ON BOARD OF THE LA MOTTE

Perhaps the principal reason why Dory Dornwood and the instructor in
mechanics had obtained so easy a victory over the two members of the
Nautifelers Club who remained on board of the La Motte, was that both of
them were soaked with beer. They were not intoxicated in the worst sense
of the word: they were “boozy” and stupid.

They had been left on board while the other three had gone on shore to
“do the job” at the school, and, no doubt, the time in the furious storm
hung heavy on their hands. They had imbibed from the keg until they were
deprived of whatever natural energy belonged to them, and they did not
seem to have either the pluck or the ability to do any thing for
themselves. A stronger intoxicant might have made them wild and
desperate: the beer simply stupefied them.

“We have got the vessel,” said the machinist, with a cheerful smile, as
he held on to the robber whom he had just secured.

“No doubt of that,” added Dory, as he rose from the deck where he had
been attending to his prisoner. “These fellows don’t seem to be very
desperate characters.”

“I expected a far worse time than we have had,” added Mr. Jepson. “What
is the next move? Shall we take them to the school in the vessel?”

“Not yet a while,” replied Dory, glancing towards the shore where the
two had landed on the rafts. “We have another job on our hands; but I
think we had better put these fellows where they will not be in our
way.”

As he spoke, he assisted the one who was lying on the deck to rise.
Leaving both of them in charge of his companion, he went down into the
cabin. It was a very small apartment, not intended for more than four
persons. On the table in the centre of it was the keg of beer, carefully
secured with blocks, and lashed down.

An open door by the side of the companion-way led into the hold. One end
of it had been roughly prepared with berths, which were provided with
bedding. There were six of these bunks, making sleeping accommodations
for ten persons. An old carpet had been laid on the bottom of the hold,
and Dory was willing to admit that the place was comfortable enough for
a summer-cruise on the lake.

As the club consisted of only five persons, Dory could not imagine why
the vessel had been fitted up, at some extra expense, for double that
number. But he did not wait to indulge in any conjectures on the
subject. The stanchions which had been put up to support the bunks,
afforded what he was looking for; and the two prisoners could be
fastened to them.

The robbers were conducted to this place. They were both under the
influence of the beer, and had some difficulty in maintaining the centre
of gravity over the base. They were sleepy and stupid, and Dory
compelled his man to sit down with his back to the stanchion. In this
position he made him fast, and the machinist did the same with the
other.

Both of them said they were comfortable when the question was put to
them. But they were so tipsy that they had no very definite ideas on any
subject. They submitted with the best grace in the world, and even
seemed to be pleased to find that all their responsibilities had come to
a sudden end; for they were not in condition to attend to any thing.

“What has become of Angy?” asked one of them.

“He could not come on board again,” replied Dory. “Who were the two
fellows that went ashore on the hatches of the schooner?”

“Chuckworth and Mackwith,” replied the one addressed.

“What is your name?”

“My name is Sangfraw.”

“What is your name?” asked Mr. Jepson of the other.

“My name is Wickwood,” he answered, with a dazed look around him.

“Did you two go on shore with Angy?” inquired Dory of Sangfraw; and he
was not confident that this was a real name.

“No, we did not: we staid on board, and we have not been on shore at
all. Chuck and Mack went with Angy,” replied Sangfraw; and he looked up
into Dory’s face, as though he was seeking for some information in
regard to him.

“What was this place, this steerage, fitted up for?” asked Dory.

“For the club.”

“What did you want of ten berths?”

“Because there are ten of the members.”

“Where are the other five?”

“They were to join us up here somewhere.”

“That’s it, is it?” added Dory, glancing at the instructor.

“That’s it, exactly; and I’m a member of the club, and the cook of the
ship,” said Sangfraw, dropping his head as though the effort required to
keep it up was too great for him.

“Where does the La Motte go when she sails?” asked Dory.

“She is going to Ticonderoga after the rest of the club,” answered
Sangfraw, rousing himself. “Now, s’pose you tell me where Angy is.”




“He is safe enough,” said Dory, leading the way out of the steerage, as
he called it, into the cabin. “I fancy that these fellows don’t live
without eating, and I think a few mouthfuls would make me feel better.”

They examined the pantry, and they found an abundance of ham, cold
chicken, and other food, from which both of the captors of the schooner
made a very satisfactory breakfast. Dory found his condition very much
improved, and his energy revived, by the meal.

“This is decidedly a happy family,” said Dory, as they went on deck,
after ascertaining that both of the prisoners had dropped asleep.

“And it seems that there was to be an addition of five persons to the
family. Very likely those on board were to fill up the exchequer of the
club by their operations before the others joined them,” added the
machinist. “I wonder if this is the first robbery they have committed. I
have not had time to read the papers much this week.”

“By the great iron jingo!” exclaimed Dory, as the suggestion of his
companion stimulated his memory. “I read that two robberies had been
committed in the vicinity of Plattsburg; and the last sentence of the
paragraph was, that no clew to the burglars had been obtained. These are
the fellows!”

“Then, we had better search the vessel,” suggested Mr. Jepson.

“Let the officers do that after we have taken her to Beechwater. We
shall have enough to do to take care of these fellows; for I hope we
shall be able to take the other two, Chuck and Mack, with us as
passengers.”

“Then, you intend to follow up this matter, Dory?”

“If we don’t bag them before they ascertain that Angy has come to grief,
they will leave for parts unknown. The two on shore were actually
engaged in the robbery,” continued Dory. “There were two of them in the
office, and the third had charge of the boat. At any rate, they were all
mixed up in the affair.”

“The two on shore must have seen the boat when we came off,” suggested
the machinist.

“I think not. They went away from the shore, deceived by the hail I gave
them from a point above the inlet. In my opinion, they are still looking
for Angy in the woods, and have not seen any thing on the lake.”

“They won’t find Angy on shore.”

“And when they are tired of looking for him, they will come on board
again, if they can get on board. If they see the boat alongside of the
schooner when they come to the shore, they will at once conclude that he
has gone on board. Whether I am right, or not, I shall act on that
theory, if you approve of it,” said Dory.

“I should say that your reasoning was correct as far as it goes. But
when they see the green boat made fast to the schooner, they will want
to know why Sang and Wick have not gone ashore after them.”

“Precisely so, and we will provide for that doubt on their part. Now we
will set that reefed foresail, and run down a little nearer to the
point. The water will float this vessel a hundred feet from the shore,”
continued Dory with energy.

The foresail was hoisted, and the anchor weighed. Dory steered to a
certain part of the point, near the outer extremity of it. Both of them
kept a sharp lookout for the two robbers on the shore, but nothing was
seen or heard of them. The La Motte was run as near the shore as it was
prudent to take her; and when she was thrown up into the wind, the
machinist let go the anchor, while Dory hastened to lower the sail.

The wind was fresh, and the sea was heavy; but the schooner did not bump
on the bottom, though she was inside of a hundred feet from the shore.
Dory found the lead and line, and directed the machinist to sound over
the stern when the vessel had brought up to her cable. As he did so,
Dory let off the cable, allowing the schooner to approach still nearer
to the shore. When he secured the cable, the stern was hardly more than
fifty feet from the land.

There was a rather heavy surf rolling up on the abrupt beach, but it was
nothing compared with that in which the party had been involved at an
earlier hour in the morning. The machinist went below to look at the
prisoners, and found them fast asleep still. Probably they had been up
all night, besides being charged with beer; and they were not likely to
give their captors any trouble.

Dory had carried the painter of the tender to the stern of the schooner;
and, as it was a long rope, the boat was held half way between the
vessel and the shore. There was nothing more for the captors to do at
present; and they seated themselves under the bulwarks, where they could
not be seen from the shore, though they kept a sharp lookout in the
direction of the place where Mack and Chuck had landed.

They had been in this position for half an hour, when they discovered
the two robbers on the beach. They shouted several times to the La
Motte, but no notice was taken of them. Dory cast off the painter of the
tender, and let it drop into the water.