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HOME > Classical Novels > Bill Bolton and the Flying Fish > Chapter XVI PRISONERS
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 The seamen closed in about Bill and Osceola and they were marched off, walking side by side.  
“Our noble Captain has evidently waked up,” said Bill in an undertone to his friend. “Here’s where we catch it, good and plenty!”
“You think then that he did recognize us last night?” Osceola’s voice was lowered to a whisper.
Bill nodded. “One or both of us. We can’t deny it, you know. He’d only make it the worse for those innocent suspects Geibel was talking about.”
“What do you suppose he’ll do?”
“Shoot us—very likely.”
“But, Bill—”
Lieutenant Brinkerhoff’s acid voice cut him short. “My orders are that you gentlemen will refrain from all conversation. You will be good enough to obey.”
Bill shrugged and Osceola nodded his acceptance of this dictum. They moved forward in silence.
With the ramrod form of Brinkerhoff leading the way, the little procession filed along the decks until they reached the captain’s cabin. Here the lieutenant knocked, then entered, closing the door.
Presently he reappeared and beckoned them inside. Bill noted that two of the armed seamen followed them over the threshold. Apparently the wounded captain was taking no chances of further assault.
They found Baron von Hiemskirk propped up in bed with a pile of pillows at his back. Around his head was a linen bandage. He looked pale and ill and seemed to be in some pain. Seated beside the bed Commander Geibel watched him devotedly, and at the foot stood the ship’s doctor.
At a sign from Brinkerhoff, the lads approached the sick man. He opened his eyes and looked at them with a keen, appraising glance.
“So—my young friends,” he sneered. “You couldn’t leave well enough alone, but must try to interfere with the excellent routine of my ship, eh?”
“When you captured us last Monday,” said Bill, “and we had our chat aboard the Merrymaid, I warned you that we would do our best to make things hot for you and your crew if you insisted upon our working for you. I believe you understood my warning. At that time you said that your system was perfect. And that we were at liberty to do what we could to disrupt it so long as we attended to the duties given us.”
“Ah! So you do not deny wrecking the ship’s wireless last night, and sending messages to enemy warships? Not to mention your attack upon my person—and the vast amount of trouble your disgraceful conduct has caused my officers and crew today?”
“No, we do not deny it,” Bill asserted steadily. “Chief Osceola and I did exactly what you describe. But believe me when I say that it was no part of our plan that you should be injured. You have been courteous to us on board here. We both regret your—accident.”
“Thank you. But that does not alter the rest of it.”
“No. My duty as an officer of the United States Navy is to break up your pirate organization by any means in my power.”
“And my duty, as Captain of this ship, is to have you both executed for mutiny. You are aware of that, of course?”
“I want to tell you, Baron,” Bill continued earnestly. “That I alone am to blame. It was my plan and only mine. Chief Osceola worked under my orders throughout.”
Osceola took a step forward. “Oh, cut out all this formality!” His dark eyes flashed, first on the Baron and then on Bill. “And don’t you try taking all the blame yourself. I’m just as guilty as you are. What’s more, you know right well that if I’d had my way I’d have thrown that Hun welcher over the rail instead of bothering to tie him up!”
“Be quiet, Osceola,” warned his friend. “I’m running our end of this show.”
“Not now, you’re not—by a darn sight, Bill! I’ve got a few words to say to the captain myself. Baron von Hiemskirk,” he turned to the big man on the bed, “do you realize that if you have us murdered, you put a rope around your own neck and the necks of every one of your officers and crew?”
“One has to catch his fish before eating it,” said von Hiemskirk.
“True. And every warship on the Atlantic has a description of this particular fish by now. Are you egotist enough to believe that you can buck the Naval forces of the world and get away with it? Don’t tell me that you, who have made an enemy of all society by your racketeering and piracy, spare crews and passengers of captured ships through any motive of kindness! You are afraid to send them to the bottom. Why? Because, Herr Baron von Bluff, you are afraid to kill them! You know the penalty for murder—you have funked it every time.”
“Ah! But not this time, young man. Secrets have a way of leaking out aboard ship, I admit. But in your case we shall take no chances whatever. In a day or two, you will be removed from the Amtonia and disappear completely and effectually, far from the haunts of men.”
“If,” said Bill, “you think you will be any safer in the state of Maine than you are on the high seas—”
The Baron started up in bed. “And what do you know about the state of Maine?” he thundered, visibly perturbed.
“Only what I broadcasted last night,” grinned Bill. “As you remarked just now, ‘secrets have a way of leaking out on shipboard.’ You have implicit confidence in your officers and crew of course. Did it never occur to you that there might be a traitor amongst your devoted band?”
“Away with them!” shouted the Baron, now thoroughly angry.
“Just one moment—may I say a few words?”
The Baron was the type of bully who loves to see a victim cringe. From the young Seminole............
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