes," rejoined the young leader; "but you study up on your
woodcraft, Hiram, and devote more time to your signaling. You
are such a bug on wireless that you forget the rest of the stuff."

"All right, Rob," promised Hiram contritely. "By the time we go
camping I'll know a cat track from a squirrel's, or never put a
detector on my head again."

Piloted by Frank, the two young scouts made their way to the
office of the local paper, which had already placed a large
bulletin announcing the aeroplane model competition in its
window. Quite a crowd was gathered, reading the details, as the
three boys entered.

They applied for their application blanks and walked over to a
desk to fill them out. As they were hard at work at this, Jack
Curtiss and his two chums entered the office.

"You going into this, too?" asked the proprietor of the paper,
Ephraim Parkhurst, as Jack loudly demanded two blanks.

"Sure," responded Jack confidently, "and we are going to win it,
too. Hullo," he exclaimed, as his eyes fell on the younger lads,
"those kids are after the prize, too. Why, what would they do
with fifty dollars if they had it? However, there's not much
chance of your winning anything," he added, coming up close to
the boys, with a sneer on his face. "I think that I've got it

"I didn't know that you knew anything about aeroplanes,"
responded Paul quietly. "Have you got a model built yet?"

"I know about a whole lot of things I don't go blabbing round to
everybody about," responded the elder lad, with a sneer, "and as
for having a model built, I'm going to get right to work on one
at once. It'll be a model of a Bleriot monoplane, and a large
one, too. I notice that there is nothing said in the rules about
the size of the machines."

Soon after this the three chums left the newspaper office

"Say," remarked Paul, in a rather worried tone, "I don't believe
that there is anything said about the size of the models. Bill
may build a great big one and beat us all out."

"I suppose that the big machines would be handicapped according
to their power and speed," rejoined Frank. "However, don't you
worry about that. I don't believe that Jack Curtiss knows enough
about the subject to build an aeroplane in a week, and anyhow, I
think it's all empty bluff on his part."

"I hope so," replied Paul, as they reached his front gate. "Will
you be over to-night, Hiram, to talk things over? Bring your
models with you, too, will you?"

"Sure," replied Hiram; "but I've got to do a few things at home
after supper. I'll be over about eight o'clock or half-past."

"All right. I'll be ready for you," responded Paul, as the lads
said good-by.

A few minutes later Jack Curtiss and his chums emerged from the
newspaper office, the former and Bill Bender having made out
their applications. Sam seemed more dejected than ever, but
there was a grin of satisfaction on Jack Curtiss' face.

"Well, we sent the note, all right," he laughed under his breath,
to his two chums. "He'll have got it by this time, and will be
in town by dark. You know your part of the program, Sam. Don't
fail to carry it out, or I'll see that you get into trouble."

"There's no need to worry about me, Jack," rejoined Sam, with an
angry flush. "I'll get the boat as soon as he lands, and keep it
out of sight till you've done the trick.

"Nothing like killing two birds with one stone," grinned Bill
Bender. "My! what a time there'll be in the morning, when they
find out that there's been a regular double cross."

"Hush! Here come those three kids now," warned Sam, as Rob,
Merritt and Tubby came down the street. After what had passed
they did not feel called upon to give the bully and his
companions more than a cold nod.

"Well, be as stuck up as you like to this after-noon!" sneered
Jack, after they had gone by, taking good care, however, that his
voice would not carry. "I guess the laugh will be on you and
your old friend of the island to-morrow."



"Hullo, Hiram; where are you bound for?"

It was Rob who spoke, as Hiram hastened by his house in the early

"Oh, hullo, Rob," responded the other. "I was wondering who that
was hanging over the gate. Why, I'm going to Paul's house. I'm
going to talk over that aeroplane model contest with him. I
think that we stand a chance to win if Jack Curtiss doesn't make
good his boast."

"What was that?" inquired Rob.

"Oh, he says that he is going to build an aeroplane that will
beat us all."

"And have it ready in a week?" was Rob's astonished query.

"That's what he says," responded Hiram. "It all looks kind of
suspicious to me. Fifty dollars is a large enough sum to tempt
Jack to do almost anything. Well, so long. I've got to hurry
along. I'm late now."

And the lad hastened away to keep his appointment.

Rob was about to go into the house and get a book, when his
attention was arrested by a figure coming up the street at a
smart pace whose outlines somehow seemed familiar to him. The
next minute his guess was confirmed, when a hearty voice hailed

"Waal, here I am, lad--all shipshape and in first-class trim.
Now, what is it? What do yer want? Yer didn't explain in the
note, but old Captain job Hudgins'll always stand by a shipmate
in distress."

"Why, whatever do you mean, captain?" exclaimed Rob, amazed, and
thinking that the captain must have taken leave of his wits.
"Who do you mean is in distress?"

"Mean?" echoed the captain, in his turn, it seemed, surprised.
"Why, that note yer sent me. Here it is--all written on one uv
them new-fangled machines."

Rob took the crumpled paper the old seaman drew out of his coat
and scanned it hastily by the light of the street lamp. The
following note met his puzzled gaze.

"DEAR CAPTAIN: Please come over and see me at once. Something
serious has happened at the bank. I need your aid and advice.



"Hum! The signature is typewritten, too," mused Rob. "What kind
of a joke is this? I don't know, but I'll bet anything that Jack
Curtiss is at the bottom of it."

"Well," demanded the captain, "what is it, a bit of gammon? I'll
keel-haul the man as did it if I can find him."

"It looks like a hoax of some sort," admitted Rob, sorely
puzzled; "but I can't for the life of me see the object of it.
Come into the house a minute, captain, and we'll try to figure it

Seated beneath the lamp in the library of his home, Rob
scrutinized the letter closely, but could find absolutely no
indication about it to betray who could have typewritten it.

"How did you come to receive it?" he asked suddenly.

"Why, old Hank Handcraft come out in that crazy launch uv his and
guv it ter me," rejoined the captain. "I ought ter hev told yer
that in the first place, but I was all took aback and canvas
a-shiver when yer tole me yer never wrote it."

"Hank Handcraft," repeated Rob. "He's that queer old fellow that
lives in a hut away down the beach?"

"Yes, and a bad character, too," replied the captain. "He used
ter be a smuggler, and done a term in jail fer it."

"Well, it's pretty certain that he didn't write this," said Rob.
"He couldn't get hold of a typewriter, even if he could use one.
What did he tell you about it? Did he say who gave it to, him?"

"No, he just handed it ter me, and says: 'A young party in
Hampton says ter give yer this and hurry.' I was just gettin' my
supper when I heard his hail of 'Island, ahoy!' I hurried out,
and there he was in that old teakettle uv his, at the end uv my

"And he left before you read the note?"

"I should say. He hurried right off ag'in."

"Well, I don't see any way to get at the bottom of this mystery
but to go and see old Hank himself," mused Rob, after a period of
thought. "What do you think, captain?"

"That's the tack ter go about on, youngster," agreed the man of
Topsail Island; "but if yer are goin' down ter his place at this
hour uv night, we'd better take somebody else along. He's a bad
character, and I'm only a feeble old man and yer are a lad."

"I'll go round by Merritt Crawford's house," proposed Rob; "then
we'll pick up Tubby Hopkins. I guess we can handle any trouble
that Hank wants to make, with that force on hand."

"I guess so," agreed the old man. "I must say I'd like ter get
ter the bottom uv this here mystery. 'All fair and above board'
is my motto. I don't like these secret craft."

The two young scouts were both at home, and after brief
explanations the four started off at a lively pace for Hank
Handcraft's hut, which was situated about two miles along the
beach. As they hastened along, Rob explained to the others in
more detail the nature of their mission, but though they were as
much mystified by the sudden summons of Captain Hudgins as Rob
and the captain himself, they could hit upon no plausible
explanation for it.

It was a little over half an hour before they reached the
dilapidated hut where old Handcraft, a beach-comber, made his
dwelling place. A short distance off the shore they could see by
the moon, which had now risen, that his crazy old motor boat lay
at anchor. This was a sign that Hank was at home. Lest it be
wondered that such a character could have owned a motor boat, it
may be explained here that the engine of Hank's old oyster skiff
had been given him by a summer resident who despaired of making
it work. Hank, however, who was quite handy with tools, had
fixed it up and managed to make it drive his patched old craft at
quite a fair speed--sometimes. When it broke down, as it frequently
did, Hank, who was a philosopher in his way, simply got out his
oars and rowed his heavy craft.

As an additional indication that the hut was occupied, light
shone through several of its numerous chinks and crannies, and a
knock at the door brought forth a low growl of: "Who's there?"

"We want to see you," said Rob.

"This is no time of night to call on a gentleman; come to-morrow
and leave your cards," rumbled the gruff voice from inside the

"This is serious business," urged Rob. "Come on, open that door,
Hank. This is Rob Blake, the banker's son."

"Oh, it is, is it?" grumbled the voice, as the clank of the
door-chains being taken off was heard from within. "Well, I
ain't had much business deals with your father lately, my private
fortune being somewhat shrunk."

With a muffled chuckle from the speaker, the door slowly opened,
and Hank, a ragged figure, with an immense matted beard, long
tangled hair and dim blue eyes, that blinked like a rat's, stood

"Come in, come in, gentlemen," he bowed, with mock politeness.
"I'm glad to see such a numerous and representative party. Now,
what kin I do you for?"

He chuckled once more at his little jest, and the boys
involuntarily shrank from him.

There was nothing to do, however, but enter the hut, and Hank
accommodated his guests with a cracker box apiece as chairs. On
a table, roughly built out of similar boxes, a battered old
stable lamp smoked and flared. A more miserable human habitation
could not be imagined.

"Hank," began the captain, "speak me fair and above board, mate--who
give yer that letter ter bring ter me ter-night?"

"What letter?" blankly responded Hank, a look of vacancy in his
shifty eyes.

"Oh, yer know well enough; that letter yer give me at supper

"Captain, I'll give you my davy I don't know what you're talking
about," returned the beachcomber.

"What!" roared the captain: rising to his feet and advancing
threateningly. "Yer mean ter tell me, yer rapscallion, that yer
don't recall landin' at Topsail Island earlier ter-night and
givin' me a note which says ter come urgent and immediate ter see
young Rob Blake here?"

"Why, captain," calmly returned Hank, with an indulgent grin, "I
really think you must be gettin' childish in your old age. You
must be seeing things. I hope you ain't drinking."

"You--you scoundrel, you!" roared the old captain, almost beside
himself with rage, and dancing with clenched fists toward Hank.

The beach-comber's filthy hand slipped into his rags in a minute,
and the next instant he was squatting back on his haunches in the
corner of the hut, like a wildcat about to spring. In his hand
there glistened, in the yellow rays of the lamp, a blued-steel

"Don't get angry, captain. It's bad for the digestion," grinned
the castaway. "Now," he went on, "I'm going to tell you flat
that if you say I came to your island to-night, you're dreaming.
It must have been some one else.

"Come on, boys," directed the captain, with an angry shrug.
"There's no use wastin' time on the critter. I'm inclined ter
think now that there's somethin' more than ordinary in the wind,"
he added, as they left the hut, with the half-idiotic chuckles of
its occupant ringing in their ears.



It was not far from midnight when the boys, sorely perplexed,
once more reached Hampton. The main street had been deserted
long since, and every one in the village had returned to rest.

The boys left the captain by the water-front, while they headed
up the Main Street for their respective homes. Rob remained up,
pondering over the events of the evening for some time, without
arriving at any solution of them. He was just about to
extinguish his light when he was startled by a loud:


The noise came from directly below his open window, which faced
onto the garden.

He put out his head, and saw a dark figure standing in the yard.

"Who is it?" he demanded.

"It's me, the captain, Rob," rejoined the well-known voice. "I
wouldn't have bothered yer but that I saw a light in yer window."

"What's the trouble, captain?" asked the boy, noting a troubled
inflection in the old man's voice.

"My boat's gone!" was the startling reply.

"Gone! Are you sure?"

"No doubt about it. I left her tied ter the L wharf when I come
up from the island, and now there ain't hide nor hair uv her

"I'll bet anything that that fellow Curtiss is at the bottom of
all this," cried Rob. "I remember now I heard some time ago that
he was thick with that Hank Handcraft."

"I don't know what ter do about it at this time uv ther night,"
went on the distressed captain, "an' I can't go round waking
folks up ter get another boat."

"Of course not," agreed Rob. "There's only one thing for you to
do, captain, and that is to put up here to-night, and in the
morning we'll see what we can do."

"That's mighty fair, square, and above board uv yer, lad," said
the captain gratefully. "Punk me anywhere. I'm an old sailor,
and can aways find the softest plank in the deck."

"You won't have to do that," said Rob, who had slipped downstairs
by this time and opened the door; "we've got a spare room you can
bunk in to-night. I'll explain it all to father in the morning.
Perhaps he can help us out."

"Gee whiz! almost twelve o'clock," exclaimed Hiram Nelson,
looking up at the clock from the dining-room table in Paul
Perkins' house. The chamber was strewn with text books on model
aeroplane construction and littered with figures and plans of the
boys' own devising. "How time flies when you're on a subject
that interests you."

"Yes, it's a good thing it's vacation time," agreed Paul. "We
wouldn't be in much shape to work at our books to-morrow, eh?"

"I should say not!" rejoined Hiram with conviction. "Well, so
long, Paul. I guess we've got it all figured out now, and all
that is left to do is to go ahead."

"That's the idea," responded Paul. "We'll get the prize for the
glory of the Eagle Patrol, or-- or--"

"Bust!" Hiram finished for him.

Hiram's way home lay past the bank, and as he walked down the
moonlit street he thought for a minute that he perceived a light
in the windows of the armory.

Almost as he fancied he glimpsed it, however, it vanished, and
the lad was convinced that he must have been mistaken, or else
seen a reflection of the moonlight on the windows.

"Queer, though," he mused. "I could almost have sworn it was a

Another curious thing presently attracted his attention. As he
neared the bank a dark figure seemed to vanish into the black
shadows round the corner. Something familiar about it struck
Hiram, and the next moment he realized why.

"If that wasn't Bill Bender, I'm a Dutchman," he muttered, his
heart beating a little faster. "But what can he be doing round
here at this time of night?"

As he put the question to himself, Bill Bender, walking rapidly,
as if he had come from some distance, and had not dodged round
the corner a moment before, suddenly appeared from round the
angle of the bank building.

"Good evening, Bill," said Hiram, wondering if his eyes were not
playing him some queer tricks; "wasn't that you just went round
the corner?"

"Who, me?" blustered Bill. "You need to visit an oculist, young
man. I've just come from a visit to my aunt's. It was her
birthday, and we had a bully time. Sat up a little too late,
though. Good night."

And with a great assumption of easiness, the crony of Jack
Curtiss walked rapidly off up the street.

"I guess he's right," mused Hiram, as he hurried on home. "But
if that wasn't Bill Bender who walked round that corner it was
his ghost, and all the ghosts I ever read about don't wear
squeaky boots."

If Hiram had remained he would have had further cause to be
suspicious and speculative.

The lad's footsteps had hardly died out down the street before
Bill Bender cautiously retraced his way, and, going round to the
side street, upon which the steps leading to the armory opened,
gave a cautious whistle. In reply a sack was lowered from a
window to him by some person invisible above.

Although there was some little light on the Main Street by reason
of the moon and the few scattering lamps along the thoroughfare,
the spot in which Bill now stood was as black as the proverbial

"Is the coast all clear?" came down a voice from the window

"Yes; but if I hadn't spotted young Hiram Nelson coming down the
street and warned you to put out that light, it wouldn't have
been," responded Bill in the same cautious tone.

"Well, we're safe enough now," came back the voice above, which
any of his acquaintances would have recognized as Jack Curtiss'.
"I've got the rest of them in this other sack. Here, take this
one when I drop it."

Bill made a bungling effort to catch the heavy receptacle that
fell following Jack's warning, but in the darkness he failed, and
it crashed down with quite a clatter.

"Look out!" warned Jack anxiously, "some one might hear that."

"Not in this peaceful community. You seem to forget that eleven
o'clock is the very latest bedtime in Hampton."

After a brief interval Jack Curtiss himself slipped out of the
side door of the armory and joined his friend on the dark

"Well, what's the next move on the program?" asked Bill.

"We'll sneak down Bailey's Lane--there are no lights there--to
Hank's place. Sam will be waiting off there with the boat,"
rejoined Jack.

"Yes, if he hasn't lost his nerve," was Bill's rejoinder as they
shouldered their sacks and slipped off into the deep blackness
shrouding the side streets.

"Well, if he has lost it, he'll come near losing his head, too,"
grated out Jack, "but don't you fear, he wants that fifty too
badly to go back on us."

Silently as two cats the cronies made their way down the
tree-bordered thoroughfare known as Bailey's Lane and after a few
minutes gained the beach.

"Say, that's an awful hike down to Hank's gilded palace,"
grumbled Bill, "why didn't you have Sam wait for us off here?"

"Yes, and have old man Hudgins discover him when he finds his
boat is gone," sneered Jack, "you'd have made a fine botch of
this if it hadn't been for me."

The two exchanged no further words on the weary tramp along the
soft beach. They plodded along steadily with the silence only
broken by a muttered remark emanating from Bill Bender from time
to time.

"Thank heaven, there's the place at last," exclaimed Bill, with a
sigh of relief, as they came in sight of the miserable hut, "I
began to think that Hank must have moved."

Jack gave a peculiar whistle and the next instant the same light
the boys had seen earlier in the evening shone through the chinks
of the hovel.

"Well, he's awake, at any rate," remarked Jack with a grin, "now


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