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ADRIFT ON THE PACIFIC

A Boys Story of the Sea and its Perils

By EDWARD S. ELLIS

Author of

"The Young Pioneers," "Fighting to Win," "Adrift in the Wilds,"
"The Boy Patriot," Etc.

A. L. BURT COMPANY; PUBLISHERS

NEW YORK




Copyright, 1911

By A. L. BURT COMPANY

Adrift on the Pacific




ADRIFT ON THE PACIFIC

CHAPTER I

CAPTAIN STRATHMORE'S PASSENGER


A few hours before the sailing of the steamer _Polynesia_, from San
Francisco to Japan, and while Captain Strathmore stood on deck
watching the bustle and hurry, he was approached by a nervous,
well-dressed gentleman, who was leading a little girl by the hand.

"I wish you to take a passenger to Tokio for me, Captain Strathmore,"
said the stranger.

The honest, bluff old captain, although tender of the feelings of
others, never forgot the dignity and respect due to his position, and,
looking sternly at the stranger, said:

"You should know, sir, that it is the purser and not the captain whom
you should see."

"I have seen him, and cannot make a satisfactory arrangement."

"And that is no reason, sir, why you should approach me."

The captain was about moving away, when the stranger placed his hand
on his arm, and said, in a hurried, anxious voice:

"It is not I who wish to go--it is this little girl. It is a case of
life and death; she must go! You, as captain, can take her in your own
cabin, and no one will be inconvenienced."

For the first time Captain Strathmore looked down at the little girl,
who was staring around her with the wondering curiosity of childhood.

She was apparently about six years of age, and the picture of
infantile innocence and loveliness. She was dressed with good taste,
her little feet being incased in Cinderella-like slippers, while the
pretty stockings and dress set off the figure to perfection. She wore
a fashionable straw hat, with a gay ribbon, and indeed looked like a
child of wealthy parents, who had let her out for a little jaunt along
some shady avenue.

When Captain Strathmore looked down upon this sweet child, a great
pang went through his heart, for she was the picture of the little
girl that once called him father.

Her mother died while little Inez was an infant, and, as soon as the
cherished one could dispense with the care of a nurse, she joined her
father, the captain, and henceforth was not separated from him. She
was always on ship or steamer, sharing his room and becoming the pet
of every one who met her, no less from her loveliness than from her
childish, winning ways.

But there came one awful dark day, away out in the Pacific, when the
sweet voice was hushed forever, and the rugged old captain was bowed
by a grief such as that which smites the mountain-oak to the earth.

The little girl who now looked up in the face of Captain Strathmore
was the image of Inez, who years before had sunk to the bottom of the
sea, carrying with her all the sunshine, music and loveliness that
cheered her father's heart. With an impulse he could not resist, the
captain reached out his arms and the little stranger instantly ran
into them. Then she was lifted up, and the captain kissed her,
saying:

"You look so much like the little girl I buried at sea that I could
not help kissing you."

The child was not afraid of him, for her fairy-like fingers began
playing with the grizzled whiskers, while the honest blue eyes of the
old sailor grew dim and misty for the moment.

The gentleman who had brought the child to the steamer saw that this
was a favorable time for him to urge his plea.

"That is the little girl whom I wished to send to Tokio by you."

"Have you no friend or acquaintance on board in whose care you can
place her?"

"I do not know a soul."

"Is she any relative of yours?"

"She is my niece. Her father and mother are missionaries in Japan, and
have been notified of her coming on this steamer."

"If that were so, why then were not preparations made for sending her
in the care of some one, instead of waiting until the last minute, and
then rushing down here and making application in such an irregular
manner?"

"Her uncle, the brother of my wife, expected to make the voyage with
her, and came to San Francisco for that purpose. He was taken
dangerously ill at the hotel, and when I reached there, a few hours
ago, he was dead, and my niece was in the care of the landlord's
family. My wife, who is out yonder in a carriage, had prepared to
accompany me East to-morrow. Her brother had made no arrangements for
taking the little one on the steamer, so I was forced into this
unusual application."

While the gentleman was making this explanation, the captain was
holding the child in his arms, and admiring the beautiful countenance
and loveliness of face and manner.

"She does look exactly like my poor little Inez," was his thought, as
he gently placed her on her feet again.

"If we take her to Japan, what then?"

"Her parents will be in Tokio, waiting for her. You, as captain, have
the right, which no one would dare question, of taking her into your
cabin with you, and I will compensate you in any manner you may
wish."

"What is her name?" asked Captain Strathmore.

"Inez."

"She shall go," said the sailor, in a husky voice.




CHAPTER II

THE CAPTAIN AND INEZ


The steamer _Polynesia_ was steaming swiftly across the Pacific, in
the direction of Japan--bravely plunging out into the mightiest
expanse of water which spans the globe, and heading for the port that
loomed up from the ocean almost ten thousand miles away.

Although but a few days out, little Inez had become the pet of the
whole ship. She was full of high spirits, bounding health--a laughing,
merry sprite, who made every portion of the steamer her home, and who
was welcome wherever she went.

To the bronzed and rugged Captain Strathmore she was such a reminder
of his own lost Inez that she became a second daughter to him, and
something like a pang stirred his heart when he reflected upon his
arrival at his destination and his parting from the little one.

Inez, as nearly as the captain could gather, had been living for
several years with her uncle and aunt in San Francisco, from which
port her parents had sailed a considerable time before. The stranger
gave a very common name as his own--George Smith--and said he would
await the return of the _Polynesia_ with great anxiety, in order to
learn the particulars of the arrival of his niece in Japan.

However, the captain did not allow his mind to be annoyed by any
speculations as to the past of the little girl; but he could not avoid
a strong yearning which was growing in his heart that something would
turn up--something possibly in the shape of a social revolution or
earthquake--that would place the little girl in his possession again.

And yet he trembled as he muttered the wish.

"How long would I keep her? I had such a girl once--her very
counterpart--the sweet Inez, my own; and yet she is gone, and who
shall say how long this one shall be mine?"

The weather remained all that could be wished for a number of days
after steaming out of the Golden Gate. It was in the month of
September, when a mild, dreamy languor seemed to rest upon everything,
and the passage across the Pacific was like one long-continued dream
of the Orient--excepting, perhaps, when the cyclone or hurricane,
roused from its sleep, swept over the deep with a fury such as strews
the shores with wrecks and the bottom with multitudes of bodies.

What more beautiful than a moonlight night on the Pacific?

The _Polynesia_ was plowing the vast waste of waters which separates
the two worlds, bearing upon her decks and in her cabins passengers
from the four quarters of the globe.

They came from, and were going to, every portion of the wide world.
Some were speeding toward their homes in Asia or Africa or the islands
of the sea; and others living in Europe or America, or the remote
corners of the earth, would finally return, after wandering over
strange places, seeing singular sights, and treading in the footsteps
of the armies who had gone before them in the dim ages of the past.

Now and then the great ship rose from some mighty swell, and then,
settling down, drove ahead, cleaving the calm water and leaving a wide
wake of foam behind. The black smoke poured out of the broad funnels,
and sifted upward through the scant rigging, and was dissipated in the
clear air above. The throbbing of the engine made its pulsations felt
through the ponderous craft from stem to stern, as a giant breathes
more powerfully when gathering his energy for the final effort of the
race. A few drifting clouds moved along the sky, while, now and then,
a starlike point of light, far away against the horizon, showed where
some other caravansary of the sea was moving toward its destination,
thousands of leagues away.

Although Captain Strathmore was on duty, and it was against the rules
for any passenger to approach or address him, yet there was one who
was unrestrained by rules or regulations, no matter how sternly they
were enforced in other cases.

The captain was standing on the bridge, when he felt some one tugging
at his coat, and he looked down.

There was Inez demanding his attention.

"Take me up, pop," said she.

"Bless your heart!" laughed the captain as he obeyed the little
empress; "you would ruin the discipline of a man-of-war in a month."

While speaking, he perched her on his shoulder, as was a favorite
custom with him.

The day had been unusually warm, and the night was so mild that the
steady breeze made by the motion of the steamer was scarcely
sufficient to keep one cool. Little Inez had thrown aside her hat with
the setting of the sun, and now her wealth of golden hair streamed and
fluttered in fleecy masses about her shoulders.

The steamer was plowing straight to the westward, cutting the waves so
keenly that a thin parabola of water continually curved over in front
of her from the knife-like prow.

Perched aloft on the shoulder of the captain, Inez naturally gazed
ahead, and the figure was a striking one of innocence and infancy
peering forward through the mists and clouds toward the unknown
future.



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