A SELFISH VIEW OF AN IMPORTANT QUESTION.

Mr. Fred Ripples was evidently a wild young man, but he looked indignant
enough to be honest when charged with being a defender of the
pirate-schooner. Dory knew that he had not been with the original party,
and had come on board of the vessel since the robbery of the office had
been committed.

“I don’t think I understand you any better than you understand me,” said
Dory, when it occurred to him that Ripples might be an honest young man,
even if he did drink beer.

“Do you understand it, Mack?” asked Ripples, turning to his
fellow-prisoner at his side.

“Don’t ask me any thing about it, Fred,” replied Mack, in a tone of
disgust. “Some of us are in a bad scrape, and I shall not say a word to
any one.”

“I don’t understand you any better than I do this other fellow,”
continued Ripples. “If I am in a bad scrape, I don’t know it.”

Mack refused to say another word, and evidently did not mean to commit
himself. By this time, Dory had become not a little impressed by the
manner of Ripples, and by the refusal of Mack to speak. He removed the
line which bound the former to the rail, and led him to the
quarter-deck, where he seated him on the companion. Then he took the
tiller.

“I should really like to know what you mean by what you have said and
done,” said Ripples.

“Are you not a member of the Nautifelers Club?” asked Dory.

“Without a doubt, I am; and the Club was formed for this excursion
during the summer. We joined the vessel this morning, and Mack said you
were trying to get the schooner away from the Club when you fastened us
all below. That’s all I know about this business,” added Ripples.

“If you don’t know any thing more, I am glad of it.”

“I haven’t the least idea what Mack means when he says he is in a bad
scrape,” he continued.

“He told you the truth; and he will probably get some years in the State
prison for his share in the operations of last night.”

“Is that so?” asked Ripples, apparently appalled at the intelligence.
“Can you tell me what has become of Angy? None of these fellows seem to
know.”

“They don’t know, and I shall not tell you just yet; though he is in
just as bad a scrape as Mack. When was this club formed?” asked Dory.

“About a month ago. Angy was the leading spirit in getting it up. He
said the rich fellows would find the money to pay the bills, and we
should have a first-class time for two or three months on the lake. I
put in fifty dollars to start the thing, and three or four of the
fellows did the same.”

“But how happened you to be separated from the others?” asked the
skipper.

“Angy did not want the whole of us to come at first.”

“Why not?” asked Dory, who was beginning to see through the business.

“I don’t know. He said the vessel would not be ready, and he would write
to us when she was fit to take us on board. He did write to us the other
day, and told us to come to Ticonderoga yesterday, and then to come on
to Westport if the La Motte was not there.”

“You did not find her there?”

“No; and we were called at three o’clock this morning, and came to
Westport. Our fellows were all as mad as hops when they did not find the
schooner there. It was a horrible storm in the night, and I suppose that
was the reason she was not there. A young fellow in a handsome little
steamer came near the shore where we were waiting, and I hailed her.
After some teasing, he consented to take us down the lake. When we saw
the La Motte, we asked him to put us ashore on that point, which he
did.”

“How did you know it was the La Motte when you saw her?” asked Dory.

“By that signal,” replied Ripples, pointing to what looked like a red
handkerchief in the main rigging. “Angy told me that would be his
signal.”

“Did you tell the young fellow in the small steamer that you were
looking for the La Motte?”

“For some reason, which he did not explain in his letter, Angy told us
not to mention the name of the vessel, or to say any thing about her,”
replied Ripples. “We told the young man, who appeared to be in command
of the steamer,–I believe she was called the Marian,–that we were
going to camp out on Camp-Meeting Point; for we had all studied the
charts of the lake.”

“Did all the members of the club pay fifty dollars?” inquired Dory.

“No, indeed! Not more than four of them did it; and Angy wrote me, a
week ago, that the money was all gone.”

“Did he ask for more?”

“He did not. He said he would raise the money; though I could not see
where he was to get it, for his father is a poor man now. But all the
fellows that came up with me have from fifty to a hundred dollars
apiece. Angy must be short of cash by this time.”

“I think he has made some money since he reached the lake,” added the
skipper quietly.

“How could he make any money?” demanded Ripples, surprised at the idea.

“By breaking open safes; and he did a job of that kind last night.”

“Angy!” exclaimed Ripples, with a start.

“Angy and Mack did it together, while Chuck took care of the boat, and
the other two fellows remained on board of the La Motte.”

“You don’t mean so! Angy and Mack broke open a safe!”

“Blowed it open.”

“All I have to say about it is, that I had nothing to do with the
robbery, and did not have any suspicion that Angy meant to do such a
thing,” protested Ripples very warmly. “And the fellows that came with
me are as innocent as I am.”

“Angy got over two thousand dollars from a safe last night, though the
money was taken from him after he was captured. He is in the lock-up by
this time, and the rest of these fellows will soon be there; that is,
the five that were in the schooner last night.”

“What is that steamer?” asked Ripples, as the Sylph came near the La
Motte.

“Probably there are officers on board of her, who will take charge of
Mack and the rest of the five. My uncle owns her; and I will tell him
about you,” added Dory, as he brought the schooner to, at a signal from
the pilot-house of the Sylph.

The quarter-boat was lowered into the water, and the two officers on
board of her were soon placed on the deck of the schooner. It was too
rough for the principal to attempt to do any thing more; and one of the
officers gave a message to Dory, instructing him to take the vessel to
the school. The La Motte filled away again, and the Sylph followed her.

“What have you got here, Dory?” asked Mr. Bushby, the deputy-sheriff,
pointing at the prisoner fastened to the rail.

“We have nine in all. The other seven are fastened into the hold and
cabin. But five of them had nothing to do with the robbery, and didn’t
know any thing about it. They did not come on board of the schooner till
about an hour ago; though they tried to break out of the cabin when we
fastened them in,” replied Dory.

“You have had a regular circus of it, and your uncle was afraid you
would get hurt;” added Mr. Bushby.

“We have been in a sort of conflict all the time, but no one on our side
has been hurt; though I think some of the prisoners have sore fingers.”

“Of course, these fellows were provided with pistols,” suggested the
officer.

“The chief had one, and he snapped it in my face, though it did not go
off; but I have not seen a revolver or any other dangerous weapon in the
hands of any other member of the party, though I believe this prisoner
has one.”

“You say you have fastened them into the cabin?” queried Mr. Bushby.

“I will tell you all about it;” and Dory proceeded to do so.

Before he had finished his narrative, the La Motte had entered the
river. The Sylph came up within hailing-distance of her, and directed
her to come to under the lee of the shore. As she did so, the steamer
came alongside of her; and Captain Gildrock directed the captain to have
the two vessels lashed together.

The principal had a smile on his face when he came on the deck of the
schooner, though he did not abate one jot of his dignity. Dory did not
expect to be censured, but he did not like the looks of that smile; and
he was sure that it had been put on for his benefit. It was an
indication that his uncle did not fully approve what he had done, though
he would not condemn him till he knew all the facts in the case. He knew
that Captain Gildrock never encouraged any thing like knight-errantry in
the students. He liked manly boys, but he did not believe that they
should be any older than their years would allow.

The sails of the schooner were lowered; and the Sylph went ahead, towing
her up the river. The principal spoke very kindly to Dory, but the smile
still played upon his face. He hardly looked at the prisoners on deck,
and seated himself on the rail. At his request, Dory gave a minute
account of every thing that happened since he heard the explosion early
in the morning.

His uncle listened with deep interest, and occasionally asked a
question. Once or twice they were disturbed by the racket made by the
prisoners in the cabin. Possibly they had tapped another keg of beer,
but nothing indicated that they were aware of the state of things on
deck.

“I am not going to blame or condemn you for what you have done, Dory;
but I wish you had come home when Mr. Brookbine did,” said Captain
Gildrock, with the smile somewhat intensified, when his nephew had
finished his narrative, and the two vessels were just going into
Beechwater. “And I should have liked it still better if you had kept
entirely away from the robbers. You have endangered your life, and
frightened your mother almost out of her wits.”

“I thought I ought to do something, and I did the best I could,” replied
Dory. “You have got back all the money that was stolen; and all the
robbers have been captured, and handed over to the officers.”

“As a boy of seventeen, you have conducted your pursuit with remarkable
skill; you have been courageous beyond your years; you have been
persistent and persevering to a degree that could hardly have been
expected of many men of mature age. I appreciate your skill, courage,
and perseverance; and still, I wish you had not done these things,
though they will add greatly to your reputation.”

“Then, I ought to have turned in after the explosion, and let these
fellows do the same thing over again in some other place?” added Dory,
with a cheerful smile, for he did not consider himself at all damaged by
what his uncle had said.

“The reason why I wish you had not done these things is a purely selfish
one,–simply because you exposed yourself to a very great peril. If that
revolver had not missed fire, you might have been killed.”

“If one of the fellows fall overboard, I am to let him drown because my
mother will be frightened, or because I take the risk of drowning
myself,” said Dory, laughing now.

His uncle bit his lip, and Dory felt that he had the best of the
argument. At any rate, the uncle did not think it wise to say any thing
more about the matter; and the schooner was made fast to the wharf. The
Goldwing landed her crew a little later.