Dick Hamilton's Steam Yacht/Chapter 15

CHAPTER XV


TIM MULDOON DISAPPEARS


"Well, Beeby, and how are you?" asked the young milHonaire, when the late arrival had somewhat recovered his breath, and had slumped down in a steamer chair, with a sigh of relief.

"Fine and dandy. Came pretty near not making it, though; didn't I? I'd been visiting some relatives, here in Savannah, and they kept me until the last minute. I tried to run, but——"

"The less said about your running the better, Innis. Let me shake hands with the late Mr. Beeby," and Paul Drew joined the group about the fat cadet.

"I may be a bit late, but I'm far from being a dead one, Paul. Say, Dick, my boy, it looks very fit here," and the new guest gazed about the yacht with marked approval.

"Yes it'll do for a starter," admitted the owner of the Albatross. "We've hardly got settled down to the run of things yet."

"It looks all right to me," went on Beeby. "She's a pretty boat, and I'm glad I didn't miss her. Got much of a party aboard?"

"No, not many. Oh, I forgot, you haven't met my friends, Henry Darby, Frank Bender and Tim Muldoon," and Dick introduced the newsboy with no less ceremony than that with which he presented the young acrobat, who, as some would have regarded it, was more in Innis Beeby's "set."

"Glad to meet you fellows," said the fat cadet, rising slowly and ponderously, and shaking hands. "Guess I'm able to go below now, Dick, and stow away my luggage. Where am I to berth; in the engine room?"

"We're going to put you forward with the crew," spoke Paul. "They need a fat and jolly companion."

"It wouldn't be a bad idea for me," answered Beeby. "I was off yachting down east with a friend of mine, once, and I enjoyed being with the crew immensely. They had no end of good yarns to spin."

"We've got a chap aboard who can do the same thing," said Dick. "We'll have to introduce him to Widdy, fellows."

"Sure thing," chimed in Frank Bender, and then, as he had been keeping quiet for nearly ten minutes, he proceeded to climb up the shrouds and pretend to make a dive into the bay.

Beeby was given a stateroom near Dick's, and when his trunk and suit-case had been put away, and he had donned a rough suit, in which he said he felt more at home, he went on deck with the others, and was shown about the yacht. He found much to admire, and warmed Dick's heart with his praise.

For the stout cadet was a bit older than our hero and his chums, and had seen more of the world. In consequence the young millionaire rather looked up to him, and valued his opinion. On his part Beeby had formed a strong liking for Dick, and soon made friends with the other three lads. Paul Drew he had known for some time.

In Captain Barton, Beeby discovered an old friend. They had met once, when Beeby was on a yachting cruise, and, though the commander had not recollected the name when Dick had casually mentioned his friend, the sailor at once recalled the fat lad's face and figure. Soon they were renewing their acquaintanceship, and swapping yarns in the pilot house.

Swinging out of the harbor, and into the deep water beyond, the Albatross was quickly making good time down the coast. Dinner was served, and a jolly party gathered in the dining saloon, Hans Weyler outdoing himself in the matter of providing good things to eat.

"I say, Dick, but you are a lucky dog," remarked Beeby, somewhat enviously, as he leaned back in his chair, after the dessert. "How did it all happen, anyhow—this fine yacht, the way you take it off, and all that?"

"I hardly know myself," answered Dick. "I'm afraid I'll wake up some morning and find it all a dream."

"And you've nothing to do on the entire trip but have fun, eh?" asked the stout lad.

"Well, mostly; though, as I've told you, I expect to look up some of my mother's distant relatives in Cuba. But that may not take long, and then we'll go off on an exploring expedition, and live on a desert island for a change."

"Fine and dandy!" exclaimed Beeby, enthusiastically.

The rest of the day was spent in sitting about deck, the boys telling stories, or swapping school experiences, while occasionally Widdy would come aft on some errand, and Dick would detain him long enough to have him tell some sea yarn, more or less true.

Grit and Gritty gamboled about together, playing like two puppies, for Grit, usually grave and dignified, as suited a blooded bulldog, seemed to renew his youth in the presence of the little waif from the sea.

There was an indication of a storm that night, and Captain Barton, looking anxiously at the barometer, ordered everything made snug below and aloft. The wind freshened about midnight, and when the boys awoke early in the morning they found the yacht pitching and tossing in an angry sea.

"Whew!" exclaimed Beeby, as he just avoided being tossed out of his berth, "rather rough, isn't it, Dick?"

"Oh, so-so. Does it bother you?" asked Dick, from his stateroom.

"Not a bit. I've got my sea legs on now, and I feel fine. I'm going on deck for a breath of air. Come along."

They dressed hastily and, followed by the other lads, ascended the companionway, not without some difficulty, for at times the Albatross seemed trying to stand on her beams' ends, while at others she appeared to want to plunge to the bottom of the sea.

"It's some rough," remarked Paul Drew, as he clung to the handrail.

"But the boat seems to go right through it," added the young owner, proudly.

Once they poked their heads outside they were made aware that there was plenty of what sailors call "dirty" weather. There was a strong wind blowing, and a rain was falling, being driven sharply into the faces of the lads, while the spume and spray from, the sea, with its tang of saltiness, soon made their cheeks feel as though they had on thin masks of brine.

"Oilskins and sou'westers to-day," remarked Dick, as he dodged back inside, almost wet through from a brief dash across the deck.

"It'll be stay below for mine," decided Frank Bender. "I can practise some of my new motions without much effort. All I'll have to do is to stand still and be tossed about."

"Yes, stand on your head in the dishpan, balanced on a tumbler," suggested Paul. "You'll have a nice tumble, if you do."

"And I guess you'd like to see me," suggested the aspiring acrobat. "Well, I'm not going to. Tim, you and I will get up a daily paper. We can gather news by wireless. I'll write out the sheets by hand, and you can sell 'em."

"Sure," agreed the newsboy. "I'm lost without something like that to do. I'm not used to this sporting life. I'd like to see an extra edition out now."

They ate breakfast under difficulties, and many cups of coffee were spilled in places not intended for them. But, for all that, it was jolly fun, and, donning oilskins a little later, they all went on deck, where they watched the big waves which were running quite high, their crests whipped into foam and spray by the wind, which every moment was increasing.

Tiring of the exposure to the rough weather, they came below in about half an hour, and put in the rest of the morning at various occupations. Some wrote letters, to be posted when sighting the next inward-bound coast steamer; Dick was going over some details of the mysteries of navigation with Captain Barton, and Beeby was peacefully slumbering, braced up on a divan, with many cushions to soften his descent in case he was pitched to the cabin floor.

The striking of eight bells, or the noon call to dinner, saw reassembled in the dining-room Dick and his friends. None of them seemed to have lost their appetites because of the rolling and pitching, for, by this time, even the most indifferent lad was a good sailor.

"Well, I guess we can sit down, and spill some soup in our laps," remarked the young yacht owner, looking around at his chums. "But, hold on, where's Tim?"

"He was here a while ago," volunteered Henry Darby. "I saw him going toward the engine room."

"Yes, he likes to see the machinery," added Frank Bender. "I'll call him." But Frank presently returned to report that Tim had not been in the engine compartment.

"Look in his stateroom; maybe he's asleep," suggested Beeby. "I had a nice nap myself."

But Tim was not there, and by this time Dick was becoming a bit worried. He and Paul made a search in various parts of the yacht, but Tim was not seen, nor did he answer their calls.

"That's rather odd," mused Dick, with a puzzled air.

"Did you look in the pilot house?" asked Frank. "Maybe he's in there with Captain Barton, who hasn't come out yet to get his dinner."

"Tim's not here," was the commander's report a little later, and on his face there came an anxious look, as Dick mentioned the newsboy's absence. "Did you try the forecastle?"

But Tim was not in the crew's quarters, though he was a general favorite with the men forward, and often spent much time in their company.

"Let's get this down to a system," suggested Dick. "Who saw him last—and where?"

It developed that they had all seen the newsboy quite recently, but when it came to saying where there was a conflict of opinion.

"Well, this yacht isn't such a big place," remarked the owner. "If he's on board we ought to find him."

"Maybe he's fallen overboard," spoke Henry Darby, almost before he thought of the significance of his words.

"I saw him with his oilskins on," volunteered Widdy, who had been called into the general conference.

"Was this before or after we all had them on, and were on deck?" asked Paul Drew.

"Afterward. In fact, it wa'n't more'n an hour ago. He come up on deck in 'em, an' then went below."

"Are you sure he went below?" asked Dick, quickly.

"Well, no; not exactly. I saw him start for the companionway, but just then we struck a big wave, and I had to grab a lifeline myself. So I didn't notice, but I think he went below."

A curious hush fell upon them all. They were all thinking of the same direful thing. Another hasty, but thorough search of the yacht was made, and there was no trace of Tim.

"He can't have fallen overboard!" cried Dick. "We'd have heard him cry."

"Not in the noise of this storm," spoke Captain Barton, solemnly. "I'm afraid he's gone, boys. We were boarded by some big waves," and a gloomy silence followed his words.

"Poor Tim," murmured Dick, "and to think I urged him to make this voyage. It's all my fault!"

"Don't give up so soon," urged Beeby, who was the most hopeful person in the group. "Let's have another look. Dinner can wait. We'll find Tim Muldoon, if he's aboard. He's a New Yorker, and they're hard to lose anywhere. We'll find him yet," and the search was begun again.