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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesAdrift On The Pacific: A Boys Story Of The Sea And Its Perils - Chapter 34. Closing In
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Adrift On The Pacific: A Boys Story Of The Sea And Its Perils - Chapter 34. Closing In Post by :JesSimaca Category :Long Stories Author :Edward Sylvester Ellis Date :May 2012 Read :2942

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Adrift On The Pacific: A Boys Story Of The Sea And Its Perils - Chapter 34. Closing In


When the sun sank in the western horizon, the situation of the two craft had not materially changed. The larger had perceptibly gained upon the smaller; but a good distance still separated them, and both parties were doing their utmost. The wind was blowing stronger than at mid-day, but it was not such a gale as had been feared, and our friends were not without hope of eluding the natives, who were endeavoring to overtake them.

Inez Hawthorne could not avoid seeing how matters stood, though she was far from suspecting the whole truth. Mr. Storms told her that the other boat contained pirates, who were doing their utmost to overtake them, and they were striving their hardest to prevent it. As it stood, there was a prospect of a fight, in which she would likely be called upon to take part. She smiled, looked reverently upward, and said she was ready whenever needed, and then she remained as cool and watchful as either of her friends.

Mr. Storms advised her not to go to sleep, as the coming night must decide the case one way or the other for them.

"No fear of my sleeping," she said. "I realize our position too well to do that."

"And Inez," whispered Storms, "these two savages on board are the worst sort of men. Keep watch, and do not place yourself in too dangerous a position respecting them."

"I have been alarmed more than once at their looks and mutterings."

As the sun went down, it was a curious sight when the double canoe rose on a swell and was outlined against the flaming disc behind, as we have described the ship and the moon more than three years before.

The sight was a strange one, though it lasted but a moment, when the craft went down, and the smaller proa swiftly climbed the long slope of the watery mountain in front. The round moon speedily rose in the sky, and it was so bright that it was hard to tell when twilight ended and its light began.

Never did Storms and Sanders long for utter darkness more than on the present occasion. Had the moon been obscured, they would have made a sharp turn in their flight, with every prospect of throwing the others completely off their trail, and with every reason to hope for a clean escape before sunrise.

But the flood of moon light prevented either proa losing sight of the other.

"There's only one thing left to us now," said the young captain.

"And that's to fight."

Fred nodded his head.

"Well, we can do that. But I wish we were well rid of these fellows with us. It puts us between two fires, and there can be no doubt they suspect the truth."

"I am sure of that. Hello!"

Mr. Storms had hold of the steering-oar, and Fred was sitting close to him when he uttered the last exclamation, and, springing forward, hastily drew his pistol, took a quick aim and fired.

A frenzied howl followed, and one of the crew made a furious plunge far out into the sea, and, going down like a log, never came up again.

"Over with you, too!" shouted Sanders, in their native tongue, his eyes flashing; "not an instant, or I'll shoot!"

The savage did not hesitate, with his knife clenched in his hand, and the young captain leveled his pistol at him.

The sight of the muzzle so close to his skull, and the finger resolutely pressing the trigger, were too much, and the savage made a tremendous leap, like a tiger springing from his hiding-place, went far out into the sea, and, quickly coming to the surface, blew the water from his mouth, and began swimming with a swift, powerful stroke in the direction of the pursuing boat.

"Did you see that?" inquired Sanders, beginning coolly to reload his pistol.

"What do you mean?"

"Did you know why I fired as quickly as I did?"


"That wretch had drawn his knife, and was moving in the direction of the unsuspecting Inez, sitting there. I overheard him say something which aroused my suspicion, and he was in the very act of raising his knife when I fired."

"Is it possible? He deserved death, then, and you finished him. But what purpose could they have in killing an innocent girl like her?"

"Pure fiendishness--that's all. Then they meant to make their attack upon us, and they would have made things lively."

"But how much better it would have been had they waited until the others attacked, when they could have made a fatal diversion?"

"Most certainly; but their course shows the nature of the wretches. They are so fiendish and so eager to fight that they have no judgment."

"Are we heading toward Wauparmur, Fred?"

"No; we are steering wide of it."

"Since, then, we are engaged in a regular chase for that port, why not head straight for the island, so as to have that advantage, at least?"

"You are right, for there is nothing to be gained by maneuvering to throw them off the track."

Fred Sanders took a small compass from his pocket, and studied it carefully for a minute or two by the light of the moon. Then he gave directions to Storms to bear more to the left, or the westward, until finally he informed him that they were heading directly for the port where all their hopes were now centered.

The wind fell slightly, but the pursuing boat steadily gained, and it was impossible to see how our friends could escape a hand-to-hand fight with the pirates, and there could be but one issue to such an encounter.

The islanders were thoughtful enough to lower their immense sail, and stand by until they could pick up their comrade struggling in the water, actuated probably as much by curiosity to know the facts as by humanity.

This gave our friends a show once more, and they drew away from their pursuers; but, alas! not to an extent to leave them out of sight, and until they could do so, they could not hope to accomplish anything.

Mr. Storms was not without a strong hope of seeing some friendly sail, to which they could hasten for assistance, and he continually searched the horizon, telling Inez to do the same.

Captain Fred did not expect anything of that nature, and, since the glasses were in his hands, he kept them turned most of the time in the direction of the double canoe, and called out his information and orders to his mate at the helm.

Of course the distance was much less than a mile, or the proa would scarcely have been discernible, but the moonlight was strong, such as those who live in temperate zones can hardly realize, and the illumination of the sea was wonderfully brilliant.

Both Fred and Storms, who had spent years in the South Seas, agreed that they had never seen anything like it before, and, for all purposes, it might as well have been broad day. The finest print could have been read with ease, and the glasses leveled at the approaching boat showed the crowds of swarthy pirates on board, all as eager as wolves to come up with the craft, which they were gaining so steadily upon.

And the fugitives knew well enough what the sequel would be. The rival of Captain Fred would want no better excuse for cutting him and his companions to pieces, and the wealth in their possession would be more "loot" than the same parties could obtain in a dozen piratical expeditions.

"But they shall never get a pennyworth of it!" said Abe Storms to Fred.

The latter lowered his glass and looked inquiringly at him.

"When it becomes absolutely certain that they have got us, I shall throw all the pearls overboard, so that they shall gain nothing more than our lives."

"That's right; only," said the young captain, with a smile, "I advise you not to be in too much of a hurry about it, for you will feel somewhat mortified if we reach Wauparmur, after all, and you find you have cast your whole wealth into the sea."

"I shan't lose my head," said the mate, with a laugh, "unless one of them takes it off."

Inez Hawthorne was silent at the prow of the proa, where she was looking for the longed-for sail, which, alas! was never to appear, for she, too, had come to believe there was no other hope for her and her friends.

Mate Storms and Captain Fred happened to turn their heads at the same moment, and were looking at the double proa coming up with them very rapidly, when each uttered an exclamation, for they suddenly saw a red flash at the prow of the boat, a puff of smoke, and then the report of a musket reached them almost at the same instant that the whistle of the bullet through the rigging was heard.

"By George, they are firing at us!" said Fred, as if it was not the most natural thing in the world for them to do.

"Yes, and they're aiming pretty well, too, for that shot went through the sail!"

"I hardly supposed they were near enough to do that, but they are in earnest. Wouldn't it be a good idea to reply to their hail?"

"It would, most undoubtedly!"

Putting up his glass, Captain Fred dived forward, brought out one of the muskets, and taking deliberate aim, fired at the approaching craft.

His shot was a fortunate one, too, for the cry which instantly followed showed that some one was struck. The others did not fire again for some time, but seemed to concentrate all their energies and attention upon the pursuit, which was turning more and more every minute in their favor.

"I don't see any escaping a fight," said Fred Sanders. "Inez says she hasn't caught a glimpse of a sail, and I am sure she won't. We may as well bring our guns here and be ready to repel boarders."

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