“Well!” exclaimed Nellie, for that was all she could say, so great was her astonishment.
“Guess nothing happened after all,” added Ned. “We have had our fright for nothing.”
“There certainly was another man there,” declared Jerry, “and he’s gone now.”
“And I’m certain I heard a cry for help,” said Bob.
“We all heard a cry,” admitted Jerry, “but it might have been a call for a boatman, or something like that. However—”
He did not finish what he was going to say for, at that instant, Blowitz heard the noise of the approaching motor boat. The muffler. was not working just right, and the usually noiseless engine of the Ripper was making quite a fuss. Blowitz was in a listening attitude, standing in bold relief in the moonlight, and, having, apparently, satisfied himself as to where the boat was, he started to descend the cliff.
“He’s coming down,” said Ned.
“Is that the Ripper?” called Blowitz suddenly.
“Yes,” replied Jerry, wondering how the man knew.
“I thought I recognized her engine. Are you coming ashore? If you are, I’d like to speak to you.”
“We’re coming,” answered Ned.
“Don’t come too close then, for there are dangerous rocks. Make for that little point up there,” and the man pointed so that the boys could see where he meant. “There’s deep water right up to the edge. It’s a sort of natural dock, but go slow. I’ll meet you there, I want to tell you something.”
“Shall we ask him about the man?” inquired Bob in a low voice.
“No, don’t,” advised Nellie quickly. “It might make trouble. See what he has to say, and then let’s hurry home. I’m afraid of him.”
“What? With we three aboard?” asked Jerry with a little laugh. “We are complimented.”
“Oh, I don’t mean that,” Nellie hastened to say. “I mean that Mr. Blowitz is a dangerous man.”
She spoke low for she did not want him to hear her, and they were quite near to shore now.
Ned steered for the little point of land, and found he could send the boat quite close with no danger of hitting the rocks. Presently Blowitz, who had momentarily vanished amid the shadows at the foot of the cliff, appeared.
“Good evening, boys,” he said. “I—” he stopped suddenly, “I didn’t know you had young ladies aboard.”
“Yes, we have been taking a moonlight run,” Jerry explained. “We saw you up there on the cliff, and—”
“I was there with a friend of mine,” Blowitz spoke quickly. “We were talking about the derelict brig. I was to meet a sea captain there, but he did not come. My friend had to leave in a hurry, and just then I heard the noise made by your boat, so I called to you. Did you hear a call?”
“We heard some sort of a call,” spoke up Bob, “but we thought it was—”
“That was me,” interrupted Blowitz, “I recognized the Ripper by the peculiar sound of the exhaust. I have quite a trick of recognizing boats that way. I was afraid you’d get past, so I called. But I didn’t know you had the young ladies with you, or I would not have bothered you.”