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- The Rover Boys on the Great Lakes - 5/37 -


be his last.

CHAPTER IV.

IN THE HANDS OF THE ENEMY.

Daylight found poor Dick all but exhausted. He still held to the stick of lumber, but his hands were numb and without feeling, and his lower limbs were in the same condition.

"I can't stand this much longer," was his dismal thought. "I've got to let go soon."

He looked around him anxiously. All that met his eyes was the broad expanse of water, with here and there a solitary stick of lumber. He gazed about for Luke Peterson, but the lumberman was not in sight.

"He must have been drowned," he thought. "Heaven help me, or I'll go, too!"

Gradually the sky cleared of the clouds, and the hot July sun began to pour down with a glare on the water that was well-nigh blinding. As the waves went down he changed his position on the log, and this gave him temporary relief. Soon the sun made his head ache, and he began to see strange visions. Presently he put out his hand, thinking that Tom was before him, and then went with a splash into the lake.

Almost unconscious of what he was doing, he caught the log again. But he was now too weak to pull himself up. "It's the end," he thought bitterly. Then a cry came to him, a cry that seemed half real, half imaginary.

"Hullo, Rover! Is that you?"

It was Peterson who was calling. The lumberman had drifted up on another log, and as the two sticks bumped together he caught hold of the youth and assisted him to his former resting place.

"I--I can't hold on any--any longer!" gasped Dick.

"Try, lad, try! Some kind of a boat is bound to appear, sooner or later."

"I--I am nu--numb all over."

"I suppose that's true--I'm numb myself. But don't ye give up."

Encouraged somewhat by Peterson's words Dick continued to hold on, and a few minutes later the lumberman gave a cheering cry:

"A steamer! Saved at last!"

The lumberman was right; the freighter Tom and Sam had hailed was approaching, the castaways having been discovered by the aid of a marine glass.

"A man and a boy," observed Captain Jasper to his mate.

"The boy looks pretty well done for," returned the mate. "He must be the one that was thrown off the yacht."

"More than likely."

As speedily as possible the freight steamer drew closer, and a line was thrown to Peterson.

He turned to give one end to Dick, and then made the discovery that the latter had fainted from exhaustion.

"Poor fellow!" he muttered, and caught the youth just as he was sliding into the lake.

It was no easy task to get Dick on board of the freight steamer. But it was accomplished at last, and, still unconscious, he was carried to a stateroom and made as comfortable as possible.

Peterson was but little the worse for the adventure, and his chief anxiety was for his friend Bragin, of whom, so far, nothing had been heard.

The coming of Dick on board of the _Captain Rollow_ was viewed with much astonishment by two of the passengers on the freighter.

These two persons were Arnold Baxter and his son Dan.

The two had quite recovered from the injuries received in the landslide in Colorado, and it may be as well to state right here that they were bound East in order to carry out a new plot which the elder Baxter had hatched up against the Rovers.

What that plot was will be disclosed as our story proceeds.

"Father, it is Dick Rover," cried Dan Baxter, after having seen the unconscious one brought on board.

"Hush, Dan! I know it," whispered Arnold Baxter.

"It's a pity he wasn't drowned in the lake."

"I agree with you. But he isn't dead, and we'll have to keep out of sight for the rest of the trip."

"Humph! I am not afraid of him!" said the bully, for, as old readers know, Dan had never been anything else.

"That may be, but if he sees us he may--ahem--make much trouble for me."

"On account of our doings in Colorado? What can he prove? Nothing."

"Perhaps he can. Besides, Dan, you must remember that the officers of New York State are still after me."

"Yes, I haven't forgotten that."

"I wish now that I had put on that false wig and beard before we left Detroit," went on Arnold Baxter. "But I hated to put them on before it was absolutely necessary--the weather is so warm."

"Can you put them on now?"

"Hardly, since all on board know my real looks. I will have to keep out of Rover's sight."

"I would like to know what he is doing out here."

"On a pleasure trip, most likely."

The talk went on for some time, and then Dan approached one of the mates of the freighter, who had just come from the stateroom to which Dick had been taken.

"How is that young fellow getting on?" he asked carelessly.

"He's in bad shape," was the answer.

"Do you think he'll die?"

"Hardly, but he is very weak and completely out of his mind. The hot sun, coming after the storm, must have affected his brain."

"Out of his mind? Doesn't he recognize anybody?"

"No, he talks nothing but lumber, and cries out to be pulled from the water. Poor boy! it's too bad, isn't it?"

"It is too bad," said Dan Baxter hypocritically. "Do you know his name?"

"No, but he's a brother to those boys who hailed us from the yacht a couple of hours ago. A lumber raft struck the yacht and the boy was knocked overboard and managed to cling to some timber."

"Is the man who was saved his friend?"

"No, he was on the raft and the two are strangers;" and with this remark the mate of the freight steamer passed on.

Without delay Dan told his father of what he had heard. Arnold Baxter was much pleased.

"If he remains out of his mind we'll be safe enough," he said. "I presume they'll put him off at Cleveland and send him to the hospital."

"I wonder where that yacht is?"

"Oh, we have left her miles behind."

"And how soon will we reach Cleveland?"

"Inside of half an hour, so I heard one of the deck hands say."

No more was said for the time being, but both father and son set to thinking deeply, and their thoughts ran very much in the same channel.

Just as the freight steamer was about to make the landing at Cleveland, Arnold Baxter touched his son on the arm.

"If they take Dick Rover ashore, let us go ashore too," he whispered.

"I was thinking of that, dad," was Dan's answer. "Was you thinking, too, of getting him in our power?"

"Yes."

"I don't see why we can't do it--if he is still unconscious."

"It won't hurt to try. But we will have to work quick, for more than likely his brothers will follow us to this city," went on Arnold Baxter.

The steamer had but little freight for Cleveland, so the stop was only a short one.

When poor Dick was brought up on a cot, still unconscious, Arnold Baxter stepped forward.


The Rover Boys on the Great Lakes - 5/37

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