Bob the Castaway
Frank V. Webster
Part 2 out of 3
"It's me," replied Captain Obed in his husky voice. "I hid out here
to signal you so's you wouldn't be followed."
"Followed? Who by?"
"By persons anxious to get hold of the secret map that tells of the
treasure buried on the island. Are you all alone, Bob?"
"Then go ahead into my house. I'll follow as soon as I've taken an
The boy thought the old man must be rather queer to imagine any one
would try to steal his secret, if secret he had. Bob was half
inclined to give the whole thing up. But he walked on, and was soon
inside the rather humble home of the retired mariner. Presently
Captain Obed entered and quickly closed the door.
"Have to be very careful--very careful," he said in a whisper. "If
any one knowed I had this map they'd rob me of it."
He pulled down the shades of the windows, and then carefully locking
the door he went to another room. Bob heard him fumbling about, and
soon the old man came out with a yellowish piece of paper in his
"Feel of it," he said to Bob.
Bob did so. It was stiff and crackly.
"Parchment--parchment," whispered Captain Obed. "The map is drawed
on parchment--that's sheepskin instead of paper. He wanted it to
last for years and years."
Once more Captain Obed looked around to see if by chance any one had
stolen into the room. He made Bob rather nervous.
"Captain Kidd," he answered in a lower whisper than he had yet used.
"Captain Kidd drawed that map. It gives the real secret of his
buried treasure. I'm the only one that knows where it is. There's
lots of maps of Captain Kidd's treasure, but I've got the only real
one. All them others was jest drawed so as to fool folks. An' they
did fool 'em. 'Cause why? 'Cause nobody ain't never yet found the
captain's treasure. But you'll find it, an' you'll bring it home to
Captain Obed, won't you, Bob? Of course you will. You're a good
boy, and if you bring it home safe, why, I'll give you"--he paused
and seemed to make a great effort--"yes, I'll give you a hundred
dollars, or maybe a hundred and fifty. There! What do you say to
"How much treasure is there?" asked Bob, hardly knowing whether to
laugh at the old man or take him seriously.
"How much? It must be near a million dollars. O h, there's lots of
It struck Bob that if there was that amount he would not be getting
much for his share.
"Now you take that map," went on Captain Obed. "It gives the exact
location or the island, and shows where the treasure is buried on
it, right in the center of a place where four trees grow. The
island is about eighty-two degrees west longitude and twenty-one
degrees south latitude. It'll be easy to locate. Just cruise about
in that locality for a few days and you'll find it. Then dig up the
"But suppose Captain Spark doesn't want to cruise around there?
It's his ship."
"Oh, you give him twenty-five dollars or so--out of your share, mind
you--and he'll be glad enough to do it. Now, Bob, I rely on you.
You're the only one I ever told my secret to, and I want you to keep
it close. Don't let 'em get that map away from you. They'll
try--oh, they'll try dreadful hard. I got it from my grandfather,
who had it direct from Captain Kidd himself, so I know it's correct.
Now, Bob, you'd better go. Take good care of the map and bring me
He thrust the yellow, crackling piece of parchment into Bob's hands
and opened the door.
"Put it in your pocket," he cautioned as Bob went out. "Some one
might see you."
Now Bob was quite a level-headed youth, and though he knew that
sometimes treasure might be found on islands in the ocean, where it
had been hidden by modern pirates or illegal pearl fishers, he did
not take much stock in what Captain Obed had told him.
Still he thought it would be no harm to take the parchment and show
it to Captain Spark. That seasoned mariner would soon be able to
tell if it was worth anything. At any rate, Bob was not going to
lie awake at night over the possibility--the very small
possibility--of securing the treasure.
"Guess I'll have to make a better bargain for my share of it before
I do much searching," he decided.
The boy said nothing to his parents about the parchment map. He
preferred letting Captain Spark know of it first, as that seemed
fairer to the old sailor who had given it to him. Then, as the time
was drawing nearer to the date of sailing, Bob's thoughts dwelt more
and more on his prospective trip.
"Don't you notice quite a change in Bob?" asked Mrs. Henderson of
her husband the next day. "He seems to have settled down, and he
hasn't played a joke in a long time."
"No, he hasn't. But you know the proverb about a new broom sweeping
clean. Just now Bob's mind is so full of the sea that he thinks of
nothing else. Wait a while. If he gets away with Captain Spark
without playing some sort of a trick before he goes I'll be
"I think he will. I'm so glad the captain came to pay us a visit
when he did. It was a lucky thing for Bob."
"I think it was. He was getting quite reckless in his pranks."
The subject of this conversation was, of course, not aware of it.
The truth was that Bob was fairly holding himself in. He saw many
opportunities to play jokes--more, in fact, than he had ever seen
before. It was a great temptation to indulge in pranks, but he
reflected that if he got into any more trouble he might not be
allowed to take the sea voyage.
"And I wouldn't want that to happen for the world," he said to
himself. "Still I know a couple of dandy jokes I could play before
I go. Maybe I might get Ted Neefus to do 'em, but I don't believe
he could do 'em as good as I can."
Bob was pondering over the rather queer fact to him that old folks
don't care half as much for jokes as boys do, when his mother asked
him to go on an errand for her. This was to take a message to Mrs.
Dodson, who lived in a large house on a hill just outside the
village. She was quite wealthy, and Mrs. Henderson used to do some
fine embroidering for her.
Bob, who was always ready to oblige his mother, took the package of
sewing and the note which went with it and started off. On the way
he passed the wagon of a certain old crusty farmer he knew. The
vehicle was in front of a house where the farmer had gone to sell
some butter and eggs. Dangling from the back of the wagon was a
long rope, and it was a great temptation to Bob to take the rope and
tie one of the rear wheels so that It would not revolve. The
farmer, coming out in a hurry, would not notice it, and would wonder
what was the matter when he started to drive off.
"But I guess I'd better not," thought Bob with a sigh. "He'd be sure
to tell dad, and then I'd be in more trouble. I've got a pretty
good reputation since the donation supper, and I don't want to spoil
Bob delivered the embroidery and note to Mrs. Dodson, and was on his
way back home when he saw Susan Skipper, Mrs. Dodson's hired girl,
and Dent Freeman, the hired man of the place, washing the big front
windows of the house--that is, Dent was washing them, perched upon a
step-ladder, for Susan was quite heavy and was afraid to trust
herself very high in the air. However, she was doing her share by
handing up pails of warm water to Dent.
Now Dent and Susan, as Bob well knew, were what the country people
call "sweet" on one another. Susan was very fond of the hired man,
and as for Dent, he thought there never had been a better cook than
Susan. They lost no chance of talking to each other, and as the
window-cleaning operations afforded them a good opportunity, they
were taking advantage of it.
All at once a daring plan came into Bob's mind. It seemed as if he
could not resist it, for he thought of what he considered a fine
As he was well acquainted with the hired man and cook he walked
toward them. Perhaps he would not have been flattered if he had
heard what they said as he approached.
"Here comes that Henderson lad," remarked Dent. "He's allers up to
some trick. Look out for him, Susan."
"Oh, I can look out for myself. It's you that wants to be cautious.
He'd just like to spill your pail of water."
So they did not look with much favor on Bob's appearance. However,
Bob, once he had set his mind on a bit of mischief, knew how to
carry it through.
"Hello, Dent," he said good-naturedly. "Dad wants to know if you
have any more of that rheumatic medicine you made. It fixed him up
in great shape."
This was true enough, though Mr. Henderson had not given the message
to Bob that day, having some time previously requested him to
deliver it the first chance he got.
"Sure I have some more," replied the hired man. If he was open to
flattery on any point, it was on his skill as a maker of rheumatism
cures. He had tried several, and had at last decided that he had
hit on one that was infallible. He had a notion of setting up in
the drug business. "I'll get you a bottle if you wait a while,
Bob," he said.
This was not very welcome news to Susan. She wanted to have a
private conversation with Dent, and she could not while Bob was
present. But the boy's plan was not completed.
As he stood idly by the step-ladder, on the top of which was Dent
washing away at the windows, with the pail of warm water beside him,
Bob appeared to be toying with a bit of string.
"I don't s'pose you have any doughnuts left, Susan?" he ventured
Now Susan bad not forgiven Bob for a little joke he had played on
her some time before, so at his hint, to show her displeasure, she
turned her back and did not answer. This was Just what Bob wanted.
Looking up to see that Dent was not observing him, he passed one end
of the string about the step-ladder. Tying it securely, he fastened
the other end to Susan's apron strings in such a manner that it
would not pull off.
"I'll wait for you out in the barn," he said to Dent when it became
evident that Susan was not going to take the hint and get the
doughnuts. In fact, Bob, much as he liked them, would have been
disappointed if she had gone in for some. He wanted to get out of
the way before a certain thing happened.
He strolled off, but instead of going to the barn he hid around the
corner of the house. Susan and Dent conversed for several minutes
longer, the man meanwhile busy at the windows. Then the cook,
hearing her mistress calling her, started for the house in a hurry.
The result was disastrous. As she started off the string tied to
the ladder and her apron tightened. As Susan was a woman of heavy
weight, it did not take much effort on her part to pull over the
ladder, together with Dent and the pail of water.
Dent came down to the ground, fortunately landing on his feet like a
cat. The pail of water described a graceful curve and splashed on
both Susan and the man. The cook, whose feet became tangled up in
the falling ladder, slipped and fell, knocking Dent down, and there
they were in a heap, both soaking wet.
And that was Bob's "joke." Hidden around the corner of the house,
he laughed so he almost betrayed his position.
"Oh, that's too funny!" he whispered. "It was like clowns in a
OFF ON THE TRIP
For a few seconds both the cook and the hired man, whose feet Susan
had knocked from under him, did not move. The suddenness of it all
was too much for them. Then Dent arose after a struggle.
"Did you do that on purpose?" he asked Susan, an angry look coming
over his face.
"Do what on purpose? What do you mean?"
"Did you upset my ladder?"
"Upset your ladder? Well, I guess not! But I'd like to know why
you tried to throw that pail of water over me. If it was meant for
a joke, I think it was a pretty poor one."
The woman started to arise, but found herself somewhat tangled up
in the cord and ladder.
"Throw water on you?" repeated Dent with a puzzled look. "I didn't
throw any water. It got on me as much as it did on you."
This was as near to a quarrel as these two had ever approached.
Bob, listening around the corner of the house, was holding his
sides to keep from bursting into laughter, though my own opinion is
that he should have felt sorry for his "joke." It might have
resulted disastrously, for either Susan or the hired man might have
broken a leg or an arm. But Bob never thought of that. His sole
idea was to create a laugh for himself.
Dent and Susan, dripping wet, looked at each other. Then the cook,
wiping some of the water from her face, got up. As she did so the
cord tied to her apron strings became tightened, and as Dent was
partly standing on the step-ladder, Susan's progress was suddenly
"There!" she exclaimed, "That's what did it. My apron string got
tangled in the ladder."
Dent examined the cord.
"No, it didn't get tangled," he announced. "It was tied there by
some one, and I know who did it."
"Bob Henderson. Wait till I catch him! He did this for a joke.
The young rascal! pretending he wanted some rheumatism medicine for
his father! I'll fix him!"
Bob thought it was time to be moving on. He did not like the tone
of Dent's voice.
But if the boy hoped to get off unseen he was disappointed. As he
started to run he slipped and fell. Dent heard the noise the lad
made, and while Susan was loosening the cord from her apron the man
Bob, however, was up like a flash and ran off, but not before Dent
had nearly caught him. Then the hired man knew it would be of no
use to chase the mischievous lad, as Bob was very fleet of foot.
"You wait!" cried Dent, shaking his fist at Bob. "I'll fix you!"
"You can't!" was the answer. "I'm going on a voyage!"
"I hope you never come back here!" said Dent angrily. "I hope you
get lost on a desert island where there's nothing to eat but
"That would serve him right," added the cook "The idea of hinting
for some of my doughnuts! I'll tell his mother on him."
"And I'll tell his father," added Dent.
Bob was a little afraid lest Mrs. Dodson might come out, and seeing
the state her employees were in, would know the lad had had a hand
in it. The effects might be more unpleasant than they now promised
to be. So Bob hastened his pace, and was soon out of sight of the
big house on the hill. He left behind him two very angry persons,
yet when they glanced at each other neither Susan nor Dent could
help laughing. They looked as if they had been through a cyclone
and cloud-burst, both at the same time, as the hired man expressed
Bob's father did hear of the trick, but not in the way the lad
expected he would. On cooling down neither the hired man nor the
cook felt like going and making a complaint about what Bob had
done. The trick, however, had been witnessed by the coachman, and
he told some friends in the village. In this way it became known
to several persons, and Mr. Henderson heard of it.
"Bob," he said to his son very sternly that night, "I thought you
had given up such foolishness as playing those tricks."
"I thought I had, too, dad, but I couldn't help doing this. Her
apron strings came just in the right place."
"Do you think it was a nice thing to do?"
"No, sir. I s'pose not."
Mr. Henderson sighed. Bob was so frank to acknowledge a fault that
it was hard to punish him.
"I don't know what's going to become of you," he said.
"Well, that was my last land joke, dad."
"Your last land joke? What do you mean?"
"I'm going to sail with Captain Spark soon, and I'll not have time
for any more."
"That's so, and I'm glad of it. If you try any jokes on the
sailors you may find they know a trick or two themselves."
"Oh, I'm going to turn over a new leaf."
"It's about time."
Bob really intended to mend his ways. This, perhaps, was due as
much to a fear of what the sailors on the ship might do to him if
he played any pranks on them as it was to a desire to reform.
That same night Captain Spark arrived at the Henderson home a
little ahead of time. He announced that his ship was ready to
sail, and that he and Bob would depart the next morning for the
"All ready, Bob?" he asked.
"Aye, aye, sir."
"That's the way to talk. We may have to lay at the dock for a
couple of days longer than I calculated on, but that will give you
a chance to get acquainted with the ship before we strike blue
"That will be good."
With the return of the captain, Bob's visions of a life on the
ocean wave were redoubled.
Mrs. Henderson cried a little when it came time to part the next
morning, and there was a suspicious dampness in the eyes of Mr.
Henderson. Bob also, in spite of the happy life he thought lay
before him, was not altogether devoid of emotion. He felt the
separation more than he thought he would.
"Now be a good boy, Bob," counseled his mother.
"I will." "It's your first long trip, and it certainly is a big
one," spoke his father. "Prove yourself a man, Bob."
"I'll try, sir."
Bob felt new responsibilities now, and made any number of good
"Ahoy, my hearties!" called the bluff, cheerful voice of Captain
Spark. "Heave up the anchor, brace around the yards, for we've got
a good wind, a free course and a fair sky!"
And with a chorus of good-bys the two started off toward the depot.
The trip was begun.
THE "EAGLE" SAILS
Bob had often been on railroad journeys, so there was nothing
especially interesting about the first part of his trip. But his
mind was so taken up with what was to follow that even the familiar
scenes as the train sped on out of the village seemed full of
delight to him.
"Well, I s'pose you've been pretty steady since I've been gone,
haven't you, Bob?" asked the captain, following a rather long pause.
"Well, pretty good, I guess. I only played one joke."
"What was It?"
Bob related the circumstances of the step-ladder, the cook and the
"Hum," remarked the commander of the _Eagle_ reflectively. "So they
came down in a heap, eh, and the water splashed all over 'em?"
"Yes," replied Bob, trying not to chuckle at the recollection.
"Hum," remarked the captain again, and he seemed to be having some
difficulty with his breathing. Bob wondered if his friend was
choking, he was so very red in the face, but he did not know that
the mariner was trying hard not to laugh. The thought of the sight
of the pair tangled up in the step-ladder was too much for him,
though he did not want to encourage Bob in his reckless ways by
showing enough interest to laugh.
"By the way," went on the captain suddenly, becoming rather solemn,
"I s'pose you've learned the principal parts of the ship by now?"
"By names, yes, sir. But I'm afraid I've got lots yet to learn."
"I should say you had. You know about as much how to sail a ship as
I would how to run a steam-engine from seeing a tea-kettle boil."
Captain Spark believed in making boys know their place, and he made
up his mind he had a hard subject in Bob. Still, he was determined
to reform him if it was possible.
"When do you expect to get into the Southern Pacific?" asked Bob, as
he thought of the secret map Captain Obed had given him.
"It all depends on what weather we have. Why?"
"Here's something a friend of mine gave me," said Bob, pulling out
the wrinkled piece of parchment. "He says there is treasure buried
on an island in the Southern Pacific."
"Treasure? Let me see."
Captain Spark looked critically at the rather faint tracing of lines
on the yellow sheet.
"I'm afraid somebody has been playing a joke on you, or on Captain
Obed," he remarked, handing the parchment back, after Bob had told
him how he became possessed of it.
"Yes. That's a map, sure enough, but no sailor could ever find the
island by those directions."
"I said he never could. Perhaps I should have said he might by
accident. Why, look, Bob. Whoever made this map only marked the
location of the Island by degrees; that is the degree of longitude
and that of latitude. Every circle is divided into three hundred
and sixty degrees, and as the earth is round, It follows that a
circle drawn around it would be the same. Each degree therefore
means a distance at the equator of about seventy miles. So unless
whoever drew this map is positive that the island is exactly at the
intersection of the degrees of latitude and longitude which you have
given me, it might be seventy miles one way or the other off from
the location given here. And seventy miles is a good distance on
the water. Besides, the map only states that the location is
'about' right. I guess we'll never find that treasure, Bob. I
don't believe it's there."
"Would you think it worth trying for?"
"I don't believe I would. I might have to sail around for a week
merely to locate the island, and the chances would be I'd miss it.
Then if I did find it, it would be very unlikely that anything would
be buried there. I don't take any stock in those Captain Kidd
yarns. There's too many of 'em being spun by retired sailors. If
Captain Kidd had any money, he took good care of it, you can wager.
Besides, I haven't any time to fool around looking for an island. I
have to get my cargo to port on time."
Bob was a little disappointed that he could not take part in a
search for Captain Obed's treasure, but he reflected that what
Captain Spark said was probably right, resides, no one ever believed
the stories Captain Obed told. The aged man's mind was not to be
During the remainder of the journey by rail Captain Spark gave Bob
some good advice as to how to conduct himself while aboard the ship.
He imparted some useful information concerning navigation, and
promised to show Bob more about it after they had sailed.
"I'm anxious to get out on deep water," said the mariner. "I don't
like this city life. There are too many risks in it."
In due time they arrived at the seaport town, and, having seen that
Bob's baggage would be transported to the dock, Captain Spark led
the way to where the _Eagle_ was waiting the hoisting of her white
sails to catch the ocean breezes.
The ship was a large one, square-rigged, and had three masts, it
being of good tonnage. As the voyage was a long one great care had
to be taken in loading the cargo, and this had caused a little
delay. Not all the freight was aboard yet.
"Well, Mr. Carr, how are things moving?" asked the captain of a
tall, thin man who stood near the gangway as he and Bob went up the
"Very well, sir. I think we shall be loaded by to-morrow."
"I hope so. This lying at dock doesn't suit me. By the way, let me
introduce a friend of mine. This is Bob Henderson. His mother is a
relative of mine, and Bob is taking a voyage for his health. Bob,
this is my first mate, Mr. Carr."
"He looks healthy enough," remarked the first mate as he cordially
shook hands with Bob.
"Things are not always what they look like," replied the captain
with a smile. "Bob found matters rather too lively for him ashore,
and his folks think it will quiet him down to go with me."
"I see," replied Mr. Carr in answer to his commander's sly wink. He
now understood something of the situation.
"I'll leave you here a while," went on the commander to the boy.
"You can look about a bit while I go below and work on my manifest.
Mr. Carr will tell you anything you want to know."
But Bob was so interested in watching the sailors at work stowing
away the cargo, while others were cleaning various parts of the
ship, that he did not ask many questions.
All the rest of that day the loading went on. Bob and the captain
went ashore for their meals, as the commander had some business to
attend to in the port, but Bob spent that night in his bunk. It was
the first time he had ever slept in a ship's berth, and he rather
liked the novelty.
The next day the loading was rapidly proceeded with, and by noon all
the cargo was stowed away.
Captain Spark was below in his cabin, making out the final papers
and waiting for his clearance documents from the harbor master. Mr.
Carr and his assistants were busy getting the _Eagle_ ready to sail,
while Bob stood near the rail, watching with curious eyes everything
that was going on.
While he stood there he saw a short, stout, pale-faced man coming up
the gangplank. The man carried a valise in each hand, while behind
him walked a 'longshoreman with a trunk on his shoulder.
"Now, my man, be very careful of that trunk," urged the short,
stout, pale man. "Don't drop it for the world."
"I'm not going to, sir," and the 'longshoreman attempted to touch
his hat as a mark of respect.
"Don't do that!" exclaimed the nervous man. "You might drop it, and
something would break."
"All right, sir. Very well, sir," and once more the 'longshoreman
made as if to touch his hat. It was a habit of his to do this
whenever spoken to by those who employed him.
"There you go again!" cried the man in rather whining tones. "Don't
do it, I say! There! Keep your hands on the trunk!"
Seeing that this last order was obeyed, the nervous man advanced up
the gangplank. He came on deck, set his two valises very carefully
down, watched the 'longshoreman place the trunk on end, as if it
contained eggs, and then he asked of Bob:
"Is this ship the _Eagle_?"
"Are you sure now? I don't want any mistake made. I don't see the
name on it anywhere."
"It is on the bows and under the stern."
Bob rather prided himself on this nautical knowledge.
"Hum! Well, perhaps it may be. You are positive it is the _Eagle_?"
"Yes, sir. Positive. A distant relative of my mother is the
"Is it Captain Spark?"
"Are you sure? I don't want to be on the wrong ship."
"Yes, sir, I am very sure, I came on board with him. Are you going
to sail on the ship?" asked Bob politely.
"I expect to, if this is the right vessel. I wish I was sure.
Perhaps you might be mistaken," and he glanced nervously around.
"No, I am positive. There is Captain Spark now," he added as the
commander came up a companionway.
"Oh, yes. I shall speak to him."
The nervous man started off. Just then Captain Spark, having
received his clearance papers by messenger, gave orders to cast off.
The _Eagle_ was about to sail.
"All ashore that's going ashore!" called the first mate.
The 'longshoreman started down the gangplank which was about to be
"Wait, I must pay you!" called the nervous passenger, turning back
toward the man who had brought his trunk aboard.
The 'longshoreman waited.
"Cast off that stern line!" shouted the captain.
"Oh, dear! I wish I was sure this was the _Eagle_!" spoke the
"It is," Bob assured him, smiling at the man's manner. First he
would advance a little way toward the captain, intending to ask him
the momentous question; then he would turn toward the 'longshoreman,
who was waiting for his money.
"Lively with that gangplank now!" ordered the commander.
"Oh, if I have made a mistake and gotten on the wrong ship it will
be terrible," murmured the man.
"Why don't you throw off that stern line?" again shouted the captain.
"What shall I do?" exclaimed the nervous man.
"If you're goin' t' pay me, your honor, you'll have t' hustle,"
advised the 'longshoreman.
"I will, my man. Never mind touching your hat. Oh, you are not
carrying my trunk now; I forgot. Here's a dollar. Never mind the
"All ashore that's going ashore!" yelled Mr. Carr again.
Up came the gangplank. The 'longshoreman leaped over the side of
the ship and landed on the dock. There was a puffing from the tug
that had been engaged to pull the _Eagle_ out into the channel.
"Are you sure this is the right ship?" appealed the man to Bob once
"Positively yes, sir. Anyhow, it's too late now."
"Too late? How? What do you mean?"
"I mean that we're under way now."
The nervous passenger ran to the side and looked over. True enough,
the _Eagle_ was some distance from the wharf. The tug was straining
on the big hawser. The ship had begun her long voyage around Cape
SOME JOKES ON BOB
Seeing that he was now indeed afloat, and that the ship was some
distance from land, the man became more nervous than ever. He
paced up and down the deck, looking anxiously at the fast-receding
Suddenly he ran toward the bow of the ship and leaned far over the
"Hey there!" yelled Bob, thinking the man was going to Jump
overboard and swim ashore. "What are you doing?"
"I was trying to see the name of the vessel," answered the man,
whose face was now red instead of pale, caused by his exertion in
bending over the rail.
"You can't see it by leaning over," replied Bob. "It's painted
away up by the figurehead."
"I know I can't see it," answered the nervous passenger. "Oh, I
wish I was sure."
"I tell you you're on the _Eagle_," declared Bob. "Can't you take
"When you get as old as I am, and have been through as much
trouble, you'll never take anybody's word for anything," was the
answer. "I must be sure. I'm off for a long voyage, and I don't
want to make a mistake."
"You're not making any mistake if you want to be aboard the
_Eagle_. Here comes Captain Spark now. You can ask him."
At that moment the commander, having seen his vessel well under
way, came to where Bob and the nervous passenger were standing.
"Is this Mr. Hiram Tarbill?" asked the mariner, holding out his
"Yes, sir. Are you Captain Jeremiah Spark?"
"That's who I am."
"Is this the schooner _Eagle_, bound around Cape Horn?"
"Yes, sir, with a mixed cargo consigned to various firms in Lima,
Peru. Would you like to look at my papers?"
"No, I guess it's all right," and Mr. Tarbill seemed much relieved.
"You see, my train was late," he went on, "and I came aboard in
such a hurry that I was not sure I was on the right ship. I
dislike to make mistakes, especially as my health is not very good."
"Yes, you're on the right ship," Captain Spark assured Mr. Tarbill.
"Now if you'll come with me I'll show you to your stateroom. But
first let me introduce to you a relative of mine," and he presented
"Yes, I have been talking with him," said Mr. Tarbill. "He assured
me I was on the right vessel, but I did not know whether he knew or
"Oh, yes, Bob knows that much about the ship. But he's going to
learn more soon."
The captain conducted the nervous passenger to the stateroom set
apart for him and then came back on deck.
"What do you think of him?" he asked Bob.
"He seems all right, but very nervous."
"That's the trouble. He's too nervous. His doctor recommended him
to take a long sea voyage to see if it would cure him. I think it
will. I never knew a sailor who was nervous, and it's all because
of the salt water. Now, Bob, amuse yourself as best you can until
the tug drops us. I have several matters to attend to. After a
bit I'll give you some regular duties to perform every day. They
will not be hard, but I shall expect you to perform them as well as
you are able. While in the main this is a pleasure trip for you,
undertaken for a purpose with which you are familiar, I want you to
derive some benefit from it. Don't you think that wise?"
"Yes, sir," answered Bob, who had formed several good resolutions
regarding his future conduct.
"Very well, then. You can roam about the ship at your pleasure
until I am ready for you."
Now a ship is one of the best places in the world for the
circulation of news. It is a little village in itself, and what
happens in the captain's cabin, though there may be a desire to
keep it secret, is soon known in the forecastle, or "fo'kesel," as
the sailors pronounce it. Consequently it was not long before it
was known that Bob was being sent on the voyage to reform him for
certain roguish tricks to which he was addicted. This was known to
the majority of the crew before the ship sailed.
Consequently they were not only on their guard against any pranks
which the boy might try to perpetrate, but several of the younger
men resolved to give Bob a taste of his own medicine.
There was some whispering among members of the crew as they
observed Bob strolling about the deck, and one of the men said
something to Mr. Carr. The first mate nodded and smiled. A little
later, as Bob was watching the men coil up the big hawser which the
tug had cast off, the _Eagle_ now proceeding along under her own
sails, one of the sailors stepped up to him.
"Would you mind doing us a favor?" he asked respectfully.
"Of course not. I'll do anything I can for you," answered Bob,
glad to make the closer acquaintance of the men.
"Then would you kindly go to Captain Spark and ask him for a
left-handed marlinspike? We need it to splice this hawser with.
He keeps it in his cabin because there's only one on board and it's
quite a valuable instrument."
The man spoke as gravely as a judge.
"A left-handed marlinspike?" repeated Bob. "I suppose one of the
sailors must be left-handed," he thought.
He knew what a marlinspike was from having seen the men use the
sharp-pointed irons to pick apart the strands of rope preparatory
to splicing, so, anxious to be of service, he hurried to Captain
"The men sent me for a left-handed marlinspike," he said,
interrupting the commander, who was busy over his accounts.
"A left-handed marlinspike," repeated the commander, at once
understanding the joke.
"I'm sorry," was the answer, gravely given, "but I lost it
overboard a while ago. You'd better go to Mr. Carr and ask him for
the scuttle-butt. That will do as well."
"Yes, sir," replied Bob, who, not suspecting anything, hunted up
the first mate and made his request.
"You'll find it right over there," said Mr. Carr, pointing to a big
water barrel on deck. It was one from which the sailors drank.
"If it's too heavy for you, you'd better get help," said Mr. Carr,
trying not to smile. But Bob was aware now that he had been made
the butt of a joke, and though he felt a little embarrassed, he had
to laugh in spite of himself.
"That's pretty good," he said. "A left-handed marlinspike turns
into a scuttle-butt, and that turns into a water barrel. I've got
lots to learn yet."
He could hear the sailors laughing at the trick they had played,
with the consent of the first mate, and with a grim smile Bob
resolved to get even.
BOB TRIES A PRANK
The _Eagle_ was sailing along under a spanking breeze, and already
the motion of Old Briny was beginning to make itself felt. The
vessel rolled to a considerable degree, and as she passed farther
and farther out to sea this became more pronounced.
Bob, who had been active in visiting different parts of the ship,
watching the sailors at their duties, and picking up bits of
information here and there, soon got over his little indignation
against those who had played the joke on him. But he soon became
conscious of another feeling.
This was a decidedly uneasy one, and for the first time since he
had begun to think of the voyage Bob began to fear he was going to
"I certainly do feel queer," said our hero to himself as he leaned
against the railing amidships. "I wonder what I'd better do?
Perhaps I'm moving around too much. I'll keep quiet."
He sat down on a hatch cover and tried to think of other things.
The sea was beginning to turn blue--the blue of deep water--and the
sun was shining brightly. There was a strong wind and a healthful
smell of salt in the air.
Still Bob did not appear to care for any of those things. His own
feelings seemed to increase.
"Sitting still is worse than moving around," he began to think.
Just then Mr. Carr passed the boy.
"What's the matter?" he asked. "You look rather white about the
"I--I don't feel very well," replied Bob.
"Better go and lie down then. I guess you're in for a spell of
seasickness. Mr. Tarbill has already got his."
Bob thought it would be best to follow the advice. He went to his
berth, and soon he was a very sick boy. He would have given up all
his chances of rounding the Horn--yes, he would even have
sacrificed his share in the rather mythical treasure of Captain
Obed--if he could only have found some place that was not heaving,
pitching and tossing. But the ship rolled on, and the motion
seemed to increase rather than diminish.
It was a week before Bob was entirely well. During that time he
stayed in his bunk, but Captain Spark saw to it that the boy was
well looked after and doctored with such simple remedies as are
used in that common form of illness, which attacks nearly all who
first venture upon the sea.
At the end of the week Bob found that he could stand up without
feeling his head go buzzing around. He ventured out on deck, and
the salt breeze brought some color into his pale cheeks.
"You sort of look as if you had been drawn through a knothole,"
remarked Tom Manton, one of the sailors.
"Yes, old Father Neptune has been playing tricks on him, I reckon,"
added Sam Bender, the second mate.
"I feel as if I had been drawn through two knot-holes, one right
after the other," spoke Bob, with an attempt at a smile.
"You'll soon be all right again now," comforted Tom. "Get a little
salt horse and sea biscuit down for a foundation, and you can build
up on that the finest thing in the way of a meal you ever saw."
For the first time since his illness Bob could think of food
without a shudder. He really began to feel hungry. The old sailor
proved a good prophet. Bob began to mend steadily, and in a few
days he was as active as ever--more so, in fact.
"Now's the time to look for trouble," remarked Captain Spark to his
mate one day.
"Bob is himself again. He'll be up to some tricks or I'm a
Dutchman. But we must meet him half way. Give him back some of
his own coin. He's on this voyage to be cured, and I'm going to do
it If I have to keelhaul him."
"I guess the men will be only too anxious to do their share. They
like Bob, but he mustn't play too many pranks on them."
"No. Well, I guess they can look out for themselves."
"I guess so," answered the mate with a smile. Later that day
Captain Spark instructed Bob in some simple duties which would be
his to perform during the voyage. He was to act in the capacity of
Now that Bob was in his usual spirits he began to feel an
inclination to be at some of his pranks. He thought, with a sigh,
that he had not played a good joke since the affair of the
step-ladder, the cook and the hired man. So he began to look about
and consider the possibilities of indulging in some pranks,
But Bob had about made up his mind not to bother the sailors. He
was a little afraid of them, as they were big, strong men, and he
had a suspicion that they were only waiting for him to begin
operations before they would do something on their own account.
Bob had an idea they might tie him to a rope, throw him overboard
and duck him.
That, he thought, would be pretty harsh treatment.
"I wish Mr. Tarbill would come from his stateroom," Bob mused. "I
guess it would be safe to play a little joke on him. I've simply
got to have some fun."
Mr. Tarbill had suffered very much from seasickness, though he was
now recovered. He came on deck the next day, but he was more
nervous than ever.
"Oh, my!" he exclaimed as a big wave struck the _Eagle_, heeling
her over considerably. "Are we going down?"
"Oh, I guess not," replied Bob confidently. He and Mr. Tarbill
were together on the quarterdeck. The nervous passenger's fears
gave Bob an idea.
"I'll give him a real scare," thought the boy. "Maybe it will cure
him of being nervous."
My reader can easily understand that Bob had one thought for Mr.
Tarbill and two for himself.
The boy considered matters a few minutes, during which time the
nervous passenger seemed to grow more and more frightened of the
big waves, which had been piled up by quite a heavy blow the
Presently Bob went to the after-rail and looked intently into the
water. Then he uttered an exclamation.
"Oh! Oh!" he cried. "It's coming right after us! Have you a
revolver, Mr. Tarbill?"
"A revolver? What for? What is coming after us, my dear young
"A big whale! He's just under the surface of the water! He's
trying to break off the rudder! Quick, give me your revolver!"
"I haven't any! Oh, dear! I'm so nervous! Do you think he will
damage the ship, my dear young friend?"
"I'm afraid so! Look out! Hold on! Here he comes!"
Bob pretended to grasp the rail to prevent being tossed overboard
by the expected shock. Mr. Tarbill did the same, and with anxious
fears waited for what would happen next. Then the ship seemed to
give a great shiver as a big wave struck under the port bow.
"He's hit us!" cried Bob, trying not to laugh.
"Quick! Get me a life-preserver!" exclaimed Mr. Tarbill. "A
life-preserver! The ship is sinking!"
[Illustration: "A life-preserver! The ship is sinking!"]
"What's all the excitement about?" suddenly asked Captain Spark,
appearing at the head of the ladder that led to the quarterdeck.
"The ship has been struck by a monster whale!" exclaimed the
nervous passenger, "He's rammed us, captain, and I'm going to get a
life-preserver! Then I must save my valuables in my cabin!"
He rushed from the deck, while the captain, with a grim look on his
face, glanced at Bob, who burst into laughter.
MR. TARBILL GETS A SHOCK
"This is one of your 'jokes,' I suppose," remarked the captain.
"Yes. It was too funny," answered Bob. "He really believed a
whale was after us."
"Do you think it was a good thing to do, alarm him so?"
"I--er--well, I thought it might do his nerves good," stammered Bob.
"Hum!" murmured the captain. "I must say, Bob, you have a queer
idea of what is good for the nerves. Now I can't allow this. Mr.
Tarbill is a guest of mine, and I will not have his comfort
interfered with. He is taking a voyage for his health, and I don't
want him annoyed."
"I'm sorry," began Bob, always ready to repent, though usually it
did not last long.
"Then don't do it again."
"I'll not, sir. I didn't think he'd believe me."
"He knows very little about the ocean. In fact, there are some
things you don't know, and, if they wanted to, some of the old
sailors could spin you yarns that would make your hair stand up."
"I wish they would then," said Bob. "I like sea stories, captain."
"I guess I'll have to take stronger measures with him," thought the
commander as he walked forward.
A few minutes later Mr. Tarbill rushed up on deck. He had a
life-preserver strapped about him, and in either hand was a valise,
while over his shoulder was some spare clothing he had not had time
to pack in the satchels.
"Are the lifeboats ready?" he asked of Mr. Carr, who was the first
person he met on deck.
"The lifeboats? What for?"
"Why, the ship has been rammed by a whale and is sinking."
"Who told you so?"
"That boy, Bob Henderson."
"I thought so!" exclaimed the mate. "That's one of his so-called
'jokes.' There's no danger, Mr. Tarbill. That was only a big wave
that hit us. You are perfectly safe."
"Are you sure?"
"Don't you think I had better see the captain and ask him about it
before I take off my life-preserver?"
"Oh, no; there is no need of that. The ship is in no danger," and
the mate tried not to smile at the nervous passenger's fears.
"Then if you say so I'll go and take this life-preserver off. It
is quite heavy."
"Do so by all means. The young rascal," added the mate under his
breath as he thought of Bob. "I'll have to teach him a lesson."
Bob was not a little alarmed at the result of his thoughtless
prank. He did not know what the captain might do to punish him,
and in the future he resolved to restrain his impulses.
"Maybe he'll send me home by some passing ship," the boy thought,
"and I wouldn't like that a bit."
The weather was fine for the next few days. The _Eagle_ continued
on her way south, the climate getting warmer and warmer as they
approached the equator. Bob meanwhile had learned much about the
ship and the manner of sailing it. He got the names of the various
ropes and sails by heart, and it would have taken a pretty
ingenious sailor to have sent him on a foolish errand now after
some part of the ship's gear. Captain Spark was encouraged by
Bob's behavior, and began to think the voyage was doing the lad
good. So it was, but the cure was not complete, as you shall see.
Mr. Tarbill resented Bob's joke, and had not spoken to the boy
since the "whale" incident. But Bob did not mind this. There was
plenty to keep him occupied, with his duties to perform and
sailors' stories to listen to.
When they were out about two weeks there came a day when there was
only the lightest breeze, The _Eagle_ barely had steerageway over
the sea, which was as quiet and still as a small lake. The blue
waters sparkled in the bright sun, and as Bob lounged about on deck
he felt a lazy contentment which was probably caused by the near
approach to the tropical zone.
He looked up at the towering masts, and an idea came to him.
"If I could climb up there," he said, "I could have a fine view. I
ought to be able to see a vessel from that height. Guess I'll do
it. I never tried it, but it looks easy, and there's not enough
motion to pitch me off."
With Bob, usually, to think was to act. Looking around to see that
neither the captain nor the mates were in sight to forbid him, he
stepped to the rail, mounted Into the shrouds, or ladders, that are
formed by the wire ropes supporting the mast, and was soon
ascending toward the maintop, the highest point of the largest mast.
It was rather difficult work, but Bob kept on and soon was a great
distance above the deck. He looked around him, noted several ships
which were not visible from below and then glanced down. He saw
Mr. Tarbill come out on deck, and then, more in good spirits than
because he wanted, to cause the nervous passenger a scare, Bob gave
a great shout. Mr. Tarbill looked up, saw the boy far in the air,
clinging to what, at that distance, Seemed but a slender stick, and
then he cried:
"Quick! Somebody come quick!"
"What is it?" shouted Mr. Carr, thinking from the tones of Mr.
Tarbill's voice some one had fallen overboard.
"That boy! That awful boy!" replied the nervous man.
"What about him? Is he overboard? Which side? I'll throw him a
"No, he isn't overboard! He's up there! On the mast! Oh!
Suppose he falls! My nerves are in such a state! This is an awful
shock! What a dreadful boy! I wish he had never come aboard this
ship, or else that I hadn't!"
"Come on up!" cried Bob, all unconscious of the excitement he had
created. "It's fine up here!"
"Oh! I feel as if I was going to faint!" exclaimed Mr. Tarbill,
growing paler than usual.
"Come down, Bob!" ordered Mr. Carr, making a trumpet of his hands.
"If it isn't one thing it's another," thought the mate. "I'll be
glad when this voyage is over."
Bob came down, wondering why he was not allowed to stay at the
maintop for a while longer.
"Oh! Oh!" exclaimed Mr. Tarbill when the boy reached the deck.
"You've given me such a fright!"
"I didn't mean to," replied Bob honestly enough.
"Oh, but you did! I think I'll have to go to my cabin and take some
The passenger left the deck, and Mr. Carr said:
"Don't do that again, Bob."
"No, sir; not if you don't want me to."
"It's too dangerous," added the first mate.
Bob was not very sharply reprimanded by Captain Spark for this
escapade, as the commander realized that the boy meant no harm.
But it was several days before Mr. Tarbill got over the shock.
Urged on by brisk winds the _Eagle_ made excellent speed, and
several days before he calculated he would reach it Captain Spark
found his vessel "crossing the line"; that is, passing over the
imaginary circle which marks the equator. Bob enjoyed his life on
board the ship more than ever, now that the tropics were reached.
The usual pranks were indulged in by the sailors when Father
Neptune came aboard the day the line was crossed, and Bob came in
for not a little horse-play. But he did not mind it, and in turn
he played several jokes on the sailors and was not rebuked. It was
a time of freedom from restraint.
Continuing on south, the _Eagle_ passed from the hot region, and
once more was in the temperate zone. But now the weather, which
had been fine for several weeks, began to show signs of a change.
"We'll soon be in for a troublesome time," said the captain as he
sat in the main cabin one night, looking over some charts.
"How?" asked Bob.
"We're approaching the Horn. To navigate the Straits of Magellan
is no small matter. There are always more or less storms in that
region, and I wish I was well through it."
"Then we're liable to have a hard passage?" "More than likely."
The captain's fears were verified. A few days later, when they
were within a hundred miles of the dreaded Straits, it began to
blow. There was a steady increase to the wind, and Captain Spark
wore an anxious look as he paced the quarterdeck.
Still there seemed to be nothing more than a heavy blow, and Bob
was beginning to hope they might get through with less trouble than
the commander anticipated. The captain had decided to try the
passage of the Straits rather than to actually go around Cape Horn.
But it was not to be. The next day, toward evening, when they were
preparing to navigate the difficult passage, there came a veritable
Fortunately Captain Spark had in a measure anticipated it, and had
taken in sail, bending on some heavy storm canvas which, small as
it was, sent the ship ahead at a terrific pace.
As night came on the _Eagle_ was seen to be in a mass of swirling,
tumbling waves which seemed anxious to overpower the stanch craft.
Mr. Tarbill was in a great fright. He tried to stay in his cabin,
but when the ship began to pitch and toss he could not stand it.
So donning a life-preserver, he came on deck. Here he was much in
the way, for the sailors had to be constantly rushing here and
there, making ropes fast and attending to their duties. To add to
the discomforts of the situation, it began to rain in torrents.
"Oh, I know we're going to sink!" cried the nervous passenger. "Do
you think it will be soon, captain?"
"What soon?" asked the commander, who was too busy to pay much
attention to Mr. Tarbill. "Will we sink soon?"
"Sink? We're not going to sink at all if I can help it! This is no
worse than lots of storms. You had better go to your cabin and lie
"Oh, I wouldn't dare to! The ship might sink while I was there. I
know we'll get caught in a whirlpool, or in a waterspout, or some
other dreadful thing! This is terrible! Awful! Fearful!"
The wind was increasing, and great waves dashed over the _Eagle's_
"It's bad luck to have such a storm-croaker as that aboard,"
murmured one of the sailors. "He's a regular Jonah!"
"I wish he'd go below," muttered the captain, and Bob overheard
him. "He's frightening every one up here, and we're going to have
a hard enough time as it is without a nervous man on deck."
Bob, though he was frightened at the storm, which was constantly
growing worse, determined to stick it out. He wanted to see what
would happen. But he saw a chance to do a service to the captain,
though it would involve playing an innocent trick on Mr. Tarbill.
Accordingly, when there came a little lull in the wind, Bob made
his way to where the nervous passenger stood with his back braced
against a deckhouse.
"It'll be here pretty soon now," said Bob, shouting to make himself
heard above the noise of the storm.
"What will, my dear young friend?" asked Mr. Tarbill, forgetting
his former anger at Bob under the stress of the circumstances. "Do
you mean to tell us anything else is going to happen?"
"Something surely is, Mr. Tarbill," said Bob, with an air of great
earnestness, moving closer to the man, so as to get away from the
driving rain, as Mr. Tarbill stood under shelter.
"What is coming? Do tell me. I am so very nervous."
"The Jilla-Jilly wind! We'll be in the midst of it soon. You'd
better look out!"
"The Jilla-Jilly wind? For mercy sakes, what's that?"
"It's a kind of a hurricane," said Bob, inventing something on the
spur of the moment. "Only, instead of blowing straight ahead or
around in a circle it blows up and down. It's liable to snatch you
right up to the clouds, or suck you down into the ocean!"
"That is terrible, my dear young friend!"
"Terrible! I should say it was!"
"What had I better do?"
"You'll surely be blown overboard if you stay on deck. That
Jilla-Jilly wind is the most terrible wind you ever heard of!
We'll soon strike it! There, that sounds like it now! Don't you
feel as if you were being lifted up?"
The nervous fears of Mr. Tarbill made him anticipate almost any
sensation that was vividly described to him. He was in such a
state of mind that he would have believed almost anything he heard.
"Yes! Yes!" he exclaimed. "I feel it coming! Oh, dear! What
shall I do?"
"Go below quickly!" yelled Bob, for that was the object he had in
mind in inventing the Jilla-Jilly wind for the occasion.
"I will! I'll go at once!" And, holding on to hand-lines which
had been stretched about the deck for safety, the nervous passenger
made his way to his cabin, while the ship tossed more than ever.
WRECK OF THE SHIP
Though the vessel was in great danger Bob could not help smiling at
the success of his prank. When Mr. Tar-bill, with every evidence
of terror, had left the deck, Bob crept cautiously forward to peer
ahead into the wild waste of waves that threatened to overwhelm the
"If it isn't a Jilla-Jilly wind, it's almost as bad," thought our
hero. If he had known more about the ocean and its terrors he
would have been more frightened than he was. If it was not exactly
an instance of "where ignorance is bliss, 'tis folly to be wise,"
it was, in Bob's case, the next thing to it.
"Wow! That was a bad one!" exclaimed the boy, as an
extraordinarily large wave made the ship tremble.
At the same instant a frightened shriek rang out through the
darkness. It was one full of terror.
"It's got me! It's got me!" yelled the voice. "What in the world
is that?" shouted Captain Spark above the din of the storm. "Is
some one overboard?"
"Sounds like Mr. Tarbill," replied the mate, putting his lips close
to the captain's ear, so as to be heard.
"Maybe something has happened to him," suggested the commander.
"Better look after him, Mr. Carr. We shall do very well for the
time being. We've got her before the gale now, and she's scudding
along very nicely."
Once the first fury of the storm was past, and it settled down to a
steady blow, Captain Spark knew how to handle his vessel. Mr. Carr
went below. He found Mr. Tarbill in the main cabin, pacing to and
fro and starting nervously at every unexpected lurch of the ship.
"Is it blowing? Is the ship going up or down?" asked the nervous
"Is what blowing?"
"The Jilla-Jilly wind!"
"The Jilla-Jilly wind?" repeated the mate in wonder, thinking Mr.
Tarbill might be out of his head.
"Yes, Bob told me about it. It blows up and down and is liable to
take one up Into the clouds or down into the ocean."
"What nonsense! Look here, Mr. Tarbill, that was one of Bob's
jokes. I'll scold him for this."
Yet, secretly, the mate was not sorry that Bob's trick had been
effective in getting the frightened man off the deck.
"Then there isn't any such wind?"
"Of course not. Don't be frightened."
"Is the ship in any danger?"
"Well, to be honest, I can't say that she is not. There is always
danger in a storm such as this is, particularly near Cape Horn.
But we're doing our best."
"Oh! I knew something was going to happen!"
"What's going to happen?" asked the mate. "You must not be so
"Oh! I wish I had never come on this dreadful voyage!"
Mr. Carr wished the same on behalf of the nervous man, but he said
nothing. The mate soon went back on deck, where he found plenty to
do, as one of the storm sails had blown off the bolt ropes and
another canvas had to be bent on. Captain Spark had sent Bob
below, as it was risky for any one but an experienced sailor to
move about the constantly sloping deck.
That night was one of terror. First the storm seemed to abate, and
then it began again with redoubled violence. Once the _Eagle_ was
almost on her beam ends, but skilful handling brought her once more
up into the teeth of the wind and she rode the waves lightly, like
the gallant craft she was.
The nervousness of Mr. Tarbill increased. He would not stay alone
in his cabin, and finally begged for Bob to keep him company. Bob
was a little diffident about going in, after the trick he had
played, but the nervous passenger seemed to forget all about that.
The two sat up and talked instead of going to their berths, for
sleep was out of the question amid the howling of the gale.
It was nearly morning when Captain Spark, wearing an anxious look,
came into the cabin.
"Has the ship foundered? Has it sprung a leak?" asked Mr. Tarbill,
for he saw that something was troubling the commander.
"No, we are safe yet," replied Mr. Spark gravely. "But I think you
had better put on life-preservers."
"Why?" asked Bob, beginning to feel a nameless fear.
"We are approaching a dangerous reef. If this wind holds we can
barely wear off enough to pass it. If we strike it that will be
the last of the _Eagle_. We are going to do our best to wear the
ship off, but we may not succeed. It is best to be prepared."
At this ominous warning Mr. Tarbill seemed to collapse. However,
with Bob's help he donned one of the cork jackets, and the boy did
likewise. Captain Spark would not allow them on deck, but promised
to give them timely warning if the ship struck.
Then came an hour of anxious waiting. Outside there sounded the
dash of rain, the screaming of the wind, and the rush of sailors
about the deck as they hastened to obey the captain's commands.
Then, very gradually, there seemed to come a slack in the storm.
The ship rode more easily, and Bob began to take heart. A little
later Mr. Carr came down into the cabin. He breathed a sigh of
relief as he said:
"We're all right. We've passed the reef and we have nothing more
to fear for the present. The gale is going down."
"That's the best news I've heard in a year!" exclaimed Mr. Tarbill.
"Never again will I take a sea voyage for my health. I've lost
seven pounds to-night, I know I have."
Mr. Carr's words were soon verified. When morning broke the wind
and rain had ceased, though there was still a heavy sea on, which
made the _Eagle_ toss and pitch in a dangerous way.
Bob managed to get out on deck, however, and, through the clear
atmosphere that followed the storm, he saw the dim outlines of
Terra del Fuego--"The Land of Fire"--as part of the end of the
South American continent is called.
They finished the passage of the Straits of Magellan without
further incident. After that it seemed as if their troubles would
be at an end. The sea went down, and, as they made the turn around
the South American coast and once more began to approach the
equator, the _Eagle_ skimmed along like the bird whose name it bore.
"If this weather and the fair breezes keep up," said Captain Spark
one day, "we'll arrive ahead of time."
"I guess you didn't think so during the storm, did you?" inquired
"No indeed! It seemed as if it was going to be touch and go with
us one spell. But how do you like your trip--so far?"
"I'm glad of it. I promised your mother it would do you good, and
I think it will."
Captain Spark was secretly delighted with the success of his
experiment. He thought Bob had given up all his tricks, but that
same day showed how much mistaken he was. The boy, seeing a chance
to have some sport with one of the sailors--a German--sewed up the
sleeves of the man's Jersey. When the man tumbled out of his bunk,
in a hurry to take his watch on deck, he could not understand the
reason why he could not put on his garment.
"Vot's der madder?" he exclaimed, struggling with the sleeves.
"Der vitches haf been at vork! I am bevitched!"
"More like that onery critter of a boy done it," suggested his
messmate, a practical Yankee.
"So? I plays a joke on him, alretty yet. Vatch."
And the German was as good as his word. The next afternoon Bob
suddenly felt himself being pitched over the rail toward the sea.
He yelled and made a grab for the mizzen shroud near which he was
standing, but he suddenly found himself brought up with a round
turn, for the German had caught the boy's feet in a bight of cable,
so that he would not go overboard.
"So!" he exclaimed. "You sews up my sleeves, eh? I t'inks you
don't do so no more! Eh?"
"More tricks!" exclaimed the captain, when matters had been
explained to him, "I wonder if he'll ever be cured?"
But Bob's cure was nearer at hand than either he or the captain
The fine weather continued for a week, during which time the
_Eagle_ made good progress. Then came several days of dead calm,
when they were near the Tropic of Capricorn, and they suffered much
from the heat of the sun.
"I don't like this," remarked Captain Spark one day, as he looked
up at the brassy sky.
"Why not?" asked Bob, with the familiarity of a relative.
"I think this means a storm, and we're in a poor location for a bad
blow. I don't like it."
As the day wore on it became evident that the captain's prophecy
was about to be verified. The wind sprang up suddenly, almost
before sail could be shortened, and the _Eagle_ heeled over until
if seemed as if she would not right. That was the beginning of a
storm that was worse than the other.
Scudding along under mere rags of canvas, the ship headed right
into the swirl of waters agitated by the wind. As night settled
down the captain prepared for the worst. It was evident that he
feared something, and every man was on the alert.
The wind increased, but there was no rain. On and on rushed the
ship, all through the night. The captain seemed to grow more
anxious and would not leave his place at the wheel.
Suddenly, just as the darkness was giving place to the gray light
of morning, the _Eagle_ hit something. A shiver seemed to run
through the whole length of the ship.
"Breakers ahead!" yelled the lookout. "Breakers all around us!"
"I feared as much!" cried the captain. "We've struck on a reef!"
The _Eagle_ seemed to back off, probably the recoil from the blow.
The wind swirled around, and then, once more, the good ship was
driven on the rocks.
Once more she crashed upon the low-lying barrier, and this time an
ominous splintering sound followed. There was a terrific crash,
and the foremast went by the board. At the same time there was a
pounding beneath the bows of the vessel.
"There's a big hole stove in the bows, sir!" cried a sailor,
running to Captain Spark. "The water's coming in fast!"
"I'm afraid we're foundering!" added Mr. Carr.
"Stand by to lower the lifeboats!" yelled the captain. "Every man
to his place!"
With a great crash the mizzen mast went over the side, crushing one
of the lifeboats that hung on davits there.
"What has happened?" yelled Mr. Tarbill, rushing up on deck.
"The _Eagle_ is wrecked," replied the captain, speaking calmly,
though only a sailor could know what anguish the words cost him.
ADRIFT IN SMALL BOATS
The scene was now one of wild excitement. The sailors were working
like Trojans to launch the boats, as it could not be told when the
_Eagle_ would founder. Already she was settling in the water.
For once Mr. Tarbill seemed too stunned to know what to do. Bob
made up his mind to save a few of his own possessions if he could,
and he hurried to his berth.
"Put on a life-preserver, Bob," called the captain to him. The boy
thought of the time when this order had been given before, but not
needed. Now there was real cause for it.
"Oh, Bob! Help me!" pleaded Mr. Tarbill, who was trembling with
"I will. If there's anything valuable in your cabin, you'd better
get it out."
"Everything I have is valuable."
"Well, you can't take it all. The boat won't hold it."
"Have we got to go in small boats out on this dreadful ocean?"
"It's the only way to save our lives."
Mr. Tarbill selected some of his possessions, as did Bob, and then
the only two passengers on the ship, having donned the cork
jackets, went on deck again.
The sailors were busy putting provisions and water into the small
boats, of which, fortunately, there were enough to hold all, even
with the loss of the one the mast had smashed.
"Is there no way of saving the ship?" asked Bob of the captain as
he stood, calm, yet stern, on the quarter-deck.
"No. Her bows are stove in and the foremast has pounded a big hole
in her quarter. The _Eagle_ is doomed. There must be an uncharted
reef about here, or else we were blown off our course."
"Boats are all ready, sir," reported a sailor, running up.
"Very well, tell the men to get in. Mr. Carr will be in command of
one boat, Mr. Bender the other, and I will go in my gig. Bob, you
and Mr. Tarbill will go with me. Pull well away from the wreck,
men, and lay to until we are all together. Then we'll try to get
It was getting lighter now, but the storm showed no signs of
abating. The _Eagle_ was fairly impaled on a sharp point of the
sunken reef and was immovable, but the waves were dashing high over
Suddenly the ship gave a shudder and seemed as if about to tear
herself loose, ready to sink beneath the billows.
"Lively, men!" exclaimed the captain. "She'll not last much
The orders were given to lower the boats. Bob went forward to
watch the work, holding on by stray cables that dangled from the
As the boat of which Mr. Bender was to take charge was being
lowered, one of the ropes in the davit pulley, that at the bow,
fouled, and, as the sailors at the other davit were letting their
line run free, the boat tilted. There was imminent risk of the
oars, sail, and mast, besides the supplies, being spilled out. Bob
saw the danger and sprang forward with a shout, intending to lend a
As he did so a big piece of one of the yards of the broken mizzen
mast which had been hanging by splinters was whipped loose by a
gust of wind and fell almost at his feet, missing him by a small
margin. Had it struck him squarely it would have killed him.
Bob only hesitated an instant, though the narrow escape gave him a
faint feeling in his stomach. Then, before he could make the
sailors understand what the trouble was, he grabbed the rope that
was running free and, taking a turn about a cleat, prevented the
further lowering of the boat.
"Good!" shouted Second-Mate Bender, who had seen what had taken
place. "You saved the boat, Bob. In another second all the stuff
would have been afloat. Lively now, men. Straighten out that line
and lower away. She's settling fast."
In the meanwhile Mr. Carr had succeeded in lowering his boat, and
he and his men were in it. The crew of the captain's gig were busy
with that craft, and it was all ready to lower.
"Get in, Bob," said the commander of the _Eagle_. "And you too,
"Aren't you coming?" asked Bob.
"I'm the last one in," was the sad answer, and then the boy
understood that the captain is always the last to leave a sinking
"Shall we get in before you lower it?" asked Bob of the sailors who
stood at the davit ropes.
"Yes. We can lower it with you two in. The captain and we can
slide down the ropes. We're used to it, but it's ticklish business
for land-lubbers." And the man grinned even in that time of terror.
Captain Spark had gone to his cabin for his log book, the ship's
papers, and his nautical instruments. As he came out the red sun
showed for an instant above the horizon.
"If we had seen that a few hours sooner we wouldn't be here now,"
remarked the commander sadly. "But it's too late now."
The other boats had pulled away from the wreck. Bob and Mr.
Tarbill got into the gig and were lowered to the surface of the
"Take an oar and fend her away from the ship's side a bit," the
captain advised Bob. "Else a wave may smash the gig."
Bob did so. Mr. Tarbill was shivering too much with fear to be of
any help. A few seconds later the two sailors who had lowered the
boat at the captain's orders leaped into the gig as a wave lifted
it close to the _Eagle's_ rail. Then the commander, carrying a few
of his possessions and with a last look around his beloved ship,
made the same jump and was in his gig.
"Pull away," he commanded sorrowfully, and the sailors rowed out
from the foundered ship.
When they were a little way off they rested on their oars. All
around them was a waste of heaving waters. The two other boats
came up, and the occupants looked at the _Eagle_ settling lower and
lower as the water filled her. The wrecked ship, now sunk almost
to her deck level, seemed, save for the three boats, to be the only
object in sight on the bosom of the tumultuous ocean.
"Well, men, give way!" at length called the captain, with a sigh.
"We may be sighted by some vessel, or we may land on an island.
There are several islands hereabouts, if we are not too far away
Then, bending to the oars, the sailors sent the boats away from the
wreck. Bob and his friends were afloat on the big ocean in small
boats that, at any moment, might be swamped by a mighty wave, for
the wind was still blowing hard, though the sun shone brightly in
the eastern sky.
BOB ON AN ISLAND
"Keep together, men!" called the captain, as they pulled away. "We
don't want to lose one another."
"Which way shall we pull, sir?" asked the first mate.
"I'll tell you presently. I'll look at my charts and see if I
can't locate an island somewhere here-abouts. Keep up your
courage. Luckily this didn't happen down in the Straits. At least
we have warm weather here."
For the first time Bob noticed that it was very warm. It had been
so, of course, for several days preceding the wreck, but the
thought that they were in a tropical climate had been forgotten in
the excitement of the foundering of the ship. Now it was a thing
for which to be thankful.
"Oh! Isn't this the most terrible thing that could occur!"
exclaimed Mr. Tarbill, from a seat where he was huddled up. "It is
"It's not half so awful as if we were drowned and in Davy Jones's
locker," remarked the captain. "I've lost my ship and the cargo,
but, fortunately, both were insured. We are lucky to have had time
to get off in the boats, well provisioned as they are. As soon as
this wind goes down a bit we'll hoist the small sails and head for
the nearest land."
The captain was soon busy over his charts. He made some
calculations and announced his belief that there was a group of
islands about a hundred miles off. He could not be sure, for while
they showed on the chart, he could not exactly determine the
position of the ship when she struck, as no observation had been
taken since the previous noon, and the rate of sailing under the
force of the gale was mere guesswork.
So the men rowed on. The _Eagle_ was now a mere blot on the
surface of the ocean--a speck of blackness amid a swirl of foam,
caused by the waves breaking over the ship and the reef. The wind
continued too high to risk raising the sail with which each boat
was provided, and it was slow progress with the oars.
The day was one of terror, for many times waves would break over
the small craft, forcing the men to bail for their lives. Only
cold provisions could be eaten, but in spite of this the little
band of shipwrecked men maintained a cheerful demeanor. As for Bob
he did not deny that he was frightened. He thought with sorrow of
his father and mother and wondered if he would ever see them again.
He and the others had removed their life-preservers, as they did
not need them in the gig.
"That was a plucky thing you did, saving that boat from going down
stern first," complimented the captain, a little later that day
when they were talking over the events of the wreck. "You showed
good judgment, Bob."
"Oh, I guess anybody would have done the same."
"No, they wouldn't. You deserve great credit. Bravery in the face
of danger is bravery indeed. Your father and mother can be proud
There came to Bob's mind a memory of certain times when these words
of the captain would not have been true. He resolved, if his life
was spared, to be a more manly boy in the future--to live up to the
captain's new estimate of him.
Wearily the men labored at the oars. It was hard work to keep the
boats' heads to the waves, which, to those in the small craft,
looked like great green mountains of water. Now the boats would be
down in a vast hollow, with towering walls on either side. Then
the stanch craft would be lifted up and, poising on the crests,
would slide down a watery hill with a sickening feeling, present at
least in the hearts of Bob and Mr. Tarbill, that they were going
straight for the bottom. The nervous passenger sat huddled up in a
heap, scarcely speaking.
The wind seemed to increase as night drew on. The motion of the
captain's gig was such that he could not take an observation, and,
when the blackness settled down, they had no idea where they were,
nor in which direction the nearest land lay.
"I'm afraid we'll be separated in the darkness," said the captain,
"but there is no help for it."
The day of terror was succeeded by a night of peril. The sea and
wind seemed combining to wreck the small boats. The one commanded
by Mr. Carr managed to remain within hailing distance of the
captain's gig, but the other seemed to have disappeared. A
feeling of gloom settled down over the castaways.
It must have been about the middle of the night that Bob, working
his way aft to get a drink of water from one of the casks, stumbled
over part of the sail that was folded in the bottom of the gig. He
put out his hands, instinctively, to save himself, but, as there
was nothing to cling to, he only grasped the air.
Then, with a cry of terror which he could not suppress, he plunged
overboard and was soon struggling in the water.
He went down, but, being a good swimmer, he at once began to strike
out, and as he got his head above the surface and shook the water
from his ears, he heard one of the sailors cry:
"Bob! Bob! Where are you?" shouted the captain. "Here's a
The boy heard a splash in the water near him and struck out for it.
"Back water!" he heard the captain cry.
"Aye, aye, sir!" replied the sailors heartily.
At the same time the captain shouted to Mr. Carr's boat word of
what had happened. Bob was weighted down by his wet clothes and he
felt he could not long keep up, but he was swimming strongly,
hoping every moment one of the boats would pick him up.
"Here I am!" he shouted, but his voice did not carry far above the
wind. He began to have a hopeless feeling, as if he was doomed to
drown there all alone on the vast ocean. A nameless terror seized
him. Then, to his joy, his fingers touched something. It was the
floating cork life-preserver, and he knew he could keep himself up
with it for a long time.
Once more he shouted, but there came no answering hail.
"Have they rowed away and left me?" thought the boy.
He held this idea but for an instant. Then he guessed the truth of
what had happened. The boats had been swept on by wind and wave,
and, in the darkness, it was impossible to see so small an object
as the boy's head in the water.
The sailors in the two boats rowed about, frantically urged on by
"His mother will never forgive me!" he whispered to himself. "I'd
rather have lost a dozen ships than have Bob drown!"
But, though they rowed about the spot where he had disappeared,
neither the captain nor Mr. Carr nor any of the sailors could find
a trace of the boy.
"We'll stand by until morning," decided the commander, and they
began their weary vigil.
Meanwhile Bob was swimming right away from the boats, for he could
not get the right direction in the darkness. He managed to fasten
the life-preserver to him, and with the buoyancy of the cork to aid
him he swam easily, though he did not make very fast progress.
After the first shock of terror was over Bob became calm. He had a
momentary fear of sharks, but he resolved not to think about these
monsters or the sea, as it sent a cold chill over him and he found
he could not swim so well.
"I'll just paddle on until morning," he decided, "and by that time
maybe the men In the boats will pick me up."
So, through the remainder of the night, he swam leisurely. In
spite of the storm it was very warm and the water felt pleasant.
If he had only had an idea of where he was, Bob would not have
minded his position so very much.
It was just getting light when, happening to let his legs down for
an instant to rest them, he felt his feet touch something. At
first he had an unreasoning terror that it might be a big fish--a
whale or a shark--that had come up under him. Then he felt
whatever it was under his feet to be firm and hard. A dim shape
loomed up before him.
"It's land!" exclaimed Bob. "I've struck land! It must be one of
those islands the captain told about and that is the sandy beach my
feet arc touching."
He swam on a little further, and again let down his feet. To his
delight he could stand upright, the water coming to his chest.
Then, as it grew lighter, he could make out a low, sandy shore
lying stretched out before him.
"Land! Land!" exclaimed the boy. "I'm on land! But where are the
FINDING MR. TARBILL
Bob hurried forward as fast as he could through the water, no
longer swimming, but wading. Soon he reached the beach and saw,
beyond it, that the land was covered with green grass, while trees,
which he easily recognized as the kind found in warm countries,
grew to a great height.
"I'm on a tropical island," thought the castaway. "Just like
Robinson Crusoe, only I haven't any of the things he had and the
wreck of the _Eagle_ isn't near enough for me to get anything from
the ship. Still I ought to be thankful I'm not drowned or eaten by
Back to Full Books