Chapter XXVII. What Happened on the Steam Yacht
 

About an hour after the Rovers and Captain Barforth had left the steam yacht Dora came from the forward deck looking much disturbed.

"What is the trouble?" asked her mother.

"Oh, not very much," she answered, for she did not wish to worry her parent. "Where is Fred?"

"I think he is at the stern, fishing with Hans and John."

"I want to see them," continued Dora, and hurried off.

She found the three chums at the stern. They had been fishing for some time and several fish lay on the deck near them.

"Hullo, Dora, want to try your luck?" asked Fred, pleasantly. "I'll fix you a line--and fix lines for Nellie and Grace, too, if they want them."

"I want to tell you boys something," said the girl, in almost a whisper, and not noticing what Fred had proposed. "I-I am afraid something is going to happen."

"What's that?" asked Songbird, and all three youths looked at Dora anxiously.

"I was just up near the bow of the boat, and I overheard Mr. Carey, the mate, talking to Mr. Bossermann, the assistant engineer. You know I don't like those men a bit."

"None of us do," said Fred.

"Didn't ve haf a quarrel mid both of dem," added Hans.

"They were so in earnest that they did not notice me," continued Dora. "I was going to walk away when I saw them, but then I overheard the name of Walt Wingate and I turned back to learn what they were saying about that bad man. It seems both the mate and the assistant engineer have been talking to Wingate, and Wingate has made them an offer."

"Does Wingate want his liberty?" questioned Fred.

"Yes, and he wants more--he wants the mate and the assistant engineer to help him to defeat Mr. Rover's plan to get the treasure. He told Mr. Carey and Mr. Bossermann that if they would aid him he was sure Sid Merrick would reward them handsomely."

"And what did Carey and Bossermann say to that?" asked Songbird eagerly.

"They said they'd like to talk it over with Sid Merrick."

"The scoundrels!" vociferated Fred. "Talk it over with Merrick! We ought to put 'em, both in irons!"

"I wanted to hear more, but they walked away and I was afraid to follow them," continued Dora. "I thought I had better tell you and perhaps you'd know what to do. I didn't want to worry mother or my aunt."

"We ought to let Captain Barforth know of this at once," said Songbird.

"Chust vot I say," said Hans. "Der better der quicker."

"How can you let him know?"

"One of us might row ashore," said Fred. "The others ought to stay behind to watch affairs."

"I'll go ashore," said Songbird promptly.

"You'll have to have one of the sailors row you."

"I know it. I can take Hollbrook, he's a pretty decent sort of chap and I know he can row well."

The fishing lines were wound up, and without delay Songbird presented himself to Asa Carey.

He and the others had agreed to say nothing to the mate about what Dora had over heard.

"Mr. Carey, I wish to go ashore," he said. "Can I have Hollbrook row me to the beach?"

"Go ashore?" growled the mate. "I didn't know anybody else was going."

"Well, I've just made up my mind to go. Can Hollbrook take me in one of the small boats?"

"Why didn't you go when Captain Barforth went?"

"I didn't think of it then."

"I don't know that I can spare Hollbrook," grumbled the mate. He was eyeing Songbird in a suspicious manner.

"He doesn't seem to be doing anything just now."

"Say, who is running this vessel, you or I?" cried Asa Carey.

"Captain Barforth is running her. But she is under charter to Mr. Rover, and Mr. Rover told me to use a small boat whenever I pleased," answered Songbird sharply. "If you refuse to let me have a boat say so."

"Oh, I--er--I didn't say that," stammered the mate. "If you want to go do so. But I don't know if Hollbrook can get you through the reef in safety or not."

"I'll risk it," said Songbird briefly and hurried below to prepare himself for the trip. Fred and Hans met him in his stateroom.

"I think Carey is suspicious," said Songbird. "Keep an eye on him, and if anything goes wrong shoot off the cannon or a gun. I'll do my best to find Mr. Rover and the captain and bring them back as quickly as possible."

In a few minutes Songbird and the sailor were over the side of the Rainbow. Hollbrook could pull a long, telling stroke, and under his guidance the craft soon shot through the opening in the reef and glided safely into the bay.

"I am glad to put foot on shore," said the sailor, as he leaped out on the sand.

"I want you to remain near the boat," said Songbird. "I want to see the captain and it is possible we may want to get back to the steam yacht in a hurry."

"Oh! All right, sir."

"While I am gone watch the Rainbow and if she should steam away any great distance call me."

"Why, I thought orders were for us to remain near the reef," cried Hollbrook.

"So they were, but Mr. Carey is in command now."

Leaving the sailor on the sand, Songbird hurried up the path which the Rovers and Captain Barforth had taken earlier in the day. He had covered less than half the distance to the shattered cave when he heard a shout from the beach. Then, from the water, came the sound of a shotgun.

"Something is wrong already!" he gasped, as he stopped running. "I wonder what it can be?"

He hesitated, not knowing whether to go forward or back. Then he set up a yell on his own accord.

"Captain Barforth! Mr. Rover! This way, quick!" he called at the top of his lungs.

At first no answer came back, but presently he heard Tom's shrill whistle, and then a cry from Sam and Dick. The three Rover boys came down the path pell mell, and their father and the captain were not far behind them.

"What's the trouble?" came simultaneously from Dick and Tom. Sam would have asked the question too, but he was out of breath.

"It's Asa Carey," answered Songbird. And then, as the others came up, he told what Dora had overheard.

"And that shot we heard?" questioned Captain Barforth.

"It told that there was trouble on board, but what I don't know."

"Let us get to the shore," said Dick. He was thinking of Dora and her mother and the Lanings.

As quickly as possible they dashed along to the sandy beach. Hollbrook was still calling for Songbird.

"The yacht is steaming away!" he announced. "She is standing to the eastward."

Captain Barforth gave a look and something like a groan escaped him. The Rainbow was a good mile away from where she had been stationed since reaching Treasure Isle.

"Can it be possible Carey and Bossermann are running away with the vessel?" asked Sam.

"That would be both mutiny and robbery," answered the captain. "I gave orders to Carey to leave her where she was, unless a heavy blow threatened to send her in--then he was to stand off until the blow was over."

"Do you know what I think?" came from Dick. "I think he is going to sail around to the other side of the isle. Probably he has an idea of consulting with Sid Merrick. Then, if Merrick's offer suits him, he will do all he can to prevent us from getting the treasure."

"You mean he and Bossermann will throw in their fortunes with Merrick?" asked Mr. Rover.

"Yes, and as many more on the steam yacht as Carey can win over. I believe Carey is a rascal and Bossermann is no better."

"Yes, but they are only two against over a dozen?" said Captain Barforth.

"No, three, for you must remember they have Wingate with them," put in Tom.

"That is true."

"Can't we get to the yacht somehow?" asked Sam. He was thinking of Grace and the other girls, and wondering what would become of them in case there was a fight on board.

"No, that is out of the question," answered Mr. Rover. "All we can do is to remain on the isle and wait developments. If they land we can fight them, but not before."