Followed a dubious five minutes during which the only sounds that reached them from outside the boat were distant fog signals and, once, the unmistakable moo of a cow!
“Gee,” murmured Perry, “that’s the best thing I’ve heard all day! That means we really are in the harbour, doesn’t it?”
“Might be a sea-cow,” suggested Ossie, from the companion.
“Ready with the bow anchor!” called Steve.
Han scuttled forward into the mist. “All right, sir!” he announced in his best nautical manner.
Steve disengaged the clutch. There was a moment of silence aboard the Adventurer. Then: “Over with it, Han,” directed Steve. There was a splash, followed by the rasping of the cable through the chock and then a cheerful whistle from the crew as he made fast. “About eighteen feet, Steve, I should say,” he called.
“Sixteen,” corrected the Captain gravely. Joe smiled.
“Mean it?” he asked.
Steve nodded and put a finger on the chart. “We’re right here,” he said. Then he covered the compass and drew down the lid of the chart box and stretched his arms luxuriously. “That’s over with,” he added, “and I’m glad of it! How about dinner, Ossie?”
“On the fire, Cap! Ready in five minutes.”
“Then I’m going to get into a dry shirt. I’m soaked through. Some of you chaps pull the side curtains down on the port side. We might as well keep as dry as we can.”
“Looks to me as if the fog was rolling in from the starboard, though,” said Han.
“Yes, it’s coming from the southeast, but we’ll swing around in a few minutes because the tide’s coming in. Wonder where the Follow Me is.”
“Harry would probably make for harbour, too, wouldn’t he?” asked Joe, following the other down to the cabin. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we found them here when the fog clears.”
A yacht, hidden somewhere in the fog ahead, sounded eight bells and was instantly echoed from further away. “Great Scott!” exclaimed Steve. “Is it twelve already?”
Joe nodded, glancing at the ship’s clock at the end of the cabin. “Two minutes after if our clock’s right. Say, Steve, the next time we go out in a fog we’ll—um—we won’t go, eh?”
“Not while I’m running this hooker,” agreed Steve with intense conviction. “Now that it’s over, Joe, I don’t mind telling you that I was a bit worried. I wanted like anything to drop anchor back there by the jetty.”
“Why didn’t you then?”
“I don’t quite know,” replied the other thoughtfully, “but I think it was chiefly because I didn’t like to be beaten.”
“Dinner!” called Ossie from the forward cabin. “All hands to dinner! Get a move on!”
PERRY LOSES HIS WAY