“You’d all better beat it,” said Steve. “If the bullets begin to fly again someone will get hurt.”
Slowly but certainly the bow of the Adventurer crept up on the Follow Me’s stern. Some sixty feet of water divided them. Beyond the black cruiser lay the long yellow beach, dazzling in the noonday sunlight. Suddenly the Follow Me’s bow turned straight for the breakers and Steve gave a cry.
“They’re going to run her ashore!” shouted Steve.
He slid out the clutch, throttled down the engine and swung the boat’s nose to starboard as the others piled back to the deck. The Adventurer swept around in a long circle while the Follow Me, churning the shoaling water into white froth, ran straight for the shore.
“Gosh, what a mess!” groaned Harry Corwin. “We’ll never get her off there!”
Steve made no answer, nor did the others. They were all watching that wild rush of the black cruiser. On and on she went, rising and falling with the gentle swells, until it looked as though she must surely be churning the sand with her hurrying screw. Suddenly the cabin doors flew open and three men, one hatless and with a white towel bound around his head, leaped out and scampered along the roof to the bow. Wink raised his revolver, but Steve pulled his arm down.
“Don’t!” he said. “Let them go if they will.”
At that instant the Follow Me faltered, stopped, and went on again for another yard or so as a breaking wave rushed under her keel, and then rolled over to starboard and subsided so, her propeller still beating and her stern slowly working around. Into the two feet of water dropped the trio on the bow and, keeping the Follow Me between them and the enemy, scuttled to land, and then, once on the hard sand, ran as hard as their legs would take them up the beach to the north. Wink sent one shot hurtling after them, just, as he explained afterwards, to encourage them, and Steve, having cautiously edged the Adventurer as near shore as he dared, gave his orders hurriedly.
“Get the big cable from the rope locker, Han,” he directed. “Joe, you and Harry jump into the tender and stand by here. When you get the cable pull in to the Follow Me and make it fast to the stern cleat. Tom, you’d better go along, too. Put your engine into reverse and try to back off. The tide’s still running out and if we don’t get her off now we’ll have a hard time later. I’ll pull on the stern and you jockey her with her own power. I think we can do it. Now then, Han, give me that. Here, take this end forward and make it fast around the cleat. Pass it outside that stanchion, you chump! Catch, Harry! All right! Get a move on, fellows!”