“A steamship!” cried Tom, and the words awoke the girls. “We must hail the vessel by all means.”
“If she comes close enough,” said Captain Jerry pointedly. “Don’t be too hopeful, my lads. She may pass us by.”
THE CRUSOES OF SEVEN ISLANDS
All on board of the rowboat watched the thin trail of smoke with interest.
“I believe it is going away from us,” said Dora.
“No, it is coming closer,” said Nellie.
“It is certainly moving to the northward,” put in Sam.
A quarter of an hour went by and the smoke came only a little nearer.
“She is a big steamer,” said Captain Jerry. “But she aint comin’ jest this way.”
“You are sure?” cried Tom.
“Yes, lad. It’s too bad, but it can’t be helped.”
The old sailor was right; half an hour later the smoke had shifted, and after that it faded gradually from sight.
It was a heavy blow, after their expectations had been raised so high, and tears stood in the eyes of all of the girls, while the boys looked unusually sober.
What was to do next? All asked that question, yet it was only Captain Jerry who answered it.
“Let us pull southward,” said he.
And they did so, although with hearts that were as heavy as lead in their bosoms.
Slowly the night came on. Shortly after the sun set the moon showed itself and the sky became studded with stars, the Southern Cross standing out boldly among them. The pale light made the bosom of the ocean glisten like silver.
“A beautiful night,” said Dora. “But who can enjoy it when we do not know what to-morrow will bring forth,” and she sighed deeply.
The boys and old Jerry continued to take turns at rowing, while the girls sank into fitful slumber.
Presently the old sailor raised his head.
“Listen!” he said, and they did so, and far away heard a strange booming.
“What’s that?” questioned Sam.
“It’s breakers!” cried Tom. “We must be near some coast!”
“The lad is right,” came from Captain Jerry. “We are near an island, after all!”
Dick stood on a seat, and, as the boat rode to the top of a wave, took a look around.
“An island!” he cried. “Dead ahead!”
“Hurrah! We are saved!” ejaculated Sam. “What is the matter?” questioned Dora, rousing up, followed by the other girls.
“There is an island ahead.”
“We must be careful how we approach the shore, lads,” cautioned Jerry. “If we strike the rocks, it may cost us our lives. Perhaps we had better hold off until daylight.”
“I see a stretch of sand!” came from Tom, who was standing up. “If we can reach that, we’ll be all right.”
Old Jerry took a careful look. The sand was there, true enough, but there were dangerous breakers between the boat and that shore.