The Ocean Wireless Boys And The Naval Code - Goldfrap John

The Ocean Wireless Boys And The Naval Code
John Goldfrap




Goldfrap John Henry

The Ocean Wireless Boys And The Naval Code





CHAPTER I.

VACATION DAYS


"Up with your helm there, Noddy! Luff her up or you'll have the Curlew on the rocks!"

"That's right, luff!" cried Billy Raynor, adding his voice to Jack Ready's command.

"That's what I luff to do," grinned the red-headed, former Bowery waif, Noddy Nipper, as, with a dexterous motion, he jerked over the tiller of the fine, speedy sloop in which the boys were enjoying a sail on Alexandria Bay, above the Thousand Islands.

The mainsail and jib shivered, and the Curlew spun round like a top just as it seemed inevitable that she must end her career on some jagged rocks that had suddenly loomed up ahead.

"Neatly done, Noddy," applauded Jack. "We'll forgive you even that awful pun for that skillful bit of boat-handling."

The freckled lad grinned in appreciation of the compliment paid him by the Wireless Boy.

"Much obliged," he said. "Of course I haven't got sailing down as fine as you yet. How far do you reckon we are from home?"

"From the Pine Island hotel, you mean?" rejoined Billy Raynor. "Oh, not more than ten miles."

"Just about that," chimed in Jack. "If this wind holds we'll be home in time for supper."

"Supper!" exclaimed Bill; "I could eat an octogenarian doughnut, I'm so hungry."

A groan came from Noddy. Although the Bowery lad had polished up on his grammar and vocabulary considerably since Jack Ready first encountered him as second cook on the seal-poaching schooner Polly Ann, Captain "Terror" Carson commanding, still, a word like "Octogenarian" stumped him, as the saying is.

"What's an octo-octo – what-you-may-call-'um doughnut, anyhow?" he demanded, for Noddy always liked to acquire a new word, and not infrequently astonished his friends by coming out with a "whopper" culled out of the dictionary. "Is it a doughnut with legs on it?"

Jack and Billy broke into a roar of laughter.

"A doughnut with legs on?" sputtered Billy. "Whatever put that idea into your head, Noddy?"

"Well, don't octo-octo-thing-a-my-jigs have legs?" inquired Noddy.

"Oh, you mean octopuses," cried Jack, with another laugh. "Billy meant an eighty-year-old doughnut."

"I'll look it up when we get back," remarked Noddy gravely; "it's a good word."

"Say, fellows, we are sure having a fine time out of this holiday," remarked Billy presently, after an interval of silence.

"Yes, but just the same I shan't be sorry when Mr. Juke's new liner is completed and we can go to sea again," said Jack, "but after our experiences up north, among the ice, I think we had a holiday coming to us."

"That we did," agreed Noddy. "Some difference between skimming around here in a fine yacht and being cast away on that wretched island with nothing to eat and not much prospect of getting any."

"Yes, but if it hadn't been for that experience, and the ancient treasure we found, we couldn't have taken such a jolly vacation," argued Jack. "It's made Uncle Toby a rich man and put all of us on Easy Street."

"Yes, it was certainly worth all the hardships we went through," agreed Noddy.

"I guess we are in for a long spell of quiet now, though," remarked Jack, after a pause, during which each boy thought of their recent adventures.

"Not so sure of that," replied Noddy. "You're the sort of fellow, judging from what you've told us, who is always tumbling up against something exciting."

"Yes, I feel it in my bones that we are not destined to lead an absolutely uneventful time – " began Billy Raynor. "I – hold hard there, Noddy; watch yourself. Here comes another yacht bearing down on us!"

Jack and Billy leaped to their feet, steadying themselves by clutching a stay. Billy was right. Another yacht, a good deal larger than their own, was heading straight for them.

"Hi! put your helm over! We've got the right of way!" shouted Jack, cupping his hands.

"Look out where you're going!" cried Billy.

But whoever was steering the other yacht made no motion to carry out the suggestions. Instead, under a press of canvas, she kept directly on her course.

"She'll run us down," cried Noddy. "What'll I do, Jack?"

"Throw her over to port lively now," sang out Jack Ready. "Hurry up or we'll have a bad smash-up!"

He leaped toward the stern to Noddy's assistance, while Billy Raynor, the young engineer, did the same.

In former volumes of this series the previous adventures of the lads have been described. In the first book, devoted to their doings and to describing the fascinating workings of sea-wireless aboard ocean-going craft, which was called "The Ocean Wireless Boys on the Atlantic," we learned how Jack became a prime favorite with the irascible Jacob Jukes, head of the great Transatlantic and Pacific shipping combine. Jack's daring rescue of Millionaire Jukes' little girl resulted in the lad's obtaining the position of wireless man on board a fine ship, after he had looked for such a job for months in vain. But because Jack would not become the well-paid companion of Mr. Jukes' son Tom, a rather sickly youth, the millionaire became angry with the young wireless man. However, Jack was able, subsequently, to rescue Mr. Jukes from a drifting boat after the magnate's yacht had burned in mid-ocean and, following that, to reunite the almost frantic millionaire with his missing son.

Other exciting incidents were described, and Jack gained rapidly in his chosen profession, as did his chum, Billy Raynor, who was third assistant engineer of the big vessel. The next volume, which was called "The Ocean Wireless Boys and the Lost Liner," told of the loss of the splendid ship "Tropic Queen," on a volcanic island after she had become disabled and had drifted helplessly for days. By wireless Jack managed to secure aid from U. S. vessels, and it came in the nick of time, for the island was destroyed by an eruption just after the last of the rescued passengers had been taken off. Wireless, too, secured, as described in that book, the capture of a criminal much wanted by the government.

The third volume related more of Jack's doings and was called "The Ocean Wireless Boys of the Ice-berg Patrol." This book told how Jack, while serving aboard one of the revenue cutters that send out wireless warnings of ice-bergs to transatlantic liners, fell into the hands of a band of seal poachers. Things looked black for the lad for a time, but he found two good friends among the rough crew in the persons of Noddy Nipper and Pompey, an eccentric old colored cook, full of superstitions about ghosts. The Polly Ann, as the schooner was called, was wrecked and Jack and his two friends cast away on a lonesome spot of land called Skull Island. They were rescued from this place by Jack's eccentric, wooden-legged Uncle, Captain Toby Ready, who, when at home, lived on a stranded wooden schooner where he made patent medicines out of herbs for sailors. Captain Toby had got wind of an ancient treasure hidden by a forgotten race on an Arctic island. After the strange reunion they all sailed north. But an unscrupulous financier (also on a hunt for the treasure) found a way to steal their schooner and left them destitute. For a time it appeared that they would leave their bones in the bleak northland. But the skillful resource and pluck of Jack and Noddy won the day. We now find them enjoying a holiday, with Captain Toby as host, at a fashionable hotel among the beautiful Thousand Islands. Having made this necessary digression, let us again turn our attention to the situation which had suddenly confronted the happy three, and which appeared to be fraught with imminent danger.

Like their own craft, the other boat carried a single mast and was sloop-rigged. But the boat was larger in every respect than the Curlew. She carried a great spread of snowy canvas and heeled over under its press till the white water raced along her gunwale.

As she drew nearer the boys saw that there were two occupants on board her. One was a tall, well-dressed lad in yachting clothes, whose face, rather handsome otherwise, was marred by a supercilious sneer, as if he considered himself a great deal better than anyone else. The other was a somewhat elderly man whose hair appeared to be tinged with gray. His features were coarse, but he resembled the lad with him enough to make it certain he was his father.

"Sheer off there," roared Jack at the top of his lungs, to the occupants of the other boat; "do you want to run us down?"

"Get out of the way then," cried the boy.

"Yes, sheer off yourselves, whipper-snappers!" came from the man.

"We've got the right of way!" cried Jack.

"Go chase yourselves," yelled Noddy, reverting in this moment of excitement, as was his habit at such times, to his almost forgotten slang.

"Keep her on her course, Donald; never mind those young jack-a-napes," said the man in the other sloop, addressing the boy, who was steering.

"All right, pop," was the reply; "they'll get the worst of the smash if they don't clear out."

"Gracious, they really mean to run us down," cried Jack, in a voice of alarm. "Better sheer off, Noddy, though I hate to do it."

"By jinks, do you see who they are?" cried Bill Raynor, who had been studying the pair in the other boat, which was now only a few yards off. "It's that millionaire Hiram Judson and his son Donald, the boy you had the run in with at the hotel the other day."

But Jack made no reply. The two boats were now almost bowsprit to bowsprit. As for Noddy, the freckles stood out on his pale, frightened face like spots on the sun.




CHAPTER II.

"SPEEDAWAY" VS. "CURLEW."


But at the critical moment the lad at the helm of the other craft, which bore the name Speedaway, appeared to lose his nerve. He sheered off and merely grazed the Curlew's side, scraping off a lot of paint.

"Hi, there! What do you mean by doing such a thing?" demanded Jack, directly the danger of a head-on collision was seen to have been averted.

The other lad broke into a laugh. It was echoed by the man with him, whom he had addressed as "pop."

"Just thought I'd see how much you fellows knew about handling a boat," he sneered. "It's just as I thought, you're a bunch of scare-cats. You needn't have been afraid that I couldn't keep the Speedaway out of danger."

"You risked the lives of us all by running so close," cried Billy indignantly.

"Never attempt such a thing again," said Jack angrily, "or – "

"Or what, my nervous young friend?" taunted the elderly man.

"Yes," said the lad, with an unpleasant grin, "what will you do?"

"I shall feel sorely tempted to come on board your boat and give you the same sort of a thrashing I gave you the other day when I found you tormenting that poor dog," said Jack, referring to the incident Billy Raynor had already hinted at when he first recognized the occupants of the Speedaway.

"You'll never set foot on my boat," cried Donald Judson, with what he meant to be dangerous emphasis; but his face had suddenly become very pale. "You think you got the best of me the other day, but I'll fix you yet."

The two craft were out of earshot almost by this time, and none of the three lads on the Curlew thought it worth while to answer Donald Judson. The millionaire and his son occupied an island not far from the Pine Island Hotel. A few days before the incident we have just recorded, Jack, who hated cruelty in any form, had found Donald Judson, who often visited the hotel to display his extensive assortment of clothes, amusing himself by torturing a dog. When Jack told him to stop it the millionaire's son started to fight, and Jack, finding a quarrel forced upon him, ended it in the quickest way – by knocking the boy flat.

Donald slunk off, swearing to be revenged. But Jack had only laughed at him and advised him to forget the incident except as a lesson in kindness to animals. It appeared, however, that, far from forgetting his humiliation, Donald Judson was determined to avenge it even at the risk of placing his own life in danger.

"I wonder if he followed us up to-day on purpose to try to ram us or force us on a sandbar?" mused Noddy, as they sailed on.

"Looks like it," said Billy.

"I believe he is actually sore enough to sink our boat if he could, even if he damaged his own in doing it," said Jack.

"To my mind his father is as bad he is," said Noddy; "he made no attempt to stop him. If I – Look, they've put their boat about and are following us."

"There's no doubt that they are," said Jack, after a moment's scrutiny of the latest maneuver of the Speedaway. The Judsons' boat, which was larger, and carried more sail and was consequently faster than the Curlew, gained rapidly on the boys. Soon she was within hailing distance.

"What are you following us for? Want to have another collision?" cried Jack.

"Do you own the water hereabouts?" asked Donald. "I didn't know I was following you."

"We've a right to sail where we please," shouted Judson.

"Yes, if you don't imperil other folks' boats," agreed Jack. "If you've got any scheme in mind to injure us I'd advise you to forget it," he added.

"Huh! What scheme would I have in mind? Think I'd bother with insignificant chaps like you and your little toy boat?"

"You keep out of our way," added the man.

"Yes, just do that little thing if you know what's healthy for you," chimed in Donald Judson.

His insulting tone aroused Jack's ire.

"It'll be the worse for you if you try any of your tricks," he roared.

"What tricks would I have, Ready?" demanded the other.

"Some trick that may turn out badly for you!"

"I guess I don't need you to tell me what I will or what I won't do."

"All right, only keep clear of us. That's fair warning. You'll get the worst of it if you don't."

"So, young man, you are going to play the part of bully, are you?" shouted Donald's father. "That fits in with what I've heard of you from him. You've been prying around our boat for several days. I don't like it."

"Well, keep away from us," cried Billy.

"Yes, your room's a lot better than your company," sputtered Noddy. "We don't care if you never come back."

"Really, what nice language," sneered Donald. "I congratulate you on your gentlemanly friend, Ready. He – "

"Look out there," warned Jack, for Noddy, in his indignation, had sprung to his feet, entirely forgetting the tiller. The Curlew broached to and heeled over, losing "way." The Speedaway came swiftly on. In an instant there was a ripping, tearing sound and a concerted shout of dismay from the boys as the sharp bow of Judson's larger, heavier craft cut deep into the Curlew's quarter.

"Now you've done it!" cried Billy Raynor.

"I – er – it was an accident," cried Donald, as the two boats swung apart, and there was some justification for this plea, as the Speedaway was also damaged, though not badly.

"It was no accident," cried Jack, but he said no more just then. He was too busy examining the rent in the Curlew's side.

Still shivering, like a wounded creature, from the shock of the impact, the Curlew, with the water pouring into the jagged rip in her side, began slowly to sink!




CHAPTER III.

CAPTAIN SIMMS OF THE "THESPIS."


Silence, except for the inrush of water into the damaged side of the Curlew, followed the collision. The three lads on the sinking craft gazed helplessly at each other for a few seconds.

"Get away as quick as you can," whispered Donald's father to the boy who had wrought the damage, and now looked rather scared. The Speedaway swung out and her big mainsail began to fill.

"We are going to the bottom," choked out Billy, the first of the party to recover the use of his vocal organs.

"I'm afraid there's no doubt of that," said Jack. "Donald Judson," he shouted, raising his voice and throwing it across the appreciable distance that now separated the two craft, "you'll pay for this."

"It was an accident, I tell you," yelled back the other lad, but in a rather shaky voice.

"You'll do no good by abusing us," chimed in his father.

"What'll we do, Jack?" demanded Noddy, tugging at Jack's sleeve.

"Steer for the shore. There's just a chance we can make it, or at least shallow water," was the reply.

"Doesn't look much as if we could make it," said Billy dubiously, shaking his head and regarding the big leak ruefully, "but I suppose we can try."

The wounded Curlew began to struggle along with a motion very unlike her usual swift, smooth glide. She staggered and reeled heavily.

"Put her on the other tack," said Jack. Noddy followed his orders with the result that the Curlew heeled over on the side opposite to that which had been injured, and thus raised her wound above the water line. Billy began bailing, frantically, with a bucket, at the water that had already come in.

"Shall we help you?" cried Donald.

"No, we don't want your help," answered Jack shortly. "We'll thresh all this out in court later on," he added.

"I'm a witness that it was an accident," shouted the elder Judson.

"You'll have a swell time proving I ran you down on purpose," added his son.

Seeing that it was useless to prolong such a fruitless argument at long distance, Jack refrained from making a reply. Besides, the Curlew required his entire attention now. He took the tiller himself and kept the injured craft inclined at such an angle that but little water entered the hole the Speedaway's sharp bow had punched in her.

The shore, on which were a few small houses and a wharf hidden among trees and rocks, appeared to be a long distance off. But the Curlew staggered gamely onward with Jack anticipating every puff of wind skillfully.

"I believe that we'll make it, after all," said Billy hopefully, as the water-logged craft was urged forward.

"I wish that Donald, with his sissy-boy clothes, was ashore when we land," grumbled Noddy. "I'd give him what-for. I have not forgotten how to handle my dukes, and as for his old octo-octo – "

"Octogenarian," chuckled Raynor.

"Octogenarian of a father, – I knew I'd get a chance to use that word – " said Noddy triumphantly; "he's worse than his son. They're a fine pair, – I don't think."

"Well, abusing them will do no good," said Jack. "We'll have to see what other steps can be taken.



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