Dick Hamilton's Steam Yacht/Chapter 23

CHAPTER XXIII


DICK ON THE TRAIL


The Santiago papers, the next day, contained a full account of the bold kidnapping, and, with fervid language, described how the scoundrels had spirited the Cuban youth away from under the very noses of the police. Strong and vigorous action was called for, and it was suggested that a reward be offered. There had been too many cases of late, the gazettes stated, where youths had been taken away, and held for ransom.

In this case the object of the kidnappers was likely to fail, the papers stated, as the victim was the son of a poor man—Senor Alantrez—who would be unable to pay any money. Senor Alantrez was a clerk in the government employ, and he and his son were worthy persons, it was said.

"Well, I call that a shame!" exclaimed Dick to his chums, as, seated on the deck of his handsome yacht, he was reading aloud to them the account of the outrage. "The police here ought to get busy, for a fact."

"Is that all there is to it?" asked Beeby.

"No," answered the young millionaire. "There's more. It goes on to say that it is believed that the boy was taken off in the yacht—hello! what's this? Why, fellows, it says that he was taken off in the yacht Princess, which recently came here from New York. There was something mysterious about the craft, it states. Mysterious! I should say so. Why, I'll wager a good bit that this is the same yacht they tried to get me aboard of, to rob me!"

"You're right," exclaimed Widdy, who was stumping about the deck, near the boys. "That's her name, Mr. Dick."

"But it might not be the same one," suggested Paul.

"Wait until I read a bit further," said Dick. "Yes," he went on, "it says that men from the yacht were seen in several places about town yesterday and last night. And the description of them tallies with those two men who followed me about in New York."

"You don't think they tried to kidnap you, do you?" asked Henry Darby.

"Not a bit of it," answered the young millionaire. "I think they were just ordinary thieves, but I also think that they might attempt a more desperate game down here. Probably they are the same fellows, who took a trip in their yacht to see what luck they would have in Cuba. Then they decided to try kidnapping, as the paper states there have been several cases of it lately. Only they happened to get the wrong lad—one with no money—instead of a rich chap."

"Yes, they would have done better to have picked up you," remarked Frank Bender. "But, when they find out their mistake, they'll let this Pedro Alantrez go, I guess."

"Sure," agreed Dick, "and it will be a good joke on them. I hope they are caught and punished."

They discussed the kidnapping further, wondering if it would be of any service to the police for Dick to tell what he suspected of the men—namely, that they had followed him in New York.

"i think I would," suggested Beeby. "I'll go ashore with you, and we'll call on the police. We'll tell 'em what you know, and I can get some good snapshots of the officers, maybe."

"Oh, you and your snapshots!" exclaimed Dick, good-naturedly. "You'll be taking your own picture next, Beeby. But I think your proposition is a good one. Fellows, let's go ashore. Widdy, have the launch gotten ready; will you?"

"Aye, aye, sir," answered the wooden-legged sailor, and soon the young millionaire and his chums were scudding toward the landing dock.

While the others rode about the city in carriages which Dick hired, the young yacht owner and Beeby were driven to the office of the chief of police. Dick's reputation as a master of money had preceded him, and he was ushered into the private room with no little ceremony. He told his suspicions of the men who had taken part in the kidnapping, and received the thanks of the official, who said he would communicate with the police of New York, toward which city the scoundrels were undoubtedly bound.

As Dick came out of the chief's private room he saw, standing at the desk of one of the lieutenants of police, a man who seemed greatly affected. He was evidently under some poignant grief or sorrow.

"And you say there is no news?" he asked in Spanish, which language Dick understood slightly. "They have taken my boy out to sea! Oh, my poor son! Why can not a boat be had to follow the scoundrels?"

"Because there is no boat available," answered the lieutenant. "We would gladly accommodate you, Senor Alantrez, but it is impossible."

"That is the father of the boy who was kidnapped," said the chief, in a low tone to Dick. "He will be glad to meet you, and to know that you have given us some information that may prove valuable. Come, if you like; I will present him to you, Senor Hamilton."

"Very well," assented Dick, and he was shortly shaking hands with the grief-stricken parent.

"Do you think there is any chance of catching the villains?" asked Senor Alantrez of Dick, in fairly good English. The man seemed nervous and anxious for some one to give him hope.

"Yes, I think they'll get them," declared the young millionaire. "When those men find out that your son is not—er—not as—" Dick hesitated. He did not wish to embarrass the father by referring to him as poor.

"Do not be afraid to speak it, senor," said Mr. Alantrez, with a sad smile. "Poverty and I have been close friends, of late, though we were not always such. I am poor, and I am glad, for now the scoundrels may the sooner return my son to me. If there was but a fast boat to be had, we would give chase to them. But there is none to be secured without much money, and I, alas, have none. So I must wait; but it is hard! My poor boy!"

Dick's face shone with a sudden light, and his eyes brightened. He took a step forward.

"Would you like to get a boat, and take a cruise after those men who have your son?" he asked.

"Ah, senor, it would give me the utmost happiness! But why ask me? I can get no boat."

"Yes, you can," cried the young millionaire. "I wonder I didn't think of it before. My yacht, the Albatross, is at your disposal, Senor Alantrez! If you will be my guest we'll get up steam at once, and trail after those villains! I'd ask nothing better than to run them down!" and Dick's eyes sparkled with righteous anger. "They tried to injure me, and I'd be glad of a chance to get back at them. Come, senor, we'll start at once, if you are ready, and I think we can overtake the Princess, though she has a good start."

"OK, I can never thank you enough, senor!" cried the father, seizing Dick's hand, and attempting, in his warm, Spanish way, to kiss it, only the lad drew it quickly away. "I am your debtor for life!" he cried.

"Wait until we see if we catch those fellows," spoke Dick, as he led the way from the police station, followed by Senor Alantrez, and Beeby, who had been busy taking several snapshots.

The chief of police and his lieutenant shrugged their shoulders.

"These Americanos!" murmured the chief. "They are always in such a hurry. To-morrow would have done as well."

But Dick, hurrying toward his yacht, with the now hopeful father, waited for no to-morrows. He was going to get on the trail at once.