Off plugged the tender, Joe bending furiously at the short oars, the big cable paying out astern. A minute or two later they were tumbling aboard the Follow Me, Tom to dart below to the engine, Harry to make fast their end of the line and Joe to look after the tender. Then Harry waved a hand and shouted, and the Adventurer, which had been going slowly astern, taking up the slack of the cable, settled to her task. The big rope tightened, throwing a spray of water into the sunlight along its length, strained and creaked and the Follow Me’s propeller, reversed, did its part. There was an anxious two minutes. Very grudgingly the black cruiser’s stern came around. Steve drew the Adventurer’s throttle down a couple of notches. The Follow Me gave up her notion of spending her declining years on the sands of Plum Island and slowly backed away. A shout of delight arose from a dozen throats as, with the water once more under her she bobbed sedately to an even keel and followed the tug of the big hawser.
A quarter of an hour later the two boats continued their way up the shore, the Follow Me poorer by one eighty-pound anchor and richer by one cedar dingey which the six boys aboard seriously suspected of having been stolen. They ate dinner at half-past two, anchored on Joppa Flats, the two crews once more assembled around and about the Adventurer’s hospitable board, and as they ate, very hungrily and quite happily, they discussed the day’s adventure.
The Follow Me showed numerous signs of Steve’s and Wink’s marksmanship, both outside and in, but there was no damage that nails and hammer, paint and putty wouldn’t repair. The stolen boat’s larder was sadly depleted and, as Tom said disgustedly, the cabin looked as though a dozen pigs had lived in it a week! But, all in all, the cruiser had come off well. As for the lost anchor, why, as Wink pointed out, the tender would more than buy them a new one. There was some discussion as to their right to dispose of that tender and in the end they agreed that the proper thing to do would be to leave it at Newburyport and mail an advertisement to the Plymouth papers. If the owner claimed the boat he would pay for the advertisement. If he didn’t, they would recover it later on their way back down the coast. The Adventurer, too, showed numerous scars. One bullet had plugged straight in at one side of the smokestack and out the other, the glass in one window had been shattered to bits and in various other places damage had been wrought. But they had recovered the Follow Me, and that, viewing the affair in retrospect, had been something of an achievement. Everyone, even Tom by now, was more than satisfied at the outcome of their first real adventure. Dinner, delayed as it was and none too palatable by reason of having been prepared for a much earlier hour, was a merry meal.
After it was over they went on up to Newburyport, found a berth and set out to look for a yard where they could have the two cruisers patched. Repairs kept them there two days, and then, having acquired a new anchor for the Follow Me and left the extra dingey in safe storage, the Adventure Club set forth once more in the early hours of a drizzly morning.