THE ROVER BOYS ONLAND AND SEA or The Crusoes of the Seven Islands
by Arthur M Winfield
I. The Rover Boys on San Francisco II. The Turning up of Dan Baxter III. A Discovery and What Followed IV. Good Times at Santa Barbara V. On Board the Yacht VI. Adrift on the Pacific Ocean VII. Dismaying News VIII. From One Ship to Another IX. In Which the Enemy Is Cornered X. A Blow in the Darkness XI. A Call from the Stern XII. Another Accident at Sea XIII. The Crusoes of Seven Islands XIV. Settling Down on the Island XV. Another Castaway Brought to Light XVI. Sam and the Shark XVII. Exploring the Seven Islands XVIII. Unexpected Visitors XIX. Hot Words and Blows XX. The Mate Tries to Take Command XXI. The Attack on the Wreck XXII. A Heavy Tropical Storm XXIII. What Happened on the Bay XXIV. In Close Quarters XXV. Trying to Come to Terms XXVI. The Cave on the Island XXVII. A fight with a Wild Beast XXVIII. The Burning of the Wreck XXX. The Defense of the Cave—Saved!
MY DEAR BOYS: "The Rover Boys on Land and Sea," is a complete story in itself, but forms the seventh volume of the "Rover Boys Series for Young Americans."
As I mentioned in a previous volume of this series, when I began this set of books I had in mind to write no more than three volumes, relating the adventures of Dick, Tom, and Sam Rover, at home, at school, and elsewhere. But the publication of "The Rover Boys at School," "The Rover Boys on the Ocean," and "The Rover Boys in the Jungle," immediately called for more stories of the same sort, so year after year I have followed with "The Rover Boys out West," "The Rover Boys on the Great Lakes," "The Rover Boys in the Mountains," and now the volume before you, which relates the adventures of the three brothers, and some of their friends and enemies, on the sea and on a number of far away islands, where, for a time, all lead a sort of Robinson Crusoe life.
In writing this tale I had in mind not alone to please my young readers, but also to give them a fair picture of life on the ocean as it is to-day, in distinction to what it was years ago, and also to acquaint the boys and girls with some of the beauties of those mid-ocean lands which are generally, so strange to all of us. The boys see much that is new, novel, and pleasing—new fruits, new flowers, new animals—and have often to use their wits to the utmost, to get themselves out of serious difficulty and also to make themselves, and those under their protection, comfortable.
Once again I thank my young friends for the interest they have shown in my previous stories. I trust that all who peruse this volume will find it equally to their liking.
Affectionately and sincerely yours, ARTHUR M. WINFIELD.
THE ROVER BOYS ON LAND AND SEA
THE ROVER BOYS IN SAN FRANCISCO
"Well, Dick, here we are in San Francisco at last."
"Yes, Tom, and what a fine large city it is."
"We'll have to take care, or we'll get lost," came from a third boy, the youngest of the party.
"Just listen to Sam!" cried Tom Rover. "Get lost! As if we weren't in the habit of taking care of ourselves."
"Sam is joking," came from Dick Rover. "Still we might get lost here as well as in New York or any other large city."
"Boston is the place to get lost in," said Tom Rover. "Got streets that curve in all directions. But let us go on. Where is the hotel?"
"I'm sure I don't know," came from Sam Rover.
"Cab! carriage! coupe!" bawled a cabman standing near. "Take you anywhere you want to go, gents."
"How much to take the three of us to the Oakland House?"
"Take you there for a dollar, trunks and all."
"I'll go you," answered Dick Rover. "Come on, I'll see that you get the right trunks."
"I think we are going to have some good times while we are on the Pacific coast," observed Tom Rover, while he and Sam were waiting for Dick and the cabman to return.
"I shan't object to a good time," replied Sam. "That is what we came for."
"Before we go back I am going to have a sail up and down the coast."
"To be sure, Tom. Perhaps we can sail down to Santa Barbara. That is a sort of Asbury Park and Coney Island combined, so I have been told."
Dick Rover and the cabman soon returned. The trunks were piled on the carriage and the boys got in, and away they bowled from the station in the direction of the Oakland House.
It was about ten o'clock of a clear day in early spring. The boys had reached San Francisco a few minutes before, taking in the sights on the way. Now they sat up in the carriage taking in more sights, as the turnout moved along first one street and then another.
As old readers of this series know, the Rover boys were three in number, Dick being the oldest, fun-loving Tom next, and sturdy-hearted Sam the youngest. They were the only offspring of Anderson Rover, a former traveler and mine-owner, who, at present, was living with his brother Randolph and his sister-in-law Martha, on their beautiful farm at Valley Brook, in the heart of New York State.
During the past few years the Rover boys had had numerous adventures, so many, in fact, that they can scarcely be hinted at here. While their father was in the heart of Africa, their Uncle Randolph had sent them off to Putnam Hall Academy. Here they had made many friends among the boys and also among some folks living in the vicinity, including Mrs. Stanhope and her daughter Dora, a girl who, according to Dick Rover's idea, was the sweetest creature in the whole world. They had also made some enemies, the worst of the number being Dan Baxter, a fellow who had been the bully of the school, but who was now a homeless wanderer on the face of the earth. Baxter came from a disreputable family, his father having at one time tried to swindle Mr. Rover out of a rich gold mine in the West. The elder Baxter was now in prison suffering the penalty for various crimes.
A term at school had been followed by an exciting chase on the ocean, and then by a trip through the jungle of Africa, whence the Rover boys had gone to find their long-lost father. After this the boys made a trip West to establish their parent's claim to the gold mine just mentioned, and this was followed by a grand trip on the Great Lakes in which the boys suffered not a little at the hands of the Baxters. On an island on one of the lakes the Rover boys found a curious casket and this, on being opened, proved to contain some directions for locating a treasure secreted in the heart of the Adirondack Mountains.
"We must locate that treasure," said Tom Rover, and off they started for the mountains, and did locate it at last, but not before Dan Baxter had done everything in his power to locate it ahead of them. When they finally outwitted their enemy, Dan Baxter had disappeared, and that was the last they had seen of him for some time.
The Rover boys had expected to return to Putnam Hall and their studies immediately after the winter outing in the Adirondacks, but an unexpected happening at the institution of learning made them change their plans. Three pupils were taken down with scarlet fever, and rather than run the risk of having more taken sick, Captain Victor Putnam had closed up the Academy for the time being, and sent the pupils to their homes.
"The boys will have to go to some other school," their Aunt Martha had said, but one and another had murmured at this, for they loved Captain Putnam too well to desert him so quickly.
"Let us wait a few months," had been Dick's suggestion.
"Let us study at home," had come from Sam.
"Let us travel," Tom had put in. "Travel broadens the mind." He loved to be "on the go" all the time.
The matter was talked over for several days, and Tom begged that they might take a trip across the continent and back, using some of the money derived from the old treasure. At last Anderson Rover consented; and two days later the three boys were off, going by way of New York City, on the Chicago Limited. They had spent two days in the great city by the lakes, and then come direct to the Golden Gate city.
"I wonder if we will meet anybody we know while we are out here," said Tom, as the carriage continued on its way.
"If we get down to Santa Barbara I think we'll meet somebody," answered Dick, and he blushed just a trifle. "I got a letter in Chicago, as you know. It was from Dora Stanhope, and she said that she and her mother were traveling again and expected to go either to Santa Barbara or Los Angeles. Her mother is not well again, and the doctor thought the air on the Pacific coast might benefit her."
"Oh, my, but won't Dick have an elegant time, if he falls in with Dora!" cried Sam. "Tom, we won't be in it."
"Now don't you start to tease me," returned Dick, his face redder than ever. "I guess Dora always gave you a good time, too."
"That's right, she did," said Tom. And then he added: "Did she say anything about the Lanings?" For the Laning girls, Nellie and Grace, were cousins to Dora Stanhope, and Tom and Sam thought almost as much of them as Dick did of Dora.
"To be sure she did," replied Dick. "But I guess it's—well, it's a secret."
"A secret!" shouted Sam. "Not much, Dick! Let us in on it at once!"
"Yes, do!" put in Tom.
"But it may prove a disappointment."
"We'll chance it," returned Tom.
"Well then, Dora wrote that if she and her mother could find a nice cottage at Los Angeles or Santa Barbara they were going to invite Nellie and Grace to come out and keep house with them for six months or so."
"Hurrah!" cried Sam enthusiastically. "I hope they come. If they do, won't the six of us just have boss times!" And his face glowed with anticipation.
"We can certainly have good times if Mrs. Stanhope's health will permit," said Dick. "Here we are at the hotel."
He uttered the last words as the carriage came to a stop at the curb. He leaped out and so did the others; and a few minutes later found them safe and sound in the hotel. They were assigned to a large room on the third floor, and hither they made their way, followed by their trunks, and then began to wash and dress up, preparatory to going down to the dining room, for the journeying around since breakfast had made them hungry.
"I think I am going to like San Francisco," said Tom, as he was adjusting a fresh collar and gazing out of the window at the same time. "Everything looks so bright and clean."
"They have some pretty tall buildings here, the same as in Chicago and New York," came from Dick, as he, too, gazed out of the window.
"Oh, all the big cities are a good deal alike," put in Sam, who was drying his face on a towel.
"San Francisco is a mighty rich place," continued Tom. "They are too rich even to use pennies. It's five cents here, or a bit there, or two bits for this and two bits for that. I never heard a quarter called two bits in New York."
"I've been told that is a Southern expression, and one used in the West Indies," said Dick. "The early Californians—My gracious!"
Dick broke off short and leaned far out of the window, which they had opened to let in the fresh spring air.
"What's up?" queried Tom. "Don't fall out." And he caught his elder brother by the arm.
"I must have been mistaken. But it did look like him," said Dick slowly.
"Look like whom?" asked Sam, joining the pair.
"Dan Baxter! Here?" shouted the others.
"I am pretty sure it was Dan Baxter."
"Where is he?" asked Tom.
"He is gone now—he just disappeared around the hotel corner."
"Well, if it really was Dan Baxter, we want to keep our eyes open," was Sam's comment.
THE TURNING UP OF DAN BAXTER
The boys were very curious concerning their old enemy, and on going below took a walk around several squares in the vicinity, in the hope of meeting the individual who had attracted Dick's attention.
But the search proved unsuccessful, and they returned to the hotel and went to dinner, with a larger appetite than ever.
"It would be queer if we met Dan Baxter out here," said Tom, while they were eating. "He seems to get on our heels, no matter where we go.
"If he came to San Francisco first, he'll think we have been following him up," said Sam.
"He must have come here before we did," said Dick. "Our arrival dates back but three hours," and he grinned.
The meal over the boys took it easy for a couple of hours, and then prepared to go out and visit half a dozen points of interest and also purchase tickets for a performance at one of the leading theaters in the evening.
As they crossed the lobby of the hotel they almost ran into a big, burly young fellow who was coming in the opposite direction.
"Dan Baxter!" ejaculated Dick. "Then I was right after all."
The burly young fellow stared first at Dick and then the others in blank amazement. He carried a dress-suit case, and this dropped from his hand to the floor.
"Whe—where did yo—you come from?" he stammered at last.
"I guess we can ask the same question," said Tom coldly.
"Been following me, have you?" sneered Dan Baxter, making an effort to recover his self-possession.
"No, we haven't been following you," said Sam.
"Supposing you tell us how it happens that you are here?"
"Suppose you tell us how it happens that you are here," came from Dick.
"That is my business."
"Our business is our own, too, Dan Baxter."
"You followed me," growled the big bully, his face darkening. "I know you and don't you forget it."
"Why should we follow you?" said Tom. "We got the best of you over that treasure in the Adirondacks."
"Oh, you needn't blow. Remember the old saying, 'He laughs best who laughs last.' I aint done with you yet—not by a long shot."
"Well, let me warn you to keep your distance," said Dick sternly. "If you don't, you'll regret it. We have been very easy with you in the past, but if you go too far, I, for one, will be for putting you where your father is, in prison."
"And I say the same," said Tom.
"Ditto here," came from Sam.
At these words a look of bitter hatred crossed Dan Baxter's face. He clenched his fists and breathed hard.
"You can brag when you are three to one," he cried fiercely. "But wait, that's all. My father would be a free man if it wasn't for you. Wait, and see what I do!"
And so speaking he caught up his dress-suit case, swung around on his heel, and left the hotel before anybody could stop him.
"He's the same old Baxter," said Tom, with a long sigh. "Always going to square up."
"I think he is more vindictive than he used to be," observed Sam. "When Dick spoke about his father being in prison he looked as if he would like to strangle the lot of us."
"Well, I admit it would be rough on any ordinary boy to mention the fact that his father was in prison," said Dick. "But we all know, and Dan Baxter himself knows, that one is about as wicked as the other. The only thing that makes Arnold Baxter's case worse is that he is old enough to know better."
"So is Dan old enough to know better," was Tom's comment.
"I believe he was coming here to get accommodations," said Dick.
"If he was, that would tend to prove that he had just arrived in San Francisco, Dick."
"True. But he may have been in this vicinity, perhaps in Oakland, Alameda, or some other nearby town."
"What do you suppose could have brought him here?"
"That's a conundrum. Maybe he thought the East was getting too hot to hold him."
"I wish we knew where he was going."
"Let us see if we can follow him up."
But to follow Dan Baxter up was out of the question, as they speedily discovered when they stepped out on the sidewalk. People were hurrying in all directions, and the bully had been completely swallowed up in the crowd.
"We must watch out," said Dick. "Now he knows we are here he will try to do us harm, mark my words."
The walk that afternoon proved full of interest, and in the evening they went to see a performance of a light opera at the Columbia Theater. The performance gave them a good deal of pleasure.
"Quarter past eleven!" exclaimed Dick, when they were coming away. "That's the time we got our money's worth."
"I thought it must be late," said Tom. "I was getting hungry. Let us get a bite of something before we go back to the hotel."
The others were willing, and they entered a nearby restaurant and seated themselves at one of the tables. As they did this, a person who had been following them stopped at the door to peer in after them. The person was Dan Baxter.
"They are going to dine before retiring," he muttered to himself. "The Old Nick take the luck! They have all the good times, while I have only the bad!"
Dan Baxter had followed the boys from the hotel to the theater and had also waited around for them to come out. He wanted to "square up" with them, but had no definite plan of action, and was trusting to luck for something to turn up in his favor.
He had drifted to the West for a double reason. The one was, as the boys had surmised, because the East seemed to be getting too hot to hold him. His second reason was that he hoped to get passage on some vessel bound for Sydney, Australia. He had a distant relative in Australia, and thought that if he could only see that relative personally he might be able to get some money. He was nearly out of funds, and so far the relative, although rich, had refused to send any money by mail or express.
"They have everything they want, while I have nothing," he went on savagely. "And they don't deserve it, either. Oh, how I wish I could wring their necks for 'em!"
Suddenly an idea struck him and without waiting for the boys to come out of the restaurant he hopped on board of a street car running in the direction of the Oakland House. Entering the hotel office he asked to look at the register.
"Room 324," he said to himself. "That is on the third floor, I suppose, since they generally start a new hundred for every floor. Wonder if I can get up without being noticed?"
He watched his chance, and slipping past the bell boys, made his way up the stairs, which, on account of the elevators, were but little used. In a few minutes he was in front of the door to Room 324. He tried it cautiously, to find it locked.
"Now if only the keys will work," he muttered, breathing hard, and taking a bunch of keys from his pocket he tried them, one after another.
He had tried four keys without success, when he saw a waiter approaching with a trayful of good things for a late supper in a nearby apartment. At once he moved away down the hallway and did not return until the servant had disappeared from view.
He had five other keys and the third fitted the lock, although rather crudely; so crudely in fact that once the lock bolt was turned the key could not be withdrawn.
"That's bad," he thought. "But as it cannot be helped I'll have to make the best of it. I mustn't stay here too long," and going into the room he closed the door after him.
There was a faint light burning at one of the gas jets and this he turned up, and pulled down the shades of the windows. Then he gazed swiftly around the large room, noting the boys' trunks and traveling bags and several articles of wearing apparel scattered about.
"Oh, if only I can find what I am after," he muttered. "But more than likely they carry their money with them, or else they left it at the hotel office."
All of the trunks and traveling bags were locked, and to force the trunks open seemed at first impossible. One of the traveling bags was slit open with a sharp pocket-knife the bully carried and the contents emptied on one of the beds.
"Not much that I want," muttered Dan Baxter, as he gazed at the collection. Then a jewel case caught his eye and he opened it. "A diamond stud and a diamond scarf pin! Not so bad, after all!" And he transferred the jewelry to his pocket.
A second later he came upon a bunch of keys. They proved to belong to the trunks and bags, and soon he had the trunks open and the contents scattered in all directions. Then he went down on his knees, examining everything brought to light.
It must be confessed that he was in a fever of excitement. The Rover boys might return at any moment, and he knew full well that to be caught would mean a term in prison. He kept his ears on the alert while his heart thumped loudly within his bosom.
"A pocketbook at last!" he cried softly, and snatched it up. One look showed him a, small pile of five and ten-dollar bills, exactly two hundred and seventy-five dollars in all. Then he found another jewel case, and from it extracted a second diamond stud and a pair of very fine cuff buttons.
"That is all I guess I can get," he muttered, as he stood up. "But I might as well take a new outfit while I am at it," he added, and picked up several articles of wearing apparel. These he stuffed in one of the bags which had not been cut, and around it put a small strap.
Tiptoeing his way to the door, he opened it and listened. Nobody was within hearing or sight. But as he stepped out, the waiter he had before seen came once more into view, this time carrying a tray with some bottles and a box of cigars. The waiter eyed him curiously again, but said nothing.
"Too bad he saw me, but it can't be helped," thought Dan Baxter, and made his way downstairs with all possible speed. Once in the lower hall he lost no time in gaining the street. In another moment he was swallowed up in the darkness of the night.
A DISCOVERY AND WHAT FOLLOWED
"Hullo, what does this mean? Here is a key in the door."
It was Dick Rover who spoke. He stood in the hallway of the hotel, and beside him were Tom and Sam. They had eaten rather heartily at the restaurant and taken more time than they had anticipated.
"I didn't leave the key there," came from Tom. "Here it is," and he brought it out of his pocket. "I meant to leave it at the desk, but it slipped my mind."
Dick found the door open and walked into the room, followed by his brothers. Baxter had extinguished the gas and they stood in the dark until Sam found a match and lit up. Then a cry went up from all three:
"We have been robbed!"
"This is some sneak thief's work," came from Dick. "Run down and tell the hotel clerk at once."
Tom bolted from the room and went down the stairs three steps at a time. The clerk sat dozing in his chair and was roused up with difficulty. But as soon as he realized that something was wrong he was wide-awake.
"A robbery, eh?" he queried. "What have you lost?"
"We've got to find that out," answered Tom.
In less than a quarter of an hour they knew the extent of their loss—three diamonds and a pair of cuff buttons, in all worth over two hundred dollars, and two hundred and seventy-five dollars in cash—not to mention a ruined valise and one missing, and the loss of a light overcoat, some silk handkerchiefs and some underwear.
"A total loss of over five hundred dollars," said Tom.
At this the hotel clerk gave a long whistle. "As much as that?"
"Yes," said Dick.
"We must get on the track of the thief, and without delay."
"I reckon I know the thief," said Sam.
"You think it was Dan Baxter?" questioned his elder brother.
"Perhaps you are right. But there is no proof that he did it."
The hotel clerk found the windows closed and locked.
"The thief came in and went out by the door," he said. "The hall boys or somebody else must have seen him. This key is stuck in the lock, which proves that it is not a regular hotel key."
Without delay the story of the robbery was telephoned to the nearest police station, and soon two detectives appeared. By this time some of the servants noticed that something was wrong, and the waiter who had seen Dan Baxter come in and go out told his story, to which the boys, the hotel clerk, and the detectives listened with interest.
"Tell us just how that fellow looked," said Dick, and the waiter gave a very good description of the person he had seen.
"I imagine Sam is right," said Dick. "If it wasn't Dan Baxter it was his double."
Upon hearing this the hotel clerk and the detectives insisted upon knowing who Dan Baxter was, and the boys told as much of the bully as they deemed necessary.
"Of course, if he is guilty the chances are that he will leave San Francisco as soon as possible," said one of the detectives. "The best we can do is to try to head him off."
"And we'll do our best to find him, too," added Tom.
"I think the hotel ought to be responsible for this robbery," said Dick.
"You didn't leave your key at the desk when you went out," cried the hotel clerk, struck by a sudden idea.
"What of that?" asked Tom.
"That makes the guest responsible."
"What!" cried Tom, aghast.
"We are responsible only when the key is left at the desk. And jewels must be left for keeping in one of our safes," went on the clerk. "There are our rules," and he pointed to the printed form tacked on the inside of the door.
"Don't let us talk about that just now," said one of the detectives. "I think we can get hold of this thief, and if we are quick about it we'll get everything he took, too."
The matter was talked over for a quarter of an hour longer and then the detectives went off to make their report and to follow on the trail of Dan Baxter, if such a thing was possible.
It must be confessed that the three Rover boys slept but little that night. The loss of the cash was something of a serious matter to them, even though they still possessed a hundred odd dollars in cash between them, and could easily telegraph home for more. More than this, the diamonds and cuff buttons had been gifts of which they were very proud.
"And to think that Dan Baxter should get them," said Tom. "I wouldn't feel half so bitter if it had been just some ordinary sneak thief." And the others said the same.
Two days went by and nothing was learned concerning Dan Baxter further than that he had put up at the Montgomery Hotel for one night and had left early in the morning.
"He is hundreds of miles away from here by this time," said Dick sadly.
"He said he would get square, and I guess he has done it," returned Tom.
But Dan Baxter had not gotten as far as they supposed. He was in hiding in Oakland, across the bay, having pawned the diamonds at a pawn-broker's of shady reputation for seventy-five dollars. This gave him three hundred and fifty dollars in cash, which made him, for the time being, feel quite rich.
But he was afraid to take a train to some other town, and so remained in the boarding house for nearly a week, under the assumed name of Robert Brown.
At the end of the fifth day Dan Baxter became acquainted with a seafaring man named Jack Lesher. Lesher was a rough fellow, who had sailed to many ports on the Pacific Ocean. He had now obtained the position of first mate on a large schooner which was to sail in a few days from San Francisco to several ports in Australia.
"I'd like to go on that trip to Australia," said Baxter, thinking of his distant relative. "Do you want a passenger?"
"I'll see about it, my hearty," replied Jack Lesher, and on the following day said that Captain Blossom would take him for an even hundred dollars. A bargain was struck at once, and Dan Baxter went on board of the schooner Golden Wave that afternoon.
"I'm glad I am out of it," he told himself, when snug on board of the craft. "I'll get to Australia after all, and I'm considerably richer than I thought I would be. More than that, I've got in on those Rover boys in a way they won't forget in a hurry."
While the detectives looked for the thief, the boys had small heart to go sight-seeing. Every time they, went out they looked for Dan Baxter.
"If only I could meet him!" cried Tom. "Oh, but wouldn't I just punch him good before I passed him over to a policeman."
During those days the lads received several letters from home, and also three communications from the Stanhopes and the Lanings.
"The Stanhopes have gone to Santa Barbara," announced Dick, after perusing an epistle from Dora. "And she says her mother is slightly better."
"Nellie Laning is coming out, and so is Grace," said Tom.
"When?" questioned Dick.
"They have already started, according to the letter I have," put in Sam. "Boys, I think we can have just the jolliest time ever was when the girls are all together."
"Right you are," came from Tom. "What a pity we had to have that robbery to darken our fun."
"I am not going to let it darken my fun," said Dick. "Don't worry but what some day we'll get the best of Dan Baxter. That stolen stuff will never do him much good."
The very next morning came word from the detectives. One of them called at the hotel.
"I am afraid the case is queered," said he. "We tracked the rascal to Oakland, and now it looks as if he had given us the slip for good."
"Can't you find any trace of him?" questioned Sam.
"Oh, yes! but he has shipped on a vessel which is bound for Australia, and as she is already two days out of port he is out of our reach."
"You are certain he went on that vessel?" cried Tom.
"Yes. He went as a passenger, under the name of Robert Brown."
"And did he take the jewels and money with him?"
"More than likely. At any rate, we can find no trace of the jewels."
"Then that chase is done for," said Dick, "and we shall have to pocket our loss."
The detective was chagrined to think that he had tracked Dan Baxter only to lose him, and promised to see if anything more could be done in the matter.
But nothing could be done, as there was no telling when the Golden Wave would arrive at Australia, and what port the craft would first make.
"We have seen the last of Dan Baxter," said Sam.
But the youngest Rover was mistaken. They were to meet the bully again, and under circumstances as astonishing as they were perilous.
GOOD TIMES AT SANTA BARBARA
"What a land of plenty!"
It was Tom who made the remark.
The Rover boys were on their way to Santa Barbara, after having spent three weeks at San Francisco and vicinity. They had received word that Dora Stanhope and her mother and the two Laning girls were at the fashionable watering place, and they were anxious to meet their old friends.
On sped the luxurious train, over hills and through the valleys, past heavy woodlands and by rich fruit farms. It was a scene which interested them greatly, and they never tired of sitting at the windows, gazing out.
Presently the car door opened and a tall young fellow, carrying a valise, stepped inside and walked down the aisle. As he came closer Dick Rover leaped up.
"Bob Sutter!" he cried, with a smile of pleasure. "Who would ever dream of meeting you out here?"
"Is it really Dick Rover?" questioned the newcomer, as he shook hands. "And Tom and Sam, too! I must be dreaming. Is Putnam Hall on its travels?"
"We are on our travels," replied Tom, also shaking hands, followed by Sam. "But what are you doing here?"
Bob Sutter, a former scholar at Putnam Hall, smiled broadly.
"I live in California now. My father is interested in real estate in Los Angeles, Ventura, and Santa Barbara. Our home is in Santa Barbara."
"That is where we are going," came from Sam.
"What are you doing just traveling around?"
"Yes; we thought we'd put in time until the Hall opens again."
"I heard it had been closed. Too bad! If you are going to Santa Barbara, you must call and see me by all means," went on Bob Sutter.
"To be sure we will," said Tom, and his brothers nodded.
"We were going down there now to call on the Stanhopes," said Dick. "They have come here for the benefit of Mrs. Stanhope's health, and Nellie and Grace Laning are with them. I guess you know them all."
"I know the Laning girls, and I think I did meet Miss Stanhope once—at a football game. I'll be glad to meet them again. But tell me about yourselves."
Bob Sutter sat down, and soon all were talking at a lively rate. The newcomer was astonished to hear of the doings of Dan Baxter.
"The Baxters always were a hard crowd," he said. "I hope you'll get back your stuff some time."
It was late at night when Santa Barbara was reached, yet many of the hotels were a blaze of light from top to bottom. At the depot the Rover boys parted with Bob Sutter, but promised to call upon him in a day or two.
"I've got a fine yacht," said Bob Sutter. "Some time I want to take you for a trip."
"Just what we were wishing for!" cried Tom. "Just name your time, that's all."
"How will next Monday suit?"
"Will your yacht hold us?" asked Sam.
"The Old Glory will hold ten passengers on a pinch," answered Bob Sutter.
"Then you don't sail the craft alone."
"I can sail her in fair weather. But father makes me take an old sailor named Jerry Tolman along with me. Jerry is a character—a regular old salt, and I love to have his company. And that makes me think! Why can't we make up a party and go out? You can bring the three girls you are going to visit, and I can bring my cousin, Mary Parloe."
"Now you are talking!" shouted Sam. "What a jolly trip it will be!"
The proposal met with immediate approval, and it was decided that the boys should meet not later than Saturday afternoon to complete arrangements.
The Rover boys had received word that Mrs. Stanhope had rented a furnished cottage not far from one of the leading hotels. The lady was very nervous, and did not like too much noise and confusion about her. Meals were brought in from the hotel, which made it very pleasant.
When the three boys drove up in a carriage from the depot, three girls came rushing out to greet them. The three were Dora Stanhope and her two cousins, Nellie and Grace Laning.
"So here you are at last!" cried Dora Stanhope, as she gave Dick's hand a tight squeeze.
"We almost made up our mind you had missed the train," said Nellie Laning to Tom, giving him a bright smile as she spoke.
"How fine you are looking," said Grace to Sam. "Traveling must agree with you."
"Traveling does agree with us," said Sam.
"We would have been here sooner, only we stopped to talk to an old schoolmate," said Dick, and then he told about Bob Sutter.
"Oh, I remember Bob Sutter," said Nellie. "We went on a straw-ride together once—before you came to Putnam Hall," she added, to Tom.
"I know him, too," put in Grace. "He's a nice boy."
"Of course he is," said Sam pointedly.
"But he isn't as nice as some boys," went on Grace in a lower tone, and giving Sam an arch smile that made him feel very happy.
They were soon in the cottage and greeting Mrs. Stanhope, who had been lying on a couch. The lady greeted them in a motherly way that made them feel more at home than ever. She thought a great deal of the Rover boys, and especially of Dick, and did not object in the least to the marked attention Dick bestowed upon her only child. As my old readers know, the Rover boys had, in the past, done mother and daughter more than one valuable service.
The boys were fortunate in obtaining rooms in the hotel close to the cottage, which would make it possible for them to run in and out as they pleased.
"It's like old times to be together again," said Tom, when he and his brothers were retiring that night. "And, as Mrs. Stanhope is feeling so well, I guess we can have lots of fun."
And fun they did have. There were bathing in the surf, and lawn tennis, and dancing at the hotel in the evening, and also lovely walks and drives, and once they went out on horseback to a large fruit farm some miles away, and were royally entertained by some of Bob Sutter's friends. Bob Sutter and his cousin, Mary Parloe, went along, and proved first-class company.
The idea of a trip on Bob's yacht suited everybody, and it was decided that the whole party should go out early Monday morning, taking old Jerry Tolman with them. They were to load down well with provisions and visit not only several points along the coast, but also one or two of the islands lying twenty-five to thirty miles south of Santa Barbara.
The Rover boys had already inspected the Old Glory and found her to be a first-class yacht in every respect. The craft was about sixty feet in length and correspondingly broad of beam. She carried a tall mast, but the lead in her keel was amply sufficient to keep her from going over unless under full sail in a very heavy wind. The cabin was fairly large and richly furnished, for the Sutters were a family of means, and desired everything of the best.
If the boys liked the yacht they also liked the man who had charge of her, bluff and hearty Jerry Tolman—Captain Jerry, as Bob Sutter called him. He was truly an old salt, having sailed the ocean since his tenth year, on both whalers and merchantmen. Captain Jerry lacked a book education, but he was naturally shrewd, and far from being a fool.
"Downright glad to meet ye, my hearties," he said, when the boys were brought on board. And he gave each hand a grip like that of iron. "Want to look over my lady, eh? Well, she's a putty one to inspect, take my word on't." And he showed them over the craft with pleasure. They found the yacht clean "as a whistle," and each particular bit of brasswork polished like a mirror.
By Saturday evening all was ready for the trip. On Sunday morning the Rover boys went to church with the Stanhopes and the Lanings, and rested in the afternoon.
They were just about to go to supper, when a note came for Dick. It was from Bob Sutter, and ran as follows:
"MY DEAR DICK: My cousin and I have been in an accident. We went driving to church this morning and the horse ran away and threw us both out on the rocks. Miss Parloe had her collar bone broken, and I broke my left ankle. Kindly come and see me if you can."
"An accident!" cried Tom. "That is too bad."
"Let us all go and see him," suggested Sam, and this plan was carried out.
They found that Bob Sutter was resting easily on his bed. The doctor had set the broken ankle, and put it in plaster, and he had told Bob that he must keep quiet for several weeks.
"This ends that yacht trip, so far as I am concerned," said Bob ruefully.
"Never mind, we can wait until you get well," said Dick cheerfully, although he did not expect' to remain at Santa Barbara more than ten days longer.
"No, I don't want you to wait," answered Bob Sutter. "My cousin won't be well, so they tell me, for several months, and I won't want to go without her. I've been thinking that you had better take the trip without us. Captain Jerry can easily run the yacht with your aid."
"That's very kind of you," said Tom. "But we'd rather have you along."
The matter was talked over for an hour. The Rover boys knew that Dora, Nellie, and Grace would be sorely disappointed if the yacht trip was given up. At last they decided to accept Bob Sutter's kind suggestion and make the trip without the company of the young owner and his cousin; and then they withdrew, wishing Bob a speedy recovery.
ON BOARD OF THE YACHT
"What a glorious day for the trip!"
"We are going to turn real sailors, aren't we?"
"Can't I help pull up a sail or something, Tom?"
Such were the remarks of Dora, Nellie, and Grace as they boarded the Old Glory early on Monday morning.
The boys and Captain Jerry were there to receive them, having arrived an hour before, to see that all the provisions were stowed away, and that the craft was in prime condition for sailing. By a curious combination of circumstances Bob Sutter had ordered far more provisions than were necessary for such a short trip, but Captain Jerry had found a place for everything, remarking that they might come in useful after all, but never dreaming how useful, as later events were to prove.
Mrs. Stanhope had come down in a carriage to see them off. She kissed all of the girls an affectionate good-by.
"Have a good time," she said. "And be sure and come back safe and sound."
"Don't ye worry but what I'll bring 'em back safe enough, ma'am," said Captain Jerry, as he tipped his cap respectfully.
When the girls were safe on board, the boys waved an adieu to Mrs. Stanhope. Then they ranged up in a row in front of old Jerry and each touched his forelock and gave a hitch to his trowser leg.
"Ready for orders, cap'n," they said, in unison, having practiced this little by-play in secret.
"Wh—what?" stammered Captain Jerry, gazing at them in bewilderment.
"Ready for orders, sir," they said.
"Shall we shake out the mainsail?" asked Dick.
"Shall I hoist the jib?" came from Tom.
"Can I set the topsail, captain?" put in Sam.
"Well, by the son o' Neptune!" gasped Captain Jerry. "Got a real, generwine crew, aint I? All right, my hearties, I'll set ye to work fast enough." And then followed a string of orders in true nautical style, and the Rover boys flew in one direction and another to execute them. Up went the mainsail and the jib, and the top-sail followed, and soon the Old Glory was standing off into Santa Barbara Channel, with Mrs. Stanhope in the carriage waving them an adieu, and the girls and the boys waving their handkerchiefs in return.
It certainly was a glorious day, as Dora had said, and after the sails were set, there was nothing to do but to take it easy on the cushions of the rail seats. Captain Jerry was at the wheel, but he promised to let each of them "take a trick" in his place before the trip should come to an end.
"I jest wish we had another yacht to race with," said the old sailor. "Then I could show ye what sort o' a clean pair o' heels the Old Glory could show the other craft."
"It is easy to see the yacht is speedy," replied Dick. "She cuts the water like a thing of life. And you know just how to get her best speed out of her," he went on, a remark that pleased old Jerry very much.
"Will we have more breeze, do you think?" asked Tom, later on, as he observed some in clouds to the westward.
"Can't say as to that, lad. Those clouds may come this way and they may blow north'ard. If they come down here, we'll catch it putty lively."
"I like a good, stiff breeze," came from Sam.
"Oh, don't run us into a storm," cried Grace in alarm. "We might all get seasick."
"Don't be alarmed," said Dick. "We are a very long way from a storm, to my way of thinking."
The morning passed quickly enough, and at noon they ran into a small harbor on one of the islands and had dinner in true picnic style. At one o'clock they packed up once more, went on board of the Old Glory, and stood off to the westward, for all wanted a run "right on the ocean," as Tom expressed it.
Captain Jerry was just a bit doubtful of the trip, for the clouds in the western sky had grown considerably larger than when first noticed. Not that he did not think the yacht could weather a blow, but he was afraid the young ladies would get seasick. However, as he did not wish to put a damper on their fun, he said nothing, resolved to turn back at the first sign of any "inward upsettin'," as he expressed it.
The breeze had increased, and as it was directly from off shore the Old Glory bowled along merrily over the waves. Nobody showed the least sign of seasickness, and they talked, laughed, and sang as if they had not a care in the world. Tom also did some fishing, and caught a string of the finny tribe, of which he was justly proud.
"You can bake them for us when we get back," he said to Nellie. "And then we can all have a fish party."
"I could go on sailing like this for a week," said Dick to Dora, as they moved forward. "I mean if you were along with me," he added, in a lower tone, and she gave him a look that meant a good deal.
When three o'clock came Captain Jerry announced that they must turn back. They were far out of sight of land, with nothing but the blue ocean around them. Overhead the sky was still clear, but the clouds on the horizon were rapidly increasing.
"Oh, let us keep on a while longer," pleaded Tom. "This is just glorious!" And the others said the same.
So they kept on, although somewhat against Captain Jerry's better judgment. The old sailor was watching the clouds. Presently there came an extra heavy puff of wind, and then the clouds seemed to rush up with lightning-like rapidity.
"Got to go back, now," said the sailor. "Going to have a big blow afore night." And he threw over the tiller and gave the necessary commands to change the sails.
"By Jove, but those clouds are coming up fast!" exclaimed Dick, after a careful survey. "I ever saw them come up like that on the Atlantic, or on the Great Lakes."
"It's unusual," replied Captain Jerry, with a shake of his head. "Never seen it afore myself. The wind is coming around, too. It's goin' to be a different storm from what we generally git around these waters."
The black clouds soon obscured the sun, and the wind began to blow stronger than ever, sending the whitecaps rolling over the ocean, and causing the spray to fly over the deck of the yacht. Nellie clutched Tom by the arm.
"Oh, Tom, what does this mean?" she asked in a trembling voice.
"It means that we are going to have a storm, that's all," he answered as lightly as he could.
"But—but will it hurt us?" came from Grace.
"I don't think so," put in Sam. "But we may get wet, unless we go into the cabin."
"I vote the girls all go into the cabin," said Dick. "Sam can go with them if he wants to. Tom, you and I can stay on deck to look after the sails."
"I'm going to do my duty on deck, too," came from Sam promptly.
Another rush of wind now sent the spray flying in all directions, and to keep from being drenched the girls retired to the tiny cabin, or, rather, cuddy, of which the Old Glory boasted.
"I am sure it is going to be an awful storm," said Dora. "I wish we were safe on land once more."
"Oh, dear! do you think we'll go to the bottom?" asked Nellie.
"The boys won't let the yacht go down," answered Dora. "They are all good sailors, and Captain Jerry must know all about handling this craft. But we may have a very bad time of it before we get back to Santa Barbara."
It was dark in the cabin, but the yacht pitched and plunged so violently that they were afraid to light the lantern. So they huddled together, each holding another's hand.
On deck Captain Jerry gave orders to lower the topsail and haul in the jib. Several reefs were also taken in the mainsail, and the boys stood ready to bring down the rest of the sheet with a rush at the first word from the old sailor.
"It's a re-markable storm—re-markable," said Captain Jerry, chewing vigorously on the quid of tobacco in his cheek. "Aint never seen no sech storm here afore. Puts me in mind o' a blow I stood out in onct off the coast o' Alaska when I was in a whaler. Thet storm caught us same time as this an' ripped our mast out in a jiffy and drowned two o' the sailors."
"I hope nothing like that happens to us," said Dick, with a shudder. He was not thinking of himself, but of the three girls in the cabin.
"Well, lad, it aint goin' to be no easy blow, I kin tell ye that," responded Captain Jerry.
Soon the wind began to whistle shrilly through the air, and the sky became so black they could scarcely see a hundred yards in any direction, Then came some distant flashes of lightning and rolling thunder, and soon the patter of rain.
"Now we are going to catch it," said Tom, and he was right. Ten minutes later it was pouring in torrents, and the rain continued to keep coming down as if there was to be no end of it.
"Boys, aren't you most drowned?" asked Nellie, peeping out of the cabin door.
"No, but you'll be if you come out here," called back Tom.
"We can't stand up and we can't sit still," came from Grace.
"Sorry, but you'll have to make the best of it," answered Sam.
"Oh, we won't mind, if only we reach shore in safety," put in Dora, and then the door was closed again.
On and on swept the Old Glory, through the wind, the rain, and the darkness. As there was no land near, Captain Jerry paid his whole attention to making the yacht ride easily, an almost impossible task in such a sea as was now raging.
Suddenly from somewhere out of the air came a humming sound. It grew louder and louder, and the boys felt a strange suction of wind which made them hold tightly to the rail for fear of being pulled overboard by some uncanny force. There followed a loud snap and a crash, and the mast began to come down.
"Look out for the mast!" screamed Captain Jerry, and all jumped just in the nick of time. Down came the stick, to strike the rail and shatter it like a pipe stem, and then lay over the deck and over the waves beyond.
ADRIFT ON THE PACIFIC OCEAN
"The mast has gone by the board!" screamed Dick, on rising to his feet.
"That stick will turn the yacht over!" gasped Tom.
Poor Sam could not speak, for a wave had struck him full in the mouth, and he had all he could do to keep from being washed overboard.
The girls in the cabin heard the crash above the roaring of the elements, and let up a scream of alarm.
"Are we going down?"
"Shall we come out on deck?"
"Stay where ye are!" shouted back Captain Jerry, clinging to the wheel with a grip of steel. Then he turned to Dick: "Can ye git an ax and clear away the wreck?"
"I'll try it," replied the eldest Rover, and he moved cautiously to where an ax rested in a holder. Soon he had the article in hand, and was chopping away as fast as he could, while Tom, holding to the bottom of the mast with one hand, held Dick with the other. Sam, in the meantime, cut away some.. cordage with a hatchet which was handy.
It was truly a perilous moment, and it looked as if the mighty waves would swamp the Old Glory before the wreckage could be cleared away. The girls stood at a cabin window watching the work and ready to leap out if the yacht should start to go down.
"There it goes!" cried Dick, at last, and gave another stroke with the ax. There followed a snap and a crack, and overboard slid the broken mast, carrying a mass of cordage with it.
At once the Old Glory righted herself, sending a small sheet of water flowing from one side of the deck to the other. Some of the water swept into the cabin, and the girls were alarmed more than ever.
"A good job done that it's overboard," said Captain Jerry. "Another plunge or two and we would have gone over, sure pop!"
With the wreckage cleared away the boys breathed more freely. But the peril was still extreme, for it was no easy matter to keep the craft from taking the mighty waves broadside. But the force of the wind drove them on, and Captain Jerry handled the wheel as only a veteran tar could.
"I guess it's a hurricane," was Tom's comment.
"Looks more like a cyclone to me," spluttered Sam. "I'd give a good deal to be out of it."
To keep from, being swamped they had to run out to sea. This was no pleasant prospect to the boys, but it could not be helped.
"We needn't tell the girls," said Dick. "It will only worry them more, without doing any good."
Two hours went by, and the storm kept on as madly as ever. Night was now coming on, and soon it was impossible to see a hundred feet in any direction. The yacht's lanterns were lit, and one was hoisted on a stick which Dick nailed to the stump of the mast.
"We've got to, have some sort o' light," said Captain Jerry. "If not, we may run afoul o' some other craft."
The time went by slowly, each hour seeming an age. Nobody felt like eating, and nothing was said about supper until nearly nine o'clock, when Dora opened the cabin door and called Dick:
"We thought we would get to shore before eating," she said. "How much longer will we be out, do you think?"
"There is no telling, Dora," he replied evasively.
"No telling? Doesn't Captain Jerry know where we are?"
"Hardly. You see it is so dark, and we can't make any headway with the mast gone."
"How stupid of me! I should have known that. Shall we try to fix up some supper?"
"You might pass some sandwiches. But, no, we had better come down, one at a time," returned Dick.
This suggestion was carried out, Captain Jerry being the last to go down, leaving the wheel in the hands of Dick and Tom.
"Don't ye let it git away from ye," was his caution. "If ye do it will be good-by, 'Liza Jane, an' all of us goin' slam bang to Davy Jones' locker!"
From old Jerry the girls learned that they would probably have to remain on the yacht all night.
"Don't ye git alarmed," he said. "The storm's goin' down, an' we'll come out all right when the sun rises."
The prospect of remaining on the ocean all night was dismaying, and all of the girls wondered what Mrs. Stanhope would say when they did not return.
"I know mother will be very much worried," said Dora soberly.
It was decided by the boys that they should take turns at lying down, each being given two hours in which to rest. Sam was the first to turn in, but it is doubtful if he slept to any extent. Tom followed, and then came Dick. Captain Jerry declined, stating he could sleep when he had the party safe on shore once more.
By morning the storm had taken another turn. It no longer rained, but the sky was murky, and there was a dense fog, which the wind blew first in one direction, and then another. They were still running to sea, with small prospect of being able to turn back.
"This is certainly more than I bargained for," observed Dick to Tom, in a low voice. "To me it looks mighty serious."
"Oh, the storm is bound to go down."
"Yes, Tom, but how long do you suppose the provisions and water will last?"
At this question Tom's face fell.
"I hadn't thought of that, Dick. I don't suppose we have more than enough for to-day, have we?"
"Well, we might make it last two days on a pinch—we brought quite a lot along. But after that—"
"Do you think we'll have to stay out here more than two days?" demanded Sam.
"I don't know what to think, Sam."
"Can't we rig up some sort of a jury-mast?"
"Captain Jerry mentioned that. We'll try."
There was no stick on board of the Old Glory outside of the bowsprit, and at last they decided to saw this off and put it up as a small mast.
The task was no easy one, and just as the temporary mast was being fitted into place there came an extra heavy puff of wind which sent the yacht far over on her side.
"Hold fast, all of ye!" roared Captain Jerry, and they obeyed, and the stick went rolling over the side and out of sight in the billows.
"Gone!" gasped Tom. "That ends putting up another mast."
Slowly the day wore along. The girls were silent, and if the truth be told more than one tear was shed between them, although before the boys they tried to put on a brave face. There were no regular meals, and by the advice of Captain Jerry and Dick they were sparing of the provisions and the water.
"Our only hope now is for the storm to go down, or else to sight some passing ship," said Dick. "Getting back to Santa Barbara at present is out of the question. For all we know, we may be a hundred or two hundred miles from the coast."
About two o'clock in the afternoon the sky cleared a little. But as the fog lifted, the wind blew with greater force, sending them reeling and plunging into the mighty waves.
"It looks as if we should be swamped after all," said Tom dolefully.
"Never say die, Tom," came from Sam resolutely.
"I suppose Mrs. Stanhope will be worried half to death."
"No doubt of it."
Nobody had any heart to talk, and each watched eagerly for some sign of a sail. Tom had a spyglass, and just before sunset he let out a shout:
"A ship! A ship!"
"Where?" came from the others.
"Off in that direction," and Tom pointed with his hand.
All took a look through the glass, and saw that he was right. There was a steamer approaching.
"If only they see us." said Dick, and his brothers nodded.
The girls had heard the cry, and now came on deck to learn what it meant.
"Oh, I hope they take us on board and back home," said Nellie. "I must say I am heartily tired of this yacht."
The wind was increasing, and the girls had to go back to the cabin to keep from getting wet. The boys put up a flag, upside down, on a piece of planking, and waited eagerly for the steamer to come nearer.
"The yacht is settling," cried Dick, a little while later. "Don't you notice it?"
"The Old Glory has sprung some leaks," responded Captain Jerry sadly. "Take the wheel while I go and look them over."
Tom and Sam, took the wheel, while old Jerry and Dick inspected the leaks. They soon reported that two seams had opened at the bow, and that there was a bad break at the stern, which was bound soon to interfere with the rudder.
"I believe that steamer is going to leave us!" cried Sam, a little while later.
"Oh, don't say that," said Dick. "We must signal her somehow."
"We'll fire some rockets," said Captain Jerry.
This was done, and a little later they saw that the steamer was heading in their direction. By this time the Old Glory showed unmistakable signs of being on the point of foundering, and the girls were told to come on deck. Everybody was given a life preserver, which had been kept close at hand since the beginning of the trouble.
"We are seen!" cried Sam joyously, as a signal came from the steamer.
Gradually the strange vessel drew closer, and they saw that she was a rather clumsy affair of the "tramp" pattern, used to carry all sorts of cargoes from one port to another.
"They are lowering a small boat," said Sam, a little later.
"I wish they would hurry," returned Tom, in a low voice. "I believe this yacht is going to go down very soon."
At last the small boat was close enough to be hailed, and preparations were made for transferring the girls first.
It was no easy matter to make the change, and it took a good quarter of an hour to land the girls on the steamer's deck.
By this time the Old Glory was completely water-logged.
"We have got to jump for it, lads!" cried Captain Jerry, "unless you want to go down with her!"
And jump they did, into the mighty waves, and none too soon, for a minute later the yacht went down, out of their sight forever.
The small boat was not far away, and soon Sam and Tom were picked up. To get Dick and Captain Jerry was not so easy, but the task was finally accomplished, and soon all of our friends stood on the deck of the tramp steamer, safe and sound once more.
"Thank fortune we got away from 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 particularly 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.
FROM ONE SHIP TO ANOTHER
"We struck something!"
"What is the matter?"
"Are we going down?"
These and a score of other cries rang out on board the steamer. The thumping and bumping continued, followed by a crashing that could mean but one thing—that the ship was being splintered, and that her seams were being laid wide open.
As soon as possible the Rover boys slipped into some clothing and went on deck. They were quickly followed by the three girls, who clung tight to them in terror.
"Oh, Dick, this is the worst yet!" came from Dora. "What will be the end?"
"The Tacoma is sinking!" was the cry from out of the darkness.
"Are we really sinking?" gasped Nellie as she clutched Tom.
"Yes, we are," came from Sam. "Can't you feel the deck settling?"
They could, only too plainly, and in a minute more the water seemed to be running all around them. The cries continued, but it was so black they could see next to nothing.
What happened in the next few minutes the Rover boys could scarcely tell, afterward. An effort was made to get out a life-boat, and it disappeared almost as soon as it left the side, carrying some sailors with it. Then some red-fire blazed up, lighting up the tragic scene, and revealing a schooner standing close by the steamer. The sailing vessel had her bowsprit broken and part of her forward rail torn away.
"If we must die, let us die together!" said Dick, and they kept together as well as they could. Old Jerry was with them, and said he would do all he could for them. He had already passed around life-preservers, and these they put on with all possible speed.
Then followed a sudden plunge of the steamer and all found themselves in the waves of the ocean. They went down together, each holding the hand of somebody else. When they came up, Tom was close to a life-line thrown from the sailing vessel and this he clutched madly.
"Haul us in!" he yelled. "Haul us in!" And the line was pulled in with care, and after ten minutes of extreme peril the boys and the girls and Captain Jerry found themselves on board of the sailing vessel, which proved to be a large three-masted schooner.
All of our friends were so exhausted that they had to be carried to the cabin and here Dora and Grace fainted away completely, while Nellie was little better off. Tom had had his left arm bruised and Dick was suffering from an ugly scratch on the forehead. It was fully an hour before any of them felt like moving around.
In the meantime the two vessels had separated, and though red fire was burned twice, after that, and rockets sent up, nothing more was seen or heard of the Tacoma or those left on board.
"But I don't think she went down," said Captain Jerry. "She was too well built for that." And he was right, as events proved. Much crippled the steamer two days later entered Honolulu harbor, where she was laid up for repairs.
Worn out completely by what they had passed through, the boys slept heavily for the rest of the night, not caring what ship they were on or where they were going. Everybody was busy with the wreckage, so they were left almost entirely to themselves.
Tom was the first to get up, and going on deck found that the storm had cleared away and that the sun was shining brightly. Without delay he halted a sailor who happened to be passing.
"What ship is this?" he questioned.
"Dis ship da Golden Wave," replied the sailor, who was a Norwegian.
"And where are you bound?"
"Da ship sail for Australia."
"Great Scott! Australia!" gasped Tom. "This is the worst yet."
"What's up, Tom?" asked Sam, who had followed his brother.
"This sailor tells me this ship is bound for Australia."
"Why, that is thousands of miles away!"
"I know it."
"If we go to Australia, we'll never get back."
"Not quite as bad as that, Sam. But we certainly don't want to go to Australia."
"Who is the captain?"
"Captain Blossom," replied the sailor. "Where is he?"
The sailor said he would take them to the captain and did so. He proved to be a burly fellow with rather a sober-looking face.
"Got around at last, eh?" he said, eying Tom and Sam shrewdly.
"We have, and we must thank you for rescuing us," replied Tom.
"That's all right."
"One of your sailors tells me you are bound for Australia," put in Sam.
"He told you the truth."
"Won't you stop at some port in the Hawaiian Islands?"
"But you might put us off."
"Can't spare the time. As it is, this storm blew me away out of my course," answered Captain Blossom.
He had a twofold reason for not putting them ashore at or near Honolulu. It would not only take time, but it might also lead to questioning concerning the fate of the steamer, and he was afraid he would be hauled into some marine court for running into the Tacoma, for that was what he had done.
"Do you know anything about the steamer?" asked Sam.
"No, she got away from us in the darkness, after we hauled seven of you aboard."
"The steamer lost some of her crew," said Tom, shuddering. "Did you lose any men?"
"One sailor, and one of my passengers got hurt in the leg by the collision."
By this time Dick joined the party, followed by old Jerry and the three girls.
"Will the captain carry us away to Australia?" asked Dora, when the situation was explained.
"I suppose so," said Dick soberly. "If I had some money I might buy him off, but I haven't a dollar. What little I did have I left on board of the Tacoma."
The others were equally destitute, and when Captain Blossom heard of this his face grew dark. He was a close man, and his first mate, Jack Lesher, was no better.
"If you haven't any money, you'll have to work your passage," he growled. "I can't afford to carry you to Australia for nothing."
"Then let us off at some port in the Hawaiian Islands," said Tom.
"Can't do it, I told you," retorted Captain Blossom angrily. "And you'll either work while you are on board or starve."
"My, what a Tarter!" whispered Sam.
"Well, we'll work," said Dick. "But you must not force the young ladies to do anything."
"I'm a sailor and will do my full share," said old Jerry. But he did not like the situation any better than did the Rovers.
The matter was talked over, and seeing that they were willing to work, Captain Blossom became a little milder in his manner. He said he would give the three girls one of the staterooms, but the boys and old Jerry would have to join the crew in the forecastle.
Fortunately the sailors on board the Golden Wave were a fairly clean lot, so the forecastle was not so dirty a place as it might otherwise have been. The boys did not like to be separated from the girls, however, and Dick called the girls aside to talk the matter over.
"I want to know if anything goes wrong," said he. "If there is the least thing out of the way, let us know at once," and the girls promised to keep their eyes open.
Once in the forecastle the boys were given three rough suits of clothes to wear while working. Then they were called out to work without delay, for the storm had left much to do on board the Golden Wave.
"We have only one passenger," said one of the sailors, in reply to a question from Tom.. "He is a young fellow named Robert Brown. He was hurt during the storm, but I reckon he's all right now."
Tom was set to coiling some rope and Sam and Dick had to scrub down the deck. This was by no means an agreeable task, but nobody complained.
"We must take what comes," said Dick cheerfully. "So long as we get enough to eat and are not abused I shan't say a word."
The boys had been to work about an hour when Sam saw a young fellow limping around the other end of the deck. There was something strangely familiar about the party, and the youngest Rover drew closer to get a better look at him.
"Dan Baxter!" he cried in astonishment. "Dan Baxter!"
At this cry the person turned and his lower jaw dropped in equal astonishment.
"Who—er—where did you come from?" he stammered.
"So this is the vessel you shipped on?" went on Sam. And then he called out: "Dick! Tom! Come here."
For a brief instant Dan Baxter's face was a study. Then a crafty look came into his eyes and he drew himself up.
"Excuse me, but you have made a mistake in your man," he said coldly.
"What's that?" came from Sam in bewilderment.
"I am not the party you just named. My name is Robert Brown."
"It is?" came from the youngest Rover. "If that is so, you look exactly like somebody I know well."
By this time Dick and Tom came hurrying to the spot, followed by Dora, who happened to be on deck.
"Dan Baxter!" came from Tom and Dick simultaneously.
"He says he isn't Dan Baxter," said Sam.
"Isn't Dan Baxter? Why, Baxter, you fraud, what new wrinkle is this?" said Dick, catching him by the arm.
"Let go of me!" came fiercely from Baxter. "Let go, I say, or it will be the worse for you. You have made a mistake."
"No mistake about it," put in Tom. "He is Dan Baxter beyond a doubt."
IN WHICH THE ENEMY IS CORNERED
The loud talking had attracted the attention of Captain Blossom, and now the master of the Golden Wave strode up to the crowd.
"What's going on here?" he demanded of the Rover boys. "Why are you not at work, as I ordered?"
"I have made an important discovery," answered Dick. "Is this your passenger, Captain Blossom?"
"He is. What of him?"
"He is a thief and ran away from San Francisco to escape the police."
"It's a falsehood!" roared Dan Baxter. "They have made a mistake. I am a respectable man just out of college, and my father, Doctor L. Z. Brown, is a well-known physician of Los Angeles. I am traveling to Australia for my health."
"His real name is Daniel Baxter and his father is now in prison," said Tom. "He robbed us of our money and some diamonds while we were stopping at a hotel in San Francisco. The detectives followed him up, but he slipped them by taking passage on your ship."
"I tell you my name is Brown—Robert Brown!" stormed Baxter. "This is some plot hatched up against me. Who are these fellows, anyway?" he went on, turning to the captain.
"They came from the steamer we ran into," answered Captain Blossom.
"I never saw them before."
At this moment Dora touched the captain on the shoulder.
"Please, captain," she said, "I knew Dan Baxter quite well and I am sure this young man is the same person."
"It aint so. I tell you, captain, it is a plot."
"What kind of a plot could it be?" asked Captain Blossom. He scarcely knew what to say.
"I don't know. Perhaps they want to get hold of my money," went on Baxter, struck by a sudden idea.
"That's right, we do want to get hold of the money!" cried Sam. "For it belongs to us—at least two hundred and seventy-five dollars of it—not counting what he may have got on the diamonds and the cuff buttons."
"You shan't touch my money!" screamed Baxter.
"Captain, he ought to be placed under arrest," said Dick.
Dora had gone back to the cabin and now she returned in great haste with Nellie and Grace.
"To be sure, that is Dan Baxter," said Nellie.
"There can be no mistake," put in Grace, "We all know him only too well."
"You see, Captain Blossom, that we are six to one," said Tom. "And you will surely believe the ladies."
"How is you all happen to know him so well?" demanded the captain curiously.
"We know him because we all went to school together," answered Dick. "These young ladies lived in the vicinity of the school. We had trouble with Baxter at school and later on out West, and ever since that time he has been trying to injure us. We met him in San Francisco in the hotel lobby and at night he went to our room, cut open a traveling bag and unlocked our trunks and robbed us of two hundred and seventy-five dollars in cash, some diamond studs, a pair of cuff buttons, and some clothing."
"I've got an idea!" almost shouted Sam. "Maybe he has some of the stolen stuff in his stateroom."
"Yes, yes, let us search the stateroom: by all means!" exclaimed Tom.
"You shall not touch my room!" howled Baxter, turning pale. "I have nothing there but my own private property."
"If that is so, you shouldn't object to having the stateroom searched," observed Captain Blossom.
"If we get back our money we may be able to pay you something, captain, for our passage," said Dick.
This was a forceful argument and set Captain Blossom to thinking. He was a man who loved money dearly.
"I will go along and we will look around the stateroom," he said, after a pause.
"This is an outrage!" cried Dan Baxter. "I will have the law on you for it."
"Shut up! I am master on my own ship," retorted Captain Blossom, and led the way to the stateroom Dan Baxter occupied. The door was locked and Baxter refused to give up the key. But the captain had a duplicate, and soon he and the Rover boys were inside the room. Baxter followed them, still expostulating, but in vain.
"Here is a pocketbook full of bills!" cried Tom, bringing the article to light.
"Here is my light overcoat!" came from Dick. "See, it has my initials embroidered in the hanger. Aunt Martha did that for me."
"Here are my gold cuff buttons!" exclaimed Sam. "They were a present from my father and they have my monogram engraved on each." And he showed the articles to the captain.
"I reckon it's a pretty clear case against you," said Captain Blossom, turning to Dan Baxter.
"Here are half a dozen letters," said Tom, holding them up. "You can see they are all addressed to Daniel Baxter. That's his name, and he'd be a fool to deny it any longer."
"Well, I won't deny it," cried the big bully. "What would be the use—you are all against me—even the captain."
"I am not against you," retorted Captain Blossom. "But if you are a thief I want to know it. Why did you give me your name as Robert Brown?"
"That's my business." Baxter paused for a moment. "Now you have found me out, what are you going to do about it?" he went on brazenly. "You can't arrest me on shipboard."
"No, but we can have you arrested when we land," said Dick. "And in the meantime we will take charge of what is our own."
"Here are some pawn tickets for the diamonds," said Sam, who was continuing the search. "They show he got seventy-five dollars on them."
"We will keep the tickets—and the seventy-five dollars, too—if we can find the money," said Tom.
But the money could not be found, for the greater part had been turned over to Captain Blossom for Baxter's passage to Australia and the rest spent before leaving shore. The pocketbook contained only two hundred and thirty dollars.
"What did he pay you for the passage?" questioned Dick of the captain.
"One hundred dollars."
"Then you ought to turn that amount over to our credit."
"Why, what do you mean?"
"I mean that Dan Baxter has no right to a free passage on your ship, since he bought that passage with our money. Let him work his way and place that passage money to our credit."
"That's the way to talk," put in Tom. "Make him work by all means."
"He deserves good, hard labor," came from Sam.
"I don't think you can make me work!" burst out Dan Baxter. "I am a passenger and I demand that I be treated as such."
"You are an impostor!" returned Captain Blossom bluntly. "The fact that you used an assumed name proves it. If I wanted to do so, I could clap you in the ship's brig until we reach port and chain you into the bargain. I want no thieves on board my ship."