Frank Armstrong, Drop Kicker

DiscoverSports & FitnessFrank Armstrong, Drop Kicker
Frank Armstrong, Drop Kicker

Author

Matthew M. Colton

About this book

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Contents (23)

CHAPTER I. A NEW ENTERPRISE.
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CHAPTER II. FAILURE AND A PROVIDENTIAL RESCUE.
CHAPTER III. QUEEN'S TRANSPORTATION COMPANY.
CHAPTER IV. BURTON'S ARRIVAL.
CHAPTER V. THE WATER CARNIVAL.
CHAPTER VI. AN OLD RIVAL'S STRATAGEM.
CHAPTER VII. COALS OF FIRE.
CHAPTER VIII. A SWIM FOR LIFE.
CHAPTER IX. SAVED.
CHAPTER X. PROFITS OF QUEEN'S FERRY.
CHAPTER XI. THE HAZERS' WATERLOO.
CHAPTER XII. CLASS NINES.
CHAPTER XIII. FRANK'S FOOTBALL EDUCATION.
CHAPTER XIV. THE TELEGRAPH COMPANY.
CHAPTER XV. FRANK TAKEN TO WARWICK.
CHAPTER XVI. THE WARWICK GAME.
CHAPTER XVII. FRANK SAVES THE GAME.
CHAPTER XVIII. MRS. BOWSER'S CAT.
CHAPTER XIX. IN THE BELL TOWER.
CHAPTER XX. A HEAVY PENALTY.
CHAPTER XXI. GAMMA'S DESPERATE TACTICS.
CHAPTER XXII. SAVED BY THE WIRES.
CHAPTER XXIII. END OF GAMMA TAU.

CHAPTER I. A NEW ENTERPRISE.

Frank Armstrong, Drop Kicker

CHAPTER I.A NEW ENTERPRISE.

On a certain warm afternoon in the early part of July any one passing along the main street of the little summer resort of Seawall might have observed, had he chanced to glance seaward, a trim sloop riding easily at anchor, her milk-white mainsail swaying idly in the scarce-moving breeze. The water was like glass, excepting that here and there it was wrinkled for a moment by a puff of wind which passed instantly, leaving the mirror-like surface as before. Midway of the sloop's cockpit sat the Ancient Mariner himself, nodding. His back was braced against the gunwale and his pipe hung on his chest—a gentle-looking old man with a long, grizzled beard, taking his siesta as even Nature seemed to be taking hers that afternoon. His toil-worn hand hung over the gunwale, and, had one been near enough, the old man might have been heard to snore softly.

A quarter of a mile up the bay there appeared three black specks in the water. They might have been corks merely, but as they came steadily along you could have imagined them to be seals. They came nearer, swimming noiselessly, scarcely making a ripple. Now they were right alongside the sloop. Two of the seals, or whatever the dark forms were, glued themselves close under the sweep of the stern. The third swam cautiously toward the outstretched hand of the Ancient Mariner, and tweaked one of the fingers which hung within reach of any fish that might be bold enough to try a bite at the tempting morsel. Instantly the Ancient was in motion and the "seal" disappeared below the surface in a twinkling.

"Shiver my bloomin' timbers, what was that?" yelled the Mariner as he jumped to his feet. "Some ding-busted dog-fish trying to make a meal?" and he reached for his pike-pole to do execution to the attacking dog-fish.

At this burst from the Ancient there came from under the stern an answering burst of laughter. Another and still another joyful chuckle followed, and in an instant there bobbed up three heads to the astonished gaze of the occupant of the boat.

"You young rapscallions, so it wasn't a dog-fish after all," said the Ancient. And then, rubbing his eyes, he looked again. "Bust my bulkhead, if it isn't little Frank Armstrong!"

"Surest thing you know, Captain Silas," shouted Frank, treading water and keeping his hands going at the same time with a fin-like motion that held him out of the water to his shoulders. "Come on out, Jimmy; come out, Lewis; no use hiding now."

"Well, I swan!" was all Captain Silas could say, for it was indeed the old captain himself. "What are you doin' away out here in the bay? You're worse nor a parcel of fish."

"Oh, Captain," cried Jimmy Turner, shooting out from the boat on his back and splashing water in Lewis Carroll's face, "we expected to have a lot of fun, but this galoot of a Lewis had to snigger out loud, and that spoiled everything."

"You sniggered yourself," retorted Lewis.

"We couldn't help it," said Frank. "Did it scare you much, Captain?"

"Well, I reckon it wouldn't have scared me so much if I hadn't been dreaming I was hauling in a big sword-fish, and just as I was going to grab him with my gaff, up he jumps and grabs my hand. I give such a jump that I near fell out the other side o' the boat."

The boys laughed again and splashed water.

"Come on into the boat," said the captain, grinning at the joke that had been played on him. "Come on in and let's see how you look," and he held out a gnarled hand to Frank, who seized it and was soon over the side. Jimmy followed easily, but it took two of them to get Lewis aboard, who, in spite of all his athletic endeavors, continued to grow more like an ordinary washtub every day. But finally, after much tugging, they landed Lewis safely. The three swimmers sat and dripped water over Captain Silas' seats.

"Must have come into a fortune, Captain," exclaimed Frank, looking over the trim boat and aloft at the white sail, which was now swinging a little more widely with the land breeze.

"Oh, no," was the reply. "Couldn't make much outen my old fishing job, so I took my little nest-egg outen the bank and put it in this here boat."

"Going pirating?" inquired Jimmy.

"Not 'xactly that, kinder social piratin' maybe. I carry the city swells that want to go fer a sail. It pays better nor lobsters."

"Just a different kind of lobster, eh?" broke in Lewis.

"I take parties out for sails at twenty-five cents the head," continued the captain, not noticing the interruption by Lewis, "but it's been bad business these last two or three days, not a breeze big enuff to blow a han'kerchief. So I was havin' a snooze when you fellers give me such a start," and the old man grinned pleasantly. "But it's breezin' up a bit now and maybe we can have a sail before the sun goes down. Want to come?"

"You bet we do!" was the simultaneous response of the three, who had scattered themselves comfortably around on the little deck forward with their faces up to the blue sky.

"Hadn't you better go and git some clothes on your backs? You'll freeze to death in them there skinny little bathing suits of yours."

"Oh, no, we'll be as warm as toast. See, our suits are nearly dry. We've put in most of the time these last two weeks in these rigs and we're used to it," said Frank.

The breeze was picking up every minute, and the captain, casting an eye to the pier end without seeing any prospective passengers, and apparently nothing loth to have back with him again the three spirited youngsters, began to pull up his anchor and make ready. In this the boys helped, and soon the sloop was heading off down the bay careening to the freshening breeze.

"Gee whiz!" sighed Jimmy, prone on his back and stretched out like a star-fish, arms and legs extended, "but this beats school all hollow."

"And what ye been doin' at school? Learnin' your lessons, I s'pose?" said the captain, who had heard the remark. "S'pose your heads are just crammed full of knowledge, eh?"

"Not exactly that," replied Frank, grinning. "There are a lot of blank spaces in my cranium that haven't been touched yet. But Lewis is fearfully educated."

"Yes," added Jimmy jokingly, "he's what they call a high-stand man."

"Wouldn't think it," said the old man, scrutinizing Lewis closely. "I'd say he was a wide-stand man," still looking Lewis over critically. Frank and Jimmy laughed heartily at this, and the captain joined in when it was explained to him that this particular kind of stand had nothing to do with the physique.

"I say, Captain," said Frank, coming down from the deck to where Captain Brown sat at the tiller, "can't we do something to help you run the ship?"

"She don't need no running mor'n she's doin' now. All you got to do is just keep 'er steddy, same's I'm doin' now. You're not big enuff to steer. I'm 'fraid she'd wallop ye all about in a heavy sea."

"Oh, I don't mean sailing her; I'm not much on that. But couldn't we help with the passengers? Couldn't we put up the gangplank or put it down or whatever you do with it?" continued Frank. "We are three husky fellows, and we want to do something to keep in training."

"Trainin', what fer?" said the old man.

"Oh, just training for football. We want to be ready for the fall and have our muscles hard and our wind good."

"Yes," broke in Lewis, "we are going to be on the football team this fall up at Queen's School. Frank is going to be drop kicker, and I——"

"Oh, ho," laughed Jimmy from his place up in the bow-sprit, where he had just stretched himself full length, face downward, with his legs coiled about the timber to keep himself from rolling into the sea, "did you hear Lewis say 'we'? Lewis has to keep in condition, so please, Captain, give him some heavy work to do; let him spank the spinnaker and reef the anchor and splice the jib-boom."

"I could do any of them," said Lewis, throwing out his chest; and the captain chuckled.

"I tell you," he said, "we can let Lewis dust the mains'l; that would give him good exercise. But leavin' jokin' behind, ef ye want somethin' to do, why don't you get a motor boat and take out people for little runs among the islands here, same as I do? Lots o' people want to go quicker nor I can go, but I wouldn't touch one of the pesky things."

"By jiminy!" exclaimed Frank, "that's an idea!"

"Yes, and where's your motor boat coming from?" said Jimmy. "Motor boats cost something, and I don't see any good, kind gentleman coming around handing us one."

"We might hire one," said Lewis, "and pay the rent from our profits. If we had luck we might be able to buy her by fall."

"Yes, and a house and lot and two yachts," said Jimmy, who was skeptical about the plan.

"Guess I know where you boys might pick up one cheap," broke in the captain, as he dexterously swung the boat over on the starboard tack and headed her up the bay. "Old man Simpkins has a motor boat he hasn't used for mor'n a year. It's layin' hitched up to his wharf down Turner's Point way."

"Oh, I know who he is," said Frank. "Lives in that big house by the pine grove a little way this side of the Point."

"That's the feller," said the captain. "Has a little girl, all kinder crippled up with some disease or other. Comes down to sail with me two or three times a week. Had a son at college who died of fever or something. It was his boat. That's the reason the boat's never used, I guess; old gentleman don't care for it no more."

"Great whippoorwills, but there's our chance!" said Frank. "Jimmy, get over your pessimism and think up some scheme for renting that boat. Why, man," as Jimmy just grinned, "there's millions in it. We'll organize a company."

"I'll be with you on condition that you'll let me steer it," said Jimmy. "You can be captain if you want to."

"All right, my son, you may, and I'll take care of the motor," said Frank. "That's a job for the best man."

"And what am I to be?" said Lewis. "Can't I be skipper, or something like that?"

"You'll be the ballast," said Jimmy, grinning from his perch on the bow-sprit. He had turned over on his back now and was balancing precariously, one toe hooked in a coil of rope at the foot of the mast being his only anchorage from a bath in the cool green sea racing along a couple of feet below him.

"We are talking as if we had the boat in commission already. But 'nothing venture, nothing have,' as the old saying goes. I'm going down to-morrow to see Mr. Simpkins and try my powers of persuasion on him."

"Beware of the dog," warned Jimmy.

"Dog or no dog, I'm going to try."

"What's this navigation company going to be called?" inquired Lewis.

"The name will be the 'Queen's Ferry,'" said Frank.

"Sounds like an old English romance, but it's good," commented Jimmy; "the Queen's Ferry, Armstrong, Captain, Carroll, first mate——"

"I don't want to be first mate," corrected Lewis. "I want to be a skipper."

"Well, if you want to have such a lively name go ahead and take it. If skipper means anything speedy, you've got the most terrifically misplaced confidence in yourself I ever saw,—but if you must, you must, so you are to be the skipper."

"And James Turner will be first mate and helmsman," said Frank.

"Aye, aye, sir," came the response.

"Now, that being done, we've got to have an agent to drum up our business, to see that the great and waiting public may know that at last in Seawall there is a proper conveyance; a guide and courier, a kind of advertising man who will present our magnificent possibilities in transportation."

The three boys looked at each other.

"The Codfish!" they shouted in chorus.

"The Codfish is the man. And he's coming to visit me in a week," added Frank.

"Too long to wait," said Jimmy, shaking his head. "We are losing profits every minute. Let's telegraph him to come now. 'Do it now'—or before—is my motto."

"Good!" said Frank; "we'll telegraph to-night and offer him the job. Let's see, this is Thursday; we ought to begin our trips Monday. Yes, Monday's the best day to begin anything on. We might get started on Saturday if the Codfish comes right away."

"Did you kids ever hear tell of countin' chickens before they was hatched?" broke in the voice of Captain Silas. "You haint got the boat yit," and the old man chuckled. "But that's the way youth do run on. And then how about drivin' poor old Captain Silas Brown out of bisness with one o' them fast motor boats?"

"Oh, Captain, do you think it would hurt your trade? We wouldn't do it for the world. We'll give it up. I didn't think of that," cried the generous boys in a breath.

"Go along with you, 'twon't hurt me. I was only jokin'. There'll be more than we all can do and I'm a thinkin' you'll get tired of it pretty quick. I'll help you all I can to git hold of the old boat, but don't ever ask me to go to sea in one o' the consarned things. 'Member what happened to your old boat last year?"

The boys looked at each other.

"You bet we do!" they exclaimed in a breath.

"But there are to be no matches aboard any boats I command in the future," cried Frank.

"Well, here we are back again," said the captain, as he brought the Seagull, for such was her name, up into the wind. "I'll take you off in my dinghy in a minnit."

"Thank you, Captain, for a fine sail and a brilliant idea, and we won't bother you to take us off; we have our fins," said Frank. "See you later," and one after the other the boys popped into the water like so many porpoises, and, led by Frank, swimming a graceful and easy overhand, they went ploughing up the beach in the direction of the Armstrong cottage.

"Water rats, nuthin' but derned water rats," said the old man, as his kindly eye followed the three swimmers pulling rapidly away towards the shore.