The High School Boys' Canoe Club
H. Irving Hancock
Part 4 out of 4
"More steam!" Dick urged. As the Gridley canoe went creeping
up on the rival craft, Hartwell muttered another of his ridiculous
"Preston hasn't let itself out yet, and we're next door to panting
already," Tom Reade told himself, with a sinking heart. "We were
fools to enter as a school crew without more practice!"
At this time Dick Prescott was the only one in the war canoe who
serenely ignored all doubts. Of course he couldn't be sure that
he would win. In fact, all the chances appeared against him.
But the absurd habit, as it seemed to others, of feeling that
Gridley could not be beaten, was strong upon him.
More than half way to the upper buoy Preston High School led by
more than two lengths.
"Get on, Gridley! Get on! Do something!" came the distant yet
distinct yells from shore. Many spectators, in carriages, or
on bicycles, were following the rival crews.
"Prescott, what ails you?" came a wailing cry from shore.
There were other discouraging calls, too. Had Dick been less
strong in his faith in Dick & Co. he might have gone to pieces
under the nagging.
Bob Hartwell, glancing smilingly back over one shoulder, saw the
Gridley boys working.
"We've got 'em stung, fellows," called the Preston High School
big chief to his crew. "Take it easy, but don't let 'em gain
anything. We won't try to increase the lead until we're on the
last half of the home stretch."
A hundred and fifty yards from the upper buoy Dick passed the
"Now, hump a bit. We want to worry 'em as we get to the buoy.
Make it hot for Preston! One, two, three, four!"
Some of that distance was covered. As Preston rounded the buoy
Hartwell and his crew came face to face with Gridley, about to
"One, two, three, four!" almost drawled Dick. He had already
passed the signal to his own men, not one of whom obeyed his slow
count, but on the other hand, Preston High School for the space
of about fifteen seconds, slowed to that crawling count.
"Brace up, you dubs! Paddle!" roared Hartwell. "Never mind that
funeral march. Dipperty-dip!"
Preston recovered from its brief trance and shot ahead. But Gridley
was already around the buoy and coming fast.
Half way home from the upper buoy found Preston going strongly,
two and a half lengths ahead of Gridley High School.
"Oh, you, Prescott, get up and run!" came the dismal, desperate
advice from shore.
As he mentally measured the distance, now, to the finishing line,
Dick Prescott's eyes flashed.
"Now, your reserve power, fellows!" he called in a low, tense
voice. "Make every stroke count! Full muscle! Never mind your
backs! One, two, three, four!"
A splendid showing Gridley made. Soon the lead of the rivals
was less than two lengths.
"Steam-ho!" called Hartwell. "Hot sail!"
Preston's paddles flashed in the sunlight in unison, in the best,
swiftest stroke they had yet shown. Over on shore the Preston
boosters let their lungs loose in cheering yells.
"Wait for a tugboat, Prescott!"
"You're up against the real thing, Gridley!"
"Come on in, Hartwell! The other canoe is tied to the shore!"
"More steam!" ordered Dick. "More steam! Your best, prize winning
Again Hartwell glanced backward. Now the prow of the war canoe
was less than half a length from the stern of the Preston craft.
Up and up it came. Hartwell, in a burst of energy, shouted his
"Dinky-bat! Hot sail!"
The new spurt carried Preston High School ahead once more.
NATURE HAS A DISMAL STREAK
"Come on, Prescott!"
"Or else sink!"
"Don't come back to Gridley!"
The cries from shore, as the Gridley boosters noted the effects
of the fine Preston work, were not encouraging.
"Preston High School wins!"
Indeed, it looked as though Hartwell's craft must be the winner.
Shorter and shorter became the distance to the finish line.
True, Big Chief Dick was bringing his prow close up to the stern
of the "Pathfinder" once more, but Preston evidently had a little
reserve steam left as yet.
"Go it, Hartwell! Go it! You win! Hurrah!"
Suddenly over the water traveled Dick Prescott's command:
"Now, then, Gridley! Break your backs!"
This time there was no counting, nor was there any need of any.
From Dave back to Dick all six bent their full strength and wind
to the task of making the "Scalp-hunter" dart over the water.
It was a grueling, killing pace that Dick had set for his crew,
but it did not need to last long. The finish line was close at
Hartwell saw the "Scalp-hunter's prow steal up on a level with
the centre of his own canoe.
"Go it, fellows---one last, big spurt!" he yelled.
A sudden yell from shore told another story. The war canoe's
nose was now six feet further along than the bow of the Preston
"Come on, Dick! Come on! Come on!"
"Speed! The last swift dash!" yelled Dick Prescott. "Bend to
Hartwell tried to call to his crew, but could not make himself
heard. The yelling from the shore, and from the boats nearby
drowned out all other sounds.
The two canoes seemed to be rivaling express trains in their speed.
Then the cheers of one faction drowned the groans of the other.
Gridley High School had shot across the finish line by a length
and a half lead over Preston High School.
Just as the "Pathfinder" left the line astern there came from
the Preston craft a sound like the report of a pistol.
One of the Preston braves had snapped his paddle off just above
As the "Scalp-hunter" swung about, Dick saw that broken-off blade
floating on the water.
"I'm glad that paddle didn't snap until you had crossed the line,"
Dick panted. "If it had, the real result would have been in doubt."
"Your crew won, Prescott!" called Bob Hart well in a husky voice.
"Thank you," returned Dick. "You're surely a generous enemy."
"Rivals, this afternoon, but enemies never!" protested young Hartwell.
Now a blast from the whistle of the launch recalled the two canoes.
Standing in the bow of the launch, Referee Tyndall announced
so that those on shore might hear plainly:
"Gridley wins by a length and a half!" From the shore came a
wild cheer. There was also a frenzied waving of handkerchiefs
and of parasols. Though the Gridley boosters might be few in
number, they were great in enthusiasm.
As the "Pathfinder" started in for the landing float a crowd made
a rush to meet the canoes. It was not, however, the Preston craft,
that the crowd wanted, for this was a Gridley crowd.
Noting the fact with his keen eyes, Dick gave the word for easy
paddling. Then he swung the war canoe about, heading toward camp.
That proved not at all to the crowd's liking.
"Come back, Prescott! This way, Gridley! We want you!"
"Why don't you land, Dick?" queried Tom Reade.
"What! Land at the mercy of that crowd!" exclaimed Prescott.
"That is a Gridley crowd. They're so pleased over our winning
that what they'd do to us might be worse than what they'd have
done if we had lost."
"Where are you going?" asked Dave, somewhat disappointed.
"Camp is good enough for us, I guess. It's a safe place, anyway,"
A few minutes later the "Scalp-hunter" touched lightly on the
beach in front of camp.
Towser greeted them with a joyous bark.
"So you've been watching the race instead of the camp, have you?"
demanded Tom, eyeing the dog in mock reproach.
"Oh, but I'm tired!" muttered Darrin, after they had beached the
canoe. "This green grass looks inviting."
He threw himself down at full length on the grass.
"Up, for yours," commanded Dick, grasping him by one arm and pulling
Dave to his feet. "Don't you know that your blood is almost at
fever heat after the strain of the race? Do you want to get a
chill that will keep the whole camp up to-night?"
"I want to lie down," muttered Darrin. "And I want to sleep."
"Then get off your racing clothes, put on your other clothes,
then roll yourself well in your blankets and lie down in the
tent," Dick ordered. "That's what I'm going to do."
Now that the strain was over every member of Dick & Co. found
himself so weary that the putting on of ordinary clothes was a
process which proceeded slowly. After a while, however, all six
had rolled themselves in their blankets and lay on the leaf-piled
floor of the tent.
All but Dick and Harry were asleep, presently, when an automobile
stopped near the camp.
"Anyone at home?" called Referee Tyndall, poking his head in past
the flap of the tent and viewing the recumbent lads. "All here?
That's good. I'm a committee of one, sent over here by the Gridley
folks at the hotel. They're ordering a supper and they want you
boys to come over promptly. You're to be the guests of honor."
"Will you be good enough to present the Gridley people with our
best thanks," returned Dick promptly, rising to greet the referee,
"and ask them very kindly to excuse us? Assure them, please,
that we're in strict training, with more races to come, and that
banquets would perhaps spoil us for the next race."
"I'm afraid I'll have difficulty in getting that message through,"
protested Mr. Tyndall. "Your Gridley friends are bound to have
you over at the hotel."
"They can't get us there with anything less than the state militia,"
declared Dave, who had awakened. "We can fight and whip any smaller
body of armed men that tries to drag us away from our rest.
Our friends are good to us but can't they understand that we ache?"
"You _do_ look rather played out," assented Mr. Tyndall, after surveying
the various wrapped bundles of high school boy humanity. "But
can't you raise enough energy to come over in an hour?"
"If the Gridley people are really our friends," protested Tom
Reade, opening his eyes, "they'll let us sleep through until to-morrow
morning. We nearly killed our tender young selves in that last
big spurt, and now we must rest our bones and aching muscles."
"But what can I tell the folks at the hotel?" begged Mr. Tyndall.
"Tell 'em that we appreciate their kindness," laughed Dick.
"All right. I'll tell them---something," murmured Mr. Tyndall,
as he turned away.
"Up, all of you fellows!" commanded Dick Prescott. "This doesn't
look very gracious on our part, when an entertainment has been
arranged for us. We'll go, and attend to our aches to-morrow."
But when the referee of the afternoon noted how stiffly they
all moved he found himself filled with compassion.
"Don't you try to come over, boys," he urged. "You're too stiff
and sore to-night. Some people, myself included, don't realize
that fifteen-year-old boys haven't the bodily stamina of men of
twenty-five. You did a splendid bit of work this afternoon,
and now you're entitled to your rest."
"We'll get over there, somehow," Dick promised.
"No; you won't. Don't you try it. The Gridley visitors would
be brutes to try to drag you out to-night. I shan't let you go,
and I shall tell the home folks that you're enjoying a well-won
"But don't you let any of the Preston High School fellows know
how crippled you found us," begged Dave Darrin.
"What would you care, if I did?" laughed Mr. Tyndall. "You fellows
won the race, didn't you? And I'll wager that the Preston boys
are feeling a whole lot worse than you are. Don't come! Good
"Tyndall is a brick to let us off," sighed Tom gratefully, as
he sank down once more.
Later on Dick & Co. emerged from the tent, started a fire, and
had supper, though they did not pay great attention to the meal.
"I wouldn't want to race every day," grunted Reade, as he squatted
near the fire after supper.
"If we did," Dick retorted, "we'd speedily get over these aches
and this stiffness."
For an hour or so the boys remained about the fire. Dan Dalzell
was the first to slip away to his blankets. Hazelton followed.
Then the movement became general. Soon all were sound asleep.
Nor did any sounds reach or disturb them for hours. Not one of
the sleepers stirred enough to know that the sky gradually became
overcast and that there was a distant rumbling of thunder.
Hardly had the campfire burned down into the general blackness
of the night when an automobile runabout, moving slowly and silently,
stole along the roadway.
In it sat the son of Squire Ripley. Fred, having brooded for
hours over the failure of his scheme to make Dick & Co. lose the
canoe race, had at last decided to pay a stealthy, nocturnal visit
to the camp of the boys he disliked, with the express purpose
of doing whatever mischief his hands might find to do.
His father's family car and automobile runabout were both at the
hotel garage, and at his disposal. Soon Fred Ripley was speeding
away over the country road in the automobile runabout.
As he neared the camp he extinguished the running lights, then
went on slowly so as to make no noise. At last he stopped the
Gr-r-r-r! came out of the darkness. Faithful Towser was still
at his post. He came forward slowly, suspiciously out of the
darkness. He may have recognized his enemy, for Towser came close
to the car, showing his teeth in an ugly fashion.
Fred lost no time in starting his car forward. "I wish that pup
would have the nerve to get in front of the car," he muttered
as he drove slowly away from the camp. "What fun it would be
to run over the brute! I don't dare to get out of the car while
he's on guard. I forgot about him for the time being, though
goodness knows I've cause to remember him."
Towser uttered one or two farewell growls. Two hundred yards
further on Fred let out the speed in earnest, at the same time
switching on the electric running lights.
"I'll come back late to-night," Fred reflected. "I'll leave the
machine a little way down the road, and come up here on foot.
In the meantime I'll think of some scheme to get square with
Dick Prescott and his crowd. I'll hunt up a good stout club,
too, and then if that confounded dog is troublesome I'll settle
For an hour or more Fred ran the car at random over one country
road after another.
"I wonder if that pup ever goes to sleep," he muttered. "I'd
really like to know. If I'm going back that way to-night I'd
better be turning about, for there is a bad storm coming."
Turning the car, he drove swiftly back again. In about twenty
minutes he reached a part of the road directly above the camp.
Overhead the lightning was flashing brightly. Heavy thunder followed
each flash. Large drops of rain were falling, but Fred, bent
on his evil errand, did not mind. At any rate he was not afraid
of lightning. Aided by the flashes he searched along the side
of the road until he found a branch of a tree that he shaped into
a club with his knife.
"I won't wake Prescott's muckers," he reflected, "and I want to
be sure to attract the dog's notice if he is on guard."
A broad, white streak of lightning showed the tent from the road
as Ripley, armed with the club, drew nearer to it.
Fred halted. "They're all asleep, the muckers!" he muttered.
"I'm glad of that. Where is that dog? Why doesn't he come around?
I'm ready for him now."
Fred stole stealthily along, keeping a sharp lookout for the bull-dog.
Suddenly the sky was rent by a vivid flash of lightning so glaring
that the lawyer's son covered his eyes with his hands.
Bang! Crash! Almost instantly the thunder followed the flash.
"It's time to be getting out of here if I don't want to get drowned
on the way back to the hotel," Ripley decided. "I'll have to
postpone getting square with Prescott. Besides, the storm will
waken those fellows and I don't want to be caught here."
There came another flash, that descended near the water. The
crashing noise of the thunder came at the same instant.
Fred, facing the tent, saw the bolt strike the ridge pole. Evidently
the current ran down one of the poles, for he saw the bluish white
electric fluid running over the ground, coming from inside the
tent. The tent sagged, then fell.
"Gracious!" shivered this evil traveler of the night. "It will
be a wonder if that bolt didn't stretch them all out. I wonder
if it killed Dick Prescott and his crowd?"
Uncontrollable curiosity seized upon Fred. Turning about he ran
toward the tent. Violently he tugged at the canvas. As he lifted
it another sharp flash showed him the six Gridley High School
boys lying motionless in a row.
"The lightning did finish them!" gasped young Ripley, overcome
with fright and awe.
FRED IS GRATEFUL---ONE SECOND!
For some moments Fred Ripley stood there, spellbound, regarding
the still figures of Dick & Co. with fascinated fear.
Most of the time he stood in darkness, but as the flashes of lightning
came he again saw the six motionless figures. Even the fearful
crashes of thunder failed to arouse the sleepers.
"Oh, this is grewsome!" gasped Ripley at last, the coward in him
coming to the surface strongly. "I can't stand this any longer!"
Unconsciously he spoke aloud, his voice rising to a wail. Then
as he let the folds of canvas fall, a voice inside called angrily:
"Quit that! I want to get out."
It was Dave Darrin's voice, and Dave was the quickest-tempered
one of the six boys.
Fred knew that it behooved him to get away from the spot at once.
There was a wriggling under the canvas. Ripley turned to flee.
Gr-r-r-r! Towser stood barring his path.
"Hurry up, Darrin!" appealed Fred, as Towser moved closer, showing
his teeth. "Hurry! Or this dog will chew me up."
"Who's there?" called Darrin, thrusting his head out of the collapsed
tent, then drawing the rest of his body after.
Another flash of lightning showed Ripley's frightened face.
"Oh, you, is it?" uttered Dave in a tone full of scorn.
"Hurry and quiet this bull-dog!" the lawyer's son insisted.
"Don't worry," retorted Darrin calmly. "Towser wouldn't sink
his teeth very deep in you! He's a self-respecting dog."
Now that one of the members of the canoe club was on the spot,
the bull pup displayed less ferocity. He contented himself with
eyeing Fred, ready to spring at a second's notice.
"What has happened?" demanded Dave, looking rather bewilderedly
at the tent.
"Your shack was struck by lightning," Fred answered glibly, and
then, ever ready to lie, he added, "I was passing by in the car,
in a hurry to get back to the hotel, and I saw the thing happen.
The lightning ran along the ridge-pole, then down into the tent
and out at the sides along the ground. I'm afraid same of your
fellows have been struck. At first I thought all of you had been
killed, so I ran down here to investigate."
But Dave paid little heed to the last part of this statement.
He had seized hold of one side of the canvas, holding it up.
"Dick!" he called lustily. "Tom, Greg, Dan, Harry!"
There was no response. The thunder continued to boom louder than
"Hold this canvas up," Dave Darrin ordered sharply, and Ripley,
knowing that Towser was eyeing him, obeyed. Inside crawled Darrin,
shaking each of his friends in turn and calling to them.
"I can't wake 'em! I can't get 'em to speak," reported Darrin,
crawling out again, his face white with anguish. "I'm afraid
"Yes," nodded Ripley, in a hoarse voice. "They're dead!"
"How did you say you got here?" demanded Dave suddenly. "In a
"Then we'll prop the canvas up to let air inside the tent, and
then you'll drive me to the Hotel Pleasant as fast as you can go!"
"Maybe I won't," jeered Fred.
"Maybe you will," retorted Dave Darrin indignantly. His voice
rang with righteous contempt. "Either you'll stand by at a time
like this, or I'll fall upon you tooth and nail---with the very
able help of the dog!"
Gr-r-r-r! approved Towser, again showing his teeth.
"I---I'll take you!" quavered Ripley.
"Of course you will," nodded Darrin. "Wait till I see if the
lantern is all right."
He crawled into the tent, found the lantern and struck a match.
Curiously enough the lantern had not been injured. Placing the
lantern outside, Darrin sharply commanded his chance companion
to aid in propping the canvas so that those underneath could get
"Now, come along," ordered Darrin, when this had been done. "Towser,
watch the---the gentleman!"
Thus they started up the slope, when they heard a growl just ahead
of them. In the same instant Towser, uttering a yelp, turned
and darted away as fast as he could go.
"Now, we'll see whether you'll boss me," grunted Fred Ripley,
brandishing the club that he held in his left hand. "Your dog
is no good any more."
"Neither will you or I be any good any more if we don't keep our
nerve," uttered Darrin quietly, as he turned the lantern's rays
against the object in their path. "There's only one thing in
the world Towser would run away from, and that's just what is
ahead of us---a mad dog!"
At this instant Fred, too, caught sight of the object in their
path. A large dog, of doubtful breed, stood before them, its
head down, but its bloodshot eyes watching them cunningly. It's
dripping jaws carried conviction that the animal was rabid.
Fred did not cry out or stir. He was too frightened to do either.
But Dave very stealthily put down the lantern. Then, his muscles
wholly steady, he snatched up an eight-foot pole that lay on the
"Now, come on, you beast!" challenged Darrin, making a slight
thrust with the pole.
Enraged at the challenge, the rabid dog sprang forward, its mouth
wide open. Without faltering, Dave made a thrust that jammed
the pole hard into the animal's mouth.
Staggered by the blow, the dog fell back on its side. It never
rose again, for now Darrin used the pole as a club, raining down
blows upon the dangerous animal until he was sure that there was
no life left in it.
"Darrin, that was wonderful nerve of yours!" gasped Fred with
admiration wrung from him in spite of himself. "And you saved
"I wasn't thinking of that," said Dave grimly, as he picked up
the lantern. "Don't you believe I'll ever brag about having saved
your life. Now to the car, and be quick."
Fred, stung by the contemptuous answer, felt his resentment raging.
He darted forward so swiftly that he might have been able to
leap into the car and get away with it, had not something else
For Towser, though he had run away from a rabid specimen of his
own species, had circled about. Now he leaped into the automobile,
growling, just as Fred would have sprung in.
"That's right, Towser. Hold the sneak!" called Dave, arriving
on a run and leaping into the car. "Now, Ripley, hang you, do
some quick and honest work!"
"Kick that dog out of the car first," pleaded Fred.
"I won't," Darrin retorted. "The dog is my guarantee for your
good behavior to-night."
As soon as might be they ran around the lower end of the lake,
then raced for the hotel.
There Dr. Bentley was aroused. While he was dressing he sent
a bell-boy to order his own big car.
Just when Ripley vanished from the scene no one about the grounds
or the hotel seemed to know or care.
Dr. Bentley, dressed in record time, came down.
"Now, we'll drive fast, Darrin," the doctor announced, as he dropped
his bag into the car and seated himself at the wheel. "Struck
by lightning, did you say? It was a fearful storm, but it is
Ere they reached the camp the stars were out. There was no sign
of nature's dangerous mood.
Dr. Bentley first of all ordered that the canvas be lifted and
cast aside. The tent was badly wrecked and burned, though the
rain had prevented the rising of flames that might have burned
the bodies of the five unconscious boys.
"Throw your coat off, Darrin, and do the work of four men for
a few minutes," said Dr. Bentley tersely.
"I'll do the work of a hundred," replied Dave, "if I can find
After some minutes of hard work Tom Reade opened his eyes. Shortly
after this the puffing of one of the hotel launches was heard.
For the doctor, while hurrying into his clothes, had left word
with Mrs. Bentley what to do. The launch brought another and
much larger tent, with cots, bedding and other things, as well
as four capable workmen.
Greg came to next. Neither he nor Reade, however, were good for
much at the time. By the time that the new tent was up, and the
cots arranged those who were still unconscious were carried in
there. Then Greg and Tom were helped into the drier quarters.
It was Dick who longest resisted the efforts to bring him to
consciousness. At last, however, he opened his eyes.
"It was a mercy that none of you were killed," uttered Dr. Bentley
devoutly. "A little bit more of the current and you might have
been done for."
But now that he had attended to his young friends, Dr. Bentley
did not think of returning to the hotel. He remained through
the night, despite the fact that his charges became steadily stronger
and at last went sound asleep.
In the morning, before eight o'clock, the launch was over again
on that side of the lake. This time it brought Mrs. Bentley,
Mrs. Meade and the girls, as well as a lot of daintily prepared
food fresh from the hotel kitchen.
"This is a mighty pleasant world!" sighed Dick Prescott, full
of luxurious content.
"Yes when you have some good friends in the same world with you,"
Dave and Dan slipped away to remove the body of the rabid dog
killed during the night.
The tent they had brought with them from Gridley would never be
of service again, so Dick & Co. were highly delighted when informed
that Manager Wright begged them to accept the use of this larger,
finer tent, and also of the cots, during their stay at the lake.
TRENTVILLE, THE AWESOME
As the "Scalp-hunter" swung around the upper buoy and headed down
the course she had a lead of a clean two lengths over the Trentville
High School canoe.
There was a larger crowd on the lake to-day and more steam and
gasoline craft were out.
As Dick & Co. shot down the line, still leading, steam and pneumatic
whistles broke forth into a noisy din.
Over on the western shore, on the grounds of the larger hotel,
only one little knot of Gridley people stood to watch and cheer.
These were the Bentleys, Mrs. Meade and the same group of girls
that had watched the other race.
No excursion had come up from the home town to-day, for no one
in Gridley had believed that their high school youngsters could
defeat the seasoned Trentville High School canoe crew.
Only two days before Trentville had won from Preston High School
by nearly five lengths.
What show was there for Dick & Co. or for Gridley High School?
Hence the smallness of the Gridley crowd present.
However, some hundreds of people who looked on were eager only
to see the best crew win, as they had no ties binding them either
to Gridley or to Trentville.
But the unexpected had happened.
In the first place, when the Trentville canoe and crew arrived
at the lake Dick Prescott had insisted that Preston High School
and Trentville High School race together first.
Thus he had opportunity to watch the Trentville work. Moreover,
by delaying his own race against Trentville, Dick had had more
time to train and drill his crew into form, both as to paddling
He had profited well by these opportunities. To-day, from the
outset, he had handled his crew so that a slight lead over Trentville
had been maintained. This had been gradually increased, and now
that the buoy had been turned with such a handsome lead, none
on shore or in the other boats believed that Trentville High School
had any further chance.
Pascal, however, who captained the Trentville canoe, had another
view of the matter. It was Ted Pascal's third summer in a canoe.
He had drilled more than one crew, and knew all the ins and outs
of the sport.
"I guess Prescott thinks he has the whole thing, by this time,"
smiled Pascal to himself. "Poor chap. He's a nice young freshman,
and I hate to fool him. But we'll soon begin our work. The Gridley
crew must be well tired by now."
Presently Ted Pascal passed the word quietly over the heads of
his perspiring but confident crew.
"Tighten up a little bit, now---a little bit at a time," was the
message Pascal gave his followers.
By the time that the home course had been half covered it was
noted that the "Slip-over," as the Trentville craft was named,
was creeping up fast on its rival.
Dick, too, quickly became aware of this.
"Trentville is showing a lot of new form, fellows, and coming
right up on us," Dick called quietly. "This race isn't won!
The fact, we're near to losing it. Form! form! muscle! Don't
fumble again, Hazelton! One, two, three, four!"
But still the Trentville High School craft continued to creep
up on them. The Gridley High School girls on shore became so
anxious that they forgot to wave their handkerchiefs and cheer.
"More push! Power, as well as speed," Dick panted, for now the
grueling speed was beginning to tell on even the leader of Dick
The prow of the "Slip-over" now passed the stern of the
"Scalp-hunter." Reade saw this, too, and uttered a groan.
From the shore and the boats holding spectators came new volleys
of cheers, for most of these spectators were wholly impartial,
and wanted only to see an exciting race.
"Let yourself out, Gridley!" boomed a voice over the water.
Dick and Co. were doing their best---or what amounted to much
the same thing---believed that they were, at any rate.
Yet the Trentville canoe crept steadily up, then led by a quarter
length, a half length. It looked as though the Trentville crew
would soon be a length ahead of the Gridley boys.
Everyone of Dick's chums was desperate. So was Dick himself,
but he kept as cool as possible.
"Bring our prow up!" he called steadily. "No matter what happens,
bring our prow up flush with Trentville!"
By some miracle the Gridley boys found strength enough left in
their arms and backs to accomplish this feat.
Then the "Scalp-hunter" dropped behind again, an inch at a time.
"We caught 'em once!" called Dick in an even voice. "We must
do it again. One, two, three, four! Hump! hump! Put in the
By inches the "Scalp-hunter" crawled up, but Dick & Co. felt
"You've been doing well, kid," called the even voice of Ted Pascal
over the water, "but you can't do any more. We take this race!"
"Do you?" dared Dick.
"Yes; you're all in, and we have reserve steam left."
"Have you?" snapped young Prescott. "Then now is the time to
Taking a deep breath, Dick Prescott shouted:
"Remember what Gridley demands! No defeats. Dash ahead, Gridleys!
Now---go in and kill yourselves for the honor of your school!"
Dick was far from meaning that literally, but his quick eye had
measured the remaining distance of the course.
He was captain enough to know just what each of his men could
endure, and for how long they could stand up under it.
"Life is of little use to the vanquished!" Dick shouted on. "Go
in to win---kill yourselves!"
At an earlier point on the course it would have been fearfully
bad leadership. It would have resulted in disaster had any of
Dick & Co. had any form of serious physical weakness.
But Dick Prescott knew his boys!
"Kill yourselves!" he shouted out again, as he saw the two canoes
running neck and neck. "For the honor of Gridley High School!"
Right noble was the response, though flesh and blood could not
stand this new and savage grilling for long.
"Wake up, Trentville!" shouted Ted Pascal, when he saw the
"Scalp-hunter" gaining. "Wake up! Let out all of your steam!
Dick Prescott said no more. His straining gaze was now fixed
on the finish line. Not one of his chums even glanced at the
imaginary line. All their thoughts, like all their glances, were
on their paddles.
"A final dash, now!" called Dick. "Slam up the pace for Gridley!"
But Trentville was showing its boasted reserve steam.
Close as they now were to the finish, Pascal had no thought of
permitting defeat to come to his crew.
No dinning of whistles was there now. Every spectator waited
breathlessly for the outcome that would be reached in the next
Then the end came.
Pascal sank back on his seat with a groan when he had put in the
last dip of his paddle that could do any good.
Frantic indeed was the cheering, and now once more came the deafening
screech of whistles.
From the judges' launch, as soon as the din had died down a bit,
came the announcement through a megaphone:
"Gridley High School wins by three quarters of a length."
Dick heard the news, then ordered quietly:
A turn of his own blade swung the prow around so that the "Scalp-hunter"
glided in toward the hotel landing float.
To-day he had no jubilant mob of Gridleyites to fear in the excess
of their joy. Only some very gentle friends of their own town
came hurrying forward to congratulate them.
But Dr. Bentley gripped Dick's arm as soon as that young man stepped
from the canoe.
"Bring your crew along and follow me, Prescott," whispered the
physician. "You are a limp-looking lot. That was a wild, splendid
finish, but I fear you may have put it too hard to your crew.
I want to examine you all, to make sure that not too much harm
has been done by your desperate 'kill yourself' order."
Dr. Bentley led the way to the boathouse, while a hotel employ
took charge of the "Scalp-hunter."
He listened briefly at each boy's heart, then made them all sit
still for ten minutes. At the end of that time he examined them
again as to heart beat. Half an hour later he made a third examination.
"I don't believe anyone of you has sustained any lasting injury,"
said Dr. Bentley at last. "But, Prescott, don't you ever dare
give a 'kill yourself' order again. That is my order, and an
emphatic one. You may recall that I happen to be medical director
of the Gridley High School Athletic Association. If you youngsters
ever try a pace like that again, then undoubtedly you will all
be disqualified from future athletic events. Don't forget."
After that lecture Dick & Co. were allowed to sponge with hot
water, rub down and put on ordinary clothing. Then they went
forth to meet their friends.
Ted Pascal, however, was the first to rush forward. He had been
waiting for their appearance.
"Prescott, you're a great fellow as a crew captain!" the big
chief of the Trentvilles declared. "I was sure we had you beaten,
and even now I can't imagine how you left us to the rear. But
it was a great race, and I congratulate you!"
"And we all thank you for your good will," Dick answered promptly.
"Truth to tell, Pascal, I thought, too, that you almost had us
"Almost?" echoed Ted. "Why not wholly?"
"Because Gridley is never quite beaten. It's our way, you know---one
that was adopted by a past generation of Gridley boys and has
been lived up to ever since."
"I've heard a lot about that 'Gridley way,'" laughed Ted Pascal,
"but to-day was the first time that I've ever had it played on me."
"Do you play football?" asked Dick.
"I tried, but couldn't make the nine," Pascal confessed.
"Then I don't know that you're likely to have the 'Gridley' way
played upon you again not unless you meet some of our girls in
a tennis game."
The two crews mingled, passing some ten minutes in talk and in
good-humored chaff. But at last Dick broke away and drew out
from the canoe talk as he saw Laura, Belle, Susie and the other
girls awaiting them at a point farther up in the hotel grounds.
"I know the girls have been waiting to speak to us," Dick told
his chums, "and they've been mighty kind to us. Come along."
"We thought you would never get around to talking with poor mortals
like us," Laura admitted, as the boys joined the high school
"It was mainly your father's fault," Dick laughingly, protested.
"How was that?"
"You'll have to ask him. Perhaps we're not at liberty to reveal
what the Athletic Association's medical director had to say to us."
"Especially when it's in the nature of a 'roast,'" added Danny
"If my father was severe with any of you I am certain that he
had good reason," replied Laura gravely, though her eyes twinkled.
"But what a splendid race you made against Trentville and at
one time we felt sure that you were beaten."
"We all felt the same way at one time," Tom Reade interjected.
"All except Dick," added Darry. "Why, if anyone were to kill
Dick Prescott, Dick would insist on the fellow coming around the
next day and proving his death."
"It was a splendid race, anyway," Belle glowed. "Do you notice
"Where?" asked Tom, looking blankly around.
"Anything about us?" Susie put in.
"Nothing," drawled Tom, "except that you're the finest, daintiest
and sweetest-looking lot of girls we know. But that's true every
other day in the week."
"We didn't ask you anything like that," Susie pouted, "though
doubtless it's all true enough. But don't you notice what we're
"I think I see what you mean," Greg suggested hopefully. "Each
one of you is wearing the Gridley High School pin."
"Correct!" assented Susie warmly. "But can't you guess why we're
wearing the pins? It's because when Gridley boys can win such
a race as you won to-day it's a real honor to wear the pin."
"And a bigger honor to have it worn on our account," Dick laughed.
"I was waiting to see who would be the first boy to say something
really nice!" cried Clara Marshall.
"Have you heard of any more canoe clubs coming this way---high
school clubs with which you could arrange races?" asked Laura.
"No," said Dick, with a shake of his head. "Even if there were
a dozen coming here I'm afraid we'd have to lose the chance."
"Why?" asked Belle quickly.
"Because we can remain here only two or three days longer."
"Oh, that's a shame," broke in Susie. "Do you really have to
go back to Gridley?"
"Yes," said Dick solemnly.
"Is the reason one that you may properly tell us?" Laura inquired.
"It's one that we're not ashamed of, because we can't help it,"
Prescott rejoined. "Our vacation up here is nearly at an end
just because our funds are in the same plight---nearly at an end,
"Oh, what a shame!" cried Clara sympathetically.
"To be short of money is more than a shame," blurted Tom Reade.
"It is a crime, or ought to be. No one has any right to be
poor---but what can we do?"
"Oh, well, there are plenty of pleasant times to be had in good
old Gridley in the summer time," Dick declared stoutly. "And
we shall have our canoe there."
While chatting the young people had been walking up through the
hotel grounds until now they stood just behind the stone wall
that separated the ground from the road.
"Why---look what's coming!" urged Dave Darrin, in a voice expressive
of mock interest.
All looked, of course.
Fred Ripley, his hat drawn down over his eyes, came trudging along.
In one hand he carried a dress suit case, and from the way his
shoulder sagged on that side, the ease appeared to be heavy.
On young Ripley's face was a deep scowl.
"Judging from his appearance," suggested Tom Reade, "Rip is walking
all the way to the Land of Sweet Tempers. Probably he's doing
it on a wager, and is just beginning to realize what a long road
lies ahead of him. I wonder if he'll, arrive at his destination
during his lifetime?"
Fred's shoes, usually so highly polished, were already thick with
dust. His collar, ordinarily stiff and immaculate, was sadly
wilted and wrinkled. His whole air was one of mingled dejection
"I wonder what can have happened to him?" asked Susie curiously.
"I think his conscience may be chasing him," smiled Dick.
What really had happened was that Squire Ripley had been present
when his son had made a very disrespectful answer to a white-haired
man, one of the guests at the Lakeview House where the Ripleys
In a great rage the lawyer had decided to send his son home for
that act of gross disrespect to the aged.
To make the punishment more complete, Mr. Ripley had ordered his
son to make the long journey on foot over the hills to the railway
station. Only enough money had been handed the young man to buy
his railway ticket home. The dress suit case had been added
in order to make his progress more difficult.
"A young man who cannot treat the aged with proper respect must
be dealt with severely," said Lawyer Ripley to his son. "You
will reach home fagged out from your long tramp. For your fare,
until your mother and I return, you will have to depend on such
food as the servants at home can spare you from their larder.
Don't you dare order anything from the stores to be charged against
me. Now, go home, drowse out your summer in the hot town and
reflect on what a mean cad you have shown yourself to be to-day."
While Fred was thinking this all over he glanced up suddenly,
to see fourteen pairs of Gridley eyes fixed upon him. The young
people, as soon as they found themselves observed, immediately
turned their glances away from the sullen looking young pedestrian
from their school.
"I wonder what has happened to Fred Ripley?" Susie repeated, when
the object of their remark was some distance away. "Something
has gone very wrong with him. A blind man could see that much."
During this time Fred was thinking to himself:
"If the guv'nor subjects me to this degradation just for one sharp
answer to an old man, what would that same guv'nor do to me if
he knew all the things that I've been engaged in up here at the
lake? What if he knew that I hired that farmer's son to swim
under the float and attach that drag to the canoe? What would
the guv'nor do if he knew that I tried to wreck Prescott's outfit?"
Fred shivered at the mental prospect of his father's stern, grim
But young Ripley, as sometimes happens, wasn't caught just then.
He would go on for the present planning mean tricks against those
whom he had no just reason to dislike. Yet his time was sure
Soon after Dick & Co. were compelled to bid adieu to Lake Pleasant.
They had had a splendid time, and had acquitted themselves with
great credit in this entry into high school athletics. They had
had pleasure enough to last them all the rest of the summer in
The cost of transporting their canoe, on the homeward trip, was
borne out of the funds of the Gridley High School Athletic Council.
Dick & Co. entered three more canoe races against high school
teams that summer. All these were run off on the home river,
and Dick & Co. had the great glory of winning them all "the Gridley
After the summer, came the opening of the school year again.
Our readers may learn what happened to Dick & Co. in their sophomore
year in the second volume of the "_High School Boys Series_,"
which is published under the title, "_The High School Pitcher;
Or, Dick & Co. on the Gridley Diamond_."
As to what befell our young friends in the summer vacation which
followed their sophomore year, all that is told in the second
volume of the "_High School Boys Vacation Series_." That
interesting volume is published under the title, "_The High
School Boys' Summer Camp; Or, The Dick Prescott Six Training for
the Gridley Eleven_." It will be found to be a splendid story
of real American boys who know how to get the most out of both
work and play, and to make each year of life a preparation for
a better year to come. In this volume the friends of Dick & Co.
will find these six sturdy boys leading a life full of healthy
excitement and adventure in the woods.
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