“We can take a look at those other islands later on,” said old Jerry. “Reckon as how we have done enough for one day. If we don’t git back soon, they’ll become anxious about us.”
“I wish we had a flag,” said Dick. “Here is a tall tree. We could chop away the top branches and hang up a signal of distress. If we did that, perhaps some ship would come this way and rescue us.”
“Right ye are, lad, but it aint many ships come this way. They are afraid o’ the rocks we run on.”
Having looked around once more, to “git the lay o’ the land,” as Captain Jerry expressed it, they started to descend the hill. This proved as difficult as climbing up had been.
Dick went in advance, and was half-way down when he stepped on a loose stick and went rolling into a perfect network of vines and brushwood.
“Are ye hurt?” sang out old Jerry.
“No—not much!” answered the eldest Rover. “But my wind—Oh, goodness gracious!”
Dick broke off short, and small wonder. As ’he arose from the hole into which he had tumbled, a hissing sound caught his ears. Then up came the head of a snake at least eight feet long, and in a twinkle the reptile had wound itself around the boy’s lower limbs!
SETTLING DOWN ON THE ISLAND
“What’s wrong, lad?”
“A snake! It has wound itself around my legs!”
“Ye don’t say!” gasped Captain Jerry, and then leaped down to the hollow. “Well, by gosh! Take that, ye beast!”
“That” was a blow aimed at the reptile’s head with the sailor’s stick. Old Jerry’s aim was both swift and true and the head of the reptile received a blow which knocked out one eye and bruised its fang. But the body wound itself around Dick tighter than ever.
Fortunately the youth had not lost his wits completely, and as the neck of the reptile came up, he grasped it in his hand with the strongest grip he could command.
“Cut it—cut its head off!” he panted. “Get your pocket-knife!”
At once Captain Jerry dropped his stick and pulled out his jack-knife, a big affair, such as many old sailors carry. One pull opened the main blade, and then old Jerry started in to do as Dick had suggested. It was no easy job and the body of the snake squirmed and whipped in every direction, lashing each on the neck and the cheek. But the head came off at last and then they left the body where it fell, and leaped out of the way of further danger.
“A close shave, lad,” said the old sailor, as he peered around for more snakes.
“I—I should sa—say it wa—was,” panted Dick. He was deadly pale. “I—I thought it would strangle me sure!”
“If it had got around your neck, that is what would have happened. Reckon as how we had better git out o’ this neighborhood, eh?”
“Yes, yes, let us go at once,” and Dick started off once more.