The terrors of the storm.
After that one feeling of horror both the boys recovered more or less of their ordinary ability to meet danger, and overcome it.
It was Maurice who sprang to the door, and threw it open.
As he pushed out upon the narrow deck of the float he could not but be appalled by the sight that met his wondering eyes.
Just as he had suspected so strongly, they had broken away from the anchorage. Doubtless the rope had been frayed by some sharp-edged stone, and when that unusual gust swooped down upon them it gave at the weakest part.
Out on the river little could be seen save a jumble of foamy waters, that seemed to be tumbling wildly over and over, driven by the furious blast from the north.
Maurice turned his eyes toward the other side, for it was in that quarter his deepest interest lay.
Back of the clouds there was a pretty good-sized moon still above the western horizon, so that this helped lighten what would otherwise have been inky darkness.
Hence, Maurice could make out the tops of the trees on the bank of the river, as they were outlined against the lighter heavens.
“We’re just humming along!” he shouted, as he noticed how the tree-tops seemed to be constantly shifting, owing to the progress of the boat downstream.
“The worst of it is we seem to be drifting out all the while!” was what Thad called, as he, too, sized up the situation.
Both of them knew what this meant.
Once they were swept far out upon the bosom of that madly agitated flood, and the chances of the gallant old shanty-boat remaining right-side-up would be very scanty.
“We must fight against that with all our might!” yelled the other, as he pushed back to where the sweep was to be found. They set to work with every pound of force they could bring to the front. Again and again was the long oar dipped into the water, and made to press against the rush of the current.
“How is it?” gasped Maurice, after they had been employed in this manner for some five minutes, each sixty seconds filled with anxiety.
“I think we are about holding our own!” replied Thad.
“Is that all? Then how can we ever get her in nearer the shore?” demanded his chum, forlornly, as he continued to tug away.
“Have to trust to luck for that,” came the immediate reply.
“Tell me how?” implored Maurice, who somehow failed to grasp the situation quite as accurately as the other.
“The shore lines change constantly, you know.”
“Yes, that’s so; but we might open up a big pocket at any time, as soon as strike a point sticking out,” suggested Maurice.
“Sure. That’s what I meant when I said we’d have to stick everlastingly at it, and trust to luck for the rest,” replied his comrade.