The Rover Boys on Land and Sea/Chapter 15

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"The Golden Wave! Hurrah!"

Tom could not resist setting up a shout when he saw the familiar hull of the schooner, resting quietly on the beach of an island on the other side of the bay.

The cry awoke Sam, Dick, and old Jerry, and they came running out to learn what it meant.

"The schooner!" came from Sam. "How did that get there?"

"The storm must have driven her off the rocks and into this bay," answered Dick. "She didn't go down, after all."

"It's a fine thing for us," put in Captain Jerry, his broad face beaming with pleasure. "Now we can have all the provisions we want, and clothing and guns, and if we can anchor the wreck in some way, we can live on her just as comfortably as in a house at home."

The excited talking brought the girls out one after another, and they were equally pleased over the stroke of good fortune.

"She seems to be cast up pretty high on the sand," said old Jerry. "But even so, the sooner we get to her the better, or the sea may carry her off."

"I am ready to go now," said Tom. " But how are we to get to that island? It's a pity we didn't bring our boat around."

"There are two islands of the circle in between," came from Sam. "Why can't we swim from one to the next and get around that way?"

"We can try it, lad. But we want to be careful. There may be sharks around in these parts."

"Oh, don't let the sharks eat you up!" cried Grace.

"We'll keep our eyes open, never fear," said Dick.

A vote was taken, and it was decided that Sam should remain with the girls, to protect them in case of unexpected danger, while Tom, Dick, and old Jerry should make their way as best they could to the wreck.

The old sailor and the two boys were soon off. They tramped down the beach a short distance and then reached a coral reef leading to the next island. Here the water was not over a foot and a half deep, and as clear as crystal, so the passage to Island No. 2, as Tom named it, was comparatively easy.

The second island crossed they followed the shore around until they came opposite to the isl and upon which the wreck rested. Here there was a channel sixty or eighty feet wide and of unknown depth, the channel through which the wreck had most likely entered the bay. The water here was by no means smooth and Captain Jerry shook his head doubtfully.

"It won't be no easy swim," he said. "Reckon as how I'll try it first."

"I can get over easily enough," said Dick, and threw off part of his clothing and his shoes. He was soon in the water and striking out boldly, and the others followed.

Short as was the distance, the swim was as hard as any of them looked for, and when they reached the other side of the channel all were out of breath and had to rest for a moment.

"It's a good thing no shark happened to be near," said Tom. "The monster would certainly have had us at his mercy."

When they reached the wreck they found the stern well out of the water. The Golden Wave lay partly on her left side and it was a comparatively easy matter to gain the deck.

The masts were gone and there was a big hole in the bow, but otherwise the craft had suffered little damage. Why she had not sunk was a mystery until, later on, old Jerry discovered that some of the cargo, consisting of flat cases, had got wedged into the break, thus cutting off a large portion of the leak.

"We can anchor her without trouble," said the old sailor. "And perhaps straighten her up too, so the deck won't be so slanty. Then she'll be a reg'lar hotel for all hands."

"Let us go below and see how things are down there," said Dick, and he at once led the way.

At that instant a loud sneeze reached their ears, causing Dick to pause on the companion way. Looking into the cabin he saw a man standing there, partly dressed.

"Captain Blossom!" he ejaculated. "Is it really you or your ghost?"

"Dick Rover!" cried the master of the schooner. "Then you weren't drowned, after all?"

"No, captain. But—but how did you escape?"

"Is it really Captain Blossom?" came from Tom, and he rushed down into the cabin, followed by old Jerry. All shook hands, and the face of the captain showed his pleasure over the meeting.

"So you all escaped and are here," he said. "I am downright glad to know it. What of the others?"

"We don't know what became of the other boats," answered Dick.

"Saw nothing at all?"

"Not a thing."

The captain shook his head sorrowfully.

"But how did you escape?" asked Dick again.

"That is a short story, lad. When I went overboard from the rowboat, I caught hold of some of the wreckage from the schooner. This was still fast to the deck, and by hauling myself in I soon got on board again. As I had no boat, I remained on board, for I soon saw that the schooner would not go down immediately. At daylight the ship left the rocks and drifted around on the ocean until the wind came up last night, when we struck this island and got beached, as you see. I was worn out with watching, and as soon as I found the boat was safe from sinking I went to bed, and slept soundly until I heard you three tramping around the deck."

"We are stopping over on yonder island," said Tom, when all went on deck, and he pointed in the direction. "See, Sam and the girls are waving to us. Let us wave in return, and stand apart, so they can see that there are four of us."

They did as the youngest Rover advised and soon saw that they were seen. Then Captain Blossom held up his spyglass.

"I reckon they will know who I am by that," he said, and he was right, for Sam told the girls that the fourth man was Captain Blossom beyond a doubt.

"How is your stock of provisions?" asked old Jerry. "We are getting just a bit tired of living on birds and fish. And we want a gun or a pistol with which to protect ourselves."

"The Golden Wave has enough provisions to last this party a year," answered the captain. "We haven't anything very fine, but we have plenty of flour, dried beans, salt and smoked meats, and a good many cases of canned vegetables, as well as sugar, tea, coffee, salt, and pepper. With fresh fish and some game we'll be able to live as well here as if we were on shore,—that is, if we can find fresh water."

"We have all the fresh water we want,—on the large island," said Tom. "And lots of tropical fruit—cocoanuts, bananas, and the like."

"If we are going to live on the ship, we'll have to bring fresh water over from the other island in a cask," said Dick. "That will not be very handy."

"Can't we move the wreck over?" came from Tom.

"No, lad," answered Captain Blossom "She is here to stay until her timbers rot. But if we wish, we can move some of the provisions ashore. There are the parts of a rowboat below, and I reckon I am carpenter enough to put the parts together in a day or two."

"We have a boat on the north beach," said old Jerry; "we can bring it around."

"To do that, we'll have to swim the channel again," came from Dick. "And I must say I don't like that."

"Let us make a raft," cried Tom. "There must be plenty of material on board of the schooner for that."

"There certainly is," answered Captain Blossom. "Come, we can make a raft in less than an hour."

All set to work, and in a short space of time they had the material together. Ropes and spikes were there a-plenty, and as Captain Blossom laid out one stick and another, the boys and old Jerry either nailed or tied them together. A board flooring was placed on top of the spars then the whole affair was dumped into the bay with a loud splash. It floated very well, with the flooring a good ten inches above the surface of the water, and as the raft was nearly twenty feet long by ten wide, it was capable of carrying considerable weight.

"That's better than a boat," said Dick. "We can pile a good deal more stuff on it."

"Let us get on and paddle to where we left the others," said Tom. "They will be anxious to learn the news."

Captain Blossom was willing, and they took with them a variety of provisions and also some extra clothing and some firearms. Then the raft was moved to where the boys had left part of their own clothing when they had started to swim the channel.

The coming of the big raft and its passengers to the shore where the cabin was located was greeted with shouts of joy from Sam and the three girls.

"Hurrah for the captain of the Golden Wave!" cried Sam, swinging his cap in the air. "We are very glad to see you safe and sound."

"And I am glad to see you," answered Captain Blossom, as he leaped ashore and grasped one and another by the hand. "Last night I was thinking I would be a lonely castaway; now I find I shall have plenty of company." "We have brought along some provisions," put in Tom. "And in honor of this reunion, and also in honor of the fact that the Golden Wave has not been sunk, I move we invite the girls to get us up a regular feast. I think all hands deserve it."

"Second the motion!" cried Sam.

"All right, we'll cook you anything you want," said Nellie. "That is, if you will supply the things."

"I will," answered Tom. Then he scratched his head. "Well, by gracious!"

"What's the trouble, Tom?" asked Grace. "Did you forget to bring along some sugar?"

"Worse than that. I brought along all sorts of good things to eat, and not a single knife, fork, spoon, or dish outside of some cooking utensils."

"Oh, dear!" burst out Dora. "It will be a sorry feast if we haven't anything to eat from!"

"I'll go back for the dishes," replied Tom promptly. "Sam, do you want to visit the wreck? We can go and come by the time the things are cooked."

"To be sure I'll go," said Sam; and in a few minutes more the two boys were off on the clumsy raft.