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Prime members enjoy FREE Delivery on millions of eligible domestic and international items, in addition to exclusive access to movies, TV shows, and more. Your recently viewed items and featured recommendations. Norton was a man of his word. Charley had looked forward with keen anticipation to the hunting trip with his father, and had asked innumerable questions concerning it, and talked of little else since leaving New York.
The prospect of camping in a real wilderness with his father,--the association with his father in camp, rather than the camp itself,--was the source of Charley's anticipated pleasure. Not realizing this, and believing that any unusual experience would please Charley quite as well, whether or not he was to take part in it himself, Mr. Norton received with satisfaction the suggestion that Charley be sent upon the Labrador cruise.
This, he was satisfied, was a solution of his difficulty. A cruise on the mail boat would be an experience to be remembered, and he had no doubt would prove much more interesting to Charley than the hunting expedition. This settled, he engaged passage on the mail boat for Charley and Mr. Wise, to the chagrin and disappointment of the latter gentleman, who was forced, however, to accept the situation with good grace.
Wise had no love of the sea.
He was to be Charley's companion on the voyage. He was to learn the interesting features of the coast along which the mail boat cruised, and to explain them and point them out to Charley. In general, he was to do his utmost to make the voyage one which Charley would remember with pleasure. But as Mr. Wise expressed himself to the mail boat doctor, he was employed as secretary and not as nurse maid.
He had no intention of shivering around in the cold. He was going to make this voyage, which had been thrust upon him, as pleasant for himself as circumstances would permit. He pleaded sickness, and, as Charley had complained to Barney MacFarland, lay in his bunk reading novels, or sat in the smoking room playing checkers with the mail boat doctor, while Charley was left to his own resources. It was eleven o'clock in the morning when the mail boat departed from Pinch-In Tickle. Wise was engrossed in a particularly interesting novel, and was so deeply buried in it that he failed to hear or respond to the noonday call to dinner.
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When, an hour later, hunger called his attention to the fact that he had not eaten, he rang for the steward, and a liberal tip brought a satisfactory luncheon to his stateroom. Thus it came to pass that he did not observe Charley's absence from the dinner table. It was four o'clock in the afternoon when, the novel at last finished, Mr. Wise left his room to challenge the doctor to a game in the smoking room. It was not until the six o'clock evening meal that his attention was called to the fact that Charley, who was usually prompt at meals, was not present.
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He had no doubt Charley had gone to his room and fallen asleep. If his ward chose to sleep at meal time it was no fault of his. He ate leisurely, and when he was through lighted a cigar, and, prompted by compunction perhaps, looked into Charley's room. It was vacant. A sudden anxiety seized him, and nervously and excitedly he searched the deck and the smoking room.
Charley was nowhere to be found, and in a state of panic he reported the disappearance to Captain Barcus. The Captain immediately instituted an investigation, and a minute search of the ship was made, but nowhere was Charley to be found, and with every moment Mr. Hugh Wise grew more excited.
Members of the crew were called before the Captain and Mr. Wise and quizzed. The sailor to whom Charley had spoken and of whom he had requested a passage ashore, recalled the incident. The mate stated that Charley had also come to him and asked permission to go ashore in the ship's boat at Pinch-In Tickle, but as there was no room in the boat, permission had been denied. The men who manned the boat were then questioned, and all were agreed that he had not been in the boat and had not gone ashore, and they were equally positive that he had not gone ashore at any other harbour where the vessel had stopped during the day.
Barney MacFarland recalled his conversation with Charley, when he was going off watch. He stated that the lad had seemed most unhappy and lonesome, and complained that Mr. Wise had done little to make the voyage a pleasant one for him, or to help him find entertainment. He was not on deck when Barney went on duty at eight bells. So fertile is the imagination that two of the sailors were quite positive they had seen Charley leaning at the rail during the afternoon, and after the ship's departure from Pinch-In Tickle.
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The steward was quite sure Charley had not eaten the midday meal. As there was some sea running, he had supposed that Charley had a touch of seasickness and had preferred not to eat. He had not seen Charley since breakfast, and had not been in his stateroom since early morning. What can we do? Wise, now in complete panic. Will you turn back?
You'll turn the ship back and look for him! You must! You must at once! We must find him! At the harbours where we stopped! At Pinch-In Tickle, or whatever you call it! There was no way for the lad to go ashore but by the ship's boat, and 'tis plain he didn't go ashore in the boat at any port we stops at to-day. Some one would have seen him if he had, and every man of the crew says he didn't. Then he's on the ship somewhere!
Wise excitedly, springing to his feet. He's hiding! He's hiding somewhere on the ship! He's not on the ship, said Captain Barcus gravely. She've been searched from masthead to hold, and he's not on the ship. There's no doubting the poor lad has fallen overboard. Do you mean he's been--lost--at--sea?
Then turn back! Turn back and look for him! Wise, again on his feet in a frenzy of excitement. Why don't you turn back and look for him? Keep your senses, man, admonished Captain Barcus.
As I said before, 'twould be a fool's job to look for him in the sea. No man knows where or when he went overboard.
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Wise slouched into a seat, and with his elbows upon his knees held his head in his hands for a full minute before he spoke. What can I tell his father? What can I tell him?
He'll discharge me! He'll think I didn't look after the boy! Wise's dejection was complete. Tell him the truth. He'll discharge you likely. I would, said the Captain in blunt disgust. You can fix it up!