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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesAdrift On The Pacific: A Boys Story Of The Sea And Its Perils - Chapter 8. Voyaging Southward
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Adrift On The Pacific: A Boys Story Of The Sea And Its Perils - Chapter 8. Voyaging Southward Post by :JesSimaca Category :Long Stories Author :Edward Sylvester Ellis Date :May 2012 Read :2832

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Adrift On The Pacific: A Boys Story Of The Sea And Its Perils - Chapter 8. Voyaging Southward

CHAPTER VIII. VOYAGING SOUTHWARD

It was certainly very wonderful that little Inez Hawthorne should have been transferred from the steamer to the schooner, and that many hours should have passed before the discovery was made by the respective captains of the craft.

Yet such was the fact, and Captain Bergen and Mate Storms had no sooner learned the real situation than Hyde Brazzier was sent for to tell how it occurred. As he was the one who rowed the small boat, there could be no doubt that he knew. The story he told was the true one, with the exception of the supplement--that he actually forgot about the little girl after she went into the cabin and fell asleep.

It was impossible, it may be said, that such could be the fact, and the officers looked knowingly at each other. They knew he was falsifying, but they made no comment, except to declare that she must be taken back to the steamer without an hour's delay.

Captain Bergen learned from Inez that she had no relatives on board the steamer, and she did not show any special distress over being where she was. But, for all that, the honest New Englander felt that she should be restored, and he immediately took every means for doing so.

His supposition was that she would be speedily missed from the _Polynesia_, which would at once make search for the schooner. Accordingly, the _Coral was headed northwest, under all sail, the sun just rising at the time this change of course was made.

"The steamer will go so much faster than we," said the captain, "that there is no possibility of overhauling her, unless her shaft should give out again."

"There's no danger of that. More likely she'll turn about and look for us."

As the sun climbed the heavens, the horizon was anxiously scanned for some point where the black column of a steamer's smokestack could be seen staining the clear sky. Far away to the northward, a vapor was observed, which at first was set down as the sight for which they were searching; but it was soon learned that it was a peculiarly-formed cloud, resting almost upon the water.

The upper rigging and sails of possibly an American whaler were descried a long distance to the northward, and a full-rigged ship was detected closer in, and further to the eastward. But no sign of the _Polynesia was discovered through the powerful binocular glasses with which Captain Bergen swept the horizon. There was strong hope, in spite of this, that she would be seen before sunset, and the _Coral held to her course toward the southwest, not only for that day and night, but for the two succeeding ones. But it is useless to dwell upon the search made by the smaller vessel, which was without the faintest glimmer of success.

Captain Bergen and Mate Storms did their utmost to undo the wrong act of their sailors, but at the end of the third day they held an anxious consultation as to what was the right course left to pursue. They had given up hope of meeting the _Polynesia except by chasing her all the way to Japan, they having learned that Tokio was her destination.

Should the _Coral follow her there, or first fulfil its own destiny in the Paumotu Islands? This was the all-important matter to be settled.

When a man makes a great invention or discovery, his first dread is that some one else will anticipate him and gather to himself all the glory and profit. This had been a constant fear in the case of the captain and mate of the schooner _Coral ever since they began their preparations for the journey to the South Seas. It cost them a pang of dread when, therefore, they headed the schooner about in the hunt for the steamer, for, as will be readily understood, the apprehension of which we have spoken intensifies the nearer one gets to the goal.

There were other considerations which entered into the question as to whether they should go on or turn about. Inez Hawthorne had, as might have been expected, adapted herself to her new position as passenger on the schooner, and ran hither and thither at will, just as she did on the _Polynesia_, and she climbed all over the captain and mate, as if they were Captain Strathmore and his officer, or some of the passengers.

She occasionally expressed a longing to see the grizzled old sea-captain, whom she called her second, or new "papa," but there was no one else for whom she particularly longed. Her affection was distributed so equally and spontaneously that among several hundred it could not be very profound. Only in the case of the brave old Captain Strathmore was it deep and steadfast.

It would delay the voyage to the Pearl Islands not for weeks, but for months, to sail away to Asia, and then turn about and put back to the southern seas, and during that interval what might not take place? What assurance could there be that the precious pearl-bed would not be devastated?

With the plans which Abe Storms had perfected on the way from home, it was believed that a week's time after their arrival at their destination would be sufficient to make them enormously wealthy, and thus the voyage which they would afterward take to Japan would be delayed only a month or two, perhaps. Furthermore, the parents and friends of Inez would have every reason to believe she was in safe hands, and would soon be restored to them. All these were weighty considerations, it must be confessed, and they decided the question.

"We have done all that can be done," said Captain Bergen, standing at the stern with his hand upon the wheel, while Abe Storms, thoughtfully smoking his pipe, was at his elbow, with his arms folded and his eyes gazing dreamily toward the western horizon, where the sun was about to dip into the ocean.

"I agree with you," was the reply of his mate, who was as conscientious in everything he did as was the captain. "I consider that the chance is as one in a thousand that we shall meet the steamer this side of Tokio, and if we undertake to follow, we shall lose several months of most precious time, without accomplishing any commensurate good. The child is contented and happy here."

As if to emphasize this assertion, the laugh of Inez was heard at that moment as she came bounding up the steps of the cabin, and ran toward the bow, where the giant negro, Pomp, was leaning against the gunwale, his arms also folded, and an expression of contentment upon his broad, shiny countenance.

The instant he caught sight of Inez his face lighted up and his white, even teeth were displayed with pleasure, as she ran toward him.

It was singular, indeed, that, ever since her first awaking on board the _Coral_, Inez had shown not a positive dislike of Redvig and Brazzier, but what may be called a lack of friendship toward them. She was trusting and loving to Pomp and the two officers, but it was evident that she avoided the others. Possibly she could not have told the reason had she tried, and it is equally possible that she was not aware of it herself. But every one else on board saw it plainly.

When two men in authority talk as did the captain and mate of the schooner _Coral_, the conclusion is inevitable. The decision was made to go on to the Paumotu Islands, after which the voyage would be made to Japan, and, alas! that it was so.

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