He cautiously peered around the rocky opening and saw the small interior. The walls were jagged and arranged in a moon-shaped pattern, but there was no cement or any other indication that the cave was man-made.
“It’s empty,” Burt reported. “Anyway, it’s not much of a hiding place.”
George looked inside. “Isn’t that coral fascinating?” she said. “Think of the millions of tiny polyps climbing up and dying to form layer after layer of coral.”
“Yes,” Burt said. “But don’t get sidetracked. Never mind the coral now. Let’s look for those missing men.”
The couple went deeper into the jungle. Rabbits and raccoons scurried away from them. Suddenly the stillness was broken by a loud noise. Something was crashing through the underbrush ahead of them. George wondered if it was an animal. Then they heard human voices.
“They may be the suspects!” Burt whispered. “Come on!”
All this time Nancy and Ned were searching along the waterfront, thinking the men might have hidden a second boat among the mangroves and would try to reach it. Suddenly Nancy stopped short.
“Look!” she said, pointing to a periscope out in the green waterway.
“It’s moving in the direction of the island!” Ned said, excited. “Maybe it’ll dock here!”
“Let’s return to the pier,” Nancy suggested.
She and Ned quickly made their way back, careful to remain shielded by trees at all times. Just before they reached the open areas, the submarine surfaced! It slid in noiselessly. The hatch opened, and two men appeared. They jumped to the dock and disappeared in the direction of the main building.
Nancy and Ned wondered if the men were aware of the recent events on the island. Obviously they were not worried about being seen. Or were they just desperate?
Nancy decided on a bold move. “Ned, are you game to go aboard and hide?”
“Wait just a second,” Nancy said. She plucked a leaf from a trailing sea-grape bush. Next she picked up a small sturdy stick and scratched out the words, “Going aboard. Couple one.”
She jabbed the leaf onto a tree twig and beckoned Ned to follow her. Quickly the two went to the open hatch and climbed down the iron ladder.
“Where can we hide?” Ned asked, looking around.
Nancy pointed to the upright lockers and opened one. It contained a coiled rope similar to the one she had seen on the sub in Key West.
Ned checked the adjoining locker. Behind some clothes, many boxes were stacked neatly from the floor to the ceiling. Each one was stamped High Speed Cameras. Bridgeport, Ct.
“That’s a lot of cameras for a few guys,” Ned remarked.
“Right,” Nancy said, now suspicious. “Open the next locker.”
Ned did, and found similar boxes concealed behind raingear. Further search revealed guns, grenades, and explosives in each locker! Ned shook his head in disbelief, and Nancy’s eyes were wide with amazement.
“Ned!” she exclaimed, “Now I know what the secret of Crocodile Island is! Gimler and Sacco are taking expensive high-speed cameras out of the U.S. They’re smuggling them to someplace, maybe Mexico!”
As the two hurried back to the ladder, Ned put a hand on Nancy’s shoulder. “You’re right. And this means we’re in great danger. We’d better get out of here before—”
Just then they heard voices. Two men were conversing rapidly and walking toward Nancy and Ned. The couple, who did not want to be seen, scooted into the first two lockers. She hid behind coiled ropes. Ned managed to squeeze in back of the raingear and stood next to the boxes of cameras.
They left the doors slightly ajar so they could see who was coming. The two men they had seen leave the sub, reentered it. Quickly one of them turned a handle, which slowly closed the hatch. The other man rotated a wheel that retracted the periscope. Then he started the engine and the sub moved away.
Nancy and Ned held their breath, wondering what would happen next. The man at the wheel suddenly laughed. He said confidently, “We pulled that one off all right. No more bothering with Gimler and Sacco! Next stop Mexico!
“Mexico!” Nancy thought.