The Rover Boys on Land and Sea/Chapter 16

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"The Golden Wave looks like an old friend," said Sam as they paddled across the smooth waters of the bay.

"Her coming here is the finest thing that could have happened," answered his brother. "I didn't want to say anything before, but if she hadn't come what would we have done for clothing and for eating? We couldn't live on fish all the time, and one can do mighty little hunting without a gun."

"We would have had to set traps, Tom, and dig pitfalls for larger game. But I admit it would have been hard work, and I fancy a suit of goatskins, like Robinson Crusoe wore, wouldn't be half as comfortable as a suit of clothes such as I am wearing."

"If we could only float the schooner and sail away to some nearby port."

"There is no port within three hundred miles of us, so the captain says."

Soon the boys were halfway across the bay, But moving the big raft was a laborious task, and they were glad enough to sit down and rest for a few minutes.

"There is no use of our hurrying," said Tom. "Our time is our own in this out-of-the-way place, and as we have next to nothing to do we want to make what little work there is last us."

"Like a lazy man working by the day," laughed Sam. "I'm afraid I can't work that way. When I have something to do I'm not content until it is done."

"Are you hot, Sam? Here is something to cool you off."

As Tom spoke he playfully scooped up a handful of water and threw it at his brother.

Soon the two boys were having lots of sport, throwing handfuls of the salty water at each other. Then Sam made a motion as if he was going to push Tom overboard with his paddle.

"Hi! none of that!" cried Tom. "I don't mind a wetting by retail, but I don't want it by wholesale."

He continued to throw water at Sam and the youngest Rover tried to dodge. The raft began to rock, and of a sudden Sam lost his balance and went into the bay with a splash.

Tom set up a laugh, for it was a comical sight, and it had been Sam's own fault that he went overboard. But then Tom's laughter came to an end as he saw the form of a shark moving swiftly toward the spot.

"A shark! a shark!" he screamed. "Sam, get on board, quick! A shark is after you!"

Sam had gone far down beneath the surface and he did not reappear at once. Then he came up spluttering.

"Gosh! I didn't want a bath! Tom, you——"

"Hurry and get aboard, Sam! A shark is after you!"

Sam was about ten feet from the raft, and running to the spot nearest to him, Tom held out the end of his paddle.

"A shark?" gasped the youngest Rover.

"Yes! yes! Catch the end of the paddle!"

Sam made a frantic effort to do so. In the meantime the shark came closer and Tom could see his enormous mouth and sharp teeth clearly. His blood turned to ice in his veins.

Sam made a clutch at the paddle, missed it, and disappeared once more from sight. The shark rushed to the spot and turned in dismay, and driven to desperation, Tom hit the monster over the head with the paddle. Then the shark disappeared also.

The next few seconds were full of agony for poor Tom. He gazed in all directions for Sam, and for th$ shark, but neither one nor the other was to be seen.

"He must have caught Sam under the water!" he muttered. "Oh, Sam, what an awful death to die!"

A slight noise at the upper end of the raft disturbed him. He turned swiftly, to see a wet hand glide over the woodwork. He made a leap and clutched the hand, and then Sam's head appeared. He gave a frantic yank, and both lay on the flooring of the raft. Sam was saved.

"The shark!" gasped Tom, when he could speak. "Did it it bite you?"

"No, but it grazed my shoulder," answered Sam. "If I had not dived down, I would have lost an arm at the very least."

When they felt able they looked around, but the shark had disappeared.

"That settles it," said Tom. "We must be careful and keep out of this water in the future. If we want to bathe, we will have to build a pool."

During the remainder of the trip to the wreck both were careful not to run the slightest chance of falling overboard.

"Not such a very lovely place to live in, after all," said Tom. "Snakes on land and sharks in the water, ugh!" And Sam agreed with him.

Once on the wreck it was an easy thing to obtain the dishes and the knives, forks and spoons, and also some other things they thought they might require. They also brought away another gun, loading it up before leaving the ship.

"Now, if Mr. Shark comes around again, we can give him a dose of buckshot," said Tom.

But the shark did not appear, excepting at a great distance.

When Sam told his story all congratulated him on his narrow escape.

"Tom is right," said old Jerry. "Ye mustn't do no bathin' in the bay. We can fix two pools, one for the ladies and one for ourselves, and make another pool for fish, and another for turtles, if we can find any."

The girls had cooked a splendid meal, and soon the table was set on a big flat rock lying near the beach. All sat down and Captain Blossom asked a blessing, and then they all fell to with vigor, for all were hungry.

"The salt air gives one an appetite," said Dick.

The meal lasted the best part of an hour, for, as Tom said, there was no use of hurrying. As they ate, and for some time afterward, they discussed their situation and tried to arrange plans for the future.

It was decided that first of all Dick and old Jerry should climb to the top of the hill, taking with them an ax and a flag and some halyards, and fasten the flag to the top of the tree, stars down, as a signal of distress. Then the whole party was to assist in bringing from the wreck as much building material as was necessary to construct a comfortable dwelling of three large rooms, one for the girls, one for the boys and men, and one as a general living room. A store house was also to be built, in which could be stored such provisions as were brought away from the wreck from time to time. Then they could live on shore or on the ship, as they pleased.

The following day was Sunday and all rested. The girls thought there should be some sort of religious exercises and all went to the wreck, where Captain Blossom read some chapters from the Bible and the others sang hymns.

The week to follow was a busy one and the time slipped by rapidly. A visit was paid to the hilltop and the flag raised, and Tom and old Jerry also went to the north shore and brought around the rowboat beached there. In the meantime Captain Blossom put together the rowboat parts stored on the Golden Wave, so they now had two boats and the raft for service across the bay and to other points on the water.

Building the house was by no means an easy task, but the Rover boys thought it more fun than work, especially with the girls to look on, and by the end of the second week the building looked quite presentable. When the two bedrooms were finished, some berths were brought over from the wreck, along with bed-clothing, and also some furniture for the living apartment. Outside the latter room a large porch was built, where they might eat and rest when the weather was fine. Not to run the risk of burning down the building in a high wind, it was decided that the cooking should be done in a shed some distance away, in the shelter of the rocks and handy to the spring.

"Who is going to be the cook?" asked Dick. "It won't be fair to put it off on one person."

"We have decided to take turns," said Dora. "Each one will be the main cook for a day at a time, with the others to help, and to wash the dishes. We are going to do all the housework, too, so you men folks can hunt and fish, and make garden if you will, to your hearts' content."

"What a lazy time we will have of it," laughed Dick.

"Captain Blossom says that as soon as we are settled we can explore all of the seven islands. Who knows we may find out something of importance," came from Tom, who stood near.

"Cannibals, for instance," put in Sam.

"Oh, do you really think there are any cannibals here?" asked Grace.

"I believe he is fooling," said Nellie. "He only wants to scare us!" And she tossed her pretty head.

"Perhaps we'll stir up some lions or tigers," said Tom.

"Or an elephant," added Dick. "But I don't think we will. My opinion is that these islands have nothing on them but birds, monkeys, small game, and snakes."

"You've forgotten one thing," said Dora, with an odd smile.

"What, Dora?"