“Come on, then!” said Collingwood. “Come here, Ned!”
Morrill swam ashore and pushed off in one of the canoes with Collingwood—taking the stern seat and the paddle. Collingwood knelt in the bow, with his spear laid across the gun-wales in front of him. In like manner Westby and Carroll took to the water.
“This is the best two bouts out of three,” called Scarborough, as he circled round. “Don’t you want to come aboard, Mr. Upton, and help judge?”
“Why, yes, thank you,” said Irving.
So Scarborough called, “Wait a moment, fellows,” and paddling ashore, took on his passenger. Then he sped out to the middle of the bay; the two other canoes were separated by about fifty feet.
“Charge!” cried Scarborough, and Morrill and Carroll began paddling towards each other, while in the bows Collingwood and Westby rose to their feet and held their spears in front of them. They advanced cautiously and then swung apart, evading the collision—each trying to tempt the other to stab and overreach.
“Oh, you’re both scared!” jeered Baldersnaith from the shore.
The canoes swung about and made for each other again; and this time passed within striking distance. Westby’s aim missed, his sponge-tipped lance slid past Collingwood’s shoulder, and the next instant Collingwood’s sponge—well weighted with water—smote Westby full in the chest and hove him overboard. For one moment Carroll struggled to keep the canoe right side up, but in vain; it tipped and filled, and with a shout he plunged in head foremost after his comrade.
They came up and began to push their canoe ashore; the two other canoes drew alongside and assisted, Scarborough and Morrill paddling, while Irving and Collingwood laid hold of the thwarts.
“That’s all right; I’ll get you this time,” spluttered Westby. “We’re going to use strategy now.”
They emptied the water out of the canoe and proceeded again to the battleground. Then, when Scarborough gave the word, Carroll began paddling madly; he and Westby bore down upon their antagonists at a most threatening speed. Morrill swung to the right to get out of their path; and then suddenly Carroll swung in the opposite direction—with what strategic purpose neither Irving nor Scarborough had time to conjecture. For they were loitering close on that side, not expecting any such manoeuvre; the sharp turn drove the bow of Carroll’s canoe straight for the waist of Scarborough’s, and Westby with an excited laugh undertook to fend off with his pole, lost his balance, and trying to recover it, upset both canoes together.
Irving felt himself going, heard Westby’s laughing shout, “Look out, Mr. Upton!” and then went under.
[Illustration: The canoes swung about and made for each other]