Just as he came out into the open sea he collided with another person coming down. They seized each others’ hands and rose to the surface.
It was Torry! When they popped up and expelled the air from their lungs and blinked the water from their eyes, each boy instantly recognized the other.
“Crickey!” coughed Torrance. “I thought we’d lost you.”
“Are you all right?” demanded Morgan.
“Just as all right as a fellow can be when he—he can’t walk ashore,” chattered Torry.
“Here’s the yawl!” cried Whistler. “Where’s Mr. MacMasters? And Rosy and Slim? And the others?”
But when his eyes were well cleared of the water he beheld the entire crew of the yawl, including Ensign MacMasters, perched along the yawl’s keel like a string of very much bedrabbled crows on a rail fence.
Strangely enough the gale seemed to have lulled for the time. Having done its worst to them, it gave the unfortunate castaways a breathing spell.
With the aid of their mates, Whistler Morgan and Torry were able to reach the keel of the overturned boat. There they perched, too, and, chattering in the cold wind, tried to look about them.
Where was the raft? This question, first and foremost in Whistler’s mind, troubled him intensely. It was impossible to see far across the tossing sea; but he was sure that the life raft was nowhere within the range of their vision.
“Poor Frenchy and Ikey!” groaned Whistler.
“That raft can’t sink,” urged Torry in his ear.
“But they could easily be torn off it by the waves.”
“Don’t look at it in that way. They may be better off than we are,” returned his chum.
“What’s that yonder?” shouted Slim suddenly.
“Land!” Mr. MacMasters cried.
“And a lot of good that’ll do us,” growled Slim. “We’ll be dumped ashore, maybe, like a ton of trap-rock.”
The sodden boat was drifting steadily toward the island. The surf thundered against its ramparts most threateningly. But the outlook did not seem so serious as that upon the other island they had passed.
Ensign MacMasters, after some fishing, secured the loose end of the broken hawser. With the help of those nearest to him he hauled this out of the water. Then, by his advice, they all lashed themselves to the long rope with their belts or neckerchiefs.
“No matter what happens, we want to hang together,” he declared. “No one man can fight this sea alone.”
His cheerfulness and optimism raised their spirits. At least they hung on to their insecure refuge with much ardor, and not uncheerfully waited to be cast upon the strand.
A great swell suddenly caught the yawl and drove it shoreward. Mr. MacMasters uttered a warning shout and waved his hand in a gesture of command. They all cast loose from the keel, and the boat was carried high upon the breast of the breaker.