“Shout again!” he yelled presently.
“Hello-o-o!” came a hail from somewhere back of the boat, and: “Come ahead!” called a voice from the fog in front. Perry exploded.
“Shut up, one of you!” he called exasperatedly. “I can’t row two ways at once! Where’s the boat?” But his remarks evidently didn’t carry, for all he got was another hail from behind. “All right,” he muttered. “Why didn’t you say so before?” He swung the dingey around a second time and rowed on a new course. “Wonder who the other chap was,” he thought. “I dare say, though, there are boats all around here if a fellow could see them.” A minute later he called again: “Come on, you idiots! Where are you?”
“Don’t bust yourself,” said a voice from almost over his shoulder. “And watch where you’re going if you don’t want to stave that boat in.”
Perry was so surprised that he almost fell off the seat, while, forgetting to obey injunctions, he let the dingey run until there was a sudden bump that toppled the milk-can over and nearly treated him the same way. He looked startedly about. Six feet away lay a black boat and a boy with a boat-hook was threatening him from the deck.
“You silly idiot!” called the boy impatiently. “Look where you’re going! If I hadn’t got you with the hook you’d have knocked half our paint off!”
The boy and the boat slowly vanished in the mist like a “fade-out” at the movies, before Perry found his voice. Then: “Who the dickens are you?” he gasped.
“I’m the man who put the salt in the ocean,” replied the voice jeeringly. “Come on easy and I’ll get you.”
“Well, but—but—what boat’s that?”
“U.S. Battleship Pennsylvania, Pride of the Navy! Come on, you lubber!”
Perry came on and again the boy with the boat-hook took form in the fog. “You’re Cas Temple,” said Perry stupidly. “That’s the Follow Me!”
“Surest thing you know, son! Hello! Why, it’s Perry Bush. I thought you were Bert. What did you do with the fellows?”
“What fellows?” asked Perry, puzzled, as Cas pulled the dingey alongside the cruiser.
“Why, Bert and Wink and the rest of them.”
“Haven’t seen ’em.”
“Haven’t? Where’d you get the boat, then?”
“That one! The one you’re in! Say, are you dippy?”
“This is our boat and I got it—”
“Your boat nothing! That’s our boat, you silly chump! Think I don’t know our own tender?”
“Wh-what!” gasped Perry. “So it is! Then, where’s mine! I mean ours? How did I get this one?”
“Search me! If you don’t know, I’m blessed if I do,” chuckled Caspar Temple. “You must remember something that’s happened since yesterday morning!”
“Han and I went ashore,” said Perry, staring puzzledly at the milk-can from which a tiny stream was trickling past the loosened stopper. “Then we went to look for our boat and I found this and I yelled to him and he didn’t come and so I started back to the boat to get some—” Perry suddenly remembered his affliction. “Say, got any alcohol?” he asked anxiously.