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    Chapter 19

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    Chapter 20
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    A SQUALL ON THE LAKE

    "It's too bad we don't happen to have a motor boat up here," remarked Jack, as he and Fred bent to the oars of their rowboat.

    "You mustn't work too hard," came from Ruth.

    "I wasn't thinking of that," answered the oldest Rover boy quickly. "I was only thinking if we had a motor boat we could go farther."

    "They are going to have a motor boat or two at Colby Hall next Spring--I heard Colonel Colby speaking about it," put in Fred.

    "That will be very fine," remarked May. "I suppose you'll give us a ride once in a while?" she added, her eyes twinkling.

    "Sure!" responded the youngest Rover, quickly.

    "Hi--over there!" came from Andy, as he and his twin bent to the oars. "Want to race?"

    "Of course--if you'd like to!" responded Jack.

    "Oh, a race!" exclaimed Alice Strobell. "Won't that be fine!"

    "There won't be any danger, will there?" questioned Annie Larkins, anxiously.

    "No danger whatever, so long as we keep far enough apart," answered Randy. "And we'll do that, because we expect to leave them far behind."

    "Not much you won't leave us behind!" retorted Fred. And then he added: "Are you ready?"

    "Wait a minute until we have the young ladies seated just right," answered Andy. And then, turning to the two girls in the boat with him, he continued gaily: "Now sit right in the center of the boat, please; and be sure to have your hair parted exactly in the middle;" and at this both girls shrieked with laughter.

    With their passengers seated to their satisfaction, the four Rovers prepared for the race.

    "Where are we going to race to?" questioned Jack.

    "I don't know," answered Randy. "Can any of you tell me?" he went on, appealing to the pupils from Clearwater Hall.

    "You might race to the near end of Foxtail Island," suggested Ruth, and pointed to an island some distance down the lake.

    "That suits!" cried Jack.

    "The first one to reach the dock at the end of the island wins the race," announced May.

    "And what's the prize?" questioned Fred.

    "Oh, the prize will be the pleasure of rowing back," answered May, and at this little joke there was a general laugh.

    "Now please don't tip us overboard," pleaded Alice.

    "Nary a tip," answered Randy.

    "We're not looking for tips," broke in Andy, quickly. "We are going to do this free, gratis, for nothing," and at this pun there was another laugh. Then Jack gave the signal, and away the two rowboats started on the race.

    Of course, it was only a friendly affair, and none of the boys rowed as hard as he would have done in a regular contest. Nevertheless, each craft made good progress over the sparkling waters of the lake.

    "Oh, my! you certainly can row," remarked Ruth to Jack and Fred, as their craft drew ahead.

    "Oh, we're not warmed up yet," was Jack's reply.

    "We could do much better if we were in regular rowing togs," explained Fred.

    "Hi you! What do you mean by going ahead?" piped out Randy. "Come on, Andy, or they'll beat us."

    "Maybe they can beat a drum, but they can't beat us," cried Andy.

    And then he and his twin increased their strokes so that presently their boat was once more beside the other.

    The girls were as much interested as the boys in the impromptu race, and they soon began to shout words of encouragement.

    "Pull! pull! we're going to win!" cried May.

    "Not a bit of it! Our boat will get there first!" sang out Alice.

    "You can't beat us!" came from Annie.

    "He crows best who crows last," cried Ruth.

    "Right you are!" came pantingly from Jack; and then, as he saw the look of encouragement in Ruth's face, he redoubled his efforts. Fred did the same, and when they came into plain view of the tiny dock at the end of Foxtail Island their boat was two full lengths ahead of the other.

    "Hi you! What kind of a race is this, anyhow?" shouted out Andy, gaily. "Why don't you keep side by side and be sociable?"

    "Sour grapes!" roared Fred. "Here is where we win!" and in a moment more he and Jack sent their boat up to the side of the little dock. Almost immediately the second craft followed.

    "I think all of you did very well," remarked Ruth, consolingly.

    "Anyway, we came in a close second," remarked Randy.

    "We would have won if it hadn't been for one thing--just one thing," remarked Andy, solemnly.

    "Why, what was that?" questioned several of the others quickly.

    "That was the fact that the other boat"--Andy drew a deep breath--"came in first." At this the girls shrieked with laughter and the other boys set up a howl.

    "Pitch him into the lake!"

    "That's right! Give him a bath!"

    "A ducking will do him good--he needs to be cooled off!"

    "Not much! No bath for me!" cried Andy, quickly, and lost no time in leaping to the dock, where, in the exuberance of his spirits, he turned several handsprings, much to the amusement of the girls.

    "Is there anything worth seeing on this island?" questioned Jack, when the excitement of the race was over.

    "There isn't anything here that I know of," answered Ruth. "In the summer time people come here to picnic. There is a nice spring of water in the center of the island."

    "Let's go and get a drink," said Fred. "That race made me thirsty;" and off the whole party trooped to the spring.

    The young folks had a good time at the spring and in exploring the little island, which had a hill at one end covered with trees. They found some chestnuts and also a few hickory nuts, and these the boys opened for the girls' benefit.

    "I suppose we had better go on and finish the row," remarked Jack to Ruth, presently. "That is, unless you girls would rather wander through the woods."

    "Oh, it's nice enough here on the island," she answered. "Remember, you'll have quite a row back to the school and then to Colby Hall."

    "Oh, let's stay here for a while," put in Alice. "Maybe we'll be able to find more nuts."

    They hunted around, and presently discovered another large chestnut tree which was fairly loaded. The boys threw up sticks and stones, and brought down a big shower.

    "If I had known this, we might have brought along a pillowcase for the nuts," said Fred.

    "We can come back some day if we want to," returned Randy.

    Before leaving the island the young folks decided to go back to where the spring was located, so as to get another drink and also to wash their hands. On this trip, in speaking about the excitement at the moving picture theater, Randy chanced to mention Jennie Mason's name.

    "Jennie is a nice girl," answered Annie Larkins, to whom he was speaking, "but she does some things that I do not approve of. Do you know a cadet at your Hall named Napoleon Martell--I think they call him Nappy for short?"

    "Do we know him!" exclaimed Randy. "I should say we did!"

    "Oh! is that so?" Annie looked at him searchingly. "Is he a friend of yours?"

    "No; I can't say that he is. To tell you the truth, he doesn't like us at all."

    "If that's the case, I don't mind speaking to you about Jennie," went on the girl. "You know, Jennie comes from New York City. And down there she met Nappy Martell quite a few times, and they became well acquainted. But Jennie's folks don't approve of him at all; and they don't want her to go with him." And here Annie paused.

    "And do you mean to say she does go with him, anyhow?" queried the Rover boy.

    "Yes. She goes out to meet him whenever she can get the chance," was the reply. "You are sure you don't approve of him?"

    "Not in the least. In fact, to tell the truth, we have no use for him or the bunch he trains with."

    "I see. Well, all of us think it is perfectly dreadful the way Jennie accepts Martell's invitations. Of course, we don't want to tell on her, either in school or to her folks, and yet none of us think it is right."

    "Does he take her out much?"

    "Oh, as much as they dare to go. He takes her out sailing on the lake and to the moving picture shows, and once they went off together on a picnic to the Clearwater Country Club. The places were all right in themselves, but I know Jennie's folks don't want her to be seen in the company of Nappy Martell. He is so loud and forward."

    "You can't tell us anything about Martell being loud and forward," answered Randy, readily. "We all know him to be a regular bully. Besides that, when he isn't in uniform, he wears the loudest kind of clothes--just as if he wanted to make an exhibition of himself."

    "Jennie went out with him this afternoon," continued Annie. "Where they went to, I do not know. But I think they hired a motor boat and went across the lake."

    "Does Martell know how to run a motor boat?"

    "Oh, yes. He told Jennie that he owned a motor boat on the Hudson River--a boat his father gave him for a birthday present."

    Randy and the girl had dropped a little behind the others, who now waited for them to come up.

    "I think we had better be getting back," said Jack. "It isn't as clear as it was before, and it is beginning to blow."

    "Yes, we'll get back," returned Randy, with a look at the sky. He knew that a blow on the lake might be no trifling matter.

    On the way over to the island the sun had been clear and warm. Now, however, it was hidden under a dark bank of clouds, which were coming up quickly from the west. The wind was already blowing freely, and out on the bosom of the lake the water was roughing up in tiny ripples.

    "All aboard, everybody!" sang out Jack. And then turning to his cousins he added in a low voice: "We mustn't lose a minute of time in getting back. This blow is going to be a heavy one."

    The girls were soon seated in the rowboats, and then the four Rovers lost no time in casting off from the little dock and in starting to row towards Clearwater Hall. As they proceeded, the sky kept growing darker and darker while the wind grew stronger and stronger.

    "We're in for a squall all right enough," murmured Randy, as he and Andy bent to their oars with vigor.

    "Gee! I only hope we can reach the shore before it strikes us," was the response.

    "Row for all you're worth, boys!" sang out Jack from the other boat. "Bend to it just as if you were in a race!"

    And then he and Fred, as well as the twins, settled down to the task of trying to outrace the oncoming squall.
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