Allen Chapman.

Fenn Masterson's Discovery: or, The Darewell Chums on a Cruise





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 dont 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, Im just in time, I see, remarked Dr. Kyte, coming into the room at that moment. Ill attend to her now, Fenn. She has only fainted.

CHAPTER III
SAVING THE AUTO

Fenns 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.

Thats nothing, declared Ned. She was talking in her sleep.

No, it was delirium.

Well, thats the same thing, retorted Ned. It doesnt 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. Thats all.

I dont 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. Theres something in all this, and dont you forget it. Some day Ill find out what it is.

Youre 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 wouldnt care.

No, of course not. Poor things! Im so sorry! Are they badly hurt?

Im 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 mans 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 Fenns 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 Fenns idea that the girls 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.

Youll see, he declared.

The doctors left presently, and Alice Keene, Barts 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. Lets see if we cant save the auto.

Im afraid if we disturb it the least bit it will go over the cliff, said Ned. Its hanging on by its teeth, so to speak.

Well try, anyhow, decided Bart. Id like to help haul it back. Maybe wed get a ride in it, after Mr. Hayward gets well.

Thats all you care about it, taunted Frank with a laugh.

No, but if we do save it, I guess you wouldnt refuse a ride in it, retorted Bart. It isnt often you get the chance.

Thats 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.

Its 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? Youd better move away from here.

Were going to rescue Mr. Haywards auto for him, declared Fenn with more assurance than he felt. He wants it hauled back, he added, which was true enough.

Waal, ef he wants it, thats 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 lads house.

I guess weve 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 well 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 Ill 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 therell 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.

Shes going over the cliff! cried Bart. Hold her, boys! Hold her!

CHAPTER IV
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! Thats the only way to hold her back! Take a half hitch around that stump, and youll have her! Shes 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 youve got her! exclaimed the squatty man. Shell hold until you can get a couple of teams to haul her back. You cant do it alone. Too much steam needed!

Thats where youre right, Captain Wiggs! remarked Constable Darby. I was jest a goin t tell th boys that myself, but its better t have th advice come from a regular sea-farin person I spose.

Im 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 theyre 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.

Ill 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 dont 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 isnt necessary I mean we didnt 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. Theres something back of it all, Im sure. She acts as if she was afraid Id 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 boys parents, that he was in the timber business, and had some mining interests. His daughters 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.

Im sure I cant 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 didnt 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. Ill tell you what I wish youd do; come out and see me. Its 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 theyre well worth seeing. My daughter and I would make you comfortable, Im sure.

Its very kind of you to give the boys that invitation, said Mr. Masterson. Im afraid its too long a trip for them.

Oh, nonsense! exclaimed Mr. Hayward. They can go by boat all the way. Its a fine trip.

Im sure you would enjoy it, said Ruth, smiling at Fenn.

Then well 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.

Whats the matter? he asked with ready sympathy. Are you ill? Shall I call my mother?

No no, Im all right Ill be all right in a little while. Please dont 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. Dont speak of that. Oh, I dont know why I mentioned it. I was not myself! Forget it, please. It might cause a dreadful Oh, I cant 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.

Dont 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. Dont 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 dont 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 dont 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 Fenns 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, hes looking for Bayville, to see if he cant 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. Ive 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, its easy to guess what you are thinking about!

CHAPTER V
CAPTAIN WIGGSS 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, thats all. Weve got to go somewhere this vacation, and I dont see any better place, though Ive looked through the whole geography.

And the only place you could get to was Bayville, interrupted Ned. Its 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. Its 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 spose, 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. Were 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 Fenns ear, and he jumped to one side, to allow a short, stout man, with his arms full of bundles, to pass him. Thats it! the man went on. Nearly run you down, didnt I? Thought you were a water-logged craft in my course. Why, hello! If it isnt 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 dont 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. Ill have to do it myself, and Im 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. Its a hot day and lemonade is the best drink I know of.

Oh, Ill come, decided Fenn, for Captain Wiggss lemonade had quite a reputation. Besides there were always queer little chocolate cakes in the captains cabin lockers, for he was very fond of sweet things, as Fenn knew from experience.

Havent 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.

Thats it, replied Fenn. Why?

Thats odd, mused the captain. Im going right near there, this cruise. You see Ive got a mixed cargo this trip, he explained. Ive 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.





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