The prisoner was now thoroughly frightened. He shrunk away from the glowering owner of the Catwhisker as if he feared the man’s clenched fists were about to rain blows on his wounded body. At last he gasped in trembling tones:
“I don’t know, I don’t know.”
“Don’t know what?” thundered Mr. Perry.
“I don’t know—I don’t know—where he is,” stuttered the terrified boy.
“And I don’t believe you, young sir. Do you understand me? You’re not telling the truth. Come on, boys, we’ll turn him over to the father of the boy they kidnapped.”
“Oh, no, no; don’t, please don’t, mister,” pleaded the scared youngster. “I don’t know where that boy is; please sir, I don’t. But I’ll ask my father to tell if you’ll take me to him.”
“There, I thought we’d get something out of you,” said Mr. Perry in tone of satisfaction.
“But you didn’t do it with mathematics this time, dad,” Cub declared in a voice that indicated full confidence of victory.
“Oh, yes, I did, my youthful minus quality,” his father flashed back. “I multiplied my wrath very righteously, and this fellow is going to have his woes multiplied and his joys subtracted and his peace of mind divided into a thousand more pieces if he doesn’t get busy on the square and see to it that young Alvin Baker is returned to his father.”
“He isn’t hurt nearly as bad as he pretends to be, Mr. Perry,” Hal put in as the “mathematical man” indicated that he had “spoken his speech”. “He moved his leg several times. You better watch out or he’ll be jumping up and making a dash for liberty.”
“I’d been noticing that,” Mr. Perry replied. “I wouldn’t insult Bud’s catapulting powers by intimating that this fellow wasn’t pretty badly hurt; but I do think we’ve overestimated the extent of the injury. He was completely knocked out by the blow, but he’s been recovering here pretty rapidly. Come on, now, Master Howard—what’s your first name—won’t tell, eh?—all right; we’ll find out in due time—come on, let’s talk a walk down to papa and that terrible man whose claws are just aching for revenge for the loss of his son. What—you can’t get up? Well, boys, pick him up again and carry him. Be careful, of course, for he’s in some pain yet. Now, we’ll march. Bud, you bring up the rear with your mediaeval rubber pistol, and I’ll march beside you. If anybody, tries to interfere with us there’ll be some crack-shot shooting.”
Hal, Cub, Bud, and Max picked up the wounded boy in approved relief-ambulance-corps style and carried him, with a few groans and moans from their burden, across the open area, through the narrow belt of bushes, to the top of the hill that overlooked the landing. There Mr. Perry called a halt and then hailed the yacht thus:
“Ahoy, the Catwhisker.”
All listened breathlessly, but no answer came. Then the owner of the boat put greater volume in his voice and repeated the hail: