Roy Rockwood.

The Speedwell Boys and Their Ice Racer: or, Lost in the Great Blizzard





I know hes not long in Riverdale.

Yes. But where he comes from?

Up the Hudson somewhere.

Crickey! thats just it, cried Billy, with rising excitement. Up where he has lived the winters are long and hard. The rivers and lakes freeze over usually in November, and stay frozen until February or March. And I bet that fellow knows all about iceboating.

Dont you tell him so, advised Dan, with a grin. Hes got a swelled head as it is I can see that.

Never mind, Spink. That isnt exactly what I mean not what he knows. But he and his busted iceboat have put something into my head, old man.

Out with it, boy.

Its just this: Lets go in for an iceboat ourselves. Lets get the fellows of the Outing Club interested and maybe some of the girls, too Mildred, and Lettie, and some of the others. And well have races, and all that.

If the ice gets thick enough and stays put, suggested Dan, slowly.

You said yourself last night, Billy declared, quickly, that the almanac man promised a real winter this time.

And were getting a piece of it right now. Jinks! maybe youve got a big idea, Billy.

Sure I have. And if that chump, Barry Spink, can build a boat as good as that White Albatross, whats the matter with us building a better?

Now youre talking, agreed his brother, with growing enthusiasm. Hustle now, Billy! there goes the first bell. Weve only just time to get the truck under the shed and hustle into school. Got my books with yours? Come on, then, and the Speedwells hurried off to the academy.

CHAPTER III
MORE THAN ONE MYSTERY

The two reckless youths who had tried out the iceboat and lost her that morning did not appear at the academy during the forenoon session. Indeed, Barrington Spink was not an attendant at the Riverdale school.

He was a recent comer to the town and the boys knew very little about him, save in a general way. He was the son of a widowed lady who seemed to have a superabundance of cash and who was very proud and haughty.

Mrs. Spink had bought a large house on the outskirts of Riverdale, had furnished it gaudily, hired a host of servants, repainted and refurbished everything about the place, including the iron dog on the lawn, and had set up a carriage and pair as well as an automobile.

The Speedwells had often seen Barrington Spink around town before the occasion when Billy had hauled him out of the icy river, but had never spoken to him. Monroe Stevens belonged to one of the wealthiest families in Riverdale and naturally Spink had gravitated toward Money, as the other boys called Monroe.

After school was out and Dan and Billy were walking across the square towards Appleyards to get the truck (they had not gone home at noon) they came face to face with the newcomer to Riverdale.

He was with Wiley Moyle and Fisher Greene, both of the so-called aristocracy of Riverdale, but good fellows both of them and Billys particular friends.

Say, Billy, remarked Fisher, grinning, Barry here has just been telling us how you pulled him out of the river this morning.

The chill hasnt got out of him yet, you see, he added, with a meaning glance at young Spink, who had nodded very distantly in return for the Speedwells hearty greeting.

He was just asking us about you, drawled Wiley Moyle, and we told him that Riverdale would have to go without lacteal fluid in its coffee if it wasnt for you and Dan.

And our cows, replied Billy, seriously. They have something to do with the milk supply, I assure you.

And the barn pump I know, chuckled Wiley, grinning saucily.

Oh I say, stammered Spink, eyeing Billy rather askance. Dan and some of the older boys were discussing an important topic some distance away. I didnt suppose you fellows really made a chum of this er Speedwell boy.

Huh? grunted Wiley. Wileys folks were rich enough, but his father made him earn most of his own spending money, and Wiley helped around Jim Blizzards newspaper office on Saturdays and after school. I knew you were a chump, Barry; but this

Oh, Im obliged enough to him, Im sure, said Spink, airily. He certainly helped me out of the river.

He had been fumbling in his pocket while he spoke and now brought out a little flat packet of folded bills. Selecting one, he approached Billy Speedwell, who, having first flushed at the fellows impudent tone, was now grinning as broadly as Wiley and Fisher.

Relly, said young Spink, you did that very bravely, Speedwell. Here is a little er something to show my appreciation.

Billy had accepted the dollar bill and at once fished up a handful of silver from the depths of his trousers pocket.

Hold on! hold on, Mr. Spink! he exclaimed. If you mean to pay me with this for saving your life, there is no need of overpaying me. Here! theres ninety-five cents change count it. And Im not sure that Im not charging you too much as it is.

Fisher and Wiley Moyle burst into a roar of laughter, and Barrington Spink turned several different colors, as he realized that Billy had made him look like a goose.

Why why That fellows only a milkman, sputtered Spink, as Billy drifted over to the bigger crowd of boys to hear what was afoot.

You give me a pain in my solar plexus you gump! snapped Fisher Greene. Why, Billy and Dan have got twenty thousand dollars or more in their own right. Didnt you ever hear of the treasure of Rocky Cove? Well, those are the boys who got the emeralds they, and the old Admiral and Mr. Asa Craig. You want to take a tumble to yourself, Barry Spink! and he moved away from the new boy.

Barrington Spinks eyes fairly bulged. He hes kiddin me; isnt he? he demanded of the grinning Wiley.

Not sos youd notice it, returned Moyle.

Not twenty thousand dollars?

Thereabout.

And they run a milk route?

Thats Mr. Speedwells business. And fellows around Riverdale have to work the same as their dads did when they were boys. There are not many drones in this town, let me tell you, concluded Wiley.

He started over to the other boys, too, and left Spink alone. The new boy was in bad, and he began to realize that fact. Perhaps he couldnt help being born a snob; having his standards set by a foolish and worldly mother had made Barrington Spink an insufferable sort of fellow.

The peasantry of this country doesnt know its place, Mrs. Spink often observed. That is why I so much prefer living in Yurrup. That is the way she pronounced it. If the truth were known (but it wasnt Mrs. Spink saw to that) the ladys father was once a laborer on a railroad; but the mantle of Mr. Spinks family greatness had fallen upon her.

If it wasnt for Mr. Spinks peculiar will, she often sighed, I should not venture to contaminate Barrington with the very common people one is forced to meet in this country. But Mr. Spink had peculiar ideas. He left Barringtons guardians no choice. My poor boy must be educated in American schools, doncher know!

And Barry was getting a fine education! He had shifted from place to place and from school to school, learning about as little as the law allowed, and doing about as he pleased. Now he was so far behind other boys of his age in his studies that he was ashamed to enter the Riverdale Academy until the tutor his mother had engaged whipped Barrys jaded mind into some sort of alignment with those of the boys who would be his schoolmates.

The boys surrounding Dan Speedwell were enthusiastic and all tried to talk at once. A flock of crows on the edge of a cornfield could have been no more noisy.

Greatest little old idea ever was sprung! shouted one.

Takes the Speedwells to hatch up this new thought stuff, whooped Jim Stetson. What dye say, boys? Tell it!

The yell from the crowd made everybody in the snowy square turn to look; but when they saw the crowd of boys from the academy the spectators merely smiled. Boyish enthusiasm in Riverdale frequently spilled over, and nobody but Josiah Somes, the constable, minded it and he considered it better to give the matter none of his official attention.

Meeting to-night, fellows, in the Boat Club house dont forget! shouted one of the bigger boys. Well give this iceboat scheme the once over.

Its a great idea, declared Wiley Moyle, enthusiastically. And they tell me the river above Long Bridge is already solid as a brick pavement.

It isnt so solid below the bridge or it wasnt this morning, chuckled Billy Speedwell. Mr. Spink can tell us all about that.

But Barrington Spink was hurrying rapidly away.

Why, if the Speedwells have all the money Wiley says they have, theyre worth cultivating, he muttered to himself which is one of the mysteries that bothered Dan and Billy during the next few days. They wondered much why Spinks manner should so change toward them. The boy hung about them and tried to make friends with the milkmen in every possible way.

The other and more important mystery met Dan and Billy when they arrived home that very afternoon. The strange boy that Billy had knocked down the evening before, had disappeared.

When we got up this morning, after you boys had gone, explained their father, that fellow had skedaddled. What do you think of that? And without a word!

Then Money Stevens may have seen him over by Island Number One! cried Billy.

It looks so, admitted Dan. I didnt think there could be two chaps who couldnt talk, in the neighborhood.

Thats not all, boys, cried Carrie Speedwell. Just see what little Dolph picked up.

She presented a crumpled slip of paper for Dan and Billy to read.

Dolph found it right there beside the bed that strange boy slept on. He must have dropped it. See how it reads, Dan?

Dan read the line scrawled on the paper, aloud:

Buried on the island. Dummy will show you the spot.

There was no signature, nor address just the brief line. What it could refer to what thing was buried, and on what island, was hard to understand. Only, it was quite certain that the Dummy referred to was the youthful stranger who could not talk English understandably.

I am awful sorry he went away without his breakfast, sighed Mrs. Speedwell. And he didnt look half fed, at best. It is too bad.

Hell have a fine time living over on Island Number One at this season, whispered Billy to Dan.

Dont let mother hear you, replied the older boy, quickly. Shed only worry.

Better let Dummy do the worrying, chuckled Billy.

Well! its mighty odd, said Dan, shaking his head. And I really would like to know whats buried on the island.

So would I, said Billy. Treasure eh?

Youve got treasure on the brain, boy, grinned the older youth. Youre getting mercenary. Havent you got wealth enough? Were capitalists.

Yes I know, said Billy, nodding. But I wonder if weve got money enough to get us the fastest iceboat thats going to be raced on the Colasha this winter?

Ah! now youve said it, agreed Dan. But it isnt going to be money that will get us that boat. Weve got to learn something about iceboat building as well as iceboat sailing.

Huh! that blamed little wisp, Barry Spink, grunted Billy.

What about him now? asked Dan, laughing.

As inconsequential as he is, hes got the whole town bug on iceboating. Hell be all swelled up like a toad.

We should worry! returned Dan, with a shrug of his broad shoulders.

CHAPTER IV
THE FLY-UP-THE-CREEK

Mildred Kent, the doctors daughter, and her closest friend, Lettie Parker, halted the Speedwells at the close of school the next day. Mildred was a very pretty girl and Dan thought she was just about right. As for the sharp-tongued Lettie, she and Billy appeared to be always quarreling in a good-natured way.

We want to know whats in the wind, boys? demanded Mildred, her pretty face framed by a tall sealskin collar and her hands in a big shawl muff.

Theres snow in this wind, replied Billy, chuckling, for a few sharp flakes were being driven past the quartette as they stood upon the corner.

Arent you smart, Billy Speedwell! scoffed the red-haired Lettie. Doesnt it pain you?

You bet it does! agreed Billy, promptly. But they tell me that you suffer a deal yourself, Miss Parker, from the same complaint.

Now, children! children! admonished Mildred. Cant you be together at all without scrapping?

And what about the wind, Mildred? asked Dan.

You boys were all down to the Boat Club last night, I hear. What is doing?

Aw, dont tell em, Dan! urged Billy, as though he really meant it. Theyll want to play the part of the Buttinsky Sistersyou know they will!

I like that! gasped Lettie, clenching her little gloved fist. Oh! I wish sometimes I was a boy, Billy Speedwell!

Gee, Lettie! Isnt it lucky youre not? he gasped. Thered be no living in the same town with you. I like you a whole lot better as you are

Dan and Mildred laughed, but Lettie was very red in the face still, and not at all pacified, as she declared:

I believe Id die content if I could just trounce you once as you should be trounced!

Help! help! Ath-thith-tance, pleath! begged Billy, keeping just out of the red-haired girls reach. If you ever undertook to thrash me, Lettie, I know Id just be scared to death.

Come now, urged Mildred. You are both delaying the game. And its cold here on the street corner. I want to know.

And what do you want to know, Miss? demanded Billy.

Why, I can tell you what we did last evening, if thats what you want to know, Mildred, said Dan, easily. Theres nothing secret about it.

You cant be going to plan any boat races this time of year? exclaimed Lettie. The paper says were going to have a hard winter and the Colasha steamboat line has laid off all its hands and closed up for the season. They say the river is likely to be impassable until spring.

Thats all you know about it, interposed Billy. We just did agree to have boat races on the river last evening. Now, then! what do you think?

I think all the Riverdale boys are crazy, returned Lettie, promptly.

What does he mean, Dan? asked Mildred.

Poof! Boat racing! Likely story, grumbled the red-haired girl.

Now, isnt that the truth, Dan? demanded Billy, but careful to circle well around Miss Parker to put his brother and Mildred between himself and the county clerks daughter.

As far as it goes, admitted Dan, chuckling. But he doesnt go far enough. We did talk some about having boat races iceboat races.

Oh, ho! cried Lettie. Her eyes flashed and she began to smile again. Iceboats, Dannie? Really?

But I thought they were so dangerous? demurred Mildred, rather timidly. Didnt Monroe Stevens and somebody else almost get drowned yesterday morning trying out an iceboat?

Deed they did, admitted Billy. But the river wasnt fit.

And you boys got them out of the water, too! exclaimed Lettie, suddenly. I heard about it.

Somebody had to pull em out, so why not we? returned Dan quickly, with perfect seriousness.

And you boys are going to build another boat? asked Mildred.

A dozen, perhaps, laughed Billy.

Well build one if nothing happens to prevent Billy and I, said Dan. And if the interest continues, and there are enough boats on the river to make it worth while, well have a regatta bye and bye.

An iceboat regatta! Wont that be novel? cried Mildred.

But Lettie was interested in another phase of it. She demanded: How big is your boat going to be, Billy?

Oh, a good big one, he said, confidently. Eh, Dan?

We havent decided on the dimensions. I want to make a plan of her first, Dan said, seriously.

Well, now! let me tell you one thing, said the decisive Lettie. You have got to build it big enough to carry four hasnt he, Mildred?

Four what? demanded Billy.

Four people, of course. Youre not going to be stingy, Billy Speedwell! You know our mothers wouldnt hear of our sailing an iceboat; but if you boys take us

Ho! cried Billy. You dont know what youre talking about, Let!

There isnt any place you go, Billy Speedwell, that I cant! cried the red-haired one, who had always been something of a tomboy. And Im not afraid to do anything that you dare to do so there!

Dear me, Lettie dont get so excited, advised Mildred. Do you suppose girls could sail on your iceboat, Dan?

Why not? An iceboat is no more dangerous than a sailboat. And I intend to build our boat with a shallow box on the body so that at least two passengers can lie down in it comfortably.

Lie down in it? queried Lettie, in a puzzled tone.

Of course, grunted Billy, or the boom would knock their silly heads off when the boat comes about. Dont you know?

To be sure! Low bridge! Ive sailed enough on a catboat to know when to duck, I hope, returned Lettie.

And we can sail with you, Dan? Mildred was saying. Do do you think it will be safe?

Perfectly, replied the older Speedwell. Not, of course, when we race. Well carry only ballast, then, and one of us will have to stand on the outrigger to keep the boat from turning turtle

Oh, that sounds dreadfully exciting! gasped Lettie, her eyes shining.

It sounds pretty dangerous, observed Mildred. You two boys are speed crazy, I believe! Burton Pooles got a new car have you seen it? He says it is a fast one.

Pooh! returned Billy. Burtons got to get up awfully early in the morning to be in the same class with us.

Never mind the autos, said Mildred, briskly. Weve got what we want, Lettie, and she laughed. Remember, boys! were to have first call on your iceboat when it is built.

Oh, yes! When it is built, said her chum, laughing. Were all counting our chickens before theyre hatched.

You wait till a week from Saturday, Let, said Billy, with confidence. By that time well have hatched a pretty good-sized chicken eh, Dan?

His brother would not promise; but that very night the boys drew plans for the ice racer they intended to build. Mr. Speedwell owned a valuable piece of timber, and the boys always had a few seasoned logs on hand. They selected the sticks they needed, sledded them to the mill, had them sawed right, and then set to work on the big barn floor and worked the sticks down with hand tools.

They even made their own boom, for Mr. Speedwell helped them, and he was a first-class carpenter. The iron work they had made at the local blacksmith shop. The canvas for the sails came from Philadelphia, from a mail order house. Before the middle of the next week the Speedwells carted the new boat down to old John Bromleys dock in sections, put it together on the ice, and John helped them make the sails and bend them, he knowing just how this should be done.

They had a private trial of the boat one afternoon, towards dark, and she worked beautifully. Even Bromley, who had not seen many iceboats and was an old, deep-water sailor was enthusiastic when he saw the craft, with Dan at the helm, skim across the river, tack beautifully, and return on the wind.

They then started to give her a couple of coats of bright paint.

What you goin to call her boys? Bromley asked.

Ought to be something with feathers shes a bird, laughed Billy.

And were going to hatch her about as quick as you promised the girls, his brother remarked.

Barry Spinks is the White Albatross hes going to name it after the boat he and Money wrecked.

Bird names seem popular, said Dan. Fisher Green has sent for a craft already built. He showed me the catalog. His will be called the Redbird.

Say! shouted Billy, grinning. I got it!

Lets have it, then, advised his brother.

Whats the matter with the Fly-up-the-Creek? Theres nothing much quicker on the wing, is there?

Bully! agreed Dan, with an answering smile. And I bet nobody else on the river will think of that for a name. Shes christened! Fly-up-the-Creek she is. But I wonder what Milly and Lettie will say to that name?





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