Page:Yule Logs.djvu/76

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60
VENTURE OF THE "BERTHA" WHALER

The three adventurers climbed up the side of the vessel, and then the beef in tins, the keg, the guns, rifle, and ammunition followed.

"I suppose it is all right?" asked the doctor, as the men prepared to go back. "You will return?"

"Oh, we'll come back," laughed the stroke oarsman, an ugly-looking customer. "You're all right!"

"I'd rather you'd pull in with us," said Jackson, "I would indeed. I can't wait. Here take this, sir."

"Nonsense!" cried Arthur. "This is real right down Robinson Crusoe business! Don't hurry back. Ta, ta! What did he give you, doctor?"

The cockswain waved his hand in farewell. The men gave way, and the boat quickly left the derelict and gradually was hidden in the still gathering mist, for the breeze was "northing."

Mr. Halbrake made no answer to Arthur's question. He was watching the boat. Then perceiving that the man had handed him some tobacco, he put it in his pocket, having already sufficient for present use. The lads had meantime left him, and he went aft to join them, but he suddenly became conscious of the insecurity of their position—and future!

What if this was a planned trick? Had the commander taken this opportunity to rid himself of the passengers? Jackson could not say much before the men, but, as the doctor now recalled with a fast-beating heart, he had given them broad hints—suggested food; the guns had been the commander's idea. What for? Why had he given them fire-arms?

With a mind far from easy, Mr. Halbrake rejoined the lads, who were about to descend into the cabin, or "saloon" as they pleased to call it. It was at best a wretched place to sleep in, but, under the circumstances, almost repulsive to the surgeon.

Arthur was in high spirits when he descended. Reginald