Read Chapter XXIV - CONCLUSION of The Grammar School Boys in Summer Athletics, free online book, by H. Irving Hancock, on ReadCentral.com.

The mentally queer inventor had rigged up a bench just under shelves on which rested tools and boat supplies.

Just at the moment the inventor had his back turned to the water as he stood working at his bench.  Dick was able to look at him while not in immediate danger of being seen himself.

How quietly the Grammar School boy trod water!  He hardly dared breathe, for fear of giving an alarm.

Yet, even in all his astonishment, Prescott did not forget to let one hand close over the handle of the black bag whose recovery had brought him here.

“I can’t do anything with Garwood alone,” reflected Dick swiftly.  “I must get out, if I can, without making a noise, and then give the hurry alarm.  That fellow is mixing something, and, if he isn’t stopped soon, he’s quite likely to blow up the boathouse, himself included.”

Fortunately there was sufficient depth of water at this outer end of the boathouse.  Prescott let himself sink so quietly that there was barely a ripple above his head.  Next, with a few cautious strokes, he carried himself past the hanging side wall and into the open upstream.

“Gracious, but no wonder Garwood has been able to keep away from pursuers,” thought the boy excitedly, as he swam steadily up toward the other pier.  “He has a place where not even a Sherlock Holmes would ever think of looking for him.  Why, he could work, sleep and eat there and never give a sign of his presence!”

“Did you get it?” called the owner of the handbag eagerly.

“Yes, ma’am,” Dick replied.

“The bag wasn’t open, was it?”

“No, ma’am.”

“Let me have it quickly, please.  Oh, I’m so thankful!  Here is my purse with all the money safe and sound.  Wait, Master Prescott, I must reward you suitably.”

“No; I thank you,” Dick replied, his color rising.  “Your thanks are enough.  I’ve been taught that courtesy can’t be repaid with cash.  You are very, very welcome to any service that I was able to do you.”

As Dick hurried into the Central Grammar “dressing room” he found all five of his chums waiting to rub him down and help him dress.

“Here, give me that towel, and get out on other business in a hurry!” begged Dick.  “Dave!  Tom!  Amos Garwood is in the boathouse below here, working at a bench.  Get some of the men and rush down there to make a capture.  Greg, run and see to it that a launch moves down to the river end of the boathouse in case Garwood tries to get out that way when he hears the alarm!”

Prescott’s chums darted out in a hurry.  Dick half dried himself in a few frenzied dabs with the towel.  Then he pulled on his clothing faster than ever before.

He got outside on the pier just in time to see Dave and Tom leading a dozen men stealthily toward the door of the boathouse.  Out on the water Len Spencer’s launch, with half a dozen men in it, stood as river sentinel.

While those approaching the boathouse door were still more than a score of feet away there came a startling interruption.

Bang! sounded inside.  The door of the building strained an instant, but did not give way.

“That’s our old friend, Amos bang-bang, to a dot,” muttered Tom dryly, as the advancing party of men and boys halted.

“I don’t care about fooling with a dynamite factory,” remarked one of the men.

Dick, at a dead run, joined the party.

“Come along!” he cried.  “Let’s break down the door and find out whether the poor fellow is hurt.”

“Yes!  And have that ‘poor fellow’ hand you a peck of nitro-glycerine for a surprise,” retorted a man.

“Come on, fellows!  We can get the door down without help,” Dick called, appealing to his chums.

All five of them rallied to his support.  It took but a few sturdy shoulder blows to complete the work of the explosion and break the lock of the door.

Dick took one quick look inside.

“Tom, run and ’phone for a physician!” Prescott called back.  “Poor Garwood is unconscious, and cut.  He’s bleeding.  Poor chap, with his lop-sided mind and his ‘mastery of the world’ imaginings!”

Reade sped away.  As soon as the crowd found there was no danger there was a rush to the scene.  Darrin and three friends managed to hold the crowd somewhat at bay, while Prescott assisted two women in trying to bring the injured man to.

“I hope he doesn’t get away this time,” thought Dick.  “If Garwood remains at large much longer he’ll fix up a bang-bang that will carry him clean into the next world!”

While those having the injured man in charge waited they explored the boathouse.  Of the explosive materials not a particle was found.  Evidently it had all gone up in smoke.  But, in a far corner, the searchers discovered a package of gauze, and another of salve, with which poor Garwood had evidently attended to the burns resulting from former explosions.  Later it was found that both packages came from a drugstore some twenty miles away, where the poor fellow had also bought his explosive materials from time to time.  He must have walked the long distance at night when other people were abed, for the druggist stated that his customer came in, on each visit, as soon as the store was opened in the morning.

Blankets and a few groceries, found in the loft, explained the demented man’s manner of housekeeping during the last few days.

It was half an hour ere a physician finally arrived in a touring car.

“The man doesn’t appear to be badly hurt,” declared the medical man.  “It won’t take us five minutes to get him into town and in the hospital, so I believe we had better start to revive him after we get him there.”

Two strong men were found who were willing to sit in the tonneau, holding Amos Garwood’s insensible body between them.

As the car started away a subdued cheer arose.  The mystery and the vanishing of Amos Garwood were at an end at last.  Those who had feared having a demented man at large in the community breathed more easily.

From the day of the race the summer vacation for the late Grammar School boys began in earnest.  A few days later Dick and his swimming squad met a similar organization from the South Grammar, and a match was held on the river.  As Prescott’s squad again won, Central Grammar was now undisputed Grammar School champion on the water as well as in baseball.

Colonel Garwood tried to pay the offered reward to the members of Dick & Co., but the parents of the boys refused to entertain the idea.

Amos Garwood, not seriously injured in body, was soon well enough to be taken back to the sanitarium.  Here his malady was found not to be severe.  A year later he was discharged, fully cured of his delusions, and able once more to take his place as a useful member of society.

There does not remain a great deal more to be told.

Many of the boys who have appeared in these pages went no further in school life, but stepped out into the working world, there to fit themselves for the men’s places in life.

The more fortunate ones, however, went to High School.  All the members of Dick & Co. were thus favored in being able to go forward into the fields of higher education.  We shall speedily meet with these manly American boys again, for their further doings will be described in the High School Boys’ Series.

In the first volume of this series, “The High School Freshmen; Or Dick & Co.’s First Year Pranks and Sports,” the friends of these six wide-awake boys will find them in a new field of action, and follow them through an exciting series of trials and triumphs.  Dick & Co.’s interest in High School athletics, and the way in which they won a permanent place in the hearts of the older students is told so realistically in the first volume of this series as to make all readers long to know more about them.

All the big and little boys who wish to continue their friendship with Dick & Co. will find their further adventures related most entertainingly in the four volumes of the High School Boys’ Series just published.