"That's what I am a-doin'," came from the sailor. "We'll catch 'em before they gain the Battery."
"Yes, but we must be careful," said Dick. "We don't want to have a collision with some other boat."
"No, indeed," put in Sam. "Why, if one of those big ferryboats ran into us there would be nothing left of the Searchlight."
"You jest trust me," came from Martin Harris, "I know my business, and there won't be any accidents."
"The other yacht is making for the Jersey, shore," cried Sam, a little later. "If we don't look out we'll lose her. There she goes behind' a big ferryboat."
"She's going to try to bother us," grumbled Martin Harris, as he received a warning whistle from the ferryboat and threw the yacht over on the opposite tack. "The fellow who is sailing that boat knows his business."
"Is that Bill Goss, I suppose," said Tom. "There they go behind another ferryboat."
"It won't matter, so long as we keep her in sight," said Harris. "We are bound to run her down sooner or later."
Inside of half an hour the two boats had passed the Statute of Liberty. The course of the Flyaway was now straight down the bay, and the Rover boys began to wonder where Dan Baxter and his crowd might be bound.
"They must have Dora a close prisoner," mused Dick, with a sad shake of his head. "That is if they didn't leave her in New York," he added suddenly.
"Do you suppose they did that?" asked Sam.
"Perhaps — there is no guessing what they did."
"We missed it by not telegraphing, back to the authorities at Cedarville to arrest Josiah Crabtree," said Tom. "I think we can prove that he is in this game before the curtain falls on the last act."
"We'll telegraph when we get back," answered Dick, never thinking of all that was to happen ere they should see the metropolis again.
Gradually the lights of the city faded from view and they found themselves traveling down the bay at a rate of five to six knots an hour.
"We don't seem to be gaining," remarked 'Tom, after a long silence. "I can just about make her out and that's all."
"But we are gaining, and you'll find it so pretty soon," answered Martin Harris. "They had the advantage in dodging among those other boats, but now we've got a clear stretch before us."
On and on went the two yachts, until the Flyaway was not over five hundred feet ahead of the Searchlight.
"What did I tell you?" said Harris. "We'll overtake her in less than quarter of an hour."
"This is a regular yacht race," smiled Dick grimly. "But it's for more than the American Cup."
"Keep off!" came suddenly from ahead. "Keep off, or it will be the worse for you!"
It was Dan Baxter who was shouting at them. The former bully of Putnam Hall stood at the stern rail of the Flyaway and was using his hands like a trumpet.
"You had better give up the race, Baxter!" called Dick in return. "You can't get away from us, no matter how hard you try."
"Keep off." repeated Baxter. "We won't stand any nonsense."
"We are not here for nonsense," put in Tom. "What have you done with Dora Stanhope?"
"Don't know anything about Dora Stanhope," came back from Mumps.
"You have her on board of your boat."
"It's a falsehood."
"Then you left her somewhere in New York."
"We haven't seen her at all," put in Baxter. If you are looking for her you are on the wrong trail. She went away with Josiah Crabtree."
"Did he take her to Albany?"
"No. They went West."
"We do not believe you, Baxter," said Dick warmly. "You are one of the greatest rascals I ever met — not counting your father — and the best thing you can do is to surrender. If you don't you'll have to take the consequences."
"And we warn you to keep off. If you don't we'll shoot at you," was the somewhat surprising response.
"No, no; please don't shoot at them!" came in Dom's voice. "I beg of you not to shoot!"
She had escaped from Mrs. Goss' custody and now ranged up alongside of Dan Baxter and her other enemies who were handling the Flyaway. Her hair was flying wildly over her shoulders and she trembled so she could scarcely stand.
THE MEETING IN THE BAY
"There is Dora now!" cried Dick, and his heart leaped into his throat at the sight of his dearest friend.
"Dick Rover, are you there?" came from the girl in nervous tones.
"Yes, Dora, I am here, with my brothers and a sailor friend."
"Save me, please!"
"We will!" came from all of the Rover boys in concert.
"Take her below!" roared Baxter angrily, as he turned to Mrs. Goss, who had followed Dora to the dock. "Didn't I tell you to keep a close eye on her?"
"She said she wished to speak to you," answered the woman. "I thought she wanted to make terms with you."
Mrs. Goss caught Dora by the wrist and, assisted by Mumps, carried her below. She struggled and tried to fight them off, and her cries, reaching Dick, made the youth long to be at her side.
"Let her alone, Baxter!" he cried hotly. "If you harm her you shall pay dearly for it, remember that!"
"Talk is cheap, Dick Rover," came back with a sneer. "Now keep off, or I'll do as I threatened."
"You won't dare to fire on us."
"Won't I? Just come a little closer and you'll see."
By this time the two yachts were not over a hundred feet apart, the Searchlight to the starboard of her rival. So, far the countless stars had brightened up the bosom of the ocean, but now Martin Harris noted a dark mass of clouds rolling up from the westward.
"We'll have it pretty dark in a few minutes," he cautioned. "If you want to haul up close, better do it at once."
"All right, run them down," ordered Dick, half recklessly. "I don't care how much their boat is damaged, so long as I save the girl. Mumps ran me down, remember."
"I reckon I can sheer 'me all right enough," grinned Harris, who by this time had entered fully into the spirit of the adventure. "But will they shoot?"
"I don't believe they have any firearms," said Tom. "And if they have I don't think Baxter could hit the side of a house at fifty yards."
"Are you going to keep off or not?" yelled Baxter. "I'll give you just ten seconds in which to make up your mind."
"By jinks! He has got a gun!" whispered Sam, as he caught a glint of the polished barrel. "The villain!"
"Baxter, you are playing a foolish game," answered Dick. "What do you intend to do with Dora Stanhope?"
"That's my business. I shan't harm her — if you'll promise to leave me alone."
"Did you run off with her on Crabtree's account?"
"It's none of your business," put in Mumps, who had just returned to the deck, after making sure that Dora should not get away from Mrs. Goss again for the time being.
"It is my business."
"You're awfully sweet on her, ain't you?"
"Do you know it's a State's prison offense to abduct anybody?"
"I haven't abducted anybody. She came of her own free will — at first. It's not my fault if she's sick of her bargain now."
"I don't believe a word you say."
"Do as you please. But are you going to keep off or not?"
"We'll not keep off."
"Then I'll fire on you."
"If you do so, we'll fire in return," said Sam. "Maybe we can scare him too," he added, in a whisper.
"I don't believe you've got any weapon," came from Mumps, in a voice that the toady tried in vain to steady. If there was one thing Mumps was afraid of it was a gun or a pistol.
"Try us and see," said Tom. Then he raised his voice. "Harris, bring up that brace of pistols you said were in the locker."
"All right," answered the sailor, catching at the ruse at once; and he hurried below, to return with two shining barrels, made of the handles of a dipper and a tin pot. He held one of the tin barrels out at arm's length. "Shall I fire on 'em now?" he demanded at the top of his voice.
"Don't!" shrieked Mumps, and dropped out of sight behind the mainmast of the Flyaway.
The toady had scarcely uttered the word when a loud report rang out, and a pistol bullet cut its way through the mainsail of the Searchlight. Baxter had fired his gun, but had taken good can to point the weapon over the Rover boys' heads. The bully now ran for the cabin, expecting to receive a shot in return, but of course it did not come.
By this time the two yachts were almost side by side and running along at a high rate of speed. Harris got out his boathook to catch fast to the Flyaway, when a cry from Tom made him pause.
"Help me! Don't leave me behind!"
"Great Caesar!" gasped Sam. "Tom's overboard!"
"Down with the mainsail!" roared Harris.
"How did he fall over the side?"
"He tried to jump to the other boat," said Dick, who had seen the action. "I was just thinking of doing it myself."
With all possible speed the big sheet of the Searchlight was lowered, and then they turned as fast as the wind would permit, to the spot where unlucky Tom was bobbing up and down on the swells like a peanut shell.
"Catch the line!" cried Dick, and let fly with a life preserver attached to a fair-sized rope. His aim was a good one, and soon Tom was being hauled aboard again with all possible speed.
"Oh, what a mess I made of it!" he panted when he could catch his breath. "I'm not fit to hunt jack rabbits."
"It's lucky you weren't run down by the yacht and killed," said Dick. "I was going to jump, but when I saw you go down I thought better of it."
Ten minutes of precious time had been lost, and now the Flyaway was once more far in the distance. She was heading for shore, and soon the oncoming darkness hid her from view.
"Now what's to be done?" questioned Sam.
"She'll slip us sure."
"She can't go very far," answered Harris. "The water-line around here is rather dangerous in the dark."
"Is that a storm coming up?" asked Dick.
"I wouldn't be surprised."
With care they continued on their way, taking the course they surmised their enemies had pursued.
"There is some kind of land!" cried Sam, who was on the watch. "What place is that, Harris?"
"Becker's Cove, so they call it," answered the old tar. "It's not far from Staten Island."
"Do you think they came in here?"
"If they did I reckon they calculate to stay over night."
"Because they'll want a pilot otherwise. It's rather dangerous sailing about here — especially in the dark."
Five minutes later found them close to shore, and the sails were lowered and the anchor cast out.
"I'm going to land," said Dick, and, after a consultation, it was decided that he should take Sam with him, leaving Tom and Martin Harris to keep watch from the yacht. If either party discovered anything, a double whistle twice repeated was to notify the others.
Now that Dan Baxter had actually opened fire on them, Dick wished he had a firearm of some sort. But none was at hand, nor did he know where to obtain such a thing in that vicinity, and the best he and Sam could do was to cut themselves clubs out of some brush growing not far from the shore line.
The spot at which they had landed was by no means an inviting one. It looked like a bit of dumping and meadow ground, and not far away rested the remains of half a dozen partly decayed canal boats which the tide had washed up high in the bogs years before.
"If they landed around here I'd like to know where they went to," grumbled Sam, after he and his big brother had trudged around for half an hour without gaining any clue worth following. "It begins to took as if we had missed it, doesn't it?"
"Never give up, Sam. We have got to find them, you know."
"Yes, if we don't break our necks before that time comes, Dick," and as Sam spoke he went down into a meadow hole up to his knees. Dick helped him out, and as, he did so the sound of two voices broke upon their ears.
"You needn't come if you don't want to, Mumps," came out of the darkness, in Dan Baxter's voice. "I only thought you would be glad of the chance."
"There they are," whispered Dick. "Lie down, and we'll see where they are bound, and if Dora is with them."
He threw, himself to earth, and Sam followed. In another moment Baxter and his toady came into plain view, although still some distance away.
"I'll come," came from Mumps. "But I didn't expect to meet your father here."
"I did. He's been here for several days. That's the reason why I had Goss bring the Flyaway over. I'm going to kill two birds with one stone."
"What do you mean?"
"I'm going to carry Dora Stanhope off, just as old Crabtree wanted, and I'm going to give my father a lift."
"You mean that you are going to help him to escape from the authorities?"
"I didn't put it that way. He wants to keep, out of sight."
"It amounts to the same thing, Dan."
"As you will. Will you come, or do you want to go back to the yacht?"
"I — er — I guess I'll come," faltered the toady. "But we must be careful."
"To be sure. I reckon I have as much at stake as you."
The two passed out of hearing, and Dick touched his brother on the arm.
"Did you hear that, Sam?" he asked excitedly.
"I did. What can it mean?"
"Mean? It means that Dan Baxter's father is in the neighborhood and Dan is going to call on his parent."
"I know that, but -"
'You are surprised that father and son are equally bad? I'm not; I thought it all along."
"What will you do?"
"Will you whistle for Tom and Martin Harris?"
"No; that might arouse suspicion. Let us follow them alone. When they return to their yacht we can tell the others," concluded Dick.
THE BAXTERS MAKE A NEW MOVE
As silently as possible Dick and Sam came after Baxter and his toady John Fenwick. The pair of evildoers left the stretch of meadow as fast as they could, and hurried up a narrow path leading to a half-tumbled-down brick factory.
At the corner of the dilapidated building they paused, and Dan Baxter emitted a long, low whistle. A silence of several seconds followed, and then a man appeared out of the darkness.
"Who's dat?" came the question.
"It's me, Girk — Dan Baxter," replied the former bully of Putnam Hall with small regard for the grammar that had been taught to him.
"Who's dat with you?"
"Mumps. He's all right."
"I don't know about dat. Yer father t'ought yer would come alone," growled the tramp thief.
"I've got a new movement on, Buddy. Take us to my father without delay."
"Is dat fellow to be trusted?"
"Yes, you can trust me," replied Mumps with considerable nervousness. His steps in the direction of wrong were beginning to frighten him.
At the start he had thought of nothing but to aid Josiah Crabtree in his suit with Mrs. Stanhope, and had calculated that after the marriage the running off with Dora would be overlooked. But here he was taking the girl miles from her home and associated with two men who had robbed a firm of bankers of many thousands of dollars. The outlook, consequently, worried him very much.
"All right, den," muttered Buddy Girk. "Follow me."
He disappeared within the ruined factory, and Baxter and Mumps went after him. Listening intently at a broken-out window, Dick and Sam heard them ascend to an upper floor.
"I guess we have tracked Arnold Baxter," whispered Dick. "I wonder if he and Girk have that stolen money and the securities here?"
"More than likely, Dick. Thieves don't generally leave their booty far out of their sight, so I've been told."
"I would like to make sure. I wonder if we can't go inside and hear some more of their talk?"
"We would be running a big risk. If Arnold Baxter caught us he would — would — Well, he wouldn't be very friendly, that's all," and Sam gave a shiver.
"I'm going in. You can remain outside, on watch. If you want me, whistle as we agreed."
"But be careful, Dick!" pleaded the younger brother.
"I will be."
"And don't stay too long," added Sam, who did not relish being left alone in such a forlorn looking spot, and in the intense darkness which had now settled down over them.
"I won't be any longer than necessary, you can depend on that," replied the big brother.
As silently as a cat after a mouse, Dick entered the gloomy building and felt his way over the half-rotted floor to where the stairs were located.
Ascending these, he found himself in something of a hallway, the upper floor of the building being divided into several apartments by wooden partitions nine or ten feet in height.
From one of the apartments shone a faint light. To this he made his way, and, looking through a good-sized knot-hole in the partition, he saw Arnold Baxter, Girk, and the two newcomers, seated on several boxes and boards. On one box stood a candle thrust in the neck of a bottle, some liquor and glasses, and a pasteboard box containing a cold lunch.
"So you're glad I've come, eh?" Dan Baxter was saying to his father.
"Yes, I am glad," was the slow reply, "that is — I want to get away from here as soon as possible."
"Why don't you go?"
"I'm afraid to go up into the town. I would prefer to go away by boat."
"To Searock, on the Jersey coast."
"Do you want us to take you there?"
"If you can do it, Dan. I'll give Mumps and .your sailor friend a nice little sum for your trouble."
"And don't I get anything?" cried the son sharply.
"To be sure, Dan."
"I'll give you a hundred dollars."
"Pooh! What's that? I want more."
"We'll arrange that later."
"You and Girk are making a fortune out of this deal."
"Not as much as you think."
"I've read the newspapers and I know how much was in the haul. I want a thousand dollars."
"We'll arrange that afterward, Dan. Remember, in the future what is mine is yours."
"Now you're talking, dad," was the bully's quick reply. "I like the way you are doing things, and I'm going to stick to you as soon as this little matter Mumps and I have on hand is settled."
"All right, you shall stay with me," responded the elder Baxter. "Where is your boat?"
"Not over half a mile from here."
"All ready to sail?"
'Then let us make off at once."
"Dat's it," put in Buddy Girk. "I'm afraid the police will let down on us any minit."
"The trouble is, that other boat I mentioned is after us."
"How many are on board?"
"The three Rover boys and an old sailor."
"Four, and we'll be five, not counting the woman you mentioned. I don't think I am afraid of the Rovers," returned Arnold Baxter. "Besides, can't we get away from them in the dark without their knowing what is up?"
"Perhaps we can," said the son slowly. "The trouble is — What's that?"
Dan Baxter stopped short, as a cracking sound broke upon their ears.
Dick had stepped on a rotten board, and it went down. His foot was caught and held at the ankle, and before he could extricate himself Arnold Baxter and Buddy Girk had him in their grasp.
"Dick Rover again!" ejaculated Arnold Baxter. "Where did you come from?"
"Your son can tell you that," answered Dick. "Let go of me!"
"To be sure I will!" returned the elder Baxter sarcastically. "Are you alone?"
"You can look for yourself."
"I don't see no buddy here," announced Girk, as he held up the candle. "Maybe somebody is downstairs."
"I'll go down and see," put in Dan Baxter.
Fearful that Sam might be caught, Dick did his best to break away. "Sam! Sam! look out for yourself!" he yelled. "Don't let them catch you! Call Tom and Harris, and the police, quick!"
"Hang the luck!" muttered Arnold Baxter. "We must cut for it, and be lively about it, too."
"Take de swag," said Girk, referring to a tin box hidden under the flooring of the factory. In this was hidden the money and securities stolen from Rush and Wilder.
He ran off to get the box. In the meantime Arnold Baxter stood undecided as to what to do. Then he raised his fist and struck Dick with an unexpected blow to the temple.
"Take that, you imp!" he cried, and the youth went down at full length more than half stunned.
In the meantime Sam heard the rapid footsteps and the cry of alarm, and his heart leapt to throat. Then, as Dan Baxter and Mumps came towards him, he retreated in the direction of the Searchlight, giving the danger signal as he ran.
"I've got de box!" shouted Buddy Girk to Arnold Baxter. "Wot's de next move?"
"Follow me," said Dan Baxter. "And lose no time. That other boy will soon have the whole neighborhood aroused."
Away went the crowd out of the factor, the bully leading. Once down in the meadow, Dan Baxter hurried them off in the direction of a tiny cove where the Flyaway lay at anchor, with Bill Goss on watch at the stern and Mrs. Goss in the cabin with Dora.
As quickly as they could do so, one after another tumbled on board of the yacht. They heard cries in the distance, as Tom and Martin Harris leaped ashore to join Sam.
"Up the mainsail!" roared Dan Baxter, and Goss obeyed the order with alacrity. At the same time Dan Baxter and Mumps pulled up the anchor; and in less than two minutes the Flyaway was standing out into the bay.
DOWN THE STATEN ISLAND SHORE TO SANDY HOOK
"Dick! Dick! What ails you?"
"My head, Sam! Arnold Baxter struck me down," came with a groan.
"Can you get up? We want to follow them," cried Tom, as he caught his brother by the arm. He had just reached the factory on a dead run, lantern in hand, to find Dick.
"I guess I can stand, Tom. But I can't run yet."
"Here, take the lantern and I'll carry you," came quickly, and in a moment more Tom Rover had Dick on his back and was running for the Searchlight as rapidly as the nature of the meadow land permitted, Dick holding the light over his head so that both might see.
The alarm had now become general, and by the time the yacht was gained two police officers, who had been on the hunt for harbor thieves, appeared.
"What's the row about?" demanded one of the officers of the law, as he came into view.
"Is that an officer?" questioned Dick feebly,
"I am an officer — yes."
"We are after some thieves and some parties who have abducted a girl. Will you help us?"
"Certainly, if what you say is true. Where is the crowd?"
"They ran off in that direction," came from Sam, as he loomed up out of the darkness. "They have a yacht out there somewhere."
"Then we can't catch them — unless we get a boat," answered Sergeant Brown.
"We have a boat, out this way," and Sam pointed with his hand. "But I guess we had better make certain that they go out first."
"True for you, young man. Lead the way and we'll be with you."
All ran on again, Tom bringing up in the rear with Dick. Soon the cove previously mentioned was gained. They were just in time to see the Flyaway disappearing in the darkness.
"Come back here!" cried Tom. "If you don't it, will be the worse for you!"
"Don't you attempt to follow us!" came savagely from Arnold Baxter. "If you do, somebody will get shot!"
"By crickety, he's a bad one!" cried the second police officer.
"Stop! I order you to stop, in the name of the law!" shouted Sergeant Brown.
"It's the police!" howled Mumps in sudden terror. "Oh, dear! I knew we should catch it."
"Shut up," muttered Dan Baxter. "Run up the jib, Goss, and be quick about it!"
"You do it — I'll have to steer here," answered the sailor, and Dan Baxter leaped for the sheet mentioned.
"Are you going to stop?" cried Sergeant Brown, after a few seconds' pause.
To this there was no answer. The sergeant drew his pistol, but before he could use it, even if he so intended, the yacht was nothing but an uncertain shadow in the gloom of the night.
"We had better get to your boat," said the police officer.
"All right; come on," said Sam, and showed the way, which was decidedly uncertain. At one point there was a wide ditch to cross, and Tom had his hands full getting Dick over.
Martin Harris was watching for them, and had all ready to cast off should this be required.
"I'm mighty glad you found the police," he said to Dick, who now felt able to do for himself once more. "Will they go with us?"
"You are certain those folks on the other boat are thieves?" demanded Sergeant Brown. "Carter and I don't want to go off on any wild goose chase."
"They are not only thieves, but abductors," said Dick. "We can easily prove it. They must be caught if it is possible to do so."
"All right then, we'll go with you. Come, Carter," and the two officers hopped on board. Soon the mainsail was set, followed by all the other available canvas, and the Searchlight was continuing the chase which had been so curiously broken off.
Martin Harris was in the dark so far as knowing what course the Flyaway had taken, and had to trust to luck to fall in with the fleeing craft.
"If she's going outside of Staten Island, I reckon I can spot her before long," he said.
"It looks to me as if the clouds were blowing away," said Tom. "If they do, the starlight will help us a good deal."
As the yacht tore along through the water, the two police officers listened with close attention to what the boys had to tell them.
"If they are the men who robbed Rush & Wilder it will make a fine haul to capture them," said Sergeant Brown.
"We want to save Dora Stanhope as much as we want to catch those thieves," returned Dick. "I wonder if her disappearance has been reported to the police?"
"I can't say. You see, Carter and I have been out all day looking for a pair of harbor thieves who stole some clothing from a pleasure yacht lying off the Staten Island shore."
"Did you see anything of your men?"
"We saw them; but they got away in a rowboat. Where they have gone to is hard telling. But I don't imagine the theft amounted to much — at least, it was nothing in comparison to the crimes you are trying to run down."
On and on went the Searchlight through the night, and slowly but surely the clouds in the heavens cleared away, letting the stars shine down once more on the silent waters.
Suddenly Martin Harris gave a murmur of satisfaction. "There she is."
"The Flyaway!" came from several of the others.
"Yes. Just as I thought; she is heading down the Staten Island shore straight for Sandy Hook."
"They are bound for Searock!" cried Dick suddenly. "Mr. Baxter mentioned the place just before they discovered that I was spying on them."
"That's a good way down the New Jersey coast," said Sergeant Brown. "Can this boat stand such a sail?"
"Can she?" snorted Harris. "She's strong enough to go to Europe if you want to make the trip."
"Thank you; when I go to Europe I'll go in a steamer," laughed the police officer. "I don't think you'd do much in a heavy blow."
"The Searchlight would hold her own," answered the old sailor confidently.
The breeze was increasing, and they rounded the Narrows at a lively rate. The swell from the ocean now struck them, and the yacht occasionally dipped her nose a. little deeper into it than was expected.
"Here, I don't want, to get wet!" cried Carter. "I'm no sailor, you know."
"You won't get much," laughed Harris. "This roll is just enough to be pleasant."
"Perhaps — to some people," came from the policeman, who had never cared for the rolling deep and who was beginning to feel a trifle seasick. Fortunately for him, however, the sickness proved mild and of short duration.
The Flyaway was now in plain sight but too far off to be spoken. She had every sail set to its fullest, and for the time being it seemed impossible for the Searchlight to gain upon her. Thus mile after mile was covered, until Sandy Hook lighthouse could be plainly seen but a short distance away.
"We are out in the ocean now," remarked Dick an hour later. "Gracious, when I left Cedarville I didn't think that this was going to develop into such a long chase!"
"Never mind how far we go, if only the chase proves a success," answered Tom. "If we succeed in not only rescuing Dora, but also in bringing those thieves to justice, it will be a big feather in our caps."
"I'm glad the police are along," came from Sam. "They must be well armed, and I don't see how Arnold Baxter and the others will dare resist them."
"They will dare a good deal to keep out of prison, Sam," remarked Dick. "They know well enough that if they are caught it may mean a long term for each of them."
On and on went the two yachts until Sandy Hook lighthouse was left in the distance. Once it began to cloud over as if there was a storm in sight, but soon the rising sun came out brightly over the rim of the ocean.
When it came mealtime Sam prepared the repast, and all, even the officers of the law enjoyed what was served to them. "It gives one an appetite, this salt air," was Sergeant Brown's comment.
Soon they were standing down the New Jersey coast, but so far out on the ocean that the shore line was little more than a dark streak on the horizon.
"Are we gaining?" That was the question each asked, not once but a score of times. Martin Harris felt sure that they were; but if this was so, the advantage on the side of the Searchlight was but a slight one.
SEARCHLIGHT AND LANTERN
"One thing is in our favor," remarked Dick, as the day wore away and the distance between the two yachts seemed undiminished. "Even if we don't succeed in catching them before tonight we know where they are bound."
"Perhaps it might be as well to hang back!" burst in Tom. "If we remain in sight they won't land as intended."
"The thing of it is, they may change their plans, especially if they think your brother overheard their talk," put in the police sergeant. "My idea is, they'll keep right on down the coast until the darkness hides them from us. Then they'll try to sneak in some cove or river and abandon the boat."
"They'll have a job taking Dora Stanhope along," was Sam's remark. "I don't believe she'll go another step willingly."
"As if she has gone willingly!" said Dick.
"Well, I mean she'll be more on her guard than she was, and they'll have more of a job to make her go along."
Night settled down gradually and found every heart full of serious speculation. Dick was especially affected, for he had hoped to see Dora rescued hours before.
"Goodness only knows where they will take her by morning!" he groaned. "I'd give almost anything to be at her side!"
With the going down of the sun the wind died away and the sails of the Searchlight flapped idly to and fro.
"Now it's a waiting game," announced Martin Harris. "If we can't move neither can they."
"Just the same, the Flyaway is turning out to sea!" cried Tom. "Now what can that mean?"
"That may be only a blind," said Carter.
"No, they are afraid of drifting on the sands," answered the skipper of the Searchlight. "I reckon we'll have to turn out, too," and he changed the course of the yacht.
Darkness found both boats far out on the Atlantic and almost out of sight of each other.
"This is maddening!" cried Dick. "Can't we row, or do something?"
"Rowing wouldn't count much, I'm afraid," laughed Martin Harris. "But don't fret. Unless I am mistaken, we'll have a breeze before midnight."
"And they may be out of sight long before that time!"
"That's to be seen, lad. I'll watch the thing closely, for I'm as anxious to catch 'em as you are."
"I'd give a good deal for a small boat."
"So would I."
"I thought all yachts carried them."
"They do generally, but mine was stove in at a Catskill dock about a week ago and is being repaired."
"Here comes the wind!" shouted Sam, half an hour later, and when the Flyaway was almost out of sight. "Now, Harris, let us make the most of it."
"We will, and I hope there isn't too much of it," was the quick reply.
Soon the breeze struck them, and, as it came from shore, it hit the Searchlight first and drove her fairly close to the other yacht. But before anything could be said or done, the other craft also moved; and then the chase began as before.
"We're getting all we want now," announced Tom, as the wind grew heavier. "Just look how the yacht dips her nose into the brine!"
"We'll have to shorten sail before long," said Martin Harris. "If we don't, a sudden gust might make us lose our stick."
"I'd like to see the Flyaway lose her mast!" cried Tom. "It would just serve the Baxters right if they went to the bottom."'
"No, we don't want to see that yacht harmed," put in Dick quickly. "Remember, Dora is on board — and that stolen fortune, too."
Swiftly both yachts flew on their outward course, the ocean growing more tempestuous each minute. The police officers viewed the turn of affairs with alarm.
"If it's not safe, let us turn back," whispered Carter.
"Don't get scared so soon," replied Harris, who overheard the remark. "I've been' in a worse blow than this, twice over."
The sails were reefed, and they continued on their course. The Flyaway was now but a shadow in the gloom, and presently even this died out.
"The chase is over," announced Harris with disgust. "Hang the luck anyhow!"
"What do you, mean?" demanded Dick.
"She's out of sight, and there is no telling now how she will turn."
"But she can't tack back in this wind."
"She can make a putty good try at it, lad."
"Not much of a one, lad. There is a little electric battery and light in the cabin, one that was used by a professor that I took out two years ago, when the yacht was built. He was interested in electricity and he made the light himself. I never used it, for I didn't understand how it worked."
"Let us look at the light; perhaps we can do something with it," said Dick.
"That's the talk," came from Tom. "Anything is better than holding your hands and doing nothing."
Martin Harris was willing, and led the way into the cabin. Battery and light were stored away in a couple of soap boxes, and the boys brought them out and set them on the cabin table.
"I think I can fix these up," said Dick, after a long examination. "The batteries are not in very good shape, but I think they will do. They are meant to work on the same plan as these new electric lights for bicycles, only they are, I reckon, more powerful."
"Well, do what you please with the machine," said Martin Harris. "In the meantime, I'll see what I can do with a lantern and a tin reflector. Sometimes you can see a white sail putty good with a tin reflector."
He hurried to the deck again, and Sam, who was not much interested in electricity, followed him. One of the best of the yacht's lanterns was polished up to the last degree, and they also polished the metal reflector until it shone like a newly coined silver piece.
"That's a good light!" cried Sam, when it was lit up. "Where will you place it?"
"Up at the top of the mast," answered the old sailor. "I'll show you."
It took some time to adjust the lantern just right, but this accomplished they found that they could see for a distance of a hundred yards or more.
"I see the sail!" announced Harris. "Don't you — just over our port bow?"
"I see it," answered Sergeant Brown. "Not very far off either."
Without delay the course of the Searchlight was changed so that she was headed directly for the Flyaway.
"Keep off!" was the cry out of the darkness. "Keep off, or it will be the worse for you!"
"You may as well give up," shouted back the police sergeant. "You are bound to be caught sooner or later."
"We don't think go. If it comes to the worst, remember, we can do a heap of fighting."
"We can fight too," was the grim response.
"Dora! Dora! Are you safe?" shouted Sam, with all the strength of his youthful lungs.
"Save me!" came back the cry. "Don't let them carry me further away."
"We'll do our best, don't fear."
Dora wanted to say more, but was prevented from doing so by Mumps, who again hurried her below.
"You must lock her up," he said to Mrs. Goss, and once more the unhappy girl found herself a prisoner in the cabin.
She had hoped for much during the chase along shore, but now her heart sank like a lamp of lead and she burst into tears.
"No use of crying," said Mrs. Goss. "It won't help you a bit."
"I want to be free!" sobbed Dora. "Where will they take me?"
"Never mind; you just be quiet and wait."
"But you are running directly out into the ocean!"
"What of that?"
"I don't wish to go."
"You'll have to take what comes, as I told you before."
"Mrs. Goss, have you no pity, for me?"
"If I did have it wouldn't do you any good, Miss Dora. I've got to do as the men folks want me to do. If I don't they'll make —"
The woman did not finish what she was saying. A loud report rang out on deck, followed by the distant crash of glass. Then came a yell, followed by another report and more crashing of glassware.
"What can that mean?" burst out Dora, but instead of answering her, Mrs. Goss bounced out of the cabin, locking the door after her, and hurried to the deck.
A SHOT FROM THE DARKNESS
The shots which had reached Dora's ears had come from a gun in the hands of Arnold Baxter.
The man had been enraged at the sight of the lantern on the mast of the Searchlight, and, taking careful aim, had sent a charge of shot into the affair, smashing globe, reflector, and tin cup, and scattering the oil in all directions.
"Hurrah, I struck it!" shouted Arnold Baxter gleefully. "Now they won't see us quite so plainly."
"Knock out the other lantern, pop," put in Dan Baxter, and the parent turned in the second barrel of the shotgun with equal success.
For an instant the deck of the Searchlight seemed to be in darkness. Sam felt a bit of hot glass strike him on the cheek and raised his hand to brush it off. Then he felt something warm on the back of his leg. Looking down he saw to his horror that some of the oil from the lantern had fallen on him and that it was ablaze!
"Help! Help!" he shrieked. "I'm burning up!"
His cry alarmed everybody, and all, even Dick and Tom, came rushing to his aid. But Sergeant Brown was first, and he promptly threw the boy down flat and, whipping off his coat, began to beat out the flames.
Another shot now rang out, aimed at a third lantern, but the light was not struck. By this time Martin Harris made the discovery that the mainsail was on fire in two places, while the jib was also suffering.
"This is getting hot!" he cried, when Carter opened up fire at random, determined to do what he could. A yell and a groan followed, and then all became quiet, and firing on both sides was over.
Fortunately for Sam, the flames upon his person were quickly extinguished, and all the lad really suffered was the ruin of his trousers and an ugly blister on the calf of his leg. But he was badly scared, and when it was over he had almost to be carried to the cabin.
In the meantime Martin Harris procured several pails of water and a long-handled swab and with these did what he could to extinguish the fire on the sails. Several of the others joined in, and inside of ten minutes all danger of a conflagration was past.
"That's the worst yet!" growled the old sailor, as he surveyed the mainsail, which had two holes in it each is large as a barrel. "I'd like to wring the neck of the fellow as did it, yes I would," and he shook his head determinedly.
"That's the end of that light," said Sergeant Brown. "What are you going to do next?"
"I think I can get that searchlight to work," put in Dick. "But will it be of any use? They may start to shooting again."
"We've got to have some kind of a light, even if it's only a tallow candle," grumbled Harris.
"If we haven't got a light some coastwise steamer may run us down."
He set to work to rig up a temporary light, and in the meantime Dick returned to the cabin to experiment with the electric light. He found Sam on the couch, bathing his leg with oil to take away the sting of the bum.
"How is it, Sam — hurt much?"
"I suppose it might be worse," was the younger brother's reply. "I wonder who fired that shot?"
"One of the Baxters, more than likely. They are a cold-blooded pair."
"One or more of us might have been killed if we had been directly behind the lights."
"That is true. I don't suppose Arnold Baxter would care much if we were. He was father's enemy, you must remember, and he said he hated all of us."
Sam resumed his bathing and Dick turned to the cabin table, upon which the battery and other portions of the searchlight rested.
Dick had always been greatly interested in electricity and therefore the parts of the battery before him were not hard for him to understand.
But there was one trouble with the battery which did not reach his eye as he turned it around and started it up. That was that a portion of the insulation of a main wire was worn off.
As he turned on the current there was a flash and the light blazed up almost as bright as day.
"That's fine!" cried Sam. "We'll be able to see the Flyaway a long distance off now."
"Well, I only hope when we put this up it won't be knocked out like the other lights were."
"Of course we'll have to run that risk."
In a minute more Dick started to carry the searchlight to the deck.
He had turned off the light proper, consequently the way to the companionway was rather dark.
He had almost reached the top of the steps when Sam heard a scream, saw a flash of fire, and then Dick came tumbling to the cabin floor in a heap, with the battery and light beside him.
"My gracious, he's been shocked!" burst out the youngest Rover; and, forgetting all about his burn, ran to his brother's assistance.
"What's that noise?" came from the deck.
"Dick's been shocked by the searchlight!" cried Sam. "Come down here, somebody, and let us see what we can do for him."
"Shocked, is it!" cried Sergeant Brown. "If that's the case, look out that somebody else don't catch it."
Tom came tumbling down, followed by both police officers, and Dick was picked up and deposited on the couch. Then Sam kicked the searchlight and batteries into a corner.
"They can stay there for all I care," said he.
"They are too dangerous, unless, a chap knows just how to handle them."
Dick lay with his eyes wide open, but unable to move. Tom bent down and announced that his heart was still beating.
But little in the way of restoratives were at hand, and the most they could do was to rub the youth's body in an attempt to restore the circulation.
"Oh, I hope he isn't permanently injured!" cried Tom. "If he should turn out a cripple it would be awful!"
"That's so," answered Sam. "Poor Dick! He's as bad off as if those rascals had shot him."
Slowly Dick came to his senses. But he was very weak, and soon he discovered that he was powerless to move his left arm.
"It's all numb," he announced. "It feels as if it was dead."
"Let me shake it for you," said Tom, and both brothers went to work, but with small success. The arm hung down as limp as a rag, and the left leg was nearly as badly off, although Dick said he could feel a slight sensation in it, like so many needles sticking him.
"You see, I've been afraid of that battery right along," said Martin Harris. "The professor got shocked once, and he limped around for a long while after."
"But he got over it at last, didn't he?" questioned Tom eagerly.
"I can't say about that. He went off, and I haven't seen him since," was the unsatisfactory reply.
The injuries to Dick and to Sam had somewhat dampened Tom's ardor, and he wondered what they had best do next, and spoke to the police officers about it.
"I don't know of anything but to turn back to shore," said Sergeant Brown. "We've lost them in the dark, and that is all there is to it. If we go ashore we can send out an alarm, and as soon as the Flyaway is spotted, somebody will go out and arrest everybody on board — I mean everybody but the young lady, of course."
"But they may come ashore in the dark."
"And they may do that even if we stay out here — and then they'll have more of an advantage than ever. No, I think the best thing we can do is to turn back to the coast and make the safest landing we can find."
When Dick heard of this, however, he shook his head. "Don't go back yet," he pleaded. "See if you can't make out the Flyaway somewhere. She won't dare to sail very far without a light."
"I don't go for giving up just yet," put in Martin Harris. "As the lad says, she'll show a light very soon now — for there is a coastwise steamer a-coming," and he pointed in the direction of Sandy Hook.
He was right, and soon the many lights from the big steam vessel could be plainly seen. She was heading almost directly for them, but presently steered to the eastward.
"She must be almost in the track of the Flyaway," went on Martin Harris. "Just wait and see if I ain't right."
They waited and watched eagerly, and thus five minutes passed. Then from a distance they saw a light flash up.
"There she is!" cried Tom. "Let us head for her at once. They won't keep that light out long — just long enough to let that steamer go by."
Martin Harris was already at the tiller, and soon the Searchlight was thrown over and was again dipping her nose in the long ocean swells. The wind had died away only to freshen more than ever, and the chase now became a lively one.
The enemy seemed to know that the exposure of their light had given those on the Searchlight the cue, and they were sailing as rapidly as all of their canvas permitted. But Harris was now handling his craft better than ever before, and slowly but surely the distance between the two craft was diminished, until the Flyaway could be made out faintly even without a light.
"Don't lose her again," said Dick. "We must keep at it until we run them down completely." And Harris promised to do his best.
It was now past midnight, and the police officers said they were tired out and dropped into the cabin to take a nap. Dick likewise remained below, trying to get up some circulation in the lamed arm.
"Can't you feel anything?" queried Tom.
"I think I can," answered his big brother. "Yes, yes, it's coming now!" he went on. "Thank God!" and he suddenly raised the arm and bent the fingers of his hand. By daylight that member of his body was nearly as well as ever. But this experience was one which Dick has not forgotten to the present day.
Sam had bound up his burn with a rag saturated with oil and flour, and announced that he felt quite comfortable. "But just let me get hold of those Baxters," he added. "I shan't stand on any ceremony with them."
"I don't believe any of us will," said Tom.
"But as anxious as I am to have this over, I would just as lief have the chase last until morning. Then we'll be better able to see what we are doing."
"Or trying to do," said Sam with a faint smile.
A FLAG OF TRUCE
Sunrise found the two yachts far out on the ocean with land nowhere in sight. The- breeze was still stiff, but it was not as heavy as it had been, and Martin Harris was unable to decrease the space which separated his own craft from that of the enemy.
"You see, the Searchlight is the better boat in a strong blow," he explained. "When the wind is light the Flyaway has as good a chance of making headway as we have."
"Well, one thing is certain," said Tom. "This chase can't last forever."
"It may last longer than you imagine, lad."
"Hardly. We haven't more than enough provisions aboard to last over today."
"Perhaps the other boat is even worse off," said Sergeant Brown hopefully. "If that's the case we'll starve them out."
"I don't care what we do, so long as we rescue Dora and get that stolen fortune," said Dick, as he dragged himself to the crowd, followed by Sam.
"And how's Sam?" questioned Tom, turning to his younger brother.
"Oh, I'm all right — if it comes to fighting."
"And you, Dick?"
"I think I can do something — at least, I am willing to try."
Breakfast — a rather scant meal — had just been disposed of, when Martin Harris uttered a shout.
"They want to do some talking," he announced.
"Why, what do you mean?" asked Dick.
"They are hoisting a white rag."
"Sure enough!" ejaculated Tom, as he pointed to a flag of truce which Dan Baxter was holding aloft, fastened to an oar. "What do you make of that?"
"They want to make terms," laughed Sergeant Brown. "I reckon things are coming our way at last."
"Do we want to talk to them?" asked Tom.
"Let us make them surrender, and do the talking afterward," came from Sam.
"It won't hurt to let them talk," said the police sergeant. "We can do as we please, anyway, after they are done."
The matter was discussed for a moment, and then Tom tied his handkerchief to a stick and held it up.
"Ahoy there!" came from Arnold Baxter. "Will you honor the flag of truce?"
"Yes," yelled Sergeant Brown.
"And let us have our distance after our talk is over, if we can't come to terms?"
"All right, then; we'll come close enough to talk to you."
Slowly and cautiously the Flyaway drew nearer, until all on board of Harris' yacht could see their enemies quite plainly.
Arnold Baxter was armed with a shotgun, while Buddy Girk and Dan Baxter carried pistols. Mumps kept out of sight as much as possible, while Bill Goss attended to the steering of the boat. Dora and Mrs. Goss were below.
"Well, what have you got to say?" demanded Dick, as soon as the others were within easy talking distance.
"How many on board of that yacht?" demanded Arnold Baxter, as he looked at the police officers glumly.
"Enough," replied Dick. "Is that all you've got to say?"
"Don't grow impudent, boy. It won't set well."
"A person couldn't be impudent to such a rat such as you, Arnold Baxter."
"Have a care, Dick Rover. What do you propose to do?"
"Land all of you in jail, rescue Dora Stanhope, and recover that money you stole."
"Yes — indeed! Don't you think we are pretty close to doing it?"
"No, you are a long way off. You won't dare to break this truce while the flags fly. If you do, I'll shoot you just as sure as you are born."
"I don't intend to dishonor any truce, Arnold Baxter. But, nevertheless, you and your crowd are almost at the end of your rope, and you know it."
"Feeling hungry, ain't you?" put in Martin Harris.
"You shut up!" roared Dan Baxter, for Harris had hit the nail exactly on the head. "We'll settle this with the Rovers and the police, not with you."
"You'll settle with me for burning my sails and breaking my lanterns," retorted the skipper of the Searchlight wrathfully.
"Let us come to terms," went on Arnold Baxter in a milder tone. "I reckon what you want principally is to rescue Dora Stanhope?"
"Yes, I want that," said Dick quickly.
"If we hand her over to you, will you promise not to follow us any longer?"
"Well - er - what of that money?" began Dick, glancing at those around him.
"We can't let you go," interposed Sergeant Brown. "You are wanted for that robbery in Albany."
"We deny the robbery," said Arnold Baxter.
"All right — you'll have a chance to clear yourself in court."
"We are not going to court, not by a jugful," put in Buddy Girk. "If we give up the gal that's got to end it. Otherwise, we don't give her up, see?"
"But you'll have to give her up later on," put in Tom. "And the longer you keep her the more you will have to suffer for it, when it comes to a settlement."
"Let's give her up," whispered Mumps to Dan Baxter. To the credit of the toady let it be said that he was heartily sick of the affair and wished he had never entered into it.
"You keep your mouth shut!" answered the former bully of Putnam Hall. "My dad knows how to work this racket."
"Somebody said something about being hungry," continued Arnold Baxter significantly, "I imagine Miss Stanhope is as hungry as any of us, if not more so."
"Do you mean to say you are starving her!" cried Dick indignantly.
"I mean to say that she will have to starve just as much as we do," was the unsatisfactory answer.
"And you have run out of provisions?"
"We have run out of provisions for her, yes."
"That means that you won't give her any more, even though you may have some for yourselves? You are even bigger brutes than I took you to be," concluded the elder Rover boy bitterly.
"We've got to look out for ourselves," said Dan Baxter. "If we let you have the girl you ought to be satisfied."
"Let us talk to Dora," suggested Tom.
"No, you can't see her unless you agree to our terms," said Arnold Baxter decidedly. "If we bring her up now she may try to get away from us."
"You have got to submit to arrest and stand trial," said Sergeant Brown. "There are no two ways about it. If you won't submit quietly we'll have to fight. But let me tell you, if you fight it will go hard with you."
"That's right; make them give up everything," put in Tom. "I'll fight them if it comes to the worst."
"If only they don't harm Dora!" whispered Dick. "Think, they may be starving her already!"
"I don't believe they would dare, Dick."
"Dare? I think the Baxters are cruel enough to do most anything."
"Officer, do you know that you are on the high seas and can't touch us?" went on Arnold Baxter, after an awkward pause.
"I know nothing of the kind, and I'll risk what I am doing," retorted Sergeant Brown.
"Can't we compromise this matter?"
"What else have you to propose?"
"I'll tell you what I'll do. If you'll agree not to molest us further I'll turn the girl over to you and make each of you a present of one hundred dollars," went on Arnold Baxter nervously.
"Want to bribe us, eh?" cried Tom. "Thanks, but we are not in that business."
"I never took a bribe yet, and I've been on the force six years," put in Carter.
"You can't bribe me," said the sergeant, in a tone that admitted of no argument. "You must surrender absolutely or take the consequences."
"All right, then; we'll take the consequences," was the reckless response. "And remember, we hold that girl, and any harm you do us will only counteract on her head."
"Don't you dare to harm her, you villain!" cried Dick, turning pale. "Whatever you do you shall answer for in court."
"Humph, Dick Rover, don't be so smart," put in Dan Baxter. "This game is still ours, and you know it."
"I know nothing of the kind. We will starve you out and fight you, and you will see what the end will be, Dan Baxter," retorted Dick; and then the two yachts began to drift apart once more.
As the Flyaway moved off, Mumps, who had disappeared for a minute, came into sight once more. In his hand he hold something white, which he threw with all force at the Searchlight's mainsail.
"Take that!" he cried. "Take that, and remember me!"
By this time the two yachts were so far apart that no more could be said.
"What was that you threw on their boat?" demanded Baxter, turning to his toady.
"A seashell," replied Mumps. "I thought I could hit Dick Rover with it."
"Humph, you had better take some lessons in throwing," muttered the bully. "You didn't come within a dozen feet of him."
"Never mind; I showed them I wasn't afraid of them," said Mumps, and turned away. Then he looked back anxiously. "I hope they pick it up and see what's inside!" he murmured. "Oh, but ain't I tired of this crowd! If ever I get out of this, you can wager I'll turn over a new leaf and cut Dan Baxter dead."
THE COLLISION IN THE FOG
"Hullo! Mumps isn't keeping this flag of truce very good," remarked Sam, as the seashell dropped at his feet.
"There is something inside of the shell," said Tom. "A bit of paper. Perhaps it's a message?"
"I'll soon see," returned his younger brother, and ran to where he could not be seen from the other yacht.
He pulled from the seashell a small, square of paper, upon which had been hastily scrawled the following in lead pencil:
"I will help you all I can and hope you won't prosecute me. I will see that Dora S. gets something to eat, even if I give her my share. They intend to go to Sand Haven if they can give you the slip."
"Good for Mumps! He's coming to his senses," cried Sam, and showed the others the message. Dick read the words with much satisfaction.
"I hope he does stand by Dora," he said. "If so, I'll shield him all I can when the crowd is brought up for trial."
"If he tells the truth we may as well put into harbor and make for Sand Haven," said Martin Harris, who had now resumed the chase once more.
"Yes; but he may not be telling the truth," was Sergeant Brown's comment. "The whole thing may be a trick to get us to go to Sand Haven while that crowd goes somewhere else."
"I think they are tired of carrying the girl around," said Carter. "To give her up to us would have been no hardship."
"That's it," put in Martin Harris. "Well, I'm willing to do whatever the crowd says."
The matter was talked over at some length, and it was finally decided to cruise around after the Flyaway for the best-part of the day. If, when night came on, the other craft should steer in the direction of Sand Haven, they would do likewise, and land as soon as darkness came to cover up their movements.
Slowly the day wore along and the two yachts kept at about the same distance. They were both running due south, and land was out of sight as before.
"This is developing into a regular ocean trip and no mistake," remarked Tom, as he dropped into a seat near the cabin. "Who would have thought it when we left Cedarville in such a hurry?"
"I'd like to know how things are going up there," mused Dick. "It will be too bad if Josiah Crabtree succeeds in marrying Mrs. Stanhope while we are away."
"Let us hope for the best," put in Sam.
"Hullo, the Flyaway is moving eastward!"
"What does that mean, Harris?" cried Dick.
"It means that they want to make the most of this wind," responded the skipper of the yacht grimly. "I'm learning a trick or two on 'em, and I'll overreach 'em if they ain't careful."
"You can't do it any too quick," answered Dick. "When next we meet there won't be quite so much talking. Instead, we'll have some acting, and pretty lively at that."
Sergeant Brown was questioned concerning his weapons, and said he had two pistols and Carter had the same. One of the extra weapons was loaned to Dick and the second went to Tom. It was decided that in case of a close brush Sam and Harris were to arm themselves with anything that was handy, but otherwise they were to attend to the sailing of the Searchlight.
Provisions, to use Tom's way of expressing it, were now "more than low," and as they ate the scant food dealt around, Dick could not help but think of how Dora might be faring.
"I'd willingly starve myself if only it would give her what she needs," he thought. It made him sick at heart to think of how she might be suffering.
Mile after mile was passed, until the sun began to descend over to the westward. The yachts were now close on to quarter of a mile apart.
"Here comes another steamer!" cried Tom presently. "Look here, why can't we get some help from her?"
"Perhaps we can!" burst out Dick. "I never thought of that."
"Let us signal her anyway," suggested Sergeant Brown.
A flag was run up as high as the topmast permitted, and they headed directly for the steamer's course.
As the ship came closer they made her out to be a big "tramp" from the South American trade. For the benefit of those who do not know, let me state that a tramp steamer is one going from one port to another regardless of any regular route, the movements of the craft depending entirely upon the freight to be picked up.
"She sees the signal!" exclaimed Dick, after an anxious wait of several minutes.
Slowly the steamer came up to them, and then her ponderous engines ceased to work.
"What is wanted?" came in Spanish from a dark-looking man on the forward deck.
"Can't you talk English?" cried Dick.
"We are after that other sail-boat. The men in her are thieves and have abducted a girl, too. Will you help us catch them?"
At this the man on the steamer drew down his face and held a consultation with several behind him.
"You are sure they are thieves?" he asked presently.
"Have they with them the money that was stolen?"
"We are pretty certain they have."
"And the girl?"
"And what is the reward for the girl, senor?"
"Well, I declare!" burst out Tom. "They are after a reward the first thing."
"No reward yet," answered Dick. "But there may be."
At this the South American scowled. "We cannot lose time on a hunt that is worth nothing," he said. "We must get to Brooklyn by tomorrow morning."
"You won't help us bring them to justice?"
"We cannot afford to lose the time."
Without further words the big steamer's engines were started up again and away she sped, leaving the Searchlight to sink and rise on the rollers left in her wake.
"My, but that fellow is accommodating!" groaned Dick. "He isn't doing a single thing without pay."
"We might have bought some provisions from him," put in Martin Harris. "I reckon he'd sell some for a round price — being so near to the end of his voyage."
"I don't want his stuff," remarked Sam.
"I'm afraid it would choke me if I tried to eat it."
The stop had given the Flyaway an advantage, and she was making, the most of it. But before the gun went down those on the other yacht saw her head for the coast once more.
"I guess the note told the truth," said Harris.
"Is Sand Haven near here?" questioned Tom.
"It is not over half a mile further down the coast."
"And how far are we out?" was the police sergeant's question.
"Between five and six miles, as near as I can calculate."
"Will they be able to run in by dark?"
"I think so. You see, the wind is shifting, and it depends a good bit on how much it veers around," concluded the old sailor.
Slowly the sun sank in the west. It was growing cloudy and a mist was rising. The mist made Martin Harris shake his head; but, not wishing to alarm the others, he said nothing.
But soon Dick noticed the mist and so did the rest. "Gracious, supposing we get caught in a fog!" muttered Tom.
"I was just thinking of it," returned his elder brother. "There will be no fun in it — if we are out of sight of land."
A quarter of an hour went by, and still no land appeared. It was now so raw that the boys were glad enough to button their coats tightly about them. Then, of a sudden, the fog came rolling over them like a huge cloud, and they were unable to see a dozen yards in any direction.
"This is the worst yet!" groaned Sam. "What's to do now?"
"Yes, what's to do now?" repeated Sergeant Brown. "Can you make the coast, skipper?"
"To be sure I can," replied Harris, as he looked at the compass. "But I don't know about landing. You see we might stick our nose into a sandbank before we knowed it."
"Perhaps the fog will lift?" suggested Carter.
"A fog like this isn't lifting in a hurry," said Dick. "Like as not it won't move until the sun comes up tomorrow morning," and in this guess he was right.
A half-hour went by, and from a distance came the deep note of a fog-horn, sounding apparently from up the shore.
"We ought to have a horn," said Sam. "Some big boat may come along and run us down."
"There is a horn in the cabin pantry," replied Martin Harris. "We might as well bring it out. If we are sunk one or more of us will most likely be drowned."
"Oh, don't say that!" ejaculated Carter. "I'll get the horn," and, running below, he brought it up, and he and Sam took turns at blowing it with all the strength of their lungs.
"One thing is comforting; those rascals are, no better off than we are," was Tom's comment.
"Yes; but if they founder, what will become of Dora?"
"I don't believe any one of them would put himself out to save her."
"I guess you're right there, Dick. I never thought of her, poor girl," replied the brother.
Dick and Sergeant Brown were well up in the bow, one watching to starboard and the other to port, for anything which might appear through the gloom. The horn was blowing constantly, and now from a distance came the sounds of both horns and bells.
"We are getting close to some other ships," said Martin Harris. "I reckon we had best take a few reefs in the mainsail and stow away the jib," and these suggestions were carried out.
The minutes that followed, were anxious ones, for all felt that a collision might occur at any moment. The fog was growing thicker each instant, and this, coupled with the coming of night, seemed to shut them in as with a pall.
"A boat is dead ahead!" came suddenly from Dick, and Sergeant Brown also gave a cry of warning. Then came a shock and a crash and a splintering of wood, followed by the cries of men and boys and the screams of a woman and a girl.
"We've struck the Flyaway!" called out Tom, and then he found himself in the water, with Sam alongside of him.
HOME AGAIN — CONCLUSION
When the collision came, Dick, to save himself from injury, gave a leap up into the air, and Sergeant Brown did the same. The shock sent the Searchlight backward, and when the youth came down he found himself sprawling on the Flyaway's deck, close beside Dan Baxter.
"Dick Rover!" gasped the former bully of Putnam Hall. "So it is your boat that has run into us?"
"Baxter, where is Dora Stanhope?" panted Dick, as soon as he could speak. He was afraid that one or both yachts were going down and that Dora might be drowned. Even in this extreme moment of peril his one thought was for his girl friend.
"Find out for yourself," burst out Baxter, and aimed a blow at Dick's head with his fist. But the blow never reached its mark, for Mumps hauled the bully backward.
"We've had enough of this — at least, I've had enough," said Fenwick, astonishing himself at his own boldness. "Dick, Dora is in the cabin - no, she's coming up."
"Save me!" came in a scream from the girl.
"Oh, Dick, is it really you!" and she ran right into Dick's arms.
By this time it was discovered that the two yachts were locked together, the bowsprit of the Flyaway having become entangled in the rigging of the Searchlight. Both yachts were badly damaged, but neither sufficiently so as to be in danger of sinking.
"Back with you!" came from Arnold Baxter, and fired his shotgun at the police officer. But the rocking of the boats spoiled his aim. Then Sergeant Brown fired, and the elder Baxter went down, shot through the left leg.
By this time all of the evildoers realized that the final struggle for freedom was at hand, and began to fight desperately, Buddy Girk engaging Dick, Bill Goss facing Carter, and Mrs. Goss beating Martin Harris back with a stew pan from the gallery. In the meantime Tom and Sam swam back to the Searchlight, and clambered on board as rapidly as possible.
They were in time to see Carter go down, hit over the head by Bill Goss. But that was the last of the fight, so far as the skipper of the Flyaway was concerned, for two blows, delivered by tom and Sam simultaneously, stretched him senseless on the deck. I
"You had better give up!" cried Tom to Dan Baxter, who was doing what he could to get the two yachts apart. "This is our battle."
"Not much!" muttered the bully. "Stand back, or it will be the worse for you!"
He sprang at Tom and shoved a pistol under the boy's very nose. But before the weapon could be discharged, Dick, leaving Dora, kicked the pistol from the bully's hand!
"You villain, take that!" cried Dick, and grappled with Baxter. Both rolled over on the deck, and shoved by somebody from behind, Sam rolled on top of the pair. A second later all three rolled down the cabin stairs in a heap.
"Oh, my back!" It was Baxter who uttered the cry, and not without cause, for his backbone had received a hard crack on the bottom step of the stairs.
"You lie still!" commanded Dick, as he leaped to his feet. "If you dare to move I'll put you out of the fight altogether."
"Don't — don't shoot me!" panted Dan Baxter in sudden fear.
"Do you give in?"
"Then keep still. Sam, guard him, will you? I want to see how matters are on deck."
"Yes, I'll guard him," answered the youngest Rover.
The fight on deck had been short and fierce, but our friends had had the best of it from the very start, and when Dick came up he found but little for him to do. Arnold Baxter lay where he had fallen, moaning piteously, while Buddy Girk and Bill Goss were in irons. Mrs. Goss still stood at bay, flourishing her stew pan over her head, while Mumps remained at a distance, his arms folded over his breast and an anxious look in his eyes.
"I won't go to prison!" shrieked Mrs. Goss. "You let me and my husband go."
"Mrs. Goss, you had best give in -" began Sergeant Brown, when Tom, sneaking up behind her, snatched the stew pan from her grasp. As she turned on the boy, Carter ran in, and in a twinkle she was held and her hands were bound behind her. Then the crowd turned to Mumps.
"I submit," said the misguided boy. "Didn't I tell you in the note that I would help you?"
"Yes, he has tried to do better," put in Dora.
"If it hadn't been for him I wouldn't have had a mouthful to eat today."
"I guess we can trust him, then," said Dick. "But, Mumps, take care that you don't go back on us."
"I won't go back on you," said the toady. "I'm going to cut that crowd after this."
"You can't make a better move," was Dick's comment.
Now that affairs were in their own hands, our friends hardly knew how to turn next. After a discussion it was agreed to place the Flyaway in charge of Dick and Tom, who were also to carry Dora and Mumps. All of the others went aboard of the Searchlight, Arnold Baxter being carried by the police officers, who attended to his wound as well as the accommodations on board of the yacht permitted.
So far nothing had been said about the money and securities stolen by Baxter and Girk, but they were in a locker in the Flyaway's cabin, and easily brought to light.
"This is a big day for us," said Dick. "Won't folks at home be astonished when they hear of what we have done?"
"I cannot get home fast enough," said Dora. "Poor mama, if only I knew she was safe!"
"Josiah Crabtree shall suffer for this," said Dick. "Remember, it was he who had you carried off by Mumps and Dan Baxter."
The Searchlight was already on the way and the Flyaway me behind her. The course was due west, and they kept on until the breakers could be heard in the distance. Then Martin Harris bore away to the northward.
With the coming of daylight the fog disappeared as if by magic, and they found themselves close to the seashore town of Lightville. Here there was a small river, and they ran into this and came to a safe anchor close to one of the docks.
On going ashore Dick's first movement was to send two telegraph messages, one to Rush & Wilder, telling them that the stolen securities and money had been recovered, and the second to Captain Putnam, breaking the news of Dora's safety and requesting the master of the Hall to acquaint Mrs. Stanhope with the fact and take steps toward Josiah Crabtree's arrest. Later another message was sent to Randolph Rover so that the boys' uncle might no longer be alarmed over their safety. Sergeant Brown also telegraphed to his superiors.
Inside of an hour after landing, Arnold Baxter, Buddy Girk, Dan Baxter, and the two Gosses were safely housed in the Lightville jail. At first it was thought to arrest Mumps also, but he begged for his liberty, and promised, if let go to tell everything. As some witness would be wanted when the others came to trial he was taken at his word.
It was a happy party that started for Cedarville that evening. No one could have been more attentive than Dick was to Dora, and no one could have been more appreciative than the girl of what the three Rover boys had done for her.
At Ithaca a surprise awaited the crowd. Frank, Fred, and Larry were there to welcome them, and soon after Captain Putnam appeared.
"I am very glad to see you all safe and sound," said the captain, as he shook hands. "You have had a regular ocean chase, and no mistake."
"And how is my mother?" questioned Dora quickly.
"She is happy, Miss Stanhope; but the shock of your sudden disappearance has made her quite ill."
"And Josiah Crabtree?"
"Has disappeared. Your mother said he wanted to marry her after you went away, but she would not listen to him. I imagine that after this he will keep his, distance."
"He had better keep his distance — if he wants to remain out of jail," put in Dick.
The return of the boys to Putnam Hall was the signal for a regular jollification, and my readers can rest assured that all of the cadets made the most of it. Captain Putnam ordered an extra dinner for them, and in the evening a huge bonfire was started on the campus, and, as the boys gathered around Dick, Tom, and Sam they sang "For he's a jolly good fellow!" until they were hoarse. It was a celebration never to be forgotten. "Just the right sort for a home coming," as Sam expressed it.
"Let them have it," said the master, as he looked on. "They deserve it."
"You are right," returned George Strong.
"Those Rover boys have proved themselves regular heroes."
Here I will bring to a close the story of the Rover boys' doings on the ocean while trying to rescue Dora Stanhope from her abductors and while endeavoring to recover the fortune stolen from Rush & Wilder.
Words cannot describe the happiness which mother and daughter felt when Mrs. Stanhope and Dom found themselves together once more. Tears were freely shed, and the widow blessed the boys who had done so much for herself and her child. She declared that her eyes were now to the real wickedness of Josiah Crabtree, never more would she have anything to do with the man.
Rush & Wilder were immensely pleased to recover what had been taken from their safe, and when money and securities were returned to them they rewarded the Rover boys and the others handsomely for their work. But to this day Dick declares that the recovery of the stolen fortune was "only a side issue." "We were out to rescue Dora," he says. "And, thank God, we did it!"
In due course of time the evildoers were brought to trial, and with Mumps and the others to testify against them, all were sentenced to various terms of imprisonment. Being wounded, Arnold Baxter was taken, as before, to a hospital; but this time the authorities kept a close watch on him.
With their enemies in custody the Rover boys imagined that life at Putnam Hall would now run along smoothly. But in this they were mistaken. They had hardly settled down to their studies when a strange message from over the sea started them off on a search for their father, the particulars of which will be related in another volume, to be entitled: "The Rover Boys in the jungle; or, Stirring Adventures in Africa." In this book we will not only meet Dick, Tom, and Sam again, but also Dan Baxter and several others with whom we are already acquainted.
But for the time being all went well, and here we will leave the three boys, wishing them the best of good luck in the future.