THE MOTOR BOYS ON THE PACIFIC
The Young Derelict Hunters
by CLARENCE YOUNG
I believe it is not necessary to introduce the Motor Boys to most of
my readers, as they have made their acquaintance in the previous books
of this series. To those, however, who take up this volume without
having previously read the ones that go before, I take pleasure in
presenting my friends, Jerry, Ned and Bob.
They are booked for quite a long trip, this time; across the continent
to the Pacific coast, where they are destined to have some stirring
adventures, searching for a mysterious derelict.
Those of you who know the Motor Boys from their past performances know
that they will meet emergencies in the right spirit, and that they
will do their level best to accomplish what they set out to do.
Whether they did so in this case I leave it for you to determine by
reading the book.
Though their own motor boat, the Dartaway, was destroyed in a train
wreck, they managed to get the use of a powerful craft, in which they
made a cruise on the Pacific ocean. Their old friend, Professor
Snodgrass was with them, and, if you care to learn of his search for a
horned toad, you will find the details set down here.
Yours very truly,
SOME BAD NEWS
"WELL, she is smashed this time, sure!" exclaimed Jerry Hopkins, to
his chums, Ned Slade and Bob Baker.
"What's smashed?" asked Ned. "Who's the letter from'?" for Jerry had a
slip of paper in his hand.
"It isn't a letter. It's a telegram."
"A telegram!" exclaimed Bob. "What's up, Jerry?"
"She's smashed, I tell you. Busted, wrecked, demolished, destroyed,
slivered to pieces, all gone!"
"Our motor boat, the Dartaway!"
"Not the Dartaway!" and Ned and Bob crowded closer to Jerry.
"That's what she is. There's no mistake about it this time, I'm
afraid. You know we thought once before she had gone to flinders, but
it wasn't so. This time it is."
"How did it happen?" asked Ned.
"Yes, tell us, can't you?" cried Bob. "What are you so slow about?"
"Say, Chunky," remarked Jerry, looking at his fat chum, "if you'll
give me a chance I'll tell you all I know. I just got this telegram
from the Florida Coast Railway Company. It says:
"'Jerry Hopkins. Motor boat Dartaway, shipped by you from. St.
Augustine in freight wreck just outside Jacksonville. Boat total
loss, buried under several freight cars. Will write further
particulars. J. H. Maxon, General Freight Agent."
"That's all there is to it," added Jerry, folding up the telegram.
"All there is to it! I guess not much!" exclaimed Bob. "Aren't you
going to sue 'em for damages, Jerry?"
"Well, there's no use being in such a rush," observed Jerry. "Maybe
they'll pay the claim without a suit. I'll have to make some
"Let's go down to the freight once here and see Mr. Hitter," suggested
Ned. "He can tell us what to do. The poor Dartaway! Smashed!"
"And in a land wreck, too!" put in Jerry. "It wouldn't be so bad if
she had gone down on the Atlantic, chasing after a whale, or in
pursuit of a shark - "
"Or with the flag flying, out in a storm, with Salt Water Sam,"
interrupted Ned. "But to think of her being buried under a lot of
freight cars! It's tough, that's what it is!"
"That's right," agreed Bob. "Just think of it! No more rides in her!
Say, we ought to get heavy damages! She was a fine boat!"
"Come on then," cried Ned. "Don't let's stand here chinning all day.
Let's go see Mr. Hitter. He has charge of all the freight that comes
to Cresville, and he can tell us how to proceed to collect damages."
"Yes, I guess that's all that's left for us to do," decided Jerry, and
the three lads started for the railroad depot.
They lived in the town of Cresville, Mass., a thriving community, and
had been chums and inseparable companions ever since they could
remember. Bob Baker was the son of a wealthy banker, while Jerry
Hopkins's mother was a widow, who had been left considerable property,
and Ned Slade's father owned a large department store.
You boys who have read the previous volumes of this "Motor Boys
Series" do not need to be reminded of the adventures the three chums
had together. To those of you who read this book first, I will say
that, in the first volume, called "The Motor Boys," there was related
a series of happenings that followed the winning of a certain bicycle
race in Cresville. After their victory in this contest the boys got
motorcycles, and, by winning a race on them, won a touring car.
In this automobile they had many adventures, and several narrow
escapes. They incurred the enmity of Noddy Nixon, a town bully, and
his crony, Bill Berry. The three chums then took a long trip overland
in their automobile, as related in the second book of this series and,
incidentally, managed to locate a rich mine belonging to a prospector,
who, to reward them, gave them a number of shares. While out west the
boys met a very learned gentleman, Professor Uriah Snodgrass, who was
traveling in the interests of science. He persuaded the boys to go
with him in their automobile to search for a certain ancient, buried
city, and this they found in Mexico, where they had a number of
Returning from that journey, they made a trip across the plains, on
which they discovered the hermit of Lost Lake. Arriving home they
decided, some time later, to get a motor boat, and, in the fifth
volume of the series, entitled, "The Motor Boys Afloat," there was set
down what happened to them on their first cruise on the river, during
which they solved a robbery mystery. Finding they were well able to
manage the boat they took a trip on the Atlantic ocean, and, after
weathering some heavy storms they reached home, only to start out
again on a longer voyage, this time to strange waters amid the
everglades of Florida.
They had recently returned from that queer region, and, as they had
done on their journey to that locality, they shipped their boat by
rail from St. Augustine to Cresville. Or, rather, they saw it safely
boxed at the freight station in St. Augustine, and came on up north,
trusting that the Dartaway would arrive in due season, and in good
They had been home a week now, and as there was no news of their boat,
Jerry had become rather anxious and had written to the railroad
officials in St. Augustine. In response he got the telegram which
brought consternation to the hearts of the motor boys.
"It doesn't seem possible," remarked Bob, as the three lads hurried on
toward the freight office.
"I guess it's good-bye to the Dartaway this trip," said Jerry. "Too
bad! she was a fine boat."
"Well, we'll make the railroad pay for it, and we'll get a better
boat," spoke up Bob.
"We couldn't get any better boat than the Dartaway, Chunky," said Ned.
"We might get a larger one, and a more powerful one, but never a
better one, She served us well. To think of her being crushed under a
lot of freight cars! It makes me mad!"
"No use feeling that way," suggested Jerry. "Just think of the good
times we had in her, not only on this last trip, but on the previous
"This last was the best," remarked Bob, with something like a sigh.
"It was lovely down there in Florida."
"I guess he's thinking of the Seabury girls," put in Ned, with a wink
"No more than you are!" exclaimed Bob. "I guess you were rather sweet
on Olivia, yourself."
"Or was it Rose or Nellie?" asked Jerry with a laugh. "They were all
three nice - very nice."
"That's right," said Ned, fervently.
The three young ladies the boys referred to were daughters of a Mr.
Nathan Seabury, whom the boys met while cruising about the everglades
and adjacent rivers and lakes. He was in his houseboat Wanderer,
traveling for his health. Mr. Seabury owned a large hotel in Florida
and his meeting with the boys, especially with Jerry, was a source of
profit to Mrs. Hopkins.
She owned some land in Florida; but did not consider it of any value.
It developed that it adjoined Mr. Seabury's hotel property and, as he
wished it to enlarge his building, he purchased the lot for a goodly
The three boys, after the return of the Dartaway and Wanderer from the
strange waters, had stopped for a week at Mr. Seabury's hotel, before
"I'd like to see them again," said Bob, after a pause, during which
the boys turned into the street leading to the depot.
"Who?" asked Ned.
"The Seabury family."
"Mr. Seabury - or - er - the girls?" asked Jerry.
"All of 'em," replied Bob quickly.
"I had a letter the other day," remarked Jerry quietly.
"You did!" exclaimed Ned.
"From them?" asked Bob eagerly.
"Well, it wasn't exactly a family letter," answered Jerry, with just
the suspicion of a blush. "It was from Nellie, and she said she, her
sisters and father were going to lower California."
"To California?" exclaimed Bob and Ned.
"Yes; for Mr. Seabury's health. You know they said they expected to
when we parted from them. The climate of Florida did not do him any
good, and they are going to try what California will do. She asked us
to call and see them, if we were ever in that neighborhood."
"I guess our chances of going to California are pretty slim," remarked
Bob. "Our motor boat's gone now, and we can't make any more cruises."
"I don't see what that's got to do with it," declared Ned. "We
couldn't very well cross the continent in her, even if we had the
Dartaway, and she was rather too small to make the trip by water, even
if the Panama Canal was finished."
"Oh, well, you know what I mean," retorted Bob, who did not exactly
know himself. "We can't go anywhere right away. School opens soon, and
it's buckle down and study all winter I suppose. But - "
Bob's remarks were interrupted by the arrival of the Boston Express,
which rumbled into the Cresville station, where the boys now were and,
after a momentary stop, steamed on again. A man leaped from the steps
of a parlor car and ran into the freight office, first, however,
looking up and down the length of the train to see if any other
passengers got off.
"He seems in a hurry," observed Ned.
"Yes, and he must have some pull with the railroad, for the Boston
Express never stops here," said Jerry. "Maybe he's the president of
The boys kept on to the freight office. When they reached it they
found the stranger in conversation with Mr. Hitter, the agent. The
chums could not help overhearing the talk.
"Have you several packages here, addressed to X. Y. Z., to he held
until called for?" the stranger asked.
"There they be," replied the agent, pointing to several small boxes,
piled near the door.
"That's good," and the man seemed much relieved. "Now I want them
shipped by fast freight to San Francisco, and I want to prepay them so
there will be no delay. How much is it?" and he pulled out a
pocketbook, disclosing a roll of bills. As he did so he hurried to the
door and looked up and down the depot platform, as if afraid of being
observed. He saw the three boys, and, for a moment, seemed as if he
was about to hurry away. Then, with an obvious effort, he remained,
but turned into the freight office and shut the door.
"He acts as if he was afraid we would steal something from him," said
"Or as if he didn't want us to hear any more about those boxes,"
supplemented Jerry. "He's a queer customer, he is."
"Well, it's none of our affair," remarked Ned, but neither he nor his
chums realized how, a little later, they were to take part in an
adventure in which the mysterious man and the queer boxes were to
In a short time the man came out of the freight office. He did not
look at the boys, but hurried off down the street, putting some papers
into his pocket book, which, the boys could not help noticing as he
passed them, was not so full of money as it had been.
"Let's go in and ask Mr. Hitter what to do about our boat," suggested
They found the agent counting over a roll of bills.
"Been robbing a bank?" asked Bob cheerfully. "Guess I'd better tell
dad to look out for his money."
"That was paid by the man who was just in in here," replied the agent.
"Queer chap. Seemed as if he didn't want to be found out. First he was
going to ship his stuff by fast freight, and then he concluded it
would be better by express, though it cost a lot more. But he had
plenty of money."
"Who was he?" asked Jerry.
"That's another funny part of it. He didn't tell me his name, though I
hinted I'd have to have it to give him a receipt. He said to make it
out X. Y. Z., and I done it. That's the way them boxes come, several
days ago, from Boston. They arrived by express, consigned to X. Y. Z.,
and was to be called for. I thought of everybody in town, but there
ain't nobody with them initials. I was just wondering what to do with
'em when in be comes an' claims 'em."
"What's in em?" asked Jerry.
"Blessed if I know," responded Mr. Hitter. "I couldn't git that out of
him, either, though I hinted that I ought to know if it was dynamite,
or anything dangerous."
"What did he say?" inquired Ned.
"He said it wasn't dynamite, but that's all he would say, an' I didn't
have no right to open 'em. He paid me the expressage, and seemed quite
anxious to know just when I could ship the boxes, and when they'd
arrive in San Francisco. I could tell him the first, but not the last,
for there's no tellin' what delays there'll be on the road.
"He was a queer man - a very queer man. I couldn't make him out. An'
he went off in a hurry, as if he was afraid some one would see him.
An' he shut the door, jest as if you boys would bother him, - Well, it
takes all sorts of people to make a world. I don't s'pose you or I
will ever meet him again."
Mr. Hitter was not destined to, but the boys had not seen the last of
the strangely acting man, who soon afterward played a strange part in
"What you chaps after, anyhow?" went on the freight agent, when he had
put the money in the safe.
"Our motor boat's smashed!" exclaimed Bob. "We want damages for her!
How are we going to get 'em?"
"Not guilty, boys!" exclaimed the agent holding up his hands, as if he
thought wild-west robbers were confronting him. "You can search me.
Nary a boat have I got, an' you can turn my pockets inside out!" and
he turned slowly around, like an exhibition figure in a store show
A DESPERATE RACE
"WELL," remarked Mr. Hitter, after a pause, during which the boys,
rather surprised at his conduct, stood staring at him, "well, why
don't you look in my hip pocket. Maybe I've got a boat concealed
"I didn't mean to go at you with such a rush," apologized Jerry. "But
you see - "
"That's all right," interrupted the freight agent. "Can I put my hands
down now? The blood's all runnin' out of 'em, an' they feel as if they
was goin' to sleep. That'll never do, as I've got a lot of way-bills
to make out," and he lowered his arms.
"Do you know anything about this?" asked Jerry, handing Mr. Hitter the
"What's that? The Dartaway smashed!" the agent exclaimed, reading the
message. "Come now, that's too bad! How did it happen?"
The boys explained how they had shipped the craft north.
"Of course the accident didn't happen on the line of railroad I am
agent for," said Mr. Hitter, after reading the telegram again. "If it
had, we'd be responsible."
"What can we do?" asked Bob. "We want to get damages."
"An' I guess you're entitled to 'em," replied the agent. "Come on
inside, and I'll tell you what to do. You'll have to make a claim,
submit affidavits, go before a notary public and a whole lot of
rig-ma-role, but I guess, in the end you'll get damages. They can't
blame you because the boat was smashed. It's too bad! I feel like I'd
lost an old friend."
Mr. Hitter had had several rides in the Dartaway for he had done the
boys many favors and they wished to return them, so he was given a
chance to get intimately acquainted with the speedy craft.
Taking the boys into his office, Mr. Hitter instructed them how to
write a letter to the claim department of the Florida Coast Railway,
demanding damages for the smashing of the boat.
"Be respectful, but put it good and strong," he said. "I'll write on
my own account to the general freight agent. He's a friend of mine,
and we have business dealings together - that is his road and my
road," and Mr. Hitter spoke as though he owned the line of which he
was the Cresville agent.
"That'll be good," said Bob. "Maybe it will hurry matters up. We're
much obliged to you, Mr. Hitter."
"That's what we are," chimed in Jerry and Ned.
The boys lost no time in sending in their claim. Then there was
nothing to do but to wait. They knew it would take some days, and they
did not expect an answer in less than a week, while Mr. Hitter told
them that if they got money in payment for the destroyed boat within
three months they would be lucky.
"Well, since the Dartaway's gone, I guess we'll have to go back to the
automobile for a change," suggested Jerry one afternoon, early in
September, about a week before school was to open. "Let's take a
little jaunt out in the country, stay a couple of days, and come back,
all ready to pitch in and study."
"Fine!" cried Bob. "We'll stay at a hotel where they have good
dinners - "
"Of course!" retorted Ned. "That's Chunky's first idea - something to
eat. I've been waiting for him to say something like that."
The boys were at Jerry's house, talking over various matters. The auto
was kept in an unused barn back of his home, but, since the advent of
the motor boat, had not seen much service, though occasionally the
boys went out in it. Now, it was likely to come into active use again.
"Let's look the machine over," proposed Jerry. "It may need some
repairs. It got pretty hard usage, especially in our trips to Mexico
and across the plains."
The boys soon found that, beyond two tires which needed repairs, and
some minor adjustments to the engine, the car was in good shape. It
was in running order and, at Bob's suggestion, they got in it and made
a trip to the town garage, where they intended to leave it to be
As they were turning a corner, near the automobile shop, they heard a
sudden "Honk-honk!" that startled them. Jerry, who was at the steering
wheel, shut off the power and applied the emergency brake.
And it was only just in time for, a moment later, from a cross street,
there shot out a big green touring car, very powerful, as they could
tell by the throbbing of the engine. It almost grazed the mudguards of
the machine in which the three boys were, and, skidded dangerously.
Then, with what seemed an impudent, warning toot of the horn, it swung
around and sped off down the road.
"That was a close shave!" remarked Jerry, as he released the brake.
"I should say yes," agreed Bob. "That was a six-cylinder car.
Bur-r-r-r! If she'd hit us - " He did not finish, but the boys knew
what he meant.
They proceeded to the garage, leaving their machine to be repaired. It
would be ready for them the next day, the man said, and they arranged
to call for it, and go for a trip in the country.
"Let's go to Riverton," suggested Bob, naming a summer resort about a
hundred miles away. "The season is just about to close there, and, as
it isn't crowded, we can get better attention and - "
"Better meals, he means," finished Ned. "All right, Chunky, we'll go."
"It wouldn't be a bad idea," agreed Jerry. "We could make it in one
day easily, and wouldn't have to hurry. We could stay there a couple
of days, making little side strips, and come back Saturday. That would
put us in good shape for Monday, when school opens."
There was no dissension from this plan, and, having secured the
consent of their parents, the boys, early the next day, started off on
their journey. It was a short one, compared to those they had been in
the habit of taking, but they did not have time for a longer jaunt.
They arrived at Riverton in the afternoon, having stopped on the road
for dinner. They found the place rather livelier than they expected,
for there had been an automobile meet the day previous, including a
big race, and several lovers of the sport still remained, for the
weather was very pleasant. The sheds about the hotel were filled with
all sorts of cars, so that the boys had hardly room to store their
"This is a little more exciting than we counted on," remarked Jerry,
as he and his chums entered the hotel to register. "I'm afraid we'll
not get such good attention as Bob thought."
"Oh, it's all the better," was the answer of the stout youth. "They'll
have all the more to eat, with this crowd here."
"Chunky can argue it any way he likes," declared Ned. "No use trying
to corner him, Jerry."
"No, I guess not. But I'm hungry enough to eat almost anything."
As they were turning away from the clerk's desk, having been assigned
to rooms, the boys saw a youth, about their own age, standing near a
bulletin board fastened on the side wall. The youth was tacking up a
notice and, as he turned, having finished, Jerry exclaimed in a
"Noddy Nixon! What's he doing here?"
At the same moment, Noddy, the long-time enemy of the motor boys, saw
them. His face got red, and he swung quickly aside to avoid speaking
to the three chums.
The last they had seen of the bully was when he started to accompany
them back to Cresville, after his disastrous attempt to make money
from a Florida cocoanut grove. Noddy was wanted as a witness by the
government authorities, in connection with the attempted wreck of a
vessel, in which Bill Berry was concerned; but, after the motor boys
had rescued Noddy from an unpleasant position in Florida, and he had
agreed to return to Cresville, he suddenly disappeared in the night.
This was the first they had seen of him since. They had learned that
the government no longer desired his testimony.
"Let's see what notice he put up," suggested Ned. "Maybe he has lost
They walked over to the bulletin board. There, in Noddy's rather poor
handwriting, was a challenge. It was to the effect that he would race,
on the track near the hotel, any automobilist who would choose to
compete with him, for money, up to five hundred dollars, or merely for
"Noddy must have a new car," remarked Ned. "His old one couldn't go
for a cent. We beat it several times."
"What's the matter with trying again?" asked Jerry, a light of
excitement coming into his eyes. "I'd like to have a race. Maybe
several cars will enter, and we can have some fun out of it. Our
machine has a lot of 'go' left in it yet."
"That's the stuff!" exclaimed Bob. "I'm with you. But let's get supper
first, maybe - "
"I guess he's afraid there won't be any left," remarked Jerry. "But
come on, I can eat a bit myself."
As the boys left the office of the hotel, they saw several men reading
the notice Noddy had tacked up.
"A race on this circular track here!" exclaimed one man to a friend as
the boys passed him. "It's very risky! The turns are not banked
enough. I wouldn't do it, but I suppose some will take the chance."
"Yes, it will be a dangerous race," responded the other. "Who is this
"A son of that rich Nixon over in Cresville, I believe. His father
made a lot of money in stocks lately, and, I guess the son is helping
spend it. He has a powerful car."
The motor boys did not stay to hear more, but went to their rooms to
change their clothes, and were soon eating supper. There was talk of
nothing but automobile topics in the hotel corridors and office that
evening. Many motorists were planning to leave the next day, but some
said they would stay and see if the Nixon race would amount to
"Let's accept the challenge," suggested Jerry.
"I don't want to have anything to do with Noddy," objected Ned.
"We don't have to," replied Bob, "I was talking to the clerk about it.
All we have to do is register our names, and the name of the car. It's
an informal affair, only for fun. They won't race for money. Come on,
let's go in it."
Hearing this, Ned agreed, and the boys put their names down. As Noddy
had stipulated there must be four passengers in each car it would