The Treasure of Squeaky Toy Island
Squeaky Toy Light loomed up over the horizon. Within minutes, they could see the great bivalve lens spin above their heads. But there was no time for sightseeing. Their actual objective was just south of the great lighthouse.
A pair of red lights caught their eyes. Speedy looked between them, and then upward until he saw a green light. Checking his paw watch, he said, “If we get in within the next fifteen minutes, we'll be safe.”
Captain Snoopy turned to Bowsun Frankie, and said, “Have ye got the thingy that makes the noise?”
Frankie held up his wooden whistle, and said, “Aye, Cap'n.”
“When I hold up me paw, give the first blow. But softly.”
“We're on final approach to the main ship channel”, Speedy said.
“Put the helm midships and lash her down.”
“Aye, Cap'n. Bear a paw, laddies and lassies!”
Speedy looked forward, and said, “Half astern!”
“Half astern!”, Coccolino replied.
The engines wound down, and the wake died away.
Easy noticed the sudden quiet, and said, “What's going on, Skipper?”
Ernie pointed towards the shore, and said, “He's trying to slow them down for the channel. He just cut his engine, and he's gonna reverse it to bring her to a stop.”
Ernie was right. Within seconds, the water started churning in the opposite direction. Ernie kept an eye on the big ship, and said, “Watch that heavin' line. We don't want too much slack.”
“Sure thing Skipper.”
Speedy watched the shoreline approaching, and said, “Dead Slow Ahead!”
“Dead Slow Ahead”, Coccolino answered.
The wake disappeared once again, and this time there was very little churning as they moved forward. By now, the dark form of an open railroad bascule bridge loomed up in front of them. Captain Snoopy smiled, and held up his paw.
Frankie inhaled, and softly blew one long blast with the wooden whistle. He then blew a second long blast, a short one, and another long.
He panted a few times, and said, “How was that, Cap'n.?”
“Fine, lad, just fine. When we're closer, I want you to give a louder sound, with the very same signal.”
Speedy leaned over the bulwark, and said, “Give me one prolonged blast of the whistle.”
The blast of a steam horn filled the air. Speedy leaned over again, and said, “Now a short blast.”
Coccolino obliged. A second later, the same signal was blasted out on a loud air horn.
Captain Snoopy smiled, and said, “This is it, lads and lassies!”
Speedy looked up at the bridge, and said, “Get that helm amidships, and meet her as we pass through the channel.”
“Aye, sir”, Coccolino replied.
“And keep her on dead slow ahead!”
On the platform of the bridge operators cabin, with fur nearly as red as the lights on the bridge fenders, Walter was keeping an eye on the vessels approaching. He didn't notice Frankie put the wooden whistle back in his mouth. But he was sure he had just heard the whistle of a distant train.
Not daring to leave his post while a ship was passing beneath the bridge, he called through the open door, “Millie, do you see any trains coming?”
Millie flipped the light switch on the model board, and said, “No circuits are down.”
“I thought I heard a train whistle for the crossing.”
“If there was a train at the last crossing, we'd hear it for sure. It must be too far away yet.”
Millie then shut off the lights, and came out to join Walter. Walter momentarily gazed up the tracks to where he thought the sound had come from. He didn't see anything, but he was sure he had heard something, not once, but twice. And the second time was definitely louder than the first.
Noticing Walter's concern, Millie said, “The board was clear.”
“Right, but it was rainy tonight. Those rails could be covered with sand, and we could lose the shunt. As soon as this ship clears, we need to drop the bridge.”
Millie nodded, then waved to Coccolino as the prow passed under the bridge. At that moment, Captain Snoopy said, “Stand by, and when I give the signal, give it all you got.”
Speedy had moved forward by this time, and as they passed the operator's cabin, he leaned down and said, “As soon as their stern clears the bridge fender, head her straight into the main ship channel, and bring her up to slow ahead.”
Walter and Millie watched and waved as the stern passed the platform, and Frankie took a deep breath. As soon as their stern was clear, he blew the whistle as hard as he could.”
“Oh my dog!”, Millie shouted. You were right! “
Ernie and Easy were standing on the bow of their longship, fighting back drool. Their weapons were laid out on deck, and their sacks were ready to be filled with squeaky plunder. Or so they thought.
Easy watched the Rawhide pass into the main ship channel, and he felt the towline pull taught. Still drooling, he said, “Looks like smooth sailing now, Skipper.”
“Aye. Little do they know.................”
Suddenly, five short blast of an air horn ripped through the solace of the night. Nervously, Easy said, “What's going on, skipper?”
Before Ernie could answer, a huge sign near the bridge lit up “Caution! Caution! Caution!”
The horn sounded again, and again Easy said, “What's happening?”
This time, their worst fears were confirmed. The message on the sign changed to: “Caution! Bridge coming down!”
But that wasn't the worst of it. On the other side of the bridge, Speedy had just put the steam launch on Half Ahead. Ernie looked at the bridge, watched the towline stretch out, and yelled, “Get the hatchet! Now!”
But the worst was yet to come. Suddenly, a bright light shone on them, and a voice shouted, “This is the Coast Guard! Wienerking longship throttle down and stand by to be boarded!”
Ernie grabbed a battle axe, and struck a hard blow. The towline snapped like a rubber band, flying away into the darkness. Ernie and Easy were knocked to the deck.
It was then that they heard a motor speeding up. It was followed immediately by the blare of a siren.