The Rover Boys on Land and Sea/Chapter 19
HOT WORDS AND BLOWS
"What a shame!" said Nellie, pointing to the slumbering mate.
"That shows what liquor will do," came from Dora.
"Oh, you mustn't blame him too much," returned Dan Baxter, who also liked the taste of the liquor. "Remember that we have been living a dog's life since we came on shore, while you have been living on the best the ship affords."
"I wouldn't touch liquor if I was starving!" cried Grace.
"And neither would the Rover boys," added Dora.
"Oh, you think the Rover boys are regular saints! " grumbled the bully. "You don't know what they would do behind your back."
"If they said they wouldn't drink they wouldn't," cried Nellie, her eyes flashing. "We can trust them every time."
"I suppose the Rover boys run this place to suit themselves," went on Baxter, eying the house and the general appearance of the camp sharply.
"We all run it together," came from Grace.
"Isn't Captain Blossom, in command?"
"After a fashion, yes. We haven't tried to decide that point yet. Have you a leader in your camp?"
"Not much of a one. Lesher is leader when he is sober. Of course we'll all come over here, now we've found you and the wreck," went on Dan Baxter.
"But why should you come here?" asked Dora, not at all pleased by the prospect. "We can let you have your share of what's on board of the schooner."
"Don't want me here, eh?"
"I don't care for all of those rough sailors."
"Well, they are Captain Blossom's men, you mustn't forget that."
"I suppose that is true," and Dora sighed. With the coming of the sailors she was certain the camp would not be as pleasant as formerly.
"I don't think you ought to be down on me, Dora," continued Dan Baxter, after a pause. "I always liked you, and you know it."
"Thank you for nothing," she replied coldly.
"I'm just as good a fellow as Dick Rover," went on the bully, and laid his hand on the girl's shoulder.
"Don't touch me, Dan Baxter!" she cried.
"I won't hurt you. Come, let us be friends. Surely you don't want any enemies here, where there are only a handful of us, all told."
"I want you to leave me alone."
She tried to move away from him, but he caught her by the arm and tried to hold her hands. Grace and Nellie were out of sight, the one having gone into the house for some dishes, and the other to the spring for some water.
"Say that you'll be friends, and I'll let you go," he said, drawing her closer.
"I won't be friends with you, Dan Baxter, so there!" she cried. "Now let me go!" And she tried to push him away.
"You—you little cat!" he cried, and then, as she let out a loud cry, he let go of her. "What a little fool you are!" And he walked away to the trees, and threw himself down to rest.
Red in the face and ready to cry, Dora ran into the house. Grace looked at her in wonder.
"What is the trouble, Dora?"
"Did Dan Baxter try to—to——"
"He wants to be—be friends!" sobbed Dora. "He held my hand so I couldn't get away. Oh, how I despise him!"
"Just wait till Dick comes back; he'll make Baxter mind his own business."
"Oh, don't tell him, Grace."
"But I shall, Dora, Baxter has got to keep his distance. I hate him myself, and so does Nellie."
"I wish he and Mr. Lesher had kept their distance."
"Do you think they will really come here—I mean all of the sailors?"
"More than likely."
The girls continued their work, and for the time being Dan Baxter kept his distance. Jack Lesher continued to snore away in the hammock, nor did he rouse up when Dick and old Jerry returned.
"Dan Baxter!" cried Dick, as he leaped from the rowboat. "Where did you come from?" And then the story of the newcomers had to be told over again.
Dick eyed Jack Lesher with open disgust. "A man who will act like that has no welcome in our camp," he said to Baxter.
"You don't mean you are going to turn him out," said the bully, in alarm.
"If he stays here he must behave himself."
"You forget that he was the first mate of the schooner, Dick Rover."
"We are not on the schooner now."
"No, but you are getting your living—or the largest part of it—from the schooner."
"What do you mean, Baxter?"
"I mean that it's the same as if you were on the schooner. And that being so, Mr. Lesher is the second in command here."
At this statement the girls looked alarmed, and even old Jerry's face showed his uneasiness. But Dick's face was full of contempt.
"Do you mean to say that thing"—pointing to the drunken mate—"that thing can command any of us? If you do, let me say right now that you are mistaken."
"We'll see about that later."
"This is our camp, and it is not for you, the mate, or anybody else to come here and dictate to us. If you try that, we'll send you off in double-quick order."
There was a pause, and Dick and old Jerry began to unload the things they had brought from the wreck. They had found a large cake of ice. But the coming of Baxter and Jack Lesher had taken away the pleasure of making lemonade and orange ice, and the lump was placed in some water to cool it for drinking purposes.
As soon as Grace could get the chance she told Dick of the way Dan Baxter had treated Dora. At once Dick's face took on a stern look that boded the bully no good.
"I'll have a talk with him and come to an understanding," said the eldest Rover, and strode out of the house and to where Baxter was walking up the beach, picking up fancy-colored sea-shells.
"Look here, Baxter, I want to have an understanding with you," he said, catching the bully by the arm.
"What do you want now?"
"I want you to promise to leave Dora Stanhope alone in the future."
"How I treat her is none of your business," blustered the bully.
"But it is my business, Baxter."
"See here, Dick Rover, I won't be bossed by you!" howled the tall youth. "You mind your own business."
"If you touch her again, there will be trouble."
"What will you do?"
"I'll give you the worst thrashing you ever had in your life."
"Two can play at that game."
"There will be only one in this game."
"Do you want to fight me?"
"I am perfectly willing," responded Dick recklessly. His anger was deep at that moment.
"All right then, come on!" howled Baxter savagely, and, squaring off, he aimed a blow at Dick's face.
The attack was so sudden that Dick could scarcely prepare for it, and though he dodged, Baxter's fist landed glancingly on his cheek.
"There you are, and here's another!" cried the bully, and his other fist shot out, catching Dick on the shoulder.
But now the oldest Rover was on his guard, and in a twinkle he let drive, taking Dan Baxter in the eye. It was a staggering blow, and made the bully gasp with pain. Then Dick fol lowed it up by a crashing blow on the chin, which sent the bully reeling into the low water on the beach.
"Don't—don't run me into the ocean!" he spluttered, and, watching his chance, ran out of the water and up the beach.
But Dick was now thoroughly aroused, and he made after Baxter. When he got close enough, he put out his foot and sent the bully sprawling. Baxter came down on some rough sea-shells, cutting his face and hands in several places.
"Oh! oh!" he howled. "Stop it!"
"I will not stop it, Dan Baxter, until you promise to let Dora Stanhope and the other girls alone in the future. They want nothing to do with you, and you must keep your distance."
"I—I didn't hurt anybody."
"Do you promise to let them alone?"
Without replying, the bully staggered to his feet. The blood was running from his nose and from a cut on his chin, and both of his hands were also bleeding.
"Do you want to kill me, Dick Rover?"
"I want you to behave yourself. Come, now, are you going to promise?"
"What if I don't?"
"Then I'll give you the thrashing I promised."
"All right, I'm cornered, and can't help myself."
"Will you let the girls alone in the future?"
"Yes. If they don't want to be friends, I'm sure I can get along without them," answered Baxter sulkily.
"Very well; now see that you keep your promise. If you don't, I'll run you out of camp and never let you come near us again."
With these words Dick turned on his heel and walked away, leaving Baxter to wash his cuts and bruises in the ocean and otherwise care for them as best he could.