“Second the motion,” declared Harry. “Let’s set a guard over the prisoner and go back to sleep. I’m all in, myself.”
The suggestion met with the approval of all the boys. They were tired after their long and strenuous day and needed rest badly.
Arnold, feeling elated because his crab shell had been the means of trapping the midnight visitor, volunteered to act as guard during the first watch. He stoutly maintained that he was not sleepy and would be only too glad of the chance to watch.
The poisoned meat was thrown overboard and quiet reigned again.
Frank awoke and stretched himself. Then he reached across to the bunk occupied by Jack and shook that worthy by the arm.
“Let’s get up and visit the hospital,” he suggested, springing up.
Arnold sat sleeping on the bunk. The prisoner was gone!
AN ELUSIVE BOB WHITE
“Hey,” cried Jack grasping Arnold roughly by the shoulder, “Where is your prisoner? You’re a pretty guard, you are.”
Sheepishly Arnold glanced around, now thoroughly awake.
“Has he gone?” he asked in a wondering tone. “Where is he?”
“Yes, indeed, he went hours ago,” asserted Frank. “He was lying here sleeping and a big side wheel boat pulled up with a band playing. They tied up to the Fortuna, fired a salute of twenty-one guns in honor of royalty and then the band filed through the cabin, one at a time, playing their instruments as hard as they could blow. The invalid got up and walked away with them and after another salute of twenty-one guns, the steamer pulled away upstream.”
“They did not,” protested Arnold stretching himself.
“Well, if they had, it wouldn’t have affected you in the least,” declared Jack. “We were all tired out and none of us heard him get away. Even Rowdy didn’t say anything against it and when Rowdy keeps quiet things are pretty still. He’s a light sleeper.”
“How about it, Rowdy?” inquired Arnold caressing the bulldog. “You’ll stick up for me, won’t you, old pal?”
Rowdy’s stumpy tail wagged ecstatically as Arnold lavished affection upon him. He endeavored to “kiss” all hands, but this was discouraged. The boys dearly loved their pet but objected to “kisses.”
“Anyhow,” decided Arnold, “Rowdy never would have let the chap get away if he had thought he was here for harm. So that means the boy is all right! He may have come here a bad boy, but he went away a good one or Rowdy never would have let him go. So there!”
“There might be something in that, too,” admitted Jack.
“All hands on deck for a bath,” sang out Tom. “I feel dirty!”
“Let’s run out of the harbor and get some clean water,” Harry proposed. “This river looks pretty thick to me.”
All the boys thought the idea a good one and accordingly the anchor was lifted and the Fortuna put out to sea a short distance.