Captain Jerry thought this good advice and they proceeded with caution until they came in sight of the house. Then Dick set up a shout.
“Tom, Sam, and Captain Blossom are back! Hurrah!”
“They look as if they were having a row with Baxter and the mate,” came from old Jerry.
A row certainly was in progress, and as they came closer they heard Tom talking.
“Yes, Lesher, I want to know all about this quarrel with my brother Dick. I am sure he was not in the wrong.”
“See here, I know my own business,” the mate growled. “You shut up and leave me alone.”
“We won’t leave you alone,” came from Sam. “We want to know the truth.”
“Yes, tell us the truth, Lesher,” said Captain Blossom sternly.
“All against me, aint you?”
“We want the truth,” answered Tom.
“Well, if you must have it, all right. He got cheeky and hit me on the head with an oar. Then I hit back and knocked him down. Then he got mad and so did Jerry Tolman, and both refused to come back in the boat with Baxter and me.”
“I’ll wager you started to boss things,” said Sam. “Dick doesn’t raise a row without just cause.”
“Good for Sam,” murmured Dick.
“Your brother was entirely to blame,” grunted the mate. He was still far from sober.
“Jack Lesher, you tell what is not so,” said Dick loudly, and joined the group, followed by old Jerry.
Had a bombshell exploded, Lesher and Baxter would not have been more astonished. Then stared at the newcomers as if they were ghosts.
“How—er—how did you get here?” stammered Baxter, while the mate continued to stare, in open-mouthed astonishment.
“That is our affair,” responded Dick. He strode up to Lesher. “You miserable villain. How dare you say that I was to blame when you attacked me without warning? Take that for what you did.”
And hauling off, Dick hit the mate a fair and square blow in the nose which sent Lesher flat on his back.
TRYING TO COME TO TERMS
As the mate went down the girls gave a scream, and even Tom and Sam looked at Dick in wonder. Never had any of them seen the eldest Rover so aroused.
“My lad, that was a hard blow,” observed Captain Blossom, as Jack Lesher lay where he had fallen.
“Not half as hard as the blow he struck me,” answered Dick.
“Not hard as hard as thet chap hit me,” put in old Jerry, and turning quickly he flew at Dan Baxter and bore him to the ground.
“Hi! hi! let up!” roared the bully. “Let up! Take him off!”
“I’ll let up, when I’m done,” panted old Jerry, and he gave him a thump in the cheek, another in the eye, and a third on the chin. “Now, then, Dan Baxter, see how you like that!” And then the old sailor arose once more.
“I’ll—I’ll—” began Baxter, in a terrible rage. “I’ll—”