“Is that why Lawyer Geyer sent us after it?” asked Harry.
“I don’t quite get your meaning,” Jack said.
“Well, you said no human being would be permitted to get the coin and then you said Lawyer Geyer sent us after it and—”
“I move we throw him overboard—he’s a scoffer!” declared Tom.
“Second the motion,” replied Jack laughing. “Sit still a while and listen to me. The worst is yet to come.”
“Go on, Jack!” breathlessly urged Arnold. “Tell the rest.”
“Well here’s the curious part of the story,” Jack continued. “It is said that only at certain stages of the moon and tide can one hope to find this chest of treasure. Also it is reported that only one who is of Spanish descent can hope to find it.”
“Well, that lets us in,” stoutly averred Harry. “Tom, here, is Spanish and so am I. How about you, Rowdy?” he went on addressing the white bulldog to whom he gave a friendly slap.
Rowdy responded with an affectionate attempt to “kiss” Harry’s face and then endeavored to distribute his favors to the others.
“Seriously,” Jack continued, “I have little faith in the project. Lawyer Geyer seems to half believe the story, however. He was down in this country a while ago on some real estate business and while here got the tale from some source that he considered fairly reliable. So he fitted out the expedition and is willing to take half the proceeds, whatever it may be, for his share.”
“But it looks as if we are being opposed from the very start,” objected Tom. “Look at this visitor and the note he left. That must indicate that there is a gang working against us. I’m a peaceful, orderly citizen and not at all inclined to start anything.”
“Yes, he is!” laughed Arnold. “Look at the way he put the rollers under the gang of thugs at our camp at Mackinac Island!”
“Now, boys,” continued Jack, beckoning Arnold to silence, “if any one of you wants to go back, he can have the chance. We’re going to Pascagoula and also to Biloxi. At either place one can get the Louisville & Nashville railroad for home. Think it over. If you want to try for the Spanish Treasure Chest, stick. If not, you are at liberty to go home at any time we make a port.”
At that instant the lads were startled to hear the hail:
“Launch ahoy! Keep off!”
“Port your helm,” commanded Jack to Arnold who was at the wheel.
Dimly the boys made out the bulk of a schooner on their port bow, her sails slatting and rigging flying as she came up into the wind. As the Fortuna fell off they looked at the schooner and saw the main boom swinging across the deck, strike a man standing near the rail.
“Man overboard. Give me a line,” cried Arnold, springing over the rail without stopping to divest himself of his clothing.
THE HOLE IN THE BOAT