“Watch out for yourself that a horse doesn’t step on you,” cautioned the captain.
It was a needful warning, for the animals, drawing big, heavy trucks, seemed to be every-where. As the two proceeded to thread their way through the maze there came a hail from somewhere in the rear and a voice called:
The commander turned, and so did Larry. The young reporter saw a man hurrying along the dock toward where the commander of the Turtle stood. Evidently he had not seen the captain come to a halt, for he called again:
“Wait a minute, Captain Tantrella!”
Then a curious thing happened. The man caught sight of Larry, standing beside the ship commander. He halted and turned to run. As he did so a truck drove up behind him and blocked his retreat.
“It’s Mah Retto!” exclaimed Larry, as he caught sight of the man’s face.
An instant later there came a warning shout from the driver of the truck. He reined his horses back sharply, but not in time. Retto had stepped directly under their heads. The off animal reared. The man stumbled and fell beneath its hoofs.
Then, with a cry of terror, which was echoed by a score of men who saw the accident, Retto appeared to crumple up in a heap. The forefeet of the big steed seemed to crush him before the driver could back the animal off. Then came silence, Retto lying without moving on the planking of the dock.
“Caught at last,” murmured Larry, as he rushed forward.
IN THE HOSPITAL
Instantly the confusion that had reigned on the dock became worse. Men ran to and fro shouting, no one seeming to know what to do.
“We must help him!” cried Captain Tantrella, shoving his papers into his pocket. “Come!”
He and Larry fought their way to the man’s side. A crowd surrounded him, but no one offered to do anything. The truck driver had dismounted from his high seat and was quieting his frightened horses.
“It wasn’t my fault,” he cried. “He ran right under their feet.”
“One side!” exclaimed a loud voice, and a burly policeman shouldered his way through. “What’s the matter? Give the man some air.”
Retto did not look as though he would ever need air again. He seemed quite dead.
“Let me get at him!” called Captain Tantrella. “I know something of medicine.”
“Shall I call an ambulance?” asked Larry of the police officer. “I know how to do it.”
The bluecoat nodded, glad to have help in the emergency. Then he proceeded to keep the crowd back while the captain knelt down beside the unfortunate man.
“Bad cut on the head,” the commander of the Turtle murmured. “Fractured, I’m afraid. Leg broken, too. It’s a wonder he wasn’t killed.”
The captain accepted several coats which were hastily offered, and made a pillow for the man’s head. He arranged the broken leg so that the bones would be in a better position for setting, and then, with a sponge and a basin of water which were brought, proceeded to wipe away the blood from the cut on Retto’s skull.