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- The Motor Boys on the Pacific - 20/31 -

"We're not going far, and we'll keep near shore," replied Jerry. "It does act as if it was going to blow a bit, but I guess it will not amount to much."

There was quite a swell on as they got further out, and the Ripper rolled some, but the boys and girls were too good sailors to mind that.

"I wonder if we'll meet Mr. Blowitz again," came from Nellie, after a period of silence. "He's always turning up most unexpectedly."

"I don't believe we'll see him to-night," said Ned. "What do you think he wanted of us? Shall I tell 'em, Jerry?"

"Might as well, I'm going to tell Mr. Seabury as soon as I see him."

Thereupon Ned related the interview with Carson Blowitz, and the latter's desire to have the boys search for the derelict Rockhaven.

"I hope you don't go," spoke Nellie.

"Why not?" asked Bob.

"Because-- well, because," and she laughed a little uneasily.

"That's just like a girl," remarked Jerry, good-naturedly. "They don't want you to do a thing, but they can't tell you why."

"Well, it's just an uneasy feeling I have toward Mr. Blowitz, that's all," went on Nellie. "I can't explain it, but I feel, whenever I am near him, that he is planning something mean, or that he is up to some trick."

"Well, it's just how I feel," declared Rose, and Olivia admitted that she, too, did not trust the man.

"Well, we haven't decided to go," said Jerry, "and we're going to have a talk with your father about it. I admit I'd like to make the trip and find the brig, but, as you say, I don't quite trust Blowitz."

"Oh!" suddenly exclaimed Rose, as a wave, larger than any that had preceded it, sent a shower of spray over the boat. "Don't go out any farther, Jerry. It's getting quite rough."

"Yes, I guess it is," admitted the steersman, as he put the boat about. "There's quite a swell on. Wouldn't wonder but we'd have a storm by morning, though it's bright enough overhead. I don't believe Ponto is a good prophet."

There were only a few clouds in the sky, and the moon was shining down like a big silver disk, making objects unusually bright, for the southern moonlight is wonderful.

Jerry put the boat over near shore, and steered along the coast, which, at that point was quite rocky, cliffs rising here and there to a considerable height above the water.

"Look out you don't run her on the rocks again," cautioned Ned.

"I'll be careful," replied Jerry. "Maybe you want to run her a while. I don't want to be the whole show."

Ned was glad of the chance to take the wheel, and he and Jerry changed places. They were proceeding at slow speed, the girls occasionally humming the chorus of a song, and the boys joining in when they knew the air. The beauty of the night, the fine boat, and delight of moving along with scarcely a sound, had them all under a sort of magic spell, and they felt they could thus go on forever.

It was when they came opposite a range of low cliffs, close to the water's edge, that Bob suddenly called out in a low voice:

"Look at the men on the rocks!"

"Where?" asked Jerry.

"Over there," and Bob pointed. Ned steered the boat nearer to where two black figures, sharply outlined in the moonlight, could be seen in bold relief on the cliff.

"They are men, sure enough," replied Jerry, "but you needn't get excited over it."

"I'm not," went on Bob. "Only one of them is Mr. Blowitz, that's all."

"Mr. Blowitz?" queried Jerry sharply.

"Hush! He'll hear you," cautioned Rose. "Sounds carry very easily over water."

"It is Mr. Blowitz," admitted Jerry. "I wonder what he's doing out here."

"Probably getting some more information about the brig Rockhaven," suggested Ned. "Maybe that's a seaman who has some news of her."

By this time the motor boat was quite close to the two men, who, however, did not seem to notice the Ripper. There was no question about the identity of Mr. Blowitz. The other man was a stranger to the boys and girls. The two were apparently talking earnestly, and, occasionally Mr. Blowitz could be seen to be gesticulating violently.

"He's mad about something," declared Ned.

"It does look so," agreed Rose.

All at once the boys saw Blowitz take a step toward the other man, who retreated, as if afraid. Blowitz raised his hand as though to give a blow.

"Look out!" cried Ned involuntarily, as if the man could hear him. "You'll go over the cliff!"

With a quick motion he turned the boat, steering toward the foot of the rock, above which the men stood.

At that instant a black cloud came over the moon and the scene was plunged in darkness. It was just as if it had been blotted out, and a murmur of surprise, at the suddenness of it, came from those in the Ripper.

At the same instant a cry rang out-- a man's cry-- and it seemed to be one for help.



"QUICK!" called Jerry. "Put us over there, Ned!"

"I will! Something has happened. I wonder--"

"Oh, why doesn't the moon come out from behind that cloud," exclaimed Rose, for she and the other girls were nervously afraid.

"Maybe they have both toppled over the cliff," suggested Nellie.

"More likely only one of them did," said Bob. "I only heard one cry. What's the matter, Ned?"

"Something's gone wrong with the engine."

"Here, let me have a look," called Jerry, and he went to the cockpit.

There was a lantern aboard, and, by the light of it, Jerry saw that one of the battery wires, leading to a spark plug, had become loosened, breaking the circuit, and preventing the gas from exploding in the cylinders. He soon had it fixed and the engine started, sending the boat toward shore.

By this time the moon was out again, flooding the scene with radiance. Eagerly the boys and girls looked toward the spot on the cliffs, where the odd scene had taken place. To their surprise they saw Mr. Blowitz standing there, and they were close enough to note that he was smoking a cigar.

"Well!" exclaimed Nellie, for that was all she could say, so great was her astonishment.

"Guess nothing happened after all," added Ned. "We have had our fright for nothing."

"There certainly was another man there," declared Jerry, "and he's gone now."

"And I'm certain I heard a cry for help," said Bob.

"We all heard a cry," admitted Jerry, "but it might have been a call for a boatman, or something like that. However--"

He did not finish what he was going to say for, at that instant, Blowitz heard the noise of the approaching motor boat. The muffler. was not working just right, and the usually noiseless engine of the Ripper was making quite a fuss. Blowitz was in a listening attitude, standing in bold relief in the moonlight, and, having, apparently, satisfied himself as to where the boat was, he started to descend the cliff.

"He's coming down," said Ned.

"Is that the Ripper?" called Blowitz suddenly.

"Yes," replied Jerry, wondering how the man knew.

"I thought I recognized her engine. Are you coming ashore? If you are, I'd like to speak to you."

"We're coming," answered Ned.

"Don't come too close then, for there are dangerous rocks. Make for that little point up there," and the man pointed so that the boys could see where he meant. "There's deep water right up to the edge. It's a sort of natural dock, but go slow. I'll meet you there, I want to tell you something."

"Shall we ask him about the man?" inquired Bob in a low voice.

"No, don't," advised Nellie quickly. "It might make trouble. See what he has to say, and then let's hurry home. I'm afraid of him."

The Motor Boys on the Pacific - 20/31

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