“How can I when they’re out of sight down there?” Wink complained. “All I can do is shoot for the ports.”
“Don’t shoot at all unless you have to,” Steve cautioned. “We don’t want to knock any more splinters off her than necessary.”
“We’re too near, Steve. The deck’s getting in the way.”
“I’ll back her off.” The Adventurer retreated until Wink, his elbow resting on the closed cover of the chart-box, could train his revolver on the Follow Me’s ports. Several of the others emerged from the cabins and huddled from sight on the deck.
“What’s the next act, Steve?” inquired Phil.
Steve shook his head. “I’m wondering,” he answered. “About all we can do is keep them from running away until they talk sense.”
“Why not let them run? We can go faster than they can.”
“I’m afraid of tricks,” responded Steve. “I don’t know these waters, and I suspect that they do. They might manage to give us the slip as they did last night. I guess when they find they can’t get away they’ll come to terms.” Steve raised his head cautiously above the chart-box on his side and a bullet promptly ploughed through the frame of the open window in front of him and went singing astern.
“Rotten shooting,” observed Wink, as Steve ducked to safety. “Shall I give ’em one, Steve?”
Steve hesitated and then shook his head. “What’s the use? You’d only plug a hole in the Follow Me’s cabin. Wait until they show themselves.”
“Well, you take care not to show yourself,” advised Wink, peering warily past the smoke-stack. “Those murderous pirates are shooting to kill, I guess.”
Another shot rang out across the dancing water and a bullet flattened itself against a pipe stanchion. “Guess you’d better put a shot into each of those ports,” said Steve. “Maybe they’ll keep away from them. Sorry to damage your boat, Harry.”
“Bother the damage!” said Harry. “Plug her full of lead if you like!”
Wink’s revolver spoke, and: “Bull’s-eye,” he announced calmly. Another shot followed. “Got that one, too,” he muttered. “Can’t see the other port from here, Steve. Smokestack’s in the way. You try it.”
Steve tried and missed, the bullet knocking a long splinter from the edge of the cabin roof, and at the same moment a pistol aboard the Follow Me barked and Perry, sitting crouched on one of the seats, uttered an exclamation. Phil, beside him, turned anxiously. Perry’s face expressed blank amazement as he pushed his right sleeve up and gazed at a wound from which the blood was spurting.
“Gosh,” he said awedly, “I’m shot!”
A RUSE THAT FAILED
“I should think so!” cried Phil. “Come on down and let me fix it.”
“What is it?” asked Steve anxiously.
“Perry’s hit in the arm. They must have shot along the side, and the bullet glanced from something. Come on, Perry.”