As cautiously as possible they advanced. They found there was a rough path leading from the beach up the cliff, on top of which the two men had stood. With Jerry, holding the lantern to guide them, Ned and Bob followed. They paused now and then to listen, but the only sound they heard was caused by the waves of the Pacific breaking on the rocky shore, the rattle of the pebbles on the beach, and the soft swish of the seaweed.
“It was right over there that he seemed to fall,” said Ned, pointing to indicate where he meant.
“That’s where I made it out to be,” agreed Jerry.
It was not easy walking, as the rocks were slippery, and some of them were thick with weeds, for, at very high water, they, were covered by the ocean. Several times Bob slipped and nearly fell.
“Look out,” cautioned Jerry. “We don’t want two wounded persons to look after.”
They paused a moment to get their breath, after a stiff bit of climbing, and, as they stood there in the silence of the night, with the moon fitfully showing through the clouds, they suddenly heard a groan.
“What’s that?” whispered Ned, tensely.
“It must be the man we’re looking for,” replied Jerry. “He’s hurt. Where did the sound come from?”
Ned pointed to a dark spot at the foot of the cliff. The three boys hastened toward it, Jerry flashing his lantern.
When they got to the place they saw, lying huddled up on a bed of seaweed, the form of a man.
As the light flashed on him they noticed that there was blood on his pale face, and one arm was doubled up under him in a strange manner.
“He’s dead!” whispered Bob softly,
“No; he’s breathing,” answered Jerry, as he bent over the man on the rocks. “Get me some water in your cap, Ned. I’ll try to bring him to.”
De Vere’s story
Ned ran down to the shore, slipping and stumbling over the rocks, and once falling and bruising himself considerably. But he did not mind this. He wanted to get the water, for it might save the man’s life. It looked as if some crime had been attempted, and evidence pointed to Blowitz.
Making as quick progress on the return trip as the carrying of a cap full of sea water would permit, Ned held it so Jerry could sprinkle some drops on the man’s face. He stirred and seemed to be murmuring something.
“We ought to have some fresh water for him to drink,” said Bob. “I’ll get some from the cooler on the boat.”
Off he hurried, returning presently with a pitcherful of fresh water and a glass, and with this the man was given a drink, when Jerry held up his head.
The water seemed the very thing needed for the sufferer, as they could see by the light of the lantern, opened his eyes, and gazed wonderingly about him.
“What— where am I?” he asked, in a hoarse whisper.