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´╗┐Title: Frank Merriwell's Cruise
Author: Standish, Burt L., 1866-1945
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Frank Merriwell's Cruise" ***

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FRANK MERRIWELL'S CRUISE

BY BURT L. STANDISH

AUTHOR OF "Frank Merriwell's Schooldays," "Frank Merriwell's Chums,"
"Frank Merriwell's Foes," "Frank Merriwell's Trip West," etc.


PHILADELPHIA
DAVID McKAY, PUBLISHER
604-8 SOUTH WASHINGTON SQUARE

Copyright, 1898
By STREET & SMITH
Frank Merriwell's Cruise



FRANK MERRIWELL'S CRUISE.

CHAPTER I.

THE MEETING IN BOSTON.


     "MR. JOHN DIAMOND, Lexington, Pa.: If you wish cruise in down East
     waters, join me Monday next at American Hotel, Boston. Have
     purchased yacht. Hodge and Browning will be in party. Great sport
     anticipated.

     "MERRIWELL."

Jack Diamond was reclining in a hammock suspended in the shade of an
artificial arbor when this message from Frank Merriwell was handed to
him by a boy. He tore open the envelope and read it, his eyes beginning
to sparkle and a flush coming to his handsome, aristocratic face.

"Just like him!" exclaimed Jack. "Before leaving Fardale he aroused our
curiosity about that part of the country, and now he proposes taking us
down there in his own yacht. Will I go? Will I? I wouldn't miss it for
the world!"

It had not taken him a minute to decide.

       *       *       *       *       *

A cab rattled up to the front of the American Hotel, on Hanover Street,
Boston, and stopped. The door flew open, and out stepped a smartly
dressed young man, wearing russet shoes, a light-colored box coat and a
brown Alpine hat. He carried a handsome alligator-skin traveling bag in
his hand.

Paying cabbie without speaking a word, this youth turned and walked into
the hotel. As he entered, a colored boy hastened forward and relieved
him of his traveling bag. He stepped up to the clerk's desk and said:

"I am Jack Diamond, of Virginia, and I wish to see Mr. Frank Merriwell,
who is stopping here."

"Yes, sir," said the clerk, politely. "Mr. Merriwell left orders that
you be shown up immediately on your arrival. Twenty-three, show Mr.
Diamond to Mr. Merriwell's rooms."

"Right this way, sah," said the colored boy.

Jack followed the uniformed bell boy, who paused at the elevator shaft
and pressed a button. In a moment the elevator came gliding noiselessly
down, the door slid open, a lady and a gentleman stepped out and Diamond
stepped in.

"Third," said the bell boy, and then he turned and disappeared, while
the elevator man closed the door and sent the car gliding upward. He
stopped at the third floor, and, to Jack's surprise, the bell boy with
the grip was there, calmly awaiting his arrival.

Jack followed him to the door of a room at the front of the house. As
the boy lifted his hand to knock at the door, there was a burst of
laughter within, plainly heard, as the transom was open, and Frank
Merriwell's voice cried:

"Hans, if you could tell that story on the stage just as you told it
then you would make your fortune."

"Vot vos der madder mit me?" exclaimed the voice of Hans Dunnerwust,
Frank's German friend. "Dot nefer vos a funny stories! You don'd seen
vot I larft ad! Dot peen a bathetic sdory. I oxbected you vould took
mein handkersheft oudt und cried id indo, but you sed roundt und laugh
ad dot bathetic sdory like I vos a lot of monkeys. You don't like dot as
vell as I might!"

Then there was another burst of laughter, and the knock of the bell boy
was not heard.

"Never mind," said Diamond, taking his traveling bag and giving the boy
a dime; "I'll go right in."

He opened the door and stepped into the room.

Hodge, Browning, Merriwell and Dunnerwust were there. Bart was tilted
back in a chair, with his feet on the table, while lazy Bruce was half
sitting and half reclining on a sofa. Frank sat astride a chair, looking
over the back of it at Hans, who had stood in the middle of the room as
he told his "bathetic sdory."

"Hello, fellows!" cried the lad from Virginia, heartily.

There was a shout of welcome. Frank sprang forward quickly and grasped
Diamond's hand.

"Delighted, old man!" laughed Merry. "I was afraid you wouldn't come
till I received your telegram stating that you would be on hand. Any
trouble in persuading the mother?"

"Not much, though she said it did seem that I might remain at home a
while longer, and she told me to tell you that she is beginning to get
jealous of you, as I spend so much of my time during vacations with
you."

"How you vos, Shack?" said Hans, getting hold of Diamond's free hand,
the latter having dropped his traveling bag. "I vos a sight vor sore
eyes, ain'd you! You don'd knew how dickled you vos to seen me."

Hodge came forward and shook hands, expressing his pleasure, and, with
sundry grunts, Browning succeeded in getting upon his feet, saying as he
rose:

"Suppose I'll have to stand to shake, or you'll challenge me. You
Southerners are so confoundedly particular about courtesy and all that."

Jack smiled.

"I know you too well to resent it if you lay on your back and offered to
shake hands with me. In fact, it surprises me to discover you hadn't
rather fight a duel after you were obliged to get up than to get up when
not absolutely forced to do so."

"What baggage did you bring?" asked Merry.

"A trunk. It will be brought to the hotel here."

"There is no room for trunks on board the _White Wings_," said Frank.
"You'll have to store your trunk and such stuff as you do not absolutely
need till we get back here."

"The _White Wings_? Is that the name of your yacht?"

"Yes."

"Good name. How did you happen to buy a yacht?"

"Got a bargain of her. I came on to Boston with Miss Burrage, whose aunt
was waiting here for her. I met Jack Benjamin. You remember him?"

"Harvard man?"

"Yes."

"Plays football?"

"Yes."

"I remember him. His sister is a stunningly handsome girl."

"Huah!" grunted Browning. "That explains how you happen to remember
him."

"Well," Frank went on. "Benjamin turned out to be a fine fellow. Invited
me over to his house, treated me beautifully. He knows a lot of sporty
chaps. Among them was Walter Pringle, who owned this yacht. Pringle took
a party of us out for a cruise down the bay, and we had a grand time.
Went to Nantasket. Coming back Pringle said he had planned to cruise
down to the eastward this summer with a party of friends, but something
had come up that knocked out the arrangement. Then it was that I thought
of a talk we once had while at Fardale about making a cruise down along
the Maine coast, and I spoke of it. Said I'd like to own his yacht. Saw
Pringle looked a little queer. He stared at me a few moments, and then
asked what I would give for the _White Wings_. I questioned him some
about her, and then made an offer. He didn't take me up, but the next
day he came and told me the yacht was mine. I was astonished, for I
didn't offer much more than one-half what she is really worth. But he
said he must have the money without delay, as he was going to get out of
Boston in a hurry. I dispatched Prof. Scotch, and he wired me the
amount. I bought the boat, and now I hear Pringle has left for Seattle,
on his way to Alaska. His father is hot over it, for he didn't want his
son to go. Pringle had the fever, and he sold the yacht in a hurry to
raise money to go with. I have a bargain. We can make our cruise, and
then, when it is over, by looking about, I'll be able to get rid of the
_White Wings_ for more than I paid for her."

"Are you sure the transaction is all right?" asked Diamond.

"All right? How do you mean?"

"Why, strictly on the level. Pringle is not a minor?"

"No," grunted Browning; "but he has gone to be a miner."

"Here! here!" cried Frank, quickly; "that won't do. It's prohibited."

"It may be when we get on board the _White Wings_, but we're ashore now,
and you are not Capt. Merriwell yet."

"Pringle is twenty-one," said Frank, answering Diamond's question. "He
is all right."

"And he was sole owner of the yacht? He had the right to sell her?"

"Of course. Benjamin told me Pringle was strictly on the level."

"Well, you're always lucky!" exclaimed the lad from Virginia. "Now you
will get the fun of this cruise, and, when it is over, you'll be likely
to sell the yacht for enough so that you will come out ahead on the
whole deal, expenses included."

"I hope to," acknowledged Frank, laughing. "I considered it a snap, but
that was not why I wanted the boat. I wanted to make the cruise with my
friends. Here are five of us, and that is all the _White Wings_ will
carry with absolute comfort. There is plenty of room for us. We'll make
a jolly cruise of it, fellows, and I don't believe we'll ever regret
going. I have the boat stocked with provisions, and some Jew tailors up
by Scollay Square are at work on uniforms for four of us. We'll go out
right away, Jack, and you shall be measured for yours. Come on."



CHAPTER II.

INZA AND PAULA.


Frank and Jack left the American House and turned toward Scollay Square.

"These tailors are rushers," said Merry. "They have made a reputation by
turning out work in short order. That is why we ordered the suits of
them. You know we sail to-morrow morning."

"What? Not to-morrow?"

"Sure."

"Well, they will not have time to make up a suit for me."

"Oh, yes, they will."

"Impossible."

"Not at all, old man. They will get the work out in a hurry, as I shall
pay them to do it."

"But I never heard of such a thing."

"Possibly not. You are in Boston now. In Virginia they require more time
to accomplish anything. Down in this part of the country things move."

Diamond could hardly believe that he could obtain a suit to order in
such a short time.

They came to Scollay Square, into which trolley cars were pouring from
various sections, and soon they reached the store of the Jew tailors. It
was a large store, and at least a dozen customers were looking over
samples, striking bargains or being measured. However, the boys were not
forced to wait, for one of the proprietors came forward, greeted Frank
by name, and said:

"Your order will be ready for you on time, Mr. Merriwell."

"We sail at nine o'clock to-morrow morning," said Frank. "Here is a
friend of mine who will require a suit like the others."

"That is crowding us somewhat, sir," smiled the tailor. "I hardly think
we can----"

"I will pay five dollars extra if the suit is delivered at the American
House at six o'clock in the morning," said Frank, quietly.

"Very well, sir. I think that will cover the extra expense of rushing it
through. If the gentleman will step back this way, his measure will be
taken."

So Jack was measured, and, ten minutes after entering the store, the
boys left it.

"He didn't even ask a deposit of you, Merry," said Jack, in surprise.

"No. Benjamin vouched for me, and that was all that was necessary. No
deposit was required under such circumstances."

"What if he fails to get the suits round on time?"

"He won't. He wouldn't want them left on his hands."

Frank's confidence reassured Jack, and they strolled over toward Tremont
Street and finally came out at the Common.

"I'd like to have a little time to look Boston over?" said Jack.

"You can do that when we come back. If you were to stop long enough to
take in all the interesting sights, we wouldn't get down into Maine this
summer. I want to spend a little more time in Boston, although I have
seen Faneuil Hall, the new Public Library Building, the Old South
Church, Bunker Hill Monument and a hundred other interesting things. The
business portion of Boston is not particularly attractive, but the
suburbs and the aristocratic dwelling sections are beautiful."

They walked across the Common to the Public Gardens, then turned round
and strolled back. From Tremont Row they went down Temple Street to
Washington, and just as they reached Jordan, Marsh & Co.'s store, two
girls stepped out upon the sidewalk and came face to face with them.

"Miss Burrage!" exclaimed Diamond, lifting his hat.

"Inza!" cried Frank, also lifting his hat. "Miss Benjamin, too! This is
an unexpected pleasure. Miss Benjamin, permit me to present a particular
friend of mine, Mr. Jack Diamond, of Virginia."

Paula Benjamin was a pretty girl. Her eyes met Jack's, and she showed
her pearly teeth in a most bewitching smile as she bowed, saying:

"I have heard of Mr. Diamond."

"Indeed!" exclaimed Jack. "I was not aware I was quite as famous."

"Yes. My brother mentioned you. Perhaps you know something of him--his
name is Jack. He plays on the Harvard eleven."

"And he spoke of me? That is surprising. Don't see what he could have
said about me."

"I don't believe I will tell," laughed the girl, and her manner aroused
all of the Virginian's curiosity.

"Please tell," he urged, smiling.

"Well," hesitated Paula, still laughing, "before the game on Jarvis
Field, he said you were fool enough to think Frank Merriwell could beat
the whole Harvard eleven. After the game he said you weren't half the
fool he took you for."

This caused them all to laugh, and, as the street was crowded, they
strolled on together.

"Oh, Frank!" exclaimed Inza; "you can't guess what we are going to do!"

"Then I will give it up without trying. What is it?"

"Paula and I are going to Bar Harbor."

"What?"

"It's true."

"I am astonished!"

"I knew you would be. We've been talking about it, you know--saying we'd
like to go. Yesterday Paula had a letter from her cousin, who is
spending the summer down there. Her cousin urged her to come. Paula's
mother said it was impossible, as two girls like us should not be
traveling about alone. Then Aunt Abigail said she'd like to spend a week
or two in Bar Harbor herself, and she volunteered to chaperone us. After
a while, Paula obtained her mother's consent, and we take the Bangor
boat for Rockland to-morrow night."

"By Jove, this is interesting! We'll have to run in to Bar Harbor and
see you on our cruise. I didn't suppose we would see much of each other
after leaving Fardale."

"I didn't know as you would care about that," said Inza, carelessly.

"Care!" exclaimed Frank. "You should know I would care. How can you say
anything like that! What made you imagine I wouldn't care?"

"Oh, something!"

"Something! What was it? Tell me, Inza."

"Sometime--perhaps."

"Tell me now," urged Frank, in his masterful way. "During the last of my
stay in Fardale I noticed a change in your treatment of me, Inza."

"Did you?" she murmured, lifting her eyebrows.

"Yes. You were cold toward me, and you seemed to shun me. If I tried to
be friendly, as in the old days, you would not give me the opportunity.
I did not understand it."

"That is singular. The reason was plain enough."

"If so, I must have been thick-witted."

"Elsie Bellwood was there."

"Yes."

"I read your secret. You made your choice between us."

Frank was astounded.

"Choice? What can you mean, Inza? I did not make any choice."

"Oh, but you did!"

"If you say so--but I--really----"

"You made your choice that time when the boat upset, and we were
struggling in the water, Elsie and I. You plunged in to her rescue. I
was quite as near to you as was Elsie--nearer, if anything."

Frank caught his breath, beginning to realize what she meant. Inza went
on:

"You swam to Elsie's rescue--you saved her. That was the test. I brought
it about, for I upset the boat intentionally to settle the point. I
wanted to know which one of us you cared the most for--and I found out!"

It was like her, Frank realized that. He knew she was telling the truth
when she said she upset the boat intentionally.

"But you--you could swim some, Inza. I knew it."

"Did you know Elsie could not swim?"

"N--no."

"She is the daughter of a sea captain, and she has been with him on many
voyages. There was every reason to suppose that she could swim quite as
well as I--or better. No, Frank, you made your choice between us that
day. It's all right," and she forced a laugh that was not very musical.
"I don't deny that, at one time, I did think more of you than any other
fellow. There was every reason why I should. You saved me from a mad
dog, saved me from death beneath a railroad engine, saved me from
drowning. But I am not a fool, if I am a girl! I have not been taking
stock in all the passionate love stories I have read. I got out of the
way. I remained Elsie's friend, for she is the sweetest girl I know. I
don't blame you for thinking more of her than you do of me."

"Inza!"

Frank uttered the word in protest; it was all he could say.

"You can't deny it, so don't try," came almost harshly from the girl.
"It's all right. We're still friends. We'll always be friends--nothing
more. Sometime I'll be bridesmaid at the wedding, and----"

But Frank had heard enough, and he stopped her.

"I am not likely to marry anyone very soon," he said. "Elsie knows that.
Let's talk about something else. How did it happen we met you?"

Inza seemed willing enough to permit the conversation to be turned into
another channel.

"We were out shopping, you know--making our last purchases before
starting for Bar Harbor. You must take us out on your yacht after we all
get down there."

"I'll do it. Your aunt----"

"Oh, she will not object. You know she thinks you the finest fellow in
all the world. She will come along."

At last the boys were forced to part from the girls, but Jack had made
such progress with Paula that she offered him her hand at parting,
saying laughingly:

"Next fall you will not pick the winner if you pick Yale, even if Mr.
Merriwell is on that eleven. If you want to keep your record for wisdom,
be careful."

"Jove!" exclaimed Jack, after they had seen the girls on board a car.
"She's a way-upper, Merry!"

"She's a good sample of the Boston girl."

"Eh? Where's her glasses?"

"You have been reading the comic papers."

"She didn't mention Emerson or Browning."

"And that surprised you?"

"Why, I didn't suppose the genuine Boston girl could talk ten minutes
without doing so."

"Boston girls are very much like other nice girls, old man. They are
well educated, refined and all that, but they are not always quoting
Emerson and Browning, they do not all wear glasses, they are not all
cold and freezing and they are handsome."

They came to Cornhill. A car was coming down from Scollay Square, and
they paused close to it to let it swing out upon Washington Street.

Just as the front of the car approached, Frank Merriwell received a push
from behind that sent him flat upon the track directly in front of the
car wheels!

That particular car did not have a fender, and it seemed that Frank must
be mangled beneath the wheels. The motorman saw the lad go down and put
on the brake hard, but he could not stop the car in time.

Frank realized that he had been pushed upon the track by some one whose
deliberate purpose it was to maim or murder him, but he could not save
himself. He struck the paving, and the iron wheels seemed right upon
him.

But Jack Diamond moved with marvelous quickness. He made a grasp at
Frank as the latter fell, almost caught him, then stooped, grasped his
coat and yanked Merry from the track.

The car brushed Frank as it passed, but he was not injured.

"Thank you, old man," said Merriwell, as he quickly rose to his feet.
"You saved me that time. But who pushed me?"

They looked about. A small crowd had witnessed Frank's peril and
gathered. In the crowd was a person slipping away. With a bound Frank
was after him, caught him by the shoulder, swung him to get a look at
his face.

"Get out!"

The fellow snarled the words and struck at Frank's face with his
clinched hand.

Frank dodged.

"Wat Snell!" he cried, astounded.

"Yes, Wat Snell!" grated the other, who was a boy well known to him--a
boy who had been his enemy years before at Fardale Academy, when they
both went to school.

"You pushed me!" accused Frank.

"You lie! I did not touch you! You fell."

"I felt you push me, you miserable dog!"

"Don't dare talk like that to me!" hissed Snell. "I'll have you----"

"What! You don't dare do anything that is cowardly and treacherous! You
did push me!"

"That's right!" exclaimed a boy. "I seen him do it!"

There was a murmur from the crowd that began to gather about. Black
looks were directed toward Snell.

"He ought to be lynched!" blustered a little old man.

Then there were threats, and Snell grew pale, looking around for some
means of escape. He saw accusing and angry faces on all sides, and he
quailed and trembled.

"It was an accident," he whined, humbly. "I ran against you by accident.
I'll swear I didn't recognize you, and I didn't mean you any harm."

"Call an officer!" cried the little old man. "It was an attempt at
murder! Have him taken care of!"

With a gasp, Snell plunged through the crowd and took to his heels. Some
tried to stop him, but he ran like a deer up Cornhill. There was a short
pursuit, but the fellow doubled and dodged, escaping his pursuers.

"Let him go," said Frank. "I wouldn't make a charge against him, for it
would detain me, and we must get away in the morning, wind and weather
permitting."

"He ought to be punished," said Diamond. "He tried to kill you."

"It isn't the first time he has tried to do something to me. We are old,
old foes."

"Why, I supposed him in Fardale."

"So did I."

"It's singular he's here in Boston."

"Rather."

"What is the meaning of it?"

"I can't tell. Don't ask me. He bobs up anywhere. Anyhow, we're not
liable to see him again for some time after we leave here to-morrow."

They returned to the hotel and told the others of their adventures. All
the boys were astonished to learn that Wat Snell was in the city.



CHAPTER III.

A HOODOOED YACHT.


Promptly at six o'clock the following morning the uniforms were
delivered at the American House. Without delay the boys put them on, and
they proved satisfactory in every way, so Frank paid the bill and the
messenger who brought them departed satisfied.

The boys ate an early breakfast, and all had good appetites. The
American House dining room is rather somber, but they joked and laughed
in the best of spirits.

After breakfast final arrangements for the care of their baggage were
made, then a cab was ordered, and they all piled in and were rattled
away toward Atlantic Avenue.

Jack had not seen Frank's yacht, and he was curious, concerning her
appearance.

Not far from the pier of the Bangor boat lay the _White Wings_, guarded
by a watchman, who saluted Merriwell as the boys went aboard.

The _White Wings_ was a sloop yacht with club and jib topsails. She was
not large, and it did not strike Diamond that she would prove to be
fast, but she looked comfortable, and comfort was what they sought. They
were not thinking of racing.

Frank paid the watchman for his services, and gave him something extra,
whereupon the man departed greatly satisfied.

"Come, fellows," called Merry; "we'll go below and see how she looks
down there."

They descended into the cabin, which was locked, Merry having the key.
Jack was astonished when they entered the cabin, for it was far more
roomy than he had supposed possible. A glimpse at the curtained berths
showed there was plenty of sleeping room for all of them. There was a
folding table, an oil stove, comfortable seats on the lockers, and
everything looked inviting. Four handsome repeating shotguns and a
magazine rifle hung above the lockers.

"How does she look down here, fellows?" asked Frank.

"She looks all right," grunted Browning, as he lazily rolled into one of
the bunks. "Excuse me. I want to see what kind of a place I'll be stowed
in when I am seasick."

"What do you think you'll do with those guns, Frank?" asked Jack.

"Can't tell," smiled Frank. "Remember, we are going down into Maine."

"Yes, but you told us Maine was a civilized State. From your talk when
we discussed the matter I didn't suppose guns would be needed down
there."

"Is Virginia civilized?"

"Well, rather."

"Ever find anything to shoot up in the mountain region?"

"Oh, yes; but----"

"That's all. New York is civilized, but there are bears and deer in the
Adirondacks."

"Well, I didn't know we were going anywhere near a portion of Maine
where there was game."

"Can't tell where we may go."

"Besides, if they have game laws down there, it must be close time for
hunting."

"It is, but, all the same, it will be a good scheme to have these guns
along. We're going to rough it a great deal, and we may need them. I
have brought all sorts of rigs for fishing, and I have two tents on
board. My idea, gentlemen, is to make this a regular outing trip, and,
when we are not on board the _White Wings_, we do not want to spend our
time in hotels."

"Not much," nodded Hodge.

"Say, Merriwell," cried Diamond, in admiration, "you are a dandy. You
have planned all our outings for the past two years, and we have had
sport galore; but what makes me sore is the fact that you pay all the
bills."

A truck team came rumbling down onto the wharf, and Hodge looked around.

"Baggage," he called.

A truckman had arrived with their luggage from the hotel. The boys,
excepting Browning, went on deck and brought the stuff aboard.

As Frank was settling with the truckman, the latter said:

"I wish you good luck, young man, but I doubt if you'll have it taking a
cruise in that craft."

"Why is that?" asked Merry. "What is the matter with that craft?"

"Well, sir, they do say as how she is hoodooed."

"Indeed!"

"Yes, sir. Everybody as has owned her in the last two years has had hard
luck."

"This is interesting."

"I hauled her first load of provisions, and I have known her a long
time. On her trial cruise she capsized before she got out of the
harbor."

"Is that all?"

"Hardly. Her first owner committed suicide on board of her--cut his
throat down below. They say she has been haunted by his spook ever
since."

Merry laughed.

"This is decidedly interesting. I'd have given more for her if I had
known she owned a spook. I am very fond of spooks. They are
interesting."

"Boo!" shivered the truckman. "Don't want none in mine."

"Have you told me all the unlucky things that have happened to the
_White Wings_?"

"No. Next fellow that owned her ran down a rowboat and drowned a boy.
Then he put her on top of a ledge, but got her off without doing her
much damage. He sold her for a song."

"What happened next?"

"Next fellow as owned her went crazy and is in an asylum. They say he
saw the spook go through the suicide act in the cabin, and that was what
crazed him."

"The interest increases. The horrors are piling up. Anything more?"

"Benjamin owned her next."

"Anything happen to him?"

"Yes."

"What?"

"He got the Klondike fever."

"That all?"

"Ain't that enough? He's run away to Alaska, and his father's rich as
mud. He didn't have no need to go up there into that infernally cold
region and freeze and starve. His old man's so mad he threatens to cut
him off."

"Well," laughed Frank, "the _White Wings_ is mine now, and I don't fancy
all the spooks of the infernal regions could scare me away from her. In
fact, I'd rather enjoy having a call from a few spooks."

"You'll have some kind of bad luck," declared the truckman, as he
prepared to go. "I don't like to tell you that, but I think you oughter
be looking out."

A young man with a small, curly, black mustache came hurrying onto the
pier. He was well dressed and carried a cane. He came straight up to
Frank and the truckman.

"Where is the person known as Frank Merriwell?" he asked.

"I am Frank Merriwell," Merry answered. "What can I do for you?"

"You are the chap I want to see," said the stranger. "I understand you
bought the _White Wings_ of Jack Benjamin?"

"I did, sir."

"And he sold it to you as clear and free of encumbrance?"

"He did."

"He beat you."

"How is that?"

"I hold a bill of sale of that yacht, and I am here to claim it as my
property!" was the answer.

Frank was surprised.

The truckman slapped his hand against his hip and muttered:

"I told him! The thing is hoodooed! Anybody as has anything to do with
it is bound to buck against hard luck."

"This is rather surprising information," said Frank Merriwell, speaking
with the utmost calmness, while he studied the face of the stranger with
piercing eyes. "I hardly understand it. I believe Jack Benjamin has the
reputation in Boston of being on the level, and so I hardly understand a
piece of business like this."

"Perhaps Benjamin was stuck, found it out, and got out of the hole the
best way he could."

"How do you mean?"

"Perhaps at the time he bought the boat, he didn't know I held the bill
of sale of her."

Frank started.

"Ha!" he exclaimed. "Then Benjamin did not give you the bill of sale?"

"No. Chap that owned her before that did. His name is Fearson."

"Fearson? Is he the one who went crazy?"

"The very same," put in the truckman.

"When did he give you this bill of sale?"

"Don't remember the exact date."

"The bill will show."

"Sure. Why do you want to know?"

"I want to find out if he gave it to you before a certain time. That's
all."

The strange claimant of the yacht was suspicious.

"I don't see the point," he said. "I hold the bill, and I claim the
yacht. Just found out what Benjamin had done, and I came down in a
hurry, after getting track of the boat, to warn you not to try to move
her. I won't have it."

It began to look like a scrape, but Frank was not flustered in the
least. He kept his head, saying:

"Have you the bill of sale with you, sir?"

"Yes."

"Will you be kind enough to permit me to look at it?"

The stranger started to do so, but seemed to change his mind of a
sudden, and said:

"No, I won't bother. I tell you not to move her. If you do, I'll make
you pay a big sum for damages, so look out."

Frank smiled sweetly.

"That is a very silly threat," he murmured. "If you do not show me the
document I shall not believe it exists."

"That doesn't make any difference to----"

"It makes this difference: It is now twenty minutes to nine. At nine I
shall cast off from the pier. Wind and tide being right, it will not
take me long to get out of the harbor."

"You wouldn't dare!"

"What is there to dare? I fail to see anything."

"Why, confound you! I'd make you smart for it!"

"You couldn't. You have made a lot of bluffing talk about holding a bill
of sale, but I do not take any stock in that till you produce the
document. I have purchased this yacht, and, as long as I believe myself
her rightful owner, I shall do with her as I see fit. At nine o'clock
she sails."

The fellow hesitated, and then snapped out:

"Oh, I can prove to you that I am not lying. I will prove it. Here is
the bill--see for yourself."

He took a number of papers from his pocket, and selected one among them,
which he opened and held before Frank. Merriwell looked the document
over carefully. It was a bill of sale of the yacht _White Wings_ from
Fergus Fearson to Parker Flynn.

"Is your name Parker Flynn?" asked Frank.

"It is."

"And you bought the yacht of Fearson?"

"You bet!" nodded the claimant, triumphantly. "I rather think this
document settles it."

"It does," nodded Frank, quietly. Then he turned to the truckman, and
asked:

"When was Mr. Fearson committed to the asylum?"

"The latter part of May."

"And this bill is dated May 21st. The fellow must have been deranged
then."

"Oh, you can't make that go!" cried Flynn, quickly. "It's no use for
you to try to crawl out of a little hole like that."

"Why have you not claimed the yacht before? Holding this bill, why
didn't you claim it while it was in Benjamin's possession? Answer that
question!"

"I was away--out of the city," faltered Flynn.

"All the time?"

"Most of the time."

"Very well. Here is your bill. I advise you to destroy it without delay,
or it may get you into serious trouble."

"What?" cried the man, angrily. "Destroy it? I'll have that yacht. This
bill gives me the right to it."

"That bill gives you the right to nothing!" came clearly and distinctly
from Merriwell's lips. "Either you have been badly fooled or you are a
rascal trying to obtain property that you have not the slightest claim
upon. It looks as if the latter were the real condition of affairs.
Fergus Fearson is confined in a madhouse, and so he cannot deny that he
ever gave you a bill of sale of this yacht."

"Deny it? Here is his signature!"

"And that may be forgery! I tell you to be careful!"

"It is not forgery! It is genuine! Your bluff will not go, sir! The
yacht is mine, and I will have her."

"Even if the signature is genuine, the bill is not worth the paper it's
written on!" declared Merriwell, with the utmost coolness.

"More bluffing! You are crazy! Why isn't it good?"

"Because it is dated May 21st."

"What of that?"

"The date is exactly four days after John Benjamin purchased and paid
for this yacht, as I can prove by documents in existence. If Fergus
Fearson sold you the _White Wings_ on May 21st, he sold you property
that did not belong to him. That's all, Mr. Flynn."

The claimant of the yacht turned pale and stared at the bill and then at
Frank, who was standing there so coolly before him.

On the deck of the yacht were three boys who had heard the most of the
conversation. Now Hodge exultantly exclaimed:

"That was a body blow! Merry has floored him!"

"That's right," nodded Diamond. "Frank has the best of it, but it did
seem that we were in a scrape."

Flynn gasped for breath.

"I don't believe it!" he cried. "The boat is mine, so don't dare cast
off from this pier."

"The _White Wings_ sails at nine o'clock," said Frank, turning away.

Flynn's face, that had been so pale, flushed and turned purple with
anger. All at once, he lifted his walking stick to bring it down on
Merry's head.

A cry from the boys on the yacht warned Merriwell, who ducked and
dodged--just in time.

Whizz!--the cane cut through the air, but Merry was not touched.

Quick as thought, Frank turned and grappled with Parker Flynn. He
wrenched away the cane, and, with a quick motion, broke it across his
knee. Then, as he coolly tossed it into the water, he said:

"If you try any more funny business, sir, you'll follow your cane."

"Oh, I'll fix you!" Flynn almost screamed. "I'll get a warrant for you!
I'll be back in a hurry! Don't dare leave before I return!"

He dashed away on the run.

"I told you you would have bad luck," said the truckman. "It's begun."

"Oh, I don't know!" laughed Frank. "If Flynn paid money for the yacht,
he is the one in hard luck."

At nine o'clock the _White Wings_ cast off from the pier. Her sails were
hoisted, and, aided by the out-running tide, she soon got away enough to
catch a breeze.

And Parker Flynn had not returned.



CHAPTER IV.

IN THE FOG.


"It's no use, fellows, we can't go any further in this fog to-night,"
said Frank Merriwell on the fourth day after leaving Boston.

"We must go farther!" exclaimed Diamond. "There is no anchorage here."

"How do you know? We haven't tried for it."

"But we are not in a harbor."

"No. We are somewhere near the Whitehead Islands, near the mouth of
Penobscot Bay."

"Well, let's keep on as long as there is a breath of wind. I don't fancy
anchoring here. We might be run down in the night."

"And, if we keep on, the chances are two to one that we'll run onto a
reef or pile up on an island. I had much rather take the chances of
anchoring here and being run down. The wind is dying out, and this fog
is shutting down thicker and thicker."

"Well," said Jack, in a dissatisfied way, "this is your boat and you are
in command. You can do as you like."

"I'll do as the majority believes best."

"Then anchor," grunted Browning. "I don't fancy this prowling about in
the fog."

Hodge was in favor of anchoring, and Hans agreed with them, so Jack was
the only one who felt like going on. He gave up in disgust.

While they were talking the last faint breeze had fallen swiftly, and,
by the time it was definitely decided, the _White Wings_ lay becalmed,
rolling helplessly on the swells that came in from the open sea.

"Shimminy Gristmas!" groaned Hans. "I don't like dot roll up und drop
avay motions. Id makes me feel sick to your stomach."

"You will get enough of that as long as we remain anchored out here,"
said Diamond, unpleasantly.

Frank gave the orders, and down came the sails. A sounding showed they
could anchor without trouble, and then the anchor was cast. The sails
were not reefed, for it was not known when they might be required.
Arrangements were made for raising them on short notice.

Night came down swiftly. Lights were set, but the boys felt that a light
was poor protection for them in that darkness and fog.

"If we are in the course of the steamers we'll be run down," grumbled
Jack.

"There'll have to be a regular watch to-night," declared Frank; "and the
fog horn must be used."

Browning had managed to crawl on deck, and he looked disconsolate and
disgusted.

"This is what they call a life on the ocean wave," he grunted. "Oh, it
is more fun than a minstrel show!"

"We'll have to put up with some discomforts," said Merriwell.

"We made a mistake in coming further east than Portland," put in Jack.
"That was a good place to stop."

"Wait till the sun comes out to-morrow and we run into Rockland Harbor,"
laughed the owner of the _White Wings_. "You will change your tune."

"Well, I hope so."

Hans was given the first watch, and he remained on deck while the others
went below and had supper. At intervals he blew a blast on the horn,
which sounded like some lost animal bellowing in the fog.

Frank laughed and joked, and he succeeded in putting the others in
better spirits after a time. It was comfortable in the cabin, despite
the fog outside.

Hodge made coffee, and the smell of it as it bubbled over the blaze of
the oil stove gave all of them a ravenous feeling of hunger. The little
folding table was let down and spread, and the sight of the food and
smell of the coffee took their minds off the unpleasantness of their
situation.

"It was a foolhardy thing running down here without somebody who knew
the coast," said Jack.

"My dear fellow," smiled Frank, "we have our chart and compass, and I
know a little something about navigation. Quit your worrying. I'll land
you in Rockland to-morrow all right."

"You were going to land us there to-day."

"And so I would had the wind held right and this fog kept off."

"I believe there is a fog factory down this way somewhere," said
Browning.

Hodge announced that supper was ready, and they gathered about the
table. The _White Wings_ was riding on a steady, regular swell, so they
were not shaken up down there, and they found they could eat without
discomfort. Browning was hungry as a bear, and he "pitched into the
spread."

"Well, I don't know as this is too bad after all," he confessed, taking
a third slice of tongue. "We've been in worse places."

"That's right," nodded Hodge. "Pass the sugar. I want a little of this
coffee myself. I made it."

"The coffee is good," acknowledged Jack. "It warms a fellow up. A little
grog wouldn't go bad in a case like this."

"There is no grog on this boat and will not be as long as I own her,"
declared Merriwell. "It's a foolish thing for a lot of fellows on a
cruise like this to think that they must have grog."

"Oh, I didn't suppose you had any on board, Merriwell," said Diamond. "I
know your temperance principles too well to look for anything like
that."

By the time they finished eating all were in much better spirits. No one
but Hans had been troubled with seasickness thus far on the cruise, and
the Dutch boy had not been very sick.

Hans was called down to eat, and Bart took his place while he was below.

"Uf I can haf some of dot coffee id vill done you goot," said the Dutch
lad. "I don'd pelief I vant to ead much. Mein stomach felt like id don'd
been aple to held much uf a loadt. Yaw!"

So Hans drank some coffee and ate a little hard bread, after which he
returned to his duties on deck, having donned a suit of oil clothes.

Frank got out his guitar and put it in tune.

"That's right, Merry," grunted Browning, rolling into his bunk. "Give us
a song to cheer us up."

"What shall I sing?"

"Some of the old college songs."

"They'll make me homesick," said Diamond.

"It's a pleasant thing to feel homesick for Old Yale," murmured Frank.
"Dear Old Yale!"

"Give us 'Stars of the Summer Night,'" urged Hodge.

So Frank sang the song that has sounded beneath the elms at Yale so many
times. It was a beautiful song, and it awakened in the memories of the
listening lads thoughts of the gay times at college, the moonlight
nights, the roistering lads, the lighted windows of the Quad and the
groups gathered at the Fence.

Jack brushed his eyes.

"Don't sing anything more like that," he urged. "Make it something
lively--'Solomon Levi,' or any old thing."

So "Solomon Levi" followed, and they all joined in on the chorus. Other
lively songs were sung, and, by the time Frank put aside the guitar all
were in fairly good spirits.

Merriwell arranged the program of standing watch. Hans was relieved
before they turned in.

All through the night they took turns at standing watch and blowing away
at intervals on the fog horn. And the night passed quickly enough
without event.

When morning came, however, the fog still hung on the surface of the
water. They ate a light breakfast, and Frank fell to walking the deck
impatiently.

"If there was a breeze, this fog would be liable to lift," he said. "It
is disgusting."

After a little a light breeze rose, but it did not clear away the fog
entirely. However, the coming of the sun had some effect on it, and it
was not long before Merry decided to get up anchor and run up the sails.

The anchor was hoisted and the sails set. Frank took the wheel.

During the night the old swell had run out. Frank had studied his chart
till he believed he knew about where they lay, and he set his course by
the compass.

Not ten minutes after getting under way they found they were headed
straight for an island. In their vicinity the fog was not heavy, but out
beyond the island lay a bank of it.

Immediately on sighting the island, Frank changed the course of the
yacht, bringing her almost about. Then he ran out past the island,
headed for the fog bank.

All at once there was a strange sound, a roaring swish of water. Not one
of them was certain which direction the sound came from.

"Vot dot vos?" exclaimed Hans, in alarm.

"Keep still!" ordered Frank.

The sounds grew louder.

Then, all at once, Hans flung up his hands and shouted:

"Reef your rudder, Vrankie! You vos running a sdeampoat ofer us!"

Out of the fog bank, just ahead, came a large side-wheel steamer, headed
straight toward them!

Frank sighted the steamer at the same moment Hans saw it, and he
realized their peril. It was the Boston boat, _City of Bangor_, on its
course up the bay.

In the twinkling of an eye, Merriwell threw the wheel over and over, the
_White Wings_ swung to port, but headed straight across the course of
the great steamer.

Hoo-oo-oot! hoo-oo-oot! hoo-oo-oot! sounded the hoarse warning whistle
from the steamer.

"If you had been whistling through that fog bank all would have been
right," muttered Merriwell, through his set teeth. "Now, if you run me
down, you'll pay for this yacht!"

There was a jangling sound of a bell on board the steamer, and the pilot
in the pilot house was seen to send his wheel spinning over with frantic
haste at the same moment that the headway of the steamer grew less.

"Will she clear us?" cried Hodge.

"She is bound to cut us in two!" shouted Diamond. "There isn't breeze
enough for us to get out of her way!"

"Vere vos der life breserfers?" squawked Hans. "I vant to got me onto a
life-breserfer a hurry in!"

The Dutch lad made a headlong leap for the companion way. At the head of
the steps he stubbed his toe and down he went head first.

It happened that Bruce Browning had heard the commotion on deck, and,
strange to relate, it had aroused him so that he was coming up.

Bruce had just started to go above when Hans came flying through the air
like a huge toad, struck him full and fair, and both went down in a heap
on the cabin floor.

"Dot seddles id!" yelled the frightened Dutch lad. "Der yocht vos
sunkin' und I vos a goner!"

"You blundering Dutch chump!" gasped Bruce, when he could catch his
breath. "What is the matter?"

"Didn't you toldt me der yocht vos sunkin'?" shrieked Hans. "Id haf run
ofer a pig sdeampoat! Uf you kept myseluf drownting from I vill haf to
got oudt und valk ashore!"

Browning managed to get himself together and rise to his feet. Then he
hurried up the companion way and reached the deck just in time to see
the huge white hull of a steamboat looming above the yacht.

But Merriwell's prompt action and steady nerve had saved the _White
Wings_, for the steamer, with motionless paddlewheels, was slipping
past, the yacht having cut square across her course.

It was a close shave, and a few white faces looked over the forward
starboard rail of the huge steamer.

"If you chaps knew your business you would be at anchor instead of
cruising round in this fog," called a hoarse voice from the steamer.

"If you knew your business you would blow your fog whistle while running
through a fog bank," returned Frank Merriwell, promptly.

"That's the stuff, Merry!" grated Hodge, whose face was still pale. "How
do you suppose they happened to do such a thing?"

"Probably that bank of fog is narrow, and they only ran into it a few
minutes ago. Perhaps they did not strike heavy fog till just before they
broke through and came into view."

"Well, it was a piece of reprehensible carelessness, and it's lucky the
_White Wings_ was not cut in two."

As the huge steamer slipped past, the boys saw not many persons were
astir on her. She had made an all-night run from Boston, and the
passengers were still sleeping in their staterooms, with a few
exceptions.

Near the stern of the steamer were two persons in mackintoshes. They
seemed to regard the yacht with interest, not to say excitement, and
their movements attracted the attention of the boys.

One of the passengers clutched the other by the arm and pointed out the
_White Wings_, then both leaned over the rail.

Jack Diamond leaped to Merriwell's side, grasped Merry by the shoulder,
and cried in his ear:

"Look, Merriwell--look!"

"Where?"

"On the steamer there! The two fellows astern!"

"I see them."

"Know them?"

"By Jove! I believe I do!"

"One of them is----"

"Wat Snell!"

"Sure! And the other is----"

"The chap who claimed this yacht--Parker Flynn!"

"Exactly."

"Great Scott! What are they doing on that boat?"

"Following us!"

"Perhaps they are."

"Perhaps! There is no perhaps about it! Of course they are!"

"But Snell and Flynn together--how does that happen?"

"I can't tell that, but they are together, and they are following
us--that's sure. You are not done with Flynn, it seems."

"He will get into trouble if he bothers me any more. I shall not stand
any nonsense from him. As for Wat Snell, all I want is a good chance to
square up with him. I will make him sorry he ever heard of me!"

"That's the talk, Frank!" exclaimed Diamond, approvingly. "Snell will be
easier to dispose of than the other chap, for it is probable that Flynn
believes he can take this boat away from you because he has a right to
it, or he would not be following us."

"He has no right to it, and he will not be able to take it."

"See, Frank! What is the fellow going to---- Look out!"

On the steamer Flynn had been seen to hastily unbutton his mackintosh,
jerk something bright out of his hip pocket and point it toward the
yacht.

It was a revolver.

Jack Diamond realized the desperate fellow's purpose, and he caught hold
of Frank Merriwell and gave him a push that threw him to the deck beside
the wheel.

There was a flash of fire from the revolver, a puff of smoke, and then a
bullet whistled over the yacht, striking the water beyond.

"Well, of all the foolhardy, cowardly tricks, I believe that takes the
premium!" said Frank, as he arose and grasped the wheel again. "That man
is drunk or crazy!"

The moment Flynn fired, Snell took to his heels and scudded out of
sight, disappearing on the other side of the steamer. Flynn hastily put
up his revolver, shook his fist toward the yacht, and then followed
Snell, both of them getting out of the way before anyone, attracted by
the sound of the shot, came aft to investigate.

The big paddlewheels of the steamer were in motion again, and she was
forging on her course, as if nothing had happened.

Frank brought the _White Wings_ round and set his course to follow as
closely as the wind would allow. In a short time the steamer was almost
out of sight in the thin mist that hung over the water where there was
no fog.

Then, at last, Hans Dunnerwust came puffing and stumbling on deck,
fairly loaded down with life-preservers. He fell at the head of the
companion way, and the life-preservers flew all over the deck.

"Put me onto them kvick!" he squealed. "Uf I don'd haf a life breserfer
on ven der yocht sinks you vos a goner!"

The boys laughed at his ludicrous appearance, and he sat up on the deck,
staring around blankly.

"Vere dot sdeampoat vos?" he asked, in astonishment.

"Why, the steamer is a mile away by this time," said Hodge.

"If she had run into us, we'd been at the bottom long before this,"
laughed Frank. "You are too slow, Hans."

"Vale, I done your duty, anyhow," sturdily declared the Dutch boy. "You
don'd got me to makin' no mistake in dot."

Then he was set to gathering up the life preservers and carrying them
below again.

The encounter with the steamer and the desperate action of Parker Flynn
furnished food for conversation on board the yacht. The boys talked it
over and over, and it was the general opinion that the presence of Flynn
and Snell in company on the steamer was not an accident.

"We'll see more of those fellows before long," prophesied Diamond. "And
it strikes me that Flynn is more dangerous than Snell, for he is a
desperate fellow. If he had shot anybody on this boat there was no way
of making it seem an accident. When Snell pushed you in front of the
car he could have sworn it was an accident if the car had killed you.
Look out for Parker Flynn."

"I will," said Merriwell.

It was nearly nine o'clock before they rounded Owl's Head and pointed
into Rockland harbor. The mist still hung on the water, and the outlines
of the city were hidden. Frank, however, felt confident that he was all
right.

"We'll take dinner ashore if you say so, fellows," he said.

"Oh, I don't know," said Jack. "I don't believe these natives down in
this country know how to cook anything fit to eat."

Frank smiled.

"I fancy you have a few notions that will be knocked out of your head
after you have been down this way a short time. You still seem to fancy
you are going into a howling wilderness where there are only savages and
half-civilized white people."

"Perhaps we are," said Jack, by way of being odd. "You don't know
yourself, for this is your first visit down here."

Out through the mist came a tiny steam launch. All at once it was headed
straight toward the _White Wings_.

"She acts as if she is coming for us," said Hodge, scowling.

As the launch came nearer five persons were seen in her. The interest of
the boys increased rapidly, for everything seemed to indicate that she
was making straight for the yacht.

All at once Diamond uttered a cry, turned to Frank and said:

"I knew it! I told you we'd see more of him! See the fellow in the bow
of that launch? It's Parker Flynn!"



CHAPTER V.

A BOARDING PARTY.


"Sure as shooting!" nodded Frank. "He is in a hurry to see me--that's
plain."

"Yes, he couldn't wait till we got into the harbor."

"It's probable he thought we might not come into Rockland after seeing
him on the steamer, and so, as soon as he could get ashore, he hired the
launch to run out and head us off."

"Snell is with him," said Hodge. "Oh, I'd like to get a crack at that
fellow!"

"You may have a chance," smiled Merriwell, coolly.

"How?"

"I don't propose to let those chaps come aboard my yacht unless they
show that they have a right to do so."

"Good for you!" cried Bart, his face growing stern. "I am with you,
Merry!"

"And I!" exclaimed Diamond.

"Vale, I don'd knew but I vos re'dy vor a liddle schraps," observed
Hans.

"Then we will stand by to repel boarders if they try the trick," said
Frank. "Call Browning on deck."

So the big Yale man was called, and he came up in his shirt sleeves. He
was interested immediately the situation was explained to him, and he
seemed well pleased when Frank expressed his intention of preventing the
strangers from boarding without authority.

"This promises to be a real warm morning," he said, with a lazy smile.
"I'm rather glad I'm here."

By this time the launch was close at hand.

"Ahoy the yacht!" called a voice.

"Ay! ay!" called back Merriwell, in true nautical style. "On board the
launch, what's wanted?"

"Lay to. We have business with you."

"Keep off. We haven't time to bother with you."

"Don't act foolish!" was the angry exclamation. "If you do, you will be
sorry!"

"If you bother us without a legal right you will be sorry," flung back
Frank. "We are not to be trifled with this morning."

The launch made a circle and swung round so that she was heading in the
same direction as the yacht.

"If you don't lay to," said the spokesman on board the launch, "we'll
run alongside and board you."

"Try it. You will find the warmest job you ever struck!"

"Why, you will not resist officers of the law?"

"Not if we know the officers have authority."

"Well, we have the authority, so head up into the wind."

"You say you have authority, but I do not even know you are an officer.
In fact, judging by the company you are in, I should take you for
anything else."

There were muttered words on the launch, savage, suppressed oaths and a
stir that was significant.

"They do mean to run alongside and board!" exclaimed Diamond. "Are you
still in for keeping them off, Merry?"

"You bet!" nodded Frank, grimly. "If I decide otherwise, I will give you
the word in time."

Bruce Browning began to roll up his sleeves, baring his brawny arms.
There was a flush on his face and an eager look in his eyes.

"Some of those gentlemen will take a bath this morning," he said.

Both Diamond and Hodge flung aside their coats.

The men on the launch saw these significant movements and could not
misunderstand them. They were surprised by the attitude of the crew of
the _White Wings_.

"You fools!" cried the spokesman of the party, who had a full black
beard. "You will get yourselves jailed if you make any resistance. I am
Sheriff Ulmer, of Rockland!"

"Where is your badge?" demanded Frank. "Show that."

The man who claimed to be the sheriff hesitated.

"He can't do it!" muttered Hodge, triumphantly.

"I have papers to serve on you," said the black-bearded man.

"You can serve them when I come ashore," returned Frank. "I am going
into the harbor, and I shall be ashore in thirty minutes after dropping
anchor."

"But you are on a stolen yacht, and I am here to take possession of it."

"I am not on a stolen yacht, and I do not mean that you shall take
possession of it unless you have the right to do so. This yacht belongs
to me. I bought it and paid for it with good money, and I mean to hold
it. If you really are Sheriff Ulmer, which I am inclined to doubt, you
have been deceived by that rascal in the bow of the launch. He holds a
worthless bill of sale of this boat, which, if it is not a forgery, was
made out by a crazy man who did not own the boat at the time."

"It's a lie!" snarled Flynn. "The bill of sale is all right, and we're
going to take that yacht!"

"You will have to fight for her, if you do!"

"If you fight, you fool, you will go to jail. There is a first-class
jail in Rockland, too."

"I'll take my chances of going to jail. Keep off! This is a fair
warning."

By this time the launch was close to the yacht, and the faces of all the
persons in the small boat could be seen and studied. Wat Snell was
pale, and it was plain he did not relish his position. With the fellow
who claimed to be sheriff was a hang-dog looking chap who looked like a
fighter. The man who was running the launch acted as if he had no
intention of taking any part in the fight, if one should occur. It was
plain he had been hired to set the others on board the _White Wings_,
and he did not mean to do anything more than that.

"Hans!" called Frank, "take the wheel and hold her steady as she is. You
will get out of the scrimmage, and I want to have a hand in that."

Hans took the wheel, and Frank prepared to take a hand in the repulse if
the enemy tried to board.

The man in the launch who had claimed to be sheriff stood up and waved
his clinched fist above his head.

"In the name of the law, I command you to surrender!" he shouted.

"Show your authority," calmly returned Merriwell.

"Here it is--the bill of sale of that yacht."

"That is no authority. Do you think you can bluff us because we are
young? You will find you have made a big mistake."

"Board them!" cried Flynn. "Take the yacht! That is the only way to do
it!"

"You will find that is a mighty hard way to do it!" grated Bart Hodge.
"Come on, Snell! I want to get at you!"

The launch ran alongside the yacht, and the man with the fellow who
claimed to be the sheriff caught the rail of the _White Wings_ with a
boat hook.

"Come on!" roared the black-whiskered chap.

"Stand by to repel boarders!" rang out Frank's clear voice.



CHAPTER VI.

THE STRUGGLE FOR THE YACHT.


The big man with the whiskers was the first to make an attempt to reach
the deck of the yacht. He gave a leap that landed him on the rail. Then
Bruce Browning picked him up and tossed him back into the launch.

The man was surprised, but he made another rush to get onto the _White
Wings_.

In the meantime Parker Flynn had tried to get aboard, but had been
struck on the jaw by Merriwell's hard fist and knocked back into the
launch.

Snell started to climb over the rail of the yacht, but tumbled back of
his own accord when Hodge made a rush for him.

The hang-dog-appearing chap was the spryest man on the launch. With a
catlike leap, he cleared the rail of the _White Wings_ and reached the
deck. He found himself face to face with Jack Diamond, and a second
later they clinched.

"You are not wanted here!" exclaimed Jack.

"But I'm going to stay here!" said the other.

Diamond was strong and smart, but he found his hands full. Had he not
taken the chap at a slight disadvantage in getting the first hold, the
stranger would have been his master. As it was, they slipped and
staggered about the deck, the stranger struggling to break Jack's hold.

In his excitement, Hans failed to hold the yacht steadily on her course,
as Frank had directed, and suddenly she swung, so the main boom swept
across the deck. It struck Diamond's antagonist on the back of the head
and stunned him for a moment. That moment was long enough for Jack to
lift him and drop him over into the launch.

Hans sent over the wheel and brought the yacht back, so the boom swung
out of the way, but his negligence had aided Diamond to a large extent.

On falling back into the boat, Snell had scrambled up and stood snarling
at Hodge, who was urging him to come within reach.

"Oh, I do want to get my hands on you!" said Bart. "I'll give you
something to remember me by, you sneaking cur!"

"You are a sneak yourself!" cried Snell, "or you would not be hanging
around with Frank Merriwell after he licked you and got the best of you
in everything you did!"

"It is a compliment to be called a sneak by you, you coward! Come up
here! Let me give you a black eye!"

But Snell kept just out of reach, although he made several bluff
attempts to board the _White Wings_.

Probably the most astonished man was the big fellow with the black
whiskers. He realized that Browning had handled him easily and
carelessly, but still it did not seem possible that the rather fleshy,
smooth-faced chap could have much strength, large as he was.

"Better stay down there," advised Bruce. "Next time I shall throw you
farther."

"Next time you won't throw me at all!" came from the professed sheriff,
as he made another spring for the yacht.

It seemed that Bruce caught him on the fly. Now the big fellow was fully
aroused, and he swung the stranger over his head and gave him a terrific
heave.

The man whirled through the air, passed clean over the launch, struck
the water beyond and disappeared from view.

At that very moment Frank Merriwell got another crack at Parker Flynn,
who had not learned his lesson by his first experience, and again tried
to board.

Smack!--the blow sounded, and, with a groan, Flynn dropped down into the
launch.

The man who was running the launch seemed satisfied, for he suddenly let
go with the boat hook, and the yacht swung away from her foe.

The self-styled sheriff came to the surface and was pulled aboard the
launch. The ducking seemed to have taken the spirit out of him. He
glared at the yacht, but all his eagerness to board her seemed gone.
Parker Flynn sat up and swore, holding onto his aching jaw. He had not
realized that there was a set of fighters on board the _White Wings_,
although Wat Snell had warned him to that effect. Now he realized that
the yacht could not easily be captured in the manner in which he had
attempted to accomplish the feat.

The meeting of Flynn and Snell came about in this way. Snell, on finding
Frank and his friends were in Boston, had played the spy on the party.
He followed them to the pier the morning they went aboard the _White
Wings_, and he saw the encounter between Frank and Flynn. When Flynn
left the pier, Snell followed and spoke to him. After that it did not
take Wat long to work into the good graces of Flynn.

Infuriated by his failure to obtain possession of the yacht, Flynn
proceeded to get drunk and stay so. On the second day of his spree, he
determined to pursue Merriwell and take the yacht by force, if it could
not be obtained in any other manner. Then he hunted up Snell, and it was
not hard to induce Wat to accompany him.

Flynn knew the "poker gang" in Rockland, and he knew there were a few
desperate fellows among those who made up the gang. He had "dropped his
roll" in Rockland once when he struck the town with an idea in his head
that he was "getting against a lot of jays," and on that occasion he
became friendly with Peter McSwatt and Hunk Gardman. Gardman did not
belong in Rockland, but he came in frequently from an adjoining town to
play poker. He was a crook and a sneak, and he showed it in his face.
McSwatt was not quite as "smooth" as Gardman; he could not "handle the
cards" as well, but he could sit in a game with Gardman and play what
his crooked pal dealt him, so that, after every game, there was usually
an ill-gotten pot to be divided. If there was any trouble, McSwatt did
the fighting.

Flynn telephoned McSwatt and told him when he would be in Rockland,
asking to be met at the boat by McSwatt and a good man who would stand
by in a scrap. He ended by saying there was good money in it, and his
offered inducements led McSwatt and Gardman to be on hand at the time
set.

Flynn was still under the influence of liquor. Had it been otherwise, he
would not have fired at the _White Wings_ from the deck of the _City of
Bangor_.

On arriving in Rockland, he found his chosen tools waiting for him, and
he explained that the yacht _White Wings_ had been stolen from him. To
convince McSwatt and Gardman, he showed the bill of sale which he held.
He explained that he could not afford the time to recover the boat by
regular process of law, and said that it would be an easy thing to take
it from the boys who were on board. He showed money and paid his tools
something in advance. A few drinks of liquor put them in the mood for
almost anything, and then the steam launch was hired to go out in search
of the _White Wings_, as Flynn feared the yacht might not come into
Rockland at all.

The owner of the launch was convinced that Flynn really owned the yacht,
and had a right to take her by force if necessary, but he did not agree
to have anything to do with the seizing of the boat further than
putting the party alongside.

Snell had warned Flynn that the party on the _White Wings_ was made up
of fighters, but the man sneered at them as a lot of boys. It was not
believed that there would be any real difficulty in obtaining possession
of the yacht, but it was thought best that McSwatt should claim to be an
officer.

Thus it came about that the _White Wings_ was met by the steam launch as
she headed into Rockland harbor. But the crew on board the launch met
with the surprise of their lives, and they were thoroughly disgusted
when they were beaten off without much difficulty.

The two cracks Frank had given Flynn knocked some of the conceit and
bravado out of him, and for some time after the yacht and the launch
swung apart he sat still and swore.

McSwatt was not in a pleasant mood as he wrung the water out of his
clothes. He glared at Flynn and snarled:

"Thought you said they were a lot of boys who could be scared out of
their skins! Boys! Why, they are young devils! The fellow I went against
is a regular Samson!"

"They're in a bad scrape now," said Flynn, with an attempt at
fierceness. "They have resisted the rightful owner of that yacht, and
they shall smart for it."

"That's all right, but they might have been fooled in a different way.
Here they are running right into the harbor, and they will stop there.
We might have watched till the most of them went ashore, and then we
could have taken her easily."

"How did I know they would run in here? They might have kept on up the
bay. And I didn't suppose a lot of beardless chaps could put up such a
scrap."

"Well, we have done all you asked of us, and we want our pay."

"Done! You haven't done anything! I hired you to help me take the
yacht."

"And misrepresented the case to us. You will pay me, or I'll chuck you
overboard!"

There was a glare in McSwatt's eyes that cowed Flynn.

"Oh, we mustn't quarrel," he quickly said. "Of course, I will pay you,
as I agreed."

"I thought so."

"And I will double the sum if you stand by me a while longer. I tell you
I can't fool with those chaps--I can't waste time. I must get possession
of my boat at once."

"Well, if you are thinking of attempting to board her again, you'll have
to get somebody in my place. I have had enough of that kind of work."

Flynn saw that McSwatt meant it.

"All right," he growled. "We'll stay out and keep watch of her till she
drops anchor. I want to be sure they mean to stop here."

So the launch cruised about, keeping in sight of the _White Wings_ till
the yacht ran slowly into the harbor and let fall her anchor in the
vicinity of half a dozen other pleasure yachts laying near together.



CHAPTER VII.

ARRESTED IN ROCKLAND.


There were some indignant lads on board the _White Wings_.

"A regular case of piracy!" declared Diamond. "If we had not been too
much for that gang, they would have seized the boat."

"Sure," nodded Hodge, whose eyes were gleaming, while his breast, across
which his arms were folded, rose and fell with excitement.

"We handled them too easy," grunted Browning. "It would have served them
right if we had split the skull of every man who tried to come over our
rail."

"Der pig poom come britty near sblitting der skull uf one," grinned
Hans. "You pet dot chap half a swelt head on me."

Frank had returned to the wheel. He did not say much, but his cheeks
were flushed with excitement and his lips were pressed together.

"Remember what the truckman told you, Merry?" questioned Diamond.

"What was that?"

"Why, about this boat being hoodooed."

"Yes."

"It begins to look as if he was right."

"Oh, I don't know."

"Well, if this hasn't been a hoodoo cruise from Boston, I don't know a
thing!"

"It has been rather eventful," admitted Frank, his face relaxing
somewhat.

"Uf you vos lookin' oxcitement for, we haf found him," put in Hans.

"Those chaps are keeping watch of us now," said Frank. "I suppose they
think of trying the trick again."

"Don't believe they will," said Hodge. "We'll be in the harbor pretty
soon, and they won't dare make another attempt like that."

As they ran in the mist lifted and vanished, and they saw the city
stretched before them. To the north was the breakwater that protects the
harbor, and away in the distance loomed some mountains.

"What are those hills there?" asked Diamond.

"Those are the famous Camden mountains," answered Frank. "The town lies
at the foot of those mountains, and Thomas Wentworth Higginson says the
scenery in the vicinity of Camden is the most varied and beautiful to be
found anywhere in the world."

"Are we going to stop at Camden?"

"Well, that is on the program. We'll run up there to-morrow."

They anchored near the other yachts and vessels, purposely running into
the very midst of them.

"As long as one of us stays on board, those chaps will not attempt to
seize the yacht by force while we remain here," said Merriwell.

"Don't be too sure of that," warned Hodge. "They are desperate
characters, and there is no telling what they will try."

They watched the launch run into a wharf and saw the party leave her.
Not one of the baffled boarders remained in the vicinity, but all
quickly disappeared.

"I believe they are afraid of the consequences now," said Merry. "They
are getting out of the way in a hurry."

It was not long before the others were of the same opinion. However,
Frank was not certain but this movement on the part of the enemy was a
ruse to lull their suspicions.

"Three of us will remain on the yacht," he said. "Jack and I are going
ashore."

"How?" asked Diamond. "We have no boat, and we are anchored off here in
the bay."

"I am going to buy a boat here. I think we can get one of the boats from
some of these vessels to set us ashore."

The nearest vessel was hailed, and it did not take long to get a sailor
with a boat to come over to the yacht and take Frank and Jack off. He
rowed them to the steamboat wharf, and would not take a cent for doing
so.

"All right, mates," he said, in a hearty way. "I'll want a turn
sometime, perhaps." Then, after telling them that, if they did not get a
boat, they could whistle him up and he would bring them off to their
yacht, he rowed away.

There were a number of truck teams about the wharf, loading with the
freight left there that morning by the steamer. Frank inquired of one of
the truckmen where to find a man who would sell them a first-class
rowboat, and the truckman directed him to a man who had boats to let and
to sell.

This man the boys sought without delay, but he was not at his shop. They
were told that he had gone uptown, and so they walked up Sea Street into
the heart of the city.

As they came out on Main Street, Diamond halted with an exclamation of
astonishment.

"Great Scott!" burst from his lips. "Is this real?"

"Is what real?" asked Frank.

"Do I really see a trolley car running along the street here, or am I
dreaming?"

"Oh, come along!" laughed Frank. "They have trolley cars down in this
country, and I don't think it looks quite as wild and uncivilized as you
expected."

They entered the Thorndike Hotel together, and, just as they passed
through the door, Frank suddenly clutched his friend's arm, giving a
gasp of astonishment himself.

Jack saw Merry was staring toward the flight of stairs. He looked up,
and there on the stairs, descending toward them, were two girls, Inza
Burrage and Paula Benjamin!

Merriwell recovered his composure immediately and stepped forward to
meet the girls at the foot of the stairs, accompanied by Diamond. The
boys lifted their hats, and Frank said:

"Another unexpected pleasure! We didn't dream of this. Supposed you were
in Bar Harbor."

The girls shook hands with them, and both seemed to show confusion.

"It is a pleasure," declared Inza. "We are stopping here in Rockland a
few days."

Frank longed to ask questions, but he knew it would be an act of
rudeness, and he refrained. However, Paula seemed to think that Inza's
explanation was not sufficient, and she added:

"Yes, we decided to stop off here a day, and we are so interested with
the city and the surrounding country that we will remain a little
longer."

"That will be pleasant," said Frank. "We've just got in, and are rather
salty now, but we mean to brace up and get some of the brine out of us.
Perhaps we may have the pleasure of seeing you often while we remain
here."

"I hope we may," put in Jack, quickly, looking earnestly at Paula, who
let her eyes droop before his gaze.

"I am sure it will be agreeable to us," smiled Inza. "Tell us something
about your voyage. Did you have a nice time?"

"Nice isn't any name for it," laughed Frank.

"That's right," nodded Jack; "it isn't."

"We have encountered excitements galore."

"Such as fogs and storms and steamboats and pirates."

"Mercy! Pirates!"

"Well, they attempted to board us and seize the yacht."

"What did you do?"

"We gave them a jolly good welcome."

A uniformed policeman entered the hotel and stepped up to the boys.

"Which one of you is Frank Merriwell?" he asked.

"I am, sir," said Frank.

"Then," said the officer, "I shall have to take you."

"Take me?" cried Frank. "What do you mean?"

"I mean that you are under arrest."



CHAPTER VIII.

A STIR IN LIMEROCK CITY.


Both girls uttered a little cry of amazement and alarm, and Paula shrank
close to Inza, clasping her about the waist.

"Under arrest?" repeated Frank, slowly. "For what?"

"Stealing a yacht and resisting the real owner when he attempted to
regain possession of it."

Merry laughed heartily.

"This is a joke!" he exclaimed.

The officer seemed puzzled, but he frowned at Frank, saying:

"You are not likely to find it a joke, young man. It is a serious
offense, and, if you have not some rich folks who will settle handsomely
for your little lark, you will go to jail."

"My dear sir," said Merriwell, with perfect coolness, "you are taking
too much for granted. You are standing on the ground that the charge
against me is true. It will be the easiest thing in the world to prove
that it is not."

"You will have to prove that to the judge," said the officer, with his
hand on Frank's shoulder. "Just now you'll have to accompany me. If you
resist or make any trouble, it will be worse for you."

He produced handcuffs.

"What do you mean to do?" hoarsely demanded Diamond, his eyes bulging.
"You're not going to handcuff him?"

"It is necessary. I am not taking any chances. A chap who will steal a
yacht is liable to be pretty desperate."

"I will go along with you quietly," said Frank, paling a bit at the
thought of being led shackled through the streets. "I give you my word
on that."

"It's an outrage!" cried Diamond.

"I advise you to keep still," said the officer, sternly. "You may be
arrested as an accomplice."

"I don't care if I am!" came fiercely from Jack's lips. "I say it is an
outrage, and I will stand by it. Mr. Merriwell purchased the yacht and
paid his money for it, as he can prove. He is the rightful owner of the
boat."

"I am not going to discuss that."

The officer was about to put the irons on Frank, when Jack cut in with:

"Have a little decency about this, Mr. Officer. If you believe this
young man such a desperate fellow, call an assistant. Surely two of you
ought to be able to take him to the lockup without handcuffing him."

The policeman was angry, and Frank saw that what Jack was saying was not
making things any better, so he asked his friend to be quiet. Then he
said something in a low tone to the officer. The latter hesitated.

"Put yourself in my place," said Frank. "You are not sure this charge is
true. Think how you would feel to be dragged along the street with irons
on your wrists when you had not been guilty of committing a crime."

"And he tells you the truth, sir, when he says he bought the yacht,"
broke in Inza, fearlessly. "I know it! He purchased it of my friend's
brother."

"That is true," spoke up Paula, with sudden braveness. "My brother sold
him the yacht. He never stole it! Why, he is Frank Merriwell, of Yale,
and everybody knows Frank Merriwell would not steal anything."

She was startled by her own boldness, but her words brought about a good
result.

Of course, the arrest of Frank had attracted the attention of all who
were in the office of the hotel, among whom were several commercial men.
One of the latter stepped forward quickly.

"Frank Merriwell, of Yale?" he exclaimed. "Is this the famous Yale
pitcher? By Jove, it is! I have seen him pitch several games, but I
didn't know him in this yachting suit. Mr. Merriwell, I am glad to see
you, but sorry you are in trouble. However, if I can aid you in any way,
you may count on me."

"Thank you," said Frank. "It's pleasant to know I am not quite unknown
and friendless down here."

"Unknown!" exclaimed another man. "If you are Frank Merriwell, we all
know about you. We have read about you in the papers. You are the best
known college man in this country. Officer, I don't believe this young
gentleman is either a thief or a desperado. If he says he will go along
with you, I'll vouch for him."

"If you say so, Mr. Franch----"

"I do. I will be responsible for him."

The officer put his handcuffs out of sight.

"All right," he said. "Come along, young man."

By this time the report had gone abroad that there had been an arrest in
the Thorndike, and a crowd was gathering outside the door. In the crowd
were a number of excited small boys, for they had heard that the person
arrested was the famous Yale football and baseball player, Frank
Merriwell.

One of the boys in the crowd saw a friend on the opposite side of the
street, and yelled:

"Hey, Charley, get a wiggle on an' come over here! W'at yer t'ink! Ther
cop has nabbed that feller we've been readin' about--Frank Merriwell!"

"Aw! w'at yer givin' us!" flung back the other.

"This ain't no fust of April!"

"It's dead straight, Charley! Frank Merriwell is right here in ther
Thorndike, an' Old Briggs has pinched him. Don't yer want ter see him?"

"Don't I?" gasped the one across the street, as he bolted from the
sidewalk. "I'd rudder see Frank Merriwell than have a season ticket to
der ball games!"

And he could not get over quick enough.

By the time the officer was ready to bring Frank out of the hotel, all
the men and boys outside knew who had been arrested, and the excitement
was great. The crowd grew swiftly, and everybody was eager to get a look
at the Yale athlete of whom they had heard such wonderful stories.

The young men of the town were no less excited than the boys. There was
scarcely one of them who did not know something about Frank Merriwell
and his record, and, even before they could find out why he had been
arrested, they denounced the arrest as an outrage.

Another policeman came along and attempted to clear the sidewalk in
front of the hotel, but the crowd did not want to disperse.

The officer who had arrested Frank came out with Merriwell at his side,
a hand on his arm.

"There he is!" was the cry that went up. "That is Frank Merriwell!"

Jack Diamond, who walked beside Frank, was amazed at the crowd and to
hear them call Frank's name.

"They know you, Merriwell," he said.

"It seems so," said Frank, with a faint smile.

"It's a shame!" cried one of the young men. "What's he arrested for?"

"Don't know," admitted another; "but I'll bet my clothes he is all
right! Frank Merriwell is on the level!"

"That's so!" shouted twenty voices.

The crowd followed the officer and his prisoner. Somebody proposed a
cheer for Frank Merriwell, and it seemed that every human being in that
following crowd cheered as loudly as he could.

Then somebody proposed three groans for Old Briggs, the officer, and the
crowd groaned in a most dismal manner.

Some of the small boys grew so excited that they kept yelling at Briggs
to let Frank go. But they were scarcely less excited than the lads of
eighteen or twenty. A dozen of them got together and actually talked of
taking Briggs' prisoner from him. In their enthusiasm they might have
tried it, but for the coolness of one or two among them.

"It's a blamed shame to have this thing happen in Rockland!" declared
one fellow. "What will Merriwell think of us? He will be dead sore on
this town."

"He isn't a fool," said a cooler head. "If he is all right, it isn't
likely that any harm will come to him. He can't blame Briggs for doing
his duty if there is a warrant for his arrest."

So Frank was marched away to the lockup, but his arrest had created more
excitement in the city than any other event since the opening game of
baseball in the Knox County League, July Fourth.

Frank was locked in a cell. Jack did not leave him till the door had
closed on his friend.

The boys had found out that the warrant for Frank's arrest was sworn out
by Parker Flynn.

"He shall pay dearly for this piece of business!" muttered the young
Virginian, as he left the lockup.

The crowd that still lingered in front of the building stared at Jack.
They had seen him with Merriwell, and they knew he must be one of
Frank's particular friends. The small boys envied him for that very
reason.

Diamond had learned that Merriwell would have a hearing before a local
judge at two o'clock that afternoon, and he resolved to do whatever he
could for his friend before that time.

But Diamond had not left Frank thirty minutes before there were two
visitors to see the prisoner. They were admitted by the guard, and
Merriwell was staggered when he saw the face of one of them.

"Jack Benjamin?" he cried. "It can't be!"

"But it is," declared the little fellow, as he grasped Merry's hand and
shook it warmly.

"But--but----"

"You're astonished--exactly. I don't wonder. Folks at home think me on
the way to Alaska. The governor thinks so. As long as he thinks that, he
won't interfere with my little outing down this way."

"But the deception--I don't understand it."

"Expect I'd better make a clean breast to you," said Benjamin, blushing
in a remarkable manner. "You see, it's this way: Last year at Newport I
met a young lady on whom I got badly smashed. She's a star,
Merriwell--she's the only one for me! But the old man--excuse me--the
governor objected, said I was too young to know my mind, and all that
rot. He found out the girl's folks were not very rich, and then he set
about raising the high dinkey-dink with everything. Well, the result was
that he did smash things for a time. This summer, when I wanted to spend
my vacation down in Maine, he sat down on it hard. You see, he did so
because the young lady lives here in Rockland. I was forced to give up
the idea--apparently. But I began to talk about Alaska. Then I sold you
the _White Wings_ to get enough money for my summer outing, left word
that I was off for Alaska, and came down here. That's the whole of it.
Here I am."

"Then I understand how it happens your sister and Inza are stopping in
Rockland. She knows you are here."

"Sure. Sis is all right. She sticks by me."

Thus far Frank had paid no attention to his second visitor, but now the
fellow stepped forward, saying:

"Howdy-do, Merriwell. I suppose you know me?"

"What?" cried Frank, grasping the extended hand. "Is it Fred Moslof, of
Dartmouth? What are you doing down here? I haven't seen you since our
opening game last spring, when you spoiled two daisy hits for me by
digging them out of the dirt down around third bag."

Moslof laughed.

"I am playing ball down here this summer," he said.

"Well, that is a surprise. Are you playing on the Rockland team?"

"No, I am manager of the Camdens. As soon as Benjamin told me you were
here, we came right up. I played with Rockland last summer, and I know
stacks of influential men in both Rockland and Camden. I'll fix this
matter of bail for you and get you out of here in a hurry, if you like."

"Well, that is kind of you," smiled Frank, "and I appreciate it. I shall
be glad to accept your offer, old man."

"Then it is settled," said Benjamin. "Moslof can do the trick. It may
take an hour or two to fix it, but we'll see that it's done. Just make
yourself easy."

When they departed, they left Frank in good spirits, for he knew he
could easily refute the charge of stealing the yacht, for Benjamin was
there in Rockland to substantiate his statements. Merriwell was resolved
to settle that matter and then make it very warm for Mr. Parker Flynn.

It took something more than an hour for Moslof and Benjamin to fix
things, but they finally returned to the lockup, accompanied by an
officer with an order for Frank's release.

Merriwell told them all about Flynn's attempt to obtain possession of
the yacht by force, and then he accompanied them to the office of a
justice of the peace, where he swore out a warrant against Flynn and saw
it placed in the hands of an officer to be served.

"We'll give that gentleman the surprise of his life," smiled Benjamin.
"He won't expect to see me down here. If he had not thought me on my way
to Alaska, he would not have dared attempt such a high-handed
proceeding."

Moslof said that he must return to Camden. He had come down to confer
with the Rockland and Thomaston managers about the schedule, and he had
finished his business. At parting he said:

"Look here, Merriwell, can't you pitch one or two games for us, if no
more. Camden has a better team than Rockland, but Rockland is stronger
in the box. We started out with a lead the first of the season, but
we've been dropping games to Rockland right along lately, and we won't
be in it if the thing keeps on. I have telegraphed and telephoned all
over the country for a strong pitcher, but I haven't got hold of the
right man. You'd be just the man for us. Why, you would paralyze
Rockland with that double-shoot of yours."

"Well, old man," said Frank, "I hate to refuse you anything after what
you have done, but you know I want no part in professional baseball."

"This is only semi-professional. Part of our team are not under salary,
and nearly all are college players."

"I might get myself into trouble if I pitched, Moslof. I can't promise."

"Well, promise me that you will pitch for Camden if you pitch at all in
the Knox County League."

"I'll do that," smiled Merry; "but you must not expect me to pitch at
all."

Moslof was forced to be satisfied with that. At least, he knew Rockland
would not secure Merriwell, and that was some satisfaction, as he had
heard rumors that the Rockland management meant to have the famous Yale
twirler, if he was to be procured for love or money.

Frank accompanied Benjamin back to the Thorndike, where he was received
with great delight by Inza, Paula and Inza's aunt, Miss Abigail Gale.

"I didn't dare tell you Jack was here when we first met," said Paula;
"but when that horrid policeman took you away, I just hurried to let him
know what had happened. He said he would have you out all right in a
short time."

"Well, he kept his word, and now I am after the fellow who put this job
up on me. I have sworn out a warrant for his arrest, and he will find
himself in my place before night."

Frank remained at the hotel thirty minutes chatting with the girls and
Miss Gale, and then he said that he must return to the yacht and let his
friends know he was all right.

On his way to the wharf, Frank called at the shop of the boat builder
again, and found the man in. He was pleased to learn that the man had
two boats for sale, both of which were in the water.

After looking the boats over, Merry made a bargain for one of them and
paid for it. Then he got into the boat, rowed out round the wharf and
pulled away for the yacht.

As he approached the yacht, Hans came on deck, saw him and raised a
shout that brought the others up in a hurry. All were astonished and
delighted to see Frank. Jack had been there and told them what had
happened; then he had hurried away to see if he could do anything for
Merriwell.

Frank told them the story of his release, and, as it was midday, he
stayed on board to eat a hearty meal. While they were eating, Jack
returned, having been taken to the yacht by a boatman he had hired.

"Knew you must be here!" cried the Virginian. "I was making a hustle to
get you out when I heard you were out already. Why, I never saw a place
like this, Frank! Everybody in town has heard of you, and everybody was
furious over your arrest. Why, this is a great country, boys! I'm stuck
on it already. The people down here are all right!"

"Not quite such jays and hayseeds as you thought, eh?" smiled Frank.

"I tell you they are all right! They are not jays at all!"

After dinner the boys left Browning and Dunnerwust on the yacht to guard
it and then went ashore. Barely had Frank appeared in the city before
the manager of the Rockland baseball team fell on him and offered him
all sorts of inducements to pitch for his nine. But it was no use, for
Merry had given Moslof his promise.

Frank expected to hear that Flynn had been arrested. Instead, he learned
that neither Flynn nor Snell could be found, so the warrant had not been
served.

It was supposed that Flynn would be on hand when court was called to
order that afternoon, but he did not appear, and so the charge against
Frank was dismissed, as there was no one to push it.

Later it was learned that in some way Flynn had learned that Jack
Benjamin was in Rockland. As soon as he heard this, he made all haste to
get out of the place, taking an electric car to Camden, where he had
disappeared as completely as if wiped off the face of the earth.

"But I do not believe you have heard or seen the last of the fellow,
Merriwell," said Hodge. "He will bother you again."

Bart's words were destined to come true.



CHAPTER IX.

ALONG THE COAST TO CAMDEN.


    "Nellie was a sailor's lass--a sailor's lass was she,
      (Heave ho, my lads, then heave away!)
    Waiting for her sailor lad, who sailed the deep blue sea.
      (Heave ho, my lads, then heave away!)"

Three lads were getting up the anchor on board the _White Wings_, which
lay in Rockland harbor, on the coast of Maine, and they sang a nautical
song as they pulled at the cable. They were Bart Hodge, Jack Diamond and
Hans Dunnerwust. Frank Merriwell was busy making other preparations for
the run up to Camden that glorious summer morning, while Bruce Browning
was doing something below, no one knew what.

"Holdt on a vile till you spit on my handts," exclaimed the Dutch lad,
breathing heavily. "I vant to got a petter holdt mit my feet to kept
from slipping der rail ofer und der varter indo. I vas glad you don'd af
to bull ub anchors to make me a lifings."

"Keep at it, Hans," ordered Hodge.

"You remind me of the Irishman who caught his friend by the heels just
as the friend was falling headlong into a well," said Diamond, as he
continued to pull away.

"How vas dot?" asked Hans.

"He held on as long as he could," said Jack, "and then he called down to
his friend, 'Jist wait a minute where yez are, Mike, till Oi let go an'
get a betther hold.' Then he let go."

"Yaw," said Hans, soberly; "but I don'd seen der boint der story of."

"His friend couldn't wait," explained Jack.

Frank Merriwell laughed. Never before had he heard the Virginian tell a
humorous anecdote, and he was not a little surprised as well as pleased,
for it showed that Jack, who had grumbled a great deal during the
unlucky and unpleasant cruise down the coast, was in better spirits now
they were at last in the waters of Penobscot Bay.

The anchor broke water and was soon secured in place. Already the jib
had been raised, and Frank was at the wheel to bring the yacht round as
soon as she felt the breeze after the anchor was atrip. Every indication
was that there was just breeze enough outside the harbor to give them a
pleasant sail to their destination.

Under Frank's orders the boys set sail, hoisting both the jib topsails
and club topsails; in fact, cracking on every stitch. Hans grew weary
again before the mainsail was up.

"Get hold of the halyards and get into gear, Dunnerwust," ordered Bart,
sharply. "You are getting to be as bad as Browning, and he is no earthly
use on the water."

"Hey?" grunted the big fellow, his head appearing as he came up from
below. "Well, what's the use of being any earthly use on the water?
What's the matter with you, Hodge?"

"The matter with you is that you need something for that tired feeling,"
returned Bart, like a flash. "If you would get out and make a bluff at
pulling on a line now and then, it would seem rather more decent."

"I never make any bluffs. Everything is on the level with me. I'm not
much of a sailor, but I'm pretty good at repelling boarders, ducking
bogus sheriffs and such things. Don't worry about me. Just go ahead
getting under way. I'll be with you."

Then he calmly watched them get all the sails set, as if he did not
consider it necessary for him to lend a hand, and as if he had no idea
of doing so on any condition if he could avoid it.

Browning was lazy, and he knew it. He made no attempt to conceal the
fact; really, he almost seemed to glory in it. At college he was
familiarly called, "the Laziest Man on Earth," and it pleased rather
than disturbed him.

Ordinarily a lazy man is despised by his companions, but such was not
the case with Browning. Genial, big-hearted, strong as a giant, yet
gentle as a baby, he made hosts of friends and very few enemies. At one
time he had been really ambitious, but that was before the coming of
Frank Merriwell to Yale. Browning had been dropped to Merriwell's class
and, as there could be but one real leader in the class, he lost his
ambition when Merriwell showed his superiority.

But no man had proved a truer friend to Merriwell than the once famous
"King of the Sophomores." Browning was not particularly demonstrative in
his affection, but he could be depended on in any case of emergency, as
Frank had learned, and the big fellow was a good man to have for a
backer.

Browning could not be driven to do anything, nor could he be jollied
into it, a fact that irritated Hodge more or less.

"There is one thing we do not possess that we should have," said Merry,
as Jack came aft and stood near the wheel.

"What's that?"

"A gun."

"Why, you have four or five below."

"I don't mean that kind. We need a small cannon to fire when we anchor
and when we get under way. We are not doing the thing properly unless we
have one."

"I never thought of that."

"I did not think of it till it was too late to get one in Boston. We'll
have to get along for the present without it."

They ran past the end of the breakwater and were opposite the Bay Point
Hotel, a handsome summer hotel near the city of Rockland. Outside the
harbor they found a breeze that made the _White Wings_ heel over and
take a bone in her teeth.

Although the sloop was not in the racing class, Frank was well satisfied
with her, for he had discovered that she possessed many good qualities.
She could be held pretty near to the wind without yawing and she was not
at all cranky, nor did she require much weather helm. Of course, she
could not run as near to the wind as a cutter-rigged yacht of the racing
class, but she could do better than the ordinary cutter.

The wind was off shore and favorable, so the _White Wings_ seemed to fly
that morning. The boys found comfortable positions and enjoyed the sail
and the scenery.

Soon Rockland was left behind, disappearing from view behind the point
on which the hotel sat. And then the Camden mountains began to loom
higher and higher to the northwest.

"We met a warm reception in Rockland," said Frank. "I wonder how it will
be in Camden."

The sunshine was bright on the blue bay. The distant islands looked
inviting, and there was something about the cool greenness of the woods
along the shore that was soothing to the eye.

It was not long before Rockport lighthouse came into view. Beyond the
lighthouse they saw the narrow harbor and the village, with the houses
seeming to cling to the heights that surrounded the harbor. From the
limekilns rose black smoke that added to the picturesque charm of the
scene.

But Rockport was quickly passed and Negro Island, at the mouth of Camden
harbor, was before them. There was a lighthouse on the island, standing
there like an old woman in a white dress and black cap.

Now the mountains, seeming to rise from the very sea, were near at hand
and strikingly beautiful, clothed in their summer garments of green. On
the top of the nearest mountain stood a hotel with a high observation
tower.

"Boys," cried Diamond, "I am going up there and stop a week!"

"I wonder how anybody ever gets up there," grunted Browning. "I shall
not go if I have to climb."

"No need to tell us that," said Hodge. "We knew it."

As they came abreast Negro Island, two girls came down on the rocks and
waved handkerchiefs to them. The boys returned the salute, and Hans
Dunnerwust cried:

"Vale, uf I ain'd got a mash you vos a liar! Uf id vasn't for gettin' my
feets vet, I vould valk ashore righd avay kveek alretty. Yaw!"

Then he waved his cap to the girls, kissed his hands, bowed low with his
hand on his heart, and nearly fell overboard as Merry suddenly brought
the yacht up closer into the wind.

"Oxcuse me uf I stayed righd in Camden der rest uf your life," said
Hans, as he gathered himself up. "Dalk apout peaches! Vale, vot peen der
madder mit dose!"

The others smiled at his enthusiasm.

Passing the island, they came in full view of the harbor and town.
Several vessels and yachts lay in the harbor. Amid the trees the tastily
painted, red-roofed cottages were to be seen. Far up at the head of the
harbor rose handsome brick buildings. Church spires could be seen here
and there. From the flagstaff of a hotel on the heights floated the
American flag. On the black rocks under the shadow of the trees that
stood far above the shore was a picnic party, the blue smoke of their
fire rising from their midst. To the south of the town lay a beautiful
cove with a sandy beach. Summer cottages could be seen on the point
beyond the cove. To the north of the town was another cove and a heavily
wooded point. In an opening of the trees on this point stood white
tents.

And over all hung the mountains, the village seeming to have clambered
up the side of the nearest one as far as it could go.

It was a most beautiful and captivating scene that glorious summer
morning, and it is not strange that stoical Bart Hodge uttered an
exclamation of admiration, while Frank Merriwell cried:

"Hurrah, fellows! Here we are, and from the looks of things we'll stay a
while. There looms old Mount Megunticook, and here in the harbor, under
its shadow, we will anchor. Boys, aren't you glad you came?"

"You bet?" cried every one of them.



CHAPTER X.

TOO WELL KNOWN.


Taking care not to strike one of the line of ledges that almost closes
the mouth of Camden harbor, they ran in and dropped anchor. From the
rocks the picnickers waved white handkerchiefs and called to them. They
responded in a similar manner, with a strange lightness and exultant
feeling in their hearts. Even Bruce Browning showed enthusiasm, for he
could not help imbibing some of the spirit of the occasion.

The sails came down with a rattle and were properly and carefully taken
care of, a task that consumed time. Then every line was coiled and put
in its proper place, and nothing was neglected, so that when Frank's
orders had been obeyed, everything about the yacht was ship-shape and in
order.

Not till he had seen things in order did Frank think of leaving the
sloop. Then he asked who would stay on board and who wished to go
ashore. Diamond and Hodge were eager to go ashore. Browning and
Dunnerwust expressed a willingness to go later, so three of the crew
entered the small boat and pulled away up toward the distant wharves at
the head of the harbor.

They rowed up to a float beside a wharf. Twenty other boats floated
about the platform, and a boy was watching them.

"May we land here?" asked Frank.

"Well, I dunno," said the boy, doubtfully. "Ye see, these bo'ts are to
let. Might let yourn if some folks come along an' wanted it."

The boy grinned as he finished speaking.

"We might come back and want our boat only to find it gone," said Hodge.
"Let's not leave it here, Merriwell."

The boy gave a jump.

"What's your name?" he almost shouted, looking straight at Frank.

"It's Frank Merriwell," was the reply.

"Frank Merriwell!" yelled the boy, dancing up and down. "Whoop! I heard
you was in Rockland! My goodness! won't the fellers be tickled to see
you in this town! There ain't a chap here that don't know all about ye!
Jest you let me have yer painter! I'll take care of that bo't, an' there
don't nobody touch it, you bet!"

"Thank you," laughed Frank. "I will pay you for your trouble."

"Not by a jugful! Think I'd take any pay of you? No, sir-ee! I'd set
right here on this float an' watch your bo't for a week 'thout eatin' or
sleepin', an' never charge you a cent! I never 'spected to live to see
Frank Merriwell! Oh, Jingoes! won't the fellers be glad to see ye!"

The boy took charge of the boat. Just then another boy came onto the
wharf, and the boat boy saw him.

"Hey, there, Bennie!" he yelled. "What d'yer know? You can't guess it in
a year! He's come!"

"Who's come?"

"Frank Merriwell! Here he is!"

The jaw of the boy on the wharf dropped, and he stood staring,
open-mouthed at Frank. For some moments he seemed awe stricken, and
then, of a sudden, he turned and ran as if for his life, quickly
scudding out of sight.

"He acted as if he were scared of you, Merry," said Diamond.

"He's gone to tell t'other fellers in town," explained the boat boy.

"Say," laughed Frank, "this is getting altogether too interesting! I'd
rather not be so well known."

"Well, you can't help it," said Hodge. "They've all heard of you down
this way."

"And I had an idea they never heard of anything away down here!"
exclaimed Jack. "My ideas of this part of the country are completely
upset."

"Let's hurry into town," urged Frank. "If we wait, it's ten to one we'll
be escorted by a gang of my admirers. I haven't forgotten Rockland."

So they left the wharf and hastily walked up Bay View Street. Just as
they reached the bank building at the public square they saw a dozen
small boys coming down Elm Street on the run, headed by the one who had
disappeared so suddenly from the wharf.

The moment the running boys saw Merriwell and his companions, they
halted and huddled around the leader, who pointed at the three strangers
in the place, yelling:

"There he is, fellers!"

Frank laughed outright, and Hodge and Diamond smiled. The excitement of
the boys had attracted more or less notice, and the people on the
streets looked at the three young yachtsmen with interest.

It was the height of the season at Camden, and the town was literally
gorged with summer visitors from every part of the country, so the
streets presented a lively appearance. The handsome turnouts of
Philadelphia and New York millionaires could be seen, street cars were
running, bicycles darting hither and thither, and the pedestrians on the
streets nearly all wore clothes suitable for summer outing.

After coming up Bay View Street, which, in the neighborhood of the
wharves, did not present a very attractive appearance, the young
yachtsmen were surprised and pleased to come out to the square, where
they could look around and see handsome brick blocks and buildings of
which a city might be proud.

But the crowd of excited small boys attracted attention for the time.
They came a little nearer, and the leader cried:

"Let's give three cheers for Frank Merriwell! Ready, now! Yell, fellers,
yell!"

They did! They threw up their hands, tossed their caps into the air, and
yelled as loudly as they could.

"Great Scott!" gasped Frank. "See what they have done! Why, everybody on
the street is staring at us!"

It was true. The spectators had been attracted by the shrill cheers of
the small boys, and they were looking toward the three embarrassed lads
on the corner by the bank.

A man who was passing stopped and asked one of the boys why they were
cheering so loudly.

"See that handsome feller there with the lace on his suit?" asked the
boy, pointing Frank out.

"Yes, I see him."

"That's Frank Merriwell," declared the boy, excitedly and proudly.

"Frank Merriwell?" repeated the man, doubtfully. "Who is he?"

"W'at?" yelled the boy, voice and face expressing the greatest amazement
and scorn. "Didn't ye never hear of Frank Merriwell? Wat's ther matter
with yer? Why don't you go die!"

His contempt was crushing and humiliating, and the man passed on,
wondering who in the world Frank Merriwell could be that he was so well
known and famous.

But there were plenty of men and youths who had heard of Merriwell, and
the report that the great Yale pitcher was in town flew like wildfire.
Only the small boys stared at Frank with absolute rudeness, however.
Those older looked at him with interest, but were careful not to make
their attentions embarrassing.

Merry and his friends walked up into the village, going toward the post
office. There were pretty girls on the street, and some of them flashed
a brief, admiring glance at the trio of handsome lads in yachting suits.

The small boys trooped along behind, talking excitedly among themselves.
Their chatter was amusing to hear.

"Look here, Jimmy," cried one, in fierce contradiction of a statement
made by another, "that ain't so, an' you oughter know it! Harvard never
got fourteen hits offen Frank Merriwell in one game!"

"Fourteen hits!" yelled another, in derision. "W'at yer givin' us,
Jimmy! They never got ten hits offen him in one game! You better go read
up about him! You're woozy, that's w'at's ther matter with you!"

"That double-shoot of his is w'at paralyzes 'em," put in another. "He
can make ther ball cut all kinds of riggers in the air."

"That's all right," said Jimmy, sullenly. "Slatridge sez ther ain't no
such thing as a double-shoot. He says that 'riginated in ther mind of
some of them newspaper fellers w'at's writin' up stories 'bout Frank
Merriwell."

Then there was a howl of scorn from all the others, and one shook a
finger under Jimmy's nose, shouting:

"Slatridge knows it all--in his mind! That feller's too tired to play
baseball. He can pitch sometimes, but he don't git woke up only when he
thinks he's likely to lose his job. Don't you take stock in ev'rything
he says."

"Fellers," said a tall, solemn-looking boy, out at knees and elbows,
"I'd give a hundred thousan' dollars to see Frank Merriwell pitch
against Rockland an' use his double-shoot on 'em."

"I'd give more'n that to see it, if I jest had the price of admission
ter git inter ther game," declared a barefooted boy.

"Why don't Moslof nail him?" fiercely demanded a freckle-faced
youngster. "If I was manager of the Camdens, I wouldn't let Frank
Merriwell go away alive if he wouldn't play ball for me! I bet Rockland
will have him if Moslof don't git him."

"If Rockland gits him, Camden might jest as well crawl right into the
smallest hole she can find, and pull the hole in after her. She won't
never win another game."

The most of this talk could be distinctly heard by Frank and his
friends, and it proved very amusing.

In the window of the drug store near the post office hung a printed
poster announcing a game of ball in Camden that afternoon between
Rockland and Camden. The bill also stated that Rockland and Camden were
tied for first place in the Knox County League, so that the result of
one game would put one or the other team at the head.

"We'll have to see that game, fellows," said Frank. "It is evident that
there is plenty of baseball excitement down in this part of the
country."

At this moment two young men came down from the rooms of the Business
Men's Association in the Opera House building, and Frank uttered an
exclamation of satisfaction.

"There are two Dartmouth men, boys," he said; "Moslof and McDornick.
Moslof is managing the Camdens and playing third. Let's go over and see
them."

They walked over to meet the Dartmouth men.



CHAPTER XI.

FALSE REPORTS.


Moslof seized Frank's hand and shook it heartily.

"That Rockland affair didn't amount to anything, after all, did it?" he
asked.

"No," said Merry; "the chap who caused my arrest skipped out when he
learned that Jack Benjamin, the man I bought the yacht of, was in
Rockland. He didn't stay to press the complaint of theft. He thought
Benjamin had gone to Alaska. It must have been a frightful shock to him.
You've met Diamond? Yes. Let me introduce Bart Hodge."

"Hodge!" cried Moslof. "You caught for Merriwell this season? Jove! but
you made a record for a freshman! I am glad to know you, Hodge."

They shook hands, and Moslof said:

"Here is McDornick, our left fielder, the biggest little crank on earth
and the best base runner in the Knox County League, if I do say so! We
need more of them, too."

McDornick shook hands all round, spluttered a little about the "beastly
luck" the Camdens had been having, and ended by swearing that Camden
would "wipe up the earth" with Rockland before the season was over. He
was very vehement in his expressions.

"We've been awfully weak in the box," said Moslof. "Bascomb, of the
University of Maine, is a good little man, but he has had poor luck
against the Rocklands. That's the trouble with our pitchers. They are
all right against Thomaston, but they do not work to advantage against
Rockland, and I'll swear that Thomaston has the heaviest batting team."

"If often works that way," said Frank.

"But the worst of it is," Moslof went on, "Rockland has a pitcher who is
a hoodoo for Camden. He is pie for Thomaston, but he makes monkeys of
our men."

"Who is he?"

"Dayguild, late of the New England League. Rockland has found out that
he can play thunder with Camden, and they hold him back for us all the
time. They don't care about Thomaston; it's Camden they want to beat."

"How is it with Camden?"

"Well," laughed Moslof, "to tell the truth, the feeling is just as
strong up there. We'd give our boots to down Rockland, and we don't care
so much about Thomaston. I played with Rockland last year. They used me
well down there, but said I couldn't bat any. That made me mad. This
year for the first two weeks of our season I led the league in batting.
I am falling off a little, but still I am ahead of the average. They are
beginning to change their mind down there about my batting."

"Well," said Merry, "we are going to see your game this afternoon. I
suppose it will be pretty hot?"

"Hot! You bet! I expect Woods and Makune, of the disbanded Portlands,
here by noon. We have Williamson, of the Lewistons, but he has been ill
and is not in the best form. We're going to do our best to take the lead
again to-day. Woods is a dandy little pitcher and a fine fellow."

"But if we had you, Merriwell, we'd be all right," said McDornick. "Say,
old man, won't you pitch for us this afternoon? Makune will cover
second, and we can put Woods anywhere. With you in the box, we can
paralyze Rockland."

Frank shook his head.

"It's no use," he said. "I can't play with you."

"I hope the stories that fellow has been telling about you are not
true," said Moslof, slowly.

"What stories?"

"Why, he's been saying that Rockland had secured you sure--that you came
down into Maine on purpose to pitch for Rockland. When I told him you
had given me your word to pitch for Camden if you pitched at all, he
laughed in my face, and said I was easily fooled. He swore that he knew
for an absolute fact that you had signed with Rockland."

As Frank listened to this, he flushed and then turned pale. There came a
dangerous fire into his eyes, and he laughed in a manner that was a
danger signal for those who knew him best.

"Moslof," he said, "you must know these reports are lies. You must know
I can't sign a contract, as that would bar me from college baseball."

"I didn't believe it," said the manager of the Camdens; "but there are
plenty who did, and the men who are backing the club here are sore on me
for letting you get away after helping you out of that scrape in
Rockland. If Rockland got you now, I'd jump this town in a hurry."

"Don't let that worry you a bit, old man. I said I would pitch for
Camden if I pitched at all, and I rather think I am known as a man of my
word."

Moslof seemed relieved.

"Oh, say!" exclaimed McDormick, impulsively, "just pitch this game for
us this afternoon! We'll sink the knife deep into Rockland!"

"I hate to refuse," said Frank; "but I must. What I want to know is, who
this fellow is who has been telling that Rockland had me."

"Oh, he is a fly chap who is stopping at the Bay View--a summer
boarder."

"What does he look like?"

"He's a loud dresser--wears plaids, pink shirts, lots of rings, loud
neckties, and so forth."

"What's he look like in the face? How old is he?"

"He may be nineteen. His eyes are set near together, and he is freckled
and foxy looking."

"He's a sneak!" broke out McDornick, in his impulsive way. "I knew it
the first time I saw him."

"Where is the Bay View?" asked Merriwell.

"Right there," answered Moslof, motioning toward a large building
sitting back on the opposite side of the street.

"This fellow is stopping there?"

"Yes."

"What is his name?"

"Don't know."

"Let's go over. I want to see that gentleman. I hope we may find him
around the hotel."

"If you'll punch him, I'll pay your fine!" said the hot-headed
McDornick, as they crossed the street.

While they had been talking in front of the opera house, a small boy was
standing near them, his hands clasped and an ecstatic look of happiness
on his face, while his eyes were not taken off Frank Merriwell for a
moment. When Frank had started to cross the street with the others, the
boy heaved a sigh.

A gentleman who was passing stopped and looked at the boy in surprise.

"Well, my little man," said the gentleman, "what is the trouble? You
look as if you had seen a vision."

"I've jest seen somebody I never thought I'd see," said the boy. "Oh,
I'd like to grow up and be famous like him! It must be fine to be
famous."

"My boy," said the gentleman, encouragingly, "if you live you may be a
great man some day."

"I can't never be like the feller I've just seen."

"Why, who could this wonderful person have been? I didn't know there was
such a famous man stopping in Camden at present. Was it the governor of
the State?"

"Naw! Somebody bigger'n him!"

"A United States Senator, perhaps?"

"Senators ain't in it with this feller!"

"Really! You surprise and interest me. It could not have been the
President of the United States?"

"Bigger feller than the Prince of Wales! Oh, if I could grow up to be
like him!"

"Now I am astounded!" exclaimed the gentleman. "Who can this wonderful
person be? Won't you tell me his name?"

"His name is Frank Merriwell, and he is a lollypolooser! He's the most
wonderful feller living in the whole world."

"Frank Merriwell?" repeated the gentleman, in perplexity. "It's strange
I never heard of him. What has he ever done?"

"Done?" cried the boy, excitedly and enthusiastically. "What ain't he
done? He's traveled round the world, shot panthers and Greasers in South
America, gorillas in Africa, tigers in India, elephants in Ceylon, and
bears and other critters out West in this country. Done? Why, he made a
bicycle trip across the country from New York to San Francisco, and he
licked everybody that tried to bother him on the way. Done? Mister, he
goes to Yale College, and he is the greatest football player in the
world! He pitches on the Yale nine, and he wiped up the earth with
Harvard and Princeton this spring. Done? If there's a thing that feller
ain't done an' can't do, I want ter know it!"

The gentleman was gasping for breath.

"Really!" he said, "a most remarkable person! And you want to grow up
and be like him?"

"If I thought I could--if I ever did, I'd die happy!"

"Strange I never heard of this person before. I don't believe he is very
well known."

"Now, don't fool yourself, mister. He's known by every boy in the United
States! We've all heard of him, and all the boys down in this town would
give anything to be like him. I tell you he is a bird!"

"Where is he now?"

"He's just gone over to the Bay View with Moslof and some other
fellers."

"Really, I believe I'll have to go over and see what this wonderful
person looks like," and the gentleman crossed the street toward the
hotel.

In the meantime Frank and his companions entered the hotel in search of
the person who had been circulating the false reports about Merriwell.

The report that Merriwell was in town had reached the hotel, and no
sooner had the boys entered the office than the landlord came forward
and greeted them heartily. Moslof introduced Merry and his two friends.

The landlord proved to be a cordial, pleasant gentleman.

"Mr. Merriwell," he said, "you have caused me no end of trouble."

"I have?" exclaimed Frank, astonished.

"Yes."

"How is that?"

"Well, there isn't a table girl, a kitchen girl or any other girl in
this house who does not know all about you. They read those yarns about
you so much that they neglect their business. And, Mr. Merriwell," with
sudden sternness, "I think you will have to settle with me for it."

"All right," smiled Frank. "What is the bill?"

"There is no bill. I mean you have to settle at this hotel and stay here
while you are in town. There will be no bill. You shall have the best
the house affords, and it shall not cost you a red cent."

Frank was surprised, but he thanked the genial landlord, saying:

"Really, sir, you are too kind, but we have everything comfortable on my
yacht, and the fellows would not like it if I deserted them."

"Then bring them all here! I'm crowded, but I'll find room for you, if I
have to give up a room myself."

He was in earnest, too.

Frank thanked him warmly once more, but exclaimed that such a thing
would not do, as the _White Wings_ might be stolen by the party who had
attempted to seize her in the very mouth of Rockland harbor.

While they were talking, a very pretty, roguish-eyed girl came into the
office, making an excuse that she was there on some sort of an errand.
She cast sly glances at Frank, for really she was there to see him.

Of a sudden the landlord, laughing, caught her by the arm, and drew her
round, saying:

"Here, Mr. Merriwell, is your greatest admirer in the house, Miss Phebe
Macey. I heard her say once that she thought Frank Merriwell the finest
fellow in the world, and she wondered why some of the Camden boys were
not like him."

Frank was a little confused, but he lifted his cap and bowed, saying:

"Miss Macey, I am glad to know I have such an ardent admirer here."

Phebe was blushing crimson, but the roguish look was still in her eyes.
Never in all her life had she looked prettier than in that moment of
excitement and confusion. She lifted her hand and felt it grasped by
Frank, and then, in dismay, she turned and fled, laughing to cover her
agitation. She quickly disappeared, but her laugh rang in Merriwell's
ears, for it was quite as bewitching as her roguish eyes.

The landlord seemed to enjoy the agitation he had caused the girl, and
he laughed again. In fact, he was quite a man to laugh.

He urged Frank to remain to dinner, and Merry finally consented,
although Jack and Bart, who were likewise invited, decided to return to
the yacht.

While they were talking, Moslof suddenly grasped Merriwell's arm, saying
in his ear:

"Here's the fellow you want to see."

He turned Frank toward a person who had just entered the office. In a
moment Merry advanced toward that person, confronted him, and sternly
said:

"So, sir, having failed to injure me in other ways, you have been lying
about me! Well, it's quite like you, Snell!"

"Merriwell?" gasped the other, recoiling and turning pale. "The
dickens!"

Frank and his old foe, Wat Snell, were again face to face.



CHAPTER XII.

SNELL IS FIRED.


"So it's that sneak who has been telling yarns!" grated Bart Hodge. "I
hope Merriwell will smash him!"

"If he doesn't, I will!" muttered Jack Diamond. "I thought we had seen
the last of him when we left Fardale."

"I hoped so," confessed Hodge.

"But I can't have a fight here," said the landlord, firmly. "It won't
do."

He seemed on the point of interfering between Frank and Wat, but Hodge
said:

"A word to Merriwell is enough, Mr. Drayben. He will be careful not to
cause you any trouble."

Mr. Drayben saw that Merriwell was holding himself in reserve, and he
felt a sudden curiosity to know what would pass between the enemies who
had met there in his hotel, so he did not speak to Frank at once.

"Where is your fine friend, Mr. Parker Flynn, who you aided in your
piratical attempt to seize my yacht?" asked Frank.

Snell swallowed down a lump in his throat and made an effort to recover
his composure.

"The yacht belongs to Mr. Flynn," he said, huskily, his voice betraying
his craven spirit.

"You know better than that! If so, why didn't Flynn remain in Rockland
and push the case against me? Why did he suddenly take to his heels when
he learned that Benjamin, from whom I bought the _White Wings_, was in
Rockland?"

"Business called him back to Boston," faltered Snell.

"And business called you out of Rockland in a hurry, too. But you
stopped too soon. It would have been better for you if you had kept on
going."

Snell understood Merriwell's meaning and he quailed before the flashing
eyes of the boy he had slandered.

"Oh, you can't scare me with your threats!" he declared, in a weak
manner. "I'm not afraid of you, Mr. Frank Merriwell."

"If you had kept still about me," said Frank, "I should not have known
you were in this town, but you tried to hurt me in a mean, contemptible
manner, and I found you out."

"Never tried to hurt you in any manner."

"How about the lies you have been circulating concerning me?"

"I don't know what you mean."

"Yes, you do."

"I swear I do not."

"You have been telling that I have signed a contract with Rockland."

"Well, haven't you?"

"You know I have not! You know I would not do such a thing for any
money, as it would disqualify me for the Yale team. But I fancy I see
through your crooked game. You thought I might pitch for Rockland
because you knew they would offer me more money than Camden possibly
could. You judged me by yourself, and you knew you would sell yourself
to do anything for money. You sought to turn the college men here
against me, so they would carry back the report to their colleges that I
had played for money under a signed contract. Then I would be debarred
from the Yale team, and your revenge would be complete. Oh, I can read
you, Snell--I know the workings of your evil mind! You are wholly
crooked and wholly contemptible. What you deserve is a good coat of tar
and feathers!"

Frank's plain words had drawn a crowd about them, and Drayben saw it
would not do not to interfere, as the talk could be heard in the
parlors.

"This will have to stop," he said, firmly. "I can't have any more of it
in my hotel."

"He is to blame for it all," whined Snell.

The landlord gave him a look of contempt.

"I do not blame him for anything," he declared. "I know you have told
the stories he claims. My only wonder is that he did not knock you down
on sight."

"I might have done so," said Frank, "but was ashamed to soil my hands on
the fellow."

At this, thinking he was not in danger of immediate personal violence,
Snell became suddenly bold.

"That is well enough to tell," he said; "but no one will believe it. You
will find that you can't crowd me, Mr. Merriwell."

"I don't want to crowd you, but I want you to keep your mouth closed as
far as I am concerned. If you try to circulate any more lies about me, I
shall forget that you are a whining cur, without a spark of courage in
your whole body, and I shall give you the drubbing you deserve."

"Bah!" cried Snell.

"As I have discovered the sort of a person you are," said Mr. Drayben,
quietly but sternly, "I do not care to keep you in my hotel another
hour."

"What?" gasped Snell. "What do you mean?"

"I mean that you are to pack up and get out at once."

"But you can't turn me out in that manner. This is a public house, and
you have no right to turn me out like that!"

"I have the right to refuse to keep rascals and crooks in my house,
sir. It is my duty to protect my guests by turning out such persons when
their true character is discovered. You will get out as soon as you
can."

"Do--do--do you dare call me a rascal and a crook?" gurgled Snell. "Take
care, sir!" shaking his finger at the landlord. "My father is a rich
man. He is at the head of the Yokohama and Manhattan Tea Company, Mr.
Drayben, and he will make you regret it if you turn me out of your old
hotel!"

"I don't care if your father is the Mikado of Japan or the Mayor of New
York!" came from the landlord, who flushed with anger when Snell shook a
finger at him; "you will get out of this house in a hurry, just the
same."

"You can't turn me out till after dinner!"

"Can't I? We'll see about that!"

"But it's almost dinner time now."

"That makes no difference. You can't eat another meal here. Settle and
git!"

It was a terrible humiliation for Snell, but he found there was no
appeal, and he was forced to settle his bill, pack his traveling bag,
and leave the hotel without his dinner.

"I have not liked the appearance of the fellow from the start," said Mr.
Drayben. "He talked too much. If he stayed in the house another week, he
would have driven away some of my best guests. You have done me a favor,
Mr. Merriwell, by giving me an excuse for getting rid of him."

"He's a revengeful sneak," said Frank. "He'll try to get even with me
some way."

Jack and Bart decided it was time for them to return to the yacht, and
so they left Merriwell at the hotel, surrounded by several members of
the Camden ball team, who had come in to see him.

Moslof introduced Frank to the members of the team as they appeared,
and Merry shook hands with Slatridge and Putbury, the principal battery
of the nine, two men who were red-headed, freckled, slow of movement,
slow of speech, and who looked so much alike that in their uniforms one
was often mistaken for the other. Cogern, the center fielder of the
team, was another big fellow, who was said to be a terrific batter,
being valuable for that very reason. Williamson proved to be tall and
thin, but "Pop" had a reputation as a pitcher and a hitter. On account
of his illness he had not been able to pitch since joining the Camdens,
and so he was covering first base. Mower was a professional, and a good
man when he attended to business. He played short. Bascomb, a little
fellow, with a swagger and a grin that showed some very poor teeth, was
change pitcher with Slatridge.

Frank looked the men over. They were a clean-looking set of ball
players, and he was favorably impressed with them.

"Why, you seem to have a strong team here," he said to Moslof. "I
fancied by what I heard down in Rockland that you had a lot of farmers."

"They know better than that!" exclaimed the manager of the Camdens,
flushing. "We gave them a shock by winning from them in our opening
game. They thought they had a snap. They have been hustling since then,
but we held the lead for a long time. Now we are tied with them for
first place, and this game to-day decides who holds the position. If
Woods and Makune arrive on the twelve o'clock car, we'll try to give
Rockland a surprise this afternoon."

"Woods is a pitcher, isn't he?"

"He is, and he's a good man, too, but his arm is not in the best
condition. He hurt it a few weeks ago, and it hasn't got back yet. All
the same, he says he will pitch for us this afternoon--telephoned me to
that effect. He's on the level, and he wouldn't want to pitch if he
didn't think he could win."

"Then I don't see why you want anything of me," smiled Frank.

"Woods can play any position," said Moslof, quickly. "With you in the
box, we'd have the strongest nine ever seen in this State."

"You have started my baseball blood to boiling," laughed Merry; "but I
think I'll keep my head cool and not play."

At this moment some one announced that the twelve o'clock car was
coming, and all hurried out to see if Woods and Makune were on it.

They were. They were met by Moslof, who shook hands with them and then
introduced them to Merriwell.

"What?" exclaimed Makune. "Frank Merriwell, the Yale man?"

"The same," confessed Frank.

"Why, Portland tried to get you two weeks ago, but couldn't get track of
you. Moslof, you did a good trick when you nailed Merriwell."

"But I haven't nailed him," said the manager of the Camdens. "I've tried
every way possible to get him. He is stopping here on his own yacht."

Woods did not seem to be much of a talker, but when he shook hands with
Merry, many in the crowd noticed a strong resemblance between them.
Merriwell was the taller and darker. Woods was very quiet in his manner,
and he impressed the observer favorably at a glance. He had the air of a
gentleman, even though he was a professional ball player.

That day Woods, Makune, Moslof and Merriwell dined together at the Bay
View, and Frank told himself that never had he met a pleasanter set of
fellows. There was something about Woods that drew Merry to him in a
most remarkable manner. Frank had not known him an hour before he felt
as if they were old friends.

"Do you think you can win from Rockland this afternoon, Walter?" asked
Moslof.

"I can try," said Woods, quietly.

"Win!" exclaimed Makune. "Why, he is sure to win! If you have the team
you say you have, we'll eat Rockland."

"How's your arm, Walter?" asked Moslof.

"I think it's all right," assured Woods.

"All right!" cried Makune. "Of course it's all right! Never was better.
You didn't hurt it much, anyway, Walt."

"Yes, I did," declared Woods, truthfully. "I thought I had killed it,
and I reckoned that my ball playing days were over. I didn't care much,
either. If it hadn't been for you, Makune, I'd quit, anyway."

"Oh, you're too sensitive!" chuckled Makune. "You see, gentlemen, Walter
doesn't drink a drop, doesn't smoke, chew or swear, won't play cards for
money--in fact, hasn't a single vice. The fellows jolly him about it,
and it makes him sore."

Frank's sympathy was with Woods at once.

After dinner Woods and Makune went to their rooms to change their
clothes, and Merry went out to stroll through the town.

Frank found himself stared at in a manner that was rather embarrassing.
In the candy store opposite the Bay View were a number of girls who
seemed to be watching for him to appear. They did not try to flirt with
him, but it was obvious that everyone of them was "just dying" for a
fair look at him.

Frank walked down through town and strolled up onto High Street as far
as the handsome stone mansion known as "Villa Norembega." Here he was at
the very base of the mountains, and he could look out over the harbor
and the bay. The view was the most beautiful his eyes had ever rested
upon, and he stood there gazing upon it for a long time. Down in the
harbor, amid the other yachts, the _White Wings_ lay at anchor, and his
keen eyes could detect figures moving about on her deck.

"Jingoes!" thought Merry. "This is a lovely spot. I wonder more people
do not come here during summer. There can't be anything more beautiful
at Bar Harbor."

He walked back into town, and, on the corner near Wiley's market, he met
McDornick and Cogern, who were in their ball suits. He paused to chat
with them a moment.

"We'll have a mob up from Rockland this afternoon," said Cogern. "They
know we've got Woods and Makune."

"Perhaps they won't come for that very reason," said McDornick. "They
may not want to see their team beaten. We'll give them fits to-day."

"Baseball is something you can't depend on," said Frank, warningly.
"Don't be too sure of winning. I have seen a strong team lose just
because it was too confident."

"If we had you this afternoon we couldn't lose," declared Cogern.

"That is not certain," smiled Merry; "but I guess you are all right,
anyway."

"Here comes the two o'clock car from Rockland," said McDornick. "Wonder
if it brought up any rooters?"

The car was coming down around the curve, the motorman letting it run
without power, as the grade was rather steep there.

Of a sudden, Cogern uttered a cry, and Frank heard a sound that caused
him to whirl about instantly.

On the track directly in front of the oncoming car, a young girl had
fallen from her bicycle. She seemed to be stunned, and the car was
rushing upon her swiftly, although the frantic motorman was banging the
gong and twisting away at the brake with all his strength.

Cries of horror went up from twenty persons who witnessed the downfall
of the girl, for it looked as if the car must pass directly over her.

Quick as thought Frank Merriwell sprang to save the imperiled girl. Two
panther-like bounds took him to the car track, and he stooped to lift
her.

Again there were cries of horror, for it seemed that the car must knock
him down, and that two lives instead of one would be crushed out beneath
the wheels. Women on the street turned their heads away that they might
not witness the awful tragedy.

It did not seem that Frank paused in his rush, although he stooped,
caught hold of the girl, lifted her and bore her on. He snatched her up
in a manner that utterly bewildered every person who witnessed the act,
and then, as the car seemed sure to strike him, with one of those
wonderful leaps, he cleared the track, holding the girl in his arms.

He felt the car brush his elbow, but that was all. He was not harmed,
and the girl was safe in his arms, although her wheel was crushed
beneath the wheels of the car.

People came rushing toward them from all directions, but Frank did not
mind them at that moment. He looked down at the pale face of the panting
girl.

"Miss Macey!" he exclaimed.

It was the pretty, roguish-eyed girl to whom he had been introduced by
Landlord Drayben.

"You are not hurt, are you?" he asked.

"No," she faintly whispered, a bit of color coming back to her face;
"but you saved me from being killed, Mr. Merriwell."

"Well," Frank was forced to confess, "I think I did get you away just in
time."

"My bicycle----"

"Smashed."

"Oh, I'm so sorry! But I'd rather it would be that than myself. Thank
you, Mr. Merriwell."

"I am happy to do so much for you. My only regret is that I was not able
to save your wheel, too."

"You did all you could," she said, a bit of the roguish light coming
back to her eyes. "I didn't suppose you would do so much for me, a
stranger."

"I'm always ready to do anything in my power for a pretty girl," said
Merry, softly, with laughing seriousness.

"Then pitch for the Camdens this afternoon," murmured Phebe. "Will you?"

Frank was thrown into consternation, for he saw he was trapped.

"It's too late now," he said. "Moslof has decided to pitch Woods. If
asked again to pitch, I'll do it."

By this time they were surrounded by the crowd. A dozen men were asking
Phebe if she were hurt, or were loudly praising Merriwell for his prompt
action in going to her rescue.

"Let me escort you to the hotel," said Frank. "I will return and see
about your broken wheel."

"If you will be so kind," she murmured.

Then, with her clinging to his arm, they walked toward the hotel. It
seemed that two hundred persons knew what had happened. A score of girls
saw Phebe Macey clinging to Frank's arm, and even though she had lost
her bicycle beneath the wheels of the car, she was envied by them all.



CHAPTER XIII.

QUICK WORK.


A steady stream of men, women, boys and girls were pouring in at the
entrance of the Camden ball ground, which lay in a most picturesque
location directly at the foot of the mountains. It was plain that the
greatest crowd of the season had turned out to witness the struggle
which should place either Rockland or Camden at the head of the Knox
County League.

The grand stand filled rapidly. It was a hot afternoon, but there was a
draught through the grand stand, so that the upper seats were
comfortable. Beyond the dusty diamond the green woods looked cool and
inviting.

The ball ground was on an elevated spot, from which a view of the
village and bay could be obtained. Winding through the distant line of
woods the river might be seen. Away to the west loomed a range of purple
mountains.

Dressed in their scarlet uniforms, the Camdens were on the field
practicing. Although Bascomb was going to be on the bench that
afternoon, he was warming up as if he expected to go into the box. He
had cast aside cap and sweater, and was pitching all kinds of shoots to
a young chap he had found willing to catch him. Woods was batting to the
infield, but somebody was needed to give the outfield some work.
Merriwell was called for by McDornick.

Frank was leaning on the rail down near the peanut stand, Diamond,
Hodge, Browning and Dunnerwust being with him. The entire party had left
the yacht to witness the game of ball, but the _White Wings_ was being
watched by a young man on another yacht that lay near her.

"Where's Frank Merriwell?" cried McDornick from the field. "Let him
knock out some sky scrapers for us."

Moslof asked Merriwell to bat some to the outfield, and so Frank tossed
aside his yachting jacket and advanced toward the plate.

There was a sudden burst of applause from the grand stand and it went
all round the ground, bringing a hot flush to Merry's face.

"I wish they wouldn't do that!" he muttered.

Surely he was a handsome-looking fellow in his yachting suit. He
selected a bat, and then, without any apparent effort, drove out a high
liner for Cogern in deep center. He gave the fielders all the work they
wanted.

"Here come the Rocklands!"

A great crowd was coming up the road, in the van of which could be seen
the boys in gray from the Limerock City. The Rockland rooters had not
been frightened away by the report that Woods and Makune would play with
Camden. They were coming in a body to whoop and yell and growl for their
team--yes, to fight for it, if necessary.

They poured into the ground. All the available standing room was taken,
and the crowd overflowed so that it encroached upon the field. The
Camdens came in and let their opponents have the field for practice.

"Fellows," smiled Frank, as he joined his friends, "this is going to be
a hot afternoon."

"All of that," nodded Hodge. "It's plain there is an intense feeling of
rivalry between these two towns."

"Say, fellows," put in Jack Diamond, "I haven't stopped wondering yet."

"What about?" asked Frank.

"This part of the country. You told me we would have sport down here,
but I never expected anything like this. Why, there's rivers of sporting
blood in this section! How do they get together such ball teams? Camden
must pay Mower big money, or he would be in one of the big leagues. They
must have coughed liberally to Woods and Makune, for either of those two
fellows could get into a big league. Rockland has a full-salaried team,
and they say she pays her men two hundred and fifty dollars a week all
told. That's more money than the New England League pays."

"They don't go into anything halfway down here," smiled Merry. "I fancy
the ball team is a good thing for Camden. It advertises the town, as all
the games are reported in the Boston dailies, and it attracts summer
visitors. A good percentage of the spectators here now are summer
people."

The Rockland team began practice. They appeared more like professionals,
taken as a whole, than the Camdens, nearly all of whom seemed college
lads.

Practice was over in a short time, and then the home team prepared to go
to bat first, and the umpire took his position and called "play."

Although the Rockland "rooters" were on hand to shout for their team,
the fact that Camden had Woods and Makune made them cautious about
offering bets. In fact, two of Rockland's principal "sports" were
seeking to put money on Camden, but could not find takers without giving
odds.

Dayguild, Rockland's champion pitcher, the man held in reserve for
Camden, was sent into the box. He had seemed to hoodoo Camden, and
Rocklandites hoped he would keep up the good work.

Some Thomaston men who had come over to see the game stopped near
Merriwell and his party and laughed over the "snap" Camden would have
that day. One of them was telling the others how easy it was to rattle
Dayguild and break his courage by hitting him hard and putting two
rattling coachers on the line to keep him "up in the air." Frank did not
miss a word of this talk.

"Pop" Williamson was the first man to go to bat for Camden. He stood up
at the plate and looked at Dayguild. Dayguild laughed at him, saying:

"Pop, you're easy."

"Pop" laughed back, observing:

"I have to be easy with you, Gil, or I'd show you up, and you would lose
your job."

"That's what I call wit!" exclaimed Merriwell, in appreciation. "Pop is
all right. He'll get a hit."

He did. He cracked out Dayguild's first ball for an easy single, and
laughed at the Rockland pitcher as he trotted down to first.

"Thought I wouldn't put it into the woods this time, Gil," he said.

"That's a good start to rattle Dayguild if they would get after him,"
said a Thomaston man.

But Camden made the mistake of splitting her coachers, putting one at
third and one at first, and the men did not "open up" in a way to get
the Rockland pitcher on the string.

Putbury, or "Old Put," followed Williamson. He was a left-hand hitter,
and a good man, but Dayguild managed to give him the "evil eye" and
struck him out.

"I'm afraid you won't get away from first, Pop," said Dayguild, winking
at Williamson in a tantalizing manner.

"Oh, there's lots of time," returned the runner, calmly.

Cogern followed Putbury. He fanned twice, and then he cracked out a
daisy cutter that looked like a safe hit, for it got past the pitcher
and was going directly over second, with Smithers, the baseman, playing
away off.

But Smithers was a little fellow who could cover ground wonderfully. How
he ever reached second as soon as the ball and gathered it in was a
marvel, but he did the trick with an ease that brought an exclamation
of admiration from Merriwell.

As he picked the ball off the ground Smithers touched second and put
Williamson out. Then he whirled like a cat and sent the ball whistling
to first.

Rockland's first baseman smothered it with ease before Cogern could get
much more than halfway down the line, and a double play had been made,
which retired Camden with a whitewash as a starter.

What a wild howl of satisfaction went up from the throats of the
Rockland rooters! How they hammered on the railing and yelled! Their
satisfaction was unlimited, for they had not dreamed there could be such
a happy termination of the Camden's half of the first inning.

"Sorry for you, Pop," grinned Dayguild.

"It's a good thing for you there was a man like Smithers on second,"
returned Williamson. "It was a clean case of luck."

At this Dayguild laughed derisively, walking in to the bench.

Camden took the field. Woods stripped off his sweater and went into the
box. He was a clean, fine-looking fellow in his suit. He had warmed up a
little, and now he tossed a few to Williamson, who was on first.

Smithers, the captain of the Rocklands, was the first man to go to the
plate. He was known to be a most remarkable little hitter, without a
weak point that any pitcher had been able to discover.

Woods looked Smithers over, and then sent in a swift one that the little
man let pass.

The umpire called a ball.

"Whew!" exclaimed Diamond. "That's what I call speed."

"You don'd peen aple to seen dot pall ad all, eh?" cried Hans.

"Merry," said Bart, "Woods is the first fellow I ever saw who reminded
me of you in the box."

Smithers went after the next ball, but fouled it over the fence, and a
new ball was put into play. Again and again he fouled.

"You are finding him," cried the Rockland rooters.

At last Smithers hit it fairly on the trade mark, and sent it out into
right field for a single.

The Rockland crowd was delighted.

"Why, Woods is easy!" they roared.

Woods was not ruffled in the least. When the ball was thrown in, he
entered the box with it immediately, and then suddenly snapped his left
foot out and shot the ball over to first.

Smithers saved himself by a hair's breadth. It was a close decision on
the part of the umpire.

"Did you get onto that motion with his foot?" came eagerly from Hodge.
"It's Merriwell exactly! Why, the fellow appears more and more like you,
Frank!"

"That's so," grunted Browning.

Edwards, Rockland's shortstop, followed Smithers at bat. He was a large,
stocky, red-headed fellow, inclined to swagger and make more or less
unnecessary talk, but a good ball player and a hard hitter.

"Don't let him catch you, Smithers," he cried. "I'll land you on third."

Woods smiled. He was feeling first rate, and he did not believe Edwards
could keep his word. While standing carelessly in the box, he gave a
hitch at his pants with both hands, the right hand holding the ball, and
then sent a scorcher over the plate so quickly that Edwards was not
prepared and did not offer at it.

"One strike!" decided the umpire.

"That's the way to fool 'em on the first one," laughed Frank Merriwell,
softly. "Woods is up to tricks. Boys, that fellow is a dandy, I
believe."

Smithers tried to get a good start from first, but Woods kept him close
to the base, much to the delight of the Camden crowd. All Camden was
confident that Rockland was doomed to defeat that day.

The second ball was a coaxer, but Edwards let it pass. Then came another
swift one, and the batter went after it and missed it entirely.

The Camden crowd howled its delight.

"That's the stuff, Woodsie!" yelled a voice. "Leave Smithers on first,
same as they left Williamson."

"He can't do it, you know!" sung back a Rockland rooter.

Woods was the essence of coolness. He teased Edwards with two out-drops,
and then he seemed to gather himself for a speedy one. As the batting
score stood three balls and two strikes, the batter felt that Woods
would use a straight, swift ball and try to cut a corner of the plate.

Woods seemed to send the ball with all the strength he could command,
but, strange to say, it lingered in the air, and, too late, Edwards saw
it was a slow one.

The big shortstop bit at it. He smashed at it with all his strength, and
he hit the ball with the tip of his bat. The coacher had sent Smithers
for second on that ball when it left Woods' hand. It was too late to
stop him when they saw the ball popped up into the air as an easy
infield fly.

Makune called out that he would take it, and ran in under it. Edwards,
who had a lame knee, ran as if sprinting for his life. The ball hung in
the air a long time, while Makune stood under it, waiting for it to come
down.

When it did come down it created one of the sensations of the day, for
it dropped into Makune's hands and fell out. There was a roar of
astonishment that this crack infielder of the New England League should
drop a ball like that. Makune was the most astonished man within the
inclosure of that ball ground, for he had not done anything like that
before during the entire season.

Then there was a kick, as Moslof claimed that Makune dropped it
purposely, and, as he had thrown the ball over to first on picking it
up, Edwards was out on an infield fly, even though he had reached the
base ahead of the ball.

The umpire knew his business, however, and did not get rattled. He knew
that the rules declared a batter was out on an infield fly that could be
handled, providing there was a runner on first; even though the fielder
dropped the ball for the purpose of luring the man off first. But
Smithers had left first before Edwards struck the ball and was well on
his way to second, while Makune had not dropped the fly as a trick, but
because he could not hold it. The umpire decided that Smithers had
stolen second and Edwards was safe on first, which caused the Rockland
crowd to go wild with satisfaction, while the Camdenites groaned in
dismay, those who did not understand the point in the game declaring it
was an outrage, and those who did feeling that the umpire understood it
too well to be fooled.

Gulsiver, Rockland's center fielder, was the next batter. He went after
the second ball and found it, knocking it straight at Mower. Mower was
an erratic player, and, on this occasion, he stopped the ball, but he
chased it around his feet long enough to permit Gulsiver to get first
safely, and Smithers and Edwards moved up a base each.

The bags were full!

"That's a hard start for Camden," said Frank Merriwell, feeling his
sympathy go out toward the boys in red.

"Dot Voods don'd seem to peen doin' a great deal mit der Rocklandt
poys," observed Hans.

"It's not Woods' fault," declared Merry. "Smithers is the only man who
has secured a hit off him."

If Woods was worried or disgusted, he did not betray it. He continued to
pitch coolly and deliberately, for all the yelling of the Rockland crowd
and chinning of the coachers.

He struck out the next man, and followed that up by causing Hammond, the
fifth batter, to put up a low, infield fly, which Woods looked after
himself and caught.

Then it was Camden's turn to howl again, for, although the bases were
full, two men had been sent to the bench in a minute by the cool little
pitcher in crimson.

"This looks better," said Merriwell, beginning to smile again. "I'll bet
something Rockland does not score."

Shaddock was the next man at bat. Woods fooled him on a wide curve and a
swift inshoot. Then Shaddock got mad and nearly broke his back hitting
the ball.

The ball struck the ground near the home plate and rolled lazily down
toward third. Smithers had started for home, and Woods started for the
ball. As he passed the ball, Smithers tried to kick it aside, even
though he was taking chances of being seen by the umpire in doing the
trick. He failed to touch it, however, and, the next instant, Woods
gathered it up with one hand, taking it as he ran directly from first
base. Smithers was between him and the plate, and he could not see the
catcher. He did not hesitate a fraction of a second, he did not even
pause to straighten up, but, in a stooping position, he swung his arm
low and sent the ball whistling to first. Spectators afterward declared
that at no time was that ball more than two feet above the ground. It
went straight to first, Williamson gathered it in, and the Rocklands
were out without scoring.

Then such a roar went up to the heights of old Megunticook! The old
mountain must have fancied that the Indian warriors of long, long years
ago had returned and were holding a mighty powwow down there in its
shadow.

Men and boys were frantic. They hammered each other on the back, they
flung their hats into the air. Women screamed with joy and waved their
handkerchiefs. And Woods--just then he was the hero of the moment.
Scores of pretty girls were hugging each other and declaring that he was
"just perfectly lovely." But he was as cool and unruffled as ever,
seemingly utterly deaf to the roars of applause.

"I guess Camden is all right, after all," laughed Merriwell.

"Woods is a dandy," said Diamond.

"They do not need me to pitch for them to-day," declared Frank.

Dayguild grinned and chewed gum as he entered the box and faced little
McDornick, champion base runner of the Camdens. McDornick was
palpitating with eagerness to hit the ball. He hated to let the first
one pass, although Dayguild sent in a wide teaser. He went for the
second one, and hammered it out for two bags, although with an ordinary
runner it would have been no more than a pretty single.

"Gil, you're pie," laughed Williamson, from the bench.

"You will find him hot pie before the game is over," said a Rockland
man.

Moslof went to bat. He was eager, also--far too eager, for he struck at
the first ball, although it was not within reach. But McDornick stole
third on it, reaching the bag in advance of the ball by a beautiful lone
slide.

Then Moslof batted one down to Edwards and was thrown out at first.

Mower came next. Sometimes he was a hitter. This was not one of the
times. He fanned out, and still McDornick was shivering on third.

Makune faced Dayguild. It was not for the first time, as he had faced
him many times before in the New England League. Although Makune was not
a heavy hitter, he had done remarkable work for the first of the season,
and Dayguild was afraid of him. With the ball under his arm, the
Rockland pitcher turned to observe the positions of the men in the
field. His back was toward McDornick.

There was a shout of warning from the crowd, and Dayguild whirled to see
a figure in crimson shooting toward the plate like a streak of fire.

It was McDornick attempting to steal home!

The nerve of the act dazed Dayguild for a moment, and then he threw the
ball to the catcher, thinking to put out the runner with ease.

The catcher dropped it!

McDornick made a headlong plunge for the plate, touched it, leaped up
and dodged away before the catcher could pick up the ball.

Camden had scored!

Roar, roar, roar! The crowd went wild with joy. The black cliffs above
flung back the burst of sound. It seemed enough to wake the dead in the
distant cemetery tinder the slope of Battie. It was heard far down in
the heart of the town, and it brought more spectators hurrying to the
ball ground.

Williamson sat on the bench and laughed tauntingly at Dayguild, who was
flustered and excited.

"Now, if they know how to do the trick, they can win the game in this
inning," said a Thomaston man.

But Makune was not in good form, and he rolled one down to third, being
thrown out at first, which retired Camden with one score.

But Woods pitched wonderful ball the next inning, and Rockland was given
another whitewash.

By this time Dayguild had recovered his composure, and he pitched so
well that Slatridge, Woods and Williamson went out in quick succession.

Then came a fatal half for Camden. Merriwell had seen Woods feeling of
his elbow and working it as if it did not feel just right, and he was
not surprised when Rockland fell to batting the new pitcher of the
Camdens.

"Moslof ought to take Woods out," Frank said to Diamond. "He has hurt
that lame arm already."

"You must be wrong, Merry," said the Virginian. "See the speed he is
using. Why, I can hardly see the ball as it goes over the plate."

"Speed is all he is using," declared Merriwell, "and Rockland is eating
speed. He can't use his curves, as it hurts his arm to do so."

Now the Rockland crowd had a chance to yell and laugh, and cheer, for,
although Woods seemed to be pitching good ball, the "Limeburners" had
donned their "batting clothes," and were hitting anything and
everything. The fielders were kept busy, and Rockland players chased
each other round the bases till six scores had come in.

"I said Moslof ought to take Woods out," said Merriwell, soberly. "The
game is lost now."

"Woods can't be the pitcher we thought he was," said Diamond, in
disappointment.

"Woods is all right if he doesn't spoil that arm," asserted Frank. "If
he sticks to professional ball and takes care of his arm, he'll be in
the National League before many years."[1]

[Footnote 1: A prophecy that has come true, as Walter Woods was signed
by Chicago several years ago. He can play any position on the diamond,
and is one of the cleanest men in the business. Not long ago he pitched
on the Camden team of the Knox County League, in the State of Maine.
Sockalexis, the Indian player, who was with the Clevelands last season,
and who created a sensation wherever he appeared, also played in the
Knox County League.--The Author.]

At last Woods struck out the third man, and Rockland was retired, but
not till she had secured a lead of five scores.

Dayguild laughed at Williamson as he went into the box.

"It's all over now," he declared. "Camden is buried."

"You can't tell about that," returned Williamson. "You have had your
turn, ours will come."

But it did not come that day, although Woods pitched the game out and
held Rockland down so that she obtained but one more score. The game
finally ended seven to five in favor of Rockland.

A more delighted crowd than the rooters from the Limerock city could not
be found. They guyed every Camdenite they knew. They declared that
Camden was a snap for Rockland, and always would be a snap. They were
insolent in their satisfaction and delight.

Down into town rushed the Rocklandites. They bought every tin horn they
could find, and at least a dozen cow bells. They bought tin pans and
drummed on them with sticks. They bought brooms and paraded with them to
indicate that they had swept Camden clean. They made a frightful racket
in the very heart of the village, and their scornful remarks about
Camden and Camdenites in general were of a nature to arouse the anger
of any inhabitant of the town at the foot of the mountains.

At last the cars from Rockland came, three of them being required to
handle the crowd. They piled on and went out of Camden blowing horns,
ringing bells, beating tin pans and howling derision.

Frank Merriwell stood on the corner near the opera house and heard all
this. He could feel the blood within him getting warmer and warmer. He
considered Moslof a fine fellow and he admired Woods. His sympathy was
with Camden.

Moslof and Woods came down the street together and paused near Frank.
Woods was making no excuses.

"They hit me out, that's all," he said. "I want to pitch against them
again when this arm is rested."

Frank stepped forward.

"When do you play Rockland again, Moslof?" he asked.

"To-morrow," was the answer. "The schedule brings these two games
together."

"Who will pitch?"

"I don't know. Woods can't, Williamson is not in shape, I am afraid to
put Slatridge in, and Bascomb never was any good against Rockland,
although he is a good man against any other team."

"You wanted me to pitch to-day," said Frank.

"Yes."

"I might not have done any better than Woods. He is a dandy, and he can
monkey with Rockland when his arm is all right. I knew you ought to take
him out at the beginning of the third, and I told Diamond so. I could
see that his arm was keeping him working speed, and Rockland was eating
speed."

"That's right," nodded Woods. "It was the best I could do that inning.
No matter where I put them, they hit them out. I worked a change of
pace, but that did not seem to bother them. After that inning, however,
I kept them guessing."

"You pitched winning ball all through the game, with the exception of
that fatal inning, and it is probable those fellows would have hammered
anybody that inning. They had a batting streak, and they made the most
of it."

Then he suddenly turned to Moslof, asking:

"Do you want me to pitch for you to-morrow?"

Moslof gave a jump.

"Do I want you?" he exclaimed. "I should guess yes! Will you do it?"

"I will."

Moslof seized Merry's hand.

"Old man, you have won my everlasting gratitude. To-morrow we'll put a
team into the field that will paralyze Rockland. It will be such a team
as Rockland or the State of Maine never saw before! Will we do 'em? Oh,
say! We'll wipe 'em off the earth!"

"Oh, that's not certain," cautioned Frank. "You can't be sure of a
victory till it is won. Camden thought she had a sure thing to-day."

"It will be different to-morrow," said Moslof. "If you pitch a winning
game, the people of Camden will give you the whole town when we get back
here!"

"Well, I shall do my best to pitch winning ball," assured Merry.

Directly after supper, which all the boys except Hans took at the Bay
View, the Dutch lad being sent off aboard the _White Wings_, a buckboard
with four wide seats came round for a party, and Merry was surprised to
find that he was expected to be one of the party. Browning, Diamond and
Hodge were included. The others were members of the Camden ball team.

When the buckboard was loaded the driver cracked his whip over the four
handsome horses, and away they went through town, up over Harbor Hill
and along the street that led toward the foot of the mountains.

Soon they were close under the cliffs of Battie. There were some
splendid singers in the party, and they awoke the echoes with the old
college songs.

In the cool shadows of twilight they rolled along the famous turnpike,
with Battie behind them and the frowning heights of Megunticook rising
directly over their heads. On Maiden Cliff, standing out against the
sky, they saw the white cross that marks the spot where a beautiful girl
fell to her death on the cruel rocks below. At times the winding road
seemed to lead directly into the lake that they could see shimmering
through the trees. It was one of the most beautiful drives Merriwell had
ever taken.

They turned about finally and came back by the way of Lake City, a
charming collection of cottages assembled at one of the most picturesque
spots to be found around the island-dotted lake. The driver pointed out
the spot where the famous Lake City Inn had stood before the fire that
wiped out the beautiful summer hotel.

By this time night had fallen, but the full moon was high in the
heavens, shedding a pure white light over all and giving the scene a
glamour that it could not have by day. Indeed, it was so light that the
cross on Maiden Cliff could be seen even better than they had seen it in
the twilight.

"Now, fellows," said Moslof, "there is another place we had better visit
to-night."

"Where is that?" asked several.

"The Summit House, on Mount Battie."

"Hurrah for the Summit House!" shouted the boys.

"We'll have to do some walking."

"We can walk up all right."

"I don't know about that," grunted Bruce Browning. "I came out to
ride."

"It will do you good to walk."

But Bruce could not agree with Merriwell, and Moslof, laughing, said
that Browning should not leave the buckboard till he was safely on the
top of Battie. This relieved the big fellow's mind, and he grunted:

"All right. Go ahead."

Before they reached the foot of the mountain after leaving Lake City
they turned off into a road that led back into the woods. Soon they came
to the new road that had been constructed by the energy and
determination of the shrewd owner of the hotel on the heights. This road
proved to be even better than the boys had anticipated, but it was very
steep in places, so that every man except Browning walked. As for Bruce,
no amount of guying could induce him to get off and climb.

The moonlight sifted down through the trees, making white patches amid
the black shadows. There was not much air, and the walking lads were
perspiring freely before they were far from the foot of the ascent; but
they stuck to it, and, at last, they were relieved to come out of the
winding way and see the lights of the hotel before them.

With a cheer, they rushed forward toward the building.

Moslof led the way round the end, and then all stopped, uttering
exclamations of admiration.

Below them in the white moonlight lay the village, the harbor, the bay,
the great stretch of beautiful country. Hundreds of lights twinkled in
the town, the electric street lamps showing white and clear and marking
the limits of the village.

Away to the south was Rockport, her electric lamps paled by the clear
moonlight. Miles beyond Rockport was Rockland, her location also plainly
marked by lights. Between Rockport and Camden a lighted trolley car was
flying along.

Jack Diamond drew a deep breath, and his hand fell on Frank's arm.

"Merriwell," he said, "I want to thank you for bringing me down into
this country. It surely is a wonderful land at this season of the year,
no matter what it may be in winter. This is the most beautiful view my
eyes ever rested upon."

"Everybody says that," put in Moslof. "No matter where they have been,
they say that."

"I have traveled a little over the world," said Merriwell, "and I must
say this is the most entrancing view I have ever looked upon."

"I'm glad I took the trouble to come up," sighed Browning.

As they were standing there, gazing enraptured upon the scene, there was
a burst of girlish laughter from the hotel. Then at least a dozen girls
came out upon the veranda.

"What have we struck?" exclaimed Frank.

"It must be a party," said Moslof. "Let's go in."

Go in they did, the proprietor of the hotel meeting and welcoming them.
It proved that Moslof was right, there was a party of girls up from the
village, and Frank's sharp eyes found Phebe Macey was among them.

Not a few of the girls were known to the boys. Those who were not known
were introduced.

"What a place for a dance!" thought Frank, as he looked the dining room
over. "These tables could be cleared away, and then we----"

He caught sight of the proprietor, and, in another moment, he drew the
man aside.

"If you want to dance, I'm willing," was the consent of the genial owner
of the Summit House. "But where's your music? There's a fiddle here, but
who can play it?"

"I'll find somebody!" cried Frank, and he rushed for Diamond.

But, before the dance could be started, it was found that the consent of
the young lady chaperon who had accompanied the girls must be obtained.
Frank approached her. At first she was not favorable, but Merriwell used
diplomacy and finally won her over so that she consented to let the
girls remain and dance an hour.

Then there was a hustling to clear the dining room floor. The old violin
was brought out and Diamond proceeded to tune up.

Frank sought Phebe and asked her to waltz with him.

"I don't think I will dance," she said, pretending to pout a bit.

"Why not?" asked Merry, in surprise. "You do dance, do you not?"

"Oh, sometimes."

"And you will refuse me?"

"You deserve to be refused."

"Why, pray?" asked Frank, surprised.

"I asked a favor of you to-day."

A light broke in on Frank.

"Oh, is that it? You wanted me to pitch for Camden?"

"Yes."

"And I didn't. Well, can't you pardon me this time?"

"Really, I do not think you deserve it."

"Perhaps not, but, if I promise to do better, will you----"

"It's too late now."

"How is that?"

"Camden lost."

"And might have lost just the same if I had pitched."

"No," she said, with confidence, "I know all about your pitching. You
would have won the game."

"There is another game to-morrow."

"Oh, that's in Rockland, and the Rocklands always win on their own
ground."

"Is that their reputation? Well, perhaps we may be able to break the
spell and defeat them on their own ground once."

"'We!' What do you mean by that? It can't be that you will pitch for
Camden to-morrow?"

"Will you waltz with me if I'll agree to do so?"

"Yes," was her instant answer.

"Done!" said Frank. "I'll pitch."

Then Diamond struck into a beautiful waltz, and Frank and Phebe were the
first on the floor, his arm about her waist, her hand gently clasped in
his.



CHAPTER XIV.

MERRIWELL'S DOUBLE SHOOT.


"Here come the Lobsters!"

The cry was uttered by a small boy as the Camden ball team entered the
Rockland ball ground.

A great crowd had assembled in the "cigar box," as the ground was
sometimes called because of its narrow limits. All Rockland had heard
that Camden would have a new battery, and nearly all Rockland had heard
of Merriwell and Hodge, for Frank had insisted that Bart should support
him behind the plate. The fact that Rockland had won from Camden with
Woods in the box made the rooters feel that their team was
invincible--that it could not be defeated by Camden. They had turned out
in a way to make the heart of the Rockland manager rejoice as the
quarters came jingling into the cash box.

The car had been delayed and the Camden team was late. It was followed
by such a swarm of Camden people as had never been seen on the Rockland
ball ground. This band of rooters was marshaled by a Camden man, who had
instructed them to hang together and who was to lead them in the
cheering. They packed in upon the bleachers near first base, as they had
bought a large reserved space there and it was held for them.

Rockland had finished practicing, and so the Camdens took the field.
Everybody was asking where Frank Merriwell was, but no one seemed able
to discover him.

"It was a false report," somebody said, and then the spectators,
thinking they had been deceived, began to growl.

But Merriwell and Hodge had slipped into the ground in ordinary clothes
and were getting into suits in the dressing room beneath the grand
stand. As soon as they were dressed, they came out, and Frank began to
warm up by throwing to Bart.

"Here they are!"

A boy uttered the cry, and then every eye seemed turned on the famous
Yale battery.

Among those who had been watching for Merriwell's appearance was Wat
Snell. The fellow ground his teeth with rage as he saw Frank come out in
a baseball suit.

"He shall not win this game!" vowed Wat. "I have the stuff in my pocket
that will fix him if I can get it into him."

Then Snell hastily sought some chaps who were grouped in a little bunch,
talking in low tones among themselves.

"Mr. Bixton," said Wat, "I want to speak with you a moment."

He drew one of the young men aside and whispered in his ear. Bixton
scowled and nodded, answering:

"I've got fifty dollars on this game."

Then Snell whispered some more, but Bixton shook his head and said
aloud:

"They'd kill the feller they caught doin' it. French is a reg'lar fool!
He wants to beat Camden, but he wouldn't win in a crooked way for a
thousand dollars. He'd be the first to jump on a chap that was caught
doin' up a Camden man."

"He needn't know it," said Snell, and then he whispered some more, but
he couldn't seem to win Bixton over.

"All right," said Snell. "You'll be sorry when you lose your fifty
plunks."

"I ain't lost 'em yet."

"You will if Frank Merriwell pitches the whole game."

Practice was over, the umpire took his place and called "play," the
Camden team was in the field. Merriwell walked down into the box. He
wore his Yale uniform, as he had been unable to obtain a Camden uniform
that would fit him.

The Rockland crowd looked at Merriwell with curiosity, but all the
applause he received came from the Camden rooters. At one side of the
diamond were gathered twenty small boys. Usually these youngsters were
full of taunts and jeers for Camden, but now they were strangely silent.
One of them turned to the others and said:

"Fellers, Rockland eats dirt ter-day! We kin lick anything else on ther
face of ther earth, but we can't do up that battery. I've read all about
Frank Merriwell, an' there ain't nothin' walks on two legs what kin
pitch ball with him!"

Strange to relate, he was not disputed in the assertion.

The umpire broke open a box and tossed a beautiful new "Spaulding" to
Merry, who caught it and rubbed a handful of dirt over it.

Smithers advanced to the plate. Frank had heard that it was impossible
to discover the little man's weak point, and he resolved to start right
in by fooling him--if possible.

Hodge knew what was coming when Merry assumed a certain attitude. Then,
without any flourish, Frank shot in what seemed at the start to be a
straight, swift ball.

Smithers took it for an inshoot, and, in his judgment, it must be a fair
ball. He swung for it, and then he dropped his bat and gasped.

The ball had reversed from an in to an out, causing Smithers to miss it
by at least six inches!

It was Merriwell's wonderful double shoot!

Those in the grand stand who had seen the double curve of the ball
uttered exclamations of amazement, and some of them would not believe
their eyes had not deceived them.

Smithers picked up his bat, muttering:

"If I'd been drinking lately I wouldn't wonder at it!"

Hodge returned the ball, and in a moment Merry was ready to deliver
again. Smithers fancied he had been deceived by his eyes, and so, when
Frank pitched another ball that was exactly like the first, he smashed
at it again.

And missed again!

There was a commotion in the grand stand. A loud voice was heard
declaring the ball had curved in and out, and that Merriwell was a
wizard. Another person was speaking soothingly to the excited
individual.

Not a sound from the Camden rooters, for their leader was holding them
in check. He had not given the signal for applause.

On all the ground there was no man half as amazed as Smithers. He
fancied he had batted all kinds of pitching, but here was something new
to him.

There was a hush as Frank again assumed position for delivery. Smithers
assumed a look of determination and made ready. Then the Yale pitcher
shot in another ball, this time changing his curves so the sphere
started with an out and suddenly changed to an in.

Seeing it was an out at the start, Smithers instantly decided that it
must go beyond his reach. When it changed to an in, and passed over the
plate, it was too late to get his bat round, and so he stood with the
"wagon tongue" poised, not even having offered at it.

"Three strikes--out!" called the umpire.

Then the Camden crowd could be held no longer. Never before had Smithers
been struck out like that. But three balls had been pitched, and yet,
the crack batter of the Rocklands, a man without a weak point, was
retired. The men and boys from under Megunticook rose up and yelled
like a thousand fiends. They felt that a man who could strike Smithers
out like that would have a snap with the rest of the team, and the joy
in their hearts knew no bounds.

For once the Rockland rooters were silent. They did not even have
sufficient nerve left to guy the Camdenites. They stared and stared at
the man who had struck out Smithers with three pitched balls, and their
dismay and disgust knew no bounds.

"What's the matter that Rockland didn't get that feller?" growled one.
"It was a fool trick to let Camden get him!"

Smithers walked to the bench and sat down in a dazed way, muttering:

"Well, I'll be blowed!"

Edwards picked up a bat and advanced to the plate with his usual
swagger.

"Just try that on me," he invited.

Instantly Frank decided to do so. Bart was ready, and Merry snapped in a
swift one, giving it the double curve. Edwards let it pass.

"One strike!" cried the umpire.

A roar from the Camden crowd.

Bart sent back the ball. Edwards grinned and then scowled. He made
ready. Frank reversed the curves and drove in a whistler that could
scarcely be seen as it passed through the air.

This time Edwards struck, but he found only empty air.

"Two strikes!" from the umpire.

Another roar from the Camden crowd.

Edwards began to look doubtful.

"What are we up against?" he muttered to himself.

Merriwell took his time to pitch the third ball. All at once he seemed
to send in one like the last. Edwards believed the double curve would
cause it to cross over the plate, and he struck at it.

It proved to be a straight ball, and Edwards never touched it!

"Striker is out!" decided the umpire.

It is impossible to describe the tumult that followed. For once, at
least, Camden was well represented on the Rockland ground, and the
rooters for the boys in crimson could not make noise enough. Their hour
of triumph had arrived, and they were making the most of it.

Edwards looked sour enough as he went to the bench.

"What's the matter?" asked Gulsiver, who was swinging two bats so that
one would seem lighter to him when he came to strike.

"That Yale chap is the devil!" growled Edwards.

Gulsiver was a college man and a fine fellow. He had played with Camden
the previous season, and Camden was sorry it did not have him that year.
He looked anxious but determined to do his best as he went to the plate.

Frank had decided that he was using the double shoot altogether too
much, for it would soon put a kink in his elbow if he kept it up. He had
used it on Edwards because the Rockland shortstop had challenged him to
do so. Gulsiver was tried with a coaxer, but he let it pass. Then Frank
gave him a rise, and he hit it.

The ball popped up into the air and fell into Merriwell's hands,
retiring Rockland on eight pitched balls, without a single batter
getting started toward first base.

The Camden crowd was happy, and the Rocklandites were disgusted. But
Rockland had a pitcher who more than once proved a hoodoo for Camden.
The redoubtable "Grandpa" Morse was to go into the box this day. There
had been a time when Morse could scare the Camden players with his speed
and fool them with his "southpaw" delivery. Rockland hoped that time
had not passed, even though the rooters of the Limerock City were aware
that Morse was not dealing with tenderfeet this day.

Moslof had placed Hodge at the head of the batting list at Merriwell's
suggestion. Bart picked up a heavy stick and advanced to the plate, as
Morse entered the box. The Rockland men were in their places on the
field.

Morse was working his jaw over a chew of gum. He had a glove on his
right hand, and with this he covered the ball so it could not be seen.
At the very start Merriwell made a kick about this, and Morse was forced
to show the ball in his hand. He grinned at Frank with an expression
that seemed to say he would get even, and then, putting on all the steam
at his command, he sent a high ball over the plate, thinking to daze
Hodge with his speed.

Hodge swung at it, hit it fairly without much effort, and put it over
the center field fence, trotting around the bases to the music of the
cheers of the Camden crowd.

Then Morse was riled. Williamson came next, and "Grandpa" struck him
out, giving the Rocklandites a chance to yell a little. Cogern followed,
and made a hard try for the center field fence, but Gulsiver got back
against the fence, reached up into the air and pulled the ball down, to
the increased delight of the Rockland spectators. McDornick was too
anxious, and he hit an easy roller to Edwards, who threw him out at
first.

But the first inning had ended one to nothing in Camden's favor.

Then Merriwell went into the box again, but he did not attempt to work
his double shoot till Rockland had filled the bases with a hit, a wild
throw by Mower and a dropped fly by McDornick, followed by a poor throw
to third.

Now Rockland thought her time had come. The coachers were doing their
best to rattle Merriwell, aided by the yelling crowd, but Frank never
was cooler in his life. He struck out the next man, and the next popped
up a little fly to Makune. Then Merry took a hot liner from the next
batter, and Rockland did not score.

Then Bixton hunted up Snell.

"I'll give you ten dollars to get that drug into Merriwell," he said.

"Furnish me with a boy to pass Merriwell the water and I'll do it," said
Snell. "Merriwell would suspect me."

Bixton found the boy, and the plot to knock Frank out was laid. Snell
called the boy aside and gave him full instructions.

"Here is a little vial," he explained. "All you have to do is stick by
the water bucket at the end of the Camden bench. Keep this vial in your
hand uncorked and ready. You can keep it out of sight. When Merriwell
wants a drink, it will be easy for you to drop some of the stuff in the
vial into the bucket. As soon as he drinks, upset the bucket, so nobody
else will get any of the stuff. Here's ten dollars for you."

The boy took the vial and the ten dollars. Then, when Snell was not
watching him, he looked around for French, the Rockland manager, found
him and told him the whole plot.

French was furious.

"I wouldn't have that happen on this ground for a hundred dollars!" he
declared. "Point out the fellow who hired you to do this, and I will
have him arrested! We are winning no games in that way!"

The boy pointed Snell out, and, five minutes later, Wat turned pale as
an officer tapped him on the shoulder and said:

"Come with me. Don't make any fuss, or the crowd will find out that you
hired a boy to drug Frank Merriwell. You'll be lynched if they do find
it out."

Snell could not say a word. With the officer's hand on his shoulder, he
was marched off the ground, while the crowd wondered why he had been
arrested. Bixton, the crooked sport, saw this, and it did not take him
long to disappear.

So the plot to knock Merriwell out was frustrated, and Frank pitched the
game through, giving Rockland just four hits. At the end of the eighth
inning the score stood two to one in favor of Camden. With the beginning
of the ninth a combination of bad plays placed a Rockland man on third,
with one man out. Then the next batter drove out a long fly to Cogern,
and the man on third attempted to score on it. Cogern made the throw of
his life, nailing the runner at the plate and spoiling Rockland's last
chance.

The game was over, and Camden had won by a score of two to one. It had
been a beautiful game, and once more Camden and Rockland were tied for
first place in the Knox County League.

The Camden rooters were happy, while the Rockland spectators melted away
and disappeared from view with amazing suddenness when the last man was
out.

It was plain enough that the Rockland people expected the visitors to
celebrate as Rockland had done in Camden, but nothing of the kind was
permitted. Still it was a joyful crowd that loaded the two trolley cars
and went through the main street of the city singing:

    "Boom-ta-de-aye, boom-ta-de-aye,
    De-boom-ta, de-boom-ta, de-boora-ta-de-aye;
    We won to-day, we won to-day,
    Oh, we won, oh, we won, oh, we won to-day."

As they passed the _Star_ office the bulletin was out:

    "Baseball To-day:
    "Camden, 2; Rockland, 1."

The crowd on the cars cheered as they passed the bulletin, and they sang
all the way to Camden.

But when those cars entered Camden what a reception awaited the victors!
It seemed that half the town had turned out to meet them. Everybody had
a horn. As the first car, carrying the ball players, approached the
opera house there was a deafening blare of sound, and the explosion of
cannon crackers, and cheer after cheer rent the air. The moment the car
stopped Frank Merriwell was torn from his seat by admirers, was lifted
to the shoulders of sturdy fellows and carried to the hotel without
being allowed to touch his feet to the ground, while the throng surged
around him and shouted.

An hour later, as he sat in the office of the hotel, surrounded by
friends and admirers, he said:

"Fellows, I'd like to spend the rest of the summer right here in this
town. It's all right! I'm glad I've found Camden, and you may be sure
it's not the last time I shall stop here."

Then the mayor of the town, who happened to be present, said:

"Mr. Merriwell, Camden belongs to you. If there is anything here that
you want, take it. If you don't see what you want, ask for it. I don't
know that we can do any better by you than that."

That evening Landlord Drayben gave the baseball boys a dinner at the
hotel, and there were speeches and toasts and cheers for Merriwell.

After the dinner the dining room was cleared, an orchestra appeared, and
there was dancing. Again Frank was the first on the floor, with Phebe
Macey as his partner. And Phebe was the happiest girl in Camden that
night.



CHAPTER XV.

OFF FOR BAR HARBOR.


It was nearly midnight when a boat containing four lads pushed out from
Fish Market Wharf and pulled down Camden harbor toward the fleet of
yachts that lay anchored in Dillingham's Cove.

The moon had dropped down into the west, but it still shed its pure
white light on the unrippled water of the harbor, and, despite the
lateness of the hour, several boating parties were out. From away toward
the Spindles came the sound of a song, in which four musical voices
blended harmoniously. Nothing stirs the entire soul with a sense of the
beautiful like the sound of a distant song floating over the silvered
bosom of a peaceful bay or lake on a moonlight night in midsummer. Hodge
and Diamond, who were rowing the boat, rested on their oars, and the
four lads listened a long time.

"Beautiful!" murmured Merriwell, who was sitting in the stern of the
boat, the rudder lines in his hands.

Browning grunted.

"The yelling of the Camden crowd on the Rockland ball ground to-day
sounded better to me," he said.

Quoth Merriwell:

    "'The man that hath no music in himself,
    Nor is not moved with concord of sweet sounds,
    Is fit for treasons, strategems and spoils;
    The motions of his spirit are dull as night,
    And his affections dark as Erebus:
    Let no such man be trusted.'"

"Huah!" said Bruce. "Talk about a 'concord of sweet sounds,' what could
be sweeter than the howls of those baseball rooters when you worked
your double shoot on the Rockland batters and kept them fanning the
breeze? That was what I call music!"

"Fellows," sighed Frank, "this has been a lively day."

"It certainly has," nodded Hodge.

"Things move in a hurry down here at this season of the year," put in
Diamond.

"It's rather too lively for me," confessed Merriwell. "I am stuck on
Camden, but I must get out of it right away."

"Why?" asked the others, in a breath.

"The people here will not give me any rest. If I remain, it will be
impossible for me to refuse to play ball with the Camden team, and I did
not come down here for that. Why, I could have a hundred dollars a week
if I would play with Camden. Money doesn't seem to be of value to the
people here, now that they think I can beat Rockland every time I go
into the box. They are ready to give up anything to beat Rockland. I
haven't any grudge against Rockland. In fact, if what I hear about Wat
Snell's attempt to drug me is true, I have every reason to be grateful
toward Manager French, for he caused Snell's arrest, and it is likely
that Wat is languishing in the Rockland lockup to-night."

"That fellow will land in prison all right," said Diamond. "He is the
most vindictive creature I ever saw."

"If French pushes him, he may be shut up for a while down this way,"
observed Hodge.

"I was going to spend a week up there on the mountain," said Jack,
looking toward the top of Battie, where the lights of the Summit House
were still gleaming, despite the hour. "If we get out of here in a rush,
I'll not get up there again."

"We were there last night," said Frank. "That was a jolly time, and no
one expected it. After dancing on the mountain last night, pitching a
game of ball to-day and then dancing at the Bay View to-night, I am
ready to rest to-morrow."

Browning grunted again.

"I believe you are getting frightened," he yawned.

"Of what?"

"The girl with the roguish eyes."

"Phebe?"

"Sure."

"Why should I be frightened of her?"

"She has hypnotized you with those eyes. Notice how often he danced with
her, fellows? Inza Burrage is down this way, and----"

"She is in Bar Harbor now."

"Well, that's not far. You are counting on getting away from Phebe
before she weaves her spell about you so you can't break away."

"It's wonderful how you read a fellow," laughed Merriwell. "You should
go into the mind-reading business. Anyhow, we'll get up anchor early, if
there is a breeze, and leave Camden behind us."

"For good?" asked Diamond, anxiously.

"Oh, perhaps not for good. We may drop in here on our way back. Can't
tell just what we will feel like doing."

A boat was gliding past them. It came near enough for its occupants to
recognize the lads in the other boat. Somebody said:

"It's Merriwell and his party."

Then a feminine voice called:

"Hello, Frank Merriwell. You are a dandy!"

"Thank you," said Frank, laughing. "There are others."

"Not in your class," was the quick retort. "You are the only one of the
kind."

"Who was that?" asked Diamond, as the boat passed on.

"Couldn't tell you, my boy," answered Frank.

"Why, that's strange! She spoke to you as if she knew you. Familiar for
a stranger!"

"Evidently she is intoxicated--by the moonlight," grunted Browning.

"If we stay down this way long, I fancy we'll find there is considerable
freedom at these summer resorts," said Merry. "People do not always wait
for introductions down here. But the girl in that boat would not have
spoken had it been in the daytime. She knew I could not recognize her,
and that is how she ventured to do it."

"Well, let's get on board," urged Bruce. "I'm tired, and I want to turn
in."

"Pull away," directed Frank, and the boys began rowing again.

They passed other rowboats, and the sound of voices and laughter came
over the moon-burnished bosom of the harbor. On board one of the yachts
not far from the _White Wings_ a jolly party had gathered. Somebody was
picking away at a guitar and softly humming the latest song. Others were
chatting and laughing. The yacht was decorated with Chinese lanterns and
was burning bright lights.

"Those lights would look better if there wasn't any moon," observed
Diamond.

As they approached the _White Wings_ a figure suddenly arose on the deck
and leveled something at the boat, while a voice called:

"Stood still vere I vos und gafe der coundersign! Uf I don'd done dot
you vill oben vire onto me!"

"Here, here, Hans!" exclaimed Merry. "What are you trying to do--shoot
us? Be careful with that gun!"

"Vos dot you, Vrankie?" asked the faithful Dutch boy, lowering the gun.
"Vale, I don'd vant to make no mistook, und so I peen careful not to
led any vellers come apoard uf me vot I don'd vant to seen. I vos glad
you haf camed."

They ran up to the sloop and were soon on board. It was necessary to
tell Hans what had happened that day, but he simply said:

"Oh, I knew how dot vould peen all der dime. Uf course Vrankie blayed
marples mit Rocklandt."

That night they slept well in their berths, for a cool breeze sprang up
about midnight, so the cabin of the yacht was not too warm, and there
was the gentlest of rocking motions to lull their senses.

Frank was astir at daybreak, and it did not take him long to turn the
others out when he discovered there was a land breeze.

"It's just what we want," he said. "We must get away in a hurry,
fellows. We can take our breakfast after we get outside the harbor."

So the anchor was raised, the sails run up in a hurry, and the _White
Wings_, with Frank at the wheel, headed for the Spindles. At sunrise she
was outside the harbor's mouth, with her course set due east. Outside
the harbor there was a strong, steady breeze, and it was not long before
the twin mountains of Camden began to sink into the purple morning
mists.



CHAPTER XVI.

DIAMOND'S PLANS.


The season at Bar Harbor was at its height, and the most famous resort
on the coast of Maine was overflowing with rich, fashionable and famous
people. Congressmen and their families were there, millionaires from
various parts of the country were there, titled persons from abroad were
there. Frenchman's Bay was almost crowded with yachts, and excursions
were pouring into the town by the railroad and by steamboats. There were
drives by day, excursions to various points about the bay, and by night
there were hops at the hotels, strolls in the moonlight, and gay times
on board the yachts that clustered in the harbor.

Two days at Bar Harbor made Frank and his friends long to get away.

"This isn't much like Camden, don't you know," yawned Browning, as he
rolled into his berth on the afternoon of the second day. "We made a
mistake in running away from that town in a hurry."

"You know why we did it," said Frank, quickly. "We were too well known
there. Now, over here we have been discreet and kept our identity
secret. That was not such a task, either, for I do not fancy one out of
a thousand of these people ever heard anything about any of us, or would
take the trouble to turn round to look after us if they had heard of us
and knew who we were. By Jove! I find it rather agreeable, fellows!"

"Oh, that's all right," nodded Diamond. "I don't fancy notoriety any
more than you do, Merry; but there is something about the atmosphere
here that I don't quite relish, although I can't tell what it is."

Frank laughed.

"I fancy I know what it is, old man."

"Then let me into the mystery."

"It is the air of commercial aristocracy these people wear. Now, by
birth and breeding, Diamond, you are a true aristocrat, but with you
blood is everything, and it rather galls you to witness the boorish air
of superiority assumed by some of these millionaire pork packers with
neither education nor refinement. I don't wonder. When you came to Yale
you had some silly notions about aristocracy, but you have gotten over
them to a certain extent, so that now you recognize a gentleman as a
gentleman, even though his father was a day laborer; but you realize
that no man is a gentleman simply because he is worth several million
dollars and has a daughter he is trying to marry off to a foreigner with
a title and a blasted reputation. We are getting nearer together in our
ideas every day, Diamond, whether you realize it or not. These
money-made aristocrats with their boorish manners and their inability to
speak or spell the English language correctly are quite as repugnant to
me as they are to you. There are plenty of such society people here, and
they are making you tired, old man. I don't wonder. I am becoming a
trifle fatigued myself."

"Yaw," grunted Hans, who had been listening with an owlish look of
wisdom on his full-moon face, "vot makes me dired vos dose beoble vot
don'd knew how to speak der English language mitoudt a misdake makin'
their spelling in."

"I can't say that I relish Bar Harbor so very much," said Hodge,
speaking for the first time. "I think I have seen enough of it."

"Let's move," grunted Browning.

"Oh, you will trouble yourself a lot about moving!" laughed Frank.

"I'll move when the yacht does."

"And help get up the anchor?"

"Oh, say, I'll pay Hans to do my share of pulling on the anchor line! My
heart is weak, and I am liable to strain it by overexertion."

"You are not at all liable to, for you will not overexert yourself."

"If we leave Bar Harbor, where shall we go, fellows?" asked Diamond.

"Oh, there are plenty of places," assured Frank.

"Mention some of them."

"As you know, Penobscot Bay is full of islands, and on some of those
islands are villages. Now, it is my belief that some of those villages
would be interesting places to visit."

"A good suggestion."

"We might run down to Green's Landing or Isle au Haut."

"Say!" exclaimed Diamond.

"Say it."

"I have an idea."

"Vos dot as pad as der rheumadisms?" asked Hans, innocently. "Vere did
id hurt me most?"

"Let's invite the girls," said Jack.

"Inza and Paula?"

"Yes."

"Huah!" grunted Browning, from his berth. "Anybody might have known it!
Think of John Diamond, of Virginia, getting soft on a Boston girl! Ha!
ha! ha!"

The big fellow's words and laughter irritated Diamond, and he snapped:

"I don't see what there is so very funny about that!"

Then Browning laughed all the more, saying:

"You see, he doesn't deny it, fellows. I suspected it when they met in
Rockland. It was a case of love at first sight."

"Paula Benjamin is a splendid girl," said Frank, "and you are stuck on
her yourself, Browning. Jealousy is what ails you."

The big fellow flopped over in his berth with remarkable suddenness, his
face becoming wonderfully red.

"Now, look here, Merriwell," he exclaimed, "that won't go down with this
crowd. You all know I don't care a rap about girls, and----"

"Vot made you got so red aroundt der gills, Pruce?" chuckled Hans. "Dot
peen a deadt gife avay."

Jack was glad the tables were turned, and he joined in the general
laugh.

"Oh, go to thunder, the whole of you!" roared Browning, as he again
flopped over in his berth.

"What would we do with the girls?" asked Hodge. "We have not sufficient
room on the boat to accommodate them here, and----"

"There must be some sort of a hotel at Green's Landing," said Diamond,
quickly. "Of course, Miss Gale, Inza's aunt, would go along as
chaperon."

"Well, it would be a change from Bar Harbor," said Frank. "This place is
too much like all other fashionable seaside resorts to suit me, and
still I do not feel like running away and leaving the girls. They would
think it a mean trick if we were to do so so soon."

"Perhaps they won't go," said Hodge, who did not seem much in favor of
the project.

"Well, we can ask them," spoke up Diamond, quickly.

"I am to see Inza this evening, and I'll find out about it," said Frank.
"If they can go, we want to get away bright and early to-morrow,
providing there is a breeze."



CHAPTER XVII.

THE MAN WHO SAW THE MONSTER.


The girls gladly welcomed the plan, for they felt there would be much
pleasure in a cruise among the islands of the bay. At first, however,
Miss Gale was opposed to it, but Frank won her over, as Inza felt
certain he could.

So the next morning the girls appeared on the pier at an early hour,
accompanied by the stern-faced but kind-hearted old maid, having been
brought down from the hotel by a carriage.

The boys were on the watch for them, and a boat, containing Frank and
Jack, pushed off from the _White Wings_ immediately.

The girls, the chaperon, the baggage--all were taken into the boat and
soon set aboard the yacht.

Half an hour later, with all sails set, the _White Wings_ was running
out to round the end of the breakwater.

With favorable wind and conditions, it is just a delightful half-day's
cruise from Bar Harbor to Green's Landing. Off Southwest Harbor the wind
proved something of a gale, as nothing in the shape of land lay between
them and the open ocean, from which the wind swept in powerfully.

Although the yacht buried her starboard rail at times and fairly hissed
through the water, Frank did not take a reef in a single sail, for there
were no squalls, and, "corinthian" though he was, he was gaining
confidence in his ability to handle the _White Wings_.

Paula was rather timid, but Inza enjoyed every moment of the sail. With
a position near Frank, who was at the wheel, she chatted and laughed,
not in the least affected by the motion or the heeling of the sloop.

Remarkable to state, Browning did not remain below and sleep in his
bunk, as was his custom. He came on deck, looking remarkably wide awake,
and he made himself agreeable to the girls and Miss Gale.

There was not swell enough to make anyone seasick, which added to the
pleasures of the cruise.

Diamond was doing his best to make himself agreeable to Paula, and she
seemed to find his company acceptable, but after a time she called Bruce
to her, so that she was between them.

"Don't you think Mr. Merriwell very reckless, Mr. Browning?" she asked.
"Mr. Diamond insists there is no danger, but just see how frightfully
the yacht tips at times?"

"Of course, I wouldn't want to frighten you, Miss Benjamin," said Bruce,
giving her a significant look and winking toward Jack; "but we all know
Frank Merriwell's a veritable landlubber, and he hasn't any more
judgment about running a boat like this than a four-year-old youngster."

Paula looked alarmed at this, and Diamond muttered something under his
breath.

When Jack was not looking, Bruce gave the Boston girl a reassuring
smile, whispering:

"Not the least danger in the world, Miss Benjamin."

She looked relieved, and then a mischievous expression flitted over her
face, for she understood Browning's little game. Immediately she
pretended to be both frightened and indignant with Diamond.

"I knew it!" she exclaimed. "Mr. Diamond could not deceive me. I was
sure there was great danger."

"Of course," said the big fellow, in his peculiar way, "we may reach
Green's Landing in safety, but the chances are against it. However, if
we are capsized, I shall not fail to assist you in getting to the
mainland, Miss Benjamin."

"How thoughtful of you!" she murmured, nestling a bit nearer the big
fellow, while Jack ground his teeth and looked as if he longed to murder
somebody. "How far away is the mainland?"

"Only about five miles--a short walk. Hem! I mean a short swim."

Diamond sourly observed:

"Without doubt, you could walk it much easier than you could swim it,
Mr. Browning."

"Oh, that is an easy swim," said Bruce, offhand. "I have often swam ten
or fifteen miles. Without doubt, I could get Miss Benjamin safely
ashore."

"It is nice to have such a wonderful swimmer near one--I feel so safe
now," said Paula.

Under his breath the Virginian growled something that sounded like
"confounded liar."

"Eh?" said Bruce. "What were you saying, sir?"

But Jack looked away, pretending to be interested in a distant island.
He showed his anger so plainly that Paula was aroused to tease him still
more, and she turned to chat confidentially with Bruce.

Jack could not stand that a great while. With a sudden assumption of
having forgotten something, he politely excused himself and went below.
He did not come on deck again till Green's Landing was in sight,
although he missed the most captivating portion of the sail across the
Eastern Bay.

As for Browning, he had started into the affair in jest, but he grew
more and more interested in Paula as they talked during the sail. He
found her remarkably bright and sensible and not at all "flighty." She
talked to him of things in which he was interested, and he was
astonished by the knowledge she displayed concerning some things of
which he had not fancied she was posted in the least.

On the other hand, the Boston girl was astonished to find in Bruce, who
had on first acquaintance seemed somewhat slow and dull, a fellow who
was interesting in various ways, who did not talk nonsense to her the
moment the opportunity offered to say something that she alone could
hear, who had an air of dignity and was not at all self-conscious.

Never before in all his life had Bruce made a better appearance, and,
long before Green's Landing was sighted, Paula had quite forgotten that
Diamond had left them and had not returned.

There were other vessels and yachts in the harbor at Green's Landing,
more of them than any of the party had expected to see there. In fact,
there was an air of prosperity about the town built on the slope facing
the harbor, although there were no large and attractive buildings, and
the houses seemed scattered about in a helter-skelter manner.

The _White Wings_ ran in amid the vessels and swung up her head to the
wind, her anchor going over with a splash and her sails coming down as
if the halyards were handled by veteran yachtsmen, instead of a lot of
amateurs.

In fact, Merriwell had sailed the boat like one familiar with the
Eastern Bay, seeming to fear no dangers from sunken ledges and shoals,
and his air was that of a veteran yachtsman.

But he had spent hours over his chart, so that he was perfectly familiar
with its appearance, and he could have drawn from memory a practically
perfect chart, marking every ledge, every shoal and every island, and
giving them their correct names. Having become thus familiar with the
chart, it was not so strange that he had been able to sail across the
Eastern Bay as if it were the open sea.

Having come to anchor, Paula was for going ashore at once, but Frank
urged them to remain and take lunch on board the yacht, and Inza was
pleased with the idea, so they stopped.

That was a jolly luncheon. There was plenty to eat, and plenty of light
drinks, kept cool by the fresh supply of ice taken in at Bar Harbor. The
sailors on board the vessels in the vicinity looked on with interest,
envying the merry party.

Not all on the _White Wings_ were merry. Jack Diamond was silent, and
not once did a smile cross his face. Paula tried to cheer him up, but
she did not succeed at all, and so she finally gave up in despair, again
turning to Browning.

An hour after luncheon was over, Bruce and Frank set the girls and Miss
Gale ashore, carrying their luggage up to the hotel, where
accommodations were obtained.

"We will leave here to-morrow, if you get enough of the place in that
time," said Frank, having seen them to their rooms.

He went down into the office of the hotel, where several rough-looking
men were listening to the yarn of a red-headed, red-bearded man in
rubber boots. Bruce seemed to be listening to the story, and, when Frank
said something about going out, he grunted:

"Wait a minute."

"Yes, sir," said the red-headed man, squirting a stream of tobacco juice
at the stove, which was well plastered with it already, "I have seen the
critter, and I know, by huck, it ain't no lie. He's right there on the
island, and if he ain't the Old Devil hisself, he's clost relation to
him."

"Now, I pull my traps right down past there every day," said an old
lobster fisherman, "and I swanny I ain't never seen northing of this
here pesky critter. Ef Jeb warn't sech a dinged liar," with a jerk of
his thumb toward the red-headed man, "I'd jest go down there myself and
spend some time a-huntin' this critter with horns an' hoofs an' glarin'
eyes. I'd find out what sort of a critter it was."

"Oh, yes!" returned the one who had been derisively designated as a
liar, "ef you wasn't sech a darn coward, you might do something of the
kind, Sile; but you are the biggest coward this side of Long Islan', so
the critter down on Devil Island won't git bothered by you none to
mention."

This was said with the utmost calmness, the speaker not seeming in the
least excited by being called a liar, nor did the man he had designated
as a coward do anything more than grunt derisively and remark:

"That's all right, Jeb. Don't nobody take no stock in what you say, and,
though this yarn about a critter on Devil Island has been goin' abaout a
year, I don't know a mortal bein' whose word is wu'th a cod line that
ever said he saw the varmint. Whut you're looking for is
notyrietiveness, an' that's why ye're tellin' such stuff."

"I know whut I seen, an' I'll swan to man that I did see the Monster of
Devil Island, as folks round here call him. I'd been down to York Island
in my pinkey, and was tryin' to git back here before night, but the wind
died out jest at dark, an' I made up my mind I might as well hang up in
Bold Island harbor as to spend half the night gittin' to the landin',
an' take a chance of straddlin' a ledge. I got inter the harbor all
right, an' kinder thought I'd try ter root out a few clams on Bold
Island beach. My old boat laid nearer to the back of Devil Island than
it did to Bold Island. I rowed off to Bold Island in my dory, but the
tide was comin' in, an' I didn't git no clams to speak of. It was plum
dark when I pulled back to the pinkey. Jest as I run alongside, I heered
a sound that riz my hair, by huck! It was kinder like a groan and a
smothered screech, an' I swan to man if it didn't seem to come right out
of my pinkey! Scart! Waal, it did give me something of a jump, an' that
I won't deny. If Sile had a-bin there he'd kerwollopsed. I riz right up
with an oar in my hand, ready to slam it over ther head uf any dad-bum
thing that wiggled round the pinkey. Jest then I heard that sound ag'in,
an' I made out it come from the point of rocks that makes off inter ther
harber. I looked that way, an' jest then ther consarnedest varmint I
ever sot eyes onto riz right up from behind some rocks----"

"There ye go!" cried Sile, triumphantly. "Why, you was jest tellin' it
was so dark ye could scarst see to the island! How was you able to see
this critter jump up from behind the rocks?"

"If you'll wait till I tell the story, mebbe you'll find out."

"Humph! Go ahead with yer yarn."

"Ez I said, up jumped this critter. His face was all burnin', like fire,
and his eyes was just like two black holes. Fellers what have told how
his eyes shined and flashed ain't never seen him, for I'll swan his eyes
was jest two black holes in his head. He waved his hands in the air, an'
them hands shone fiery same as his face. Then he let out a screech that
might have been heard down to ther Spoon Islands, an' away he went up
over the rocks and inter the woods. Say, I ain't easy skeered, but I
will admit I was a bit shaky then. I jest got inter the pinkey, pulled
ther anchor, then tumbled back inter ther dory an' took ther old pinkey
in tow. I wasn't very long gittin' out of Bold Island harbor, neether. I
wouldn't 'a' stayed there that night fer a hundred billion dollars! I
towed the pinkey clean to the Landin', an' you don't git me round Devil
Island ag'in arter dark, by huck!"

"What do you think of that yarn, Browning?" asked Frank, speaking softly
into the big fellow's ear.

"Huah!" grunted Bruce. "I think Sile was all right in calling Jeb a
liar."

"I have heard that these fishermen are remarkable at drawing the long
bow."

"And Jeb is an artist."

Some of those who had listened to the fisherman's story did not accept
it with such scorn as the lobster catcher had evinced. There was a sound
of excited voices when Jeb had finished, and one young fellow with a
hunchback and a cunning face jumped up, crying:

"It ain't no lie, an' I'll swan ter that! I've seen ther old critter on
Devil Island myself, though I ain't bin tellin' much about it, fer I
knowed every dern critter on Deer Island would call me a thunderin'
liar."

"There, by huck!" cried Jeb. "Now whut do you think of that? You hear
whut Put Wiley has to say!"

"Oh, yes, we hear it," drawled Sile, who was calmly filling a black
pipe. "But Put allwus was seein' queer things that nobody else could
see. I s'pose he dreamed that he saw the demon of Devil Island."

"It waren't no dream," fiercely declared the hunchback. "I saw the
critter when I was on the island--more'n that, the varmint chased me."

"Hey?" cried several, the excitement increasing.

"I'll swan to it!" declared Put, stanchly.

"When did all this take place?" asked one of the listeners.

"Last Sunday."

"And we never heard of it before? Say, Put, I never knowed you to tell
anything crooked, but it's a big yarn you're givin' us now. If all this
happened last Sunday, why ain't you told of it afore?"

"In the fust place, 'cause I was darn scart. In the second place, 'cause
I knowed everybody'd think I was lyin'."

"How did you happen to be down there on Devil Island Sunday?"

"Last time Jerry Peg was in Bold Island harbor he said he saw a
partridge fly up on the shore of Devil Island. He went ashore an' tried
to shoot her. He didn't shoot her, but he said he scart up six or eight
others in the thick woods. He come away without gittin' one of them.
Sunday I didn't have northing to do, so I loaded up my old gun and rowed
over to Devil Island. Didn't git there till three in the afternoon.
Beached my dory an' hitched the painter to a tree. Wisht I hedn't
hitched her arterward. Took out my old gun and went up inter ther
spruces. Tramped round to ther old stone quarry one way, but didn't see
northing. Turned and tramped clean roun' to t'other end of the island.
Scart up two partridges and fired at 'em both. Knocked down the second
one. Then I chased t'other, scarin' him up and scarin' him up, but never
gittin' him, though I fired at him twict. I was mad. Said I'd stay right
there an' hunt that dern partridge till ther Eastern Bay froze over, but
I'd git the thing. Arter a while I couldn't fin' him at all, but I kept
prowlin' round in the woods till it was beginnin' to git dark. I heard
somethin' like a rustlin' under some cedars and saw somethin' move. Then
I ups and fires. When I done that there was a yell that might have been
heard clean down to ther Hosses. Out of them cedars came a critter that
I swan was the old devil him own self! He had horns, an' he had a fiery
face and hands, an' he had black holes fer eyes, jest as Jeb told it,
and he had a red-hot spear of iron in his hand. He run at me to stick
that spear inter me. I know he was goin' to spear me and then kerry me
down below fer shootin' partridges Sunday. He waren't more'n six feet of
me when I poked out my old gun an' fired the second barrel right inter
his face and eyes. It never bothered him a bit. Run? Why, I flew! Never
kivered ground so fast before, an' I never 'spect to ag'in. I bet
sometimes I jumped as much as fifteen feet to a leap."

The speaker took out a dirty handkerchief and mopped the big drops of
perspiration off his face. He was shaking with excitement, and his eyes
gleamed. He showed every symptom of extreme terror as he related the
story, and it seemed plain enough that he believed every word he was
uttering.

"Go on!" cried several.

"I don't know how I ever got away," said the hunchback, huskily. "I do
know that monster was chasin' me right through the woods, tryin' to ram
his spear inter my back as if I was a flounder an' he was arter lobster
bait. I managed to hold onter my old gun, though at the time I didn't
know I was a-doin' of it. If I hed stopped ter think, I'd throwed the
gun erway. When I came out ter ther bank nigh ter whar my dory was
hitched, I made a jump that took me clean from ther top to ther bottom.
It seems as if right when I was in ther air I thought how that bo't was
tied with her painter, an' I rammed my hand inter my pocket fer my
knife. When I got ter ther boat I had the knife in my hand. I flung ther
gun in an' yanked open ther knife jest as ther critter came down over
ther bank arter me, an' he sailed down where I had jumped. I saw him do
it, and I know he spread out some red things like wings. I don't say
they was wings, but they looked like wings. I yanked open my knife and I
cut the painter. The tide was in, and the dory was afloat, which was a
good thing fer me, for when I jumped in I gave her a shove that sent her
away from the shore. I got ther oars inter ther water and pulled. The
critter didn't chase me any arter it reached the edge of the water."

Again the excited speaker wiped his face with the soiled handkerchief,
and then he sat down in a chair, as if the remembrance of the adventure
had taken all the strength out of him. He was shaking all over.

Frank Merriwell and Bruce Browning looked at each other.

"How is that for a vivid imagination?" grunted the big fellow.

"It's pretty good, but he seems to believe it himself," said Frank.

"He does act that way," confessed Bruce.

"I am getting interested," declared Frank. "When I get a chance, I shall
visit Devil Island."

"Where is it?"

"Not far from here, if I remember right."

"If I thought there was anything down there worth seeing, I wouldn't
mind going myself," said the big Yale man; "but these fishermen are such
confounded liars that you can't tell."

Those who had been listening to the story were urging the hunchback to
tell some more. After a little time, he stopped wiping his face and
said:

"That's all. The critter turned tail and disappeared, while I nigh
pulled my arms out gittin' away. Anybody that wants to can go nosin'
round Devil Island, but Put Wiley will keep away. Next time the
critter'd git me sure."

"Now, whut do ye think of that, Sile Collins?" cried Jeb, triumphantly.
"If I'm a liar, I ain't ther only one on Deer Island."

"Humph!" grunted Sile. "Let a yarn like this git started, an' half the
folks that go near Devil Island will see this ere critter. Some folks
is great at seein' such things."

But his appearance of ridicule did not disguise the fact that he had
been impressed by the story of the hunchback.

"Devil Island alwus hes bin haunted," declared one of the listeners.
"That's why it's deserted ter-day. The quarry ain't worked out, but the
big boardin' house stands empty on the island; the house ain't
occupied----"

"Sence that woman from Rockland lived in it," broke in another.

"She didn't live there long. I guess she saw things on the island that
made her reddy to git off."

"Queer freak for a woman to live there all alone, anyhow," observed Jeb.
"We used to see her round the house or on the shore when we run down
past the island, but all to once she was gone."

"Sence then," put in a man who had not spoken before, "I've seen lights
in the winders of the old boardin' house at night and in the winders of
the other house, though I've never ketched a glimp of a livin' critter
movin' on the island by day."

"Oh, it's haunted," nodded the one who had declared so before. "Anybody
what wants to can go foolin' round there, but I'm goin' to keep away."

He rose to his feet. He was tall and thin, with a broken nose that
seemed to tell the story of some fierce fight at an island dance. His
starboard eye was crooked, so that it was difficult to tell just which
way he was looking. He took in a fresh chew of tobacco and slouched out
of the hotel.

"This is a place to see odd characters," said Merriwell.

Browning nodded.

They listened to the men who remained, and for some time there was an
animated discussion about the creature on Devil Island. In the midst of
it the hunchback left the room.

"I want to have a talk with that fellow," said Frank. "Come on."

They followed the hunchback outside.

"Wait a minute, if you please," called Frank, hurrying after the
hunchback.

The fellow paused and turned round.

"What do ye want?" he asked.

His voice was harsh and unpleasant, and there was a suspicious look in
his eyes.

"I heard your story about the creature you saw on Devil Island," said
Frank.

"Waal, what of it?"

"My yacht is out there in the harbor, and I am thinking of taking her
and running down to Devil Island. I have a great desire to get a look at
the monster. You spoke about Bold Island harbor, and I want to find out
just how to get in there and how near I can anchor to Devil Island."

The light in the eyes of the hunchback seemed to shift in a queer way as
he stared at Frank. Browning had come up and was watching the fellow
closely.

"You keep away from Devil Island!" almost snarled Put Wiley, as the
deformed fellow had been called. "You don't know what you'll strike
there, and----"

"I'll take my chances on that. All I want of you is to tell me the best
place to lay while I am down there. I want the _White Wings_ in a good
harbor if a storm should come up."

"Waal, I don't tell ye northing about it. All I've got ter say is keep
away."

Then, despite Frank's effort to say something more to the fellow, he
hurried away.

"Well, that's a really jolly chap!" observed Browning.

"All of that," laughed Frank.

"He didn't seem to like your appearance, Merry."

"Well, I can't say that I admired his appearance."

"You will have to seek your information elsewhere."

"It wasn't so much that I wanted to find out about Bold Island harbor. I
wanted to get him talking. Thought I might be able to trip him up if I
got a good chance to ask him questions."

"But he wouldn't talk."

"He seemed suspicious."

They watched the hunchback go into a store. Just before passing through
the door, which stood open, he turned his head and looked back.

"Wanted to see if we were following him," smiled Frank.

They walked about the village, finally returning to the hotel. As they
approached the hotel Inza and Paula came out and asked to be shown
around the village.

For an hour the four strolled about. From the yacht in the harbor
Diamond saw them occasionally, and the Virginian's heart was throbbing
with anger. He felt that he could kill Bruce Browning without a qualm of
conscience.

Finally the party returned to the hotel, but, before leaving the girls,
Frank had invited them to be ready for a short cruise on the yacht the
following morning, and they had promised to do so.

As the boys approached the wharf beside which their boat floated, a man
came toward them and spoke to them. He was the man with the crooked eye
and broken nose.

"I hear you chaps are thinkin' of goin' down to Devil Island?" he said,
one eye seeming to look at Frank while the other looked at Bruce. "Is
that right?"

"We may go down there," answered Frank.

"To-morrow."

"Better not."

"Why?"

"It's dangerous."

"How?"

"You heard the yarns about the critter on the island, and you ought to
know why."

"Those yarns are the very things that make me want to go down there,"
declared Frank.

The cock-eyed man looked surprised.

"You don't want to be ketched by the monster, do ye?"

"No, but we'd like to catch the monster," laughed Frank.

"You can't do that. The critter ain't human. If he ain't the devil
hisself, he's one of the devil's imps."

"Well, we'd like to catch a genuine imp. If we could capture a real imp
and take him to Boston or New York we could get a royal good figure for
him from the manager of some dime museum. Freaks and curiosities are in
great demand, and they are very scarce."

The cock-eyed man seemed astonished and disgusted.

"Why, you dern fools!" he exclaimed. "You don't 'magine you kin ketch a
real imp, do ye?"

"We can give him a good hustle," answered Merry, with apparent
seriousness. "He'll have to be lively if he gets away."

"I've hearn tell of how you city chaps didn't know much, but I did
s'pose you knowed more'n that!" cried the man. "You'll be kerried off if
you go down to Devil Island and try to chase the critter there. You'll
disappear, an' you'll never be heard of ag'in."

"We'll take our chances."

"Say, I want ter tell you something. We don't say much about it round
here, but most ev'rybody knows it. There was a man kem here this spring
from Boston. He heard about Devil Island being haunted, and he was jest
darn fool enough to want to go down there and see the spook. He went. He
got some lobster ketchers to set him ashore and wait for him. They
wouldn't go ashore with him, but they stayed in the boat reddy to take
him on when he got reddy to leave. He never left!"

"What happened to him?"

"Who knows? 'Bout half-a-nour arter he went ashore there was the
awfullest screech of agony come from somewhere on the island. Seemed
jest like a man givin' a death yell. It scart them lobster ketchers so
they rowed off a piece, but they waited till dark. He never come. Then
they rowed off, and nothing of that air man has ever bin seen sence."

"Didn't anybody go down to the island to see if they could find him? A
tree may have fallen on him, or something of that sort."

"There was six men went down from here two days arterward, an' whut do
you s'pose they found?"

"The man from Boston."

"Didn't I tell ye he hadn't never been seen sence! They found a new-made
grave!"

"What was in the grave?"

"They didn't wait to see, but they saw whut was at the head of the
grave."

"What was that?"

"A new granite headstone."

"Yes?"

"True's I'm here. It was cut out nice an' clean, an' on it was chiseled
some words."

"What were the words?"

"'Sacred to the mem'ry of Rawson Denning.'"

"Who was Rawson Denning?"

"That was the name the man from Boston sailed under!"

The cock-eyed man whispered the words, his effort plainly being to make
them as impressive as possible.

"Now," said Merriwell, "you have awakened my curiosity so that nothing
can keep me away from Devil Island. I wouldn't miss going down there for
anything. I simply dote on mysteries, and this seems to be a most
fascinating one. I am going to lay claim to it, and I'll wager something
that I solve it. Hereafter the mystery of Devil Island belongs to me
till I make it a mystery no longer."

"Waal, you are a fool!" snarled the cock-eyed man. "I told you this for
your own good, so you might have sense enough to stay away, but you
ain't got no sense in your head! Go on, if ye want to, and I'll bet you
git planted side of the man from Boston!"

Then he turned round and walked away.

"It is plain enough," murmured Frank, "that you do not want us to go to
Devil Island. We will go there to-morrow."

"I should guess yes!" grunted Browning. "I am feeling just like looking
the place over."

Then they entered their boat and rowed off to the yacht.



CHAPTER XVIII.

THE MONSTER OF THE DEEP.


The following forenoon the _White Wings_ sailed out of the harbor at
Green's Landing, bearing beside her regular crew Miss Gale and the
girls. She was bound for Devil Island, and neither the girls nor their
chaperon had wished to be left behind.

It was a glorious summer day, with a medium breeze. As they ran out of
the harbor Frank noticed a man at work in a lap-streak sailboat.

It was the fellow with the broken nose and the crooked eye, and he
seemed to be preparing to get away. He did not even glance toward the
_White Wings_.

Merry called Browning's attention to the man.

"There is our amiable friend who gave us the warning," he said.

"That's so," nodded Bruce. "By jingoes! that's a peculiar boat he's in.
Look at her--long and narrow. Don't look as if she'd carry much sail
without upsetting."

"That's right," agreed Frank. "It is a queer boat, but she has mast
enough for a big spread of canvas."

They thought no more of the boat till they were in sight of Devil
Island. Then Bruce saw a small boat that lay low in the water and
carried her big spread of canvas in a reckless manner, although she was
laying over before the wind. This boat was literally flying through the
water, and it was plain enough that she was a wonderful sailer.

"Look here, Merry," said Bruce, "isn't that the lap-streak in which we
saw our friend, the cock-eyed man, as we were leaving Green's Landing?"

Frank had a glass at hand, and he quickly took a survey of the flying
sailboat.

"Sure as you are born!" he cried. "That is the very boat! How in the
name of all that is wonderful does she stand up under that spread of
sail?"

"Don't ask me," grunted Bruce. "I didn't suppose she could carry half as
much."

"Look at the speed of her!" exclaimed Hodge.

"There's only one man in the boat, is there, Merry?" asked Bruce.

"I believe there is," said Frank. "Our friend with the crooked eye is
steering."

"I don't see anybody else."

"Because the other person is keeping out of sight."

"What?"

"There is a man lying in the bottom of that boat."

"How do you know?"

"I saw him lift his head to look at us a few moments ago."

"That's strange."

"It's plain enough he doesn't want to be seen."

"What does it mean?"

"Don't know."

They watched the flying boat take the lead of them and saw it bear
toward a distant rocky point of the island ahead. Near that point some
sagging sheds could be seen. The small boat rounded the point and was
hidden behind the island.

"There is Bold Island, famed for its wonderful clams, over yonder," said
Frank. "Bold Island harbor must lay between that and Devil Island, but I
didn't find it on the chart. However, there is a passage between the two
islands which is perfectly safe at high water. We will run down in there
and drop anchor as near Devil Island as possible."

They did so, finding a sheltered cove where it was plain that a boat
could lay in any kind of a storm.

Close to them was the rocky shore of Devil Island. Beyond the rocks rose
a high bank, upon which was a gloomy tangle of woods. There was
something forbidding in the appearance of the island with the unpleasant
name.

Frank and Bruce were eager to get ashore at once. As soon as the sails
were cared for and things were ship-shape, they prepared to leave the
yacht.

In vain Paula had tried to draw Diamond into conversation. Jack would
answer her questions--he was extremely polite--but he made no attempt to
be entertaining. At last, just as Frank and Bruce were preparing to
enter the small boat, she left Jack and called to Inza:

"Come on!"

Then, to the astonishment of the boys, the girls came over to the rail
and asked to be assisted into the boat.

"Eh?" grunted Browning. "Where are you going?"

"With you," answered Paula. "We're not going to stay here and mope with
nobody to talk to. Aunt Abigail is reading in the cabin, and I don't
believe she will mind."

"Perhaps you had better ask her," said Frank, weakly.

"It isn't necessary," assured Inza, quickly. "Come, help me into the
boat. You lazy fellows, did you expect to get out of giving us a row? I
know you don't want to pull us around, but you can't get out of it."

And then she came over the rail and leaped lightly into the boat.
Browning aided Paula, after giving Frank a helpless look.

"We can't get out of it," whispered Merry. "We'll row them round a
while, and then we'll bring them back to the yacht."

Bruce had brought out a repeating rifle from Frank's supply of arms in
the cabin, and that was placed in the prow of the boat. Both girls sat
on the stern seat.

With a double set of oars the boys pulled off from the yacht. It was a
strange spectacle to see Bruce Browning handling an oar, but he had been
a famous all-round athlete when he first entered Yale, and he had not
forgotten how to row.

They asked the girls where they wished to go, and Paula answered:

"Oh, anywhere."

Under other circumstances, Browning might not have been so willing to
pull at an oar, but he knew Diamond was gnawing his heart out, and the
big fellow had developed a sudden satisfaction in tormenting the
Virginian.

A distant island attracted the girls. On a ledge near it was a flock of
white gulls, covering the ledge so it looked as if it were a mass of
snow. They pulled toward the island.

The gulls proved shy and keen of sight, for they began to leave the
ledge shortly after the boat drew away from the yacht, and half the
distance to the island had not been covered before not a gull remained
on the ledge.

"Didn't even get near enough for a real good shot with the rifle,"
grunted Bruce. "I'd like to get a shot at something."

Then he gave a cry of astonishment, took in his oars quickly, and caught
up the rifle.

"What is it?" asked Frank.

"Look! look!" exclaimed the big Yale man, rising to his feet with the
rifle in his hands. "There is a target for me!"

They looked in the direction indicated, and they saw something that at
first seemed like a black rock. But it moved--it was swimming slowly
along the surface of the water.

"A whale, by Jove!" shouted Merriwell. "Let him have it, Bruce!"

Browning lifted the rifle and took careful aim.

Crack!

He did not miss his mark. The whale was seen to give a sudden start, and
then, stung by the bullet, the monster of the deep rushed straight at
the boat!

"Look out!"

"He's coming!"

"My goodness!"

Not till he saw the whale start straight for the boat did Bruce Browning
realize what a foolish thing he had done. It seemed that the monster was
bent on the destruction of the boat and its occupants.

Merriwell uttered the first cry, which was a warning to Bruce, who was
still standing, rifle in hand. Frank was going to use the oars, and he
knew he would throw Bruce into the bottom of the boat by starting
suddenly without warning.

The two girls uttered the other exclamations. Paula screamed and covered
her face with her hands, while Inza turned pale and stared at the
onrushing monster.

Frank fully realized their peril. He knew that it meant certain death to
them all if the whale struck the boat, and there seemed no possible
escape.

Bruce dropped down and Frank gave a surge at the oars that made the boat
give a leap like a thing of life. Then Merriwell pulled as never before
had he rowed, not even in the nerve-straining, soul-killing college
races against Harvard.

Jump! jump! jump!--how he made the boat leap through the water! He was
making the boat leap to get out of the whale's course.

Bruce tried to get his oars into the rowlocks and aid, but, for once in
his life, at least, the big fellow had lost all his coolness, and he
lost an oar overboard.

"He'll strike us!"

"We're lost!"

"Hold fast!"

Frank continued to pull, but he was ready to drop the oars and make a
leap for Inza the moment the boat was struck.

"I'll do my best to save her!" he mentally exclaimed.

Still he knew the shock would hurl them far into the water, while the
boat would be shattered in pieces. He might be stunned--he might be
instantly killed.

For all that Inza stared straight at the whale, it is probable that she
realized their terrible peril far better than Paula, who was so
frightened that she covered her eyes with her hands.

Frank began to realize that there was a possibility of getting out of
the way if the whale did not change its course. He strained every
nerve--he pulled for life.

"Thank Heaven!"

Browning gasped the words, for the monster had not swerved from its
original course, and it dashed past the boat some distance astern.

Even then Frank was not satisfied that the danger was past. He expected
to see the whale stop, turn about and rush at them again.

Nothing of the kind happened. The monster was headed straight for the
distant passage that led out between the islands toward the lower bay
and the open sea. He seemed to be in a great hurry, too, for he made the
water fly as he sped along, the waves in his wake causing the little
boat to rock when he had passed.

Merriwell stopped pulling and sat watching the whale, never uttering a
word till it had passed out of sight far down the bay. Then he turned
and observed:

"It's plain enough that he doesn't consider it healthy around here, and
he is in a hurry to get away."

There was a smile on his face, and he seemed quite undisturbed by what
had happened.

"Oh, Frank!" cried Inza, "what if he had struck us?"

"He would have bumped his nose."

"Oh, how can you joke now!"

"Now is the time to joke. I didn't have time to think of a joke a little
while ago."

Browning dug himself out of the bottom of the boat, hoisted his huge
body to a seat, and drew a deep breath of relief.

"A man who shoots at a whale with a rifle is a thundering fool!" he
observed.

"And a man who tells him to shoot is another," laughed Frank.

"That is my first adventure with a whale," said the big Yale man, "and,
if I have my way about it, it will be my last."

"Is--is he really gone?" faltered Paula, looking around.

"Yes, Miss Benjamin," assured Frank, "he has departed in the direction
of Greenland."

"And he didn't touch the boat?"

"If he had we'd be enjoying a swimming match for the yacht now."

"If he had," said Inza, "some of us would have been killed right away,
and the rest of us would have been drowned."

"Let's go back to the yacht!" urged the trembling Paula, her voice
choking.

"I am quite ready," said Inza. "I don't care about going over to that
island now."

So Frank pulled back to the floating oar, and then the boat was headed
toward the _White Wings_.

Merriwell did his best to restore the girls' spirits. He joked and
laughed, and before the yacht was reached he had almost convinced them
that they had been in no great danger.

"But, oh, it gave me such a fright!" said Paula. "Just to see that huge
creature coming through the water straight toward us! It was awful!"

Frank was chosen as the one to relate the adventure to Miss Gale, for
the girls were aware that she might scold them for leaving the yacht
without her consent, and Frank could make it all right with her.

Hans was on deck, but he had not seen their adventure with the whale,
although he had heard the report of the rifle, for he cried as they
approached:

"Vot you shooted? I heard der gun ven id fired you off."

"We shot a large seabird," answered Frank; "but the varmint got away
from us."

"Vot kindt up a pird vos a varmint?" asked Hans. "You don'd remember dot
I haf efer seen von, do I?"

"It is large enough to make a fish chowder," explained Merry.

"Vot vos I gifin' you?" cried Hans. "Who efer heart a pird uf dot could
make a vish-chowter! I vos guyin' you, I oxpect."

Browning threw him the painter as they came alongside, and soon the
girls were safely on the yacht.

"Come back as soon as you have fixed it with Miss Gale," said Bruce,
"and we will go onto the island and investigate."

Frank nodded and then went below. In a few minutes he came out laughing
and assured the girls that it was all right. Then he dropped into the
boat again, and soon he and Browning were on Devil Island.

They pulled the boat up on the beach and made it fast. Frank took the
rifle, and Bruce looked at his revolver, which he had slipped into his
pocket before leaving the yacht the first time. The _White Wings_ was
riding at anchor within easy speaking distance of the shore.

"Which way shall we go?" asked Bruce.

"The buildings are on the other side of the island," said Merry. "Let's
go straight across."

"All right."

They found a path by which they could climb the bank, making it plain
that human beings had traveled on the island not a little at some time,
even if the place was deserted then.

Following the path a short distance, they came to three small camps
built of logs. The camps were not in a very pleasant location, although
it was a sheltered spot.

After looking around the huts a few minutes, they turned from the path
and struck straight up through the woods, which were thick and dark.
Beneath their feet twigs crackled and the dead leaves of a year before
sometimes rustled where they had piled together but had not rotted. The
woods were dark and in places the ground was covered by moss, so that
their feet made not a sound.

Higher and higher they climbed, till they came out into a natural
opening that was surrounded by the gloomy trees. This seemed close to
the highest ground on the island, which could be seen rising rocky and
bare through the trees at one side of the glade.

And in the midst of the glade was a grave that had not been made many
months, and a granite stone stood at the head.

"It's the grave the cock-eyed man told us of!" exclaimed Frank. "Let's
look at the stone."

They approached the grave, and Frank bent down to look at the stone. As
the cock-eyed man had said, on it were the words:

"Sacred to the memory of Rawson Denning."

As Merry was looking at the headstone it seemed that a voice in the air
above them hoarsely whispered:

"Dead and buried!"



CHAPTER XIX.

IN THE DARK WOODS.


"Eh?" gasped Browning, amazed. "What was that?"

"Dead and buried!"

Again that mysterious, awesome, uncanny whisper that seemed to float in
the air. They looked around, they looked upward, they saw nothing but
the blue sky above the leaves and somber trees that surrounded them.

"Dead and buried!"

Now it seemed to come from the ground--seemed to issue from the grave
before them! It was as if the dead man hidden away down there had
uttered the words.

Frank Merriwell shrugged his shoulders, while his companion shivered and
felt for his revolver. A cold chill swept over the big Yale man, as if
he felt the touch of a dead hand. He was awed despite the fact that
there was nothing superstitious in his character.

They listened, expecting to hear the whispers again, but there was such
a silence in the woods as seemed to press down on them like a crushing
weight. Not even a breath of a breeze reached the spot to rustle the
trees, and no sound of the surf chafing against the distant rocky shore
reached their ears.

It seemed at that moment that they alone were the only human living
creatures on that uncanny island. A sense of desolation came upon them
and made them feel as if they were far, far from human beings, buried as
in the heart of a mighty desert.

They did not stir; they stood there listening.

Silence.

Once, far on a Western desert, Browning had experienced the same
feeling of loneliness, but then there was not the grewsome, ghostly fear
that now clutched at his heart and chilled its beatings so it seemed to
be struggling feebly like an imprisoned bird fluttering against the
cruel bars of a cage.

The big fellow choked. There seemed to be a lack of pure air for him to
breathe. He longed to cry out, but his tongue lay stiff and paralyzed in
his mouth.

Then came the thought that some uncanny spell was being wrought about
him, and that soon he would be body and soul in the power of the evil
spirit of the island.

With a mighty effort he moved, he spoke, he said:

"Come, Frank, let's get away from here!"

His voice was husky and hoarse, so that he was startled by its sound.
Merriwell glanced toward him, lifting a hand with a gesture that warned
to silence, while he bent his head toward the grave and listened.

For some moments both stood still, and again Browning felt that strange
spell stealing upon him, as if hypnotic eyes were peering out from the
shadows and looking down into his soul. He shook himself, he even looked
around in search of those eyes; but he saw nothing save the dark, gloomy
woods and the funereal shadows.

Frank straightened up. There was a queer look on his face.

"Did you hear it?" he asked, in a whisper.

"Of course I heard it," answered Browning, thinking he spoke of the
whisper. "The words came to my ears distinctly."

"No, no; I did not mean the whisper."

"Then what did you mean? I heard no other sound."

"It is strange, for I fancied I heard it distinctly."

"Where did the sound come from?"

Without a word, Merriwell pointed downward toward the grave. There was
a look on his face that made his companion shiver.

Bruce swallowed down the lump in his throat.

"I am a fool!" he thought. "I am ashamed of such childish fears!"

Then he forced himself to distinctly ask:

"What kind of a sound did you think you heard?"

"A rustle--a movement. It was as if the body down there had turned
restlessly in its bed of earth!"

Never did Bruce forget how those words sounded in the deep silence of
the black woods. Never did he forget the sensation of unutterable horror
that they brought with a shock to his soul. He stared at Frank, his jaw
dropping, while awful thoughts ran riot in his brain.

They had heard the whispered words, "dead and buried," which at first
seemed to float in the air, and then appeared to come up from the grave
before them. Browning fancied the dead lips down there uttering those
words. He fancied the murdered man turning restlessly in his cold, dark
bed--turning, twisting, unable to rest till he had been avenged.

What thoughts fled through Frank Merriwell's brain? Surely he was
besieged by uncanny fancies, but never in all his life was he more on
the alert. The very air of mystery that surrounded him was a stimulant.
He had solved many mysteries, and now he was determined to solve this
one.

Down the slope in the shadows of the dark woods below there was a
rustling sound. Quick as a flash, Merriwell wheeled, rifle in hand, and
bounded in that direction.

Browning did not care to be left there alone beside that grave, and he
followed Frank in a hurry. He saw Merry disappear amid the trees, heard
a sudden chattering, and then there was a flash of fire and the clear
report of a rifle. Frank had fired at something while he was on the run.

The big Yale man crashed into the woods and came upon his friend, who
was stooping to pick up a dead squirrel.

"I rather think this fellow made the rustling that seemed to come from
the grave," said Merry. "I was deceived by my ears, that is all. As I
ran in under the trees here I could not resist the temptation to take a
shot at him, for he was running, too. Now," he slowly added, gazing
sadly at the dead squirrel, "I wish I had not fired."

"Oh, it's nothing but a squirrel," said Bruce. "If I could make such a
shot as that I'd be proud of it."

"I am not proud, only sorry," said Frank, as he gently placed the
squirrel on a soft bed of moss. "Look at the little fellow, Bruce! A few
moments ago he was full of life, happy and free; now he is dead, killed
by a cruel brute of a man! I didn't think I'd hit him, but that is no
excuse. I ought not to have tried. Somewhere he has a home, a nest, a
mate, perhaps little ones. He'll never return to his soft nest, never
again will he scamper through the woods, leaping from bough to bough,
playing hide-and-seek through the brush and the leaves. He is dead, and
I killed him. Bruce, this one thoughtless, hasty act of mine lies like a
sore weight on my conscience. I'll not forget it in a week. It will
trouble me--it will haunt me."

Frank's voice was rather husky with emotion and his handsome face
betrayed his deep feeling of sorrow, and Bruce Browning, who was not
cruel or hard-hearted, but who would have killed a squirrel and never
given it a second thought, now began to realize that there might be
something wrong in the act.

"Oh, it's nothing to make a fuss over," he said, quickly.

"Yes, it is," declared Frank, sincerely. "That little squirrel never
harmed me, but I murdered him. He was one of God's creatures, and I had
no right to lift my hand against him. I feel like a brute, a wretch, a
murderer!"

Then Frank knelt down on the moss beside the dead squirrel.

"Oh, little squirrel!" he said, his voice breaking into a sob; "how much
I would give could I restore your life to you! But I have killed you,
and all my regret and sorrow over the act will not bring you back to
scamper and frolic through the woods."

To his astonishment, Bruce felt a misty blur come over his eyes, and
there was a choking sensation in his throat.

"Come away, Merry--come and leave it!" he exclaimed, thickly. "Don't be
a fool!"

"No," said Frank, "I can't leave him this way."

He took a handkerchief from his pocket and wrapped the squirrel in it,
doing so with such gentleness that Bruce wondered more and more. Then he
searched about till he found a thin, flat rock that was about a foot
long and four inches wide. With that rock Merriwell scooped a grave in
the ground. That grave he lined with soft bits of moss, and then he took
the squirrel, wrapped in the handkerchief shroud, and placed it in the
grave. The earth was thrown in on the little body, and heaped up in a
mound till it was a tiny model of the grave in the glade above. Then
Frank thrust the flat rock into the ground as a headstone, and a tear
dropped silently down.

Browning had turned away. The big fellow had been taught a lesson he
would not soon forget, and more than ever he admired and respected Frank
Merriwell, who could be as brave as a lion or as gentle as a dove.

"Come."

Frank had arisen. Bruce followed him from the spot.

They did not climb the rise and again enter the glade that contained the
mysterious grave, but Frank led the way down through the woods till they
came out to the rocky shore of the island, along which ran the path they
had left some time before. Now they struck into this path and followed
it round the island.

Not a word passed between them till they came to the old granite quarry.
There on their right the bluff of rock rose nearly a hundred feet in the
air, with cedars growing away up on the heights. There were drill marks
on the face of the rock. A weed-grown railroad ran into the quarry, and
on the track sat a flat car, loaded with granite.

"By jingoes!" exclaimed Browning. "It's plain enough there was some
business done here some time."

Frank looked at the face of the broad wall of granite.

"I wonder why they ceased quarrying it?" he speculated.

"I suppose the fishermen would say it was because the island was
haunted."

"More likely because the granite was not of the best quality. Now that
stone does not look to me as if it is first class. It seems to me it is
poor granite, and that is why the quarry was abandoned."

"Guess you are right," nodded Bruce.

They walked along the track which led out of the quarry and down toward
some sagging sheds, in which they could see other flat cars.

When the sheds were reached, they turned to the right and saw at a
distance a house. Beyond the house was a large square building with many
windows. Not far from the car sheds was an old wharf.

"There is the house where the boss must have lived," said Merry; "and
beyond it is the boarding house for the laborers."

"Let's go look them over," said Bruce, who seemed remarkably energetic
for him.

So they walked over to the house. It was securely locked, and the
windows were fastened down. Near the house was a well, from which they
drew water and took a drink from an old dipper that hung on a rusty nail
driven into the curb.

From the house a path led down toward the boarding house. They walked
down there and could look down into a beautiful little cove close at
hand.

"Why didn't we run in there and anchor, instead of anchoring away round
back of the island?" said Bruce.

"Simply because no one mentioned this cove, and I did hear Bold Island
harbor mentioned," answered Frank.

In the distance they could see three or four white sails. Far away
beyond a group of islands rose a trail of smoke that told some small
steamer was passing. A gull was circling over the cove, and a black crow
cawed dismally from the top branch of a tall spruce.

For all that the sun was in the sky, there was something oppressively
lonely and deserted about Devil Island.

"Let's try the doors here," suggested Bruce.

The front door was fastened, but they found a back door that they were
able to force open, as the nails that held it had rusted in the rotten
wood till they readily bent before the pressure.

"I don't know as we have any right to go in here," said Frank.

"Nonsense!" exclaimed Bruce. "The place is deserted."

"Somebody owns it."

"According to the yarns of the fishermen, it is owned by a monster with
blazing face and black holes for eyes."

"None of them told of seeing the monster anywhere around this building.
He was seen in the woods or on the other side of the island."

"I think we'll see him here just as quick as anywhere," grinned Bruce,
who had thrown off the uncanny feeling that had possessed him as they
stood beside the grave in the woods.

"Those stories were not told for nothing," declared Frank.

"Why were they told?"

"I don't know--not yet."

"But you have an idea?"

"Yes."

"What is it?"

"I rather fancy somebody wishes to keep people away from this island for
some reason."

"I thought the same thing."

"What that reason can be I do not know."

"But, Frank," said Bruce, hesitatingly, "you heard something as we stood
beside that grave up there in the woods?"

"Yes."

"A whisper?"

"Sure."

"What did it say?"

"'Dead and buried.'"

"Then it was not imagination, for we both heard the same thing. Now how
do you explain that?"

"Somebody whispered the words."

"Where was that somebody?"

"You know just as well as I do; but those words were whispered for our
ears to hear. We heard them."

"I do not believe in ghosts any more than you do, Merriwell, but I will
admit that there was a mighty queer feeling came over me as we stood
there near that grave."

"I felt it," confessed Frank. "Had I believed in ghosts, I should have
been badly frightened."

"Well, let's look this building over. We may find something in here."

So they began to explore the old boarding house. It was a large
building, and they climbed the stairs to the second story, where none of
the windows were boarded up. Up there were the rooms where the laborers
had slept. They looked through them all, but found nothing of interest.
At last they stopped by a window and looked out upon the water.

"By Jove!" exclaimed Merriwell. "Look down there!"

"What is it?"

"A boat."

"Where?"

"Beyond the land at the other side of the cove. It's laying close in to
shore. See the mast?"

"Yes, I see it now. Why, it almost seems aground! Wonder what it's there
for?"

"Whoever was in the boat has come ashore on the island."

"Then why didn't he run into the cove down here?"

"Because the boat would be seen in the cove, and where it lays it is not
liable to be seen from the island."

"Why should anybody wish to come onto the island here and not be seen?"

"I don't know, but I'll wager something that that is the lap-streak
sailboat belonging to our friend, the cock-eyed man. If I am right, he
is somewhere on this island."

"He warned us not to come here."

"Yes. He told us what happened to the Boston man who came here. It was
plain to me that he wanted us to keep away. He ran down ahead of us, and
he is on the island. Why should he care to frighten us away? Why should
he hurry to get here ahead of us? I tell you, old man, this is a mystery
worth solving."

Bruce grunted. He felt that Merriwell was right, but he realized it
might not be an easy thing to solve the mystery of the island.

The big Yale man stood looking out of the window and watching the boat,
while Frank continued his investigations. Merriwell wandered from room
to room, and at last descended the stairs again.

"If he gets an idea that there is really a wonderful mystery here,"
muttered Bruce, "he will stay till he has solved it if he spends the
remainder of the summer in this vicinity. Never saw a fellow who took
such an interest in anything mysterious."

The wind was rising again. It rattled a window, and somewhere about the
building it made a loose board clap, clap, clap, in a way that made
Browning think of clods falling on a coffin.

All at once, somewhere down below in the old building, a shriek rang
out, startling, shrill, wild and awful. It froze the blood in Browning's
veins and seemed to cause his hair to stand upon his head. Following the
shriek came--silence!



CHAPTER XX.

FRANK SEES THE MONSTER.


Instantly Browning thought how the fisherman had told of the awful
screams that came from the lips of the monster of the island. Had that
monster uttered this cry?

Where was Merriwell?

"Frank!"

Browning shouted the name of his friend and the empty rooms echoed with
the sound.

"Frank Merriwell!"

From room to room rushed the big fellow. There was no answer to his
cries.

Quickly satisfying himself that Merriwell was nowhere in the upper story
of the boarding house, Bruce bounded down the stairs four at a time.

"Frank, where are you?"

No sound save his own voice and the echoes.

A sickening sensation seized upon Browning. He began to feel that a
calamity, a tragedy, had taken place.

From room to room he rushed, but he saw nothing of the one he sought.
Was it possible Frank had left the building without saying anything to
him? He could not think so.

All at once he stood before an open door, and he dimly saw a flight of
stairs leading downward into the darkness. A cold, dank smell came up
from the depths below.

Browning quickly decided that there must be some sort of a cellar or
basement down there. The door was open. Frank had gone down to
investigate.

But the cry that had rung through the building! What had happened below?

For a moment Bruce hesitated. Then he quickly felt in his pocket and
drew forth a match safe. A moment later, with lighted match in his
fingers, he was descending the stairs into the dank and moldy basement.

At the bottom of the stairs was another door. It was open. Bruce stepped
through it and stumbled over something, dropping his match, so that he
was in the densest darkness.

At that moment the wild shriek rang out again so near that it seemed
uttered in his very ear.

He had his revolver in his hand, and he whirled, his heart having sprung
into his mouth, ready to use the weapon. In the darkness he saw nothing.

Bruce was shaking as he crouched there. He heard his teeth rattle
together, and he realized that he was completely unnerved. He was
tempted to leap up and bound up the stairs. Indeed, the desire to do so
was almost irresistible.

He listened, thinking he might hear something like a moving person, but
after that blood-chilling scream there was no other sound.

At last he put out his hand and touched the object over which he had
fallen. That it was a human body he instantly realized.

The thought that Frank Merriwell lay there dead in the darkness nearly
overcame him. He feared to light another match. That touch had told him
that the body was not that of a person stiff and cold, as it must be had
it lain there some time. It was still warm, as if with life, but
still--how still!

Browning's fingers shook as he got out a match. He prayed that he might
not look on the face of his dead friend. The horrible fear of what he
might see completely unmanned him.

Scratch--splutter--flare!

He lighted the match, and it blazed up at once. Its light showed him the
sight he had dreaded to behold. Frank Merriwell lay before him, his face
ghastly pale, his eyes closed.

The match dropped from the nerveless fingers of the big Yale man and
went out. A low groan escaped his lips.

Then came the thought that Merriwell might not be dead. Quickly he
caught up the body, flung it over his shoulders, and then he literally
leaped up the creaking stairs.

Bruce did not pause till he had carried Frank outside the building. Then
he took a look at Merry's pale face, saw blood trickling down out of his
hair, and rushed with him to the well near the house.

Placing Frank on the ground, the big fellow fell to bathing his head,
upon which was a slight wound that cut through the scalp. It was not
twenty seconds before Frank opened his eyes.

Bruce gave an exclamation of joy.

"By Heaven! I thought you were dead!" he cried.

Merriwell looked dazed for a moment, and then murmured:

"I saw it!"

"Eh? Saw what?"

"The monster!"

"What? You did?"

"Sure."

"Where? Down in the basement of the boarding house?"

"Yes."

"What did it look like?"

"Just as described."

"Fiery face and hands?"

"Yes."

"Black holes for eyes?"

"Yes."

Browning gasped.

"What did it do?"

"Shrieked."

"I heard it!"

"And then it seemed that the whole building fell on me. There was a
bright glare of light, and the next I knew was when I opened my eyes
just now."

"Something struck you down."

"I think you are right."

"Know I am. I found you down there in the basement--brought you out. Oh,
but I did think you were dead when I first saw your white face by the
light of the match I held! I haven't recovered from the shock of it yet!
It was awful!"

In a few moments Frank was able to sit up. The cut on his head was not
serious, but his head was throbbing with a shooting pain, and he was
dizzy and weak.

"Well, I've seen the monster all right," he said, with a grim smile.
"There's some satisfaction in that."

"And I have heard it," put in Bruce. "I don't know that I care about
seeing the thing."

"It did look something like the Old Boy himself," said Frank. "Don't
wonder these fishermen are scared by it."

"Well, I suppose you are satisfied now?"

"Oh, no!"

"No? What will you do?"

"Oh, I'd like to know what the monster is made of."

"This investigating seems to be rather dangerous."

"And that makes it all the more fascinating. However, I think it will
be well enough to give it a rest for the present."

"We'll go back to the yacht?"

"Yes, and have some dinner. After dinner we can take another whirl at
the monster. We must not stay away too long this time, or the people on
the yacht will worry about us."

"What shall we tell them?"

"Nothing. It will not do to tell of this adventure."

"But this handkerchief about your head," said Bruce, who was tying it in
place; "how will you explain that?"

"Fell and struck my head. I did fall, you know, and my head must have
struck the ground down there in that basement. We mustn't let them press
us too closely. If they get inquisitive, we must change the subject."

Thus it was arranged. When Frank first arose to his feet he was so weak
that he found it necessary to lean on the arm of his companion, but his
strength came to him swiftly, so that he was like himself before he had
returned more than a third of the way to the _White Wings_.

Then of a sudden he remembered that he had dropped his rifle when he was
struck down in the basement, and he wanted to return for it at once.
Bruce objected at first, but Frank was determined, and he finally won.

They retraced their steps and boldly entered the building. Bruce
followed Merriwell down the stairs into the basement, holding his
revolver ready for use while Frank lighted matches. Then they searched
for the rifle, which Frank knew he held in his hand at the moment when
he was struck down.

They could not find it, for it was not in the basement, nor was it
anywhere in the building.

The boys quickly decided that the rifle had been removed by human hands,
but the mystery was just as deep.

Leaving the building, they did not immediately return to the _White
Wings_, but made their way past the little cove, through the stunted
cedars and over the rocks to a position where they could look down upon
the boat that was lying close to the island shore.

As Frank had surmised, it was the lap-streak sailboat belonging to the
cock-eyed man. There was no one in or around it.

"Bruce," said Merry, "I have a proposal to make."

"Make it," grunted Browning.

"I have an idea that the person who owns that boat is concerned in the
mysterious doings on this island."

"Well?"

"I am going to watch for him."

"When?"

"Now."

"You mean that you are not going back to the yacht?"

"Not right away."

"Then I shall stay with you."

"That will interfere with my plan."

"How?"

"If we stay away from the yacht very long it is certain to alarm the
girls."

"It might."

"I want you to go back and tell them I have discovered signs of game
here and have stayed to see if I can't bag it. You need not say what
sort of game. Then I want you to get Hodge and bring him with you,
taking three of the guns and sufficient ammunition. As you will be going
out for game, that will create no alarm. Leave Diamond and Dunnerwust to
guard the girls and Miss Gale. I will remain here till you return, and
you might bring me something for lunch. Tell them it is likely to take
some time to bag our game, and caution them not to be alarmed if we do
not return before nightfall."

"But I don't like the idea of leaving you here alone," protested the big
Yale man. "There is no telling what may happen."

Frank laughed softly.

"Don't worry about me," he said. "I shall not venture into the old
boarding house alone, and it is not likely I'll not be able to defend
myself here on open ground."

Bruce hesitated.

"How are you feeling now?" he asked.

"All right."

"Strong?"

"As ever."

"That crack on the head----"

"Oh, I am all over that now. Go on, old man, and don't worry about me.
You know that, as a rule, Frank Merriwell is able to take care of
himself."

"That is a fact," nodded Browning. "But you are not armed. Here, you
must take this revolver."

He held the weapon out to Merry.

"But then you will not have a weapon."

"I am all right," declared Bruce. "I can handle two or three ordinary
fellows without a gun."

Fully aware of the giant's extraordinary strength, Frank knew he spoke
the truth, and so he accepted the revolver.

"Now I have an idea," said Merriwell, "that you had better not return to
the yacht by the path."

"Why not?"

"It is likely that path is watched, and it may be well enough not to let
the watchers know one of us has remained here. If they think we are
gone, they may betray themselves by their movements.

"How am I to go back, then?"

"Go round the island the other way. You can keep in this fringe of woods
the most of the time, so that you will not be seen. It may be a bit
harder traveling, but I fancy it is the best thing to do."

"All right. Take care of yourself, Merriwell. Keep your eyes open, and
do not get another crack on the head."

"Don't worry about that. Take your time."

So Bruce started off, leaving Frank there where he could watch the boat.

Not until Browning had disappeared and Frank was quite alone did he
realize the loneliness of the place. The water washing against the rocky
shore made the only sound to be heard, unless it was the occasional cry
of a wheeling gull.

The tide was going out, and already the black ledges were rising out of
the water in the distance. Those were called "half-tide ledges" by the
fishermen. There were other black rocks which rose barren and bleak
above the highest tides. Near those ledges at certain seasons of the
year sportsmen set their "tollers," or decoys, and crouching in nooks of
the rocks, fired hundreds of shots at the sea birds lured to their doom
by the wooden representations of their mates.

Merriwell found a place where he could sit in a sheltered spot and watch
the sailboat, at the same time having a good view of the bay and the
islands and ledges.

As he sat there Frank meditated on the mystery of the island. He was
fully convinced that there was some reason why certain human beings
desired to frighten all others away from the place. That the man from
Boston had been murdered and buried on that island was quite probable.
Perhaps he had been murdered for booty; perhaps he had discovered the
secret of the island, and his death had been accomplished in order to
seal his lips. In the latter case there must be some powerful reason
why the desperadoes who slew him did not wish the secret revealed to
the world.

These thoughts led Merry to the conclusion that some criminal business
was carried on upon that island. He was well aware that he was taking
desperate chances in trying to find out what sort of business it was,
but the mystery lured him on, and the very fact that there was danger
lent a fascination to the adventure.

How long he sat there thinking thus he did not know, but at last he was
startled by a sound near at hand. He turned quickly and what he saw
brought him to his feet with a bound.

Peering from the bushes was the most horrible face he had ever looked
upon. It was twisted and contorted in a frightful manner, the lips were
drawn back from long, yellow fangs, the eyes seemed to glare like coals
of fire, and about these frightful features tumbled a mass of tangled
hair.

"The monster!"

That thought flashed into Frank's mind. He had no doubt but he was face
to face with the creature that had frightened the simple fishermen from
the island.

For some moments Frank stood there, staring at that horrible face. Then
a clawlike hand came out through the bushes and seemed to reach toward
him, while a howl that was blood-curdling came from the creature's lips.

That sound was the same that had frightened the fishermen into running
for their lives, but, instead of running, Frank made a dash for the
creature, Browning's revolver grasped in his hand.

It was a most astonishing move on the part of the boy. For a moment the
monster of the island remained motionless, and then that horrible face
disappeared.

With a leap, Frank plunged straight into the bushes, ready to grapple
with the thing.

He found nothing! It had vanished!

Swaying bushes close at hand guided him, and he scarcely paused an
instant. Straight forward he rushed, ready for the encounter at any
instant.

He caught a glimpse of something plunging through the bushes, and he
followed fearlessly.

A moment later he came out to open ground, and ahead of him he saw a
misshapen figure running with wonderful speed toward the head of the
cove.

Perhaps for the first time since the creature had been seen on the
island the order of things had changed and it was the pursued instead of
the pursuer.

"Stop!" shouted Frank.

The monster looked back over a twisted shoulder, and snarled like a wild
animal, but ran faster than ever.

"Stop, or I shall shoot!"

Frank flourished the revolver, running as hard as he could in pursuit.

The command was not obeyed.

In an attempt to frighten the creature into obeying, Frank fired two
shots into the air.

Still the thing ran on.

"Well, I see I must catch him," muttered Merriwell.

He set his teeth and made wonderful speed over the uneven ground. Never
in any college sprinting match had he made such speed. He was determined
to overtake that hideous thing and solve the mystery of the island.

Frank soon saw he was gaining. The creature looked back and saw the
same, whereupon it seemed to increase its efforts.

But, although the monster was a swift runner, it could not get away from
Merriwell. The cove was passed, and the race continued up the rise
toward the big building above.

Frank was drawing nearer and nearer. He reached out a hand to grasp the
shoulder of the hunchback, for there was a large hump on the back of the
fugitive.

At that moment the panting thing whirled and grappled with him suddenly.

Frank was taken by surprise by the movement, and in a twinkling he was
flung to his knees. The monster snarled with satisfaction and sought to
clutch his throat with those clawlike hands.

Summoning all his strength, Merriwell fought his way to his feet and
obtained a better hold on the thing, keeping those twisted fingers away
from his throat.

Then there was a fierce struggle for the mastery. During that struggle
the tushes in the mouth of the being with whom Frank was battling
suddenly fell out and dropped to the ground.

They were false teeth, made to look as hideous as possible.

And now Merry could see that the man's face was made up to appear
twisted and deformed, and, a moment after the teeth fell out, the shaggy
wig of tangled hair was torn away, showing that also was false and a
part of the make-up.

Now Merriwell recognized the man before him.

It was the hunchback of Green's Landing--Put Wiley!

"Really, Mr. Wiley, this is quite a surprise!" exclaimed Frank,
triumphantly. "You had a splendid make-up, but the cat is out of the bag
now."

"Curse ye!" grated the hunchback. "You'll pay for this with your life!"

"Oh, I don't know!"

"I do."

Wiley's voice did not utter these two words; they were spoken by another
person, and Frank was clutched from behind. Strong hands closed about
his neck, and hard fingers crushed into his windpipe, so that his
breath was shut off in a moment.

Frank could not withstand this onset, he was forced to his knees. Being
unable to breathe, he tried to tear those crushing fingers away, but the
effort was in vain. He had dropped the revolver, and it was beyond his
reach.

He knew at that moment that he was in the clutch of the ruffians who had
murdered the man from Boston, and he had no doubt but a like fate was
meant for him. Still he was powerless to save himself, for he was given
no show. Things turned black and began to whirl around him, bombs seemed
bursting in his head, bells were ringing in his ears, and
then--nothingness!

When Frank recovered consciousness he felt as if his windpipe had been
crushed, and he seemed numb and helpless in every limb. He realized
immediately that he was being roughly handled, and he heard a harsh
voice say:

"That's all right. He can't git erway. We can't waste any more time."

He opened his eyes and looked up into the face of the speaker--the
cock-eyed man!

Put Wiley, the hunchback, was there, too.

"Hello!" growled the man with the crooked eye. "He's come round. I'm
glad on it, fer I want him ter know jest what his nosin' foolishness has
done fer him."

Frank tried to speak, but he could not utter more than a wheezing
whisper. The hunchback raised a foot, as if to bring it down on the face
of the helpless lad, for Frank was bound hands and feet, but the other
man thrust him aside, growling:

"Whut's the use! He'll be dead in five minutes. Don't kick ther poor
fool."

Then Frank realized that he was bound across the track of the old
railroad that ran from the sheds to the quarry. The look that came to
the face of the helpless lad seemed to tell the cock-eyed man that he
understood the situation.

"You've made a fool of yerself," declared the man, unpityingly. "You was
too nosy. Inquisitive critters alwus git inter trouble. The Boston man
was too fresh, and he's planted. You saw his grave."

Strangely enough, at that moment the helpless boy asked a queer
question:

"Where were you when you made that ghostly whisper?" he managed to
huskily inquire.

"I dunno what good it'll do to ye ter know," was the answer. "You'll be
dead right away. Mebbe one of us was hid in a holler tree near ye."

"What do you mean to do with me?"

"Waal, we've tied ye here acrost ther rails. Up there in the quarry is a
car loaded with granite. It won't take much ter send it scootin' down
the track, and it will cut you clean in two. You'll have time enough to
think whut a fool ye was and say yer prayers while we are startin' ther
car, but you'd better begin now. Good-by."

Then the two murderous wretches hurried up the track and quickly
disappeared.

Frank tried to cry for aid, but he could not make a sound that could be
heard ten rods away. He twisted and squirmed in a vain effort to free
himself. And then he fell to listening, listening, listening.

It was not long before he heard the sound which he dreaded. There was a
distant rumble, a faint jarring of the rails.

The car had started down the incline!

"God help me!"

The rumbling sound grew louder and louder. The car was gathering speed
as it came on.

"Frank--Frank Merriwell!"

He heard Browning call near at hand, and now he made a mighty effort and
answered:

"Here! Quick! Help!"

The big Yale man came rushing to the track, followed by Hodge, just as
the car loaded with granite came into view.

Instantly Bruce realized the peril of the lad who was bound to the
rails, and he saw there was no time to cut the ropes and set Frank free.

With a hoarse shout he leaped forward, catching up a stout stick of
timber in an instant. One end of the timber he thrust under the rails of
the track, and then he lifted on the other end with all his wonderful
strength.

The track was old, the ties were rotten, and the spikes gave way. The
rail was pried aside in a moment. Then Bruce went at the other and tore
that up.

The car was upon him. He made a great leap backward and got off the
track barely in time.

Then, an instant later, the car, loaded with granite, left the rails and
shot down the bank, spilling the slabs of rock and plunged with a splash
into the water, disappearing from view.

Frank was saved!

       *       *       *       *       *

It was an hour later when Merriwell, Browning and Hodge returned to the
_White Wings_. With the exception of a slight hoarseness, Frank could
speak as well as ever, although his throat was sore and lame.

The boys had not returned to the yacht till they were certain the
hunchback and the cock-eyed man had left the island, for the lap-streak
boat was seen bound up the bay under full sail.

Browning was fierce for revenge. Merriwell did not say much, but deep
down in his heart he was determined to punish the ruffians who had so
nearly ended his existence. He cautioned the boys not to let the girls
or Miss Gale know anything of the adventures on the island.

"We will land them at Green's Landing," he said, "and then I am coming
back to this island. The mystery of this place is not yet solved. Why
are those two men trying to frighten everybody away from here? I want to
know that, and I mean to know it."

On reaching the yacht Jack Diamond was found paying every attention to
Paula Benjamin, and it was plain that there was no longer a
misunderstanding between them.

The Virginian shot Browning a glance of triumph, in which was also a
warning.

But Bruce scarce gave Jack or Paula a thought, for other matters were on
his mind then. He was eager and anxious to get rid of the girls and
their chaperon in order that the party might return to Devil Island and
seek to solve the deep mystery of the place and punish the wretches who
had tried to end Frank's life.



CHAPTER XXI.

SETTLING A POINT.


"Now, fellows," said Frank Merriwell, as he faced his four "shipmates"
in the cabin of his yacht, _White Wings_, which was riding at anchor in
the harbor at Green's Landing, "I have called you together for a council
of war."

"I'm tired," grunted Bruce Browning. "Can't I rest in my bunk while the
powwow is going on?"

"No," came firmly from Frank, "this is a matter of business, and it
won't hurt you to sit up a while."

"Oh, get a brace on!" exclaimed Diamond, flinging the words at the big
Yale man. "Act as if you had some life in you, old fellow."

The manner in which the words were spoken made the usually polite
Virginian seem quite unlike himself, but Bruce simply grinned,
observing:

"You shouldn't hold a grudge because I flirted a little with Miss
Benjamin, Diamond; you got a lead on me while Merriwell and I were
investigating on Devil Island, and won her back, all right. Don't be
sour over it."

The Southerner sprang up, his eyes flashing:

"Mr. Browning," he said, hotly, "I warn you not to speak lightly of Miss
Benjamin! You seem to take delight in mentioning her in connection with
every little occurrence, and it is getting tiresome. There is a limit!"

"Huah!" grunted the giant. "Touchy, mighty touchy. First thing I know
he'll be challenging me to a duel."

"It would be useless to challenge you!" flashed Jack. "You Northerners
are too cold blooded to fight."

"Well, now, this will do!" cut in Merry, promptly rising to his feet. "I
won't have it on board my yacht."

"Then I suppose we can go on shore and fight it out," said Jack, sourly.

"If you want to make fools of yourselves--yes."

"You are very plain spoken, Mr. Merriwell."

"It is necessary at times, Diamond. Hold your temper in check, old man,
and don't talk about Northerners and Southerners. There is no North, no
South. The time is past. When you came to Yale you were full of freakish
notions about the North and the South, but I fancied you had been pretty
well cured of that. I see it will crop out occasionally, though."

To this Diamond made no retort, but he looked thoroughly angry. With
another fellow Frank would have laughed him out of the mood, but he knew
it would not do to try that on the Virginian, for Jack could not endure
a bit of ridicule.

However, Merry talked quietly, and soon he could see he was pouring oil
on the troubled waters, for the look of anger was leaving Diamond's
face, and Browning had assumed a lounging attitude.

"This is no time for hard feelings between any of us," said Frank. "As I
said a few minutes ago, I have called you together for a council of
war."

"Vot did I mean ven you said dot?" asked Hans Dunnerwust. "Berhaps you
don'd understood me as vell as I might. Vot for haf dot gouncil uf var
peen caldt?"

"Yes," said Bart Hodge, "just what are you driving at, Merriwell?"

"Fellows, we have struck a mystery."

"I thought you had solved the mystery of the monster of Devil Island."

"I solved the mystery of the monster's identity and discovered the
creature was the hunchback, Put Wiley, in disguise."

"But he came near ending your career."

"With the aid of the cock-eyed man, whose name, I have learned, since
returning to Green's Landing, is Dan Hicks. I could have handled Wiley
alone, but Hicks came to his aid and caught me by the throat, grasping
me from behind. Together they knocked me out and tied me to the old
railroad on the island. But for Browning's wonderful efforts in ripping
up the rails, they would have succeeded in their attempt to send a flat
car loaded with granite down the track, and I must have been cut in two.
I tell you, fellows, it was a wonderful sight to see Bruce pry up those
rails and send that car, granite and all, into the water. Ah, Browning!"
exclaimed Merriwell, his voice betraying his feeling despite his effort
to keep it under control, "it prolonged my life when you were born
strong."

"Oh, it wasn't much work to rip up those rails," said the big fellow,
with an air of modesty. "You see, the spikes that held them were planted
in rotten wood, for the ties are very old."

"You never moved half as fast before in your life, Browning," said
Hodge. "You did get a hustle on then."

"I had to," grunted Bruce. "Saw there wasn't any time to loaf."

"You saved my life," declared Frank. "The identity of the monster is
solved, but the mystery of the island is as deep as ever."

"Shust vot do I mean ven you said dot?" asked Hans.

"Why should the hunchback rig himself up in that horrible manner and try
to frighten persons away from the island?"

"There is a mystery," confessed Diamond.

"Certainly it is," nodded Merriwell. "Discovering the identity of the
monster has not seemed to clear things up much. It has added to my
curiosity."

"Berhaps id peen a healthy thing to stayed avay dot islands from,"
observed Hans, sagely.

"Whatever the secret of the island may be," said Frank, "those men are
ready to commit murder in order to guard it."

"They came near succeeding," said Hodge.

"It looks as if they have succeeded."

"Eh? How?"

"You remember the story of the Boston man who was landed on the island
and never seen afterward."

"The cock-eyed man told that story."

"Yes."

"Perhaps that was a part of his plan to scare us away from the
island--to keep us from going there."

"Perhaps so; but you remember he told us there was a grave on the island
and the headstone was marked, 'Sacred to the memory of Rawson Denning.'"

"Yes. More of his plan to scare us away."

"The grave is there."

"What?"

"Sure."

"You--you----"

"Found it. Bruce was with me. We came out into a dismal glade in the
heart of the black woods, and there was the grave and the headstone with
the words upon it."

"Jingoes!"

Hodge stared at Frank a few moments, and then asked:

"Do you really believe the Boston man was murdered and buried in that
grave?"

"Rawson was the name he gave, and the grave was found on the island
after his strange disappearance. It seems probable enough that he is
planted there."

"By Chorch!" exclaimed the Dutch boy, turning pale; "I don'd vant to
monkey aroundt dot island all alone by yourself."

"Do you have any idea what the mystery of the island can be, Merriwell?"
asked Hodge, eagerly.

"Of course I do not know any better than yourself, but I have a
suspicion."

"What do you think?"

"Yaw!" cried Hans; "vat do I think?"

"I believe some kind of unlawful business is carried on there, and for
that reason the criminals are using every means to frighten away anybody
who might prove troublesome or inquisitive."

"Then will it pay us to be troublesome and inquisitive?" said Diamond.

"That is the very matter we are here to discuss. The girls and Miss Gale
are comfortably located here at Green's Landing, and they will be able
to amuse themselves for a day or two. If we wish, we can run down to
Devil Island every morning and return here every night. I am willing to
confess that my curiosity is aroused, and I would give something to
solve the mystery of the place; but I do not wish to drag any of my
friends into danger where they do not wish to go."

"I hardly think there is one in this party who will not stand by you
wherever you go, Merriwell," said Bart, quickly. "You can count on me."

"I knew it."

"And me," grunted Browning.

"I thought so."

"Und I vos anodder!" exclaimed Hans.

"That is good."

"Don't think for a moment that I will go back on you," said Diamond. "I
started on this cruise with the intention of staying with you, and I
shall."

"Good. That part of it is settled. I have said that the mystery of that
island belongs to me, and I will solve it. I mean to keep my word."

"Vale," said Hans, "I never knowed yourseluf ven you didn'd keep your
vord, Vrankie. But maype you don'd vant to took some more chances uf
peing runned ofer a railroat on?"

"Hardly. We have a fair breeze. Shall we run down to the island this
forenoon?"

"Come on," said Diamond, suddenly. "If we have a mystery to solve, the
sooner we get after it the better."

There was a thump against the side of the yacht, and a voice called:

"Ahoy on board there! I want to see the captain of this craft."



CHAPTER XXII.

THE MAN IN GRAY.


When Frank reached the deck he saw a jolly-looking little man in gray
clothes coming over the rail. Beside the yacht lay a dory, in which sat
a fisherman who had rowed the old man off to the _White Wings_.

"Dang a dory," exclaimed the little man in gray, with a chuckle. "She
may be all right to row round in on a troubled sea, but she'll tip
quicker'n scat if you step up on the side of her. This one near spilt me
into the drink after I was alongside here. What I want is a
flat-bottomed scow or raft. I hope this yacht is good and steady, for
I'm going to take a cruise in her."

"You are?" gasped Frank, smiling. "Well, that is cool."

"Of course," nodded the little man, brightly. "Everything around me is
cool, even to my name, and that is Cooler--Caleb Cooler."

"I like your nerve!"

"I thought you would, though I have seen people who didn't like it. Some
folks are fussy--here, my man," turning to the boatman, "here is the
fifty cents I promised you if you would set me on board here. I shan't
want you any more. You may go."

"Hold on," came firmly from Frank, who also spoke to the man in the
dory. "I think Mr. Cooler is mistaken. He will want you--to take him
ashore again."

"Oh, no--no, indeed," chuckled Mr. Cooler, pleasantly. "You are quite
wrong, young man. I am going to Devil Island with you."

"The--the--dickens you are?" exclaimed Frank. He came near using
another word in the place of "dickens," for now he was literally
astounded.

"Oh, yes," nodded the queer old man, still laughing. "I won't be a bit
of bother. In fact, you will find me mighty jolly company. Tickle me
gently, and I am more fun than a variety show. I have been paid in my
day to travel around with folks just to amuse them. I'm sure death to
the blues, and I am better than all the doctor's medicine you ever
took."

"Well, I haven't the blues, and I am not in need of medicine."

"Say you so? You're in luck. You do look cheerful and healthy, that's a
fact."

"But I have some curiosity."

"Glad to know you are troubled by something."

"Yes, I am curious to know how you happened to come aboard this yacht in
order to get to Devil Island."

"Why, aren't you going there?"

"Perhaps so; but how do you know it?"

"Feller told me so."

"When?"

"Little while ago."

"Where?"

"Up at Jobbins' store."

"What kind of a fellow? How did he look?"

"Looked as if some chap had swatted him with a brick right on the bridge
of his proboscis, for it had a strong list to starboard, and one of his
eyes was keeping watch at the end of it, while the other eye was on
guard to see that no more bricks were coming in that direction."

"The man with the cock-eye!" exclaimed Merriwell.

"Sure as you live!" cried Hodge, who had followed Frank to the deck.
"It's Hicks."

"So that scoundrel has dared venture into Green's Landing so soon,"
said Frank, grimly. "And he knows he did not succeed in his foul attempt
to murder me!"

"Eh?" exclaimed the little man, in surprise. "What's that? Murder? Did
he----"

"Never mind," interrupted Frank, eying the man in gray, as if seeking to
read his thoughts. "I have a little affair to settle with Mr. Hicks, and
the worst recommendation you could have is the fact that he sent you
here. He simply surmised that I contemplated returning to Devil Island."

"But don't you?"

"That is my affair, Mr. Cooler. In no case do I propose to carry
passengers."

"I am not passengers. I am simply a passenger. I won't bother you a bit.
Even if you are not going to the island, I'll pay you to land me there."

"You seem very anxious to reach the place."

"I am. I am in a bigger hurry than a dog with a package of firecrackers
tied to his tail. It's a matter of business. No time is to be lost."

"You will have to seek another mode of conveyance."

"What? Now, you are not in earnest! Ha! ha! He! he! I see that you are
something of a joker. It's all right, all right. I tumble to your game."

"And I think I tumble to your game, Mr. Cooler," said Merry, sternly.
"You can have the information you want."

"The information?" repeated the queer old man, in apparent
consternation. "Why, it can't be that you are connected with the Eastern
Bay Land Syndicate?"

"I do not know anything about the Eastern Bay Land Syndicate."

"What a relief!" sighed Mr. Cooler. "Really, you gave me quite a start.
But I am ahead of them. If the island is as represented, I will secure
it. This part of the Bay is bound to become famous with summer people."

"I do not know what you are trying to give me, but I tell you I am onto
your little game. Go back to Mr. Dave Hicks and tell him I am going to
Devil Island. I have met him there once; tell him I shall be pleased to
meet him there again."

"But I do not want to go back to Mr. Hicks," protested the little man.
"I want to go to Devil Island with you."

"You can't go."

"I must. Young man, I will pay you any----"

"I do not want your pay. You came aboard by that boat. Get into it and
return ashore. If you are so anxious to get to Devil Island, you will
find plenty of fishermen who will set you on there if you pay them for
it."

"You are wrong. All the fishermen seem afraid to go near it. I tried
several of them this morning, and then the man with the broken nose and
the bent eye told me you were going down that way. That is why I am
here."

The little man in gray seemed very much in earnest now, but Frank had
made up his mind and was not to be turned.

"Get into that boat, sir," he commanded. "We can't take you to Devil
Island."

"You'll have to," said Mr. Cooler, stubbornly. "I am here, and I am
going with you."

"I rather think not," drawled Bruce Browning, who had been brought to
the deck at last by the sound of talk.

The big fellow picked the little man up by the collar, carried him to
the rail and dropped him into the dory, saying to the boatman:

"Take him ashore immediately, or he will have to swim ashore, for I
shall throw him overboard if he boards the _White Wings_ again."

The queer little man in gray looked astounded and then amused. He
reached up and pulled his coat collar round into place, and stared at
Bruce, beginning to chuckle, as if the whole thing was a very
entertaining joke.

"He! he!" he laughed. "Excuse me. Can't help it. Very funny. You chaps
act like you thought I'd bite. I won't bite. Never bit a man in all my
life. However, I see you are determined to go away without me, and I'll
not try to force myself upon you. If there is anything I detest it is a
man who makes himself obnoxious by forcing himself on others. He! he!"

"Ha! ha!" laughed Hans. "I vos der funniest man you efer seen, ain'd id?
Vale! vale! vale! Der next dime you come aproad der _Vite Vings_ you hat
petter stayed ashore."

"Now, that is more than I can stand," cried the little man, trying to
look fierce. "No Irishman can talk to me like that."

"Vat?" shouted Hans. "Who vos I callin' an Irishman? You petter peen
gareful ur you vill got me indo drouple! I vant you to understood I
nefer peen an Irishman in mein life!"

"I don't wonder you deny your nationality," said Mr. Cooler. "But you
cannot deceive anyone. That mug and that brogue will betray anywhere
that you are Irish to the bone."

Hans began to jump up and down excitedly, shaking his fist at the little
man.

"You shust safed my life py geddin' off this yotch vrom!" he yelled. "I
murdered der last man vat caldt you Irish! Uf I efer seen you again you
vill punch mein face off, und don'd you vorgot id!"

"Oh, keep cool, Patsey," advised the man in gray.

Now a wild howl issued from Dunnerwust's throat, and he rushed to the
rail, leaning over to shake his fist as near his tomentor as possible.

"Uf you dare to caldt me Batsey aken you vill gif me a lickens!" he
wildly threatened. "I von't pe caldt Batsey! Batsey vasn't your name, so
don'd you dare to caldt me dot! I vos porn in Sharmeny."

"What part of Ireland is that in?" mildly inquired the little man. "I
should say by your brogue that you came from County Cork, or somewhere
in the south of Ireland."

"Oh, gif me someding to murter him mit!" shrieked Hans, like a maniac.
"Gif me a gun! I vill shot him on der spot, or somevere near id! Gif me
a gun!"

Then he made a wild rush for the cabin, still howling for a gun, and
fell with a great clatter down the companion way.

"Take my advice, Mr. Cooler," said Frank, who was laughing now, "get as
far away from this yacht as possible before Hans comes on deck again. He
has gone for a gun, and there are several below, all of them loaded."

"As I do not care to be filled full of lead, I will take your advice,"
said the man in gray, calmly. "Irishmen are very quick-tempered, and I
see I have ruffled this one somewhat. However, he proved very amusing
for a short time. Good-day, Mr. Merriwell. I hope to see you later. In
fact, I think I shall--Bill, you may set me ashore."

Bill, the boatman, was somewhat nervous, and he rowed away from the
yacht as hastily as possible.

The dory was not many lengths away before Hans came howling to the deck,
wildly flourishing one of Merry's shotguns.

"Shown me to him!" yelled Hans, almost frothing at the mouth. "Vere vos
der man vot caldt you an Irishmans? He vill shoot me in a minute uf I
see heem! Vere he vos?"

Then as he saw the dory pulling away, he rushed to the side of the yacht
and prepared to shoot, but Frank seized him and took the gun away in a
twinkling, saying, sternly:

"Are you crazy, Hans? Do you want to be hanged for murder? I never saw
you this way before."

"Dot man caldt me an Irishmans!"

"Well?"

"He caldt me Batsey?"

"A very natural mistake, considering that you have a face that is
strongly Irish in its general appearance and you have associated with
Barney Mulloy so much that you have acquired his brogue."

Hans gasped and staggered.

"Vot do you hear?" he faintly said. "Uf dot peen a fact, I vos retty to
shuffle off der mortal pucket und kick der coil! I don'd vant to lif no
longer ven I got to lookin' an Irishman like und dalkin' so I mistook
volks for von! My heart vos proken!"

Then, sobbing violently, he again staggered toward the cabin and once
more fell down the companion way.

Laughing heartily, Frank followed him, and found Hans lying where he had
fallen below.

"Are you hurt?" asked Merry, anxiously.

"Yaw!" sobbed Hans.

"Bad?"

"Yaw!"

"Where?"

"All ofer."

"Can't you get up?"

"I don't vant to got ub. I vant to die! Id vos my heart dot vos hurt.
Oh, shust to vancy dot my vace looks like an Irishmans! Mein Gott! id
vos awful!"

"Perhaps you can have your face changed, so do not take it so much to
heart."

"Now you peen shoking."

"No; in New York there is a man who advertises to make over faces--to
change them completely. It is possible that he might be able to remove
the Irish look from your face."

Hans sat up.

"Py Chorch!" he cried. "Uf dot peen a vact, I vos goin' to had a new
vace shust as soon as you can! Id peen der only thing vot vill kept me a
brison oudt uf. I shall murder der next man dot caldt me Irish!"

"Well, you can have your face built over when you get back to New York,
so don't take it so much to heart."

Hans got up after a while and dragged himself to a seat, while Frank
replaced the gun in the strap from which the Dutch lad had taken it.

Browning came loafing down into the cabin, followed by Hodge.

"What do you make of that queer little man, Merriwell?" asked Bruce,
flinging himself down lazily.

"I sized him up as a spy," said Frank. "He was sent off to find out if
we intended to return to Devil Island. He found out."

"He certainly is an odd character."

"As queer as anything I have seen down this way. Somehow he did not seem
like a native."

"No native to him," said Bart, as if that point was settled in his mind.

"He did have a crust," said Bruce.

"A crust!" cried Frank, laughing as he remembered what had taken place.
"Why, I never saw anything like it! Came on board and calmly informed me
he was going to Devil Island with us, and he would not think of leaving
when I told him we did not want him."

"And he was not even ruffled when I dropped him over into the dory. He
is well named, for a cooler customer I never saw."

"And he said he would see you again, Merry."

"I noticed that."

"But he didn't seem much of a desperado," yawned Bruce.

"Appearances are deceptive."

"Yaw!" muttered Hans. "Don peen a vact somepody took me an Irishman vor!
Dot vos der plow dot gif me der lifer gomblaint mit my heart in!"

"I don't suppose, Merry," said Bart, "that you will defer your visit to
Devil Island because of what lately happened?"

"I should say not!" exclaimed Frank. "I am beginning to get warmed up.
If they but knew it, somebody is doing the very things to spur me on to
solve the mystery."

"Hadn't we better leave Diamond here at the landing to look after the
girls?" said Bruce. "It's plain he does not wish to waste the time to go
down to Devil Island."

"It is plain you do not know anything about it, sir!" said Jack,
sharply, as he stepped into the cabin. "I am ready to go, and the sooner
we start the better I shall like it. If we are to investigate, I am in
favor of getting at the investigation without delay."

"We will get away as soon as possible," said Frank. "All hands on deck."

In a very short time the _White Wings_ was running out of the harbor,
headed for Devil Island.

From the shore more than one pair of eyes were watching her with looks
that boded no good to her inquisitive and daring owner.



CHAPTER XXIII.

THE CLAMBAKE.


As Bold Island harbor was sheltered and the yacht could lay close in to
the shore of Devil Island and be so hidden that she would escape
observation to a large extent, Frank ran in there, choosing that
anchorage in preference to the one in the cove on the other side of the
island of mystery.

It was near low tide when Merry ran in there, and he did not stop till
the keel of the _White Wings_ stuck fast in the mud at the bottom.

"I thought you were getting in too near," said Hodge.

"Not getting in near enough to suit me," declared Frank. "The bottom is
soft here, and the yacht would sit up straight in the mud if the tide
ran out so that she was left high and dry. It is low water now. At high
water she will float all right and have any amount of water under her
keel."

As soon as everything was attended to on the yacht, Frank cried:

"Come on, fellows, let's row over to Bold Island and see if we can find
some of her famous clams. We may not get another opportunity like this."

"Oh, what's the use," yawned Browning, sleepily. "Too much trouble. I'm
going below and turn in."

"I will stay to look after the yacht while Browning gets his nap," said
Hodge.

Diamond was ready to go with Frank, and Merry asked Hans to come along.
They had purchased a clam hoe at the Landing, so they were prepared to
hunt the shy and retiring clam.

"Vale," said Hans, sadly, "I vill go mit you, poys, but I don'd peen
aple to took no bleasure mit der shob since I vos caldt an Irishman. I
don'd pelief you vill efer got ofer dot."

He looked very sad and downcast, as if he were nearly, heartbroken,
causing Merry to laugh softly.

The three got into the boat and pulled over to Bold Island, where they
began searching for the clams that have made the island famous
throughout Penobscot Bay.

It was some time before they could find any clams, for the beach had
been dug over and over till it did not seem there was a place left
untouched. At last Frank turned over a large, flat rock, and down in the
sand beneath it they struck their first clam. That clam, measured in its
shell, was exactly seven inches long and a little more than five inches
wide, while the shell itself was almost as white as the shell of an egg.

When Merry turned up this clam, Hans staggered and sat down on the sand
with great violence, and there he sat, staring and muttering:

"Vot der tyrful vos dot? Uf dot don'd peen der varter uf all glams, you
vos a liar! I don'd pelief I efer seen anyding like dot pefore in all
your porn tays!"

"Hurrah!" cried Merry. "Here's proof the fishermen down this way are not
all liars, or do not lie about everything. They told me this was the
kind of game we should find here."

"But this must be unusual," said Diamond. "Can't all of them be like
this."

"They say so."

"Well, they cannot be very good to eat. They must be too tough."

"On the contrary, I have heard they are splendid eating. Here is
another! By Jove, it's fully as large as the first!"

Hans sat still on the sand and stared straight at the first clam turned
out. Frank looked at him and saw the Dutch boy appeared on the verge of
bursting into tears.

"What's the matter, Dunnerwust?" he asked.

"I vos peginnin' to seen things queer," replied Hans. "Vot do I think?
Vale, uf dot glam don'd look like der mug an Irishman of, you vos a
liar! Uf I kept on seein' things like dot to remindt me vot dot man in
gray said, id vill drife me to trink ur to sluicide!"

They had brought along a bucket, and it did not take long to fill it
with these large clams. Then they emptied it into the bottom of the boat
and found another bucketful before stopping. With those they returned to
the boat.

"We will go ashore on Devil Island, where there are plenty of rocks of
all kinds, and seaweed, and there we'll have a clambake," said Merry.
"There is wood enough on Devil Island, too, and it is nearer to the
yacht."

The sound of their oars brought Hodge on deck.

"What luck?" he asked, as they approached.

"Great luck," answered Frank. "Get in, and we will take you ashore over
yonder, where we are going to have a clam roast."

The clam hoe was passed up to Bart, and then he swung down into the
boat, and soon all were ashore on the island of mystery.

Frank began constructing an oven amid the rocks, sending the others for
fuel and seaweed. It did not take long to make preparations for the
bake, and soon a roaring fire was blazing, as a lot of dry wood had been
found near the deserted camps on that side of the island.

Frank took the clams down to the water and washed them carefully, a
bucketful at a time, turning them all into the hollow of a large rock
near the fire.

As the fire grew hotter, Merry threw stones into it and kept it
roaring. None of the stones were smaller than a man's fist, and some
were larger than a man's head.

"Why are you doing that?" asked Hodge.

"You will see when the time comes," smiled Frank.

Hans sat on a rock and stared into the fire, his air of dejection being
extremely ludicrous to behold.

"Come, come, forget it!" exclaimed Merry. "Cheer up and be like
yourself."

"I can nefer peen like yourseluf again so long as I had this face onto
me," sighed Hans. "Id peen a vrightful thing to think dot I might peen
misdooken any dime an Irishmans vor! Dunder und blitzens! I vos all
proken ub in peesness ofer dot!"

It was useless to try to cheer him up. The more they talked to him the
sadder and more downcast he looked.

After a while Frank had burned out nearly all the wood, and nothing was
left but a dying fire. He did not wait for it to die down, but raked
away everything but the red-hot coals and some of the stones in the
fireplace of stone. Then he took the wet seaweed and threw it into the
fireplace, where it began to sizzle and steam.

"In with the clams, boys!" he cried, as he began to toss the big fellows
in upon the seaweed.

They helped him, and soon all the clams were scattered on the steaming
seaweed. Then he covered them with more seaweed, and, aided by the
others, piled the hot rocks he had drawn out of the fireplace on top of
this mass of seaweed.

What a sizzling and steaming there was, and what a delightful odor came
to their nostrils! Quickly Frank had another fire going, and by this he
kept hot a mass of rocks he had heated in the first fire, but had not
piled upon the seaweed. In this way, by the time the rocks on the weed
were cooled off, more rocks were ready to take their place, and the
clams were kept steaming.

After a time, Merriwell announced that the clams must be nearly done. He
sent Hans off to the yacht to bring Browning ashore. The Dutch boy found
it difficult to arouse the big Yale man, but Browning was fond of clams,
and he came along quickly enough once he was fully awake and understood
what awaited him.

As the boat reached shore, Merriwell began to rake the rocks off the
seaweed.

"Ye gods!" grunted Bruce, sniffing the air as he approached. "What
heavenly aroma is this that greets my nostrils?"

When the clams were uncovered and he saw them with their huge shells
yawning and the meat within looking white and tempting, he declared he
was very happy to be living.

"Gather round, fellows," said Frank, "Capture your clams and devour
them. There will be no ceremony in this case."

Then, as Browning fished out a clam and held it triumphantly aloft, a
man came whistling softly down the bank, joined the group without a
word, raked out a clam and extracted it from the shell, being the first
to taste the feast Frank had prepared.

It was the man in gray, Mr. Caleb Cooler!

"Yum!" exclaimed the man in gray. "That clam is hot!"

"Well, you are cool enough!" said Frank Merriwell.

"Oh, I'm Cooler," chuckled the queer old fellow. "Told you so some time
ago. Howdy, boys. Fine day, isn't it? Think we will have some more
weather? Or don't you know 'weather' we will or not?"

Bruce Browning arose to his feet and removed his coat.

"That's one way to keep cool at a clambake," grinned the man in gray.
"What are you going to do?"

"Mop up the beach with you," answered Browning, quietly. "I am going to
teach you a lesson."

"Teach is correct as you applied it," said Mr. Cooler. "Down this way I
find people say 'learn' for 'teach.' Just think how bad it would have
sounded had you said you were going to learn me a lesson."

He raked out another clam, but dropped it, shaking his hand and blowing
on his fingers.

"Even though I am Cooler, I find some things are warm enough," he
murmured. "That clam must have been near a fire. I dote on clams, baked,
boiled, fried or frizzled, it don't make a dern bit of difference.
Whenever I get an opportunity I go gunning for clams myself. I think it
is great sport to shoot a clam on the wing. With a good bird gun and a
dog, I presume it is an easy thing to bag clams around here?"

He was not paying the least attention to the big Yale man, and
Browning's threat to "wipe up the beach" with him seemed forgotten.

Hans was glaring at the man in gray, while strange, gurgling sounds came
from his throat. All at once he gave a yell, rolled over backward and
scrambled to his feet.

"Don't touch him, Pruce!" warned the Dutch boy. "I peen goin' to smash
dot veller myseluf!"

"Ah there, Irish," chirped Mr. Cooler. "You will catch cold in your
liver if you let the wind blow down your throat that way. Have a clam
and let it stop that orifice in your countenance."

This made Hans so angry that he danced wildly and began to choke and
gurgle in his endeavor to shriek forth something, but the man in gray
did not even look at him.

There was something extremely ludicrous about it all, and Frank was
forced to laugh. When he saw Merry laughing, Hans seemed to lose all his
strength, and he dropped down on a rock, completely knocked out, even
though he had not been touched.

Browning was grinning now, for he saw the humor of the situation, and he
could not help admiring the nerve of the queer old fellow.

"Look here, Mr. Cooler," said Frank, "who invited you to help yourself?"

"Eh? Oh, why, I didn't need an invitation to join old friends like you
chaps. I knew you would be glad to see me."

"We are," grunted Browning, "tickled to death."

"Then sit right up and take hold, boys," chuckled Mr. Cooler. "Catch
your clam and peel him. We'll have a real jolly time."

He raked another one off the seaweed.

"How did you get here?" asked Merry.

"I didn't walk, because I couldn't. Had to hire a fellow to bring me
down, and then he didn't want to get near enough to the island to set me
ashore. Wanted me to swim. Charged me five dollars, too. Never mind; the
company will have to pay it."

"What company?"

"Why, the company I represent."

"But what company do you represent?"

"The greatest land improvement and development company on earth. You
must know the one I mean, for it is the only one. It is the Bay Islands
Land Company. The Eastern Bay Land Company has sprouted in competition
to us, but we purpose to nip the rival concern in the bud. I am here to
investigate such islands as may eventually become summer resorts and
obtain options on them when I can get at the real owners. That's one
great difficulty--to find the real owners. Some of them do not seem to
have any owners, and yet sheep are pastured on them summer and winter.
Some of them are owned by the government. Down at Vinal Haven I heard
about Devil Island. They said there was some sort of a mystery here. An
island with a mystery is certain to be a great attraction for summer
visitors. I made a skip for Devil Island to see if it had any
attractions beside the mystery. Had hard work getting here. Nobody at
Green's Landing seemed to feel like dropping me here, you refused to do
so, I couldn't walk. But I didn't get excited. The more difficulties
beset my path the cooler I became. I am here, gentlemen, and I'm glad I
came. I admire clams. They are fine. I think these clams are the finest
I ever tasted. Have some, boys."

Mr. Cooler seemed to regret the time he had spent in talk, for he made a
fierce dive at the clams and raked out two of them.

Merriwell's friends all looked at him to see what he would do under the
circumstances. Frank was smiling, but there was a look of doubt on his
face. For once in his life, he seemed in a quandary. There was something
about this little, chuckling, jolly old man that seemed to forbid anyone
to do him personal violence. Bruce Browning felt that. He realized that
he would feel ashamed of himself if he should give the old fellow a
shaking. And it was plain that Cooler could not be frightened away in
any ordinary manner. Nothing seemed to alarm him.

"Sit up and eat some clams, fellows," said Frank, quietly. "Let him fill
up, and then we'll tie a big bowlder to his neck and sink him out here
in the harbor."

"Hum!" coughed the man in gray. "That's right, young man--let me fill my
sack with these clams before you put me to soak. Perhaps you had better
let me rest a while after that, too, for I never like to take a bath
after a full meal. It isn't healthy. The best physicians condemn the
practice."

So, with the exception of Hans, they again gathered around the clams and
started to enjoy the feast. Hans retired by himself and sat on a flat
rock, muttering and looking savage. At times he would shake his fist at
the back of the man in gray.

Mr. Cooler seemed to have a remarkable ability to talk and devour clams
at the same time. As Browning afterward expressed it, he "talked a blue
streak." He told them he was a great traveler, he had been all over the
United States, all over the world.

"Why," he said, "in Berlin I appeared at court."

"How much was the fine?" asked Frank, with a twinkle in his eye.

"Young man," exclaimed Cooler, "you astonish me. To look at you, I would
not suppose you could be frivolous. I am slightly that way myself. Can't
help it; born that way. Always see something humorous in everything.
It's better than medicine; it keeps the liver in a healthy condition.
Now, clams are hard to digest, but taken in connection with laughter and
jollity they digest much better. There is enough sadness in the world if
we do not go around with our faces drawn down. Be jolly. That's my
motto."

There was something infectious in his light spirits and careless air.
Despite themselves the boys found they were growing interested in this
queer old fellow.

Frank studied Mr. Cooler carefully. Had he not felt certain that the man
was playing a part, he would have enjoyed the old fellow's chatter. But
Frank could see beneath the surface, and he was absolutely satisfied
that Mr. Cooler was not what he represented himself to be. Frank had
never heard of the Bay Islands Land Company; he did not believe there
was such a company in existence.

If Cooler was lying, why was he doing so? What was his object in
attempting to force himself upon them? Why had he come to the island in
such a manner?

Frank had decided that Cooler was a spy and he had been set upon them by
the very ones who were so determined to drive them away from that
island. In that case, this light-hearted, careless old fellow was
connected with a gang of criminals who did not hesitate to do murder in
order to conceal their crimes.

Mr. Cooler did not stop eating clams till the last one was devoured, and
he disposed of that himself.

"Ah!" he sighed, drawing back and finding a comfortable position, where
he could sit with his back resting against a bowlder. "Now, I do feel
good! Young gentlemen, I am glad you came. Accept my congratulations on
this remarkably successful clambake. You have done a good job; I have
done another. My stomach has not been in the best possible condition
lately. I've been living at home. My wife cooks. Six months ago she was
a magnificent, a celestial cook! Oh, how beautifully she could broil a
beefsteak! But, alas! Also alack! She got the bicycle craze; she bought
a wheel. Now she is an inveterate scorcher."

He took a pipe out of his pocket and began to fill it, chattering away
in a jolly manner as he did so. He seemed inclined to do all the
talking.

"Doesn't your jaw get tired at times?" inquired Frank.

"Eh?" came in surprise from the little man. "Why?"

"I should think it would, you talk so much."

"He! he! Ho! ho! Wait a minute. Ha! ha!--knew there was another way to
laugh if I could think of it. Jaw get tired? My dear young gentleman, if
you had a wife like mine, you would consider it a privilege to talk
occasionally. I do not get an opportunity when I am at home. When I get
away from home, I make up for lost time. Haw! haw!--came near forgetting
that method of laughing. Don't mind me. I know I am something of a
chinning machine, but I am harmless. Why, I wouldn't harm a--a--a lion."

He lighted the pipe and puffed away a few moments, talking a streak
while he smoked. Frank was considering the advisability of pinning him
down and demanding to know his real reason for being there, when, of a
sudden, the little fellow jumped up spryly as a boy, exclaiming:

"This won't do. I must complete my tour of investigation. I must attend
to business. I must look the entire island over and be ready to leave
when that man comes back for me. Young gentlemen, I thank you for your
hospitality. I wish I might stop longer, but, unfortunately, I cannot.
So long, so ling, so lung."

Browning made a move, as if to stop the man, but Frank gave a sign to
let him go. Mr. Cooler scrambled nimbly up the bank, turned and waved
his hand with a flirting motion, and then vanished into the bushes.

"Fellows," spoke Frank, quickly, "I'm going to follow him. I must do it
alone. I'm armed. I can take care of myself. But if I do not return in
an hour, look for me."

Then he sprang up the bank after the mysterious man in gray.



CHAPTER XXIV.

THE WHISPERING GLADE.


Frank had learned the art of trailing from Indian guides in the West,
and, for a white person, he was an expert. As a shadower, he had the
skill of one who had been all his life in the business.

He did not let the man in gray get far away before approaching near
enough so Mr. Cooler could be seen occasionally as he slipped through
the bushes.

But it was not difficult to follow the queer old man, for Cooler did not
seem to imagine for a moment that he was shadowed. He walked swiftly,
puffing away at his pipe, and the smell of burning tobacco came back to
the nostrils of the pursuing lad.

After a little time the man struck the path that runs round the island
and through the old granite quarry. Then he walked still more swiftly,
but Frank also found less trouble in following.

Soon the quarry was reached. Cooler passed straight through this and
struck the track which led down the incline to the sheds near the wharf.

Now Frank was not able to pursue him so closely; he was forced to linger
far behind, for to keep close meant certain discovery should the man
look back.

Still he followed. The track ran through a cut and wound slowly along a
bank, to one side of which lay the water.

Frank reached the cut and saw the man in gray disappear beyond some
bowlders. A moment later Merry was at the bowlders, peering down the
track toward the still retreating form of the little man, over whose
shoulders at regular intervals curled blue puffs of smoke.

Frank had expected that the man would be suspicious and would look round
frequently. He was astonished when the man did not look round at all.

"He doesn't act like a criminal," Frank decided. "He hasn't the air of a
criminal. He walks along as if he had not a care in all the wide world
and did not fear to have all his actions watched. It is strange--very
strange."

Already Merry had learned that men who commit crimes betray themselves
by certain peculiar movements. The thief unconsciously assumes the pose
of a man picking a pocket, or taking what does not belong to him. The
burglar crouches in his walk and steals along catlike. The guilty man
often casts sly backward glances over his shoulder. It is rare for him
to have the air and manner of innocence.

But this little man in gray, when, without doubt, he believed himself to
be alone, was still the same care-free, careless old fellow.

He disappeared into one of the sheds at the end of the railroad. Frank
had slipped yet a little nearer and watched from a place of hiding.

Five minutes passed, and then the man in gray and another man came out
of that shed and took the path that led toward the old boarding house.

Frank uttered a low exclamation.

"Is it possible?" he muttered. "I believe I know that fellow with him."

He watched the companion of the man in gray. As they passed from view,
he again muttered:

"I do know him! He is Dan Hicks, the cock-eyed man! That settles it! Mr.
Caleb Cooler is just what I thought--he is one of the gang, and he came
here to spy upon us!"

Frank ran lightly down the track, hidden by the bank beyond which the
men had disappeared. He stooped as he ran. Ahead of him he saw the point
where Browning had pried up the rails and sent a flat car, loaded with
granite, into the water, thus saving Frank's life. He shuddered as he
thought of his sensations during those terrible moments of peril while
he was bound to the track and could hear the car rumbling toward him.

The bank grew lower till at last he could not keep hidden behind it if
he ran farther down the track. Then he flung himself flat on the bank
and crawled up till he could peer over.

The two men were walking toward the distant boarding house. Hicks was
talking excitedly, while Cooler still smoked. Hicks looked back
suspiciously, but the man in gray did not turn his head.

They passed the house where the overseer had lived when he was on the
island with the crew of men who worked in the quarry--they were again
hidden from view.

Over the bank scrambled Frank. Keeping the house between him and the
men, he ran swiftly forward.

In a short time he reached the house. He paused to listen, his heart
thumping loudly.

He could hear nothing.

Then he slipped round the house. He carefully peered round each corner
before advancing. At the second corner he halted, for again he could see
the men he was shadowing.

They were near the old building in which Frank had been struck down. The
man in gray seemed to be asking questions. He was surveying the
surroundings as if he had never inspected them before.

For fifteen minutes they stood there talking, and then they went into
the building.

Frank decided to return to his friends. He quickly darted up an incline
toward some cedars, which he saw grew thicker and thicker higher up the
slope. Soon he was hidden by the bushes.

Then Frank went forward more slowly, taking pains to keep in the bushes.
Up above was a ledgy height. He came to it after a time. He found a
position where he could look down into the old quarry. From that
position he could see the overturned car and the granite which lay in
the water at the foot of the bank down which it had jumped. He could
also look far out over the island-dotted bay. He could see small boats
in the distance, he could see white sails, he could see the sunshine
reflected on the blue water. In the midst of this mass of water and
islands lay Devil Island, shrouded by mystery, lonely and desolate,
shunned by man.

Once before he had strongly felt the air of desolation that seemed to
hang about the place, and now the same uncanny sensation was creeping
over him again. Somehow it seemed that he was far from men, far from
life, lost in a lonely waste of water, cast on an uncanny island.

He shook himself, trying to throw off the feeling. He wondered why it
should come upon him at that time, and then he began to remember how he
had first felt it once before when near that very spot.

"The glade--the grave in the woods!"

He muttered the words, realizing that the woods were close at hand. They
lay there dark and gloomy. He must pass through them in order to reach
the _White Wings_, or he must retrace his steps and take the path. To do
the latter would be sure to expose him to the men he had watched.

But Frank did not wish to turn back. There was something fascinating as
well as repellent about the woods. Down there was a grave. At the head
of the grave was a stone. On that stone was chiseled:

"Sacred to the Memory of Rawson Denning."

Denning, like Frank Merriwell, had been inquisitive. He had attempted to
solve the mystery of the island, and he had disappeared. Afterward the
grave had been found on the island. No one had dared open that grave to
see if the body of the missing man from Boston lay within.

Frank felt a desire to look at that grave again. He went down toward it,
entering the thick woods. Every step that he advanced seemed to cause
the feeling to grow stronger upon him. The woods were silent and
deserted. It did not seem possible that there could be a thing of life
other than Frank anywhere within them.

All at once, with astonishing suddenness, he came out into the opening
and there before him was the grave, the headstone gleaming gray in the
dim light.

Frank paused. Involuntarily he listened. He had not forgotten how, on
his other visit to the spot, both he and Browning had seemed to hear a
mysterious whisper in the air, had seemed to hear a rustle down in that
grave, as if the murdered man turned restlessly. Without knowing why he
did so, Frank listened again.

"Look!"

He started, for it seemed that he had heard that whisper. He glanced all
around.

Silence in the woods. Not even the rustle of a leaf. How lonely it was!

"Look!"

Again that word, coming from he knew not where.

At what should he look? What did it mean?

Then he told himself that it was all his imagination--he had heard no
whispered word. He advanced toward the grave; he stood beside it.

"Look!"

Was it imagination? This time the whisper sounded amazingly clear and
distinct.

"Look at what?"

In spite of himself, he spoke the words aloud. He did not expect an
answer, and he gasped for breath when it came:

"The stone!"

A quiver ran over Frank Merriwell's body. Of all the mysteries on this
island, the mystery of this black whispering glade in the woods was the
greatest.

He bent forward and looked at the stone. There were fresh chips on the
mound, and at a glance he saw that the name "Rawson Denning" had been
chiseled out. Below it another name had been cut into the stone, so that
the inscription now read:

"Sacred to the Memory of Frank Merriwell."



CHAPTER XXV.

SEARCHING FOR FRANK.


As time passed and Frank did not return, the boys began to grow restless
and anxious.

"I don't like it," declared Diamond, pacing the beach, upon which the
tide was washing higher and higher as it came in. "I did not think much
of letting him go away alone. We all know what happened to him once when
he was alone on this island."

"He knows it himself," said Hodge; "and it is mighty hard work to catch
him twice in the same trap."

"Oh, he's shrewd enough, but he can be overpowered by numbers. What do
you think about it, Browning?"

Bruce was stretched on the sand, his head pillowed on his coat, which
lay on a rock.

"I'm not going to think for an hour," he grunted. "Too much trouble."

"Oh, your laziness makes me disgusted!" snapped Diamond.

"Huah!" came in a puff from the big fellow. "Something seems to be
gnawing you still."

"Poys," broke in Hans, who still looked sad and weary of living, "I made
der biggest mistook uf your life ven I let Vrankie go avay alone all py
himseluf to chase dot liddle defil mit der saucy mouth--you heard me
vawble!"

"If he had fallen into trouble, he would have done some shooting to let
us know."

"But should we have heard it, Hodge?" asked Diamond.

"The island is not very large."

"I think it is pretty large, and I do not believe we could hear a gun
fired on the other side even under favorable circumstances, and the
circumstances are not favorable now."

"Why not?"

"Wind is blowing the wrong way."

"Didn't think of that."

The boys soon concluded that the shooting on the farther side of the
island would not be heard by them, and straightway their anxiety
increased.

Diamond was for starting out at once to look for Frank. He did not
believe in waiting till the hour was up; but Hodge, who in his heart was
the most anxious man of the party, objected to disobeying Merry's plain
command.

"He told us to stay here an hour, and I shall stay here," said Bart.

"I suppose you would stay if you heard him shouting for help?" said the
Virginian, hotly.

Bart flushed, for he did not fancy being spoken to in that tone of
voice.

"I have always found it best to do just as Merriwell directs," said
Hodge, stiffly. "If you wish to go search for him, you may go. I remain
here twenty minutes longer."

Browning grunted his approval of the stand taken by Bart, and Jack gave
them both a savage look.

Hans, who had refused to partake of the clams while the man in gray was
present, was feeling very hungry, and that made him still more
miserable.

"Oxcuse me, poys," he said. "I must made a raid der ship's brovisions
ubon. I vill peen pack britty soon, if nod before."

Then he took the boat and rowed off to the yacht, where he lost no time
in satisfying the cravings of his "inner man."

As the Dutch lad appeared on deck to row ashore again, Browning
suddenly straightened up from his recumbent position. He had his watch
in his hand, and the Dutch lad heard him say:

"The hour is up, Hodge."

Immediately Bart turned toward the yacht and shouted to Hans:

"Bring two of those guns ashore, and plenty of cartridges for them. Be
lively about it! We are in a howling hurry."

"All righd!" shouted Hans, in return, as he plunged down the companion
way.

He was not long in getting the guns and placing them in the boat, but
when he reached the shore it was discovered that he had brought the
wrong cartridges.

Then Hodge leaped into the boat and rowed out to the yacht for what was
needed, returning in a few minutes.

Browning, however, usually careless and lazy, was fretting at the delay,
for the big fellow remembered how, but a short time before, he had saved
Frank's life by a hair's breadth. A delay of one minute in that case
would have been fatal.

Bruce had some imagination, and he was beginning to picture Frank in all
sorts of peril.

"Look here!" came fiercely from Diamond; "what are you chaps up to? Do
not think for a moment that you are going to leave me behind! I'm going
with you! I am going to help find Merriwell!"

"Of course, you can come if you insist," began Bruce.

"I do!" cut in Jack.

"But I scarcely think it advisable," the big fellow continued. "At least
two of our party should remain and watch the yacht."

"Hans is enough for that."

"Don't you pelief I vos goin' to stayed here alone!" squawked the Dutch
boy. "You don'd plaid dot tricks on me!"

Jack tried to argue with him--tried to convince him that there could be
no danger in remaining on board the yacht; but Hans was obstinate, and
the effort failed.

"You don'd fool me dot vay," he fiercely exclaimed. "I don'd stayed
alone here, dot vos all."

It became plain that one of the boys would have to remain with him.
Hodge had returned with the proper ammunition, and Jack was not supplied
with a gun.

"Well," he said, fiercely, "I was the first one who wanted to go after
Merriwell, but I seem to be left out of it. All right! I may come later.
Perhaps you will need me."

"Perhaps so," confessed Bart, grimly. "Give us plenty of time to make a
circuit of the island and return here. Then, if we have not appeared,
you will have a reason for coming."

"Und I vill come mit him," put in Hans.

"Don't leave the _White Wings_ unless you feel it is for the best. We
are going prepared for trouble, and it will be a warm crowd that gets
the best of us. Come on."

Away went Bart and the big Yale man, scrambling up the bank with their
guns and quickly disappearing into the bushes.

Bart took the lead, but Browning was at his heels, swinging along with a
stride that covered ground swiftly. There was a look of intense anxiety
on the face of the giant.

Round the island to the quarry they went, down the railroad they
hurried, and soon they were in sight of the spot where not many hours
before Frank had nearly lost his life.

Browning drew a breath of relief when they did not find the mangled body
of Merriwell stretched on the track. Somehow he had felt it was
possible the wretches had captured Frank and completed their work at
last, and he was dreading to walk down that railroad, fearing he should
find the friend he loved and admired dead upon the rails.

"He is not here."

The words came from Hodge, and they were exactly what Bruce was
thinking.

"No."

"Where shall we go now?"

"To the old boarding house." Away they went toward the building. It
looked before them, the sunshine glinting on its windows, apparently
utterly deserted. There was something forbidding in its appearance.

"We shall not find him there!"

Hodge spoke the words in full conviction that time would be wasted in
looking through the building.

"Perhaps not," admitted Bruce; "but I know of no other place to look."

This was a confession that the big fellow would be "stumped" if no trace
of Frank was found in the building.

They reached it, passed round to the back door by which admission had
been obtained when Frank and Bruce visited it the first time, and there
they hesitated.

The door was standing open.

"Just exactly as we left it!" exclaimed Browning. "No one has closed the
door."

This seemed to surprise him. Hodge pushed forward and went in. Bruce
followed.

The empty rooms echoed to their steps. Everywhere were cobwebs, dust,
decay. Some of the windows were broken, some were boarded up.

From room to room they went, they ascended the stairs, they spoke in
whispers.

The sun shone in upon the floor, but it brought nothing of cheer to the
deserted building. It seemed like a mocking attempt to make the place
look pleasant, an attempt that served to show its dreary desolation all
the more plainly.

"He is not here," whispered Bart.

"The basement," came from Bruce. "It was there that I found him when he
disappeared the other time."

Down the creaking stairs they went, Browning taking the lead now. The
door at the head of the stairs leading into the dark basement was open.

"Just as we left it," declared the big fellow. "It was fastened in the
first place, so Merry said. He had to force it open."

They lighted matches as they went down the stairs into the basement. The
place was dismal enough, filled with old boxes and barrels.

"Frank!"

Browning called, causing Hodge to start and drop his match. Then they
stood still and listened.

Squeak! squeak!

A rat scampered across the ground beneath their feet.

That was all. There was no answer to Browning's call.

"He is not here."

"No."

They lost little time in hastening up the stairs and getting out of the
old building. As soon as they were in the open air they drew deep
breaths, for they had been stifled and oppressed.

"Where next?" asked Bart.

"The house," said Bruce. "We must not go away without looking through
that."

"Can we get in?"

"We will find a way--or make it!"



CHAPTER XXVI.

AGAIN AT THE GRAVE.


The door of the house would not open for them. Bruce threatened to burst
it in with his shoulders, but Bart advised him not to do so, unless as a
last resort.

Then a window was found that would open, and soon they had clambered in.

There was some furniture in the house, but still the place had the same
dreary, deserted air of the big building they had just left.

Browning began by shouting Frank's name, to which cry there was no
answer. The rising wind rattled a loose window.

It did not take them long to go through the house, to which there was no
cellar, and they found nothing to indicate that a human being had
entered the place for months.

As they stood outside, after getting out of the window and closing it
behind them, they looked at each other in a helpless manner.

"What has become of him?" asked Bart, huskily.

"That is what I would like to know," confessed Bruce. "He seems to have
disappeared completely."

"And the man in gray----"

"Is gone, too."

"Browning, I am afraid Merry was lured into some sort of a trap."

"So am I."

"Why should they take him in particular, and not harm any of the rest of
us?"

"Perhaps their motto is one at a time."

"No. I believe Frank was selected out of our party as the one to get out
of the way. He was determined to solve the mystery of this wretched
island, and he was the leader of our party. The ruffians fancied that
they would put an end to all trouble by getting him out of the way, for
they fancied we would run at once."

Browning grunted, and Hodge went on swiftly and fiercely:

"By the eternal skies, they made a big mistake! I'll not leave this
island till I know what has happened to Frank Merriwell, or I am dead!"

"Nor I," nodded Bruce. "I'm with you, old man."

"If he has been harmed," Bart went on, "the wretches who did the dirty
work shall suffer! I swear it!"

"I'm another."

"We will bring them to justice!"

"Or kick the bucket trying."

They shook hands on it, and they were in deadly earnest.

They decided not to return to the yacht by the path, but to go over the
island and through the woods. Thus, by chance, they followed almost
directly in Frank's footsteps.

As they drew near to the dark woods, Browning felt a tightening at his
heart--a sensation similar to that he had once before experienced as he
stood beside the lonely grave in the dark glade. He sought to throw it
off, but could not do so.

"Come," he said.

"Which way?" asked Bart.

"This way."

He seemed to feel something drawing him toward the grave in the glade,
and Bart followed without another word.

Unconsciously the big Yale man stepped softly, as if he feared to alarm
somebody or something. The moss beneath his feet gave no sound. Not even
a twig snapped. Without knowing that he did so, Hodge imitated
Browning's stealthy manner.

The wind soughed through the pines and cedars in a fitful manner. There
seemed to be strange rustlings in the air.

At the edge of the glade Bruce halted. There was the grave, with the
gray headstone. He stood there staring at it. Somehow he was possessed
by a feeling that the grave had something to do with the vanishing of
Frank Merriwell, although his reason told him that such a thing was
folly.

"What is the matter?"

Hodge almost whispered the question, for he was beginning to feel the
uncanny air that overshadowed the place.

"There is the grave," said Bruce.

"What grave?"

"Why, the one we told you about--the grave of the Boston man who
disappeared in such a mysterious manner. It is supposed that he was
murdered on this island and buried there."

Bart shivered.

"You act as if you half expected to see another grave beside that one,"
he muttered.

"Not so soon."

"But to-morrow----"

"If Frank has been foully dealt with, the villains have not been given
time to make another grave. His body is hidden somewhere. But I will not
believe anything of the kind has happened. We shall find him
somewhere--alive and well."

"We must!"

Bruce remembered the strange whispering they had heard there when he
and Frank visited the place, and now he listened, half expecting to hear
it again.

The silence was unbroken save by the mournful sound of the wind in the
trees.

Bruce went forward quickly and stood by the grave. Bart came up, and
together they looked down at the gray headstone.

"What is that?" asked Hodge, pointing. "Somebody has been doing
something to the stone since it was placed here."

They bent down and looked at the stone.

"Why," cried Bruce, "the first name has been chiseled off! Another name
has been put on! That name is----"

"Frank Merriwell!"

Astounded, they stared at the headstone. What did it mean? Why was that
name upon it?

The tightening sensation grew around Browning's heart. All at once it
seemed that the mystery of the island was deeper and darker than ever
before.

"Now what do you think of that?" cried Bart, huskily.

Bruce shook his head, for the moment feeling that he was not able to
speak. It did not seem that he could govern his voice. All sorts of wild
fancies were rushing through his head.

He looked at the mound, and a feeling of relief came to him when he saw
that it seemed undisturbed.

Hodge was shaking. He reached out and grasped the big fellow's arm with
a savage clutch.

"Was it--was it meant for a warning?" he asked.

"Yes," said Bruce, quickly grasping at that explanation, "it must have
been. You have struck it, Hodge."

"Then it is not likely Frank saw it."

"Perhaps not, and yet he may have come here."

Then they stood there a long time, silently staring at that stone, on
which was chiseled the name of the friend they held dearest in all the
world.

At last Bruce hoarsely said:

"Come, let's get away from here!"

"But it may be that--somehow--we may strike a clew here. This may be a
clew. This may explain what has happened."

"If this explains it, there is but one construction to be placed on
Frank's remarkable disappearance."

"And that is that he is----"

"Dead!"

In the treetops the wind seemed to repeat the word in a whisper.

But neither Bart nor Bruce were willing to believe that Frank Merriwell
was dead, for all that his name was there before them on the gray stone
at the head of the lonely grave.

"Dead or living, I'll never rest till I know the truth!" came
passionately from Bart's lips. "If he is dead, the murderers shall
suffer!"

"We must throw off the feeling that anything so awful has happened. Even
now he may be with the others at the yacht. While we have been searching
for him, he may have returned."

Hodge caught at this eagerly.

"You are right!" he said. "Come on; we will hurry back there."

They left the glade, turning to look back as they passed on into the
gloomy woods. They were glad to get away.

At first they hurried on, their hearts buoyant with the thought that
they should find him waiting for them at the yacht. He would laugh at
them, would jolly them because of their foolish fears. The placing of
his name on the headstone of the grave was a ghastly joke, and nothing
more.

In his mind Browning was thinking how he would growl at Merry for
causing them so much trouble. He even thought of the words he would use.

But as they came nearer and nearer to the side of the island near which
the yacht was anchored, their spirits fell again and they were beset by
doubts and fears. What if they should not find Frank waiting for them
when they arrived?

These doubts caused them to walk slower and slower, for they dreaded to
hear that Frank was still missing.

"It seems to me," said Bart, "that it is very probable Merriwell will
not be with Jack and Hans."

"He may not be," confessed Bruce.

"If he had returned, they would have fired guns and done things to let
us know it."

"We might not have heard them."

"We should. The wind is right. We are near the yacht now."

Bruce felt like turning back and making another search. He dreaded to
return and report that they had discovered nothing save the name of the
missing lad on the headstone of a grave.

All at once they came out of the woods upon the high bank, from which
position they could look down into the cove where the yacht lay. There
she was, swinging idly with the incoming tide, and on her deck they
could see Dunnerwust and Diamond. Merriwell was not in sight.

Almost as soon as they came out of the thick woods, they were seen by
Diamond, and he called to them:

"What have you found?"

"Nothing," answered Hodge, gloomily. "Hasn't Frank returned?"

"No!"



CHAPTER XXVII.

SLIPPERY MR. COOLER.


Immediately Diamond and Dunnerwust got into the boat, which floated
beside the yacht. They took guns, and Hans soon rowed the boat ashore.
Bart and Bruce came down the bank and told them where they had been and
what they had seen.

On hearing about the name on the headstone, Diamond became greatly
excited.

"My God!" he cried. "Can it be that Frank has been killed? If so, I'll
never forgive myself for letting him follow that man alone! Oh, that
treacherous little devil! I could strangle him! I wish I had him here
now!"

"So do I, py Chorch!" shouted Hans.

"It would not be healthy for Mr. Cooler," said Browning.

"Were you speaking of me, young gentlemen?" chirped a familiar voice,
and down the bank came the man in gray, calmly walking up to the
astonished lads. "I hope you were not saying anything behind my back
that you do not care to repeat before my face."

"No!" rang out the clear voice of the Virginian. "I called you a
treacherous little devil, and I repeat it!"

"That's complimentary, to say the least," grinned the man in gray, in
his provokingly careless manner. "But I'd like to know what I have done
to lead you to speak thus disparagingly of me. Wouldst tell me?"

Browning reached out and collared the queer old fellow, lifting him off
his feet and swinging him around so he was in the midst of them.

"There!" grunted the big Yale man, with satisfaction. "Now we have you!
You can't run, so don't try it!"

"If you try it, by the Lord Harry! I'll fill you full of lead!" came
hoarsely from Hodge, who was fingering the gun in his hands as if he
longed to shoot Cooler anyhow.

"Ah, me!" sighed the little man. "How rude you are, young gentlemen! Is
it possible you are in your right minds?--or have I fallen in with a lot
of lunatics? Why, I wouldn't run for anything! It's not necessary to
threaten me. I wish you would tell me what I have done to arouse your
ire."

"Where is Frank Merriwell?"

"Hey?"

"Where is he?" snarled Diamond, showing his white teeth. "Don't lie,
man! Don't try it! If you do we will put you where you will lure no
other person into a trap!"

"Goodness me!" said Mr. Cooler, somewhat mockingly. "You are very much
excited, young man. I do not know what you are driving at."

"Don't lie! I tell you it is dangerous! We are desperate!"

"You really seem so."

"Where is he?"

"How do I know?"

"You do know! He followed you, and you trapped him some way. What have
you done with him?"

"He! he!" chuckled the little man. "Followed me, did he? Why did he do
that? It seems to me he should have been more careful."

"There it is!" burst from Hodge. "That is the same as a boast! Now we
know you have done something to him!"

"You are a very knowing young man."

Now the manner of the man in gray aroused the anger and resentment of
the boys. He seemed to be taunting them.

"Shall we shoot the snake, Bruce?" asked Diamond, his face purple with
passion. "Shall we avenge Frank?"

"Not just yet," said Browning. "We will give him a chance for his life."

"You are very kind!" murmured Mr. Cooler.

"If he will tell us what has become of Frank--if he will lead us to
Frank, we will spare his life."

"What if I don't know where he is?"

"You do know. You dare not deny it!"

"You are very much mistaken, for I do deny it. I give you my word of
honor that I do not know where Mr. Merriwell is at this moment. I do
know he followed me. He thought he was doing a very shrewd thing, and I
must confess that I rather admired his skill at it, but I knew all the
time that he was behind me."

"Ha!" exclaimed Hodge. "Then you know what became of him?"

"No. He followed me over to the other side of the island, and then he
started to return by coming straight back through the woods. That is all
I know. I am here to learn if he returned safely. If he did, I intended
to warn him that his life was in danger if he should go about the island
alone. You must see that I am serious now."

"Oh, yes, we see!" came scornfully from Diamond. "It is too thin! It
will not work, Mr. Cooler. You know too much not to know more. If you
wish to keep your skin whole, just lead us straight to Frank
Merriwell--that's all!"

"I can't. I would do it if I could. But I give you my word to do my best
to save him if he is in trouble. That is the best I can do."

Diamond's anger caused him to lose his head so that he threatened the
old man with his fist. He quickly realized what he was doing, however,
and, with an air of apology, he cried:

"If you keep it up, you will lead me to do something of which I shall be
ashamed. You can't fool us, old man. We have you foul, and we'll never
let up on you till you lead us to Frank Merriwell. We are young, but you
will find we can keep a pledge like men."

In truth, Cooler seemed in earnest as he said:

"Young gentleman, you wrong me very much. I am ready to go with you and
do what I can to help find Mr. Merriwell, but that is all I can do. It
will be better if you will let me go alone. I shall be able to work
alone far better."

"Oh, yes," sneered Hodge. "You think we are fools! No, we go with you."

"All right. I am ready."

It did not seem that anything further could be forced from his lips.
They warned him that they would not hesitate to shoot if he tried to run
away, and then they climbed the bank.

"If you want me to lead you," said Mr. Cooler, "come on."

He did not take the path, but plunged into the woods. They kept close to
him, watching him.

"If you try to lead us into a trap," said Hodge, "you will be sorry. If
we are ambushed here in these woods, my first shot will be at you. I'll
fix you, if I never do another thing."

There was nothing like bluster in the words, and Mr. Caleb Cooler knew
Bart meant exactly what he said.

"That is all right," nodded the little man. "Shoot away."

He led them toward the glade in which was the mysterious grave. At last
they stood around the grave, and he said:

"Here is something I discovered since coming to the island. That name
was on the stone before I joined you at the clambake. I forgot to tell
you about it."

"Yesterday there was another name on that stone," said Browning. "The
new name must have been cut there after we left the island yesterday
afternoon."

"I do not know when it was cut there," declared Cooler; "but everything
shows it must have been very recently. I do know it was there when I
landed on this island to-day."

"And you know who cut it there!" accused Diamond.

"If you think so, it is useless to deny it."

"Now take us to Frank Merriwell!"

"All I can do is aid you in the search. I am willing to go anywhere with
you."

They passed on from the dark glade, leaving the mysterious grave behind
them.

Cooler seemed inclined to keep to the left, although the woods were
thicker there. They pushed forward, as if passing through a jungle.
Branches whipped them in the face, and beneath their feet the underbrush
crackled.

All at once Diamond shouted:

"Stop! stop! Where is Cooler?"

"Why," grunted Browning, "he's right here. Thunder! He was at my elbow a
moment ago. I scarcely took my eyes off him."

"He isn't here now!" rang out Jack's voice. "He has disappeared! He is
trying to hide in these thick bushes. Scatter and search for him! If you
see him running, shoot at his legs! Stop him somehow!"



CHAPTER XXVIII.

THE VOICE IN THE NIGHT.


The excited lads beat the bushes in vain. Caleb Cooler had disappeared
in a moment, as if the ground had opened and swallowed him. It seemed
impossible that he could give them the slip in such a manner, but he
had.

At last four very disgusted and angry boys stopped in a little opening
and looked at each other.

"We are a set of chumps!" declared Hodge.

"That's so!" grunted Browning.

"Ought to have held onto the snake all the time," came savagely from
Diamond. "Oh, if we had him here now!"

"Yaw!" gurgled Hans. "Uf we had him here now he vouldn't done a thing to
us!"

"I feel like crawling into a hole," growled the big Yale man.

"So do I," nodded Hodge; "but I don't know where to find a hole small
enough. What fools we are!"

"Yaw!" again gurgled Hans. "Vot fools you vos!"

"But I'm hanged if I can understand it," said Bruce. "How did he do it?
That is what I want to know."

"He was within reach at one moment and gone the next."

"Let's search again."

They did so, but the time was spent in vain. They were close to the
rocks which rose above the ground in the vicinity of the quarry, but it
seemed an utter impossibility for anyone to hide amid those rocks.

They decided to remain in the vicinity and watch for Mr. Cooler,
thinking he was in a place of hiding near at hand, and he would be
forced to show himself sooner or later. Having decided on this, they
scattered somewhat, but were within call of each other. Then they
settled down to watch for the man in gray.

It became ominously silent there amid the cedars and pines, save when
the fitful wind made a rustling. Once a squirrel was heard chattering in
the distance.

An hour passed, and then Diamond could stand it no longer. He called
them together and said:

"Fellows, while we remain idle here, those villains may be completing
the work of putting Merriwell out of the way. I think we are wasting our
time."

"So do I," said Hodge.

"Und I vos some more," put in Hans.

Then they decided to scour the island. If hidden near at hand, Cooler
knew they were watching for him, and it was not likely he would make a
move.

Two hours were spent in wandering over the island, calling to the
missing lad. They awoke the echoes in the dark woods, but the echoes
were the only answers to their cries.

Disheartened and desperate, they returned to the cove in which the yacht
lay. They were troubled by fears that something had happened to her
while they were away, but when they obtained a view of her, she was seen
riding peacefully at anchor.

The small boat was there, and Bart was the first to reach it. Suddenly
he uttered an exclamation, and then called the attention of the others
to a slip of paper that lay beneath a stone that had been placed on one
of the seats. A moment later he secured the paper.

"There is writing upon it!" he declared.

"Read it!" exclaimed the others, pressing nearer.

On the paper, which seemed to be a leaf torn from a pocket account book,
were scrawled the following words:

     "You fellers Haid better git erway Frum Devul irelan in a Blame big
     Hurry or you will git used the saim as frank Merryfull did. you
     wunt Naver se no moar of Him."

"That settles it!" said Diamond, bitterly. "Frank is done for this time!
They have finished him--the devils!"

"Well, they'll never drive me away from this island till I have found
out how they did it and who they are!" vowed Hodge. "Right here I swear
I will spend the rest of my life in avenging Merry, if it is necessary."

"I am with you!"

"And I!"

"Yaw! Me, too!"

They shook hands on it, with bared heads. Never were four lads in more
deadly earnest.

The sun was low in the western sky, tinting the rippling waters with
golden light. The scene was a peaceful one, and it did not seem possible
that an awesome and appalling tragedy had taken place on that quiet
little island that day.

Despite their determination, the boys were stunned and at a loss to know
what was to be done. They entered the boat and rowed off to the yacht.

It was plain no one had visited the _White Wings_ while they were away,
for nothing on board was molested.

Hans was hungry, but he was the only one of them all who seemed to have
any appetite. They did not talk much, but all were thinking, and the
Dutch boy cried softly over the food he ate.

Little had they dreamed when they started out on the cruise that
anything so terrible could happen and that they would be so completely
dazed and bewildered. Their hearts were full of sorrow, but on their
faces were looks of resolution that told they did not mean to be driven
away till they had fulfilled their oath.

The sun went down redly in the west and tinted twilight crept over the
water. In the woods on shore darkness gathered swiftly. They stared away
toward those woods, as if watching for the appearance of their missing
friend.

All at once Jack caught hold of Hodge, hissing:

"Look there!"

"Where?"

"Down toward the point. See--back in the shadows beyond the two pines!
Can you see them there?"

"I see something."

"Two figures?"

"Yes."

"I saw them move--saw them come out of the woods. They are men, and they
are watching us!"

"That's right."

"And one of them is that snake, the little man in gray!"

"I believe it!"

"I know it! Get a rifle, Hodge!"

"What would you do?"

"Shoot him!" panted the hot-blooded Virginian. "Get a rifle! I will put
a bullet through the villain!"

Although hot-blooded and reckless himself Bart realized that Diamond
must not do anything of the kind. But he did not find it necessary to
reason with Jack, for the two men turned and disappeared into the woods.

"They're gone!" exclaimed the Virginian, regretfully.

"But they may come back again. We must keep a close watch to-night.
There is no telling what desperate deed they may attempt."

So the night was divided into watches, and each lad took his turn on
deck.

The sky became overcast, so there was little light. The black shadow of
the shore seemed potent with dangers.

Bart had his second watch on deck, and it was not far from midnight when
he was startled to hear a voice hailing from the shore:

"Ahoy, the yacht!"

"What do you want?" asked Bart, gripping a revolver and staring toward
the point from which the voice had seemed to come. "Who are you?"

"Caleb Cooler, at your service," came back the answer. "I thought I'd
tell you something that may relieve your minds somewhat. Frank Merriwell
is alive and unharmed."

Bart gasped.

"Why do you come to tell us that?" he asked.

"Because I know you are worrying about him. Don't worry. He will be with
you to-morrow."

This angered Bart so that he lifted his revolver, being tempted to send
a random shot toward the point from which the voice seemed to come, but
he changed his mind and lowered the weapon.

"So long," called the voice of the queer old man. "Turn in and sleep.
You won't be troubled."

"That is what they want us to do," thought Bart. "It is a trick. But
they can't fool us that way."

No further sound was heard from the shore. Cooler did not answer,
although Bart called to him several times.

Jack had heard Hodge speaking, and he came on deck. When Bart told
Diamond what had happened, the latter was furious.

"If I had been here, I would have fired six shots in his direction," he
declared.

Diamond took his turn on deck, and it was about two o'clock when he
fancied he heard the sound of oars. The sound came nearer and nearer,
till at last it seemed that the boat reached the island, and then the
sound was heard no more.

Morning dawned, and Browning arose in a strangely agitated state of
mind. Never had his companions seen him in such a condition. When asked
about it, he said:

"Boys, I had a queer dream. I'm going to tell you what it was. I dreamed
that Frank Merriwell is buried in the grave on the island. I thought him
buried alive. We dug him out and restored him to life."

"It can't be that Merry is buried there, for the mound has not been
disturbed lately," said Diamond.

"All the same," declared Browning, "I am going to open that grave. I am
going to know the secret it holds."



CHAPTER XXIX.

THE SECRET OF THE GRAVE.


Browning was determined, and it was not long before he had worked the
others into a state of excitement over it. Without waiting for
breakfast, they sprang into the boat and rowed ashore.

"I saw some tools in the sheds at the end of the railroad," said Bruce.
"We will secure them."

The path was taken, and they passed through the old quarry and down the
track to the sheds. There they found a pick and spade. With those in
their possession, they hastened to the black glade in which lay the
grave.

For once in his life Bruce Browning was filled with energy--he was
aroused. But even as he reached the grave, he halted suddenly, his hand
uplifted, hoarsely gasping:

"Listen!"

The boys were silent.

"Help!"

It was a smothered cry, and it seemed to come from the ground at their
feet. It made the hair of the Dutch boy stand and his teeth chatter. It
astonished and amazed them all.

"Help!"

Again that smothered cry seemed to come from the grave. What did it
mean?

"Use the pick, Hodge!" hoarsely commanded Browning. "We will soon open
it up. Go at it lively!"

Bart obeyed, and the ground gave back a strange, hollow sound as he
struck his pick into it. Browning shoveled away the dirt, having torn
off his coat to work with greater ease.

Soon something of a hole had been made in the mound.

All at once, with a cry of horror, Bart started back, pointing down into
the hole they had made.

"Look!" he gasped. "That ring--that hand! It is Frank Merriwell's hand!"

And there before them they saw a human hand that seemed to be thrust up
through the ground.

Hans began to pray.

The hand moved--it clawed desperately at the ground!

"It is Frank!" Diamond almost screamed. "He is down there! He has been
buried alive! Dig, fellows--dig! But be careful not to hurt him!"

At that moment the ground caved in at their feet, and up out of it rose
the dirt-covered head of Frank Merriwell. He rubbed the dirt out of his
eyes, and then he cheerfully observed:

"Good-morning, fellows! It seems to be a pleasant morning outside, but
it's a trifle close inside. If you will take hold and pull me out, I'll
be much obliged."

They clutched him--they dragged him to the surface. Behind him lay a
deep, dark hole that was not filled by the earth that had caved in.

"Well, of all things wonderful!" grunted Browning. "Never knew anything
like this before--never heard of anything like this! I believe I am
still dreaming!"

"Frank, are you hurt?" asked Diamond.

"Not much," answered Merry. "They trapped me without much trouble. I
didn't have a chance to get hurt."

"But to be buried under the ground--to be in a grave!"

"Eh? A grave? Why, Great Scott! It is the grave--and the stone with my
name on it! This is the spot where I was caught. I was standing right
here. A man dropped down out of this tree and struck on my shoulders.
He laid me out, and it wasn't hard to tie me up. Then I was towed away
under ground, and a guard was placed over me. It's a close little hole
down there, but the guard left me after he had watched till he was
tired, and then I finally managed to get free, and I tried to dig out
where they had closed up what once was the mouth of the cave."

"What's that?" asked Hodge. "A cave?"

"Exactly; and there was an opening into it here at one time. They closed
it up and made this fake grave over the spot. That's just what they
did."

"But your voice--we could hear it."

"Look at this headstone. There is a hole straight down through it. Below
there is a tube that runs down into the cave. Anyone at the lower end of
the tube can speak so they can be heard here. That is how those
mysterious whispers reached our ears. Oh, it is a great scheme! It made
the place seem haunted."

"But where is the other opening to the cave?"

"It must be near here, though I was blindfolded when I was taken in. Mr.
Cooler was in the game. He came up suddenly a long, long time ago.
Talked with the chap who was guarding me. Said he had been forced to
dodge you chaps."

"That's when he gave us the slip," said Diamond. "I'd like to see the
little whelp again!"

"Your wish shall be gratified," said a familiar voice, and Mr. Cooler
walked into the glade, followed by three other men, all dressed in
black. "I am here!"

"It's the gang!" cried Diamond. "We'll have to fight for it, fellows!"

"Don't fight," advised the man in gray, laughing. "It isn't necessary.
We are not the gang, but we have the gang nicely corralled. You have
known me as Caleb Cooler, but I am, in fact, Dustin Douglass, of the
secret service. These gentlemen with me are deputies, and we have just
captured a gang of counterfeiters who have been making all sorts of
trouble for the government. If you think I am lying, young gentlemen, I
will show you my credentials. I managed to get in with the gang myself
by pretending to be a skillful shover of the queer, and that is why I
have been seen with some of them. Last night my deputies came onto the
island in a boat, and this morning we raked in all of the gang. We have
them nicely ironed over at the old boarding house, where one of my men
is watching over them. Among them, Mr. Merriwell, are your friends,
Hicks and Wiley. Somehow they think you were concerned in their undoing,
and they have expressed sincere regrets that they did not do you up,
instead of capturing you and stowing you here in the old cave. The chap
who was watching you came over to get his breakfast this morning, and
now he is ironed with the others. There are four in all.

"I trust you will pardon me for the deception, young gentlemen," smiled
the little secret service officer. "Had to do it, you know. Just came
over to set Mr. Merriwell at liberty, but I see you are here ahead of
me."

Bruce Browning leaned against a tree, looking tired and unnerved.

"This is too much for me!" he muttered. "I'm sure to go into brain
fever! I can't comprehend it all."

Nor could the others just then, but every word the little man had spoken
proved true. He showed them the skillfully concealed entrance to the
cave, which was sometimes used in which to hide the bogus money. They
understood how he had been able to give them the slip in such a
remarkable manner.

Then all went over to the old boarding house, where the boys inspected
the prisoners. Dan Hicks glared at Frank and cursed him, snarling:

"All I regret is that I didn't cut your throat!"

Beneath the building was a room the boys had not discovered, and there
the "queer" had been made.

At last the mystery of the island was solved, and Frank Merriwell was
satisfied. But the boys had been furnished with a topic for conversation
and discussion that would be interesting for a long time to come.

And Frank was well satisfied to leave Devil Island at last.


THE END.





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