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Title: Motor Matt's Submarine - or, The Strange Cruise of the Grampus
Author: Matthews, Stanley R.
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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courtesy of the Digital Library@Villanova University
(http://digital.library.villanova.edu/))



  MOTOR STORIES

  THRILLING
  ADVENTURE

  MOTOR
  FICTION

  NO. 15
  JUNE 5, 1909

  FIVE
  CENTS

  MOTOR MATT'S
  SUBMARINE

  _OR_ THE STRANGE
  CRUISE OF THE GRAMPUS

  _By
  THE AUTHOR OF "MOTOR MATT"_

  [Illustration: _MOTOR MATT GRABBED AT THE ROPE
  AS IT WAS THROWN TO HIM BY THE
  MAN IN THE SUBMARINE._]

  _STREET & SMITH,
  PUBLISHERS,
  NEW YORK._



MOTOR STORIES

THRILLING ADVENTURE MOTOR FICTION

_Issued Weekly. By subscription $2.50 per year. Entered according to
Act of Congress in the year 1909, in the Office of the Librarian of
Congress, Washington, D. C., by_ STREET & SMITH, _79-89 Seventh Avenue,
New York, N. Y._

  No. 15.      NEW YORK, June 5, 1909.      Price Five Cents.



MOTOR MATT'S SUBMARINE;

OR,

THE STRANGE CRUISE OF THE _GRAMPUS_.

By the author of "MOTOR MATT."



CONTENTS


  CHAPTER I. A STARTLING REPORT.
  CHAPTER II. MIXED MESSAGES.
  CHAPTER III. HURRY-UP ORDERS.
  CHAPTER IV. ACCIDENT OR DESIGN?
  CHAPTER V. SIXTY SHOWS HIS HAND.
  CHAPTER VI. AN UNEXPECTED RESCUE.
  CHAPTER VII. A FRUITLESS SEARCH.
  CHAPTER VIII. THE OVERTURNED BOAT.
  CHAPTER IX. ADRIFT IN THE STORM.
  CHAPTER X. THE DERELICT.
  CHAPTER XI. THE SCHOONER.
  CHAPTER XII. A STUNNING SURPRISE.
  CHAPTER XIII. CLOSING IN.
  CHAPTER XIV. THE "GRAMPUS" GETS A CLUE.
  CHAPTER XV. AN ULTIMATUM.
  CHAPTER XVI. "OFF WITH THE OLD, AND ON WITH THE NEW."
  The Chicken-hearted Tenderfoot.



CHARACTERS THAT APPEAR IN THIS STORY.


  =Motor Matt=, a lad who is at home with every variety of motor, and
  whose never-failing nerve serves to carry him through difficulties
  that would daunt any ordinary young fellow. Because of his daring
  as a racer with bicycle, motor-cycle and automobile he is known as
  "Mile-a-minute Matt." Motor-boats, air ships and submarines come
  naturally in his line, and consequently he lives in an atmosphere of
  adventure in following up his "hobby."

  =Dick Ferral=, a young sea dog from Canada, with all a sailor's
  superstitions, but in spite of all that a royal chum, ready to stand
  by the friend of his choice through thick and thin.

  =Carl Pretzel=, a cheerful and rollicking German boy, stout of frame
  as well as of heart, who is led by a fortunate accident to link his
  fortunes with those of Motor Matt.

  =Captain Nemo, Jr., otherwise Archibald Townsend=, a fast friend of
  the Motor Boys and skipper of the submarine, _Grampus_.

  =Cassidy=, mate of the _Grampus_.

  =Gaines, Clackett and Speake=, crew of the _Grampus_.

  =Captain Jim Sixty=, a seaman of long experience who resorts to
  filibustering in order to gain big prizes in the lottery of Fortune.
  Master of the wrecked brig, _Dolphin_.

  =Ysabel Sixty=, Captain Sixty's daughter, who plays an ignoble part,
  although against her better nature.



CHAPTER I.

A STARTLING REPORT.


There is a speed limit for automobiles in the City of New Orleans, but
a certain red touring car on this Wednesday morning gave little heed
to the regulation. With two wheels in the air the car made a sharp
turn into Prytania Street, slowed a little as it came within one of
colliding with a two-wheeled milk wagon, swerved to one side and then
leaped onward.

Besides the driver, the car contained only one man. This passenger sat
in front, leaning eagerly forward and urging the driver constantly to a
faster gait.

"That's the house," said the passenger finally, indicating a building
with his stubby forefinger.

The car pulled up with a jerk and the passenger was out before the
machine was fairly at a stop.

"Wait for me," he called as he rushed across the sidewalk, yanked the
gate bell and then darted through and up the steps to the porch.

With savage impatience he jabbed at the push button beside the door and
tramped fretfully until a colored servant answered his summons.

"Is Cap'n Nemo, Jr., in?" he flung at the darky.

"Dat's a new one on me, boss," was the puzzled answer. "Ah dunno no
sich pusson. You-all must hab got de wrong----"

"Townsend, then?" broke in the caller. "Is _he_ here?"

"Yassuh, Mistah Townsend is in his room, sah, but dat odder man----"

Without pausing further, the man pushed roughly past the darky, to that
person's intense astonishment, and went up the hall stairs three steps
at a time. A moment later he had flung open a door unceremoniously.

There were two men in the room, and they started up quickly as the
newcomer hurled himself in on them.

"Clackett!" exclaimed one of the men who had been in the room, facing
the other with a good deal of surprise. "What's all this hurry for?"

"Sixty has sailed, cap'n!" exclaimed Clackett, dropped into a chair.

"Great guns!" gasped the third man. "Must have been kind o' sudden."

"When did he sail, Clackett?"

"Ten o'clock this morning, steamer _Santa Maria_, a fruiter bound for
British Honduras."

"He ain't goin' to British Honduras," burst from the third man, "and
don't you think it."

"I don't think so either, Cassidy," replied the captain, "but he's the
fellow we were to watch, and if he's gone we've got to put out after
him."

The captain looked at his watch.

"Ten-twenty," he mused, slipping the watch back into his pocket. "How
did you get here, Clackett?"

"In one of them automobiles, cap'n. Street cars was too bloomin' slow."

"You're positive there's no mistake?"

"I know Jim Sixty as well as I know you, cap'n, an' I'll take my solemn
Alfred it was him standin' on the _Santa Maria's_ deck when she steamed
away from the dock."

"A mistake, you know," pursued the captain, "would put us on the wrong
track and cause no end of trouble."

"There ain't no mistake--take it from me."

At this the captain became intensely alive. He whirled on Cassidy.

"You ride with Clackett in the automobile to Carrolton, Cassidy," said
he briskly, "take the ferry to Westwego and bring the _Grampus_ on the
run to Stuyvesant Dock. Clackett and I will be there waiting for you."

"Tough luck," growled Cassidy, "we didn't know something about this
move o' Sixty's, 'cause then we could have had the submarine handier
by."

"We'll not lose much time," returned the captain. "The _Grampus_ is all
ready for a long cruise? That's the main thing."

"The boys was gettin' on the last of the stores over at Westwego,"
replied Cassidy.

The captain whirled on Clackett.

"The ferry from Carrolton runs on the half hour," said he, "and if you
hit up that buzz-wagon you ought to get Cassidy on the ten-thirty boat.
After that, rush back into town. The Snug Harbor Hotel is not far from
Stuyvesant Dock. Go there, ask for Motor Matt, and bring him and his
friends to the dock, prepared to make the run down the river and into
the gulf with us. That will be all. Off with you, on the jump. I'll
look after your luggage and mine, Cassidy."

If Cassidy was to catch the first boat from Carrolton landing there was
no time for talk. With a hearty, "Ay, ay," the two men whirled from the
room and rushed down the stairs. A moment later the captain, looking
from a front window, saw them leap into the automobile and vanish up
the street.

So far as the captain was concerned, he had plenty of time to make
his preparations. It would be close to eleven o'clock before the
_Grampus_ could possibly get clear of Westwego, and possibly it would
be eleven-fifteen before she would come alongside the Stuyvesant Dock.

For some time the captain had been lying ill in the Prytania Street
house, but he was now rapidly recovering, and his restless, active
nature welcomed this call to action. He felt that it was the one tonic
he needed to bring him back to his usual form.

Cassidy was mate of the _Grampus_. Ever since the captain had been
stricken down the mate had been with him as watcher and nurse.

Not much time was required to get Cassidy's property into his
ditty-bag, and not much more time for the captain to pack his own
satchel. The colored servant had telephoned for a carriage, and the
vehicle came just as the captain had finished packing.

All that remained was to settle with Mrs. Thomas, the landlady, to
thank her for her kindness, and to leave for downtown.

Twenty minutes after the departure of Cassidy and Clackett the captain
was speeding away in the direction of Canal Street. He halted at a
bank, at the corner of Camp and Common, and drew five thousand dollars
in gold. This money was given to him in a canvas bag, and, with that
and his luggage, he was hurried on to Stuyvesant Dock.

As he had surmised would be the case, he was ahead of the _Grampus_.
Gathering his goods about him, he sat down on a box near the edge of
the dock and watched up stream for the first glimpse of the rounded
deck, the conning tower, and the mast with the red periscope ball of
the submarine.

Barely had he sighted her, cutting through the waves of the Lower
Mississippi, when a quick step behind him caused him to look around.

Clackett, red-faced and perspiring, was hurrying toward him. There was
a troubled, ominous look on Clackett's face.

"Where are Motor Matt and his two friends, Dick Ferral and Carl
Pretzel?" cried the captain. "I need them on this cruise, and they
understand the importance of their being here. Will they be along
later, Clackett?"

"They'll not be along later, cap'n," answered Clackett. "You can wait
for 'em as long as you please, an' the boys won't be showing up. Every
minute you lose, too, the _Santa Maria_ and Jim Sixty are gettin'
farther and farther away from us."

A frown of heavy disappointment wrinkled the captain's brows.

"What's the matter?" he demanded. "Motor Matt's word is as good as his
bond, and he told me he'd stay in New Orleans a week and wait for me to
send word to him. Where is the boy?"

"He sailed on the _Santa Maria_ this mornin'," was the startling
announcement.

The captain jumped to his feet.

"Great Scott!" he exclaimed, staring at Clackett in blank amazement.

"It's a fact, cap'n," asserted Clackett. "I got it straight from the
hotel feller that seen Matt and his friends aboard the boat. There's
been queer doin's, somehow."

"What do you mean by queer doings?" asked the captain sharply.

"Well, cap'n, this is the way that hotel feller handed it out to me:
Ysabel Sixty, the ole filibuster's gal, called at the Snug Harbor about
nine-thirty, this mornin', and had a short talk with Motor Matt. When
the girl went away, Motor Matt settled his hotel bill, rounded up his
friends and they all stampeded upstairs to git their baggage together.
Then they flocked down and hustled for the _Santa Maria_. The hotel
feller went with 'em, helpin' tote their traps."

The captain stared in bewilderment, his amazement growing as he
listened.

"There's underhand work of some kind here," he muttered. "Motor Matt
would never have gone off like that without telling me something about
it."

"He tried to git you over the telephone, but the line was busy and he
didn't have no time to wait."

"You saw Sixty on the _Santa Maria_ as she drew away from the Fruit
Company's dock?"

"Ay, ay, sir, as plain as I see you, this blessed minute. The girl was
with him, too."

"Did you see Motor Matt and his friends?"

"I wasn't lookin' for them, particular. They might have been on the
deck, cap'n, but I wouldn't swear to it. I was so jolted up by seein'
Sixty pull out when we wasn't expectin' it of him, yet a while, that
mebby I was excited."

The captain, greatly perturbed, tramped back and forth across the dock.
He was aroused from his unpleasant reflections by the voice of Cassidy.

"All aboard, cap'n! I reckon we pulled this off in short order, hey?"

The captain whirled around. Cassidy, standing in the top of the conning
tower of the _Grampus_, was barely head and shoulders above the level
of the dock. One of the hands, on the forward part of the rounded deck,
had passed a rope through a ring and was holding the submarine steady.

"Pick up the luggage, Clackett," ordered the captain, himself taking
charge of the bag of gold, "and we'll get aboard."

"What you goin' to do about Motor Matt?" queried Clackett as he picked
up the luggage.

"He's aboard the _Santa Maria_, and I am convinced that, for some
cause or other, he's there through some underhand work of Sixty's. Our
orders call on us to follow the _Santa Maria_ and keep watch of Sixty.
By doing that, we shall also be trailing Motor Matt and his friends.
Something is bound to happen that will give us a little light on this."

Fifteen minutes later the _Grampus_ was hustling down the river, her
screw racing under the terrific impulse of the gasolene motor, and a
white line of foam surging across her low deck and breaking against the
base of the conning tower.



CHAPTER II.

MIXED MESSAGES.


"I tell you somet'ing," said Carl Pretzel gloomily, "I don'd like
hanging aroundt mitoudt any pitzness. Id geds on my nerfs, yah, so
helup me. For six tays, now, ve haf peen loafing in New Orleans, und
eferyt'ing vas so keviet as some Quaker meedings. Nodding habbens. Vy
don'd ve hear from Downsent mit a hurry-oop call to ged busy, eh?"

It was nine o'clock in the evening of the day preceding that on which
the _Grampus_ had got away in the wake of the _Santa Maria_, and Motor
Matt, Dick and Carl were lounging in the small office of the Snug
Harbor.

For two or three days Carl had been restless. He had visited all the
five-cent shows on Canal Street, he had made a sight-seeing tour
through the French Quarter, he had gone out to Lake Pontchartrain, and
he had done various other things to pass away the time and make some
excuse for his idleness, but his energetic spirit was not to be muzzled.

"Take it easy, old ship," said Dick; "I'm as anxious as you are to
trip anchor and slant away for some port where we can do things, but
there's a notion rattling around in my locker that it won't be long now
before we run afoul of something real exciting. We were to wait a week
on Townsend, and the week will be up to-morrow. We'll hear from him
then, and I'll bank on it."

"So will I," spoke up Matt. "Don't be so impatient, Carl. Adventures
are all right, but there are a few other things in life for fellows
like us to think about."

"T'anks, brofessor," answered Carl, humbly. "Vat else vould you t'ink
aboudt oof you vanted to be among der life vones?"

"An academy, for instance," said Matt with a far-away look in his gray
eyes, "and a spell of grubbing at the stores of knowledge preparatory
to a college course."

"Helup!" gasped Carl; "bolice! Matt is t'inking oof cutting himseluf
oudt oof our herd, Tick, und going to school. Shpeaking for meinseluf,
ven I go to school I don'd go, for I play vat you call hookey undt look
for atvendures. All has got to go mit shnap und chincher for me, und
vere iss lifeliness in pooks? Ach, donnervetter!"

"Avast, there, matey!" said Dick. "Matt is right. Adventures are all
well enough in their place, but a cruise in the waters of learning is a
main fine thing--for those who can afford it. Some day Matt will be in
an academy, and some other day he will be in Harvard or Yale, and the
King of the Motor Boys will be done with the buzz-engines for always."

Matt pulled himself together and laughed softly.

"Never, as long as I live," he declared, "will I be done with gasolene
motors. Don't fool yourself on that for a minute. I may----"

"A message for you, Motor Matt. Just came off the wires."

A messenger boy pushed in among the three chums and handed a yellow
envelope to Matt. All the messenger boys, together with nearly every
one else in New Orleans, knew Motor Matt at least by sight. His
work with the air ship, _Hawk_, which had recently been wrecked and
destroyed, had kept him and his friends prominently in the public eye
for some time.

"Sign the book, Dick," said Matt, tearing open the envelope.

"Vat you t'ink oof dot?" breathed Carl in a spasm of joyful excitement
as the messenger boy went away. "Ve talk oof vanting t'ings to habben,
und righdt off dey pegin. Ach, vat a luck! How easy id iss to be
jeerful--somedimes!"

"Mayhap that message isn't anything to be cheerful about, Carl," said
Dick. "I'll bet some one is asking to buy the _Hawk_, and her poor old
bones are rusting in a live oak, down by Bayou Yamousa."

"Dot ain'd my guess, you bed you," palpitated Carl. "I t'ink id iss
somepody asking vill ve go by der Spanish Main und hunt for birate
shtuff. Vat a habbiness oof id iss!"

"You're both wrong," said Matt, a perplexed look on his face. "There
has been some mistake in the telegraph office, and this message isn't
for me."

"Not for you, mate?" queried Dick, picking the envelope off Matt's
knee. "It's addressed plain enough--'Motor Matt, Care Snug Harbor
Hotel, New Orleans.'"

"There's a different name inside," returned Matt.

"Vat id iss?" asked Carl, curiosity in a measure drawing the sting of
disappointment.

"'Captain James Sixty,'" read off Matt, "'Snug Harbor Hotel, New
Orleans, Louisiana.' The address is the same, but the name is
different."

"Meppy der message iss for you, anyvay," persisted Carl. "Read him ofer
und meppy you can dell."

"No, the message is part of the puzzle. Listen: 'In latitude
twenty-eight degrees thirty minutes and twenty seconds north, longitude
ninety-two degrees fourteen minutes and thirty-four seconds west two
days ago. No wind and no drift since.' How could that possibly be for
us, pards?"

"Id's some conuntrums, und dot's all aboudt id," grumbled Carl
dejectedly. "Nodding habbens mit us more as you findt on a
Suntay-school bicnic, und I'm going to ped mit meinseluf und hope for
pedder t'ings in der morning. Good nighdt, bards."

With that Carl got up disgustedly and left the hotel office.

"How do you account for that, mate?" asked Dick.

"The messages got into the wrong envelopes," answered Matt. "Mr. James
Sixty must be staying in this hotel. He's got my message and I've got
his. That means we've got to find each other and exchange. Come on,
Dick. We'll go over and talk with the clerk."

When they got to the desk they found a hulk of a man with a very red
face talking with the night man in the office. The red-faced man seemed
very much put out about something. He had a voice like a fog horn, and
he was using it with a good deal of power. As Matt and Dick approached
the desk the clerk suddenly put out his hand and stopped the flow of
language.

"There's Motor Matt now," said he. "Here, Matt!" he called. "Have you
got a telegram that don't belong to you? There's been a mix-up in
messages, somehow, for Captain Sixty, here, has got one you ought to
have. He was just asking me where you could be found."

"I was just coming to ask you about Captain Sixty," said Matt, holding
out the message.

Sixty turned and snatched the message away.

"D'you read it?" he roared.

"Couldn't very well help it, captain," answered Matt. "If you'll look
at the envelope you'll see it's addressed to me."

"I like some people's nerve," scowled the captain. "Here's your'n."

He flung a crumpled yellow sheet at Matt.

"It looks as though you'd read this," said Matt, "so I guess we're no
more than even."

An angry gurgle came from Sixty's bull-like throat.

"I'll raise Cain if I find out this mix-up was done a-purpose," he
growled.

"I don't see what anybody could want to do such a thing as that for,"
returned Matt.

The captain flung about and gave Matt an insolent up-and-down stare.

"Oh, you don't, huh?" he muttered. "Well, mebby it's well you don't."

The captain rolled away.

"The way to talk with him," said Dick resentfully, "is with a belaying
pin. He looks like an old shellback, and I'll bet he's a bucko. But
what's the message, mate?"

"A man in Boston wants to buy the _Hawk_," answered Matt, "and asks us
to name our price. He says he knows Archibald Townsend, and refers us
to him as to his financial standing."

"I could have kissed the book on that, Matt," said Dick soberly.
"Keelhaul me if I don't wish we had that blessed little flying machine
this minute."

"So do I. But there's no use crying about it, Dick. Maybe we'll build
another, some time; just now, though, we ought to think more about bed
than anything else."

"I'm ready to do a caulk, if you are."

"Come on, then."

As they were leaving the office to go upstairs to their room Matt took
a look around. Captain Sixty was sitting in a chair in the corner, his
message opened out on his knee. But his fishy little orbs were not on
the message, but on Matt; and there was a glittering distrust in them
which Matt could not fail to notice. However, he said nothing about it
to Dick, and very soon forgot it himself.

Next morning the boys were hoping to hear from Townsend. Townsend,
otherwise Captain Nemo, Jr., of the submarine _Grampus_, had some work
in which he wanted Matt and his friends to assist him, and he had asked
Matt, Dick and Carl to remain a week in New Orleans, at his expense,
until he should be well enough to tell them about the work and get it
under way.

The following day rounded out the period of time Townsend had asked for.

After breakfast the boys hung about the hotel waiting for some
communication from Prythania Street. Toward the middle of the forenoon
a bell boy ran into the office and hurried to the place where Matt was
sitting with Dick and Carl.

"You're wanted in the parlor, Motor Matt," said the boy.

"Dere id vas!" exclaimed Carl delightedly. "Ve got id now, Tick."

"Who wants me?" asked Matt.

"A young woman--and she says she's in a hurry."

Matt was puzzled. He did not know any young ladies in New Orleans, and
couldn't imagine why one should come to the hotel and ask for him.

"I'll go right up," said he--and immediately took the first step into a
snare that had been laid for him.



CHAPTER III.

HURRY-UP ORDERS.


When Matt entered the bare little room on the second floor which served
as a public parlor for the hotel, a girl of sixteen or seventeen arose
to meet him. She had black hair and eyes, was well dressed, and looked
like a Spanish señorita.

"Motor Matt?" she asked, stepping toward him with an engaging smile.

"My name," he answered.

"I am----" She paused, and a frightened look came into her wide, dark
eyes. For the first time Matt noticed that, in spite of her smile, she
seemed to be ill at ease. "I am Miss Harris," she finally went on,
"Miss Sadie Harris, a niece of your friend, Mr. Townsend. Perhaps you
have heard my uncle speak of me?"

The girl's English was good, so Matt argued that she was not a Spaniard
after all.

"No," he answered, "I did not know that Mr. Townsend had a niece."

"That's strange," murmured the girl, "for I was always a favorite of
his. As soon as I learned that he was sick I came right on to New
Orleans. When I arrived here, yesterday, I found my uncle nearly well
again. All this, though, has nothing to do with my errand. Here are
three tickets to British Honduras, good on the steamer _Santa Maria_,
which sails at ten, this morning. There is not much time, Motor Matt,
and it is my uncle's wish that you go on that boat."

To say that Matt was "stumped" would hardly do justice to his feelings.

"British Honduras?" he echoed.

"Yes; the boat sails from the Fruit Company's dock."

"But why am I and my friends to go to British Honduras?"

"I don't know. My uncle gave me the tickets and asked me to hand them
to you and tell you to expect word from him at Belize. He said the
work was very important, and that you must not say a word about it to
anybody."

"I don't know anything about the work, Miss Harris," answered Matt, "so
it won't be possible for me to say anything to any one."

"Your intention of leaving on the _Santa Maria_, too, ought to be kept
a secret. At least, that's what my uncle says."

"This is mighty sudden," murmured Matt dazedly. "Why couldn't Mr.
Townsend have called me out to the house and talked this over with me
yesterday?"

"He didn't know anything about it yesterday, Motor Matt. In fact, the
work only came to his knowledge an hour ago."

"Wasn't he well enough to come and tell me himself?"

"Well enough, yes, but he had not the time. The _Grampus_ is over at
Westwego, and he is very busy getting her ready for sea."

"Isn't he going to British Honduras on the _Santa Maria_?"

"No."

"How am I to hear from him in Belize?"

Miss Harris tossed her head petulantly.

"My uncle isn't telling all his plans, even to me. I've delivered his
orders, and it's getting along toward ten o'clock and you haven't
much time if you're to sail on the _Santa Maria_. I'm to go on the
boat myself, and it isn't likely my uncle would leave me alone and
unprotected in Central America. He thought you and your friends could
look after me a little, both on the boat and until he was able to reach
Honduras, but----"

Miss Harris used her lustrous Spanish eyes with telling effect.

"Certainly we will go," broke in Matt, "only it was such a hurry-up
order that it rather floored me. I and my pards have been waiting to
hear from Mr. Townsend about some work which he was going to do when he
got well enough. Perhaps the work has something to do with you?"

Matt was clever at drawing inferences. There might be Spanish blood in
Miss Harris' veins--British Honduras was partially peopled with men
and women of Spanish descent--and here was a call to Belize. Then,
again, Miss Harris had only recently arrived in New Orleans, and it
required no great stretch of fancy to imagine that she had sprung, thus
suddenly, some line of endeavor for which her uncle had been waiting.

"I am not at liberty to tell you anything more, Motor Matt," said Miss
Harris, with another of her bright smiles. "Will you take the _Santa
Maria_?"

"Yes."

A strange glow danced in the girl's expressive eyes.

"That is nice of you," said she. "Here are the tickets. My uncle was so
sure you'd go that he got them and secured your stateroom reservations."

Matt took the envelope the girl handed to him and walked down the
stairs with her. She bade him good-by at the ladies' entrance, and, as
he turned to go back to the office he had a disturbing thought.

If there had been time to secure tickets and cabin reservations, there
should have been time for Townsend to give Matt and his chums a little
more notice of that trip to Honduras.

Matt, however, had abundant faith in Townsend. Undoubtedly he was
proceeding in the manner that best suited his plans.

"Come on, boys," said the young motorist, hurrying up to Dick and Carl,
"we've got to pack, and be in a rush about it."

"Hoop-a-la!" gloried Carl, catching the spirit of Matt's words,
although he had not the remotest idea of the underlying cause. "Oof ve
are going to pack oop, den id vas a skinch ve're going someveres; und
oof ve vas going someveres, den der drouple-pot iss on, und vill pegin
to poil righdt----"

"Ease up a bit on that jaw-tackle, mate," interrupted Dick, grabbing
Carl's arm and hurrying him off after Matt. "It's as plain as the nose
on your face that some kind of word has been received from Townsend,
but it's just as plain that there's no time to talk about it. Matt's in
a tearing hurry, and it's up to us to pull back into our shells, hustle
the stuff into our dunnage-bags, and wait for him to tell us what we
want to know."

When Dick and Carl reached their room, Matt was already throwing his
belongings into a grip. The sailor and the Dutch boy got busy.

"The girl is a Miss Sadie Harris," explained Matt as he worked, "and
she's a niece of Townsend's."

"Vas she a pooty goot looker?" inquired Carl, rolling up his eyes.

"What's that got to do with it?" demanded Dick.

"Nodding, only id vas more romandick oof a pooty girl vas mixed oop in
der pitzness."

"My eye!" exploded Dick. "Well, cut out the romance. Unless I'm wide of
the course this is nothing but pure business. Eh, Matt?"

"Yes," answered Matt. "We're to sail at ten o'clock for Belize, in
British Honduras."

Carl slumped into a chair with a gasp.

"Pridish Honturas!" he gurgled. "Vere iss dot? Ofer py China someveres?"

"It's in Central America, you saphead!" cried Dick. "I've been in those
waters, and I'm a Feejee if they ever took much of my fancy."

"Miss Harris brought our tickets," proceeded Matt, "and she's going to
sail on the same boat."

"Vat are ve to do ven ve ged dere?"

"Wait for instructions from Townsend."

"Then Townsend isn't sailing with us, mate?"

"No."

"Well, keelhaul me, it's a queer course that's been laid for us. What
makes it queerer is, that in all the time we've been hooked up with
Townsend he's never once mentioned his niece."

"Townsend is an odd chap, in some ways, but he's as straight as a
string for all that," returned the young motorist. "This work in
Honduras, I feel pretty sure, has something to do with the girl."

"I like dot," spoke up Carl, kneeling on his rusty old suit-case in
order to make the cover go down. "Peauty in tisdress alvays cuts some
ice mit me. Dere! I vas alretty for anyding vat comes my vay."

"I'm ready, too," added Dick.

"And I," said Matt, picking up his satchel.

They left the room hurriedly. At the bottom of the stairs Matt handed
his grip to one of the porters.

"Carry that over to the Fruit Company's dock," said he. "Dick, you and
Carl go on. I'll square up with the proprietor and trail along after
you."

"Mind dot you don't get left," cautioned Carl.

"I've ten minutes," was the answer, "and I can get to the dock in half
that time."

Dick, Carl and the porter hastened off, and Matt turned back into the
office. He was only two or three minutes settling the bill, and as he
started for the hotel door he passed a telephone booth and an idea came
to him.

There could be no harm in calling up Mrs. Thomas' boarding-house in
Prytania Street, telling Townsend they were off and saying good-by. A
word of that kind with Townsend would prove reassuring.

The idea was no sooner conceived than it was carried out. But Matt was
destined to disappointment. He was informed by "central" that the wire
was busy, and, as it was already five minutes of ten, he had no time to
wait.

Throwing the receiver back on the hooks, he left the hotel and ran
toward the Fruit Company's dock. The warning bell of the _Santa Maria_
was ringing, and deck hands were preparing to haul in the gang plank as
he rushed across it.

"Py chiminy, aber dot vas some glose connections!" cried Carl, who,
with Dick, was waiting and watching for Matt.

"A miss is as good as a mile," Matt replied. "Have you seen Miss
Harris?"

"She's forward, matey," said Dick.

"We'll stow the luggage somewhere," went on Matt, "and then go forward
ourselves and see the boat get away."

The baggage was piled in the cabin, and when the three boys reappeared
and made their way toward the forward part of the main deck the _Santa
Maria_ was shivering from stem to stern under the impetus of her
powerful engines and drawing away from the dock and into the channel.

There were a dozen or more people on the dock waving hats and
handkerchiefs, while a dozen or more were clustered at the steamer's
rail returning the parting salutes.

"Dere iss nopody dere to vave goot-py ad us," remarked Carl, "not efen
Downsent!"

"We certainly couldn't expect Townsend, Carl," said Matt. "He has other
matters to occupy his mind, I suppose."

"I shouldn't think he'd be too busy to come down and see his niece off
on her voyage," put in Dick. "Still, as you say, mate, he may be----"

Dick suddenly broke off his words. His eyes had been roving over the
passengers along the rail.

"Sink me!" he exclaimed, dropping a quick hand on Matt's arm. "Look
over there--to the left."

Matt looked, and immediately experienced the same surprise that had
laid hold of his chum.

The burly form of Captain Sixty was in plain view, and at the captain's
elbow, and talking with him, was Miss Harris!



CHAPTER IV.

ACCIDENT OR DESIGN?


Motor Matt took Dick and Carl each by one arm and led them back into
the cabin.

"We'd better talk a little, pards," said Matt, with a worried look.

"Vat's der madder?" inquired Carl.

He had not seen Captain Sixty, not having been in the office of the
Snug Harbor Hotel at the time Dick and Matt had met Sixty and exchanged
telegrams with him.

"The big fellow," explained Matt, "is the one who got my telegram last
night. Why is he on this boat? That's the point that puzzles me."

"Maybe it's an accident, matey," returned Dick.

"Yes; and maybe it's design. I'd like to size this business up before
we get clear of the river. If we don't like the looks of things, we can
have the captain of the boat put us ashore."

"What's the trouble with the outlook, old ship?" queried Dick. "So
far as I'm concerned, it was a shot between wind and water when I saw
Sixty there at the rail; but I don't think that the fact of the old
hunks being aboard the steamer is anything to worry us. He probably has
business in Honduras as well as ourselves."

"I wish this boat was equipped with a wireless telegraph apparatus,"
muttered Matt. "There's a wireless station at Algiers, and we could
flash a message to Townsend."

"What would be the use? We've got his orders."

"I'd like to have the orders confirmed," said Matt grimly. "I tried to
get Townsend over the phone just before I left the hotel, but, as luck
would have it, the wire was busy."

"You've been taken all aback, same as though you'd been struck by a
white squall," muttered Dick perplexedly. "I don't think that old
flatfoot bucko ought to put you in such a taking, Matt."

"It wasn't Sixty alone that took me aback, Dick," answered Matt. "Miss
Harris had more to do with that than Sixty had."

"Dit you see der young laty, Matt?" asked Carl, brightening.

"I saw her, yes."

"You were expecting to see her," chimed in Dick. "You told us she was
intending to sail on the _Santa Maria_."

"When we talked at the hotel," went on Matt, "Miss Harris gave me to
understand that Townsend expected us to look after her during the trip
to Belize, and after we reached that town."

"Vell," remarked Carl, dusting his coat with his hand and adjusting
his necktie, "I guess ve can do dot as vell as anypody. You pedder
indrotuce Tick und me, Matt."

"I don't believe our services will be needed," said Matt dryly. "Miss
Harris was talking with Captain Sixty and seemed to be on familiar
terms with him."

This startled Dick and Carl. It was a good deal of a coincidence, even
if not alarming, to find Captain Sixty voyaging to Honduras on the
_Santa Maria_; but to find him on friendly terms with Townsend's niece
gave the captain's presence on the boat rather an odd look.

"All this," said Matt finally, "may be either the result of accident or
design. I think it would be well for us to find out as much as we can
before we get too far down the river."

"How'll you find out, mate?" queried Dick.

"By talking with the girl. Wait here for me. I'll go and have that talk
with her now."

As Matt started away, the girl herself suddenly entered the cabin, and
she was bringing Captain Sixty with her.

Matt halted and drew back to the side of his friends. The girl looked
toward the boys, smiled, said something to her companion, and hurried
him across the cabin.

"Hello, Motor Matt!" cried Miss Harris. "I was afraid you'd got left,
and was just telling Uncle Jim here that I didn't know what Uncle
Archie would say when he found you had not gone to Belize."

Uncle Jim! Miss Harris had called this Sixty person her Uncle Jim!
While Matt was puzzling over this, the girl had drawn close and was
introducing Captain Sixty.

"I'll be blowed, girl," bellowed Uncle Jim, "if I need any introduction
to Motor Matt. We've met before, eh, messmate? Hand us your fist till I
give it a friendly shake. Why, I hadn't the least idee you was mixed up
in this affair of Townsend's! Ain't it astonishin' how things fall out,
now and again?"

"I should say so," answered Matt. "This is your uncle, Miss Harris?" he
added to the girl.

"Why, yes, of course!" she laughed.

"His name ought to be Townsend, hadn't it?"

"Not at all. Uncle Archie is my father's brother, while Uncle Jim is my
mother's brother."

"Then your name ought to be Townsend instead of Harris."

"Ho, ho!" laughed Captain Sixty. "He's a keen one, girl, and no
mistake!"

"Of course he's a keen one, Uncle Jim," replied the girl, "or Uncle
Archie wouldn't have had him take a hand in this work. You see, Motor
Matt," and here she turned to the youth, "Uncle Archie Townsend's
real name is Harris, while my mother's maiden name was Sixty. So, you
see----"

"Softly, girl, softly," breathed Captain Sixty. "We don't want to talk
too much about our relatives in this public place. Walls have ears, you
know."

"I understand," said Matt. He had long known that Townsend, merely
to save himself annoyance from newspaper reporters and other curious
people, had one name ashore and another afloat, and used only his
right name when at home in Philadelphia and among his friends. "Let me
introduce both of you to my pards," Matt added, turning to Dick and
Carl.

Sixty was more than agreeable to Dick and Carl, and Carl, on his part,
tried to be more than agreeable to Miss Harris.

"Have we all got a part in this work of Mr. Townsend's?" asked Matt,
feeling somewhat relieved, although still a little surprised over the
way the matter had fallen out.

"Haven't you ever heard Uncle Archie speak of Captain Sixty?" inquired
Miss Harris.

"Never."

"I wouldn't wonder at that none, girl," said Captain Sixty. "It's been
some sort of a while, you know, since my course has crossed Townsend's;
and then, too, Townsend is close-mouthed, and he wouldn't be apt to say
anything about me when I've got such an important part to play in his
present business."

The captain lowered his voice and took another cautious look around
that part of the cabin.

"Was you boys told anythin' about the work?" he asked in a whisper.

Matt shook his head, and a glow of relief flashed for an instant from
Sixty's fishy eyes.

"From that, my lad," went on Sixty, "you can figure out how mighty
important is the work we're engaged in. I don't know much about it
myself. That telegram I got at the hotel last night has somethin' to
do with it, though blest if I know what. Cassidy came for it about
midnight; and next morning, along comes the girl, here, with a ticket
for Belize and orders to sail on the _Santa Maria_. Wished I'd have
known who you boys were last night. I'd have hobnobbed with you some
instead of bein' short-like as I was. No hard feelin's?"

"None at all," answered Matt.

"I used to be skipper of the brig _Dolphin_, a hooker as sailed from
any place to any place wherever there was a cargo to be picked up and
carried. That's how I got the name o' captain. I've had a master's
ticket, though, ever since I was twenty. Ysabel here"--Matt caught a
sharp look from the girl directed at Sixty--"which is my pet name for
Sadie," continued the captain, "had as fine a father as ever walked. He
married a Spanish lady in Belize, and that's how Sadie looks Spanish
and talks American. I'm rough and ready, I am, and ain't got no time
for these here parlor frills----"

"We'll have lots of time to talk, Uncle Jim," broke in the girl, "after
we get settled in our staterooms and while we're crossing the gulf.
Motor Matt and his friends, as well as ourselves, have got something
else to do just now besides stand around and gossip. I don't think we'd
better be seen talking together very much, anyhow."

"Right you are!" rumbled Captain Sixty. "See you again, messmates," and
he lurched away with Miss Harris alongside him.

"Ach," muttered Carl, "dot leedle girl vas a peach, I bed you.
Eferyt'ing iss all righdt, und ve all haf a finger in dot pie oof
Downsent's."

"Wish I could smoke Townsend's weather roll a bit better than I do,"
said Dick. "I haven't any confidence in that man Sixty. From the cut of
his jib, he's several kinds of a bear, bucko, bandicoot and crocodile.
If we could, I think we ought to give him a good offing."

"We can't do that, Dick," answered Matt, "if Townsend's business throws
us all together."

The boys fell into line at the purser's window, transacted their work
there, and then picked up their luggage and went to their staterooms.

Each stateroom accommodated two passengers. Matt and Dick had one room
to themselves, while Carl's room, which was next to theirs, would house
a stranger in addition to the Dutch boy.

While Matt and Dick were stowing their traps and making themselves as
comfortable as they could in their cramped quarters, Carl burst in on
them.

"Vat you t'ink?" demanded Carl, closing the door securely behind him
and dropping down on the lower berth.

"We're all ahoo and don't know what to think, matey," answered Dick,
giving the Dutch boy a slow sizing. "Why? Have you anything in
particular on your own mind?"

"I shouldt say! Dot Sixdy feller iss my roommate."

"You're welcome to him," said Dick. "I wouldn't take him for a roommate
on a bet."

Matt turned from the washbowl, where he had been removing some of the
grime from his hands, and reached for a towel.

"No accident about that," said he. "I'll bet Sixty fixed it up with the
purser."

"Why?" demanded Dick.

"I don't know why, but I've got a hunch that that's the way of it."
Matt finished with the towel, threw it back on the rack and sat down
in a chair. "There are a few things connected with this situation that
won't hold water. Listen, pards, and see if you don't agree with me."



CHAPTER V.

SIXTY SHOWS HIS HAND.


"We'll suppose," proceeded Matt, "that Townsend has brought us all
together on the _Santa Maria_ for some work or other that's to be done
in Belize. We'll suppose further that everything is all right and as it
should be, and that Townsend had a niece whom he never mentioned to us,
and a brother-in-law about whom he never said a word in all the time we
have been with him. But why should the niece and the brother-in-law try
to deceive us?"

"Der leedle girl vouldn't do dot, Matt," asserted Carl.

"I don't like to think that, Carl, any more than you do, but we're
going it blind and ought to consider carefully anything we hear."

"Right-o, matey," said Dick. "What have you heard that makes you think
the girl and her uncle are not dealing on the square with us?"

"Miss Harris said that her Uncle Archibald Townsend's real name is
Harris, and----"

"Dot might be, Matt, for ve know dot Downsent uses odder names schust
as he----"

"Wait a minute, Carl. Miss Harris also told us that her mother's maiden
name was Sixty, and that Captain Sixty was her mother's brother."

"Also that Townsend was her father's brother," chimed in Dick. "I don't
see anything wrong about that."

"Then," continued Matt, "Captain Sixty started to call Sadie Harris,
Ysabel, but tried to explain away the break when the girl looked
at him. The captain also said that Miss Harris' mother was of
Spanish origin, and whoever heard of Spaniard by the name of Sixty?
Furthermore, if the captain is a brother of Miss Harris' mother, then
the captain ought to be a Spaniard himself."

It was hard for Carl to follow this line of reasoning, although Matt
made it as clear as he could. Dick, however, grasped the point Matt had
brought up.

"Shiver me!" he exclaimed. "It's a wonder I didn't see that myself. The
old bucko stepped over his chalk mark, and the girl hustled him away
before he could say anything more. Great kedge anchors! What sort of a
deal are we in on, anyhow? The girl's yarn don't hold together, and it
was Sixty himself who let the cat out of the bag. What's to be done? We
could have the captain set us ashore, and then we could make our way
back to New Orleans and have a talk with Townsend."

"No, I don't think we'd better do that. After all, Dick, it may be that
Townsend has fixed this thing up, and that the girl and the captain are
talking according to instructions."

"Townsend never told them to pull the wool over our eyes, mate. He's
not that kind of a fellow."

"If it comes to that, he's not the kind of a chap, to my notion, to mix
up with a man like Sixty. Still, everything may be all right. The girl
knew that we were expecting word from Townsend; in fact, all her talk
and actions prove that she knows more about Townsend's plans than she
could possibly know if Townsend hadn't taken her into his confidence.
At least, that's the way I look at it. If we had the captain of the
_Santa Maria_ put us ashore we might be spoiling Townsend's plans. For
that reason I'm in favor of staying right where we are and waiting for
developments. But we can be careful, pards, and keep our eyes open. If
there is any crooked work on foot it will come to the surface in time."

"Aber ven id comes by der surface," spoke up Carl, with a good deal
more wisdom than he generally showed, "meppy id vill be too lade to
dodge drouple."

"If Miss Harris and Captain Sixty don't think we suspect anything
underhand," answered Matt, "the advantage will be with us."

"Sure," averred Dick. "We can keep our own counsel and have a sharp eye
to windward all the time."

"Oof Downsent vants us," continued Carl, "und oof dis ain'd vat he
vants us for, den, py shinks, ve vas spoiling his blans vorse as ve vas
by keeping on mit der poat."

"What's your idea, Dick?" asked Matt; "to keep on, or have the captain
put us ashore and go back?"

"Our course is laid, matey," responded Dick, "so let's hang to it."

"There's no escaping Honduras after we once strike the gulf."

"Then we'll go to Honduras. It's a bally layout, any way you look at
it, but the chances are that we're on the right tack."

"What have you to say, Carl?"

"I don'd t'ink der girl iss fooling us, und dot's all aboudt id. I say
mit Tick dot ve keep on like ve're going, mit our vedder eyes shkinned
bot' vays for preakers. Oof ve ged to Honturas, und Downsent don'd show
oop, den ve can send him some caplegrams und say vere ve vas, und vy.
Yah, ve hat pedder keep on."

"That's my idea. I can't see what motive any one would have for playing
double with us. What enemies have we in New Orleans? And, if we had any
there, why should they go to the trouble of buying tickets for us on
the _Santa Maria_ and sending us to Belize?"

"Right-o," agreed Dick. "We'll play a square game, and if any one
tries to run afoul of us with anything different, why, we'll bring 'em
up with a round turn. The outward trip to Honduras isn't costing us
anything, anyhow."

Having arrived at this decision the boys left their stateroom and went
down to their dinner.

The passenger business between New Orleans and Central America was not
extensive, and there were no more than twenty people seated around the
two tables in the dining room.

Matt and his friends found themselves at the captain's table, with
Sixty and Miss Harris directly opposite. Miss Harris greeted them
with one of her engaging smiles, and Sixty grinned and nodded his
bullet-like head. But there was no talk across the board, although Carl
was visibly eager for a little conversation with the girl.

Following the meal the boys strolled about the deck, hoping that either
Sixty or Miss Harris would come looking for them and engage in talk
which might either confirm their suspicions or else set them at rest.
But nothing of the sort happened.

"They're sheering off from us," commented Dick. "Probably that's in
accordance with Townsend's plan, too. I wish I knew what our work is to
be."

"I've puzzled my brain over it till I'm tired," said Matt. "We've been
a long while getting at the work, and while we've been waiting Townsend
hasn't dropped a hint about what it was. We're just as much in the dark
now as ever."

During the afternoon the _Santa Maria_ slipped through the lower end of
South Pass into the gulf, and began to roll and wallow in the heavier
swell.

Carl became indisposed. He declared that he wasn't seasick, but the
motion of the boat annoyed him. He made for his stateroom with the
announced intention of lying down and getting himself accustomed to
the pitch and tumble. Dick, in the hope of discovering the whereabouts
of Sixty and the girl, strolled forward. Matt was left alone on the
stretch of deck aft of the bridge. An awning sheltered him from the
sun, and the breeze that wafted itself across the broad reaches of the
gulf was grateful and refreshing.

All the other passengers who had been occupying deck chairs in that
part of the boat had gone away.

Matt, after half an hour's wait for Dick to return, got up with the
idea of looking for him. As he passed a casual glance over the foamy
trail left by the _Santa Maria_, his keen eye detected something
appearing and disappearing in the tumbling waves that captured his
immediate attention.

The object glistened in the rays of the afternoon sun and looked like
a reddish ball. Sometimes he could see it quite plainly for a few
moments, rolling and tumbling in the waters, and then a large wave
would sweep past and blot it from his sight.

The ball seemed to be following the ship, maintaining at all times the
same distance.

Was it some kind of a fish? Matt asked himself. If it was, then it was
a variety of fish of which he had never heard or read.

He looked around to see if there were any of the officers or deck hands
in his vicinity, but there were none, and he was obliged to watch and
wrestle with his curiosity.

It might be a piece of wreckage, he told himself; yet, if it was, what
kept it in the wake of the _Santa Maria_?

He continued to hang over the rail and watch the queer red object,
waiting for some of the ship's officers or men to come to that part of
the boat.

Presently he heard a muffled footfall close behind him. He turned his
head and saw Captain Sixty at his side. Beyond Sixty, and gliding
hastily in his direction, was Miss Harris.

There was a question on Matt's lips, but it died away quickly when the
youth saw the diabolical expression on Captain Sixty's face.

"Here's where you go over!" said Sixty hoarsely.

Then, before Motor Matt could make a move to defend himself, the burly
scoundrel seized him in a grip of iron, lifted him bodily and flung him
from the rail.

A loud cry escaped Matt's lips. It was taken up by a shrill scream from
the girl, and, the next moment, by a hoarse shout from the treacherous
Sixty.

"Man overboard! Man overboard!"

As Matt dropped into the lashing waves that frantic yell of Sixty's
smote on his ears. Even in that perilous moment the reason for the
scoundrel's alarm flashed through his brain. Matt's yell and the girl's
scream had aroused the officers and crew, and there was nothing else
for Sixty to do but to give his alarm and hope that the speed of the
ship would take her so far away from Matt that rescue would not be
possible.

The first officer was on the bridge. Turning a look rearward he saw a
dark object in the smother of foam, far astern, clinging to one of the
ship's life-preservers.

It was the girl who had wrenched the life-preserver from the rail and
flung it after Matt. She had succeeded in this before Sixty could reach
her side and prevent the act.

Bells jingled in the engine room and the _Santa Maria_ lessened speed
quickly. Dick and Carl, hearing the loud yell of Captain Sixty, and the
bustle on the deck, joined the other passengers who were hurrying from
the cabin.

"Who was it?" cried Dick.

"Your friend, Motor Matt," answered Sixty, who was close to Dick and
Carl.

Miss Harris, white as death and half fainting, was leaning against the
deck-house. Sixty had his eyes on her, and their baleful influence held
her silent.

"He was watching something astern," explained Sixty, "and went over the
rail. I tried to get to him, but he slipped away from me."

"Matt!" whooped Carl, in a spasm of fear and apprehension. "It was our
bard dot tumpled oferpoard!"

Dick rushed for the boat which the sailors, under an officer's
direction, were getting ready to lower.

"We're going along!" shouted Dick wildly.

"Keep away!" ordered the officer.

"I'm a sailor," answered Dick, "and I can help! Motor Matt's my mate,
and I'm going to help save him!"

Without waiting for permission, both Dick and Carl sprang into the
boat. There was no time to lose making the boys get back on the deck,
or arguing the question, and the officer yielded his place to Dick.

"Lower away!" he shouted, and the blocks rattled as the boat dropped
from the davits.



CHAPTER VI.

AN UNEXPECTED RESCUE.


Sixty's unprovoked and murderous attack on Matt had been made with such
brutal suddenness that the king of the motor boys had had no chance
to defend himself. Before he fairly realized what had happened he was
under the water and fighting his way upward to the surface. Had he not
been such a good swimmer the weight of his clothing would have dragged
him down and rendered his case hopeless. He was seriously handicapped,
as it was, and when he gained the top of the water he was thankful to
find a life-preserver bobbing and ducking beside him.

How the life-preserver happened to be there he did not know, but he
seized hold of it gratefully and allowed it to support him in the
tumbling waves. By that time the _Santa Maria_ was far in the distance,
but there was a commotion on her decks which indicated that the cry of
"Man overboard!" was receiving a prompt response. The sharp orders of
the officer of the deck, the cries of excited passengers, and even the
jingle of the engine-room bell came distinctly to the ears of the youth
in the water.

Matt, although still bewildered, congratulated himself on escaping the
swiftly-revolving screw. He had been thrown from the ship near the
stern, and it was a piece of luck that the suction had not drawn him
under the sharp propeller-blades.

Buffeted by the waves, Matt swung back and forth in the water and
watched while the boat was lowered. Dick and Carl were in the boat, and
there were two sailors at the oars. Dick, at the bow, was coiling a
piece of rope in his hands, making ready for a cast as soon as the boat
should come near enough.

Matt, his eyes fastened on the boat, gave no attention to the expanse
of water in the other direction. Suddenly he heard a cry, coming from
behind him, and turned his head. His amazement was complete when he saw
a submarine rolling amid the waves. The mystery of the glistening red
speck which had claimed his attention from the steamer was explained.
It was the round periscope ball of the _Grampus_!

Some one--Matt could not see distinctly, for the spindrift was in his
eyes--was half out of the conning tower of the submarine.

"Come aboard of us, Matt!" shouted the man, whirling a rope about his
head and letting it fly.

The youth's ears were filled with the _poppety-pop_ of the submarine's
motor, but he heard the request. He could only guess how the submarine
happened to be there, and guesses were useless, for he would soon be
told everything about the queer situation.

Motor Matt grabbed at the rope as it was thrown to him by the man in
the submarine.

As he hauled himself toward the _Grampus_, hand over hand, he saw that
the man in the conning tower was Townsend, or Captain Nemo, Jr., as he
preferred to be called when afloat.

Presently the young motorist was hauling himself up on the slippery
deck of the submarine.

"Are you all right, Matt?" cried Captain Nemo, Jr.

"All right, captain," answered Matt, "except that I'm as wet as a
drowned rat and can hardly understand why I was thrown from the
steamer."

"You were thrown overboard?" demanded the captain.

"Yes; by your man, Sixty."

"_My_ man? I don't understand you. But we'll let that go for now. Dick
and Carl are in that boat yonder. Shall we take them aboard?"

"I'd like to, sir, but we have some luggage on the _Santa Maria_ and
the boys had better go back after it."

"Tell them to get the luggage and that we'll stand by to take them
off." Nemo, Jr., threw a hasty look around at the sky, which was
rapidly becoming overcast. "Ask them to hurry," he added, "for we'll be
in for dirty weather before long and we must get them on the _Grampus_
before the storm comes down on us."

The rowboat by then had drawn as close to the submarine as safety would
permit. The two sailors were lying on their oars and gazing at the
craft in astonishment, while the rail of the steamer was crowded with
passengers and crew, all staring at the strange scene going forward
there in the waters of the gulf.

"Ahoy, Dick!" shouted Matt.

"Ahoy, yourself, old ship!" roared Dick. "That's the _Grampus_, I take
it?"

"Yes. Captain Nemo, Jr., is going to take you and Carl aboard. Go back
to the _Santa Maria_ and get our traps. Be quick about it, for the
weather is threatening."

"Ay, ay," cried Dick heartily, "and it's glad I am to leave the old
hooker."

Dick dropped down in the boat and the sailors fell-to on the oars.

"Come inside, Matt," called Captain Nemo, Jr. "I'll get out of the way
and make room for you."

The captain disappeared downward, and Matt climbed over the rim of the
conning tower and quickly descended the iron ladder.

In a square chamber called the periscope room, at the foot of the
ladder, Matt found the captain and Cassidy waiting for him. Each
grasped his hand. There was only a moment for congratulations.

"Up into the tower with you, Cassidy," called the captain, "and keep
watch for Dick and Carl. We're going to take them on as soon as they
pick up their belongings."

"Ay, ay, sir," answered Cassidy, "I heard your talk with Matt, and
Matt's talk with the fellows in the boat."

Cassidy disappeared up the ladder and Matt dropped down on a locker and
began pulling off his water-logged shoes.

"I've got a dry suit in my grip," said he, "and when the boys get here
I'll slide into a more comfortable rig."

"And Sixty threw you overboard!" muttered Nemo, Jr., a black frown
crossing his face. "The murderous scoundrel! I have long known him as a
desperate man, but I would hardly have believed him capable of such a
move as that! What was his reason?"

"That's more than I know."

"You mean to say that you don't know what his motive was for attempting
such a high-handed piece of work?"

"That's exactly what I mean, captain."

"Did any one see him?"

"Only his niece--and yours."

Captain Nemo, Jr.'s, amazement increased.

"_My_ niece?" he echoed. "I have no niece."

"Is your real name Harris, Captain?"

"No, certainly not."

"And Sixty isn't your brother-in-law?"

The captain flung up his hands.

"I should hope not! Where did you get all this queer misinformation?"

"From the girl who called herself Sadie Harris, and who said she was a
niece of yours."

"You and your friends have been badly fooled, Matt," said the captain.
"We must probe to the bottom of this and----"

Just at that moment the _Grampus_ gave a wild roll, nearly upsetting
Captain Nemo, Jr., and almost throwing Matt from the locker. A bucket
of water came sloshing down the conning-tower hatch.

"The squall's hit us!" roared Cassidy. "The weather's so thick with
rain and flying scud I can't see the steamer."

"Did the boys get aboard?"

"Yes, and they've had time to get back into the whaleboat again, but
there's been some sort of a hitch."

The _Grampus_ was rolling and wallowing frightfully, and it seemed at
times as though she must surely turn turtle. The slap of waves on her
steel sides and against the conning tower caused a thunderous noise to
echo through the boat.

"Close the hatch, and come down, Cassidy!" shouted the captain.
"We'll have to submerge her, and try to pick up the steamer with the
periscope."

Cassidy could be heard clamping down the hatch. While he was coming
down the ladder, the captain turned to one of the speaking tubes that
entered the periscope room.

"Let the water into the ballast tanks, Clackett!" he called. "A
ten-foot submergence. Slow speed ahead, Gaines," he added through
another tube. "Keep her south by west, Cassidy," said he to the mate.

"South by west it is, sir," answered Cassidy, posing himself by a small
binnacle and laying hands on a steering wheel.

From a distance Matt heard the old familiar rhythm of the gasoline
cylinders. There was a splashing as water poured into the ballast
tanks, followed by a very perceptible sinking motion. The frightful
wallowing and pitching ceased to a great extent, and the _Grampus_ hung
on a fairly even keel.

"Ten feet of submergence, cap'n!" came from a speaking tube so
distinctly that it almost seemed as though the speaker was in the
periscope room.

"Very good, Clackett," replied the captain. "Hold her so. Now, Matt,"
the captain went on, "we'll see what the periscope has to show us."

The hollow steel mast of the periscope, contrived with powerful
reflectors, terminated in a hood that swung above a table.

Captain Nemo, Jr., pushed aside a fold of the hood and he and Matt
looked down on the highly-polished mirror that formed the top of the
table.

A stormy scene lay under their eyes. Their horizon was narrowed to only
a few yards by rain and spray, but within this brief radius they got a
sight of raging waves and a fierce tumult of waters. Now and again the
scene was blotted out for a moment as the periscope ball was drenched
by a comber.

"We can't take the boys off now, captain," said Matt.

"It would be impossible in this sea," answered the captain. "I was not
looking for the squall to hit us so soon. We'll try and follow the
_Santa Maria_, however, and take them off later."

"How can you follow her when you can't see her?"

"We know her track, and we'll follow her by compass."

The wild roaring of wind and sea came to those in the _Grampus_ like a
dull murmur, and the submarine's rocking, at a ten-foot submergence,
was proof of the power the elements must be showing on the surface.

Both Matt and the captain kept their eyes constantly on the table top,
then, abruptly, Matt gave a gasp and caught at the table to support
himself.

"Look!" he cried. "Captain--the boat----"

But Captain Nemo, Jr.'s, startled eyes had already seen what Matt had
beheld. This was a whaleboat tossed wildly on the crest of a huge wave
adrift, and with Carl and Dick clinging desperately to the oars.

Only Matt's two chums were in the boat. The captain whirled to one of
the tubes.

"Turbines at work, Clackett!" he shouted; "quick, on your life. Empty
the tanks and get us back to the surface! Reverse your engine, Gaines,"
he added through another tube.

Matt, still clinging to the table, stared down on its polished top. The
drifting whaleboat, with his two chums, had vanished as quickly as it
had appeared.



CHAPTER VII.

A FRUITLESS SEARCH.


"That boat was adrift!" cried Matt, as soon as he could find his tongue.

"Yes," answered the captain in a tense voice, "and only Dick and Carl
were aboard of her."

"How could that have happened?"

"When the boys got back to the ship, the boat must have been left at
the steamer's side while the luggage was being secured. The boys had
time to get down into the boat, and before the sailors could follow the
squall came rushing down and tore the boat away from the _Santa Maria_.
Hard luck, Matt! Still, the case isn't hopeless by any manner of means.
The whaleboat has an air chamber at each end and can't be sunk. If the
boys can stay in her, and keep her right side up, we'll be able to
rescue them."

The fierce pitching and plunging of the submarine told Matt that she
was again battling with the elements on the surface. A look into the
periscope also laid bare the heaving and churning waters within a
narrow zone of observation, but nowhere could the whaleboat be seen.

"Follow the wind, cap'n," said Cassidy. "By doin' that we ought to be
able to find the boat."

"That's my intention, Cassidy," returned the captain. "Take the
waist-tarp and go up into the conning tower. Carry a rope with you, and
be ready to throw it the moment we sight the boat."

"Let me go, captain!" requested Matt. "I'm already as wet as I can
possibly be, and I should like to do my part."

"Very well, Matt," replied the captain. "Put the tarp around him,
Cassidy."

Cassidy lifted the lid of the locker and took a circular oilskin from
inside. There was a round hole in the centre of the oilskin, and around
the outside edge were eyelets.

The mate pulled the tarp over Matt's head and tied it about his waist.

"There's a ring of hooks around the rim of the tower, Matt," he
explained, "and by fitting the edge of the tarp over them you'll keep
us from being drowned out down here."

"I understand," answered Matt.

That was not his first voyage in the _Grampus_, and he was fairly
familiar with the boat's equipment.

When he was ready, Cassidy handed him the coil of wet rope recently
used by the captain to get Matt aboard.

"When you get tired, Matt," said the captain, "come down and Cassidy
will relieve you."

"I hope we'll find the boys before then," answered Matt hopefully.
"They were drifting, and if we go with the wind we ought to overhaul
them."

"We'll keep track of operations through the periscope and do all we can
to lay you alongside the boat if we sight her."

Matt climbed the ladder, pushed back the lever that held the air-tight
hatch in place, and threw over the cover just in time to get a barrel
of water over his head and shoulders.

Quickly as he could he pushed on until his body, from the waist upward,
was over the top of the conning tower. Then, with deft fingers, he made
the circular tarp fast along the edge of the hatch. A minute more, when
he had leisure to look around over the riotous waters, the novelty of
his position caused his pulses to leap.

Forward and aft the water creamed over the steel deck of the _Grampus_,
hiding the hull and leaving only the upper part of the conning tower
and the steel periscope mast exposed. It seemed to Matt as though
he was afloat in nothing more substantial than a barrel, with the
clamoring, rushing waves all around him.

Forward, backward and sideways the submarine rolled through a terrific
arc, and an occasional wave charged over him, leaving his dripping hair
tumbled about his eyes.

For a brief space only did the awful spectacle claim his attention, and
then he turned his eyes over the roaring waves in an attempt to locate
the whaleboat. The _Grampus_ was now racing with the wind, and the
stinging lines of rain struck against the young motorist's back. Again
and again he brushed the water from his eyes and continued to peer
eagerly ahead.

But his heart was steadily sinking. Dick was a sailor, but what skill
could keep the whaleboat right side up in such a tempest? The waves
drove past the _Grampus_ at racehorse speed, flinging their foamy arms
high in the air. Matt shouted at the top of his lungs, but his voice
was puny and ineffective. The gale caught it, feathered it out into a
thousand wisps of sound and scattered it into the roar and crash of the
waves.

From below him came the notes of a Gabriel horn, but these were little
more effective than Matt's voice had been. The minutes passed, and
Matt's hopes declined steadily. After a time, he knew not how long, he
felt a hand tugging at his feet. Quickly unhooking the edges of the
tarp, he descended.

"You've been up there an hour, Matt," said Captain Nemo, Jr., "and
Cassidy will relieve you."

"I don't think there's much hope," returned Matt heavily, removing the
waist-tarp and handing it to the mate. "I don't see how Dick and Carl
could possibly stay in the boat in such a frightful sea."

"We never can tell what we're able to do in this world," said the
captain hopefully, "until we're called upon to put forth our best
powers. Dick is a cool one, and he knows the sea. If any one could pull
through that storm and bring Carl along with him, it's Dick Ferral. We
may not find them while the gale is on, but afterward we can cruise
about and perhaps be able to pick them up. That is my hope, at all
events."

Cassidy, rope in hand, was already on his way up the ladder. When he
had taken up his position, the captain turned to Matt.

"That locker is our slop chest," said he, "and in it you will find
some dry clothes. Better make a change, Matt, and be as comfortable as
possible."

This was good advice, and Matt proceeded to carry it out.

"I had thought of taking Cassidy's place again in an hour," he observed.

"No use," was the answer. "If we don't sight the boat within an hour,
then the chances are that we have gone wide of her--perhaps left her
behind. We'll sink into quieter waters and come up again when the storm
has abated. Then we'll cruise around and do everything possible to
locate Dick and Carl."

The captain drew up a chair and braced himself at the periscope table.

At the end of an hour night had fallen, closed in with the Stygian
gloom of the clouds and tempest. From that on the periscope was
useless, and even a lookout from the top of the conning tower was of no
avail.

Cassidy descended, closing the hatch behind him. His face was long and
ominous.

"This ends it till mornin', cap'n," said he.

"Exactly so, Cassidy," replied the captain; "but the case isn't
hopeless, by any means." He whirled to a speaking tube. "Fill the
tanks, Clackett," he ordered, "and descend to twenty yards. Shut off
your engine, Gaines," he added through another tube; "we'll pass the
night where we are, sixty feet down."

The orders were repeated back, and the _Grampus_ began to sink. When
the periscope ball was submerged an automatic valve closed the hollow
mast against an inrush of water.

Down and down they went, slipping noiselessly into great depths.
Cassidy turned on a light from the storage batteries and an
incandescent bulb flooded the periscope room.

Climbing the ladder into the conning tower, Matt stole a look through
the lunettes. To see under water, contrary to the usual fiction on the
subject, is impossible. Only a sombre void met Matt's eyes. By means of
electric light and powerful reflectors Captain Nemo, Jr., could throw a
gleam several yards through the lunettes; but this was a drain on the
storage batteries, and for use only in case of emergency.

At sixty feet down the _Grampus_ lay as easily under the enormous water
pressure as a man in a hammock. At the captain's suggestion, Matt
stretched himself out on a blanket on the floor of the periscope room
and, in spite of his worry, was soon asleep.

When he was aroused by Cassidy a gleam of day was shining down the
conning-tower hatch.

"Speake is getting breakfast, Matt," said Cassidy, "and we're up at the
surface again. The storm is over, and the cap'n is on deck, calling for
you. Better go up."

Matt jumped to his feet and raced up the ladder. The sea was still a
bit rough, although part of the submarine's deck was high and dry.
Captain Nemo, Jr., was on the deck, clinging to one of the wire guys
that supported the periscope mast.

"Do you see anything of the whaleboat, captain?" were Matt's first
words.

"Not a sign," answered the captain, handing Matt a pair of binoculars.
"Take a look for yourself."

Bracing himself in the top of the tower Matt swept the glasses over the
vast expanse of sunlit, heaving water.

There was nothing to be seen. From horizon to horizon the gulf held
only the dancing, gleaming waves.



CHAPTER VIII.

THE OVERTURNED BOAT.


Matt's heaviness of spirit was reflected in his face.

"Don't be discouraged," said the captain. "We'll cruise around in this
part of the gulf and I feel pretty sure we'll find your friends. It
would have been difficult to locate them during the storm, and the
_Grampus_ might have passed within a cable's length of the whaleboat
without seeing it or being seen; but, on a day like this, we've got the
range of the ocean for miles, and the whaleboat can't get away from us!"

"Providing it's afloat," replied Matt apprehensively.

"Breakfast!" yelled Cassidy from the periscope room.

"That means us," said Captain Nemo, Jr.

The present complement of the submarine consisted of the captain, mate
and three men. The duties of the captain and mate kept them constantly
in the periscope room and conning tower. Gaines had charge of the
hundred and twenty horse-power gasoline motor, Clackett looked after
the trimming tanks, and Speake was general utility, taking care of the
electric supply and compressed air and preparing the meals. Each had
his particular station, and when the boat was running the officers
rarely saw any of the crew.

Gaines' room was aft, Clackett's was nearer the waist of the boat, and
Speake was forward in the torpedo room.

There being no use for the torpedo room during peaceable cruising, it
was transformed into a galley, and here Speake prepared the meals on an
electric range.

During breakfast Speake relieved Gaines at the motor, and Cassidy took
the lookout. Gaines, Clackett, Captain Nemo, Jr., and Matt crowded into
the little messroom, dropped down on low stools and drank their hot
coffee and ate their crackers and boiled eggs.

When Matt and the captain had finished they went up and relieved
Cassidy and sent him down. Matt seated himself on the deck at the base
of the conning tower, the captain taking the elevated position in the
top of the tower.

"While I'm using the glasses, and you're using your eyes, Matt," said
the captain, "we might as well talk and try to understand the causes
that brought you and your chums into this situation. I was curious on
that point last night, but didn't want to bother you when you were so
tired and worried."

"If you were surprised to see me, captain," returned Matt, "you can
imagine how astounded I was to find you and the _Grampus_."

"The wind was taken out of my sails completely when I learned that you
and your friends had sailed on the _Santa Maria_."

"Then you didn't send us three tickets and ask us to sail on the
steamer for British Honduras?"

"Certainly not! That was part of the plan for getting you away. Sixty
must have laid the plan and trusted to his daughter to carry it out."

"His daughter?"

"Yes. She was the girl who called on you at the hotel shortly before
the steamer sailed--Ysabel Sixty. Captain Sixty married a Spanish woman
in Cuba, and the girl was their only child."

"She used pretty good English when she talked with me."

"That's because she has passed most of her life in the United States,
while her father has been engaged in questionable work all over the
high seas."

"She said she was your niece, that her mamma was Sadie Harris, and that
she had come to New Orleans as soon as she heard that you were sick."

The captain smiled grimly.

"Sixty told her what to say," he answered.

"But," and Matt's surprise took another tack, "how do you happen to
know that she called on me at the hotel?"

"Clackett found that out. I sent him to the hotel to ask you and your
chums to come to Stuyvesant Dock and board the _Grampus_. Cassidy was
to bring the submarine down from Westwego. But let's begin at the
beginning and get at this thing with some sort of system."

Matt led off with an account of the mixed messages, following this
with a description of the girl and of what had transpired during their
interview, and then finishing with what had taken place on the steamer.

The captain, although he kept the binoculars sweeping the sea, was
absorbed in the recital.

"What name was signed to that message that fell into your hands by
mistake?" he asked.

"I didn't pay any attention to the name," Matt replied. "I read the
message to make sure it wasn't for me, but I didn't read the signature."

"What was the message?"

"It merely gave a position by latitude and longitude with the added
words, 'two days ago--no wind and no drift since.'"

The captain showed signs of suppressed excitement.

"What was the latitude and longitude?" he asked. "Can you remember it?"

"No," said Matt. "I knew it did not concern me, so I failed to charge
my mind with it."

"It concerned you more than you know. I am positive that Sixty lured
you aboard the steamer because he feared you had learned something from
the telegram which you could use to his disadvantage. What was your
message--the one that Sixty got and read?"

"It was from a man who didn't know our air ship had been wrecked and
destroyed. He wanted to buy her, and referred us to you, saying that he
knew you."

"My name was mentioned in the telegram?"

"The name of Townsend was mentioned."

"Ah! The cause of Sixty's work is becoming clearer and clearer. He knew
I was a friend of yours, that the government had asked me to watch him,
and that you had had a chance to secure some important information from
the telegram. It was enough to make a man like Sixty try something
desperate!"

"You were watching him?" queried Matt, "and for the government?"

"Yes. Sixty has been a trader in the South Seas, but lately he has
caused the government to suspect him of an attempt to smuggle arms and
ammunition to Central America to help out some revolutionists there.
His brig, the _Dolphin_, cleared from New Orleans a few weeks ago,
having dropped in at that port from across the ocean, and has since
mysteriously vanished. It has been something like a week since Sixty
showed up in New Orleans again. The government had communicated with me
before I came to the South, asking me to locate the _Dolphin_, follow
her and see what she was up to. If I couldn't find the brig I was to
follow Sixty. That was the business on which I wanted your aid, but I
couldn't tell you anything about it until the time came for us to act.
You see, I didn't want Sixty to think that he was being watched. When
Clackett, who was shadowing Sixty, brought me word that he had just
seen him leaving New Orleans on the _Santa Maria_, I immediately made
preparations to follow the steamer; and I was more anxious than ever to
trail her when Clackett reported that you and your friends, as well as
Sixty, were on the boat. I knew, at once, that there was some crooked
work afoot.

"We gained on the steamer in the river, and came within sight of her
two or three hours after she had reached the gulf. We submerged the
_Grampus_ until the periscope ball was just awash and trailed along in
her wake. On the periscope table I saw some one drop overboard, and we
immediately emptied our ballast tanks and came to the surface. I was
surprised enough when I found that it was you who was in the water,
Matt. We were too far away to see Sixty throw you over the rail. The
truth of the matter is, Sixty is afraid of you--afraid you would tell
me what was contained in that telegram. The bearings set forth by that
latitude and longitude must have been mighty important!"

"Your work for the government," commented Matt, "in spite of the way
you guarded it, must have become known to Sixty."

"Yes; but he did not learn it through me. Some one in Washington must
have kept him informed."

"The girl also seemed to have a pretty good knowledge of the fact that
I was going to help you."

"Sixty may have inferred that, and if the girl talked guardedly with
you she might still further have developed the point."

"That's exactly what she did!" exclaimed Matt, with sudden divination.
"I can see now that she was playing a part all the time. I don't think
she liked the work, but that she was forced to do it by her father."

"Sixty's a rough old webfoot, and when his unscrupulous mind counsels a
course he's not at all particular as to the ways and means by which he
keeps to it."

"How would throwing me overboard help him any?"

"If he had put you out of the way, you wouldn't have been able to use
the knowledge you had acquired from that telegram."

"But there was Dick and Carl. They knew about the message as well as I
did."

"Then Sixty would have taken care of them, too."

"What a murderous scoundrel he is!" muttered Matt with a shudder.

"He's all of that and----"

The words died on the captain's lips and, for a moment, he held the
glasses rigidly on some object at a distance.

"What is it, captain?" cried Matt, leaping up and straining his eyes,
but without being able to see anything.

"Perhaps nothing," answered Nemo, Jr., "I can't tell. But we'll give it
the benefit of the doubt and go over that way."

Dropping a hand at his side he pressed a push button which had a
wire communicating with the engine room. The signal he gave sent the
_Grampus_ on another tack. As she rushed onward the object that had
claimed the captain's attention grew slowly on Matt's eyes.

It was an overturned whaleboat, and on one side, in black letters, was
the name "_Santa Maria_."

Matt staggered, and laid hold of the rim of the conning tower for
support.

What if his chums had lost their lives through that despicable work of
Captain Sixty's?



CHAPTER IX.

ADRIFT IN THE STORM.


Dick and Carl were dumfounded at sight of the _Grampus_ appearing
suddenly amid the waves and with Captain Nemo, Jr., in the conning
tower heaving a rope at Matt. Their surprise wore away swiftly and
delight took its place. Matt was saved, and they were soon to join him
on the submarine.

"Hoop-a-la!" carolled the Dutch boy as the whaleboat put back to the
steamer. "I peen gladder as I can dell dot ve're going to leaf dot
_Sanda Maria_. I vould like to ged pedder acquaindet mit Miss Harris, I
bed you, aber I dradder got mit der _Grambus_."

"That there's the craft we heerd about on the waterfront in New
Orleans," said one of the sailors.

"Easy enough," said the other over his oar, "but how does she chance to
be bobbin' in our wake? Looks like she was a-follerin' us."

There were many excited questions from the passengers as the boat was
held alongside by one of the davit ropes and a sea ladder was dropped
over. Sixty and his daughter, alone of all those aboard, showed little
interest in the submarine.

The sailors in the boat called out to the officer on the deck that Dick
and Carl were to be returned to the submarine, and the officer, with a
look at the threatening sky, grumbled at the delay.

"One of the lads is enough to get their luggage," he called down. "You
shell-backs come up here and tell me all about it."

The slap of the waves and the noise made by the rising wind rendered
talking difficult. Carl went for the luggage, the sailors climbed to
the deck, and Dick remained in the boat to keep her fended from the
steamer's side with an oar.

While Carl was in the stateroom collecting the traps the officer hung
over the rail with others of the crew and some of the passengers,
studying the sky and apparently in doubt as to whether he should let
the boat put back to the submarine.

Presently he went away, and before he got back Carl had appeared and
begun tossing the luggage, piece by piece, into the bobbing whaleboat.
Dick deftly caught and stowed the traps as they came down to him.

"Vy don'd you ged indo der poat?" asked Carl, of the two sailors, who
were standing near.

"The fust orficer told us ter wait," replied one.

"Vy iss dot?"

"I don't think he reckons it's safe to go back ter the submarine."

"Ach, du lieber!" grunted Carl disgustedly. "Der itee oof sailormans
being afraidt oof a leedle bit oof a vind! I peen a lubber meinseluf,
aber I don'd vas afraidt!"

With that he lowered himself onto the shaking sea ladder and started
downward. When Carl stepped off the ladder he came within one of
stepping into the sea. Dick grabbed him, however, and heaved him over
the gunwale and to a midship thwart by main force.

"Hi, there!" shouted the officer, coming back and leaning over the
rail. "You can't go--it's not safe. We're going to catch it good and
plenty in a minute."

"Bosh!" shouted Dick. "We can make it all right if you hurry."

Although Dick spoke confidently, for he was eager to join Matt on the
_Grampus_ even if it was necessary to take a chance or two, yet his
practiced eye told him that fierce weather was imminent.

"Hook on the falls!" roared the officer. "Quick on it, or----"

At that moment, with a terrific shriek and a wild splash and splatter,
the squall broke. The whaleboat was under the lee of the steamer, but
the larger vessel shifted her position so that the heavy wind caught
the whaleboat and jerked her away. The fastenings parted, and in a
twinkling the boat had shot off from the steamer on the crest of a huge
wave. A mist of rain and spindrift closed in between and the _Santa
Maria_ was shut out from the boys' view.

"The oars!" yelled Dick, floundering to a thwart and shipping the oar
with which he had been keeping the boat from the steamer's side.

The boat was prancing like a festive broncho, now standing almost
straight up in the air, and now dropping with dizzy abruptness, rolling
at a hair-raising angle and shipping buckets of water. Carl had been
having his hands full keeping himself from going overboard, but he
managed to brace his feet and get busy with one of the oars.

Under Dick's direction the boat was brought with the wind and steadied.

"Led's ged on der supmarine!" yelled Carl.

"No use trying that," Dick shouted over his shoulder.

"Den, py shinks, led's ged pack on der shdeamer! I don'd like dis
popping around ofer der ocean. I feel like I was in some shoot der
chutes."

"Can't do that, either. We've got to do our best to keep afloat--and
that's going to be hard enough. Strike me lucky, but fate has played it
low down on us."

"Meppy der shdeamer vill come afder us."

"Don't you ever think it! They'd rather lose the whaleboat than hunt
for us in this weather. Anyhow, they'd stand about as much chance of
finding us as they would of locating a needle in a haystack. We're
in for it, mate. Take a piece of that rope and lash yourself to the
thwart."

Dick hauled in a trailing line and slashed off a section with his
sheath knife. It was difficult hanging on to an oar with one hand while
they used the other to tie themselves, but they managed to accomplish
the feat.

"Subbose der poat sinks?" howled Carl. "Den ve vas tied und ve sink mit
her."

"She can't sink! There's an air chamber in each end."

"Vat oof she shouldt durn over mit herseluf?"

"We've got to keep her from doing that."

"Ach, himmelblitzen! Dis iss der vorst fix vat I was afer in. Der landt
iss goot enough for me. Der more vat I see of der ocean, der more vat
I like der solid eart'. Now, oof ve----"

Carl, at that moment, was deluged by a wave. He strangled, coughed and
spluttered, and if he had not been bound to the thwart would surely
have gone by the board.

"Let me have your oar," roared Dick. "Take your cap, and bale!"

"How I vas going to dip all der gulf oudt oof dis poat mit my cap?"
answered Carl. "I mighdt shust as vell drow der Mississippi Rifer ofer
New Orleans mit a t'imble."

"Bale, I tell you!" whooped Dick, grabbing the oar away from Carl and
shipping it opposite his own position.

Carl dipped frantically into the water, but his efforts were of little
avail.

"I'll have to make a sea anchor," announced Dick.

"How you make dot? You vould haf to haf a placksmith shop, und----"

"Take the oars."

Dick swung the oars back and Carl laid hold of them. There was a mast
and a furled sail in the bottom of the boat. With infinite difficulty,
Dick got the mast over the side and made it fast to the stern by twenty
feet of cable.

This weight, dragging behind, served to steady the lightly-weighted
boat and rendered it easier for the boys to keep her clear of the
swamping waves.

After that, Dick again took the oars and Carl continued his baling with
more success.

"Id vas gedding vorse insteadt oof pedder," cried Carl, "der gale, I
mean."

"That's a fact, matey," answered Dick, "but we're making better weather
of it."

"Oof ve keep der poat on dop oof der vater ondil der shtorm iss ofer,
ve vill be like some shipwrecked fellers und vill shdarve to deat'."

"We'll not starve to death. We can put up the sail and get to the
nearest land. We're not such a long way from land, Carl, and this gale
is blowing us toward the southern part of Florida."

"Oof ve hit Florida too kevick, den ve ged pusted oop."

"It will be a day or two before we get there."

"Vat ve eat in der meandime?"

"If you thought more of your life and less of your stomach, mate, you'd
be better off."

"Vone means der odder. Und vat ve going to do for some vater to trink?
Der ocean iss full mit salt."

"There's always a breaker of fresh water aboard these boats on the
steamers."

"Den you t'ink, Tick, dere iss some shances for us?"

"Sure, I do! We're doing finely now!"

"Ach, finely! Mit der vater coming down from oferheadt, und oop from
pelow, und der vind almost plowing us oudt oof der poat. Yah, ve vas in
pooty fine shape, I bed you!"

Night fell, a hideous night, black as Erebus, with howling waves
below and shrieking tempest overhead. The boys, nearly dropping from
exhaustion, did their feeble best with the oars. They had no time for
talk, and needed all their strength for their trying labor.

Minutes dragged like hours, and hours seemed like eternity.

How long a time passed, neither of the boys had any idea. All they
could do was to work blindly and doggedly on and trust to luck.

"Py shinks," panted Carl, throwing down his oar, "I vas diret enough to
tie und I can't do nodding more. Oof I'm to feed der fishes, pedder id
vas now as some odder dime."

"You're not going to feed the fishes," answered Dick. "Buck up, matey.
The gale is slowly blowing itself out. It was only a squall, anyhow."

"I don'd like skvalls! Dey're too sutten. Anyvay, I don'd vork no more.
I can't. My pack iss proke und my hants iss plistered. I vould schust
as soon tie as keep id oop. Vat a plackness eferyvere! Der sea shpooks
iss oudt und yelling like anyt'ing. Oof I vas shdrong enough I vould
ged shcared, aber I ain'd aple efen to do dot. I----"

Just at that moment Carl showed that he was strong enough, at all
events, to give a startled yell. He was interrupted by a grinding
crash, so terrific that it flung him from the thwart, tearing him loose
from the lashings.

The boat had come to a halt, and was filling and turning over.

Carl had no idea what had happened and it was too dark for him to see
anything. After his first frenzied cry, he gave himself up, being
positive that he and Dick, in spite of their plucky fight, were bound
for the bottom.



CHAPTER X.

THE DERELICT.


"Carl!"

It was Dick's voice and Carl was vaguely aware that his comrade was
splashing toward him through the water in the boat.

"Goot-py, Tick," wailed Carl. "Dis iss der last, und ve vas a gouple
oof goners! Led me take holt oof your hant as ve go down. Gompany vas
goot ad a dime like dose."

"We're not going to Jones, matey, at least not right away. We've struck
against a wreck of some kind and by luck I've grabbed a rope that was
trailing overboard. Are you able to climb?"

"I ain'd aple, und I don'd vant to climb. I haf gifen oop, so I mighdt
schust as vell go down as anyt'ing else."

Dick muttered impatiently, grabbed Carl and began tying the rope about
his waist.

"Stay here," said he, "and I'll try and get you up. You'll have to help
yourself a little, though."

Carl was vaguely conscious that Dick had disappeared somewhere. A few
minutes later the whaleboat rolled over, was carried away, and Carl
was left floundering in the water. Again he was sure he had reached
the end, but again he found himself mistaken. There came a tug at the
rope and Carl was hurled with stunning force against something big and
heavy. Clutching the rope with his hands, he braced his feet against
the object against which he had struck, and, after a fashion, started
aloft. The pull on the rope helped him, and he finally floundered over
a barrier, dropped on a flat surface and his wits slipped away from him.

He was utterly spent, and his unconsciousness was caused by sleep
rather than by the blow he had received. When he opened his eyes, he
found that it was morning, that the sun was shining, and that Dick was
on his knees beside him, briskly shaking him.

"Vere ve vas, anyvay?" queried Carl, sitting up and peering around.

He was under the lee of a little house. Slippery planks, that heaved
and rolled, were beneath him, and he could see the jagged stumps of two
masts in the distance. A raffle of tangled rope lay near him.

"We're on a derelict," reported Dick.

"Vat iss a terelick?"

"It's a wreck that failed to go to the bottom. Having a cargo that
floats, it stays on the surface, a menace to every craft that happens
to be in its vicinity."

"T'anks. Iss preakfast retty, Tick?"

"We'll have to find something for breakfast before we can get it ready.
It was a stroke of luck that laid us aboard the derelict. We smashed
into her, in the dark, and it couldn't have happened once in a thousand
times. Fortune has taken a turn with us."

Carl got up unsteadily, leaned against the side of the house behind him
and looked over the cheerless prospect.

"Meppy fortune has dook some durns," he muttered, "aber she ditn't
shtrain herseluf any. Vat sort oof a terelick iss dis?"

"She's a brig."

"Vat's a prig?"

"A two-masted, square-rigged vessel. Both masts are gone."

"Yah, I see dot."

"This is the galley. Under the poop, over there, is the after cabin;
forward of us is the fo'c'sle."

"Vere iss der pantry? Led's try und findt a cupboardt or somet'ing vere
dere iss a biece to eat. I'm so hungry, Tick, dot I don'd know vere I
vas ad."

The door of the galley was closed and battened with a tarpaulin.

"The crew of the brig," said Dick, as he removed the tarpaulin, "did
what they could to keep the water out. When the sticks went out of her,
though, they had to quit."

The galley door was unlocked, and Dick threw it open. An odor came out
to them that was far from pleasant, but they pushed into the little
room and looked around.

There was a stove, serviceable although a bit rusty, and a number of
pots and pans in racks. In a bin, in one corner, was a small supply
of firewood. There was also a swinging cupboard, and in this the boys
found a tin of ground coffee, a small can of brown sugar and a piece of
salt pork that did not look any too fresh.

"Oof ve hat vater," remarked Carl, "ve could make some coffee."

"I'll hunt for the tanks and try to get some water," said Dick. "You
get busy with a fire, Carl. There's a box of matches in the cupboard."

Dick took one of the kettles and left the galley. He was gone some
fifteen or twenty minutes, and during that time Carl had got a fire
going. At first the draft was not good, and Carl investigated and found
that the stove-pipe had been stuffed with oakum to keep out the water.
When the oakum was removed the fire burned finely.

Dick, highly delighted, came back with the water.

"There's a full tank," said he, "and I believe we're going to be a lot
better off than we supposed."

"I know I vill," chirruped Carl, "afder I ged on der outside oof
someding to eat."

"When that's done, matey, we'll go on an exploring expedition, and see
what we can find."

They took their coffee out of tin cups and ate their salt pork off of
tin plates. Enough knives and forks were found to serve their purpose,
and hot food put them both in better spirits.

"I vonder vat Matt is doing on der _Grambus_?" remarked Carl.

"More than likely, mate," answered Dick, "he thinks we're on the
steamer."

"Vich means dot der supmarine vill follow der shdeamer to ged us off.
Vell, I ped you dot Matt iss a goot vays off, py now, und ven vill ve
see him nexdt?"

"Ask me something easy! But we'll see him again, one of these days. As
soon as he finds out that we broke adrift from the fruiter, he'll come
looking for us."

"Und der Gulf of Mexico iss so pig a blace dot he vill look a long dime
pefore he findts der terelick! Vere iss der valepoat? Meppy ve could
use her und go py Florida, hey?"

"We can't do that. The whaleboat was damaged, and she either went down
or drifted off from the wreck during the night."

"Iss dere some odder poats mit der wreck?"

"No. Captain and crew must have used them when they left."

"Den ve got to shday mit der terelick?"

"That's the sizing I give the outlook, Carl. However, we may drop in
with some ship and be taken off. That's more than possible, I should
say."

Having finished their meal, the boys got up and left the galley. They
first looked into the fo'c'sle hatch. Like the galley door, it had been
battened down, and a strong, disagreeable odor was wafted up to them.
The bunks were in disorder, and Dick opened the deadlights in order to
let the air blow through and sweeten up the place.

Off the fo'c'sle was a small room which had evidently been set aside
for the carpenter. At any rate, it contained a small chest of tools.

"Bully!" cried Dick, taking an axe from the chest. "We can clear away
the raffle and take more comfort on the wreck. If we could rig a jury
mast and spread a sail, perhaps we could take this boat into New
Orleans. There'd be a lot of salvage, perhaps."

"Vat's salfage?"

"That's what people get for picking up deserted ships and taking them
into port. If the cargo is valuable, the salvage will run pretty heavy."

As they left the fo'c'sle and walked aft, they passed the side of the
ship against which they had bumped the night before. Several ropes,
from the tangle of cordage on the deck, lay over the side, some of them
loose and trailing in the water, and others attached to broken yards.

"We were lucky to have slammed into the ship at just that point,"
observed Dick. "There were plenty of ropes for us to get hold of, and
if I hadn't grabbed that rope, last night, we'd have gone under, sure
as fate." He dropped his axe. "We'll leave that here, for now," he went
on, "while we go aft and continue looking around."

They climbed the steps leading to the poop deck. The cabin roof rose
out of the deck, and there was a row of little windows around the top
of the cabin wall.

In the stern of the brig, directly back of the cabin, was the
charthouse. This room was quite commodious and was furnished with
heavy glass windows that had resisted the fury of the storm that had,
in other ways, damaged the brig so heavily. There were two bunks in
the charthouse, a deep locker, and a table. The air inside was damp
and heavy, but by leaving the door open and opening the windows the
atmosphere soon cleared.

"Here iss a goot blace to shleep, anyvays," remarked Carl, with a good
deal of satisfaction. "Oof ve can findt a lod oof grup, den I bed you
ve ged along finer as silk. Oof id vasn't for Matt, I couldn't care oof
ve floated to China."

"We're not going to leave the gulf, matey," averred Dick, decidedly.
"We're going to get out of this fix as soon as we can."

"Yah, meppy dot vas pedder," agreed Carl. "Vat's der name oof dis poat?
All poats haf names, don'd dey?"

"We'll try and find out," said Dick.

Leaving the charthouse, he lowered himself by the rope of one of the
davits--from which a dory had presumably been suspended--and read the
lettering on the brig's stern.

He gave a yell of surprise and swung himself back on deck in a good
deal of excitement.

"Vat's der madder?" asked Carl.

"Do you remember, Carl," answered Dick, "that Captain Sixty said,
that time we talked with him in the steamer's cabin, that he had been
skipper of a brig called the _Dolphin_?"

"Yah, I rememper dot."

"Well, this is the _Dolphin_!"

Carl stared blankly into the gleaming eyes of Dick Ferral, wondering
why the fact should put Dick in such a taking as it seemed to have done.



CHAPTER XI.

THE SCHOONER.


"Vat aboudt it, Tick?" queried Carl. "Dere iss more as vone poat named
der _Tolphin_, I bed you."

"Sure; but there's no such happenchance in this case. Sixty's boat was
a brig, and that was her name. This boat's a square-rigged two-master,
and the word _Dolphin_, plain as the nose on your face, is there on the
stern. It's a cinch this was Sixty's boat."

"Vell, subbosing id vas? Id don'd cut some ice. Ve're here, und Sixty
iss on der shdeamer. Led's go looking some more."

"There's something main queer about all this tangle," muttered Dick,
leading the way to the sliding doors of the after companion and
removing the tarpaulin. "This ought to take us into the captain's
quarters, and maybe we'll find something there that will shed light on
the situation."

The doors were locked, but Dick sent Carl for the axe and smashed them
open. The close air was almost stifling, but the boys faced it and
descended into the small cabin. A sextant and a chronometer were the
first things Dick's eyes lighted upon.

"If there are charts in that locker in the charthouse," he observed,
"we can very easily tell whereabouts in the gulf we are."

Carl wanted to know how this was to be done, but Dick did not have time
to explain, just then. He opened some windows, and the door leading
out through the break in the poop. This caused a refreshing current of
air to blow through the room.

There was a bunk built against one wall, and, like those in the
fo'c'sle and the charthouse, it was in a state of disorder. A sea chest
was near one wall. It was opened and, from the way its contents were
scattered, it appeared to have been hastily rummaged.

In the centre of the cabin was a table, securely bolted to the floor.
Dick pulled open a drawer of the table and drew out a couple of papers.

"The skipper got away in such a hurry," said Dick, "he didn't even take
time to get these."

"Vat dey vas, anyhow?" inquired Carl, drawing close and looking over
Dick's shoulder.

"The ship's log and her manifest," answered Carl.

"Dot's a funny kind oof a log," said Carl. "Vy dey call some bapers a
log?"

"It is just a name, matey, and means a document in which the first
officer sets down the things that happen to the ship, how far she
sails, any notable things that occur, and so on. It's a sort of diary."

"Vat a funny pitzness!" exclaimed Carl. "Und dot odder t'ing, vat you
say iss a manivest. Vat's dot?"

"Why, a manifest is a paper signed by the master. It gives the vessel's
name and tonnage, the port she hails from and a full description of
the cargo. This tells the number and character of the various boxes,
bales and packages in the cargo, where they're taken aboard, and where
they're going to. This is full of information for us, matey. And it's
signed by James Sixty, as master, which proves conclusively that we're
on the boat that was once under his orders."

"Meppy dot's righdt. Anyvay, id don'd make so mooch tifference so long
as Sixdy ain'd here now."

"But it's queer we happened to slam into his boat during the storm last
night."

"Forged aboudt dot und dell me vere der prig comes from, vat she's got
apoardt, und how mooch salvage ve ged oof ve take her py New Orleans."

An examination of the log and the manifest showed the boys that the
_Dolphin_ had been doing some great stunts at traveling. Her last port
of call was New Orleans, where she had discharged some manufactured
products from Liverpool and filled out the available space in her hold
with oak barrel staves. On her way from Liverpool she had also put in
at Boston and taken on a consignment of mill work--that is, doors,
sashes, window frames, etc.--which was to go to Belize. Before reaching
Liverpool, the _Dolphin_ had called at Lisbon, Portugal, for part of a
load of cork. Previous to reaching Lisbon she had picked up some hemp
and sugar and copra at Manila, which she had put ashore at Liverpool.
Originally, the brig had cleared from San Francisco.

"Dot mixes me all oop," muttered Carl, who had seated himself in a
chair while listening to Dick's reading.

"Belize seems to be the place she was going to when she left New
Orleans," said Dick. "It appears, too, that she took on canned goods
in addition to mill work in Boston, and that both were for British
Honduras. We'd better go down in the hold and hunt for those canned
goods."

Carl was immensely delighted with the proposition; anything that had
a prospect of food at the end of it always made a hit with him. A
lantern was secured in the captain's cabin, lighted with a match from
the galley, and the boys stripped open a hatch and got into the 'tween
decks.

Between the main and the lower deck there was a good deal of water, and
barrel staves were floating in every direction. There were a number of
boxes snugly stowed out of reach of the water, however, and Dick, by
the aid of the lantern, discovered that some of the upper boxes were
filled with canned pork and beans.

"Yah," chuckled Carl, clinging to the iron ladder that led down from
the hatch, "I bed you dot come from Poston! Iss id der parrel staves,
Tick, vat keeps der wreck afloat?"

"No," answered Dick, crawling over the cargo and pushing the lantern
ahead of him, "there are not enough staves to do that, although, of
course, they help--and so does the mill work. The cork, though, must be
down in the lower hold, and that, I take it, is what buoys the ship up
principally. Cork is a great---- Well, keelhaul me!"

Dick broke off his words with a startled exclamation.

"Vat's to pay now?" cried Carl.

"There's something here, matey, that's not down in the manifest."

"Vat id iss?"

"Boxes of ammunition and Krag-Jorgensen rifles."

"Hoop-a-la! Meppy olt Sixdy vas going to durn birate, und dot a gale
plew along, wrecked der prig und made him shange his mindt. Vell, nefer
mindt dot shtuff, Tick. Der pork und peans iss ammunidion enough for
me. Id's pooty near tinner dime, so come on mit a pox."

Dick finished inspecting the rifles and ammunition and crawled back
along the piles of boxes and over the sloshing water. Between the two
of them, the boys succeeded in getting a case of the canned beans up on
the deck.

"Sixty is an old law-breaker," averred Dick. "I had already sized him
up for being a beach comber and I can't understand why Captain Nemo,
Jr., has anything to do with him."

"Meppy Nemo, Jr., don'd have somet'ing to do mit him, und dot vat Sixdy
toldt us vas all some cock-und-pull shtories. Aber vat makes you t'ink
he vas a law-preaker?"

"Those rifles and that ammunition. Things like those, Carl, when
they're not down in a ship's manifest were not taken aboard for any
proper purpose. My eye! I'd give something handsome to know what's up."

While Carl was opening the box of beans and getting dinner, Dick began
clearing the deck of the raffle of cordage that covered it. By the time
he had finished and cast the splintered yards adrift, Carl was out of
the galley and calling for him to come and eat.

In the afternoon the boys brought the bedding from the bunks in the
charthouse and spread it on the deck to dry in the sun; then they
went down into the 'tween-decks again and looked over as much of the
cargo as was above water. They discovered that the freight of arms and
ammunition was quite extensive. Carl could not work up much interest
in the rifles and cartridges, but, while Dick was prowling through the
wet hold looking them over, he dug out a box of tinned beef and a cask
of ship's biscuit. With these discoveries they were able to vary their
supper menu.

Leaving Carl to get supper, Dick hunted up two more lanterns and
trimmed and lighted them and hung them forward, aft and amidships of
the wreck.

"I'm tired enough to do a caulk to the king's taste," said Dick, as he
left the galley and cast a self-satisfied glance at the lights, "but we
can't both of us turn in. We'll have to stand watch and watch. Do you
want the first half of the night or the last half?"

"Vat's der use oof shtanding vatch?" protested Carl. "Dere von't nopody
shdeal der poat, und oof ve vas going to run indo anypody ve couldn't
helup dot."

"It's necessary, Carl," answered Dick, "to know all that takes place
while we're on the brig. If our lights should attract any vessel that's
passing, one of us ought to be on the alert to answer a hail."

"All righdt. I'll take der fairst vatch, und I vill call you py der
chronomoder in der gaptain's room."

Dick had wound the chronometer and set it by guess. The timepiece might
be off schedule by an hour or so, but it would serve for dividing the
watches.

Leaving Carl by the galley, Dick climbed to the poop deck and went to
the charthouse and turned in. Carl's mind was running on "spooks" a
good deal, and the swish of water under the deck, and the grinding and
thumping of the floating staves, kept his fears and his imagination
working overtime.

However, nothing happened; and, after he had gone into the cabin seven
or eight times and consulted the chronometer, he at last found it to be
twelve o'clock and bounded up the poop-deck steps.

Dick had slept soundly, and when he went forward Carl crept into his
warm blankets and was snoring almost as soon as his head was on the
pillow.

It seemed to him that he had no more than closed his eyes before he was
brought up in his bunk by a loud yell. It was daylight, and the sun was
shining through the open door of the charthouse.

"Carl! Come out here!"

Carl leaped from the bunk and hurried out on the deck and to the broken
monkey rail.

From the rail he could look down on the main deck and get a good view
of Dick.

The sailor had found a piece of canvas and was standing on the stump of
one of the masts, waving a signal.

Carl's eyes wandered out over the water, and his heart gave a bound as
they rested on a sail not more than half a mile away.

"It's a schooner," shouted Dick, "and her lookout has seen us! The
craft's lying-to, matey, and we'll be taken off this old hulk in a
brace of shakes."

"Hoop-a-la!" shouted Carl.



CHAPTER XII.

A STUNNING SURPRISE.


As the overjoyed boys watched the trim little schooner, she came
gracefully about, a boat was put over, and four men got into it and
started for the wreck.

"This is what I call luck!" exclaimed Dick. "One day and two nights on
the derelict, and now we're going to be taken off."

"Aber ve don'd ged some salfage," said Carl, with a note of regret in
his voice, "like vat ve vould do oof ve sailed der terelick indo New
Orleans."

"I don't think we could ever sail her that far, even if we were able
to get a jury rig on her. Her rudder's gone, and to rig a jury rudder
would be too much for us. Besides, her seams have opened badly, and
another storm would be likely to knock her to pieces."

"Den id's pedder dot ve be took off," said Carl.

As the boat was almost halfway between the schooner and the derelict,
the boys gave over their talk to watch. They had not kept their gaze
on the boat many minutes before they made out a figure on one of the
thwarts that caused them to turn upon each other in blank astonishment.

"It can't be dot der feller in der front part oof dot poat iss Sixdy?"
murmured Carl. "Haf I got der plind shtaggers or somet'ing?"

"Dowse me, mate," breathed Dick, "it's either the old hunks, or his
double."

"I don'd pelieve in toubles like dot. Id vas eider him or id vasn't
him. Vat you t'ink, Tick?"

"I'm a Fiji if it ain't Sixty," declared Dick.

"How could he be dere ven ve left him on der shdeamer?"

"That's a hard one. This is Sixty's old boat, and it's natural he
should be coming back to her again. I tell you, Carl, there's something
queer in all this that we can't understand. Belay a bit!"

Without pausing to answer the excited query Carl threw after him, Dick
rushed for the hatchway leading into the 'tween-decks. He was out of
sight for several minutes, and when he came up again he had a couple of
the Krag-Jorgensens, and his pockets were sagging with cartridges.

"Vat you going to do mit dose t'ings?" demanded Carl.

"I'm going to make Sixty keep a good offing until he tells us what his
lay is," answered Dick, decidedly.

"Oof dis is his poat den he's got a pedder righdt on her as ve haf."

"Possession is nine points of the law, and we have possession. There's
something crooked about this craft. The manifest says nothing about
firearms and she carries enough for a regiment. We'll hold that boat
off for a while and make sure of square treatment for ourselves,
whatever else we do. Take one of the guns and fill the magazine, Carl.
After that, get down behind the rail."

The boat was quite close, by that time, and the boys finished their
preparations hurriedly and dropped to their knees behind the bulwarks.

"Halt!" shouted Dick. "Stay right where you are till we have a bit of a
palaver."

The man in the bow was Captain Sixty. There was now not the least doubt
of it. The boys heard him mutter something very much like an oath and
saw him get to his feet. The three men at the oars ceased pulling and
held the boat steady.

"You're the two kids that was with Motor Matt on the _Santa Maria_,"
shouted Sixty. "What you doin' on that brig?"

"Trying to get somebody to pick us off," Dick answered.

"Well, we seen your signal and that's what we've come to do, so why in
thunder are you pullin' them guns on us?"

"You can't fool me, Old Cut-and-slash!" answered Dick. "That telegram
of yours that my mate got in the hotel, by mistake, didn't give the
position of this brig, did it? 'No wind and no drift.' That's what
the telegram said. But that storm, the other night, blew her quite a
distance across the gulf. You didn't take the _Santa Maria_ in order to
get close to this wreck and give it a sizing, did you?"

A perfect roar went up from Sixty.

"I knowed you was next to my game all the time," he whooped, irefully.
"I wish I could have chucked you into the drink along with Motor Matt.
Confound that blasted submarine! If she hadn't come snoopin' along
after us, Motor Matt wouldn't be where he could bother me none."

For a thorough-going scoundrel, Sixty was peculiarly artless in
letting out facts of importance. This was the first intimation Carl
and Dick had had that Sixty was in any way concerned with Matt's going
overboard. The revelation took them both aback.

"You heaved our old raggie over the rail, did you?" demanded Dick,
angrily.

"Yes," shouted Sixty furiously, shaking a fist in the direction of the
brig, "and I have been hoping that storm had cooked your goose. I've
been lookin' for the brig in that schooner, following on acrost the
gulf in the way the wind must have drove her from the bearin's given
me in that telegram. I allowed you chaps knowed more about my business
than I wanted you to."

"We know you've got a cargo of arms and ammunition on the brig that's
not down in the manifest."

Sixty yelled a frantic oath.

"Put down them guns," he bellowed. "We're comin' aboard."

"Not while we're able to use these Krag-Jorgensens," threatened Dick.

"We'll see about that." Sixty turned to the sailors. "Pull!" he
ordered. "They're only makin' a bluff."

The sailors began to pull toward the brig once more. Dick saw there was
nothing else for it but to open fire.

"We've got to scare 'em off, Carl," said he, in a low tone. "I'll do
the shooting, and you lay by and watch."

Bang!

A bullet whistled through the air, zipped its course between two of the
sailors and threw up a little spurt of water far beyond the boat. The
sailors, in a panic, stopped their rowing.

Sixty was raving like a wild man. He could say nothing, however, that
would induce the men with him to come any nearer the brig.

"The next bullet," shouted Dick, "will come closer to you. We've got
plenty of guns and plenty of ammunition, and you'll get your gruel if
you come on."

Those in the rowboat held a brief consultation. In about two minutes
the boat put about and started back to the schooner.

Carl jumped up on the rail and waved his hat.

"Ve vas too many for you," he taunted, in his characteristic fashion.
"Goot-py, olt sore-headt! Meppy ve dake dose guns und ammunidions und
der resdt oof der druck to New Orleans und make some salfage money. How
you like dot?"

Carl, when he sprang back to Dick's side, was not so sure that it was a
good thing to have the schooner sail away and leave them.

"Vat ve going to do on der terelick oof anodder shtorm hids us?" he
asked.

"I don't believe there'll be another storm for a few days, Carl,"
answered Dick, his face strangely troubled.

"You don'd vas a Vedder Pureau, Tick. How you know dot?"

"I'm just guessing, that's all."

"Dot schooner must haf peen vaiding for der _Sanda Maria_, somevere
oudt in der gulf."

"That's about the way I figure it, Carl. Some one, just in from the
gulf, sent that telegram to Sixty giving him the location of the
wreck. He got word to some one to have the schooner meet him near the
steamer's track, and he was transferred. This must have been some time
yesterday, after the storm. I'm a juggins, though, if I have any idea
what the old shell-back's game is."

"He drowed Modor Matt oferpoard, anyvay," growled Carl, savagely,
"und dot's pooty goot efitence, Tick, dot der game don'd haf some
bleasantness in id for us, hey?"

"Sixty would like to clear us off the slate, if he could. I shouldn't
wonder if he was counting on saving this cargo for himself. It's an
illegal cargo, if I know one when I see it, and the old shark is
playing a ticklish game."

"Downsent ain'd in id, I bed you. He vouldn't do anyt'ing underhand for
nodding. Vy dit dot Sixdy feller lie like vat he dit?"

"He wanted to get us out of New Orleans, I guess, and he thought that
was the easiest way to do it. What do you think of that girl now,
matey?"

"I vas tisabbointed in Miss Harris," acknowledged Carl, regretfully. "I
vould nefer haf t'ought she vas dot kindt. She says t'ings dot vasn't
der trut', like her uncle."

"It was all cut and spliced. We tumbled into the bight of the rope like
a lot of swabs, and Sixty pulled his snare tight. If the submarine
hadn't been handily by, Matt might have drowned."

"Und oof der wreck hatn't peen close around, ve vould haf done der
same. I dell you, Tick, ve vas all in luck--aldough I ain'd saying but
vat der luck mighdt be pedder as vat it iss. I hope no shtorm vill come
undil anodder poat sails py und bicks us oop."

"I can't understand that," muttered Dick, his eyes on the schooner.

"Vat's going on?" asked Carl.

"They've taken Sixty and the three with him aboard and the craft is
making a slant in this direction. That doesn't look as though she was
going to haul away."

"Some fellers are vorking in der bow oof der schooner," observed Carl.
"Vat are dose fellers aboudt?"

Dick strained his eyes. As the schooner drew nearer, laying a course
that would take her past the stern of the wreck at less than a cable's
length, Dick suddenly grabbed Carl and rushed him along the deck and
into the after cabin.

"They're unlimbering a bow chaser!" he exclaimed.

"Vat's a pow shacer?"

"A small cannon. Sixty is going to try and shell us out."

Carl gasped. Was it possible the reckless scoundrel would attempt such
a high-handed proceeding?

Even as the boys stood staring at each other, there came a loud report,
followed by a crashing _thump_ that made the derelict reel from end to
end.

Dick looked out.

"There goes the galley!" he exclaimed, grimly. "Old Sixty seems
determined to make the wreck of his boat complete."



CHAPTER XIII.

CLOSING IN.


Dick, as soon as he had spoken to Carl, ran out of the cabin and took a
hasty look over the side of the wreck.

The schooner was now so close that he could see the men on her decks
plainly. Some were putting another charge in the small cannon at the
bow, while several more were loading a similar cannon whose muzzle
swung over the taffrail.

"They're going to keep it up, matey," announced Dick, as Carl stole out
to him. "Pretty soon they'll put another shot into us."

"Meppy dey vas drying to shcare us oudt," returned Carl. "Oof Sixdy
vants to safe der cargo oof der prig he vouldn't send her to der
pottom."

There came another roar, this time from the cannon at the stern of
the schooner. A round shot sailed over the top of the charthouse and
dropped into the sea, far to leeward, sending up a small geyser of
water.

"Ve can shtandt all dot kindt oof shooding dot dey gif us," said Carl.

"They'll not give us that kind right along, mate. I don't think they'll
put any shells into us between wind and water, but they'll bang away at
the deck houses."

By then the schooner had crossed the stern of the wreck and was making
ready to tack about and come up on the other side.

"They're going to put a few shots into us from starboard," hazarded
Dick.

"Couldn't ve pick off some oof dose fellers mit der rifles?" queried
Carl.

"We could," replied Dick, "but we're not going to. We've got the right
of this, now, and if we shot anybody we'd be in the wrong almost as
much as Sixty. We'll let the old scoundrel play his hand, and see what
it amounts to."

The boys could see that those on the schooner had loaded both guns. Two
men stood by ready to fire them, but neither was discharged.

"Vy don'd dey shoot?" asked Carl. "Vat vas dey hanging pack for?"

"Ah!" muttered Dick, "they're getting a couple of boats in the water."

"Vat does dot mean?"

"They're going to close in. Get your rifle, Carl. From the looks of
things, mate, we're going to have hot work."

"Ve don'd surrenter?"

"I'm a Britisher, and I don't know the word!" answered Dick.

"Me, neider," said Carl. "I vas American mit a Dutch accent, aber I
don'd gif in to dot gang. Led dem shood deir olt headts off."

"Our heads will be the ones they'll try to shoot off."

Rifles in hand, the boys watched the boats as they struck the water.
Five men tumbled into each of them, and the men were all armed.

Dick laughed softly.

"We're making them take a lot of trouble, mate," said he.

"Oof ve hat a gun like vat dey got, py shinks, ve vould gif dem as
mooch fighdt as dey vanted. Ah, ha! der poats iss shtarting dis vay,
und vone iss coming py der front oof der wreck und der odder py der
rear end. Now vat you t'ink iss going to habben?"

"We're about at the end of our rope, Carl," said Dick. "Those boats are
going to board us under cover of a couple of shots from the big guns.
The outlook is getting dark. This way! We'll get down the main hatch
into the 'tween decks. After the broadside, we'll come up again and
fight off the boats."

It was not a time for words. The gunners on the schooner were preparing
to fire, and if Dick and Carl got out of the way they would have to
hurry.

The main hatch was open, just as Dick had left it when he had gone down
after the rifles. Carl, who was following Dick, had no more than got
his feet on the ladder, when there were two smashing reports, coming so
close together that they sounded almost as one.

Dick, at the time, was standing on the ladder, up to his knees in
water, urging Carl to hurry. The firing drowned his words.

Instantly there was a splintering crash, and the wreck rocked and
heaved as though it would break apart. But Dick Ferral was not thinking
of the derelict, just then. His every thought was for Carl.

The Dutch boy had pitched forward, the upper part of his body lying
half over the hatch coaming.

"Carl!" cried Dick, frantically.

There was no answer. Carl's dangling feet swung backward and forward
with the swaying of the wreck.

Dick, his heart in his throat, leaped up the ladder, bounded out on the
deck, lifted Carl in his arms and carried him away from the hatch.

There was a smear of red on Carl's forehead, his face was deathly white
and his eyes closed.

One of the cannon balls had knocked a hole in the bulwarks of the
brig and scattered splinters all over that part of the boat. Carl,
undoubtedly, had been struck by one of the flying fragments.

Kneeling at his chum's side, Dick laid a hand on his breast, then felt
of his wrist. What he learned reassured him.

Hurrying to the galley he got what was left of a kettle of fresh water,
ran back with it, tore a strip from the piece of canvas with which he
had signaled the schooner, and began bathing Carl's forehead.

There was an ugly gash in the temple. So far as Dick could discover,
however, the splinter had not done any serious damage.

"Here they are!" yelled a hoarse voice. "We've downed one of 'em!"

Dick started up. From forward and aft men were climbing over the
derelict's side and rushing toward the main hatch. Quick as a wink he
caught up one of the Krag-Jorgensens, placed himself over Carl and
brought the gun to his shoulder.

Sixty was bearing down on Dick, and at his back were two swarthy
sailors who had the appearance of Mexicans, or Spaniards.

"Sheer off!" shouted Dick, menacingly, pointing the rifle full at
Captain Sixty. "Lay a finger on me or my mate and I'll shoot."

There was that in the boy's eyes which told of resolute determination,
and Sixty and the others drew to an abrupt halt.

"Put down that gun, you young fool!" ordered Sixty, angrily. "All we
wanted was to get on this brig. You've made a fine mess of it, I must
say."

"You've got on the brig," returned Dick, steadily, "but you haven't
captured us, yet. Leave us alone--that's my advice to you."

"There's a chap on the schooner that's a halfway doctor," said Sixty.
"Don't you want him to look after your friend?"

"We're not going on the schooner, Captain Sixty, and I tell you flat
that before long you're going to answer for your villainous work of the
last few days. What kind of a pirate are you, anyhow?"

"This is my boat," blustered Sixty, "and I've got the right to take
her. You was lame in tryin' to keep me off. It was you two that first
began usin' guns."

"But it was you that lured us aboard the _Santa Maria_! And it was you
that threw Motor Matt off the steamer! Why shouldn't we use guns when
we saw you coming for us? You're a lawless scoundrel, and if you had
what was coming you'd be swinging from the yardarm of a man-o'-war! I
wish there was a Yankee fighting ship in these waters! You'd have short
shrift to your deserts, Captain Jim Sixty!"

"It's easy enough to blow," scowled Sixty, "but your talk don't amount
to nothin'. I'm on my own deck, and that makes me high cockalorum. Drop
that gun, I tell you, before we lay you on the deck alongside your
mate."

"Drop me on the deck!" shouted Dick, recklessly. "Keep up your
lawlessness, if you dare!"

Dick swerved his eyes a little to get a fleeting glance of the nine men
who had boarded the wreck with Sixty.

"What sort of swabs are you?" he cried. "Don't you know the risk
you are taking in doing the dirty work for a ruffian like Sixty? He
abandoned the brig--left her to her fate--and now the rest of you can
pick him up and slant away. I'll stay here with my mate, and take care
of him, but we'll neither of us set a foot on your pirate schooner!"

Dick was so wrought up that he would have defied an army if one had
been mustered against him. He was hopelessly outnumbered, and there
could have been but one result had events been allowed to take their
course.

But the unexpected happened, and it happened just then when the brave
Ferral, standing over the form of his unconscious chum, was defying
Sixty and his men to do their worst.

"Ahoy, the brig!"

The faint hail came from the schooner.

"Ahoy!" roared Sixty, turning and making a trumpet of his hands.

"Look out for the submarine!"

Sixty's hands fell from his lips and he gave a jump for the side of the
brig. The rest of the men ran with him. For an instant something like
panic laid hold of the entire party.

Dick, thrilled with a wild feeling of hope, rushed for the battered
bulwarks of the wreck--and stood there, gasping with astonishment.

Within fifty feet of the brig, bow on, lay the _Grampus_. There was not
a sign of life about her, but there she lay, silent, menacing, a thing
of power fraught with deadly peril for the lawless men on the wreck.

Sixty, regaining his wits, gave vent to a fierce oath and jerked a
musket from the hands of one of the sailors. He fired, but the bullet
glanced harmlessly from the rounded steel deck of the submarine.

The next moment the top of the conning tower began lifting slowly.



CHAPTER XIV.

THE "GRAMPUS" GETS A CLUE.


For a few minutes Matt and Captain Nemo, Jr., stared at the overturned
whaleboat. The captain read the dread suspicions that were passing
through the young motorist's mind.

"Courage, my lad," said he, kindly. "Don't give up, yet."

"What else is there to hope for?" asked Matt. "Dick and Carl were in
that boat, and they were not able to keep it from filling and turning
turtle. If that is what happened, then----"

Matt could not finish. For a moment all the courage was taken out of
him.

"If the worst has happened to your friends, Matt," said the captain,
gravely, "then this man Sixty is directly, or indirectly, responsible
for it. But cheer up. We both know what a resourceful fellow Ferral
is, and that Carl is full of pluck and energy. I can't believe that
they went down in that storm, even with the evidence of the overturned
whaleboat to make us think to the contrary. I'll have Cassidy up and
we'll draw closer to the boat and get a better look at her."

With Cassidy on deck, armed with a boathook, the _Grampus_ was driven
close alongside the boat. With the boathook, the mate was able to turn
the boat partly over, giving those on the submarine a glimpse of her
broken bulwarks.

"Ah!" cried Captain Nemo, Jr. "The whaleboat was struck by
something--perhaps by some ship. In that event, the boys may have been
taken out of the boat, and be as safe, now, as we are."

"What's to be done, captain?" asked Matt. "I don't feel like leaving
these waters until I learn something more definite regarding Dick and
Carl, but I hardly see how we're going to learn anything by cruising
around in this vicinity. If the whaleboat was stove by a ship, and Carl
and Dick were taken aboard, then by now they must be a good way from
this part of the gulf."

"It won't do any harm to cruise around here for a day or two, anyhow,"
replied the captain.

"Meanwhile," said Matt, "Captain Sixty is getting away on the _Santa
Maria_."

"Then he'll have to get away," returned the captain. "He's only
suspected of filibustering, and my orders were simply to keep track of
him and discover what he was doing. We'll forget about Sixty and think
only of Dick and Carl."

From that moment the _Grampus_ began an aimless wandering through the
waters of that part of the gulf. They were delayed three hours, shortly
after noon, by a mishap to the gasoline motor. The trouble was too much
for Gaines, and Matt was called on to locate the difficulty and repair
it.

This was a good thing for Matt, inasmuch as it drew his thoughts from
moody conjectures concerning his chums and gave him something important
to do in the line of work that he liked best.

An hour after the motor was in working order again, and the _Grampus_
was traveling along at a good clip, Cassidy, who was on the lookout,
raised a smudge of smoke on the horizon. The steamer was coming from
the south, and was evidently bound for some port to the north, either
Mobile or New Orleans. With a desire to speak to her, on the possible
chance of learning something about Dick and Carl, the submarine altered
her course so as to intersect that of the steamer.

Matt, Nemo, Jr., and Cassidy were on the deck when the _Grampus_ had
come close enough to get the steamer in full view.

"Great guns!" exclaimed Cassidy, as his eyes traveled over the vessel's
trim lines, "it's the United States cruiser _Seminole_. I know her
pretty near as well as I do the _Grampus_."

"Bring up the signal flags and code book, Mr. Cassidy," ordered the
captain; "also the megaphone. We'll get into communication with the
captain of the cruiser. Even if he can't tell us anything about Dick
and Carl, we can talk with him a little about Jim Sixty."

Cassidy was soon back with signal flags, code book and megaphone. While
he gave his attention to running up the flags at the short staff of the
_Grampus_, Matt handled the code book.

"Have you seen anything of two men who were lost in a small boat during
the storm last night?"

This was the first question spelled out by the flags.

With the binoculars, Captain Nemo, Jr., read the answer.

It was "No."

"Wish to communicate with you at closer range," the flags of the
submarine next signaled.

"We'll heave to," answered the war ship. "Come up under our lee."

Cassidy dropped the flags through the conning tower hatch, then
descended to reach the push buttons and send word to the engine room.

Gracefully the submarine rounded the stern of the _Seminole_ in a wide
arc and came to a halt within thirty feet of the big vessel on the
starboard side.

"What boat is that?" came from the bridge of the cruiser.

"The submarine _Grampus_, Captain Nemo, Jr., out of New Orleans and
acting under orders from the government."

"What orders?"

"To watch a suspected filibuster named James Sixty."

"We've been looking for him and his brig, the _Dolphin_. The _Dolphin_
is said to have been wrecked and is reported as a derelict, dangerous
to commerce. We have orders to examine her, if possible, and she can be
found, and then to destroy her. Where is Sixty?"

"He left New Orleans under suspicious circumstances aboard the fruiter
_Santa Maria_, ostensibly bound for Belize."

"He's not bound for Belize. If he's doing anything, he's hunting for
the _Dolphin_, hoping to salvage her cargo or else blow her up and send
her to the bottom before any naval officer has a chance to look her
over. We're cruising around to see if we can locate the derelict."

"And we're trying to find a couple of young fellows who were torn
adrift from the _Santa Maria_ during the storm, last night."

"Any success?"

"Found the whaleboat, stove and floating upside down on the water."

"Then you'd better give up," was the curt remark that closed the
conversation.

The cruiser got under headway again and slanted off on a new course.

"You see how it is, captain," said Matt. "Even those on the cruiser
think our search is useless."

"We'll keep it up, nevertheless," was the captain's dogged response.

"That's what I'm anxious to have you do, for I don't leave this part of
the gulf until I know something more."

Night came on, and the _Grampus_ was still running circles in the
waters of the gulf. The sea had quieted down to an abnormal smoothness,
and the submarine, with Matt at the engine to relieve Gaines, went on
her aimless wanderings.

At midnight Gaines took the engine and gave Matt an opportunity to
secure a little rest.

Matt was up for breakfast, and while he, and Captain Nemo, Jr., and
Gaines were eating, they heard a muffled detonation, as it might have
been of a blast from a great distance. Matt and the captain hurried
to the deck, where they found that the mysterious noise had likewise
claimed the attention of Cassidy.

"What did it sound like to you, Cassidy?" asked the captain.

"Like a cannon, sir," was the reply, "but it was a powerful ways off."

"That's how it sounded to me."

"What do you think it is?" inquired Matt.

"At a guess," replied the captain, "I should say the cruiser has found
the derelict and is trying to break her up. We'll alter our course and
see what we can discover."

Just as the _Grampus_ was put on a new tack, there came another of the
muffled crashes, which served to give them a further clue as to the
location of the firing.

Gaines was told to speed up the motor to the top notch, and the
submarine began to cleave her way through the water at her best speed.

Presently Cassidy, who was using the binoculars, declared that he
could see a sail. This compelled the captain to alter his views as to
the cause of the firing. If there was a sail, then it was impossible
that the cruiser was struggling to destroy the derelict.

Just about then another roar of cannon was heard, this time so weirdly
distinct that there could be no doubt as to what had caused the report.

"That's cannon, all right," muttered Cassidy, "but why is a schooner
doing the shooting?"

"We'll get inside," said the captain, "and submerge until the periscope
ball is just awash. It may be well to come into this thing cautiously."

All those on deck descended to the periscope room. Here, as once
before, the captain and Matt kept their eyes on the mirror of the
periscope table.

Slowly but clearly a schooner came into sight, and also the wreck of a
two-masted brig.

"That brig is the derelict," remarked the captain, "and it looks as
though the schooner is trying to sink her."

"Mighty queer to find a schooner carrying cannon," observed Cassidy.

"That's right, too," said the captain, plainly puzzled.

"There are two boats alongside the wreck," said Matt, excitedly, "and
men are climbing over the bulwarks! What does that mean, captain?"

"Right you are, Matt," muttered the captain, "and I'm in a quandary.
We'll come up between the schooner and the brig and investigate before
taking any decided action."

On and on the _Grampus_ glided, unseen until, when she had attained the
position she desired, she rose upward with a flurry of waves creaming
from her deck plates.

From the elevated top of the periscope there was a view of the brig's
dismantled deck; and Matt and the captain could see, as plainly as
though they were on the derelict, Dick Ferral, gun at his shoulder,
standing over the form of Carl. And Captain Sixty's bulky form was
equally clear, as well as the figures of the rabble at his heels.

It was an astounding sight for those in the submarine, but it was a
sight that left no time for useless words.

"Cassidy," cried Captain Nemo, Jr., with a snap of his lean jaws,
"go to the torpedo room, take Speake with you and slip one of the
Whiteheads into the port tube. After that, stand by for orders."

"Ay, ay, sir," answered Cassidy, and quickly vanished.

"I'm going up in the tower, Matt," said the captain. "You can crowd in
to the lunettes and watch what goes on."

Then the captain made his way up the ladder with Matt tight at his
heels. Hardly had Matt got his eyes to the lunette when a ringing thump
echoed from the deck plates.

"A rifle shot!" exclaimed Nemo, Jr. "I'll just warn those rascals what
they're up against."

As he finished speaking, he pulled the lever that secured the hatch and
pushed the iron disk slowly upward.



CHAPTER XV.

AN ULTIMATUM.


"That will do, Jim Sixty!" shouted Captain Nemo, Jr., the moment he had
got head and shoulders over the rim of the tower.

With a burst of profanity, Sixty leveled the rifle at the captain.

"What's to hinder me from puttin' a bullet through you, right where you
are, you meddlin' hound?" he shouted.

"Several things, Sixty," was the calm response. "In the first place, I
don't think you're a good enough marksman; and, in the second place, I
don't think you'll do anything rash when I tell you that we're ready to
put a torpedo into the brig and blow you and the wreck out of water."

That was a blow in the face for Sixty. He staggered back, dropped his
rifle, and cast longing eyes at the two boats moored to the brig's side.

"You wouldn't dare do a thing like that!" he cried.

"Why wouldn't I?" asked the captain, casually.

"Well, for one thing, if you blowed us up, Motor Matt's two pards would
go with us. You ain't takin' no chances with----"

"The schooner! The schooner!" clamored those on the deck of the brig.

Through the lunette Matt could see the schooner, with all sail set,
hustling off across the ocean, showing as clean a pair of heels as any
sailing craft could.

"Come back here, blast you!" howled Sixty, trumpeting the words through
his hands.

But, if any one on the schooner heard, they made no response. The craft
kept to her course, hauling up every stitch of canvas possible.

"We've got her scared," remarked Captain Nemo, Jr., "for her skipper
knows that if we could sink you with a torpedo we could also sink her."

"What d'you want?" demanded Sixty.

"We want you and your men as prisoners," replied the captain. "If Motor
Matt's friend on the deck, there, is badly hurt, you'll all be held
to answer for it. Not only that, but we want to examine the brig's
cargo----"

"No need of that, captain," sung out Dick. "I've got her log and her
manifest. There's enough guns and ammunition down below to arm a
regiment--and they're not down in the papers."

With a swirling roar of rage, Sixty sprang toward Dick. The latter
stepped away quickly.

"Stay right where you are, Sixty!" shouted the captain. "Make another
move like that and you'll do it at your peril. If those men with you
know when they're well off, they'll help Dick Ferral get his chum into
one of the boats and bring him over here to us."

"They'll do nothin' o' the kind!" shouted Sixty. "If you blow us up,
you're goin' to blow up Motor Matt's friends along with us."

But the nine men with Sixty were of another way of thinking. Their only
hope had been the schooner, and, now that she had mysteriously taken to
flight, their next best plan was to fall in with the desires of their
captor--the gray-haired man in the submarine.

Together the nine swarthy sailors started toward Carl. Sixty endeavored
to drive them back, but they pointed revolvers at him and brandished
dangerous-looking knives. Baffled, and held at bay by superior numbers,
Sixty could only watch like an enraged panther while Carl was picked up
and lowered by means of a rope into one of the boats.

Dick, before he dropped over the side, ran into the cabin after the
log and manifest. Then, while Dick was getting down the side of the
derelict, another unexpected thing happened.

A trim launch, manned by six of Uncle Sam's sailors and carrying four
marines and a lieutenant, shot in between the brig and the submarine.

"Back, all!" shouted the lieutenant, and six oars pushed against the
rushing water in perfect unison, bringing the launch to a halt.

"What's going on here?" asked the lieutenant, standing up, his amazed
eyes wandering from the rowboat in which were Dick and Carl, then to
the panic-stricken men on the derelict, and finally to the submarine.

Captain Nemo, Jr., and Matt had climbed from the conning tower to the
deck of the _Grampus_, in readiness to give Dick a hand with Carl.

"They're threatenin' to blow us out of water with a torpedo," howled
Sixty.

The trap had been sprung, but the filibuster was hoping to brazen his
way through to freedom. But it was a forlorn hope.

"Where did you come from, Sixty?" demanded the lieutenant.

"I left New Orleans on the fruiter, _Santa Maria_," replied Sixty,
"goin' on a hunt for this here brig which was reported somewhere in
the track of steamers for Central America. A schooner from Belize was
waitin' for me, an' yesterday we sighted the schooner from the steamer
and I was put aboard. Then we went lookin' for the brig."

"Where's the schooner now?" inquired the lieutenant.

"She slipped away like a singed cat, a little while ago, and she's
purty nigh hull down."

"She left you and the rest of those men, together with the two boats,
behind?"

"That's the how of it."

"Then it must be that she saw us coming. If she'd been engaged in
honest business, Sixty, she'd have stayed right here. But she didn't
stay. You're treed, my man, and if there are not arms and ammunition in
that old hulk, I'm no prophet."

"There are, sir," called Dick. "I've been in the hold and there are
plenty of Krag-Jorgensens down there, and ammunition, too."

"Who are you?" demanded the lieutenant.

"I and my mate, here, got adrift from the _Santa Maria_ during that
storm, night before last. We've been on the wreck nearly two nights and
a day. Ran into her in the dark, caught a trailing rope and climbed
aboard."

"These are the lads you were looking for, captain?" asked the
lieutenant, turning to Captain Nemo, Jr.

"Yes," was the reply.

"Then you're in luck to find them. What was that shooting a while ago?
It was that that brought us in this direction."

"Sixty and a boat's crew," explained Dick, "tried to get on the brig.
My mate and I held 'em off with rifles, because we knew him for a
treacherous swab who had thrown our raggie, Motor Matt, over the rail
of the _Santa Maria_----"

"Did Sixty do that?" cut in the officer, sternly.

"Yes," spoke up Matt.

"Go on," proceeded the officer, laconically, turning to Dick.

"Well," went on Dick, "when Sixty found he couldn't board the brig, he
went back to the schooner. They had a bow chaser, and another small
cannon over the stern. They let drive at us, then rounded in on the
other side and let drive again, covering the movements of two boats'
crews who laid us aboard. The last shot splintered the bulwarks and
brought down my chum here."

"How badly is he hurt, Dick?" queried Matt.

"Stunned, that's all."

"A nice sort of schooner that is," muttered the officer, staring off to
sea. "If we hadn't had such important work here we might have followed
her and compelled her to heave to. You say there are rifles and
ammunition in the brig?" he added, to Dick.

"Yes; and they don't appear on the manifest."

"How do you know?"

"Here's the manifest and the log."

Dick held the documents out. At a word from the officer the launch was
driven alongside the rowboat, and the papers changed hands.

"Up on deck," the lieutenant said to the marines, "disarm those
scoundrels and make prisoners of them. Look well after Sixty. Two of
you boys come with me."

Two of the sailors dropped their oars and there was a scramble for the
brig's deck.

Dick, dropping down on a thwart, picked up two of the oars and pulled
the boat in which he and Carl found themselves over to the submarine.

"I'd about given you up, old chap!" exclaimed Matt as he seized Dick's
hand.

"There was a time, old ship," replied Dick, "when I'd about given
myself up. But all's well that ends well. If Carl proves to be only
stunned, as I feel sure he will, there's no great damage done for all
Sixty's treacherous planning."

Carl was taken below, Matt and Dick lifting him through the
conning-tower hatch, down the ladder, and then making him comfortable
on the locker in the periscope room.



CHAPTER XVI.

"OFF WITH THE OLD, AND ON WITH THE NEW."


Carl had been unconscious for a long time, and it was two hours before
Matt and Dick, working assiduously, succeeded in reviving him.

By that time, many things had happened. When Carl lifted himself
suddenly to a sitting position on the locker, he stared dazedly into
the faces of his two chums.

"How dit you come on der prig, Matt?" he asked.

"We're not on the brig, Carl," replied Matt, "but in the periscope room
of the _Grampus_."

"Dot's a funny pitzness! Der lasdt I knew I vas going down der hatch to
ged oudt oof der vay oof der shooding. Den someding hit me, und I vent
to shleep. Vat vas dot vat hit me, Tick?"

"It was a splinter, matey," replied Dick. "A solid shot tore up the
bulwarks of the brig and you were knocked over with a piece of wood."

"I t'ought id vas der site oof a house. How long ago vas dot?"

"About three hours, I should say."

"Shimineddy! Dree hours!"

Carl put up his hands and felt of the bandage about his head.

"How do you feel, Carl?" asked Matt.

"Pooty goot," was the answer; "pedder as some fellers vat vas oudt oof
der running for dree hours, I bed you. Vere dit der supmarine come
from, Matt?"

Matt explained at some length. Carl's wonder grew as he listened.

"Say, Tick," said he, "Matt und der odder fellers has peen doing
somet'ing der same as you und me. Hey?"

"I should say so!" exclaimed Dick. "If this submarine hadn't bobbed up
just when she did, you and I would have been in a jolly hard row of
stumps, matey."

Just then a tremendous roar was heard, and the submarine shook in every
part.

"Vat id iss?" cried Carl, showing symptoms of panic. "Iss dot schooner
come pack?"

"No, Carl," laughed Matt, "the schooner made a get-away. That's the
cruiser _Seminole_ doing that firing."

"Vat iss she firing ad?"

"At your brig. The boat is a derelict, and dangerous to shipping. The
cruiser is breaking her up."

"Dere vas some salfages to be got oudt oof dot prig," mourned Carl,
"und now id vill all go py der fishes. Oof dot poat couldt haf peen got
to port----"

"Which she couldn't, matey," put in Dick. "The pounding that schooner
gave her wrenched her badly."

"Dit dose fellers in der poats ged on der prig?" asked Carl, harking
back to the last thing he remembered.

"Well, I should say so!" answered Dick. "Sixty, and nine other
flatfoots."

"Dot makes sixdy-nine," bubbled Carl, happy, now that it was all over.
"Vat pecome oof dem?"

"They were taken to the cruiser and will be carried to the nearest port
and tried for their criminal deeds."

"Pully! Dot vas pedder as I t'ought!"

"The officers on the cruiser have a clear case against Sixty. The
lieutenant who went aboard the brig saw the rifles and ammunition with
his own eyes. He had the manifest and the log, and that settled Sixty's
case for him."

"I vonder vere iss Sixdy's niece, Miss Harris?"

Carl's sentimental thoughts would return to the girl.

"Belay, on that!" growled Dick. "The girl fooled us and got us into a
pretty mess of trouble. Sheer off on that subject."

"She wasn't Sixty's niece, but his daughter," explained Matt. "And she
was no more a relative of Captain Nemo, Carl, than you or I."

"Too pad, too pad! She has gone to Honturas, eh? Vell, I vish I vas
dere to hear vat she has to say for herseluf. Meppy she couldt oxblain."

Dick was disgusted.

"Vere iss Gaptain Nemo, Jr.?" was Carl's next question.

"A boat took him off to the cruiser for a talk with the captain," said
Matt.

At that moment some one could be heard springing to the rounded deck of
the submarine.

"All right, captain?" called a voice.

"All right, lieutenant," answered the voice of Captain Nemo, Jr. "Much
obliged to you."

A few moments later, the captain came down the tower hatch.

"All right, Carl?" he asked, reaching out his hand.

"Fine und tanty," answered Carl, grasping the hand cordially, "only I
vas a leedle mixed oop mit all vat has habbened."

"We were all a little mixed for a while," laughed Captain Nemo, Jr.
"But everything is as clear as day, now. Sixty will go back to New
Orleans and have a trial. I don't know what will be done to the rascals
with him, for they are from Central America, and will probably claim
the protection of their own country. The graceless scoundrels! They
belong to a pack of revolutionists, and Sixty was doing a little
filibustering. The suspicions of the government officials were entirely
correct. Through the aid of Motor Matt and his friends, the cruiser was
able to bag Sixty with the goods on, as the saying is."

"Did you have a talk with some of the prisoners, captain?" queried Matt.

"Yes, and a number of interesting things developed. Sixty and his men,
having cleared successfully from New Orleans with an illegal cargo,
ran into such rough weather in the gulf that they were compelled to
abandon the brig, fearing every moment that she would founder. Sixty
and his crew got away in the boats and were picked up by a vessel that
carried them to Tampa. While Sixty was in Tampa reports began to come
in regarding a dangerous derelict. The wreck answered the description
of the _Dolphin_, and Sixty cabled to the schooner, at some point in
Central America, to look up the derelict and report her position to
him. The schooner reported the latitude and longitude of the derelict
from Galveston, and her skipper received an answer from Sixty telling
him to lay by in the gulf along the course of the _Santa Maria_ so as
to take him off. After that Sixty and those on the schooner were to
try and work the brig, in jury rig, to a Mexican port, the schooner
first taking off the arms and ammunition. In case the brig couldn't be
saved, her contraband cargo was to be thrown overboard so as to avoid
discovery by the naval authorities.

"Motor Matt and his friends jumped into the game when that telegram was
received from Galveston. You all know how that worked out. I think this
is about the strangest cruise the _Grampus_ ever made--although, quite
likely, she is in for one equally as strange."

"Vat's dot?" queried Carl, pricking up his ears.

Matt and Dick were equally interested.

"I have heard something on the cruiser that makes it advisable for me
to proceed to Central America. The submarine can easily go that far
without returning to the nearest port for fresh supplies. I am under
sealed orders, and have only a hint as to what is required of me, but
I imagine that the new work has something to do with the business
that has just been accomplished. The question is, do you boys want
to go along? You all, especially Motor Matt, will be of invaluable
assistance, but I would not want that to influence you one way or the
other."

There was a moment of silence.

"If you do not think you can go," went on Captain Nemo, Jr., with an
under-note of disappointment in his voice, "I am to lay alongside the
cruiser and put you aboard of her. She will be busy with the brig for
the rest of the day."

"How long is the cruise to be, captain?" queried Matt.

"That is something I cannot tell," was the reply.

"To Central America?" asked Dick.

"Yes."

"What part?"

"I don't know, and will not find out until I open my sealed orders. Of
course, I don't belong to the navy, but this submarine, which is one
of the most successful long-cruising boats ever launched, places me
in a position to be of use to Uncle Sam. I have therefore placed the
boat and myself and crew at my country's service. If we perform well
our mission, then I shall be able to dispose of the _Grampus_, and all
my own individual patents, for a very large sum. In view of that, and
my firm belief that the next cruise will be a complete success, I can
offer you lads a fancy figure to go with me. What do you say?"

"Think you can stand it, Carl?" asked Matt.

"Shtand id?" cried Carl. "Vy, bard, I vas as goot as efer."

"What's your word, Dick?" asked Matt.

"I'll sign the articles," said Dick.

"And so will I," added Matt.

"Good!" exclaimed the captain, highly pleased. "Cassidy," he called to
the mate, who was below, "we'll lay a course south by west, as fast as
we can go. We're off for strange waters, and something worth while I am
confident."

"Off with the old and on with the new," laughed Matt. "It doesn't take
us long, eh, fellows?"


THE END.


THE NEXT NUMBER (16) WILL CONTAIN

MOTOR MATT'S QUEST

OR,

Three Chums in Strange Waters.

  In the Depths--Out of the Jaws of Death--Sealed Orders--The American
  Consul--Motor Matt's Forbearance--"On the Jump"--The Landing
  Party--Carl in Trouble--A Friend in Need--Strange Revelations--One
  Chance in Ten--By a Narrow Margin--Waiting for Something to
  Happen--Motor Matt's Great Play--On the Way to Belize--A Dash of
  Tabasco.



MOTOR STORIES

THRILLING ADVENTURE MOTOR FICTION

NEW YORK, June 5, 1909.

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The Chicken-hearted Tenderfoot.


"Yah! Call yourself a cowpuncher? And you can't even rope a yearling
colt, let alone do anything else! Take my tip, kid, and get back East
by the quickest route; we don't want the like of you in Montana.
There's too many good men round to make us have to keep you, doing
nothing for your board. Get off the ranch!" The foreman of the Cup and
Spur Ranch, never a man to spare the feelings of those under him, this
time surpassed himself in expressing his contempt for the youngster who
had earned his displeasure. The object of his scorn, a fresh-looking
lad of some eighteen years of age, returned the foreman's irate and
withering glance with one full of resentment, but entirely devoid of
fear.

"I told you I'd never worked on the ranges before," he said angrily,
"and you took me on under that knowledge. I never said I could rope a
colt, and now I've found out I can't--yet. Do you expect a man to do
everything for a miserable fifteen dollars a month? Oh, all right; I'll
get off the place, and be mighty glad to do so, too!" The foreman had
made a threatening gesture, as though he meant to teach this stripling
that his reputation as the bully of the district was not unfounded.

"So I've got the bounce, eh?" muttered Ted Macbain to his horse, as he
slowly rode away from the scene. "Well, perhaps the foreman's right,
and I'm no good on a ranch. Guess I'll have to get back to the old farm
in Minnesota. Just at present town's the place for me to make." And he
headed for Elk Creek, some twenty miles away.

"Wish I hadn't made such a fool of myself with that rope, just the
same," he told himself. "How the mischief do they make the beastly
thing go where they want it?" He unslung his lariat as he spoke to
himself, and, shaking its coils loose, swung the noose wide above his
head, fixing his eye on the stump of a tree he was passing. His horse
was traveling at a brisk canter, but he measured the distance with his
eye, and let the rope go on its way. It fell fair and true over the
stump, but he forgot to pull the horse in. The result was that he felt
a great jerk at his saddle, and the horse, shying, threw him violently
to the ground. He was half stunned by his fall, and he did not open his
eyes until a dim speck on the horizon was all that could be seen of the
animal he had been bestriding.

To catch the brute looked impossible, but as it was heading for the
town, and as it was likely it would be caught there, Ted did not feel
any anxiety on its behalf. The remaining ten miles would have to be
walked.

He had time to think things over for the next two or three hours. To
be candid, he had not been an absolute success in Montana, the land
where daredevil horsemanship and an utter disregard for human life are
the main essentials. He would have been far better off to have stayed
at home in Minnesota, where his father was a prosperous farmer. But
the confinement of that life jarred on him to such an extent that he
felt himself compelled to strike out for fresh scenes. A passionate
love for horses caused him to go to the horse-ranching State, where
he thought he would be able to give his passion full satisfaction.
Oh, what a disillusionment! He found that to treat horses kindly on
the ranges, where the animals, for the most part, had never looked
on man as anything but a cruel enemy, did not serve to win their
love. He could not bring himself to administer the brutal treatment
he saw other cowboys deliver, and was not afraid of expressing his
displeasure at their methods. This earned for him the sobriquet of "the
chicken-hearted tenderfoot," which name became a byword on the plains.
His most vehement denunciations of their behavior only served to create
mirth among the others. The foreman of the Cup and Spur Ranch--the
fifth ranch in six months on which Ted had tried his fortunes--was
loudest of all in his expressions of contempt, giving the youngster the
most objectionable jobs to perform out of pure malice. When he was told
to throw a year-old colt that had quite won the young fellow's heart,
as all colts did, he had had so little heart for the task that the
scene which opens this story was the result.

"Guess ranching isn't in my line," he told himself, as he trudged along
the prairie under the blazing, withering sun of an exceptionally hot
August. "It's all right to raise colts by hand, but to knock 'em about
as they do here goes for me too strongly."

It was very hot, as he soon began to discover, as the miles slowly
passed under his feet. He grew thirsty; the alkali dust, resultant of
a three weeks' drought, parched his throat until he decided that water
was the only thing in his life he needed at that moment. There was
no stream at hand. The only habitation near was a shack. He made for
this, and as he came closer he saw a well and bucket. As is the custom,
he did not trouble to inquire whether he might be allowed to partake
of the well's contents, but let down the bucket, and drew himself a
quantity of the cheerful, refreshing fluid, and drank his fill.

He poured the remainder of the pailful on the ground. As he did so
something glittered at his feet, something that was not water. He
stooped and picked it up. It was an American ten-dollar gold piece.

Perhaps it was none of his business, and perhaps he should have been
content to take the coin to the house and leave it there, so that the
owner would see it. But something recurred to him; he remembered that
he had felt a slight jerk as he hauled up the bucket, and his curiosity
was aroused. He glanced down the well; he saw that a ladder was set
there. He climbed down until he was close to the surface of the water.
There, set in a hole that had evidently been purposely cut out for
the purpose, was a bag full of coins similar to the one that he had
hauled up to the top. A slight rent in one corner, through which a coin
was peeping, showed him how his bucket had caused one to drop in. He
banished all further idea of considering himself inquisitive.

"There's something rocky about this," he said. "No one would hide gold
down a well if there wasn't something up. There's a bank at Elk Creek;
why wasn't it put there?"

He climbed to the surface of the ground again. That there was no one
around was apparent; the noise he had made would have been sure to
attract any one who had been in the house. His curiosity was now fully
aroused. He thought nothing of entering the shack, and of examining its
contents. He turned everything upside down in his search, but nothing
that would go to confirm any of his half-aroused suspicions could he
see. He was on the point of resuming his journey when a loose board
in the floor creaked under his foot. He lifted it, to expose a small
cavity, down which he felt with his hand. Something cold and hard met
his fingers, which he withdrew. It was a branding iron. That would not
have struck him as being at all out of the way if a casual glance had
not shown him that the iron bore a cup and spur--the brand of the ranch
from which he had just been discharged. He was puzzled. He knew that
all the irons that belonged to that ranch were in the charge of the
foreman, being delivered to the branders at each round-up. No man was
allowed to carry one except on these occasions, and the next round-up
would not take place for more than a month.

"Can't make head or tail of it," muttered the lad. "Is it that---- By
thunder, I have it! There are horse thieves around here! They must have
started their work since last round-up, and it hasn't been found out
yet. They've been stealing unbranded colts, and been putting a mark on
'em. But why should they use the cup and spur? It gets me, sure."

And that was as far as he could get to a solution of the problem.

       *       *       *       *       *

"I don't know whether there's anything in it, but I found this iron in
a shack about five miles north of here," said Ted. "Seems to me there's
something fishy about it, though I might be mistaken."

He was speaking to the sheriff at Elk Creek, who took the iron and
examined it closely. No light of understanding dawned on that worthy's
face for the moment.

"Guess it must be an old one that's been thrown away," was all he could
suggest.

"It doesn't look too old," returned the lad. "It's new enough to make
a pretty good brand yet, anyway. Looks to me as though it wasn't being
used fairly. Hobson, the foreman of the Cup and Spur, should have all
these locked up at this time of the year. Have there been any horses
shipped away from this district lately?"

"Why, yes; the Cup and Spur outfit sent a bunch of spring colts East
only six weeks ago. Struck me as they were rather young to go, but I
didn't trouble about it. 'Twas none of my business."

"But Mr. Knowles, the boss of that ranch, doesn't believe in shipping
away so soon."

The sheriff began to understand.

"I see what you're driving at now, kid," he said, "and I'm beginning
to agree with you. Those colts that were shipped away weren't Cup
and Spur stock at all! They were rustled and branded with that mark,
so's suspicion wouldn't fall on any one. No one would believe Knowles
capable of stealing, and no questions would be asked."

"Well, that point's pretty well settled," went on Ted. "Next thing is,
who's rustling 'em?"

"Got me again," said the sheriff laconically.

"Well, what do you say if we do a little work? I've got an idea that
may be worth something. Let's go back to the Cup and Spur Ranch and
make inquiries."

The sheriff complied with him. Together they rode southward, Ted having
found his horse when he arrived at Elk Creek. The first man they met on
their arrival at their destination was Hobson.

"What?" shouted the foreman. "Back again already? Didn't I tell you to
get out?"

"You did," said Ted coolly. "Also, you said something about my being no
good on a ranch. What do you say to a foreman who leaves branding irons
lying about when they ought to be safely put away?"

Hobson started.

"What are you getting at?" he asked with a grin, but with an uneasy
glance at Sheriff Walton. "Who's leaving irons about?"

Ted produced the article.

"This should be in your care," he said, showing it. Hobson held out his
hand eagerly. Ted drew the iron out of reach.

"No," he said; "I think we'll keep it now. The sheriff wants it for
evidence should anything crop up. It's my belief that next round-up'll
show a few things in the way of colts being missed."

Hobson paled, his face working nervously.

"Give it to me," he shouted, with a poor attempt at anger. Ted's lips
curled scornfully.

"It's not mine to give," he said. "Ask Walton here; perhaps he will,
though I don't think so. By the way, he says a carload of colts were
shipped off lately, bearing the brand of this ranch. Know anything
about them?"

A sound like a snarl burst from the foreman's lips. He whipped his hand
to his belt, but Ted had him covered with his own revolver first.

"Don't get mad like that," he said. "I only asked you a question. Come,
now! Put your hand away from your belt! You're not my boss now, I'll
have you know!"

Hobson complied, and allowed Walton to relieve him of his weapon.

"We won't do anything over this," said Ted, as he prepared to take
his departure. "But we'll watch things a bit for the next few weeks.
Perhaps you'll see that the chicken-hearted tenderfoot isn't such
a fool as you take him for." He could not resist the temptation of
dealing this thrust.

For the next few days a careful watch was kept on Jake Hobson. The
sheriff had come to share Ted's suspicions, which were briefly that the
foreman had more than a little to do with horse thieving. But no proof
could be brought forward; the only thing to do was to wait for another
haul to be made, catch the thief or thieves, and drag them before a
judge.

A visit was paid to the lonely shack where Ted had found the gold on
the occasion of his dismissal. No search could discover any evidence,
and, though the money was seized by Walton, they had to return baffled.

In spite of Ted's suspicions, the sheriff soon began to lose faith in
the idea that Hobson was the culprit, and, as nothing showed itself,
Ted found himself wondering if he were not mistaken, after all.

Inquiries told him, at the very commencement of the fall round-up, that
several mares that were known to have had colts in the earlier part of
the spring, were now without. It was discovered that the Cup and Spur
Ranch had not lost any; a further proof, in Ted's mind, that Hobson
knew more than he would tell.

But there was something else, of which Ted never dreamed. A plot was in
the making for a wholesale theft and stampede of colts and horses.

It was by mere chance that Ted and Walton paid a visit to the Cup and
Spur one evening, when all the stock of that ranch were rounded up and
safe in the corrals. Walton found out that Knowles was away at Butte,
seeing about the sale of a bunch of four-year olds. This gave Ted an
idea that something might happen, and, though they took pains to show
that they had left the ranch, they took good care not to let Hobson see
that they had returned on their tracks. They waited in the shelter of a
bluff until evening fell--waited for they hardly knew what.

They did not wait long after dark. Soon they heard the rumble of hoofs
coming from the ranch.

"By gosh! He's done it, after all!" yelled the sheriff delightedly.
"Bully for you, kid! You've got brains!"

"But what are we going to do about it?" asked the lad, who, afire as
he was with the excitement, had thought nothing of the difficulty that
faced him. "Can we stop 'em?"

"We'll have a try, you bet," replied Walton, drawing his revolver, and
twisting the cylinder to see that it was fully loaded.

The sound of the stampede was drawing nearer and nearer. The two in the
bluff mounted their horses, and rode straight for it. There was only
one man driving the herd. Ted easily recognized him as the foreman of
the ranch. Every suspicion he had formed was fully founded.

Walton, as soon as the stampede came abreast, fired three shots from
his revolver, hoping to check them. They half served the purpose,
but there was a man urging them on who was worth more than a mere
consideration. As soon as Hobson saw that his plan was known to others,
bullets began to whistle round Ted's and the sheriff's heads at an
alarming rate. One bullet caught the hindquarters of the boy's horse,
inflicting a maddening, scorching wound that made the brute grip the
bit fiercely in its teeth, swerve to the right, and bolt headlong, in
spite of the lad's frantic efforts to check its flight. Another shot
struck the leader of the herd of bronchos, not seriously wounding
it, but driving it crazy with rage, pain, and fear. It, too, wheeled
half about, and followed close on the lad's tracks, the whole herd
stampeding after it. Shrill neighs filled the air, making it hideous
with the tumult. More shots were fired between the sheriff and the
foreman. Ted could not notice any of the events that were occurring
near him. His whole attention was centred on his efforts to hold his
animal in and maintain his seat.

Ted's horse was quite unmanageable. Straight ahead, never swerving,
with a hundred more pounding behind him, man and horse rushed. It soon
became apparent that it was more than a runaway for Ted; it was a race
for life. Those fear-consumed, mad, unreasoning brutes behind him were
heedless of the fact that a man was in front. Without heed of the
direction in which he was going, the lad spurred his horse, hoping to
keep safely ahead--not trying now to check its career. He knew that to
turn aside was impossible. All he cared for was to keep ahead. And, in
spite of the extra burden his beast was carrying, the pursuers gained
nothing on him.

Fear filled the lad's heart. If it had been an ordinary death that
threatened him, he would have faced it bravely enough; but the thought
of being ground to death beneath the hoofs of those equine fiends
behind him terrorized him until he almost lost sense of everything but
his desire to escape.

It would have frightened any man. The weird shrieks, the bellows-like
breathing of his own and of the other horses, the hollow, muffled,
pounding of hoofs on the hard, sun-baked prairie, the whistle of the
wind about his ears, all combined to make his brain reel. He thought
nothing of what was ahead, until it was nearly too late.

Nearly--not quite!

He had a dim recollection of a feeling, a foreboding that all was not
right in front. The pale glimmer of the moon made the earth appear as
though it suddenly dropped away into nothingness. Like a flash it came
home to him that he was close to the edge of Rushing Cañon, a great
cleft, dropping to a depth of five hundred feet, sheer to the bottom,
where a roaring torrent raged.

Something like a moan passed his lips. He felt himself wondering which
would be the better death: to have the life stamped out of him, or to
be dashed to pieces below.

He had only a hundred yards to go--seventy-five--fifty! Thirty! The
stampede was not a hundred feet behind him. Another minute, and he
would be falling. He tugged once again at the reins, but he might as
well have pulled at a stump. Another moan broke from him; he kicked
his feet free from the stirrups, gave a mad spring outward, and fell
headlong to the ground. His horse made a struggle to stop itself,
failed, and went hurtling through space.

Ted scrambled to his feet. Five yards ahead of him was the cañon; ten
yards behind him the stampede. He would die by the former!

He ran, ran like the wind, toward the drop.

He never could tell what happened in the next few moments. A horrid din
filled his ears. He felt himself falling, and mechanically threw out
his hands. He caught something--he knew not what--and hung, suspended
between heaven and earth. Some dark shapes seemed to hurtle past his
head, overhead, all around him. Terrified, shrill snorts and neighs
were all that he could hear, save the queer buzzing that was in his
head. But he gripped the support that had saved him, and hung on, half
unconsciously, his nerves and sinews strained nigh to breaking point.

Then all was quiet overhead. He looked up, wondering dully that he was
still alive, and not, as he had expected to be, a smashed, battered
mass, on the rocks five hundred feet below.

Painfully, gaspingly, he drew himself upward. Though he thought he
had fallen a long distance before he saved himself, he really had not
dropped more than his own length. What he had caught and held was
nothing more nor less than a sturdy weed, growing on the extreme edge
of the cañon. He pulled himself to earth and safety again. His feet
felt solid ground. Then his head swam, his limbs tottered, he reeled,
and fell heavily, his arms hanging over the edge, unconscious. The
reaction had set in, and he had fainted.

He was found half an hour later by Sheriff Walton, who, partly guided
by the sound of the stampede, and partly through knowledge of the
country, came close to the figure of the prostrate lad. He set about
bringing him back to life, and his efforts were rewarded by seeing
Ted's eyes open. The lad stared, and then recollection came back to
him, for he shuddered violently, and pointed shakingly to the awful
depths below.

"They went over there!" he gasped, "and I nearly did so, too. I don't
know what saved me."

"But you are saved," was the reply, "and that's the main thing."

"And about Hobson?" asked the lad, when his brain had sufficiently
cleared to think of other things beyond his own awful narrow escape
from a double danger.

"Hobson won't steal any more horses," said the sheriff grimly.

"Is he dead?"

Walton nodded, but said nothing.

"Did you kill him?" Ted shuddered at the thought. To take human life
was terrible to him.

"It was a fair fight, lad," said the sheriff. "If I hadn't done so,
he'd have nailed me. In fact, I don't know how he missed me. I emptied
my gun, and then closed with him. In the struggle his own gun went off,
and the bullet went through his heart. A bad end for a bad man; but
only justice."

It was discovered later that Walton needed an assistant. And so Ted did
not go back to Minnesota after all. He might not have been much good as
a cowboy, but Walton now thinks he cannot do without him to help in his
work of keeping law and order in the district.



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  409--Buffalo Bill and the Red Hand; or, The Ranch of Mystery.

  410--Buffalo Bill's Tree-Trunk Drift; or, The Cold Game "Gent" from
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  411--Buffalo Bill and the Spectre; or, A Queer Layout in Spook Cañon.

  412--Buffalo Bill and the Red Feathers; or, The Pard Who Went Wrong.

  413--Buffalo Bill's King Stroke; or, Old Fire-top's Finish.

  414--Buffalo Bill, the Desert Cyclone; or, The Wild Pigs of the
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  322--Always to the Front; or, For Fun and Fortune. By Cornelius Shea.

  323--Caught in a Trap; or, The Great Diamond Case. By Harrie Irving
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  324--For Big Money; or, Beating His Way to the Pacific. By Fred
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  325--Muscles of Steel; or, The Boy Wonder. By Weldon J. Cobb.

  326--Gordon Keith in Zululand; or, How "Checkers" Held the Fort. By
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  327--The Boys' Revolt; or, Right Against Might. By Harrie Irving
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  328--The Mystic Isle; or, In Peril of His Life. By Fred Thorpe.

  329--A Million a Minute; or, A Brace of Meteors. By Weldon J. Cobb.

  330--Gordon Keith Under African Skies; or, Four Comrades in the
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  331--Two Chums Afloat; or, The Cruise of the "Arrow." By Cornelius
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  332--In the Path of Duty; or, The Fortunes of Officer Dan Deering. By
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  333--A Bid for Fortune; or, True as Steel. By Fred Thorpe.

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  1--Motor Matt; or, The King of the Wheel.

  2--Motor Matt's Daring; or, True To His Friends.

  3--Motor Matt's Century Run; or, The Governor's Courier.

  4--Motor Matt's Race; or, The Last Flight of the "Comet."

  5--Motor Matt's Mystery; or, Foiling a Secret Plot.

  6--Motor Matt's Red Flier; or, On The High Gear.

  7--Motor Matt's Clue; or, The Phantom Auto.

  8--Motor Matt's Triumph; or, Three Speeds Forward.

  9--Motor Matt's Air-Ship; or, The Rival Inventors.

  10--Motor Matt's Hard Luck; or, The Balloon House Plot.

  11--Motor Matt's Daring Rescue; or, The Strange Case of Helen Brady.

  12--Motor Matt's Peril; or, Castaway in the Bahamas.


_For sale by all newsdealers, or will be sent to any address on receipt
of price, 5 cents per copy, in money or postage stamps, by_

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ADVENTURES OF A BOY GENIUS

MOTOR STORIES


The boys who want to learn something from what they read, as well
as to be interested by it, will never find another publication that
will satisfy them so well as MOTOR STORIES. "Motor Matt" is not an
impossible boy character. He is simply a youth who has had considerable
training in a machine shop where motors of all kinds were repaired,
and who is possessed of a genius for mechanics. His sense of right and
wrong is strongly developed, and his endeavors to insure certain people
a square deal, lead him into a series of the most astonishing, but at
the same time the most natural adventures that ever befell a boy.

_HERE ARE THE TITLES NOW READY_:

  1--Motor Matt; or, The King of the Wheel.
  2--Motor Matt's Daring; or, True to His Friends.
  3--Motor Matt's Century Run; or, The Governor's Courier.
  4--Motor Matt's Race; or, The Last Flight of the "Comet."
  5--Motor Matt's Mystery; or, Foiling a Secret Plot.
  6--Motor Matt's Red Flier; or, On the High Gear.
  7--Motor Matt's Clue; or, The Phantom Auto.
  8--Motor Matt's Triumph; or, Three Speeds Forward.
  9--Motor Matt's Air Ship; or, The Rival Inventors.
  10--Motor Matt's Hard Luck; or, The Balloon House Plot.
  11--Motor Matt's Daring Rescue; or, The Strange Case of Helen Brady.
  12--Motor Matt's Peril; or, Cast Away in the Bahamas.

To be Published on May 17th.

  13--Motor Matt's Queer Find; or, The Secret of the Iron Chest.

To be Published on May 24th.

  14--Motor Matt's Promise; or, The Wreck of the "Hawk."

To be Published on May 31st.

  15--Motor Matt's Submarine; or, The Strange Cruise of the "Grampus."

To be Published on June 7th.

  16--Motor Matt's Quest; or, Three Chums in Strange Waters.


PRICE, FIVE CENTS

At all newsdealers, or sent, postpaid, by the publishers upon receipt
of the price.

  STREET & SMITH,      _Publishers_,      NEW YORK



Transcriber's Notes:


Added table of contents.

Italics are represented with _underscores_, bold with =equal signs=.

Corrected several apparent single quotes to double quotes; these may
have been typos or simply light printing on the original.

Retained inconsistent spelling of "gasolene" / "gasoline" from original.

Page 6, changed "rturning" to "returning" ("returning the parting
salutes"). Added missing comma to "Carl, brightening."

Page 7, corrected "Townsand's" to "Townsend's" ("Uncle Archie
Townsend's").

Page 8, changed "Ooof" to "Oof" ("Oof ve ged to Honturas").

Page 11, changed "entred" to "entered" ("entered the periscope").

Page 12, changed "binoculers" to "binoculars" ("handing Matt a pair of
binoculars").

Page 13, changed "itno" to "into" ("crowded into the little messroom").

Page 14, added missing quotes before "The fust officer" and "Vy iss
dot?"

Page 22, added missing quote after "Ve don'd surrenter?"

Page 23, changed "Dick" to "Matt" after "Meanwhile."

Page 24, added missing "to" and changed "learing" to "learning" in
"speak to her, on the possible chance of learning."

Page 26, changed "your" to "you" in "Two of you boys come with me."





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