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HOME > Classical Novels > Bill Bolton and the Flying Fish > Chapter XIV TROUBLE AHEAD
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 “Isn’t that someone pounding the door?”  
“You tell ’em!” sleepily suggested the chief, covering his face with a pajamaed arm to shut out the morning light.
“Oh, Lord!” Bill groaned and crawled out of bed. He glanced at his wrist watch. It was exactly seven-thirty.
He unlocked the door and a steward clicked his heels together and stood at attention.
“Well?” growled Bill.
“Commander Geibel’s compliments, sir—and will the gentlemen be good enough to meet him at half past eight in the executive office for officers’ conference.”
“Right-o. Give Commander Geibel our compliments—and say we’ll be there.”
“Thank you, sir.”
Bill shut the door, and looked over at Osceola. The chief was fast asleep again. Bill went into the bathroom, where an ice-cold shower worked wonders. When he returned to the cabin after a strenuous rub with a rough towel, he carried a dripping sponge with which he scientifically massaged Osceola’s face.
“Hey there! Cut it out!” The chief sprang from his bed as though he had had an electric shock.
“What’s the huge idea?” he stormed.
“The Exec.” said Bill, “wants to see us at eight-thirty sharp. It is now seven-forty-four. And we both want breakfast, I expect. Get under a shower and you won’t feel so crabby.”
“Um!” Osceola was considerably subdued by this news. “Think he smells a rat?”
“Oh, not a chance, so far as we’re concerned. We’d be in the brig by this time if he did!”
“Good enough!” yawned Osceola, scowling furiously as he stretched the kinks out of his powerful arms.
“Hop to it, then. I’m nearly dressed—and I’m hungry enough to eat shoe-leather.”
“All right, all right—don’t lose your shirt over it. I’ll be with you in a jiffy.” The bathroom door slammed and again came the sound of rushing water as the shower was turned on.
At eight-thirty sharp the two lads found Commander Geibel seated at his desk in the Executive Office, and took their places among the other ship’s officers. There was none of the joviality which usually preambled these meetings. The Amtonia’s commissioned personnel seemed utterly mute this morning. Instead of the accustomed good-natured chaff, the various officers merely nodded to each other as they took their places and sat down. Bill noticed that all wore expressions of deep solemnity, yet the atmosphere of the cabin was charged with a current of tense excitement.
The nautical clock on the wall struck one bell. Commander Geibel, who had been studying papers on his desk blotter, came to life.
“Gentlemen—” he leaned forward, one hand on the papers before him, “I have here the report of first assistant wireless operator, Miller. Had I not seen Miller when he was first found with our beloved captain, I could not have believed this outrage possible. We, who have prided ourselves on the most efficient and strict discipline maintained on this ship, can no longer be proud. As a number of you gentlemen already know, at about one o’clock this morning, two passengers who were masked overpowered Miller in the wireless room and wrecked the premises. While these vandals were at work, the Herr Captain, Baron von Hiemskirk, entered the room, where these ruffians surprised him.”
“Pardon, sir,” interrupted the ship’s first lieutenant, Lieutenant-Commander Beerman. “It is rumored that the Herr Baron is seriously injured. Will you be good enough to ease our minds concerning the Herr Baron’s condition? I understand that he was knocked unconscious.”
“That is so, Herr Beerman. I regret to tell you gentlemen that he is still unconscious, and may continue in that state for a day or two. Doctor Thierfelder diagnoses his condition as concussion—a slight concussion only, I am thankful to say. The Herr Doctor, who is with him now, believes that Baron von Hiemskirk received a blow from a blunt instrument. Luckily, his service cap partially protected his head. With care, and no complications, our Captain will probably be able to get about again within a week.”
“May I ask,” inquired Bill, “what punishment has been meted out to the perpetrators of this dastardly crime?”
“I am sorry to say that they have not been apprehended, Lieutenant.”
“But I thought you spoke of two passengers, Herr Commander?”
“Miller states that the two men were dressed in civilian clothes. One of them at least had a revolver with which he menaced the operator, while the other bound him. As you know, every passenger, upon boarding this ship, was searched and his luggage thoroughly inspected for arms. Another search of their cabins has been made this morning. No weapons of any description have been found.”
Lieutenant Schneider caught the Commander’s attention. “I was on the bridge while this crime was being committed. During that time, I am certain that messages were radioed from the wireless room.”
“A very important fact, Herr Schneider, and one confirmed by Miller. Due to the cotton that had been placed in his ears, he was unable to decipher anything, but he is convinced that one or more messages were sent.”
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