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Flint rarely went to the beach-especially on such unusually cold days as today. It was a cold day in an unusually cold summer for New York. Flint was thoroughly miserable. He hated getting sand in his eyes, hated having seaweed wrap around his toes, hated to expose his poor milky shoulders to the elements. But here he was at the ocean's shore, and all because his sister, whom he was visiting in New York, had a persuasive way about her.

"Please, Artemus," she had begged, "for your nephew Clem's sake, if not for mine. Clem insists on going to the beach at Long Island Sound with a group of his young school friends, but I won't hear of their going without some sensible adult going along to guide them. And since I can't, I thought..."

So Flint had obligingly gone to the beach to "sensibly guide" Clem and his friends. The few of Clem's friends he'd heard about he didn't like. There was Alice, a girl who giggled a lot, and Steve, a boy who cleaned his fingernails with his jack-knife. There were Ted and Debbie, who were "going together," and then there was Sammy the Show-off, sometimes called Sammy the Storyteller, who always made himself the centre of attention, even if he had to fabricate stories to do it. He annoyed Clem like mad.

Feeling sorry for subjecting himself to the tortures of wind, cold, and sand, Flint left his blanket and walked to the refreshment stand. Finding that he could tolerate no more than one gulp of the orange drink he'd bought, he headed back to his blanket.

There he was accosted by Clem and his friends all talking excitedly at once. Words assailed his ears. "Sammy went swimming -" "- been gone a long time," " - not been seen -" "- we're all so worried," "What should we do?" Flint lost no time in piecing together the story. When he had, he headed immediately over to the nearest lifeguard.

"A boy is missing," he reported. "Sammy Karl-stone, fourteen years old, tall, brown hair. Last seen swimming in the ocean about fifteen minutes ago. Not seen since." Sammy's friends pointed to the area where they had seen Sammy dive into a wave - the last they had seen of him.

The lifeguard whipped into action. He sounded an alarm, summoned aid, and started launching lifeboats. As he was about to hop into a boat himself, a figure was seen swimming toward the shore. It was Sammy. The lifeguard sprang into the water, and with a few powerful strokes reached the boy and helped him onto the beach.

Lying on the sand, his chest heaving, surrounded by a circle of his friends, lifeguards, curious observers, and Detective Artemus Flint, Sammy haltingly told his story.

"A shark," he gasped. "I was attacked by a shark. I was swimming out pretty far. Where it's deep and cold. Sharks like cold water. This one was really mean-looking. It almost got me. After I dove through a wave and gashed my shoulder on a rock, I surfaced and I saw the shark in front of me. It bumped against me several times, as if trying to decide where to bite first. While kicking its head away with my foot, I managed to use my arms to pull myself closer to shore. I kept kicking the shark's head and swimming until I got into shallower water, where the shark wouldn't follow me. I was never so scared in my life. I thought for sure I'd be that shark's dinner!" He could talk no longer. He lay in the centre of the crowd, panting.

The crowd was thrilled. Someone spoke of calling a newspaper reporter. Someone else treated Sammy's badly bleeding shoulder. Clem scowled. Once again, people were making a fuss over Sammy.

At last Sammy had caught his breath. He stood up and grinned. "That was quite an experience, wasn't it? " he asked his audience.

"It would have been," said Flint, feeling rather ridiculous with his stomach hanging out of his faded red bathing trunks as the crowd turned to look at him. "As it is, you've needlessly endangered other lives by occupying the lifeguards and the rescue equipment. For your sake, I hope you didn't mean to alarm everyone. "

The boy's mouth fell open.

"Yes," continued Flint, "it would have been a remarkable experience. If it had taken place. But it never did! "






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