“She may be piled up further along somewhere,” suggested Joe. “I say we’d better have a look. It would help a bit to know what sort of a place we’ve struck, anyway. For all we know there may be a house just around the corner!”
So they set out in two parties, Steve, Ossie and Phil going one way and the rest the other. It was agreed that they were to be back in an hour at the most. Twenty minutes later, each exploration party having stuck to the beach, they came together again, much to their mutual surprise.
“The pesky thing isn’t more than a few acres big!” exclaimed Joe disgustedly.
“And it’s entirely surrounded by water,” added Perry brightly.
“Most islands are,” said Ossie. “We can get up on top easily enough here, fellows. Let’s see what it looks like.”
Their island was little more than a rock stuck out of the water. Just how big it was was difficult to determine since the haze of driving mist allowed but little view. From the beach, at a point presumably directly opposite the place where they had come ashore they climbed by the aid of rocky footholds and bushes to a broken but generally level summit clad with a tangled growth of blueberry and briars and sprinkled most liberally with boulders. The ground arose gradually as they advanced, guided by Steve’s pocket compass, and before very long they reached the wind-swept edge of the cliff against which they had spent the night. From the summit they could see dimly at brief intervals the form of the Adventurer far below.
“Well, I don’t see that we’ve accomplished much,” said Han. “We’re here, but where are we? And how the dickens are we going to get back again? If anyone thinks that I’m going to risk my neck sliding down here he’s mistaken.”
“We don’t ask you to, Ossie dear,” said Han. “Your little neck is much too precious. One thing is certain, anyway, I guess: there’s no hotel on the place!”
“Hotel!” said Joe. “Gee, I’d be satisfied with a—um—cow-shed!”
Nevertheless, they made the return journey in better spirits, for they had walked the aches from their limbs and warmth into their bodies. On the way Steve made them gather fagots of dead branches and they found a number of larger pieces of wood on the beach. By the time they were once more “at home,” as Perry put it, they had all the material for a fire save paper or some other form of kindling. Steve experimented with twigs from the fir trees on the ledge, but they were too wet to burn. No one had any paper, or if they had it was too damp.
“What would Robinson Crusoe have done?” asked Steve, frowning thoughtfully.
Joe, who had seated himself tiredly on the wet sand and was digging his stockinged heels into it, sneered at Mr. Crusoe. “He’d have made a trip on his raft,” he said, “and fetched ashore a bundle of kindling. If it hadn’t been for that wreck to draw on Robinson Crusoe would have starved to death in twenty-four hours!”