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Title: The G-man's son at Porpoise Island

Author: Warren F. Robinson

Release date: August 21, 2023 [eBook #71459]

Language: English

Original publication: United States: The Goldsmith Publishing Company, 1937

Credits: Lisa Corcoran, Stephen Hutcheson, David E. Brown, and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at



title page

logo THE


The Goldsmith
Publishing Company


Copyright, 1937, by


I At Black Cove 11
II The Night in Black Cove 24
III The Strange Mr. Nevens 39
IV The Mystery of Black Cove 55
V Fighting for Life 70
VI Conference with a G-Man 83
VII Thirty Per Cent or Fight 100
VIII Hegarty’s Plans 118
IX The G-Man Grocer Meets the Boys 131
X Nevada’s Biggest Plot 144
XI Captured 154
XII Delivering the Prisoner 167
XIII Hegarty Plans a Surprise 180
XIV The G-Men Close In 195
XV The Boys Become Prisoners 206
XVI The Fight Begins 216
XVII G-Men to the Attack 226
XVIII The Secret of Black Cove 239


At Black Cove

THE cabin sloop Water Witch had cleared Centerport harbor and was well out in the bay heading towards the Catlow, or “Off Shore,” Islands when the first strange incident happened which was to start the G-man’s son, Stanley Sandborn, and his lanky, dark-haired chum, John Tallman, off on an adventure which was both bizarre and dangerous. Stanley was the first to notice the swiftly approaching gray runabout speedboat.

“Look at that fellow come!” said Stanley. “He’s doing closer to fifty than forty knots and notice how low he is!”

“Sailing bluebirds, and slices of pickled onion!” cried John Tallman, exploding into one of his characteristic odd remarks. “You can hardly see him for spray!”

“And gray is an odd color for a yacht!” commented[12] Stanley, pushing his mop of sandy hair back from his eyes, the better to study the form and speed of the racing boat which was now sweeping across the bows of the smoothly sailing sloop.

The Water Witch pitched and tossed in a moment or two as the wide “V” of the speedboat’s wake crossed the course of the sailboat. The rigging and sails of the black-hulled boat slatted and swayed drunkenly, then she steadied in the strong southwest breeze sweeping up the bay and continued her easy dip and roll through the waves of the open bay. The speedboat sped off towards the islands, almost silently, save for a low humming.

“More than one thing odd about that boat, John!” Stan remarked. “Extra speed, gray paint, and an underwater exhaust! If this were prohibition times I’d say—rum-runner!”

“Me too. Dunk me in the briny deep and hang me up to dry! Slide over the hamburgers, mates, but I’ve a hunch we haven’t seen the last of that craft!”

“Funny, John,” the G-man’s son said, half[13] aloud, half to himself, “I’m thinking the same thing.”

John Tallman shrugged his shoulders, then laughed as cheerfully as he could.

“Trouble with us, Stan,” he said, “is that we’ve seen so much of speeding boats and water fights that we just jump to conclusions! Because we just spent the last week or so helping capture Dapper Dan Hogan and his gang and those other mobsters, we’ve got detecting and suspicion on the brain! Bluebottle flies and anthill creepers—let’s drop the subject! Me for coffee and doughnuts!”

“Attaboy, John,” laughed Stan. “Stir up some eats. We ought to be close to Porpoise Island by sunset!”

John watched the last white spray of the speedboat disappearing towards that very spot of the barely visible humps of the Off Shore Islands, a perplexed frown upon his lean features, then he ducked down into the cozy cabin of the sloop to dig up a snack of food for the famished boys, for they had been under way for hours now and were very hungry.

[14]The trim and pretty Water Witch rolled along, dipping her lee rail in white water, for she was rather speedy and a good sailor, while Stan, at the wheel, peered across the water towards Porpoise Island where they planned to camp out for the next week or so, cruising betimes among the wooded, lonely Catlow Islands nearby. Certain of the outlying islands on the edge of the ocean were populous summer resorts and winter colonies and had a regular steamer traffic, but Porpoise Island and the close-by islets were rarely visited, if at all, being privately owned and plastered with “Keep-off” signs. The two boys, however, being bent merely on a little harmless pleasure, saw no harm in cruising among them, and perhaps pitching a tent on one of the beaches provided they did not trespass on the land itself.

They were particularly anxious to visit Black Cove, a little known and very snug small harbor which Mr. Sandborn, Stan’s father, had noticed on a chart while the boys and the G-man were poring over the marine maps of the bay and waters around the islands a few nights ago.

“There,” Mr. Sandborn had remarked, “is[15] something to look into. I bet I’ve studied this chart dozens of times in the last ten years, boys, and cruised some about the islands, and I never happened to notice what a perfect little harbor Black Cove should be for a small boat like yours.”

He had pointed to the spot on the chart and shown the boys that the cove had a narrow but comparatively deep channel and that the center of the land-locked little harbor was a good twenty feet deep and had a dark loam bottom. Because of the dark mud and loam under the water there the water itself would seem almost black even on clear days, thus giving the cove its name, no doubt. This Mr. Sandborn surmised from past experiences with small anchorages and different types of sea bottom.

“Sounds mysterious, too,” John had interrupted, excitedly, that evening. “Rally round the saucepan, boys; the cook’s serving soup!”

Mr. Sandborn had been taking a well-earned vacation of a few days after the capture of the notorious gangsters, chiefly represented by Mr. Dapper Dan Hogan, in which event the two boys had had no small part. The Water Witch, you[16] will remember, played a big part in the adventures attendant upon the pursuit and capture of the criminals as did also Stan’s and John’s bow and arrows. And during those few days the boys had been planning the cruise to the Catlow Islands.

It was a cruise they had had in mind ever since acquiring the Water Witch and save for the interference and subsequent capture of Hogan and the other gangsters, the boys would have made the big cruise sooner. Now they were making up for lost time. Below decks were their bows and arrows, cameras, including the special G-man camera Mr. Sandborn had loaned them in case—just in case—they might have use for it; their sleuthing paraphernalia of fingerprint powders, brushes, and magnifying glasses; some adventure books and boys’ magazines; lots and lots of food (for John was a prodigious eater!); charts of the waters they were entering for the first time; and the hundreds of items needed to make the trip an outstanding success. Bit by bit it had been stowed away, a task in itself considering the rather short length and small capacity of sloop. And in all her brave black top sides and green underbody, with[17] the bullet holes from the big battle at Cedar Island all properly plugged and shipshape, the Water Witch had sailed out of Centerport Harbor, pleasure-bound.

The sun was dipping lower and lower as the boat covered the last long mile across the bay in the dying breeze. The aroma of delicious hot coffee came drifting back from the galley and John could be heard mumbling and humming an off-key tune. But for snitches of doughnuts as he was preparing the meal, the cook would have been able to sing right out!

At last came the welcome news to the helmsman that dinner, or supper, was ready.

“Call it anything you like, but serve it, Cookie!” Stan rejoined. “I’m about ready to gnaw a chunk out of this wheel!”

“Here you are! Why not lash the wheel, Skipper, and come below for eats?” queried John.

“O.k., be right down!”

With that Stan slipped a bit of roping over the spokes of the wheel and, jockeying the craft a bit to get the right pressure of the rudder, tightened a hitch about a cleat. He had already done[18] the same with the main sheet and the keen little vessel now sailed along by herself on a fairly good course in what was left of the evening breeze while the Captain joined his cook below decks at a meal that was filling and appetizing. Rolls and butter, some canned beef with sauces, plenty of jam, a slice or two of cake, a few doughnuts, coffee, and a liberal glass of milk were enjoyed amidst much joking and fun. John was a “scream,” always thinking of some funny remark and keeping the more serious Stan in general good humor. They were just finishing supper when the Water Witch jolted hard to port, dumping the remains of the meal into John’s lap, for he sat on that side of the small portable table, and pitching Stan half onto his chum!

“Help!” cried John. “Bluebirds and fireflies—and bushels of grape-juice-biscuits! We’re wrecked, Skipper!”

Quickly, even as the Water Witch righted herself and the scraping sounds which had penetrated the interior of the sloop disappeared, the boys were in the cockpit staring wildly about!

Nothing greeted their startled eyes save the unruffled[19] water of the bay, for the last of the breeze had died with the fast setting sun and only an occasional “cat’s-paw” disturbed the surface here and there. The sloop heeled slowly, creaking just a little, to one of these soft puffs of wind now.

“Well, tender chunks of jellybeans—what happened?” John wanted to know, scratching his head and running lean fingers through the dark hair, while his dark eyes pondered and stared.

“John, in the first place, we struck something that was submerged. Might have been a water-soaked log, or almost anything. Let’s take a bearing and see what the chart says. Should have five fathoms along here if my memory serves me!”

The chart showed six fathoms of water and there were no indications of rocks or obstructions of any other kind in the spot where the Water Witch had struck.

“I took a careful bearing from the trees on top of Porpoise Island, Stan,” John pointed out, “and another on the Centerport Watch Hill Tower that we can just see across the bay. The angle is a good one and I’m sure I got it right. Then[20] whatever we struck is a ‘foreign body’——”

“Maybe the upper structure of some sunken ship, John!” Stan interrupted.

“Upper structure or keel, I don’t know, Stan, but—I do know that the last of my coffee soaked my pants!”

John went below to change into something dry and while he was there he quietly inspected the forepeak of the craft where the anchor cable was stored, and the spare sails and lines, and then peered under the cabin floor boards but found no signs of extra water. Evidently the ship had not been damaged by contact with whatever the object had been. In dry attire, John went back on deck and relieved his friend at the wheel.

Stan now went below and studied the charts for some minutes, coming back on deck after a short time and indicating the eastern tip of Porpoise Island. The long low island bore a faint resemblance, when seen from a distance, to the back of a sporting porpoise, hence its name, and the eastern tip was the “snout.”

“Keep clear of the snout there, John, by at least a hundred yards, because of low water and rocks,[21] now that we’re getting in close, and put her on the other tack after we round the point.”

“Righto, Skipper. Blow me down, my hearties, and smack the main brace!”

Both boys peered curiously at the bushes and clusters of cedar trees and the few oaks covering the slopes of the island as the boat sailed slowly, half-drifting, past the snout and they were able to see the seaward or southern side of the island. Black Cove should be about a half mile down that side and the angle of entrance was so sharp that the boys actually sailed past without spotting the opening! It was Stan who first detected their mistake.

“John, we’ve gone past the entrance to Black Cove, I’m sure. It’s getting so dark I can hardly see a thing, anyhow and we’ve sure missed it!”

It was indeed getting dark in spite of the lingering twilight and the Water Witch swung about and back, feeling the strength of a brisk night breeze now springing up. The breeze might last an hour or less and they must make the cove before it died again. Intent, anxious, Stan stood by the mast of the boat, peering sharply ahead as the[22] heeling sloop closed in with the island, risking danger among the scattered rocks, to find the clear, deep entrance to the harbor.

Suddenly Stan cried out and pointed!

A bright light had flickered for an instant or two somewhere on the island and the way in which it had disappeared caused Stan to say, “That light was on the far side of the cove, John, I’m sure, and it was the eastern edge or hill at the entrance that cut it off! Ease off the sheet and head for there!”

John did as Stan said, for he had great confidence in his chum’s ability and hunches, and the Water Witch heeled lively and spryly right between two high banks of woods, through a clear channel into the darkness of the cove!

The light, which had been the cause of their success in finding the entrance, had gone and there was neither sight nor sound in the darkness. The hills seemed to surround the spot and the lighter blue of the sky overhead, now starlit, seemed to rest upon the edges of the hills.

“Pheww!” breathed John, deeply, from the wheel, as the sloop rounded to and the anchor was[23] dropped with a low splash into the deep waters. “This place gives me the honorable creeps! Creeping skeletons, and bleached bones—I’d rather go to live with Blackbeard the Pirate than spend the night in Black Cove!”

“I’m afraid,” said Stan, and his voice was not too steady, “that we’re here to stay for the night—for I can’t even guess where the entrance is now!”


The Night in Black Cove

AS JOHN was afterwards to remark, that night in Black Cove turned out to be “A night as was a night!” The anchor had barely hit bottom when a flickering light, as from a half-covered flashlight appeared in the bushes of the Island. Stan gripped John’s arm suddenly.

“There’s that light again! Maybe we ought to shout a greeting——”

“Nix, Stan,” John whispered tersely. “I’ve a hunch this is a poor spot for innocent sailor men to be! Just keep mum.”

“Me too, now that I think about it! Look! The light is going up in the darkness!”

“What’s that?” queried John. “Do you hear it?”

Both boys listened, but Stan heard nothing save the water lapping the edges of the cove, which was about a quarter of a mile across, the sound[25] carrying clearly on the night breeze which curved down over the bowl of hills and dipped cat’s-paws at the dark water. The same breeze made the trees sigh a little, and outside of that there was no other noise.

“I thought I heard a familiar sound, at least a sound I’ve heard before, like—look!”

The boys saw a shimmer of broken water as they turned about, attracted by a low humming!

“A boat, Stan, and crossing the cove at good speed, too! See, there he goes!”

A single blink of light came from the flashlight on the hill and Stan saw an answering blink from the boat. Then darkness enveloped all again and the hum was heard no more!

“This calls for a council and some thinking, John,” Stan said. “Come on below with me.”

He led the way down into the cabin while the Water Witch swung at her anchor, her sails flapping very softly in the night breeze. The little sloop had thick curtains, which he now drew over the cabin ports. Then he was heard to close the slide to the cabin entrance and come back down the steps. The sputter of a match in the darkness,[26] and Stan was lighting one of the smaller cabin lights, which he set upon the cabin table upon which had been spread the chart of Porpoise Island and vicinity. There was a serious frown upon his features as the youthful skipper faced his chum across that table.

“Here’s the situation as I see it,” Stan said, speaking in a low voice. “This afternoon we saw a speedy motorboat of low, fast design, painted an inconspicuous gray and fitted with an almost silent exhaust, which disappeared round the snout of this island. Now we’ve come into Black Cove, a rarely visited spot, and find ourselves in the midst of symptoms of trouble—a fast, almost silent motorboat which comes in at night, blinking signals in answer to shore lights. Is this or is it not a dangerous spot? Are these innocent happenings, or should we get out of here and pronto?”

John considered the problem for a minute, for he knew Stan was in dead seriousness, and besides, he himself was creepy and scared.

“I’m inclined to think we can’t get out of here in the dark anyhow, Stan, so we’ll have to stay here——”

[27]“It’s a cinch we’d have trouble finding the channel, as I said a few minutes ago on deck, John.”

“—And maybe daybreak will show us up as a couple of scatterbrained kids. Sweet spirits of the briny deep—why should anyone hurt us? We’re only bent on pleasure!”

Stan grinned wryly.

“Sure we’re only pleasure bent, but—what about our detective stuff, and just supposing that whoever is here is up to something evil and recognizes us as the two kids who got their pictures in the papers over the Hogan case?”

“You’re right, Stan. What’ll we do?”

“My idea is this, John. Let’s up anchor and move over under sail to the far side of this cove away from the lights we saw and stay there to-night. We’ll keep quiet, keep turns watching, and, unless some one starts something, we’ll let well enough alone till dawn.”

“I’d sure like to have my bow and arrows on watch, Stan! Remember how they worked against Hogan that night he tried to snoop around at the float-stage back in Centerport?”

[28]They both grinned with delight at the remembrance of the snooper who dashed off in his boat, stung in the pants’ seat by a well aimed arrow! Stan nodded agreement to John’s suggestion of a defensive weapon, and they prepared to up anchor and cross the cove.

On deck they took their positions, Stan at the wheel and the main sheet, John at the jib and staysail sheets, and the anchor cables. Quietly Stan gave the command, and John hove in on the anchor. Slowly the dripping cable came inboard foot by foot, and was coiled on deck as the youth hauled at it, then it tightened as the anchor took up the slack. He heaved hard—but the anchor did not budge.

Again John tugged. The anchor refused to give way.

Nervous, John came aft and informed Stan of the situation.

“Try again, John,” Stan suggested. “Keep trying. We don’t want to lose that anchor. It ought to break out o.k. from a loam floor.”

Determined to get that anchor in, John heaved away, grunting, and—with a snap of release, the[29] anchor broke ground! Up it came, and John hauled it wet and muddy on deck. As he did so he gave a low cry of surprise! But the sloop was heeling off now as the breeze filled the mainsail and John promptly “backed” the jib to help push the sloop onto a course and under way. In a minute or two the Water Witch was rippling to the opposite shore from the spot where the flashlight had glittered a short while before.

Close to the bank the anchor was again dropped overboard and the cable slacked off. With flapping sails, the sloop drifted off till the slack was taken up, then swung to the wind, at anchor. John said nothing about his discovery in the bows until the sails had been lowered and furled for the night, the strops tightened about the canvas, and the sheets belayed with plenty of slack in case of rain. The sky was clear and the stars glittered overhead, but a good seaman always leaves his running rigging slack at night, for rain would promptly tighten it and stretch the rope dangerously. All being snug now, the boys brought their bows and arrows up on deck, stowed them ready for instant use, placed a focusing flashlight handy,[30] and held council in the cabin again. It was then that John Tallman went upon deck to return with something which he now handed to his friend.

“A brass fitting!” cried Stan, staring. “Where did you get it?”

“The anchor snagged on something in the cove, Stan, probably a sunken wreck, and I brought up this! Piece of brass trimming, isn’t it? Might be from a yacht?”

“It’s expensive, whatever it belongs to, John. Fancy trimmings at sea don’t appear on commercial ships. Yacht is the best guess! Wonder What a yacht is doing sunk in Black Cove?”

“Maybe that other thing we struck in the bay was part of a ship, Stan, too!”

“I doubt it, John. Probably just a half-submerged log. But this brass is definitely from a wreck, I figure.”

“Listen—What’s that?”

Voices and subdued noises took the boys to the deck at once, where they carefully shut the cabin slide to keep the light from showing while they peered across the water of the cove. There in the darkness a low boat of some kind appeared to[31] have anchored, and men were moving about on it, for their footsteps on deck could be heard, and there were occasional flickerings of light as if a lantern were in use.

“Thank goodness for one thing, Stan, I don’t think we’ve been discovered, yet; do you?”

“No. What’s going on over there?”

“Shades of the Caspian Sea and blessings on thee little man, I wish I knew! Hear that low, throbbing sound, like a pump working?”

“Probably a salvaging job; but why at night, John?”

“Dear me, Oswald, old bean!” laughed John, “Why ask me? Your guess is as good as mine.”

The noises of whatever operation was under way continued for hours, and Stan went down to his bunk to sleep while John stood first watch. A low whistle was to be the signal for the G-man’s son to hurry to the deck should any attack or disturbance occur.

For a long while John sat huddled in the corner of the cockpit, thankful for the sweater he had slipped on, for summer was well advanced and the night cool. His bow and arrows were handy, and[32] he watched what little could be seen of the strange things taking place across the water. He could be sure of nothing, and towards the latter part of his watch gave up guessing. Probably the men were salvaging the sunken ship if such the cove contained. Overhead the bright stars twinkled, and alongshore in the darkness the leaves switched in the breeze. John Tallman was not sorry when his radium-dialed watch showed midnight.

Sleepy-eyed, dog-tired, in spite of the excitement of wondering what the later hours might bring, the youth went below to wake Stan. He found that worthy half-awake, for the sandy-haired skipper of the Water Witch had slept poorly.

“I say, a cup of coffee and a doughnut, Stan!” John said, rubbing his eyes, and then his stomach. “Cockpits and maintops, but I’m hungry.”

They made coffee and munched doughnuts but said little about the strange surroundings. Stan went on deck then and, in his turn, listened to the sounds of work upon the surface of the cove. He came no nearer to a solution of the problem than had John, and went back to bed at four.

[33]The dimly outlined boat moved off before dawn, and the slowly brightening sky of morning disclosed only a cool, deserted cove. The surrounding hills showed only trees, green and thick, right down to the water’s edge and, in most places, overlapping the water with widespread branches.

At breakfast, as the sun came over the eastern hill, the boys gave each other questioning looks.

“If I was not so sleepy, I’d swear I’d been asleep and dreamed the whole thing, Stan,” John said, yawning and looking longingly at his bunk. “Whatever and whoever was at the center of this cove last night is gone, now.”

“Get some sleep, John, and then we’ll put up our sails and find the entrance. I’m quite sure it’s just round that hill over there.”

“Righto, Skipper!”

And the rangy lad hit the bunk with a sigh of relief.

Stan worked about on deck, washing the sloop down, and glancing around from time to time with interest in the hopes of spotting life along the opposite shore.

He was thus engaged when curiosity got the[34] better of him. He could never, he decided, sail out of Black Cove without an explanation of what he and John had seen and heard. He woke his chum about eight o’clock and suggested that they swim ashore and look Porpoise Island over.

At first John was reluctant, but he too was curious, and besides, the warm sunlight had robbed the pretty cove of its atmosphere of danger. They might be a couple of young fools, for all they knew, but they meant to find out. With the two boys, to come to a decision was to go into action, and they stripped, slipped into bathing togs, and went over-side at once. Quickly and with ease, for they were both fair swimmers, they covered the few yards of water, swimming in under the branches of the trees to the rich loamy shore, onto which they climbed.

Hearts thumping a little, they pushed through some bushes looking for a path. John was the first to cry out, being in the lead. Sure enough, there was a path! A little-used passage through the bushes and trees, it led them winding uphill, and they followed it silently with their bare feet making no sounds. At home in the woods as well as[35] upon the water, the two boys moved onward, alert for anything!

But nothing happened, at least for a period of twenty minutes, during which time they passed several bypaths and went along seeing the glitter of the cove as they circled it. All of a sudden they came out of that path, through the bushes right smack into a clearing in which stood a trim cottage built of rustic materials. A well built dwelling, it gave hints of wealth, for it was furnished with modern windows and the latest type of weather-resisting roofing. A bright, new pump stood at a well near the door, and everything spoke of good upkeep. While the boys stood pop-eyed with wonder they saw no sign of life.

Then a soft voice broke the silence of enchantment.

“Well?” came the query.

Startled, they turned about to find, standing right behind them, a peculiar old man! The peculiar thing about him was the leathery skin of his face and the paleness of his gray eyes. It was a kindly appearing face but not one you would have liked. Something in the set of the smile and[36] the paleness of those eyes would have warned you to be on the alert for—unsuspected danger!

“Well?” repeated the man, still smiling.

Stan and John knew that they were trespassing, and that made them feel guilty. Added to that was the odd feeling of danger. They exchanged glances of appraisal with the old fellow; then Stan spoke.

“That’s a peach of a cabin you have, Mister!”

The man’s face muscles, which had given an air of tenseness to his smile, now relaxed, and he said, “I’m glad you like it. I like it myself!”

“I don’t blame you!” Stan admitted. “By the way, we sailed into Black Cove last night not knowing anyone was around here——”

A look of surprise crossed the man’s tanned features. His smile disappeared for a moment.

“You sailed into Black Cove?”

“Yes; is that surprising?”

“Why, no, but——”

“Boss!” bellowed some one, and footsteps sounded in the path. “Boss! They’s a yacht anchored on the far side of the cove——!”

The owner of the voice appeared from the pathway[37] and stopped, speechless before the boys and the old man. If the gray-eyed owner of the cabin was peculiar, tall, slender, and well dressed, the newcomer was just the opposite in appearance. Small-eyed, heavy-browed, and fat-faced, he was a disagreeable sort of chap. Apparently of foreign parentage, he was swarthy, and looked as though he had eaten a great deal for many years but never bothered to take a bath. His clothes hung baggy and unkempt, and he gave the air of being a blundering fool in action.

The old man glared for a split second at the fat one.

“Dago,” he said, “Meet my guests,——”

“I’m Stanley Sandborn, and this is John Tallman,” Stan introduced himself and his friend, and he had a feeling that he was known to the old man.

“Yes, I know,” responded their host, smiling again. “You see, I read the papers every day! You did a marvelous job in helping capture Mr. Hogan and his accomplices!”

“Boss—them’s the kids that caught Hogan?” demanded Dago. His red face spoke volumes.

[38]“Dago is troubled with a bad heart, boys, and doubtless worries about his past,” explained the host. “I am Mr. Raymond Nevens, and Dago is my trusted man-of-all-work.”

“The kids what captured Hogan!” stuttered Dago; then he burst into a volley of strange oaths ending with, “Of all the blessed luck!”

With a lightning fling of a quickly balled right fist, Mr. Nevens struck out at Dago! The blow landed fairly, and the man-of-all-work went sprawling into the bushes!


The Strange Mr. Nevens

DAGO picked himself up, trembling a little, and the boys sensed a tautness in the relations of Mr. Nevens and the man, which was relieved as the old man turned to the boys, winking. He gave a sly indication of finger to forehead and his face grew sadly serious. But if Dago was to be supposed mentally unbalanced according to his employer, he was certainly sane enough to keep his peace and Mr. Nevens excused himself while he stepped to the side of the big man and gave him an order in a low voice.

“Yes, Mr.—Nevens,” the man responded with surly, glinting eyes and he moved off towards the house, to go indoors quickly.

“Dago is more to be pitied than scolded, boys,” said the charming Mr. Nevens, smiling, “but I keep him round here on odd jobs for he’s been with me many years. And now, I want you to be[40] my guests for an hour or so. Will you come with me? I’ll show you interesting things.”

They nodded after a careful exchange of looks and followed their host down the slight grade to his cottage. The boys observed that, as they went down the path, the hills on the back of the spot rose well above them so that no hint of that habitation was given passing steamers outside in the bay or the ocean. It certainly was an excellent place for anyone, recluse or criminal. What an ideal spot for loafing and camping—a private cove, with a practically hidden channel, high surrounding hills, on an island known to be kept for private use!

“You own this island, Mr. Nevens?” asked Stan, as the man took them along a pretty flagstone path up to the front door of the rustic cabin.

“Yes, I do own it, boys. How do you like my little realm—what you have seen of it?”

“Swell, Mr. Nevens. But you must be lonely here, cut off from the rest of the world!”

The man continued to smile as he replied, “Not so very lonely, nor so very cut off from the world! I have my few close friends, my hobbies, and[41] money enough to satisfy my modest whims.”

Was the wreck one of his “whims”? Stan wondered, and would have asked a tactful question about the nocturnal activities of the cove, but thought it better to hold his peace. If Mr. Nevens wished to talk about it some hint would be dropped, no doubt. In the meantime, if nothing was said by the wealthy host, the boys would wait patiently. If he were a criminal and the salvage, if such it be, criminal, time would prove it.

As the trio came up the path and approached the door Mr. Nevens’ spirits seemed to rise even higher than usual as do those of some one about to show you exciting things. The door opened at a slight touch of the fingers, a fact which startled both the lads. There was no knob or visible lock! If it had swung open without that deft touch it could have surprised them no more!

“Just an invention of mine,” Mr. Nevens said, noting the look of wonder upon their faces as they went into the cabin. “Touched in the right spot, this door opens without effort on the part of the person. It requires no lock of the usual kind, however, for I can, by throwing a switch seal it so[42] that nothing except an explosive can budge it. I may some day give that secret door system to the world. By then, boys, I may, in fact, have perfected an ‘electric eye’ type of a practical kind which will open as you walk up to it.”

They found themselves in a large, open sort of room, luxuriously fitted with everything conducive to manly comfort. Lounges and big roomy armchairs were scattered about tastefully. There were ash trays in handy spots, a beautiful radio of the latest design, stacks of richly bound volumes—the whole giving one a startling realization of what money, in the hands of an eccentric or comfort-loving man, can do.

“My living room, boys,” said Mr. Nevens, obviously proud of the spot. “Now, here is the dining room—the kitchenette and Wan Ho Din, my cook!”

He had touched another door as he stepped forward and, as he spoke, they were led into a cozy room where a long table and many chairs told of company at the dinner table, and then into the white kitchenette with its refrigerator, special cooking range, and—Wan Ho Din, the cook![43] Wan Ho Din was yellow, slant-eyed, as was to be expected, and gave one an impression of bland, innocent kindliness. But a keen observer, as was Stan when suspicious, would have noted the same peculiar hint of watchful questioning and evil about the eyes. Wan Ho Din would bear watching, Stan decided.

“Boys like cookies?” asked Wan, offering them a dish of the tasty morsels. “Help self. Takum hand full!”

Stan took some and took a bite, then held the remainder in his hands to be eaten later. John, however, ate his at once, as was to be expected. Stan smiled to himself in amusement.

“And now to my laboratories and hobby rooms, boys,” said Mr. Nevens. “What are your hobbies, by the way?”

“We’re both keen on archery, Mr. Nevens,” Stan informed him. “We think sailing and camping is swell, and detective work is fun too. But we’ve had enough detectin’ for a while! This cruise we are on is one strictly of pleasure, if we can keep it so!”

Mr. Nevens’ eyes seemed to harden a bit, then[44] they warmed again profusely. And all the while he maintained that contented, friendly smile which Stan so distrusted.

If Mr. Nevens’ cabin with its spacious living quarters and well-stocked larder was interesting, the laboratories were more so. To reach them the boys were taken down into the ground through a cement-lined walkway, brightly painted and lighted by indirect lighting, electrically. They were told that the electricity was from a dynamo, gasoline motor driven, that, from top to bottom, the place was electrically fitted with every comfort and convenience. The entrance into the laboratories was through a heavy, fire-proof, explosive-proof, water-tight door.

“Dynamite would not distort or open this door, nor could water get in, even under pressure, nor fire at 1,000 degrees burn through in less than twenty-four hours,” Mr. Nevens explained. “I have taken these precautions because I am working on many important discoveries and cannot afford to lose the result of years of work. See, here is a television set upon which I am working, built on a principle entirely new in the field. With[45] it I hope to be able to show people in three dimensions upon a special ‘view-disk,’ or panel, instead of the two-dimensional scene of conventional models. My subjects would be rounded and natural instead of flat. And here is a device which, when perfected, will throw a stream of bullets in a carefully controlled sweep at previously unknown speeds and with terrible effectiveness. You see, I am interested in armaments——”

The look upon Stan’s face must have spoken volumes for the eccentric inventor hurried to say, “—Purely from a desire to invent so terrible a weapon eventually that warfare would be impossible without race suicide, boys. Unlike most Pacifists, I believe in fostering the arming of nations so that they will be armed to the teeth, all of them, and therefore afraid to start a war for fear of its consequences to all!”

They were then shown a number of other things in process of development, and still others were left unexplained, after which the party moved on to the exit and passage, up to the surface of the ground. What intrigued Stan was the number of passages honeycombing this underground retreat.[46] No explanation for their presence was forthcoming and he made a mental note to investigate should need arise.

The exit on the surface came up in a glass-domed summerhouse in which were platforms of fine flowers, and a large and well-stocked aquarium. Mr. Nevens knew all of his plants and fishes well and they found him an interesting talker. From all indications he was well-traveled and well-informed. And on every side were indications of plenty of wealth.

After visiting the summerhouse, Stanley and John were escorted into the surrounding hills from whose summits they could see clearly in all directions along the back of the “porpoise” out to sea, and across the bay towards the distant spires and factory stacks and the Watch Tower Hill of Centerport. Paths in a veritable labyrinth of foot-ways radiated in and about the hills, but Mr. Nevens’ easy-going guidance gave hints that he was avoiding several by-ways purposely. What might some of these paths lead to? Stan meant to find out later!

The Water Witch was almost hidden on the far[47] side of the cove against the background of trees and it certainly looked good. The entrance channel to the cove was seen as a narrow slit, cutting at an angle through the hills to the sea, and Stan made mental notes of its position. While they stood on a rock atop the highest hump of land, Mr. Nevens’ eyes rested rather long upon the moving form of a yacht which was coming in from the sea. White and shiny with brass work, the pleasure craft moved in the general direction of the island, though still some miles away.

“You will come back to see me again, boys, won’t you?” asked Mr. Nevens as they went down the hill. “I’ll show you my landing-stage and boat-house so that you’ll know where to tie up next time. You must come and spend a few days with me soon.”

This tactful remark could mean only one thing, since Mr. Nevens knew that the boys had intended staying in the cove longer than that one day. There was no alternative but to say what Stan now said.

“Certainly, Mr. Nevens. We’re pushing off now for a cruise further along but we’ll stop[48] back next week if we get a chance!” Was the coming yacht bringing special visitors for the queer Mr. Nevens, and on criminal errands, since he wished the boys to move on now?

They were now shown the boat-house, a carefully laid out spot with a wide, high entrance into which a boat could come to land passengers and a mooring-stage beyond for bigger craft. The sudden disappearance of the speedboat of the previous night was now explained and Stan and John looked at each other with knowing grins.

At the mooring-stage was a fast-appearing speedboat of gray color and fast design, low in the water, with no visible exhaust, and fitted for luxurious water travel at high speed. The long, hooded middle section betrayed the huge, powerful engine hidden there. And in the “driver’s” seat sat a clean-shaven, uniformed attendant at ease, smoking a pipe quietly. Stan got an impression that the man was there in case of urgent need. Perhaps such a man was kept handy day and night!

Bidding their host at last good-day, the boys now went past the cabin, and up into the path[49] round the cove. They wound along through the bushes a few minutes later, quietly, some sixth sense warning them not to comment on what they had seen and this caution was rewarded for, silently as they went in their bare feet, they came face to face with Dago! Startled, for he had apparently heard nothing of their approach, the swarthy fellow purpled and went pop-eyed. There was no doubt in the mind of the G-man’s son that Dago, insane or not, had a healthy fear of him and his friend and desired no part of their company.

“Hello, Mr. Dago,” John greeted him. “Nice here on the island, isn’t it?”

“Yes, it’s-a fine! I think I get along. Don’t see too much!”

And he was gone!

“‘Don’t see too much,’” echoed John.

“Evidently Dago speaks his thoughts out loud at times! John, he’s scared of us, for certain! I wonder if he really is insane?”

“Plump, juicy pineapples, and packages of bird seed, how do I know, Skipper?” John rejoined. “All I’m sure of is—I don’t trust him!”

[50]“Quiet, John,” Stan cautioned, hoping their conversation had not been heard.

They returned by the path to the spot opposite the sloop, pushed down through the bushes to the water, plunged in and swam to the craft, hauling themselves aboard.

“Boy, what a relief to be back on the old Water Witch! Sides of bacon and rally round the gang-plank with a heigh-nonny nonny and a heave-ho-ho!” cried John. “Me for the pantry! Those cookies only made me more hungry.”

Stan went below behind John and both boys gave cries of astonished anger! The cabin had been ransacked! Everything was upside down! The G-man camera had been smashed! The fingerprint powders were scattered about. Papers, notes, books, and letters were spread about on the bunks and floor!

“Dago!” cried John at once. “I’ll tie that chap with telephone wire and douse him in a cup of vinegar, so help me! Bring on the boiling oil! Where is my wandering——”

The tall lad began at once to pick things up, but Stan stopped him.

[51]“Remember what Dad always said, John—study the situation, look for clues before disturbing things too much, in a case like this!”

This they now did, making notes of how things were, accurate sketches showing the positions of each object; and then they looked for fingerprints. They were rewarded only by the discovery of a pair of rubber gloves at the foot of the steps. Large sized gloves, they had been tossed aside by the intruder as he left, in a hurry. Stan recovered enough of the fingerprint powders to bring out smudges on various objects but could find no prints. The man who had been aboard the yacht had been lucky, if not careful.

The things were then picked up and set to rights, and Stan was the first to voice an opinion of what had been the purpose of the search.

“From what I see, John,” he said, “Dago may have been sent aboard here to go through our letters and personal things and to destroy the camera. There might be something among the things to show that we were purposely looking up Mr. Nevens, you see. If Dago found nothing, our claim of being merely pleasure-bound would[52] appear more reasonable. The breaking of the camera was probably Dago’s idea!”

“But if Dago came aboard, how did he get here?” John wanted to know. “By the shores of the Red Sea—he didn’t swim it, for his clothes were dry when we passed him.”

“Probably made it in a boat, of course.”

“Where’s the boat, then? And why would he be on the path instead of back at the boat-house, then?”

For answer, Stan dug out a pair of binoculars from a closet and went up on deck. Keeping the cabin between him and the direction of the boat-house, he studied the shore line close by as if looking for something. It took several minutes, but at last he sucked in his breath hard and handed the glasses to John.

“See that spot over there, John?”

“Oh, yes, I see—there’s a punt hidden under the overhanging branches of a tree! And that is how Dago came aboard!”

Stan smiled. “You didn’t figure that out all alone, did you, Sherlock Holmes?”

“All kidding aside, Stan, why would he hide[53] the punt instead of going back and forth from the float-stage and boat-house?”

“Naturally, so that he would not be noticed. He probably followed the shore of the cove from the stage to our boat, under the branches out of sight, and then returned part way, to hide his punt.”

“Stan, by all the constellations in the deep blue sky—I’ve an idea we’re on the trail of something big, so big it frightens me stiff!”

“Me too, John, but we believe in law and order and the power of the right, and we’ll see it through somehow! Mr. Nevens may be merely an eccentric millionaire with a flair for hobbies and an inventive trend, but I’ve a hunch he’s a poseur up to something immense in crime! Look—there comes that yacht we saw from the hilltop!”

The nose of the shiny white yacht had poked into the cove and the whole boat now slid into view, riding easily towards the float-stage. Through the glasses the boys saw men about her decks in uniform, probably sailors of the ordinary sort. And the men on her glass-enclosed bridge were ordinary-appearing men of wealth. “Sea Hawk![54] said Stan, reading her name plate. “So what, Skipper?” John queried.

“Used to be a notorious rum-runner, John, if I remember the newspapers and magazines rightly! John, let’s get out of this cove and stay out—while we’re alive and breathing. I’ve an idea trouble is brewing for us, and we’d better be hitting the high spots of speed right off!”


The Mystery of Black Cove

THE G-man’s son hurried below decks with John, and they changed to their white sailor pants and white jerseys. As they did so, Stan gave a low exclamation of surprise.

“Look, John, I didn’t notice that—the man who came aboard our sloop did not take along the brass fitting from Black Cove!”

“Probably didn’t recognize it as of value, Stan,” John suggested. “Dago wouldn’t be likely to think of it, unless he’s brighter than I think he is! ‘From sea to shining sea,’” laughed John, “I’ll never forget how scared Dago was and still is of the boys who helped get Dapper Dan Hogan! Such is the result of publicity and luck!”

“Stow the gab, sailor,” Stan said, grinning, “and put down that doughnut you just reached for. We’ve got work to do.”

He hurried to the deck and began taking the[56] strops off the furled mainsail, and the lanky youth ran to the jibs to do the same. In a few minutes the mainsail was being raised till the throat of it was taut. Then the peak went up tightly, and the jibs were raised. The Water Witch was filled off in the fitful noonday breeze puffing into the cove, as the anchor broke ground and was hauled aboard. Dipping with a courtesy, and rippling along, the black sloop crossed the cove, and as she did so John lay in the bow, peering over as casually as possible, as if idling on the deck. To anyone watching from the hills he would have appeared to be killing time, but in reality he was trying to see below the surface of the cove!

Shaking his head negatively after a few minutes, John sat up while the center of the cove was left behind and the Water Witch came into sight of the channel entrance. Outside a brisk sea was running, for the breeze, which dropped only fitful cat’s-paws down into the cove, was blowing steadily in the open. Whitecaps shattered and broke along the tips of the rollers, and the Water Witch, with sheets eased, ran out through the channel rapidly.

[57]“A swell day for sailing, Stan!” John called back. “Let’s head for Europe!”

“We’ve got plenty to do at home, John,” Stan replied. “Come on aft, and let’s figure things out, if we can.”

Grinning happily as the sloop ran lee rail deep through the marching waves, John came aft to the cockpit, reached into his pants’ pocket for a doughnut, and sat back to talk and eat.

“I’ve got it—(crunch-crunch)—all figured out, Skipper!” John said.

“Let’s have it, old boy.”

“Well—(crunch-crunch)—let’s sail to another cove farther down the island,” John said triumphantly, “getting in there—(crunch-crunch)—after dark, and then come back to our cove overland!”

“Go get yourself a brace more of doughnuts, John,” Stan said, chuckling, “if you can get schemes like that out of a doughnut! Just my idea too, exactly, and that’s what we’ll do. Let’s go over to Main Haven for the fun of it, to kill time.”

“Swell!” was John’s single comment.

[58]The Water Witch was cruising quietly along save for the hum of taut rigging and the splash and run of water along her sides, for she was trim of line, fast, and able. Main Haven was a small port of call on the nearest point of the mainland. It would take all the rest of the day to reach it and return, and the skipper of the Water Witch did not want to get back till nearly dark. There would be watchful eyes upon the hilltop backbone of Porpoise Island, if Stan’s suspicions were correct, and he was already afraid Mr. Nevens suspected them too.

And Stan was not far wrong.

Back at the cove Mr. Nevens, in the seclusion of his private office in the back of that wonderful cabin, was confronting a nervous, apprehensive Dago.

“Well, did you do as I told you to, Dago?” Mr. Nevens inquired mildly, sitting back with his feet upon his desk and a cheap cigar in his mouth.

He’d never been able to take to expensive smoking, had the peculiar Mr. Nevens. Cheap black cigars were still a pleasure to him. It was[59] a throw back to his earlier days when he had been somewhat less than well-padded with money and power——On the walls of his den were odd things: a cartridge belt and brace of six-guns slung in open scabbards. The handles of each gun had crude notches, several notches. A big sombrero also hung upon a big peg.

Dago, big and hulky, stirred nervously upon his great feet before the stare of the tall, lean, much older man.

“I got out the punt, poled along under the trees round the cove, without any noise. When I gotta to the boat, I climbs aboard like you said——”

“Wearing rubber gloves!” interposed Mr. Nevens, sharply.

“You betta the life I wore rubber gloves!” Dago came back eagerly, and beads of sweat began to appear upon his forehead.

“Go on,” said his employer, quietly, puffing softly on the cigar.

“Then I goes down into the cabin and looks around. I don’t find nothin’ at all like-a you wanted.”

“Not a thing?”


“No letters of any kind at all?”

“Just one letter, like-a from another boy. They ain’t-a no talk bout you and me in there.”

“You sure you read it carefully, you ignorant fool?” Mr. Nevens demanded.

Dago trembled a little again.

“I read-a every word-a. Slow. And I did find-a one those cameras special for G-men!”

Mr. Nevens puffed slowly and hard, his eyes smouldering. He put his feet down upon the floor, leaned forward now, elbows on desk, and staring into Dago’s black eyes.

“And you probably figured you were doing me a big favor by smashing it!”

“How did you know?” asked Dago, startled. “I didn’t-a tell-a you!”

“You didn’t have to, Dago. You know that! I guess I know ten years ahead just what you’ll do and say any given minute. Twenty years worrying over you from the Tonto Trail to this place has taught me that you’re almost more bother and worry than——”

“I’ll do what you say, Cowboy! Honest I will!”[61] Dago cried as if his employer had threatened him with death or torture.

“O.k., Dago. I was just giving you fair warning, that’s all. Now, did you see anything else?”

Dago named almost everything he had handled in the cabin of the Water Witch and Mr. Nevens, known as “Cowboy” to his henchman, made no remarks till Dago casually spoke of “A piece of brass like-a from a yacht.”

“Brass fitting? Did it have—what was it like?” Mr. Nevens demanded, sharply.

Dago described it as best he could. Mr. Nevens purpled till his leathery face was a mask of rage.

“And you left that fitting behind?”

“Yes. I no see what-a good it was!”

Mr. Nevens rose to his feet, suddenly quiet in manner. He stepped directly in front of Dago and was about to turn and walk away, dismissing Dago, when he suddenly asked, “Where are the gloves, Dago?”

The man stuttered.

“I thought I heard some one coming and I getta nervous and take off the gloves to put them in my pocket!”

[62]“Let’s have them!”

Dago put his hand in his pocket and withdrew it at once, cursing, and pop-eyed.

“Gone!” he said, simply, and in terror.

At Main Haven the Water Witch tied up to the steamboat wharf while the two boys went ashore for peanuts, and a glass of soda. A little later they climbed aboard again, cleared the harbor, and headed back for Porpoise Island. The sun was getting low long before they drew down on Porpoise Island. The chart showed two good coves and inlets along both sides, and they chose one on the further end of the island. It was sheltered, had good holding bottom, and the entrance was wide and free of rocks. The breeze was dying with the setting sun as usual on good summer days at the Catlow Islands and they slid into the cove, hours later, on a light night wind, under the stars. A thin crescent moon hung in the sky, but gave very little light. It was an ideal night for the task in hand.

Getting into their bathing suits, the boys prepared to go ashore. Stanley grinned as he took[63] a length of cloth and tied the binoculars on top of his head, so that he looked as though he had a toothache to boot. Then, thus keeping the glasses dry, he let himself slowly and carefully into the water and started for the beach. John followed as silently as possible and they were shortly ashore.

“We’ll follow the paths along the hilltops, John,” Stan said, “till we get to the places we saw to-day. Then we’ll go along the cove and to the shore. If we get separated, we’ll meet at the place where the path goes into the clearing, where Mr. Nevens confronted us this morning.”

“O.k., Skipper, let’s go.”

Untying the cloth, Stanley tucked the binoculars under one arm, wrapped the cloth about his waist for safe-keeping, and they went along in the starlit darkness adventure bent. It was a matter of a mile or so to the cabin, and they made it without any difficulty, for they held to a general direction by the stars and soon were down on the shore of the cove.

Out in the center of the cove lights moved about on a low boat as men worked. Voices drifted back[64] but no words could be distinguished. The night glasses showed the boat to be a low working barge, and there were five or six men upon it. Among them the starlight glinted on metal, rounded and shiny! The startled G-man’s son, grunting, handed the binoculars to John.

“What do you make out, John?”

“Thunderous herds of beetle-bugs!” murmured John, “and droves of winter cabbage! A diver!”

“John, I guess we’re on the trail of something illegal. Here is a diving operation being carried on at night. Why avoid daylight, which is dangerous enough, underwater? What is down there on the cove floor? And, if a wreck, what does it contain?”

“Let’s swim out and get a closer look, Stan!”

“Two of us might attract attention. You keep watch, here, and I’ll go out there, John.”

Protesting, John was left upon the bank, while Stan plunged in and swam slowly and carefully out into the cove. John watched the faint ripples of Stan’s progress for several minutes. Fifteen minutes went by, during which time he lost track[65] of his friend against the dark water of the cove, then he heard a loud outcry from the men upon the barge, saw a rowboat push away, and knew that Stan had been discovered!

With fast beating heart, John Tallman stared through the binoculars as the boat rowed hard, then slowed. That would mean that Stan had gone underwater trying to elude his pursuers! Suddenly the shout went up again and the boat darted off in a new direction. This time there was a struggling at the end of the row and John knew Stan had been captured! What could he do to help his chum? He did not know, but an idea came to him and he did not hesitate to act upon it. Undoubtedly they would take Stan to the cabin. So John did not wait to see that done. Instead, he darted up the trail, raced pell-mell along the ridge of the Island for the sloop! It would not have mattered if it were ten miles to go instead of two! He had to get there and come back!

In the meantime Stanley Sandborn sat huddled and cold in the bottom of a boat while he was rowed to the barge. There he was hauled dripping to the deck and stood up in the middle of a[66] group of hard faced men. One of them was Mr. Nevens!

“Well, my boy, and what are you doing, snooping round here?” inquired Mr. Nevens.

Stan did not know what to say. If, by any chance, Mr. Nevens were a law-abiding citizen and minding his own business, Stan was then a stupid trespasser! And if he were really a criminal, Stan’s remarks could not release the youth. The boy held his tongue and made no reply.

“Take him to the house, Dago,” ordered Mr. Nevens, “and stick him in room 8.”

Dago grabbed the youth by the nape of the neck with evident delight at his opportunity, and half flung, half pushed him into another boat. Then he pushed off and began rowing ashore with his captive. But he had not reckoned with Stan’s brains!

They had hardly got halfway to the boat-house when Stan pointed ahead. “Look, Dago!” he said, as if surprised.

Obligingly, Dago turned to glance over his shoulder. There was nothing unusual there. The big yacht had gone, and no lights showed. He[67] turned back, angrily—and his eyes popped! Stan had disappeared.

Sick at the thought of what Mr. Nevens would say, and do, Dago rowed in frantic circles trying to find his escaped prisoner! When Stan broke water, after a minute of stiff swimming, he came up yards from the circling boat.

Afraid to yell for help, yet afraid to lose Stan, Dago grunted savagely and rowed towards the youth.

“Dago, you fool!” cried Mr. Nevens from the barge. “Where you going to?”

“It’s o.k., Cowboy, o.k.!” Dago replied, cheerfully, then bent to his oars, cursing under his breath.

It was twenty minutes before he closed again with the desperate youth and hauled him, fighting, aboard. Then he gave the youth such a clip under the short ribs that Stan lay doubled over, sick and gasping, while the boat was rowed to the boat-house. He was still weak and sick when Dago carted him ashore and began marching him up the path to the cabin!

But, sick as he was, Stanley Sandborn was not[68] licked yet, and, as his breath came rapidly back, and they neared the door of that cabin, Stan took one deep breath, and darted off across the clearing!

He made a path before Dago and led that worthy a merry chase. Had he been fresh, Stan would have easily gotten away. As it was, Dago was just a step or two behind all the time, and Stan eluded capture for a while only by twisting about and turning from the outstretched hands of the man.

Dago grabbed him again, however, and triumphantly dragged him towards the cabin door, hugely satisfied with his luck in at last cornering the youth. This time Stan would not escape him, he said aloud, and got an even tighter grip upon the youth’s right arm. Stan knew that this time he could not escape, being winded, sick, and gripped by a powerful hand. Frightened, but game, he was dragged to the cabin door, and Dago reached out his hand to press upon that door.

Even as he did so he gave a loud outcry of pain! His hand let go of Stanley, and he began running[69] in short circles, grabbing at his pants’ seat, and bellowing with alarm as if stung by a whole nest of hornets!

“Oh-h-h!” he bellowed, “I’m dead, dying! Ouch! Fire, bees! Wan Ho Din, help!”

Stanley Sandborn thought himself too tired to run, but he now seized his chance and darted for the path to the cove! There he almost collided with his chum. The two of them headed for the hilltop and towards the Water Witch.

And it was not until they slowed down to catch their breaths some distance from the cabin that Stanley turned looks and words of inquiry upon his friend.

For answer, John handed Stan an object he had been carrying.

It was his bow. And he had three or four arrows tucked away in a light quiver over his shoulder!


Fighting for Life

THEY paused but little in covering the distance to the cove where their sloop lay at her anchor and less time was taken in swimming out to her. Clambering aboard they hauled up the mainsail and foresails as rapidly as possible, swung the anchor aboard and laid a course at all possible speed for the comparative safety of the open bay. Far across the water glittered a few lights—the outposts of Centerport’s homes, and towards those lights the boys now headed with sheets eased before the steady bay breeze. Dipping and swaying, the brave little vessel raced for home.

At the wheel John did an expert job of getting every bit of speed out of the boat, as they left the western end of Porpoise Island. Stan sat in the cockpit, watchful eyes studying the fading outlines of the island against the stars, as if he expected[71] something to be seen there. His hunch proved right, for he gave a low whistle and pointed aft.

“See, John! Lights! The pursuit is on! We’re in for something and it isn’t play!”

“But, if Mr. Nevens really is after us, why didn’t he try to find and catch me, Stan, to-night, instead of just sending you off with Dago? Modest piles of doubloons, and knee-deep heaps of silver bullion!”

Stan had briefly told of his part of the adventure, confirming John’s visual knowledge of what had happened out on the cove and John had told of his race for the bow and arrows, and of arriving just in time to wing the bulky Mr. Dago. John’s suspicion was sound—why had not Mr. Nevens ordered an immediate search for John, since he knew both boys very likely would be about the island together?

“I figure he did, as soon as he could without scaring us too seriously. John, that man is up to some nefarious work and he wants to keep us innocent of the facts. But he’ll catch us if he possibly can! And, unless I’m far wrong, we’ll hear[72] water spraying from the bow of racing speedboats long before we hear their motors!”

“Let them come, Stan. We’ll fight.”

“Don’t forget this, John—we’ll be fighting for our lives! And it will be bows and arrows against bullets!”

“Chills and fevers! Bones of long-lost galleons!” John cried. “Do you really think they’d kill us?”

“I do! We’ve got a reputation, John, as Sleuths, and they know we’ve got clues enough to start an investigation. Any attitude of innocence we may have kept up was finished by my swim into the cove to-night!”

Lights were now winding down into the cove the boys had just left, but Stan was wrong in one thing.

“Get those kids alive, do you understand?” Mr. Nevens, back at the barge, had ordered as soon as Stan had been spotted in the water of the cove. As soon as Dago had captured Stan and was taking him away in the rowboat, another boat had pushed off to the other side of the cove, bearing two men with lights. And still others had begun[73] to scour the island in other directions. Only the bare feet of the boys, treading in silence and speed along the pathways, had saved them from being taken before reaching the Water Witch—that and the fact that Mr. Nevens and his men did not know where the sloop was anchored. He had ideas, but it would take time to verify them.

One speedboat from the boat-house had gone humming out of the channel and along the sea side of the island, searching for a little black sloop. Another had followed the first outside, then turned eastward, rounded the snout of the Porpoise and gone down the north side. But Porpoise Island has dozens of fine little anchorages along its shores and it took time to go in and out in the dark with all eyes watching for a tell-tale mast against the stars and an almost invisible hull! That alone had helped to delay the pursuit so that the Water Witch was well on her way before the men had covered the island and surrounding waters.

“They ain’t-a here, men!” Dago remarked, in one of the gray boats, the one in the bay. “Let’s swing out and zig-zag the bay. I’d like ta get my[74] paws on the kid that slung that arrow! I break-a the neck!”

“Talk’s cheap, Dago!” remarked one of the other men who, at the wheel of the swift boat, guided it expertly across the dark waters while spray cascaded on either side. “You hurt either of those kids and Cowboy will chop your ears off!”

“I s’pose he wants-a to make soup of them himself, eh, Butch?” queried Dago sarcastically.

They could cover the miles back and forth across the bay at an alarming speed, zooming almost in silence save for the constant rasping of spray flying like sheets of metal, so fast was the passage of the powerful boat, bouncing and plunging in long swoops through the waves. They passed within a hundred yards of the Water Witch twice and did not see her, then Dago began using a potent searchlight which he swung in all directions. Mile after mile they raced, Dago urging more and more speed, confident that the sloop could not be far towards Centerport yet.

Then the light fell upon white canvas for a split second!

“There she is! Circle back!” ordered Dago.

[75]They swung and skidded on a sharp turn, came humming back, the searchlight played on canvas again, and the boat closed in!

On the Water Witch the white spray of the searching boat had been long audible and visible even in the night as it raced back and forth and, knowing that the shortest distance to home was in a straight line, the sailboat had held its course. But the boys were ready, their bows and arrows in the cockpit, and sharp boat hooks also handy.

“Let them have a brace of arrows in the most visible part, John, and put sting in the flight of those arrows!” Stan remarked. “And don’t quit fighting unless you’re completely overpowered or nearly dead!”

“Right, Skipper! See, the searchlight!”

Back and forth moved the light, seeking them out, and on they sailed; then the light blinded them for a moment! They had been spotted. The light went past, the spray whipped like a lash on the breeze, and circled back. The light again blinded them and this time stayed upon them.

Low in the cockpit, with sheet belayed and the wheel steadied by his feet against the lower spokes,[76] while the sloop held her course, John put an arrow to his bow and drew back the cord slowly. Stan, in the spot near the cabin slide, did likewise, estimating the distance and trying to spot an opponent in the light. Nothing could be seen but that light, but arrows aimed at it should find a mark!

Any second might bring the rat-rat of a machine gun and death but the two chums had been through that sort of situation before and they stood their ground, hoping, waiting!

The boat came on towards the Water Witch, slower now, and began to run alongside.

“You keeds!” yelled Dago. “Come on now, lay down those bows before you getta hurt! You come on peaceful and we no—break your necks!”

“Guess you’ll have to come and get us, Mr. Dago!” scoffed Stan, loudly.

A loud roar of laughter came from the boat; the other men were amused at Dago’s sputtering and swearing reply. Dago was Nevens’ right hand man, and it amused these lesser henchmen to see him baited by a couple of boys! Dago practically frothed with anger.

[77]“I’ll skin you keeds alive!” roared Dago, and ordered the speedboat alongside the sloop.

Somewhat accustomed now to the glare of the light, Stan and John could make out men back of the searchlight and most visible was big Dago. As the boat swung over, two steel-pointed hunting arrows zipped through the air, carefully regulated by two boys fighting for their lives, so that, allowing for the rolling boats, and the wind, they would find a mark! Dago gave one terrified squawk of amazed agony and leaped backwards right onto the helmsman! With a sputter and then a cascading leap of spray off the bows, the speedboat darted past the stern of the Water Witch!

The boys lost no time getting in two more arrows and from the yells of pain, those stinging barbs must have gone into flesh! A hunting arrow, at that range, is a penetrating projectile and there would be no more pursuit that night from the gray speedboat.

In the cold waters of the bay a fat, swarthy man swam slowly and painfully, bellowing to the stars his opinion of bows and arrows, cold water, fools of helmsmen, and the two boys in particular. The[78] wounded helmsman, for he had received the second brace of arrows as well as one of Dago’s big feet in the face, lay helpless and moaning in the boat while the others attempted to find Dago who had fallen overboard. They circled slowly, using the light, for a full half hour, before locating the center of the volley of exploding oaths and yells, then pulled the wet and wounded Dago into the rear compartment of the boat.

“Head for Porpoise Island,” ordered Dago. “We need an army and navy to getta those keeds!”

Humming, the boat made her way back to Porpoise Island and into the channel and the cove to find the other gray boat also back at the boat-house. A nervous group of men, to the number of twenty or more, filed into Mr. Nevens’ den a little later. These men, with the exception of Dago and a very few others, were usually hidden away in the side-passages of the underground part of the cabin during the daytime, to emerge at night to do the bidding of their chief. Naturally, Mr. Nevens had avoided these alleys when showing his young guests about during the daytime. Now[79] he sat in his chair, feet on desk, smoking a black cigar. He was not pleased.

“Here I send you fellows out to pick up a couple of young kids and you muff the thing,” Mr. Nevens said, softly. “And yet you expect to be big shots in the plans we’ve got mapped. What good are you, the lot of you?”

“Cowboy,” Dago admonished, “did you ever get an arrow stuck in you?”

Mr. Nevens smiled slowly and expansively.

“No,” said he, happily. “But, if you get any more, I’ll mistake you for a pincushion!”

The Water Witch had now taken an abrupt change in her course. Left behind were the lights of Centerport. Instead, she was shaping her way westward towards Point Zenith and the village there.

“There’s an ideal spot, just round the point, for what I’ve got planned, John,” Stan explained, as he stood his own trick at the wheel while John brought up a bag of doughnuts and sandwiches.

“What you planning, Skipper? You know, they’ll be after us at daybreak! Honey-coated biscuits—how that Dago loves arrows!”

[80]His last remark was an afterthought and both boys chuckled with amusement.

“They’ll search for us till they find us, John. But I’ve got a plan.”

“What is it?”

“A plan that ought to work, unless I miss my guess, at least till we get the dope on Mr. Nevens and his crowd.”

John was consumed with curiosity.

“Batten down the main hatches and show the cook the door—give us the plan before I bust!” he cried.

“First, we’ll buy some white paint at Zenith Village, John, and at daybreak paint the sloop white. We’ll keep the sails furled, except the jib.”

“Except the jib?” asked John, mystified.

“Sure—we’ll take that off, and also the bowsprit!”

“I get it!” John said, admiringly. “You’re going to re-rig the Water Witch!”

“Exactly. But first, I want to disguise her till we can get a Marconi mast, new sails, and a chance to paint the underbody and the top sides.”

[81]“The name, Stan!” warned John.

“Of course, we’ll have to change the name. Too bad, too, because I like the one she has!”

It was indeed too bad to have to so change the Water Witch but there seemed no other way out. As Stan knew, they must not be recognized at Porpoise Island as the sloop which had been poking into the affairs of Mr. Nevens. Besides, the Marconi rig should be faster and easier to handle. It would prevent them from going under the bridge at Lape’s Island and mooring at their float-stage but that problem would have to be faced later. Stan and John were sensible enough to realize that their lives hung in the balance and they must meet things as they came.

“Maybe Dad could suggest a new name, John,” Stan said quietly.

“Then we’re going to let him in on the case, Stan?”

Stan grinned in the darkness.

“Sure—of course. I wouldn’t dare to do this unaided! We can take care of the changes in the boat and do a lot of detective work alone but, in the showdown, if this Mr. Nevens is a big criminal[82] the F. B. I. has got to be in to take the men prisoners. Say, Dad will think us a couple of fools for luck, won’t he! We go on a pleasure cruise, and right smack into more trouble!”

They rounded Point Zenith under the red gleams of the blinking lighthouse and came to an anchor in a secluded spot. As the sails came down and were stropped for the night, Stan explained what else he had in mind.

“We’ve got to get to Centerport after disguising the boat, John, and get in touch with Dad. Then we’ll have to get our new mast and sails out and rigged soon. We’ve got work ahead of us!”

“And what gets me, Stan, is—why won’t Mr. Nevens and his playful boys recognize you and me even if they don’t know the new sloop?”

“Simple. He’s only seen us a matter of an hour or so, except for the pictures the newspapers printed, and all we have to do is change our clothes to something quite different from our usual ones to disguise ourselves. Hats will help a lot!”

“Do you suppose,” asked John, “that a lavender and pink sweater in stripes would be inconspicuous?”


Conference with a G-Man

IT WAS well after midnight before the two boys turned in for the night, setting their alarm clock to ring at daybreak. And at dawn they awoke and held council.

“The village stores open about seven-thirty or so, John,” Stan said as they ate a hearty breakfast. “You go for the paint while I get out that small can of black paint we had left from the last job and mark out a new name. What will we call her now?”

“Not going to ask your Dad?”

“I think not, because, I’ve a hunch the Porpoise Island crowd may poke into here looking for us and if we have a new name on the boat it will help disguise her. What do you suggest, John?”

“Let’s call her ‘Staghound’!”

“Sounds o.k. That was the name of a famous clipper, wasn’t it?”

[84]“I think so.”

Staghound it is then!” Stan rejoined.

Breakfast finished, and time drawing on towards the opening of the stores, they set the mainsail and took in the anchor. They sailed to the landing of the town and moored to the pilings there. The tide was going out and, by fastening her properly towards the shore end of the pier they knew she would be almost high and dry at low tide, resting on the sand. This would enable Stan to paint in the lettering and John to help slap the white paint onto her hull. John hurried for the paint and Stan went over-side and, standing up to his neck in the water, began blocking out the new name over the old name. He was still so engaged when John came back lugging the new paint and a small can of tan top-side paint for the cabin.

With the black paint left from the time the Water Witch had been painted at Cedar Island, Stan began painting in the new name neatly while the tide dropped and left him standing up to his knees in the water now. In the meantime John had washed down the rest of the hull and was repainting[85] it white. It had to be a heavy, well spread coat to cover the old black, but John was equal to the task, and by the time the tide was coming back, towards noon, both boys had put finishing touches on the white and were giving the top sides—cabin trunk and top—a coat of tan. At dinner time they were amused by the townspeople who came down to witness the changes in the Water Witch. After a good meal, they went back to work, sawing off the bowsprit, after taking down the outer stay to the mainmast head and unhooking the jib. A plane from the tool box now came in handy to smooth down the stump of the bowsprit, and putty and white paint with a tan topping soon disguised the bow of the Staghound!

“Might as well work away and finish the job as fast as we can to-day, eh, John?” Stan said, as they dumped the remains of the forward spar into an old pile of lumber at the end of the wharf. “Let’s rig a tripod and take out the mast!”

It was a good afternoon’s work to rig a tripod of oak “sills” from that lumber pile and with a heavy tackle and the help of a couple of wharf[86] “idlers” to swing out the mast and lay it upon the wharf. By that time an interesting thing had taken place. One of the onlookers offered to buy the mast and sails when he found out they were no longer wanted.

“Don’t know why you want to ruin a good boat, young fella,” said the man, “but I’ll take that mast fer a price and the sail, effen you say the word!”

They dickered over the price a few minutes and when they were through Stan had some twenty-five dollars toward the new mainsail and Marconi mast!

“Just a drop in the bucket compared to what that new mast will cost, John, but it’ll help!” laughed Stan. “And Nevens will never know the mast on another boat!”

All day they had kept a weather eye open for gray speedboats running in from Point Zenith, but none came till about supper time. By that time, as they were about to go below for a meal, having got the Staghound away from the wharf on a high tide, and anchored some distance out in the harbor after the judicious use of a pair of[87] oars for forced sculling, they were not surprised to see what they had expected!

Round the point roared a speedboat, humming softly into the harbor. The boys ducked below and peered out the cabin ports watching the boat circle around. Would the men in that boat recognize the Staghound? But they need not have had any fear for, without her short mast, and her bowsprit and without her black sides and the name on her stern, the old Water Witch was a strange object, just another white yacht!

“Don’t see them!” came a familiar voice and the gray boat hummed right past the Staghound!

It was Dago, sitting in the bow seat of that runabout, a worried frown on his far from handsome face! Stan could not suppress a gleeful chuckle.

“How I’d like another pot shot at you, Mr. Dago!” cried Stan, softly.

John was grinning like a cat.

“Me too. Tamp me down with a ten-pound weight!”

They watched the boat disappear around the point again, and then gave sighs of delighted relief.[88] They ate with gusto, cracking jokes, and figuring the size of mast and area of sail needed for the revamped sloop. The rough estimate of money involved was a bit staggering but they had a large sum of reward money due from the Hogan case and knew that Mr. Sandborn would insist on lending them enough to take care of the present need. After supper, their figures in hand, as near as they could tell, they went to bed to get a few hours’ sleep.

As they lay in their bunks Stan spoke of the Sea Hawk, the yacht they had seen in the cove.

“The Sea Hawk figured in several rum-running cases, John,” he explained, “and got out of them through technicalities. Fitted out as a yacht in every way, she can still carry a load of anything illegal that the underworld might want to transport or sell! I wonder who owns her now and why she was at Black Cove. Does Nevens own her?”

John grunted.

“Don’t ask me riddles, to-night, Skipper. Blast my tenpins and sing out when the whales breach—but I’ll be glad when this case is solved!”

[89]“And why the salvage job in Black Cove, divers, night work? What ship was she? What is still aboard her?”

“All I know, Stan, is that Dago is a bad actor, and Mr. Nevens is no better than he should be! Think of that secret laboratory, his aquariums, his underground passages, all his electrical devices! And none of his boats seem to show riding lights or running lights at night!”

“Since the law requires running lights when under way——”

“We didn’t show running lights ourselves last night, Stan,” John remarked, interrupting.

“That’s right, and well we didn’t, for they’d have found us sooner!”

“Anyhow, Nevens’ boats break the law all the time, it seems, and that alone is an indication of criminal guilt!”

“You’re right, John. I know this much—we’re on the trail of something big, and it ought to be out in the open before long when the G-men get on the trail!”

They went to sleep after that, and the alarm woke them late that night. They up-anchored,[90] and sculled into the town pier; then they moored the Staghound securely, locked the cabin slide tightly, and hurried through the dark streets bound for Centerport. The last street car for the night was just leaving the tiny depot when they boarded it, and it bore them swiftly towards their home city, about ten miles away.

They alighted from the car at the center, and hurried homeward through the deserted streets.

“Nevens will stop at nothing to get us, John,” Stan said, as they got near home. “So don’t be surprised if some one is hanging around outside my house! He could locate our homes from the street directory and plant watches ’round them. We’ll have to get in by a roundabout way!”

This they did, going to Stan’s home first, coming to the house through a back street and over the back fence, quietly, and being admitted by Mrs. Sandborn. She was, of course, delighted to see her son and his chum; so was Mr. Sandborn, who was reading in comfort by a log fire at the fireplace.

“I’ll call your mother, John,” Stan’s mother said, going to the phone, “and let her know you[91] are here while you and Stan raid the pantry.”

A few minutes later, munching a sandwich, John talked with his folks over the phone, saying he’d drop in for the night in a short while. Then the boys adjourned to Mr. Sandborn’s den where, amidst curious objects of many sorts, ship models, deer horns, and guns, the boys related their many adventures in detail. The good-looking, youngish G-man listened intently, frowning from time to time as they talked and asking many questions. Then they showed him the brass fitting which they had brought with them, the pair of rubber gloves, and a few papers with smudges on them.

“Guess you were right, Stan, no fingerprints on these papers,” said the G-man after a careful study of the smudges. “And this brass fitting is part of the rail of some yacht.”

“Who do you s’pose Mr. Nevens is, Dad?” Stan asked anxiously.

“I’m not sure, but he sounds very like an old time Western bandit known as ‘Cowboy Nevada’! Your description fits him and he has not been seen about his old haunts for several years. It may interest you to know that the F. B. I. wants him for[92] a Federal bank robbery! I guess Mr. Nevens is due for a little investigation! And Dago sort of clinches my opinion because he fits the description of Nevada’s side-kick and companion in crime, ‘Bats Duplisse’—gunman and stick-up artist of the West.”

“What are you going to do, Dad?” Stan asked; “and what do you want us to do?”

“Keep right on with your plans. Finish your re-rigging job on the Water—I mean Staghound—and then go back to the Island. Get some pictures of everything of interest, good clear prints. Get fingerprints of everyone round there, if you can. This cook ‘Wan Ho Din,’ now, might mean something to the F. B. I. if we had a fingerprint to compare with our files. Excuse me a few minutes while I talk with the Chief and see what he says.”

He returned to the den fifteen minutes later after quite a talk on the long distance wires with the Chief in Washington, and his face was serious.

“I’ve been assigned to this case, boys. I’m going to look Porpoise Island over for a while. How and when I may see you again in the next[93] week or so I cannot be sure, of course, but you may see me down there and, unless I speak first, don’t act as though you knew me for, even if we were alone, spies might be watching and listening. In a pinch, I’ll find some way of getting in touch with you, and in the meantime, and at any time, get a message to 27 Eagle Street, in Main Haven, asking for ‘John.’ John is a G-man who runs what appears to be an ordinary grocery store. Actually, he is operating on a case down there and will know what to do in a jam.”

After that, John Tallman went home by a back way to sleep for the night, and Stan hit his own bed with grateful sighs. It had been agreed that both boys would remain at their homes for twenty-four hours, hidden in case Nevens had watchers on the lookout, then the next night they would leave early in the morning so that they could pick up the Marconi mast and new sails at the marine store. The order was to be placed in the morning, and, by paying extra, delivery could be made next day, especially as they could change their sail plan a bit to favor any small Marconi mast which the store might have on hand.

[94]Indeed, next morning Stan was lucky enough to contact the store on a mast in stock and a sail and jib to fit! This was great luck. And furthermore, the delivery was to be made at the wharf in Zenith Village! It now would only be necessary for the boys to be in Zenith to sign for the delivery!

But the day at home was a restless one for both boys. John tinkered in his little workshop down cellar when not eating, and Stan haunted the windows, and read from an adventure magazine between times. His vigilance at the windows was rewarded late that afternoon when he spotted a stranger hovering about the next corner. The man glanced once in a while at the Sandborn home.

The G-man himself had left in the early morning to go on the case, wearing ordinary clothes and carrying his service gun in an armpit holster.

He went by street car to the depot and took a train for Main Haven, arriving there around ten o’clock. Casually, as if merely shopping, he drifted into John’s place. The place was empty of customers at that moment, but he did not relax his attitude as John, smiling, came forward.

“And what can I get you, sir?” asked John,[95] his eyes meeting his “customer’s” with an unspoken question there.

“Nice lettuce you have,” the G-man said, picking up a head, and then continuing in an almost inaudible voice, while examining the vegetable, “New case. Have you received your instructions?”

“Yes, indeed!” rejoined John, winking. “And very fine it is!”

“Good. I’ll have—say, have you any carrots?” Mr. Sandborn remarked, and then added, “Seen anything of Nevens, Nevada, or whatever the name is?”

“No, not yet,” said the grocer, quietly. “But his cook comes in to buy the supplies.”

“Who is he?”

“Just what his name is. Nevens took him on four years ago. I never have seen Nevens himself, but townspeople have, and it sounds a little like Nevada.”

They talked in low tones till a customer came in, apparently interested in the sale of vegetables, and Mr. Sandborn made a few purchases and left. The Chief had already contacted the network of[96] agents all over the country, and concentration would soon begin on Porpoise Island if Mr. Sandborn’s investigations confirmed the boys’ reports.

Having no use for the vegetables he had bought, he left them on one of the back steps in the poorer section of the town, in as inconspicuous a manner as possible, being quite sure no one had seen him do so, and then went about his other business. He asked a hundred innocent questions that forenoon, making notes of everything, mentally, and trying to piece together parts of the facts. He visited the library, the yacht club, and the Sailor’s Snug Harbor, and gathered more facts.

The Sea Hawk was registered in the name of a “Mr. James Fitch, lawyer,” and her port of registry as New York. Some of the facts he learned made him smile, others caused him to whistle in a low tone. And then he saw a gray speedboat pulling into the town wharf at noon.

In it was a trio of men, all three stern faced, all three of medium build and in business suits. The leader appeared to be harder than the other two and smoked cigarettes constantly. They left their boat moored at the wharf and went briskly[97] uptown. Mr. Sandborn hurried to John’s store, slid into the back room, and there opened a small closet door. He removed his jacket and armpit holster and hung them on a peg, taking a stubby revolver from a small shelf and putting that into his pocket instead. Then he put on his jacket again and came out through the store.

He went down to the wharf, and, watching his opportunity, slid open a hatch over a motor in the gray boat, pulled a wire loose, and went back onto the wharf to lounge about. He had not long to wait, for the trio soon appeared, strode briskly down the wharf, and got into the boat.

But the motor would not start and the leader seemed impatient. Again the helmsman tried to start the motor. It sputtered a little but would not run. At once, of course, people began to come along the wharf, attracted by the missing motor. The men seemed anxious to be off. One of them cursed, and another lifted the hoods over the engines and began an examination. His ignorance of marine engines was very apparent, and he utterly overlooked the detached wire. Mr. Sandborn leaned over from the crowd and asked,

[98]“Won’t run?”

For answer the men glared up at the speaker.

“Mind if I try to start her?” queried Mr. Sandborn.

At that the leader frowned.

“If you can get her started right off—come on down and try it!”

Obligingly, Mr. Sandborn stepped down into the boat, and, because he knew something about marine engines, he went about his work with an air of knowledge that was convincing. None of the men and few of the other spectators noticed when he again attached the wire. He made a fuss over an adjustment on another part of the motor and then pronounced her ready to go!

The helmsman stepped on the starter and the motor purred into action, sweetly and powerfully.

“Thanks; what do we owe you?” asked the leader.

“Nothing, unless you know where I kin get a job, Mister,” said the G-man, casually.

The men exchanged looks. The crowd seemed interested and formed a rooting section. Half[99] urged by the mob and mostly by some knowledge of their own, the men told him to seat himself in the bow seat, and the leader promised to see his “boss about a job.”

The gray boat moved swiftly away from the wharf now, bearing a G-man bent on investigating what was to prove one of the most cleverly planned schemes the country has ever known! So stupendous a crime was planned that, had Mr. Sandborn known the facts that morning, he would have stayed ashore and sent in a hurry call for the entire G-man army. Instead he went blithely to his duty, playing the lone hand among that band of super-criminals!

They bore down on Porpoise Island, whizzed through the channel into Black Cove, and purred up to the boat-house and float-stage. And Mr. Nevens himself was coming down the wharf at that moment, smiling a greeting.


Thirty Per Cent or Fight

“WE HAVE a guest, I see,” remarked the smiling owner of Porpoise Island.

“This fella can fix engines, Boss,” said the leader of the boat’s crew. “We got stuck at Main Haven and he fixed the trouble in a jiffy. He’s outa work and I thought——”

Mr. Nevens, searching the G-man with an appraising stare, seemed satisfied as he interrupted the speaker with, “—Yes, we can find work for a man who knows how to tend marine engines!”

“Fine,” said Mr. Sandborn, “and what is the pay for the job?”

“Enough to satisfy you, Mister!” Nevens replied. “What else can you do?”

“Anything that’s wanted.”

“Anything, can mean a lot,” Nevens said, leading the way to the cabin. “Let’s talk this thing over.”

[101]In his private office he seated himself comfortably in his chair and, poising his feet upon his desk, lit a black cigar, and surveyed Mr. Sandborn more carefully than even before. He saw before him a medium built man with regular features of a determined nature and a habit of holding his hands as if ready to sling them up in attack or defence. That he might prove a valuable addition to his staff, Mr. Nevens, alias Cowboy Nevada, felt rather certain and he was toying with an idea. The idea involved big things and moves must not be too fast. Disaster might well result!

“Just who are you?” queried Nevada, quietly, his eyes watching the G-man’s face intently through a whisp of smoke from the cigar.

“The name is ‘Happy’ Gallagher,” responded the G-man, promptly. “I was born and reared in Kansas City, cut my teeth on a rod, and done some time in a jail or two till I wised up to the racket.”

“Just what is your racket, Gallagher?” Nevada asked, softly.

“Gallagher” grinned and leaned his hands on the desk as he said, “Doing jobs for big shots!”

[102]“For instance——?”

“I was right-hand man to Steve Hackinaw out in Chi three years back.”


Hackinaw was dead so Mr. Sandborn was fairly safe in that statement. Hackinaw had been “Big Time” in gambling rackets but was done in by rival factions. His right-hand man had been a fellow closely resembling Mr. Sandborn. Besides, the underworld had lost track of that “yes-man,” though G-men knew that he was dead! They had felled him in battle in a deserted suburban section and the facts had never got into the papers.

“I been taking it easy last few years, Nevada,” said Gallagher, “since the heat went on and just thought I’d try to land a job somewhere. By good luck I fell in with your men at Main Haven!”

“You seem to know me, Gallagher,” Nevada said, blowing smoke rings.

“Who doesn’t? You were big guns in the West and I’ve always figured you’d be somebody to tie up with. It sure was lucky of me to run into you.”

[103]“Dago ain’t gonna like it, Gallagher, should I use you as my trigger man.”

“Who’s scared of Dago, Nevada?”

“Well, I’ve got a little job for you. Dago’s kind of careless in some ways. I want you to keep an eye peeled for two young kids that have been snooping around here the last few days. You’ve heard of the kids that helped get Hogan?”

“Sure, I’ve heard of them. Who hasn’t? I’ll land them if they come round here again! I don’t like kids anyhow!”

“You do the job right, get these kids unharmed and turn them over to me, and I’ll make things right by you, Gallagher!” Nevada promised. “Dago’s about washed up, anyhow.”

“You’ve got big plans, Nevada, and you’re the one to see ’em through!” Gallagher said, in praise.

Nevada patted the six-guns in the scabbards on the wall.

“Gallagher,” he said, seriously, “when I was riding the hot towns and the road I didn’t know what I do to-night. I’ve got schemes up my sleeve that will make this country sit up and take notice. Right now I’ve got a network of men from Maine[104] to California in every big city and most towns—working for me and the day I’m ready to take things over in full!”

He made no offer to say more and Gallagher knew the wisdom of silence, so asked no more questions. But he knew that this ex-cowboy and bad-man was now a powerful underworld figure, and he knew that the search for Nevada was over the moment the word was sent to Headquarters. But the Chief would want to get the entire ring, the entire organization of Nevada’s crime network. And that would call for evidence, concrete and definite, and lots of it! It was arrest and imprison Nevada the bank-robber or wait and nab Nevada the leader of a stupendous crime syndicate and gather in his henchmen too!

Now the G-man was able to make use of many facts not clearly seen before. For a year or more the F. B. I. had seen the tentacles of a vast crime syndicate and had been unable to locate the brains of the system. In Omaha, a man had been kidnaped and a huge ransom collected. He was released, but the thing was so cleverly planned that even the F. B. I. could not yet put a finger on the[105] man back of the “snatch.” In New York City the vegetable markets had been paying tribute to a “cabbage king” in the form of special orders for cabbage at fixed prices “or else——!” Who was the “cabbage king”? Police would have liked to know. The lottery racket was flourishing throughout the nation. Dozens of rackets were springing up, never heard of before. And, instead of being able to trace it to one or two big shots, the F. B. I. had run up against stone walls and blind alleys because of crooked lawyers, tight-mouthed suspects, and the resisting surface of the underworld. Mr. Sandborn began to see that Cowboy Nevada was a big cog, if not the main cog, in this racket business. He had graduated from small time bank robbing to specialized crimes.

Now that took millions of dollars of money to keep “the machinery greased when starting!” Cowboy had gotten about fifty thousand dollars from that Federal bank and by the time he’d paid for “protection” and a “fence” to handle the “hot money,” there was probably half that sum left for his efforts. Therefore he’d gotten unlimited[106] wealth elsewhere. He might have made the money in the rackets themselves, but the G-man thought not. No, Nevada must have struck it rich suddenly and so got his grip on the underworld and the making of his syndicate.

Whatever happened, Mr. Sandborn must keep his identity secret, for these men would delight in the discovery that he was a law-man, particularly one of the dreaded G-men. They would find a way to get rid of him in some unpleasant manner and take their chances with the F. B. I. proving murder! He could not even be sure that Cowboy was not suspicious of him now. Time alone could prove that. In the meanwhile he must play his part as a gunman and aide to the syndicate head, learning all he could, memorizing everything, and getting to John and the boys all information possible to help convict these super-criminals.

Dago rapped for admission and upon entering scowled as he sighted Gallagher. Cowboy, shifting the cigar from one corner of his mouth to the other, watched the actions of both men with quiet amusement, then introduced the G-man to Dago.

[107]“Glad to know you, Dago,” Gallagher responded, offering his right hand.

Dago reddened.

“Well, can’t say I’m-a glad!” he retorted, ignoring the hand.

Cowboy’s features did not hint what he might be thinking as he puffed on the cigar without comment.

“Sorry you feel like that, Dago, it might be better fer you to be friends with me instead of giving me the cold shoulder. I ain’t never liked them kind of actions.”

Dago snorted in reply.

“Send up Wan Ho Din, Dago,” Cowboy ordered.

As Dago closed the door Cowboy grinned at Gallagher.

“Dago don’t care much for you, Gallagher.”

Gallagher said nothing, but laughed.

The Oriental cook came toddling in softly in a moment or two.

“You send flo me, Mister Nevens?” asked the cook, meekly.

“Great act, eh, Gallagher?” queried Cowboy,[108] laughing, then to the cook he said, “It’s o.k., Wan, to be yourself. Gallagher here is one of us.”

“That’s swell!” said the Oriental in plain American slang. “You sure hooked up with the right outfit when you signed on with—The Amalgamated Service Corporation of America!”

“Some name!” Gallagher said. “Of course it ain’t a real one!”

“No?” remarked Cowboy. “Take a look at that!”

He handed Mr. Sandborn some stationery with raised, fancy printed headings. The name was there, in full, with, “Raymond Nevens, President” in modest letters!

“Official stationery and all, Gallagher! That’s the way we do things! Like to see the thing worked?” he asked, his eyes glinting.

“Sure, go ahead, Cowboy.”

“Take a letter, Wan,” remarked Mr. Nevens.

Gallagher took a seat in a comfortable chair while the cook sat in another seat and began taking down a letter in short-hand as the astonishing Mr. Nevens dictated. It was a very cleverly worded letter which sounded businesslike and innocent[109] of wrong-doing but which really was full of veiled threats and intimidation. Addressed to a large contracting firm in New York it professed to offer “night watchman service for which a small fee is charged, considering the fine service given.” Actually, anyone on the inside track and knowing what the wording really meant, as Mr. Sandborn well did, the letter was an invitation to let the gangsters have ten per cent of the money received from every contract, for which ten per cent they would consent to keep the prospective buildings free from strikes and trouble while being built. Actually the letters implied that if this offer were not accepted serious consequences would result!

Mr. Sandborn knew the story of that system well. And he knew that the contractor, if of the usual type, would accept the offer because, as long as that gang existed, not only would his business be faced with ruin but his life might be taken as well! New York police could not cope with the gang for they could not locate its head, hidden as he was on one of the hundreds of islands along the coast, and surrounded by an excellent system of fake addresses, names, and a dozen[110] forms of legal detours. The F. B. I., once on the trail, would have men planted, as was Mr. Sandborn, right in with the gang when possible, and so learn its secrets and strike at the right time to clean up the mob.

“How’s that for a letter, Gallagher?” asked Nevens, as Wan Ho Din began to type out the final copy.

“It ought to get results!” agreed Mr. Sandborn truthfully. “Do you ever have trouble lining the boys up?”

“Tell him about Teverton Products, Wan!” suggested the happy Mr. Nevens proudly.

“Teverton Products made woolen blankets, Gallagher,” Wan said, “and we offered to increase their production for them by selling their blankets at higher prices to a string of hotels Mr. Nevens controls. Teverton Products refused to do business, partly because we wanted ten per cent of their year’s business from then on, so some of the boys did a little night work down there at the plant and a lot of machinery got bunged up. The mill hasn’t been doing so well since!”

“People must be fools not to see what we have[111] to offer,” Cowboy pointed out. “Suppose you’re in business making, let’s say, broom handles and handles for tools. Now, you ain’t doing extra well on account of your competitors is cutting prices on you. Well, you give us ten per cent of your profits and we’ll guarantee that your competitors will boost prices and that you’ll get, say, one hundred thousand dollars extra business that year!”

“That’s service!” Mr. Sandborn agreed.

“Well, we got about eighty per cent of the business in this country lined up now, Gallagher, and half of it don’t know it yet! But when the time comes, and it ain’t far distant, we’ll be cashing in on all of them. I’ve put about eight million dollars into this business and I’m getting five times that a year now, returns. I got a nice little nest egg of reserves left and I’m not sure how much, either. Bet you don’t know where the reserves is, either!”

Gallagher admitted that he had no idea where Cowboy kept his reserve cash.

Wan and Nevens exchanged looks and just smiled.

[112]“If you ain’t too busy to-night, Gallagher,” said the amiable Mr. Nevens, “I’ll show you something that’ll pop your eyes out!”

Dago rapped at that moment to announce visitors.

“Who is it, Dago?” Cowboy asked, pulling out another cigar and lighting a match.

“Machine-gun Hegarty hisself aboard the Sea Hawk!”

Mr. Nevens went taut about the jaws and bit hard on the unlit cigar.

“Stick around Gallagher, and listen to the fun,” said he, then to Dago he said, “Send him up, Dago. And keep an eye on his right-hand man. I don’t want no junk stolen.”

Now Mr. Nevens, for all his slang and roughness when in the privacy of his office, could be the soul of polished gentility when he desired, a veneer learned at the time he laid aside his old cowboy trappings and decided to cut himself a piece of the world’s cake. He displayed this refined side of himself now by putting the unlighted black cigar into his desk-drawer and lighting, instead, one of more expensive make.

[113]Machine-gun Hegarty came in with a flourish. He was some six feet five inches tall, broad-shouldered, groomed to a nicety, and correctly attired in every way for yachting.

He did not know Mr. Sandborn, whom he now met as Gallagher, but the G-man knew him well. Hegarty was one of those smooth confidence men with such a legal knowledge and society background that even his coarser moments of bloodshed were not provable in court. He had not acquired his nickname for nothing, for unlike most of the confidence gentry, Hegarty did not hesitate to use a machine gun upon his competitors when necessity required it. Loads of money spent on skilled and crooked lawyers and great care not to leave fingerprints near his crimes had kept the slippery Mr. Hegarty comparatively safe from the hands of justice; but Mr. Sandborn had an idea that justice would win the day before long. The F. B. I. would be interested in Mr. Hegarty’s entrance into the field of intimidation and the “service racket.”

“Charmed to know you, Mr. Gallagher,” Hegarty said, gravely shaking hands.

[114]He had a slimy manner about him not to be removed by his warm brown eyes and his well-shaven face. Dissipation had left lines about his eyes and a certain paleness about his jaws and his thin lips curled back from large teeth. Society folk spoke of him as “unique.” Mr. Sandborn thought a snake might be “unique” also, on occasion.

“And now to business, Nevens, old boy,” said Hegarty, turning to Cowboy.

“You know what my proposition is, Hegarty,” Cowboy said. “You come in with me on the society end of this game and I’ll protect you for thirty per cent of the proceeds.”

Hegarty frowned.

“Be reasonable, my dear Nevens.”

“Thirty per cent, Hegarty. I’m taking the risks for you. Surely, my good fellow, you wouldn’t leave me empty handed!”

“It’s too much, Nevens, old thing. I’ve a notion to disregard you entirely.”

“You forget how unhealthy that might be!” Cowboy sighed, quietly.

The other shifted in his seat.

[115]“You forget I’ve a reputation with a machine gun!”

“So has Gallagher, and so has Dago, Hegarty!”

The visitor arose abruptly.

“I can’t pay thirty per cent and I’m not going to. This is war, Nevens. You may think you can get control of this entire country, and you’ve murdered fifty men so far to do it, but I’m not done yet! Now I’ll make a proposition of my own—you pay me ten per cent from now on of your entire income, or I’ll rub you out!”

Gallagher knew that this was preposterous and so did Hegarty but it was said and done and it meant war between the two factions. That there might be instant gun-play in that small room, Mr. Sandborn had no fear. Both men were crack shots and each respected the other’s speed in drawing a weapon.

“Let’s make it a week from to-day, at midnight, Hegarty,” Nevens suggested.

“Fine, and get your bullet-proof vest on, Cowboy—you’ll need it!”

The charming Mr. Hegarty left after that without the formality of shaking hands and[116] Nevens put away the expensive cigar, breaking it in pieces in the ash tray, and getting out his old black one.

“Gallagher, I ain’t never seen none of your shootin’. What say you and Dago show me some typewriting?”

“O.k., Cowboy, let’s go.”

As a member of the F. B. I., Mr. Sandborn was an expert shot with side arms, machine guns, or rifles, far better, in fact, than any of the gangster rats he had yet met up with. He now followed Mr. Nevens out of the office and down through the building into the underground passages. Wan Ho Din, who had been a silent listener to the incident, was now sent to get Dago. He returned presently with the swarthy mobster and the party adjourned to a special long gallery at the end of which moving figures traveled on endless tracks just as in any shooting gallery.

The contestants took turns with revolvers, automatics, and machine guns and the gallery rang with the rain of gunfire. It became very apparent that the new gunman of the Nevens’ gang was far superior to Dago who had previously been the[117] best shot in the outfit and the fat man became angrier and angrier as the minutes passed.

“Well, Dago,” said Cowboy, “I guess that sort of washes you off the list as my right-hand man.”

“There’s one thing he ain’t done yet, Cowboy, and you was always one to say it had ta be done before you’d give me the gate!” sneered Dago, with hard eyes.

“And what might that be, Dago?”

“Let’s see how good-a this typewriter artist is with his fist in a free-for-all!” Dago cried, heatedly.

Mr. Sandborn knew what that meant—a fight free of rules. Anything would go! But he had to play this game through to the bitter end for the sake of law and order and the future of the F. B. I.

“Let’s get at it. O.k., Cowboy?”

Cowboy grinned with delight.

“Get going—you two!”


Hegarty’s Plans

AFTER a restless day at home and an even more restless night of fitful sleep, both Stanley Sandborn and John awoke and dressed in the still dark early morning hours. After bidding his brave mother good-bye, for she knew that the boys were mixed up in a dangerous adventure, Stan left by the cellar door for a very good reason. His reason proved sound for, as he vaulted the back fence he could make out, in the darkness, the figure of a man prowling the front sidewalk. As luck would have it, Stan fell heavily over something in the dark, and instantly he heard the sounds of running feet!

The stranger, who could be none other than a member of the Nevens gang, was in full pursuit!

Stanley got to his feet as the man came over the fence, and ran like a frightened hare across the next yard and down the next street. For several[119] minutes he ran, crossing yards, vaulting well-known fences. He’d done that in play many a time; now he was doing it in earnest and for life, and he was grateful for a knowledge of the territory about his home. So successful was he in shaking off his pursuer that he was able to get into John’s back yard just as John came out the door, and the two of them beat a hasty path down town. There they ate coffee and ham sandwiches in a small restaurant, and then walked briskly out of town towards Zenith. They were a mile or so from the city when the first street car came along, and they boarded it, riding the rest of the way to the village.

Stanley had told of the man who had chased him, and John, too, had a story to tell, about another who had hung about in the vicinity of the Tallman home all that day.

“We’ve got to be very, very cautious, John,” Stan commented, “if we expect to live long enough to bring this case to a close! I hope no one has monkeyed with the Staghound while we’ve been gone!”

They found the sloop untouched, and unlocked[120] the cabin slide. The morning was a bit chilly as fall was approaching, and the little cook range soon gave forth pleasant warmth while they discussed the day’s plans.

“The truck with the new mast, sails, and rigging should be here before noon, and I’ve got more than enough money to pay him. Mother drew it out of the bank for me yesterday. This morning let’s get the sloop closer inshore, and paint the underbody red. Then we’ll re-rig the interior here, make a secret-paneled closet for our fingerprint stuff and personal treasures, and Dago won’t know the place if he happens to snoop in here again, by any chance.”

They got the sloop closer inshore against the pier, and the tide left her quite high and dry so that they had no trouble putting a fresh coat of copper paint, red this time, over her previous coating of green. The truck brought the mast, sails, and rigging shortly afterwards, and Stanley and John set up another tripod of timbers from which to sling the new spar into place. With the aid of wharf idlers they soon had the beautiful, tapering Marconi mast in place, carefully “stepped,” and[121] the sails on. The new wire rigging was somewhat intricate because of the height of the mast, but it was in place by mid-afternoon and not until then did they knock off for a meal.

“All I hope, Stan, is that we’ve figured our sail area and center of that area correctly, or we’ll have a lemon of a boat on our hands! Sheets of whistling zinc and tons of paper plates—I’m nervous about that!”

“With the Marconi rig, John, there is one thing—we’ll have to try her out and tinker with the set of the stays until the sails draw right. And we’ve got to keep an eye on those stays if it begins to blow up hard. But we’ll be thankful for the ease of reefing in a blow!”

They set sail from the town wharf before supper time, and trouble began at once! The boat kept carrying a “wet nose” with every puff of wind. And at the same time she was hard to handle with that wheel.

They shifted a little of the pigiron ballast she carried under her cabin floor boards, moving it a few feet further aft, and after a few adjustments to tip the mast back a few inches, giving it a hint[122] of rake, she began to act with the normal airs of a good yacht. An hour of sailing and minor adjustments now brought things right, and Stan was enthusiastic at the way the Staghound tore along through the water of Zenith Harbor.

They were returning to their anchorage for the night when John gave an exclamation of warning.

“Duck, Stan! The Sea Hawk!”

Sure enough, standing round Zenith Light was the white-hulled Sea Hawk which they had seen in Black Cove. It was moving fast, as if its owner had business to attend to, and Stan whistled nervously.

“Get into a blue sweater and a white cap, John,” Stan ordered, “and bring up my old brown cap!”

By the time the Sea Hawk was closing up, the two boys could not have been recognized as the boys of Black Cove even if the men aboard the yacht had suspected who they were. Seated as they were in the cockpit, too, their physical differences, John being so tall and Stanley just ordinary in height, were not to be compared, and that helped to hide their identities.

[123]“I’d give a good shirt to know what part the Sea Hawk is playing in Nevens’ life,” said Stan. “She’s a beauty, though, and reputed extremely fast.”

“Maybe Nevens has nothing to do with her, you know,” John said. “She may belong to a friend of his!”

“What’s she doing in Zenith, I wonder?”

“Murmuring fish-hooks—your guess is as good as mine!”

The yacht rounded to off the pier, let go an anchor, and appeared to be set for the night. The sun was setting now, and the boys sought out their own anchorage and lowered the new sails, keeping watchful eyes on the big yacht. At supper, Stan peered through the portholes from time to time, but nothing of particular interest was to be seen about the Sea Hawk. Her riding lights were being set, and, as darkness came on, bright lights gleamed through her rows of ports. Music from a radio drifted across the water, and sailors walked about her decks at work. Once a tender put-putted away to the wharf with two men in it. They were apparently seamen and returned a little later[124] in the dark with a load of food, Stan having watched them through the binoculars as they entered the grocery store near the wharf and came out with bags.

“Let’s swim over to-night and see if we can hear anything worth while, John,” Stan suggested as they sat in the cockpit, listening to the music and watching the big yacht.

John thought a second or two and then nodded his agreement.

They donned bathing togs and went over-side, swimming slowly towards their destination. By the end of a few minutes Stan drew near to John and said:

“John, you get off the bow and attract some attention while I slide to the stern and listen. There’s a cockpit aft and maybe some one there may have something to say of interest.”

The boys separated, and John did the crawl past the bow. A sailor peered over and hailed him.

“Hey, side-wheeler,” yelled the seaman, “what’re you doing—swimming the Channel?”

“Come on in, the water’s swell!” John shouted.

[125]“Don’t like the water,” laughed the man; “too wet! Ain’t that right, Slim?”

Another seaman, answering to the name of “Slim” solemnly informed John that the first speaker was used to “dry water.”

“Tell me another, Mister,” John yelled, striving to keep attention focused on himself.

For fifteen minutes the youth floated and swam about round the bows of the anchored yacht, resting at times by holding to the thick anchor chain.

Round by the stern Stan floated quietly, hidden by the curving contour of the yacht from view on deck. As he had guessed, some of the people on board were in the cockpit enjoying the first part of the evening.

“When’s the boss aimin’ to open up on Nevens?” asked a harsh voice.

“Next Thursday at midnight!” some one said.

There was a mingling of voices for a minute or two while the G-man’s son chuckled with delight at his good fortune and the luck which had brought the Sea Hawk into Zenith Harbor. Then some one asked:

“Have a seat over here, Mr. Hegarty?”

[126]“Surely, surely. Splendid here, isn’t it, boys!” a cultured voice answered. “Delightful coast, this.”

“We got work ahead of us next week, I hear, Boss.”

“Yes. Cowboy Nevada wants thirty per cent or nothing doing. Robbery, I call it. Guess we can take care of things without Cowboy. You boys better oil up your guns. And keep sober. I don’t want any drunken babbling.”

“Yes, sir! You bet!”

“We’re with you, Hegarty!”

There was more to it, and Stan gathered that something of prime importance was to take place Thursday at midnight, evidently a raid being planned on Porpoise Island and the entrenched Mr. Nevens!

“Cowboy’s got a new gunman,” said Hegarty’s voice. “The name is Gallagher. Take particular pains to remove Mr. Gallagher, won’t you?”

“Gallagher!” thought Stan. Was it possible that his father had already worked into that gang as a gunman, just as he had done once before with another gang during the Hogan case? He[127] was not sure, but he had a hunch that that was right, and if so he must warn Mr. Sandborn at once!

Cold from his enforced loafing in the water, Stan swam softly away now from the brightly lighted Sea Hawk and, by a roundabout way, swam back to the Staghound. He knew that John was still off the bows of the big yacht, and he had to let his chum know that it was time to return. He lit the cabin lights and left the porthole curtains drawn back. Then he got into warm, dry clothes, slipped a sweater on, and went on deck. In a short time he saw the dark blob of John’s head and the glint of broken water as the rangy lad came back to the Staghound.

“Schools of flying porpoises, and pods of gooseberries!” cried John, shivering like a shaken tube of jelly. “Why didn’t you go to bed and forget me?”

“Don’t tell me it was cold out there, John, old bean!”

“Cold?” breathed John, hurrying below. “It was worse than that. I had to battle sharks to keep warm.”

[128]“There’s a fellow named ‘Gallagher’ now with Nevens’ gang, John,” said Stan, “and I bet that’s my Dad. Seems to me he mentioned that name once the other night, and it would be just like him to go to work for Mr. Nevens.”

Then he told John about Hegarty’s plan to raid Nevens on Thursday at midnight with special attention to the new gunman!

“That means we have to get all the evidence we can before that, John,” Stan said, eagerly. “Fingerprints, photos, and all, because after Thursday it will be too late. The F. B. I. will have to be sure of its ground and in action in time! You and I had better get this cabin fixed up to-morrow and get over to the Island pronto!”

They worked hard all the next morning hammering, sawing, refitting moulding, putting in the secret cupboard under a bunk, changing the galley, and then repainting the whole thing with quick-drying enamel. The painting was not done till after dinner and they had to wait for it to dry. The Sea Hawk was still in the harbor, and Stan had an idea. It was daring and it might bring big results. It was worth a try!

[129]“The tender went ashore a few minutes ago, John,” observed Stan. “What say if we hurry over to the wharf, tie up there, and then follow Hegarty and his men and try to get fingerprints!”

It was no trouble to hoist the sails and close in with the pier, where they tied up and lowered sail. Then they tucked fingerprint powders in small envelopes into their pockets and took along a magnifying glass each. They were afraid to take along the new G-man camera which Mr. Sandborn had given them to replace the broken one, for fear Hegarty might recognize it as such.

They soon located the Sea Hawk’s head man in a lunch room, and both boys sauntered in and took a table near by. The conversation of Hegarty and the two men with him was just about casual things; and they drank beer and did not pay any attention to the two boys.

After a few minutes Hegarty and his men arose, paid the bill, and left, heading for the post office. Stan and John got up too, paid their own bill for a bottle of soda apiece and some doughnuts, and then stepped over to the table just vacated by the others. There was one beer bottle[130] which had passed from hand to hand and this Stanley longed to possess.

“Say,” said he to the owner of the restaurant and beer parlor, “I’ll give you ten cents for that bottle.”

Puzzled at such a proposition, for ten cents was quite a price for an almost worthless bottle, the man frowned. Before he could say anything, however, John had tucked the bottle lightly under one arm and Stan had laid ten cents upon the table.

“Thanks!” said Stan.

“Sure, O.k.,” said the man, scratching his head and wondering.

Outside, the boys ducked into an alley, where powders were brought into play under expert, youthful fingers. Then magnifying glasses were brought to bear upon certain tell-tale smudges upon the dark brown bottle.

“Beauties, John, honeys!” cried Stan with delight.

They had fingerprints of every man of the three, including Hegarty!


The G-Man Grocer Meets the Boys

THE Staghound sailed away from the wharf at Zenith Village a very few minutes after the boy detectives had secured the fingerprints and the beer bottle, wrapped lightly in cloth, had been stored away in the secret compartment of the sloop. They headed for the Lighthouse at once while Stan looked up, on the chart, the compass course for Porpoise Island.

Off the Lighthouse, as they trimmed the new sails and bowled merrily along, they talked of many things, chiefly of what lay ahead.

“I’m satisfied that Hegarty and his men did not recognize us, Stan,” John said. “They could only have had a look at us through binoculars in the cove and hardly a good look at that! And they paid no attention to us in the restaurant.”

“I think you’re right, John. At any rate we’re[132] on our way for Porpoise Island again and here’s hoping we can get plenty of dope to salt away for the F. B. I. The more I think about it the more I am sure that ‘Gallagher’ is Dad and, if he is, we ought to be able to help him some.”

“Perhaps he’ll give us clues to carry back to Main Haven to that fellow ‘John’ that he spoke of. Sweeping fields of delicious corn—I hope luck is with us!”

Down along the southwestern horizon fog was looming, distant but distinct, and the wind was strong, raising good-sized rollers up the stretch of the bay. The Staghound dipped her lee rail in white water as she eased along with queenly grace, and the boys were jubilant. Disguised in far different clothes from their customary apparel, and aboard a boat so disguised that it appeared like an entirely new craft, they felt certain they could get into the cove on the southwest part of the island without trouble and do some scouting ashore.

“Let’s hit for Main Haven first, Stan,” John suggested, “and look up John. After all, we ought to know him at least by sight.”

[133]“That’s all right with me, John, but I think we ought to sail along the sea side of the island as we go and perhaps we’ll pick up a clue or two while passing.”

“O.k., Skipper!”

At the wheel John held the sloop closer to the wind, laying a course to take them off the western end of the island and round into the ocean side. It was nearing dinner time and John was hollow inside.

He was glad when Stan’s trick at the wheel came round. Grinning, John went below to stir up a meal. Shortly, the smell of hot coffee came up from the cabin and snatches of song, mingled with suspicious munching sounds. Stan chuckled. John would have eaten in any kind of weather, at sea or ashore, and alive or dying. Outside of sleuthing the lanky one enjoyed eating best!

He brought coffee up to his friend and big club-sandwiches, for Stan did not like to leave the wheel with the new sail as yet not fully tested and especially in the rather heavy waves making up the bay.

They were thus engaged in sailing and eating[134] when the Sea Hawk hove into view astern, overhauling them rapidly. John was sitting, facing aft, and saw her first.

“Great heaps of dangle-berries!” said he. “The Sea Hawk is after us! Let’s run off before the wind!”

“Where you going to run to, John, under sail, and against the power of that yacht?” queried Stan, quietly. “And have you forgotten that we are just a couple of boys out for pleasure?”

“You’re right! If we turn tail and run the Sea Hawk would suppose us suspicious characters providing anybody aboard suspected our identities.”

The white and fast yacht overtook the sloop rapidly and both boys had sinking feelings in their stomachs. John insisted on going below and digging out their bows and arrows from a narrow slit under the bunks and bringing them into the cockpit. If the men on the Sea Hawk closed in it would be a warm reception at any rate!

Closer and closer came the big craft but, as she neared the sloop the Sea Hawk veered away a little and then held her course again taking her[135] across the bows of the sailing boat a hundred yards distant. Hegarty, easily distinguished by his height and build was standing on the bridge.

Stan took one hand from the wheel and waved a greeting. Hegarty and another man nearby returned the wave and shouted something which could not be made out because of the distance.

“And that’s that, John!” grunted Stan, breathing freely as the yacht drew off round the island.

It was Stan, facing forward, who first saw the gray motorboat which came humming round the island and began circling the Sea Hawk. The binoculars showed a fat and dumpy fellow standing in the rear cockpit of the speedboat.

Dago appeared to be shouting back and forth at Hegarty and the Sea Hawk was moving slower now while the gray boat circled about her. The speedboat was making heavy weather of it, splashing about in white water among the waves and Dago appeared very angry. As the Staghound began to overtake the white yacht, the gray boat drew off and started down toward the sloop.

“Now,” said Stan, “will Dago know us in our disguise?”

[136]It seemed more than likely that the strapping henchman of Nevens would know them as the two boys who had wounded him a few nights before and whom he had encountered on the island and they were not sure whether or not to let fly with the arrows again before he could do anything, or chance an interview. They had not long to decide for the speedboat hummed and splashed down towards them at a fast clip, and it was clear that Dago was looking the sloop over with a jaundiced eye.

Stan’s cap covered his yellow hair very well and he had on a dark sweater and John was likewise attired. Would Dago penetrate that mask? He drove down towards them, looking hard at them and they remained low in the cockpit, apparently at ease—two boys having the time of their lives sailing in the bay!

“Nice-a day, boys,” yelled Dago showing his teeth.

“Yeh, swell, mister!” John rejoined, half covering his face with a sandwich as he spoke. John winked at Stan.

Stan, his mouth full of food which served to[137] make his cheeks rounder than they really were, waved to Dago. And the gray boat swept past, ran once round the sloop, and went zipping back to Porpoise Island around whose western end the Sea Hawk had now disappeared. The fog was closing up some, and the wind was rising.

They had gone through several tests successfully and they were elated. The Staghound curved round the end of the island, and the sheets were eased for the run to Main Haven. Late in the afternoon the white sloop rippled into the quieter waters of Main Haven harbor and up to the town pier where it tied up to the wharf.

“Now, Mate,” said Stan, “we’ve got to find your ‘namesake’!”

“I guess they picked a swell name for a G-man when they chose mine,” said John, grinning.

They located the grocery store without undue trouble and strolled in as casually as possible. As they actually needed a few staples such as sugar, butter, and bread, their manner was convincing. A few customers were there but were shortly waited on by the good-looking youngish man who[138] seemed to run the place and the boys were alone with him.

He came towards them and offered to wait on them.

Stan was thrilled. This was almost like some of the detective stories he had read! And this was real! Here was an actual Federal special agent of the F. B. I. posing as a grocery man!

“Any idea who I am?” queried Stan, quietly.

The grocer began looking over his lettuce as if picking one out for them.

“Who are you, then?” he asked.

“The name’s ‘Sandborn’ and my friend is ‘Tallman.’”

The grocer handed Stan a lettuce head.

Outside, anyone would have supposed the conversation to have been about that lettuce head.

“Any news, Sandborn?” asked John, softly.

“Nothing yet, John,” Stan said. “But we’re going to the island to-night and hope to get something in the way of clues. I suppose you’d call fingerprints of Hegarty news, though——?”

“You’ve got Hegarty’s fingerprints, Sandborn?” asked John, eagerly.

[139]“On a beer bottle. Shall I bring them in to you?”

“You bet. Bring it back in one of these bags as if it was some vegetables being returned. I’ll see that it’s well taken care of.”

“Oh, and Hegarty is planning a raid on Porpoise Island for Thursday at midnight, I believe.”

“And you said there was no news!” groaned John. “Come on, now, before some one comes in, let me have the whole story.”

They told the G-man everything they had learned in the last twenty-four hours or so and he seemed pleased.

“Now go back and keep up the good work and we’ll have something to show for our round-up of these criminals, boys,” said the man. “You’re doing fine!”

They went back to the yacht and brought the beer bottle, in a bag, to the store. Customers were there as they entered.

“Say,” said Stan, abruptly, “that bunch of carrots you just sold me wasn’t so hot, Mister.”

He handed John the bag. The G-man smiled.

[140]“All right. I’ll take it back gladly. Anything you want in its place?”

Back again at the yacht, the boys hugged each other with delight. Then they hauled up the sails and started for Porpoise Island. They had to tack back and forth a mile or so at a stretch to reach the cove, and the last part of the way fog threatened to close in any moment. Both boys were glad when the anchor was dropped in South Cove, on the western tip of the island. There had been no sign of life on the island as they beat down its shores and the fog was now rolling in heavily.

They had supper, listening to the lonely drone of fog signals from steamers out on the nearby sea and the faint, faint echo of Zenith signal.

“A fine night for murder!” John commented, glad of the lighted lamp and the table of good things to eat. “If it weren’t necessary, I’d say don’t go out—lie in our bunks and read! Pass the cake, old boy, I’ve a little more room left yet!”

The dishes washed and put away, they got out the bows and arrows which had been returned to[141] the hiding place, adjusted flashlights, and dark clothes, and made ready to go ashore.

“At a time like this, I wish we had a rowboat to take us back and forth,” sighed John. “How’re we going to get ashore in these togs without getting soaked?”

It was Stan who had insisted on regular clothing and now he explained that there was a natural landing rock on the inner curve of the cove where the Staghound could be moored. Stumpy cedar trees would serve as mooring bitts and the boys could step ashore dryly and quickly.

In the fog they had some difficulty finding the spot, but they did in spite of fog and night and moored the sloop securely. Then they stepped ashore by way of the rocks and searched for the end of the path which would lead inland to the lair of the super-criminal, Nevens.

After overrunning the spot twice they found the narrow cleft through thick bushes and were soon padding softly uphill and along the ridge towards their destination. They had to move slowly, feeling their way along, for they dared not use the lights without dire need.

[142]An hour must have passed before Stan, in the lead, pressed back a warning hand.

“Listen!” he cautioned.

Sounds of men’s voices drifted through the black fog.

“The boss must be nuts, stringing us out on a night like this, Butch!” said one voice. “Whose gonna raid us in this kind of weather?”

“Ain’t nobody going to raid us, says I. Cowboy’s scared Hegarty so much I guess we ain’t likely to have no trouble.”

“And with Gallagher along, I guess we can hold our own!” the first speaker said. “That guy’s a honey with a tommy-gun!”

“His fists ain’t too bad, either, Butch,” some third voice said.

“Say, Dago makes me laugh,” Butch commented. “He’s scared stiff of them kids! You know the ones I mean!”

“Sure the two what got their maps in the paper!”

The voices were drawing near now and both boys slipped back from the trail. Even as they did so the men almost stumbled upon them and[143] John lay prone at once, scared. Some one stepped on his right hand, his flashlight blinked as his squeezed fingers pressed the trigger and the light flared its betrayal.

His yell of pain and the bright light came at once!

“Run, John! Run!” yelled Stan and his feet could be heard scurrying away.

Obeying, instinctively, John rolled to his feet, thrashed off through the bushes and began to run. Behind him came thundering feet, and shouting voices. If the men had been surprised and startled by the flare of light and John’s yell they had soon gotten over that and had spread out to capture the boys. John stumbled through bushes, crashed headlong into a tree trunk, saw stars and zooming comets flare through his mind, and went sprawling backwards! Even as he fell and heard the overtaking pursuers, he had a feeling all was over!


Nevada’s Biggest Plot

THE fight between Dago and Gallagher was one of the shortest fights Cowboy Nevada had ever witnessed, for the G-man was strong, capable, possessed of dynamite in either fist, and showed a willingness to mix in. Neither the super-criminal himself nor the swarthy henchman knew, of course, that they had a man there trained for just such emergencies. Cowboy only knew that here was a man who could fight and was therefore something to be desired as a personal bodyguard. And Dago knew very little until he was brought to by a pan of water expertly thrown upon him by bland Wan Ho Din.

From the moment Cowboy had given the order to “Get going!” Mr. Sandborn had waded in, fencing through flailing arms as Dago strove to knock him out, then, with the first hint of a good opening, letting the surprised opponent have a[145] sound crack on the jaw which took lots of fight out of him. Staggered, Dago blundered by trying a hay-maker, and Gallagher let him have another full on the jaw. Two of those punches were quite enough and Dago collapsed.

“That was well done, Gallagher,” said Cowboy. “A very neat job. Guess you better take Dago’s place from now on. Unless—you ain’t interested!”

“Take Dago’s place? Be the big shot next to you, Nevada? Lead me to it!” Gallagher cried. “Have you gotta comb? I mussed my hair. Don’t generally have so much trouble with these tough guys.”

Dago, silent and glaring, shook the water from his head as a trace of a smile came over Wan Ho Din’s face, and went off. That he would spare no chance to even the score with Gallagher, none there doubted.

Dinner was shortly to be served and, in the dining room of the cabin, Gallagher was formally introduced to some dozen men, mostly young men hard of face and steely eyed and all inclined to excessive cigarette smoking as if their nerves[146] were constantly on edge. There were chairs set for a dozen more at the long table though food was not placed there.

“Some of the boys is away on business, Gallagher,” explained Cowboy, indicating the empty seats. “And some ain’t never going to be here anymore. Them’s the ones that’s had—accidents——”

A particularly young man near the end of the table rose to his feet with a grating laugh which rose in crescendo and pitch as he stood now trembling and white.

“Sit down!” said Cowboy; “you got nothing to worry about, Gagnon.”

Gagnon turned staring eyes towards Cowboy.

“Nothing to worry about?” demanded Gagnon. “With the Feds on our trails and the heat ready to turn on? What about Hegarty? You——”

“Steady, Gagnon,” whispered the man next to him.

“Steady? What for? I’m liable to get plugged to-night for all I know. I’m——”

Then, something in Cowboy’s eyes conveying a terrible warning, Gagnon seated himself, his[147] cigarette dropping from his fingers while he buried his face in his hands. Mr. Sandborn had a pretty good idea what the trouble was, in fact, he was certain that he could piece together the story back of Gagnon.

Gagnon was probably like thousands of others buried in crime. Lured in his recent youth by rich rewards that crime could offer, easy money, and good times, he had first stolen odds and ends to sell to some “fence” of the underworld, gone on from that to spare-hand with a petty gang in an easy robbery or two, proved himself nervy and willing and been put “on the payroll” of the vast syndicate headed by Cowboy. Being bright, good-looking, and skillful with a gun, Gagnon had undoubtedly worked his way from the bottom of the syndicate ladder to his present spot at the long table of a cabin on Porpoise Island.

He’d enjoyed good food, merry company, and a carefree existence between the days of “work” for this syndicate but he had not been happy. Always he had to be battling the law and even when the law had been tied by Cowboy’s money and influence, there was always the chance of[148] G-man “heat.” He could not go out on a street in any town or city without the chance of being mowed down by rival gang-fire or being picked up by some unbribed law agency. Not all the easy money he had earned could give him peace of mind, for his conscience troubled him, and a thousand forms of death awaited their chance to strike. Cowboy had lived to mature age, in spite of a life of crime, but Cowboy had been extremely lucky. Gagnon knew that nine out of ten of the Gagnons in the crime world would be laid out on cold marble slabs in morgues before they had reached twenty-four! Gagnon was nearing that age now though his years of crime had robbed his eyes of their youth and left care and worry imprinted there.

Now his nerve was snapping. He knew if it gave way too much Cowboy would have him taken for a little ride because the unfortunate Gagnons of this world always “know too much!” And now his nerve had snapped!—far enough to leave him shaken to the core, nauseated——

Mr. Sandborn was thinking fast, preparing for a certain eventuality. Once before he had taken[149] care of a gunman named Racira in a similar case——

The talk at the table now began, a good deal of serious discussion of ways and means to enlarge the syndicate, and some nervous jokes. On the whole these young men were far from carefree. They lived, breathed and ate crime as it were, and nothing is so luscious to look upon and so indigestible as crime! If, like Gagnon, these others realized how close their end was, they hid it well from themselves and, especially, from Cowboy.

Mr. Sandborn learned a great deal of very great value at that meal, things which would spell the doom of the thing as soon as the G-man could get his information out to the waiting Chief. The little tricks, the petty schemes, and the underlying rot of the system which Cowboy controlled showed clearer and clearer. Here was a system so thorough and so remorseless in its revenge upon squealers that hardly a store or place of business in the entire country was without a gambling device (just within the law, yet drawing money from fools who played the games), inferior manufactured products selling under well-known[150] names, lotteries, “number games” and grosser things. Then there was bank robbery to be run, investment stunts, fake gold mines and other mines—so many forms of illegal gathering of money that the hardened G-man, veteran of war against crime for many years, was appalled at the power and ability of Cowboy Nevada. And what stunned him most was the realization that the man had his competitors, except for a few like Hegarty, helpless or dead, and his ambition was now driving him towards an inevitable goal, a goal so immense that law and order hardly gave such a scheme credence—a plan to overthrow the government of these United States and place Cowboy Nevada, ex-cowpuncher and bad-man, as dictator of the lives and property of the people!

After the meal Cowboy took his new right-hand man all about the place, disclosing the fact that the cove was surrounded by cleverly hidden machine gun emplacements and the cabin was a veritable arsenal and fort with metal-lined walls and secret sally ports.

“About those kids you spoke of, Cowboy,”[151] Gallagher said, “you ain’t really bothered about them, are you? From what I hear that Hogan case was a fluke. The kids happened to stumble into it and the newspapers made more of it than really was there. The Feds got the mobs, and the boys was underfoot most of the time!”

Cowboy regarded Gallagher with a cold eye, slyly.

“Kids can get underfoot till you break your neck, Gallagher! They know too much already! I’ve got men watching the houses now where they live and every harbor for their boat. We’ll have ’em shortly and I aims fer you to take care of them!”

“What you want done?”

“Wait till we get ’em and I’ll tell you!”

So things went till evening, Mr. Sandborn learning all the ramifications of the stupendous system by which Cowboy Nevada was taking toll from the work of honest millions of people in the country and yet, till darkness that day, the man named “Gallagher” did not learn a word from Cowboy about the real source of the vast hoard of money by which the ex-western bad-man had got[152] his start in the big-time rackets. It had taken a big sum to go so fast through the underworld, resources to be spent lavishly.

After supper that night Mr. Nevens took his new man on a strange boat ride, from the boat-house into the middle of Black Cove. A flat-bottomed scow, which had lain inshore, half-hidden by trees, now proved its usefulness. Anchored at the cove’s center this scow served as the landing platform from which interesting things took place, as Stan and John had seen it used at night. Mr. Sandborn acted very much surprised, however, at what took place. A diver was soon outfitted and sent down into the water, taking with him an enormous and powerful underwater light, special invention of the ingenious Mr. Nevens. While he was down, for a period of a half hour, the crime head told his story, a story almost incredible.

And at the end of a half hour during which the air pump had wheezed and men worked about the decks, keeping all lines open and free, the diver began his ascent. A little later, by the glare of a light, Mr. Sandborn gazed down at the deck upon[153] a stout, heavy case. It bore, on the outside, the name of a famous brand of liquor!

Could it be that a boat-load of liquor had been the source of an income sufficient to set up Cowboy Nevada in racketeering? Mr. Sandborn looked at Nevada now and the glint in the man’s eyes was cold, calculating, triumphant.



WHEN John came to, he fully expected to find himself held prisoner by none other than Mr. Nevens himself. His surprise was the more intense, as he shook his aching head and sat up, to find that he was still in a fog; and it was not a mental one either. All about him was dark damp fog. He had escaped from their pursuers? Yes, for there were no sounds save the rustling of trees in the blackness. He started, all of a sudden, shocked by the discovery that he had lost his bow and quiver of arrows!

Knowing that they were his only weapon except his wits in the present dilemma, he tried hard to think of what had happened to them. He knew that he’d left the yacht with them, stepping ashore from the Staghound with them under one arm. He’d have to find them, and soon! Then he had a flash of remembrance that, as Stan shouted for[155] them to run, he’d felt his bow and arrows yanked from his grip as he dashed through the bushes. If some one of the pursuing men had grabbed them, that party might be waiting now for him to go back to search for them. He had to chance that likelihood.

So he went back as near as he could guess to the spot from which the chase had begun, wondering as he did so about a lot of things. Where was Stan? What was Mr. Sandborn doing? He had retraced his steps as best he could and was searching about among the bushes, as quietly as possible, when he ran into something which struck him in the chest! It felt like the end of a gun barrel, and John Tallman thought that the worst had happened!

But no challenge came with that touch, and gently he slid one hand to the object. A little cry of joy escaped his lips as he recognized his bow’s end! It was caught in a bush, and the catching of the string had simulated a yank at the time he’d run. He released it, and found on the ground the quiver with the arrows. Grateful for his good luck, he listened, hearing footsteps approaching.

[156]Then came voices, men’s voices.

“Where do you s’pose that other kid got to, Dago?” some one was asking.

Dago’s reply was mingled with profanity as the men came down a path and passed by the spot where John was crouching, ears straining for every word. As the men went on, the lad arose and followed them, stepping softly and listening to a great many interesting things.

“Well, we got the other kid, anyhow, Dago.”

“Yeh, and we’ll get-a the dark-haired one, too, before the night’s over. Nevada’s sure glad!”

“Gallagher didn’t seem so happy, somehow, Dago,” said a voice.

Dago swore.

“Gallagher ain’t——”

“Ain’t what, Dago?”

“Youse guys ull tell Nevada if I tells ya what I thinks, so I’m keeping mum.”

“Trouble with you, Dago, is, you ain’t a good loser!” chuckled the first man. “He licked you with the rods, licked you with his fists, and his brain’s just ’bout eight times your size brain, stupid!”

[157]“What’s the use of hanging round here all night, Dago,” some one else wanted to know. “We can’t see the other kid in the dark. We ain’t cats, ya know!”

“Well, if them kids is here, they got-a boat, ain’t they? And if they got-a boat, we’ll find it to-morrow, by thunder. I knows her when I sees her. Black she is, with one of them ‘gaff’ rigs.”

“I hear you left your gloves on her last time, Dago!” chaffed the first speaker.

“I hears you ain’t gonna be healthy long, if you keep-a yapping at me, Butch!” growled Dago.

John Tallman was so interested in what was being said that he came within an inch of colliding with the last man of the bunch as they slowed up and stopped. Some sixth sense warned him, and he stopped and listened. He heard bushes rustling, something metallic clanking softly, and then came a noise of men on wooden steps! In a moment the party had disappeared, leaving John Tallman, puzzled and annoyed, standing in the fog alone.

[158]His back running gooseflesh, he pressed slowly and carefully forward, and touched—a door! Investigation with careful finger tips proved it to be a small oblong door of metal without any handle or latch. That it went into an underground tunnel he knew, for the steps had sounded “down,” not up, and besides, as John guessed, the island was a maze of secret passages. How near to the cabin they were, in fact in which direction they had been moving, he had no idea. But he had to find out, because until something turned up, he’d have to follow every clue to find Stanley and try to rescue him.

What lay beyond that door? And how could he get it open? He had no answer to either question, but he had to find some way to get in and discover for himself the answer to the first. Again he ran his fingers over the door, particularly on the side away from the hinges; then he tried pressing in that area and was abruptly rewarded by feeling a tiny square of metal go in under his fingers, and at once the door swung inward!

Darkness as dark as the outside still was there before his eyes, and he stepped forward gingerly.[159] Down several wooden steps he felt his way, stumbled into the wall, and found that the passage now went sharply away to the right. He went along, guiding himself by one hand against a wall, feeling for each of the upright timbers supporting the walls and roof of the tunnel. The air was close and damp, and smelled strongly of sour earth.

How far he went in this manner he was not sure, possibly about one hundred yards without an apparent turn in the tunnel, and then it swung left sharply and went downhill to a slight rate of drop. Faint light showed far ahead, though the distance could not have been above fifty yards further, ending in another curve. There were side aisles now to be dimly seen due to the vague reflection of the lights, and this was extremely fortunate for John Tallman, for he heard footsteps and had barely time to retreat to a side aisle and set an arrow to the notch, when the men approached.

“The kid will be all right with Gagnon,” said Dago, passing down the main tunnel.

“Yeh, he’s that nervous he’d choke the kid if the guy lets a peep out of him!”

[160]“And ain’t that just about what Nevada wants?”

“Just about. Only he aims to have this Gallagher guy take care of the rub-out!”

“I still don’t-a like the looks of Gallagher,” Dago said. “Nevada’s a fool-a to be taken in by the guy. How do we know he ain’t a Fed in disguise?”

A burst of raucous laughter resounded down the tunnel at that, and Butch roared, “You been readin’ these G-man mags, Dago, old rat!”

“I been readin’ about-a that Hogan case, you mean. They say they was a G-man what was a spy fer one of the gangs!”

“Worked right in with them, Dago?”

“Right-hand man!”

There was silence as they hurried away; then some one grunted, “Something to think about, anyhow; eh?”

But John Tallman had heard enough to make his hopes rise as well as fall. He knew that Gallagher was probably Mr. Sandborn and that he was in grave danger because these men would stop at little to discover his real identity, and he[161] felt elated, because what had been said must mean that Stanley Sandborn was not far distant!

Excited, he shoved off towards the lights again, hurrying along now that he could see, ready to dart into a side aisle at the first need.

He rounded a bend in the tunnel faster than he planned and was through a door and into a small room before he realized what had happened! There he was and there was—Stanley, with a youngish mobster! Stan was tied with his hands behind him, and the gangster had a drawn automatic on a convenient table. The man, probably the Gagnon Dago had mentioned, went for the gun, but John had an arrow drawn back to the tip!

“Leave it alone!” ordered John, aiming for the man’s right arm.

But the hand was streaking for that gun and did not stop. His fingers closed over the weapon and he was drawing it back when the arrow twanged home! With a startled outcry of pain the man dropped the weapon, and grabbed for his arm with his left hand.

The arrow had punctured one of the muscles,[162] and John covered the man with another arrow as Gagnon pulled the first one free of the wound. Being a muscle wound and the arrow having missed any arteries or veins, it hardly bled any, but was painful. The man turned a white face, almost chalklike, towards the youth.

“Give me your knife, and fast!” ordered John.

The man reached awkwardly for his pocket and drew out a knife. He opened it on order, wincing from the pain of his wounded arm, and cut Stanley’s ropes.

Stan’s bows and arrows were standing in the corner of that room and the G-man’s son, rubbing his arms quickly to restore the circulation, was shortly standing with drawn bow beside John.

“Tie him up, John, while I cover his face with this hunting arrow!”

Now, like most other young men, especially of his type, Gagnon was particularly anxious to keep his good looks, and the sight of that steel point robbed him of any desire to resist the ropes with which John now tied his wrists. And Gagnon was thinking fast. He voiced his thought in a moment.

[163]“Listen, fellows,” said he, trembling, “I can’t let Dago and the others find me like this!”

“Why not?” asked John, scornfully.

The man shivered, and his face seemed even whiter.

“They would think I released you and then let you tie me because I wanted you to get away!”

“You’d be on a spot, then; eh, Mr.—Gagnon!”

“How’d you know my name?”

“Had an idea,” admitted John, withholding the source of that information.

“They’d kill me, boys!” cried the excited and scared gangster.

About that time Dago and his men had emerged from the tunnel and followed a path in the fog to the boat-shed. There they were received in the lighted interior by Nevada and Gallagher.

“We got the yellow-haired kid safely enough. We took him to the ‘waiting room’ and left him with Gagnon. And——”

“Is he there now?” demanded Nevada, sharply.

“Sure. We looked for the other kid and couldn’t find him, and then went back to see that Gagnon and the kid was o.k.”

[164]“Gallagher, I guess you can take over the job now. The other kid must be on the Island somewheres. They probably landed from that black sloop of theirs. We’ll have the Island circled from daybreak by our runabouts and nab that boat wherever it is. In the meantime we’ll get the dark-haired Tallman kid. You do what you think best with the Sandborn kid. You kin get rid of him now or——”

“I’ll rub ’em both out to onc’t, Cowboy!” said Gallagher, wiping his lips with his dry tongue. “It’s like drowning kittens, ya know. I’ll take ’em both to onc’t, like I said!”

“Get going, then.”

Sullenly Dago led the new trigger-man up the path to the tunnel entrance. Mr. Sandborn knew that this tunnel ended in the “waiting room,” where a party of heavily armed mobsters could wait in safety till such time as their presence was needed to counter attack any gang circling the main system of tunnels about the cabin. In time, Nevada planned to have tunnel connections from the cabin to the waiting room, but in the meantime it was isolated. The G-man was not unduly[165] nervous at what lay ahead, for he had no intention of course of letting harm come to either John or his own son, Stanley. He only hoped now that Stan would not give away the G-man’s identity by any unexpected outburst of emotion.

“The kid’s pretty scared, Gallagher,” Dago said. “I don’t-a envy you none!”

“Probably ain’t half as scared as you are of him, Dago!” chuckled Gallagher.

Butch roared at that.

“The kid’s o.k., Gallagher. It’s Dago what’s scared like a hen on a railway crossing! Arrows ain’t so hot, be they, Dago?”

“Here we are,” said Dago, displaying a flashlight now which illuminated the door while he opened it to the passage. They went down and along the way to the room. The lights at the other end glimmered round the corner. There was a rustle in a side aisle!

“What was that?” demanded Dago.

Butch roared again.

“Them kids with their little bows and arrows, probably!” cried Butch, hugging himself with amusement, “Run, Dago, run!”

[166]Beefy faced and purple with anger, Dago put back his weapon, and they went on to the room, rounding the corner and going through the door.

“Suffering tripe!” cried Dago.

“Wow!” bellowed Butch.

Mr. Sandborn smiled.

“Gone!” said he, quietly.

“Gone?” demanded Dago as if he doubted his own eyes. “Gone? How? Where? What about Gagnon?”


Delivering the Prisoner

IF EVER two boys undertook a desperate errand the sandy-haired G-man’s son and his pal had bitten off a big chunk to chew when Stan proposed that they take Gagnon to Main Haven and turn him over to John. What John might do, Stan did not know but he realized that G-men are extremely resourceful and he had no doubt that the grocer of Main Haven would find a way to take care of Gagnon till this case was over. The most important immediate act was to get Gagnon out of that little room, and to the sloop.

“You mean you’re going to turn me over to the feds?” demanded the mobster.

“Why not?”

“They’ll kill me!”

“Battling flea-hounds!” roared John, interrupting, “which do you want: to be murdered[168] by your dear old pals or to end up in a nice warm jail, alive and with something to eat for the next dozen years or more?”

The man swallowed hard.

“I’ll come with you, boys, only don’t point that arrow at my face all the time!” he said.

“You’ve got sense!” responded Stan, quietly. “Get a move on, and no funny business!”

And as the man started off up the corridor, his hands bound behind his back, he admitted that he had a flashlight in his pocket. John dug it out and they hurried for the entrance. But on the way they encountered the sounds of footsteps and the voices of intruders and they retired up a side aisle.

Dago’s exclamation of alarm was caused by Gagnon’s stumbling effort to move further from the main aisle as he recognized the swarthy fellow’s growling voice. Had Dago elected to investigate that noise he would have received an arrow for his pains—lucky Dago!

The party went on to the room and, the moment they had gone there, the boys rushed Gagnon for the entrance! It was now or never. The[169] outcry of voices in the room back there drowned out the hurrying footsteps of the lads and their prisoner. Gagnon was no trouble. He was as anxious to get away now as were the boys to have him and he voluntarily took them away from the entrance and on the trail towards the cove where the boat was moored as he had been told they would go over the hilltop trail to the western end of the island. They doused the flashlight, of course, and apprehensively followed the hurrying prisoner through the black fog. It was an eerie journey and towards the end Stan took the lead as he knew just where the boat was. The trail seemed somewhat unfamiliar as he neared the end but he laid that feeling to the darkness and hurried on.

They came out upon the beach and he went to the right, leading Gagnon by the arm so that he would not lose contact with him.

“Don’t worry, boy,” said Gagnon; “I ain’t gonna skip. I’d rather live in a fed jail than get burnt with slugs!”

An astonished outcry from Stan was the first warning that all was not well.

[170]“The sloop—gone!” cried Stan.

John groaned.

“By all the bluefish ankles in this—where?” John begged.

The sloop was gone and that was that!

They had to put the flashlight on and then Stan gave a hopeful exclamation.

“Say, this isn’t the rock where the Staghound was moored! Maybe——”

“Maybe this isn’t the right cove!” cried John.

Investigation by the light of the flashlight and lots of walking along the fog-bound shore gave forth the astonishing fact that it was not the cove where the sloop had lain!

“There were several coves around here, John,” admitted Stan, “but how we got off the main trail, I don’t know.”

“Sweet potatoes!” moaned John. “We get us a prisoner, and then lose our ship! A fine pair of dicks we are! Are we south or north of our cove?”

“North, no doubt. We’ll go along shore.”

“Hurry!” begged Gagnon.

John was heard to chuckle aloud.

Hurry!” he echoed. “Great spirits of bulrushes—how[171] you going to hurry through this fog?”

But they did hurry as best they could and after almost a half hour of scrambling along the beach half in the water and half out, daring not to use the light more than necessary, and falling over rocks, they all three fell sprawling over something taut! It was the spare line which Stan had rigged from the bitt of the sloop over the rock to another pointed boulder.

Gratefully, tingling with joy, the boys shoved Gagnon aboard and went below to light their lights. The cabin showed no signs of having been entered and they were glad of that. In the light of the cabin they made Gagnon lie on a bunk while they got their brains working.

“We’ve got to get out of this cove right off, John!” Stan explained. “No time to lose and—”

“—The tide, Stan!”

“The tide is o.k., dropping towards low, but still high enough to float us out into the cove where we can lower our centerboard! Main thing is—where’s the cove entrance?”

“Here’s your chart!” said John, putting it on[172] the table and handing the skipper a pencil. “I’ll get the sails up and ready and the lines aboard.”

“O.k.,” said Stan, even as he started studying the chart and laying a compass course that would clear the rocks at the cove’s entrance. “Let her drift away from the rock so we can get the centerboard down to stop sideways.”

The tall youth was on deck by now and raising the sails. He was grateful for the Marconi rig now, for the mainsail was up by pulling one line instead of the two required for the old rig. There was one jib to raise instead of two. The sails were up in a minute or two and he was ashore releasing the lines holding her to the big rock. Luckily the cove had been very quiet and the single old tire used as a buffer between the Staghound and the rock had kept the sloop from damage by chafing.

The boat drifted away from the rock with the tide and a vagrant puff or two of wind, while John slacked the sheets so that the sails were not curved yet to the breeze. He lit the little electric light in the binnacle and studied the compass as it swung slowly while the boat drifted.

[173]“Steer W.S.W. a bit to the south, John,” came Stan’s voice.

“Hey, you kids!” came a raucous and cursing voice out of the dark. “Stop, do you hear, or we’ll slug you plenty!”

In the cabin of the Staghound a trembling gangster opened his mouth in terror. Stan knew that Gagnon was about to scream for help on the theory that, when captured, his friends would think he’d been carried away forcibly! But the skipper of the Staghound gagged the prisoner instantly with a length of towel!

“Can’t hear you!” yelled John, and he trimmed the sheets of the sloop!

Then a voice which was none other than Mr. Sandborn’s bellowed, “You kids better come back here. You’ll get slugged if you don’t! We ain’t fooling!”

Did Mr. Sandborn mean for them to really surrender? Or was he bluffing to convince the other men. John knew no answer, and Stan, who came on deck just then, was hesitant.

A blast of tommy-gun fire, familiar thunder to the boys who had heard those guns used at Cedar[174] Island in the Hogan case, reverberated among the hills! Water spattered about the sloop and slugs sang whining into the wake! Then the blast moved away to the left! It have been lucky shooting for the men could not have seen the sloop in the fog!

That decided the boys and with all sail crowded on, praying that the compass course was right, they headed on a course W.S.W. a little south! The wind had shifted to the east during the night and was almost dead aft, flowing over the hills of Porpoise Island, as they coursed with wings spread for the open sea!

“I told-a you they was-a at one of these coves!” yelled Dago back on the beach. “Gallagher, you gotta get those kids or we’ll all be in trouble!”

“Let’s get back and use the speedboats, men!” ordered Gallagher, rejoicing inwardly that his boy and the brave Tallman lad had escaped this present danger and taken Gagnon with them! He suspected they would head for Main Haven and he was proud of them for their grit and brains. Such conduct was worthy of G-men themselves!

The gangsters raced overland to the cabin and[175] the boat-shed where, roundly cursed by a wild and purplish Nevada, the men put off in two gray speedboats on a weird chase! Mr. Sandborn longed for a chance to get at the wiring on those two boats and so stop the chase but realized it might look suspicious and end his activities. So he calmly took his seat with Butch and Dago in a boat and they hummed with bright lights for the entrance to Black Cove. They came out of that in the wet fog at forty miles an hour, thankful for sound knowledge of the lay-out of rocks and headlands.

One boat turned east, round the snout of Porpoise Island and down the north coast. The other flung itself into the rollers of the sea down the southern side. Both boats traveled at top speed but the fog ruined any chance of overtaking the fleet sloop which was somewhere out there, silently winging its way with a mobster prisoner! Naturally the boys were not showing any side-lights and thus, even without the fog, as Dago well knew from past experience, it would have been hard to locate and get them. Then, too, as Dago admitted privately to himself—the boys[176] were pretty nifty with them arrow things!

They did have a chance, just one slim possibility of finding that sloop, but only the G-man saw it and he said nothing. For one instant, they were running by the close stern of a white sloop, for he saw both a faint shape of the sloop and the glitter of white water from her wake as she capped a big roller, but the light from the searchlight was being flung straight ahead and no one else knew that two boys had definitely escaped their pursuers!

About ten minutes later the light glittered softly through the fog upon a sail and, with a coarse exclamation of delight, Dago had Butch swing to the boat. The cursing, shouting speedboat’s crew slid alongside, and aboard, guns out and hands ready!

“What is this?” demanded a big sailor in blue at the wheel of the great forty-meter yacht. “What do you want?”

One look was sufficient to establish the fact that a mistake had been made! Mr. Sandborn wanted to laugh out loud, but couldn’t. He kept a firm mouth while a flustered Dago did some quick explaining to the bulging sailor at the wheel. From[177] below came a stern-faced man in a robe. He had a shiny object in his right hand.

“What’s up?” demanded he, sharply.

“Looks like pirates, sir!” shot back the helmsman who had not been fooled by Dago’s stuttered apologies.

“Pirates?” demanded the owner. “Let me at them!”

At that moment, not a mile away in the wind-blown waters of the ocean, a Marconi-rigged sloop was racing through the fog on a compass course of S.E. at her best gait, taking the rollers in her stride, while her mast strained and her rigging hummed! The fog seemed clear as they neared Main Haven and soon they could make out the cottages along the shore, and then the town itself. It was starlit in that harbor as they drove in, lighting side-lights as they came.

“There’s an abandoned wharf on the shore over there,” Stan said, pointing to one side of the entrance. “We’ll tie up there and walk Gagnon round to the town. That way, we may keep our identity hid, John!”

[178]“You’re right! Somebody’ll have to buy me more arrows when this case is over—if Gagnon tries any stunts!”

But Gagnon, who had heard that remark, did not mean to try any stunts now that his deliverance was near, and he meekly climbed ashore from the wharf and marched ahead of the boys towards town. They both had their bows along but, to a casual observer, they having untied his hands, Mr. Gagnon appeared like an older brother, hiking into town with his two kid-brothers after a bow-and-arrow hike.

Gagnon was as good as his word and they made town in good shape and walked right into John’s store! The grocer was just going to close up, for it was very late.

“Sorry, boys, too late for groceries,” grinned John.

“Too late for a prisoner, too?” demanded John Tallman.

Now the Federal agent, John, had never realized how really effective these two boys were before. He’d laid their supposed prowess to newspaper accounts and Mr. Sandborn’s praise to[179] fatherly affection for Stan and friendly regard for the Tallman boy. But he had to think fast in the next ten minutes or the whole town would know something was wrong down at the grocery store!

He whisked Gagnon into the cellar, bound and gagged him and then went to the phone. He called a number and said, “Hello, Jim, old boy?”

“Why, hello, John!” came the rejoinder. “How’s the grocery business?”

“Pretty swell. How about coming down—over the week-end with your bags?”

A whistle of surprise came over the wire.

“Like that, eh? I’ll drop in, old boy!”

And that meant that Mr. Gagnon would shortly be in the hands of a squad of G-men and that that same squad would make a net about Porpoise Island, by land and sea, ready for the big showdown on Thursday next!

“I’m hungry, Stan,” confessed John, as they started back for the yacht. “What I mean is—I’m actually HUNGRY!”

Stan didn’t seem surprised.


Hegarty Plans a Surprise

IT WAS a tired and hungry duet of detectives who walked down the rickety old wharf about midnight and climbed aboard the good sloop Water Witch now masquerading as a Marconi sloop called Staghound! Not too tired, however, for John to go right to the stove and light the burners. He had hot coffee ready while he discussed the evening’s events with Stan.

“Stuffed alligator skins,” said John. “Gagnon was one scared man.”

“Tried to yell for help when Dago and Dad came down to the cove, though,” said Stan. “Figured he might be better off with his old pals!”

“Where will they take him now, Stan, I wonder?”

“For one thing, the newspapers won’t hear about the capture of Gagnon, I bet. Dad and the F. B. I. had a tough time keeping it secret that[181] my father was a G-man in the Hogan case. If they hadn’t succeeded, everyone would know that Dad was a Special Agent and it would have spoiled his future work. The day gangland gets his photo to compare with the G-man who broke the Hogan case they’ll get Dad on a spot, I’m afraid.”

“Guess you’re right. I remember, speaking of Gagnon again, that they spirited Racira away in the Hogan affair, and I guess the mobsters will be astonished when he appears in court as a witness against them!”

“No more surprised than Nevada will be when the F. B. I. gets Gagnon into the courtroom. While Nevada will have an idea Gagnon is definitely in Federal hands, he won’t expect his former friend to testify against him.”

“What makes you think Gagnon will?”

“Simple. Gagnon’s lost his nerve. Gone yellow. And there isn’t anything easier to get information from than a gangster who turns yellow. Dad says the mobsters have a saying that ‘A canary sure can sing!’ That simply means a scared prisoner will tell all if he once gets started.”

[182]“About our plans, Stan, what’ll we do now?”

“Guess we’ll follow John’s advice, and stay away from Porpoise Island till Monday. The big blow-off is to be Thursday at midnight. That would give us from Monday till Thursday to complete our work.”

John Tallman bit into a big slice of bread and poured the coffee.

“Think Zenith Point Village would be safe for us? I guess our disguise of the boat is all right, don’t you think?”

“Sure and besides, I figure, we ought to buy a very small rowboat, round-bottomed, to carry on the Staghound—I’m tired of mooring to piers and rocks!”

“Swell. Oh, a home on the ocean blue—say, bread tastes good, doesn’t it, when you’re hungry?”

“It sure does!” admitted Stan, helping himself to another piece. “Now, after we’ve been at Zenith, a day or so taking us to Monday, we’ll get back to Porpoise under cover of darkness and hide ashore till daybreak. Then we’ll go after the fingerprints and photos Dad suggested we[183] get! Maybe we can get a chance to talk to him, too!”

They were glad enough to get to sleep till early morning. Before daybreak, however, they were up and under way for Zenith Village. They kept rather clear of Porpoise Island en route, for the fog had lifted way past there and Zenith Light was visible down the coast. They did not want to run into any cruising gray speedboats just yet!

Daybreak had come and the sun was rising higher and warmer when they laid the final tack for Zenith Point Light. They rounded the light and went on to the Village pier at once.

At the village they located just the type of tender they desired in a local boat yard, bought it for a price, and towed her out to the anchorage. That morning, at their anchorage, they caught up on much needed sleep and were not up and about again till late afternoon.

There were several yachts in the harbor as usual but none that they recognized. It proved difficult to kill time during the next couple of days but they had to do so if they were to follow their plans. Between reading below decks or lolling[184] in the sunshine, well down in the cockpit, and burning the night oil over charts and plans, they managed to watch the hours pass by. Once or twice John hinted at fishing but they dared not risk it on the chance that one of Nevada’s boats might come up to inspect them. Ashore or in the sloop they could duck from sight in such an event, but the little rowboat would hardly serve as a hiding place!

Monday morning was to be the beginning of big things again and it started with a bang!

“Whoops!” cried John as he emerged from the cabin into a cool morning. “Look who’s here—our old playmate!”

The Sea Hawk had come in during the night and was anchored across the harbor. And Stan blinked his eyes—for the familiar outlines of the yacht enclosed a black hull this time!

“Somebody else playing at disguise, John!”

“Yeh, the copy-cats! As if you wouldn’t know that craft anywhere by the shape of her hull and upper structure!”

“But you can’t see black as far at night as you can white,” Stan pointed out.

[185]John gave an exclamation of surprise.

“That’s right—Thursday—at midnight!”

“You’d think, Stan, that if any law officer wanted to nip Hegarty, say on his yacht, it would be easy. All they’d have to do would be look up the registry of the boat and see for themselves the owner’s name!”

“Chances are ten to one, Hegarty’s name on the register is spelled quite different——”

“Ears of bantam corn—look!”

Another craft, newly painted in shiny black, had just rounded the point and was moving over towards the Sea Hawk! Low, fast-appearing, the strange yacht was of cabin type, like many other craft of her kind, but to the boys, her appearance at that spot and at that time, spelled more trouble! They could not be far wrong for, before she had come completely at rest with her anchor down, a boat was seen to row off from her to the bigger craft.

“Me for my binoculars!” cried Stan, and pounced below.

Afterwards, from low in the cockpit, he reported that he could see activity on the deck[186] of the Sea Hawk—men moving about and all seeming to talk with their hands! An argument seemed in progress but it apparently ended amicably, for everyone shook hands and the rowboat went back to the newer boat.

“What’s the name of that boat, Stan?” John asked.

The G-man’s son hesitated a moment then said, “Looks like—‘Malcon’ to me, John.”

They made notes of these things with the time and place, and Stan expressed a desire to get photos of both boats. They took along their camera, climbed into the tender and pushed off as if for a row about the harbor. They took several pictures of yachts as if on a picture-taking trip and then drew into position for photos of the Sea Hawk. Casually and without hurry, Stan stood up and took two excellent photos.

“Two shots left, John,” he said, jubilantly, “Now for the Malcon!”

Both boys were so eager to get the pictures that they did not observe the fact that a tender pushed off from the Sea Hawk and rowed over towards them. In fact, they were startled to look up and[187] see the boat so close. Two seamen were in it.

“Hello, boys,” said one, a stocky, yellow-haired fellow with a grinning ape face.


“Taking pictures, eh?”

“Sure, we want them for a collection of swell yachts in our albums,” Stan explained, and he contrived to maneuver the camera to the floor between his feet. He was bent over now.

“What kind of camera you got?” queried the sailor. “I’m sorta nuts on cameras.”

“He sure is,” agreed the second sailor, a thin, emaciated type. “Nuts is right.”

They both laughed as if at a secret joke then.

“Regular folding type,” Stan said. “Rectilinear lens, speeds up to one-hundredth of a second. Like to see it?”

That seemed to startle them and they nodded. Stan handed the big fellow the camera as the two boats closed together. As he did so the camera slipped from his hands and went overboard! Naturally Stan and the sailor reached for it too late.

“Too bad!” said the seaman.

[188]“Ya gotta get it, thick-head!” yelled the thin one.

“How kin I, I asks ya?” demanded the yellow-haired fellow, exasperated. “Be careful!”

John was, naturally, down in the mouth, and Stan appeared also to be downcast.

“Too bad, kid!” said the big chap, and the boat drew off for the Sea Hawk.

Stan and John began to row to their own craft as rapidly as possible without appearing in too great a hurry.

“Did you really drop it, Stan?” demanded John.

Stan grinned as if well pleased with himself.

“I’ll tell you later!”

“Once upon a time there was a very dumb, dumb boy,” began John, as they climbed aboard their boat and went to the cabin. “So dumb that cameras meant nothing in his young life! Phff—what was an expensive camera to him?”

“Listen and listen hard, John,” Stan said; “we’re playing a dangerous game for big stakes! A fifteen dollar camera is not to be considered as valuable compared to the films I have!”

[189]“Films? Why they went to the bottom of the deep blue sea——”

“Not a bit of it! Here is the film!”

He showed the roll to his wondering chum and explained that when the men rowed over he had an idea that Hegarty suspected him and John and had sent for the film. Probably the men had been instructed to get the film. By being willing to let them take the camera for inspection Stan had thrown off suspicion. He was able to remove the film before giving the camera to the sailor, and knew that the empty camera would be prima facie evidence of guilt, so made sure the instrument went overboard!

Back on the Sea Hawk the two seamen stood “on the carpet” in fact and in figure. Hegarty was in a nasty mood.

“You going to stand there and tell me that kid handed you the camera and you dropped it?”

“Well it was this way, Boss——”

Hegarty fixed them with a stare.

“The chances are that those kids are all right. Just the same, we’re playing for big stakes. Nevada’s got a fortune on that island and a racket[190] system that’s worth billions! We can’t take chances and we can’t afford to arouse suspicion. It’s a toss up whether them kids was——”

“You’re nervous, boss,” said the yellow-haired man eagerly. “Just jumpy. I wouldn’t worry about it, if I was you!”

“Oh, yeh? You’re right—you wouldn’t worry! That takes brains! Get out, both of you, scram!”

He reached for the drawer in his cabin desk and both men tried to get out the small door abreast. The result was ludicrous in the extreme and Hegarty relieved himself by a thoroughly good laugh!

Convinced because he had no real grounds for suspicion of the two boys in the trim white yacht, he forgot about the incident and did not refer to it again though he was to regret that result some time later!

“Is there any sight of the Canton yet?” he asked the man on lookout in the bridge enclosure of the big craft as he went out of his cabin and up the steps.

The man shook his head negatively.

“Well, keep your eyes peeled. He’s due any hour now.”

[191]“You bet. Say, we’ll have some navy here fer the big raid, won’t we?”

“We’ll need it! Nevada will be expecting us and we gotta be prepared!”

The boys kept down in the cabin the rest of the day until evening when still another yacht came in, this also painted the same shiny black. It anchored close to the first two, an extremely able-looking “commuter” type cabin cruiser bearing the name Canton on her name boards. The sun was setting by the time supper was over and the boys watched an outboard-motored tender going to the town dock, roaring along.

“Town is the place for us, to-night, John!” Stan said.

“You’re not going to Porpoise Island to-night?”

“No-sirree! Hegarty is likely going ashore with his lieutenants and we’ve got work to do. Get your portable fingerprint outfit and lens ready, and let’s go!”

“Bows and arrows, Skipper?”

“Not this time. We want to appear innocent and we don’t want bows between our legs if we[192] have to skip up an alley or two. How’s for some soda, John?”

John grinned knowingly and they were shortly headed for shore. Quietly, they pulled in, keeping in the darkness, away from the side of the wharf at which they could see the dim, shiny outlines of the tender from the Sea Hawk. They pulled the skiff ashore at the land end of the pier and strolled up to the dock.

A peek round the edge of the piling on the wharf on the other side showed a man sitting in the tender there, waiting.

“No chance to get aboard her yet, John,” Stan said, “so let’s head for the restaurant.”

They entered the restaurant by a side door, unobserved, and were able to slip into their seats quietly. Hegarty had his back to them and none of the men really were faced their way, so the boys hoped to escape suspicion. It was a ticklish moment! They ordered coffee and rolls with bacon, in spite of Stan’s reference to soda.

Hegarty and his men seemed nervous but carefree. They kept hard eyes on the door to the street but cracked jokes with apparent ease and[193] talked in low tones between times while they sipped beer.

“Oh, you’re the boys as bought the beer bottle, aren’t you?” queried the proprietor as he came with the order.

Gulping hard in spite of himself, Stan “shushed” him away as soon as possible. None of the men at the other table appeared to have heard the remark for they were all engrossed in examining a photograph which Hegarty was now passing around to the men.

“That the bird?” queried one.

“Yeh! Take a good look at him. I had plenty trouble digging that up. But I found a way!”

“So he’s a Fed, eh? Say, I always wanted to get a good look at one of those guys!”

“You’ll get a chance to make a sieve of him when we get to Porpoise Island, boys,” said Hegarty. “And I figures we’ll go over there Wednesday night ’stead of Thursday!”

“It’ll be a surprise, eh, Hegarty?”

“It’s gotta be or we’ll have the whole F. B. I. in on us!” said the head gangster, chuckling.

And Stanley Sandborn held his breath for he[194] had not only heard distinctly all that was said, so acute was his hearing made by the mention of “Feds,” but he had a good look at the photograph one of the men was handing back to Hegarty! It was a good clear photograph of Gallagher!


The G-Men Close In

STANLEY SANDBORN realized that there was little time to lose. Hegarty’s plans had been changed, and the identity of Mr. Sandborn was no longer a secret! Hegarty was evidently not intending to drop out of the picture with a G-man in it. He had too big stakes in the game, was gambling for too much power, to let even the fear of “Federal heat” deter him from his course. Without a doubt his chief aim was to capture the lavish stores of wealth he believed Nevada to possess. If things worked out right then, he would also have control of the syndicate which the ex-cowboy had built up. If a Fed was killed in the squabble it was just too bad for the Fed!

The sandy-haired youth arose, winked at John, paid their bill, and they left by the same side door through which they had entered.

[196]Out in the street, away from the restaurant he acted even more quickly, racing for the nearest store. It was a magazine and novelty place, and what he wanted was visible through the window—a phone booth! Into this he went as casually as possible while John made a purchase or two to keep the proprietor busy.

When Stan came out of that booth he was grinning a little. They went outside.

“O.k.?” queried John.

“I got Main Haven’s G-man on the phone and he’s letting the big Chief know. That’ll help keep Dad safer unless Nevada gets wise to his real identity! We’ve got less time and just as much work to do now. It’s Porpoise Island for us to-night, after all!”

“We’re as good as there!” John commented eagerly.

“But I’ve a chore to do first, John. Skip to our boat and wait for me!”

“Oars out?”

“You bet, I may come on a run!”

He was gone a few minutes after John got into their rowboat, and he did come back running.

[197]“I got it!” he cried triumphantly as he jumped in and helped shove off.

Mystified, John rowed away.

“Got what, Skipper? Not a hundred dollar bank note, I trust!”

“No, but something that will help stick those babies behind the bars when exhibited in court!” observed Stan gleefully.

He would say no more, and John rowed swiftly to the Staghound.

“Get the sails up, Mate,” ordered the G-man’s son as he hurried below. “We’ve got to get into motion!”

They were off Zenith Light and laying a compass course for Porpoise Island when Stan took the wheel and told John to go below, if he liked, and see what they had to add to their evidence. The lanky youth did so, and whistled. It was a rubber handle neatly removed by a jackknife, slit from the motor of the Sea Hawk’s tender, and on it silver powder had been scattered lightly by the joyful Stanley to bring out several very fine fingerprints.

“How many men left their prints, I wonder,[198] Stan?” asked John, returning to the cockpit and closing the cabin slide to hide the extra light.

Stan rejoined, “Looks like three to me. We’ll know who did it later when Dad gets a chance to have the F. B. I. look them up in the fingerprint files!”

Back at the boat wharf a group of men argued over the discovery that the handle to the tender’s motor was no longer rubber covered!

“Where were you while it happened?” Hegarty demanded of an abashed thin chap who had been left at the tender.

“Just went in town on an errand, boss, and come right back!” he confessed.

“Well, whoever did that must have had a good reason and——”

One of the men in business suits with Hegarty gave a low curse of anger.

“Fingerprints is what they wanted whoever done it!” he said aloud.

“That’s it!” cried Hegarty. “And I bet it was them kids! Come on; what are we waiting for. Let’s get going after them!”

But the boys had been gone some time now,[199] and the racing rowboat, overloaded and hard to manage, circled the harbor without any luck while the valuable minutes passed. Then Hegarty was put aboard the Sea Hawk.

“Get under way, boss?” asked a sailor at the controls on the bridge.

“No!” snapped Hegarty, and he went below to his cabin where he was shortly closeted with his lieutenants.

“Why not chase the kids further, Hegarty?” asked one.

“What’s the use? You can’t expect to find a small sloop in the bay on a night like this, or any night for that matter! We’ll find ’em to-morrow!”

“Who handled the motor grip, boss?”

Hegarty winced.

“You and me and him all gripped it in succession as we steadied ourselves to step to the wharf!” he groaned.

On the waters of the bay the sloop forged ahead for the Island at her fastest gait, and soon was cruising in the darkness along the north shore, hunting for a certain new cove into which to slip.[200] She was running in at slackened speed under the starlight when something fast and dark hummed in behind her! It was a speedboat coming at moderate velocity, and both boys were startled.

“The bows, John!” yelled Stan, and the Mate went below, returning at once with their weapons.

“Do you think it’s Dago and the mob?” John asked, putting an arrow to the string. “Indigo nanny goats, what breaks we get!”

Stan had no chance to reply, for a searchlight was flung for an instant full upon the boat, then as quickly shut off. In another split second, blinded as he was by the flare of light, John would have let fly with an arrow anyhow, but a voice commanding, yet friendly, came distinctly to the boys.

“This is the law, boys! Heave to, while we come aboard!”

“What law?” demanded Stan doubtfully, trembling a little in spite of his courage.

“Men of the F. B. I., boys! John sent us!” came the answer.

Tingling with excitement, the boys hove to and the boat drew down upon them and swung alongside.[201] It was clear, for the starlight reflected from its surface, that the boat was not one of the familiar gray speedboats. The men stepped easily aboard the sloop, and one remained with the motorboat while she drifted away at the end of a line.

“Go ahead and anchor when you are ready, boys,” said the leader, speaking quietly.

The anchor was dropped overboard and the sails were smartly lowered. Then the boys led the men below, the leader, clean-shaven, smart appearing, with clear blue eyes and a firm mouth, the others, three in number, being all ordinary-appearing young men, yet each looking quite capable of taking care of himself in an argument. They seated themselves in the now crowded cabin upon bunks and the table, and got down to the point of the visit.

“John got us at once, after you phoned, Sandborn,” said the leader. “I’m the agent in charge of this district—Holmes is the name—and these are my men.”

“Dad works under you part of the time, doesn’t he?” queried Stan.

[202]“That’s right. This time he’s on his own by order of the big Chief. We’re here to snap up these gangster rats when their big battle starts.”

“IT’S starting Wednesday night instead of Thursday!” Stan said, excitedly.

“So John informs us, Sandborn,” Holmes said. “Now, we just found you by accident. We’d been planning to drop in along here later but made it to-night due to the emergency, and you chose the same cove!”

“Want us to get out?”

“No. You stay right here. We’ll shove off towards dawn and hide further down, to the west. What were your plans in anchoring here?”

Stanley explained that they were intending to go ashore, hiding the tender, find out what they could in the darkness, and, at daybreak, take pictures from cover and try for fingerprints.

“The idea is fine, boys, so go ahead. We’ll be round here till dawn; that is, the man on watch will be. The rest of us are going to do some sleuthing on our own to-night! If anything happens, remember to head for this cove! By the[203] way, you heard about the boner Dago pulled the other night, didn’t you?”

“No; what was it?” Stan asked, mystified.

“He and some other men were out apparently hunting for some one in one of the gray boats and they overtook and boarded a New York yacht off Porpoise Island! The owner thought them modern pirates and blasted away with an automatic!”

Laughter rang in the cabin as the other men joined in with Holmes’ amused roar.

“He was luckily a bum shot and hurt no one, but Dago pushed off in a big hurry, leaving a gun behind on the yacht’s deck! The thing got in the papers of course, though the yacht owner naturally didn’t realize who had boarded him, and I got to him and to the police and got possession of the gun, upon which I found some very excellent imprints of the honorable Mr. Dago’s fingers!”

“Didn’t the police search for the gray boat?”

“Sure; but you know how Black Cove is, hidden away! They either forgot it or passed it up as a hiding place somehow, for they did not sight any suspicious boats! I guess that police boat crew is still wondering where the ‘pirates’ came from!”

[204]After some more conversation the boys went ashore in their little tender which they had carried on the port side of the deck, upside down, during the run from Zenith, and carried it up the beach and into some bushes to hide it before hunting for a trail inland. Soon they were moving along a trail, bows and arrows in hand, flashlights in pockets, and fingerprint outfits and the spare camera along, too. Thus laden, they got over the Island under the starlit sky and were soon close to the cove.

Moving cautiously and slowly, they came along the path upon which their adventures had begun, and down through bushes to the shore. There they had a grand stand seat from which to study the activity on the scow. The scow was anchored in its regular spot for night work, and lights glimmered and men moved about!

They stayed there for some time consumed by unsatisfied curiosity.

From that spot, unchallenged, they passed through a maze of paths to the south ridge back of the cabin and were going along in the dark, when Stan grasped John by the arm.

[205]“A tunnel, for sure, John!” he said.

It was indeed a half concealed entrance to a tunnel, and the two boys stood before it, nervous and eager.

“Shall we go in?” John asked, in a whisper.

“Why not?”

“Go ahead!” said a voice from the darkness, close by. “But I’m going with you!”

It was Holmes, who now stepped from the bushes.

“Where you been all this time, Mr. Holmes?” asked Stan, puzzled at the coincidence of that meeting.

Holmes chuckled.

“I’ve been following you, and I’ll admit you are cagy sleuths. I nearly lost you a dozen times. Hold it—here comes the enemy!”


The Boys Become Prisoners

THE hoarse voice of Dago was rather near on the path as the G-man and the two boys ducked into the tunnel and groped hurriedly along, seeking for a hiding place off the main tunnel. They had gone but a short distance when they heard Dago and his men coming down behind them, and backward glimpses showed the lights of flashlights! The tunnel seemed endless, and was quite straight! The boys and their protector began to run, softly, but swiftly! Would they never find a side aisle?

Then Stanley grabbed John and ducked to the right into a dark side tunnel, and Holmes followed at once. There the three crouched, wondering what was to happen next!

Dago came along talking with Butch, and passed the end of the tunnel. As he did so he was heard to say,

[207]“How you gonna prove it, Wan Ho? You have to-a have proof. Cowboy ain’t-a going to just take-a da hunch!”

“I don’t know how I’m going to prove it to Cowboy, Dago, but I’ll try to get something definite,” said Wan Ho Din as they moved off. “For all we know this Gallagher is a G-man!”

As the darkness became intense again in the main tunnel, the boys and their friend came out of the side aisle and pushed on, following Dago. But progress was slow in the blackness, and Holmes began flashing his light on and off at intervals. By this means they shortly found a side aisle wider than the others and so went on into a fair sized room in which great stacks of supplies were piled up. One pile was a group of small, but strong looking, cases upon whose exteriors were stamped the name of a famous brand of liquor. The cases showed all the signs of having been submerged in sea water a long time, for they were wet looking and mildewed and spotted with barnacles and bits of algae.

“There’s part of the cargo the unknown yacht holds, boys,” Holmes said. “You keep watch[208] while I try to get a peek into one of the cases! I’m willing to bet it doesn’t contain liquor!”

But he had no chance to solve the mystery of the cases, for, even as he began to search for a way to break into one, lights and footfalls interrupted. The trio ducked behind and among some barrels and waited a while; then they came out of their hiding places.

“We better get back to the surface, boys,” said Holmes. “I’ve a hunch we’ll be trapped before long if we don’t! And, once we are captured—the jig is up!”

Knowing that he was right, the boys consented to go back by the tunnel to the entrance. This they now did, at a better pace than on the inbound trip, for the way was somewhat more familiar now. They emerged cautiously into the night and it seemed quite light compared to the blackness of that underground passage. The stars twinkled overhead, and it was hard to believe that, beneath those high-riding points of light, men on this earth were scheming to destroy the traditions of a people, their law and order, for money, power, and a dictatorship!

[209]“I’m going to see how my men are making out, boys. Keep out of any tunnels from now on, to-night, at least, and don’t get picked up by Nevada’s men, whatever you do.”

As he went off silently into the night, the boys retired also, to the safety of some thick bushes and a grove of low trees, where they talked in low voices.

“Looks as if Wan Ho Din and Dago suspect Dad’s real identity,” commented Stan. “And between Hegarty knowing for sure who Gallagher is, and the others suspecting him, it looks to me as though things may happen quicker than we reckon!”

The two boys now went round, with great care, to their old spot at the cove’s edge where, from under the overhanging branches of trees, they could watch the nightly salvage job again. And while they took turns with the binoculars while the men on the scow worked, Gallagher and Mr. Nevens were smoking in the latter’s office, discussing the best way to line up the bakeries into the syndicate’s organization. They were thus engaged when Wan Ho Din and Dago dropped in.

[210]“Did you check the ammunition, boys?” asked Cowboy, looking up from his desk.

“Yeh, we got-a plenty lead for the typewriters, Boss!” Dago informed him.


“You bet! Say, you don’t s’pose this Hegarty guy might try to-a spring-a the surprise——?”

Cowboy regarded Dago with a grin.

“Getting nervous, Dago?”

Dago scowled.

“Me? Naw!”

Cowboy reached for another black cigar, lit it leisurely, puffed once or twice, and then leaned back in his chair, shifting his feet to the desk top.

“Hegarty may try anything,” said he, quietly, “so just be on the lookout. You better post plenty of guards, Dago. Wan, you stay here and take some notes. Gallagher and I gotta ring the bakeries in on our service!”

Dago took Butch along to make the rounds of the Island, and they placed men at strategic points so that anyone attempting to surprise them from the sea would receive a warm and metallic reception! They thought themselves pretty smart in[211] their plans, but two boys and a number of ordinary-appearing young men hovered in the darkness close by, gathering all information that could be figured out from the low toned conversation of Dago and the men.

Towards morning Stanley and John took cover in a grove of trees and lay down to sleep; that is, to take turns sleeping, for the other in each case must keep alert for searchers! Nothing happened to disturb their snatches of slumber that night, and at dawn they were stretching weary limbs. John had produced doughnuts, which they ate with satisfaction, and they quenched their thirst at a half concealed spring some distance from the cabin.

Their problem was now to get photographs worthy of submission as court evidence, and they had to get those pictures without being seen! It was no easy task, and was further complicated by a desire to pick up fingerprints, too.

But the two boy detectives were not to be stumped by the appearance of a hard task, and they set to work at once. They closed in on the cabin by following the paths, crouched low.

[212]It took a great deal of time that Tuesday morning to work up to the cabin, for every now and then they had to duck from sight and hug cover while Dago, Wan Ho Din, or others traveled the paths on errands of preparation for the expected raid from the Sea Hawk. Stan was anxious to see Mr. Sandborn and warn him of the latest dangers, but he saw not a glimpse of the G-man. They worked close enough to the cabin to get two excellent shots and then got up to the aquarium for more snaps. It was in the midst of this operation that they were discovered!

Stan was putting a new film in his camera, when he looked up from his place of concealment to stare right into the swarthy face of none other than Dago!

“Well, well,” said Dago. “You boys pickin’ the blueberries, eh?”

John was right behind Stan, bow in hand, but there was no time to set an arrow in the notch, and besides, the extremely thick nature of the shrubbery behind them barred either a fight or a retreat and escape!

“Hello, Dago!” said Stan.

[213]For answer Dago reached through the leaves and grabbed Stan securely by the nape of the neck, dragged him into the open, and shook him. As he performed that pleasurable feat, he grinned while Wan Ho Din nabbed John the same way, and the two boys were shortly headed for the cabin, prisoners!

Stan and John both realized that to twist free of those strong hands and run would invite a speedy death from bullets or result in a prompt recapture anyhow by other members of Nevada’s gang scattered all about round the cove. It was better, for the moment, to go peacefully. But it made the hearts and hopes of the boys drop.

They were hustled into the cabin and up to Nevada’s den. Roughly, Dago and Wan shoved them into the room. Cowboy Nevada bit so hard on his cigar as the door opened and in came the captors and captives, that he bit the end right off that cigar!

“Well look who drops in on us, Gallagher!” said Nevada. “The two kids I been wanting so long!”

Fighting to hide the conflicting emotions almost[214] overpowering him at sight of his fine Dad sitting there in that dangerous atmosphere of crime, Stanley tried hard to avoid the G-man’s eyes. John got red and swallowed very hard. Gallagher grinned with amusement.

“So these is the kids what helped get Hogan?” he asked Nevada, softly.

“Yeh, imagine that!” said Cowboy dryly.

“Kin I take-a them out and-a drown ’em, Boss?” begged Dago.

“Dago,” said Cowboy, surprised. “I can hardly believe my ears!—Nor my eyes!”

Dago shifted uneasily on his feet, embarrassed. Hadn’t the boss expressed a wish to see the kids wiped out many a time in the last week? And now he, Dago, proposed getting rid of them pronto, the Boss was “Surprised!”

“Whatcha mean, boss?” demanded Dago.

Cowboy grinned.

“Dago,” said he, “knowing you as I do, I am astonished that you hadn’t tried drowning them already!”

“Swell, thanks!” cried Dago, starting for the door with a boy held by each of his red paws.


“Drop them!” came Nevada’s rasping order.

“But you said, boss——”

“Drop them, I said. Gallagher here is gonna do the drowning or whatever he wants to use rubbin’ them out!”

He pulled out another black cigar and, lighting it, said, curtly, “Scram, Dago!”

Dago did!


The Fight Begins

AT Zenith Point Hegarty, starting Tuesday morning, had paced the deck all day, stopping hardly for meals, cursing fluently at the slightest interruption of his thoughts, and finally retiring to his cabin in the late afternoon to which he shortly summoned his lieutenants.

They were a cold and hard-appearing group of men quite in contrast to the emotional Hegarty who now laid before them a proposition.

“You, Marzonij,” said he to the smallest of the men.

“Yeh, Boss?” the fellow replied, expectantly.

Thin, pale-faced, he did not look as one would expect him to look, for Marzonij was Hegarty’s best gunman, a merciless killer when doped with a certain drug to which he was addicted. But, because he was small, he could slip up alleys faster in the dark.

[217]“How’s your rod, Marzonij?” asked Hegarty as evenly as he could.

“O.k., Boss. My finger’s itchin’ fer the trigger!”

“Well, here’s the lay-out, Marzonij,” said Hegarty, talking fast but distinctly now as if he had thought the whole thing out. “We know this Gallagher is a Fed. If Cowboy knew it, he’d bump him off, and it just might be a help to us. Not only would we be clear of a bit of typewriting by that guy who is a perfect shot, but the blame for the killing could be laid to Cowboy!”

“How you want me to do it, Boss?”

“Well, the boys at the island expect us Thursday at midnight, don’t they?”

Several men nodded, curtly.

“We been planning to make it Wednesday and surprise them. Well, we’re going to do it to-night instead!”

A chorus of approval greeted this piece of news.

“And more than that: Marzonij is going to go to the island now, make a deal to sign up with Cowboy, if he can, and tip Cowboy off to Gallagher’s real name and job! Marzonij is going to[218] be on the spot when we get there and maybe—” he paused for effect, “Maybe——”

“—Maybe I’ll get a shot at Cowboy, eh?” queried Marzonij eagerly.

Hegarty grinned.

“Marzonij,” said he, “you should oughta go to the head of the class!”

The little man was shortly headed for Porpoise Island, guiding a varnished tender while a powerful outboard motor roared as he crossed the bay. He patted the area under his left armpit reassuringly now and then grinned. He was not only heading for a job he would enjoy, but he’d soon be assistant to Hegarty as head of Cowboy’s swell syndicate.

He circled the sea side of Porpoise Island, located the cove and went in fast, roaring up to the landing-stage as if some one were apt to appear in pursuit at any moment.

“Where’s Nevada?” he demanded as one of Mr. Nevens’ henchmen came forward on the wharf to investigate.

“In conference, fellow!” said the mobster testily. “What-a you want?”

[219]“I gotta see him right off. I got news!”

“Wait here and I’ll see if he’ll talk to ya!” the man said.

As he turned to go, he met Dago who had just come from the cabin. Dago frowned as he surveyed Marzonij.

I’ll see Cowboy for you,” Dago said. “I’ll be back soon.”

“But what the devil would Marzonij want to tell me?” Cowboy said aloud. “Well, show him up. And you, Gallagher, keep the guy covered. This may be a trap!”

Marzonij came in with Dago and confronted the man he hoped soon to kill.

“How-ya, Cowboy?” said he by way of greeting.

“Nice day,” Cowboy said, crisply.

“I got news fer you, Cowboy, private news.”

“You kin talk in front of Gallagher.”

Marzonij frowned.

“This news has gotta be said alone.”

“Not till you’re frisked, first, Marzonij,” said Cowboy, quietly.

“Go ahead, frisk me, but all I’m carrying is my[220] regular cannon. No trick rods or nothing. Nevada, I’m hoping to sign on with you!”

Cowboy Nevada lit himself a black cigar and motioned Dago to frisk the informer. Dago produced the automatic from the armpit holster, nothing else. Cowboy nodded to Gallagher and the G-man got up and went out with Dago and Wan Ho Din.

Back in the room Cowboy said curtly, “Get talking!”

Marzonij did, saying in brief, that he and Hegarty had had a falling out and besides he, Marzonij, figgered Cowboy was likely to win the coming scrap.

“To show you I’m all right,” Marzonij said, “let me tell ya that the raid is coming Wednesday night, to-morrow night, instead of Thursday!”

Cowboy puffed on his cigar quietly.

“I guessed as much anyhow.”

“And another thing, Hegarty found out the dope on this Gallagher guy and I swiped something to show you!”

He produced a photograph from his inside pocket and handed it to Cowboy. He also produced[221] a newspaper clipping and showed it to the crime head. The clipping was headed by a photo just like the original print.


The clipping, clipped from an old newspaper, explained that Mr. Sandborn had been successful in going to work for the government in one of the law-enforcement agencies. It did not give details (for it had so happened that Mr. Sandborn had kept the details very secret) but it gave his home address.

“Where’d you get this?” demanded Cowboy, staring hard.

“Well, Hegarty, as ya know, has a keen memory fer faces, and he had a hunch, after he met Gallagher that he’d seen tha face somewhere’s before so he goes to work and has a bunch of us hunting through the local papers fer a picture of Gallagher, ’cause Hegarty has the hunch the guy’s a local man! And, after a lotta looking he finds this clipping in the old file of the newspaper and being as the guy’s address and that of the kids what helped get Hogan is alike we figures we kin get a clear picture at the guy’s home. So we[222] breaks in quiet one night and gets us a picture from the guy’s private den and this is it! Hegarty remembers reading the clipping in the paper some time back and he says, ‘This Gallagher guy is a G-man by the name o’ Sandborn! That’s the only answer to him working for Cowboy!’”

Cowboy Nevada’s cigar had gone out as he listened and he discarded it while he stared into space.

“Gallagher’s a G-man!” he muttered. “Yeh, that’s right! That would explain everything! No wonder the guy’s such a crack shot with a tommy-gun!”

Suddenly Cowboy Nevada felt chilly though the room was quite warm. Cold chills ran down his back! Why, he’d explained everything to Gallagher! Told him everything! Showed him everything! And the guy was a G-man! Cowboy began to sweat a little till his palms were moist! He hadn’t figured on tackling the F. B. I. yet awhile! He had wanted time to take over the control of politics first, then he’d have found a way to break up that band of law-men! Now[223] he’d have to battle the F. B. I. and Hegarty, too! Cowboy turned savagely on Marzonij.

“Listen, you rat!” said he, “you get back to Hegarty and stay there! I been pretty good on hunches all my life. I had a hunch Gallagher was o.k. Well, I got stung! I can’t trust my hunches anymore! How do I know you ain’t aiming to bump me off for Hegarty, you little——!”

Cowboy Nevada paused for breath.

“Scram, Marzonij,” said he, “before I lose me code of ethics and rub you out! Get going and keep going!”

He crumpled the clipping and the photograph and stuck them into his desk-drawer, and Marzonij left, unarmed.

“Take Marzonij to his boat!” said Cowboy to Wan Ho Din, “and see that he gets outa Black Cove and stays out!”

After that he sent Gallagher on an errand to one of the supply rooms while he closeted himself with Dago.

“Dago,” said he, “I ain’t too sure of Gallagher!”

Dago brightened perceptibly.

[224]“I ain’t never been, boss. I gotta sneakin’ notion that Gallagher ain’t what he says he is. I gotta idea he-a——”


“He might even be a Fed, Boss!” said Dago, taking a deep breath as if he expected Cowboy to shoot him on the spot for that idea.

Amazement overran Dago’s face as Cowboy grinned.

“He is—Dago!”

Dago ran a thick forefinger slowly round his neckband while perspiration stood out in big beads on his red forehead! Slowly and deliberately he swallowed.

“Yer kiddin’, Boss!”

“This ain’t no time fer kiddin’, Dago! We gotta get rid of the kids and Sandborn.”

“‘Sandborn?’” Dago asked slowly and distinctly.

“Yeh, you see, the yellow-haired kid is really—a G-man’s son!”

“No wonder the kid helped get Hogan!” said Dago. “With his old man a dick!”

Cowboy put his feet down on the floor.

[225]“We got work to do, Dago. First we gotta get rid of our guests, then we gotta get ready for Hegarty. He’s due Wednesday night ’stead of Thursday!”

A loud rumbling sound penetrated the cabin, followed by several staccato sounds. Dago regarded Cowboy with thoughtful and worried gaze.

“Due Wednesday, Boss?”

Cowboy grabbed his six-shooters from their holsters and started for the door as the cabin reverberated with gunfire!

“They’re here now, Dago!” he yelled. “Come on!”


G-Men to the Attack

AFTER the interview in Mr. Nevens’ den at which their fate had been sealed so far as Nevada was concerned, the two boys were hustled to the waiting room in which Stanley had been confined not so long ago. It was Gallagher who took them there and strange thoughts were running through his mind as he firmly held the two lads. He was pondering the irony of a fate that demands that a man be ordained the executioner of his own boy. And he was solemnly assuring himself that before that deed was to be done he would wipe out Nevada, Dago, and the entire rotten gang if he had to do it one by one and on his own authority!

Stanley walked bravely along, confident that his resourceful father would prevent harm from striking him. John Tallman, too, felt better even though Cowboy wanted their lives, for he was sure[227] that Mr. Sandborn would find some way to save them. Indeed, both boys were less concerned with their own physical safety than they were with how this case would turn out. The future looked pretty dark at that moment!

Once in the small waiting room, which was now fitted with stacks of ammunition and several machine guns, showing the provision Cowboy Nevada was making for the expected attack by Hegarty, Mr. Sandborn whispered encouragement to the boys.

“We’ll lick this whole rotten crime syndicate, boys,” said he. “Don’t worry. You keep your chins up and you’ll be o.k. I’ll stall till dark for time and at dark I’ll arrange to take you boys out with Butch in one of the speedboats as if to drown you. I haven’t figured out the rest yet but I’ve a hunch Butch is going to end up at Main Haven, our prisoner, and that the F. B. I. will have this situation well under control shortly afterwards!”

“What about the plans of the Chief to nab Hegarty and Cowboy both the night of the attack, Dad? That’s to-morrow, you know!”

Mr. Sandborn smiled.

[228]“Part of the success of the F. B. I. is due to its ability to meet a situation as it arises. The boys are ready to close in any time I tip them off!”

Mr. Sandborn then gave a cue for silence as Butch was heard coming down the tunnel to relieve Gallagher.

“Take care of these kids, Butch,” Gallagher said; “and watch out fer them. They’re pretty tough kids!”

“I’m scairt to death already, Gallagher!” roared Butch. “Dago’s the man for this job. Why he’d be sick at the thought of it. When he has nightmares it’s on account o’ dreamin’ of these kids here!”

Alone with the boys Butch ordered them to sit on a bench along the opposite wall while he regaled himself with cigarettes and the only easy chair in the underground room. Bluff, sloppy, big-mouthed, Butch would hardly have been recognized as the mean and wanton killer that he really was. His carefree attitude was really a mask to hide the fact that he was a haunted man, expecting any time the bullets that would put a period to his underworld existence.

[229]“So you’re the kids as scare Dago!” he muttered, grinning. “Where’s yer bows and arrows?”

That was just what Stanley and John were wondering. Probably back in the bushes from which the boys had been yanked awhile ago! If only they had those bows and arrows now and a second of time to draw back on the bow strings! Escape they knew they must for, although they felt sure Mr. Sandborn would be able to prevent them from getting hurt, yet they knew that that might also prevent the working out of the F. B. I.’s plans to get both Hegarty and Nevada! They could not sit idly back because they seemed checkmated, and just wait for some one to come along and free them!

“I guess our bows are gone for good,” said Stanley to Butch. “And things don’t look so good for us, either!”

Butch continued to grin.

“Dyin’ ain’t any fun, eh?”

“Mr. Nevens wouldn’t really hurt us, would he, Butch?” asked Stanley innocently.

“Naw,” said Butch. “He don’t like to kill kids, not with guns. He’s partial ta fryin’ them in oil!”

[230]This outburst of humor called for a big laugh; so Butch enjoyed his own joke to its fullest.

“Well, blow me down!” observed John. “And cook me for a sweet potato! By all the chinks in far Hong Kong! ‘Sweep the floor, oh, Sally dear, for father’s comin’ home!’”

He would have gone on in that characteristic manner, half singing, half talking, but Stan stopped him, amused at John’s excited remarks, in spite of the tense situation.

“You don’t think up them sayings all yourself?” queried Butch. “Now, do you?”

“Serve the coffee piping hot and sally down the forepeak, Tim!” began John again, in deep disgust while he glared at Butch with eyes that spoke volumes.

“How does that go?” Butch asked. “Say, say that again, kid, that was a good one!”

But John had lapsed into a forlorn silence which was broken now and then by a slight muttering. Stan leaned back, trying to think of a way out of their predicament and Butch, after staring at John as if he were something on exhibition in a zoo, began to nod and blink sleepily. He[231] yawned and gaped profusely, slid down further in his chair, and half-closed his eyes. Dago might be frightened by two kids, but Butch had no misgivings! Unfortunate Butch——!

After Marzonij had left the harbor at Zenith, Hegarty waited impatiently for sunset before ordering the anchors up. He knew that it would have taken an hour or so for his henchman to contact Nevada and he did not want to get to Porpoise himself till nearly dark. As a matter of fact, it was nearly dark before the Sea Hawk moved in towards Black Cove.

And by that time the entire situation on the island had changed. Marzonij had contacted Cowboy, informed on Mr. Sandborn, it being dusk then, and had climbed into his boat to leave the cove, while Wan Ho Din looked on, when some one up on the west ridge began firing with a tommy-gun! Thinking the shots were intended for himself, Marzonij lost no time in getting under way and roaring through the channel into the semi-darkness outside.

But what had really happened was that some one in a machine gun nest on the ridge had spotted[232] one of Hegarty’s men from the Malcon. The swift Malcon had anchored in the cove on the west end of the island, where the Staghound had moored before, and had sent men ashore as the land move of the Hegarty attack. These men had received orders to locate the gun nests but not to be seen; but one of them had made a mistake——!

Creeping through the underbrush towards the spot where they had been forced to abandon their weapons, the G-man’s son and John Tallman lay frozen as they listened to the rat-tat-tat of machine gun fire.

“Braid my dog’s great whiskers!” whispered John, “the fight’s on!”

“We’ve got to find our bows, John. Sooner or later in this scrap we’re going to need them! It’ll soon be too dark to find them!”

They moved on, hoping they were not moving into any zone of fire!

“I have to laugh every time I think of Butch’s face when he opened his eyes!” chuckled Stan. “He sure was a surprised man!”

“You’d be, too,” said John, “if you’d gone to[233] sleep with a couple of kid prisoners and then woke up to find yourself bound and gagged! We had to work fast, though, didn’t we?”

Stan nodded.

They had indeed worked fast when Stan gave the signal as Butch slept late that afternoon, tying his arms swiftly with rope and gagging him with a knotted handkerchief. Butch’s circulation might be sluggish in the wrists for a while, so tight were the cords, but at least he wouldn’t be getting free of his bonds!

“Whoops!” came Stan’s joyous half-yell. “Here’s my bow and yours! And our arrows!”

They recovered their weapons, drew deeper into the shrubbery and considered their next move. By now the air was tingling with gunfire and the shouts of men.

“Apparently so far Hegarty’s men are attacking from the west end of the island, John,” Stan said; “but it’s pretty certain he’ll get his boats into the cove shortly and so strike at the heart of Nevada’s fortress!”

“Blazing torches of light!” cried John. “Let’s not stay here gabbing. What can we do to help?”

[234]Stan grinned at the impetuous John.

It was fairly dark now and Stan was glad of the small pocket flashlight he had. The boys could best help by finding Holmes and his men and asking for orders.

“We’ll find Holmes and get our orders!” he said. “Let’s go!”

Since Holmes’ boat and one or more men were likely to be in the cove where the Staghound now lay at anchor, the boys slid along through the bushes, cutting swiftly across paths, avoiding known machine gun nests and tunnel entrances, and so maneuvering for the dash down the path to that cove. It took some time and the darkness was alive with the noise of the fight! But they made it safely and soon reached the shores of the cove. There they found their rowboat where it had been hidden, and hurried out to the sloop. Some one challenged them as they drew up to the sloop.

It proved to be a G-Man left aboard the sloop to help protect it from intrusion by snoopers from the island.

“What’s the row up there?” inquired the Federal[235] agent tensely as the boys climbed aboard.

“Hegarty’s men are attacking to-night!” cried Stan. “Where’s Mr. Holmes?”

“I wish I knew!” said the man emphatically. “It’s no joke—hello! Who’s there?”

The last part of his remark was addressed to the darkness from which came the sounds of a boat’s engine powerful and low!

“Agent Holmes!” came the reply in a clear quiet voice. “Hegarty has pulled a fast one and we’ve got to get reinforcements!”

“What about Dad?” demanded Stanley suddenly. “You’re not leaving him alone in this fight, are you?”

Mr. Holmes grinned in the light of the cabin lamps as he came down from the cockpit.

“Certainly not! Your father will be quite able to take care of himself, unless I miscalculate his ability, but I’m leaving two men up on the ridge to watch for him and aid him if they can. In the meantime—to Main Haven we go for more men!”

“Think we’ll be safe here in the cove till you get back, Mr. Holmes?” queried Stanley.

The agent nodded, “I believe so.”

[236]He climbed back into the G-boat and it shortly hummed out of the cove into the starlit night, headed for Main Haven, and for the numerical strength of the law to defeat the plans of the underworld! Both Stanley and John thrilled as they lost track of the white water about the racing boat.

“They’ll be in Main Haven in no time!” Stan said. “And I hope they get back twice as fast! I’m nervous about Dad! Hegarty’s anxious to get him!”

“Thumping blazes!” snapped John, snatching up his bow and arrows. “What’s keeping us here?”

Stan grinned and blew out the cabin light.

“Took the words right out of my mouth, John,” said he. “Let’s go!”

Fifteen minutes later, as they were coming up over the highest rise and in sight of the battle, the boys gave cries of astonishment! The entire ridge of the cove was lined with darting flames of light, and the apex of those flashes was a spot in the cove in which the Sea Hawk, dimly outlined by her own gunfire, was giving battle to Nevada! Two[237] other moving black shadows were sliding into the cove now, spitting steel and fire! The Malcon and the Canton, having discharged part of their crews to surround the spot from the land, were now coming to the aid of the embattled Sea Hawk.

In the meantime, at Main Haven, the racing G-boat had summoned aid. Wires were humming with the news. The Chief himself had dictated crisp orders! Men were appearing instantly as if from the ground itself. From barber shops, boat yards, and the grocery store, came men who had worked for a day or so now as common working men but who were highly trained law officers awaiting this very summons!

They came on the run, adjusting automatics in holsters, unleashing hand machine guns, checking the fuses on tear-gas bombs! Waiting boats appeared as if from the water itself, trim, speedy craft, with trained men ready to handle the helms! From points along the coast other swift boats put out, too, and, within a half hour, Porpoise Island would not only be surrounded with wary and swift boats waiting for escaping underworld craft, but the beaches on the island would receive corps[238] of G-men, each a crack shot, each capable of effective single-handed combat, each determined to capture the criminals alive or die wiping them out!

They had taken Alvin Karpis, Baby-Face Nelson, Dillinger in their stride, and a host of other public enemies! They had trimmed the sails of Hogan and Brennan! They loved the law and the right and hated the rats who tried to undermine and destroy the sacred common rights of mankind! And they went up the hills of Porpoise Island that night eager for combat, brave, strong, resourceful!


The Secret of Black Cove

AFTER leaving the boys that afternoon in the capable hands of Butch, Gallagher had gone back to Nevada to talk over certain plans in connection with Hegarty’s expected attack. And he had been so engaged when Marzonij had been shown up. He had left the room wondering just what it was Marzonij had brought in the way of news and he had more than a hunch that it concerned himself. He waited patiently with Dago while the interview took place, and was doing some fast thinking by the time Cowboy sent him to the supply room. Cowboy had told him to check the small arms supplies. They’d already been checked twice by Dago, so Cowboy could only be stalling him for time!

He went to the supply room and walked about it trying to remember every detail of Marzonij’s remarks while he was getting Cowboy to agree to[240] a private interview, trying to guess Cowboy’s thoughts after that interview by the look of Nevada’s face, estimating his chances of having been exposed as a law-man! But he could not arrive at any certainty in his conclusions. He must go on bluffing till he learned his bluff had been called! It was his duty! And if Cowboy suspected that the truth trapped him and elected to shoot him down in cold blood, he’d take it like a man, remembering that the F. B. I. expects the courage of a soldier in its men!

It was getting dark outside by now, Mr. Sandborn knew, and he knew that by this time two nights hence Hegarty would try conclusions with the notorious Nevada!

The first intimation that things had reached a climax already was the flinging open of the store-room door as some one entered from the cabin tunnel. At the same time a man came into the supply room from a side aisle. Both men were tense and spoke in sharp, nervous voices.

“Hegarty’s here, Gallagher!” cried one.

“We’re in for some hot typewriting to-night, Gallagher,” said the other.

[241]And at that moment, Dago himself appeared in the doorway from the cabin. He was purple of face as seen in the electric lights of the store-room. He was gripping a submachine gun in his paws.

“Grab him, men!” cried Dago. “He’s a Fed!”

But the two men, who now stood, quite by accident between Dago and Mr. Sandborn, were too startled by what Dago yelled to do anything for a full second. For all they knew it might be a big joke on Dago’s part, though why Dago should be kidding when Hegarty’s men were in full attack, was beyond them!

By that time Mr. Sandborn, his own thinking conditioned by training and habit, had darted like a shadow down a side aisle and was streaking it for the tunnel entrance near the aquarium before Dago could get into real pursuit! Then came the whine of steel as Mr. Sandborn covered the last forty yards to the entrance! The slugs bit and rang on the woodwork and metal of the entrance, but the G-man was through and in the open in a flash now!

His first concern was for the boys, and he raced over a path, noting as he ran that the firing of the[242] battle was coming from the land ridge on the west of the cove! That would mean that Hegarty had sent an overland party to draw attention from a main attack elsewhere! The fleet-footed G-man did not know that as he dashed down one path towards the waiting room he passed within ten feet of the hidden boys, who had been crawling forward to find their arrows.

He reached the entrance to the waiting room tunnel, fumbled for a second for the release catch, then raced down the steps and the tunnel towards the spot where the boys should still be in the company of Butch! He entered the waiting room to stumble headlong over the prostrate figure of Butch! One glance at the man’s bonds told the story, and the elated G-man raced back again through the tunnel, disregarding the muffled groans from the unfortunate Butch.

Now where would the boys be? Mr. Sandborn did not know, but he’d have to look about for them. He became now a silent shadow slinking swiftly about from one spot of the field of action to another, examining tunnel entrances, bushes, the boat-house, and the launches for the boys.

[243]Marzonij meanwhile had raced out of the channel to meet the oncoming Sea Hawk. He had been taken aboard, reported his trip to Hegarty, and confirmed the fact of the beginning of the Big Fight, then taken his place at a gun as the big yacht moved into the channel to the cove. The Malcon had come up the sea side, having dropped her landing crew, and the Canton had come round from the bay side around the snout.

The big yacht tore into the cove first, opening fire as she came, and the others followed at short distances behind.

Mr. Sandborn, trapped between the fires of both the yachts and the machine gun crews on the ridges, made haste to get out of his present position as quickly as possible. As he did so he came face to face with Dago. Dago had just come round a flower bush in the dark, gun in hand, and the men recognized each other at once. Dago’s gun muzzle bore down as Mr. Sandborn’s right hand brought up the automatic he carried. As the G-man’s trigger finger squeezed, he contrived to slip to his knees!

The blast of Dago’s submachine gun seemed[244] almost to lift the G-man’s hat from his head, but it was high and clear! Mr. Sandborn’s shot hit the gangster in the fingers, and, yelling with pain, Dago turned and bolted.

Mr. Sandborn gave chase, and Dago darted along the cove trail towards a certain gun nest! As the swarthy fellow tore along he suddenly leaped off the ground with a scream of pain, and fell in a sprawling, clawing heap! Mr. Sandborn was upon him in an instant, clipping him sharply on the head with the muzzle of his automatic. The big mobster now senseless, the G-man tied him securely with torn strips of clothing, and left him gagged and helpless in the bushes. He’d be found when needed, Mr. Sandborn suspected!

“Dad!” came a loud outcry of a youthful voice.

The G-man darted in the direction of the voice and was standing in deep bushes grasping his son with strong, glad hands a moment later.

“I’m sure glad you’re safe, son,” said he.

“How’d you like that shot, Mr. Sandborn?” queried John. “Did you see Stan’s arrow sticking in Dago’s pants?”

The truth was that the arrow had been dislodged[245] by Dago’s sprawling fall, but the G-man had no doubt that a steel-tipped hunting arrow had caused Dago’s yowl of pain!

“It was a swell shot, boys,” agreed Mr. Sandborn. “But you boys had better get back to the beaches away from this dangerous scrap! Are there any G-men ashore, do you know?”

Stan explained that Holmes had left lookouts behind and gone for aid, and Mr. Sandborn then said it was wise to get through the lines, if possible, and be clear of the actual fight for a while at least.

But as the boys and the G-man emerged from the bushes, they came face to face with Cowboy Nevada himself! He was hurrying up the trail, evidently bound on a visit to one of his machine gun emplacements, and he was surprised to meet Gallagher. Before he could say or do a thing, the G-man had flung himself upon Nevada.

Nevada, an old hand at scrapping, shook off the G-man, trying to maneuver for a shot or two with his six-guns, but Mr. Sandborn whipped out with alert hands and grabbed the wrists of the desperado!

He twisted hard as he did so, and the guns clattered[246] to the ground out of reach, where Stanley and John picked them up and hoved them away from the fight. Grunting with the effort of his blows, the trained G-man flung himself again upon Nevada, intent on knocking out the Westerner and taking him alive! Nevada swapped punches for a moment or two, then turned and ran for the cabin!

The suddenness of this retreat took the G-man by surprise, and Nevada had a dozen paces head start. But Mr. Sandborn was not to be left behind, and he closed up, reached out his right hand, and grabbed the fleeing gunman and crime head by the shoulders, spilling him to the ground! Then, as Nevada got up, Mr. Sandborn with perfect timing ducked a punch and slapped home a stiff uppercut that floored the head of the country’s biggest crime corps for the count!

Expertly, Mr. Sandborn gagged and bound the man as he had done with Dago, then he dragged the unconscious man into deep shrubbery and left him there.

At this time the situation at the cove took a turn towards a climax as Hegarty put the Sea Hawk[247] close to the boat-house and his men leaped ashore! Nevada’s men came pouring down into the hollow to intercept and fight the invaders, and Mr. Sandborn and the boys had to duck into the bushes as this took place.

“Our best bet, boys,” shouted Mr. Sandborn, for the noise of gunfire drowned out ordinary talk, “is to get up the ridge in case our men are coming over. Holmes should be back by now with aid.”

The three of them dashed up the path to the ridge, and, as they did so, they met the G-men coming up the hill by every path, alert, able men well armed, well trained, anxious to get in at close quarters with the gangs!

“The Chief sent word for you to report to me, Sandborn,” said Holmes, “and I’m to give you orders!”

“All right, Holmes, let’s have your orders. I am ready.”

Holmes grinned.

“You’ve done a swell job, Sandborn, and so have the boys, unless my guess proves pretty wrong when you spill the evidence in court, and my orders are for you to go with the two boys to[248] the Staghound, raise her sails, and head for Centerport for another brief vacation!”

Protesting, Mr. Sandborn finally agreed to those orders, but before he started down the slope with the boys he left clear instructions as to where Dago and Nevada could be found, and pointed the directions of tunnel entrances. The agent in charge shook hands with Mr. Sandborn and the boys, and led his eager men in a long, circling line down into the cove! It would not take those fine young fighters long to tame the wild disordered ranks of cheap gunmen and wipe out the last of the biggest crime army yet to levy tribute on the country’s business and people! And with the capture or death of those men would go the crumpling of the entire vast syndicate with its network of pillage and spoilage! The F. B. I. would add another splendid page to its excellent record of arrests and convictions!

Down at the Staghound the boys and the tired Mr. Sandborn enjoyed a cup of coffee and doughnuts before raising the sails.

“Wow, what an adventure that was!” breathed Stan. “And I’m glad it’s over, Dad!”

[249]“No gladder than I am, and your mother will be!” said the clear eyed man, smiling. “Let’s stay home a few days and keep Mother company. We’ve been nothing but worry to her for some time now!”

“The water’s no place for pleasure lovers, I can see,” laughed John. “Great gobs of whipped cream—we’ll have to hike on the road next time, or go camping, or build us a trailer and become tin-can tourists! Maybe then we’ll just have a good time and keep clear of gangsters and crime syndicates!”

“Dad,” said Stan, breaking into John’s facetious remarks, “both John and I are dying to know what the wreck was at the bottom of Black Cove and what it contained!”

Mr. Sandborn helped himself to another doughnut while John poured more coffee.

“The whole story is this, in a few words, boys,” said he: “some years ago a rum-running yacht called the Shanghai, owned and operated by underworld interests, became a floating bank for the deposit of the vast sums of money stolen by that particular gang from dozens and scores of big[250] bank robberies, and kidnapings! Besides that, those mobsters added actual gold and silver bullion stolen en route from mines to mints, and chests of precious stones gathered by confidence men and thieves from the necks and safes of rich victims. Besides a normal cargo of liquor which enabled the Shanghai to pose as an ordinary rum-runner, she carried the immense loot I have spoken of.

“For some months while the wealth was being accumulated in that single hull, and while she rode her place along notorious ‘Rum-Row,’ the secret was safe; then some one talked, and in time Cowboy Nevada, a small time racketeer, heard of it.

“He conceived and executed a clever plot by means of which he took possession of the yacht on the seas, took her into Black Cove, which he had figured as a perfect spot for his plan, and sank her at once during the same night, so that at daybreak there was no trace of the vanished rum-runner!”

John choked on a doughnut, he was so surprised.

“That certainly was an ingenious way to set[251] himself up in big-time racketeering!” said Stan. “No wonder he had wealth to start him off on his way to a syndicate!”

“You’re right,” agreed Mr. Sandborn, soberly. “And Nevada made sure to rescue, by a diver, only what he really needed in ready riches to handle his vast enterprises. He kept a pile of cases loaded with currency in his store-room, but the Shanghai must still contain a vast store of jewels, money, and bullion. Most of it will find its way shortly to its rightful owners!”

They finished the brief meal, and, warm and somewhat rested, the boys hoisted sail, stowed the tender on deck, and slacked off the sheets while the fleet Staghound, which had been not so long ago the black-hulled Water Witch, bore the G-man, the G-man’s son, and the faithful and amusing John Tallman towards the far lights of Centerport, and home!



Obvious typographical errors have been corrected.

Inconsistencies in hyphenation have been standardized.

Archaic or variant spelling has been retained.

Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.