The Project Gutenberg eBook of The Rover Boys Shipwrecked, by Arthur M. Winfield

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Title: The Rover Boys Shipwrecked

or, A Thrilling Hunt for Pirates' Gold

Author: Arthur M. Winfield

Illustrator: W. S. Rogers

Release Date: April 20, 2022 [eBook #67893]

Language: English

Produced by: Donald Cummings and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at






(Edward Stratemeyer)




Made in the United States of America

Books by Arthur M. Winfield
(Edward Stratemeyer)




12mo. Cloth. Illustrated.

Grosset & Dunlap, Publishers, New York

Copyright, 1924, by

The Rover Boys Shipwrecked



My Dear Boys: This book is a complete story in itself, but forms the eighth volume in a line issued under the general title, “The Second Rover Boys Series for Young Americans.”

As related in the First Series, this line of books was started with the publication of “The Rover Boys at School,” in which I introduced my readers to Dick, Tom and Sam Rover and their friends and relatives. This First Series, consisting of twenty volumes, told of what happened to these three Rover boys while attending Putnam Hall Military Academy, Brill College, and while on outings in this country and abroad. When the boys became married Dick Rover was blessed with a son and a daughter, as was also his brother Sam, while Tom became the parent of a lively pair of twin boys.

From their homes in New York City the four younger Rovers went to boarding school, as related in the first volume of the Second Series, entitled “The Rover Boys at Colby Hall.” From that school the scene was shifted to “Snowshoe[iv] Island” and then to doings while “Under Canvas.” Then the boys went “On a Hunt,” and, later, to “The Land of Luck.” Then came exciting days at “Big Horn Ranch” and at “Big Bear Lake,” where we last met them. In the present volume the scene is shifted to the Atlantic Ocean. The boys were shipwrecked and had many thrilling adventures.

As many of my readers know, the sale of this series of books is now well past the three million mark. To me, this seems truly wonderful. My only hope is that the reading of these books will do all of the boys and girls good.

Affectionately and sincerely yours,

Edward Stratemeyer.



I. An Accident on the Road 1
II. Something About All the Rovers 15
III. A Thanksgiving Reunion 29
IV. At Old Nantucket 40
V. Lost in the Fog 54
VI. Aboard the Schooner 65
VII. A Night of Anxiety 76
VIII. Planning to Escape 87
IX. Another Plot 98
X. Ira Small’s Revelations 108
XI. The Escape 119
XII. On the Motor Boat Again 130
XIII. A Crash in the Dark 140
XIV. Alone on the Ocean 150
XV. Facing Starvation 160
XVI. Aboard the Steam Yacht 169
XVII. Animals, Birds and Snakes 179
XVIII. Fred’s Lucky Throw 188
XIX. An Encounter with a Tiger 198
XX. The Doomed Ship 206
XXI.[vi] Ashore at Last 214
XXII. About a Pirates’ Treasure 223
XXIII. A Time of Anxiety 232
XXIV. In the Jungle 241
XXV. The Thirteen Rocks 251
XXVI. Thieves in Camp 261
XXVII. At the Wall of Rocks 270
XXVIII. A Sudden Disappearance 279
XXIX. In the Circle of Thirteen Rocks 288
XXX. What the Box Contained—Conclusion 298






“Battalion, attention!”

The command came from Major Jack Rover. The scene was the campus of Colby Hall Military Academy, and drawn up in front of the youthful major were the three companies of cadets. It was a clear day in November and the boys made an inspiring appearance in their well fitting uniforms. Every rifle was in the pink of condition, as were also the drums, fifes and bugles of the musicians.

“Present arms!” was the next command, and as the students held their rifles before them, Captain Mapes Dale, the military instructor, passed in front of one company after another. He was followed by Colonel Colby and Professor Grawson.

“The cadets certainly make a fine showing,”[2] remarked Colonel Colby, after the brief inspection had come to an end.

“They do indeed, Colonel,” answered Captain Dale. “They have never turned out better. We’ll have to congratulate Major Rover. He certainly keeps the boys well in hand.”

The owner of the military academy and his aids came to the front once more, and then Captain Dale nodded to the young major. This was a signal that the youthful commander could now proceed with the usual morning routine.

“Shoulder arms! Forward march!” came the quick, clear command.

Then the drums struck up, followed by the lively pipings of the fifes, and the three companies of cadets moved forward across the campus and around the school buildings, finally coming to a halt in front of the entrance to the mess hall. There the cadets broke ranks, placed away their guns, swords and other equipments, and piled into the mess hall, where all were speedily seated at the numerous dining tables.

“That ends parading for some time to come,” remarked Captain Fred Rover, of Company C.

“And I’m not sorry,” returned Andy Rover, his cousin.

“Hurrah for the Thanksgiving holidays!”[3] burst out Randy, Andy’s twin. “Won’t we have a dandy time at home?”

“And don’t forget that invitation from Ralph Mason,” came from Jack.

“Hoopla! Me for a life on the ocean wave!” burst out Andy. “Ralph says that motor boat is a dandy.”

“If only the weather stays clear!” said Fred, anxiously.

“Young gentlemen, a little less noise, please,” came from Professor Snopper Duke, who chanced to be at the head of the table at which the four Rovers were seated.

“Yes, sir. Sorry I spoke, sir,” mumbled Andy, and slyly put his tongue in one cheek, at which his twin brother and his cousins grinned.

All of the cadets were in high spirits, and with good reason—school was to close that afternoon for the Thanksgiving holidays. Nearly all of the cadets were going either home or elsewhere, so that only a handful would be left at the academy for ten days. Usually the Thanksgiving recess was shorter, but Colonel Colby wished to take advantage of the holidays by having some necessary repairs done to the mess hall ceiling, which was in danger of coming down.

Before Jack Rover had been elected major of the school battalion, Ralph Mason had occupied[4] that important position. Now Ralph had left Colby Hall for good, but he still retained his affection for many of the lads there, and had invited the Rover boys and two of their chums, Gif Garrison and Dick Powell, to accompany him on a motor-boat trip from Woods Hole to Marthas Vineyard, Nantucket, and Cape Cod—the proposed outing, of course, being contingent upon the condition of the weather.

“I only hope the folks at home won’t object to our taking that motor-boat trip,” remarked Fred, after the meal was over and the boys were preparing to go to their classrooms.

“I don’t see how they can object,” came from Randy. “It will be perfectly safe.”

“Of course it will be safe,” returned his twin brother. “There won’t a thing happen to us.”

“Let’s hope so, anyway,” said Jack. “We’ve had adventure enough. Gracious, just look at what happened at Big Horn Ranch and at Big Bear Lake! After all those doings, I’m willing to sit down and take it easy.”

“No sitting down for me,” broke in Andy, and in high spirits he dropped his school books and turned a cartwheel in the corridor.

“Andy Rover, what do you mean by such conduct in the school building?” came in a cold,[5] clear-cut voice, and the boys saw Professor Duke standing in a doorway close behind them.

“Oh, excuse me, sir. I didn’t know any one was looking,” stammered the fun-loving Rover.

“After this reserve your gymnastic exercises for the gymnasium,” was the professor’s sarcastic command as he turned away.

“My, but he’s a real sociable fellow!” was Randy’s whispered comment.

“And we thought he had turned over a new leaf,” murmured Jack.

“It must be bred in the bone,” was the way Fred expressed himself.

The gong was now sounding, and all of the cadets hurried to their various classrooms, and were soon deep in their studies or recitations. Although they liked fun, Andy and Randy especially, the Rovers knew that they must make good records at the Academy, or otherwise there would be trouble when they faced their fathers and mothers.

“Well, anyway, the agony will be over by half-past two this afternoon,” remarked Andy to his brother, “and by four-thirty we’ll be on our way home.”

“Do you suppose the girls will be on hand?” questioned Randy.

“Yes. Jack said Martha telephoned in early[6] this morning. And she said she might have a surprise.”

“A surprise?” came from Fred. “How is that?”

“Martha wouldn’t say, because, she said, the whole thing might fall through.”

“It’s a wonder Jack didn’t make her tell! What do you suppose those girls have up their sleeve?”

“Search me! You can’t make Martha open her mouth when she wants to keep silent. She’s not one of the kind of girls to tell everything she knows.”

“Did she say Mary was in on the secret?” questioned Fred. Mary was his sister, and the two girls attended Clearwater Hall, a school for girls in that vicinity.

“Didn’t say a word about Mary,” put in Jack, thus appealed to.

“Maybe she didn’t say anything about Ruth Stevenson, either?” came from Andy, slyly, and his manner was such that the young major found himself blushing in spite of himself.

“Well, I suppose we’ll just have to wait and see what’s doing,” sighed Randy.

The last day in school before a holiday is usually not so strictly observed as some others. The cadets, however, had to go through their usual[7] recitations, interrupted only by the time taken for lunch. Then at half-past two the dismissal bell rang, and the cadets rushed hither and thither in their anxiety to pack and get away.

“Look at the autos outside, will you?” came from Gif Garrison, who had stopped to speak to Jack about the proposed trip with Ralph Mason. “I’ll say some fellows are in luck.”

“Yes, indeed!” came from Dick Powell, usually called Spouter by his chums. “I’d rather ride in an auto ten times over than in a stuffy train. Just think of rolling along through the country with all the foliage at its very best. Think of the trees tipped with crimson and gold, the mountainsides looking like——”

“There, Spouter, that will do for the present,” interrupted Jack, good-naturedly. “You can spout all you please about the scenery when we are off on our trip.”

“Oh, pshaw! you fellows have no eye for beauty,” grumbled Spouter, in disgust. “I don’t believe you know whether the tree leaves are red, yellow, green or pink.”

“Hi there, Jack! Come here!” came in a yell from Fred, who had run out on the campus. “Here’s a surprise!”

Jack broke away from a number of his friends and ran down to where Fred was standing. The[8] two Rovers were quickly joined by Andy and Randy.

“Why, it’s dad!” came from Andy. “Dad and Uncle Sam!”

“And they’ve got the two autos with them!” answered his twin, dancing up and down in excitement.

“Say, was that the secret Martha was keeping?” demanded Jack, rushing up and shaking his two uncles by the hand. And then, before they could answer, he went on: “Where’s my dad? Why didn’t he come?”

“Your father had to remain in New York,” answered Tom Rover. “Somebody has to run the business, you know. We can’t all go holidaying,” and his eyes twinkled, showing that he was just as full of fun as he had been when at the age of his twin sons.

“Yes, we telephoned to Martha. But we told her to keep it a secret because we were afraid that something might hold us back,” explained Sam Rover.

“Why, Dad, you’ve got a new car!” burst out Fred. “What do you know about that! Some swell outfit, I’ll say,” he added, gazing at the new automobile admiringly. It was a big twelve-cylinder sedan, and looked to be the acme of comfort and mechanical perfection.


In a few minutes the boys learned that they were to leave the school by automobile and pick up the two Rover girls at Clearwater Hall on the way. Ruth Stevenson was to accompany Martha and Mary.

“Martha said Ruth’s folks are away on a tour,” explained Tom Rover. “So she is to spend the holidays with us.”

“Well, that will suit Jack all right enough,” said Randy quickly.

“Don’t you all like Ruth?” demanded the young major.

“Sure, we do!” came promptly from the others, and then, somehow, Jack felt better.

“You haven’t heard all of the secret yet,” Tom Rover said, grinning at his twin sons and his two nephews. “Shall I tell them?” he went on, turning to his brother Sam.

“Why not let them find it out for themselves?” came quickly from Fred’s father. And then, turning to the lads, he continued: “You don’t know where you are going, boys, but you’re on the way.”

“Do you mean to say that we’re not going home?” came from all four cadets in a chorus of wonder.

“You are not,” replied Tom Rover. “But don’t ask any more questions. Go ahead and[10] get ready to leave. We have a long ride ahead of us, and we don’t want to drive any farther than is necessary after dark.”

While the Rover boys were saying good-bye to their chums and getting ready to make the trip, Tom Rover and his brother Sam went in to call on their old school chum, Colonel Colby.

“It’s a touch of old times to see you fellows again,” said Larry Colby, as he shook hands warmly. “It’s too bad Dick didn’t come with you. Then we’d have the old quartette,” and he smiled broadly.

“Well, time is bound to scatter us,” remarked Sam Rover. “Some of the fellows are scattered to the four quarters of the globe. About all the old crowd I ever see are Songbird Powell, Fred Garrison and Hans Mueller.”

Knowing that they had a long run ahead of them, the Rover boys lost no time in getting ready for the trip. Then their suitcases were stowed away and they climbed into the two cars, the twins with their father and the others with Sam Rover.

It did not take long to run to Haven Point and then along the lake to Clearwater Hall. Here they found a number of automobiles parked along the campus and many girl students coming and going.


“There they are!” called out Jack, and waved his hand. In a moment more his sister Martha came running toward them, followed by Mary Rover and Ruth Stevenson.

“How about the surprise, Jack?” cried Martha, her face beaming.

“Peachy!” answered her brother, promptly. “Couldn’t be better!”

“Did you suspect?” questioned Mary.

“Not at all. We thought the folks were all too busy in Wall Street to come up here just now.”

“Hold on! Hold on!” interrupted Sam Rover. “They don’t know where they’re going yet. Don’t spoil things.”

“They don’t!” burst out Mary. “Why, I thought——”

“No, that’s to be a surprise,” said Tom Rover. “Don’t tell them a word. Let them find out for themselves. It will give them something to think about.”

“Well, this certainly is a mystery,” murmured Fred, and he and his cousins looked blankly at each other.

“It was splendid to invite me to go along,” remarked Ruth Stevenson, as she shook hands warmly with the young major and the others. “Just splendid!”


“We’re glad to have you, Ruth,” answered Sam Rover.

The boys assisted the girls with their luggage, and a few minutes later the automobile trip was begun. The twins rode with their father, and Mary and Fred went with them, while Jack and Martha, accompanied by Ruth, rode with their Uncle Sam. As was to be expected, Tom Rover led the way and set such a pace that his brother had hard work to keep up with him.

“We figured out that we could reach a town called Bridgeville in time for supper,” said Sam Rover. “But I rather think we’ll have to hump ourselves to do it.”

“I guess Uncle Tom is going to try to put one over on you, Uncle Sam,” remarked Jack. “Maybe he wants to show you that his old car can outrun your new one.”

“It’s all right, if he doesn’t get into trouble,” answered Sam Rover.

“Oh, I don’t mind riding fast,” came from Ruth, her eyes sparkling with excitement. “It’s so good to be out of school once more!”

“Wish we were bound for Big Bear Lake,” said Jack.

“Oh, Jack, wouldn’t that be grand!”

“It would be unless some big bear came along to eat us up,” put in Martha.


“Oh, we killed off all the bears,” said Jack. And this remark made both of the girls giggle.

On and on sped the two cars, keeping just within sight of each other. Up hill and down hill they rolled, around broad curves, and over solid stone bridges and some that were built of wood and rattled loudly as they passed. The weather was so warm that they had all the windows down, so they could enjoy the fresh air to its fullest.

“Where do you suppose they are taking us?” whispered Randy to his brother, as they rolled swiftly along.

“Search me!” was the slangy answer. “They’ve certainly got something up their sleeve. I thought sure we were going home.”

“So did I.”

Suddenly the car guided by Sam Rover struck a broad curve leading to the left. A little farther on there was a crossroad, and presently through the trees and bushes Fred’s father caught sight of a long, low, yellow car on the other highway. As this car was coming from his right, he at once slackened his pace and blew his horn vigorously.

The occupants of the other car paid not the slightest attention to the warning, but kept on, faster, if possible, than ever. As a consequence, Sam Rover had to jam on the brakes. Then, as[14] he came still closer to the crossroads, he prepared to make the turn and run, if possible, with the other car. Then came a wild tooting of the other horn, and the yellow car attempted to make a turn to the right to get into the highway on which the Rovers were running.

But this turn proved disastrous, and in a twinkling the yellow car rolled over and over, landing in some bushes on the side of the road. The Rovers’ car proceeded a distance of fifty yards on the crossroad, and then came to a standstill.



“Oh, look at that auto!”

“It turned over and over!”

“Do you suppose they are killed?”

Such were some of the cries that came from the occupants of Sam Rover’s car as the machine came to a standstill. In the meanwhile the car run by Tom Rover had disappeared around a bend of the main highway.

“This certainly looks bad,” murmured Sam Rover, as he leaped to the ground, accompanied by Jack. Both ran back to the scene of the accident, followed slowly and somewhat fearfully by Martha and Ruth.

“Oh, suppose they are killed or terribly hurt?” murmured the Rover girl to her chum.

“If they are hurt we’ll have to do what we can for them,” answered Ruth. “I wonder if there is any first-aid kit in your uncle’s machine?”

There had been several loud yells of alarm as[16] the low, yellow car turned over and over in the bushes beside the highway. Now, however, as Jack Rover and his uncle approached, there was an ominous silence, the spinning wheels of the machine coming to a sudden stop.

“There is one man!” cried the youthful major, and pointed into some bushes where the legs of an individual were floundering around in the air. A few seconds later the man righted himself and struggled to a nearby tree, dazed and bewildered.

“There is another fellow—under the auto!” came from Sam Rover. “Come on! Let us get him out before the machine has a chance to settle down on him.”

The military training of uncle and nephew stood them in good stead, and they knew exactly what to do in this emergency. Close at hand was a rail fence, and while Sam Rover strained with might and main to keep the yellow car from turning over on the man in the brushwood, Jack obtained a fence rail. Rushing up with this, he propped it against the machine to hold it in place. Then he and his uncle grabbed the unknown man, who was almost unconscious, and dragged him to safety.

“Any more in the auto?” panted Jack, his quick efforts having almost winded him.


“I don’t see any.” Sam Rover turned to the man who was leaning against the tree. “Were there more than two of you?” he questioned.

“No!” bellowed that individual, glaring at the Rovers. “You’ve got us in a fine fix, I must say!” he went on sourly.

“I think you fellows were as much to blame as any one,” answered Sam Rover, curtly. “However, now is no time to quarrel. Your friend seems to be pretty well used up.”

“I don’t think he’s hurt as much as I am,” said the other man, surlily. “I was pitched out right on my head.” He was now rubbing the back of his neck and his left shoulder. “For all I know, something may be broken.”

Reasoning that the sour-faced individual would not argue in this fashion if he were seriously hurt, Sam Rover turned his attention to the other man, and Jack did likewise. The young major had noted a tiny watercourse close to where the roads intersected, and now he ran to this and brought back a capful of water. With this they bathed the man’s face, so that he soon opened his eyes and sat up.

“Any bones broken?” asked Jack’s uncle, kindly.

“I don’t know.” The man pulled himself together slowly, and then started to rise. “Gee,[18] but my back feels sore! We certainly came a cropper, didn’t we?” and he grinned sheepishly at the Rovers.

“I’m glad no one was killed,” said Sam Rover.

“See here! This is your fault,” howled the other man, coming forward stiffly. “You had no business to be racin’ on this road.”

“I don’t think I was running as fast as you were,” answered Jack’s uncle.

“I bet you wasn’t,” put in the other man, still grinning. He turned to his companion in misfortune. “I told you, Ferguson, not to hit ’er up quite so fast. Some time you’ll climb a stone wall and land in the cemetery.”

“Oh, shut up, Billings,” growled the man called Ferguson. “I know what I was doin’. It was this fellow’s fault, and he’s got to pay for the damage done.”

“All right, make him pay,” was the good-natured comment from Billings. Then suddenly he began to chuckle. “I wonder how much of the stuff we smashed, Bill,” he went on.

“Shut your jaw, you fool!” cried Ferguson. “I say this fellow has got to pay for the damage done.”

While the men were talking Jack and the two girls had moved closer to the upset car to inspect it.


“Oh, look, Jack!” whispered Ruth, suddenly. “What is that running from it? Is it the gasoline?”

“I don’t think so.” The young major made a closer inspection and began to sniff the air. “It’s liquor. These fellows are carrying hooch.”

“Oh, did you ever!” murmured Martha, in horror, for she had never had any use for liquor in any form.

“Say, you get away from that car!” burst out Bill Ferguson, in sudden alarm. “Get away from there, I say!”

“They are carrying liquor. The car is loaded with it, Uncle Sam!” cried Jack.

“Yes; and they have both been drinking,” answered his uncle quickly. He turned to the two men. “If you want to make a police affair of this, I’m willing,” he continued sternly. “But I’ll tell you right now, you’ll make a poor showing in a police court.”

“Oh, call it off! Call it off, Ferguson!” interposed Billings, as good-naturedly as ever. “I ain’t making no kick, and half the cargo belongs to me at that. Do you want us to get in bad around here? Call it off, I tell you!”

“I ain’t goin’ to have this car busted up for nothin’,” grumbled Ferguson. “However,” he added hastily, “I suppose I’ll have to let it[20] pass. We ain’t got any witnesses against you.”

“You’ll be lucky if you both keep out of jail,” answered Sam Rover, pointedly. “Carrying liquor around like that is prohibited, and you know it. I advise you to get out of the business and stay out.” Jack’s uncle turned to those with him. “Come on, and we’ll see if we can catch up to your Uncle Tom.”

As the Rovers and Ruth left the vicinity of the accident the two men watched them narrowly. On the face of Billings there was a look of dismay, while Ferguson appeared more sour than ever. He glared sharply at Jack.

“Maybe we’ll meet again some day, and under different circumstances,” he remarked, with a scowl.

“What awful men!” was Ruth’s comment, as they climbed into the automobile once more. “I’d hate to be alone and meet them.”

“What do you suppose they are, Uncle Sam? A couple of liquor runners?”

“More than likely, Jack,” answered his uncle. “But one thing is certain—this load of liquor will never be delivered,” he added, with a chuckle.

“I don’t see why they can’t obey the law and leave liquor alone,” remarked Martha, as the car was backed to the other road and then sent forward in the direction Tom Rover had taken.


“There is too much money in it, that’s why,” answered her uncle. “Some of these rum-runners—or bootleggers, as they are called—have become millionaires at the game. They sell all sorts of the vilest kind of concoctions at exorbitant prices.”

They ran on for several miles and then reached a point where they found the other automobile resting by the roadside.

“Didn’t know whether you were lost, strayed or stolen,” called out Tom Rover, gayly. “What happened? Did you get a puncture or just stop to pick buttercups?”

“No. We’ve been dabbling in spirits,” answered his brother, just as gayly.

“And we knocked the spirits out in one round,” added Jack.

Then the story of the accident on the road was narrated, the others listening with keen interest.

“Gee, I wish I’d been there!” declared Andy, wistfully. “I’m never around when anything like that happens!”

“Never around!” cried Fred. “If I know anything about it, you’re generally in the thick of it.”

“I’m glad neither of the men was seriously hurt, even if they are bootleggers,” remarked Mary. “And as for their liquor, it served them right to have it smashed and spilt.”


“I can tell you that one man, the fellow named Bill Ferguson, was certainly mad,” said Jack to his cousins. “He looked as if he wanted to chew us up.”

“You’d better keep your eyes open in case you meet him again,” remarked Randy.

“Oh, it isn’t likely that we’ll ever meet again,” replied the young major. But in this he was mistaken. He was to meet Bill Ferguson again and under the most thrilling of circumstances.

Once more the two automobiles proceeded on their way. And while they are thus rolling along let me take the opportunity to introduce my characters more specifically.

In the first volume of this series, entitled “The Rover Boys at School,” I introduced three brothers, Dick, Tom and Sam Rover, who resided at that time with their Uncle Randolph and their Aunt Martha at Valley Brook Farm, a pleasant country place in New York state. From the farm the boys had been sent to Putnam Hall Military Academy and, later on, to Brill College. Then they had gone into business in Wall Street, New York, under the name of The Rover Company. Each had been married to a boyhood sweetheart, and now the three families resided in adjoining residences on Riverside Drive[23] overlooking the beautiful Hudson River, in New York City.

Not a long while after his marriage to Dora Stanhope, Dick had been blessed with a son, John, who was always called Jack, and a daughter, Martha, who was a year younger than her brother. To Sam Rover and his wife Grace had come a daughter, Mary, and, about a year later, a son, who was named Fred after an old school chum, Fred Garrison. Tom and his wife, Nellie, were blessed with a healthy pair of boy twins, one called Andy, after his grandfather, Anderson, and the other Randy, after Uncle Randolph.

As they resided side by side, the younger generation of Rover boys, as well as their sisters, were brought up very much as one large family. At first the young folks were sent to some private institutions of learning in the Metropolis. But presently Andy and Randy, as well as the other boys, began to develop such a propensity for fun it was decided to send them to some stricter institution of learning.

At that time Larry Colby was at the head of a military academy, called Colby Hall. How Jack and Fred and the twins were sent to that institution of learning and what happened to them, has already been related in the volume entitled “The Rover Boys at Colby Hall.”


At the school the lads made many friends and also a few enemies. Among their warmest chums were Gif Garrison, the son of their fathers’ old friend, Fred Garrison, after whom Fred Rover was named, and Spouter Powell, the son of the older Rovers’ chum, John Powell, always known as Songbird because of his propensity for writing what he called poetry.

A term at Colby Hall had been followed by some winter adventures on “Snowshoe Island.” Then the boys had returned to school to go into an encampment “Under Canvas.” Later still the lads had gone on a great “Hunt,” which had been productive of many adventures. Later still, after another term at the military academy, where Jack had gradually worked his way up from being an under officer to becoming major of the school battalion and where Fred had risen until he was now the captain of Company C, the four boys, along with several chums, had gone into “The Land of Luck,” otherwise the great oil regions of Texas and Oklahoma.

Shortly after this Spouter announced that his father had purchased a place in the far West called “Big Bear Ranch.” The boys were invited to visit this place and had a glorious time in the saddle and otherwise.

Colby Hall was located on Clearwater Lake not[25] far from the town of Haven Point. On the other side of the town was located Clearwater Hall, a school for girls. Among the pupils at this institution were Ruth Stevenson and also May Powell, a cousin of Spouter Powell. Jack and the other boys speedily became acquainted with these girls, and later on induced their parents to allow Martha and Mary to become pupils at the place.

Gif Garrison had often been a guest of the Rovers. When his father became the owner of a large bungalow at Big Bear Lake, the cadet received permission to use the place for a summer outing. How Gif, Spouter and the four Rover boys went to this resort, and what stirring adventures they had there with wild animals and with some students from a rival academy, is told in the volume preceding this, entitled “The Rover Boys at Big Bear Lake.”

“We certainly had some wonderful happenings at Big Bear Lake,” Fred had remarked when the boys were returning to Colby Hall after their outing. “I don’t believe we’ll ever have more strenuous times than those.” But in this surmise Fred was mistaken, as the pages which follow will prove.

It was just growing dark when the two automobiles entered Bridgeville and pulled up at the leading hotel. Tom Rover had telephoned ahead,[26] and a substantial supper awaited the crowd, to which, it is needless to state, all did full justice. In spite of the narrow escape during the ride, all of the young folks were in the best of spirits.

“Now tell us what’s the rest of this secret,” demanded Fred. “Where are we bound?”

“Don’t tell them, girls,” cried Tom Rover. “I’ll tell you what I’ll do,” he went on, with that same merry twinkle in his eyes. “I’ll give a five-dollar bill to the boy who first guesses where we are going to stop to-night. Now, no more questions, only keep your eyes wide open.”

“Well, so far, for all I know, we may be headed for New York City,” was Fred’s comment.

“Yes, and we may be headed for the north pole,” answered his fun-loving uncle, gayly.

As soon as possible after supper, the automobile trip was resumed. Mile after mile was reeled off in the semi-darkness, the powerful lights of both machines making the road almost as bright as day. Travel seemed to be light on the highway, and they made rapid progress for thirty miles or more.

“Hello, here is a brand new concrete road!” exclaimed Fred presently. “Looks as if it had just been opened.”

“Opened less than a week ago,” answered his[27] uncle. “Now watch sharp if you want to win that prize.”

On and on sped the two automobiles. Seven miles more were covered, and then they turned sharply to the left and mounted a long hill thickly wooded on either side. At the top of the hill both automobiles came to a stop.

“Why, I declare!” stammered Fred. “It’s Dexter’s Corners! There is the Swift River and there’s the railroad station at Oak Run! Why, we’re going to Valley Brook Farm!”

“Right-o!” sang out his uncle. And then he tooted the horn three times. At the same time the horn from the other automobile sounded out.

“Hello, they’ve discovered it too!” burst out Mary.

“Hurrah for Valley Brook Farm!” shouted Randy.

“What do you know about this?” came from the other automobile, in Jack’s voice. “Some surprise, eh? We’re going to have our Thanksgiving turkey on the farm.” And then he added quickly: “Will father and mother be there?”

“Yes, they’re coming up on the early morning train to-morrow,” answered his Uncle Sam.

In a minute more they had passed across the river in the direction of Dexter’s Corners. Then they struck the old road leading to the farm[28] where great-uncle Randolph and great-aunt Martha resided, and where Dick, Tom and Sam had spent so much time when their father, Anderson Rover, had been lost in the jungles of Africa.

“My, but the old place certainly looks good to me!” cried Jack, as they rolled up, both machines sounding their horns loudly.

The old farmhouse was glowing with lights, and now the front door opened, revealing Anderson Rover and Randolph Rover and his wife Martha. Then a side door opened likewise, and to the front came rushing Jack Ness, the old hired man, and Aleck Pop, the colored man who had been the Rovers’ servant for so many years.

“Hurrah for Valley Brook Farm!” shouted Randy, as he rushed forward to embrace his Aunt Martha, and the other boys echoed the cry.



“How good it seems to be at the farm once more,” remarked Fred, after the various greetings were over and old Aunt Martha had bustled off to get a bit of lunch for the travelers before they retired for the night.

“It’s a beautiful old place,” said Ruth to Jack. “I know I’m going to have a splendid time here.”

“It’s too bad I can’t be with you, Ruth,” returned the young major, rather wistfully. “But you know the old saying—a fellow can’t be in two places at once.”

“I only hope that motor-boat trip proves a pleasant one, Jack.”

“Oh, I think it will be a dandy. Ralph Mason, you know, is a fine fellow, and he said the motor boat was a peach.”

All the young folks were tired out because of the various doings of the day, and were glad enough to retire as soon as they had partaken of the refreshments served. The boys slept soundly,[30] and so did the girls, and none of them put in an appearance until it was time for breakfast.

“Hello, Jack!” cried Randy, as he met the hired man on the side porch. “How are you feeling these days?”

“Pretty good, everything considered,” answered Jack Ness, with a grin. “Ain’t quite as young as I used to be when your dad was a boy around here.”

“He tells me you used to have great times together.”

“Well, we did—when your dad and your uncles didn’t get to cuttin’ up too high.”

“So they cut up once in a while, did they?”

“They sure did!”

After breakfast Tom Rover drove over to the railroad station to meet Dick and his wife. Jack and his sister went along, while Mary took Ruth to show her over the place.

“Well, Aleck, you’re getting younger every day,” remarked Andy, gayly, as he met the old colored man bringing in some onions and turnips from the barn.

“Can’t say as I’s much younger, but I ce’tainly doan feel no older, Massa Andy,” was the answer.

“Haven’t had the mumps, have you?” went on Andy, somewhat anxiously.


“Mumps? No, sah, I ain’t had no mumps.”

“Then maybe it was the measles?”

“No, sah, Massa Andy, I ain’t had no measles either.”

“That’s queer. Perhaps it was chilblains, or lumbago, or turtle-foot?”

“No, I ain’t had no chilblains nor no lumbago. But w’at’s dat turtle-foot? I ain’t never done hear of him.”

“Never heard of turtle-foot?” demanded the fun-loving Rover boy. “Now isn’t that strange! I thought you were brought up in a place where everybody had turtle-foot once in a while. Your nose looks just as if you’d had it. And just look at your ears! They’re all curled up like dead leaves. Don’t feel as if you wanted to see a doctor or an undertaker, do you, Aleck?”

“Say, w’at you want to do? Scare dis nigger out of his life?” questioned Aleck, his eyes as big as saucers. “I doan feel nothin’ the matter with my ears,” and he felt of both ears carefully. “An’ my nose seems all right, too,” he went on.

“All right. I only wanted to know. We can’t afford to have anything happen to the best looking colored man on the farm,” returned Andy, with great seriousness.

“Say, you’re only jokin’, Massa Andy. You[32] is jest like your dad before you. He was always botherin’ the life out o’ dis coon. But he was a nice boy—yes, sah, he was. An’ he’s a nice man, too,” added Aleck, hastily.

“Never mind, Aleck. I brought you a sure cure for your ills,” continued the fun-loving Rover. “Picked it up at a store in Haven Point a few days ago. It will cure you of turtle-foot, rheumatism, misery, or anything else. Whenever you’re not feeling in the best of condition, just smell it real hard, and you’ll feel better at once,” and thus talking, Andy brought from his pocket a small article wrapped in tissue paper.

“Well, now, Massa Andy, dat’s right good of you to remember dis ol’ nigger,” answered Aleck, taking the package. “Want me to look at it right now?”

“Certainly, Aleck. And remember, if you don’t feel in the best of health just smell of it good and strong.”

Setting down his basket of turnips and onions, the colored man unwrapped the article somewhat gingerly. To his gaze there was displayed an imitation rabbit’s foot that looked almost real.

“A rabbit’s foot! Dat sure am good luck!” he exclaimed, his eyes glistening. “Ain’t nothin’ better.” He turned the article over in his hands. “I ain’t feelin’ so very scrumptuous this mornin’,[33] so maybe I’d better take a smell of it,” he ventured.

“Sure, Aleck. But remember, you have to smell good and powerful. Otherwise the charm won’t work,” returned Andy.

Aleck looked at the imitation rabbit’s foot again, and then lifted the article to his nostrils. He closed his mouth tightly and took a long, deep breath through his nose. The next instant the colored man jerked back his head and his eyes stared as if about to start from his face. Then his head went back and he gave a resounding sneeze.

Kerchoo! kerchoo! kerchoo! Loud and clear came one sneeze after another while the tears began to run down Aleck’s face.

“Hurrah, it’s taking effect!” shouted Andy, gayly.

“Dat dere rabbit’s foot am—kerchoo—am full of—kerchoo—pepper!” gasped Aleck Pop. “You done—kerchoo—played a—kerchoo—trick on de ol’ man!” And then he went off into another spasm of sneezing.

“That will make you feel like a new man, sure,” put in Randy, who stood near by watching proceedings. Andy had told him about the rabbit’s foot and what fun he hoped to have with the article.


“It certainly will clear out your head, Aleck,” was Fred’s comment, with a grin. “Keep right on sneezing.”

“Am dat a cure, or am it only ’nother trick?” demanded Aleck, between more sneezes.

“You’ve got to take it for what it’s worth, Aleck,” replied Andy, with a chuckle. “If you don’t like it, you know you can always pass it along.”

“Perhaps Jack Ness would like to try the cure,” suggested Randy.

“By golly, dat’s w’at I’ll do! I’ll try it on Ness.” And then Aleck Pop pocketed the imitation rabbit’s foot so well seasoned with cayenne pepper and resumed his errand.

The train came in promptly, and it goes without saying that Jack and Martha were glad to see their father and mother. Dick Rover looked the picture of health, and his wife Dora was as beautiful as ever.

“We’re sure going to have some family reunion,” remarked Jack, as they rode back to the farm. “Everybody will be on hand to eat the two turkeys Aunt Martha is having roasted.”

“And you just ought to see the pumpkin and other pies in the pantry!” came from Martha. “I’m sure all the boys will eat themselves sick.”

“Humph! I don’t see you and Mary holding[35] back on pie, or turkey either,” returned her brother, quickly.

It certainly was a grand family reunion. The dining table extended from one end of the dining room through the folding doors of the sitting room. At the head of the table sat Grandfather Anderson Rover, with old Uncle Randolph and his wife Martha beside him. Then came the fathers and mothers of the Rover boys, and the young folks occupied the other end of the table, with Ruth, the only outside guest, sitting between Martha and Jack. It was old Uncle Randolph who asked the blessing, and it can truthfully be said that all were thankful that they were together and in the best of health.

“I’ll tell you what—a gathering like this is something to be remembered,” remarked Dick Rover.

“Yes, indeed, Dick,” came from Dora, his wife. “There is no telling how long these gatherings can last. Your father and your Aunt Martha and Uncle Randolph are certainly growing old.”

It was a great feast, and all of the young folks ate turkey and cranberry sauce and mashed potatoes and turnips and boiled onions until they had to desist in order to save room for the pies and other dessert that followed.


“Gee, I feel like a stuffed alderman!” sighed Randy, at last. “I couldn’t eat another mouthful if I tried.”

“Same here,” said Fred.

“If I tried to eat another piece of pie, I’d bust off every button I’ve got,” was the way Andy expressed himself.

“Suppose we take a walk?” suggested Jack. “We need it.”

“I expect you want to work up an appetite for supper,” said Mary, slyly.

“We’ve got to do something, haven’t we?” her cousin retorted.

All of the young folks were glad to get out into the air again, and they ended by taking a long walk back of the farm where the Rick Rack River flowed. The lads had gone over this territory a number of times, and Jack pointed out to Ruth where his father and his uncles had had numerous adventures in the past—adventures which have been jotted down from time to time in the earlier volumes of the First Series.

“I wish you were going along on that motor-boat trip, Ruth,” remarked Jack, when the pair were strolling along a little apart from the others.

“It would be nice if we were all going,” admitted the girl. “But I guess the motor boat would be pretty well crowded.”


“Yes; Ralph said she wouldn’t hold any more than the crowd that is to go.”

“Of course you expect to be back in time for school?”

“Yes, we’ll be back unless the unexpected happens.”

All arrangements had already been made, and bright and early on the morning following Thanksgiving the four Rover boys said good-bye to their parents and the others and drove away to the railroad station at Oak Run. Here they took a train for the Junction, and there changed to an express for Worcester.

“I wonder if Ralph will be waiting for us at Woods Hole?” remarked Fred, while on the way.

“I hope so,” answered Jack.

The boys had lunch on the train, and at Worcester changed to another train which connected at Middleboro for Woods Hole. The run was rather a long one, with numerous stops, and as a consequence they did not reach Woods Hole until well toward evening.

“I see Ralph!” exclaimed Randy, as they alighted from the train, and the next minute the former major of the Colby Hall battalion was striding up to the Rovers.

“I was afraid the train might be late,” remarked Ralph, after shaking hands all around.


“How’s the motor boat?” questioned Fred, anxiously.

“Fine and dandy. I’ve had a man go over her carefully, so that she is in first-class condition.”

“What about Gif and Spouter?” questioned Jack.

“They’re coming a little later. Come ahead—I’ve got accommodations for all hands.”

In less than half an hour the boys found themselves located at an old-fashioned but comfortable hotel overlooking the waters of Vineyard Sound. Not far distant was the dock at which the Fancy, as the motor boat was named, was tied up.

The Rover boys were washing up for supper when Gif and Spouter arrived, having made the trip to Woods Hole in an automobile run by Mr. Garrison, who, however, had to proceed on his way because of business.

“Well, boys, have the best time possible,” said he, as he bade his son and the others farewell. “And above all things, don’t get into any trouble.”

“Oh, we’ll be all right, Dad. Don’t worry,” returned Gif; and a few minutes later the seven boys were left to themselves.

All of the lads were in the best of spirits, and it must be confessed that they were far from quiet when discussing their plans for the outing while in their rooms after supper.


“We’ll run from here over to Oak Bluffs on Marthas Vineyard,” announced Ralph. “We can stay there a day and run around to Edgartown and stay there also, if we desire. Then we’ll run straight over to Nantucket, where there is a splendid harbor. After that we can run over to Chatham and other places on Cape Cod.”

“Sounds mighty good,” said Randy.

The boys arranged many of the details of the trip and then turned in to dream of the happy times in store for them. But none of them dreamed of the many perils ahead, nor of the thrilling adventures through which they were to pass.



“Hurrah for a life on the ocean wave!” shouted Andy.

“A home on the rolling deep!” came from Randy.

“If you fellows don’t all get seasick before you get back,” interposed Gif, closing one eye suggestively.

“Seasick? Perish the thought!” cried Andy, tragically. “This crowd never gets seasick.”

“I’ll say it’s some dandy day for starting a trip,” put in Jack. “It’s as fine as if we’d had it made to order.”

“What a beautiful harbor,” was Spouter’s comment. “Isn’t it queer there aren’t more boats around?”

“You must remember the season is a little late,” answered Ralph. “During the summer you’ll find boats galore around here.”

“What about a harbor at Marthas Vineyard?” questioned Fred.


“Very fine. And another fine one at Nantucket,” was the answer.

The boys had left Woods Hole half an hour before and were now headed southeast for their first stopping-point, which was to be at Oak Bluffs on the island of Marthas Vineyard. The Fancy rode well, riding the swells of the Sound like a thing of life. The sun shone brightly, there was scarcely any wind, and it was indeed a perfect day for the start of the boys’ motor-boat cruise.

The Fancy was a new purchase by Mr. Mason, and a better equipped motor boat could scarcely be imagined. The craft was about thirty-five feet in length and just broad enough to be safe and comfortable without sacrificing too much speed. The cockpit boasted of an engine of the latest design capable of a high degree of speed, weather permitting. The boat boasted of a fairly good-sized cabin, all of the windows of which could be raised or lowered as desired. The craft was finished in oak and all of the fittings were of brass, now polished to the highest degree. Ralph had always been a neat boy, a stickler for order, and this had obtained for him the position of major of the school battalion, and his neatness and orderliness were now reflected in the appearance of the craft he commanded.


“Don’t you want me to take the wheel for a while?” questioned Jack, who had been itching to run the motor boat.

“Sure, you can take the wheel,” responded Ralph, readily. “I’ll take a squint at the engine. A new engine like that always needs looking over, you know, until it works down to a bearing.”

As space on the Fancy was somewhat limited, due to the fact that the boys had rigged up berths in the cabin in case they wished to sleep on the craft, they had brought along only such luggage as seemed absolutely necessary. Their things were soon stowed away, and then they gave themselves up to the enjoyment of the occasion.

“Beats being in school all hollow,” declared Andy, as they sped along on their course, the engine humming merrily.

“Don’t mention school,” returned his twin. “We’ll get enough of that when we get back.”

“What boat is that?” questioned Spouter, as he pointed to a large craft not far distant.

“That’s one of the lightships around here,” replied Ralph. “There are a number of them strung along between here and Nantucket.”

“Rather a lonely life, staying on a ship like that,” remarked Spouter. “I wonder how often they get ashore.”

“Oh, it isn’t as lonely as it might be farther[43] away,” answered Ralph. “I wish I had thought of it before—I’d have brought them some newspapers. Very often those going by throw newspapers aboard a lightship, for which the light men are very thankful.”

They had made out the island of Marthas Vineyard ahead of them, and it was not long before they approached one of the headlands known as West Chop.

“The other headland over to our left is East Chop,” explained Ralph. “And just beyond that is the town of Oak Bluffs. Between the two Chops is Vineyard Haven harbor.”

“I don’t see any oak bluffs,” commented Spouter, who had a keen eye for scenery and was watching the shoreline closely.

“I believe somebody said the oak bluffs were swept into the water long ago by a storm,” answered Ralph. “However, the town of Oak Bluffs is quite a nice one, and the place has a number of good summer hotels.”

The run into Vineyard Haven harbor did not take long, and soon the boys made a landing and went ashore. It was now close to noon.

“It’s too bad it’s so late in the season,” remarked Ralph, as they were riding along in a jitney they hired. “Nearly all of the summer hotels at Oak Bluffs are closed. But I think[44] we’ll find fair accommodations somewhere in the town.”

They interviewed the jitney driver, who seemed to be a native of the island, and were directed by him to the only large hotel that was open. There the lads decided to remain for the night, taking the afternoon off to explore the place.

“Certainly a pretty resort,” announced Spouter, after dinner and while they were riding around the town.

They found a splendid road along the shore leading to Edgartown and were told there was another fine highway to the westward which ran through Vineyard Haven to Indian Hill and Gay Head.

“You certainly ought to visit Gay Head,” said the jitney driver. “It’s only about twenty miles from here and a splendid drive, and Gay Head is well worth looking at. You’ll find some of the old Marthas Vineyard Indians down there, too, selling trinkets.”

The boys talked it over, and decided that they would have the driver take them to Gay Head and were soon on the way. After passing through Vineyard Haven they struck out through the country in the direction of Indian Hill, and then passed on through the woods and beyond numerous farms until they came out on a high headland[45] close to which was located a government lighthouse.

Gay Head proved to be a series of headlands consisting for the most part of clay of various colors. As the setting sun played upon this kaleidoscope of color, Spouter went into ecstasies.

“Isn’t it magnificent!” he cried. “Just look at the wonderful combinations of coloring—red, blue, green, brown, and a hundred and one shades! I never dreamed they had anything like this!”

Nearly all the boys took the path leading down from the top of Gay Head to the beach far below. But Andy and Randy, more venturesome, decided to find a way of their own.

“Be careful, there!” sang out Fred. “That stuff is awfully slippery.”

“Oh, we’re all right,” responded Randy. “Don’t you worry.”

He and his twin brother were walking along one of the larger of the headlands. There was a shelf a few feet below, and both attempted to scramble to this. But as Fred had said, the vari-colored clay was exceedingly slippery, and almost before they knew it the twins had gone flat on their backs. Randy clutched at Andy, and both did their best to keep from slipping farther.


“Dig in! Dig in!” gasped Andy, clutching vainly at the slippery clay beneath him.

“Dig in, yourself,” spluttered his twin.

He clutched at a slight projection, but the clay came away in his hand, and down he rolled over and over with his brother close behind him. They reached another ledge of clay, which broke beneath their sudden weight, and then on and on they went, bringing up at last in a mass of soft clay but a few yards from the sand that lined the water’s edge.

“Well, if that isn’t the dog’s false teeth!” gasped Andy, when he could speak. “We came down in a hurry, didn’t we?”

“And we saved a lot of time, I’ll say,” murmured Randy. Then he held up his hands. “Just look at these paws, will you?”

“Never mind the paws,” retorted his brother, and then began to grin. “Look at your clothing, will you? It’s all the colors of the rainbow.”

“Humph! Look at yourself. You look as if you’d been sleeping on a painter’s palette.”

The two boys arose and brushed themselves off as well as they were able. Then they limped down to the water’s edge, where they washed their faces and hands. By this time the others had come down by way of the regular trail and joined them.


“Anybody hurt?” questioned Jack, eagerly.

“Nothing hurt but our feelings,” grumbled Randy.

“You’ll have to have those suits cleaned and pressed, I’m thinking,” remarked Gif. “If you don’t do it, folks will take you for a couple of tramps.” And then he had to laugh, and everybody joined in, even the twins taking the mishap in good part.

After inspecting Gay Head, the lads visited the lighthouse, bought a few trinkets from some Indian children who had the things on sale, and then returned to Oak Bluffs. Here a tailor was found who promised to clean and press the damaged suits before morning.

The following day found the Rover boys and their chums once more aboard the motor boat. The gasoline tank had been filled, and soon they were on their way past Oak Bluffs to the harbor at Edgartown.

“It would be fine to spend a vacation here in the summer time,” remarked Jack, as they sped along.

“Look at that big hotel just facing us,” put in Fred. “I wouldn’t mind stopping there. A fellow wouldn’t have to go very far to go in bathing,” he continued, pointing to a long row of bathhouses almost in front of the hotel.


“Why don’t you jump in now and have a bath, Fred?” said Andy, grinning.

“Thank you, Andy. I’m afraid the water would be a trifle warm,” responded the youngest Rover boy.

At Edgartown, much to their surprise, the boys ran into several of their school chums, including Dan Soppinger, Ned Lowe and Will Hendry, always called Fatty, because of his unusual stoutness.

“Well, look who’s here!” cried Dan Soppinger.

“What brought you?” came from Fatty Hendry. “Did you run over here to take us back home?”

“No. We came over to hear Ned sing and play,” answered Randy, and this brought on a general smile, for Ned Lowe was well known for his manipulation of a mandolin and his propensity for singing funny songs.

“I don’t know about your running out to Nantucket,” remarked Dan Soppinger, after he had heard the plans of the others. “They’ve been having a lot of fog around here lately. You don’t want to get lost in a fog.”

“Now, Dan, don’t be a wet blanket!” cried Fred. “Who ever heard of fog in weather like this! Why, it’s just perfect!”

“At the same time, you can’t tell about the[49] weather around here,” broke in Fatty Hendry. “I’ve known it to change completely in a few hours. You had better be careful, and if you see any signs of bad weather you had better put into the nearest harbor.”

All of the boys remained at Edgartown over night and then the trip on the Fancy was continued, the motor boat now heading for the town of Nantucket, located on the island of the same name.

“Now we’ll be getting out on the Atlantic Ocean,” remarked Randy, as mile after mile was covered on the course eastward and when they had passed another lightship.

“They call this Nantucket Sound,” answered Ralph. “But it’s all so open that you can hardly tell where the Sound ends and the ocean begins.”

As Ralph was not acquainted with the course, they did not arrive at Nantucket harbor until well toward evening. The day, however, had proved ideal, and every one enjoyed the trip to the utmost. In the harbor of the quaint old town, which in years gone by was devoted almost exclusively to the whaling industry, they found a great number of craft of all kinds.

“There are some storm warnings up,” announced Ralph presently. “But I must confess that I don’t see anything of a storm.”


“Nor do I,” answered Jack.

They spent the evening in roaming around the quaint old town with its wide cobblestone main street and its narrow alleyways with their weather-beaten homes. They even took an automobile ride extending across the island to ’Sconset, a small colony located directly facing the broad Atlantic.

“Gosh! here’s where a fellow can stand and look right over to Europe,” announced Fred.

“You can if you have good eyesight,” chuckled Randy.

In the morning the storm signals were still displayed, but the Rovers and their chums could see no evidences of anything unusual brewing. There was little or no breeze, and the sun shone brightly.

“Well, what do you fellows want to do?” questioned Ralph, after they had breakfasted and were walking toward where the motor boat was tied up.

“I’d just as lief go on,” answered Fred.

“So would I,” put in Gif. “We’ve seen about all there is to see around here.”

“Yes, and remember this vacation isn’t going to last forever,” came from Randy. “Before we know it, we’ll have to be back at Colby Hall again.”

All the boys were eager to continue the trip,[51] and after seeing to the supply of gasoline and oil they had the hotel keeper pack up a generous lunch for them and then set off.

“Hi, you fellows! Better beware!” called out one old man, who looked as if he might have been a sea captain. “We’re going to have some bad weather before night.”

“We’ll watch out,” answered Ralph. “If we see anything that looks mussy, we’ll head for a harbor in a hurry.”

By studying the map, the boys had found that Chatham on Cape Cod lay due north of the eastern shore of Nantucket. It was not a great many miles to this well known summer resort, and all felt sure that they could make it without much trouble.

“Seems to be hardly any swell on the water,” declared Gif. “I thought it would be a good deal rougher away out here.”

“I guess it gets rough enough in bad weather,” answered Jack.

The engine of the Fancy was running smoothly, and soon they slipped out of Nantucket harbor and the island gradually faded from sight.

“A pippin of a boat, and no mistake,” remarked Spouter. “She rides the ocean like a thing of life. Ralph, it was certainly fine of you to offer this outing.”


“Better not say too much until we get back,” answered Ralph. “The best of motor boats kick up sometimes, you know.”

Ralph had scarcely spoken when the kick-up he had mentioned happened. The engine seemed to slow down, the cylinders missed fire one after another, and then, of a sudden, the motor stopped.

“Now what’s the matter?” questioned Randy, in dismay.

“That’s to be found out,” answered Ralph, and his usually confident face showed his concern.

“Gee, I hope we haven’t broken down!” whispered Fred to Randy. “We’re a good many miles from shore.”

Eagerly Ralph looked over the engine, and so did Jack and Gif.

“I think it’s the supply pipe,” announced Ralph presently. “It acts to me as if it was clogged up.”

“Dirty gasoline would do that,” answered Jack. “I wouldn’t put it past some of these strange fellows to sell you any old thing. They don’t care as long as they get your money.”

He and Ralph worked over the supply pipe, which was so tightly fastened on that it took their combined strength to loosen it. The gasoline did not run, and finally with the aid of a fine wire[53] they managed to bring out of the pipe a small quantity of waste filled with black dirt.

“Say, fellows, you want to hurry up with those repairs!” cried Andy, suddenly. “Just look at those clouds coming up!”

All looked in the direction pointed out, and it must be confessed that the hearts of the lads sank when they saw what was overtaking them. The clouds were obscuring the sun, and, almost before they could realize it, a heavy bank of fog rolled down, enveloping them completely.



Having cleared out the supply pipe as well as they were able, Jack and Ralph adjusted the same. Then the motor was started and after considerable spluttering the engine seemed to work almost as well as ever.

But all this had taken time, and now the sun was hidden completely, and the fog had settled down upon them like a gigantic blanket, shutting off the view in all directions.

“They had it right when they put up those storm signals,” was Fred’s dubious comment. “Gee! did you ever see fog come in such a hurry?”

“Yes, and just notice how wet and cold it is, too,” added Randy, shivering. “I’ll bet the thermometer has gone down twenty degrees.”

“We might as well put on our slickers,” suggested Jack, for they had provided themselves with raincoats for the trip.

“I suppose we’ll have to steer by the compass[55] entirely,” said Ralph. “Which way shall we head—back to Nantucket or for Chatham?”

“Which do you think is nearest?” questioned Gif.

“I think we’re about half way, Gif.”

“In that case, we might as well go on,” put in Spouter. “We don’t want to be tied up at Nantucket indefinitely. If we reach Chatham, or some other point on the Cape, then, if the weather continues to be bad, we can always get back by train.”

“Yes, but we don’t want to leave Ralph alone with the boat,” said Jack.

“Oh, that would be all right,” answered the former major of the school battalion. “I haven’t got to get back, you know. My time is my own. I can stay anywhere until the weather clears up, and then it will be an easy matter for me to run along the coast to New Bedford, where we keep the Fancy.”

“You’ll have to run slow, Ralph, and toot your horn,” said Randy. “We don’t want to smash into anything.”

“Every one of you had better keep his eyes and ears wide open. We’re right in the course used by a whole lot of steamers going up and down the coast. If one of those big vessels hits us it might cut us in two.”


“Wow! but you’re a cheerful customer,” murmured Andy. “You’ll have us at the bottom of the ocean before you know it.”

But in spite of this raillery, Andy knew as well as the others that there was need for caution. Two of the lads stationed themselves in the bow of the motor boat, and as they proceeded the horn of which the craft boasted was sounded frequently.

Not daring to take too many chances, the Fancy was run at half speed. Thus they had covered about a mile when they heard a hoarse whistle coming from a distance.

“There is one of the big steamers now!” cried Gif.

“I hope she isn’t headed our way,” put in Spouter, quickly.

The boys continued to toot the horn of the motor boat, and listened intently to the deep tone coming from the unknown. Slowly but surely the warning through the fog kept coming closer and closer.

“My gracious! she’s coming this way as sure as fate,” burst out Fred. “Toot that horn for all you’re worth!”

“Let’s yell,” suggested Randy, and all of the boys yelled with might and main, making as much noise as they had ever made in their lives.


“I’ve got an idea!” cried Andy, presently, and dashed into the cabin. He reappeared with a tin pan and a big spoon. At once he began to beat on the pan as hard as he could.

It was a time of intense anxiety. Although they strained their eyes to the utmost, none of the lads could pierce the blanket of fog which hung thickly on every side. They turned on the searchlight, but even this revealed nothing but the murky water just ahead of them.

And in that dense fog the hoarse notes from the steamer were highly deceptive. First the boys thought they came from the right, then from the left, and then they were certain they were dead ahead. Their nerves were tense, and every second seemed like an hour. And slowly but surely the warning whistle came closer and closer.

“Maybe you had better back her, Ralph,” suggested Jack, and at once the engine was started up again and set in reverse.

“There she is! On our right!” called out Randy, a moment later.

“She’s heading this way!” screamed Fred.

“Back her, Ralph! Back her, or we’ll be cut in two!” bellowed Gif.

Like a great ghost the bow of the steamer shone forth in the rays of the motor-boat searchlight.[58] There was a clanging of bells, and the big steamer veered off while the Fancy continued to back. As the stern of the large vessel swept within twenty feet of the smaller craft, the boys caught sight of many passengers and some officers peering anxiously over the rail at them. Then the big steamer was swallowed up again in the fog and the motor boat and its occupants were left to themselves.

It must be admitted that all of the cadets had been scared, and with good reason. Now that the peril was over, each felt a sinking sensation, and Fred and Spouter were close to fainting. It was several seconds before any one felt like speaking.

“It’s a good thing you backed, Ralph,” said Gif, soberly. “If you hadn’t done it we might have been cut in two.”

“We’ve got Jack to thank for that,” answered the young commander of the Fancy. “It certainly was a close shave, wasn’t it?” he added, with a sigh of relief.

“Well, we’re not yet out of our troubles,” came from Randy. “Where there is one boat like that there’s apt to be more. I think we had better head for the Cape as quickly as we can make it.”

“Oh, we can’t afford to run fast,” broke in[59] Fred. “The best thing to do is to run as cautiously as possible.”

“I’d give as much as ten dollars to be on land again,” murmured Spouter. “We were fools not to heed those storm warnings.”

So far there had been no rain. But now a miserable drizzle set in, as cold as it was dismal. The boys buttoned up their slickers tightly and pulled their caps well down over their faces. But with it all they felt far from comfortable and could not keep from shivering.

“Might as well have a bite to eat,” suggested Andy, after another hour had passed and they were still in the midst of the cold drizzle and fog. “Maybe it will warm us up.”

The lunch was passed around, and although some of the boys did not have much of an appetite, the food disappeared quite rapidly. With the lunch they had brought along a thermos bottle filled with hot coffee, and this beverage was comforting.

Presently the wind began to blow and the boys had hopes that this would dispel the fog. But they speedily found out their mistake. Once or twice they saw a bit of clearing, but then the wind died down and the fog seemed to become thicker than ever, the glass of the cabin windows running with water inside and out.


“A fellow doesn’t realize what sunshine means until it fails him,” was Spouter’s comment. “Gosh! how good it would seem if the sun came out as bright as it was yesterday.”

“Well, there is one thing to be thankful for,” said Jack, trying to be cheerful. “So far as I can see, this boat doesn’t leak a drop.”

“You wouldn’t expect a brand new boat to leak, would you?” asked Gif.

“Some boats might—if they had been kept dry too long,” put in Fred.

“I don’t think we need worry about the Fancy leaking,” came from Ralph. “And I don’t think we’ll have any serious trouble with the engine—although, of course, we may have some if that gasoline is too dirty. After this I’m going to have every gallon I buy strained before it is put in.”

Another half hour passed, and again they heard the hoarse whistle of a steamer, this time from their left.

“She’s coming up the coast, but she doesn’t seem to be very close,” said Andy. “Gosh! I hope she passes by without scaring the wits out of us,” he added, with a wry smile.

As before, the cadets strained their ears. The sounds kept coming closer, but presently they died away in the distance, much to the lads’ relief.


Ralph had stopped the engine, but now it was started once more, and again they headed in the direction of Cape Cod, steering, of course, entirely by the compass.

“I’m heading a little to the westward,” announced Ralph. “I don’t want to miss the shore of the Cape and get out into the Atlantic by mistake.”

Less than twenty minutes later they found themselves in more trouble. Again the engine stopped, and once more Ralph and Jack, aided by Gif, began a search for the trouble. They found the supply pipe flowing freely, and then examined the carburetor, and finally looked over the wiring.

“I think it’s in the battery,” said Jack, at last, and when the sparking was tested this proved to be a fact.

The Fancy was equipped with a full set of tools, but, even so, the boys made a long job of getting the motor to run. In the meanwhile, the wind had sprung up again, and they found themselves drifting eastward into the broad and rolling Atlantic.

“Gee, this looks as if we might never get back!” whispered Fred to Randy.

“Don’t say that, Fred, or you’ll have us all scared to death.”


“It wouldn’t be half so bad if we could only see where we are,” put in Andy.

“It would be a great deal better if the fog would lift,” came from Jack. “Then, if we couldn’t get going, we might hoist some sort of signal of distress.”

The wind now came in irregular puffs, and, having lost her headway, the Fancy rolled dreadfully and occasionally shipped considerable water. Several of the boys began to bale the craft while the others continued to work over the battery.

“Hurrah! She’s going!” announced Jack, at last, and all felt something of relief when the engine was again running. Then the craft was turned around and headed once more in the direction of Cape Cod.

With the wind came a regular downpour of rain, yet even this did not serve to dispel the fog entirely. Try their best, none of the boys could see more than four or five yards in any direction. They continued to sound their horn and occasionally use the flashlight.

“We ought to be pretty close to the Cape,” said Jack, as they moved along cautiously.

“That depends,” answered Ralph. “We may have drifted out into the ocean a long distance while we were making repairs.”

“We are certainly having our share of hard[63] luck,” was Gif’s comment. “But, never mind, I guess we’ll be out of it in an hour or two.”

“We can’t get out any too quickly for me,” muttered Spouter, who cared for the water less than any of the others.

Suddenly Fred uttered a cry which was taken up by the twins. All had seen something ahead on their left.

“Looked like a small boat to me,” declared the youngest Rover.

“It was a boat! A motor craft something like this one!” declared Randy.

“And it was loaded with boxes,” put in his twin.

“Why in the name of common sense didn’t they toot a horn, or something?” burst out Ralph. “We might have run right into them!”

“Did you say she was loaded with boxes?” questioned Jack, of his cousin.

“She sure was, Jack.”

“Then maybe she didn’t want to be seen,” answered the young major, grimly. “Those boxes may have been filled with liquor taken from some rum ship standing off the coast. I saw in a newspaper only last week that the rum ships were standing off the coast all the way from Maine to Florida. All they have to do is to keep outside of the legal limit.”


At the alarm given by Fred, Ralph had stopped the engine again. But now the trip was once more resumed.

“If that was a boat carrying liquor from some rum-runner to the shore, perhaps the big vessel isn’t far off,” remarked Jack, a few minutes later.

The words had scarcely left his lips when all on board the motor boat saw that something unusual was going on just ahead of them. Before Ralph could slow down, the Fancy plowed her way between several small boats, and then struck a glancing blow on the bow of a large three-masted schooner.

“Hi! what are you doing there?” came in a bellowing tone from out of the rain and fog.

“It’s a government boat!”

“They’re spying on us!”

“Jump them, boys! Don’t let ’em get away!”

Such were some of the cries uttered by those aboard the strange boats.

In the meanwhile, Ralph had shut off the engine, but the shock of the collision had thrown most of the lads off their feet. Then, before the lads could recover, the Fancy was boarded by half a dozen burly men.



“Where are you from?”

“Are you government spies?”

“They look pretty young for spies,” announced one of the men, as he faced Jack.

“What do you mean by slamming into our boats in this fashion?” roared one elderly fellow, a man with an ugly scar on his jaw. “Do you want to send us all to Davy Jones’ Locker?”

“Better search ’em, Jim. They may be heeled,” muttered another.

“Here, what do you fellows want?” demanded Ralph.

“Who are you? Do you own this boat?” questioned the man with a scar.

“It belongs to my father.”

“Where are you from—Hyannis?” asked another of the fellows, quickly.

“Up with your hands, all of you!” commanded the first man who had spoken.

As several of the men were armed, the boys[66] felt that it would be useless to resist, so they allowed themselves to be searched. Then one of the men went into the cabin and found a pistol which belonged to Ralph. Of course, the Rovers and their chums were very angry; but they saw that they had an exceedingly rough crowd to deal with—men who would go to any length to have their own way—so they felt that it would be useless to resist.

“Carrying any loose change with you, Buddy?” questioned one of the men, leering into Randy’s face and then glancing down at his watch-chain.

“What do you mean?” answered Randy. “If I’ve got any money I’m not going to give it to you.”

“Don’t be so sure of that, Buddy. What are you fellows doing out here, anyway?”

“I think they’re too young to be spies,” said one of the men, who seemed to be a trifle more respectable than his companions.

“Don’t you be too sure of that, Ike,” was the reply from the man with the scar. “The government is getting all sorts of people to watch us lately. They’ve even got some women folks on our trail.”

“Well, if they’re spies, we caught ’em nicely,” came from another of the crowd.


“We are not spies, and we want you to let us alone,” said Jack. “We were trying to find our way from Nantucket to Chatham, and we hit you by mistake. It wouldn’t have happened if you had had a horn blowing. We sounded our own horn every once in a while.”

“Never heard no horn,” declared one of the men. “You can’t put up a job on us! I know your sort! We ought to throw the whole bunch of you overboard!”

It was easy to see that all of the men had been drinking and that several of them were in anything but an amiable mood. There were three small boats and each of them was piled high with boxes of liquor of various brands. Evidently the boxes had come from the three-masted schooner, for the larger vessel rode high and appeared to be empty.

A war of words followed, lasting ten minutes or more. In vain the Rover boys and their chums pleaded that their coming upon the rum-runners had been an accident. One or two of the men seemed willing to believe them, but the majority of the law-breakers were of the opinion that they were spies.

“I’ve spotted a motor boat following us two different nights,” said one of the men. “I’ll bet a new hat this is the same boat. They thought they[68] would spot us with our cargoes and hand us over to the federal agents.”

“It isn’t true! Not a word of it!” said Ralph.

“We want you to let us go. Otherwise you’re going to get yourselves into a lot of trouble,” put in Gif.

These words seemed only to anger the men. They conferred among themselves, and then one of them, the fellow with the scar, came to Ralph.

“You go up on the schooner and talk to Captain Gilsen,” said he. “He’s the fellow to settle this.”

“And the rest of you go up with him,” put in another. “He’ll probably want to talk to every one of you before he lets you go.”

Somewhat against their will, one after another of the boys was hustled up a rope ladder that hung over the side of the schooner.


“What of the motor boat? Who is going to take care of that?” questioned Jack, as he went up.

“We’ll look after the motor boat,” answered the scar-faced man.

Once on the deck of the schooner, Ralph and the others found themselves confronted by a burly, dark-faced fellow with a fierce moustache. This was Captain Gilsen.

“Now, I want the straight of this,” the captain[69] said harshly. “No crooked story for me, understand!”

“We’re telling you the simple truth, Captain,” said Ralph, and then he and Jack and Gif told their story.

“Humph! Maybe that’s true and maybe it isn’t,” muttered the captain, tugging at his moustache. “For all I know, if I let you go, as soon as you get ashore you’ll get my friends into trouble.”

“Well, you’ll get into trouble if you don’t let us go,” answered Jack pointedly. “You have no right to detain us.”

“And you have no right to come up and bump into my schooner,” growled the captain. “For all I know, you’ve done a whole lot of damage.”

“No damage at all outside of a little paint being scraped off,” put in Gif. “And it was a pure accident. If you had had your horn blowing, it wouldn’t have happened.”

“Don’t you tell me what I ought to be doing,” stormed Captain Gilsen. “I was running a ship before you were born. You stay right here until I talk it over with the other men.”

While the captain was speaking another man had come on deck, rubbing his eyes and stretching himself as if he had been asleep. He looked at the boys in surprise, and then, as his gaze fell upon Jack, he uttered an exclamation.


“What in thunder are you doing here?”

Jack looked at the fellow sharply and then he was equally surprised. The newcomer was Bill Ferguson, one of the two men who had been pitched out of the overturned automobile.

“Do you know these fellows?” demanded Captain Gilsen, in astonishment.

“I know this fellow,” was the surly answer. “He’s the one I was telling you about—the fellow who was riding in the automobile that almost bumped into Billings and me.”

“What? The same kid? That certainly is interesting!”

“How did he come here?”

“You must have slept mighty hard, Bill, or you wouldn’t ask that question,” came from the captain of the schooner. “The whole bunch smashed into us with their motor boat. We don’t know whether they are spies or what they are.” And then the captain continued: “You watch the bunch while I talk it over with the other fellows. I want to be sure of what I’m doing before I let them go.”

The captain walked to the side of the schooner and then went down the rope ladder to one of the small boats. Here he held an earnest conversation with those who had first seen the boys.

“Well, I didn’t expect to see you quite so soon,”[71] remarked Bill Ferguson, with a leer at Jack. “I ought to give you a sound lickin’, that’s what I ought to do!”

“That accident was your own fault, and you know it,” answered Jack, not knowing what else to say. “You have no right to blame me for it.”

“Were you runnin’ the car?”

“No. My uncle was doing that.”

“Well, then, he’s the one, I suppose, I ought to blame.”

“Not at all! It was your own fault.”

“Humph! How did you get here?”

Again the story was told, Bill Ferguson listening with deep interest. He scowled sourly when Jack finished. Then, of a sudden, a crafty look came into his eyes.

“Where is the motor boat now—tied fast to the schooner?”

“Tied fast to one of the other boats,” put in Ralph.

“Is your motor boat an old one?”

“No, she’s brand new,” answered the young commander of the Fancy.

He had scarcely spoken when he realized that he had made a mistake. A new sea-going motor boat is worth considerable money, and Ralph, as well as Jack, felt that Ferguson must realize this.


“You stay where you are. I’ll see what the men have to say myself,” said Bill Ferguson, presently, and strode to the rail.

The boys felt in anything but a comfortable position. They were outnumbered at least three to one, and all of the rum-runners seemed to be armed. More than this, as they were on the high seas, the captain of the schooner would be likely to do about as he pleased.

“Say, Ralph, can’t we jump on the motor boat somehow and get away?” whispered Gif.

“If we don’t get away, I’m thinking these fellows will rob us,” came from Randy, who had not forgotten what one of the rascals had said about money.

“I don’t see how we can get to the motor boat,” was Ralph’s reply. “Do you think we can make it, Jack?”

The young major shook his head. He felt that it would not be safe to make the attempt in the fog and with the motor boat bobbing up and down on the swells of the ocean.

The conversation between Captain Gilsen and the owners of the small boats lasted for the best part of a quarter of an hour. Then, when the captain came on deck again, he held another conference with Bill Ferguson. Later on the Rover boys learned that Ferguson and Gilsen were not[73] only cousins, but also partners in their illegal traffic.

“I am sorry to say I can’t let you go just yet,” said Captain Gilsen, when he came back to the lads. “Some of the men are afraid that you are spies and will get them into trouble. They want a chance to get away first.”

“You haven’t any right to detain us,” said Ralph.

“Well, I’m taking the right. We’ll tie the motor boat fast to the schooner, and then you can just sit down and suck your thumbs for an hour or two.”

“And you can thank your stars you’re gettin’ off so easy,” put in Bill Ferguson. “I ought to give you a good lickin’, that’s what I ought to do,” he went on to Jack.

The boys had noted that there were at least six or eight sailors on board the Hildegarde, as the schooner was named. For all they knew, these men might also be armed, so it would be folly for them to show any resistance. This being so, they remained on the deck of the craft while one after another of the smaller boats took their departure. The Fancy was attached by a long cable to the Hildegarde and was left in charge of one of the sailors, who seemed to know how to manage such a craft.


“Now make yourselves at home on deck, but don’t get into mischief,” said Captain Gilsen to the boys, after the small boats were gone. “I’ve got a few things to attend to below deck. I’ll be up after a while and we can talk matters over.”

He and Ferguson went below and in the cabin held a whispered conversation lasting quite a while. In the meantime, the boys talked matters over, trying to determine what would be best for them to do.

“We are certainly in a pickle,” was the way Spouter expressed himself. “Half of the men on this boat look to be regular cutthroats.”

“They’re a bad bunch, you may be sure of that,” answered Jack. “If they weren’t, they wouldn’t be in any such business.”

“I wonder if we can’t haul the motor boat closer, drop aboard, and get away,” suggested Andy.

“We might jump overboard and swim for it,” said his brother, “but it would be mighty cold.”

When Captain Gilsen showed himself again his face wore rather a sickly smile.

“I’m sorry I have to tell you this,” he said. “But the fact of the matter is, we’re afraid to trust you to go ashore just at present. We want to give those other fellows a chance to dispose of their cargo. If you went ashore, you might spoil[75] everything. So we’ve concluded to take you along with us until the weather clears off. Then we’ll let you go.”

“You mean that we’ve got to go with you?” cried Spouter, in dismay.

“That’s it.”

“But suppose we don’t want to go with you?” put in Gif.

At this Captain Gilsen drew himself up.

“You have to go,” he replied curtly. “This is my ship, and what I say goes!”



“You mean to tell us we’re prisoners?” demanded Jack, his eyes flashing.

“Not exactly prisoners,” returned Captain Gilsen. “There is no use of getting so sour about it. This whole happening is your own fault—not ours. We didn’t invite you to come here and spy on our doings.”

“How long do you want us to remain?” questioned Randy.

“That will depend on how you behave. If you take things easy like, we’ll let you go just as soon as the weather clears. No use of letting you go now; you might bump into some of the rest of our ships,” and again the captain of the Hildegarde tugged at his heavy moustache.

“Well, all I’ve got to say is, this is a mighty high-handed proceeding,” declared Ralph. “However, you’ve got the best of us, and I suppose we’ve got to submit. Just the same, I want you to understand that we are protesting against this whole proceeding.”


“Oh, don’t let ’em give you any guff,” put in Bill Ferguson, who had followed Captain Gilsen to the deck. “They know they’re in wrong just as well as we do.”

“How long do you expect to remain in this vicinity?” questioned Fred.

“We’re not going to remain at all, now we’ve discharged our cargo,” answered the captain.

“You mean to say you are going to carry us off?” cried Gif.

“We won’t carry you very far. We’re headed down the coast, so when we let you go you’ll be able to get ashore easy.”

A bitter war of words followed, all of the boys insisting upon it that the captain of the Hildegarde had no right to carry them off in this fashion. Andy and Randy were strongly in favor of fighting for their rights; but upon seeing this both the captain and Ferguson showed their pistols.

“You behave yourselves and act like gentlemen, or else somebody is going to get hurt,” warned the captain. “This is my ship, and I won’t stand for any nonsense while you’re on board. Now the whole bunch of you get forward, and don’t let me hear another word out of you until I let you go.”

Then, as the boys were forced to retreat in the[78] direction of the forecastle of the schooner, Captain Gilsen called his mate, a fellow named Letts, and told him to take charge of the newcomers.

“Watch ’em closely,” the captain ordered. “Don’t give ’em a chance to arm themselves or put up any kind of a job on us.”

“Yes, sir. I’ll attend to it,” answered Letts. He was a short, stocky individual and anything but prepossessing in appearance. Later, the boys learned that he had once been a prize-fighter in England.

A short time later, and while the Rover boys and their chums were wondering what would happen next, orders were given to hoist the sails and start up the auxiliary engine, and soon the Hildegarde was moving away through the fog.

“Which way are you heading?” questioned Ralph, of the mate.

“Down the coast,” was the curt reply. “Now don’t ask more questions. When the call comes for mess, you can have your share with the men. If you have to stay on board over night, I’ll have them fix you up somehow in the fo’castle.”

The lads found the forecastle of the Hildegarde anything but a clean and sweet-smelling place, and so, after a brief survey, they were glad to come out on deck again and seek such shelter as they could find in the fresh air. All of the[79] hands on the rum-runner eyed them curiously, but said little, having evidently been instructed by Letts not to become communicative.

“Well, we are certainly in a pickle,” announced Jack, dubiously. “I must confess I can’t see any way out, either.”

“Nor can I,” came from Gif.

“The worst of it is, there is no telling how long they’ll compel us to remain on board,” broke in Fred.

“Gee! I wish we had our school rifles here,” remarked Randy. “I think we could soon show this bunch where they get off!”

“I’d like to put up a fight as well as any of you,” said the young major. “But I’m satisfied we would get the worst of it. You saw how the captain and Ferguson drew their pistols at the first sign of trouble.”

“Yes, and those rascals would use the pistols, too!” was Spouter’s comment. “Both of those skunks are about as hard-boiled as they make ’em.”

“Yes, and the mate and the crew are just as vile,” added Fred.

Not having access to the compass on the ship, the boys had no means of knowing how the craft was headed. The fog was as thick as ever, and now the horn was kept sounding as the auxiliary[80] engine drove the Hildegarde forward, the sails doing little to aid the progress of the craft.

Presently four bells struck, and one of the hands, a tall, lanky fellow who had been watching the boys furtively, came to them and announced that the evening mess was ready.

“You ain’t goin’ to git nothin’ like you’d git at that Astoria-Vanderbilt Hotel in New York,” he announced, his little eyes twinkling good-naturedly. “They don’t serve no table de hotie bill of fare on this schooner. You’ve got to have a cast-iron stomach to stand what you git.”

“I don’t think I care to eat,” announced Ralph. “We had a pretty substantial lunch on the motor boat.”

“The same here,” said Jack.

“Oh, well, we might as well see what they’ve got,” came from Andy, whose curiosity was aroused. In spite of the peril, the fun-loving Rover boy enjoyed the novelty of the situation.

“I think I could go any kind of a cup of coffee, as long as it was hot,” said his twin.

Led by the tall, lanky sailor, whose name they afterward ascertained was Ira Small, they sat down at one end of the mess table and were served with a stew of unknown ingredients, some rye bread and black coffee.


“This is the snake’s toothbrush, and no mistake!” declared Fred, in disgust. “I wouldn’t feed the pigs such stuff as this.”

The boys sampled the food, drank a little of the coffee, and then left the table, several of the hands sneering at them and looking anything but friendly. These hands had bottles of liquor which were passed around freely. One offered his bottle to Jack, but the young major shook his head.

“Thank you, I don’t drink,” he said briefly.

“Don’t drink, eh?” sniffed the sailor. “Well, you don’t know what you miss.”

Slowly the evening wore away and the Hildegarde kept on her course. The fog was now lifting slowly, and with this came an increase in the wind, so that the craft made much better speed than before.

Jack had noted that the tall sailor named Ira Small did not associate much with the other hands. The fellow was a peculiar sort of individual, given to talking to himself and to rubbing his chin as if trying to refresh his memory over something.

“That fellow is a character,” whispered the young major to Ralph. “He doesn’t seem to belong to this bunch at all. I wonder how he got here.”


“Maybe they shanghaied him, just the way they shanghaied us, Jack.”

“Do you think they’re going to keep us on board long, Ralph?”

“I don’t know. I must confess I don’t like the looks of things at all.”

“Randy has an idea that they’ll rob us of everything we’ve got,” said Spouter, in a low voice.

“Well, they certainly look like a bunch of thieves, or worse,” returned Jack.

“I made a mistake by letting that fellow Ferguson know that the Fancy is brand new,” said Ralph. “They’ll have their eyes on her, sure! They know she is worth quite a bunch of money.”

“Yes, and those rum-runners from shore could use such a motor boat very nicely,” remarked Randy.

“But if they keep the boat, how are we going to get ashore?” questioned Fred.

“Oh, maybe they’ll put us ashore in a rowboat,” answered Jack. “It would be just like them to do it. They may leave us with nothing but our bare clothing, and they may even take our things and give us some of their old rags.”

Looking at it from every point of view, it was a disheartening situation. One instant the boys felt like arming themselves as best they could[83] and making a break for liberty; but the next, caution prevailed, and they knew that such a move would bring on a fight that might prove fatal to one or more of them.

When it came two bells in the first night watch Letts told the boys they could turn in and showed them where they could sleep in some vacant bunks and on the floor of the forecastle.

“Aren’t you going to let us go ashore?” questioned Ralph.

“Not to-night. Perhaps we’ll be able to let you go in the morning. You couldn’t do anything, anyhow, in this heavy fog.”

There was no help for it, and so the boys turned in, although none of them undressed. In some bunks not far away several sailors were already snoring lustily, so the boys had to keep quiet for fear of raising a new row.

It was a night long to be remembered. For some time neither Jack nor any of the others could go to sleep. All were cudgeling their brains to think of some way by which they might gain their liberty. But nothing came to their minds that sounded feasible. At last, worn out by their exertions, one after another dropped off to sleep, Fred being the last to close his eyes.

It was early morning when Jack got up. The others were still slumbering, and as there seemed[84] no need to arouse them, he slipped quietly out of the forecastle to the deck. It was still raining, but the fog was clearing away rapidly and a strong wind was blowing from the northeast. All of the sails of the Hildegarde were set, and the auxiliary engine was silent.

The oldest Rover boy found only three hands on deck, one of whom was at the wheel. One of the hands proved to be Ira Small, and the tall, lanky sailor grinned slightly at him as he came up.

“Got a little sleep, I hope?” said Small, blinking his eyes and rubbing his chin vigorously.

“Oh, I slept fairly well after I once got to sleep,” answered Jack. “I was worn out—we had put in such a big day.”

Ira Small looked at him questioningly for several seconds and then looked up and down the deck to make sure that they were not being observed. Then he leaned forward impressively, his long neck extending like that of a duck.

“They ain’t got no right to keep you on board this ship, lad. It’s a blamed shame, that’s what it is! I wish I could help you and your crowd to git away.”

“Thank you for that,” said Jack, his eyes lighting up. “I’m glad to know we have one friend on board this vessel.”


“I reckon I made a big mistake when I shipped with Cap’n Gilsen,” went on the tall sailor, rubbing one ear and then the other vigorously and then rubbing his chin. “I knew he was in the rum-runnin’ business, but I thought I could switch him on to somethin’ worth more money.”

“Where does this schooner hail from?”

“From Jamaica, lad. But don’t you let ’em know I told you,” went on Ira Small, impressively. “They don’t like me none too well as it is, and they’d like me still less if they knowed that I was tryin’ to help you fellows.”

“From Jamaica!”

“That’s it. And the ship’s made two trips since I been on board. I wanted to desert the first time we come up here with licker, but I didn’t git no chance. You see, when I shipped, as I said afore, I thought I could int’rest Cap’n Gilsen in somethin’ that would be worth more to him than this rum-runnin’ business. But he won’t listen to me. He thinks I’m crazy.” Ira Small shook his head vigorously and then rubbed his chin once more. “Well, maybe I am. But just the same, some day I’m goin’ to find them thirteen rocks.”

“You’re going to find what?” questioned Jack, puzzled.

“I’m goin’ to find them thirteen rocks somewheres[86] down in the West Indies. I’ve got photygraphs of ’em, and I know jest what they look like.”

“Thirteen rocks!” repeated Jack. “What good would it do you to find those thirteen rocks?”

“Ha! That’s jest it!” The sailor closed one eye suggestively, glaring at the young major with the other. “The thirteen rocks is where the pirates buried their treasure—thousands and thousands of dollars’ worth!”



Ira Small glared at Jack in such an impressive manner that the young major of the Colby Hall battalion was not a little disturbed. He did not wonder over the fact that Captain Gilsen had thought the sailor crazy.

“It would be very fine to find the pirates’ treasure,” he returned briefly. “But just now what I am more interested in is getting away from this schooner.”

“I don’t blame you, lad! I don’t blame you! It’s a poor place for any one to be. An’ it’s much worse than it is now when the men git to drinkin’ and fightin’. I’ve been through it a dozen times, an’ I know! I was a big fool to ever come on board!”

“Well, why don’t you leave?”

“Easier said nor done, lad. The cap’n knows I don’t want to stay with him, an’ he an’ the mate watch me like a dog his bone. I’d git away fast enough if I had the chance.”


“We’ll talk about this again. Don’t say anything about it now,” warned Jack hastily, as he saw the mate of the Hildegarde approaching, having just come from below to take his trick at the wheel.

“Where are the other young fellows?” questioned Letts, shortly, as he gazed suspiciously at Jack and then at the retreating form of Ira Small.

“They haven’t come on deck yet, so I suppose they’re sleeping,” answered Jack. “Are you ready to let us take our boat and go?” he went on.

“We may let you go as soon as it clears a bit. But about taking your motor boat, that’s another story. Bill Ferguson, the captain’s partner, says he has a claim on it.”

“A claim? I don’t see how that can be!”

“It was you and your uncle who were responsible for smashing up an automobile with all the liquor aboard.”

“Oh, so that’s his scheme!” cried Jack, his eyes flashing. “He expects us to settle that bill, does he? Well, I’ll tell you right now, he has another guess coming to him! He and that fellow with him were responsible for that accident, and not I—nor my uncle. Besides that, the boat belongs to Mr. Mason. I have no claim on it.”


“Ferguson says you’re all in together and you’ll have to settle for that smash-up before you can have that motor boat.”

“What does he put his claim at? Not that I’ve any idea of settling it.”

“He says that it’ll cost at least three hundred dollars to repair the car, and he lost over a thousand dollars’ worth of liquor.”

“He had no right to be transporting the liquor.”

“Fairy tales, lad! Fairy tales!” answered the mate sarcastically. “Everybody’s doing it. You’ve got to settle with Ferguson before we let you take that boat.” And thus speaking the mate walked away to relieve the man at the wheel.

It must be admitted that the boys were in anything but a happy frame of mind when they went to get the scanty and badly-cooked breakfast which was offered to them. Jack had told the others what the mate had said, and all were justly indignant.

“I believe they’re nothing but a bunch of thieves,” was Fred’s comment. “This is only an excuse for robbing us of the motor boat.”

“That’s just what I think!” put in Gif. “Gee, I wish we could arm ourselves in some way and compel these fellows to run the schooner ashore.”


“I’m sorry I got you into so much trouble, Ralph,” said Jack to his friend. “I didn’t know that fellow Ferguson would be on board,” and he grinned.

“It’s not your fault at all, Jack,” returned Ralph, quickly. “That’s only an excuse to keep the motor boat. I believe these fellows haven’t any conscience and they will take everything we’ve got before they let us go.”

“Maybe they won’t let us go even then,” put in Randy. “You know the old saying, ‘Dead men tell no tales.’ They may take us to sea and drop us overboard.”

“Great Cæsar, Randy! you’re the cat’s slippers for scaring us to death,” burst out his twin.

“Oh, I don’t think they’ll go as far as that,” came from Spouter. “They wouldn’t dare. But they may take everything we’ve got of value, and then turn us adrift in one of their rowboats.”

“Well, what shall we do?” questioned Jack. “Shall we try to arm ourselves and fight?”

“It may come to that later, Jack,” answered Ralph. “But just yet I wouldn’t advise it.”

“Neither would I,” said Gif.

“A fight would only give them an excuse for shooting us down,” remarked Fred.

Slowly the day passed, and with it went the mist and rain. The wind was now blowing[91] freely, and the Hildegarde made good progress on her course. The boys were not given a chance to look at the compass, but, by the sun, knew they must be heading southward. Not a speck of land was anywhere in sight.

“That shows they didn’t go down the coast as they said they would,” said Jack, about the middle of the afternoon.

“Where do you suppose they’re bound for?”

“Perhaps they’re going straight back to Jamaica,” suggested Spouter.

“Or to some other island of the West Indies where they can get another supply of liquor,” added Randy.

“I’m going to the stern and take a look at the motor boat,” said Ralph.

“Maybe they won’t let you go to the stern,” said Andy.

“I’ll soon find out.”

“Ralph certainly has a right to look after his own boat,” put in Gif. “Gosh! these chaps are carrying things with a high hand,” he added, with a serious shake of his head.

“On the high seas a captain’s word is law,” said Fred. “So this fellow takes it for granted he can do as he pleases.”

“I wish a revenue cutter would show up,” came from Spouter.


“I guess we all wish that,” answered Jack, with a faint smile.

“Oh, if we could only have the whole crowd placed under arrest!” muttered Randy.

All of the boys walked toward the stern of the schooner, but speedily found themselves confronted by Captain Gilsen and Bill Ferguson. One of the sailors was now at the wheel.

“Where you going?” demanded the commander of the Hildegarde, curtly.

“I wanted to take a look at my motor boat to see if it was all right,” answered Ralph.

“The motor boat is all O. K., and I’m claimin’ it,” came from Bill Ferguson. “I’m goin’ to keep it for the damage done to my auto and the liquor I was carryin’.”

“I had nothing to do with that accident, and the motor boat belongs to my father,” answered Ralph.

“See here! You keep a civil tongue in your head, or there’ll be trouble on this schooner,” bellowed Ferguson. “All of you fellows are in this together, and I guess one is about as responsible as another. Better make ’em go forward, Cap’n, and behave themselves,” he added to his partner.

“I want the motor boat, and I want it right now,” answered Ralph. “The storm has cleared away, and we want to go ashore.”


“You talk like that to me, and the next thing you know you’ll be in the ship’s brig!” roared Captain Gilsen. “We’re on the high seas now, and I’m in command here. Every one of you get forward, and be quick about it! I’ll let you know when you can go ashore.”

“All right, we’ll go forward,” answered Ralph, stiffly. “Just the same, I want you to understand that you’re laying up a lot of trouble for yourself.”

Another war of words followed, several of the hands, and likewise the mate, coming to the scene to look on. In the end, there was almost a pitched battle, the captain shaking his fist in the boys’ faces and threatening them with all sorts of punishment if they did not behave themselves and do exactly as he ordered. Ferguson also took part in the argument, and even grabbed Jack by the arm.

“You thought you could get away from me; but you can’t,” he said, with a leer. “You’re goin’ to pay good and plenty for that auto wreck.”

“Let go of my arm!” returned Jack, and gave the fellow a shove that sent him backward against the ship’s rail. At this Ferguson became furious, and would have drawn a pistol had not the mate of the Hildegarde interposed.


“No use of fighting now,” he said. “We’ve got a better way of squaring accounts,” and he looked suggestively at Ferguson.

“All right. Just as you say,” was the surly response. “But that young cub has got to be taught a lesson, and I’m the man to teach it to him.”

This quarrel made the position of the boys more uncomfortable than ever. They moved forward while several of the sailors jeered at them. Evidently the whole crowd was against the lads, the single exception being Ira Small. The tall, lanky sailor had some work to do, and this he did without taking part in the discussion or what followed.

“Where do you suppose we are?” asked Fred, after another hour had passed and the breeze seemed to be stronger than ever.

“I think we’re somewhere off the Jersey coast,” answered Ralph. “But how far east I can’t tell. There isn’t a sign of land anywhere.”

Slowly the hours dragged by, the boys not knowing what to think of the situation.

“I wonder if we can’t get aboard the motor boat to-night,” said Randy. “Of course, we’d have to be very careful about it. But if she is tied on behind, why couldn’t we slip down on the cable, one after another, and get aboard?”


“That might be all right,” said Jack. “But we’d have to take some grub along, and we’d have to be sure that we had gasoline.”

It was not until evening that Jack had another opportunity to talk to Ira Small.

“See here, Small,” he said, when they met in the semi-darkness, “if you want to leave the Hildegarde, why don’t you come aboard the motor boat with us?”

“I’d like to do it first rate,” answered the sailor, in a whisper. “But we’d have to be mighty careful or they’d be sure to spot us.”

“Do you think we could get hold of any provisions and some water to drink?”

“It might be done, lad. But we’d have to be mighty careful, I’ll tell you. If they saw any of us runnin’ away they’d shoot at us as sure as I’m standin’ here.”

“What about gasoline? Have they any on board?”

“Yes; they’ve a couple o’ barrels. You see, sometimes those small boats from shore have to hang around a long time to keep out o’ the way of revenue cutters. Then they use up their gasoline, and they’re glad ’nough to git a new supply from the schooner.”

“Where is the gasoline kept?”

“In the oil room up in the bow.”


“Locked up?”

“Yes. But the lock ain’t o’ much account, and could easy be broke.”

“What about grub?”

“To tell the truth, I don’t think we could git a-hold of much. But we might git some—’nough to last, say, a day or two.”

“And water?”

“Yes, we could git water easy ’nough.”

“Could we make it to-night?” asked Jack, eagerly.

“Better not try it to-night, lad. After what happened on deck this afternoon, you’ll be watched close. Better take it easy and pretend you’re waitin’ for what may turn up. It may be they’ll let you go to-morrow.”

“I don’t think they will,” answered Jack. “But if they do, do you want to go with us?”

“I’ll go if I kin make it,” answered Ira Small. “P’r’aps I kin drop overboard quiet like and git aboard the motor boat without their seein’ me.”

“Is anybody aboard the motor boat now?” questioned Jack, suddenly.

“Oh, no. She comes along all right alone, so the sailor who was on board come back to the ship.”

“Well, Small, you stick to us, and we’ll stick[97] to you. You help us escape, and you shall be well rewarded.”

“I don’t want no reward. I want to git square with Cap’n Gilsen an’ his bunch,” answered Ira Small. “I’d like to git away in the motor boat an’ blow the Hildegarde to kingdom come. That bunch of critters on board this ship ain’t fit to live.”

“Well, I’ll see you again about this,” said Jack, as he noted the approach of Letts.

“All right, lad. I’ll be ready at the first chance. I want to git away just as quick as you do. I want to git back to the West Indies an’ spot the thirteen rocks. I’m after pirates’ gold!” concluded the lanky sailor, as he stalked away hastily.



Before they retired for the night, the boys talked the situation over once more.

“I don’t see why we can’t make a break for it,” grumbled Randy. “We can wait until about two or three o’clock in the morning. Nearly everybody will be sound asleep by that time, and we could steal to the stern and get to the motor boat by the cable without half trying.”

“Yes! But how about grub?” questioned Fred.

“And how about gasoline?” put in Ralph. “We couldn’t run very long on the supply that was left when we were captured. We were running mighty low, and I was afraid we would go short before we got out of the fog.”

“You’ve got to remember one thing,” observed Spouter. “If they found us trying to steal away in the darkness, they’d have no mercy on us. They’d probably handcuff us and throw us in the ship’s brig and feed us the poorest food they have on board.”


“Yes, and they’d probably steal everything we’ve got in the bargain,” came from Gif.

In the end they resolved to take Ira Small’s advice and wait at least another day.

All of the other lads had listened with interest to what Jack had told them about the lanky sailor’s yarn of thirteen rocks and the pirates’ hidden gold.

“It might not be such a fairy tale as you think,” said Fred. “If you’ll remember, the pirates of years gone by hid lots of gold and other treasure on out-of-the-way islands of the West Indies.”

“Yes, but that was a good many years ago,” answered Jack.

“I don’t care. I was reading in a newspaper only a short while ago about a hunt being made along the South American coast for a treasure said to have been secreted there by one of the notorious buccaneers.”

“Oh, we’ve all read such yarns,” put in Gif. “There may be some pirates’ gold somewhere. But I’ll wager it’s so well hidden it will never be brought to light. Why, folks have been digging for Captain Kidd’s gold ever since I can remember.”

“I wonder what he means by thirteen rocks?” mused Andy.


“There must be thirteen rocks around the place—maybe pointed ones,” said Jack.

“In that case, if I ever get down to the West Indies I’m going to keep my eyes open for the lucky thirteen,” grinned Randy.

The sea air made the boys drowsy, and although several of them thought to keep awake, almost before they knew it each of them was sound asleep. Nor did any of them rouse up until the golden sun was peeping up over the eastern rim of the ocean.

“Gosh, what a disagreeable smell around here!” muttered Gif, as he arose and stretched himself. “It makes my head ache.”

“That’s funny. I’ve got a headache myself,” replied Jack, who sat on the edge of one of the rough bunks, rubbing his eyes. “I feel just as if I’d been in a swing, or something like that.”

“Maybe we’re getting seasick,” came dismally from Fred. He, too, had just arisen, and his face was unusually pale while he seemed to breathe with difficulty.

“Say, Fred, you certainly look odd!” cried Jack. “Do you really think you’re getting seasick?”

“I don’t know,” was the slow response from the youngest Rover. “I never felt so queer in my life,” he went on, as he took a few staggering[101] steps around the forecastle. “Guess I need a little fresh air. It’s dreadfully close in here.”

“It can’t be so very late,” said Ralph. He felt for his watch, and then uttered an exclamation. “My watch is gone!” He thrust his hands into his pockets. “My money is gone, too, and so are my keys! Everything is gone!”

Jack and the others gazed at Ralph in astonishment. Then simultaneously they felt in their own pockets.

“My watch is gone too!”

“So is mine!”

“My diamond scarf pin is gone!”

“So is my ruby ring!”

“I’m cleaned out of everything!”

“Gee, fellows! they’ve robbed us!” groaned Randy. “They took everything we carried while we were asleep.”

“How could they do that without some of us waking up?” questioned Spouter. “We don’t all sleep like logs at once, do we?”

“I’ve got it!” exclaimed Jack. “Don’t you remember that funny smell we noticed when we first awoke? I’ll bet five dollars to a cent they drugged us!”

“That’s it!” broke in Ralph, eagerly. “Sure they did! That’s the smell of chloroform. I[102] know, for we used it once when dad chloroformed our old sick cat.”

The others felt that their chum was right, and everybody boiled with indignation over this new indignity that had been heaped upon them.

“I wish I had a shotgun—I’d show them a thing or two!” cried Jack, his eyes blazing wrathfully. “Captain Gilsen and his gang are nothing but a bunch of pirates!”

“Maybe the captain didn’t do it. This may be the work of Ferguson or Letts, or some of the others,” remarked Spouter.

But the others could not agree with this. They were of the opinion that the theft had been committed by those in authority on board the craft. Nevertheless, they took it upon themselves to question several of the sailors who were just arising.

“I ain’t got any of your stuff, Buddy,” growled one of the men. “And don’t you say I have, either, or I’ll knock your block off,” and he glared wickedly at the boys.

“If you’ve been robbed, go to the cap’n with your yarn,” said another.

“I will go to the captain!” returned Jack. “I’m not going to stand for any such treatment any longer!”


“And I’m with you!” broke in Randy. “Come on, let’s arm ourselves!”

The boys were thoroughly aroused, and each looked around the forecastle for something which might be used as a weapon.

“Take my advice and go slow, you kids,” growled one of the sailors. “The cap’n and Ferguson and Letts go well heeled, and they’d jest as lief fill you full of holes as not. You’ve seen a little roughness so far, but you haven’t seen nothin’ of what might happen if you got those men worked up. The cap’n won’t stop at nothin’ when he’s roused up.”

Nevertheless, the boys left the forecastle, each armed with a stick or a spike, or whatever came to hand.

Just as they came on deck they ran into Ira Small. The lanky sailor looked at the weapons they carried, and then shook his head dubiously.

“Don’t you do it. Throw them clubs away,” he whispered hoarsely. “If you start a fight you’ll git the worst of it and spile everything. Take a meek-like way. Pretend you ain’t got no backbone—that you’re scared stiff—and then maybe we’ll git a chance to outwit ’em. I know how I can git some grub and the gasoline you want,” he went on impressively. Then, as he[104] saw the mate approaching, he hurried back to where he had been busy coiling up some ropes.

“What’s the meaning of this?” demanded the mate, coming to a halt and eyeing the clubs and other things the boys carried.

“We were robbed last night, and we want to know who did it,” answered Jack, coldly.

“Robbed! What do you mean?” and the mate tried to put on an air of innocence.

“While we were asleep our watches, money and everything else was taken away from us,” said Randy.

“I don’t know anything about that,” replied the mate. “But you listen to me,” he went on sternly. “Drop those things, or it’ll be the worse for you.”

“I want to talk to Captain Gilsen and to that fellow Ferguson,” said Jack.

“They’re both asleep. You can’t see ’em.”

Some bitter words followed, and it was all the boys could do to keep themselves from pouncing upon the mate and giving him the thrashing they felt he deserved. In the midst of the talking, Captain Gilsen and Ferguson appeared, each carrying a pistol.

“You boys get forward and stay there, and no more nonsense!” roared the captain, when they had again mentioned the robbery. “If I[105] hear another word out of you, I’ll put you in the brig.”

“Oh, dear, this is dreadful!” exclaimed Andy, and suddenly burst out crying, much to the amazement of the others. But when he had his back turned on the captain and the other enemies, he winked at his twin and at Fred.

“Cry!” he whispered. “Cry for all you’re worth! Make ’em think we’re licked bad. Then they won’t watch us.”

Catching the cue, Fred began to blubber, and Randy followed suit. At first the others were amazed, but then they saw through the trick, and all suddenly looked glum.

“It ain’t fair,” whined Jack, in tearful tones. “It ain’t fair at all, Captain Gilsen. I think you ought to let us go.”

“I want to go home!” groaned Gif. “I want to go home!”

“We didn’t do anything to you,” said Spouter, mournfully.

“Some day you’ll catch it! You see if you don’t!” bewailed Ralph, and the seven boys retreated slowly to the forward deck of the Hildegarde, acting as if thoroughly cowed.

“I reckon they’ve learned their little lesson,” was Captain Gilsen’s comment. “I thought I could break ’em sooner or later. I’ll bet in another[106] day they’ll be willing to eat out of my hand.”

“I’ve got another scheme,” said Ferguson, a few minutes later, when the boys were out of hearing. “Perhaps we can make a barrel of money out of this.”

“How so?”

“It looks to me as if those boys came from pretty wealthy families. They wear good clothes and they all had fine jewelry and plenty of spendin’ money. Don’t you think their folks would pay a good price to have the boys back home safe and sound?”

“You mean hold them for a ransom, Bill?”

“Why not? That has been done before, and folks have paid handsome, too.”

“Humph! I hadn’t thought of that, but it might be worth considering,” answered the captain of the Hildegarde, pulling meditatively at his moustache.

“It would be a dead easy thing to do,” continued Ferguson. “We could sail the schooner over to one o’ those little islands where nobody lives and git ’em to sign letters askin’ their folks to pay up to have ’em released. Why, say, Cap’n, we might make thousands of dollars out of it—a good deal more’n we ever made out o’ the liquor business.”


“Yes, but think of the risk we’d be running. It’s a big crime to kidnap people like that.”

“Well, look at the risk we run gettin’ liquor into the States. Some day those revenue cutters will open fire on us and maybe blow us to pieces.”

“Let’s find out a little more about the boys,” said Captain Gilsen, after a moment’s thought. “If their folks are real well off, it might pay to do as you say. I think the crew will stand for it all right enough, and I know Letts would be all right—he’s been mixed up in half-a-dozen shady transactions.”

“Why, say! just look at what we might make out of it,” cried Ferguson, his eyes glistening greedily. “If we got only ten thousand dollars for the safe delivery of each boy, that would amount to seventy thousand dollars!”

“Humph! If their folks are really wealthy, perhaps we can get two or three times that amount out of ’em, Bill,” returned the captain, tugging on his moustache more fiercely than ever. “If we go into this at all, we might as well do it right. Of course, we’d run a big risk, but a hundred thousand dollars—or maybe two hundred thousand—isn’t to be sneezed at.”



“Andy, I never knew you could cry so cheerfully,” remarked Jack, when the boys were once more by themselves and were sure that no outsiders were observing them.

“He’d make a hit on the vaudeville stage,” came from Spouter. “Gosh! when he first started I thought he was really crying.”

“So did I,” added Gif. “And I didn’t know what to make of it, for Andy isn’t built that way.”

“Now we’ve started to appear as if we are half scared to death, I suppose we’ve got to keep it up,” remarked Randy.

“Sure we’ve got to keep it up,” answered Jack, promptly. “It’s a good stunt. We have to hand it to that sailor, Small. He certainly had the right idea.”

“Maybe he isn’t as crazy as some people think,” said Fred. “Lots of people are peculiar, but that doesn’t make them insane.”


“Well, we didn’t find out anything about the things that were stolen,” remarked Ralph.

“If we leave the schooner, we’ll probably have to leave those things behind,” said Fred. “It’s a shame! I’d like to sneak into the cabin some time and take a look around.”

“So would I!” came simultaneously from the twins.

“I don’t blame you,” answered Jack. “Just the same, please remember that if we want to get away from this schooner soon, we’ve got to be mighty careful about what we do. If they discover us in any underhand work, they’ll come down on us like a thousand of brick.”

While the boys talked the matter over near the bow of the schooner, Captain Gilsen, Ferguson and Letts held a conference in the cabin of the Hildegarde.

“That sounds pretty good to me,” said the mate, after Ferguson had unfolded the plan already broached to the captain. “Of course, we might have a lot of trouble communicating with those boys’ folks, and more trouble getting them to pay up, but I think it could be done.”

“Of course it could be done!” replied Captain Gilsen, tugging on his moustache as usual. “I’ve been thinking it over hard, and I’m sure I know just where we can take ’em; a small island[110] off the coast of Porto Rico. From there we can easily get into communication with the mainland and send out telegrams to their folks.”

“Those boys may cut up pretty wild when they understand what is going on,” remarked the mate.

“I don’t think they will,” answered Ferguson. “We’ve got ’em pretty well cowed.”

“How you going to keep them from pestering us about going ashore with the motor boat?”

“We’ll concoct a story that the revenue cutters are after us, and that we’ve got to keep pretty well out to sea,” was the reply. “We can tell ’em that it’s too rough ’way out there for the motor boat and that they’ll be safer aboard the schooner.”

Thereafter the three men went into an earnest discussion of the subject and finally decided that they would go into the scheme on equal shares and that each would assume an equal risk.

“We can easily buy up the whole crew,” said Letts. “I think a hundred dollars to each man will fix it up.”

“There’s only one fellow I don’t trust, and that’s Small,” said Captain Gilsen. “He’s a first-class hand, but there’s something about him I don’t like.”


“Oh, don’t worry about Small. We can easily manage him,” sneered the mate. “Why, that fellow is half crazy. He’s talking about pirates’ gold and that sort of rot all the time. Just promise him that you’ll go after that treasure after this affair is taken care of, and he’ll be all right.”

Then the three men discussed the subject of whether or not it would be advisable to treat the boys better than had been done.

“They’re not common sailors, or anything like that,” remarked Letts. “I suppose it galls ’em to be herded in the fo’castle. Maybe they’d take it better if we gave ’em accommodations in the cabin, although how we’re going to crowd ’em in, I don’t see.”

“Not a bit of it!” howled Ferguson. “I don’t believe in bein’ nice to ’em! Treat ’em rough—that’s my way! Treat ’em rough!”

“I think Bill is right,” said the captain. “If we continue to treat ’em rough, they’ll be easier to handle when it comes to writing letters home in order to obtain their release. We’ll scare them out of their wits.”

“And on the other hand, if they agree to do everything we tell ’em, we can promise that they’ll get back everything we took away from ’em,”[112] added Ferguson. “Of course, we don’t have to give the things back, but we can promise it,” and he leered wickedly at his companions.

However, there was one thing the plotters did do, somewhat to the boys’ surprise. When the call came to dinner they found that Captain Gilsen had given orders that they have one of the tables in the forecastle to themselves. And on this the meal served was a decided improvement over those previously supplied.

“This is something like,” said Randy, as he tasted the stew and then sipped some of the coffee. “It shows the cook knows his business when he wants to.”

“Those men have got something up their sleeve or they wouldn’t be giving us this food,” returned Jack, suspiciously.

“Perhaps they’re getting a little bit scared over what may be coming to them,” said Gif.

“No, I don’t believe it’s that, Gif,” returned the young major.

It was not until late in the afternoon that Letts came up to where Jack and Ralph were standing and smiled rather dubiously at them.

“We’re in a hole, and you fellows have got to stand for it,” said the mate. “We thought we could run closer to land and let you take your motor boat and go ashore. But we saw some[113] signals a while back, and we’ve got to change our plan entirely.”

“Signals?” queried Ralph. “What sort of signals? I didn’t see anything.”

“No; because you weren’t looking in the right direction and because you didn’t have a spy-glass,” returned Letts. “The captain got signals that two revenue cutters are searching for us. So instead of going inshore we’re going out.”

“What do you mean—out on the ocean?” demanded Jack, quickly.

“That’s it, lad. And we intend to keep out until we’re sure the coast is clear. Besides that, we’ll be better off outside, I think, because another storm is coming.”

The boys did not know whether to believe the mate of the Hildegarde or not. However, there was nothing they could do to improve matters, so they did not argue with him. They had already noted that the sun was going under some heavy clouds and that the breeze was freshening.

“They’ve certainly got something up their sleeve regarding us,” said Jack, when he and Ralph were telling the others what the mate had said.

“Well, it doesn’t look as if we can do anything about getting away to-night,” said Fred. “I just had a chance to talk to Ira Small, and he said it[114] wouldn’t be any use—that we’re too far out on the Atlantic and that the storm is coming up fast.”

“I wonder what they’ll do with the motor boat if the storm gets very heavy!” cried Ralph. “Maybe they’ll cut it adrift!”

“They won’t want to throw away such a valuable craft unless it becomes absolutely necessary,” returned Jack. “I think those fellows are out for every dollar they can get—their robbing us proves it!”

By the time the boys went to supper the wind was blowing strongly and the Hildegarde was pitching and tossing on the broad bosom of the Atlantic.

“It’s goin’ to be a real storm, to my way o’ thinkin’,” said Ira Small, when he had a chance to speak to the lads. “You kin be thankful you’re not out in it in your motor boat. That craft couldn’t make much headway in sech a sea as the wind is kickin’ up.”

“Have they done anything about the motor boat?” questioned Ralph.

“Yes, they’ve covered her with a tarpaulin and hitched her on with a cable that’s twice as long and three times as strong as the first one was. I reckon they’re goin’ to save her if they possibly kin, no matter how hard it blows.”


“Where do you think we are, Small?”

“We’re jest about east o’ Cape Hatteras. An’ lemme tell you, that’s some place to be in when a storm comes.”

“Yes, we’ve heard all about Cape Hatteras and the awful storms they have in that vicinity,” said Fred. “Gee, maybe this old tub will go to the bottom!”

That night on the Hildegarde proved to be one the boys never forgot. The wind seemed to blow stronger and stronger until the vessel was rolling and pitching in a manner that made it dangerous to cross the deck. Nearly every stitch of canvas had been taken in, only enough being left set to give the schooner steerage way. There were several showers, but nothing in the way of a heavy downpour, and what little there was of thunder and lightning kept in the distance.

“Well, I’m mighty thankful we’re not out in the motor boat,” remarked Randy.

“So am I,” answered Fred. “I don’t believe we could do a thing in such a wind as this.”

“Do you notice that it is not as cold as it was?” remarked Jack. “This breeze is quite warm.”

“That’s because it is coming from the south,” answered Spouter. “You must remember that the farther south we go, the warmer it’s going to be.”


“If we’re off Cape Hatteras we’re a good way from home,” put in Ralph. “Hang the luck, anyhow! Why did we have to run into these miserable bootleggers?”

By midnight the storm was at its height. Sleep for the boys was out of the question, and they huddled together near the door of the forecastle, talking in low tones and wishing for daylight to come.

“It sure is a humdinger of a night!” exclaimed Ira Small, when he came in from his watch on deck. “The sea is gettin’ worse an’ worse ev’ry minute.”

“How long do you think this storm will last, Small?” questioned Jack.

“Can’t say, lad. It may blow itself out by mornin’, and it may last two or three days. We ain’t in the worst of it—the worst seems to be farther down the coast.”

To the dismay of the boys, the storm at daybreak was as bad as ever. The sea was now running strong and the Hildegarde could hardly keep on her course despite the fact that some sail was set and the auxiliary engine was being used.

The storm seemed to have a bad effect on the sailors. As much as possible they remained in the forecastle, and three or four of them insisted upon drinking heavily. Soon there was a violent[117] quarrel, and one man was hit on the head with a bottle and knocked unconscious. Then the captain and the mate were called in, and two of the sailors were placed in irons until they could sober up.

“I must say I’m disgusted with the bunch sailing with me,” said Captain Gilsen to Ferguson, after the quarrel had quieted down. “If we can make that bunch of money we spoke about out of those kids, I’ll be willing to discharge every one of them.”

“Well, we’d better hold ’em together the best we can until we’ve put our plan through,” answered Ferguson.

All day long and the following night the wind kept up, and the Hildegarde had all it could do to keep on its course. But to the delight of the boys, they learned that the motor boat was still in tow and right side up.

“The tarpaulin kep’ most o’ the water out,” explained Ira Small. “I think she’ll be as good as ever when the storm clears away.”

“Let’s get what sleep we can,” said Jack, to his chums. “All of the others on board the schooner will be worn out because of the storm. Then, when it calms down, they’ll want to sleep, and that maybe will give us a chance to see what we can do.”


It was not until the following afternoon, when the storm had subsided and matters were running fairly smooth, that Ira Small sidled up to Jack, Ralph and Gif, who chanced to be standing near the forward rail.

“I’ve got hold o’ that gasoline, and I know how I kin git some grub and water,” whispered the lanky sailor hoarsely. “How about it? Do you want to make a try for it to-night?”

“Do you think it would be safe, Small?” questioned Ralph.

“You know more about that there motor boat nor I do, but if I was you boys, I’d not stay on this here schooner a minute longer’n I had to. I jest heard somethin’ that you young fellows might like to hear.”

“What is that, Small?” asked Jack.

“If I tell you, will you promise not to give me away? If they found out I told you, they might kill me.”

“We won’t say a word,” said Gif, quickly. “What have you learned?”

“I’ve learned that they ain’t goin’ to let you go nohow,” answered the lanky sailor. “They’re goin’ to take you to some island where they’ll hold you prisoners till your folks pay a whole barrel o’ money to ransom you.”



“Hold us prisoners?” burst out several of the boys in chorus.

“That’s what, lads. I had a little work to do at the stern, and I overheard a talk between Ferguson and the mate. They got it all fixed with the cap’n to hold you till your folks pay a whole lot of money to have you set free.”

“The rascals!” cried Jack, indignantly. “I knew they had something up their sleeve! I said so several times!”

“I guess the quicker we make a break for liberty the better,” put in Gif.

“I’ll not stay on this schooner another night if I can possibly help it!” was the way Ralph expressed himself.

“Are you sure you can get the gasoline and the grub and water?” questioned Fred, hopefully.

“Yes, lad. But, of course, some o’ you have got to help me.”

“We’ll all help!” came eagerly from Randy. “Just tell us how we can work it.”


“I’ve found out where they keep the key to the oil room, and I’ve found two empty ten-gallon cans which can be filled with gasoline. There is plenty of water, and we can put it into anything that comes handy.”

“What about grub?” questioned Ralph.

“That’s goin’ to be the hardest part of it; but there is a good store of everything in the cook’s galley, and I think we kin git in there and help ourselves after he turns in. Of course we’ll have to be mighty careful. If the cap’n caught me tryin’ to git away, he might shoot me down as a deserter,” went on the lanky sailor, solemnly.

After that the boys, although trying outwardly to appear calm, were keyed up to the utmost excitement. They looked around the forecastle for some things which might hold drinking water and found a dozen or more bottles and likewise the corks that had been in them. Then they found a jug containing some vile-smelling liquor.

“We can empty that jug when the time comes and fill that with water also,” said Ralph. “We can tie it fast to the cable and let it slide down to the motor boat.”

“Gee, that’s an idea!” said Andy. “Maybe we can slide some other things down, too. Then we can cut the cable and haul the stuff on board.”

“I wish we had some chloroform to use on[121] the whole bunch,” said Fred. “Then maybe they wouldn’t wake up until well in the morning, and by that time we might be out of sight.”

That evening all of the boys ate frugally, stowing away as much of the meal as they could in their pockets. Andy also watched his chance, and took half a loaf of bread from one of the other tables which the cook had served.

After another conference with Ira Small, it was decided that Jack and Ralph should aid the sailor in getting the gasoline. The others were to watch their chance and enter the cook’s galley and confiscate anything they could lay hands on in the way of food.

“And don’t forgit the water,” warned Ira Small. “On the ocean that’s more important than something to eat.”

“We know all about that,” answered Fred.

It was not until nearly midnight that the boys managed to crawl forth from the forecastle one by one. Several of the sailors were asleep close by, and the lads felt that all might be lost if any of these were awakened.

“I’m going to arm myself,” whispered Ralph. “And if anybody starts anything, I’m going to try to knock him in the head.”

The others thought this a good suggestion, and[122] in the end every lad picked up whatever was handy in the way of a weapon. Then, watching their chance, one crowd made its way to the cook’s galley while the other slunk like shadows to the oil room at the bow.

It proved an easy matter to open the door of the oil room with the key Ira Small had found. But it was not near so easy to run the gasoline from one of the barrels into the two ten-gallon cans. They did not dare make a light for fear of an explosion, and it was difficult to work in the darkness.

But at last they had the cans filled and then Ira Small led the way to the deck once more.

“Now each of you follow me and carry one of the cans,” he said. “I’ll go ahead an’ see if the coast is clear. Don’t make no noise.”

As silently as a ghost the lanky sailor moved toward the stern of the schooner, on the lookout for any one who might be on deck. Not far behind him came the two boys, each struggling with his ten-gallon can of gasoline, a weight by no means light.

“Now go slow,” whispered Small, as he stepped back and brought the lads to a halt. “I don’t believe that fellow at the wheel is more’n half awake, but we don’t want to disturb him.”


As silently as possible, Ralph and Jack followed Small up the few steps leading to the stern deck. There in the semi-darkness they saw one of the sailors leaning heavily on the wheel. He had been drinking freely that evening, and for that reason was not near as alert as he might otherwise have been.

As they passed the cabin they saw the swinging lamp was turned low, but no one was in sight, and they reasoned that the captain and the mate, as well as Ferguson, had retired.

In the meantime, the other boys had made their way to the cook’s galley. It was so dark inside that they could not see a thing, and so were compelled to light one of some matches which Randy had obtained from Small. Then they found a candle and lit this, shading it with their hands so that it might not let out any more light than was needed.

“Here’s a pan of baked beans,” whispered Fred. “What about taking those?”

“Fine—if we can carry them,” answered Spouter.

“Here are some old flour bags. Why can’t we put some of the stuff in those?” suggested Fred, bringing the bags forward.

“A good idea, Fred!” said Andy. “Let’s put[124] all the stuff in bags; then we can tie it over our shoulders and thus keep it out of the water as much as possible when we slide down that cable to the Fancy.”

In a very few minutes the boys had collected a miscellaneous lot of food, including the beans, several loaves of bread, some biscuits, some canned vegetables, bacon, butter, cheese, coffee, condensed milk, sugar and some dried fruit. Everything was placed in the empty bags and in a bit of sail cloth they found tacked up over some shelves.

“Now I guess we’ve got about all we can carry,” whispered Gif. “We don’t want to overload ourselves nor stop ourselves from making a quick get-away.”

The boys were on the point of leaving the galley with their spoils when suddenly they heard a noise outside and a moment later a burly form darkened the doorway.

“Who’s knockin’ round in my galley?” demanded the voice of the colored cook. “You-all ain’t got no right to take no food, and you know it! You had your supper. Now you got to wait for breakfas’. Come out o’ there!”

The boys were so taken by surprise that for the instant they did not know what to do. Then Gif whispered to Spouter:


“Let’s try to capture him. If he raises an alarm, we’ll never get away.”

“All right. Let’s jump him, boys!” called out Spouter to the others, and then leaped upon the cook, and Gif followed.

The colored cook was as much surprised as the boys had been, and before he could recover from his astonishment he found himself dragged into the galley and five boys doing their best to bear him to the floor.

“Hi! Hi!” he sputtered. “What you-all up to? Stop that! Let go of me!”

“Shut up! Don’t dare make a sound!” whispered Gif, in his ear. “Shut up!”

“Who is you?” questioned the cook. “Is you one o’ those boys we done took aboard the other day?”

“If you don’t keep quiet, we’ll heave you overboard,” added Fred, although he had no intention of doing anything of the sort.

“Chile, chile! don’t heave me overboard!” groaned the cook. “I can’t swim! Let go of me! I ain’t done nothin’!”

During their days on the schooner the boys had noticed a small hatch only a few feet from the door to the galley. This hatch had been open to ventilate the hold, and Gif had looked down to find the spot beneath empty.


“You keep quiet,” he ordered, and then he said to his chums: “I know what to do with him. As soon as I tell you to come out, bring him along. And somebody had better put his hand over the fellow’s mouth for fear he may start to yell.”

Slipping outside, Gif made his way to the small hatch and raised it. Then he called softly to the others, and they came outside, dragging the cook with them. Randy had his hand over the fellow’s mouth, and it must be confessed that the colored cook was thoroughly frightened.

“Drop him down the hatchway, quick!” ordered Gif.

Without ceremony, this command was carried out, and the poor colored cook found himself shooting through utter darkness, to land in a heap in the hold of the schooner. Then the boys replaced the hatch and ran back into the galley to get the food they had packed up, and also the bottles and the jug of water. They were just starting for the stern when they found themselves confronted by Ira Small.

“Got the stuff?” whispered the lanky sailor, hoarsely.

“Yes,” answered Andy.

“I thought I heard a little noise up here.”


“You did,” answered Gif. “We were spotted by the cook.”

“And we dropped him down the hatchway over there,” added Spouter.

“Good for you, lads! Good for you! Now come on—there ain’t no time to lose. That fellow hangin’ over the wheel may rouse up at any moment. Besides that, it’s almost time for the next man to take his trick.”

Once more Ira Small led the way to the stern of the Hildegarde. There the other boys found that Jack and Ralph had provided themselves with a number of short pieces of rope.

“We’re going to loop each of the oil cans fast to the cable leading down to the motor boat,” explained Ralph. “You might as well loop all your bundles also. Of course, a good deal of it will get wet, but that can’t be helped. We can’t get it to the boat any other way while we’re riding through these swells. We’ll be lucky to get on the boat ourselves.”

While the boys were looping the last of their bundles fast to the cable where, one after another, the bundles began to slide down from the stern of the schooner toward the motor boat, Ira Small drew back.

“I’ll be with you in a couple o’ minutes,” he[128] said. “You fellows kin follow the stuff down the cable if you want to. But don’t cut it—I’ll do that myself as soon as you’re safe on board and have salvaged the stuff.”

The sailor disappeared in the semi-darkness, and one after another the boys crawled over the stern of the Hildegarde and caught hold of the cable leading down over the ocean to where the motor boat rested. Fortunately, both wind and waves had calmed down considerably, so that the schooner was making but little headway.

It was no easy matter for the boys to reach the motor boat, and they would have had great difficulty in getting aboard had it not been that Captain Gilsen had left an arrangement on the craft so that a sailor from the Hildegarde might get on board whenever it was deemed necessary. This was a sort of rope ladder left across the bow with a line running from the cabin top to the cable just above the water line. Floundering around in the waves and the darkness, one after another of the boys slid along the cable and finally managed to reach the motor boat. The last to come aboard was Jack, and it must be confessed that he was almost spent with his exertions.

“Are we all here?” questioned Gif, hanging fast to one side of the cabin, for they could not[129] as yet get into the motor boat on account of the tarpaulin lashed over the cockpit.

Each lad quickly answered that he was there, for which the whole bunch were thankful.

“Now if only that sailor would come along, we could cut the cable and let the schooner go on her way,” said Ralph, as they began to loosen the tarpaulin.

“Look! Look!” exclaimed Fred, excitedly. “Look at that light on the schooner!”

“Fire! Fire!” was the sudden cry from the Hildegarde. “Everybody on deck! The ship is on fire!” And as the boys gazed in consternation, they saw the flames on the deck of the schooner mounting higher and higher.



“The ship is on fire!”

“I wonder how that happened?”

“I bet that’s the work of Small!” cried Jack.

“More than likely—unless we set fire to something in the galley,” returned Fred.

“Maybe that loose gasoline caught,” said Ralph. “Quite a lot of it spilled out on the oil-room floor in the darkness.”

While the boys gazed at the flames on the Hildegarde they saw Ira Small rush to the stern. The next instant the lanky sailor was sliding down the cable.

“Quick! We ain’t got no time to spare!” gasped Ira Small, as he hauled himself up to the motor boat. “Pull in on the cable and then cut it. But don’t let the stuff on the line git away.”

All of the boys understood what was to be done, and Jack had already obtained a hatchet which was in one of the lockers of the motor boat. While Small, Gif and Spouter hauled in[131] on the cable, Ralph and the others continued to unloosen the tarpaulin. Then the young commander of the Fancy leaped into the cockpit and examined the motor.

“Some water here, but still dry enough to run, I think,” he announced.

“Wait! We don’t want to start up until we’ve cut loose!” cried Fred.

“That’s it, Ralph. If you start up now we might bump into the schooner. She isn’t making much headway,” added Randy.

By this time those at the bow had hauled in five or six yards of the cable. Then the heavy line was held down on the bow and Jack gave it several vigorous blows with the hatchet. The last accomplished its purpose, and the line snapped, the forward end whizzing back to the Hildegarde.

“Now we can take the stuff aboard,” said Gif, and this was quickly accomplished.

Many of the stores were soaked, a fact which did not please any of them. But they were glad that they had the things. Otherwise it would have been folly to attempt to escape in the motor boat. For all they knew, it might take them several days to reach land.

In the meanwhile, the flames on the deck of the Hildegarde had mounted higher and higher,[132] catching on a few of the tarred ratlines of the mainmast.

“Now hurry up an’ git that engine started!” cried Ira Small. “We want to git away while the goin’s good.”

A lantern was lit and in a few minutes Ralph and one or two of the others had the motor in working order. Then the battery was turned on, and in a second more the motor responded and a steady putt-putt greeted the boys’ ears, much to their delight.

“I’ll take the wheel!” cried Jack. “You see that the motor does its duty, Ralph.”

“All right. I think we’ll need some of that gasoline we brought along before a great while. You know, I said our supply was running low when we were captured.”

The Fancy was headed away from the schooner, and then, as near as he was able, Jack steered for where he supposed the far-distant coast might be located. In the meanwhile, the other lads and Ira Small rested.

“Gee, but that was some get-away!” panted Andy.

“I’ll tell the world!” came from Fred. “When I came down the cable I thought I would never reach the motor boat. Some strong pull to the ocean!”


“What can you tell us about that fire, Small?” demanded Gif.

At this question the lanky sailor chuckled hoarsely.

“Scart you, didn’t it? Well, I reckon it’s scarin’ those left aboard the schooner; and that’s jest what I want. They’ll be so int’rested fightin’ that fire, they won’t think nothin’ about chasin’ us.”

“Did you set the fire?” questioned Randy.

“I sure did, lad. But don’t git excited,” went on Ira Small. “It ain’t goin’ to do the old Hildegarde much harm. All I did was to spread some excelsior soaked in gasoline on the deck near one o’ the rails. They kin put the fire out easy enough. But they’ll have to work lively for a few minutes to do it.”

“Are you quite sure it won’t burn the ship so she’ll sink?” questioned Fred, anxiously.

“We wouldn’t want to leave those men to drown,” added Randy.

“No sech luck, lad. You can’t drown a rascal who’s meant to be hung. No, the fire’ll soon be out. You jest watch and see. But meanwhile, we want to git as fur away from the schooner as possible. Now those rascals have got an idee they kin hold you fur a ransom, they won’t let you escape if they kin help it.”


With the motor of the Fancy running fairly well, Gif and Spouter turned their attention to bailing the craft. While this was being done Fred and the twins stowed the food away in the cabin and saw to it that nothing might happen to their precious supply of water. Meanwhile, Ralph opened one of the cans of gasoline and emptied the contents into the supply tank of the motor boat.

“There! That will carry us quite a few miles,” he declared. “Of course, how many will depend on what kind of weather we strike and how the sea is running.”

“I guess we can be thankful it’s so warm,” said Jack, doing his best at the wheel to make the Fancy ride the waves without ducking those aboard. “If it was as cold down here as it is around Cape Cod, I think we’d all catch our death of cold.”

“It’s too bad we’re wet,” said Gif. “But I suppose we’ve got to make the best of that.”

They were soon out of sight of the schooner, save for the flames which showed them a small part of the deck. As Ira Small had said, the fire soon became lower and presently vanished completely.

“I guess it’s out,” said Fred, with a sigh.

“Yes; and I’m glad of it,” returned Randy.


“Gee, I’ll bet they were scared for a few minutes,” came from Andy.

“You can bet they are mighty mad at us,” was Spouter’s comment. “You can be sure they’ll lay the fire at our door. They’ll say we wanted to burn the ship and drown them.”

“I don’t think they’ll ever try and bring any o’ you fellows into court about it,” chuckled Ira Small. “You’ve got too good a case ag’in’ ’em.”

With the extinction of the blaze on the Hildegarde, the only light anywhere around the motor boat vanished and the Rover boys and the others found themselves plowing along slowly and uncertainly over the wide bosom of the Atlantic. Overhead there were drifting clouds, and only a few stars could be seen.

“P’int her a little more to starboard, lad,” advised Ira Small, as he joined Jack at the wheel. “I can’t give you the course direct, but I’ll do my best.”

“I suppose you’ve often steered by the stars,” returned the young major.

“Yes, I did when I was on the old Maria Deggett,” answered the lanky sailor. “I took three trips in that four-master, an’ we sailed pretty nigh to ev’ry spot on the globe. She was a fine ship, an’ Cap’n Deggett he was one fine man!”


“Why didn’t you remain on her?” questioned Ralph.

“She went ashore off the coast of Floridy in a hurricane. She was a total wreck, an’ that nigh broke ol’ Cap’n Deggett’s heart, an’ he never went to sea no more. That was the trip when I heard all about the thirteen rocks an’ the pirates’ hidden gold,” went on Ira Small, impressively.

“Do you really believe in that treasure?” questioned Fred, eagerly.

“Of course I do, lad! It’s there, an’ I know it! All I’ve got to do is to locate them thirteen rocks.”

“I’d like to hear your yarn about it some day—when we’re out of this trouble,” returned Fred.

On leaving the Hildegarde behind, the boys had only one regret, and that was that they had not recovered any of the things stolen from them.

“But never mind,” said Jack, in speaking of this. “If we ever get the chance, we’ll make Captain Gilsen and Ferguson pay up!”

“Yes, and pay dearly!” added Gif. “Every one of those fellows ought to be sent to prison.”

“Well, anyhow, we got our grub for nothing—not to mention the gasoline,” chuckled Andy. “It isn’t much, but it’s something.”

Now that much of the excitement attending[137] the escape from the schooner had come to an end, the boys realized that they were both wet and sleepy. A small oil stove of which the cabin boasted was lit, and here one after another they made themselves as comfortable as possible. There chanced to be just one heavy raincoat aboard the craft, and this was passed out to be used by the one who was on duty at the wheel.

“I’ll take my trick at the wheel for a few hours,” announced Ira Small. “That’ll give you lads a chance to take a nap an’ dry yourselves. The motor boat ain’t a schooner, but I reckon I kin manage it.”

“All right,” answered Ralph, gratefully. “If anything goes wrong with the engine, just call me.”

The boys retired to the cabin and there made themselves as comfortable as the limited quarters permitted. They hung some of their clothing close to the oil stove and then, utterly worn out, sank down to rest wherever a place afforded.

Morning found them still on the bosom of the broad Atlantic with neither a sail nor land in sight. The sun peeped out from behind a thin bank of clouds, and by its rays they set their course due west.

“We’re bound to hit land sooner or later,” remarked[138] Jack. “That is, if the good weather and the gasoline hold out.”

“How many miles can we travel with the gasoline we have on hand?” questioned Fred of Ralph.

“That’s a hard question to answer, Fred. You see, I’ve not been running the Fancy very long, and I don’t know what she can make in this sort of sea. You know it’s one thing to run in smooth water, and quite another in the swells of the ocean. We lose a lot of our headway every time the stern is lifted out of the water.”

“Well, let’s hope, if it doesn’t carry us to land, that it will at least carry us in the path of the ships sailing up and down the coast,” put in Spouter.

“We’ll run straight for the first good-sized steamer we see,” answered Ralph.

“Don’t run into any more rum-runners,” warned Andy, with a sickly grin. “We’ve had enough of that class of rascals.”

With the coming of daylight, the boys and the lanky sailor felt better. A pot of coffee was gotten ready on the oil stove and cups of this beverage passed around with some bread and biscuits served to make them still lighter hearted.

“I suppose we’ve got to be careful how we use up our grub and water,” warned Jack.[139] “There is no telling how long it has got to last us. For all we know, we may be much farther from shore than we imagine.”

Slowly the morning wore away. About eleven o’clock Fred set up a shout.

“What is that smoke just ahead of us?” he queried.

“I don’t know,” answered Spouter. “Looks like some smoke on an island.”

“It’s a steamer!” came from Gif, a minute later. “A steamer! And she’s moving northward.”

“Let’s see if we can’t get close enough to hail her!” cried Jack, eagerly.

Ralph was willing, and soon had the Fancy running at her best rate of speed. Then he took the wheel from Gif, who was steering.

“Maybe I can manage her a little better,” he said. “You know, I’ve had more experience.”

“Go to it, Ralph,” answered Gif, readily. “I never was very much of a sailor.”

Then began a mad race in the direction of the distant steamer. Would they be able to get close enough to signal to those on board?



“Are we getting any closer?”

The question came from Randy after at least a quarter of an hour had passed in their eager chase after the distant steamer which was moving slowly, leaving a long trail of black smoke in the air behind it.

“We don’t seem to be making much progress,” answered Jack, dubiously. “What do you think, Ralph?”

The former major of the Colby Hall battalion shook his head while his face showed his disappointment.

“I’m afraid she’s getting away from us.”

“That’s jest how it looks to me,” burst out Ira Small. “Guess she’s one o’ them fast boats runnin’ from South America to New York.”

“Can’t we make some kind of a signal to her?” asked Fred. “Why not hang a flag out upside down, or something like that?”

Several flags were stowed away in one of the[141] lockers, and now Old Glory was brought forth, and this several of the lads took turns in waving wildly, keeping the stars at the bottom.

The steamer was a goodly distance away, and it is doubtful if a signal could have been seen without the aid of a glass. As it was, no attention was paid to the motor boat, and presently the big liner passed out of sight in the distance.

“Good-bye to our first hope,” remarked Spouter, mournfully.

“And may we have better luck next time,” said Fred, hopefully.

Slowly the remainder of the day wore away. A little after noon they prepared a dinner of baked beans, canned corn and a few strips of bacon, washing this down with a little more coffee. They did not dare make very much of the beverage because they wished to save their water supply.

“We’ll have to cut out coffee altogether if we don’t sight something to-morrow,” warned Jack.

Toward evening they saw a sail in the distance. But night was coming on and the sail soon disappeared in the darkness, and they found themselves alone as before.

“Don’t look as if I was ever goin’ to see them thirteen rocks an’ ketch sight of the pirates’ gold,” murmured Ira Small, dolefully. For the[142] time being his high spirits seemed to have deserted him.

“I should think you’d be awfully sleepy, Small,” remarked Jack. “Why don’t you turn in and see if you can’t get a good night’s sleep? You’ve had hardly a wink since the night before we left the Hildegarde.”

“Think I will turn in, if you fellows kin git along without me,” answered the old sailor. “If anything unusual turns up, jest call me,” and he retired to the cabin and was soon snoring lustily.

“He certainly is a character,” remarked Gif. “But I guess his heart is in the right place.”

“He certainly proved himself our friend,” returned Jack. “If it hadn’t been for him, we might still be aboard the schooner. It would have been useless for us to cut loose in the motor boat without the gasoline and the grub.”

“Do you think there is anything to his story about the thirteen rocks and the pirates’ gold?” questioned Andy. Tales of piratical treasure had always appealed to the fun-loving Rover.

“There may be something in it, Andy. Certainly the pirates existed. And if they got all the loot the books tell about, they must have either spent it or else hidden it somewhere.”

“Yes, but as far as I have ever heard, the great majority of the searches for pirates’ treasures[143] have been dead failures,” broke in Spouter. “I know, only a few years ago, a company was organized up in our neighborhood to look for a treasure said to be buried off the coast of Brazil. The promoters wanted my father to take stock in the concern, but he refused. The crowd got together and went down to Brazil in a steamer and spent two or three months looking for the gold, but didn’t find a single doubloon.”

“Well, sometimes a treasure hunt proves a success,” said Jack. “Don’t forget how my father and Uncle Tom and Uncle Sam went down to the West Indies and located the Stanhope treasure.” He referred to a great treasure search, the particulars of which have been given in the volume entitled, “The Rover Boys on Treasure Isle.”

“Yes, you told us about that, Jack,” answered Spouter. “And I’ve heard the particulars from my father, too. You know, he was with the expedition.”

“Let’s get the particulars of this treasure from Small,” said Randy. “We might organize an expedition just as our folks did,” he added, his eyes glistening for the moment.

The boys took turns at steering the Fancy, and thus the greater part of the night wore away. Just as it was growing light in the east Fred,[144] who was at the wheel, uttered an exclamation of dismay.

“What’s the trouble, Fred?” questioned Randy, who was coming out of the cabin to relieve him.

“The motor just went dead.”

“Perhaps she’s out of gasoline. Wait a minute till I take a look at the tank.”

An inspection of the gasoline tank of the craft showed that it still contained a quart or more of the volatile fluid.

“It’s in the engine, or else the battery has gone out of commission,” said Randy.

Not caring to do too much to the engine without consulting Ralph, they called the young commander of the motor boat, and while Fred continued at the wheel in an endeavor to head up against the rolling billows, Ralph and Randy commenced to hunt for the trouble.

The boys were still at this when, a little later, Jack and Andy appeared.

“Looks to me like another storm,” said Jack, gazing eastward anxiously.

“Yes, and I’d say it was coming up pretty fast,” answered Andy.

Before the motor could be put into commission again the sky was overcast and the wind began[145] to come in strong, irregular puffs. Then, of a sudden, it began to rain, the big drops splashing in every direction on the motor boat and the rolling waves.

“Gee, I don’t like this!” exclaimed Ralph, as he took the wheel from Fred. “Boys, I think we’re in for it.”

Soon the waves were running much higher than before, and the Fancy bobbed up and down like a cork. It was next to impossible to make headway in any direction.

“Let me help you at the wheel, Ralph,” suggested Jack. “This is going to be something awful—worse than that fog we ran into.”

“This is going to be a real storm, no mistaking that,” answered Ralph, and his face showed his anxiety. “We’ll be lucky if we don’t upset.”

The constant rolling of the Fancy soon aroused Ira Small, and once awake the lanky sailor came outside in a hurry.

“I was afraid of it,” he said, gazing anxiously at the sky. “I felt it in my bones yesterday, but I didn’t want to scare none of you lads. I was hopin’ we could git inshore before it come.”

By eight o’clock the storm was on them in all its violence. The Fancy pitched and tossed so wildly that they could scarcely keep from going[146] overboard, and Ralph advised that each one don a life-preserver, of which there was a supply in the forward locker.

“Good idee,” said Ira Small. “Le’s put ’em on, by all means. They may save our lives.” And so the life-preservers were adjusted by every one without delay.

With such a storm in progress no one thought of breakfast. For fear of fire, the oil stove had been put out. Many of the loose articles aboard the motor boat were either placed in the lockers or lashed fast. But before this was accomplished the Fancy hit an extra heavy wave, and this caused some of the canned goods and two of the bottles of water to bounce up from their resting-place in the cabin, smash two of the windows, and roll overboard.

“Gosh, this is something awful!” muttered Spouter. “We’ll be lucky if we ever get out of it alive.”

All day long the storm continued. Occasionally the wind would let up a little and they would have a breathing spell, for which they would be thankful. But then the wind would blow as strongly as before, and they would have to cling fast with might and main while the motor boat plunged and tossed as if every plunge might be her last. During that time the boys and the[147] sailor ate a few crackers and drank a little water, but that was all.

“If only some sort of sail would appear, or a steamer,” sighed Fred, wistfully.

“Don’t say a word,” groaned Gif, who was a trifle seasick. “I’d give all I’m worth to be on land again.”

“Same here,” added Spouter, promptly.

As night came on a new peril assailed them. Ira Small was at the wheel with Andy aiding him when, of a sudden, Ralph, who was somewhat forward, let out a yell of alarm.

“Steer to the left!” he called. “Quick! We’re running into a mass of wreckage!”

As quickly as possible, Ira Small turned over the wheel of the motor boat. Then the craft arose to the top of a wave and the next instant crashed into several good-sized spars and some other wreckage that floated on the water.

The shock was such that several of the lads were thrown off their feet, and for the moment all of them thought the Fancy was going to upset. But Ira Small, bareheaded and with his scant locks flying in the wind and rain, kept manfully at the wheel, and soon the wreckage was left behind and the Fancy once more rode on an even keel.

“I’ll say that was some bump,” remarked[148] Spouter, when he could catch his breath. “Gosh, I thought we were going to the bottom, sure!”

“You fellows better see if we’ve sprung a leak,” called out the lanky sailor. “Sounded like a bad smash to me.”

As well as the bobbing boat permitted, Ralph and Jack crawled forward and made an examination of the bow. They found a bad crack just below the water line through which the water was coming in a thin but broad stream.

“We’ll have to plug it up, somehow!” cried Jack. “Here, take this waste! Hold it over the hole until I can get a knife.”

Jack crawled back into the cabin, and soon returned with an ordinary table knife, and with this Ralph started to plug the waste into the crack through which the ocean was pouring. It was hard work, and while Ralph was at this Jack looked for more openings. He found one on the other side of the motor boat, a small hole into which he presently pounded one of the bottle corks with the hatchet.

“Looks bad, Ralph,” remarked the young major, when they returned to the cockpit.

“I don’t know how we’re going to get through the night,” was the doubtful reply.

Half an hour or more passed, and the storm seemed to grow wilder and wilder. There was[149] not so much rain, but the wind came in fierce gusts that blew the spray all over the motor boat and its occupants. To stand up was impossible, and the lads crouched low, wondering what would happen next. Ira Small was still at the wheel, and now Ralph went to his assistance.

Suddenly something dark and menacing loomed up before them. The next instant the Fancy struck the object with terrific force. Then the bow of the motor boat seemed to be split into several pieces. The craft turned over, and the next instant everybody on board found himself struggling in the ocean.



The upsetting of the motor boat came so swiftly and unexpectedly that nobody aboard had an opportunity to save himself. All were flung out into the dark and turbulent water and several were hit by the object with which the Fancy had collided.

As Jack went overboard something struck him in the side, all but winding him. He floundered around helplessly for several seconds, and had it not been for the life-preserver he had donned it is possible that he might have gone under never to rise.

The force of the waves speedily separated the boys and the lanky sailor, and when Jack was able to comprehend what had happened he found himself practically alone on the bosom of the heaving ocean.

“Hi, fellows! Where are you?” he managed to call out.

But only the wind and the slishing of the waves answered him. Then he strained his eyes[151] to the utmost, but not a soul seemed to be in sight. Close at hand was a short and thick spar, and to this the young major clung mechanically.

His heart was filled with horror. Was it possible that the others had either been killed by the collision or drowned? The thought was agony, and fervently he prayed that the others might be spared.

As the spar mounted to the top of a wave, Jack looked around again, and this time saw the dim outline of some dark object in the hollow just below him. Thinking it might be the wreck of the motor boat, he struck out feebly, and presently gained the object, to find it a mass of wreckage, evidently a part of the forecastle or cabin of some small sailing ship.

“Who is that?” came unexpectedly from the wreckage, and Jack was delighted to recognize the voice of his cousin Fred.

“It’s I—Jack!” gasped the young major, as he held fast to the wreckage. “Are you all right, Fred?”

“Got a bump on my left shoulder, but it didn’t amount to a great deal,” answered the youngest of the Rover boys. “Are you alone? Where are the others?”

“Yes, I’m alone; and I don’t know where the others are. Have you seen any of them?”


“I saw Gif and Spouter just as we went overboard. But then something struck me in the shoulder, and we became separated in the dark.”

“The others can’t be far off—unless they went down,” went on the young major. And then, not without considerable difficulty, he managed to pull himself up beside his cousin on the wreckage, which formed something of a raft fifteen or twenty feet long and about half as wide.

“If we only had a light,” said Fred, “maybe we could spot some of the others. Oh, Jack, what will we do if they’ve been drowned?” and the tone of his voice showed his misery.

“It’s terrible, Fred. I hate to think about it,” and Jack shuddered. He felt that if his light-hearted cousins and his chums were drowned, life would never be the same.

A quarter of an hour dragged by dismally. The boys could think of nothing they might do to aid the others, and so sat close together, holding fast to the wreckage so that, as it pitched and tossed from the top of one wave to the next, they would not be swept overboard. There were occasional sheets of rain, and the wind blew as strongly as ever, sending the flying spray in all directions.

“I saw something!” cried Fred, presently,[153] while they were straining their eyes to pierce the gloom around them.

“Where?” questioned his cousin, eagerly.

“There! To the left! It’s gone now!”

“What did it look like, Fred?”

“I may be mistaken, but it looked like somebody floundering around in the water.”

“Let’s yell to him.” And then both boys cried out as loudly as their exhausted condition permitted.

“Who’s calling? Where are you?” came from out of the darkness, and the next instant the two boys saw the form of somebody on the top of a wave close at hand.

“Here we are—on some wreckage!” shouted Jack. “Be careful, or you’ll get struck!”

“Help me! I’m almost done for!” gasped the swimmer, and for the moment disappeared in the trough of the sea.

Throwing himself flat on the wreckage, Jack crawled to the edge. A second later he saw an arm in the water and grasped it tightly. Then out of the briny deep came Ira Small, spluttering and kicking convulsively.

“Save me! Save me!” he groaned. “I’m all in! I guess my right leg is broke.”

In that pitching and tossing sea, it was no easy matter to haul the injured sailor on to the[154] wreckage. Twice he almost slipped from Jack’s grasp, but finally he came up, and with Jack’s aid crawled to the middle of the improvised raft.

“You done me a big service, lad. I’ll never forgit it,” mumbled Ira Small, and then he all but fainted away.

“Gee, it’s too bad if his leg is broken,” remarked Fred. “And we can’t do anything for him, either.”

“I guess he was about all in when he reached the raft,” returned Jack. “Another minute, and he would have gone down.”

Now that they had found one of their companions, the two boys looked around more eagerly than ever for the others. Time and again they called out, and once they thought they heard a cry in return; but from whence it came they could not determine, and soon the whistling wind drowned out every other sound.

After the rescue of Ira Small several hours went by—hours that the boys never forgot. The rude raft pitched and tossed as before, and while the rain stopped, the wind blew as fiercely as ever, showering them continually with the ocean spray. Occasionally some small bits of wreckage hit that upon which they rested, and once a small spar rolled up on the raft, hitting Jack in the foot.


“Some vessel must have gone to pieces either in this storm or the storm we had before,” remarked Jack.

“I hope some of the others got hold of the wreckage.”

“So do I. But, Fred, this really doesn’t help us much. We must be miles and miles away from land; and without anything to eat or drink——”

Jack did not finish what he had in mind to say. But both his cousin and Ira Small understood.

“It’s a terrible situation,” murmured the lanky sailor mournfully. “But I wouldn’t mind it so much if only my leg wasn’t hurt. What good is a sailor with a broken leg? No good at all!” and he shook his head dismally.

He was now sitting up on the wreckage with Fred on one side of him and Jack on the other. All had on their life-preservers, and in addition they clung fast to a rope which in some manner had become tangled on the floating débris.

Never had the two Rover boys felt more dismal. The mind of each reverted continually to Andy and Randy and to their school chums. Were the others alive? Or had they seen the last of those they loved so well?

“Oh, Jack! what will the folks at home say[156] if Andy and Randy are drowned?” whispered Fred.

“I don’t know,” was the doleful reply. “I’d hate to break the news to Uncle Tom and Aunt Nellie.”

“Yes, and think of Gif’s and Spouter’s folks and of the Masons!”

“It’s too terrible to realize, Fred. Let’s hope for the best. It’s the only thing we can do.”

“Maybe we’ll go down too,” came lugubriously from the lanky sailor. “An’ then I won’t never find them thirteen rocks an’ the pirates’ gold.”

“Never mind pirates’ gold now,” returned Jack, quickly. “I’d give every dollar of it if we were all safe and sound on land again.”

“I don’t doubt it, lad. I don’t doubt it. Gold ain’t of no consequence to a man after he goes to Davy Jones’ Locker.”

A little later came a moment of excitement. Another portion of wreckage loomed up before them, and then came a crash that all but sent them into the ocean again.

“Hold fast!” yelled Jack. “But look out that you’re not struck!”

“Oh, my leg! My poor leg!” moaned Ira Small, for he had been hit again, this time by what appeared to be a piece of ship’s railing.


For several minutes the two pieces of wreckage continued to bob up and down on the water. They bumped, and bumped again, and finally seemed to wedge themselves together into one uncertain whole.

“There are a lot of ropes!” cried Ira Small. “Might as well lash all the stuff together, lads. The bigger the raft, the safer it will be for all of us. I’d help, but I can’t do nothing with this busted leg.”

Both of the boys saw the ropes he mentioned, and set to work as best they could to lash the two bits of wreckage together. This task took them almost half an hour, and by that time they were gratified to see that dawn was almost at hand and that soon the sun would be showing itself over the eastern rim of the ocean.

“I wish it was daylight,” sighed Fred.

“So do I,” answered the young major.

“Even if a ship was near by we’d be unable to see it in this darkness.”

“How do you feel, Fred, worn out?”

“Yes. But that isn’t the worst of it, Jack. I can’t get the others out of my mind.”

“Neither can I. If only—— Oh!”

The talk came to a sudden end as some more wreckage hit them. All were on their guard, not[158] wishing to be flung overboard. But presently the other wreckage slid away in the darkness, much to their relief.

With the coming of daylight the wind seemed to go down a little. But the waves were as high as ever, and every few minutes those on the wreckage found themselves covered with the flying spray.

On the second bit of wreckage the boys had found two blankets, and these they placed under the lanky sailor, so that he might rest more comfortably. Then Jack made an examination of the hurt leg.

“It doesn’t seem to be broken to me,” he said. “But it’s certainly horribly bruised. You’ll have to be very careful of it.”

“Well, I’ll be thankful if it ain’t broke,” was the reply. “But it certainly hurts an awful lot. Wish I had a drink of water.”

“I’d like a drink myself,” said Fred. “But we haven’t got any water, so what’s the use of thinking about it?”

“It’s a pity we didn’t think to save a little of the water while it was rainin’, lad. Even a mouthful or two might mean a whole lot to us later on.”

As the sun came up over the eastern ocean, the boys gazed eagerly in all directions. Here[159] and there they could see bits of wreckage—boxes, barrels, floating spars, and what looked to be the bow of a fair-sized schooner.

“Some vessel has certainly gone to pieces, and not very long ago, either,” remarked Jack. “But I don’t see anything that looks like a human being; do you, Fred?”

“I see something!” cried his cousin, excitedly. “Look over there, Jack! What is that?”

The young major looked in the direction indicated, and then drew a sharp breath.

“Why, it’s somebody on some wreckage!” he exclaimed. “And they are signaling to us!”



The fact that some of the other castaways had been sighted filled even Ira Small with intense interest.

“How many of ’em?” he queried.

“I can’t make out exactly,” answered Fred. “But I think there are two, and maybe three.”

“I see only two,” came from Jack. “There they go!”

The wreckage in the distance had disappeared behind a big wave. But soon the Rover boys and the sailor saw it come into view again, and now somewhat closer than before.

“There are two on it—that’s all!” exclaimed the young major. “One standing up and the other sitting down.”

“Can you make out who they are?” questioned the sailor.

“I think the fellow standing up is Randy, but I’m not certain,” said Fred. And then he set up a yell in which Jack joined.


For fully a quarter of an hour the two pieces of wreckage bobbed up and down on the broad bosom of the Atlantic. Sometimes Jack and Fred thought they were coming a little closer together, and then it looked as if they might be drifting farther apart.

“It’s Randy! I’m sure of it!” exclaimed Fred, presently.

“You’re right!” answered his cousin. “And the fellow sitting down—I’m almost positive—is Andy. He must be hurt, or he wouldn’t keep sitting like that.”

“Maybe he got his leg hurt, jest like I did,” came mournfully from Ira Small.

At the end of an anxious half hour, the two pieces of wreckage were not over fifty yards apart. Jack and Fred could now see Randy and Andy quite distinctly, and called to them.

“Can’t you swim over?” cried Jack. “We can’t come to you because Small is hurt.


“I’m hurt too,” answered Andy. “I got my ankle twisted when I fell out of the motor boat.”

“I’ve got an idea,” called the young major, suddenly. “Maybe I can carry a line over to you, and then we can tie the pieces of wreckage together. We did that to another piece that bumped into us.”

Taking one of the ropes, Jack saw to it that[162] one end was securely fastened to the edge of the wreckage upon which he stood. Then divesting himself of most of his clothing, he leaped into the ocean and began to swim with might and main for the other improvised raft, which was made up of part of a schooner’s stern.

As my old readers know, Jack had always been a good swimmer—in fact, all of the Rover boys could swim well—but he soon discovered that swimming in a river or a lake was an entirely different matter from making headway in the rolling Atlantic. One minute he felt that he was on the top of a high hill and the next that he was going down into a bottomless hollow.

But he kept on vigorously, and soon came so close to the other piece of wreckage that Randy could almost reach him.

“Be careful, Jack,” was the warning. “If you get struck in the head it may knock you senseless.”

At last, after several minutes of maneuvering, the young major, with his cousin’s assistance, managed to scramble up on the wreckage.

“Gee, I’m glad that’s over!” he panted. “It looked like an easy stunt when I started; but it proved to be anything but that!”

“Say, don’t you know a shark might have come up after you?” questioned Andy.


“I didn’t think of sharks until I was half way over,” was the reply. “And as none appeared, there is no use of worrying about it. Is the ankle very bad, Andy?”

“It’s so bad that I can’t stand on it. But never mind that, Jack. I’m mighty glad to see you and Fred.”

“Do you know anything about Gif, Spouter and Ralph?” questioned Randy.

“I do not. None of us saw a thing of them after the boat turned over.”

“We saw them for a few minutes,” said Randy. “Gif had hold of a spar that I grabbed, and Ralph and Spouter were on another piece of wreckage. Then I slipped and went down, and when I came up I hit this piece of wreckage and joined Andy.”

It was quickly decided to bring the pieces of wreckage together if it could be accomplished in safety. Ira Small ordered Fred to stand by with a small spar to use as a fender if necessary, and then called similar directions to Randy. Then Jack watched his chance and pulled in on the line.

For several minutes matters looked rather serious as the bits of wreckage came together with a crash, then swept apart and came together with another crash. But finally several pieces of rope[164] were lashed fast under Ira Small’s directions, and then Randy and Jack were able to assist Andy to a place on the blankets beside the sailor.

“Now lash all the wreckage together as tight as you possibly kin,” said Ira Small. “Then we’ll have a purty respectable kind of a raft to float around on. I kin tell you, this wreckage is a God-send to us,” he went on solemnly. “If it hadn’t been fur it, we’d all be at the bottom of the ocean by this time.”

“Yes, but if it were not for the wreckage, the motor boat wouldn’t have been smashed,” put in Andy.

“Well, lad, I s’pose that’s so, too,” admitted Ira Small, nodding his head gravely.

Now that they were together once more, the four Rover boys felt somewhat better. Yet they continued to worry over the disappearance of their three chums.

“It will certainly be an awful thing if they don’t show up,” remarked Randy. “Just think of how their folks will feel.”

“Yes, and think how we’ll feel!” came from Fred, and his face showed his downheartedness.

Andy and Randy brought with them one thing which was a little comfort. On their wreckage they had found a piece of sail several yards square, and during the rain they had caught a[165] few cupfuls of water. From this, as the morning wore on, each took a sip.

It was found that Andy’s ankle was much swollen. The other boys bathed it for him and then bound it up with a strip of the sailcloth. They performed the same services for Ira Small.

“We’re in the sick-bay, lad,” said the lanky sailor dubiously to Andy. “I reckon we’ve got to make the best of it. Howsomever, luck’s been with us so far, an’ mebby luck’ll see us through.”

Slowly the afternoon wore away. By this time all aboard the wreckage were hungry, but the most that anybody could offer was a water-soaked package of chewing gum which Andy found in a pocket of his jacket.

“I think we’ll find that too salty to chew, Andy,” said Jack. “I wouldn’t touch it. It will make you thirstier than ever.” So the water-soaked chewing gum went unused.

At last night came on. So long as it was light, everybody aboard the wreckage kept his eyes on the alert for some sign of the other three boys and for some craft that might pick them up.

“Gee, I wouldn’t care even if the old Hildegarde hove in sight,” said Randy, at last. “If we were on board that tub, we’d at least have[166] something to eat and to drink and a place to sleep.”

“No more o’ that schooner fur me!” cried Ira Small. “I’d rather jump in the ocean than go aboard her ag’in,” and his eyes flashed angrily.

When night settled down they found themselves absolutely alone on that part of the wide ocean. Even the bits of wreckage which had surrounded them had disappeared. Nothing was to be seen on every side but the heaving waters.

“Gosh, if we ever get off of this and on dry land once more, I won’t want to look at the ocean again for years,” murmured Randy.

“I’ll be like the fellow who got seasick and said the next boat he’d take would be a Pullman car,” put in Andy, with a faint grin.

In such a perilous position, with the wreckage heaving up and down on the water, sleep was almost out of the question. Occasionally one or another would doze off, to awaken with a start as the uncertain flooring beneath him gave an extra lurch or an ominous crack. They did not know whether the ropes they had used would hold the wreckage together. If it parted, they might at any instant find themselves again floundering around in the ocean.

Before morning came, the ominous clouds began to gather once more, and now the wind came[167] up in fitful gusts. In a little while the wreckage was bobbing up and down and creaking fitfully.

“If only we had a few more strong ropes,” said Ira Small. “Those we have are good enough if the weather stays calm, but I’m afraid a heavy storm would prove too much of a strain on ’em.”

The day proved one of alarming uncertainty. The heavy clouds soon brought on more rain, and the wind became almost as violent as it had been the day before. Anxiously all of the boys and the lanky sailor watched the ropes that held the wreckage together.

“Well, anyway, we can get a drink out of this, maybe,” said Randy, and he and the others spread the canvas so that they might catch as much of the rain as possible.

They swallowed the liquid eagerly. It did not help their hunger, but it cut off that awful thirst which was little short of maddening.

Thus another night was spent on the wreckage. By this time their hunger had become acute. Andy and the old sailor suffered the most, because of their hurts.

“Gee, I can’t stand this much longer, Randy,” said Andy to his twin, at last. “I feel as if I was getting sick all over.”


“I’m sorry, Andy, that I can’t do anything more for you,” was the brotherly response. “But there isn’t a thing here to work with.”

“Oh, I know that! It’s not your fault, Randy,” and Andy said no more.

After a little while no one seemed to feel like talking. A gaunt spectre arose in the mind of every one on the wreckage—the spectre of Starvation. With nothing to eat, how much longer could they live?

“Maybe we would have been better off if we had gone down in the first place,” thought Jack. “It’s better to die quickly than to die by inches.”



Slowly the forenoon passed. Again all scanned the horizon eagerly. Twice they thought they saw sails in the distance, and once caught sight of a trail of smoke left by some steamer. But no craft came close enough to be signaled. Nor did they see any more of the wreckage.

“I’m afraid the other fellows have gone to the bottom,” said Fred, and his voice trembled as he spoke.

“Well, there ain’t much ch’ice between bein’ drowned an’ starvin’ to death,” came from Ira Small. His thin face was thinner than ever and his eyes burned with a peculiar fire.

“Gee, I hope Small doesn’t go crazy,” whispered Randy to Jack. “I’ve heard some people do that when they get too hungry.”

“He certainly looks pretty wild, Randy,” was the reply.

“Don’t you feel a bit dizzy, Jack? I do.”

“I’m trying not to think of being hungry,”[170] said the young major. “It’s the only way out as far as I can see.”

A few minutes more passed and then, of a sudden, Ira Small leaped to his feet, pointing his long, bony hand ahead of him.

“There’s another wreck!” he called out. “Looks like a steam yacht, too!”

All gazed in the direction indicated and saw that Ira Small was right. The wreck, which was quite a distance away, disappeared in a hollow of the ocean, but a moment later came up on the crest of a wave.

It was a steam yacht, but both of the masts were broken off just above the deck, one dangling partly over the side, held by a number of ropes. The bow of the yacht was smashed in, and a goodly portion of the starboard rail had been carried away.

“She’s been in a collision, that’s sure!” cried Jack.

“Maybe she smashed into the ship the wreckage of which hit the Fancy,” suggested Fred.

“That might be so, lad,” said the old sailor, still standing up, in spite of his hurt leg.

“Let’s yell and wave our hands!” cried Andy. “I’d rather be on a boat like that, even if she is all battered up, than on this wreckage. Besides[171] that, we want something to eat—and mighty quick, too!”

“I don’t see anybody on the deck,” came from Randy.

All looked eagerly toward the battered steam yacht. The craft was of good size and tilted over to port and up at the bow.

“Looks to me like the yacht had been abandoned,” said Ira Small. “Look, lads! All the small boats are missin’. I’ll bet after she was struck the cap’n thought she was goin’ down, an’ so abandoned his ship.”

Slowly the steam yacht came closer. She was considerably water-logged, and now the Rover boys and the sailor saw that her bow was greatly damaged and that part of the forward deck had also been torn up.

“She must have been in a terrible smash, whatever it was,” remarked Jack.

“Yes, and she may have cut the other boat clean to pieces,” answered Randy. “Just look at all the wreckage we got into!”

“But if she hit that boat, why didn’t we see the yacht before?” queried Fred. “She was right on the same spot.”

“Well, you must remember, this here wreckage is from a small sailin’ ship,” answered the[172] lanky sailor. “That there yacht probably has a good engine aboard, and maybe after the collision the cap’n put on full steam, thinkin’ he could make land. Then the vessel got so water-logged he was afraid she was goin’ down, and so he and his crew and his passengers, if he had any, took to the boats. But I want to say one thing,” he went on impressively: “She’s the funniest lookin’ steam yacht I ever saw. Look at that queer house on deck, and look at them queer portholes along the side. Maybe she’s a hospital ship.”

“I wish we could get aboard to find out,” came from Andy. His hunger was making him desperate.

“I’ve a good mind to try to swim over to her,” said Jack.

“If you go, I’ll go along,” answered Randy, quickly.

“Well, if you try it, each of you’d better take two life-preservers,” suggested Ira Small. “Then, when you git tired of swimmin’, you kin rest yourselves. It ain’t no mean distance to that there vessel. Distances on the water are mighty deceivin’.”

“What about sharks?” asked Fred.

“We’ve got to run that risk,” answered Jack.[173] “I’d just as lief be food for sharks as to starve to death,” he added desperately.

A little later, each wearing two life-preservers, Jack and Randy struck out for the water-logged steam yacht, which was moving slowly on the rolling bosom of the Atlantic.

“Don’t hurry, Randy,” cautioned the young major. “It may be a long swim, and there is no use of our getting winded. Take it easy. It may get us there quicker in the end.”

The two Rover boys made slow progress, and at the end of a quarter of an hour the water-logged steam yacht seemed to be almost as far away as ever.

“It doesn’t look as if we were going to make it, does it, Jack?” questioned his cousin, as he stopped swimming for a moment. His looks showed his disappointment.

“Oh, we’ll get there sooner or later,” Jack answered, as cheerfully as he could.

They resumed their swimming, and a few minutes later saw, to their delight, that the rolling ocean was bringing the strange vessel closer to them.

“Look out that you don’t get struck!” cried Jack, when the steam yacht loomed up just ahead of them. “She’s bobbing around pretty lively,[174] in spite of being water-logged. Try to grab one of those ropes on the broken mast.”

As the two youths drew closer they could hear the swash of the ocean as it struck the sides of the water-logged boat. But mingled with these sounds came others that made them look at each other in wonder.

“What do you suppose that noise is?” questioned Randy.

“I don’t know. Maybe some people in distress.”

“Maybe the steam yacht is a hospital ship, as Small said.”

The strange noise continued to come from the water-logged steam yacht, but what it could be the boys could not surmise. As the vessel surged closer, each caught hold of the ropes which held the broken mast and then did his best to pull himself up to the slanting deck above.

“Be careful!” called out Randy. “These ropes may give way and let us and the mast down in a hurry.”

“Oh, they’ve held so long, I guess they’ll hold a little longer,” answered Jack. “Up you go!”

A minute later the two Rover boys stood on the deck of the water-logged vessel. The craft was so badly listed that they moved around with difficulty.


“Not a soul in sight, dead or alive,” murmured Jack, after they had gazed up and down the long deck.

“Do you notice anything funny in the way of a smell?” questioned his cousin, suddenly.

“I certainly do!” Jack gave a sniff. “Smells something like a stable.”

“Maybe she’s a cattle boat.”

“That might be, Randy. But come on, we might as well take a look around and see if anybody is in charge. And we want to see, too, what we can do about getting the others on the wreckage aboard.”

“Maybe we can find some kind of small boat. They may not have taken all of them,” was the hopeful response.

Not only did the deck slope at a dangerous angle, but it was also exceedingly slippery, so that it was with great difficulty that the boys managed to move around. It had been the foremast that hung by the board, and they had come aboard close to where rested the remains of the smashed-in bow.

“There is that noise again!” exclaimed Randy, while they were moving amidships. “What in the world can it be!”

“Some animals, I guess,” answered his cousin. “They may have some horses or cows or sheep,[176] or something like that, on board. Come on, let’s investigate. This thing is getting on my nerves.”

The cousins moved with caution to the middle portion of the yacht. Here were the remains of a deckhouse, smashed flat by the fall of the mainmast, which was now missing. Behind this was a cabin, the door and windows of which were all tightly closed.

“Hello! Hello!” yelled Jack, at the top of his lungs. “Anybody on board? Hello!”

Jack had scarcely uttered the call when from below the deck came a pandemonium of sounds that fairly made the two lads jump. There were roars and moans, and a shrill chattering that made their hair feel as if it would stand on end.

“My stars, Jack! what kind of a boat is this?” gasped Randy, as he clutched his cousin by the arm.

“I don’t know,” was the short reply, and Jack looked at his cousin curiously. Had their extreme hunger and thirst affected their minds and were they simply imagining things?

They looked back to the wreckage they had left, and to their satisfaction saw that it was less than half as far away as it had been when they had left it to swim over to the steam yacht.

“Thank fortune, it’s coming this way!”[177] breathed Randy. “I hope it does—that may save us a lot of trouble.”

“Provided we want to stay aboard this ship,” answered Jack.

“Why, what do you mean by that? Don’t you think it’s safe?” asked his cousin, in alarm.

“I don’t know what to think, Randy. Either we’re bewitched, or this boat has got the queerest cargo aboard I ever heard of. Just listen to that roaring and moaning and chattering! Did you ever hear anything like it in your life?”

“Hi! Hi! Can’t you throw us a line?” came suddenly from the wreckage, and now they saw that it was floating still closer.

“Let’s see if we can’t tie fast to the wreckage before we do anything else,” said Jack. “We don’t want it to float off on the other side of the yacht.”

Their fears forgotten for the moment, the two cousins set to work and soon found a long line which might answer their purpose. They cast this line out as far as they could, not once, but many times, and at last had the satisfaction of seeing it caught by Fred and the old sailor. Then to the light line they attached a fair-sized hawser, and this was speedily hauled down to the wreckage, which in a few moments more bumped into[178] the side of the steam yacht and was secured there.

“Gee, I’m glad to be over here!” cried Fred. “Hurry up! Help me get Andy and Small aboard. Is there anybody alive on the yacht?”

“We don’t know what’s aboard yet,” answered Jack, anxiously. “We’re hearing all sorts of strange sounds. Just listen!”

All listened, and suddenly the face of Ira Small took on a knowing look.

“By gum! I know what this craft is,” he exclaimed. “I’ve heard of her before. She’s a menagerie ship!”



“A menagerie ship?” queried Randy.

“That’s it, lad. Those must be wild animals you hear. An’ mebby some monkeys,” added the lanky sailor, listening to the roaring and chattering. “Are any of ’em loose?”

“So far we haven’t seen anything that’s alive,” answered Jack.

“Well, we might as well go aboard,” called Andy. “If there are any wild animals loose, though, I don’t know what we’re going to do.”

The wreckage was pounding so hard and constantly against the side of the steam yacht, nobody cared to remain upon it, and so with all the care possible Andy and the old sailor were helped to the deck above, and then Fred followed them.

“Better not cut the wreckage loose just yet,” advised Jack. “We may want to get on it in a hurry.”

“Gee! do you think those wild animals might get loose and chase us around?” questioned Fred.


“I don’t know what to think, Fred. We haven’t had a chance to look the boat over. I guess the best thing we can do first is to arm ourselves.”

It was no easy matter to find anything in the way of clubs, because the storm had swept the deck of the steam yacht almost clean. But they finally managed to break out some pieces of wood from the wreckage at the bow, and from these made a number of heavy sticks.

“You two had better stay near the ladder leading to the roof of the cabin,” said Jack to Ira Small and Andy. “Then, if there’s any trouble, you can climb up there somehow to safety. There is no use of staying down on the deck with those game legs of yours.”

The two injured ones did as advised, and then the others moved around cautiously to the cabin door. Opening it inch by inch, Jack peered into the compartment to find it deserted.

“Nothing here!” he exclaimed, and walked into the cabin, followed immediately by Fred and Randy.

The place was in great disorder, showing that those aboard the steam yacht had evidently left in a hurry. Lockers stood wide open, much of the contents strewn in all directions. On the floor lay a number of dishes along with some[181] knives, forks and spoons, evidently swept from the cabin table by the hurry of those who were escaping from the vessel or by the action of the storm. Around the cabin were a number of staterooms, some of the doors of which stood wide open, and here the same disorder prevailed.

“I suppose they didn’t have much time in which to leave,” was Jack’s comment. “They probably grabbed what they could lay hands on and ran for the boats.”

“I don’t see anything to eat around here!” exclaimed Fred. “Let’s find the cook’s galley.”

“Here’s some drinking water, anyhow,” came suddenly from Randy, as he caught sight of a cooler on a stand at the end of the cabin.

The cooler was almost full, and the three lads lost no time in getting all the water they wanted. Then they picked up a pitcher from the floor and filled this, and Fred took it to Andy and the lanky sailor.

“Gosh, that tastes like heaven!” said Ira Small, as he smacked his lips. “Now if I had a bite to eat, I think I’d feel like a new man.”

“You never know how good water is until you have to do without it,” remarked Andy.

Having assured themselves that there was no cook’s pantry attached to the cabin, the three boys came out on deck again, and then went on[182] a hunt for the cook’s galley. This was soon located, and much to their satisfaction they came upon a quantity of food which made their eyes sparkle in anticipation. There were all sorts of canned goods, both fish and meats as well as vegetables, and in addition boxes of crackers, sides of bacon, and canisters of tea, coffee, cocoa, and also salt, sugar, rice and a great variety of other articles.

“We can’t cook anything on that stove—at least not the way it’s standing,” said Randy, pointing to the tilted-up kerosene stove of which the galley boasted.

“I am hungry enough to eat a cold meal,” came quickly from Fred, who was already munching a cracker. “Come on, let’s take some of this stuff to Andy and that sailor. They’re just as starved as we are.”

With their hands full of good things, the three boys made their way to the top of the cabin, and soon the whole crowd were regaling themselves with the first meal they had eaten for several days. They broke open several cans of soup, and though the soup was cold, it tasted better to them than any meal they had ever eaten.

“I’ll tell you what—hunger is the great sauce,”[183] declared Jack, as he munched his sixth cracker. “At home we’d probably turn up our noses at this, but here—wow!”

While they were eating they discussed the situation, but could arrive at no conclusion as to what would be their next best move.

“We can’t do much of anything, lads, until we have examined the ship,” declared Ira Small. “For all we know, she may be leakin’ so fast that she’s liable to go down at any time.”

“In that case, the best thing we can do is to put a supply of grub and water on the raft and make the raft as substantial as possible,” cried Andy.

“That wouldn’t be no bad idee, lad. That wreckage did us a mighty good turn. We kin lash all the timbers together with a few more ropes, an’ git some kind of a spar for a mast, an’ then hoist a sail if we have to leave the yacht. But examine the ship first—it might not be so bad after all.”

The thought that the steam yacht might go down suddenly filled the Rovers with a new dread, and in spite of the old tar’s last words, they decided to pack a lot of the ship’s stores in some sailcloth, the bundle being then hung over the side where it could be lowered to the wreckage[184] without much trouble. Then they found a cask filled with drinking water, and placed this near the rail.

“Now if the worst comes to worst, we’ll have something to rely on,” declared Jack. “I don’t think she’ll go down so fast but what we’ll have time to get that stuff aboard the wreckage. Then we can take a lot of ropes along and other things and fix the raft up after we’ve shoved off.”

Having eased their minds about the food and the water, Jack, Randy and Fred continued their inspection of the yacht.

“I’m rather afraid to go below on account of what may be loose down there,” said Fred.

They found a door, and beyond this there was a sort of runway, or gangplank, leading to the deck below. As the ship was on so much of a slant, it was no easy matter for the boys to get down, and they advanced with caution, Jack holding up before him a ship’s lantern he had found and lit.

The smell of wild animals was powerful below decks, and the sounds they had heard above were now increased tenfold. Close at hand were a number of empty stalls, or cages. But presently they came upon one cage containing a live tiger. Farther on were several more tigers and also four lions. Then came a number of leopards and[185] other wild beasts, some of which the boys were unable to identify.

This was on the upper side of the vessel. On the lower side were two cages of monkeys, three of parrots, and several heavy wire cages the occupants of which made the boys draw back in a hurry.

“Snakes!” cried Fred, in disgust. “What do you know about that? Great big snakes!”

“Yes, and look at the number of them!” returned Randy. “There must be fifteen or more. Just look at that big brown thing! He’s as thick as my arm and at least ten feet long.”

“This certainly is a menagerie ship, and no mistake,” came from Jack, and then he added: “I suppose those poor beasts haven’t had anything to eat or drink since the crash came. We ought at least to give them some water.”

“Here’s a hogshead full of water,” said Fred, “and half a dozen pails. We might as well give them a drink while we’re at it.”

The hogshead, even though on a slant, was more than half full of water, and into this the lads dipped the pails, and soon all of the animals were supplied. At once they stopped their roaring and growling, and set about satisfying their thirst.

In another part of the ship the boys discovered[186] a dozen sheep and goats, and also a cage of live rabbits. In a closet they discovered many canisters of crackers which were not unlike dog biscuit, and they rightly guessed that these were food for the monkeys. There were also several kegs of grain for some birds which hung suspended in a row of cages, and for the parrots.

“I suppose those live rabbits must be for the snakes,” said Jack. “You know, such reptiles won’t eat anything dead.”

“Well, I don’t know that I want to feed any snakes rabbits,” said Randy, making a wry face.

They had soon fed the birds and the monkeys. Then, as there seemed no help for it, they slaughtered one of the sheep and threw portions of the carcass to the various wild animals.

“I hate the job,” was the way Jack expressed himself. “But I can’t leave those beasts to starve to death. They probably suffer as much from hunger as we did.”

The boys had opened several of the portholes of the lower deck, so that the breeze, coming in, made the air below much sweeter. Yet it was not a pleasant place to be in, and they were glad when the last of the animals and the birds had been taken care of.

“Now we’d better get down in the lower hold and see what condition the ship is in,” declared[187] Jack. “According to Small, we should have done that in the first place.”

“Maybe,” answered Randy. “Just the same, I’m glad we took care of those animals and birds. That awful growling and moaning and chattering got on my nerves.”

Looking around once more to see that all of the things which were alive below decks had been properly cared for, the three lads advanced to the runway down which they had come from the deck above. They were just about to start up the runway when Randy uttered a scream of horror.

“Look out, there!” he called. “Look out, or he’ll be after you!”

“What is it?” came simultaneously from the other Rover boys.

“A snake! One of those big snakes!” was the reply. “He’s at the top of the runway! There he goes out on deck!”



The three Rovers were alarmed, and with good reason. Such a snake at liberty on the deck of the water-logged steam yacht would be a constant source of danger.

“Are you positive you saw him, Randy?” questioned Jack.

“Positive!” was the ready reply. “Gee, but he was a big one, too!”

“Maybe we’d better warn the others,” broke in Fred. “That snake may go right after Andy or Small if they happen to be down on the deck.”

“I’m going out, snake or no snake!” came from the young major.

“Wait! Let’s get those hatchets and axes we saw back there,” cried Fred, and ran back, to return a minute later with two axes and a fair-sized hatchet.

Carrying these weapons ready for use, the three Rover boys mounted the runway cautiously. At first they saw nothing on the deck. Then Fred pointed excitedly to the wreckage at the bow.


“There he is!” he cried. “There he goes under those boards!”

“What are you yelling about?” came from Andy. He and the lanky sailor were still resting on the top of the cabin.

“It’s a big snake,” answered Jack. “He got loose and just came up a runway. There are a whole lot of them down below, in a big wire cage.”

“If we only had guns we could take a shot at that snake!” exclaimed Randy. “I’m sure we could soon blow him to pieces.”

“I’m going to take a shot of another kind!” exclaimed Fred, and, aiming as carefully as he could, he threw the hatchet with all the force he could command.

It was a light and sharp affair, and as the bright steel circled through the air the boys saw the snake twist around and for a moment its head came into view. Then the circling hatchet descended, cutting the snake deeply in the center of its body.

“You struck him, Fred!” exclaimed Randy, in delight.

“Yes, but he isn’t dead,” announced Jack, quickly.

“Look out! He may come for you!” came from Andy, who could see the reptile from where[190] he was resting. And now in his excitement he stood up, and Ira Small did likewise.

The wound made by Fred’s hatchet was evidently a severe one, and, maddened with pain, the reptile whipped around and around on the forward deck. Then, of a sudden, it began to slide down the slope, and a moment later disappeared over the side of the yacht into the heaving ocean.

“He’s gone!” murmured Randy, in awe-struck tones.

“Yes; and I’m glad of it,” answered Jack. “Fred, that was certainly a dandy throw.”

“I’ll say it was a lucky one,” answered the youngest Rover boy modestly. His face had blanched and he was breathing heavily.

“For all we know, there may be more loose snakes around,” remarked Jack. “We’ll have to be on our guard every minute.”

“I move we look around the cabin for guns and pistols,” said Randy. “I’d feel a good deal better if I had some sort of firearm. It would be a protection, not only against the snakes, but against those wild beasts, if any of them should break loose.”

“If I had my way, I’d heave all the beasts and the snakes overboard,” came from Fred.


He armed himself again with the hatchet, and then the three boys rejoined Andy and the lanky sailor, and the five held a consultation.

“The steam yacht don’t seem to be settlin’ very fast,” said Ira Small. “So I don’t know but what your idee of lookin’ round for some weapons ain’t a first-class one. I’d like to have some kind of a shootin’ iron myself. A bullet travels a heap-sight quicker nor a club, or a hatchet, either. Not but what that crack of yours, lad, wasn’t a wonder,” he added hastily to Fred.

Without delay Jack and his two cousins re-entered the cabin and made a thorough search of that compartment and the staterooms adjoining. They kept their eyes open for more reptiles, but none appeared. In one stateroom they found a case containing two automatic pistols, and on a rack in another stateroom they found two double-barreled shotguns. All of the weapons were loaded; and they also found some extra ammunition.

“Now I guess we’ll feel better,” said Jack, after Fred and Randy had appropriated the pistols and he had armed himself with one of the guns. “I’ll take this other gun up to Andy and Small.”

“Here’s another pistol!” exclaimed Fred, having[192] looked into a drawer under one of the stateroom beds. “It’s a small affair, but it looks to be all right and it’s fully loaded.”

“We’ll give that to Andy and that old sailor can take the shotgun. Then each of us will have a weapon.”

In one of the staterooms they had also found a good-sized flashlight, and this Jack placed in his pocket.

“I suppose we really ought to go down in the lower hold and find out how badly she is leaking,” he said. “Do you feel like going with me?”

“I don’t feel very much like it, Jack,” answered Fred, candidly. “But I suppose it ought to be done. We’ll take our weapons and the flashlight, and then maybe we’ll be safe. I don’t believe any wild beast would want to charge us with that light flashing into his face.”

The boys soon located the engine room of the steam yacht, and there found a ladder leading down to the lower hold, which was, as they later on found, connected with the upper deck by several hatchways, all of which had been battened down during the storm.

They found the hold divided into several compartments. Most of the doors of these compartments were closed and bolted. There was a miscellaneous[193] cargo of boxes, crates and barrels, all thrown into hopeless confusion, caused by the listing of the vessel.

“She has not only settled on her port side, but she’s also settled at the stern,” said Jack. “That’s why the smashed-in bow is sticking so high in the air. There doesn’t seem to be any great amount of water forward, not over a foot at the deepest.”

With caution the boys climbed to the stern of the steam yacht, and there found the water in one place to be two and a half feet deep. They looked at it carefully and threw the searchlight on all sides, but could not bring themselves to believe that the water was becoming perceptibly higher.

“Do you know what I think?” said Jack, at last. “I think the only opening is at the bow, and the only water that’s coming in now is what we’re shipping from the rolling of the waves.”

“Then what makes the vessel sink at the stern?” questioned Fred. “Why didn’t she sink at the bow and go down?”

“I can’t answer that question, Fred. Maybe they shifted some of the cargo in an endeavor to get the hole up above the water line. Anyway, that’s how the thing is now, and I believe if we could get that hole closed in some way, she’d[194] float for a long time. I’m going to ask Small about it; he knows more about ships than we do.”

The boys reported to Andy and the lanky sailor. Ira Small was greatly interested, and said it was quite possible that the only hole might be at the bow.

“Of course, the shock may have started a few of the seams below the water line,” he said. “But mebby that water comin’ in could be taken care of by the engine, or even the hand pumps. Anyway, it don’t look to me like she’d go down in a hurry. But I think we ought to try and close that there hole in the bow. It didn’t look to be more’n four or five feet an’ we kin easy cover that with a couple o’ tarpaulins, tyin’ ’em fast inside as well as out. You boys jest help me around a bit, an’ I’ll show you how it kin be done.”

The next couple of hours were busy ones for all on board the water-logged steam yacht. Even though his ankle hurt him considerably, Andy insisted on helping drag forward some heavy tarpaulins which were found stowed away on the vessel. When it came to adjusting the necessary ropes, Ira Small performed his share of the task. And so between all of them, two tarpaulins, one on top of the other, were lashed fast over the smashed-open bow of the vessel. Then Ira Small[195] insisted upon going down in the forward hold to show the boys how the inner tarpaulin could be fastened so that little or no water could enter.

“Course it’s only a makeshift,” explained the lanky sailor. “But I’ve knowed sech a makeshift to last a long while. Now if we kin shift some o’ that cargo, mebby we kin git her on more or less of an even keel.”

“What about the water?” questioned Randy.

“Oh, we won’t touch that at present, lad. Let it stay in the stern. It’ll keep the bow up high, and that’s jest what we want. We’ll shut the door to the stern hold, so the water won’t run for’ard if the yacht begins to pitch.”

By the time the work was accomplished, and Jack, Fred and Randy had prepared supper, it was growing dark. All of those aboard the steam yacht were exhausted from their exertions and glad to rest and take their time at eating.

“I don’t want to do any more to-night,” said Fred. “I think the best we can do is to shut ourselves in the cabin and make ourselves as comfortable as possible in the staterooms.”

“Just what I was going to suggest,” answered Jack.

“Why can’t we take turns at staying on guard?” suggested Andy. “I’m willing to keep awake for two or three hours, and then, one after[196] another, you fellows can be called to do the same.”

Thereupon it was decided that each person should spend two hours on guard.

“If it’s all the same to you boys, I’ll take the first watch,” said Ira Small. “I want to see if I can’t do somethin’ with the steerin’ gear aboard this yacht. If the rudder’s in workin’ order, I want to see if I can’t head her up to the waves so she’ll ride a bit easier.”

“Well, that’s all right; but don’t overtax your hurt leg,” answered Jack. “If you need any of us in a hurry, yell or fire off the gun.”

Lighting the lantern in the cabin, the boys opened the doors to the various staterooms and then proceeded to make themselves as comfortable as the disordered condition of the compartments permitted. They had found quite a quantity of clothing on board, and now proceeded to take a rub-down and don some dry garments.

“It’s wonderful how warm it is,” said Jack. “I didn’t feel a bit cold even with that wet stuff on.”

“We must have drifted southward,” returned Randy.

The lads were all too tired to do much talking, and having once gotten into some other underwear, they hung their own garments up to dry.[197] Then, one after another, they lay down to get what rest they could.

At the end of a couple of hours Jack aroused himself, and, as his cousins were all sleeping soundly, he went outside to see how matters were going with the old sailor. He was just moving forward on the deck when he saw a dark shadow slinking along in the starlight.

The discovery filled him with alarm, and he stood stock still. Then the shadow took shape, and in another moment he saw that the object was a tiger!



For the moment Jack’s heart seemed to stop beating. The tiger looked to be young but powerful, and had evidently broken from his cage in a search for food. He was sniffing his way along the deck, pausing every second or two to gaze around suspiciously.

The young major had one of the pistols with him, and he wondered if that weapon would be powerful enough to slay the beast. He knew that a tiger is usually hunted with a heavy rifle.

The beast continued to slink along in the semi-darkness, and now Jack saw that he was headed for the pilot house, where Ira Small sat nodding over the wheel. Evidently the beast had scented the sailor and was wondering if he could bring down his prey. Having had only a small portion of food, Jack fancied the tiger might take a desperate chance in an endeavor to satisfy the cravings of his stomach.

“Hi, there, Small!” he yelled at the top of his lungs. “Look out for yourself!”


“What’s that?” stammered the lanky sailor, straightening up suddenly and turning back from the wheel.

“A tiger! Look out for him! Have you got your shotgun?”

As Jack uttered the words the beast turned, and without waiting further the young major fired two shots in rapid succession. One took the tiger in the hind quarter and the other just grazed his neck. The beast gave a wild leap and then whirled around to locate the unexpected attack.

Jack did not hesitate to retreat, and with all possible speed. Dashing up the sloping deck of the yacht, he gained the rail and there balanced himself against a boat davit. The tiger saw him and crept forward a few yards, crouching low as if meditating an attack.

Bang! It was the report of Small’s shotgun, and the charge hit the deck directly behind the tiger, some of the shot entering his tail and his hind feet. With a wild roar the beast whirled around, and in excitement slid along the deck.

As he slid along the deck Jack fired again, this time hitting the beast squarely in the side. Again came a roar and a savage snarl, the tiger baring his glistening teeth as if willing to chew his attackers to bits.


“Is he hit?” came from Small, hobbling forward.

“Yes; but he isn’t dead,” answered Jack. “Give him the other barrel.”

Again the shotgun blazed forth, and this time the charge entered the tiger’s neck and forequarter. He straightened up, and then, seeing Jack on the rail, made a savage leap in that direction.

As the beast came on, the young major fired once more. It was at close range, and the bullet found its way directly into the open mouth of the tiger. The spring came to a sudden halt and the beast dropped limp half over the rail and within three feet of where the young major was standing. Then the tiger gave a convulsive shudder, dropped to the deck, and slid down the slope against the broken-off end of the mainmast.

“Is he dead?” questioned Small, coming from the pilot house gingerly.

“I think so, but I’m not sure,” answered Jack.

“What’s all the shooting about?” called another voice, and Randy appeared, followed by Fred, the first carrying a shotgun and the other a pistol.

“One of the tigers broke loose and we’ve been shooting at him,” answered Jack. “There he is—over by the mast.”


“A tiger!” exclaimed Randy. He grabbed the shotgun tighter. “Is he dead, or shall I give him another shot?”

“I think he’s done for,” answered Jack. And when they turned the searchlight on the beast, they saw that he had breathed his last.

“Well, this is certainly the dog’s suspenders,” murmured Fred. “Are there any more of those beasts loose?” he went on nervously.

“You know as much about it as I do,” answered the young major. “I suppose the others can get loose just as well as this one did. This is certainly a fine wreck to be on!” he added, with a grim smile.

By this time Andy was hobbling up on deck. All of the crowd, including the lanky sailor, surveyed the tiger carefully, but with great respect.

“He certainly was a beauty,” remarked Jack. “And see what a peculiar color.”

“I think the animals are all very fine,” answered Randy. “Perhaps this isn’t an ordinary menagerie ship. Maybe the people in charge were only picking up unusual specimens.”

“What are you going to do—heave that beast overboard?” asked Andy.

“No sense in doing that,” answered Jack, quickly. “We slaughtered one of the sheep to feed the other beasts; now I guess we can skin[202] this and cut up the carcass for more food; and maybe we can even try a tiger steak—that is, if we can get the stove to working,” he went on.

It must be admitted that all of the crowd were rather nervous for the remainder of the night. While one was at the wheel trying to steer the water-logged yacht, another remained on guard at the entrance to the cabin, so that no wild beast might gain admittance.

When day dawned the first work of the boys and the old sailor was to make sure that the other animals and the snakes were well secured. Then the beasts, reptiles and birds were fed, after which, leaving Andy in charge of the wheel and on the lookout for a possible sail, the others went below, to make an effort to shift some of the cargo so that the water-logged steam yacht might ride on more of an even keel.

But they soon found this task almost impossible. The fire was out under the boilers, so that the engine of the yacht could not be started, and consequently they could not use any of the hoisting machinery.

“And we can’t do much with that cargo by hand,” declared Jack. “We’d only break our backs and maybe get our fingers smashed. It would take a gang of heavy laborers several days[203] to make an impression down here.” So the task of shifting the cargo was abandoned.

They looked over the store of provisions and brought up a number of boxes and crates which contained things they thought they might use.

“With the yacht so terribly listed, it’s out of the question to start a fire under the boilers and get things to running,” declared Jack. “Everything is so out of kilter we might end by blowing the yacht up. I guess about the only thing we can do is to drift along and wait for somebody to pick us up.”

“If there was only some sort of radio on board!” sighed Randy.

“There is a receiving set in the yacht’s office,” answered Fred. “But it doesn’t seem to be in workable condition. Probably it was knocked out of kilter in the collision.”

That day the boys managed to get the fire started in the cook’s galley, and for the first time in a number of days all enjoyed a cooked meal. If a few of the articles of food were underdone or a bit burned, nobody complained. They took their time over the repast, and ate as they had never eaten before.

Strange as it may seem, not a sail of any kind had appeared in sight. And even a trail of smoke[204] that might indicate a distant steamer was missing.

“I reckon we’re out o’ the track o’ most ships,” was the way Ira Small expressed himself.

“If we only had the means to send out a radio call for assistance, it might be worth while to try to get our latitude and longitude,” said Jack. “But that’s of no consequence while we have no radio and no means of sailing the steam yacht in any direction.”

During the afternoon the boys made another inspection of the water-logged steam yacht, which was named the Coryanda. From records on board they learned that the craft was owned by two scientists, Paul and James Ellingham, of Baltimore. The Ellinghams, it seemed, were much interested in the collecting of rare beasts, birds and snakes, and the specimens on the steam yacht had been picked up in various parts of the globe after a tour lasting over two years. Each animal, reptile and bird was carefully catalogued.

“Some valuable cargo, I’ll say,” declared Randy. “Just look here! A white and red parrot put down as worth two hundred dollars! I wouldn’t give ten dollars for the best parrot going.”

“Yes, and look here! One blue-headed snake with a mile-long name put down at two hundred and seventy-five dollars!” cried Fred. “I[205] wouldn’t give that much for a boatload of ’em.”

“Well, they’re probably worth that, and more, to some zoo,” declared Jack. “Just the same, I’d rather not have such things on the Coryanda while I’m aboard.”

The afternoon wore away slowly, and toward night Ira Small announced that another storm was approaching.

“An’ it’s comin’ up fast, too,” he declared.

“What do you think it will do to us, Small?” questioned Randy.

“There’s no tellin’, lad,” answered the lanky sailor. “But when a ship is as water-logged as this here Coryanda is, she’s liable to do most anything. The best we kin do is to fix up that raft of ours as good as we possibly kin and git together all the provisions and water we kin carry. Then, if the worst comes to the worst, we kin leave the yacht.”



As Ira Small had predicted, the storm came up rapidly, and by sundown the sky was heavily overcast and the wind was blowing freely. Then came a shower of rain, the wind sweeping it furiously into the faces of those on the yacht as they moved around, trying to get together whatever they thought might be of benefit if they had to take again to the wreckage.

Jack, Randy and the old sailor had worked on the wreckage for over an hour, lashing the timbers together with half a dozen ropes and building a small platform in the center so that they might rest more comfortably than they had before.

“If only we would strike land!” sighed Andy, who, like Small, was now limping around despite the fact that his ankle was still swollen.

By midnight the storm was on them in all its fury. The Coryanda pitched and tossed in the darkness, the wreckage at her side banging and pounding at every rise and fall of the waves.


“Gee, maybe that raft will knock a hole in our side!” said Fred.

“Well, I don’t know what to do about it, and neither does Small,” answered Jack. “We can’t afford to cut it loose, and it might be too dangerous to try to tow it; the line might snap, and then we’d have nothing to take to if the yacht went down.”

“It’s too bad if we all go down,” murmured Ira Small, mournfully. “I always did hope I’d live long enough to find them thirteen rocks an’ git a chance to hunt for that pirates’ gold.”

The wind had been rising steadily until now it was blowing with hurricane proportions. The boys and the old tar did what they could to steer the yacht so that she might head up to the waves. But the water-logged condition of the craft was against her, and often they hit a mountain of water with a resounding crash that threatened to smash all the timbers beneath them.

“I don’t see how the vessel can stand much more of this,” declared Randy, after a crash that had all but sent them sprawling.

“We’ve got to take what comes, and that is all there is to it,” answered Jack, trying to put on a brave front for the benefit of his cousins. “If she starts to go down, all we can do is to make a rush for the raft.”


About two o’clock in the morning they made the discovery that the Coryanda was slowly but surely settling. The force of the elements had torn away one corner of the two tarpaulins lashed over the hole at the bow, and into this the waves kept pouring whenever they hit.

“Can’t we stop that hole?” asked Fred.

“No, no, lad! Don’t try it!” warned the old sailor. “You’d be swept off by a wave before you knew what hit you. Stay where you are, and when she gits too low I’ll let you know and we kin take to the raft.”

Another half hour passed, and then without warning came a resounding crash on the keel of the Coryanda. The vessel seemed to slide along on something and then slid off again into deep water.

“Gracious! what was that?” gasped Andy, in new alarm.

“We struck a key, I think,” answered Ira Small. “An’ if so, we must be somewhere near land. You know, the West Indies are full of keys of all kinds.”

They had the ship’s lanterns lit, and now tried to pierce the darkness ahead with the searchlight. But this hand instrument was too feeble to show them anything. Then came another crash from underneath the steam yacht, and there followed[209] a wild roaring, screaming and chattering from the wild beasts and parrots below decks.

“Sounds as if something had broken loose down there!” exclaimed Fred. “Gee, if they come up here, we sure will be in a pickle!”

“I don’t see how they can break out on deck with all those doors and hatchways shut tight,” answered Jack. Everything had been closed with care to keep out the elements. Only the door to the cabin was open, so that they might enter from time to time to shelter themselves from the fury of the hurricane.

One crash now succeeded another on the bottom of the steam yacht as the vessel was driven furiously forward by the force of the wind. The roaring, screaming and chattering below continued, showing that the wild beasts and birds were in great terror and doing their best to gain their liberty.

“We’re certainly among some keys,” said the lanky sailor. “But of course, lads, you got to remember they may not be above water. There’s thousands of places down in the West Indies where the keys are all beneath the surface of the ocean. If we—— Gosh! that’s the time we struck a big one!”

There had been a tremendous crash, followed almost immediately by a bump, and then another[210] bump. The Coryanda was thrown so far over that every one on board lost his balance and went sliding down almost into the water. Then the doomed ship veered around in the wind, and, carried by a mighty wave, swept forward to crash again and again in the darkness.

“I reckon she’s goin’ to pieces!” cried out Ira Small. “We’d better try for the raft if we kin make it. Be careful, everybody, or somebody’ll git drowned!”

As well as they could in the darkness, the boys, led by Jack, crept down to the rail where the raft was lashed fast. They were just going overboard when there came another mighty crash that threw every one of them off his balance.

Some struck the rail, but Randy and Fred were hurled clear into the boiling sea. Randy went down several feet, and so did his cousin. Blindly each of them struck out and soon reappeared on the top of a wave.

“Is that you, Fred?” spluttered Randy, as soon as he could speak.

“Yes. Where are the others? Did they go overboard?”

“I don’t know. Come on—let’s try to get on the raft.”

Both raft and yacht were but a short distance away, the lights of the latter showed dimly[211] through the flying mist of the storm. Bravely the two Rover boys endeavored to reach the raft. But before they could move more than a dozen feet the storm carried both boat and raft out of their sight in the darkness.

“They’re gone!” gasped Fred. “The ship and the raft are gone!”

The thought filled the two boys with agony, and yet instinctively they kept swimming, hoping almost against hope that something would come to save them. All around were the mountainous waves, but presently they made out a line of foam which proved to them that some sort of shore must be close at hand.

“See the foam, Fred!” gasped his cousin. “Come on—let’s make for it!”

It was a struggle that neither of the lads ever forgot. Time and again they reached shallow water only to be sucked back by the receding waves.

“I don’t think—I—can—make it!” gasped Fred. “Oh, the—storm is something—awful!”

Randy was equally exhausted, and almost as hopeless. Yet almost instinctively the two lads continued to struggle, and presently an extra high wave hurled them forward until their feet touched a sandy shore. Then, before the water could recede, they struggled onward desperately, and[212] at last reached a spot where the waves could no longer touch them. Then they sank down, completely exhausted.

In the meanwhile the others on the doomed steam yacht had managed to get down on the raft. They carried their firearms and an ax and a hatchet with them, and now Ira Small ordered that the hawsers which held the raft to the yacht be cut.

“But where are Fred and Randy?” questioned Jack, anxiously.

“They went into the water. They must be somewhere around here,” answered Andy. “Hold up the light so they can see it.”

The raft was now freed from the steam yacht, but the force of the wind still kept the two together. Then the yacht struck again, and the force of the collision tipped the raft up so that those aboard were nearly spilled off into the sea.

“Randy! Fred! Where are you?” yelled Andy. The possibility of his twin brother and his cousin being drowned filled him with agony.

“Look out, there! Something is comin’ down from the deck!” yelled Ira Small, suddenly. “Lay low! Them beasts is gettin’ loose!”

They could see but little, for the force of the shocks had put out nearly every light aboard the yacht and on the raft. But they could hear[213] a continual roaring and snarling, and now some of these sounds seemed to come closer. Then, of a sudden, tawny bodies loomed up near the yacht’s rail.

“It’s a lion! Two of them!” yelled Jack.

“Yes, and they’re getting ready to jump down here!” answered Andy.



It looked as if Andy was right, for both lions now had their forepaws on the rail of the ship as if ready to leap down on the improvised raft and its occupants.

But just at that moment the keel of the Coryanda struck bottom once more, and an instant later the water-logged yacht swung around and away from the raft. The lions were left at the rail, and they roared savagely in their combined perplexity and disappointment. Evidently they knew not what should be their next move.

But those on the raft could give the beasts no further consideration. The force of the hurricane sent the bit of wreckage whirling around and around and how the sea foamed and boiled on every side of the raft.

“Hold tight!” yelled Jack to the others. “Hold tight!”

Andy heeded the command. But Ira Small, who was moving forward and for an instant had[215] let go of one of the ropes, slipped to the edge and before he recovered had disappeared in a shower of flying spray.

“Small is gone!” muttered Andy, hoarsely. It was all he could do to keep himself on the wreckage.

Jack did not answer. He, too, had seen the mishap to the lanky sailor and he realized that in such a tempest it would be next to impossible for Small to save himself. He grabbed hold of the loose end of one of the ropes and, tying this fast under his arms, passed the flashlight to his cousin.

“Keep this on me if you can,” he said, and leaped overboard.

It was a heroic move to make, for the young major knew that he was taking his life in his hands. As the light shot through the flying spray, he caught a glimpse of the hands of the sailor a few yards away.

“Help! Help!” yelled Small. “Throw me a rope!”

“Keep up! I’m coming!” yelled Jack in return.

But at that instant Ira Small disappeared beneath a mountainous wave that rolled over both him and Jack and threatened to engulf the raft. It was more by luck than anything else that Jack[216] reached the lanky sailor even before both of them came up to the top of the wave. Ira Small was beating the water feebly.

“I—I—got a—a cramp, or somethin’,” he spluttered. “It’s in—my legs. Save me, lad, save me!”

“Hold tight, and we’ll get back to the raft!” panted Jack. “I’ve got a rope under my arms. Can you hold yourself?”

“I—guess so, although that cramp is something terrible!” gasped the poor sailor, and Jack saw his mouth twist in agony.

Another wave came along at that instant, bringing with it the raft, to which Andy clung with one hand while spraying around the rays of the flashlight with the other. The light struck the pair in the water for just a moment, and then the fury of the hurricane sent the raft forward with a jerk that was keenly felt by Jack. Then the rope parted, and the young major found himself helpless in the boiling and foaming waters with a bit of the rope dangling under him and Ira Small clinging desperately to his back.

“Kin you make it, lad? Kin you make it?” spluttered the old tar.

“No. The rope broke,” answered Jack.

“Then we’re bound for Davy Jones’ Locker!”[217] moaned Ira Small. “Can’t you save us somehow, lad? Kin you save us somehow? Remember them thirteen rocks an’ the pirates’ gold. Save me, an’ you kin have all that gold.” And now the old sailor acted as if he were losing his mind. He could swim but little, and the thought of being cast away in the ocean and in the darkness terrorized him.

But if Small was ready to give up, Jack was not. Weighted down as he was by his clothing and the rope which he could not unfasten just then, and also by the form of the sailor, he continued to struggle desperately in an effort to keep afloat. Ship and improvised raft had both disappeared in the darkness, and he could see only a few feet in any direction.

He battled bravely, and wave after wave lifted the young major and his helpless burden up and through that boiling and foaming sea, which denoted that land was close at hand. Then he, like Randy and Fred, felt the sand beneath his feet and took fresh courage.

“We’ve struck land!” he cried. “Hold tight for a minute longer, Small, and I think we’ll be all right.”

Another wave swept forward, carrying the pair well up the beach. Then, watching his chance,[218] Jack, with Ira Small still clinging to him, struggled madly to gain some sort of foothold on the shore.

In the meantime, Andy, left alone on the raft, did not know what to do. He used the searchlight as best he could, and when the rope suddenly parted he retained presence of mind enough to throw a life-preserver which was on the raft in the direction his cousin had taken. Then the waves and the flying spray cut out the view on all sides of him, and though he wiped off the glass of the searchlight and played the rays in all directions, he could see nothing but the rolling ocean.

“They are gone! All of them are gone!” he murmured, in agony. “First Gif and Spouter and Ralph, and now all the others! I’m all alone!”

The poor boy was in such a state of mind that he was almost ready to cast himself into the sea and end it all. He was trying to think of what to do when, without warning, the raft was caught up by the waves and a few seconds later was grounded on the beach. It went back into the wallow of the sea, but the next wave carried it still higher.

“Ashore! Ashore!” cried Andy, in amazement. And then, before the raft could again[219] slide back into the ocean, he took a flying leap forward, landing in water less than a foot deep and hobbled rapidly to a point of safety. As he did this, the raft was sucked back into the ocean and it disappeared from view into the gloom of the night and the storm.

Andy had no thought of looking around to see upon what sort of place he had landed. His one thought was of his cousins and the old sailor. He still held the flashlight in his hand, and now as rapidly as he could do so, he hobbled along the sandy beach, throwing the rays of the flashlight before him and calling loudly.

The first persons he encountered were Jack and the sailor. The young major sat on the sands panting for breath while beside him in a semi-conscious condition lay Ira Small.

“Jack!” was the eager cry. “Are you all right?”

“Is that you, Andy?” panted the young major. “Yes, I’m all right. But Small is pretty close to being all in. When the rope parted I thought sure we’d be drowned.”

“Where are the others?”

“I don’t know.”

Leaving the old sailor resting where he was, Jack and Andy continued the search along the sands. They used the searchlight, and presently[220] heard a cry from a distance, and Fred and Randy appeared.

“Safe! Safe!” cried Andy, joyously. “Oh, how glad I am! I thought I was going to be all alone!”

It was a happy reunion, and for the moment the Rover boys did nothing but hug each other in their delight at being together again. They cared not if the raft and the steam yacht were gone, so long as all of them were safe. They walked to the spot where Ira Small lay, and each sank down to rest.

“He’s certainly in bad shape,” said Jack, gazing at the old tar, who, with closed eyes, was breathing heavily. “He said he had a cramp, or something like that.”

“I wonder what place this is?” put in Randy. “Maybe there’s some sort of village or town not far away. If so, we might be able to get a doctor for him. Now that we have all been saved from the ocean, we certainly don’t want him to pass away like this.”

After having rested for some time, it was decided among the boys that the twins should remain with the old tar while Jack and Fred set out on a tour of exploration, taking the flashlight to guide their way.

The rain had stopped entirely, but the wind[221] blew as fiercely as ever, and the boys had no easy time of it to make their way along the sandy shore. Back of the sand they found a dense mass of bushes and trees, a veritable semi-tropical jungle.

“Gee! this doesn’t look as if there was any village or town very near,” observed Fred, after they had passed up and down the somewhat narrow beach for a goodly distance. “Do you suppose we’re on the mainland or on an island, Jack?”

“I’m of the opinion we’re on an island, Fred. It seems to me we were drifting southward most of the time.”

“Would we do that if the boat was in the Gulf Stream?”

“I think we were east of the Gulf Stream. Anyway, I’ve got a hunch that we’re somewhere in the West Indies, although, of course, I may be mistaken. I’m really and truly all at sea,” and Jack grinned grimly.

The two Rover boys walked along the beach until they came to a point where a huge wall of rock jutted out into the ocean, and here the flying spray stopped their further progress. Then they walked back along the beach to where they had left the twins and the sailor, and then continued their observations in the other direction. Here[222] they found that the beach made a turn, and the ocean came into what formed a small bay. But at the entrance to this the jungle was so dense that progress on foot was completely cut off.

“There isn’t any path around here, that’s certain,” remarked Jack, at last. “Do you know what I begin to believe?” he added.

“What?” questioned his cousin.

“I believe we are cast away on a small deserted island.”



Morning found the five castaways resting as comfortably as they could in the jungle on the edge of the sandy beach. The storm had passed completely, and only a mild wind had succeeded the hurricane. But the waves were still angry and foamed and boiled as they struck the keys beyond the beach.

Utterly exhausted, one after another of the Rover boys had dropped to sleep. The last to lie down had been Jack. The young major had found some rain water in a hollow between the trees and bushes, and had given Ira Small a drink. The old sailor was still suffering, but none of the boys knew what more they could do for him, except to place him upon as comfortable a couch as the edge of the jungle provided.

It was a sorry looking crowd that came together for a consultation shortly after the sun arose. The boys were still wet to the skin, but as it was comparatively warm, they did not mind this a great deal. They hung up their jackets[224] and took off their shoes and socks and thus proceeded to dry themselves as best they could.

“It certainly does look lonely around here,” remarked Fred, after taking an observation in every direction. “Not a settlement nor a craft of any kind in sight!”

“It looks like a deserted island to me,” remarked Jack. “Or, otherwise, it’s an unusually lonely bit of coast.”

Now that they had rested, all felt the pangs of hunger. Water was to be had in sufficient quantities for drinking purposes, but the jungle, as far as they could see, afforded nothing in the way of food.

“Anyhow, that hurricane ought to have thrown some fish up on the beach, and maybe we can find some oysters,” suggested Randy.

“Why not take a look around for the raft?” came from his twin brother. “It got stuck for a moment when I came ashore, and I can’t believe but what the hurricane cast it up somewhere around here.”

“Don’t leave me!” groaned the lanky sailor, propping himself up on one of his arms. “Don’t leave me all alone in this out-of-the-way place.”

“We’re not going to leave you, Small,” answered Jack, kindly. “We’ll do what we can for you, never fear.”


“You saved my life, lad,” went on the old tar, gratefully. “I ain’t never goin’ to forgit it, neither. You know what I said about them thirteen rocks and the pirates’ gold. If I ever lay hands on that gold, you’re goin’ to git a big share of it.”

“What I’d like to lay my hands on just now is a roast-beef sandwich,” said Andy. “I feel hollow right down to my toes.”

“Yes, a sandwich and a good cup of hot coffee,” put in Fred.

As Andy’s foot still hurt him, it was decided that he was to remain with the sailor while the three other boys walked down the beach in the direction where Andy had landed.

For a long while the searchers found nothing of interest outside of several small fish they discovered flapping around in a pool well up on the beach.

“There are a couple of meals, anyhow,” said Jack. “That is, if we can make a fire to cook them over.”

“Oh, we’ll make a fire all right enough. I’ve seen it done several times, when the party didn’t have any matches,” declared Fred. “Of course, it isn’t very easy.”

“I’ll tell you what we can do,” suggested Randy. “If there are any birds around we might[226] bring them down either with the firearms or with bows and arrows.”

The three Rover boys continued their explorations until almost noon, and then, to their satisfaction, caught sight of the raft being slowly pounded to pieces on a series of keys just outside the tiny bay previously mentioned.

“There she is!” exclaimed Jack, who was the one to make the discovery.

The improvised raft still hung together, and so far as they could see their stores were still upon it. But the sea was pounding it heavily, sending the spray completely over it.

“Maybe if we had a line heavy enough we could haul the raft ashore,” suggested Randy.

He had scarcely spoken when the force of the waves made the raft break loose from the keys upon which it was stuck, and an instant later it surged shoreward.

“It’s coming in!” cried Fred. “Let’s see if we can’t haul it up somehow or other.”

The next fifteen minutes were filled with strenuous exertions on the part of the three Rover boys. Twice the wreckage came up on the sand, and they did their best to hold it, but without success. Then they managed to get hold of two of the ropes which lashed the wreckage together, and, watching their opportunity, they waited for[227] an extra high wave and then ran the wreckage up the beach as far as they possibly could.

“Now come on and tie it fast!” yelled Jack.

He had found a loose end of one of the ropes. Tying this to another rope they had found on the wreckage, they ran up the beach and anchored the improvised raft fast to a palm tree.

“Now let’s get the stuff ashore before the raft has a chance to break loose,” directed the young major.

Working with feverish haste, the three boys pitched boxes and crates and canned goods out on the sand above the reach of the ocean. It was well that they did this, for before they had finished their task the wreckage began to go to pieces. The continual pounding of the elements had snapped a number of the ropes, and now one bit of timber after another drifted away.

“Come on! Let us take the wreckage up as high as we can get it!” directed Jack. “That stuff may come in useful as firewood, if for nothing else.” And so what was left of the raft was presently hauled to a place of safety.

It did not take the boys long to look over the stores, and, carrying what they needed, they hurried back to where they had left Andy and the lanky sailor.

They had matches in a water-tight box, and[228] soon a fire was lighted and a meal started, much to every one’s satisfaction. After the meal Ira Small felt better. He was not yet able to get on his feet, stating that his legs felt too shaky; but he insisted upon sitting up and taking part in the discussion of what should be their next move.

“I reckon we’re on a little island of the West Indies,” said the old tar. “There’s dozens an’ dozens of ’em scattered fur hundreds o’ miles around. Most of the islands have settlements, but there’s a lot of ’em that ain’t visited once a year. The folks down here can’t grow nothin’ on ’em, an’ couldn’t git the stuff to market if they did, an’ so the islands are left to themselves, not bein’ near where ships usually travel.”

“Was it on one of these islands that your thirteen rocks and the pirates’ gold was located?” questioned Randy, curiously.

“That’s it, lad. An’ if I ever git my hands on that gold, you lads are goin’ to have a fair share of it. I ain’t never goin’ to forgit how Jack, here, saved my life.”

“Tell us something about the pirates’ gold, will you?” questioned Fred. The search and the work of the morning had tired him completely, and he was content to rest for a while after eating.

“To go into the details would be a long yarn,[229] lad—longer nor any of you would care to listen to,” answered Ira Small. “Howsomever, here is the gist of it:

“About five year ago I fell in with two old sailors who hailed from Jamaica. They was talkin’ about the thirteen rocks and pirates’ gold, and one of ’em had several snap-shot photygraphs of them thirteen rocks and where they was located on an island. They said the place wasn’t so very far from Porto Rico, an’ they tried to figure out how to locate that island, which they had once visited. The thirteen rocks was located in something of a circle, an’ in the center of it was a flat rock, an’ under that the treasure of gold hidden by Zalopa, an old South American pirate, and his men.”

“Gee, I’d like to locate that pirates’ treasure!” murmured Fred, his eyes glistening. “What do you suppose it’s worth?”

“Them old sailors thought it was worth a big amount, although how much they couldn’t exactly say,” answered Ira Small.

“Where are the sailors now?” questioned Jack.

“Both dead. They got smallpox, an’ nobody would nurse ’em but me. I stayed with ’em till they died, an’ they was so grateful they said I could have the treasure if I could find it. They told me all they could about it. After their[230] death I got smallpox myself, but it didn’t amount to a great deal. I reckon I was too thin an’ leathery,” answered the lanky sailor solemnly.

“And you’ve never had a chance to look for the treasure?” questioned Randy.

“Not much of a chance. You see, after I had the smallpox I had to earn my livin’ an’ I didn’t have no time to go treasure huntin’. But some day, if I can git anybody int’rested, I’m goin’ to git a ship an’ sail aroun’ lookin’ fur an island with them thirteen rocks.”

“Did you save the pictures?” asked Andy.

“I got two of ’em. The rest got tore up an’ lost. The two are sewed up in a pocket o’ my shirt. Some day I’ll show ’em to you,” answered the old tar.

It was fascinating to speculate upon a pirates’ treasure, but just at present the boys felt that they must turn their attention to conditions as they now existed.

“I’m going to try to climb up one of those tall palm trees and take a look around,” announced Jack, a little later. “I’ve seen pictures of how the natives go up those trees, and I’m going to try the stunt.”

He took a stout rope, and, going to one of the trees, proceeded to pass the rope around his body under the arms and then around the tree, leaving[231] a slack of about two feet. Then, barefooted as he was, he started to ascend the palm tree by grasping the bark with his toes and sliding the rope up from one point to another, bearing back on the rope from time to time to keep it from slipping.

Jack had read about this method of ascending a tree, and had even seen a moving picture of a native climbing in this fashion. It had looked easy enough in the picture, but he soon realized that ascending in this fashion was anything but easy. However, he was determined to get up, and after a prolonged effort managed to reach a point where he could look around for a considerable distance.

“What do you see?” called out Randy, eagerly.

“I don’t see much of anything,” was Jack’s answer. “We’re on an island. There isn’t any settlement, and not a ship of any kind is in sight.”



Jack’s announcement filled all of those below with keen disappointment. They had hoped from his position in the tall palm that he would discover either that they were on a point of the mainland or that some sort of settlement was not far away.

“Gee, we’re regular Robinson Crusoes!” declared Andy, with a sigh. “What do you know about that!”

“And not a sail in sight!” murmured Fred.

“Yes, and nothing in the way of a boat to get away on,” added Randy.

“I thought it might be that way,” put in the old sailor. “We sure are in a pickle, an’ no mistake. But it’s a mighty good thing you sighted the raft an’ got them stores ashore. That food will last us quite a spell.” And then he added suddenly: “Don’t he see nothin’ of the Coryanda?”

“What about the steam yacht?” called up Fred.

“Nowhere in sight,” was Jack’s answer, after another look around.


“Then she must have gone to the bottom,” came solemnly from the lanky sailor. “I thought she was doomed.”

“Well, there’s one satisfaction,” was Andy’s comment. “If she went down, it’s good-bye to all those savage beasts and those horrible snakes.”

After a careful survey of the surroundings, Jack came down from the tree and told the others the details of what he had seen.

“The island looks to be about a mile long and not quite half a mile wide,” he said. “The western end is mostly rocky and extends out into the ocean for a considerable distance. Looks to me as if it might be of volcanic origin, like we have studied about in school. Over to the eastern end of the island is that little bay, and there the jungle is very dense. There are more rocks at the far eastern end of the island, some quite tall.”

“And you didn’t see anything at all in the way of a settlement or a place where boats might land?” questioned Randy.

“Not a thing! It looks to me as if this island had never been visited.”

“Oh, I reckon these islands are all visited once in a while,” remarked Ira Small. “The natives come in their long boats to see what they can pick up. But we might have to wait a good many[234] months before any one would come here to take us off.”

“And it doesn’t look as if we could build a boat ourselves—not with the material we have,” answered Jack, with a sigh.

“Then it looks as if we might be booked to stay here quite a while,” remarked Randy. “Oh, dear, I wonder what the folks at home will think!” he went on soberly.

“They’ll think we have all been lost at sea,” answered Fred.

“They will unless those aboard the Hildegarde tell how we escaped in the motor boat.”

“Those rascals won’t open their mouths about that,” answered Andy. “And even if they did,” he went on, “they’d most likely think the motor boat was lost in the hurricane.”

“And what do you think became of Ralph, Gif and Spouter?” remarked Randy.

No one cared to reply to this. All wished to hope for the best, yet down in their hearts they were satisfied that their school chums had gone to a watery grave. A sudden spell of melancholy fastened itself upon the four Rover boys. The mind of each traveled back to the loved ones at home, and they could well visualize the agony of mind which their parents and the girls must endure.


“More than likely mother is half crazy, and so are dad and Martha,” mused Jack to himself. “Oh, if only we had a radio sending station, or some carrier pigeons, or some means of communicating with them!”

“I suppose the folks at home will start some sort of a search for us,” said Fred, a little later. “But it will be a good deal like looking for a pin in a haystack.”

“We can only hope for the best, Fred,” said Randy. “Gee, I wish we could do something! I don’t want to stay on this forsaken island for any great length of time!”

“None of us wants to stay here,” declared Andy. “We haven’t any great stock of provisions, and what are we going to do when those are gone? Of course, we can catch fish, and maybe get some oysters, and perhaps bring down a few birds. But who wants to live on that sort of stuff very long?”

“There may be something we can find to eat in the jungle,” said Jack. “Bananas or cocoanuts or mangoes, or some other semi-tropical stuff like that. It isn’t likely there’s very much on a place that’s so rocky.”

During the afternoon the boys explored the island further, penetrating into the jungle for quite a distance. Here, however, they found the[236] thickets so dense that progress was almost impossible.

“We’d have to cut our way along to get to the south side of the island,” declared Jack. “A fellow could never get through unless he found some sort of a trail.”

They did manage to reach the shore of the little bay. Here the water was comparatively quiet, and here they came upon some of the wreckage that had torn itself loose from the improvised raft.

“We can make a little raft of that stuff and sail around the bay on it,” said Jack. “But I don’t see what good it will do.”

Too tired at last to do anything else, the boys returned to their temporary camp and there proceeded to fix an evening meal and prepare themselves for a second night on the island. They had secured a good-sized tarpaulin from the wreckage, and, cutting some poles with a hatchet, they soon had a tent erected. Then all the boys set to work to cut down some small branches, with which they fixed up beds for themselves and for the old sailor.

Fortunately, they had recovered all the firearms left on the improvised raft, and none that had been carried in their pockets had been lost, so that now all were armed as before.

“But we must remember that our supply of[237] ammunition is limited,” said Jack. “So don’t shoot at anything unless you have to.”

“I don’t see what there is to shoot at,” answered Randy, who was frying one of the fish brought back from the pool.

“Well, something may turn up when you least expect it,” answered the young major.

Their clothing was now dry, yet they presented anything but an enviable appearance. Their linen was much soiled and torn and their suits were also torn and very much mussed up.

“We wouldn’t do to go to a party, would we, Jack?” remarked Fred, when they were preparing to retire. “I wonder what Ruth Stevenson would say if she saw you now.”

“Probably she’d be glad to see me and all the rest of you, Fred,” was the prompt answer. “I know I’d be mighty glad to see her and all of the others. Wouldn’t you?”

“Would I! Would a duck swim or a monkey eat peanuts? I’d give all I’m worth to be safe and sound again at home or at Colby Hall. Gosh! it seems as if we had been away for ages.”

Nothing that night disturbed the party, and all were stirring early, each wondering what they might do to get out of their predicament. To stay on the lonely little island indefinitely was unthinkable. Besides, they felt they must let their[238] parents know of their whereabouts at the earliest possible moment.

When Andy was dressing, Jack noticed that Andy was surveying his injured ankle quite seriously. The fun-loving Rover boy had lost much of his light-heartedness.

“Does it still hurt, Andy?” he questioned kindly.

“A little, Jack. But I don’t mind that so much,” was the sober reply. “It’s when I try to walk. It doesn’t seem to act like it used to.”

“What do you mean?”

“It’s stiff. I can’t bend it, and it makes me walk sort of flat-footed. Haven’t you noticed it?”

“I thought you limped a little.”

“It’s worse than that. I don’t know what to make of it. But I certainly don’t want to walk with a limp all the rest of my life.”

“Oh, don’t think of such a thing!” exclaimed Jack, in dismay. His cousin had always been so acrobatic that to think of his being lame filled the young major with dismay.

“If I could only see a doctor or get to a hospital, maybe they could do something for it before it got too bad,” went on Andy. “I guess I need attention as much as Small does.”

As the boys did not wish to carry the pile of[239] wood brought in from the breaking up of the improvised raft, they shifted the camp a little closer to where the wood lay, and there put up the tent in more permanent fashion, digging a trench around the back and both sides, so that in case of rain the water would run off into the sand. They also fixed some better bedding, and from some stones built a small fireplace where they might cook their meals to better advantage.

It was about the middle of the afternoon when Randy, who had been walking up the beach in the direction of the high rocks, came running back in great excitement.

“Do you see it? Do you see it?” he called out eagerly.

“Do we see what?” asked several of the others in chorus.

“A ship! There she is! And I believe she’s coming to this island!”

All gazed in the direction to which Randy pointed, and far out at sea they saw what seemed to be a bark with all sails set.

“She’s either coming this way or else she’s going to round the eastern end of the island,” said Fred.

“Let’s do what we can to signal her!” exclaimed Jack.

The boys had already talked over the matter of[240] signals, and now they started up the fire and then heaped upon it some damp brushwood, thereby causing a dense smoke. Then two of them went down the beach, waving a bit of sailcloth while the other two went up the beach and did the same thing.

Would their signals be seen? Anxiously the boys waited to find out.



Five, ten, fifteen minutes went by slowly. The wind had fallen somewhat, so the progress of the vessel in the distance was slow.

“She’s coming this way, I’m sure of it!” declared Randy.

“Don’t be too certain. You may be disappointed,” answered Fred.

The youngest Rover boy had scarcely spoken when the bark seemed to veer off to the eastward.

“She’s going away!”

“Maybe she’s only tacking in the wind.”

With strained eyes the boys watched the vessel in the distance. Now she seemed to tack back, much to their delight.

“She’s coming in!”

“They must be seeing our signals!”

“Hurrah! I wonder what sort of a vessel she is?”

“Perhaps she’s another rum-runner,” came from Fred.


“Oh, Fred, don’t say that!” exclaimed Andy.

“Well, you can’t tell, Andy. We must be right in the path of that kind of a ship. So many of them run from the West Indies to the United States.”

“Look, look!” cried Jack, in sudden dismay. “She is turning away again.”

“That’s right. She is steering due east!” added Randy, with something like a groan.

Another five minutes passed, and then all of the boys, as well as the lanky sailor, came to the conclusion that the bark was moving eastward. Frantically the lads continued their signaling, and saw to it that the clouds of smoke from their fire continued. But if the signals were seen, no one paid any attention to them, and presently the bark, far to the eastward, was but a speck in the distance on the bosom of the rolling ocean.

“She’s gone! They didn’t even notice us!” exclaimed Fred, and his voice had something of tears in it.

All were downcast, and it was some time before they could get back to a more optimistic frame of mind.

“They should have seen the smoke, even if they couldn’t see us waving the sailcloth,” said Randy, bitterly.

“Well, if they saw the smoke, they might have[243] thought it was from a fire built by some of the natives,” answered Jack. “If I was sailing among a great bunch of islands like the West Indies, I wouldn’t want to stop to investigate every pillar of smoke I saw.”

“If we only had a regular flag, then we could hoist it up in one of the trees. If we placed it upside down, that would be sure to attract attention sooner or later.”

“Yes; but we haven’t a flag, so we’ve got to do without it,” said Andy, who was now rubbing his hurt ankle in an endeavor to limber it up.

Another day passed, and by this time the boys felt a little more at home on the island. A few hours of fishing had sufficed to bring in a goodly mess, and while some of these were eaten, the others were placed in a pool where they might be drawn upon whenever necessary. The boys had also made a hunt for oysters, and while they had found a few of the bivalves, they were not of a particularly good variety, and no one cared for them except the old tar.

“Some day I’m goin’ to make myself a good, big stew of ’em,” said Ira Small. “I always did like a stew made of oysters caught on the spot.”

Now that he could rest whenever he desired, the lanky sailor recovered rapidly, so that in a couple of days he was able to hobble around with[244] the aid of a cane which Jack cut for him. A great friendship had sprung up between the young major and the old tar.

“I ain’t forgot how you saved me from goin’ down to Davy Jones’ Locker,” the old sailor said more than once. “An’ don’t you forgit what I said about that pirates’ gold. If I lay hands on it, you git your full share.”

After a quiet Sunday on the island Jack and Randy made their way on Monday morning to the little bay and there constructed a raft out of the wreckage that had drifted into the opening. Then, with their shoes slung around their necks and their socks in their pockets, they set off for the opposite shore of the bay, using two pieces of boards for sculls.

“We may find nothing over there to interest us,” said Jack. “Just the same, it won’t hurt to go over. Perhaps we can find some sort of a trail to the south side of the island.”

As the water was calm, it did not take the boys long to reach the other side of the little bay. Here they found a spot where landing was easy and tied up the raft so that it might not float away. Then, putting on their socks and shoes again, they continued their explorations.

They soon found that progress in this direction was almost as difficult as it had been in the vicinity[245] of their first camp. The jungle was a mass of tangled undergrowth and heavy vines, with here and there some fair-sized palm trees. A little further on they came to a series of rocks which seemed to bar their further progress in that direction.

“We don’t seem to be getting anywhere, Jack,” remarked Randy, as he stopped to catch his breath and wipe the perspiration from his brow. “Gee! this doesn’t seem to be like December weather, does it?”

“Well, you must remember we’re pretty well south,” was the young major’s answer. “What do you think we’d better do—go back?”

“Let’s move along the base of the rocks. Maybe we’ll find some sort of an opening. I’d like very much to get to the south shore of the island, just to find out what is there.”

Once more they went on, advancing with care for fear of slipping and perhaps spraining an ankle. They had a hatchet with them, and often had to cut the brushwood and the vines, to make a passage for themselves.

“There is one thing we want to remember,” said Jack, suddenly. “And that is that we’ve got to get back. We don’t want to lose our way.”

“I guess not!” exclaimed his cousin. “Why,[246] if we lost our way in this jungle we might never get out. We’d have to climb a tree or some of those rocks just to locate ourselves.”

Presently, in the midst of the jungle, they came to a small clearing. Here there was a rocky hollow, and they found a bubbling spring of pure, cool water.

“Say, this is worth while!” exclaimed Jack, after each of them had taken a drink. “I wish we had this spring near the camp,” he added as they sat down to rest and eat their lunch.

“Look on the ground, will you!” exclaimed Randy, suddenly. “Look at those footprints! What do you make of them, Jack?”

Both gazed at the soft ground in the vicinity of the spring, and there saw a number of footprints evidently made by some wild animals.

“What animals do you suppose they can be?” questioned Randy.

“I don’t know. In fact, I don’t know what sort of wild animals exist on these islands. They are certainly not the marks of horses or cows or sheep, or anything like that.”

“If there are any wild animals in this jungle, we’d better be on our guard.”

“I should say so! I wish we had brought one of the shotguns along.”

“So do I.”


They had with them two of the pistols, but they realized that these weapons might prove of small use against any large beasts.

They looked around the vicinity of the spring, but nothing in the way of an animal showed itself. Not even a bird was in sight, and all was as quiet as the grave.

What to do next, the two boys did not know. If there were wild animals on the island, that might change matters very much, so far as they were concerned. They would have to keep on guard continually, and might even have to take some means of protecting themselves against attack.

“Do you suppose those beasts might be from the wreck of the Coryanda?” said Randy suddenly.

“It’s possible. That wreck might have come close enough for some of the animals to jump overboard and swim ashore. Or, the vessel may have struck the island and then gone to pieces and drifted away before we had a chance to see what happened.”

The boys discussed the situation and came to the conclusion that the best thing they could do would be to return to the camp and inform the others of what they had discovered.

“If there are any wild animals loose here, every[248] one of our crowd ought to know it,” said Jack. “And the quicker we get the information to them the better.”

He and Randy turned back and made their way once more along the base of the rocks. It was now about two o’clock in the afternoon, and they hoped to return to camp well before dark, which, in that portion of the globe, came on suddenly.

The two cousins had passed along less than fifty yards when suddenly Jack held up his hand.

“Look, Randy! Look!” he whispered.

Randy did as directed, and there a short distance ahead saw on a flat rock the form of a big lion. The monarch of the jungle stood out boldly. He was looking off into the brushwood and acted as if he were watching something.

“It’s a lion!”

“Exactly! And as they don’t have lions down here in the West Indies, it must be one of those from the Coryanda.”

“That’s right. What shall we do—fire at him?”

“I don’t think it would do much good—at least not from such a distance. If we got closer we might be able to wound him, even if we didn’t kill him.”

“Yes, but I don’t want to get closer, with nothing but a pistol to shoot with.”


“Neither do I. But what are we going to do? He’s right in the way of our getting back to the raft.”

Suddenly the boys saw the lion straighten up and get ready as if to make a leap into the brushwood below. Then they were startled as they heard a rustling in the jungle, and the next moment a full-sized goat leaped into the clearing just ahead of them. The animal was evidently full of fear, and knew not which way to turn.

“A goat!”

“Yes, and it’s one of those that were on board the steam yacht! Don’t you remember her? The one with the black spots on her neck? The one Andy said he’d like to try to milk?”

The goat saw the boys and, as if asking protection, leaped toward them. Then from the lion on the rock came a roar, and the next instant the big beast hurled himself into the brushwood in the direction of the goat.

“Gee, the goat is coming this way!”

“Yes, and the lion is after her—or else he’s after us!”

The two boys held ready their pistols, and as they did so they retreated to the vicinity of the rocks. They were backing up to these when suddenly the goat leaped around, saw the lion, and immediately made another leap and started[250] to scramble up the rocks within several yards of where the boys were now crouching.

The lion came tearing forward, and then he too bounded up on the lower rocks.

But hardly had he touched these when the goat made a mighty leap and went up out of his reach.

“Gee, I’m glad the goat got away,” muttered Randy.

He had scarcely spoken when the lion, evidently much disappointed, turned around on the rocks and the next instant caught sight of the two lads. Up went his mane and he let out a savage roar, and then hurled himself in their direction.



“He’s coming this way! Use your pistol, quick!”

Crack! Crack! Both of the pistols spoke up, and the lion was hit in the head and in the left foreleg. Then the two Rover boys fired again, this time at even closer range, one bullet piercing the beast’s ear and the other plowing through the skin of his back.

But nothing stopped the rush of the ferocious lion, and it was only by leaping to the rear of the nearest rock that Jack and Randy escaped the onslaught.

In the next few minutes so many things happened that it is almost impossible to describe them. The lion, with another roar and snarling from pain, came around the rocks just as the boys leaped up. Then, standing several feet above the beast, they fired once more. The lion retreated, got wedged in between a tree and a rock, and turned savagely, probably thinking in his excitement[252] that he had in some way been attacked from the rear.

“There’s a shelf just above us!” exclaimed Jack, glancing around for some means of escape. “Let’s get up there!”

Roar after roar came from the lion, the sound so terrifying it was enough to make anybody tremble. The goat was leaping from rock to rock, and now disappeared from sight. The shelf the young major mentioned was a rocky one about three feet above their heads. Over it grew a few vines, and Randy clutched these only to have them come away in his hands.

“Here, let me boost you up, Randy!” exclaimed Jack. “Quick! That lion may take it into his head to leap at us!”

“But what of you?”

“I’ll get up somehow! Hurry! We have no time to waste!”

In a few seconds Randy was boosted to the shelf. Looking around, he saw a place where he could dig in with his toes, and he promptly lay flat, extending his hands downward as he did so.

“Come on! I’ll help pull you up!” he gasped. “Hurry up! The lion is getting ready to jump.”

Thus assisted, the young major managed to scale the wall and reach the rocky shelf. He had[253] scarcely done so when the lion, crouching low, made a wild leap upward.

The distance the beast covered was fully fifteen feet, and both the Rover boys felt that he might have gained the rocky shelf had it not been for Randy’s quick action. Beside him lay a jagged stone half as big as his head. This he scooped up and launched at the beast when the lion was less than a yard away. The stone did little damage to the lion physically, but the attack was so unexpected that the forward movement of the king of the jungle was stopped, and he dropped down on the rocks from which he had come.

“Fire at him, Jack!” called out Randy. “Give him every bullet you’ve got!” And then both boys emptied their pistols into the beast as he stood there, evidently trying to make up his mind what next to do.

Some of the shots went wild, but two hit the lion squarely in the side, and now with roars of pain and fear the beast suddenly retreated and the next instant disappeared in the undergrowth on the edge of the jungle.

“He’s gone!”

“Maybe he’ll come back!”

“Let’s reload just as fast as we can.”

The last suggestion was a good one, and they[254] carried it out immediately. In the meanwhile, they kept their eyes on the jungle, but the lion did not show himself.

“Maybe he’s mortally wounded,” suggested Randy.

“I hope so,” answered his cousin. “But we can’t take any chances on such a big beast as that. Gee! when he leaped for this shelf, I was scared. I thought he was about ready to eat us up.”

“He’d have killed us both, Jack, if he could have gotten at us,” answered Randy, with a shudder.

The boys realized that they had been in great danger, and if they were exceedingly nervous, who could blame them? With reloaded pistols, they waited where they stood, straining their eyes and ears for any other movement the lion might make.

“And the worst of it is,” said Jack, “if that lion and that goat came ashore from the Coryanda, for all we know, all the other beasts, and maybe the snakes, came ashore too.”

“They could only do that if the steam yacht was completely wrecked so that the cages were broken open.”

“Well, those cages didn’t look very secure to[255] me. Don’t forget how that snake and that tiger got loose.”

“We’ve got to get back to camp somehow and warn the others. But I must confess I don’t feel much like going through that jungle to where we left the little raft.”

“Nor do I. I’d rather try to climb over the rocks and get to the bay, somehow or other, that way.”

The boys made an investigation and presently found a place at the end of the narrow shelf where two or three rough steps led upward. Neither of them wished to trust himself in the jungle, and so they kept on for over half an hour, climbing one rocky height after another in their endeavor to reach the bay without taking to the heavy growth to the westward.

“Hurrah! I see the ocean!” cried Randy, presently. “I think if we keep on in this direction we’ll soon get to a point where we can get down to the bay. But, of course, we’ll be quite a distance from where we left that raft.”

“Never mind. Maybe we can swim back to the raft,” answered Jack. He felt that anything would be better than facing such wild beasts as might now be roaming the otherwise deserted island.


It was hard work climbing over the rocks, which in many places were sharp and irregular.

“Look out that you don’t go down into some deep hole,” warned Jack. “You might get wedged so tight you’d never get out.”

“I suppose that goat got along easily enough. A goat loves to leap the rocks.”

“Yes, but we’re not goats. Come on! We want to get back before night.”

The boys moved forward, but the going was now more perilous than ever, and presently, having leaped to a spot that looked fairly easy to negotiate, they found further progress all but impossible.

“Looks like we were stuck, Randy,” said the young major, scratching his head.

“Oh, don’t say that, Jack! We don’t want to go back after coming all this distance!”

“Yes, but if we can’t go ahead we’ll have to go back.”

For ten minutes the two youths searched around, and then managed to find a split between two of the rocks and beyond this a rocky slope leading still farther upward.

“We might as well try this,” said Randy. “If it doesn’t lead to anywhere we can go back.”

The rocky slope ended in something of a plateau. The boys were now at one of the highest[257] points on the island and could see in almost all directions, the heavy jungle cutting off only a small part of the coast line in the southwest. To the north and the east, as well as the southeast, rolled the mighty Atlantic, flashing in the rays of the declining sun. To the eastward on the island were innumerable rocks, some of them fantastic in shape and forming a sort of bowl, the bottom of which was now shrouded in shadows.

“My gracious! this whole end of the island is nothing but rocks,” declared Randy.

“Look!” exclaimed Jack, pointing to the coast southward. “Unless I’m greatly mistaken there is the wreck of the Coryanda!”

“It’s the old steam yacht just as sure as you’re born!” answered his cousin.

“No wonder I didn’t see the wreck from the top of that palm tree,” went on the young major. “See how she’s wedged in between the rocks.”

“Yes, and it looks to me as if her backbone was broken, Jack. Anyway, she’s split bow and stern. No wonder the animals got loose. Smashing up on the rocks that way must have loosened everything.”

“Maybe most of the animals were killed by the shocks.”

“I hope they were.”


The two boys walked to a nearby rock in an endeavor to get a better view of the wreck, which was all of a quarter of a mile away.

“We’d have a hard job getting down to her, I’m thinking,” remarked Jack. “I don’t believe we’d ever be able to get over those rocks. We’d have either to sail around to the eastward, or otherwise make our way to the south shore and get to her from that point.”

“Well, I’m glad we located her, Jack; aren’t you?”

“To be sure I am, Randy. If we have to stay on this island any great length of time we’ll probably need everything we can get from the yacht. We didn’t have any great variety on the raft, remember, and we need some clothing as well as food.”

“And don’t forget that we want a flag to hoist upside down as a signal of distress.”

Having inspected the wreck as well as they could from such a distance, the boys began speculating on how they might get down from the rocks to the eastern shore of the little bay. They had to go forward with caution, because at every step the way seemed to become more perilous.

“I don’t believe any human being was ever on these rocks before,” was Randy’s comment.

“I guess you’re right,” answered Jack.[259] “What would bring a person up to such an out-of-the-way place, anyhow? There isn’t much to this island, and I don’t wonder the natives give it the go-by.”

The boys went a few yards farther, and then both leaped to a rock that seemed to be secure, but which was not. Under their combined weight it tilted unexpectedly, and they suddenly found themselves sliding they knew not to where.

“Grab hold!” yelled Jack, and did what he could to stop his progress, and Randy did likewise.

Down they went over one slippery rock after another, bringing up at last in a sort of pocket on the side of a cliff. Here they stood panting for breath and rubbing their shins and their elbows, which had been sadly scraped in the descent.

“Great Cæsar! I thought we were going down to kingdom come,” gasped Randy.

“Now we are in a pickle!” returned the young major. “How ever are we going to get out of this place?”

Jack began to look around, wondering what their next move might be. An instant later he let out an exclamation of astonishment.

“What is it, Jack?” queried his cousin, as he saw the young major pointing his finger and counting slowly to himself.


“Look there, Randy! Am I right, or am I only dreaming? Do you see these sharp-pointed rocks all around us? Well, just count them, will you?”

Catching what was in Jack’s mind, Randy began to count the huge circle of sharp-pointed rocks.

“Why, there are thirteen of them!” he burst out. “Oh, Jack! do you think——”

“That this is the place Ira Small has been talking about? Well, it certainly looks like it!”



The two boys gazed in awe at the circle of thirteen sharp-pointed rocks which arose majestically in a circle that was all of an eighth of a mile in diameter. There were other rocks on every side, but these stood out distinctly so that there was no mistaking them.

“If these are the thirteen rocks Small has been talking about, then that pirates’ treasure ought to be located in the center of this circle,” said Jack.

“And that would be somewhere down there,” added Randy, pointing with his finger to the rocks far below them. “Jack, do you really think there is a treasure here?”

“I don’t know, Randy. It may be only a fairy tale. Why should any pirates come to such a forsaken place as this to bury their treasure?”

“That’s just what I was thinking. It would be much easier for them to bury their gold close to where their ship landed. They would have an awful job getting to such a spot as this.”


“Perhaps there’s some secret way of getting from the shore to this place—some trail over and between the rocks of which we know nothing. Anyway, the thirteen rocks are here.”

“I wish we had seen those photographs the old sailor talked about. Then we’d know in a minute whether this was really the place or not.”

Had the rocks been less dangerous to climb, both of the boys would have tried to descend to the center of the rocky bowl in a quest of the pirates’ treasure. But they realized that it would be extremely dangerous to attempt to approach that place from where they stood, and so, rather regretfully, they turned their backs on the thirteen high-pointed rocks and continued their search for some means of reaching the little bay where they had left their raft.

“Gee, this is certainly some island to be on,” was Randy’s comment, as they moved forward slowly and cautiously, testing every foothold to make certain that it was secure. “Wild animals and a pirates’ treasure!”

“It would sound exciting to read about,” commented the young major. “Just the same, I’d like to be out of this mess, Randy.”

“So would I. And just think of the folks at home! How they must be worried about us!”


“Yes, but there is something even worse than that. Think of Ralph, Gif and Spouter.”

“I’m thinking about them every day, Jack. Life at Colby Hall won’t be the same with Gif and Spouter gone. And Ralph certainly was a fine fellow.”

It was growing dark when the two Rover boys at last reached a point where getting down to the eastern shore of the bay was comparatively easy. By this time they were all but exhausted from their efforts, and both resolved to break through a short bit of the jungle in an endeavor to reach the raft.

“Keep your pistol ready for use, Randy,” warned the young major, and then he moved forward with his firearm in one hand and the hatchet in the other.

Both boys were on edge, thinking that some wild animal might pounce out upon them at any instant. But nothing happened to disturb them, and a little later they reached the raft and, much relieved, sculled their way over to the other side of the bay, this time landing as close to the ocean and its sandy shore as possible.

“Hello! Hello!” came from out of the fast-gathering darkness, and a moment later in reply to their answering calls Fred appeared.


“I supposed you’d be getting anxious about us,” said Jack. “We certainly have had plenty of things happen to-day. We’ll tell you all about it when we get back to camp.”

Seated comfortably in camp and partaking of a substantial meal gotten ready by the other boys, Jack and Randy told first about the encounter with the lion.

“Gee, I hope you killed him!” cried Fred. “I don’t want to meet such a beast as that around here.”

“The lion must have come from the yacht,” put in Ira Small. “An’ if that’s so, then the ship must have come ashore on the island.”

“That’s just what she did,” answered Randy. “We saw the wreck lying between the rocks away off to the southeast.”

“Did you visit the ship?” questioned Andy, eagerly.

“No. We were too far away, and climbing over those rough rocks is no easy task.”

“And now we have something of more importance to tell,” said Jack. “That is, we hope it may prove of more importance. Small, I’d like to see those photographs of those thirteen rocks you’ve been talking about.”

“Jumping toadstools, Jack! you don’t mean to say that you’ve spotted those thirteen rocks?”[265] ejaculated Andy, and for a moment he stood straight up, forgetting all about his twisted ankle.

“We certainly did see thirteen rocks; great big ones, too, and all in a circle!” cried Randy, proudly. “Of course; they may not be the thirteen rocks Small has been talking about, but there were thirteen of them, and all in a circle, just as plain as the nose on your face!”

“Hurray! I knowed them rocks was on an island somewhere around here!” burst out the lanky sailor. “I been figgerin’ it out in my mind ever since we come ashore. Wait! Somebody give me a sharp pocketknife an’ I’ll cut them photygraphs loose so you kin see ’em.”

The two photographs were soon brought forth from the shirt pocket into which they had been sewn; and by the aid of the searchlight Jack and Randy examined them carefully.

“The same place!” exclaimed Randy. “Don’t you think so, Jack?”

“I certainly do!” was the ready reply. “Just look at that rock there and the one over here! Don’t you remember how this one had two points and that one had three?”

“Yes, and this one here was just a bit flatter than any of the others. Oh, it’s the same place! I’m sure of it!”

“Well, if it’s the same place, do you suppose the[266] pirates’ gold is there?” questioned Andy, quickly.

“I don’t know about that,” answered the young major. “The whole center of the circle seems to be formed like a huge bowl and is very rocky. We had no means of getting down to the middle of it. As it was, we slipped two or three times and nearly broke our necks.”

“The gold is there, I know it is!” came solemnly from Ira Small. “We’ll have to go on a hunt for it first chance we git.”

“Of course these pictures weren’t taken from anywhere near where we stood,” said Jack, after looking at the photographs a second time. “It looks to me as if they’d been taken from the north. And if that’s so, then there must be some way of getting down into the rocky bowl from that direction.”

“I’ve no idee how they got to the place,” said the lanky sailor. “There must be some kind of a path leadin’ from the shore. Mebby the pirates cast anchor outside of the keys an’ come ashore in small boats.”

Eagerly the four Rover boys and the old tar talked the matter over. For the time being they forgot completely about the wreck of the Coryanda and the wild beasts and snakes which might have come ashore. Presently, however, Jack reminded them of the peril.


“We’ve got to keep all our weapons handy and somebody will have to remain on guard after this,” he said. “We don’t want a couple of lions or tigers surprising us.”

“Yes, and we don’t want any big snakes crawling in to sleep with us,” put in Fred, with a shudder.

“Let’s keep the fire bright,” suggested Andy. “Wild beasts don’t like a blaze.”

“If we could only get to the wreck of the steam yacht, perhaps we’d be able to find some rifles,” said Jack. “Then I’d feel almost like going after those wild beasts. But I don’t care to do it with a shotgun or a pistol.”

They talked the matter over still further, and in the end made up a regular schedule so that each of the boys, as well as the old sailor, would take his turn at remaining on guard. Of course, the old tar could not do much in the way of moving around, but his eyes and his ears were as alert as any one’s, and that was all that was necessary.

The night, however, passed without incident, and morning found Jack and Randy much rested; and with daylight the alarm over the wild beasts subsided somewhat.

“I wish we had some sort of a boat,” said Jack, while eating breakfast. “Then we could skirt the island and visit the Coryanda, and also look for[268] some sort of path leading to that circle of rocks.”

“Why can’t we build a sort of scow out of the wreckage?” questioned Fred. “We’ve got plenty of boards and ropes, and I think we could get quite a lot of nails out of the stuff if we set to work to do it.”

As nothing else suggested itself, the boys surveyed all the wreckage they had brought ashore and finally concluded they might utilize a portion of it in building a sort of sharp-pointed scow. Then they set to work, Ira Small hobbling down the sandy shore to watch them.

It was no easy task to build the scow, and it was not until noon of the next day that the craft was ready for use. They had nailed it as tight as possible, but this was not saying much, and they relied mostly on the solid flooring with which the scow was furnished to keep them afloat.

“Now we’ll have to make some sort of sweeps for it and then we’ll be ready to set sail,” declared Fred.

All had become so interested in making the scow seaworthy, that, for the time being, the camp had been forgotten.

“I suppose it’s about time somebody got grub ready,” murmured Andy, presently. “Scow or no scow, I want my dinner.”

“Well, you go on back and start things,” returned[269] Jack. “Perhaps you’d better go with him, Fred. Randy and I can finish here. We’ll be along in a few minutes.”

Fred and Andy walked back in the direction of the camp with Ira Small hobbling after them. They had covered not more than half the distance when Andy gave a sudden cry.

“Look what’s going on in camp!” he exclaimed. “What in the world are those things, anyway?”

Fully two dozen small forms were moving rapidly in and around the camp. What was being done neither of the boys could surmise until suddenly Fred let out a yell of dismay.

“They’re monkeys! What do you know about that!”

“They must be the monkeys from the wrecked yacht,” answered his cousin. “And look! Do you see what they’re doing? They’re carrying off our things!”



Had it not been such a serious situation, the two Rover boys would have been inclined to laugh at what was happening. But they realized that the canned food and other things in the camp meant a great deal to them, and they did not intend that the monkeys should make away with the stuff.

“Get out of there! Scoot! Scat!” yelled Fred, running forward.

He was followed by his cousin, and in a moment more both boys found themselves in the midst of the simians. The monkeys chattered and squeaked in alarm, but none of them seemed to be inclined to retreat. Many of them had found something to eat, and the others were snooping around, doing their best to tear open packages or break open some of the canned goods.

“Get out of here!” yelled Fred. He had scarcely spoken when one of the monkeys dropped a can of beans on his toes and leaped upon the[271] youth’s left shoulder. “Hi! Get off of there!”

But instead of getting away, the monkey caught hold of Fred’s ear and held tight, shrieking and chattering loudly as he did so.

In the meanwhile two other monkeys leaped upon Andy, one on his shoulder and the other on his back, holding tight to the alarmed boy’s collar. The other simians ran back and forth, chattering most infernally. One had picked up a pan brought in from the wreckage, and this he banged upon any object that came to hand.


“For gracious’ sake! what’s that racket in camp?” exclaimed Jack, looking up suddenly.

“Hi! Hi! Come here! Some monkeys have attacked the two boys!” yelled Ira Small at the top of his lungs. And then, somewhat scared at the unexpected turn of affairs, the lanky sailor blazed away with a shotgun he was carrying.

The aim of the old tar was poor, and the shots scattered into the jungle back of the camp. But the noise had its effect, and in a twinkling all but two of the monkeys began to take their departure. But they did not go empty handed. With loose food, canned stuff and other things in their paws, they scrambled into the jungle, and, amid a wild chattering, disappeared.

“Monkeys, of all things!” burst out Randy,[272] rushing forward beside the young major. “Who ever thought they would come to attack us!”

“They’re probably hungry, just the same as that lion was,” answered Jack. “There they go!”

The two monkeys that remained were the ones that had clung fast to Fred’s ear and one of those which had fastened itself to Andy’s collar. These continued to chatter and squeak, but held fast as if seeking companionship and protection.

“Gee, do you know what I think?” declared Andy, suddenly. “This little beggar is tame. He isn’t half as wild as those others were.”

By this time the other monkey had let loose of Fred’s ear, and now sat perched on the lad’s hand, looking up into Fred’s face so comically that the youth was compelled to grin.

“If you’re going to be friendly, all right,” said the boy. “Just the same, you had me pretty well scared.” And then he stroked the monkey, and the frisky little animal seemed well content to nestle in the crook of his arm.

“I’ll wager that these two monkeys were pets of the people on board the steam yacht,” declared Jack, when the momentary excitement had come to an end and the party had made sure that all the other monkeys had disappeared. “If it wasn’t so, these fellows wouldn’t stay here a minute.”


“I guess you’re right,” answered Fred. “Just the same, what are we going to do with the two little beggars? We don’t want to feed them, and I’m certain that I don’t want to kill them.”

“We’ll have to feed them and then chase them back into the woods,” suggested Andy.

“You’ll have fine work chasin’ ’em away after you’ve fed ’em,” declared Ira Small, coming as close to grinning as the boys had ever seen. “Feed a monkey once, an’ you’ll have him around you forever. The only way to git rid of ’em is to douse ’em with cold water.”

“Oh, if they want to stay, let them,” answered Jack. “They’ll help us pass the time when we haven’t anything else to do.” The cuteness of the two little simians appealed to him, just as it did to all the other boys.

A little later, after the monkeys had been fed to their hearts’ content, the Rover boys tied them to nearby trees so that they might not get into further mischief.

It was not until the following morning that all started out in the clumsy scow, if such it might be called, to make the trip around the eastern end of the island to where the wreck of the Coryanda lay. On the way they thought they might land once or twice on the sandy beach below the rocks in an endeavor to find some passageway leading[274] to the spot where they thought the pirates’ gold might be hidden.

At first Jack and Randy had thought to take the trip, in company with Ira Small; but Fred and Andy had protested so vigorously that it was finally decided that all should go, even though the scow might be rather crowded.

The clumsy craft had been provided with four extra long sculls, or sweeps, and everybody, even to Andy, went barefooted, knowing that they might be standing in several inches of water most of the time. They carried their shoes in a water-tight canister, so that they might have these foot coverings whenever they landed. They also carried with them a supply of food, not knowing how long they would be away.

It was an ideal day for the trip. There was hardly any wind, and consequently the surf at the keys and along the beach had greatly subsided. They got afloat without much trouble, and then the old sailor took command, telling them how they might progress to the best advantage.

“Ain’t no need to go out any further than jest to keep from bein’ throwed up on them rocks,” he said, after they had passed the entrance to the little bay. “An’ every one keep his eyes peeled for anything that looks like an openin’.”

“Were there any marks leading to the treasure—I[275] mean anything in the way of a signboard?” questioned Randy of the lanky sailor.

“There was supposed to be a triangle,” answered Ira Small. “A triangle of three arrows. Them sailors said the triangle led to the circle.”

“Then, having found the circle, we’ll have to keep our eyes open for the triangle,” murmured the young major.

Slowly and not without some danger, they finally rounded the eastern point of the island. Although they had watched closely, no one had discovered any opening that might lead to the bowl of the thirteen rocks. Here and there they had discovered small bunches of brushwood and vines growing among the rocks, and had seen higher up innumerable nests of sea birds, but that was all.

“But the opening must be there—that is if the yarn about the treasure is true,” declared Jack.

“We’ll have to make a more careful search when we’re coming back,” said Fred.

“Perhaps the opening is behind some of those vines or bushes,” put in Andy.

Having rounded the eastern end of the island, it did not take them long to reach the vicinity of the spot where the Coryanda had been cast up among the rocks. Here were innumerable little keys, and Ira Small rightfully guessed that it[276] was only the force of the hurricane that had driven the water-logged steam yacht in so far and with such dire results.

“She’s busted clean an’ clear,” was the lanky sailor’s comment. “Busted, lengthwise an’ sidewise. They won’t never be able to do a thing with her. She’s gone forever.”

“We’ll have to go slow about going aboard,” said Jack. “No more wild beasts for me!”

“Or snakes, either,” added Fred.

They had brought along the shotguns and pistols, and had seen to it that every weapon was fully loaded. Now, as they came up beside the rocks on which the Coryanda rested, Jack told Fred and Andy to remain at the sweeps while he and Randy and the old sailor held their weapons ready for use should the occasion require.

But all seemed calm and peaceful in the vicinity of the wreck, and, gaining courage, the whole party presently landed, made fast, and mounted to the deck of the old steam yacht at a point close to the cabin.

A glance around showed them that everything was in the wildest disorder. Evidently the water-logged yacht, driven by the hurricane, had pounded on the rocks time and again before some extra large wave had cast her up and broken her into practically four pieces, two forward and two[277] aft. Hatchways and the runway for the animals were wide open, and in one spot they could look down an opening to the very keel of the vessel.

“Be careful how you move around,” warned Randy. “Otherwise, somebody may slip through one of those openings and break his neck.”

On account of the condition of the steam yacht, and because there might still be some of the wild beasts or snakes present, they moved around the wreck with great caution. Thus an hour or more passed. They found a sheep and a little deer, both wedged in the wreckage and dead.

“The animals and the snakes seem to be gone,” declared Jack, at last. “And all of the monkeys have gone, too, and also the parrots. About all that are left are a few of the small birds, and I guess we might as well give them their liberty.” And this was done.

When the noon hour was reached all were tired and hungry and glad enough to sit down on the deck and eat a portion of the food they had brought along. As they did this they talked over the situation.

“There are plenty of stores here, and most of the stuff seems to be in good condition,” remarked Jack. “So, no matter what else happens, we’re not liable to starve to death.”

“I suppose we could stay on board if we wanted[278] to?” suggested Fred. “It might be safer to sleep in the cabin here, even in its partly wrecked condition, than to bunk out on the beach with those wild animals at large.”

“Oh, I don’t want to stay all the time,” put in Randy. “We can’t stretch our legs here. Besides, it might be dangerous if another hurricane struck us. I saw some rifles on board, and if we arm ourselves with those, I’d rather be back in the vicinity of the old camp.”

“Well, whatever the crowd want to do——” began Jack, and then came to a sudden stop. A distant humming had reached his ears, and this humming steadily increased in volume.

“What do you suppose that is?” questioned Andy, looking at Jack curiously. He, too, had noticed the humming.

“Sounds like an aeroplane motor,” was the quick reply. “Hear how loud it’s getting!”

“There it is!” shouted Randy, pointing skyward. “It’s an aeroplane as sure as you’re born!”

“Yes, and it’s heading this way!” cried Fred.



For several seconds all those on the deck of the wrecked steam yacht watched the on-coming flying machine with intense interest. Then Randy uttered a sudden exclamation.

“The flag! Let’s put it out upside down for a distress signal!”

“Yes, and let’s make some smoke! We can do it with some wet papers,” put in Fred.

While Fred and Andy got ready the smoke signal, Randy and the young major rushed to where they had found the flags belonging to the wrecked vessel. As quickly as possible they selected the biggest Old Glory on board and brought it out on the deck.

“How kin you raise it?” questioned Ira Small. “There ain’t no masts.”

“We’ll tie it to a pole and hold it up from the top of the cabin,” answered Jack, hurriedly.

In all haste the flag was fastened to a pole the boys had noticed some time before and[280] then raised to the top of the cabin, where Randy and Jack waved it frantically at the on-coming ’plane. A few minutes later the flying machine was almost directly overhead. It was of fair size and contained two occupants.

“It’s a hydroplane!” exclaimed Fred. “See the pontoons under it?”

“I hope she lands,” murmured Andy.

“I don’t believe they can land on the ocean very well,” said Jack. “But they might land in that bay on the north shore.”

Eagerly the whole party watched the movements of the hydroplane. It seemed to be passing them by when it slowly turned in a wide circle to the eastward. Then it came along over the wreck once more.

“They’re dropping something!” cried Jack. “Here it comes!”

A white object about as big as a man’s head came dropping down from the hydroplane. It was evidently of light weight, for its descent was not rapid and the wind carried it from over the stern of the wreck to a point just beyond the bow. Then the hydroplane sailed on.

“I’ll bet it’s a message of some sort!” burst out Randy, and he and Fred scrambled over the side of the yacht and on to the rocks where the object lay. They found it was made of paper,[281] tied lightly with a string, and to it was attached a bit of cardboard on which was written:

“Wreck and distress signals seen. Cannot land. Will notify U. S. Government without delay. Can you hold out forty-eight hours? If so, turn flag.


“Hurrah for Jackson and Borderwell, whoever they may be!” cried Jack, happily. “Come on! Let’s turn the flag right side up!” and this was quickly done.

Again the hydroplane made a turn, this time wider than before. Then the flying machine passed over the wreck at a lower level, and they could see the two aviators peering anxiously down at them. They waved the flag in delight and Andy and Randy threw kisses to show that everything was all right. Then they saw each of the aviators wave their arms in return. A few seconds later the hydroplane passed southward once more.

“I’ll bet she’s bound for Porto Rico!” cried Jack, and in this surmise he was correct.

“If only we could have sent word to the folks that we’re safe!” sighed Fred.


But even with this drawback, the boys felt tremendously relieved, and had it not been for his twisted ankle Andy would have danced a jig of joy. Their situation would soon be known to the outside world, and they were certain that relief would not be slow in coming.

“Forty-eight hours won’t be so long to wait,” said Randy. “Why, that’s only two days!”

“That will give us time to hunt for the pirates’ gold!” exclaimed the lanky sailor. “I wish my leg was better. I’d climb over them stones somehow or other and git to the middle of the circle of the thirteen rocks.”

“Now that we know that help is coming, we can spend all our time in trying to locate the gold,” said Randy. “Why not take another trip along the base of the rocks in the scow? We can post a notice here telling where we’ve gone, so that if any one arrives they’ll wait for us.”

They finished their interrupted meal and then decided to make another tour in the scow without delay. It was very calm, the wind having gone down completely, so they felt they could approach quite close to the cliffs without much danger of another wreck.

For fully two hours the party of five moved slowly along the rocky shore, inspecting every foot of the way for some hidden trail by which they[283] might get to the bowl encircled by the thirteen rocks.

“There might be an opening behind that bunch of vines,” remarked Andy, presently. “It looks as if there were some sort of opening there.”

They had brought with them several long-handled boathooks, and by means of these they managed to make a landing on the rocks, and Randy and Fred climbed to the point where the vines mentioned were growing. Here they found an opening several yards in depth, inhabited by numerous sea birds that flocked forth in much astonishment.

“There is an opening,” shouted Randy, after throwing the rays of the searchlight around, “but it doesn’t lead to anything. It’s just a blind pocket.”

After this the search was continued for another hour, and the boys visited two other places along the rocky barrier. One was thickly matted with vines, and here they found the foothold very uncertain, and Jack and Fred, who were doing the climbing, came close to tumbling down into the ocean.

“Doesn’t look as if there was any sort of an opening around here,” came dolefully from Andy. He was sorry that he could not do some of the climbing himself, but he knew that he[284] had to take care of his hurt ankle or that member might become so bad that he could not use it at all.

“We won’t give up yit!” cried Ira Small. “I’m goin’ to git down in that circle of rocks if I’ve got to stay behind on the island all alone!”

“Oh, we wouldn’t dream of going off without you, Small,” answered Randy, quickly.

“Well, I ain’t goin’ to leave till I’ve made a search,” answered the old tar, stubbornly. “That thing’s been in my mind fur five years, an’ I ain’t goin’ to give up now when I know where them rocks are located.”

“Maybe we’ll have to get an airship in which to get down into the bowl,” said Andy, making a wry face.

Again they went on, and now they were less than an eighth of a mile from where the rocky wall came to an end and the jungle took its place, leading, a short distance farther along, to the entrance to the little bay which Jack and Randy had navigated on the raft.

“What a lot of birds,” remarked Jack, as they went along close to the rocky cliff. “I never saw so many in my life.”

“It would be easy to get enough for a bird pot-pie—if a fellow wanted it,” added Andy, with a grin. Then, however, the fun-loving Rover shut[285] his mouth tightly and began to rub his hurt ankle.

“Hurt very much, Andy?” asked Fred, kindly.

“It starts up every once in a while,” was the answer. “I don’t notice it, and then of a sudden it seems to go right back on me.”

“You’ll have to see a doctor—just as soon as we can get to where there is one,” put in his brother.

“I suppose so. But I’ll wait till we get home first.”

As they moved along both the boys and the lanky sailor kept their eyes on all the flat rocks which were passed. Presently Fred saw what he took to be the picture of an arrow carved on one of the rocks, and he pointed this out to the others. Close to the arrow grew some trailing vines from a small opening just above.

“Gee, that does look like an arrow!” cried Andy, with interest.

“Yes. But there were to be three arrows forming a triangle,” remarked his twin.

Curious to know if the mark was really meant for an arrow, they sculled the scow in closer to the rocks and then pulled the vines aside with one of the long boathooks.

“There are the three arrows, just as plain as day!” burst out Jack.


He was right. There, on the face of a large upright rock, the representation of three arrows had been cut. Each arrow was about two feet in length, the bottom one horizontal and the others running down to a base probably four feet long.

“It’s a triangle, all right enough! A triangle with the three angles left open!” ejaculated Randy.

“Yes, but where is the opening?” came quickly from Ira Small. He was as much excited as any of the boys.

“It must be up behind those vines!” cried Fred.

It was no easy task to get up the side of the smooth rock, and had it not been for the substantial boathooks they carried and the support of some of the vines, they would have been unable to make it. However, Jack and Randy managed finally to reach the opening and speedily began an investigation. But this amounted to nothing. The opening was very irregular, and all the passages leading from it went up instead of down.

“How are you making out?” shouted Andy, impatiently.

“Nothing doing up here, as far as I can see,” announced Jack.

“Maybe there’s some sort of a secret trapdoor,” suggested Fred, hopefully.


For over a quarter of an hour Randy and Jack continued their investigations of the little opening just above the triangle of arrows. Then they came to the edge of the hole and looked down blankly at those on the scow.

“It’s no use,” said Randy, disconsolately. “If there’s any passageway here, we can’t find it.”

While the search was in progress, those on the scow had had no easy time of it to keep the craft from becoming damaged on the rocks. Now, as an extra large wave rolled in from the ocean, Fred used one of the boathooks as a fender. But the hook on the end of the pole slipped down, and the next instant boy and pole disappeared from view into the ocean at the base of the rocky cliff!



“Fred’s gone!”

“Push the scow back! Otherwise he’ll be smashed!”

Such were the excited exclamations as the youngest Rover boy disappeared over the front end of the clumsy scow which was now being turned sideways by the force of the waves.

All expected the boy to reappear, and they waited anxiously for several seconds. Then, as he failed to show himself, their anxiety turned to alarm.

“Where is he? Where did he go?” gasped Jack, peering down from the opening above.

“I don’t know,” answered Andy. “He was pushing on the boathook and it slipped and he and the pole went down into the water.”

“What do you suppose is keeping him down?” questioned Randy, who was also peering anxiously from the opening above.

“Don’t ask me,” answered his twin. “Gee, this is fierce!”


“He was sucked under!” spluttered Ira Small, excitedly. “Sucked under! There must be some kind of a hole under them rocks!”

“If he’s in a hole, we’ve got to get him out,” returned Jack, and regardless of the danger, he leaped down into the water beside the scow and then climbed on board.

Randy quickly followed him. Then the searchlight was played upon the water where the youngest of the Rover boys had so mysteriously disappeared.

“I see the hole in the rocks!” cried Jack, an instant later. “It’s less than two feet under water. Here! Give me that rope. You fellows pull in when I give a jerk. I’ll try to find him.”

In a twinkling the young major fastened one end of the rope he had indicated around his body under his arms. Then, without further ado, he leaped into the ocean. Another wave was coming in, and this swept him down under the rocks exactly as it had swept Fred. The young major felt himself hurled forward, and then, of a sudden, his feet struck some sloping sand. He pushed his way onward and presently found himself standing up in water less than a foot deep and in almost total darkness.

“Fred! Fred!” he called out, as soon as he could speak.


“Who is that?” was the quick response, and the next moment his cousin stood beside him. He was panting for breath.

“I’ve found the opening,” spluttered the youngest Rover. “But I didn’t do it in the way I supposed.”

“Are you hurt?”

“Not in the least, Jack. But I don’t know how I’m going to get back—or how you’re going to get back, either,” went on Fred. And just then another wave came rushing in on the pair, coming up to their waists and then receding.

“I’m fast to a rope. You catch hold of me and we’ll both get out, I think, without a great deal of trouble.”

“This must be the passageway, Jack.”

“Perhaps. But just now we’d better return to the scow. The others are all afraid you were drowned.”

With Fred holding to the rope, they waited until another wave was coming in and then jerked upon the line. Then, as the wave receded, they rushed along with it, protecting themselves as much as possible from such rocks as might be over their heads. They felt the line tighten, and in a few seconds more came out into the daylight and were hauled close to the scow.



“Gee, but I’m glad you’re all right!”

Such were the cries from Andy and Randy as the youngest Rover boy and the young major crawled aboard the scow. They were somewhat winded, and it was half a minute before they recovered sufficiently to tell of what they had seen.

“That must be the passageway!” cried Ira Small excitedly. “Mebby you kin git in it with a rowboat when the tide is low. Anyway, I think we ought to investigate.”

The boys thought so, too, and they calculated that the water would be at its lowest about three hours later.

“It will be dark by that time,” was Andy’s comment.

“I don’t care,” answered Jack. “I’m going to see what sort of place that is before I leave this island.”

“I think we can get in and out of that hole without a rope,” said Fred. “I mean while the water covers it. Just the same, it might be a good thing to fasten a line out here on the rocks and then carry it inside. Then a fellow could haul himself out if he had to.”

This suggestion was thought a good one, and in the end a heavy hawser was fastened on the rocks and then carried by Jack and Fred through the opening under water. Then, while the water[292] was gradually going down, the others fastened the scow as best they could, and also entered the watery passageway under the cliff.

It was not such a hazardous thing to do, nor so terrifying, when they understood just how the opening was located. All reached the sandy beach under the cliff without mishap. They carried the searchlight, which was of the water-tight variety, and with the aid of this soon made their way under the base of the cliff to where there was a fair-sized opening on the inner side.

“Here we are!” exclaimed Jack, in delight. “That must be the passageway, beyond a doubt!”

Once in the open, they saw that the irregular bowl encircled by the thirteen pointed rocks was just ahead of them. The path was rough, but well defined, and they had little trouble in following it.

“Gee! what a desolate place this is,” remarked Andy, as they pushed along.

He had good reason for making that remark. On every side of them were the bare rocks, lying in all sorts of fantastic shapes. Here and there were a few stunted bushes and trailing vines. There was nothing in the way of a jungle; not a tree showed itself; nor were there any indications of water.


“This is what I call stony lonely and no mistake,” was the way Fred expressed himself.

At last they reached a point almost at the bottom of the rocky bowl. Now they could gaze around them and see the thirteen rocky points quite plainly.

“It’s them thirteen rocks, and no mistake!” said Ira Small, with satisfaction. “An’ we found the triangle, too! So that pirates’ gold must be somewheres close at hand.”

“Unless some one else has been here before us and taken it away,” answered Jack. “Don’t be too much disappointed if we find it gone. These pirate treasures have been hunted for years by thousands of treasure seekers.”

“Well, I’m goin’ to make certain if it’s here or not before I leave this island!” answered the lanky sailor, determinedly.

It was now growing dark, the setting sun casting long and grotesque shadows across the hollow where they were traveling. Soon night came on, just at a time when they were trying to decide where the center of the jagged bowl might be.

“We’ll probably have to stay here all night,” said Jack. “I don’t believe we can do much in the darkness.”

“Oh, come on! Let’s do what we can,” cried Andy, eagerly. He was so excited that for the[294] time being he had almost forgotten his hurt ankle.

The other boys were equally interested, and it must be confessed that the lanky sailor was as wild as any of them. He, too, had forgotten all about his injured leg, and he strode on over the rocks, looking in every direction for some sign that might indicate where the pirates’ gold was hidden.

It was now so dark that they had only the searchlight to guide them, and this seemed to be growing dimmer.

“I suppose the battery is giving out,” said Jack, and then the thought occurred to each of them: What would they do if the flashlight failed? They would then be left in utter darkness, and even though they carried matches in a waterproof box there was nothing at hand with which to build a fire.

They stumbled along for a hundred feet or more over the rough rocks, and then Fred gave a sudden cry:

“Look there! Can that be the place?”

All gazed at the spot pointed out, at the same time centering the rays from the fast-fading flashlight on the place. They saw a curious mound of stones, evidently built up by hand. The stones averaged the size of bricks, and arose in a pyramid to the height of several feet.


“That’s it! That’s it!” yelled Ira Small, excitedly. “That’s the place! I remember one of them sailors said there was stones heaped on the flat rock like the pyramids of Egypt, only, o’ course, not so high!”

“Well, that heap was certainly placed there by hand and not by nature,” answered Jack. “Come on, let’s throw the stones aside and see what is under the pile!”

All set to work, including the lanky sailor, and it may well be believed that the stones composing the pyramid were quickly scattered in all directions. At the bottom, they came upon a flat rock resting upon four other rocks which evidently had an opening between them.

“Some rock!” said Jack, as he surveyed it. “We’ll have our own trouble moving it, I’m afraid.”

The searchlight was placed a few feet away, and the boys and the sailor set to work to move the heavy flat stone which rested on the four others. At first they could not budge the stone, but finally they brought it up on one edge and let it fall over on the other side. Underneath, in a square hollow, they saw more small stones, evidently packed in by hand and tamped down. They had a job removing two or three of these, but then the others came up easily.


“Hello! Here’s a handle of some sort!” exclaimed Randy, feverishly. “I believe it’s the handle of a box!”

All saw the handle, which was about five inches long and so rusted and mildewed they could not make out of what material it was composed. Jack and Randy, aided by the old tar, pulled upon it with might and main and presently brought to light a small chest evidently of iron, brass, or some hard wood—what, they could not determine for at that instant the rays of the flashlight died away, leaving them in total darkness.

“It’s a chest!”

“I wonder if the pirates’ gold is in it!”

“Oh, gee! why did that light have to go out just now?” grumbled Andy, impatiently.

“Make a light, somebody. We’ve got to find out what this thing is!” said Fred.

Jack was already bringing forth the waterproof match-box, and now he struck one of the matches and held it over the chest. It was so covered with mildew and other evidences of age that he could hardly make out which was the front and which the back of the receptacle.

“Oh, if we only had a torch or something to make a fire with!” moaned Andy.

“Wait! I’ve got something!” exclaimed Ira Small, suddenly, and, diving down into a pocket[297] of his jacket, he brought forth a bit of candle not over two inches in length.

“Picked it up on the yacht,” he explained. “Thought it might come in handy some time.”

The bit of candle was lit, and then all looked down the hole to see if anything further might be there. But only the solid rock met their gaze.

“Smash it open, boys! Smash it open!” went on the lanky sailor, still as excited as ever. “We want to see what the box contains before that candle is burnt up—an’ it won’t last very long.”

They found a small lock on the box, much rusted and without a key. With rocks they finally succeeded in smashing the lock. Then they pried back the lid of the box. A sheet of what had once evidently been perfectly good leather met their gaze. The sailor thrust this aside and then dove both hands into the box, bringing up a mass of old and much tarnished coins.

“Pirates’ gold!” he exclaimed, excitedly. “Doubloons! Hundreds of them! We’ve got the pirates’ gold at last!”



“Look at the gold!”

“I wonder what it’s worth?”

“Those sailors told the truth, after all!”

Such were some of the exclamations made by the Rover boys as they gazed at the contents of the chest pulled out of the rocky hole before them.

But if they were excited, Ira Small was more so, and for a few minutes the boys thought the old tar would go crazy. Again and again he dove his hands into the chest, to bring up the coins and let them fall back with a merry clink.

“I knowed we’d find it!” he cried. “Now I’ll be a rich man fur life!” And then he added quickly to the boys: “But you’re to have your share of it, lads. One-half of whatever is here goes to Jack an’ the rest of you.”

They were still looking over the coins in the chest when the bit of candle spluttered up and went out.


“Never mind! I don’t care how dark it is now,” said Andy. “We’ve found the treasure, and that’s enough.”

“We’ll have to stay here all night,” returned Jack. “We’ll never be able to find our way out in the darkness.”

“What do we care?” put in Randy, lightly. “I don’t believe any wild animals are going to bother us in this out-of-the-way hole. Those pirates certainly buried their gold in a spot where it was hard to find,” he added.

Sitting around in the darkness, the boys and the old sailor discussed the situation from every possible angle. They could make only a wild estimate of what the contents of the chest was worth, but knew it would run into many thousands of dollars.

Their exertions that day had worn them out completely, and presently all were glad to make themselves as comfortable as possible on the rocks and go to sleep. They set no guard, and such a precaution would have been unnecessary, for no wild animals came to disturb them.

In the morning they took another look at the contents of the chest, and then, while it was still early daylight, set out for the passageway under the cliff. It took them two hours to clamber to this place and two hours more to get out to the[300] clumsy scow and rig up a hawser so that they could haul the chest on board.

“Now we’ve got it we don’t want to lose it,” said Ira Small anxiously, and so the ancient box was handled with care.

Once aboard the clumsy scow, they set out upon the return to the wrecked steam yacht.

“We’ll certainly have a story to tell when we get home,” said Fred to his cousins. “Do you know, I had half a notion that that story about pirates’ gold was a fairy yarn.”

“So did I, Fred,” said Randy. “But, of course, it’s well known that pirates did bury their treasures around the West Indies.”

Once aboard the wreck, the boys and the old sailor washed and brushed up the best they could, and then prepared for themselves a much-needed meal. After this they sat down to look over the contents of the chest more carefully and to wait as patiently as possible for those who might come to their rescue.

“These are Spanish doubloons all right enough,” said Jack. “But what they’re worth, I don’t know.”

“Yes, but they’re not all doubloons,” answered Randy. “Some of these coins seem to be copper.”

“Well, it’s quite a find, anyhow, Randy.”

“Oh, I agree with you on that!”


On the afternoon of the next day a vessel hove in sight which proved to be an auxiliary cruiser of the United States Navy. Again the boys and the old tar set up their signal of distress, and soon a small boat containing a couple of officers and a number of men reached the wreck.

“Hurrah! Hurrah!” shouted Andy, as they came up. “Now we’re safe!”

“What vessel is this?” asked one of the officers, as soon as he had found out who the party were; and when told he said that the Coryanda had been reported water-logged and about to sink two weeks before.

“She belongs to two scientists from Baltimore,” he said. “They had a valuable collection of wild animals, snakes and birds on board.”

“So they did!” answered Jack. “And, believe me, we had some fun with those creatures! A few of them are dead, and the rest of them were either drowned or escaped to this island.” And then he and his cousins and the old tar told their story.

“Did those two men, Jackson and Borderwell, who were in the hydroplane and flew over the wreck, notify you?” questioned Jack, curiously.

“They did,” answered the leading officer. “They were sent out on a scouting expedition,” he explained. “After such storms as we have[302] had lately we often find wrecks floating around in this vicinity.”

“Well, those men certainly deserve our thanks,” put in Randy, and the other boys and Ira Small agreed with him.

Many of the things of value on the wreck were taken to the cruiser, and then the boys and the old tar went on board. The cruiser was from Porto Rico, but was bound for Norfolk, for which the boys were thankful.

“Well, it’s good-bye to the island!” cried Jack, as they steamed away.

“Yes, and good-bye to whatever of the wild animals and snakes are left!”

“Gee! what of the monkeys we left tied up?” questioned Jack, suddenly.

“They’re not tied up,” answered Andy. “I didn’t have the heart to do it, so I cut them loose when we were leaving camp.”

The auxiliary cruiser was, of course, supplied with radio, and the lads lost no time in sending a message to their parents. A few hours later came a return message, relayed from New York City, stating that the fathers of the four boys were on the way to meet them as soon as they landed at Norfolk.

It can well be imagined how impatient the boys were to reach home. Yet every time they thought[303] of joining their parents and Mary and Martha a tinge of sadness crept into their minds.

“Poor Ralph, Gif and Spouter!” murmured Jack. “How we shall miss them!”

When at last Norfolk was reached, the boys could hardly wait to get ashore. There were their fathers ready to greet them, and my readers can rest assured that all received the warmest kind of welcome.

“We were hoping against hope when your message came,” declared Dick Rover. “We thought the motor boat had been lost with all on board.”

“We’ve been watching all the shipping reports for days,” added Tom Rover. “We knew there had been some terrible storms, and the papers have reported half a dozen wrecks. We were sure no motor boat could live in such weather.”

“Well, we’ve got bad news,” said Randy, sorrowfully. “Spouter, Gif and Ralph——”

“Are all safe!” burst in Sam Rover.

“Safe!” came simultaneously from the four Rover boys.

“Yes, safe! We got a message from them only yesterday. They were picked up by a vessel bound for Spain, and they are now on their way home.”

“Hurrah! This is the best yet!” cried Andy,[304] and tried to do a jig in spite of his hurt ankle. Later on the poor fellow had to go to a hospital to have the ankle readjusted. But the operation was not a severe one, and soon his ankle was as well as ever.

The old sailor went home with the boys and was warmly thanked for all the assistance he had given the lads during their perilous days on the ocean and on the island.

The contents of the pirates’ chest was gone over carefully, and then Dick Rover advised that a well known numismatist be called in.

“What in the world is a numismicks?” demanded Ira Small, and when he was told what was meant, he agreed at once that what Dick Rover had suggested be done.

The numismatist went over all of the coins carefully and declared many of them valuable, not only intrinsically, but on account of their age and rarity. He took charge of the whole affair, and in the end the treasure brought in twenty-four thousand dollars.

“An’ half of it goes to the boys. I won’t have it no other way,” declared the lanky sailor. And so each of the boys was able to place three thousand dollars to his own bank account.

“Well, we certainly had great times on that trip!” declared Randy. “I don’t suppose we’ll[305] ever have such strenuous times again.” But Randy could not look into the future. Strenuous days were still to come for the boys, and what some of them were will be related in another volume, to be entitled “The Rover Boys on Sunset Trail; or, The Old Miner’s Mysterious Message.”

It was not until later that the boys learned that the two scientists from Baltimore who owned the Coryanda had been saved along with all but two of those who had been aboard the ill-fated steam yacht. About the Hildegarde they heard nothing for many months, but one day Ira Small turned up with the information that the rum-runner had been lost in the hurricane and not a soul had been saved.

“Oh, Jack, I’m so glad you got back safe and sound,” said Ruth Stevenson, when she met the young major. “You can’t imagine how worried all of us were!”

“Well, I’m mighty glad to be back, Ruth,” he answered. “We’re all glad to be back. It was no fun being cast away on the ocean on that bit of wreckage and then to get on a water-logged yacht that had a lot of wild animals and snakes aboard.”

“What are they going to do about those wild animals and snakes?” questioned Martha.


“I don’t know and I don’t care,” answered her brother. “One such experience was enough for me.”

“I guess it was enough for all of us,” put in Randy.

“Well, I wouldn’t mind having that little monkey back,” came from Andy. “But as for the rest of the beasts—not for me!”

“Hurrah! Here’s a letter from Ralph, Spouter and Gif!” cried Fred, bursting in upon his cousins. “They’re coming back to America just as fast as a steamer can bring them.”

And now, while the Rover boys are reading the letter from their chums, we will say good-bye.


This Isn’t All!

Would you like to know what became of the good friends you have made in this book?

Would you like to read other stories continuing their adventures and experiences, or other books quite as entertaining by the same author?

On the reverse side of the wrapper which comes with this book, you will find a wonderful list of stories which you can buy at the same store where you got this book.

Don’t throw away the Wrapper

Use it as a handy catalog of the books you want some day to have. But in case you do mislay it, write to the Publishers for a complete catalog.



Author of “The Don Sturdy Series.”

Every boy possesses some form of inventive genius. Tom Swift is a bright, ingenious boy and his inventions and adventures make the most interesting kind of reading.




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Illustrated. Each Volume Complete in Itself.

No subject has so thoroughly caught the imagination of young America as aviation. This series has been inspired by recent daring feats of the air, and is dedicated to Lindbergh, Byrd, Chamberlin and other heroes of the skies.



For Every Sport Season


Here’s an author who knows his sports from having played them. Baseball, football, basketball, ice hockey, tennis, track—they’re all the same to Harold M. Sherman. He puts the most thrilling moments of these sports into his tales. Mr. Sherman is today’s most popular writer of sport stories—all of which are crowded with action, suspense and clean, vigorous fun.

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The author of this series of exciting flying stories is an experienced aviator. He says, “During my five years in the army I performed nearly every sort of flying duty—instructor, test pilot, bombing, photographing pilot, etc., in every variety of ship, from tiny scout planes to the gigantic three-motored Italian Caproni.”

Not only has this author had many experiences as a flyer; a list of his activities while knocking around the country includes postal clerk, hobo, actor, writer, mutton chop salesman, preacher, roughneck in the oil fields, newspaper man, flyer, scenario writer in Hollywood and synthetic clown with the Sells Floto Circus. Having lived an active, daring life, and possessing a gift for good story telling, he is well qualified to write these adventures of a red-blooded dare-devil young American who became one of the country’s greatest flyers.




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Thrilling tales of the great west, told primarily for boys but which will be read by all who love mystery, rapid action, and adventures in the great open spaces.

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The cowboys of the X Bar X Ranch are real cowboys, on the job when required, but full of fun and daring—a bunch any reader will be delighted to know.





Illustrated. Every Volume Complete in Itself.

Mr. Adams, the author of this flying series for boys is an experienced aviator and has had many thrilling adventures in the air—both as a member of the famous Lafayette Escadrille in the World War and in the United States Naval Aviation Service flying with the squadrons patrolling the Atlantic Coast. His stories reveal not only his ability to tell daring and exciting air episodes but also his first hand knowledge of modern aeroplanes and the marvelous technical improvements which have been made in the past few years. Andy Lane flies the latest and most highly developed machines in the field of aviation.


Transcriber’s Notes:

A List of Illustrations has been provided for the convenience of the reader.

Printer’s, punctuation and spelling inaccuracies were silently corrected.

Archaic and variable spelling has been preserved.

Variations in hyphenation and compound words have been preserved.

Updated editions will replace the previous one—the old editions will be renamed.
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