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- The Motor Boys on the Pacific - 30/31 -
"It must have been the water cask," declared Jerry, who had seen it on deck, and his theory, which was the correct one, was accepted.
"Now I will finish working the combination, and open the safe," said Mr. De Vere, when they had breathed in deep of the fresh air, and felt the last influences of the fumes vanish. "We must have been unconscious an hour or more."
It did not take him long after this to open the strong box. From an inner compartment he drew forth a bundle of papers, and a small box, that seemed quite heavy. This he opened.
"The gold is safe, at any rate," he announced. "Now to look at the papers."
A hasty examination of these showed that they were all there.
"This is good news for me, boys," announced Mr. De Vere. "My fortune is safe now, and that scoundrel Blowitz can not ruin me as he tried to do!"
"Hark! What was that?" asked Jerry suddenly.
From somewhere out on the Pacific there sounded a whistle, long drawn out.
"It's a steamer!" cried Ned. "It has probably sighted the derelict!"
"A steamer," murmured Mr. De Vere. "If it is not--"
He did not finish, but the boys knew what he meant.
Mr. De Vere hastily thrust the papers into an inner pocket of his coat.
"Distribute the gold among you," he told the boys. "When we get it aboard the Ripper we can hide it. There is no telling what might happen. If that steamer--"
"It's the tug Monarch!" cried Jerry, who had hurried up on deck. "It's coming this way full speed!"
"Then we must leave at once!" decided Mr. De Vere. "I think our boat can beat theirs. I did hope to be able to tow the brig into harbor, and save the cargo, but that is out of the question now. I do not want a fight with Blowitz. Come, boys, we must escape!"
The boys hurriedly divided the gold among them. It made their pockets bulge out, and was quite heavy. Mr. De Vere had his papers safe.
As the derelict hunters all came out on deck they could see the Monarch was much nearer. In bold relief stood a figure in the bow.
"It's Blowitz!" exclaimed Mr. De Vere, "and he's shaking his fist at me. He's angry because I have beaten him at his own game. But come on, I don't want a clash with him. I am in no shape for another fight. We'll have to retreat."
It was the work of but a few seconds to get into the motor boat. The lines were cast off, and, with one turn of the wheel Ned started the engine, and ran her up to full speed after a few revolutions.
"Now let them have the brig," said Mr. De Vere. "I've gotten the best out of her."
But Blowitz and his men seemed to have lost interest in the derelict. Instead of continuing on their course toward it they were now coming full speed after the Ripper, the tug being steered to cross her bows. Probably Blowitz took it for granted that De Vere had the papers and gold.
"They're after us!" cried Jerry.
"Yes, but they've got to catch us!" declared Bob.
An instant later a puff of white smoke spurted out from the side of the Monarch, something black jumped from wave-crest to wave-crest. Then came a dull boom.
"What's that?" asked Bob, in alarm.
"A shot across our bows. A command to lay to," said Mr. De Vere.
THE END OF BLOWITZ-- CONCLUSION
"ARE you going to stop?" asked Ned, of Maurice De Vere.
"Not unless you boys are afraid. I don't believe they can hit us. That's only a small saluting cannon they have, and it's hard to shoot straight when there's as much sea on as there is now. Do you want to stop and surrender?"
"Not much!" cried the three motor boys in a breath.
"Then may it be a stern chase and a long chase!" exclaimed Mr. De Vere. "Crowd her all you can, Ned, and we'll beat him."
Ned needed no urging to make the powerful motor do its best. The machinery was throbbing and humming, and the Ripper was cutting through the water "with a bone in her teeth," as the sailors say.
"Swing her around so as to get the tug in back of us," advised Jerry. "We'll be in less danger then."
Ned shifted the wheel, but, as he was doing so there was another shot from the Monarch, and, this time, the ball from the cannon came uncomfortably close.
"Their aim is improving," remarked Mr. De Vere, as he coolly looked at the pursuing tug through the glasses, "but we are leaving them behind."
The chase had now become a "stern" one, that is the Monarch was directly astern of the Ripper, and the varying progresses made by the boats could not be discerned so well as before. Still it seemed that the motor boat was maintaining her lead.
It now settled down to a pursuit, for, stern on as she was, the Ripper offered so small a mark for the tug, that it was almost useless to fire the cannon.
There were anxious hearts aboard the motor boat, as they watched the tug pursuing them. They knew there would be a fight if Blowitz and Mr. De Vere met, and, in the latter's crippled condition, it was not hard to imagine how it would result.
"How's she running, Ned?" asked Jerry, as he looked at the engine.
"Never better. She's singing like a bird. This is a dandy boat."
"I think we'll beat him," declared Mr. De Vere.
For an hour or more the chase continued, the Monarch seeming to gain slowly. Mr. De Vere looked anxious, and kept his eyes fixed to the binoculars, through which he viewed the pursuing vessel. At length, however, a more cheerful look came into his face.
"Something has happened!" he exclaimed.
"Happened? How?" asked Jerry.
"Why aboard the tug. Blowitz went off the deck in a hurry, and the steersman has left the pilot house. Maybe something is wrong with the machinery."
That something of this nature had happened was evident a few minutes later, for the Monarch had to slow up, and the Ripper was soon so far in advance that to catch up with her was out of the question.
"I guess the chase is over," announced Mr. De Vere. "I think they've had an accident. Still Blowitz will not give up. I must expect a legal battle over this matter when I get ashore. He will try to ruin me, and claim these papers and the gold. But I will beat him."
The Ripper, urged on by her powerful motor, soon lost sight of the tug, which, from the last observation Mr. De Vere took, seemed to have turned about, to go back to the brig.
Two days later, having made quick time, and on a straight course, the voyagers sighted the harbor of San Felicity a few miles away.
"Now for home!" cried Ned.
"And the bungalow 'The Next Day,' Ponto and a good square meal!" added Bob.
"And the girls," came from Jerry. "I guess they'll be glad to see us."
"If Blowitz doesn't turn up to make trouble for me," put in Mr. De Vere, rather dubiously.
The Ripper docked that afternoon, and, Mr. De Vere, promising to call on the boys and pay them their prize money as soon as he had seen his lawyer, and deposited the gold and papers in a safe place, bade them good-bye at the wharf, and hurried off. He was fearful lest he should be intercepted by some agent of Blowitz, though there was no sign that the tug had arrived.
The three boys were warmly welcomed by the girls and Mr. Seabury, when they got to the bungalow.
"I congratulate you," said the elderly gentleman. "You deserve great credit for what you did."
"Well, we had good luck," admitted Jerry. "But where is the professor?"
"Out searching for horned toads and web-footed lizards," said Nellie. "He has enlisted the services of Ponto, and they are continually on the hunt. I hope he gets what he wants."
"He generally does," said Bob. "If he doesn't he finds something else nearly as good."
Some days later Mr. De Vere called at the bungalow. He had finished up his business affairs, and brought the boys the prize money, as their reward for the parts they had played in the finding of the derelict.
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