"I reckon yo' is wrong, Mr. Lindstrom," said the sheriff, turning to the brother of the wounded man. "Ef the weather records goes as read, this hyar's a powerful bit of evidence. Look at them shoes!"
"I'm satisfied," the other remarked gloomily, "I reckon the boy's right. But I'd have sworn that it was him I saw. All right, Sheriff, I'll withdraw the charge."
"Let him go, Bill," said the sheriff, nodding to his assistant. "That's a mighty narrow escape fo' yo' nigger," he continued, "I thought it was yo' myself, for sho'."
For a moment Dan'l did not understand. Then it flashed over him.
"Ah's free! Ah's free!" he cried, and fell on his knees on the floor.
IN THE WHIRL OF A TORNADO
The success of the Weather Forecasts which had been put out in the weekly Review and the saving of Jed Tighe's crop had given the League a high standing among the farmers of the neighborhood, but when the story became noised abroad how Anton had saved Dan'l from unjust arrest, every darky in the neighborhood became its devoted slave.
Dan'l himself racked his brains for some way to show his appreciation, but none occurred to him. He could not be any more faithful and loyal than he had been in the past. A dozen plans occurred to him, all to be set aside as useless. He wanted to do something that really would help the League. What was there that he could do? As in all cases of difficulty, he decided to go to blind Mammy for advice. The conference in the old fortune-teller's cabin was a long one, but when Dan'l came out, he carried a huge bundle in his arms and his black face shone with triumph.
As spring advanced, kite-flying resumed its former sway among the boys and Tom's place became again a centre of attraction. Assiduous as he had been before, Dan'l had redoubled his attentions, and he was seldom found far distant from Anton's side. One Saturday, however, he did not appear at the kite-ground until well on in the afternoon, and when he did come, he was carrying something big in his arms, and stepping along as gingerly as if the burden were a baby.
"What on earth have you got there, Dan'l?" asked Tom.
"Ah done got somethin' fo' the League," the darky answered, and, coming up to the midst of the group, which was gathered around the kite-reel, he lowered the burden gently, very gently, to the ground.
"What is it?" asked Anton.
Dan'l looked around. There was triumph in his glance. He was evidently very proud of himself.
"Ah's made a discovery," he said. "Mistah Fred, yo'-all wants to take notes of what I say, so's yo' can print it in the Review."
To humor the old darky, the editor-in-chief took out his pencil and note-book and waited for the story.
"Ah was down in ol' Mammy Lee's cabin the other day," he began, "becase Ah wanted to talk to Mammy about somethin'."
"Went to have your fortune told, I suppose," put in Tom.
"No, Mistah Tom, no, Ah done hold with no tellin' of fortunes, but Mammy she knows a heap an' can see more with her eyes shut than most folks with them open. It was a mighty hot day an' the sun was a shinin' hot. Ef it hadn't been that the sun was a shinin' so hot, Ah wouldn't have this story to tell yo'."
He paused for effect and the boys drew closer. Dan'l was a famous story-teller and his tales were always popular among the boys.
"Ah was standing in Mammy's cabin," he continued. "She was a sittin' in her old rockin' chair in the sun right near that little table where she keeps the big glass ball for tellin' fortunes."
"You mean her crystal?" put in the Forecaster.
"Yas, suh, Mistah Levin, her crystal. Mammy has two, the little one, what she uses all the time an' the big one, which she doesn't use no mo'. Ah was a sittin' on the other side o' the table, right by the window, an' my hand was on the table. By and by, Ah felt my hand burnin' as though some one had laid a match on it. Ah pulled away my hand but thar wa'n't nothin' thar. Ah thought it queer, but Ah didn't say nothin' and went on talkin'. By and by, leanin' forward to say some thin' mo' to Mammy, Ah put my hand on the table again, an' suddenly, the back of my hand began to burn as if de devil was standin' on it.
"Ah looked, an' Ah looked again, but thar wasn't nothin' thar but jes' a spot o' sunshine, jes' so bright. An'it sho' was burning hot. Ah took my hand away an' looked at the table. Yas, suh, it was burnin' hot. It's an ol' table and in a sort o' ring jes' exactly the same shape as the ring o' white stones that Mistah Anton put round his sun clock, thar was a burned groove in the table. No wonder my hand got hot. If Ah'd have left it there, there'd have been a hole burned right through my hand. Yas, suh.
"Ah spoke to Mammy about it, and Mammy she says to me that in summer time, when it's very hot, she has to throw a cloth over the crystal to keep it from settin' the table on fire. In winter and in cloudy weather thar ain't no heat at all. So Ah says to myself:
"'Dan'l, if a bright sun burns the table and a half-bright day scorches the table an' a dull day don't do nothin' to the table, why couldn't some kind o' record be made o' the amount o' sunshine? Mistah Anton, he likes most everythin' like that, an' Ah'm goin' to talk to him about it."
"But you never did, Dan'l," put in Anton, not giving much belief to the darky's story.
"Ah 'sperimented all by myself first," Dan'l answered. "Ah took a piece of cardboard, the shiny kind, an' I cut out a piece like the shape of the new moon an' laid it on Mammy's table. Sho's yo' born, Mist' Anton, that spot of light from the crystal jes' started to scorch that cardboard. When the sun was bright it burned it a real dark brown, when thar was a cloud over the sun, it didn't burn it at all. When the sun had a little cloud it jes' burned that cardboard a light brown. Ah'll show yo'."
He pulled from inside his shirt a piece of cardboard. It was marked with the hours of the day and, as he had said, in places it had been burned dark brown and in others a light brown. At one spot, there was about an inch where the cardboard was perfectly white, and opposite this, Dan'l had got his son to write in sprawling letters, "Cloud here."
The cardboard passed quickly from hand to hand.
"But this is great!" cried Fred. "I wonder if Mammy wouldn't keep a regular record for us!"
With a pompous air, Dan'l stretched out his hand and made a clean sweep around him. Then he reached down for the package at his feet and commenced unwrapping from around it the newspapers in which it was hidden. As, with a flourish, he pulled away the last piece of paper, there was a gasp of admiration from all the boys.
There, on the ground before them, was the huge globe of crystal, clear, shining and flawless.
"How did you get it, Dan'l?" cried the boys.
"Ah bought it," the darky replied. "Leastways, a lot of us got together an' bought it fo' a present to the League. Deacon Brown he arranged it all, when Mistah Levin said to us that the crystal would really work right."
"Mr. Levin!" cried Anton. "Then you've known all about this, and never told us!"
"It was Dan'l's secret," the Forecaster answered. "Do you suppose I'd rob him of the fun of telling you? He's right. Dan'l's worked out, all by himself, the principle of the Campbell-Stokes sunshine recorder, and I think there's a lot of credit coming to him."
Anton leaned down and tried to pick up the globe, but it was too heavy for him. Monroe raised it for examination. It was a beautiful crystal, almost two feet in diameter and without a scratch.
"What a corker!" cried Tom.
"Where will you put it, boys?" asked the Forecaster.
There was a moment's pause and then Bob said:
"Yes," the Forecaster agreed, "I think that's best, because I know Dan'l really would like to see it a part of Anton's outfit. Besides, boys, Anton's going to do some work this summer on sunshine measuring and the relation of sun-spots to the weather, and he'll need a recorder just like this."
"Have sun-spots anything to do with the weather, sir?" asked Ross, in surprise.
"Yes," the Forecaster answered, "it seems quite possible that they have, though to what extent we don't quite know. There's a big field of original work, there, and we've only just found out about it. It's rather a pitiful story, boys, but the man who blazed the trail to that new knowledge, died just two months before the world knew about him."
"Who was that, sir?" asked Anton.
"Veeder," was the answer. "Dr. Major Albert Veeder, who lived and died, an almost unknown country doctor in the little town of Lyons, N. Y. Without any money of his own, he worked hard on meteorology, especially studying auroras and sun-spots. More than any man who ever lived, he tried to show to what an extent the weather of the earth is modified by changes in the sun, chiefly by intensifying the pressure of the anticyclonic areas.
"Now, boys, for the discovery.
"In January, 1916, one of the best-known American meteorologists sent to a brother scientist a postal card which called attention to a recently published article which appeared to be of a good deal of importance. By a curious coincidence, the other scientist had that very day been reading an article published twenty years before in an obscure local scientific magazine, written by Dr. Veeder.
"The two meteorologists, struck by the originality of the ideas and the evidence of the vast amount of work that lay behind them, wrote to Dr. Veeder at his home in the little New York State town. The recognition that had so long been delayed was on its way. A black-bordered letter came in reply. Dr. Veeder had died two months before!"
A sharp indrawing of the breath told of the boys' interest.
"Dr. Veeder's family at once forwarded the papers, published and unpublished, of the unknown country doctor. These revealed that, as early as twenty years before his death, he had made discoveries of vast importance to meteorology and astronomy. He wrote time and again to the Weather Bureau, begging us to give his hypothesis a trial."
"And didn't you?" asked Fred.
The Forecaster shook his head.
"We couldn't," he answered. "We had no funds for special research and Dr. Veeder's ideas were so far ahead of his time that, then, they seemed visionary. Now, twenty years later, when a great deal of similar work has been done in Europe and in this country, we see that Dr. Veeder was a real pioneer, although, of course, many of his conclusions are still doubtful. Yet, in poverty, in discouragement, in the turmoil of a busy life, he continued his work for fifteen years, then reluctantly abandoned it, despairing of support and opportunity. Yet he leaves a debt that science can never repay. Such men may be everywhere; one of you boys may be the meteorologist of the coming generation. Veeder may be dead but his work lives after him."
The Weather expert picked up the great glass crystal which Monroe had replaced upon the ground.
"We will go on with Veeder's work ourselves," he repeated, "so far as we can. Veeder showed us that sun-spots and changes in the sun are closely followed by changes on the earth, and he suggested that this is caused by some agency other than heat. From that we shall go on. Let us do some sun-study. It is symbolic, to me, that a crystal once used for the superstition of crystal-gazing, should become a tool for scientific research."
He raised the crystal to shoulder height.
"Here's to Veeder!" he shouted. "And to Dan'l!"
The cheers were given with a vim.
Interesting as the work of the League had been to the boys during its first summer, when all were learning of the ways to read the weather, this second summer became tenfold more exciting, when every lad realized that he was part of a group striving to advance along the lines laid down by Veeder. The money which Jed Tighe handed over to the League as its fair share of having saved his fruit crop, was spent in the purchase of a telescope for studying the sun and for various other scientific instruments, and, as the Forecaster had foretold, Issaquena County began to take its place as one of the most efficiently organized meteorological regions of the United States.
The summer was passing on. The year and a half that had elapsed since the flood, a year and a half of constant association with the Forecaster, and still more, of constant association with work that was worth while, had developed the boys of the League and given them a new grip on life.
One Saturday, Ross came over early in the morning to help Anton with some of his sunshine experiment work. The crippled lad had definitely settled down to the study of meteorology and spent all his time either at his instruments or at his books. Under the Forecaster's teaching, he was becoming thoroughly proficient, and the fact that the lad was a natural-born mathematician stood him in a good stead. He was no longer merely a crippled lad, with scarcely a chance before him, he was making a place for himself in the community and there was no doubt that he would make a place for himself in life. This morning, as Anton came out of the club-house to meet his friend, Ross looked at him and thought how wisely the Forecaster had done in suggesting the formation of the League.
"Bad weather coming, isn't there, Anton?" Ross asked, as they strolled into the club-house together.
"Thunderstorms, I expect," the other answered, glancing carelessly at the Weather map. "There's a big 'low' over Illinois, with colder weather coming."
"I'm glad it's going to be cool," said Ross, mopping his forehead, "to-day is something fierce."
"Yes, it's hot," agreed Anton, and turned the subject to some of his recent work on sun-spots and the weather. He had become an absolute convert to Dr. Veeder's theories, and the dream of the boy's life was to be able to take a part in the most fascinating of all weather problems—long-range forecasting.
"It would be great, Ross," he said, "if we could tell a year in advance what kind of weather we were going to have, so that farmers would know exactly just what kind of crops to plant and when!"
"Yes," Ross agreed, but uneasily, for he was watching the sky steadily, "but do you think we'll ever be able to do it?"
"I don't think we'll ever be able to tell exactly," replied Anton, "but I'm sure the time's coming when we're going to be able to get a general idea. If we can just find out enough about the sun's influence on our weather and enough about the big changes in the sun, we ought to be able to foretell something. There's no doubt that weather does go in cycles."
"I don't see that," said Ross. "I think it's changing all the time. You always hear people say that the winters aren't nearly as cold as they used to be."
"That's all bosh," Anton declared. "Mr. Levin and I were talking over that just the other day. There hasn't been any change of weather. The winters to-day average the same that they did fifty years ago. There's some sort of an eleven-year cycle in rainfall, and there's a variation in temperature that seems to swing around about once in every thirty-seven or thirty-eight years, but the differences are so small that only Weather Bureau records can prove them. The weather isn't any hotter or any colder than it used to be, it's just about the same."
But Ross was not listening. His eyes were fixed on the horizon.
"Anton," he said, "I wish you'd come here a minute."
Struck by his companion's tone, the younger lad looked up and, grasping his crutch, limped to the door. He took a glance at the sky and whistled in a low and thoughtful way.
"Look at those clouds to the north-west," said Ross. Then, pointing to the south-west quarter, "And look at them there!"
Anton looked, his eyes dilating. In the north-west, swarthy, curling wreaths of vapor that seemed as though they rose from a monstrous burning straw-stack writhed their way upward to a great height, the upper portion seeming to tremble threateningly, as though there were a shaking fist within the swirl, hidden by clouds. The column was smoky and threatening, yet a whitish light came from beneath it suggesting phosphorescent vapors.
To the south-west were clouds of a different character, darker and more compact. They were not blacker than many clouds preceding a heavy rainstorm, but they had an uneasy motion. From these came no whitish phosphorescent light; instead, there was a greenish glitter, like a snake's eyes seen in the dark. There was something evil and sinister about them. The air was reverberant, sounds could be heard to a great distance. The farm animals were unquiet and moved restlessly. Anton wiped the perspiration from his forehead with the back of his hand. He glanced up at the weather-vane.
"It ought to pass to the east of us," he said.
Ross also looked at the weather-vane, and then at the advancing cloud. He knew that nearly all such storms traveled to the north-east.
"It may pass us," he said, "but sometimes they swing north."
"I know it," Anton answered, and fell silent, watching the coming of the storm.
In the distance a faint moaning was heard.
The two huge cloud masses from the two quarters of the sky, as though advancing to give battle, hurled themselves toward each other, the whitish cloud of the north-west towering above the sinister black cloud of the south-west. For a moment, almost as if they paused, a strip of blue sky could be seen between them, then with a sudden rush, the two collided. So solid seemed the masses of the clouds that both boys started, expecting a clap of thunder. Yet never a flash of lightning appeared nor was there any sound.
In the whirl of the two meeting clouds there was a minute of confusion, and then, slowly, a long funnel, like a black finger, began to reach towards the earth.
Both boys saw it at the same time.
"A tornado!" cried Anton.
"Let's get to the cellar!" cried Ross, and started to run, but Anton grasped him by the shoulder.
"No," he said, "we're safe here; it'll pass to the east over the farm lands and won't hit anybody."
In a few seconds Ross saw that the crippled lad was right, and, themselves safe, the boys watched the passing of the tornado.
"It's going about thirty miles an hour," said Anton, figuring rapidly, "and it's all of fifteen miles away. There won't be much left of it by the time it passes here. We don't need to worry."
Reassured, Ross turned to his companion, and asked:
"What makes tornadoes, Anton?"
"A quick current of warm air going up in a thunderhead cloud," he said, "which takes a spinning motion from the general whirl of the cyclone to which it belongs. It has a whirling vortex, from the outside to the inside, and its speed gets higher toward the middle. The speed of the inside of a tornado has never been figured out, but it has been estimated at eight hundred miles an hour, or sixteen times as fast as a train."
"Eight hundred miles an hour!" Ross repeated. "But how did they find that out?"
"Not by any instrument," said Anton; "there isn't anything made that a tornado wouldn't level to the ground. But you can figure that from the size and weight of objects lifted and from the effects of tornadoes. Anyhow, the inside of a tornado is like a vacuum, the pressure is so low.
"I remember reading in a tornado account of a storm in New England where the funnel passed within twenty yards of a house. It was exactly as if a house filled with air were suddenly plunged into a vacuum. All the windows were blown out, the walls bulged, furniture flew out of the windows and corks were drawn from empty bottles by the air inside trying to get out to fill the vacuum in the tornado."
"That's a wonder," ejaculated Ross. "But we're not going to get anything like that this time."
As the boys were talking, the distant tornado suddenly raised itself from the ground and seemed to be drawn up in the clouds again. The danger from the funnel was over. A few minutes afterwards, there came a clap of thunder and the rain commenced to fall in torrents. It rained for less than a minute, however, then was followed by a few hailstones as large as walnuts. The hail stopped as suddenly as it had begun.
Yet, though the funnel cloud had been withdrawn again into the sky, though the rain and hail had ceased, the two boys did not move from the doorway of the club-house. The sky was pressing down heavily and in the masses of clouds that seemed to be moving in every direction, the whitish luminous cloud and the greenish black cloud could both be traced. This was no puny battle of the elements, but a veritable war.
Then, absolutely without warning, as suddenly as though some malevolent demon had picked them out for destruction, from the low-lying bank of clouds that was advancing, a long black swaying clutch thrust at them from the clouds. For a second or two the funnel swayed as though there were eyes in its tip and then snatched at the earth with a roar and crash like a thousand trains in collision.
While one could count three, the lads watched, panic-stricken, then Anton shouted:
"Run north-west, Ross! North-west!"
Like a flash the Forecaster's advice in the event of the approach of a tornado recurred to the boy's mind, and he sprang into a full run. Ten yards, perhaps, he ran, then cast a glance over his shoulder to see if Anton were following. He saw the younger lad huddling down by the south-western corner of the club-house.
Ross colored with shame. For one second he had forgotten Anton's crippled condition.
He whirled on his heel with a speed scarcely less than that of the approaching tornado and darted back for his friend. A dozen strides took him back and he reached down for the younger lad.
As he did so, with the corner of his eye, he saw the tornado touch a neighbor's barn. The moaning suddenly swelled into a vicious and snapping roar. The point of the tornado enlarged, as it became filled with the debris of the barn, and Ross fancied he could hear the squealing of the mangled horses.
Out from the upper part of the wild whirl, high in the sky, a black spot flew. Thrown at a tangent, it fell, growing larger and more bat-like as it fluttered down, striking the earth with a crash. It was the roof of the barn.
All this had happened in the fraction of a second that had elapsed while Ross was picking up the crippled lad, and by the time that he had flung him across his shoulder, the tornado had passed over the neighbor's farm and there was nothing left of the barn but a black bare spot. Before the out-flung roof had struck the ground, Ross was running from the track of the swiftly-moving destruction, with his chum on his shoulder.
The boy knew well that in ninety seconds or less, the tornado would be upon them, and while it swayed with a malicious eagerness from one side to the other, as though seeking for its prey, there was no doubt that it was rushing straight at them.
Second by second, the moaning grew louder, with an uncanny sucking sound as though the monster were licking its lips over the destruction yet to come. The air grew more oppressive and more still.
Twenty yards from the club-house, Ross found Dan'l crouching on the ground, quivering with fright.
"Mistah Anton, Mistah Anton," he cried, "we's all goin' to be killed!"
"Run, Dan'l!" cried Ross, as he sped past. "Run north-west! Follow us!"
White with terror, the aged negro rose and started to run, but before he had gone two yards, his steps slowed down.
"Thar's Mammy," he said, aloud. "Ah can't leave Mammy, nohow. Thar's no one to look after her."
He turned back with unsteady steps, hurrying towards the negro quarters, almost facing the approaching finger that seemed to point at him as he ran.
Ross never looked back. His terror and the terrific heat of the air choked his breathing and he gasped as he ran.
A sudden swirl of air clutched at his feet. He stumbled and almost fell. The crippled boy's crutch slipped to the ground. Anton slid to the earth and a second swirl picked Ross's feet from under him and threw him to the ground.
Then, with a roar and a confusion which stunned the senses, the Thing struck! A legion of hands tugged at them. The earth rose up in a cloud of dust around them.
Towards them the tornado swerved, then away, just a fraction out of its course, and swung back again towards them. As in a dream, Ross saw the crutch, which had slipped out of Anton's grasp, not five yards from where they lay, move restlessly, then, touched by an unseen hand, rise up. While two heart-beats lasted, the crutch stood still and perfectly upright, and then flew straight upwards into the all-devouring maw.
The black-green fury snatched at the waiting world.
With a roar like that of crashing universes, it swept by the boys and swung into the farm building. A hay-stack disappeared into the vortex like a puff of smoke. With a crash of glass, the tornado swept by the corner of the house, and with one wild last shriek was gone.
Gasping, Ross sat up. Across the fields the cloud swept, the long black finger still touching the ground and still bringing wreck and destruction in its wake. Ross gently raised the younger boy, who was only half-conscious from the din and tumult, for the tornado had passed within a few yards of them. They had scarcely walked a dozen yards when the scene of destruction met them full view.
Every window in the house had been shattered and the garden was strewn with broken glass. The buggy, which had been standing before the door, was nowhere to be seen, but one wheel impaled in a tree twenty yards away, told the story. The upright of the sun-dial was gone, snapped off at the ground as though it had been a reed. The club-house remained intact. The track of the tornado was not more than forty feet wide, but where it had passed, the ground was swept clean and bare.
Only one thing remained, and that, by one of the freaks of the tornado, was the pedestal and the large globe of crystal. It had not even been fastened down; it had passed through the centre of the tornado and yet it stood there as unwinking as the sun itself. Stood there all by itself, sharply gleaming against the black ground—
What was that lying on the farther side of it?
"Go back, Anton, go back!" said Ross, hoarsely.
But Anton had seen it, too.
He shook his head.
Haltingly, step by step, the two boys advanced, Anton's hand on Ross's shoulder, to the figure lying on the ground beyond the sun-dial, motionless and oh, so still.
Behind the fast-flying clouds the sun shone out, shone clear and strong on the crystal, standing on its pedestal, and the gleam, passing through, fell full on the face of the man.
"Dan'l! Dan'l!" the crippled lad cried, and dropped to the ground beside him.
He was not hurt. He would never be hurt any more.
Ross looked down at the faithful old darky, who, despite his terror and in the teeth of certain death, had turned back to try to save the aged blind woman in the negro quarters. The tornado had dealt kindly with him. His ragged clothing fluttered in the wind, but his kind old face was peaceful.
The sunlight, gleaming through the crystal, made a halo of light around the negro's head.
"Don't!" said Ross, laying his hand on Anton's shoulder. "There's mighty few of us that'll ever get the chance to die like Dan'l."
THE TRAIL OF THE HURRICANE
"Two o'clock, Tuesday morning, August the seventeenth, Nineteen Hundred and Fifteen!
"Slowly down and across the white, faintly ruled paper wrapped about the revolving drum, I watched the long-shanked, awkward pen of the barograph in our Weather Bureau station at Galveston. In the jerky, scrawling fashion of a child writing his first copy on a slate, I saw the pen gradually draw what looked like a rough profile map—a long declining plateau, a steep and then a steeper slope, a jagged ugly valley—
"The valley of the shadow of death!"
The boys clustered closer round the speaker, the man who had seen and lived through, the Galveston hurricane.
"We knew well, the three of us in the Weather Bureau," he went on, "that descending zig-zag line meant that the hurricane, then beginning to rage over our heads, would increase in fury and in ruin, until the other wall of that strangely-drawn valley should begin to form under the halting pen. Thus we watched and waited.
"'Read the wind velocity,' my chief said to me.
"I focused a glass on the recorder, holding a lantern in my other hand.
"'Ninety miles an hour, sir,' I said.
"'It'll be a good deal more than that,' he answered. 'I only hope we don't have a repetition of 1900.'"
"That was the worst ever, wasn't it, sir?" asked Anton.
"It was the most destructive storm that the United States ever saw," the Galveston weather observer answered, "but, as a storm, it wasn't nearly as violent as the one we've just been through."
The speaker, who had his arm in a sling and who was still frail and weak from the injuries he had received during the hurricane, looked round at the boys. Being the Forecaster's nephew, he had come to his uncle's house to recuperate and the work of the League had fired his imagination.
"Tell them of the 1900 storm first," said the Forecaster.
"You tell them, Uncle," his nephew replied; "you remember that better than I do, and then I'll tell the boys my adventures in last week's storm."
"Yes," put in Fred, "you tell us, Mr. Levin."
"Very well," said the founder of the League, and he began:
"I suppose, measured by the loss of life and property, the Galveston hurricane of 1900 was the worst catastrophe that wind and water has ever brought to America. On Galveston Island alone, over six thousand people were killed, and five thousand more in the inland coast country. The ruin and loss of life was caused by a storm wave, which swept in from the Gulf in advance of the hurricane's vortex. This wave, four feet in depth, struck the already submerged island with almost irresistible force and entirely destroyed the city for ten blocks inland. Over five hundred city blocks were ravaged and two hundred blocks were laid level to the ground. Three thousand three hundred and thirty-six houses were destroyed."
"Where did it begin, sir?" asked Anton. "In the West Indies?"
"Undoubtedly," the Forecaster answered, "but, unlike last week's storm, we knew very little about it, before it came. Three days before the hurricane struck Galveston, storm warnings were hoisted, although, at that time, advices from Cuba showed that it had developed but little force. By the next afternoon it was beginning to wake up to true hurricane strength and the steamer Louisiana almost foundered in the middle of the Gulf.
"In Galveston, our barometer commenced falling that afternoon, and by next morning the situation began to look serious. The barometer was still falling steadily and high cirrus clouds of the mares'-tails variety, that always run in advance of the hurricane, were clearly marked.
"That afternoon over the waters of the Gulf came the long low swell, each wave one to five minutes apart, which is the sure sign of trouble. Though the wind was from the north and north-west, the swell from the south-east steadily increased and the tide began to rise. Before mid-night, the Weather Bureau had sent warnings to the newspapers to urge special precautions for the next day, as a rising tide and possible hurricane threatened disaster. At breakfast, the next morning, every one in Galveston read these warnings, none too soon, for at nine o'clock, the edge of the storm struck the city.
"The wind was steadily rising, and shifting by gusts at five minute intervals, until one o'clock in the afternoon, when it reached storm velocity. After that, it began to increase in fury. Every subscriber of the telephone company was warned personally from the Weather Bureau. Hundreds of people who could not be reached by telephone besieged the Weather Bureau, seeking advice. Dr. Cline, the chief of the station, who had been directing all precautionary measures since five o'clock in the morning, went to his home for lunch at half-past three o'clock that historic afternoon. The wind was then blowing fifty miles an hour.
"'I reached home,' wrote Dr. Cline, 'and found the water around my residence waist-deep. At once, I went to work assisting people, who were not securely located, into my residence, which, being large and very strongly built, I thought could weather wind and tide. About 6:30 P. M., one of the other weather observers, who had been on duty since the previous midnight, reached my residence, where he found the water neck deep. He informed me that the barometer had fallen below 29.00, that no further messages could be got off to Washington, or anywhere else, as all the wires were down, and that he had advised every one whom he could see, to go to the center of the city; also, he thought that we had better make an attempt in this direction.
"'The roofs of houses and timbers, however, were flying through the streets as if they were paper, and it appeared suicidal to attempt a journey through the flying timbers. Just at this time, the anemometer in the Weather Bureau office registered one hundred miles an hour and blew away soon after. In the next hour the wind rose to a velocity of one hundred and twenty miles an hour. Many people were killed by flying timbers, about this time, while endeavoring to escape to town.
"'The water rose at a steady rate from 3 P. M., until about 7:30 P. M., when there was a sudden rise of four feet in as many seconds. (Hundreds of people, undoubtedly, were killed and drowned during those four seconds.) I was standing at my front door, which was partly open, watching the water, which was flowing with great rapidity from east to west. The water at this time was about eight inches deep in my residence, and the sudden rise of four feet brought it to my neck before I could change my position. The tide rose in the next hour nearly five feet additional, making a total tide in that locality of about twenty feet.
"'By 8 P. M. a number of houses had drifted up and lodged to the east and south-east of my residence, and these, with the force of the waves, acted as a battering ram against which it was impossible for any building to stand for any length of time. At 8:30 P. M. my residence went down, with about fifty persons who had sought it for safety, and all but eighteen were hurled into eternity. Among the lost was my wife, who never rose above the water after the wreck of the building.
"'I was nearly drowned and became unconscious, but recovered through being crushed by the timbers and found myself clinging to my youngest child, who had gone down with myself and my wife. Mr. J. L. Cline joined me five minutes later with my other two children, and together with a woman and child whom we had picked up from the raging waters, we drifted for three hours, landing three hundred yards from where we started. There were two hours that we did not see a house or any person, and from the swell we inferred that we were drifting to sea, which, in view of the north-east wind that then was blowing, was more than probable. During the last hour that we were drifting, which was with south-east and south winds, the wreckage on which we were floating knocked several residences to pieces. When we landed about 11:30 P. M. by climbing over floating debris, the water had fallen four feet. It continued falling, and on the following morning the Gulf was nearly normal.
"'While we were drifting, we had to protect ourselves from flying timbers by holding planks between us and the wind, and with this protection we were frequently knocked great distances. Many persons were killed on top of the drifting debris by flying timbers, after they had successfully escaped from their wrecked homes. In order to keep on the top of the floating masses of wrecked buildings, one had to be constantly on the look-out and continually climbing from drift to drift. Hundreds of people had similar experiences.'
"Fearful as was the disaster," the Forecaster continued, "it would have been incalculably worse had it not been for the Weather Bureau warnings. Hundreds of people were saved by retiring to the upper portion of the town during the afternoon of the hurricane and no amount of foreknowledge could have told the sudden four-foot rise in the Gulf. Galveston learned her lesson, too, as was shown in the recent hurricane."
"I don't understand those hurricanes a bit," declared Fred, "they don't seem to act like tornadoes, and instead of coming from the west, like all the rest of our weather, they come up from the south-east. How is that, Mr. Levin?"
"The West Indian Hurricanes," the Forecaster replied, "are storms which are also called tropical 'cyclones' and which in the China Sea are known as 'typhoons,' and the fearful stories that one has read of the typhoon in the China seas applies equally to the hurricanes that strike our Gulf coasts.
"Like all other tropical cyclones, the West Indian Hurricanes are formed by an upward rising current of air over a moist heated area. There are five cradles of such storms. One is over the Pacific ocean south-east of Asia and gives the coast of China, the Philippine Islands and Japan the typhoon. A second and a third are in the north and the south parts of the Indian Ocean. A fourth, which is less frequent, is found east of Australia.
"The cradle of the West Indian Hurricanes is in the North Atlantic, about six to eight degrees north of the equator and from two hundred to a thousand miles east of the West Indies. These hurricanes, when first seen, are quite small but they increase in size and in motion as they come westward. Most of them, when they reach the Lesser Antilles—where Uncle Sam's new islands lie, the Virgin Islands—also increase in whirlwind character, and turn northwestward, skirting the northern edge of Porto Rico. This is the mean track. About seventy-five per cent of them pass over a regular storm trail between Bermuda and Charleston, most of these coming close to the coast and sweeping circularly away from the land at Cape Hatteras. At the latitude of New York, the curve has taken them half way round the circle and they disappear as violent westerly gales, though beginning as easterly hurricanes.
"As you will have noticed, nearly all these storms come in the autumn. That is because the cradle of the hurricane is the doldrums, and in August and September, the Atlantic doldrums are at their furthest north. The Chinese typhoons are most frequent in the same months of the year, from the same cause."
"And this last one, sir," Tom asked, "the one that blew down my anemometer last week and which smashed up the old windmill, was it just like the hurricane of 1900?"
"I think I'll let my nephew tell you about that," was the reply; "he was in the thick of it, and the people of Galveston gave him a medal for bravery in connection with it, so he ought to be the one to speak."
"Gee, did you get a medal!" exclaimed Fred. "Do let's have a look at it."
The young weather observer shook his head.
"I haven't got it with me," he said, a little embarrassed. "But if you chaps want to hear about the Hurricane, I guess, perhaps, I can do that." He smiled. "I don't know that I've anything quite as thrilling as Dr. Cline's drift to sea, but one really astonishing thing did happen. I'll tell you about it."
"Tell us the whole thing," said Anton, "how the storm started and when you first got hold of it and what you did, and why they gave you the medals and—oh, everything!"
"All right," the young observer answered, and nursing his broken arm with his other hand, he began:
"We first heard about the hurricane on the morning of August 10th, where it had been seen between the islands of Barbados and Dominica. A little before ten o'clock that morning, storm warnings were sent to all West Indian stations. It came as a good deal of a surprise to us at Galveston because there had been none of the signs which usually go before a bad tropical disturbance. At two o'clock in the afternoon of that day, notice of the approach of a storm was sent to all Atlantic and Gulf stations of the Weather Bureau and the report was sent out by the wireless naval station at Arlington, Virginia.
"On the morning of the eleventh, the storm was south of the island of St. Croix, with a hurricane strength wind of sixty miles an hour at Porto Rico. On the twelfth, it was central off Haiti, and by the next morning was ravaging Jamaica. Hurricane warnings were sent out by the Bureau for Key West and Miami. On the fourteenth, the hurricane was central off the Isle of Pines, Cuba, and on the fifteenth, was central in the Gulf, gathering force steadily. All vessels were urged to remain in port. As a result of this warning, shipping scheduled to sail and valued at forty-five million dollars remained in harbor until after the hurricane had passed. Had they sailed, few of these ships would have lived. Hurricane warnings were ordered as far west as Brownsville, Texas. On Monday, August 16th, the storm approached the coast, and, in our office in Galveston, its menace began to make itself felt.
"Over the glassy surface of the Gulf there came a long, low swell, smooth and deep, the waves several minutes apart. Those who saw the swell remembered the disaster of fifteen years before, when eleven thousand lives were lost. True, the great sea-wall had since been built to protect the town, but would it stand? Man against the hurricane—which would win?
"In the sky, which was a weak, watery blue, appeared the ice-plumes of the cirro-stratus clouds, the true mares'-tails, flung out across the vault, their ends stretching to the centre of the storm. At the horizon, a wicked, dull glare gave threat of the typhoon's approach. All as yet was soundless, only the far-flung clouds told of the fury which was hurling them ahead of the circling hurricane below.
"Then! A low, whirring whistle of the wind. Not like the moan of an approaching tornado is this wind, but like the high-pitched note of an engine running smoothly at high speed. Characteristic and peculiar, boys, is that heralding wind, with a throbbing note in its character. That day, too, came the white squalls, lasting a minute or two each, with puffs of furious wind and a bucketful of rain, like bombs fired in advance of the hurricane by some huge aeolian howitzer. Steadily the whir of the advancing wind became louder, steady, without gusts, and more and more frequent became the white squalls.
"Up, up and ever up came the sea, forced by the iron hand of the grim wind-tyrant behind. The swells came faster and the tide rose. Against the sea-wall the billows fell back, baffled, but, inch by inch, the waters of the Gulf rose against the city. Man's hereditary enemy, the Ocean, prepared itself for attack. Inch by inch the water gained, wound its sinuous way through the channel in the bay, backed into nook and cove and, long before the storm came, swirled a foot deep over land which never before in the city's history had been under water, even in the great storm of 1900.
"All day long, since midnight of the day before, three of us, up in the Weather Bureau, kept watch by our instruments, at the telegraph wire and the telephone. We had the men of Galveston to deal with, men who were not afraid of danger, men who knew well what the word 'hurricane' meant. All through that day an army was organized, an army of men that rested neither for food nor sleep, warning those who were in the path of danger, leading the women and children to safety, carrying the old and sick upon their shoulders from regions where death was threatening.
"Our chief, at the Weather Office, summoned volunteers with motor-cycles and these men went to every corner of the city with the news of the approaching disaster. Through the streets rode these Paul Reveres, carrying the cry of the warning, and on that Sunday not one house in the entire city of Galveston was left unwarned. The city had lost six thousand lives in the hurricane of 1900. It was not to be caught napping a second time.
"At Seabrook, Texas, across the bay, Professor Stearns, a co-operative observer, personally visited every house in that section on Sunday, the fifteenth, and again on Monday. Before the hurricane, eighty-eight houses stood there; after the hurricane, there were three. Yet every one was saved, except two people, who had laughed at the weather warnings.
"Steadily the sea rose, all day Monday, and equally steadily the wind increased. The Fire Department joined in the work of protection. The police joined in the work of saving. As yet the hurricane had not come, but, through the Weather Bureau warnings, no one was allowed to pass into a fool's paradise of security.
"The summer evening came on with the whistling whir of the wind changing its note to an angry rage. In our little office at the top of the building, it looked as though we should be blown away. But there was too much to do for any man to leave. Still, had it not been for the thoughtfulness of one friend, none of us would have had anything to eat. We did not have a let-up of any kind for fifty-six hours.
"A wall of water swept towards the island, and before it became too dark to observe, in the early twilight one could see the wind-lashed waters of the bay begin to heap themselves into broken and irregular waves, each striving to overtop the other in their plunge upon the city. They broke, indeed, into the back door of the city, and then, with a suddenness that seemed to rock the very foundations of the earth, the wind struck us, in three nerve-racking blasts.
"With the savagery of the elements at their worst, the registering-pen of the anemometer in our office began to write its message. Raging in fury, the tempest leaped to eighty miles an hour, to a hundred miles an hour, to a hundred and twenty miles an hour. The air in the middle of a hurricane is estimated to have the weight of half a million ocean liners and four hundred and seventy-three million horsepower. Imagine a weight of several billion tons being hurled with five hundred million horsepower at a speed of two miles a minute! That, boys, was the storm that plucked at our little office in the sky, and that was the force which picked up the billows of the sea and hurled them at the seawall built by the hands of Man.
"At the signal given by the titanic winds, the waves drove in from the gulf and from the bay and smashed into a thousand pieces the houses of the lower section of the city. But the wind and the waves found nothing on which to wreak their vengeance except the empty shells of houses. Without our warnings, thousands of people would have been there and thousands of lives lost. But the hurricane was foiled of its prey, because of the writing of the little instruments at the top of the Weather Bureau tower.
"When the storm was at its height, our anemometer blew away. When she went, the wind was howling cheerfully along at seventy-five miles an hour. The chap who was with me, a plucky fellow, suggested that we should go up on the roof and put up a new one. I thought myself that if we went up there, we'd be carried off like a couple of straws. But I wasn't going to have him think that I was scared. So up we went. My word, boys, but it was blowing! We worked for half an hour when the gale got under my coat and blew it open like a sail. In a fraction of a second I was being driven breathless to the parapet.
"Through the storm I heard a faint voice crying:
"'Take it off!'
"I tore the coat off and it flew up in the air like a crow, but it was almost too late. I was thrown against the parapet like a bullet. My shirt-sleeve tore and flew to ribbons, and I became conscious that my arm was hurting horribly. I fought my way back against the wind over to the roof and helped the other chap with the anemometer, which had nearly been erected when the wind caught me, and we got down the trap-door to the office of the Bureau. Then I keeled over. My arm was broken. My partner fixed it up as best he could."
"And you went on working?" asked Fred.
"Naturally," the young observer answered. "I wasn't going to give in just because of a broken arm. Besides, there was work to do, work worth doing.
"Far out to sea, meanwhile, was occurring one of the strangest stories of the sea. The annals of the ocean hold many thrilling escapes, but none, perhaps, more startling than that of the stranding of the three-masted schooner Allison Doura, which passed through the eye of the Galveston hurricane. Obed Quayle, a Cape Cod sailor who was one of the men on board, told me the story.
"'We were six days out of Progresso, Mexico,' he said, 'with a cargo of bales of sisal. The weather had been fair, with a goodish bit of head winds, but we reckoned to make Mobile on Sunday, the fifteenth. On Friday the weather began to look dirty and there was a long rollin' swell from the eastward that I thought was going to yank the booms out of her.
"'At eight bells of the second watch, the wind shifted, and any one could see with half an eye that there was trouble brewin'. The sea smelt of a storm. We made everything snug alow and aloft, put in double reefs and lay by.
"'At two bells of the afternoon watch, the gale struck us, and it struck us hard. Captain Evans Wood, the skipper, a mighty good seaman, handled the craft well, but our foretopmast was snapped right out before the gale had been on us an hour.
"'The jib-boom, too, went with the crash and the nasty mess of timber and shrouds, floatin' to leeward, began to hammer at our hull in an ugly fashion. A couple of us got at the wreckage as best we could, but before we had cut it adrift, the Allison Doura had sprung a leak and four of us went to the pumps.
"'While we were workin' at the wreckage of the foremast, the schooner was pooped and the wheel was carried away. Bill Higgins, a young fellow who was at the wheel, was swept against the rail and had his head split open.
"'I've seen some bad weather in my time, but never just in that way. With the mizzen boom we rigged up a fore jury-mast and made shift to hoist a storm staysail to give us steerin' way and rigged up a tiller for steerin'. The wind was whistling like all possessed. It was askin' more than any vessel had a right to stand, and around midnight the fore staysail was blown clean out of the bolt ropes and she lost steerage way again. We couldn't hold her to the wind.
"'With losin' steerage way so much and without bein' able to hold her up to the wind at all, we couldn't run out of the storm. The gale drove us in and in to the centre of the hurricane. Somewhere around dawn on Sunday mornin' the wind decided to show us what it really could do. We were runnin' before the wind with a triple-reefed mainsail and not another stitch. "Why weren't we under bare poles," you asks? Because there was a sea chasin' after us with every wave looking like a whale out of water. We weren't lookin' to get pooped, any more than we had to. The mainmast went with a crash.
"'That left it nasty. The mizzen-mast, bein' the only one left standin', took her down by the stern and the waves runnin' along behind slapped us in the quarters good and proper. The skipper he give us orders to cut away the mizzen-mast, to lighten her.
"'It didn't take much cuttin' neither. The axes hadn't more than gotten through one of the weather shrouds, when the gale took the mast and chucked it over the side. That left us with the fore jury-mast that we'd rigged up, but not a stitch of canvas. The ship was as naked as a nigger baby in the Cannibal Islands.
"'We did our best with it, of course, and dug up a stretch of storm canvas about the size of a leg-o'-mutton sail and lashed that to the jury foremast and the stump of the bowsprit. With that gale cuttin' off our ears, it was all the sail she could carry. Bill, we had him lashed near the tiller we'd rigged up, not havin' a wheel, and by-n-by, most of us was wishin' we was lashed. But the old hooker stood up under it well, and though she was buried nearly all the time, her nose came right out of the green.
"'We'd have done anything in the world to beat north-east, for we knew the hurricane was goin' to the north-westward, but we couldn't do anything but run before the wind in our crippled state and the wind was blowin' north-east. It was shifting northerly and then westerly and we all knew that we were bein' driven into the very middle of the storm. The gale grew fiercer and fiercer, the sea was lashed to a mass of foam and in the shriekin' of the hurricane we couldn't tell, half the time, whether we were under water or above it.
"'Bill, with his broken head, stayed put at the tiller, the skipper never went below, Cookie tried to get some grub and the other four of us were lashed to the pumps. It was rainin' in torrents, too, but that didn't make any difference, for there was so much water that you couldn't tell whether it was the waves or the spray or the rain that was drownin' you; all we knew was that we were gaspin' for breath in an atmosphere that seemed about half air and half water.
"'Then, quite suddenly, the wind died down, and the rain fell from the sky as though the sea had been picked up and were bein' tilted over the ship. The clouds, racin' by and so low that they seemed almost as if you could reach up and touch them, flew overhead so fast that you couldn't believe it was a real sky you were lookin' at. It seemed like a painted piece of metal driving across the sky on an aeroplane. It fairly made me giddy to watch them. The winds died down, and suddenly became quite calm.
"'I've seen some seas, too, in my time, but never nothin' like this. Waves, no matter how high, I've been used to all my life. I've seen seas over the banks of Newfoundland that would look like a mountain, but waves like those in the eye of the hurricane I never saw before and I never hope to see again. They came from the east and the west, from the north and from the south. They met in the middle and struck each other, making whirlpools that set the schooner spinnin', they rose up and fought against each other, they swerved and leaped and jumped. One end of the schooner was yanked this way and a wave would come along and yank it to the other, cross currents pitched her nose down, and while her bow was down, another would slap her in the stern.
"'We was all lashed to the pump wheels. We were bruised and battered and sore. I never thought we'd get out of it. And, steadily, while lyin' almost without enough wind to fill our one small sail, we were pitched and tossed and shaken as a terrier shakes a rat. How the timbers of the ship ever held together, I don't know. We sprung another leak and while, before, we had been able to have ten minutes' spell in every hour, now we not only had to keep pumping steadily, but we had to keep those handles going at a swingin' pace. Cookie came and gave us a hand at the pumps and started some of the old chanties. The sun came out and shone clear above us and all the clouds disappeared. You might have thought it was a warm, mild day in summer, only for the orange-colored ring all round the sky and that boiling spot of a sea. We went on pumpin'.
"'It got so quiet in the eye of the hurricane that I felt as if I wanted to scream, and when Cookie stopped singin' for five minutes, I could see the glare of madness comin' into the men's eyes. For all I know, it may have been in my own. Bill was the first to go. He dropped the tiller and came shriekin' along the deck with his sheath knife, yellin' for the wind to begin again. The skipper drew a revolver, ready to shoot him if necessary. But I saw Bill was comin' for me, and before he could reach me with his knife, I got him one in the right on the point of the jaw. One of the other men went to the tiller, while Cookie and the skipper lashed Bill fast to the stump of one of the masts, standin' him upright, so that when he came to, he wouldn't be able to hurt any one.
"'The other men at the pumps began to talk wildly. We hadn't no water. Our deck-casks had been carried away, with all our boats and everything movable, and we couldn't get at the tanks below, because we couldn't open the hatches. They was battened tight and if you so much as lifted a corner of the tarpaulin, the whole Gulf of Mexico would tumble in and there would be the end of us.
"'One of the chaps, however, insisted on scoopin' up with his hands the briny water that flowed from the pumps. It was mixed with bilge water and smelt horribly. He went mad, too. But we couldn't afford to lose any man's work and we lashed his hands to the pump handle. He went mad in a happy fashion and pumped wildly, singin' and talkin' in a way that made your heart curdle to hear it. Still, he pumped. The clouds began to form again round us, the same racin' clouds, the orange rim came nearer and we knew that we were once again approachin' the edge of the hurricane. There happened to be a little food in the galley and a scrap was given to each man. If we were going under, there was no need to drown hungry. So, faintly, but with quickenin' loudness, the whirring roar of the hurricane rose into a shriek and the fury hit us again.
"'I suppose I went on pumpin', I suppose we all went on pumpin', for the vessel stayed afloat, but what happened after we passed into the hurricane again, I can't tell you. I was deafened, stunned, blinded. I think I must have gone mad, too. Our trysail blew out right away, and the tiller that we had rigged up went as well. The bulwarks were laid flat with the deck. The skipper and one of the men were lashed to the stump of the mizzen mast, Bill, who had come to again and was ravin', was lashed to the jury foremast, and the other four of us were lashed to the pumps.
"'Whether I pumped for a day, a week, or a century, I'll never tell you. It seemed to me that I had been drivin' round that pump wheel for thousands and thousands of years. I remember that I thought that I was dead and that I had been sentenced to turn the wheel of a ship's pump forever. On Saturday afternoon I started my trick at the pumps, and maybe half a dozen times before midnight, I had ten minutes' spell. On Sunday I never left the handles and the last bite I had to eat was in the evenin'. All day Monday the four of us, lashed to the pumps, had never a stop, nor a bite to eat, nor a drop to drink. We laughed; how we laughed! I must have laughed for hours. We would have killed each other to stop, but the skipper had lashed our wrists to the pump handles. Did we stop? No one could ever tell. Did we pump without stoppin'? No one could ever tell that, either. Once in a while my brain cleared, and I saw the skipper, sagged, unconscious, dead, I thought, by the mizzen mast, and I heard the ravin's of Bill, lashed to the fore.
"'In the night, I suddenly saw the lights of a town. It was Galveston, and we were drivin' right on for it. I was so glad that I sang and shouted. At last, at last we were goin' to be wrecked. Then, perhaps, there would be rest, unless indeed I were already dead and pumpin' forever. We drove on and on, while I shouted—and went on pumpin'.
"'A sea picked us up and threw us at the sea-wall, the seventeen foot high sea-wall. Just before we struck, I saw the Captain move and look up. The schooner was thrown out of the water, as a porpoise jumps, vaulted the sea-wall and came to solid ground with a crash that broke every timber. We landed stern first, and the wave that followed us tore off our bow and foredeck and threw them clear over the vessel. The foredeck was found, after the storm, a hundred yards southeast of the maindeck. The bow was found eight blocks away, in the centre of the business district of the city.
"'We stopped pumpin'. There weren't any pumps any more. Of the seven of us, five were unconscious when a rescuin' party reached us, through the hurricane, four hours later. Two of us were crippled for life, and it was many a long day before Bill was free from the madness which had begun with the crack on the head when the wheel was swept away.
"'Daylight of Tuesday found me in bed, with an army surgeon straightenin' out my broken bones. The hurricane still raged over Galveston. We had been derelict for two days and a half, at the pumps for fifty-seven hours, without food or water for forty hours, yet not a man was lost. No other dismasted vessel has ever lived through the eye of a hurricane and been tossed over a sea-wall into the business streets of a city. Yet seven of us, all Americans, still live to tell the tale.'"
The young observer paused and looked at the boys. They were all very still.
"And the beach," the young observer continued, "that once white beach with its stretches of sand, what did that look like, beyond the engineers' parade ground, where the wrecked schooner lay? Mis-shapen, distorted, blotched, drabbled and crimsoned, it spread away to the horizons, east and west, its scars showing under the rays of the sun which shone out from the mares' tails of the departing hurricane. Part of it had disappeared under the waters, now rapidly subsiding. The great causeway was a mass of ruins, but the sea-wall, the two-million dollar sea-wall, stood with its front to the ocean, grimly defiant still, the conqueror against the rage of the tempest, and an unwrecked Galveston shone triumphant.
"But I should do the hurricane a grave injustice," he continued, "to leave you boys with the story of Galveston alone. Its terrors were far more widespread than that. On my way here from Galveston, I saw the ravages of the storm inland. Everywhere on the flat prairie near Texas City were ruined houses and outbuildings, many of them absolutely abandoned, others still with a corner occupied by their ruined owners. Trees were broken short off or up-rooted and lying prostrate. The hurricane which had been foiled of the slaughter which had been granted to its predecessor fifteen years before, had swept on, mile after mile, for hundreds of miles, slaying and wrecking as it went. Acres of pear orchards were stripped as though the giant of the winds had drawn each separate branch through his clenched fists. For twenty miles inland the prairie grass lay prostrate. Twelve miles from the shore I saw a fishing schooner there, her masts still standing, and near it lay a child's rocking-horse, a cradle, a boy's baseball-bat and a five hundred pound bale of cotton.
"Not fifty yards from the hastily relaid railway track, I saw a strange example of the fury of the waves and wind. On the floor of the first story of a negro shack, without a scrap of furniture around it, with no wreckage or piece of wood to be seen in any direction, a rude cabin indeed, was a large grand piano, its boards warped by the water and the sun, but otherwise uninjured. From what house in Galveston had this floated, to find a resting-place on the floor of an un-roofed and un-walled negro's cabin? Around it was not a sign of wreckage save the bodies of scores of drowned horses and cattle and, among them, many human forms.
"No census will ever tell how many were killed in that stretch of prairie between Galveston and Texas City. Years hence men will stumble over human bones on that grassy plain and give burial to some victim of the greatest storm that ever visited American shores. Yet, withal, that the hurricane of 1915 claimed six hundred victims instead of tens of thousands was due alone to the warnings of the Weather Bureau, to the heroism of the men and women of Galveston and to the craft, skill and honesty of the men who built the great sea-wall."
STRUCK BY LIGHTNING
There was but little further interest in kite-flying that afternoon, when the young observer ended his story of the Galveston hurricane. The boys had been brought close to danger and they crowded around the stranger with questions concerning the hurricane. The lads were all the more thrilled by reason of the fact that the sky was becoming dark and ominous, and that, even while the stranger spoke, the clouds grew more threatening.
"There might be a hurricane coming now," said the youngest of the group, looking fearfully at the sky.
"No," answered the observer, "that's nothing but a thunderstorm. You'll never forget the look of the hurricane as it comes near, if you've seen it once."
"Nor a tornado," put in Ross, and he told of Dan'l's death and of his narrow escape with Anton.
"I was in the St. Louis tornado," the observer rejoined, and in turn he told of the devastation that had struck the city in 1896.
[Footnote 1: While this book was in press a most destructive series of tornadoes visited the United States, Illinois especially suffering. Hundreds of deaths were recorded.]
Meantime the thunderstorm was drawing closer and the thunder and the lightning grew gradually nearer.
"Do you suppose, sir," asked Tom, "that it would be safe to send up the kite? I've been listening to the hurricane story, and haven't taken the weekly observation yet. Franklin sent up a kite in a storm."
"It might be safe, but I wouldn't advise it," answered the Forecaster. "Franklin did it deliberately, for a different purpose, and it was because of his experiment with a kite that we first found out about lightning."
"Yes," answered Tom, who knew the story well, "and he collected sparks from the string. But that was a silk string, Mr. Levin. I should think this piano wire would be much worse."
"Why?" asked the Forecaster. "On the contrary, it would act as a lightning-rod. Your kite reel is of metal and fastened to the ground. Wire is a much better conductor of electricity than the body, so that there's less likelihood of your being struck."
"Is it the difference between a good conductor and a bad one that makes people put up lightning-rods?" asked Fred.
"Certainly. All that a lightning-rod does is to convey to the ground the electricity that is about to strike a building. That's the whole system of lightning protection. I can explain it to you fairly well by trees. You know in fairy tales that some trees are supposed to be wicked and other trees are supposed to be good?"
"Yes, sir," put in Anton, "Dan'l used to talk about that. He always used to say that the oak tree was a black witch tree and that the beech tree and the alder tree were white witches."
"Like nearly all folk-lore," replied the Forecaster, "there's a mighty good reason for that superstition. Folk-lore, after all, is merely keen observation reduced to a saying or a story. It is true that the oak-tree is a black witch so far as lightning is concerned and that the beech and alder are white witches. The proportion of trees struck by lightning has often been counted and for every fifty-four oaks struck, only one beech, or birch, or maple or alder is struck. Elms are fairly dangerous, being forty to the beech's one, and pines are less so, their ratio being fifteen. Not only this, boys, but a good deal depends on the way in which a tree is struck. An oak-tree may be riven into splinters, showing the terrible resistance that it gives to the stroke. A beech-tree, usually, is killed outright, yet shows but little outward injury. The oak has resisted the current, it is a bad conductor; the beech has allowed the current to flow directly to the ground.
"So, boys, if you are in a mixed forest and stand beneath a tree, the figures show that you are fifty-four times as likely to be struck with lightning when standing beneath an oak, instead of a beech. Not only that, but if the oak be struck, the lightning may jump from the tree to you more surely than it would from a beech-tree.
"It's surprising," he went on, "but even trees of closely related character show very different effects of lightning. 'Nothing but lightning,' writes John Muir, 'hurts the Sequoia or Big Tree. It lives on through indefinite thousands of years, until burned, blown down or undermined, or shattered by some tremendous lightning stroke. No ordinary bolt ever hurts the Sequoia. I have seen silver firs split into long peeled rails radiating like spokes of a wheel from a hole in the ground where the tree stood. But the Sequoia, instead of being split and shivered, usually has forty to fifty feet of its brash knotty top smashed off in short chunks, about the size of cord-wood, the rosy-red ruins covering the ground in a circle one hundred feet wide or more.
"'I never saw any that had been cut down to the ground, or even to below the branches, except one about twelve feet in diameter, the greater part of which was smashed to fragments. All the very old Sequoias have lost their heads by lightning. All things come to him who waits, but of all living things, Sequoia is perhaps the only one able to wait long enough to make sure of being struck by lightning. Thousands of years it stands ready and waiting, offering its head to every passing cloud, as if inviting its fate, praying for Heaven's fire as a blessing, and when, at last, the old head is off, another of the same shape immediately grows on.'"
"And then, I suppose," said Fred, "it will never be struck again. Lightning never strikes twice in the same place."
"Oh, yes, it does," said the Forecaster. "That's all nonsense. Take the Eiffel Tower in Paris, for example. That's struck nearly every time there's a thunderstorm. But lightning can't hurt the Eiffel Tower because practically the entire building is a lightning-rod and it has been very carefully grounded into deep wells, a long way below the ground."
"I've been wondering," said Anton thoughtfully, with his characteristic opening, "just how a thunder-and-lightning storm happens. You promised to explain it to me, Mr. Levin," he continued, "and you never have."
"Very good," said the Forecaster, briskly, "I'll explain it now. And you couldn't have picked a better day for your question, Anton, because we can see the tail end of that thunderstorm going off to the east, and, if I'm not mistaken, there's another one coming up to the south-west. Do you see that layer of cirro-stratus clouds?"
"And do you notice those festoons of cloud, slowly coming down and dissolving—you see there's one small one there, and another one a little larger, behind?"
"Well, those are the heralds of a thunderstorm. We've only seen those since my nephew began talking about the hurricane, about an hour ago. Away off on the horizon, though, you can see a bigger bunch of those festoons, dropping from the five-mile height of the cirro-stratus and condensing away down lower. This heat that we're now feeling will diminish, just as soon as that cloud covers the sun, not because the sun is hidden, but because of a change of wind."
"But the storm's coming up at right angles to the wind," said Tom, "the wind's a little east of south."
"It'll blow from the north-east presently," declared the Forecaster oracularly.
"Directly opposite to the storm?" ejaculated the kite expert in surprise.
"Certainly," was the answer, "that's a part of the thunderstorm formation. You can see now," he continued, "how the thunder heads of cumulo-nimbus are beginning to show, leaden in color below, with the white billowy tops. They're very thick, those masses of cloud, perhaps two miles thick, and the gray rain curtain trails along behind them. Well, Tom, what is it?" he added, turning to the boy, who was claiming his attention.
"The wind's shifting," answered the lad.
"To the eastward? Of course. It'll be north-east in a minute or two, as I told you. It's got to be."
"But why, sir?" asked Tom. "I don't see why a surface wind should have to blow up against a storm."
"That," said the Forecaster, "is quite easy. If the rain is falling, it brings down a mass of cold air with it, displacing the warm air that lies before the advancing storm. The warm air is driven forward, but, at the same time, the descending cold air requires warm air to replace it in its turn, and the warm air, therefore, curves backward and flows into the upper portion of the storm cloud, where its moisture is condensed as rain. So, my boy, a little distance in advance of a thunderstorm there are three currents of air, an upper current of cold air, traveling in the same direction as the storm, and driving the cirrus clouds before it; a current of warm air, going in the opposite direction to the storm and pouring a torrent of warm air into the cloud; and the cold squall, which drives out from under the thunder-cloud and which comes in violent gusts."
"But I thought," said Fred, "that thunder and lightning came from two clouds banging together. If most of the thunder storms travel from the west, where does this banging come in?"
"It doesn't come in at all," the Forecaster replied; "thunder and lightning do not result from clouds striking each other. It's not quite so simple as that.
"The lower air is full of positive electricity just as the surface of the earth is charged with negative electricity. As you know, boys, rain is formed by a lot of little drops of moisture combining to form one large drop, which, when it is heavy enough, falls to the ground. Now the surface of every drop of moisture is charged with electricity. When these drops come together to make one big drop, the surface of the big drop is proportionately much smaller than the combined surfaces of all the small drops. There isn't room enough on the surface of the big drop to hold all the electricity that existed on the surface of the larger number of smaller drops and, therefore, a great deal of electricity is set free.
"Only a few flashes of lightning reach the earth. Most lightning-flashes occur between two cloud masses in the body of the thunder-cloud. Photographs of these show them to consist of scores of fine branches which jump from one cloud to the other, the flash being strong or weak according to the distance to be jumped. You can see that a very faint flash could jump a distance of an inch, but that it would take a stronger current to jump a yard, and that a terrific force of electricity must have accumulated before the current is strong enough to break down the resistance of the non-conducting air and jump a quarter of a mile. When lightning is attracted by the earth, it means that the air between the thunder-cloud and the earth is being subjected to a constant strain, and the weakest place gives way first. The weakest place, generally, is the place when the jump is shortest and there is a good conductor available.
"One of the reasons that buildings and trees are struck by lightning is because they project up into the air, and according to their height, they remove a corresponding amount of the poorly conducting air. If the lower edge of a thunder-cloud is two thousand five hundred feet above the air, and the spire of a church is five hundred feet high, it follows that it is easier for a flash to jump two thousand feet than two thousand five hundred. So when the electricity-bearing cloud comes over the church spire the flash will leap to the church, five hundred feet of obstacle being removed. The highest building, therefore, is usually struck first, or the highest tree in a forest.
"A lightning-rod or conductor is the best preventive against the destruction of a building by lightning, if the rod sticks up in the air above the building, even a couple of feet. The current will more readily strike the lightning-rod. As these are made of metal—copper or iron, generally—which are extremely good conductors, the current flows through them to the ground without harming the building.
"The big lightning flashes that you see, boys, aren't always a single flash, but often a whole series of flashes, which occasionally run up as well as down. The resistance of the air being broken down, makes a path for the electrical discharge, so that the conductor does not have to stand the entire strain of the cloud at once, but only in a series of discharges. Photographs of lightning flashes show these very clearly."
"I've never done any lightning photography," said Ralph disgustedly, "I'd never thought of it."
"You try it," said the Forecaster, "and you'll find that there are no two flashes of lightning that look alike. Some of them are several miles long. One thing you will notice at once, Ralph, and that is that lightning is never zigzag, the way you see it in pictures, but runs in an irregular line, winding a little like a river-course."
"How about sheet-lightning?" asked Ralph.
"That's just the same as any other kind of lightning," was the reply, "except that it doesn't come to the earth or is so distant that the earth flash is not visible. It is generally due to discharges between upper and lower clouds, and the lower clouds are illuminated by the lightning. Heat-lightning, as it is called, is pretty much the same thing."
"Father told me once," said Fred, "that during a thunder-storm, a ball of fire came down on the chimney and rolled all around the room like a bubble of quicksilver and then struck a shovel that was standing in the corner, when it blew up with a bang. What was that, Mr. Levin?"
"That's globe, or ball lightning," was the reply. "There have been some very curious freaks done with these electric balls. One of them, in a baker's shop at Paris, jumped into an open oven door and exploded, giving off so much heat that a pan of biscuits was baked in the fraction of a second. At least, so Flammarion tells the story, though it sounds a bit queer."
"But what's the cause of ball-lightning?"
"We don't know," answered the Forecaster, simply.
"A couple of days before the Galveston hurricane," put in the young observer, "I noticed two or three examples of St. Elmo's fires, and even had them from my fingers."
"What are St. Elmo's fires?" queried Fred.
"Corpse candles, they used to be called," the young observer answered, "or St. John's fires. They are brush-like discharges of electricity, being discharged from the earth towards the sky, and generally gather on elevated points, such as the masts of ships, the tips of trees or the iron railings around a roof. It was on the top of the Weather Bureau building in Galveston that I saw them, just the other day. They look like a bluish flame, and give a crackling sound. I had my hand on the rail and was reaching up with the other hand towards the anemometer when I noticed from my third and little fingers two blue flames burning. It looked exactly as if my hand were alight."
"Weren't you afraid of being killed?" the boy asked.
"No," said the observer, "that's not the way that one gets killed with lightning. The St. Elmo's fire is a very weak electric discharge. My fingers tingled a little, that was all."
"But do many people get killed with lightning?" queried Ross. "I thought that it was really quite rare."
"Not as rare as you would think," the Forecaster answered. "About five hundred people are killed by lightning every year in the United States and there is an annual property loss of eight million dollars."
"Is that high as compared with other countries?" Anton asked.
"Yes," the Forecaster replied, "more people are killed by lightning in the Western States than in any place in the world. In the Dakotas, out of every million deaths twenty-seven are due to lightning; in Missouri, twenty-one. In Hungary sixteen out of every million deaths are due to lightning; in the United States as a whole, ten; in Germany, six; in England, four; in France and Sweden, three, and in Belgium, two. The greatest number of deaths by lightning are on the plains, the fewest in the cities."
"I should think lightning would be much worse in the city," said Ross, "because if a building is struck with a lot of people in it, they'd all be killed."
The Forecaster shook his head.
"Not at all," he said. "Last year, for example, a church was struck by lightning on a Sunday morning, during a religious service. There were three hundred people in the building. It was a bolt of unusual force, which practically wrecked the church. Only six people were killed by lightning, thirty were injured from the falling timbers, seventy were made unconscious by shock, and two hundred were absolutely uninjured.
"The largest number of persons killed by lightning at any one time in America was in an amusement park in Chicago. Eleven people had huddled into a zinc-lined hut under a pier, for protection from the rain. The lightning struck the pier and jumped to the hut. If the hut had touched the wet sand, none of them would have been hurt, but the hut was on posts a couple of inches above the beach. The lightning could not escape to the ground and it spread from the zinc sides, killing every one there. A piece of wire a sixteenth of an inch thick and six inches long, running from the hut into the ground, might have saved every life."
In the distance a flash of lightning followed by a low rumble of thunder told of the nearer approach of the storm.
The Galveston observer took his watch from his pocket and counted the seconds between the flash and the thunder.
"Fifty seconds!" he continued. "The front of the storm is still ten miles away."
"Do you reckon five seconds to a mile between the lightning and the thunder?" asked Anton.
"Yes," the observer replied, "light travels so fast that for something as near as a lightning flash, you can reckon it as instantaneous, while sound only travels at a little more than a thousand feet a second."
"But why does thunder make a noise?" asked Fred. "You told me the clouds didn't bang together."
"They don't," the Forecaster answered. "Thunder is caused by the electric discharge. You've heard Bob's big wireless outfit crackle, when he sends out a spark, haven't you?"
"Sure," said Fred, "you can hardly hear yourself talk, when Bob's got his wireless busy."
"And why does that crackle? Do you know, Bob?" he asked, turning to the wireless expert.
"No," answered the boy.
"You've often heard the crackling of a near-by thunder compared to an irregular volley of rifles, haven't you?"
"Naturally, because that's exactly what it is. A rifle shot is an explosion caused by the firing of a powder, which, in turn, means the expansion of the powder into gases, the force of that expansion driving forward the bullet. Sound, as you know, is a series of air vibrations. The explosion wave sets up a series of these vibrations, by compressing the air in front of it.
"Lightning does the same thing. When a lightning flash breaks down the resistance of the air, and passes through a channel of air, it heats the air suddenly to a temperature of two or three thousand degrees, causing a terrific expansion along the entire length of the flash and starting an explosion wave. This compresses the air on all sides and sets sound vibrations in action. As soon as the flash is discharged, the air rushes back to fill the partial vacuum that the heating by electricity has caused, adding force to the vibrations.
"That's why you hear the crackle of near-by thunder. You are near enough to hear the explosions made by all the little side-branches of the lightning flash—you can hear the same sometimes when you comb your hair or rub a cat's fur—while the big crashes are due to your hearing, all at once, the main wave of sound set in action by the flash jumping from the cloud to the earth or from one cloud to another.
"The rumble of the thunder—which used to be thought the rolling of a chariot in the sky, is due to the different distances of various portions of the discharge, to the echo of the explosions from the projecting hills and valleys of the cloud forms, and to the irregular shape of the earth, when the sound waves strike the ground."
"Hail is electric, too, isn't it?" said Anton. "In a hail-storm the other day I noticed that the hail jumped up a lot higher from an old piece of iron that lay on the ground than from a stone right beside it. I tried the iron and the stone with a marble, after the storm was over, and the marble bounced higher from the stone. I figured that there must be some kind of electric repulsion and that the hail must be electrified."
"It is, very often," the Forecaster answered. "In some very violent electric storms, you'll see hail jump up as if it were alive, when it strikes the earth. Of course, boys, there's some slight elasticity in a hail-stone, too, because a good many of them are made like an onion or a pearl, with a number of layers round each other."
"But why in the world should a hail-stone be made like an onion?" said Fred, with a puzzled stare. "Isn't hail just frozen rain?"
"No," answered the Forecaster, "frozen rain is sleet, which is never seen in summer. It is caused by the rain in the upper air falling through a cold layer of surface air and becoming frozen on the way. Sleet is ice, and transparent.
"Hail never falls in winter, only in summer, and almost always in connection with a thunderstorm. It is made by drops of moisture, like very fine rain, being carried by the strong upward currents of a thunderstorm to altitudes where the air is very cold, there becoming coated with a layer of snow, and becoming heavier, falling through the less active upward currents on the edge of a storm. As these snow-covered frozen raindrops fall through the clouds, they grow bigger, because on their cold snow surfaces the moisture condenses and is frozen to a skin of ice. At the base of the cloud, they are often sucked in by the upward current and carried up again for another layer of snow, falling again through the clouds and being covered with another skin of ice. This may happen a dozen or a hundred times, the hailstones growing in size with every successive layer of snow and ice, until at last they become so heavy that they can no longer be carried up by the ascending currents, and fall to the ground."
"No wonder hailstones sometimes get so big!" exclaimed Fred. "I've seen them as big as pigeon's eggs. I never could understand it."
"I've seen hailstones that weighed more than half a pound," the Forecaster answered. "Not so very long ago, two ranchers and six hundred head of cattle were killed by hail in one Texas storm. Not a single animal was left alive. The loss from hail in our Western states is so large that most of the progressive farmers pay heavy hail insurance. Jagged bits of hail the size of a child's fist are not at all uncommon. If I'm not mistaken," he continued, "we may have some hail this afternoon, but nothing like that. This county isn't in the regular hail-belt."
During the description of the storm, Tom had been reeling in his kite and after the week's observations had been duly made and recorded, the boys prepared to scatter. Before they left, the Forecaster turned to them, his hand on Anton's shoulder.
"I think you boys ought to know," he said, "that I received a letter the other day from the Chief of the Weather Bureau. He's going down to New Orleans next month, and has promised to drop off here and spend the night with me. We were chums at college. He ought to meet the Mississippi League of the Weather."
An excited cheer went up from the boys.
"And what's more," the Forecaster went on, "I can tell you this—that just as soon as Anton is old enough, there will be a place waiting for him in the Bureau. He knows almost enough now to pass the Civil Service Exam, and in a couple of years he'll be as well equipped to enter the Service as any of the boys that are going in. I miss my guess if we don't find out, some day, that Issaquena County has given to the United States one of the best meteorologists of the next generation."
"Three cheers for Anton!" shouted Fred.
They were given heartily and the boys separated in groups, excitedly discussing what they ought to do to prepare for the visit of the Chief of the Weather Bureau. Anton and Ross drove home to Anton's place together, Ross driving and the crippled lad, with his eyes glowing with enthusiasm, talking about the work he intended to do in the ranks of the Weather Bureau.
Meanwhile, the storm grew nearer and nearer. The thunder, which had been rolling menacingly, now came with shorter and sharper claps.
"I wonder if we'll get home before the rain," said Ross and leaned forward to slap the pony with the reins.
At the instant that he leaned forward there was a blinding flash of light, and, almost simultaneously, a terrific crash.
For a second Anton was stunned, and then, as the frightened pony started to bolt, he saw he was alone.
Ross was gone.
The crippled lad cast a frightened glance over his shoulder and saw his chum lying on the ground beside the roadway, stripped to the skin. Some pieces of his clothing, burning and smouldering, lay a few feet away.
Grabbing the reins, Anton managed to pull the pony down to a walk and scrambled out, awkwardly, with the crutch, but rapidly.
The lightning, as so often happens, had snatched every stitch of Ross's clothes from him. There was not a mark of a burn on the boy's body, but he lay deathly still, with his arm cramped under him.
Anton, exerting all his strength, rolled his chum over on his back. Then, kneeling across him, as best he could with his lame leg, he took Ross's wrists, jerked his arms to their full length, brought the wrists back upon the chest and pressed. Again he stretched the arms out, again brought them back, and pressed. Again, and again and again.
Time passed and the perspiration stood out on the crippled lad's forehead and trickled down into his eyes and the corners of his mouth. Yet he did not pause for a second.
He stretched the arms out, brought them in and pressed down upon the chest.
Again and again and again.
Fifteen minutes passed, and there was no sign.
Probably further work was of no use, but Anton persisted. He could not stop, as long as there was a chance.
Out, in again, and pressure on the chest.
A clatter of approaching wheels caused Anton to look up. It was the buggy, with his father whipping the pony to full speed, returning along the road to find out what accident had happened. Anton shouted, but did not stop.
Out, in again, and pressure on the chest.
The buggy stopped and his father jumped out.
"Who is it?" he asked.
"Ross," answered Anton, "struck by lightning!"
"Dead?" queried his father.
"He can't be!" declared Anton passionately, and went on with his artificial respiration.
"Let me do that a while," said his father.
"Wait!" cried Anton.
He thought he saw an eyelid flutter.
Out, in again, and pressure on the chest.
"He's coming to!" the man declared.
Yes, that was a movement. The lips parted. There was a faint heave of the chest, and Anton's father, stooping down, felt a slight trembling of the boy's heart. It fluttered, hesitated, stopped; then trembled again, and struck into a low soft throb, irregular indeed, but still a definite throb.
Out, in again, and pressure on the chest.
For five minutes more Anton continued his artificial respiration, silently, and then Ross opened his eyes.
"What's wrong?" he asked, faintly.
"You've had a lightning shock," answered Anton.
"I thought you were dead," put in the lad's father, "but it looks as though Anton had pulled you through."
Ross smiled at his chum.
"Bully for you, old boy," he said weakly, "the sea-wall licked the hurricane and you've licked the lightning-flash!"
U. S. SERVICE SERIES
By FRANCIS ROLT-WHEELER
Illustrations from photographs taken in work for U. S. Government
Large 12mo Cloth $1.35 each, net
"There are no better books for boys than Francis Rolt-Wheeler's 'U. S. Service Series.'"—Chicago Record-Herald.
THE BOY WITH THE U. S. SURVEY
This story describes the thrilling adventures of members of the U. S. Geological Survey, graphically woven into a stirring narrative that both pleases and instructs. The author enjoys an intimate acquaintance with the chiefs of the various bureaus in Washington, and is able to obtain at first hand the material for his books.
"There is abundant charm and vigor in the narrative which is sure to please the boy readers and will do much toward stimulating their patriotism by making them alive to the needs of conservation of the vast resources of their country."—Chicago News.
THE BOY WITH THE U. S. FORESTERS
The life of a typical boy is followed in all its adventurous detail—the mighty representative of our country's government, though young in years—a youthful monarch in a vast domain of forest. Replete with information, alive with adventure, and inciting patriotism at every step, this handsome book is one to be instantly appreciated.
"It is a fascinating romance of real life in our country, and will prove a great pleasure and inspiration to the boys who read it."—The Continent, Chicago.
THE BOY WITH THE U. S. CENSUS
Through the experiences of a bright American boy, the author shows how the necessary information is gathered. The securing of this often involves hardship and peril, requiring journeys by dog-team in the frozen North and by launch in the alligator-filled Everglades of Florida, while the enumerator whose work lies among the dangerous criminal classes of the greater cities must take his life in his own hands.
"Every young man should read this story from cover to cover, thereby getting a clear conception of conditions as they exist to-day, for such knowledge will have a clean, invigorating and healthy influence on the young growing and thinking mind."—Boston Globe.
THE BOY WITH THE U. S. FISHERIES
With a bright, active American youth as a hero, is told the story of the Fisheries, which in their actual importance dwarf every other human industry. The book does not lack thrilling scenes. The far Aleutian Islands have witnessed more desperate sea-fighting than has occurred elsewhere since the days of the Spanish buccaneers, and pirate craft, which the U. S. Fisheries must watch, rifle in hand, are prowling in the Behring Sea to-day. The fish-farms of the United States are as interesting as they are immense in their scope.