“I am the boy whom you met at the depot a few hours ago. When we got back, we found the two boys we left here were gone.”
“I knew something had happened,” Max replied. “After I left you I got their S O S. Then one of them telegraphed that some men had seized his friend and were coming after him. His last message was broken off in the midst of a new S O S. I couldn’t get him again, I called up the police and they said they would see it got to the proper authorities for investigation.”
Cub translated this message for the benefit of Mr. Baker and was about to continue the telegraphic conversation when four men, armed with clubs, and with anything but friendly demeanor, appeared on the scene. Mr. Baker saw them first and sounded the alarm.
“Here they come,” he said in low tone, the accents of which caused Cub to start to his feet and reach for his father’s pistol which he had laid on the radio table. “Be careful,” the man continued. “Don’t shoot unless I do. Maybe we can get some information from those fellows. Put your gun in your pocket and don’t draw it unless they attack us or you see me draw mine.”
The movement of Cub, transferring the automatic from the table to the right pocket of his coat, did not escape the notice of the visitors, who appeared to have come from the wooded depths of the island. But evidently their uncertain vision left their minds in a condition of doubt as to the significance of the act, for they continued to advance, however, with some appearance of caution.
“I’ll go forward a few steps to meet them,” said Mr. Baker, in a low voice to Cub. “You stay back here and be careful with your gun. Don’t use it unless you see me use mine; then keep your head. I think we’ll be able to handle this situation without any violence.”
He advanced half a dozen paces, then stopped and addressed the unwelcome visitors, who were now distant from him only about fifteen feet.
“Halt where you are, gentlemen,” he said. “We are armed, and any further advance on your part will be met with the use of our weapons.”
The “gentlemen” stopped with due consideration for the warning, but with scowls that indicated the poor grace of their obedience. A description of them would mark them as the ones who are heretofore recorded as having made an unfriendly call on Hal and Bud at the island camp earlier in the day. The tall, angular man again was spokesman for them.
“What’re you fellers doin’ on our island?” he demanded, with a deepening of his scowl.
“I didn’t know the island belonged to you,” Mr. Baker returned quietly. “You don’t happen to carry a deed to it in your pocket, do you?”
“No, but it’s ours, or it belongs to one of us,” the angry spokesman replied. “And we don’t intend to allow any trespassing.”