“Aye, aye, sir,” murmured the helmsman, in a very low voice. Dave signaled the engineman silently to increase the speed.
“There the boat goes, the sail caught by a cross current of air!” called Midshipman Dalzell almost furiously.
The girls aboard the sailboat now cried out in alarm as they felt the extreme list of the boat under them. All too late Midshipman Gray Sprang for the sheet to ease it off.
Too late! In another moment the sailboat had capsized, the mast nearly snapping in the blow over.
“Make haste—–do!” cried Mrs. Meade, rising in the steamer.
But the steamer was already under increased headway, and the helmsman had to make but a slight turn to bear down directly to the scene of the disaster.
Three midshipmen could be seen floundering in the water, each steadily supporting the head of a girl. But the fourth, midshipman was floundering about wildly. Then he disappeared beneath the water.
“That young man has given up and gone down!” cried Mrs. Meade, whom Dave had just persuaded to resume her seat.
“No,” Dave assured her. “Gray isn’t drowning. But his girl companion is missing, and he has dived to find her.”
“Then the girl is lost!” quivered Mrs. Meade.
“No; I think not. Gray is a fine swimmer, and will find Miss Butler before she has been under too long a time.”
Then Dave rose, for he was commander here. “Danny boy, throw off your shoes and blouse and cap. The rest stand by the boat to give such aid as you can. Ladies, you’ll excuse us.”
Thereupon Dave Darrin doffed his own cap, blouse and shoes. He and Dalzell were the two best swimmers in the party, and it looked as though there would be work ahead for them to do.
In another moment the steamer was on the scene, and speed was shut off. Lambert, Haynes and Whipple, with their girl companions, were speedily reached and hauled aboard.
Then Gray came up, but alone.
“Hasn’t Pauline come up?” he gasped in terror.
“No,” Darrin replied shortly, but in a voice laden with sympathy.
“Then I’ve got to down again,” replied Gray despairingly. “I’d better stay down, too.”
He sank instantly, a row of bubbles coming up at the spot where he had vanished.
“The poor, unfortunate fellow! He won’t really attempt to drown himself, will he, if he doesn’t find his young woman friend?” inquired Mrs. Meade.
“No,” Dave answered without turning. “And we wouldn’t allow him to do so, either.”
Dave waited but a brief interval, this time. Then, as Midshipman Gray did not reappear, he called:
“Yes, sir,” replied the enlisted man by the engine.
“Hustle forward and rig a rope loop to the anchor cable. How long is the anchor?”
“About three feet, sir.”
“Then rig the loop two feet above the mudhook.”