The “Flitter’s” boats were in the water and manned by sturdy oarsmen before the glad cry went up that the robber fleet had been discovered. They were so near the yacht that it was evident the dusky tribesmen were poor oarsmen. In the clear light from the ship’s deck they could be seen paddling wildly, their white robes fluttering as though inspired by fear. There were four boats, all of them crowded to the gunwales.
“Keep the light on them, captain,” shouted Monty from below. “Try to pick out the boat that has Miss Gray on board. Pull away, boys! This means a hundred dollars to every one of you—yes, a thousand if we have to fight for her!”
“Kill every damned one of them, Mr. Brewster,” roared the captain, who had retired behind a boat when he became aware of the presence of women on deck.
Three boats shot away from the side of the yacht, Brewster and Joe Bragdon in the first, both armed with rifles.
“Let’s take a shot at ’em,” cried a sailor who stood in the stern with his finger on a trigger.
“Don’t do that! We don’t know what boat holds Peggy,” commanded Brewster. “Keep cool, boys, and be ready to scrap if we have to.” He was half mad with fear and anxiety, and he was determined to exterminate the bands of robbers if harm came to the girl in their power.
“She’s in the second boat,” came the cry from the yacht, and the searchlight was kept on that particular object almost to the exclusion of the others. But Captain Perry saw the wisdom of keeping all of them clearly located in order to prevent trickery.
Brewster’s brawny sailor boys came up like greyhounds, cheering as they dashed among the boats of the fugitives. Three or four shots were fired into the air by the zealous American lads, and there were loud cries from the Arabs as they veered off panic-stricken. Monty’s boat was now in the path of light and not far behind the one which held Peggy. He was standing in the bow.
“Take care of the others!” he called back to his followers. “We’ll go after the leaders.”
The response from behind was a cheer, a half dozen shots and some of the most joyous profanity that ever fell from the lips of American sailors, mingled with shrieks from the boats they were to “take care of.”
“Stop!” Brewster shouted to the Arabs. “Stop, or we’ll kill every one of you!” His boat was not more than fifty feet from the other.
Suddenly a tall, white-robed figure arose in the middle of the Egyptian craft, and a moment later the pursuers saw Peggy’s form passed up to him. She was instantly clasped by one of his long arms, and the other was lifted high above her. A gleaming knife was held in the upraised hand.
“Fire on us if you dare!” came in French from the tall Arab. “Dog of an American, she shall die if you come near her!”
THE RESCUE OF PEGGY