Page:Yule Logs.djvu/64

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48
VENTURE OF THE "BERTHA" WHALER

have no mutiny here; and you, doctor, had best just keep yourself to yourself, else you will find things raspy for you!"

With this hint, and a significant nod to the three seated in the shade of the boat, the commander walked away. His advent had struck the party dumb; his departure had a similar effect upon them.

At length, after a cautious look around, Reginald remarked —

"He must have been listening. After all, he took the matter fairly well. To be called a beast, and to be spoken of as a possible murderer, is a fair test of temper."

"So is 'cubs,' " said Arthur. "And he is a beast, anyway! I would like to find that paper; then we should know what to believe."

"I am afraid he will find means to 'pay us out,' " said the surgeon, reflectively. "Let us keep quiet. Perhaps we have been too hard on him, though I cannot understand what object he had in setting the captain against him. That he did so is evident."

"What object had our 'dear papa' in sending Arthur in this ship? Yet he did, knowing I would go also. You yourself were surprised, doctor. Could it be a planned thing, do you think?"

"Oh, impossible!" exclaimed the surgeon, rising from the desk. "We must be careful, that's all."

The lads acted on this advice. Nothing occurred to alarm them. The Bertha approached the Line, and one day, after the heart-breaking "Doldrums" had been passed under steam, the Equinoctial was reached about the end of October.

"One must draw the line somewhere, I suppose," remarked Arthur to Jackson; "here it is! Can you see it?" he asked, with a great assumption of innocence.

"Certainly," replied the man, calmly, "it's just ahead. If you ascend to the cross-trees, you may see it dipping