“We’ve got to get off, Perry! It’s going the wrong way!”
“If we do, we’ll get killed,” answered Perry. “Wait till it slows up.”
They waited, but it seemed that it never would slow up. It went faster and faster. It passed houses and stores and a church. It went like the wind. Ossie groaned as they left the village behind.
“I can’t stay on much longer, fellows!” he said hopelessly. “I’m clinging by my t-t-teeth!”
“You’ve got to!” answered Perry above the noise of the exhaust. “You’ll break something if you don’t! Wait till it slows up!”
Toot! Toot! To-o-oot! said the horn. And then, so suddenly that Perry’s head collided with something particularly hard, the brakes squeaked harshly, the car slewed into an avenue and the boys, making the most of the opportunity, fell off. Ossie rolled a full half-dozen yards before his progress was stayed by a tree, and Wink, or so Perry declared afterwards, described a beautiful and quite perfect circle. Bruised, breathless and dizzy, they got to their feet and staggered to the side of the road and subsided on the turf.
After a long minute Ossie said feebly: “Where—do you—suppose—we are?”
“About ten miles—in the country,” answered Wink.
There was silence then, silence long and profound. At last they climbed to their feet and, without speaking, walked off in the darkness in the direction from which they had come. Perhaps ten minutes later there came the first sound to break the silence. It was a choking sort of gurgle from Wink.
“What’s the matter with you?” inquired Perry listlessly.
“I was just—just thinking,” replied Wink. “It was so—so—” But words failed him and he began to laugh. After a dubious instant Perry chuckled, and then Ossie, and presently they were clinging to each other convulsively in the middle of the unknown road and sending shrieks of laughter up to the starlit sky.
Over an hour later they reached the landing. Both tenders were gone. The Follow Me was dark, but a faint light still burned aboard the Adventurer. Perry cupped his hands and sent a hail across the water. A sleepy response was followed by the sound of someone tumbling into the dingey and then by the measured creak of oars. Han was grumbling as he drew to the float.
“A fine time to be coming back,” he said. “Where the dickens did you fellows get to, anyway? We looked all around the shop for you. Did you get any grub?”
“N-no,” answered Perry, as he sank wearily into a seat. “We got tired of sticking around there and—and went for a ride.”
“A ride? Where to?”
“Oh, just around a bit. Out in the country a ways. Was—was the grub any good?”
“Was it!” Han grew quite animated. “It was the best ever! They had about a dozen kinds of salad, and cold meats all over the place, and sandwiches and cakes and ice-cream and ices and coffee and—”