“You can’t get away with it, you know,” he said untroubledly. “We can stay here as long as you can. If you run we’ll follow you, and at the first port we’ll hand you over to the authorities. You’ve only got thirty gallons of gas and that won’t take you far. If you have any sense you’ll pile into your tender and light out while you’ve got a good chance.”
It was evident that those on the stolen boat had glimpsed Wink’s revolver, for one of the men leaned toward his companion and spoke in low tones and their eyes sought the port. After a moment the spokesman replied placatingly. “Maybe you’re right, Sport. Guess you’ve got us this time. But this ain’t any place to go ashore. Tell you what we’ll do. We’ll run her back to Gloucester and hand her over to you there. That’s fair, ain’t it?”
“It doesn’t listen well,” answered Steve. “You land on the other side there and you’ll only have to walk a few miles to a train.”
“Yeah, walk about six miles across sand dunes in a sun hot enough to blister you! Nothin’ doin’, Sport. Take it or leave it.”
“Leave it, thanks.”
For answer one of the men climbed to the cabin roof and went forward. “He’s going to pull up anchor,” warned Joe, peering over the rail. Steve’s voice rang out sharply:
“If you touch that cable we’ll shoot!”
The man paused, stared across doubtfully and went on.
“Can you hear me, Wink?” asked Steve softly.
“Yes,” came from the after cabin.
“If he lays a hand on the anchor cable, shoot, but shoot wide.”
“All right, Steve!”
“Say,” called the man in the cockpit, “don’t you start nothin’, because we got you covered. If there’s any shootin’ you’ll get the worst of it.”
The man forward dropped to a knee, his gaze turned warily toward the enemy, and took hold of the anchor cable. As he did so Steve whipped his revolver into sight and flattened himself against the bulkhead. A sharp report broke the silence and a bullet sang its way across the Follow Me’s bow. The man dropped the rope and sprang back along the roof to tumble frightenedly into the cockpit. From the cabin of the Adventurer floated up the acrid smoke of Wink’s revolver. The man at the stern of the other boat had instantly disappeared.
“Look out,” shouted Perry from the forward cabin. “They’re going to shoot from the ports! Come down from there, Steve!”
But Steve’s hand was on the clutch and, as the Adventurer began to go astern, his other hand turned the spokes of the wheel and the cruiser’s bow came slowly around toward the Follow Me. “Come up here, Wink,” he called, and then: “Put that hatch up all the way and keep behind it,” he added as Wink slipped to his side. “Can you get them from there?”
“Fine!” answered the other cheerfully.
“I’ll try to keep her bow-on. Careful not to kill anyone, old man. Shoot for their arms.”