The Castaways of the Flag

The Castaways of the Flag by Jules Verne Read Free Book Online

Book: The Castaways of the Flag by Jules Verne Read Free Book Online
Authors: Jules Verne
to be restored to them? Or had a party
been formed against Robert Borupt to restore Captain Gould to the command of
the Flag?
     
                When they
were brought up on to the deck in front of all the crew, they saw Borupt
waiting for them at the foot of the mainmast. Fritz and Frank cast a vain
glance within the poop, the door of which was open. No lamp or lantern shed a
gleam of light within.
     
                But as they
came up to the starboard nettings, the boatswain could see the top of a mast
rocking against the side of the ship.
     
                Evidently the
ship's boat had been lowered to the sea.
     
                Was Borupt
preparing, then, to put the captain and his friends aboard her and cast them
adrift in these waters, abandoning them to all the perils of the sea, without
the least idea whether they were near any land?
     
                And the
unfortunate women, too, were they to remain on board, exposed to such appalling
danger?
     
                At the
thought that they would never see them more, Fritz and Frank and James
determined to make a last attempt to set them free, though it should end in
dying where they stood.
     
                Fritz rushed
to the side of the poop, calling Jenny. But he was stopped, as Frank was
stopped, and James was stopped before he heard any answer from Susan to his
call. They were overpowered at once, and despite resistance were lowered with
Captain Gould and John Block over the nettings into the ship's boat, which was
fastened alongside the vessel by a knotted cable.
     
                Their
surprise and joy—yes, joy!—were inexpressible. The dear ones whom they had
called in vain were in the boat already! The women had been lowered down a few
minutes before the prisoners had left the spar-deck. They were waiting in
mortal terror, not knowing whether their companions were to be cast adrift with
them.
     
                It seemed to
them that to be reunited was the greatest grace that Heaven could have bestowed
on them.
     
                And yet what
peril menaced them aboard this boat! Only four bags of biscuit and salt meat
had been flung into it, with three casks of fresh water, a few cooking
utensils, and a bundle of clothes and blankets taken at random from the
cabins—a meagre supply at best.
     
                But they were
together! Death alone could separate them henceforward.
     
                They were not
given much time to reflect. In a few moments, with the freshening wind, the Flag would be several miles away.
     
                The boatswain
had taken his place at the tiller, and Fritz and Frank theirs at the foot of
the mast, ready to hoist the sail directly the boat should be free from the
shelter of the ship.
     
                Captain Gould
had been laid down under the forward deck. Jenny was ministering to him where
he lay stretched out on the blankets, for he was unable to stand.
     
                On the Flag the sailors were leaning over the nettings, looking on in silence. Not one
of them felt a spark of pity for their victims. Their fierce eyes gleamed in
the darkness.
     
                Just at this
moment a voice was raised—the voice of Captain Gould, to whom his indignation
restored some strength. He struggled to his feet, dragged himself from bench to
bench, and half stood up.
     
                "You
brutes!" he cried. "You shall not escape man's justice!"
     
                "Nor yet
God's justice!" Frank added.
     
                "Cast
off!" cried Borupt.
     
                The rope
dropped into the water, the boat Was left alone, and the ship disappeared into
the darkness of the night.
     

CHAPTER IV - LAND AHOY!
     
                IT was Frank
who had shouted "Land!" in tones of stentorian salutation. Standing
erect upon the poop, he had

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