Chapter XV. The Sailing of the Steam Yacht
 

The announcement made by Aleck Pop filled all on board the steam yacht with consternation, and while Hans still nursed his arm and wrist the other boys, with Anderson Rover and Captain Barforth, rushed down the companionway.

A glance showed them what was the matter. One of the balls of fire had struck a curtain and ignited the flimsy material. The fire was now dropping down on some fireworks Tom had left on a chair. Just as they entered a pinwheel, lying flat, began to fizz, sending a shower of sparks across the other pieces.

"Quick! out with that stuff!" cried Anderson Rover and sent the pinwheel flying into a corner with his hand. Then he stepped on it, putting out the fire.

In the meantime, Dick and Sam pulled down the burning curtain and stamped on that. The others scattered the fireworks and saw to it that not a spark remained in the cabin.

"A close call!" murmured Captain Barforth, when the excitement was over. "It is lucky we got down here so soon."

"I was thinkin' de hull ship was gwine ter bust up!" said Aleck, with a shiver. "Dis chile knows jess how quick fireworks kin go off. I see a big combustication of dem one summer in a hotel where I was waiting. Da had to call de fire department to put dem out an' da shot out moah dan a dozen winders, too!"

"We had a similar trouble, when the yacht club had a celebration," said the captain. "A Japanese lantern dropped on some rockets and set them off. The rockets flew in all directions and one struck a deck hand in the arm and he had to go to the hospital to be treated. We have had a lucky escape."

The accident put a damper on more celebrating, and Tom was requested to store away what remained of the fireworks. Little did he dream of how useful those fireworks were to become in the future.

Early on the following morning Bahama Bill, presented himself. The boys had been told how he looked, yet they had all they could do to keep from smiling when he presented himself. He was a short, thickset man, with broad shoulders, and legs which were very much bowed. He wore his reddish hair long and also sported a thick beard. He had a squint in one eye which, as Sam said, "gave him the appearance of looking continually over his shoulder. When he talked his voice was an alternate squeak and rumble.

"Well, of all the odd fellows I ever met he is the limit," was Tom's comment. "Why, he'd do for a comic valentine!"

"I almost had to laugh in his face," said Sam. "Even now I can't look at him without grinning."

"He's a character," was Dick's opinion. "You'll never get tired with that chap around," and in this surmise he was correct, for Bahama Bill was as full of sea yarns as some fish are full of bones, and he was willing to talk as long as anybody would listen to him.

"Very much pleased to know ye all," said he with a profound bow to the ladies. "Ain't seen such a nice crowd since I sailed on the Mary Elizabeth, up the coast o' Maine, jest fourteen years ago. At that time we had on board Captain Rigger's wife, his mother in law, his two sisters, his brother's wife, his aunt and--"

"Never mind the Rigger family just now, Camel," interrupted Mr. Rover. "What I want to know is, are you ready to sail?"

"Aye, aye! that I am, and I don't care if it's a for two months or two years. Once when I sailed on the Sunflower the captain said we'd be out a month, and we struck a storm and drifted almost over to the coast a' Africy. The water ran low, and--"

"Well, if you are ready to sail, we'll start without further delay," interrupted Anderson Rover, and gave the necessary orders to Captain Barforth.

"Good bye to home!" cried Dick, and took off his cap. "When we return may we have the treasure safely stowed away in the hold or the cabin!"

"So say we all of us!" sang out Tom.

Steam was already up and a cloud of smoke was pouring from the funnel of the steam yacht. The lines were cast off, and a few minutes later the vessel was on her voyage down the Delaware River to the bay.

"You are sure we have everything necessary for this trip?" asked Mr. Rover, of the captain.

"Yes, Mr. Rover; I even brought along some picks and shovels," answered the master of the steam yacht, and smiled faintly. He had little faith in the treasure hunt being successful, but he thought the trip down among the West Indies would be well worth taking.

It was a beautiful day, with just sufficient breeze blowing to cool the July air. While they were steaming down the river the girls and ladies, and some of the boys, sat on the forward deck taking in the various sights which presented themselves. There were numerous tugs and sailing craft, and now and then a big tramp steamer or regular liner, for Philadelphia has a large commerce with the entire world.

"It hardly seems possible that the treasure hunt has really begun," said Dora to Dick.

"Well, it won't actually begin until we are down about where Treasure Isle is located," was the reply. "We have quite a few days' sailing before that time comes."

"I hope it remains clear, Dick."

"I am afraid it won't, Dora; there are always more or less storms among the West Indies."

"I have heard they sometimes have terrible hurricanes," came from Grace. "I read of one hurricane which flooded some small islands completely."

"Grace is trying to scare us!" cried Nellie.

"Well, islands have been swept by hurricanes," said Sam, coming to the rescue of his dearest girl friend. "But let us hope we escape all heavy storms."

"A steam yacht is not as bad off as a sailing vessel," said Dick. "If necessary, we can run away from a heavy storm. In a high wind it's a sailing ship that catches it."

By nightfall they had passed out of Delaware Bay into the Atlantic Ocean, and then the course was changed to almost due south. As soon as they got out on the long swells the Rainbow commenced to toss and pitch considerably.

"Now you can sing a life on the ocean wave!" cried Dick to Songbird. "How does this suit you?"

"Elegant!" was the reply, and then the would-be poet began to warble:

"I love the rolling ocean
With all its strange commotion
And all the washing wavelets that hit us on the side;
I love to hear the dashing
Of the waves and see the splashing
Of the foam that chums around us as on we glide!"

"Gee Christopher!" cried Sam. "Say, Songbird, that rhyme is enough to make one dizzy!"

"I dink dot boetry vos make me tizzy already," came from Hans, as he sat down on a nearby chair, his face growing suddenly pale.

"Hullo, Hans is sick!" cried Tom. "Hans, I thought you had better sea legs than that."

"I vosn't sick at all, Dom, only vell, der ship looks like be vos going to dake a summersaults already kvick!"

"You're seasick," said Sam. "Better go to your stateroom and lie down."

"I ton't vos going to get seasick," protested the German youth.

"Think of Hansy getting seasick!" cried Fred. "That's the best yet!" And he laughed heartily. "Shall I hold your head for you?" he asked, with a grin.

"I guess it vos der fireworks yesterday done him," said Hans weakly, and staggered off to the cabin.

"That's kind of rough to twit him, Fred," remarked Dick.

"Oh, I only meant it in fun."

"Maybe you'll get seasick yourself."

"Not much! If I do, I have a remedy in my trunk, that I brought from home."

"You'd better give the remedy to Hans."

"I will."

Fred went below and got the bottle of medicine from his dress suit case. As he did this his own head began to swim around, much to his alarm.

"Here, Hans, is a dose for you," he said, entering the stateroom, where the German youth was rolling around on the berth.

"Vot ist it for?" groaned the sufferer.

"Seasickness."

"Den gif it to me kvick! Gif me apout two quarts!"

"It says take a tablespoonful," said Fred, reading the label with difficulty. "Here you are."

He administered the medicine, which Hans took without a murmur, although it was very bitter. Then he tried to take a dose himself, but his stomach suddenly "went back on him," and he let the bottle fall with a crash to the floor.

"Oh, my! you vos lose all dot goot medicine!" cried Hans, in alarm.

"I--I know it," groaned Fred. "And I--er--I need it so much!"

"Vot, you seasick, too? Ha, ha! Dot's vot you gits for boking fun at me, yah!" And Hans smiled in spite of his anguish.

It was certainly poetic justice that Fred should get seasick and that the malady should affect him far more seriously than it did Hans. The medicine given to the German lad made him feel better in less than an hour, while poor Fred suffered until noon of the next day. None of the other boys were affected. The ladies and the girls felt rather dizzy, and Mrs. Stanhope had to lie down until the next forenoon, but by the evening of the next day all were around as before, and then seasickness became a thing of the past.

"Can't tell nuthin' about that seasickness," said Bahama Bill, to Tom, after hearing how ill Fred was. "I remember onct I took a voyage to Rio, in South America. We had a cap'n as had sailed the sea for forty years an' a mate who had been across the ocean sixteen times. Well, sir, sure as I'm here we struck some thick weather with the Johnny Jackson tumblin' an' tossin' good, and the cap'n an' the mate took seasick an' was sick near the hull trip. Then the second mate got down, an' the bosun, an' then the cook, an--"

"The cabin boy--" suggested Tom.

"No, we didn't have any cabin boy. Next--"

"Maybe the second fireman caught it."

"No, this was a bark an' we didn't have no second fireman, nor fust, neither. Next--"

"Maybe the cat, or don't cats get seasick?"

"The cat. Why, mate--"

"I see some cats get sick, but that may not be seasick, even though you can see the sickness," went on Tom, soberly.

"I don't know as we had a cat on board. But as I was sayin', next--"

"Oh, I know what you are driving at, Bill. Next the steersman got down with the mumps, then you took the shingles, and another sailor got lumbago, while the third mate had to crawl around with a boil on his foot as large as a cabbage. I heard about that affair--read about it in the last monthly number of the Gasman's Gazette--how the ship had to sail itself for four weeks and how the wind blew it right into port and how not even a shoestring was lost overboard. It was really wonderful and I am thankful you reminded me of it." And then Tom walked off, leaving Bahama Bill staring after him in dumb amazement. The old tar realized dimly that for once he had met his match at yarn spinning, and it was several days before he attempted to tell any more of his outrageous stories.