The cabin was rather large, and contained a number of lockers and other places that might serve as a hiding place for the safe. The boys and Mr. De Vere made a careful hunt. While they were in the midst of it a sudden noise startled them.
“What was that?” asked Bob.
“The cabin door slid shut,” answered Jerry, who had seen what happened. “I’ll open it.”
“Here’s the safe!” suddenly called Mr. De Vere, as he opened a small locker, in an out-of-the-way corner. “Help me get it out, boys, and we’ll open it.”
The closed door was forgotten, and the three lads, at their employer’s suggestion, fastened a rope about the safe and pulled it out. It rolled on small wheels.
“Sorry I can’t help you much,” spoke Mr. De Vere, “but this arm of mine prevents me.”
“Oh, we can manage it all right,” declared Jerry, and after a while, they succeeded in wheeling the safe out into the middle of the cabin.
“There is some other stuff in the locker,” announced Bob, as he peered within. “It looks like those small boxes Mr. Blowitz shipped from Cresville.”
“That’s what they are,” added Jerry, taking a look. “Now we have a chance to see what is in them.”
“Wait until we get the safe open,” advised Mr. De Vere. “Then we’ll see if we can’t get at the secret of the ship.”
He sat down in front of the strong steel box, and began to turn the combination. It was quite complicated, and took some time.
“Um-m-m-m-m!” exclaimed Bob, with a lazy stretch. “I’m beginning to feel sleepy. Guess I’ll lie down on this couch and rest.”
He did so, and, somewhat to his companions’ surprise, was soon apparently asleep.
“He must be pretty well played out,” remarked Ned. “Funny, but I feel a little drowsy myself. We haven’t been getting any too much sleep, of late, I suppose.”
Mr. De Vere was working away at the combination of the safe. Something seemed to have gone wrong with it, and he twirled the knobs and dials, first this way and that.
“What a curious ringing sound they make,” Jerry was thinking, as he sat in a chair and looked on. “It’s just like bells away off somewhere. I wonder if it’s my ears? I feel as if I had taken quinine for a cold. There seems to be some sort of a haze in the cabin. I wonder—”
But Jerry never knew what he wondered, for the same mysterious influence that had overpowered Bob had made Jerry succumb. His head fell forward on his breast, and he was unconscious.
Ned began to imagine he was in a boiler factory, of which Mr. De Vere was the foreman. The latter seemed to be hammering on a big steel safe, and soon, in Ned’s ears there echoed the noise of the blows. Then the boy’s eyes closed, and he joined Bob and Jerry in falling under the mysterious spell.
Seated on the floor in front of the safe Mr. De Vere wondered what made his fingers move so slowly. With his one good hand he could scarcely turn the dials of the combination. His head, too, felt very heavy, and once there was such a mist before his eyes that he could not see the figures on the shining disk of the safe.