Dick Hamilton's Steam Yacht/Chapter 12
SAVED FROM THE SEA
For an instant after Dick's disgusted exclamation no one spoke. Then Paul, with a regretful sigh, remarked:
"It certainly smelled good."
"It was good," declared Dick. "I put twice as much stuff in it as was necessary."
"Maybe that's what was the trouble," suggested Henry Darby. "Likely it was topheavy, as I once had a load of old iron, and it overbalanced."
"Well, I like your nerve!" spluttered the young millionaire, with a show of pretended anger.
"Comparing my plum duff to a lot of old iron! It was Frank Bender's fault that it was lost overboard."
"My fault?" demanded Frank. "How do you make that out?" and he leaned far over the rail, to look back toward where the plum pudding had disappeared in the ocean.
"Your fault—yes!" repeated Dick. "But look out, or you'll go overboard, too. If you hadn't made that jump for me, when you did, I'd have managed it all right. It's up to him, fellows! Frank's to blame!"
"I am like pie!" cried the acrobatic lad, turning a handspring to calm his excited feelings.
"Of course, it's your fault," added Paul, with a wink at the others.
"Sure," came from Henry.
"Maybe it was Grit's fault," suggested Tim Muldoon, gently, for he wasn't quite sure whether Dick and his chums were in earnest or not. "I saw Grit trying to wag his tail, just as the puddin* went overboard."
"Tim, you've solved the mystery!" declared Dick. "It was Grit's fault. Grit, you old sinner, don't you know any better?" and the dog leaped about joyously, barking in delight at the fun and excitement.
"Well, it's gone, and I reckon the crew doesn't mingle any plum duff with their ship's biscuit tonight," observed Widdy, with a sigh. "It sure did smell good, Mr. Hamilton, and it looked good, too," and the old sailor recoiled the rope he had grabbed up in his excitement. Captain Barton came on deck, then, to inquire the cause of the fun, and laughed when told the story of the pudding, to the rescue of which Widdy had sprung so valiantly.
But if there was no plum duff for supper there were other good things, for Dick had well stocked the yacht's larder.
"Der crew needn't mind so mooch," spoke the fat German cook. "I'll make 'em noodle soup, mit onions in, und I makes it goot und strong," and the crew did full justice to the generous quantity Hans sent to the forecastle.
The boys did not go to their staterooms early that night, but sat up on deck, listening to yarn after yarn, reeled off by old Widdy, who, every now and then, interrupted his narratives to stump to the side, empty out the ashes from his short pipe, and refill it. But at length Captain Barton suggested that it was getting late, so Dick and his chums went below, for their first night aboard the steam yacht.
They were lulled to rest by the soft swish and murmur of the waves, and the hum and throb of the powerful engines, which were urging the fine craft over the water.
The young yachtsmen were up in time next morning to witness the swabbing down of the decks, in which task Dick and the others insisted on taking a hand, as the work w^as a novelty to them. Barefooted, and with trousers rolled up, they helped with the hose, which was attached to a steam pump, and used the big swabs with good intentions, if not with skill.
"Pretty good for land-lubbers," Widdy condescended to say, as he watched the work.
"Well, if it doesn't do anything else," observed Dick, "it gives one a tremendous appetite. Hans, don't you dare burn the omelet this morning."
"Ach himmel! Me burn a omelet! I vould as soon bite mine own ear, Herr Hamilton. Me burn a omelet!" and the cook was quite indignant, until Dick's laugh told him it was a joke.
Coming up on deck after a substantial meal, Tim Muldoon, who was first out of the companionway, uttered a cry.
"Hi, fellers, here's a ship that's been wrecked!" he cried. There was a rush to the rail and the boys saw, not far off, on the port side, a large vessel, with queer stumpy masts, on the tops of which were big, round objects.
"Is it sinking?" asked Henry Darby. "Can't we rescue the people?"
"That's a lightship," explained Captain Barton, who was just being relieved at the wheel by Widdy. "It's the one about twenty miles off Cape May, the southernmost point of New Jersey. We haven't made very good time during the night, or we'd be farther south. But I thought it best to proceed slowly, until I got better acquainted with the yacht."
"That's right," agreed Dick. "We're in no hurry." The lads watched the lonely vessel, anchored so far off from land, until they had left it quite a distance aft, and then they found new matters to occupy their attention.
"This is certainly great, Dick," remarked Paul Drew, some hours later, as he sat in a steamer chair near his chum. "It beats turning out at reveille, forcing yourself into a tight uniform, and getting ready for drill and chapel; doesn't it?"
WITH LUSTY ARMS THE SAILORS, AIDED BY DICK AND PAUL, PULLED TOWARD THE SMALL BOAT.—Page 110.
Dick Hamilton's Steam Yacht.
"Yes, but old Kentfield is all right, at that. This is good for a change. But wait until we get to Cuba, and wait until we camp out on one of the Florida keys. Then we'll be right in it."
"This is good enough for me," observed Henry. "If I only was sure that the old iron business, and my horse——"
"Drop it!" commanded Dick, with a laugh. "This is no time——"
He ceased speaking, and arose to observe Widdy, who had stumped to the yacht's side, and was earnestly gazing at some object on the water.
"What is it?" demanded Dick, as he advanced to where the old sailor stood, bracing himself against the rail, for there, was quite a sea on.
"It's a small boat," was the reply, "and I think some one is in it."
"A small boat!" repeated Dick. "Wait and I'll get a glass."
"A boat," murmured Paul, as he came forward, while his chum hurried to the chart house. "Maybe there's been a wreck, and these are the survivors."
"Such things have happened," agreed Widdy. "Yes, it's a boat, sure enough," he added a moment later, as a small object was seen for an instant on the crest of a wave, and then disappeared in the trough of the sea.
Dick took a quick observation through the binoculars when the boat next rose, and immediately uttered a cry:
"There is some one in it!" he shouted. "I can see 'em moving about! Where's Captain Barton? We must stop the yacht to rescue them!"
"What's up?" asked the commander, coming on deck at that moment.
"Yes, it's some one, or something in that boat," he agreed, after an observation. "Mr. Midwell," he added to the first mate, "signal for the yacht to lie to, and order a boat lowered. We can't pass the poor creature by."
"I'm going to help with the rescue!" cried Dick. "Come on, fellows! We'll all go."
"Better take the dory, then," suggested Captain Barton, for one of those substantial small craft, which could live in almost any sea, was included in the complement of the Albatross' boats.
Tim Muldoon was not quite bold enough a sailor to care to venture in the small craft, and Henry Darby did not want to go, but Dick, Paul and Frank Bender, with two of the sailors, made up the party that set off to the rescue. Grit was wild to accompany his master, but Dick gently ordered him back.
With lusty arms the sailors, aided by Dick and Paul, who insisted on each taking an oar, pulled toward the small boat, which was seen one instant, and the next lost to view. As they neared it, after fifteen minutes of rowing, for it was farther off than it looked, Dick cried:
"Fellows, there's a baby in that boat!"
The oars were rested between the thole-pins and, above the gentle swish of the water against the sides of the dory, could be heard a wailing cry, coming over the waste of water.
"Give way!" shouted Dick, as he bent to the ashen blade once more. "We've got to save that baby!"