WANTED—–DAYLIGHT AND DIVERS
In a trice the foreman of the gang on the wall wheeled his men about, running them out seaward toward the scene of the latest explosion. That much was plain from the twinkling of the rapidly-moving lanterns.
“Come on, Renshaw!” Tom shouted. “You, too, Nicolas. You can pull an oar.”
Reade was already racing out on to the small dock. He all but threw himself into a rowboat that lay tied alongside.
“Cast off and get in,” Tom ordered his companions, as he pushed out a pair of oars. “Nicolas, you’re also good with a pair of oars. Mr. Renshaw, you take the tiller. Inform me instantly when you see the first gleam of the ‘Morton’s’ search-light. Evarts ought to have caught the scoundrels this time. Evidently he’s been cruising softly without showing a light.”
Mr. Renshaw gathered up the tiller ropes as Tom pushed off from the dock. Then the chief engineer addressed himself to the task of rowing. His firm muscles, working at their best, shot the little craft ahead. Nicolas, at the bow oars, did his best to keep up with his chief in the matter of rowing, though the Mexican was neither an oarsman nor an athlete.
“Don’t you make out the motor boat’s lights yet?” Tom asked impatiently, after the first long spurt of rowing.
“Not yet, sir,” replied the superintendent. “I shan’t miss the light when it shows.”
A few minutes later the superintendent announced in a low voice:
“There’s some craft, motionless, just a bit ahead.”
Tom, without stopping his work at the oars, turned enough to glance forward.
“Why, it’s—–it’s the ’Morton’!” he gasped.
“I believe it is,” declared the superintendent, staring keenly at the nearly shapeless black mass ahead.
Tom, with his jaws set close, bent harder than ever at the oars.
“Senor!” wailed Nicolas, gaspingly. “If you do not go more easily I shall expire for lack of breath. I cannot keep up with you.”
Reade fell into a slower, stronger stroke.
“Drop the oars any time you want to, Nicolas,” Reade urged. “There won’t be much more rowing to do, anyway.”
Presently Tom himself rested on his oars, as the boat, moving under its own headway, approached the motor boat.
“Going to board her on the quarter?” the superintendent asked.
“No; by the bow,” Tom answered. “Let go the tiller ropes. I’ll pull alongside.”
As they started to pass the boat a sound reached them that made Reade grow wild with anger. Snore after snore, from five busy sleepers!
Tom pulled softly up to the bow.
“There’s the anchor cable!” snorted Tom, Pointing to a rope that ran from the bow of the “Morton” down into the water. “Did you ever see more wicked neglect of important duty? And not even a lantern out to mark her berth! Get aboard, Mr. Renshaw, and go aft to start the engine. Nicolas, you take this boat astern and make fast. Don’t wake the sleepers—–poor, tired shirkers!”