“Here’s luck, boys!” cried Jack a minute afterwards.
“What have you found now?” asked Tom, without looking up.
“Why, the coffee’s still hot. And let me tell you, it feels good to my hands. There never was a finer thing for poor air pilots than these bottles that allow them to have a warm drink when two miles up, and in freezing temperature. This will put fresh life in our bodies.”
“That isn’t half bad,” answered Tom; “so hand it over, and I’ll take a drink or two.”
Tom swallowed his coffee and hastily ate a sandwich, but the others, without Tom’s reason for haste, ate hungrily.
Never, they confessed, had they felt such voracious appetites as on this flight. Perhaps the invigorating sea air had something to do with it; but Jack, at least, was not the one to bother himself about the cause, so long as the provisions held out.
Some time passed in this way. Tom at work, Beverly holding the flashlight in one hand and taking in the other such food as Jack handed to him.
Tom had just remarked he believed he had effected a radical cure, and that the feed-pipe was not likely to become obstructed again; at the same time Jack could see he was starting to put things together once more.
It began to look as though they might be ready to make a fresh start in a very short time, not more than ten minutes, Jack figured. It thrilled him to realize this fact. He even glanced toward the towering berg as if to say:
“Now be good, and just hold off your gymnastics till we get started, old chap! Afterwards you can cut up as much as you please, and little we’ll care. But I’ve got too much at stake right now in getting to land to have any silly ice mountain turn over on me. So forget your troubles for another half hour, if you please!”
Just then Jack saw something move close by. A scuffling sound, followed by a strange sniffling, could be plainly heard. Jack bent down and clutched Beverly by the arm, saying shrilly:
“Listen, both of you! That Polar bear is coming for us, and I think he means business, too!”
ATTACKED BY A POLAR BEAR
“Here’s trouble, all right!” grumbled Beverly, as he turned, looking to where Jack was pointing, and also discovered something moving.
Tom dropped his monkey-wrench. Something else besides a tool of that kind would be needed to defend them against the claws and teeth of such a bulky monster as a huge Polar bear.
All of them could now make the animal out as Beverly concentrated the little ray of light upon him. The beast was advancing slowly, but pugnaciously, sniffling the air, and evidently furiously hungry on account of his prolonged cruise upon the icefield, deprived of his customary fish meals.
“What ought we do, Tom?” Jack called out hurriedly. “If we retreat, like as not he’ll muss things up around here, and maybe ruin our plane for us.”