When he saw Rob he gave a shout of rage and drew his knife, but one motion of the electric tube made him cringe and slip away to the cabin, where he remained out of danger. And now the other four sat up, groaning and muttering in their outlandish speech. But they had no notion of facing Rob’s tube a second time, so one by one they joined their leader in the cabin, leaving the boy undisturbed.
By this time the ship had begun to pitch and toss in an uncomfortable fashion, and Rob noticed that the breeze had increased to a gale. There being no one to look after the sails, the vessel was in grave danger of capsizing or breaking her masts. The waves were now running high, too, and Rob began to be worried. Presently the captain of the pirates stuck his head out of the cabin door, jabbered some unintelligible words and pointed to the sails.
The boy nodded, for he understood they wanted to attend to the rigging.
So the crew trooped forth, rather fearfully, and began to reef the sails and put the ship into condition to weather the storm. Rob paid no further attention to them, He looked at his traveling machine rather doubtfully and wondered if he dared risk its power to carry him through the air.
Whether he remained in the ship or trusted to the machine, he stood a good chance of dropping into the sea at any moment. So, while he hesitated, he attached the machine to his wrist and leaned over the bulwarks to watch the progress of the storm He might stay in the ship until it foundered, he thought, and then take his chances with the machine.
He decided to wait until a climax arrived, The climax came the next moment, for while he leaned over the bulwarks the buccaneers stole up behind him and suddenly seized him in their grasp.
While two of them held his arms the others searched his pockets, taking from him the electric tube and the silver box containing his tablets. These they carried to the cabin and threw upon the heap of other valuables they had stolen.
They did not notice his traveling machine, however, but seeing him now unarmed they began jeering and laughing at him, while the brutal captain relieved his anger by giving the prisoner several malicious kicks, Rob bore his misfortune meekly, although he was almost ready to cry with grief and disappointment But when one of the pirates, to inflict further punishment on the boy, came towards him with a heavy strap, he resolved not to await the blow.
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