“Which proves that they have something to do with it,” Bess added.
Again the other boat pulled alongside the Pirate. “You kids think I’m fooling!” the skipper shouted, “I’m not. If you don’t turn around instantly, your boat is gonna get rammed. And it’ll cost you a pretty penny to have it repaired!”
“But we’re leaving the island,” Danny pointed out. “Just as you told us to!”
“You’re going in the wrong direction. Turn back!”
Danny hesitated. He realized that this rime their pursuers meant business. Before he had a chance to pull the wheel around, The Whisper came so close to their skiff that it scraped the bow.
“All right! All right!” Danny cried out, “We’re leaving. You don’t have to damage us.”
The skipper chuckled evilly. “And don’t ever come back. You hear!”
Bess had turned white and sat frozen in her chair, her hands clamped tightly around its edge. Nancy and George realized that the situation was critical and did not object to Danny’s pulling away in the direction the men had indicated.
The Whisper followed them for a while, then turned off. Obviously the men were satisfied that they had chased the intruders away.
“Wow!” Bess said finally. “I don’t want to see those people ever again!”
Nancy grinned. “I do. They’re up to no good, and I’m planning to find out what it is.”
As the Pirate headed toward Key Biscayne, George said, “I wonder who those guys arc. Let’s stop at the Coast Guard office and see in whose name The Whisper is registered.”
“We don’t have to do that,” Danny said. “My dad has a book containing all the information. Unless it’s a brand-new entry, it should be in there.”
“I wish we could fee sure that we saw a periscope,” Nancy said, still pondering their strange experience.
“How do periscopes work?” Bess asked.
“Oh, I know that because we just had it in school,” Danny volunteered. “You see, the periscope is the eye of the underwater craft. A submarine builder by the name of Simon Lake invented the first good periscope, which was way ahead of the technology and science of his time. He bought a lot of lenses and began to experiment.”
“Not too complicated!” George said.
“Maybe not, but one day he hit upon a lucky combination. He could look down the street and see people walking and wagons rolling through the harbor. He called it an omniscope. It offered enough magnification and clearness of optics even for night vision, so it was a big success.”
“How long ago was that?” George asked.
“Nineteen hundred two,” Danny told her. “Before that they just had makeshift equipment.”
As soon as they arrived at the Cosgrove house, Danny went to get the boat registry. It was large and heavy. He put it on the dining-room table. The girls peered over his shoulder as he checked “W” for Whisper.
“Ah. Here it is,” he said triumphantly. “It belongs to two men, Matt Carmen and Breck Tobin. They live in Bridgeport, Connecticut.”
“Do you know who they are?” Nancy asked.
“No. Never heard of them. I wonder what they’re doing down here. They’re a long way from home.”
“I’m sure they’re in league with the men who run the Crocodile Ecology Company,” Nancy said.
“Maybe they’re supposed to guard the place,” George spoke up. “They got rid of us in a hurry!”
“I hope they don’t check up on who owns the Pirate and then come here and bother us!” Bess said, worried.
Danny insisted upon being cheerful about the whole affair. “We may be boxed in, but we’re not going to let those guys get the better of us!” he vowed.
Nancy smiled. “That’s the spirit! The question is, what are we going to do next?”
When Mr. Cosgrove returned home, the young people told him what had happened and asked his opinion on the case. He thought for a few moments, then said, “Frankly, I’m puzzled. We now have a list of suspicious people, but we still have no idea of what they’re up to.”
“Or how the periscope fits in,” Nancy added.
Mr. Cosgrove smiled. “Are you sure you weren’t looking at a marker for a buoy?”