The Rover Boys on Land and Sea/Chapter 18

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It had been decided by the castaways to enlarge one of the rooms of the house, and as soon as the captain, Tom, and Sam. had departed on their exploring tour, Dick and old Jerry set to work to cut down the posts necessary for the building.

While this was going on the three girls were by no means idle. There were meals to get, dishes to wash, and it had been found that outdoor life was very rough on clothing, so there was a good bit of sewing and darning to be done. Fortunately all of the girls were handy with a needle, so that a rent in a coat or a dress received immediate attention.

"Now you must make the alteration in the house very nice," said Dora to Dick. "Remember, we want a regular Queen Anne building, with round bay windows, and——"

"And inlaid floors," finished Dick, "not to mention steam heat, and——"

"Mercy on us!" burst in Grace. "Don't mention steam heat in this climate."

"Of course we want hot and cold water in the kitchen," put in Nellie. "What sort of a mansion would it be without hot and cold water,—and a dumb waiter from the cellar, too," and then all began to laugh.

"I know what I should like," said Dora, after a pause. "That would be a refrigerator."

"If we had the ice," finished Nellie. "Dick, isn't there any ice on board of the Golden Wave?"

"By Jove! I think there is," cried the oldest Rover boy. "I never once thought of it before."

"If there is, I wish you'd bring some the next time you go over. We have lemons, and we could make delicious lemonade."

"And we could make orange ice, too," put in Grace. "I know there was an ice-cream freezer on board of the ship. It was in the cook's galley."

Old Jerry was coming to the house with a small tree he had cut down, and Dick sounded him about the ice.

"To be sure there was ice, several tons of it," said Jerry. "It was stowed away near the bow. I don't believe it's all melted, either."

"I'm going over to see," cried Dick. "We've got plenty of lemons and sugar; and lemonade, not to mention orange ice, would just strike the spot in this awfully hot weather."

But as it was now noon, with the sun directly overhead, Dick decided to remain in the shade until four or five o'clock. Dinner was had, and then the work of enlarging the house went on as before.

At half-past four Dick got out the rowboat and started for the wreck. He had first thought to go alone, but old Jerry wanted to pick out certain tools needed for the house-building, as well as hunt for a keg of nails, and the two decided to go together, going and coming as quickly as possible.

"You won't be afraid to be alone, will you?" asked Dick, of the girls.

"Not if you hurry," answered Nellie. "But don't stay away after dark."

Left to themselves, the three girls swept up the chips the builders had left and started up the camp-fire. Then they tidied up the house generally, and soon set about preparing the supper.

Dora was at the spring getting a pail of water when a sound on the rocks nearby caused her to look around in wonder. To her amazement Dan Baxter stood there, staring at her in open-mouthed astonishment.

"Dan Baxter!" she gasped. "Where in the world did you come from?"

For a moment the bully did not answer, so great was his amazement. Dora noted that he was dirty and unkempt, and that his clothing was almost in rags.

"Is it you, Dora Stanhope?" came slowly from the fellow's lips. "Is it really you?"

"Yes," she answered.

"How did you get here? Are you alone?" went on Baxter, coming closer. And then before she could answer, he added: "Got any thing to eat?"

At the last question she looked at him more closely, and saw that he appeared half starved. She pitied him despite his character.

"Yes, we have plenty to eat," she said.

"Then give me something at once," he cried. "Give me something at once!"

"Come with me."

There was now a crashing in the bushes back of Dan Baxter, and in a second more Jack Lesher appeared on the scene. He too was haggard and dirty, and his eyes were much blood-shot, the result of living almost entirely on liquor for several days after being wrecked on the islands.

"Well, is it possible!" cried the mate of the Golden Wave.

"They've got lots to eat," muttered Dan Baxter. "I'm going to have something to fill me up before I start to talk."

"How many more of you are here?" asked Dora, in something of dismay.

"We came along alone," said Baxter. "Show us that grub."

Dora led the way to the camp-fire, where Nellie and Grace were also surprised at the unexpected visitors. Some food was brought forth, and both Baxter and Lesher ate like two famished wolves.

"Got any liquor?" questioned the mate, casting his eyes toward the house.

"We have a little," answered Nellie, for Captain Blossom had brought over several bottles from the wreck.

"Bring it out."

When the liquor was brought Jack Lesher took a long draught and then handed the bottle to Dan Baxter.

"That's the stuff!" cried the mate, with a sly wink at Dora, "Better than eatin,' twice over," and he took another drink.

The manner of the two newcomers was not at all pleasing to the girls, and they were sorry that none of the men folks were at hand. They asked the pair to tell their story, and Baxter spoke up, while Lesher applied himself to the bottle.

"We floated around the ocean for several days," said the bully. "One sailor went crazy from the sunshine and leaped overboard, and was drowned. Then a heavy wind came up and drove the boat, in the night, onto an island close to this one. We were cast ashore with hardly any provisions, and two of the sailors were sick. We had to live on fish, birds, and fruit, and we've had a hard lot of it, I can tell you that. Yesterday Lesher and I resolved to explore this island, thinking that perhaps some of the wreck age from the schooner had washed ashore here. We came over in the afternoon and tramped along the north shore until it grew dark, but without finding anything. We slept at the shore last night, and this morning started to go over the hill back there. But the snakes chased us off, and then we came around over some rough rocks, where both of us got our clothing torn. We thought we saw a flag up there somewhere, but we weren't sure."

"Yes, we have a signal of distress up there," answered Dora. She hardly knew how best to reply.

"Who is here?"

"Captain Blossom, old Jerry Tolman, and the three Rover boys. Old Jerry and Dick have just gone over to the wreck on an errand. The others have gone on an exploring tour among the islands, which are seven in number."

"Got the wreck, have yer!" came in almost a grunt from Jack Lesher. "Sure enough!" He staggered down to the beach. "Don't see why you stay here when you might be aboard of her."

"It is cooler here," answered Nellie.

"How many sailors were saved?" asked Grace.

"Nine were saved, besides Lesher and myself," answered Dan Baxter. "You see, we picked up some of the men from one of the other boats."

"Then your party numbers eleven in all," said Dora.

"Yes," came from Jack Lesher. "An' I am the cap'n of the lot," and he bobbed his head in satisfaction. He had partaken of just enough liquor to make him foolish.

"I wish Dick and old Jerry would come back," whispered Grace to Dora. "I do not like Mr. Lesher at all."

"I never liked him," replied Dora. "When he gets intoxicated he is a bad fellow to deal with."

"Reckon we'll make ourselves comfortable here," said Lesher, staggering to a hammock Dick had put up for the girls to rest in. He pitched into the hammock, carrying a bottle of liquor with him. Another drink was taken, and soon he was fast asleep, snoring loudly.