As for lodgings, there were none excepting the small tent which he had put up for the ladies, but a few nights in the open air in that dry climate would not hurt the male portion of the party.
In the course of the afternoon, the two American sailors came to Captain Horn and asked permission to go to look for game. The captain had small hopes of their finding anything suitable for food, but feeling sure that if they should be successful, every one would be glad of a little fresh meat, he gave his permission, at the same time requesting the men to do their best in the way of observation, if they should get up high enough to survey the country, and discover some signs of habitation, if such existed in that barren region. It would be a great relief to the captain to feel that there was some spot of refuge to which, by land or water, his party might make its way in case the water and provisions gave out before the return of the mate.
As to the men who went off in the boat, the captain expected to see but a few of them again. One or two might return with the mate, in such vessel as he should obtain in which to come for them, but the most of them, if they reached a seaport, would scatter, after the manner of seamen.
The two sailors departed, promising, if they could not bring back fish or fowl, to return before dark, with a report of the lay of the land.
It was very well that Maka did not have to depend on these hunters for the evening meal, for night came without them, and the next morning they had not returned. The captain was very much troubled. The men must be lost, or they had met with some accident. There could be no other reason for their continued absence. They had each a gun, and plenty of powder and shot, but they had taken only provisions enough for a single meal.
Davis offered to go up the hills to look for the missing men. He had lived for some years in the bush in Australia, and he thought that there was a good chance of his discovering their tracks. But the captain shook his head.
“You are just as likely to get lost, or to fall over a rock, as anybody else,” he said, “and it is better to have two men lost than three. But there is one thing that you can do. You can go down to the beach, and make your way southward as far as possible. There you can find your way back, and if you take a gun, and fire it every now and then, you may attract the attention of Shirley and Burke, if they are on the hills above, and perhaps they may even be able to see you as you walk along. If they are alive, they will probably see or hear you, and fire in answer. It is a very strange thing that we have not heard a shot from them.”
Ralph begged to accompany the Englishman, for he was getting very restless, and longed for a ramble and scramble. But neither the captain nor his sister would consent to this, and Davis started off alone.
“If you can round the point down there,” said the captain to him, “do it, for you may see a town or houses not far away on the other side. But don’t take any risks. At all events, make your calculations so that you will be back here before dark.”