“You’ll have to ask Father Neptune,” answered Jerry. “We’re not guilty, Chunky.”
“Didn’t you pull me from my bunk?” asked the stout youth.
It needed no answer from his chums to assure him to the contrary. The motor boat was now pitching and tossing violently, and, as the boys stood in the cabin, they had hard work to prevent themselves from being thrown from partition to partition. Had it not been for their forethought in making everything secure earlier in the night, the boat might have been damaged.
“What’s the matter, boys?” asked Mr. De Vere, looking out from his small stateroom. “Oh, it’s the storm. Arrived strictly on time, I guess, and it’s a hummer too! How’s the engine working?”
“Fine,” declared Ned, who had just left the motor cockpit. “Runs like a charm, and hasn’t missed an explosion since I took charge.”
“That’s good,” commented Mr. De Vere. “We’ll need all the power we can get, to keep her head on to the waves, if this gets any worse.”
As he spoke there was a thundering crash on the deck above them, and a rush of water told that a big comber had come aboard, nearly burying the small craft in a swirl of green water.
“Are the hatches closed,” asked Mr. De Vere anxiously, “and the sliding doors fastened?”
“Yes,” replied Ned. “I saw to that when I noticed the wind was getting worse, and the waves higher.”
The boat was fitted with a cabin over the full length, but amidships, where the motor was, were sliding partitions that could be taken down, thus making that part of the craft open. Ned had put these slides in place, securely fastening them, and closing the top hatches. The derelict hunters were thus completely shut up in the Ripper, and could manage the engine, and run the boat without exposing themselves. Only for this the big wave might have swamped them.
Maurice De Vere quickly dressed and, with the boys went to the engine compartment. The motor was humming and throbbing, and, at Jerry’s suggestion, Ned gave the wheels and cogs an additional dose of oil.
The storm rapidly increased in fury, and the boat was pitching and tossing in a manner that made it difficult to get from one part to another. But the Ripper was a substantial craft and though her nose, many times, was buried deep under some big sea, she managed to work her way out, staggering under the shock, but going on, like the gallant boat she was.
The engine, from which one or another of the boys never took his eyes, worked to perfection. If it had failed them, and they had gotten into the trough of the sea, there probably would have been a different story to tell of the motor boys on the Pacific.
“This is getting fierce!” exclaimed Bob; after a particularly big wave had deluged the boat.
“Getting fierce?” repeated Jerry. “It’s been fierce for some time. I hope it doesn’t get any worse.”