Steve grunted, smiled and advanced his throttle. The click-click from under the engine hatches became hurried and louder. Joe wrinkled his forehead anxiously. The Adventurer stopped going astern of the other boat and for a little distance they hung bow to bow. They saw Harry Corwin, at the wheel of the Follow Me, lower his head to speak to his brother in the engine room. The Follow Me began to forge ahead again, slowly but certainly.
“Give her more gas, Steve,” begged Perry. “We can’t have a little old ‘puffing pig’ of a boat like that walking away from us. Look at those idiots grin!”
“And watch them change their faces,” laughed Steve as he drew the throttle forward another two or three notches. Under the hatches the engine uttered a new note and a quick jarring became felt. Joe’s anxiety increased to uneasiness.
“Say, Steve, do you think—is it all right—I mean—”
“She’s only doing about seventeen,” replied Steve calmly. “The throttle isn’t nearly open yet. But I guess that’s enough,” he added as he glanced across the water. Perry, leaning across the gunwale, beckoned insultingly.
“Come on!” he called. “What are you stopping there for?”
The Follow Me replied to the taunt, but what the reply was they didn’t know on the Adventurer, for the latter was ahead now by its full length and gaining perceptibly every moment. Tom Corwin’s head appeared over the cabin roof, he took a look at the rival craft and popped from sight again. The Follow Me stopped going back and hung with her nose abreast the Adventurer’s stern. Phil, who had been writing a letter in the cabin, emerged and joined the group outside.
“How fast is she going, Steve?” he asked.
“About seventeen, I think. Still, Harry said the Follow Me’s best was eighteen, and she isn’t losing any, and so we may be doing eighteen, too. Guess we might as well settle the matter right now, though.”
With which he pulled the throttle to the limit, and the white cruiser, quivering from stem to stern, forged ahead. “We’re doing a good twenty miles an hour now,” shouted Steve above the hum of the motor, “and she won’t go any faster unless we get out and push!”
But twenty miles was fast enough to distance the Follow Me, although that boat held on gamely all the way across the bay and only slowed down when, a good quarter of a mile behind the Adventurer, she was abreast Pelican Bar. The Adventurer dropped her gait to twelve and presently the black cruiser, having negotiated the inlet in the wake of the other craft, drew within hailing distance and Harry Corwin called across through the megaphone.
“Some boat, Steve!” he shouted. “We’re satisfied!”