“What had we better do?” asked Bob. “Can’t we get ahead of him in some way?”
“I know of no other way than to cruise about until we find the brig,” replied Mr. De Vere. “It is only a chance, but luck may favor us first. That is all we can hope for.”
All that day they cruised fruitlessly about, and the next day was equally barren of result.
“I’m afraid you’ll think we’re not very good derelict hunters,” remarked Jerry on the morning of the third day after the storm, when they took an observation, and saw nothing but a vast extent of water. The weather was calm, the sun shone brightly and the Ripper was making good time.
“No,” was the answer. “It isn’t your fault. This was in the nature of an experiment, and I do not expect immediate results. I figured on being three weeks on this search, and we have only spent about a third of that time. We are yet on the safe side, although I admit it is rather disappointing.”
After breakfast they resumed their observations. It was nearly eight bells when Ned, who had been stationed in the bow with the powerful glasses, cried out:
“I see something.”
“Where?” asked Mr. De Vere eagerly.
“Off the left.”
Mr. De Vere took the glasses and peered long and anxiously through them at a small speck which Ned pointed out as it rose and fell on the crest of the billows.
“Is it the derelict?” asked Jerry, appearing in the companionway.
“I don’t know,” answered Ned. “It looks like some sort of a ship, but I’m afraid to be positive, because we’ve had so many false alarms.”
“It’s some sort of a ship,” remarked Mr. De Vere suddenly as he passed the glasses to Jerry. “I make it out to be a brig, and, from the way it is jibing about, it seems to be under no control. See what you think.”
Jerry took a careful look.
“It’s a brig, sure enough,” he declared, “and I can’t see any sign of life on her.”
“Put us over that way,” requested Mr. De Vere, of Ned, who was steering and running the engine. “When we get a little nearer I may be able to make out the name.”
There were anxious hearts beating in the breasts of those aboard the Ripper. Could it be possible that the ship they saw was the derelict for which they had been searching? They all hoped so.
Ned speeded the motor up to the highest notch and the boat fairly flew through the calm sea. Near and nearer it came to the ship, which could now plainly be made out. There was not a sail set, and this was peculiar in itself. The brig idly rose and fell on the long, heaving swells.
“It’s my ship!” suddenly cried Mr. De Vere, after a lengthy observation through the binoculars. “I can make out her name. It’s the Rockhaven! Hurrah, boys! We have found her at last!”
“And Blowitz and his tug are nowhere in sight!” cried Ned. “We have beaten him!”