A second crab floundered upon the rocks, but fell upon his back and lay struggling to turn himself.
Let the high-brow go, [Pg ] and we'll fish for something that doesn't require royal condiments. But Orissa weighted the crab with a heavy stone, to hold him down. Then she sat beside Sybil and watched her. Then they both clung to the line, managing to draw it in by degrees until there leaped from the water a great silvery fish which promptly dove again, exhibiting a strength that nearly won for him his freedom. The fish, a twelve-pound rockcod, made a desperate fight; but unfortunately for him he had swallowed the entire hook and so his conquest was certain if the girls could hold on to the line.
At last he lay flopping upon the rocks, and seeing he was unable to disgorge the hook, they dragged him to the beach, where Orissa shut her eyes and beheaded him with a hatchet from the tool chest. In the outfit of the chest, which had evidently been intended by Steve and Mr. Cumberford for [Pg ] regular use in connection with the Hydro-Aircraft, they had found two aluminum plates, as well as knives and forks and spoons.
Sybil cut two generous slices from the big fish and laid them upon one of the metal plates. Then they opened a can of pork and beans and secured a lump of fat to use in frying. Orissa lighted the alcohol torch and Sybil arranged some loose rocks so that they would support the plate suspended above the flame of the torch. The intense heat melted the fat and the fish was soon fried to a lovely brown. They ate it with biscuits and washed it down with ginger ale, confiding the while to one another that never had they eaten a meal so delicious.
They let the torch flicker during the repast, for night had fallen, but when from motives of economy Orissa had extinguished the flame they found a dim light suffused from a myriad of stars. Later a slender crescent moon arose, so they were able to distinguish near-by objects, even with the shadow of the bleak mountain behind them.
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They had arranged their blankets in the boat and were sitting upon them, talking together in the starlight, when suddenly an unearthly cry smote their ears, followed by an answering shriek—then another, and another—until the whole island seemed echoing with a thousand terrifying whoops. The two girls clung together tremblingly as the great chorus burst upon them; but after a moment Sybil pushed her companion away with a nervous little laugh.
I challenge any beings to yell more savagely than those fearful hoot owls. Something must have happened to them, Ris, for they've never made a mutter all day long. They had to speak loudly to be heard above the turmoil of shrieks, although the owls seemed mainly congregated upon the distant mountain. The rocks everywhere were full of them, however, and hoots and answering hoots resounded from every part of the island.
It was fairly deafening, as well as annoying and uncanny. They waited in vain for the noise to subside. I wonder why we didn't hear the pests last night. When we wakened this morning all was silent as the grave. Do you know, Ris, the owls must be responsible for the absence of all other life on the island? They dote on snakes and lizards and beetles and such, and they'd rob the nests of any other birds, who couldn't protect themselves in the nighttime.
So I suppose they've either eaten up all the other creatures or scared them to death. But, oh, Sybil! Just inquire, Cap'n, and if you find out, let me know," replied Sybil, yawning. The air grew cool presently, as it often does at night in the semi-tropics, and the two girls crouched down and covered themselves to their ears with the blankets.
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That deadened the pandemonium somewhat and as the owls showed no tendency to abate their shrieks, an hour or two of resigned submission to the inevitable resulted in drowsiness, and finally in sleep. As Sybil said [Pg ] next morning, no one would have believed that mortal girl could have slumbered under the affliction of such ear-splitting yells; but sleep they did, and when they wakened at daybreak profound silence reigned.
Sybil cooked more fish for their breakfast, although Orissa objected to the extravagant waste of alcohol. But her chum argued that they must waste either the alcohol or the fish and as they had a strenuous day before them a substantial breakfast was eminently desirable.
They now packed the aluminum chest and made arrangements for the voyage, for the sea in the bay was smooth as glass and the ocean seemed nearly as quiet outside. Orissa had straightened and repaired the elevator rods and firmly bolted the chest in its original position, but the control must be a matter of future tinkering, the rod needed for its repair being at present stuck in the side of the bluff.
It was easy to roll the machine down the beach into the water and set it afloat, but the difficult matter was to propel their queer, top-heavy craft through the water. A quiet sea meant no wind, nor could they feel the slightest breath of air stirring. Oars they had none, nor any substitute for [Pg ] such things; nor could they find anything to pole the boat along with. By keeping close to the shore we ought to be able to accomplish our journey in that way. I'm glad, Miss Columbus, that under these circumstances your island is uninhabited—except by owls who can't see in the daytime. The natives would either eat us or assist us.
I'm going to keep my stockings on. They'll be some protection against those sharp rocks which we're liable to tread on. After we get around the point I will give you a chance to wade. This undertaking did not appear nearly so preposterous to the two castaways as it may to the reader sitting quietly at home. A capricious fate had driven them into a far-away, unknown sea and cast them upon an uninviting island, but in such unusual circumstances they did what any girls would do, if they're the right sort; kept their courage and exercised every resource to make the most of their discouraging surroundings and keep alive until succor arrived.
So far, these two castaways had shown admirable stamina. Had either one been placed in such a position alone, the chances are she might have despaired and succumbed to girlish terrors, but being together their native pride forbade their admitting or even showing a trace of fear.
About this fairy tale
In this manner they encouraged and supported one another, outwardly calm, whatever their inward tremors might be. Orissa Kane was habitually dainty and feminine in both appearance and deportment, yet possessed a temperament cool and self-reliant.
Her [Pg ] natural cleverness and quickness of comprehension had been fostered by constant association with her mechanical, inventive brother, and it seemed to her quite proper to help herself when no one was by to render her aid. To wade in the warm, limpid water of the Pacific, at a place far removed from the haunts of humanity, in order to propel the precious craft on which her life and that of her companion might depend, to a better location, seemed to this girl quite the natural thing to do.
Sybil's acute sense of humor led her to recognize the laughable side of this queer undertaking; yet even Sybil, much more frail and dependent than her beloved chum, had no thought of refusing her assistance. The aluminum boat rode lightly upon the surface of the sea, the broad, overhanging planes scarcely interfering with its balance. Indeed, the planes probably assisted in keeping the boat upright. Orissa, knee-deep in the water, was not called upon to exert herself more than to wade; but this was a slow and tedious process and required frequent rests.
At such times she would sit in the back of the boat and let her feet dangle in the warm water. Gradually the Hy was propelled around the point of rock into the open sea, and by keeping [Pg ] close to shore the girl seldom found herself out of her depth, and then only temporarily. Sybil kept up a constant chatter, inducing Orissa frequently to laugh with her, and that made the task seem more an amusement than hard labor.source url
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They took turns at the wading, as had been agreed upon, but because Orissa was much the stronger her periods of playing mermaid were longer than those of her chum. In this manner they made good progress, and though Sybil made a great deal of fun of what she called her "patent propeller," she took her turn at wading very seriously and pushed the strange craft through the water at a good rate of speed. By midday they reached the point where the bluff began to rise and here they sat together in the boat, shaded by the planes, and ate their luncheon with hearty appetites.
They found it high tide, yet the water was more quiet than on the preceding day, and when they resumed their journey their progress was much more rapid than before. By two o'clock they had cautiously propelled the boat around the huge boulder that marked the ravine they had found and soon after had rolled it upon the sandy beach and anchored it securely beyond the reach of the tide. I know how to take the clips off, and it won't injure the cloth in the least. So, after a good rest on the beach in the sun they resumed their clothing.
My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun (Sonnet 130)
The wet stockings were thoroughly dried by the sun by the time they were ready for them, and presently they set to work removing the cloth from the lower plane. The task was almost completed when Sybil suddenly exclaimed:. The incline was not at all difficult and they soon stood on top the bluff. A thorough examination of the place disclosed no means of erecting the tent.
But Orissa was thinking, and as she thought she glanced at the trees. It is so extremely simple that I'm ashamed of our stupidity. We've but to stretch our coil of wire between these two trees, throw the canvas over it and weight the bottom with rocks to hold it in place. They returned to the beach for the canvas and [Pg ] wire and Orissa took several of the clips, with which to fasten together the ends of their tent.
Ascending once more, this time heavily loaded, to the group of bananas on the bluff, they proceeded to attach the wire to two of the trees.
The plane-cover was large enough to afford a broad spread to their "A" tent and when the lower edges were secured by means of heavy stones, and the scattered rocks cleared away from the interior, their new domicile seemed roomy and inviting. Their next task was to fetch the aluminum chest from the beach, and after they had lightened its weight by leaving in the boat all the tools except the hatchet and a small hack saw, they were able to carry the chest between them, although forced to make frequent stops to rest.