“Indeed we have,” went on Mr. De Vere. “Now, Ned, see how soon you can put us alongside.”
“It will not take long,” declared the young engineer. “It’s only a few miles.”
The Ripper proved worthy of her name, for she fairly “ripped” through the waves, and, in a short time, was so close to the derelict that they had to slow up.
“Put us up under the port quarter,” advised Mr. De Vere. “Luckily there is not much of a swell on, and we can easily get aboard as she sets low in the water. She must be leaking.”
With skillful hand Ned brought the motor boat alongside. The anchor chains were hanging low from the hawse holes and as they approached Jerry prepared to catch hold and swing himself up. He had reached out his hand, and was just going to grasp the links, when, from the deck of the deserted brig there came savage growls and barks. Jerry jumped back in alarm and Ned, who had jammed a boat hook in the side of the brig, to hold the Ripper steady, looked up.
“It’s dogs!” he cried. “Two of ’em!”
As he spoke two savage looking creatures thrust their heads up over the low rail. They were large dogs, of the wolf-hound variety; great shaggy creatures, and they growled in a menacing manner.
“They must have left the dogs aboard when they so strangely deserted the ship,” said Mr. De Vere. “I suppose they’re glad to see us. They must be lonesome. Try again, Jerry. I would, if I had the use of my two arms.”
Once more Jerry prepared to ascend by means of the chains, but the dogs almost leaped over the rail at him, showing their teeth, while the hair on as much of their backs as could be seen stood up in ridges. Foam dripped from their jaws.
“Look out!” cried Bob. “Those dogs are mad! Be careful!”
Savage growls and barks from the angry beasts emphasized his words. There was no doubt of it. The dogs were mad from fear and hunger. They disputed the advance of the voyagers, and would not let them aboard.
“Try on the other side,” suggested Mr. De Vere.
The boat was worked around to the other side of the bow, but the dogs followed, and stood on guard there.
“Maybe we can get up at the stern,” said Jerry. “Perhaps the dogs can’t make their way aft.”
But it was the same there. The maddened animals were ready to fly at the throats of any one who should attempt to board the derelict.
“What’s to be done?” asked Ned. “We didn’t count on this. Those are fierce dogs.”
“Indeed they are,” replied Mr. De Vere. “It would not be safe to risk getting too close to them.”
“But what can we do?” asked Jerry. “If we wait here too long, Blowitz may appear.”
“We’ve got to do something,” said the boy’s employer. “The only thing I can see to do is to shoot the dogs. I’ll get my rifle,” and he went into the cabin, where he had left his weapon, one of several he had brought aboard.