“We floated around the ocean for several days,” said the bully. “One sailor went crazy from the sunshine and leaped overboard, and was drowned. Then a heavy wind came up and drove the boat, in the night, onto an island close to this one. We were cast ashore with hardly any provisions, and two of the sailors were sick. We had to live on fish, birds, and fruit, and we’ve had a hard lot of it, I can tell you that. Yesterday Lesher and I resolved to explore this island, thinking that perhaps some of the wreckage from the schooner had washed ashore here. We came over in the afternoon and tramped along the north shore until it grew dark, but without finding anything. We slept at the shore last night, and this morning started to go over the hill back there. But the snakes chased us off, and then we came around over some rough rocks, where both of us got our clothing torn. We thought we saw a flag up there somewhere, but we weren’t sure.”
“Yes, we have a signal of distress up there,” answered Dora. She hardly knew how best to reply.
“Who is here?”
“Captain Blossom, old Jerry Tolman, and the three Rover boys. Old Jerry and Dick have just gone over to the wreck en an errand. The others have gone on an exploring tour among the islands, which are seven in number.”
“Got the wreck, have yer!” came in almost a grunt from Jack Lesher. “Sure enough!” He staggered down to the beach. “Don’t see why you stay here when you might be aboard of her.”
“It is cooler here,” answered Nellie.
“How many sailors were saved?” asked Grace.
“Nine were saved, besides Lesher and myself,” answered Dan Baxter. “You see, we picked up some of the men from one of the other boats.”
“Then your party numbers eleven in all,” said Dora.
“Yes,” came from Jack Lesher. “An’ I am the cap’n of the lot,” and he bobbed his head in satisfaction. He had partaken of just enough liquor to make him foolish.
“I wish Dick and old Jerry would come back,” whispered Grace to Dora. “I do not like Mr. Lesher at all.”
“I never liked him,” replied Dora. “When he gets intoxicated he is a bad fellow to deal with.”
“Reckon we’ll make ourselves comfortable here,” said Lesher, staggering to a hammock Dick had put up for the girls to rest in. He pitched into the hammock, carrying a bottle of liquor with him. Another drink was taken, and soon he was fast asleep, snoring loudly.
HOT WORDS AND BLOWS
“What a shame!” said Nellie, pointing to the slumbering mate.
“That shows what liquor will do,” came from Dora.
“Oh, you mustn’t blame him too much,” returned Dan Baxter, who also liked the taste of the liquor. “Remember that we have been living a dog’s life since we came on shore, while you have been living on the best the ship affords.”