Fenn Masterson's Discovery: or, The Darewell Chums on a Cruiseñêà÷àòü êíèãó áåñïëàòíî
“It was about a cave,” replied Fenn.
“Oh!” she exclaimed in such a voice that Fenn was alarmed. “I was afraid so! Why did I do it? Forget it, please! Forget that I ever mentioned it! I don’t know – ”
She seemed about to say something more, but her face suddenly became pale, and she fell back on the pillows.
“Doctor!” cried Fenn, very much frightened.
“Ah, I’m just in time, I see,” remarked Dr. Kyte, coming into the room at that moment. “I’ll attend to her now, Fenn. She has only fainted.”
SAVING THE AUTO
Fenn’s brain was in a whirl. The manner of the girl, her strange words, her sudden fright when he had sought to recall to her what she had said, and her reference to a mysterious cave, all served to give the lad much to think about. Coming as it did, on top of the automobile accident, it added to the excitement of the day. He was glad, when he got down stairs, to find that his three chums had returned with the things for which the physicians had sent them.
“Well, were you playing nurse?” asked Frank.
“Say,” declared Fenn earnestly, “I certainly was up against it. I had a delirious patient, who was talking about caves and strange men.”
“Tell us,” suggested Bart, and Fenn related what the girl had said.
“That’s nothing,” declared Ned. “She was talking in her sleep.”
“No, it was delirium.”
“Well, that’s the same thing,” retorted Ned. “It doesn’t mean anything. She was all worked up over the accident. Probably she looked ahead, saw the fence, and got scared half to death. Then, when the auto went over the cliff, and she and her father were spilled out, it might have looked as if she was falling into a cave. That’s all.”
“I don’t believe it,” declared Fenn determinedly. “I think there is something back of her talk. She was only partly delirious. Besides, she knew she had been talking about a cave, for she asked me to forget all about it. There’s something in all this, and don’t you forget it. Some day I’ll find out what it is.”
“You’re a regular mystery solver, you are, Stumpy,” declared Ned.
“Fenn! Fenn!” exclaimed an excited woman, coming into the dining room where the boys had gathered to talk. “What has happened? What is the matter? Are you hurt? Was there an accident? Why is Constable Darby in front of the house, keeping the crowd back?”
“There was an accident, mother,” said Fenn, “and a man and a girl who were hurt have been brought here. I told them to fetch them in. I thought you wouldn’t care.”
“No, of course not. Poor things! I’m so sorry! Are they badly hurt?”
“I’m afraid the man is, but the girl seems to be getting better, except that she fainted awhile ago,” replied Fenn, and he briefly related what had happened.
Just then Dr. Fanwood came into the room, to ask Fenn to heat some water, and he remarked:
“It is not so bad as we feared. The young lady is suffering from nothing but shock and some bruises.
The man, her father, has a bad wound on the head, but nothing serious. They will both be all right in a few days. It was a narrow escape.”
“Who are they, Doctor?” asked Mrs. Masterson.
“I have not been able to question either of them,” replied the physician, “but, from papers which we found in the man’s pocket I take him to be Robert Hayward, of Bayville, Wisconsin. The young woman is evidently his daughter, Ruth, though what they can be doing so far away from home, in an automobile, I do not know.”
“Is he dangerously hurt?” asked Mrs. Masterson.
“Well, it would be dangerous to move him for a few days, as complications might set in. If he could stay here – ”
“Of course he can,” interrupted Fenn’s mother. “He and his daughter, too. We have plenty of room.”
“I am glad to hear you say so,” replied the doctor. “They will get well more quickly if they are kept quiet. Now I must go back to my patient.”
He took the hot water Fenn gave him and left the room. The four chums and Mrs. Masterson discussed the recent happenings, and the crowd outside, learning from the constable that there was no one dead, or likely to die, went off to look at the auto which still hung over the cliff.
Mrs. Masterson rather ridiculed Fenn’s idea that the girl’s talk had a bearing on some mysterious happenings, and she was of the same opinion as Ned, that it was merely the raving of delirium. But Fenn stoutly clung to his own idea.
“You’ll see,” he declared.
The doctors left presently, and Alice Keene, Bart’s sister, who was something of a trained nurse, was installed to look after Mr. Hayward. Miss Hayward declared she was not ill enough to be in bed, and wanted to look after her father, but Mrs. Masterson insisted that the young woman must consider herself a patient for several days, and declared that she would take care of her.
“Come on, boys,” suggested Fenn, when the excitement had somewhat calmed down. “Let’s see if we can’t save the auto.”
“I’m afraid if we disturb it the least bit it will go over the cliff,” said Ned. “It’s hanging on by its teeth, so to speak.”
“We’ll try, anyhow,” decided Bart. “I’d like to help haul it back. Maybe we’d get a ride in it, after Mr. Hayward gets well.”
“That’s all you care about it,” taunted Frank with a laugh.
“No, but if we do save it, I guess you wouldn’t refuse a ride in it,” retorted Bart. “It isn’t often you get the chance.”
“That’s so,” agreed Fenn. “But come on. If we wait much longer the crowd will get around it and, maybe, loosen the wire that holds it.”
The four chums hurried to the scene of the accident. They found that the weight of the big car had stretched the wires so that the machine hung farther than ever over the edge of the cliff.
“It’s going to be a hard job to save that machine,” declared Ned. “How are we going to do it?”
“Let me think a minute,” spoke Bart, who was usually fertile in devising ways and means of doing things.
“What ye goin’ to do?” demanded Constable Darby who, having found his post as guard at the house an empty honor, had assumed charge of the machine. “What you boys up to now? You’d better move away from here.”
“We’re going to rescue Mr. Hayward’s auto for him,” declared Fenn with more assurance than he felt. “He wants it hauled back,” he added, which was true enough.
“Wa’al, ef he wants it, that’s a different thing,” replied the constable, who evidently recognized that Fenn had some rights in the matter, since the injured persons had been carried to the lad’s house.
“I guess we’ve got ropes enough,” spoke Bart. “The next thing is to get some pulleys and find something strong enough to stand the strain. I guess that big oak tree will do. Who knows where we can get some pulleys?”
“There are some at our house,” said Fenn. “The painters left them there when they finished the job last week. I can get them.”
“Good!” cried Bart. “You get ’em, and we’ll get the ropes in shape.”
When Fenn returned with the pulleys he found that his chums had taken several turns of one of the ropes about a tree, that was to stand the strain of hauling the auto back on firm ground. The pulleys were arranged so as to give more power to the hauling force, and then, the cables having been cautiously fastened to the back of the auto, Bart gave the word, and half a score of boys assisted the chums in heaving on the rope.
There was a long pull, a strong pull, and a pull altogether, but the auto never budged.
“Once more!” cried Bart.
“Hold on!” a voice urged, and the boys, and others in the crowd saw a telephone lineman approaching.
“That wire holds the wheels!” he explained, pointing to where the wire from the fence was entangled in the spokes. “You fellows hold on the rope and I’ll cut it for you!”
Drawing out a big pair of cutters he crawled under the rear of the auto, and, lying on his back, proceeded to sever the wire strands.
“Keep the rope taut!” urged Bart. “When the wire is cut there’ll be a heavy strain.”
The boys, and several men who had taken hold of the hempen cable, braced themselves. There was a snap, as the cutters went through the wire.
“Look out!” cried the lineman.
There was a creaking of the ropes. A sudden strain came on them, so powerful, that those holding the strands felt the hemp slipping through their fingers.
“She’s going over the cliff!” cried Bart. “Hold her, boys! Hold her!”
PLANNING A CRUISE
Farther and farther over the cliff slid the heavy auto. The boys and men, holding the rope, were pulled slowly along, as is a losing team in a tug-of-war.
“Snub your rope, boys!” a voice suddenly called. “Snub her! That’s the only way to hold her back! Take a half hitch around that stump, and you’ll have her! She’s got a little too much way on for you! Snub her! Snub her, I say!”
Bart gave one glance at the man who had called these directions. He saw a short, squatty figure, wearing a dark blue cap, with some gold braid on it. One glance was enough to show that the man knew what he was talking about.
Bart let go his grip of the rope. The auto slipped a little faster then, for there were not so many hands holding it. But Bart knew what he was doing. He grabbed the free end of the rope and, following the directions of the newcomer, who aided him, he took a couple of turns about a big stump. This “snubbed” or slowed up the progress of the ponderous car, and a moment later it came to a stop.
“Now you’ve got her!” exclaimed the squatty man. “She’ll hold until you can get a couple of teams to haul her back. You can’t do it alone. Too much steam needed!”
“That’s where you’re right, Captain Wiggs!” remarked Constable Darby. “I was jest a goin’ t’ tell th’ boys that myself, but it’s better t’ have th’ advice come from a regular sea-farin’ person I s’pose.”
“I’m no sea-faring person,” replied the captain. “The Great Lakes are good enough for me, but those who cruise on them know a thing or two, even if they’re not of the salt water.”
“Your advice came just in time, Captain,” said Ned, for the boys knew the commander of the steamer Modoc, which was one of the Great Lakes fleet of freight carriers, and occasionally tied up at Darewell.
“I should say it did,” added Frank. “My arms are nearly pulled off.”
“I’ll go up the street and see if I can get a couple of men to bring their teams here and haul the auto up,” volunteered Fenn. “I guess Mr. Hayward will pay them.”
The others thought this suggestion a good one, and, in a short time Fenn returned with two men, who each drove two powerful horses.
The animals were hitched to the rope and, after a little pulling and hauling, under the direction of Captain Wiggs, who naturally took charge, the auto was hauled back to the street, not much damaged from the plunge over the cliff.
The crowd stood around for some time longer, looking at the touring car until Fenn had the men haul it to a barn near his house. The boys would have liked to have run it themselves, but, as they knew very little about cars, and as they were not sure of the condition of the machinery of this one, they decided the slower method of propulsion would be best.
In the morning there was a great improvement in the condition of Mr. Hayward and his daughter, Ruth. In fact Ruth could be up, Dr. Fanwood said, though she must not exert herself.
That afternoon after school the three chums wanted Fenn to go for a walk, but he made some excuse and hurried home. He found Miss Ruth, who looked prettier than ever he thought, sitting in the parlor in an easy chair.
“I don’t believe I thanked you and your friends for what you did for my father and myself,” she said, with a smile, as she held out her hand to Fenn.
“Oh, it isn’t necessary – I mean we didn’t do anything – ” and poor Fenn became much confused. “I – er – that is we – saw the auto go over and we hurried out.”
“Oh, it was awful!” exclaimed Ruth, “I thought I was going to be killed! It was terrible!”
“It was a lucky escape,” murmured Fenn, sympathetically, wondering if the girl would make any reference to the cave she had raved about.
But she did not, and, after asking Fenn to bring his three chums, that she might thank them personally, she went back to her room.
“I wish I dared ask her about that mysterious cave,” thought Fenn. “There’s something back of it all, I’m sure. She acts as if she was afraid I’d find it out.”
A few days later Mr. Hayward was able to be up, and after that his recovery was rapid. He explained to Fenn, and the boy’s parents, that he was in the timber business, and had some mining interests. His daughter’s health was not of the best, he added, and, in the hope of improving it, he had taken her on a long auto trip. They intended to go to Maine, and camp in the woods, and were on their way there when the accident happened.
“I’m sure I can’t thank you for all you have done for me,” said Mr. Hayward, looking at Fenn and his parents. “Those other boys, too; my daughter tells me there were three of your chums who helped.”
“Oh, we didn’t do so much,” murmured Fenn. “Anybody would have done the same.”
“Yes, but you did it,” replied Mr. Hayward. “I appreciate it, I can tell you. I wish I could show you how much. Perhaps I can, some day. I’ll tell you what I wish you’d do; come out and see me. It’s not so very far to Bayville, and we can show you some great sights there, I tell you. You could make the trip along the Great Lakes, and they’re well worth seeing. My daughter and I would make you comfortable, I’m sure.”
“It’s very kind of you to give the boys that invitation,” said Mr. Masterson. “I’m afraid it’s too long a trip for them.”
“Oh, nonsense!” exclaimed Mr. Hayward. “They can go by boat all the way. It’s a fine trip.”
“I’m sure you would enjoy it,” said Ruth, smiling at Fenn.
“Then we’ll go!” exclaimed Stumpy, with more energy than the occasion seemed to call for.
“I wish you would,” added Mr. Hayward, and then he and Mr. Masterson began a discussion of business matters.
A little later that evening Fenn, going in the parlor for a book, saw Ruth sitting there in the darkness.
“What’s the matter?” he asked with ready sympathy. “Are you ill? Shall I call my mother?”
“No – no, I’m all right – I’ll be all right in a little while. Please don’t call any one,” and the girl seemed much alarmed. “I – I was just thinking of – ”
“Is there anything worrying you?” asked Fenn boldly, as the memory of what she had said in her delirium came back to him. “Can I do anything to help you? Is it about a cave?”
“Hush!” exclaimed Ruth, in such tones that Fenn was startled. “Don’t speak of that. Oh, I don’t know why I mentioned it. I was not myself! Forget it, please. It might cause a dreadful – Oh, I can’t talk about it!”
She was whispering tensely, and she came close to Fenn. In the next room Mr. Hayward could be heard telling Mr. Masterson something about his large business interests.
“Don’t let my father hear you,” pleaded Ruth.
“But perhaps I can help you,” insisted Fenn.
“No – no one can – at least not now,” she said. “Don’t ask me. I must go now. Good-night,” and she hurried from the room, leaving a much-puzzled lad behind. He forgot all about the book he wanted, so wrought up was he over what Ruth had said. He decided it would not be proper to question her any further, though he wanted very much to aid her if he could.
The next morning Mr. Hayward announced that he felt well enough to proceed. The auto had been repaired, and the gentleman and his daughter, bidding their hosts farewell, started off. They had decided to return home, as Ruth was so upset over the accident that a camping trip was out of the question.
“Now don’t forget, I expect you boys out to visit me,” called Mr. Hayward, as the four chums waved their hands to father and daughter when the auto puffed off. “Come early and stay late!”
“Poor girl,” murmured Mrs. Masterson, as she went back into the house. “She seems worried over something, but I don’t see what it can be, for her father is very wealthy, according to his talk, and she has everything she wants. Maybe she misses her mother. She told me she had been dead only a few years.”
But Fenn knew it was something about the mysterious cave that was worrying Ruth, and he wished, more than ever, that he could do something to aid her.
It was a week after this when, school having closed for the summer term, the four chums were gathered at Fenn’s house. Frank, Ned and Bart had arrived at the same time, to find Stumpy absorbed in the pages of a big geography.
“Going to take a post-graduate course?” asked Bart.
“No, he’s looking for Bayville, to see if he can’t catch a glimpse of Ruth,” spoke Ned.
“I was planning a vacation trip,” replied Fenn, with dignity.
“A vacation trip? Where?”
“On the Great Lakes,” answered Fenn. “I think it would be just the thing. I’ve been looking it up. We could go down the Still River to Lake Erie, and then to Lake Huron. From there we could visit the Straits of Mackinaw, and then, after a trip on Lake Michigan, go through the Sault St. Mary to Lake Superior. Then – ”
“Yes, and then we could sail to Bayville and you could visit Ruth while we sat on the bank and caught fish!” interrupted Frank. “Oh, Stumpy, it’s easy to guess what you are thinking about!”
CAPTAIN WIGGS’S PROPOSAL
Fenn had to stand considerable “jollying” on the part of his chums, but, though he blushed and was a little annoyed, he took it in good part.
“You can talk about Ruth all you like,” he said, “but, just the same, if you have any plans to beat a cruise on the Great Lakes, why – trot ’em out, that’s all. We’ve got to go somewhere this vacation, and I don’t see any better place, though I’ve looked through the whole geography.”
“And the only place you could get to was Bayville,” interrupted Ned. “It’s all right, Stumpy. I agree with you, that it would be a fine trip.”
“How could we make it?” asked Frank.
“Walk, of course,” replied Bart, with a grin. “It’s water all the way.”
“Funny!” answered Frank, poking his sarcastic chum in the ribs. “I mean where could we get a boat?”
“Hire one, I s’pose,” put in Fenn, who had been busy marking an imaginary cruise in lead pencil on the map of the Great Lakes.
“That would be pretty expensive,” said Bart. “We’re not millionaires, though we each have a little money salted away in the bank.”
The boys discussed the proposed cruise for some time longer, but there seemed no way of going on it. To hire a steamer or motorboat for such a long trip was practically out of the question for them, and, with much regret they all admitted it could not be considered.
“Come over to-morrow night,” invited Fenn, when his chums left that evening. “Maybe we can think of something by then.”
The next afternoon Fenn, who had gone to the store for his mother, stopped, on his way back, at the public dock of the Still River, where several vessels were loading with freight for Lake Erie ports. There was much hurrying about and seeming confusion; wagons and trucks backing up and going ahead, and scores, of men wheeling boxes and barrels on board lighters and steamers.
“Port! Port your helm!” suddenly called a voice, almost in Fenn’s ear, and he jumped to one side, to allow a short, stout man, with his arms full of bundles, to pass him. “That’s it!” the man went on. “Nearly run you down, didn’t I? Thought you were a water-logged craft in my course. Why, hello! If it isn’t Fenn Masterson!”
“Captain Wiggs!” exclaimed Fenn, recognizing the commander of the Modoc.
“Looking for a berth?” went on the captain, as he placed his bundles down on the head of a barrel. “I can sign you as cleaner of the after boiler tubes, if you like,” and he looked so grave that Fenn did not know whether he was joking or not. It was a habit the captain had, of making the most absurd remarks in a serious way, so that even his friends, at times, did not quite know how to take him. “Yes,” he went on, “I need a small boy to crawl through the after boiler tubes twice a day to keep ’em clean. Would you like the job?”
“I – I don’t believe so,” replied Fenn, with a smile, for now he knew Captain Wiggs was joking.
“All right then,” said the commander, with an assumed sigh. “I’ll have to do it myself, and I’m getting pretty old and fat for such work. The tubes are smaller than they used to be. But I dare say I can manage it. Where you going?” he asked Fenn suddenly, with a change of manner.
“No place in particular. Home, pretty soon. Why?”
“I was going to ask you to come aboard and have a glass of lemonade,” invited the captain. “It’s a hot day and lemonade is the best drink I know of.”
“Oh, I’ll come,” decided Fenn, for Captain Wiggs’s lemonade had quite a reputation. Besides there were always queer little chocolate cakes in the captain’s cabin lockers, for he was very fond of sweet things, as Fenn knew from experience.
“Haven’t saved any more sinking automobiles, lately, have you?” asked the commander, when Fenn was seated in the cabin, sipping a glass of the delicious beverage.
“No. Mr. Hayward has gone back to Bayville.”
“Bayville? Is that where he lives?” asked Captain Wiggs.
“That’s it,” replied Fenn. “Why?”
“That’s odd,” mused the captain. “I’m going right near there, this cruise. You see I’ve got a mixed cargo this trip,” he explained. “I’ve got to deliver some things at several lake ports, but the bulk of the stuff goes to Duluth. Now if you would only ship with me, as cleaner of the after boiler tubes, why you could go along.”ñêà÷àòü êíèãó áåñïëàòíî
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