“Another good old yell,” proposed Darrin.
It was given with a lusty will, but proved as fruitless as the former one.
“We don’t take the last launch back to ship,” declared Farley, wild with rage.
“Which means a long string of demerits,” said Dan.
“No shore leave to-morrow, either,” groaned Darrin. “Fellows, this mishap will affect our shore leave throughout all the cruise.”
“We can explain it,” suggested Farley with a hopefulness that he did not feel at all.
“Of course we can,” jeered Dave Darrin. “But what officer is fool enough to believe such a cock-and-bull story as this one will seem? At the very least, the commandant would believe that we had been playing some pretty stiff prank ourselves, in order to get treated in this fashion. No, no, fellows! We may just as well undeceive ourselves, and prepare to take the full soaking of discipline that we’re bound to get. If we attempted this sort of explanation, we’d be lucky indeed to get through the affair without being tried by general court-martial for lying.”
“Drake’s anchor, indeed!” exclaimed Dan in deep self disgust.
“We ought to have known better,” grunted Farley, equally enraged with himself. “What on earth made us so absent-minded as to believe that a priceless relic would be kept in an old shed like this?”
“We’re sure enough idiots!” groaned Dan.
“Hold on there, fellows,” interrupted Dave Darrin. “Vent all your anger right on me. I’m the great and only cause of this misfortune. It was I who proposed that we take up that cockney’s invitation. I’m the real and only offender against decent good sense, and yet you both have to suffer with me.”
“Let’s give another yell, bigger than before,” suggested Dan weakly.
They did, but with no better result than before.
“The launches are away now, anyway, I guess,” groaned Farley, after consulting his watch.
“Yes, and we’re up the tree with the commandant,” grunted Dalzell bitterly.
“Yell again?” asked Farley.
“No,” retorted Dave, shaking his head. “We’ve seen the uselessness of asking help from outside. Let’s supply our own help. Now, then—altogether! Shoulder the door!”
A savage assault they hurled upon the door. But they merely caused it to vibrate.
“We can’t do it,” gasped Dan, after the third trial.
Considerable daylight filtered in through the cracks at top, bottom and one side of the door. Further back in the shed there was less light.
“Let’s explore this old place in search of hope,” begged Dave.
Together they started back, looking about keenly in what appeared to be an empty room.
“Say! Look at that!” cried Dave suddenly.
He pointed to a solid looking, not very heavy ship’s spar.
“What good will that thing do us?” asked Farley rather dubiously.