The Red Runners

This is the second book in the first trilogy, consisting of the books Stoner’s Boy, The Red Runners, and The Gray Ghost. 

Summary:  Stoner’s Boy is gone, but his gang is still around, led by Stoner’s old pal Long Tom.  They call themselves the Red Runners, and are basically an organized gang of runaways dedicated to stealing, vandalism, and beating people up.  Second-in-command Harkinson begins to lose his eyesight, and he and a few others (including Androfski and Jude) split from the gang.  Hawkins and the boys set a trap, with the help of the sheriff and his deputies, and Long Tom and the other Red Runners are captured and taken away to reform school.  Harkinson, having gone blind, dies of a heart condition brought on by the stress of losing his eyesight.

"The Red Runners is one of the best stories of the Hawkins series. The Red Runner gang is made up of older boys than our club - wore red sweaters and odd shaped caps during the day with long coats and broad brimmed hats on cool nights. The story abounds with adventure and mystery, and presents boy characters of various types in a new light. It is the story of Harkinson - poor old Harkinson, he with the hypnotizing eyes, who led a careless life and paid the price for his waywardness. And Stoner's horn is heard again - is Harkinson really Stoner? It is the story of Androfski the Silent, who had no voice; of Seventh-in-Line Lasky, who turned a new leaf and went home to wish his mother a merry Christmas; of Rolling Stone who stopped rolling when he reached the Hawkins clubhouse; of Jude the Fifth who, was faithful to Harkinson to the end. In this book you will meet again the "Skinny Guy", Link Lambert, Will Standish, Shadow Loomis, Jerry Moore, Robby Hood, Bill Darby, the twins Oliver and Harold, Briggen and his Pelham boys and all the other well known characters that have played important parts in the earlier stories of Seckatary Hawkins. "Not since Huckleberry Finn, says one critic, has a book appeared such as this one written by Seckatary Hawkins. The author seems to have grasped the sunny days of boyhood and expatiated on them in a lifelike manner." -from DJ.

1953 1922 - 1925
The Red Runners
Book Report by The Shadow 4.22.03

Hawkins returns home from Cuba and makes his first nostalgic visit to the old clubhouse. He notes that the shack has been painted and the porch extended. Also, that it is decorated with flags for some celebration. As he is walking down to the clubhouse, Perry Stokes steps out and accosts him, preventing him from getting close to the clubhouse. Perry Stokes is the newest member of the club who was admitted during Seck’s absence.

The boys welcome Hawkins home and show him how much they had appreciated him by their having built a small room attached to the back of the clubhouse. It is the seckatary’s office and writing room.

Will Standish comes in for a visit from his home in Cuba, and shows the boys how he can pitch. Jerry Moore, true to form, does not like being struck out by this “sissy” stranger and challenges him to a fight. The boys arrange a boxing match and Will shows that he is also a good boxer. Jerry is beaten

The Pelhams have acquired a new member; a boy named Harkinson who has piercing, hypnotic eyes. Perry Stokes tells Hawkins that Harkinson is looking for him because he threw a stick at him when he would not leave the clubhouse area. Harkinson traps Will Standish on the cliffs and tries to make him jump into the river thirty feet below. Perry Stokes throws his stick again and hits Harkinson who jumps into the river and escapes

The boys decided to camp on the island and they set up their tents. Harkinson stops at their campsite and threatens them by saying that the Pelhams were there first and the island was “tooken”. As Harkinson is rowing away, passing the cliffs, Will Standish and Perry Stokes manage to drop a rope around his shoulder and haul him out of his boat. But, using his knife, Harkinson cuts the rope and escapes.

The Court twins come back for the summer. They had been in Watertown and had stopped at a store for a drink where they had heard three boys talking about Hawkins and some light haired kid and that they were going to get them. The description of one of the boys fits Harkinson.

Harkinson and his Pelham gang are seen and heard building a log cabin on the other end of the island. The boys do a lot of singing under the guidance of Lew hunter and his accordion. Harold and Seck both notice that someone was in the woods outside of the camp area listening and spying.

Harold and Seck visit the log cabin and meet Ham Gardner who warns them away. Harold pushes the rest of the logs into the river and lets them float down to the Fair and Square camp. When they are trying to leave, they are caught by Harkinson and the Pelhams who had been out hunting wild duck for their dinner. Harkinson tells the boys to go, but they had better keep up the singing, or it would be too bad for them

The boys kept up the singing and Harkinson kept watching and listening. One day he tried to throw a rope over Harold and was chased away. The boys follow but he disappears in a little clearing. Harold and Link enlist Hawkins to help find out how he had done it. The found the old tree stump with the trap door to the tunnel that Stoner and Long Tom used to use.

They see Ham Gardner climb out of the tree stump with a flag of truce and start for their camp. The boys stop him and he tells them that Harkinson and his gang are going to attack the boys in the cargo canoe bringing supplies back from town. They get the rest of the boys and their canoes and head up the river to meet the cargo boat. There is a fight on the river and the Pelhams scatter. Harkinson hits Hawkins in the face and escapes again. Harkinson knows that someone tipped them off. The boys use the Pelham logs to build a security fence around their camp area.

Perry Stokes goes to the log cabin alone and noticing that he was gone, Hawkins follows and find Harkinson in the locked cabin beating Ham Gardener for helping Perry escape through the tunnel to the old tree stump. Hawkins warns him to stop whipping the boys. There is a fight and Harkinson grabs Hawkins in a bear hug. Hawkins raises his head and crashes it into Harkinson’s jaw. Then he gives a solid punch but it is not enough to knock Harkinson out. Harkinson grabs him again and starts that bear hug pressure. Suddenly, Hawkins is released because Harkinson loved music and he could hear the boys singing from the campsite at the other end of the island. He released Hawkins to listen.

The boys take up boxing and are becoming pretty good at the sport. Under a flag of truce, Briggen, Ham Gardner and Dave Burns come to the fence to talk. They want to get rid of Harkinson and ask for help, talking about the strange hypnotic eyes and the beatings. They make plans. A rocket, left over from the Fourth, was to be the signal. They find Harkinson asleep in the cabin and after a brief battle with Hawkins, the bully is knocked down. The other boys jump on him, tie him up and blindfold him. The Pelham boys are given the job of taking him to Watertown and turning him over to his old crowd. The boys learn later that the Pelhams had listened to Harkinson and had turned him loose.

The steamer Hudson Lee makes a stop at the island camp and the Captain talks with Doc while Rosalind Lee, Hudson, her brother and Shadow Loomis come ashore to talk to the boys. Shadow shows some magic tricks. They leave. The next day, the boys start to break camp. The Hudson Lee appears again, towing the Cazanova, a big white launch that Links mother had built especially for him. They pack all of the camping stuff and the canoes on the launch and head for home.

In a rare speech, Link tells the boys that he is going to his new Kentucky home and wants to have a party on his boat. They invite Hudson and Rosalind Lee, the Judge, Doc, Link’s folks, and Jerry Moore (brings his sisters Ella and Grace), and Roy Dobel (brings his sister Lillian). The clubhouse, the path and the boat are all colorfully decorated with festive lanterns. A feast is spread in the big cabin on the launch.

Harold and Seck are sitting out on deck watching the lights at Pelham. They see a hand come up on the rail. Harold hits it twice with a wooden pin. Whoever it was, falls into the water. They do not know who it had been at that time.

Thinking that perhaps Robby could help with the Harkinson problem, Seck had Perry Stokes take a message to Robby Hood in Watertown. The boys are in the clubhouse that evening when Robby comes to bring word of Stoner’s old gang from Watertown, called the Red Runners. Long Tom and Harkinson now lead the Red Runners. Harkinson has left the Pelhams to rejoin the Red Runners and he is now 2nd in line after Long Tom. When Robby heads up river in his home made motor boat, Hawkins and Perry see the Red Runners running silently down to the river bank in pursuit, but Robby gets away.

Robby brings Jerome and Kendricks, leaders of the Happy Days club from Watertown. They tell that their baseball team had won a fancy silver trophy that they had had on display at the meeting place and it had been stolen. A boy with a bandaged hand and his arm in a sling had been seen looking at the windows in the meeting pace. Hawkins secretly thinks that the boy with the bandage was Harkinson.

He and Robby visit the Watertown boys club for an on the scene inspection and they see a boy known as Booby Warren bring in some drinking water for the Happy Days boys. Warren had been a member of the Fair and square Club when it had been called the Rejiment, a long time before. He had since moved to Watertown where he did odd jobs for the Happy Days boys.

While the boys are singing in the clubhouse, Robby brings word that the Red Runners are heading for Pelham. The boys go over to Pelham and most of the Red Runner gang runs from the sound of Perry’s gun, leaving Long Tom and Harkinson in Briggen’s shack where they are searching for something. Briggen is lying on the floor, apparently knocked out. Hawkins sees that Briggen’s hand was bandaged. It had been the Pelham leader, not Harkinson, who had tried to board the Cazanova. The two Red Runners get away.

Perry reports that Briggan and another boy are going down river. Hawkins and Perry pursue them to the island where they find Briggen and Booby Warren in the log cabin, with the trophy from the Happy Days club. They take it back to the Watertown club.

Overnight someone breaks into the clubhouse, but nothing is stolen. The boys initiate a watch until 9:00 every night because they think that no one from Watertown would be out after that time. The Red Runners attack and try to take Robby prisoner. Shadow scares them off with some tricks from his little case of magic. Robby and Shadow go back to Watertown on the Hudson Lee.

The next evening, Harkinson and Long Tom come to the clubhouse to make a prisoner of Hawkins and take him to face the Red Runners. The boys return in time and the two invaders run away. Becky, Harkinson’s Owl, makes her first appearance in the clubhouse, but is called away by the sound of the old brass horn. The Reds Runners escape again.

Roy Dobel catches a big barn owl and brings it to the clubhouse for luck. The Pelhams steal the other owl, Becky, and bring her to the clubhouse. Harkinson and Long Tom come looking for Becky. Harkinson mistakenly thinks the barn owl is Becky and he kills it after the other, larger, owl bites him. They escape and call Becky with the brass horn. Judge Granberry is a collector of stuffed animals and Doc Water takes the dead owl to him.

Robby and Shadow come down for a meeting. They mention Androfski who had been stealing milk from Shadows house. The boys Visit Cave River and find that one of the Red Runners was there. They capture him and it turns out to be Seventh in Line Lasky. Hawkins turns him loose.

Halloween comes, and Shadow goes up to a costume shop in town. Perry had been going over to Burney’s field to bring wild pumpkins back. For some time the boys had been riding Dobel’s horses. Perry’s father comes to the clubhouse to report that his son had been gone all day. Hawkins and Jerry Moore go to Burney’s field looking for him and are captured by Red Runners. They see that Perry also is tied to a tree. They hear hoof beats and a wild, ghostlike phantom comes out of the dark and scares the Red Runners away. It is Shadow Loomis in his new costume riding one of the Dobel horses. They untie Perry and take him home.

Briggen comes over and mistakenly threatens Shadow. As he is leaving he hits Shadow in the back, runs to a waiting boat and get away. To pay him back, Shadow leads some of the boys over to Pelham and puts a luminous face on the inside wall of Briggen’s shack. The Pelham boys come back to the dark shack and are scared away.

As the weather is getting colder, Dick Ferris, the captain, makes a rule that each boy has to bring in seven sticks of firewood wood daily for the stove. Briggen comes over to tell about his ghostly scare and that the Red Runners are after them as well. Perry reports seeing three Red Runners in the woods and they all see the three Red Runners paddle a motor boat across to Pelham. The boys follow and find Harkinson in Briggen’s shack with the three Red Runners waiting for them. It was a trap. Harkinson hears the boys singing from across the river and he goes outside to hear. Jerry jumps him and they have a battle. Hawkins locks the three Red Runners in the shack, but Harkinson breaks away from Jerry and with his horn he summons the three boys in the shack and they smash out a window and escape.

The boys decide to buy Brother Jim, their teacher, a present - a canary, which they buy from old Hiram. They enter the schoolhouse through a window and hide the birdcage in the classroom. The next morning when they make the presentation, the bird is gone. It seems that softhearted Perry Stokes had come back early in the morning and turned the bird loose.

The boys go hunting beech nuts near Dobel’s farm. Perry reports that the Red Runners are coming down river in a big longboat rowed by ten boys with a coxswain and a helmsman. Later, Long Tom and Harkinson come down paddling a motor boat. The boys follow them down to the island where the boys find the backwater pool and the old houseboat. The Red Runners leave the island and so do the boys. Hawkins writes to Link to tell him that they had found the old houseboat.

Link wrote back giving the houseboat to them. The boys decide to use the old houseboat for a secret meeting place. They spend some time cleaning up and then when they are leaving the backwater pool area, they are met by Androfski, Lasky and another Red Runner. They learn that Androfski is called “The Silent”, because he cannot talk above a whisper. He wants to take them before a Red Runners’ court in the log cabin. Shadow intervenes and he and Androfski square off to fight. The other two Red Runners run away. The horn sounds and Androfski runs to answer the call. Later Lasky comes back to warn them that there are sixteen Red Runners on the island and they are coming for them. The boys leave for the clubhouse.

The boys take Shadow and Robby down to the island and the old houseboat. They find footprints outside in the mud. The prints are not those of any of their boys. While they are singing, they see a Red Runner and chase him. He leads them to the log cabin and locks himself in. Shadow goes down the chimney and open the door. He fights with the Red Runner. They tie him up. It is Oder, 4th in line. They take him back to the houseboat and compare footprints. It was Oder. To keep the secret of the houseboat, they turn him over to the Sheriff. Ewl leads them to the log cabin and hides inside. He was sent to the School for Bad Boys.

Robby tells that the Runners had moved out of their old Watertown headquarters and that they usually kept a list of their members posted on a wall. During a ball game, the boys are chasing Lasky who hides in the clubhouse. He had been spying on them. Hawkins talks to him and offers him a chance to go home. Lasky takes off his red sweater and Shadow gives him his to wear as it is getting cold. Shadow takes Lasky’s sweater.

Christmas comes, and the boys are singing. Doc comes in dressed like Santa. He is going to take toys to Ben Bigstaff’s kids and he also had presents for the boys. Each boy gets a pocket knife with his name on the handle. Later, Shadow and Robby come in with Doc’s bag of toys. They had found it in a dugout on Burney’s field where the Red Runners were having a Christmas bonfire.

Androfski comes in to claim the bag. The boys are going to turn him over to the Sheriff when Harkinson comes to rescue him. They are going to also add him as a prisoner but he calls the rest of the Red Runners with the old brass horn and they come storming into the clubhouse. There is a big battle and four of the Red Runners were captured - Numbers 6, 8, 14, and 18. A battered Doc came in with the Sheriff and the Sheriff’s men take the prisoners away. Doc sees the bag of toys and they tell him how they were found. He tells about being attacked for the toys and asks them to take the bag to Ben Bigstaff’s kids in the morning.

New Year’s Eve and the boys are singing at the last meeting of the old year. The Red Runners are outside listening and watching. The singing ends and the boys all leave. The old brass horn calls the Red Runners. Shadow Loomis take his sweater with the numeral 7 on the sleeve and runs with them to a meeting of the Red Runners in their Watertown Headquarters in the old tobacco warehouse. He returns safely with a copy of their membership roster. He now has all eighteen names for the Sheriff.

Rolling Stone John Loomis comes to the clubhouse looking for his brother Shadow. Shadow does not come that day and Hawkins lets the brother stay in the clubhouse overnight. The next day John Loomis comes back and brings a bag of sugar rolls to eat. He sits by the stove. Shadow comes in and sees his brother who he professes to dislike. The Red Runners attack the clubhouse and John Loomis saves the day by going after them with his stick.

Shadow learns of a new place where the Red Runners are meeting and asks Seck to bring the boys so that the gang could be captured and turned over to the Sheriff. They go to Watertown and the Sheriff and Doc just happen to be going their way by car and they get a ride. They find the warehouse, but Shadow does not answer their signal. Hawkins sends the other boys back to wait for Doc and he and Robby go over the roof tops to a window leading into the meeting place.

They find Shadow a prisoner and untie him. They watch the Red Runners meeting and see that Harkinson is now wearing dark glasses. They cannot hear the conversation but they see an argument between Long Tom and Harkinson. The Red Runners spilt up and some follow Harkinson, the rest stay with Long Tom. Harkinson leaves with his followers and Long Tom and his group escape from the attack of the Fair and Square boys. Hawkins and his boys find some loose boards that opened into the river where the boats had been hidden.

Briggen comes over to the clubhouse to talk and plead for cooperation to get rid of the Red Runners. The Harkinson followers have built a dugout on Burney’s field. They report that they had heard someone in the dugout praying. Harkinson comes to visit and to tell Hawkins that he was through and that he was a Christian now. Hawkins rejects the offer and Harkinson and his assistant Jude the 5th leave. They notice that Harkinson is apparently having difficulty in seeing.

Later, Shadow comes down in his ice boat. Briggen reports that they had seen four Red Runners skating up toward Watertown and two more going down river. They go down in the ice boat and on the way they pull over to the shore and watch Jude skate up river again alone. Hawkins and Shadow go to the log cabin and from outside they hear Harkinson crying and praying. Shaken, they leave him there and go to the old houseboat. The rest of the boys find them there and they go back to the log cabin where they all hear the praying. Androfski arrives and tells them that Harkinson is blind. The other boys want to take them prisoner, but Rolling Stone John helps them leave. They go up in the ice boat and at the clubhouse they call for Doc and he comes to examine Harkinson. Androfski slips away. Doc arranges for the blind boy to be hospitalized.

Doc takes Hawkins up to see Harkinson in the hospital. The blind boy gives Hawkins the old brass horn as a souvenir. Hawkins decides to set up a trap for the remaining Red Runners. He has the boys at the clubhouse singing, with the Sheriff and some men waiting. He blows the old horn and the Red Runners storm into the clubhouse where they are all captured and taken away by the Sheriff.

As the year is ending, the preacher stops to tell them that Harkinson has died.

*The first Seckatary artist was Seck's good friend Carll B. Williams, succeeded after Carll passed away, by another good friend, Joe Ebertz.
*Do you know who the illustrator was for the first Seck newspaper story that was not The Rejiment?

Copyright © 1921.