“Won’t any one here help us?” asked Phil, turning to the grinning crowd.
“You had better go home with Mike. It’s the only thing for you to do,” advised a grizzled old fisherman. “Your hanging around here ain’t going to help Moll.”
Madge and Phil exchanged inquiring glances. For the time being they were beaten. It was better to go home. Later on they would see what could be done for their friend.
“We would rather go back in our own boat,” Phil announced, making a last resistance. Madge, who was already in Mike’s skiff, beckoned to Phil to join her. It was too undignified and hopeless for them to argue longer with these coarse, rough men. Phyllis followed her chum reluctantly. She hung back as long as she could, staring hard at the shanty boat. But there was no sight nor sound of Mollie.
Even after they were aboard Captain Mike’s sailing craft Phil’s eyes strained toward the receding shore. When it was no longer to be seen she sat with her hands folded, gazing into her lap. She was still thinking and planning what she could do to rescue Mollie. Madge sat with closed eyes; she was too weary to speak.
The sailor’s boat had left the island far behind and was moving swiftly. It was after sunset, and the sun had just thrown itself, like the golden ball in the fairy tale, into the depth of the clear water. The girls were looking anxiously toward the direction of their boat, and wondering if their friends were worrying over their late return.
The houseboat lay a little to the southwest of Fisherman’s Island, and so far they had not been able to catch sight of it. It was growing so dark that it was impossible to see the shore very clearly on either side of the bay. It was Madge’s sharp eyes that first made the discovery that what she could see of the shore was unfamiliar. Captain Mike was not taking them to their houseboat. He was sailing in exactly the opposite direction. Madge glanced quickly at Phyllis, who was yet happily unconscious of their plight, then, turning to Muldoon, she said sharply: “You are sailing the wrong way to bring us to our houseboat. The boat lies southwest of the island and you are taking us due north. Turn about and take us to our boat instantly.”
“I am taking you to where I am going to land you, all right,” the sailor replied gruffly. “You have got to learn that you can’t come foolin’ in my business without getting yourselves into trouble. I’m goin’ to learn you.”
“You had better do as we ask you to do or you may regret it,” put in Phyllis.
The sailor appeared not to have heard her threat.
“Don’t speak to him, Phil. He isn’t worth wasting words over.”
The sailboat was evidently making for the land. The long line of a pier was faintly visible. A few lights shone along a strange shore.
It was plain that Captain Mike meant to land at this pier. The girls did not know why he meant to take them there, but they were too proud to ask him his reason.