The Speedwell Boys and Their Ice Racer: or, Lost in the Great Blizzardñêà÷àòü êíèãó áåñïëàòíî
“I know he’s not long in Riverdale.”
“Yes. But where he comes from?”
“Up the Hudson somewhere.”
“Crickey! that’s 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.”
“Don’t you tell him so,” advised Dan, with a grin. “He’s got a swelled head as it is – I can see that.”
“Never mind, Spink. That isn’t 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.”
“It’s just this: Let’s go in for an iceboat ourselves. Let’s get the fellows of the Outing Club interested – and maybe some of the girls, too – Mildred, and Lettie, and some of the others. And we’ll 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 we’re getting a piece of it right now. Jinks! maybe you’ve got a big idea, Billy.”
“Sure I have. And if that chump, Barry Spink, can build a boat as good as that White Albatross, what’s the matter with us building a better?”
“Now you’re talking,” agreed his brother, with growing enthusiasm. “Hustle now, Billy! there goes the first bell. We’ve 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.
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 Appleyard’s 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 Billy’s 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 hasn’t 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 wasn’t 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 didn’t suppose you fellows really made a chum of this – er – Speedwell boy.”
“Huh?” grunted Wiley. Wiley’s folks were rich enough, but his father made him earn most of his own spending money, and Wiley helped around Jim Blizzard’s newspaper office on Saturdays and after school. “I knew you were a chump, Barry; but this – ”
“Oh, I’m obliged enough to him, I’m 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 fellow’s impudent tone, was now grinning as broadly as Wiley and Fisher.
“Re’lly,” 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! there’s ninety-five cents change – count it. And I’m not sure that I’m 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 fellow’s 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. Didn’t 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 Spink’s eyes fairly bulged. “He – he’s kiddin’ me; isn’t he?” he demanded of the grinning Wiley.
“Not so’s you’d notice it,” returned Moyle.
“Not twenty thousand dollars?”
“And they run a milk route?”
“That’s Mr. Speedwell’s 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 couldn’t 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 doesn’t 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 wasn’t – Mrs. Spink saw to that) the lady’s father was once a laborer on a railroad; but the mantle of Mr. Spink’s family greatness had fallen upon her.
“If it wasn’t for Mr. Spink’s 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 Barrington’s 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 Barry’s 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 d’ye 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 – don’t forget!” shouted one of the bigger boys. “We’ll give this iceboat scheme the once over.”
“It’s a great idea,” declared Wiley Moyle, enthusiastically. “And they tell me the river above Long Bridge is already solid as a brick pavement.”
“It isn’t so solid below the bridge – or it wasn’t 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, they’re 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 Spink’s 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 didn’t think there could be two chaps who couldn’t talk, in the neighborhood.”
“That’s 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 didn’t look half fed, at best. It is too bad.”
“He’ll have a fine time living over on Island Number One at this season,” whispered Billy to Dan.
“Don’t let mother hear you,” replied the older boy, quickly. “She’d only worry.”
“Better let ‘Dummy’ do the worrying,” chuckled Billy.
“Well! it’s mighty odd,” said Dan, shaking his head. “And I really would like to know what’s buried on the island.”
“So would I,” said Billy. “Treasure – eh?”
“You’ve got treasure on the brain, boy,” grinned the older youth. “You’re getting mercenary. Haven’t you got wealth enough? We’re capitalists.”
“Yes – I know,” said Billy, nodding. “But I wonder if we’ve got money enough to get us the fastest iceboat that’s going to be raced on the Colasha this winter?”
“Ah! now you’ve said it,” agreed Dan. “But it isn’t going to be money that will get us that boat. We’ve 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, he’s got the whole town ‘bug’ on iceboating. He’ll be all swelled up like a toad.”
“We should worry!” returned Dan, with a shrug of his broad shoulders.
Mildred Kent, the doctor’s 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 what’s in the wind, boys?” demanded Mildred, her pretty face framed by a tall sealskin collar and her hands in a big shawl muff.
“There’s snow in this wind,” replied Billy, chuckling, for a few sharp flakes were being driven past the quartette as they stood upon the corner.
“Aren’t you smart, Billy Speedwell!” scoffed the red-haired Lettie. “Doesn’t 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. “Can’t 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, don’t tell ’em, Dan!” urged Billy, as though he really meant it. “They’ll want to play the part of the Buttinsky Sisters– you 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! Isn’t it lucky you’re not?” he gasped. “There’d 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 I’d 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 girl’s reach. “If you ever undertook to thrash me, Lettie, I know I’d just be scared to death.”
“Come now,” urged Mildred. “You are both delaying the game. And it’s 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 that’s what you want to know, Mildred,” said Dan, easily. “There’s nothing secret about it.”
“You can’t be going to plan any boat races this time of year?” exclaimed Lettie. “The paper says we’re 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.”
“That’s 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, isn’t 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 clerk’s daughter.
“As far as it goes,” admitted Dan, chuckling. “But he doesn’t 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. “Didn’t Monroe Stevens and somebody else almost get drowned yesterday morning trying out an iceboat?”
“’Deed they did,” admitted Billy. “But the river wasn’t 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.
“We’ll 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, we’ll have a regatta bye and bye.”
“An iceboat regatta! Won’t 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 haven’t 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 – hasn’t he, Mildred?”
“Four what?” demanded Billy.
“Four people, of course. You’re not going to be stingy, Billy Speedwell! You know our mothers wouldn’t hear of our sailing an iceboat; but if you boys take us – ”
“Ho!” cried Billy. “You don’t know what you’re talking about, Let!”
“There isn’t any place you go, Billy Speedwell, that I can’t!” cried the red-haired one, who had always been something of a tomboy. “And I’m not afraid to do anything that you dare to do – so there!”
“Dear me, Lettie don’t 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. Don’t you know?”
“To be sure! ‘Low bridge!’ I’ve 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. We’ll 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 Poole’s got a new car – have you seen it? He says it is a fast one.”
“Pooh!” returned Billy. “Burton’s got to get up awfully early in the morning to be in the same class with us.”
“Never mind the autos,” said Mildred, briskly. “We’ve got what we want, Lettie,” and she laughed. “Remember, boys! we’re to have first call on your iceboat when it is built.”
“Oh, yes! When it is built,” said her chum, laughing. “We’re all counting our chickens before they’re hatched.”
“You wait till a week from Saturday, Let,” said Billy, with confidence. “By that time we’ll 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 Bromley’s 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 – she’s a bird,” laughed Billy.
“And we’re going to ‘hatch’ her about as quick as you promised the girls,” his brother remarked.
“Barry Spink’s is the White Albatross – he’s 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!”
“Let’s have it, then,” advised his brother.
“What’s the matter with the Fly-up-the-Creek? There’s 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. She’s christened! Fly-up-the-Creek she is. But I wonder what Milly and Lettie will say to that name?”
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