Read CHAPTER XXIII - BUMSTEAD ESCAPES of The Boy Pilot of the Lakes, Nat Morton's Perils, free online book, by Frank V. Webster, on ReadCentral.com.

When Nat found himself in the train, speeding toward Cove Point, he had a chance to think how he should proceed after he arrived.  He anticipated no difficulty in getting a policeman to go to the boat and arrest the mate.

“Maybe Sam Shaw will want to take a hand, and fight me,” thought Nat.  “Well, if he does, I’ll give him all that’s coming to him.”

The train was a slow one, and made a number of stops.  When about half way on the journey there was a delay, caused by the wreck of a freight train, and it was nearly three o’clock when Nat arrived at the railroad station in Cove Point.  This was a small town, depending for its existence on what traffic passed up and down the lake, and what little patronage came to it over the railroad.

“Where’s the police station?” asked Nat of a sleepy man at the depot.

“They don’t allow tramps to sleep in it any more,” was the rather queer answer.

“Tramps?  Who asked anything about tramps?” replied Nat.  “I don’t want to sleep there.”

“Oh, excuse me,” said the agent, opening his sleepy eyes a bit wider.  “I didn’t take a good look at you.  I thought you were a tramp.  Lots of ’em come in on our trains, and want to spend the night at the police station.  They’d let themselves be arrested because the sheriff used to get so much a prisoner.  But the county authorities put a stop to it.  What’s the matter?  Some one rob you?”

“No,” replied Nat, determined to keep his affairs to himself.

“Some crime been committed?” persisted the agent, for he thought it was rather unusual for a boy to be asking his way to the police station at three o’clock in the morning.

“I want to see a policeman,” replied Nat, “and I thought the best place would be the station house.”

“There used to be a policeman stationed here nights,” went on the agent.  “But he’s gone now.  If it was anything about the railroad I could attend to it for you.”

“No, thank you.  If you’ll tell me where the station house is, I’ll be much obliged.”

The agent seemed disappointed, but he gave Nat the directions.

“I don’t see what harm it would have done him to have told me,” murmured the man, when Nat had gone off down the dark street.  “It would help to keep me awake, if I had something like a crime or an arrest to think about.  Well, I might as well doze off; it’ll be two hours before the down freight is in,” and he composed himself as comfortably as he could in his chair in the telegraph office.

Meanwhile, our hero managed to find the police station.  Inside there was a sergeant on duty, who looked up inquiringly as Nat entered.

“Well?” he asked.

“I have a warrant for a man’s arrest.”

“Are you a detective from some other city?  Where’s your badge?” asked the sergeant suspiciously.

“No, I’m not a detective.  I’m the person who made the complaint on which this warrant was issued,” and Nat showed the one which had been returned by Mr. Scanlon.

The sergeant seemed impressed by the boy’s business-like manner.

“Come inside,” he invited, opening a gate in a railing that shut off the part of the room behind the desk.  “Now tell me about it.”

Nat told his tale as briefly as possible.

“And you want me to send an officer out to the ship with you, and arrest the mate?” inquired the sergeant when the young pilot had finished.

“If you will.”

“Guess we’ll have to, under the law.  I’ll be glad to help you out.  It’s a mean trick to take money in that fashion.  Hey, George!  I say, George!  Get up, here’s a case for you.”

“What’s that?” inquired a sleepy voice from a room back of the sergeant’s desk.

“You’ve got to go out and arrest a man.”

“Oh, can’t somebody else go?  I arrested a feller last night.  I ain’t going to do all the work in this police station.”

“Look here, George Rosco!” called the sergeant, getting up, and going to the door of the room, where, evidently, the only policeman on duty was asleep, “you’ve got to get up, and go and arrest this man.  There’s a warrant for him, and he’s charged with embezzling fifteen hundred dollars.  He’s mate aboard that freight steamer that’s tied up here for repairs.”

“Fifteen hundred dollars!  Why didn’t you say so at first?” exclaimed the policeman, appearing in the doorway, half dressed.  “That’s worth while arresting a man for.  I thought it was another one of them chicken-stealing cases.  Fifteen hundred dollars!  I’ll be ready in a jiffy!  Whew!  Fifteen hundred -

The rest of what he said was lost to Nat and the sergeant, as the officer closed the door, while he dressed.  When he came out he greeted Nat cordially.

“I don’t mind being woke up for a case like that,” he explained.  “I thought it was some measly tramp case.  For the last three nights I’ve been woke up by people whose henroosts have been robbed.  I’m getting tired of it, and when the sergeant called me a while ago, I thought it was another one.  You see, we’ve only got two policemen here, and I don’t mind telling you that I do most of the arrestin’ that’s done.  The other one-Tom Duncan-he’s too lazy to arrest many.  I do two to his one.  I’m on night duty and he takes the day trick.”

Nat could not help thinking that the night man had the easier time of it, even if he did make the most arrests.

“Now here’s the warrant, George,” said the sergeant.  “Bring that fellow in, and we’ll lock him up.”

“Oh, I’ll bring him in all right.  He’ll not get away from me.  Let’s see, I’ve got my revolver and my club.  Guess I’m all right.”

“You go right along with him,” the sergeant directed Nat.  “Point out the man you want and he’ll bring him in.”

“Yes, I’ll get him,” declared George.  He started from the police station, followed by Nat.  When he reached the door, the officer suddenly turned back.  “Come near forgetting my badge,” he said, in explanation.  “It wouldn’t do to arrest a man without my badge.  He might think it was only a bluff.  Give me my badge, sergeant.”

“First you know, you’ll forget your head,” murmured the sergeant, as he passed over a big tin star.

“I take it off when I lay down for a nap of an evening,” the policeman said to Nat.  “Some of the points might stick me, and I’d get blood poisoning.  You can’t be too careful in this business.  I knowed a policeman once -

“Say, if you’re going to arrest that man you’d better get a move on,” advised the sergeant.  “That boat’s due to leave at daylight, I heard, and it ain’t far from it now.”

“All right, I’m going now.  I’ll be back in a little while with the prisoner.  Get a cell ready for him.”

“Oh, the cell will be ready when you are.”

“Fifteen hundred dollars,” murmured the policeman, as he and Nat went out into the night.  “This will be a fine arrest.  Tom Duncan will wish he made this one.”

“We’d better hurry,” suggested Nat.  “He may escape.”

“Don’t worry about that.  No prisoner ever got away from me,” boasted the officer.

It was not far to the dock where the Spray was tied up.  Even in the darkness Nat knew the boat.  He wondered if the mate was aboard.  Once he reached the ship, the officer’s manner changed.  He proceeded cautiously, and seemed to know what he was about.

“Do you know which his cabin is?” he asked of Nat, in a whisper.

“No, but I know where the mate usually sleeps aboard these boats.”

“You go ahead then.”

The young pilot led the way.  Though he had never been aboard the Spray he thought he could find where Bumstead slept.  Fortunately, they did not meet the anchor watch, who was probably asleep.

“This ought to be his cabin,” said Nat, indicating one in the same relative position as that occupied by the mate aboard the Jessie Drew.

“Then I’ll go in and get him,” said the officer.

It was beginning to get light, a streak of dawn showing in the east.  The policeman pushed open the cabin door, which was not locked.

“Is Joseph Bumstead here?” he asked in loud tones.

“That’s me.  What’s wanted?” was the answer, and Nat recognized the mate’s voice.

“Come out here,” said the officer.

He backed out of the cabin, and in the growing light Nat saw that he had his revolver drawn.  Wondering what could be wanted of him, Bumstead jumped out of his bunk, partly dressed.

“You’re my prisoner!” suddenly exclaimed the policeman, throwing back his coat to display the big star.  At the same time he grabbed the mate with one hand, and in the other leveled his weapon at him.

“What’s the trouble?  Is this a joke?” demanded the mate.

“You’ll find it quite different from a joke,” replied the officer.  “I have a warrant for your arrest, sworn out by Nat Morton, charging you with the embezzlement of fifteen hundred dollars.  You’ll have to come with me.”

At that moment the mate caught sight of Nat, who stood to one side.

“So!  This is your work, eh?” he cried.  “Well, I’ll not go with you!  You haven’t got me yet!”

With a sudden motion he broke away from the officer.

“Hold on or I’ll shoot!” threatened the policeman.

“Shoot then!” cried the mate.

He ran to the rail.  An instant later he had mounted it, poised on the top a moment, and with a shout of defiance he leaped over the side.  A splash in the water told that he had landed in the lake.

“Stop!  Hold on!” yelled the officer, as he rushed to the side.  “Come back or I’ll shoot!”

He peered down into the water.  There was no sign of the mate.  By this time several members of the crew were aroused and were on the deck.

“What’s the matter?” cried a voice that Nat recognized as Sam Shaw’s.

“Prisoner escaped!” exclaimed the policeman.  “Can you see him?” he asked of Nat, who stood beside him, in the early dawn.

The boy shook his head in disappointment.

“He’s got away, I guess,” he said.

“Get me a boat!” cried the officer.  “I’ll find him if it takes all day.  Come on!”