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- The Rover Boys on the Great Lakes - 33/37 -


Tom said no more, but his heart sank like a lump of lead in his breast. The talk of a ship being in sight must be a hoax, unless Crabtree referred to the _Peacock_.

The Baxters had a small bit of rope remaining, and with this they tied Tom's hands behind him. Then he was made to march to where Sam was a prisoner.

"What, Tom! you too?" cried the youngest Rover. And then he felt worse than ever, for he had hoped that his brother might come to his rescue.

Both boys were tied to the trees, but at some distance apart. Then, without delay, the Baxters and Josiah Crabtree hurried off toward the _Wellington_. The Baxters had heard that the boat was not much damaged, and thought that it might be possible to patch her up sufficiently to reach the mainland, and to do this ere Dick Rover and his party discovered them. For the _Peacock_ and Langless Arnold Baxter now cared but little.

"She has left the bay," he said to Dan, "and more than likely has abandoned us."

The Canadians were surprised to see Josiah Crabtree returning with two strangers, and Mrs. Stanhope uttered a shriek when confronted by the Baxters.

"I must be dreaming," she murmured, when she had recovered sufficiently to speak. "How came you here?"

"We are not answering questions just now, madam," said Arnold Baxter. "We wish to patch up this boat if we can, and at once," and he called the Canadians to him.

As can be imagined, the sailors were dumfounded, especially when told that the Rover boys would not be back, at least for the present. They shook their heads.

"Ze ship cannot be patched up," said Peglace. "Ze whole bottom ees ready to fall out."

Arnold Baxter would not believe him, and armed with lanterns he and Dan went below to make an examination.

"What does this mean?" demanded Mrs. Stanhope of Crabtree, when they were left alone. "What have you done with the Rover boys?"

"Do not worry about them, my dear," said the former teacher soothingly. "All will come right in the end."

Then he began to look at her steadily, in an endeavor to bring her once more under his hypnotic influence. But, without waiting, she ran off and refused to confront him again.

"Follow me and I will leap into the lake," she cried, and fearful she would commit suicide, he let her alone.

The examination below decks lasted nearly an hour, and was far from satisfactory to Arnold Baxter. He felt that the _Wellington_ might be patched up, but the work would take at least several days, and there was no telling what would happen in the meantime.

"Dick Rover and his party are sure to find us Before that time," said Dan.

"I am afraid so, Dan. But I know of nothing better to do than to remain here."

"We might find the _Peacock_ and make a new deal with Captain Langless."

"Langless is a weak-hearted fool, and I'll never trust him again. We would have done much better had we hired a small boat which we could ran alone."

"But what shall we do, dad?"

"I think we had best go into hiding in the interior of the island. We can take a store of provisions along from this boat."

"Shall we take the Rovers with us?"

"We may as well. We can't let them starve, and by holding them prisoners we may be able to make terms with Dick Rover and his friends."

"That's an idea. I reckon Dick will do a lot rather than see Tom and Sam suffer."

"To be sure."

"Where do you suppose Dick Rover and his friends are now?"

"Somewhere around the island, although I have seen nothing of their boat."

By noon the Baxters had completed their plans and left the boat, carrying with them a load of provisions wrapped up in a sheet of canvas. They invited Josiah Crabtree to go with them, but that individual declined.

"I cannot take Mrs. Stanhope along," he said, "and I will not desert the lady."

"As you please," replied Arnold Baxter.

"What are you going to do with Tom and Sam Rover?"

"Take them with us. If you see anything of Dick Rover, don't say anything about us."

"I don't wish to see Dick Rover," answered Josiah Crabtree nervously.

"If the Dick Rover party leaves the island, we'll come back," put in Dan. "In the meantime, if I was you, I'd lay low."

Soon the Baxters were out of sight, and then Josiah Crabtree turned to have another talk with Mrs. Stanhope, in the meantime setting the Canadians on guard, to watch for and hail any passing sail which might appear.

In his wandering on the island Arnold Baxter had stumbled across a convenient cave near the headland where he had encountered Sam Rover, and thither father and son now made their way.

The cave gained they put down their bundles, which included a quantity of rope, and then started for the headland to bring in Tom and Sam.

The headland gained, a surprise awaited than. Both boys had disappeared.

CHAPTER XXVIII.

THE BAXTERS TALK IT OVER,

"Tom, we are in a fix."

"So it would seem, Sam. Who ever dreamed of running across the Baxters in this fashion?"

"We are in the hands of a trio of rascals now, for Crabtree is as bad as the others."

"Perhaps, but he hasn't the nerve that Arnold Baxter has. What shall we do?"

"Try to get free."

"I can't budge an inch. Dan Baxter took especial delight in tying me up."

"I can move one hand and if--It is free! Hurrah!"

"Can you get the other hand free?"

"I can try. The rope--that's free, too. Now for my legs."

Sam Rover worked rapidly, and was soon as free as ever. Then he ran over to where Tom was tied up and liberated his brother.

"Now, what shall we do?"

"I move we go after the people on that steam tug and get them to help us rescue Mrs. Stanhope."

"That's a good idea, and the quicker we go the better."

Sam remembered very well in what direction he had seen the tug, and now set a straight course across the island to the cove.

But the trail led over a hill and through a dense thicket, and long before the journey was half finished both lads were well-nigh exhausted.

"We ought to have followed the shore around--we would have got there quicker," panted Tom, as he fairly cut his way through the dense brush- wood.

"I hope there are no wild animals here."

"I doubt if there is anything very large on the island. If so, we would have seen it before this."

So speaking, they pushed on once more. The woods passed, they came to a swamp filled with long grass. They hurried around this, and then into the forest skirting the lake shore.

At last the cove came into sight. Alas! the steam tug was nowhere to be seen.

"She has gone!" groaned Sam. "Oh, what luck!

"I can't see a sign of her anywhere?" returned Tom. "She must have steamed away right after you came down the tree."

"More than likely."


The Rover Boys on the Great Lakes - 33/37

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