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Title: The Brownie Scouts at Silver Beach
Author: Wirt, Mildred A. (Mildred Augustine)
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 "The Brownie Scouts at Silver Beach" ***

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[Illustration: Soft wisps of mist enfolded the shadowy building.

  (_See Page 34_)

“BROWNIE SCOUTS AT SILVER BEACH”]



The Brownie Scouts at Silver Beach

  by
  Mildred A. Wirt

  ILLUSTRATED

  CUPPLES AND LEON COMPANY
  Publishers      New York



  Copyright, 1952, by
  CUPPLES AND LEON COMPANY

  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

  THE BROWNIE SCOUTS AT SILVER BEACH

  Printed in the United States of America



CONTENTS


  _Chapter_                   _Page_

   1 Sand Dollars                  1

   2 A Turtle Race                11

   3 Fog                          21

   4 The Ship House               32

   5 An Old Sea Captain           41

   6 House in the Mist            52

   7 The Locked Door              64

   8 High Tide                    79

   9 Stuck in the Sand            87

  10 A Bird Report                95

  11 A Test for Snow White       103

  12 Found in the Reeds          115

  13 Jamie’s Present             125

  14 Hidden in the Sand          138

  15 A Face at the Window        147

  16 A Moonlight Swim            158

  17 Mrs. Allison’s Cruiser      170

  18 Adrift                      181

  19 Snow White Wings Home       187

  20 Brownie of the Day          199



THE BROWNIE SCOUTS AT SILVER BEACH



CHAPTER 1

SAND DOLLARS


“Watch me dive into that big wave! I’m a fish!”

Vevi McGuire shouted the words as she ran along the sandy beach toward
the ocean. In her red bathing suit, the dark-haired, freckled little
girl made a bright flash of color against the blue sky.

“Be careful, Vevi!” called Connie Williams. “The tide is coming in, and
those waves are strong.”

Now Vevi did not heed the warning of her friend. In fact, she didn’t
even hear what Connie had said. That was because she was thinking only
of being the first Brownie Scout to get into the water.

Flinging her arms wide, she ran to meet a big saucy wave. Icy cold, it
slapped hard at her knees.

Vevi squealed and turned her head to see if the other girls were
watching.

“Last one in is a sissy!” she challenged the group of Brownie Scouts.
“Who says the water is cold?”

“Watch out!” shouted Connie.

Another big foam-flecked wave came rolling slowly in. Vevi did not
turn quickly enough to see it.

Before she could brace herself, a great wall of water washed over her.

Now Vevi was very much surprised, for she had not known that a wave
could be so rough. Her feet were swept from beneath her and she fell
flat on her knees.

Spluttering and choking, Vevi clawed at the sand. For a second she
could not get her breath and was very frightened. She was afraid she
might drown.

Then the wave was gone, and Vevi found herself lying in a puddle of
salt water. When she scrambled to her feet, her bathing suit was gritty
with sand. Her elbow had been skinned too.

“My, if you didn’t look funny when that big wave slapped you!” laughed
Connie Williams.

Connie was Vevi’s very best friend, and a leader in the Rosedale
Brownie Scout troop. Her blue eyes twinkled, for she always enjoyed a
joke.

“It’s not funny,” Vevi protested, rubbing the skinned place on her
elbow.

“Look out, or you’ll be knocked flat again,” warned Jane Tuttle,
another Brownie Scout. She had long yellow braids which shone in the
bright sunlight.

This time, Vevi saw the wave coming and raced to safety. She did not
feel nearly so brave now that she knew how hard water could slap.

The five Brownies, Vevi, Connie, Jane, Sunny Davidson and Rosemary
Fritche, were spending their very first day on Silver Beach along the
Atlantic Coast.

All the girls were looking forward to ten wonderful days as guests of
Miss Gordon, the troop leader. Rosemary, Jane and Sunny were staying at
the teacher’s vine-covered cottage overlooking Silver Beach. Vevi and
Connie bunked at Starfish Cottage rented by Connie’s mother.

Now as Vevi shook sand from her bathing suit, the other girls waded
into the water. They were careful though, not to get knocked down by a
wave.

Nearby, Connie’s mother, Mrs. Williams, and Miss Gordon sat watching
from beneath the shade of a yellow beach umbrella.

“Oh, see what I’ve found!” cried Jane Tuttle suddenly.

She stooped to pick up something from the sand.

“What is it?” demanded Rosemary, running up. Jane showed her an
odd-appearing, round, gray object. “It doesn’t look like a shell,” she
said, “and it isn’t alive either.”

“Let’s ask Miss Gordon,” proposed Rosemary.

The Brownies ran over to the beach umbrella where the two women were
reading magazines.

“Why, Jane, you’ve found a sand dollar!” the Brownie leader exclaimed
when she saw the gray-purplish colored disc.

“A sand dollar!” echoed Jane, greatly excited. “Is it real money?”

“Dear me, no,” laughed the teacher. “It is only called by that name
because of its shape. Sand dollars really are like sea urchins, having
five parts to their shells. They have many hair-like spines or legs,
and eat tiny pieces of seaweed.”

“I’m going to find a sand dollar!” announced Vevi. “A dozen of ’em!”

All the Brownies joined in the search. No one, however, could find
another sand dollar. Connie picked up a pretty clam shell and Rosemary
found one of pure white which Miss Gordon told her was called an
angel’s wing.

“I wish the Brownies could gather shells every day we’re here,” Connie
declared. “And then maybe have an exhibition of them.”

Miss Gordon nodded approval.

“Perhaps we can, Connie,” she replied. “I thought too that we might
study sea life and perhaps learn a little about the birds.”

“And the ocean,” broke in Vevi. “I want to know where it came from and
how it got its salt.”

“The story of how the ocean became salty must wait until tomorrow,”
Miss Gordon said, smiling. “This afternoon we are to have a swimming
lesson. Barney Fulsom, the life guard, has promised to give the
Brownies a few pointers.”

“Is that Barney coming now?” asked Connie.

A deeply-tanned, broad-chested young man was walking briskly toward the
group of Brownies. The girls knew he was a life guard for he wore a Red
Cross emblem on his black bathing trunks.

“That’s Barney,” agreed Miss Gordon. “Now we must all do exactly as he
tells us.”

Barney carried a rubber sea horse under his arm.

“Hi, kids,” he greeted the Brownies. “All set for your first lesson?”

“I want to ride the sea horse,” announced Vevi. “I already know how to
swim--at least a little.”

“It didn’t look like it a minute ago when that wave smacked you,”
teased Connie.

Barney told the Brownies that the one who did the best in the swimming
lesson would be the first to ride the sea horse.

Mrs. Williams and Miss Gordon decided they would go into the ocean too.
The teacher removed her wrist watch, slipping it into the pocket of her
beach robe. She left the robe lying in plain view on the sand.

“Now kiddies,” said Barney when the Brownies had gathered in a circle
about him. “We’re going to pretend to be jellyfish. Watch me!”

Wading out a few feet into deeper, smoother water, he flung himself
face downward in the water.

The Brownies were surprised to see that although he didn’t move arms or
legs, he floated easily on the water’s surface.

“How do you breathe?” Connie asked when the life guard stood up again.

“Just hold it,” Barney instructed. “And lie perfectly still on the
water. It’s easy.”

One by one the Brownies tried to float like jellyfish. Connie and Jane
weren’t afraid to put their faces in the water. They learned to float
quite easily.

Sunny, Rosemary and Vevi didn’t like to get their feet off the sand
even when Barney held their hands and pulled them along.

“I don’t like being a jellyfish,” Vevi complained. “Whenever I put my
face in the water, I taste salt.”

“You’ll soon get used to it,” Barney told her. “Only the Brownies who
do as I say may ride my sea horse.”

Vevi wanted very much to ride the rubber steed, so she gritted her
teeth and ducked her head into the water. After the first time or two
it was easy.

“Lesson’s over for today,” Barney announced after the Brownies had
practiced for awhile. “Connie did the best so she may ride the horse
first.”

Connie tried to climb on the back of the rubber pony. She could not get
on until Barney lifted her up.

“Kick your feet,” he advised. “That will make the old boy go.”

Connie thrashed her legs back and forth and the horse moved with little
jerks through the water.

“This is fun!” she cried.

“Let me try next,” pleaded Vevi.

Just then a wave upset the horse, and Connie fell off. Barney picked
her up and sat Jane astride the rubber steed.

“I’m going to stay on a long while,” she boasted.

Even as she spoke, a wave struck the horse, and over she went!

One by one the Brownies took their turn. Vevi was the last one to ride.
When a wave upset the horse, she clung to his neck for a long while.
But finally she ran out of breath and had to let go.

“That was fine!” approved Barney. “You stayed under water a long time,
Vevi.”

Connie stood watching a swimmer far out near the pier. She was afraid
he might be in danger for she could see he was in very deep water.

“Oughtn’t you to save him?” she asked the lifeguard anxiously.

“That’s Raymond Curry, a guard at the hotel beach,” Barney told her.
“He’s an expert swimmer. Each day he swims from the hotel beach over
here, a distance of nearly a quarter of a mile.”

“My, he must have strong muscles!” exclaimed Rosemary. “Will we be able
to swim that far after we’ve had a few more lessons?”

“I’m afraid not,” Barney smiled. “Raymond has been swimming all his
life and has won several medals.”

The children watched the lifeguard for awhile.

He was swimming very smoothly away from Silver Beach. At times his head
would disappear from view. But a moment later, it would pop up again
between the waves.

“I wish we could take lessons from _him_,” remarked Vevi.

“Raymond doesn’t care too much about teaching youngsters,” Barney told
her. “Figures it’s too hard work. He has a son of his own only a little
older than you girls.”

The Brownies were starting to shiver, so Miss Gordon sent them to get
their beach robes.

“It’s time to dress now,” she said. “But before you race to the
showers, I must tell you of our plans for tomorrow.”

“Another swimming lesson?” pleaded Connie.

Miss Gordon nodded. “We’ll have an early beach breakfast,” she
promised. “I’ll tell the Brownies how the ocean got its salt.
Meanwhile, I want you all to watch the sea birds. Learn the name of at
least one and be prepared to report on its habits at the meeting.”

“I already have my bird!” cried Connie. “The gull.”

“And I’m going to tell about the sand piper,” added Rosemary.

“My report will be on the tern,” declared Sunny Davidson, quick as a
flash.

“I’ll tell about egrets,” announced Jane. “I wrote a paper on them last
year in school.”

Now all the girls except Vevi had named a bird on which they would
report.

“Maybe I’ll tell about a robin,” she said.

“A robin isn’t a sea bird,” Jane reminded her. “Anyway, we know all
about robins.”

“Vevi will think of a bird before our meeting tomorrow,” said Mrs.
Williams kindly.

“I’ll think of the best one of all,” Vevi boasted.

Miss Gordon reminded the girls again that it was time to dress. She
and Mrs. Williams began to gather up their sun glasses and other
possessions.

“What time is it?” inquired Connie’s mother.

Miss Gordon had slipped on her beach robe. She reached into a pocket
for the wrist watch she had left there.

A strange expression came over her face. The Brownies knew at once that
something was wrong.

“What is it?” questioned Vevi. “What’s happened?”

“I can’t find my wristwatch,” Miss Gordon murmured. “It’s gone!”



CHAPTER 2

A TURTLE RACE


At first, Miss Gordon and the Brownie Scouts could not believe that
anyone had stolen the wrist watch.

“I must have dropped it somewhere in the sand,” murmured the teacher.

Mrs. Williams and the Brownies looked carefully beneath the beach
umbrella. Miss Gordon removed her beach robe and shook it. But the
missing watch could not be found.

“I’m certain I put it in the pocket of this robe not a half hour ago,”
the teacher declared. “When I went in swimming I left it lying on the
sand. Oh, dear, I should have checked the watch at the bathhouse. I
kept it because I wanted to keep track of the time.”

“I can’t believe anyone would steal the watch,” insisted Connie’s
mother. “Certainly not while we were so close by.”

Miss Gordon declared that the robe never had been out of her sight.
“I’ll admit though,” she added, “that during the swimming lesson, I
seldom glanced in this direction.”

Connie, who had been poking about in the sand, suddenly shouted: “See
what I’ve found!”

The other Brownies thought that she had come upon Miss Gordon’s missing
watch. Instead, Connie pointed to a large footprint in the loose sand.

“It was made by a man with wet feet!” she exclaimed. “See, here’s
another--and another! Maybe the person who left these prints stole your
watch, Miss Gordon!”

“I think not,” replied the teacher, examining the prints. “These marks
plainly were made by a bather. See, the trail goes directly down to the
sea.”

“And one wouldn’t take a wrist watch into the water,” said Rosemary.
“That would be stupid.”

Just then Barney Fulsom, the lifeguard, came over to the group to ask
if anything were wrong. Miss Gordon told him about losing her watch.

“It’s been stolen, all right,” Barney said. “That thief gets bolder
every day.”

“Then you’ve had other articles stolen here?” inquired Mrs. Williams.

“We’ve had at least a dozen thefts reported during the summer. Several
cars have been broken into too, and a couple of cruisers. It’s giving
the beach a bad reputation.”

“Can’t police catch the thief?” asked Vevi. “Once when Connie and I
traveled with a circus we helped the circus people trap a pickpocket.”

“I wish the Brownies would help me catch this fellow,” replied Barney
soberly. “So far we haven’t a single clue.”

Mrs. Williams inquired how long the beach thefts had been going on.

“All summer,” the life guard answered. “Almost from the day I started
to work here. That’s what makes it look so bad for me. Folks are
starting to shun the cottage beach and use the one by the hotel.”

“The thefts never occur there?”

“None has been reported so far. Raymond Curry guards at the hotel
beach. He likes to twit me and make out that it’s my fault so many
things are taken here. He says I don’t keep close enough watch.”

“My loss certainly wasn’t your fault,” Miss Gordon said. “I never
should have left jewelry in the pocket of a beach robe. I blame only
myself.”

Barney told the teacher that it would be most unwise in the future
to leave any item of value on the beach. Lockers were provided in the
bathhouse for the safekeeping of all valuables.

“Your watch may turn up later,” he said. “I doubt it though.”

“Maybe the Brownies can catch that thief,” suggested Vevi. “We’ll all
keep watch for ’spicious characters.”

Miss Gordon felt her loss most keenly. However, she told the Brownies
they were not to worry about it.

“Scamper to the bath-house now and dress,” she advised them. “You’ll
have an hour or so to play before dinner time.”

Miss Gordon told the girls that if they liked they might use the free
period to watch the sea birds and learn their habits.

The teacher did not think to warn the Brownies that they were to stay
close to Starfish Cottage. Anyway, she knew all the girls could be
trusted to use good judgment.

Now none of the Brownies lived at Silver Beach. Instead, their homes
were at Rosedale, a town many miles away.

At Rosedale, Connie and Vevi were next door neighbors. Always they had
been close friends, enjoying many good times together even before both
had joined the Brownie troop.

Miss Gordon’s unit was a very active one. With her as the leader, the
girls had spent several exciting days at Snow Valley.

Another time, Vevi and Connie had been carried away with a circus.
However, that had been an accident.

On one occasion the Brownies had taken part in a wonderful cherry
festival. At Rosedale, the troop met either in private homes or their
own little tree house which had been built in the metropolitan park. If
you wonder how they ever acquired a tree house, read the book called,
“The Brownie Scouts and their Tree House.”

The Brownies now raced off to the bathhouse to dress.

Connie and Vevi dressed faster than the other girls. They both took
showers, washing salt water from their bathing suits. Then they put on
their pinchecked brown gingham uniforms with white stitching. On the
right side of each collar was a tiny Brownie pin.

Vevi gave her dark hair a quick brush and put on her brown felt
beanie. “Come on, slow poke,” she said to Connie. “Let’s walk up to
the hotel beach.”

The girls left their bathing suits with Connie’s mother and started off.

“Don’t be gone long,” Mrs. Williams called after them. “Dinner at six.”

Hand in hand, the two girls skipped along the beach. They kept watching
for birds but the only ones they saw were gulls.

Before long, Vevi and Connie came within view of the big Beach House
hotel. The waterfront was dotted with colored umbrellas and many
bathers were in the sea.

An even larger crowd had gathered in a huge circle on the lawn in front
of the hotel.

“Why, what are all those folks doing?” Vevi demanded, stopping short.

“Let’s find out,” proposed Connie.

The children approached the group of people, who were laughing and
having a good time. In the center of the circle were a number of
turtles. The creatures were crawling toward the rim which had been
chalked on the grass.

“It’s a turtle race!” cried Vevi. “Let’s watch!”

She and Connie crowded into the front line. A tiny turtle with a
yellow painted stripe across its back, was coming directly toward them.

“Come on, yellow!” shouted Vevi. She wanted the little turtle to win.

Instead of coming on toward the edge of the circle, it stopped short,
raising up its head to look and listen.

A spotted pond turtle went around it. Vevi and Connie thought it would
be the winner. But a moment later a snapper went around both turtles.
It was crawling very fast, much like a creeping baby.

Suddenly everyone began to shout. The snapper had crossed the chalk
line, winning the race.

Raymond Curry, the hotel life guard, had been conducting the race.

“No. 10 wins,” he announced in a loud voice. “Who owns him?”

A boy of ten years stepped forward to claim a prize for having the
winning turtle.

“Ten dollars for you, son,” said the lifeguard. “Nice going! Now
remember, folks, we’ll have another race here Saturday afternoon. The
hotel again will offer ten dollars to the winner, and a second prize
consisting of a free motor boat ride.” Vevi pinched Connie so hard
that it hurt. “Did you hear that?” she whispered.

“Ten dollars,” murmured Connie. “That’s a lot of money!”

“Maybe we could win it for our Brownie troop!”

“But we have no turtle.”

“There must be a way to get one,” Vevi declared. “Let’s ask.”

The girls sidled over toward the lifeguard. He was busy and did not act
as if he wanted to be bothered.

“Well, what is it?” he asked impatiently.

“Please,” said Connie politely, “may anyone enter the race?”

“That’s right.”

“We have no turtle,” Vevi informed him. “How do we get one?”

“You’ll have to hunt,” replied the lifeguard. He spoke rather crossly,
snapping out his words.

“But where does one find a turtle?”

“That’s up to you,” the guard returned, shrugging his powerful
shoulders. He walked away before the girls could ask another question.

“I don’t like him one bit,” said Vevi. “His name should be ‘Snapper.’
He snaps just like a turtle.”

Picking up a stick, she poked it at one of the turtles which was
crawling across the lawn. It huffed up and bit fiercely at the stick.

“Careful,” warned the man who owned the turtle. “That old boy is a
biter. The only safe way to handle him is to pick him up by the tail.”

“I don’t think I want a racing turtle,” said Connie, backing away.

“Only the snappers are cross,” the man explained. “They’re safe enough
if you handle them right. If you youngsters want to enter the race,
better get yourselves a pair of nice pond turtles. Most of them are
good-natured.”

“I don’t think Mr. Curry wants us to be in the race,” declared Vevi.
“He wouldn’t tell us anything about it.”

“Oh, Curry’s out of sorts this morning,” the man replied. “It seems his
son has run away again.”

Now Vevi and Connie had forgotten that Barney Fulsom had told them the
hotel lifeguard had a son. In fact, they did not know anything about
him, except that he was a fine swimmer.

“Curry and his son, Jamie, can’t seem to get along well,” the man went
on. “Every so often, the youngster chases off somewhere for a day or
two. It makes his father very angry.”

Vevi and Connie now understood why the lifeguard had spoken so crossly
to them. They thought though, that he might have taken time to tell
them more about the race.

“I’d give you youngsters this snapper, only I’m afraid you couldn’t
handle him,” continued the friendly man. “Better get a pond turtle.”

“But how do we find one?” asked Vevi eagerly.

“Try Cabell’s pond. That place should be thick with them.”

Without telling the children how to reach the pond, the man walked away
with his snapping turtle.

“I guess we may as well forget about the race,” sighed Connie, deeply
discouraged.

“And not win ten dollars for our troop? Why, Connie Williams!”

“I’d like to win a race. But how can we ever find Cabell’s pond?”

Vevi had sighted Barney Fulsom far down the beach near Starfish Cottage.

“Let’s ask _him_,” she proposed. “He’s much more friendly than Mr.
Curry. I’m sure he’ll tell us how to reach the turtle pond.”



CHAPTER 3

FOG


Barney Fulsom was raking papers and seaweed from the beach when Vevi
and Connie hurried up. They were quite breathless from hurrying so fast.

“Please, Mr. Lifeguard,” began Vevi, “can you tell us how to get a
turtle?”

Barney leaned on his rake, smiling down at the girls. “What kind of
turtle?” he inquired. “A huge one that lives in the sea?”

“Oh, no, we want a little turtle,” explained Connie, “One that won’t
bite. And one we can enter in the hotel beach race next Saturday.”

“If you want to win you probably will need a fast-moving snapper,” the
life guard replied. “You never can make a pet of it though. The same is
true of a pancake, musk or mud turtle. Other kinds of pond turtles are
more friendly.”

“How do we reach Cabell’s pond?” Vevi questioned eagerly.

Barney told the girls to take the main paved road leading away from the
beach. When they reached Bus Stop 23, they were to turn off onto a dirt
road and keep walking until they came to the pond.

“Is it far?” Connie asked.

“Less than a half mile. It’s a pretty walk through the trees. Once you
reach the pond, you’ll see plenty of turtles.”

Connie asked if the turtles were hard to catch.

“Well, there’s a trick to it,” the lifeguard answered. “Turtles are
fast in the water. If they see you coming, they’ll duck down to the
bottom of the pond. I’ll lend you my net and that should make it
easier.”

From the bathhouse Barney brought a long-handled net. He warned the
children to be very careful at the pond.

“The water is shallow there,” he said, “but if you should tumble in,
you’d ruin your clothes.”

“We won’t fall in,” laughed Vevi. “When we come back, we’ll have a lot
of racing turtles!”

Carrying the net, the two girls went first to Starfish Cottage to tell
Mrs. Williams where they were going. They could not find her or Miss
Gordon, so they left a note saying they would be gone for an hour.

“It looks sort of misty,” Connie said, glancing at the sky. “Do you
think we should go, Vevi?”

“Oh, we’ll be back in an hour,” Vevi replied. “Come on.”

They started off along the main highway. Cars whizzed past very fast.
One driver stopped for a moment, offering the girls a ride. Vevi and
Connie did not know him, so they turned down the offer.

Presently, they came to Stop 23 and the winding dirt road.

“It can’t be much farther now to the pond,” Vevi sighed. She was
feeling a little tired.

The road wound through low ground, in among the tall, whispering trees.
Soon Vevi and Connie found their shoes coated with dust. The air seemed
chilly too for the sun had disappeared under a thickening blanket of
clouds.

“Maybe we shouldn’t have come,” Connie said anxiously. “I didn’t think
it would be so far.”

“Neither did I,” admitted Vevi. “We can’t turn back now though. We must
be almost there.”

The children trudged on. And then, as they were becoming very
discouraged, they glimpsed an expanse of blue through the trees.

“There’s the pond!” cried Vevi. “We’ll get our turtle yet, Connie!”

Although small, the pond was very attractive. It was rimmed with trees
and shrubs and at one point had a tiny sand beach. An old boat was tied
to the end of a sagging dock.

Vevi and Connie walked out on the planks, taking care not to slip
through any of the yawning holes.

“Oh, look!” cried Connie. She stopped so suddenly that Vevi who was
directly behind, bumped into her.

“What do you see, Connie? A turtle?”

Connie shook her head. Without saying a word, she pointed toward a bird
with a striking feather pattern of orange-red, jet black and white.

Amazingly, the little fellow was digging and pushing in the mud,
turning over small stones in a search for food.

“Oh, I wish I knew the name of that bird,” Connie whispered. “I’d
report on it at our next Brownie Scout meeting.”

“It looks like a dove with bright orange legs and feet,” added Vevi in
awe.

Her words startled the bird. Frightened, it took wing.

In the air, the colors merged, giving the bird the appearance of a
flying marble cake.

“Oh, we must tell Miss Gordon about this place,” Connie declared
happily. “Why, it’s simply alive with birds!”

Overhead, gulls were winging in graceful flight. Sandpipers twinkled at
the water’s edge on their fast-moving, tiny black legs.

Vevi, however, was more interested in finding a turtle she could race.

“I don’t think this old pond has any turtles,” she complained. “I don’t
see a single one.”

“I do!” exclaimed Connie whose eyes were keen.

“Where, Connie?”

In her excitement, Vevi nearly fell off the dock.

“Out there in the middle of the pond. See that log!”

Vevi gazed where Connie pointed. Sure enough, a small spotted turtle
was perched on the log, drying his shell.

“Let’s get him!” she cried.

“How? We can’t wade out into the middle of the pond.”

Vevi went quickly to inspect the old boat. There were no oars. Besides,
several inches of water had seeped in over the floor boards.

“We can’t use that old boat either,” said Connie quickly. “It would be
too risky.”

“There must be other turtles in this pond,” Vevi declared. “We’ll find
’em.”

Leaving the sagging dock, the girls started around the pond. The water
was very still. Several times they saw bubbles rising to the surface.

“Turtles must be down there,” Vevi declared. “But I can’t see a single
one.”

The girls walked until they were tired. Finally they sat down on a
little bank to rest.

“It’s getting late,” said Connie, glancing at the murky sky. “We ought
to be starting back to the cottage.”

Vevi shivered, for the air had turned damp and chilly. She would not
admit, though, that she was the least bit cold.

“Let’s not go just yet,” she pleaded. “I want to catch a turtle.”

“So do I,” agreed Connie. “But since we aren’t having any luck--”

Vevi at that moment grasped her friend’s arm. She pointed toward a
clump of reeds and lily pads directly below where they sat.

A tiny head was peeping out of the water. For a minute, Vevi and Connie
both thought that the creature was a snake. Then, in the clear water,
they made out a round, curving body and four claws.

“A turtle!” whispered Vevi. “Watch me get him.”

“Be careful or you’ll scare him away,” Connie warned.

Carrying the net in her right hand, Vevi slipped down the grassy bank.

Just as she was about to reach out and scoop up the turtle, his head
disappeared from view.

“Oh, he’s gone!” she wailed. “How mean!”

A moment later, however, the turtle’s head popped up again farther from
shore.

“I’ll get him yet!” Vevi announced grimly.

She stripped off her shoes and stockings. Then, moving carefully so
that she would not splash, she stole toward the turtle.

“Now!” whispered Connie.

Vevi made a quick sweep with the fish net. She felt something heavy hit
the circular rim.

“I’ve got him!” she declared triumphantly.

“Where?” demanded Connie.

Vevi had raised the net. The turtle had not been trapped.

“I’ll get him next time!” Vevi said crossly. “He’ll stick his old head
up in a minute and then I’ll net him.”

Patiently, the girls waited. But the minutes went by and not a glimpse
of the turtle did they obtain.

Vevi began to feel very chilly without her shoes and stockings.

“We can’t wait any longer,” Connie told her. “It’s late and the sky
looks funny.”

“Sort of smoky,” Vevi agreed.

Wisps of fog were filtering in over the treetops. The girls could feel
dampness everywhere.

“Fog is coming in from the ocean,” Connie said uneasily. “We must leave
right away.”

Vevi began to pull on her shoes and stockings. She had lost interest
in turtles. The heavy mist went through her light clothing making her
quite uncomfortable.

“It won’t take us long to get back to Starfish Cottage,” she declared.
“My, I’m hungry!”

The girls walked very fast along the dirt road. However, before they
had gone far, Vevi stopped short. A look of dismay came over her
freckled face.

“Oh, Connie,” she wailed. “I left the fish net lying on the shore!
What’ll we do?”

“We’ll have to go back,” Connie decided. “Barney wouldn’t like it if we
lost his net. Oh, Vevi, why didn’t you think about it?”

“I--I just didn’t. Connie, you wait here. I’ll get the net. It won’t
take me long, if I run.”

“All right, but hurry,” Connie agreed. “Fog is coming in fast. I’m cold
already.”

Leaving her friend to wait along the roadside, Vevi hurried back to
the pond. It took her a long while to get the net. By the time she
returned, mist was swirling everywhere.

“It took you an age,” Connie said.

“I hurried as fast as I could,” Vevi puffed.

Hand in hand, the girls hastened on down the road. Fog was settling
everywhere, blotting out all but the closest trees.

“It’s like being in a forest fire--only colder,” Vevi murmured
uneasily. “Oh, Connie, what if we couldn’t find our way home?”

Connie had been afraid of the same thing. But she spoke bravely.

“We’ll come to the main road any minute now,” she said to encourage
Vevi. “After that it will be easy. We’re not far from Starfish Cottage.”

The dirt road dipped down into a small, winding valley. Here the fog
had gathered even heavier. Hurrying along, the girls could see only a
few yards in front of them.

Presently, to their relief, they saw a ribbon of dark pavement ahead.

“The highway!” Connie exclaimed. “Well be all right now.”

At the exit to the dirt road, the girls paused. Landmarks did not look
familiar.

“Do we turn right or left?” Connie asked in perplexity. “Which way is
toward Starfish Cottage?”

“I remember passing a large white house,” Vevi recalled. “We should be
able to see it from here.”

“The trouble is we can’t see anything in this fog, Vevi. Nothing looks
right.”

Connie’s voice quavered. Cold and tired, she longed to be snug at
Starfish Cottage. Even now, the other Brownies would be preparing for a
warm supper.

“I guess we turn left,” Vevi said after a moment.

“Left? Why, I’m sure the ocean is the other way.”

Connie and Vevi stared at each other, truly alarmed.

The fog was settling about them like a damp rain cloak. Nothing looked
familiar.

“We can’t be far from home,” Connie murmured. “But this mist is getting
worse.”

“And we’re lost,” Vevi added in a frightened voice. “Oh, Connie,
what’ll we do?”



CHAPTER 4

THE SHIP HOUSE


Now Connie was as worried as she could be, but she tried not to show
it. She remembered that a Brownie Scout always must be calm in an
emergency.

“We can’t really be lost,” she told the frightened Vevi. “Not as long
as we stay on the main road.”

“We can turn the wrong direction though,” Vevi insisted. “If we do,
we’ll be hours getting home.”

With the mist settling more closely about them, the girls stood for a
moment trying to get their bearings.

In either direction, the road ahead was like a gray, dim tunnel.

“Listen!” commanded Vevi. “What was that?”

She had heard a strange, deep-throated sound which seemed to come from
a long distance away.

“The fog horn out on the bay!” Connie exclaimed. “That means it’s
really getting bad. Ships are being warned so they won’t run into the
rocks along shore.”

The girls could not decide which direction to walk. Connie thought they
should go one way, while Vevi was in favor of the other.

As they debated, Connie heard a car coming from far up the road.

“Oh, we can stop the driver and ask directions!” she exclaimed, greatly
relieved. “Maybe too, we can catch a ride to Starfish Cottage.”

Soon the children caught a glimpse of headlights boring through the
mist.

Stepping out into the roadway, Connie and Vevi shouted for the driver
to stop. In the thick fog they scarcely could be seen. Their voices
apparently did not carry.

Without glancing toward the girls, the driver of the car went on.
A moment later the red taillight of his automobile had completely
vanished.

Vevi and Connie were too discouraged to say a word. They stood at the
roadside a moment, cold and miserable.

“Another car will come along in a minute,” Connie said at last.

Huddling together, the girls waited and waited. Finally, because they
didn’t know what else to do, they started walking along the paved road.
To find their way, they had to watch closely lest they wander off the
pavement.

“Connie, I’m sure we didn’t come this way,” Vevi murmured after they
had gone a short distance. “Didn’t we pass a house just before we
turned off onto the dirt road?”

“I think so, Vevi. I’m not sure. We didn’t pay enough attention.”

The girls trudged over a little hill. Ahead, the fog seemed a trifle
lighter. Instead of being dense and thick, it rolled in clouds.

“I think I see something over there to the right,” Vevi declared
hopefully. “It looks like a house!”

Soft wisps of mist enfolded the shadowy building, giving it an eerie,
almost ghostly appearance.

“It’s a house of some sort,” Connie admitted. “But I don’t see any
light. It--it doesn’t look lived in, Vevi.”

“Let’s find out, Connie.”

Hand in hand, the girls left the pavement and stumbled up a gravel
path. The fog was lighter and they could trace the outline of a low,
rambling shingle and timber building.

“Why, it’s not a house at all!” Connie exclaimed.

“It’s a little ship! But how could a ship be here on dry land?”

Vevi squeezed her friend’s hand nervously. Through the mist the
building had a most unreal appearance. Was her imagination playing
tricks?

“Pinch me, Connie,” she whispered.

Connie obeyed, nipping Vevi’s arm so hard she squealed.

“It’s real, all right,” Vevi said, satisfied that she was wide awake.

Cautiously, the girls inched closer. Now they could see that the
building really was a house. It had been built though, to resemble an
old ship.

The windows were round like portholes. Just inside a picket fence stood
a huge anchor, painted white. An old ship’s lantern dangled by the
cottage door. Just above it was a battered sign.

Moving in close, the children were able to read the lettering on the
carved piece of board. It said: “WELCOME.”

“Friendly people must live here,” declared Vevi, feeling less afraid.

Connie looked carefully about the yard. Weeds had grown very high and
flower beds were untended.

“This old ship house looks deserted to me,” she said in awe. “Another
thing--I’m sure we never came this way before, Vevi.”

“That’s so. We must have turned the wrong direction when we left the
dirt road. What’ll we do?”

“Let’s knock,” Connie suggested. “Someone might live here, but I don’t
think so.”

The front door was made of heavy wood and appeared to have been removed
bodily from an old sea vessel. Door knob and hinges were of iron.

Raising her hand to knock, Connie made a startling discovery.

“Why, the door’s unlocked!” she exclaimed. “See, it’s partly open!”

Vevi saw that Connie was right. The door stood slightly ajar.

“Then someone must live here after all!” she cried.

Connie knocked twice and waited. The girls thought they heard a flurry
of footsteps inside. But no one came to let them in.

“Try again, Connie.”

Once more Connie rapped on the door, this time so hard that it opened a
trifle wider. But still no one came.

“Someone must live here,” Vevi reasoned. “Otherwise, the door wouldn’t
be unlocked. Unless the place is owned by a ghost,” she added with a
nervous giggle.

Connie rapped twice more. “It’s no use,” she said at last.

“But I’m sure I heard someone inside, Connie. Let’s peek in for a
second.”

“I don’t think we should, Vevi.”

“Why not?” her companion argued. “The sign says ‘Welcome.’ That must
mean we’re to walk right in if no one answers.”

“I hate to, Vevi.”

“Well, I’m going to do it,” Vevi announced boldly.

Before Connie could stop her, she gave the door a little push with her
foot. It swung back with a loud, screeching sound.

“Just like on a radio serial,” Vevi giggled. “Come on! Who’s afraid?
Not I!”

Connie followed her friend into the little ship house. In the front
hallway, they stood very still, listening.

Not a whisper of sound disturbed the quiet. Yet Connie had a dreadful
feeling that they were not alone in the house.

“Is--is anyone here?” she called.

Her voice sounded so strange and weak that she scarcely recognized it
as her own.

“No one is home,” Vevi declared, looking around. “I don’t think anyone
has lived here for a long, long while. Everything’s so dusty.”

“But it’s a darling place,” Connie said, becoming a trifle excited.
“Just like a ship inside. Or a club house!”

The girls had tiptoed from the hallway to a main living room.

There were no rugs on the floor or curtains at the porthole windows.
The furniture was all built into the walls. At one end of the long room
there were two double-deck bunks.

“Someone must live here!” cried Connie. “At least that lower bunk has
been slept in. See, the blanket is mussed!”

A desk had been built into the opposite wall. Connie went over to
inspect it.

Almost at once she came upon a dusty old Bible. She turned slowly
through the yellowing pages. Toward the back of the huge book, her
exploring fingers encountered a photograph.

“It’s a picture of a young man,” she informed Vevi. “There’s writing on
the back of it.”

Vevi quickly crossed the room to see what Connie had found. Taking the
picture to the window where a little light filtered through, they were
able to make out the writing. Connie read it aloud.

“Jerry R. Tarwell, 19, lost at sea, Dec. 25, 1934.”

“Why, that was on Christmas Day,” Vevi said, staring at the picture.
“He’s nice looking.”

“This old Bible hasn’t been opened in a long while,” Connie added,
brushing dust from her hands. “It’s queer.”

“What is, Connie?”

“Why everything. This ship house. The open door. This picture. This
bunk that’s been slept in.”

“That part is the queerest of all, Connie. This house looks deserted,
and yet someone appears to be living here. You don’t suppose--”

“A ghost?” Connie interposed with a quick laugh. “Don’t be silly, Vevi.
You know there aren’t any such things.”

“I know, but I was sure I heard footsteps--”

Vevi broke off, listening hard.

“What was that?” she whispered.

“I--I didn’t hear anything. Yet, I do too!”

Distinctly, both girls could hear a tiptoeing sound. They were certain
someone was moving about in the adjoining room.

“I’m scared,” Vevi whispered. “Let’s get out of here!”

Connie nodded. Clinging together, she and Vevi started toward the
hallway.

The corridor connected with another room, apparently a kitchen. But the
girls had no desire to explore further. Their one thought was to leave
this strange old house and be on their way.

As they reached the doorway opening into the hall, they stopped short.

At the outside door they saw the flash of clothing. A boy in blue jeans
and a rough, cloth jacket turned toward them in a fleeting instant. He
uttered a choked cry as if sharing their fright.

Then, he darted through the door and was gone.

“Wait!” Connie called impulsively. “Don’t run away!”

“We want to find out how to get to Starfish Cottage!” Vevi shouted.
“Wait!”

But the boy did not turn back. Leaving the door wide open, he fled into
the fog and quickly was swallowed by the gray mist.



CHAPTER 5

AN OLD SEA CAPTAIN


Though Vevi and Connie called after the boy several times, he did not
return.

“Do you think he was real?” Vevi asked anxiously. “We didn’t imagine we
saw him?”

“Of course not,” replied Connie. “He was real enough.”

“But why did he run away?”

“We must have frightened him, Vevi. Maybe he had no right to be inside
this little house. So when we came in, he waited for a chance to sneak
away without being seen.”

“Whoever he was, I wish he’d waited, Connie. Maybe he could have told
us how to get to Starfish Cottage.”

Feeling that they had no more right to be in the little ship cottage
than the runaway boy, the girls decided to leave. Connie took care to
close the front door firmly behind them.

“I wish we knew who owns this cute little place,” she remarked.
“Perhaps the owner doesn’t know that the door is unlocked.”

The fog horn was tooting again as the two girls picked their way down
the path. Vevi shivered, for the damp air had chilled her through.

“What’ll we do now?” she asked in a discouraged voice. “I can’t even
see the main road.”

“Listen!” Connie commanded suddenly.

Vevi stopped short. For a minute she thought her friend wanted her to
listen to the wail of the fog horn. Then, she too heard the sound that
Connie’s keen ears had detected--a crunch, crunch, crunch of gravel.

“Someone’s coming,” whispered Connie.

The girls huddled motionless by the trunk of a huge hard maple, peering
into the mist. Gradually they made out a shadowy, moving figure.

“A man,” whispered Vevi, half afraid.

Through the mist, the figure appeared very large, almost a giant.

The man was very close to the little girls before he saw them. He
pulled up quickly, exclaiming with a hearty laugh:

“Avast, there! Nearly ran you down in this pea-soup fog, didn’t I?”

The elderly man had such a friendly voice that Connie and Vevi lost all
fear. He was tall, with broad, slightly stooped shoulders.

Walking seemed hard for him, for he carried a stout cane. Perched
jauntily atop his head was a seaman’s cap.

“Aren’t you young ladies afraid to be walking alone in this dense fog?”
he asked with concern. “You might get lost.”

“We are already.” Connie gravely informed him.

“We’re trying to get back to Starfish Cottage,” added Vevi. “We don’t
know which way to go. Please help us.”

“Lost, eh?” chuckled the friendly old seaman. “This fog put me in
mind o’ the day we were running from Halifax to New York on the _John
Horner_. The fog was so thick you could have cut it with a knife.”

“Are you a sea captain?” Connie asked. She had noticed that the old man
wore a uniform with gold braid.

“Aye,” the stranger chuckled. “An old sea dog that’s coiled up his
cables. I’ve been in dry dock so many years all my hinges are rusty.”

“Don’t you sail any more?” asked Vevi.

“Haven’t set foot on a deck since my son was lost at sea. I’m an old
salt that’s quit the sea--swallowed the anchor, so to speak. But what
were you saying about looking for a starfish?”

“Not a fish--a cottage by that name,” explained Connie.

“Starfish Cottage?” the old man repeated. “Never heard of it, but it
must be one of those little places along the beach.”

“We can’t even find the beach,” Vevi declared. “Everything is all mixed
up and nothing looks right.”

“Now don’t you fret,” soothed the captain. “Just grab my hand, and I’ll
steer you through the shoals. We’ll be at Starfish Cottage before you
can say Davey Jones Locker.”

Vevi and Connie felt quite safe now that they were with the captain.
They fell into step on either side. The captain noticed that Vevi was
shivering and made her put on his warm jacket. After that she felt very
comfortable.

Tapping along the gravel walk with his cane, the captain led the
Brownies to the paved highway.

“Now, we could follow this road to the beach,” he said. “But I know a
shorter way that cuts off a quarter of the distance.”

The captain walked along the pavement only a short distance. Presently
he chose a path which wound in between clumps of tall trees. Vevi and
Connie never would have known that it was there. Their guide, however,
seemed familiar with every inch of the trail.

“We’ll be at Starfish Cottage quick as the wind,” he encouraged the
girls. “Now tell me how it was that you lost your way.”

Trudging along beside the old seaman, Vevi related how she and Connie
had started for the pond to find a racing turtle. She told also of
coming to the strange ship cottage and of seeing a boy run out of the
dwelling.

“The door was open?” The captain seemed quite disturbed. “Are you sure?”

“Oh, yes,” insisted Vevi. “Connie saw him too. We shouted to him to
wait, but he wouldn’t.”

“Now how do you suppose that door came open?” the captain muttered,
talking to himself. “I must look into it right away.”

The path had become very steep. Vevi and Connie had to step carefully
not to slide and fall.

“Doesn’t anyone live at the little ship house?” Vevi asked as she
paused an instant to catch her breath.

“Not any more.”

“It’s such a darling little house,” sighed Connie. “I wish the Brownie
Scouts could hold meetings there.”

“And who are the Brownie Scouts?” inquired the old captain.

Vevi and Connie told him about the Rosedale Troop and of the good times
they were having at the beach.

“We have Brownie songs and we do useful things,” Connie explained
proudly. “We have a secret slogan too--its initials are HOP.”

Now Vevi and Connie both knew that the initials HOP stood for “Help
Other People.” Because it was a secret, they could not tell the captain.

“I’ll show you the Brownie salute,” Connie offered. “It’s like this.”

She raised her right hand smartly to the temple, the first two fingers
straight. The ring finger and little finger were held down by the thumb.

“The two straight fingers stand for the two parts of the Brownie
Promise,” Vevi told the captain. “Want to hear the Promise?”

The captain said he did, so she recited it.

“‘I promise to do my best to love God and my country, to help other
people every day, especially those at home.’”

The captain said it was a very nice promise indeed. He reminded the
girls that they had told him almost everything about themselves except
their names.

“I’m Vevi McGuire, and this is Connie Williams. At Rosedale we live
next door to each other.”

“Now tell us _your_ name,” urged Connie.

“Why, I’m Cap’n Tarwell. Just an old sea dog that’s lost his bite. I
like to walk in the fog.”

“Tarwell?” Connie repeated the name thoughtfully. “Why, that same name
was in the old Bible at the ship cabin.”

“Jerry R. Tarwell,” recalled Vevi. “He died at sea.”

She wanted to ask the old captain if he were related to the young man
mentioned in the Bible. From the odd way he looked, she thought he must
know all about the ship cottage.

Before she could ask a question however, they came within the sound of
the breakers.

“Hear ’em roar?” asked the captain, pausing to listen. “We’re almost at
the beach now, and the fog’s lifting a bit. By tomorrow it’ll burn off
and we’ll have a nice day.”

A little farther on, Captain Tarwell showed the girls a group of
cottages through the mist.

“Oh, I know where I am now!” Connie cried. “I can see Starfish Cottage
from here!”

Even though the girls were sure they would not lose their way again,
Captain Tarwell walked with them to the cottage.

Connie’s mother, Miss Gordon, and all the Brownies had gathered on the
porch. They were ready to start off in search of the two missing girls.

“Oh, here you are!” Mrs. Williams exclaimed as Connie and Vevi dashed
up the steps. “We’ve been so worried.”

“The fog came in so fast,” added Miss Gordon. “I couldn’t find you
anywhere.”

Feeling ashamed to have caused so much trouble, Connie and Vevi
explained once more about their search for a racing turtle. Then they
introduced Captain Tarwell and told how he had brought them safely to
the beach.

“’Twas nothing,” insisted the captain when Mrs. Williams and Miss
Gordon tried to thank him. “The children weren’t lost really. The fog
only confused them.”

Captain Tarwell turned to leave. Vevi took off the jacket he had given
her and politely returned it.

“So you’d like to have a racing turtle?” the old man asked.

“Oh, yes!”

“Tell you what! If your troop leader says the word, I’ll take all the
Brownies to the pond to hunt for turtles. Blast my barnacles, I will!”

“Oh, may we go?” cried Vevi.

“Tomorrow?” demanded Connie.

Miss Gordon laughed and said she would think the matter over.

That night, the Brownies sat around a fire at Starfish Cottage, singing
songs and telling stories.

The walls fairly rocked as the girls warbled:

  “We’re the Brownies, here’s our aim,
   Lend a hand and play the game!”

Everyone plied Vevi and Connie with questions about their adventure in
the fog. They tried very hard to describe the strange little house they
had discovered beside the road.

“I never heard of a house built like a ship!” exclaimed Rosemary in awe.

“You say no one appeared to be living there, and yet the door was
open!” added Jane.

“And a boy ran out while you were there!” commented Sunny Davidson.
“Maybe you imagined it.”

Vevi and Connie became indignant at such a suggestion.

“We did not imagine it!” they declared together. “The captain was real
enough, wasn’t he?”

“Oh, he was real,” Jane agreed with a shrug. “But he didn’t say
anything about a little ship house. Fog, they say, gives rise to
strange fancies.”

Now Vevi and Connie were very annoyed. Jane, they felt, was putting
on airs. She wanted the other Brownies to believe that they had been
confused.

“Another thing,” Jane went on, “it seems funny to me that Captain
Tarwell would have the same name as the one written in the Bible.”

“Well, it’s so!” Vevi declared. “At least the last name was the same.
You heard him tell Mrs. Williams he was Captain Tarwell.”

“Oh, yes,” agreed Jane. She flashed a very wise smile. “But did anyone
hear him mention a little house?”

“One with ‘Welcome’ over the door?” giggled Sunny.

“He didn’t have a chance,” retorted Vevi hotly.

“Oh, yes, he did,” insisted Jane. “He was here quite a while. You
mentioned the little house once, Vevi, and he gave you a very odd look.
I think he knew you had imagined the whole thing!”

“Oh,” gasped Vevi. “Connie and I will prove to you that the little
house is as real as Starfish Cottage!”

“And that it’s built to look like a ship,” added Connie.

“How?”

“We’ll take you there,” Connie offered. “We’ll take all the Brownies.
That is, if Miss Gordon says we may.”

The Brownie Scout leader, who had been listening to the heated debate,
smiled and nodded.

“What better way to settle the question?” she laughed. “As soon as the
fog disappears, we’ll all go together to see what we can learn.”



CHAPTER 6

HOUSE IN THE MIST


Wispy fog still hung over Silver Beach when Connie and Vevi awoke next
morning.

The mist, though, had started to burn off by the time they had finished
breakfast. Eagerly they ran next door to see how many Brownies were
awake at Oriole Cottage.

“Let’s start for the little ship house right away!” urged Vevi,
bursting in upon the group.

However, Miss Gordon and Mrs. Williams had made other plans. A picnic
had been scheduled at the hotel beach.

Observing Vevi’s disappointment at the announcement, Miss Gordon
promised her that later in the day they would try to hike to the
cottage.

Quickly the girls made their own beds and helped with the dishes.
Before they were through, Miss Gordon and Mrs. Williams had the lunches
packed.

By the time the Brownies reached the hotel beach the sun was shining
quite bravely. Nevertheless, Miss Gordon decided it was a little too
cold for comfortable swimming.

“We’ll have our bird session first,” she announced. “Who will make the
first report?”

Sunny Davidson wanted to be the first to offer her talk. That was
because she had switched from a tern to a gull. She was afraid Connie
would get ahead of her if she delayed the report.

“I’m going to tell about the herring gull,” she announced quickly. “He
sits on piers, rocks and buoys when he isn’t flying around looking for
food. He’s a noisy bird too.”

“We knew all that before,” said Vevi. She was a bit rude because she
had wanted to tell about a gull herself.

“Sometimes one sees brown or speckled gulls,” went on Sunny, paying no
attention to Vevi. “They’re the young gulls. When they become adults
they turn white. Some of them have a little gray, black or blue in
their plumage.”

“And did you notice the color of the gull’s legs?” questioned Miss
Gordon. “That is most important in identifying a herring gull.”

Sunny had failed to notice the gull’s legs. But at that moment one of
the big fat birds flew lazily overhead. “Why, they’re real pale!”
Sunny exclaimed. “Sort of flesh colored.”

“That’s exactly right,” approved the Brownie Scout leader. “Your report
was excellent, Sunny. I’ll reward you by giving you a few crumbs to
toss out on the water.”

Sunny broke up a slice of bread the teacher gave her. She tossed
several of the small pieces far out into the waves.

The next instant the Brownies heard a loud “squawk, squawk.” Down dived
the big white gull, flapping its wings as it seized the bread.

“Oh, let me throw the next piece!” pleaded Vevi.

Miss Gordon gave her a chunk which she hurled into the waves. This
time, not one gull, but two came after the food.

The loud squawking of the birds also brought Raymond Curry, the life
guard.

“You’re not supposed to feed the gulls here,” he scolded the children.

“It was my fault for I gave them the bread,” Miss Gordon apologized.
“I’m very sorry.”

The Brownies gathered in a semi-circle again to resume their bird talks.

Jane’s turn came next. She told about the tern, describing it as one
of the most graceful birds she had ever seen.

“They look like large black-capped swallows,” she told the Brownies.
“When they fish, they’re faster than a gull, plunging head-first into
the water.”

Jane went on to describe the common type tern as a white bird with an
orange-red bill. It was much smaller and thinner than the average gull.

Connie told about the turnstone she and Vevi had seen at the pond.
Rosemary gave a long talk on the habits of the spotted sandpiper.

“Now it’s your turn, Vevi,” said Miss Gordon. “What bird will you tell
us about?”

Vevi had made no preparation for the talk. She thought very fast.

“I’ll tell about a blackbird,” she announced.

The other Brownies hooted.

“A blackbird isn’t a water bird,” Jane said, flipping her long braids.
“I guess you’ve been paying too much attention to turtles and little
houses to think of the assignment.”

“No such thing,” Vevi defended herself. “I just didn’t have time,
that’s all.”

“It really doesn’t matter,” said Miss Gordon quickly. “Vevi can make
her report at our next beach meeting. At any rate, I had planned today
to tell you how the ocean got its salt.”

“Vevi’s a tail-ender, all the same,” Jane teased. “I’ll bet she won’t
have a report at the next meeting either.”

“You just wait and see!” Vevi retorted.

Miss Gordon began to tell the girls about the ocean. The Atlantic, she
said, had more salt than most large bodies of water.

“Rivers are largely responsible,” she went on. “Can anyone guess why?”

No one could answer so Miss Gordon told the girls that each year the
rivers carried large quantities of soluble mineral matter to the sea.

“Salt doesn’t dissolve easily. Therefore, each year the amount in the
ocean keeps increasing.”

“Some day will the entire ocean be a big bed of salt?” asked Rosemary
anxiously.

“No, the rivers never could carry that much,” Miss Gordon smiled.

Jane, who had noticed a jellyfish on the beach that morning, asked the
teacher to tell about them.

“Their bodies consist of a jelly-like substance,” Miss Gordon
explained. “They have no skeleton. Some types have stinging cells.” “I
know because I stepped on one!” cried Connie. “How do they move through
the water when they have no legs or fins?”

“By muscular tissue action. Oh, that reminds me! We’re to have a
jellyfish hunt this morning.”

Jane looked troubled. “I don’t like jellyfish,” she announced. “I
wouldn’t pick up one for anything in the world.”

“Neither would I,” shuddered Sunny. “I’d rather look for sand dollars.”

“Wait until you see our jellyfish,” laughed Miss Gordon.

Now, unknown to the Brownie Scouts, she and Connie’s mother had filled
balloons with water, tying them securely with string. The balloons were
every color of the rainbow. After Miss Gordon had dropped them into the
shallow water, they did gleam like real jellyfish.

“A prize to the Brownie who finds the most jellyfish!” Miss Gordon
spurred the girls on.

With shouts of laughter, the Brownies dashed into the water. The waves
were tossing the jellyfish about, and it wasn’t easy to find them.

Rosemary got her hands on the first one, a yellow balloon. But when she
lifted it out of the water, it slipped from her fingers. A wave swept
it toward Jane, who grabbed it and held on.

“It’s my jellyfish!” she cried.

Vevi managed to get a balloon next and then Connie was able to seize
one. In getting it though, she pierced the rubber with her fingernail.
The water oozed out and she held only a flat piece of rubber.

“Connie’s got an old dead jellyfish!” Sunny Davidson teased. “Does that
count, Miss Gordon?”

Before the teacher could answer, the Brownies saw Raymond Curry,
the life guard striding down the sand. He looked very grim, as if
displeased.

“What goes on here?” he demanded of the children.

“We’re hunting jellyfish,” Jane informed him. “I’m the leader because I
just found another! That makes me two!”

“Hunting jellyfish!” the lifeguard retorted. “Littering up the beach,
you mean. I don’t allow you to toss wet balloons around. We don’t
permit picnics here either.”

Miss Gordon and Mrs. Williams had come up by this time. They apologized
to the guard, assuring him that they would pick up all the scattered
balloons. “We didn’t know about the rule against picnics,” Mrs.
Williams added. “We’ve been having them at the cottage beach. Barney
Fulsom, the guard there, never objected.”

“Well, Barney doesn’t care if his beach looks like a garbage dump,” the
hotel guard replied. “We’re more particular here.”

Miss Gordon, Mrs. Williams and the Brownies thought Raymond Curry was
being most unfair. They were willing to obey all the rules. However,
they had not scattered balloons or paper plates.

“Mr. Fulsom’s beach is nice,” Vevi said. “It’s as clean as this one!”

Mrs. Williams gave her a quick glance, so Vevi did not say any more.
But she and all the other girls were provoked that the hotel guard had
spoiled their morning’s fun.

“Who wins the prize?” Jane asked as they began gathering up their
belongings.

“I guess you do,” Miss Gordon said. From her beach kit, she removed a
curious object and gave it to Jane.

“Oh, it’s a starfish!” Jane cried in delight.

“I found it on the beach this morning,” Miss Gordon said. “If we have a
little exhibition of shells and sea animals, you can include it.”

“Oh, I shall!” Jane’s eyes shone. “But after the exhibition, is it mine
to keep?”

The Brownie leader assured her that it was.

“Where will we have our exhibition?” Vevi inquired as the girls trudged
back to the cottage beach.

“We’ll find a place,” Miss Gordon promised.

Vevi had been thinking about the little ship cottage. She remarked that
it would be nice to have the exhibition there.

“I don’t believe you and Connie ever saw such a place!” Jane challenged
again.

“We did too!” Vevi retorted. “What’s more, we’ll prove it, if Miss
Gordon will let us!”

The girls began to tease the Brownie leader to take them on the
promised hike into the hills.

“This morning?” she asked dubiously.

“Just as soon as we’ve eaten our lunch,” Rosemary pleaded.

The teacher allowed herself to be persuaded. At the cottage beach, the
children spread out the lunch. After the meal, they carefully gathered
up all the paper plates, disposing of them in a trash can.

“I like this beach much better than the one at the hotel,” Vevi
announced. “And I like Barney better than Mr. Curry too!”

All the Brownies said they felt the same way.

“I’m sure Mr. Curry doesn’t mean to be unkind,” Mrs. Williams declared.
“He’s had trouble with his son, I understand. The boy ran away for a
day or so. I believe he came back again though.”

Lunch over, the Brownies dressed in hiking clothes and stout shoes.
With Vevi and Connie leading the party, they all set off at a brisk
pace along the paved highway.

“Wouldn’t it be dreadful if we couldn’t find the little house again?”
Vevi whispered to Connie. “We’d never live it down!”

“Without the mist, everything looks different,” Connie replied uneasily.

Soon the girls came to the dirt road which turned off toward the pond.

Vevi and Connie paused, uncertain which way to go.

“I think we keep on walking straight down the highway,” Connie decided
at last.

“Don’t you know?” demanded Jane, who had overheard. “I’m not sure,”
Connie admitted. “In the fog, we couldn’t tell where we were walking.”

She and Vevi went on, looking hard along both sides of the road. Tall
trees loomed as far ahead as they could see.

“We may as well turn back,” Jane said impatiently. “I guess this proves
who was right.”

“We haven’t walked far yet,” Miss Gordon remarked. “Besides, I think I
see something that looks like a house set back among the trees on the
left hand side of the road.”

“That’s it!” cried Vevi. “The little ship house!”

The Brownies hadn’t believed that the cottage could be real. Now that
they saw it was, they became very excited.

With Vevi and Connie leading the way, they all started to run up the
gravel path. Miss Gordon and Mrs. Williams were hard pressed to keep up
with the girls.

“Now who was right?” Vevi demanded of the crestfallen Jane.

“Oh, I guess the cottage is real enough,” Jane admitted grudgingly. “I
was only teasing.”

“It looks as if it had come from the pages of a picture book!” declared
Sunny. “How wonderful if no one owns it! Then we could use the place
for our shell exhibitions.”

“And sleep here overnight,” Connie added. “It has bunks and everything.”

“Wait until you see the inside!” Vevi laughed.

Eager to show the other Brownies, she raced on ahead.

At the entrance, she halted suddenly. The door remained closed as she
and Connie had left it the previous afternoon.

But there had been a change.

Across the crack of the door had been placed a metal bar. With a
sinking heart, Vevi realized she never would be able to show the
Brownies the inside of the cottage. For attached to the metal bar was a
huge padlock which had been snapped shut.



CHAPTER 7

THE LOCKED DOOR


“Why, it’s locked!” Vevi exclaimed, rattling the padlock. “We can’t get
in.”

“The owner must have been here since yesterday,” agreed Connie. She too
was disappointed. “He must have found the door open and locked it.”

The Brownies circled the little house several times, peeping through
the porthole windows. Plainly, the cottage was deserted.

“This place would be ideal for our shell exhibition,” declared
Rosemary. “And what grand cook-outs we could have here!”

Miss Gordon reminded the Brownies that the cottage did not belong to
them.

“Since we don’t even know the owner, we may as well forget it,” she
advised.

The Brownies did not want to forget the ship cottage. Reluctant to
leave, they wandered about the grounds for a while. The back yard
sloped down to the cliffs which overlooked the ocean.

“Why, one can see Starfish Cottage from here!” exclaimed Connie.

“The beach too, and the docks,” agreed Sunny. “Looking down from here
is like being in an airplane.”

The little girl never had been in one. She imagined though that scenery
would look much the same if one were high in the sky.

After the girls had left the cliff, Vevi pleaded with Miss Gordon to
let the Brownies hike on to Cabell’s pond.

“Turtles?” asked the teacher, smiling.

“To see the birds,” Vevi answered quickly.

Both Miss Gordon and Mrs. Williams thought the hike would be worth
while. The matter was put to a vote. Everyone was in favor of making
the trip on to the pond.

Vevi and Connie knew the way well now that there was no fog to confuse
them. Without once hesitating, they led the troop to the tiny body of
water off the winding, dirt road.

“Oh, someone’s here ahead of us!” exclaimed Vevi.

A boatman was fishing in the center of the pond. Apparently, he was
having no luck. At any rate, upon seeing the children, he rowed in.

“Catch anything?” Vevi demanded, running up to peer into the bottom of
the boat.

“Nothing except turtles,” the fisherman replied in disgust. “They’re a
nuisance in this pond. Always taking your bait.”

“I wish I could catch one,” Vevi said quickly. “I’d give anything in
the world if I could. You know what I’d do with him? I’d race him at
the hotel beach!”

The fisherman smiled. He seemed to like Vevi for after asking her
several questions about the race, he said:

“It’s easy enough to get a turtle. The trick when you’re fishing at
this pond, is not to get one. Jump into my boat and we’ll have a turtle
in nothing flat.”

Vevi made a scramble for the boat and so did all the other Brownies.
The fisherman had to tell them to get out again.

“I can’t take you all,” he said. “Only two may go. The little girl who
wants the turtle and you.” He pointed to Sunny.

Sunny and Vevi jumped into the boat and the fisherman pushed off. He
did not row out very far.

“Now you’ll have to be quiet, or we’ll never get a turtle,” he warned
the pair.

Hardly moving the oars, the fisherman eased the boat into a little
reedy cove. Vevi and Sunny looked sharp, but they could not see a
single turtle.

For awhile, the fisherman sat motionless in the boat, just watching the
water. Vevi and Sunny began to grow tired. They thought the man was
wasting a lot of time.

“There’s one!” he whispered suddenly.

“Where?” demanded Vevi.

In her eagerness to see, she turned around fast and struck the oars.
They clattered loudly.

“He’s gone now,” said the fisherman. “You’ll have to be quiet if you
want to catch one.”

Vevi and Sunny kept as still as they could. The sun beat down on them
and they were rather uncomfortable. They began to think they never
would see another turtle.

Then the fisherman without saying a word, pointed a few yards ahead of
them. At first Vevi and Sunny didn’t see anything unusual. Then they
noticed a black head peeping up amid the lily pads.

The fisherman eased the boat forward. While it drifted, he picked up a
net from the bottom of the craft.

So fast that Vevi and Sunny were astonished, he swished the net into
the water directly under the turtle.

“Got him,” he announced triumphantly.

Wrapped in the folds of the net was a spotted turtle. It clawed at the
netting trying to escape.

“He’s not too likely a specimen,” declared the fisherman. “But at least
he’s a turtle you can enter in the race. Now we’ll get one for the
little girl with the big smile.”

“Oh, I don’t want one, please,” said Sunny. She was afraid of turtles.
“I’d rather have a water lily.”

The fisherman shoved the boat into the water lily pads. Sunny picked
her own flower. The stem was tough though and she had to pull very hard.

Vevi was too busy looking after the turtle to think about flowers. The
fisherman showed her how to hold it so she would not be bitten.

The turtle though, would not hold still. He kept squirming and
squirming. The shell was wet and slippery and Vevi finally dropped him
into the bottom of the boat.

“Don’t you dare let him get near me!” squealed Sunny, edging away.

The turtle had fallen upon his back. But he used his long neck to lift
himself up and flip over on his feet again. Vevi picked him up before
he could crawl toward Sunny.

All the Brownies were waiting when the boat reached shore.

“You don’t know what you missed!” Jane called out before Vevi could
show her turtle.

“We saw a wonderful bird,” added Connie, her eyes shining. “It had long
legs like a stork.”

Vevi thought at first that the girls were only teasing her. Then she
realized that they really were excited.

“Who cares about an old bird?” she replied. “I’d rather catch a turtle
any day.”

Miss Gordon told the girls that the bird the Brownies had seen was a
great blue heron, rarely observed in the area.

“It had a neck like a flat ‘S’ loop,” Jane described the bird. “And a
funny long tailpiece on its head. When we saw it, it was standing in
the edge of the water looking for crayfish.”

Miss Gordon told the girls that herons belonged to a group of birds
called waders. For that reason, she explained, they had long legs, and
long necks and sharp bills with which to search for food.

“Want to see my turtle?” Vevi offered. “I’d rather look for another
heron,” declared Jane, running off.

The other Brownies followed her.

Miss Gordon and Mrs. Williams both admired the spotted turtle. But they
warned Vevi it would require a great deal of work to look after it
properly.

“I don’t mind,” replied Vevi. “I’ll make a little pen and feed and
water my turtle every day. I’m going to name him ‘Lightning.’ He’ll win
the race for the Brownies!”

Vevi dropped her turtle lightly on the ground to see how fast he would
go. He crawled very slowly, then faster and faster toward the water.

“Oh, no you don’t,” Vevi laughed, running after him. “You don’t get
away from me!”

She recaptured the turtle and held him for awhile. By this time the
other Brownies were having fun exploring along shore. Vevi would have
liked to join them, but was afraid to leave the turtle for fear of
losing him.

She decided to put Lightning in the boat for awhile. But the fisherman
already had overturned it on shore. As he started to leave the pond, he
warned the girls never to use the boat in his absence.

“We won’t,” Vevi promised. “Brownie Scouts are honor bright. They
never take property that doesn’t belong to them.”

Sunny, who had come up behind Vevi, heard her remark.

“Why, we didn’t even try to get into the little ship cottage,” she
added earnestly. “And we wanted to dreadfully.”

The fisherman did not know what the children meant, so they told him
about the cottage built to resemble a ship.

“Oh, you mean Captain Tarwell’s place!” he exclaimed.

The name took Vevi by surprise. “Is that who owns it?” she asked
quickly.

“Yes,” replied the fisherman. “He’s a retired sea captain. These days
he doesn’t do much except act as a caretaker and guard at the Yacht
Club docks. One occasionally sees him walking along the shore or
through the hills--always by himself.”

“Connie and I met him in the fog,” Vevi said. “He didn’t tell us
though, that he owned the cute little house.”

“Captain Tarwell isn’t one to talk about his personal affairs. He’s
never been quite as cheerful since his son was lost at sea.”

The fisherman then went on to explain that since the cottage had been
built no one ever had lived there. Captain Tarwell had constructed it
with his own hands, intending it as a home for himself and his only
son, Jerry. After the boy’s drowning, he had locked the doors, refusing
even to rent the place.

“Maybe Jerry isn’t really dead,” said Vevi. “Perhaps someday he’ll come
back.”

The fisherman shook his head as he gathered up his fishing equipment.

“Jerry never will return,” he said. “His drowning was well established.
Captain Tarwell ought to try to forget the past.”

Now Vevi and Sunny felt very sorry for the kindly old sea captain.
Nevertheless, they considered it a shame that he would not allow anyone
to live in the little cottage.

“Captain Tarwell must have put up the padlock after Connie and I told
him about the door being unlocked,” Vevi said thoughtfully. “I suppose
he doesn’t want us going there any more.”

Very shortly after the fisherman had left the pond, Mrs. Williams and
Miss Gordon announced that it was time for the Brownies to leave also.

Vevi was ready to go, because she was having trouble with the turtle.
Whenever she would put him down, even for a minute, off he would start
for the water.

Lightning would be plenty of work, Vevi realized. Not only would she
have to make him a pen, but she would need to feed him each day.

“What do turtles eat?” she asked Connie’s mother.

Mrs. Williams told her she could buy turtle food at the store, if she
wished. Or she might feed her pet bits of raw meat, fish and lettuce
leaves.

A half hour later, back at Starfish Cottage again, Vevi looked around
to see what she could use for a turtle pen. Not finding anything that
would do, she wandered down to the beach to ask Barney Fulsom if he had
any ideas.

The lifeguard was busy giving a swimming lesson and did not have time
to help her.

“Ask Jamie Curry,” he suggested, pointing to a boy who was digging with
a stick in the sand. “He’s an expert on turtles.”

The name startled Vevi. She knew that Jamie must be the son of Raymond
Curry, the hotel lifeguard. But she thought he had run away.

“Jamie’s back again,” Barney said, as if reading Vevi’s mind. “Better
not say anything to him about being a runaway because I hear his father
gave him a licking. Hey, Jamie!” At the lifeguard’s call, the boy came
over. He was barely thirteen, but very muscular and strong for his age.
His nose was blotched with hundreds of freckles. Vevi liked him because
she had lots of freckles too.

Barney introduced the youngsters and then said: “Jamie, Vevi has a
turtle and needs help in fixing up a place where she can keep him.”

Jamie looked at the turtle. He didn’t seem to think very much of it.

“What d’you want a sluggish old turtle like that for?” he asked. “He’s
no good.”

“He is too,” Vevi insisted. “I call him Lightning. I’m going to enter
him in the race Saturday. Maybe I’ll win for the Brownies.”

“You won’t win with that old slow poke,” Jamie scoffed. “I’d toss him
in the water.”

“No,” Vevi answered firmly. She was so hurt and disappointed she felt
like crying.

Jamie seemed to be ashamed of himself for making fun of the turtle. At
any rate, he said quickly:

“Oh, he’s not too bad. And you never can tell about turtles. Sometimes
the fast ones won’t start up right, or maybe they get scared and stop
just before they reach the finish line.”

“Then you think he might win?” Vevi demanded eagerly.

“Might,” Jamie shrugged.

“You’ll help me fix a pen for him?”

Jamie told her that she wouldn’t need a pen. “An old dish pan will do,”
he said. “I can get you one, I guess.”

The boy took her across the beach to the big hotel. On the way he
pointed out a little beach house where he lived with his father during
the summer.

Jamie didn’t say much about his father, or explain why he had run away.
Vevi wanted to question him, but she was afraid he might be offended if
she acted curious.

She couldn’t help thinking though, that he was exactly the same size as
the boy she and Connie had seen in the fog. Had he hidden in the little
ship house? And had she and Connie frightened him away?

Jamie took Vevi around the big summer hotel. In the courtyard, near the
trash barrel, they found an old dishpan.

“It’s rusty,” the boy said, giving it a crack with his stick, “but it
will hold water.”

They took the pan back to the beach. Jamie found several rocks and
built up an island in the center of the pan. Then he poured in a pail
of fresh water.

“That will make a first-rate turtle pond,” Jamie declared. “Now where’s
Lightning? Stick him in.”

An odd expression came over Vevi’s face. She tried to answer and
couldn’t say a word.

“Don’t tell me he got away?” Jamie demanded.

Vevi nodded miserably. She hadn’t meant to be careless. But she had
been so interested in watching Jamie build the rock island, that she
had forgotten all about the turtle. Just for a second she had put him
down on the sand. Now he was gone.

“You’ll never see that turtle again,” said Jamie in disgust. “Oh, well,
he never would have made a good racer anyhow.”

Two big tears rolled down Vevi’s face.

“Don’t start bawling,” Jamie said quickly. “Turtles are a dime a dozen.
There’s only one I know of that would be worth keeping.”

“What one is that?” Vevi asked him.

“A young snapper that won every race here last summer. His name was
Clover and it was painted in yellow on his shell. If you had _him_ you
might win.”

“What became of the turtle, Jamie?”

“He was tossed back into the pond.”

“He’s still there then?”

“Might be. Turtles live for years and years.”

Already Vevi had lost interest in Lightning. Clover, she decided, would
be a much better turtle to own.

“Oh, Jamie,” she said, catching her breath. “I’d give anything to own
Clover. Couldn’t you find him for me?”

“I’d like to find him for myself,” Jamie admitted with a laugh. “Not
much chance though. There are thousands of turtles in Cabell’s pond.”

“They come out on the logs to sun themselves. If Clover has a name
painted on his shell, couldn’t one spot him?”

“Maybe, if you were there at just the right time.”

“Won’t you try to get Clover for me?” Vevi pleaded. “I do so want to
win the race for the Brownies.”

Jamie seemed to be thinking over the request.

“I don’t like to promise,” he said after a long silence. “My dad keeps
me close to the beach since--well, lately. I might be able to get you a
turtle, but not Clover.”

“Any will do,” Vevi said. “I’d rather have Clover though. Will you
please get me a turtle right away?”

“If I get one at all, it will be right away,” Jamie answered soberly.
He looked out across the waves. “I’m not figuring on being around here
much longer.”

“You’re not going to run away again?” Vevi asked.

Jamie did not appear offended by her question.

“Maybe I will. And next time, I won’t come back! I’ll go so far my dad
never will find me.”

Vevi was very troubled by the boy’s threat to leave home.

“Oh, Jamie, you mustn’t run away,” she said quickly. “Silver Beach is
wonderful! I shouldn’t think you’d want to leave. Don’t you like your
father?”

Jamie hung his head and didn’t answer the question. He dug the sand
with the toe of his beach sandal.

“You wouldn’t like it here either, if you knew what I do,” he said
finally.

Having spoken, he turned and ran off down the beach.



CHAPTER 8

HIGH TIDE


Vevi had hoped to return soon to Cabell’s pond to search for Clover.

However, she had no chance to do so the next day, for Miss Gordon told
the Brownie Scouts they were to have an outing at Brant’s Point.

“We’ll picnic there and gather shells for our collection,” she outlined
plans. “Vevi will have a chance too to give her bird report.”

Vevi said nothing, but she felt rather queer inside. She had been too
busy to give the required report a single thought.

“I’ll bet Vevi won’t have one ready!” teased Jane.

“Oh, yes, I will,” Vevi insisted. “Just you wait and see.”

After the breakfast dishes had been washed and the beds made, the girls
all piled into Mrs. William’s big sedan. The tide was low, so it was
possible to drive along the beach without the tires sinking in.

Before long, the Brownies sighted the tall lighthouse directly ahead.
Often at night the girls had observed its revolving ray blink on and
off.

“Brant’s Point light has saved many a ship at sea,” Miss Gordon told
the troop. “And the lives of countless birds.”

Rosemary asked her how a lighthouse could save birds.

“Some of the older lighthouses have beacons that burn steadily,” Miss
Gordon explained. “Such a light always seems to attract birds. Some
circle the light towers until from sheer exhaustion they drop into the
sea. Others fly against the windows and batter their wings.”

The teacher went on to say that birds were much less likely to be
attracted by Brant Light, which blinked off at intervals. Also, the
tower had projections or shelves where a tired bird might rest in its
long flight southward.

“May we visit the lighthouse?” Connie asked as the girls unloaded the
lunch hampers at the point.

“Federal regulations prohibit visitors,” the teacher replied
regretfully. “Anyhow, we’ll not have too much time here. After we’ve
had our lunch and gathered a few shells, it will be time to leave.”

Mrs. Williams remarked that they must under no circumstance over-stay
their time. “I’ve been told that the tide comes in very strong and fast
here by the lighthouse,” she said. “By late afternoon, this beach will
be almost entirely covered with water.”

“Is it safe to be here?” asked Sunny anxiously.

Mrs. Williams assured her that it always would be possible to scamper
to higher ground.

“But if we should stay too long, my car might be trapped,” she
explained, “for there is no roadway out. We’ll leave very soon. Then
there will be no danger.”

The Brownies helped unload the lunch baskets and set the table with
paper plates. Then, with Miss Gordon’s permission, they peeled off
shoes and stockings and started to look for shells.

“Don’t wade far out into the water,” the teacher warned. “The surf is
strong here now that the tide has turned. There’s a tricky undertow.”

Waves came in with a great roar, nibbling greedily at the sand. The
Brownies had no desire to wade out more than a few feet.

“See what I’ve found!” cried Connie. She held up a very attractive
shell with a half-moon opening. “It’s not like the others we have.”

When she showed it to Miss Gordon, the teacher told her that it was a
moon snail shell.

The Brownies never had seen the waves bring up so many nice shells.
Soon Jane dug up a yellowish-white whelk marked by spiral ribs. The
other girls found unbroken clam shells and a brown one which not even
Miss Gordon could identify.

After the Brownies had wearied of searching, Miss Gordon and Mrs.
Williams set out the food.

“It will soon be time for Vevi’s bird report,” Jane reminded the group.
“I’ll bet she doesn’t have it ready.”

Vevi pretended not to hear. She had boasted that she would be able to
tell about a special bird. Actually, the only ones she had seen were
those on which the other girls already had reported.

She ate her sandwich very fast. While the others were finishing their
cake, she slipped off behind one of the sand dunes. Vevi thought she
would walk toward the lighthouse. Perhaps she would see a special sea
bird on which she could report. But if not, she would be so late in
getting back that Miss Gordon and the Brownies might decide to postpone
asking for her talk. Meanwhile, Miss Gordon began to tell the Brownies
about some of the strange habits of birds. She said no one knew why
they migrated from one part of the country to another, or how they
found their way.

“Year after year they’ll return to the same place, often the same
nest,” she declared. “A bird is guided by keen eyesight, but also
apparently by instinct.”

Miss Gordon advised the girls to observe birds carefully, taking note
of points that would help in making an identification.

“Always notice a bird’s size,” she instructed. “Remember that male and
female birds vary in color and marking. Notice wing motion too and
whether the bird walks, runs or hops on the ground.”

By this time waves were breaking higher and higher on the beach. Mrs.
Williams remarked uneasily that the tide seemed to be coming in faster
than she had expected.

“Perhaps we should start back to the cottages,” she suggested.

As the girls began to gather up their belongings, Miss Gordon noticed
Vevi’s absence.

“Now where has she gone?” she inquired. “She was here only a moment
ago.”

“She went off so she wouldn’t have to give her bird report,” Jane
declared. “I see her wandering around over there behind the lighthouse.”

“I’ll go after her,” offered Connie.

“Call to her instead,” advised Mrs. Williams. “We really have no time
to waste.”

Connie shouted Vevi’s name several times. “Hurry up!” she yelled. “The
tide is rolling in, and we want to start home.”

“Coming,” Vevi answered.

Despite the urging to hurry however, she kept loitering by a large sand
dune. She seemed to be examining something she had found there.

“That old slow poke!” Jane exclaimed. “I’ll get her!”

“No, she’s coming now,” Mrs. Williams said. “I want everyone to stay
here. Gather up everything and bring it to the car.”

Connie’s mother regretted now that she had not turned her car around
before parking it on the sand.

She had not realized that the hard, firm beach which had provided her
with a safe roadway could disappear so fast.

Although ample space remained along shore for the return drive, not
much area was left in which to turn the car around.

“I’m going ahead to move the car,” Mrs. Williams said.

Connie and Sunny went along with her. When they reached the car they
noticed that the larger waves were breaking only a short distance from
the rear car wheels.

“Oh, the tide is coming in so fast!” Connie exclaimed. “Will we make
it, Mother?”

“We’ll be all right once we turn around,” Mrs. Williams replied. She
was more worried though, than she cared to have the children know.

Quickly she started the car and swung the steering wheel. The
automobile moved slightly uphill into loose sand.

Now Mrs. Williams had not intended to swing in such a wide arc. Nor had
she realized that the sand was quite so soft.

Slower and slower crept the car, its engine laboring.

“Keep going, Mother!” shouted Connie. She could see that the auto was
about ready to stop in the deep sand.

Mrs. Williams shifted into another gear, but the car would not pull.
With a gasping chug, it came to a standstill. The rear wheels kept
spinning, but there was no traction.

The car would not budge. They were stuck fast in the sand with the tide
rolling in!



CHAPTER 9

STUCK IN THE SAND


The tires of Mrs. Williams’ car kept spinning faster and faster in the
loose sand. They dug in deeply until the wheel was mired to its hub cap.

“Oh, dear, by trying to get out, I’m only making it worse.” Mrs.
Williams gasped. “What shall we do?”

Switching off the engine, she sprang out of the car to look at the rear
wheels.

By this time, Miss Gordon and all the Brownies except Vevi had come
running across the beach with the lunch hampers. They were very worried.

“Are we really stuck?” demanded Jane breathlessly.

“Will the tide wash the car away?” questioned Sunny.

“Let’s all push,” suggested Connie.

“We’ll have to if we are to get out,” Mrs. Williams said. She gazed
nervously at the waves. Each one was chewing away a larger and larger
bite of sand.

By noticing the rim of dried seaweed along shore, the Brownies could
tell that the ocean came exactly that far at high tide. The waves would
be certain to sweep over the floor boards of the car.

“Salt water ruins a car very easily,” declared Miss Gordon. “We must
get out somehow.”

She glanced hopefully toward the lighthouse. Connie offered to run
there and ask for help. But Miss Gordon told her it would be useless as
the lone attendant never was allowed to leave his post.

Jane found several large blocks of wood which she placed under the rear
tires. It did no good. When Mrs. Williams tried to pull forward again,
the pieces of wood were thrown aside.

“Let’s all push,” urged Rosemary. “I’m real strong.”

Miss Gordon agreed that the girls might try to shove the car out. She
warned them however, not to strain hard.

At a given signal, everyone stood ready. All the Brownies, that is
except Vevi. She was walking slowly from the lighthouse, not even aware
that anything was wrong.

“Now girls, together!”

As Miss Gordon spoke, Mrs. Williams let out the clutch of the car.
Again the rear wheels began to spin, slowly at first, then faster and
faster.

Miss Gordon applied all her strength. The Brownies pushed too, but they
were not very strong. Their feet kept slipping in the sand.

“It’s no use, no use at all,” the teacher finally gasped.

She signaled for Mrs. Williams to turn off the motor again. The
Brownies could smell rubber. By turning so rapidly in the sand, the
rear wheels had generated a great deal of heat.

“Can’t we send for a garageman to tow us out?” suggested Rosemary.
“That’s what my mother always does when our car won’t run.”

“Dear, there isn’t time,” Mrs. Williams replied. “The tide will be
washing against the car in another ten or fifteen minutes.”

Miss Gordon and Connie’s mother looked up and down the beach. Usually
any number of cars were in view. Not one was in sight when help was so
badly needed.

Connie glanced out across the tumbling water. Not far from shore she
saw a small motor boat chugging along. The operator was Raymond Curry,
the hotel lifeguard.

“Maybe he’ll help us!” she exclaimed.

Mrs. Williams and Miss Gordon had noticed the boat at the same moment.

“If we had a strong man to push, I think we might get out!” exclaimed
Mrs. Williams. “Let’s call to him.”

“He’s a lifeguard,” laughed Sunny. “He ought to help us rescue a car!”

The Brownies shouted as loudly as they could and waved. Mr. Curry heard
them, for he throttled down the engine and turned to gaze toward shore.

“Help us!” yelled Connie. “Our car’s stuck in the sand.”

“And the tide’s coming in fast!” screamed Jane. She cupped her hands to
her mouth to make the words carry.

Now the Brownies were certain that the lifeguard understood their
request. Even if he couldn’t hear, how could he fail to see that they
were in trouble?

The lifeguard didn’t even wave his hand in friendly greeting. He stared
toward shore for a minute, and then turned his head away. Speeding up
the motor again, he cruised on past.

Miss Gordon and Mrs. Williams made no comment. But they looked at each
other in a most peculiar way.

“He saw us!” Jane declared in a shrill voice. “How mean of him not to
help!”

“We’ll never get out now,” Mrs. Williams said. She was deeply
discouraged.

Each huge wave that swept in came a little closer to the car. Finally a
big one actually lapped at one of the rear tires.

“We may as well take our belongings and climb back on one of the
dunes,” Miss Gordon said. “The sea will not rise higher than the rim of
seaweed.”

“Wait a minute!” exclaimed Connie. “I see someone coming down the
beach!”

She had noticed a man with a cane, strolling along the sand toward the
lighthouse.

“Why, it’s Captain Tarwell,” she recognized him.

The old seaman came closer, gazing toward the group of Brownies.
Observing how near their car was to the foaming sea, he began to walk
faster.

“Ahoy,” he greeted the girls. “What’s wrong here? Aground, eh, and with
a strong tide running.”

The Brownies, all talking at once, tried to explain what had happened.

Captain Tarwell didn’t bother to listen for he could see for himself
what was wrong. He knew too, that he would have to work fast to beat
the tide.

“I’m not as strong as I was in the old days when I was master of the
_Gorchester_,” he remarked after inspecting the mired wheels. “But with
all hands to help, I think we can heave ’er free. Lay to!”

Rosemary, Jane and Miss Gordon got on one side of the car. Connie and
Sunny stood by the other, to help the captain. Mrs. Williams started
the engine again.

“Heave-ho!” shouted the captain. “All together now! Push, maties, push!”

The Brownies exerted all their strength. Slowly the car began to move.
One tire caught firmly in the sand and then the other.

Suddenly the car spurted forward so fast that Connie and Jane went
sprawling in the sand. It did not hurt them. They were laughing as they
scrambled to their feet.

“We’re out!” cried Connie. “Just in time too!”

Mrs. Williams swung the car in as narrow an arc as possible. Another
moment and all four wheels were on firm sand again. Best of all, the
car now was headed toward the cottage beach.

“Oh, Captain, we’re so grateful!” Miss Gordon thanked him. “I hope you
didn’t strain yourself pushing so hard.”

“Not a bit,” he chuckled, picking up his cane. “Always glad to answer
an SOS distress call.”

“Can’t we give you ride to town?” Mrs. Williams offered.

“I am a mite tuckered from my walk,” the captain admitted. “Aye, if you
have room, I’ll ride along.”

By this time the Brownies had piled into the back seat, leaving the
front for Mrs. Williams, Miss Gordon and the captain.

“Where’s Vevi?” demanded Mrs. Williams.

Everyone looked toward the lighthouse. Vevi was coming, but very
slowly. She seemed to be holding something in her arms, beneath her
brown sweater.

“Vevi!” shouted Jane. “You hurry up!”

Mrs. Williams tooted the car horn sharply three times.

Vevi began to walk faster. But despite urging by the Brownies, she
would not hurry.

“What’s she got?” Jane demanded suspiciously. “She doesn’t want us to
see it.”

Vevi, unaware of the danger the Brownies had been in, grinned from ear
to ear as she sauntered up.

“Where’ve you been so long?” Jane demanded. “And what are you hiding
under that sweater?”

Vevi answered not a word. She kept grinning and looking very wise.
Whatever she held beneath the sweater was alive, for the girls could
see the woolen cloth twitch.

“Jump into the car, Vevi!” Mrs. Williams ordered impatiently. “We’ve
lost too much time now.”

Thus urged, Vevi leaped into the back seat. But she kept tight hold of
the sweater.

“You went off because you didn’t want to give the bird report,” Jane
accused her.

“Maybe I did,” Vevi admitted. “But let me tell you a thing or two. I’ve
got something better than an old stupid report. I’ve got a real live
bird!”



CHAPTER 10

A BIRD REPORT


“I’ve got a beautiful gull,” Vevi announced proudly. “See!”

Pulling aside the sweater, she showed the Brownies a white pigeon with
arched wings and well-formed tail.

One of the wings though, appeared to have been injured, for it hung
limp.

“Vevi calls that a gull!” scoffed Jane.

“It’s a carrier pigeon and it’s been hurt!” exclaimed Sunny.

By this time the car was moving swiftly along the narrow stretch of
beach. Mrs. Williams and Miss Gordon no longer were worried for the
sand was hard and firm. As they neared the cottages at Silver Beach,
the roadway also became much wider.

Captain Tarwell was very much interested in Vevi’s bird. He examined
the wing, which he said was only bruised, not broken. Then he looked at
a metal band fastened to the pigeon’s leg.

The band bore the number 68971.

“Is the bird carrying a message?” Connie asked eagerly.

“No, only this identification number,” Captain Tarwell replied. “With
kind treatment, the pigeon should fly again soon.”

“Where did you find him, Vevi?” Rosemary questioned, eager for all the
details.

“In the dunes near the lighthouse. I think I’ll call my bird Snow
White. Snow White tried to get away, but he couldn’t fly because of his
wing. Is he really a messenger pigeon?”

“Aye,” the seaman assured her. “A young one though. It may have run
into trouble on its first flight.”

“Maybe it came from across the ocean,” Vevi speculated.

“Hardly that far,” answered the captain. “From the number, I’d judge
this pigeon may belong to Harmon Green’s loft.”

Vevi had never heard of Harmon Green. She asked where his place was
situated.

“About a quarter of a mile from Silver Beach,” Captain Tarwell replied.
“Mr. Green breeds and races pigeons. If this isn’t his pigeon, at
least he’ll know how to find and notify the owner.”

Vevi stroked the pigeon’s plumage, not saying anything. She had hoped
that the bird could belong to her. But she knew now that she must try
to find its owner.

“Snow White is a stupid name for a racing pigeon,” spoke up Jane.
“Especially for one that isn’t a girl.”

“I like it,” Vevi said. “Captain Tarwell, how far can a pigeon fly?”

“Oh, that depends on the bird,” he returned. “The best racing homers
have been known to wing home a thousand miles. But not young, untrained
birds.”

“I’ll bet Snow White could fly a long way if he hadn’t hurt his wing,”
Vevi declared proudly.

Soon the car approached Starfish and Oriole Cottages. As everyone
alighted at the bathhouse, Mrs. Williams remarked that she didn’t know
what to do about Vevi’s pigeon.

“Tell you what,” offered the captain. “If you like, I’ll take the
pigeon to Harmon Green.”

Vevi spoke up quickly. “I want to go along,” she insisted. “So do I,”
Connie added.

All the other Brownies then wanted to go. However, Miss Gordon thought
it would be unfair for Captain Tarwell to look after so many children.
So it was decided that Vevi and Connie, having spoken first, should
make the trip.

Taking Snow White with them, the two girls walked with Captain Tarwell
into the hills. A shady, winding street finally brought them to a gray
shingle house. Off to one side was a small building which looked like a
garage with a flat roof.

“That’s the pigeon cote,” Captain Tarwell told the girls. “Hey, what’s
coming off here?”

From the direction of the flat-roofed building the girls heard a
strange commotion. Birds were making a fearful clatter. They could hear
a man talking very angrily.

As Captain Tarwell and the children walked toward the pigeon cote, the
door swung suddenly open.

Out came a young man in dirty overalls and grimy white cap. His face
was very grim.

“Don’t ever come back here looking for a job,” another man in the
doorway called after him. “You don’t know how to handle birds.”

The man in the doorway, who was Mr. Green, saw Captain Tarwell and the
two girls. He knew the seaman well, calling him by name.

“Having your troubles, I see,” observed Captain Tarwell.

“Operating a pigeon loft with hired help is no fun,” Mr. Green replied.
“I had to fire young Gradbrough just now. He excites the birds and
doesn’t handle them skillfully. He neglects to clean the cages too.”

“Lose any birds?” Captain Tarwell questioned him.

“I lost three in the last flight test. That looks like one of my birds.”

Mr. Green’s gaze had fastened upon Snow White, snuggled in Vevi’s arms.

Vevi told him where she had found the pigeon. Mr. Green briefly
examined the leg band and confirmed that the bird belonged to him.

“Frankly, I don’t think the pigeon is worth its feed,” he added. “In
two different tests it failed miserably.”

“But Snow White’s wing was hurt,” Vevi said, coming quickly to the
bird’s defense. “How could he fly back home?”

“The pigeon isn’t as strong as it should be,” Mr. Green explained.
“I breed for profit. If a bird fails repeatedly in tests, it must be
culled out.”

The cote owner examined the pigeon very carefully and put it into one
of the wire cages.

“It will be all right in a few days,” he said. “Then I’ll make one more
test. If the bird fails another time, out it goes.”

The pigeon cote had been divided into sections set apart by mesh wire
fence. Old birds were separated from young ones. Those that were sick
were housed in a special pen.

Mr. Green filled the water pans and placed grain in long feeding
troughs. The birds could not crowd each other because a six-inch space
was provided for each one.

Adjoining the cote was an exercise cage. The building itself was set in
an open place, facing south so that more sunshine would filter in.

Mr. Green told the Brownies that in training pigeons one had to be very
patient.

“Food is the key to success,” he declared. “A pigeon always will return
to the place where it has been fed.”

The cote owner explained that in training racers he began by whistling
for the birds just before he fed them.

After a week, he would place the pigeon on a landing platform outside
the loft. When another training period had elapsed, he would start
leaving the birds a short distance away but in view of the loft.

“They’ll always return to the landing platform in search of food,” Mr.
Green said. “The first real test comes when I take the pigeons in a
basket some distance away and release them in a group. After that test,
I try them singly at one mile, then five and perhaps ten miles. The
pigeon you girls returned failed both the five and the ten-mile test.”

“I hope you give Snow White another chance,” Vevi said.

“In the first test I thought the pigeon might have been confused by the
fog,” Mr. Green said. “This last time, the bird may have run into other
trouble. The others came back though. So I’m about through bothering
with it.”

As Captain Tarwell and the Brownies were ready to leave, Mr. Green
asked the seaman if he knew of any young man who would like a job at
the pigeon cote.

“Not off hand, I don’t,” Captain Tarwell answered. “I’ll keep it in
mind though.”

“I pay good wages,” Mr. Green said. “The work is exacting though. I
need a dependable person, one who can be trusted to handle the birds
when my back is turned.”

Vevi was a little worried about what would be done with Snow White.

“You really think he’ll get well?” she asked the cote owner anxiously.

“Oh, he’ll be all right in a day or two,” Mr. Green replied. “The wing
isn’t broken. But as I said, I doubt the pigeon ever will be any good
for racing.”

“You will give him one more chance?” Vevi pleaded again.

“I promised, didn’t I?” Mr. Green asked a trifle impatiently. “I’m
testing a basketful of birds Wednesday. If your pigeon is well enough,
I’ll include him in the lot.”

“May all the Brownies watch the test?” Connie asked. “I’m sure they’d
like to see the birds fly home.”

Mr. Green said he had no objection.

“We’ll be here!” Vevi declared, her eyes bright. “And I know Snow White
will do splendidly next time. He’ll make all the Brownies very proud.”



CHAPTER 11

A TEST FOR SNOW WHITE


The hours at Silver Beach were all too short for the Brownie Scouts. It
seemed to them that they never had time to accomplish half the things
they wanted to do.

Most intriguing of all was the sea itself. Each morning it coaxed them
in for a swim. By the time the girls had taken their sun baths and
searched for shells it was nearly lunch time.

“The days are just flying,” Connie sighed. “Before we know it, we’ll be
returning to Rosedale.”

“We haven’t learned anything more about that little ship house either,”
Vevi replied soberly. “So many things are undone. We haven’t even found
Miss Gordon’s wrist watch.”

Now the teacher long ago had given up all thought of recovering the
missing timepiece. The Brownies, however, kept hoping that the watch
would be found in the sand. Nearly every day when they were on the
beach, they would dig around, hoping to find it.

Since Vevi and Connie had visited the pigeon cote, all of the Brownies
wanted to go there. Whenever the troop went on a hike, the girls
usually walked in the direction of Mr. Green’s loft.

The pigeon breeder would not allow the Brownies inside the building
lest they disturb the birds. It was fun though, to stand outside,
watching the pigeons drop into the roof traps after long flights.

The racers would alight on the building and walk along the eaves. When
they stepped into one of the traps, Mr. Green could reach up and grab
them by the legs. Then he would feed them and put them in their cages.

Some of the pigeons had gray and blue plumage with black bars on each
wing. Others had feathers in a salt and pepper effect. The less common
birds were black, red, yellow and silver. Vevi did not see a single one
that appeared as white as the pigeon she had found near the lighthouse.

She asked Mr. Green why he did not have more white racers.

“White birds are more prone to attack by hawks,” he explained. “By the
way, your bird has recovered its strength again.”

“Then it’s ready to race?” the little girl asked eagerly.

“It’s as ready as it will ever be. As I said, I doubt the bird ever
will be much good.”

“But you promised to give it one more chance.”

“So I did,” Mr. Green agreed. “I’m testing out a dozen birds today.
I’ll include your pigeon in the lot.”

All the Brownies wanted to watch the test and Mr. Green agreed that
they might. He told Mrs. Williams and Miss Gordon that he would release
the birds at a point five miles away from the pigeon cote.

Everyone drove there in Mrs. William’s car. By the time they arrived,
Mr. Green already had unloaded several wicker baskets of pigeons which
he planned to release.

Vevi went over to talk to Snow White. The pigeon was in a basket by
himself. His feathers were smooth and glossy and he looked as if he
were in good condition for racing. At least Vevi thought so.

“Now you must do your very best today,” she said to the pigeon. “When
Mr. Green tosses you into the air, fly straight home! Fly faster than
any of the other birds!”

“You’re goofy, talking to a pigeon!” Jane teased, coming up behind her.
“He can’t understand you.”

“Maybe he can,” Vevi insisted. “Anyway, you just wait! Snow White will
do fine this time.”

The Brownies gathered around as Mr. Green prepared to release the
pigeons.

“The birds are hungry, so they should fly directly to the loft,” he
declared. “As soon as I’ve set them free, I’ll drive back. I want to be
on hand to check their time as they arrive at the cote.”

Mr. Green tossed all of the birds into the air. They rose and circled
once or twice. Then one by one they flew off in the direction of the
pigeon loft.

“Snow White went with the others!” Vevi cried in delight. “I’ll bet
he’s the first to reach the roost!”

Having released the birds, Mr. Green did not waste any time. He drove
off home immediately. Mrs. Williams, Miss Gordon and the Brownies
followed, but at a more leisurely rate.

“Can’t we drive faster?” Vevi urged impatiently.

“Not on this curving road,” Mrs. Williams replied. “We’ll be there soon
enough.”

The pigeons had started to arrive by the time the Brownies finally
reached Mr. Green’s place.

As the girls alighted from the car, they saw a gray-blue bird winging
in to alight on the rooftop.

Vevi watched it fall into the trap and disappear. Then she ran to the
door of the dove cote.

“Has Snow White come yet?” she shouted to the loft owner.

“Not yet,” Mr. Green replied. “Only three of the birds have come so
far. I’m very busy now. Don’t bother me.”

Through the windows, the Brownies could see the loft owner seizing each
bird as it arrived. He would record its number and exact time in a
little book.

“Where is Snow White?” Vevi fretted as one after another of the pigeons
arrived.

“Your old bird isn’t any good,” teased Jane.

“Wait and see,” Vevi retorted. “I think he’s coming now!”

She was wrong though. The bird which had settled on the roof was a
light colored pigeon which from a distance had appeared almost white.

Mr. Green fed the bird and put it back in its cage. Then he appeared in
the doorway of the pigeon cote.

“Well, they’re all in now except one,” he told the Brownies. “No use
waiting for it, because it won’t show up.”

Vevi knew he meant Snow White. She was so disappointed she felt like
crying.

“I’m sure it wasn’t Snow White’s fault,” she told Mr. Green. “Maybe his
wing wasn’t entirely healed.”

“That could be,” agreed the pigeon breeder. “But I only tested the bird
to please you. I’m through bothering with him even if he does show up
later.”

All the Brownies, even Jane, had wanted the bird to make a satisfactory
test. They were sorry that Snow White would never be given another
chance.

So that the Brownies would not think too much about the lost bird, Miss
Gordon proposed that everyone return to the beach for a swim.

Vevi only waded through the sand while the others took their lesson
from Barney Fulsom. Spying Jamie Curry walking along in a maroon sweat
shirt and brown shorts, she went over to tell him about Snow White’s
misfortune.

“Say, I’d like to work for Mr. Green!” Jamie exclaimed. “I wonder how
much he would pay?”

Without waiting for Vevi to answer, he went on quickly: “My father
wouldn’t let me work there though. He doesn’t let me do anything I
like. One of these days--soon too--I’ll run away again. Next time he
won’t find me.”

Jamie had made the same remark before. So Vevi did not think he really
meant it.

“Oh, Jamie,” she protested, “why would you want to do such a foolish
thing?”

“You’d want to run away too if you knew what I do,” the boy hinted
again.

Then he quickly changed the subject by asking Vevi if she had found a
turtle for the Saturday race.

“Not yet,” she admitted. “I don’t know how to get one either.”

“It’s easy as falling off a log,” Jamie said. “Why don’t you try the
pond again? Maybe you’ll catch that snapper I told you about.”

The boy added that if Vevi hoped to win a prize for the Brownies, she
would have to enter the Saturday race.

“That will be the last one this season,” he told her. “My father said
yesterday he’s going to give up his job and go west.”

“You’ll leave with him, Jamie?”

“Maybe. Maybe not.”

Vevi could not understand the boy’s strange attitude toward his father.
Because he didn’t seem to care to talk about it, she spoke again of the
turtle pond.

“Want me to take you there?” the boy offered. “I’ll catch you a dandy
turtle.”

Vevi knew that Miss Gordon would not want her to go to the pond without
an older person along. She realized too, that the other Brownies would
not favor an outing there, for they were enjoying their swimming lesson.

“I guess I can’t go,” she said, her face downcast.

Just then, old Captain Tarwell strolled up to talk to the children.
Hearing mention of the pond, he offered to take Jamie and Vevi.

“I want to stop at the cottage on the way,” he remarked. “I’ll be glad
to have company. That is, if you’ll promise not to walk too fast.”

Miss Gordon said that Vevi might go. So off the three went, idling
along so that the old seaman would not tire himself.

On their way to the pond, Captain Tarwell stopped briefly at the little
ship cottage. He went inside for a moment to make certain no one had
broken in since his last visit.

After snapping shut the padlock again, Captain Tarwell slipped the key
under a loose shingle on the side of the house.

“Now you know my secret,” he said, “but I’ll trust you both not to tell
where I keep the key.”

Vevi remarked wistfully that she wished the Brownie Scouts might hold
their shell exhibition at the cottage.

“We wouldn’t damage anything,” she promised.

Captain Tarwell acted as if he had not heard the request. Telling the
youngsters to come along, he started on down the road toward the pond.

The captain could not walk fast on his lame leg. Out of politeness,
Vevi and Jamie kept exact pace.

“Hunting pond turtles puts me in mind of the days when I’d see giant
tortoises roaming island beaches in the Pacific,” he remarked. “It’s
fun to watch the big leatherbacks come out of the sea on moonlight
nights to lay their eggs.”

“I’d like to run off to sea,” Jamie said.

Captain Tarwell gave the boy a quick, sidelong glance. “Better forget
that idea, lad,” he said.

Then he went on to tell how the giant turtles would come out of the
ocean on moonlight nights to dig holes for their eggs. He explained
that the reptiles would cover the eggs with sand and return to the
sea. Vevi hadn’t known that turtles laid eggs. Or that they left them
for the sun to hatch. She asked what became of the turtle babies.

“As soon as they hatch, they creep down to the water,” Captain Tarwell
explained. “There they feed on tadpoles, snails and insects.”

He told the children that one could guess a turtle’s age by the rims on
its shell. “If a shell has six rims, then the turtle is six years old,”
he said. “But after many years, the rims wear away, so then one can
only estimate the age.”

By this time, the three had reached Cabell’s pond. Captain Tarwell sat
down on the beach to smoke his pipe and rest. He said he would wait
there and watch while the children caught turtles.

Stripping off shoes and stockings, Jamie boldly waded in.

Moving quietly into a patch of rushes, he soon caught a pancake turtle
in his bare hands. But after he had examined it, he threw it back into
the water.

“You don’t want this old fellow,” he called to Vevi. “He’s sickly.
You’d never win a race with him.”

Jamie kept looking for other turtles. Soon he had caught three. But
he let each one go. One had a broken shell and the other two were not
active.

“I’d like ANY turtle,” Vevi declared.

Jamie paid no attention to her. He kept diving into the water with his
hands. Now that he had stirred up the pond, the turtles were harder to
catch. He waded farther and farther out into the pond trying to find
them.

“Be careful,” warned Vevi.

“Oh, I can swim,” Jamie replied carelessly. “My father taught me how.”

Just as he spoke, he stepped into a deep hole. Falling forward, the boy
made a terrific splash. As he scrambled to his feet his clothes were
all wet.

Captain Tarwell walked down to the edge of the water.

“Avast, there!” he called to Jamie. “Time we start for home, son. You
need some dry clothes.”

Jamie reluctantly waded back toward shore.

“Oh, dear,” murmured Vevi. “We have to leave, and after all our work,
we have no turtle.”

“After all my work, you mean,” corrected Jamie. He grinned though, as
he said it. Turtle hunting had been fun.

The boy suddenly stopped short, gazing toward a rotted log which stuck
up out of the water.

He did not say a word for a moment. Then he whispered excitedly:

“Look over there!”

Vevi gazed at the log. At first she didn’t notice anything unusual.
But as she kept looking, something moved. She caught a little flash of
yellow.

Sunning itself on the log was a big snapping turtle. On its shell had
been printed a name in yellow paint.

“That’s HIM!” whispered Jamie, moving stealthily through the water.
“That’s Clover! Hold your breath, Vevi. I’m going to nail that old
boy!”



CHAPTER 12

FOUND IN THE REEDS


While Vevi stood perfectly still, Jamie sneaked up on the turtle.
Clover was sunning himself on the log, barely moving his claws.

Closer and closer Jamie crept, taking care not to splash in the water.
He was almost on the turtle when it stretched its neck sideways.
Apparently it saw the boy, for quick as a flash it flopped into the
water.

“Oh, dear, there goes my chance of winning the race Saturday,” sighed
Vevi. “We’ll never get him now.”

Jamie watched but the turtle did not reappear on the surface of the
pond.

“Time to go,” shouted Captain Tarwell. “Shake a leg, you kids.”

Vevi and Jamie teased to stay a few minutes longer, but the seaman had
grown tired of waiting. Besides, he had promised he would have them
back at the beach by an early hour.

Jamie started to wade in. He was nearly ashore when he halted again. An
object in the reeds had drawn his attention.

“Avast, there!” called the captain. “None o’ that restin’ on the oars!
Come along with you!”

“But I see something fluttering in the reeds!” Jamie exclaimed. “It’s
not a turtle either! It’s something alive and it’s white!”

“I see it too!” cried Vevi. “It looks like a duck!”

Jamie started to wade over toward the reeds. Captain Tarwell let him
go, because he wondered too what it was the boy had seen.

By this time Jamie had reached the reed patch. He scooped in his hand
and pulled a white bird from the water.

“It’s a pigeon! A carrier pigeon!” he called to those on shore.

Vevi became very excited.

“Maybe it’s Snow White!” she exclaimed. “Is there a leg band with a
number, Jamie?”

Carrying the pigeon, the boy waded ashore. “It has a number, but it’s
smeared with oil and I can’t read the figures,” he announced. “The
bird’s feathers are soaked with oil. I’m getting it all over me.”

Vevi was certain the moment she saw the bird that it was the missing
Snow White. Captain Tarwell wiped oil from the pigeon’s wings and the
leg band. With the metal plate clean again, he could read the numerals.
They were 68971.

“It’s the same pigeon all right,” the captain confirmed. “Dash my
binnacles, if it isn’t!”

“The bird’s been in a fight, maybe with a hawk,” guessed Jamie. “See,
there’s a bloody mark on his head. He doesn’t seem much hurt though.”

Captain Tarwell examined the pigeon carefully. Except for a slight head
wound, he could find no injury.

“It was the oil on his feathers that kept him from rising into the air
again,” he told the children. “When he fell or lighted on the pond, he
must have settled into a patch of oil. He’d have starved to death if we
hadn’t come along.”

Vevi was very pleased to have found Snow White again. She wanted to
take the pigeon to Starfish Cottage.

Captain Tarwell said they would carry the bird instead to Mr. Green’s
loft. “It won’t be much out of our way,” he declared.

When the children and Captain Tarwell arrived at the pigeon loft twenty
minutes later, Mr. Green was very busy. He was working on his records
which he said were not being kept up properly.

“I need a likely boy to help me,” he told Captain Tarwell. “Know of
anyone who would like a job?”

“How about Jamie here?” asked the captain, half seriously and half in
jest.

“I’d like to work with pigeons!” exclaimed Jamie. “How much will you
pay, Mr. Green?”

The pigeon cote owner did not answer the question. He looked Jamie over
carefully.

“You’re too young,” he said finally. Then, seeing how disappointed
Jamie looked, he added: “But I’ll think it over. Come around in a day
or two.”

Mr. Green had not seemed very pleased to have the lost carrier pigeon
returned to the loft.

“That bird is worthless,” he declared impatiently. “I’m through
bothering with it. Or feeding it either!”

“Won’t you give Snow White another chance?” Vevi pleaded. “He couldn’t
rise from the water no matter how hard he tried. His wings were all
coated with oil when Jamie rescued him.”

“I know,” agreed Mr. Green. “But if it isn’t one thing, its another.
White birds are more subject to attack than pigeons of another color.
This bird isn’t strong enough to be a valuable racer. So I’ll cull it
out.”

“Don’t do that,” pleaded Vevi quickly. “Give the bird to me.”

“You’re welcome to it. But where will you keep the pigeon?”

Vevi knew that Mrs. Williams and Miss Gordon would not want her to have
it at the cottage.

“I can give you a cage for it,” Mr. Green offered. “And enough feed to
last a week. I’m warning you though, a bird is a lot of work.”

Captain Tarwell told Vevi that she might keep the cage in the yard of
the ship cottage.

“For a few days, that is,” he added. “By that time you’ll tire of
looking after the pigeon and be willing to let it fly away.”

“Oh, no!” protested Vevi. “I’ll never want to give up Snow White.”

“If you decide to let the bird go, I hope it doesn’t fly back here,”
spoke up Mr. Green.

After watching the pigeon cote owner feed some of his birds, Captain
Tarwell and the children walked back to the ship cottage.

They found a sheltered place for the cage, and after feeding and
watering the bird, left it there.

“I’m afraid Snow White will be lonesome,” Vevi said anxiously.

“I come here often,” the captain reassured her. “I’ll look in now
and then to see how he’s doing. I’m not worried about the bird being
lonesome. I’m more afraid he’ll be chilled. Pigeons need a warm, snug
nest.”

The trio walked on down the road toward the beach. A breeze was blowing
off the sea, sending in long, rolling waves.

“Lots of white horses today,” remarked the captain.

Vevi didn’t know what he meant until he told her that whitecaps on the
waves were called white horses in seamen’s slang.

“A large wave is a smokehouse,” he explained. “The long rolling ones
are beachcombers. That little wave over by the pier is a white nose.”

Vevi turned her head to see the wave the captain had pointed out. The
little “white nose” snubbed itself against the post of the pier and
vanished even as she watched.

At the shore end of the pier where a long line of cars had been parked,
a crowd had gathered. Amid the throng, Vevi saw Miss Gordon and
several of the Brownies.

“Why, what is everyone doing there?” she asked quickly. “Maybe there’s
been an accident!”

“Something does seem to be wrong,” agreed the captain.

Vevi and Jamie raced on ahead of him to learn why such a large crowd
had gathered.

Nearing the pier, they met Jane and Connie coming along the beach.

“Has there been an accident?” Vevi asked the two Brownies.

“That’s what we want to find out,” Connie answered.

The four children hastened on, reaching the end of the pier where so
many grownups had gathered. In the center of the crowd they saw a
middle-aged woman in a white suit talking excitedly to the lifeguard,
Barney Fulsom.

“It happened while I was in the little curio shop,” she told the guard.
“Why, I wasn’t gone ten minutes. When I came out, I saw a man walking
away from the car. I thought nothing of it until I discovered that the
glove compartment had been opened.”

“What was taken, Mrs. Allison?” the guard asked her.

“My coin purse. I shouldn’t have left it there with the car
unlocked--that I realize. But I barely turned my back.”

“How much did you lose, Mrs. Allison?”

“A ten dollar bill and odd change. The little purse was brown leather
set off with gold initials A.W.A.”

By this time Vevi, Connie, Jane and Jamie had drawn in close to hear
what was being said. Also in the crowd were Mrs. Williams, Miss Gordon,
Sunny and Rosemary.

“I’m certain it was a man in black bathing trunks and light brown sweat
shirt who took the purse,” Mrs. Allison continued. “At least I saw him
walking away from the car. He mingled with the other bathers and I lost
sight of him.”

The life guard was quite disturbed about the theft. Even though Mrs.
Allison had left her car unlocked, he felt partly responsible.

“I watch as carefully as I can,” he said. “Lately several persons have
reported losses. We can’t seem to snare the thief.”

“After this, I’ll park my car elsewhere,” Mrs. Allison declared. “I’ll
swim at the hotel beach too. I’ve heard others say that one can’t sea
bathe here without running the risk of losing anything left loose on
the beach. It’s true, apparently.”

Very annoyed by the loss of her purse, the woman climbed into her car
and drove away.

Barney walked among the bathers, searching for a man in black trunks
and brown sweat shirt.

“It’s no use,” he told Miss Gordon and the Brownies a little later.
“Even if I found the fellow, I couldn’t accuse him, having no proof.
But unless I can put an end to these thefts, the beach will lose all
its customers.”

“It’s not your fault,” Mrs. Williams commented.

“No, but the management holds me responsible. I have an idea who may be
breaking into the cars, but it’s only a theory. A wild one at that.”

“Is it anyone you know?” asked Connie, who had been listening hard.

“Some one I know very well,” replied the lifeguard. “I can’t convince
myself that my suspicion could be true. And yet, Mrs. Allison’s remark
about the black trunks and brown sweat shirt set me to thinking. Many
bathers wear black trunks. But I know of only one hereabouts who has a
brown sweat shirt.”

“Who is he?” demanded Vevi, fairly overcome by curiosity.

Barney however, would not mention a name.

“I’m not sure that I have the right slant on the situation,” he
replied. “It would be unfair and unwise to accuse anyone without
absolute proof. What I must do is keep closer watch than ever of this
beach.”

“The thief may over-step himself,” remarked Miss Gordon.

“The Brownies will help you watch the beach,” eagerly offered Vevi.
“Jamie will too, won’t you?”

Now Barney Fulsom had forgotten that the little boy was standing close
by. He turned quickly toward him as did all the Brownies. Everyone was
surprised to see that the youngster appeared very disturbed.

“You’ll help, won’t you, Jamie?” Vevi repeated her question.

The boy stared at her a moment as if he had not heard.

“I--I won’t be here much longer,” he mumbled at last. “I’m going to run
away. I’ve made up my mind!”

And with that, he turned and ran off down the beach.



CHAPTER 13

JAMIE’S PRESENT


Next morning after the Brownies had swept the cottages and washed the
dishes, Miss Gordon announced that she had a delightful surprise.

“Another beach picnic?” guessed Rosemary.

“A treasure hunt?” laughed Sunny.

Miss Gordon smiled and shook her head. Both guesses had been incorrect.

“I know!” cried Vevi. “We’re all going to the pond to search for
Clover, the turtle!”

“We’re hiking in that direction, but not to the pond. Captain Tarwell
has given us permission to visit the ship cabin. We’ll have lunch
there, using the outdoor grill for cooking.”

“I’ve been there a lot of times already,” said Vevi, a trifle
disappointed by the announcement. “Now if he would only give us the
key--”

“But he has,” explained the Brownie Scout leader. “I was very much
surprised. Captain Tarwell came to see me last night. He said he’d
been thinking matters over and had decided that he was being selfish
never to allow anyone to use the cottage. We’re to have use of it as
long as we’re at Silver Beach.”

“May we hold our exhibition of sea shells there?” asked Connie eagerly.

“Yes, indeed. If we like, we may stay overnight too, using the bunks.
Of course that would mean taking in considerable bedding.”

“I wouldn’t mind!” declared Jane. “I think it would be fun!”

“Captain Tarwell made one stipulation,” Miss Gordon warned the girls.
“We must be very careful not to damage anything in the cottage. Or to
disturb any of the possessions there.”

“The Bible?” asked Connie.

“The captain didn’t mention that specifically. But he probably had it
in mind.”

“We won’t hurt anything,” Sunny declared, speaking for all the Brownies.

Jane demanded to know how soon they could start for the cottage.

“As soon as we can assemble the makings of a lunch. If everyone
works fast, it shouldn’t take long.” Each Brownie was assigned to a
particular task. Connie buttered rolls. Miss Gordon looked after the
things which would be needed to cook outdoors. Jane and Sunny filled
the thermos bottles with milk. Vevi was sent to the corner grocery
store to buy an additional supply of paper plates and napkins.

“Do hurry dear,” Mrs. Williams advised her. “Everything will be ready
by the time you return.”

“Don’t poke along as you sometimes do,” Jane called from the kitchen.
“Get a move on!”

Vevi made up her mind not to keep anyone waiting. So she walked as fast
she could to the store. She bought the paper plates and napkins, and
remembered to pick up the change.

On the way back to the cottage she decided to take a short cut along
the beach. As she walked, she kept looking down at the sand, hoping
she’d find a pretty shell for the exhibition the Brownies were to have.

She was so intent upon the search that she did not see a man in black
bathing trunks coming toward her. When she glanced up she was nearly
face to face with the lifeguard, Raymond Curry.

Vevi would have walked past him without saying a word had he not
stopped her with a question.

“Have you seen my son anywhere this morning?” he asked.

“Jamie?” Vevi shook her head. “I haven’t been up very long though.”

“When did you see him last?”

Vevi thought it odd that the lifeguard should ask so many questions.

“Why, I saw Jamie late yesterday afternoon,” she replied, thinking
hard. “He ran off after a car was broken into.”

“Did Jamie--say anything? About running away, that is?”

“Why, yes he did. But I don’t think he meant it.”

“He meant it,” the lifeguard replied. “Jamie never came home at all
last night. I got in late myself and didn’t look in his bed until this
morning when it was time to call him to get up. The bed wasn’t slept
in.”

Vevi was shocked to hear that Jamie actually had carried out his
threat. Mr. Curry, she thought, had never shown much interest in his
son.

“My mother always tucks me into bed at night. That is, when I’m home,”
she said. “Don’t you even say good night to Jamie before you go to
sleep?”

“Jamie’s too old to be tucked into bed,” answered the guard. “I’m not
worried that he won’t come back in a day or so. The thing is, I’d
intended to leave town and take him with me. Now I’m in a spot.”

Mr. Curry seemed to be thinking aloud, scarcely aware of Vevi’s
presence. In a moment he started on down the beach.

“If you see Jamie anywhere, let me know,” he flung over his shoulder.

By the time Vevi reached Starfish Cottage all the lunch baskets had
been packed. The Brownies were in the yard, impatiently waiting.

“It took you long enough!” Jane greeted her. “Did you bring the paper
plates?”

Vevi held up the package. “I hurried as fast as I could,” she said
breathlessly. “Mr. Curry stopped me for a minute to ask me about his
son.”

“What about him?” Jane demanded.

“He’s run away again.”

All the Brownies gathered close to hear what had happened. Mrs.
Williams and Miss Gordon were especially disturbed by the news.

“Jamie seems so unhappy and upset,” remarked Connie’s mother. “I knew
yesterday that something was dreadfully wrong.”

“He and his father seem to have no understanding of each other,” agreed
the Brownie leader. “I do hope the boy is found soon.” Jamie slipped
from everyone’s thoughts as a start was made for the ship cabin in
the hills. Miss Gordon drove slowly so that the girls might enjoy the
beautiful view of the ocean front from the higher level.

Presently, the car came within view of the little cottage. Miss Gordon
parked just off the highway and the girls walked the remainder of the
way, carrying the lunch baskets.

“It’s really almost the same as our cottage now!” declared Vevi,
prancing up the path. “I guess it was lucky Connie and I lost ourselves
that day in the fog!”

Miss Gordon unlocked the front door with the key Captain Tarwell had
given her.

“Now remember,” she cautioned the Brownies. “We mustn’t disturb
anything. But we’re free to use this cottage as a meeting place while
we’re at Silver Beach. We can have our exhibition of shells here too.”

The girls moved from room to room, admiring the clever carpenter work.
Rosemary noticed that the floors were all pegged instead of having been
nailed together.

“Want to see the old Bible?” Connie asked the other Brownies. “With
the notation about Captain Tarwell’s son?”

The girls all were eager to read what had been written so many years
before. However, when Connie searched for the Bible she could not find
it.

“I guess Captain Tarwell must have taken it away,” she said at last.
“He probably didn’t want strangers reading about his son being lost at
sea.”

Miss Gordon, Vevi and Jane had wandered on into the tiny kitchen. It
had been built very neatly with high shelves on three of the walls. The
stove was an old fashioned wood burner.

The Brownie Scout leader noticed at once that wood had been burned
there recently. When she touched one of the stove lids it was faintly
warm.

“Captain Tarwell may have been here last night,” she remarked. “He
likely burned a little wood to take off the chill.”

“Someone slept here again too,” Connie declared. She had noticed a
mussed blanket lying on a bunk in an adjoining room.

“That’s odd,” remarked Miss Gordon. “Captain Tarwell has a very
comfortable room at Silver Beach. I shouldn’t think he would care to
stay here at night.” “Especially when the cottage is so dusty,” added
Vevi. “I don’t think it was Captain Tarwell at all!”

“It may have been the same person who was in the cottage that day of
the fog!” added Connie. “But who was he?”

As the Brownies went from room to room they found other evidence that
someone had been there ahead of them.

Dried bread crumbs had been left on the top of the kitchen table. On
the floor near the wall bunk Connie discovered muddy shoe tracks.

“Why, these prints are no larger than if I’d made them myself!” she
exclaimed. “They’re much too small to have been made by Captain
Tarwell’s shoes!”

Miss Gordon and Mrs. Williams were inclined to agree with Vevi and
Connie that someone other than the captain had been making use of the
cabin.

“Whoever the person is, I hope he does no damage here,” Miss Gordon
said anxiously. “If Captain Tarwell is unaware his cottage is being
used, he might blame the Brownies for anything amiss.”

Although the cottage had been kept locked, an extra key had been left
hidden beneath the shingle by the front door. Vevi and Connie thought
Captain Tarwell was taking risks in leaving it there.

“This place is too dirty,” declared Rosemary. “Let’s clean it up for
Captain Tarwell.”

“I had intended to suggest that very thing,” said Miss Gordon. “In
fact, you’ll find a broom, dustpan and dusting cloths in the car. I
also brought window cleaning spray if anyone feels industrious.”

“I’ll help dust!” Sunny offered quickly.

“I’ll sweep,” volunteered Connie.

Jane said she would dust also, which left Rosemary and Vevi to
volunteer for the window washing job.

“I have to see about my pigeon,” Vevi suddenly recalled. “I’ll bet he
hasn’t had anything to eat or drink yet today.”

“You thought that up to get out of work!” Jane accused. “You don’t want
to wash windows.”

“Vevi will have time to feed the pigeon while Mrs. Williams is bringing
the cleaning things from the car,” Miss Gordon said. “Let’s all see how
Vevi’s bird is getting along.”

The Brownies trooped out of the cottage into the yard. Vevi was
relieved to see the pigeon cage where it had been left in a sheltered
place.

“Why, someone already has fed Snow White!” she exclaimed.

“This morning too,” agreed Connie, noticing the uneaten grain in the
pigeon’s basket.

“It must have been Captain Tarwell,” declared Sunny. “He probably was
afraid you’d forget to look after the bird, Vevi.”

Now Miss Gordon knew that Captain Tarwell had not been at the ship
cottage that morning. She had talked with him on the beach shortly
after breakfast. However, she did not mention this to the Brownies.

Vevi removed Snow White from his wicker cage, gently stroking his
glossy feathers.

“He needs exercise,” she remarked. “But if I let him fly free, he might
return to Mr. Green’s loft.”

“No chance of that!” teased Jane. “He’d just get lost again.”

Miss Gordon remarked that she did not know what to do about Vevi’s
bird. The Brownies soon would be leaving Silver Beach to return to
their homes at Rosedale. She did not think Vevi’s mother would want the
little girl to bring a carrier pigeon with her.

“We must try to find a good home for the bird,” she declared. “We can’t
keep it here at the cottage more than another day. The pigeon shouldn’t
be so closely confined. Besides, it needs a warmer place.”

“Couldn’t we keep it inside the cottage?” Vevi suggested. “It would be
warm there.”

“No, dear,” Miss Gordon replied firmly. “Captain Tarwell would not want
a pigeon flying around in his house. Of that I am certain. If Mr. Green
won’t take the bird back, we must find a new home for it or let it go
free.”

“A hawk might get him,” Vevi said, close to tears. “I want to keep Snow
White.”

Miss Gordon merely shook her head and said no more. Vevi understood
though, that when the time came she would have to let the pigeon go.

“Don’t you mind, Snow White,” she whispered to the bird. “I’ll find
someone who will want you. I promise.”

“Say, what’s this over here in the bucket?” Connie suddenly demanded.

She had wandered over to the back of the ship cottage, noticing a tin
pail which someone had placed there. A board half-covered the top.

As Connie curiously lifted off the board, a piece of paper fell from
it to the ground. Seeing that something had been written on the torn
sheet, she dropped the board and picked up the paper. “Why, it’s
addressed to Vevi!” she cried. “A note!”

“A note for me?” demanded Vevi very much surprised.

Forgetting Snow White, she hastily thrust the pigeon back in his basket.

“What does it say?” she questioned, running over to where Connie stood.

“It’s very poor writing,” Connie replied, trying hard to make out
the words. “All it says is, ‘For Vevi and the Brownies.’ It’s signed
‘Jamie.’”

“What has he left for us?” Vevi asked. “Is the present in that pail?”

“It’s something alive,” declared Rosemary, joining the group of
Brownies.

The girls peered down into the pail which was three-quarters filled
with water. A turtle was swimming slowly around.

“Jamie calls that a present!” scoffed Jane in disappointment.

“But it is!” cried Vevi. “It’s a wonderful gift! Just look at that old
turtle’s shell. See what’s painted on it!”

“C-L-O-V-E-R,” Rosemary spelled out the yellow letters.

“The fastest turtle at Silver Beach!” Vevi laughed in sheer delight.
“Now the Brownies will be able to enter the race at the hotel Saturday!
With Clover we can’t lose!”



CHAPTER 14

HIDDEN IN THE SAND


Vevi lifted the snapping turtle out of water and set him on the ground.

He started off as fast as he could toward the road.

“Look at him go!” shouted Vevi. “Why, he must be the fastest turtle in
the world!”

“He’ll be gone if you don’t catch him,” Connie warned.

Vevi quickly ran after Clover. When she tried to pick him up he snapped
at her.

“Do be careful, Vevi,” Miss Gordon warned anxiously. “He seems to be a
very lively fellow.”

“I know how to handle him. He can’t bite if I hold him right.”

Vevi pretended that she wasn’t a bit afraid of the turtle.
Nevertheless, she dropped him as quickly as she could back into the
pail of water.

“Isn’t Jamie the little boy who ran away from home?” remarked Miss
Gordon thoughtfully. “He must have been here since his father
discovered him missing.”

“Maybe he slept in the bunk last night,” suggested Connie. “And ate his
sandwiches on the kitchen table.”

“The boy certainly has been here,” Miss Gordon agreed. “He may return.
His father must be notified as soon as we return to Silver Beach.”

Vevi felt sorry that Jamie would get into trouble because of the
turtle. She realized though, that he had made a serious mistake in
running away from home.

“Let’s forget pets for awhile and clean up the cottage,” Miss Gordon
proposed briskly. “After that we’ll cook lunch.”

The girls went to work with a will. Vevi and Rosemary washed the
windows, polishing them until they shone like diamonds. By the time
they had finished, the other Brownies had made the inside of the
cottage spic and span.

“How nice everything looks now!” exclaimed Rosemary, gazing about
proudly. “I should think Captain Tarwell would want to live here
instead of in a stuffy old room.”

With work out of the way, Miss Gordon built a fire in the outdoor
fireplace overlooking the cliffs. Soon the air became fragrant with
the odor of sizzling hamburgers.

“I’m starved,” Vevi announced, hovering over the frying pan. “I could
eat six of ’em myself.”

Lunch finally was ready. The girls made their own sandwiches and sat
down on the grass to eat them. From the high cliff, they could see the
ocean, the beach and the yacht club basin.

Presently, it was time to leave. Vevi took a last look at her pigeon
and turtle while Miss Gordon locked up the cottage.

“We must tell Captain Tarwell that someone besides ourselves has been
here,” the Brownie Scout leader remarked.

As soon as the group reached Starfish Cottage, Miss Gordon took Vevi,
Connie and Sunny with her and went in search of both Mr. Curry and the
old sea captain.

At the hotel where the lifeguard worked, the teacher was informed that
he had not been seen that day. Although he regularly was assigned to
guard the bathing beach, he had failed to appear for work.

Nor could Miss Gordon find Captain Tarwell. However, later in the
day as she searched with Connie for shells, Vevi spied the elderly
gentleman taking his daily stroll along the beach.

“Captain Tarwell!” she shouted, running toward him.

“Blow me down!” he greeted her with a friendly chuckle.

“Captain Tarwell, the Brownies were at your cottage today!” Vevi
informed him breathlessly. “We cleaned it for you.”

“Why, that’s fine, splendid, Vevi.”

“Someone had fed my pigeon, Captain Tarwell. Was it you?”

“Not I,” returned the captain. “Fact is, I haven’t been up to the
cottage this day. On my way now.”

“Did you know someone slept in the cottage last night?”

“What makes you think that, Vevi?”

“Because the bunk had been used. And there were crumbs on the kitchen
table. If you weren’t at the cabin, then it must have been--”

“Don’t give it any thought,” broke in the captain before Vevi could
finish what she had intended to say. “Let me worry about the house.”

“Then you knew someone was staying there?” Vevi asked quickly. “You
told him he could?”

“No! No!” exclaimed the captain. He spoke rather impatiently. “Please
don’t worry about it, Vevi. And please don’t talk about it--to others,
I mean.”

“About anyone staying at the cabin, you mean?” Vevi could not
understand why the captain seemed so annoyed.

“There are some things I can’t tell you about,” Captain Tarwell said.
“You wouldn’t understand, and other folks might not either. Just enjoy
the use of the cottage.”

Then, as if afraid that Vevi might ask other questions, the old seaman
walked on down the beach.

It was time for the Brownies’ swimming lesson, so Vevi ran home to
Starfish Cottage to change into her bathing suit.

“You’re late,” Connie greeted her as she ran across the sand. “Mr.
Fulsom started in early and we’re all through now.”

“It’s getting too cold to swim anyhow,” said Vevi. “I’d rather play in
the sand. I’m going to hunt for Miss Gordon’s lost wrist watch.”

“You’re silly,” said Jane, who came splashing out of the waves in time
to hear the remark. “You know very well that Miss Gordon’s watch was
stolen. So how could you hope to find it in the sand?”

“Maybe it wasn’t stolen. We don’t know that it was. Anyhow, it won’t do
any harm to look for it.”

Vevi sat down and began to dig sand into her pail.

“You’re not even sitting where Miss Gordon lost her watch,” Jane went
on. “You’ll never find anything there--or anywhere.”

“Oh, won’t I?”

With a shriek of triumph Vevi pounced upon something in the sand.

“What did you find?” Jane demanded coming quickly over to see.

“A penny!”

“And you get excited over that!” scoffed Jane.

“Maybe I’ll find more money.” Vevi began throwing up sand at a furious
rate.

Seeing her so hard at work, the other Brownies came hurrying up to
learn why she was so excited.

“You’re wasting your time, Vevi,” Jane insisted. “One could hunt all
day and never find any more money.”

“Oh, is that so?” Laughing gleefully, Vevi held up another copper she
had discovered in the sand.

This second discovery fired all the Brownies with a fever to search for
coins. Miss Gordon and Mrs. Williams stood nearby, smiling as they
watched the children.

Only a short time before they had observed Captain Tarwell place a few
coins along the beach where he knew the Brownies would play. He had
thought that a treasure hunt would be good fun for the girls.

“Here’s a nickel!” suddenly cried Sunny. “I’m rich!”

Connie found a penny. By now, everyone was digging, even Jane.

Then a long while went by without any of the Brownies turning up a
coin. The beach became dotted with little holes and mounds of sand.

“I’m getting tired,” sighed Rosemary. “I don’t think we’ll find any
more money.”

Miss Gordon told the girls that they must level off the holes before
leaving the beach. Jane, Connie and Rosemary began to smooth out the
sand immediately. Vevi and Sunny kept digging, hoping to find another
coin or two.

“Was it Captain Tarwell who hid the money for us?” guessed Vevi.

“Yes, dear,” Miss Gordon replied. “He’s enjoyed watching the Brownies
and talking to them since they’ve been at Silver Beach.”

“Are there any more coins?” inquired Sunny.

“I think you’ve found most of them now. There may be another penny or
two.”

“I’m quitting,” announced Sunny, brushing sand from her hands.

“So am I,” agreed Vevi with a tired sigh. “Anyway, I have two pennies.
And it was fun.”

“Don’t forget to smooth out all the holes you have made,” the Brownie
Scout leader reminded her. “We owe it to Mr. Fulsom to keep the beach
looking nice.”

Vevi began to shovel sand back into the holes. It was nearly as much
fun filling them up as it had been searching for the coins. The others
finished ahead of her.

“Hurry up, pokey,” Jane urged her. “It’s time to get dressed.”

“I’m hurrying,” sighed Vevi.

She had one more hole to fill. She shoveled sand into it, patting it
down with her hands. Then because the hole still wasn’t quite filled,
she reached for a little more sand.

As she dug down with her shovel, the edge struck a soft object.

Vevi thought she had uncovered a wadded up handkerchief or a piece of
cloth. But as she pulled the article out of the sand, she saw that it
was neither.

“See what I’ve found now!” she shouted. “An old faded purse! One with
gold initials on it!”



CHAPTER 15

A FACE AT THE WINDOW


Hearing Vevi shout that she had found something in the sand, the other
Brownies quickly gathered about her.

“Why it _is_ a purse!” exclaimed Connie in astonishment. “It’s been on
the beach several days too, because it’s water stained!”

“What are the initials on it?” Sunny asked, trying to make them out.

“A-W-A,” Vevi read the letters. “Or maybe its A-M-A.”

“No, it’s A-W-A,” Jane decided. “Say! This pocketbook must belong to
Mrs. Allison!”

“That’s right,” agreed Rosemary. “I think her first name is Alice. She
lost a purse. Or at least it was stolen from her car.”

By this time, Mrs. Williams and Miss Gordon had joined the group. They
too, were very much interested in the purse and agreed that it might
indeed belong to Mrs. Allison.

“Maybe the money she lost is still here!” Vevi declared. She felt quite
pleased with herself for having made such an important discovery.

“Open it and see,” urged Jane impatiently. “Or hand it over to me.”

Vevi unfastened the zipper which was clogged with sand. Inside was a
smaller coin purse, a comb and a vanity case. In addition, there were
four keys on a metal ring.

“There’s no money here,” Vevi reported, opening the coin container.
“Not a penny.”

“Mrs. Allison lost ten dollars,” Connie recalled. “But the purse was
taken from her car. How did it get here in the sand?”

Miss Gordon told the Brownies it was her theory that the thief had
discarded the pocketbook. After taking it from Mrs. Allison’s car, he
had kept the money, throwing the purse away.

“I’d return it to the lady, Vevi,” Mrs. Williams suggested. “Even
though the purse is ruined, the vanity case isn’t tarnished. Besides,
the keys will be needed.”

“I’ll take it to her just as soon as I get dressed,” Vevi promised.
“My, I’m good at finding things! I wish I could find your wristwatch,
Miss Gordon!”

“I wish you could too, dear,” smiled the Brownie leader. “However, I
never expect to see the watch again. I’m sure it was stolen by the same
person who’s been breaking into cars. Even if the watch were found in
the sand, it would be ruined after all this time.”

The Brownies soon ran to the beach house to take showers and dress.
Vevi and Connie were the first ones to finish wringing out their suits.

“Let’s take the purse to Mrs. Allison now,” Vevi proposed to her little
friend. “I know where she lives.”

“So do I,” agreed Connie. “She has a place right on the water.”

Miss Gordon and Mrs. Williams told the girls they might go, but not to
be gone long.

Mrs. Allison’s rented house was on Flower Street overlooking the bay.
All along the wharf sailboats and cruisers had been tied up. Gulls and
terns were flying about, now and then alighting on the water or diving
into it in search of food.

“That’s Mrs. Allison’s house,” Connie said, pointing to a two-story
building which extended out a short distance into the water.

“And it must be her boat tied up beside it!” added Vevi.

The craft which had drawn her gaze was a large cabin cruiser of
mahogany. In the sunlight the brasswork gleamed like pure gold.

“My I’d like to take a ride in that boat!” Vevi said wistfully,
“wouldn’t it be fun?”

“I wish all the Brownies could go for a spin,” Connie replied.

A plank walk led from shore out over the water to the side of the
house. A railing guarded it so that one could not fall.

Before knocking on the door, the children paused to gaze again at the
beautiful cruiser. The name “Adventurer” had been painted on it in gold
letters. As the waves lolloped gently against the wharf, the boat rose
up and down as if it were breathing.

“Let’s climb down there and look at it,” Vevi proposed. “I’d like to
see the inside of the cabin.”

“Oh, no!” Connie protested firmly. “It wouldn’t be polite.”

She rapped on the door. Almost at once it was opened by the same lady
the children had seen many times on the beach. She was wearing a
housedress this time and looked different.

“We’ve found your purse,” Connie told her quickly. “Or rather, Vevi
did.”

“But the money’s gone,” Vevi added.

“Why, that is the pocketbook that was taken from my parked car!” Mrs.
Allison exclaimed as she saw the faded cloth.

Vevi and Connie told her how they had chanced to come upon the purse
buried in the sand.

“It doesn’t matter about the money,” the lady assured them. “I’m happy
though, to recover my keys. Wait here, please.”

Leaving the door open, Mrs. Allison went back into the house. When she
returned a moment later, she had another pocketbook in her hand.

“I can’t thank you enough for finding my keys,” she said. “Please
accept this for your trouble.”

She offered the girls a dollar bill.

“Oh, no!” exclaimed Connie, moving back a step. “We couldn’t take it.”

“We’re Brownie Scouts,” explained Vevi. “Our motto is ‘HOP.’”

“That means, ‘Help Other People,’” explained Connie. “We were glad to
help you.”

“I see,” smiled Mrs. Allison, putting away her money. “Well, I
certainly appreciate the trouble you’ve gone to in bringing my purse
here. Won’t you come in for awhile?”

“Miss Gordon told us not to stay,” Connie replied reluctantly.

“It must be fun living right on the water,” Vevi remarked, unwilling to
leave so soon.

“One always has a cool breeze here,” Mrs. Allison returned.

“And you can step right into your boat,” added Vevi. “I’ll bet that
would be exciting. If I lived here, I’d go for a boat ride every day.”

Mrs. Allison seemed to guess that Vevi was hinting she would like to go
for a spin in the _Adventure_, for she asked:

“Would you children care to ride in my boat sometime?”

“Oh, yes!” cried Vevi. “When?”

“Not this afternoon, I’m afraid,” the lady replied regretfully. “My
husband isn’t here and I hesitate to take the boat out alone. Perhaps
we could make it Saturday.”

“Saturday would be fine!” exclaimed Vevi. “Only we’re entering our
turtle in the race that day.”

“And the Brownie Scouts may go on a hike in the afternoon,” added
Connie.

Mrs. Allison said that Monday or Tuesday would be equally satisfactory.

“We may not be here then,” Vevi told her. “Our vacation is almost over.
All the Brownies must return to Rosedale soon. I think we’re starting
back Monday.”

“And we do want to ride in your beautiful boat,” Connie declared
earnestly. “It would be more fun than anything we’ve done.”

Mrs. Allison asked the children about the time of the turtle race and
the hike.

“I know!” she exclaimed. “If you can get up early, we’ll go for a
before-breakfast spin. My husband and I will serve breakfast on the
boat.”

“Oh, grand!” laughed Connie. “What time shall we come?”

Mrs. Allison asked if seven o’clock would be too early.

“We can get here even earlier,” Connie promised.

“Seven will be early enough,” Mrs. Allison smiled. “You may bring your
other friends too, if you like.”

“All the Brownies?” Vevi questioned.

“Yes, and your leaders. We’ll make a party of it.”

“We’ll all be here,” Connie promised.

“By the way, on Saturday the boat probably will be tied up near the
pier,” Mrs. Allison said. “So instead of coming here, come to Wharf 5.
Do you know where it is?”

“Oh, yes,” Vevi assured her. “Anyway, we know the boat and its name.
We’ll be there.”

“Seven o’clock,” Mrs. Allison reminded them again.

Thrilled by the invitation, Vevi and Connie ran back to the cottage to
tell the other Brownies of the wonderful outing awaiting them.

“Why, that will make a very nice climax to our vacation,” Miss Gordon
declared. “We’ll enjoy the boat ride in the morning. In the afternoon
we’ll watch the turtle race. Sunday we’ll have an all-day exhibition of
our shells at the ship cottage. Then Monday morning we start for home.”

“Don’t mention that part,” groaned Sunny. “We never want to leave
Silver Beach.”

“Not without catching that thief who took your wrist watch,” added
Jane. “Can’t we stay just a few days longer?”

“I’m afraid not,” Miss Gordon smiled. “All good things come to an end,
you know. But let’s enjoy to the full these last few days.”

“I know one thing I’m going to do before we leave,” Vevi announced
mysteriously. “What?” demanded Jane.

“I’m not telling,” Vevi laughed. “It has something to do with turtles
though.”

Now the little girl had been very much interested in Captain Tarwell’s
story of how huge sea turtles came up on the beach to lay their eggs.
Before she left Silver Beach, she very much wanted to see one of the
huge creatures. She had made up her mind that on Friday night, when the
moon was full, she would slip out of the cottage and watch. But she did
not tell anyone what she intended to do.

The next morning after breakfast while the other Brownies gathered
shells, Vevi and Connie walked to the ship cottage to feed the pets.

“Animals and birds are a lot of work,” Vevi sighed. “After tomorrow
I’ll let Snow White fly away. And as soon as Clover wins the race for
the Brownies I’ll put him back in the pond.”

“Maybe Clover won’t come in first,” Connie replied. “I hear some of
those hotel boys and girls have some fast turtles. Besides, Clover has
been cooped up too long.”

“He should have more exercise,” agreed Vevi, frowning. “It’s hard to
look after him properly when he’s here, and I’m at the cottage. But
I’ll give him a good work-out today.”

The little girl removed the cover from the dish pan. Clover was sitting
on a pile of wooden blocks which had been fixed for him. He stuck out
his head and snapped at Vevi when she poked a stick at him.

“He still has plenty of pep, Connie. I think he will win first place in
the race, don’t you?”

“I don’t know,” returned Connie. “But I’m sure of one thing.”

“What’s that?”

“Someone has been taking care of him for you. See! The water has been
changed and he’s been fed too.”

“That’s so, Connie! Do you suppose Captain Tarwell did it?”

“Maybe, but I wouldn’t think he would want to walk so far uphill just
to feed a turtle or a pigeon.”

“Let’s look at Snow White,” Vevi proposed quickly.

The pigeon was in his wicker cage, pecking at a scattering of grain.

“See!” Connie exclaimed. “Snow White has been fed too.”

“Not very long ago either.”

“Then maybe Captain Tarwell is still here.”

Vevi glanced quickly toward the cottage. The front door was closed.

However, as she gazed toward one of the tiny porthole windows which
overlooked the back yard, she was startled to see someone standing
there inside the house.

For a moment a face was pressed against the thick pane of glass.

Even as Vevi stared, it was withdrawn. For a second, she was a little
confused. Had she really seen a face or had she imagined it?

“Someone’s watching us from the house!” Connie exclaimed. She too had
seen the shadowy face.

“It wasn’t Captain Tarwell,” whispered Vevi. “It was someone else.”

“Someone we both know,” added Connie. She had seen the face quite
plainly. “I don’t think he has any right to be here either. Let’s find
out about it, Vevi!”



CHAPTER 16

A MOONLIGHT SWIM


Connie started directly for the front door of the ship cabin. Vevi
followed close behind, though she was a trifle nervous.

“Aren’t you afraid to walk in there?” she whispered. “We don’t know who
may be hiding inside.”

“I know!” Connie answered. “At least I think I do. Captain Tarwell gave
us permission to be here. So we have a right to go inside if the door
is unlocked.”

At the front entrance to the cottage the two children paused to listen.
The door was slightly ajar. But they could not hear anyone moving about
inside.

Vevi pounded on the door and called: “Is that you, Captain Tarwell?”

There was no answer. But the girls were certain they heard someone
tiptoeing away from the front room.

“Someone is hiding in there!” Connie said grimly.

“Let’s not go inside,” Vevi murmured, holding back.

“You may stay here if you like,” Connie answered. “I’m going in.
Captain Tarwell would want us to find out who is sneaking in and out of
his cottage.”

“Maybe he already knows, Connie. He acted funny when I tried to tell
him about it.”

Connie paid no heed to Vevi’s protests. She turned the knob, slowly
pushing open the door.

“Who’s there?” she called.

Her own voice echoed through the empty house, but there was no answer.

“I’ll go one way and you go the other,” she directed Vevi. “Then we’ll
be sure to catch him.”

Vevi did not want to set foot inside the cottage. She was unwilling,
though, to admit to Connie that she was afraid, so she reluctantly
followed her friend over the threshold.

“You go to the left and I’ll go to the right,” Connie instructed in a
whisper. “We’ll meet in the kitchen.”

Vevi’s heart began to pound as she tiptoed across the empty living
room. She reached the corridor opening into the kitchen just as Connie
entered it from the opposite direction.

“Ha!” cried Connie. “Just as I thought!”

Jamie Curry stood there in his faded jeans, fairly trapped. His hair
had not been combed and his eyes were red from lack of sleep.

“So you’re the one who has been sneaking into Captain Tarwell’s
cottage!” accused Vevi.

“I am not either a sneak,” the boy denied.

“You were in here the day of the heavy fog,” Connie insisted. “When we
came in, you ran away.”

“All right, maybe I was here that day without permission. But that was
because the door was open.”

“Captain Tarwell put a new lock on,” Vevi reminded him.

“And he knows I’m sleeping here too,” Jamie insisted stubbornly. “It’s
the only place I have to stay.”

Jamie’s face puckered up and the girls thought he was going to cry. He
fought back the tears and said defiantly:

“Girls are tattle tales. I suppose you’ll run to my father and tell him
you saw me here.”

“You shouldn’t have run away,” Connie replied severely. “Your father
has been trying to find you. You must go back home.”

Jamie thrust his feet apart, glaring at the two girls.

“Not on your life!” he announced. “I’ll never go back--not even if I
starve.”

“Does your father make you work too hard?” asked Vevi. “Is that why you
don’t want to go home?”

“No,” Jamie answered sullenly. “That’s not the reason.”

“Is he mean to you?”

“No-o,” Jamie replied, dragging out the word. “He treats me all right
most of the time.”

“Then what is wrong?”

“I can’t tell you,” the boy muttered. “Don’t ask me. Go away and leave
me alone.”

“We have a perfect right to be here,” Connie told him firmly. “Captain
Tarwell gave the Brownies permission to hold a shell exhibition here
Sunday. We’re going to fix up the cottage and invite a lot of people.”

“Then everyone will be coming here.” Jamie was aghast. “I won’t be able
to stay?”

“Not unless you want to be seen,” Connie informed him.

Jamie was silent awhile, thinking matters over.

“I won’t go back home,” he announced. “Mr. Green has promised me a job
at his pigeon loft. I start in there tomorrow morning. Maybe he will
let me sleep at his house.”

“Your father won’t like it,” Connie said severely. “We can’t promise
not to tell him we’ve seen you either.”

“Tell if you want to,” Jamie shrugged. “He can’t make me go back
because I know--”

The boy broke off quickly, acting as if he had said too much.

As Jamie started to leave, Vevi remembered to thank him for finding
Clover.

“It was nothing,” the boy answered. “I caught him easy. He ought to win
the race Saturday for the Brownies. Just be careful you don’t scare him
when you start him off.”

“I’ve never raced a turtle,” Vevi said anxiously. “Why don’t you come
and show me how?”

Jamie shook his head. “Turtle races are old stuff to me,” he said.
“Besides, I’m not going back. Goodbye.”

He moved off again, intending to leave.

“Jamie, it was you, wasn’t it, who fed Clover and Snow White?”

“Sure,” the boy admitted. “You didn’t want ’em to die, did you? I’ll
give you a tip. I won’t be here tonight, and it’s too cold outside for
your pigeon. Unless you want him to get sick, you’d better take him
somewhere that’s warm.”

Then, although Connie and Vevi tried to persuade Jamie to stay, he
sauntered off. The girls locked the cottage, hiding the key under the
shingle.

“We’ll have to take Snow White and Clover with us,” Vevi decided.

“I’ll carry Snow White’s cage,” Connie said quickly. “You look after
Clover.”

Vevi was a little afraid of the turtle, but she drained off all the
water in the pan and carried him in that. Clover did not like it very
well. He kept clawing at the sides of the container, trying to crawl
out.

At Starfish Cottage, Miss Gordon and Mrs. Williams were none too happy
to see the pets arrive. However, they said Vevi might keep the pigeon
over-night and the turtle until after the Saturday race.

“I hope Clover wins,” Vevi declared. “Just think of winning ten dollars
for the Brownies!”

“You haven’t won it yet,” Jane reminded her. “What time is the race?”

“Two o’clock.”

“How can you enter Clover in the race if the Brownies are going for a
ride in Mrs. Allison’s boat?”

“Oh, we’ll be back in plenty of time,” Vevi said. “The boat ride is at
seven.”

The Brownies’ vacation at Silver Beach fast was drawing to a close.
Everyone hated to leave, even Mrs. Williams and Miss Gordon. Vevi
especially, had a million things she wanted to do. And one in
particular.

Ever since the little girl had been told that giant turtles sometimes
came up on the beach at night to lay their eggs, she had wanted to view
the strange sight.

Starfish Cottage was only a few steps from the beach, so close that
Vevi could hear the roar of the surf. Often at night she would lie
awake in her bed, listening to the pounding of each wave on the sand.
Several times, when she was not too sleepy, she looked out the bedroom
window. But she never had seen even one of the huge turtles.

Now Vevi knew that if ever the big loggerheads came out of the sea it
would be on a moonlight night. On this particular evening the moon
would rise early. It would be a full one too, for she had heard Mrs.
Williams tell Sunny so.

As the afternoon wore on, Vevi became more and more quiet, thinking
over her plans.

“You’re not ill, are you, dear?” inquired Mrs. Williams.

“Oh, no! I feel fine!”

Vevi had made up her mind not to tell anyone of her plan to watch for
the big turtles.

After dinner, the Brownies all gathered for a songfest at Starfish
Cottage. Later, they arranged shells, printing cards for each one.

Vevi began to squirm restlessly.

“How long before we go to bed?” she asked, looking at the clock.

“Why, it’s only ten minutes after eight,” Rosemary protested. “You
don’t look a bit sleepy either, Vevi McGuire!”

“We have to get up early tomorrow for the boat ride,” Vevi answered
quickly.

“Yes, seven o’clock will be tapping on our door almost before we know
it,” Mrs. Williams agreed. “‘Early to bed, early to rise.’”

“This is the first time I ever heard Vevi ask to go to bed early,”
grumbled Jane.

Vevi paid no attention to the teasing of the other Brownies. After Mrs.
Williams had taken Jane, Rosemary and Sunny to Oriole Cottage, Vevi
undressed as fast as she could. Before she leaped into bed though, she
folded her clothes carefully, leaving them where they could be found
easily even in the dark.

It took Connie a long while to get ready for bed. She spent ten minutes
brushing her hair. Finally though, the light was turned out.

Vevi lay perfectly still, pretending to be asleep. At first she felt
very wide awake. The bed covers were pleasantly warm. The little girl
snuggled deeper into them, closing her eyes.

When she opened them again with a start, Vevi knew she had fallen
asleep by mistake. The bedroom she shared with Connie was very quiet.
In the next room Mrs. Williams was sleeping soundly. It was late, for
moonlight streamed in the open window.

Dismayed to have slept so long, Vevi crept from bed. Connie stirred but
did not awaken.

The bedroom floor was cold and a chill wind came in from the sea.

Her teeth chattering, Vevi put on all her clothes except her shoes.
Then she took a blanket from the bed, and wrapping it around her,
sat down by the window. From where she watched, Vevi could see a
long stretch of deserted beach. The sand gleamed ghostly white in the
moonlight. Not a person was astir.

“I wish the turtles would hurry and come,” Vevi thought. “I don’t want
to sit and wait all night.”

The little girl did not have a watch but she thought it must be at
least midnight. Only a few automobiles were parked along the beach
beside some of the cottages. Often renters who had no garages, left
them there all night.

Vevi kept her gaze on the roaring surf, watching the fringe of foam.
She began to feel very drowsy. Finally a shoe which she held in her
hand, slipped from her fingers. It struck the floor with a loud thump.

Hearing the noise, Connie sat up in bed. She rubbed her eyes. As the
cobwebs of sleep cleared away, she saw Vevi huddled in her blanket.

“Why, Vevi!” she exclaimed. “What are you doing out of bed?”

“Sh!” warned Vevi. “Don’t wake anyone. I’m watching for turtles.”

Connie threw off the covers and came over to the window.

“Vevi McGuire! You’re walking in your sleep!”

“I am not,” Vevi whispered hotly. “I’m not even sitting in my sleep.
I’m just watching.”

“You won’t be able to get up in time for the boat ride tomorrow,”
Connie predicted. “Get back into bed this minute.”

“But I want to see a big turtle lay its eggs on the beach.”

“You might watch all night and not see one, Vevi.”

“I s’pose so,” Vevi admitted unwillingly. Already she had grown tired
of sitting so long in a chair. “I’ll come to bed--say! What’s that?”

Greatly excited, she reached out in the darkness to grasp Connie’s hand.

Vevi’s sharp eyes had detected movement on the beach. A dark object had
emerged from the sea.

Connie began to giggle, smothering the sound with her hand.

“You think that’s a turtle?” she teased. “Why, it’s only a man swimming
in the ocean.”

By this time Vevi too was able to see that the dark object was a
bather. The man had come from the direction of the pier and now was
moving across the sand toward the row of cars.

“It’s Raymond Curry,” Connie recognized him. “Why does he swim so late
at night?”

“And on our beach instead of his own,” whispered Vevi. “He’s acting
awfully queer. Let’s watch and see where he goes.”



CHAPTER 17

MRS. ALLISON’S CRUISER


From the bedroom window, the children saw Raymond Curry walk directly
across the sand toward the roadway. His black bathing trunks were
dripping wet, but he did not seem to mind the chill air.

“What a funny time to swim,” Connie whispered. “It must be long after
midnight.”

“Everyone has gone from the beach too,” added Vevi.

The lifeguard had paused at the roadside where three or four cars had
been parked for the night. Vevi and Connie saw him glance up and down
the beach as if to see if anyone were watching.

Then, one by one, he began trying the car door handles to see if they
were unlocked.

“I guess he’s just checking the automobiles,” Connie said, losing
interest. She stiffled a yawn. “I’m going back to bed.”

“Wait!” Vevi commanded. “Why would Mr. Curry check automobiles at this
time of night?”

“It does seem queer, Vevi.”

“On Mr. Fulsom’s beach too. I think he’s trying to break in.”

“Mr. Curry?” Connie exclaimed in disbelief.

“Then maybe he’s trying to find his son,” Vevi speculated. “He may
think Jamie is sleeping in one of the parked cars.”

“That must be it,” Connie agreed, her mind relieved. “But he won’t find
Jamie here at the beach. If he didn’t go to Mr. Green’s place, he’s
still at the captain’s cottage.”

“We ought to tell Mr. Curry where he can find his son.”

“You mean now?”

“We may not see him tomorrow, Connie. We go boat riding so early. After
that, there’s the turtle race.”

“Maybe you’re right,” Connie agreed unwillingly.

“I’ll tell him now,” Vevi decided. “It will take only a minute. I hate
to go outdoors alone though.”

“I’ll dress and go with you,” Connie offered. “Help me find my shoes.”

In the dark bedroom the girls had to search for a minute or two before
they found all of Connie’s clothes. She dressed as fast as she could.
“Hurry!” Vevi urged. “Mr. Curry’s still trying car doors, but he’s
almost out of sight up the beach.”

“I’m hurrying as fast as I can,” Connie gasped. “My shoe strings are
all tied in knots.”

“Don’t bother about that. Unless we catch him right away, he’ll be
gone.”

“Shouldn’t we tell Mother we’re leaving the cottage?”

“No time,” Vevi insisted. “We’ll be back in a minute anyway. Come on.”

The two girls groped their way to the front door. It was locked.
However, the key was in the lock.

Vevi turned it as far as she could, but it seemed to be stuck.

“It won’t open, Connie.”

“Let me try, Vevi.”

Connie pushed hard on the key. At first she could not make it turn far
enough either. Then she gave the door a quick shove with her hip. The
jolt made the key click all the way over.

“There, it’s unlocked!” Connie exclaimed.

Shoving open the door, the girls stepped outside. The beach, bathed in
soft moonlight, looked ghostly and unreal.

“It’s c-cold,” Vevi shivered. “And I’m scared.”

Connie felt rather frightened too though she could not have explained
why.

“Maybe we should wait--” she began, but Vevi cut her short.

“No, let’s tell him now,” she urged. “Come on, before he gets too far
away.”

Already Mr. Curry was some distance from the cottage. He was standing
beside a parked sedan, checking to see if one of the glass windows
could be pushed down from the top.

“Oh, Mr. Curry!” called Vevi.

In the still night air her voice carried very clearly.

The lifeguard heard, for he turned around quickly. Then he did an
odd thing. Instead of answering Vevi, or waiting for the girls, he
deliberately walked away from them.

They saw him dash into the surf. Wading out to shoulder depth, he swam
off toward his own beach.

“Now, why did he do that!” Vevi exclaimed in disappointment. “He didn’t
give us a chance to tell him about Jamie.”

“He acted as if he didn’t want to talk to us,” agreed Connie.

The girls had not taken time to put on sweaters or jackets. Teeth
chattering, they crept back into the cottage and into their beds. They
had lost all interest in lifeguards and turtles.

Vevi was awakened next morning by the clatter of an alarm clock.

She rubbed her eyes drowsily. Then realizing that it was six o’clock,
she leaped out of bed.

“Time to get up!” she aroused Connie, giving her a hard shake. “We want
to beat the girls at Oriole Cottage. If we don’t hurry, we’ll be late
for the motorboat ride.”

Connie mumbled drowsily and burrowed deeper into the covers. Vevi
jerked them off.

“Get up, sleepy head!” she ordered. “We want to be the first to get to
the wharf.”

As Vevi gave her another hard shake, Connie really came awake. She
leaped out of bed and dressed so fast she was ahead of everyone.

For a while all was hubbub in the cottage as the girls from Oriole
Cottage began to arrive. Connie and Vevi though, were the first to get
their beds made and have their room straightened.

“We’ll go on ahead to the wharf,” Vevi told Miss Gordon.

“Isn’t it rather early?” asked the teacher. “Mrs. Allison doesn’t plan
to leave the dock before seven-thirty.”

“It won’t do any harm to be there a little early,” Vevi said. “That
way, Mrs. Allison will be sure the Brownies haven’t forgotten.”

Miss Gordon smiled and told the two girls they might walk on ahead if
they liked. “We’ll come as quickly as we can,” she promised.

In leaving the cottage, Vevi recalled that she had not fed her pets
that morning.

“I must keep up Clover’s strength, or he won’t win the race this
afternoon,” she declared.

Vevi fed the turtle, and then dropped a little grain in Snow White’s
cage.

“Your pigeon needs exercise,” Connie said. “Why not let him fly away,
Vevi? You know you can’t take him home when we leave here Monday.”

“Maybe Miss Gordon will let me.”

“You know she won’t, Vevi. Besides, you have no place where you could
keep a bird except for a few days. Let him go now, Vevi.”

“He might get lost again.”

“You’ll have to let him go by tomorrow at the latest,” Connie said
severely. “So why not now?”

Vevi stubbornly shook her head. “Maybe I will find a good home for
him.”

“Where?”

“Captain Tarwell might take Snow White.”

“He can’t be bothered with a bird and you know it.”

“Jamie would like to have my pigeon.”

“We don’t know what has become of Jamie. So you know he can’t look
after the bird.”

“Maybe Mrs. Allison would like Snow White,” Vevi said hopefully. “She
could keep him at her house on the water and he’d be happy there. I
know! I’ll take him along this morning and ask her!”

“He’ll be in the way,” Connie said, trying to discourage her friend.

“I don’t care,” Vevi insisted. “I want Snow White to have a nice boat
ride. Anyway, we won’t have much longer to be together.”

Connie said no more. So Vevi picked up the cage. On the way to the
wharf, she carried it very carefully so as not to jar the pigeon.

“There’s the boat!” Connie exclaimed a few minutes later as they came
within view of the _Adventurer_, tied up at the wharf.

“But where is Mrs. Allison and her husband?” asked Vevi. “I guess we
are here too early.”

The cabin cruiser was completely deserted. Dew lay heavy on its decks
and the canvas covers had not been removed.

“I hope Mrs. Allison didn’t forget,” Vevi said anxiously as she and
Connie walked out on the dock.

“Oh, she’ll be along. It’s early. We’re the only persons anywhere
around.”

“Let’s go aboard,” proposed Vevi.

Connie hung back. “Oh, should we? Maybe Mrs. Allison wouldn’t like it.”

“She won’t care, Connie. We won’t hurt anything. I want to peek inside
the cabin before the other Brownies get here.”

“Oh, all right,” Connie consented reluctantly. “We’ll get on for just a
minute. Then we’ll get right off and wait for Mrs. Allison.”

Still carrying the pigeon cage, Vevi scrambled aboard. The boat was
rocking gently up and down on the waves.

“I’m tired of carrying this basket around,” Vevi announced as Connie
joined her on deck. “I’m going to leave it in the cabin.”

“Mrs. Allison may not like it, Vevi.”

“Oh, she won’t mind. We aren’t hurting anything. Aren’t the seats
grand?”

Vevi plumped herself down in one, bouncing up and down.

“Vevi, let’s get off,” Connie said anxiously. “We might damage
something.”

“I’m not hurting this seat one bit.”

“I don’t like to be here unless Mrs. Allison says it’s all right.”

“We aren’t doing any harm,” Vevi insisted.

“I’m going to get off.”

“Oh, all right, so will I,” Vevi grumbled. “But first I’m going to put
Snow White inside.”

She disappeared into the cabin with the pigeon cage. A moment later,
Connie heard her call for her to come in too.

“It’s darling inside, Connie! You ought to see!”

Connie could not resist taking a quick look at the cabin’s interior.
The room had been made very attractive with red draperies at the
portholes. Bunks lined one side of the wall. A galley or kitchen unit
filled the other side. The third wall was taken up by a leather seat.

“Why, one could live on this boat!” Vevi cried. “See! The cupboard is
stocked with groceries!”

“We’re staying aboard too long,” Connie said uneasily. “Let’s go before
Mrs. Allison finds us here.”

Even as she spoke, the girls heard soft footsteps on the dock.

“Someone’s coming now!” Connie declared, moving quickly to the window.
“It’s probably Mrs. Allison or her husband.”

Peering out the porthole window, the girls tried to see who approached.
At first they could see no one, although they kept hearing the soft
tread of bare feet.

But as they watched, a man came into view. He wore only black bathing
trunks and evidently had been swimming for his suit was wet.

“It’s Mr. Curry again,” said Vevi in a whisper. “Why does he swim so
often? And so early in the morning?”

“At our beach too,” added Connie. “He’s coming here, I think.”

Now, although the girls had done nothing wrong they felt very uneasy.
Not saying a word, they remained by the window, watching.

The lifeguard had not seen them. He came on down the dock toward the
_Adventurer_ and the other cruisers tied up alongside.

Vevi and Connie saw him pause beside a mahogany craft which bore the
name _Miss Lady_. It was one of the most expensive boats at Silver
Beach, owned by a very wealthy man.

Mr. Curry glanced quickly around to be certain no one was watching.
Then he leaped lightly aboard the vessel.

“Let’s tell him about seeing Jamie,” Vevi suggested.

She started to leave the cabin. Connie caught her by the hand, drawing
her back to the porthole.

“Don’t make a sound,” she advised. “Just watch! He’s up to something!”

Vevi could not imagine why Connie had become so excited.

Then, peering through the window, she understood the reason. Although
no one appeared to be aboard _Miss Lady_, the lifeguard was trying to
force open the cabin door!



CHAPTER 18

ADRIFT


At first, Connie and Vevi could not guess what the lifeguard was trying
to do. They saw him push hard against the cabin door.

When it did not open, he brought forth a small metal tool from inside
his bathing trunks.

“Why, he must have a deep pocket inside his bathing suit!” Vevi
exclaimed in amazement. “How funny!”

“Imagine trying to swim with a heavy piece of metal,” added Connie. “I
never heard of such a thing before!”

As the girls watched from behind the curtains, they were shocked to see
the lifeguard deliberately break the door lock of the nearby cruiser.

“He shouldn’t have done that!” Vevi declared. “The owner of _Miss Lady_
won’t like it.”

Connie gave the Brownie sign for complete silence.

Vevi realized then that something was dreadfully wrong. Connie, she
noticed, looked rather frightened.

Unaware that anyone was near, Raymond Curry had entered the cabin of
_Miss Lady_.

Vevi and Connie could see him going hurriedly through drawers and
boxes. Most articles he threw on the floor. But the girls saw him stuff
two small items into the inner pocket of his bathing trunks.

Vevi no longer could remain silent.

“Connie, he’s a thief!” she whispered tensely. “He’s taking something
that doesn’t belong to him!”

“And last night we saw him trying car doors,” added Connie. “He must
have been trying to get in.”

“He’s been doing his stealing at our beach, so no one would suspect
him! Oh, Connie, I’ll bet he was the one who took Miss Gordon’s wrist
watch!”

“We saw him swimming on our beach that day! He may have been the one
who took Mrs. Allison’s purse too!”

By this time the girls were so excited they scarcely could contain
themselves. In trying to see, Vevi accidentally scratched her hand
against the window glass.

Though the noise was slight, it was heard on the next boat. Mr. Curry
whirled around, seeing the children watching him from the cabin of the
_Adventurer_.

The lifeguard came quickly out of the cruiser, closing the door behind
him.

“He’s going to go away with all that stuff he took!” Vevi cried. “Let’s
stop him, Connie.”

Both girls remembered that once at the circus when a pickpocket had
tried to get away, all the Brownie Scouts had surrounded him. But now
there was no one to help them.

Without stopping to think, Vevi ran out of the cabin.

“Stop!” she shouted at Mr. Curry, who had leaped off the _Lady_.
“You’re a thief! We saw you take something from that boat.”

Mr. Curry paused. He looked up and down the waterfront, not seeing
anyone. Then he came over to where the _Adventurer_ was tied up. He was
smiling, but not in a friendly way.

“So I’m a thief, am I?” he asked pleasantly. “You saw everything?”

“Yes, we did!” Vevi retorted. “You put back what you stole or we’ll
tell the police! You took Miss Gordon’s watch too!”

“Well, well, what clever little girls you are!” Mr. Curry said. “So
you saw everything? And you’ll run straight to the police with it?”

As the lifeguard talked, he bent down by the dock post. Vevi and Connie
did not realize what he was doing until it was too late.

Then they saw that the man deliberately had untied the rope which held
the _Adventurer_ fast.

“You’ll not tell the police anything for an hour or so,” said Mr.
Curry. “You’re taking a little ride out into the bay.”

As he spoke, he gave the cruiser a hard shove. It shot several feet
away from the wharf, barely clearing another boat tied on the other
side.

“You’ll not be carried too far out,” Mr. Curry called. “The drifting
boat will be sighted eventually by the lighthouse keeper or from shore.
So relax and have a nice time, kiddies. You’ll not be seeing me again!”

Mr. Curry stood a moment, watching the boat drift slowly away. Then he
turned and was lost to view behind another cruiser.

Connie and Vevi were so frightened that for a moment or two they could
not speak.

Already the cruiser was so far from the wharf that they could not leap
ashore. The water was much too deep for them to jump off and try to
wade in.

“What’ll we do?” Vevi wailed.

“Scream for help!” Connie advised. “Yell as loudly as you can.”

Both girls called for help, over and over again. Although it now was
nearly seven o’clock, no one seemed to be on the beach. Captain Tarwell
was not in sight either, nor were any of the Brownies.

“Oh, Connie, we’re being carried out to sea!” Vevi gasped.

“And Mr. Curry will get away from Silver Beach with everything he’s
stolen,” added Connie in despair. “That’s why he cut our boat loose! So
we wouldn’t be able to tell anyone what we saw, until after he’s safely
away!”

“Oh, we’ve got to do something--quick! Let’s yell for help again.”

Cupping hands to their lips, the girls shouted until they were nearly
hoarse. Although the cruiser had not as yet drifted far from shore, no
one was abroad to hear or see them.

“It’s no use,” moaned Vevi, grasping the _Adventurer’s_ railing for
support. “We’re going to be carried way out into the ocean. I’m
getting seasick too! I feel just awful.”

Big tears splashed down the little girl’s cheeks. Running into the
cabin, she flung herself on the cushioned seat and buried her head in a
pillow.



CHAPTER 19

SNOW WHITE WINGS HOME


Now Vevi was more frightened than ill. The _Adventurer_ was bobbing up
and down on the waves. But the motion was a gentle one, and the girls
had not been aboard long enough to really become seasick.

It was the fear of being carried out to sea that worried Vevi and
Connie more than anything else. They were troubled too, lest the
drifting cruiser crash into one of the other boats which had been tied
up to buoys in the bay.

Connie followed her little friend inside the _Adventurer’s_ cabin.

“Don’t cry, Vevi,” she comforted her. “We’re still in the bay. Mr.
Curry said we’ll be sighted before we drift very far out.”

“Mr. Curry doesn’t care what becomes of us,” Vevi said, lifting her
head out of the pillow. “He was mean and deceitful!”

“Mr. Curry is afraid we’ll tell what we saw,” Connie declared. “Oh, I
wish we could get off this boat in time to catch him!”

Far across the bay the girls heard the muffled roar of a motorboat
engine.

Hopeful of a rescue, they darted out of the cabin. The boat they had
heard was a long distance away, moving not toward them, but in the
opposite direction.

Nevertheless, Vevi and Connie screamed and screamed for help.

Their cries were useless. The boat kept on, soon disappearing in the
direction of the distant lighthouse.

“Why doesn’t someone see us?” whimpered Vevi. “Why doesn’t Mrs. Allison
come? Or the Brownies?”

Connie was becoming more worried by the moment. The _Adventurer_, she
noted, was drifting faster and faster.

No longer was it close to shore or other boats. If once it passed the
mouth of the bay, they would truly be at sea.

“If only we’d drift past one of those red buoys, maybe we could grab
onto it,” she said.

The buoys which marked the harbor channel ran almost in a straight line
out from shore. But the _Adventurer_ did not drift very close to any
of them.

In reaching out, trying to grasp one of the markers, Connie lost her
brown Beanie cap. It fell into the water and was caught by a wave. For
a minute she could see it floating on the foamy crest. Then it was gone.

Hopefully, the girls gazed toward shore. They could see the long rows
of cottages, the pier, the town dock and two church spires.

“It’s almost seven o’clock,” Connie said. “Don’t worry, Vevi. Mrs.
Allison, my mother or Miss Gordon will be coming down to the beach soon
now. They’ll see that the boat is missing and send help.”

“But they won’t know what’s become of the _Adventurer_, Connie. We’ve
drifted so you can’t see the dock where the boat was tied up.”

“Let’s tie a white cloth to the railing,” Connie suggested. “Maybe
someone will see that and know we’re in trouble.”

Going into the cabin, the children searched for a suitable object.
Finally they found a towel they were able to use. But they did not have
much hope it would attract anyone’s attention.

Vevi’s gaze presently fell upon Snow White’s basket. The pigeon was
drowsing.

“Say! Why didn’t we think of it before, Connie?”

“Think of what?”

“We can send a message for help by carrier pigeon!”

“Send it where, Vevi?”

“Why, to Mr. Green’s pigeon loft. Snow White would fly there.”

“You mean he would if he didn’t get lost.”

“Let’s try it anyhow,” Vevi urged. “It’s our only chance.”

“All right,” Connie agreed quickly.

Writing materials were found in the built-in desk inside the cabin.
Vevi urged Connie to print the message so it could be more easily read.

Connie picked up the pen, thought hard for a moment and then wrote:

“Carried out to sea on the _Adventurer_. Send help quick!”

She signed the message, “Vevi and Connie.”

“Underline that word ‘quick’ three times,” Vevi advised.

Connie marked under the word and folded the paper until it was very
small. Removing Snow

White from his basket, the girls then placed the message in the
carrying cartridge on his leg.

“Oh, Snow White, do your best,” Vevi pleaded as she bore the pigeon to
the railing. “Fly straight home!”

She stroked the pigeon’s glossy feathers for a bit. Then she tossed him
into the air.

“He’s going to settle on that rock beyond the buoy!” Connie gasped.
“Oh, that Snow White! He’s just no good.”

“Yes, he is too!” Vevi insisted logically. “He’s just getting his
bearings. Give him a minute or two to get started.”

Snow White had circled the big black rock as if intending to settle on
it. Vevi and Connie watched anxiously. They knew if the pigeon stopped
to rest, he would never fly back to his home loft.

“There he goes!” cried Vevi jubilantly.

As if suddenly making up his mind, the pigeon winged off toward shore.
He flew in a dead straight line.

“He’s going toward Mr. Green’s place!” Vevi shouted. “Oh, I knew Snow
White could do it.”

“He isn’t there yet,” Connie reminded her. “He may meet a hawk on the
way and get into a fight.”

“It isn’t far to Mr. Green’s place though. And Snow White’s flying
fast.”

The girls watched at the railing until they no longer were able to see
the bird. Then as the cruiser began to wallow heavily in the waves,
they went back inside the cruiser.

“At least we won’t starve even if we are carried out to sea,” said
Connie, looking around.

The _Adventurer_ evidently had been stocked for a long cruise. In
addition to tins of meat, vegetables and miscellaneous items, there
were sacks of fresh fruit and cookies.

“I’m awfully hungry,” said Connie, her mouth watering at sight of a big
juicy pear. “I don’t think we should eat any of Mrs. Allison’s food
though, unless we’re almost starving.”

“I am now,” declared Vevi. “I’m thirsty too.”

Though the girls looked everywhere they could not find any drinking
water.

Time passed very slowly. Thinking that at least an hour had elapsed,
Connie went outside to try to learn what time it was.

However, the _Adventurer_ had drifted so far that she could not see the
town clock. “It must be at least eight o’clock,” she declared. “And we
never were missed!”

“What could have become of everyone?” speculated Vevi. “Why didn’t the
Brownies come down to the wharf? Don’t they care what becomes of us?”

“Surely in all this time, they’d have missed us.”

“Something must have happened,” Vevi said gloomily. “I’m really getting
scared, Connie.”

Her face puckered up and she looked as if she were about to cry again.

“Listen!” commanded Connie suddenly.

In the distance, a clock had begun to strike.

Anxiously, the girls counted the strokes.

“Eight o’clock!” exclaimed Vevi. “Or was it nine? I got mixed up.”

“I counted only seven. But can that be right?”

“We’ve been drifting for hours, Connie.”

Connie squinted at the rising sun and shook her head.

“I don’t think so,” she said. “If it were eight o’clock, we’d be
farther out from shore. And people would be on the beach taking their
sun baths.”

Vevi dropped a piece of paper into the water. A moment later the
cruiser had drifted past it.

“We must be in a current,” Vevi said. “We’re moving awfully fast.”

“Away from the lighthouse too. The waves are getting bigger and bigger.”

The breeze which blew across the deck was rather cold. Spray from the
higher waves dampened the girls’ hair and made them feel chilly.

“I’m going to stay inside,” Vevi said, her teeth chattering. “I don’t
think we’ll ever be picked up. We’ll be washed clear out to sea and
never see our folks or the Brownies again.”

“Don’t talk like that,” Connie scolded her friend. “You’re a Brownie
Scout, aren’t you? Brownies are supposed to be cheerful and always look
at the bright side.”

“I’m trying to be brave but--oh!”

The cruiser had given a sudden lurch which nearly flung Vevi from her
feet.

“Something hit us!” she wailed, clutching Connie’s hand.

“It was only a big wave. When the boat engine isn’t on, you feel ’em
more. That one hit us broadside.”

“I’m going inside,” Vevi repeated. “It’s not safe out here on deck. We
might be thrown overboard.”

She dived into the cabin. Connie took another look around to see if
help might not be near. Seeing no one or any moving boat, she followed
her friend into the cabin.

Vevi had huddled down on one of the bunks, wrapping a blanket about
herself. Connie joined her there, sharing the warmth of the cover.

“I wish we’d never decided to go for a ride on this stupid old boat,”
Vevi murmured.

“What I wish is that we hadn’t gone on ahead of the other Brownies,”
declared Connie.

The two girls felt very miserable and discouraged. They were beginning
to fear they never would be missed. Although they were not really
seasick, the steady rolling of the boat made them feel uncomfortable.

“I’m going to be sick,” announced Vevi, lying down on the bunk.

Connie curled up beside her under the blanket. For a long while
they kept very quiet, listening to the slap of the waves on the
_Adventurer’s_ hull.

“It’s hours since we started to drift,” Vevi whispered. “We must be way
out in the ocean now.”

Connie arose and went to the porthole window. Looking out, she saw only
an empty stretch of water.

Badly frightened, she moved across to the other side of the cabin.
From this window she was relieved to be able to see the shore.

As she watched, the cruiser swung slightly, so that Connie saw a huge
mound of piled up rocks. She knew that it marked one side of the harbor
entrance.

Once the cruiser passed that point, it really would be out at sea.

“Where are we?” demanded Vevi, swinging her legs over the side of the
bunk.

Before she could start across the cabin, she felt a hard jar as
something struck the _Adventurer_ amidship.

“Was that a log?” she gasped. “Or another boat?”

The girls were afraid to hope that anyone had come to their rescue.

“Ship ahoy!” they heard someone call. “Anyone aboard?”

Laughing in sheer joy, Vevi and Connie rushed out of the cabin.

“We’re here!” they shouted.

Captain Tarwell had come alongside in another cruiser. Aboard were Mrs.
Allison, Connie’s mother, Miss Gordon and all the Brownies.

“Thank goodness, you’re both safe,” cried Mrs. Williams. Captain
Tarwell hooked the two boats together so that Mrs. Williams and Miss
Gordon could step aboard the _Adventurer_.

Mrs. Williams held Connie tightly in her arms while the Brownie leader
gave Vevi an affectionate hug.

“How did you find us?” Connie asked when she could catch her breath.
“Did you see our drifting boat?”

“The report came from several places almost at the same time,” Miss
Gordon explained. “The Brownies were a little late getting to the
wharf. Before we arrived, a telephone call came to Captain Tarwell from
Mr. Green.”

“From the pigeon loft?” Vevi demanded, her face lighted up. “Then Snow
White got through with our message!”

“Yes, Jamie was feeding the pigeons when the carrier alighted on the
roof. He read the message and called Mr. Green.”

“Mr. Green didn’t know what to make of it,” Mrs. Williams went on
with the story. “So he telephoned Captain Tarwell, asking him to
investigate.”

“About that same time,” Miss Gordon resumed, “Mrs. Allison reached
the dock and couldn’t find her cruiser. While she was wondering if it
had been stolen, another telephone call came in from the lighthouse
keeper. He’d sighted the drifting boat.”

“We really caused a lot of excitement, didn’t we?” grinned Vevi.

“You certainly did,” agreed Miss Gordon. “You frightened us half out of
our wits. What in the world possessed you to untie the _Adventurer_?”

The question astonished Vevi and Connie.

“But we didn’t!” they cried together.

“Then how did the boat get loose?”

Vevi was so excited that her words came out in a rush.

“It was Raymond Curry who set the boat adrift!” she informed the
startled adults. “We saw him steal from another cruiser. He didn’t want
us to tell so he untied the rope.”

“He wanted to get away from Silver Beach before anyone caught him,”
added Connie earnestly. “Miss Gordon, he was the one who stole your
wrist watch! If you call the police right away, maybe you can get it
back!”



CHAPTER 20

BROWNIE OF THE DAY


Connie’s declaration that Raymond Curry should be arrested as a thief
astonished Miss Gordon and Mrs. Williams.

However, after asking a few questions, they were convinced that there
was no mistake. Captain Tarwell also had heard Vevi and Connie make the
accusation.

“It doesn’t surprise me--not one whit!” he announced. “I’ve had my eye
on that young fellow all season. If I could have dug up proof, he’d
have been thrown in irons long ago.”

“But he’s a lifeguard at the hotel,” murmured Miss Gordon. “It hardly
seems possible he’d stoop to such a low thing.”

“I’ve been watching him for quite a while but never could catch him at
it,” replied the captain. “Jamie himself gave me a clue, not meaning
to, of course. I’ve felt mighty sorry for that lad. That was why I let
him sleep in my cabin after he ran away.”

“Then you knew it all the time!” exclaimed Vevi.

“Aye, I guessed the lad was there. I’d have sent him packing back to
his father, but I couldn’t make up my mind Jamie ought to be returned
without Juvenile Court looking into the situation. So I arranged for
him to get a job for a few days with Mr. Green.”

“What’s to be done about Raymond Curry?” asked Mrs. Williams.

She told the captain she felt that even if it could not be proven he
had stolen anything, he should be severely punished for setting the
_Adventurer_ adrift.

“Aye, and he shall be,” promised the captain grimly. “It’s plain he
figured by untying the boat, he’d gain time enough to get out of town.”

In the glare of sunlight, the old seaman studied his watch.

“It’s only 7:35,” he announced. “That gives him roughly forty-five
minutes start.”

Now both Vevi and Connie were amazed to learn that so little time had
elapsed. They were certain they had spent hours in the drifting boat.
“Curry couldn’t catch a train out of Silver Beach at this hour,” went
on the captain. “He has no car. My guess is he’d head for the airport.
A westbound plane is due out at 7:55.”

“Then we’ll never stop him!” gasped Mrs. Williams.

“Maybe we can if we move fast,” replied the captain. “I’ll take
this little boat in and call police. The rest of you follow in Mrs.
Allison’s cruiser.”

This plan suited everyone except Vevi and Connie. After their
unpleasant experience, they would have felt safer in the captain’s boat.

The old seaman waited only long enough to make sure Mrs. Allison could
start the _Adventurer’s_ powerful motor. Then he headed for shore in
the smaller boat, traveling at top speed.

Once the engine of the _Adventurer_ began to purr, the cruiser no
longer drifted. Mrs. Allison headed it so that the waves would not slap
so hard.

“Shall we go on with our morning cruise or return to shore?” she asked
the Brownies.

Jane was all for continuing the ride. The other Brownies, however,
voted to return to the wharf.

“Never mind,” Mrs. Allison said to Jane. “Later in the day we’ll have
our cruise. Just now we’re anxious to learn what has become of Raymond
Curry.”

Events moved very rapidly, once the Brownie Scouts were ashore.

However, it was more than two hours later before the girls learned all
the details of what happened at the airport.

Shortly before noon, Captain Tarwell reappeared on the beach to report
that police had arrested Mr. Curry as he prepared to board a plane west.

“He denied everything,” the captain told the Brownies. “But in
searching his luggage, police came upon valuables taken from one of the
cruisers. They also found a pawnticket which has been redeemed.”

The seaman then showed Miss Gordon the wristwatch she had lost on the
beach.

“Mr. Curry pawned it for a trifling sum, along with several other
items,” Captain Tarwell explained. “You can identify the watch?”

“Oh, yes, it is mine! I’m so happy to get it back again. But what of
Mr. Curry?”

“He is under arrest. In searching his luggage police found his bathing
trunks. A deep inside pocket had been sewed into them. It provided a
pouch where Curry could carry small items. Sometimes, he swam off with
them. At other times, if carrying articles that might be damaged by
water, he merely walked back to the hotel.”

“And because he was the lifeguard there, no one suspected him of wrong
doing!”

“Connie and I did!” interposed Vevi quickly. “We saw him trying to
break into cars last night on the beach. Only then we weren’t sure what
he was doing.”

Miss Gordon asked Captain Tarwell what was to become of Jamie.

“The court will direct his future. For the time being, he’ll stay on
with Mr. Green, helping with the birds. By fall, when it’s time for the
lad to start school, I’m hoping the court will turn him over to me. I’d
like to adopt the boy and make a home for him at the cottage. Time I’m
opening that place and forgetting the past.”

“I guess Mr. Curry never would have been caught if it hadn’t been for
Snow White,” Vevi declared proudly. “I guess that bird proved he was
some good after all!”

“He certainly did,” agreed the captain heartily. “Oh, yes, Vevi, I have
a message for you from Mr. Green.”

“For me?”

“Aye, he said to tell you not to worry about Snow White anymore. He’ll
keep him at the loft with his other pigeons. Even if he never proves to
be a fast racer, he’ll always give him a home.”

“He’ll be known as a hero pigeon, won’t he?” Vevi laughed. “That’s a
lot more important than winning a race.”

Her mention of a race reminded the Brownies of the turtle contest which
had been scheduled for that afternoon. With Mr. Curry under arrest,
they were quite certain it never would be held.

“I guess the Brownies won’t have their chance to win prize money,”
sighed Sunny. “We need cash badly in our treasury too.”

Directly after lunch, Mrs. Allison took the Brownies for a long ride
in her cabin cruiser. While they were aboard, she showed them a fine
collection of shells she had gathered the previous winter in Florida.

The shells were larger and more beautiful than any the Brownies had in
their collection.

“I want you girls to have them for your exhibition tomorrow at the
cottage,” Mrs. Allison declared. “Furthermore, you may keep them after
the show is over.”

Now it seemed to the Brownies that everyone was trying to help them.

“It’s our motto ‘Help Other People,’ working for us!” Rosemary laughed.
“I guess that was because we helped other folks first.”

When the Brownies returned from the cruise, another pleasant surprise
awaited them.

Mr. Fulsom told the girls that the turtle race was to be held on the
hotel lawn just as scheduled.

“The hotel people have asked me to run it off for them,” he added.
“From now on I’m to work there as a lifeguard. I’ll take Raymond
Curry’s place and make a much better salary.”

The Brownies were sorry to know that their friend no longer would be
at the cottage beach. Of course, it did not really matter, for after
Sunday they would be in Rosedale again. They were happy that he was to
have a better job, and especially pleased that the turtle race was to
be run.

“How soon does it start?” Vevi demanded, fairly beside herself with
excitement.

“Sharp at two o’clock.”

“It’s almost that now,” Vevi gasped. “I must get Clover right away. I
hope he’s feeling well.”

All the Brownies ran with her to the cottage to fetch the turtle. When
they lifted Clover out of the pan, he snapped and tried to get away.

“He’s feeling well, all right!” laughed Vevi.

By the time the Brownies reached the hotel lawn, many other children
had gathered there. Nearly everyone had a turtle to race.

A large white circle had been drawn on the grass. Mr. Fulsom explained
the rules. He said the turtles would start from the center of the ring.
The one which first crossed the chalk line would be declared the winner.

All the children, including Vevi, carried their entries to the center
of the ring. After the turtles were set down on the grass, Mr. Fulsom
told the children to step back.

“You may cheer your favorite,” he said, “but no one must frighten a
turtle.”

Now a turtle race was much slower than the Brownies had expected. The
entries did not start off very fast. Some of the turtles didn’t seem to
know they were in a race. A few failed to move.

“Come on Clover!” shouted Connie.

The snapper started to crawl very fast toward the sea.

At the same time, several other turtles moved in other directions
toward the chalk line. A turtle with the name “Elmer” painted on its
shell, crawled even faster than Clover.

“Look at him go,” said Jane anxiously. “He’s going to win!”

“Come on, Clover!” pleaded Vevi. “Come on!”

In her excitement she jumped up and down, clapping her hands. So much
noise seemed to frighten Clover. He halted and twisted his long neck,
looking at the crowd.

“Oh, he’s stopped,” groaned Connie. “Now we’ll never win!”

“I’ll give him a push!” cried Jane.

Vevi seized her hand, holding her back. “No! That’s against the rules!
He’ll be put out of the race entirely if you do.”

“Anyway, Elmer has stopped too!” exclaimed Rosemary. “That other turtle
called Pete is ahead now.”

For the next few minutes, it was hard to tell which turtle was winning.
First one would crawl and then another. Sometimes they would go very
fast toward the finish line and then slow down.

“Clover never will win,” Jane said in despair. “He’s too lazy.”

“He is not,” Vevi defended her entry. “Look at him go now! Why, he’s
almost running!” It was true. Clover had suddenly come to life again.
He crawled faster and faster toward the finish line.

On the opposite side of the circle, Elmer also was moving rapidly. No
one could tell which turtle would reach the chalk line first.

“Elmer wins--” the lifeguard started to say, and then he corrected
himself. The turtle had stopped short just a half inch from the finish
line.

“Clover is the winner!” Mr. Fulsom shouted. “An entry by the Brownie
Scouts of Rosedale!”

Vevi ran to recapture Clover before he reached the water. He did not
want to be picked up and tried to snap at her.

“Let him go, Vevi,” urged Connie, running up. “He wants to be free.”

“And you can’t take him with you to Rosedale,” added Rosemary, joining
the girls.

Vevi held Clover for a minute, hating to let him go. She knew though,
that Connie and Rosemary were right.

Without a word, she set the turtle on the grass. He crawled very fast
down the slope, across the sand and into the water.

“Goodbye, Clover,” Vevi said then. “Maybe next summer, if the Brownies
come here again, we’ll find you once more.”

Mr. Fulsom gave Miss Gordon a ten dollar bill for the Brownie
organization. She promised the girls to keep it safe until it could be
put in the bank at Rosedale.

After the turtle race the Brownie Scouts had a great deal of work to
do. Not only was it necessary to pack their suitcases, but they also
had to fix their shell exhibition at the ship cottage.

“The Brownies aren’t too well known at Silver Beach,” Connie said
anxiously to her mother. “Do you think anyone will come to our show
tomorrow?”

“I’m sure they will,” replied Mrs. Williams. “Besides, the Brownies are
better known than you think. You see, the newspapers carried stories of
your adventure and Vevi’s aboard the cruiser.”

Early Sunday morning after church, the girls were at the cottage ready
for visitors. Their shells all had been neatly classified and arranged
in attractive patterns on tables.

“It will be awful if we’ve gone to so much trouble and no one comes,”
sighed Sunny. “I couldn’t bear it.”

Just then a car drove up. Mrs. Allison was at the wheel, but with her
were several ladies.

“At least we’ll have someone!” laughed Sunny, greatly relieved.

After that a number of friends Miss Gordon had made at the beach began
to arrive. Mr. Fulsom came, bringing two other men. Then there followed
a steady stream of visitors, persons the Brownies never before had seen
or knew only slightly.

“I guess everyone at Silver Beach heard about our exhibition!” Jane
declared happily.

“Everyone except Captain Tarwell,” said Vevi. “I thought he would
surely come.”

The afternoon wore on and still the old seaman did not appear. All the
Brownies were disappointed, for more than anyone else, they wanted him
to see their shells.

“We may as well put everything away,” Jane said at last. “It’s getting
late.”

“Let’s wait just a few more minutes,” pleaded Vevi. “I’m sure Captain
Tarwell will come.”

“I think he will too,” agreed Miss Gordon. “We can’t wait too long
though. Now, does the organization have any unfinished business,
anything to be done before we leave Silver Beach?”

“Vevi never gave her bird report,” Jane reminded the group.

“You would bring that up,” muttered Vevi.

She felt rather annoyed at Jane. That was because she had forgotten all
about making a report, and did not know of a bird she could tell about.

“Vevi’s worse than a tail-ender!” Jane teased. “She doesn’t have any
report. Today’s the last chance to make it too.”

“Who says I haven’t a report?” Vevi retorted. “Just wait!”

“That’s what you always say!” twitted Jane.

“I’ll give my report in just a minute,” Vevi said, stalling for time.
“First, I want to see if Captain Tarwell is coming.”

Quickly, she ran out of the cottage. Now Vevi hoped that outdoors she
might see a bird upon which she could report.

Not a bird was to be seen. As luck would have it though, Captain
Tarwell came walking up the path.

“Am I too late for the big show?” he inquired.

“Oh, no, you’re just in time,” Vevi told him.

Captain Tarwell noticed the little girl’s downcast face.

“Storm clouds?” he chuckled. “What’s the trouble, Vevi? Have you lost
one of your pets?”

Vevi told him then how Jane was teasing her because she had been
unable to make her bird report.

“I’ve thought and thought and I can’t think of a single one the other
girls haven’t told about,” she said sadly. “I guess I’m just no good.”

“Now if I were a little girl with a report to make, I’d use my eyes,”
chuckled the captain. “I’d tell about a bird that lives in this very
cottage.”

“Here?” Vevi asked in disbelief. “Oh, I’m sure you must be mistaken,
Captain Tarwell. No bird except Snow White ever lived here.”

“No?” inquired the old seaman.

Without saying more, he raised his eyes to gaze up into the sky. Vevi
saw then that he was watching a short, fat bird that was wheeling
overhead.

Its wings were beating swiftly and in such stiff fashion that the
creature appeared to be a mechanical toy rather than living.

As Vevi watched, the bird dived down into the chimney of the cottage.

“Oh, won’t it be killed?” Vevi asked anxiously.

“Not that bird,” answered the captain. “A chimney swift always builds
its nest in a chimney. I’ll tell you all about it.”

The old seaman recounted everything he knew about the bird, which was a
great deal, indeed.

“Oh, thank you!” Vevi said gratefully. “Now I’ll be able to make my
report!”

She raced into the cottage ahead of the captain to tell the Brownies
what she had learned.

“My bird lives right here in the chimney!” she declared. “He’s soot
colored. He’s called a swift because he’s so fast on the wing. When he
eats insects he keeps his mouth wide open, snapping at them as he flies
through the air.”

“Where did you learn all that so fast?” Jane demanded suspiciously.

“The chimney swift is the most active in cloudy weather and in the
evening,” Vevi recited. “Their nests are cup-shaped, made of tiny
twigs. There’s one in the chimney now!”

“Why, Vevi, that’s a fine report,” praised Miss Gordon.

“But it’s not about a water bird,” Jane insisted. “It doesn’t count.”

Vevi did not know what to say. Captain Tarwell came to her rescue.

“Many’s the time I’ve seen a swift dip down into the surface of the
water in full flight,” he informed the group. “The creature feeds on
the wing, drinks on the wing and bathes that way too.”

“So I guess that makes it a water bird!” Vevi declared triumphantly.
“Doesn’t it, Miss Gordon?”

“I’m inclined to accept the report,” smiled the teacher. “Besides, Vevi
has produced two live birds, one on the beach, and now another in our
chimney.”

“Vevi helped the Brownie Scouts win ten dollars too,” Connie reminded
the girls.

“She found a home for Snow White when his owner didn’t think he wanted
to keep the pigeon,” added Rosemary.

“And she found a son for me,” said Captain Tarwell quietly. He went on
to explain: “It’s just been decided that Jamie will live with me here
at the cottage. Frankly, I never would have reopened my home if it
hadn’t been for Vevi, Connie and all the Brownies.”

“Vevi’s really our Brownie of the Day,” laughed Connie, very proud of
her friend.

“She deserves a Brownie salute!” cried Sunny. “Let’s give it to her.”

The girls clustered about Vevi. Smartly they raised their right hands
to their temples, two fingers extended. Vevi returned the salute.

“Speech! Speech!” teased the Brownies.

“I--I don’t know what to say,” mumbled Vevi, deeply embarrassed.
“Isn’t it nice being chosen Brownie of the Day?” prompted Connie.

“Oh, yes,” laughed Vevi. “I’d rather be a Brownie forever though!
That’s because it’s the nicest organization in the whole wide world!”


THE END



Transcriber’s Note:

Punctuation has been standardized; inconsistent spelling retained.
Changes to the original publication have been made as follows:

  Page 37
    friend into the litttle ship _changed to_
    friend into the little ship

  Page 64
    down to the cliffs which overloooked _changed to_
    down to the cliffs which overlooked

  Page 153
    can get up early. We’ll go _changed to_
    can get up early, we’ll go

  Page 162
    Connie said severly _changed to_
    Connie said severely

  Page 185
    added Connie in dispair _changed to_
    added Connie in despair

  Page 205
    hotel lawn just as sheduled _changed to_
    hotel lawn just as scheduled





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