“And if they decline?” inquired Phil.
“Go in and take it!”
“And, as like as not, get shot full of holes! No, thanks!” This from “Brownie.”
“How would it do for some of us to land and keep out of sight and come around back of them?” asked Cas Temple.
“What are we going to do with them if we catch them?” Tom Corwin wanted to know. “Take them back and hand them over to the police?”
“I don’t believe they’ll let us catch them,” answered Phil. “Either they’ll take to that small boat they’ve got astern there or they’ll try to make a dash past us.”
[Illustration: “It is!” he cried. “We’ve got her, fellows!”]
“Much good that would do them!” Harry shrugged his shoulders. “The Adventurer can sail all around our boat.”
“We’re not getting anywhere,” observed Steve, who had been all the while watching the other craft attentively. “And they’ve seen us at last, for they’re looking over the top of the cabin.”
“Well, let’s do something,” said Perry, who was back with the two revolvers and as many boxes of cartridges. “Can they go the other way or do they have to pass us to get out of this place, Steve?”
“They can go the other way for about five miles according to the chart, but they can’t get out. There’s a bridge there. And, anyway, I guess it’s only navigable for small boats at high tide. Perry, for the love of lemons, drop those things and let them alone.”
“They aren’t loaded,” said Perry, injuredly.
“That’s the kind that always blow your head off. Well, what’s the decision, fellows?”
Everyone talked at once for a minute, and, at last, Phil said: “Why not do the natural thing and ask for our boat? Why let them think that we expect trouble? Perhaps when they see that the game’s up they’ll give in sensibly.”
“That’s the idea,” agreed Harry and most of the rest. “Let’s breeze right up to them and talk big.”
“We’ll never get the Follow Me by lying here, anyway,” said Steve, turning to the wheel. “Get your anchor up, Han. Give him a hand, someone. Wink, open a box of those cartridges and load the revolvers, will you? But keep them out of Perry’s way! All right now. Settle down, fellows, and we’ll try a bluff.”
The Adventurer went on and the distance between the two boats lessened rapidly. They could see two men watching them over the top of the cabin, but there was no sign of alarm visible aboard the Follow Me. When the Adventurer was almost opposite the black cruiser Steve threw out the clutch, turned the wheel and let her run shoreward. “We’re getting out of the channel,” he said to Harry. “Watch for sand-bars.” He slipped the clutch in again and again disengaged it. The two boats were some twenty yards apart now and the men on the Follow Me were observing the newcomers unblinkingly from the cockpit.