“But we haven’t solved anything yet,” Nancy reminded him. She turned to George. “Did you ask Captain Smith about the periscope?”
“Oh dear, I didn’t even think of that,” George said. “But we can go back another time and inquire if he’s ever heard of a sub around here.”
Nancy wanted to go out in the skiff the following day, but Mr. Cosgrove said that he had had the craft out in the morning and found that it had been tampered with.
“It was lucky I discovered the damage before you used the Pirate again. You might have had a bad accident.”
Nancy exclaimed, “You say it has been sabotaged? I’m afraid our enemies have been at work!”
The others agreed. Mrs. Cosgrove was worried. “This could mean that we’re all being watched by spies. I think you should stay away from Crocodile Island for a while.”
George grimaced. “At least until the Pirate is repaired.”
“Meanwhile, why don’t you visit Cape Florida?” their hostess suggested. “It’s a lovely place. Beautiful trees and a nice beach. People go there for picnics. The main attraction is an old lighthouse. A guide will show you around and tell you something about its history.”
“That sounds great,” Bess said. “I could use a change of pace.”
The girls got directions and set off early the next morning in one of the Cosgrove cars. Nancy, at the wheel, drove across the bridge leading to Cape Florida, and turned into the park entrance.
“Look at those gorgeous trees!” Bess exclaimed as they rode down an avenue of tall Australian pines.
“I’ve read in a magazine that these aren’t native to Florida,” Nancy said. “They were imported.”
The road twisted and turned; then they came to a shaded picnic area with a large sandy beach.
“This is a heavenly spot,” Bess remarked. “No wonder it’s so popular.”
Many people were seated oft the beach, while others had settled at picnic tables set up in a grove of trees. Nancy parked and the girls strolled toward the water.
To their right was a natural coral breakwater, which had been built up by polyps. It was very rough and Nancy realized at once that anyone slammed into it by waves could be badly cut. She noticed that bathers seemed to be avoiding it.
“What a lot of seaweed there is!” George remarked.
She picked up handfuls of it and rolled the soggy masses into a ball, “Let’s play catch,” she suggested.
The girls formed a triangle and threw the seaweed ball back and forth to one another. Whoever dropped it was eliminated from the game. After about ten minutes of play George was declared the winner.
To tease her, Bess picked up the ball and threw it hard at her cousin. Unfortunately it missed and sailed across the sand. The soggy mass landed plunk! on a bald-headed bather who was stretched out on the beach, sleeping.
“Oh!” Bess cried in dismay and went over to the man.
He blinked at her and looked annoyed, but after she apologized and he saw the look of concern on her face, he sat up and smiled. “Hi!” he said. “My, you’re pretty!”
Bess backed away. “He’s old and fat and bald-headed,” she told herself. “I hope he won’t try to get too friendly!”
Her fears were confirmed when the man stood up and took her hand. “I believe you threw that seaweed on purpose to wake me up. Well, here I am, at your service!”
“I—I—it was an accident,” Bess stammered. Then she turned away and ran off as fast as she could. When she reached Nancy and George, they laughed.
“That’ll teach you to aim straight when you throw something,” George remarked.
Nancy, who had been watching various bathers in the water, now spotted a little girl who had not noticed that the tide was pulling her toward the coral breakwater. She realized that at any moment the child would be bashed against its jagged side and severely injured!
Nancy rushed down to the water’s edge, slipped off her sandals, and splashed in. The water was shallow for adults, but the little girl could have drowned in it. Nancy swam with powerful crawl strokes toward her. By now the child was only a few feet from the breakwater!