The Rover Boys on Land and Sea/Chapter 30
THE DEFENSE OF THE CAVE—SAVED!
"He has fainted, poor fellow!" said Dick, as he bent over the unconscious form of Bostwick.
"We ought to git back to the house at once!" put in old Jerry. "We must warn the cap'n and the others of what Lesher and his crowd intend to do."
"That is true, but we can't leave this poor chap here. He might die for the want of care," came from Tom.
"We'll take him along," said Dick. "Come, lift him up."
As carefully as they could they lifted the unconscious form up and bore it to where the rowboat was lying. Soon all were on board, and while Tom did his best to revive Bostwick, Dick and old Jerry bent their back to the oars, pulling as they had seldom pulled before.
The beach in front of the house was almost gained when they heard a shot ring out, followed by several others.
"Just as I feared!" groaned Dick. "Lesher and the others have begun the attack!"
"Then we'll have to be careful how we land," said old Jerry. "If we aint, we may run right into 'em!"
There was no moon, but the stars shone brightly, so the beach line was dimly visible in the distance. Standing up in the bow, Tom saw a flash of fire from the jungle below the house, and heard the crack of a firearm. Then he saw some dark forms running along the beach.
"Our party is making for the cave!" he cried. "We had better turn in that direction."
Several other shots followed, but they could not tell if anybody was hit. In the distance several rum-crazed sailors were yelling like so many Indians.
Bostwick came to his senses just as the sand was reached.
"Whe—where am I?" he asked feebly. "Oh, my feet!"
"We have brought you with us, Bostwick," answered Dick. "Keep still, and we will do what we can for you."
As soon as possible they took the hurt man up, and all started for the entrance to the cave.
"Who goes there?" cried a voice out of the darkness.
"Is that you, Sam?" called back Dick.
"Dick! I am glad you are back. They attacked the house, and we are going to the cave to——"
"Yes, we know all about it, Sam. We have brought one of the sailors along. He is badly burnt. Are the girls safe?"
"I guess so. We told them to go ahead," answered Sam.
Carrying Bostwick between them, Dick and old Jerry soon reached the cave, where they found the three girls standing in a group, each full of dread over what was occurring. Hardly had ihey gotten inside when Captain Blossom came up on a run, accompanied by Gibson and Marny.
"Back, are you?" he said. "I am glad to see it. But it may put you in a tight hole. Hullo, so you've got Bostwick with you, eh? Everybody get into the cave, just as quick as you can."
Once inside of the cave Captain Blossom commanded everybody to be silent. The hurt sailor was carried to the inner chamber, where a lantern was lit, for it would be impossible to see this light from outside. Then the girls set to work to make Bostwick comfortable.
"Has anybody been shot?" asked Tom.
"I got a bullet scratch on the arm," answered the captain. "And Marny got a few buck shot in his shoulder. But neither of the hurts amount to anything."
"What do you think the mutineers will do next?"
"Ransack the house first," said Sam. "Oh, but they are a bad crowd! They came on like a lot of demons."
"Of course Baxter was with them."
"Yes, but he kept in the background, for fear, I suppose, of being shot."
With caution one after another left the mouth of the cave to look in the direction of the house. No one outside of their own party was visible.
Suddenly a glare lit up the scene, growing brighter each instant.
"By the great boots!" ejaculated Captain Blossom. "They have set the house on fire!"
"That shows how crazy they are," declared Dick. "In their rage they are liable to do anything. Ten to one they get to fighting between themselves before this is over."
The house, being built of semi-green logs, burnt slowly. As it was consumed, they heard some of the sailors singing and yelling, and heard several pistol shots and a scream of pain. "Some of them are coming now!" announced Sam, half an hour later.
"Everybody get back out of sight," cried Captain Blossom.
There was a wild scramble, and in the rush Tom tripped and fell. His foot struck a stone, which went rolling down to the mutineers' feet.
"Hi! hi! there they are!" came in a rough, thick voice.
"Where?" roared back the voice of Jack Lesher.
"Up there, among the rocks and bushes."
"Let's go after 'em!"
"Shoot 'em down, boys! They deserve it for burning up the ship!"
Up the rocks came the half-drunken sailors, accompanied by Lesher, and with Dan Baxter in their rear.
"Back! back! All of you, stand back!" cried Captain Blossom. "Come a step nearer at your peril. We are all armed and ready to fire!"
At these words the sailors halted for a moment.
"Say, cap'n, why did you set the ship afire?" asked an unsteady voice.
"We had nothing to do with that," answered Captain Blossom. "We were all over on this island when the blaze started."
"It's a lie!" came in the voice of Lesher.
"Of course it's a lie," added Dan Baxter. "They did their best to burn every one of us up."
"It is the truth," cried Dick. "Now stand back, or we shall fire on you."
"Come on!" yelled Lesher, and fired a pistol at those near the mouth of the cave.
"If ever I get the chance to have you tried, every one of you shall be hung for mutiny and murder!" cried Captain Blossom, and then fired in return.
The bullet hit Dan Baxter in the arm, and he fell back with a shriek of pain.
"I am killed! I am killed!" he moaned, and ran down toward the beach.
Then came a volley from the mutineers, followed by one from those in the cave.
"Oh, what a close shave!" muttered Tom. A bullet had grazed his ear, cutting away one of his curly locks.
Lesher was wounded in the shoulder, and in a moment more of the mutineers ran off, feeling that they were at a disadvantage.
"They can see us out in the open, while we can't see them for the rocks and bushes," said one sailor. "Let us wait till morning"; and so it was decided.
Inside of the cave a council of war was held, and it was decided to block up the entrance fronting the bay with large rocks, leaving only two loopholes open, for watching and for possible shooting.
All of the wounded ones were cared for, and then a watch was set. In the meantime Bostwick was put at ease, and he told the particulars of what happened on the burning wreck, and how Lesher and Baxter had urged the mutineers to attack those at the house.
The remainder of the night wore away slowly. Nothing more was seen of the mutineers, who had retired to the jungle, drank more liquor, and gone to sleep, Baxter with them, moaning and groaning over his wound.
"I am going to take a look around," said: Tom, early in the morning.
"A look around where?" asked Dick.
"From where we have the signal of distress. I don't believe any of the mutineers are in that vicinity."
"I'll go with you," put in Sam, and so it was decided.
It was an easy matter for the two boys to make their way to the gully entrance, and with great caution they dimbed out of the opening and walked to where the flag of distress floated in the breeze. Not a sight of the mutineers otf Dan Baxter was to be had in any direction.
"They are either sleeping, or else they are afraid we'll shoot at them if they show themselves," said Tom. And he added: "I am going to climb the tree and take a look around."
"Be careful," cautioned Sam; nevertheless, he went up the tall tree with his brother.
Once in the tree, directly under the flag, they; took a careful look around the island and then out to sea.
"My gracious, Sam, look!" screamed Tom suddenly, and pointed out to the ocean.
"A ship! A ship!" ejaculated Sam.
"Yes, and do you see what kind of a ship it is? A warship, and an American warship at that!"
"Hurrah, Tom; we are saved!"
"Yes! yes! They are sailing this way. Our flag of distress has been seen! Hurrah!"
"We must tell the others right away."
Both slid down the tree with all haste. As they reached the bottom a gun boomed out across the waves.
"That is to let us know that our signal has been seen," said Tom. "Won't the others be delighted when they know a ship, an American ship at that, is so close at hand!"
As quickly as they could they re-entered the cave and ran to where they had left the others.
The good news spread like lightning.
"A ship! an American warship is coming!" was the cry.
"Oh, how thankful I am," came from Dora.
"What shall we do next?" asked Nellie, with tears of joy streaming down her cheeks.
"We'll go to the shore and meet the small boat that is sent in," answered Captain Blossom.
Without delay he set out, accompanied by Dick and old Jerry, leaving the others to defend the cave during his absence.
It was nearly two hours before he returned.
"The ship is the cruiser Jefferson," he said. "She is bound for Honolulu, to await orders. The captain says he will take us on board willingly, and he will do what he can to help us bring those other fellows to justice."
"Hurrah!" cried Tom. "If that is so, then our troubles as castaways are over."
"And we are not sorry," said Grace. "Not a bit sorry."
And all of the others agreed with her.
A few words more and I will bring to a close this story of the Rover boys' adventures on land and sea.
The captain of the warship was true to his word, and before nightfall all who had been in the cave were safe on board of the Jefferson. Those who were wounded or hurt were given the best of medical attention, and everybody was made comfortable.
"What attracted me to the islands was the bright reflection in the sky when the wreck was burnt," said the captain of the cruiser. "I thought perhaps that a volcano had become active. But at daybreak we saw nothing unusual, and were about to turn away when the look out discovered your flag of distress."
"What will you do about the mutineers and Dan Baxter?" asked Dick.
"We'll bring them to justice, if we can, lad."
When a visit was paid to the burnt house no body was in sight But in the woods nearby a wounded sailor was discovered. He was badly hurt, and, though given every care, died two days later while on shipboard.
"You'll have a job finding Lesher, Baxter, and the others," he said, when being attended. "They said they wouldn't give in to anybody, and when they learned the warship was here they rowed away in a boat for one of the other islands. They'll hide away until after you are gone."
"If that's the case, let them stay here," said Captain Blossom. "It will be punishment enough for them to live here without any stores."
"They may find those at the cave," said Tom.
"Even so, those stores won't last forever," said Dick. "Yes, they will be punished enough, for there is no telling when another ship will stop here and take them away."
"More than likely they'll have to remain here a year or two," said Captain Blossom.
Everything of value was taken to the warship, and twenty-four hours later the Jefferson steamed away on her journey to the Hawaiian Islands.
"How glad mother will be to learn that I am safe!" said Dora to Dick.
"It will be good news to all of our folks," answered Dick. "They will welcome us as from the grave."
"I hope we can get a steamer directly from Honolulu to San Francisco," said Tom. "Our little vacation has proved unusually long."
"Do you think that we will ever see Dan Baxter again?" questioned Sam.
"I hardly think so," said Dick. "After what has happened he will not dare to show his face again." But Dan Baxter did show himself, and what he did to harm the Rover boys in the future will be told in another volume of this series, entitled "The Rover Boys in Camp; or, The Rivals of Pine Island," in which we shall meet many of our old friends again. It may be as well to mention here that Baxter and two sailors escaped from the seven islands just one week after our friends left it. The others, including Jack Lesher, lost their lives while in a quarrel over the last bottle of rum which the mate had brought with him from the burning wreck. Their taking off was an awful example of the evils of intemperance.
It was soon seen that Bostwick was not seriously burnt, and before the trip to Honolulu was over he was able to sit up and to walk a little. The wounds of those who had been shot proved slight.
"We are well out of that adventure," said Tom one evening, as the Rover boys and the girls sat on the deck in the starlight. "And I don't know as I want to go through anything like it again."
"All I am thinking of is home, sweet home," said Sam.
"Just what was in my mind," answered Dick. "How father and Uncle Randolph and Aunt, Martha will welcome us!"
"Let us sing," put in Dora, and in a moment more all were singing the first verse of "Home, Sweet Home"; and here let us bid them good-by.