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"Maybe it would be better to let a little more come into the boat," Westy
said, "so as to lower the water in the river, so we can get under the
bridge."

"The both of you make me tired!" Pee-wee yelled; "do you think I believe
all that stuff?"

Good night, some circus! It's always that way when Westy and I get out
with Pee-wee.

Pretty soon we 'heard a loud whistling and we wondered what it was,
because it didn't sound like a train and it sure wasn't on a motor-boat.

Then Westy began asking what we were going to do about power after we
got our stanchions and bumper-sticks and all that fixed. I said we'd
have to get Jake Holden to tow us down around into the Hudson and then
get somebody to tow us up. Westy said Mr. Ellsworth thought it would be
cheaper to take our little three horse power engine out of our launch
and install it in the houseboat.

I said, "That would be all right, only it would kick us along so slow
that we'd spend all our vacation on the trip and wouldn't have any time
at camp." Cracky; I didn't want to start back as soon as we got there.

"Well, then, there's only one thing to do," Westy said, "and that's for
us to get towed and that costs a lot of money."

All the while the whistling kept up and it was awful loud and shrill,
sort of, as if it was mad - YOU know how I mean.

"I know what it is," I said; "it's somebody waiting for the bridge to be
opened."

"Good night, they stand a tall chance," Westy said.

"It's a tug, that's what it is," Pee-wee said; "I can see the smoke. It's
going up in a big column."

"It's more than a column, its a whole volume," Westy said, looking around.
"There must be books on that boat; the smoke is coming out in volumes."

All the while we were getting nearer to the bridge and it was easier
rowing, because the tide was on the turn.

Now maybe if you fellows that read this don't live in the country where
there's a river, you won't understand about tides and bridges and all
that. So I'll tell you how it is, because, gee, we're used to all that,
us fellows.

Jimmy Van Dorian, he lives right near the bridge in a little shanty and
he's lame and he's a bridge tender. You don't get much for being a bridge
tender and mostly old veterans are bridge tenders. Anyway, they don't get
much out our way, because big boats don't come up and they don't have to
open the bridge often.

When we got down to the bridge we saw that the tide was right up so we
even had to duck our heads to get under, and right on the other side of
the bridge was a tugboat standing facing upstream and its whistle was
screeching and screeching just like a dog stands and barks when he's mad.
It seemed awful funny because it was a small tug and it made so much
noise.

"It ought to be named the Pee-wee," Westy said.

"Nobody's paying much attention to it," I told him.

Just as we came under the bridge we could see a big fat man, oh,
Christopher, wasn't he fat, standing up in the pilot house pulling
and pulling the whistle rope, for the bridge to open. Sometimes he'd
pull it very fast, just like you do with the receiver on the telephone
when you're good and mad because Central don't answer. And it was
pretty near as bad as the telephone, too, because he went on tooting
and tooting and tooting and nobody paid any attention to him.




CHAPTER XXIX

JIMMY, THE BRIDGE-TENDER

Pretty soon the big fat man stuck his head out of the window and he
shouted, "What's the matter, is everybody deaf around here? Here, you
boys, where's the bridgeman?" Honest, you'd think I had the bridgeman
in my pocket. I told him I didn't know where the bridgeman was. Oh, but
he looked mad. He had an awful red face and white whiskers and I guess
he must have been used to ordering people around - anyway, he looked that
way.

He said, "Here I am on the down tide, the water going out every minute
and got to run up to North Bridgeboro yet. It's a - " he said what kind
of an outrage it was, but I wouldn't tell you. Oh, he was hopping mad.
"I'll get stuck hard and fast in the consarned mud," he said, "if I
ain't back and past this here Sleepy Hollow in forty minutes - that's
what I will!"

I hollered up to him that I'd row across to Jimmy's house and see if he
was asleep.

"Asleep!" that's just the way he shouted. "Do bridgeman sleep on full
tide up this way? Don't he know the harbor and waterway laws? I'll make
it hot for 'im - I will." And then he began pulling the whistle faster
and faster.

"Somebody must have been feeding him meat," Westy whispered to me.

"He's good and mad, that's sure," I said. Even while we rowed across to
Jimmy's shanty I could hear him shouting between the whistlings and
saying he'd have the bridgeman up for deserting on flood tide and putting
him in the mud. And jiminy, I have to admit that he was up against it,
because the tide was running down and by the time he got up to North
Bridgeboro and back, it would maybe be too low in the channel. One thing,
Jimmy had a right to be there, especially at flood tide, I knew that. But
I guess the reason he wasn't was because nothing but little motor boats
ever came up our river and they can always crawl under.

Jimmy lives all by himself on account of being old and his people are all
dead. I said to Westy that maybe he was just asleep, so we knocked and
knocked, but nobody came to the door. Then I knew he wasn't there at all
or else maybe he was dead.

"Anyway, we'd better find out," I said, "because it's mighty funny him
not being there, seeing that he never goes away anywhere."

All the time we could hear that old grouch shouting about Bridgeboro and
our river and saying it was Sleepy Hollow and Dopeville, and the river
was a mud hole. But it isn't and don't you believe it.

"Anyway, I'm going to climb in through the shed window," I said, "and
see if maybe Jimmy is sick or dead." I could see that Pee-wee was not
exactly scared but sort of anxious, and I was too, I have to admit it.

Westy and I got the shed window open, all right, because Jimmy wasn't
careful about it, on account of not having anything worth stealing, I
suppose. I was kind of shaky when we went into the first room, because
that was where he slept and I thought maybe he'd be lying there dead.

But he wasn't there at all. Just the same we stood there looking at each
other, and we were both kind of nervous, because Jimmy's clothes were
lying all around on the bed and on the floor, and a chair was knocked
over, and it looked just as if somebody had been rummaging in the room
in a big hurry. The door into the other room was closed and, I have to
admit, I didn't feel like opening it.

"I bet somebody's robbed him and killed him," Westy said, kind of low.

"That's just what I'm thinking," I said, "and when we open that door
we'll see him lying on the floor dead, hey?"

"Anyway, we have to open it," he said.

"I'll open it if you don't want to," I told him.

But, anyway, neither of us opened it. We just stood there and I felt
awful funny. It was all still and spooky and you could hear the clock
ticking, and I counted the ticks. It sounded spooky, going tick, tick,
tick.

Then Westy said, "Shall I open it?"

"Sure," I said, "we've got to sometime."

So he opened it just a little bit and then, all of a sudden, he pushed
it wide open and we looked into that other room.




CHAPTER XXX

GONE

In the middle of the room was a table Jimmy always ate his meals at, and
on that table was a big square piece of paper and there was a big
envelope on the floor. But there wasn't any sign of Jimmy. Oh, boy,
didn't I feel good on account of that. Westy read the paper out loud
and it was something about a convention of the Grand Army, or something
like that. It said how all the members of some post or other were asked
to go to Saratoga on account of that big convention and it was addressed
to "Comrade James Van Dorian." Gee, I felt awful sorry for him, sort
of, because I knew how it was with him.

"He just couldn't help it," Westy said, "he got ready in a hurry and
went. I guess he took all the money he had saved up-poor old Jimmy."

"He'll lose his job, that's sure," I said.

Even while we were standing there I could kind of see him getting dressed
up in a hurry in that old blue coat he had, with the buttons all falling
off it, and starting off with his crutch. Maybe he just got his pension
money, hey?

All the while the whistle on the tug was blowing and I was afraid people
would come around and maybe they'd all be on the side of the tugboat man
and be mad at Uncle Jimmy.

Jiminy, I wasn't mad at him, anyway. And I could hear that old man
shouting about all the things he was going to do and about the
bridgeman deserting and leaving him in the mud.

"Hurry up," Westy said, "let's find the key-bar and we'll open it for
him, we can do it all right."

So we looked all around in a hurry, but we couldn't find it anywhere.
The key-bar is what you open the bridge with, you know. It's kind of
like a crow-bar and you stick it in a certain place and walk around
pushing it. It isn't so hard when you get started on account of the
bridge being balanced right and it's geared up, too. But what's the
use if you can't find the key-bar?

"It must be somewheres around," Westy said, all excited.

Oh, didn't we turn things inside out! But it wasn't any use - we
couldn't find it.

"Don't let's bother," I said, "I've got an idea, come ahead - quick!"
I didn't even stop to tell him what I was thinking about, but I hustled
back into the boat, with Pee-wee after us, wanting to know what we found
inside.

"A couple of mysteries," I panted out.

"How many?" he wanted to know.

"And a couple of ghosts thrown in," I said, "Hurry up."

On the way across I told the fellows to please let me talk to the old
man, because I had something particular to say to him. I was panting and
rowing so hard, that I couldn't tell the fellows then. Anyway, I guess
Pee-wee had that house haunted and filled with German spies and Uncle
Jimmy murdered and goodness knows what all.

We pulled up right alongside the tug-boat and I called out to the old
man that I wanted to tell him something and to please let me come up.
I was all trembling, but anyway, I said it right out and I didn't wait
for him to say yes, because he was too busy saying other things to say
it.

Westy and Pee-wee stayed in the rowboat and I went right up into the
little house where the old man was. Oh, boy, wasn't everything polished
all nice and shiny! Gee, it was nice up in there. The wheel looked
awfully big and the compass, you could just see your face in it. And it
smelled kind of oily and nice up there. Wouldn't I like to live in a
place like that!

The old man was smoking a pipe and he blew out a lot of smoke - it was
kind of like a barrage.

Then he said very stern and gruff, "Well, sir?"

Oh, boy, wasn't I shaky! But I started right in, and when you once get
started it's easy, that's one sure thing.

I said, "Maybe you'll only be more mad when I tell you but I heard you
say something about Uncle Jimmy deserting. Twice you said that. And I
thought maybe you might be a veteran, hey? Maybe that's a crazy thing to
think, hey?"

All he said was, "Well, sir," and he blew a lot of tobacco smoke at me
and looked at me with a frown, all fierce, but I wasn't scared.

"I only kind of deduced that," I said, "and anyway I've got to admit
you've got reason to be mad."

Even still, all he said was, "Well, sir," and he held his pipe so I
thought maybe he was going to chuck it at me - good night!

"Anyway, if you were a soldier, maybe you'll understand, that's all.
Uncle Jimmy, that's what we call him, he went away to the Grand Army
Convention - that's where he went. I'm not saying he had a right to go,
but one thing, big boats like yours never come up this way, so the bridge
doesn't have to be opened very often - sometimes not all summer. It's kind
of just bad luck for him, that's all. But, one thing sure, I know how it
is to be away when I ought not to be, I do. And I'm no better than he is,
that's one sure thing. I'm a boy scout," I told him, "and my scoutmaster
says you have no right to make bargains about things that are wrong. But
anyway, maybe you wouldn't think this would be trying to make a bargain
with you and sticking up for somebody that did wrong. So I thought I'd
ask you if you'll please promise not to write to the government people,
and I'll promise you to open the bridge for you in ten minutes. He's
lame, Uncle Jimmy is, and he got that way in some battle, and he has to
use a crutch. And that's the reason they gave him a job. I see your tug
is named General U. S. Grant, and maybe he was fighting with General
Grant, hey? You can't tell.

"We can't find the key-bar, but about a month ago, the old key-bar fell
in the river, and I know where it is. Maybe you think I'm crazy, but I'm
dive and get it for you, if you'll only promise not to tell on Uncle
Jimmy, because he couldn't help going. Maybe you don't understand, but
he just couldn't. I've got the swimming badge and that's for diving
too. All you have to do is to give me some rope, so I can take one end
of it down and then you can haul it up and the key-bar will be tied to
it. You can be dead sure. Because what a fellow has to do, he can do.
Only you have to make me the promise first 'cause that'll help me to
do it."




CHAPTER XXXI

THE CAPTAIN'S ORDERS

Maybe it wasn't a very good speech, but anyway, he was nicer than he was
before and he had an awful funny twinkle in his eye.

Then he said, "So you know how to dive, huh, sonny? Can you keep your
mouth shut?"

"Sure, you have to keep your mouth shut when you dive," Pee-wee yelled
up from the rowboat, and then the old man just had to laugh.

"I mean when you're on land, sonny," he said.

"Sure I can," I told him.

"Well, then" he said, "if any of you scout kids goes about sayin' as how
Uncle Jimmy went away to the convention, and I ever meet you in your old
skiff, by the Big Dipper I'll run you down and cut you in half, that's
what I'll do! Do you hear?" he shouted. "If you ever run afoul of the
General Grant in the bay or anywheres else, by thunder, I'm Cap'n
Savage, I am, and once upon a time I was Major Savage, and I should be
at that there convention myself, instead of standing here blowing away
at a better soldier than me!"

"Don't you care, we'll forgive you," Pee-wee shouted up.

"Keep him quiet, will you?" I called down to Westy.

"Ask me something easy," Westy said.

"And so you think you can dive," old Captain Savage said, "or is that
just boy scout talk? Do I stand a chance of getting upstream and down
again to-night, or not. Where do you say that key-bar is?"

You can bet I knew just exactly where it was. It was under the east span
of the bridge and just underneath about the fifth or sixth plank from the
centre. I knew it was hard bottom down there, too. So Captain Savage and
the other man he had gave me a thin rope and we fastened one end on the
deck. I tied the other end of it around my waist in a loose French
sailor's knot, so I could pull it off without any trouble under water.

Then I dived. I had to come up a couple of times without it, but the
third time I got hold of it lying on the rocks, and quick as a flash
I loosened the rope from my waist and tied it onto the keybar. Then I
came up, sputtering.

"Pull," I sputtered, "you've got it; only pull easy." Then I scrambled
up on the deck. Believe me in less than a minute the tug-man and Westy
and Pee-wee were on the bridge and had the key-bar fixed in its socket.
Then we started to push and around she went - slow at first; then faster.

Oh, boy, wasn't I glad to see old General Grant march through. Just as I
was going to get in the rowboat, Captain Savage stuck his head out of
the window and shouted, "Here you, youngster; you come in here. We have
to overhaul accounts."

"Scouts don't accept anything for a service," Westy shouted.

"I ain't a-talking to you," Captain Savage shouted; "you other feller,
scramble aboard and come up here! Don't they learn you nothin' about
obedience in them thar scouts - huh? you scramble up on board here like
I tell you!" Oh, boy, I knew he meant me.




CHAPTER XXXII

I MAKE A DANDY FRIEND

That was the first time I ever rode in a tug-boat, and believe me, it was
great. I stood right beside the wheel in that little house and pointed
out the channel to Captain Savage all the way up to North Bridgeboro.
That's one thing I sure know - the channel. Anyway, if you don't know it,
follow the abrupt shore. But with a tug-boat, good night, you have to be
careful because a tug 'draws so much water. He was going up there after a
lumber barge, he said.

First, he didn't say anything, only smoked, and it was like a fog in
there. Pretty soon he said: "So you youngsters don't take nuthin' fer
services, huh?"

"We have to do a good turn if we see a chance," I told him.

Then he wanted to know all about the scouts, how they were divided into
troops and patrols and everything, and after I told him all that, we got
to talking about our vacation and about Temple Camp, and especially about
the house-boat. I asked him if he thought a three horsepower engine would
drive the house-boat up the Hudson, so we could get as far as Catskill
Landing in a couple of weeks.

He said, "It would be more like a couple of years, I reckon."

"Good night!" I said, "if it takes us two years to get there and we have
to be home inside of a month, I see our finish. I suppose it costs a lot
of money to get towed."

He said, "Wall now, whin I bring in a Cunarder and back her into her
stall, it stands them in a few pennies."

"You said something," I told him.

"'N I don't suppose your troop has got as much money as the Cunard
Line," he said.

"Gee, we've only got about four dollars now," I told him; "I suppose
we couldn't get towed as much as a mile for that, hey?"

"Wall, four dollars don't go as far as it used ter," he said; "maybe
it would go a half a mile."

Then he, didn't say anything, only puffed and puffed and puffed on his
pipe, and kept looking straight ahead of him, and turning the wheel
ever so little. After a while he said there wasn't water enough in our
river to drown a gold fish, and he didn't know why we called it a river
at all. He said he couldn't imagine what the tide was thinking about to
waste its time coming up such a river. He said if a bird took a drink in
the river while he was upstream, it would leave him on the flats. He was
awful funny, but he never smiled.

Illustration #5

"Roy dived after the key-bar"

When we got up to the mill at North Bridgeboro, he got the barge and
started downstream with the barge alongside. All the while he kept
asking me about the scouts, and I told him about Skinny, and how we
were going to take him up to Temple Camp with us, so he could get
better, maybe.

Then for quite a while he didn't say anything, only puffed away and
pretty soon we could see the bridge and I knew we'd have to open it
again.

But anyway, I could see a lot of fellows there and I knew they were all
from our troop and that they were waiting to open the bridge for General
Grant.

Pretty soon Captain Savage took his pipe out of his mouth and began
speaking, only he didn't notice me only kept looking straight ahead.

"You know how to port a helm?" he said.

I told him no - not on a big boat like that anyway.

Then he said, "Wall, there's lots o' things you got to learn, youngster.
And there's one thing about tug cap'ns that you got to learn, see?"

I told him that was what I wanted to do - learn -

"Wall, then, I'll tell you," he said-this is just what he said - "I'll
tell you, you are in a mighty ticklish place 'n I don't just see how
you're going to get out of it."

For a minute I was kind of scared.

"I ain't sayin' you're not a brisk lot, you youngsters, because you are,
and no denyin'. All I'm sayin' is you're in a peck of trouble - that's
all."

Then he didn't say anything only looked straight ahead out of the window
and kept on smoking. Gee, I felt awful funny.

Then I said if we did anything that wasn't right, cracky, we didn't mean
it anyway, that was sure, and we'd do whatever he said. And I said I knew
it wasn't right for us to break into Uncle Jimmy's shanty, because I
couldn't think of anything else we'd done that was wrong.

Then he said, "'Tain't so much wrong, as 'tis a conflict of rules, as the
feller says. Yer see, the trouble is tug-boat captains are a pretty
pesky, ugly lot, as yer can see from me, and when it comes ter services,
it's give or take. Now I was thinkin', that if you youngsters don't let
me tow you up as far as Poughkeepsie next week, I'll just have to write
and notify the authorities about Uncle Jimmy and make a complaint. I
kinder don't like to do it by reason of him being an old veteran, but
it's up to you youngsters. Either scratch out that rule of yours, or
else see Uncle Jimmy lose his job. Take your choice, it's all the same
to me."

G - o - o - d night! Jiminy, I didn't know what to say to him. I guess I
just stood there staring and he looked straight ahead out of the window
and smoked his pipe, as if he didn't care either way.

Pretty soon he said, "I'm going up to Poughkeepsie next Saturday with a
barge, and I'll give you youngsters till Friday to decide. You can send
me a line to the barge office or the Pilots' Association, or else you
can leave me and old Uncle Jimmy fight it out between our two selves
and Uncle Sam."

The fellows opened the bridge for General Grant to go through and Captain
Savage let me out on one of the cross-beams, without even stopping. He
didn't even look at the fellows as the tug went through, only looked
straight ahead of him and puffed away on his pipe, as if he didn't even
know that there were such things as scouts. We just stood there watching
the tug churning up the water, as she went faster and faster until she
was gone around the bend.

"He's a kind of an old grouch," Pee-wee said.

"It's good you happened to think about how he used that word desert,"
Doc said.

Then Connie said he wouldn't want to be his son, and Artie said he
wouldn't want to be around the house with him on a rainy Sunday, and
I let them go on knocking him, until they got good and tired and then
I said, "Do you know what he wants to do?"

"I bet he wants us to go and be witnesses against Uncle Jimmy," Pee-wee
said; "he'll never get me to be a witness, you can bet."

"Wrong the first time, as usual," I said; "he wants to tow the
house-boat up as far as Poughkeepsie for us next week."

Well, you should have seen those fellows.

"What did you tell him?" Pee-wee yelled.

"I told him that I was sorry, but that scouts couldn't accept anything
for a service - not even favors."

"You're crazy!" Pee-wee shouted; "did you tell him that?"

"Sure I did," I said, very sober, "and he got so mad he's going to have
old Uncle Jimmy sent to jail - just because I told him we couldn't let
him tow us to Poughkeepsie."

"You make me tired!" Pee-wee screamed, "do you mean to say that if a
fellow does a good turn to another - an old man - and it turns out to be
a good turn on somebody else, and he says - the other one that has a
boat - that he'll make a lot of trouble for the other one we did a
service for - do you mean to tell me that the other one has a right to
say he'll make trouble for him, and if he does we haven't got a right
to let him do a good turn to us, so that the other one we did a good turn
for can get under a bridge - it's a good turn to let him do us a good
turn, isn't it? Let's hear you deny that?"

"You're talking in chunks," Doc said; "pick up the words you spilled and
straighten 'em out."

"Hold him or he'll fall off the bridge," Artie said.

"Do you mean to tell me that we haven't got to let him pay us back so as
to save Uncle Jimmy?" Pee-wee fairly screeched.

Oh, boy, you should have seen him.

"There is yet time," I said, just like an actor, sort of. I said, "There
is yet time to fool him - I mean foil him. We have till Friday to accept
his offer."

"Who's got a pencil?" Pee-wee shouted.

Good night! You should have seen that kid.




CHAPTER XXXIII

SO LONG-SEE YOU LATER

So that's about all I can tell you now, but pretty soon I'll tell you
about our cruise up the Hudson and all about the fun we had on the
house-boat and on Captain Savage's tug. Oh, boy, he turned out to be
one fine man. And I'm going to tell you all about Skinny too, and about
the fix we got into about that tramp that slept in the house-boat. You


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