The Rover Boys on the Ocean/23
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Chapter XXIII: Down the Staten Island Shore to Sandy Hook
DOWN THE STATEN ISLAND SHORE TO SANDY HOOK.
"Dick! Dick! What ails you?"
"My head, Sam! Arnold Baxter struck me down," came with a groan.
"Can you get up? We want to follow them," cried Tom, as he caught his brother by the arm. He had just reached the factory on a dead run, lantern in hand, to find Dick.
"I guess I can stand, Tom. But I can't run—yet."
"Here, take the lantern and I'll carry you," came quickly, and in a moment more Tom Rover had Dick on his back and was running for the Searchlight as rapidly as the nature of the meadow land permitted, Dick holding the light over his head so that both might see.
The alarm had now become general, and by the time the yacht was gained two police officers, who had been on the hunt for harbor thieves, appeared.
"What's the row about?" demanded one of the officers of the law, as he came into view.
"Is that an officer?" questioned Dick feebly.
"I am an officer—yes."
"We are after some thieves and some parties who have abducted a girl. Will you help us?"
"Certainly, if what you say is true. Where is the crowd?"
"They ran off in that direction," came from Sam, as he loomed up out of the darkness. "They have a yacht out there somewhere."
"Then we can't catch them—unless we get a boat," answered Sergeant Brown.
"We have a boat, out this way," and Sam pointed with his hand. "But I guess we had better make certain that they go out first."
"True for you, young man. Lead the way and we'll be with you."
All ran on again, Tom bringing up in the rear with Dick. Soon the cove previously mentioned was gained. They were just in time to see the Flyaway disappearing in the darkness.
"Come back here!" cried Tom. "If you don't it will be the worse for you!"
"Don't you attempt to follow us!" came savagely from Arnold Baxter. "If you do, somebody will get shot!"
"By crickety, he's a bad one!" cried the second police officer.
"Stop! I order you to stop, in the name of the law!" shouted Sergeant Brown.
"It's the police!" howled Mumps in sudden terror. "Oh, dear! I knew we should catch it!"
"Shut up!" muttered Dan Baxter. "Run up the jib, Goss, and be quick about it!"
"You do it—I'll have to steer here," answered the sailor, and Dan Baxter leaped for the sheet mentioned.
"Are you going to stop?" cried Sergeant Brown, after a few seconds' pause.
To this there was no answer. The sergeant drew his pistol, but before he could use it, even if he so intended, the yacht was nothing but an uncertain shadow in the gloom of the night.
"We had better get to your boat," said the police officer.
"All right; come on," said Sam, and showed the way, which was decidedly uncertain. At one point there was a wide ditch to cross, and Tom had his hands full getting Dick over.
Martin Harris was watching for them, and had all ready to cast off should this be required.
"I'm mighty glad you found the police," he said to Dick, who now felt able to do for himself once more. "Will they go with us?"
"You are certain those folks on the other boat are thieves?" demanded Sergeant Brown. "Carter and I don't want to go off on any wild-goose chase."
"They are not only thieves, but abductors," said Dick. "We can easily prove it. They must be caught if it is possible to do so."
"All right then, we'll go with you. Come, Carter," and the two officers hopped on board. Soon the mainsail was set, followed by all the other available canvas, and the Searchlight was continuing the chase which had been so curiously broken off.
Martin Harris was in the dark so far as knowing what course the Flyaway had taken, and had to trust to luck to fall in with the fleeing craft.
"If she's going outside of Staten Island, I reckon I can spot her before long," he said.
"It looks to me as if the clouds were blowing away," said Tom. "If they do, the starlight will help us a good deal."
As the yacht tore along through the water, the two police officers listened with close attention to what the boys had to tell them.
"If they are the men who robbed Rush & Wilder it will make a fine haul to capture them," said Sergeant Brown.
"We want to save Dora Stanhope as much as we want to catch those thieves," returned Dick. "I wonder if her disappearance has been reported to the police?"
"I can't say. You see, Carter and I have been out all day looking for a pair of harbor thieves who stole some clothing from a pleasure yacht lying off the Staten Island shore."
"Did you see anything of your men?"
"We saw them; but they got away in a row-boat. Where they have gone to is hard telling. But I don't imagine the theft amounted to much—at least, it was nothing in comparison to the crimes you are trying to run down."
On and on went the Searchlight through the night, and slowly but surely the clouds in the heavens cleared away, letting the stars shine down once more on the silent waters.
Suddenly Martin Harris gave a murmur of satisfaction. "There she is."
"The Flyaway!" came from several of the others.
"Yes. Just as I thought; she is heading down the Staten Island shore straight for Sandy Hook."
"They are bound for Searock!" cried Dick suddenly. "Mr. Baxter mentioned the place just before they discovered that I was spying on them."
"That's a good way down the New Jersey coast," said Sergeant Brown. "Can this boat stand such a sail?"
"Can she?" snorted Harris. "She's strong enough to go to Europe in, if you want to make the trip."
"Thank you; when I go to Europe I'll go in a steamer," laughed the police officer. "I don't think you'd do much in a heavy blow."
"The Searchlight would hold her own," answered the old sailor confidently.
The breeze was increasing, and they rounded the Narrows at a lively rate. The swell from the ocean now struck them, and the yacht occasionally dipped her nose a little deeper into it than was expected.
"Here, I don't want to get wet!" cried Carter. "I'm no sailor, you know."
"You won't get much," laughed Harris. "This roll is just enough to be pleasant."
"Perhaps—to some people," came from the policeman, who had never cared for the rolling deep and who was beginning to feel a trifle seasick. Fortunately for him, however, the sickness proved mild and of short duration.
The Flyaway was now in plain sight, but too far off to be spoken. She had every sail set to its fullest, and for the time being it seemed impossible for the Searchlight to gain upon her. Thus mile after mile was covered, until Sandy Hook lighthouse could be plainly seen but a short distance away.
"We are out in the ocean now," remarked Dick an hour later. "Gracious, when I left Cedarville I didn't think that this was going to develop into such a long chase!"
"Never mind how far we go, if only the chase proves a success," answered Tom. "If we succeed in not only rescuing Dora, but also in bringing those thieves to justice, it will be a big feather in our caps."
"I'm glad the police are along," came from Sam. "They must be well armed, and I don't see how Arnold Baxter and the others will dare resist them."
"They will dare a good deal to keep out of prison, Sam," remarked Dick. "They know well enough that if they are caught it may mean a long term for each of them."
On and on went the two yachts until Sandy Hook lighthouse was left in the distance. Once it began to cloud over as if there was a storm in sight, but soon the rising sun came out brightly over the rim of the ocean.
When it came mealtime Sam prepared the repast, and all, even the officers of the law, enjoyed enjoyed what was served to them. "It gives one an appetite, this salt air," was Sergeant Brown's comment.
Soon they were standing down the New Jersey coast, but so far out on the ocean that the shore line was little more than a dark streak on the horizon.
"Are we gaining?" That was the question each asked, not once but a score of times. Martin Harris felt sure that they were; but if this was so, the advantage on the side of the Searchlight was but a slight one.