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RED CIRCLE STORY: This episode, taken from The Hotspur issue: 740 January 13th 1951



Alan Reader, a Red Circle Second Former, was among the eight boys from school who were plodding along the road in dim moonlight. On one side soared jutting crags and fir-covered slopes. On the other glinted the waters of Loch Boyne—a new loch created by a dam as part of the hydro-electric scheme on the Isle of Arra. As the island was divided from the mainland of Scotland only by a narrow channel, power was easily transmitted to the grid. “How much farther is it, Rob?” growled Ginger Robertson. “About two miles,” said Rob Roy MacGregor, the Captain of Home House. “You ought never to have lured me out,” stormed Numb Ned Newton. “I’d never have come along if I’d thought the bus was going to break down.” The lads had been to the island’s one cinema in the little town of Mainport. They were having to walk back to Boyne Castle, the home of MacGregor’s uncle where they were spending part of the Christmas holidays, because the back axel of the small local bus had broken.


MacGregor, wearing his kilt, strode along with Ginger and Numb Ned. The other Homer, Young Butch, was between Spike Dewey, Captain of Yank House, and Chris Tansley, the New Zealand Captain of the Conks. Alan was the rearguard along with his energetic pal, Busty Parker, also a Second Former. Alan gazed out across the man-made loch. MacGregor had told them that the village of Boyne had been submerged and that sometimes the top of the church steeple could be seen. The waters were shadowy and sullen in the moonlight till away on the far side, he saw a swirl. Alan halted abruptly.

“What’s that?” he yelled as a dim object swept along ahead of the swirl. “Great gosh, it looks like a head,” gasped Ginger. It was an eerie sight to see the “heads,” as Ginger had described it, moving silently along at a considerable speed. Nobody broke the tense hush until it vanished in a deep patch of shadow cast by a cliff. Chris looked at MacGregor. “Mac, have you a monster in the loch?” he asked. “I’ve never heard a whisper about a monster, though the folk around here are pretty superstitious,” MacGregor answered. “Well there’s no doubt there was something there, something huge,” Alan was saying when footsteps were heard. Along the road towards them, coming into sight round a great buttress of rock, walked a tall, gaunt man. The boys recognised him. They had seen him fishing. He was staying at the inn near the castle and MacGregor believed his name was Ressick. “Did you see it?” Ginger blurted out. “Eh? What are you talking about?” asked Ressick gruffly. “Well, it seems a bit ridiculous, but we think we’ve seen a monster,” Young Butch said. Ressick’s taciturn expression gave way to a smile as he heard the story. “I should say that what you saw was a drifting log—or even a tree,” he said. “It was moving too fast for that,” MacGregor answered. Ressick looked out across the loch. “It must have been a trick of the moonlight,” he replied. “Mind you, I don’t say there isn’t a monster in Loch Ness. I believe that myself—but this is a new loch. The dam was only finished a matter of three or four years ago, so where would a monster come from?” “If it hadn’t been moving so fast, I might have said it was a tree,” MacGregor muttered. “There are some pretty fast currents in the loch,” Ressick answered. “I can tell you that because I’ve encountered them when I’ve been out in a boat.” He gave a nod in farewell and walked on. The boys watching the water, resumed their trek. A mile or so farther on they reached the spot where the glen narrowed and the dam, gleaming white in the moonlight, stretched across. The boys went down the steep slope to the riverbank and after another half-mile, saw dim lights burning in the windows of the inn and the cluster of adjoining houses. They walked through the hamlet and came to the gateway leading to the small castle. A log fire was spurting and crackling in the great hearth in the hall. Mr Thomas MacGregor, the Home House Captain’s uncle, a burly man of rather over middle-age, welcomed the belated boys with a smile. “Has our bus broken down again?” he chuckled. “Yes, Uncle Tom. The back axle went this time,” MacGregor said. “Well, your walk will have given you an appetite for supper,” replied Mr MacGregor. “We’ve something to tell you first,” his nephew exclaimed. “We think we’ve seen a monster.” Mr MacGregor listened keenly as they described the incident. “I can’t agree with the monster theory, as the loch has only been there a few years,” he said. “No, I expect it was a tree.” “Well, there’s a way of making sure,” Rob Roy stated. “We’ll have a look in the morning and see if a tree or a big log has drifted into the boom.” “Boom?” Alan exclaimed. “Surely you’ve seen the cable slung across the water above the dam,” Rob Roy said. Oh, yes,” Alan replied, “but I didn’t know it was a boom.” “It’s there to stop debris reaching the dam,” Mr MacGregor explained. “The boom stops trees and logs, and later on they’re towed away.”




It was nearly ten o’clock. Alan couldn’t help yawning. He was about ready for bed, but Busty demanded another game of draughts. The sudden clang of the door bell was as startling as if a thunderflash had gone off in the hall. “Who’s come at this time of night?” MacGregor exclaimed. “Well, it won’t be the milkman,” said Ginger. MacGregor crossed the hall and lifted the latch. As he hauled open the door Mr M’Pherson, the landlord of the inn, entered. Mr MacGregor came out of the library.

“Why what’s the matter, M’Pherson?” he asked. “It’s our Maggie,” said M’Pherson hoarsely. “She’s just home from nightclasses in Mainport.” He was talking about his daughter, a girl of about eighteen. “She was coming down the road on her bicycle, Laird, when just past the Eagle Rock she heard groans down at the side o’ the road. Well, she’s just a lassie and it gave her a bad fright. She got home just as fast as she could ride.” “Then she didn’t look down the bank?” Mr MacGregor exclaimed. “No, she was too scared,” was the answer. “What I’m wondering is if Mr Ressick has met with an accident.” “We saw him not far from the Eagle Rock,” MacGregor chipped in. “Aye, he said he’d take a walk after his supper and he hasn’t come back,” said M’Pherson. “Nice gentleman he is too. He’s down from London for a holiday.” “I think we’d better form a search party, Rob,” rapped out Mr MacGregor. There was a rush by the boys to get their caps and coats. MacGregor told them to bring torches. Even Numb Ned bestirred himself and was in the party that hurried down from the castle and took the road along the bank of Loch Boyne. Alan knew that Eagle Rock was the name of a lofty cliff round the base of which ran the road. The moon was misty and visibility was not so good as when they were out before. Under the shadow cast by the cliff they stopped. They were about ten feet above the loch and separated from it by a shelving bank. MacGregor peered down. “Can’t hear anything,” he muttered, “but this must be the place Maggie meant.” Young Butch shone his torch upwards and a startled gasp broke from him. “Look at the tree,” he exclaimed. A fir tree close to the bank, was leaning over like a broken twig. Except for a few shreds of bark and splinters it had been snapped through near the base. Alan switched on his torch and shone it downwards. His startled cry drew fresh attention. It looked as if something of immense weight had dragged itself through the broken crushed bushes. In the mud was a huge slithery mark. Busty peered across the loch. “After what we saw it makes you think,” he muttered. “Listen!” Alan gasped. “I think there’s somebody down there.” In the hush the boys heard the noise of hoarse breathing. MacGregor headed downwards off the road with the other skidding after him. Alan saw the beam of MacGregor’s torch light up the sprawling figure of a man. “It’s Mr Ressick,” MacGregor called out. “He’s coming round I think.” Mr MacGregor peered down at the confused bump on Ressick’s forehead. “He’s had a dour dint,” he said. “Help me to get him up, Rob. I wish I’d thought to bring the car but when we’ve got him up to the road and sat him down on the bank. Mr MacGregor hurried away to get the car. “Can you tell us what happened?” Ginger blurted out. “I can’t remember walking along the road and that’s all,” said Ressick feebly. “What hit me and how I got down to the edge of the loch I don’t know.” Mr MacGregor was soon back with the shooting-brake. Ressick had sufficiently recovered to get into the vehicle himself and thanked them all for coming to his assistance. “I’ll be all right after I’ve had a night’s sleep,” he said. Busty gave a solemn shake of the head. “I think the monster had something to do with it,” he exclaimed. “Mr Ressick might have been hit on the head when the tree was fetched down.” “We’ll come back and have a real good look round in the morning,” said MacGregor. “There’s something fishy going on.” “I guess fishy is the right word, pal,” Spike declared.




On a grey, damp morning the boys rowed across the loch in one of Mr MacGregors’s boats to inspect the boom. About four hundred yards from the dam the cable stretched the full width of the loch. “Umph,” snorted Numb Ned. “The floating tree theory is wrong. There’s isn’t a sign of a tree.” Except for twigs and a plank or two, there was nothing caught by the boom. “I never thought it was a tree,” Alan exclaimed. “It was moving too quickly.” MacGregor turned to Alan, who was at the tiller. “Bring the boat round, Alan,” he said. “We’ll head for Eagle Rock now.” Alan did as he was told and the oarsmen, goaded on by Numb Ned’s remarks, propelled the boat at a fair speed. The old church steeple was showing above the water and, as he was rather curious. Alan steered the boat towards it. Seeing the steeple gave Ginger an idea. He had always regarded himself as pretty good at “hoop-la” and he thought it might be a bit of a lark if he “capped” the steeple. Not with his own headgear, of course, but with Numb Ned’s, which happened to be lying on the seat. Before Numb Ned could move his cap was flying through the air. Ginger’s aim was pretty accurate and Ned gave a howl of dismay when he saw his cap land perfectly on the steeple point. Everybody thought it was very funny—everybody, that is, except Numb Ned. The boat was brought alongside the steeple, and muttering under his breath, the Fourth Former climbed on to a ledge and started mountaineering for his cap. Numb Ned stopped muttering and began yelling blue murder when the boys left him marooned. Five minutes later, however, they yielded to his pleas and he was taken aboard again. After Ned had accused them of being the worst set of double-crossing sea-sick sailors, MacGregor was able to get a word in. “We’ll get along to the Eagle Rock now,” he said. “Will the police have been?” Ginger asked. “There’s only one policeman on the island—old Sergeant Campbell,” said MacGregor as they stepped out. “Uncle is going to have another talk with Mr Ressick before ringing him up.” Moisture was dripping from the trees and the rocks glistened damply when the boys tied up their boat and hurried along the road to Eagle Rock. Alan was among the first who went slithering down the bank. He was close to the spot where they had found Ressick when MacGregor gave a surprised whistle. “Look at these footprints,” he exclaimed. He pointed down at footprints left in the mud at the edge of the water. They ended just where they had found the man lying. “I’ll follow ‘em along and see where they started,” volunteered Chris. The other boys watched the New Zealander picking his way along the side of the loch for about fifty yards. Then he turned and climbed the bank to the road. “That’s where they began,” he called out as he ran back. “I reckon Ressick must have made those footprints himself,” Young Butch muttered. “If he did he’s a blooming liar,” said Ginger. “He told us he was walking down the road when something hit him.” “He didn’t exactly say that,” Alan blurted out. “He said the last thing he remembered was walking along the road.” “Yes, he might have forgotten. A smack on the napper can play tricks with the memory,” said Young Butch. “Just the same, he was down here,” muttered MacGregor, “and it was here he must have been hit on the head.” “Well, look how near he was to the water,” Busty piped out. “The monster would have found it easier to get at him.” Alan’s gaze was attracted by a gleam of metal. He stooped down and picked something up. “What have you found, Alan!” MacGregor demanded. “A wrist watch!” Alan said. The wrist watch he passed to MacGregor was a bit larger than the average and had a substantial steel case. The strap was a metal jointed strip and it was this that had broken clean through. “Ressick’s?” MacGregor muttered. “No,” Chris rapped out. “Ressick was still wearing a wrist watch when we found him. I felt it when I got hold of his wrist to help him up. MacGregor gave an expressive sniff. “This gets fishier,” he exclaimed. “First of all Ressick wasn’t on the road when he got his bump and, second, somebody else was here.” “The man who biffed him?” Young Butch asked.




Mr MacGregor was in front of the castle when the boys got back. He was just going to get into the shooting-brake as he was going out to his farm, ten miles distant. “I’ve seen Mr Ressick and he’s up and about,” he told them.

“He doesn’t want a fuss made about the incident, but I thought Sergeant Campbell should know. I rang up his house, but he’s on the mainland. Have you made any more discoveries?” His intent expression showed his interest as MacGregor told him the results of their investigations. “I’d like to get to the bottom of the business,” he said. “I must go to the farm, but as soon as I get back we’ll go into things again.” Mr MacGregor drove away and the boys were driven into the castle by heavy spots of rain that fast increased to a downpour. They had been talking of the mystery for about half an hour when the sound of a motor engine was heard. “Is your uncle back already?” Chris asked. MacGregor went to the window. “No,” he said, for it was a small, battered car that was drawing up at the door. A young man with a sweater under his coat got out and made a dash through the rain to the steps. MacGregor went and opened the door. “Come in,” he said. A gruff voice spoke from the car. “I’ll come in, too, if you don’t mind.” Exclaimed a brawny fellow. “The blarmed roof’s leaking.” “My name’s Ian Craig,” said the young man who had come to the door first. Though his name was Scottish he spoke with a Canadian accent. “This is my friend, George Grant.” The brawny man grinned and gave the boys a nod. “I’d like to speak to the Laird,” Craig went on. “I’m afraid uncle’s away,” MacGregor stated. “I’m his nephew if that’s any help.” Craig hesitated. “I’ll tell you what it is,” he said with a smile. “I’m over here on a vacation from Canada and my ancestors came from Boyne.” “The village that’s been submerged,” exclaimed MacGregor. Craig gave a nod. “That’s right,” he said. “I’m rather interested in the village and I would have liked a talk with Mr MacGregor about it. Have you any pictures or a map of the place?” “There’s an old map,” said MacGregor. He crossed the hall and fetched down a framed map of the area. It was from a steel engraving and had been made many years before. “Come and have a look at it, George,” Craig exclaimed. “It sure seems a pity I can’t look round the old place.” Grant crossed to the table and had a look at the map. “Aye, there’s the kirk and the manse,” he said. Craig glanced at MacGregor. “I’d like this map as a souvenir,” he exclaimed. “D’you think your uncle would think of selling it?” “I doubt if he would,” MacGregor replied. Grant was still poring over the map. His left hand was resting on the table. Alan held his breath excitedly. His gaze was on Grant’s wrist. The skin was brown and weatherbeaten except for a lighter, encircling mark, a mark just about the width of the strap on the wrist watch Alan had found. Alan did not know whether to say anything or not. He decided against it. Craig said he could not stay but would probably come back to have a talk with Mr MacGregor. Alan told the boys about the strap mark the moment Craig and Grant had gone. “I didn’t know whether to ask him or not,” he added. “I think you did right to keep quiet,” MacGregor muttered. “It’s a clue to something, but I’m dashed if I know what.” “Maybe Grant knocked Ressick out,” Young Butch said. “There may be something in that,” replied MacGregor. The visit gave the lads plenty to talk about. At a quarter to one Mrs MacGregor called them into the dining-room for dinner. The meal was halfway through when Mr MacGregor came in. He walked to the table and pulled back his chair. Then he glanced questioningly at his nephew. “Have you moved that old map in the hall, Rob?” he asked. MacGregor gave a start. “I had it down this morning,” he replied, “but I put it back.” Mr MacGregor frowned. “It isn’t there now,” he said brusquely. The boys jumped up and rushed from the room. They might have taken Mr MacGregor’s word for it, but they wanted to look for themselves. The space on the wall where the map had hung was vacant. Mr MacGregor listened grimly to the story of the morning’s visitors. “They must have slipped back and helped themselves to the map,” he snapped. “All right! As soon as I’ve had a bite, we’ll follow those light-fingered gentlemen to Mainport.” Twenty minutes later the boys piled into the shooting-brake, and Mr MacGregor drove cautiously down the hill into the little harbour town of Mainport. It was for the Harbour Hote., a stone two-storeyed building that Mr MacGregor headed. Mrs M’Phee, the proprietrix, bustled into the hall. “Have you two guests staying here of the name of Craig and Grant?” Mr MacGregor asked. “They have been staying here, Laird, but they’ve gone. Was the answer. “They had their dinner here and then paid their bill. I saw them set out for the mainland in their motor-boat.” “Thieving rascals,” growled Mr MacGregor. “How long have they been staying here?” “Mr Craig was here a week,” said Mrs M’Phee. “I thought he was a very nice young man. He came from Toronto, he told me. His friend Mr Grant, was here only a couple of days.” “I’ll borrow your phone Mrs M’Phee,” exclaimed Mr MacGregor. “I’ll ring the police on the other side and have those rascals questioned.”




The boys were in the hall that night when Mr MacGregor came out of the library. They had heard his phone ring a few minutes beforehand. “It’s more of a puzzle than ever,” he said. “The police have just been through from Rocksea.” He named the town on the other side. “Craig and Grant haven’t landed on the mainland. The coastguards were warned to look out for them as well. They haven’t been seen.” “Then perhaps they’ve come back to Mainport,” MacGregor exclaimed. Mr MacGregor shook his head. “They haven’t come back. I’ve just rung up the harbourmaster,” he said. He went back into the library, for he had work to do. He left the boys looking thoughtful. MacGregor's eyes gleamed. “D’you know what I think?” he exclaimed. “I think they only pretended to go away. They could have left the harbour and then slipped back on to the island. There are plenty of coves and inlets where they could have landed. Ginger was by the window. “It’s moonlight,” he said. “How about a monster hunt?” “What are you going to hunt it with—a harpoon?” asked Numb Ned. “We’ll go out,” decided MacGregor, “but we won’t be on the loch side. We’ll climb to the top of the cliffs. We’ll get a better view from up there.” Half an hour or so later the boys approached the edge of the cliffs near Eagle Rock from inland. They stood on their lofty lookout and started across the loch. Time dragged and Young Butch started to stamp his feet. Alan jerked his head round. “Listen,” he exclaimed tensely and then, to the ears of them all came the putter of a motor-boat engine. A boat propelled by an outboard engine nosed into view. It came forging slowly along just below them. Spike pointed to the man who was crouching in the stern. “Say that’s Ressick,” he muttered. “What’s he got on his head?” “Phones,” Alan said excitedly. “Earphones…” The words were hardly out of his mouth when Ressick shoved at the tiller and swung the boat out towards the middle of the loch. “Gosh, what’s he doing now?” MacGregor shouted. Ressick stood up in the boat. He lifted his arms high and seemed to be holding a small cask, or something of that size, in his hands. He hurled the object away and it entered the water with a splash. Simultaneously he kicked the helm hard over and the boat swerved away. A fountain of water erupted from the loch and the muffled detonation of an explosion below the surface was followed by a tremor that shook the cliff. “My stars,” Young Butch gasped, “it was a depth charge.” “What’s he trying to kill? The monster?” gulped Busty. MacGregor’s voice was hoarse with excitement. “Monster be hanged,” he rapped out. “You use depth charges for hunting submarines!”



Has Rob Roy hit upon the solution to

Ressisk’s strange behaviour?

Is there a submarine in the loch?


This episode, taken from The Hotspur issue: 741 January 20th 1951



The fountain thrown up from Loch Boyne by the depth charge subsided, but the spray caught by the wind, carried far. Alan Reader, a Red Circle Second Former, felt spots of water on his face as he crouched with seven other boys on the top of a cliff overlooking the loch—formed when a dam was built for the hydro-electric scheme on the Isle of Arra.

Strange things had taken place on the island since the eight boys, led by Rob Roy MacGregor, Captain of Home House, had arrived to spend the Christmas holidays with Rob Roy’s uncle at his castle.

A few nights before, the boys had had a glimpse of what appeared to be a monster in the loch. Then, later on the same night, Mr Ressick, a visitor to the island and staying at a nearby inn, had been found unconscious by the side of the loch, several yards from the road. When Ressick had recovered he could throw no light on the matter and said the last thing he remembered was walking along the road. Near where he had been found, a tree had been snapped off at it’s base, and in the mud there was a large slithery mark, as if something had crawled into or out of the loch. The mystery had deepened when an old map of Boyne village, now submerged in the loch, had been stolen from the castle, presumably by two Canadians, Ian Craig and George Grant, who earlier had had a look at it. All efforts to trace the two men had failed. Despite the fact that Rob Roy’s uncle had pointed out that the presence of a monster was unlikely—the loch was manmade and only a few years old—the boys had taken advantage of a moonlight night to go on a monster hunt. From the cliff-top they had seen a man in a small boat hurl a depth charge into the loch. The man who had thrown the depth charge turned his boat, with its outboard motor, towards the bank. He was soon in the shadows, but the boys had already identified him in the misty moonlight as Mr Ressick. The last they saw of him was as he was staring back towards the scene of the explosion. Then he was lost to view in the shadows and the sound of the outboard motor died quickly away as he made off. Rob Roy shouted hoarsely and pointed. There was a swirl in the loch and clouds of bubbles were breaking from the surface. “There it is!” yelled Alan as a dark object rose from the loch. “It—it is a submarine,” gasped his pal, Busty Parker, who hitherto had been the firmest believer in a monster inhabiting the loch. The boys had no more than a glimpse of a small, curved conning-tower and hull rising in a swelter of foam. Almost instantly it went under. It came up a second time and then made another plunge. “Gosh, it’s in trouble,” exclaimed Young Butch. “Let’s get down,” MacGregor rapped out. “We’re doing no good up here. Careful how you go.” He led them to the edge of the cliff. From there a precipitous path zig-zagged down the rock to the road just above water level. The Home House Captain led the way, followed by Young Butch. Ginger Robertson and Numb Ned Newton, who was no longer complaining about being dragged out, were next in the file. Spike Dewey and Chris Tansley, the Captains of the Yanks and Conks, started the perilous descent. Alan and Busty were last. MacGregor went slithering down the last few feet. He strode across the road and heard splashes. The other boys saw him run a short distance down the road and then plunge into the bushes on the bank. Footsteps clattered on the road as they chased after him. Alan went slithering down the bank to the water’s edge and gave an astonished cry. Two men in what seemed to be tight fitting oilskins were struggling to get to the bank. The bigger of the pair was doing his best to hold up his companion, whose head was lolling limply. “Well, we know who they are,” Ginger gasped. “They’re Ian Craig and George Grant—the chaps who called at the castle and pinched the old map,” Chris exclaimed. George Grant stumbled. “Give me a hand,” he called out hoarsely. “I’m about done in.” MacGregor, who was wearing his kilt dashed into the loch. Chris whipped off his shoes and was close behind him. The boys got hold of Craig, whose eyes were glazed, and carried him towards the bank. Grant was then able to get along by himself. Breathing hoarsely, he splashed out of the water. “How far out is your submarine?” Alan exclaimed. Grant apparently saw Alan’s lips move, for he shook his head. “It’s no use talking to me, lad,” he said. “Just now I can’t hear a thing. The explosion deafened me.” MacGregor looked down at Craig. “We’ll have to get help,” he said. “Somebody run and tell uncle what’s happened and ask him to come down in the car.” Alan and Busty volunteered to go and fetch Mr MacGregor.





An hour later George Grant sat in front of the fire in the castle. He had stripped off his oilskins and was wearing a seaman’s jersey and thick trousers. Craig was suffering from the effects of concussion and had been put to bed.

Grant, who was still finding hearing difficult, put a hand to his ear to listen to a question from Mr MacGregor. The boys, with intense curiosity in their expressions were grouped around. “Why did Ressick depth charge your submarine?” asked Rob Roy’s uncle. “So it was that murderous ruffian,” said Grant. “I guessed as much.” A brief grin appeared on his rugged face. “I’m glad I knocked him out cold last night.” “Then that’s what happened to Ressick,” Rob Roy exclaimed. “He was lying at the loch side—spying,” growled Grant. “I happened to catch sight of him just before we hauled the submarine out of the loch, and I laid him out.” MacGregor spoke excitedly. “You were out in the submarine last night?” he exclaimed. “Maybe you can tell us what happened to that tree?” “Yeah,” said Grant. “We put the submarine together over on the mainland and sailed it across the channel when it was ready. We used a truck to get it over to Loch Boyne. During the day we kept the sub in the lorry in a cave. While we were bringing the sub out of the loch the tackle brought down the tree.” MacGregor frowned thoughtfully. “You only pretended to leave the island to-day,” he exclaimed. Grant nodded. “That’s right,” he said. “We wanted Ressick to think we’d gone.” “But you took my map with you and I’d like it back,” Mr MacGregor snapped sternly. There was no doubting the surprise that appeared on Grant’s face. “We never took your map, Laird,” he said. “Then who on earth did take it?” Mr MacGregor demanded. “I could name him,” Grant retorted. “It’d be Ressick. Probably he saw us come to the castle.” “That would be possible, uncle,” MacGregor exclaimed. Mr MacGregor shrugged. “We’re getting nowhere,” he said. “What’s at the bottom of it all?” Grant grinned. “It’s at the bottom of the lake,” he replied. “It’s Craig’s business, but I’ll tell you. I’m just giving him a hand. He was my officer when we were serving in submarines in the Canadian Navy during the war. Great guy he is, too.” Mr MacGregor raised a hand questioningly. “What are you striving to find in the loch?” he asked. Grant looked up. “A tombstone,” he said. “The tombstone of Ian Craig’s great grandfather, Alec Craig of Boyne.” The boys muttered excitedly at this unexpected answer, but Mr MacGregor was swift to fasten on to the implication. “Then it has to do with an inheritance?” he exclaimed. “You put your finger on it, Laird,” Grant answered. “The best part of a million dollars is concerned, a million dollars of which Ressick has hold—wrongly as we say. It goes a long way back, to a few hundred pounds left by Alec Craig’s uncle from which the fortune grew. Official records weren’t kept in those days. That’s why we have to find the tombstone to get the date of Alec Craig’s death.” “I see,” said Mr MacGregor, but Alan and Busty were exchanging puzzled looks. “Aye,” exclaimed Grant. “If Alec Craig died in 1850, as we claim, then he was alive to inherit his uncle’s estate. But if he died in 1848, as the Ressicks state, then he was dead before his uncle—and the money would belong to the Ressick branch of the family. There have been court cases without number, but the Ressicks have hung on to the fortune all these years.” “Do you get that, boys?” asked Mr MacGregor. “Presumably the uncle died in 1849?” “Yes, he died in Canada, in 1849,” said Grant. “He left his money to Alec Craig or, if he hadn’t survived him, to his cousin Donald Ressick.” “From whom this Ressick must be descended?” muttered Numb Ned. Grant nodded. “If ever there’s a miser he’s the daddy,” he growled. “He refused to lend Ian a couple of thousand dollars to start a business when he left the navy. It was that which started Ian inquiring into the inheritance business.” Mr MacGregor turned to his nephew. “We ought to keep an eye on Ressick,” he said. “See if he’s returned to the inn.” “I’ll come with you,” exclaimed Chris and followed MacGregor from the room. Young Butch had a question to ask. “Why didn’t you use frogmen’s kits?” he inquired. “We considered them but found out there are dangerous currents in the loch and, in places, it’s very deep,” Grant answered. “More than that, we’re submarine men. It was a rare little craft we made, fitted with a grapnel and an underwater searchlight. Now—” he clenched his big fists— “that skunk has sunk it. The water poured in like a sieve. We’re lucky to be alive.” “He doesn’t know you are alive,” Ginger exclaimed. “He raced off as soon as he’d thrown the depth charge.” Mr MacGregor pointed his pipe stem at Grant. “Where were you searching?” he demanded. “Round the sunken village,” was the answer. “You were in the wrong place,” said Mr MacGregor. “Alec Craig was buried in the Old Kirkyard—a mile to the north. I’ve seen his tombstone.” Craig pushed himself up. “Can you remember the date on it?” he demanded hoarsely. “Can you remember the date?” There was a tense hush which ended when Mr MacGregor shook his head. “No,” he said. “No! It’s not the kind of thing you do remember. In any case, you’ll need the stone as proof. Word-of-mouth evidence wouldn’t be sufficient.” MacGregor and Chris soon made a breathless return. “Ressick’s gone,” reported MacGregor. “Mr M’Pherson says he’s packed up and gone. Said he had urgent business in London.”




Alan was in the castle courtyard in the morning throwing a ball against the wall and catching it, when Busty came fizzing out in his energetic way. “Mr Craig is downstairs,” he reported. “He’s much better. Alan caught the ball and held it.

“What are they going to do now?” he asked. “They’re going to have a council-of-war when Mr Craig has had his breakfast.” Stated Busty. “Mr MacGregor has been talking to Mainport on the phone. No one seems to know if Ressick crossed to the mainland last night or not.” “I reckon he’s still hanging about,” Alan muttered. “He’d want to make sure he’d sunk the submarine.” “I wish we’d had a good look at it,” Busty remarked. “I’d have liked a snap of it,” said Alan, whose Christmas present from home had been a camera. The lads were tossing the ball about when Mr MacGregor came down the steps and turned towards the shooting-brake. “I’m just going to the dam,” he said genially. “The engineer wants to see me about something. Coming with me?” Alan and Busty nipped into the brake. It was only about a mile to the dam across the neck of the loch. From the spillway came the thunder of water released into the river. Tom Finney, the engineer, had been on the look-out for Mr MacGregor and hurried from the building at the end of the dam. He was a small wiry Glasgow man. “Good morning, Laird, I’ve some bad news for you,” he said. “Bad news?” echoed Mr MacGregor. “Come and see for yourself,” exclaimed Finney. “The loch’s full of dead fish. They’re floating on the surface in hundreds. You know a lot more about fish than me, and it’s got me puzzled. Surely there can be no pollution in the loch.” “I can tell you what killed the fish, Finney.” Said Mr MacGregor. “A depth charge exploded in the water last night—not more than a mile and a half from here. I’m surprised you didn’t hear it.” Finney stared at him in astonishment. “I don’t hear much because of the noise of the spillway,” he said. “The noise was pretty muffled,” Alan stated. “Who’s been letting off explosives in our loch?” Finney demanded. Vast was his astonishment when Mr MacGregor told him what had been happening. “What does Sergeant Campbell say?” he asked, referring to the island’s only police officer. “He won’t be back till to-day,” Mr MacGregor said. “He’s been giving evidence in a court case on the mainland.” “Well, it’s very bad luck on those lads to have their submarine sunk,” Finney said. “It was very nearly murder,” replied Mr MacGregor solemnly. “Finney, how deep is the water at the top end?” “It shallows off,” the engineer answered. “That’s put me in mind of something. We have a diving suit here—” He pointed to the building. “It’s kept for inspection purposes. I wouldn’t be too official if there happened to be an application to use it.” After Alan and Busty had had a look at the dead fish, they returned to the castle with Mr  MacGregor. Grant gave an excited shout when he heard about the diver’s suit. “I’ve had some training,” he exclaimed. “I couldn’t work deep, don’t know enough for that, but two or three fathoms wouldn’t worry me.” Ian Craig took up the idea with equal excitement. “We’d like to try it out,” he said. “Then I’ll speak to Finney,” promised Mr MacGregor. “We’ll also have to arrange about boats and tackle.” “How about towing out the MacDonald’s houseboat from the creek?” MacGregor suggested. “It has a deck in front of the cabin. There’d be plenty of room to work on board.” His uncle nodded. The MacDonalds, who came from Edinburgh, only used the houseboat in the summer. “Yes, Mr MacDonald would have no objections,” he said.




That afternoon the big motor-boat belonging to the dam chugged slowly out of the creek with the houseboat in tow. MacGregor was at the helm of the “tug.” His uncle, Ian Craig, Finney, Spike and Ginger were in the motor-boat. Grant, Alan and the other boys were aboard the houseboat.

They stood on the deck which extended about ten feet ahead of the cabin, the windows of which were shuttered and the door fastened. Busty had found that out on thinking he would like a look inside. On the deck of the houseboat lay the diving suit and equipment, including rubber air-line on a reel. Mr MacGregor pointed across the loch at a crofter’s cottage on the far bank. “Set your course for that cottage, Rob,” he said, and his nephew pushed at the tiller. “Then—he turned and pointed to the end of the loch—” when we’re in line with the old tower we shall be over the Kirkyard.” On the houseboat Alan took his camera from his case. He stood just behind the rail at the front of the craft and started to focus the camera on the motor-boat. Numb Ned chuckled. “You’ll get a fine picture of the backs of their necks,” he said. “I’ll give them a call when I’m ready and ask them to turn round,” replied Alan. The others were all watching him as he brought the view-finder to bear on the boat. Behind their backs the cabin door opened a few inches. A hand protruded and there was a flash of steel, the flash of a knife. The hand came out stealthily and plunged the blade into the air-line coiled on the reel. It sawed viciously at the rubber tubing. “I’ll give ‘em a shout,” said Young Butch and raised his voice. “Ahoy there!” The hand was withdrawn and the door closed as the occupants of the boat looked round to find out what the noise was about. Alan snapped the shutter and hoped he had a memento of an exciting voyage. Grant turned towards the middle of the deck. “We’re coming on to our bearings,” he said. “I’ll get the suit on.” MacGregor brought the houseboat into position and an anchor, consisting of a ponderous stone on a rope, was sent splashing down. Finney using his official map, gave the depth of water as twenty feet. MacGregor edged the motor-boat alongside. The others came aboard the houseboat and the work went on briskly. A ladder was lashed to the side. Craig fixed the end of the air-line to the helmet. Grant’s head vanished under the massive helmet, Finney secured the fastenings, and the rope to the small windlass was rove round him. With cumbersome movements he worked round on to the ladder and started to descend. The water gurgled and splashed over Grant’s head. Rope and tube were played out. His distorted figure looked like a monster in the green depths. Then he sank out of view. A frantic shout broke from Busty. Alan whirled round just in time to see the air-line whipping away over the side. It splashed into the water and started to sink, dragged down by the diver’s weight. MacGregor leapt on to the rail. There was no time for him to kick off his shoes before he dived. With his kilt swirling he plunged and vanished under the surface. Mr MacGregor, Craig and Finney rushed to the windlass to haul up Grant, but it would take two or three minutes at least to raise him. Alan watched the surface tensely. It seemed an age before MacGregor’s head broke the surface. Young Butch let out a hoarse cheer as the Homers’ Captain held up the end of the air-tube above the water. Thanks to MacGregor’s swiftness Grant was hauled out without any harm done to him. “That line was under lock and key in my store,” Finney stated during the grim discussions. “It couldn’t have been got at there.” “It lay on the bank under the trees while we were loading up,” Craig exclaimed. “Ressick could have got at it then.” Grant took it calmly. “There’s plenty of line left for me to go down again,” he said. “We’re in the right spot. I was in the Old Kirkyard when you hauled me up.”




An hour later Grant emerged from the loch for the last time. With his powerful torch he had found the tombstone of Alec Craig and then secured a chain round it. The bigger boys put their weight on to the windlass handles. The chain tightened.

“I think it’s moving,” Finney exclaimed. It seemed a long time to Alan before Craig uttered an excited shout. The shape under the surface reached the top. The tombstone came slowly out of the water. Busty nearly fell off the houseboat in trying to see the inscription. “I can’t se,” he began. “I can’t see ‘In memory of Alec Craig, of Boyne—” At some time the stone must have been recut, for the letters and figures were clearly distinguishable in the hard granite. “He—he died in 1850,” Young Butch roared. “It says—‘Born March 25, 1795, died October 4, 1850.” Grant gripped Craig’s hand. “Then you’ve come into your rights, Ian,” he said. “The Ressicks have robbed your people all these years, but at last the money is yours.” “Thanks to you and my other friends,” replied Craig feelingly. The stone was guided over the side and the chain removed. All of them were crowding round when there was a creak as the cabin door was flung open. “Stand back all of you, stand back!” shouted the harsh, threatening voice of Ressick. “Get across to the other side of the deck.” Grant took a pace forward, but halted abruptly as a shot from the pistol in Ressick’s left hand whistled past his head. “Back, I tell you, get back!” exclaimed Ressick, who was gripping a small pick in his right hand. Mr MacGregor slowly retreated, pushing the boys back, for he had seen the lurking frenzy in Ressick’s eyes. Ressick edged towards the stone. He was ready to swing round with his pistol as he struck blow after blow at the tombstone. Bits of granite were chipped away until the date had been obliterated. With leering triumph on his face he glared at Craig. Then, with a raucous laugh, he swung over the side into the motor-boat and cast it loose. As it drifted away he started the engine. He cast a last look of malicious triumph at Craig as he swung the tiller round and steered away towards the shore. Craig turned desperately to the others. “You all saw the date,” he said tensely. “You could all swear to it.” “I’m not so sure the Court’s wouldn’t require stronger proof,” exclaimed Mr MacGregor. Alan’s voice rang out, shakily. “I hope I’ve got proof,” he said. Everyone looked at him. “What d’you mean, Alan?” MacGregor demanded. Alan held up his camera. “I took a photo of the tombstone just before Ressick came out of the cabin,” he said. That night, when the phone rang in the castle, there was a mad rush to get to it. Numb Ned, who had a bit of a start in the suddenness of his leap from the arm-chair, reached it first and grabbed the receiver. “Is that Mr Craig?” he exclaimed. “What’s happened? Has Alan’s snap come out? What? It has! The date can be seen clearly. Yipee!” Alan had an exciting letter to write home to tell Mr and Mrs Reader how his Christmas present had proved the ownership of a million dollars estate.


On their way back to Red Circle, the boys stopped at Glasgow, where they saw a thrilling football match at Ibrox, home of Glasgow Rangers. Young Butch had a very long face when they arrived at Glasgow Central Station to catch the train for the south. “Where are you going, sir?” asked a porter. “Back to Smugg,” growled Young Butch absent-mindedly, thinking of Home House’s tyrannical master. Alan grinned at Busty. “We’re better off,” he said. “We often get a bit of fun with Mr Barrel.” “Yes,” remarked Ginger, “but you’ll get to Home House some day and Smuggy isn’t due to retire for years.”



© D. C. Thomson & Co Ltd 

Vic Whittle 2006