“He didn’t know it until after we were a hundred yards or more from the wreck. You see, he and the others were drinking in the cabin, so we got away without much trouble,” answered Marny. “They might have shot at us, but it was too dark for them. We had a hard pull to get over here, and when poor Hackenhaven was gobbled up both of us felt bad, I can tell you.”
It was now seen that both sailors were almost exhausted, and Captain Blossom allowed them to rest, while Dick prepared a pot of coffee. While they were drinking, Gibson told them the particulars of how the mate had made himself leader of the sailors now left on the wreck.
THE BURNING OF THE WRECK
“When Lesher and Baxter got back to where they left us they were very bitter against you,” began Gibson. “They told us that you had tried to make them work like niggers, fixing up this house. They said that they wanted to come right back and bring us here, but you wouldn’t let them go until the house was finished.”
“Which is not true, as all of us here know,” said Captain Blossom.
“Lesher also said that you were angry at us for leaving the ship before the rest, and that you had said you would have us all tried for mutiny the first chance you got. Baxter said the same, and also told us that you were going to dump all the rum and other liquor into the ocean, so that the mate and none of the others could get a drop of it while they stayed on the islands.”
“I didn’t say that, but I did say that Lesher Shouldn’t have all he wanted,” replied the captain.
“This sort of talk made most of the sailors wild,” went on Gibson. “Then Lesher made a speech to them, and they voted to stick by him through thick and thin and not let you rule them. He promised them all the liquor they wanted, and told them that if they stuck by him the whole lot could swear in court that they had found the wreck deserted, so that they could get whatever was coming in the way of salvage. Then he handed around some liquor he had brought along, and some pistols, and most of them said they would stick to him, as I said before.”
“What about going directly to the wreck?” asked Tom.
“That was Baxter’s idea, and it wasn’t thought of until we were on our way to this spot. Baxter said that if we captured the ship we would have you at our mercy, for sooner or later your provisions would run out, and you’d be begging for something to eat.”
“The scoundrel!” cried Dick. “So he thought to starve us into submission, eh? Well, he shan’t do it.”
“I said I didn’t think it would be fair on the young ladies,” continued Gibson. “But he told me he’d take care of the girls after he had brought you to your knees.”
“He’ll never take care of me!” cried Dora.
“Nor me!” came from Nellie.
“I’d rather die than leave this place in Dan Baxter’s company,” added Grace.