Read CHAPTER III. Tad Sheldon, Second-Class Scout of The Boy Scouts Book of Stories , free online book, by Franklin Mathiews, on ReadCentral.com.

By John Fleming Wilson

A good many Scout stories have been published, hundreds of them surely, maybe a thousand, or more, in the last nine years. But the first Scout story published in the United States was “Tad Sheldon, Second-Class Scout.” It appeared first in the “Saturday Evening Post.” The author has written a good many stories, Scout and otherwise, since then, but none better, I think, than this, and I count it good fortune indeed that I am able to include it in this volume of short stories for boys. THE EDITOR.

“THERE is no har-rm in the story, though it speaks ill for us big people with Misther to our names,” said Chief Engineer Mickey O’Rourke, balancing his coffee cup between his two scarred hands. “Ye remimber the lasht toime I was on leave and I wint down to Yaquina Bay with Captain Tyler on his tin gas schooner, thinkin’ to mesilf it was a holiday and all the fun I had was insthructin’ the gasoline engineer in the mysteries of how to expriss one’s sintimints without injurin’ the skipper’s feelin’s? Well, I landed in the bay and walked about in the woods, which is foine for the smell of thim which is like fresh tar; and one afternoon I find two legs and small feet stickin’ out of a hole under a stump. I pulled on the two feet and the legs came out and at the end of thim a bhoy, mad with rage and dirt in his eyes.

“‘Ye have spoiled me fun!’ says he, lookin’ at me very fierce.

“‘Do yez dig yer fun out of the ground like coal?’ I demands.

“‘I’m investigating the habits of squirrels,’ says he. ’I must find out how a squirrel turns round in his hole. Does he turn a summersault or stick his tail between his ears and go over backward?’

“‘He turns inside out, like an ould sock,’ I informs him, and he scorns me natural history. On the strength of mutual language we get acquainted. He is Tad Sheldon, the eldest son of Surfman N of the life-saving crew. He is fourteen years ould. Me bould Tad has troubles of his own, consisting of five other youngsters who are his gang. ’We are preparing to inter the ranks of the Bhoy Scouts,’ he tells me, settin’ be the side of the squirrel-hole. ’We are all tenderfeet and we can’t get enlisted with the rest of the bhoys in the United States because each scout must have a dollar in the bank and between the six of us we have only one dollar and six bits and that’s in me mother’s apron pocket and in no bank at all.’

“‘Explain,’ says I.

“‘’Tis this way,’ says me young sprig. ’All the bhoys in the country of America have joined the scouts, which is an army of felleys that know the woods and about animals and how to light a fire, and know the law.’

“‘Stop!’ I orders. ’No one knows the law without gold in one hand and a book in the other. If ye knew the law ye would have yer dollar.’

“‘’Tis the scouts’ law,’ says he. ’It tells ye to obey yer superiors and be fair to animals and kind to people ye care little for. Ye must know how to take care of yourself anywhere and be ready whin the country needs ye.’

“‘And ye need a dollar?’ I asks. ’Thin, why not work for it and stop pokin’ yer nose down squirrel-holes, where there is neither profit nor wages?’

“‘Because I’m to be the patrol-leader and I must know more than me men,’ he retorts.

“Now, ye remimber I had in me pocket three pay checks, besides the money of Mr. Lof, the second engineer, which I had got for him and was carryin’ about to send to him by the first friend I saw. So I took off me cap and pulled out one of the checks and said: ’Me bould boy, go down to the town and get the cash for this. Bring it back to me and I’ll give ye a dollar; and thin ye can become a scout.’

“The lad looked at me and then at the governmint check. He shook his head till the dirt rolled into his ears, for he was still full of the clods he had rubbed into himself in the hole. ’I can’t take a dollar from a man in the service,’ he says. ‘I must earn it.’

“‘The Governmint’s money is clane,’ I rebukes him. ’I’m ould and me legs ends just above me feet, so that I walk with difficulty. ’Tis worth a dollar to get the coin without trampin’.’

“‘I will earn it from somebody not in the service,’ says me bould boy, with great firmness.

“‘I’m no surfman, thank Hivin!’ I remarks. ’I’m in the establishmint and look down on ye.’

“’If I’d known ye were a lighthouse man I’d have taken all ye had at first,’ he retorts. ’But ye have made me a fair offer and I forgive ye. My father works for his living.’

“‘Well,’ says I seein’ that it was poor fortune to be quarrelin’ with a slip of a kid, ‘do yez want the dollar or not?’

“And at that we got down to fact and he explained that this scout business was most important. It appeared that the other five bhoys depinded on him to extricate thim from their difficulties and set them all up as scouts, with uniforms and knives and a knowledge of wild animals and how to build a fire in a bucket of watther. We debated the thing back and forth till the sun dropped behind the trees and the could air came up from the ground and stuck me with needles of rheumatism.

“The lad was a good lad, and he made plain to me why his dollar was har-rd to get. He had thought of savin’ the life of a summer visitor, but the law read that he must save life anyhow, without lookin’ for pay. ‘And we can’t all save lives,’ he mourns; ’for some of the kids is too young.’

“‘But ye must earn money, ye scut,’ I says. ’Ye’re fourteen and whin I was that age I was me mother’s support and joy. I made four shillin’s a wake mixin’ plaster for a tile-layer.’

“‘I work,’ he responds dolefully. ’But it goes to me mother to put with the savings in the bank against the time me father will be drowned, and leave us without support, for ye must know that we life-savers get no pensions.’

“‘I niver hear-ed of a life-saver bein’ drowned,’ I remarks. ’But it may be, for I see ye are of an exthra-ordinary family and anything may come to such. How many are there of yez?’

“‘There are six of us childher, all gur-rls but mesilf,’ says he, with rage in his voice. ’And Carson he was N broke his hip in a wreck last year and died of the bruise and left five, which the crew is lookin’ after. Young Carson is one of me gang and makes a dollar and four bits a week deliverin’ clams to the summer folks. Ye see he can’t save a dollar for the bank.’ And we got up and discussed the matther going down the hill toward the town. Before we parted Tad tould me where he lived.

“‘I’d call on yer father and mother,’ says I, ’if I cud be sure they would appreciate the honor. ’Tis a comedown for an officer in the lighthouse establishmint to inter the door of a surfman.’

“‘Me father has a kind heart and is good to the ould,’ he answers me. ‘We live beyond the station, on the bluff.’

“With that we went our ways and I ate an imminse meal in the hotel with the dishes all spread out before me and a pretty gur-rl behind me shoulder to point out the best of thim. Thin I walked out and started for the house of me bould Tad.

“I found thim all seated in the parlor excipt the missus, who was mixin’ bread in the kitchen. I introduced mesilf, and Sheldon, who had N on his sleeve, offered me a pipe, which I took. I came down to business, houldin’ me cap full of checks and money on me lap. ’Yer bould bhoy wants to be a scout and lacks a dollar,’ I says. ’I like his looks, though I discovered him in a hole under a tree. He won’t take me money and scorns me and the establishmint.’

“‘He must earn it,’ he answers, scowlin’ over his pipe.

“‘But I’ll spind it,’ I insists, peerin’ at the bhoy out of the tail of me eye. ’If yer town weren’t dhry I’d have given it to the saloon man for the good of the family he hasn’t got. So why bilge at a single dollar?’

“‘’Tis the scouts’ law,’ puts in me bould Tad. ’I must make it honestly.’ And he settled his head between his hands and gazed reproachfully at the clane floor. So I saved me money and sat till eight o’clock exchangin’ complimints with Misther Sheldon. Thin the bell rang on the hill beyond the station and he pulled his cap off the dresser, kissed his wife and the five gur-rls and wint out to his watch and a good sleep. While he was gone I stood in the doorway and Missus Sheldon tould me of the little Carsons and how Missus Carson had sworn niver to marry again excipt in the life-saving service. ’She says the Governmint took away her husband and her support,’ says the good lady, ’and she’ll touch no money excipt Governmint checks, being used to thim and Uncle Sam owin’ her the livin’ he took away.’

“’With five childher she shud look up and marry one of the men in the establishment,’ I informs her. ‘They are good husbands and make money.’

“‘Though a widow, she has pride,’ she responds sharply; and I left, with young Tad follerin’ at me heels till I let him overtake me and whisper: ‘If ye’d buy some clams off of young Carson it wud help the widow.’

“‘I am starved for clams,’ I whispers back like a base conspirator for the hand of the lovely gur-rl in the castle. ’Show me the house of me bould Carson.’ He pointed to a light through the thin woods.

“They thought I was crazy whin I returned to the hotel with a hundred pounds of clams dripping down me back. ’I dug thim with me own hands this night,’ I tould the man in the office. ’Cook thim all for me breakfast.’

“‘Ye’re a miracle of strength and endurance under watther,’ says he; ’for ‘tis now high tide and the surf is heavy.’

“‘I found their tracks in the road and followed thim to their lair,’ I retorts. ‘Do I get thim for breakfast?’

“And in the mor-rin’, whin I was that full of clams that I needed a shell instead of a weskit, I walked on the beach with the admirin’ crowds of summer tourists and lovely women. It was fine weather and the little ones were barefooted and the old ones bareheaded, and the wind was gentle, and the life-savers were polishin’ their boat in full view of the wondherin’ throng; and I thought of this ould tub out here on the ind of a chain and pitied thim all. Thin I sthrolled around the point to the bay and found me bould Tad dhrillin’ his gang in an ould skiff, with home-made oars in their little fists and Tad sthandin’ in the stern-sheets, with a huge steerin’ sweep between his arms and much loud language in his mouth. When I appeared they looked at me and Tad swung his boat up to the beach and invited me in. ’We will show you a dhrill ye will remimber,’ says he, very polite. And with my steppin’ in he thrust the skiff off and the bhoys rowed with tremenjous strength. We wint along a full three knots an hour, till he yelled another ordher and the bhoys dropped their oars and jumped over to one side; and I found mesilf undher the boat, with me mouth full of salt watther and ropes. Whin I saw the sun again me bould Tad says to me with disapprobation: ‘Ye aren’t experienced in capsize dhrill.’

“‘In the establishment we use boats to keep us out of the watther,’ I responds, hunting for the papers out of me cap. ’The newspapers are full of rebukes for thim that rock boats to their own peril.’

“With that they all felt ashamed and picked up me papers and grunted at each other, tryin’ to blame somebody else. And when I had me checks and me papers all safe again I smiled on thim and me bould Tad took heart. ‘’Tis not to tip the boat over,’ says he, ’but to get it back on an even keel after a sea’s capsized her that is the point of the dhrill.’ And we pulled ashore to dhry.

“Whiles we were sittin’ on the sand drainin’ the watther out of our shoes a small, brassy launch came down the bay, with many men and women on her little decks. Me bould Tad looked at her with half-shut eyes and snorted. ’Some day it will be the life-saving crew that must bring those ninnies back to their homes,’ he says. ’The Pacific is nothing to fool with in a gasoline launch. ‘Tis betther to be safe and buy your fish.’ And we watched the launch chug by and out on the bar and to sea. I learned that she was the Gladys by name and fetched tourists to the fishing grounds, nine miles down the coast.

“All the bhoys were respictful to me excipt young Carson, who recognized in me bould Mickey the man who had asked for a hundredweight of clams. He stared at me superciliously and refused to have speech with me, bein’ ashamed, if I can judge of his youthful thoughts, of bein’ in the same company with a fool.

“But I discovered that the gang was all bent on becomin’ what they called second-class scouts, which they made plain to me was betther by one than a tenderfoot. But they niver mintioned the lackings of the dollar, bein’ gintlemin. They wanted to know of me whether I thought that boatmanship and knowledge of sailing would be accipted be the powers instid of wisdom as to bird-tracks and intimacy with wild animals and bugs. And the heart of me opened, the youth of me came back; and I spoke to thim as one lad to another, with riference to me years in a steamer and the need of hard hands and a hard head.

“The ind of it was that they rolled across the sand to me side and we all lay belly down over a chart, which me bould Tad had procured after the manner of bhoys, and they explained to me how they knew the coast for twelve miles each side of Yaquina Bay, with the tides and currents all plain in their heads. And I was surprised at what the young scuts knew God save thim!

“At noon the visitors suddenly stopped lookin’ at the scenery and hastened away with hunger in their eyes. The crew ran the surfboat back into the station and the bhoys drew their skiff up out of har-rm’s way; and I wint back to me hotel and more clams. On the steps I found young Carson, grinning like a cat.

“‘Ye don’t have to eat thim shell fish,’ says he, lookin’ away. ’Gimme the sack of thim and I’ll peddle thim to the tourists and bring ye the money.’

“‘Whisht and away with ye!’ I commanded. ‘Who are you to be dictatin’ the diet of yer betthers?’ And he fled, without glancin’ behind him.

“There was some remar-rks passed upon me wet clothes, but I tould the clerk in the office that me duty often called me to get drippin’ soaked and went into the dinin’-room with a stiff neck under me proud chin. There were but few in the place and the gur-rl stood by me shoulder to pilot me through the various coorses infor-rmed me that the most of the guests were out on the Gladys fishin’. ’And the most of thim will have little appetite for their dinners,’ she mused gently, thereby rebukin’ me for a second helpin’ of the fresh meat.

“In the afternoon I sthrolled out on the beach again, but saw little. A heavy fog was rowlin’ from the nor’ard and the breeze before it was chill and damp as a widow’s bed. I walked for me health for an hour and then ran to kape war-rm. At the ind of my spurt I was amazed to find mesilf exactly at the hotel steps. I wint in and laid me down be the fire and slept. I woke to hear a woman wailin’.

“Whin me eyes were properly open, and both pointed in the same direction, I found mesilf in the midst of a crowd. The sittin’-room was full of people, all with misery in their faces. The woman whose cries had woke me was standin’ be the windey, with one hand around a handkerchief. ‘My God!’ she was sayin’ ’My God. And me bhoy is on that boat!’ And I knew that it was throuble and that many people would have their heads in their hands that night, with aches in their throats. I got up shoes in me hand. At sight of me bright unifor-rm ten men flung themselves on me. ‘You will help save them?’ they cried at me.

“‘I will so soon as I get me shoes on,’ I remar-rked, pushing them off me toes. I put on me boots and stood up. ‘Now I’ll save thim,’ says I. ‘Where are they?’

“‘They’re on the Gladys,’ says three at once. ’Thirty of our people women and men and childher.’

“‘Why wake me?’ I demanded crosslike. ’Aren’t the brave life-savers even now sitting be the fire waitin’ for people to come and be saved? I’m a chief engineer in the lighthouse establishmint and we save no lives excipt whin we can’t help it. Get the life-saving crew.’

“And they explained to me bould Mickey that the crew was gone twenty miles up the coast to rescue the men on a steam schooner that was wrecked off the Siletz, word of it having come down but two hours since. They looked at me unifor-rm and demanded their relatives at me hands. I shoved them away and wint out to think. In the prociss it occurred to me that the Gladys might not be lost. I wint back and asked thim how they knew it was time to mourn. ’If that launch is ashore they are as close to the fire as they can get,’ I tould thim. ’And if she has gone down ‘tis too late to dhry their stockings.’

“‘She is lost in the fog,’ I was infor-rmed. She shud have been back at her wharf at four o’clock. ’Twas now turned six and the bar was rough and blanketed in mist. The captain of the harbor tug had stated, with wise shakes of the head, that the Gladys cud do no more than lay outside the night and wait for sunshine and a smooth crossing. I shoved thim away from me again and wint out to think.

“It was a mur-rky fog, that sort that slathers over the watther like thick oil. Beyond the hill I cud hear the surf pounding like a riveter in a boiler. Overhead was a sheet of gray cloud, flying in curds before the wind, and in me mouth was the taste of the deep sea, blown in upon me with the scent of the storm.

“Two words with the skipper of the tug tould me the rest. ’It’s coming on to blow a little from the south-ard,’ said me bould mariner. ’It’s so thick the Gladys can’t find her way back. Her passengers will be cold and hungry whin they retur-rn in the mor-rnin’.’

“‘And will ye not go after thim?’

“‘I can’t,’ says he. ’Me steamer is built for the bay and one sea on the bar wud destroy the investmint. The life-saving crew is up north after a wreck.’

“‘Is there no seagoin’ craft in this harbor?’ I demands.

“‘There is not,’ says he. ’Captain Tyler took his gas schooner down the coast yesterday.’

“So I sat down and thought, wonderin’ how I cud sneak off me unifor-rm and have peace. For I knew me brass buttons wud keep me tongue busy all night explainin’ that I was not a special providence paid by the Governmint to save fools from purgat-ry. In me thoughts I heard a wor-rd in me ear. I looked up. ‘Twas me bould Tad, with a gang clustherin’ at his heels.

“‘Ye have followed the sea for many years?’ says he.

“‘I have followed it whin it was fair weather,’ I responded, ’but the most of the time the sea has chased me ahead of it. Me coattail is still wet from the times it caught me. Speak up! What is it?’

“The bhoy pulled out of his jacket his ould chart and laid it before me. ‘The Gladys is at anchor off these rocks,’ says he, layin’ a small finger on a spot. ’And in this weather she will have to lie there as long as she can. Whin it blows she must up anchor and get out or go ashore here.’ He moved his finger a mite and it rested on what meant rocks.

“‘Well,’ I remar-rks.

“‘Me father and all the bhoys’ fathers are gone up north to rescue the crew of a steam schooner that’s wrecked. Before they get back it will be too late. I thought ’

“‘What were ye thinkin’, ye scut?’ says I fiercely.

“He dropped one foot on the other and looked me between the eyes. ’I was thinkin’ we wud go afther her and save her,’ says he, very bould.

“I cast me eyes over the bunch of little felleys and laughed. But me bould Tad didn’t wink. ‘There’s people out there drownding,’ says he. ’We’ve dhrilled and we know all the ropes; but we can’t pull our skiff across the bar and the big boat is not for us, bein’ the keeper’s orders. And we haven’t the weight to pull it anyhow.’ And he stared me out of me laugh.

“‘There’s no seagoin’ craft in the harbor,’ I says, to stop his nonsinse.

“‘There is another launch,’ he remar-rks casually.

“We looked at each other and he thin says: ’Can ye run a gasoline engine?’

“‘I have had to,’ I infor-rms him, ‘but I dislike the smell.’

“‘The owner of this launch is not here,’ says me young sprig. ’And he niver tould us not to take it. If you’ll run the engine we’ll be off and rescue the folks on the Gladys!’

“Be the saints! I laughed to kill mesilf, till the little brat up and remar-rks to his gang: ’These lighthouse officers wear a unifor-rm and have no wor-rkin’ clothes at all, not needin’ thim in their business.’

“So I parleyed with thim a momint to save me face. ’And how will ye save thim that’s dyin’ in deep watthers?’

“‘By to-morrow nobody can cross the bar,’ I’m infor-rmed. ’And the skipper of the Gladys don’t know this coast. We’ll just pick him up and pilot him in.’

“‘But the bar!’ I protests. ’It’s too rough to cross a launch inward-bound, even if ye can get out.’

“‘I know the soft places,’ says the little sprig of a bhoy, very proudly. ‘Come on.’

“‘And if I don’t come?’ I inquired.

“He leaned over and touched the brass buttons on me jacket. ’Ye have sworn to do your best,’ says he. ’I’ve not had a chance to take me oath yet as a second-class scout, but between ourselves we have done so. I appeal to yez as one man to another.’

“I got up. ‘I niver expicted to serve undher so small a captain,’ I remarks, ’but that is neither here nor there. Where is that gasoline engine?’

“We stepped proudly off in the dusk, me bould Tad houldin’ himsilf very straight beside me and the gang marchin’ at our heels shoulder to shoulder. Prisintly we came to a wharf, and ridin’ to the float below it was a big white launch, cabined and decked. Tad jumped down and the gang folleyed. Thin I lowered mesilf down with dignity and intered the miserable engine room.

“I have run every sort of engine and machine made by experts and other ignoramuses. I balk at nothing. The engine was new to me, but I lit a lantern and examined its inwards with anxiety and superciliousness. Prisintly, by the grace of God, it started off. A very small bhoy held the lantern for me while I adjusted the valves and the carbureter, and this bould lad infor-rmed me with pride that the ‘leader’ had assigned him to me as my engine-room crew. And whin the machine was revolvin’ with some speed that individal thrust his head in at the door to ask me if I was ready. ‘If ye are,’ says that limb of wickedness, ’we will start, chief.’

“‘Ye may start any time,’ I says, with great respict. ’But whin we’ll stop is another matther.’

“‘Ye must keep her goin’ whiles we cross the bar,’ he infor-rms me, with a straight look.

“The little gong rang and I threw in the clutch and felt the launch slide away. The jingle came and I opened her up. ’Twas a powerful machine and whin I felt the jerk and pull of her four cylinders I sint me assistant to find the gasoline tank and see whether we had oil enough. Thinks I, if this machine eats up fuel like this we must e’en have enough and aplenty. The bhoy came back with smut on his nose and sthated that the tank was full.

“‘How do ye know?’ I demanded.

“‘I’ve helped the owner fill her up several times,’ says the brat. ’The leader insists that we know the insides of every boat on the bay. ’Tis part of our practice, and whin we get to be scouts we will all run gasoline engines.’

“So we went along and the engines war-rmed up; and I trimmed the lantern and sat me down comfortable as a cat on a pan of dough. Thin there was a horrible rumpus on deck and some watther splashed down the back of me neck. ‘’Tis the bar,’ says me proud engine-room crew, balancín’ himsilf on the plates.

“‘They are shovin’ dhrinks across it too fast for me,’ I retorts, as more watther simmers down.

“‘Oh, the leader knows all the soft places,’ he returns proudly, this bould sprig. And with a whoop we drove through a big felly that almost swamped us. Thin, as far as I cud judge, the worst was over.

“Prisintly we got into the trough of the sea and rowled along for an hour more. Then the jingle tinkled and I slowed down. Me bould Tad stuck his head in at the little door. ‘The Gladys is right inshore from us,’ he remarks, careless-like. ’We will signal her to up anchor and come with us.’ He took me lantern and vanished.

“Whin I waited long enough for all the oil to have burned out of three lanterns I turned the engines over to me crew and stepped out on deck. It was a weepin’ fog, with more rowlin’ in all the time, and the feel on me cheek was like that of a stor-rm. I saw me bould Tad on the little for’a’d deck, swingin’ his little lamp.

“‘What’s the matther with that scut of a skipper?’ I inquires.

“The boy was fair cryin’ with rage and shame. ’He cannot undherstand the signal,’ says he; ’and ‘tis dangerous to run closer to him in this sea.’

“‘If he don’t understand yer signal,’ says I, ’’tis useless to talk more to him with yer ar-rms. Use yer tongue.’

“And at that he raised a squeal that cud be heard a hundred feet, the voice of him bein’ but a bhoy’s, without noise and power. ‘Let be,’ says I. ‘I’ve talked me mind across the deep watthers many times.’ And I filled me lungs and let out a blast that fetched everybody on deck on the other launch. Then I tould that skipper, with rage in me throat, that he must up anchor and folley us or be drownded with all his passengers dragging on his coattails through purgat’ry. And he listened, and prisintly we saw the Gladys creep through the darkness and fog up till us. When she crossed our stern me bould Tad tould me to command her to folley us into port.

“Ravin’s and ragin’s were nothin’ to the language we traded across that watther for the five minutes necessary to knock loose the wits of that heathen mariner. In the end he saw the light, and the passengers that crowded his sloppy decks waved their arms and yelled with delight. Me bould Tad went into the little pilot house and slammed the door. He spoke to me sharply. ‘’Twill blow a gale before midnight.’ He rang the bell for full speed ahead.

“An hour later I was signaled to stop me machines. I dropped the clutch and sint me assistant for news. He came back with big eyes. ’The leader says the other launch can’t make it across the bar,’ he reports.

“‘Well,’ I says.

“‘We’re goin’ to take off her passengers and cross it oursilves,’ says the brat. With that he vanishes. I folleyed him.

“We were stopped right in the fog, with roily waves towerin’ past us and the dull noise of the bar ahead of us. The Gladys was right astern of us, and even in the darkness I cud catch a glimpse of white faces and hear little screams of women. I went to leeward and there found me bould Tad launchin’ the little dingy that was stowed on the roof of the cabin. Whin it was overside four of me bould gang drops into it and pulls away for the other launch. ‘They’ll be swamped and drownded,’ I remar-rks.

“‘They will not,’ says Tad. ’I trained thim mesilf. ‘Tis child’s play.’

“‘Childher play with queer toys in this counthry,’ I continues to mesilf; and I had a pain in me pit to see thim careerin’ on the big waves that looked nigh to breakin’ any minute. But they came back with three women and a baby, with nothin’ to say excipt: ’There’s thirty-one of thim, leader!’

“‘Leave the min,’ says he, real sharp. ’Tell the captain we’ll come back for thim after we’ve landed the women safe.’

“I tucked the women down in the afther cabin, snug and warm, and wint back on deck. The boat was away again, swingin’ over the seas as easy as a bird.

“‘That’s good boatmanship,’ I remar-rks.

“‘It’s young Carson in command,’ says me bould bhoy leader.

“’Twas fifteen minutes before the boat came back, and thin there was a man in it, with two women. Whin it swung alongside Tad helped out the ladies and thin pushed at the man with his foot. ‘Back ye go!’ he says. ‘No room on this craft for min.’

“‘But you’re only a lot of bhoys!’ says the man in a rage. ’Who are you to give orders? I’ll come aboard.’

“‘Ye will not,’ says me bould Tad, and I reached into the engine room for a spanner whereby to back him up, for I admired the spunk of the young sprig. But the man stared into the lad’s face and said nothin’. And the boat pulled away with him still starin’ over his shouldher.

“The nixt boatload was all the rest of the womenfolks and childher and Tad ordered the dingy swung in and secured. Thin he tur-rned to me. ’We will go in.’

“‘Which way?’ I demands.

“He put his little hand to his ear. ‘Hear it?’ he asks calmly. I listened and by the great Hivins there was a whistlin’ buoy off in the darkness. I wint down to me machines.

“I’ve run me engines many a long night whin the devil was bruising his knuckles agin the plates beneath me. But the nixt hour made me tin years ouldher. For we hadn’t more’n got well started in before it was ’Stop her!’ and ‘Full speed ahead!’ and ‘Ease her!’ Me assistant was excited, but kept on spillin’ oil into the cups and feelin’ the bearin’s like an ould hand. Once, whin the sea walloped over our little craft, he grinned across at me. ‘There ain’t many soft places to-night!’ says he.

“‘Ye’re a child of the Ould Nick,’ says I, ’and eat fire out of an asbestos spoon.’

“‘’Tis the scouts’ law not to be afraid,’ retor-rts me young demon. But me attintion was distracted be a tremenjous scamperin’ overhead. ’For the love of mercy, what is that?’ I yelled.

“‘Tis the leader puttin’ out the drag,’ says me crew. ’Whin the breakers are high it’s safer to ride in with a drag over the stern. It keeps the boat from broachin’ to.’ And to the dot of his last word I felt the sudden, strong pull of something on the launch’s tail. Thin something lifted us up and laid us down with a slap, like a pan of dough on a mouldin’ board. Me machines coughed and raced and thin almost stopped. Whin they were goin’ again I saw me assistant houldin’ to a stanchion. His face was pasty white and he gulped. ‘Are ye scared at last?’ I demanded of him.

“‘I am seasick,’ he chokes back. And he was, be Hivins!

“So we joggled and bobbled about and I wondhered how many times we had crossed the bar from ind to ind, whin suddenly it smoothed down and I saw a red light through the little windey. Me assistant saw it too. ‘That’s the range light off the jetty,’ says he. ‘We’re inside.’

“I shoved open the door to the deck and looked out. The fog lay about us thick and the wind was risin’; I cud barely make out the lights ahead. I stuck me head out and glanced astern. ’Way back of us, like a match behind a curtain, I saw a little light bobbing up and down in the fog. I took me crew be the ear and thrust his head out beside mine. ’What is that?’ I demanded.

“‘Tis the other launch,’ he says. ‘I guess they folleyed us in.’

“We ran up to the wharf and the gang made everything fast; and then me bould Tad comes to me with a sheepish face. ‘Wud ye mind tellin’ the ladies and childher that they can go ashore and get to the hotel?’ he says.

“So it was me that wint in and tould the ladies they were saved and helped thim to the wharf and saw thim started for the hotel. Thin I came back to the launch, but there was nobody there. Me bould gang had disappeared. Just thin the other launch came up, limpin’ on one leg, covered with drippin’ men and blasphemy. They didn’t wait for the lines to be put out, but jumped for the float like rats out of biscuit barrels and swarmed for the hotel. Whiles I was watchin’ thim the skipper of the Gladys pulls himself out of his wrecked pilot house and approaches me with heavy footfalls. ’I’m toold that ’twas bhoys that manned this launch,’ he remar-rks. ’If it is so, I wudn’t have come in and nearly lost me ship.’

“‘If it hadn’t been for the bhoys ye’d now be driftin’ into the breakers off yer favorite fishin’ spot,’ I retor-rts. ’Nixt time ye try suicide leave the women and childher ashore.’ And with the words out of me mouth the gale broke upon us like the blow of a fish.

“We took shelter behind a warehouse and the skipper of the ‘Gladys’ said in me ear: ’I suppose the owner of the launch had to get what crew he cud. Where is he? I’d like to thank him.’

“’If ye will come with me to the hotel ye shall see the man ye owe life to,’ I infor-rmed him.

“As we intered the hotel a tall man, with the mar-rk of aut’ority on him, observed me unifor-rm and addressed me: ’What do you know about this?’

“Aut’ority is always aut’ority, and I tould him what I knew and had seen, not forbearin’ to mintion the gang and their wild ambitions. And whin I had finished this man said: ’I shall muster thim in to-morrow. I happen to be in command of the scouts in this district.’

“‘But they haven’t their dollars to put in the little bank,’ I remarked. ’And they tell me without their dollar they cannot be second-class scouts, whativer that is.’

“At this a fat man reached for a hat off the hook and put his hand in his pocket, drew it out and emptied it into the hat, and passed it.

“And while the money jingled into it my respict for the brave lads rose into me mouth. ‘They won’t take it,’ I said. ’They have refused money before. ‘Tis their oath.’

“The man with authority looked over at me. ‘The chief is right,’ he said. ’They have earned only a dollar apiece. Whose launch was that they took?’

“‘Faith and I don’t know,’ I said. ’They remar-rked that the owner Hivin bless him! had niver forbidden thim to use it.’

“‘Thin we must pay the rint of it for the night,’ says he. ’But the bhoys will get only a dollar apiece.” Where are they?’

“‘They disappeared whin the boat was fast, sir,’ says I. ’I think they wint home. ‘Tis bedtime.’

“‘D’ye know where the patrol-leader lives?’ he demands.

“So we walked up the hill in the darkness and wind till we reached the house of me bould Tad. A knock at the door brought the missus, with a towel on her ar-rm. I pushed in. ‘We’ve come to see yer son,’ says I.

“We stepped in and saw the young sprig be the fire, on a chair, with his feet in a bowl of watther and musthard. He was for runnin’ whin he saw us, but cudn’t for the lack of clothes. So he scowled at us. ’This is the commander of the scouts,’ I says, inthroducin’ me tall companion. ’And here’s yer five dollars to put with yer dollar and six bits into the little bank, so’s yez can all of yez be second-class scouts.’

“‘We can’t take the money,’ says he, with a terrible growl. ’The oath forbids us to take money for savin’ life.’

“‘Don’t be a hero,’ I rebukes him. ’Ye’re only a small bhoy in his undherclothes with yer feet in hot watther and musthard. No hero was ever in such a predicament. This gintleman will infor-rm ye about the money.’

“Me bould companion looked at the slip of a lad and said sharply: ’Report to me to-morrow morning with yer patrol at sivin o’clock to be musthered in.’

“With that we mar-rched out into the stor-rm and back to the hotel, where I wint to slape like a bhoy mesilf me that was sixty-four me last birthday and niver thought to make a fool of mesilf with a gang of bhoys and a gasoline engine and that on a holiday!”