Part 2 out of 3
"I think we had better push straight on, Dave. If they were coming along
in the dark it would be a different thing; but they would not go a
horse's length afore they missed our tracks, and even if we muffle the
critters' feet, they are strong enough to send a party each way."
"So they are, Zeke; but it would be a sight better to fight a third of
them than the hull lot."
"I think that it would be better to push on, Dave," Boston Joe said.
"There ain't no saying where these narrow valleys lead, they wind and
double every way; besides, they are dry, so I says let us push on till
we get into one of the main valleys."
"Well, we will do it, Joe; anyhow, we may as well do as I say and muffle
their feet. The Injuns will know what we have done when they see the
tracks stop here, but, as you say, they won't know whether we have gone
straight on or turned up one side or the other. I guess most likely they
will think that we have turned up; anyhow, they are sure to divide."
No further talking was necessary. The blankets were all cut up, bunches
of dry grass were laced under the horses' feet to form a pad, and the
strips of blankets wound round and round and securely fastened.
"Now, on we go again, lads," Dave said, setting the example, and they
rode straight down the ravine ahead of them. Two hours later the
blankets were taken off and thrown among the bushes, the rocks having
cut through them, they were useless any longer to conceal the tracks,
and they incommoded the horses. A mouthful of water was given to the
animals, and they again started at a brisk pace. The sides of the valley
were now narrowing in again, and becoming much steeper; the trees had
ceased, and the bare rock rose in some places almost precipitously.
"The water rises high here when there is a storm," Zeke said. "You see,
it is pretty nigh closed up somewhere in front here."
"All the better," Dave said; "we can make a fight for it in a place like
that, and hold it till dark. They can't be far behind us now. Stop the
horses a moment and listen."
A faint sound was heard.
"That is them," Dave said; "they aint above a mile behind; push on till
we find a good place to make a stand."
Another five minutes they entered a gorge so blocked with rocks that had
fallen from above that they had the greatest difficulty in leading the
horses over them.
"It could not be better," Dave said. "We can stop them here. Zeke, do
you go on with Dick, see how far this goes, and what the chances are
when we get out of it. If you can see any way of climbing the side of
the valley come back and tell us. Then I reckon the best thing will be
for you to take the horses down and go straight up, leaving Dick to tell
us exactly where you have gone up; then, as soon as it is quite dark, we
will be off and follow you; they won't be able to pick up the trail and
will guess we have gone straight down the valley. Anyhow, it will give
us another twelve hours' start."
Zeke nodded. "We may as well take the critters down at once," he said;
"it may be two or three miles before we can find a place where we can
get out of this valley, and there aint no use making two journeys of
Somewhat reluctantly Dick followed Zeke, driving the horses before them.
They had been gone but five minutes when he heard the crack of a rifle
"Do you think they are sure to be able to hold that place?"
"They are safe for some time, anyhow," Zeke said. "As soon as the
redskins see they are brought to a stand they will draw off and wait
till the bands that have gone up the other valleys join them. No doubt,
as soon as they had made out our tracks again, they sent a kipple of men
off to fetch them back, but I reckon they wouldn't have seen them till
they got four or five miles down, and by that time the other bands would
have been as much farther up the side-valleys, and the messengers would
have a long ride before they overtook them--ten or twelve miles,
maybe--and they would have all that to come down again, so they would be
pretty well four hours before they had joined the first band, and in
four hours it will be dark enough for Dave to draw off."
"There they go again!"
Shot after shot echoed among the cliffs. The gorge extended for another
mile, and then widened rapidly. A mile and a half farther the sides were
clad with trees, and the slope, although still steep, was, Zeke said,
possible for horses to scramble up.
"They will go up there safe enough," he said, "five of them with nothing
to carry, and the other four ain't heavy loaded. You see them two trees
standing alone on the crest there?"
"I see them, Zeke."
"Well, that is to be your mark. You will make them out plainly enough in
the moonlight. I shall be just down beyond them. I need not tell you to
be keerful how you go when you get beyond the shelter of the trees
below. Dave will know all about that. Now you can be off back again."
Dick started back at a run, and in less than half an hour joined the
other three among the rocks.
"Found a place, lad?"
"Yes; they have started up."
"I am glad you are back. These fellows look as if they were going to
make an attack on us. They are about five-and-twenty of them, and I
guess they know as well as we do that it will be dark before their
friends join them. However, I don't think they will make a rush; they
will lose heart when three or four of their number get shot, and weaken
when it comes to climbing these rocks in face of our six-shooters. Now,
do you two lads keep below; get down right among the rocks, so that you
can fire out through some hole between them, and directly you have fired
get out of the line, for a stray bullet might come in."
Scarcely had the boys taken their position, and looked along their
barrels, when they saw a dozen dark figures spring up among the rocks
fifty yards away.
Two shots were fired by the miners, and two of the Indians fell forward;
then, one after another, the lads fired, as they felt sure of their aim,
while at the same moment two sharper cracks sounded close to them, for
the Colt at forty yards is as deadly a weapon as a rifle. Three more of
the Indians fell, and the rest sank down behind rocks and opened fire at
the position held by the whites. These reloaded rapidly.
"Now keep a sharp lookout," Dave said, "but don't fire unless they rise
again. Joe and I will make it hot for them as they raise their heads to
The rifles were fired but twice, and then the fire of the Indians
"I think we have accounted for two more," Joe said. "We shan't hear any
more of them. Seven out of twenty-five is a sharp lesson, and the first
man who fell was their chief, I reckon, and they will wait till the
sub-chiefs with the other bands come up. Now, the sooner the sun goes
down the better. There is one thing, it will be dark down here an hour
before it is on the hill-tops."
"Why shouldn't we fall back at once?" Tom asked.
"Because, like enough, they will open fire occasionally, and if we
didn't reply they would think we had made off, and would follow us, and
pick up the trail where the horses left the valley. We have got to wait
here until it is too dark for them to follow the trail. The moment it is
dark enough for that we are off."
It was just getting dusk, when Dave said, suddenly:
"There is one of the other bands coming up. They are a good bit away
yet, but I can hear them."
Dick could only make out a low, continuous murmur that sounded to him
like a distant waterfall.
"What do you think, Joe," Dave said; "would it be safe to make a run for
it? We might beat off the first attack, but some of us are safe either
to get killed or hurt too badly to travel. They will talk for a quarter
of an hour at least after they come up, and by the time they find we
have gone, and got their horses over these rocks, and got down to the
mouth of this gorge, it will be too dark for them to follow the tracks."
"I am with you, Dave," Joe said, as he discharged his rifle. "That is
one more wiped out. He was just going to fire to see whether we were
here still. That has answered the question; now let us be off. Go as
quiet as you can, lads, and don't make the slightest noise. Just creep
along until we are three or four hundred yards away. You may be sure
that they are listening."
For a quarter of a mile they moved very cautiously.
"Now I think we are safe," Dave said, breaking into a run.
At a steady trot they kept on down the gorge. Just as they reached its
mouth, they heard a faint yell in the distance.
"They have found we are off. They will be five minutes and more before
they have brought up their horses and got over the rocks, and they will
go pretty cautious, because they will be expecting to be ambushed. It is
getting pretty dark now; we shall be in among the trees before they are
Chapter XVI.--On The Return.
The trees began fully half a mile above the point where Zeke had made
his way up with the horses, and, running now at the top of their speed,
they were among them before the Indians issued from the gorge.
The fugitives went on at a slower pace among the trees, until they heard
a war-whoop, and knew that the leading Indians had passed out.
"Now throw yourselves down," Dave said, "and just lie as still as
mice--the slightest noise would tell them we had taken to the wood. We
want them to go straight on for a bit."
In four or five minutes they heard the tramping of horses, and a party
of Indians rode down the valley.
"There are over fifty of them," Dave whispered. "I expect the other two
bands must have come up together. Now let us get up as high as we can.
As long as they are galloping they won't hear any little noise we may
make, but mind how you go, lads. Don't step on a twig, don't brush
against any dead wood that might crack, and mind you don't set a stone
They climbed for ten minutes, and then came to a spot where they had a
view through the trees down the valley.
"There they are in a heap about a mile down," Joe said, and the boys in
the moonlight could see a dark mass gathered in the middle.
"They are having a talk over it," Dave said; "they know if we held on
down the valley they would have overtaken us by this time, and they know
we have taken to the wood one side or the other. I recken they won't
think it any use searching for us to-night, but maybe they will go
straight on for a bit. They won't know how long a start the horses may
have had, and will think we may have had them in the gorge, and have
mounted and ridden down. Yes; there they go. Now we can move on again
without fear of being heard."
Half an hour later they joined Zeke, who was with the horses a hundred
yards over the crest of the hill in a line with the two trees.
"No one hurt?" he asked, as they approached.
"Nary a scratch, Zeke. We have wiped out eight of them. The rest have
just gone tearing down the valley."
"Well, we had best be moving so as to get as far as we can before we
lose the moon."
"That won't be till within an hour of daylight," Zeke said. "Now, which
way shall we go?"
"I think we had better keep along the hillside, Zeke. We can travel fast
here, and can get so far that when they find the trail in the morning,
and follow us, we shall be too far away for them to overtake us before
So day after day they traveled, sometimes in deep ravines, sometimes
high up among the hills, sometimes coming upon a stream and taking in a
supply of water, and sometimes well-nigh mad with thirst. They had cut
up two of the empty water-skins and had made rough shoes for their
horses, and believed that they had entirely thrown their pursuers off
the trail, winding along on what was little more than a goat's track up
the steep face of a valley, the opposite side of which was a
perpendicular cliff. They had nearly gained the top when the crack of a
rifle was heard from the opposite cliff, which was not more than two
hundred yards away, although the depth of the gorge was fully a thousand
feet. Looking across they saw that nearly opposite to them stood an
Indian village, and that a number of redskins were running toward the
"Hurry up, hurry up!" Dave shouted. "It is too far for them to shoot
straight, but a stray bullet might hit us. Push on, lads, with the
ponies. We will give them a shot or two. Our rifles will carry that
distance easy enough."
The lads pushed on while the three miners opened fire. There was but
another fifty yards to climb. They could hear the sharp ping of the
bullets round them. One of the ponies gave a sudden start, stumbled
forward, and then rolled over the edge. In another minute the rest
gained the plateau.
"Oh, Dick, it is one of the treasure ponies," Tom exclaimed.
"That is a bad job, Tom; which is it?"
"Better him than the others. It was one of his bags that we took the
gold out of to make us up twenty pounds each, so there aint above
seventy pounds lost. Come on, let us get beyond range. We don't want to
lose any more." When they got two or three hundred yards further the
three men ran up.
"One pony has gone, I see," Dave said.
"Yes; it is the gray. He had only seventy pounds, you know, so if one
was to go it were best it should be him."
"Well, let us mount and be off, lads; like enough those Indians will
have to ride forty or fifty miles to get round this canyon, and come
here, but, anyhow, we may as well push on. It is lucky the horses have
done well the last day or two, and that we have got our water-skins
Another ten days of arduous toil, and, in turning a sharp corner in a
defile, they saw a number of men at work. As these heard the sound of
the horses' feet they threw down their picks and shovels, and seized
"Don't say anything about the gold," Dave exclaimed to the others. "It
is lucky it is all covered up."
As soon as the miners saw that the new-comers were whites they lowered
"Why, where on earth have you come from?" one of them asked, as they
"We have been making a prospecting tour among the hills."
"Have you found anything?"
"Yes; we have found a first-rate place, but the Apaches drove us off
from it when we had been at work only four days, and we have had hard
work to save our scalps. I have no objection to give you the
indications, for I will not go back again among them ramping Apaches not
to find solid gold. There is the map as I steered by. Them three points
are the Three Sisters, and that tree bears on the mouth of a narrow
canyon. There is gold there, you bet, and likewise the skeletons of about
thirty Mexicans who got killed there three or four years ago. Now, let
us have some grub; we finished our last ounce of flour yesterday, and
have been short for the last fortnight."
"You have had to leave everything behind, I see," the miner said,
looking at the eight horses.
"Yes; we had to make a clean bolt for it. However, in the four days we
were there we got about seventy pounds of gold, and we have stuck to
that. Now you know as much about it as we do. There is gold enough to
make you all rich, but you will have to fight, and fight hard, to get
there and come away again."
The horses were unsaddled and picketed, Dave and Joe taking care
themselves to unload the three packed ponies, and that the flat bags,
over which blankets had been stuffed, should not be noticed. They
stopped there for two days to rest the horses, and then proceeded on
their way, arriving at Pueblo a fortnight later. Thence they traveled
together to Santa Fe, and then hired a wagon and joined a large caravan
going across the plains east. When they reached St. Louis they
separated. A division was made of the gold, and the lads started by
train for New York, and the next day took their passages for England.
When Dick reached home he was received by his family as one from the
dead. The _Northampton_ had arrived three weeks before, and, from the
report Mr. Allen had given, they had slight hopes indeed that Dick would
recover from his wounds, although the letter that Tom had written three
days after he landed had given them some slight grounds for hope. The
letter had been shown to the owners of the _Northampton_, and as the
statements respecting the captain and the first mate were confirmed by
Mr. Allen and the third officer, the captain and first mate had been
summarily discharged from the service.
The astonishment of the lads' fathers when they found that each lad had
brought home a hundred pounds of gold, worth about five thousand pounds,
was great indeed. With it shares were bought in the ships of the
company, and when in time both attained the rank of master they had the
satisfaction of sailing in ships in which they held shares. Neither had
any inclination ever to embark again upon the operation of gold-mining.
The Stone Chest;
The Secret Of Cedar Island.
The Stone Chest.
Chapter I.--A Mystery Of The Storm.
"What a fearful night, Bob!"
"Yes, mother; it's about the worst storm of the season," replied Bob
Cromwell, as he entered the seaside cottage and shook the water from his
cap. "It will go hard on any vessel near the coast. The wind is rising
to a perfect gale. Just listen to it sing."
There was no need to listen. The storm was so violent one could scarcely
hear aught else. The little cottage, standing so boldly out upon the sea
cliff, shook and rocked from end to end as if preparing to leave its
"I see supper is ready," went on Bob. "By the way, was Mr. Vasty here?"
At once Mrs. Cromwell's face grew dark and troubled. It was an
aristocratic face, and plainly indicated that the lady had seen better
"Yes, he was here, Bob."
"And what did he say?"
"We must leave on Monday. The cottage has been sold over our heads."
Tears stood in Mrs. Cromwell's eyes as she spoke.
"Yes, my boy. He said he could wait no longer. He believes, as do all in
Sea Cove, that your father is dead."
"Perhaps he is," sighed Bob. "It is now over six months since the
_Bluebell_ went down. If he escaped in a small boat we should have heard
from him before this."
"Oh, I cannot believe your father dead, Bob," cried the mother, bursting
into tears. "If I thought that--" She did not finish.
Bob sat down to the supper table in silence. He had little heart to eat,
and swallowed the food mechanically.
Bob was seventeen years of age, bright, handsome, and fearless. He was
Mrs. Cromwell's only son and his father had been a sea captain.
We say, had been, for the _Bluebell_ had been wrecked some time before
and all in Sea Cove thought the captain dead--all saving Mrs. Cromwell,
who still hoped for his safe return--hoping, as it were, against hope.
Years before the Cromwells had been rich, owning four large trading
vessels. But bad luck had come and continued until the fortune dwindled
down to nothing but the ownership of the old _Bluebell_. It was then
that the captain had determined on a voyage to Alaska, taking with him a
party of men who wished to explore the new gold mines in that territory.
The _Bluebell_ was supposed to have gone down in sight of the coast and
only two of the survivors had thus far returned.
As time went by the little cottage, a poor affair at the best, was
mortgaged to pay outstanding debts. It was the last of the Cromwell
Bob worked at the docks, handling freight. It was not what he had been
brought up to, but it was the best employment he could obtain in the
"I don't see what's to be done, Bob," said Mrs. Cromwell, during a lull
in the storm. "We must move and I have only three dollars in all."
"Oh, I forgot!" he suddenly exclaimed, and pulled a ten-dollar bill from
his pocket. "Here, mother, is a little to help us."
"Why, where in the world did you get that, Bob?" she ejaculated.
"A young gentleman gave it to me--insisted I should take it."
"He said I saved his life."
"And did you?"
"Well, I don't know--perhaps," mused Bob. "You see, it was Captain
Randolph Sumner, the gentleman who owns that splendid new yacht down to
Marcey's. He fell into the water right in front of the incoming steamer
_Flag_, and I fished him out just as he was on the point of being
struck. He was very grateful and made me keep the money, although I
didn't want it and told him so."
That was all Bob said. He was too modest to mention that Randolph Sumner
had called him a hero and that the crowd standing by had given him a
cheer for his bravery.
"Ten dollars is a windfall," began Mrs. Cromwell. "Now if we--Gracious,
the signal gun, Bob!"
Bob sprang up from the table. He knew that sound only too well.
"Ship has struck, mother!" he cried. "I must go down and see if I can
help in any way."
And waiting for no reply, the youth grabbed up his cap and storm coat
and rushed out into the storm.
Bob was right--a ship had struck. Away off through the mist and rain he
could see the colored lights and the flash of the gun, calling for help.
The lifeboat men were already out and getting ready to launch their
"Look! look! The ship is going down!"
The cry thrilled everyone to the very heart. It was true. The stately
ship was sinking fast. Down she went and came up again, once, twice
--and then no more.
The lifeboat went out in a hurry, but it was of no avail. The storm had
done its work and all on board had perished.
No, not all. Walking at the foot of the cliff a little later, Bob heard
a low moan, and soon came upon the body of an aged seaman jammed in
between the rocks. The man was fearfully bruised and did nothing but
moan as the youth bore him up to the cottage.
Here he was made as comfortable as possible on a cot. It was an hour
before he was able to open his eyes.
"Where am I?" he asked faintly. "Oh, the storm. I was hit in the back--I
am dying; I know it. Take me to Mrs. Leon Cromwell."
At this utterance Mrs. Cromwell and Bob were both greatly astonished.
"I am Mrs. Cromwell, sir."
"You! It is not possible!"
"Mother tells the truth," put in Bob. "What do you want?"
"You are the wife of Leon Cromwell?"
"I am," said the woman.
"Heaven be praised! Who brought you to me?"
"I brought you to our cottage," returned Bob. "You lay unconscious on
"It is the work of Providence," murmured the sufferer. "I was on my way
hither when the storm overtook the _Mary Lee_. I--I--a drink--I am
Water with brandy was brought and the man revived a little. He glared
strangely at Mrs. Cromwell.
"I must speak quickly, for I am dying--I know it, feel it. I was sick on
board; that's why I know. The doctor said I couldn't live, and the storm
has only hastened matters. I want to talk to you about your husband."
"Is he alive?" came from mother and son simultaneously.
"He is--or was three months ago. At Zaruth, on the Siberian coast--where
the stone chest was left--we--more drink--quick!"
Again the sufferer had a relapse.
"The stone chest caused the trouble. There was gold and silver, and
after the wreck----"
"Never mind the gold and silver. Where is my husband?" interrupted Mrs.
"I was going to tell you. We started for--for----" The man gasped for
breath. "It's my head. We started for the coast, when the people living
there who had seen the stone chest, got together and--oh!"
The sufferer fell back in a spasm of pain, from which it was almost
impossible to revive him. At last he spoke again.
"He was made a prisoner, and;--water, or I die--I can't drink--it is
growing dark--the papers in my pocket are for you--and may Heaven
The man leaped almost to his feet, then fell back in another spasm. A
minute later he was dead. With tenderness mother and son cared for the
body. In one of the seaman's pockets was found a packet of papers yellow
Bob opened the packet and looked over the paper with interest. An hour
passed. Then the youth sprang to his feet.
"Mother, I am going to Cedar Island on the Siberian coast and to
father's rescue!" he cried, with sudden determination.
Chapter II.--Off For Zaruth.
"To Siberia--Cedar Island!"
"Yes, mother. From what I can make out, father is there, a prisoner of
some people called the Svlachkys, and all on account of a wonderful
stone chest, said to be filled with gold and silver."
"It cannot be true, Bob."
"I think it is. This dead sailor's name was Ruel Gross----"
"Ruel Gross!" Mrs. Cromwell started. "I heard of him before. Your father
said he possessed a wonderful secret."
"He did--about the stone chest. The whole truth is, so far as I can
understand, he got father to go up there in search of it. After it was
found they got into some trouble with the natives, and Ruel Gross
abandoned father to his fate. Here is a handmade map of the locality."
"Pray Heaven your father still lives," murmured Mrs. Cromwell. "But you
say you are going up there. How?"
"I don't know. But I'll find a way, even if I have to go up on a
Mrs. Cromwell shook her head.
On the following morning the dead body of the sailor was turned over to
the village authorities.
Between them mother and son decided for the present to say nothing to
the simple fisher-folks concerning Ruel Gross' revelation.
"They'll sneer at us--that's all," said Bob.
But Bob confided in his chum, Jack Larmore, an orphan boy of his own
age. Jack was tremendously interested.
"Say, Bob, I'll go along, if you say the word," he said. "I'm sick of
Sea Cove and the mean folks living around here."
That noon, when Bob returned home he found Captain Sumner present,
talking to his mother.
The captain had come to offer Bob a position on his yacht.
"I would like to go--if you're going up the coast," said Bob. "I want to
get to Alaska, and then to Cedar Island, off Siberia."
The rich yacht owner was much astonished. He proceeded to draw Bob out,
and an hour later had the youth's story in full. With Mrs. Cromwell he
looked over the papers and map.
Then he lit a cigar and began to pace up and down the parlor of the
"I've half a mind to cruise up there," he said. "To me, one place is as
good as another. I love to roam the wide world over, and have already
been to the South Seas and to the coast of Africa. What if I should take
you up there, my boy?"
"Will you?" shouted Bob, in quick delight. "Do it, and you shall have
the contents of that stone chest--if we can get it."
"No, I'll only want my share of it," laughed Captain Sumner.
On the next day they talked the matter over once more. The captain was a
widower with one child, a girl of fifteen. The girl, whose name was
Viola, said she would like to go up the coast to new lands. But she
would like Mrs. Cromwell, or some other lady, to go along.
Persuaded by Bob, Mrs. Cromwell said she would undertake the trip, and
before they knew it, all arrangements were made.
The _Dart_, as the yacht was named, was sent to San Francisco for
stores, and three days later Bob and Mrs. Cromwell and Jack Larmore left
Sea Cove, and left it forever!
It is not the purpose of this tale to tell of all that happened ere the
_Dart_ put to sea on that memorable voyage up the coast to Alaska.
For awhile all went well on board. But one day there was trouble among
the crew. The trouble grew worse and three of the fellows had to be put
They were let go later on, but ever after they showed their ugliness
only too plainly.
Bob and Jack were not idle while on board. Both did their full share of
work and both proved themselves good sailors.
A strong friendship sprang up between Mrs. Cromwell and Viola Sumner,
and the two became almost inseparable.
Bob found Captain Sumner a fine man to get along with, stern at times,
but always fair and square. He had, as he said, been a great rover, and
often told interesting stories of his adventures.
As days went by and they got further north it became colder. Then a
storm was encountered which took them many miles out of their course.
So suddenly did it fall upon them that the sails were blown to ribbons.
Viola Sumner, who was on deck, got drenched and nearly drowned. She was
saved by Bob only at peril of his life, and carried down into the cabin
And now we find the _Dart_ storm-beaten, but still water-tight, blown
far out to sea.
Bob, who had just come on deck, cast his eye first aloft, like the true
sailor he was becoming, and then around him.
Not more than half a mile distant towered an immense iceberg, its
topmost pinnacles glowing in the bright morning sun.
Other bergs floated to the southward, while to both east and west could
be seen long floes of rugged ice.
The yacht was trying to beat to the northward by making short tacks
through the ice-floes, but, as Bob could see, she made but little way.
"Have we done any good since I went below?" he asked Bok, a sailor who
"No, faith, yer honor. The current sets so fast to the south that sorra
a bit more north do we make in an hour than I could throw a cat by her
tail. It's wearisome work, yer honor, and, be jabers! it's bitterly
Bob buttoned his pilot coat closer around him and shivered.
"You are right, Bok."
Our hero looked around and perceived Jack Larmore's head above the
"Come down to breakfast, before it's cold," cried Jack.
Our hero made a bolt down the ladder after his friend.
"What is your opinion, Bob, about the men?" asked Captain Sumner, as Bob
took his place at the table. "I mean the rascals I had to iron up last
"Well, sir," replied our hero, "they seem to go about their duty all
right, but after our experience, we must never trust them."
"It's that scoundrel, Nockey, that I mistrust. The others are more fools
than knaves. He will never forgive that flogging I gave him."
"It served him all right," broke in Bob. "When we gave them the choice
of taking a couple of dozen or going ashore, not one hesitated."
"Well, even now, we have only eight hands and ourselves."
"What do you mean to do, papa?" broke in Viola. "Surely not go further
among these dreadful icebergs? I have read that ships are often crushed
"I should be only too glad to be out of these regions, dear; but, with
the wind and current against us, I don't know what to do."
As soon as breakfast was finished the captain went on deck. His eye
rested on the floe to the westward.
"Where are your eyes, you Irish lubber?" he shouted to the steersman.
"Don't you see yon ice closing in on us? You ought to have let me know
"Blest if I can see much change," muttered Bok.
"But I can. The channel is narrowed by half. We shall never get clear of
it before we are nipped. 'Bout ship, boys, and be smart!"
"All hands!" bellowed the mate.
In a couple of minutes the small crew were on deck, hauling in the ropes
The topsail-yards swung round, the helm was put hard down.
The sails shivered in the wind as the yacht came about.
"Put both the main- and fore-sails on her, Leeks. We must be out of this
trap as soon as possible," cried the captain.
It took some time to get full sail on the _Dart_.
Once done, however, she flew onward, with the wind on her quarter, at a
"Sixteen knots an hour! Bravo!" cried the captain. "Can't she move,
"That she can, sir. But I can't help dreading this still going through
the ice. There are few ships, except whalers, that have penetrated as
far as we, I should think."
"Right, sir. But desperate circumstances require desperate means. None
of us want to spend a winter here, and, though we happen to be fortunate
as to the time of year, another month or six weeks will see this sea
covered with ice."
Chapter III.--Among The Icebergs.
At that instant a shock nearly threw them off their feet.
Viola caught Bob's arm, and Mrs. Cromwell and the captain almost fell
"We are foul of the ice!" shouted the mate, rushing forward.
"What!" roared the captain. "Where's that rascally lookout? Down with
helm! The sea is full of loose ice."
For the rest of the day the _Dart_ was dodging through hummocks of ice,
which looked as if a floe had been broken up by a storm.
When Bob came on deck for his watch at midnight, it was intensely dark.
A thin scud shut out the light of the stars and moon.
He was joined by Jack, for the two lads usually kept watch together.
"I am afraid we are in a tight fix," said the latter. "I doubt if we
shall ever again find our way home."
"Never say die," cried our hero. "But look! What's that yonder?"
The two chums peered into the darkness ahead.
"I think there is a blacker spot than the rest over the starboard bow,"
said Bob, after a while.
"There are some blue signal-lights here. I'll ignite one," suggested
Retiring under shelter of the companionway he struck a light and ignited
the blue fire.
Clambering on to the bulwarks, and holding on to the forestay with one
hand, he held it above his head.
Right in front of them loomed two bergs, not a quarter of a mile apart,
the sea dashing in spray along their sides.
There was not a moment for hesitation.
"Port your helm!" sang out our hero. "Keep her so!" he added, as he saw
the bows of the schooner point for the narrow passage.
Jack lit another blue light, and thumped on the deck to wake those
In half a minute Captain Sumner and the mate were beside them.
"The bergs are closing in on us," said the captain quietly. "Go to your
helm, Bok; it will be safer."
The bergs were more than a mile long, and the vessel, under easy sail,
was not making more than six knots an hour.
"Here, gentlemen, take the halyards, and rouse up the topgallant sails.
I won't trust the crew on deck till the last minute."
With the assistance of the man Bob had relieved at the wheel, they soon
had the topgallant sails, which had been furled, chock-a-block.
"It will be a narrow squeak," muttered the captain, as he glanced at the
icebergs, whose tops seemed quite close, though the bases were yet some
distance from the schooner.
"Is there any hope?" whispered a soft voice in our hero's ear.
"I trust so, Miss Viola," he answered. "See! yonder is the end of the
ice mountain on the starboard bow."
"But how close they are!"
"They look closer than they are in reality," he replied.
All the time he was wondering if their end had really come.
Suppose the wind were to fail!
Fortunately for them, however, caught between the two bergs, it rather
increased in force than diminished.
The icy tops seemed now ready to topple down on the deck.
The waves, running up the sides of the bergs, lifted the vessel on their
swell as they rebounded.
Fifty yards on either side towered the glittering mountains.
Thirty yards, twenty yards! and the salt spray of the billows, which
dashed on the icy cliffs, fell on deck.
Viola's hand was clasped in Bob's, and our hero felt some relief in
facing death with her and his mother.
"Call your comrades," cried Captain Sumner to the sailor. "Give them a
chance for life. Come, Mrs. Cromwell, Viola, Bob, Jack--all of you.
Prepare to jump for the ice, when we strike! It's our only hope!"
Chapter IV.--The Escape From The Icebergs.
To Captain Sumner it looked as if the _Dart_ would surely be crushed.
"Be prepared to jump!" he sang out again.
But even as he spoke a strong gust filled the yacht's topsails.
She plunged forward.
The starboard berg was left behind, and the sea on that bow was open.
Bok instantly shifted the helm.
The _Dart's_ head fell away from the danger on the port bow.
A few minutes passed.
Then, with a crash as if an earthquake had riven a mountain chain, the
two bergs met.
Our hero, who, with the others, was watching with breathless interest,
saw them rebound.
Huge blocks and pinnacles of ice, thousands of tons in weight, fell into
the gap between them.
Before these could rise to the surface the ice mountains had again
A crunching, rending sound struck the ears of our friends, as the two
monsters ground their sides against one another.
The rugged summits fell into the sea, and formed smaller bergs.
The yacht was lifted on to the top of the giant waves caused by the
concussion, then sank into the hollow, only to be caught up again by the
still higher swell.
But the danger was over!
After escaping so narrowly being crushed the _Dart_ found the sea free
from ice, and made good way to the southward.
However, about eight bells on the following day, a gale sprang up from
the northeast, which drove down the eastern floe in dangerous proximity.
The waves rose, and sheets of spray flew ever the fast-driven schooner.
It was so cold that, in spite of all the warm clothing they could find
on board, all hands felt numbed.
"Land ahead!" was an appalling cry which rang out suddenly.
Captain Sumner himself hurried forward.
A rough, rocky island, the waves dashing in foam against its low cliffs,
was discerned through the flying spray.
Already the edge of the eastern floe was crushing itself to pieces
against the projecting reefs.
On the right, or western side, was a lane of broken water.
To venture into it was very dangerous, but seemed their only chance.
Bok and another sailor were at the wheel.
Over it went, strained down by their united strength, and the _Dart_
dashed through the breaking water.
The western side of the island was about a mile long.
Twice, by porting the helm, the little vessel escaped clear of rocks,
over which the water spurted.
As she approached the southern end of the isle, Bok, who had been sent
into the foretop, shouted that again there was land ahead, and that the
passage between was full of ice.
The captain ascended the shrouds himself, halfway to the top.
"It's like a cauldron," he exclaimed on descending. "No ship, except
perhaps a very powerful steam whaler, could live in it.
"There is only one chance for us," he continued. "We must get under
shelter of this island."
As the south coast line opened, the helm was put down, and the vessel
was hove to under a high cliff and jutting cape, which protected her
from the rush of the ice-laden current.
Both anchors were at once let go.
Fortunately they found good holding ground.
All the rest of that day, and till dawn the next, did the gale rage; but
as the short night passed, the wind sank, and by midday it was but a
The current running between the islands soon swept the ice away.
But before trusting himself in these strange waters the captain
determined to send a boat across to the greater island, on which rose a
rugged hill of considerable height.
Both Mrs. Cromwell and Viola begged for a run on shore, so the larger
boat was manned by Bok and three seamen, Bob and Jack each taking an
oar, while the captain and the women occupied the stern-sheets.
Chapter V.--The Arctic Island.
Once on the island, it was seen that the hill rose on its southernmost
The ground was rocky, and covered with deep patches of snow in sheltered
"I don't like the look of that," observed the captain. "That is this
year's snow. Once the frost sets in we are done."
Finding it hard work to traverse the direct route, they made for the
Here, though they had to clamber over hillocks and steep rocks, they got
Suddenly Bok, who was in front, uttered a shout.
On the others hastening up they saw the cause of his astonishment.
Beached in a little bay, with her topmasts gone and the hulk lying over
on the port side, was a brig.
The water only washed her rudder-case, and the captain noticed, to his
dismay, a thin coating of ice fringing the shore of the inlet.
Not a sign of life was to be seen.
"We must examine her before we do anything else," exclaimed Bob.
Captain Sumner looked at his watch.
"We can spare an hour," he said, "but not more."
There was a rush down the steep rocks on to the sand.
Arriving alongside, for some time they could find no means of climbing
on board, till our hero found a rope hanging from the port-bow, which,
on being pulled, seemed strong and firm.
As soon as he, the captain, Bok, and one of the men were on deck, which
sloped acutely, Bob called to the ladies to say that he would fetch a
chair, or something to serve as one, and hoist them up.
To their surprise the companionway was not blocked with ice and the
doorway was shut.
It opened easily, and our hero was the first to descend.
An extraordinary scene presented itself to his eyes directly they got
accustomed to the gloom.
Seated at a table, some upright, others with their heads sunk in their
folded arms, which rested on the table, were the shrunken bodies of a
dozen or more men.
So life-like were they that not until he had summoned up courage to
touch one did Bob believe them dead.
Some empty bottles, and a cup or two, stood on the table.
They might have dropped to sleep after a carouse.
If they had it was the sleep of death.
Remembering his promise, Bob looked around for a chair.
Not seeing one unoccupied, he was obliged to lift up one of the bodies
and lay it on a locker.
Within another locker was found a length of stout rope, which seemed
uninjured, and, accompanied by Bok, he repaired on deck and hastened to
The chair was soon rigged, and Mrs. Cromwell and Viola were hauled on
To prepare them for the ghastly sight, our hero told them and Jack what
they would see.
Opening a door at the bulkhead, Captain Sumner, closely followed by the
two lads and the others, stepped into a narrow passage, which had berths
on each side.
Passing through a second door they came into a square room, in which was
built a clay and stone fireplace.
The captain stopped short.
A fire smoldered on the hearth.
"Hullo!" cried the captain. "Someone still lives!"
"Yonder lies the body of a man!" exclaimed Viola, who had crept to Bob's
side and taken his arm between her hands.
"Don't be afraid," he whispered. "We must be glad that we have arrived
in time, if indeed we have."
The captain and Bob advanced to the prostrate man's side.
He was lying on a rug of seals' skins, with another pulled over him,
under which was a blanket.
"He lives!" cried the captain, placing his hand over the heart of the
After a minute a faint color mantled his white cheek and he heaved a
Presently the eyelids trembled, and a moment later he opened them.
They rested on the captain, who was stooping over him.
A look of surprise came into them, but they almost immediately closed
A dose of hot brandy was given.
This time he recovered considerably, and looked round him inquiringly.
"You will do now, my man," cried the captain encouragingly. "Try him
with the food," he added.
Mrs. Cromwell brought the roughly minced meat and soddened bread and
placed a spoonful in the sufferer's mouth.
He swallowed it eagerly.
After he had taken some half-dozen spoonfuls he turned his head on the
pillow and fell asleep.
"He will be all right now," whispered the captain. "But someone must
stay with him while we ransack the ship."
A second door led forward, and, leaving the watchers, the rest of the
party passed through it.
Forward was found a number of great casks, such as are used to receive
the blubber cut from the whale.
"She is a whaler, evidently," exclaimed the captain.
In the forecastle there was nothing except some hammocks and a chest or
"We can get warmer clothing than what we possess, anyhow," remarked the
captain. "Now, what's the best thing to do?"
"We can carry the man back in a hammock," suggested one. "I doubt it,"
replied the captain. "What I propose is that some of us stay the night
with him, and we will return in the morning, by which time he will be
On their return to the square room, Bob and Jack volunteered to remain.
This done, Bok was delegated to bring them some supper.
On arriving Bok first fastened to the rope the package he had brought,
which was drawn on board, and then the rope was lowered again.
"Be jabers! but it's cold, it is," he cried. "If I might be so bold, I
would jist suggest that we should go down below. How is the dead man?"
"He isn't dead yet," replied Bob, laughing. "But he is sleeping still. I
hope you have brought something good for him."
"Good, is it? There's a tin of soup, and another of salmon, besides a
piece of seal, that Leeks shot while we were away.
"Then there is a bottle of wine--that's for yerselves and the sick
man--and half a bottle of good rum, which I hope I may have my share in.
"Faith, there is enough to make us as merry and comfortable as if we
were waking the dead man below there."
Chapter VI.--The Madman.
Taking the things with them, they hastily descended the companionway.
It was not without a shudder that they passed the many bodies.
As they were preparing supper they noticed the sick man stirring.
"Who are you?" he suddenly muttered.
"We are Americans, like yourself," replied Bob. "Here, have something to
The man's eyes glistened.
"Give it me--quick!" he exclaimed, in a hoarse voice.
Jack, who had warmed some of the soup, brought it in a basin he had
found, with a spoon and a piece of bread.
Bob took it from him and fed the invalid slowly.
"More," cried the latter, when it was finished.
"Not yet," replied our hero. "Have a doze, and you shall have as much as
you want next time."
Giving him a glass of wine, they left him, and in a few minutes his
regular breathing showed that he slept again.
By this time the joint of seal was roasted, and the little party of
three sat down together.
"What can that noise come from?" exclaimed our hero, as he stayed his
fork halfway to his mouth to listen.
"I heard it once or twice before," returned Jack, "but thought it rats."
"Faith, but I hope there's no ghosts here," cried Bok. "Heaven stand
between us and harm."
"Bah! don't be foolish. It's rats, sure enough."
It was not long after this that the sick man sat up to partake of more
This done, he told his story.
He said he belonged to the whaler, _Cross of Gold_, which had been
caught in a large icepack.
"This pack we attempted to cross," continued the sailor, "by dragging
our boats over rollers we had brought with us.
"On the third day, however, a snow-storm set in, and continued for
"Knowing as how time was valuable, after a rest, we tried to make our
way through the drifting snow.
"But, after toiling for a long while, we found ourselves back where we
"The captain, I and one or two others wanted to try again, but the rest
"We, therefore, tried to turn the pack by coasting along it, but,
although we ran over a hundred miles along its edge, in a westerly
direction, never a lead did we come across which offered any hopes of
"At length we came to the end, where it was joined on to another pack,
which extended to the south.
"This we ran along till we saw high land before us.
"But all the shore was a rampart of old ice, so that it was next to
impossible to approach.
"However, we killed quantities of seals and saw many whales floating in
the open water.
"We then determined to make once more for the brig and start anew,
taking an easterly route.
"But our luck was out. We lost many days in finding these islands, and
when we did get back to them, hardly had we got on board than the
weather broke up.
"For days the snow was driven in whirling clouds all around us.
"The decks were covered feet deep.
"It was impossible to get out in search of food, and we were almost
"At length the weather cleared up, and we, with difficulty, forced our
way on deck.
"The whole view was changed.
"A sharp frost had set in, and bound the snow-covered country with iron
"Fresh ice had formed round the brig.
"I don't want to tell of the horrors of that winter.
"Some of us were mad, I guess."
"But what of the men frozen to death in the cabin?" asked Bob.
"Well, sir, we had built this kitchen, and the fireplace, and most of us
in an evening would sit here and smoke.
"But dinner and supper was mostly taken in the cabin, where the big
"It was the very bitterest of weather.
"Food at last there was none, except a lump of seal.
"It had been so awfully cold that none had dared venture out hunting.
"It was my day for being cook, and as soon as the joint was done we
carried it into the cabin, which was warmed with a stove."
"Well, go on, man," exclaimed our hero, for the sailor had suddenly
stopped in his narrative, as if some distant sound had caught his ear.
"Beg pardon, sir. Well, in spite of the stove, the meat was no sooner
cut in slices than it was cold.
"I took mine back to the fire and rewarmed it.
"There was still a good supply of rum, and I took a swig at the bottle,
and then, whether because of the cold or the rum, I don't know, but I
fell sound asleep in front of the blaze.
"I woke up numbed with cold.
"The fire was nearly out, and the first thing I did was to make it up.
"Then, after heating myself a drop of grog, I fell to wondering what had
become of my comrades.
"I stumbled along the passage, which felt as cold as the grave, and
there, just as you see them now, sat our cap'n and his crew, frozen to
"The fire in the stove was out, and the companion door open.
"I took up one of the bodies, after I had recovered my nerve a bit, and
dragged it along the passage into the kitchen.
"But I could not restore it to life, though I tried hard.
"So you see, sir, here have I been--Heaven in mercy! what's that?"
The sick sailor had risen to his feet.
Bob and Jack had done the same.
Bok crouched near the fire, with a horror-struck look in his eyes.
"It's the dead walking, maybe," he gasped.
A muffled thump, thump, thump! was again heard.
A minute or more passed.
Then our hero again seized a brand, and made a rush along the cabin
Jack followed, and after him Bok.
A glance sufficed.
The body from the head of the table had disappeared.
"What can it mean?" exclaimed Jack. "I don't think I am a coward, but
this is horrible."
"Something in that sick man's face tells me he has not spoken all the
truth. We must have it out of him," said our hero.
But at that moment a mournful howl came from above.
Rushing to where their arms were stacked, Bob and Jack seized each a
rifle and made their way on deck, not heeding, in their excitement, a
cry not to fire from Horton, the sick man.
On lifting their eyes aloft they beheld a singular-looking object gazing
at them over the edge of the foretop.
It appeared to be some huge animal, though of what kind they could not
Scarcely waiting to consider what they were doing, Bob and Jack prepared
A wild shriek echoed along the deck.
"Stop that noise!" cried Bob, glancing round and seeing that Horton had
managed to ascend the companion ladder.
Bob had thrown up his rifle to his shoulder, when the weak voice of the
sailor arrested him in the act of firing.
"For heaven's sake, sir, don't fire! It's murder, nothing else."
As Horton spoke, the object of his solicitude, with incredible speed,
slid down the forestay and disappeared through the scuttle of the
"Please, sir, listen to me."
"All right; only be quick, and don't talk such nonsense about it's being
With their guns in their hands, and taking good care to shut the door
both at the top and bottom of the companionway, the two lads followed
Bok and Horton through the dark death-cabin and passage to the kitchen,
lit up by the cheerful firelight.
"Now, say what you have to, and be quick about it," cried our hero. "I
can't rest quiet when a huge wild animal is within a few yards of us,
though how it got there I can't imagine, for I thought there were no
such things in the polar regions."
"That animal, as you call him, is Charlow, one of our sailors. He has
No more was just then seen or heard of the crazy sailor, and the party
retired for the balance of the night.
When the captain came from the yacht he brought Mrs. Cromwell and Viola
with him, but left them in the small boat.
Bob quickly repeated Horton's tale.
"We must capture that madman and bind him with ropes," said Captain
To this all, including Horton, agreed.
The descent to where the madman had disappeared was quickly made, but he
could not be found.
"Hark!" cried Bob suddenly.
A wild cry of alarm arose on the cold air, coming from off the water.
"It's my mother and Miss Viola crying for help!" Bob went on.
"We must get to them at once!" returned Captain Sumner.
The party were quickly on the snow, running toward the small boat, Bob
and Jack leading.
When they came in sight of the craft a scene met their gaze which filled
them with horror.
The madman had boarded the boat and was in the act of shoving off.
Terror-stricken, Mrs. Cromwell and Viola shrank back on the stern
"Stop! stop!" yelled Bob.
With a snarl the madman bent to his work. Soon the boat was in deep
In desperation Bob leaped into the water after it.
Ere he could reach the craft the madman picked up the long ice pole and
aimed a vicious prod with it at our hero's breast.
Bob was struck squarely, and on the instant disappeared beneath the
surface with the shrill laugh of the crazy sailor ringing in his ears.
Chapter VII.--A Fearful Fall.
"Where am I? Where are mother and Miss Viola?"
It was Bob who spoke. Jack Larmore stood over him in the snow.
"You're all right--I got you out of the water," Jack made answer.
"And the others?"
"Gone! In the power of that madman?"
Bob gave a groan and leaped up. His breast hurt him not a little.
"Where is Captain Sumner?"
"The yacht has given chase. Look!"
Jack pointed up the coast. The yacht was disappearing around a distant
But in a hour the vessel returned. The captain's sad face told his
story. He had been unable to catch the crazy fugitive and rescue his
daughter and Mrs. Cromwell.
What was to be done? Night came on rapidly, and they were compelled to
wait until morning.
At early dawn Bob and Jack commenced to climb a near-by hill of ice to
look for the small boat.
It was perilous work, but they did not falter.
At length they reached the level summit and glanced down.
The yacht looked beautiful as she lay to, with her topsails backed, and
every movement of the figures on deck could be distinctly seen.
Crossing some rough, porous ice, they came to the pinnacle.
This was rougher than it had looked from below, and they found not much
difficulty in mounting.
Soon they reached the summit, or, rather, within a few yards of it,
where there was a tolerably safe and level spot.
With anxious speed, Bob extended the telescope, which he had carried
slung over his shoulder.
For some time he swept the ocean in vain, but at length, far to the
westward, just on the edge of the horizon, he caught sight of a white
speck, which could be nothing but a sail.
"Look, Jack, and tell me what you think!" he exclaimed.
"I can see it!" cried the latter, after a lengthened search. "I agree
with you--it must be a boat-sail; anyway, it's too distant to be a
bird's wing. It must be many miles off."
"Let's make haste and descend!" cried our hero. "My chest, where the
fellow struck me, is getting stiff up here in this rare air."
Most haste less speed.
They had reached within twenty feet of the level portion of the berg
when our hero slipped.
His arm could not bear his weight, and he half fell, half slid rapidly
to the bottom of the peak.
"Are you much hurt, old fellow?" exclaimed Jack, as soon as he could
reach his friend's side.
"Only bruised, I think. Just help me up."
When assisted to his feet it was evident that Bob had twisted his ankle,
or slightly strained it.
"Misfortunes never come alone," he said, with a laugh. "We must get on.
If I find the descent difficult, you must help me."
A stream of water from the melting of the ice on the peak ran along in a
little channel it had worn, to where it came to the ravine.
Here it fell over in a cascade, and divided, one part, now joined by
other trickling streams, descended the gorge into the sea, the other
flowing into the mouth of an ice cavern.
The friends had crossed about half the summit of the berg when a sudden
gust of wind, forming an eddy, blew up a cloud of ice dust.
These tiny particles stung like needle points when carried by the breeze
against the faces of the two boys.
They had to stand still and cover their eyes with their hands.
When the dust subsided they again hurried forward.
At the edge of the ravine a fiercer gust than the first hurled up
millions of icy particles.
They glittered like a cloud of diamond dust in the sun's rays.
Wishing to escape, both the lads dropped on to the lower ledge.
"It's worse here than ever," exclaimed Bob, holding his rifle in one
hand and placing the other so as partly to protect his face. "Let's get
into yonder cave."
They both ran toward it--that is, Jack ran, and Bob hobbled after.
The former had only just time to see that the floor of the cavern sank
at a sharp angle, when he felt his feet fly from under him.
Our hero, arriving at the cave's mouth at the instant of his friend's
fall, was horror-struck to see him slide on his side toward the edge of
a dark abyss, over which the water trickled.
"Help, Bob!" cried Jack, in vain trying to regain his feet.
Our hero clearly saw the fearful danger of his comrade's position.
Jack's feet were already over the edge.
"I am gone! Help!" he gasped.
Then, with a stifled cry, he disappeared over verge of the abyss.
Chapter VIII.--A Remarkable Story.
"Jack! Jack!" shouted Bob.
A sound as of falling rocks or ice blocks reached his ears, but no
The echoes of the falling masses died away.
Bob was filled with dismay at the dreadful ending of his chum.
He had reached his gun to him, but Larmore had been unable to grasp it.
He shuddered as he thought of Jack's feelings as he felt himself
shooting over the precipice.
There was nothing to do but to return.
He found, lame as he was, the path extremely difficult.
But at length he reached the yacht and told his story.
"It's dreadful," said Captain Sumner. "First my daughter and your
mother, and now your friend, a young gentleman we all liked and I, for
one, looked on as a comrade, for we fought side by side against that
rascally crew of ours."
The captain was quite affected.
When the _Dart_ was once more going through the water in the direction
in which Bob had seen what he took for a boat sail, he came to the side
of our hero, who stood leaning on the after-bulwarks, gazing at the
berg, whose southern point they were now passing.
"He was a fine young fellow!" he exclaimed, "and would have made a good
"But what are you looking at?"
"A seal, sir," said Bob. "Don't you see it, lying in the shade of that
block of ice, on the ledge, lapped by the swell?"
"Seals don't lie in the shade--they bask in the sun. Give me the glass,
But our hero was already drawing it out to his focus.
No sooner did he get it pointed correctly than he uttered a cry of
"That's his body!" he exclaimed. "At all events, a man's body. How on
earth did it come there?"
A small boat was still towing astern.
Bob, forgetful of his sprain, lowered himself into her, and grasped the
oars, while the captain followed.
"Hold hard!" shouted the mate.
Our hero impatiently, though he never for a moment expected to find his
friend alive, complied.
In two minutes Leeks reappeared and let down a flask into the boat.
Our hero dashed the oars into the water, and the small boat moved faster
over the heaving face of the ocean than she had ever done before.
"Don't deceive yourself. If it is your friend, he can't be alive," said
the captain, as they approached the body of the ledge.
"It is Jack!" he added, a couple of minutes later. "But how on earth did
he come there?"
Another score of vigorous strokes brought the little boat alongside the
Hardly waiting to fasten the painter, they rushed to the body.
It was lying on its back, and as Bob bent over it he noticed a faint
tinge of color on the cheek.
"He's only stunned, I believe, after all," cried our hero.
The captain unscrewed the top of the flask and poured a mouthful of wine
between the teeth of the senseless lad.
In a minute it took effect.
Jack sighed and opened his eyes.
"Let's get him on board the yacht at once," exclaimed the captain.
First, however, he passed his hand along each limb, and then felt Jack's
The patient winced at the last experiment and uttered a low cry.
"Legs and arms all right," muttered the captain, as he with our hero's
help carried the boy to the small boat; "so, if a rib's broken, he must
consider himself well out of a bad scrape."
Bob again pulled his hardest, and when alongside the yacht his comrade
with some difficulty was got on board.
It was not until late that evening that Jack was able to tell of his
"I don't know much about it," he said, "but never shall I forget the
awful feeling as I shot over the edge of the precipice.
"Of course I thought that I should fall down a well that penetrated
right through the berg into the sea.
"However, instead of that, I did not fall a great distance before I came
down feet first among a lot of pieces of loose ice, or, if not loose,
they gave way with me, and together we went clattering down a second
"All of a sudden I was pulled up by my rifle, which was slung round my
shoulders, getting jammed across the passage.
"I tried to gain my feet, but failed; the slope was too smooth and
"There was but one thing for it, and that was to go on.
"I slipped the sling over my head, and away I went again.
"Then came another fall.
"This nearly knocked me senseless.
"I just remember another slide, then daylight, then a last fall, and I
lost all consciousness, only coming to myself to find you leaning over
"How is your side?" asked the captain. "Your escape was most wonderful.
Another foot farther, and you would have been drowned."
"It was, as you say, a narrow escape. As for my side, I must say it's
However, on the captain pressing it, he came to the conclusion that no
ribs were broken.
It was bandaged up, and Jack was able to walk about, thankful that
things were not worse.
Chapter IX.--The Volcano Of Ice.
For three long days the _Dart_ bore away northwest, the direction in
which the last had been seen of the missing boat.
"Luckily it's the right course to steer for the Siberian coast,"
remarked the captain, as he sat over his wine after midday dinner. "We
shall sight the high land to-morrow morning, if not before"
"Surely we shall come across the boat in time, captain?" remarked Bob.
"Well, we have had wonderfully fine weather," replied the captain. "But,
after all she was but a cutter, handled by a lunatic."
And he and Bob interchanged looks of despair as they ascended the
"Bok, go to the foremast-head," ordered the captain. "Take the glass,
and have a look around."
The sailor slung the telescope over his shoulder and nimbly mounted the
When he arrived at the topgallant-yard he passed his arm round the
skypole, and, adjusting the glass, swept the line of the horizon.
There was a long pause.
"What is it?" bellowed the captain.
"Sure, there is a mist, or smoke right ahead, and above it I see what
looks like the top of a mountain," replied the Irishman.
"There is a low, flat berg."
"Nothing more? No sign of a boat-sail?"
"Nothing the size of a pocket handkerchief, yer honor."
"Well, we must give up the search for the present and start for the
Siberian shore. But I give you my word, Bob, I shall not give up this
hunt for many a week."
The wind fell light, and the _Dart_ did not make more than three knots
an hour during that afternoon.
The strange misty appearance still hung over the water.
They were gradually approaching it, and it was not more than a couple of
miles ahead, when, as the sun set, the captain and the two boys went to
supper, leaving Leeks in charge of the deck.
They had just finished their meal when the latter shouted down the
companion for them to come up.
An extraordinary scene met their gaze when they reached the deck.
The yacht was still in moderately smooth water, but a quarter of a mile
before her the sea was covered with a thick mist, while it was tossed
hither and thither in tumbling waves, which met and crossed one another
in wild confusion.
As they looked a thick body of smoke was belched from the midst of the
"Port! hard aport!" shouted the captain. "Round with the yards! Flatten
in the jib! Be smart, there!"
Rushing forward, followed by Bok and Jack, the captain himself seized
the rope and aided the sailors to execute his orders, while Leeks
attended to the jib.
Bok was at the wheel.
When on the new tack the _Dart_ was not a cable's length from the
"It's a subterranean eruption!" exclaimed the captain. "Look--look
Where he pointed, from the midst of the curling waves, a great black
patch of what seemed to be mud rose above the surface.
Round it were thick columns of smoke, which instantly shut it out from
The wind chopped round, and a fierce gust came, laden with steam and
smoke, from the north.
The yacht heeled over till her copper sheeting gleamed above the
Gasping for breath, for a fearful stench accompanied the smoke, which
enveloped them, all on board could do nothing but hold on to whatever
A rushing, roaring sound filled their ears as the _Dart_ dashed onward,
throwing the boiling water in showers of spray over her bows.
The men forward were forced to stagger aft.
It looked as if the _Dart_ was doomed!
Chapter X.--The Escape Of The "Dart."
For fully ten minutes no one could tell whether the yacht would right
herself or not.
Captain Sumner, aided by our hero and Jack, at length found the
topgallant halyards, and lowered the sail in the peak.
We say found, for the darkness was intense.
Then the gallant little vessel, as if freed from an overpowering load,
came up to her bracings.
Once more she flew with increased speed through the water.
A few seconds and the star-lit sky again appeared overhead, and the
rolling smoke wreaths were left behind.
"Heavens!" cried the captain; "never in all my life have I seen the
like. What a death to have escaped!"
As if exhausted with its own fury, the squall subsided as suddenly as it
had sprung up. The smoke gradually blew away.
And there, over the starboard quarter, some two miles distant, lay a
long, low, black island.
"Look! look!" yelled Bob suddenly.
All eyes followed his outstretched hand.
There on the shore rested a familiar-looking boat, containing three
figures--Mrs. Cromwell, Viola, and the madman.
Mrs. Cromwell and Viola were waving their hands. Then, assured they were
seen, both fell back unconscious.
As for the mad sailor, he never stirred. He was dead.
It did not take the captain and Bob long to reach the women folks. They
were taken on board the _Dart_, and, after Bob had kissed his mother and
the captain had hugged his daughter, and both were given food, they told
"When the madman struck Bob I nearly fainted," said Mrs. Cromwell. "When
I came to he had hoisted the sail, and we were leaving the shore. The
crazy fellow was eating some ship biscuit, which lay in a basket.
"When the madman had appeased his hunger he looked at us for some
minutes without speaking.
"We were dreadfully frightened, but he never once came aft to annoy us.
"He placed some tinned meat and water near us, and then sat by the mast,
singing loudly and rocking himself backward and forward.
"Viola and myself slept in turn; but the madman sat in the bow, looking
out ahead, hour after hour.
"When the wind rose and the waves broke into the cutter he reefed the
sail, and managed her wonderfully well.
"Still he never spoke.
"A shower fell, and Viola and myself collected the water and had a good
"Another time snow fell.
"This also we collected and put into the barrel.
"Time after time a fresh can of meat was placed out for us.
"But we ate very sparingly.
"I think at this period the man's senses were returning to him, for soon
after he spoke.
"He told us he did not know where we were, but trusted it was off the
coast of Siberia, and that we had every chance of being picked up.
"He said that his name was Charlow, and that he had been mate of a brig
that had been wrecked, but he had gone mad through misery, loneliness,
"We had just sighted the coast, when first the smoke from your vessel
came into view.
"Charlow was very weak, but he altered the direction the boat was going,
and told us how to steer toward you.
"Presently the yacht came in sight, and we tried to get him to put us on
board; but he was too weak, and just before Bob saw us he breathed his
Such was Mrs. Cromwell's narrative, and Viola corroborated it.
A happy day was spent on board of the _Dart_. "I trust we are never
separated again," said Bob to his mother.
"So do I, Bob," she returned fondly. Then she gave a sigh. "I wonder
when we will reach Cedar Island. I see nothing like cedar trees around
"The map has but one cedar on it," he returned. "It must have floated up