Allen Chapman.

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





CHAPTER XI
ON LAKE HURON

Somebodys hurt! cried Fenn.

Shouldnt wonder, replied Captain Wiggs, coolly. There generally is when an explosion occurs in a boiler room.

Arent we going to help them? inquired Frank.

Ill give them any aid they need, said the commander. Well see how much the damage amounts to. Ill steam back toward em.

He gave the necessary orders, and soon the Modoc was slowly approaching the disabled craft. The clouds of steam had somewhat dispersed, but that something was wrong was evident from the manner in which men were hurrying about the deck of the recent pursuing yacht.

I guess it wasnt as bad as I thought, remarked Mr. Wiggs. They seem to have stopped the leak in the pipe. I hope none of the men are badly scalded. Ill offer em help, and they can take it or leave it. Theyve made enough trouble for me as it is.

But the strange craft evidently did not desire any aid, nor did the commanders of it seem to court any investigation of what had happened. As the Modoc approached the other boats whistle sounded, and then it slowly started off, like a lame dog running away from a fight with a superior antagonist.

Had enough, eh? remarked the captain. I thought so. Well, Im not sorry that I dont have to get to close quarters with them. It looks as if it was coming on to blow, and its no joke to have to tow a disabled boat on Lake Erie in a storm.

Seeing that his proffered offer of help was declined Captain Wiggs changed the course back to his original one. As the other craft turned about, and steamed slowly away, Fenn watched through the glass, and the last thing he could see was the man with the ugly face, standing at the stern, gazing at the Modoc through a telescope.

Hell know me next time, anyhow, thought Fenn, as he joined his chums, who were talking of the strange finish of the chase.

Discuss the recent happenings as they did, from all sides, the boys could not get at the bottom of them. No more could Captain Wiggs. But he soon found he had other things to think about than the chase which had ended so abruptly, for the weather changed suddenly, and there were indications of a heavy storm.

Id like to make the Detroit River before the blow comes on hard, he remarked. Ive got a pretty heavy load aboard, and the Modoc, while shes a stanch craft, doesnt behave as well in a sea as she might. Ive lost considerable time through that elevator fire, and stopping on account of those men chasing us, so I must make it up.

The steamer was sent ahead at full speed, but the storm developed faster than the captain had calculated so that, when still several miles from a good harbor, the wind suddenly swooped out of the west and soon there was a heavy sea running.

Why, its almost like the ocean, remarked Ned as, standing well forward, near the port rail, he looked across the lake and saw the big waves.

Youll think so, if this keeps up, responded Captain Wiggs.

Lake Erie can kick up as pretty a storm as I ever want to see, and Ive been through some hard ones, I can tell you. This is nothing to what it will be if the wind increases.

And that the wind intended increasing was evident from the way it howled over the big expanse of water, which was dotted with white-caps. Through the waves the Modoc labored, her powerful engines and screw sending her ahead gallantly, though she rolled and pitched in a way to make the boys think they were on an ocean liner instead of a lake steamer.

It grew quite dark, partly because of the clouds that gathered, and because evening was approaching. Then the rain, which had held off for a while, came down with a suddenness that was almost like a cloud burst. Fortunately the boys, on the advice of the captain, had donned oil-skins, and they were protected, though sometimes it seemed as if the wind would drive the rain drops right through their garments.

This is a terrible storm! exclaimed Ned, as he held on to the rail and tried to peer ahead through the mist and blackness.

Wait! fairly shouted the captain. You havent seen any more than the beginning.

Thats enough for me! cried Fenn, as he made his way to the companionway and went below. The other boys followed, as the commander said it was hardly safe on deck. The Modoc was now laboring amid the big waves. The lookout, scanning the waste of waters for a sight of land, could see nothing but blackness ahead.

It did not seem quite so bad to the boys, after they were in the cabin, though they had to sit braced in chairs to avoid tumbling out when the vessel pitched and tossed, and it was quite a task to move about, for there was danger of bringing up against some piece of furniture, or the cabin partitions.

An ocean voyage isnt in it with this, declared Ned. Its great!

It may be, but it makes me feel sick, declared Fenn. Im going to lie down in my bunk.

This he did, saying he felt better when stretched out. The other boys followed his example, as the pitching was a little too much for them. They soon grew accustomed to it, however, and presently they noticed that the motion seemed less violent.

We must have come to anchor, said Bart.

More likely were inside some harbor, declared Ned.

They went up on deck and found that, though it was still raining hard, the wind had died down a little, which made the boat ride easier.

Where are we? called Fenn, to Captain Wiggs, who was pacing the deck.

Just entering the Detroit River, was the reply. Well tie up at Detroit for the night. How are you, boys?

Better now, replied Ned.

As soon as the Modoc was well within the river the effects of the blow were no longer noticeable. In a short time the steamer was tied up at a dock and the boys turned in for the night.

Captain Wiggs had some business to transact in Detroit, and spent nearly all of the next day there, giving the boys a chance to go ashore and see some of the sights. They resumed their trip that evening, through Lake St. Clair, and proceeding without stop to Lake Huron.

Emerging well out upon this vast body of inland water, the boys, one bright morning, got a fine view of it.

Isnt it isnt it big! exclaimed Fenn. Its its simply

Help him out, Ned, suggested Bart. You ought to have some big adjectives on hand, left over from that last French history lesson. This is too much for Stumpy.

It certainly is a lot of water, commented Frank. I thought Lake Erie was big, but this seems to beat it.

The boys stood at the rail, absorbed in the contemplation of the beautiful scene before them. Captain Wiggs too, though he had viewed the lake many times, could not but admire the beauty of it as it sparkled in the morning sun.

One of the men from the engine room suddenly appeared on deck, and, standing behind the commander, who was explaining something to the boys, waited until the captain had finished.

Did you wish to see me? asked Mr. Wiggs, turning to the man.

Yes, sir. Mr. McDougall told me to ask you to step below, sir.

Whats the trouble? for the man seemed a little uneasy.

I dont know exactly, sir, but I think its a leak.

A leak?

Yes, sir. Mr. McDougall thinks some of the forward plates have started.

It must have been the storm, commented Captain Wiggs, as he hastened below. Yet its a good while taking effect. I hope it isnt serious.

CHAPTER XII
NED GETS A FISH

Hark! exclaimed Bart. Whats that sound?

The pumps! replied Fenn. Theyve started em. It must be a bad leak. Wed better get life preservers.

Dont get excited, counseled Frank coolly. Wait until you see how bad it is. These steamers are all built with water-tight compartments, and it would take quite a hole to make one of them sink. The starting of a few plates wouldnt do it.

His words calmed his chums, and, when Captain Wiggs came on deck, a few minutes later, he announced that the leak was not a serious one, though it would be necessary to go ashore to make repairs.

It was found, on docking the Modoc that the repairs would take about a week, and this period the boys spent in making excursions on shore, in the vicinity of the town. They had a good time, and the delay did not seem very long because of the many interesting sights.

They visited a large saw mill where the logs, that had been brought down the lake in big rafts, were cut up into lumber, and the foreman of the plant showed them the various processes through which the tree trunks went before they were turned out in the shape of boards, planks or timbers.

Well, well start in the morning, boys, announced Captain Wiggs one night. The Modoc is in good shape again, and well have to make good time from now on, because of our delays.

Early the next morning the vessel was under way again. Out on Lake Huron it steamed, plowing through the blue waters, under a sunny sky, while a gentle breeze stirred up little waves.

Why dont you boys do some fishing? asked Captain Wiggs, as he noticed the four chums sitting near the after rail, talking among themselves.

We didnt know we could catch anything here, replied Ned.

I dont either, was the captains answer, but you cant tell until you try. There is plenty of tackle aboard, and you might land something nice. There are fish in the lake plenty of em. The thing to do is to catch em.

The boys needed no other invitation, and soon they had lines trailing over the stern of the ship, far enough away from the screw to avoid getting tangled in the blades. Mr. Ackerman, the sick passenger, who has improved considerably, also took a line, and joined the boys.

Lets see who gets the biggest fish, proposed Ned.

Lets see who gets the first one, supplemented Bart. Thats the best test.

It did not look as if luck was going to be very good, for the lines had been over half an hour, and no one had had so much as a nibble.

This is getting tiresome, spoke Ned, as he assumed a more comfortable position in his chair. Then he tied his line to his wrist, propped his feet up on the rail, and lounged back.

Well, if that isnt a lazy way of fishing! exclaimed Frank. Why dont you sit up?

I will when I get a bite, replied Ned.

They resumed their waiting, with that patience which is, or ought to be, part of every anglers outfit. Suddenly Frank nudged Bart and pointed to Ned. The latter had fallen asleep in his chair.

Lets play a joke on him, proposed Fenn in a whisper. Ill tie him fast in his chair.

No, lets pull up his line and fasten an old shoe, or something like that to it, proposed Frank. Hell think he has a big bite.

They started to put this plan into operation, when, as they were about to pull up Neds line, they saw it suddenly straighten out.

Hes got a bite! exclaimed Fenn.

Yes, and a whopper, too, added Frank.

Look at it! cried Bart, as some big fish, at the stern of the boat, leaped out of the water and fell back with a splash.

Then the line about Neds wrist tightened. He felt the pull and awakened.

Ive got him! he cried. Ive got the biggest one!

The next moment he went sprawling from his chair, while his arm was straightened out in front of him, for the strong line, to which a big fish was attached, was fairly pulling him along.

Look out! Hell go overboard! cried Mr. Ackerman.

Bart made one leap, and grabbed Ned around the waist. This saved the luckless youth from being pulled over the rail, but it did not release him from his predicament.

Oh! Ouch! cried Ned. Its pulling my arm off!

Indeed this seemed likely to happen, for the line was very strong, and the lad had tied it securely about his wrist. It could not slip over his hand, and the fish on the other end was tugging away for dear life. Doubtless it would have been glad enough to escape, but it was fairly caught, for as they afterward found, it had swallowed Neds bait, hook and all.

Let go! yelled Ned to Bart, who was clinging to his waist.

If I do youll go overboard! replied Bart. He felt his chum slipping from his grasp. Give me a hand here! Bart called to Fenn and Frank.

They jumped to his aid, while Mr. Ackerman, in an excess of nervous fright, ran up and down the deck shouting:

Captain! Captain Wiggs! Stop the ship! A shark has got hold of one of the boys!

Whats that? Whats the trouble? asked the commander, hurrying up from the cabin.

A shark has got Ned! repeated the invalid.

Shark? In Lake Huron? replied the commander. Youre crazy!

Guess it must be a whale, by the way it pulls, said Bart.

Its one of the big lake fish! exclaimed the captain. Theyre as strong as a pony. Wait, Ill cut the line!

No, dont! begged Ned, who, now that his three chums had hold of him, was in no danger of going overboard, though the thin, but tough cord, was cutting deep into his wrist, where he had foolishly tied it.

Here, lend a hand! called Captain Wiggs to a sailor who was passing. The man grabbed the line with both hands and soon was able, with the help which Frank and Fenn gave him, to haul in the fish. It seemed as if they really had a shark on the end of the line, but, when the finny specimen was gotten on deck, it was seen that it was not as large as the boys had imagined.

Who would have thought it was so strong? asked Ned, rubbing his chafed wrist.

The speed of the boat had something to do with it, said the captain. You were pulling on the fish broadside I guess, but it is a very strong species even at that. Theyre not often caught on a hand line.

Are they good to eat? asked Ned, wishing to derive some benefit from his experience.

Some folks like em, but theyre a little too strong for me, answered the captain. However, I think the crew will be glad to get it? and he looked questioningly at the sailor who had helped land the prize.

Yes, sir, replied the man, touching his cap. He took the fish to the galley, where the cook prepared it for the mens dinner. The boys tasted it, but did not care for the flavor.

Arent you going to fish any more? asked the captain, as he saw Ned coiling up his line, after the fish had been taken away.

Thats enough for one day, was the boys reply. The other fellows can, if they like. My wrist is too sore.

Lucky you didnt tie the line to your toe, said Frank.

Why?

Because youd probably be walking lame now, if you had. As it is you cant sign any checks for a while, I spose.

Oh, you and your checks! exclaimed Ned, in no mood to have fun poked at him.

Moral! Dont go to sleep while youre fishing, said Bart.

Well, I did better than you fellows did. You didnt get anything, retorted the fisherman.

CHAPTER XIII
CAUGHT IN THE LOCK

Ned, at the suggestion of the captain, put some salve on his wrist, for the cord had cut through the flesh. Then he had Bart bandage it up. This done the boys resumed their seats near the after rail, and talked about Neds exciting catch.

I hope you dont try such a thing again, remarked Mr. Ackerman, as he came back from his cabin. Its a little too much for my nerves. He sank down in a deck chair, and the boys noticed that he was quite pale. He seemed unable to get his breath.

Would you mind would one of you mind, reaching in my pocket and getting a bottle of smelling salts that I carry, he asked. I think if I took a sniff Id feel better.

I will, volunteered Fenn, for Mr. Ackermans hands hung limply by his side, and he seemed incapable of helping himself.

Is this it? asked Fenn, as he reached in the upper right hand pocket of the invalids vest and pulled out a small bottle.

No no, was the answer, half whispered. That is my headache cure. I think it must be in the lower pocket.

Fenn replaced the headache cure and explored the lower right-hand vest pocket.

Is this it? he inquired, drawing up a small box.

No, no my dear young friend those are my liver pills. Try again. I think it must be on the other side.

He still seemed too weak to raise his hands. Ned was about to call Captain Wiggs, but Fenn made another try.

I have it! he exclaimed, pulling out a shining metal tube.

No no, said the invalid faintly, opening his eyes and looking at what Fenn held up. Thats my asthma cure. Try the next pocket, please.

Say, hell kick the bucket if Fenn doesnt find that medicine pretty soon, whispered Frank. Guess Ill help him.

Fenn began a search of the lower left-hand vest pocket. He brought up a bottle, containing a dark liquid. Wishing to make sure he had the right stuff, he smelled of it, before asking Mr. Ackerman to open his eyes and look at it.

Is that it? whispered Ned.

Smells bad enough to be it, was Fenns answer.

No, no. You havent got it yet, spoke the invalid, in peevish tones. That is my heart remedy. I must kindly ask you to try again. I remember now, its in my right-hand coat pocket.

Fenn replaced the heart cure and made one more attempt. This time he brought up a short, squatty, round bottle.

Thats it! exclaimed the invalid joyfully, Now, please hold it to my nose. Not too close.

However, he spoke too late, for Fenn had placed the open phial right under Mr. Ackermans nose. The invalid gave one sniff, and then jumped from the chair as if he was shot.

Wow! Ouch! Help! he cried. Thats strong ammonia! I use it for hay fever. Thats the wrong medicine! Oh! The back of my neck is coming off!

He held his handkerchief to his face, the tears coming from his eyes because of the strong stuff.

I remember now! he managed to gasp. I left my smelling salts in my stateroom. But I can get them now. Im better much better!

I believe he is, remarked Frank, when Mr. Ackerman had gone below. Say, isnt he the limit, with his different kind of medicines?

You shouldnt make fun of him, spoke Bart.

Whew! suddenly exclaimed the captains voice. I guess my invalid passenger must have been around here, and he breathed in the ammonia-laden air.

He seems to be quite sick, said Fenn.

Sick? repeated the commander. Say, I wouldnt want him to hear me, but hes no more sick than I am. Hes only got a touch of hypochondriacism.

Will will he die soon of it? asked Fenn.

Die? I wish I had his chance of living, went on the captain. I guess you dont quite understand. Maybe that word was too much for you. A person who has hypochondriacism has a little stomach trouble, and the rest is only imaginary. Thats what Mr. Ackerman has. Every once in a while he takes a trip with me, for the sake of his health, he says, but I think its to get away from working. Say, did he ask you to reach in his pocket for some medicines for him?

Yes, replied Fenn, and I had quite a time finding it.

I should think you would. Hes a regular walking drug store. If hed throw all his powders, pills and liquids away, and live out of doors, hed be all right in a month. Im not making fun of him, but I wish somebody would, some day. Maybe it would cure him.

He seemed pretty sick, ventured Bart.

But he was lively enough when he smelled that ammonia I gave him by mistake, said Fenn.

Ammonia? questioned the commander, and the boys then told him what had happened. Ha! Ho! laughed Captain Wiggs. That is the best joke yet! Ammonia! Oh my! Ill bet he was lively! Why, I can smell it yet!

The little experience seemed to do Mr. Ackerman good, and it was several days before he complained again. Then he was seemingly as badly off as ever, taking some sort of medicine almost every hour. But the boys understood him now, and did not waste so much sympathy on him.

The Modoc steamed on, covering many miles over Lake Huron until, towards evening one afternoon, Captain Wiggs announced that morning would find them at the entrance of St. Marys river, the connecting link between Lakes Huron and Superior.

Can you boys stand a little jarring? he asked, as they were in the main cabin, after supper.

Jarring? Why? inquired Frank.

Because weve got to jump the ship over St. Marys falls, and we dont always make it the first time, was the answer, given with much gravity. Often we miss and fall back, and it jars the ship up quite a bit.

Oh, are we going through the Soo canal? asked Fenn eagerly, for he had been reading up about the Great Lakes, just before coming on the trip.

Thats the only way of getting around the falls, replied the captain. I see you dont put much faith in my jumping story.

We have to go through a lock, dont we? Bart wanted to know.

Yes, said Captain Wiggs, spreading a map out on the table, we go through the canal, and lock, being raised up several feet, to the level of Lake Superior. If all goes well well be through the lock by noon to-morrow.

Why do they call it the Soo canal? asked Ned.

Because it is named after the falls, was the commanders reply. The falls are called Sault Saint Marie, and that word which is spelled S-a-u-l-t is pronounced as if it were spelled S-o-o. It is a French word, and means a leap, or water-fall. So you see when you say Sault (Soo) Saint Marie you are really saying St. Marys Waterfall. The canal, and the city located along it, both take the name of the falls.





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