“Would that be so if we could prove that dad had been kept a prisoner?” asked Tom, with much anxiety.
“I don’t know. Another thing, they may make dad sign certain papers. Don’t you remember Pelter said over the telephone that he would ’make him do it’? They’ll force father into something— if they can.”
“Well, what’s our next move?” asked Sam, impatiently.
“As it is after noon, we had better visit a quick lunch room and get a bit to eat. Then I think we had better hire some private tug to take us up the river. I am almost certain now that the Ellen Rodney went that way.”
“If she went up the river she might go all the way to Albany,” said Tom.
“Possibly, but I think those rascals would be too afraid to do that. They’ll leave the schooner at the first chance they get, and take father with them.”
The boys did not have to walk far before they came to a small shedlike building displaying the sign, “Quick Lunch.” They entered and ordered some sandwiches, pie, and coffee. While they were eating they questioned the proprietor about some craft to take them up the river.
“We are hunting for a schooner,” explained Dick. “We don’t know just where she is. We’ll pay somebody well for finding her for us.”
“I know a young fellow who owns a motor-boat,” said the quick lunch man. “He could take you anywhere you’d want to go.”
“Just the thing!” cried Dick, quickly. “Where is that fellow?”
“He ought to be here now— he generally comes in about noon for sandwiches and coffee.”
“I wish he would come now,” murmured Sam.
After that they did not hurry their lunch, hoping the owner of the motor-boat would appear. He came in ten minutes later— a bright, cheery individual, not much older than Dick.
“Sure I can take you anywhere along the river, if you are willing to pay for it,” said he, in answer to a question from the oldest Rover boy. “Just give me time to get a mouthful and I will be with you.”
“Let us take some lunch along,” suggested Tom. “There is no telling how long this search will last.”
“We might take a little,” answered Dick. “But I don’t think we’ll be on the river long.”
Ten minutes later the crowd was on the way to the river, to a dock where lay the motor-boat. It was not a very elegant craft, but it had a good engine and could travel well— and that, just then, meant everything to the Rover boys. A bargain was struck for the run, and the boys and the owner got aboard. And then the search for the schooner was begun anew.
A minute too late
“Well, this looks like a wild goose chase, Dick.”
It was Sam who spoke, from the bow of the motor-boat. For over two hours they had been moving up the Hudson River, slowly, scanning one shore and the other with care. They had noted many boats, but nothing that looked like the schooner for which they were so eagerly searching.