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Authors: Franklin W. Dixon

Hide-and-Sneak (11 page)

BOOK: Hide-and-Sneak
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“Oh, man,” Andy moaned before they were even on the last flight of steps. “My dad's going to kill me.”

Frank could easily see why. The fishing trawler lay deep in the water—too deep. Its deck sloped down until it was about a quarter submerged, and they could see way too much of the rounded keel. “Must have knocked out the bilge plug,” Frank said.

The
Sleuth
hadn't been sunk, but it had been cut loose. It was drifting away from the dock, following the tide out to sea.

The jet boat was gone.

Frank made a quick decision, cutting Andy's and Hal's hands free. “Get on your boat and see if the radio is working.” He shook his head. “What a time not to bring my cell phone.”

Joe ran down the dock and jumped into the water. “I'll try to catch the
Sleuth
!” he said.

Andy and Hal made their way along the deck of their listing boat and climbed into the cabin. A moment later Andy's head reappeared. “Radio's busted.” He shook his head. “And waterlogged.”

Frank watched his brother as he cut through the water after the drifting boat. “Then it's up to Joe,” he said.

•   •   •

Joe Hardy climbed aboard the
Sleuth
and shook his dripping hair out of his face. Leaving a trail of water, he dashed over to the controls.

The front of the radio was smashed, and the microphone was gone. Whatever had been used to break up the radio had also been used to ruin the ignition.

“Great,” Joe said through gritted teeth. “So it's either ‘Good-bye,
Sleuth,
' and I swim back and let her drift, or—”

He stopped to examine the wreckage of the ignition, then traced some wires under the control panel.

This
isn't the best thing to do when
you're soaking wet,
he thought. He took a quick look around and found a towel to dry his hands. Then he got some insulated tools and got to work on the wiring. It took some time because of the extra safety precautions he had to take. In a short while, though, he managed to bare the necessary wires and touch them together. The hot-wired engines roared to life.

Joe got behind the wheel and steered the
Sleuth
back to the docks. “Buckmaster messed things up, but I got her working again,” he shouted to the others.

“The radio?” Frank demanded.

Joe just shook his head.

Frank turned to Andy and Hal. “All right, you two. Remember what you promised.”

The two boys ran up the stairs.

“What did they promise?” Joe asked.

“To call the cops at the first pay phone they reach,” Frank said.

“You think they'll actually do that?” Joe turned to Chet. “You should follow them.”

Chet stubbornly shook his head. “I got you into this whole thing in the first place. I'm sticking with you to the end.”

Joe grinned. “Then hop aboard,” he said. “We've got a jet boat to catch.”

Joe stayed behind the wheel and swung the
Sleuth
out of Shipwreck Cove and into the bay. He spotted the faintest phosphorescence in the water, the remains of a boat's wake, and set off in that direction.

Soon, Joe sighted the jet boat. But even his best steering efforts couldn't bring them any closer.

If only the wiring
hadn't been damaged,
he thought.
If we had managed to get free just a few minutes earlier . . .

Frank came up beside Joe. “We're not going to catch them, Joe.”

“No,” Joe said, with a hint of disappointment in his voice.

Frank pointed off to the left. Bright lights glared on the water. This was where the
Jolly Roger
had gone down. Several harbor police patrol craft clustered around the site. “If we could get them to help . . .”

“How?” Joe demanded. “We have no radio to call for help. Anyway, by the time we convince them, Buckmaster will be out to sea.”

“You think he's getting away?” Chet asked Joe. He turned to Frank. “Too bad you didn't include a couple of emergency rockets, Frank. With some of those, we could at least take a shot at him.”

Joe jumped as if he'd been slapped. “Rockets!” he repeated. “Frank, take the wheel!”

He went to the hatch that led to the engines, calling over his shoulder, “Chet, we've got a gas can on board. Try to find it. And get some rope.”

A few minutes later, can in hand, Joe siphoned some fuel out of the
Sleuth
's tank into the container. Chet had tied one end of the rope to a cleat at the rear of the boat. Now he was tying the other end around the handle of the can. Joe rummaged in a locker, looking for one more thing.

“Here it is,” he said, opening a heavy-duty plastic case. Inside were a flare gun and an emergency flare. “One rocket, coming up!” He broke the gun open, put in the flare, and snapped it shut. “Okay, Chet, let her go.”

Chet threw the fuel can into the
Sleuth
's wake. The rope went taut. Now the can was bouncing along behind them like a tiny water-skier.

Joe rested the flare gun on the stern of the boat. “Wish me luck,” he said. “We get only one shot.”

17 Naval Maneuvers

The flare gun bucked in Joe's hand as he pulled the trigger. Like a bolt of searing brilliance, the burning flare whizzed across the water just like the rocket Chet had wished for.

It hit the can dead on. The flash was pretty impressive, the noise was even better, and the burning trail stretching behind them was the icing on the cake.

As if in response, sirens suddenly whooped, and the harbor police boats roared into action.

The patrol craft quickly caught up with the boys' boat. “Heave to!” an amplified voice ordered. “I repeat, heave to!”

The face over the bullhorn was familiar: Officer Nelson, surely redder in the face than ever.

Joe shook his head, pointing ahead to the almost invisible jet boat. “No—over there!” he yelled.

“What?”

Shouting himself hoarse, Joe managed to get across the fact that there was probably a fugitive in a stolen boat up ahead.

There was a moment's silence. Then Nelson said, “If this is part of your stupid film . . .”

Just then, two of the patrol boats roared past. One stayed with the
Sleuth.
“Just in case we're lying,” Chet said with a smirk. Officer Nelson shouted something incoherent into his radio.

The
Sleuth
fell farther and farther behind the chase. But the boys were able to see a police helicopter come clattering out of the sky and throw a spotlight on the fleeing jet boat.

The jet boat was still in the lead as the
Sleuth
reached the mouth of the bay. Just in time, a coast guard cutter appeared from behind Merriam Island, cutting the jet boat off from the sea.

Buckmaster might have been fearless in the stock market, but with all that firepower converging on him, he gave up without a fight.

Another harbor patrolman aimed a bullhorn at the
Sleuth.
“We've got Buckmaster and a woman.
Change course for the Bayport Marina. We'll need statements from you.”

•   •   •

The boys arrived at the marina just as Sara Buckmaster was taking her first shaky steps on the pier.

“Well, you got him,” Joe told her.

Sara rolled her eyes. “Doesn't look as though I'll see much money out of it.” Her expression became thoughtful. “Unless there's a reward for helping recover some of the stolen assets . . .”

Frank spoke up. “I've been talking to one of the officers.” He lowered his voice. “They were all ready to throw the book at us when a call came in reporting the theft of the jet boat.”

“So Andy came through,” Chet said.

Frank nodded. “And because of that, well, I thought maybe we could cut him some slack.” He smiled. “Buckmaster gave that kid a pretty stern lesson.”

“Not to mention his having his dad's boat sunk,” Chet added.

The police whisked Sara and Buckmaster away. They took the boys' statements right on the pier. The marina was soon quiet again, except for the eerie clanging of riggings against the aluminum masts.

When the questioning was over, Joe, Frank, and Chet walked along the pier toward dry land. Joe
noticed his pal's shoulders had begun to droop. “What's the matter, Chet?”

Chet sighed. “I broke my neck to get into this movie thing.”

“And ours too,” Joe added, jabbing Chet in the ribs.

“It was an adventure,” Frank said.

“Yeah, but the best stuff I did was never caught on camera!”

Joe had to admit Chet had a point. He'd staged a daring rescue, found the knife that freed them, and cut Frank loose, and his rocket comment sparked the plan that got the attention of the harbor police. But Sprock Kerwin hadn't been around to record any of it.

“I think Sprock, Melody, and Zack will be even more bummed than you are,” Frank said. “Not only did they miss a thrilling climax for their film, but their whole project has turned out to be a scam worthy of a Hitchcock mystery movie.”


Hide-and-Sneak
is totally dead in the water,” Joe said. “Andy's boat is ruined, and Willow's jet boat is in police custody.”

“And the
Sleuth
will be laid up for repairs for a while,” Frank added.

At the end of the pier Joe noticed a newspaper vending machine. “Hey, look,” he said, “the new
issue of the
Bayport Alternative
is out.”

He got a copy of the paper and opened it. “I see the little theater group is looking for actors. They're doing
South Pacific
. Sailors, nurses—and you don't have to bring your own boat.”

Chet looked at the article, then closed the paper. “I don't know . . .”

“What?” Joe said. “By tomorrow you'll be a local hero!”

“Yeah, who became one by sailing on the bay,” Frank said.

“You'll be sure to get a part,” Joe said.

“You think so?” Chet's eyes began to gleam. “Hey, I've got an idea! Let's all try out!”

The Hardys exchanged a swift look. “Nope, sorry.” Joe shook his head. “I'm all acted out.”

“Me too.” Frank smiled at Chet. “Besides, if you're going to be a star, it's best to shine alone. Right?”

“Yeah,” Joe said as they walked toward a phone booth to call home. “That's show biz.”

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