It was about half-past eight that Phil, sitting on the forward cabin roof with his back braced against the smokestack, called Steve’s attention to an object far off to port. They had then put some thirty miles between them and Portland and were twenty miles off Cape Neddick. The morning was lowery, with occasional spatters of rain, and the storm, which had blown off to the northward the day before, had left a heavy sea running. For an hour the Adventurer and the Follow Me had been climbing up the slopes of grey-green swells and sliding down into swirling troughs, and for a minute Steve couldn’t find the dark speck at which Phil was pointing. When he did at last sight it over the tumbled mounds of water he stared in puzzlement a moment before he took the binoculars from their place and fitted them to his eyes. He looked long and then silently handed the glasses through the window to Phil, punched two shrill blasts on the whistle and swung the wheel to port.
“Looks like a wreck,” said Phil, after an inspection of the distant object. “Going to see?”
Steve nodded. “Might be someone aboard,” he answered. “We can tell in another mile or so, I guess.”
Phil gave up the glasses to the others, who had clustered to the bridge, while the Follow Me altered her course in obedience to the signal, her company probably wondering why Steve had suddenly chosen to stand out to sea. At the end of ten minutes it was plainly to be determined with the aid of the binoculars that the object which had attracted their attention and curiosity was without any doubt a wreck, and as the Adventurer drew momentarily closer her plight was seen to be extreme. Whether anyone remained aboard was still a question when the cruiser was a mile distant, but everything pointed against it. The craft, which proved to be a small coasting schooner, had evidently seen a lot of trouble. Both masts were broken off, the foremast close to the deck and the mainmast some dozen feet above it. She lay low in the water, with her decks piled high with lumber. A tangle of spars and ropes hung astern, but save for her cargo the decks had been swept clean. She was a sad sight even at that distance, and more than one aboard the Adventurer felt the pathos of her.
“No sign of life,” said Steve. “If anyone was aboard there’d be a signal flying. And the boats are all gone, too, although that wouldn’t mean much in itself because they might have been swept away. I guess, though, it got a bit too strenuous and the crew remembered the ‘Safety First’ slogan. There’s nothing we can do, anyway.”
He started to swing the cruiser about again, but Perry intervened. “She’s a whatyoucallit!” he exclaimed excitedly. “She’s—”
“No, little one,” Joe corrected gently, “she’s a wreck.”
“She’s a derelict,” persisted Perry eagerly, “and no one belongs to her! If we got her she’d belong to us, Steve! Wouldn’t she?”