“No, I am merely very curious,” replied Mr. Perry, with a smile.
“Oh, hurry up, Hal, and tell us what this means,” urged Cub impatiently. “What’s the use o’ keepin’ us guessing all this time. Bud and I’ll admit we’re mystified.”
“Yes,” grinned Mr. Perry; “you’d better hurry up and enlighten us, or I’ll have to drag the secret out of you with mathematics.”
“Addition or subtraction,” asked Hal.
“Extraction,” replied “the man who couldn’t be mystified” with significant emphasis on the “ex”.
Laughter followed this quip, the levity of which caused Hal to feel more like “loosening up”.
“Well,” said the latter, producing a small leather-back notebook from one of his pockets; “here is the secret of my information.”
“Where did you get that?” Cub demanded.
“I found it.”
“Yes, on this island. It’s a diary of my cousin, beginning with the time he was left here by a bunch of college hazers.”
“Does it give any hint where he is now, Hal?” inquired Mr. Perry.
“I don’t think so,” replied the boy with the notebook. “I ran my eye through it hurriedly, but didn’t have time to read it all. If you’ll sit down and listen, I’ll read it to you from the beginning.”
All being agreeable to this proposition, they seated themselves on camp chairs in front of the tent and Hal began as follows:
“First, I’ll begin by telling you where I found this book. I’ll take you back to the spot after I’ve finished reading. Before I found this book, I discovered a sign, or notice, written on a piece of paper and pinned to the trunk of a tree about four feet from the ground. On that paper was written with lead pencil these words under date of last Friday:
“’I Alvin Baker, a student at Edwards College, hereby name this island Friday island, because I was marooned here alone, like Robinson Crusoe, on Friday, June 9, 1922.’”
“I’d like to make the acquaintance of that boy,” said Mr. Perry warmly. “He has both imagination and a sense of humor in the midst of adversity.”
“Naturally I began to look about me for some trace of the person who had pinned the notice on the tree,” Hal continued. “I was standing in an open space about thirty feet in diameter. The tree on which this notice was pinned is at the edge of that space. There are a few small bushes here and there in the open, but the ground there is covered with long coarse grass. The first thing that attracted my attention, as I began to look about me was the fact that the grass was trampled down over a considerable area. I examined it carefully and while doing so found this notebook in the grass. It didn’t take me long after that to reach the conclusion that Cousin Alvin had been attacked by somebody and in the struggle lost this notebook out of his pocket.”
“It was probably the four ugly looking men he said were coming ashore when he sent his last distress message to us,” Cub inferred.