Tom, in utter disgust, leaped aboard the boat at the bow. There, behind the wheel, Evarts lay on the floor of the boat, his rolled-up coat serving as a pillow.
Almost noiselessly Tom hauled up the light anchor. Then he stood by the wheel.
“All ready at the engine, Mr. Reade!” called the superintendent, softly.
“Let her go,” Tom returned, “as soon as Nicolas boards.”
The Mexican was quickly aboard, after having made the rowboat’s painter fast.
“Headway!” announced Renshaw, throwing over the drive-wheel of the engine.
“Put-put-put!” sputtered the motor. Then the “Morton” began really to move. With the first real throb of the engine the electric running lights gleamed out.
Aft Conlon began to stir. Then he opened his eyes.
“What—–” he began.
“Silence!” commanded Mr. Renshaw.
“Tell me who’s at the wheel?” Conlon begged.
“Mr. Reade,” replied the superintendent, dryly. “Now, keep still!”
“Whew—–ew—–ew!” whistled Conlon, in dire dismay. Then he sank back, watching the engine with moody eyes. The other three men aft still slept.
Presently Tom, in shifting his position, touched one foot lightly against the foreman’s head. Evarts half-awoke, then realized that the boat was moving.
“Who started this craft against my orders?” he drowsily demanded, as he sat up.
“I did,” Tom retorted witheringly, “though I didn’t hear your orders to the contrary.”
“You—–Mr. Reade?” gasped the foreman, leaping to his feet.
“Yes—–and a fine fellow you are to trust!” Tom rejoined. “I leave you with very definite orders, and you go to sleep. Then there’s another explosion out on the wall and you sleep right along.”
“Another explosion?” blurted Evarts, rubbing his eyes with his fists. “Here, let me have that wheel, sir. I’ll have you out there quick!”
“You’ve nothing more to do here,” Tom answered, dryly, without yielding the wheel.
“What do you mean by that?” Evarts cried quickly.
“Can’t you guess?” wondered Reade.
“Mr. Reade means,” said Conlon, who had come forward, “that we’re fired—–discharged.”
“Nonsense!” protested Evarts.
“Conlon has guessed rightly, as far as you’re concerned,” Tom continued. “To-morrow, Evarts, you go to Mr. Renshaw and get your pay. As for you, Conlon, you’re not discharged this time. Evarts admitted himself that it was he who gave positive orders to tie the boat up at anchor. You were under his orders, so I can’t hold you responsible. Are you wide awake, now?”
“Yes, sir,” answered Conlon meekly.
“Then go back and attend to your engine. Look sharp for hail or bell.”
“I guess you’ll find you can’t quite get along without me,” argued Evarts moodily. “You’ll find that you need me to manage some of the men you’ve got.”