A mysterious influence
“One of you boys will have to do the shooting,” said Maurice De Vere, as he came out on the small forward deck with his rifle. “I’m a pretty good marksman, but I can’t do anything when I have this broken arm.”
“Let Jerry try,” suggested Ned. “He’s the best shot of us three.”
“Oh, I don’t know,” spoke Jerry modestly, but Mr. De Vere handed him the rifle.
“We have no time to lose,” he said. “Blowitz may be here at any hour, and, as he said, possession is nine points of the law. I want to get aboard.”
Jerry looked to the loading of the weapon, and then, at his suggestion the motor boat was backed off some yards.
“I want to see to get a good shot, and put the poor things out of their misery as soon as possible,” he said.
The dogs acted more wild than ever as they saw the motor boat moving about. They almost leaped overboard, as they raced about the derelict and finally, they both jumped on the quarter deck, where they stood in bold relief.
“Now’s your chance, Jerry!” cried Ned.
Jerry took quick aim, steadying himself as best he could against the motion of the boat. The rifle cracked, and, at the same instant one of the dogs gave a howl, a convulsive leap, and, a second later was floundering in the water.
“There’s one of the poor brutes gone,” remarked Mr. De Vere. “Now, once more, Jerry. I hate to kill the dogs, for they are valuable animals, but it is a question of their lives or ours, and it would not be safe to let them live.”
The remaining dog, startled by the rifle shot, and the disappearance of its companion stood in mute surprise on the quarter deck. He offered a good shot, and Jerry fired. The dog howled, and began whirling about in a circle, snapping its jaws.
“You’ve only wounded him!” exclaimed Bob.
Before any one else could speak Jerry had fired the repeater again. This time the bullet went true, and the dog fell to the deck, gave a few convulsive struggles, and was still.
“That settles him,” remarked Mr. De Vere.
“Now, boys, we’ll go aboard, and I’ll get what belongs to me. Then we’ll see if we can tow the ship in.”
The Ripper was once more put alongside the brig, cork buffers were adjusted to prevent damage being done, and, in a few minutes Jerry had scrambled up on deck.
“That’s a fierce brute,” he remarked to Bob who followed him, as they stood looking at the dead dog. “I’m glad I didn’t have to tackle him at close quarters.”
“Let’s heave him overboard,” suggested Bob, and they did so, though it took all their strength to drag the body to the rail.
“I guess you’ll have to lower the accommodation ladder for me, boys,” said Mr. De Vere. “I don’t believe I can scramble up by way of the chains, as you did.”