“The boat’s gone. She isn’t in the harbour, because if she were we could see her. Either she’s been taken off as a joke or stolen. I can’t imagine anyone doing it as a joke. In any case it’s up to us to find her. We went ashore about eight, and it’s now ten to eleven. It’s probable that whoever swiped her waited until we were safely ashore and out of the way. I mean, they probably allowed us at least half an hour.”
“They were probably watching us,” suggested Steve.
“Why didn’t they take this one instead of the other?” asked Cas Temple.
“Perhaps,” replied Steve, “because they found the control locked. All they had to do on the Follow Me was break the padlock on the companion way doors. Still, that’s just a guess. They may have preferred the Follow Me for some other reason.”
“Never mind that,” said Joe impatiently. “The question now is how we’re to find her. Go ahead, Phil.”
“I was going to suggest that we inquire among the other boats between here and the harbour entrance. Two or three still have lights aboard. Maybe they saw the Follow Me pass out.”
“Somebody look after the tenders,” said Steve briskly. “Haul ours out and tie the other astern. Give her a short line, so she won’t switch around and fill with water. All ready, Joe?”
Five minutes later the Adventurer slid through the still water toward the mouth of the harbour. On her way she stopped twice to shout inquiries, and the second time a sleepy mariner, leaning, in pajamas across the rail of a small launch, supplied the information they sought.
“Yes, there was a cruising motor-boat went by about nine, or a little after, headed toward the Pier Head. I didn’t notice her much, but she was painted dark. Come to think of it, it must have been pretty nearly half-past, for I remember hearing three bells strike just afterwards.”
“You didn’t see her after she went by here?” asked Steve.
“No, I was getting ready for bed and saw her through a port. Anything wrong?”
“Nothing,” replied Steve dryly, “except that she belongs to us and someone’s evidently stolen her. Thanks very much. Good night.”
“Good night,” was the answer. “I hope you get her.”
“Well, we know she got this far,” said Joe, “but—um—which way did they take her when they got outside?”
“That’s the question,” said Harry Corwin. “They might have gone across to Provincetown and around the Cape, or taken her up the shore or down. I guess the best thing for us to do would be to hike back and give the alarm. If we telegraphed—”
“She went north,” said Phil with conviction.
“How do you know?” demanded Joe.
“I don’t know, but think a minute. If you were stealing a boat you’d want to keep out of sight with her, wouldn’t you?”
“Suppose I should.”
“Then you wouldn’t mess around in Cape Cod Bay. You’d set a course as far from other craft and harbours as you could. If they went south they’d be among boats right along, and they’d know that we’d work the wires and that folks would be on the lookout.”