“The wind is dying down,” announced Ned in a low voice. Somehow it seemed as if they ought to talk in whispers.
“Yes, I think it will stop when the sun comes up,” said Mr. De Vere. “It looks as if it would be clear.”
In the east there appeared a rosy light. A golden beam shot up to the sky, tinting the crests of the waves. Then the rim of Old Sol appeared, to cheer the voyagers.
“Look there!” suddenly called Jerry, pointing straight at the disk of the sun, which, every second, was becoming larger.
They all looked and saw, laboring in the waves, about a mile away, a powerful tug, that seemed to be following them.
“What boat is that?” asked Ned.
“Hand me the glasses,” requested Mr. De Vere, as he went nearer to the cabin port. He peered through the binoculars for some time, then announced:
“It’s the steam tug, Monarch, from San Pedro. I wonder what it can be doing out this way?”
“Perhaps it was blown out of its course by the storm,” suggested Jerry. “I’m sure we must have been.”
“Very likely,” admitted Mr. De Vere. “Still that is a very powerful boat, and the captain must have some reason to be keeping after us the way he is doing.”
“Do you think they are following us?” asked Ned.
“It certainly looks so. We’re headed straight out to sea now,” he added, after a glance at the compass. “If the tug was out of it’s course it would be turned about and going the other way. Instead it is coming right after us.”
This was very evident, for, as the Ripper was laboring through the waves, the other vessel kept in her wake, and seemed to be overhauling the motor boat.
“Well, it’s a free country; I suppose they have a right to be here,” spoke Jerry.
“Yes,” said Mr. De Vere, watching the tug through the glasses, “but I don’t like their actions.”
“Why not? Do you think—” began Jerry.
“I don’t like to say what I think,” was the answer. “We will have to wait and see what develops. But I propose that we have some breakfast, or, at least, some hot coffee, if Bob can manage to stand in the galley. It has been a hard night for us.”
Bob soon demonstrated that he could get up a breakfast under rather adverse circumstances, and the derelict hunters were soon drinking hot coffee, though they had to hold the partly-filled cups in one hand, and maintain their balance by clinging with the other to some part of the cabin.
The day was clear, and, save for the high waves, there were no evidences of the storm. The big sea, however, was not likely to subside soon, and the Ripper had to stagger along as best she could, which task she performed to the great satisfaction of the voyagers.
Maurice De Vere seemed much worried by the appearance of the tug, which hung on the wake of the Ripper, maintaining a speed that kept it about a mile to the rear. The owner of the Rockhaven kept the glasses almost continually on the steam vessel, and the anxious look did not leave his face.