That evening, after supper, Frank
retired to his room, and, settling himself in his
comfortable armchair, was soon deeply interested in
one of Bayard Taylor’s works. While thus
engaged, a light step was heard in the hall, and,
afterward, a gentle rap at his door, and Julia came
into the room.
“Now, Frank,” she began,
“I don’t want you to read to-night.”
“Why not?” he inquired.
“Why, you know that day after to-morrow is the
Fourth of July, and-”
“And you haven’t got your fire-works yet?”
“That’s it, exactly.”
“Well,” said her brother,
rising to put away his book, “then, I suppose,
I shall have to go down to the village and get you
some. What do you want?”
“I want all the things that are written down
on this paper.”
Frank took the paper and read, “Three
packs of fire-crackers, four boxes of torpedoes, three
Roman candles, half a dozen pin-wheels, and a dozen
“Whew!” said Frank, as
he folded up the paper and put it into his pocket,
“that’s what I should call going it strong!
Well, I’ll tell Mr. Sheldon [the store-keeper]
to send up all the fire-works he has got.”
Julia burst into a loud laugh, and,
the next moment, Frank and Brave were out of the gate,
on their way to the village.
In the mean time several of Frank’s
acquaintances had been amusing themselves on the village
common with a game of ball. At length it grew
too dark for their sport to continue, and one of the
boys proposed that they should decide upon some pleasant
way of spending the Fourth.
In spite of the humiliating defeat
which Charles Morgan and his companions had sustained,
they were present; and the former, who had been making
every exertion to regain the good-will of the village
“Let’s go hunting.”
“No, no,” shouted several.
“The game in the woods isn’t
good for any thing this time of year, Charley,”
said James Porter, who, although he cordially disliked
Charles, always tried to treat him kindly.
“Who cares for that?”
exclaimed Charles, who, having always been accustomed
to lead and govern his city associates, could not endure
the steadfastness with which these “rude country
boys,” as he called them, held to their own
opinions. Although, during the whole afternoon,
he had been endeavoring to work himself into their
favor, he was angry, in an instant, at the manner
in which they opposed his proposition. He had
been considerably abashed at his recent defeat, and
he knew that it had humbled him in the estimation of
the Rangers, who, although they still “held
true” to him, had changed their minds in regard
to the prowess of their leader, and began to regard
him, as one of them remarked, as a “mere bag
Charles was not long in discovering
this, and he determined to seize the first opportunity
that was offered to retrieve his reputation.
Hastily casting his eyes over the
group that surrounded him, he discovered that Frank
and Harry, the ones he most feared, were still absent.
This was exactly what he had wished for. With
the assistance of his companions, the Rangers, who,
he was confident, would uphold him, he could settle
up all old scores, without fear of suffering in return.
Addressing himself to James, he continued,
in an insulting tone,
“We don’t go to get the
game to eat, you blockhead, but only for the
sport of killing it.”
“I know that,” answered
James, in a mild voice, not the least disconcerted
by the other’s furious manner; “but wouldn’t
it be better to-”
“Shut up!” shouted Charles.
“I’ll do just as I please. Besides,
I never allow any one to dictate to me.”
“I didn’t intend to dictate
at all, Charley. I was going to say-”
“Are you going to keep still,”
roared the bully, “or shall I make you?”
And he began to advance toward James.
“See here, old fellow,”
said Ben. Lake, suddenly striding up, and placing
himself directly in front of Charles, “don’t
begin another fight, now.”
“I’ll show you whether
I will or not!” exclaimed Charles; and, turning
to the Rangers, he continued, “Come on, boys!
We can have things all our own way now. We’ll
“Hold on!” shouted William
Johnson. “Here comes Frank. Now you
had better take yourself off in a hurry.”
Charles’s hostile demonstrations
ceased in an instant; and, hastily whispering a few
words to the Rangers, they disappeared.
In a few moments, Frank, accompanied
by George and Harry, arrived, and the boys, in a few
words, explained to them what had just happened.
“I hope,” said Frank,
“that Charley will see, before long, how unreasonably
he acts. He makes himself, and every one around
“Well,” said James Porter,
“all I have got to say is that those fellows
who go with him are very foolish. However, we
can’t help it. But, come,” he added,
“we were trying to find some pleasant way of
spending the Fourth.”
“Let’s have a picnic on Strawberry Island,”
“We want something exciting,” said another
“Let’s have a boat-race.”
“Come, Frank,” said Ben.
Lake, “let’s hear what you have got to
say. Suggest something.”
“Well,” answered Frank,
who was always ready with some plan for amusement,
“I have been thinking, for two or three days,
of something which, I believe, will afford us a great
deal of sport. In the first place, I suppose,
we are all willing to pass part of the day on the
“Yes, of course,” answered the boys.
“The next thing,” continued
Frank, “is to ascertain how many sail-boats
we can raise.”
“I’ll bring mine.”
“And mine,” called out several voices.
“Oh, that’s no way to
do business,” exclaimed William Johnson, who
always liked to see things go off in order. “Let
all those who have boats hold up their hands.”
Sixteen hands came up, and Frank said,
“We shall be gone all day, and,
of course, we want plenty of provisions.”
“Well, then, what I thought
of proposing is this: Let us take three or four
of the swiftest sailing-boats, and give the provisions
into their charge, and call them smugglers, and let
the other boats play the part of revenue-cutters,
or a blockading squadron, and let the smugglers try
to land the provisions on Strawberry Island, without
“That’s capital!” shouted several.
“It’s better than shooting game, at this
time of year,” said one.
“Yes, and being scolded all
day by that tyrant,” observed another, who had
belonged to the Regulators.
“It will take some time to make
all our arrangements,” said William, “and
I move that we adjourn to our house, where we can hold
our meeting in order.”
This was readily assented to, and
William led the way, followed by all the boys, who
were highly delighted at Frank’s plan of spending
George Butler was speedily chosen
president of the meeting, and, in less than half an
hour, their arrangements were completed.
The Speedwell, Champion, and Alert-the
latter a fine little schooner, owned by George and
Harry-were to act the part of smugglers,
and Ben. Lake and Thomas Benton, who had no boats,
were chosen by the smugglers to assist them.
The provisions, of which each boy was expected to
furnish his share, were all to be left at Mr. Butler’s
boat-house by six o’clock on the following evening,
where they were to be taken charge of by the smugglers,
of whom Frank was chosen leader. It was also
understood that the smugglers were to carry the provisions
all in one boat, and were to be allowed to take every
possible advantage of the “men-o’-war,”
and to make every effort to land the provisions on
The other thirteen boats, which were
to act as “coast-guards,” were to be under
the command of Charles Sheldon, a shrewd, cunning fellow,
who had the reputation of being able to handle a sail-boat
as well as any boy in the village.
The coast-guards were also divided
into divisions of three boats each, and a captain
was appointed for each division.
These arrangements, as we have said,
were speedily completed; and, although the coast-guards
were almost wild with delight at the prospect of the
exciting times that would occur during the race, they
were confident that the smugglers could be easily caught,
and even some of the smugglers themselves seemed to
think that their chances of landing the provisions
were small indeed.
As the meeting was about to break
up, one of the coast-guards exclaimed,
“We’ll have easy times catching you smugglers.”
“Do you think so?” asked
Harry Butler. “It would be funny if you
should slip up on it, wouldn’t it?”
“We’ll risk that,”
said another, “for we’ve got thirteen boats
to your three.”
“I say, Frank,” said Charles
Sheldon, “don’t you think we can catch
“Oh, yes,” answered Frank,
“easily enough, if you only try. Now, boys,”
he continued, “remember that we want all the
refreshments left at Mr. Butler’s boat-house,
by six o’clock to-morrow evening.”
They all promised to be on hand, and
the meeting broke up.
But the coast-guards gathered in little
knots in front of the house, or walked slowly toward
home, talking the matter over, and congratulating
themselves on the easy manner in which the capture
of the “contrabands” was to be effected.
The smugglers remained together, and,
as soon as the others were out of hearing, George
“Do you think we can give them the slip?”
“Yes,” answered Frank,
“I am certain we can. We must not think
of beating them in sailing, because there are too
many of them, but we must outwit them.”
“What do you propose to do?” inquired
“We must get up in the morning before they do.”
“We shall be obliged to get up at twelve o’clock,
then,” said Thomas.
“I had rather stay up all night than have them
beat us,” said Harry.
“Well, boys,” said George,
“you must all come and sleep at our house to-morrow
night. Some of us will be sure to wake up early,
and, I think, we shall have no trouble in getting
the start of the coast-guards.”
The boys spent some time in talking
over their plans, and, finally, reluctantly separated,
and started for home.