The Boy With the U. S. Life-Savers
by Francis Rolt-Wheeler
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"But I should think they would get blown off their stations every once in a while," suggested Eric.

"They do," said the other; "not very often, but they do."

"Then what happens?"

"They steam back to their station and lie to as near it as possible. At one time lightships used to be without any kind of propelling machinery, and sometimes they were driven ashore. That happened to a German lightship at the mouth of the Elbe, not so long ago, and all the crew were lost."

"The Columbia River lightship went adrift, too, I remember," said the boy; "they had to haul her back through the woods in order to get her floated again and taken to her station."

"Exactly," said his friend, "that was another case of a lightship not having her own steam. It's not only to enable a lightship keeping to her station, or running to safety in the event of being blown off her moorings, but you can see that in a severe storm, if a lightship can steam ahead into the eye of the wind, she can take a lot of the strain off her anchors. To tell you the truth, it's my private opinion that the Diamond Shoals Lightship will need to-night every pound of steam she can get. Look for'ard!"

The lieutenant pointed with his finger. The Miami, starting off to help the disabled steamer in trouble, had turned her stern to the easy anchorage and safe haven not more than two miles away, and was headed for the open sea. Still under the lee of Cape Fear, the force of the wind was greatly moderated and the sea was not more than ordinarily rough. But where the lieutenant pointed, it was easy to see that the storm was raging in its full fury. The waves were running high, their crests whipped into spray by the gusts.

"You're right, sir," Eric agreed, "we're in for it! And, what's more, here it comes now!"

Almost with the word the Miami got into the full reach of the storm, halted, gave a convulsive stagger, than plunged into the smother. For a minute or two no one on deck could have told what had happened. The shriek of the hurricane through her cordage, the harsh roaring of the tempest-whipped sea, and the vengeful boom of the waves as they threw their tons of water on the deck of the sturdy vessel made the senses reel.

But the engines of the Miami throbbed on steadily in defiance of the tempest's fury. The Coast Guard cutter, like every member of her crew, was picked for service, for stern and exalted service. Hurricanes might hurl their monstrous strength upon her, eager billows might snatch at her with their crushing gripe, shoals and reefs might hunger greedily with foam-flecked fangs, still the Miami plowed on through the storm. From realms unknown where the elements hold council of discord, the forces of destruction launched themselves upon her, but the white ship of rescue steadily steamed on, with her lights quietly burning and her officers and crew going about their duties in calm and perfect confidence.

Morning broke with that blue-gray veiling of the world in a covering of storm that sailors know so well. It was one of those mornings when the best of ships looks worn and drazzled. The Miami showed scars from her night's battle with the tempest. One of the starboard boats had been stove in, and the davits twisted with the force of a wave that had come aboard. Even the most rigid discipline and the most perfect order failed to make the little vessel trim. There was an "out all night" appearance to the cutter which told—more than great actual damage could have done—the dogged endurance of the vessel against the fury of wind and sea.

But, down in the engine-room, the unceasing metal fingers that are the children of men's brains throbbed steadily, and the screw of the little vessel drove her on to her work of rescue. On deck, the Coast Guard men, clear-eyed and determined, handled their day's routine with a sublime disregard of the dangers of the sea. Other vessels might scurry to safe harbors, but the Miami, flying the colors of Uncle Sam, set out on her mission to save, with never a moment's halting.

On the Miami drove. Presently, the crow's-nest lookout reported a steamer. She was one of the big West Indian liners, and she came reeling towards the cutter with lurchings that were alarming to behold. Only a certain quick jauntiness of recovery told the tale that she, too, was confident of her powers to weather the storm. She called by wireless that she had passed the disabled steamer Union two hours before, that the vessel was dragging her anchors and was in too shoal water for the liner to attempt a rescue.

"She's going to strike, sure," said Eric to his friend Homer, as the news of the message was received.

"And going right over the Diamond Shoals. How would you like to have charge of the Miami now, Eric?"

The boy looked thoughtful.

"A year or two ago," he answered, "when I was in the Academy, I'd have been tickled to death at the chance. Right now, when I think I know a bit more, I'm quite satisfied to have Keelson on the bridge. I notice the captain's been around a good bit, too."

"Our chief has been on the job below nearly all night, as well," Homer replied. "I'm thinking, Eric, that this is about as bad weather as any vessel can live through!"

On through the storm the Miami sped, her engine driving at its fullest speed despite the terrific strain put upon it when the vessel heaved her stern out of water and the screw raced madly with nothing to catch. On she sped, though her bow was pointed straight for the most treacherous shoals on the Atlantic coast, bars of avid quicksand, on which thousands of vessels had gone to swift and awful destruction. On toward the Diamond Shoals the cutter pierced her way, though the gray veil of driving spray hid everything a score of fathom before the vessel's bow.

"By the deep four!" called out the leadsman, as the water shallowed.

Eric felt an uncomfortable sensation at the pit of his stomach. Four fathoms! This was within a few feet of the bottom of the vessel. If she should strike!

But the first lieutenant, unperturbed, peered out into the grayness. The boy felt an overwhelming admiration of a man who could dare to take a ship over the worst piece of coast in all the broad Atlantic, in a driving hurricane, with never a landmark or a light to guide him, and hold his nerve cool and self-assured. The captain was on the bridge, but Eric noted that he never spoke to the first lieutenant. This, the boy thought, told even more the spirit of the Coast Guard. Each man had faith in the knowledge and skill of the other.

Into the very jaws of the breakers the little cutter sped, and, even while the boy was looking fearfully on every side of him to see the curling waves breaking on shoals not a hundred feet away, there appeared before them the wrecked and disabled steamer. Over the bars the vessel had pounded, her foretopmast had gone by the board, and she seemed in hopeless case.

So powerful was the gale that it had plucked the hapless steamer out of the jaws of the sucking sand, and flung her, like a plaything, into the breakers beyond. The Miami slowed down, her first pause in that awful race, which was ending in the maze of the Diamond Shoals, with waves breaking on every side and a hurricane whistling overhead.

It seemed even the most reckless foolhardiness to go on a fathom further, but the first lieutenant seemed to know the bottom as though it were a peaceful lane in a New England countryside, and after the Union, the Coast Guard cutter crept warily. Even the boatswain muttered under his breath,

"We'll never get out o' this!"

But, foot by foot, almost, the boy thought, step by step, the Miami overhauled the wrecked vessel.

Then from the long silence that had reigned on the bridge, suddenly issued a torrent of orders. The decks of the cutter seemed to bristle with men, as when Jason sowed the dragon's teeth. Eric, though quick and keen, had all he could do to fulfil the part of the work that was given him and set the crew at the lines of the breeches-buoy. Every man was on deck and every man was working with frantic haste.

In a fraction of time that seemed but a few seconds, a line was shot to the Union, made fast by her crew on board, the breeches-buoy was hauled out and the first of the men from the wreck was on the way to the Miami. All this had been done in the few minutes that passed while the cutter held herself within fifteen fathom of the schooner. Then the Miami dropped her anchor, to hold her place for the breeches-buoy.

Amid the scream of the gale in the rigging, and the pounding of the breakers on the shoals, the men worked like fiends. Never did ropes slip more quickly through their hands, never did sailors work more feverishly. But, in spite of this wild and furious striving, it was evident that the Miami dare not hold her place. The Union evidently had lost one of her anchors, and the other was not holding in the sand. Every few seconds she dragged, and, in order to prevent the breeches-buoy tackle from being suddenly broken, the Miami had to pay out cable to keep in bearing. Each fathom of chain slipped brought her that much nearer to the shoal.

There were thirty men in the Union's crew and every man had been brought aboard but the captain, when the Coast Guard cutter reached the edge of the shoal. One minute more would mean success.

At that instant, a savage gust came hurtling in from sea, as though the hurricane was bound to claim at least one victim. The captain of the steamer had just thrust one leg through the breeches-buoy and the Miami's men, with a cheer, had started to haul him inboard, when that gust struck the wrecked vessel. It keeled her over, snapping the line of the breeches-buoy like a whip, and the captain of the steamer was jerked out into the sea.

Absolutely without thinking of what he did, reverting for the instant back to the old volunteer life-saving work, when every man went on his own initiative, Eric tore off coat, trousers, and shoes, snatched a life-belt, and plunged into the boiling breakers.

At the same second, before even his plunge was noted, the Miami slipped her cable entirely, leaving chain and anchor as booty to the Diamond Shoals and clawed away from the sandbar, not more than twenty feet from her bow.

Eric, keyed to a wild and excited perception, saw the captain of the steamer in the water, a few feet away, and swam to him. He found him conscious but unable to swim, the jerk from the breeches-buoy having twisted a sinew in his thigh.

It was a half a mile to land, and the breakers rose all round them. With a blind intuition the boy struck out for shore. He knew it was no use trying to reach the ship. How long he struggled he scarcely knew, but the Union's captain, though in pain and crippled, was able to use his arms in swimming and, for a few minutes, from time to time, relieved the boy.

It seemed that hours passed. The chill of failure began to creep into Eric's spirits. No longer he swam with energy, but with desperation. The hand of the steamer's captain on his shoulder grew heavier and heavier. Spots danced before his eyes.

Suddenly his comrade spoke.

"A little further, lad," he said, "a little further. They've seen us!"

And, like a great white angel on the water, the power surf-boat of the Cape Hatteras Coast Guard station came flying through the surf upon them. The two branches of the Coast Guard had combined to snatch from the graveyard of the deep its full-expected prey.




Illustrations from photographs taken in work for U. S. Government

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The Adventures of Two Boy Scouts on the Minnesota Frontier


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This story was written by a prominent educator to satisfy the insistent demand of active boys for an "Indian Story," as well as to help them to understand what even the young endured in the making of our country. The story is based on the last desperate stand of the brave and warlike Sioux tribes against the resistless tide of white men's civilization, the thrilling scenes of which were enacted on the Minnesota frontier in the early days of the Civil War.

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Here is an up-to-date story presenting American boarding-school life and modern athletics. Football is an important feature, but it is a story of character formation in which athletics play an important part.

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Three fine, manly comrades, respectively captains of the football, baseball, and track and field athletic teams, make a compact to support each other so that they may achieve a "great year" of triple victory over their traditional rival, "Hillbury."


The "Cup" is an annual prize given by a club of Yale alumni to the member of the Senior class of each of several preparatory schools "who best combines proficiency in athletics with good standing in his studies."


At the close of his first year in college Dick Melvin is induced to earn a passage to Europe by helping on a cattle steamer. The work is not so bad, but Dick finds ample use for the vigor, self control, and quick wit in emergency which he has gained from football.


The Pecks are twin brothers so resembling each other that it was almost impossible to tell them apart, a fact which the roguish lads made the most of in a typical summer camp for boys.


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Five close friends in the freshman class at St. Dunstan's school, and a teacher of the best sort, plan for a summer vacation in camp in Maine. They adopt the name which gives the title to the book, and having gone to Boston by water, complete their journey on foot, with plenty of adventures along the way.


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Baltimore Sun.

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Louise and her three brothers are the "Four Gordons," and the story relates their experiences at home and school during the absence of their parents for a winter in Italy. There is plenty of fun and frolic, with skating, coasting, dancing, and a jolly Christmas visit. The conversation is bright and natural, the book presents no improbable situations, its atmosphere is one of refinement, and it has the merit of depicting simple and wholesome comradeship between boys and girls.

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Transcriber's Note: The following typographical errors present in the original text have been corrected for this electronic edition.

On the copyright page, "Norwood Perss" has been changed to "Norwood Press".

In Chapter II, a missing period was added after "I don't claim to be amphibious, exactly".

In the illustration captioned "Sliding Down to Work", "Lighthhouse-builders" was changed to "Lighthouse-builders".

In Chapter III, "holdin on to him" was changed to "holdin' on to him", and "sixteeen per cent" was changed to "sixteen per cent".

In Chapter IV, a comma was changed to a period following "rousted out the crew".

In Chapter V, "come to live" was changed to "come to life".

In Chapter VIII, "overwhemed by an avalanche" was changed to "overwhelmed by an avalanche".

In Chapter X, "As the Miama neared her" was changed to "As the Miami neared her".

In Chapter XI, "were sent abroad" was changed to "were sent aboard".


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