"Is this ship the Eagle?"
"Are you sure now? I don't want any mistake made. I don't see the name on it anywhere."
"It is on the bows and under the stern."
Bob rather prided himself on this nautical knowledge.
"Hum! Well, perhaps it may be. You are positive it is the Eagle?"
"Yes, sir. Positive. A distant relative of my mother is the captain."
"Is it Captain Spark?"
"Are you sure? I don't want to be on the wrong ship."
"Yes, sir, I am very sure, I came on board with him. Are you going to sail on the ship?" asked Bob politely.
"I expect to, if this is the right vessel. I wish I was sure. Perhaps you might be mistaken," and he glanced nervously around.
"No, I am positive. There is Captain Spark now," he added as the commander came up a companionway.
"Oh, yes. I shall speak to him."
The nervous man started off. Just then Captain Spark, having received his clearance papers by messenger, gave orders to cast off. The Eagle was about to sail.
"All ashore that's going ashore!" called the first mate.
The 'longshoreman started down the gangplank which was about to be hauled in.
"Wait, I must pay you!" called the nervous passenger, turning back toward the man who had brought his trunk aboard.
The 'longshoreman waited.
"Cast off that stern line!" shouted the captain.
"Oh, dear! I wish I was sure this was the Eagle!" spoke the nervous passenger.
"It is," Bob assured him, smiling at the man's manner. First he would advance a little way toward the captain, intending to ask him the momentous question; then he would turn toward the 'longshoreman, who was waiting for his money.
"Lively with that gangplank now!" ordered the commander.
"Oh, if I have made a mistake and gotten on the wrong ship it will be terrible," murmured the man.
"Why don't you throw off that stern line?" again shouted the captain.
"What shall I do?" exclaimed the nervous man.
"If you're goin' t' pay me, your honor, you'll have t' hustle," advised the 'longshoreman.
"I will, my man. Never mind touching your hat. Oh, you are not carrying my trunk now; I forgot. Here's a dollar. Never mind the change."
"All ashore that's going ashore!" yelled Mr. Carr again.
Up came the gangplank. The 'longshoreman leaped over the side of the ship and landed on the dock. There was a puffing from the tug that had been engaged to pull the Eagle out into the channel.
"Are you sure this is the right ship?" appealed the man to Bob once more.
"Positively yes, sir. Anyhow, it's too late now."
"Too late? How? What do you mean?"
"I mean that we're under way now."
The nervous passenger ran to the side and looked over. True enough, the Eagle was some distance from the wharf. The tug was straining on the big hawser. The ship had begun her long voyage around Cape Horn.
SOME JOKES ON BOB
Seeing that he was now indeed afloat, and that the ship was some distance from land, the man became more nervous than ever. He paced up and down the deck, looking anxiously at the fast-receding shore.
Suddenly he ran toward the bow of the ship and leaned far over the rail.
"Hey there!" yelled Bob, thinking the man was going to Jump overboard and swim ashore. "What are you doing?"
"I was trying to see the name of the vessel," answered the man, whose face was now red instead of pale, caused by his exertion in bending over the rail.
"You can't see it by leaning over," replied Bob. "It's painted away up by the figurehead."
"I know I can't see it," answered the nervous passenger. "Oh, I wish I was sure."
"I tell you you're on the Eagle," declared Bob. "Can't you take my word?"
"When you get as old as I am, and have been through as much trouble, you'll never take anybody's word for anything," was the answer. "I must be sure. I'm off for a long voyage, and I don't want to make a mistake."
"You're not making any mistake if you want to be aboard the Eagle. Here comes Captain Spark now. You can ask him."
At that moment the commander, having seen his vessel well under way, came to where Bob and the nervous passenger were standing.
"Is this Mr. Hiram Tarbill?" asked the mariner, holding out his hand.
"Yes, sir. Are you Captain Jeremiah Spark?"
"That's who I am."
"Is this the schooner Eagle, bound around Cape Horn?"
"Yes, sir, with a mixed cargo consigned to various firms in Lima, Peru. Would you like to look at my papers?"
"No, I guess it's all right," and Mr. Tarbill seemed much relieved. "You see, my train was late," he went on, "and I came aboard in such a hurry that I was not sure I was on the right ship. I dislike to make mistakes, especially as my health is not very good."
"Yes, you're on the right ship," Captain Spark assured Mr. Tarbill. "Now if you'll come with me I'll show you to your stateroom. But first let me introduce to you a relative of mine," and he presented Bob.
"Yes, I have been talking with him," said Mr. Tarbill. "He assured me I was on the right vessel, but I did not know whether he knew or not."
"Oh, yes, Bob knows that much about the ship. But he's going to learn more soon."
The captain conducted the nervous passenger to the stateroom set apart for him and then came back on deck.
"What do you think of him?" he asked Bob.
"He seems all right, but very nervous."
"That's the trouble. He's too nervous. His doctor recommended him to take a long sea voyage to see if it would cure him. I think it will. I never knew a sailor who was nervous, and it's all because of the salt water. Now, Bob, amuse yourself as best you can until the tug drops us. I have several matters to attend to. After a bit I'll give you some regular duties to perform every day. They will not be hard, but I shall expect you to perform them as well as you are able. While in the main this is a pleasure trip for you, undertaken for a purpose with which you are familiar, I want you to derive some benefit from it. Don't you think that wise?"
"Yes, sir," answered Bob, who had formed several good resolutions regarding his future conduct.
"Very well, then. You can roam about the ship at your pleasure until I am ready for you."
Now a ship is one of the best places in the world for the circulation of news. It is a little village in itself, and what happens in the captain's cabin, though there may be a desire to keep it secret, is soon known in the forecastle, or "fo'kesel," as the sailors pronounce it. Consequently it was not long before it was known that Bob was being sent on the voyage to reform him for certain roguish tricks to which he was addicted. This was known to the majority of the crew before the ship sailed.
Consequently they were not only on their guard against any pranks which the boy might try to perpetrate, but several of the younger men resolved to give Bob a taste of his own medicine.
There was some whispering among members of the crew as they observed Bob strolling about the deck, and one of the men said something to Mr. Carr. The first mate nodded and smiled. A little later, as Bob was watching the men coil up the big hawser which the tug had cast off, the Eagle now proceeding along under her own sails, one of the sailors stepped up to him.
"Would you mind doing us a favor?" he asked respectfully.
"Of course not. I'll do anything I can for you," answered Bob, glad to make the closer acquaintance of the men.
"Then would you kindly go to Captain Spark and ask him for a left-handed marlinspike? We need it to splice this hawser with. He keeps it in his cabin because there's only one on board and it's quite a valuable instrument."
The man spoke as gravely as a judge.
"A left-handed marlinspike?" repeated Bob. "I suppose one of the sailors must be left-handed," he thought.
He knew what a marlinspike was from having seen the men use the sharp-pointed irons to pick apart the strands of rope preparatory to splicing, so, anxious to be of service, he hurried to Captain Spark's cabin.
"The men sent me for a left-handed marlinspike," he said, interrupting the commander, who was busy over his accounts.
"A left-handed marlinspike," repeated the commander, at once understanding the joke.
"I'm sorry," was the answer, gravely given, "but I lost it overboard a while ago. You'd better go to Mr. Carr and ask him for the scuttle-butt. That will do as well."
"Yes, sir," replied Bob, who, not suspecting anything, hunted up the first mate and made his request.
"You'll find it right over there," said Mr. Carr, pointing to a big water barrel on deck. It was one from which the sailors drank. "If it's too heavy for you, you'd better get help," said Mr. Carr, trying not to smile. But Bob was aware now that he had been made the butt of a joke, and though he felt a little embarrassed, he had to laugh in spite of himself.
"That's pretty good," he said. "A left-handed marlinspike turns into a scuttle-butt, and that turns into a water barrel. I've got lots to learn yet."
He could hear the sailors laughing at the trick they had played, with the consent of the first mate, and with a grim smile Bob resolved to get even.
BOB TRIES A PRANK
The Eagle was sailing along under a spanking breeze, and already the motion of Old Briny was beginning to make itself felt. The vessel rolled to a considerable degree, and as she passed farther and farther out to sea this became more pronounced.
Bob, who had been active in visiting different parts of the ship, watching the sailors at their duties, and picking up bits of information here and there, soon got over his little indignation against those who had played the joke on him. But he soon became conscious of another feeling.
This was a decidedly uneasy one, and for the first time since he had begun to think of the voyage Bob began to fear he was going to be seasick.
"I certainly do feel queer," said our hero to himself as he leaned against the railing amidships. "I wonder what I'd better do? Perhaps I'm moving around too much. I'll keep quiet."
He sat down on a hatch cover and tried to think of other things. The sea was beginning to turn blue—the blue of deep water—and the sun was shining brightly. There was a strong wind and a healthful smell of salt in the air.
Still Bob did not appear to care for any of those things. His own feelings seemed to increase.
"Sitting still is worse than moving around," he began to think.
Just then Mr. Carr passed the boy.
"What's the matter?" he asked. "You look rather white about the gills, messmate."
"I—I don't feel very well," replied Bob.
"Better go and lie down then. I guess you're in for a spell of seasickness. Mr. Tarbill has already got his."
Bob thought it would be best to follow the advice. He went to his berth, and soon he was a very sick boy. He would have given up all his chances of rounding the Horn—yes, he would even have sacrificed his share in the rather mythical treasure of Captain Obed—if he could only have found some place that was not heaving, pitching and tossing. But the ship rolled on, and the motion seemed to increase rather than diminish.
It was a week before Bob was entirely well. During that time he stayed in his bunk, but Captain Spark saw to it that the boy was well looked after and doctored with such simple remedies as are used in that common form of illness, which attacks nearly all who first venture upon the sea.
At the end of the week Bob found that he could stand up without feeling his head go buzzing around. He ventured out on deck, and the salt breeze brought some color into his pale cheeks.
"You sort of look as if you had been drawn through a knothole," remarked Tom Manton, one of the sailors.
"Yes, old Father Neptune has been playing tricks on him, I reckon," added Sam Bender, the second mate.
"I feel as if I had been drawn through two knot-holes, one right after the other," spoke Bob, with an attempt at a smile.
"You'll soon be all right again now," comforted Tom. "Get a little salt horse and sea biscuit down for a foundation, and you can build up on that the finest thing in the way of a meal you ever saw."
For the first time since his illness Bob could think of food without a shudder. He really began to feel hungry. The old sailor proved a good prophet. Bob began to mend steadily, and in a few days he was as active as ever—more so, in fact.
"Now's the time to look for trouble," remarked Captain Spark to his mate one day.
"Bob is himself again. He'll be up to some tricks or I'm a Dutchman. But we must meet him half way. Give him back some of his own coin. He's on this voyage to be cured, and I'm going to do it If I have to keelhaul him."
"I guess the men will be only too anxious to do their share. They like Bob, but he mustn't play too many pranks on them."
"No. Well, I guess they can look out for themselves."
"I guess so," answered the mate with a smile. Later that day Captain Spark instructed Bob in some simple duties which would be his to perform during the voyage. He was to act in the capacity of cabin boy.
Now that Bob was in his usual spirits he began to feel an inclination to be at some of his pranks. He thought, with a sigh, that he had not played a good joke since the affair of the step-ladder, the cook and the hired man. So he began to look about and consider the possibilities of indulging in some pranks,
But Bob had about made up his mind not to bother the sailors. He was a little afraid of them, as they were big, strong men, and he had a suspicion that they were only waiting for him to begin operations before they would do something on their own account. Bob had an idea they might tie him to a rope, throw him overboard and duck him.
That, he thought, would be pretty harsh treatment.
"I wish Mr. Tarbill would come from his stateroom," Bob mused. "I guess it would be safe to play a little joke on him. I've simply got to have some fun."
Mr. Tarbill had suffered very much from seasickness, though he was now recovered. He came on deck the next day, but he was more nervous than ever.
"Oh, my!" he exclaimed as a big wave struck the Eagle, heeling her over considerably. "Are we going down?"
"Oh, I guess not," replied Bob confidently. He and Mr. Tarbill were together on the quarterdeck. The nervous passenger's fears gave Bob an idea.
"I'll give him a real scare," thought the boy. "Maybe it will cure him of being nervous."
My reader can easily understand that Bob had one thought for Mr. Tarbill and two for himself.
The boy considered matters a few minutes, during which time the nervous passenger seemed to grow more and more frightened of the big waves, which had been piled up by quite a heavy blow the previous night.
Presently Bob went to the after-rail and looked intently into the water. Then he uttered an exclamation.
"Oh! Oh!" he cried. "It's coming right after us! Have you a revolver, Mr. Tarbill?"
"A revolver? What for? What is coming after us, my dear young friend?"
"A big whale! He's just under the surface of the water! He's trying to break off the rudder! Quick, give me your revolver!"
"I haven't any! Oh, dear! I'm so nervous! Do you think he will damage the ship, my dear young friend?"
"I'm afraid so! Look out! Hold on! Here he comes!"
Bob pretended to grasp the rail to prevent being tossed overboard by the expected shock. Mr. Tarbill did the same, and with anxious fears waited for what would happen next. Then the ship seemed to give a great shiver as a big wave struck under the port bow.
"He's hit us!" cried Bob, trying not to laugh.
"Quick! Get me a life-preserver!" exclaimed Mr. Tarbill. "A life-preserver! The ship is sinking!"
"What's all the excitement about?" suddenly asked Captain Spark, appearing at the head of the ladder that led to the quarterdeck.
"The ship has been struck by a monster whale!" exclaimed the nervous passenger, "He's rammed us, captain, and I'm going to get a life-preserver! Then I must save my valuables in my cabin!"
He rushed from the deck, while the captain, with a grim look on his face, glanced at Bob, who burst into laughter.
MR. TARBILL GETS A SHOCK
"This is one of your 'jokes,' I suppose," remarked the captain.
"Yes. It was too funny," answered Bob. "He really believed a whale was after us."
"Do you think it was a good thing to do, alarm him so?"
"I—er—well, I thought it might do his nerves good," stammered Bob.
"Hum!" murmured the captain. "I must say, Bob, you have a queer idea of what is good for the nerves. Now I can't allow this. Mr. Tarbill is a guest of mine, and I will not have his comfort interfered with. He is taking a voyage for his health, and I don't want him annoyed."
"I'm sorry," began Bob, always ready to repent, though usually it did not last long.
"Then don't do it again."
"I'll not, sir. I didn't think he'd believe me."
"He knows very little about the ocean. In fact, there are some things you don't know, and, if they wanted to, some of the old sailors could spin you yarns that would make your hair stand up."
"I wish they would then," said Bob. "I like sea stories, captain."
"I guess I'll have to take stronger measures with him," thought the commander as he walked forward.
A few minutes later Mr. Tarbill rushed up on deck. He had a life-preserver strapped about him, and in either hand was a valise, while over his shoulder was some spare clothing he had not had time to pack in the satchels.
"Are the lifeboats ready?" he asked of Mr. Carr, who was the first person he met on deck.
"The lifeboats? What for?"
"Why, the ship has been rammed by a whale and is sinking."
"Who told you so?"
"That boy, Bob Henderson."
"I thought so!" exclaimed the mate. "That's one of his so-called 'jokes.' There's no danger, Mr. Tarbill. That was only a big wave that hit us. You are perfectly safe."
"Are you sure?"
"Don't you think I had better see the captain and ask him about it before I take off my life-preserver?"
"Oh, no; there is no need of that. The ship is in no danger," and the mate tried not to smile at the nervous passenger's fears.
"Then if you say so I'll go and take this life-preserver off. It is quite heavy."
"Do so by all means. The young rascal," added the mate under his breath as he thought of Bob. "I'll have to teach him a lesson."
Bob was not a little alarmed at the result of his thoughtless prank. He did not know what the captain might do to punish him, and in the future he resolved to restrain his impulses.
"Maybe he'll send me home by some passing ship," the boy thought, "and I wouldn't like that a bit."
The weather was fine for the next few days. The Eagle continued on her way south, the climate getting warmer and warmer as they approached the equator. Bob meanwhile had learned much about the ship and the manner of sailing it. He got the names of the various ropes and sails by heart, and it would have taken a pretty ingenious sailor to have sent him on a foolish errand now after some part of the ship's gear. Captain Spark was encouraged by Bob's behavior, and began to think the voyage was doing the lad good. So it was, but the cure was not complete, as you shall see.
Mr. Tarbill resented Bob's joke, and had not spoken to the boy since the "whale" incident. But Bob did not mind this. There was plenty to keep him occupied, with his duties to perform and sailors' stories to listen to.
When they were out about two weeks there came a day when there was only the lightest breeze, The Eagle barely had steerageway over the sea, which was as quiet and still as a small lake. The blue waters sparkled in the bright sun, and as Bob lounged about on deck he felt a lazy contentment which was probably caused by the near approach to the tropical zone.
He looked up at the towering masts, and an idea came to him.
"If I could climb up there," he said, "I could have a fine view. I ought to be able to see a vessel from that height. Guess I'll do it. I never tried it, but it looks easy, and there's not enough motion to pitch me off."
With Bob, usually, to think was to act. Looking around to see that neither the captain nor the mates were in sight to forbid him, he stepped to the rail, mounted Into the shrouds, or ladders, that are formed by the wire ropes supporting the mast, and was soon ascending toward the maintop, the highest point of the largest mast.
It was rather difficult work, but Bob kept on and soon was a great distance above the deck. He looked around him, noted several ships which were not visible from below and then glanced down. He saw Mr. Tarbill come out on deck, and then, more in good spirits than because he wanted, to cause the nervous passenger a scare, Bob gave a great shout. Mr. Tarbill looked up, saw the boy far in the air, clinging to what, at that distance, Seemed but a slender stick, and then he cried:
"Quick! Somebody come quick!"
"What is it?" shouted Mr. Carr, thinking from the tones of Mr. Tarbill's voice some one had fallen overboard.
"That boy! That awful boy!" replied the nervous man.
"What about him? Is he overboard? Which side? I'll throw him a life-preserver!"
"No, he isn't overboard! He's up there! On the mast! Oh! Suppose he falls! My nerves are in such a state! This is an awful shock! What a dreadful boy! I wish he had never come aboard this ship, or else that I hadn't!"
"Come on up!" cried Bob, all unconscious of the excitement he had created. "It's fine up here!"
"Oh! I feel as if I was going to faint!" exclaimed Mr. Tarbill, growing paler than usual.
"Come down, Bob!" ordered Mr. Carr, making a trumpet of his hands. "If it isn't one thing it's another," thought the mate. "I'll be glad when this voyage is over."
Bob came down, wondering why he was not allowed to stay at the maintop for a while longer.
"Oh! Oh!" exclaimed Mr. Tarbill when the boy reached the deck. "You've given me such a fright!"
"I didn't mean to," replied Bob honestly enough.
"Oh, but you did! I think I'll have to go to my cabin and take some nerve medicine."
The passenger left the deck, and Mr. Carr said:
"Don't do that again, Bob."
"No, sir; not if you don't want me to."
"It's too dangerous," added the first mate.
Bob was not very sharply reprimanded by Captain Spark for this escapade, as the commander realized that the boy meant no harm. But it was several days before Mr. Tarbill got over the shock.
Urged on by brisk winds the Eagle made excellent speed, and several days before he calculated he would reach it Captain Spark found his vessel "crossing the line"; that is, passing over the imaginary circle which marks the equator. Bob enjoyed his life on board the ship more than ever, now that the tropics were reached. The usual pranks were indulged in by the sailors when Father Neptune came aboard the day the line was crossed, and Bob came in for not a little horse-play. But he did not mind it, and in turn he played several jokes on the sailors and was not rebuked. It was a time of freedom from restraint.
Continuing on south, the Eagle passed from the hot region, and once more was in the temperate zone. But now the weather, which had been fine for several weeks, began to show signs of a change.
"We'll soon be in for a troublesome time," said the captain as he sat in the main cabin one night, looking over some charts.
"How?" asked Bob.
"We're approaching the Horn. To navigate the Straits of Magellan is no small matter. There are always more or less storms in that region, and I wish I was well through it."
"Then we're liable to have a hard passage?" "More than likely."
The captain's fears were verified. A few days later, when they were within a hundred miles of the dreaded Straits, it began to blow. There was a steady increase to the wind, and Captain Spark wore an anxious look as he paced the quarterdeck.
Still there seemed to be nothing more than a heavy blow, and Bob was beginning to hope they might get through with less trouble than the commander anticipated. The captain had decided to try the passage of the Straits rather than to actually go around Cape Horn.
But it was not to be. The next day, toward evening, when they were preparing to navigate the difficult passage, there came a veritable hurricane.
Fortunately Captain Spark had in a measure anticipated it, and had taken in sail, bending on some heavy storm canvas which, small as it was, sent the ship ahead at a terrific pace.
As night came on the Eagle was seen to be in a mass of swirling, tumbling waves which seemed anxious to overpower the stanch craft.
Mr. Tarbill was in a great fright. He tried to stay in his cabin, but when the ship began to pitch and toss he could not stand it. So donning a life-preserver, he came on deck. Here he was much in the way, for the sailors had to be constantly rushing here and there, making ropes fast and attending to their duties. To add to the discomforts of the situation, it began to rain in torrents.
"Oh, I know we're going to sink!" cried the nervous passenger. "Do you think it will be soon, captain?"
"What soon?" asked the commander, who was too busy to pay much attention to Mr. Tarbill. "Will we sink soon?"
"Sink? We're not going to sink at all if I can help it! This is no worse than lots of storms. You had better go to your cabin and lie down."
"Oh, I wouldn't dare to! The ship might sink while I was there. I know we'll get caught in a whirlpool, or in a waterspout, or some other dreadful thing! This is terrible! Awful! Fearful!"
The wind was increasing, and great waves dashed over the Eagle's bow.
"It's bad luck to have such a storm-croaker as that aboard," murmured one of the sailors. "He's a regular Jonah!"
"I wish he'd go below," muttered the captain, and Bob overheard him. "He's frightening every one up here, and we're going to have a hard enough time as it is without a nervous man on deck."
Bob, though he was frightened at the storm, which was constantly growing worse, determined to stick it out. He wanted to see what would happen. But he saw a chance to do a service to the captain, though it would involve playing an innocent trick on Mr. Tarbill.
Accordingly, when there came a little lull in the wind, Bob made his way to where the nervous passenger stood with his back braced against a deckhouse.
"It'll be here pretty soon now," said Bob, shouting to make himself heard above the noise of the storm.
"What will, my dear young friend?" asked Mr. Tarbill, forgetting his former anger at Bob under the stress of the circumstances. "Do you mean to tell us anything else is going to happen?"
"Something surely is, Mr. Tarbill," said Bob, with an air of great earnestness, moving closer to the man, so as to get away from the driving rain, as Mr. Tarbill stood under shelter.
"What is coming? Do tell me. I am so very nervous."
"The Jilla-Jilly wind! We'll be in the midst of it soon. You'd better look out!"
"The Jilla-Jilly wind? For mercy sakes, what's that?"
"It's a kind of a hurricane," said Bob, inventing something on the spur of the moment. "Only, instead of blowing straight ahead or around in a circle it blows up and down. It's liable to snatch you right up to the clouds, or suck you down into the ocean!"
"That is terrible, my dear young friend!"
"Terrible! I should say it was!"
"What had I better do?"
"You'll surely be blown overboard if you stay on deck. That Jilla-Jilly wind is the most terrible wind you ever heard of! We'll soon strike it! There, that sounds like it now! Don't you feel as if you were being lifted up?"
The nervous fears of Mr. Tarbill made him anticipate almost any sensation that was vividly described to him. He was in such a state of mind that he would have believed almost anything he heard.
"Yes! Yes!" he exclaimed. "I feel it coming! Oh, dear! What shall I do?"
"Go below quickly!" yelled Bob, for that was the object he had in mind in inventing the Jilla-Jilly wind for the occasion.
"I will! I'll go at once!" And, holding on to hand-lines which had been stretched about the deck for safety, the nervous passenger made his way to his cabin, while the ship tossed more than ever.
WRECK OF THE SHIP
Though the vessel was in great danger Bob could not help smiling at the success of his prank. When Mr. Tar-bill, with every evidence of terror, had left the deck, Bob crept cautiously forward to peer ahead into the wild waste of waves that threatened to overwhelm the Eagle.
"If it isn't a Jilla-Jilly wind, it's almost as bad," thought our hero. If he had known more about the ocean and its terrors he would have been more frightened than he was. If it was not exactly an instance of "where ignorance is bliss, 'tis folly to be wise," it was, in Bob's case, the next thing to it.
"Wow! That was a bad one!" exclaimed the boy, as an extraordinarily large wave made the ship tremble.
At the same instant a frightened shriek rang out through the darkness. It was one full of terror.
"It's got me! It's got me!" yelled the voice. "What in the world is that?" shouted Captain Spark above the din of the storm. "Is some one overboard?"
"Sounds like Mr. Tarbill," replied the mate, putting his lips close to the captain's ear, so as to be heard.
"Maybe something has happened to him," suggested the commander. "Better look after him, Mr. Carr. We shall do very well for the time being. We've got her before the gale now, and she's scudding along very nicely."
Once the first fury of the storm was past, and it settled down to a steady blow, Captain Spark knew how to handle his vessel. Mr. Carr went below. He found Mr. Tarbill in the main cabin, pacing to and fro and starting nervously at every unexpected lurch of the ship.
"Is it blowing? Is the ship going up or down?" asked the nervous passenger.
"Is what blowing?"
"The Jilla-Jilly wind!"
"The Jilla-Jilly wind?" repeated the mate in wonder, thinking Mr. Tarbill might be out of his head.
"Yes, Bob told me about it. It blows up and down and is liable to take one up Into the clouds or down into the ocean."
"What nonsense! Look here, Mr. Tarbill, that was one of Bob's jokes. I'll scold him for this."
Yet, secretly, the mate was not sorry that Bob's trick had been effective in getting the frightened man off the deck.
"Then there isn't any such wind?"
"Of course not. Don't be frightened."
"Is the ship in any danger?"
"Well, to be honest, I can't say that she is not. There is always danger in a storm such as this is, particularly near Cape Horn. But we're doing our best."
"Oh! I knew something was going to happen!"
"What's going to happen?" asked the mate. "You must not be so nervous."
"Oh! I wish I had never come on this dreadful voyage!"
Mr. Carr wished the same on behalf of the nervous man, but he said nothing. The mate soon went back on deck, where he found plenty to do, as one of the storm sails had blown off the bolt ropes and another canvas had to be bent on. Captain Spark had sent Bob below, as it was risky for any one but an experienced sailor to move about the constantly sloping deck.
That night was one of terror. First the storm seemed to abate, and then it began again with redoubled violence. Once the Eagle was almost on her beam ends, but skilful handling brought her once more up into the teeth of the wind and she rode the waves lightly, like the gallant craft she was.
The nervousness of Mr. Tarbill increased. He would not stay alone in his cabin, and finally begged for Bob to keep him company. Bob was a little diffident about going in, after the trick he had played, but the nervous passenger seemed to forget all about that. The two sat up and talked instead of going to their berths, for sleep was out of the question amid the howling of the gale.
It was nearly morning when Captain Spark, wearing an anxious look, came into the cabin.
"Has the ship foundered? Has it sprung a leak?" asked Mr. Tarbill, for he saw that something was troubling the commander.
"No, we are safe yet," replied Mr. Spark gravely. "But I think you had better put on life-preservers."
"Why?" asked Bob, beginning to feel a nameless fear.
"We are approaching a dangerous reef. If this wind holds we can barely wear off enough to pass it. If we strike it that will be the last of the Eagle. We are going to do our best to wear the ship off, but we may not succeed. It is best to be prepared."
At this ominous warning Mr. Tarbill seemed to collapse. However, with Bob's help he donned one of the cork jackets, and the boy did likewise. Captain Spark would not allow them on deck, but promised to give them timely warning if the ship struck.
Then came an hour of anxious waiting. Outside there sounded the dash of rain, the screaming of the wind, and the rush of sailors about the deck as they hastened to obey the captain's commands.
Then, very gradually, there seemed to come a slack in the storm. The ship rode more easily, and Bob began to take heart. A little later Mr. Carr came down into the cabin. He breathed a sigh of relief as he said:
"We're all right. We've passed the reef and we have nothing more to fear for the present. The gale is going down."
"That's the best news I've heard in a year!" exclaimed Mr. Tarbill. "Never again will I take a sea voyage for my health. I've lost seven pounds to-night, I know I have."
Mr. Carr's words were soon verified. When morning broke the wind and rain had ceased, though there was still a heavy sea on, which made the Eagle toss and pitch in a dangerous way.
Bob managed to get out on deck, however, and, through the clear atmosphere that followed the storm, he saw the dim outlines of Terra del Fuego—"The Land of Fire"—as part of the end of the South American continent is called.
They finished the passage of the Straits of Magellan without further incident. After that it seemed as if their troubles would be at an end. The sea went down, and, as they made the turn around the South American coast and once more began to approach the equator, the Eagle skimmed along like the bird whose name it bore.
"If this weather and the fair breezes keep up," said Captain Spark one day, "we'll arrive ahead of time."
"I guess you didn't think so during the storm, did you?" inquired Bob.
"No indeed! It seemed as if it was going to be touch and go with us one spell. But how do you like your trip—so far?"
"I'm glad of it. I promised your mother it would do you good, and I think it will."
Captain Spark was secretly delighted with the success of his experiment. He thought Bob had given up all his tricks, but that same day showed how much mistaken he was. The boy, seeing a chance to have some sport with one of the sailors—a German—sewed up the sleeves of the man's Jersey. When the man tumbled out of his bunk, in a hurry to take his watch on deck, he could not understand the reason why he could not put on his garment.
"Vot's der madder?" he exclaimed, struggling with the sleeves. "Der vitches haf been at vork! I am bevitched!"
"More like that onery critter of a boy done it," suggested his messmate, a practical Yankee.
"So? I plays a joke on him, alretty yet. Vatch."
And the German was as good as his word. The next afternoon Bob suddenly felt himself being pitched over the rail toward the sea. He yelled and made a grab for the mizzen shroud near which he was standing, but he suddenly found himself brought up with a round turn, for the German had caught the boy's feet in a bight of cable, so that he would not go overboard.
"So!" he exclaimed. "You sews up my sleeves, eh? I t'inks you don't do so no more! Eh?"
"More tricks!" exclaimed the captain, when matters had been explained to him, "I wonder if he'll ever be cured?"
But Bob's cure was nearer at hand than either he or the captain expected.
The fine weather continued for a week, during which time the Eagle made good progress. Then came several days of dead calm, when they were near the Tropic of Capricorn, and they suffered much from the heat of the sun.
"I don't like this," remarked Captain Spark one day, as he looked up at the brassy sky.
"Why not?" asked Bob, with the familiarity of a relative.
"I think this means a storm, and we're in a poor location for a bad blow. I don't like it."
As the day wore on it became evident that the captain's prophecy was about to be verified. The wind sprang up suddenly, almost before sail could be shortened, and the Eagle heeled over until if seemed as if she would not right. That was the beginning of a storm that was worse than the other.
Scudding along under mere rags of canvas, the ship headed right into the swirl of waters agitated by the wind. As night settled down the captain prepared for the worst. It was evident that he feared something, and every man was on the alert.
The wind increased, but there was no rain. On and on rushed the ship, all through the night. The captain seemed to grow more anxious and would not leave his place at the wheel.
Suddenly, just as the darkness was giving place to the gray light of morning, the Eagle hit something. A shiver seemed to run through the whole length of the ship.
"Breakers ahead!" yelled the lookout. "Breakers all around us!"
"I feared as much!" cried the captain. "We've struck on a reef!"
The Eagle seemed to back off, probably the recoil from the blow. The wind swirled around, and then, once more, the good ship was driven on the rocks.
Once more she crashed upon the low-lying barrier, and this time an ominous splintering sound followed. There was a terrific crash, and the foremast went by the board. At the same time there was a pounding beneath the bows of the vessel.
"There's a big hole stove in the bows, sir!" cried a sailor, running to Captain Spark. "The water's coming in fast!"
"I'm afraid we're foundering!" added Mr. Carr.
"Stand by to lower the lifeboats!" yelled the captain. "Every man to his place!"
With a great crash the mizzen mast went over the side, crushing one of the lifeboats that hung on davits there.
"What has happened?" yelled Mr. Tarbill, rushing up on deck.
"The Eagle is wrecked," replied the captain, speaking calmly, though only a sailor could know what anguish the words cost him.
ADRIFT IN SMALL BOATS
The scene was now one of wild excitement. The sailors were working like Trojans to launch the boats, as it could not be told when the Eagle would founder. Already she was settling in the water.
For once Mr. Tarbill seemed too stunned to know what to do. Bob made up his mind to save a few of his own possessions if he could, and he hurried to his berth.
"Put on a life-preserver, Bob," called the captain to him. The boy thought of the time when this order had been given before, but not needed. Now there was real cause for it.
"Oh, Bob! Help me!" pleaded Mr. Tarbill, who was trembling with terror.
"I will. If there's anything valuable in your cabin, you'd better get it out."
"Everything I have is valuable."
"Well, you can't take it all. The boat won't hold it."
"Have we got to go in small boats out on this dreadful ocean?"
"It's the only way to save our lives."
Mr. Tarbill selected some of his possessions, as did Bob, and then the only two passengers on the ship, having donned the cork jackets, went on deck again.
The sailors were busy putting provisions and water into the small boats, of which, fortunately, there were enough to hold all, even with the loss of the one the mast had smashed.
"Is there no way of saving the ship?" asked Bob of the captain as he stood, calm, yet stern, on the quarter-deck.
"No. Her bows are stove in and the foremast has pounded a big hole in her quarter. The Eagle is doomed. There must be an uncharted reef about here, or else we were blown off our course."
"Boats are all ready, sir," reported a sailor, running up.
"Very well, tell the men to get in. Mr. Carr will be in command of one boat, Mr. Bender the other, and I will go in my gig. Bob, you and Mr. Tarbill will go with me. Pull well away from the wreck, men, and lay to until we are all together. Then we'll try to get our bearings."
It was getting lighter now, but the storm showed no signs of abating. The Eagle was fairly impaled on a sharp point of the sunken reef and was immovable, but the waves were dashing high over the bows.
Suddenly the ship gave a shudder and seemed as if about to tear herself loose, ready to sink beneath the billows.
"Lively, men!" exclaimed the captain. "She'll not last much longer!"
The orders were given to lower the boats. Bob went forward to watch the work, holding on by stray cables that dangled from the wrecked masts.
As the boat of which Mr. Bender was to take charge was being lowered, one of the ropes in the davit pulley, that at the bow, fouled, and, as the sailors at the other davit were letting their line run free, the boat tilted. There was imminent risk of the oars, sail, and mast, besides the supplies, being spilled out. Bob saw the danger and sprang forward with a shout, intending to lend a hand.
As he did so a big piece of one of the yards of the broken mizzen mast which had been hanging by splinters was whipped loose by a gust of wind and fell almost at his feet, missing him by a small margin. Had it struck him squarely it would have killed him.
Bob only hesitated an instant, though the narrow escape gave him a faint feeling in his stomach. Then, before he could make the sailors understand what the trouble was, he grabbed the rope that was running free and, taking a turn about a cleat, prevented the further lowering of the boat.
"Good!" shouted Second-Mate Bender, who had seen what had taken place. "You saved the boat, Bob. In another second all the stuff would have been afloat. Lively now, men. Straighten out that line and lower away. She's settling fast."
In the meanwhile Mr. Carr had succeeded in lowering his boat, and he and his men were in it. The crew of the captain's gig were busy with that craft, and it was all ready to lower.
"Get in, Bob," said the commander of the Eagle. "And you too, Mr. Tarbill."
"Aren't you coming?" asked Bob.
"I'm the last one in," was the sad answer, and then the boy understood that the captain is always the last to leave a sinking ship.
"Shall we get in before you lower it?" asked Bob of the sailors who stood at the davit ropes.
"Yes. We can lower it with you two in. The captain and we can slide down the ropes. We're used to it, but it's ticklish business for land-lubbers." And the man grinned even in that time of terror.
Captain Spark had gone to his cabin for his log book, the ship's papers, and his nautical instruments. As he came out the red sun showed for an instant above the horizon.
"If we had seen that a few hours sooner we wouldn't be here now," remarked the commander sadly. "But it's too late now."
The other boats had pulled away from the wreck. Bob and Mr. Tarbill got into the gig and were lowered to the surface of the heaving ocean.
"Take an oar and fend her away from the ship's side a bit," the captain advised Bob. "Else a wave may smash the gig."
Bob did so. Mr. Tarbill was shivering too much with fear to be of any help. A few seconds later the two sailors who had lowered the boat at the captain's orders leaped into the gig as a wave lifted it close to the Eagle's rail. Then the commander, carrying a few of his possessions and with a last look around his beloved ship, made the same jump and was in his gig.
"Pull away," he commanded sorrowfully, and the sailors rowed out from the foundered ship.
When they were a little way off they rested on their oars. All around them was a waste of heaving waters. The two other boats came up, and the occupants looked at the Eagle settling lower and lower as the water filled her. The wrecked ship, now sunk almost to her deck level, seemed, save for the three boats, to be the only object in sight on the bosom of the tumultuous ocean.
"Well, men, give way!" at length called the captain, with a sigh. "We may be sighted by some vessel, or we may land on an island. There are several islands hereabouts, if we are not too far away from them."
Then, bending to the oars, the sailors sent the boats away from the wreck. Bob and his friends were afloat on the big ocean in small boats that, at any moment, might be swamped by a mighty wave, for the wind was still blowing hard, though the sun shone brightly in the eastern sky.
BOB ON AN ISLAND
"Keep together, men!" called the captain, as they pulled away. "We don't want to lose one another."
"Which way shall we pull, sir?" asked the first mate.
"I'll tell you presently. I'll look at my charts and see if I can't locate an island somewhere here-abouts. Keep up your courage. Luckily this didn't happen down in the Straits. At least we have warm weather here."
For the first time Bob noticed that it was very warm. It had been so, of course, for several days preceding the wreck, but the thought that they were in a tropical climate had been forgotten in the excitement of the foundering of the ship. Now it was a thing for which to be thankful.
"Oh! Isn't this the most terrible thing that could occur!" exclaimed Mr. Tarbill, from a seat where he was huddled up. "It is awful!"
"It's not half so awful as if we were drowned and in Davy Jones's locker," remarked the captain. "I've lost my ship and the cargo, but, fortunately, both were insured. We are lucky to have had time to get off in the boats, well provisioned as they are. As soon as this wind goes down a bit we'll hoist the small sails and head for the nearest land."
The captain was soon busy over his charts. He made some calculations and announced his belief that there was a group of islands about a hundred miles off. He could not be sure, for while they showed on the chart, he could not exactly determine the position of the ship when she struck, as no observation had been taken since the previous noon, and the rate of sailing under the force of the gale was mere guesswork.
So the men rowed on. The Eagle was now a mere blot on the surface of the ocean—a speck of blackness amid a swirl of foam, caused by the waves breaking over the ship and the reef. The wind continued too high to risk raising the sail with which each boat was provided, and it was slow progress with the oars.
The day was one of terror, for many times waves would break over the small craft, forcing the men to bail for their lives. Only cold provisions could be eaten, but in spite of this the little band of shipwrecked men maintained a cheerful demeanor. As for Bob he did not deny that he was frightened. He thought with sorrow of his father and mother and wondered if he would ever see them again. He and the others had removed their life-preservers, as they did not need them in the gig.
"That was a plucky thing you did, saving that boat from going down stern first," complimented the captain, a little later that day when they were talking over the events of the wreck. "You showed good judgment, Bob."
"Oh, I guess anybody would have done the same."
"No, they wouldn't. You deserve great credit. Bravery in the face of danger is bravery indeed. Your father and mother can be proud of you."
There came to Bob's mind a memory of certain times when these words of the captain would not have been true. He resolved, if his life was spared, to be a more manly boy in the future—to live up to the captain's new estimate of him.
Wearily the men labored at the oars. It was hard work to keep the boats' heads to the waves, which, to those in the small craft, looked like great green mountains of water. Now the boats would be down in a vast hollow, with towering walls on either side. Then the stanch craft would be lifted up and, poising on the crests, would slide down a watery hill with a sickening feeling, present at least in the hearts of Bob and Mr. Tarbill, that they were going straight for the bottom. The nervous passenger sat huddled up in a heap, scarcely speaking.
The wind seemed to increase as night drew on. The motion of the captain's gig was such that he could not take an observation, and, when the blackness settled down, they had no idea where they were, nor in which direction the nearest land lay.
"I'm afraid we'll be separated in the darkness," said the captain, "but there is no help for it."
The day of terror was succeeded by a night of peril. The sea and wind seemed combining to wreck the small boats. The one commanded by Mr. Carr managed to remain within hailing distance of the captain's gig, but the other seemed to have disappeared. A feeling of gloom settled down over the castaways.
It must have been about the middle of the night that Bob, working his way aft to get a drink of water from one of the casks, stumbled over part of the sail that was folded in the bottom of the gig. He put out his hands, instinctively, to save himself, but, as there was nothing to cling to, he only grasped the air.
Then, with a cry of terror which he could not suppress, he plunged overboard and was soon struggling in the water.
He went down, but, being a good swimmer, he at once began to strike out, and as he got his head above the surface and shook the water from his ears, he heard one of the sailors cry:
"Bob! Bob! Where are you?" shouted the captain. "Here's a life-preserver!"
The boy heard a splash in the water near him and struck out for it.
"Back water!" he heard the captain cry.
"Aye, aye, sir!" replied the sailors heartily.
At the same time the captain shouted to Mr. Carr's boat word of what had happened. Bob was weighted down by his wet clothes and he felt he could not long keep up, but he was swimming strongly, hoping every moment one of the boats would pick him up.
"Here I am!" he shouted, but his voice did not carry far above the wind. He began to have a hopeless feeling, as if he was doomed to drown there all alone on the vast ocean. A nameless terror seized him. Then, to his joy, his fingers touched something. It was the floating cork life-preserver, and he knew he could keep himself up with it for a long time.
Once more he shouted, but there came no answering hail.
"Have they rowed away and left me?" thought the boy.
He held this idea but for an instant. Then he guessed the truth of what had happened. The boats had been swept on by wind and wave, and, in the darkness, it was impossible to see so small an object as the boy's head in the water.
The sailors in the two boats rowed about, frantically urged on by Captain Spark.
"His mother will never forgive me!" he whispered to himself. "I'd rather have lost a dozen ships than have Bob drown!"
But, though they rowed about the spot where he had disappeared, neither the captain nor Mr. Carr nor any of the sailors could find a trace of the boy.
"We'll stand by until morning," decided the commander, and they began their weary vigil.
Meanwhile Bob was swimming right away from the boats, for he could not get the right direction in the darkness. He managed to fasten the life-preserver to him, and with the buoyancy of the cork to aid him he swam easily, though he did not make very fast progress.
After the first shock of terror was over Bob became calm. He had a momentary fear of sharks, but he resolved not to think about these monsters or the sea, as it sent a cold chill over him and he found he could not swim so well.
"I'll just paddle on until morning," he decided, "and by that time maybe the men In the boats will pick me up."
So, through the remainder of the night, he swam leisurely. In spite of the storm it was very warm and the water felt pleasant. If he had only had an idea of where he was, Bob would not have minded his position so very much.
It was just getting light when, happening to let his legs down for an instant to rest them, he felt his feet touch something. At first he had an unreasoning terror that it might be a big fish—a whale or a shark—that had come up under him. Then he felt whatever it was under his feet to be firm and hard. A dim shape loomed up before him.
"It's land!" exclaimed Bob. "I've struck land! It must be one of those islands the captain told about and that is the sandy beach my feet arc touching."
He swam on a little further, and again let down his feet. To his delight he could stand upright, the water coming to his chest. Then, as it grew lighter, he could make out a low, sandy shore lying stretched out before him.
"Land! Land!" exclaimed the boy. "I'm on land! But where are the others?"
FINDING MR. TARBILL
Bob hurried forward as fast as he could through the water, no longer swimming, but wading. Soon he reached the beach and saw, beyond it, that the land was covered with green grass, while trees, which he easily recognized as the kind found in warm countries, grew to a great height.
"I'm on a tropical island," thought the castaway. "Just like Robinson Crusoe, only I haven't any of the things he had and the wreck of the Eagle isn't near enough for me to get anything from the ship. Still I ought to be thankful I'm not drowned or eaten by a shark."
Bob was tired after his long swim and stretched out under the trees on the grass to rest. It was already beginning to get much warmer, though the sun was only just peeping up, seemingly from beneath the ocean.
"Wonder if I'm going to find anything to eat here," the boy thought. "Doesn't look as if any one lived here. I'll have to take a look around. It's going to be very lonesome here. I wonder if any ships ever pass this place?"
There were so many questions that needed answering he did not know where to stop asking them of himself. But he decided the first and best thing to do would be to get off his wet clothes. Not that he was afraid of taking cold, but he knew he would be more comfortable in dry garments.
So, taking everything out of his pockets, which was no small operation by the way, as Bob was a typical boy, he stripped himself of his heavier garments and hung them on tree limbs to dry.
"Now if I could find something to eat I'd be right in it—at least for a while," thought the castaway as he walked around on the warm grass. "And I need a drink, for I swallowed a lot of salt water and I'm as dry as a powder horn." He looked out on the ocean, but not a trace of a boat was visible.
Bob walked some distance from where he had landed, keeping a sharp lookout for a spring of water. Ail the while he was getting more and more thirsty, and he began to think he would have to dig a little well near shore with clam shells, as he had read of shipwrecked sailors doing. But, fortunately, he was not forced to this. As he penetrated a little way into the wood, he heard the gurgle of water.
"That sounds good," he remarked.
Stepping cautiously, because of his bare feet, he went on a little farther and presently saw a small waterfall, caused by a stream tumbling over a little ledge of rocks and splashing into a pool below.
"That looks better than it sounds," thought Bob. And a moment later he was drinking his fill. "Seems as if there might be fish in there," he went on, glancing at the pool. "Guess I'll try it."
Bob was fond of hunting and fishing and knew considerable about wood-lore. Searching under the stones he soon found some worms, and, tossing one into the middle of the pool, he saw a hungry fish rise to it.
"Now if I had a pole, hook, and line I'd soon have a breakfast," he went on to himself. "I have the line, all right, and I ought to have a hook in one of my pockets. I generally do. As for a pole I can easily cut one."
Bob hurried back to where he had piled the things he took from his pockets. It did not take him long to discover that he had a stout cord that would answer for a line, while he also had several hooks. With his knife he cut a pole, and baiting the hook with a worm, he cast in.
Probably no one, unless it might have been some unfortunate castaway in years gone by, had ever angled in that pool. The fish at once rose to the bait, and soon Bob had several beauties on the grass beside him.
"Now to cook them," he said to himself. "Lucky I bought a water-proof match box before I started on this voyage. I can now make a fire."
Bob went back to the place he called "home"—where he had first landed—and looked in the water-tight match box which he always had carried since he had come aboard the Eagle. To his delight the little fire-sticks were not harmed by his bath. He only wished he had more of them.
Finding his clothes were now nearly dry, he put part of them on and proceeded to kindle a fire. Then he cleaned the fish and set them to broil by the simple process of hanging them in front of the fire on a pointed stick, one end of which was thrust into the ground.
"That smells good!" exclaimed Bob, as the fish began to brown. "But, I almost forgot. There's plenty of fruit to be had." For he had noticed several trees well laden as he passed through the woods. "I'll not starve here as long as I have fruit and fish."
He gathered some things that looked a cross between an orange and a tangerine and ate several, finding them delicious. By the time the fish were well done Bob, preparing to eat his odd breakfast, was suddenly startled by a groan. It seemed to come from behind a pile of rocks off to the left.
"I wonder what that was?" thought Bob. "An animal or a human being? I wonder if there are any South Sea natives on this island?"
He put down his fish on some big green leaves he had plucked for plates and went toward the rocks. As he approached, the groans became louder. Peering cautiously over the stones, Bob saw the figure of a man lying on the sand, as if he had managed to crawl out of the water.
For an instant the boy could scarcely believe his eyesight. Then, with a cry, he rushed forward.
"It's Mr. Tarbill!" he exclaimed. "He, too, must have fallen overboard and been washed ashore. But he seems to be hurt."
The man's eyes were closed and he was scarcely breathing.
"He's dying!" thought Bob, his heart beating hard.
Then, thinking perhaps the man might be partly drowned, the young castaway began to put into operation as much of the directions as he remembered for restoring partially drowned persons to life. He had not worked long before he saw Mr. Tarbill's eyes open. Then the nervous passenger began to breathe better.
"Where—where am I?" he asked faintly.
"You're safe," replied Bob. "On an island with me. But where is the captain—and the others?"
"Boat foundered. Wave washed over it—soon after you fell overboard. No chance to get life-preservers. It was every one for himself."
"Are they drowned?"
"I don't know! Oh, it is terrible! I swam as long as I could, then I seemed to be sinking."
"You're all right now," said Bob cheerfully. "You're just in time to have some breakfast."
He helped Mr. Tarbill to his feet. The nervous man seemed to recover rapidly, and when, at Bob's suggestion, he had taken off most of his wet clothes and was drying out near the fire, his face took on a more cheerful look.
"Those fish smell fine," he said. "I'm very fond of fish. Are you sure those are not poisonous?"
"I'm not sure," replied Bob, "and I'm too hungry to care much. They're a sort of big sun-fish, such as I used to catch at home. The meat looks nice and white. Better have some. I'll warm them again."
He put them once more on the pointed sticks near the fire, and when they were sizzling he laid them on the green leaves. Then, with sticks for knives and forks, the two castaways made a fairly good meal.
"I thought I never would see land again," said the nervous man, as he began to dress in his dry clothes after the breakfast. "This has been a terrible experience for me."
"I guess it has," admitted Bob. "And for all of us. I wish I knew what has happened to the captain and the others."
"Our boat was swamped by a big wave," said Mr. Tarbill, "and suddenly we were all thrown into the water. That is the last I remember. Perhaps the captain and some of the crew may have swum ashore on another part of this island."
"I hope so. We'll search for them. I guess we're in for a long stay."
"Have we got to remain here?" demanded Mr. Tarbill.
"I don't see what else there is to do," replied Bob. "We haven't any boat, we can't walk on the water, and we'll have to stay until a ship comes and takes us off."
"Oh, dear!" exclaimed the nervous man. "I wish I had stayed at home!"
Bob thought he might at least be thankful that his life was spared and that he was not where he would starve, but the lad concluded it would be wise to say nothing.
"If you like we'll take a walk around the island, see how large it is and if there's a place where we can make a sort of shelter," proposed Bob.
"I guess that will be the best thing to do. I leave it all to you. My nerves are in such shape that I can do nothing."
Bob felt not a little proud of the responsibility thus thrust upon him. He resolved to act wisely and cautiously, for there was no telling how long they would have to live on the island.
With the boy in the lead the two started off. The sun was now hot and strong, and they found it advisable to keep in the shade of the woods as much as possible.
Bob saw a big turtle crawling down the beach toward the water, and, knowing the flesh was good for food, he ran forward to catch it. He was too late, however, and when he turned, with a feeling of disappointment, to catch up with Mr. Tarbill, who had continued on, Bob was surprised to hear the man utter an exclamation. He had come to a halt near a pile of rocks and was looking over the tops.
"What's the matter?" asked the boy.
"There are two men down there on the beach! Perhaps they are cannibals! We had better go back!"
"Let me take a look," proposed Bob.
Cautiously he went forward, gave one glance at the figures to which Mr. Tarbill pointed, and then he uttered a cry.
"Hurrah!" he shouted. "They are Captain Spark and Tim Flynn, one of the sailors! They've managed to get to shore! Ahoy, captain! Ahoy! Here we are!" and he ran down the beach toward them.
MAKING THE BEST OF IT
Captain Spark and the sailor turned at the sound of Bob's voice. The captain gave a joyful cry and started forward. But Tim Flynn, the sailor, with a yell of fear, ran off down the beach in a different direction.
"Here! Come back!" cried the captain, pausing. "What's the matter with you, Tim?"
"Sure I don't want to meet no ghost!" exclaimed the man.
"Ghost? What do you mean?"
"Him," replied Tim, pointing a shaking finger at Bob. "Didn't we see him drown, an' now ain't he here ahead of us to haunt us? Let me go, cap'n."
He was about to run off again, but Bob, who began to understand the superstitious rears of the man, called out:
"It's me, Tim! I'm alive, all right!"
The sailor paused, turned, and, after a long and rather doubting look at the boy, came slowly bade.
"Well, maybe it's all right," he said, "but it's mighty queer. How'd ye git here?"
"Swam until I struck land. But how did you get here, captain?" and Bob clasped his relative warmly by the hand.
"Our boat must have been close to the island when it capsized," replied the former commander of the Eagle. "A big wave did the business for us, and then it was every man for himself. Poor Tarbill, he's lost, and so is Pete Bascom. We'll never see either of 'em again. And I'm afraid the rest of the crew are gone, too. No boat could live long in that sea."
"Mr. Tarbill is alive," said Bob.
"How do you know?"
"He's right behind those rocks. He didn't come on because he feared you were cannibals. I'll call him."
Bob set up a shout, and in a few seconds the nervous passenger came cautiously over the top of a pile of stones. When he saw Captain Spark he was reassured and advanced boldly. There was a general shaking of hands, and then the captain remarked:
"Well, now we're here we'll have to sec what we can find in the way of food and shelter. I don't believe this island is inhabited. I didn't know we were so near one. It isn't down on the charts."
"There is plenty of fish and fruit," said Bob, telling how he had used his hook and line to advantage.
"Good!" exclaimed the captain. "I could eat a fish raw, I believe, and my mouth is dry for need of some fresh water."
"Then come on to my camp," said Bob, proudly leading the way,
The captain could not but note the change in the boy. He had a confident air about him now, as if he could take charge of matters. The experience of the shipwreck, terrible as it had been, had taught Bob some needed lessons. But he had yet more to learn.
While Captain Spark and Tim Flynn were wringing the water out of their heavier garments Bob replenished the fire and soon had some fish broiling, for he had caught more than he needed. It did not take long to finish the simple meal, and then the captain spoke.
"We'd better take a survey of the island," he said, "to see what sort of a place we've landed on. If there are any natives here we want to know it. We also want to know what we can expect in the way of things to eat and if there are animals on it. I don't believe there are, however, as the place is too small."
"Let's start right away," proposed Bob. "Perhaps we can find some driftwood, or something to make a hut of, though it's warm enough to sleep out of doors without shelter."
"But not exactly safe in tropical countries," objected the captain. "I hope we can construct some kind of a house. If we can't we'll have to make the best of it, though, for we haven't any tools to work with, except knives."
They started to make a circuit of the island. It was not very large, being about two miles across. The center was thickly wooded with tropical growth, and the captain was glad to note that there were several varieties of good fruit, including a number of cocoanut trees.
"If worst comes to worst we can make a hut of cocoanut leaves," he said. "The natives often do that."
"Oh, dear! I hope there are no cannibals here," said Mr. Tarbill at the mention of the word natives. "Suppose they should eat us up?"
"They'd have to fight first," observed the captain grimly. "I'll not be eaten without a struggle."
"But I never fought a cannibal in my life," objected the nervous castaway. "I shouldn't know how to go about it."
"No more would I, but I'd soon learn. But don't think about such things, Mr. Tarbill."
"I can't help it. I wonder how long it will be before we are rescued?"
"That is a grave question," said the captain slowly. "I fear this island is too far out of the regular course of ships to hope that we will be picked up soon. We must make some kind of a distress signal and hoist it where it will be seen. We'll do that as soon as we have completed the circuit of the island."
It was long past noon, to judge by the position of the sun, when they had circled the island and again reached the place where Bob had built the fire. They had seen no signs of natives, nor any of animals, though there might be small beasts.
"Well, we know what to expect now," said the Captain, as they sat down under the trees to talk matters over. "We'll have to depend for a living on fish, turtles, and fruit. We have no natives to fear, and our situation is not so bad as it might be. Now we had better set about matters in a shipshape and orderly fashion. In the first place we will name our island. There's nothing like having an address where your friends can write to you," he added, with grim humor.
"Let's call it 'Lonely Land,'" suggested Bob.
"I have a better name," said the commander. "It is the custom to call islands and mountains after the person who discovers them. I propose that we name this 'Bob's Island,' for he discovered it first."
"Aye, aye, sir!" cried Tim Flynn heartily.
Bob blushed and was about to protest, but, to his surprise, Mr. Tarbill joined in and favored the proposition.
"That's settled, then," spoke the captain. "Now you needn't say anything, Bob, we're three to one, and we're going to have our way. So far so good. The next thing is to rig up our distress signal. I'll leave that to Flynn. Tim, climb the highest tree you can find and run up a signal."
"Aye, aye, sir," replied the sailor, saluting and starting off.
"Now then, we'd better catch some more fish for dinner," the captain continued. "I'll leave that to you, Bob, and I'll build another fire, for this one is out. Mr. Tarbill can go and see if he can't catch a couple of turtles."
"Turtles! I never caught a turtle in my life!" exclaimed the nervous man. "I'd be afraid to!"
"Not the least danger," the captain assured him. "All you have to do is to get between them and the water as they're on the beach sunning themselves and turn them on their backs. They'll stay there until I can come and get them. It's time you learned to catch turtles."
"Oh, dear!" sighed Mr. Tarbill. "I wish I was safe home!"
But the captain paid no attention to his protest.
"It'll do him good," he murmured, as the nervous one walked dejectedly off. "He'll not have any nerves left when we get through with him."
Bob had good luck with his hook and line and soon returned with a dozen fine fish. In the meanwhile the captain had built a big fire and had a bed of red coals ready to broil the fish over, for he knew just how to do it.
When the dinner was in process of cooking Tim returned.
"Did you hoist the signal?" asked the captain.
"Aye, aye, sir."
"What did you use for a flag?"
"My shirt, sir."
"Aye, aye, sir. You see I had two on, an outer shirt and an inner shirt. I didn't need the outer shirt as it's so hot here, so I hoisted that on top of a tall tree. It's flying in the breeze now, sir. You can see it from here."
He led the way down to the edge of the water and pointed inland. Sure enough, flying from a tall cocoanut tree was a white shirt. It could be seen for a long distance.
"That's a fine idea," complimented the captain. "I forgot when I sent you off that you hadn't any signal flag. But here comes Mr. Tarbill. I wonder if he turned any turtles? Any luck?" he called as the nervous man approached.
"No, sir. The turtles all ran when they heard me coming. Some of them left a lot of eggs behind."
"Did you bring any?"
"No. I didn't think they were good."
"Good? Of course they're good! We'll gather some later. But come on. It's long past dinner time and I guess we're all hungry."
Every one proved it by the manner in which he ate. The meal was a primitive one, with sticks for forks, though they all had pocket-knives, which answered very well to cut the fish. For plates Captain Spark substituted large clam shells, in place of the leaves Bob had used.
"Now I think we had better rig up some kind of a hut for shelter against the night dews," proposed the captain, when they were done eating. "Gather all the cocoanut leaves you can and I'll make a sort of framework."
Bob started up, ready to go off into the forest after leaves, with the sailor and Mr. Tarbill. As he gazed out to sea, where the big waves were still rolling, he saw something that caused him to utter a cry of astonishment.
"What is it?" asked Captain Spark, hurrying to Bob's side.
"There," replied the boy, pointing to some dark object that was rising and falling on the swell.
"It's a boat! A boat capsized!" exclaimed Captain Spark. "We must secure it. It's one from the Eagle. Probably the one we were in."
"Shall I swim out to it?" asked Bob. "Perhaps I can tow it in."
"No, the current is setting toward the beach. It will drift in presently."
All interest in building a hut was temporarily forgotten as the four castaways watched the slow approach of the boat. As it came nearer it was seen to be the captain's gig, in which Bob and his friends had left the ill-fated Eagle.
"Do you think there'll be anything left in her?" asked Bob.
"There will, unless she is smashed," replied Mr. Spark. "The lockers, in which most of the supplies were packed, are water-tight and securely fastened. This is a piece of good luck, if the boat is not stove in. She has turned bottom up, but she may still be sound. She'll soon be here."
When the gig was close enough so that they could wade out to it, Bob and Tim Flynn rolled up their trousers and went through the shallow surf. The beach gradually shelved at this point and they could wade out nearly a quarter of a mile at low tide.
"She's all right, cap'n!" called the sailor, when he and Bob reached the small craft. "Sound as a dollar, and the lockers are closed," he added as the boat rolled partly over.
"Good!" cried the commander. "Pull her in as close as you can and we'll unload her. Then we'll get her above high-water mark. This boat may save our lives."
"How?" asked Mr. Tarbill.
"Why, when the sea goes down we can leave the island in her."
"Leave the island? Never! I'm on dry land now, and I'm never going to trust myself in a boat again."
"Maybe you'll think differently after a bit," said the captain.
By this time Bob and Tim had the boat in very shallow water. They managed to turn it on the keel, and the first thing they saw was the sail in the bottom. Ropes, fastened to various projections, had prevented the canvas from floating away.
"There!" cried the captain, when he saw it. "That solves our shelter problem for us. We'll make a tent. Oh, we're in luck, all right. 'Bob's Island' isn't such a bad place after all."
Bob blushed with pleasure. Then and there he made up his mind that his foolishness should be a thing of the past. He was of some importance in the world now, and it would not do to be playing childish pranks.
But if the captain was delighted at finding the sail, he was much more so when, on opening the lockers, which fastened with patent catches, everything was found to be as "dry as a bone," as Tim Flynn expressed it.
"Now we can have a change from the fish and fruit diet," said the captain, as he showed where the canned food had been stowed away. There were tins of ship's biscuits, some jars of jam and marmalade, plenty of canned beef, tongue and other meats, rice, flour—in short, a bountiful supply for the small party of castaways.
Captain Spark had ordered the boats to be well provisioned when he knew the Eagle was doomed, and his forethought now stood them in good stead.
In another locker was a kit of carpenter's tools, which would come in very handy if they were to remain long on the island, and in another water-tight compartment the captain had stowed his chronometer, his instruments for finding the position of the ship, and some charts.
Owing to the fact that the lockers remained tightly closed when the boat capsized, nothing had been lost out of them, and they had also served to make the gig more buoyant. Practically nothing was missing from the boat save the personal belongings of Bob and the others—their clothing in the valises, the mast which had floated away, and some of the captain's papers relating to the ship. But this did not worry them, as they were now in good shape to live on the island, at least for several weeks.
"All hands to lighten ship!" called the captain, when he had looked over what the boat contained. They made short work of carrying the things from the lockers well up on the beach. With the boat thus made lighter, it was pulled out of reach of the waves.
"Now for a shelter!" the commander called, when the gig had been safely moored. "This sail will make a fine tent."
So it proved when it was set up on some poles which Tim Flynn cut with a light hatchet found among the tools. Mr. Tarbill could not be depended on to do anything, and he was so mournful, standing around and lamenting the fact that he had ever undertaken the trip, that, to get rid of him, Captain Spark sent him off once more to catch turtles, or, if he could not do that, to gather some of the eggs. This last Mr. Tarbill was able to do, but he was not successful in turning any of the crawling creatures over on their backs.
The tent was erected before dark, and, with a cheerful fire burning in front of it, supper was prepared. This time they had tin dishes to eat from, as a supply was found in the gig's lockers.
Tired out with their day's work, and by the struggle with the sea, the castaways all slept soundly. Nor was there any need to stand guard during the night. On beds of palm leaves, under the tent, they slumbered undisturbed until the sun, shining in on them, awoke all four.
"Well, I'm beginning to feel quite to home," remarked the captain, who could be cheerful under misfortune. His good spirits should have been a lesson to Mr. Tarbill. That gentleman had lost nothing but what could be easily replaced, but the captain had lost his fine ship. Still he did not complain, and Bob, seeing his demeanor under trying circumstances, resolved to try and be like the stanch mariner.
After breakfast Captain Spark looked carefully over the gig to see if the craft was seaworthy. He decided that it was, and he sent Tim to look about for a suitable small tree to be cut down as a mast for the sail.
"Are you going to sail away?" asked Mr. Tarbill nervously.
"I don't know. I want to be all ready to do so in case we find it necessary. This noon I will work out our position and locate this island on the chart. Then I can determine how far it is to the nearest mainland, or to a larger island."
"I'll never go in a small boat on this big ocean," declared Mr. Tarbill.
Captain Spark, who had completed his examination of the gig, was standing near it, idly gazing off across the waste of water, which had greatly subsided since the storm, when he caught sight of some small object about two miles off shore.
"Bob!" he called, "bring me the binoculars," for a pair of marine glasses had been found in one of the lockers.
The captain gazed through the glasses for several seconds. Then he cried out:
"More arrivals! Prepare for company, Bob!"
"There's a boat off there and in it are Mr. Carr, the first mate, and Ned Scudd! But they seem to be in trouble, for they are bailing fast. Their boat must have a hole in it. We'd better go to their rescue!"
AFLOAT ONCE MORE
Captain Spark laid aside his binoculars and began shoving the gig down toward the line of surf. The tide was about half in.
"Lend a hand!" cried the commander to Mr. Tarbill. There was no need to urge Bob, who had already grasped one side of the gunwale and was helping to push the boat down the beach.
It was almost too much for the captain and Bob, as Mr. Tarbill, however willing he was, could not bring much strength to the work. Fortunately, however, Tim Flynn came from the woods at that moment, dragging after him a long thin pole to serve as a mast. He saw what the captain wanted and ran up to help. Between the three they managed to get the gig afloat.
"Now then! Lively!" cried the commander. "Their boat is settling fast!"
Tim did not need to be told what the object was in launching the gig. Fortunately there had been a spare pair of oars in the craft when she came ashore, the big blades being fastened so they could not float away. With these the captain and Tim began to propel the boat toward the sinking craft in which were Mr. Carr and Ned Scudd. The two latter were bailing so fast that they had no chance to row. Bob also went in the gig, but Mr. Tarbill remained on shore, nervously running up and down, wringing his hands and uttering vain wishes that he had never undertaken a sea voyage for his health.
It was not long before the gig was close to the other boat, and Captain Spark called out a glad greeting to his first mate and the sailor.
"What happened?" he asked.
"We hit some floating wreckage last night," explained Mr. Carr. "Stove quite a hole, but I managed to stuff part of a sail in it, and we did very well until early this morning. Then some of the seams began to open, and we're filling fast."
"I'll take you aboard," said the commander. "We've got a nice little island waiting for you. Where are the other men?"
"Drowned," replied Mr. Carr solemnly. "That is, those who were with me. When we got the hole in us they became frightened and leaped overboard—that is, all but Ned here. I tried to make 'em stay in, but they wouldn't. That is the last I saw of them. The other boat, with Sam Bender and his crew, we lost sight of."
"Poor fellows," murmured the captain.
The first mate and Ned were soon in the captain's gig, and shortly afterward the boat with the hole in her filled and sank.
"Never mind," consoled the captain. "It's shallow here and at low tide we may be able to get her. Anything left in her, Mr. Carr?"
"Considerable provisions in the water-tight compartments. Also some supplies."
"Very good. We'll need 'em all. We're quite a party of castaways now."
"How did you find Bob?" asked the first mate, for his boat had been near when the boy fell overboard.
"Oh, Bob discovered the island for us," replied the commander, and he explained the various happenings.
Shore was soon reached, and then Mr. Carr and Ned, neither of whom had been able to eat much because of the necessity of bailing to keep from sinking, were given a good meal.
The two latest arrivals looked with interest on what had already been done to form a camp. When their wet trousers were hung up to dry in the hot sun, they rested in the shade of the tent and Bob explained his adventures on first reaching the island.
"Have you any idea where we are, captain?" asked Mr. Carr, after a mutual exchange of experiences.
"Only a slight one. I'm going to take an observation this noon. Fortunately, my chronometer did not stop and I can get the correct reckoning."
But the captain was disappointed. At noon the sun was hidden under a dense bank of clouds, and, as "dead reckoning" would have been of no avail, since they had no previous record to go by, he had to postpone matters.
However, there was plenty to do. When the tide went out late that afternoon they saw that it would he possible to get most of the things from the wrecked boat. This kept them busy until dark. Then a big campfire was lighted, and, though the tent was rather crowded with six in it, they managed to sleep fairly comfortably.
The next day it rained, and the castaways put in rather a miserable existence. Fortunately, they had carried the food into the tent, where it was protected from the terrific tropical downpour. The rain kept up for three days, and during all that time Mr. Tarbill never ceased complaining.
As for Bob and the others, they did not mind getting wet through, for the weather was very warm. Under the captain's directions they had built a sort of screen for the fire at the first sign of a storm, making it of green cocoanut tree leaves on slanting poles like a "lean-to," and this kept the blaze going in spite of the wetness, as plenty of dry wood had been gathered before the rain began.
On the fourth day the sun shone brightly, the downpour had ceased, and they rejoiced in the beautiful scenery around them, even though they were shipwrecked and on a strange island.