The Boy Traders - Harry Castlemon - ebook
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The Boy Traders written by Harry Castlemon who was a prolific writer of juvenile stories and novels. This book was published in 1877. And now republish in ebook format. We believe this work is culturally important in its original archival form. While we strive to adequately clean and digitally enhance the original work, there are occasionally instances where imperfections such as missing pages, poor pictures or errant marks may have been introduced due to either the quality of the original work. Despite these occasional imperfections, we have brought it back into print as part of our ongoing global book preservation commitment, providing customers with access to the best possible historical reprints. We appreciate your understanding of these occasional imperfections, and sincerely hope you enjoy reading this book. 

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The Boy Traders

Sportsman's Club Among the Boers

By

Harry Castlemon

Table of Contents

CHAPTER I.THE SANDWICH ISLANDS.

CHAPTER II.THE GALE.

CHAPTER III.THE LAST OF LONG TOM.

CHAPTER IV.A CHANGE OF PROGRAMME.

CHAPTER V.THE TWO CHAMPIONS.

CHAPTER VI.THE CONSUL’S “CLARK.”

CHAPTER VII.MORE ABOUT THE CLERK.

CHAPTER VIII.ON THE QUARTER-DECK AGAIN.

CHAPTER IX.A YANKEE TRICK.

CHAPTER X. ARCHIE PROVES HIMSELF A HERO.

CHAPTER XI.AN OBSTINATE CAPTAIN.

CHAPTER XII.BUYING AN OUTFIT.

CHAPTER XIII.A SURLY BOER.

CHAPTER XIV.A TROOP OF LIONS.

CHAPTER XV. “WHERE’S MY HORSE?”

CHAPTER XVI.DESERTED.

CHAPTER XVII.CONCLUSION.

The “Stranger” in the Cyclone.

FRANK NELSON SERIES.

CHAPTER I. THE SANDWICH ISLANDS.

“Now, Uncle Dick, what is the matter?”

The captain of the Stranger looked toward the companion-ladder, up which his nephew had just disappeared, and motioned to Frank to close the door.

“That is the fourth time I have seen you look at that barometer during the last half hour,” continued Frank.

“Yes, and I find it lower every time I look at it,” answered the old sailor. “It is coming; trotting right along, too.”

“What is coming? Another tornado?”

“No, a regular old-fashioned cyclone.”

“I declare, it don’t seem to me that the schooner can stand much more pounding,” said Frank, drawing a long breath.

“Oh, she is good for a dozen battles like the one she has just passed through,” continued Uncle Dick, encouragingly. “Give me a tight craft, a good crew, and plenty of elbow-room, and I would much rather be afloat during a storm than on shore. There are no trees, chimneys, or roofs to fall on us here.”

“But we haven’t plenty of elbow-room,” said Frank, somewhat anxiously. “The islands are scattered around here thicker than huckleberry bushes in a New England pasture, and they are all surrounded with coral reefs, too.”

“I know it; but it is our business to keep clear of the coral reefs. Now, let me see how much you know. Where’s the schooner?”

Frank, who now occupied his old position as sailing-master of the vessel, took a chart from Uncle Dick’s desk, and pointed out the position of their little craft, which he had marked with a red lead-pencil after taking his observation at noon.

“Very good,” said Uncle Dick. “Which side of the equator are we?”

“South,” answered Frank.

“How many motions have cyclones?”

“Two; rotary and progressive.”

“Which way do they revolve in the Southern hemisphere?”

“In the same direction that the sun appears to move.”

“Correct. Now, suppose that while you were in command of the Tycoon, you had found out that there was a cyclone coming—”

“I’m afraid I shouldn’t have found it out,” interrupted Frank, “for I don’t know what the signs are.”

“But we will suppose that you knew all about it. After you have seen one or two, you will know how to tell when they are coming. We will suppose, now, that a cyclone comes up, and that the wind blows strongly from the northwest. Which way from you is the centre of the storm?”

“Southwest.”

“And which way is it coming?”

“Toward the southeast.”

“Then if you bore away to the southwest you would escape, of course?”

“No, sir; I should probably insure my destruction, for I should sail straight into the vortex. A northeasterly course would soon take me out of danger.”

“Yes, you would get out of danger that way, but how soon I don’t know. The paths of some of these hurricanes are a thousand miles broad. You’ll do, however, and you are a very good boy to learn your lesson so well.”

“Shall I go to the head?” asked Frank, with a laugh.

The last time we saw the members of the Sportsman’s Club, they had just found Frank Nelson after a long separation from him. Their vessel was lying in the harbor of Honolulu; Captain Barclay, the wounded commander of the whaler, had been taken to a hospital on shore; his ship, the Tycoon, had passed through the hands of the American consul, who placed a new captain aboard of her with orders to take her to the States, where she belonged; and for the first time in long weeks the Club were free from excitement, and had leisure to sit down and calmly talk over the adventures that had befallen them, and the exploits they had performed since leaving home.

They had many things to converse about, as we know, and some of their number had reason to feel elated over what they had done. Walter had been a hero for once in his life, for had he not been captured by robbers, who believed him to be somebody else, been confined in Potter’s ranche, and held as a hostage for the chief of the band who was a prisoner in the fort? That was the worst predicament that Walter had ever been in, and it was no wonder that there was a warm place in his heart for Dick Lewis and Bob Kelly, the men who had rescued him from his perilous situation.

Archie Winters was also a hero, for he had lassoed and ridden the wild horse which had so long defied all efforts to capture him, and would in all probability have given him, in a few days more, into the possession of his lawful owner, Colonel Gaylord, had not he and his two friends, Fred and Eugene, unfortunately stumbled upon Zack and Silas, the trappers who robbed the emigrant. One thing made Archie hug himself with delight every time he thought of the various exciting incidents that happened while he remained in the trappers’ company, and that was, that Zack and Silas did not get the million dollars after all. He laughed outright when he remembered how astounded and enraged they were to find that the box, which they supposed was filled with nuggets and gold-dust, contained nothing but a small brass machine something like the works of a clock. Archie wondered what had become of the hospitable Pike, and whether or not he had succeeded in putting his machine together again, and running his quartz mill with it.

But while the members of the Club gave to Walter and Archie all the credit which their adventures and achievements demanded, they were unanimous in according the lion’s share of praise to Frank Nelson, who had brought himself safely out of a predicament, the like of which the boys had never heard of before. It seemed almost impossible that one who had been “shanghaied” and thrust into the forecastle of a whale-ship to do duty as a common sailor, should, in so short a time and by sheer force of character, have worked his way to the quarter-deck, and into a position for which only men of years and experience are thought to be qualified. But they had abundant evidence that such was the fact. There was a witness in the person of the trapper, who was kidnapped at the same time, and who had escaped in a manner so remarkable that even Uncle Dick, who had seen a world of marvellous things, said the same feat could not be performed again under like circumstances. Besides, the boys had seen Frank on the Tycoon’s quarter-deck, had heard him give orders that were promptly obeyed, had messed with him in his cabin, and he had brought them safely into the harbor of Honolulu, beating the swift little Stranger out of sight on the way.

As for Frank himself, he was very well satisfied with what he had done, and often declared that an adventure which, at first, threatened to terminate in something serious, had had a most agreeable ending. His forced sojourn on the Tycoon and all the incidents that had happened during that time—the sight of the first whale he ever struck coming up on a breach close in front of his boat, and looming up in the air like a church steeple; the excessive fatigue that followed the long hours spent in cutting in and trying out; the sleepless nights; the days and weeks of suspense he had endured; the race and the desperate battle under a broiling sun he had had in Mr. Gale’s boat on the day Captain Barclay deserted him; the fight with the natives at the Mangrove Islands, and the rescue of the prisoners—all these things would have seemed like a dream to Frank now, had it not been for the large callous spots on the palms of his hands, which had been brought there by handling heavy oars and by constant pulling at tarred ropes. The sight of these recalled very forcibly to his mind the days and nights of toil which sometimes tested his strength and endurance so severely that he hardly expected to live through them. Nothing could have tempted him to submit to the same trials again, but now that they were all over and he was safe among friends once more, he would not have sold his experience at any price.

The Stranger remained at the Sandwich Islands three weeks, and during that time the boys saw everything of interest there was to be seen. Eugene, who was impatient to get ashore to see how the “savages” lived, was quite astonished when his brother informed him that the natives were considered to be the most generally educated people in the world; that there was scarcely a man, woman, or child of suitable age among them who could not read and write; that they had contributed a goodly sum of money to the Sanitary Commission during our late war; that they had sent a good many men to serve in our army and navy; and that among them were a brigadier-general, a major, and several officers of lower grade. Eugene could hardly believe it; but when he got ashore and saw the fine hotel erected by the government at a cost of one hundred and twenty thousand dollars, the prison, hospital, churches, and school-houses, he was obliged to confess that he was among civilized people. Frank and Archie were equally astonished at the familiar appearance of things, and told their Southern friends that if they could imagine how Honolulu would look without the bananas, palm, and tamarind trees, they could tell exactly how the majority of New England villages looked.

The first Sunday the Club spent ashore they went to the seaman’s chapel to hear Father Damon preach to the sailors; and the next day they hired horses, a pack-mule, and guides for a ride around the island. This was a great relief to them, especially to Dick and Bob, for it gave them a taste of the frontier life to which they had so long been accustomed. They were all glad to find themselves on horseback once more; so they journeyed very leisurely, and the ride, which could easily have been accomplished in four days, consumed the best part of eight.

Having explored Oahu pretty thoroughly, the Club returned on board the Stranger, which set sail for Hilo in the island of Hawaii, which place they reached after a rough passage of four days. At Hilo—the town has been devastated by a tidal wave since the Club visited it—they had their first view of a sport for which the natives of these islands are so famous—swimming with the surf-board. It was a fine, not to say a thrilling sight to see a party of men, some of whom were lying, others kneeling, and still others standing erect upon boards which seemed scarcely large enough to support their weight, shooting towards the beach with almost railroad speed, closely followed by a huge comber that seemed every instant to be on the point of overwhelming them. The grace and skill exhibited by the swimmers made the feat appear very easy of accomplishment, and after watching the bathers for a few minutes, Eugene declared that he could do it as well as anybody, and dared Archie to get a board somewhere and go into the water with him.

“Find a board yourself, and see if I am afraid to follow where you dare lead,” was Archie’s prompt reply; and to show that he meant what he said, he pulled off his jacket and threw it on the sand.

“Now, Archie,” remonstrated Frank, “I wouldn’t undertake anything I was certain to make a failure of, if I were you. You can’t get beyond the surf to save your life.”

“I’d like to know if I can’t duck my head and let a billow pass over me as well as anybody?”

“No, you can’t.”

“There’s where you are mistaken. You’ll see. Our countrymen can dive deeper and come out drier than any people in the world, not even excepting these Sandwich Islanders. I’ll go as far as my leader goes, you may rely upon that. Say, Mr. Kanaker,” added Archie, approaching a stalwart swimmer who had just been landed high and dry by a huge billow, “you gives me board, I gives you, quarter, eh?”

The native smiled good-naturedly and astonished Archie by replying in plain English, and in much better terms than he had used—

“You may have it certainly, but I wouldn’t advise you to try it.”

While Archie stood perplexed and bewildered, wondering how he ought to apologize to the man for addressing him in such a way, the latter continued, “I think your friend has given up the idea of going out.”

Archie looked toward Eugene, and saw that he was standing with his boots in his hand, gazing intently toward the water. He glanced in the same direction, and was just in time to see a swimmer overtaken by a huge comber, and carried out of sight in an instant. Archie was greatly alarmed, and expected to see the man dashed stunned and bruised on the beach; but presently a head bobbed up and out of the water beyond the breaker, and the bold swimmer, still safe and sound and undismayed by his failure, struck out for another trial, diving under the waves as they came rolling in, and finally made his way to the smooth water, half a mile from shore, where he waited for another high swell to carry him in. That was as near as Archie and Eugene ever came to trying their skill with the surf-board. One picked up his jacket, the other pulled on his boots, and as both these acts were performed at the same time, neither could consistently accuse the other of backing out.

The first excursion the Club made from Hilo was to a bay, with an unpronounceable name, on the opposite side of the island, the scene of Captain Cook’s death; and the next was to the volcano of Kilauea, the largest active crater in the world. The trappers, who accompanied the Club wherever they went, set out on this last expedition with fear and trembling. The boys had explained to them the theory of volcanoes as best they could, and to say that the backwoodsmen were astonished would but feebly express their feelings. They had never heard of a burning mountain before, and they were overwhelmed with awe. The statement that there was a hole in the ground three miles long, a mile broad, and a thousand feet deep, containing two lakes filled with something that looked like red-hot iron, was almost too much for them to believe; but the Club promised to show it to them, and so the trappers mounted their horses and set out with the rest. But they went no farther than the Volcano House, at which the party stopped for the night. The Club and Uncle Dick took up their quarters in the house, but the trappers preferred spreading their blankets on the veranda. Some time during the night the rainstorm, that had set in just before dark, cleared away, and old Bob, who happened to be awake, suddenly caught sight of something that terrified him beyond measure. He aroused his companion, and the two sat there on the veranda until morning looking at it. The top of the mountain which had been pointed out to them as the volcano, seemed to be on fire, and now and then sheets of flame would shoot up above the summit, lighting up the clouds overhead, until it seemed to the two anxious watchers that the whole heavens were about to be consumed.

By the time daylight came they had seen enough of volcanoes, and emphatically refused to go another step toward the crater. There was something up there, they said, that must be dreadful to look at, and they didn’t want to get any nearer to it. The boys went, however, and descended into the crater, and filled their pockets with chunks of lava, saw the burning lakes, breathed the sulphurous fumes that arose from them, walked over a fiery, molten mass from which they were separated by only fourteen inches of something Uncle Dick said was cold lava, but which was still so hot that it burned the soles of their boots, and finally came back to the Volcano House again at five o’clock, with minds so deeply impressed by what they had seen that it could never be forgotten. They did not have much to say about their journey—they wanted to keep still and think about it; but when at last their tongues were loosed, the burning lakes were the only subjects of their conversation until the new and novel sights of another country took possession of their minds and thoughts for the time being.

The trappers were also wonderfully impressed, though in a different way. They were frightened again, and after that they had many long and earnest debates on the subject of an immediate return to America. But when they came to talk it over and ask the advice of others, they found that there were many obstacles in their way. Dick Lewis remembered and feared the boarding-house keeper, while old Bob was afraid to trust himself to any vessel besides the Stranger. Neither he nor Dick wanted to cross the Pacific again, for what if one of those big “quids,” or the mother of that baby whale they had seen, should meet them and send them to the bottom? No, they dared not go back, and they dreaded to go on. There were dangers before as well as behind. New and wonderfulsights were being brought to their notice every day, and there were many others yet to come that they had often heard the boys talk about. There were animals called lions and tigers, as fierce as panthers, only a great deal larger and stronger, some of which were so bold that they would rush into a settlement in broad daylight, and carry off the first man that came in their way. There were other animals called elephants, that stood as high at the shoulders as the roof of Potter’s rancho, whose teeth weighed fifty pounds apiece, and one of whose feet was so heavy that it took two strong men to shoulder it. There were serpents so enormous that they could crush and swallow a deer or a human being, and others so numerous and deadly that more than thirty thousand people had died in one year from the effects of their bites. And, more wonderful than all, here was Uncle Dick, who had brought them safely through so many dangers, and who had met and vanquished all these monsters, and he was going straight back to the countries where they were to be found! He was going to take his nephews and Frank there too, and the reckless youngsters were eager to go. The trappers couldn’t understand it. They didn’t mind an occasional brush with Indians and grizzlies—they rather enjoyed it; but the thought of a single man boldly attacking an animal as large as a house was enough to terrify them.

The trappers talked these matters over at every opportunity, and finally decided that they would rather meet the dangers yet to come, provided they could do so in Uncle Dick’s company and Frank’s, than go back alone and face those they had left behind them. They announced this decision quietly, like men who had determined to bravely meet the fate they could not avert, and suffered themselves to be carried away to new countries and new dangers on the other side of the Pacific.

CHAPTER II. THE GALE.

The Sandwich Islands having been thoroughly explored, the Stranger set sail for the harbor of Hilo, and shaped her course across the Pacific. Japan was the Club’s destination, but they were in no hurry to get there, and besides there were objects of interest to be seen on the way. There were numerous islands to be visited, and among them were the Mangroves. The boys were anxious to see the place where the fight with the natives occurred, and Uncle Dick, yielding to their entreaties, told Frank to take the schooner there, a command which he gladly obeyed. The boys would also have been delighted could they have seen the village which had been burned by Frank’s orders. They tried to induce Uncle Dick to let them go there, giving as a reason for this insane desirethat possibly the savages might be holding other prisoners whom they could release. But the old sailor settled that matter very quickly. He wasn’t going to put his vessel and crew in danger for nothing, that was certain. The boys might go ashore after terrapins if the schooner stopped in the bay over night, and that was all they could do.

When they arrived in sight of the principal island, and had approached within a mile of the beach, Uncle Dick said to Frank:

“The natives of course know by this time that we are coming, and to show them that we are prepared to take care of ourselves, wouldn’t it be a good plan to kick up a little dust out there with a thirty-pound shot?”

“I think it would,” answered Frank. “As our vessel is small, they will know that we have a small crew, and the noise of a shell or two whistling through the trees may save us from an attack if we lie at anchor all night.”

Since leaving Bellville the crew had been drilled in the use of small arms and in handling the big guns almost as regularly as though the Stranger had been a little man-of-war; but none of the pieces had ever spoken yet, and the Club were delighted with the prospect of hearing Long Tom’s voice. The crew were at once piped to quarters, the shifting men took their place about the thirty-pounder (the vessel’s company was too small to allow of a full crew for each of the three guns), and in response to the old familiar order, “Cast loose and provide,” which they had all heard many a time when it meant something besides shelling an unoccupied piece of woods, quickly stripped off the canvas covering and made the piece ready for business. A cartridge was driven home, a shell placed on top of it, the gun was trained in accordance with Frank’s desires, the second captain lowered the breech a little, the first captain raised his hand, and the crew stood back out of the way.

“Fire!” said Frank.

The first captain pulled the lock-string, and the little vessel trembled all over as Long Tom belched forth its contents. Then something happened that the Club had not looked for. As the smoke arose from the mouth of the cannon, a crowd of natives, who had been lying concealed behind the rocks on the beach, jumped to their feet and ran with all haste into the woods. The shell ploughed through the trees above their heads, and exploding, sent up a cloud of white smoke to mark the spot.

“That was pretty close to some of them, Frank,” said Uncle Dick.

“It is no matter if it hurt some of them,” said Frank, in reply. “They had an ambush ready for us, didn’t they? Suppose we had been out of water, and had sent a boat’s-crew ashore after some? There wouldn’t a man of them have come back to us.”

Three more shells followed the first, being thrown toward other points on the island, to show the treacherous inhabitants that the schooner’s company could reach a good portion of their territory if they felt so disposed, and then the cannon was taken in charge by the quarter-gunner, who, after rubbing it inside and out until it shone like a mirror, put on its canvas covering again. A few minutes afterward, the Stranger dropped anchor in the bay, near the spot where the Tycoon had been moored when attacked by the natives.

“This is the place,” said Frank, to the boys who gathered around to hear once more the story of the thrilling scenes that had been enacted in that lonely spot but a few short weeks before. “Here is where the ship was anchored, and that creek over there was the ambush from which the canoes came. The boats’ crews who went ashore after water were attacked on that white beach you see off the port bow, and there was where we landed when we went out to burn the village, which was located about three-quarters of a mile from the beach.”

The boys could understand Frank’s description of the fight now that they saw before them the very spot in which it had taken place. They listened to the story as attentively as though they had never heard it before, and ran down to supper telling one another that they would see and learn more in the morning when they went ashore after terrapins. “And I hope that then the natives will try and see what we are made of,” said Eugene to Archie, in a confidential whisper. “My new Henry rifle that I bought in ’Frisco to replace the one Jack stole from me will rust for want of use if it lies in its case much longer.”

“I hope we shall have a chance to rescue the prisoners they are still holding,” said Archie. “It must be dreadful to pass one’s life here among these heathen. The worst part of such a captivity to me would be the knowledge that every now and then friends came here who would be only too willing to take me off if I could only get to them. I wish there were enough of us to take the island.”

Probably the prisoners who were still in the hands of the natives wished the same thing. Perhaps, too, they had some hopes of rescue when they heard the roar of the thirty-pounder awaking the echoes among the hills. But the schooner’s company was in no situation to render them assistance, and the Club were now as near the island as they ever went. While they were at supper, the officer of the deck suddenly descended the companion-ladder and interrupted the lively conversation that was going on by asking the captain if he would come on deck a minute. Uncle Dick went, and had hardly disappeared before the boys heard the boatswain’s whistle, followed by the order: “All hands stand by to get the ship under way.”

With one accord the Club dropped their knives and forks and ran up the ladder to see what was the occasion of the order; some of them being in such a hurry that they did not stop to find their caps.

“Master Frank,” said Dick Lewis, who met his young friend at the top of the ladder, “is that a quid out thar? Is that ole whale comin’ to ax the cap’n what he’s done with her baby?”

The trapper pointed seaward, and Frank, looking in the direction indicated by his finger, saw a dark cloud rising rapidly in the horizon, and beneath it a long line of foam and a dense bank of mist that was moving toward the island.

“Rodgers says we’re done for now,” continued Dick, whose face was white as a sheet. “He says me and Bob never seed a whale yet, but will see one now; that is, if we have a chance to see anything afore she opens her mouth and sends us to—, to—; what sort of a place did he say that was, Bob?” inquired Dick, turning to his frightened companion, who stood close beside him.

“I don’t know; somebody’s cupboard,” replied Bob.

“Davy Jones’s locker, most likely,” explained Frank. “Now, Dick, when Rodgers or anyone else, says such a thing to you again, you just tell him that you know better. We’re going to have a blow, that’s all. You have seen enough of them among the mountains and on the prairies to know what they are.”

“But, whar be we goin’?” asked Dick, seeing that the Stranger was walking rapidly up to her anchor.

“We’re going out, of course.”

“In the face and eyes of it?” gasped the trapper, looking dubious at the angry clouds, whose appearance was indeed most threatening. “Why don’t we stay here whar we’re safe?”

“Because we are not safe here. This is the most dangerous spot we could be in. The wind will blow directly on shore, and the waves will come rolling in here as high as the crosstrees. The first one that struck us would carry us out there in the woods.”

“Then, let’s take our shootin’ irons an’ go ashore,” said Dick. “I’d sooner fight the niggers than stay on this little boat and be drownded.”

“And what would we do with the schooner? Leave her to take care of herself? That’s a pretty idea, isn’t it? She would be smashed into kindling-wood on the beach, and then how would we ever get home again? No, no, Dick; we must take care of the vessel first, so we are going out where we shall have plenty of room. I wish we were out there now,” added Frank, anxiously, as he directed his gaze toward a high rocky promontory which jutted out into the water a mile in advance of them. “That point is a pretty long one, and if we don’t weather it before the storm breaks it will be good-bye, Stranger, and Sportsman’s Club, too.”

“Never fear,” exclaimed Uncle Dick, who happened to overhear this last remark. “We’ve got a capful of wind, and that is all we need to make an offing. Once off this lee-shore, we shall have plenty of room, unless we are blown up against the Ladrone Islands.”

“And about the time that happens, look out for pirates,” said Eugene.

“What’s them?” asked Dick.

“Oh, they are wild, lawless men, like Allen and Black Bill,” replied Eugene.

The trapper’s brow cleared at once. He was not afraid of lawless men, for he had met too many of them during his career on the plains. He was perfectly willing to meet anything that could be resisted by the weapons to which he had been accustomed from his earliest boyhood, but storms like this that was now approaching, and whales and “quids,” that could destroy a vessel, and elephants as large as a house, Dick did not want to see.

The Stranger was under sail in a very few minutes, and with all her canvas spread she began to move away from the dangerous shore under her lee. What little wind there was stirring was rapidly dying away, but it blew long enough to enable the little vessel to pass the threatening point which Frank so much dreaded, and then sail was quickly shortened, and every preparation made to meet the on-coming tempest.

“Go below, now, boys,” said Uncle Dick, as he came out of the cabin with his oilcloth suit on, and his speaking-trumpet in his hand. “I am going to batten down everything. Take Dick and Bob with you.”

Before the trappers could refuse to go, as they would probably have done had they been allowed time to think, they were pulled down into the cabin, and the door, being closed behind them, was covered with a tarpaulin; so were the skylights, and thus the cabin was made so dark that the boys could scarcely distinguish one another’s features. This was the first time these precautions had been taken since rounding Cape Horn, and the boys made up their minds that the storm was going to be a severe one.

“I don’t like this at all,” said Eugene. “I’d much rather go on deck and face it.”

“You are safer here, for there is no danger of being washed overboard,” said Featherweight.

“But I want to see what is going on,” said Eugene. “I can’t bear to be shut up in this way.”

“How would you like to belong to the crew of a monitor?” asked George. “In action, or during a storm at sea, the crew are all below, and they are kept there by heavy iron gratings.”

“Whew!” exclaimed Eugene. “They must be regular coffins.”

“They sometimes prove to be, that’s a fact. The Tecumseh was blown up by a torpedo in Mobile harbor, and went to the bottom, carrying one hundred and twelve men with her.”

“Human natur’!” shrieked Dick, as all the occupants of the cabin were thrown from their seats by the sudden lurching of the vessel. “We’re goin’, too! We’re goin’, too!”

“Oh, no,” replied Frank, picking himself up from under the table, where he had been pitched headlong. “That was only the first touch of the storm.”

“Well, if that’s a touch, I sincerely hope that we shall not get a blow,” said Archie, crawling back to his seat and rubbing his elbow with one hand and his head with the other.

“She will soon come right side up,” said Frank.

But to Dick and Bob, and even to some of the other occupants of the cabin, it seemed for a few minutes as though the Stranger was destined to come wrong side up. She heeled over until the floor stood at such an angle that it was useless for one to attempt to retain an upright position, and the boys were knocked and bumped about in a way that was quite bewildering. But she came up to a nearly even keel at last, as Frank had said she would, and then the boys could tell, confined as they were, that she was travelling through the water at a tremendous rate of speed. They looked out at the bull’s-eyes, but could gain no idea of the state of affairs outside, for the glasses were obscured by the rain and by the spray which was driven from the tops of the waves. The waves must have rolled mountains high, judging by the way their little vessel was tossed about by them, and the wind roared and screeched so loudly that the boys could not hear a single order, or even the tramping of the sailors’ feet as they passed over their heads. So completely were all sounds of life above decks shut out from them, that the Club might have thought that the captain and all his crew had been swept overboard, had it not been for the steady course the vessel pursued. That told them that there was somebody watching over them, and that there was a skilful and trusty hand at the helm.

The storm continued with unabated fury all the night long, but with the rising of the sun the wind died away almost as suddenly as it had arisen, thetarpaulin was thrown off, and the captain came into the cabin looking like anything in the world except a man who had spent the last twelve hours in fighting a gale. He looked as jolly and good-natured as though he had just arisen from a refreshing sleep.

“Well, Uncle Dick, this is rather more than a sailing wind, isn’t it?” asked Eugene.

“Rather,” was the laughing reply. “But the worst of it is over now. We shall have a heavy sea for a few hours, but that will not prevent us from fixing up a little. It was one of the hardest gales I ever experienced; and if the Mangrove Islands had been under our lee when it struck us—”

The old sailor shrugged his shoulders, and the boys knew what he meant by it.

“You said something about fixing up a little,” said Frank. “Was anything carried away?”

Uncle Dick nodded his head, and the Club went on deck in a body to take a survey of the schooner. She did not look much like the Stranger of the day before, and the boys wondered how she could have received so much damage without their knowing anything about it. The flying jibboom was gone, and so were both the topmasts. Some of the ratlines had parted and were streaming out straight in the wind like signals of distress, the port bulwarks were smashed in, the deck was littered with various odds and ends, life-lines were stretched along the sides, and altogether the handsome little craft looked very unlike herself. What must have been the power of the elements to work all this ruin to a stanch craft which had been built solely for strength and safety? It must have been tremendous, and the boys were reminded that all danger from it had not yet passed when they looked at the man who was lashed to the helm. Presently they received another convincing proof of the fact. The officer of the deck suddenly called out, “Hold fast, everybody!” and the boys looked up just in time to see the schooner plunge her nose into a huge billow which curled up over her bow, and breaking into a small Niagara Falls, washed across the deck, sweeping it clean of everything movable, and carrying with it one of the sailors, who missed the life-line at which he grasped. Ready hands were stretched out to his assistance, but the man saved himself by clutching at the life-rail and holding fast to it.