The noise he heard was the swift displacement of water. For some unaccountable reason, the vessel glided southward at a speed of eight or ten knots. In the uproar forward, Madden heard the cries: "Th' dinghy's swamped!" "We carn't reach 'er!" "Cut 'er loose and jump!" "We couldn't right 'er in th' water!" "Cut 'er and jump! Quick! 'Eaven knows w'ot's got us!" "Steady!
Hauling the dinghy's stem up on this piece of firm sloping ground, and making fast her painter to a convenient tree, as a further precaution, Cupid and I set out along the firm, well-beaten path, some six feet in width, which had been cleared through the dense and impenetrable bush that hemmed us in on either hand, tormented all the while by the dense clouds of mosquitoes and other stinging and biting insects that hovered about us in clouds and positively declined to be driven away.
The line evidently had been made fast to the dinghy's painter. Here, indeed, was something which gave every appearance of being underhand work. With the Golden Isle only a few hundred yards distant, and all hands to go ashore in the morning, there could be no other reason for stealing the dinghy than a plan to visit the island under cover of darkness. The plan foreshadowed treachery.
He moved as if to stretch his limbs and lay down once more, with his shoulders against the rail and his elbow covering the stanchion round which the dinghy's painter was made fast. The proper place for the dinghy was on deck should the breeze freshen. Barebone knew that as well as the French Captain of the "Petite Jeanne." For seamanship is like music it is independent of language or race.
The damp air was fogging the lenses, but I kept them to my eyes; for I did not want to look at Davies. At last I heard him draw a deep breath, straighten himself up, and give one of his characteristic 'h'ms'. Then he turned briskly aft, cast off the dinghy's painter, and pulled her up alongside. 'You come too, he said, jumping in, and fixing the rowlocks.
He had brought up one of the dinghy's oars on his shoulder as a sort of plaything or vaulting-pole. Suddenly, asking Pauline if she had ever seen him balance an oar on his chin, he proceeded to perform the feat, much to her amusement. In doing so he turned his back completely on the savage in ambush, whose cattish grin increased as the boy staggered about.
"Dead, am I? I'll show you whether I'm dead or not, Sir!" "Well, you may be a survivor," said Moorshed ingratiatingly, "though it isn't at all likely." The officer choked for a minute. The midshipman crouched up in stern said, half aloud: "Then I was right last night." "Yesh," I gasped from the dinghy's coal-dust. "Are you member Torquay Yacht Club?"
I crawled out from the folds, and saw him standing by the mast in a reverie. 'It's not much use, he said, 'on a falling tide, but we'll try kedging-off. Pay that warp out while I run out the kedge. Like lightning he had cast off the dinghy's painter, tumbled the kedge-anchor and himself into the dinghy, pulled out fifty yards into the deeper water, and heaved out the anchor.
But Dick save Dick." "I'm all right, Mr Roberts, sir," said the old sailor, hoarsely; "and the dinghy's made fast astern." "But are you speared, Dick?" said the middy. "Not as I knows on, sir. I ain't felt nothing at present, but I don't say as I ain't got a hole in me somewheres." "They'll get away," said Ali, just then, as he stood up with a double gun in his hand.
Gasping with the sudden shock, Ken struck out and got his head above water. Only a few yards away, he saw Roy still clinging tightly to the survivor of the dinghy's crew. He swam hard towards him and managed to reach him. 'You! gasped Roy, who hardly seemed to have realised what had happened. 'The trawler's gone, panted Roy, as he lifted one hand and dashed the salt water from his eyes.