Larry looked up, to see a man clad in yellow oilskins and rubber boots standing in front of him.
“I came down about the wreck,” was the young reporter’s reply.
“Got any folks aboard? If you have I’m sorry. She’s broken her back!”
“No; I’m a reporter from New York. What do you mean about breaking her back?”
“Why, she ran away up on the bar at high tide. When it got low tide a while ago the bows and stern just sagged down, and she broke in two. They’ve got to work hard to save the passengers.”
“That’s a good story,” was Larry’s ejaculation, but it was not as heartless as it sounds, for he was only speaking professionally. “I must get down after it.”
“What? With night coming on, the wreck almost half a mile out, and it coming on to blow like all possessed?” asked the man in oilskins. “Guess you don’t know much about the sea, young man.”
“Very little,” answered Larry.
A sudden gust of wind, which dashed the rain with great force into his face, nearly carried the reporter off his feet. He looked about for a place of shelter.
“Better come with me,” suggested the man. “There are no hotel accommodations here, though there once were. I have a shack down on the beach, and you’re welcome to what I’ve got. I fish for a living. Bailey’s my name. Bert Bailey.”
“Go ahead. I’ll follow,” returned Larry. “I’d like to get out of this rain.”
“Have to tog you out like me,” said the old fisherman, as he led the youth toward his hut. “These are the only things for this weather.”
As they hastened on there came over the water the boom of a signal gun from the wrecked steamer.
ASHORE ON A RAFT
“What’s that?” asked the young reporter, pausing.
“She’s firing for help,” replied the fisherman. “Can’t last much longer now.”
“Can’t the life savers do anything?”
“They’ll try, as soon as they can. Hard to get a boat off in this surf. It comes up mighty fast and heavy. Have to use the breeches buoy, I reckon. But come on, and I’ll lend you some dry things to put on.”
Five minutes later Larry was inside the hut. It was small, consisting of only two rooms, but it was kept as neatly as though it was part of a ship.
In a small stove there was a blazing fire of driftwood, and Larry drew near to the grateful heat, for, though it was only late in September, it was much colder at the beach than in the city, and he was chilly from the drenching.
“Lucky I happened to see you,” Bailey went on. “I went down to the train to get my paper. One of the brakemen throws me one off each trip. It’s all the news I get. I didn’t expect any one down. This used to be quite a place years ago, but it’s petered out. But come on, get your wet things off, and I’ll see what I can do for you.”