The Rover Boys on Land and Sea/Chapter 7

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"Thank fortune we got away horn the yacht just in time!" exclaimed Tom, as he shook the water from his clothes.

"I'm sorry to see the Old Glory go," said Captain Jerry sadly. "I thought a heap o' that craft, I did. It will be sorry news to take back to Master Bob."

"Never mind, we'll help pay for the loss," put in Dick.

"Where are you folks from?" questioned the captain of the steamer, as he came up to the crowd.

"We came from Santa Barbara. The storm took our mast, and blew us out to sea," answered Dick. "We owe you something for picking us up."

"You're welcome for what I've done," answered Captain Fairleigh. "Come with me, and I'll try to get you some dry clothing. I can trick out the men folks, and the young ladies will have to see my wife, who happens to be with me on this trip."

"What steamer is this?" asked Tom.

"The Tacoma, lad."

"Are you bound for San Francisco?" questioned Sam.

"No, we are bound for Honolulu, on the Hawaiian Islands."

"Honolulu!" burst out the others.

"Do you mean to say that the first port you will make will be Honolulu?" demanded Dick.

"That's my orders, lad. I must get there just as quick as I can, too, for a cargo of sugar."

"But we don't want to go to the Hawaiian Islands!" put in Dora. "Mercy! It's two thousand miles away!"

At this Captain Fairleigh shrugged his broad shoulders.

"I am sorry for you, but I can't put back, miss. Perhaps we'll meet some vessel bound for some port in the United States. If so, I can ask the captain to take you back."

"And if you don't meet any vessel?" came from Grace.

"Oh, I think we'll pass some vessel," returned the captain.

He took the girls and introduced them to his wife, and then turned the boys and old Jerry over to the first mate, who obtained for them some dry clothing. After this all were provided with a hot supper, which did much toward making them comfortable, at least physically speaking.

But not one of them was comfortable mentally. To be carried to the Hawaiian Islands, two thousand miles away, was no pleasant thought. Besides, what would their folks think of their prolonged absence?

"Mother will think that we have all been drowned," said Dora.

"And that is what our folks will think, too," said Nellie. "Oh, it is terrible, simply terrible!" And she wrung her little hands.

By making inquiries Dick learned that the steamer was expected to reach Honolulu inside of two weeks, if the weather was not too bad. From Honolulu they could get passage to San Francisco on the mail steamer, the trip lasting exactly seven days.

"We'll have to get some money first," said Tom. "And we can't cable for it, either," he went on, for the cable to the Hawaiian Islands from the United States had not yet been laid.

"Let us hope that we will see some ship that will take us back," said Sam.

Day after day they watched eagerly for a passing sail. But though they sighted four vessels and hailed them, not one was bound for the United States, outside of a whaler, and that craft intended to stay out at least three months longer before making for port.

"We are booked for this trip, and no mistake," sighed Tom. "Well, since that is so, let us make the best of it."

The Tacoma was heavily laden, and though the storm cleared away and the Pacific Ocean became moderately calm, she made but slow progress.

"Our boilers are not in the best of condition," said Captain Fairleigh.

"I trust there is no danger of their blowing up," returned Dick.

"Not if we don't force them too much."

It had been arranged that the boys and girls should pay a fair price for the trip to Honolulu, the money to be sent to the captain of the Tacoma later on. As for old Jerry, he signed articles to work his passage to the Hawaiian Islands and back again. As Captain Fairleigh was rather short of hands he was glad to have the old sailor join his crew.

The days slipped by, and, having recovered from the effects of the storm, the Rover boys became as light hearted as ever. Tom was par ticularly full of pranks.

"No use of crying over spilt milk," he declared. "Let us be thankful the pitcher wasn't broken, or, in other words, that we are not at this moment at the bottom of the Pacific."

"Right you are," replied Sam.

There was an old piano on board, and the boys and girls often amused themselves at this, singing and playing. As there were no other passengers, they had the freedom of the ship.

"This would be real jolly," said Tom, "if it wasn't that the folks at home must be worried," and then he began to sing, for he really could not be sad:

"A life on the ocean wave,
A home on the rolling deep,
A house in a watery cave—
Where I might rest in sleep!"

"Did you ever hear such a song?" cried Nellie, and Tom went on:

"The boy stood on the burning deck,
Munching apples by the peck;
The captain yelled, he stood stock-still,
For of those apples he wanted his fill!"

"Tom Rover!" burst out Dora. "I believe you would sing at your own funeral!" And Tom continued gayly:

"Sailing, sailing, over the bounding main,
For many a stormy wind shall blow,
Ere the Rovers get home again!"

"Tom lives on songs," said Sam slyly. "He'd rather sing than eat a pie."

"Pie!" thundered Tom tragically. "Who said pie? I haven't seen a home-made pie since—since——"

"The time you went down in the pantry at midnight and ate two," finished Dick, and then there was a burst of laughter.

"Never mind, Tom, I'll make you half a dozen pies—when we get home," came from Nellie.

"Will you really?" said Tom, and then he began once more, as gayly as ever:

"You can give me pudding
And give me cake,
And anything else
You care to bake;
But if you wish
To charm my eye,
Just hand me over
Some home-made pie!"

"That's all right," said Dick. "But in place of eye you should have said stomach."

"Stomach doesn't rhyme with pie," snorted Tom. "I'm a true poet and I know what I am doing."

"Talking about pie makes me think of pie-plates," said Sam. "Let us play spinning the plate on deck. It will be lots of fun trying to catch the plate while it is spinning and the steamer is rolling."

"Good!" cried Grace, and ran to get a plate from the cook's galley. Soon they were playing merrily, and the game served to make an hour pass pleasantly. When the forfeits had to be redeemed, the girls made the boys do several ridiculous things. Tom had to hop from one end of the deck to the other on one foot, Sam had to stand on his head, and recite "Mary had a Little Lamb," and Dick had to go to three of the sailors and ask each if they would tie the ship to a post during the night.

"I'll wager you are a merry crowd on land," said Captain Fairleigh, as he paused to watch the fun. "Takes me back to the time when I was a boy," and he laughed heartily. Even the captain's wife was amused. She was particularly fond of music, and loved to listen to the playing and singing.

The days slipped by one after the other, until Captain Fairleigh announced that forty-eight hours more ought to bring them in sight of Diamond Head, a high hill at the entrance to Honolulu harbor.

But another storm was at hand, and that night the wind blew more fiercely than ever. The Tacoma tossed and pitched to such a degree that standing on the deck was next to impossible, and all of the boys and the girls gathered in the cabin and held fast to the posts and the stationary seats.

"It feels as if the steamer would roll clear over," said Sam. "Here we go again!"

There was thunder and lightning, and soon a deluge of rain, fully as heavy as that experienced while on board of the ill-fated Old Glory. This continued all of the night, and in the morning the storm seemed to grow worse instead of better.

"We are in a run of bad luck," said Dick. "I really believe we will have all sorts of trouble before we get back to the United States."

Toward noon a mist came up, and it grew dark. Lanterns were lit, and the Tacoma felt her way along carefully, for Captain Fairleigh knew that they were now in the track of considerable shipping.

By nightfall the steamer lay almost at a stand still, for the mist was thicker than ever. For safety the whistle was sounded at short intervals.

The girls were the first to retire, and the boys followed half an hour later. The staterooms of all were close together.

Dick Rover was the last to go to sleep. How long he slept he did not know.

He awoke with a start. A shock had thrown him to the floor of the stateroom, and down came Sam on top of him. There were hoarse cries from the deck, a shrill steam whistle, and the sound of a fog horn, and then a grinding thud and a bump that told the Tacoma had either run into some other ship or into the rocks.