CHAPTER I HIT BY A WHALE
"How about a race to the dock, Frank?"
"With whom, Andy?"
"Me, of course. I'll beat you there—loser to stand treat for the ice cream sodas. It's a hot day."
"Yes, almost too warm to do any speeding," and Frank Racer, a lad of fifteen, with a quiet look of determination on his face, rested on the oars of his skiff, and glanced across the slowly-heaving salt waves toward his brother Andy, a year younger.
"Oh, come on!" called Andy, with a laugh rippling over his tanned face."You're afraid I'll beat you."
"I am, eh?" and there was a grim tightening of the older lad's lips."Well, if you put it that way, here goes! Are you ready?"
"Just a minute," pleaded Andy, and he moved over slightly on his seat in order better to trim the boat. He took a tighter grip on the oars, and nodded toward his brother, still with that tantalizing smile on his face.
"Let her go!" he called a moment later, adding: "I can taste that chocolate soda now, Frank! Yum-yum!"
"Better save your breath for rowing," counseled Frank good-naturedly, as he bent to the ashen blades with a will.
The two boats—for each of the Racer lads had his own craft—were on a line, and were headed for a long dock that ran out into the quiet inlet of the Atlantic which washed the shores of the little settlement known as Harbor View, a fishing village about thirty miles from New York.
"Wow! Here's where I put it all over you by about six lengths!" boasted Andy Racer, paying no attention to his brother's well-meant advice, and then the two lads got into the swing of the oars, and the skiffs fairly leaped over the waves that rolled in long swells.
Both boys having spent nearly all their summer vacations at the coast resort, which was something of a residence place for summer colonists, as well as a fishing centre, were expert oarsmen, sturdy and capable of long exertion. They were nearly matched in strength, too, in spite of the difference in their ages. They had taken a long, leisurely row that summer morning and were on their way back when Andy proposed the race.
"Row! Row! Why don't you put some speed in your strokes, Frank?" called the younger brother.
"That's all right—you won't want to do any speeding by the time you get to the dock," and Frank glanced over his shoulder to where the public dock stretched out into the bay like some long water-snake. "It's nearly two miles there, and the swell is getting heavier."
Frank spoke quickly, and then relapsed into silence. It was characteristic of him to do whatever he did with all his might, while his more fun-loving brother sometimes started things and then left off, saying it was "too much trouble."
For a time Andy's skiff was in the lead, and then, as he found the exertion too much, he eased up in his strokes, and lessened the number of them.
"I thought you were going it a bit too heavy," remarked Frank, with a smile.
"Oh, you get out!" laughed Andy. "I'll beat you yet. But I like your company, that's why I let you catch up to me."
"Oh, yes!" answered Frank, half sarcastically....