THE RESCUE

There was no idea in Sam Cushing’s mind as he ran at full speed in the
direction of the thicket which grew very nearly in the middle of the
island that he was doing anything wrong in thus endeavoring to hide from
his stepfather. Although the lad had not spoken, save to Uncle Ben, of
the cruel treatment received from the captain of the “Sally D.,” through
fear lest people might think he was “whining,” he knew full well that if
his mother was alive she would advise him much as the old lobster
catcher had done.

It was the fear of what Captain Doak might be able to do in the way of
punishment that had prevented him from attempting to escape from his
besotted, cruel taskmaster; but now, with Uncle Ben to aid him, the
situation was changed very materially, and but for the fear that his
stepfather would succeed in recapturing him, the lad would have been
more nearly happy than at any time since his mother went out from this
world into the beyond.

Fear of what Captain Doak would do in case he succeeded in laying hands
on him once more served to lend fleetness to the lad’s feet and to
strengthen his courage, while he took good care not to loiter within
sight of the “Sally D.” and to make thorough search for the best
possible hiding-place.

From a distance the thicket appeared to be dense, but once he was among
the bushes there seemed to be a woeful lack of opportunities for
concealment in case careful search of the place should be made.
Hurrying feverishly forward without coming upon that for which he
sought, he passed entirely through the clump of evergreens, finding
himself on that side of the island facing the open ocean before it
seemed as if he had really begun the search, and then he would have
turned in alarm to gain such poor shelter as the bushes afforded, had he
not seen, rising and falling on the heavy swell, that which so attracted
his attention as to render him forgetful, for the moment, of what the
“Sally D.’s” commander might be able to do.

Hardly more than a hundred yards outside the long line of creamy foam
which marked the eastern ledge, was what appeared to be a partially
shattered boat.

“She’s wrecked,” said Sam. “I wonder where she came from. Hullo!”

The boy gave a start of surprise, and looked intently at a dark spot
among the wreckage. “There’s some one there!” But it was not possible
for Sam to gain a very good view of the shipwrecked person, because
nothing save his head could be seen above the surface, and even that was
hidden now and then as a curling wave submerged it.

Now indeed had Sam forgotten that such a man as Captain Doak ever had an
existence. He understood in a twinkling that unless immediate aid could
be given, the sufferer would be beaten to death upon the jagged rocks,
if indeed any life yet remained.

Dropping the food Uncle Ben had given him, he ran swiftly seaward until
arriving at the water’s edge, and then, throwing off his clothing, he
made ready for what must necessarily be a struggle. By wading just
inside the reef he came to the point where it seemed most probable the
shattered boat would be cast ashore.

By this time it was possible for him to see that he who had fallen into
such a sore plight was a lad of about his own age, who waved his hand
feebly once, as if imploring aid.

“I’ll bring you ashore, never fear!” Sam cried, hoping by such words to
animate the boy, who was evidently on the verge of exhaustion. “Don’t
let go the boat till I’ve got a good grip on you!”

Once more the lad waved his hand, and even though he had been inclined
to speak, there was no opportunity, for by this time his frail support
had been caught up by the green waves as they made a dash for the rocks.

“Keep your wits about you!” Sam cried cheerily as he ventured a few
paces further into the sea, and the words were hardly more than spoken
before the stranger lad was lifted high in the air.

Accustomed as he was to the surf, Sam knew exactly what should be done,
and he performed his task as well as Uncle Ben, skilful surfman though
he was, could have done it. Bending his body until he was very nearly in
a stooping posture, and at the same time taking good care that he had a
secure foothold, Sam allowed the wall of water to pass entirely over
him, when he stood erect once more, ready to meet the receding wave as
it drew back the half-drowned boy.

Deftly he seized him by the collar of his woolen shirt, which,
fortunately, was unbuttoned at the throat, and then came the struggle
for life, when the treacherous undertow tugged at his legs and the
weight of the lad he was bent on rescuing, flung seaward by the heavy
wave, threatened to overwhelm him. It was no slight task Sam had
undertaken; but thanks to his experience in battling against the surf,
he finally succeeded in dragging the stranger beyond reach of the next
hungry wave, and then fell on the sand beside him, with not sufficient
strength remaining to stand upright.

No longer than while one might have counted thirty did Sam remain thus
inactive, and then, still panting from his recent struggle, the lad gave
all his attention to the boy whose life he had saved.

“I reckon you’re all right now,” he said, with an effort to speak
cheerily, “an’ the sooner you move around a bit so’s to get rid of the
salt-water cargo you must have taken aboard, the better you’ll feel.”

“It don’t seem as if I’d ever get back the use of my legs,” the lad
said, but without making any effort to follow the advice given, and Sam
replied with a hearty laugh which had in it more of relief than mirth:

“This ain’t the time to give in beaten, when you’re out of your
troubles. ’Cordin’ to the looks of that boat you must have been washin’
’round quite a spell.”

“Since jest before daylight this mornin’, an’ it’s pretty hard work to
make myself believe that I haven’t been overboard a whole week.”

“How did it happen?”

“My boat was run down by the Boston steamer—leastways, I believe it must
have been that. I went out alone to bait trawls, ’cause we was
short-handed aboard the ’Flyin’ Fish,’ an’ there was no dory-mate for
me——”

“Who sent you out alone in the night baitin’ trawls?” Sam cried
indignantly.

“Why, Cap’en Moses, of course; he allowed, seein’s how it was good
weather, that I might do the job.”

“How long have you been sailin’ with sich a cap’en as that? He’d make a
good mate for Cap’en Doak!”

“This was my first voyage, an’ I ain’t much of a sailor, ’cause I’ve
never been to sea before.”

“What’s your name?”

“Tom Falonna.”

“Where do you live?”

“That’s what I don’t rightly know, since I cut loose from Mother
Sharkey’s place. You see, I did chores there for my board, but it
seemed as if I oughter earn more’n that, so I got a chance to ship on
the ’Flyin’ Fish’ for a short cruise. I was to get ten dollars a month,
if I turned to in good shape, so that’s why it seemed all right for me
to try my first at runnin’ trawls alone. Now I’m afraid I shan’t find
Cap’en Moses again. Where am I?”

“On Apple Island, with the best man, except my father, who ever lived.
He’ll see to it that you don’t take any more chances of bein’ run down
in the night by a steamer, but——”

Sam ceased speaking very suddenly. For the first time since sighting
the young fisherman he remembered that Captain Doak had an existence,
and a disagreeable memory it was indeed.

Hurriedly he told Thomas Falonna of all that had happened within the
past four or five hours, concluding by saying as he looked around
timidly:

“I’ve got to hide somewhere till the ’Sally D.’ weighs anchor, an’
there’s no tellin’ but that Cap’en Doak is close at hand this very
minute!”

The rescued lad sprang to his feet, but with some little difficulty,
apparently putting from his mind all thoughts of self as he realized
that the boy who had rendered him such great service was in sore need of
aid, and followed to the best of his ability when Sam ran back to where
he had left the food given him by their Uncle Ben.

“I couldn’t find a place to hide in the bushes, an’ it’s lucky I didn’t,
else I wouldn’t have seen you,” Sam said hurriedly when the two were
together once more. “It won’t do for me to hang ’round here very long!”

“Why don’t you go up behind them big rocks? I reckon you could keep out
of sight by dodging from one to the other, even if the old brute was
pretty close to your heels,” Falonna suggested as he pointed to several
huge boulders just under the break of the land, and Sam caught at the
idea without delay.

Five minutes later the two lads were hidden fairly well, save in event
of a systematic search, and it was Tom Falonna who ate the food with
which Uncle Ben had provided Sam, for the rescued lad had not tasted
even water since the night previous.

“I tell you this stuff is mighty good; but you needn’t be afraid I’ll
take more’n a fair share, ’cause it may be quite a spell before your
stepfather gives over huntin’ after you.”

“Take what you want; I’ll get along all right if I don’t have another
mouthful till to-morrow, for it hasn’t been so very long since I had
dinner, an’ you’re needin’ twice as much as we’ve got here. Tell me
where your folks are?”

Tom’s story was not a long one. He had been born in Bavaria, and when
only a few weeks old was taken aboard ship by his parents, who were
emigrating to this country. Both father and mother brought from their
native land the germs of fever; were taken sick during the voyage, and
died in the quarantine hospital very shortly after having been brought
ashore. Tom did not have a very clear idea of how he, as a small baby,
contrived to live; his first memories were of the woman he called
“Mother Sharkey,” with whom he found a home, such as it was, until a few
days before being cast up on Apple Island, when he had shipped as a
green hand aboard the “Flying Fish.”

Although the recital did not occupy more than two or three minutes, it
had hardly come to an end when Sam started up in alarm as if to take to
his heels; but Tom forced him back behind the rocks as he asked in a
whisper:

“What’s the matter now? You’ll be seen unless you’re more careful!”

“Don’t you hear that man talkin’?” Sam whispered in a tremulous voice.
“That’s Cap’en Doak, an’ he’s after me!”

“There’s somebody with him.”

“Yes, it’s Uncle Ben.”

“Then what makes you jump around so much? If the old lobster catcher is
half as good a man as you think, he’ll see to it your stepfather won’t
kick up too much of a row.”

“I don’t know whether he can stop Cap’en Doak when he gets goin’ right
strong, for he’s terrible sometimes.”

“Well, keep behind the rock, an’ don’t leave this place till you’re
certain he’s got his eye on you. I’ve hid from Mother Sharkey so many
times that I know how it oughter be done.”

By this time the lads could hear plainly the voices of the two men, and
but few words were needed to explain why Uncle Ben was in such bad
company.

“I know he’s somewhere on the island, an’ I’ll hunt him out if I stay
here a week!” Captain Doak was saying angrily.

“You’ll do nothin’ of the kind, Eliakim Doak, an’ that I’m tellin’ you
for a fact. I’ve allowed you to come across here rather’n have an up
an’ down row; but even if you got your hands on the boy you shouldn’t
take him away, an’ that you can count on. As for stoppin’ ashore here
any length of time, that’s for me to say. So long as I pay the rent,
this ’ere island is my private property, an’ if you’re on it an hour
from this time I’ll bring suit agin you for trespass as sure as my
name’s Ben Johnson!”

“I’m allowin’ to do pretty nigh as I please,” Captain Doak cried in a
rage, and Uncle Ben replied in a placid tone as he turned to retrace his
steps:

“’Cordin’ to my way of thinkin’, Eliakim, you’re makin’ the biggest kind
of a mistake, an’ I’m goin’ to take the trouble to prove it before
another half hour goes over our heads.”

The lobster catcher was some distance on his way to the opposite shore
before he ceased speaking, and then, peering cautiously out from behind
the rock, Tom could see that the master of the “Sally D.” was decidedly
disturbed in mind, for he stood irresolutely, shifting from one foot to
the other as if uncertain exactly what course to pursue.

“What can your Uncle Ben do if the cap’en turns real rusty?” Tom asked
in the softest of whispers, and Sam replied with a sigh of anxiety:

“It seems to me as if he can’t do anythin’, for there’s nobody else on
the island.”

“Well, he’s made a right good bluff of it, anyway, an’ has got this
pirate of yours guessin’ mighty hard,” Tom whispered in a tone of
satisfaction, after which he turned his attention to spying upon the
commander of the “Sally D.”

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