He knew they would come soon; and he watched and waited. But, of course, to draw him on he pretended to be interested. While we were all in this attitude of mind, attending on Providence and Colonel Clay, we happened to walk down by the shore one day, in the opposite direction from the Seamew's island. Suddenly we came upon the Professor linked arm-in-arm with Sir Adolphus Cordery!
Sir Charles was flattered. He is susceptible to the pleasures of female attention, especially from the young, the simple, and the innocent. The wiles of women of the world he knows too well; but a pretty little ingénue can twist him round her finger. They rowed on and on, till they drew abreast of Seamew's island.
"And your signal, Blakeney?" asked Tony. "The usual one," replied Sir Percy, "the seamew's cry thrice repeated at brief intervals. But now," he continued, turning to Armand and Hastings, who had taken no part in the discussion hitherto, "I want your help a little further afield." "I thought so," nodded Hastings.
The weather having moderated by the next day, the Seamew's crew commenced salvage operations at the wreck, and for more than a week all hands were so busy, early and late, that Bob had literally no time to think about, much less to consult with old Bill respecting, Captain Staunton's proposal.
But the oddest part of it all was this, that from the moment those two people landed at Niggarey, and told the fishermen there were some gentlemen stranded on the Seamew's island, all trace of them vanished. At no station along the line could we gain any news of them.
It was a small trunk and brand-new, as was the bag. Had one observed, the hat she wore, and even her simple frock, were likewise just out of the shop. At least the girl who was going with the Seamew to Big Wreck Cove seemed to have made certain preparations for a new life. The captain came out on deck and closed the slide. The commercial tug was puffing in toward the Seamew's berth.
So I scrambled aboard without more ado, and became at once a member of the "Seamew's" crew. I hardly knew at first why I gave a false name. But the character of the vessel was doubtful, its destination uncertain, and knowing not what mission she was on I shirked to give my real name and station. The chance was desperate, yet not one whit more desperate than I.
All eyes were intently fixed upon it, impatiently watching its slow and somewhat erratic movements, when the smack seemed to leap suddenly skyward, rearing up like a startled courser, and heeling violently over on her beam-ends at the same moment; there was a terrific thud forward, accompanied by a violent crashing sound, and the Seamew's crew had barely time to grasp the cleat or belaying-pin nearest at hand when a foaming deluge of water hissed and swirled past and over them, the breaker of which it formed a part sweeping from under the smack down toward the wreck in an unbroken wall of green water, capped with a white and ominously curling crest.
It was a saint's day, and the brown people both men and women, ringed of ears and garbed in the very gayest colors gave way with smiles and bows for the jogging old mare and the rumbling carryall. Some of the Seamew's crew were overtaken, and they swept off their hats to Prudence and the supposed Ida May, grinning up at Tunis with more than usual friendliness.
And, to make matters worse, the floating keg had once more missed its mark. This repeated failure was disheartening. The tide was rising rapidly; every minute was worth a human life, and it began to look as though, in spite of all effort, the poor souls clinging to the wreck would be swept into eternity before the Seamew's crew could effect a communication with them.