Harry's Island/Chapter 6

CHAPTER VI
EXPLORATION

“LET up, you lazy beggar!” cried Roy, snatching off the gray woolen blanket and disclosing Chub, in a pair of blue pajamas, sprawled, face down, on his bed.

“Eh?” muttered Chub sleepily.

“Get up! Harry’s over on the landing blowing that tin tooter of hers for all she’s worth. It’s after seven o’clock. You’re a great camper, you are!”

Chub turned over dazedly on his elbow and blinked at his chum. Then his eyes wandered to the other two empty beds.

“Where’s Dick?” he asked.

“Getting breakfast. He’s been up half an hour. And we’ve been yelling at you at the top of our lungs, and all we could get out of you was ‘Ye-e-s!’”

“Get out,” answered Chub, indignantly, sitting up on his lowly couch, “I haven’t opened my mouth!”

“Haven’t you? You had it open most of the night, for one thing. To-night we’re going to make you sleep outdoors, probably on the other end of the island. Get some clothes on and we’ll go over and fetch Harry.”

Chub shook his head anxiously.

“It occurs to me,” he said, “that that girl is going to annoy me with her strenuousness. This is no time to be making such noises as that. Think of the poor little birdies trying to sleep in their downy nests.”

“Well, you get a move out of your downy nest,” laughed Roy. “If you don’t I’ll call Dick and we’ll pull you out.”

“Think I’m afraid of you brutes?” asked Chub, scathingly. “I’d have you understand, Mr. Porter, that I am not to be coerced. I am a free-born citizen of this glorious Republic, and as such I have rights which cannot—”

“Oh, Dick!” shouted Roy. Chub gave a bound off his bed and was standing in the middle of the tent in a twinkling.

“I dare you to pull me out!” he said with immense dignity. Then, “How’s the water?” he asked.

“Cold,” replied Roy. “Besides, you haven’t got time for a bath. If you want to bathe before breakfast you must get up at a decent time. Get a move on now.”

Roy went out, leaving Chub indignantly searching for a pair of stockings which he plainly remembered having taken off last night but which at the present moment were not to be seen.

“Decent time!” he muttered. “What’s a vacation for if you can’t lie in bed when you’re sleepy? I’ve a good mind to go back again.” He looked speculatively at his disordered bed, and then peeped through the tent door. What he saw decided him.

“Bacon and eggs,” he murmured appreciatively. “Where are my trousers? A fellow doesn’t have to have socks to eat breakfast in.” But the trousers revealed the missing stockings, and as he proceeded to dress leisurely he warbled loudly for the benefit of the others:


The lark came up to meet the sun
And carol forth its lay;
The farmer’s boy took down his gun
And at him blazed away.

The busy bee arose at five
And hummed the meadows o’er;
The farmer’s wife went to his hive
And robbed him of his store.

The little ant rose early too,
His labors to begin;
The greedy sparrow that way flew
And took his antship in.

O birds and bees and ants, be wise;
In proverbs take no stock;
Like me, refuse from bed to rise
Till half past eight o’clock.”


“If you’re not out here in two minutes,” called Dick, “we’re going to duck you.”

“Brutes!” answered Chub. “Who’s got my necktie?”

The inquiry elicited no response and he was compelled to solve the mystery unaided. The missing article was finally discovered dangling from the pocket of his shirt. The tent was filled with a subdued yellow light, for the sun was shining brightly from a clear, blue sky, and here and there a low-hanging branch was silhouetted against the canvas. Through the opening a cool, moist breeze blew in, tempting the dawdler into the morning world. But what tempted him still more was the fragrant odor that came from Dick’s pan and the accompanying eloquent sizzling sound. Chub was out before the two minutes had expired. The bacon and eggs were frying merrily, the coffee-pot was exhaling a fragrant aroma through its spout, and life was wonderfully well worth living. Chub balanced himself precariously on the jutting stone and performed a somewhat sketchy toilet. Then he and Roy tumbled into the canoe and shot it out across the green-shadowed water.

Harry had given up her horn in disgust and was sitting on the landing, a picture of patience. As they drew near a fox terrier rustled out of the trees and ran toward them wagging a wisp of a tail in hilarious greeting.

“I brought Snip along,” explained Harry. “He loves to run around on the island, and I’m not afraid of his getting lost because, of course, he can’t get off. Methuselah wanted to come too, but I didn’t see how I could bring him.”

“It’s just as well,” said Roy. “He might get seasick crossing over.”

“Do you think parrots can get seasick?” asked Harry curiously as she took her place in the canoe.

“Well, we wouldn’t want to risk it,” answered Roy evasively. “Isn’t it a swell morning?”

“Beautiful. I’ve been up nearly two hours. I hope you’ve got something nice for breakfast.”

“You bet we have,” said Chub. “Bacon and eggs, all sputtering together in a pan like a happy family. Gee, I’m hungry enough to eat this paddle. Talk about being up a long time, Harry! Why, I’ve been up ever since—”

“Ten minutes ago,” finished Roy. “Snip, if you lean any farther out you’ll find a watery grave.”

“Snip can swim beautifully,” said Harry indignantly. “Can’t you, darling?” Darling intimated by a quick dab of his tongue at her chin that swimming was one of the easiest things he did.

“Huh!” said Chub. “Snip swims like Sid Welch; makes an awful lot of fuss but doesn’t get anywhere. Why, when Sid gets into the water there’s foam for a mile up and down the river; looks like a regular flotilla of excursion steamers had been along. As for Sid, he grunts and thrashes his arms and legs around and stays just where he started.”

“I think Snip swims very well for a small dog,” said Harry with hauteur.

“Talking about swimming,” observed Roy, “who’s going in this forenoon? Did you bring your bathing-suit, Harry?”

“I guess I’ll wait until to-morrow,” answered Harry. “Then I can get into my bathing-suit at the house and put on a mackintosh and you can row me over.”

“For that matter,” said Roy, “we might just as well go in from the float. The swimming’s just as good there as it is on the island.” But Harry raised instant protest.

“No, you mustn’t,” she declared. “That wouldn’t be fair. You must make believe that the island is away off from everywhere and that it takes days and days to get to the camp.”

“Of course,” laughed Roy. “Let me see, to-day’s Friday; we ought to get breakfast about Sunday, eh?”

“Dick will have it all eaten by then,” said Chub sadly.

“Oh, we’ve already been two days on the trip,” answered Harry merrily. “We’ll be there in a few minutes now.”

“Hooray!” Chub shouted. “Land ho!”

“Where away?” asked Roy.

“Two points off the bow paddle,” answered Chub. “And, say, I can smell that bacon!”

A moment later they were aground on Inner Beach and Roy helped Harry out on to the sand. At the stove Dick was busily transferring slices of crisp bacon and golden-brown eggs on to the tin plates.

“Good morning, Harry,” he shouted. “You’re just in time. Have a fried egg?”

“No,” answered Chub, “she isn’t hungry. She says I can have hers.”

“Oh, you fibber!” cried Harry. “I didn’t say anything of the kind, Dick! I’m so hungry—”

“That’s all right,” Dick replied. “No one ever believes Chub. Here you are, now; get busy. Pass your cups if you want coffee. Say, Roy, get the sugar, will you? I forgot it.”

“Oh, don’t we have the best things to eat!” sighed Harry presently.

“We sure do,” answered Roy. “Is there another egg there, Dickums?”

“Yes, there’s two each. Pass your plate.”

“I don’t want a second one,” Harry announced, “so some one can have it.”

“Thanks,” said Roy. “Much obliged, Harry.” Chub, who had opened his mouth, shut it again and looked disgustedly at Roy. He was silent a moment, while the others watched him amusedly, then:

“I know a good English conundrum about a lobster,” he announced gravely.

“All right,” said Dick. “Out with it; get it off your mind.”

“Why is Roy like a lobster?”

“Why is he a lobster, you mean, don’t you?”

“No, that’s beyond explaining. I mean why is he like a lobster?”

“Is there any known answer?” scoffed Roy, “or is it like most of your conundrums?”

“There’s a very excellent answer,” replied Chub with dignity, as he stole Dick’s slice of bread undetected. “The answer is: because he is selfish.”

“Selfish? I don’t see—” began Dick.

“Oh, shell-fish!” cried Harry. “Don’t you see? Selfish—shell-fish. That’s it, isn’t it, Chub?”

“Yes, that’s it; good, isn’t it?”

“About the poorest I ever heard,” said Roy. “Shell-fish!”

“It’s an English conundrum,” answered Chub, calmly.

“It sounds like one,” Dick agreed.

“Yes, if you drop the h it’s all right!”

“O-oh!” cried the others in chorus. Chub bowed modestly.

“I’d like another egg, please,” he said.

“Well, you don’t deserve it,” said Roy. “But I’ll give you Harry’s.”

“I’ll compromise on half.”

“Here, I’ll cook another,” said Dick, but Chub and Roy decided that half an egg would be all they could eat with comfort.

After breakfast it was decided that they were to walk around the island, or, in the words of Harry, explore their domain.

“I tell you what we ought to do,” said Roy. “We ought to make a map of it, showing all the bays and peninsulas and—and—”

“Rivers,” suggested Chub. “Who’s going to do it?”

“I will,” Roy answered. “Where can I get a piece of paper?”

“There’s a tablet in my suit case that I brought along to write letters on,” said Dick. “Will that do?”

“Have to,” Roy replied. “Can I find it?”

“Sure. Pull things out until you reach it. It’s there somewhere. Where’s Snip got to, Harry?”

“Oh, he’s around somewhere,” Chub answered. “I heard him barking like anything awhile ago. Probably he’s caught a bear.”

“Yes, a Teddy bear,” said Dick. “Here, Snip! Here, Snip!”

“I hope it’s a white one,” laughed Harry; “I like them better than the brown ones, don’t you?”

“Yes, the cinnamon gets up my nose,” Chub assured them. “Here he comes, with his tongue hanging out so far that he’s stepping on it! What did you find, Snipper-Snapper?”

“That’s not his name, Chub Eaton,” Harry remonstrated. “His name’s Darlingest Snip.”

“Well, come on, Darlingest Snip,” said Chub as Roy joined them; “but you must behave yourself and not kill any more bears. If you do you’ll be arrested for violation of the game laws of Fox Island.”

They set off along Inner Beach, pausing every minute or so while Roy made marks on the tablet.

“Of course,” he explained, apologetically, “this will be only a rough map, you know.” Chub sniffed but forebore to make any comment.

At Round Head, the big rock at the farther end of the beach, they sat down in the sunlight for awhile and allowed Roy to puzzle over his map. Then they followed the little well-worn path which skirts the shore under the trees past Turtle Cove, Turtle Point, and Round Harbor. This brought them to the upper end of the island where it terminates in a rocky point that breasts the water like the prow of a battle-ship. Roy originated the simile, and Chub remarked that it wasn’t the bow of a ship but the stern, and that the two little islets lying beyond were the battle-ship’s tenders in tow.

“We’re getting quite—quite poetical,” said Dick. “What’s the name of this point, Roy?”

Roy shook his head and looked questioningly at Chub.

“Don’t believe it has any name,” said the latter. “We’ve always called it just ‘the other end,’ or something like that.”

“Oh, let’s name it!” cried Harry.

“Point Torohadik,” Roy suggested.

“Point Harriet,” Chub corrected. Harry clapped her hands.

“Couldn’t we call it that?” she asked eagerly.

“That’s its name henceforth,” replied Chub solemnly. “And we ought really to change the names of those islands there to Snip and Methuselah!”

“I’m afraid we can’t do that,” laughed Roy. “They’ve been called Treasure Island and Far Island for years.”

“I tell you, though,” cried Chub. “The Grapes haven’t been named. There are eight of them. We’ll name those!”

They hurried past the point to where a cluster of tiny islets, the largest scarcely bigger than a barn door, lay just off the shore. A few of them held turf and bushes, but most were just barren lumps of rock and sand.

“Now,” said Chub, “the largest we will name Snip Island, the next largest Methuselah, the next Spot, the next—”

“Lady Gray!” prompted Harry.

“Lady Gray. Then comes—are there any more cats or kittens, Harry?”

“There’s Joe,” said Harry, somewhat reproachfully.

“Oh, yes, of course. Well, that’s Joe Island over there, the three-cornered one. Now what?”

“Well, there are the black rabbits,” Harry suggested.

“Just the thing!” said Roy. “There are three of them and there are just three islands left. I name thee—”

“Say, who’s officiating at this christening, anyhow?” asked Chub. “You run away and play, Mr. Porter. Now, the next island to Joe is Pete, the next Repeat, and the last one Threepete.”

“Referred to in the geographies as the Rabbit Group,” added Dick. “And now, if the ceremony is completed, we will move on to the next exhibit.”

They ran up the little slope of Hood’s Hill, where the three boys had awaited the boat-race, and then, like a celebrated army, ran down again. That brought them to Outer Beach, and they followed the edge of the water to Gull Point and from there on to Lookout, a small promontory dividing Outer Beach proper from the smaller crescent of sand known as Victory Cove. Then they were home again.

“Let’s see your old map,” said Chub, and when it was exhibited he laughed uproariously.

“Call that a map!” he shouted. “Why, say, Roy, that’s the diagram of a nightmare! Come and look, Dick.”

“You wait until I fix it up,” answered Roy, unruffled, thrusting it in his pocket to Dick’s disappointment. “It’s got to be drawn over again with ink.”

“Huh!” scoffed Chub. “The ink will turn pale when it sees that!”

They threw themselves down on the ground in the shade of the whispering birches, and Snip, who had wandered afield some moments before, came trotting into sight, his tongue hanging out, and subsided, very warm and happy, at Harry’s feet.

“He’s been at it again,” said Chub regretfully.

“At what?” Harry demanded.

“Killing bears. We won’t have any left on the island if you don’t stop him, Harry.”

“You’re very silly,” said Harry.

“Oh, very well,” was the response. “I’m not going to stay here and be insulted. Me for the water.” With a glance of contempt our hero turned upon his heel and strode haughtily away.

Chub tried turning on his heel, but as there was a root in the way he made rather a failure of it. But he had better success with the rest of the performance, for the look of haughtiness which he assumed sent the others into howls of laughter. Dick and Roy followed him into the tent and Harry and Snip wandered away along Inner Beach in search of blueberries. Presently there was a chorus of yells that sent the hair along the middle of Snip’s back pointing upward like the quills of the fretful porcupine and the three boys came tearing along the beach in their bathing-suits. As they came abreast of Harry and Snip Chub shouted:

“Last one in is a fool!”

There was a mighty thrashing of the water as the trio floundered through the first few yards and then three splashes almost simultaneous followed. In a moment they were all up, laughing and gasping, and calling to Harry to settle the question of who the fool was.

“Why,” said Harry, “you all went in at the same time, so you’re all three fools!”

“No sooner said than stung,” cried Chub. “Harry, if you’ll come nearer I’ll tell you a secret.”

“Yes, and throw water on me,” answered Harry shrewdly. “No thanks; I’m very comfortable where I am.”


Ch 6 illus--Harry's island.jpg

“They followed the edge of the water”


“I hate a suspicious person,” Chub grumbled. “That’s what I like about Dick. He’s never suspicious.” Whereupon Chub dived quickly and grabbed the unsuspicious one by the ankle and for a minute the water boiled as the two struggled together. At length Chub broke away and fled to the beach, and presently they were all out of the water and sunning themselves on the sloping surface of Round Head. Harry and Snip joined them, Snip hitting upon the enjoyable pastime of licking the boys’ faces as soon as they lay down and closed their eyes against the sunlight. This innocent diversion proved to be Snip’s undoing, for while he was operating on Dick, that youth, unable to stand the tickling sensation any longer, arose suddenly and toppled the luckless Snip over the edge of the rock into the water.

“Oh, he will drown!” wailed Harry.

But Snip came up coughing and choking and struck out bravely for the beach, and his anxious mistress reached him just in time to get well spattered as he emerged from the water and shook himself.

“I thought you said he could swim beautifully,” said Chub.

“Well, didn’t he?”

“Yes, but you were scared he’d drown. If you knew he could swim—”

“Of course I knew he could swim, but—but supposing a shark got him!” And she was quite incredulous when they assured her that there were no sharks that far up the Hudson. “You don’t know anything about it,” she said. “A shark could swim up here if he wanted to.”

“Oh, well, the only shark Snip need be afraid of is a dog-shark,” said Chub. “And they keep those muzzled.”

Presently, inaction beginning to pall on them, they started diving from the rock, Dick, who knew little about diving, cheerfully striving to duplicate every stunt shown by Roy and Chub and coming many a cropper in consequence. Then they had a foot-race up the beach which Chub won handily, and a broad-jumping contest which went to Roy.

“What time do we have dinner?” asked Chub, as he climbed back to the rock, panting.

“Any time; whenever we’re ready for it,” answered Roy.

“Well, I’m ready right now,” Chub assured him. “What time is it, do you suppose?”

“About a quarter of twelve,” replied Dick after a scrutiny of the sun and the shadows. “Let’s mosey back and get dressed. There are potatoes to get ready.”

“O-o-oh!” howled Chub.

“What’s the matter?” asked Harry anxiously.

“I hurt my wrist when I was jumping,” answered Chub.

“Badly? Did you sprain it?”

“Well, I don’t think it’s actually sprained,” answered Chub cautiously, “but it’s too badly hurt to allow me to hold a potato-knife.”

“Oh!” said Harry indignantly, as the others laughed. “I thought you meant it.”

“For that,” said Roy, “we’ll make him peel them all, eh, Dick?”

“Every last one,” replied Dick sternly. There was no answer from Chub for a moment. Then he observed casually, apparently addressing his remarks to Snip:

“I was reading somewhere the other day that the most healthful way in which to eat potatoes was with the bark on.”

“Bark!” ridiculed Harry.

“We had them that way last night,” said Dick. “To-day they’re to be peeled; and you’re going to peel them. So come along.”

“I wonder,” muttered Chub as he arose and followed the others along the beach, “why it is I always have to do most of the work. I suppose I’m too good-natured and obliging. Woe is me!”

Ten minutes later he was sitting cross-legged on the rock in the cove with a pan of potatoes beside him, peeling and whistling contentedly.

“How many have you got?” asked Dick, coming down for the butter.

“Plenty,” answered Chub cheerfully. “Let’s see, there’s one for you and one for Harry and a little one for Roy and a tiny one for Snip and four for me.”

“Two or three more will be enough,” said Dick. “But, for goodness sake, Chub, which are the potatoes and which are the peelings?”

“You run away,” answered Chub aggrievedly. “Those peelings are mere wafers. I’m celebrated for peeling potatoes.”

“Humph!” Dick grunted as he turned away.

“Humph yourself!” answered Chub, throwing a peeling at him. “Chub,” he continued, talking to himself, “this is a very ungrateful world. But you must make the best of it. Do your duty, Chub, and all will be well. Whereupon our hero, brushing aside the unmanly tears, applied himself with renewed vigor to his degrading task.” And Chub, working the potato-knife slowly, took up his whistling again.