Page:Yule Logs.djvu/74

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58
VENTURE OF THE "BERTHA" WHALER

went on deck, and beheld four men with Jackson ready to embark in one of the boats.

"Let us go too, please, Mr. Cordell," cried Arthur. "We want to see the stranded ship. Please let us all go."

"Oh, you all wish to go, do you? Well, perhaps it will be all the better! Go then. Look sharp, now."

None of the three noticed the tone of Cordell's reply, nor the sneer which had accompanied the permission, nor the savage light in the eyes of the commander-mate. But Jackson intervened when Mr. Cordell had spoken to him.

"Haven't you got any grub?" he asked. "Best get a snack, as in case we're delayed you won't be hungry or thirsty. Where's the guns, sir?"

"They are there," replied the chief. "Mind that rifle; put it down there! I have no fancy to be shot like a jackdaw. There's some tins for you, and a keg. You may make grog if you like. Now, steady! Lower away!"

The boat, well supplied by the steward, and armed, pushed off, and under the influence of the four men rushed through the chopping sea. The eyes of the passengers were fixed upon the derelict, the eyes of the cockswain were fixed on both alternately, with suspicious glances at the lads. But Jackson made no remark. He was thinking of the message which Esau had given him, and it puzzled him; but he held his course. The man in the "crow's-nest" gave him the direction; the barque was kept alongside the floe, clear of the bergs, too, which, agitated by currents of their fellows' making, often swerved out of their course, and compelled the Bertha to "yaw," or to come up in the wind, to avoid a collision.

The men rowed well, and the hull of the stranded vessel became more distinct through the gathering mist. The Bertha kept a signal flying at the fore, but the bunting