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   Chapter 8 No.8

The Motor Boat Club and The Wireless; Or, the Dot, Dash and Dare Cruise By H. Irving Hancock Characters: 9352

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:03


"I should think you might. It's an outrage!" shouted Jasper.

"This fellow," charged young Captain Halstead, "was in the very act of cutting the aerial wires with a wire-nipper when I caught him. Why, I can show you the nippers he had."

Tom wheeled, to make a quick search along the deck. Jasper grinned covertly for he had thrown the nippers overboard in the struggle.

"You see!" flared the prisoner. "He talks about nippers-but where are they?"

"Halstead," demanded Mr. Seaton, "do you intend to obey me by setting this man free until I've had an opportunity to investigate all sides of this remarkable charge?"

"No, sir, I do not," rejoined Halstead, quietly though firmly.

"Do you forget that I command here?" raged the charter-man.

"Pardon me, but you don't command," retorted Skipper Tom, respectfully. "It is true that you have this boat under charter, but I am the captain and one of the owners, and I must handle trouble aboard in the manner that seems best. I caught this man in a treacherous attempt to make our errand this afternoon quite useless. Jasper stays in irons until we reach port. I'm sorry to be so stubborn with you, Mr. Seaton, but, just now, you've a queer idea 120 that I'm working against you. I must save you, sir, even from your own blindness. Hepton, will you help me take this fellow aft?"

"Surely," nodded the guard, who, while he had not seen the start of the trouble, much preferred believing Halstead to Jasper.

Seeing that resistance might bring him nothing but a beating, Jasper sulkily allowed himself to be led along the deck. Down into the cabin he was taken, there to be thrust into the starboard stateroom. Joe, from his wireless table at the forward end of the cabin, looked up with much curiosity.

"He was trying to snip the wires in your aerial," Halstead explained, after turning the key in the stateroom door.

"Glad you got him, then," nodded Dawson.

Mr. Seaton had followed as far as the doorway. There he halted, well convinced that he could not, at present, persuade the young skipper to change his mind.

"Now, if you'll be good enough to come up to the bridge deck, Mr. Seaton, I want to explain matters to you, sir," proposed the captain of the "Restless."

Rather stiffly the charter-man followed. Hepton, as though to show further good faith, took pains to remain aft. 121

"Do you remember the other night, when we were coming back with the guard for Lonely Island," began Tom, in a low voice, "that we found one of the new guards leaning well over the deck-house behind our backs?"

"I do," nodded Powell Seaton, coldly.

"That man, sir, was Jasper. To-day, when we are out trying to trace Anson Dalton over the open sea, I find that same fellow, Jasper, trying to cut the parallel wires of the aerial. Why should he do that unless he means to try to prevent our catching up with Dalton? Now, sir, putting two and two together, doesn't it seem mighty reasonable to suspect that Jasper overheard what we were saying the other night, and then watched his chance to steal the papers that you and I thought were so safely hidden in the cupboard at the bungalow? I know, Mr. Seaton, you feel that you have some reason for suspecting us boys. In view of what happened the other night, and again this afternoon, isn't it a whole lot more sensible to trace your misfortunes to Jasper?"

Powell Seaton, whose daze had continued ever since starting on this cruise, now pondered deeply, with knitted brows. At last, however, he looked up quickly, holding out his right hand, as he exclaimed:

"Halstead, I begin to believe that I have been 122 too hasty and suspicious. I have hated myself for distrusting any of you boys, and yet––"

"And yet," smiled Tom, "you are beginning to feel that there is not as much reason for suspecting us as there is for believing that the guilt of a mean theft lies at someone else's door."

"I beg you to forgive me, Halstead, you and your mates. But I hardly know what I am thinking or saying. My mind is in too deep a turmoil."

"We'll forget it, Mr. Seaton," continued Halstead, as he pressed the other's hand. "I can, easily, and I hope you'll do your best to believe that you can trust us as fully as others have done."

"You may just as well come forward, Hepton," hailed Captain Tom, a few moments later. "And I want to thank you for the way you stood by me when I needed help so badly."

"Ever since we've been at the island I've felt that I didn't believe any too much in that man Jasper," muttered Hepton. "He has been acting queer some of the time."

"How?" asked Mr. Seaton.

"Well, for one thing, he always wanted the ni

ght guard duty. And he growled at taking the porch or the dock. What he wanted to do was to roam off about the island by himself. 123 Whenever he came back he wanted to sit in your sitting-room, at the bungalow, and the fellow scowled if some of the rest of us showed any liking for staying in that sitting-room."

"What do you make of that, sir?" asked Captain Halstead, looking significantly at Powell Seaton.

"It sets me to thinking hard," replied that gentleman, gravely.

Hepton glanced with natural curiosity from one to the other. Then, finding that he was not to be enlightened as to what had happened ashore, he soon stepped aft again.

"Here's what you want to know, I reckon," announced Joe, in a low voice, as his head bobbed up out of the motor room. In one hand he held a slip of paper on which he had just taken down a message. "Twenty miles north of us is the Langley Line freighter, 'Fulton.' She's headed this way, and coming at fourteen knots."

Skipper Tom received the paper, studying the position and course as Joe had jotted them down.

"The Langley boats run to Rio Janeiro, don't they?" asked Halstead.

"Yes, and every boat of that line carries a wireless installation now, too," Joe continued. "She's the only boat that answered my hail." 124

"Take the new course, Hank," called the young skipper to the boy at the wheel, and rattled it off. The "Restless" swung around to a nearly northerly course.

"At her speed, and ours, it needn't be many minutes before we sight the 'Fulton,'" judged Halstead. "Hank, you keep the wheel. I want a chance to handle my glasses."

With the marine binoculars in his hand Skipper Tom soon began to sweep the horizon.

"There's what the wireless did for us," he chuckled to Mr. Seaton. "Without our electrical wave we wouldn't have known, for sure, that there was a Rio boat in these waters this afternoon. And, but for getting the 'Fulton's' position and course by wireless, we'd have swept by to the eastward, away out of sight of the freighter."

Within a few minutes more the young skipper, by the aid of his glasses, got a glimpse of a steamship's masts. A few minutes later the upper works of her high hull were visible.

"That's the 'Fulton.' I know the Langley type of freighter build," Halstead explained, eagerly. "We'll soon be close enough to see her name-plate through the glass. And-oh!-by Jove!"

Tom waved the glasses with a flourish, pointing, then handed them to Powell Seaton. 125

"Look right over there to the north-westward, sir, and you'll make out that drab-hulled seventy-footer. She's just coming into sight."

"I see her," nodded Mr. Seaton.

Captain Halstead took the glasses again, studying both the seventy-footer and the freighter intently, judging their relative speeds and positions.

"Dalton, or his friend, Lemly, has nicely calculated the drab boat's run," declared the young skipper of the "Restless," "Dalton's craft is in fine position to stop the freighter. But we'll reach the 'Fulton' first, and by some minutes, too, sir. The drab boat looks like a good one, but I believe we're a shade faster in the stretch."

"What are we going to do when we overhaul both craft?" wondered Powell Seaton, aloud.

"Why, sir, it will be easy enough to make the 'Fulton's' captain refuse to take any such passenger as Dalton."

"How?" demanded Mr. Seaton.

"Just inform the 'Fulton's' captain that Anson Dalton is a fugitive from justice. If you do that, the freighter's captain isn't going to take any chances on getting into subsequent trouble with Uncle Sam. The captain will simply decline to receive him as a passenger on the high seas." 126

Powell Seaton looked very cheerful for a moment. Then a look of dark doubt crossed his face.

"That will be all right, Halstead, unless it happens that the captain of the 'Fulton' is a man on the inside of some official affairs down in Brazil. If that be so, then your freighter's captain may recognize Dalton as a man of consequence-one to be served at all hazards. For, if a steamship captain of the Langley line must be careful to stand well with the United States authorities, he must also be no less careful to keep in the good graces of some of the cliques of Brazilian officers. So what if Dalton goes aboard the freighter, and her captain sends us a derisive toot of his whistle?"

Tom Halstead's face showed his instant uneasiness.

"If that turns out to be the case, sir," he whispered, "you've lost your last chance to stop Anson Dalton. He goes to Brazil with all the papers for locating the diamond mine, and you and your syndicate friends lose the whole big game!"

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