After a time the man at the steering oar said that he would row if George or I would steer the boat, but neither of us knew the river and therefore could not take his place. Betty said that she knew the river, having kept a small boat since she was strong enough to lift an oar, so she took the steering oar, and with four sweeps out we sped along at a fine rate.
I planned to launch out a quarter of a mile above the point which I wished to make on the other side, and to trust to the current, and what little steering I could manage, to get me across. I lost much time in my search, for the larger logs which had been driven ashore had got wedged, and required more than one man's strength to refloat them.
We were now well to the westward of the Cape and were changing our course to the northward as much as we dared, since the strong south-west winds, which prevailed then, carried us in toward Patagonia. At two, P.M., we saw a sail on our larboard beam, and at four we made it out to be a large ship, steering our course, under single-reefed topsails.
So Jack gave the speed wheel a small turn, then rested both hands on the steering wheel. Without an unnecessary sound, and with no outer lights showing, as yet, the "Pollard" was headed for the mouth of the little harbor, Mr. Farnum standing by as pilot. Just as they passed out on to the edge of the ocean Farnum himself turned on the electric sailing lights.
Cora spun the flywheel, and the boat took its place. She looked every inch a girl to win, while Hazel kept close to the steering wheel and the twins did their part in just looking pretty. The motor girls' boat was the cynosure of every eye, as it happened to be the only boat in that class run by girls. The signal was given and they started off. "Steady!" Jack called. "Go it, sis!"
And I could well believe their assertion, for even I, whose exertions were limited to the steering of the boat, felt that even such slight labour was almost too arduous to be much longer endured.
By hanging out on the runboard or step, nearest the inside of the track, more weight would be added to that side of the car. It was what automobilists call "shifting the center of gravity," and aids in preventing spills. Giving one glance to see that the boys were in their places, Jerry grasped the steering wheel firmly, and sent the car at the dangerous turn at full speed.
After crossing the equator and steering west, they at length arrived, on the 6th of March, at a cluster of three fertile inhabited islands in thirteen or fourteen degrees north latitude, just three months and twenty days from the time of leaving the Straits. Here they anchored. No sooner did the natives perceive them, than they came off in their canoes, bringing cocoa-nuts, yams, and rice.
The second and third day passed on, when the mate calculated they were steering direct for the nearest point of land which they could not fail to reach in another day, it being the coast of Africa. His calculations were made under disadvantages, but he felt confident of their correctness.
As Rosemary gazed, deciding that this was the noblest dragon of them all, a young man ran down the steps of the hotel and got into the car. He took his place in the driver's seat, laid his hand on the steering wheel as if he were caressing a baby's head, the chauffeur sprang up beside his master, and they were off. But with a cry, Rosemary rushed across the road.