A BATTLE WITH THE ELEMENTS

The two oarsmen sprang on board of the La Motte, Chuck taking the
painter. The schooner was not anchored near enough to the island to
shelter her entirely from the fury of the blast, and she was making
rather rough weather of it. The tender banged against her sides, and
Angy was in a hurry to get on board.

“Come, Dory!” shouted he to his prisoner. “Heave ahead, and go on
board!”

Dory tried to stand up, but the uneasy motion of the boat prevented him
from doing so successfully. He was compelled to resume his seat as often
as he tried to do so, or he would have been knocked overboard.

“What are you about, you squillypod? Why don’t you obey orders? I told
you to go on board of the schooner,” added Angy.

“You can see for yourself that it is impossible for me to do so with my
hands tied behind,” replied Dory, in his usual calm tones.

“That’s so,” added Chuck, who stood at the gangway with the painter in
his hand. “No fellow could stand up in that boat with his hands tied
behind him.”

“Do you want me to let him loose?” demanded Angy. “Not if I know
myself!”

“All right; have your own way,” added Chuck.

“Put yourself on your pins now, Squillypod!” said the chief sharply. “I
am not going to fool all day with you. Get on board of the schooner, and
then you will be out of trouble.”

“It is useless for me to attempt to do an impossible thing,” replied
Dory. “The bulwarks of the vessel are three feet above the boat, and I
can’t step that distance. The only way to get on board is to take hold
with the hands, and climb up. I think you can see that for yourself. I
am willing to go on board, and I would do so if I could. It is
impossible to stand up in the boat.”

“Come along and try it, and I will boost you up,” Angy insisted.

“He can’t do it,” added Chuck. “Try to stand up yourself with your hands
free, and you will see how it is, Angy.”

“Shut up, Chuck! If you interfere with me again, I will throw you
overboard. I want you to understand that I am in command here, and I
won’t let any fellow meddle with my affairs,” said the chief angrily. “I
will put another fine down against you.”

“All right; fix things to suit yourself!” replied Chuck, as mad as his
superior in rank. “I have had about enough of this thing, if I am to be
snubbed like a school-boy.”

As he spoke, he spitefully threw down the rope in his hand, apparently
forgetting that it was the painter of the tender which contained his
chief and the prisoner. A swashing wave at that moment took the boat,
and swept it far from the schooner. Then Chuck realized what he had
done, and he made a spring to recover the rope. He saw the end of it
drag over the bulwarks, and drop into the boiling waters.

“What are you about, Chuck?” demanded Angy, overwhelmed by the
consequences of his subordinate’s wrath. “You have turned me adrift.”

Chuck understood this as well as his leader, and he had done his best to
recover the painter; but he was as powerless to do any thing more, as
though he had been on the top of Bluff Point.

“I did not mean to let go the painter,” shouted he; but this honest
declaration did no good at all.

Angy was alone in the tender with the prisoner. He did not blame his own
unreasonableness in trying to make his companion do an impossible thing,
but he charged all the fault upon his mutinous subordinate. But there he
was, and his associates on board of the La Motte could not do a thing to
assist him. The fierce wind was driving the boat away from the vessel,
and the chief must act at once if ever.

He seized the oars with a sort of desperation, as the serious nature of
the situation impressed itself on his mind. He seated himself on the
after thwart, and shipped the oars. The tender had begun to drift stern
foremost; and she had already whirled round once, as the waves lifted
her almost out of the water. The boat was too wide to permit one to row
two-handed with ease, and he had to do his work under a decided
disadvantage.

His first effort was to get the boat head to the sea, and he had nearly
swamped her in his struggle to do so. But he succeeded in the end,
though the tender was half full of water when he got her about. Then he
began to pull with all his might. He certainly made a plucky and
determined attempt to get the better of the elements, though the result
could not be foreseen.

The weather was warm and muggy in spite of the gale, which some
experienced skippers on the lake called a hurricane; and the
perspiration poured in great drops from the face of the desperate
burglar. The rain still fell in sheets, and in a short time the cloud
would cover the water so that he could not see the vessel or the island.
Angy worked as though his salvation in this world and the next depended
upon his success.

Dory was unable to determine whether the accident to the boat was to be
a chance or a mischance to him. The boat was half full of water; and if
the burglar lost his pluck, and gave up rowing, the tender would fall
off into the trough of the sea, and probably capsize again. With his
arms bound behind him, he could not well avoid being drowned, though he
felt that he had some chance of saving himself, shackled as he was.




He had lost sight of the island, and the schooner would soon disappear.
He looked behind him occasionally, in order to keep his bearings as long
as there was any thing in sight in that direction. Ahead of him,
although Camp-Meeting Point was less than a mile distant, there was
nothing but the cloud of fog and rain to be seen. He was especially
interested to know whether or not the burglar was making any progress
towards the schooner. He had lost sight of the island, which he could
see when the rower was getting the boat about; and, as the vessel was
seen less distinctly than when he began to pull ahead, he concluded that
he was losing instead of gaining.

The drops of rain and sweat poured from Angy’s face as he struggled with
the oars. Dory admitted to himself that the rower handled his implements
skilfully; but he did not believe any man could make headway against
such a sea, which had considerably increased in force as the boat went
farther from Bluff Point.

It was soon evident to Dory that the powers of Angy were failing him.
Through the spray that beat against the bow of the tender, and dashed
over him, he looked for the schooner, which was almost out of sight. It
was clear enough now, if it had not been so before, that the tender was
losing ground. The strength, and perhaps the pluck, of Angy were giving
out.

Dory watched the face of the chief with increasing interest when the
result of the battle with the elements was no longer a problem to him.
Angy was breathing rapidly, for he had well-nigh exhausted the reservoir
of his breath. The observer came to the conclusion that he had given up
the struggle, and was simply pulling to prevent the tender from falling
off into the trough of the sea. Gradually he remitted his exertions,
until he did only enough to keep the boat’s head up to the sea. Dory
could easily realize that he was considering what he should do.

It did not look as though he could do any thing. Relieved by moderating
his efforts, he recovered his breath, and slowly improved his condition.
Dory was behind him; though the oarsman turned his head often enough to
enable him to see his face, and judge what was passing in his mind. When
Angy had in some measure recovered his powers, he turned more than he
had at any time before, and took a look at his prisoner. Dory was making
himself as comfortable as he could, though this is saying very little.

“See here, Squillypod! I want you to come into the stern of the boat,
for she is down too much by the head,” said he, without suspending his
labor at the oars. “Work yourself aft, feet foremost, and don’t try to
stand up.”

This order looked as though the burglar intended to resort to some new
expedient. Any thing for a change was satisfactory to Dory, and he
obeyed the order. With his foot he removed the forward thwart, on which
the second rower had been seated, and then worked himself past it, on
the bottom of the boat.

“Now stop where you are,” said Angy, as soon as he reached his seat.

Dory obeyed, and remained seated in the bottom of the tender, directly
behind the rower. Then, not a little to the astonishment of the
prisoner, Angy began to untie the cords which bound him. He did the job
by fits and starts, being obliged to use one or the other oar
occasionally to keep the boat from falling off. But he finished the
task, and Dory found that he was free; and it was a delightful sensation
to be able to change the position of his arms.

As soon as he was released, without waiting for any order from the
burglar, he moved aft to the stern-sheets of the boat. While he was
doing so, Angy shifted to the forward thwart, keeping the oars at work
all the time, with hardly a moment’s intermission.

“Now take the other oar, Squillypod!” said the chief, in imperative
tones.

“Where are we to go?” asked Dory.

“Where are we to go! None of your business where we are going! Obey my
order, or it will be the worse for you!” returned Angy.

“If you are going to the shore, I will pull the other oar: if you are
going back to the schooner I will not pull a stroke,” added Dory.

“Won’t you?” howled the robber, with an oath which was colder to the
prisoner’s blood than the angry elements. “I will see if you won’t! I am
going to the schooner, and you are going to pull that oar!”

As he spoke, he drew a revolver from his hip-pocket. Dory did not like
the looks of this implement; but he could not assist the burglar to
escape, and he took no notice of it. Angy raised the weapon hastily, and
pulled the trigger. It was soaked with water, and did not go off. Dory
did not wait for a second trial, but threw himself on the robber.

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UNDER THE LEE OF GARDINER’S ISLAND

The boat dipped herself half full of water as soon as the two burglars
ceased to pull, and this weight of movable fluid increased her capacity
for rolling. At the next wave she went over, and the four persons in her
were spilled into the lake. All of them hung on to the overturned
tender, though, in the commotion of the waves, it was not an easy thing
to do so.

Two of the party hung on at each side, and the water-logged boat was
steadied a little by their weight. Angy, in spite of the difficulties of
the situation, opened in a savage assault upon his companions, with his
flippant tongue, for their disobedience of orders, declaring that their
conduct had produced the disaster, which was quite true.

“We are no worse off than we were in the boat, and it isn’t any wetter
in the water than it was on board of her,” replied Mack, who had caused
the mischief. “I had rather be here than in the boat off that point,
where you were trying to take us.”

“I shall fine you both for disobedience of orders,” growled Angy.

“That will make two fines saddled on me; and I suppose you mean to rob
me wholly of my share,” added Chuck, as he emptied his mouth of the
lake-water, which had dashed in when he opened it.

“I don’t submit to any fine because I wouldn’t let you drown me,” added
Mack.

“I think it is more comfortable here than it was in the boat,” said
Chuck. “The wind is driving us to the shore, and we shall be on the land
in a few minutes.”

“How did that fellow get loose?” demanded Angy, when he discovered that
Dory was holding on at the boat, like the rest of them.

“I let him loose when I saw that the boat was sure to be upset. I
suppose that is another fine,” replied Chuck.

“We shall be in hot water instead of cold, now,” said Angy, who was
certainly realizing the full benefit of having a mutinous crew.

“I didn’t mean to let him drown, as he would when he couldn’t help
himself,” added Chuck. “I will tie him up again as soon as we get to the
shore.”

“It is no use to go on an expedition with such fellows as you are; and I
will never do it again,” said Angy bitterly.

The boat seemed to be making quite as much progress with the crew on the
outside of it, as she had when they were on the inside. A little later,
Chuck, who was at the bow of the boat, declared that he felt the bottom
with his feet. At that moment a big wave struck the boat, and drove them
on the beach.

“Hold on to the boat!” shouted Angy. “Pick it up, and carry it up on the
shore! It will be smashed on the gravel, if you don’t.”

The party took hold of the tender, and dragged it towards the land.
Before they could get it out of the water, the big waves knocked them
off their feet several times, and piled them up in a heap. The boat
pounded heavily on the gravel; and if it had not been well built, it
would have had some holes knocked in the bottom. But, after a desperate
struggle with the elements, they succeeded in getting out of the reach
of the waves.

The moment the party stood on the beach, Angy threw himself upon Dory,
and brought him down. As before, he had taken him behind. Several times
the chief had called upon him to assist in dragging the boat out of the
water, but the prisoner felt that it would be treason to society to
assist in saving the tender. He made no reply, and Angy swore at him as
a pirate would have done. All the party were panting from the violence
of their exertion, and Dory had not expected an attack before they
recovered their breath.

The leader was stimulated by wrath more than by a desire to secure the
safe retreat of his party, and he handled his prisoner very roughly.
Hardly able to breathe, he kicked his victim, and pounded him with his
fist. Dory was not in a situation to resist, and his arms were soon
bound behind him.

Bluff Point, on which they had been driven by the fury of the storm, was
not more than an eighth of a mile across at the place where they were.
Angy, as soon as he had fastened his prisoner to a small tree, started
to walk over to the water on the other side. He was gone but a few
minutes.

“We haven’t any time to lose, fellows,” said he. “We must carry the boat
across this point to the water.”

“Carry the boat!” exclaimed Mack. “It weighs half a ton!”

“Do you prefer to go around that point?” asked Angy, with a sneer, which
it was not light enough to see.

“Of course we can’t go around the point, for the sea is awful there,”
replied Mack, in a more subdued tone. “Why can’t we stay where we are
till the storm subsides a little?”

“And let old Squalipop send a squad here to capture us! Is that your
idea?” asked the chief.

“Not exactly. They will not be likely to come here to look for us. This
fellow did not go back to tell him that we had come this way. How heavy
is the boat?”

“It is not very heavy, and three of us can carry it well enough,”
answered Angy. “If that fellow would take hold and help us, it would be
a light load for four of us.”

“Perhaps he will,” added Mack. “Will you, my lad?”

“I will not,” replied Dory firmly.

“Why not?”

“I will not assist in your escape after you have committed a crime,” the
prisoner explained.

“What is your name, my boy?” asked Chuck.

“Dory Dornwood.”

“Dory Dornwood!” exclaimed Angy, with no little astonishment. “I heard
Matt tell all about you last summer, and I don’t need any introduction
to you. He said you could whip your weight in wild-cats, and would die
of thirst before you would drink a glass of beer.”

“I am not a fighting character,” added Dory.




“I should say not! I have handled you twice; and I don’t know that I
should have dared to touch you if I had known who and what you were,”
chuckled the leader. “But let us take hold of the boat, and see what we
can do with it.”

“Won’t you give us a lift, Dory?” asked Chuck. “I did you a good turn in
the boat.”

“I cannot do any thing to assist in your escape, though I should be glad
to reciprocate your kind act,” replied the prisoner.

“It’s no use to waste words with him,” interposed Angy. “He is the
paragon of that school, and goes to the Sunday school.”

They raised the boat from the beach, and Mack declared that it was not
half as heavy as he had supposed. They rested several times, and carried
it to the water on the other side of the point without any great
difficulty. Angy returned for the prisoner as soon as they had put the
boat into the lake, and conducted him to it. He was put in the bow,
where he had been before.

The water was sheltered by the point; and though it was rough anywhere
on the lake, it was smooth compared with its condition outside of the
bluff. It was just a mile from Bluff Point to Gardiner’s Island, beyond
which Dory discovered the two masts of a vessel anchored there. He had
already heard enough to assure him that the burglars had composed the
crew of the schooner which had anchored in Beaver River. A portion of
them had visited the school, and in this way had obtained some knowledge
of the premises.

“This storm won’t last much longer,” said Angy, as he looked out on the
stormy lake. “The wind is hauling more to the westward.”

“What’s the reason we can’t stay here a while, then, and wait till the
sea isn’t quite so rough?” asked Mack, who evidently did not like the
looks of the water between the point and the island, smooth as it was
compared with the open lake.

“How long do you suppose it will be before the men you heard in the road
will be down this way?” demanded Angy, with his chronic sneer.

“They may not be here at all. They will take it for granted that we
don’t go out on the lake in this weather; and it is a sensible view to
take of it,” added Mack.

“But they were coming this way when you heard them; and you forget the
plan I laid down to you yesterday afternoon,” continued the chief, in a
more persuasive tone. “We don’t want any one to know that the party who
did this job belong to the schooner. That would spoil all our plans, and
expose us; and this is the last of the jobs we had on our hands.”

“All right, Angy,” replied Mack, who seemed to be convinced by the
argument. “But if we all get drowned in this scrape, we shall not make
much headway in the fun you have laid out for us.”

[Illustration: “I TOLD YOU TO GO ON BOARD THE SCHOONER,” ADDED
ANGY.–PAGE 108.]

“The sea isn’t very rough off here; and as the wind has hauled more to
the westward, we shall go before it, and keep out of the trough of it,”
Angy explained: and he seemed to be the authority in all nautical
matters.

“Just as you say, Angy. If the boat upsets, as it did before, we shall
be just as comfortable in the water; and the wind will take us just
where we want to go.”

The experience of the party in the water seemed to increase rather than
diminish their confidence, for they had learned that the disaster of
swamping the boat was not necessarily fatal. Near the shore the water
was quite smooth, and the leader shoved the tender off. The two rowers
gave way, and the boat moved away from the point. In a few moments it
was in a rough sea; but the chief kept the craft exactly before it
without regard to his destination, and it went along very well.

It was not smooth sailing, and the boat jumped like a galloping horse.
But the rowers were used to pulling in a heavy sea, though they had
never been in one like that of the lake. Dory was sitting with his back
to the course of the boat, and he watched the shore with the most
intense interest. He was sure his uncle would send a party to find him;
though the pursuers might follow the road for many miles, if they did
not resort to the Indian craft which had been of so much assistance to
him.

Before the boat had made a fourth part of the distance it had to
accomplish, it began to rain. It came down in torrents, though it could
not make the party any wetter than they were already. It had rained all
the first part of the night, and now it seemed like a smart shower which
would soon be over.

“This is just the thing we want,” said Angy, in cheerful tones, and in
much better humor than he had been at any time before.

“Why is it just the thing? Do you think it will lay the dust?” asked
Mack.

“Not exactly: it will throw the dust into the eyes of the men who are
trying to follow us. The heavy rain is making a thick cloud on the
water, so that they can’t see us. You can hardly make out the shore
now,” replied Angy.

But the wind blew the rain in the faces of the rowers with so much force
that they could not keep their eyes open much of the time. Assisted by
the gale, the boat drove furiously ahead. Occasionally a sea came in
over the stern, and the skipper had to use the bucket. She soon reached
the island; and when the boat came under its lee, their troubles for the
present were over. The La Motte was pitching violently at her anchor
when they boarded her.

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