A Sailor Boy with Dewey/Chapter 4

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CHAPTER IV.


THE RESCUE OF THE UNWORTHY ONE.


I was in a tremble of excitement, and for the moment forgot all about my own peril. Since coming to the far East, or West, as you will, I had become greatly attached to Dan Holbrook; indeed he seemed like a brother to me. If he was lost, what would I do, even if we were fortunate to reach some part of the Island of Luzon, upon which the city of Manila is located?

But a treacherous wave, mountain-high, brought me to a sudden realization of my own condition.

"Hold hard!" I heard Watt Brown yell, and I held to the seat with all of my might, and this was all that prevented me from being swept overboard.

We had shipped a good deal of water, and I was ordered to bail out the small craft, while the sailors continued at the oars, assisted by the second mate. There was a big dipper handy and I think I can truthfully say that I never worked harder in my life than I did then, meanwhile continuing to hold on with one hand.

It was fully ten minutes ere we reached the locality where the small boat had foundered. In the meanwhile flash after flash of lightning had lit up the scene, showing the Dart far to the northward, driving rapidly before the fury of the storm. But at last distance and the steady downpour of rain hid the vessel from view, and we could not tell if she sunk or not.

"A man!" It was the second mate who uttered the words, and a head bobbed up just alongside of our bow. At once the mate dropped his oar and seized the individual by his hair. Then he caught hold of an arm and in a trice the fellow was on board, where he fell in a heap at the bottom of our craft. It was Captain Kenny.

"The captain's boat," observed Watt Brown, and I breathed a long sigh of relief, thinking that Dan might yet be safe. "I wonder if Yarson, Betts, Camar, and Dilwoddy are floating around?"

He referred to the four sailors that had accompanied the captain in the first boat. Standing up as best he could, he waited for another flash of lightning and gazed around hurriedly. Not another soul was in sight.

"They are gone, I am afraid," he murmured. "Keep her head up, lads, and I'll take another look."

"Never mind the others," growled Captain Kenny, struggling to a seat. "We must save ourselves. Pull on, or we'll be swamped."

"You wretch!" I cried indignantly. "Supposing we had left you to shift for yourself?"

"Shut up, boy, or——"

"The lad is right, captain," interrupted Watt Brown. "It was no more to us to save you than it is to save Betts and the rest. Remember, the Dart has been abandoned and now one man is as good as another."

"Do you mean to say I am not still in command?" roared Captain Kenny in a fury that was positively silly.

"No, you're not!" spoke up one of the men at the oars. "Sit still, or I'll be in for heaving you overboard again," and this was said so harshly that the captain sunk back without another word.

The long hours of the night which followed were filled with an anxiety which words cannot describe. The sailors at the oars could do nothing but keep the small boat head up to the waves and at times they became so exhausted, as the sea ran stronger and stronger, that more than one was ready to drop in a faint. I took an oar for two hours and then had to relinquish the blade, for fear it would be torn from my grasp and lost.

It was about five o'clock in the morning when the hurricane abated. As is usual in this locality, the storm let up as quickly as it had gathered. The rain stopped and the wind dropped all in a few minutes, and in less than an hour the sun was shining down upon us from a cloudless sky. The sea, however, still ran dangerously high.

"Do you see anything?" I asked of the second mate, as he balanced himself on one of the middle seats and took a careful look about the horizon.

"Nothing," was his disheartening answer. "Not a sail or a small boat in sight."

"Then the other boats must be lost," and my heart sank again.

"Perhaps not. The wind during the night may have carried us miles apart."

We knew we must be a good distance from land, but we also knew that we were somewhere to the westward of Luzon, so the only thing to do was to, steer a course due east and trust to sight the shore before our provisions gave out.

We had on board but two articles, a keg of ship's biscuits and a keg of water. Several other things had been put into the small craft, but these had either been washed overboard or ruined by the salt water which I had bailed out.

"By close economy we can make the biscuits last three days, and the water about as long," announced the second mate. "We ought to make shore long before that time expires." And he proceeded to deal out a breakfast of two biscuits and one cup of water to each person.

"I want more than two biscuits and I am bound to have them!" cried Captain Kenny and leaped for the biscuit keg. But instantly Watt Brown and two of the sailors confronted him, one with an upraised oar, and again he subsided. After that all of the others watched him carefully.

As I have said, the sea still ran high, and we soon learned that to steer in a due east course was impossible. We had to head to the northeast and at times almost due north.

"This will take us a good many miles to the north of Manila Bay, even if we strike shore," observed Watt Brown to me. "I calkerlate we are already some miles north of Subig Bay."

"Well, I hardly care where we land, if only we escape the sea," I returned. "I have no desire to fill a watery grave, as Betts and the others have done."

"I think we are safe on making shore—providing we don't strike another hurricane, Raymond." Then the second mate leaned close to me. "Watch out for the captain, he has it in for you," he whispered. "He's a bad man when he's got a spell on."

"I'll be on my guard," I replied. I almost wished we had saved somebody else in place of the unreasonable skipper of the Dart.

The morning passed away slowly. By eleven o'clock the sun was almost directly overhead and it was so hot that all craved a shelter that could not be had. The cup of water dealt out at noon seemed pitiably small, but nobody but the captain complained, understanding only too well what the horrors of thirst would be should our supply give out.

Toward night another storm came up, principally of wind. Again the waves increased in height, sending us up to a very mountain top one moment and then letting us down into a gigantic hollow which looked ready to engulf us forever. We still drove northward at a rate of ten to twelve miles an hour.

Having had no sleep for forty-eight hours I was utterly worn out, and when the storm let up a bit, sometime after midnight, I sank in a bunch on my seat and closed my eyes. "It's all right, catch a nap if you can," said the second mate. Soon I was sleeping as soundly as if in my bed at home, although disturbed by the wildest of dreams.

I awoke with a start, to find a firm hand on my shoulder and Captain Kenny glaring into my face. "You're to be number two, lad!" he hissed. "We'll save the water and biscuits for a better mouth!" And then he lifted me up and attempted to hurl me into the sea!

For the fraction of a second my tongue was too paralyzed to utter a sound; then I let out an ear-splitting yell that brought Watt Brown and one of the sailors to my immediate aid. "Let go of me!" I cried. "He wants to heave me overboard!"

"Let him alone!" commanded Brown, and hauled Captain Kenny backward. The sailor hit him a heavy crack on the head, and down went the captain on the boat's bottom unconscious.

"I told ye to be watchful of him," said the second mate, when it was all over. "If Captain Kenny is your enemy onct he's your enemy allers, don't forgit that."

"He said something to me about being number two," I said. "What did he—a man is gone!"

I had glanced around hastily, to discover that one of the oar hands was missing. Watt Brown followed my gaze.

"Garwell!" murmured the second mate. His face grew dark, and in justifiable indignation he leaped to where Captain Kenny lay and shook the unconscious man vigorously. "Where is Garwell!" he cried out. "Tell me, captain, or I'll pitch ye overboard! Where is Garwell?"