“If I saw a pirate,” replied Perry indignantly, “I’d—um—live as long as you would! Besides, I’ve got a perfect right to drop dead if I want to.”
“Go ahead,” said Joe lightly. “Any time you like, old chap.”
“The reason I spoke of Boston,” reverted Phil, “was that I thought it might be a good place to buy our supplies. There’s no use paying any more for them than we have to and going broke before the cruise is half over.”
“Yes, but don’t forget that gasoline’s pretty expensive stuff these days, Phil,” said Steve. “I guess we’d burn up enough gas getting to Boston to make up for any saving on supplies, eh? I suppose there are stores in Salem.”
“Thought it burned up awhile ago,” said Han.
“Part of it did, but I don’t suppose it stayed burned up, you idiot. What time is it? We’d better beat it for shore.”
“Right-o,” agreed Han. “I hope they have Charlie Chaplin, though.”
By some strange inadvertency, however, Mr. Chaplin’s eccentric person was missing from the screen. In spite of that, though, Han managed to enjoy the evening. Afterwards Perry suggested light refreshments and they set out in search of a lunch counter. But anyone who knows Plymouth will realise the hopelessness of their search. After roaming around the quiet and deserted streets and at last being assured by a policeman that their quest was worse than idle they went back to the tenders. “I suppose,” said Perry disgustedly, “they close all the stores early so they can go to the movies. I wish now we’d had some soda at that drug store where the man had insomnia.”
“We’ve got food on board,” said Ossie. “I’ll fix up some sandwiches. I wish you’d get enough to eat for once, though,” he added as he took his place in the dingey. “Don’t they ever feed you at home, Perry?”
“Huh, I’ll bet you’re as hungry as I am! What are they yelping about over there?”
The other tender had left the landing a moment before the Adventurer’s boat and now its occupants were heard shouting confusedly across the moonlit water.
“Can you make out what they’re saying?” asked Steve of the rest.
“Just nonsense, I guess,” answered Phil, tugging at his oar.
“Stop rowing a minute and listen,” Steve directed. “Now then!”
“Something about the boat,” murmured Han. “I can’t make it out, though.”
“By Jove, I can!” exclaimed Steve. “The Follow Me’s gone! She must have slipped her anchor or dragged or something. Row hard, fellows!”
Whatever had happened, one fact was plain, and that was that the smaller of the two cruisers was not swinging at anchor where they had left her. Nor could they see her anywhere. That she had dragged her anchor was impossible, since the harbour was almost land-locked and the night was still, with hardly enough breeze to stir the water. After the first few minutes of stunned surprise the twelve boys, gathered on the Adventurer, held council. It was Phil who eventually summed up the situation quietly and tersely as follows: