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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Moving Picture Girls At Sea: A Pictured Shipwreck That Became Real - Chapter 20. In The Vortex
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The Moving Picture Girls At Sea: A Pictured Shipwreck That Became Real - Chapter 20. In The Vortex Post by :goodlife Category :Long Stories Author :Laura Lee Hope Date :May 2012 Read :1354

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The Moving Picture Girls At Sea: A Pictured Shipwreck That Became Real - Chapter 20. In The Vortex

CHAPTER XX. IN THE VORTEX

"Haven't we looked distressed long enough?"

"I'm going below. I can't bear to watch that storm!"

The speakers were Alice and Ruth DeVere respectively, and they were leaning over the rail of the _Mary Ellen_, peering off into the swirl of driving mists, and across the heaving waters toward where the motorboat had been last seen.

"Yes, I think Russ has enough pictures," Mr. Pertell said in answer to the remark of Alice. "I think you all looked sufficiently distressful. If the scenes of the shipwreck itself go as well as the first part of the drama has gone, we'll have a fine film."

"Then may I go below?" asked Ruth. "I don't like the looks of the weather."

"It does seem as though we'd get the storm after all," her father remarked.

"Go below, by all means," assented the manager. "We have done enough for today, and I'll signal Russ to come in, if he hasn't already started to do so. My, but this wind is blowing a regular gale!"

Others than Ruth found it uncomfortable on deck, and there was a general movement toward the cabins which had been fitted up with considerable comfort, even if the craft was an old one.

But just then, when there was a partial calm before another burst of fury on the part of the storm, something occurred that threw the ship into a flurry of excitement for a time. The sailors were making some changes in the craft's canvas, when suddenly the throat and peak halyards of the mainsail either parted, or, coming loose from the cleats, came down on the run. The effect was to lower the sail so quickly, and in such a fashion, with the wind blowing hard against it, that there was a crash, a banging and booming of the canvas, and the boom and gaff. The first mate, who was standing near the mast, was knocked down, narrowly escaping going overboard.

"Oh, what has happened?" cried Ruth.

"Be still!" commanded Alice, clutching her sister by the arm. "Yelling isn't going to do any good. We're not hurt."

They were standing near a companionway, well out of reach of the falling sail.

"Oh, we're sinking! We're sinking!" screamed Miss Dixon.

"And the sharks! The terrible sharks in the water!" hysterically added her friend.

The other ladies of the party were very much frightened, naturally, not only by the accident to the sail, but by the screams of the two former vaudeville actresses.

"Lively now, men!" called Jack Jepson, who happened to be nearest the confusion of tangled ropes and sail. "Get him below. He doesn't seem to be much hurt."

He pointed to the motionless body of the first mate. A quick examination showed that the man was badly stunned, but that seemed to be the extent of his injuries, as far as could be told.

"Up with her now! Up with her!" the second mate cried, as he gave orders for hoisting the sail again, for the schooner was not under proper control with the main canvas down, and a storm coming up rapidly. The sail had been reefed, so the gaff had not fallen as far as otherwise would have been the case.

"What's the matter?" shouted Captain Brisco who came up from his cabin with Hen Lacomb. The two were seldom apart of late. A glance served to tell the commander what had happened. He saw that Jack Jepson had matters well in hand, and though Alice guessed that Captain Brisco had no love for his second mate, the commander knew seamanship when he saw it.

"Lively now!" he cried. "That's the idea! We'll run before the gale now."

"But the motorboat!" cried Ruth, who had conquered her desire to flee to the cabin, and hide her eyes and ears from such nerve-racking sights and sounds. "Where is the _Ajax_--and Mr. Sneed--and--Russ?" she faltered.

"They'll probably be coming in now," the captain said, but he did not take the trouble to look around and see. "We can't wait for them in this wind," he went on.

"But we _must wait for him!" Ruth cried, getting excited. "We can't go off and leave them in that motorboat, on the ocean, in a storm! We must wait!" She started toward Captain Brisco, with her hands held out appealingly.

Alice was wildly looking around for a sight of the smaller craft. She had seen it just before the sail fell, but now there was nothing about the schooner but a bare waste of waters.

She knew enough about the technical side of moving pictures to realize that for some time, it had been too dark to take any film. Russ must have known that, too, and would have started back for the schooner. But if he had, where was he now?

Alice asked herself that question as she looked around.

"You must wait for him!" cried Ruth.

"Who? What's this?" demanded Mr. Pertell, for he had been hurrying to and fro, making sure none of the members of his company had been injured in the slight accident.

"Russ hasn't come back," volunteered Alice, who almost always spoke ahead of her sister.

"He's out there!" Ruth found voice to say, "and Captain Brisco isn't going to wait for him."

"You can't hold a ship still on the ocean, and a storm coming up!" the commander cried, as though to justify himself. "We've got to run for it. It would be madness now to lay to."

"But we can't desert Russ and Mr. Sneed!" cried the manager. "I thought he was coming in. What shall we do? We must do something! I shouldn't have asked him to risk it!"

The schooner was rapidly forging ahead, even under reefed sails, so powerful was the wind.

"We could work around," said Jack Jepson, who had come up on deck after seeing the first mate comfortably bestowed in his berth. "We could work around and----"

"Who's in charge of this ship; you or me?" snapped Captain Brisco.

"You are, of course," was the quiet answer.

"Well then, have the goodness to keep still and let me manage matters. I'm giving orders--not you!"

Poor Jack slunk back, smarting under the undeserved rebuke.

"I don't care who is in command!" cried Mr. Pertell. "This is my ship and you're under my orders, Captain Brisco. I order you to pick up that motorboat!"

"And I tell you we can't do it! They've got to come to us, we can't go to them. They're not dependent on the wind as we are. They can travel any direction they like, and they'll have to head for us."

"But we must make some effort to find them!" cried the manager. "It would be wicked--criminal not to."

"Look here!" cried Captain Brisco. "You are the owner of this schooner, it is true, and as such you are my superior, but the law gives me supreme command of this craft at sea, unless I'm dead, or otherwise deposed. And I tell you I won't risk all these lives by trying to beat back in the teeth of this wind, to pick up a motorboat. It would be worse than criminal--worse than wicked to do it. It would endanger all on board!"

There was some logic in that. Even Mr. Pertell, exercised as he was by the threatened danger to Russ, could appreciate that.

"But we must do something," the manager repeated.

"I'm doing all I can," Captain Brisco replied. "I'll shorten sail down to the minimum; that will keep us before the wind, and out of the trough of the sea! More I can't do. We must depend on them to pick us up. They ought to be able to do it. You told me Dalwood could manage a boat."

"So he can--but--"

There was ominous meaning in the broken-off sentence.

"Well, we'll do the best we can," concluded Captain Brisco. "They will have to take chances, as we're doing."

He went forward to give some orders.

Those aboard the schooner peered anxiously over the storm swept waters for a sight of the motor craft, but they saw nothing. They shouted and called, but only the wind howled back at them.

Then, with a suddenness that was appalling, they seemed to be flung into the midst of a hurricane. The wind lashed the sea to fury, and the _Mary Ellen spun around like some gigantic top.

"We're in the vortex!" cried Jack Jepson. "We're in the vortex of a cyclone! All hands look to themselves!"

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