“That’s pretty near talking, Jack!” Tom stated.
With a knowing look Jack assented and pointing with his thumb toward the newcomer’s direction nodded his head once or twice. Securing a length of small line Jack made Rowdy fast to a ring bolt in the pilot house floor and then went into the cabin for his dinner.
He had no better success in his effort at conversation with the stranger than his chums had met and shortly gave over trying to be pleasant. Making a hurried meal he again hastened to the pilot house where he assumed charge of the craft, for the fog was still thick.
Arnold in an effort to be friendly asked Carlos to inspect the Fortuna from the interior, which offer was quickly accepted.
“Here,” explained Arnold, standing near the bulkhead separating the pilot house from the cabin, “is the forward part of the vessel. I suppose you’d call it the forecastle, but we have the fuel tanks, chain locker and lazarette here. On occasion we can use this space for extra bunks, but with the Pullman berths in the cabins we don’t often need the room for anything but storage.”
“Where is your gasoline?” asked Carlos displaying some interest.
“In tanks right up in the eyes of her,” replied Arnold glad that he was interesting his visitor. “Then you see the engines amidships here with a berth on each side. The switchboard is in the center of the pilot house so the stairways are on each side of the engines. In the next compartment aft are more berths. Then still further aft, you see are the kitchenette on one side and the wash room on the other. Abaft of that is the after cabin that we use as a dining room. With the folding berths we can accommodate twelve people easily. It makes a fine home, all right.”
“Can I go to sleep?” inquired Carlos. “I’m right tired.”
“Sure you may,” declared Arnold. “Take the after cabin and make yourself comfortable. I’ll go up forward and let you sleep.”
So saying he joined his companions in the pilot house and reported to them the result of his effort to placate their visitor.
For half an hour the Fortuna breasted the waves plunging through the thick fog. Anxiously the boys peered ahead ever alert.
Directly the vibrations of the motors grew fainter. The boys glanced at each other wonderingly. Rowdy tugged at the rope that confined him and growled savagely. Jack’s face went white as he reached for the switch. He looked at the other boys in wonder.
The Fortuna’s engines came to a dead stop!
A MYSTERIOUS MESSAGE
“Pull off the hood over the engines,” cried Jack to Harry who was quickly down the companion-way, “and see if the wires from the magneto are disconnected. I made a new clip while we were at Mobile and maybe it has broken and cut off the current.”
“Phew!” ejaculated Tom who was preparing to follow Harry below. “I’ll bet something’s broke loose all right. Smell it?”