“The money is a large sum,” added Bob.
“Then you want to go?” asked Jerry. “I’ll do just what ever you do. I’ll tell him we’ll go.”
“No! Don’t!” cried Nellie in a tense whisper. “Jerry— boys— don’t have anything to do with this man. He may be all right, but there’s something mysterious about him. Why should he want to hire you when, for the same money, or less, he could get a company of fishermen, who know these waters well, to make the search? Take a girl’s reason, for once, and don’t have anything to do with him!”
She had risen to her feet, her eyes were flashing and her cheeks flushed with the excitement of the moment. The boys looked at her in admiration.
“I admit there is something queer in his offering to increase the prize money,” spoke Jerry, after a pause. “He must be very desperate.”
“And why this sudden rush?” inquired Ned. “This afternoon he was in no such hurry. Something must have occurred in the meanwhile— I wonder if it was the man on the cliff—”
“Now don’t let’s go to guessing at too much,” cautioned Jerry. “The question to be settled now is: Do you want to go on a search for the derelict brig? Yes or no? That’s what we’ve got to settle now.”
There was silence for a moment, broken only by the tick of the clock in the cabin. Involuntarily Nellie glanced at it. The hands pointed to the hour of nine, and she felt that she and her sisters should be home. Jerry looked at his two companions.
“I guess we’d better not go,” said Bob slowly.
“I hate to give it up, but maybe it will be for the best,” added Ned. “I’m suspicious of him. Tell him we’ll not go, Jerry.”
Jerry stepped to the cabin door and slid it back. At the sound Blowitz came eagerly forward.
“Well?” he queried. “Are you going? Can you start at once’?”
“We have decided not to go,” replied Jerry, slowly. “I— that is my chums and I— do not feel just right about it. It is not our boat, and—”
He hesitated, for he did not want to give the main reasons that had influenced him and his chums. But Blowitz did not give him a chance to continue.
“Not go!” the man fairly cried. “Why I’m surprised at you! You led me to believe, all along, that you would go. Here I’ve gone and wasted a lot of time on you, gone to a lot of trouble, made all my arrangements, expecting you would go, and—”
“We never gave you any reason to think we would go,” declared Jerry very positively. “You are wrong, there, Mr. Blowitz. We only said we would consider it. We have done so, and have concluded not to go. I am sorry—”
“Sorry? You’ll be sorrier than this before I’m through with you!” threatened the man. “You’ll wish you had gone before very long, let me tell you. You’ve spoiled all my plans. I depended— Oh! I’ll get even with you for this!” and the man, in a fury threw his cigar down on the rocks, whence it bounded up amid a shower of sparks. “You’ll regret this!” he cried in angry tones, as he turned away and started off up the cliff, muttering to himself.