“Well, of course that might happen, though it’s not likely, for we seldom have bad storms an this coast this time of year. Still if you couldn’t bring the derelict in, you couldn’t that’s all. But if you found her, you could get the papers and gold, and if you had to abandon her, you could go back after the storm was over. I think you boys could do what I want, and, as I say, I’m willing to pay well. I’d go with you, of course. What do you say?”
Mr. Blowitz seemed quite anxious. In fact he was so anxious that Jerry was suspicious.
“I wonder why he doesn’t hire some larger boat, or a small steam tug to go for that derelict?” thought Jerry. “He could get men, who are regularly engaged in the business of saving vessels, to go out for that price. Why should he prefer us, when we have had no experience in that line, and hardly know him? There is something back of all this, that he is not telling us. I wonder what we had better do?”
“Well?” asked Mr. Blowitz, as none of the boys spoke. Ned and Bob were waiting for Jerry to reply and the latter was turning it over in his mind, seeking to find a reason for the strange request.
“When would we have to start?” asked Jerry, at. last.
“I’d like you to go to-morrow, or the day after, at the farthest. It would not take long to provision the boat for the cruise.”
“Will you put your offer in writing?” asked Jerry.
“In writing— why, isn’t my word good? Well, of course— Oh, I see— you think I am a stranger here and might— Oh, well, I have no objection to drawing up an agreement. Perhaps that will be the best way.”
Mr. Blowitz looked a little annoyed that Jerry should have suggested such a thing, but he quickly covered his confusion by speaking rapidly.
“I’ll draw up a paper right away,” he said, taking a fountain pen from his pocket. “I’ll have the waitress get me some blanks, and you can have them witnessed before a notary public, if you wish.”
“There’s no hurry,” said Jerry. “Suppose you draw up the papers, and we can meet you here to-morrow to talk things over further. I think we should take a little time to consider this. It is rather a queer proposition—”
“Oh, of course, I don’t want to hurry you into it,” declared Mr. Blowitz, in rather a nervous manner. “Of course I could get some other boat and a regular crew, but I saw you boys, and I took a liking to you. I thought you might like to earn some money and, if you have good luck, it oughtn’t to be hard work.”
“Oh, we’d like the money all right enough,” interposed Bob.
“We’ll think it over,” put in Jerry quickly, for he was afraid Ned or Bob might say something that would commit them. “We’ll meet you here to-morrow at ten o’clock and you can have the papers with you.”
“All right,” agreed the man, and Jerry thought he seemed disappointed that the matter was not settled at once. “Don’t forget now,” he urged them, as they left the pavilion, Mr. Blowitz remaining there to drink more chocolate.