“Young gentlemen,” he inquired, “h’I suppose, h’of course, you’ve ’ad a look h’at the anchor h’of Sir Francis Drake’s flagship, the time ’e went h’out h’and sank the great Spanish h’Armada?”
“Why, no, my friend,” replied Dave, looking at the man with interest. “Is that here at Plymouth?”
“H’assuredly, sir. H’and h’only a minute’s walk h’over to that shed yonder, sir. H’if you’ll come with me, young gentlemen, h’I’ll show h’it to you. H’it’s one of h’our biggest sights, h’and it’s in me own custody, at present. Come this way, young gentlemen.”
“That sounds like something worth seeing,” declared Dave to his comrades. “Come along. It’ll take the launches at least six minutes to get in, and then they’ll stay tied up here for another five minutes.”
With only a single backward glance at the young midshipmen, the undersized Englishman was already leading the way.
At quickened pace the young midshipmen reached the shed that had been indicated. Their guide had already drawn a key from a pocket, and had unsnapped the heavy padlock.
“Step right in, young gentlemen, h’and h’I’ll follow h’and show h’it to you.”
Unsuspecting, the three middies stepped inside the darkened shed. Suddenly the door banged, and a padlock clicked outside.
“Here, stop that, you rascally joker!” roared Dalzell, wheeling about. “What does this mean?”
“Big trouble!” spoke Dave Darrin seriously and with a face from which the color was fast receding.
PENNINGTON GETS HIS WISH
“The scoundrel!” gasped Farley, his face whiter than any of the others.
Dave was already at the door, trying to force it open. But he might almost as well have tried to lift one of the twelve-inch guns of the battleship “Massachusetts.”
“We’re locked in—that’s sure!” gasped Dalzell, almost dazed by the catastrophe.
“And what’s more, we won’t get out in a hurry, unless we can make some of our classmates hear,” declared Dave.
For the next half minute they yelled themselves nearly hoarse, but no response came.
“What could have been that little cockney’s purpose in playing this shabby trick on us?” demanded Farley.
“Perhaps the cockney thinks we’re admirals, with our pockets lined with gold. Perhaps he and some of his pals intend to rob us, later in the evening,” proposed Dan, with a ghastly grin.
“Any gang would find something of a fight on their hands, then,” muttered Dave Darrin grimly.
All three were equally at a loss to think of any explanation for such a “joke” as this. Equally improbable did it seem that any thugs of the town would expect to reap any harvest from robbing three midshipmen.
Desperately they turned to survey their surroundings. The shed was an old one, yet strongly built. There were no windows, no other door save that at which the three middies now stood baffled.