The Rover Boys on the Ocean/18
STILL IN THE HANDS OF THE ENEMY.
"That man will never marry my mother with my consent!" burst out the unhappy girl.
"She probably won't ask your consent," sneered Mumps.
"She would not marry him if I was with her. He only has an influence over her when I am away."
"Exactly—and he knows that," put in Baxter.
"Do you mean to say Josiah Crabtree is going to marry her now?" demanded Dora, springing to her feet.
"More than likely."
"Then he—he hired you to carry me off?"
"We'll talk about something else," said the bully. "Will you leave the Falcon quietly?"
"Where do you want me to go?"
"To the home of an old lady who will treat you as nicely as she possibly can."
Dora shook her head. "I don't wish to go anywhere excepting home, and I won't submit a bit longer than I have to."
"Don't be foolish!" exclaimed Mumps. "We might treat you a good deal worse if we were of a mind to do so. Crabtree told us to bind and gag you."
"Yes. He says you are a perfect minx."
A few words more followed, and then both of the boys left the cabin.
"She won't submit," whispered Mumps. "What had we best do?"
"Use the drug Crabtree gave us," answered Baxter. "It's a lucky thing I brought that vial."
"Yes if we don't have any trip-up in the matter," answered the toady, with a doubtful shake of his head. Mumps had gone into the whole scheme rather unwillingly, but now saw no way of backing out.
A little later the Falcon ran into the harbor of Cayuga and came to anchor close to one of the docks. Then Baxter appeared with some sandwiches and a glass of milk.
"You might as well eat; it's foolish not to," he said, and set the food on a little stand.
By this time Dora was very hungry, and as soon as the bully had left she applied herself to what had been brought. Poor creature, she did not know that both sandwiches and milk had been doctored with a drug calculated to make her very dull and sleepy!
She had hardly finished the scant meal when her eyes began to grow heavy. Then her brain seemed to become clouded and she could scarcely remember where she was.
"Here's news!" cried Baxter, coming in an hour later. "We are to join your mother and Mr. Crabtree at Albany."
"At Albany?" she repeated slowly. "Have—have they gone there?"
"Yes; they are going on a honeymoon on the yacht Flyaway. Your mother wants you to join her and forgive her."
Dora heaved a long sigh. "I cannot! I cannot!" she sobbed, and burst again into tears.
Nevertheless, she allowed herself to be led off the Falcon and to the depot. "Your face is full of tears," said Baxter. "Here, put this veil over it," and she was glad enough to do as bidden, that folks might not stare at her.
What happened afterward was very much like a dream to her. She remembered entering the cars and crouching down in a seat, with Baxter beside her. A long ride in the night followed, and she slept part of the way, although troubled with a horrible nightmare. She wanted to flee, but seemed to lack both the physical and mental strength to do so.
The ride at an end, Baxter and Mumps almost carried her to the river. Here the Flyaway was in waiting. Bill Goss had gone on ahead and notified his wife that she was wanted. It may as well be added here that Mrs. Goss was as coarse and unprincipled as her husband.
When Dora's mind was once more clear she found herself in a much larger cabin than that she had formerly occupied. She lay on a couch, and Mrs. Goss, a fat, ugly-looking creature, sat beside her.
"Are you awake, dear?" asked the woman as smoothly as she could.
"Who—who are you?" asked Dora feebly.
"I am Mrs. Goss."
"I don't know you. Where—where is my mother and Mr. Crabtree?"
"You'll have to ask Mr. Baxter or Mr. Fenwick about that."
"Do you belong on this boat?"
"I do, when I go out with my husband."
"Was he the man who was with those boys?"
"Where are we now?"
"On the Hudson River, just below Albany."
"Where are they going to take me next?"
"You had better ask Mr. Baxter. I was only brought on board to wait on you."
"Then that means that they wish to take me quite a distance!" cried Dora, and ran on deck.
Mumps and Baxter were talking earnestly together near the bow. At once she ran to them.
"Where is my mother?"
"You'll see her soon," answered the former bully of Putnam Hall.
"It was another trick of yours!" burst out Dora. "And I—I think you gave me something last night to make me sleepy."
"What if we did?" came from Mumps. "You are all right now."
"I do not want to go another step with you." Dora looked around and saw a strange boat passing. "Help! help!" she screamed.
At once there was another row, in which not only the boys, but also Bill Goss and his wife, took a hand. In the end poor Dora was marched to the cabin and put under lock and key.
If the girl had been disheartened before, she was now absolutely downcast.
"They have me utterly in their power!" she moaned over and over again. "Heaven alone knows where they will take me!" And then she sank down on her knees and prayed that God might see her safely through her perils.
Her prayer seemed to calm her, and she felt that there was at least one Power that would never desert her.
"Poor, poor mamma, how I wish I knew what was happening to her!" she murmured.
Slowly the hours went by. Mrs. Goss came and went, and Dora was even allowed to go on deck whenever no other boat was close at hand. Thus Martin Harris saw her; but, as we know, that meeting amounted to nothing.
It was Mrs. Goss who served the meals, and as Dora could not starve, she was compelled to eat what was set before her, the fare being anything but elaborate.
"Sorry, but we haven't got a hotel chef on board," observed Dan Baxter, as he came in during the supper hour. "But I'll try to get something better on board at New York."
"Do you mean to say you intend to take me away down to that city?" queried Dora.
"Humph! we are going further than that."
"And to where?"
"Wait and see."
"Are you afraid to tell me?"
"I don't think it would be a wise thing to do."
"We are just going to take a short ocean trip—" began Mumps, when Baxter stopped him.
"Don't talk so much—you'll spoil everything," remarked the bully.
"An ocean trip!" burst out Dora. "No! no! I do not wish to go on the ocean."
"As I said before, I think you'll go where the yacht goes."
"Does my mother know anything of this?"
"She knows you are away," grinned Mumps.
"You need not tell me that!" exclaimed Dora. "You are a mean, mean boy, so there!" And she turned on her heel and walked off.
She wished she had learned how to swim. They were running quite close to shore, and she felt that a good swimmer could gain land without much effort. Then a man came out from shore in a large flatboat.
"Help! help!" she cried. "Save me, and I will reward you well! They are carrying me away from home!"
"What's that?" called out the man, and Dora repeated her words before any of the others could stop her.
"All right, I'll do what I can for you," said the man, and running up beside the yacht, which had become caught in a sudden calm, he made fast with a boathook.