The Rover Boys on Land and Sea/Chapter 20
THE MATE TRIES TO TAKE COMMAND
The fight had taken place around a bend of the shore, so that it was not observed by old Jerry and the girls. But when Dick got back to camp Dora at once noticed that something unusual had happened.
"What is wrong, Dick?" she asked.
"Oh, nothing much, Dora. I merely made Dan Baxter promise to keep his distance in the future."
"Did you have a fight?"
"It didn't amount to much. He had to give in pretty quickly."
"Oh, Dick!" She caught his arm.
"I won't have him annoying you, or the others, Dora."
"You are so good!" she whispered.
Supper was ready, and they sat down, leaving Jack Lesher still in the hammock. They had nearly finished when Dan Baxter came shuffling along.
"Do you want some supper?" asked Dick. "If you do, come on."
"I don't want anything more to-night," growled the bully, and sat down beside Jack Lesher.
It was rather an uncomfortable evening. The thoughts of each of the party were busy. At the first opportunity Dick called old Jerry to one side.
"Jerry, we must watch those two fellows closely," he said. "Right ye are, Dick."
"I am afraid Lesher will be ugly when he wakes up."
"More'n likely, lad—he always was on board ship. The drink gives him an awful temper."
"I am going to put the liquor where he can't get it."
"He'll make ye give it to him."
"Will he? Just you wait and see," replied Dick firmly.
It was decided to let Lesher rest in the hammock all night. Baxter was given a cot in the living room of the house. Soon all had retired, and the camp was quiet for the night.
Dan Baxter was the first to stir in the morning. His cuts smarted so he could not sleep, and he walked out to bathe them and put on some salve Nellie had generously turned ovef to him. He found Jack Lesher stirring.
"Hullo!" grumbled the mate, sitting up and yawning. "Where am I?"
"Don't you know we struck camp?" answered Baxter.
"Oh, yes, I remember now. Got some good liquor, too. Where is that bottle?"
"You emptied it, Lesher."
"Did I? Too bad! I'll have to find an other. Where are the girls?"
"Asleep in the house, and so are Dick Rover and old Jerry Tolman."
"What of Cap'n Blossom and them other Rover boys?"
"They are not expected back for several days."
"Humph! Say, I feel bad, I do. I must have something to brace me up."
"You'd better not disturb them, Lesher. They are mighty stiff-necked since they landed here."
"What do you mean?"
"They gave me to understand yesterday that they were going to run things to suit themselves. They are not going to let us interfere in any thing."
"I like that!" The mate yawned again, rose, and stretched himself. "Baxter, do you know where they keep the liquor?"
"I'm bound to have what I want. Didn't it all come from the Golden Wave, and aint I the first mate of that craft?"
"To be sure you are, Lesher."
"They can't make me take a back seat," went on the mate. His head was still far from clear.
"I told them that you were second in command—Captain Blossom being first—but they wouldn't listen. They said they were on land, and you didn't count."
"Don't I count!" cried Jack Lesher, his blood-shot eyes taking on an ugly look. "I'll show 'em!"
Just then old Jerry came from the house. Jack Lesher staggered toward him.
"Ahoy there!" he called out.
"What do you want, Mr. Lesher?" questioned old Jerry, and touched his forelock.
"Bring me some liquor, and be quick about it."
"I haven't any liquor."
"I said I haven't any liquor."
"Aint there any more liquor ashore?"
"If there is, I don't know where it is."
"Then find out, and be quick about it, or I'll give you the rope's-end!" roared the unreasonable mate.
The loud talking aroused Dick, and he soon came out.
"What's the matter here?" he asked. "Oh, so you have woke up," he went on to Jack Lesher.
"Yes, I'm awake, Rover. And I want to know where the liquor has been placed."
"It's been placed where you won't get hold of it, Mr. Lesher."
"What! This to me!" yelled the mate, in fury. "To me, the first mate!"
"A first mate doesn't count for anything here. This is a private camp, and if you don't behave yourself we'll pitch you out of it."
"You—you——" Jack Lesher could not go on, and shook his fist in Dick's face.
"I told you what they intended to do," whispered Dan Baxter in Lesher's ear. "They have the upper hand and mean to keep it. But don't forget that we have nine sailors in our camp to back us up," he went on suggestively.
"Don't grow abusive, Mr. Lesher," said Dick as calmly as he could. "Just think the matter over. It may save a good deal of trouble."
"I don't have to think it over!" bellowed the mate. "During Cap'n Blossom's absence I am in command, just as much as if we were on the deck of the wreck over there. You were only passengers, but Jerry Tolman was a sailor, and he's under my command. I told him to bring me some liquor, and he has got to do it. If he won't obey, it's mutiny, just you remember that!" And he shook his finger warningly in old Jerry's face.
"I told ye I don't know where the liquor is," answered old Jerry doggedly.
"And he tells the truth," said Dick. "I put it away myself."
"Then I command you to bring it to me."
"I told you before your commands don't hold water here. Even old Jerry hasn't got to obey you. When the Golden Wave was abandoned that ended your authority. We have simply made Captain Blossom our leader because he acted fair and square. But we don't have to obey him if we don't want to."
"What of the nine sailors who are with me?"
"We'll be pleased to give them their full share of what is on the wreck, and if they behave themselves they can build a camp right next to this one. But you must remember that we discovered the wreck first, and that Captain Blossom was the only man left on board."
"We'll see what the men have to say about this," growled Lesher. "Then you aint going to give me no liquor?"
"You can have one glass with your breakfast, and that is all. After this you can have the regulation ship's grog, with the other sailors. But getting drunk has got to be stopped, even if we have to dump all the liquor into the ocean."
By this time the girls had appeared on the scene, and the talk came to an end, Dick turning in to help get breakfast. Jack Lesher walked down to the beach, followed by Dan Baxter.
"You see, it is just as I told you," said Baxter. "They are going to ride right over us."
"They wouldn't ride over us if I had those other sailors here," growled the mate.
"Or if we were armed," went on the bully. "I tried to get hold of a pistol, but Dick Rover watches me like a cat watches a mouse."
"If we could get to the wreck we might arm ourselves," said Lesher. "Here is a boat; let us row over."
"I'm willing," answered the bully.
They walked to the boat, shoved it into the water, and leaped in. Just as Lesher picked up the oars Dick saw what they were doing.
"Stop!" he cried.
"What do you want?" growled the mate.
"Where are you going?"
"Over to the wreck."
"That is our business," put in Dan Baxter. "You shan't go over there until Captain Blossom comes back."
"We'll go when we please," said Lesher, and started to row away.
"Come back, I say!" cried Dick, and, rushing into the house, he appeared with a shot gun.
"What are you going to do, Dick Rover?" questioned Baxter in alarm.
"I am going to make you come back," was the oldest Rover's very quiet, but determined, answer.