“I don’t believe it,” Dave answered promptly. “Once we get him back aboard ship the medicos will do a little work over him and he’ll sit up and want to know if dinner’s ready.”
Then they fell silent, for, with the roar of wind and waters, it was necessary for them to shout when they talked.
As the minutes went by slowly, the two conscious midshipmen found themselves filled with amazement.
A dozen times the launches darted by, not far away. It seemed impossible that the keen, restless eyes of the seekers should not discover the imperiled ones.
At such times Dave and Dan shouted with all the power of their lusty young lungs.
Alternately Dan and Dave tried the effect of rising as far as they could and frantically waving an arm. There was not a cap to wave among the three of them.
“I’m beginning to feel discouraged,” grunted Dave in disgust at last. “They must have spent a full half day already looking for us.”
“Merciful powers!” gasped Dan at last, as they rode half way up the slope of a big wave. “I just caught sight of the ‘recall of boats’ flying from the flagship!”
“No!” gasped Dave incredulously.
“Yes, I did!”
“They’ve failed and have given up the search,” spoke Dan rather despairingly.
“We may as well face it,” muttered Dan brokenly. “They don’t believe that any of us has survived, and we’ve been abandoned.”
“Then,” spoke Dave Darrin very coolly, “there’s nothing left for us but to die like men of the American Navy.”
“It seems heartless, needless,” protested Dan.
“No,” broke in Darrin. “They’ve done their best. They’re convinced that we’re lost. And I should think they would be, after all the time they’ve searched for us—half a day, at least.”
Dan said nothing, but tugged until he succeeded in bringing his watch up to the light.
“The blamed thing is water-logged,” he uttered disgustedly.
“The hands point to less than half past nine!”
Darrin managed to get at his own watch.
“My timepiece doesn’t call for half past nine, either,” he announced.
“Can it be possible—”
“Yes; the time has only seemed longer, I reckon,” observed Dalzell.
“Well, we’ll face it like men,” proposed Dave.
“Of course,” nodded Dan. “At least, we’re going down in the ocean, and we wear the American Naval uniform. If there’s any choice in deaths, I guess that’s as good and manly a one as we could choose.”
“Poor old Hally won’t know much about it, anyway, I guess,” remarked Darrin, who seemed unnaturally cool. Possibly he was a bit dazed by the stunning nature of the fate that seemed about to overtake them.
“Maybe the ships will go by us in their final get-away,” proposed Dan Dalzell very soberly.
“Not if I’m seaman enough to read the compass by what’s visible of the sun,” returned Midshipman Darrin.