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G. Harvey Ralphson.

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engine that operated their dynamo, connecting it to the power pump.
Together the two agencies gained on the rising flood that threatened to
swamp the sturdy Fortuna. Eagerly the boys plied the handle of the pump,
keeping an eye upon the bilge.

Harry went about lifting floor boards and peering here and there in an
effort to discover the source of the great leak.

"Ha!" he shouted from the after cabin. "Here's the trouble! Come here,
you fellows, and bear a hand. Get something to plug this hole in the
Fortuna's side. This is sheer murder!"

Trusting the power pump to keep abreast of the incoming water, Tom and
Arnold deserted their post at the hand pump and sprang to assist their
chum whose cries told them that something had been found.

The sight that met their eyes was a startling one.

Harry had removed the floor boards from the center of the cabin and was
reaching down to the bilge. A spray of water squirted up into his face
drenching him thoroughly.

"Get something to plug this hole!" he gasped. "I'm drowning!"

Looking about hastily for means to plug the hole, Tom offered a jacket
he had picked up from the locker. Arnold seized a fid from another
locker. Harry shut his eyes, turned his head side-wise and gasped for
breath. Reaching out for the jacket he took it from the hand of his
friend and tried to push it into the hole through which the water was
pouring steadily. His efforts were fruitless.

"Here, take this," urged Arnold. "This fid will plug a big hole and jam
it tight, too. Is it a butt started?"

Harry took the fid from his chum. Quickly he inserted the pointed end
into the hole he had been trying to cover with his hand.

"Give me a hammer or something to knock with and I'll try to drive this
into the hole. It's not a butt, it's an auger hole!"

"An auger hole?" both boys gasped in horror.

"An auger hole!" repeated Harry, his lips set and white. "Just a little
more and we'd have been beyond all help. I think this idea of helping
unfortunate castaways is getting to be a good thing."

"Why, who on earth could have been so cold-blooded as to have bored a
hole in our vessel?" cried Arnold. "Surely it wasn't the man whose life
we just saved a short time ago!"

"I came into this cabin," asserted Harry "and could hear the rush of
water. I thought the leak must be here. Of course, I thought at first
that we had started a butt in the rolling a while back, when our friend
Carlos Sneakodorus Madero boarded us and left us."

"But that seems impossible," incredulously offered Tom. "The Fortuna was
built at Manitowoc where they have a reputation of doing first class
work and she hasn't had rough handling at all."

"It was impossible!" cried Harry. "Just as I knelt to raise the floor
board I saw that auger lying there. Then as I raised the board, I saw a
handful of white chips float up through the hole."

"And then you saw the stream of water?" queried Arnold.

"That's all there is to it, except the fact that the life-belts are
pulled from their places on the ceiling," answered Harry.

"Sure enough, they're down in a heap," declared Arnold.

"And if you count them," Harry continued, "I'll wager my next meal that
you'll find one missing. I can also guess who is wearing it at this
moment if he hasn't thrown it away!"

"Do you mean the man we picked up - the man who was knocked off the
schooner?" breathlessly queried the younger boy.

"That's the man we want!" announced Harry. "And maybe I won't do a thing
to him when I lay hands on him. Boy Scout or not, I'll put a dent in his
dome that'll hold coffee like a saucer!"

"Will that fid hold?" questioned Tom examining the spot.

"No, I don't think it will," was Harry's reply. "We'd better get a plug
of that soft pine in the lazarette, then when it gets soaked it'll swell
and hold tight. This fid's made of hard wood. It may hold all right for
a while, but it'll work loose just when it should hold. If you'll get
the pine, Arnold, I'll make a plug."

Arnold hastened to bring the wood while Tom looked to the pumps and
examined the cabin for further damage.

"He got an automatic or two from the locker in the kitchenette," he
announced returning to the after cabin after his search.

"If he took those two lying on the lower shelf," announced Harry, "he
got only one automatic! That's a joke on him."

"What do you mean by that?" Arnold asked returning with the desired
piece of wood. "If the man took two, he took only one!"

"Because" explained Harry fitting the plug into place, "the other is a
flashlight made in the shape of an automatic."

Laughing over the joke unconsciously played upon himself by their late
visitor, the boys repaired to the pilot house where the gravity of the
situation was repeated to Jack, who had been at the wheel controlling
the movements of the Fortuna and keeping a lookout.

"I was examining the coast a moment ago with the glasses and saw what I
took to be a man wading ashore back of our present position," explained
Jack. "He looked as if he had on a life belt, but I couldn't be sure
because I couldn't hold the glasses steady and handle the boat, too.
Suppose one of you take the glasses and see what you can make out along
the shore line in both directions."

Tom took the binoculars, mounted to the cabin roof, and swept diligently
the shore line in both directions.

"What can you make out?" inquired Jack from the pilot house.

"I see a fellow just as you described, only he's not wearing a life
belt. He seems to be crossing the strip of beach sand to the fringe of
pines a short distance inland. I don't see any automatic flashlight in
his hand, though!" whimsically announced the watching lad. "Then on the
other hand, I can see two smokes that look like a Boy Scout call for
help and between the two fires I can see a Boy Scout running back and
forth and waving his hat."

"How do you know he's a Boy Scout?" challenged Harry.

"Well, if he started Boy Scout signals, he'd be a Boy Scout, wouldn't
he?" replied Tom. Besides, he's red headed like Arnold and homely like
Harry and kind hearted like Jack and good like Tom. That's enough for
me."

"You're just right, that's enough for you!" declared Harry. "You may
throw on your shovel - you've got a load."

"Honest, now, Tom," put in Jack, "what's the straight of this? Quit your
nonsense! We must be serious."

"All right," agreed Tom. "What I said is all so except the foolishness.
I can't see what the boy looks like. I can just make out a figure
between the two fires. It looks slight like a boy. That's all I can make
out. There are some trees over there just this side of the fires, and it
looks as if we could make a landing close up to the fires. There seems
to be a little bay there."

"Thank you," said Jack in a tone of relief. "We'll run close in and try
to find out what's the matter. Maybe the stranger can help us get our
bearings. Lucky the fog lifted when it did or we would have piled up
high and dry on this beach!"

As the Fortuna approached the little bight indicated by Tom, they
discovered that there would be plenty of water to enable the Fortuna to
run close inshore and permit of their landing easily. Tom and Harry
busied themselves with clearing away one of the metal boats carried on
the cabin roof and preparing to lower it when the Fortuna should come to
rest. Upon completing their task, Tom stood up for another view of the
beach which they were approaching.

"Look, Jack!" he cried. "Can you see the boy over there wig-wagging at
us? Isn't that the Boy Scout wig-wag?"

"Sure enough, it is!" declared Jack excitedly. "Take this flag and
answer him. You're in a good place up there."

He passed the flag up to Tom as he spoke. All four lads watched with
intentness the figure on the beach, while Tom prepared to reply to his
further signals with his flag grasped in both hands.

"He's got two flags, I believe," announced Tom.

"He's going to use the Semaphore code, then!" declared Jack.

"There it comes!" cried Harry. "He's calling us! Answer him."

"All right, Scout!" assented Tom. "Here comes the message!"

"Right arm at head, left arm down in front - that's 'D,'" announced Harry
who was watching with the glasses. "Then right and left both down and
diagonal to the right - that's 'A.' Next both arms diagonally down away
from the body - that's 'N.' Oh, he's telling us his name - Dan! Hurray!
He's introducing himself!"

"Here comes the rest," cried Harry excitedly, "both arms diagonally
downward and to the left - that's 'G.' Now the right down in front and
left diagonally up and out from the shoulder - that's 'E.' Next both arms
out horizontally from the body - that's 'R.' Why, that spells 'DANGER!'
What does that mean?"

"Search me!" declared Tom. "I'm not a bit surprised, though for we've
been in danger ever since we left Mobile. Anything goes here. I'd thank
him to tell us some news, though."

"Well, here comes some more!" announced Jack who had shut off the power,
permitting the Fortuna to ride the smooth waters of the little bight
without headway.

"Here's some more!" cried Arnold, who has again taken the glasses. "Left
arm over head, right arm diagonally down - that's 'K.' I learned that
code last fall. Here's another. Left arm up from the shoulder diagonally
and right down in front - that's 'E,'and he repeats it. Then right out
horizontally and left straight up from head - that's 'P.' Next, right out
horizontally and left diagonally up and across the breast - that's 'O.'
Now the left is out horizontally, and the right down in front - that's
'F.' He repeats it. Why, that says 'DANGER, KEEP OFF'! What does he
mean?"

"Maybe he means what he says," suggested Jack. "Answer him, Tom, and
tell him we're coming ashore. Arnold and Harry, will you get the boat
overboard and we'll go ashore to see what's up. Better take your
automatics and see that the boat is properly equipped."

"Right-o, Captain!" cried Tom. "I'll do my best."

The boat was quickly brought around and Arnold, Harry and Jack prepared
to go ashore. As they pulled away from the Fortuna, Harry cautioned Tom
to watch the plug in the after cabin and keep dry.

As the boat approached the shore the stranger on the beach frantically
made signals indicating that he wished them to return to the Fortuna at
once. Putting his fingers to his lips he glanced about as if in alarm
and then put out his hand in a gesture of caution.

"I'll bet there's some monkey business going on somewhere!" ventured
Harry. "Why should he send up smoke signals for help and then tell us to
keep away because of danger. He's kidding us!"

"I think I can see someone running toward us through those trees and
bushes over there!" announced Arnold standing and pointing.

A figure broke from the cover of the bushes indicated just as Arnold
spoke. It was the figure of a man. He stopped a moment.

Tom from the Fortuna gave a wild cry and waved his arms.

A shot rang out and the strange boy on the beach fell forward.






CHAPTER VI

A MAROONED BOY SCOUT


Rushing ashore in the small boat, the boys paused scarcely long enough
to draw their craft to a safe position on the beach before they raced to
the spot where the stranger had fallen.

They were abreast as they approached his prostrate form lying face down
in the sand. With one accord they stooped to examine him. Jack rolled
the body over tenderly searching for the mark of the villain's bullet
but found none.

Slowly the prostrate boy opened his eyes staring about in amazement.
Jack supported his head while the two chums stood by anxious to be of
assistance in rendering aid to the fallen lad.

"Where are you hurt?" questioned Jack tenderly.

"Nowhere!" replied the lad. "I heard a shot just as I tripped over
something in the sand and then the next thing I knew you had me. What
happened, anyway? Who shot and at what?"

"I don't know the fellow's name, but he was at one time a passenger on
our boat, I believe. He is a villain if ever there was one!" replied
Jack with some warmth.

"Maybe it's the same fellow I know!" declared the stranger. "But may I
ask to whom I am indebted for the pleasure of this call?"

Jack introduced himself, and then his two chums. In turn the stranger
gave his name as Frank Evans of the Bob White patrol of St. Louis. The
boys now started toward the rowboat, keeping a glance around for foes as
they walked.

"Hadn't we better get your things from on shore if you go with us?"
asked Arnold, as the boys approached the boat.

"I haven't a thing of my own here!" declared Frank. "If we except, of
course, my fire stick and the remains of a flounder."

"A fire stick and flounder!" cried Arnold. "Where are they?"

"Up there by that old bit of wreckage," replied Frank. "You see, I had
nothing but my pocket knife when I landed here, and haven't had much
chance to import goods since my arrival."

"How long have you been here?" queried Harry. "We thought you must be in
desperate need from the looks of the fires."

"I think this is the third day," replied Frank. "Yesterday I slept most
of the time while the schooner was standing off and on, and the day
before that was the day they put me ashore. I've had a rush with the
pirates that infest these waters under the guise of honest working
fishermen. They're a bad lot, too," he added.

"Pirates?" gasped the three members of the Fortuna's crew.

"That's what I'd call them," replied Frank. "You see, my chum and myself
came down the Mississippi River in a gasoline launch. She was a
beauty - a thirty-footer. She had a trunk cabin over three-quarters of
her, and an open cockpit aft. We had her fitted up in pretty good shape,
too. We wanted a little pleasure trip, so we made up our minds we'd
bring the launch down here and if we got a good chance we'd sell her. My
Chum, Charley Burnett, and I are the same age - seventeen last
October - and we built the boat last winter. When we got through the Lake
Borgne Ship Canal below New Orleans, we ran against a lot of rough
fellows who tried to steal our boat. We held them at the point of a gun
and ran away from their tubby old boats. Then when we got a little
farther along the coast - to Bay St. Louis - we were warned to turn back.

"Warned to turn back?" repeated the boys in chorus. "By whom?"

"A black browed chap who gave the name of Wyckoff, and who said that he
wouldn't have anyone fooling around the Spanish Chest but those who
rightfully should share the treasure. We didn't know what he meant, and
told him so, but he wouldn't believe us."

"The Spanish Treasure Chest!" gasped Jack. "What about it?"

"I don't know anything about it!" stoutly asserted Frank.

"We've heard a little about it," volunteered Jack, "but nothing
definite. We would like to know more and to know why these fellows
should oppose your coming to this vicinity."

"I've told you all I know about that part of the story," declared Frank.
"Now you know as much as I do in that line."

"What did this Wyckoff look like?" asked Harry eagerly.

"He's black - I don't mean that he's a negro, - but he's one of these
fellows with a blue-black beard that never can be shaved clean because
it shows black under the skin. Then he's got a shifty eye and a sneaky
look about him. Then, too," he added with a smile, "he's got a smashed
nose where my fist landed when he put me ashore here. I certainly handed
him a beauty that time!"

"Good for you," cried Harry, clapping Frank on the shoulder.

"What was the cause of that?" asked Jack, "did he hit you?"

"Well, to make a long story short," Frank continued, "he and his gang
kidnapped Charley and me from the 'Spray' two nights ago. Where they've
got Charley I don't know. They put me ashore here without a thing to eat
or drink and with nothing to make a fire with. As I was shoved ashore
and before the boat got away, I ran up and landed on him. They were on a
schooner of which Wyckoff seemed to be captain. I hope they haven't made
away with Charley."

"If Charley is as resourceful as you, he's all right," consoled Jack. "I
admire your grit and ability. How did you get a fire?"

"I made a fire stick as all Boy Scouts can and took a shoe lace for a
bow string. I had hard work getting the first tiny blaze, but after that
I've kept a bed of coals covered with sand as a reserve. I found a piece
of wreckage and used part of it for a shelter. One part had a long spike
in it and that I sharpened by scraping it on some of the shells. Then I
got a piece of fat pine that had washed ashore and made me a torch. With
this sharp spike and the torch I went fishing at night and got three
dandy big flounders."

"What's a flounder?" asked Arnold intensely interested.

"Well," explained Frank, "a flounder is a queer sort of a flat fish.
He's dark on top and white on the bottom. He swims on his side and has
his two eyes on the one side of his head unlike any other fish. When the
tide comes in he comes close inshore and burrows down into the sand to
wait till a minnow floats by. He reaches up and snaps Mr. Minnow and
then goes on to another good spot. If you take a bright light you can
walk right up to the flounder without alarming him. Then before he knows
what is coming, you thrust a spear down through his head and you have
him."

"Did you get yours that way?" eagerly asked Arnold.

"Not the first one," replied Frank with a laugh. "I just scared the
first one. And I'm afraid I forgot for a minute that I was a Boy Scout.
I was mighty hungry and that fellow looked so nice and fat I just felt
as if I simply had to have him."

Jack's arm stole inside Frank's and a pressure of sympathy told the Bob
White that a Beaver understood his former trouble.

"I move we go and get Frank's fire stick and bow," Harry suggested, "and
then put out the signal fires and hit the trail for the mainland. It is
getting along in the afternoon and I'm hungry and if we make Pascagoula
tonight, we'll have to go some."

"Second the motion," declared Arnold. "But where does Pascagoula lie
from here? Where is this place, anyway?"

"We're on Petit Bois Island, I think," replied Frank. "At least, one of
the men suggested that I be put ashore on Petit Bois and the rest
agreed, arguing that I would stay here only a short time before some
fishermen would visit the island and find me."

"Then in that case," Jack stated, "Pascagoula lies just about northwest
of us. If our compass hadn't been disarranged by the horseshoe, we'd
have been in the harbor by this time," he added.

"Your compass disarranged by a horseshoe?" queried Frank.

"Yes," was Jack's laughing rejoinder. "Did you ever hear such a tale?
And it was lucky for you it happened. There's a case of a horseshoe
being lucky for you when you've never seen it yet!"

After Jack had related the tale of the horseshoe and its relation to
their present situation, Arnold suggested that they visit Frank's camp
and then go aboard the Fortuna. This met the approval of all the boys. A
trip to the wreckage disclosed the fact that Frank had made his bed on
the hard, smooth sand with a fire in front of him for protection from
the chill winds of the night.

"Here's the fire stick," exultantly cried Arnold. "Gee, won't I have a
great story written about this adventure when I get back to little old
Chi. Sherman Street won't know me when I arrive."

"Hurray," cried Harry who had wandered a short distance from the others.
"Hurray, I've found the horse that belongs to the horseshoe! Here he is
buried upside down in the sand."

Hastening to the spot indicated the boys saw what looked to be a horse's
foot upside down in the sand. So startling was the resemblance that Jack
and Arnold were completely deceived for a moment, but Frank's laugh soon
indicated that they had been mistaken.

"What is it?" asked Arnold eagerly. "Gee, but I see so many new things
here I don't know which to write a story about first."

"Better not write any story about this," admonished Frank. "The
wonderful phenomenon you see before you, my friend, is not a horse at
all. It is merely a crab shell from which the crab has gone."

"A crab shell?" repeated Arnold in wonderment. "A real crab?"

"Sure enough," declared Frank. "The underside of the shell has exactly
the same outlines as the under side of a horse's foot. This fellow has
projecting from the heel a spikey tail that is hard and sharp at the
end. The whole thing, as you see, is dried and hardened by exposure to
the weather. The crab has been gone a long time."

"I'm going to take it along," asserted Arnold. "I'll put it in my locker
and make a collection of things I pick up. I'd like to see a flounder
now so as to recognize one the next time I see it."

"I have a fine big fellow at the place I had my fires," Frank answered.
"We'll go over there and see how he's getting on. I got him last night.
I think he must weigh as much as three or four pounds."

"Tell me some more about this Spanish Treasure Chest," Jack said as the
boys turned toward the site of Frank's camp. "I'm anxious to know
everything you overheard anywhere that would have a bearing on the
matter from any viewpoint. It's interesting."

"I can't tell you any more than I have. I know these fellows objected to
our visiting this locality because they seemed to believe that we were
trying to get something that belonged to them and they were ready to
employ force if necessary to keep us out," Frank said.

"We know they are a desperate gang," Jack admitted. "Our own experiences
show that. They also believe we are here on the same mission and already
they have attempted to disable and sink our boat."

Frank stopped in alarm. Glancing hurriedly about he grasped Jack's arm
and in a trembling tone entreated him to leave the vicinity at his
earliest opportunity. Jack's answer was a negative shake of his head.
His companions also indicated their disapproval of the course.

"Well, here's the flounder," announced Frank at last picking up a fine
specimen of that denizen of the Gulf waters. "He's a beauty."

The boys gathered about the fish admiring and investigating the
peculiarities already mentioned by Frank. At last Harry spoke:

"But he wouldn't be good raw and you had to have a fire. I'm always
interested in seeing fire produced from a stick."

"Oh, that's not so difficult," Frank answered; "watch me."

Kneeling on the sand he grasped his fire stick in his left hand after
placing the bowstring in position. With a shell over the upper end of
the stick, he sawed away busily for a moment. A tiny wreath of smoke
eddied away from the lower end of the stick.

"Hurray," cried Harry, "You're fetching it. I can see it coming around
the bend. Just look at that, boys. I can see it coming."

"Put up your hands," came a coarse voice from the rear.

Startled, the lads with one accord jumped to their feet to see their
guest of a short time previous pointing an automatic at them.

"Drop that gun," came an order in Tom's ringing voice.






CHAPTER VII

THEIR PIRATE PRISONER


With an exclamation of surprise and alarm all eyes were turned in Tom's
direction. With a steady hand he was leveling an automatic pistol at the
head of the outlaw who now dropped his pistol hand to his side without,
however, relinquishing his hold upon the weapon. His shifty eyes were
closely watching the boy.

"I'll not tell you again!" warned Tom. "Once is plenty."

"Yes, I heard you the first time!" gritted the outlaw, opening his hand
and permitting the weapon to drop to the sand. "You wait! You Yankees
can't come down here and have your own way always."

"We won't argue that point just now," was Tom's rejoinder. "Right now,
you'll please put your hands up over your head." Then as the outlaw
obeyed, Tom added - "Way up with 'em. Pick me a star or two out of the
sky. Keep 'em up there and watch a comet while one of my friends goes
through you for souvenirs of the occasion."

As Jack stepped forward to search the captive, Frank took a closer look
at the dark face and bruised nose, then cried out:

"Why, Wyckoff, how did you get back here?"

"Is this your friend Wyckoff?" questioned Jack, turning to Frank before
continuing his task of searching their involuntary guest.

"This is the man who warned me back and who marooned me on this lonely
island!" declared Frank with some heat. "I know him!"

"That settles it!" stated Jack in a determined tone. "He's going to get
all that's coming to him if I have a vote here!"

"Here, too!" chorused the others. "Here's where he gets his."

"Remember, boys, we're Boy Scouts!" cautioned Jack. "No harsh measures


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