The Cruise of the O MooRoy J. Snell
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Adventure Stories for Girls
THE CRUISE OF THE O MOO
ROY J. SNELL
The Reilly & Lee Co.Chicago
Printed in the United States of America
Copyright, 1922byThe Reilly & Lee Co.All Rights Reserved
CHAPTER PAGE I A Mysterious Tapping 7 II The Blue Face in the Night 24 III Lucile's Quick Action Gas 36 IV Trapped in the Old Museum 51 V A Catastrophe Averted 65 VI The Blue God 78 VII The Mystery Deepens 90 VIII A Strange Game of Hide-and-Go-Seek 103 IX Someone Drops in from Nowhere 117 X The Real Cruise Begins 131 XI A Mysterious Adventure 148 XII The O Moo Rides the Storm 161 XIII Land at Last 177 XIV "A Phantom Wireless" 191 XV The Island's Secret 202 XVI An Unexpected Welcome 215 XVII Hot Water and a Ghost 226
THE CRUISE OF THE O MOO
CHAPTER I A MYSTERIOUS TAPPING
Lucile Tucker stirred in her berth, opened her eyes drowsily, thenhalf-framed a thought into a whispered: "What was that?"
The next instant she sat bolt upright. She had heard it again, this timenot in a dream. It was a faint rat-tat-tat, with a hollow sound to it asif beaten on the head of a barrel.
She strained her ears to catch the slightest sound but now caught onlythe constant lash-lash of the flag-rope as it beat the mast of the yacht,the O Moo, a sure sign of a rising storm.
She strained her eyes to peer into the darkness to the right of her; shewanted to see her two companions who should be sleeping there to makesure they were still with her. She could not see; the shutters weretightly closed and there was no moon. The place was dark; black as soot.
She stilled her breathing to listen again, but caught only the lash-lashof that flag-rope, accompanied now and then by the drumlike boom ofcanvas. The storm was rising. Soon it would be lashing the waves intowhite foam to send them crashing high above the breakwaters. Sheshivered. A storm aboard ship had always frightened her.
Yet now as she thought of the term, "aboard ship," she shrugged her slimshoulders. Her lips parted in a smile as she murmured:
"The cruise of the O Moo."
Suddenly her thoughts were broken in upon by the repetition of thatmysterious sound of a rat-tat-tat.
"Like a yellow-hammer drumming on a hollow tree," was her unspokencomment, "only birds don't work at night. It's like--like someonedriving--yes, driving tacks. Only who could it be? And anyway, why wouldthey drive tacks into our yacht at midnight."
The thought was so absurd that she dismissed it at once. Dismissing thewhole problem for the moment, she began thinking through the events whichhad led up to that moment.
She, with Marian Norton, her cousin--as you will remember if you chanceto have read the account of their previous adventure as recorded in thebook called "The Blue Envelope"--had spent the previous year on theshores of Behring Straits in Alaska and Siberia. There they had beencarried through a rather amazing series of thrilling adventures which hadnot been without their financial advantages, especially to Marian.
Lucile's father had been, when she had left her home at Anacortes,Washington, a well-to-do salmon fisherman. She had felt no fear of lackof money for further schooling. The two girls had therefore planned tostudy during this present year, Lucile at a great university situatednear the shore of Lake Michigan and Marion in a renowned school of art inthe same city.
But fortune plays rude tricks at times. They had returned to find thatLucile's father's fortune had been dissipated by an unfortunateinvestment in fish-traps for catching a run of sock-eyed salmon, a salmonrun which failed, and that Marian's father had grub-staked a"sure-winner" gold mine which had panned out not enough gold to pay forthe miner's "mucklucks" (skin-boots).
So Marian had given up the major portion of the money paid to her by theEthnological Society for her sketches and Lucile had abandoned all hopeof receiving money from her father for a university education. They hadnot, however, given up their plans for further schooling.
"Have to live carefully and not spend an extra cent," had been Marian'sway of summing up the situation. "And we can make it all right. Why, justlook at the price for rooms at the university." She referred to acatalogue in her hand. "Twenty-three dollars a term. That is less thantwo dollars a week. We could pay that. Rooms outside the universitycertainly can't be any more--probably not as much."
Lucile smiled now as she recalled this bit of crude reasoning.
They had hurried on to the university with their little checkingaccounts. They had had--
But here again Lucile started and sprang half out of her berth. Cameagain that mysterious rat-tat-tat.
"What can it be?" she whispered. "Marian! Florence! Wake up. Someoneis--"
These last words, uttered in a whisper, died on her lips. The other girlsslept on. What was the use of waking them? Couldn't be anything serious.And if it were, what could they do at this mad hour of night? Supposethey routed out old Timmie, keeper of the dry dock, what could he do? Itwas black as jet out there.
So she reasoned, and, having settled back between her blankets, beganagain the recalling of events.
They had arrived in the city by the lake to be completely disillusioned.All university rooms had been reserved for months ahead. So too had alloutside rooms which might be had for a reasonable price. To pay the pricedemanded for such rooms as were available had been impossible. They facedthe danger of being obliged to return to their homes, and this, to suchgirls as they were, was a calamity unthinkable.
Just at this critical moment, the O Moo had shown her masts above thehorizon. She was a trim little pleasure yacht, thoroughly equipped forliving on board. She belonged to a wealthy doctor named Holmes, alife-time friend of Lucile's father.
"She's in dry dock down about two miles from the university," he had toldthe girls. "You're welcome to live in her for the winter. Canvas over hernow but you can prop that up here and there, I guess. Make a snug placeto camp, I'd say. Cabin's about ten by thirty and there's everythingyou'd need, from an eggbeater to an electric range. There's electriclights and everything; valve-in-the-head motor supplies 'em. Go on; livethere if you want to; keep house and everything. Pretty stiff walk to theU. But there's the lagoon in winter, with good skating a mile and a halfof the way. What say--want to try it? Old Timmie, the keeper of the drydock, will see that nobody bothers you. There's some Chinamen living in abarge out there, some fishermen in a smack and a young chap in a gasolineschooner. Guess they are all peaceable folks, though. Might get anothergirl or two to go in with you. Plenty of room. We live on board her twomonths every summer, two families of us, six in all."
If the girls had been captivated at once by this novel plan, once theyhad climbed aboard the yacht, they had been thrilled and delighted at thesight which met their eyes.
"She--she's a regular little floating palace!" Lucile had stammered.
"Tut! Tut!" Mr. Holmes had remonstrated, "not quite a palace, thoughcomfortable enough, and not floating at all, at the present moment."
"It will be a cruise--the winter cruise of the O Moo," Lucile hadexclaimed in delight.
Had she but known how real these words would be to her some timehence--"The winter cruise of the O Moo"--she might have shuddered withfear and been sorely tempted not to accept her new home.
The power of divination was not one of her talents, so, with Marian ather side, she had proceeded to lift the heavy canvas which enshrouded theyacht's deck, and, having crept ...
A truly wonderful cabin it was, all done in dark oak, with broad panelsof green canvas along the walls, equipped with heavy oak tables andheavily over-stuffed chairs and lounges. It presented the appearance of asplendidly furnished but rather eccentric living room.
Here at one end the touch of a lever sent an electric range springing upfrom the floor. A second lever lowered a partition between this suddenlyimprovised kitchenette and the living room. Two cupboards to the right ofthis kitchen displayed dishes and cooking utensils. The opposite wallfurnished a table which folded up when not in use. Behind this was afully equipped kitchen cabinet.
"Convenient when in use, out of the way when not needed," had been thedoctor's only comment.
This kitchen was forward. Aft were to be found four double berths.Modeled after the upper berths of a Pullman sleeper, these gave themaximum of comfort and when folded up occupied no space at all.
"It's wonderful!" had been the most the girls could say. "And, oh! DoctorHolmes, we'll pay you rent for it. You surely must allow us to do that,"Marian had exclaimed.
"Nonsense!" the good doctor had exclaimed. "Worked my way through schoolmyself. Know what it means. All I ask is that you pass the good work onto some other fellow who needs a boost when you are through with schooland making money."
So here they were, and had been for two months, all comfortablyestablished in the cabin of the O Moo.
Dr. Holmes had suggested that they might be able to accommodate anothergirl. They had become acquainted with Florence Huyler, a freshman in thephysical culture department, and had decided at once that she was justthe girl to join them.
Florence had not waited for a second invitation and here she was sleepingin the berth to Lucile's right. Just why she should have seemed mostfitting as a companion for such an adventure I can best tell you asevents progress.
The long hike back and forth to the university and the art school hadbeen a bit tiring at first, but in time they had come to enjoy it. Thenwinter had come and with it ice on the lagoon. Only yesterday they hadhad their first wonderful race over its shining surface. Herrecollections came slower and slower and she was about to drift off intoa dream when there came again that strange rat-tat-tat.
Once more she sat bolt upright to peer into the darkness; once more sheasked herself the questions: "What can it be? Should I waken Marian andFlorence?"
She did not waken them. To do so would seem, she thought, a trifle silly.The yacht stood upon a car with iron wheels which rested on a trackraised five feet above the ground by a stout trestle work. The sides ofthe yacht towered above this trestle. Altogether the deck of the yachtwas fully twenty feet from the ground. They ascended and descended bymeans of a rope ladder. This ladder, at the present moment, lay on thedeck. No one could enter their cabin unless he were possessed of a ladderand any person attempting this would at once be detected and might bearrested for it, so why be afraid?
But, after all, that sound was puzzling. She wanted to know what itmeant. For some time she contemplated slipping on her dressing-gown tocreep out on deck and peer over the side. But the wind was chill andstill rising. The flag-rope was whipping the mast with ever-increasingfury.
"Cold out there," she thought with a shiver. "Glad the O Moo is in drydock and not on the water!"
A sudden thought brought a new fear. Of a whole line of schooners andyachts on that track in the dry dock, the O Moo was the one closest tothe water. What if she should slip back into the water and be driven outinto the lake! Lucile shivered again. Then she smiled. How absurd. Didnot a heavy cable hold her in place? Were not the wheels of the car, onwhich she rested, blocked? How then could she glide back into the lake?
Fortunately, it did not occur to her that this very tap-tap-tapping mightbe the knocking of a hammer which was driving those blocks from theirpositions before the wheels of the car.
Since this thought did not come to her and, since the tapping did notcome again, she at last snuggled down among the blankets and fell asleep.
Hardly had she wakened in the morning before she recalled this strangeincident of the night. Hurriedly slipping into a middy suit and slippers,she raced up the short gangway and across deck, tossing the rope ladderover the side. The next moment she might have been seen walking slowlyabout the hull of the yacht. She was searching for traces of the strangetapping.
Having passed along the south side, she climbed through the trestle andmade her way along the north side. She was about to conclude that thenight's experience had been purely an imaginary one when a white spotnear the prow attracted her attention.
She caught her breath as her hand reached for it. It was a square bit ofpaper held in place by four tacks which had apparently been driven intothe hull with great deliberation.
"That explains the tapping," she whispered to herself. "Sure had theircourage right along with them. Thought we'd be afraid to interfere, beingjust girls, I suppose. Wonder what it is."
She reached up and pulled the paper free from the tacks. As soon as shehad it in her hand she realized that written on it was a message. Sheread it--read it twice--then stood there staring.
The paper was of a peculiar rice-straw variety. The words were written ina strangely artistic fashion. Fine as the tracing of a woman's pen, eachletter stood out distinct, done in curves of wonderful perfection, thework of a master penman.
But she did not pause to admire the handwriting; it was the meaning ofthe words that startled her as she read:
"You must not stay here. You shall not stay. I have said it."
It was signed only with a crosslike figure, a bizarre sketch that mightwell have represented the claw of a bird--or a dragon, Lucile added witha little intake of breath.
"I must show the girls," she exclaimed, and nimble as a squirrel, wasaway over the trestle and up the rope ladder.
When the other girls had heard Lucile's story and had read the note theywere more astonished than alarmed.
"Huh!" exclaimed Florence, gripping an iron rod above her and lifting herfull hundred and sixty pounds easily with one hand. "Who's telling uswhether we can stay here or not?"
"I'd say they better not let you get near them," smiled Lucile.
Florence laughed and, releasing her grip on the rod, sat down to think.
"Doesn't seem possible it could be anyone living in the other boats," shemused. "I've seen that young man they call Mark Pence, the fellow wholives in the gasoline schooner, just once. He seems to be decent enough."
"And the old fishermen," put in Marian, "I hired two of them to pose forsome sketches last week. Nice old fellows, they are; a little rough butentirely harmless. Besides, what difference could it make to them whetherwe live here or not?"
"There's the Chinamen who run a little laundry in that old scow," saidLucile thoughtfully, "but they are the mildest-mannered of them all, withtheir black pajama suits and pigtails."
"And that's all of them, except Old Timmie and his wife," said Florence,rising and pressing the lever which brought the electric range intoposition. "And as for Timmie, I'd as soon suspect my own father."
"We'll tell him about it," said Lucile. "He might help us."
They did tell Timmie, but he could throw no light on the subject. Heappeared puzzled and a little disturbed, but his final counsel was:
"Someone playing a practical joke on
you. Pay no attention to it. Pay noattention at all." The girls accepted his advice. Indeed, there wasnothing they could do about it.
"All the same," was Lucile's concluding word, "I don't like it. Looks asif someone in this vicinity were doing something they should not do andwere afraid we'd catch them at it. I for one shall keep an eye out fortrouble."
The other two girls agreed with her, and while they did not alter theirdaily program in the least, they did keep a sharp lookout for suspiciouscharacters who might be lurking about the dry dock.