The Mystery HTML version

The Free Lance
By the following afternoon Dr. Trendon reported his patient as quite recovered.
"Starved for water," proffered the surgeon. "Tissues fairly dried out. Soaked him up. Fed
him broth. Put him to sleep. He's all right. Just wakes up to eat; then off again like a two-
year old. Wonderful constitution."
"The gentleman wants to know if he can come on deck, sir," saluted an orderly.
"Waked up, eh. Come on, Barnett. Help me boost him on deck."
The two officers disappeared to return in a moment arm-in-arm with Ralph Slade.
Nearly twenty-four hours' rest and skilful treatment had done wonders. He was still a
trifle weak and uncertain, was still a little glad to lean on the arms of his companions, but
his eye was bright and alert, and his hollow cheeks mounted a slight colour. This, with
the clothes lent him by Barnett, transformed his appearance, and led Captain Parkinson to
congratulate himself that he had not obeyed his first impulse to send the castaway
forward with the men.
The officers pressed forward.
"Mighty glad to see you out." "Hope you've got your pins under you again." "Old man,
I'm mighty glad we came along."
The chorus of greeting was hearty enough, but the journalist barely paid the courtesy of
acknowledgment. His eye swept the horizon eagerly until it rested on the cloud of
volcanic smoke billowing up across the setting sun. A sigh of relief escaped him.
"Where are we?" he asked Barnett. "I mean since you picked me up. How long ago was
that, anyway?"
"Yesterday," replied the navigating officer. "We've stood off and on, looking for some of
our men."
"Then that's the same volcano----"
Barnett laughed softly. "Well, they aren't quite holding a caucus of volcanoes down in
this country. One like that is enough."
But Slade brushed the remark aside.
"Head for it!" he cried excitedly. "We may be in time! There's a man on that island."