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MEADE COUNTY NEWS, MEADE. KANSAS.
M ... . - M Save QHc. CONTiABAND9 CHAPTER XXVI, ,uk -17- ' We Sight a Boat What Immediately followed ; how we made ourselves shipshape the best we could, and held on for the next few hours, has comparatively but little to do with the Interest of this story. Lea ford brought the two men on deck, and M Dade was no sailor, but more likely to prove faithful, he was sent down the ladder to assist Masters In the fire room. Dugan took the change In ad ministration aboard with sea-going Philosophy, seemingly feeling no ani mosity because of the rough handling received, and went to work under my orders with hearty good will. We were all four of us capable seamen, and an hour of hard work pin cod the Indian Chief In very fair condition, so far as deck and rnnnlng rigging was con cerned. At the end, however, standing on the forecastle, and staring nft, I had faith that we could handle the booker, even with that smnll crew, and bring her safely into the harbor of St. John's. Our earlier weather predic tions were not yet verified, nt least to any serious extent. Indeed there was nothing particular to worry about, ex cepting that temporary steering ap paratus, and It had worked long enough now so as to give me confidence. "What do you make of It, Mr. Lea lyord?" I questioned, Indicating both ea and eky by a wave of the hand. Was It a circular storm, leaving us btttelde of Its radius?" "No, sir; It's not that," and he drew the back of his hand across his Hps. "Dugan an' I talked about It on the malnyard yonder, an' 'tis our Judg ment, sir, that it's Just a slow brooder. There won't be no quick chnnge, but the weather '11 just gradually get heavier until we're scuddln' under Dare poles. It'll be maybe termorrow night before we gets Its full weight." "But you have no doubt we'll weather It?" "Barrin an accident When do you expect to make that port, sir?" "St John's? Well, we're a bit off our course now. I'm afraid we may be another night afloat." I He stood motionless, one hand shad owing his eyes, as he gazed out over the port rail. "I was a thlnkln o them poor cusses out there In the boats, sir," he said finally. Tra bettln' that most o' them wish they wua back on this deck by now." i "No doubt; but there's no way; we can help them, and we've got our own work to do. You and Olson go below." I watched the two disappear through the companion, spoke a word to Dugan. posting him where he could hear me call If necessary, and then went aft to the wheel. I had not realized the full weight of the gale until I reached the top of the lndder, and stood erect with out any protection from the cnbln. For an Instant I had to grasp the side rail, shading my eyes with an arm ; then I struggled forward, until my hands gripped the wheel. i "Why didn't you call for help?" I asked. "This was too much for any womnn. I never realized forward how It was blowing." She swayed against me, clinging to my sleeve. "It it does kick some," she panted, "and. I was almost afraid I,mlght let I Struggled Forward Until My Hands Gripped the Wheel. go. I I am glad you came. I couldn't hold to the course, but but that doesn't matter, does It?" "Not at all; we are In no shape to fight the storm, with only one mun In the stokehole. You will huve to creep to the ladder." "You you wish me to go below?" "I order you to." , "And you are going to remain at the wheel alone?" "Dugan is forward, within easy call I have sent the two mates below for an hour's rest. There is nothing for us to do now, but hold on until the storm abates. I'll simply lash the wheel, and Knd by. You are absolutely exhaust and must get below you will go?" By RANDALL PARRISH Copyright A. C. "Yes If If you think It best I am so tired the strain of It; the fear I could not hold out " "I know." I bent and kissed her, and she clung to me. "But do not think of that any longer; you must go to your room at once and lie down." "But you will stay on deck all night?" "Not unless the storm Increases. In an hour or so I'll call the others, and lie down myself. Come, dear, you be long In the wutch below." That certuiuly seemed a lonely deck after she hud disappeared down the ladder. I hud served many a quid wutch at sea, many a memorable one, but that hour tuught me the reul les son of loneliness. We were driving forward recklessly Into a wall of dark ness, utterly Impenetrable to the eye. What horror might be lurking just ahead of the plunging bow, no imagina tion could picture. From where I stood, clutching the spokes of the wheel, I could not even trace the yards of the mainmast, nor could I perceive on either side the water through which we drove. Yet It was not tills which pulled so at my nerve. I had stood at the wheel often before guiding a great ship through Impenetrable blackness, and amid the Immensity of the ocean. But then I was one of a crew, alert and ready, merely performing my part of a given task. But now I could not drive from me the consciousness that I stood there alone; that on all that space of deck forward only one solitary man crouched In the blackness; that below In the englneroom, and stokehole, only two more; already worn and weary with toll, stuck grimly to their work ; that under my control this great freighter, loaded almost to the deck beams, was flying before the storm, plunging through the wild waters of the mid-Atlantic, with death hovering above In the shriek of the storm. Yet I clung to It grimly, no longer making any attempt to hold any settled course, but merely choosing the easier way In wMch to meet the force of the storm. It waa two o'clock when, too thor oughly wearied to stand the strain longer, I sent Dugan below to call the mates. Leayord was the heavier man, and the more experienced sailor, so, at my suggestion, he took the wheel, while Olson went forward. I can recall creeping down the ladder, and stag gering down the stairs, but nothing more. I must have been asleep even before I reached the berth in the cap tain's stateroom. ' , A hand shook me, and I opened my eyes. For nn instant I was too dazed to comprehend. The port was closed, but daylight streamed through the thick glass Illuminating the stateroom, and I recognized Olson bending over me. "I had to call you, sir," he explained kindly. "The main royal has broke loose, an' it'll take all bunds ter stow it aguln In this wind ; besides that fel ler Dugan he's gin out entirely, an' there's got ter be another hand sent below .to tho stokehole." I sat up, already thoroughly awake. "What time is It?" "Coin' on htilf after four, sir." "Why I thought I had just dropped off. Any Increase In the weight of the gale, Olson?" "No, sir; I don't think the wind Is quite so heavy, and it's gettln' more steadylike, but there's considerable sea." "I can tell that the way the ship pitches ; she's taking water forward." "Tons o' it; the damned hooker Is loaded so deep she's more like a wharf than a ship." It was a wild scene enough when I emerged from the companion and paused a moment In the protection of the cabin to view the deck forward. Huge crested waves burst over the forecastle heads, cascading down onto the main deck, and sweeping aft to tho scuppers amidships. The vessel stag gered under the repeating blows, yet recovered with a buoyancy which gave me renewed courage, plugging forward again to meet the next assault .The continuous boom as they struck against our bows, the mad flapping of the loosened canvas aloft, the ceaseless shrieking of the cordnge, made a pan demonium of noise which rendered the human voice almost useless. I put my lips to Olson's ear. "Can the three of us pass those gas kets?" "It's got to be done, sir, unless we let the sail go; but It's goln to be no boy's Job." "Where's Dugan?" "Hangln' there to the shrouds, n' waitln' for us." "Then come on ; the sooner It's over with, the better." We went up the ratlines like snails every burst of wind driving us flat against the ropes, where we hung on grimly. Dugnn was first to lay out upon the footropes, and I felt no regret when Olson slipped past me In the top, bawling In my enr: "Let me go next, sir, you havent been at this sort o' Job lately." However, I made It In my turn, the wind driving me flat against the spar, the footrope dancing madly beneath my weight the flapping canvas of the loosened sail as sttfT as Iron. Pi win had the worst of It, but he clung there McCIurg & Co. like a cat stubbornly fighting Inch by Inch as he drew in the cloth. He must have had the strength of a giant, and the grip of a vise. It was a ten-minute hnttle, and when t got safely back Into the maintop every muscle of my body throbbed with pain, and I sank down against the mast, struggling to regain my strength. I had my head burled In my arm, conscious only of the wild leaping of the mast, and the sickening sensation caused by Its constant sway ing, when Dugan's shout sent the blood pounding to my heart He stood up right, clinging to a stay, staring forth into the smother off the port bow. "Look, sir I There's a boat! See, yonder; she'll top the crest In a sec ond there I" I had a glimpse of something a black speck in the midst of the break- Huge, Crested Wave Burst Over the Forecastle Head. lng spray but could not be sure of what It was. "Are you certain It Is a boat?" I questioned. "The thing had no shape to me. What do you say, Olson?" "A boat sir ; there was a slip o' sail hoisted ; It's my notion she's hoved to, rldln' to a drag. There she Is again." Aye, I got a fair view that time, as the cockle-shell was thrown high up on the crest of the wave. It was sick ening to see that black object hurled high up against the sky, and then dis appear utterly Into the hollow. The boat must be hove to; there would be no living otherwise In that sea, and the very fact that It remained afloat was evidence of sailors aboard. I drew my self to my feet, clinging with one hand to a stay, hollowing the other to make my voice reach the deck below. "Mr. Leayord I" "Aye, aye, sir." "There is a' small boat off the port quarter, riding to a drag." "A what, sir?" "A ship's boat off the port quarter too far away to tell what's aboard her. Can you let her head fall off a point?" "Not without another hand at the wheel ; It takes all my strength to hold her as she is." "Jump down, Dugan, and lay aft; we must get that bout to leeward, If we help those fellows In this sea." "Aye, aye, sir." He scrambled over the top, but Olson and I were content to use the lubber's hole, reaching the deck later, and glad enough to be there alive. I dived Into the cabin after a glass, stopping long enough to explain what we had sight ed to Vera, who appeared In her state room door, fully dressed. "You have not been in tyed?" I asked, Indignantly. v "Oh, but I have ; Indeed I have. Why I must have slept four hours, but I lay down fully dressed. I I didn't know what mlglit happen. Could you see If there were men In the boat?" "No, not to distinguish them with the naked eye; the glass will reveal that ; but the boat must be occupied to keep afloat In this sea." "Who can they be, do you suppose shipwrecked sailors?' "It would be my guess It will prove to be one of our own boats we've over hauled." "But how could we?" "The wind changed after midnight, and, with only , the one hand at the wheel, we were obliged to pay off, and run before It. It is not Impossible that we are bock in almost the same section of sea where we left those fellows. Come up on deck, and we'll know shortly." She went In for a wrap, but Joined me almost Immediately. I must have been Ave minutes locating the boat yet finally caught it fairly on the crest of a wave. Even nt that distance two recognized faces leaped instantly Into the circle of vision Liverpool and Me Cttnn. CHAPTER XXVIl. A Dead Man In the Cabin. The glimpse was but for an Instant the boat disappearing as It dropped Into the hollow. "It's our own quarterboat" I an nounced shortly, endeavoring to keep my glasses trained on the right spot. "McCann, and those devils with him." "Then, shall we stand by, sir?" asked Leayord. "Why should we be picking up that scum?" I glanced aside at him. "Why, Mr. Leayord? Well, one rea son Is, we are American seamen. Those fellows can scarcely hurt us now, and a hand or two more aboard will help us to make port We've got to hnve firemen below, and Rnpello would be able to spell Musters In the engine room. I look on their coming ns a God send. Let youf helm oft another point there, steady now; hold her just as she Is." Again I caught the boat In the focus of the leveled glasses ; It was measura bly nearer now, but I could only see four men aboard the craft, the other two being White and Rupello. The tiller was gone, the man nt the stern, Jim White, steering by menns of n long oar; the snll had been whipped Into rngs. and a canvas shirt substi tuted. One man was on his knees ball ing furiously, and Tony had an arm In a sling. So Intent was I In this en deavor to decipher the details of the tragedy through the glass, I was un aware that Vera had climbed the lad der, and now stood beside me, clinging to the roll. Her voice aroused me to her presence. "Why, there are only four of them?" "Yes ; they must have passed through Hades last night," I answered. "Here, take the glass; there are two bodies lying In the bottom of the boat" "Can you manage the wheel alone for a bit Mr. Leayord?" "I can try, sir." - "Miss Carrlngton, would yon mind giving the mate a hand?" She fought her way across to him without a ward, leaving the glass on the deck. "Good ; hold her as she is, and have iaai. tiow down. It is going to be a ticklish Job to get those fellows on board; has anyone a suggestion?" "A running noose from the lower main-yard, sir," said Olson. . "That will take only one at a time: "Two, If they're quick enough about It; but It's the only way, sir. xnat boat wouldn't live a second close in alongside." . . "Right you are; you and Dugan lay out on the yard and get the whip rigged ; pick a strong cord and see that 't fits the pulley block. I'll keep to the leek, and ease them in. Pass the end Jown to me ; lively now." Those In the boat snw what we were attempting, realizing at once that we meant to take them aboard. The re lief felt was Instantly expressed by the waving of hands, and a faint cry reached us across the water. McCann even endeavored to stand up, but was Jerked down again. No doubt the rec ognition of the ship had left them in total despair of rescue, their one thought being that we would permit them to drift by, wther than take them aboard again. The gap between "Boat Ahoyi" I Roared. us slowly closed, I could see their faces clearly, uplifted In agonized ap peal. They were haggard, crusted with salt, piteous enougli in their silent pleading to make me forget the past "Boat ahoy!" I roared. "Keep well away from the side ; we'll whip you In from the main yard. Have you oars?" "One pair, sir." It was Liverpool, and I was glad to note the tone of respect In his answer, - "Then hold her back, and drift In slowly stern first; you get the Idea. Are those dead men?" "One of them Is ; Dubois has his leg broken." ' "We'll send a sling down; put Du bois In first, and the rest of you stand by. .Are you ready now?" "Aye. aye, sir." Olson Joined me nt the rope, Dngnn remaining outstretched on the yard, the ship held motionless except for the rise and fall of the waves. The boat drifted cautiously In stern first held by the two onrs In the hands of Liver pool and White. The former roughly assumed command. A Thrilling War Story of the North Atlantic "Get up there, McCann; on your knees now; for heaven's sake don't miss that rope, and hold on hard ; take a turn around that thwart amidships no! don't make fast! Give Tony the end ; he has one hand yet Now get Dubois Into the sling ; d you, man, you've got to;, we can't leave thest oars. Take a grip there, Dubois, and help yourself. That's better." He lift ed his arm in signal. "All right, sir, swing away 1" It was a good half hour's Job, and a hnrd one; twice the boat nearly swamped, and went down. Liverpool was the last to leave the boat, already half filled with water. As he rose slow ly, gripping the rope with his hands, unable to get foot In the noose, the deserted croft floated away, the dead body of Watson half covered with water. The four of them made a sorry look ing bunch on the deck, Mit now that they were safe, my feeling of sym pathy had vanished. I could only re call their treatment of us, and the dan ger we still ran in having them once again aboard. Nothing was to be gnined by soft words with such as they. I stepped across to front them, and Ol son and Dugan joined me. "Now, look here," I snld grimly. "We've taken you nbonrd because we're human beings ; but there's going to be no mistake ns to your exact status on this ship. You'll take your orders from me, and I'll kill the first man-Jack of you who shows n sign of treachery. Whnt became of Snchs?" McCann was still gasping from bis drop Into the sen, and could not an swer, although I addressed my ques tion to him. Liverpool replied : "He knifed Watson, nnd Dubois knocked him overboard with an oat; he never enm . "Was It In Ue fight Dubois rot hurt?" "No, he was fcfl by the boom, an' Tony there broke hln arm when he fell into the boat off the ship's ladder." "All right; three of you are fit fl work, and Tony can stand watch in the englneroom. Have you had anything to eat?" "Yes, sir, In a way; there was food In the boat" "Then you have fared in that respect better than we have., White, you go below and hustle coal ; you climb down also Tony, and relieve Masters. Tell him to lie down and get some rust Move along now; I'll be down there myself presently." I turned to McCann. "Get up frona there; you are a hand on board this ship the rest of the voyage. Do yon understand? Answer me do you?" "Yes." "Do better than that" "Yes, sir." ' "Very well; now you and Liverpool pick up Dubois, and put him in num ber seven stateroom. Make him as com fortable as possible, but don't be lon about It Then report on deck to Mr, Olson ; he'll keep you busy, and out 1 mischief. A word with you, Olson." The second mate crossed the deel with me to the roll; the drifting boat hnd disappeared, having either sunk, or being hidden In the hollow of thi great surges. The screw was begin ning to revolve once more with power, the planks trembling under foot nnd a bit of sunshine was streaming through the clouds overhead. I stood silent a moment, endeavoring to think out th situation, and Olson waited patiently, his eyes sweeping the sky and then the sea. "What do you think of our guests?" I asked finally. "Can we trust their at all?" "Not so far as you could swing a bull by the tall, sir," he answered soberly. "They ain't forgot the night In the boat yet, but there's Just as much devil In em ns there ever was." "Your opinion Is, they will nevei help sail this ship Into St. John's, i! any villainy will save them?" "That's It sir ; they're so black now, they won't mind a little more." "That's my Judgment ; we must keet them apart as much as we can, an have an eye on them all the time. How about Dugan?" "He talks straight enough, and te my notion means to play square." "That was my Impression; he's Irish, and hot-headed, but no criminal, We ought to be able to kee.p the teV lows separated. Besides I'll be abou most of the time." "How long do you suppose It will be, sir?" "Today and another night likely; I can tell better when I get an obsen vatlon at noon. It will not give them much time for plotting," I sent the two forward with Olson when they returned to the deck from the cabin, and he busied them gather ing up the riffle about the forecastle caused by the night's storm. McCana moved as though scarcely able to exert himself, but Red took hold as If glad to be occupied. Vera came down the ladder, and we spoke together briefly, about what had occurred. 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