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Runaway brig, or, An accidental cruise / by James Otis [pseud.]. Otis, James, 1848-1912. 400dpi TIFF G4 page images University of Kentucky, Electronic Information Access & Management Center Lexington, Kentucky 2002 b92-237-31299431 Electronic reproduction. 2002. (Beyond the shelf, serving historic Kentuckiana through virtual access (IMLS LG-03-02-0012-02) ; These pages may be freely searched and displayed. Permission must be received for subsequent distribution in print or electronically. Runaway brig, or, An accidental cruise / by James Otis [pseud.]. Otis, James, 1848-1912. A.L. Burt, New York : [c1888] 288 p., 1] leaf of plates : ill. ; 19 cm. Coleman Microfilm. Atlanta, Ga. : SOLINET, 1994. 1 microfilm reel ; 35 mm. (SOLINET/ASERL Cooperative Microfilming Project (NEH PS-20317) ; SOL MN04812.11 KUK) Printing Master B92-237. IMLS This electronic text file was created by Optical Character Recognition (OCR). No corrections have been made to the OCR-ed text and no editing has been done to the content of the original document. Encoding has been done through an automated process using the recommendations for Level 1 of the TEI in Libraries Guidelines. Digital page images are linked to the text file. Lis Harry pointed s(e2ward, tward the '.;antlne, moyiug through the water slowly.-iSee page '9. i I I 4 ,: ,Jl A RUNAWAY BRIG; OR, An Accidental Cruise. BY JAMES OTIS, Auieor o/ ' The Castaways," " Toby Tyler," " Mr. Stubbs' Brother," " Left Behind," " Raising the Pearl," " Silent Pete," etc., etc. ILLUSTRATED. NEW YORK: A. L. BURT, PUBLISHER. COPYRIGHT 2858, BY A. L. BURT. A RUNAWAY BRIG. CHAPTER I. THE SALLY WALKER. I ' GOING down to the beach to find Jim Libby. If you'll come along we'll have a prime sail; an'd most likely this is the last chance we shall have to go out with him, for his vessel leaves in the morning." "how can 1 go ws hen I've got to mind this young one all the forenoon just 'cause the nurse must go an' have a sick headache I don't believe she feels half as bad as I do !" And Walter Morse looked mournfully out over the blue waters with but little care for his baby sister, who was already toddling dangerously near the long flight of steps) leading from the veranda of the large summer hotel. "Can't you coax off for a couple of hours " the first speaker, Harry Vandyne, asked. " It's no use. Mother has gone to ride, and said I was to stay here until she came back." Harry started toward the beach, determined not to lose a single hour of pleasure because of his friend's engagements; but before he had taken A R UNA WA Y BRIG. half al dozen steps a sudden, and what seemed like a very happy thought, occurred to him. "I'll tell you how it can be fixed. Hire one of the other nurses to take care of your sister till we get back. Any of them -will do it for a quarter, an' we'll be home before your mother comes." The boys were spending the summer at the Isle of Shoals, off the New England coast. Harry's father was Robert Vandyne, the well-known ship- owner of New York, and Walter's was equally prominent in the wholesale dry-goods business on Broadway. During their stay at this summer re- sort they had made the acquaintance of Jim Libby, "cook's assistant and evervbody's mate" on the fishing-schooner -Mary Walker, a craft which visited the Shoals once each week to supply the hotels with fresh fish. Jim was at liberty to follow the dictates of his own fancy several hours each slay while in port, and the bovs found him ever ready to take them out sailing in the square-bowed, leaky tender be- longing to the schooner. As Harry had said, this was Jim s last day on the island until the end of an- other cruise, and Walter was so eager to blister his hands and wet his feet once more by rowing the Sally Walker-the tender was dignified with a name-around the shore that he really did not stop to consider all Harry's advice implied. He wanted to go on the water; Bessie would have even better care from one of the nurses than he could give her; and it was not difficult to convince 6 A R UNA IVA Y BRIG. himself that, under all the circumstances, he would be warranted in disobeying the positive commands of his mother. "She didn't know Jim was going away in the morning, or I'm sure she'd 'a' fixed it so's I could take one more trip in the Sally." " Of course she won't care," Harry said in such a decided tone that Walter, who was more than will- ing to be convinced by the most flimsy argument, made his decision at once. "Come on; there's Mrs. Harvey's maid, and we'll ask her." The bribe of twenty-five cents was sufficient to enlist the good-natured girl's sympathies, and five minutes later the two boys were running at full speed toward the shore, while Bessie, apparently well con- tent with the change of nurses, looke(d so happy that Walter really began to believe he had (lone the child such a very great favor that his mother could not but be pleased. The unwieldy-looking Sally Walker was drawn up in a little cove which, owing to a line of rocks just outside, made a most convenient landing-place, and on the bow sat Master Jim, his face striped with dirt but beaming with good-nature, and his clothes as ragged as they were redolent of fish. "I'd jes' begun to think you couldn't conie. m'a' was goin' back," lhe cried as his neatly-dressed ac- quaintances came into view. " If wue wvanter (do any sailin' it's time to be off, 'cause this wNind's dy in' out mighty fast." 7 A X UN(A IVA Y BRIG. "Tt's better late than never, Jim," Harry cried cheerily as he commenced to push at the bow of the boat. "Let's get the old craft afloat, and do our talking afterward." To launch the Sally into deep water was quite a hard task owing to her breadth of beam; but after that had bteen (lone the labor was ended for a time, save such as might be necessary with the bailing- dish. Jim stepped the short mast with its well-worn leg- of-mutton sail, got one of the oars aft as a rudder, and the full-boved clipper began to move through the water slowly, but with a splashing and a wake suffi- cient for a craft ten times her size. "We can't run along the coast very well 'cause the wind's blowin' straight out to sea, an' she don't stand up to it like a narrower boat would," the skipper said as he settled himself back comfortably in the stern-sheets while he pulled the fragment of a straw hat down over his eyes. "Let's sail before the wind two or three miles an(l then row back," Walter suggested. " I'd like to get to the hotel before mother comes." "It'll be a tough pull," Jim replied as he glanced at the clumsy oars. " I'd rather row the Sally one mile than two." Harry and I will do that part of the work." "Then let her go," and as Jim eased off on the sheet the old craft came around slowly, for she was by no eians prompt in answering the helm. "See that ship over there How far away is 8 A RUN. I Y BsJUG. she " Harry asked as lhe pointed seaward, when the Sally wvas wvell under way. " That ain't a ship," Jim replied with a slight tone of contempt because his companions were so igno- rant. "She's a brigantine, an' hard on to three miles from here." " Let's run over to where she is. We can row back by dinner-time easily enough." Since his crew were to do all the work on the return trip Jim would have been perfectly willing had the distance been twice as far, and he gave assent by nodding his head in what he intended should be a truly nautical manner. The brig, which was now the objective point of the trip, appeared to be a craft of about three hun- dred tons, and moving through the water slowly, under the influence of the rapidly-decreasing wind, on a course at right-angles with the one the Sally was pursuing. She was running with yards square, under her upper and lower topsails, foresail, jib and foretop-mast stay-sail, and the head-sheets were flow- ing. " She ain't goin' so fast but what we can come up with her before the breeze dies away, I reckon, an' if she's becalmed they won't say anything agin our goin' aboard," Jim said after a few moments of silence, during which all hands gazed intently at the stranger. The idea of visiting a vessel at sea was very enti- cing to the city boys, and they were now as eager for a calm as they had previously been to have the 9 A R UNA IVA Y BRIG. wind freshen. The Sally took in so much water between her half-calked seams that it was necessary to keep the bailing-dish in constant use, consequently there was little time for speculation as to where the brig was bound until, when they had sailed not more than a mile and a half, Jim said in a tone of mild disappointment: "It's no use, fellers, we can't get there. It's dead calm, an' we ain't makin' a foot an hour." "What's to prevent our rowing" Harry asked. "You take down the sail and keep the bailing (lish going while Walter and I show you how to make the Sally walk." "I'm willin' if you are," and Jim unshipped the stumpy mast. "MA1y vessel won't get unl(ler way before mornin', an' it makes no difference if I ain't back till sunrise." To make the Sally "walk " required a great deal of hard work; but since it was under the guise of play Harry and Walter went at it with a will, whfile Jim wondered what sport boys could find in pulling a heavy boat, for this was the one portion of a fisherman's life at which he rebelled. Slowly but surely the little craft gained upon the larger one, which swung to and fro on the lazy swell, and when they w-ere about a quarter of a mile apart Jim said, in a tone of disapprobation: "The crew on that brig are worse'n fishermen. Every one of 'em must be below, for I haven't seen so much as a feller's noso yet. Perhaps some of the crew have gone ashore-the gangway's un- shipped." 10 A1 R UA NlIVA Y D. ( Unacquainted with nautical matters as the city boys were, they did not think there was anything strange in such a condition of affairs, but kept steadily at work with the oars until Jim scrambled into the bow to fend off, the journey having been finished. "I'll make fast here while you go aboard," he said as he seized the ladder of rope and wood which hung over the rail as an invitation to visitors. "1 We'd better find out first whether they're will- ing to have us," Harry suggested. "That'll be all right," and Jim spoke very con- fidently. " If you're afraid I'll go first; but it seems kinder strange that somebody don't hail us." Having made the Sally's painter fast, Jim clam- bered over the side closely followed by his com- panions; but not a person could be seen on deck. The fore hatch was lying bottom upward, and the appearance of the ropes indicated decided careless- ness on the part of the crew, yet no sound was heard save the creaking of the booms as they swung lazily to and. fro. " What's the matter " Harry asked in a whisper as he noted the look of fear which came over Jim's face. " I'm sure I don't know. Let's see if we can raise anybody;" and then Jim shouted, " Ahoy below! ahoy !" No reply came. Again and again was the cry re- peated, until Walter asked, impatiently: "Are you afraid to go into the cabin and stir them up " 11l 12 A RUNA WA Y BRIG. Jim would have braved many dangers rather than be thought a coward, and without answering the question he leaped down from the rail, running first into the forecastle and then the cabin, after which he returned to his companions with a very pale face as he said, in a tremulous whisper: "Boys, there ain't a single soul on this 'ere brig but ourselves, an' there's a sword on the cabin floor! Do you s'pose pirates are anywhere around " A Is UNA IVA Y BRIG. CHAPTER II. THE BONITA. H TARRY and Walter remained motionless and H speechless on the rail staring at Jim for sev- eral moments after this startling announcement had been made, and there was a decided look of fear on the faces of all three. The mere suggestion of pirates was enough to send the cold chills down their spinal columns, while the mystery connected with the abandonment of an apparently sound craft caused them to feel very uncomfortable in mind. Walter glanced apprehensively over his shoulder as if expecting to see some terrible sight seaward, and the slightest ominous sound would have sent the visitors into the Sally as the only place of refuge. It was fully five minutes before Harry succeeded in gaining the mastery over his fears, and then he said, with an evident attempt to make his voice sound firm as he leaped from the rail: "Say, boys, we're making fools of ourselves by getting frightened at an empty ship! Suppose the pirates have been on board; there are none here now, and I don't see any reason why we shouldn't go below." "I'm with you," Jim replied; but by taking up 4 A P UAIA Y BRIG. his position at Harry's side he showed very plainly that it was not his intention to lead the exploring party. " I'll go, too, rather than stay on deck alone; but, according to my way of thinking, we'd better start for the Isle of Shoals instead of staying on a vessel like this." And once more Walter looked over the rail at the Sally, which was taking in water quite rapidly now that the bailing-dish was idle. Harry and Jim had started toward the cabin be- fore Walter ceased speaking, therefore he had no choice save to follow them, and with an undefined feeling of awe the three went dlown the stairs into a comfortably but not expensively furnished saloon, from each side of which led the eight state-rooms. To judge l)y the general appearance of affairs one would have said that the officers had but just gone on deck. On the long, stationary table were sewing materials and a woman's work-basket; in one of the chairs an open book, and on a locker was the log-slate -swith the reck-oning partially worked out. The only suspicious object to be seen was a sword, which had been withdrawn from its scablbard an(I thrown on the cabin floor. The blade was covered with spots which might have been blood-stains or nothing but rust, and the visitors gathered around the sinister-looking weapon without offering to touch it. "The sword doesn't prove that pirates have been here," Harry said, after a long silence. "There couldn't have been much of a fight or we should see more signs of it. Perhaps somebody is in one of the state-rooms." 14 A R UNA WA Y BRIG. "It won't take long to find out." And Jim boldly opened the nearest door, a goodly portion of his courage having returned since the search thus far had failed to reveal any very horrible sight. In rapid succession the searchers went from one room to another, stopping at each only long enough to make sure no person was concealed therein, and to take a general but hasty survey of its contents. Every tiny apartment showed signs of recent oc- cupancy. A sea-chest, clothes hanging on the walls, and such belongings as a sailor would deein neces- sary for a long voyage, could be seen. In one state- room was a set of gold studs and sleeve-buttons and a new quadrant. In another, which Jin confi- dently asserted wvas the captatin's, a watch hung at the head of the l)erth, while a small writing-desk was littered with pal)ers. " All hands have gone somewhere, that's certain," Jimn said when the search was concluded; "1 an' be- fore we go ashore it won't do any harm to have dinner. If the )antry has been left like the cabin, we stan(1 a good chance of finding plenty of grub." "I'm hungry enoughi. to eat almost anything," Harry replied with a laugh. " So if you know where the food is kept we'll have lunch before be- ginning the long pull home." Jim was thoroughly well acquainted with the general arrangemlent of vessels of this size, and without hesitation lie led tlhe wvay to the pantry, where was found a large assortment of delicacies for the cabin table. 115 A U/NA WA Y BRIU. In this room were many boxes and packages which had not been broken, and as each bore the mark "Brig Bonita," the name of the craft was known as well as if the boys had seen the gilt letters under the stern. Just at this time, however, the visitors gave but little heed to anything connected with the aban- doned craft save the provisions, and these they sampled generously, beginning with nuts and end- ing with jam; each one eating until it was an abso- lute impossibility to swallow another mouthful. During the varied but hearty meal they failed to notice that the brig had heeled over slightly, or that there was considerable more motion than when they first came aboard. The feast drove all thoughts of the general condition of affairs from their minds until it was finished, and then Jim said: "Now, what's to be done It seems a pity to leave this craft and all these things; but I don't s'pose w-e could tow her in to the Shoals." Even though harry and Walter knew nothing about seamanship, they understood how ridiculous it would be to make any attempt at towing a three- hundred-ton brig, with a crazy little boat like the Sally, and their merriment was so great when Jim made this remark that he thought it necessary to defend himself by saying: "I've seen folks tow bigger vessels than this; an' I was only thinkin' how fine it would be to take her in, for since there's nobody aboard we'd own everything." 16 A X RUNA IVA Y BRIG. "Well, so long as it can't be (lone w-e'd better go back," Walter said as he suddenly remembered his neglect of duty an(L the very grave reason why lie should be at the hotel before his mother returnled. Neither Harry nor Jim believed there was any necessity for making a hurried de1)arture, and fully half an hour more elapsed before they were ready to go on deck. Even then they would have delayed still further had not a violent motion of the vessel caused Jim to cry, as he sprang toward the com- panion-way: " The wind has freshened, and if we want to get back to-night it's time we were off !" Then, as he gained the deck, fear and surprise took the place of his suddenly aroused anxiety. The wind had sprung up and must have done so a long while before, for now there was no sign of land in either direction, unless, indeed, a dark smudge far down to windward might be the island which had been so close aboard a few hours previous, and the Bonita was working on a zigzag course seaward. Owing to the fact that the head-sheets were flowing, each time she fell off sufficiently to get the wind abaft the beam she would fill her topsails and gather way, then come to, stop, and again fall off; making, as a sailor would say, "boards and half- boards." Harry and Walter were so thoroughly amazed and alarmed by this sudden disappearance of the land, as it were, that they gave no heed to anything around them, but stood by the port rail amidships, searching in vain with their eyes for the island. 17 A 1 UNA WA Y BRIG. Jim's knowledge of seamanship was decidedly limited; but he understood fully why the Isle of Shoals was no longer in sight, and his one thought was how they could leave the vessel, which was literally running away with them. Springing to the main chains where the Sally had been made fast, a single glance was sufficient to show of what little service she would be to them just then. Leaking as she did, and towed now and then at a rapid rate, the little craft was filled with water, nothing save a very small portion of the bow upheld by the painter being visible. Hardly knowing what he did, the young fisher- man ran fore and aft in a distracted way until Harry, aroused from his stupefaction by Jim's apparently aimless movements, asked in a sharp tone of nervous irritation: " What are you doing Are we to stay here without trying to get back " " I wish you would tell me what we can do ;" and Jim stopped short as he plunged his hands deeply in his pockets, looking Harry squarely in the face. "The Isle of Shoals must be a dozen miles away by this time; the Sally is swamped, an' there's nothin' in the shape of a boat on board." "But we can't stay here and be carried out to sea!" Walter cried in a shrill tone of fear. "If you think it's possible to swim back we won't stay; but I don't know of any other way to get there !" For an instant Walter acted as if he intended to A R UNA WA Y BRIG. make the attempt; and, then, as Harry seized his arm to prevent him from leaping overboard, the poor boy gave way to the most passionate grief. Ile began to realize the full consequences of his disobedience, and could he have been transported to the land just at that moment, Jessie would have opened her eyes wide in surprise at the great display of brotherly affection. It seemed as if Walter's tears served to restore to Jim at least a portion of his senses, for he imme- diately assumed a business-like tone as he said: " Now see here, fellers, we're in a scrape of course; but it won't do any good to give up like this, 'cause if we try to help ourselves things may turn out all right." " If we can't get back in the Sally I don't see how we're going to help ourselves very much," and Harry made every effort to appear brave that Walter might be cheered. "Some vessel will surely heave in sight before long, an' we can signal to her. The first thing is to find a flag an' set it half-mast, union-down. Any craft would try to find out what the matter was after seein' a thing like that, an' jes' as likely as not we'll be picked up l)before dark. Then we must get some of this canvas off of her so she can't sail so fast, an' when that's done matters won't be so very bad, for we can keep goin' straight ahead till we come out somewhere." Jim spoke in such a matter-of-fact tone that the courage of his companions was revived at once. 19 20 A. RUNAWAY BRIG. They had not thought of the possibility that a ves- sel might be sighted; but now it seemed very pr ob- able, and the two boys set about the proposed task with hopeful hearts. The wind continued to freshen, and in her limp- i-ug way the Bonita worked slowly but surely sea- ward with a wide expanse of ocean before her, while the force on board was hardly sufficient to keep the helm steady in heavy weather. A R UNVA IVA Y BRIG. CHAPTER III. A SMALL CREW. A S THEY searched for the flag-locker Jim did A his best to keep hope alive in the hearts of his companions by talking as if it was impossible they could run many hours longer without meeting some craft from which assistance could be procured; but even as lie spoke he knew it would not be strange if a week, or even more, elapsed before anything larger than a sea-bird's wing came within their range of vision, lIe had been in the Mary Walker on the fishing banks when it was known there were many vessels in the vicinity, and yet not a sail was seen for ten days. While the wind held in the same direction the Bonita would be too far north to sight any of the coastwise traders, and Jim was wvell aware that it might be a long while before they could summon aid. The flag-locker was found after a short search, and when the stars and stripes were hoisted as a signal of distress the bright colors appeared to afford Harry and Walter no slight amount of relief. " If a vessel comes within sight that must attract attention," Harry said hopefully. ' I don't suppose any captain would pass us by without at least ask- ing what was the matter." 21 A R UNA WA Y BRIG. "It would be a pretty mean sailor who wouldn't try to help us," Jim replied ; and then, as the thought came that it might be many days before the flag would be seen by any one save themselves, he added in a voice which was far from steady, " Now let's try to hoist the Sally inboard. She'll be knocked to pieces if we tow her, an' there's no knowin' how soon she may be needed." "Tell us what to do and we'll obey orders," Harry said cheerily. " I'm not sure but we can run this craft as well as a full crew could, so long as you know enough to be captain." Jim was thoroughly well aware of his own igno- rance; but no good could be gained by admitting such a fact, and he began to give commands in a very loud tone, as if the noise would drive away his dismal forebodings. There was no lack of blocks which could be used, and by fastening a whip to the Sally's bow she was soon hauled in over the rail minus her cargo of water. "If we stay here long enough we must calk the seams," Jim said as he wiped the perspiration from his face. " It wvon't be a hard job, an' -we may need her pretty bad." "Why not do it now" Walter asked. "Because we ouglit to get some of this canvas in before it blows any hlar(ler; but it would puzzle a better sailor than I am to know how it's to be done unless we leave everything loose." Neither Harry nor Walter could give any advice, 22 A R UNA WAY BRIG. and Jim was forced to work out the problem un- ai(ldel. "I'll tell you what it is," he said, after studying the matter in silence several moments. "It won't (1o to strip her entirely, for then we couldn't keep steerage-way on. The jib, foretopsail, and mainsail won't be more'n enough to steady her, and if the wind don't come any stronger, I reckon we can take care of the helm." "Do you mean that we're to pull down them big pieces of canvas " Walter asked in dismay. "If I did mean that, it couldn't be done. By carrying the halyards to one of the winches, though, we can clew them up after awhile; but it'll be kinder hard work." Then Jim set about the task which at first sight appeared to be impossible, and, incredible though it may seem, had before dark stripped the brig of all the canvas save what he proposed to keep her under while the weather remained fair. His slight knowl- edge of seamanship was sufficient to show him how work should be performed, and with the winch as a very material aid the huge squares of canvas were dewed up after rather a clumsy fashion. When this had been done Jim went to the helm, which he lashed in one position when the task of shortening sail was first begun, and soon the Bonita was sailing properly dead before the wvind, but in a lazy manner, as if sulking because deprived of so many of her white wings. " That's a good job well over," he said with a 23 A R UNA WAY BRIG. long-drawn sigh of relief. "Now, if it blows very hard, we can soon get rid of the mainsail and jib." "Where are we heading for " Harry asked, the severe labor having in a certain measure dulled the grief in his heart. " I don't know-straight across the ocean I reckon," Jim replied; and then observing that his companions had noted the look of anxiety on his face, he added in a lighter tone, "It seems kinder funnv that we three bovs should be sailin' this craft like as if she was our own-don't it " "I wish we'd never seen her nor the Sally Walker," Walter cried passionately. " Nobody knows when we can get back, and our parents will think we meant to run away !" "Now, don't get to feelin' bad ag'in," Jim said soothingly. "It won't do any good, an' you'll be jes' so much the worse off. We've got to have sup- per, an' who'll be cook " " I'll do what I can toward it; but I don't believe I'd know how to make even so much as a cup of tea," and Harry rose to his feet. "Jes' bring up a lot of grub from the pantry; that'll be enough. To-morrow I'll show you how to steer, an' take a turn in the galley myself." Harry beckoned Walter to follow him; for, if the truth must be told, lie felt rather nervous about go- ing into the cabin alone. Now that they were on the open ocean, at the mercy of wind and wave, the deserted saloon seemed peopled with things none the less horrible because unseen. Every inanimate ob- 24 A R UNA WAY BRIG. ject had suddenly taken on a most sinister appear- ance; and the rusty sword on the floor seemed to bear witness of the tragedy which had caused a sound, well-found vessel to be abandoned in such haste. Neither of the boys cared to look around the saloon in which the shadows of night were gather- ing. They walked swiftly through into the pantrNy, selected such articles of food as were nearest at hand, and then went on deck very quickly. Jim had lashed the helm again anid was in the maintop looking seaward in the vain hope of seeing a sail, and his apparent calmness, together with the warm breeze, the water sparkling under the rays of the setting sun, and the regular movement of the brig as she rose and fell on the swell, served to 1an- ish the fears caused by that desolate-looking cabin. When twilight came, that tinme when homesick- ness always appears with redoubled violence, the three involuntary voyagers were eating a meal coIn- posed chiefly of delicacies, and Jim, understood that his companions must be prevented from dwelling upon their own condition ; therefore, as a means ot cheering all hands, himself included, lie l)rop)osed1 to spin a yarn in true sailor fashion. From the number of so-called ghost stories which the crew of the Mary Walker were wont to relate during their leisure moments he chose the most hor- rible, and some time before it was concluded lie Un- (lerstood that he had succeeded in banishing home- sickness at the expense of an invitation to fear. 25 A 1 UNA WA Y BRIG. Even he himself began to be afraid because of his own "yarn," when it was told on the deck of a vessel so mysteriously abandoned as had been the Bonita, and the sighing of the night-wind through the rigging sounded very " ghostly " in his ears. The three boys huddled close together, neither speaking above a whisper until after the moon rose, and then matters began to seem more cheerful. Jim changed the unpleasant current of thought by specu- kitting upon the strange sights they might see if it was possible for them to keep the brig on the same course until they made land, and by ten o'clock all hands had so far gained the mastery over fear that the young captain proposed an arrangement for the night. "We can't stay awake all the time," he said sagely, "so s'posin' you fellers go below an' turn in. If the wind dies out much more I'll lash the wheel an' join you; but if it don't one of you will have to spell me 'long toward mornin'." "I don't care about going below," Walter replied in a half-whisper. "Why can't we sleep out here on deck " " There's nothin' to prevent it; but you'll be cold before mornin' if you don't get some blankets from the cabin." Even Harry was timid about venturing into the saloon since that particularly horrible ghost story had been told; and very likely Jim understood this fact, for he said, after a brief pause: " If you'll hold the wheel, Walter, an' Ilarry will come with me, ITll get the bedclothes." 26 A 1R UNA W.A Y BR IG. This proposition was accepted, and a few moments later a mattress and half a dozen blankets wvere spread out on the deck aft, the whole forming such a bed as even less tired boys would not have dce- spised. There was yet sufficient food remaining from the supply brought for sup)per to serve as a lunch in case any of the party grew hungry before daylight; therefore, as Jim said, "they were pretty well fixed for the night." The wind was decreasing each moment, and, regardless of the possibility that it might spring up again from a different quarter, the helm, was lashed amidships that all hands might sleep. "I reckon some of us will wake up if it blows hard, an' considering that we don't know where we're goin', it can't make much difference whether anybody is at the wheel or not." The young fisherman laid down as lie ceased speaking, an(l his comnl)anions, in 1)lissful ignorance of the possible dantger to be incurred 1)y this unsea- manlike procee(ling, seeing nothing rash or strange in thus leaving the brig to care for herself, followed the example of their commander. The )edl wvas hardly as soft as Harry and Walter had leen accustomed to sleeping on, perhaps; but it was not uncomfortable, and in a few moments all three were in dreamland. 2A 1 UNA TA Y BRIG. CHAPTER IV. A VOICE FROM THE SEA. T HIE SMALL crew of the Bonita were weary almost to the verge of exhaustion. Excite- ment an(d grief had fatigued them even more than the long pull in the Sally ; therefore all three slept as soundly as if they had been snugly tucked-up in bed at home, and when the sun came from his bath in the sea they were yet unconscious that another day had dawned. When Jim, who was the first to awaken, opened his eyes, he rose suddenly to a sitting posture with a misty idea that his slumbers had been disturbed by the sound of a human voice. It was several seconds before he fully realized where he was; but the deserted deck of the brig and the Sally upturned on the main hatch soon brought back to his minid all the strange occurrences of the previous day, after which lie began to specu- late whether it was in at dream that he heard a low, feeble hail of "B rig ahoy !" Harry an(1 Walter were both asleerp, consequently neither of them had spoken. Rising to his feet he gazed eagerly over the placid ocean, but without seeing the ardently-longed-for sail. 28 A R UNA TVAY BRIG. "I reckon I was dreaming" lie said to himself, and then the thought of their lonely position drove everything else fromn his mind. "We must be out of the track of vessels or one would be in sight by this time; and when the next storm comes up it'll be good-by all hands, for wXe can't manage a craft like this in a gale. I ain't sure, but_ " "I3rig ahoy! ahoy !" This time there was no mistake. It was a hail hardly more than a whisper, but yet so distinct as to prevent any possibility that it was a trick of the imagination. One would have said it came from the sea directly beneath the brig's stern, and Jim's face grew pale with fear as he looked quickly around without seeing so much as a floating timber. "There's something wvrong about this craft," he muttered. "Sailors don't run away from a sound vessel without a pretty good reason, an' I reckon she's haunted!" "1Prig ahoy! Help a dying man! Ahoy on board !" The words were spoken more feebly than before, and Jim, thoroughly convinced hie had heard some- thing supernatural, awakened his companions by shaking them nervously. "Get up quick!" lie said in a hoarse whisper. "This Ibrig has been hailed three times, an' there isn't even afly in sight !" Harry and Walter were on their feet in an instant gazing around in bedviblermnent; but seeing nothing, and after Jim had told his story, he asked in a voice trembling with fear: 21) A R UINA WA Y BRIG. "What shall we do I'd rather take my chances on the Sally, even if eve are out of sight of land, than stay here another minute. This brig has got ghosts aboard !" "I don't hear anything," Harry said, the bright sun and sparkling wdater investing the vessel with a sense of life and animation directly at variance with any supposed supernatural visitations. "You're mistaken, Jim, that's all." "Wait a little while," Jim replied, shaking his head gravely as if the subject was too serious to admit of any discussion. The boys were destined to be skeptical but a few seconds longer. Before another moment had passed a low groan was heard as if coming from beneath their feet, and all three instinctively ran across the deck to the starboard rail, to put the greatest pos- sible distance between themselves and the unearthly sound. This short flight was the one thing needed to reveal the seeming mystery; for as Jim leaped into the main ri(gging with the intention of going aloft, if the ghostly voice was h eard again, he involuntarily glanced downward. " Look! Look there !" he cried excitedly, point- ing toward the water; and, following with their eyes the direction indicated by his trembling hand, the boys saw a Whitehall-built boat about twenty feet long made fast to the main-chains. An oar lashed to one of the thwarts served as a mast, and fastened to this was a small piece of canvas. A R UNA WA Y BRIG. All these details were not at first remarked, for in the bottom, lying face downward as if dead, was a man. His outstretched hands looked like claws, so tightly was the skin drawn over the bones, and even though covered with clothing it could be seen that his body was wasted almost to a skeleton. Unaccustomed though Harry and Walter were to such sights, it was not necessary for Jim to explain that the occupant of the boat was a shipwrecked sailor in the last stages of starvation. The night hadl been calm, and he probably propelled his craft with oars after the wind died away, making her fast to the main-chains as he uttered the cry which awakened Jim, and ceasing his appeal for help only when consciousness deserted him. It was several moments that the boys stood gazing at these mute evidences of agony without making any effort to relieve the sufferer, and then Harry asked: " Can't we do something to help him Perhaps instead of being dead he has only fainted." " I ought to be kicked for standin' here like a fool !" Jim exclaimed as he clambered over the side, and an instant later he was lifting the man to a sit- ting posture, crying, meanwhile: " Bring some water quick !" Walter ran into the cabin, all fear of the place having been banished by the desire to aid the suf- ferer, and in a few seconds passed a pitcher of water into the boat. Jim was an awkward nurse; but his patient had 31 32A R UNA WAY BRIG. more vitality than was apparent at the first glance, andl before the boy could bathe his face thoroughly he had revived sufficiently to grasp the pitcher with both hands, drinking most greedily. "Don't let him have all he wants !" Harry cried. "I've heard that people who have been almost starved shouldn't have too much at a time." Jim tried to wrest the pitcher from the man's desperate clutch, but he swallowed the liquid more eagerly, and the boy was forced to exert all his strength in order to accomplish his purpose. " Wait a bit," he said as he held the vessel behind him. "You can drink till you bu'st, after a spell, but I reckon Harry's right about takin' too much just now." The man looked fiercely at Jim for an instant as if about to spring upon him and thus obtain that which would quench his burning thirst, and then, controlling himself with an effort, he asked in a whisper: "Where are the crew " "There ain't any on board. Us three boys are alone. Have you got strength enough to climb over the rail A' Instead of answering the question the man at- tempted to rise to his feet, but his limbs refused to obey the will, and he sank back on the thwart as if about to relapse into unconsciousness again. "here, drink some more water," Jim cried quickly; and when the sufferer had sw-allow-ed half a dozen mouthfuls eagerly, lie slhouted to the others: "Lean over the rail and try to gret 11d1(1 of him !" 32 A R UNA WA Y BRIG. At the same moment he lifted the emaciated form-he had often raised heavier burdens-until those above could seize him under the arms, after which the remainder of the task was easy of accom- plishment. Harry and Walter carried the sailor to the mat- tress on the port side, lying him upon it tenderly; and while they were thus occupied, Jim climbed on deck once more, running directly to the pantry. A case of canned soup was among the stores. and without waiting to select any particular kind lie seized one of the tins and carried it to the gallev. To build so much of a fire as would be sufficient to heat the soup was but the work of a few nionients, and then he carried a bowl full of the nourishingr food aft, saying, as he handed it to the starving man: "I don't reckon it'll do you any harmn to eat this. I'll get a spoon, an' one of us fellers will feed you." There was no necessity for any such prepla)arationl. The sailor still had strength enough to raise the bowl to his lips, and in the shortest possible space of timic it had been drained of its contents. " I s'pose you could pumnp two or three gallons into him before he'd know there wvas anythiing iii- side," Jim said in a low tone to hai-rry as the suf- ferer laid l)ack on the pillows with closed eves. "What'll we do (Give hini sonme more " Hold on a few minutes and see it lie asks for it. I think hie's going to sleep." Jim went forwyard again, where he could be alone A XI UNA IVA Y BRIG. while thinking over this addition to their number, and instead of finding relief in the coming of the stranger it seemed to him as if the matter had grown more complicated. "It was tou-1i enough for us before," he said as he went into the galley; "but what we're goin' to do with a sick man on our hands beats me." lIe was not in so much despair as to forget that as yet they had not breakfasted, however, and he at once set about preparing a reasonably elaborate meal. The winti was not sufficient to lift the narrow thread of blue which hung from the mast-head. The britg rose and fell on the lazy swell, swin-ing her bow from one point of tie compass to another un- der the influence of ocean currents or eddies, and there was nothing to claim Jim's attention save the culinav(l duties lie had thus voluntarily assumed. Before breakfast was ready Harrv caine into the galley for more soul), explaining that the stranger had awakened anti asked for food; and by the time the invalid was fed again Jim called his companions to partake of the result of his labors. The boys talked of little else, while they were eating, save regarding the man who slumbered on the mattress aft. His coming had temporarily driven from their minds the sorrow caused by the enforced absence from home, and in this respect, at least, it was productive of good. "There's one thing about it," Jim said, when the conversation was ended with the meal, and they had. :4o A RUNAWAY BRIG'. failed to realize that the shipwrecked man inight be of great assistance in the future, " his boat is a long ways ahead of the Sally, an' I wouldn't be afraid to sail anywhere in her. She ought to be hoisted inboard, an' if he's asleep now we'd better try to hook her on the davit-falls." The man was asleep, and before -washing the breakfast dishes Jim made preparations for securing the boat, which he rightly believed would be so valu- able when the time came to abandon the IBonita. This work was by no means easy of accomplish- ment, even though there was neither sea nor wind to interfere with the laborers; but it was finally finished successfully, and the young captain had no slight satisfaction in the thought that he and his crew were now wvell prepared for the worst. It was two hours past noon before the rescued man awakened again, and Jim had more soup heated, this time allowing his patient to eat and drink all he wa ishetd. "Go ahead," he said as he served the food aft, placing a number of dishes on the house, "for there's plenty aboard to fill up a man twice your size. Call on us for what you want an' I reckon we can find it." The sailor was greatly refreshed by this third meal, and when it was concluded the ghastly look on his face had given place to what appeared very much like evidence of returning strength. "Tell me how you boys h al)pen to be on board here alone" he asked; and J in beglan at once to .35 361 A RUNAWAY BRIG. relate their misadventures, which commenced with the cruise in the Sally. "We don't feel very much like stayin' on this vessel, for of course there's something wrong about her or the crew wouldn't 'a' left everything behind!" he said in conclusion; "but we couldn't start away in the Sally, 'cause she leaks so bad. Now that we've got your boat, we can say good-by to the brig as soon as you're well." What's the use of abandonin' a good craft like this " "'Cause we can't manage her, an'-an'- Well, to tell the truth, I'm kinder afraid." The stranger smiled as if he thought Jim's fears very foolish; but at the same time lie could give no reasonable guess as to why the Bonita had been abandoned. A M UNAW IVA l BRIG. CHAPTER V. BOB BRACE S STORY. A s A MATTER of course the bovs were eager to hear the sailors story; but no one asked any questions, believing he woul(l relate the par- ticulars of what was evidently a disaster when he had recovered his strength sulliciently to spin a lengthy yarn. And in this thev w ere not mistaken. Before sunset he was able to sit up, and greatly to the satisfaction of his companions he volunteered the information they were so impatient to gain. "Most likely you're wantin' to know how Bob Brace, able seaman, got lpulle(1 dowin to a reg'lar bag of bones like this i0 he said towar(l the close of the afternoon while the boys wvere gathered around him. "I reckon you've been wrecked," Jiiii replied, "an' we'd like to know about it, but don't want you to talk till you're feelin' all right." "A sailorman picks up mighty quick after lie's where he can get hold of a Aw-ell-filled mess-kid, an' when its cabin grub that's poured inter him the rarity of the thing helps out amazin'. I reckon I'm the only one of the Trade Wind's crew that's alive. We sailed from New York for Cardiff five veeks 3., A R UNA WA Y BRIG. ago, an' had the best kind of weather for twenty days when a reg'lar nor'-easter struck us the after- noon of Thursday, nine days past as near as I can figger. There was time to get in the royals an' to'gallant sails before night; but the gale kept growin' worse so the spanker -was downed, the main course hauled up an' furled, an' she was put fair before the windl, which had been workin' around to the east'ard. lBy the next mornin' we was snu-ged down with nothin' but the main-to)sail, foresail an' fore-stavs'l showin', an' the old hooker duffin' into it mighty hard. "It looked as if she'd weather it all right till eight bells on Friday mornin', when every thread of canvas was blown off the spars, leavin' us wallow-in' in a chop sea that stove the bulwarks an' swept the decks clean before wve could heave her to on the port tack by settin' the lower inain-tops'l. By this time the fo'castle was (irownded out, an' all hands bunked in the cabin till Saturday, when there was no more watches below, for she was takin' water so fast that everybody up to the captain had to stand by the pump. We managed to keep the old barkey afloat till Sunday, when the long-boat an' yawl-the gig had been stove-were launched. " There ain't much use to tell the rest, for it's like what you must 'a' heard many times. We in the y awl had six gallons of water, an' them in the long- bvoat had a bag of bread. Before wve could divide the stores the barkt wsent down, one of her spars striking the long-boat, an' we never saw a soul of 38 A R U.NA WA Y BRIG. em ag'in. I reckon pretty nigh every one was kille(d by the ruffle. The yawl held six, all told, an' I'm the last. The lack of food wasn't so bad till the water give out, an' then the weakest went first. Yesterday I threw the last body overboard, an' this mornin' after it fell calm your craft hove in sight. i I didn't believe I could lift an oar; but it was life or (leatn for sure, an' I managed to do it, losin' mv head entirely after makin' fast to the main- chains an' not gettin' any answer to the hail. That's the whole of the story. It ain't very much in the tellin' ; but, ladls, the livin' of it was somnethin' a man don't like to think about verv long at i time. The question to be settled now is, whiere are Ave, an' what's the course to the nearest port D)id you find anything below that looked like a log-book " "We didn't hunt round in the cabin very much, but if it'll do any good we'll overhaul things now," Jim replied, the sense of companionship which had come when Bob Brace revived sufficiently to tell his story causing him to lose a certain portion of his fear at going below. "The log-book would tell us where the brig was when the crew abandoned her, an' from that we might shape some kind of a course. Help me over to the wheel, an' I can manage to hold her steady while you boys are rummagin'." The kInowledle that immediate action was neces- sary to save their lives, as Owell as what iniglit i)rov to be a valuable cargo, had a beneficial eftect on1 Brace, and Harry fancied he could see him growing0 9 1 K tarNA WAY I BP R G. stron(rer eaclh moment. With but little aid he seated himself near the wheel, after w-hich the boys went below to make a thorough search of the saloon and state-rooms. The approach of night had already filled the cabin with gloom, and to dispel this Jim lighted the swinging lamps, thus giving to the interior a less sinister appearance. The sword still remained on the floor, however, an(l all felt that this reminder of what ha(l possibly been a deadly encounter must be removed before the place could be divested of its horrors. "It ain't anything but a piece of steel, no matter what's been done with it," Jim said by way of re- assuring himself; and then, lifting the weapon very gingerly, he threw it under the berth in one of the state-rooms, closing and locking the doom quickly, as if fearing that by some supernatural agency it migrhlt spring upon him. This horror of an inanimate object may sound foolish when read in print with nothing in one's sur- roun(dings to inspire terror ; but if the situation of these three boys be taken into consideration, to- gethmer with the mystery attending the abandonment of the blig, verI many excuses can be found for tliedr superstitious fears. Thie search seas manade thoroughly, but no log could be found. TVe slate, on which the brig's position bad been partially worked out, was the only article which ldighlt hm.ye thirown anyN light on the matter, and this Ilob Brace could not understand. 4( t R UN4 W.:I Y BRIG. "You see I ain't Iiiuch of a navigator at the best, an' this bit of figgerin' beats me," he said when the boys returned with the fruit of their labor. " If we can't get any idee of our true position we'll have to make a guess at it. How far do you reckon this 'ere brig has sailed since you come aboard " Jim frankly confessed that he was ignorant on that point, Ile descril)e(d the position of the canvas when they found the Bonita, and the probable time she ha(l been under shortened sail; but this was not very valuable inforniation. The statement was hardly concluded when Bob interrupted him by asking angrily, as his gaze fell upon some object for- war(l "Wasn't you in trouble enough -when the brig carried you off but that it must be made worse by turnin' that hatch over" "We didn't (1o it," Harry replied quickly. "It was in that position when we came aboard." "Then it's no wonder the crew took to the boats," and Bob wiped his forehead wvith the sleeve of his coat, apparently as much disturbed by this trifling matter as the boys had been at the sight of the sword. " Why " Jim asked, disturbed in no slight degree by the look of fear on the old sailor's face. " How can a little thing like that do any harm " " If you'd seen as much as I have you wouldn't call it a little thing," B ob replied in a, solemni tine. - I lhatd a messnmate in the old Sea Queen what shipped on a English bark, an' the second(lay out 41 2 A R UNA VWA BRIG. one of the green hands turned the main hatch bot- tom up. What ha)penled Wi ,, in less'n a month the bark turned turtle on 'em, ai' all llut four went to Davy Jones' Locker. It's a bad sign, lads, an' one that I never knew to fail!" "What is it a sigrn of !" Harry asked impatiently. "Didn't I jes' tell you It's a sig-n that this 'ere craft will turn l)ottomli Up afore reachin' port, an' we're in big luck to have the Trade Wind's yawl hangin' at the (lavits." "Well, we'll fix that mighty sulden!" And Jim ran forward as lie spoke; lout the heavy hatch was more than lie could lift unaidIedI. " It won't do any good to turn it now, for the mischief has been (lone," Bob said in a lugubrious tone; " but you boys had better go for'ard an' help him set it ship-shape." Harry and Walter did as was suggCrested; but they did not move with alacrity, for thle ol( sailor's superstitious fears had plunged theini again into dleepest despair. ' Don't act as if you'd lost your best fr iend," Jimn saild in a whisper when the two caime forward. It's only a iness of sailor's nonsense." "But lie says the sign always comes true !" Wal- ter replied mournfully. That (lon't make it so. If every fore-hatch what got turned upside down sunk a ship there wouldn't be many vessels afloat. Ie's all in a lheiip through bein' starved so long, an' most likely doesn't know more'n half of what lie's talkin' about." 42 A 1IL-A V I I X- I i Y B . 4G "The boys refused to be comforted. It was but natural that they should believe the eldest member of the party, andl he an old sailor, rather than the youngest, more especially as the ominous prediction seemed to be in keeping with all that had happened since they boarded the brig. It was a mournful-looking group which clustered around the wheel when the sun descended behind the waste of waters, for even J im could not appear cheerful while his companions were so gloomy; and as the darkness settled darwn over brig and sea Bob repeated the story of his sufferings in the open boat, until the sighing of the light wind through the rig- ging sounded in their ears like the moaning of some unearthly visitant. " What are you goin' to do about standin' watch " Jim asked, in order to chance the dismal current of thought. "You and I'll have to take the most of it," re- plied Bob. " I don't know as we can do any better than keep her steady as she goes till some kind of a course is figgered out, for we ain't inakin' much headway with this wind' I'll take Harry in my watch an' give you Walter; then if wve should have luck enough to sight a craft, a flare can be started without the helmsman's leavin' the wheel. Hunt in the pantry for alcohol-you'll find some there; get a basin outer the galley, an' a bunch of oakum from the fo'castle. We'll have everything ready to signal, an' if a ship does heave in sight there won't be any time lost." 4:3 44 A I UNA WA Y B RIG. Jim (1idfnt ftncy searching through the deserted forecastle and cabin in the night; but it was neces- sary some one should set an example of courage to Harry and Walter, and he went below without a show of hesitation, returning a short time later with the materials Bob desired. When the flare was arranged to the old sailor's satisfaction, he proposed that Jim should stand the first watch, and with a few words of advice relative to the method of using the signal, in case it should become necessary, he and Harry wvent below, leav- ing the other two sole occupants of the deck. A R UNA WA Y BRIU. CHAPTER VI. A CHANGE OF WEATHER. W l7ALTER could be of but little assistance on V V deck, owing to his ignorance of nautical matters; yet in Jim's estimation he formed, as companion to himself, a very important portion of the watch. Brave though the young fisherman tried to appear, nothing short of actually saving his own life wvould have tenii)ted him to remain on the lBonita's (1uarter-deck alone in the night; and even with an assistant it seemed necessary for him to whistle very loud during several minutes after Bob and Harry disappeared in the cabin before he had sufficient control over his voice to hide the fear which came upon him. Then lhe said in what was intended to be a cheery tone: "Well, Walt, I reckon this is the last night we'll run dead before the wind, unless it blows in our favor. By mornin' Bob oughter be strong enough, if he keeps on eatin' same as he has to-day, to help wtork ship, an' then the brig'll be headed toward home." Walter sigohed deeply. Just at that moment he vas thinking of the loved ones whom.u he knew must A X UNA IVA Y BRIG. be mourning his absence, and the word "home" caused such an uncoinfortably big lump to rise in his throat that it was im11possible to make any reply. Perhaps the same syllable sent Jim's thoughts straying in a similar direction, for he began to whistle once more, and continuled to (1o so until a voice from the companion-way asked, in a querulous tone: "What's the matter Short-handed as we are, do you think it's goin' to help out by havin' more wind !" "It ain't blowin' any harder than it was when you went below," Jim replied in surprise, under- standing by the tone of the voice that it was Bob Brace wvh had spoken. " That's jes' why you wanter tie up the whistle. It'll bring a gale if you keep on much longer!" Then the sound of footsteps told that the speaker had returned to the cabin, and Jim said, in a low tone, to Walter: " Them ol0( sailors are as full of whims as a dog is of fleas. Some of them on the Mary Walker had signs for everything a feller did; but I never saw any come true. Toni Downey, the mate, allers fussed when birds flew 'round the schooner, 'cause he said they'd bring on a gale, an' in a dead calm he'd either whistle or wish he had a cat to throw overboard." "What for " "So's to bring a wind. He says it'll allers come when you do that; but of course its foolishness. Then again, if I happened to whistle, no matter how 46 A R UNA WAY BRIG. calm it was, I'd get a rope's endin"cause they think a boy mustn't so much as squeak. If I'd believed Bob could hear me I'd know'd enough to hold my tongue." " Did you get whipped very often on the Mary " Walter asked, with a mild curiosity. "More times than I've got fingers an' toes. When- ever any of 'em, from the captain down to the cook, wanted something to do they'd stir me up, an' it makes a feller dance when he gets a good stout heavin'-line across his back; but I'd be willin' to take a pretty big dose of it if I could be on board the old schooner just now." There was no necessity for Walter to repeat this last sentiment. A severe punishment from his father at that moment would have been a positive pleasure. The lightest wvord in reference to home caused him to realize more keenly each hour the dis- tance between those whom he loved and himself, and J imii's words seemed but the echo of his own thoughts. 0 During fully half an hour the twio remained in silence at the wheel, steering the brig through the d(arkness on a course indicated only by the wind, and then the young fisherman was suddenly recalled from memories of the Mary Walker to the Bonita. The breeze was increasing perceptibly, and the moisture in the atmosphere told that rain might be expected very soon. While the boys had given themselves up to reverie the clouds were gathering, until nowr it seemed as if they actually enveloped the -brig as with an impenetrable vapor, and the 47 A R UNA WA Y BRIG. waters dashed against the bow with that peculiar sullen sighing which betokens a storm. The Bonita no longer sailed freely, but tossed and plunged like some living thing harassed by obstacles in its path until wearied with the constant strife. Jim knew the meaning of this change in wind and wave, and he roused himself suddenly as does one who is rudely awakened. " I reckon it would be better if we 'tended to our business instead of whinin' about what can't be helped," he said grimly, clutching yet more tightly the spokes of the wheel. You'll have to go below an' tell Bob that a storm is comin' on, so's we can get in some more of this canvas, if he thinks we're carrvin' too much." Walter noted the change in his companion's voice rather than in the elements; but that was sufficient to cause him to move very quickly. It became necessary to look in several of the tiny apartments before finding the two who were enjoy- ing their watch below, after which it was an affair of only a few seconds to arouse them. Bob sprung to his feet before Walter had repeated Jim's words, and he awakened Harry by saying, as he pulled him from the bunk: "Come on deck, lad; for we shall need the whole workin' force unless our fisherman has made a mis- take!" To have seen Bob ascend the companion-way ladder one would hardly have supposed he had been so near death a few hours previous. The necessity 48 A UNA4 WVA Y BRIG. for action seemed to call back all his strength, anld on reaching the deck there was no evidence of weak- ness in his movements. i'Well, the wfin(l you was callin' for has got here," he said to Jimi, looking out into the darkness. "I never knew inuch goodl to coniie of boxs whistlin' at sea, an' I don't reckon any one else ever did." Jim had nothing to say. lIe (lidln't believe he was responsible for this sudden chllange in the weather; but long anld sad experience had taught him how useless it would be to deny the imputation, and he asked meekly: "Do you think we're -oin' to have much of a storm 2" " It looks like it; but if we had half a crew aboard there wouldn't be any reason for touchin' a rope. The way we're fixed now makes things different, an' we'd better get her snutggedt down. I'll take the two boys for'ard, all' you ease her up a bit so we can furl the jib. Come on, lads; there ain't much time to waste." Hlarry and Walter followed Bob without the slightest idea of what was required. They could carry out his instructions when lie set the example, however, and in half an hour the Bonita was )lung- ing heavily into the rapidly-rising sea with nothing save the foretop-sail drawing. She had no more canvas than might have been shown in the most furious gale; but, under the circumstances, it seemed to be all that was consistent with safety, for no one could say how much wind lurked behind tile inky clouds. 43 A 1 UIVA WA Y BRIG. "Now light the binnacle lamp, Jim, so's we'll have some idea of where we're headin', an' then try your hand at makin' tea. I reckon this will be an all-night job for me, an' as I don't feel so very chipper yet, somethin' warm won't do any harm." Bob took the wheel as he spoke, and Jim obeyed orders, the other boys following him closely, for the stuffy galley was preferable to the deck, where the huge waves, roaring astern, appeared ever on the point of ingulfing the brig. By the time a pot of tea had been steeped the storm was full upon them, causing the Bonita to pitch and toss in what Harry and Walter thought a most dangerous manner. Jim did not feel disturbed by it, however, for in his mind was the knowledge of that greater peril concerning which his com- panions were ignorant. The brig was dashing on literally at the mercy of the gale, and at any mo- ment might strike a reef or the main-land, to the destruction of all on board as well as her oxvn stout timbers, for the helmsman had no idea of what lay before them. When Jim carried a pannikin of tea aft, leaving the other boys in the galley awaiting his return, Bob said in a low tone, as if fearing his words would be overheard: "You must take the wheel awhile, lad, so I can hunt for the charts. It won't do to storm along like this without a little smatterin' of what's ahead, an' we'll malke some kind of a guess as to where the brig was when you picked me up." 50 A R UNA WVAY BRIG. Jim grasped the spokes firmly, as much for the purpose of steadying himself against the vessel's furious plunging as to hold her before the wind, and after draining the pan of its bitter contents Bob Brace went into the cabin. Owing to the violent motion of the brig the boys in the galley made no effort to join the young fisher- man at the helm, and he was left alone luring half an hour, when Bob returned. "Did you find the charts " Jim asked eagerly. "Yes; an' I reckon there's no call to worry our- selves very much. We're runnin' pretty nigh south, an' if the brig was a hundred miles off the coast when I came aboard there's nothin' between us an' the Bahamas. We've got thirteen or fourteen hun dred miles of clear water, an' this breeze will blow itself out before _" " Look! Look there !" Jim cried excitedly, heav- in,, the wheel down to port as rapidly as he could handle the spokes. Bob turned quickly, and but one brief glance was sufficient to cause him to spring to the helmsman's aid. There was good reason why the two were alarmed. Directly in the -Bonita's course, less than half a cable's length away, a huge fabric of canvas and cordage came out of the gloom like a phantom, as if bent on running down the brig. The stranger had all lower sails set, and a collision would have been fatal to the smaller craft because her headway was so much less than that of the other. 51 5.1 I AcA IVA Y BRIG. "U Up with the helm, lad, to meet her as she comes around !" Bob screamed, when the wheel had been jammed hard down for a second, and the Bonita heeled over while responding to the rudder's sudden swing. " We shall clear her, but it'll be a rub." The stranger had also changed her course by this time, and as the two vessels swept past each other on a heaving, screaming sea of foam, hardly twenty feet apart, Jim sprang toward the flare. "You can't bring her to now, lad," Bob shouted as the boy ran into the galley with the basin of alcohol-saturated oakum. " Even if they were will- in', we couldn't wear ship." Jim's excitement was so great that he did not hear the old sailor's words. When he emerged from the galley the spirit was sending up a blue flame which illumined the entire after-part of the brig; but the stranger had vanished in the gloom to starboard, and strain his eyes as he might it was impossible to see any answering signal. "You needn't spend much time lookin' for that craft, lad. We've been nearer to her than we shall ever be again, an' you'd better chuck the basin over- board before your fingers get burned." 52 A e USA IVA1 Y BRIG.'5 CHAPTER VII. AN UNEXPECTED DANGER. D URING the remainder of that night Bob D Brace stool at the wheel, save now and then when Jim took his place that he might go into the galley to light his pipe or solace himself with a pan- nikin of tea. When the young fisherman lighted the flare both Harry and Walter firmly believed that the ship which had almost run them (lown would heave to and offer assistance; therefore, as the Bonita plunged on through the (tense gloom and over the howling waters without receiving any answer to the mute appeal for aid, their despair was intense. To have been so near those who might have given help seemed to make their position even more desolate than it was before, andl after watching in vain for some show of a light from the stranger the boys gave way to grief. "Now see here, fellers," Jim said gravely as he entered the galley and found thenm weeping, " feelin' bad won't help matters, an' it'll only make 'em worse. Bob says there wasn't a chance for them on the ship to lend us a hand, even if they wanted to, an' we must keep a stiff upper lip till the weather 53 A R UNA WA Y BRIG. clears a bit. By this time to-morrow there may be a full crew on board, an' the brig standin' up for the coast; so don't take on so hard. It won't be any use to stay on deck 'cause neither Bob nor me can turn in, so you'd better go below. I'll sing out if there's need for help." Neither of the boys protested against following this advice. Both were perfectly willing to go where they could not witness the conflict of the elements, and when Jim went aft again they sought refuge in the cabin with but little heed to what a few hours pre- vious had been a place peopled with phantoms of the imagination. They were yet below when another day dawned, and Jim prepare(l an appetizing breakfast before awakening them. The gale still continued in all its fury. With the single piece of canvas the Bonita plunged and rolled on her way southward, for the wind's direction had not changed by so much as half a point, and the watch on deck looked haggard and worn from the long vigil. During the earlv hours of the morning, while the sun, through its cloudy veil, was trying to dispel the gloom of night, Jim asked if it was not possible to stand nearer the land in the hope of making some port, and Bob replied very decidedly in the nega- tive. "It can't be done, lad. The boys below wouldn't be of any account in makin' sail, an', besides, we'd stand a good show of plampin' on the coast where 54 A R UNA WA Y BRIG. there wouldn't be the ghost of a chance to get ashore. We'll keep her as she goes till this wind blows itself out, an' then take to the boat if there's no craft in sight. This brig never'll reach port, 'cordin' to my way of thinkin', and I'll be the first to say ' leave her' when the time comes." On this day there was but little change in the condition of affairs. The gale held strong from the north, but no sail appeared within the anxious watchers' range of vision. Harry and Walter were eager to be of some assistance; but beyond taking a few lessons in steering there was nothing they could do, and their time was passed in comparative idle- ness. Bob and Jim alternately stood watch and slept until, when night came again, they were in fair bodily condition for the work before them, and once more Harry and Walter retired to the cabin, know- ing they ought to do a full share of the labor, but too ignorant to give any save the most trifling aid. Before midnight the wind fined down to a light breeze, still holding from the north, however; and Bob said, with a sigh, as Jim made ready to stand his trick at the wheel: "Ah, lad, if we only had a couple of good men aboard how quick the old hooker's head would be turned toward the coast." "In case we don't sight a vessel wvhy can't you put her about, anyhow " " We'll make a try to get the lower canvas on in the mornin'. You an' I must have a good bit of 5.5 A R UNA WA Y BRIG. help from the watch below, an' they'd be worse than woo(len boys in the night." This was not the only reason why Bob made no attempt to get sail on at once. Ile was yet feeble from the exposure and privations of the nine days in the Trade Wind's yawl, and although there was but little labor involved in such watches as had been kept since coming on board the Bonita, the anxiety prevented an immediate return of strength. " I've heard of vessels comin' in mighty short- handed," Jim said thoughtfully, as if trying to bring forward some argument which might induce the old sailor to take greater risks. There was a fishin' schooner from Newburyport what lost all her boats in a fog, an' the captain brought her home with nobody but the cook to help." "I ain't a questionin' that, lad. The packet-ship Three Brothers, in the Chinese trade, anchored inside of Sandy Hook ten years ago, an' nobody aboard able to lift a hand but two men and the captain's wife-all the rest down with fever. I could spin yarns from now till daylight 'bout jes' sich cases; we're fixedl different. lNone of us knows naviga- tion, an' its got to be all dead reckonin', which is a pretty shaky way of runnin' even a lishin' schooner. Then, again, Harry an' Walter ain't strong enough to handle the wheel in any kind of a decent breeze, an' it's only you an' me. We must lay by till some- thin' more'n a good fair chance comes, else we'll find ourselves in a bad scrape." " Of course you're the one that knows what we A R UNA WA Y BRIG. ought to do, an' I ain't sayin' a wordl if we run wax down to South America; but it's kinder tough on the boys. I can see 'ein, when they think I ain't lookin', wipin' their eyes an' actin' like as if it wouldn't take much to make both yell right out. If they didn't have no more of a homie than I've got neither would bother 'bout how long the cruise is likely to last." "I s'pose it does seem rough," Bob said reflect- ively.; "but what's to be done I reckon they'd rather loaf 'round here a good many days than take chances on a raft. Sailorizin' is a mighty riskv thing for green hands, an' while I can hold my owvii among the best of 'erm in the fo'castle, I'd make a poor fist of navigation. They'll have to grin an' bear it same's many a good man has done before 'em. Jim had no reply to make. Even before the con- versation was begun he realized the difficulty of reaching port unless under the most favorable cir- cumstances; and novw since Bob had spoken so freely he resolved to be patient, no matter how long they might remain at sea. The old sailor, instead of going below , where there would be soine trouble to awaken hini in the event of a su(lddei emnergency, laid doXvn on the (eek to lee- ward of the house, and a few seconds later his loud breathing told of unconsciousness. To remain at the wheel, the only one of this small crew awake, and in a certain degree responsible for the safety of all, was a task from w-hich even a more experienced sailor than Jim might be excused for 51 58A R UNA WA Y BRIG. shrinking; but it was a matter waich could not well be bettered, an(l the boy stood up to it bravely. Now and then the white crest of a wave in the distance caused him to start with joy, only to be correspondingly depressed a few seconds later as the true nature of the object was discovered; an(l thus amid alternate hope and despondency the two long hours of his watch were passed. Then Bob took his trick at the wheel, Jim camp- ing down on the deck in the place so lately vacated by the ol0( sailor; and when his eyes were closed in slumber he did not open them again until the sun began to send long shafts of golden light across the leaping waters. "What made you let me sleep so long " he asked, with just a shade of irritation in his tone. " I was better able to stand watch than you, an' a couple of hours' sleep would a'-fixed me up all right." "Well, lad, somehow the thinkin' of what might he the end o' this 'ere queer cruise kept me awake, an' when I wasn't sleepy there could be no reason for pullin' you out. We'll square it before dark, though. Now s'posen we get a little grub, call the watch below so's they can take a few lessons in steerin', an' be ready for settin' the canvas." Jim, feeling that he was in a certain degree responsible for having thus unconsciously shirked his dluty, carried out these instructions with the greatest alacrity. When Harry and Walter were awakened they went aft to their teacher in seamanship, while the amateur cook prepared a hearty breakfast, 58 A R UNA WA - BRIa. which was served on the top of the house in order that all might eat at the same time. Then Bob went below for what he called a "double dose of snoozin'." Walter set things to rights in the galley, and Harry steered while Jim stood beside him to make sure the Bonita was kept on the course, exercising as much care as if it was the only one which could be pursued with safety. Although Bob had fully determined to turn the brig toward the coast on this day, there was no change in her course at noon, and for a very good reason. Before daylight the breeze had died awav entirely, and at nine o'clock the Bonita was rising and falling on the glassy ocean with not air enough stirring to lift the narrow thread of blue bunting at the main-truck. The involuntary crew had spread the yawl's sail from the house to the starboard rail as an awning, for the heat in the cabin was too great to admit of their remaining below, and under this all sought shelter from the sun's fervent rays. Bob found a reasonably large stock of tobacco among the Bonita's stores, and with this and a short black pipe he occupied himself during the hours of enforced idleness, while the boys thought of home and the loved ones whom they might never see again. The seconds came and went until the sun was directly overhead, and the old sailor had but just settled down for a noonday nap when all four sprang to their feet in alarm, as the deafening crash of an explosion was heard. 59 A RUNAWAY DRIC. The brig quivered from stein to stern as if from the effects of a torpedo beneath her `'-el, and the fore hatch was flung high in the air while a dense cloud of what appeared to be smoke arose from the hold. Astonishment and fear rendered the younger members of the crew incapalble either of speech or movement, and they might have remained staring stupidly forward an indefinite length of time if Bob had not shouted, excitedly: "It's a case of fire, lads! Jump to it for what provisions an' water can be got out in a hurry! There's no time to be lost if w e want to leave, for most likely the hold is one mass of flame." These hurriedly-spoken commands aroused the boys from their stupefaction, and in an instant all three leaped toward the pantry. Each took what was nearest at hand, and in a very few moments there was a reasonably large but varied collection of canned provisions in the yawL No water had been put on 'board for the very good reason that they could not finda a )reaker ; anid Jim shouted, after they had searched several moments in vain: "We shall have to leave without anything to drink, for we can't get one of the scuttle-butts on the boat." " I'll stand a pretty good scorchin' afore startin' like that," Bob said (lecidedly, "cause you see I know what it is to be thirsty. Fill half a dozen of the fire-buckets while I hunt after bottles." During all this time the smoke had been pouring A R UNA IVA Y BRIG. from the fore hatchway in dense clouds, apparently g i ving evidence of some mighty conflagration below; but before a supply of water could be put on the vawvl it had fined down to a thin curl of vapor, and to this Jim called Bob's attention just as they were preparing to lower the boat. "It looks as if soinethin' had put the fire out," he said; and Bob replied, as lie let go the davit-falls: "M Make fast there, lads, an' I'll take a look below. We don't want to abandon the brig while there's a chance of standin' by her." The old sailor went forward, the boys remaining aft ready to lower away at a moment's notice, and in a few seconds, to the surprise of all, he was seen going below. " Now, that's what I call queer !" Jim said after five minutes had passed and Bob did not make his appearance. "Ile couldn't stay down there very long if the fire amounted to much." "Perhaps he's been suffocated and can't get leack,' Harry suggested in a low, tremulous tone. This idea was sufficient to alarm the other boys, and stop)p)ing only long enough to make the falls fast they rushed forward, reaching the fore hatch- way just as Bob began to ascend. "Is the fire very big " Jim asked; and the reply astonished them quite as much as had the explosion. "There ain't even a spark !" "Then what caused the smoke " "The brig is loadle(l with alcohol in casks made of red-oak. That kind of wood is porous, an' the G1 A 1UYA UIWAY BRIG. fumes escapin' have formed a gas that looked like smoke, but which had force enough to blow off a hatch that wasn't battened down." Then, as Bob seated himnself on the combing and wiped the perspi- ration from his face, he added: "Now we can have a pretty good idee as to why this craft was aban- doned. There was an explosion same as happened a few minutes ago, an' all hands thought what we did-that the brig was on fire. They hove her to an' got the boats over, most likely meanin' to lay at a safe distance until it was possible to find out what would happen. The mainsail was stowed, so she had no after-canvas to hold her steady. Then she got stern-way-on an' backed off till the wind filled her topsails, when she started like a rocket, leavin' the crew behind. Of course she would run a couple of miles, then come to, an' before the men could catch her she'd be off once more. The chances are that them maneuvers were kept up till night set in, ws -hen she was lost entirely." The three boys listened with the utmost attention to this very plausible explanation of what had pre- viously been such a deep mystery, and when Bob concluded there was a look of most intense relief on their faces. Up to this moment the brig herself ter- rified them because of what had possibly happened on board; but now all seemed changed, and she was suddenly transformied from something supernatural to the most innocent andl peaceful of traders. "Then theres no reason for abandoning her" Harry said half-interrogatively. 62 A R UNA WA Y BRIG. " Not a bit of it, lad. We'll leave the hatch open to let the gas out, an' run her in on the coast if we don't speak a craft that can lend us two or three ilands." " S'posin' you could get some more sailors, then how would you fix it" Jim asked, remembering what the old man had said regarding his ignorance of navigation. " Take the chances of keepin' off the shore till we sighted a New York pilot-boat, an' then lay claim for a fat salvage." " And we should be landed at home !" Walter ex- claimed in delight. "We might stop in front of Harry's father's store, which is close by the wharves; and I guess there'd be a big time when Mr. Van- dlvne found out who had brought in the Bonita !" "Don't count too much on anything like that, Walt," Harry added gravely. " Bob said he would try to make that port if he could find some sailors to help him; but according to the looks of things now it'll be a long while before such good luck CoIIeCS." "W We can believe it will be here any moment, and then the nights won't seem so lonely, nor the days so long." " That's right, lad; don't trouble trouble till trouble troubles you. Keep a stiff upper lip what- ever happens, an' you'll stand a better show of pullin' through !" Bob cried in a cheery tone. " I was shipmate once with a chap what was allers Nworryin' 'bout findiin' hisself on a haunted vessel. 63 A R UNA TA Y BURI'. He never'd put his mark to the articles till after he'd asked all about the craft, an' whether there was any ghosts aboard. Now, you let a man go nosin' 'round expectin' to see things, an' it happens that what he's huntin' for most allers comes, or else he conjures 'em up. Well, so it was with Tom-Tom Byard, he called hisself. Lie got (Irunk one night, an' the next mornin' awoke on a ship bound 'round the Horn with a cargo of railroad iron. "It wasn't long before he commenced to hunt after ghosts, 'an this time he didn't have to look very far. I reckon the liquor-he'd been on a four days' spree-had considerable to do with his eyes; an' that very night, while they was within sight of Sandy Hook, he saw, or thought he did, the biggest kind of a ghost makin' right for him with a bloody knife. Tom was on the maint'gallant-yard with an- other chap when the thing come. lIe give a big yell, singing out that he knowed it would be there some time, an' over lie wvent. Nobody ever saw hide or hair of him afterward, an' the captain put in the log-book as how it was delirium tre-tre-tre- menjus, or somethin' like that, what killed him." The point that Bob sought to make was forgotten owing to the length of the story, and even he him- self appeared to have lost sight of any moral; therefore, what had been intended as a strong argu- ment why people should not seek out trouble passed for nothing better than a very improbable yarn. The boys were eager to see the cargo which had given them so much alarnm, and had also possibly 64 A RUNAWTA Y BRIG. 6 been the cause of the brig's abandonm tit by her original crew; therefore they went below on a tour of investigation, wl-ich was not very satisfactory because there was nothing but a quantity of casks to be seen. Ten minutes in the hot hold was sufficient to gratify their curiosity, and then the amateur cook sat about preparing the noonday meal. A R UNAWAY PBRIG. CHAPTER VIIL ANOTHER SIGNAL OF DISTRESS. N OW THAT the boys had lost all fear of the 1N5 Bonita, half their troubles seemed suddenly to have vanished. As a matter of course, 11arry and Walter grieved because of the sorrow their un- explainable absence must have caused at home; but their distress of mind was lessened very materially by the belief that they would soon be in a condition to return. Even Bob appeared to be relieved by what was evidently the solution of the mystery, and it was quite a jolly party which gathered in the saloon to partake of the dinner prepared by Jim. " Now that things seem to be straightened up a bit, an' all hands are feelin' kinder nat'ral-like, I reckon we'll get some sail on the old hooker this afternoon," Bob said when the meal was finished and he had begun to make ready for the after-din- ner smoke. " There ain't wind enough to lift a pocket-hand- kerchief," Jim suggested, "so why do you want more canvas" " I don't reckon it'll hold calm a great while, an' we must be ready when the breeze does come. A RUNAWAY 1 MBR6t There's time now to give Harry an' Walter a lesson in wvorkin' ship, an' they need it." The boys had no objection to make, for a certain amount of labor was necessary if they ever hoped to reach home again, and they signified their willing- ness to begin at once; but the old sailor insisted on finishing his smoke before doing anything else. "There's plenty of time," lie said lazily, " an' we'll lay under the awnin' till the sun gets a little nearer the water." Then lie arose from the table, and as the boys fol- lowed on (leck they -were electritie(l by hearing him sliout, as lie shaded his eyes from the glare and gazed southward: " There's a steamer, lads! Now all we've got to do is hook on an' be towed into port. Set the flag- so's they'll know we're in distress, an' we'll over- haul the hawsers to save time." Before lie ceased speaking the boys had made out that which caused Bob so much excitement. It was a small craft coming towar(l them un(ler steamn, as could be told from the thread of smoke which floated on the still air, an(l after one glance at her Jim hoisted the signal of distress while the others gathered in the bows to wvatch the welcome ap- proach. "It ain't a very big steamer," the young fisher- man said as he rejoined his companions. Most likely she's a ttu(g whlats tgot blown out to sea," Bob rel)hic(l as lie wvent into the cabin for a glass; and whlien lie caihe on (le(ik a-ain the boys waited impatiently to learn what could Ibe seen. 67 X MtA WA YB IrAl. During fully ten minutes the old sailor held the glass to his eyes, while a mystified expression came over his face as he said to Jim " Here, take this an' see what you can make out. It puzzles me, for a fact." "She looks like a tug," the boy said, after gazing at the approaching craft several seconds; "but there's something queer on her bow." "What about her spars " Bob asked impatiently. "She's got two short masts, and- Why, what's that She's flying a signal of distress !" "Thait's about the size of it," Bob exclaimed as he brought his hand down on the rail with a vigorous slap as if to give emphasis to his words. "I thought my eyes i ust be playin' me a trick, so that's why I asked you to look. Iler bowv has been stove, an' she's workin' up this way for help." " Well," and Jim lowered the glass with a gesture of disappointment, "she's comin' to a pretty poor place, for we've got our hands full tryin' to help ourselves." During the next half hour hardly a word was spoken, so occupied were all hands with watching the stranger, which approached very slowly, and at the end of that time she was almost within hailing distance. It was a small tug with a flag run half-way up the stumpy mainmast, and her bow stove from the cut-water nearly to the pilot-house. A stream of water coming from the starboird sidle told thlat the steam-pump was necessary to. keep her afloat; but C R A c UNA TVA Y R131;. 9. no person save a boy about eighteen years of age, who was at the wheel, could be seen. "She must be pretty nigh as short-handed as we are," Bob said; and then came a hail. "Brig ahoy !" "Ahoy on the tug !" "Can you send me some men The steamer is sinking, and I am the only one on hoard." "Who's running the engine" Bob shouted. " I am, and trying to steer at the same time." "There's only one man an' three boys here. Can't you manage to come alongside " The helmsman waved his hand as if in reply and disappeared, when the steamer's speed was checked. Then he entered the p)ilot-housc again, going below once more to stop the machinery entirely when within fifty yards of the bric. By this means the tug wXas brought so near that a heaving-line could be thrown aboard, and ten minutes later she was lying alongside the Bonita as a tired, hungry-looking boy stepped over the brig's rail. "I reckon you've been havin' a decently tough time," Bob said by wnay of starting the conversation. "Since yesterday morning I've been trying to keep her afloat. If some craft hadn't hove in sight to-day I should have given up, and probably gone to the bottom with her." "How did you get in such a mess " "An ocean steamer ran into us at sunrise yester- day. Before she could clear herself every one of G9 A Pi UNA IVA Y BRIG. the tug's crew, except myself, cliilnbe(l on b)oard over the bow. I was the engineer, and had an assistant. Ile was on duty at the time, and I asleep in the after cabin. The shock of the collision threw me out of the bunk and stunned me, I reckon, for when I came on deck there was no craft in sight. Since then I've kept steam on so the pump would work, and run in the hope of sighting some craft." "Where do you hail from " "Philadelphia. Tile Sea Bird is a new boat, and we were taking her to Cuba." "How long have you been out " "Five days from the Capes." "Then we've made more of a southin' than I reckoned on," Bo10 said half to himself, and seeing a look of inquiry on the stranger's face he gave a brief account of the Bonita from the time the boys came aboard; saying, in conclusion: "We're better off than you, for the brig is sound; so you'd best bring your traps over the rail an' let the steamer sink when she gets ready. I reckon with your help we can crawl in toward the main-land an' make a tidy bit of salvage at the same time. What's your name C' "Joseph Taylor. The only work I have ever done on ship-board has been in the engine-room, and I'm afraid I sha'n't make much of a sailor." "You've got strength an' pluck," Bob said ap- provingly, "an' that's enough." "But I don't like to give up trying to save the Sea Bird. She isn't stove below the water-line, is new, and is worth fifteen thousand dollars." 70 A RUIVA IAY BRIG. " I'm afraid, lad, that we haven't got force enough to (1o very much in the way of ship-building ;" and Bob shook his head gravely as if to say he thought it a hopeless case. Ilowsomever, while there's no wind we sha'n't be wastin' time, so it won't do any harm to have a look at her " Joe Taylor led the way over the rail, and the three boys, eager to see the little steamer, followed directly behind Bob, Jim whispering to his friends: "If this cruise don't end pretty soon we shall have a reg'lar cripples' crew aboard. Here's me, who come from the Mary Walker; you, that never belonged to any craft; the ol1 Bonita, with nobody to work her; Bob, as a remnant of the Trade Wind, an' now another feller with a sinkin' tut. It's a nice crowvd to talk about salvage when they can't help theirselves !" " Just let us get ashore once more, an' I'll be sat- isfied to have somebody else make money by taking these crafts into port !" and Walter leaped on to the deck of the tug in a discontentedl way, as if he fancied the shattered steamer had brought fresh trouble and compl)hications upon them. Tile litter of splintered timbers, loose ropes and general wreckage on the forward deck of the Sea Bird gave her the appearance of having sufferedL more injury than really was the case. Instead of a sharp, narrow bow, as is usual on crafts of her kind. the hull flared very decidedly from the water-line to the deck, thus giving her greater carry ibg capacityv; and. it was this upper portion which had been cut into, leaving the lower part in fair condition. 71 A 1 UNA WA Y BRBG. All this Bo0) saw at a glance after going on board, and he at once began a careful examination with a view to ascertaining how badly her seams had been strained. "What amount of coal have you got " he asked, coming on deck after spending fully half an hour in the holl. "Enough to run three or four days." 'Tlat wouldn't carry her to the Capes, if your reckonin' is right as to the time she's been out; but wXe niight ianage to make some nearer port," he said half to himself; an(l then added, in a louder tone: " I calculate the hole might be patched up with spare canvas an' plenty of tar; but we'd need fair weather till the job w-as done." "If yoii could imanage that part of it I can tow the brig, providing one of your party steers," said the engineer eagerly. "Why not tackle the job If the Weather should change it would be only the loss of a few hours' time." Before committing himself to such a plan Bob made one more examination of the shattered tim.- bers, looked again in the hold, and then, after light- ing his pipe in the most deliberate manner, replied decidedly "We'll do the best we can, lad, pervidin' the bal- ance of the Bonita's crew is agreeable; an' by patchin' the steamer up I reckon it'll be possible to pull the bri, out of what looks like a bad mess." Ile graze(d in(ilnirin-l at the boss as lie ceased speaking and Harry, answveringr for thie others as .). A R UNA WA Y BRIG. , 3 well as himself, said in a reasonably cheerful tone: " We'll do all we know how; and it won't be our fault if we don't succeed !" But even as he spoke he doubted the wisdom of taking another burden on their already overloaded shoulders; and that this opinion was shared by Jim and Walter could be told from the expression of their faces. Nevertheless, Bob's intentions were good. With the tug the brig could be towed in a calm, and her progress stayed entirely, or checked, during the hours of darkness when the danger of striking a reef would be greatest. An engineer and a helns- man was all the force needed by such an ar- rangement, and thus the voyage miglht be brought to a speedy conclusion without other aid. A 1UUN-4 WVA Y IIUU. CHAPTER IX. THE IIELMSNAN' S MISTAKE. A LTHOUGJI the three boys bad agreed with AR Bob that an attempt be made to so far repair the tug that she mighlt be gotten into port, all of them believed she should have been left to sink. By making Joe Taylor a member of the crew the brig could be worked under lower sails, and there was little doubt but that she would soon reach the coast; whereas, by trying to save the steamer both crafts might be lost. The old sailor had already decided what should be done, and when the question was settled lie went at once to the lazaret for such materials as would be needed. Joe Taylor disappeared in the Sea Bird's engine-room, and the boys wvere left standing by the rail, where they could discuss the matter privately. "If we didn't have hbands eiioug- to work the brig I'd like to know hox jimnell better wsere off by taking charge of another craft E' Walter asked dis- consolately; and Jim replied, in what he intended should be a cheery tone: "Bob knows what he's about. If the tug is kept afloat she can tow us in." "U Unless her coal gives out," Harry added; " and then we'll be worse off than before." 714 A UiVA WI 1'F I rDW. R "WYe shall only have lost j(s' SO miany dlays, for she can be abandoned at an v tinm,' J ini replied. "And it is the possible loss of those days which makes me feel that wve ought not to make any atteirmpt at saving her. Walter's father and mine would be willing to pay what she cost if they could find us, and every hour makes their sorrow greater." " well," Jim said sloNly, "it can't be helped, so we miglht as well look cheerful. Neither Bob nor thle engineer would listen to us if we said the tug, ought to be abandoned, and our only chance is to hurry up with the work." "I don't see why Bob even thinks of such a thin-." And Walter sj)oke in a tone of discontent. "Iere we are so) far from the coast that the tug(r was five davs out at the timne of the collision, which means ten for a sailing vessel, and with half enough coal to get her back. What good will it do to patch her up if we can't keep on steam e" " That's somethin' I airn't able to answer," Jim re- liedl gravely. I" These old sailhl's are (quleer fish, an' nobody can ever tell what kind of a scheme they're likely to strike. Tills miuch is certain, thioughmt Bob wouldln't listen to us, 'cause he thinks we don't knowv the nieanin' of sich work." " It seeins to mne that it would be better to aban- (Ion the brio, which we can't navigate, anI(d go on the tug as far as her coal wvill carry us," Harry sug- gested ; but to such an idea the young fisherman made the most decided objections. "To leave a sound craft for one that's pretty nigh T3 A RUNA IAt Y R 1JNUG. knocked to pieces would le foolish. I'd rather take my chances ten (lays' sail fromn the coast on the brigr thlan go aboard a steamer like her for a trip half the distance. We're pretty sure of keepin' afloat here, 1)ut on the tug, Davy Jones' Locker seems mighty near!" I3y this time Bob had come on (leck with a spare studding- sail, and tle boys were prevented from holding any further discussion by the necessity of immnedliate action. There was not so much as a breath of air stirring,. Tue sea was lik;c glass, save for the lazy swell which cause(l both crafts to rise and fall in regular measure, an(l evervthing seemed favorable for the propose(l task. "It ain't sich a big job, lads," the old sailor said, as, dropping the canvas on deck, he madle his way toward the carpenter's-room. " I've seen crafts bunged up worse'n she is, an' vet finish the bicggest end of a voyage." When Bo0) had collected such tools as iiight be needed lie sumnIoned all hands, and the work was begun by spreadin-r a double thickness of canvas over the shatteredl p)ortion of the hull outside, fast- ening it down firmly Vith copper nails. This temi- porary stoppage of the leak: was carried as far below the surface as wNas possible without diving, and when the aperture had been thus closed a heavy coat of tar was put on over the entire canvas. Outside of this, again, were naile(l light boards which could easilv be l)ent to conform with the curve of the hliull, aidl tlic 1 ;aif)thr coat of tar. A R UNA WA YB R JU'. This portion of the work was hardly completed when night came, and the laborers rested only long enough to partake of a hearty meal, prepared by Jim, after which the old sailor said: "We are pretty nigh through, lads, an' it stands us in hand to finish the job while this calm lasts. We've got to brace our canvas on the inside so it'll stand a heavy sea without givin' way, an' we can work below in the night as well as after sunrise." The air was so still that the flame of a candle would hardly have flickered, and the motion of the sea had subsided until the two crafts rose and fell without so much chafing as w-ould even rub the paint. There was no reason why all hands, save one to stand watch, should not work in the hold, for they could be of no assistance on deck; and leaving Harry as lookout in case a steamer should pass within hailing distance, the remainder of the party followed the old sailor. By tearing out the bulk-head of the Bonita's fore- castle Bob secured such tinibei s as were needed, and with every one wvorking industriously the task was completed before midnight. A sort of frame-work had been erected on the side where the timbers were stove, and directly against the canvas. As a matter of course it was impossible to fasten this except at the ends, and a heavy sea would soon wrench it offt; therefore, braces running up from the keelsoim an(l down from the deck were lout in to hold I ll" whole ill place This wvas by no meats L sibstaiitial job, as even A X UNA WIA Y BRIG. the most inexperienced knew. In anything ap- proaching stormy weather the tug would soon founder; but during such a "Dutchman's hurri- cane " as was now raging she would be as buoyant as when first launched. That the water no longer made its way through the hull of the Sea Bird could be told from the fact that the siphon, which h ad been in constant use to keep the furnace fromn being flooded, now pumped her almost dry, and the old sailor announced as his belief that she was in fit condition to weather any thing save a full gale. " We won't lose much time gettin' under way," he added, after an inspection had been made. "lHosv soon can you raise steam " "There's half a head now," the engineer replied. "and in ten minutes we can start." "V Very well. While you are lookin' after the en- gine we'll get the hawsers out. The tug must tow alongside, unless the sea gets too high; for seein's hov Jim an' me have got to do all the steerin',Nve're obliged to work it so's to catch a cat-nap now and then." Joe Taylor went into the engine-room, and before he had raised the necessary pressure two stout hawsers were made fast fore and aft, while more fenders were lowered to prevent chafing. "Are you goin' south any further" Jini asked when the work was complete(l. " No; we'll hatil around all' steer due west, nowr that it don't matter which (lirection the windi comes 78 A RU A WA r BRIG. from. Harry an' I'll take the first watch, so yowl an' WValt'd better turn in, for it's little sleep we'll gelJ the balance of this cruise, even if we scoop in everY spare minute." Those comprising the watch below did not wait for this suggestion to be mnade a second time. The labor of the past fifteen hours bad(l very nearly ex- hausted them, and their heads hardly touched the pillows before both were sleeping soundly. By the arrangement Bob had made, Joe Taylor was the only one who could not be relieved from duty, and when the old sailor went to consult hini as to low it would be possible to keel) the tug run- ning,, lie replied: "We can fix that easily enough. I'll let you know when I can't keep my e). s open any longer, and then take cat-naps on one of the bunkers. if you ring the gong once every fifteen or twenty minutes I shall be awakened to see that everything is working properly. It's risky, I know; but under the circumstances there's nothing else that can be done." Then lie announced that there was a full 1( a I of steani, and Boob went into the l)ilot-house. Tile Bonita's helmi had been lashed amidships, and, save in the event of very heavy weather, both crafts could readily be steered from the tug. After explaining the bell signals to the old sailor Joe started the niachinerv, and for the title being all desire for slumber was driven froni harry's eyes by tie pleastirI of knioN-ing that at last the brig, w\as heading, dlirectly toward homne. 79 80RAUNA TVWAY IJJUG. Very likely Joe Taylor was affected in a similar manner, because, although having had no rest for ma-ly hours, he stood at his post during Bob's watch without intimating the need of sleep. The weather could not have been more propitious than when what was hoped would prove to be the homeward cruise began. It is true the night was dark, even the stars being obscured by fleecy clouds; but not a breath of wind ruffled the waters, and the waves had sunk to rest. The Sea Bird towed the heavil iaden brig at the rate of six or seven knots an hour: ana it seemed to Harry that nothing could prevent their sighting the mainland before the tug's coal was exhausted. He walked fore and aft on the brig's deck in order to keep awake; but during the entire watch his services Nvore not required, and at three o'clock in the mornilg Bob shouted: "Call Jim and Walt. We won't take too long stretches on this voyage, an' my eyes feel as if they were glued together." The sleepers were awakened after some difficulty, and, when Jim. went into the Sea Bird's pilot-house Idob gave him. his orders as follows "' Keep her as she heads, due west, an' have your eves open for signs of land. I don't reckon there is any very near; 1ut for all th:Lt we may be to the east'ard( of the Bahamas, an' it would be pretty tough to bring up on them just nox. The brig drags a bit an' that must be allowed for; but vou'll s)on get the hang of it." 80 A kN rivA AY BRIG. Then the old sailor went into the Bonita's cabin, and Jim was left alone at the wheel, trying to drive away the slumber which still hung heavily on his eyelids. Walter adopted Harry's plan for keeping awake; but the exertion wvas great and his body weary; therefore, in five minutes after the other watch had gone below he Xwent into the pilot-house, stretching himself out on the cushioned locker as lie said: "I'm only going to rest my self a little, and won't go to sleep. It don't seem as if we were below ten- mnin-minutes-before The sentence was finished with what sounded sus- piciously like a snore, and Jim made no effort to arouse him, Ile knew by his own condition how difficult it was to remain awake, anti griping the spokes of the wheel more tightly to quicken the circulation of blood, lie muttered: " Let himn take comfort if he can; there's really no need of both standing watch." During the next ten minutes he alternately tried to peer through the dense gloomn, and lookedl at the compass-card, which was faintly illumiined by a tiny lamp. The throbbing of the engine, the long, wav- ing lines which marked the faint swvell, and the whispering of the night air lulled the senses, despite every effort to perform his duties faithfully, until, without being conscious of the fact, his eyes closed in slumber even while standing at the wheel. In the engine-room Joe Tavlor was battling against the sanie desire to which Jim had yielded. 81 A R UNA IVA Y BRIG. Ile shoveled coal, raked the fires, polished portions of the inachinery which already shone like silver, andl performed other needless tasks in order to pre- vent sleep from overcoming him, but ignorant of the fact that both brig and tug were running wild. The first hour of the watch passed, and yet the occupants of the pilot-house remained unconscious. Leaning over the wheel, with his head resting be- twveen the spokes, Jim heeded not the gray light in the sky which heralded the approach of day. Had his eves been open he would have seen through the rapidly-vanishing gloom a long, low, b)lack line which half encircled the two crafts and tol(l that they were running into a harbor or l)ay. But he slept on, and each turn of the screw car- ried them nearer and nearer the dark mass until suddenly the brig staggered, rolled to starboard for an instant, when the tug came to a full stop with a crash and a quiver which sent the helmsman reeling backward against his companion as a rush and roar of steam from the engine-room told of a second dis- aster. 1 R UNA WVA Y BRIG. CHAPTER X. AGROUND. A S MAY BE imagined, Jim felt very wide awake when he staggered to his feet, after being thrown so violently against Walter that both rolled to the floor, and his first thought was that all the trouble had originated in the engine-room. The escaping steam enveloped both brig and tug in a fog-like vapor so dense as to be almost stifling, and for several moments it was impossible to dis- tinguish objects a dozen feet distant. That the old sailor had gained the Bonita's deck with wonderful celerity could be told from the shouts of inquiry which he uttered in rapid succession; and before the first bewilderment, caused by the shock, had passed away, Jim was outside the pilot- house trying to answer the questions. "Steamer ahoy! What's the matter " Bob shouted. "I don't know; but it seems as if the tug has ex- ploded somewhere !" "That can't be if she's still afloat," Bob cried testily, and from the sound of his voice Jim knew he was making his way toward the rail. "I must have fallen 'isleep for a second, an' was 83 A R 1UNA Wt Yr B1PI(. awakened l) bein' knocked down," Jim said peni- tently. At that instant a dark figure could be seen com- ing from the engine-room, and a faint voice cried: "One of the boiler-tubes blew out when we struck the rock. Somebody must help draw the fires, for I'm burned pretty bad about the arms and face." " Struck a rock" Bob shouted fiercely, as he made his way toward Joe, who had retreated aft to free his lungs of the deadly vapor. "Are we aground, Jim !" "Not that I know of," the young fisherman re- plied in a tone of bewilderment. " My eyes couldn't have been shut more'n a minute; an' there was nothin' in sight when I closed 'em." 'Get out the lead-line while I see if Joe is hurt very much." The steam was yet pouring from the engine-room in such volumes as to prevent a view from either side, and Jim grope(l his way to the b)rig, Walter fol- lowing elose at his heels like one dazed. Master Libby remembere(l havinr seen the lead-line under the port rail forward, and but a short search was necessary to find it. Fully expecting they were yet in deep water, hie reeled off twenty fathoms or more before casting, and to his surprise the greater por- tion remained on the rail instead of slipping through his fingers. "Why, we're-we're on a shoal!" he stammered as he pulled in the cord until the weight could be felt. " There isn't much more than two fathoms out." A R UNAWA Y BRIG. 85 "An' as the brig don't draw less'n fourteen or fifteen feet, we can can count on your havin' slept pretty nigh through the whole watch!" Bob said sharply. Jim made no reply. Ile realized now that his eyes must have been closed many minutes instead of one, and was well aware that all which had hap- pened was the result of his own carelessness. " I'm in for it now," he whispered disconsolately to Walter. " Even if Bob don't use up a rope's end on my back I'll know that by goin' to sleep I've shut off our chances of gettin' home." "I must be just as much to blame as you," Wal- ter replied, in a trembling voice. " My business was to stand watch, anti the very first thing I did was to go to sleep." " But I had the helm, you see, an' oughter kept the sharpest lookout. I wish Bob would turn te an' give me the worst whalin' I ever got, 'cause it seems as if it might make me feel better." "Can't we get the brig off somehow " Waltor asked with a sob. "nSeein's how the crew's so slim it don't seem very likely, an' everybody will say I cast 'em away when we was sure of gettin' home." "They'll have to say the same of me," Walter added, as if this thought might give his companion some consolation. " Let's go an' have it out right away." "With clasped hands the two boys walked aft, fully expecting to receive a terrible punishment for A R UNA WA Y BRIG. their almost criminal carelessness; but no blows, however severe, could have caused as much pain as was already in their hearts. Time was too precious just then for the old sailor to spend any with the authors of this last trouble, even had he been so disposed. Matters in the en- gine-room required immediate attention, and Joe was ready to venture amid the scalding vapor once more; therefore he followed, to render all possible assistance. " Bend your head low, and keep this bit of waste over your mouth," the engineer said, thrusting a roll of cotton-threads in the sailor's hand as he went below. The engine-room was filled with steam, to breathe which would be severe agony, if not death; but neither of the brave fellows faltered. Bv keeping their faces covered as much as possible they were able to continue on, groping their way amid what would have seemed like a dense fog but for the in- tense heat, while the roaring of steam as it escaped gave warning of further disaster if precautionary measures were much longer delayed. Bob was unfamiliar with the interior of the tug; therefore it was necessary the engineer should lead the way, and after no slight trouble they succeeded in reaching the boiler from which the vapor was pouring in clouds. The most important work was to draw the fires, and by following Joe's example T'lob so far aided in this that five minutes later the glowing coals were 86 A R UNA WAY BRIG. in the ash-pan or strewn on the cement flooring im- mediately in front of the furnace door. Short though this time was, it seemed very long in such a place, and ten seconds after the task had been accomplished the two were leaning over the rail aft, drinking in long draughts of pure, cool air. When they had recovered from the effects of the heat sufficiently to pay attention to their surround- ings, it was possible to see where Jim's carelessness had brought the brig and tug. The steam had thinned down until it hardly obstructed their view, and at the same time day had been approaching so rapidly that near-by objects could be plainly dis- tinguished. The brig was on a level keel in the cove of a small island, or key, the low-lying land, which was cov- ered with luxuriant vegetation, hardly more than three hundred yards distant in either direction. Had Jim tried to steer her into this sheltered spot he could not have done it more exactly; and the fact that she would lie there without thumping, except when the wind blew from the east, was the only bit of comfort Bob could extract from the situation. The boys were on the Bonita's forecastle silently gazing at the odd foliage everywhere around, while Joe and the old sailor stood on the after deck of the tug, the latter saying, as he concluded a long survey of the scene: " It might be worse, for a fact; but I reckon both crafts will be tied up here till we're sick of lookin' at ma ngrove trees." 87 A R UNA WAY BRIG. "Where do you suppose we are " Joe asked. "This must be some part of the Bahamas. Look at the keys all around. There is but one other place anywhere near the spot we oughter be which shows up like it, an' that is the Florida reefs. We couldn't a' made them without siglhtin' Cuba or the Bahamas, consequently we must he further to the nor'ard." "Should wve be near any seaport " "Nassau is somewhere about; but it may be two or three hundred miles away, an' seein's how I can't take an observation, w-e wouldn't know whether it was north or south. Did you get burned very bad " "I thought so at first," Joe replied with a laugh; "but I guess it's only skin deep-more painful than serious." " You got out of it luckily; how can the engine be patched up again " "' If no more damage has been done than the blow ing out of a tube I will soon have it in working order." " We'll get something to eat, and then see what's to be done. Jim !" he added, raising his voice, " cook the best breakfast you know how, to make up for this mess you've brought us into." Master Libby, who had been expecting a sound rating at the very least, because of his carelessness, was so thoroughly surprised at the friendly tone that he lost no time in obeying this order, and, as a partial atonement for his misdeeds, prepared a meal which in quantity and variety would have been sufficient for twenty hungry men. A R UNA WA Y BIG. 8 The sorrow which all hands felt because of the disaster did not prevent them from doing full justice to the unskillfully prepared food, and the table had been relieved of a large portion of its burden before any attempt at conversation wvas made. "While you're seein' how much damage has been done to the tug, me an' the boys will get an anchor out aft so's the brig can't work further inshore." Bob said to the engineer. " If you can get up steaiii, an' the tug's afloat, it oughtn't take very long to pull us off this sand-bank." " So far as I know it's only a case of blowing out one of the tubes," Joe replied. "C Can it be fixed without much work " "Yes, by driving in a piece of soft wood to hold the steam; but of course it'll make no end of bother until it is repaired properly. For a job like pulling the Bonita off the mud a plug will be as serviceable as a new tube, which can't be had until we reach some port." "Then you're to find out exactly what's needed, an' after the brig is in deep water agin we can lay here a day or two to get things ship-shape. Per- haps some craft wvill come in sight, an' we'll be able to find out just where we are." " I'll let you know -" Joe stopped speaking suddenly as what sounded very like a human voice rang out on the still air, and in obedience to his gesture all listened intently until it was repeated. "Brig ahoy! ahoy !" 89 A R UNA WA Y BRIG. Bob actually looked alarmed. lIe had believed the key to be uninhabited, and, knowing there was no craft in sight when they came below, all his superstitious fears were aroused by the cry. Just for an instant he hesitated, as if not daring to go on deck, and then ran up the companion-ladder, closely followed by the remainder of the party. Surely there was nothing in that which met their gaze to cause alarm. On the shore stood three men, and when the old sailor made his appearance one of them repeated the hail. " Ahoy on shore," he replied. "Send a boat, will you Our craft went away leaving us here, and we've been cooped up on this island nearly a week." " It won't do much good for us to take you aboard. We're hard and fast aground." "Somethin' to eat is what we're wantin' pretty bad," the man on shore cried; and Bob said, as he turned to Joe: " I reckon we oughter go after 'em; but somehow I don't jes' believe -his yarn." "Why not" "'Cause there's no reason why an honest vessel would stop here long enough for her crew to go ashore; an' then, agin, they haven't got a, sailor cut about 'em." Having thus given words to his suspicions, Bob set about loxvering the Trade Wind's yawl with as much alacrity as if some one in sore distress stood in need of their services, and five minutes later he and Joe wvere rowing ashore. 90 A R UNATVA FBRG. The strangers stepped into the boat the instant her bow grated on the sand with the air of persons who are conferrinr rather than receiving a favor, and making no attempt to push the craft into deep water. "It's a sailor's rule for the last aboard to shove off," Bob said with just a shade of anger in his tone, an(l the man in the bow leaped ashore to perform that duty, after which the yawl was pulled toward the brig. The three boys w-ere standing at the rail forward watching all which occurred, but saying nothing until the boat was near enough to admit of their seeing the strangers clearly. Then ,Jiin whispered: " That's ws-hat I call a mighty harrd-lookin' crowd, an' I don't wonder Blob says, they haven't got the sailor cut. I wouldn't like to ineet either one of 'em alone in the (lark." Two of the three strangers appeared to be Ameri- cans, but of a (lisagreeablle type, while the third was uninistakably a Mexican; and it was this last upon whom Jin looked with tfie inost suspicion. There was no further opportunity for hini to criti- cise them, however, since the 1)oat was rapidly ap- proaching the brig, andl Bob hl(I already shouted: "Ileave that gangway-lad(ler over, an' then set about gettin' up aInothler b)reaikfast.' The first order was (quickly ol)eed(l, and ,Jim went into the galley to comply with time second as the new-comIers SteC)pe(l o0 board and( halted near the inainniast to gaze curiously arouln(1, as if taking a mental inventory of the brig's general condition. 91 A R UNA WA Y BRIG. CHIAPTER XI. THE STRANGERS. T HE NEW-CO-MERS were by no means pre- 1 possessing in appearance, and would hardly have inspired confidence even had their manners been more agreeable. lie who acte(l as spokesman for the party was a stout man with a very long b)ody and short, bowed legs, that caused him to roll to and fro like a ship in a gale when lhe walked. It was his nose which at- tracted the most attention, for it was not only the most prominent feature of a not remarkably pleasing- looking countenance, liut so enlarged and red at the end that one could well faney he had fastened a boiled beet to his face as a partial disguise. The other American was exactly the reverse in form and feature. lIe was tall and thin, with a sickly yellow complexion an(l a little snub nose which looked as if made of putty for a much smaller face-one that might hvtle been bought at auc- tion because it wvas cheap, if noses could ever be sold. The Aiexican would answver for a type of that class known as gre tsers," save for the fact that he had (liscarded his national costume in favor of a dirty pair of duck trousers and a blue flannel shirt. 92 A R UNA WAst n fRIGf. In the boys' eyes, at least, the three appeared more like hardened villains than honest sailors; and this opinion was strengthened rather than lessened when they were better known. Although Bob doubted the story they told, he had no proof that it was false; therefore he treated them as if believing every word, and as the first move toward ministering to their alleged necessi- ties had ordered Jim to prepare breakfast. As a matter of fact, the account which these men gave of themselves was such as could not well be questioned in the absence of evidence to the con- trary. They were a portion of the crew of a turtling- schooner hailing from Nassau; so the red-nosed man had sai(l during the short pull from the beach to the brig. Five lays previous their craft )ut into this cove, and(l they, with two others, came ashore to search for turtles. At this work they followed around the shore of the key until so far away that night caine on before the return journey could be mia he. The other two men had traveled in an opposite direction, consequently they were alone, but not at all disquieted at being forced to remain over night on the island, because in their business such inci- dents were of frequent occurrence. With never a thought of trouble they made themselves comfort- able in the thicket, returning to the cove as soon as possible after sunrise. To their great surprise the schooner was no longer 93 A 11 UNA WA Y P IRIG. there, nor could the other members of the crew be found. They had been deserted; but why, neither of the party could even so much as guess. The Bonita and the tugt were the first crafts the men had seen, and, quite naturally, they lost no time in hail- ing the crew. Jim was not an expert cook; therefore the work in the galley was done very slowly. It would have been nearly noon before the second meal could be served had not Harry and Walter assisted to the ex- tent of making the table ready, and afterward carrying the food below. Bob and Joe had gone about their task of ascer- taining the exact condition of the brig in order to form plans for floating her, and Jim was forced to announce breakfast when hisj culinary labors were ended. "You've been about it long enough to cook dinner for the President !" the man with the red nose said, ijn a surly tone. " If I was the skipper of this 'ere brig I'd find a way to make you more lively !" "Well, so long as you ain't the skipper, but only a sailor what says he's starvin' to death, s'posin' you buckle down to the grub that's cooked, so's I can get the cabin cleaned up !" Jim replied saucily; and before the wsords were hardly out of his mouth he received a blow on the side of his head which sent him reeling against the rail. Then, as if the uncalled-for punishment had been a kindly reward for services performned, the red-nosed man led the way below, followed by his companions, 94 A X UNA WA Y BRIG. wh o seemed to think that gentleman's method of treating their hosts was sonmething very comical. Jim was too much surprised to make any outcry. After looking around to learn if Bob had been a wit- ness of the injury lie retreated to the galley, sooth- ing his anger by shaking his fist in the direction of the cabin. "You jes' wait," he muttered, seating himself on an empty mess-kid where lie could nurse his sore face. "Y ou jes' wiait an' see if I don't fix the whole crowd! Talk about bein' sailors an' then cufmin' the cook when you're goin' to eat aft! I'11 bet not one of them villains knows how to reef a jib, an' before theyr leave this vessel P'11 show -what I can do." It is not p)robable that Jin had any very clear idea as to wvhat kind of l)unisllhment he would mete out to this man who had struck him without prov-o- cation; lbut lie l)elieved all opportuliity of avenging his wrongs would present itself in the near future, andl this thought had a wonderfully soothing effect. Harry an(l Walter, as attendants upon the guests, were treate(l with no more consideration than that shown Jin. When the men seated themselves at the table, both boys went toward the companion- way as if to go on deck; but the thin man cried gruffly: "Stay here, you young cubs! We may need somethin' more, an' in that case you're to bring it !" Just for an instant Harry glanced at Walter, as if questioning whether they should obey, and then, evidently concluding discretion was the better part 9,, A Rt 2VA WA Y PP. I0. of valor, he retreated to one corner of the cabin, where he would be ready to obey the commands of these strange guests. During the next ten minutes the men ate vora- ciously-not as if they had been on the verge of starvation, but like pigs; and at the end of that time he with the red nose asked, as he rested both elbows on the table and picked his teeth with a fork: "Where does this brig hail from " "I don't know," Walter replied, after waiting in vain for Harry to speak. "Don't know haven't you got sense enough to tell where you come from i" "W e belong in New York. While we were at the Isle of Shoals, Jim and Harry and I rowed out to the brig, and found her abandoned. Then the wind sprung up and she ran away with us." "Where did the old sailor come aboard," the man asked, after exchanging glances with his coIm- panions. Walter told him in the fewest possible words how Bob ha(l become a inember of the party, andl also in what condition the Sea Bir(d was when Joe linked his fortunes with theirs. ihow happened it that you run ashore here " the Mexican asked, and this question harry answered. "Then you've got no more right aboard this craft than we have," the first speaker said, "an' I reckon we'll stick by the ship. Do you know where there's any tobacco A" .A I UNA WA Y BRIG. "No, I haven't seen a piece except that which Bob has." " Then hunt for some. In a well-found craft like this there's sure to be plenty." " We don't know anything about it, and do not intend to look!" harry said decidedly, as he re- treated toward the companion-way, taking up his stand directly in front of Walter. " I'll have to give you a lesson, the same's I did the other fellow!" the red-nosed man cried in an angry tone. " Are you goin' to obey orders" "I'm willing to do any necessary work, but I don't intend to wait upon you !" and Harry tried very hard to prevent his voice from trembling. " That's jes' what you will do !" the man cried, as if beside himself with passion, and seizing a plate from the table he hurled it with better intent than aim directly at the boys, grasping another the instant the first had left his hands. The second he did not throw, however. As the crockery was shivered into fragments against the companion-ladder, passing within an inch of I-arry's head, Bob appeared at the hatchway. "What's goin' on in here h" le asked sternly. "Them boys were givin' us some of their impu- dence, an' I was showvin' 'eln the proper place aboard ship, that's all," the red-nosed man replied in a mild, friendly tone, as if he had simply been doing his host a favor. " Look here, my friend," and it could be plainly seen that Bob was trying hard to control his temper. A R UNA WA Y BRIG. " it won't be well for you to show any one on this craft what his place is. We took you aboard be- lievin' you were sailors an' starvin'; but we'll set the whole lot adrift mighty quick if I see any more of this kind of work." Then turning to the boys, he added, " Go on deck or stay here, as you choose; but don't play servant to a single person on the brig." " I allow you're lookin' at this matter wrong," the thin man said in a conciliatory tone, as Harry and Walter ascended the companion-ladder. " We haven't said or done anything out of the way. How was we to know but they was the reg'lar cabin- boys, an' when they insulted us jes' 'cause we'd lost our vessel an' luck was agin us, we only did what you would." As a matter of course, Bob was not absolutely certain but that there might be some truth in the man's statement, although from what he knew of Harry and Walter it did not seem probable; there- fore he said, with less show of anger: "We'll let the matter drop; but you must under- stand that the boys are to be treated as I am. The one who acts as cook has been to sea a little, and can stand harder work than the others, who were never on board a vessel before. Neither of 'em are to be bossed or scolded, for all do what they can willingly, an' I'm standin' right by 'em. Now that you've had somethin' to eat, an' ain't sufferin', what do you propose doin' " "You're short-handed, even if you had only the brio to look after; so wvlat's to hinder our wvorkin' a g8 A R UNA IVA Y BRIG. passage to sich port as you calculate on makin' " and the red-nosed man spoke very humbly. "We reckon on leavin' the tugr here," Bob replied gravely. " She's aground, an' what's worse, bunged up so bad that three weeks wouldn't be any too long for repairs. 'Cordin' to my figgerin' the brig can be floated reasonably easy; an' with Joe Taylor aboard I can run her to the main-land pretty nigh as quick as if we had more of a crew." " Do you mean that you don't care about takin' us along " the slim man asked. Bob hesitated an instant, hardly caring to say plainly that he had no desire for their company, and then he replied: "It ain't wholly as I say. Considerin' what has been done, an' that the Sea Bird was disabled through the carelessness of one of my party, Joe has got as much interest here as I, an' he'd have to agree." "Does he make any objection to helping us out of this hole if we're willing to do our full share of work " the Mexican asked. " I don't say he does, 'cause, you see, we haven't made any talk about sich a plan." "Then find out jes' what he's willin' to do ;" and the thin man spoke very earnestly. " We'll agree to obey orders like as if we'd signed articles, an' be- fore the brig reaches the coast you'll be mighty glad of our help." "Do Xou know what island this is " Bob asked as if desiring to change the conversation. 99 0A 1 UNA WAY BRII. " It's one of the Double-Breasted Keys," the thin man replied. "On the Bahama Bank " "Yes; pretty nigh the northern point of the shoal." " Then we're not more than three days' sail from Nassau " "About that; but you can't get in without a pilot, an' it ain't much further to some port in the United States. To this Bob made no reply, but turned as if to leave the cabin when the Mexican stopped him by asking: " Will you say whether we are to be given a pas- sage, or must we go ashore to starve " "I'll talk the matter over with Joe. If he's a-reed I won't say a word ag'in it, though I'd much rather take the brig in alone." And then Bob hur- ried up the companion-ladder, as if eager to escape from his guests. When the three men were alone their entire bear- ing chan'ed, and the one with a red nose said in a whisper, as he shook his fist threateningly in- the direction Bob had vanished: "We'll whine 'round only till the brig's afloat, an' then if 'we can't get away in her, leavin' that crowd behind, we deserve to stay !" " And when we do have a craft of our own we'll pay off some old scores to that meddlin' fool who broke up our little game in Nass-.u!" the thin man added. 100 A R UNA IrA Y BRIG. " It will be well if we do not show our hand too quickly," the Mexican said. " Without even so much as a revolver, we cannot hold possession in case they should decide to set us ashore." " What a coward you are!" And he with the red nose spoke in a tone of contempt. "There are only two of them, for the boys don't count, an' marlin'-spikes or belayin'-pins comes as cheap to us as any one else. If we w-anted to drive that crowd over the rail it wouldn't be very hard work, unless we two was the same chicken-hearted lubbers you are !" The Mexican turned upon his heel as if the con, versation was decidedly too personal; but he made no attempt to resent the insult, and the thin man said, in a soothing tone: "You're talkin' sense now, pardner; but we need them fellers worse'n they do us. The brig must be afloat before anything is done." " Of course she must. You don't think I'm sich a fool as not to think of them tricks. Leave me to boss the job, an' it won't be niany hours till we have everything our own way." Then the three men went on deck apparently the most honest sailors to be found on the sea; and from his place of refuge in the galley Jim watched them distrustfully. 101 A R UNA WA Y BRIG. CHAPTER XII. SIGNS OF TROUBLE. 1OB WAS decidedly disturbed by this desire of B the men to be taken from the key. If the story they told was true, he had every reason to ex- pect from the first that such would be their request; and yet, now that he began to discern their true character, it was with considerable surprise he learned that they wished to link their fortunes with his, at least to the extent of leaving the island. " I don't want sich as them around," he muttered as he left the cabin and went forward to where Joe was sitting in the shade of the jib with his chin in his hands, trying to devise some simple plan for pulling the brig into deep water. " There's no way it can be done except by setting the sheet anchor thirty or forty fathoms toward the mouth of the harbor and working down to it by sheer expenditure of muscle." " Never mind that just now," Bob replied gloom- ily, " for there's another question to be settled. What do you s'pose that crowd in the cabin want " "I reckon they're counting on our taking them away," Joe replied laughingly. "Most any fellow i2 A R UNA WA Y BRIG. who had been marooned on this key would like to leave." "But I don't believe their yarn about bein' left behind, unless they were up to some mischief an' the captain didn't know what else to do with 'em." " They ain't very pleasant-looking customers, for a fact; but yet they may be honest sailors." "I don't take any stock in it, or they'd never carry sail as they do. The red-nosed fellow was heavin' plates at Harry when I went below, an' they tried to make me believe the boy had been givin' 'em impudence. Now they promise to do full work if we'll take them with us." " And I reckon that's just about what you'll have to do, Bob. It would be cruel to leave them here; and, besides, we shall need the whole crowd before the Bonita can be floated. If I could repair the tug in any reasonable length of time, it would be an- other matter; but since that can't be done, on ac- count of the damage to the steam-chest, there's a good deal of heavy work ahead." " Then your advice is to tell 'em they can stay aboard," Bob said moodily. "I I don't see what else you can do, more espe- cially since it might be awkward if they should con- clude to remain whether we wanted them or not." Bob was silent several moments, and then he said impatiently: "I reckon you're right; but it goes mightily agin the grain to take sich cattle as them along. How- 103 A R UNA WVA Y BRIG. somever, 'what can't be cured must be endured;' but I'll have my weather-eye liftin' all the time, so they'd better keep out of mischief. The sooner we get an anchor over the better, an' I'll call 'em, so's they can give us a sample of their work." Ile was spared the labor of going below again, for just at that moment the three men came on deck, and at once made their way forward. " I hope you ain't goin' to refuse us a chance to give you a lift," the red-nosed man said in a whining tone; and Bob replied, without so much as looking at his guests: " Joe thinks we haven't got the right to say no; an', besides, we shall need a pretty big force to work the brig off the sand. S'posin' you take hold an' help us lay out an anchor astern " " All right! You boss the job an' we'll stand by for every pound of strength we've got." Since there was no possibility of using the tug, it would be necessary to set about the task as Joe had said, and Bob explained to the apparently willing workers exactly how it was to be performed. "We've got to lay out the sheet-anchor, backin' it if the holdin'-ground ain't good," he said, address- ing his conversation to the strangers, but looking directly at Joe. " She plumped on here pretty strong, I'll allow; but it wasn't more'n half-tide when we struck, an' she oughter be worked off in two or three floods. One of you get the boat around, an' I reckon it won't take very long to make ready for the job." 104 A I UNA WVA F BRIG. The yawl was staunch enough to stand up under the weight of the stream-anchor, and while the Mexican was pulling her to the port bow, Bob rove a tackle on the yard-arm by which to raise the heavy mass of metal. Seeing that some important work was in progress the three boys came to assist; but the old sailor quickly dispensed with their services. " Stay aft, lads. There's force enough here for this job, an' by 'tendin' to the grub I reckon you'll be doin' your full share." Neither of the boys objected to this plan. They had good reason to dislike the strangers, and were not desirous of coming in any closer contact with them than was absolutely necessary. By the aid of the tackle the five men soon had the anchor in the boat with a manilla hawser, one end of which was made fast to the winch, coiled on top. Then the red-nosed man and Bob pulled the yawl straight away from the brig's stern, while the Mlexi- can hove the fakes overboard as the distance was widened. This portion of the task was slow and wearisome, for the weight of the hawser caused the boat to hang despite the vigorous efforts at the oars; but the desired position was finally gained, and after a great deal of tugging and straining the an- chor was dropped. Joe had two or three turns of the cable around the winch, and all hands beg-an heaving on the bars until the stout rope was fairly taut, after which a I 05 , I Ri A WAY Y ,BIG. sloper was put to it, and the laborers sat down in the shade for a breathing sp)ell. The work was now completed until the tide should rise; and then, if the brig could not be pulled off, it would be necessary to break out some of the cargo in order to lighten her. The most captious could have found no fault with the new members of the crew while this portion of the task was being performed. They pulled and hauled with a will, making no effort to shirk any particularly severe (luty, an(1 striving, earnestly to finish the job in the least possible space of tine. When the heavy anchor was lai(l-out astern Joe congratulated himself on this adl(lition to their nun- ber, and said to Bob, as they were stretche(l out on the deck while the strangers had gone toward the scuttle-butt: "It seems as if our taking them aboard wvas a big piece of luck. I'll admit that they are not over an(1 above pleasant-looking; but think of the difference in the work. With no one but tlie boys to hel) us, you an(l I would have been all day setting the anchor. Nowv wve've got a good ctrew of five, and there's no question about our being able to sail the i)rig. "Y You're right, Joe," Bob sai(l thoughtfully; " an' I s'pose I'm a reg'lar ol01 woman. The way they acted at first riled me so much that I coul(lht sl( any goo(l in 'em; but we'd be in a inighty tight place, no\ the tug is (lisabiled, if they wvasni't here." Thent the I(tw discussed matters relative to haul- M6) A IRt NA I A I Y BRIG. ing the brig from her bed of sand, and gave no heed to the strangers, who were amidships conversing in low tones, as if fearful of being overheard. Their consultation was evidently satisfactory to all concerned, for the red-nosed man said, as the question under discussion was brought to a close: "She'll come away in a couple of tides at the longest. As near as I can make out she only hangs from the waist up, and if the anchor holds, five of us ought to yank her off without much trouble. We must be ready to carry out our plans at a moment's notice." Then the men separated to walk about the after part of the brig in an apparently aimless manner; but all three met in the cabin a few moments later, much to the discomfort of Walter, who was clearing off the table and putting things to rights generally. It seemed as if the strangers had not counted on finding any one below, for they looked at each other questioningly a moment, and then the thin man asked: "Why don't you go into the galley, where you b)elono " "Because it's my turn to clear up the cabin," Wal- ter replied as he continued his work. "1Harry is washing the dishes and Jim's cooking dinner." The boy had no fear of violence since Bob inter- rupted the scene at the breakfast-table; and, be- sides, he was engaged in necessary work; therefore after answering the question he )aid no further at- tention to the men, save that he noticed the Mex- 107 A X UNA WA Y BRIG. ican walking to and fro, peeping into such of the state-rooms as were open. "Well, you needn't stay any longer," the thin man said gruffly. "If you're goin' to live aboard ship the first thing to learn is that you've got no business aft, when any one else is here, except while waiting on the table." "I can't go till the work is done," Walter re- plied innocently, as he continued the task with no change of manner save to move more quickly. "What do you mean by answering in that man- ner" the re(l-nosed man asked angrily as he seized the boy by the collar and dragged him toward the companion-way. " If you don't know your place it's time somebody gave you a few lessons." Walter was both surprised and alarmed by this sudden attack. It had not occurred to him that he was doing anything wrong by remaining; but the grip on his neck was so strong, and seemingly vi- cious, that it was certain some terrible punishment would follow, and lie screamed loudly for Harry. Up to this moment it is hardly probable that the man had any idea of doing more than eject him from the cabin, because he did not wish to arouse Bobls anger algail; but WValter's screams made him. furious, anf( lie boxed the boy's ears half a dozen times with no gentle force. Matters were in this condition when the other bovs came running aft, and one glance was sufficient to call forth all their anger. "Ili ! Bob !" Jim. yelled, and Harry rushed boldly into the cabin as he cried: 108 A R UNA WA Y B RIG . " If you touch him again I'll knock you down !" Having been summoned from his labors so sud- denly, he had not stopped even to lay aside the coffee-pot he was cleaning, and this now served as a weapon. Raising it above his head he ran forward to strike Walter's assailant; but be had hardly taken half a dozen steps when a blow from the red- nosed man felled him senseless to the floor. Quickly as all this happened, Bob answered Jim's shrill appeal before another move could be made, and Harry had but just fallen when the old sailor leaped below. "What mischief are you scoundrels up to now" he cried angrily as he assumed a position of defense after pulling Walter from the man's grasp. " It seems to me you're playin' a pretty high hand for sailors vho have been saved from starvin'" " So far we've minded our own business and done all the work we could," he with the red nose said firmly; "but because you've helped us off the key there's no reason why we should take all the airs these cubs choose to put on. After you've heard their story an' cooled down a bit we'll talk with you, but not before !" Then with a swagger which was probably in- tended as a show of dignity the milan went on deck, followed by his companions, just as Joe came below to see if his services were required. 10 A R UNA WA Y BRIG. CHAPTER XIII. DEFIANCE. IT WAS some moments before the little party could discuss the apparently serious turn which affairs had taken, for Harry remained as he had fallen, and all their thoughts were centered on re- storing him to consciousness. A vigorous application of cold water soon had the desired effect, however, and in ten minutes after the self-invited guests went on deck he was apparently as well as ever, save for a big red lump under his left ear. " Do you feel all right, now " Bob asked as the boy recovered from the bewilderment caused by the I)low and began hunting for the coffee-pot, which had rolled under one of the lockers. "My ear aches pretty bad; but the rest of my body is sound enough, though it's hard to tell how long we fellers will be able to keep on our feet if those starvingr sailors stay aboard." "They'll go ashore mighty quick if this kind of work is kept up. Tell us what you did that started 'em " "I don't know anything about it." And IHarry rubbed his sore ear gently to soothe the pain. " Jim 110 A R UNA WA Y IRIG. an(l I came when Walter screamed, and saw the red-nosed fellow pounding him. I was going to take his part with the coffee-pot, but before there was time to strike a blow one of them knocked me down." Then Walter gave a truthful account of all that had been said and done in the cabin, and Bob thought over the matter in silence several moments before speaking. " It looks as if they wanted to know what there is below here," he finally said half to himself. " I mistrusted them from the minute they got into the yawl without takin' the trouble to shove her bow off, an' if I ain't inistaken there'll be mischief done before this 'ere brig reaches p)ort !" "I suppose they think we can't get along without them-which comes pretty near being a fact-and so feel at liberty to ride a high horse," Joe sug- gested. "They shall soon know that we'll lay aground all summer rather than let sich a crowd of sharks bully us!" Bob cried angrily. "Come out with me, Joe, an' we'll settle this matter one way or the other mighty quick !" "K eel) your temper somewhere within sound- ings," the engineer said soothingly, " for they're three against twro, and if it should come to a fight we might get worsted." "If I ain't a match for three sich lubbers as them I'll soaki mi head in the harness-cask." And with this proinise, which savored strongly of boasting, ill A R UNA WA Y BRIG. the old sailor went on deck, Joe joining him as he walked forward. The strangers were lounging near the forecastle, apparently indifferent to the disturbance which had been made in the cabin. When Bob came on deck they glanced toward him as if there was no cause for angry thoughts, and then resumed their conver- sation. " Don't be hasty, now !" Joe whispered. " Talk the matter over calmly, to make sure Walter told the whole truth, and try to find out what they mean to do, before you threaten." Bob shook his head as if the advice was distaste- ful; but he followed it, nevertheless. Advancing until he stood opposite the men, he asked in a tone which to make sound calm required considerable effort: " Will you explain what caused the trouble in the cabin just now" " I told one of them cubs to get out-they've got no right below-an' he yelled blue murder when I took hold of his coat to make him obey orders. That brought one of the others, who tried to hit me with a coffee-pot," the red-nosed stranger said with- out hesitation. " That's about all there is to it. We did jes' as you or your friend would do when a boy aboard ship was impudent." " Now see here," and it could be plainly perceived that Bob was struggling to keep his temper within bounds, "them lads are here bv accident, an' two of 'em don't know what work is, yet they turn to like 112 A R UNAA IVA BRIG. little men. I consider that they've got the same rights on this craft as I have, an' the man who tries to make 'em obey foolish orders is bound to have considerable trouble with me!" "There won't be any roNv if they stay in their place an' do a full share of the work," the red-nosed gentleman said very decidedly. "It ain't for you to say what their place or work is !" and now Bob's temper was gaining the ascend- ancy. " That's a matter of opinion," the man said in an offensive tone. "MAle an' my mates reckon we've got jes' as much to say on this 'ere brig as you have. In the first place she was abandoned by her proper crews; the cubs were carried off in her, an' you jes' the same as drifted aboard. All vou've done toward savin' her has been to run on this shoal. The tug's rightful engineer is in charge, so we've got nothin' to say about her; but we're calculatin' on stickin' to what's as much ours as yours !" If Bob had been alone it is most probable he would have struck the speaker, and thus precipitate(1 a fight, which very likely was just what the strangers desired; but Joe held him back as he said, in a lowv tone: "Keep your temper, old man; this is no time for a row. Wait awhile." "I'll soon show how much right I've got here !" he cried angrily, struggling to release himself from Joe's detaining grasp, and paying no attention to the wise advice. 113 A R UNA WA Y BRIG. "You couldn't do better than begin now," the red-nosed man said sneeringly as he and his com- panions put themselves in an attitude of defence. " Talk is cheap when a man hasn't got the nerve to back it up !" "Have some sense about you," Joe whispered angrily. " Can't you see that a row is just what they want " Fortunately for all save the strangers, Bob realized the truth of this remark, and instead of rushing blindly forward to what would have been certain defeat, he stepped back a few paces to the foremast where he could reach a belaying-pin in case weapons became necessary, and Joe continued the conversation by saying: "This talk about your rights is all bosh. I was in charge of the tug, and picked up this vessel, tow- ing her in here. Any court would recognize my claim as a just one. You wouldn't have a leg to stand on if it came to legal rights, for both crafts had a crew on board, and nob)o(ly asked for assist- ance. We propose to bold our ground, and before roceeding to extremities alloe you ten minutes in which to leave this brig. If you go peaceably we will give you one of the Sea Bird's boats and a reasonable supply of provisions; but in case force is necessary, it may be a matter of swimmning ashore !" "A reg'lar sea-lawyer, eh" the red-nosed man said with a contemptuous laugh, in which his com- lpanions joined. " We've told you our ideas on the subject, an' if so be that they don't jes' agree with 11 4 A R UNA WA Y B RTG. yours, then I s'pose wMell have to be put ashore- providin' it can be done without too much harm to them as tackles the job !" This speech afforded the strangers no slight amount of amusement, and as they laughed boister- ously Bob seized a belaying-pin with the evident intention of deciding the question at once. "Be careful," Joe whispered. " Can't you see that they've got the capstan-bars ready for use We should be knocked over like nine-pins before it would be possible to strike a blow. There may be some fire-arms aft, and if we get hold of them first all the advantage will be on our side." Bob had turned to follow the very sensible advice when the red-nosed man shouted, this time in a threatening tone: " Seein's how you've laid down the law for us, I reckon we'd better give you a dose. I don't say you've got to go ashore whether or no, for it's our way to let everybody have a chance. If you're willin' to say that we're on the same footin' as you, share an' share alike, there'll be no trouble. In case you don't look at it in that light, then somebody must take to the island; but it won't be any of us!" "Don't answer him," Joe said, as he literally pushed Bob aft. " They reckon on settlin' matters by a fight now, when they've got the best of it, an' we must be careful not to do anything foolish." The old sailor walked swiftly awvay, as if fearing to trust himself too long within sound of that mock- ing voice, and Joe kept close behind him until they 115 A R UNA WVA Y BRIG. were in the cabin, where the boys had remained until the result of the revolt should be determined. "Sit in the companion-way where you can keep your eye on those men, and sing out if they make any move toward coming aft," Joe said to Jim; and the latter obeyed at once by taking up his position where everything forward of the mainmast came within his range of vision. Bob's rage was so great that his only desire just now was to enforce authority, and he lost no time before beginning the search for weapons. From one state-room to another he went, looking into sea- chests, overhauling boxes, and upsetting drawers; but nothing more deadly than a sail-needle met his eager gaze. As a matter of course, there must have been fire-arms on board the brig when she left port; but those who abandoned her had taken everything of the kind with them. " I can't find so much as a sheath-knife," he said, coming into the saloon where Joe stood revolving this very serious turn of affairs in his mind. "We shall have to trust our fists and anything in the way of a club that can be picked up, for I'm not goin' to let another hour go by without showin' them villains that we intend to hold possession of this craft." "But we mustn't act until we've formed some plan," Joe replied. " Tell me just what you propose doing, and I'll stand by till the last." "I'm going to drive them over the side !" Bob cried, passionately. " Just now they are stronger than our crowd, and it may be a question as to who goes first." 11G A R UNAWAY Y BRIG. 117 Joe spoke in a matter-of-fact tone; but it could be seen that he was laboring under no less excite- ment than the sailor; and the latter, beginning to realize the weakness of their position, asked hoarsely: "What do you think we ought to do " 'Wait awhile till. we see how they're going to act ;" and then the engineer ascended the com panion- ladder to ascertain the condition of affairs forward. A 1R AUNUA WA Y BRIG. CHAPTER XIV. A BARGAIN. IT SURELY seemed as if those who had been carried away by the Bonita were to have their cup of trouble filled to the brim. Running ashore on a pleasant night when there was every reason to believe they were near a home port was looked upon as a great disaster at the time; but now it dwindled into a trifle before the dangers which menaced. There could no longer be a question but that the strangers were ripe for any mischief, even at the expense of a drawn battle, aird Joe was inclined to believe they might vanquish his party. "They're hard tickets, and were most likely marooned here because of their misdeeds," he mut- tered to himself as he lounged on deck to ascer- tain if the enemy had made any change of position. "It'll take some mighty neat work to get us out of this scrape, for we can't risk a fight, and it's a ques- tion whether Bob can be held in check." The men yet remained foreyard, where, in the shadow of the forecastle, they could have the bene- fit of the light land breeze, and were apparently in- different as to what move the rightful crew of the brig might make. 118 A R UNA WA Y B RIGS. Joe stlood on the quarter-deck nearly half an hour trying in vain to decide upon some plan which would at least promise success, and then he went below, looking, as in fact he felt, his lack of hope in the final result. " It's pretty near high water," he said to Bob,who was making one more search of the cabin with the idea that it might yet be possible to find weapons, "and the question is, are w-e going to lose this tide without making an effort to launch the brig " "What can we do" the old sailor asked impa- tiently. " It don't stand to reason that them vil- lains would be any more decent if she was afloat than they are now!" "And before many days there'll come an easterly wind which will drive her up on the sand beyond all chance of ever being launched again !" "That's jes' what is makin' me almost wild !" Bob cried as he turned and faced the engineer. "She oughter be floated between now an' to-morrow night; but it can't be done !" " Why not " Joe asked calmly. " I've been turn- ing matters over in my mind, and don't see the slightest chance of ever being able to drive those men ashore. Wouldn't it be better to join forces rather than lose the brig entirely and be dependent upon sighting some vessel to take us off the key " The old sailor looked up as if astonished that such a proposition should be made; but before the angry reply, which was trembling on his lips, could be spoken, Joe said gently: 119 A 1 UNA WA Y BRIG. "TThink the whole matter over before you say anything, and take plenty of time, for we don't want to make another mistake." Bob looked at the speaker angrily for a moment, and then seating himself at the table with his head in his hands, he remained silent so long that the boys, who were watching him intently, believed he bad fallen asleep. "W What's your plan " he finally asked. "It isn't what can be called a plan, but, accord- ing, to my way of thinking, the only course left for us to pursue. We've got to make some kind of a trade with those villains in order to get away from this place, and the sooner it's done the better." " Go out an' see what they'll agree to !" Bob said hoarsely. " I'll stand by any bargain you think half- fair." Joe did not wait for further conversation. He was eager to take advantage of the tide, and no time was to be lost. "Look here, Jim," the old sailor said, when the engineer had left the cabin, "if Joe makes a trade with them scoundrels, as I reckon he will, some- thing must be done to prevent you boys from bein' kicked 'roundl, for we can't have a fight every hour. While the brig is aground you'd best stay on board the tug, so's to be out of the way. When the grub is ready shove it on the table, an' then all three clear out, leavin' us to wait on ourselves. That'll ease things up a little." While Bob was thus planning to save the boys 1 '!0 A R UNA WA Y BRIG. from brutal treatment, Joe had lost no time ill fin- ishing his very disagreeabie task. When he went forward the men did not pay the slightest attention to his movements, but continued their conversation as if whatever lie might (lo w-as no concern of theirs. It was not until he halted directly in front of the party that the red-nosed man so much as raised his eyes. " See here," Joe began, as if to speak was dis- tasteful; "we've got to come to some agreement, for splitting-up now, when the brig's aground, isn't much better than child's play." " That's my idee, to a dot !" he of the red nose replied with a leer; "but it ain't us what's makin' the row! We've got rights, no matter if you did bring us aboard; an' what's more, we're goin' to have 'em !" "We won't discuss that part of it," Joe said curtly. " You know as well as I do that if there'd been two or three more in our party you wouldn't have said a word about rights; but since it's your intention to take unfair advantage of those who tried to relieve suffering, we'll let the matter drop. None of us will gain anything if the brig goes to pieces, and it's for the interest of all hands to have her launched; therefore I've come to make a bar- gain." "Well, out with it!" the man said coarsely, as Joe ceased speaking. " I propose that we turn to, as if nothing had happened, each one swearing to do his utmost to- 121 A R UNA WA Y BRIG. ward carrying the brig to the nearest American port, and there the whole matter can, as indeed it must, be submitted to the court for settlement. On your part you agree not to molest the boys in any way, and they are to do nothing but the cooking. We will recognize what I think are your unjust claims until the case is legally settled. No property is to be taken from the vessel, and, so far as pos- sible, everything must remain as we found it." " An' it has taken you all this time to fix up that agreement, eh " the man asked, with a boisterous laugh. " I don't see but it amounts to jes' what wve wanted at first. Look here, Mister Engineer, you an' Bob have got an idee that we ain't on the square, an' it's a big mistake. When we found you needed our help to work the brig into port, an' couldn't do it alone, we said it was only fair play for us to share in whatever salvage might be made. Now we'll agree to your bargain, 'cause it's nothin' more nor less than what I proposed, an' the sooner we get to work on that hawser the better, 'cause it's about flood-tide." Joe realized this fact fully, and he went quickly aft for Bob, explaining to him in the fewest possible words the result of his interview. " I hate to knuckle down to them scoundrels; but I s'pose it can't be helped," the old sailor said as he arose to his feet. " Keel) out of the way, boys, so there won't be any chance for more abuse." To have seen the party five minutes after Bob went forward, one would not fancy there had been 122 A R UNA IVA Y BR 12 3 any hard feelings among them. The strangers set about the work with a will, recognizing the old sailor as being in command, and with apparently no other thought than such as wvas for the benefit of all. The tide had ceased rising, it being that time known as " slack water," when the capstan-bars -were brought into use, and every member of the party exerted all his strength in the effort. Once, twice, three times the men leaped against the stout bars without making any perceptible change in the brig's position, and Joe began to fancy it would have been as well if he had not humbled himself by making a trade with the strangers. " Buckle down to it once more," Bob shouted. "It lacked almost an hour of bein' high water when she struck, an' there can't be so very much sand under her bov. Break down once more!" No one hung back. The red-nosed man appeared to have the strength of a giant, anti as he hove at the handles it seemed as if the wood or iron mIiust surely give way under the enormous strain." " Grind her down !" he yelled, and when one more determined effort had been made there was a decided movement. The bars were started fully a quarter of a turn, and Bob shouted: "Now's the time, my hearties! Heave around once, an' we're clear of this blessed key !" Then every man hove down on the bars as the Mexican held turn, and inch by inch the heavy hawser came inboard until the winch revolved readily as the Bonita glided out into deeper wvater, 123 A R UNA WA Y BRIG. until she lay clear of the shoal, swinging to the grip of the cable over her stern. "Hurrah !" Bob shouted, and the others joined in the cheers, causing the boys to come from the galley to learn the reason for such an uproar. "' It's a matter of gettin' that anchor home, an' then when the wind springs up aglin we can leave this sand-heap behind us," the red-nosed man said in a tone of satisfaction, as he wiped the perspirn- tion frcm his face before following the example of the others, who had flung themselves at full length in the shadow of the forecastle. " What about the Sea Bird, Bob " Joe asked when he had regained his breath sufficiently to talk. "I hate to leave the little craft to the mercy of wind and wave." "Why don't you swing this hawser right aboard of her" the red-nosed man proposed. "The own- ers may think she's worth comin' after, an' she'll lay here comfortable enough, unless it blows a full gale from the east." The tug was still made fast to the brig, having came off the shoal at the same time, and, save for the huge patch of canvas over her bow, looking as staunch as when first launched. "That's just what we will do; an' it'll save heavin' up the heavy anchor !" Joe cried. " The Bonita can lay alongside as well as if she was moored, and it won't take us so long to get under way when the wind does come." As soon as the party had recovered somewhat 124 A UNAWTVA rDB . 12-5 from the fatigue of straining at the winch, the hawser was shifted to the forward bitt on the Sea Bird, and both crafts gradually swung around until they were headed for the open sea. "We'll have a breeze before morning," the thin man remarked, " for one has sprung up every night since we landed, an' it's safe to calculate on leavin' about midnight." "After we've had somethin' to eat we'll make really for it," Bob said as lie wvent toward the galley, for it wvas fullv an hour past noon and the appetites of all were decidedly sharpened. The amateur cook had everything ready, and the three bovs carried the food below without being molested by those wl hom. they quite naturally looked Upon as ellemie.s. A R UNA WVA Y BRIG. CHAPTER XV. AN UNWARRANTED SEARCH. B OB GAVE an expressive look to the boys when B the repast had been placed on the table, and ail three understood that he meant for them to leave the cabin rather than run any chance of another en- counter with the men. A quarrel just now, however trivial the cause, might lead to very serioeis consequences, because the guests were unscrupulous and stronger than the Bonita's crew; therefore this precaution of the old sailor's was a wise one. Jim and Harry not only realized the fact, but they were more than eager to be beyond the reach of these quarrelsome strangers, -whose, blows were bestowed without provocation, and they wvent into tile galley, closely followed by Walter. "'ve sailed along of some pretty tough custom- ers," Jim said with the air of one who has had many and varied experiences, as he seated himself on an empty keg just outside the galley door, "but I never run across anybody like them duffers. They're worse'n old Mose Pearson, an' folks used to say lie -was the ugliest skipper that ever hove a mackerel-line." 1 26, A R UNA WA Y BRI.. " They act as if the brig belonged to them, and we were the ones who had been taken off the key," Harry said bitterly. " I wish Bob never'd allowed them aboard !" "So do J !" And Jim spoke very emphatically. "There'll be a heap of trouble before we get rid of that crowd, or else I don't know anything about sich fellers. If they put on many more airs us three will have to sleep aboard of the tug, where we won't run the risk of bein' knocked down." "We can stand a good deal if they help us get the brig into port," Walter said with a sigh. "I'm willing to be thumped every day for a week if I can get home once more." "M -ost any of us would ;" and Jim again put on his air of exceeding wisdom; "but the trouble is we can't count on goin' where we want to while they are aboard. I wouldn't be much 'stonished to hear that red-nosed man order all hands, 'cept his own crowdl, ashore any minute. I'll be satisfied if, when the next fight comes, Bob hits him one crack lhard enough to send more'n a thousand stars dancin' before his eyes. A good thump is the only thing thmat'll ilake him walk straight !" The others would have been equally delighted at such a lesson; but there was not time to say so, for just at this moment Joe called for coffee, and Harry ran below with a fresh supply, after which the boys set about cleaning up the galley preparatory to getting their own dinner. In the cabin, matters were progressing so favor- 127 ]A 1N Vl NA;A Y AYR IC. ably that a stranger would hardly have supposed the party had been upon the verge of an open rupturv but a few hours previous. The thin man was par- ticularly affable, and seemed to be thinking of no other subject save that of sailing the brig to the nearest American port in the shortest space of time. "If you're no navigator, bow do you calculate it'li be possible to make the trip8" he asked of Bob, during the course of the meal. "It'll have to be done by dead reckonin', of course," the old sailor replied in as near an approach to a friendly tone as he could command, for the recent trouble was yet too fresh in mind to admit of his feeling thoroughly at ease. " It don't matter what port we make, an' as it's all plain sailin' after we're clear of the bank, the job oughter be done without much trouble." " The most important question is, When can we start " the Mexican said with an odd laugh. "I've had so much of this key lately that I'd like to see it a dozen miles astern just now." " I fancy we're all of the same mind," said Joe, who seemned to think it necessary he shotld say some- thing, if only to show lie harbored no resentment. WXre shian't have long to wait, I hope." By this time the engineer and Bob had finished the meal, while the others seemned to have hardly begun. It was as if they had some purpose in re- maining a long time at the table; but yet one could not have seen in their manner anything to arouse suspicion. I .,R A RlU/NiA 1'f'1 F RRl(. The old sailor and Joe arose from the table and went up the companion-way ladder as the former said: "It's too hot to stay below any longer than a feller is obliged to, an' I reckon you can get on as well without us." The thin man replied that there was no reason whv one should suffer discomfort because others were slow, and by the time he had finished speaking Bob and Joe were on deck, looking with satisfaction at the result of their labors. " We shan't be hanging round the Bahama banks much longer, my hearty," the old sailor said glee- fully. "Now that the brig has deep water under her keel once more, it's only a question of wind." "I don't suppose it would pay to hang on here until the tug could be repaired" Joe added half inquiringly, as he went forward where the shadow of the forecastle afforded a most refreshing shel- ter. "Indeed it wouldn't," and Bob spoke very de- cidedly. " In the first place we must get this craft off our hands without loss of time; an' then, a'in, the sooner we've said good-by to them new shipmates the safer I'll feel. They ain't to be trusted any further'n you can see 'em; but we've got to mess with the crowd till the brig's in port." Joe looked toward the steamer wistfully . lie had suffered so many hardships and be en exposed to such great danger in her that it would be almost like parting with an old friend to leave the little 129 A R UlNAWAYIBRIG. craft to rot at her moorings, or be blown ashore when the next gale should come from the east. While these two were cheering themselves with the belief that in a few hours at the longest the brig would be under way again, those in the cabin were proceeding to make themselves thoroughly at home. Bob and Joe had no sooner gone on deck than the red-nosed man said, in a whisper: " Now, Dave, you stay here, where it'll be easy to see if any of them fools come this way, an' I'll make quick work of the search. If the brig's papers are to be found we shall run no risk in taking her any- where, an' we'll soon set ourselves up for gentlemen." " Unless somebody overhauls us for that little job down in the channel," the thin man added gloomily. "Don't be a fool !" was the savage reply. " How is any one to know we had a finger in that pie Even if it should come out, we won't be in this part of the world much longer. We can put in to Key West, hire a full crew, and an hour afterwards sail for any port we like best. Come on, Pedro." The Mexican had already risen from the table, and was noiselessly making his way aft to the room on the starboard side which would naturally have been occupied by the Bonita's rightful captain. The red-nosed man made haste to overtake him, as if doubtful of his friend's honesty, and the two entered the apartment at the same moment. Up to this time no one had( disturbed the watch which hung at the head of the berth. The boys 130O A R UNA WA Y BRIG. and Bob believed that every article on board should be delivered up to the authorities; but these men had no such scruples. He with the red nose clutched it eagerly, almost overturning the other in his efforts to reach the time-piece first, and against this confiscation the Mexican protested angrily. ";Don't be a fool! I've only taken charge of it for all hands. We're to whack up fair on every- thing !" "Then why didn't you let it hang on the wall " "Because that fool of a Bob niight have stowed it away before we've had a chance to take posses- sion. Now-, don't stop to chin, but help me hunt over these papers." The Mexican looked much as if he distrusted the softly-spoken words; but lie made no further pro- test, and together the trio men began to overhaul the contents of the desk. To find that for which they sought was not a dif- ficult task. It was only necessary to examine half a dozen papers before the documents were discov- ered, and the red-nosed man said grimly, as he put them in his pocket: "I reckon we've got things pretty near as we want 'em. We're the masters now, an' there'll be mighty little talk made about rights. Come along; if we're not on deck soon them Miss Nancys may sus- pect somethin', an' we want to keep their eyes closed two or three hours longer." "But ain't we goin' to search the other rooms " A RUNAWAY PRIG. "What's the use There'll be plenty of time to- morrow, when we're alone." The worthy Pedro was not content to wait. The loss of the watch, for he seemed to consider it such, troubled him, and he was eager to put something in his own pocket. When he who was evidently the leader of the party walked toward Dave to acquaint him with the pleasing fact that the search had been success- ful, Pedro darted from one room to another, and the studs and sleeve-buttons, which the boys had noted, did not escape his eager gaze. "These shall not be taken charge of for all hands," lie whispered half to hiniself, and the articles had but just been secreted when Dave came to the door. "Do you want to spoil everything by loafin' 'round here" he asked angrily. "These kind of chances don't come every day, an' if our plans are upset owin' to such nonsense I'll split you like a mackerel with your own knife !" That the Mexican was a rank coward could be told by the pallor which came over his yellow face as these words were spoken, and with a muttered but inaudible reply he followed Dave to the com- panion-way ladder. "Now what are we to do" the thin man asked when the three were ready to go on deck; and the leader of the villains replied readily: "rNotbin' yet awhile. Some chance will turn up before we're under way; but if it don't, the matter 132 A R UNA WVA Y BRIG. 1.33 must be settled at night while they're below. It won't be a hard job, for they can't stay on deck to- gether all the time, and when the crowd is separated it'll be like child's play. Don't act as if anything was in the wind, but be sweet as molasses till the flies are where we wan't 'em !" Then the three men ascended the ladder, and from the benign expression on their faces the most suspicious would hardly have fancied they had been plotting to murder those who befriended them in a time of need. A Bt UTNA WVA YBRIG. CHAPTERP XVI. TRICKED). W5 IHEN the conspirators came on deck, and be- V Vfore they finished smoking, the boys cleane(l the cabin, ate their own dinner in the galley, and were at liberty to remain idle until it should be time to prepare supper. After the heat of the day had passed Bob pro- posed that all the brig's lower sails should be set; adding, in conclusion: "'Cordin' to my way of thinkin', there's goin' to be a decent kind of a breeze about sunset, an' if we're ready for it jes' so much time will be saved in leavin' this place." The three strangers appeared even more eager than he to see the brig under canvas once more, and all hands turned to with a will, pulling, hoisting, and sheeting home as if the wvind which was to waft them toward the United States had already begun to blow. By the time this work was (lone there could no longer be any question b1ut that a generous breeze from the south was near at hand. Thin, filmny clouds formed in the sky, while every now and then 134 A R UNA WA Y BRIG. the heated air would be set in motion slightly, as a token of what might be expected. "There's no doubt now but that we'll be under way by sunset," Joe said, as he stood on the quarter- deck where the boys had taken refuge from the heat, " and it would be a good idea for me to be bringing my dunnage out of the tug, since it ain't likely I'll ever see the little craft again." "Ain't you goin' to try and save anything else " Jim asked. " There isn't much that we can take. Suppose all hands go aboard and see if there's anything belong- ing to the crew that'll pay for carrying away " The boys accepted the invitation readily, for they did not care to move about the deck of the brig very much lest they came in contact with the red- nosed man and his friends, and all four went into the tiny after-cabin of the Sea Bird, where Joe at once began his work of investigation. There were four chests here in addition to the one owned by Joe, and these were broken open without ceremony, for the engineer did not intend to burden himself with anything that might not be of consid- erable value to the owners. " We'll unpack 'em, and then put the things back carefully, in case the little craft is carried home again," he said, going to work systematically, whim the boys watched him. with mild curiosity. There was no apparent necessity for haste .iere- fore Joe set about his task leisurely because of the intense heat, which made the slightest exertion 135 A I UNA WAY YBJfG. almost painful, and but two of the chests had been overhauled when Bob came below to learn what was going on. "Gettin' ready to leave, eh " he asked, after looking at the perspiring engineer in silence several moments. "W Well, it's time; for unless I've made a big mistake in them light clouds we'll start from here mighty soon." "If we were going alone I'd feel tiptop," Joe said, as he paused for an instant in his work; " but as it is, I'm afraid we'll have trouble with that crowd before the United States coast heaves in sight, even if they do talk so fair just now." 1c We mnust keep our weather-eyes liftin' every minute, an' at the first sign of a row pitch in so's to take 'etn unawares ;" and Bob stretched himself out on the port locker as if determined to enjoy all possible comfort before the serious work of sailing the brig without an experienced navigator was begun. "I wouldn't hesitate to give 'em the slip by leavin' the whole crowd here; but there's no chance of their goin' ashore after the wind rises." " No," Joe replied, with a long-drawn sigh, " we shall have to grin an' bear it, I reckon; but _" Ile ceased speaking very suddenly, for just at that moment a footstep was heard on the steamer's t ek, and an instant later the unpleasant-looking Iat -)f the man with the red nose appeared at the col Ianon-way. iscott a got outer sight so quick that I thought p'rhaps yo, I gone overboard," he said with a leer, 1.3G A 1 UNA WIA Y BRIG. glancing inquisitively around the cabin, but mlaking no motion to descend. " Joe is overhaulin' this dunnage, to see if there's anything worth carryin' back to the States," Bob re- plied carelessly, as the engineer continued his work in silence. The man lowered his head as if to see the interior more plainly, and, unperceived by any one in the little apartment, made a quick motion with his hand, evidently for the benefit of those aboard tile brig. During nearly five minutes lie stood there care- lessly pushing the hatch back and forth, until the Mexican waved his hat, when the red-nosed man suddenly shut both doors, shoving into place the bolts which fastened them together. The little party in the cabin looked up in sur- prise at this singular maneuver, but it was not until the sound of quick footsteps wXas heard on the deck as the man ran swiftly aboard the brig that anv one thought of treachery. "They've locked us in here so's they can steal the Bonita!" Bob shouted, as he leaped to the comn- panion-way an(l began pounding on the bolted doors. The oaken timbers were firm as a bulk-head, and, without a weapon, he might have worked there all day in vain. Joe had sprung to the windows; but his efforts wrrequite as uselessas B3olb's. Ieavy irongratings, intended to keep out intruders an(d break the force of the waves, were screwed six firmly in the w\ood1- 137 3A RUJNAVA W1A BRIG. worklI that they could not be removed from the inSi(de save by the use of proper tools. They were securely imprisoned, for the cabin had no outlet except at the companion-way, and two or three hours of hard work would be absolutely neces- sary before they could escape by the doors. While Bob and Joe were darting from one possible point of vantage to another, shouting for help and uttering wild threats in the same breath, the boys had gathered at one of the port windows which looked directly on the briefs bulwarks. "They ain't gettin' under way !" Jim cried, as if trying to persuade himself that the strangers were not intending to desert them. "There's no need for the pirates to hurry," Bob said hoarsely, as he stood in the center of the cabin, his face convulsed by rage and trembling like one in an ague fit. " If I had jumped on 'em with the belayin'-pin when Joe held me back, all of that crowd wouldn't be able to get away. Come here, you cowar(ls, an' give us a fair show! Open this hatch or T1ll foller you till your lives won't be worth the livin'!" " Tile hawsers have been cast off, an' now the brig is beginnin' to move through the water !" Jim reported, as he pressed his face close to the iron bars. This information gave fresh. impetus to Bob's wrath. Ile rtisledl from one corner of the cabin to another shouting the wildest threats, and behaving generally like an insane person. 138 A R UNAW IA Y BRIG. Joe was quite as angrvy as the old( sailor, but not to such an extent that his common sense had deserted him. While Bob strode back anl forth he was working on the screws which held the bars in place. By breaking off the end of the largest blade in his pocket-knife quite an effective tool was made, and he had accomplished no slight portion of his task when Jim made the last report. Rapidly as the engineer might labor, however, he knew it would be impossible to remove this one par- ticular barrier to freedom before the Bonita would be beyond their reach. The promised wind had come sooner than it was expected1, as could be told by the rapidly increasing speed with which the black bulwarks of the brig slipped past the window, and the task was not half completed when blue water could be seen as the vessel's stern swept by, leaving a wake which bubbled and danced merrily in the sunlight. " There must be a pretty good breeze," Jim con- tinued, speaking excitedly, as if the tears were very near his eyelids, "for the tupper sails are all draw ing. Now I can see that red-nosed bully at the wheel, an' he's wavin' his hat!" Joe continued to work at the bars, and now, when it was too late to effect anything, Bob recov- ered from his anger sufficiently to make at least an attempt at assisting, while Harry and Walter stood near the companion-way, so thoroughly bewildered by this last blow of a cruel fate that speech was well nigh impossible. 139 1A X UNIVA WA YF BRIE. The brig remained within Jim's range of vision but a few moments longer, and when she disappeared entirely he threw himself on a locker, trying to stifle with its cushion the sobs which convulsed him. Without speaking, breathing like one after a long race, and heeding not the wounds on his fingers in- flicted by the sharp edge of the knife, Joe worked on until the iron grating was held in place only by a couple of screws on one side. Then, standing on the locker, he used his foot as a battering-ram until the wood-work gave -way, and the bars fell to the deck with a clatter and a crash that must have been heard by those on the brig. If it had been possible to overtake the thieves the prisoners could not have clambered out through the window more quickly, and on gaining the deck the uselessness of any further efforts was painfully ap- parent. The Bonita was already out of the little harbor, bowing and courtesying on the ocean swell to the winl from the south which filled all her sails, and gliding through the water as if rejoicing at her escape from the shoal. " Can't we row out to them " Jim cried excitedly. "It wouldn't take long to launch the tug's yawl !" "We couldn't catch 'em with anything slower than a steamer, now that they're well under way !" Bob cried angrl 1y; and then, unfastening the hatch, he went into the cabin once more, as if unable to look longrer at the rapidly retreating brig. "Its no use, boys; we've got to make the best of 140 A RUNA WA Y BRIG. Ii what can't be cured !" Joe said with a great but vain effort to speak in a cheery tone. "We must try and forget what has happened or we shall be in no condition to help ourselves." Then, noting the tears in Walter's eyes, lie ad(ie(l kindly: "Think of how much worse we might be situated. The Sea Bird isn't injured past mending, and in her we can make any port we choose." "B But you said it would be two or three weeks be, fore she could be repaired," and Harry choked back a sob lest the evidences of his own grief should make Walter's sorrow greater. " In that I may have been mistaken. Let's set to work as if nothing had happened, and think only about going home presently with no one on board of whoIII we are afraid. You boys get the yawl into the water, so we can land at any timne, and I'll begin the job on the engine. 4 A I1t NA TVA Y BRIG. CHAPTER XVII. REPAIRING THE SEA BIRD. IT WAS extremely difficult for anyone on the tug to set about work while the sense of injury and grief was so fresh in his mind, and had it not been for Joe all hands would have given way to sor- row and anger, a course which could certainly bring no relief. Ile bustled around as if there was not a thought in his mind beyond repairing the engine, calling for assistance first upon one of the boys and then Bob, until they were absolutely forced to take an interest in the work. He insisted that the yawl must be gotten into the water without delay, because his duties might neces- sitate his going ashore at a moment's notice; and it was nearly time for the sun to set before the little boat was in sailing trim. While the boys were en- gaged in this work Joe called upon Bob so often that the old sailor grew quite eager to see the job progress, and, like the others, almost ceased to dwell upon the bitter disappointment. When the boat was launched, Joe advised the boys to go into the tiny galley of the tug for the purpose of getting suppler, concluding by saying: "It ain't as bint as the one on the Bonita; but 142 A X UNA WAYJJRIU. you'll find better tools to work with, because every- thing is new. There must be grub enough to last ten days or more; but if not, we'll do a little hunt- ing and fishing. This is the season for turtles, so we can have plenty of meat and eggs; and there's no show of being put on short allowance, even if we should stay here a month." This remark about food aroused Bob from the mournful reverie into which he had fallen for the moment, and he said with something like his old cheerfulness, as he started forward: " I'll overhaul the stores, so we'll know jes' what there is on board; but it won't do any harm for you boys to go fishin' now an' then, seein' that you can't do very much work in the engine-room." Then lie went into the fore-peak. Jim and Wal- ter built a fire in the stove, which occupied fully half the space in the tiny galley, and Harry set about laying the forward-cabin table with the limited collection of crockery. Joe came from the hot engine-room when the others wvere fully occupied. Ile had not really be- .run his task, nor did he intend to do so until the next morning when some kind of a bench could be set up in the open air, although he had moved about very lively to keep the minds of his companions on something besides their own misfortunes. It was not long before Bob finished taking ac- count of the eatables, and on coming from the hold lie reporte(l "We've got fully half a barrel of flour, about 143 A J UNA WA Y BRIG. twenty pounds of salt pork, twice as much beef, and two hams. There's coffee enough to last this crew four or five weeks, with canned milk to help it out. Two dozen tins of assorted vegetables, three bushels of potatoes, plenty of salt, pepper, molasses and vinegar. Pretty nigh a whole tub of butter, an- other of lard, and a barrel two-thirds full of ship's- biscuit. We sha'n't starve yet awhile; but it stands us in hand to do some fishin' an' huntin' before we leave this place-if we ever do." " Now, don't talk that way, Bob," Joe said with a laugh. "I give you my word that the engine can be repaired, so of course we shall leave here." cIrow much coal have you got" Joe's face darkened. The fuel supply was the only thing of which he had not thought, and he knew there was only such an amount on board as would serve to keep up steam about forty-eight hours. "I don't suppose we've got enough for the run across," be said after a short pause; "but we can take on plenty of wood, or make our way into Nassau, where, by giving a distress note on the steamer, it will be possible to get all that may be needed. If we could only manage to patch the bow a little better I wouldn't feel worried about any- thing." "That's jes' what I've made up my mind to do," Bob replied. " If you don't call on me too often, I reckon I can show a pretty decent job of carpenter- ing by the time you're ready to make steam." 144 A 1 UNA WA Y BRIG. " After to-morrow night I shan't need much help, so you'll have plenty of time," Joe said with a laugh; and then the conversation was interrupted by Walter's announcement that supper was ready. Jim had taken especial pains with this meal, prob- ably acting on the belief that grief is lessened when the stomach is satisfied, and all hands seated them- selves at the table, which occupied nearly the entire floor-space of the little cabin, looking far more cheerful than one would have supposed under the circumstances. "There's a big advantage about living here," Joe said, as he lighted the swinging lamp that the in- terior might seem more cheerful. " Everything is snugger than on the brig. We've got one bunk apiece, and none to spare; the bedding is clean be- cause its new, while Jim's work is easier ow in' to the fact of the galley bein' alongside the dining- room.1" " Yes," Bob said, as he choked down a sigh with a big piece of ham, " we're pretty well fixed con- siderin'; an' if the Bonita had gone to the bottoni, or been burned up, I wouldn't feel sore a bit. It's the idea that the same villains we brought off the key to save 'em from starvation have run away with the brig which riles me. Howsomever," he added, as he helped himself to another potato, " it don't (lo any good to talk of sich rascality, an' we miiay as well chuck ourselves under the chin 'cause things are no worse." Then Joe made sure the conversation would not 145 A R UNA WA Y BRIG. again drift into such a dangerous channel iay talking of the needed repairs until the meal was finished and the dishes washed, after which all hands went on deck to enjoy the cooling breeze. "If we could sleep here it would be possible to take some comfort," Harry suggested, as the old sailor made preparations for his after-supper smoke. "It'll be terribly hot in the cabin." " Suppose we do that same thing " Joe said, quickly. " I'm going to spread the foresail as an awning in the morning to make a work-room, and if we should put it up now there'd be nothing else necessary but bring the bedding on deck." Bob showed that he thought the plan a good one by laying down his pipe and going forward. The others followed, and in a short time the little fore- sail was unbent, the canvas stretched from the roof of the house aft to a couple of oars lashed to the rail, and the boys made up the beds. It was fully half an hour before sunrise next norning when Bob called all hands, and the task of repairing the Sea Bird was begun without delay. Joe had his tools and spare fittings on deck by the time breakfast was ready, and Bob mapped out his work during the same interval. "You boys are to go ashore," the old sailor said when the little party had gathered around the table. "W We haven't got much water, an' if you can find a spring it'll save wastin' coal to condense as hat'll be needed." An excursion on the island wNas IvN no means a 146C A R UNA WA Y BRIG. hardship, and but little time was spent setting the galley and cabin to rights after the meal had been brought to an end. "The key ain't so small but that you can get lost on it an' not half try," Bob shouted, as Jim and Harry took up the oars, leaving Walter to play the part of coxswain. "Keep your bearings well in mind, an' don't go far from the shore." Jim waved his hand to show that the commands were understood, and then the little boat was pro- pelled swiftly toward the key. Bob watched the boys until they landed, fastened the yawl by tying the painter around a projecting piece of coral, and disappeared in the underbrush, after which he went aft, where Joe had set up a very shaky work-bench and was busily engaged measuring a plate of metal. "Them two city-bred youngsters are having the worst end of this queer cruise," the sailor said thoughtfully. "To an old moss-back like me, it don't make much difference whether he's on the Bahamas or the Sandwich Islands, providin' there's plenty of grub; but the lads must come pretty nigh eatin' their hearts out sometimes when they think of home an' the sa(lness that's in it through their dis- appearin' so mysterious-like." "It's tough on them, and that's a fact," Joe re- plied; "1 but they keep the trouble to themselves in a way that ought to teach us a lesson. A man, or a boy either, for that matter, should put his best foot forward, no matter how- hard a place he gets in, an' 147 14 A R UNA WA r nIr. then half the battle's won before a blow can be struck." Joe had no opportunity to continue the subject because Bob walked into the cabin. The conversa, tion was growing altogether too personal to please the old sailor, for he knew perfectly well that he had been more than foolish in giving such free rein to his temper and grief when the perfidy of the strangers was first made apparent, and, like many others, he did not care to be told of his faults. He proposed to further repair the damage done the Sea Bird by planking outside the canvas, and to procure the necessary lumber he must take it from the bulk-head between the after-cabin and the engine-room. This he now proceeded to do, and while the pounding and hammering went on below, as if the little steamer was being torn to pieces, Joe con- tinued what was both a difficult and laborious task. A piece of metal such as could have been cut and planed down into the required shape in half a day with the proper tools, he was forced to fashion from thick plates -with nothing more effective than a file. Althouglh accustomed to "look upon the bright side of trouble," it was impossible to conceal from him- self the unpleasant fact that two or three weeks might elapse before the job could be finished satis- factorily, and during such time a gale from the east might make the Sea Bird a total wreck. These disagreeable thoughts did not prevent him from working industriously on what seemed an al- 148 A RUNA WAY BRIG. 149 iiiost endless task, and he had not ceased his labors for a single moment, even though fully two hours were passed, when a loud noise from the shore at- tracted his attention. "Something has gone wrong with the boys !" he shouted; and Bob rushed on deck in the greatest ex- citement as he asked, impatiently: "What's the matter 1 Have you seen anything" "No; but listen to that yelling. It isn't possible they have found human beings on the key, and un- less they're in trouble I don't see why there should be such an uproar." There was but little time for speculation. Al- most before Joe ceased speaking the boys came from the underbrush at full speed and leaped into the boat after launching her, Jim and Walter pull- ing energetically at the oars while Harry waved some small object above his head. A R UAA WA Y BRIG. CHAPTER XVIII. A SINGULAR DOCUMENT. IN ORDER to better understand the cause of the boys' excitement it will be well to follow them from the time they stepped ashore on the little key in search of water; otherwise it might require the reader more time than it did Bob and Joe to learn all the details of the story. The novelty of standing on the solid earth once more, after having been tossed about by the sea, was very pleasant, and the boys enjoyed it hugely. The sun had not yet heated the cool night-air which lingered among the underbrush, and they plunged through the dense portions of the thicket as if the very contact of the foliage was a luxury. The oddly-shaped leaves, unfamiliar trees and wire-like grass claimed their attention for fully half an hour to the exclusion of everything else, and it is barely possible that the purpose for which they landed might have been forgotten if Jim had not reminded them of tbe fact by saying: " Look here, fellers, it won't do for us to caper 'round here much longer, 'cause Bob'll be hoppin' mad if we ain't back soon to tell him whether there's a supply of water. We'll have plenty 1.51) A R UNA WA Y BRIG. chances to come ashore before the Sea Bird is re- paired, an' to steer clear of a row we'd better get to work." Thus reminded of their duties, Harry and Walter assumed a business-like air, and under the direction of Jim set about exploring the key in a methodical manner. Before proceeding more than fifty yards straight back from the cove the question of water was set- tled, at the same time that evidences of the men who had done them such grievous injury were found. In the sand amid a thicket of palms was a spring whose clear, sparkling water bubbled up appar- ently through the solid rock, forming a tiny stream which flowed toward the east some distance and was then lost amid the dazzling sand. Near by the underbrush had been trampled down, while a quantity of embers told unmistakably that here the three men had camped several days. " They wasn't very near starvin' if this was where they hung out," Jim said as he lifted- from amid the foliage a small sack of yams and another half-filled with ship's-biscuit. " Here's enough to keep 'em alive longer'n they had any right to live, an' by the looks of them oyster-shells I should think it had been a reg'lar Thanksgivin' Day with 'em." "All three ate as if they were hungry when they came aboard the brig," Harry suggested. " That was to throw dust into Bob's eyes. Any- how, these bags show as how the villains weren't 15] A R UNA WA Y BRIG. left here by accident. If we could know all about the crowd I reckon we'd think ourselves lucky in gettin' rid of them with only the loss of the brig." The thought of how they were tricked was one Harry did not care to entertain very long just at this time, when lie had succeeded in partially ban- ishing his great grief, and as a means of checking such conversation he said: "I suppose we ought to go back and tell Bob there is lplenty of water here." "We've got time enough for that. Let's look 'round a little more, for I'd like to find out where them oysters came from," Jim replied; and Walter started at once through the thicket as if eager to hide from view this very unpleasant reminder of their enemies. ' It won't take long to walk across the key," Jim said as he followed close behind the leader; "an' if we keep straight ahead there's no chance of gettin' lost." " We can go on for awhile, at any rate," Harry re- plied, " and if the distance is too great there's noth- ing to prevent us from turning around." It was destined, however, that they should not penetrate very far into the interior of the island. Walter had led the party little more than a quarter of a mile when he halted in front of a veritable hut In the midst of a palmetto thicket. Just for an instant the boys believed the key was inhabited; but as they pushed further among the luxuriant vegetation that question was settled, at I -5 2 Harry sprung forward with a shout as he pointed to a small, dark obJect.-(Sev paugos 155.) A R UNA WA Y BRIG. least so far as this particular building was concerned. It had originally been a rude affair about ten feet square, and evidently built from the fragments of a vessel, but was now little more than a pile of tim- bers. One end and part of a si(le yet remained standing, the balance thrown down as if decay rather than man or the fury of the elements had caused the collapse. The boys walked around it, trying to peer under the rotten planks in the hope of seeing some evi- dences of its former occupancy, until Walter said impatiently: "There's nothing here worth looking at, so let's go on. " Wait a bit," Jim replied, as he began overhaul- ing the ruins. "If we could find two or three sound planks Bob would think we'd made a fair day's work, 'cause he needs a good deal of lum- ber." Harry had not thought it possible the discovery could be of any value until this suggestion of Jim's, and then he worked with a will among the ruins, knowing full well how delighted the old sailor would be with two or three stout timbers. It seemed hardly probable any very useful mate- rial could be gathered from the pile of rubbish, for that portion of the hut yet standing was in such a condition of decay that, as the fragments inside were removed, it came tumbling down with a crash, send- ing the centipedes and other crawling things scut- tling away in every direction, while the dust rose in 154 A RUNAWAY BRIG. dense clouds, which caused the boys to sneeze as if a huge snuff-box had been overturned. "According to the looks of that we sha'n't find very many serviceable pieces," Walter said when it was possible to speak again. " This stuff is so rot- ten that it wouldn't even make good fuel." "I reckon you're right ;" and as lie spoke Jim pulled toward him the corner-post, which had l)roken off close to the sand. In dragging it out the wood crumbled to pieces, and Harry, who was a few feet away, sprung for- ward with a shout as he pointed to a small, (lark ob- ject amid the fragments. "Look at that! There's something hidden in the timber !" Pressing forward, the boys saw a square black mass five inches long, four wide, and a trifle more than one inch in thickness, which was lying appar- ently in the very heart of the wood. Tle briefest examination revealed the fact that the odd-looking thing was in a cavity or recess which had been cut in the timber at what must have been about four feet from the ground when the post formed a por- tion of the hut. It had been most skillfully done, and concealed from viewv by a thin piece of wood rablbeted-in so neatly as to make it appear like the solid post. Even now, after so many years miust have elapsed, it was difficult to see the joints; there- fore when first done one would have looked in vain for marks of a tool on the timber. "What is it" Jim cried excitedly as he gazed at 155 A R CUNA WA Y BRIG. the black object, but made no move toward taking it from the recess where it had so long remained hidden. "It's something valuable, or it wouldn't have oeen put away like that. P'rhaps a pirate has left it for safe-keeping, and. couldn't get back after it," Harry suggested. "lie couldn't have been any very great shakes of a pirate if that's all he had to hide !" Jim said with a tone of contempt for the possibly blood-thirsty owner of the package which he now lifted from its wooden case. The boys gathered close around; but the most minute examination failed to reveal anything more valuable than a mass of tar. " There must be something inside!" Walter cried excitedly, " for no one would have taken so much trouble to put such stuff away. Cut it open !" Jim was soon chopping at the black mass with his pocket-knife, and but a few strokes were necessary to show that the tar simply covered a cunningly- plaited net-work of stout cord fashioned somewhat like an envelope. "Be careful when you stick the knife through !" Harry cried warningly. " There must be something precious inside, sure!" Jim did not intend to run any risk of ruining the contents by a hasty stroke. After scraping the tar off sufficiently to expose the cords straight across both ends, he cut them carefully apart until the en- velope was divided like an open wallet, exposing to view two thin sheets of wood. 156 A R UNA WA Y BRIG. " It's nothing but paper !" Walter exclaimed in a tone of most intense disappointment as Jim sepa- rated this inner covering, showing what appeared to be the attempt of some amateur to draw a diagram on a soiled piece of stout paper. At the top of the sheet, which was yellow and time-worn, were two lines, as follows: XLI. fathoms N. N. E. from this timber to pal- inetto tree. XII. fathoms S. E. by E. to coral-head. This information, if such it could be. called, was jotted down in fanciful letters instead of writing, and immediately beneath it appeared the rude draw- ing of a hut, a crooked tree, and a rock or piece of coral. From one to the other arrows were placed to mark the probable direction as given above, while below was what looked like a representation of an island or key. Then was written, in angular penmanship, the follow in: We solemnly swear not to disturb the treasure buried by us this day, except in the presence of all the owners, or after receiving proof that one or more are dead. (Signed) BARTii MEADOWS. His PEDRO x GONZALES. 1 lark. E. BONN. His Jo SETp X IIARTTMAN. mark. 157 A R UNA WAY BRIG. For several mtomnents after Harry ceased reading this singular document the boys stood staring at the faded characters in silence, and then Jim exclaimed: " I'll bet them was spirates what wrote that, an' if we could only make out what it means there'd be a big pile of gold found. Let's go on board an' show it to Bob !" The mere suggestion that they bad the clew to a buried treasure was sufficient to throw all three into a perfect fever of excitement, and after carefully gathering up the coverings they started at full speed for the shore, shouting to each other, as they ran, the most improbable theories concerning the ancient document and its sinners until the key re- sounded with their cries. "Perhaps the men who ran away with the brig belong to the same gang who hid the paper," Walter su--este(l in a tremulous tone, glancing behind him every few moments, as if fancying they might be pursued. "That couldn't be," Harry replied, panting be- cause of the rapid pace, " unless they've taken the gold with them." For an instant the boys' joy decreased very materially, and then grew strong once more as Jim said, confidently: "If they had we'd seen somethin' of it; but them duffers didn't have any bagnage when they come aboard. The Bonita wouldn't 'a' left the cove so quick if the men had known about this. I tell you, fellers, it was lucky for us that they stole the brig !" 158 Ao yMIa o -U-a o t I 1 6,1 ) A R UNA WA Y -BRIG. Then, as if unable longer to act like rational beings, the explorers burst into loud, incoherent shouts, which sadly lessened their speed because of the extra amount of breath required to continue the outcries. It was this uproar which Joe beard, and he and Bob were wholly at a loss to understand what had happened as the yawl, with her noisy crew, ap proached the tug. A R UNA WA Y BRIG. CHAPTER XIX. AN UNEXPECTED VISIT. IT WAS fully ten minutes after the excited boys arrived at the Sea Bird before Bob and Joe could understand the meaning of the document which Harry waved so triumphantly above his head, or learn where and how it had been found. Each one insisted on telling the story at the same time, and the result was that nothing could be distinctly heard until Bob shouted: "Hold up, lads! Give yourselves time to elect a president who can do the talkin', an' then p'rhaps me an' Joe'll find out whether you've seen the Bonita or discovered a bridge that leads to New York !" "Let Harry tell the story while Walt an' me bail the yawl. Her seams haven't svelled enough yet to prevent her from takin' in water;" and Jiun went forward resolving not to say another word until the matter was fully explained; but before Harry had well begun the recital both he and Walter were assisting in the conversation. Bob and Joe did finally succeed in learning all the particulars regarding the finding of the manuscript, and then their excitement equaled that of the boys. 161 A R UNA WA Y BRIG. "There ain't any question but what the lads have lighted on the secret of a pirate's treasure," the old sailor said in a positive tone, and looking around at his companions as if challenging either of them to contradict him. " Years ago these keys used to be a great place for 'em to sneak in an' out of, an' it stands to reason this would 'a' been jes' the kind of a harbor they'd try to make, 'cause there's water enough here to float a good-sized craft." "But it's a big question as to whether we can find it ;" and Joe examined the document carefully once more. " It has been a good while since this was written, and perhaps both the tree and the coral rock have disappeared." "It won't take very long to learn that, matey," Rob replied in a tone so cheery that it would have been difficult to believe he had felt so angry and despondent a few hours previous. " There's a good coinpass in the pilot-house, an' with it an' your tape- neasure we'll be able to lay out the course to a hair." " Do you mean to knock off work for the sake of going treasure-hunting " Joe asked in mild sur- prise. "Why not Two or three days won't make much difference to us when the repairs are a ques- tion of weeks, an' there's no great danger of an easterly gale at this time of year." It did not require any lengthy or able argument to convince Joe that he would be warrante(1 in ceas- ing his work as machinist to become a treasure- 162 A RUUNA IVA Y BR1IG. seeker, for he was fully as eager as Bob to test the truth of the apparent statement contained in the locument. Half an hour after the boys came on board all hands were ready for a return to the key. The compass had been placed in the stern-sheets of the yawl; Joe carried the measuring-tape in his pocket, and all was in readiness for the start, when the old sailor suggested that one of the Sea Bird's anchors be dropped. " I ain't afraid of her slippin' the Bonita's hawser," he said; "1but it'll be a good idea to prevent her from swinging round into shoal water." Anything, no matter how much labor it might in- volve, which would guard against a loss or further disablement of their second and only remaining craft should te attended to, and all hands assisted in the work. The- tug's smallest anchor was let go with the cable made fast to the stern bitt, and unless a violent storm should arise she would lay to her moorings as safely as if in a dry-dock. Bob looked once more to the stopper on the bow hawser, as if the idea of leaving the little steamer even for so short a time made him uneasy regarding her safety; and then, when about to step over the rail into the yawl, he involuntarily glanced sea- ward. " Well, if that don't take all the wind outer my sails !" he exclaimed, pointing with one hand toward the open ocean as he shaded his eyes with the other. "An hour ago I'd 'a' been glad to see sich a sight as 163 A PlUNAWAY BI (R. that; but with the paper the boys found I've kinder lost all hankerin' for a chance to leave this key." The remainder of the party were already on board the yawl, and it was some seconds before the full meaning of his words could be understood. It was Harry who first caught a glimpse of that which attracted the old sailor's attention, and he cried, as he clambered over the steamer's rail: " It's a vessel! Father has sent some one to look for us, and now we can go home !" "I reckon you're wrong there, lad," Bob said as his companions gathered around him, all gazing in- tently at a small schooner which was creeping slowly toward the key from the south-east, evidently head- ing directly for the cove. " That craft hasn't got American sailors on board by considerable. She looks like a fisherman-most likely comin' here for turtles. Whatever she is, we must put off goin' ashore for a spell." Joe q1uickly brought the compass from the yawl, that no evidences of their intended visit ashore should be seen, and said, as he took up his tools once more: "We'd better keep right on about our work, for in case they are coming here it Inma look suspi- cious to see us loafing when the steamer is so nearly a wreck." But for the document found l)b the boys Joe would not have had such a thoughit. FNow, how- ever, the possiI)ility that there might be a large amount of treasure secreted on the key made him over-cautious and distrustful. 1(;4 A R UNA VAY JI IRfJ Bob returned to the cabin, for the "curse of wealth " had also begun to make itself felt on him, and the three boys wvatched the approach of the stranger, but far less eagerly than would have been the case a few hours previous. Slowly the schooner dIrew nearer, still heading directly for the cove, and shortening sail only when she was inside the outer point of land. "Come on deck, BIob," Joe said in a low tone. "She's got just about way enough on to fetch us, and there's no question but that she's coining to an- chor close alongside." Bob emerged from the companion-way as the schooner swung around to her cable, and a man who was standing near the wheel shouted: "Steamer ahoy !" " Halloo !" Bob replied. "What's the matter Are you in distress " "Not exactly; we've been at the wrong end of a collision, an' put in here to patch up a little." "' Have you been ashore yet " "Do you suppose they know we found the pa- per" Walter whispered in alarm as Bob hesitated before saying: " Three of the crew landed this morning to look for water." "Did ycu see any men there F" "If you mean a Mexican, a thin feller, an' one w-ith a red nose, we've- seen more'n we wanted !" and I) the tone of Bob's voice it could be easily under- stood that he was growing very angry. 165 A R UrNA WA Y BRIG. " That's the crowd we're looking for!" the man on the schooner said excitedly. " On what part of the key are they " "You'll find 'em somewhere between here an' the coast of the United States. We had the brig Bonita in tow when we came to anchor, an' by lockin' us below on the tug they stole her !" The man conversed with those near him for a moment, and then resumed the conversation by ask- ing: "When did that happen " "About two hours before sunset yesterday after- noon. Do you know anything of the scoundrels" "Considerable that ain't to their credit. They shipped at Nassau on a trading-vessel, and tried to get up a mutiny in order to seize the craft. The captain marooned them here, and we shouldn't have troubled our heads about such a lot if it had not been learned that they murdered two turtle-fishers in the North-west Channel three weeks ago simply for the small amount of money the men received from sale of the cargo. It looks now as if the vil- lains had given us the slip." " I ain't so sure of that," Bob replied after some thought. "The brig is a decently heavy sailer, an' there hasn't been wind enough to take her very far away. The chances are they're loafin' 'round the Bank now." As may be supposed, the crew of the Sea Bird were astonished at learning the true character of those whom they would have befriended. That the 166 A R UNA WA Y BRIG. men were scoundrels there had been good proof; but to learn they were murderers as well, shocked all hands. " It's a good thing we didn't sail on the Bonita," Walter said in a whisper. " If they'd kill two fish- ermen for a little money, I'm sure there wouldn't have been much hesitation about butchering us be- fore we arrived in port, so they could claim the brig." " All that appears unfortunate is not ill-luck," Joe added; and then the captain of the schooner shouted: "We'll give them a chase, anyhow. Tell us the full particulars concerning the brig, and if we don't succeed in catching the murderers it will be easy to send the information to every port they're likely to enter. By that means they'll be prevented from enjoying the stolen property very long. Come aboard, where we can talk without such a waste of wind !" " Let's all hands go," Bob suggested; and in a few moments the crew of the Sea Bird were on the schooner-Harry telling the story of how he, Wal- ter and Jim were carried away by the Bonita; Bob relating the particulars of the Trade Wind's loss, and Joe giving an account of the collision. " It's kind of a mixed up affair," the captain sai(I, rubbing his nose vigorously, as if to quicken miemn- ory, "and I reckon it'll be safer to take down tall the names, so's there'll be no mistake." "I'll write out the whole thing for you," Harry 167 1 8 A R UNA WA Y BRIG. proposed, and the captain appeared to be relieved by the proposition. " I ain't got much of a fist for writin'," he re- plied half-apologetically, " an' it'll save me a deal of time." Then, as Itarry began what of necessity would be quite a lengthy narrative, he asked Bob: "Is there anything we can do for you Have you stores enough for a decently long voyage " "I reckon we have everything needful except coal, an' we'll have to run into Nassau for that. If you'll give me the course it'll be a big help, seein's how I ain't very much of a navigator." This the captain was not only willing but pleased to do. He even went so far as to draw on a piece of brown paper a rude chart of the North-east Provi- dence Channel, and the self imposed task was hardly completed when Harry brought his written story to an end. A 1 UNA IVA Y BRIG. CHAPTER XX. TREASURE-SEEKERS. THE CREW of the schooner obtained the fullest 1particulars regarding the brig, the direction of the wind when she was gotten under way, and such other information as might be of benefit to them, for the chase was to be continued to the American coast, if necessary. "We can send for the legal papers in case the murderers have reached the United States," the captain of the schooner said; " and with such proof as we have got concerning their crime there is little doubt but that the Government will grant an extra- dition." "If you should catch them, make a claim in our name for salvage on the brig," Joe said. " We brought her through a gale in which she would have been dismasted if not totally wrecked, and as she was stolen from an anchorage our rights in the matter should be respected." "That's about the size of it, Joe," Bob added, approvingly. "If there's any fairness in law we oughter get a right tidy lot of money outer the old hooker." " I'll attend to the business for you, my hearties; 169 X A R UNA WA Y BRIG. an' what's more, them villains shall be made to answer for a cold-blooded murder if we have to keep the chase up six months. Now I allow we should get under way, for a good sailin' breeze mustn't be lost. We'll see you in Nassau, I reckon, for if things work favorably we'll be home again in a week at the latest." This was a decided hint for the visitors to take their departure, and a few moments later they were rowing toward the Sea Bird as the schooner glided swiftly out of the little cove. "Well, lads," Bob said, after they had watched the rapidly receding craft until her hull was shut out from view by the point of land, "now that they're off there's nothin' to prevent us from findin' out if what was writ down on that lcaper means any- thing. Get the compass. We'll take an ax an' the fire-shovel as well, for most likely there'll be a job at diggin' before it'll be possible to tell whether we're on a wild-goose chase or not." The boys were eager to follow up the clew given lby the document found at the ruined but, and in a very short space of time everything was ready once more for a visit to the key. It was now past noon, for the schooner had been in the harbor two or three hours; but in the excite- ment of hunting for treasure no one thought of eat- ing. The heat was intense even where the sea- breeze had full range, and among the underbrush it would be almost stifling; but this discomfort was unheeded in the newborn thirst for gold. 1,40 I R, UCA I I VA Y B IG. 17G With Bob and Joe at the oars the yawl glided over the glassy waters very swiftly, and when she was pulled up on the sand beyond reach of the tide the old sailor said, as he raised the compass: " Lead the way, lads, an' make the course pretty nigh direct, for wve don't wvant to cruise 'round any more'n is necessary. Joe, you take the shovel an' ax, so's the leaders can travel light." By following up their own trail, which was dis- tinctly marked in the underbrush, the boys had no dlifficulty in going directly to the ruined hut, stop- ping only once on the way to quench their thirst at the spring "This is the place, an' there's the hole in the timber where we found the paper," Harry said, as he laid his hand on the crumbling joist. "What luzzles me is to know from which side of it we're to measure forty-one fathoms." "There can't be much of a mistake if we're to travel nor'-nor'-east," and Bob l)laced the compass on that portion of the shattered timber which yet remained in the sand. " It'll be a decently hard job to walk in a straight line, though, an' if we should happen to get an inch or so out of the way at the start it would throw the whole course askew." "A few feet wouldn't matter a great (leal while we've got tile palmetto to guide us,"' Joe suggested. " We have, if it's standin' yet; but this 'ere docu- ment was fixed up a good while ago, my hearty, an' the tree they took their bearin's from may havo been blowed down a dozen times since then." I1,1I of ItA UNA IVA - BRtIG. " ( don't believe that could have alI)penCel more than once," Harry said, laughingly, "unless pal- mettoes are different from other trees." "Well," Bob replied, gravely, "once would be enough to knock us out of reckonin', an' instead of standin' here in the hot sun chatterin' like a lot ()f parrots we'd better find the true course." To lay out a straight line through the woods with nothing but a compass as guide is by no means a simple task, and of this the old sailor was wvell aware. Hle set about the work methodically, hee(1- ing not the time spent providing the result arrive(l at was correct, and in doing this the assistance of all was necessary. With the compass placed squarely over the end of the post Bob sighted across it, directing Jim, wvho had moved off at a distance of half a dozen yards, until he was in the desired position. Then the comn- pass was carried forward to this point, an(d as Joe trimmed away the branches or hewed dow-n. trees which obstructed the view, Harry wailked ahead according to the old sailor's orders. Walter made the third point in the observation; and thus the line was continued b)v the one in the rear going forward when the distance hma(l been measured, until forty-one fathoms, or two hundred and forty-six feet, had been covered. "Here we are !" Joe cricl as the final living peg was in position; " andl there's nothing that looks like a rlmetto anywhere near. Are you sure the course ,s true" 172 A R UNA WA Y RIUG. "I know it can't be half a fathom out of the way," Bob saidl as he wiped the J)erspiration from his face and gazed around in perplexity. "This is what comes of takin' a bearin' that's likely to be knocked outer line." "If the tree isn't where it ought to be must we give up the search" Walter asked as a look of dis- appointment came over his face. "We won't cry quits quite so soon as this," Bob replied quickly. "Joe, drive a stake where Harry stands, so we can find the spot ag'in, an' then get readlv to start on the other course." When this had been done Bob brought the com- pass forward once more, and Joe struck out south- east by east-a direction which caused them to re- turn almost over the same course, the stake standing ait the point of an acute angle. This secon(l course wvas but little more than one- quarter the distance of the first; but the under- brush was miore tangled, which miade the labor of clearing a path proportionately greater, and it was nearly night-fall when Joe shouted, as he pressed on in advance: "There's no need of squinting across that com- pass-box any longer, for here's the coral-head as plain as the nose on a man's face !" Without thinking that by leaving their positions all this last portion of the work mi-ight have to be relpeated, the boys rushed forward eagerly despite llob's varnin- shouts ; 11l1i( thuls (leserted by his as- sistants, the old sailor could do no less than join the K i3 A X UNA WA Y BRIG. others, who were standing around what looked like a dull-white rock of the same form as that so rudely 1ictured on the time-stained paper. " I reckon we've struck it !" he said with a long- drawn sigh of relief; " but there's likely to be a big lot of diggin', an' it's gettin' late. My idee is that we'd better knock off now, an' come back in the mornin'." Joe was of the same opinion, and the two men began to gather up their belongings preparatory to a return to the steamer. The boys were decidedly disappointed. Even though all were very hungry, they would have pre- ferred to settle the question then and there regard- less of the amount of time that might be necessary; but as their views on the subject were not asked for, there was no other course open save to follow the leaders. The coral-head lay nearer the water's edge than did the hut, and after blazing two or three trees and ascertaining the bearings of the supposed treas- ure, the line of march was taken up. The sun had been below the horizon fully a quar- ter of an hour when they stepped on board the Sea Bird, and not until then did the boys realize how tired they were. The exertion even of cooking supper seemed too great; but it was a task which must be performed, and all hands aided in it, thus bringing the meal to a much earlier close than if Jim had officiated at the stove alone. It is safe to say that none of the steamer's crewr 1,4 A t UNA VA Y BY IG. were troubled with wakefulness five minutes after retiring, and Bob himself Nvas wrapped in slumber wv hen the sun came up out of the sea. His eyes were opened at a reasonably early hour, however, and when a hurried breakfast had been eaten the party set out for the spot where all believed a pirate's treasure would be found. To retrace their steps by the course laid out on the previous evening was not a difficult matter, for the trail through the tangled underbrush would have showed the wav even without the compass, and be- fore two hours of this new day were spent the little party stood once more around the coral-head. Owing to the fact that they had but one shovel the work of digging progressed slowly, and it was soon discovered that the task would require consid- erable time. The coral was of great size, very much larger at the base than the top, and imbedded in the sand to the depth of at least four feet. " We must spell each other every five minutes," Bob said, as he set the example by taking the tool from Joe's hands. " In that way we shall get along faster, because the one who's diggin' will always be fresh." Each of the party, including the boys, had taken his turn at the shovel half a dozen times when the huge mass of coral was finally uncovered, and then came the question of removing it entirely. To this end Joe cut three poles, to be used as levers, and Wvith the most intense excitement de- picted on every countenance the treasure-seekers set about this last portion of the task. 1 ,5 A R UNA WA Y BRIG. The second attempt was successful. The coral was rolled up on the sand until it could be toppled over, and then, as Bob scraped the earth away from where it had rested so long, an oblong sheet of metal-apparently copper-was exposed to view. This was sufficient proof for the boys that the paper found in the hollow log referred to a hoard of gold, and they cheered again and again until all three were hoarse, while Bob said in a tone of mingled amazement and joy: " Inm blest if I thought the dockerment was any- thing more'n a bloomin' hoax; but this begins to look as if there might be a heap of truth in it, even if them as wrote the story was mighty bad hands with a pen." Despite all their anxiety to know what had been hidden in this place, the little party stood around the excavation in a frame of mind very much resem- bling awve until Joe said, impatiently: "Come, come! What's the sense of standing like images Let's know what there is here, now that we're pretty near the end of the puzzle!" This was sufficient to awaken the treasure-seekers from their daze, and the work was continued with- out further delay. 176 ,A R UNA W.AY BRIG. CHAPTER XXI. THE TREASURE. THE SHEET of metal, which was about eight feet square and half an inch in thickness, covered considerable more space than had the base of the coral-head, consequently it became necessary to work some time longer with the shovel before it could be raised. After the edges were exposed, and the sand had been thrown back to prevent any chance of its fall- ing in and burying whatever might be beneath when the metal was removed, Bob said in a tone of cau- tion, curbing his own excitement as much as pos- sible: "Keep cool, lads, for too great speed jes' now may make no end of extra work. Joe, you take hold of this 'ere plate with me, while Jim stands by with the shovel in case we start the sand a runnin'. Don't let your hopes climb so high that you'll be disappointed if we fail to find anything here, my hearties, for there's a good many chances somebody has been at this place ahead of us, an' we'll have all our labor for nothin'. Calm down same's I ain, an' then there won't be any harm done if we find nothin' but an empty hole." 177 XA li UNA WA Y BRIG. Bob's advice ewas good, but he did not follow it himself. Now they were so near the end of the task, he was actually trembling with suppressed ex- citement, and it was as if he had made this long speech for the purpose of quieting his own nerves. The boys stood around the excavation awaiting impatiently the moment when the secret was to be revealed; and although Jim held the shovel ready to check any flow of sand, it was apparent that he paid more heed to what might be under the metal plate than the duty assigned him. To raise the heavy covering was more difficult than the old sailor at flrst supposed. Four times did he and Joe make the attempt unsuccessfully, and then, as every muscle was strained to the utmost, it canted on edge, while five pairs of eyes peered eagerly into what was naturally supposed to be an excavation. If the anxious ones had expected an immediate view of treasure they were disappointed. A mass of what appeared to be canvas, but so discolored and decayed as to require a close scrutiny before such fact could be determined, was all that could be seen, and this in itself cheered Bob wonderfully. " Whatever was buried is still here, for if anybody had got at it they wouldn't a' taken the trouble to cover the hole over again. All hands turn to an' lift this chunk of metal out of the way." " An' don't be two or three hours about it either," Jin cried impatiently, as he grasped one side of the huge plate, " or we'll never find out what's under tile canvas." !8 A R UNA WA Y BRIG. The additional excitement lent strength to every arm, and as if it had been nothing more than a piece of wood the heavy mass was rolled end over end until it lay on the sand a dozen feet from the excava- tion. When this had been done there was no longer any delay in continuing the investigation. With one accord every member of the party seized at the same moment the discolored covering which hid from view the secret of the key. The fabric crumbled in their hands like tinder, and instead of lifting it off readily each pulled up a small quantity of molder- ing fiber. "Take the shovel!" Bob cried excitedly to Joe. "This stuff hasn't got much more substance than dust, an' it must be scraped away carefully." " It's a bad lookout for what may be beneath," Joe replied grimly, as he obeyed the order while the l)ovs and Rob worked with their hands until a black, stiff surface was exposed. " This is tarred canvas, an' by gettin' hold of the edges we can lift it out, I reckon," the old sailor said(; and as the others followed his example the second covering, together with the remaining fragr- ments of the first, wvas raised without difficulty, ex- posing to view a sight well calculated to increase the already feverish excitement. An excavation about five feet square, dug down to the bed-rock and lined on the sides with tarred can- vas, was revealed, while in it, packed with a view to economty of space, were a large number of small, 179 0A R UNA WVA Ft BRIG. black bags full to plumpness of something which bulged here and there like metal. Bob drew his sheath-knife in a twinkling, and in- stead of cutting the mouth of a bag which he lifted from its long resting-place, slit it down the side, allowing the contents to drop in a dull yellow shower on the sand. "Talk about wantin' salvage on the brig!" he cried; " why, here's more money than she and her curgo, would fetch in any port! It's gold, lads! Here's a Spanish doubloon; this is an English sovereign; an' there's a Dutch piece. It would puzzle a lawyer to count it off-hand; but we oughter be satisfied at knowin' that every coin is good, law- ful money, no matter how them as put their fists to the dockerment niay a' got it"! Bob was almost beside himself with joy, and the others were not one whit more calm. Each had torn or cut open a bag, andl was handling the con- tents as if every touch of the precious metal gave pleasure. That the hoard was valuable every mem- ler of the party knew beyond a doulbt, even though tio one could c0111)ute the actual amount. There were coins of almost every nation, some of gold, othlers of silver, all poured into the tarred canvas bags without any attempt at classification, but simply that they might be in a portable shape. The bag harry opened contained, in addition to the money, several rings; but in the excitement of the moment there was no thought of examining them critically. It Awas sufficient that they were in 18( A R UNA WA Y BRIG. possession of a large amount of treasure; the value of the find was a secondary consideration just then. The old sailor finally aroused himself from what can be called by no other name than a delirium of joy, and with his awakening to the reality came that which the accumulation of wealth always brings-fear lest it should be lost as suddenly as it was gained. "We mustn't sit here crowin' like idiots!" he cried sharply as he began to gather up the gold- pieces which had fallen on the ground. "There's no tellin' how soon somebody may come, an' if we want to hold what we've got it's time things around here were put into shape. These bags must be car- ried on board the Sea Bird, an' the hole filled in ag'in, so's no one will know we've been diggin' !" This suggestion started the remainder of the party into activity, and on the instant all were ready to set about the necessary -work. It was now high noon. The rays of the sun beat down upon the sand with a heat that under any other circumstances would have seemed overpower- ing; but the treasure-finders heeded it not. The foliage shut out every breath of air, and the shadows cast by the trees were but so many stifling spots free only from the glare of the sand; yet no one hesitated to begin the laborious task, because the burdens wvere golden. Over all had come the fear that this new-found treasure might be wrested from them, and hunger or thirst, fatigue or exhaust- ion were alike forgotten. 181 M. R UNA WA Y BRIG. "A couple of bags are as much as Joe an' me can carry, while one will be a load for you boys; but in three turns we'll have them all at the boat; so let's get un(ler -way at-once," Bob said as he set the example, while the others obeyed silently. No one speculated as to why so much gold had been buried in that particular spot, or how it hap- pened that those who concealed the treasure had abandoned the rich hoard. The wonderful fact of its having come into their possession was the only thought which could be entertained. The burdens, as allotted by Bob, were reasonably heavy, and despite the excitement which lent ficti- tious strength, the journey to the boat occupied con- siderably more than half an hour. Joe and Bob scanned the horizon in every direc- tion before depositing the first load of treasure to return for the second, but as no sail ewas in sight on the dazzling blue waters it was believed safe to leave the precious bagts on the beach during the hour they would necessarily be absent. On the third trip neither Harry nor Walter car- ried a load. There were originally but nineteen packages in the excavation, as was shown by careful count, and since the two boys showed more signs of weariness than the others. Bob insisted that both travel empty-handed. When the tired party arrived at the beach with the last of the gold the boat was launched, the bags distributed evenly fore and aft, and with Joe and Bob rowing, the return to the steamer was begun. 1332 A R UNA WAY BRIG. The movement of the yawl caused a light breeze which greatly refreshed the heated treasure-seekers, and with the relief thus afforded came speculation as to why so much wealth had been concealed on the key. "I reckon them as signed that 'ere dockerment were reg'lar pirates," Bob said in reply to a question from Harry. " It ain't likely honest folks would 'a' put the stuff there when it could easier have been carried somewhere else." "But why did they leave it" Harry persisted. "From the looks of the hut it's been a good many years since anybody lived there, and of course the gold was buried when that was built." "M Most likely the whole crowd are dead-killed in a fight-or we wouldn't 'a' hit on sich a find. How- somever, it don't make much difference to us, seein' that we've got the pile. Look lively when we reach the steamer, lads, an' put the bags aboard in a hurry, for there's another trip ashore to be made before sunset." "What for " Jim asked in surprise. "We must cover that hole up as it was when we found it, so's in case anybody stumbles over the place before the Sea Bird is ready to leave there won't be any suspicion as to what has been taken out. Joe an' me will 'tend to that part of it while you boys cook dinner." By this time the yawl was close alongside the steamer. Jim was in the bow, and as the rowers held her steady he leaped aboard with the painter. 183 A RUNA WAY BRIG. In accordance with Bob's orders Harry and Wal- ter clambered over the steamer's rail, and stood ready to take the bags as they were passed up. "Stow 'em in the hold behind the water-casks," the old sailor said when the last valuable package was on board, "an' see to that part of it before doin' anything else." Then he and Joe rowed slowly back to the shore while the boys carried the treasure below. It was difficult for them to realize, even though they had such good proof, that all this weight was made up of gold coin; and Jim, who was more bois- terous than any other member of that highly ex- cited crew, insisted on opening every bag before stowing it away. There was nothing to interfere with such diver- sion, for Bob and Joe would necessarily be absent a long while, and each package was duly inspected. Harry wanted to count the money in one bag in order to get some idea of tere total amount; but he was forced to abandon the task after a few moments' work. There were apparently coins of every nation, the majority of which the boys could only make a rough guess as to the value; and Jim said, when Harry announced his inability to arrive at even an approximate computation: "Never mind, fellers; we can weigh the whole lot when we get into port, an' then figger up some- where near what it's worth. I'd jes' like to spread these all over the deck, where we could see 'em every minute; but I s'pose Bob would kick," 184 A R UNA WA Y BRIG. I at. "fHe'd have good reason," Harry said laughingly. 'Besides bein' in the way, it wouldn't be safe to have so much gold around, for there's no knowing how soon some other craft may come into the cove." "All the same I'd like to see it on deck," Jim re- plied; and then, as if it required a mighty effort to put this desire far from him, he bustled to and fro in the most energetic fashion. After this work had been done, the amateur cook and his assistants went into the galley, where all the stores were overhauled in order that a most elabo- rate meal might be prepared; for despite the heat and his fatigue, Jim was determined to make of the dinner a regular Thanksgiving feast, to celebrate their rare good fortune. A R UNA WA Y BRIG. CHAPTER XXIT. FROM JOY TO DISMAY. I T WAS nearly sunset, and Jim's feast had been ready for the table fully an hour when Bob and Joe came out of the thicket and launched the boat once more. The boys, who were on deck watching for their return, could see that both the men were nearly ex- hausted. They rowed as if it was a great exertion even to lift the oars, and on reaching the steamer sat in the yawl some time before coming aboard. "You'd better hurry !" Jim said warningly. "I've had a swell dinner ready so long that it must be pretty nigh dried up by this time, an' if you fool 'round much more everything will taste like chips !" "I couldn't hurry, lad, if a month's grub rolled together was waitin for me," Bob said as he mopped his sun-burned face with his shirt-sleeve. "That last job was a tough one, an' I feel as though all the marrow in my bones was toasted brown. This 'ere's the only shady place with any air stirrin' we've found since mornin', an' I mean to scoop in all the comfort I can for the next half-hour." Joe was equally as unwilling to move from the side of the tug, where slight but cooling draughts 186 A X UNA WA F BRIG. of air afforded the long-needed relief from intense heat, and Jim's feast was but little more than a cold lunch when the weary ones were ready to sit at the table in the stuffy cabin. Bob exerted himself but once more that night after the meal was finished, and then he went below to make sure the treasure had been stowed accord- ing to his directions. It was yet light when the tired crew stretched themselves on the mattresses which had been spread under the awning aft, and although there was such a fruitful topic, but little conversation was indulged in, because slumber cane so quickly. But however tired Jim was, he could not refrain from speaking of the treasure they had so unex- pectedly found. "What are you fellers goin' to do with your share of the gold " he asked in a low tone, to avoid being overheard by Joe or Bob. "Give it to father, I suppose," Harry replied, (dis- playing but little enthusiasm because of his wveari- ness. " You can bet I'll keep what comes to me right in my own trousers-pocket !" Master Libby replied very decidedly. " I'm goin' to buy a vessel like the Mary Walker, an' make a voyage fishin' all by my- self !" " But you'll have to take a crew," Walter sug- gested with a yawn. " Of course I'll have somebody to do the work an' stand watch; but I'll be the boss, an' won't so much 187 A R UNA WA Y BRIG. as go on deck when it rains! I'll have a heavin'-line in my pocket, so's to whale the cook if the grub ain't first-class! I tell you the crew'll have to jump 'round when I'm aboard, or there'll be fun !" "I should think you had enough of that kind of work when those men were aboard," Harry said after a pause. " Well, you see I want to take my turn at flog- gin' once in a while, so's to know what it's like. I haven't had a chance yet; but I will when we get this money home." Neither harry nor Walter made any reply to this rather cruel project, and in the silence which fol- lowed they soon fell asleep, leaving Jim his choice of indulging in more air-castles or that of benefit- ing by their example. The first rays of the rising sun failed to awaken them next morning, and all hands might have slept a good portion of the forenoon if Jim had not been aroused by a sensation of numbness in his arm, caused by the fact that Harry had unconsciously used it as a pillow. " It's early yet, an' I reckon I'd better take one more nap instead of callin' the other fellers," he muttered to himself as lie sat bolt upright an instant for the purpose of restoring the circulation of blood to his misused limb. As he did this, however, mechanically glancing seaward, he saw that wvhich drove from his eyelids all desire for sleep. A boat had just come into view from around the 188 A R UNA VA Y BRIG. northern point of the cove, and was heading directly toward the steamer, rowed by two men who looked strangely familiar, although for a moment he could not clearly distinguish their features. "Bob! Bob !" he cried in a low tone as he shook the unconscious sailor. " There's a yawl comin' in here, an' I believe " le did not finish the sentence, for Joe was on his feet by this time, and cried, before Jim could speak another Aword: " I'm a Dutchman if that red-nosed villain an' the Mexican haven't come back! What deviltry are they up to, I wonder " Nowv the remainder of the crew were awake and peering out over the rail at the rapidly-approaching boat, the occupants of which could be clearly dis- tinguished as two of the party for whom those on the schooner from Nassau were in search. "What are we to do" Joe asked in a whisper. "They mustn't be allowed to come on board or wve may have trouble in getting ri(l of them; and, be- sides, I don't fancy being shipmates with mnur- derers." " Of course they can't come over the rail," Bob replied angrily. "B Bring anything on deck that wsill serve in the place of weapons, an' we'll keep them at a distance. It's only two against two-without countin' the boys-an' I reckon we can hold our own !" Just as Joe disappeared inside the engine-room the new-comers, having arrived within thirty or 189 A R UNA WA Y BRIa. forty yards of the steamer, ceased rowing, as he with the red nose shouted: "Ahoy, on the tug !" "What do you want " Bob asked gruffly. "We've come to make a trade! The brig is aground on the shoal to the nor'ard of here, an' things shall be made fair an' square if you'll help us float her. I'll come aboard, where we can talk com- fortable-like." " That's exactly what you won't do while I've got strength enough to break your head !" " Now don't get grumpy over the little trick we played," the man said, in a wheedling tone. " Do you call it nothin' but a trick to steal a ves- sel an' leave five of us on a disabled tug, after we'd done what we could to keep you from starvin' " Bob shouted fiercely. "We knew there was plenty of grub aboard; you couldn't 'a' handled both crafts, so what we did was only dividin' things up. The Bonita is stranded now, an' will go to pieces in the first gale if you can't fix the tug to tow her off. We'll-" " The steamer couldn't be repaired in a month; but if she was in workin' order we wouldn't raise a hand toward savin' the brig while you were on board !" As Bob ceased speaking Joe came on deck with four lengths of iron pipe, each about three feet long, and the old sailor seized one of these with a look of exultation as he said to his companions: " I reckon they won't get over the rail while we can swing sich a handy club as this !" 190 A R UNA WAY BRIG. "They may have fire-arms," Joe suggested. "That ain't very likely, or they'd 'a' set us ashore ten minutes after we took 'em off the key." During this short conversation the two men were whispering together, and as the old sailor ceased speaking, he with the red nose cried, in a threaten- ing tone: " You sea-lawyers want to be mighty careful with your tongues, or there'll be trouble. I've come here to make a fair trade, an' you'd better listen to it. We'll help repair the tug, an' give up an equal share of the brig if you'll turn to with us an' get her off the shoal." "We wouldn't lift a finger if she was sinking with all three of you on board !" Joe shouted, unable to remain silent any longer. " There's been a schooner up here from Nassau since that trick, as you call it, was played on us, and if her crew ever get hold of your crowd it won't make any difference whether the Bonita goes to pieces or floats !" For an instant the two men sat motionless and silent, staring at the engineer as if stupefied by the information; and then the one with the red nose cried hoarsely, as he shook his fist in impotent rage: " We was wilMin' to give you a fair show, an' do our share toward repairin' the steamer; but if that can't be done, look out for squalls. We'll pull the brig off the shoals; and, what's more, it will be done with that steamer !" " Come an' take her !" Bob cried derisively. "You've got to get rid of us first, then repair the 191 A X UNA WA Y BJIG. machinery, an' afterwards learn to run it. By that time I reckon there'll be more gray hairs in your heads than there are now I" The angry man looked at the old sailor an instant as if about to make another threat, and then, evi- dently changing his mind, he spoke a few words to his companion, after which the two began to row leisurely toward the shore. The crew of the Sea Bird watched them in silence until the boat's bow grated on the sand, and as the men left her to go into the woods, Joe said: " If we worked lively it might be possible to tow that yawl out here before they knew what was being done. Then those two would be harmless, an' the one they've left on the brig wouldn't be able to do much mischief alone." "1 It could be done, I s'pose," Bob replied, thought- fully; "but I'd rather let 'em go away than stay so near. " But we shall have to be on guard all the time, for no one knows when they'll make an attempt to steal this steamer." " I can't see that we should be as well off to coop 'emi up on the island. We've got to take in a sup- ply of water from there before it'll be safe to leave the harbor, an' they'd interfere with sich a job mightily." This was a view of the case which Joe had entirely overlooked, and it was sufficient to show the folly of his hastily-formed plan. "They may try to stave our boat when they come 1 921 A RUNA WA Y BRIG. back," Jim suggested. "It could be done before we'd have a chance to stop 'em." "There's some truth in that, lad," Bob replied, quickly. " It won't (10 any harm to take her out of the water, so jump in an hook on the falls." When the yawl was hoisted inboard all hands seemed to realize that an encounter was extremely probable, even though the murderers could gain but little advantage in getting possession of a disabled steamer, and they gathered around Bob to learn what measures for defence he had to propose. "It's certain they won't try any game until the other man is here," lie said after a long pause, dur- ing which he scrutinized the shore closely, an'we'd better get ready for a fight. Jim, you an' Harry cook breakfast. Walter is to go on watch, and Joe an' I'll set about the work. Now that there is so much treasure aboard we must push the repairs for all we're worth." When the two cooks went below and the sentry took up his position in the pilot-house, Bob began making such preparations for defence as wvere pos- sible with the limited means at his command. The pieces of iron pipe were laid near the rail aft, where they could be most conveniently reached; the boat- hook and oars were taken from the yawl that they might be ready for use, and then the old sailor brought on deck the largest rocks he could find among the ballast. " There's about a dozen below that'll weigh ten or fifteen pounds apiece," lie said grimly in reply to 193 194 A RUNA WA Y BRIG. Joe's question of what he intended to do with such primitive weapons. " One of 'em would make some disturbance if it struck a boat's plankin' below the rail inside, an' I reckon we can pitch 'em pretty true if the villains should be foolish enough to make an attack." By the time the steamer had been put in a state of defence Jim announced that breakfast was ready, and the two men went below while the cook and Walter stood guard to give an alarm at the first appearance of the enemy. A R UNA WA Y BiR I1G. CHAPTER XXIII. PREPARATIONS. W,5 CHILE it was not possible that those who had V Vstolen the Bonita could gain possession of the tug so long as her crew exercised ordinary care, nor probable that they would make any very des- perate effort to do so in her disabled condition, every precaution was taken for the defense of the steamer and the safety of the treasure. Immediately after breakfast Bob, Joe and Ilarry went into the hold, and the work of stowing the bags among the ballast where it would escape obser- vation was begun. The gravel and rocks wvere first dug away until the keelson was exposed, and on this timber the gold was packed, after which everything was replaced as before, leaving the bags buried to the depth of six or eight inches. The hoard was thus hidden so securely that there was little chance that it would be found unless the searchers had positive informa- tion of its being on board. This work was hlrdly finished when Walter came below with the informnation that the two men were leaving the key, and Bob and Joe hurried on 195 -4 2 RUNAWA rBReI. deck, for it was by no means certain some demon- strations against the steamer would not be made. In this, however, they were happily mistaken. Neither he with the red nose nor the Mexican had any idea of trusting their precious bodies within reach of possible harm; but they stopped the boat fifty or sixty yards away while the leader shouted: "Do you still say that you wont lift a hand to- ward helpin' the brig off the shoal 8 "There's nothin' we're able to do," Bob replied. "The tug is as useless as a raft, an' it'll be three weeks at the very soonest before the screw can be turned. I'm willin', though, to say we wouldn't help vou if we could, so it's no use to do any chinnin'!" The red-nosed man appeared to think that some vent for his anger was absolutely necessary, and he catered to this feeling by shaking his fist threaten- ingly, after which the two rowed out of the cove. "I don't reckon them kind of monkey-shines will do us much harm," Bob said philosophically as lie walked slowly aft to where Joe had recommenced his long task of repairing the engine, as if time was too precious to be wasted on such villains as those in the boat. "If they're vise we sha'n't see so much as their noses again," the engineer said. " This craft wouldn't be of any service if we should offer to give her up, and the scoundrels ought to be in too much of a hurry to leave the vicinity, where the schooner from Nassau may put in at any moment, to waste much time on spite-work !" 19a A R UNA TWA Y BRIIG. " I reckon you're about right ; 1)ut at the same time, it stands us in hand to be ready if they should take it into their ugly heads to kick up a row. After we've made sure they're really gone I'll take two of the boys ashore an' bring off a cask of water. It's got to be done before we can leave, an' now's as good a time as any." There was nothing the remainder of the crew couldl do to help Joe, however disposed they might be for the task, and he made no objection to the plan, The yawl was lowered, an empty cask put on board, and, with Harry in the stern-sheets, Bo0 and Jim l)ulle(d the little craft out toward the open water until it was possil)le to see the enemy fully a mile awav as they rowed aroundL the key. "We're all right now," 1o3) sai(l after one glance at the two men. "There's no chance of them vil- lains getting back before we fill the cask; so head her for the shore, lad." It was a difficult job to get the water-butt, after it ha(l l)een filled, from the spring to the boat, alnd the forenoon was well-nigh spent wlhei the task had l)een acco!Implishlel. The o gly thin, in the laborers' favor wvas the fact that tlhe sun no longrer sent down such fervent rays upoon the p)atrched land. At about ten o'clock clouds began to gather, and had contin- ited to do so until the entire heavens were covered as I)y a veil, much to Bob's disquietude. -There's more than rain in them, lads," he said with an ominous shake of the head when they 197 1A R UNA WA Y BRIG. emerged from the thicket with the unwiel(ly bur- den. " If I ain't 'way out of my reckonin' -we'll get a capful of wind from the east before mornin', an' the Sea Bird stands a slim chance of keepin' off the shore." "With both anchors down I don't see how any harm can come to her, no matter how much of a gale we have," Harry replied as he gazed toward the trim little steamer, which was moored so securely bows and stern. "I'm afeared you'll have a chance of seein' how it can be done. This sandv bottom ain't the best holdin'-ground for an anchor, an' once she begins to drag nothin' can stop her. Ilowsomiever," lie added in a more cheerful tone. "w e needn't croak till the trouble comes; but it's best to get aboard lively an' make preparations for a dirty night. It won't take much of a wind to knock the brig to pieces if she's on the outer edge of the shoal, so we can reckon on that re(l-nosed villain an' his mates coinin' ashore about sunset." It was necessary for the rowers to exert all their skill and strength on the oars to prevent the yawl from being swanil)ed (lduring the return to the steamer. Already had the sea begun to rise, and the white-capped waves which now beat heavily against the shore gave token of what force they would exert when roused to fury by the east wind, which was causing the trees to wave helplessly to and fro against the gray sky. The little boat was loaded to the gunwales, and 1998 A R UNA WA Y BRIG. despite every effort the green water rushed in over the rail very often, much to Harry's alarm. By pulling around to the starboard bow of the steamer, where they would be partially sheltered from both wind and wave, it was possible to get the heavy cask on board without mishap, after which the yawl was hooked on the falls and hoisted up; otherwise she would speedily have been stove to pieces against the larger craft. " It looks as if we were to have a bad night," Joe said when the work was finished and all hands went aft once more. " The worst we could have," Bob replied gloomily. "The chances are the steamer will be driven ashore, and there's no question about those villains leaving the brig; so unless this wind takes a different slant before sunset we can count on bein' penned up on the island with them as jolly companions. But we can't afford to moon 'round very long tellin' what's goin' to happen, for there's plenty of work to be done. The awnin' must be taken down an' the cables overhauled." Then he called for the boys to " bear a hand," and soon all were busily preparing for what was appar- ently the inevitable. By the time the deck had been cleared and every- thing made snug the Sea Bird was dancing about like a cork, flinging the spray fore and aft as she came up on the cables with a thud that caused the timbers to creak, or plunging her bow under until the deck was awash. 199 A R UNA WrA Y P Pi, !T. At five o'clock in the afternoon the gale was full upon them, coming directly out of the east, and so furiously (lid the little craft toss and pitch that Bob took the precaution of stretching life-lines fore and aft. The cables had been slackened to give plenty of scope; but she overrode the bow anchor until one wouldl have fancied, from the savage jerks which the steamer gave, that it had been hove short. There was no thought of cooking. Jim could hardly have remained on his feet in the galley, for the swell was shorter and more violent than it would have been on the open ocean; therefore the anxious ones were forced to eat dry ship's-biscuit with the poor consolation in mind that before morning all their stores might be at the bottom of the sea. The boys were in the pilot-house, where they could have a view of all that was going on and yet be in a position to render immediate assistance if it was needed. Joe and Bob remained on deck despite the spray which fell like rain; and the former said to the ol0( sailor toward night, as he made his way forward after great difficulty: "We can get some pleasure out of the fact that the men haven't conic ashore from the brig. There's no chance of their making harbor in the teeth of this wind, and we can count on having got ridl of them." "That's where you make a mistake, my hearty. They most likely landed two or three hours ago, runnin' down the western shore, where they'd find sheltered water. Them men ain't fools if they are 200 A X UNA IVA Y BRIG. villains, an' by noon knowed the brig couldn't hold together much longer. The chances are she was bilged two hours ago, an' has gone to pieces by this time." Joe went aft again, looking more disconsolate than ever. He had felt positive the enemy had not aban- doned the vessel, and his disappointment was all the greater because this hope had been so strong. When the gray light of day gave place to the darkness of night the anchors still held; but the steamer was laboring so much on account of the bow hawser that Bob decided it would be neces- sary to shift the strain, despite the danger attendant upon such an undertaking. "All hands on deck !" he shouted at the door of the pilot-house, adding warningly, as the boys crept out, " keep a firm hold of the life-lines, lads, for he who falls overboard will stand a poor chance of sav- ing himself." To make the proposed change it wras necessary to carry the cable astern after it was cast off the bitt, for all the slack had long since been let out, and rapidity of movement was as essential as strength. "Wait till she buries her nose once more, an' then rush when she rises," Bob shouted as he threw off two or three turns of the rope. Up, up the little craft rose as the great green waves swept beneath, and then when the hawser checked her and the fall began, the signal was given: "All hands with a will now !" the old sailor i2M) A R UNA WA I BRIG. shouted; and in an instant the crew were rushing madly aft, the heavy cable nearly dragging them from their feet. Bob had been correct as to the precise time when this maneuver should be executed; but he failed to give due consideration to the force the under-tow would exert in such shoal water. The hawvser had but just been loosened from the bitt when the drag of the waters began. All hands clung with a force born of desperation; but their efforts were vain. A crew of giants could not have resisted the strain upon the vet, iron-like rope, and Bob shouted wil(lly when he was almost at the taffrail: " Let go! For your lives let go !" Fortunately this order was obeved before any one had been injured in the rush, and as the hawser dis- appeared over the stern Joe muttered half to him- self, but so loud that Harry could distinguish the words: "We've done all we could to wreck the little craft. It would have been better to let her labor with the risk of chafing the rope apart, rather than deliberately throw one anchor away when two hardly held her 1" 2 0,2 A le UA WVA Y BRI 2G3 CHAPTER XXIV. ASHORE. T HE rain, which was now falling in torrents, the 1driving surf, and the pitching of the steamer, all served to make it difficult to keep one's footing on the slippery planks, and Jim motioned his com- panions to follow him into the pilot-house, for now that the hawser had been swallowed up by the waves their services were no longer required outside. " Stay on deck !" Bob cried, as he saw them mov- ing away, and forced to shout at the full strength of his lungs in order to make himself heard above the roar of the tempest. " In case she strikes you must be where there's a chance of savin' your lives. Get under the lee of the house for'ard, an' hold on for all you're worth!" After some considerable difficulty the boys suc- ceeded, by working along the life-lines, in reaching the bow, where, partially protected by the pilot- house, it was possible to remain in comparative shelter. " Do you think the tug will be wrecked, Jim " Harry asked. "I reckon she'll drive ashore." "Then we shall be no better off than if we hadn't 203 A RUA VW 1 A BRIG. found the pirates gold, for o& course it'll all be lost." " Not unless she goes to pieces !" Jim replied in a decidedly shaky voice; and then, as if this subject was an unpleasant one, he changed it by asking, with- out any idea the question would be answered: "What's Bob doin' aft so long Ile can't expect to pick up that hawser ag'in, an' it's more danger- ous there than here !" "le's coming now," Walter replied as he crept to the corner of the house; andl at the same instant that a huge w--av-e rolled inboard, sweeping the decks with almost irresistible violence, the old sailor and Joe appeared, literally working their way hand over hand by means of the life-line. Arriving under the lee of the pilot-house they halted, and waited in silence for the shock which should tell that the Sea Bird had been forced into shoal water. This unpleasant information was not long delayed. The little steamer pitched an(l plunged mnore vio- lently than before, but without the sickening motion of being dragged under, which was alparent when the bow anchor lleld, and after ten iminutes of this wild tossing she lurched forward suddenly as if the screw had been set in lotion. "Hold on for your lives!" Bob shouted, and a moment later the tuio struck heavily, with such force thlat l)ut for the timely warning more than one of the crew would have been hurled forward. All hands waited with bated breath for the suo- 21 i 4 A R UNA WA Y BRIG. ceeding shocks which would tell that she was pound- ing herself to pieces on the sand ; but much to their surprise nothing of the kind was felt. "The stern anchor is holding her down!" Bob shouted to Joe, and the words were hardly spoken when the water dashed forward, flooding the decks even with the rail. "We'll be drowned here in short order!" Joe cried as he struggled toward the boys. " Get into the pilot-house, if you can, for the danger is less there while the decks are being swept !" Fortunately for all hands the door opened at the top of a short flight of stairs above the level of the rail, and this the engineer succeeded in opening by watching his opportunity between the heavy waves. Harry and Walter gained this shelter before the sea rushed forward again, and at the next interval of comparative quiet the remainder of the party joined them. It was now possible to converse without actually shouting, and Joe was eager to understand why the tug remained immovable when in the ordinary course of events she should be beating herself to pieces on the shoal. " The anchor slipped enough to let her drive ahead a bit," Bob said, inl explanation, "an' then brought up just as she struck. Youll most likely find the hawvser taut as an iron bat; and that, to- ,ether with the hold the sand has -ot on her nose, keeps everything firm." "And if the anchor should give way once more she'd break up P" 205 A R UN I WA7,71 r BRGr. "There's no doubt about that; but I've got an idee the wind hasn't got as much force as it had half an hour ago. If the timbers will stand that poundin' astern there's a chance of our gettin' outer this scrape after all. even though things do look so tough." It was but natural that all hands should devote their entire attention to ascertaining if the gale really was abating, since this was their only hope, and when another half-hour had elapsed the question was decided. The seas still beat against the stranded steamer with the same violence, but the rain had nearly ceased, and the wind no longer howled around the doomed craft with its former fury. When this became an assured fact, it was, as nearWv as Bob could judge, about midnight; and the weary boys thought with dismay of the many hours which must elapse before they could gain a place of absolute safety. " Lie down and go to sleep, if you can," the old sailor said, much as if he knew of w.-hat they were thinking. "I reckon the worst is over, an' since it's only a question of waitin' you'd best get all the rest possible." The boys followed this suggestion by curling themselves up on the cushioned locker; and, strange as it may seem, they fell asleep in a very short time despite the howling wind and raging waters. Weari- ness of bo(ly was greater than fear, and even in the midst of deadly dangers they crossed the borders of dreamland. 206 A UNA WAY BRIG. Bob and Joe kept watch, and as the hours wore on the couriers of the coming dawn dispersed the storm-clouds until the heavens were smiling blue once more, and the waves no longer uplifted their crests in anger. "There's as big a danger passed as ever sailor- men stood face to face with,!" Bob said, giving vent to a long-drawn sigh of relief. "The little craft is hard and fast aground, of course; but six hours ago it didn't seem as if anything could save her from goin' to pieces, an' this same crowd here have got a mighty big reason for bein' thankful !" The decks were yet awash, and would probably continue so for several hours, or until tile waters of the tiny harbor had subsided into their former quie- tude; but it was possible to make one's way fore and aft without danger, as Joe proved when the day had dawned. All the doors and hatches were securely closed when the gale first sprung up; therefore everything below was in much the same condition as before the storm. There had not water enough entered the seams or crevices to injure the stores, and the hull was comparatively free, as Bob learned on trying the hand-pump. " I don't reckon we can count on leavin' this key in the Sea Bird," he said as he dropped the lead over the bow.l "She has stuck her nose mighty deep in the sand, an' though that cable is strainin' hard astern, there's little chance it will work her off." .)O I T A 1 UNA WA Y BRIG. "And according to your ideas, those who stole the Bonita are ashore somewhere; so as long as we're obliged to stay here it's safe to say there's a chance of trouble from them " " That's about the size of it, my hearty; but they may take a notion to put to sea, for it's likely their boat was cared for after comin' ashore. Howsom- ever, we won't look trouble in the face before it comes. Let's rouse up the boys an' get breakfast under way, for I'm growin' sharkish." It is needless to make any attempt at depicting the joy of those in the pilot-bouse, when they opened their eyes, to see the bright sun smiling and the ra- ging winds subsiding into the gentlest zephyrs that were ever wafted over a coral reef. This decided change was so pleasing that, despite all the trouble which surrounded them, they were very cheerful. Jim bustled about in the galley as if cooking was the one delight of his life, and while Bob and Joe raised once more the awning to shelter them from the burning rays of the sun, Harry and Walter did their best toward spreading the breakfast-table in such a manner that it would at least look inviting. The onlv immediate trouble which might be apprehended was from those who had probably taken refuge on the key, and with this they were confronted much sooner than the most timid ex- pected. Harry had just come on deck to announce that breakfast was ready, when a shout from the shore caused all hands to glance in that direction, where 28 A PUNA 7tA i'AI;G. could be seen the rcl-nosed man and his companions emerging from the thicket. "H alloo !" he shouted in a friendly tone, and without replying Bob held u1) his hand in token that the hail had been heard. "The brig has gone to pieces, an' we're here with no chance of leavin' the key," the man continued, much as if giving valuable information. "Where's the boatl You canie ashore in one, I reckon." "Yes: but she went adrift (luring the gale." "If you coul(ln't take better care of her there's no reason wvihy you sliouldn't stil there till the schooner from Nassau puts in here ag(ain !" Joe shouted angrily. " We're aground, and likely to remain so; but that's no reason why there should be any communication between us!" "Will you send us some grub ashore " the red- nosed man asked after a short pause, during which lie stood as if trying to control his anger. "Not so much as a biscuit if you were hungry but that can't be, for it isn't likely you put off from the brig without provisions." 'i All right !" the man cried with a threatening gesture. "Y ou can do as you please an' we've got tile same privilege, so it's a question as to who has the best end of the trade !" "They thought we might be fools enough to take some grub ashore, when all three of 'eni were ready to seize the boat," Bob said, as the men (lisapl)pelaedI in the thicket. " It's a case of standin' by with our 12119! 210 A R UNA WA Y BRIG. weal tier-eye- liftin', for if their yawl has gone adrift they'll try hard to steal ours. I'll go on watch while the rest of you get breakfast, for the water around the bow ain't so deep but that they can wade out here ;" and the old sailor seated himself on the starboard rail as Joe and the boys went into the for- ward cabin A R UNA IVA Y BRIG. CHAPTER XXV. A SERIOUS LOSS. TOE STOOD guard in turn while Bob ate his J breakfast, the boys setting things to rights in the cabin and galley, and wlihn the old sailor came on deck again the question of what should be done vas discussed. "There ain't much chance we can do anything toward floating the steamer until after the ma- chinery has been repaired," the engineer said, by way of beginning the conversation; "and before that can be done she will have settled so deep in the sand that the screw won't have any effect." "That's jes' about the way I figger it out," Bob reallied, as a troubled look came over his face. "The cable will stop her from workin' ahead; but she'll keep on settlin' jes' the same." " And if w e can't float her there's but one other course to pursue, which is to take to the yawl and run our risk of reaching Nassau." "There ain't much risk about it. She'll carry all hands an' the gold without crowdin'; an' as for danger, why, bless you, we can make harbor among these keys almost any hour in the day. It's aban- donin' a sound craft like this that makes me sore," 211 1A X UIVA WAY BRIG. and Bob gave vent to a deep sigh of sorrow or dis- appointment. " But if it must be done, the sooner we start the better." " You're right, Joe, an' it ain't any use to whine about what can't be helped. If that rascally crew weren't ashore we might make one try to float her; but as they are there, an' can't get away very soon, we'd better go to work. If you'll find somethin' that'll answer for a mast, I'll cut the steamer's fore- sail into a leg-o'-mutton sail for the boat, an' by to- morrow we can make a start." When the boys came on deck, they were surprised at seeing the two men engaged in rigging the yawl instead of trying to float the Sea Bird; and after the proposed plan had been explained, Jim was thoroughly dissatisfied, although lie took good care not to betray such fact to Joe or Bob. " It's just foolishness to abandon this steamer!" he said to the boys when the three were compara- tively alone forward. " We've lost the brig that would have brought in a big lot of money through the salvage, an' now we're goin' to leave the Sea Bird for them murderers!" "With the gold-pieces we've got in the hold 1 don't think there's any reason to feel very badly about what might have been made out of the Bonita," Harry said laughingly "It's a fact that we can't do very much while that crowd on the key stand ready to take every possible advantage, and neither Walter nor I are sorry to go away in the 212 A LRUNV.AI1A iY BlU6'. morning, no matter how much must be left be- hind." "Don't you care whether the steamer goes to pieces or not " Jim asked almost angrily. "Of course we'd like to save her if it could be done quickly; but we had rather get home than have a dozen tugs just like her, and the sooner the yawl is under way the sooner our parents wvill know where we are." "B lut they must have found out all about it long before this," Jim said calmly "How could that be " "The captain of the schooner promised to report us, an' your fathers have read the whole story in the papers by this time." "But we can't get home any too soon," Walter said decidedly; and the conversation was brought to an abrupt conclusion as Jim went sulkily into the galley, where, a few minutes later, a terrible clatter- ing of pots and pans told of his displeasure. There was no slight amount of work to be done before the little party could be ready to abandon the Sea Bird. The journey to Nassau nmiight be a long one because of bafiling winds, .and plenty of food must be cooked. There were no kegs or small casks aboard, consequently it would be necessary to fill all'the bottles andi cans with water; antid in addi- tion, Bob and Joe would be occupied a greater pet tion of the day in rigging the yawl. The uproar in the galley reminded the old sailor that very much should be done in that quarter, and 213 A R UNA WA 1' BRIG. the only benefit Master Jim derived from his out- burst of ill-temper was such as might be extracted from an order to cook all the grub he could between then and sunset. During the day nothing was seen of the party on the key. Toward the close of the afternoon a thin thread of smoke, which apparently arose from the western shore, told they were still there, and also that the intimation of a scarcity of food was false. "They've most likely got more provisions, than we have," Bob said as Joe called his attention to the smoke. " It's safe to sav that the boat was loaded with cabin-stores, an' I'll bet a farthing's worth of silver spoons they haven't lost so much as a biscuit." "Although we have no reason to sympathize with them in any way, I'm glad to know they're not hungry," Joe replied gravely. Until half an hour before sunset all hands worked industriously, and then the task had been accom- plished, with the exception of putting the treasure and stores on board. The yawl was rigged with as much canvas as could safely be carried in a fair sail- ing breeze, allnl was made fast alongside ready to receive her cargo when another day should dawn. "It won't take half an hour to load," Bob said in a tone of satisfaction as he scrutinized the result of his labor, "an' we'll buckle (town to stowin' away part of what Jim has cooked to-day. You take the first watch on deck, Joe, for I don't calculate it'll be safe to trust the boys after dark, an' I'll spell you when I'm through supper." 214 A R UNA WA Y BRIG. Bob had decided that a vigilant watch must be kept during the night, although he did not believe the enemy would make any demonstrations, and an hour after supper all hands save the engineer " turned in " on mattresses spread under the awn- ing. At ten o'clock Joe called the old sailor to his trick on deck, and he in turn was aroused at midnight, for the watches were only of two hours' duration. When Joe came on duty the second time all ani- mate objects appeared to be in a state of the most complete repose. Not a sound could be heard save the musical ripple of waters on the beach or the faint murmur of the night-wind as it sung gently among the foliage. Owing to the wakefulness and excitement of the previous night, together with the exertions of the day just passed, Joe's eyes were heavy with sleep, and in order to shake off the drowsiness which pressed upon him he paced softly to and fro on the port side of the deck. It was unfortunate for the Sea Bird's crew that he chose that particular place for a promenade. Had he walked on the starboard side of the house it would have been possible to see by the faint sheen of the waters a small, round object that apparently floated out from the shore directly toward where the yawl was moored. Perhaps it might have aroused his curiosity, if not his suspicion, and that would have been sufficient to prevent a serious loss. 215 A R UNA WA 7 BRIG. As it was, however, he continued the promenade. bent only on keeping his eyes open, and the black sphere came nearer and nearer until one could have distinguished the countenance of the Mexican who had assisted in stealing the Bonita. Slowly but steadily the head advanced, causing hardly a ripple on the water, until it was hidden in the deep shadow cast by the steamer's hull. Then a hand, in which was held an open knife, appeared above the surface as its fellow grasped the yawl's painter. One quick, noiseless stroke and the rope was sev- ered, after which the head and hands disappeared. Joe continued to pace the deck ignorant of what was taking place so near him, and inch by inch the yawl drifted toward the shore until fully three- quarters of the distance from the steamer to the key had been traversed, when the form of a man rose out of the wvater, which at that particular point was not more than three feet deep, and drew her boldly in on the beach. At two o'clock the engineer awakened Bob to stand what was now a useless watch, and half an hour later all hands were startled into wakefulness by his loud cry: "The yawl has gone adrift !" As they sprung to their feet in alarm he drew in the bit of rope that hung loosely from the rail, and after one glance at the severed end said angrily: "We're nice sailors, we are! Thought the boys couldn't stand watch, an' took the job ourselves 21 6 A R UNA WAY BRIG. only to have them villains steal the boat from under our noses! This rope has been cut, so there's no chance she went adrift by accident !" Joe insisted that he did not close his eyes while on duty, and Bob was equally certain that lie kept vigilant watch; therefore there was no possibility cf ascertaining when the theft hla(l been committed. "The yawl is gone!" the old sailor said grinmly after a long pause, " an' that's all we need to know just now. How she went don't make very much difference; but I'd like to have that red-nosed man within reach of my fist about three minutes !" This last misfortune seemed a most severe one in the boys' eyes, and for fully a quarter of an hour Jim w-as nearly speechless from excess of indigna- tion and apprehension. "It seems like we was never going to get clear of this island," he said in a whisper when Bob and Joe went forward thinking it might be possible to see the stolen boat. " I believe the pirates' gold has something to (to with our bad luck, an' I wish. we'd never found that letter." " I don't see why you should feel out of sorts," Harry said in a sorrowvful tone. " You Nvere angry because we proposed to abandon the steamer, and now that it's impossible to get away you oughlt to lbe contented." " Stayin' here without a boat to go ashore in is a different thing from bein' able to sail anywhere atroun(l the key," Jim replied, and then he relapsed into silence once more. 217 A R UNA WAY BRIG. The conversation between Bob and Joe was no more satisfactory than that carried on by the boys. As a matter of course they had not been able to see the boat, which was now completely hidden in the shadow of the trees, and after straining their eyes in vain for some time the old sailor said, impatiently: " What's the use of standin' here like fools when we know she's hauled up somewhere along the beach We'll turn in, an' after sunrise try to think out another plan which will come to the same end this has !" " I have a mind to swim ashore and settle matters now with those villains !" Joe said angrily. " You would be the one to get settled, I reckon ;" and Bob had so nearly recovered his composure as to laugh at the engineer's expense. "Both of us together wouldn't stand any show, more especially in the night, when they'd have all the advantage. Turn in with the boys, an' I'll stand watch till I'm sleepy." 218 A le LIAA WA Y BRIG. CHAPTER XXVI. BOLD THIEVES. THE OLD sailor remained on duty until the day began to break. The loss of the yawl troubled him more than he cared to say, and this, together with the possibility that she might have been taken during his watch, drove all desire for sleep from his eyes. When the yellow shafts of light shot up from the eastern sky to herald the ap)proach of dawn he awakened his companions, an(l while the boys went into the galley to commence the labors of the day, he and Joe stood on the forward-bitt, eagerly scan- ning the surrounding shore for somne signs of the boat. In this they were not to be disappointed, for as the shadows retreated the yawl stood revealed on the beach at the point where the Sea Bird's crew emerged from the thicket when staggering under the weight of the pirates' gold, and standing near, as if examining their stolen prize, were the three men. " There's one good thing about it," Bob said grimly. " By losin' our boat we shall get rid of Mr. 219 A R UNA WAY BRIG. Red-nose and his friends, an' I ain't sure but we'll be sellin 'em reasonably cheap." Joe was so enraged by the sight that he could made no reply, and the old sailor continued half to himself: " It won't be sich a terrible job, after they've gone, to build a raft that'll carry us ashore, an' p'rhaps the outcome of it'll be our savin' the steamer." The watchers had not long to wait before it be- came apparent that the party on shore did not in- tend to delay their departure. All three busied themselves with bringing bundles and boxes from the thicket after the survey of the boat was ended, and in less than half an hour the !ittle craft had a full load. A light breeze came from the west, and after stepping on board it was only necessary to row the yawl a short distance from the shore when the sail filled, causing her to glide slowly toward the open sea. Bob and Joe watched these maneuvers in silence without heeding Jim's announcement that breakfast was ready, and much to the astonishment of both, the sail was brailed up wvhlen the boat reached a point nearly oI)1)osite the steaiiier. "I'll be b)low ed if thev htaven't got the nerve to speak us !" the old sailor exclaimed; and almost at the same moment the red-nosed man shouted, as he raised his hat in mock politeness: "We're sorry to leave you here aground, and without a tender; but you didn't feel like makin' 220 A X UNA WA Y PRIG. ony friendly talk to us yesterday mornin', so we had to help ourselves. I had an idee we'd get the best end of the trade. if it come to bein' disagreeable !" "Don't worry about us!!" Bob shouted angrily. We're glad to get rid of you at any price; but my advice is that you give Nassau a pretty wide berth !" "W We should be ungrateful if we did not heed the counsel of those who have rigged the boat for us in such a satisfactory manner!" the Mexican replied with a laugh; and then the sheet was hauled aft once more and the little craft laid on such a course as would bring her close past the southerly point of the harbor. Bob and Joe remained silent and motionless until the thieves were shut out from view by the land, and then the former said, with an attempt to speak cheerfully: "That ends 'em, so far as we are concerned, an' its best not to think of tlil scoundrels ag'in. We've either got to take up our quarters on the island or rig some plan for floatin' the steamer, an' I reckon that'll occupy pretty muchl all our time. Let's get breakfast, an' then decide wvhat's to be (lone." There was no necessity for spending many mo- inents on (leliherations when the morning meal had been eaten, for whatever minght be done, the first step was to establish communication with the shore, and this Joe proposed to (1o when lie came on deck a gain. The thieving crew were nowhere in sight, as V )1 A 2A UNA WA Y BRIG. would have been the case had they sailed in almost any other than a southerly direction, and it seemed probable that the yawl had been headed toward Nassau despite the danger the men would incur of being arrested. " I only hope they'll fool around in the vicinity until that schooner comes back and captures every one!" Joe said in anything rather than a friendly tone, after taking a deliberate survey of such por- tion of the ocean as could be seen from the tug; and then he added abruptly, as if determined to put all unpleasant thoughts far from his mind, " Now, what about getting on shore, Bob " "We must rig up some kind of a raft, I reckon, an' then stretch one of the heavin' lines so's she can be pulled back and forth without too much work." "Jim, you and Harry overhaul the lines," Joe said as he began to undress; "and while Bob is building the raft I'll swim ashore." "Don't do it !" the old sailor cried, warningly. "There are too many sharks around these keys to make swimmin' very safe sport !" " We sha'n't be likely to find them in such shoal water. The boys can stay near the bowv, and with all hands on the lookout I don't fancy there'll be much danger," Joe replied carelessly, as he knotted around his waist the line Jim brought." Then without more ado he leaped overboard; and so shallow was the cove at this point that hardly a dozen strokes were necessary before his feet touched the bottom, and he waded ashore to where a man- grove grew near the edge of the bank. 222 A X UNA WA Y BRIG. Around this lhe fastened the rope, and then re- turned to the steamer, saying, as lie stepped on board: "The Sea Bird crawled pretty well up on the shoal before the anchor caught." Yes," Bob replied sadly ; "she's got so much sand under her nose that I'm afraid she'll stay here, unless-which ain't at all likely-some steamer puts in. I was reckonin' on usin' timbers from the bulk- head for a raft; but seein's how there ain't much trouble in gettin' ashore it'll be best for the boys to make one out of tree-trunks while you keep to work on the engine." " Are you countin' on livin' ashore" Jim asked, anxiously. "1 We may be glad to, lad, if another gale springs up. We'll be ready to abandon the little steamer if the worst comes; but all hands are to work tryin' to float her jes' the same as if we believed it could be done." The boys were not loath to be on the land once more. They undressed with alacrity, after bringing from below the axes and hatchets, and with their clothes packed in an emnpty cask from out of which one of the heads had been taken, they leaped over- board like a party of frogs. " Cut about twenty medium-sized trees, and drag them to the beach after trimming off the branches !" Joe shouted as they landed. The boys dressed quickly, for the swarms of mosquitoes rendered clothes very necessary, and at 223 A R UNA WAY BRIG. once set about the task of chopping, selecting such mangroves and palms as grew nearest the shore, in order to avoid, so far as possible, the labor of haui- ing them through the thick underbrush. Then Bob and Joe began their portion of the labor. Although the old sailor believed the tug to be immovably fixed upon the sand. he did not pro- pose to neglect anything which would tend to extri- cate her. Of course it was possible something might occur to better her condition; and in such an improbable event it was necessary she should be in working order. Besides, as he said to Joe, " it was as well to have a job on hand to occupy their atten- tion as to idle the time away on the key." By noon the bovs had collected sufficient materials for the raft, and Bob swam ashore to assist in build-' ing it. Using ropes and vines instead of nails, which were very precious just then, quite a serviceable raft was put together, and on it, by the aid of the rope Joe had stretched ashore, all hands pulled themselves out to tile steamer. The 1)oys went into the galley to prepare dinner, and after it had been eaten the weary crew indulged in a long siesta, for the heat was alniost overpower- ing. There was no thought of standing watch, now their enemies had left the island, an(l everybody gave himself up to the desire for slumber which madle his evelids lieavv. No one was sleeping very soundly, and Bob had only fallen into a doze, when 2-44 A R UNA IVA Y Blc3G. a report as loud as would have been caused by the discharge of a musket rang out on the still air, caus- ing boys and men to leap to their feet in alarm. " What was it " Joe asked, as lhe gazed around in bewilderment, but without seeing any living thing either on the sea or land. " I'm blest if I know !" Bob replied, in a tone of perplexity. " It sounded close aboard; but how can Say, is there anything below which could explode " " Not when there's no steam on." The old sailor stood staring at the shore in silence, evidently seriously disturbed, and the three boys gathered around him in alarm. They had ex- perienced so much which was both mysterious and terrible since the morning of the sail in the Sally Walker, that to them every unusual sound or move- ment meant further disaster, and Bob's palpable fear caused something very like horror to come upon them. Joe had mechanically started forward, and before reaching the pilot-house he shouted, to the intense relief of all: "We were more scared than hurt this time! It was only the heaving-line. It has parted, and in doing so made the noise; but I don't understand how there could be so much strain." Bob glanced ashore quickly, assured himself that one end of the rope was still made fast to the tree, and then cried triumphantly as he pointed astern: " There's where the strain came from! The sun 225 226 A RUNAWAYBRIG. has been dryin' the hawser till it pulled the tug back far enough to break the line! That shows how much can be done by tryin' ! The Sea Bird is ready to come off the shoal if -we help her a bit; so turn to, lads, an' work for all you're worth till she's in deep water once more!" The slackened hawser, which a short time previ- ous had been so taut, told that Bob's explanation was the correct one, and there was no necessity to urge either the boys or Joe any further. To have a chance of saving the little steamer after all had firmly believed she was helplessly stranded aroused every member of the crew as nothing else, save the actual arrival of friends, could have done. A R UNA WA Y BRIG. CHAPTER XXVIL THE CULMINATION OF DISASTERS. THE FIRST thing necessary was to ascertain exactly what portion of the steamer's hull was imbedded in the sand, and this Bob proceeded to do with the lead-line. It was found that only about twenty feet of the keel rested on the shoal, the remainder overhanging four or five fathoms of water. The tide was at its highest point, which accounted for the movement of the steamer as the hawser shrank, and Bob cried in a cheery tone: " I reckon it won't be impossible to launch the little craft, after all. By bringing the hawser on to the winch, shiftin' the ballast aft, an' heavin' down with every ounce of muscle we've got, somethin' oughter lie (lone at the next tide." Every one was ready to exert himself to the ut- most, and in a very short space of time the heavy rope was b)rouglht to the winch, after which all hands tugged and strained at the bars until the cable ha(l been hove taut agrain. That (lone, there was an opportunity for rest. It would be useless to attempt anything more until the 227 2 A R UNVA Y BRIG. now receding waters should rise again, which would be the case twelve hours later, and the little crew gathered under the awning aft to discuss the new phase of affairs, while Joe continued his work on the metal; for this task, apparently so useless a few hours previous, had suddenly become very im- portant. " The question is, how long may we have to stop here after the tug's afloat " Bob remarked as he lighted his pipe, and began once more to select from the timbers taken out of the cabin such as could be used on the shattered hull. " By hard work it may be done in a week's time," Joe replied after some thought. "Then you'll keep steady at it while me an' the boys 'tend to the other matters. You sha'n't be called to turn your hand on anything else till thas is done. Have we got coal enough for a three-hun- dred-mile run" Joe shook his head. " I'm afraid not; but by taking on some wood we ought to lie able to make it, for I suppose you're counting on going to Nassau " " That's the nearest port ; an' we'll see to choppin' fuel when she's afloat, an' I've patched the bow a leetle more ship-shape." During the remainder of the day, when they were not engaged in the galley, Joe had some trifling work which couldl be performed by the boys, and his every command was obeyed with alacrity, for all hands were eager to utilize each moment in prepar- ing for departure. 228 A R UNA WA Y BRIG. That night a watch was kept, although there was nothing to be feared from their late enemies. Bob proposed to have some more exercise at the wvinch when the tide was at its full height again, and to that end it was necessary one of the party should remain awake to arouse the others at the proper time. This work, however, had no other result than that of awakening the weary sleepers unnecessarily. Labor as they did to the utmost of their strength, the steamer was not moved so much as a single inch, and the old sailor said, after realizing the uselessness of the task: We'll have to shift everything aft, I reckon, be- fore it's possible to pull her off this blessed sand. After sunset to-morrow we'll tackle tile job, an' by the second tide have another turn at the winch." ILa(l the weary ones known just how fortunate they were in thus failing to pull the Sea Bird into deep water there woul(l have been fair less repining as they laid (Iowsn once more on the mattresses un- der the awning. The gray light of approaching dawn had but just begun to steal across the sky when 13ob callel all hands for another day's labor, and when the sun showed himself above the horizon each member of the crewv was busily engaged. Jim had positive orders to finish his task in the galley in the least possible time, because Joe wished to use the stove as a forge; and the breakfast was bay no means elaborate, coffee being the only thing served hot, 229 A R UNA WA Y BRIG. "There isn't anything you boys can do on board this mornin', an' I reckon you'd better begin the job of cuttin' fuel to help out on the coal," Bob said when the rather unsatisfactory repast was brought to a close. "How are we to get ashore " Harry asked. "The raft went adrift when the heaving - line partedl." "i She didn't go very far. Look off the port bows an' You'll see her on the beach. It won't be much of a job for Jim to run another rope out, an' he'll be all the better for a bath." The Young fisherman was not averse to what was little less than sport, and if lie did spend consider- ably more time in the wlater than was absolutely necessary, no one could say any had really been waste(d. When the raft was in working order once. more Harry andl Walter clamnbered on l)oard, an(l soon the shores of the harbor resounded Iwith the balows of their axes. O(ings to the scarcity of tools it was only )ossilble for two to work at a time, conse- qjuentlX each had a certain number of minutes in which to rest. It was after they had been on shore about two hours that Walter, (luring his idle moments, wvan- dere(l out froin the thicket to see if there had by chance been any change in the steamer's position, and he had not left his colnl)anions more than five minutes when they heard himm shout " Come here, fellows, and see if you can tell what 230 A I UNA WA Y BRIG. Joe is doing. It looks to me as if there was a big lot of smoke from the galley." Not thinking it possible there could be anything wrong on the steamer, neither Jim nor Harry obeyed the summons very quickly, and when five minutes more had elapsed they were yet in the thicket. " Harry! I'm sure there's some trouble aboard!" he shouted, and this time it was the tone rather than the words which caused them to move quickly. On arriving where a view of the steamer could he had, Joe and Bob were seen working industriously under the awning; but a thick, black smoke was flowing out of the companion-way. The light breeze carried it shoreward; consequently the laborers, from whom it was hidden by the (l'ek- house, were wholly ignorant of what seemed to Walter very alarming. It did not require many seconds for Jim to make up his mind as to the cause of this unusual vapor, and his face grew pale as he cried sharply: "The steamer is on fire! Hurry up an' get aboard!" Then as he ran at full speed along the shore he shouted loudly, " Bob! Bob! Fire! Fire !" These cries were heard by the workmen before the boys gained the raft, and on glancing shoreward the tell-tale smoke was seen. In an instant both men were forward, and, after stopping only the merest fraction of time to investi- gate matters, Bob began to draw up water with the deck-bucket, thus giving full confirmation to the 231 A R UNA WAY BRIG. fears of those on the raft, who were pulling des. perately toward the steamer. Both men were working with the utmost speed, dashing water into the companion-way, and causing the smoke to rise in yet denser volumes. Only once did either speak, and then when Bob shouted in a hoarse voice: "1 Hurry on, lads; we'll need all hands at this job if the steamer is to be saved !" This injunction was unnecessary, for the boys were making every effort to propel the raft at the swift- est possible rate of speed. The water boiled around the forward timbers as if a strong current was setting down toward them, and there was every danger that in their haste the frail craft would be forced asunder. Long though the time occupied in the passage appeared to be when so much might depend upon an early arrival, it was really not more than five minutes from the time the boys left the shore until they were on deck searching for some article in which water could be carried. With the exception of the two buckets used by Bob and Joe, everything of the kind was in the galley, and after a hurried, frantic search of the cabin anid engine-room, the boys went forward empty-handed. "There isn't so much as a dipper here I" Jim screamed. " An' it's jes' as well," Bob replied hoarsely, as a volume of flame burst from the companion-way. 232) A R UNA WA F BRIG. " Nothin' less than a fire-engine would do any good now. It's time we saved what'll be needed ashore. Knock off, Joe, an' we'll load the raft." The engineer was not willing to give up the struggle so easily. le worked like a fury, dashing water on the roaring, leaping flames, which were already sending out long streams on the tar-covere(l seams; and not until the fire had full possession of the forward portion did he cease his more than use- less labors to assist the others. Meanwhile Bob and the boys had been throwing bedding, tools, and every article within reach, on the raft. It was not until after they had been thus engaged several moments that any one thought of the treasure in the hold, and then Jim cried more frantically than before: "The gold! The gold! We must get that out!' "It'll have to take its chances with the rest!" Bob replied sharply. " Even if we could get below, the fire would be upon us before the bags wvere un- covered. Life is worth more than money jes' now." Not until everything from the engine-rooin. and cabin which could be of any service ashore had been piled up on the raft did Bob pause, and then the flames covered more than two-thiids of the deck. As a matter of course the heaving-linie Wvas long since burned from the winch, anid nothing held the rude craft which now bore all their worldly l)os- sessions but the painter Harry had made fast to the stern-bitt. "We shall have to swim for it, lads," Bob said as 233 A R UNA WA Y BRIG. he shielded his face from the intense heat with his hat. "The raft is loaded so deep that the weight of one of us would swamp her." As he spoke he seized Walter by the waist and leaped overboard, Jim waiting only long enough to ask Harry if lie needed any assistance before fol- lowing the example. "Don't bother about me!" Harry replied; and then as the flames came nearer he plunged into the sea, Joe lingering a few seconds longer, as if to take one last look at the little craft he had tried so hard to save. The wind carried the raft shoreward as soon as the painter was let go, therefore those in the water had nothing to care for save their own safety. In less than ten minutes all bands were standing on the beach watching, with deepest sorrow written on every feature of their countenances, the destruc- tion of the tug in which they had so fondly hoped soon to be steaming toward home. 234 /7 1 I 1 The engineer seized Walter by the waist and leaped overboard. ;, -- !Z- ,O- ..le ---- A R UNA WA Y BRIG. CHAPTER XXVIII. SHORE LIFE. T HE LITTLE party on the beach remained as if spell-bound while the fire destroyed what seemed like the last link which bound them to Lome. The only sounds to be heard, save the roaring of the flames, were when a deep, quivering sigh came from Walter's lips, or Joe gave vent to a suppressed groan. The fire leaped and danced as if in fiendish glee, devouring the wood-work of the Sea Bird, and warping the machinery beyond all further usefun- ness, until there was no longer anything abovo water for it to feed union. Then slowly, with many a protesting hiss awild puff of steam, it gradually (died away, the last smoul(lering ember expiring in less than two hours from the discovery of the dan- ger. Nothing was left of what had been a jaunty little craft save the blackened lines which marked the position of the hull lying in six feet of water. When all was over and the smoke no longer arose, Bob said with an evident effort: "Well, lads, we're what you might call ship- wrecked at last, though it jes' the same as tookl two '236 A R UNA WAY BRIG. good vessels an' a tug to finish us up. Whinin' won't do any good, an' we've got to make some kind of a start at buildin' a hut, for we're here till a craft puts in by mistake an' takes us off." " I'm the one to blame for this last disaster," Joe said moodily. " Nobody but a fool would have left a roaring fire in the galley without so much as look- ing at it now and then !" "i Don't go to kickin' up a fuss with yourself," Bob said soothingly. " We all know it was an acci- dent, for you set ex-en more by the steamer than we did. What puzzles me, though, is how it could 'a' happened, no matter how much fire there was." "In. order to heat the iron I took off the top of the stove and opened the entire front. On leaving I paid no attention to closing it, and of course some of the coals must have fallen out." "We was rich once, anyhow," Jim said with a sigh. "It's too bad we worked so hard to get the gold aboard, for it didn't have a chance to (1o us any good." " Jes' about this time grub is worth more to us than all the money pirates ever saw !" Bob replied quite sharply, as if realizing the necessity of arous ing his companions from their unavailing sorrow. "We've got a tidy bit of work that must be done between this an' sunset, an' it's time we were be- ginning." As he spoke he wvent up the beach a short dis- tance, to where the raft l1a(l grounded in twelve inches of wvater, and begall to unload her, carrying 2A R UNA IVA Y BRIG. the goods b)eyon(l the line of sand to the edge of the thicket. He was not allowed to labor alone but a few moments. The others were soon at his side, work- ing with a will; an(l this necessary exertion was most beneficial, since it prevented the little party from dwelling on their misfortunes. The awning was among the articles saved from the steamer, and the first task after the raft had been unloaded was to set this up as a tent in the same place where the red-nosed man and his com- panions had encamped. Then it was necessary to build a fire-place, bring all the goods from the shore, and stow the perishable articles under the canvas, where they would not be destroyed in case of a storm. In order to complete this work before sunset it was essential that each member of the party should do his best regardless of fatigue, and when the task was finished, just as the sun began to descend be- yond the horizon, the boys were so nearly exhausted that Bob saidl: " Crawl under the tent and lay down. I'll see to what little cookin' we've got on hand, an' it shall be your watch below till inornin'." The canvas lbad been fastened to four trees in such a manner as to form a shed-like roof, and while it would be of but little service in event of a heavy storm, it afforded sufficient shelter to protect the homeless ones from the (dew andl tle sun; therefore until the weather changed it was all that could be desired. 238 A R UNA WA Y BRIG. The question of food was the most disheartening andi caused Bob no slight amount of anxiety. They had saved only such articles as chanced to be on deck. A round of pork which Jim brought from the fore-peak and left under the awning, quite by accident, when he was preparing for the voyage in the yawl; half a dozen pounds of ship's-biscuit from the cabin-locker; a sheet of corn-bread which, to- gether with a jug of molasses, the workmen had taken from the galley to serve as lunch, and about a peck of potatoes, made up the total amount of provisions for five people until aid in some form should come. There was barely enough for two days' consump- tion, and no one knew better than Bob how long a time might elapse before a vessel approached near enough to be signaled. This was the one thought in his mind as he built a small fire and broiled a limited number of slices cut from the pork, while Joe was busily engaged stowing the last of their belongings under the canvas. " It's a case of turtle-huntin' to-morrow, I reckon," he said grimly as the engineer, having arranged the goods to his satisfaction, threw himself on the grass near the fire. " It'll be mighty short rations for all hands unless we look sharp." " There ought to be plenty of fish in the cove," Joe replied after a moment's thought. " I'll make some- thing that'll serve as a hook, and the boys can spend their time on the raft. There are oysters here, most 239 A isnA CW'A Y RIG'. likely; and if the Bonita struck the shoal anywhere near, something eatable may have been washed ashore." "I hadn't thought of that !" and Bob's face brightened as he spoke. " You an' I will take a trip around the key in the mornin', an' then perhaps things will look more cheerful. I reckon we're all tired enough to sleep to-night, but from the next sunrise somebody must be on watch for a sail every hour. It's the only chance we've got now of ever leavin' this blessed place." " Then send Walter out on the point after break- fast. For the next few days standing watch will be the lightest work, an' he, being the smallest, should have the softest job." "I guess that's about the way we'll fix things," Bob replied as he laid the last slice of smoked and blackened pork on a broad leaf. " Let's have sup- per an' turn in, so's to be on deck early in the mornin. It was not a very palatable meal to which the boys were suinmoned. A small piece of corn-bread, two ship's-biscuit. antd one thick slice of the poor itlplolv four meat wvas what Bob portioned out to each, and when the unsatisfactory repast was ended all savc Joe crawled under the canvas on the two mattresses. Ile remained by the fire until a rude fish-hook had been fashioned froni a stout piece of iron wire, when, joining the others, lie also was soon wrap)led in the blissfutl unconsciousness of sleep. At a very early hour next inorning Jim resumed '240 A UNA I BA YB B RI. his duties as cook, and the breakfast was even less appetizing than the supper. Then Bob read the party a short lesson which he thought, and with good reason. they needed: " Now, my hearties, work is what we all want, to keep As from thinkin' too iiiuch of the little steamer that has gone up in smoke, an' there must l)e a good bit of it unless we're willin' to go hungry. Don't worry about anything, but remember soile kind of craft is bound to put in here before long; an' if the gold is frettin' you, why I'm bound to say there's no reason to look on it as lost." This last remark caused no amount of surprise among his audience, and noting the good effect, he spoke more decidedly: " The treasure was packed under the ballast, an' before the fire could get anywhere near it the hull must 'a' been full of water. Now, to p)ull it out ain't much more'n child's play; but it's our duty to lay in a fair stock of grub before tacklin' the job, an' we can work knowin' all hands are as rich as they were before the fire started." This little speech did a wonderful anmount of good. Despite their forlorn and perhal)s tatgerous p)osition, every member of the party had bewvailed time loss of the gold more than any other thing. But now that Bob spoke of recovering it in such a matter-of-fact tone, they suddenly rogained all their lost courage, and were ready to begin the labors of the day. ITnmediately after being awakened Joe had begun 241 A R UNA WVA Y BRIG. the tedious task of weaving a fishing-line from the strands of the heaving-rope, and by the time Bob concluded his inspiriting speech a cord thirty feet long was completed. To attach the rudelv-fashioned hook and a rock to serve as sinker required only a few moments, and then Jim and Harry had their portion of the work mapped out. " Use the pork as bait, an' when you've caught fish enough for dinner knock off. We've got nothin' to cure 'em with, an' there's no sense in takin' more'n we can eat at one time. Walter is to stand watch on the north point, an' you can join him when your job is finished." Then the two men and the boy started off around the shore to the only place on the key from which a passing craft could be seen, and the young fisherman, with some pieces of half-burned planks as oars, sculled the raft out into deep water. A brisk walk of half an hour was necessary be- fore a sightly spot for the sentinel could be found; an(l Joe said, as lie and Bob continued on around the beach to search for oysters "It'll be a bit lonesome here, Walt; but you must do a share of the work. Keep your weather- eye lifting all the time, an' if you see any kind of a craft sing out till we answer." Walter did feel a trifle nervous at being left alone so far from his companions; but he made a manly effort to appear brave, and said, as the men walked swiftly away: 242 A I UINA WA Y BRIfG. 243 'Don't trouble yourselves about me. I can stand watch as well as any one else, and if a sail does heave in sight you shall know it." "That's right, lad; keep up your courage what- ever may happen, an' everything will come out ship-shape!" Bob shouted cheerily as he and Joe disappeared around a clump of bushes, leaving Wal- ter alone with the mournful lip, lip, lip of the sea ringing in his ears like a funeral dirge. A It UNA IVA V RIC TG. CHAPTER XXIX. PREPARING THE BEACONS. AFTER leaving the sentinel on duty Bob anJ Joe walked around the shore at a rapid pace, for it was their purpose to explore the island while. searching for food and wreckage; and since it would be almost dangerous to remain on the open beach after the sun was high in the heavens, there was really but a few hours during which their investiga- tions could be pursued. As a matter of course they were eager to get some definite idea of where the Bonita had been stranded in order to know at which point the wreck- age would be likely to come ashore, and this infor- mation was soon gained. After a brisk walk of half an hour the searchers were at the most northerly end of the key, and directly before them, not more than half a mile from the beach, in a westerly direc- tion, was the wreck. The gale which had driven the Sea Bird ashore had torn and riven the ill-fated brig until she was little more than a shapeless mass of timbers, and then thrown her high up on the sands, where she presented a mournful-looking spectacle. In every direction could be seen casks, spars, cordage and 244 A R UNA WA F BRI .2I. splintered timbers, some half-buried on the beach, while others dotted the shoals along the west side of the key. "It will be a good week's work to overhaul all that stuff," Joe said after the two had surveyed the scene of desolation several moments in silence. "i There is plenty of material with which to make a flare in case it should be needed." " That's what Ave'd better prepare fer before doin' anything else," Bob replied. "' Those casks are full of alcohol, an' by rollin' half a dozen to different points along the shore from here to where we left Walter, I reckon we can make sichi a show of fire- works that none but a blind crew could get past without seein' us." "I'm beginning to think vessels don't come this way. We shouldn't have seen a single one since we've been here if that schooner hadn't put in for the express purpose of capturing those men." " Don't get sich an idee into your head, lad," the old sailor said cheerily. "' We're right in the track of traders an' steamers; but this is the wrong sea- son of the year. A month from now you'll see two or three a week." That's a long while to wait on short allowance." "It's way ahead of how we might 'a' been fixed. Now, instead of moonin' 'bout what can't be helped, s'I)ose we get the casks where they can be used when the right time comes." Joe's depression was but momentary. H e under- stood quite as well as did his companion the evils of 245 A R UNA] WA Y BR)IG. giving way to dismal thoughts when so much de- p)ended upon their own efforts, and without further words the task was begun. To roll the heavy casks over the loose sand was fatiguing, and when the sun climbed so high that the heat became almost unbearable, only three of the barrels were in position. The first of these was at the most northerly point of the island; another had been set on en l 1)cvon(l reach of the tide, two hun(lred yards south, and the last was about the same distance down the shore. These could be ma(Ie rea(ly for lighting in a few seconds, since it was proposed only to knock in the hea(ls, pour out half the contents to prevent the possibility of an explosion, and set fire to the re- main(ler. "P Iy rollin' thirty or fortv casks beyond high- water mark we shall have plenty of fuel in case the first attempt is a failure !" Bob said as they walked doNvn the beach to where Walter xvas on watch. "There won't be any change in the weather for a week or more, an' in that time we can gather a good stock of alcohol." When Bob and Joe arrived at the point there was little need of asking if the sentinel had sighted any- thing resembling a sail, for while working they were able to gain even a more extended view than he, and not so much as a sea-gull's wing could be seen. Jim and Harry were with Walter, they having accomplished their task in the most satisfactory manner. 246 A I UNA WVA Y BRIG. " It didn't take ten minutes to catch all we can eat between now an' mornin' !" Jim said in reply to Joe's question. " If the Mary Walker was here she could get a full fare in half a day, for the fish bite like mackerel. Jes' say the word an' I'll roast some now, so we sha'n't have to walk back to the tent." "Go ahead, lad ; an' after the sun gets a little lower we'll take you an' Harry up the beach, where there's considerable work to be done." Anticipating that his proposition would be ac- cepted, Jim had made ready for the culinary opera- tions to the extent of collecting a goodly supply of fuel, and in less than an hour the little party were feasting on fish roasted in leaves among the hot ashes. Until about three o'clock they remained within shelter of the foliage near the sea enjoying the siesta, even though their condition was well calcu- lated to dishearten the most sanguine, and then 13o1 proposed that they continue the work of preparing beacons. In this labor the two boys could accomplish quite as much as Bob and Joe, and half an hour before sunset ten casks were in the desired positions. Now it would be possible in a very short time to send up such a volume of flame as would illumine all that portion of the coast, and from a craft within tcei miles of the key it could readily be seen. "We can reckon on leavin' this place aboard the first vessel that heaves in sight," Bob said in a tole of satisfaction as they walked leisurely along the 247 2.48 1 RULVA TVA BJRIG. shore of the harbor toward the camp. "Of course it wouldn't (lo any good to stand watch after dark; but some one must be on the point every hour of dlaylight, an' the boys can divide that work to suit themsel yes." It would not be the most cheerful task, this re- maining alone on the shore gazing out over the rest- less ocean ; lout only through such work was there a )robabllle chance of rescue, and the discomfort or weariness did not have so much as a place in their thoughts. The preparations for attracting attention had caused the boys to believe their time of imprison- ment was rapidly drawing to a close. Bob's positive statement that the chain of flares could not fail of being seen cause(l them to appear like the first real step taken towvar(l home, and the thought of the lirates' treasure came uppermost in the minds of all. " Why not begin work on it to-morrow " Jim asked, when Bob referred to the task as one easy of accomplishment. " Harry an' I can catch fish enough in half an hour to last a week, an' if we wait too long another storm may break up the hull so that the gold can't 1)e found." " I reckon we've got little to fear from storms yet awhile," Bob replied carelessly. " This weather is likely to hold for a week or more." "T!,at may be," Joe said ; " and then, again, it's psossiblc for you to l)e Mistaken. I think as Jim (1oes-that w-e ouhlit to save it while there's a chance. A PUNA WAY BRIG. If this weather holds, the casks of alcohol will stay where they are, and it is as well to let that portion of the work wait as delay the other and more im- portant." "I'm agreeable to anvthing, only I didn't feel as if there was a great call to be in a hurry, 'cause it would have to be a roarin' old gale that could do much damage to the hulk ;" and Bo1) looked across the harbor to the narrow line of charcoal and black- ened timbers which might be seen just above the sur- face of the water. " If things are as I think, it won't be a long job, an' we can finish it up) in one day." "Then what's the use of wasting time If a vessel puts in here we would be ready to leave at once; and her crew might think themselves entitled to a good slice of the money if they helped us get it out of the wreck." The boys agreed p)erfectly with Joe, and since Bob had no objections to the plan, it was decide(d that the work should be begun on the following morning. The little party were in the tent by the time this decision was arrived at; and the shelter had been gained none too soon, for the gloom of another night had already settled down over the key. Al- though all hands were tired no one cared to go to sleep just then because of the excitement caused by men- tion of the treasure, and a small fire was built for the double purpose of diriving aweay iVosquitoes anld ten(ling a more cheerful aspect to the encanipment. While Bob and Joe discussed plans for the next 24!1 20A B UNA WA TY BRIG. morning's work the boys listened intently, and it was not until a very late hour in the night that any one thought of retiring. Then the old sailor said gruffly, as if some peremptory command of his had been disobeyed: "Don't you ever mean to turn in, or must I lay every blessed son of you away All hands want to become divers; but unless we get some sleep before mornin' there won't be much work (lone !" " I s'pose we can keep awake as long as the skip- per does," Jim said laughingly; and for reply Mol) picked him up bodily and threw him on one of the mattresses, with strict injunctions to "snore in five minutes or expect a taste of the rope's-end." Never since the day when the Bonita ran away with the crew of the Sally Walker had the boys been so cheerful, and this enviable frame of mind was brought about by the preparations made for signaling a vessel. They were not one whit nearer being rescued; but yet it seemed as if the time for leaving the key was already very close at hand. "If ten casks of alcohol can make this crowd feel so good we'd better end-up about a hundred to-morrow," Joe said as the camp-fire was extin- guished and all hands crept under the canvas. "It seems as if we were going to see home at last," Harry replied. "B ob says we are certain of being sighted by the first crew that passes, and in that case it isn't likely we shall have to stay here much longer." "You can take my word for it, lad, that before 250 A R Us' t I V- JI- 'I7. another week goes by we shaill be on our way either to the States or Nassau; so go to sleep, for I reckon on callin' all hands mighty early in the mornin'." It was not so easy for the boys to close their eyes in slumber owing to the unusual excitement; but they did finally succeed, and when Bob shouted " All hands on deck !" just as the sun showed his glowing face above the waters once more, every member of the l)arty leaped to his feet ready for the (lay's work. Their toilets -were soon madle by a hurried plunge into the sea, and a not very pleasant " rubdown" with a piece of canvas-which does not make a satisfactory towel-and then, while Jim prepared breakfast from the limited material at his command, Bob went out to the point for his regular morning's survey of the surrounding waters. There's nothin' in sight," hie rel)orted on his re- turn in obedience to the cook's summons; "b but we mustn't get di scourage(l if a craft don't show up for a week. Walter is to go on guard as soon as he gets breakfast, an' one of you booys can spell him toward noon." The toasted pork and shlip's-l)iscuit was not so in- viting as to induce any of the party to linger very long over the meal, and in a few moments after the old sailor's return all hands were ready to begin the work which would settle the question as to whether the treasure could be recovered, or if it had been found only to be lost forever. 21 A B UNA WVA Y BRIG. CHAPTER XXX. AMATEUR DIVERS. THE DETAILS of the work had been decided 1upon duringthe conversation held the evening previous; therefore there was nothing to prevent them from putting into immediate execution the plan proposed by Bob. Walter went around to the left shore of the har- bor to reach his lonely p)ost of duty, while the others made their way in the opposite direction to where the raft had been partially pulled up on the beach. " It's a case of swimmin'; but I think we had bet- ter keep on our trousers and shirts, otherwise the flies and mosquitoes will make matters too lively for us," Bob said, as he removed a portion of his clothing, and then waded into the water to launch the raft. "On a hot day like this we shall soon dry off an' be none the wvorse for the bath." Trhe work was to be (lone entirely by diving, as a matter of course; an(l since the laborers would be out of the water a greater portion of the time, the old sailor's advice wA. s very good. To expose their bare skins to the fervent rays of the sun and the at- tacks of insects would cause great suffering. A l: UNA WVl Y BRIU.. They carried with them nothing but a piece of the heaving-line and two lengths of iron pipe, which had been taken from the burnings steamer only be- cause they chanced to be on deck. These last would serve as a weight to hold them down in the water, and also as a poor apology for shovels in digging away the ballast covering the treasure; but Joe hoped to find the long fire-hoe, a tool which would lessen their labors very materially. The two elder members of the p)arty waded out in advance, pulling the raft after them while the boys pushed on the timbers until the depth of water made swimming a necessity, when Harry and Jim allowed themselves to be towed. Not more than half an hour was spent getting the collection of timbers into position, and then they were made fast to the charred rail near the bow, op- posite that portion of the hull where the treasure was supposed to be. If the machinery had fallen toward the stern there was every chance the work wvouldl be success- ful; but in case it tumbled forward when the wooden supports were burned, all hope was vain, be- cause the heavy metal coul(l not be hoisted out with the limited means at their command. The boiler remaine(l uprigtlit lel(l in position by the bolts and 1)an(ls of iron which wverde fastened to the keel itself ; and Joe sai(l, as the excited party stood a moment on the raft to survey the scene: " Six feet forward of the boiler is where we must search, and I'd better make the first attempt, for I 253S A 1U, UA IVA WY BRIG. can tell just what part of the machinery is in our road, while the rest of you wouldn't know so much 111)out it." " Lower vourself by the timbers. It won't do to (live head foremost until we're sure everything is clear," and Bob held out his hand to assist the engineer in making the descent. Joe fastened the heaving-line to the iron pipes that he might have weight enough to hold him at the bottom while making the investigation, when those on the raft could haul up the metal to be used again, and, swinging clear of the rail with Bob's aid, he sunk beneath the surface. Never had a hundred seconds appeared so long to Harry as now. It seemed that the (liver had been out of sight fully five minutes, andi he was be- ginning to fear some accident had happened, when Joe reappeared, gasping for breath but looking very happy. " There's nothing to interfere with our working," he said, as soon as it was possible to speak. ' Nearly everything has fallen aft, and, Nvith the exception of some light fittings, the ballast is as free as when we left it." "Is the raft in the right position " Bob asked. "As near as I can make out it should be run ahead, ten or a dozen feet. I pulled away five or six of the largest rocks; but a fellow can't do very much work when it's impossible to breathe." Bob was eager to immake the descent, and after Jim had pulled in the pipe-weights he hauled the raft 'v,54 A R ULNA WA Y BRIG. ahead wnere Harry and Joe made her fast again as the old sailor disappeared beneath the surface. lie remained below several seconds longer than had the engineer, and on coming up confirmed the first report. " It's only a matter of time before we'll have our hands on that gold once more," he said. " I reckon Joe begun in the right place, an' we must all work on the same hole. Jim, you go over, and leave Harry to 'tend to the weights." "What's to be done when I'm down there " "Pull away the rocks an' gravel as we've done. Don't try to stay too long at a time, but work livel\ while you are there." Jim was too good a swimmer to be afraid, and he leaped in from the rail, since there was no further fear in making the descent. Ile looked red in the face when Harry saw him again, but appeared to be in high glee. " It's nothin' more'n I've done down to the Isle of Shoals lots of times when the fellers have tried to see who could stay under water the longest," he said as Harry pulled in the weight and Joe took pos- session of it at once, that the work might not be de- layed. "I thought it was my turn ;" and Harry looked disappointed because he had not beein allowed to fol- low Jim. " You'll have plentv of chances after awhile," Bob replied. " Although it don't seem very much to do, none of us can keep it ulp a great while. 'Tend to 255 .A 1. U;.A 11WA Y BRIG. the weights 'till Jim needs a rest, an' then take his. 1lace." But little time was spent in conversation, now that the work had fairly begun. In rapid succes- sion the divers leaped from the raft until each had made a dozen descents, when it became necessary for them to rest, and Harry was allowed to do his share. He performed but little work during the first descent, because by the tine he had looked about him with no slight degree of curiosity it became necessary to rise to the surface for air. He was sur- prised, however. with the progress made. The bal- last had been dug and pushed away until a deep excavation could be seen, and it seemed certain the greater portion of the treasure's covering had been removed. To his delight it was reserved for him to raise the first package of the precious metal. While the others were stretched out on the raft resting from the fatiguing work, he 'Went down four times in rapid succession, and then electrified his companions by shouting as he came to the surface: "I've got one bag out; but can't bring it up!" During the next two or three moments the divers cheered until Walter must have heard the noise, and then Joe said, as he took front his pocket a stout piece of wire bent in the form of a hook: "While you fellows were talking last night I made this. We'll bend it on one end of the heaving- line, and it will only be necessary to stick the wire A R UNA WA Y B RIG. into the canvas when those on the raft can pull up the bag." Harry was eager to have the credit of taking out the first lot of treasure, and, recognizing his right, the others waited until he had fastened on the hook, Joe hauling in the coin, at the same time the diver's head appeared above the surface. Another prolonged cheer greeted this first tangible result of their labors, and it was so hearty that Walter appeared from around the point, having evi- dently come for the purpose of learning the cause of the noise. He was too far away for the happy divers to enter into any lengthy conversation with him, and Joe held up the bag of gold where it could be seen. There was no question but that he understood the good news, for during the next five minutes he capered around the beach in the most extravagant fashion, and not until the others turned to resume their labors did he go back to his post of duty. Since only one nineteenth of the treasure had been recovered there was yet considerable work to be performed, more especially as each could remain below but a few seconds at a time, and the task was continued with redoubled energy. When the divers were forced to rest again two more bags had been hoisted on to the raft, and after the number was increased to five, Bob said: "We must knock off until later in the day. It won't do to stay in the water too long, or this gold will cost the lives of some of us. We'll call Walter 257 A R UNA WA Y BRIG. in, have dinner, and try again when the sun lower." Jim did not fancy ceasing work until the entire amount of treasure had been recovered, although he needed rest as much as either of the others. "It'll take two days at this rate if we keep diving all the time," he said disconsolately, " an' I think it ought to be finished right up." "The hardest part is done now that the ballast is well cleared away, an' I reckon we'll come m-nighty nigh endin' the job by sunset," Bob replied. "But no matter how long it lasts we've got to look out for ourselves, an' too much water is as bad as not enough. IHalloo, Walter! Wal-ter!" The remainder of the party joined in the cry un- til the sentinel appeared from around the point staggering under the weight of some heavy load which was carried on his back. By gestures the boy was made to understand that lie should come to the camp, and the others speculated as to the nature of his burden while they pulled the raft and its precious cargo ashore. "Perhaps he's found more gold," Jim suggested. "I reckon it's oysters. There are some on the south side of the point, an' most likely that's how he has been fifin' up his time." In this supposition Bob was correct. Walter had occupied himself in gathering a quantity of the tiny bivalves, which he brought to camp by converting his coat into a bag; and a most welcome and appe- tizing meal did they make for the divers, who were too weary to spend any time fishing. 2,-,8 A R UNA WAT Y JIJC. 259 The sentinel was profuse ill his expressions of joy- that the task of recovering the treasure had proved to be comparatively such a simple one, and he in- sisted on carrying every bag to the tent, that the divers might gain the greatest possible amount of rest before continuing their work. After a big fire had been built the tiny oysters were thrown on the coals, and drawn out with split sticks when they showed sighs of l)eing roasted. This was such delicious food that twice the number Walter brought could have been eaten, although the supply formed a reasonably hearty meal, and it Nvas decided unanimously to spend at least one day gath- ering these delicacies as soon as the operations at the wreck were concluded. .6I Z 'CNAV A Y B e&G. CHAPTER XXXI. SUSPENSE. ON THIS day the siesta was not prolonged. Every member of the party was eager to be at work again, and much sooner than Bob had in- tended they were pushing the raft out to the wreck while Walter was making his way around the beach, to resume the apparently useless task of watching. Again w-as Harry forced to perform that which seemed to be the least important portion of the work. Bob believed, and with good reason, that the boy could not endure as much as the others, who were more accustomed to fatigue; therefore he pos- itively forbade his diving save at rare intervals. The work during the afternoon was conducted as in the earlier portion of the day; but it progressed much more rapidly, because the ballast had been re- moved. To avoid a repetition of detail, it is suffi- cient to say that the sun was yet two hours high in the heavens when IHarry pulled up the nineteenth bag, and that which had seemed a well-nigh hope- less task was accomplished. It was well that the last portion of the treasure had been taken out quickly, for the alternate diving and standing in the hot air affected all hands so 060 A R UNA IVA V II-1B I.. severely that it is doubtful if either could have con- tinued the work an hour longer. As a matter of course Harry was comparatively fresh, he having been under the water only five or six times, and when the clumsy craft was pulled ashore he insisted on carrying the entire treasure to the tent. The weary divers lay on the warm sand in wet clothing, which was being speedily dried by the sun, until the last heavy bag had been taken to the tent and covered by the mattresses. Even then they would have continued to enjoy their well-earned rest if a most welcome announcement had not been made by the sentinel. It was just as Harry returned from the final trip to the tent that he electrified his companions by shouting: "There comes Walt at full speed! Perhaps a vessel is in sight !" Every member of the party was on his feet in ar instant watching the sentinel, who ran along the beach waving his hat in the most frantic manner, and on getting within hailing distance cried, using both hands as a speaking-trumpet: " I can see something to the northward! It's pretty far away, but I'l. sure itfs a vessel!" Harrv and Jim were literally wild with excite- ment, because of this joyful news; but Bob re- mainned sufficiently calin to be able to calculate as to the length of time before the stranger could approach within hailing distance. 26 I .A IR UNA.I IAY BRI:10. "There isn't wind enough to bri ng 1e1r tlis wVay very fast," lie said after what seemed to be a long pause. " We've got time to start all the signals in good shape. Pick up the axes an' we'll see what kind of flares fifteen or twenty gallons of alcohol w.il make." Jim and Harry obeyed this command without loss of time, an(l then started around the beach at full speed; but Bob and Joe followed more leis- urely. The boys might as well nave husbanded their strength, as was learned on arriving at the point; for, to the great disappointment of both, the sail was so far away that it became necessary to search the horizon- line several moments before discovering the tiny white speck. " That isn't much to feel glad about," Harry said, as if believing the sentinel had caused needless ex- citement. "It's a good deal more than we've seen before, except when the schooner froin N.tssau put in here," Walter replied. "It ldiln't look halr as big when I first saw it, and I watched a long time before tell- ing you." While 11arry and Jim were gazing at that which looked more like the wing of a bird than a canvas large enough to propel a ship, Bob and Joe arrived. They did not appear to be at all disappointed; and, in fact, the old sailor stared at the tiny object as if it was even nearer than he expected, while he said to the engineer: 2. 6 A R UNAWAY I BRIG. " I reckon we'll be able to make out what kind of a craft she is before dark. There is yet considerable of a job necessary to get the signals in workin' order, an' we'd better begin." The entire party would be needed, and all hands started up the beach, halting at the first cask. The head of this was knocked in, a little more than half its contents poured out, and one of the signals was in readiness for the spark of light which would send the flames mounting skyward. " Ain't you goin' to touch her off " Jim asked, as the old sailor wvent toward the next beacon. " There'll be time enough when we've attended to the whole lot. That craft is on her reg'lar course, bound for Nassau most likely, an' will keep on within two or three miles of the key." It was an hour before the last cask had been pre- pared, and in that time the stranger had lessened the distance so much that Bob unhesitatingly pro- nounced her a top-sail schooner. "i Her spars look a leetle too trim for a trader, an' she carries so much sail that I reckon she's a pleasure craft with a lot of fresh-water sailors aboard. Ilow- somever, they'll know enough to stand in when tflev see this 'ere illumination, an' that oughter satisfy us.' Bob waited half an hour longer before firingt the alcohol, and then the evening shadows were be- ginning to lengthen into the gloomi of night. All the stranger's spars could be seen quite (d:stinctlv, and there was but little question that she was a yacht. 26:3 1644A I VAN WA Y BRIG. When the bluish flames leaped up, casting a ghastly glare upon the surrounding objects, it was no longer possible for the party on the key to see any distance over the ocean because of the blinding light; but they had the intense satisfaction of know- ing that the sudden illumination must of a necessity be observed by those on the schooner, and also that its purpose could not be mistaken. " Set 'em all ablaze, boys!" Bob shouted; and one by one the long pillars of flame shot up from the beach until that portion of the key was fringed with fiery monuments. After this had been done the little party stood at the water's edge trying in vain to peer through the gloom, which was growing more dense each moment; and in a short while it was ascertained that, brilliant though the beacons were, they would not continue so any very great length of time. The alcohol burned furiously, sending forth an intense heat which caused the casks to burst asunder, thereby allowing large quantities of the spirits to sink in the sand, and half an hour after the first had been ignited the volume of flame decreased very materially. "This won't do !" Joe cried in dismay. "By the time that schooner gets near the island our signals will have died out entirely, and they may keep on their course without thinking it worth while to stop." "We could cut some wood," Harry suggested; but realized, even as he spoke, how insignificant would be such a gr-P after these mighty shafts of flame. 264 A 1 UX T'.- i Y 7 P. 2. "It'll be better to roll more casks down," Bob said quickly. " Never mind the work, so long as we can hail that craft." No one cared how much labor might be involved providing the desired result was gained, and all hands ran swiftly up the beach to where the Bonita's cargo lay half buried in the sand. It was as much as the three boys could do to roll a heavy cask over the shingle; but they worked manfully while Bob and Joe struggled with another, and in a few mo- ments after the first two signals had died out they were replaced by fresh supplies of this costly fuel. During the next three hours every member of the party tugged and pulled and lifted with a feverish energy born of the knowledge that their chances of being rescued depended upon the exertions made, and then it was not possible to longer continue the task. All were so exhausted that further efforts were absolutely out of the question, and Bob said, as he wiped away the perspiration which ran down his face in tiny streams: "It's n v use, lads. What with the divin' an' this last job, I'm tuckered out. If she don't pay any attention to us after all this glare we couldn't make 'em stop by telling the whole story. "Perhaps she has already passed," Harry sug- gested, as he choked back a sob. "The rate at which that schooner was sailing when we last saw her would have brought her here long before this." "For all we can tell she may be hove-to half a imile off the shore," Bob said consolingly. " A 265, ,1A BUNA IVA Y BRIG. captain would need know this shoal mighty well to run in here on a night so black as this one." "They've got the lights to guide them ;" and from the tone of Walter's voice it could be under- stood he was giving way to despair. " That wouldn't do them any good, for these flames only illumine this portion of the coast, and throw the entrance of the harbor into deeper shadow," Joe said, speaking for the first time since the labors were brought to a close. " Besides, there arc such things as false lights kindled for the pur- pose of wrecking vessels, and any careful captain would most likely want to wait for daylight; but he might at least send a boat ashore." This last portion of the engineer's remarks took from the boys any consolation they might have found in his speculations, and they seated themselves on the sand very wretched both in body and mind. The beacons expired one by one, and the last was but a feeble, flickering flame when the report of fire-arms rang out sharp and distinct on the still air, causing every member of that mournful party to spring to his feet in alarm. The detonations had not been heard at regular in- tervals, as one might naturally suppose would be the case if they served as signals to let the castaways know that succor was at hand, but came together in a rapid volley, as if several weapons were discharged at the same time, and those on the beach looked at each other in dismay. "What's the meaning of that " Harry asked nervously, and the old sailor replied gravely: 266G A R UNAWAVA Y BRIG. " I don't know, lad. It may be they want us to understand that the schooner will stand by till imornin'; an' then, ag'in, there may be some trouble aboard." "Are they near enough for us to hail them " "No; not accordin' to them sounds. I should say the schooner was a good half mile away. Any- how, we know she's near, an' the rest can be found out at sunrise." To wait until morning before there could be an end to the painful suspense appeared almost as bad as to know the vessel had continued on without pay- ing any attention to their signals; and Jim said petulantly: " It seems as if they might let us know what was goin' to be done." " There's no use to kick ag'in what can't be helped, lad. Try to go to sleep, an' then the time won't appear so long." To follow this advice was entirely out of 'he question. It would have been impossible for the weariest of the party to close his eyes in slumber, and in silence and fear they waited for the long, dreary hours of the night to pass. 267 A R ItC IVA AY B lR& CHAPTER XXXII. JoY. I T WAS useless for the boys to argue with them- selves that the ra1)id (lischarge of musketry could have no sinister meaning. They were in that franme of mind when no silver lining can be seen, even to the smallest cloud; and against their own better judgment they decided that the strange schooner either would be of no assistance to them, or that she was manned by a crew whliich might at- tempt to inflict further injuries. Joe thoughtlessly suggested that perhaps the red- noscd man was in command, and had come to get the B3onita's cargo. This was said more in jest than as something with a possible foundation of truth; but it was sufficient to excite all of Jim's fears, and he actually tried to induce Harry and Walter to go wvith him. into the thicket, where they might hide until the schooner had left the vicinity. While the boys would not agree to anything quite as wild as this, they were seriously alarmed; and when the rattle and splash of oars broke the still- ness Walter was almost sorry lhe had not followed the young fisherman's advice. "We haven't got to wait long before findin' out 268 A UNA A WY D'.BRRI. if they'll takce us away from this blessed key !" Bob said cheerily. ' Here comes a boat, an' unless I'm makin' a big mistake we'll soon be leavin' this 'ere -cove bound for some civilized l)ort !" Louder and more distinctly sounded the clink of oars in the row-locks until from out the darkness came the welcome hail: "Ahoy, on the island !" "Halloo!" Bob shouted with a roar, as if afraid any ordinary cry would not be hleard by those from whom he expected assistance. "Have you got three boys there wNho were car- ried away from the Isle of Shoals in the brig Bon- ita" "Ay! ay! an' they'll be mighty glad of a chance to leave !" This question surprise( the boys almost to the verge of bewilderment. It wvas positive the red- nosed man would not ask for thmemin so solicitously; and vet, who else in that lonely portion of the ocean knewv anything regarding their mishaps's Harrv and Walter clasped hands as if in a daze, both so excited as to be unable to speak until a second voice from out the (Iarkness shouted: "Are ou there, Hlarr " "It's father! It's father!" Harry screamed, as he ran toward the water -, and there, wvith Walter at his side, he stood strainingr.his eves in the vain effort to see the boat, but in h is joyful astonish ment giving no heed to the ap)l)arent] strange fact that tflose whommi lie love(l lmall knmon so) vell where to look for the Bonita's inVolutalry crew. 2f;9 A It UNA WA Y BRIG. It was not possible for the little craft to land vith safety on the beach, where the surf was break- ing with sufficient force to overturn if not stave her LO pieces, and he who had first hailed now cried: "Is there a landing-place near by " "You're at the mouth of a cove in which there's water enough to float a ship," Joe replied. "I'll walk along the beach to where there is no surf." iBy shouting continually he succeeded in piloting the boat behind the point where a landing could be effected, and a few moments later both Harry and Walter were clasped in M1r. Vandyne's arms. For some moments no wordl was spoken, and then the boys poured forth a flood of questions regarding the loved ones from whom they had been so long separated. " They are all well at home," 3Mr. Vandyne re- plie(l laughingly; "but we had better settle down for the night before I attempt to give you the infor- mation required. Shall we go aboard the schooner " In their exceeding great joy the boys had forgot- ten the treasure entirely, and it is quite probable they would have said "Y Yes " to the last question but for Bob. Ile had not been in such a state of despair prior to the coming of the boat as to render happi- ness so bewildering, and he also had a very clear idea of what should be done. " I axes your pardon for interferin', sir," he said, stepping very close to Mr. Vandyne and speaking in a low tone, "but there's particular reasons why you'd better have a chance to talk with us alone A RUNAWAY BRIG. afore your crew comes ashore or we leave the key!" Ilarry's father was considerably mystified by this odd statement; but he hesitated only an instant be- fore asking: "Have you got any kind of a shelter " "A decently good tent, with a couple of mat- tresses to lie on," Bob replied. "It ain't the best that ever was, but you can manage to get along one night, I reckon." "It's something we've found that he wants you to see," Harry whispered; and turning to the crew, who were lying on their oars a short distance away. Mr. Vandyne said: " I will stay on shore until morning. Go back to the yacht ; and at sunrise, if you think there's no danger, bring her into this cove." "Ay, ay, sir," a voice replied; and then the sound of oars in the water told that the boat was leaving the harbor, probably steering for a tiny red light which could now be seen some distance off the land. " What have you got which there is so much mystery about " Mr. Vandyne asked, as the gentle splash and ripple of water which told that the sailors were returning to their craft died away in the distance. "We have found a pirate's treasure," Harry said in a whisper. " There are nineteen bags full of all kinds of money." "Pirates' treasure !" his father repeated in as- tonish ment. 71 A P VIVA WAY PRIO. "What the lad says is a fact, sir;" and Bob stepped forward once more. " We had no way of findin' out how much it was worth; but there's alto- gether too big an amount for us to run the risk of lettin' strangers see the pile." "Where is it " " At the camp, sir. I'll lead the way. Jim, you foller behind me an' let Joe bring up the rear." Then Bob set out at such a rapid pace that there was but little opportunity for conversation until the entire distance had been traversed. Joe and Jim built a huge camp-fire, and after Harry introduced his father to the three members of the party who were strangers, Bob pulled from beneath the mattresses one of the treasure bags. "There are eighteen more jes' like that," he said, as he slashed the tarred canvas with his knife until the yellow coins fell in a golden stream at Mr. Van- dyne's feet. " We haven't overhauled many of 'em; but one's a fair sample of the lot." "' Why, you've got a fortune here !" the gentle- man cried in surprise as lhe assured himself that the pieces were gold and of large denomination. "Where and how did you find it" "It'll need a pretty long yarn to give you an understandin' of the whole cruise, an' we'll each do a share of the spinnin' so the thing will come out ship-shape," Bob said, as he began to fill a pipe, that his character of story-teller might be enacted properly. " You've got all night for the hearin', so there's no pertic'lar hurry. Iarry shall begin, an' 272 A Ii VVA IVA Y BRIG. I'll chip in when he comes to the pickin' up of me after I'd thinned down pretty nearly to a ghost." Perhaps Mr. Vandyne would have preferred to hear the story in fragments rather than at one sitting; but Bob wvas bent on spinning a yarn, and as there was no practicable alternative he was forced to submit. Harry began without delay, Jim. and Walter inter- rupting whenever he neglected to give all the de- tails. The old sailor then related the particulars of the involuntary cruise up to the time Joe came aboard. lIe in turn told of the disaster to the Sea Bird, and Bob finished the story, which occupied con- siderably more than an hour in the telling. "We shall have to let the crew know what you've got here, although there's no necessity of ex- plaining where or how it was found, for they will be needed to take the bags aboard, ' Mr. Vandyne said, after the lengthy "y yarn " had been spun. " There is no danger, for the schooner is commanded by a man in whom I have every confidence, and there won't be a piece missing when we arrive in New York." "Now tell us how you knew where wve were" Harry asked. " The party who came in search of the murderers gave your written story to the newspapers in Savannah, and it was copied all over the country." Then Mr. Vandyne briefly related what had previously been done toward finding the boys. When the Sally Walker failed to return it was 273 A11 RUNA WA Y BRIG. supposed she had been blown out to sea, and every available craft was hired to search for the missing party. When a week passed without the hoped-for result, it seemed certain that all were dead, and they were mourned for until the newspaper articles ap- peared. The remainder of the story was brief. Mr. Van- dyne had just purchased the schooner-yacht Lorlie- the same craft which was now hove-to off the key-and in her he started for the Bahamas. ",What was the meaning of those pistol-shots we heard, sir " Joe asked. " They sounded like a fight rather than a signal." " I wanted to let you understand we were coming, and emptied my revolver at the same moment the captain did his. There was considerable noise, I'll admit; but knowing we should land in a few mo- ments, I paid little attention to it at the time." The sun was already sending forth heralds of his coming when the happy party exhausted their ques- tions and explanations, and half an hour later the Lorlie was anchored in the cove, with the five who ha(l p)assed through so many adventures eating a hearty breakfast in her luxuriously-furnished cabin. After the meal had been concluded the work of taking the gold on board was begun, and before nine o'clock the yacht was slipping swiftly out of the harbor, heading for Nassau, vll her white sails filled by a strong north-westerly breeze. Instead of going directly to Newv York, it was Mr. Vandyne's intention to run down the shoal for the 274 A RIUNA WA Y BRIG. 275 purpose of sending wreckers to the key, in the hope of saving such cargo from the Bonita as was on or near the island. The three boys were standing aft as she passed the point where Walter had done duty as sentinel with such happy results, and it was very difficult for either to restrain his joy at thus bidding adieu to the key. " When I get my ship I won't come within a hun- dred miles of this place," Jim said emphatically; and his companions were quite positive it would not give them any pleasure to return. Swiftly the gallant yacht sped on, bowing her long, tapering spars to the ocean swell, until the key was hardly more than a spot of blue on the horizon, and the accidental cruise was well-nigh at an end. A 1 UNA WA Y BRIG. CHAPTER XXXIII. NASSAU. TI-E THREE boys and Joe were given quarters in the yacht's cabin, but nothing Mr. Vandyne could say would induce Bob to remain aft. "For an old shell-back like me the only place is the fo'castle," he said in reply to all their arguments. "It don't stand to reason that a sailor would be comfortable anywhere else, an' I'd be like a fish out of water if I couldn't go on watch with the others of my kind." " But what's the use of working when father ex- pects you to be his guest " Harry asked; and Bob repliedl, with a hearty laugh: "-Workin' Whv it's nothin' more'n the rarest kind of a lark to help handle a craft like this! She's titter for a gold framne an' hung up as a' ornament than to carrv sich old barnacles as me! Bless you. lad. I woildndt miss my trick at the wheel on a bwauty like this any sooner n I'd lose the gold we've had so much trouble in the savin' : Mr. Vandvne recognized the fact that the voyage would indeed be a disagreeable one to the old sailor if he was forced to play the part of passenger, and nothing more was said on the subject, although both 276d A UrTYA WVA Yl Bf1(J. liarry an(l Walter tr'idtl ill Vain ilaly tinies itfter- ward to coax llim hi jt) tliw caliin at Iic tl tiniwO. It may be supl)l)Os(el tdat OIw, 1)4)ys liaI experieiiccI so many trials on thie sea dit tlhat N sittilply 14)o)ktm rfor ward to being on al on(I on(( 11IM10r1 ',, sr11 I Iile(l by 1 1141 comforts f hIoine; but tl is wvas not so. '1 1 ,ll ) orlil was in every respect a lbewlltiful craft, aid sauilinig ill her was so different fronti wlit it liail liei on wliii brig that it seemed almost like anothler kinld of ttv- cling. This, in connection witli te fact thiat all mental troubles were banishle, Herve'l to) uiaki, thlf short trip to Nassau most enjoyable. It would be necessary for Mr. Vrarulyyne to renmain at this port two or three (lays it orler to) corn plete, the preparations for saving the lBonlitaL'S ca:Lrgo ; btI nfonethougltof taking up (quarters on sloire when it was possible to live ws ctmnfortsdhy aiaral tOje vacht. And now a wortl is necessary to) explain wily Ilarrv's father interestedl himself in thjis work, wicheli at first tought wouldt seex tn too, trifling to. cause ain extdension of the criuise when Mrs. Vad vsl e awnel Mrs. Morse were anxiouxlv Waitilrg ti) greet. 'mice more the sns whom they iadI uoiured as 'lead. This explan-ation seems toJ be thJe final link irn thle chain of mnysterious or iiri:')IJ rta id eeirrsces which went to tuake up the- camrer of the rurlaway brig. NMr. Vandlvne ownl- orne-thirI of the Bornita, and,' t:Je finrt intimation hje hild of her aeansrl'irmwnot was txrough the rmewsipaper artnicl whilh apjiriseil him 277 A RX UA WA Y BRIG. of his son's safety; therefore his business in Nas- sau was concerning the saving of his own property. It did seem remarkable, howvever, that Harry had been carried off by one of his father's vessels which at the time was supposed to be half-way across the Atlantic. "I am confident that Bob's theory as to the reason for her abandonment is the correct one," Mr. Van- dyne said shortly after leaving the key, when they were discussing the matter, " and my reason for the belief is founded on a similar accident which hap- pened to one of the first vessels I ever owned. She was bound to Genoa from New Orleans, also with a cargo of alcohol. One day during moderately fine weather there was a sudden explosion in the hold, which burst the tarpaulin and shattered the hatch. The captain saw dense volumes of what he thought smoke, and ordered all hands to abandon ship. They did get into the boats, but before casting off had the same experience you had, and the ship was saved. In the Bonita's case I have no doubt but that the boats foundered shortly after the crew left, although possibly they were picked up by some outward- bound craft, and -we shall hear from them later." It was necessary for those who had been taken from the key to spend no small amount of time on shore giving evidence concerning the loss of the brig, that there might be no delay regarding pay- ment of the insurance; and while attending to these matters they met an old acquaintance to whom they were deeply indebted. 2768 A It UNA WA Y BRIG. This was none other than the captain of the schooner which had visited the island in search of the murderers, and who gave the information leading to their rescue. " I was jes' thinkin' I'd run across the shoals an' see how you was gettin' on," he said, after a hearty greeting; " but I reckoned you had the steamer patched up before I got back from the States." Joe related briefly their misadventures on the key, and also the particulars of the rescue, conclud- ing by asking if the red-nosed man and his com- panions had been captured. "I'm mighty glad that what we did in Savannah brought your friends on. I'd been blamin' myself for not stoppin' here when we come back; but as things turned out, a delay of two hours would 'a' given them villains the chance of showin' us their heels." "Then you caught 'em " Bob asked eagerly. "That's jes' what we did, an' no mistake, though it was a close shave. We was comin' down past Egg Key, with a full breeze, when I saw a yawl edgin' inshore, like as if her crew wanted to get out of sight. None of us expected that gang was aboard, knowin' as how they'd stole your brig; but I thought it wouldn't do any harm to cut in between them and the land. Two hours later an' they'd 'a' been on the shoals, where we couldn't follow." "Did they show fight " Bob asked. "They attempted to, but we was fixed for jes' sich a crowd, When we hove-to not fifty yards off, 279 0A R UNA WA Y BRIG. an' showed the muzzles of half a dozen rifles, every one of 'em quieted down like lambs. We clapped irons on the gang, an' next day they were here in jail. It was hard work to prove the murder on 'em, although everybody knew they did it. They were sentenced yesterday to twenty years' imprisonment, an' us who live around here feel a good deal more easy in mind, because it wasn't safe for a man to travel very far alone while they were free." Then the captain insisted on the boys going with him to the coral-reefs, where the spongers were at work, and a very pleasant afternoon did they spend. There were to be seen, by aid of a glass, sponges of all varieties, from the "sheep's wool" and " velvet " to the bright scarlet "gloves," which grow in the shape of huge hands, and owe their peculiar color to the insects which build them. Reef-sponges, yet covered with their manufacturers and black as a coal; wire sponges, and gray ones, fashioned in the form of a cup; sponges of all shapes and hues, un- til the shoal looked like a garden of brilliantly- colored flowers which had been suddenly inundated. The boys collected a huge store of curious things, among which was no small amount of purple and yellow fans, stars and trees of coral, which is so much more beautiful when living, and in the sea, than the dried specimens we see on land. The day's p)easuring was brought to a close by a visit to the sponge-yard, where the Captain's guests learned very much about this branch of industry, which in the Bahamas alone gives employment to sev- eral thousand persons and five or six hundred vessels. 280 A X UNA WA Y BRIG. It weas very like a revelation to them when the hospitable Captain explained that there were several grades of each variety of sheep-wool, white-reef, dark-reef, abaco, velvet, grass, boat, hard-hea(l, yel- low and glove sponges, all worth from five to ten cents per pound by the quantity; and, also, that when first taken from the water a sponge is useless for mechanical or domestic purposes. Probably every boy knows that a sponge, as we see it, is only the skeleton of an organism. When first gathered it is covered with a thick, black, gela- tinous substance which must be removed. Then it is sorted, clipped, soaked in lime-water, and dried in the sun before being compressed into hundred- pound packages. It would be impossible to learn all that is really interesting concerning the sponge in one short article, or during a single visit to the yards; and Jim was so impressed with this fact that he said to Harry, when the latter hurried him away because the yacht's boat was waiting for them: ";The first thing I buy out of my share of the money will be a book about these things, an' then I'll know a good deal more than I do now." On the third dav after their arrival the boys saw a freighting-schooner, with a large crew of mnel, set sail for the key on which they had lived so long, to save what was left of the I3onita and her cargo. This completed the business for which they had visited Nassau-the wreckers being instructed to carry their find to New York-and word was given 281 A 1 UNA IVA Y BRIG. that every one should be ready for an early start homeward next morning. "You've had adventures enough for one year, and can well afford to study hard until next sum- mer," M1r. Vandyne said as lie announced the early departure of the Lorlie; and, hearing the words, a troubled look came over Jim's face. "We're ready for any amount of work at school after our accidental cruise," Harry replied promptly; "but what is to become of Jim " " Ile will go home, of course, after receiving his share of the pirates' treasure." "But he hasn't a relative in the world, and it seems too bad for him to go on board the Mary Walker now that he has money enough to pay for a good education." Ir. Vandvne questioned the young fisherman at great length, and then he said: "You will be able to do as you choose, because the accidental cruise has made all hands moderately wealthy; therefore I am not offering anything like charity when I say you can live with Harry until some permanent arrangement is made. We will have a legal guardian appointed, that the money shall not be squandered, and you need not feel much anxiety as to the future until the time comes when you decide upon an occupation." Jim tried to thank Mr. Vandyne, but failed sig- nally; and to hide his confusion lie scuttled off to the forecastle, where he told Bob the good news, concluding by saying: A R UNA WA Y BR G. 2S3 "I'm through bein' rope's-ended by a crew of fishermien whenever they feel a little groutv,.an' you jes' bet I'll study hard, now I've got a chance. I3ut how will I ever see you ag'in" "Why, bless you, lad, I'm goin' to stay close 'round there-sorter in the same family. Mr. Van- dyne is a ship)-owner, an' has plenty of work for an o1( shell-back like me. Joe an' I have both signed( with him, an' whenever you. want to know anythin- what can't be found in b)ooks, jes' shape a course for the docks an' ask Bob Brace." A 24 UNA WA Y BRIG. CHAPTER XXXIV. TNEW YORK. F THE vov age to New York it is hardly nec- 0 essary to speak, because nothing of an exciting oraninteresting natureoccurred. The windfavoredt the Lorlie to such an extent that not a rope was started from the time of leaving Nassau until she crossed the bar at Sandy Hook. The trip was as devoid of incident as the previous one in the Bonita had been filled with d(angers and sorrows; and two hours after the yacht dropped anchor off Staten Island, Harry and Walter were clasped in their mothers' arms. The accidental cruise in a runaway brig was ended at last; and, fortunately, no harm had come from vhat at one time seemed certain would be attended with gravest (langers. It only remains now to chronicle the events which immediately followed their arrival; not because of any relation to the story alrea ly told, but owing to the influence they intta exercise upon the future movements of the three bovs. First, and ait present the most important, is, how much treasure (id they bring home Mr. Vandyne was forced to engage the services of an expert money-clhanger in order to learn this fact himself ; and, to the surprise of all, it was found that the blaos avernge(l a trifle more than eighteen thousand dollars apiece, making a grand total of three hundred and forty-two thousand six hundred (ollars. This was divided equally among the five who had been imprisoned on the key, and for the 284 A R UNA WA BY RIG. first time in his life Bob Brace enjoyed the dis- tinction of being what he called " a blooming capi- talist." It was no longer necessary for either the old sailor or Joe to do any very hard work; but as both preferred some kind of employment, and that which Mr. Vandyne offered was exactly suited to their ideas of ease, if not luxury, they concluded to hold to the agreement already made. While the money was being divided, Bob insisted very strongly that Harry's father should take a cer- tain amount to repay him for the voyage to the Bahamas; but this, was refused in such a decided manner as to leave no opportunity for discussion. The treasure belongs to those who found it!" the merchant said ; "and as I made the trip for the purpose of rescuing my son, there can be no question of payment. Yet I did have a reasonably profit- able cruise, in addition to finding Harry. You were able to prove the loss of the IBonita, thus giv- ing me an opportunity of claiming the insurance nany months sooner than it could otherwise have been done; and, besides, I ani expecting to realize something from salvaoe on the cargo." Bob an(l Joe decided to invest a portion of their share of the treasure in a vessel. and Mr. Vandyne acfreed to act as their agent in time transaction. Three (lays after the arrival of the Lorlie the res- cue(l party were engaged in their lousiness, or dleas- lure, much as if they had never seen an island on the Bahamia shoal. Jim wvas living at harr 's home, an(l Mr. Van- lyne Xwas to be his guardian as soon as the necessary formalities could he comnl)lie(l with. Walter was at home, within a block of his friend, while the other twvo members of the party who had taken an acci- lental cruise were i)usily engoaged in Mr. Vandyne's service. 285 2A R UNA WAY BRIG. On the fourth day after the Lorlie cast anchor off Staten Island the three boys went to the docks for the purpose of paying Bob and Joe a visit, and then the old sailor proposed such a scheme as met with the unqualified approval of all. " I want you lads to look at a little steam yacht that's layin' at the next pier," Bob said; and as a matter of course the boys were more than willing to make such inspection, since, after their late ex- perience, anything in the way of boats or vessels had a new interest for them. The craft to which Bob and Joe led the party fully merited the praise which was bestowed so un- stintedly. hIer name was the Sea Foam, and she lie so jauntilv on the water that one could but say it was in every way applicable to her. " Fifty-five foot keel, nine foot beam, compound engines, sound as a dollar, and guaranteed to make fourteen knots an hour," Joe said, as he pointed to the little steamer. " She's the most perfect thing of her kind I ever saw." The boys were not satisfied with gazing at her from the pier, but clambered on board, and a view of her interior arrangements only served to strengthen the good opinion formed by a single glance at the graceful lines of the hull. The Sea Foam had a roomy after-cabin hand- somely but not expensively furnished, on either side of which we're four bunks, separated from the saloon by heavy draperies. Swinging lamps and trays, large mirrors, the polished woods and the shining metal-work gave an air of beauty and homeliness to this portion of the steamer such as the boys thought very charming. Then the engine-room was visited, anti although the three younger members of the party were not jud es of machinery they could understand that Joe sewords of praise were merited. 286 A R UNAT WA Y BRIG. The forward cabin, which also served as dining- room, contained four bunks, and leading from it was as complete and convenient a galley and pantry as the most fastidious cook could have desired. "i Well, what do you think of her " Bob asked, when the inspection was concluded. "She's the handsomest craft I ever saw," Harry replied enthusiastically. "W Who owns her " " A gentleman whose office is near your father's, and he wants to sell her. She's cheap at the price- three thousand-and my idea is that you boys couldn't do better than buy her. Then, next sum- mer when you want to go off on a good time, Joe'll ship as engineer, I'll be crew, an' you'll only need a cook. She looks like a first-class sea-boat fit for any water." It is needless to add that the boys were highly excited by this proposition; but as it was impos- sible to say that the purchase could be made until Mr. Vandyne and Mr. Morse had been consulted, Harry and Walter started for the former's office at full slpeed, leaving the remainder of the party on board until their return. " Want to buy the Sea Foam, eh " Mr. Vandyne saidl, when Ilarry pantingly asked him to come and look at the little steamer. "I examined her yester- day!, and thought she would be a good pleasure-boat for you boys. Considering the fact that you've got more than money enough to make the purchase, I see no good reason why it shouldn't be done. I'll send a note to the owner, and you had better run down the bar on a trial trip. tell Bob and Joe to stop work and go with you. Remember that while on the vacht the old sailor is to be obeyed as he was at the island." To get an order for the dock-master to deliver the Seat Foam to the parties named in Mr. Vandyne's note it was only necessary to walk a short distance, A R UNAWAY B,'RI G. . ,c, and in less than an hour after first seeing the yacht all hands were on board, steaming down the bay at a trifle more than a fifteen-knot rate. One trip was sufficient to convince the boys that the little craft was essential to their happiness, and even Bob and Joe were so pleased with her that it is quite probable they might have been tempted to purchase her themselves in case the young capitalists had not decided in favor of the scheme. "A two-weeks'-old baby might steer her if it knew enough," Bob said approvingly, as he stood at the wheel in the snug little pilot-house; " an' as for speed, why there's mighty few can touch her. We're gettin' a decently heavy swell now, an' her deck is as dry as a bone." " Would you dare to go from here to the Bahamas in her " Walter asked. " Dare Why, lad, she'd live in weather that vould swamp many a bigger craft. You can cruise from here to South America in her, an' be a blessed sight more comfortable than ever we were on the old Bonita." Joe had even more to say in the Sea Foam's favor than Bob, and he insisted stoutly that it was nothing more than play to act the part of engineer. All this praise was needless, however, for the in- tending purchasers were more than pleased with the little craft, and their report to Mr. Vandyne was coupled with such urgent entreaties for him to close the bargain before any one else could take advantage of the offer that by noon of the next day she was transferred to Messrs. Vandyne, Morse & Libby These young gentlemen a'e already making prep- arations to spend next summer on board the Sea Foam, and when they start it is safe to say the cruise will not be accidental. THE END.