“I wonder what your father thinks about it, Cub,” said Bud.
“Oh, he accepts it at its face value for the sake of the adventure,” the tall youth replied. “But he’s wise enough to know there may be a lot of hocus-pocus in the business.”
For nearly two hours the motor boat wound its way at a fairly good clip among the picturesque islands of the upper St. Lawrence, the radio compass fixing the course as certainly as the hunter’s pursuit is directed by the nose of his hound. They had no way of telling, at any time, how far ahead was the object of their search, but they had the satisfaction of knowing that they were constantly approaching it. At last an unexpected climax threw their hitherto clear prospect into confusion. This climax grew out of a series of confounding messages from the “lost islander”.
“I see you coming,” was the first of these messages.
“Where is he?” asked Cub and Bud in chorus. Hal was at the table and the other two boys were listening-in.
“I don’t know,” replied the operator. “One of you boys go on deck and see what you can see.”
Cub dashed up the companionway two steps at a time. In a few moments he returned with the announcement:
“There’s an open stretch of four hundred yards ahead of us. He’s probably on the island at the other end. I’m going back on deck and watch for developments.”
There was a speaking tube communicating between the pilot house and the cabin and through this Cub kept his boy friends acquainted with the progress of the search. They reached the island in question, but not a sign of human life was discoverable on it. The motor boat passed around it, and meanwhile the radio-compass found the strength of its receiving directly down stream. Cub communicated this condition to the cabin, and Hal dot-and-dashed the following to “Vax”:
“Where are you? We can’t see you.”
“I saw you,” was the reply. “I climbed a tree and saw you headed right for this group of islands.”
“No, no,” objected Hal. “It must be another yacht.”
“Aren’t you a white cruiser with awning mid and aft, and pilot house on bridge deck?” asked “Vax”.
“Yes,” answered Hal.
“There’s somebody calling us,” remarked Bud at this point.
“Yes, I get ’im,” returned Hal. “Why, it’s the mysterious guy who tried to head us off night before last and yesterday.”
Both boys read the “mysterious guy’s” first send with eager impatience. It was as follows:
“He’s making sport of you. Mark my word, when you reach the island, he’ll be gone.”
“Keep out, you pirate,” ordered Hal.
“All right, but you’ll call yourselves a bunch of fools.”
The next instant the “island prisoner” broke in thus:
“Hurry; they are after me. I think they are the ones who marooned me here. Their boat looks like yours, I guess.”