Harry's Island/Chapter 4


FOX ISLAND lies on the Ferry Hill side of the river some two hundred yards from shore and about a quarter of a mile above the school landing. It is fairly high, contains very nearly two acres, and is beautifully wooded. It is about one third as wide as it is long, and the shores, the inner shore especially, are full of tiny coves and promontories. There are two excellent beaches of white sand and nice round pebbles. Inner Beach, because of its more gradual slope, being the favorite bathing place. At the up-stream end of the beach a great granite boulder, worn round and smooth by water and weather, juts into the river, and forms an excellent place on which to lie in the sun and dry off without the aid of towels.

Back of the Inner Beach the trees and underbrush begin, climbing the side of Mount Emery, the tiniest heap of rocks and earth ever dignified with the name of mountain, and hurrying down the other side to riot across the island to where Outer Beach stretches from The Grapes to School Point. At the lower end of the island the underbrush has been cleared away and a grove of birches and maples makes a capital camp site. It was here that the boys decided to pitch their tent. They embarked bright and early the morning after the return of Roy and Chub, the tent and accompanying paraphernalia stowed away in a rowboat which was trailed behind Chub’s crimson canoe. Harry was not with them. Fired with enthusiasm, she was up at the Cottage making a batch of doughnuts. Harry and the doughnuts and a cold luncheon were to be brought over to the camp later on.

It was a bright morning with a crisp, cool breeze out of the northeast. The sun was still low over the hill behind them as they paddled slowly up the stream toward the island. The trees along the shore threw green shadows far out on to the bosom of the sparkling river. It was rather hard paddling with that clumsy rowboat tagging along astern, and presently Roy turned to Dick, who, as usual, was enacting the rôle of freight in the middle of the craft.

“Thought you were going to have a gasolene launch,” he said, jeeringly.

“I am. It would be just the thing this morning, wouldn’t it? We could have put all this truck right into it and been at the island in a minute.”

“Huh!” puffed Chub, skeptically.

“I’ve written to a fellow who makes them,” Dick continued, “and he’s got just the thing we want all ready to put the engine in.”

“Get him to leave the engine out,” suggested Chub, “then we won’t have so much trouble with the thing.”

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JULY, 1906

“It’s a sixteen-footer,” continued Dick unheeding, “and has a two-horse-power motor, and only costs a hundred and sixty dollars.”

“Phew!” breathed Roy. “That’s a whole lot, isn’t it?”

“Not for a launch like that,” protested Dick.

“No,” said Chub, judicially, “not for a launch. It would be a good deal for a piece of pie or a hard-boiled egg, but—”

“Oh, you shut up,” interrupted Dick good-naturedly.

“No sooner said than stung,” murmured Chub, flicking a shower of water with his paddle on to Dick’s back and bringing a howl from that youth.

“Are you going to get it?” asked Roy.

“He did get it,” Chub laughed.

“Yes, I think so. I thought I’d wait and talk it over with you fellows. Maybe we ought to have a larger boat; sixteen feet isn’t very long—”

“It’ll be all we want to row,” said Chub.

“We won’t have to row it,” answered Dick warmly. “It’s a Saxon launch, and they’re as good as any made.”

“How fast will it go?” Chub inquired, interestedly. “I mean when it does go?”

“It’s capable of eight miles an hour.”

“Humph! I’m capable of lots of things I don’t do.”

“Yes, and you try to do lots of things you aren’t capable of,” responded Dick, “and judging motor-boats is one of them.”

“Whereupon,” murmured Chub, “our hero bent manfully at his oar.”

“How long will it take to get it?” pursued Roy.

“About six days the man said,” answered Dick. “If you fellows think it’s all right I’ll send for it to-day.”

“I don’t see why it shouldn’t be all right. Do you, Chub?”

“Well, it’s nice to be able to go fast, you know, and I suppose that a boat with eighteen feet can go faster than one with only sixteen. If you could afford it, Dick, it would be nice to get a centipede boat that could do about a mile a minute.”

“Oh, cut it out,” laughed Roy, “and head her in toward the point, Chub. Funny how much easier she paddles now.”

“We’re out of the current, probably,” answered Chub. “Shall we paddle around the point to the cove or—”

But at that instant Roy set up a howl of laughter, pointing speechlessly down the stream. Dick and Chub turned. Four or five hundred yards away, drifting gaily away from them, was the rowboat containing the tent. Chub looked hurriedly behind him.

“The rope slipped,” he muttered.

“Didn’t you tie it?” asked Dick.

“No, I sat on it. Turn her back, Roy; we’ll have to get the old thing.”

“You’re a nice one,” laughed Roy. “Why didn’t you hold the rope in your teeth?”

“Oh, he’d have to keep his mouth shut,” Dick scoffed, “and you know plaguey well he couldn’t do that.”

“Say, suppose you take a paddle and do some of the work,” suggested Chub, fretfully. “I’d like to know what we’re hauling you around for, anyway, you—you lump of dead weight! Let’s throw him overboard and lighten the ship, Roy.”

“Save your breath for paddling,” Dick advised cheerfully. “It’s a quarter of a mile to the boat and a quarter mile back. Don’t worry about me; I’m very comfortable,” and Dick proceeded to find an easier position, rocking the canoe perilously in the process.

“Sit still, you idiot,” said Chub, “or I’ll duck you again. Do you want to have us in the water?”

“Now, if I had my motor-boat—” Dick commenced.

“Oh, blow you and your old motor-boat,” spluttered Chub. “You’ve got to learn to paddle, that’s what you’ve got to do!”

The runaway boat was soon captured, but it was some time before they had reached the island again, and during the return trip both Chub and Roy saved their breath for their work. They were both pretty well tuckered by the time they had regained the end of Inner Beach. Just when the canoe was floating into shallow water, Dick, who for several minutes past had been smiling inscrutably at Roy’s back, observed casually:

“Of course what we ought to have done—but it’s too late now.”

“What are you mumbling about?” asked Chub crossly.

“Nothing; that is, I was going to say that if you had put me in the rowboat I could have taken the oars and it wouldn’t have been so hard on you fellows.”

Chub paused with paddle suspended and viewed Dick disgustedly. Then,

“Well, why didn’t you think of it before, you lazy loafer?” he demanded.

“Oh, I did think of it,” answered Dick calmly, hunching his shoulders in expectation of a shower of water, “but as I am only a passenger I didn’t think I had any right to make suggestions.”

“Gee!” muttered Chub. But before he could bring his paddle into play Dick had thrown himself out of the canoe into a foot of water and was plunging up the beach out of danger.

“Got your feet good and wet,” taunted Chub.

“I like them that way,” laughed Dick from a safe distance. “If I had that motor-boat I could have saved you fellows—”

“If you mention that fool motor-boat again to-day,” cried Chub wildly, “I’ll—I’ll—”

But the threat was never finished, for a canoe with its bow grounded on the beach and its stern afloat is something you can’t take liberties with. Chub, balancing himself in the stern, forgot this fact for a moment, and when he remembered it he was sitting in the water and Roy and Dick were howling gleefully. Strange to say, this misadventure restored Chub’s good-nature, and, after sitting for a minute up to his waist in the water and laughing at his predicament, he jumped up dripping, and hauled the canoe up the beach. They unloaded the rowboat, depositing tent and poles and supplies on the sand, and then considered the matter of a site for the camp.

They had landed on Inner Beach where School Point curves toward the middle of the river. Above the beach there was a fringe of scrub-pines and a few low bushes, but beyond these all underbrush had been cleared away so that there was a full quarter of an acre of grass-carpeted ground interspersed with well-grown maples and birches. There were plenty of signs of former occupancy; here and there benches had been built between a couple of neighborly trees; some wooden pegs driven into the trunk above one of these benches showed where during the spring camping the towels had been hung. Paths crossed and recrossed the clearing, many of them converging at the beach.

“’Most any place here is all right,” said Chub.

“When we look for a camp site out our way,” observed Dick, “we think first about water.”

“Well, I guess we won’t suffer for that with the river so near,” said Chub dryly.

“I’d forgotten the river!” murmured Dick, looking foolish.

In the end they decided on a spot some ten yards back from the beach at Victory Cove. This, being well out on the point, Roy argued, would be cool and at the same time accessible from both sides. The sun would reach the tent for awhile in the afternoon, but not when it was hot enough to matter. The trees were well thinned out on both sides so that they had a clear view of the river to right and left. It was a good deal like camping out in one’s own back yard, said Roy, for there, just across the inner channel, was the float and the boat-house, and, further up on the hill, the familiar forms of the school buildings. Over their heads the branches of the trees almost met, and, as Chub pointed out, in case of a heavy rainstorm they would have a second roof above them. There were a few pines scattered near by toward the rising ground inland, and their resinous fragrance mingled with the aroma of damp earth and dewy foliage.

They brought the tent and poles up and, under the direction of Dick, who was quite in his element now, soon had them erected. Dick showed them how to drive the pegs in a line with the guy-ropes instead of at an angle, so that the straining of the tent in a wind would not loosen them. The tent was not a new one, as several patches proved, but it was made of good heavy duck and was quite tight. It was a wall tent, twelve by eight feet in size, and there was a shelter curtain which could be raised over the doorway. Chub called it the porch roof. Then they had brought a third piece of canvas which could be stretched over the little sheet-iron stove on rainy days. Dick, who had volunteered to do the cooking, selected a site for the “kitchen,” and, while the others went off for pine branches for the beds, he set up the stove. After the boughs were placed in the tent and the blankets spread over them they scooped out a trench around the outside of the tent to drain off the water in case of a heavy rain. Then the boys separated in search of firewood, Roy looking for dead branches in the “forest” and Chub and Dick going to the upper end of the island. Chub took the canoe and Dick the rowboat, and by the time they had met, after having paddled along opposite shores, each had accumulated a respectable quantity of driftwood. Much of it was too wet to burn, and so when they got back to camp they spread it out in the sun. Roy had meanwhile made several trips into the woods and a good-sized heap of dry branches lay beside the stove.

“Now what?” asked Dick, surveying the scene with satisfaction and wiping the perspiration from his face. Chub looked speculatively at the flagpole which stands at the end of School Point.

“We ought to have a flag,” he said. “Why didn’t we bring along the school flag?”

“Because this isn’t the school camp,” answered Roy. “It’s a private affair. We must have a flag of our own.”

“With the name of the camp on it,” said Dick. “By the way, what is the name of the camp?”

“Well, I’ve been thinking of that,” answered Chub, gravely, seating himself on a root which had apparently shaped itself for the purpose, “and I’ve got it all settled. It’s a nice camp, and it ought to have a nice name, a name that stands for—er—respectability and renown. So I suggest that we call it Camp Thomas H. Eaton.”

“What I’ve always admired in you,” said Dick, sarcastically, “is your modesty, Chub.”

“Yes, it is one of my many excellent qualities,” Chub replied sweetly.

“Who’s got a piece of paper?” Roy demanded. No one had, so he pulled a strip of bark from a birch-tree. “I’ve got an idea,” he said. “You fellows wait a minute.” He seated himself cross-legged and began to write on the bark, scowling intently. Chub viewed him apprehensively.

“Do you think it’s over-study?” he asked Dick in a hoarse whisper, “or merely the sun?”

“Crazed by the heat,” responded Dick, sadly.

“Isn’t it a sad case?” continued Chub. “Such a promising youth as he was! He was always promising—and never doing it. And so young, too!”

“Say, dry up a minute, you fellows,” Roy begged.

“He may get over it, though,” observed Dick, thoughtfully. But Chub shook his head.

“I’m afraid not,” he said. “Just look at his eyes; see that baleful glare, Dick? That’s what tells the story, the baleful glare; when you develop the baleful glare you are quite incurable. And see his lips work. He’s muttering to himself. That’s a frightfully bad sign, Dick. Pretty soon he will gibber, and when—”

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“‘What is the name of the camp?’”

“Dry up, Chub,” commanded Roy. “Now listen. Let’s get a name the way the soap and biscuit people do.”

“A romantic idea,” murmured Chub, politely.

“I mean by using the initials or first two letters.”

“What first two letters?” asked Dick.

“Of our names, of course. You can’t make anything out of the initials, because they’re all consonants, but—”

“We could make believe it was a Russian name,” said Chub helpfully.

“By using the first two letters,” continued Roy, “you get Torodi. How’s that?”

“It’s even worse than we feared!” said Chub to Dick sotto voce.

“Oh, cut it out,” exclaimed Roy, testily. “Talk sense.”

“Well, it sounds rather—er—interesting, don’t you think, Dick?”

“Oh, it’s great,” Dick answered. “What’s it mean?”

“It doesn’t mean anything, you silly chump!” Roy answered warmly. “It’s just a name; T-o, for Tom; r-o, for Roy; d-i, for Dick.”

“Sort of a shorthand effect,” said Chub, thoughtfully. “But why not put it the other way, and call it Rotodi? I think Rotodi is much more musical to the ear.”

“Lend me your pencil,” said Dick. “I’ve got a better one.”

“Let him have it, Roy,” Chub said. “In the end you’ll all come back to my suggestion; you can’t beat Camp Thomas H. Eaton if you spoil all the bark on the tree. Hand him a new piece of bark Roy; humor him; let him have his way.”

“Say, can’t you stop talking for a minute?” demanded Dick.

Chub grinned and accepted the suggestion. In a minute Dick said triumphantly:

“I’ve got it! Camp Sopœa!”

“So—what?” asked Chub.

“How do you get that?” inquired Roy.

“First two letters of our last names,” answered Dick, proudly.

“Sounds like Camp Sapolio,” Chub objected, “and if you’re going in for that sort of thing I think Camp Pearline would be much prettier.”

“Oh, well, you try it, then,” said Dick, tossing the pencil to Chub.

“I knew you’d have to come to me in the end,” said Chub. “Now let me see.”

“No funny business,” warned Roy. Chub shook his head. At that moment the silence, which had been disturbed only by the puffing of a distant steamer, was suddenly rudely shattered by a discordant sound that was like something between the finished efforts of a fish peddler and the wail of a bereaved cow.

“Tell Dick to stop snoring,” said Chub without looking up from his task.

“What the dickens is that?” marvelled Roy, as the sound again reached them, apparently from some distance down the river.

“Blamed if I know!” said Dick.

“It’s a cow,” said Chub. “She’s in great pain.”

“A cow!” jeered Dick.

“Certainly. Cows eat too much nice green grass at this time of year and have the tummy ache. I know. We used to own one.”

“What, a tummy ache?” asked Roy. But Chub was busy again and made no answer. Presently he looked up with a smile of satisfaction.

“I’ve beat you at your own game, Roy,” he said. “The name is Camp Torohadik, with the accent, you will kindly observe, on the penultimate syllable.”

“How do you spell it?” questioned Roy suspiciously. And, when Chub had responded, “Where do you get your ‘h,a’?” he asked.

“I will explain. I put myself first—”

“That’s your modesty,” said Dick.

“Because I was here first. Then Roy came next and then that sneering youth over there. That made ‘Torodi,’ which is just what Roy had. But by adding another letter of Dick’s name, out of compliment, and because of the fact that the camp was his idea, I get ‘Torodik,’ which is a better sounding word than ‘Torodi.’ But still, it is not yet perfect. At this point genius gets in its work. I introduce the letters h,a, and the thing is complete.”

“Yes, but where do you get your old ‘h,a’?” demanded Roy.

“From the first name of the fourth member of the party,” replied Chub triumphantly.

“The fourth member?” puzzled Roy.

“Harry, of course,” said Dick. “And what does it make, Chub?”

“Torohadik, an Indian word meaning ‘four friends,’” responded the inventor affably.

“That’s not so bad,” laughed Roy. “It really does sound like an Indian word, doesn’t it, Dick?”

“Sure. It’s all right. Camp Torohadik it is. We’ll get Harry to make us a flag out of a piece of white cloth, and we’ll paint the name on it. Only I don’t know how—”

“There’s Chub’s cow again,” interrupted Roy as the wail once more broke the silence. “I wish you’d give her some Jamaica ginger or something, Chub.”

“I’m going to see what that is,” said Dick, scrambling to his feet. “Sounds like a horn to me.”

“Horn!” cried Chub. “That’s just what it is, I’ll bet. It’s Harry at the landing. She said she’d blow a tin horn when she was ready to—”

“Yes, there she is,” said Dick, “on the landing, with a basket. I’d forgotten all about the horn part of it. I’ll go over for her in the rowboat. You fellows are more tired than I am.”

“All right,” Chub agreed with a laugh, “but the current’s pretty strong coming back, and you’ll have to row hard, Dick!

Dick groaned as he made toward the beach, leaving Roy to administer well-deserved punishment.