The Rover Boys on Land and Sea/Chapter 21

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The appearance of Dick with the shot-gun disturbed Jack Lesher quite as much as it did Dan Baxter, and the mate stopped rowing instantly.

"Hi! don't you fire at us!" he cried.

"Then come back here," said Dick.

"Haven't I a right to visit the wreck?"

"I am not sure that you have. Anyway, you must wait until Captain Blossom returns."

"It seems to me that you are carrying matters with a high hand, young fellow."

"Oh, Dick, be careful!" whispered Dora. "They may become desperate."

"Don't worry, Dora," he whispered in return. Unless I miss my guess, one is as big a coward as the other."

"I hope ye aint goin' too far, Dick," said old Jerry, in a low tone.

"Don't you intend to stand by me, Jerry?"

"To be sure I do; but the mate is the mate, ye know."

There was an uncertain pause all around.

"There is no harm in my visiting the wreck," growled Jack Lesher presently.

"Perhaps not, but you had better wait until Captain Blossom gets back."

"I only want to get some things that belong to me."

"And I want to get my extra clothes," said Baxter. "These are in rags, as you can see."

"Then wait until after breakfast and we'll all go over," said Dick, but he had scarcely spoken when he felt sorry for the words.

"Oh, Dick, don't trust yourself with them!" cautioned Dora.

"We want to hurry, for I want to go back to where I left the sailors before night," answered Lesher.

"Then we'll have breakfast at once."

Rather reluctantly the mate turned back to the shore and he and Baxter left the boat. Then the girls prepared breakfast with all haste. Lesher ate but little, but eagerly tossed off the glass of liquor Dick allowed him.

"Give me one more," he pleaded, but Dick was firm, and the mate stalked away muttering under his breath.

Before Dick entered the rowboat he called Jerry aside, and handed the old sailor a pistol.

"We had better go armed," he said. "Keep your eyes open, for they may try to play us a foul trick. And don't let Lesher talk you into obeying him. He has no authority whatever over you."

"All right, Dick, I'll stand by ye always from this minit on," said Jerry, and the compact was sealed by a handshake.

The girls came down to see them off, and Dora warned Dick again to be on guard. It was decided that Lesher and old Jerry should do the rowing. Baxter sat in the bow of the boat, and Dick in the stern.

The trip to the wreck was accomplished in almost utter silence. Everybody was busy with his thoughts. As they drew near Dick showed the mate where a ladder hung from the side, and as they drew close to this Baxter was the first to mount to the deck.

As Dick had surmised, Lesher's first hunt was for liquor, and he drank several glasses at a gulp. Then he began to roam around the wreck, not ing the damage that had been done and the amount of stores still on board.

"Might float her, if the tide got extra high," he said. "Eleven men in our crowd and five in your own ought to be able to do something, surely."

"The captain says the ship is too deep in the sand," answered Dick briefly.

"Blossom don't know everything," growled the mate.

Both he and Baxter soon found some comfortable clothing, and put it on. Then they made up a bundle of things they said the other sailors needed.

When arming themselves, the Rovers and Captain Blossom had placed all of the remaining firearms in a stateroom and locked the door.

"What did you do with all of the guns and pistols?" asked Lesher presently, after looking in vain for them.

"They are packed away in a stateroom. Captain Blossom thought it wouldn't do to leave them lying loose. Some savages might come to the islands and steal them, and then we'd be in a bad hole."

"We've got to have some guns and pistols, Rover."

"Well, you can see the captain about that."

"I shan't wait. Which stateroom are they in?"

Dick would not tell the mate, and Lesher went around trying the various doors. Coming to one that was locked he burst it open with his shoulder.

Dick scarcely knew what to do, and while he was trying to make up his mind Jack Lesher secured a pistol and a rifle, and also a pistol for Dan Baxter. He would have taken more firearms, but Dick stopped him.

"That is enough," he said.

"I want some for the men," said the first mate.

"They can get pistols from Captain Blossom when they get here."

"Humph! You think you are in sole command, don't you?"

"I am not going to allow you to take away all the firearms that are here, Mr. Lesher."

"We'll see."

The mate went into the pantry and secured another glass of liquor. Then he ordered old Jerry to take the bundle of clothing and put it in the rowboat.

"I've got some money on this schooner," he said. "I want to see if that's safe, or if you have stolen it."

"We haven't touched any money," answered Dick, his face flushing. "It would be of no use to us on these islands."

"You come with me while I take a look," said Lesher.

Behind his back he waved his hand for Baxter to follow. All three went below again, and into a stateroom the mate had occupied.

"The money was in that chest," said the mate. He threw open the lid. "It's gone!" he cried.

Interested for the moment, Dick bent forward to look in the chest. As he did so, Lesher suddenly hit him a savage blow over the head with the butt of a pistol. The blow was a heavy one, and Dick fell like a log to the floor.

"Oh!" came from Baxter. "Have you killed him?"

"No; only knocked the senses out of him," answered Lesher, bending over his victim.

"What did you do it for?"

"To teach him a lesson. He shan't boss me, Baxter. Come, help me put him in the brig, and be quick, before Jerry comes back."

They lifted up the insensible form and made their way to where the ship's brig was located, a dirty closet once used for oil and lanterns. Dick was thrown on the floor, and the mate shut' the door on him and locked it.

"Now he can stay there for a day or two," he snarled. "Reckon it will teach him a lesson."

"What will you do with the sailor?"

Before Lesher could answer old Jerry appeared.

"Where is Dick Rover?" he asked.

"None of your business," growled Jack Lesher. "See here, Tolman, are you going to obey me after this?"

"I want to know where Dick is?" said old Jerry stubbornly.

"I put him in the brig to cool off. He's too hot-headed for his own good."

"You had no right to lock him up, Mr. Lesher. You must let him out at once."

"Git out of here, quick!" roared Lesher. "On deck, or I'll flog you well!"

"Ye won't tech me!" cried Jerry, his temper rising. "I aint under orders no more, mind that. Now you let him out, or I'll do it. You was a fool to lock him up in the first place."

He moved toward the brig, but Lesher caught him by the arm.

"Let's teach this chap a lesson, too!" came from Baxter, and, like a flash, he struck old Jerry in the back of the head. The first blow was followed by a second, and down went the tar, the blood oozing from one of his wounds.

"Don't hit him again!" cried Lesher hastily. "He's out already."

Baxter grew pale, thinking he had gone too far. But he soon discovered that Jerry still breathed, and then he felt relieved.

It was decided by the pair that they should place old Jerry beside Dick in the brig, and this was quickly done. Then they put into the prison a bucket of drinking water and a can of ship's biscuits, and another of baked beans.

"They won't starve on that," said Lesher. "And when they get out they'll understand that I am as much of a master here as anybody."

"It serves Dick Rover right," said Baxter. "He's the kind that ought to be kept under foot all the time."