Last time Bill and the children escaped the enemy only to end up with their boat caught on some rocks.
As the sun rose on Bill and the children a few miles away, Anatoly, Thompson and Bentley were waking up in their respective tents, ready for another day of searching the islands. They were fairly sure that this island was the island Bill and the children had been on. Anatoly was certain, but Bentley and Thompson chalked it up to youthful enthusiasm, anyone could have dropped a pencil. Still, after breakfast they performed one more sweep of the area near the natural harbour just in case they had missed anything.
Just as they were readying the boat for another day of sailing, the wireless crackled to life.
“Hey, you two, listen to this!” Bentley called, waving them over. “We’re being told to stand down.”
Anatoly and Thompson scrambled onto the boat in time to hear Bennett say “No response to our questions, but the message has been repeated every few minutes for the past hour.”
“Have they found Bill?” Anatoly asked.
Bentley nodded. “He is sending out a message saying he and four children are on a boat out of petrol, and a rough location, but they can’t seem to get a message back to him.”
Anatoly perched on the edge of the boat, a little disappointed that he hadn’t been able to find Bill and enact a daring rescue. He shook the thought from his head, having been told that it was a bad thing to think about when you were agent. Rescues were rarely glorious. Nine times out of ten, you were lucky to get rescued. They were only out for Bill as he was somewhat vital to the service. “Do we wait for further instructions?” Thompson was asking.
Bentley shrugged and asked the question across the wireless himself, receiving an affirmative response. After a hearty breakfast Bentley reported in to see if any instructions were waiting for them. “We’re to collect a boat,” he said, jotting down some co-ordinates on his notepad. “Bill and the children have been safely collected by sea-plane.”
“It is not Bill’s boat then?” Anatoly asked. “We know that got smashed up.” “Presumably the children found another boat somewhere,” Thompson said with a shrug. “Let’s do what we’re told and pack up here.”
“I was just told a boat. You know the rules, Petrov. They say ‘jump’ and you ask ‘how high’ not ‘why’,” Bentley said with a laugh. “Let’s get going sharpish, we’ve got a couple of days of sailing to get back to the mainland at least.”
Anatoly shared a smirk with Thompson as the cleared up what they had left on the island and packed the boat. Soon enough they were chugging along, to the co-ordinates that Bennet’s staff had provided from the mainland, and were astounded to see such a beautiful lagoon in the distance. “If you did not know where it was, you would not think to look here for someone hiding out would you?” Anatoly marvelled.
“No, it’s a damn good place for whatever they’re doing,” Bentley said. “We’d best not head too close, in case we draw attention to ourselves.” He consulted with Thompson who was keeping track of their position on the map and turned the boat a few degrees to the east. They headed the six miles south-east of the lagoon to the co-ordinates they had been given, and could just make out a small boat through their field-glasses, the tide having carried it away from its last-known location.
“Should I swim out and get it?” Anatoly suggested as they drew closer. “That would be the least conspicuous thing I am sure.” Thompson and Bentley glanced at each other. “It is an option, but we don’t know what condition it’s in,” Bentley said. “Let’s see if we can get any closer first before we throw you over the side!”
They took their boat closer and looked over the small craft. “It looks like it’s still seaworthy, and if Bill was on it last, it should be safe enough,” Bentley said. “I doubt the enemy would have come all the way out here just to plant some sort of trap on a useless boat.”
“I’ll bring us up close and one of you can hop over and fill up the tank and we can start heading back. We should have enough petrol for two boats, but if we start to run low we can switch to towing.”
Anatoly, wanting to be useful, was the one to go across to the other boat and soon he had it going. “You’ll have to take your turn at piloting on the way back,” Bentley told him. “We’ll sleep in shifts so that we don’t have to stop.”
The second boat was smaller and had a slightly smaller tank, but the fuel ran out long before any of them expected it to. “You put a whole can in, didn’t you?” Bentley asked Anatoly after they had turned back to see why he was no longer keeping pace with them.
“The tank must be leaking,” Thompson said. “There’s no way that boat has gone through a whole can of petrol while we’re still half-full.”
Bentley sighed. “Well, we can’t keep filling it up if it’s not going to last!”
“We’ll have to tow it in,” Thompson said. “We don’t have enough fuel to keep filling this one up, especially if it’s leaking.
“We could see if we can patch up the leak? ” suggested Anatoly hopefully.
“That would take too long,” Thompson said with a wry smile. “We’ll want to get back as soon as possible.”
That Anatoly couldn’t disagree with. Now the search was over there wasn’t any reason to hang around at sea. Back on the mainland plans would be being made to round up the gang and they wanted to be in on that. Still, he was disappointed not to have the chance to pilot a boat back some of the way.
to be continued…