“Let’s see if Wyckoff is keeping up his campfire,” suggested Harry. “I’ll wager he’s too excited to even think about supper.”
When the boys reached the deck they saw Wyckoff capering and dancing about on the beach wildly. He was waving his arms in an evident effort to attract attention. A schooner was approaching from the west.
“Yacht aho-o-oy!” came a faint hail across the water.
Jack at the wheel held a steady course and reached a hand toward the switchboard. His lips were tightly closed. Again the hail came across the tumbling waters, but no reply was made.
A shot rang out from the schooner. The boys could see the bullet ricochet from wave to wave and pass in front of the Fortuna.
Another shot was fired. Glass tinkled. Jack fell to the floor.
A NIGHT ATTACK
“Oh, Jack!” cried Tom, stooping over the boy lying prone upon the pilot house floor. “Oh, Jack, speak to me!”
Unguided by a hand at the wheel, the Fortuna fell off into the trough of the sea and began to roll broadside on. Another shot came from the schooner, but it went wild. The boys crowded about the form of their fallen chum and tried to lift him to his feet. Frank was the first to give attention to the boat.
“They’re gaining on us!” he cried. “Which switch controls the power? Let’s get away from here before they kill us all!”
“Those levers in the center of the board,” directed Harry, “govern the spark and fuel. Someone get the wheel. Steer due northwest for a while until we get straightened out!”
Frank whirled the spokes of the wheel rapidly and brought the Fortuna up to her course, while Harry quickly operated the switches that gave new impetus to the engines. Soon the Fortuna was cleaving the waves at full speed. Clouds of spray were thrown far aside as she mounted the crest, and every plunge into the trough brought a torrent of water over her bows. Her graceful lines offered little resistance to her progress. She leaped forward like a thing of life, rapidly leaving the schooner far astern.
Another shot was fired from the pursuer, but fell far astern of the flying motor boat. Apparently those aboard the sailing vessel realized the hopelessness of further effort, for they turned and headed back for the island so recently left by the boys.
No sooner had the Fortuna been put under full speed than, leaving Frank at the wheel, the others carried Jack into the cabin, where he was laid upon a bunk. Swiftly Tom tore away his jacket and shirt, exposing a chest with well-developed muscles standing out prominently. The strong, lithe figure of the boy gave striking evidence of the beneficial result of constant and well-directed physical exercise. Just now he lay limp and inert.
“Where is he hit?” queried Harry, appearing with restoratives from the medicine chest. “Is he bleeding much?” he continued.