Authors: Bertrand R. Brinley,Charles Geer
Tags: #Juvenile Fiction, #Science Clubs, #Action & Adventure
turned down the road leading to the old abandoned mill on Lemon Creek, Henry
outlined his plan.
"It's simple," he said. "They ought to reach the millpond in
about ten minutes. The only way to get out of it is to go through the sluice
way. That's a natural trap. If we can close the downstream gate before they get
there, we'll have them blocked. And if we close the upstream gate after they're
in the sluice, they can't possibly get out. The walls are about fifteen feet
high and covered with green slime. They'll be helpless! All we have to do is
sit there and wait for the Chief to come." Even the deputy was smiling
now, and he pushed the patrol car down the winding road even faster than
"Great idea, Mulligan! Great!" he exclaimed. Then he frowned.
"But what about those gates? Will they work?"
"Sure they will," I said. "The sluice is still used as a lock to
let boats out of the millpond. The winches are in good shape. We've closed the
gates lots of times to trap fish."
"Remind me to tell the game warden about that," said the deputy.
"Forget it," said Freddy Muldoon. "That's just one of Charlie's
you have any tear gas?" Henry asked.
"Yeah!" said the deputy. "That's a good idea. There's two
grenades in the glove compartment there. Get 'em out."
"Put your lights out before we get to the creek," Henry warned.
"We don't want to tip them off."
"OK, Chief!" said the deputy. "Any other orders?"
deputy pulled the car off the road about a hundred yards short of the creek,
and we ran the rest of the way to the millhouse. With a half moon rising in the
east there was just enough light to see by. The old millhouse is a pretty
sneaky place to be messing around in when it's dark, but we knew every nook and
cranny of it by heart. Dinky and Freddy clambered across the catwalk to the
other side of the sluice and lay flat on their bellies on top of the wall.
Henry and I took the deputy into the winch house, and the three of us lowered
the downstream gate. It creaked and groaned a lot, but we figured the bank
bandits were still far enough away so that they couldn't hear it.
"Don't close it all the way," Henry advised. "We don't want the
water level to rise too high in the sluice. After we've shut the upstream gate,
we can let it down the rest of the way."
crawled out onto the mill dam and lay there behind the railing holding our
breath. The only sound came from the water gurgling under the downstream sluice
gate, and we hoped the men we were waiting for weren't smart enough to
recognize the sound and realize the gate was closed. Henry had the directional
receiver tuned again and was rotating the antenna, trying to get a fix on the
transmitter signal. He had just picked up the beep when I could see the dim
outline of a small boat ease out of the shadows about two hundred yards
upstream and move into a patch of moonlight. I grabbed Henry by the elbow and
he shut off the receiver. We crawled back to the winch house, leaving the
deputy lying flat on his stomach near the upstream gate.
the winch house we waited, crouched in the darkness, for the signal that would
tell us when to close the upstream gate. It seemed like it was forever, and I
could hear Henry's breathing just as clear as the blower on our hot air furnace
at home. I was sweating all over and shaking with chills at the same time. I
figured this must be how an eel would feel in a Turkish bath.
a flash of light flicked at the window of the winch house. It was the signal
from the deputy that the boat had entered the sluice. Henry and I sprang into
action and threw our weight against the trunnion of the winch. My feet slipped
from under me and I tripped Henry, and we both fell to the floor, but we
managed to spin the winch fast enough to close the. upstream gate before the
men in the boat knew what was happening. Then we dashed to the other winch and
lowered the downstream gate the rest of the way.
scrambled out to our places along the guard rail at the edge of the sluice, the
boat had already rammed against the downstream gate. There were sounds of
confusion and violent cursing coming up from the bottom of the dark chamber in
which the bandits were trapped. The bright beam of the deputy's flashlight
stabbed into the depths of the sluiceway and came to rest on the figures of
four men huddled in a small rowboat. The deputy's voice rang out in a booming
command that resounded back and forth between the walls of the sluice.
"Throw your guns in the water! You're surrounded!"
more beams of light hit the bandits in the face as Dinky, Freddy, Henry, and I
flicked on our flashlights from opposite sides of the sluice. The men in the
boat threw their hands up, and one of them shouted, "Don't shoot! Don't
shoot! We're just going fishing."
"You can't fish with a rod like that!" the deputy shouted back.
"Throw it in the water!"
was a splash as the pistol dropped from the hand of the man standing in the
stern of the boat.
"Get the rest of them overboard before we load your boat with tear
more weapons splashed in the water. The man in the bow of the boat reached
under the seat and tried to slip a canvas sack over the side, but the deputy's
pistol cracked like a whip and a bullet nicked the gunwale beside him.
"Leave the money where it is!" barked the deputy. "Put your
hands on top of your head and lie down in the boat!"
easy for one man to lie down in a rowboat, let alone four. But when your have
to, you find a way to do it, and the four bank bandits were smart enough to
figure it out.
"OK, Mulligan. Get on the radio and tell 'em it's all over," said the
deputy calmly. And Henry made tracks for the patrol car.
"You characters ought to know you can't fish in this county before
daybreak," said the deputy, as he lighted a cigarette. "Now, just as
soon as we can truck a ladder in here, we'll get you out of there."
took about ten minutes for two more patrol cars to show up at the old mill. And
we didn't need a ladder to get the captives out of the sluice. We just opened
the upper gate long enough to float the boat up to the top of the wall, and the
bank robbers climbed out meek as lambs. I don't think they ever knew there was
only one policeman on the scene when they threw their guns in the water.
Muldoon ran up and kicked the biggest man right in the shins. "That's for
calling me 'Fatso'!" he shouted, and then he retreated to a safe distance.
One of the policemen grabbed him by the collar and half carried him off the
dam. The big man stood there with his mouth open, rubbing one leg against the
"There ought to be a law against kids," he said. "I knew there'd
be trouble when I found them two in the alley."
"What about my transmitter?" Dinky asked. "It's in one of those
"We'll have to hold it for evidence, sonny," said one of the
policemen. "You'll get it back later on."
Putney didn't get in on the capture. He and three other policemen were
blockading the mouth of Lemon Creek with two motorboats, and they didn't have a
radio. It wasn't until daybreak that they saw Mr. Monaghan standing at the end
of his dock waving a pair of red flannel drawers at them. When they got back to
the police station we were all sitting around sipping hot chocolate and talking
to a reporter from the
Mammoth Falls Gazette
. Henry asked Chief Putney
if he could send a patrol car out to Indian Hill to pick up Homer and Mortimer.
"You've just given me a great idea," grumbled the Chief. "We
don't need a police department around here anymore. What we need is a good
all-night taxi service. Have you got fifty cents for the fare?"
"No!" said Henry.
"Oh, that's really too bad!" said the Chief, sarcastically. Then he
turned to Billy Dahr and told him to send a car out to Indian Hill.
© 1968 by Bertrand R. Brinley
Illustrations by Charles Geer
always has a bunch of projects hanging fire that we hope to do something about
someday. For instance, one of Henry Mulligan's favorite ideas has always been
to build a submarine that we could use to explore the bottom of Strawberry
Lake. Henry has a theory that the lake wasn't always as big as it is now. He
figures there might be a lot of interesting Indian relics on the lake bottom,
and maybe even a whole Indian village.
trouble is it takes a lot of know-how and a lot of expensive material to build
a submarine, and somehow or other we never quite got started on the project,
though Henry and Jeff Crocker drew a lot of interesting plans.
day Freddy Muldoon came up with some information that changed the whole
picture. Sometimes we call Freddy "Little Bright Eyes" -- which is
his Indian name -- and it isn't just because they're the only part of him that
isn't fat. It's because Freddy frequently notices things that escape everyone
else's attention. It was he and Dinky, for instance, who really solved the
mystery of the money hidden in the old cannon out at Memorial Point when they
noticed the strange gold key dangling from the neck of Elmer Pridgin.
information Freddy came up with was a news item in the
Mammoth Falls Gazette
Nobody else had noticed it, but Freddy reads the whole paper, line by line,
every night, because his father is a linotype operator on the
and Freddy likes to give him the razz-ma-tazz if he finds an error in it.
Freddy had noticed was an announcement of a White Elephant Auction being held
over in Claiborne for the benefit of the Ladies Auxiliary of the Claiborne
General Hospital. Among the "white elephants" donated for the auction
was a midget two-man Japanese submarine which the Claiborne American Legion
Post had brought back from the Pacific in 1945 as a trophy of war. It had been
gathering lots of rust and very few onlookers, ever since, in front of the
Legion's meeting hall.
auction was scheduled for one o'clock Saturday afternoon, so we had to act fast
if we wanted to get the thing. Nobody could even guess whether it could still
be made to operate, but we all figured we'd just have to gamble on that. If we
could get it cheap enough, and the hull was good, Henry claimed we could
eventually fit it out with all the gear it needed to make it run again.
"Let's go where the auction is!" quipped Mortimer Dalrymple, trying
to keep a straight face.
"Get a load of the comic," said Freddy Muldoon disdainfully, with the
closest thing to a sneer his pudgy face could manage.
Crocker rapped his gavel on the packing crate he uses for a podium.
"How much money have we got in the treasury, Homer?"
"Three dollars and eighty-five cents!" Homer Snodgrass reported
"Are you sure?" asked Jeff, incredulously.
"Three dollars and eighty-five cents," repeated Homer.
was a lot of discussion about this, and Homer kept insisting that we'd all
forgotten about the seven dollars we'd spent on flowers for Constable Billy
Dahr when he was in the hospital for two weeks after stepping in a bear trap
out by Turkey Ridge. Finally Mortimer moved that we call for a count of the
cashbox, and Homer pulled himself wearily out of his chair.
don't know whether I've got the strength for this treasurer's job any
more," he groaned. "Excuse me, Mr. President," he said, as he
climbed up onto the packing crate in front of Jeff. We all sat there in silence
while Homer reached up and flipped a switch on the light cord dangling just
above Jeff's head. Then he climbed down off the packing crate and walked over
to the corner of the barn, where we keep our safe. He spun the dial quickly and
opened the heavy door. Then he reached inside and brought out a little remote
control box for a TV set.
"Wait a minute!" Jeff cried. "Charlie and Dinky, get the window
and I pulled the shades down on all four windows, and Mortimer put the crossbar
up to barricade the door. Then Homer pointed the remote control box at the peak
of the barn roof and pressed one of the buttons. The rope ladder, coiled at the
peak of the roof, popped open and the weighted end of it plopped to the floor.
Homer walked over and climbed slowly up it until he had reached the huge
crossbeam that buttresses the roof just over the packing crate. He flung
himself over the beam and shinnied along it to the point where it joined with
one of the roof stringers. There he flipped another switch and our cashbox,
dangling on the end of a fine steel cable, was lowered gently to the top of the
packing crate in front of Jeff. Jeff got up and walked to the safe, drew the
cashbox key from it, and held it up for everyone to see. Then he returned to
his chair, turned the key in the lock of the cashbox, and looked up at Homer.