“Ahoy, the Catwhisker! Ahoy, the Catwhisker!”
This time an answer came, but hardly in the manner expected.
A muffled, rattling, rackety noise came from within the cabin, the door of which seemed to be closed. It sounded as if someone were pounding and kicking the walls like an insane patient in an unpadded room.
“What in the world does that mean?” Cub demanded, giving utterance to the apprehension that thrilled every other member of the party.
“I don’t know,” his father replied; “but I’m going to find out pretty quick. You boys stay here with the prisoner. I’m going down there to investigate.”
With this announcement, he drew his automatic for ready use and began to descend the steps they had fashioned in the stony hill before establishing their camp on Friday Island.
The investigation did not take long. The boys watched Mr. Perry as he crossed the moonlit deck of the Catwhisker and entered the cabin. A few minutes later he returned on the deck and with him were two men, whom the observers on shore recognized as Mr. Baker and the Canadian officer. Then Mr. Perry called out:
“Come on down here, boys.”
A minute later they were on board the yacht with their prisoner. Cub, the most impatient of their number, was first to speak.
“What’s the matter?” he asked.
“Matter enough,” growled the officer. “Those scoundrels outwitted us, locked us in the stateroom, and our prisoner is gone.”
The boys were so astonished that not one of them uttered a sound.
“I haven’t heard their story yet,” Mr. Perry interposed. “We’ll all get it together.”
“It won’t take long to tell how they did it,” Mr. Buckley began. Then he seemed to hesitate, glancing in some embarrassment at Mr. Baker.
“I’ll take all the blame,” the latter confessed at this juncture. “In fact, there’s nobody to blame but me. I wasn’t asleep at my post, but my wits must have been slumbering, for one of those fellows stole up behind me and gave me a rap on the head that put me to sleep sure enough. When I woke up I was in a pitch dark stateroom, with the door locked. Luckily my searchlight had not been taken out of my pocket, and soon I had the place well enough lighted to determine where I was. I also found something else; I found Mr. Buckley in the same condition that I had been in—unconscious. Mr. Buckley can tell you the rest.”
“There’s absolutely nothing for me to tell,” Mr. Buckley replied, “I went to sleep on the cot in the cabin and woke up with a headache in the stateroom. Mr. Baker was working over me as if I’d been shell-shocked on the battlefield. I think we both were sandbagged, for there were no bruises on our heads. We were locked in and probably would have been driven to the necessity of breaking the door open if Mr. Perry hadn’t come when he did and let us out.”