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- Facing the World - 20/22 -
better off by ourselves."
"He would be sure to interfere with us. I saw him scowling at me more than once this morning. You know he don't like me."
"Nor me, either, Jack. It will be well for both of us to keep out of his way."
To the great delight of Clinton, more of his "wardrobe," as he called it, was brought ashore. For this he was indebted to the good-natured persistence of Harry, who, though amused at the vanity of the young man from Brooklyn, felt disposed to gratify him in a harmless whim.
The two parties remained apart, the original company remaining with the captain, while four passengers and Jack Pendleton stayed with the mate. Captain Hill showed a disposition to claim Jack, but Holdfast said, quietly: "I think captain, Jack had better stay with me for the present, as he is company for Harry Vane."
The captain looked dissatisfied, but was too tired to remonstrate at that time. He went to his own encampment, and indulged in liberal potations of brandy, which had the effect of sending him to sleep.
That night a violent wind sprang up. It blew from the sea inland, and though it did not affect the ship-wrecked parties or their encampment seriously, on account of their being screened by the intervening bluff, it had another effect which a day or two previous might have been disasterous. The ill-fated Nantucket was driven with such force against the reef that the strength of its hull was overtaxed. When the mate went to the bluff in the morning to take an observation, he was startled to find in place of the wreck a confused debris of timbers and fragments of the wreck.
As the mate was surveying the scene of ruin, Jack and Harry joined him.
"Look there, my lads!" said Holdfast. "That's the last of the poor old Nantucket. She will never float again."
They had known this before, but it was now impressed upon their minds forcibly, and a feeling of sadness came over the three.
"That settles it," said Harry, giving expression to a common feeling. "We are prisoners on the island now, and no mistake."
"When we leave here, it won't be on the Nantucket, anyway," said Jack.
"It is lucky this happened after we had brought our stock of provisions ashore," said the mate.
"Let us go down and see what these kegs and boxes contain," suggested Harry.
So the three descended to the reef, and began to examine the articles thrown ashore. For the most part they were of little value, though here and there were articles that might prove useful.
"Couldn't we make a raft out of the timbers of the old ship?" asked Jack.
"That is worth thinking of, though a raft would not do for a long voyage," said Holdfast. "No, but we might be picked up."
"When the captain's party is awake it will be well for us to haul the loose timbers up to a place of safety."
"Here's Clinton's trunk," said Harry, bending over and recognizing the initials. "Here is the name, 'M. C., Brooklyn.' He will be overjoyed. Suppose we take it up between us."
No opposition being made by Mr. Holdfast, the boys took the trunk up between them, preceding the mate. They had just reached the summit of the bluff.
"Put down that trunk!" said a stern voice.
Looking up, the boys saw that the speaker was Captain Hill.
The captain's face was of dull, brick-red, and it was clear that he had already been drinking, early as it was. Naturally the boys, on hearing his voice, put down the trunk in their surprise, but they maintained their position, one on each side of it. Of the two, Jack was the more impressed, having been one of the crew, and subject to the captain's authority on shipboard. Harry, as a passenger, felt more independent. Indeed, he was indignant, and ready to resist what he thought uncalled-for interference on the part of the captain.
"This is Mr. Clinton's trunk," he said. "We are going to carry it to him."
"Do you dare to dispute my authority?" roared the captain, his red face becoming still redder.
"I don't see what you have to do with the trunk," answered Harry, boldly.
"This to me!" shrieked the captain, looking as if he were going to have a fit of apoplexy. "Do you know who I am?"
"You were the captain of the Nantucket," said Harry, quietly.
The captain, notwithstanding his inebriated condition, did not fail to notice that Harry used the past tense.
"I am still the captain of the Nantucket, as I mean to show you," he retorted.
"Then, sir, you are captain of a wreck that has gone to pieces."
Captain Hill upon this looked at the fragments of the unfortunate ship, and for the first time took in what had happened.
"It doesn't matter," said he, after a brief pause, "I am in command here, and"--here he interpolated an oath--"I don't allow any interference with my authority."
"You are not captain of Mr. Clinton's trunk," said Harry, in a spirited tone. "Jack, let us carry it along."
This was too much for the captain. With a look of fury on his face, he dashed toward Harry, and there is no doubt that our hero was in serious danger. He paled slightly, for he knew he was no match for the tall, sinewy captain, and was half regretting his independence when he felt himself drawn forcibly to one side, and in his place stood the mate, sternly eyeing the infuriated captain.
"What do you want to do, Captain Hill?" he asked.
"To crush that young viper!" shouted the captain, fiercely.
"You shall not harm a hair of his head!"
By this time the captain's wrath had been diverted to the mate. He struck out with his right hand, intending to fell him to the ground, but, the mate swerving, he fell from the force of his abortive blow, and, being under the influence of his morning potations, could not immediately rise.
"Boys," said Mr. Holdfast, "you may take hold of the trunk again and go on with it. Don't be afraid. If the captain makes any attempt to assault you, he will have me to deal with."
Harry and Jack did as directed. Jack, however, could not help feeling a little nervous, his old fear of the captain asserting itself. But Harry, confident in the protection of his good friend, the mate, was quite unconcerned.
Mr. Holdfast walked on beside them.
"The captain seems disposed to make trouble," he said. "He fancies that he is captain of this island, as he was chief officer of the Nantucket. I shall convince him of his mistake."
"I hope you won't get into any trouble on my account, Mr. Holdfast," said Harry, considerately.
"Thank you, my lad; but Tom Holdfast doesn't propose to let any man walk over him, even if it is his old skipper. Now that the ship is gone, Captain Hill has no more authority here than I have."
As the captain fell, his head came in contact with a timber with such violence that, combined with his condition, he was forced to lie where he fell for over an hour.
As the boys emerged upon the bluff with the trunk, Clinton, who had just got up, recognized it, and ran up to them, his face beaming with delight.
"Oh, Mr. Vane!" he said, "have you really brought my trunk? You are awfully kind."
Then they had breakfast--a very plain meal, as might be supposed. Some of the sailors came over from the other camp, and one of them asked Mr. Holdfast if he had seen the captain.
"You will find him on the beach," answered the mate. "He has been carrying too much sail, I think," he added, dryly.
After a while the captain picked himself up, and gazed moodily at the wreck, of which so little remained. Then, the events of the morning recurring to him, he frowned savagely, and, turning toward the bluff, he shook his fist angrily in the direction of the mate's encampment.
Among the sailors was an Italian named Francesco. Probably he had another name, but no one knew what it was. In fact, a sailor's last name is very little used. He was a man of middle height, very swarthy, with bright, black eyes, not unpopular, for the most part, but with a violent temper. His chief fault was a love of strong drink. On board the Nantucket grog had been served to the crew; and with that he had been content. But at the time of the wreck no spirits had been saved but the captain's stock of brandy. Francesco felt this to be a great hardship. More than any other sailor he felt the need of his usual
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