Chapter XXI. Tom Brings One Enemy to Terms.
 

"Am I dreaming?" gasped the former school-teacher, when he could command his voice sufficiently to speak.

"You might better be dreaming, Josiah Crabtree," replied Tom, eying the man sharply. "This is a bad business you are engaged in."

"Where did you come from?"

"None of your business."

"Don't be impertinent, young man."

"Then don't try to pry into my private affairs."

"Have you been following this boat?" questioned Crabtree nervously.

"Never mind what I've been doing. I have found you out, and that appears to be a good job done."

"Found me out? What do you mean to insinuate by that?"

"I mean that you are up to no good; that's what I mean, Mr. Josiah Crabtree, A. M."

"You are very, very----"

"Don't try to abuse me, it won't work. I want to know what you propose to do with Mrs. Stanhope."

"That is my affair--or, rather, it is the affair of that lady and myself--and does not concern such a scamp as you."

"Oh, Josiah! I do not think Tom is a scamp," broke in Mrs. Stanhope, in a pleading voice.

"He is a scamp, and worse, Pet. Allow me to deal with him alone."

"So you thought to elope with Mrs. Stanhope," went on Tom sarcastically. "To elope without Dora being the wiser."

"Ha! what do you know of Dora!" ejaculated the man, starting back in alarm.

"I know a good deal."

"Has she--ahem! followed me?"

"Would that surprise you?"

"It is--er--very extraordinary." Crabtree cleared his throat. "I--that is--where is she now?" And he looked around.

"I told you I wasn't answering questions. But you had better take my advice and go slow, or you'll soon find yourself in jail again."

"You must have followed us in a boat. Where is your craft?"

"Another question which I am not answering. Do you surrender?"

"Surrender?"

"That is what I said."

"I--er--don't understand."

"The case is very simple. You ran off with Mrs. Stanhope, influencing her against her will to accompany you. Your game is to marry her so that you can get hold of the money she is holding in trust for Dora---- "

"It is false!"

"It is the plain truth. Josiah Crabtree, you are a trickster of the first water, but if I can prevent your trickery I am going to do it." Tom turned to Mrs. Stanhope, who was now crying violently. "Won't you go below and let me have it out with this man?"

"Oh, I trust there will be no violence!" she sobbed.

"I shall teach this young upstart a lesson," fumed Josiah Crabtree. He saw that Tom's coming had greatly lessened his influence over the lady.

"Please go below, Mrs. Stanhope, and don't worry about me," said Tom.

"Yes, it will be best," added Crabtree, and then the lady disappeared down the companion way, walking slowly, for she felt weaker than ever, because of the excitement.

"Now, sir, we will come to an understanding," said the former teacher of Putnam Hall, as he faced Tom with a show of severe dignity.

"Very well, we will come to an understanding."

"You have followed me to here."

"Granted."

"You came in another boat with Dora."

"What if I did? Do you suppose I would come with her alone?" went on Tom, struck with a sudden idea.

"Do you mean to say you have--er--brought along any of the--ahem!-- authorities?" And Josiah Crabtree glanced around nervously.

"I am not alone--nor is Dora where you can do her any harm."

Josiah Crabtree's face became a trifle pale.

"Boy, what do you wish to do--ruin me?"

"Mr. Crabtree, you are ruining yourself."

"You were the means of putting me in jail before--you and your brothers."

"You deserved it, didn't you?"

"No."

"I think you did. But that has nothing to do with the present situation. I want to know if you are willing to come to terms or not?"

"What--er--terms do you want me to make?"

"Are you in control of this boat?'

"I am."

"Then, in the first place, you must turn the control of the boat over to me."

"And after that?"

"You can remain on board, if you behave yourself, until we reach the mainland."

"And what then?"

"After that you can make your own terms with Mrs. Stanhope and Dora."

"But the authorities--"

"Mr. Crabtree, for the sake of the Stanhopes we wish to avoid all publicity," replied Tom, playing his game as skillfully as possible. "I don't think they will want to bring you and themselves into court, if you will promise to leave them alone in the future."

"Who is with you here?" And Crabtree looked ashore anxiously.

"Sam is close at hand."

"And the others?"

"Never mind about the others. I hold a winning hand, but what that is I'll let time show. Now, for the last time, are you willing to let me take charge or not?"

"It is a very unusual proceeding."

"Say yes or no."

"What shall I say? I do not wish any trouble."

"Then I am going to take charge. Call up the two sailors who have been running this boat for you."

With a dark look on his face Josiah Crabtree did as requested. At the same time Tom beckoned to Sam to come on the deck.

The sailors were much astonished to see the two strangers. Only the fat tar could speak English, and he translated what was said into French for his companion's benefit.

It was with very bad grace that Josiah Crabtree told the sailor who commanded the Wellington that Tom would now direct the movements of the vessel.

"We have--er--decided to change our plans," said the former school- teacher.

"What you lak to do den, hey?" demanded the fat sailor.

"What is the nearest American town to here?" asked Tom.

"Ze nearest place?"

"Yes."

"Buryport."

"And how far is that from here?"

"Ten or eleven miles."

"Then we will sail for that place, and at once."

At this Crabtree looked surprised.

"You are going to Buryport at once? What about the others you said were with you?"

"I will answer no questions." Tom turned around and winked at Sam, who had heard the previous conversation. "I guess they'll follow right enough, eh?"

"Sure," answered Sam. "Dick knows what he's doing, and so does that detective."

"A detective!" groaned Josiah Crabtree. "Has it come to this!" And he wrung his hands nervously.

"Mr. Crabtree, I must ask you to step forward," went on Tom. "I do not wish you to go below."

"Why?"

"I do not wish you to worry Mrs. Stanhope," answered the youth. But what he was afraid of was that Crabtree might take it into his head to arm himself and bring on further trouble.

"As you please," answered the former teacher, with a shrug of his shoulders. "You seem to have matters well in hand." And he strode forward, biting his lip in vexation. He would have tried to escape to the island, only he was afraid no one would ever come to rescue him.

While speaking, Tom had taken the pains to display the pistol taken from the sailor at the cave. Sam now took up a short iron bar lying near, and both boys showed that they meant to remain masters of the situation. The Canadians noted this, but said nothing, for they felt something was wrong and they wished to get into no trouble. A few minutes later the anchor was brought up, the sails hoisted, and the Wellington stood away from Needle Point Island.