“Did you get that?” he shouted.
“No,” replied Bud and Hal, in chorus, springing forward.
Cub was tuning excitedly back and forth about a certain, or uncertain, wave length, which he had lost.
“Put on your ’phones,” he said, putting on his own. “You may not get it through the horn. I’m sure I got an Sos, very faint. I’m going to try to get it again.”
Bud and Hal did as directed and listened with quite as much eagerness as that which was evident in Cub’s manner. Several minutes elapsed before the search was rewarded. Then at last, in fairly distinct, although faint, vibrations came the distress signal again. All three heard it, and this time Cub caught the wave “on the knob” and did not let it go.
The operator sending the distress signal was evidently pleading desperately for attention, which nobody, it seemed, was willing to give to him. Several times he repeated his Sos, following each repetition with his own private call and wave length. Then he broadcast the following message in explanation of his appeal for help:
“I am marooned on island in Lake of Thousand Isles. I landed here from a motor boat with wireless outfit. Lake thieves stole my boat and left me here with outfit and little food. Will starve in few days if I don’t get help. My call is V A X.”
“Cracky!” exclaimed Bud excitedly. “Isn’t that a thriller! He’s an amateur and in trouble. We’re in honor bound to help him.”
“How?” demanded Cub derisively. “What can we do here nearly two hundred miles away from him?”
“We might get word to some police or lake patrol that’ll go and take him off,” Hal suggested.
“He’s a Canadian,” objected Cub. “Didn’t you get his Canadian call? We’d have the time of our life getting a Government station to pay any attention to us hams. But listen, somebody’s calling him.”
All three listened-in eagerly, expectantly, wonderingly. Apparently this fellow also was a Canadian amateur, although he failed to identify himself.
“Oh, come off, you can’t get by with that Robinson Crusoe stuff in this twentieth century,” he “jeered” with all the pep he could put into his spark. “Some joke you’re trying to play. What kind of publicity stunt is this, anyway?”
“No publicity,” was “Crusoe’s” reply. “I’ll starve if I don’t get help. You’re doing your best to kill me. Keep out, I won’t talk to you any more.”
“I will not keep out,” declared the other. “You’re an imposter. I’m protecting the public.”
“Whew!” ejaculated Cub, wiping his brow and snapping over the aerial switch. “I’m going to find out something about this.”
A moment later his right hand was working the sending key with the speed and skill of an expert, while blue flames leaped over the gap with spiteful alphabetic spits. Hal and Bud watched him eagerly, and, with a skill indicating long and studied practice, read the message their lanky friend shot through the ether.