The Speedwell Boys and Their Ice Racer: or, Lost in the Great Blizzardñêà÷àòü êíèãó áåñïëàòíî
Billy was staring at the island all the time they were passing.
“What’s the matter, Billy?” demanded Lettie Parker. “What do you expect to see over yonder?”
“Billy’s looking for Robinson Crusoe,” chuckled Dan. “He believes there’s a fellow living over there.”
“Oh! you told us before,” cried Lettie. “And, do you know, I told father and he said Sheriff Kimball ought to know about that.”
“About what?” queried Mildred.
“Not that poor dummy?” cried Billy. “There isn’t an ounce of harm in that fellow, I am sure.”
“No. About there being something buried on the island. I don’t know just what father meant. But you know, he is very friendly with the sheriff.”
“Say! we don’t want to get that poor chap into trouble,” Billy urged. “Just like a girl – telling everything she knows!”
Before Miss Parker could “flare up” at this statement and speak her mind, Mildred gave a little shriek.
“What’s the matter?” demanded Dan, flashing a look around, too.
“See him? There!”
“It’s Dummy!” yelled Billy, who was out on the crossbeam at his usual station and could see behind the bellowing sail.
There, upon a high rock on the shore of the island stood the figure of the boy Billy and Dan had knocked over in the snowstorm, weeks before. They could not be mistaken.
He was gazing across the end of the island toward the open ice on the far side. Suddenly he turned about and waved both arms madly at the Fly-up-the-Creek and her crew. But although he opened his mouth and babbled something or other, neither the boys nor their guests could understand what he said.
“He wants something of us!” cried Lettie.
“He’s warning us!” gasped Mildred.
Dan swerved the helm and in a moment the iceboat came up into the wind and lost headway. They drifted past the end of the island, which was heavily wooded. And at that moment the White Albatross swooped around the head of the island, aimed directly for the Speedwells’ craft.
“Look out!” yelled Billy, leaping up and waving his hand.
The girls screamed, too. There was not enough headway on the Fly-up-the-Creek for Dan to swerve her out of the track of the other boat.
There was a crash. The bow of the White Albatross struck the other craft a glancing blow and the latter whirled in a complete circle. Fortunately Dan had let go the halyards and the sail came down with a rush. But it went over the side, tangled in the runners, and the iceboat stopped dead, while Barry Spink and his companion, both grinning over their shoulders at their rivals, shot on up the river.
“Guess you know who’ll reach Karnac first this time!” called Spink, waving his hand.
It was a mean trick, and one that might have had serious consequences. It was certain that Spink had seen the drifting Fly-up-the-Creek and might have averted the collision.
“If that lad over there had been able to talk plain,” declared Dan, helping the girls out from under the smother of canvas, “we could have gotten out of the way.
He tried his best to tell us what was coming.”
Mildred was crying a little, for she was frightened; but Lettie Parker, Billy declared, sputtered like a bottle of soda.
“What a mean, mean thing to do!” she stammered. “I – I could box that Spink boy’s ears myself! Stop crying, Milly – we’re not all dead yet.”
Billy chuckled – he had to. “We’re far from dead; but Dan looks kind of bright-eyed. I wonder what he’d do to Barrington Spink right now?”
“Come on, Mildred,” said the older Speedwell, patting the shoulder of the doctor’s daughter. “Don’t you mind. We’re none of us really hurt, and neither is the boat – much.”
Billy was examining the broken cables. The canvas, too, was badly slit where it had got under the sharp runners.
“We don’t get to Karnac Lake to-day, I reckon,” he said. “Guess you’d better have taken up that fellow’s offer, girls.”
“I’ll never speak to Barrington Spink again!” declared Lettie.
Mildred dried her eyes, and then began scrutinizing the shore of the island. “Where is that boy who tried to warn us?” she asked.
“Dummy? I declare! he’s skipped out,” Billy said. “Now, Dan! what do you think? Didn’t I tell you he was living on this island?”
“And guarding a buried treasure – eh?” chuckled the older boy.
“I’m going to see him – and talk to him!” declared Billy, earnestly.
“Not that he’ll be able to talk to us – eh?” queried his brother.
“Well, he can make himself understood somehow,” said Lettie, taking up the idea. “Come on, Billy! let’s find him.”
Mildred looked at Dan as though she thought he might forbid the search; but he did nothing of the kind. “Let the young ones run their legs off, if they want,” he said to Mildred, as Billy and Lettie climbed the rocky shore of the island. “I bet they don’t catch that dummy.”
“Why?” she asked, in wonder.
“He’s too blamed elusive,” declared Dan, hard at work mending the cordage that had been ripped loose by the collision.
Dan flung aside his coat to be less hampered. Mildred held things for him, and helped as she could until, when Billy and Lettie came back – disappointed – the iceboat was in some sort of shape for the start back.
“Well! where is he?” demanded Dan, flinging his coat across the stern of the boat.
“Ask me!” growled Billy.
“What! not found?”
“There’s something blamed funny about this island,” declared his younger brother with emphasis.
“We didn’t find a trace of him,” announced Lettie.
“But the smell of smoke,” corrected Billy.
“That’s so,” agreed the girl, rather mildly for her. “We did smell wood smoke. But we didn’t find a mark – not a footprint – ”
“I should say not,” said Billy. “And the island all rocks and frozen ground – not a smitch of snow on it anywhere.”
“Funny thing,” grunted Dan. “I wouldn’t mind seeing that dummy myself. Well! let’s get on. Can’t take you any farther up-river, to-day, girls.”
“Of course not!” said Lettie, tossing her head. “It seems as though we are fated never to get any farther up-stream on this old boat than hereabout.”
They couldn’t get back to town in the damaged iceboat. They managed to beat their way to John Bromley’s wharf, and then Billy ran all the way home and brought back the motor car, in which to transport the girls to their homes.
“That mean Barrington Spink!” exclaimed Lettie. “He’s just gone past in his boat. We saw him stop for some time up there by Island Number One.”
And later the Speedwell boys had reason to remember this statement. When they went to bed that night Dan searched his coat pocket in vain for the plans and specifications of the new motor-iceboat.
“Lost them – by jolly!” gasped Billy. “Where?”
Dan couldn’t be sure of that; but he had his suspicions. He remembered clearly removing his coat where they had had the accident at Island Number One. The envelope might have fallen from his coat pocket.
So anxious were the boys that they went up the river road the next day after Sunday school, and walked across the ice to the island. There were no boats on the river, but they saw the marks of their own and the White Albatross’s runners on the ice at the head of the island.
So, too, did they find the torn envelope in which the plans had been; but Dan’s drawings and specifications were not in it.
Who had got the plans? Was it Spink, when he stopped on his way down the river in the White Albatross? Or was it the mysterious occupant of the island whom the boys had dubbed “Dummy”?
The question not alone puzzled Dan and Billy; they were both troubled vastly by the loss of the drawings. A good mechanic could easily get the principle of Dan’s invention and – perhaps – build a boat similar to the one the Speedwells were constructing.
Under Billy’s earnest urging Dan agreed that they should search the island for some trace of the boy who could not talk; but they made absolutely nothing out of it. Not even a smell of smoke this time.
“That chap has the magic, all right, all right!” grumbled Billy. “He disappears as though he had an invisible cap.”
“More probably he’s here only once in a while,” said Dan.
“How about yesterday?” demanded the younger boy. “He wasn’t on the ice when Lettie and I hunted for him – that’s sure. He’s got a hide-out here, and don’t you forget it.”
“Maybe he buries himself – along with the treasure – when he is pursued by curious folk,” chuckled Dan.
But it was really no laughing matter. Dan was as glum as Billy when they returned home that Sunday evening. The plans were gone – and with them, perhaps, the chance the Speedwells had of building a faster boat than anybody who would enter for the iceboat races.
Not that Dan was unable to redraw the plans. That was easy. But the brothers feared that whoever found the original plans would make use of Dan’s invention in the line of motor-propulsion for ice craft.
This was really a very novel arrangement, and might be worth some money if once the boys made a practical test of the idea on the river, and demonstrated its worth. Mr. Robert Darringford, the young proprietor of the machine shops, was always on the lookout for worthy inventions; he was the Speedwell boys’ very good friend. Dan had rather hoped to interest Mr. Darringford in the invention.
Of course, he did not want to show the plans to the machine shop proprietor until after the races on the ice, for Mr. Darringford was going to enter an iceboat of special design himself. But Robert Darringford was a trustworthy man, and the boys were greatly tempted to tell him about the loss of the plans.
However much disturbed they were by this loss, there were other matters which kept the boys busy and their minds alert during the next few days. The Speedwells were more than ordinarily good scholars, and stood well in their classes. Even “Doc Bugs,” as one of their chief instructors was called by the more irreverent youth of Riverdale, seldom had to set down black marks against Dan or Billy.
Billy’s superabundance of energy and love of fun was well exercised out of school hours; he stuck pretty well to his books in the classroom.
There was another snowfall which rather spoiled the skating for a few days; but did not halt the trials of the several iceboats on the river. The snow brought to the fore another sport that had always been popular in Riverdale – and is worthy of being popular in every section of our country where winter holds sway for any length of time.
“Coasting to-night on Shooter’s Hill!” yelled Money Stevens, seeing the Speedwell boys making for their electric truck, which they had left behind Appleyard’s store, as usual. “Bring down the ‘bob,’ boys. We’ll have a jim-hickey of a time.”
“Whatever that may, be – eh?” chuckled Dan.
“Girls allowed?” asked Billy.
“Sure!” said Money. “Wouldn’t be any fun bobsledding if it wasn’t for the girls. They usually supply three things: The lunch, unnecessary conversation, and plenty of squeals,” and he went his way to stir up other of the young folk of Riverdale.
That he – and others – were successful in gathering a throng at the top of Shooter’s Hill by eight o’clock that evening, was a self-evident fact. Dan and Billy hitched old Bob and Betty to the pung and drove into town for Mildred and Lettie.
But for once the Speedwell boys were disappointed in their plans. They had not thought to call up either the doctor’s daughter, or the town clerk’s lively daughter. Dan and Billy took too much for granted.
When they reached the doctor’s house, they were told Mildred had gone to spend the evening with Lettie; and when they pulled up with a flourish at the latter’s domicile their hail brought nobody but a maid to the door.
“The girls ban gone off to Chooter’s for sledding,” explained the Swedish serving maid, grinning broadly at the disappointed boys.
“Goodness, Dan!” exclaimed Billy. “We’re stung. What do you know about this?”
Dan was a bit grumpy himself. Yet he couldn’t blame Mildred. She, of course, had no idea the Speedwells, who lived so far out of town, knew anything about the plans for the evening.
“Hey, Selma!” yelled Billy, before the door closed. “Who’d they go with?”
“Das gone mit Mr. Greene and Mr. Spink,” replied the girl.
“Stung twice!” grunted Billy. “That blamed Barrington Spink is getting under my skin, Dan. He’s forever putting his oar in where it isn’t wanted. Just as sure as you live, boy, he and I are going to lock horns yet.”
“You keep out of scraps, Billy,” advised his brother, as he turned the horses.
“Take care of the bob!” cried Billy, suddenly.
Their bobsled was tailing on behind the pung and Billy didn’t want to see it smashed. “Shall we keep on to the hill?” asked Dan.
“Bet you! We’ll show Let Parker that she’s made a mistake by going with the Spink kid. No matter what he’s got to slide on – even if it goes by steam – I bet we can beat him.”
“That’s putting it pretty strong, Billy,” laughed Dan. “Do you think you can fulfill the contract?”
A HAIR’S BREADTH FROM DEATH
The horses faced the wind as they struck into the Long Bridge road, and shook their heads impatiently till the bells on the harness rang again. Billy crouched a little behind Dan’s bulkier shoulder, for Dan was driving.
“Whew! some breeze this,” said the younger boy, who could not keep silent for long.
“At our backs, if we coast down Shooter’s,” said Dan.
“That’s so. But we’ll have to face it going up – and dragging the girls, too.”
“Good thing we haven’t any girls to-night, then, Billy,” said his brother.
“Huh!” grunted Billy, who was not yet in a forgiving spirit. “I hope that Barry Spink makes Lettie walk up hill every time. He looks like that sort of a fellow to me.”
“If they have iced the course,” Dan was saying, reflectively, “and with the wind blowing right down the hill, there will be some great sledding this night. Why! if we lay down a couple of lengths of the roadside fence at the bottom of the hill, we ought to be able to cross the flat and slide right out on the river!”
“Some slide!” exclaimed Billy, with enthusiasm.
“The river’s two and a half miles broad there,” said Dan, still speaking thoughtfully.
“And Shooter’s Hill is another two miles from foot to summit – that’s sure,” added Billy. “Some slide!” he added, repeating his exclamatory comment with gusto. “But do you think there’d be momentum enough to carry a sled across the river to this side?”
“No; I don’t,” admitted Dan. “But – ”
“But what, old boy? What’s working on you?” demanded Billy, eagerly, beginning to see that Dan’s remarks pointed to some tangible idea.
“Let’s drive around by the house first,” said Dan, quickly, turning Bob and Betty into a side road.
The horses accelerated their pace at once, for they thought their stalls were just ahead of them.
Dan tossed the reins to Billy when they drove into the yard, and bolted into the house at once without saying another word. He was gone some few minutes, and Billy saw a lamp shining through a garret window before his brother appeared again.
When Dan did come out he bore an object that filled Billy first with amazement and then with delight.
“For goodness’ sake! what’s that for?” the younger boy demanded. “That old kite? Sure! you can put it up all right in a wind like this. But who wants to fly a kite on a moonlight night, when there’s bobsledding in prospect – ”
“Great Peter, Dan! I get you! I see! Say, boy! you’ve got the greatest head ever,” declared the slangy and enthusiastic Billy. “Lay it down in back there so the wind won’t get it. And plenty of cord?”
“Here’s line that would hold a whale,” chuckled Dan, climbing back to the seat. “What do you think? Will we show those fellows something?”
“We’ll show Let Parker that she made a mistake,” growled Billy, going suddenly back to his bone of contention with the town clerk’s lively daughter.
The horses were off again in a moment, and it was not long before they came in sight of the Long Bridge and the glistening, snow-covered slope rising from the far bank of the river, and just beyond the bridge.
Dan and Billy could see their school friends and companions scattered over the coasting course on their bobsleds. There were smaller sleds, too; but several big “double-runners” carried parties of shouting young folk down the two-mile slope and almost to the entrance to the bridge.
They did not mind the sharp wind – excepting while dragging the sleds to the top of the hill. But even that task was accomplished amid laughter and merriment.
The Speedwell boys drove across the bridge and put their horses under the shed of a farmer who lived on the bank of the river. They lifted out the huge kite carefully and with it, and their bob, hurried to join the crowd just then starting up the hill for another trip.
“What under the sun you got there, Dan?” demanded Money Stevens. He couldn’t approach to examine the kite, for he was dragging one of the sleds himself and there were already three girls upon it.
“Oh! we’re going to show you fellows a new trick,” said Billy, proudly. “You wait and see.”
Billy was looking for Lettie Parker, and he saw her now on a brand-new bobsled which was being drawn by Barry Spink and the biggest Greene boy. Mildred was with her.
“Hullo, Billy Speedwell!” shouted Miss Parker. “I didn’t know you boys were coming over here.”
“Well, I hope you see us, Let,” said Billy, with an air of carelessness. “We’re right here – and we’ll come pretty near leaving that bob you’re on ’way behind.”
“Just about the way your old Fly-up-the-Creek leaves my iceboat behind,” scoffed Barry Spink. “I believe you milkmen are a couple of blow-hards!”
But Billy only laughed and he and Dan hastened their steps along the snowy road. Where the hill dipped to the level of the flats the Speedwells stopped and threw down two lengths of the fence. This opened a course to, and down, the easily sloping bank of the river.
“Aw, say!” cried Biff Hardy, who was with another bob; “that won’t make you anything. We can’t get momentum enough to clear that little rise between here and the river.”
“Hold your horses, Biff!” advised Dan. “Let’s see what we can do.”
“And with a kite!” scoffed one of the other fellows. “What do you think you’re going to do?”
But Dan would not be led into any discussion, while Billy was not just sure what his brother was intending. Once on the top of the hill Dan showed Billy what to do, in a hurry. They waited for the other sleds to go, so as to have a clear field. Then Billy raised the kite, Dan holding the stout line attached to it.
The stiff wind blowing from behind them, seized the big kite almost at once. She rose with a bound, Dan letting the line whistle through his gloved hands. She made one swoop when a flaw struck her, and then mounted again and the wind caught her full and square.
There she soared, steady and true, and the Speedwells hastily boarded their heavy sled. Dan fastened the line to a ring in front of the tiller with which he steered the sled. Billy, hanging on behind, started the sled over the brow of the hill by striking his heel sharply into the hard-packed snow.
The runners squeaked a little, and then the sled plunged downward. Had the wind been lighter, the momentum the sled gathered on the first half-mile of the hill would have forced the coasting Speedwells ahead of the kite.
But the gale was strong and steady. Away the great kite flew, with the line taut most of the way to the bottom of the hill.
“She ain’t helping us a bit,” objected Billy, shouting into Dan’s ear. “Those other sleds went just as fast.”
“Wait,” commanded Dan, untroubled as yet.
The sled whizzed down to the bottom of the hill and then Dan steered out of the beaten track. The crowd watched the Speedwells in wonder. The sled went slower and slower, passing through the break in the roadside fence and over the drifts toward the river.
But the great kite was tugging now. It drew the sled on, over the short rise, and then they pitched down the bank and out upon the river! They gained speed again and quickly left the cheering crowd behind, never stopping until they reached the other bank of the river.
“What do you know about this?” yelled the delighted Billy. “We got ’em going this time, I guess.”
The kite fluttered over the trees on the bank and the boys were able to bring it to earth quickly, and without damaging the kite. It was covered with strong, oiled paper, and was not easily torn.
But it was a job to drag the sled all the way back again, and the kite, too. The other young folk had made a couple of trips on the shorter route before the Speedwells returned to the top of Shooter’s Hill.
Nevertheless, Lettie Parker and Mildred Kent were waiting for them. Lettie had insisted upon leaving Messrs. Spink and Greene in the lurch. She was determined to “go sailing” with the Speedwell boys.
“Do you think it is dangerous, Dan?” asked Mildred.
“Of course it isn’t,” declared Lettie, before Dan could answer. “I’m not afraid to do anything that Billy Speedwell does.”
“If you really want to try it, Milly,” Dan said, “we’ll take you girls for one trip.”
“You’ll break all your necks fooling with that kite,” growled Barry Spink.
He and his partner took some other girls on their bob and started at once for the bottom of the hill. They switched out of the beaten track and went through the break in the fence; but the momentum gathered by the bob would not take it over the little hill.ñêà÷àòü êíèãó áåñïëàòíî
ñòðàíèöû: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11