Bud turned quickly and saw four men emerge from the thicket some fifteen feet to the rear of the tent. They did not look like rowdies, for they were fairly well dressed, but there was nothing reassuring in the countenance of any of them. One was tall and angular, another was heavy and of medium height, another was very broad-shouldered and deep-chested and had long arms and short legs, a sort of powerful monstrosity, he seemed, and the fourth was fairly well proportioned, but small. There was not a reassuring cast of countenance among them.
“We’ll just have to stand our ground and hear what they have to say,” Hal whispered: “Maybe they’ll be reasonable if we don’t provoke them. Be careful and don’t say anything sassy.”
“I won’t,” was the other’s reassurance.
The four men approached to a point a few feet from the radio table and halted, and the tall angular man, assuming the role of spokesman, demanded in deep tones:
“What’re you kids doin’ here?”
“We’re just waiting for some of our friends to come back,” Hal replied.
“Where’d your friends go?” continued the spokesman with a leer that caused the two boys to shrink back a step or two.
“They just took a trip in the motor boat,” replied Hal cautiously. “They’ll be back soon.”
“Oh, they will, eh,” leered the man as if he penetrated the weakness of the warning in the boy’s answer. “How many are they of your friends?”
“More than we are,” replied Hal, having reference to physical size of Mr. Perry and Cub.
“Oh, come now, kids, tell us the truth,” ordered the leering spokesman, advancing a pace nearer. “Tell us how many went away in your boat and how soon they’ll be back.”
“There was a large man and a big boy,” Bud interposed with more assurance that he felt.
Sly grins crept over the countenances of the four men.
“Oh,” grunted the spokesman; “you hope by that kind o’ talk to scare us away. Well, nothin’ doing along that line. This here island belongs to us, and we don’t allow no trespassin.”
“Is the island for sale?” inquired Hal, who thought he saw an opening through which he might work up the interest of the three men without arousing their antagonism.
“Fer sale?” repeated the spokesman of the quartet, all four of whom seemed to exchange among themselves a round of sinister glances. “Well, I guess nit. They ain’t enough money this side o’ the United States treasury to buy this island from us.”
“We might be able to scrape up a handsome sum, if necessary,” Hal reasoned.
A suggestion of covetous greed shone in the eyes of all four men, but the spokesman belied his own looks by saying:
“Nothin’ doing. We want you guys to git out o’ here. This is our summer resort, eh, Spike”—turning to the long-armed, deep chested man.
“Spike” nodded grimly and replied:
“You bet it is, cap’n. We’re gen’lemen of leisure an’ don’t care fer money. All we want is our own, and they’s sure to be trouble if anybody tries to take it away from us.”