Club Profile

Book Reviews

Famous Members





Harper Lee


Email Me


The Mystery of the Stonewall House

Book summary By Dan Kindel   10/16/07

Summary:   The insane Dr. Drago has taken up residence in the Stonewall House, located just downstream of Hobbs Ferry.  He kidnaps Mr. Lance, who knows how to build powerful artillery guns.  Dr. Drago wants to use such a gun to launch a human into outer space to make contact with aliens on other planets.  Stonewall House is built into the side of a hill, and has a connecting passage to a large cavern room which is actually part of Cliff Cave.  Dr. Drago forces Mr. Lance to build a big artillery gun in this cave chamber, passing out through the roof of the cave.  A test firing of a metal cylinder out of the gun sends the cylinder up into the atmosphere, then back to Earth, burning and melting as it fell as a “meteorite” onto Burney’s Field near Pelham.  When it looks like his plans are about to be foiled, Dr. Drago launches himself in another metal cylinder fired from the gun.  The cylinder rises far into the sky, then falls straight back down, destroying the Stonewall House and the cave chamber.

It's been quiet around the old riverbank.  In fact, it's been so quiet that some of the boys are tossing around the idea of finding a new clubhouse where they are likely to find more adventure.  Seck & Shadow try to show them the foolishness of looking for trouble.  Hardly are the words out of Seck's mouth when the Judge, Sheriff and Doc Waters pay the boys a visit with an accusation that the F & S club has been getting into trouble and breaking fences and such around town for fun.  Of course, the boys deny it but the Judge orders Seck and the boys to find out the real culprit.  Soon enough, the boys get a clue firsthand when their porch railing is destroyed by a group of hounds and a horse in pursuit of a fox.

On horseback, the boys go searching for the fox hunters.  They witness a group of hounds chasing a fox towards the old Stonewall House, across the river from Hobbs Ferry.  Following closely behind, also on horseback, is a man they later find out to be Dr. Drago, who apparently is now living in the once vacant Stonewall House.  The fox eludes the dogs though a small hole in the stone wall which surrounds the house and then the hounds and man enter a gate to the estate.  Hearing a wailing dog, left out in the woods, the boys go searching and find the hound caught in a trap meant for a groundhog, set by Lige Hobbs.  They set the dog free but soon after, the man sees them and thinks that Seck has set the trap.  The man warns Seck and the boys not to interfere in his affairs.  He seems to particularly have it in for Seck.

A thin little man shows up at the clubhouse with a group of dogs that he is trying to deliver but has lost his way.  The man explains that he is delivering the dogs to a Dr. Drago who has a pet fox that is so fast, no dog can catch it.  Dr. Drago has been searching for a dog that is quick enough to catch it and has had no success, so far.  The boys realize that the man at the Stonewall House must be Dr. Drago so they offer to take the dog seller to the Stonewall House.  Once there they find the gate closed.  Shadow touches the gate which seems to cause bells to ring and then the gate opens automatically.  Inside the gate they find a pen of dogs which, for some reason, growl and try to get at Seck but no one else.  Seck spies a missing glove of his in the pen just as the caretaker informs the boys that they must leave.

Seck wonders how his missing glove wound up at the Stonewall House and decides that he wants to get it back.  The boys keep watch until they see Dr. Drago and the hounds leave the house.  Seck and Perry hurry to the house.  Seck climbs over the wall and retrieves his glove.  As Seck and Perry leave, they can hear the sound of the baying hounds getting louder.  Realizing that the hounds are getting close they run into the nearby woods to hide but the dogs are after Hawkins and chase him up a tree.  As if from a command, all of the hounds suddenly leave and Hawkins and Perry escape.

The thin little man returns to the clubhouse and rewards the boys with a gift of a dog named Indian for taking him to Dr. Drago's house the previous day.  Hawkins decides to get Jeckerson, the famous Watertown investigator involved and gives him a call from the clubhouse phone.  Jeckerson and Doc Waters pay the boys a visit and learn about the strange actions of Dr. Drago.  While at the clubhouse, they hear the hounds coming and go outside to see.  As the fox runs towards the clubhouse, being chased by the group of hounds, Indian attacks the fox and kills it.  Dr. Drago arrives and tells them that it is OK and that he just wanted to know what happened.

Doc Waters decides to visit Dr. Drago, being a fellow doctor and persuades Seck to go with him to help investigate.  When they get close to the Stonewall House, they realize that Indian has been following Doc's car and they take the dog with them to the house.  While Doc Waters and Dr. Drago visit, Seck aims to do some snooping but Dr. Drago and the house caretaker keep a watchful eye on Seck.  Dr. Drago discusses how he loves speedy things which explain the fox hunts.  Dr. Drago offers to buy Indian.  Back at the clubhouse, the boys take a vote and decide to sell Indian despite Seck's objections since he has grown attached to the hound.

The Pelhams interrupt an F & S club meeting to say they had seen a giant around the clubhouse the night before.  None of the boys believe it until Seck checks around the clubhouse and finds giant footprints but they are still mostly skeptical.  Seck, Shadow and Perry take Indian to Dr. Drago.  On the way back, in the dark, they see something big moving in the woods and run home along the riverbank rather than the shortcut through the woods.

While the boys are having singing practice at night they hear a rumbling sound and feel the clubhouse shaking.  Fearing the worst they open the door, only to find two strange boys standing on the porch.  The boys introduce themselves as Norman and David Lance who have come asking to join the club.  They had lived in Watertown and Norman had then had a gang known as the Norman Lancers who rode ponies that came from a pony farm that his Dad had owned.  They had moved with their father to Pelham recently and were living in the old tenant house behind Burney's field.  They had joined the Pelham gang but now were in some sort of trouble seeking help and had heard how Seck often helped out those in need.  The club votes not to allow them to join fearing the two new boys will bring trouble to the club.  After the two boys leave, Seck and Shadow check outside and find new giant footprints.

Seck, Shadow and Perry decide to follow the giant footprints in the daylight and are led towards the woods.  There they come across a group of boys that they don't recognize, at first, riding ponies.  One boy is riding a mule who they realize is Briggen.  The other boys are not from Pelham.  One of them is Scraggs, formerly of Sadler's Seventeen.  Sadler has gone to military school.  His ponies were sold to Norman & David's father but he couldn't pay for them so Scraggs and the others took the horses back.  The pony riders move on and Seck, Shadow and Perry continue tracking the giant footprints which lead them towards Cliff Cave.  They lose the tracks in the rocky ground but then on the way back to the clubhouse, hidden behind some bushes, they witness David on a pony, being led by Norman, heading up towards the Cliff Cave.  Scraggs, Briggen and the rest of the boys on ponies arrive and take the pony, Dixie, away from Norman and David.  Seck, Shadow and Perry watch as Norman and David head in the direction of Cliff Cave.  They notice that David almost walks into a tree before his brother directs him around it.  It seems that something is wrong with David but they can't figure out what it is.  He doesn't seem to be blind since he talked of seeing a sign far away yet that is how he is acting.

Once again, Briggen interrupts a club meeting, trying to find out where the two Lance boys are.  This time he says that he is helping out the truant officer because Norman and David haven't been going to school since they moved to Pelham.  After Shadow and Perry kick Briggen out they decide to go with Seck to warn the brothers that Briggen is on their trail.  They find Norman and David in a small round room in Cliff Cave where the boys admit that they are in trouble and haven't seen their father for a while.  They promise the brothers that they will keep their hiding place a secret.  On their way down from the Cliff Cave, Seck, Shadow and Perry see the Pelhams coming up.  To keep them away, the three of them run down the cliff path as fast as they can with Hawkins yelling "The Giant" while pointing up towards the cave.  The trick works as the Pelhams run away, afraid of the giant.

Briggen and Ham pay Seck a visit, angry that they had been fooled into thinking the giant was after them.  They tell Seck how they had found the round room in the cave where the Lance brothers had been staying but they were no longer there.  Seck, Shadow and Perry head back up to the cave to warn Norman and David that their hiding place has been discovered.  They find a note in the room in the cave explaining that the brothers have left because they realized that the Pelhams had found their room in the cave.  On the way out of the cave, the three boys hear a low rumbling, blowing wind sound and follow it to a black, glossy cavern wall.  A hole in the wall opens to reveal a huge silhouette against a red glowing background.  The boys run to get away as they see the large dark shape coming after them.  They scramble out of the cave, as fast as they can, only to pass Briggen and two cronies, coming up.  They try to warn them about the giant but Briggen doesn't believe them and goes on.  At the bottom of the cliff, they witness Briggen and his pals racing back down the cliff in terror.

Norman seeks shelter in the clubhouse from the Pelhams who are in hot pursuit of him after discovering he has borrowed one of their flatboats without permission.  A huge fight breaks out in the clubhouse between the Pelhams and the F & S members who fight to protect Norman.  Norman stops a Pelham from whacking Jerry Moore on the head with a baseball bat and the F & S boys prevail.  Jerry Moore lends Norman his long green canoe and, in canoes, the boys escort Norman downriver to the old log cabin on Seven Willows Island where Norman and David have been hiding out.  On the way back upriver, at night, the boys see a sky rocket flying from somewhere behind the Stonewall House.

Seck and Shadow meet Norman and David at a pre-arranged location above the riverbank to talk.  Norman and David reveal that David has a condition whereby he can not see things well close-up yet he can see far distances very well.  Dr. Drago happens to be nearby on horseback and overhears the conversation.  He tells David that he would like to treat him to cure his malady and that area is a specialty of his.  David and Norman tell Dr.  Drago that they will consider it.  After Dr. Drago leaves, David looks far off and sees the Pelhams coming.  The Pelhams spot Jerry Moore's canoe beached along the river, where Norman has left it, and come in search of the two brothers.  While the brothers circle around to get to the canoe, Seck creates a diversion by throwing a clod of mud at Briggen and challenging him to come fight him.  Briggen and the Pelhams chase after Seck and Shadow who escape by hiding high in trees in the woods.  Norman and David escape back to the island.

On the way back to the clubhouse after lunch one day, Seck hears music coming from town which he discovers is coming from an odd little greasy man with big earrings who is playing bagpipes for donations.  Norman shows up at the clubhouse concerned about strange happenings on the island.  He and David had left the cave, partly because they had seen the giant there, but now Norman has seen giant footprints on the island.  Furthermore, at night, he and David have heard the sound of bells in the distance, which David calls "ghost bells".  Norman asks if Seck and the boys could come down that night and help discover if there is danger there.  The F & S club agrees to visit that night.  Inside the log cabin that night they hear the ghost bells and hear someone walking around the log house.  Someone knocks on the door and at first they are afraid to open it.  Finally, Seck throws open the door but they can find no one around.  Seck tells the brothers that the island is unsafe and tells them they must sleep in the clubhouse that night until they find another place for them.

The next morning, on his way to school, Seck hurries down to the clubhouse to check on Norman and David, only to find the odd little greasy man with earrings snooping around the clubhouse and the brothers gone.  It seems evident from the way the clubhouse is in disarray and how the door jamb and lock had been ripped up that Norman and David have been forcibly taken from the clubhouse.  After school Seck decides to tell Doc Waters all that is going on.  At Doc's office Seck finds an army major who happens to be looking for Norman and David's father because he has invented a big gun that the army is interested in but now he has disappeared.  The major offers Jeckerson a $1000 reward for finding Mr. Lance.  Jeckerson offers half of the reward money to Seck, as a partner, if he can find the Lance brothers.

Jeckerson calls up Seck on the clubhouse phone and encourages him to find a way to get into the Stonewall House to do some snooping.  As luck would have it, the hound, Indian, runs away from Dr. Drago and Seck winds up with him.  Seck decides to take Indian back to the Stonewall House, as an excuse to learn more about what is going on there.  He finds the house open and apparently empty.  Looking around the house he finds a tall room with multiple telescopes and a large cylinder that goes from under the room out through the roof of the house.  A door opens in the room of telescopes and the giant crawls into the room.  Seck flees only to be accosted by a vicious hound.  Indian attacks the hound while Seck escapes over the wall.  Indian somehow breaks away and accompanies Seck back to the clubhouse where Seck lets Jeckerson know what he has found out.

The little greasy bagpipe playing man is discovered snooping around the clubhouse while Jeckerson, Doc and Seck discuss the situation after a meeting with Judge Granbery.  That night during singing practice the boys hear a loud roaring noise.  After they are done with the first song they hear a lot of commotion outside and find people from all over town coming down to the riverbank because something like a meteor has crashed into Burney's field.  The boys hurry across the river to find the Pelhams making a business out of showing people the metal object embedded in the middle of Burney's field.  As the boys are leaving, Seck notices the little greasy man playing bagpipes near the meteor who seems to be staring at him.

Jeckerson comes over to the clubhouse on another day because he has heard about the meteor landing in Burney's field and wants to investigate.  Shadow, Perry and Seck go over with him and find Ham Gardner guarding the meteor.  Ham tells them that Dr.  Drago and another man, who looked sad, had been there that day looking at the meteor.  They had discussed some markings on the side of the meteor and Dr. Drago had indicated that he wished he could tell what the markings meant.  They decide to head back to Stonewall House to take the hound, Indian, back and ask Dr. Drago some questions about the meteor.  After the caretaker lets them in, they overhear Dr. Drago talking with someone else about another shooting star that fell in the sea close to a steamship.  Dr. Drago seems to be insinuating that the other fellow isn't doing what he was supposed to be doing concerning some sort of invention of his.  Eventually, Dr. Drago comes in and Jeckerson asks him if he knows anything about the whereabouts of the Lances.  Dr. Drago indicates that he knows nothing about them.  The conversation changes to a discussion about the meteor in Burney's field.  Dr. Drago says that he believes that it is a message from another planet and that he has been expecting something like it for a while.  Dr. Drago takes them on a tour of the house and shows them the room of telescopes.  Seck is taken aback when he can find no hint of the metal door that he had seen the giant crawl through on his previous visit to the Stonewall House.

The twins, Harold and Oliver, come home from their boarding school up east, for the summer.  Dick Ferris convinces the rest of the club members to keep the latest excitement from Harold because he is afraid Harold will get the club into trouble.  At the next meeting, Jerry Moore brings up the potential reward money and Harold discovers the truth.  As Seck and Harold discuss the Stonewall House events, Link arrives for the summer in his launch, the Cazanova.  The conversations turns to the good old days and Link decides he would like to see his old houseboat where he used to live with his Pa.  They make their way down to Seven Willows Island where the old houseboat is hidden in the backwater pool only to find pigeons, a monkey and a parrot inside much to their surprise.

While Link, Harold and Seck discuss the giant and the Cliff Cave, Jeckerson shows up and warns the boys not to go to the cave or Stonewall House by themselves.  Jerry Moore and Bill Darby show up with the dog, Indian, who was seen coming out of Cliff Cave.  At Jeckerson's prompting Seck gets Indian to take them back to where he has come from.  Link, Harold, Seck and Jeckerson follow Indian back into Cliff Cave to the black wall.  Seck puts his hand up to feel the warmth coming from the wall and the wall gives way to reveal a huge cavern with a great furnace emitting terrific heat.  Near the center, a cylinder rises from the floor through the ceiling.  Along a wall is a long series of rough-cut rocky steps.  The four of them start halfway up the steps before they notice the giant sleeping on a rocky ledge.  A door opens at the top of the steps and the four of them hide in the dark, off to the side, while Dr. Drago comes down the steps into the cavern.  Link, Harold, Seck and Jeckerson wait until Dr. Drago is far below and then continue on up through the door at the top of the steps.  They are surprised to find themselves in the room of telescopes in the Stonewall House and quickly race back to the riverbank.

Its vacation time and the boys are getting excited about the prospect of their annual summer campout but Doc Waters shows up and tells the boys that Jeckerson has decided that the riverbank and island are too dangerous for camping this year.  Jeckerson calls on the clubhouse phone and tells the boys he will be there soon and that they should all plan for a trip to the island to investigate how dangerous it is.  They all head down to the island with Link piloting the Cazanova.  After a picnic dinner, they head for Link's old houseboat in the lily pond which they find empty but then hear the ghost bell.  They try to follow the sound of the ghost bell which seems to randomly move around the island.  The sound of the ghost bell disappears and as they cut across the island to head back to the boat they spy a light in the woods and follow it to the old log house.  Inside the log house they find the greasy old man with earrings with the monkey, pigeons and parrot.  The old man plays them all a song on his bagpipe before they leave.

As Seck and Harold discuss recent events it dawns on them that the big cylinder they saw in the cave was most likely a big gun, similar to the one the major had discussed, and that it had been built down there, with the aid of the big furnace.  Dr. Drago's caretaker shows up at the clubhouse with a note from Dr. Drago inviting Seck to come up to the Stonewall House and take Indian for his own as Dr. Drago is planning to be leaving the area very soon.  Perry Stokes tries to talk Seck out of going and Harold wants to go with him but Seck decides to go by himself but leaves instructions with the boys that if he is not back by the evening they are to go tell Doc Waters and the Judge.  When Seck gets to the Stonewall House he pushes on the gate, hears the bells ringing and expects the gate to open automatically as before but it doesn't.  Instead, the caretaker places a ladder over the stone wall and tells Seck to get to the other side that way while warning him to watch out for the electrified wire running along the top of the wall.  Once over the wall Seck realizes that the gate is barricaded with logs and that the fox-hounds are all gone.  Seck begins to realize that something strange is going on.  He is led into the parlor where he waits for Dr. Drago.  Soon Indian arrives in the room followed by Dr. Drago. Who leads Seck and Indian through a doorway that is behind a curtain in the room while promising Seck a very interesting time.

Seck and Indian enter the room behind the curtain only to find darkness and the door closed and locked behind them.  Realizing that he has been trapped, Seck sits in the darkness for a while but then decides he must find a way out.  Feeling around in the dark Seck finds a set of climbing bars and slowly climbs up them until at the top he finds a circular removable opening that leads into another room.  Once inside this room he finds a door into the room of telescopes where he discovers David looking through one of the telescopes.  As Seck and David chat, they can hear someone coming.  In an effort to escape Seck goes through the metal-covered door and starts to run down the rocky stairs but is spotted by Dr. Drago, the sad-faced man and the giant below.  The giant quickly runs up the steps, picks up Seck like a sack of potatoes and brings him down to Dr. Drago.  Seck listens as he hears Dr. Drago explain his wild plan.  Apparently, the sad-faced man has been forced by Dr. Drago to design and build the big gun that goes from the cave up through the room of telescopes and through the roof of the Stonewall House so that Dr. Drago can use it to shoot items into space.  Dr. Drago believes that there are other beings on other planets and he wants to send a message to them using the big gun but the sad-faced man has purposely caused his big gun to fail.  Dr.  Drago believes that the meteor on Burney's field was a message sent from another planet and that they were able to send their message first because the sad-faced man has not allowed his big gun to work at full capacity.  Now, Dr. Drago has invented some sort of a machine that he wishes the sad-faced man to shoot into space with his big gun.  Dr. Drago says that he only needs the initial push from the big gun and then his machine will go on the journey the rest of the way by itself.  To make sure that the sad-faced man doesn't try to trick Dr. Drago again, he plans to put Norman into the machine to be shot out of the big gun.  It turns out that the sad-faced man is Norman and David's father.  Dr. Drago believes that it will also show those from the other planet that he is now the first to conquer interplanetary travel of humans.  Mr. Lance, the sad-faced man is horrified and realizes that Dr. Drago must be mad.  He refuses but quickly points out that Norman is too light for the big gun to work properly.  Dr. Drago looks around and decides that Seck will take Norman's place in his machine.  Just then, Jeckerson, Doc Waters and the Sheriff with a team of deputies followed by the rest of the F & S boys arrive through the large stone door in the cave wall.  Dr. Drago, realizing that his life's work is at jeopardy, runs to the big gun and climbs inside his machine.  The giant sets off the big gun and the mad Dr. Drago is hurled towards the stars.

As they start out to find David, the giant races up the rocky steps towards the room of telescopes.  Hearing a cry from David and fearing the worst they all race up the steps after the giant only to find the giant coming back down the steps with David on his shoulders.  The giant brings David down the steps and sets him in front of his father.  Even though he can't see them, David realizes that he has been reunited with is brother and father and is very happy.  As the Sheriff tries to decide what to do with the giant, David reveals how nice the giant has been to him.  Mr. Lance describes how he had been kidnapped and held prisoner by Dr. Drago and forced to make the big gun.  He explained how the mad Dr. Drago planned to travel to the stars or the moon with his crazy machine.  He also relays how the giant had always been good to him and that Dr. Drago had control of the giant.  The servant explains how he was only a faithful servant and not in cahoots with Dr. Drago.  He reveals how the Dr. Drago had watched the two Lance boys and had the giant snatch them from the clubhouse because he wanted David to watch through a telescope for a message that he was expecting from the stars, since David had exceptional vision of things in the distance.  As they head up the rocky steps into the room of telescopes, they look up through the glass ceiling and see something in the sky heading for the Stonewall House.  They all race to get away from the house and after they run as far as they can they see a red glow and hear a thunderous explosion.  Looking towards the Stonewall House they see that it has been destroyed and all that is left is a pile of timbers and stones.  They see something moving in the rubble and watch as the giant pulls himself out of the rubble, unbelievably still alive.

The next day they find the broken body of Indian under a pile of rock and wreckage at the site of the Stonewall House.  Of course, Seck is very sad because he had become attached to Indian.  They speculate as to what it was that destroyed the house.  Jeckerson believes it to be a meteor but the servant believes it to be the message from the stars that Dr. Drago had been waiting for.  They also speculate about where Dr. Drago is now.  Some believe that he may have made it to the stars, after all, but Mr. Lance believes that, most likely, Dr. Drago's machine traveled pretty far and then fell into the sea.  They find out that the giant had been part of a big circus and had been managed by the little greasy man with earrings who made lots of money at the giant's expense because the giant didn't understand English.  Dr. Drago had seen the giant at the circus, hypnotized him and took control of him for his own use.  The major gives the reward money to Jeckerson who gives half to Seck.  Seck divides the money up among the F & S club members.  Norman, David and Mr. Lance say goodbye because the major is taking them all to Washington DC.  David's father has told him that there is a great doctor in Boston who will be able to fix his eyes after they go to Washington.  David says a sad goodbye to the giant and then the Lances leave.  Suddenly they hear the ghost bell and see the greasy old man with earrings and bagpipe approaching with his animals.  The monkey is holding a bell in his hand and ringing it.  Apparently, the ringing bell is a summons for the giant.  The old man has been on the trail of the giant in an attempt to bring him back to the circus.  The giant seems to be reluctant to go at first but then gives in and hops on a train car with the greasy bagpipe player and waves goodbye to Seck and crew.

Copyright © 1921.