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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Moving Picture Boys On The Coast - Chapter 24. Out Of The Wreck
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The Moving Picture Boys On The Coast - Chapter 24. Out Of The Wreck Post by :ecdavis Category :Long Stories Author :Victor Appleton Date :May 2012 Read :3379

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The Moving Picture Boys On The Coast - Chapter 24. Out Of The Wreck

CHAPTER XXIV. OUT OF THE WRECK

"Here come the life savers!" cried Blake a little later, as through the spray that flew over the beach a party of men, in yellow oilskins, could be seen dragging something over the sand.

"Yes, and few enough of 'em there are to do the work," said old Abe Haskill. "The government ought to put more men at the station."

"Some were hurt, trying to launch the boat this morning," said Joe.

"Very likely," agreed the old fisherman. "The sea can be cruel when it wants to."

"And there comes Tom Cardiff!" added Blake, as he pointed to another oncoming figure.

"Yes, and Harry Stanton is with him," remarked Abe. "They must have left the lighthouse to look after itself, and they're going to help in the rescue."

"No danger to the light, now that them pesky wreckers have been caught," remarked one of the fishermen.

"Boom!" came a dull report over the waste of tumultuous waters.

"What's that?" asked Blake.

"The signal gun!" cried Abe. "She must be sinking and they want us to hurry help. But she's too far out yet for a line to reach her."

Again the signal gun sounded, and hearing it, the life savers hastened their pace, but it was hard work dragging their apparatus through the sand.

"Let's help 'em!" cried Joe. "The ship is drifting up this way. If we make pictures it will have to be from about here. Let's help drag the wagon!"

"That's right!" echoed Blake, and the boys, leaving their cameras in charge of Mr. Hadley, hastened to relieve the fagged-out life savers. The fishermen and some of the theatrical men joined in also.

"Right about here," directed the captain of the life saving crew, when the cart containing the gun, "shears" and other parts of the breeches buoy had been dragged farther along. "She'll strike about here, I fancy."

The doomed vessel was now much nearer shore, and on her wave-washed decks could be seen the sailors, some of them lashed to the stumps of masts, others to whatever of the standing rigging offered a hold against the grasp of the sea.

"Get ready, men!" the commander went on. "The wind is bringing her in fast, and it's going to be against us shooting a line over her, but we'll do our best. If she strikes now, so much the better."

"Why?" asked Blake, wonderingly.

"Because then she'll be stationary, and we can keep our main line taut. If she keeps drifting inshore while we're hauling the buoy back and forth it means that we'll have to keep tightening up all the while."

"There, she's struck!" suddenly called one of the life savers. All gazed out to sea, where, amid a smother of foam, the craft could be seen. Her change in position was evident. Her decks sloped more, and instead of drifting she remained in one position.

"The rocks have gripped her," spoke old Abe, solemnly. "She'll go to pieces soon now."

"Then get busy!" cried C. C. Piper, who seemed not to have lost his strangely cheerful mood. "Save those men!"

"That's what we're going to do," said the captain. "All ready now, men."

"And that means we'd better get busy, Joe," said Blake. "We can't do anything to help just now. Besides, there are a lot of men here. We must get our cameras in place."

"That's right, Blake," and the two lads got their apparatus in shape to operate, Mr. Hadley doing the same. The machines were set up on some sand hills, far enough back to be out of the spray, which was like a fog close to the surface of the water.

While some of the life savers and their volunteer assistants were burying in the sand the heavy anchor that was to hold one end of the rope on which the breeches buoy would travel, others were getting ready to fire the gun.

In brief, the breeches buoy is operated as follows: A small mortar, or cannon, is used, and an elongated projectile is placed in it. Attached to the projectile is a thin and strong line. It is coiled in a box and placed on the sand near the mortar. The coils are laid around pegs in a peculiar manner to prevent tangling. The pegs are then pulled out, and the coils lie one upon the other so that the line may be paid out rapidly.

When the projectile is fired toward the ship, the aim is to make it shoot over her deck, carrying the cord with it. This is called "getting a line aboard." Once this is done the crew on the vessel can, by means of the small cord, pull aboard a heavy cable. This is made fast to the highest point possible.

There is now a cable extending from the shore to the ship, the shore end being made fast to the anchor in the sand. The cable is raised as high as possible on a pair of wooden "shears," to keep it above the waves.

Running on pulley wheels, on this stout, tight rope, is the "breeches buoy." This is literally a pair of canvas breeches, into which the person to be saved places himself, getting into the apparatus from the deck of the sinking ship. There is a line fast to the buoy, one end being on shore. When the signal is given those on the beach pull, the buoy and the person in it are pulled along the tight rope by means of the pulleys to the beach and saved, though often they are well drenched in the process. Those remaining on the ship now pull the empty buoy back, and other persons come ashore until all are saved.

Sometimes, instead of the canvas breeches, a small enclosed car is used to slide along the rope. In this car more than one person can get, and they are protected from the waves.

"All ready?" asked the captain of the life saving crew, after he had inspected what his men and the others helping them had done.

"All ready, sir!" came the response.

"Then fire!"

The mortar boomed, through the wind shot the projectile toward the ship, carrying with it the swiftly uncoiling rope. All watched anxiously.

"Too short!" cried the captain a moment later, lowering the glass through which he had watched the effect of the shot. "Use a little more powder this time."

The projectile was hauled back through the waves, and attached to another line, coiled in readiness, while some of the life savers busied themselves recoiling the first rope, in case the second shot failed too.

It did, again falling short.

"Try more powder," said the captain, grimly. "We've got to reach her."

"And soon," murmured old Abe. "She's breaking up fast."

Once more the mortar was fired, Blake and Joe, as well as Mr. Hadley, getting films of every move.

"There she goes!" cried the captain, in delight, as he watched the third shot. "Over her decks as clean as you'd want! Now to get the poor souls ashore!"

On board the wrecked ship could be observed a scene of activity. The sailors began hauling on the line, and presently the big cable began paying out from shore. Soon it reached the side of the ship, to be hauled up, and made fast to the stump of one of the masts.

"Lively now, boys!" cried the captain. "Pull taut and then run out the buoy. She can't last much longer!"

The men made redoubled efforts, and Blake and Joe, leaving their automatic camera working, while Mr. Hadley turned the operation of his over to Macaroni, the three moving picture experts aided in the work of rescue.

Soon the breeches buoy was hauled out to the ship for its first passenger, and presently the sagging of the cable told that some one was in it.

"Pull, boys!" cried the captain of the life savers, and through the dashing waves, that threw their crests over the shipwrecked person, the buoy was hauled ashore.

"Grab him!" cried the captain, as the first one saved was pulled up high on the beach.

"It isn't a him, captain!" cried one of the men. "It's a woman!"

"Bless my sea boots!" yelled the captain. "A woman! Are there any more of you aboard--or any children?"

"I--I'm the only one," was the panting answer, for she had swallowed much water. "I'm the captain's wife. Can you--can you save the others? They made me come first."

"That's right! Women and children always first!" shouted the captain.

"Of course we'll save the others," yelled C. C., who was running excitedly about, helping all he could. "We'll save every one!" he repeated.

"Gloomy in a new role--a happy one!" remarked Blake.

The buoy was hauled back, and another was saved--one of the sailors, this time. He reported that there were in all twenty-five hands on the ship, exclusive of the captain.

"He'll come last, of course," he said, simply.

"Of course," agreed Abe Haskill. "The captain allers does that. Once more, boys!"

Again was a rescue effected, the moving picture cameras registering faithfully everything that went on. The work had to be done quickly now, for the vessel was fast breaking up.

"Two more left!" cried the chief life saver. "Jack up that cable, boys; she's sagging. I guess the old ship is working farther in. Jack her up!"

By means of pulleys attached to the main rope it was made tauter. Then came a heavy sag on it.

"What's that?" asked one of the life savers.

"It's two of 'em--two of 'em, clinging to the buoy!" cried Blake, who was watching through a glass. "I guess the ship must be going to pieces too fast to allow for another trip. You've got to save two at once."

"And we can do it!" cried the captain. "All together, now, boys! But they're going to get wet!"

By reason of the added weight the rope was sagging badly, and the men clinging to the buoy could be seen half in and half out of the water.

"Lively, men, or they'll drown!" yelled the captain.

Hardy and intrepid as were the life-savers and the volunteers who had assembled to help them, they paused a moment now. It seemed impossible that the two in the buoy could be pulled ashore in time to be saved.

Over them broke great seas, the waves hissing and foaming as though angry at being cheated of their prey. The storm-swept waters seemed to seize on the rope, as though to pull it beneath the billows. The anchor that held the rope which passed over the "shears" seemed to be pulling out of the sand packed around it.

"Come on, men!" cried the captain. "Take a brace now, and we'll have 'em ashore in a jiffy!"

"But she's slipping!" cried a grizzled seaman. "She can't hold any longer. The whole business is going!"

"She can't go until we git 'em ashore!" yelled the captain of the life-savers. "I won't let her! Here, Jim Black, you mosey back there and pile more sand around that anchor. Now then, men, pull as though you meant it. What! You're not going to have it said that you let a little cat's paw of wind like this beat you; are you?"

Something of the captain's courage seemed to infuse itself into his men. They had been half-hearted before, but they were brave now. Once more they ranged themselves on the rope that was used to haul the buoy from the ship to shore. It was as though the waves had tried to intimidate them, and had been bidden defiance.

The weight of the two persons in the buoy was almost too much. The waves had a doubly large surface against which to break, and well the captain knew that there was a limit to the strain to which the tackle could be subjected. Once the main rope leading from the anchor to the ship, on which cable the buoy ran, parted, and nothing could save those last two lives. No wonder the captain wanted haste.

"Haul away!" he bellowed through the roar of the wind, using his hands as a trumpet. "Haul away, men!"

His companions braced themselves in the shifting sand. They bent their backs. Their arms swelled into bunches of muscles that had been trained in the hard school of the sea.

"Will the haul-rope stand it?" cried one man.

"She's _got to stand it!" cried the captain. "She's just _got to! Pull, men; you're not half hauling!"

"If that rope gives," faltered an old, gray-haired man, who seemed too aged for this life, "if that rope gives way----"

"Don't you talk about it!" snapped the captain. "I'll take all the responsibility of that rope. It'll hold all right. I looked at it the other day. All you've got to do is pull! Do you hear me? Pull as you never pulled before!"

Once more the backs of the men bent to the strain. The moving picture boys, watching and waiting; filled with anxiety even as they filmed the wreck, saw that the rise and fall of the waves had a good deal to do with the rescue.

"They can pull better when the waves don't wash over those two poor souls in the buoy," observed Blake.

"Yes, there's less resistance," agreed Joe. "Oh, there comes a big one!" and, as he spoke, an immense comber buried from sight the two whom the life-savers were endeavoring to pull from the grip of the sea.

"If they can only hold their breaths long enough, they may come through it," said Blake. "But it's a tough proposition."

"It sure is," agreed his chum. They had gone back to snap a few pictures, and then, finding that the automatic apparatus was working well, they again joined the group on the sands.

"Another pull or two and we'll have 'em ashore!" yelled the captain. "Lively, men!"

As he spoke a grizzled seaman rushed up to him.

"That anchor's slippin' ag'in!" he bellowed through the noise of the storm. "I can't put sand on fast enough to hold it!"

"Then I'll have some one help you!" cried the captain. "Here, Si Watson! You git back there and help Jim pile sand on that anchor. It mustn't be allowed to pull out--do you understand? It mustn't pull out if--if you have to--sit on it!"

"Aye--aye, sir," was the answer, and the two men ran back to where the anchor was buried in the beach, to pile the sand on with the shovels provided for that purpose.

"Now one more pull, and we'll have 'em safe!" yelled the captain a little later, and with a mighty haul his men bent to their task.

"There they come through the last line of surf!" yelled Joe, pointing to the buoy containing the two shipwrecked persons.

"If only the rope holds," murmured his chum.

Even as he spoke there came a cry from the two men who had been sent to watch that the anchor in the sand did not drag.

"It's coming! It's coming out!" shouted one of them.

"Sit on it! Hold it down!" yelled the captain. "Into the water after 'em, boys! Come on, ye old seadogs!"

There was a snap--the rope had parted, but so near to the beach were the two that the life-savers waded into the foam and spume, and grabbed them, holding them safe.

They were hauled to the beach, on which huddled the others who had been saved from the wreck.

The lone woman had been taken in charge by the feminine members of the theatrical troupe, who led her toward their boarding house. They said they would soon have hot coffee ready for all the sailors.

"Get 'em out of the buoy!" cried the captain, as the two last rescued were seen to be well-nigh insensible. They were assisted out, and sank helpless on the sand.

"Pretty far gone," remarked a life saver. "One must be the captain, I reckon."

"And the other," began Harry Stanton, keeper of the Rockypoint light; "the other--why, if it isn't Nate Duncan, who used to be my assistant! He came out of the wreck--Nate Duncan!"

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