How Bob managed to survive during that dreadful night he scarcely knew.
He ever afterward thought of it as a dream, for his mind was in such
confusion that he could not realize what was going on around him. Ben
and the doctor managed the boat, while Bob lay stretched under the
thwarts in a half-sensible condition, from which he never aroused
himself until the sun arose and a joyous exclamation from the old sailor
infused new life into him.
“Land, ho!” shouted Ben, seizing Bob by the leg and jerking him about.
“I would about as soon see that as I would to find myself back aboard an
English trader. Wouldn’t you, my hearty? Here’s land in plain sight. Get
up and take a peep at it. Now we will live a Robinson Crusoe life, won’t
Land was indeed in plain sight, as old Ben had declared, and Bob finally
mustered up energy enough to straighten up and look about him. He
relieved Ben at the oar, and the latter busied himself in overhauling
the provisions to see what they had to eat; for he wisely concluded that
a little something on Bob’s empty stomach would go far to refresh him.
He first decided to pass the jug of water (for Bob acted as though he
was very thirsty), for Ben had been careful of his provisions, not
knowing how soon they would strike a place from which they could get
more. He was not certain that they could get any on the island toward
which they were being driven with all the speed that Bob and the doctor
could put into their oars, but he concluded to risk it.
“There, Bob,” said he, uncorking the jug and passing it forward, “you
have something to drink our health in. May your shadow never grow less.”
Bob took the jug, and as he raised it to his lips he quickly put it down
again and slowly got upon his feet. He could distinctly make out the
spars of a vessel that was lying in the bay toward which their boat was
“Now, then, what do you see over there?” inquired Ben.
“I see a ship of some kind,” said Bob, in a trembling voice.
“So you do,” exclaimed Ben, after running his eye along the shore. “And
she isn’t a trader, either. She’s one of our own vessels.”
“An American?” shouted Bob. “Look again, and don’t deceive me.”
“She’s an American, as sure as you live!” said the old sailor, after he
had taken as good a view of the ship as he could get on account of the
surrounding trees. “You never saw a clumsy-looking trader with such
spars and such rigging as she has. Bob, give me a place at the oar, and
you sit in the stern and steer as straight for her as you can go. By
George! We’re in luck.”
Bob made the change, and for the next two hours forgot how hungry and
thirsty he was. By the end of this time the vessel was within hailing
distance. She was anchored in a little cove that set into the island,
and her boats were drawn up in line on the beach, where most of her crew
were assembled, apparently engaged in trading with the natives.
“She is an American, I declare!” said Bob, hardly able to contain
himself. “Hail her, Ben, and find out.”
“Who are you and where did you come from?” asked the captain of the
ship, who appeared at the side in answer to Ben’s hail.
The old sailor did the talking, trying to make his long story as short
as possible, and while he was speaking Bob made a thorough examination
of the vessel. There was something about her that looked familiar; and
after he run his eyes over her from truck to water-line, he told himself
that if he had not seen that ship in the harbor of Clifton more than
once, he had seen one there that looked exactly like her. Old Ben
himself certainly discovered something about her to attract his
attention, for he suddenly began to stammer and hesitate, and it was
only by a great effort of will that he was able to go on with his story.
He did not look at the man to whom he was talking, but kept his eyes
fastened upon the after-part of the vessel. Bob looked in the same
direction, and saw that a bull’s-eye, which probably opened into one of
the cabin state-rooms, was unclosed, and that a face was pressed close
to it—a pale, handsome face, with thick gray whiskers and moustache, and
a pair of large black eyes which seemed to be looking straight through
him. If it was the same face he had probably known in the days gone by,
how changed it was! He rubbed his eyes and looked again, but the face
“Ben!” he cried, in great excitement.
“Avast, there!” replied the old sailor. “The cap’n’s going to speak.”
“I’ve got all the crew I want,” said the captain, “but if you have a
mind to come aboard and behave yourselves you can work your passage to
“We’ll do our duty the best we know how, sir,” said Ben.
“All right, come aboard, then; but bear in mind that I am a sailor all
over and a hard man to suit.”
“Ben,” repeated our hero, as the boat was pulled under the fore-chains,
“Ben, I saw—”
“Avast, there, will you! What’s the good of so much chin-music?”
exclaimed the sailor.
“But can’t I speak?” demanded Bob, greatly surprised and excited. “Ben,
I tell you, I saw—”
“You saw nothing. Belay your jaw.”
“But I tell you, I saw my father looking out of that bull’s-eye,”
“Your father?” exclaimed the doctor, opening his eyes in amazement.
“Yes, sir, my father. And, Ben, he was crazy. I never saw him look so at
me in his life.”
“He saw his grandmother,” interrupted Ben. “The boy is crazy himself,
and that is what’s the matter with him. His father has been under
hatches for five years and better. Get aboard, doctor. Now,” he added,
turning almost fiercely upon Bob, “not another word out of you about
what you saw if you want to keep on the right side of me. Mind that. Up
Bob made the best of his way to the deck and looked about him. Then he
was certain he knew the ship. She was the Boston, and she had once
belonged to his father. More than that, his father was aboard of her at
that very moment, for he had seen him with his own eyes.
“Well, boy, what are you staring at?” demanded the captain. “Did you
never see a ship before? Turn to at once, for we don’t allow idlers
here. Doctor, go into the galley and lend a hand there. What’s your
name, you graybeard?”
“Smith, sir,” replied Ben.
“Well, Smith, you will find work enough with this chaffing-gear to keep
you busy the rest of the day. And you, boy—”
“On deck, there!” shouted a voice from aloft.
“Fore-top,” replied the captain.
“Can I have a marline-spike and about five minutes’ help?” asked the
“Jump up there, boy,” said the captain, turning to Bob.
Our hero, having heard the request, knew just what to do. He caught up a
marline-spike and ran aloft with it, and met with another surprise so
great that he came very near letting go his hold and going back to the
deck in a much greater hurry than he went up. The sailor who was at work
was an old companion and friend. He it was who had built his first model
yacht and taught him to sail it on the bay, and many an hour had he
passed in old Ben’s cabin telling him stories of the sea. He had heard
Bob promise his father that under no circumstances would he ever make a
first voyage as a sailor. He had been employed by some of the country
houses to do various kinds of work, but one night he disappeared, and
was never heard of afterward. The most of the people believed that he
had grown tired of work ashore and had gone off to sea.
“Sweet!” exclaimed Bob, hardly able to believe his eyes.
“Not a word out of you,” said the sailor, glancing below to make sure
that the captain was not watching. “I was glad to see you at first, but
now I am sorry, for you came very near letting the cat out of the bag
when you first came alongside.”
“Why, Sweet, how came you here?” said Bob, lowering his tone. “Did you
get tired of the shore?”
“Tired? No; I was shanghaied and sent to sea against my will, and I know
who was at the bottom of it.”
“But when I came alongside I saw my father,” said Bob, earnestly.
“And Ben saw him, too, didn’t he? But he was too smart to make a fuss
“Make a fuss? I tell you, I will raise a fuss here—”
“Avast, there! You won’t raise no fuss until Ben and I say the word. If
you do, you will spoil everything.”
“I don’t see that you need to fix anything,” said Bob, forgetting in his
excitement that there were men below him. “My father was kidnapped and
taken aboard this vessel—”
“And Ben wouldn’t let you say anything about him? That shows that his
head is level. He was afraid you would say something before the captain.
Here, hold fast to the end of the rope, for you must do something while
you are up here or you’ll be ordered down again,” said the sailor,
speaking hurriedly, as if he wished to say as much as possible in the
shortest space of time. “We’ve got things all fixed, and you mustn’t go
to spoiling them for us. The cargo will be aboard at sundown, and we
sail at the turn of the tide; but when we do sail your father will be in
“Then he _is_ aboard, isn’t he?” exclaimed Bob, almost overcome by
excitement and delight. “I was sure of it.”
“Of course he’s here, but we foremast hands ain’t supposed to know it.
And we didn’t find it out until we reached Cape Town, and then we found
it out by accident. He’s got five good friends—seven, now that you and
Ben have come—”
“Eight,” interrupted Bob, “counting in the darky that came with us. He
will do anything for Ben.”
“That will be enough,” said the sailor. “We’re going to shake out the
sails when the last boat goes off this afternoon, and as soon as that is
done we’ll be ready to begin operations.”
“But, Sweet, you have not yet told me how my father came here and what
the captain is going to do with him,” said Bob.
“I can’t tell you what he means to do with him. Mebbe he intends to
leave him to starve on some desert island, and mebbe he’s going to watch
his chance to knock him overboard. But he has waited too long to carry
out his plans, whatever they are. He won’t allow him on deck, for he
says he’s crazy.”
“That’s just what I was afraid of,” said Bob, in a despairing tone.
“Avast, there!” said the sailor.
“I tell you, I never saw him look at me with such eyes before,” insisted
“I reckon you would look at a man with crazy eyes too if you were in his
place. As to how he came here, that’s your uncle’s doings. He wanted
your father’s money, and not having the courage to put him out of the
way himself, he hired the captain and his first mate to do the work for
him. But mind you, they didn’t steal him out of his house at dead of
night, as they do with every man that is shanghaied.”
“How did they work it, then?”
“They found him in a small boat, ten miles out at sea, and took him
aboard. He was luny then; at least, the captain said so. He said he was
Cap’n Nellis, that he used to own this vessel, and wanted to get up and
command her, and so the cap’n shut him up. That’s the whole story in a
few words, and I couldn’t make it any plainer if I should take an hour.”
“Then it seems that Barlow did not have a hand in kidnapping him? The
captain found him at sea in a storm and took him aboard, and he wanted
to command the vessel.”
“Yes, sir. That’s just the way the thing stands.”
“Then Barlow is innocent, and that’s what he meant when he said that he
had some things in his head that he wouldn’t tell to anybody. And in
order that you may know how things worked at home, I will tell you that
they are going just as my uncle hoped they would. He’s got my father’s
property and has literally turned me away from home. He says my father
willed it to him. But who are these friends you spoke of, and how are
you going to manage to have them left on board the ship this afternoon?”
“Well, it took some thinking, that’s a fact,” replied the sailor, who
did not much like the idea of Bob believing that his father was crazy.
“First, there’s the second mate, you know. He’s a friend, and he’ll be
left in charge this afternoon. The only way I could manage to stay
aboard was to sprain my wrist so that I couldn’t pull an oar, and I had
to be put on light duty. All gammon, you know, but I didn’t know what
else to do. Then there’s our doctor. Of course he’ll be aboard, for he
will be getting supper. The others are Bret and Jackson. As they belong
to the long-boat’s crew, it was a safe thing to bet that they would be
ashore when we wanted them aboard, so what did they do this morning but
get up a sham fight and draw knives on each other. Of course they are in
double-irons in the forecastle, and they’ll stay there till we want
“Fore-top there!” shouted the captain. “It does not take two of you to
splice a rope, does it? Lay down, boy.”
“Aye, aye, sir!” replied the sailor, as Bob prepared to descend to the
deck. “Keep your eyes open, but say nothing to nobody. Things are all
fixed, and you will see your father this afternoon. But I say, Bob,”
added Sweet, hastily, “it would be better for you to let go all holds
and fall down to the deck head first than to go into the presence of the
cap’n with that face you have got on now. If he finds out who you are,
or you give him any reason to suspect you, he’ll knock our plans
higher’n the moon.”
Bob’s exultation and impatience were so great that he could scarcely
contain himself—exultation to know that he was within speaking distance
of his father, from whom he had been separated for almost nine dreary
months; to know that he must not see him until others gave him
permission to do so, and impatience to have the time wear away so that
he could throw himself into that father’s arms. You can imagine how you
would have felt under the same circumstances. Bob believed that his
father was crazy; and if that was the case, all their arrangements for
rescuing him were “knocked higher’n the moon.” He was obliged to keep
his feelings under restraint and be constantly on his guard, lest his
thoughts should find expression in his face and be seen by some one who
would not know how to interpret them.
The afternoon moved along on leaden wings. That nothing had yet happened
to endanger the success of the plans that had been formed for the
release of Captain Nellis was evident from the encouraging glances which
Sweet and old Ben bestowed upon our hero every time they met him. It was
plain, too, that somebody had found opportunity to tell the second mate
who Bob was, for once, when nobody was looking, the officer slipped
something into the boy’s hand, and told him in a whisper to hold himself
in readiness to use it. It looked like a broken key, and Bob, not
knowing what it was or what he was expected to do with it, showed it to
Ben and asked instructions.
“It’s the key to the irons on those fellows in the forecastle,”
whispered the sailor. “Keep your eye on the mate, and he will tell you
when to use it.”
“But Ben, I am sure that my father is—”
“Belay your jaw, will you? I have a good notion to knock you overboard!
When the old man comes on deck you will find him able to take command.
Now, don’t say anything more about his being crazy.”
Three o’clock came at last, and the order was given to shake out the
sails. It was accomplished in very much less time than usual, and then
the boats all put off for their last trip to the beach, the captain and
the first mate going with them, and leaving no one but the mutineers
aboard. The second mate stood leaning over the rail watching the boats,
and when they touched the beach he made a sign to Bob, who darted into
“Halloo, here!” exclaimed one of the sailors, as Bob made an effort to
unlock his irons. “Where did you come from? I never have seen you
“Nor have I seen you,” replied Bob. “But as you are a friend of Captain
Nellis’, go on deck. The second mate is waiting for you.”
Being freed from their irons the sailors hurried on deck, and Bob kept
close at their heels. The second mate and Ben were not there, but they
heard an axe used in the cabin. The next moment Captain Nellis rushed
upon deck. One look at his face was enough. He was as crazy a man as Bob