“Can you slow down the engine a bit?” he asked of Jerry, who had relieved Ned at the motor.
“Yes, if you want me to, Why?”
“I’d like that other boat to come closer to us. I want to see if I can make out who is aboard. If we slacken our speed they may approach before they see the trick, and I can form some opinion of what this strange chase means.”
“What do you think it means?” asked Ned.
“I’m afraid it indicates that Blowitz is after us,” replied Mr. De Vere. “I think he has heard of our voyage after the brig and has hired this tug to try and beat me. But slow down, and let us see what happens. The waves are not so high now, and you can do it with safety.”
Accordingly Jerry reduced the speed of the motor. The Ripper at once began to lose headway, and Mr. De Vere, watching the oncoming tug through the binoculars, announced:
“She’ll be closer in a little while, and I can make out the man on deck, who seems to be directing operations.”
The boys anxiously waited. Their employer kept the glasses to his eyes, though it was tiresome work, holding them with one hand. Suddenly he exclaimed:
“I can see him quite plainly, now!”
“Who is it?” asked Jerry quickly.
“Carson Blowitz! He, too, is after the derelict! He is going to try and cheat me again!”
Nearer and nearer approached the steam tug, for the pilot had, evidently, not taken into consideration the fact that the Ripper was going ahead at reduced speed. Soon it was close enough for the boys, without the aid of the glasses, to make out the figure of Blowitz.
“I must go outside,” announced Mr. De Vere. “Give me a hand, Jerry, so I won’t stumble and hurt my broken arm.”
“What are you going to do?”
“I’m going to ask Blowitz what he means by following me; and whether he is trying to find the derelict that belongs to me.”
Jerry assisted Mr. De Vere out on the small deck in front of the cabin. By this time the Monarch was within hailing distance, those in charge of her evidently having decided to give up trying to remain in the rear.
“Ripper ahoy!” called Carson Blowitz, waving his hand at the little group on deck.
“What do you want, you scoundrel?” asked Mr. De Vere angrily. “What do you mean by following me?”
“Rather strong language, my dear partner,” was the taunting answer from Blowitz. “Besides I don’t know that I am following you. The ocean is big enough for two boats, I guess.”
“Do you deny that you are following me, and seeking to find the derelict Rockhaven?” demanded Mr. De Vere.
“I deny nothing— I admit nothing, my dear partner.”
“I am no longer in partnership with you, since you tried to cheat me,” was the answer. “I consider our relations at an end.”
“Very well. But I am sorry to see that you are hurt. I hope it is nothing serious.”