Missing from school, or, The mysterious disappearance of Billy Bird

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Missing from school, or, The mysterious disappearance of Billy Bird

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Title:
Missing from school, or, The mysterious disappearance of Billy Bird
Series Title:
Pluck and luck
Creator:
Austin, Howard
Place of Publication:
New York, New York
Publisher:
Frank Tousey
Publication Date:
Language:
English
Physical Description:
29 pages ; 28 cm

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Subjects / Keywords:
Dime novels ( lcsh )
Adventure stories ( lcsh )
Sea stories ( lcsh )
Treasure troves -- Fiction ( lcsh )
Genre:
serial ( sobekcm )

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Source Institution:
University of South Florida
Holding Location:
University of South Florida
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All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
033202075 ( ALEPH )
896442852 ( OCLC )
P28-00041 ( USFLDC DOI )
p28.41 ( USFLDC Handle )

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serial

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No. 1521 NEW YORK, .JULY 1927 .. g o o f t h. . -d Jl. e ca.no ''' ad come Tlie. he shouted" Th a.n\l 'was. sw e canoe to_Ppled over. e : out of sight. Qui tkh? .. *..i-<." .. b ,, rew out bi c a l!ac:ter down 8 anns, and .. .. .... ,., . .. :.: mto the Pot ' -, ' -I _.

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' PLUCK AND LUCK I1imed WeelrJy-Subscription price, lf4.00 per year; Canadian, Foreign $5 .00. Copyright 192'7 111 Westbury J'ubllshing Co., Inc., HO Cedar Street, New York, N. l'. Enterf'd 'ns Second cia8s Matter' Dec. 8, 1911, at tile l'ost-Ultice at New York, N. Y .. under t h e Act o t March 3, 187'J No. 1521 NEW Y O RK, July 27, 1927 P rice 8 Cents. Missing From School OR, THE MYSTERIOUS OF BILLY BIRD B y H OWARD AUSTIN CHAPTER 1.-How the Canoe Went Over the Falls. "Look out for Billy! Hey; boys, look out f o r Billy Bird!" Raymond Whitcomb gave a _shout which was heard all over Spy Pond and threw the boys of Dr. Whiteside's Academy into a state of excitement at once. ''He'll upset!" shouted one. "He'll go over the falls, sure pop!" cried another. "Head him off, boys! Head him off!" a dozen yelled, but Joe Quigley, the school bully, who always rejoiced in other people's misfortunes and made a j oke of them, sat back in his canoe and laughed. Raymond Whitcomb, commonly called Ray b y his schoolfellows, was too far in the rear to help the boy, who, by bad management of his canoe, had got himself into trouble and was now being b lown perilously near the falls, where the water of Spy Pond went tumbling over the only bed of rocks anywhere to be found in the vicinity of Lyndon, Michigan, forming the Fox River, a stream not more than a mile in length, which in time of freshet went rushing into Lake Michigan with an energy which ought to have entitled it to a longer existence and was there lost. But his cry of warning had been heard and this saved the boy from an accident which might have been serious The boys who were nearest to him changed their course and ran their canoes in front of Billy's, which brought him to a temporary standstill and enabled him to again get control of his sail. It was practice day for the Canoe Club of Dr. Whiteside's Academy. A canoe regatta was in the wind and a few weeks later it was proposed to sail a race with a Chicago club, which had challenged the school. The race was to take place on the lake, but this was too distant from the academy to make it possible to practice there--and often too dangerous-Spy Pond had been chosen, being at the foot of the little rise upon which the academy stood. "You better give it up, Bill!" shouted Joe Quig ley, sarcas tically, when the canoes swung around and' stood back up the pond. "You can't do anything with your old tub and there's no use trying. Better go back to school and help the girls play B illy Bird made no answer. He was rather a boy and, _though fu}l of ambition to j oin his m all their sports, his lack ot physical strength, combined with a certain "backhandness,". as Ray always it, made it very hard for hrm to hold up his end. "Shut up, Joe! You're picking at Billy," called Ray, from his canoe, where he was making some changes in his sail, which was the reason he had not joined in the run. "That's what he is!" cried Fred Fielding. "There isn't a clumsier hand at canoe sailing than J oe himself. The bumptiou s Master Quigley was o n his ear" in an instant. Fact was, Joe was always r owing," forever kicking up a muss. Becau s e his father was a rich contractor and a promi nent ward politician in Chicago, Joe labored un der the delusion that he could "boss" the whol e school. It was true that he did succeed in bullying the younger b oys, but when it came to Ray and Fred anti the other ones they simply would not stand it, which fact Ray had taken occasi6n to impress upon the bully's rather limited under standing more than once. "Bet you I can sail close to the falls and not go over!" cried Joe, boasting. "I done it twice last week when I was practicing here alone." "You had better go and practice grammar," sneered Fred. "'Done it twice.' Ha! ha! ha!'" "Shut up there, Fielding, or I'll break your head!" c1ied Quigley, but Ray put a stop to the quarrel by calling "time." This meant to get in line for ano ther race. The goal was a certain big tree about a hundred feet from the falls. The object of this exercise was to determine which were actually the best canoes in the fleet, as the selection at the coming race was to be limited to four. Incidentally, also, was to be demonstrated which of the boys was the most expert. All hands were ambitious to figure in the race, but as only four could have that honor the competition was naturally keen. It was a beautiful afternoon in the latter part of April, perhaps a little too windy, but otherwise a perfect day for this sort of work. Over on the shore near the tree the girls of Professo r White side's Academy were gathered, watching the movements of the canoes. Carrie James Wafil :there, so was Olive Moore an d Mami4'

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2 MISSING FROM SCHOOL and a d o zen more o r l ess popular with the boys, who, under the circumstance s, naturally wanted to niake the be s t display of their skill possible. And while they were getting in lin e let u s pause to say a word about Dr. Whiteside's famous acad emy for boys and girls ,which was and still is one of the most th(>rough, a s well as popular, educational institutions in the neighborhood of Chicago. Bes ides the cano e club there were many other clubs in connection with the school, but as our story principally concerns the boys who were gathered on Spy Pond that April day, we will return to them at once. "Ready! Let her go!" shouted Ray, and this time the start was made in good shape. Ray and Fred kept pretty close together and had the lead from the start. Joe Quigley was third at first and then dropped back j;o the place. Poor Billy Bird, who felt himself thor oughly called down by what had occurred, made the start with the rest, but immediately pulled cut and sailed -his canoe to the float, at the foot of the school grounds. "There they go! They are off!" cried the girls from the shore. . "Oh, look 11t Ray! Isn't he just splendid!" ex-: claiined Carrie James. "Doesn't he handle his canoe well?" ':Not half as as Fred," replied Olive ?doore. "Fred is the handsomest fellow in the sdiool." Ray passed the tree half a length in advance of Fred, who certainly m _ade a good second. The others came trailing after them, Joe Quigley coming up sixth. The girls screamed with excitement, as girls will, and applauded Ray and Fred.' The move now was to make a circuit and beat against the wind. Ray started to do so, when all at once Joe Quigley, instead of keeping his place, shot right across the course toward the falls. "Get back out of that, Joe! you crazy?" shouted Ray, who had all he could to do to prevent a collision. "Indeed I won't!" cried Joe. "I'll show you fellers how near I can run to the falls. I'm out of the race anyhow and I'll go where I please." "You'll go to pot if you keep on that way and take. your canoe with you!" cried Fred. To "go to pot" is a favoritesaying among boys, of course, but below the falls was a hole filled with jagged rocks, where the water was al ways foaming and boiling, as it tried to force its way into Fox River. This was called the "Pot" by the boys, and while a canoe might shoot the falls in safety-they were only twelve feet high-it could never hope to survive the P6t and to avoid b eing dashed to pieces on the rocks. Ray knew the danger and he knew only too well that Joe was but a clum s y hand at canoeing. "He'll go over as sure as fate!" he shouted. "Some one must look after him or he'll be drowned." He swung around and drove his canoe over to the shL.-e, where the girls stood; the work of a moment only. "0h, look at him! Joe will go over the falls!" screamed Mamie Sheldon, and a dozen other girls !Ldtled their cries to hers, but instead of acting as a warning to the stupid braggart in the canoe, they only served to make him more determined to try his risky experiment and make the turn at the very edge of the falls. As for Ray, he never doubted from the first what the result would be. "He' s in for it, girls,'' he cried, and ran along the b ank to the edge of the falls He had scarcely reached it when Joe started to make his turn. Instantly the wind swept the canoe broadside OR toward the falls and Joe ran up his true colors at last. "Oh, sa've me! save me!" he yelled, and then, hke the fool that he was, stood up in -the canoe. "Sit down!" cried Fred. "Sit dowJl, you idiot! Sit down!" The girls on the shore screamed. Carrie James covered her face with her hands, calling out: "Oh, don't, Ray! Don't go!" Ray had'.thrown otf his hat and coat and kicked the-shoes from his feet. "Hold on, Quigley! Don't let go of the canoe!" he shoutect. en
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MISSING FROM SCHOOL little. I'll be swept into Fo:ii: Rived I can't hold on here!" Joe yelled, full of words, as usual, but with few ideas. Ray swam to his s de and flung his arm about him, just as he slipped his hold on the rock. "Stop that yelling I Be a man and I'll save you!" he shouted. "No, don't try to _grab me; if you do I'll let you go I Ah, you will, will you? Take that, you fool I"' Ray just had to haul off an_ d hit him or J \)e would have dragged them both down. For this Joe never forgave him, though it brought the fool ish -fellow to his senses at the time. Meanwhile, the boys were running their canoes ashore with the intention of coming down the. bank to what was going on below the falls. As they came down the hill they saw Ray treading water in the Pot, holding Joe by the legs, while Carrie James was bending down over the water tryini to seize the .hands of the frightened boy. "Catch him, Carrie!" cried Ray. "I'll hold him up! Be careful now, Joe, that you don't pull Carrie in, and on your life don't you kick c me." It was the biggest risk Ray had taken yet, for Joe was a chump if ever there was one. The instant he got hold of Carrie's hand, instead of waiting a second for Ray to push him forward, he kicked back violently and.the young life-saver got it in the head. "Ohl oh! oh!" screamed the girls, in chorus. "Save Rayl'' shouted Fred Fielding. "You idiot! I wish I had let you drown!" cried Carrie,' as she dragged Joe upon the shore. If Ray Whitcomb had been one of the nervous, scary sort he would have seen-his finish in short order, but, as a matter of fact, he was nothing af the kind. Joe's heel had bruised his forehead, but had not hurt him. His danger was now in drowning himself by .his own struggles or in. being out into the lake. "If I can keep my head above water -I'm iii no real danger," thought Ray. "Only thing is to keep from getting swamped in the rush: The best way to accomplish tliis was to. Ile on his back, that was certain, and Ray got iilto that po11ition as quick as possible. He tried .-to go_ down feet first, but found it impossible to keep himself in position, for the force of the current would swing him around, so he 'just let himself RQ and went flying head first dowh the stream. i must look alive for the he thought. don't want to be swept out. I ought to be able to get. ashore at the old foundry. It will ,only be a moment now." And while the river is carrying Ray along at fearful speed let us pause for a moment more and explain about that same "old foundry," on. account of the bearing it has upon what hap pened later on. Many years before the mouth of Fox River was a scene of activity. A loco motive works had been established there, a large Iron foundry was built and a machine i;hop and wharf, besides a large house for the superin tendent and a number of small ones for the op in the works. For a long time business flourished there, but at last the concern failed and for some reason the expensive plant was .never again operated. The longer it lay idle t;he :worse it grew. The machinery rusted, became antiquated and behind the times, the buildings began falling into a ruinous condition, until at' last .everything worth removing was taken away by a Chicago junk dealer and the plant entirely abandoned. "The deserted village," Dr. Whiteside's pupils called it, and it certainly could not have had a better name. Right alongside these ruined buildings Fox Riv er emptied into the lake and it was at the old wharf on the-riverside that Ray meant to make his landing,_ apd did. He was all prepared for business when he shot out from between the sand hills. Turning over on _his stomach, he strucl( out for the wharf and managed to catch hold of one of the piles which held it up, where he clunn .on desperately, for the current was running like a mill-race and. his strength was almost gone. But he was not saved yet by any means. To climb upon the wharf was impossible, for the piles were fearfully slippery. On either side there was a wall Qf planks, which supported the bank. This wall was six feet high and as. slippery aa glass. Ray could no more climb it than he cotild :fly. "Oh, if I only had some one to throw me a rope!" he thought. "I can't climb up and I ca:Q hold on but a moment. I had better let myseH go and take my chances in the lake." He was just about to give up when sudden!,-. the last thing that Ray expected -to happen there in the deserted vi!Jage occurred. A man sud denly looked down upon him from the wharf. 1 "Helio; boy I What in thunder are you doing there?" he exclaimed, and Ray also gave .an ex clamation of astonishiment, for never in .his life, outside of a dime museum, had he seen anything like this before. The man who stood lookil.lg down at him was sev,en feet tall at the very least. C1!AI'TER Conduct of Billy Bird. "Boy, do you want to get up out of that?'1 asked thegiant, twisting his face up into the most hor _rible knots, a cro s s between a scowl and a smile. "Well, naturally," replied Ray. "I don't want to stay here. Can't you raise a rope or some thing and give me a lift." '!I can do it without a rope," replied the giant. "I'll give you a hand." Probably there was not another man in the State of Michigan who could have done it, but the giant on the wharf could, and did. He lay down and, bracing his fe et, bent over so far that Ray fully expected to see him topple over and come tumbling down on top of him. He put out his Jong, right arm and called to Ray to take hold. Strength hardly o..."'
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MISSING FROM SCHOOI; pearnnce more absurd, he wore on his head a bat tered old plug hat which made him look a foot taller than he really was. "Ha! Well, boy, you are out of that scrape. all right," he said, in a high-pitched, rasping voice. "You are all wet, but it might have been worse. What's your name?" "My name is Ray Whitcomb," repli.ed our h'.ero, "and I'm sure I am very much obliged to you, sir. I might have saved myself in the lake, but I couldn't have held on there a minute more." "Probably not," replied the giant. "How did you get there, boy?" . Ray told his story, the screwmg face up into a hundred knots while he was talkmg. "Don't do a thing like that again," he snapped. "N' o sense in sacrifi.cing your own life to save that of a fool. So you are one of Dr. Whiteside's pupils, are you? Do you know a boy they call Billy Bird?" . "Very well, sir. Billy is one of my particular friends." : The giant screwed his face 'up again .. His UI_J per set of fals e teeth dropped down mto fas mouth at the same time and he forced them back into place with a gobbling noise which WR:S very unpleasant, for Ray thought he was gomg to swallow them. "One of your particular friends, eh?" he re peated. "Just so. Boys make friends Old fellows like me know better. Ray Wh1tcombJ I have done you a service. Will you tio one for me?" . "Certainly, sir,'' replied Ray, puttmg his hand into his pocket, for he fancied he knew what was coming. "No, no, not that! Put up your money!" in terposed the giant. "I am no tramp, althougli. I may look like one to you. I Y?,u to take this letter and deliver it to Billy Bird. As he spoke the giant drew a sealed envelope from his. pocket, where, judging. froi;n its greasy, crumpled appearanc.e, Ray fanc1ed.1t must ha';e remained a long while, and placed it m the boys hand. "Do that for me and you will oblige me,'' he. said. "You will also save me the necessity of delivering it my.self, which, for various reasons, I don't want to do." "I'll do it, sir," replied wonderingly, foz: he could not imagine what th'is strange creature could possibly have t-0 do with Billy "Who shall I say gave it.. to me?" he asked. "You don't have to say," replied the giant. "The letter tells that. Good day, young man.' Hopeyou don't get cold"" . When Ray .turned the corner of the. old fo?n dry the gia!1t was t? be seen. Bemg in his stockmg-feet and dr1ppmg wet,_ Ray was. certainly in poor shape to start off giant hunt ing and he came to the very sensible conclusion that as a mile lay between him and the academy the best thing he' could do was to cover it as quickly as possible, and with the letter in his hand he started off on the run. The path 'Yas a lonely one-there was no regular road leadn:ig his way-and Ray had more than half-covered the distance when_ he heard loud shouts_ ahead of him. and saw a great crowd of the ":Whitesides," as the a cadeln.y boys called. them-.. .-: 1 ; selves, running do\vn the path, with .Fred ing in the lead. It was a joYful meeting; there was a lot said on both siiles, but we pass it over. as lightly as Ray did the compliments of his friends. . "Pshawr It was notl;ii ng, boys; just nothing at ell," he declared. "I had a queer adventure at the end, though, which I must tell you about. Where's Billy Bird? I've got a letter for him." Then came the story of the, giant and th& gre.atest curiosity was aroused. But it was not "to be satisfied then, for Billy was not among the rest, nor was Joe Quigley, who had gone straight back to school for dry clothes. "And will you believe it, Ray," said Fred, who made this announcement, "Joe had the gall to say that you crowded him over the dam? Never a word. about your saving his life, either. He said, though, if you hadn't' punched !iim there in the Pot he could have got out by. himself." It was nearly dark when the boys reached the academy and, as the supper-bell .was about to ring, Ray had just time to change his clothes. The talk the last part of the way had all run to canoes, as usual, and Ray forgot the giant and the letter, too, for, as it happened, he saw noth: ing of Billy Bird until the retiring bell rang and he met him in dormitory No. 10, which he shared with Billy and Fred. "Oh, Ray, I never knew a thing about your ac cident until just a little while ago!" exclaimed Billy . "You see, I went up in the woods alone and after supper I went right to studying. I'm glad you came out of it all right." "'Thank you, Billy. There never' was any danger, though," replied Ray. 'I've' got something to tell you, old man, but first let me give you this." Ray went to his coat, which he had hung up fo:r the night, and took out the letter. "For me, Ray?" demanded Billy, seeing his name written across it. "Where in the world did you get this?" "Got it from a giant down at the deserted village," laughed Ray. "What!" "Oh, read it and find out. I'll tell you all about it then. Say, Fred, I think I'll have to lighten up my canoe. She carries too much weight altogether and-hello! What'!Vthe matter here. ?' Billy Bird had uttered a sharp Cl'y. "Oh, Rayl Oh, Ray!" he called out, clutching the letter. in his hand. : "What is it? What in the world is the. matter with: you, Billy?" cried ,to the boy, who seemed to be sliffe;rmg some ter-rible .shock. "Oh, don't ask iel I can't tell yo u. I must go! I must go!'! -Ray thre.w his around him and tried to_ take the letter but Billy pulled awl1y and thrust it into liis pocket, saying, "No, no! No, no!" "Tell me what's the matter?" demanded Ray. no! I can't!. I can't! I must go!" "Go where?" "No matter! No matter! I can't explain!" "But you can't get out tonight; the gates are locked. Unles' s you want to rout up Dr. Whiteside you. can't get .out of the school.'! '''."Yes, I know! I mustwaittill morninJ[. Then

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MISSING FROM SCHOOL 5 it will be t,00 late. I_ am quiet now. Who gave 'YOU that letter, Ray?" Ray ha;Stily told the giant. Billy walked to wmdow while he was ta1king and stood lookmg out. Suddenly he gave a sharp cry and caught Ray by the arm. "Look! Look!" he exc)ajmed. "Is that the man?" c Fred rushed. to the wi,ndow as Ray hastily th:rew up the sash. There was a little hill back of -the school, the top of which rose above the wall, and there, standing upon it in the full moonlight, was a man seven"j'eet tall at the least. "That's the man!" he cried. "Then I'm lost!' gasped Billy, and he threw himself on the bed, face downward, and sobbed as though his heart would break. The instant the boys showed themselves at the qpen window the giant ran down the hill and disappeared. For an hour or more Ray and Fred worked over Billy, but they could draw nothing out of him. At last he fell asleep, with the letter still clutched in his hand. Fred was for taking it away and reading it, but Ray refused to resort to any such met'hod to solve the mystery, so the boys left Billy as he was and tumbled into bed. A little after midnight Ray, woke up. "Billy!" he called. "Hey, Billy!" There was ..no. answer. Ray got up and struck a matcti. To his amazement the adjoining bed was vacant. Billy .Bird had disappeared and upon the bed lay a scrap of paper with these words hastily scrawled: "Ray:-lf I am not in to breakfast you will -never see me .alive again . Look for my body in Lake Michigan; it .is all you can do. Always your fri!?nd, BILLY BIRD." CHAPTER IV-Those Ghostly Lights. If there were ever tWo thoroughly astonished boys in Doctor Whiteside's Academy it was Ray Whitcomb and Fred Fielding that night in dormitory No. 10. For a moment the two boys stood looking at each other in blank amazement. ('Let me see the note," said Fred. "It can't be that you have read it straight." '"Oh, but I have," said Ray. "Look at it for :tourse}f if you don't believe me." :<"That's surely what it says," mused Fred, looking over the paper. "How in the world do you suppose he got away?" \ "There's the window." "Yes, but he couldn't have jumped out. It's forty feet down to the gr.ound." "You don't seem to realize that the clothes have been stripped off that spare' bed. Of course, he tied them together and dropped down as easy as rolling off a log-look' here, I 'told you I was 1 ight." The window stood wide open when Ray first got out of bed, but in the excitement of 'the moment he.had not looked out until now. The conditiol'.l of t:ti.i.i:igs outside the window told the story. There was the rope, of bed clothes hanging to a big hook which had been screwed into wgather-boarding. This. impro-. ed rope almost the gr9und and aS . l 1 .I.' the blankets, sheets and coverlet. had been firmly kpotted together the boys saw that Billy had experienced no difficulty in Teaching the school yard, but there was the fence to be scaled after that. "That's the hook tbat was swiped out of the boat-house!" exclaimed Fred. "That's w)lat it is,'' replied Ray, examining .. "No_t a doubt about it. Billy must have had it m his pocket all the time." "Looks so. He must have had this very thing in mind." "I agree with you. Billy has been in a bad state oi mind this long while nervuus as a cat afraid of his own shadow. 1Remember how used to watch when the mail-bag came in. He's been expecting that letter, you may be sure. Oh, what a fool I was to take it from that man." "Don't say that, Ray. How could you know? Billy was a strange fellow, anyhow. Don't you know that we never could find out who his folks were or just where he came from? I always 'supposed that Doctor Whiteside knew, but now I'd like to bet high that he doesn't know any more it than do ourselves. Let's get downstairs and rout him up an dtell him what has happened. What do you say?" "I say no," replied Ray, decidedly. "If Billy had wanted to take Doctor Whiteside into his co_ nfidence he would have done it. Don't let's kick up a row before morning, but I'll tell you what I will do with you, Fred." "What?" "Follow him." "I'm with you." "We may be able to trace him. If we can, then a chance of coming up with him always. We ve got five hours good ahead of us before daylight and a lot can be done in that time." No proposition could have pleased Fred Field ing better, for lie was as full of the love of ad venture as most boys of his age. Followii;ig Ray's ex31mp!e, he hurriedly dressed and in a few mo ments the two boys were ready to act. Ray let himself down by the rope of bedclothes over hand; Fred lost his grip and slid down, but' reached the yard all right. ";K'.eep as quiet as possible," whispered Ray. "There will be trouble if we are caught at this game." They stood still, listening. The windows of the big building were all dark and not a sound broke the midnight silence ''.How are we going to get over the fence?" whispered Fred. "If Billy got over I guess yve can, all right; come down by the barn, like enough he found a ladder there." Ray had hit it right. There, leaning against the fence alongside the barn, was an old stepladder. Ray went up first, and, throwinghimself over the fence, hung on and dropped to the ground below, Fred immediately following his example. "How in. the world are we ever going to get back again?" he questiond, as he stood .beside who was looking at the ground between the fence .and the rise of the hill. "We'll leave that to take care of itself, Fred; see, here'13 where Billy jumped down-see the mark of h,is feet?" "I 40. Which 'V!ay do you suppose he

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-I MrssrNG. rto:M scHoat "If tl,ie, ground' were Ol)lY a I little,' softer could easily tell, but I take it to be 'up the hill anyhow." "Why?" "'Becau s e that's .the shortes t way to the path which leads down to the deserted village.-" "Y ou think he has gone there?" "Well, it's the only thing I can think. Of course, I may be all wrong, .though." . "We'll try that way first," said 'Fred, and they hurried up the hill, passed down on the other side and struck the path. Here it was soft sand and Ray had a hope that he might strike some-thing like a trail. He was not Stooping down he struck a match and carefully searched for footprints, finding them in a moment. They were four. in :r:iumber, two very large ones and twQ, medmm-s1zed ones. They led off in the direction ()f the deserted village, just as Ray had expected them to do. "There you are, Fred!" he exclaimed. "Billy and the see." "The path is sandy in a dozen places," said Fred. "We ought to be able to trace them so." "We can only try it," replied Ray. "They can't be long gone. We may catch up with them. Run, Fred! Run for your life! That long-legged snoozer is too old to get over the ground very fast." At the top of the hill Ray came to a halt, thor-oughly winded by his exertions. ";No sign of them yet," panted Fred, "but they certainly went this way." "Yo u noticed the footprints, then?" "Oh. yes, they were plain enough. Ray, what can it all mean?" "Don't ask me. I'm sure I can't tell. We must get down there and though." "Hold on," whispered Fred. "Great Scotti There's a light moving in one of those buildings now. Upstairs in that long shop just beyond the foundry-don't you see?" "Why, of. course, I see: We've treed our game all right, I guess. Come 'on!" "Wait a minute. Let's watch the light an d see where it goes." "Come on! Come on!" "No, wait! Say, it's moving downstairs-don't you see it passing the windows? There, now, it is gone altogether. Say, Ray, it can't be a watch man? no one taking charge of the old buildings now." "No, no! Hasn't been in my time." "I know, but s ome concern may. have bought ,the plant and be getting read y to start up again." "You can figu,re it that way if you want to, Fred, but I tell you it isn't so. Your light has '.l'anished. Now, will you come on?" They had covered about half the distance when suddenly a strage thing occurred which was so startling that it brought the boys up. with a round turn. All at once every window of the :upper story of the old machine shop was ablaze :with light and both boys distinctly saw dark fig :ures moving about the large room. "Gnosts, by gravy!" gasped Fred. "The stories ithev tell about the deserted village are true after ,.i1.r. "Nonsense! It can't be sol" cried Ray, "but as true as .'rou live there is some one in there, Fred..'' . I "Some one! Why, there's twenty men at least: Look, Ray, lo_ok Don't you see thein behind the windows there?" "Indeed I do! Come on. I'm bound to know what all this means." But Fred was good and scared and he held back, while Ray started boldly down the hill. ; V.-The Mystery Deepens. Of course Fred could not stay behind after this. So he ran on down the hill after Ray, coming up with him just as he _reached the foundry yard. By this time the situation had completely altered. The lights in the windows of the upper story of the old machine shop had now entirely disappeared and the deserted village had relapsed into its usual glooniy condition. All was dark and "pokerish" and to think of making a closer investigation was anything but pleasant. Ray paused beside the old foundry and waited for Fred to come up. "Say, one of us has got to tackle that machine shop," he whispered, "and I'm going to be the You'll stand by me, Fred, in case trou-ble comes?" i "Why, of course." "No holding back now. You'll do just '!hat I do!' "You bet. Count on me, old man." "Then come on," said Ray, boldly. "We might as well take the bull by the horns as to muss around its tail. I'm going straight upstairs into that room, ghosts or no ghosts, for I am satisfied that it's the only way we will ever solve the mystery about Billy Bird." Ray ran up the steps and knocked on the door with as much assurance as if it had been broad daylight, but his heart was in his mouth and he was secretly glad when Fred caught hold of hisc coat-tail, for there was no denying that he was badly scared. There was no answer at first, so Ray knocked again and again. Presently both the boys were startled by hear the sound of heavy footsteps behind the door. "Some one is coming!" gasped Fred. "llushl Keep cool!" whispered Ray. "Whoever )I. it is he doesn't : seem to be in a hurry to open .. up. Ah! Look thel'.e!" . Ray pointed to the window, which opened on the platform at the top of the steps right alongside the .doo.r . There was a man's face at the window. A hideously ugly face, all twisted up into knots. It was the giant, fast enough. He held up a lantern close to the pane and stared o:ut at the boys. "Great Scotti What a facel" gasped Fred. .. "Let's slope, Ray." "You bet I won't," answered Ray. "I only wish I had a revolver-that's all. Hush! He is going to open the It was certainly very startling. The door of the upper story of the old machine shop had not been built to accommodate the giant, but there he was behind it when it dew back. "W elll What is itY" he demanded. "What do you want here -at this time of night?" Ray, by a great effort of mind, managed tel. keep his wits about him.

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MISSING FROM SCHOOL 7 "How are you, sir?" he said. "Is Billy Bird in here?" "Is Billy Bird in here?" he drawled, sarcastically. "What a question to ask a respectable American Citizen at this nour of the-night. Young men, go away-go right away if you know what's good for you. Do you hear?" "Well, I hear all right, but I am not going to do it until you answer, just the same." "No?" muse d the giant. "Then, as I want to get rid o f you, I suppo se I had better answer .right away. "I'm w aiting," said Ray. "I did your errand, but I don't like the way it tUt;n e d out. I'll give you the question again-is Billy Bird in here?" "Oh, I unders t and your question all r ight,'' chuckl e d the gia11t, dropping h i s teeth and gob blin g them up again. "He r e's my answer: Yes, Billy Bird is in here." "Then we w ant to i:.ee him." "Come on Fred I" he cried, hurried cjown the stairs and ran down to the lower floor, ing against a door which, upon be'ingy0pened, brought them into the yard on the side of the builcting toward the lake. "Gee! Look there!" shouted Fred, but Ray, without answering, dashed on to the bulk11ead. A good-sized sailboat was just putting off on the lake. There were two figures on board, one the giant, who was handling the sheet and tiller with no little skill. The oth e r was Billy Bird h imse lf, and he l eaned. far over the rail and, pulling off "his h at, w a v e d it at the b o y s "Good by, Fred!" he shouted. "Good-by, Rayl say good-by to all the fello ws for me, for you never see me again. -CHAPTER VI.-What Happene d On the Lake. "Suppose I say you can' t ? Ray and Fred hardly knew h o w the y got back "Suppose I t e ll y o u that I don't leave this to dormitory No. 10 fo 1 every instant of the way place till I do?" it was nothing but speculat10n about this mys" Don't b e sas sy, boy." ter iou s affair in which they had played such a "The n don t you b e aggravating. W e are not prominent part. Onc e in the room the two boys here to interfere with Billy s business. We want kept on talking about the matter until _morning, to speak to him...,--that's all." and. then the very first thing the y went to Doctor "Cheeky!" growled the giant. "Decidedly Whiteside's apartments and made a cl ean breast cheeky. Still, I suppose the cheapest way is to of the affair and were roundly called down for humor you. Wait a moment. I'll see what he not having done it bef.ore. says." "You ought to have come to me, boys, no mat. He slammed the door in their faces and left ter what the h.our was,'' said the doctor. "Thi'f them standing there in the moonlight. They could is a very serious matter. I am astonished, Whithear his footsteps retreating along the passage comb, that a boy of your c ommon sense should and then all was still. not have better appreciated the situation. There "'Ray,'' whispered Fred, "for heaven's sake.let's was still tim_e to res cue that unfortunate boy, get out of this. I don't want you to think 1m but now it is quite too late. Still, I shall pass afraid, but I don't like that man." -it. over, for I have no doubt you thought you not a bit more afraid than I am,'' were acting for the best." retorted Ray, "but I don't go till I've seen Billy "I a s:sure you I did, :iir," replied Ray, peni-Bird and heard what he's got to 1>ay." tently. "I feel terribly about it. I'm sure my Fred made no further remark and the boys father would be willing to employ a detective, waited for a good ten minutes, but there was not and--" a sound behind the door. "Never mind. I'll talk with you later. This "He's fooling us!" cried Ray, suddenly. "By is a strange business. Do you know anything Jove, Fred, I don't believe -he means to come about Billy Bird?" back at all." "Nqt' a thing, sir. He would never tell us "I'm ready to believe any old thing about that wllere he lived or who his folks were, but probably dime museum freak," replied Fred, "but what you know." do. you propose to do?" : "That's just where you are mistaken," "Go in and find out for ourselves how the the doctor. "'I know nothing at all. Billy Bird case stands with Billy Bird." came here himself, a{ld paid the money for two ".Gee-l No, you don't!" years' tuition in cash. He told me that he was "I will. Let go my coat, Fred Fielding. I -an orphan and that for family reasons he could was born a cowar. d, but I'm going to make :riiynot tell me anything about his past history. He self a brave man if I die for it. Let go of me, begged me so hard to receive him that I did so, I say." although it is entirely against my usual custom, Ray caught at the latch and, to his surprise, and I must say that he has proved himself a found that the giant had not fastened the door very excellent boy." and stranger, still, there stood the lantern on .'Not a better fellow in the school, sir,'' cried the' floor inside. Ray, warmly, "but there was always something "Come on, Fred," he cried, seizing it and run-. peculiar about him. Doctor, I'm half wild about ning along the passage. "If Billy Bird is in it. What shall we do?" this building, I'll blame soon find it out." "Why, I shall think it over,'' replied Doctor Inspired by Ray's boldness, Fred hurried on. Whiteside, "but as a matter of fact, boys, I don't Reaching the end of the passage, Ray threw open see bow I am justified in doing anything. Billy another door, which opened upon a long room Bird came here of his own accord and he bas with many windows-the room in which the lights evidently gone away because he wanted to. I had been seen. It was entirely vacant. Nothing am not his and cannot constitute myself to be seen but a number of old boxes and plenty under the circumstances. Really, if I knew where of dust. he was at the present moment I question ver:v

PAGE 9

MISSING FROM SCHOOL gravely. if I should be justified in forcing him to return to the academy. I see nothing to do but to write after his name in my roll-book, 'miss-ing from school.'" And that was the way the matter rested for the time. Great was the excitement among Doctor Whiteside's pupils when the strange events of the night werP made known and Ray and Fred were called upon to tell their story, again and again. As soon as the day's session was over there was a grand stampede for the deserted village, and the ruinous old buildings were thoroughly ransacked. Ray and Fred went with the rest, for they had a double motive in explo ring the old machi ne shop by daylight. Not a word had they to say about the strange light and moving figures, though. So the days passed and the strange disappearance of Billy Bird still remained a nfystery. Doctor Whiteside, at his ow n expense, put a private detective on the case, but with no better result than spending a considerable sum of money to no purpose whatever, so at last the matter was allowed to drop, and after' Billy Bird's name on the roll book was written in great black letters: MISSING FROM SCHOOL. / The days came and went and the time for the great canoe race drew near. Joe Quigley was now ruled out of the race, much to the disgust of the conceited fellow. But Joe had learned a l esson .by his accident. He wanted to be popular, so h e publicly thanked Ray for saving his life, and on this day he invited Carrie James, Olive Moore and Mamie Sheldon to go out with him
PAGE 10

MISSING FROM SCHOOL 9 him. They lifted the haif-drowned boy between them and carried him into the boat-house. He groaned faintly, but did not speak. "I tell you, Ray, if it's Billy how we can make ,sure!" exclaimed Fred. "How?" "Billy has a big mole on his back. I've often noticed it when we were in swimming." "You are right. I have thought of that. Say, tt must be Billy. It's exactly like him, but oh, he's fallen away so I Looks as though he had been starved almost to death." "We shall soon know," replied Fred. "I guess you're right, though. I guess it's Billy, fast enough, now that I came to look af him closer. We'll rip his clothes off and roll him in a blanket. There's whisky in the locker; you know you had it put there for just such a case as this. We'll give him a drink-do you think the water is all out of him, Ray?" "I think it is," replied Ray. "You get the whisky, I'll undress him." "Yes, and you had better undress yourself, too, or you'll have pneumonia sure," replied Fred, as he hurried off after the bottle. Ray lost no time. Stripping off the boy's clothes, he rolled him in a blanket and poured a small quantity of the whisky down his throat. All doubt that it was their missing school-fellow was now banished from the boys' minds, for there was the mole just as they had expected to see it. "Don't you know me, Billy?" demanded Ray. "No," he said faintly, "I don't know you at all." "Look close at me. You can't help but know me. I'm Ray-
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10 MISSING FROM SCHOOL till morning, if necessary; you can be excused for cealed by a great, shaggy, black beard, looked in. tomorrow and can sleep all day if you like. You Immediately a second man appeared at the win see, I don't care to bring anybody else into this ised and a roan, w ose face was almost con-appeared. At the sound of the wagon-wheels the door at the top of the outside steps opened and head came out into the rain. "Hello!" called a voice. "That you, Taller?" "Yes, it is," replied the man with. the beard. "Got the boy?" "Yes." "Good enough! The boss' orders are for yell to put him aboard the boat: We are not through here yet. You can come up the stairs and knock on the door and I'll pass your money out to you after you are through." "All right;" replied Taller. He got out, lifted Ray, who wa.; s till quite unconscious, out of the wagon and walked off with him, making his way down to the bulkhead. Here two large sailboats lay tied up to the timber. The wind was blowing a fierce gale and the boats were pounding heavily. It was impos sible for Taller to get aboard. either one with

PAGE 12

MISSING FROM scHOOL Ray, in his arms, and he seemed to be doubtful moreover which one to choose. He settled it by tossing Ray upon the deck of the nearest boat. The unconscious boy fell heavily and rolled along the deck against the low gu!lrds with such force that he went over jnto the lake. "Gee!" gasped Taller, "I've drowned him! Well, !et him drown. I can't .go. aiter him. I'll go up and collect my money and light out." Without making the slightest -attempt to find out what had become of Ray, Taller turned on his heel and hurried away, leaving the unfortunate boy to his fate. CHAPTER X_:."Burn Me to Ashes, This Is the Wrong Boy!" Ray had got himself into serious trouble. Al though the man Taller did not intend to drown him, he came very near doing it, just the same. If Ray had gone overboard off the sailboat ten minutes sooner than he did he would have lost his life to a certainty, but as it was the chloro form was beginning to lose its hold and the shock of being suddenly tumbled into cold water brought him back to consciousness at once. He did not realize at all what had happened to him, how ever. All he knew was that he was in the water and wanted to get out, so he grabbed the rocking boat and managed to pull himself on deck, where he sank down, half-unconscious again and with out having. the slightest idea where he was. He was cold, shivery, wet to the skin and his head was whirling Uke a top. He had just sense enough to know that he was on a boat, but he thought it was his own, and, as it happened, so it was. It was the Swan, a fair-sized sailboat, which ought to have been -then -at anchor off the school boat-house. Twice during the season boats had been stolen from the schoolhouse anchorage and here was a third -case, but to Ray's muddli;d mind no such ideascame. It was his boat and he was wet and wanted dry clothes. He knew there was an old suit of his in a locker down in the cabin and he had the key in his He staggered to his feet, stumbled into the cabin, lit a lamp, opened tho locker and took out the clothes. 'l Then it began to seem rather odd that he >.should be on the boat at all and he wondered ,.,J. what it meant, but to save his life he could h not remember where he had been last or why he was on board the Swan. "Why am I here? Why am I here?" he kept saying io himself. He wondered also why his head ached so and what it all meant, anyhow. By this time a dreadfully drowsy feeling seized him. He saw a bunk and lay down and dropped off into a deep sleep. The next thing Ray knew he suddenly awoke, feeling quite himself, but with absolutely no rec ollection of anything that had occurred since he lay down upon the lounge in Doctor Whiteside's study at the foot of the mysterious boy. He started up and stared around. The swinging lamp .over the cabin table showed him where he was, and it was swinging for fair, for the sailboat was now plunging ahead across the lake at a tearful rate. "Great Scottl What is all this?" gasped Ray. "Why, I am on board the Swan! How in the world did I get here? Blest if she hasn't gone adrift in the storm!" He was about to get out of the bunk and hurry up on deck to find out what it all meant when suddenly heavy footsteps were heard de scending the cabin stairs and two rough-looking foreigners, dark and swarthy, with heavy black beards and deep-set eyes, came tumbling into the cabin. They were dressed in oilskin s and dripping with the spray thrown upon them by the storm. They began rattling away at each -other in some foreign language and the biggest of the two, opening Ray's locker, took out a bot tle of whisky and helped himself without the aid of a glass; his example was followed by his com panion and then both sat down at the table and lighted cigarettes. Ray was pretty well fright ened by this time and had wit enough to. pre tend to be asleep. What had happened to hifn he could only guess at, but he could not he1p con necting it all with the strange disappearance of Billy Bird. . "They've stolen my boat and they seem to have stolen me, too," he thought. "Who are those fel lows? What in the world am I to do?" He kept one eye open and listened. One of. the men was hammering on. the table em_phasiz ing some remark when all at once the other sprang up and ran to -the b_unk, seized Ray by the collar of his coat and' dragged him bodilY. out upon the floor. "What's the matter with you?" cried the other in English. "What are you trying to do?" "What am I trying to do? Why, I'm trying to find out wl1at an this means!" answered the man. "Burn me to ashes, this i the _wrong boy! CHAPTER XI-In the Power of the Giant. The two men stared at Ray, who{ frightened though he was, kept perfectly quiet. "There has been some terrible mistake here," he thought. "My only hope is to keep perfectlY. cool." With his hand still clutching Ray's collar the man: rattled away to the other in the same strange language. At last he pushed Ray roughly into a chair, saying in English, "Sit down!" "I'll do as you say, gentlemen,'' replied Ray, i:;eating himself. "I don't know whether you are aware of it, but this happens to be my boat. I'd like to know how you came here?" "Answer him, S!Ocovich," said the man on the other side of the table; "my English was no. good." "I'll answer you, boy, by same tion, rep,lied Slocovich. "I cant answer you, then, for I don't know,'' said Ray. "Don't know?" "No." "Those your wet clothes in the corner there T'' "Yes, but I don't know how they got there." "Do you belong io Doctor Whiteside' Academy?" "Yes, I do." "What's your name?" "Ray Whitcomb." "Ah, ha! .Then you know Billy Bird7"

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. 12 MISSING FROM SCHOOL "Of course I do. Can you tell me anYthing "So mucP, for your meddling, Master Ray about him? I ll see that you are well paid Whitcomb!' You would not keep your hands off if--" my business, so there is nothing left for me but "Ta-ta! Stop that! I'm not looking for money. to put my hand on yours. Get up out of that I think I know .you now, boy You are the bunk-get up, I say!" fellow w ho did the rescue act on the lake yes'.'Yqu seem to be mas t e r here on my boat, so :i: terday? Am I right or wrong?" s uppo s e I have got to ob e y y ou," rep'lied Ray, "Why, I suppo se---" rising; "look out for yourself, though. You may "Don't suppose!" cried the man, fiercely. "Ango a .step too ,far. I'm not like poor Billy Bird. swe r m e Right or w'rong?" I've got friends, and my friends will spare no "Rigl:\t, then." money to--" "Oh, yes, I thought so. Well, now, look here; -"Sh t ,,, d th t R b h young fellow, I s ee through this business. There u up e &"1an ay Y t e has been a mistake made The boy you rescued throat 8:nd holdmg him w1th an .1ron is the boy who ought to be h ere in your place. He hiss ed out some v:ords m a foreign lan-. now. I am sorry for you. It is too late to guage. Slocov 1 ch ;flung his arm about change matters. We are away out on the lake RaY: from. behmd drawmg the boy up -and we can't go back, hut there may be a way aramst hrm, him as though he was m a of saving you yet when we meet Mr. Jacks." v se. 'Who is Mr. Jacks? What am I to be saved !'I'':'e got him, Mr. Jacks. He can't move now," from?" as} ;peals of it up until Mr. He did the only thing he could have done :under -the circumstances, and that was to lie p.erfectly R still. When the boxes had all been removed he I,n,s.tantly ay stopped_ laughing and stood heard the steamer pull awa.y and then, after a s ,tupidly tw, o men. moment steps were heard on the cabin stairs It worksall_ righ:t, said.Sloco"f'1ch. again suddenly the tarpaulin was pulled "Seeins to," replied Mr. Jacks. "One trial away from in front of the bunk. There stood more, though." ' Slocovich and the giant. The queer old man was "Dance!" he shouted .. AndRay _began to_ caper drenched with the spray; his battered plug hat room, th,rowmg out his legs. m the 'lay back on his head and his bigpop eyes seemed wildest of way. to be darting forward as he stared at the bunk. "Stop! Then it "The wrong. boy! Di4 you pay that fraud?" he mtothat bunk! and then, Got<;> sleep. : i;napped. And Ray obeyed ach turn. Shaking his long, di,rty forefinger in. the boy's When they ,left the C;J.bm a m_mute l!lter face, lie liissed out, iri -h1s'theatricalway: was sleeping as peacefully as a little child.

PAGE 14

MI$SIN:G }(RO M SCHOOL CHAPTER X1I.-Is This the Swan There was great excitement in Dr. Wbiteside's A caaemy when it was found that .Ray Whitcomb was missing. Poor Fred Fielding went almost crazy over the affair. Indeed, at one time Dr. Whiteside felt seriously alarmed about the boy. It was an awful shock for Fred when lie realized what ha9. happened. When he awoke and fount.! the window open anct Ray and the mysterious stranger missing, for the boy was gone, too, Fred thought that R a y must have gone out after their patient of his own accord. But the missing pane of glass aroused Fred's sus picions, and the wagon tracks confirmed them. Dr. Whiteside was aroused And then a search began. Detectives w ere at once put on the case and no money spared. The miEsing boat was thought to be a clue and s ome of the detectives advanced the theory that Ray had gone off with the stranger of his own accord. Of course, Mr. Whit comb would listen to no such suggestion and the search continued The old buildings at the de serted vil.Jage were thoroughly ransacked, but without avail. Every means was tried to trace Ray, every clue exhausted, money wa,s spent like water, but all in vain. As it had been in the case of: Billy Bird, so it. came to be with Ray Whitcomb .i\.gainst his name in Dr. Whiteside's roll book was written those ominous words: MISSING FROM SCHOOL! Night after night Frea slipped out of the school; by Dr. Whiteside's permission, and visited the ruinous old shops. One evening, between two and three weeks after Ray's disappearance, as Fred was about starting out for the hill as usual, he was surprised to meet Joe Quigley "laying for him". a little way down the -road. Joe was bu:rsting with excitement. "Say, Fred," he exclaimed, "I hope you will excuse me ior interfering with your business, but, of course, all the fellowi;; are on to your game and know where you go nights. Now, I haven't got anything against Ray and I'd like to see this mystery cleared up, and--" ."Stop it!" cried Fred. "Great Scott, come to the point, Joe Quigley. Do you or do you not know anything about Ray?" "Well, now, you needn't go on like that;" said Joe "No, I don't know anything about Ray, but I did see the Swan t
PAGE 15

14 MISSING FROM SCHOOL .... "Good for you, Joe!'" he exclaimed. "It's a "We had better 'take irl we, and bully plan. We'll carry it out and' I believe somestay as still as W!l_ can?" ) thing will come of it; only one objection to the' "Yes. We might'throw out a line, too, and prescheme that I see." tend to be fishing." "What's that?" asked Joe. "And let them pass us? They ought to gi, "That Ray may be down in the de serted village pretty near." now." "That will be the correct scheme. We will let "And if he is we -can't'get him," said Joe. "You them go by. We won't tack at all." know that well enough. We've got to be foxy and The boys got out their fishing lines and made a work our cards right, but I think you will find good bluff at being busy as the Swan drew near. that he isn't there. "She's going to turn close to us," said Fred. "Come ahead," said Fred. "It's a case of "Joe, your plan has worked first-rate. We ought follow my leader and you are the leader to-night,. to be able to see who is on board now." Joe." "What if we should see Ray?" asked Joe. Joe was immen sely set up by this. "What would you do in that case?I' "Come on! We'll show those stupid detectives "I don't know. I suppose it would be foolish what we can do," he declared. to try to do anything. Best way would be just They ian to the boat-house, vlhich was to keep still and follow on." haps half a mile lower down the lake, and went "That's what I say," replied Joe, emphatically. to work on the Water Witch at once. Then; after a little, he exclaimed: "I can see a "Oh, hurry, Joe! Hurry!" Fred kept saying. man in the cock-pit.'' "If they are gone befo,re we can get back there I "I see a man on the lookout and another sitting lion't know what I shall do." on some boxes," said Joe. Joe was working for all he was worth, but the The man on the lookout soon caught sight of boat could not be got ready in a minute. In fact, the Water Witch. The boys saw. him adjust. a big it was fully three-quarters of an hour before they opera-glass and look at them and then suddenly reached the high bluff just south of the deserted they got the hail: village, which Joe had .spoken of as the point. "Hello! Hello What are you fellows doing Fred's heart sank as he ran the Water Witch there?" he called out. around. It was just as he had fear. ed. The Swan "Fishing!" shouted Fred. was gone. "Can't you get fishing enough in the daytime? "Too late!" he gasped. "Oh, Joel I knew it What brings you out on the lake. at night?" would be!" !We are after salmon trout. Guess there's no "No, it isn't toe;> late, either," replied Joe. law against fishing at night, is.there?" "There she is standing out into the lake." The man mad.e no answer and a moment later "By Jove, you are right. She's the best part the Swan shot past the boys, going by within of a mile away, too." twenty feet of them. Fred could not make out "All the better for us," said Joe. "Now we that he had seen eithe.r of the two men before. can follow her without running the risk of being As for the one c;>n the boxes, he sat with his head seen. How far in this. thing are you willing to down, leaning on his hand and seemed to be go, Fred?" . asleep. But as the Swan shot past .he. suddenly. "Any length to save Ray." ; raised his head and looked at the boys. "Suppose we haveto stay out.all night?" . "Great "It's Rayl". "Theil all night it is. I have the doctor's per. mission. and. I'll make it all right with him about you." "Settled," said Joe. .'Fire away. I don't want to give any advice about sailing, Fred, for I 1 know you consider me a regular dunce at it, but. I'd go to the other tack if I was you. My idea is they are going to lead up the l ake in ; a minute. It will give us a chanc e to tack again and cut in pretty close behind them whe n they do." CHAPTER White Slaves. '. Was it actually Ray sitting there on the boxes, on the deck of the Swan? It certainly was, and in order to explain how he came to be there we must return to the morning after his disappear1; a nce, for that was the n ext R .ay knew anything from the mo@ :ent Mr. Jacks, the giant, drove the hypodermic needle into his neck. Ray woke up then to find himself lying upon a ditty b e d, with an old blankekt thr own ov e r him. "But suppose the y don't," replied Fred. "What then?" "Why, then we are left-that's all." "Well, all right . I said you were to be the leader and I'll stick to it. It's your scheme, any how, Joe, not mine." It was not a dark night at all, for the sky was and every star was out, but there was no moon and it was not possible to see who was on board the Swan. Fred strained his eyes, but could not make out even the trace of a figure. Following Joe's suggestion, he tacked, and in,. a few moments knewthat he had made no mistake, for the Swan changed her course and headed up the Jake. "There!" cried Joe. "Now wait a minute 'and then. strike in behind them.'' "Am I still' on the Swan?" he thought. "No, no! This is nO' bunk-it's a bed L e t me seelet me s ee He sat up, but his hea d swam so that for the moment he could see nothing. Then the seemed to dear away fro111 b e fo r e his eyes and he saw that was lying i n a rough room with just boards for walls and ceiling, ..and no carpet on the floor. His clothe s lay on a chair along" side the bed and in the room there were four other beds and on each one somebody was ing. Ray's mind was so muddled that he got a queer idea that was in the dormitory at s chool

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MISSING FROM : SCHOOL 15 and that Fred was in one bed and Billy Bird in another, but who the other two boys were he could not make out. He passed his hand before his eyes and sank back again and was off asleep before he knew it and the next thing he did know a bell rang sharply and the man Slocovich came running into the room. "Up, every one of you!" jie called out. "Up, you l a zy tramps!" No one moved but Ray, and he only raised his head and stare d. It se emed to him then that it would be jus t impo s sible for him to get up1 but Sloky, as Mr. Jacks h a d called h i m, s oon showed Ray that such was not the cas e, for he stripped the bedclothe s off of him a,nd, catching hold of. his fe et, dragge d him roughly off the bed. Ray had all he could d6 to save himself from falling on the floor. Sl oky caught him and stood him on his feet and then p a ssed on to the next bed, taking each sleeper in turn and serving him the same way, R a y watching him, half d a zed ; They were all boys, none of them being much older than Ray him s elf, and e a ch one looked just a s stupid and idiotic a s he did Jus t how he felt can scarc e ly b e d e scribed, but some idea of it may be had when we state that Ray saw that the boy nearest to him w a s Billy Bird, and yet he could not get up life enough to speak to him, and somehow it did not seem at all strange that he was there. All he could think of was: "This is really Billy and the other one wasn't." As for Billy himself, he just stared at Ray and did not seem to recognize him at all. "Dress yourselves!" ordered Sloky. "Dress yourselves and come in to breakfast-do you hear?" Nobody answered, but in a mechanical way all the boys began dressing. After he got his clothes on, Sloky having left the room, he turned to Billy and said: "Say, don't you know 'me?" "No," replied Billy, shaking his head, "I don't." "Ray! I'm Ray!" Billy stared stupidly. "I don't know you," he said. "Don't ask. me to know you. It makes my head ache. I don't want to think." It Ray's :head ache to think; tQo. Where had he seen Billy? To save his life he could not remember then. Sloky returned,-and,.in a stern voice commanding the boys to follow him, led the way into a larger room, where there was a table set. The. boys took their places mechanically and .sat staring at their plates. Breakfast was brought in by Sloky anq placed before each one in turn. It was a good one, too. There was beefsteak, and egg s a nd coffee and good bread and butter. Ray noticed that the boys all made a dive for the coffee and drank down the whole cup, s ome of them at one gulp. When he tried his own coffee he found it very bitter, que er-tasting stuff, but as soon as he had drank it his head began to whirl and it was just as though he had ex perienced an electric shock. Every nerve in his body began to tingle. He felt elated. It seemed as though he wanted_ to sing and jump around. All the boys now began to talk, rattling away at a great rate, but in foreiirn language, of which Ray could not understand a word. Suddenly Sloky appeared in the doorway. "Get up!" he shouted. Everyboy sprang to his feet. "Follow me!" was the next order. CHAPTER XV.-Chasing the Swan. When Ray passed through the door he found himself in what seemed to be a workshop. He took in his surr<1undings in a dim sort of way and saw several queer-looking machines and great strips of metal, white like silver, and, in fact, it was pure s ilver, as he afterwa1 d knew. On one Side of the room was a big furnace and a m eltingpot stood on the floor beside it. Mr. Jacks, the giant, was bending over the pot, scraping the inside with an iron tool. "How does it work with the new one, Sloky?" he called out, as the boys came trooping into the room. "Same as with all the res t of them," was 'the reply. "The drug takes right hold." "Ah, ha. Well, put him to work! he can't run a stamper, I suppose, but he can pack." Pretty soon the machines were all in motion, being controlled by power from a revolving shaft cverhead. Each boy now took his place. They took up the long strips of silver and inserted them between the jaws of the machines, pulled a lever and down they came. From one dimes dropped down into a ieceiver below; from another it was quarters and from another half-dollars. Billy Bird worked at a second machine, which. turned out dimes also. In a dim sort of way Ray understood -that this was a countel'feiting shop and that they were making bad. money. But he did not know enough to realize then that this false money was actually silver. For the next week Ray's work was to J>ack them in boxes and he became very skilful at it and was able to work very fast. During all that time he remained in the same muddled condition, with only a glim. mer of memory creeping in upon him once in awhile. It was the drugged coffee that did it. Three times a day it Wa'S served to the boys and they gulped it down eagerly: Ray grew to like it and to like the sensation tliat followed the dose. One night he got an extra cup and fell asleep. When he came to himself he was on .board the Swan, with' Sloky and another .man. They went to the deserted yillage' and Ray. had to help unload the heavy boxes and to load a great number of empty ones. After this was done the Swan sailed away again a:n.d Ray sat down upon the pile of empty boxes and fell asleep and when he awoke his head was clearer than it had been for days. It was tpe cool air of the lake that did it. Ray awoke suddenly an
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16 MISSING FROM SCHOO{; stared at the boys as the Swan flew past the Water Witch. At the same inoment Sloky tacked and Ray saw the boat no more. "It was Ray! It was surely R ay!" declared Fred. "Oh, Joe, didn't you see him?" "Yes I saw him, of cour se, replied Joe, "and he saw me. Why didn't he holler? He looked so stupid. Just like that fellow he took out of the lake and who I say wasn't Billy Bird." l "That's the mystery," replie d Fred, "but, look here, Joe Quigley, I know tha;t is on that boat and I propose to follow it till I see where they land him if it takes us to the end of the lake." "You bet I'm with you, boy," said Joe, "and if there's any fighting to be done find me .right in it, and don't you make any mistake." CHAPTER XVI.-Tracked t.o Crane's Island. Practically there is no limit to what two determined boys can do in such a case as Fri:d Fielding and Joe Quigley found themselves m now. There was the Swan ahead of them, and they that Ray Whitcomb was on board. "Do you suppose I am going to give up till I've got Ray here on the Water Witc!1 with us?". ex claimed Fred as he threw the sailboat off on the other tack. 1"Not much." "Say if we have to fight for it, 'you'll find me all right there, Freddy," answered Joe. "I may be clumsy and stupid and all the rest that you fellers say I am, but when it comes to fighting I'm right in it-you'll see." "That's right," said Fred. "We'll get there, Joe. Say, we don't want to keep too near them, tho.ugh." "No if they tumble to it that we are follow-, l ing them they'll give us the s ip, sure. "Let's stand off farther out into lhe lake. While it's light like this we can watch .'em. qnce w,e catch on to their hangout we are right m it, don t you see?" It was shrewdly planned. The boys then stood well out int.o the lake. Fred had a first rate fieldglass, which he had taken care to bring along from the boat-house. The full moon made it almost as bright as day, and there really was little difficulty in following the movements of the boat. Fortunately for their purpose. this. apparent indifference threw. Sloky & Co. entirely off the scent, and they did not even watch the movements of the boat after a little. After a run of about five miles up the lake the Swan turned shoreward and shot in behind a high, wooded bluff and disappeared. "There!" cried Ferd. "I suspected it! I knew I was right." "Well, what is it?" asked Joe. "Let u fellow know what you are driving at. The Swan has vamoosed in behind that point all right. What do you know about things in there?" "Crane's Island and the old powder mill,'' said Fred, are in there." "Never heard of them." "No. We fellers haven't been up there since rou came to school, Joe; but the year before you us it used to be the regular thing t.o have our picnics on Crane's Island. It's something like the deserted village. There's an old abandoned powder mill there in the marsh. It is just about the most out-of-the-way spot you can imagine, and no large boat could possibly get in there on account of the sand bar across the mouth of the channel. Just the spot for crooked work." "Then it's that spot we've got to tackle," said Joe. "Any chance to get the Water Witch over the bar?" "Oh, yes; she'd go over easy enough; but it won't do, Joe. If we are going to do the rescue act, we can't sail right up to the island and let everybody krtow we are there." "What do you propose, then?" "Why, my idea is to make a cove I know on this side of the point and leave the boat there. We can cross over the bluff and swim the creek. Then we shall be on the island without anybody knowing it." "Which is jus t what we want. Pitch in, Freddy. Get us to the cove as quick as possible. I'm spoiling for a fight." "Shouldn't wonder a bit if you got one before we were through with it," replied Fred. "Here we go for the cove." It was workfag up_ against the wind to make the cov e now and it took time, but the boys reached it without a dventure. It was a splendid place to hide the boat, for a thick growth of alders and young swamp willows extended right out into the water. By the help of the oars and with a little de:icter ous handling the boys were able to run the boat in behind the outer line of willows, and when they tie d up at last they were completely concealed from any craft which might happen to be passing on the lake. "Well, here we are, Joe," said Fred, when they had made the boat fast and found themselves standing on the. shore. "Are you ready for busi ness now?" "You bet I am! What's the next move, Freddy?" "I think we had better cut ourselves a couple of clubs before we start over the hill." A little later the boys, each armed with a stout club, started over the hill, and when. they reached. the top there lay Crane's Island almost at their feet. It was just one big swamp, separated from the bluff by a narrow strip of water. There was another waterway leading right into the swamp and there at its end, almost concealed by the bill bushes, were several ruinous buildings, which Fred declared to be the old powder mill. It waa a much more out-of-the-way place than the de serted vH!age, and as the boys continued their observation they soon spied the Swan away up in the swamp, close by the old mill. "There you are," said Fred. "That's where w. have got to go." "I'm ready," said Joe. "Do we have to swim alLthe way up there, or can we walk through the swamp, or how is it to be did?" "There's a path through the swamp on the other side of the creek, or at least there used tQ be," replied Fred. "Then we go for the path. Ready?'' "Yes." r .,, "Come on, then. Here's for a race down th hill." Joe started on the l'UD, and, beina: i1' advaDQI

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MISSING FROM SCHOOU 3.7 of Fred,_got down to the water's edge fir st. Fred heard him give a suppressed shout and saw a dark figure go plunging into the bushes, closely pursue d by Joe. "Dis c o ve red!" he gasped. "Confound it, that's too bad! Joe has run against the guard!" CHAPTER XVII.-Bold Work. Fred did some lively sprinting down the hill. When pe reached the bottom and came out upon the shore he met Joe coming back, swinging his club angrily. "Blame spy," he said. "I ran right into him. Wished I could have got my hands onto him-that's all." "I suppose he is on guard here, 'ooking out for just such fellows as we are," replied Fred. "We're the spies, Joe." "Never! Any man that oalls Joe Quigley a spy will get this club over the top of his head. We are in the soup, though, Freddy. That's all there is to that." "Don't know as we are. What sort of a looking fellow was he, Joe?" ''Oh, about the size of Billy Bird." "Well, it wasn't the giant, anyhow. How did you come to lo s e him?" "He lost himself in the bushes beyond there. 'But what's to be did? Don't say we have got to give it upon his account." "No; we will go right ahead and take our chances," Fred replied. "But I think we had better wait a f e w minutes to see1if that fellow shows himself agadn." They put in ten minutes there on the shore wait ini;r and watching in perfect silence. ''Now, said Fre d at last, "ready!" "All right, Freddy," whispered Joe. "What's the word?" "Strip and swim the creek." "Can't we wade across?" "No it is too de e p. Tie your clothes up in a bundle' and hasten them to the club. That will keep them dry." The boys were soon ready for the plunge. With as little noi s e as possible they swam the creek and silently dresse d themselves on the other side. "Now for the old powder mill," said Fred. "Here's the p ath, Joe. It will take us right 'to it. I feel s omehow that; we are going to succeed." The boys pushed on through the bushes, coming out at last in full sight of" the buildings of the old powder mill. There were four of the buildings altogether, an.d tlie first that they came to was a long, low structure, one story high, into which Fred had been more than once. As he drew near he saw at a glance that things :had changed since his last visit. The windows, which had been all open before ,were now boarded up and a new door had been set in what before had been a vacant space. It was the same with the next building and the next. fte fourth lay farther over, in the swamp, somewhat isolated from the rest, and as Fred now led the way toward it the moon went behind a cloud and a few drops of rain fell. "Say, there don't seem to be any one here," whispered Joe. "They must have taken Ray far ther into the swamp." "Hush!" said Fred. "Don't you see the light?" Sure enough a ray of light came stealing between the new boards which covered the nearest window. Fred crept noiselessly up and, putting his eye to the knothole, peered in. "What do you see?" whispered Joe. "Beds. Half a dozen beds-some one sleeping in each. By grac;ious; there's Billy Bird!" "No!" Joe. "You bet it is, and Ray, too. Oh, Joe, we have got on to them at last!" "Let me look," said Joe, and the glance he took through the knothole confinfted what Fred had stated. There were the missing ones calmly sleeping on the cot beds in the long room and down at the end slept large man, with a rifle leaning against a table near his cot, and a big club and a brace of revolvers on the table. All this the boys were able to see by the dim light of a small lamp, which also stood on the table with the other things. Fred took hold of the boards and gently shook them. It was just a shutter fastened in by a common lock. He took out his knife and ran it under the boards and pushed the lock aside and the shutter swung open. Fred clutched the window sill and flung his legs over into the room. Two quick steps brought him alongside of Ray and he gently shook him, then harder, then harder still sud,denly Ray sprang up and stared at him wildly.' "Fred!'' he gasped. "Hus h! Get up! Follow me!" breathed Fred. He seized Ray's clothes, which lay near a chair beside the cot, and with the other hand helped his chum to the floor. "What is it, Fred?" asked Ray, dreamily. ''What am I to do?" "Come!" Fred pulled him toward the window. They had almost reached it when a dismal voice called out: Oh, take me with you, fellows! Take me with you! I don't want to stl)y here!" It was Billy Bird! He was up on his cot calling, and all in a minute the rruschief was done. "Hold on there! What in thunder!" Bang! bang! bang! Shouting with all the strength of a pretty powerful voice, Sloky sprang up from his cot, seized the rifle and blazed away at the boys. CHAPTER XVIII.-"The Dogs Are Dead, Look Out for the Swan." "Out with him, Freddy! Out with him, quick! That's the talk! Take that, ye blaggard I Ah, ha! Put that in your pipe and s moke it! Fire again at Joe Quigley if you dare!" It was a tremendous relief to Joe to be' able to speak once more. As Sloky fired, Joe fired, too and Joe's shillaleh was better aimed than the counterfeiter's bullet. It took the man aci::oss the temple and must have stunned him, for he fell to the floor all in a heap. "Heavens! you have iciUed him!" gasped Fred. "Ray, brace up! Do try and brace up! Help me ou' with him, Joe. There, that's the talk!"

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18 MISSING FROM SCHOOL Ray was dead weight in their hands. He seemed to go right to sleep a s he walked across the floor, but at the same time he to have a dim idea .that he was )\Tith Fred, too, for he put his arm around his old chum's neck and let his head: drop on Fred's shoulder, and when Joe took ho1d Jf him and dragged him through the window he muttered: . "That you, Quigley? Say, look out for poor Billy Bird,". and then, half naked as he was, he just sank down upon the ground, and went off to sleep again. The drug had a firm hold on Ray, for he had been given his do s e just before he went to bed, but with Billy Bird, who had been in bed all the evening, it was different. Billy was as near :!ear-headed as he ever was now, and he caught lp his clothes and staggered across the floor. "Faith, and we've got both of them. Com on, Billy! Come on!" Joe shouted. Billy staggered up agains t the open window without speaking and Joe pulled him out. B0y this time Sloky had come to his senses and now sprang to his feet. He seized a revolver and made one rush for the window, at the same time giving a loud cry, and as he passed one of a row of posts which mpported the roof he pulled a cord and a bell :langed. sharply somewhere in the distance. It -waa all over with trying to do the job on the quiet now, and Fred realized that he had all he could io to save himself and his schoolmates from a fate that might prove worse than death. He 'caught hold of Ray's arm and jerked him to his feet. -"Run! :Prag hjm .along. !" gasped Billy Bird. "I can help with you. Don't let Ray fall :lown!" Fred started for the swamp, calling to Joe to follow, but Joe had other business to attend to then, and he pro.ved that. what he had said about lighting was no iddle boast. It took downright courage to stand there facing the window ai; Sloky came rushing up, firing the revolver. He could not see Joe, because it was dark outside, but Joe was there just .the same, and all ready for him. -"Jacks! Jacks!" yelled Sloky. "An escape! An escape"!'! He did not seem to exactly understand the matter yetY .. Springing out of the window taught him a lot more about it, however, for he sprang right foto Joe s -arnis, and then the fun began. Joe had possession of tlie revolver in just one secoJJd. -Then, instead of using it; he dropped it into the outside pocket of his coat and gave Sloky the greatest old pummelling he had ever received. He blacked both eyes and gave him one in the nose and another in the mouth, and a butt with his head in the pit of the stomach, and then a good kick in the back when Sloky tried to run, which sent him tumbling down. Then was Joe's time for sprinting. Fred and Billy Bird were running between the buildings, making the Swan. Ray seemed to hav;e braced up a bit and to have found his legs, for he was running, too. "We'll take the Swan!" Joe cried. "I've knocked that feller silly. Jf some one else don't turn up it's all plaiv sailing now. Here, Bird, you seem to be weak in your pegs. Give us your arm. I'll helpf Sure you're the real Billy Bird this time!" .At the same instant the deep bay of a blood hound heard behind them, instantly followed by a similar yelp a little farther on. "Dogs!" gasped Fred. "They will tear us to pieces," muttered Billy, looking back. ''Yes, there they come!" They had passed the last of the buildings now, and the Swan lay right ahead of them. Looking back, Fred saw the gigantic Mr. Jacks standing near the doorway. He was unloosing the collars on two huge blood hounds. "Sic Sic 'em, boy!" he shouted, and one blood .houna made a frantic rush toward the boys, to be followed by the other a moment later. Then Mr. J a cks seized a rifle from within the open doorway and fired three shots in quick suc cession, yelling at the same time: "Stop there, you Billy Bird! Stop, or you know what I'll do!" "You can't do it!" roared Billy. "You've killed my brother, but you shan't kill me!" "You bet he won't!" shouted Joe. "Into the boat with you, boys! .I'll settle with these dogs." The plucky f e llow turned and faced the blood hounds, which w ere right upon them now, and using Sloky's revolver to better purpose than Mr. Jacks seemed to be using the rifle, shot them both dead in their tracks. "Bully for you, Joe!" shouted Fred, while Mr. Jacks, with a roar of rage, fired again, but to no. effect. . . "Look out for yourselves, you boys!" he yelled, throwing aside the rifle. "You had better surrender! You can never escape from the swamp alive!" ""Rats!" bawled Joe, helping Billy Bird into the Swan. Fred and Ray were already in the boat, and as Joe jumped in, too, Fred cast off and ran up the. sail. Mr. Jacks stood wa,tching them. He put his hand out and must have touched an electric button in the side of the building; for at the same instant a bell clanged loudly over in the swamp. "An escape!" yelled Mr. Jacks. "The dogs are dead! Look out for the Swan!" CHAPTER XIX.-How. the Swan Blew up 'on tbe Bar. . Fred got the sail up on the Swan in a hurry. In a few moments the boys wel'e moving down tlie creek through the swamp. It was rather slow work, for the wind did not amount to much4 and shut in as they were by the tall bushes, what lit tle wind there was did not reach the sail. Ray just sank dowri in the bottom of the boat and went to sleep, but Billy.Bird sat in the stern seat blinking stupidly, and yet in spite of his appearance he was on the alert, and told Fred and Joe something of the truth. "They are counterfeiters, that's what they are," he said, in answer to Joe's eager questions, add11 ing: "What's the matter with Ray? Why, Ray has b'een drugged with hasheesh, and so have I.

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,,. ..,, 1o .. 1-,"" T'f I FROM SCHOOL 19. been: taking the blame stuff for weeks. it makes us so stupid, fellows, but it will' wear off if you only give it time." Fred listened. but di._d not go into any convets!j. tion with Billy then. His whole attention was taken up in watchmg Mr. Jacks, who had come down to the edge of the CH.ek and stood watching the boat. There were two or three men with him, and none of them made a move io do anything, which &eemed to Fred mther strange. "Why don't thev chase us, Billy?" he asked.' "Haven't they got another boat?" "Yes," replieu Billy, "but it leaks. They are repairing it, and thev have sent for a new one, too. They expect it up any day now, I heard Mr. Jacks say." "HUh! if they wait for a new boat to come before they chase us, I guess we are safe -enough," exclaimed Joe. was done pretty slick, wasn't it, Fred? I wish Ray would wake up. I want to talk to him and find out more about all this." "Hold up! There's something wrong!" said Fred. "Billy, listen to me." "I'm a-listening, Fred." "Why did that Mr. Jacks of yours call out to look out for the boat? Who was he speaking to? ;what did he means?" "I don't know, Fred, but he meant mischief. He's a fiend-a perfect fiend!" replied Billy, who seem ed to be growing brighter every instant. "Bet you what you like it means SOJile on the boat," said Fred. "Say, Joe, let's rouse Rav up and get out of this boat. We'll strike across the swamp to the hill and then get over to tbe Water Witch. What do you say?" "Why, in ten minutes we will be out on the lake and can sail right around to the Water Witch," replied Joe. "We don't want to lose the Swan." "I don't know why I want to do it, but I do," replied Fred, "and I want to do it right now. Billy, you know these fellows better than Joe or I can know them. We don't want to take .any chances with them, do we?" "No, we don't, Fred;" replied Billy. "I don't know exactly what you are driving at, but I say no, we rlon't.t> ."I'm going ashore right here," persisted Fred. "Let the Swan drift out into the lake. Perhaps we will have a chance to pi.ck her up afterward, but I say let's get out of here as quick as ever we can." Fred turned the boat in against the bank and sprang ashore. Billy scrambled after him, and Joe, although he did have something to say about it being foolish, helped Fred to lift Ray out of the boat, following hi.mseif then, and allowing the Swan to drift down toward the mouth of the creek, which was oniy a short dis.tance away. It seemed almost like an inspiration on Fred's part. Hear how it turned out, and see what a lucky thing it was that he made this move. It was a more difficult matter than they had thought to arouse Ray, for he was in a deep sleep, and Fred was shaking him up and trying to get him to stand on his feet, when all at once there was a tre mendous explosion down the creek, and Joe, who was watching the Swan, saw it fly into the air and fall back into the water a shattered wreck. "By gracious, look at that!" he cried. "It's the old man's work!" exclaimed Billy Bird. must have had a toroedo at the mouth of the creek, and one of tlie gang was down there for us!" "See now!" cried Fred. "That's what he meant. by h ollering, 'lpok out for the boat!'" Just. then the giant was heard calling again: "Got 'em?" he yelled. "Got 'em, boys?" ''No! no!" came the answer frow: down at the mouth of .the creek. "There was nobody in the boat!" "Then they are in the swamp!" roare. d JacJcs. "Sloky and I will start after them! You fellows strike in ftom the other end;" "We have got to hustle, boys!" said Fred. "Here, Joe, lay hold of Ray. We'll drag him along between us, if we can't move him any other way." By this time Ray had roused up a bit. "Where are you taking me to, fellows!" he murmured, adding: "Oh, I am so sleepy. Do let .me lie down for a minute--just for a minute. I'll go with you then." "No, no! Come on! Come on!" said Fred . "Brace up, Ray. Only for a few Billy, you are doing fine, keep close tQusl We will give them the slip yet." "Mighty lucky thing we got out of the boat," said Joe. "Fred, you were dead right about that. What made you guess it?" "Can't tell yOU'. Wasn't I right, though? Wouldn't we all have been dead ducks if we had tried to pass out of the creek in the Swan? I guess yes. Hello! Here they are close onto us! Joe, c.an we ever get over the hill? They will see us sure, and that means shoot." "You bet it. does," adderl Billy. "You.want to keep out of sight of Jacks if you want to live. Hes a desperat;e scoundrel! Oh, you don't know him as I do. .If you did--" "Hold up! Here we are at the hill!" broke-in Fred. "Now, then, fellows, we'll strike in where those stunted cedars are, and crawl down as we run.' I don't believe they will get on to us. It's pretty well clouded over. Once we can get among the cedars I believe we are safe." They had no more than passed the'shelter of the cedats than Mr. Jack's voice was heard shouting: "Look out for them there, you fellows! They've taken to the hill! Shoot 'em down, every mother's son of them I. We shall have to move again if they escape!" CHAPTER XX.--, Chased by the Counterfeiters. Unque5tionablv the four boys were in a very dangerous situation. If it had been daylight it is doubtful if they could have escaped, but as it was they were able to gain the top of the hill undiscovered, while the counterfeiters were still beatjng about among the cedars, trying to discover in which direction they had. gone. Jacks insisted it that they were still in the swamp; Sloc(} vich declared that they had gone up t he hill, and the boys could hear them arguing about it. As for tlte other two, they could be heard beating about';. here, there and everywhere. In the confu sion of it all the boY,s manak.ed to get over the hill and down on the other side without being seen. But here a most unpleasant discovery await ed them . "Where's the Water Witch?" exclaimed Fred. "By llracious. I can't see hei.at all."

PAGE 21

:20 MISSING FROM SCHOOL ,/ I '' ,. They-hurried along the shore, Fred trying to locate the place where they had left the sailboat. "It was right near that-tree that the cove was, I'm sure of it," he declared. "If we don't strike it there I don't know what 'in the world we are going to do." They did not strike it there. When they' neach ed the tree th,ey found that the bend of the cove was right beyond it, just as Fred' had said, but the boat was nowhere to he seen. "She's gone adrift!" cried Fred. "See, here's where we tied her, Joe!" "You are right," replied .Joe, hollowly. "We-are prisoners on the island, then, it seems." "Boys, you might as well be dead," said Ray It's a dreadful thing. When you know all you will understand." "Here they come!" exclaimed Billy. "They are over the hill now. They are coming down to the shore. What in the world shall we do?" "Wemust hide somewhere," said Ray. "How about those bushes up there on the side of the h'ill, Fred?" "Might as well try it there as anywhere e\se," replied Fred. "I won't say we are dead sure to be discovered, but I'm afraid that's what it is." They scrambled up the hill to the bushes, and all lay dowrl flat on the ground. Ray and Billy soon dropped off to sleep again. Fred and Joe did not disturb them. Breathlessly they waited, watching and listening, and soon saw the four men come into the cove. Jack's had a dark lantern, and he flashed to about everywhere, grumbling at Slocovich all the while. "It's your fault," he-kept saying. "It's all your fault. I wish that fellow had broken your head for you.'' . "Rats! You have brought all this trouble upon us, .that's what you have done," was t.l;ie answer, and then the men moved on out of hearing, and, passing farther up the shore, did not return again. Fred and Joe lay there for a long time waiting and watching, but there was not a sound to break t'he stillness. The counterfeiters had evidehtly been thrown entirely off the scent. "What on earth are we going to do, Fred?" asked Joe, at last. -"Wait till" morning where we are," replied Fred. "It's almost here. No use disturbing the boys now. If they can only .sleep tneir sleep out I believe they will wake UJ> all 0. K." This meant patience for another hour, but be fore. the dawn came Billy Bird suddenly awoke. "Where are we?" he asked, sitting' up and staring around. "Still on the side of the hill? Have old 1nan Jacks and Sloky gone?" "Long ago," replied Fred. "How do you feel after your sleep, Billy?" "I feel ever so much better," replied Billy. "My head is as near clear
PAGE 22

F'Ro:M: : scHoot 21 It was from. Jacques. He threatened "to' kill Ben "Sure 1 $aid J no:, doubt about if I did not go, and so I went. 'It )Vas likEi going that." back to. Hie grave. The last thing I ever dreamed "'Oh; I with you all right there," declared of was that it would bring Ray into Fred,. "but the trouble is, we can't get off the "It wasn't your fault, Billy," Ray's voice said island unless we can lay our hands on a boat.'' behind them. "I don'fhold you responsible for it, ''.Y9 u will find that I am right," added Joe. old man." '1 Billy has been cap.tured. They mean to have us Ray was awake at last and quite himself again. gp prowling about looking for him, and. then we He was most curious to know all about the coming will be nipped, too, that's the game." of Fred and Joe to the island, for he had only "I don' t believe .it," repeated Fred; "Any.how a dim recollection of what had occurred the night if it's so, how can we help it? We have got before. There the boys lay, talking matters over, go prowling about, as you say, and the sooner until daylight came. The only other point of any we get down to it the sooner,.we'.11 know where interest which Billy touched upon was to explain we are at; anyh_ow:, I believe in Billy Bird, and that the gang of counterfeiters had moved from I beheve th.at this is a case for a detective, too." the deserted village to Crane's Island, thinking-it "Thank you, Fred. Thank' you1all, fellows, for a safer place for and, n .ot beyour in. said Billy's voice right cause the Secret Service detectives had dlScovered behind them. anything about their crooked work. Of cours e the boys faced to the right-about in "They have never been caught, and I don't bea hurry, and there stood Billy just as though he Jieve they have ever been suspected," he added; had nev.er .. .. "and I want to say--" "Where m the world have you been?". cried "Hush!" whispered Fred. "There's some one Ray. m<>ving about there on the beach 11 ''What did you give us such a scare for?" de "Is it one of the gang, Billy?" whispered Ray. mantled Fred. "He keeps his back turned toward us. I can't "Didn't mean tur broth "Billy! Hey, Billy! Oh, come here!" he cried. er, Billy? Was. it he'.that Joe and I ran up "Come on, fellows! We are in this!" exclaimed against coming down the hill?" Fred, springing up. "First thing you know they "Yes, it was; he was afraid of you or he would will both be -disappearing! We don't want to _have spoken then," Billy. "Here, Ben!" take any chances on that!" \ he called.-.. "Come here and see the boys. 'Don't Ray and Joe were close Fred as he ran be afraid I" . down the hill toward the shore. Then out from behind a big rock that the boys "Sl\y, they're both disappeared already!" cried had pas;:;ed a dozen times in their search the.very Joe. counterpart of Billy Bird stepped out into view. "That's what they have, echoed Ray. "Where "That's the fellow!" cried Joe. in thunder can they have gone?" "Hello!" said Ray. "Don't you remember me, It was more than Fred could do to answer this Ben?" question, then, and it was just the same when "As though I could ever forget you!'; s aid tpey reached the shore. Here where the Water Ben. "You saved my life. You know now how Witch had so mysteriously vanished the twin I felt then, Ray Whitcomb. You know what it is brothers had vanished, too, for look in whichever to be half drunk with hasheesh. I am sorry you directioji .they. would the. boys could see nothing got into all this trouble on my account, but I want -of Master Ben nor of Billy Bird. yo ti>. unde;rstanding that I have been working for you ever since I ran away from the school." "Hello!" said Fred. "Did you run away from school, too? We tl:i.ought ypu were carried off the same as : CH-AJ;>TER XXIl.-New Animals 'in the Cave. "No," replied Ben. ''All I can teJI you is I woke up and found myself alone in that room "It's a bait, that's what it is," declared Joe with the window-pane cut out and Ray gone. I Quigley, after they,had searched for Billy Bird knew right awaywhat had happened, and as I until they saw no use in continuing the search any knew I couldn't do -any good by hanging around, longer. "That's what-it is, Fred; justa bait to I just started right off to work for Ray and for lead us on.'' That's.what I started to do when I jumped "l don't believe it," 'replied Fred. !'I have c-0noverboard. I lmew Billy and I could never get fidence in Billy Bird. I don't believe he is thaj; away. from-the gang unless .something-was done. kind of a fellow at all : What do you say about Although I was half stupid with the drug, the it, Ray?" .idea came ovei: me all at c>nce. to do something "I can't say anything, be-cause I don't know de.sperate, and I did it, and, by thunder, boys, anything;'' replied Ray. ."You must remember, it's going to land the o.ld.man and his gang. in : fellows, that I ... have been under the influence of State's prison, and I am glad!'' that terrible. stff ever since they captured me. Billy -then led the way in behind the rocks, and 'My head isn't clear' yet. J can't think straight, there, to the surprise of the boys, for no one but after wliat Billy Bird has told us I think if would ever have dreamed it, was the entrance to 'we can get off the island and back to school we c ave leading in under. the hill. 0UKht to do it, whether we find him or -"By ginger! I never knew 'this' place w .as he.re," /

PAGE 23

MISSING FROM SCHOOI.; said Fred. "Say, Ray, what fun we could have had on our picnics if we only had." "That's right," said Billy. ".And, boys, we'll have fun yet. Wait till we drive out the gang and land them behind .the bars where they belong and we will have a jolly picnic here with Carrie James and Olive Moore and Mamie Sheldon and all the rest of the girls." "Does it lead through the hill?" asked Ray, as Ben hurried them on. "That's what it does," replied Ben. "The open ing at the other end is closed t.o where I ran into you two fellows. I didn't know who you were or you bet I would have spoken to you. Well, here we are!" .. "Heavens! it's a regwar arsenal!" cried Fred, looking around. . Leaning against the wall were a dozen rifles, and lying near them on the :floor as many re volvers. Altqgether, it was quite a military display. I "vVhat d .
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