THE BOY SCOUTS OF THE AIR ON LOST ISLAND
THE BOY SCOUTS OF THE AIR ON LOST ISLAND
I OVER THE DAM
II A HOPELESS SEARCH
III LOST ISLAND
IV MORE THRILLS
V A STARTLING CLEW
VI TO THE RESCUE!
VII THE FLYING EAGLE SCOUTS
VIII A VOYAGE IN THE DARK
IX A RESCUE THAT FAILED
X "TO-MORROW IS THE DAY!"
XI A MID-AIR MIRACLE
XII AN EMPTY RIFLE SHELL
XIII THE GAME BEGINS
XIV PATCHING THE "SKYROCKET"
XV A WILD NIGHT
XVI TRICKED AGAIN!
XVII THE BIG PLAY
XVIII A CLOSE FINISH
The Boy Scouts of the Air on Lost Island
OVER THE DAM
Three boys stood impatiently kicking the dew off the tall grass in
Ring's back yard only pausing from their scanning of the beclouded
dawn-hinting sky to peer through the lightening dusk toward the
clump of cedars that hid the Fulton house.
"He's not up yet or there'd be a light showing" grumbled the
short stocky one of the three.
"Humph--it's so late now he wouldn't be needing a light. Tod never
failed us yet Frank and he told me last night that he'd be right
"We'd ought to have gone down right off Jerry when we saw he
wasn't here. Frank and I would have stopped off for him only we was
so sure he'd be the first one here--especially when you two were
elected to dig the worms."
"We dug the worms last night--a lard pail half full--down back of
his cabbage patch. And while we were sitting on the porch along
comes his father--you know how absent-minded he is--and reaches down
into the bucket and says 'Guess I'll help myself to some of your
"Bet you that's why Tod isn't here then."
"Why Frank Ellery seventh son of a seventh son? Coming so early in
the morning your short-circuit brain shockers make us ordinary
folks dizzy. This double-action----"
"Double-action nothing Dave Thomas! I heard Mr. Fulton tell Tod
yesterday he was to pick four quarts of blackberries and take them
over to your Aunt Jen. Tod forgot and so his dad wouldn't let him
go fishing that's all."
"Sun's up" announced Jerry Ring.
"So's Tod!" exclaimed Dave Thomas who had climbed to the first high
limbs of a near-by elm and now slid suddenly down into the midst of
the piled-up fishing paraphernalia. "I just saw him coming in from
the berry patch--here he comes now."
A lanky good-natured looking sixteen-year-old boy in loose-fitting
overalls and pale blue shirt open at the throat came loping down
"Gee fellows" he panted "I expect you're cussing mad--but I _had_
to pick those berries before I went and it took me so long to
grouch out the green ones after it got light."
"I see you brought the very greenest one of all along" observed
"Oh you here too little one?" as if seeing him for the first
time. "I didn't know kindergarten was closed for the day. I make one
guess who tipped over the bait can."
"Ask Frank" suggested Dave with pretended weariness; "he's got
"Don't need second sight to see that worm crawling up your pants
leg. We going to stand here all day! I move we get a hike on down to
the boat. Maybe we can hitch on behind Steve Porter's launch--he's
going up past Dead Tree Point--and that'll save us the long pull
through the slough."
The boys picked up the great load of luggage which was not so big
when divided among four boys and hustled out of the Ring yard and
down the dusty road. They were four of a size; that is Tod Fulton
was tall and somewhat flattened out while Frank Ellery was more or
less all in a bunch as Jerry said who was himself sturdily put
together. Dave Thomas was neither as tall as Tod nor as stocky as
Frank; He looked undersized in fact. But his "red hair and readier
tongue" his friends declared more than made up for any lack of
size. At any rate no one ever offered a second time to carry the
heaviest end of the load.
Now as they walked along through the back streets of Watertown
rightly named as it was in the midst of lakes creeks and rivers
they began a discussion that never grew old with them. Tod began it.
"We've got plenty of worms for once."
"Good!" cried Dave. "I've thought of a dandy scheme but it'd take a
pile of bait."
"What's that?" asked Jerry suspecting mischief.
"You know you can stretch out a worm to about three inches. Tie
about a hundred together--allow an inch apiece for the knot--that
would make two hundred inches or say seventeen feet. Put the back
end of the line about a foot up on the bank and the other end out in
the water. Along comes a carp--the only fish that eats _worms_--and
starts eating. He gets so excited following up his links of worm-
weenies that he doesn't notice he's up on shore when suddenly Tod
Fulton mighty fisherman grabs him by the tail and flips him----"
"Yes--where does he flip him?" Tod had dropped his share of the
luggage and now had Dave by the back of the neck.
"Back into the water and makes him eat another string of worms as
punishment for being a carp."
"You with your old dead minnows!" exclaimed Tod giving Dave a push
that sent him staggering. "Last time we went all you caught was a
dogfish and one starved bullhead. There's more real fish that'll
bite on worms than on any other bait. I've taken trout and even
black bass. Early in the morning I can land pickerel and croppies
where a minnow or a frog could sleep on the end of a six pounder's
nose. Don't tell me."
"Yes" put in Jerry "and I can sit right between the two of you and
with my number two Skinner and a frog or a bacon rind pull 'em out
while you fellows go to sleep between nibbles."
"Bully!" exclaimed Frank. "Every time we go home after a trip you
hang a sign on your back: 'Fish for Sale' with both s's turned
backwards. I'm too modest to mention the name of the boy who caught
the largest black bass ever hooked in Plum Run but I can tell you
the kind of fly the old boy took all the same."
"Testimony's all in" laughed Tod good-humoredly. "And here we are
at the dock of the 'Big Four.'"
"Yes and there goes Porter up around the bend. We row our boat to-
day. We ought to get up a show or something and raise enough money
to buy a motor."
"I move we change our plans and leave Round Lake for another trip."
It was lazy Frank who made the proposal.
"What difference does it make to you? You never row anyway. Plum
Run's too high for anything but still fishing----"
"I saw Hunky Doran coming back from Parry's Dam day before yesterday
and he had a dandy string."
"Sure. He always does. Bet you he dopes his bait" declared Tod.
"Well you spit on the worm yourself. The dam isn't half as far as
Dead Tree and besides we can always walk across to Grass Lake.
Jerry votes for the dam don't you Jerry?"
But Jerry only shrugged his shoulders. Frank and Tod always
disagreed on fishing places largely because their styles of angling
were different and consequently a good place for one was the poorest
place in the world for the other. So Jerry who usually was the
peacemaker said nothing but unlocked the padlock which secured the
boat tossed the key-ring to Dave with "Open the boathouse and get
two pair of oars. Tod take a squint at the sun--five-thirty isn't
it? An hour and a half to the Dead Tree and an hour more to Round
Lake. What kind of fish can you take in old Roundy after eight
"Oh I knew we were going to the dam all right. I give in. But if
I've got to go where I don't want to I'm going to have the boat to
"As if you didn't always have it!" snorted Frank. "The only one who
fishes in one place all day but he's got to have the boat--and
forgets himself and walks right off it the minute he gets a real
Tod paid no attention to this insult. He and Jerry settled in their
places at the oars with Frank at the stern for ballast and Dave up
ahead to watch the channel for Plum Run unbelievably deep in
places had a trick of shallowing at unlikely spots. More than once
had the _Big Four_ had her paint scraped off by a jagged shelf of
rock or shoal.
They were all in their places the luggage stowed away and Frank
was ready to push away from the dock when he raised his hand and
said instead: "Understand me boys I'm the last one in the world to
kick--you know me. But there's one request I have to make of you
before the push of my fingers cuts us off from the last trace of
"'Sw'at?" cried the three.
"When we have embarked upon this perilous voyage let no mournful
note swell out upon the breeze to frighten beasts and men--and
fish--into believing that Dave Thomas is once more _trying_ to
Immediately a mournful yowling began in the bow of the boat growing
louder as they drew away from shore. And then amid the laughter of
his three companions Dave ended his wail and instead broke into a
lively boating song the others joining in at the chorus. For Dave's
singing was a source of pride to his friends.
So Dave singing lustily and Tod and Jerry tugging at the oars in
time with the music they swung away from the dock and out in the
center channel of Plum Run a good hundred yards from shore. Once in
the current they swung straight ahead down stream. Before long the
last house of Watertown where people were fast beginning to stir
had faded from view. They passed safely through the ripples of the
shoals above Barren Island a great place for channel cat when the
water was lower. Through the West Branch they steered holding close
to the island shore for while the current was slower at least the
water was deeper and safer.
A mile-long stretch of smooth rowing lay ahead of them now after
which they entered Goose Slough narrow and twisty with half-hidden
snags and sudden whirlpools. More than one fishing party had been
capsized in its treacherous quarter mile of boiling length. Then
came a so-called lake Old Grass with the real Grass Lake barely
visible through its circle of trees. A crystal-clear creek was its
outlet to Plum Run a thousand gleaming sunfish and tiny bass
flashing through its purling rapids or sulking in deep dark pools.
There was good fishing in Grass Lake but waist-high marsh grass
saw-edged barred the way for nearly half a mile.
But just ahead of them Plum Run had widened out once more to real
river size its waters penned back by concrete rock and timber dam
with Parry's Mill on the east bank.
"Land me on the other side above the big cottonwood" decided
Frank. "There's a weedy little bight up there where I predict a two-
pound bass in twenty minutes."
"I'll try the stretch just below working toward the dam I guess.
How about you Jerry!" asked Dave.
"I'll stay with the boat awhile I reckon. Where away boatman?"
"Dam" grunted Tod.
"Not swearing I take it?" inquired Jerry.
Dave and Frank were dropped out at the cottonwood where they were
soon exchanging much sage advice concerning likely spots and proper
bait. Jerry and Tod chuckled as they rowed away. Tod himself was
keen on still fishing with worms or grubs; he liked to sit and dream
while the bait did the work; but his quarreling with Dave and Frank
was mostly make-believe. Jerry the best fisherman of the four
believed as he said in "making the bait fit the fish's mouth." His
tackle-box held every kind of hook and lure; his steel rod and
multiple reel were the best Timkin's Sporting Goods Store in town
could furnish; they had cost him a whole summer's savings.
Tod rather laughed at Jerry's equipment. His own cheap brass reel
and jointed cane pole with heavy linen line was only an excuse.
Throw-lines with a half dozen hooks were his favorites and a big
catfish his highest aim. As soon as the boat hit the dam he began
getting out his lines. Jerry jumped lightly over the bow.
"Shall I tie you up?" he called over his shoulder.
"Never mind Jerry. I think I'll work in toward the shore a bit
first and anyway she can't drift upstream." So Jerry went on his
way out toward the middle of the dam.
It was really a monstrous affair that dam. The old part was built
on and from solid rock being really a jutting out of a lime stone
cliff which had stood high and dry before the water had been dammed
up by the heavy timber cribs cutting across the original stream.
Concrete abutments secured these timbers and linked the walls of
stone with the huge gates opening into the millrace that fed the
water to the ponderous undershot millwheel. Just now the gates were
open and the water rushed through with deafening force. Jerry made
his way across the stonework section having a hard time in the
water-worn crevices slimed over with recent overflows for when the
millgates were closed Plum Run thundered over this part of the dam
in a spectacular waterfall.
He had hardly reached the flat concrete before he noticed that the
roar from the millrace had ceased; the gates had been closed. All
the better; this part of the river was shallow; when the water rose
big fish would be coming in to scour over the fresh feeding grounds.
So he moved a little nearer shore and quickly trimmed his lines. He
heard a hail from the bank as he made his first cast. It was from
"Mind if I come out and try my luck beside you?"
"Not at all. Water's coming up fast. Best try some grubs or worms
though. No good for minnows here now."
"Sure" agreed Dave settling comfortably beside him. "Water sure is
filling up isn't she? Guess the Miller of the Dee dropped a
cogwheel into his wheat."
"Not wishing anybody any bad luck but I hope they don't start up
again all day. This'll be a backwater as soon as the current starts
going over the dam. Another six inches--say! Look at Tod. If he
isn't fishing right above the flume. Wonder if he's noticed."
"Noticed? He's got a bite that's what! Look at him bending to it.
It's a big one you bet. Golly did you see that!"
"I see more than that" exclaimed Jerry grimly dropping his
precious pole and starting across the slippery rocks on the run. "If
he doesn't get out of there in about thirty seconds he's going over
But just as Jerry mounted the last clump of rocks just as Dave's
desperate shouts had aroused Tod to a realization of his danger--
something happened. You have watched a big soap bubble swelling the
one last impossible breath; you have seen a camp coffee kettle
boiling higher and higher till _splush!_ the steaming brown mass
heaves itself into the fire--the bending crowding mile-wide surface
of Plum Creek found a sudden outlet. And right in the center of that
outlet was a plunging tiny boat.
"Help!" rang out one choked-off cry as in a great rush of suddenly
foaming flood over the dam plunged a boat and a terrorized boy.
A HOPELESS SEARCH
In the brief instant that Jerry stood on the slippery point of rock
he had the queer feeling that it was all a horrible dream or at
least only an impossible scene from a motion picture. Where a boat
had been a second before was now only a seething tossing down-
tumbling wall of brownish foam.
But his stunned inaction was quickly gone. Down to the very edge of
the flood he raced almost losing his balance and toppling in. At a
dangerous angle he leaned over and peered into the churning water-
Dave had come hurrying to his side to miss his footing at the last
and plunge waist-deep into the current. A precious moment was lost
in rescuing him. When both safe on the rocky ledge they turned to
scan the depths of the fall it was to see a dark object suddenly
pop up full fifty feet downstream. It was the boat--but no Tod.
"Did you see it!" cried Jerry excitedly. "Didn't it look like
something blackish in the bottom of the boat?"
"She's full of water that's all. Tod's down there under the fall.
He's drowned I tell you! What shall we do? What shall we do!"
Excitable Dave was fast losing his head.
"Come on!" shouted Jerry aroused by the helplessness of his
companion. "We've got to get to the mill and have them turn the
water through the race. Then we've got to get a boat out there--
But he had not waited for Dave. Across the river just below the dam
was a house. If there was a telephone there--Jerry knew there was
one at the mill--something might yet be done in time. There was of
course no way of reaching the mill itself across that raging
torrent. There _was_ a telephone at the house but it seemed hours
after Jerry reached it before he finally got a gruff "Hello" from
the mill manager Mr. Aikens. But fortunately Aikens was not slow
to grasp the situation. In the midst of his explanations Jerry
realized that there was no one at the other end of the wire.
Out of the house he dashed and down to where in his wild race he had
seen a boat moored below the dam. The oars were still in place.
Barely waiting for the panting Dave to tumble in he pushed off
exultingly noting as he strained at the oars that already the volume
of water pouring over the falls had lessened. Before he reached the
main channel it had dwindled to a bare trickle.
"Take the oars!" he directed the helpless Dave at the same time
stumbling to the bow of the boat and jerking off shoes shirt and
trousers. Diving seemed a hopeless undertaking but there was little
else to do. Again and again he plunged under coming up each time
nearly spent but desperately determined to try again. Two boats put
out from the mill side of the river capable Mr. Aikens in one of
them. A grappling hook trailing from the stern of the boat told that
such accidents as this were not unusual in treacherous Plum Run.
Then began a search that exhausted their every resource. The ill
word had speedily gone around among the nearer houses and in the
course of an hour a great crowd of men appeared from Watertown
itself. The water was black with boats and alive with diving bodies.
Hastily constructed grappling hooks raked the narrow stream from
side to side. A big seine was even commandeered from a houseboat up
the river and dragged back and forth across the rough river bed till
the men were worn out.
But all to no avail. Every now and then a shout of discovery went
up but the booty of the grappling hooks invariably proved to be
only watersoaked logs or mud-filled wreckage. Once they were all
electrified at a black-haired body dislodged by a clam-rake that
came heavily to the surface and then sank to be the subject of ten
minutes frantic dragging only to be finally revealed as the body of
an unfortunate dog.
It was heart-breaking work and the tension was not lessened with
the appearance on the scene of Mr. Fulton Tod's father. He said