“It will be all right if we don’t get a storm before high tide,” he said. “I’ll inquire of Ponto what the weather signs are. Ponto! I say Ponto! Where are you?”
“Comin’ Massa Seabury! I’se comin’,” answered a sleepy voice and Ponto came from the garden to the veranda, where Mr. Seabury, his daughters and the boys were.
“Do you think we are going to have a storm?”
“Storm? No, sah. No storm to-day.”
“How can you tell?”
“Easy, Massa Seabury. When it’s goin’ t’ storm, I cain’t never sleep well, an’ now, I can fall asleep as easy as a baby.”
“I believe you. Well, that’s what I wanted to know. He’s a very good weather prophet,” he added in a low voice to the boys. “I guess the boat is safe. Have you seen Professor Snodgrass lately, Ponto?”
“Yais, sah, I done saw him ‘bout half an hour ago. He were huntin’ around de’ lower end ob de garden, after some web-footed grasshoppers, I t’ink he said.”
“Web-footed lizards,” corrected Ned.
“Yais, sah, dat’s what it were. Web-footed lizards an’ horned toads. Golly, I hopes he don’t cotch none when I’se around!”
The boys told Mr. Seabury of Mr. Blowitz, and their host advised them to be careful about entering into any arrangement with the man.
“I don’t know him,” he said, “but I have heard from different persons here that there is something queer about him. However, he may only want some favor that you can easily do.”
Shortly before five o’clock the three boys started to keep their appointment with Carson Blowitz. Professor Snodgrass had not succeeded in finding any horned toads, and announced his intention of making a search near the bed of a dried-up river that evening, as he had heard there were some there. The girls were too tired to care for further excursions that afternoon, and they remained on the shady veranda, as the boys started off.
“I wonder what Blowitz can want?” mused Ned, as he and his chums neared the chocolate pavilion.
“We’ll soon know,” said Jerry.
What Mr. Blowitz wanted
The boys found Mr. Carson Blowitz in the little courtyard of the pavilion, calmly sipping some cold chocolate.
“Ah, you are right on time, I see,” he remarked, as pleasantly as he could. “That’s what I like, boys. It shows your American spirit. Bright, hustling lads, all of you. Just the kind I have been looking for.”
“Did you want to see us on business?” asked Jerry, for he did not care for the man’s too obvious flattery.
“Yes, I did, but first let me order some chocolate for you. It is a hot day and you’ll feel better after it. I never talk business unless I am eating, or drinking something like chocolate or lemonade. It calms the nerves.”
Jerry was about to refuse, as he wanted to get the interview over with as soon as possible, but he looked at Bob, and that youth showed an evident desire to have some refreshment.