“Oh!” shouted his crony, Sandy Hollingshead, standing there as if petrified; “and Puss can’t swim a single stroke, either!”
“My goodness, what a splash!”
“Served him right, that’s what!”
“He’s gone under, fellows! Dove just like a big frog!”
“Stop the boat! He’ll drown!”
Half a dozen were shouting in unison, as the boys crowded to the side over which the bully had pitched when Frank avoided his forward rush.
But Frank heard only that startled exclamation from Sandy Hollingshead:
“Puss can’t swim a single stroke, either!”
With Frank Bird to think was to act. The two things were almost synonymous in his mind. Forgotten was the fact that the imperiled lad had been endeavoring to strike him in the face at the time of his submersion in the waters of Sunrise Lake.
Not a single word did he utter, but throwing off his coat, he made a leap over the side of the boat, already slowing up as the power was cut off.
“Frank’s gone back after him!” cried one.
“And he’ll get him, too,” another hastened to say; for they understood that when the leader of the team known as the “Bird boys” attempted anything he usually got there, as some of them said “with both feet.”
Meanwhile Frank was swimming with all his might toward the spot in the foamy wake of the boat, where he knew the unfortunate Puss must be battling for his life.
It seems strange that occasionally a boy may be found who has never taken the trouble to learn how to swim. In the country this is a rare occurrence; which would make the neglect of such an athletic fellow as Puss seem more remarkable.
He was threshing about in the deep water like a cat that has fallen overboard; and managing to keep partly afloat after a fashion; though it would have been all over with him long ere the power boat could be turned around and arrive at the spot where he struggled, gasping for breath, and sucking in much water.
Frank was wise enough to understand that it is always desirable to approach a drowning person from the rear, so that a grip may be taken before the would-be rescuer’s presence is discovered. Once let those frenzied fingers clutch hold of him, and the chances of a double tragedy would be good.
So Frank was keenly on the watch as he swam toward the splashing and gurgling that announced Puss Carberry’s fight for his life.
He could see him by now, and never would Frank be apt to forget the look of absolute terror he discovered upon the agonized face of the bully. Puss had detected the presence of some one near by, and was trying to shout, as well as stretch his appealing hands out, though not with much success.
He actually went under while Frank looked; and the heart of the would-be rescuer almost stood still with a terrible fear that that was the end.