"This ship," growled Carter, the second officer, to Dr. Trendon, as they stood watching
the growing smoke-column, "is a worse hot-bed of rumours than a down-east village.
That's the third sea-gull we've had officially reported since breakfast."
As he said, three distinct times the Wolverine had thrilled to an imminent discovery,
which, upon nearer investigation, had dwindled to nothing more than a floating fowl.
Upon the heels of Carter's complaint came another hail.
"Boat ahoy. Three points on the starboard bow."
"If that's another gull," muttered Carter, "I'll have something to say to you, my festive
The news ran electrically through the cruiser, and all eyes were strained for a glimpse of
the boat. The ship swung away to starboard.
"Let me know as soon as you can make her out," ordered Carter.
"Aye, aye, sir."
"There's certainly something there," said Forsythe, presently. "I can make out a speck
rising on the waves."
"Bit o' wreckage from Barnett's derelict," muttered Trendon, scowling through his
"Rides too high for a spar or anything of that sort," said the junior lieutenant.
"She's a small boat," came in the clear tones of the lookout, "driftin' down."
"Anyone in her?" asked Carter.
"Can't make out yet, sir. No one's in charge though, sir."
Captain Parkinson appeared and Carter pointed out the speck to him.
"Yes. Give her full speed," said the captain, replying to a question from the officer of the
Forward leapt the swift cruiser, all too slow for the anxious hearts of those aboard. For
there was not one of the Wolverines who did not expect from this aimless traveller of
desert seas at the least a leading clue to the riddle that oppressed them.