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The Motor Boat Club and The Wireless; Or, the Dot, Dash and Dare Cruise By H. Irving Hancock Characters: 35588

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:03


"That comes from Mr. Seaton, all right," nodded Captain Tom. "That's his private signal, below his name, that he told us to look for on all orders of his. Now, let me have a look again at the position and course of the 'Constant.'"

After studying the dispatch intently, Captain Halstead nodded to his chum to take the wheel. Facing about, Tom swung open the small chart-case secured to the top of the deck-house. With a small, accurate pocket rule he made some measurements.

"At twenty-five miles an hour, Joe, if you can keep it up, a straight sou'east by east course should bring us right in the path of the 'Constant' on the course and speed she reports."

"Oh, we can keep the speed up," predicted Joe, confidently. "But I can't fool with the engine, unless you insist. I ought to be back in the cabin, at the wireless instrument."

"Hank can keep at the motors, then," nodded Captain Tom. "Go along, old fellow."

Joe paused but an instant to give Hank the needed orders, then raced aft. At the after end of the cabin were two snug little staterooms; at the other end, forward, a table had been fitted up with wireless apparatus, for the twin motors of the boat generated, by means of a dynamo, 20 electricity enough for a very respectable wireless spark.

Hardly had Joe vanished when Hank, satisfied with the performance of the motors, appeared on deck. The signal mast stood just behind the bridge deck. It was of light, hollow steel, with two inner tubes that, when extended, made an unusually high mast for such a boat.

"We can run the extension mast up to full height in this light breeze, can't we, Tom?" asked the Long Island boy. Halstead nodded.

So simple was the arrangement that, within a few moments, Hank had the aerials well aloft. Nor was he too soon, for this query came promptly through space from Powell Seaton, up at Beaufort:

"Are you starting at once?"

With a quiet grin, all alone there by the wireless apparatus, young Dawson sparked back through the air:

"Three miles east, and running to intercept the 'Constant.'"

"Good!" came clicking into Joe Dawson's watch-case receivers against his ears, a moment later. "Then I won't bother you further. I trust you. But, oh, if you should fail! You don't know what failure means-to me!"

All this, of course, was clicked out in the dot and dash code of the Morse alphabet, but to Joe 21 Dawson it was as plain as words spoken by the human voice.

"You're right, Mr. Seaton." Joe's busy right hand fingers clicked out the message on the sending key, while the electric waves sped from the aerials aloft outside. "We don't know what 'failure' means. We won't fail you. Good-bye."

Then Joe turned his attention to the "Constant." The big Black B liner answered promptly. She was on the same course, and glad to know that the "Restless" was speeding over the sea to seek her.

Having finished in raising the extended signal mast, and glancing into the motor room to see that the motors were running smoothly, Hank leaned against the raised deck top. The Long Island boy was hardly to be expected as a member of the crew of the "Restless" on this cruise, but he had wound up the summer season at East Hampton, and now, with idle September coming upon him, he had found the longing for the broad sea too powerful for him. Family conditions at home being satisfactory, he had promised himself this one month away from home, and was aboard as steward and general helper.

"I wonder if our work for Mr. Seaton has started in earnest?" ventured Hank.

"It has, for a few hours to-day, anyway," 22 smiled Captain Tom. "We're cruising at full speed, and under orders from the man who chartered the 'Restless' for this month."

"But who can this Clodis be?"

"I don't know," Tom Halstead admitted.

"I wonder why Mr. Seaton is so mightily interested in him? What does Seaton mean by hinting at ruin and tragedies?"

"Do you know what I think, Hank?" queried the young skipper, quietly.

"What?"

"I think it would be downright impudence on our part to get too inquisitive about the affairs of the man who employs us. We looked Mr. Seaton up, and found he had the reputation of being an honest man. That's as much of his business as we have any right to want to know."

Hank colored, though he went on, in an argumentative way:

"I s'pose that's all true enough, Tom. Still, it's human nature, when you smell a big mystery, to want to know the meaning of at least some of it. And I'm mighty curious, because I scent something unusually big in the air."

"So do I," admitted the young skipper, giving the wheel another turn in order to hold the fast-moving boat to her course.

"Then what––" 23

"Hold on, Hank! Don't be downright nosey. And, as for guessing––"

"Why, Seaton as good as hints that there's been a downright attempt to kill this man Clodis," broke in Hank, who could not be repressed easily. "And Seaton is surely mightily worked up about it. And sending us out to take a passenger off a steamer bound for South America! Tom, do you s'pose that criminals are––"

"Hank," broke in the young skipper, half-severely, "there's something squeaking on one of the motors. For goodness' sake don't let us break down on what we've been told is a life-and-death trip! Get below and see what's wrong. Stand by to watch the performance of the motors."

Hank vanished, inwardly grumbling, for his curiosity was doing two hours' work every minute.

Captain Tom, after measuring on the chart, had figured on meeting the "Constant" in two hours and twenty minutes. Now, at every turn of the twin shafts the young skipper's blood bounded with the desire to do his full duty in arriving on time. Yet there was not wanting pleasure, mixed with the anxiety. How good the fresh, salty air tasted, out here on the broad sea, with the low coast-line already nearly out of sight! Tom Halstead sniffed in breath after 24 breath. His eyes danced as they beheld the spraying of white water cut and turned up by the boat's fast prow. Oh, it was great to be out here on the deep, one hand guiding the course of one of the nimblest yachts afloat!

Joe, as he came forward, felt this same wild exhilaration. Quiet, dutiful and law-abiding as both these Motor Boat Club boys were, there must have been much of the old Norseman Viking blood in their veins, for this swift dash over the rolling swell of the ocean was like a tonic to them both.

"Say, isn't it all grand?" demanded Joe, his cheeks glowing, as he paused on the bridge deck, taking in great whiffs of the purest air supplied to man.

"Great!" admitted Skipper Tom, in a tone that was almost a cheer. Then he asked, gravely:

"Any news?"

"Mr. Seaton knows we have started, and expresses his pleasure. I've signaled the 'Constant,' and she's still keeping to the same course, and will so continue."

"And the patient, Clodis?"

"Still alive, Tom; but the ship's surgeon offers no hope, and will be glad to have us take him onto the 'Restless.'"

"It must be something terrible to make Mr. 25 Seaton so anxious about the man," observed Tom, thoughtfully.

"Yes," nodded Joe. Then: "Say, Tom, I've just struck an easy scheme for connecting one of the armatures of the Morse register, aft, to a buzzer in the engine room. Then if I happen to be in the engine room when wireless messages are traveling through the air I shall know it."

In the next hour all three of the boys, though they did not talk much about it, were wondering about this tragedy of the deep sea that had called them into action. Though they could not as yet guess it, this present affair of theirs was but the start of a series of adventures more amazing than any they had ever dreamed of. Now, at the most, they were curious. Soon they were to know what it meant to be astounded; they were soon to know what it felt like to feel haunted, to find themselves assailed by dread after dread. Undoubtedly it was merciful for them that they could not, at this moment, peer behind the curtain of the immediate future.

So, ignorant of what fate and destiny held in store for them, they were mainly intent, now, upon intercepting at the right point the big liner cruising swiftly southward.

In another hour they made out smoke on the horizon where Skipper Tom judged the "Constant" 26 to be. Later the spars of the steamship were visible through the marine glasses. Then the hull appeared. A few minutes later Captain Tom ran the "Restless" dashingly in alongside the great black hull of the liner, along whose starboard rail a hundred or more passengers had gathered.

Turning the wheel over to Hank, Captain Tom Halstead snatched up the megaphone as the larger vessel slowed down.

"'Constant,' ahoy!" bellowed the young skipper. "This is the yacht 'Restless,' sent to receive your injured passenger, Clodis."

"'Restless' ahoy!" came the response from the liner's bridge. "We'll lower our starboard side gangway, if you can come alongside safely."

The Motor Boat Club boys were at the threshold of their strangest, wildest succession of adventures!

* * *

CHAPTER II

SOME OF THE MYSTERY UNRAVELED

"IF we can come alongside safely," echoed Hank, disgustedly. "I'll show 'em-and in a smooth swell of sea like this, too!"

As the big steamship lay to, Hank steered in until Captain Tom, boathook in hand, made fast 27 temporarily. Then Hank hurried up with a line with which he took a fast hitch.

"Hey, there, you'll pull away our side gangway," roared down a mate, whose head and uniform cap showed over the rail above.

"You don't know us," grinned Joe Dawson, quietly.

By this time Tom Halstead was running lightly up the steps of the gangway. He reached the small platform above, then passed to the deck.

He was met by Captain Hampton, who inquired:

"Where's your sailing master, young man?"

"Right before you, Captain."

"You?"

"Yes, sir."

"Who are your owners?" demanded Captain Hampton, much astonished by Tom's quiet assurance.

"I'm captain and half-owner of the 'Restless,' sir," Halstead continued, still smiling at the other captain's very evident astonishment. "The other owner is the engineer, Joe Dawson, my chum."

Captain Hampton swallowed something very hard. Several of the passengers were smiling. A man who has followed the sea for years knows the capacity and efficiency that boys often display 28 on shipboard, but it is unusual to find a boy acting as master of a yacht.

However, there was the "Restless," and there was Tom Halstead in the captain's uniform. These were facts that could not be disputed.

"You have a passenger, a Mr. Clodis, that you want to have me take off?" resumed Tom.

"Yes; you have come for him, then?"

"Not only that, but Mr. Seaton, the gentleman who has our boat in charter, has very urgently ordered us to bring Mr. Clodis ashore; also his baggage complete, and any and all papers that he may have brought aboard."

"You have a comfortable berth on your boat?"

"Several of them," Tom answered.

"Then I'll have some of my men make the transfer at once. Our ship's surgeon, Dr. Burke, will also go over the side and see that Mr. Clodis is made as comfortable as possible for his trip ashore."

"Steward Butts will show your men to the port stateroom, aft, sir."

A mate hurried away to give the order to Dr. Burke. A boatswain was directed to attend to having all of Mr. Clodis's baggage go over the side.

"Come to my stateroom, sir, if you please," requested Captain Hampton, and Tom followed. 29

"When you take a man with a fractured skull ashore, the authorities may want some explanation," declared the 'Constant's' sailing master, opening his desk. "Here is a statement, therefore, that I have prepared and signed. Take it with you, Captain––"

"Halstead," supplied Tom.

The motor boat boy glanced hurriedly through the document.

"I see you state it was an accident, Captain Hampton," went on Halstead, lowering his voice. "Our charter-man, Mr. Seaton, intimated that he believed it might have been a deliberate assault. Have you anything that you wish to say on this point, sir?"

"I don't believe it was an assault," replied the ship's master, musingly. Halstead's quick eye noted that Hampton appeared to be a sturdy, honest sea-dog. "Still, Captain Halstead, if you would like to question the steward who found Mr. Clodis at the foot of the main saloon companionway––"

"Have you made the investigation thoroughly, sir?"

"I think so-yes."

"Then nothing is likely to be gained, Captain, by my asking any questions of a steward you have already questioned."

The mate came back to report that Mr. Clodis 30 had been carried over the side, and that his baggage had been taken aboard the "Restless."

"I know you don't want a liner held up," Tom went on, slipping Captain Hampton's report of the accident into his pocket. "I'll go over the side, sir, as soon as you can ascertain whether Mr. Clodis had any papers that ought to be sent ashore with him."

"There are none in the injured man's pockets," replied the steamship's sailing master, "and none were deposited with the purser. So, if there are any papers, they must be in Mr. Clodis's trunk or bag."

"Thank you, sir. Then I'll bid you good-bye and hurry over the side," said Halstead, energetically.

As they stepped out of the stateroom a passenger who had been lingering near stepped up.

"Oh, one moment," said Captain Hampton, suddenly. "Captain Halstead, this gentleman is Mr. Arthur Hilton. Since leaving New York he has received some wireless news that makes him anxious to return. He wants to go ashore with you."

Arthur Hilton had stepped forward, holding out his hand, which Tom took in his own. Mr. Hilton was a man of about thirty, smooth-faced, with firm set jaws. Though evidently not a Spaniard, he had the complexion usual to that 31 race. His dark eyes were keen and sharp, though they had a rather pleasant look in them. He was slender, perhaps five feet eight inches tall, and, although his waist and legs were thin, he had broad, rather powerful looking shoulders.

"You can set me ashore, can't you, young man, for a ten-dollar bill?" inquired Hilton.

"Certainly, if Captain Hampton knows no reason why you shouldn't leave the vessel," Tom answered.

"Mr. Hilton has surrendered his passage ticket, and there is nothing to detain him aboard," replied the steamship's master.

"Your baggage ready, sir?" asked Tom.

"Nothing but this bag," laughed Hilton, stepping back and picking up his hand luggage.

"Come along, then, sir."

As Tom Halstead pressed his way through the throng of passengers gathered on deck, he heard several wondering, and some admiring, remarks relative to the youthfulness of the skipper of so handsome and trim a yacht.

Hilton followed the young skipper down over the side. Tom turned to help him to the deck of the "Restless," but Hilton lightly leaped across, holding his bag before him. Tom Halstead, as he turned, got a good look at that bag. It was one that he was likely to remember for many a day. The article was of dark red leather, and 32 on one side the surface for a space as large as a man's hand had been torn away, probably in some accident.

"Here's the passage money, Captain," said Hilton, passing over a ten-dollar bill. Murmuring his thanks, the young skipper crumpled up the bill, shoving it into a trousers pocket, then hurried aft.

Clodis was a short, almost undersized man of perhaps forty-five, stout and well dressed. His head was so bandaged, as he lay in the lower berth of the port stateroom, that not much of his face was visible.

"He's unconscious, and probably will be for hours," stated Dr. Burke, as Captain Tom appeared in the doorway. "If he comes to, I've left some medicine with your steward, to be given the patient. Of course you'll get him ashore and under medical care as promptly as possible, Captain."

"Surgeons are on the way from Beaufort to meet us," the young skipper nodded.

"Then I'll return to my ship," declared Dr. Burke, rising. "But I'm glad to know that Mr. Clodis is going to be met by a friend."

As the doctor hurried over the side, Hilton turned to walk aft.

"Stay forward, if you please, sir," interposed Captain Tom. "No one is to go into the cabin 33 until the patient has been removed under a doctor's orders."

There was a frown on Hilton's face, which, however, almost instantly vanished. Joe brought a deck arm chair and placed it for Mr. Hilton on the bridge deck.

"Good luck for you and your patient, sir," called down Captain Hampton over the rail, as he prepared to get under headway.

"Thank you, sir," Tom acknowledged. "We'll take the best care of Mr. Clodis that we know how."

With Hank on duty in the cabin, Tom Halstead had to cast off and make his own start as best he could. He managed the double task neatly, however, and, as he fell away the "Constant's" engine-room bell could be heard for half-speed-ahead.

The little auto-whistle of the "Restless" sounded shrilly, to be answered with a long, deep-throated blast from the liner's steam whistle. With this brief interchange of sea courtesies the two craft fell apart, going on their respective ways.

"Full speed on the return?" called Joe, from the doorway of the motor room.

"Yes," nodded Captain Tom. "But look out for vibration. Our sick man has had his skull cracked." 34

By the time the yacht had gone scooting for more than a mile over the waves, Captain Halstead, left hand on the wheel, turned to Hilton.

"Did you hear how our sick man came to be hurt, sir?"

"I didn't hear of it until a couple of hours after it happened," replied Hilton. "I understand

that Mr. Clodis fell down the stairs leading to the main saloon, and was picked up unconscious. That was about all the word that was given out on board."

Captain Tom nodded, then gave his whole attention to making Lonely Island as speedily as possible. There was no land in sight, and the trip back was a long one. Yet the young skipper had his bearings perfectly.

They were still some eight miles off Lonely Island when Hilton roused himself at sight of a low-hulled, black schooner scudding north under a big spread of canvas.

"You're going to pass close to that boat, aren't you, Captain?" asked the bridge deck passenger.

"Yes, sir; pretty close."

"As I understand it, you're going to land at an island some miles off the coast, whereas I wish to reach the mainland at the earliest possible moment, and catch a railway train. So, Captain, if you'll signal that schooner and put 35 me aboard, I shall feel under sufficient obligation to hand you another ten-dollar bill."

That looked so much like earning money rapidly that Halstead called Joe up from the motor room to set the signal. The schooner lay to until overtaken. Hilton discovered that the schooner was bound for Beaufort, and the bargain was quickly completed. A small boat put off from the sailing vessel and the bridge deck passenger, his noticeable bag included, was transferred.

The "Restless" was nearer Lonely Island, and the schooner was hull down, when Captain Tom suddenly started as Joe Dawson stepped upon deck.

"Blazes, Joe!" exclaimed the young skipper. "I'm afraid we've done it!"

"I'm afraid so, too," came quietly from the young engineer.

"That fellow Hilton, so anxious to get ashore, may be the very chap who struck down Mr. Clodis!"

"The thought had just come to me," admitted Joe.

"Yes! You know, Mr. Seaton hinted that the 'accident' might have been an attempt to kill."

Captain and engineer of the "Restless" stared disconcertedly at each other. 36

"Now, why did I have to go and make such a fearful stumble as that?" groaned Tom.

"You didn't, any more than I did," Joe tried to console him.

"We should, at least, have kept Hilton aboard until Mr. Seaton had had a chance to look him over."

"I could send a wireless to the Beaufort police to grab Hilton on landing," suggested Joe, doubtfully, but Tom Halstead shook his head energetically.

"No; the Beaufort police wouldn't do that on our say-so, Joe. And, even if they did, we might get ourselves into a lot of trouble."

The "Restless" kept smoothly, swiftly on her way, bounding over the low, gentle swell of the calm ocean. Tom shivered whenever he thought of the possibility of the motors becoming cranky. With such important human freight aboard any mishap to the machinery would be extremely serious.

"Joe," called Tom, at last, as the yacht came in sight of Lonely Island, "there's a tug at our dock."

Dawson came on deck, taking the marine glass from his chum's hand.

"I guess Mr. Seaton has been hustling, then. He couldn't have come from Beaufort on the tug, after all the trouble of rounding up doctors. 37 He must have come down the shore in an automobile, and then engaged the tug near the island."

As the "Restless" went closer, the tug, with two short toots of its whistle, moved out from the dock. Powell Seaton, in broad-brimmed hat and blue serge, waved his hand vigorously at the boys. With him stood three men, presumably surgeons. Captain Tom Halstead sounded three short blasts of the auto-whistle to signal the success of his errand, while Joe swung his uniform cap over his head.

"Get down to your engines, Joe," called Captain Tom. "I'm going to make a swift landing that will be in keeping with Mr. Seaton's impatience."

Up to within nearly two hundred yards of the dock the "Restless" dashed in at full speed. Then signaling for half speed, next for the stop, and finally for the reverse, Captain Tom swung the yacht in almost a semi-circle, running up with bare headway so that the boat lay in gently against the string-piece. In that instant Tom, leaving the wheel, bounded up onto the dock, bow hawser in hand, and made the loop fast over the snubbing post. In the same instant Joe Dawson, cat-footed, raced aft, next leaping ashore with the stern hawser.

"Jove, but that was a beautiful bit of boat-handling-a 38 superb piece of seamanship!" muttered one of the surgeons, admiringly.

Powell Seaton, however, stopped to hear none of this. He gripped Tom by the arm, demanding hoarsely:

"You brought Clodis ashore? How is he? Where?"

"Still unconscious, sir, and the ship's doctor offered no hope. You will find your friend in the port stateroom, sir."

Signing to the surgeons to accompany him, Mr. Seaton vanished aft, the medical men with him. Ten minutes passed before Hank came up, alone.

"What do the doctors say, Hank?" demanded Tom, instantly.

"One chance in about a million," replied Hank, in a very subdued voice-for him.

Five minutes later Mr. Seaton, hat in hand, also came up on deck.

"Mr. Seaton," murmured Tom, eagerly, "I've been waiting for you. I-we've something to tell you." Then the young skipper detailed the affair of taking Arthur Hilton from the "Constant" and transferring him to the Beaufort-bound schooner.

"Describe the fellow!" commanded Powell Seaton, suddenly, hoarsely.

Captain Tom did so. 39

"Arthur Hilton he called himself, did he?" cried Mr. Seaton, in a rage. "Anson Dalton is the scoundrel's real name!"

"Who is he, sir?" Tom asked, anxiously.

"Who is Anson Dalton?" cried Mr. Seaton, his voice sounding as though he were choking. "Who, but the scoundrel who has engineered this whole desperate plot against me! The dastard who struck down Allan Clodis! The knave who has striven for the badge of Cain!"

* * *

CHAPTER III

INVISIBLE HANDS AT THE WIRELESS

In a rear bedroom, the furthest apartment from the wireless room of the bungalow, Allan Clodis, barely alive, was placed when they bore him up from the boat. Then the three surgeons, retaining only Hank Butts, drove the others from the room.

"Back to the wireless!" breathed Seaton, tensely. "Dawson, get Beaufort on the jump."

"I have the Beaufort operator," reported Joe, after a few moments.

"Then rush this message, and ask the operator to get it in the hands of the chief of police without an instant's loss of time," directed Mr. Seaton, speaking in jerky haste. 40

The message described Anson Dalton, also the black schooner on which he had last been seen. The police chief was asked to arrest Dalton on sight, on the authority of Powell Seaton, and hold him for the United States authorities, for an attempt at homicide on an American ship on the high seas.

Within ten minutes back came the reply from Beaufort to this effect:

"I have men out watching for the schooner. Man Dalton will be arrested as you request. Will notify you."

"Good!" cried Mr. Seaton, rubbing his hands vengefully. "Oh, Dalton, you scoundrel, you can't escape us now, for long! You knew that, if you continued down the coast, there was danger that a United States revenue cutter would intercept the ship and take you off. At best, you knew you would be arrested at Rio Janeiro, if I suspected you, as I was bound to do. So you tried to steal ashore here, to be swallowed up in the mazes of this broad country at least an hour or two ahead of pursuit. And, but for the wireless spark that leaps through space, you could have done so. But we shall have you now."

"Unless––" began Tom Halstead, hintingly, then paused.

"Unless-what?" insisted Mr. Seaton. 41

"Suppose Dalton is shrewd enough to pay the captain of the schooner to land him at some other point, where there is neither a policeman nor a telegraph station?"

Seaton made a noise that sounded as though he were grinding his teeth. Then he picked up a pencil, writing furiously.

"Send this to the police chief at Beaufort," he ordered. Joe Dawson's fingers made the sending-key sing. The message was one warning the police chief that Dalton might attempt to land at some point outside of Beaufort, and asking him to cover all near points along the coast. Mr. Seaton offered to make good any expense that this would entail.

Once more, in a few minutes, the answer was at hand.

"Chief of police at Beaufort says," Joe translated the dots and dashes, "that his authority does not extend beyond the city limits."

Again Mr. Seaton began to show signs of fury. Then, as though to force self-control, he trod softly out of the room, going toward the door of the sick-room, where Hank Butts stood guard.

"No news, sir; no change," Hank reported, in an undertone.

"I'm afraid Mr. Seaton is pretty angry with us," said Tom Halstead, gravely, "for allowing 42 Hilton-Dalton, I mean-to get away from us."

"Then he may as well get over it," commented Joe Dawson, quietly. "We're hired to furnish a boat, to sail it, and, incidentally, to run a wireless telegraph apparatus. We didn't engage ourselves as policemen."

"True," nodded young Captain Halstead. "Still, I might have done some quicker thinking. My! What would Dalton have felt like if I had run straight for this dock, refusing to put him aboard any other craft?"

"If you had tried to do that," retorted Joe, with another quiet smile, "do you know, Tom, what I think your friends would have been doing and saying of you?"

"No; of course not."

"Your friends would have been sending flowers, and bringing tears. They would be looking at you, to-morrow, and saying, in undertones: 'Goodness, how natural he looks!'"

Halstead was puzzled for a moment or two. Then, comprehending, he grinned, though he demanded:

"You think Dalton would have dared anything like that?"

"Well, you notice what kind of a rascal Mr. Seaton thinks Dalton is. And you know we don't go armed aboard the 'Restless.' Now, 43 I'm pretty certain that Dalton could have displayed and used weapons if we had given him any cause to do so."

Ten minutes later, when Powell Seaton entered the room, he beheld Captain Tom Halstead seated at the operator's table, sealing an envelope that he had just directed.

"What are you doing, Captain?" asked the charter-man.

"You know that miserable twenty dollars that I took from Anson Dalton for passage money?" inquired Halstead, looking up.

"Yes."

"I've just enclosed the money in this envelope, with a note."

"Going to return the money to Dalton when you find his address?" smiled Mr. Seaton, wearily.

"No, sir," retorted Tom, in a voice sharp with disgust. "Dalton seems to have more money, already, than is good for him. I've addressed this envelope to a county institution down in the state that I come from."

"A public institution?"

"Yes, sir; the home for feeble-minded youth."

"Don't take it so hard as that, Halstead," urged Mr. Seaton. "Had you had a suspicion you would have done whatever lay in your 44 power. I might have warned you against Dalton, but the truth is, I did not imagine he would be right on the scene."

Saying which, Powell Seaton walked away by himself. He was gravely, even sadly preoccupied. Though Captain Halstead could not even guess what the underlying mystery was, he knew that it seriously affected Mr. Seaton's plans and fortune. Their charter-man was worried almost past endurance, though bravely trying to hide the fact.

After the consultation of the surgeons, two of them departed aboard the tug, the third remaining to care for the patient. Hank, despite all his bluntness of manner, was proving himself valuable in the sick-room, while Joe spent most of his time in the wireless room of the bungalow, waiting to receive or send any word. So, as evening came, Tom Halstead bestirred himself with the preparation of the evening meal.

By dark there was a considerable wind blowing. Halstead left his cooking long enough to run down and make sure that all was snug and tight aboard the "Restless." The young skipper had fairly to fight his way against the wind on his return to the bungalow.

"There's going to be a tough old gale to-night," Tom muttered to himself, as he halted, 45 a moment, on the porch, to study the weather conditions.

As yet, it was blowing only fairly hard. As the little group at the bungalow seated themselves at supper, however, the storm broke, with a deluge of rain and a sharp roar of thunder.

"This will bother wireless conditions to-night, won't it?" queried Mr. Seaton, as they ate.

"Some, perhaps, if the gale and the storm keep up," replied Joe Dawson. "But I imagine the worst of the gale is passing now."

And so it proved. An hour later the rain was falling steadily, though only in a drizzle. The wind had moderated a good deal.

As all hands, save Hank, sat in the sitting room of the bungalow, after the meal, the warning bell from the apparatus room suddenly tinkled.

"You see, sir," said Joe, rising quickly, "the wireless is still able to work."

He passed into the next room, seating himself by the instruments and slipping on the head-band that held the receivers.

"From Beaufort, sir," Joe said, presently, looking up. "The police report that no such schooner has landed at that city."

"Acknowledge the message of the police," directed Mr. Seaton, "and ask them not to give up 46 the lookout through the night. Tell the chief of police that I'll gladly meet any expense that may be incurred."

Joe's right hand reached out for the sending-key. Then a blank look flashed across his face.

"Something wrong with the sending-key connections," he explained, in a low voice, leaping up. He examined the connections closely, yet, the more he looked, the more puzzled he became.

"The storage batteries can't have given out," he muttered, snatching up a lighted lantern. "But I'll go and look at them."

Out into the little dynamo shed he darted, followed by Powell Seaton and by Tom. The doctor was dozing in an arm-chair.

Joe gave two or three swift looks at the dynamo, the storage battery connections and other parts of the apparatus. Then his face went white with rage.

"Look here, Mr. Seaton," he panted, hoarsely. "There's been some infernal work here-someone else has been on the island, for none of our crowd would do such a trick! Not even in fun! Look, sir, at where the parts have been tampered with. Look where pliers have been used to cut the wire connections. See where these two bolts have been neatly removed with the help of wrenches. Look at––" 47

Joe paused, then glanced wildly around.

"Great Scott!" he groaned. "Just the parts removed that can't be replaced. The whole generating plant crippled! Mr. Seaton, until we get in touch with the mainland, and get some needed supplies there, we can't use this wireless plant again. We can receive messages-yes, up to any limit, but not a word can we send away from here."

"But who can have done this trick?" gasped Powell Seaton, looking as though amazement had numbed him, as, indeed, it almost had.

"Someone has landed here, since dark," broke in Tom Halstead, all a-quiver with dismay. "While we were at supper some sneak or sneaks have landed on this island. They have pried their way in here, and they've crippled our connection with the outside world."

"They could do it all easily enough, without making any noise," confirmed Joe. "Yes-they've done a splendid job, from a scoundrel's point of view!"

"Then you can't make this apparatus work for the sending of even a single message?" demanded Mr. Seaton.

"Not until we've landed some necessary repair and replacement materials from the mainland," replied Joe, with a disgusted shake of his head. 48

"But you can still send messages from the 'Restless,'" hinted Powell Seaton.

Tom Halstead bounded for the door of the dynamo shed with a sudden exclamation of dread.

"We can use the boat's wireless," nodded Joe, following, and speaking over his shoulder, "unless the same crowd of rascals have broken into the boat's motor room or cabin and played us the same trick there."

In the big sitting room, beside the large open fire-place, was a pile of long sticks of firewood. Tom Halstead stopped to snatch up one of these, and Joe quickly followed suit.

"I'll go down to the boat with you, boys," said Mr. Seaton, who had followed them. "If there's anyone around to put up a fight you'll want some help."

But Captain Tom, acting, for the moment, as though he were aboard the yacht, suddenly took command.

"Mr. Seaton," he said, "you'd better remain here to guard your unconscious friend. Doctor, wake up! Better go in and send Hank Butts out on the trot. We'll take him with us."

Dr. Cosgrove, awaking and realizing that something important was happening, swiftly moved off to the sick-room. Hank was speedily out with his comrades. 49

"If there are rascals on this island, who have designs against you, Mr. Seaton, then mount guard over your friend," Tom added. "Better be in the sick-room at any moment when Dr. Cosgrove leaves there. Hank, get a club from that pile. Now, come along, fellows, and we'll see what infernal mischief may have been done to the 'Restless.'"

With that, the young skipper bounded out onto the porch, thence running down the board walk toward the dock.

Tom Halstead had some vague but highly uneasy notions as to the safety of his beloved boat. Yet, alarmed as he was, he was hardly prepared for the shock that met him when he arrived at the edge of the little wharf.

"Say, can you beat that?" panted young Halstead, halting, thunderstruck, and gazing back at his stupefied comrades. "The rascals-whoever they are-have stolen the 'Restless.' Joe, our splendid boat is gone!"

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