When he reached the ladder it was bathed in light. Nick was pointing a shaft of dazzling brightness downward. It revealed spiders and split rungs on the ladder and all the litter at its foot. All the rotting framework of the place and all the disorder were drawn into the light of day. A pile of old law books became radiant, dry and dull as they were.
“We’ve got it,” called Nick, “hurry up, this blamed thing will reach to the isle of Yap. What’s S? Wait, I’ll give ’em the high sign first.”
A long, dusty column swept across the dark sky.
“Attention everybody,” said Nick. “What’s S?”
“Three dots,” said Norton.
“Three flashes it is. How’s that? I’m forgetting my A, B, C’s. What’s T?”
“Is three seconds long enough?”
“Three for dashes and one for dots.”
The long column swung slowly to right, then slowly back to left again, then slowly back to right.
“P’s a hard one; here goes.” “Good for you, some handwriting.”
In five minutes or less, Nick had sprawled across the open page of the heavens the words, “STOP BLUE CAR 50792 EAGLE ON FRONT.” He paused about half a minute then repeated the message.
That long, accusing arm crossed stars as it swayed and flashed. It filled the limitless sky like a rainbow. A giant spectre it was, swaying in the unknown depths, crossing clouds, and piercing realms of darkness, and speaking to those who could understand. A sick child, somewhere or other, saw it, and the watchful mother carried the little one to a window the better to see this strange visitant.
“It’s a search-light,” she said. But to them it had no meaning. A merry party returning home in the wee hours paused and watched it curiously but it spoke to them not. At Knapp’s Crossroads they saw it, just as the harvest festival was breaking up, and Hank Sparker and Sophia Coyson lingered on their way home to watch it. But it spoke not their language.
Did it speak to any one, this voice calling in the dark? Did any one understand it? Were there no telegraph operators in any of the stations along the line? They would understand. Was there no one?
PAGE TWO HUNDRED AND EIGHTY-FOUR
If Pee-wee had stolen a glimpse from the buffalo robe at about the time that he was writing under difficulties his momentous message to the world, he might have noticed a little old-fashioned house nestling among the trees along the roadside.
At that time the house was dark save for a lamp-light in a little window up under the eaves. Little the speeding hero knew that up in that tiny room there sat a boy engrossed with the only scout companion that he knew, and that was the scout handbook. It had come to him by mail a few days before.