"Black Duck" begins with David Peterson, a High School student who wants to be a reporter. He needs a great story to get in the local newspaper so he goes to Ruben Hart, an old man who was said to have been in the rum running business in the early 1900's. David begins his regular interviews with Ruben and they become great friends.
Ruben was very good friends with Jeddy McKenzie when they were both about 14 years old. Their adventure began when they were searching for lobster pots on the beach. Instead they found something much more "exciting", a dead human body. Jeddy's father was a police officer in the small town they lived, so he wanted to stay on the right side of the law. Ruben decided to search the body and found a tobacco pouch and a half of a fifty dollar bill. He didn't think much of it and just put it in his pocket. They left the body there and ran back home and told Jeddy's father. When they came back, the body was gone. After this Jeddy's father made him get a job at a farm so he didn't see Ruben very much and their friendship was falling apart. new things were ending up in the newspaper about rum runners and this mysterious "Black Duck" boat. Before he knew it things were going around about people looking for half of a fifty dollar bill. It was supposed to be a ticket for a huge load of liquor, and Ruben hart had it and he kept his mouth shut. He ends up finding out that many of the local people that he would never expect, were rum runners or loaders themselves. The real adventure has barely started. Ruben ends up getting kidnapped and has the opportunity of a life time.