Dick Maitland A Tale of Unknown Africa
By Harry Collingwood Dick Maitland is working as a doctor's apprentice in the East End of London, at that time a place of great poverty. The doctor with whom he is studying is rather a philanthropist for, instead of setting up trade for the wealthy, in Harley Street, he is curing the poor for practically nothing.
Dick's family circumstances take a turn for the worse, and he goes down to the docks to work his passage to South Africa. He has no idea how he will proceed when he gets there, having no money, but he meets a rich young man called Grosvenor on the ship, and, striking up a friendship, they decide upon going together on a voyage of exploration.
After meeting a tribe whom this author, Collingwood, had written about in a previous book, and sorting out various problems there, they proceed on their way. They had heard rumours of a mysterious white race living not too far away, and they decide to investigate. These turn out to be one of the lost tribes of Israel. They are eventually accepted there as friends, after initially being taken prisoners. Here again they are able to sort out various problems. Grosvenor marries the Queen, and Dick, who in the course of these travels has managed to find some very valuable jewels, eventually returns home with them. He converts them to cash, and is able to provide his poor old mother, whom he had left in abject poverty, with a luxurious style of life. He also puts lots of money in the account of the doctor with whom he had been working before these adventures began. DICK MAITLAND A TALE OF UNKNOWN AFRICA
BY HARRY COLLINGWOOD
Doctor Julian Humphreys was spoken of by those who believed that they knew him best as an eccentric; because, being a physician and surgeon of quite unusual ability, he chose—possessing a small independence amounting to a bare three hundred pounds per annum—to establish himself in the East-End of London, and there devote himself with zeal and enthusiasm to the amelioration of the sufferings of the very poor, instead of capitalising his income and setting up in Harley Street, where his exceptional qualifications would speedily and inevitably have brought him a handsome fortune.
An income of three hundred pounds per annum—out of which one has to feed, clothe, and house oneself—does not afford very much scope for the practice of philanthropy, as Dr Humphreys very well knew; his establishment, therefore, was of very modest dimensions, consisting merely of three rooms with the usual domestic offices, one room—the front and largest one—being fitted up as surgery, dispensary, and consulting room, while, of the other two, one served as a sleeping apartment for himself and his pupil, Mr Richard Maitland, the third being sacred to Polly Nevis, a sturdy and willing, but somewhat untidy person, who discharged the united functions of parlour maid, housemaid, chamber maid, cook, and scullery maid to the establishment.
The large red lamp which shone over Dr Humphreys' door at night was the one and only picturesque feature of Paradise Street—surely so named by an individual of singularly caustic and sardonic humour, for anything less suggestive of the delights of Paradise than the squalid and malodorous street so named it would indeed be difficult to conceive—and in the course of the four years during which it had been in position that lamp had become a familiar object to every man, woman, and child within a radius of at least a mile; for the Doctor's fame had soon spread, and his clientele comprised practically everybody within that radius.
The apparently insignificant event that initiated the extraordinary series of adventures, of which this is the narrative, occurred about the hour of 8 a.m. on a certain day of September in the year of our Lord 19—; and it consisted in the delivery by the postman of a letter addressed to Mr Richard Maitland, care of Dr J. Humphreys, 19 Paradise Street, Whitechapel, E. The letter was addressed in the well- known handwriting of Dick's mother; but the recipient did not immediately open it, for he was at the moment engaged in assisting the Doctor to dress and bind up the wounds of Mrs William Taylor, whose husband, having returned home furiously drunk upon the closing of the public houses on the previous night, had proceeded to vent his spleen upon his long-suffering wife, because, having no money and nothing that she could pawn, she had failed to have a hot supper ready for him upon his arrival.
When, however, Mrs Taylor, scarcely recognisable because of the voluminous bandages that swathed her head and face, and carrying with her a powerful odour of iodoform, was bowed out of the surgery by Dr Humphreys, with a reminder—in reply to a murmur that she had no money just then—that she was one of his free patients, and a message from the Doctor to Mr William Taylor, which the poor woman had not the remotest intention to deliver, Dick drew his mother's letter from his pocket and opened it. As he mastered its contents he went white to the lips, as well he might; for this is what he read:
The Cedars, 14 South Hill, Sydenham. September 10th, 19—.
"My dear Dick,—
"I am sorry to be obliged to call you away from your work, but I must ask you to please come home to me as soon as you can possibly get away, for I have just received news of so disastrous a character that I dare not put it upon paper. Besides, I am so distracted that I scarcely know what I am writing, as you will no doubt understand when I tell you that we are ruined—absolutely and irretrievably ruined! Come as soon as you can, my dear, for I feel as though I shall go out of my senses if I cannot soon have someone to counsel me as to what is the best thing to be done under these dreadful circumstances.
"Your loving but distracted mother,—
"Hillo, Dick! what's the matter?" exclaimed the Doctor, catching a glimpse of his assistant's drawn face and pallid lips as Maitland stared incredulously at the letter in his hand. "Nothing wrong, I hope. You look as though you had just seen a ghost!"
"So I have; the ghosts of—many things," answered Dick. "Unless this letter is—but no, it is the dear Mater's own handwriting beyond a doubt. Read it, Doctor; there are no secrets in it." And Dick passed the letter over to Humphreys.
"Phew!" whistled the Doctor, when he had read the letter twice—from the date to the signature; "that sounds pretty bad. You had better be off at once, and get at the rights of the thing. And when you have done so— By the way, have you any friends with whom you can consult, should you need help or advice of any sort?"
"Not a soul in the world, so far as I know, unless I may call you a friend, Doctor," answered Dick. "Of course there is Cuthbertson, the family solicitor and the sole executor of my father's will; but the suggestion conveyed by this letter from my mother is that something has somehow gone wrong with him, and he may not be available."
"Quite so; he may not, as you say," agreed the Doctor. "In that case, my dear Dick, come back to me after you have become acquainted with all the facts, and we will discuss the matter together. That you may call me your friend goes without saying, as you ought to know by this time; and although I am only an obscure East-End practitioner I am not wholly without friends able and willing to do me, or any friend of mine, a good turn, if necessary. So come back here when you have threshed out the matter, and we will see what—if anything—can be done."
"Right! I will. And a thousand thanks to you for this fresh evidence of your kindly feeling toward me," exclaimed Dick, grasping the doctor's hand. "Are you quite sure that you will be able to get along without me for a few hours?"
"Absolutely certain," was the cheery reply. "You are a very clever young fellow, Dick, and have proved a marvellously apt pupil since you have been with me, but I managed this practice single-handed before you came to me, and I have no doubt I can do it again, if needs be. So be off with you at once, my lad; for your mother seems to be in sore need of you."
Five minutes later Dick Maitland had boarded a tramcar, on his way to London Bridge railway station, from whence he took train for the Crystal Palace, the nearest station to his mother's home, which he reached within two hours of his departure from Number 19 Paradise Street.
Now, as Dick Maitland happens to be the hero of this story it is necessary he should be properly introduced to the reader, and this seems as appropriate a moment as any.
To begin with, then, when we caught our first glimpse of him, assisting Dr Humphreys to dress and bind up those tokens of affection which Mr William Taylor had bestowed upon his wife, Dick Maitland was within three months of his eighteenth birthday, a fine, tall, fairly good- looking, and athletic specimen of the young public-school twentieth- century Englishman. He was an only son; and his mother was a widow, her husband having died when Dick was a sturdy little toddler a trifle over three years of age. Mrs Maitland had been left quite comfortably off, her husband having accumulated a sufficient sum to bring her in an income of close upon seven hundred pounds per annum. The provisions of Mr Maitland's will stipulated that the income arising from his carefully chosen investments was to be enjoyed by his widow during her lifetime, subject to the proper maintenance and education of their only son, Dick; and upon the demise of Mrs Maitland the capital was to go to Dick, to be employed by the latter as he might deem fit. But a clause in the will stipulated that at the close of his school career Dick was to be put to such business or profession as the lad might choose, Mr Maitland pithily remarking that he did not believe in drones. But since Mrs Maitland, although a most excellent woman in every respect, had no head for business, her husband appointed honest old John Cuthbertson, his own and his father's solicitor, sole executor of his will; and so died happily, in the full conviction that he had done everything that was humanly possible to assure the future welfare of his widow and infant son. And faithfully had John Cuthbertson discharged his trust, until in the fullness of years he had laid down the burden of life, and his son Jonas had come to reign in the office in his father's stead. This event had occurred some three years previously, about the time when Dick, having completed his school life, had elected to take up the study of medicine and surgery.
This important step had involved many interviews between Mrs Maitland and "Mr Jonas", as the clerks in his father's office had learned to call him; for the said Mr Jonas had succeeded to the executorship of many wills—Mr Maitland's among them—as well as the other portions of his father's business; and so great had been the zeal and interest that he had displayed during the necessary negotiations, that Mrs Maitland had been most favourably impressed. Indeed Jonas Cuthbertson had honestly earned the very high opinion that Mrs Maitland had formed of him, displaying not only interest and zeal but also a considerable amount of acumen in the matter of Dick's placing. For, when Mrs Maitland, perhaps very naturally, expressed the wish that Dick should begin his studies under the guidance of some eminent Harley Street specialist, the solicitor strenuously opposed the idea, not only upon the score of expense, but also because, as he argued, Dick would certainly acquire a wider knowledge of diseases and their cure—and acquire it much more quickly—under some hard-working practitioner among the East-End poor of London; and that, as he very truly pointed out, was the great desideratum in such a case as Dick's, far outweighing the extra hard work and the sordid surroundings to which Mrs Maitland had at first so strenuously objected. Moreover, Dick agreed with the solicitor; and in the end the maternal objections were overcome, careful enquiries were instituted, and finally Dick found himself installed as a pupil in the somewhat Bohemian establishment of Doctor Julian Humphreys, M.D., M.R.C.P., M.R.C.S., and several other letters of the alphabet. And, queer though the arrangement was in many respects, it proved eminently satisfactory to Dick; for Dr Humphreys was not only an extraordinarily able physician and surgeon, but also marvellously clever and learned outside the bounds of his profession, gentle and tender- hearted as a woman, and a thoroughly good fellow all round, in the best and highest sense of the term. As for Dick, he displayed from the outset a quite exceptional aptitude for the noble profession which he had chosen; study, instead of being irksome, was a pleasure—almost a passion—with him; his nerves were steel, he never for a moment lost his head even when assisting at the most sickening operation; his touch was light and sure; and knowledge seemed to come to him intuitively. No wonder that Doctor Humphreys persistently predicted a brilliant and successful career for his pupil.
Upon his arrival home Dick found his mother in such an acute state of distress that for the first few moments of their interview she seemed to be quite incapable of making any intelligible statement: she could do nothing but weep copiously upon her stalwart son's shoulder and gasp that they were ruined—utterly and irretrievably ruined! At length, however, the lad managed to extract from Mrs Maitland the statement that she had seen, in the previous morning's papers, an account of the suicide of Mr Jonas Cuthbertson, a solicitor; and, judging from the name and other particulars given in the published account, that it must be their Mr Cuthbertson, she had hurried up to town and called at Cuthbertson's chambers, where her worst apprehensions had received complete and terrible confirmation. From the particulars supplied by Mr Herbert, Cuthbertson's chief clerk, it appeared that "Mr Jonas", after walking worthily in his father's footsteps for two years, had become infected with the gambling craze, and, first losing all his own money, had finally laid hands upon as much of his clients' property as he could obtain access to, until, his ill luck still pursuing him, he had lost that also, and then had sought to evade the consequences of his misdeeds by blowing out his brains with two shots from a revolver. This final act of folly had been perpetrated two days before the account of it in the papers had fallen under Mrs Maitland's notice, and in the interim there had, of course, been time only to make a very cursory examination into the affairs of the suicide, but that examination had sufficed to reveal the appalling fact that every available security, both of his own and of his clients, had disappeared, while sufficient evidence had been discovered to show pretty clearly what had led to their disappearance.
This was the sum and substance of Mrs Maitland's somewhat incoherently told story, and when Dick had heard it through to the end he had no reason to doubt its truth; but manifestly it was not at all the sort of story to be taken upon trust, it must be fully and completely investigated, if only for the purpose of ascertaining whether or not anything, however small, was to be saved from the wreck; accordingly, after partaking of a hasty lunch, young Maitland wended his way to the City, and there had a most discouraging interview with Mr Herbert, who was by this time busily engaged upon the preparation of a detailed statement of the position of affairs, for the information of his late employer's clients and creditors. This, Mr Herbert explained, was proving a task of much less difficulty than he had anticipated, since Cuthbertson had apparently kept an accurate account of all his gambling transactions—some of which had, latterly, been upon a gigantic scale— with the evidently desperate resolution of recovering his former losses, or ruining himself in the attempt, while he had not destroyed any of his papers, as so many suicides do before perpetrating the final act of folly. The position of affairs, as outlined by Mr Herbert, was gloomy enough, but he made it clear to Dick that for the moment he was speaking with reserve, as it was impossible for him to say anything of an absolutely definite character until the investigation—which was being conducted with the aid of a firm of chartered accountants of high standing—should be complete.
Having now ascertained all in connection with the deplorable business that was for the moment possible, Dick returned to his mother and did his best to comfort and encourage her; but, as might have been expected, his efforts met with no very great measure of success, seeing that there was practically nothing of a comforting or encouraging character in the story told him by Jonas Cuthbertson's chief clerk.
The next morning Dick Maitland returned to Number 19 Paradise Street, where he found his friend Humphreys as busily engaged as ever in his work of healing the sick and comforting the sorrowing poor, and received a welcome from the cheery, genial medico that seemed to ease his shoulders of at least half their load of anxiety. But it was not until well on towards evening that the claims upon the Doctor's time and attention slackened sufficiently to afford an opportunity for Dick to tell his story, which, after all, was only an amplified edition of the story originally told in Mrs Maitland's letter.
When at length the tale was fully told, and Humphreys had, by dint of much cross-questioning, fully mastered all its miserable details, he sat for half an hour or more, smoking diligently and silently as he considered in what way he could best help his young friend. At length, however, an idea seemed to occur to him, for he looked up and said:
"Well, Dick, my friend, it sounds about as bad as anything that I have heard of for many a long day! Why in the world did that fool of a lawyer want to meddle with gambling? Why could he not have been content to devote his energies to the conduct of the business—a first-class one, according to his chief clerk's account—which his father left him, and which would have provided him with a very comfortable living all his days and, probably, a snug competency to retire upon when he found himself getting too old for work? I tell you what it is, my boy: this mad craving to get rich quickly is one of the great curses of these latter days. When it once gets a firm grip upon its victim it quickly converts the honest, upright man into a conscienceless rogue, who soon becomes the centre of a widespread circle of ruin and untold misery! Look at this fellow Cuthbertson. He had an honest and honourable father; and, as I understand you, was, to start with, himself perfectly honest and honourable; yet look at him now! What is he? Why, simply a dishonoured corpse, hastily huddled away into a suicide's grave; a man who, having utterly spoiled his life, has presumptuously and prematurely hurried into the presence of his Maker, burdened not only with the heavy load of his own sin but also with the responsibility for all the ruin and misery which he has left behind him! Moralising, however, will not help you, my boy; for if I know anything at all about you it is that you are not the sort of character to make such a horrible mess of your life as that poor wretch has done. But now, the question is: What can I do to help you and your respected mother out of this slough into which another man's weakness and sin have plunged you both? Not very much, I am afraid; for I cannot restore to you the property of which you are robbed. That appears to be gone beyond recall. But I can do this for you—and it may possibly help you a little—I can give you a letter of introduction to a man who is under very heavy obligations to me, and who—being a thoroughly good fellow—will be more than glad to discharge those obligations if I will only afford him the opportunity to do so. You shall go to him and give him full and complete particulars of this terrible misfortune that has befallen you; and if there is anything at all to be saved out of the wreckage, he will save it for you, without fee and without reward—for my sake. He, too, is a solicitor, but an honest one, as many still are, thank God; and it is a solicitor whose aid will be most useful to you in the unravelling of this tangled skein."
"I say, Doctor, that is awfully good of you," exclaimed Dick, struggling to conceal his emotion of gratitude, after the manner of the Englishman, but not altogether succeeding. "If the matter concerned myself alone," he continued, "I would not let you do this thing for me; but I must think of my poor mother, and for her sake must humble my pride and suppress the assertion of my independence so far as to accept your help, so kindly and generously offered. And here let me say that there is no man on earth whose help I would so willingly accept as yours," he blundered on, dimly conscious that there had been something of ungraciousness in his speech; and so stopped dead, overcome with shame and confusion.
"That is all right, my dear boy," returned Humphreys, smilingly laying his hand on Dick's shoulder; "I know exactly how you feel, and very heartily respect your sense of sturdy independence, which is very estimable in its way, so long as it is not carried too far. But, as a matter of fact, Dick, none of us is absolutely independent in this world, for almost every moment of our lives we are dependent upon somebody for assistance, in one shape or another, and it is not until that assistance is withheld that we are brought to realise the extent to which we are individually dependent upon our fellow creatures. But I am moralising again—a habit which seems to be growing upon me since I came among these poor folk down here, and have been brought face to face with such a vast amount of misery that can be directly traced to ignorance and crime. Just pass me over that stationery cabinet, will you? Thanks! Now I will write to my friend Graham at once, and you had better call upon him at his chambers in Lincoln's Inn to-morrow morning at ten o'clock sharp, which is about the only hour of the day when you can be reasonably certain of finding him."
When Dick called upon Humphreys' friend Graham, upon the following morning, and sent in his letter of introduction, he soon had abundant evidence that the rising young solicitor was quite as busy a man as the Doctor had represented him to be; yet he was not too busy to respond promptly to his friend's claim upon him, actually leaving an important- looking client waiting in his outer office while he interviewed Dick and listened with the utmost patience to the story which the latter had to tell, questioning him occasionally, and making notes of his answers upon a writing pad. At length, after an interview of over half an hour's duration, Graham closed the pad sharply and, rising, extended his hand to Dick, saying:
"Thank you, Mr Maitland. I believe I have now all the essential facts; and you may assure my friend Humphreys that I will take up the case with the utmost pleasure, and without loss of time; also that I will do my best for you and your mother. From what you tell me I am inclined to imagine that the wreck of Cuthbertson's affairs will prove to be pretty complete, therefore I very strongly advise you not to reckon upon my being able to save anything for you out of the wreckage; but if there should by any chance be anything, you shall have it. And now, good morning! I am very pleased to have made your acquaintance; and as soon as I have anything definite to communicate I will write to you. Remember me very kindly to Humphreys. Good morning!"
The interview was certainly not very encouraging; but on the other hand it was by no means disappointing; for Dick had already quite made up his mind that every penny of his mother's money was lost. It was, therefore, a very pleasant surprise to him when, about a fortnight later, a letter came from Graham announcing that he had succeeded in rescuing close upon five hundred pounds for Mrs Maitland from the ruins of Cuthbertson's estate, and that the good lady could have the money by presenting herself at the writer's office and going through certain formalities.
DICK MAKES UP HIS MIND.
It was late in the evening of the day upon which Mrs Maitland, having fulfilled the formalities required of her by Graham, had received from him a cheque for the sum of four hundred and eighty-seven pounds, seventeen shillings, and eightpence, which, apart from the house in which she lived, represented all that remained to her of the very comfortable fortune left to her by her late husband. Dick had escorted his mother up to town, and, upon the conclusion of the transaction, had taken her back to The Cedars; after which he had made the best of his way to 19 Paradise Street; for the moment had now arrived when he must come to an understanding with his friend Dr Julian Humphreys, and consult with him respecting the future. Ten o'clock had struck a few minutes ago, a belated patient had been attended to and dismissed, the surgery had been closed by the simple process of drawing down the blind and locking the outer door, and now the two friends were sitting opposite each other in that same drug-scented apartment, conversing earnestly together, as Humphreys pulled contemplatively, yet somewhat vexedly, at a brier pipe which had seen so much service that it was now charred down to about half its original size.
"The fact is," remarked Dick, in continuance of their conversation, "that there is no other course open to me; for I am resolved that I will not touch a farthing of the money that your friend Graham has so cleverly rescued from the ruins of Cuthbertson's estate; every stiver of it will be required for the maintenance of the poor Mater while I am away. And I must go away, because, as you yourself have admitted, there is no employment or occupation of any kind here at home to which, in my present condition of unpreparedness, I could turn my hand with any hope of earning a sufficient income to maintain her and myself, though ever so modestly; even if posts were to be had for the asking, which—in this country, at all events—they are not. You know that to be the plain, unvarnished truth, do you not?"
"Yes," Humphreys answered unhesitatingly, "it is true—unfortunately."
"Very well, then," Dick resumed; "that being the case, the next question is: Where am I to go, and what am I to do, in order to earn enough money to maintain myself and my mother in the meantime, and eventually to restore her to that position of security of which she was robbed by that rascal Cuthbertson?"
"De mortuis nil nisi bonum!" reproved Humphreys gravely. "The poor chap has gone to answer for his sins, whatever they may have been, and there is an end of him, so far as you are concerned. To rail at him now, and speak of him disparagingly, will not hurt him, or do you any good, Dick, my friend, so do not unnecessarily bespatter his memory. This by the way. And now to return to our muttons. The problem that you propound is indeed a hard one to solve; to many it would probably appear an impossibility. But, although I am by no means an old man, I have been long enough in this world to have recognised that what many people deem impossibilities are nothing of the sort, if only one has the grit to face and tackle them. It is grit, my boy, that makes impossibilities possible, and I believe you possess that quality in sufficient measure to enable you to accomplish great things. The question is: What is the particular great thing which will meet your case? What is the work which you are best fitted to do? You are already very well up in the profession which you have chosen. There is many a man in successful practice to-day who knows less about it than you do; but, unfortunately, you are not yet 'qualified', therefore you cannot set up for yourself, even if you could afford the time to create a practice—which you cannot. And as to becoming an unqualified assistant, that of course is out of the question; the pay is altogether too poor to justify the entertainment of that idea. But there are countries where the restrictions are not nearly so great as they are in England; and there are others—beyond the pale of civilisation—where no restrictions at all exist, and where a clever man, with plenty of grit to back him up, might perhaps do remarkably well. Still, to penetrate to such countries a man must take his life in his hands, and, even then, all his courage may prove insufficient to save him from an unspeakable, horrible death. Now, what can you do besides doctoring?"
"Nothing that will help me in my present strait," answered Maitland. "I can sail a boat, swim, ride, or drive a horse, and I can shoot straight; consequently if I possessed sufficient influence I might be able to get a job as groom, stableman, or even under-gamekeeper. But none of those things is good enough for me; I am capable of better things than grooming horses, cleaning harness, or looking after pheasants; I want employment that will bring me in good money, and I mean to have it too."
"That's right, Dick; that's the way to talk," returned Humphreys approvingly. "Modesty is all right, a very desirable and admirable quality in every young man's character, and one which is seen far too seldom nowadays. Modesty, however, is one thing, and self-depreciation quite another. It is a mistake for anyone to underrate his own value, and, as you very truly say, you are capable of doing much better work than that needed in either of the occupations that you have named; therefore you are justified in insisting upon having it. A man has a perfect right to the very best and most profitable work he is capable of doing; but he must get it for himself; it is no use for him to sit down supinely and demand that Providence shall put it into his hands. The man who is worth his salt will get up and 'hustle'—as the Americans tersely express it—and not rest until he has secured what he wants. Now, you, my boy, are very heavily handicapped. You have neither money nor influence to help you to what you want, therefore you will have to depend upon 'hustle' and grit alone; also you have no time to waste in looking about in this country for the kind of thing you want, which, even with all the 'hustle' and grit imaginable, may take you months, or even years, to find. No, as you said at the beginning of this conversation, you must go somewhere abroad to get what you want; and in a foreign land you may find even such despised accomplishments as riding, swimming, and straight shooting of the utmost value to you. But in my opinion your mainstay must be the medical and surgical knowledge which you have acquired. Now, whereabout on the face of this old globe of ours are you likely to be able to employ your knowledge to the best and most profitable account? It should be where wealth is abundant, and where medical and surgical skill is pretty frequently in demand, also where there is plenty of scope for a young fellow who, like yourself, is imbued with the spirit of adventure. Now, let me consider for a moment—where is the country which most nearly answers to these conditions? What do you say to South Africa? It is the land of gold and diamonds; it is not, I believe, overrun with medical men; and as to adventure—" Humphreys shrugged his shoulders and spread his hands abroad expressively.
Dick's eyes sparkled and his face lit up with enthusiasm.
"South Africa is the place for me, without a doubt," he exclaimed with animation. "It is, as you say, rich; it is also a land of unbounded possibilities; and— But how am I to get there? The passage money amounts to something considerable, and I have no money to spare for that sort of thing; also, as I have said, I will not take a penny from the Mater."
"What about borrowing?" suggested Humphreys. "As you know, Dick, I am not a rich man, but I have no doubt I could manage to—"
"No!" interrupted Dick emphatically; "a thousand times no. It is like you, Doctor, to offer to help me out of your own exceedingly limited means, and I am more grateful to you than I have words to express; but I simply will not avail myself of your kindness, or that of anybody else indeed, for I should be starting with a millstone of debt hanging round my neck. No, I have thought of a better way than that; I will work my passage out."
"Work your passage out!" ejaculated the Doctor, staggered, in spite of his whole-hearted belief in the virtues of self-help, at this bold suggestion on Dick's part. "In what capacity, pray?"
"Oh, as anything!" returned Dick buoyantly; "as ordinary seaman, cook's mate, stoker—what does it matter? I will find a way, never fear. I'll take a trot round the docks to-morrow, and it will be strange indeed if I cannot somewhere find a market for my labour. Why, even the elementary knowledge of nautical matters that I have acquired in sailing my little single-handed cutter during holiday time will be of service to me. I can steer, I can box the compass, I know the name of every sail on a full-rigged ship; and I will guarantee that before I have been forty-eight hours out I will know the function of every bit of running rigging, and where to lay my hand upon it in the dark."
"Ay, I'll bet that you will, Dick," answered Humphreys, with enthusiasm as great as Dick's own. "And I have not much doubt as to your being able to get a berth as ordinary seaman; for you are a big strong fellow, and for mere pulling and hauling purposes any skipper ought to be glad to get hold of you. Yes, I think we may consider that part of your problem solved. But what about after your arrival in South Africa? How do you propose to proceed at the end of the voyage when you have safely landed? For you must remember that in all probability you will have no wages to draw; people who work their passages are usually shipped at the princely rate of pay of one shilling per month."
"Yes, I know," said Dick. "Still, I shall have reached the scene of my great endeavour without cost, and that is the important thing. After that I shall of course be obliged to trust to my own push and 'hustle', as you call it, for it is impossible to make any definite plans at this distance from the scene of operations."
"Quite so," agreed Humphreys. "And you must also remember that there is always the element of luck, or chance, or whatever you please to call it, in the background, and to be watched for. Opportunity often presents itself literally at a moment's notice and in the most unexpected fashion, and the one who profits by it is he who is alert enough to seize it as it passes. But there is one thing you must do, Dick; you must take with you a well-stocked chest of drugs, as well as your case of surgical instruments; and, since you will not let me lend you any money to help you on your way, you must allow me to make you a present of that medicine chest just as a token of my appreciation of the way in which you have conducted yourself as my pupil— Nay, boy, you must not refuse me, for if you do I shall be deeply hurt as well as seriously offended."
"Very well, then," acquiesced Dick, "since you put it in that way, and so very strongly, I will accept your generous gift with a thousand most hearty thanks, not only for the gift itself, but also for the kindly feeling that prompts it."
"My dear Dick," protested Humphreys, "there is really no reason at all why you should feel so extraordinarily grateful, for in doing what I propose to do I shall only be very inadequately repaying you for much valuable assistance rendered, and much very pleasant companionship during the time of your pupilage with me. And do not think that because I have not expressed much voluble regret at this abrupt severance of our connection I do not feel it, for I do very keenly, I assure you; but I see quite clearly that the thing is inevitable, therefore to complain about it would be both useless and foolish.
"Now, there is one other way in which I can help you; and when I have explained to you how tremendous is the power which I propose to place in your hands you will understand, more clearly than I could show you in any other way, the absolute trust that I repose in you. For I tell you this, Dick, in all sincerity, there is not another person in the whole circle of my acquaintance—and it is pretty wide—whom I feel I could safely trust with this power, so potent is it for evil as well as good. But I am convinced that I can trust you; and that is why I have determined to endow you with the ability to perform deeds which to many people will seem positively miraculous.
"You have often expressed amazement at the uniform success which attends my treatment of even my most difficult cases, both medical and surgical, but especially the surgical; and I know, from the remarks you have made, that you attribute those successes purely to the extent of my knowledge. Well, of course, knowledge has something to do with it; but the true secret of my success lies in the free use which I make of hypnotism. Yes, no doubt you are surprised; for you have never seen me employ any of the well-known methods of the ordinary hypnotist. Very true. But my method is not the ordinary method at all; it is one which I claim as my own exclusive discovery, and it is as far in advance of ordinary hypnotism as that is in advance of the methods of the stage hypnotist.
"Almost at the outset of my professional career I directed my attention to the investigation of hypnotism, determined to ascertain whether or not there was anything in the claims set up by its exponents; and I soon discovered that there was something in it, despite the disrepute cast upon it by the grotesque performances of certain so-called entertainers. There is no need for me to detail to you the successive steps by which I at length attained my present knowledge of the marvellous powers of the science. Let it suffice me to say that by diligent study of it I eventually acquired such a mastery of it that it has enabled me to— well, to put it mildly—succeed where but for it I must have failed. And a large measure of this success is due to the fact that I have discovered an infallible method of instantly hypnotising a patient without that patient's knowledge. They are hypnotised, but they don't know it; haven't the remotest suspicion of it. Then I convey to them a powerful suggestion that my treatment of them is going to be absolutely successful, and—there you have the whole secret."
Humphreys paused for a moment, as if considering whether or not he should say more; then he gazed abstractedly at his carefully kept finger nails, and his right hand wandered to his waistcoat pocket. Then, looking up, he extended the hand toward Dick, saying:
"Just lend me your penknife a moment, will you?"
Dick produced the knife and held it out to Humphreys, who looked at it, then shrank back.
"Good heavens, man," he exclaimed, "I asked for a penknife, not for an adder! Where did you get that brute from?"
With an inarticulate cry, and an expression of unutterable disgust and loathing, Maitland dropped the penknife to the floor, and then stamped on it savagely, grinding the heel of his boot on it as though grinding the head of a snake into the ground.
"Why, Dick!" exclaimed Humphreys, looking his assistant square in the eye; "what are you doing? What has that good knife been doing to you that you should treat it in that barbarous manner?"
Maitland stared back blankly into the Doctor's smiling eyes for a moment, then looked long at the penknife on the floor, and finally stooped and cautiously took it between his forefinger and thumb, eyeing it doubtfully the while. Then he suddenly sat down, pulled out his pocket handkerchief, and mopped off the perspiration that freely bedewed his face.
"Well, I'll be shot!" he ejaculated. "What an extraordinary experience! Will you believe me, Doctor, when I tell you that as I drew this penknife out of my waistcoat pocket it actually seemed to change into an adder in my hand? There was the flat, wicked-looking head, the malevolent eyes, the characteristic markings of the body, and, above all, there was the feeling of it writhing strongly in my grasp, as though it were trying to get enough of its length clear to turn and strike me! Talk about Aaron's rod and those of the old Egyptian necromancers turning into serpents! Why, I could have sworn that this knife of mine did precisely the same thing! Now, there is a problem for you, Doctor: What sort of mental aberration was it that caused me to imagine such an extraordinary thing as that, eh?"
"Simply, my dear boy, that I hypnotised you 'unbeknownst', so to speak, in illustration of what I have been telling you," answered the Doctor, laying his hand upon Dick's shoulder. "Hope I didn't scare you very severely, eh?"
"N-o," answered Dick slowly, "you did not actually scare me, Doctor; but you managed to give me such a thrill of horror and disgust as I have not experienced for many a long day. But, I say, do you really mean to tell me, in sober earnest, that that abominable experience was due to hypnotic suggestion on your part?"
"Yes, I do," answered Humphreys. "I wanted to bring home to you in a very convincing manner the power which the hypnotist exercises over his subject. I could have done it even more convincingly, perhaps, by commanding you to take that perfectly cold poker in your hand, and then suggesting to you that it was red hot, when—despite the fact of the poker being cold—your hand would have been most painfully blistered. But probably the 'adder' experiment was convincing enough, eh?"
"It was indeed," assented Dick with a little reminiscent shudder. "But look here, Doctor, you say that you hypnotised me. When did you do it? I didn't see you do anything peculiar."
"No, my boy, of course you didn't, because I adopted my own especial method, which is instantaneous and undetectable, and which I will teach you if you care to learn it; for I seem to foresee that there may be occasions, by and by, when you get out to South Africa, when you may find the power extremely useful to you, particularly if you should get any medical or surgical work to do. In such a case just hypnotise your patient in the way that I will teach you, then powerfully suggest to him that your treatment is going to cure him—and it will do so. As to when I got you under my influence, it was done while I asked you to lend me your penknife."
"By Jove!" exclaimed Dick; "it is marvellous, perfectly marvellous; and if I did not know you to be an absolutely truthful man I do not think I could bring myself to believe it. Now I can understand what you meant when you spoke of the potency of hypnotism for good or for evil, and why, as I understand, you have never yet dared to pass on the secret of your power to anyone else. But I swear to you, Doctor, that, if you will entrust it to me, I will never, under any circumstances whatsoever, use it except for a good purpose, nor will I ever pass on the secret to anyone else except with your express permission. And now that you have given me an idea of its capabilities I simply long to know the secret, for it seems to me that a chap with your powers could come very near to working miracles."
"Yes," assented Humphreys quietly, "that is so; indeed, even with my imperfect knowledge—for I have not yet nearly mastered all the possibilities of the science—I have done things that without its aid would have been impossible. And now, if you like, I will initiate you into the secret of my power, which is very simple after all, and which, once known, will enable you to do everything that I can do. First of all, however, I propose to throw you into a cataleptic sleep, in order that, while you are in that condition, I may imbue you with an absolute faith in yourself, without which everything that I can teach you would be practically useless, at least until you had acquired faith in yourself by the somewhat slow and laborious process which I had to pursue. I had to acquire faith in myself and my powers by repeated experiments extending over a period of several months; but you have not time for that, so I must imbue you with it by the process of suggestion while you are in a state of trance. Now, are you ready?"
"Yes, quite," answered Dick, with a quick indrawing of the breath; for now that it came to the point he suddenly found that to submit himself unreservedly to the hands of even his friend Humphreys, for the purposes of an experiment that smacked rather strongly of the uncanny, was something of a nerve-trying experience. Humphreys evidently noted his momentary hesitation, for he said:
"You need not have the least fear; you will be profoundly unconscious during the period of sleep, and will awake without the slightest trace of any unpleasant feeling. Now, stretch yourself out comfortably on that sofa, and do exactly as I tell you."
When Dick descended to the surgery, a few minutes late, the next morning, he found his friend Humphreys, with his coat off, his shirt sleeves rolled up, and his clothes protected by a white apron extending from his throat to the tops of his boots, busily engaged in dusting his bottles and the shelves whereon they stood.
As Dick entered, the Doctor, mounted upon a step ladder, looked down at him with a smile and nod of welcome, and said:
"Well, my boy, how did you sleep, and how do you feel after your ordeal of last night?"
Dick laughed joyously. "My 'ordeal'!" he exclaimed. "I hope I may never have to undergo a more trying ordeal than that. I slept like a top, thank you, and feel as fit as a fiddle this morning, indeed I don't know that I ever felt so fit in all my life before. But that is not all: I have not the remotest idea what mysterious thing you did to me last night, but this I know, that you have imparted to me a something that I have never hitherto possessed. I feel this morning a buoyancy of spirit that it seems to me no amount of disappointment could damp or lessen for a moment, and I have a belief in myself so complete, so boundless, that I feel I cannot help but be successful in this new venture of mine upon which I am about to embark."
"Yes," said Humphreys, nodding his head in a manner which very clearly expressed his satisfaction, "that is the result of your 'ordeal', and it will be quite permanent. Mind you, I don't say that you will always feel quite so buoyant and confident as you do at this moment, for it is beyond the power of any man to make another absolutely immune to circumstances; but in spite of circumstances, however adverse, you will always retain some at least of your present buoyancy and confidence. I do not think you will ever sink into that condition of utter and abject despair which overwhelms some people and drives them to suicide. To change the subject. Are you still minded to go to the docks this morning in quest of a shipmaster benevolently enough inclined to allow you to work your passage out to South Africa?"
"Rather!" answered Dick. "That is to say, if you think you can spare me for a few hours."
"Of course I can spare you," answered Humphreys. "And I would advise you to go immediately after breakfast, for, as you know, 'it is the early bird that catches the worm.' But how do you propose to set about your quest? Not quite haphazard, I suppose?"
"No," answered Dick. "I thought of getting the Shipping Gazette, and perhaps the Telegraphy and consulting their advertisement pages, with the view of learning what ships are on the berth for South African ports, where they are lying, and their date of sailing."
"An excellent idea," declared the Doctor. "As soon as Polly has put breakfast upon the table we will send her out to get the papers, and you can consult them and prepare a list of likely vessels before you go out."
This was done; and by nine o'clock, Dick, having breakfasted, was ready to sally forth on the first stage of his journey in quest of fortune, duly armed with a slip of paper containing a list of some half-dozen ships loading for South Africa, "with quick dispatch."
And two hours later he returned to the surgery, his visage beaming with satisfaction.
"Hurrah, Doctor!" he exclaimed, as he dashed in through the open doorway. "I've done the trick; got the skipper of the Concordia to allow me to work my passage out to Port Natal as ordinary seaman at a shilling a month. I 'sign on' at the shipping office the day after to- morrow, and have to be on board by eight o'clock the same evening in readiness to haul out of dock at daylight on the following morning."
BEFORE THE MAST.
The remainder of Dick Maitland's time in England was pretty fully occupied in comforting and encouraging his mother, in view of the pending separation, and in getting his somewhat slender wardrobe ready and packed for the voyage. The first-mentioned part of his task proved very much more difficult than the other, for Mrs Maitland was rather a helpless kind of person, and had already come to look to Dick for advice and help in every sort of difficulty, whether great or small; the prospect, therefore, of being henceforth obliged to look after herself and manage her affairs unaided filled her at first with dismay. Besides, there was the separation from her son, the feeling that she knew not whether she would ever again set eyes on him in this world, and the terrible uncertainty generally of the future, to further distract her; but at length the buoyancy and unquenchable hopefulness of Dick's spirit had its effect upon her; and, finally, when the moment of parting came, she had been brought to a frame of mind that enabled her to say the last words of farewell almost with calmness. As for Dick, he had already received Humphreys' assurance that he would keep in touch with Mrs Maitland, and see, in conjunction with his friend Graham, the solicitor, that she came to no harm; therefore he had few fears for her immediate future; while, for the rest, he was confident that before his mother's little capital became exhausted he would have found means to replenish it. He spent with her the remainder of the day upon which he had interviewed the skipper of the Concordia, and practically the whole of that which succeeded it, finally bidding her farewell about six o'clock in the evening, in order that he might spend the remainder of the day with Humphreys, with whom he had still much of importance to discuss.
Upon Dick's return to Number 19 Paradise Street he found the genial Doctor so busily engaged in dispensing drugs and advice that the two had time for little more than a mutual nod of greeting; but later on, when the last patient had departed and business had been brought to a close for the night, they sat down together for a chat over a cup of coffee and—so far as Humphreys was concerned—a pipe. Dick had not yet taken to tobacco, and Humphreys, although an inveterate smoker himself, so far from urging his young friend to adopt the habit, had strongly dissuaded him from having anything to do with the weed, at least until he had reached his twenty-first birthday, learnedly descanting upon the injurious effects of nicotine upon the immature constitution, and incidentally warning him to eschew narcotics generally, which, he insisted, were always injurious, and only to be resorted to, even medically, when it became a choice between a narcotic and some greater evil.
"Well, my boy," remarked the Doctor, when they were at length comfortably settled in their respective chairs, "so you have parted with your mother. I hope you were able to cheer the poor lady and reconcile her to the separation. It is of course very hard upon her that at her time of life she should be left absolutely alone, but necessity is a pitiless jade, exacting her tribute of sorrow and suffering from all alike, from the monarch to the pauper, and when she lays her hand upon us there is no escape. But do not allow anxiety on behalf of your dear mother to worry you for a moment, lad, for I have promised to keep an eye upon her, and, as you know, I am a man of my word, and no harm shall befall her so long as I have the power to avert it. No, don't thank me, Dick, there is no need; the satisfaction and pleasure that I shall derive from helping your dear mother will be reward enough for me, for I regard her as a personal friend, and shall consider it a privilege to be allowed to do all that I can for her."
"And now, to pass on to another topic, let me show you the medicine chest which I intend shall be my parting gift to you. Here it is,"— producing a stout case measuring about eighteen inches long by fourteen inches wide and twelve inches high. "It is not inconveniently bulky or heavy, but it contains a practically complete assortment of drugs, sufficient in quantity to enable you to fight successfully about half a dozen cases of almost every known disease. More than that it would be inconvenient to carry about with you; and when any particular drug shows signs of exhaustion you must take timely steps to replenish your supply. And, with reference to that same replenishment, you will find a little manuscript book, written by myself, containing full instructions in the art of preparing several of the drugs from their parent plants, which I believe you will find exceedingly useful." Here Humphreys' talk became professional and his speech surcharged with technicalities—for he was an enthusiast in everything relating to the combating and cure of disease, and far into the small hours he descanted learnedly upon his beloved science, confiding to and instructing Dick in many valuable secrets that, by dint of laborious research and much consumption of midnight oil, he had wrung from Dame Nature. And on many an occasion in the not-far-distant future Dick Maitland had ample cause to look back with gratitude upon that long midnight conversation.
With exemplary punctuality young Maitland presented himself at the shipping office at ten o'clock in the morning, and duly "signed on" as ordinary seaman in the good ship Concordia, bound for Natal; Mr Sutcliffe, the chief mate, privately congratulating Captain Roberts, the skipper of the ship, immediately afterwards, upon his good fortune in securing so "likely" a hand for the small sum of one shilling per month, and expressing his fixed determination to "make a man of him" before they reached the Line. At the private suggestion of the said chief mate, Dick lost no time in conveying his belongings to the ship and depositing his bedding in the best-sheltered bunk in the forecastle; after which he returned to Number 19 Paradise Street, where he spent the few hours of freedom remaining to him in assisting his friend the Doctor, and absorbing further knowledge from him. Finally, as the clocks in the immediate neighbourhood were striking the hour of eight in the evening, Dick stepped over the rail of the Concordia and formally reported himself to the chief mate, thereafter repairing to the forecastle and making his preparations for the night. He was the first hand to join the ship, notwithstanding the fact that the entire crew had been ordered to be on board not later than eight o'clock that evening; and it was not until close upon midnight that the remainder found their way down from the neighbouring public houses, all of them as surly and quarrelsome as bears at the termination of their short period of liberty. Fortunately for Dick, all hands were too far gone in drink to admit of their quarrelsomeness going further than words, and eventually, by about one o'clock in the morning, he was able to compose himself to sleep, to the accompaniment of the snores and mutterings of his companions—thirteen in number.
Many lads in Dick Maitland's position, and brought up amid refined surroundings, as he had been, would have regarded with horror and loathing such a situation as that in which he now found himself, and would have been overwhelmed with self-pity at the cruelly hard luck which forced them to herd with such uncongenial companions in such a pig sty of a place as the Concordia's forecastle just then presented; but Dick was something of a philosopher, and was, moreover, full of "grit". He held the doctrine that a man can make what he chooses of his surroundings, and always find in them something of amusement or interest, if he cares to look for it; and now he consoled himself with the reminder that life in that forecastle, and among those men, whose highest ideal of happiness seemed to be helpless intoxication, would after all be but a brief experience, out of which it would be hard indeed if he could not learn some useful lesson. With this philosophic reflection, he curled himself up in his blankets and dropped into a sound, dreamless sleep.
At six o'clock next morning the mate came thundering upon the fore scuttle with a handspike, following up the resounding blows with a yell of:
"All hands ahoy! tumble up there, you sleepers, and don't wait to curl your hair. Hurry up, now, and give me a chance to see who are the 'smarties' among you!"
With low growls of disgust at such rude and untimely disturbance of their slumbers the fourteen occupants of the forecastle rolled unwillingly out of their bunks and proceeded to scramble into their garments, most of them anathematising the sea life generally, and their present ship in particular. For forecastle Jack is a curious creature, and, if you are to believe him, "last voyage" is invariably the supreme period of his life, wherein has been crowded the utmost comfort and pleasure and the most remarkable adventures, while the ship on board which he happens to be at the moment is, as invariably, the slowest, ugliest, most uncomfortable, and most rotten tub that he ever had the ill luck to ship in. And all this, mind you, as likely as not before the much-maligned craft has passed out through the dock gates, or Jack has done a hand's turn of work on board her. Dick listened with a good- tempered grin to the chorus of grumbling that was proceeding around him, interjected a merry jest or two which caused the growlers to stop in mid-career in amazement at his audacity, and then, having slipped nimbly into his clothes, he sprang up through the hatchway and presented himself first on deck of the forecastle hands, to be greeted by the mate with a cheery:
"Well done, youngster! First to answer the call. That comes of joining your ship with an unmuddled brain. I think you and I are going to get on well together."
"I sincerely hope so, sir," answered Dick. "If we don't it shall not be my fault. And although I am rather an ignoramus at present in respect of a sailor's work generally, you will find me both willing and eager to learn."
The mate stared at Dick for a moment with compressed eyebrows, rather taken aback at the lad's refined tone and manner of speech; then he nodded, and remarked gruffly:
"That's all right; if you are willing to learn I'll take care that you have the chance. And, as a starter, you may get a broom and sweep up all this litter. But don't heave it overboard, or you'll have the dock people after you. Sweep it all together and put it into that empty barrel until we get out of dock and can heave it over the side."
The rest of the forecastle hands now came stumbling up on deck, and were set by the mate to various tasks, pending the opening of the dock gates and the arrival of the tug which was to tow the Concordia down the river. At length the order was given to unmoor ship, the dock gates swung open, the vessel was warped through the opening to where the tug awaited her, the towrope was passed, and presently the Concordia was heading down the river toward Gravesend, from whence, having first shipped her passengers, she was to take her final departure for the southern hemisphere.
The Concordia was a steel barque of eight hundred and seventy-four tons register, Clyde built, and modelled upon lines that combined a very fair cargo-carrying capacity with high speed possibilities. She was a very handsome vessel to look at, and Captain William Roberts, who had commanded her since she left the stocks some two years prior to the date at which we make his and her acquaintance, was inordinately proud of her, sparing no pains either to himself or his ship's crew—and especially, his boatswain—to keep her as trim and neat as a man-o'-war. The decks were regularly holystoned every morning when the ship was at sea—to the intense disgust of the crew—the brasswork was as regularly polished, not with the usual rottenstone and oil, but with special metal polish provided out of the skipper's private purse; and there was no more certain way of "putting the Old Man's back up" than for a man to allow himself to be seen knocking the ashes of his pipe out against any portion of the ship's painted work. It was even asserted of Captain Roberts that, so anxious was he to maintain the smart appearance of the ship, he would, whenever she ran into a calm, have the quarterboat lowered and manned, in order that he might pull round his vessel and assure himself that her masts were all accurately stayed to precisely the same angle of rake; and woe betide the unhappy boatswain if there seemed to be the slightest occasion for fault-finding.
The Concordia was a beamy ship in proportion to her length, and she carried a full poop extending forward to within about twenty feet of her mainmast, underneath which was a handsome saloon, or cuddy, fitted with berth accommodation for twenty passengers; for although the steam liners have, for all practical purposes, absorbed the passenger traffic, there still remains a small residue of the travelling public who, either for health or economy's sake, choose a well-found, well-built sailing clipper when they desire to make a sea voyage.
Such was the vessel in which young Dick Maitland was to make his first, and, as he hoped, his only, essay as a seaman before the mast, and after the slight sketch which has been given of her and her skipper, it will be readily seen that he could scarcely have hit upon a craft where he would be likely to have more hard work, or better opportunities for the acquirement of a large measure of seafaring knowledge in a very short time.
Mr Sutcliffe, the chief mate, had been favourably impressed by Dick from the moment when the two had encountered each other at the shipping office, and Mr Sutcliffe's method of showing his favour was to provide his favourites with an ample sufficiency of work to do. The ship had, therefore, not been out of dock half an hour when Dick was sent aloft with an able seaman named Barrett to get the fore and main royal-yards across; and so eager was the lad to learn as much as he could that Barrett very willingly permitted him to do all the work, merely directing him what to do and how to do it, and at the same time instructing him as to the nomenclature and purposes of the various parts of the gear which were manipulated during the operation. Naturally, Dick, being a novice, took about twice as long as his companion would have taken over the job; but so eager was he to learn and such aptitude did he exhibit that he won the unqualified approval of Barrett, as well as of Mr Sutcliffe, who had been keeping a sharp eye upon what was going on aloft. As for Dick, although it was the first time that he had ever been aloft in anything deserving the name of a ship, and although the hull upon which he looked down seemed ridiculously inadequate to support the lofty spar upon which he was working—suggesting the idea that unless he exercised the utmost caution in the disposition of his weight he must inevitably capsize the entire complicated structure—he felt neither giddy nor nervous, but went about his work with all the coolness and confidence of a thoroughly seasoned hand.
Arrived off Gravesend, the anchor was let go, and the ship swung to the now fast ebbing tide, the quarterboat was lowered, and the skipper was rowed ashore, while Mr Sutcliffe went the rounds of the decks and satisfied himself that everything had been done to make the Concordia perfectly ready to get under way at a moment's notice; the yards were accurately squared by the lifts and braces, the running gear hauled taut and neatly coiled down, the decks once more swept; and then the worthy mate found himself compelled to admit, with a sigh, that nothing more could be done, at least to advantage, until the passengers should have come off and the ship be once more under way. These two events happened late in the afternoon, and meanwhile the occupants of the forecastle were sent below to snatch a few hours' rest in preparation for the coming night, during which Dick Maitland had an opportunity to become better acquainted with his messmates. For a wonder these proved to be without exception British, consisting of two Irishmen, five Scotchmen, and one Welshman, while the rest were English. There was nothing very remarkable about any of them, they were all just ordinary average sailormen, but it did not take Dick very long to make up his mind that, with the possible exception of the carpenter, and Barrett, the A.B. who had been his companion and instructor aloft during the morning, the five Scotchmen were the pick of the bunch. But all hands seemed to be very decent fellows in their own rough way, now that they had had time to recover from their previous day's debauch, and manifested a distinct disposition to be friendly toward the young greenhorn whom they found in their midst, especially as they had already had an opportunity to see that the greenhorn's greenness was not of such a character as to entail upon them very much extra work.
The afternoon was well advanced when at length the passengers, seventeen in number, came off to the ship; and the moment that they and their baggage were embarked the anchor was hove up, the tug once more came alongside and took the towrope, and the Concordia proceeded upon her voyage, the hope being freely expressed, both fore and aft, that there would be no more anchoring until the ship should have arrived under the shadow, so to speak, of Natal Bluff. As soon as the ship was fairly under way, and the anchor at the cathead, the chief and second mates picked the watches, and Dick, to his satisfaction, found himself picked by Mr Sutcliffe as a member of that officer's watch.
As the ship drew down toward the lower reaches of the river she met a slight breeze breathing out from the north-east, to which she spread, first, her fore-and-aft canvas, and, later on, her square sails, so that by the time of her arrival off Deal, near midnight, she was practically independent of the tug, which at that point cast her off. Here also the pilot left her, taking with him a goodly packet of letters from the passengers to their friends ashore; and the Concordia, spreading her studding-sails, swept on into the broadening waters of the English Channel. With the other letters went one from Dick to his mother and another to Dr Humphreys, written during his watch below.
The fair wind which the Concordia fell in with at the mouth of the Thames lasted long enough to carry the ship, not only clear of the Channel, but also well to the westward of Ushant, Captain Roberts having availed himself to the utmost of the opportunity to make as much westing as possible, as his experience had taught him that at that season of the year the prevailing winds which he might expect to meet with to the northward of Madeira would most probably be strong from the south- westward. And the event proved the correctness of that mariner's surmise, for on his seventh day out from Gravesend he fell in with the expected shift of wind, and four hours later the Concordia was fighting her way to the southward, under double-reefed topsails, against a heavy and fast-rising sea.
Those seven days had made a vast amount of difference to Dick Maitland, so far as his usefulness as a seaman was concerned. In that comparatively brief period he had contrived not only to learn the name and function of every bit of running rigging in the ship, but also to lay his hand unerringly upon any required halyard, brace, sheet, downhaul, clewline, or other item of gear in the darkest night; he was as active and almost as handy aloft as the smartest A.B. in the ship; and he proved to be a born helmsman, standing his "trick" at the wheel from the very first, and leaving a straighter wake behind him than any of the other men, even when the ship was scudding before a heavy following sea. Mr Sutcliffe, the chief mate, was delighted with his young protege, and declared, in unnecessarily picturesque language, that he would qualify the boy to perform the duties of an able seaman before Natal Bluff should heave in sight.
But Dick was to prove his mettle in quite another fashion before long; for the strong south-westerly breeze which the Concordia encountered on her seventh day out rapidly developed into so furious a gale that, after battling with it for some fourteen hours, Captain Roberts decided to heave-to under close-reefed fore and main topsails, and at eight bells—noon—the order was accordingly given to clew up and furl the already reefed courses, and to haul down and stow the fore-topmast staysail. This, under the weather conditions of the moment, was a task requiring the services of all hands, and by the orders of the chief mate, who was conducting the operations, Dick was stationed at the weather fore clew-garnet, with three other hands. The men, having gone to their stations, were waiting for the word of command when suddenly the chain main-tack carried away, and the part attached to the sail, acting like a whip, struck one of the men who was standing by to ease it away, smashed the poor fellow's right arm above the elbow, shattered his jaw, and laid open his right cheek from the turn of the jaw to the right ear, which was all but torn away from the man's head; the force of the blow also was such as to dash the unfortunate fellow against the bulwarks so violently that he instantly fell to the deck senseless.
The accident, naturally, at once occasioned the utmost confusion, in the midst of which the mainsail promptly threshed itself to rags, the mate sprang down the poop ladder and rushed to the spot, yelling a whole string of orders, to which nobody paid the slightest attention, and Dick, with two or three others, abandoned their posts and ran to the injured man's assistance.
"Back to your stations, you skowbanks," roared the mate. "What d'ye mean by rushing about like a flock of frightened sheep? D'ye want to see the ship dismasted? Here you, Dick, and Joe, pick him up and carry him below to his bunk until the skipper can attend to him."
"I beg your pardon, sir," spoke Dick, "but I am afraid we may do the poor fellow some further injury if we attempt to carry him below. I understand that there is a spare bunk in the deckhouse where the boatswain and carpenter are quartered. May we not take him in there? And, if you will give me leave, I will attend to his hurts. I have studied both medicine and surgery, and feel sure that I can do better for him than anyone else, excepting, of course, a qualified surgeon."
"The dickens! You don't say so?" ejaculated the mate, staring at Dick in amazement. "Very well, then, in that case you had better take charge of him. And—yes, of course, take him into the deckhouse. Now, lads, clew up that fore-course, and be lively with it; haul taut your clew- garnets, ease up your tack and sheet; man your buntlines and leach- lines; that's your sort, up with it; away aloft, some of you, and make a good, snug furl of it!"
Quickly, yet with the utmost care, the injured seaman was lifted up and carried into the deckhouse, where, in accordance with Dick's instructions, he was laid upon the table, a mattress having first been hurriedly dragged from one of the bunks and placed to receive him. Then, leaving the patient for the moment in charge of the other man, Dick hurried to the forecastle and brought up the medicine chest which had been Humphrey's parting gift to him, and his case of surgical instruments, which he opened and placed upon the carpenter's chest, to the undisguised admiration and horror of his assistant, who gazed as though fascinated at the array of highly polished saws, knives, scissors, and other instruments of queer and horribly suggestive shape. Then, dexterously removing the man's jacket and shirt while he still remained unconscious, Dick rapidly proceeded to give his patient a systematic overhaul, with the object of ascertaining the precise nature and extent of his injuries.
He had just completed this examination when the injured man showed signs of returning consciousness, at the same moment that the skipper, having heard from the mate the particulars of the accident, came bustling into the deckhouse with a bottle of brandy in one hand and a tumbler in the other, intent upon doing something, though he scarcely knew what, for the relief of the sufferer. The brandy arrived in the nick of time, and, seizing the bottle and tumbler unceremoniously, Maitland poured out a small quantity and held the tumbler to the patient's lips. With difficulty the man contrived to swallow about a teaspoonful, which considerably revived him, and then, with a groan of anguish, strove to mumble a few words in spite of his broken jaw. Now, if ever, was the moment when Humphreys' doctrine of the efficacy of hypnotism might be effectively tested, and fixing the man's upturned gaze with his own, in the peculiar manner which Humphreys had described and illustrated, Dick said to his patient, in a quiet, yet firm and confident tone of voice:
"Now, Tom, don't attempt to say anything or ask any questions, but listen to me. You have met with an accident, but it is not at all serious; and I am going to put you right and make you quite comfortable. I shall be obliged to pull you about a bit, but understand this, you will suffer no pain whatever, and when I have finished with you you will fall into a quiet and refreshing sleep, from which you will awake without fever or complication of any sort. Now, turn over on your left side, and let me begin by attending to the injuries of your face."
To the utter amazement of the skipper and Joe—the man who had assisted Dick to carry the injured man into the deckhouse—the patient turned quietly over on his left side as directed, without a groan or any other sign of suffering, and resigned himself quite contentedly to Dick's ministrations. The latter, to all outward appearance perfectly calm and self-possessed, but inwardly full of astonishment at the complete success of his first experiment, at once proceeded with quick and deft hands to arrange in position the shattered fragments of the jaw, strapping them firmly in place with bandage and sticking plaster; then he deftly drew together the edges of the gashed cheek, stitched up the wound, applied an antiseptic dressing, and bound up the injured face in such a manner that the patient might be enabled to take liquid nourishment without disturbance of the dressings. Lastly, he placed the broken bone of the arm in position, and firmly secured it there with splints and bandages. As Dick inserted the last pin in the bandage and arranged the arm in a comfortable position the patient closed his eyes, and a minute later his quiet and regular breathing showed that he was fast asleep!
PHIL GROSVENOR'S PROPOSITION.
"Well, dash my wig," exclaimed the skipper, his face the picture of blank astonishment, "that beats the record! Why, the man's fast asleep, in spite of all your handling of him! How in the name of all that's wonderful did you manage to work that miracle, youngster?"
"Oh, easily enough!" laughed Dick. "Everything is easy, you know, sir, when you understand how to do it. I learned how to do that, and a great many other very useful things, under one of the cleverest men in London, a man who would be famous but for the fact that he prefers to work in the obscurity of the East-End, and let the poor enjoy the benefit of his wonderful skill, instead of becoming a fashionable Harley Street practitioner. With your permission, sir, I will look after our friend Tom, here; and I guarantee to have him up and about again, as well as ever, before we reach the latitude of the Cape."
"You do?" ejaculated the skipper. "Then by George, sir, you shall have the opportunity. But, look here, why didn't you tell me that you were a doctor, when you came and asked me to allow you to work your passage out to South Africa?"
"Well, you see," answered Dick, "I was rather down on my luck just then; I—or rather, my mother—had learned, only a few days before, that she had been robbed of all her money; and it was imperative that I should at once go out into the world and earn more for her, hence my anxiety to go to South Africa. But I was so badly off that I couldn't even afford to pay my fare out there; I therefore determined to work my passage. And, as I considered that the fact of my being a doctor would be no recommendation to you, I decided not to mention it."
"Ah!" remarked the skipper; "that is just where you made a big mistake; your services as a medical man would have been far more valuable to me than as an ordinary seaman. Besides, you can do better work than mere pulling and hauling and dipping your hands into the tar bucket. You are a gentleman in manner and speech, and will look like one when you get into another suit of clothes. Now, I tell you what it is; I am not going to waste you by allowing you to remain in the forecastle any longer, so just turn to and get the tar stains off your hands, shift into a white shirt and a shore-going suit of clothes, and come aft into the cuddy as ship's surgeon. There is, very fortunately, a vacant cabin that you can have; and you may earn the rest of your passage by looking after the health of the passengers and crew—there are three or four ladies who are pretty nearly dead with seasickness, and if you can relieve 'em they'll bless me for discovering you."
"Oh yes," answered Dick cheerfully, "I have no doubt I can relieve them all right! But there is one thing with regard to this arrangement that perhaps you have not thought of, Captain. Perhaps your passengers will not approve of your bringing me aft out of the forecastle to associate with them upon terms of equality."
"Don't you trouble your head about that, my son," returned the skipper. "That is my affair. But I'm quite sure that they won't object when I tell 'em the facts of the case. Besides, they've already noticed you while you've been at the wheel, and have remarked what a well-spoken, gentlemanly young fellow you are. No, no; that'll be all right, never fear. Now, if you've finished with this poor chap for a while, you had better cut away and make yourself fit for the cuddy, and then shift aft, bag and baggage."
"Very well, sir, I will, and many thanks to you for the promotion," answered Dick. "But we cannot leave Tom here on the table, comfortable as he is. Therefore, with your permission, sir, I will call in a couple of hands, who, with Joe and myself, will be able to put him into the spare bunk, where he will be out of everybody's way, and where I can attend to him quite conveniently."
To this proposal the worthy skipper at once consented; and half an hour later Dick, having discarded his working clothes for a suit of blue serge, and otherwise made himself presentable, moved aft and established himself in the spare cabin which Captain Roberts placed at his disposal, the skipper having meanwhile ensured a cordial reception for him from the passengers by telling them such particulars of Dick's history as he was acquainted with, and also describing, with much picturesque detail, the masterly manner in which the lad had patched up the injured seaman.
Dick had no reason to complain of the manner in which the passengers received him among them; on the contrary, his reception was cordial in the extreme, especially by the women, to whose sense of romance the lad's story, as told by the skipper, appealed very strongly. The introduction took place just as the passengers—or at least those of them who were not too ill—were about to sit down to tiffin, and Dick was assigned a place at the long table halfway between the head and the foot, where Captain Roberts and Mr Sutcliffe respectively presided; but the young man declined to sit down until he had visited and relieved his new patients, consisting of five ladies and three men.
His method of dealing with these unfortunates was simplicity itself. Relying wholly upon the wonderful power of hypnotism with which his friend Humphreys had endowed him, he prepared for each patient a draught consisting of sugar and water only, slightly flavoured with an aromatic bitter; and, as he presented this, he got the patient under his influence in the instantaneous manner which Humphreys had taught him, at the same time saying, in a quietly confident tone of voice:
"Now, I want you to drink this, please. It is an absolutely unfailing and instantaneous remedy for the distressing complaint from which you are suffering, and the moment that you have swallowed it every trace of discomfort will disappear, to return no more. You will feel so thoroughly well that very probably you will wish to rise and dress; but I do not advise that. On the contrary, I recommend you to remain where you are until you have had a few hours' refreshing sleep, after which you can get up to dinner. That is right,"—as the patient swallowed the draught. "Now you feel quite all right, don't you? Yes. You will feel very sleepy presently; just let yourself go; and when you awake you will find yourself as well as you ever were in your life."
And, incredible though it may appear, that is precisely what happened. What was perhaps at least equally remarkable was that, although these good people had all suffered more or less from seasickness every day since leaving Gravesend, from that moment they were entirely free from it for the remainder of the voyage.
Among the passengers who were thus suddenly and completely cured was a Mr Philip Grosvenor, who, having been crossed in love, and, moreover, possessing far more money than he knew what to do with, while he had no disposition to dissipate it on the racecourse or at the gambling tables, was going out to South Africa to shoot big game; and this young man—he was only a month or two over twenty-six years of age—at once struck up a warm friendship with Dick, originating, possibly, in a feeling of gratitude for his prompt relief from those sufferings which had hitherto made his life a burden to him, from the moment when the South Foreland light had sunk beneath the horizon astern of the Concordia.
He made his first advances after dinner on the evening of the day which had witnessed his cure. As Dick had foretold, he fell asleep immediately after swallowing the draught which the young medico had administered, had awakened, feeling absolutely well, just in time to rise and dress for dinner, had partaken of a very hearty meal, and thereafter had made his way up on the poop to gaze upon the stirring spectacle of the ship battling with and gallantly holding her own against the raging wind and sea—and possibly also to revel in his new- found immunity from the horrors of mal de mer. Here he had found Dick, a born sailor, walking the heaving and plunging deck and chatting animatedly with Mr Sutcliffe, who, honest man, felt somewhat at a loss to determine precisely the manner of his behaviour toward the youngster whom he had so recently patronised and ordered about, but who was now translated aft to the quarterdeck upon an equal footing with himself. Dick had just about succeeded in putting to flight the worthy chief mate's feeling of awkwardness and embarrassment when Grosvenor appeared and joined the pair, whereupon Sutcliffe, who was rather shy with the passengers, sheered off, upon the pretence of attending to his duty, and left the two together.
"By Jove, Doctor, but this is a grand sight, isn't it?" exclaimed Dick's recent patient. "Never saw the like of it before, and shouldn't be in form to see it now, but for you. 'Pon my word, you know, you are a wonder—a perfect wonder! Give me your arm and let's walk about a bit, shall we? That's right. D'you know I don't think I ever felt more fit in my life than I do at this moment; and to reflect that only this morning I was—ugh! Tell you what it is, Doctor, you should patent that prescription of yours, have it made up, and sell it at five shillings the bottle. You would soon make your fortune. And I'll write a testimonial for you. 'Took one dose and never needed another!' eh? No, hang it all, that wouldn't do, either, rather too ambiguous, eh? sort of double meaning in that kind of statement—what? But, joking apart, old man, I'd very strongly advise you to patent the thing and advertise it extensively. I'm certain that there's money in it."
"Possibly," agreed Dick, who had no intention of taking this young man into his confidence to the extent of explaining the actual character of the draught. "Unfortunately, however, to do as you suggest needs the preliminary expenditure of a good deal of money, which is a singularly scarce commodity with me. No, I am afraid that plan of yours will scarcely do; it is true that I am particularly anxious to make my fortune, and that, too, without a moment's loss of time, but I am afraid I shall have to hit upon some other way of doing it."
"Ah! Well, what is your plan, if it is a fair question? Excuse me, old chap, I'm not asking out of mere vulgar, impertinent curiosity, but at the dinner table to-night somebody mentioned that you are working your passage out to South Africa. What do you propose to do when you arrive there?"
"Heaven only knows; certainly I do not," answered Dick with a lugubrious smile. "When I step ashore on the wharf at Port Natal I shall not know in what direction to turn my steps, or where to look for a meal or a night's lodging. Also the whole of my available capital will consist in the wages which I shall take up when Captain Roberts gives me my discharge, amounting, probably, to a couple of shillings."
"What?" ejaculated Grosvenor incredulously. "Oh, I say, my dear chap, you are not in earnest, surely?"
"Indeed I am, then, in deadly earnest," answered Dick. "But I am not worrying. I am strong and more than willing to work, and I mean to take the very first job that comes to hand, let it be what it will. I believe that if a chap is willing to work he can always get something to do, though it may not be precisely the kind of work that he would like. And when once I have secured the means of providing myself with board and lodging I shall be able to look round for something better."
"Yes—yes, of course you will," responded Grosvenor, a little dubiously. "I say, old chap," he continued admiringly, "you are a 'gritty' beggar, and no mistake! I wonder if you would mind telling me your story?"
"No, not at all," answered Dick; "there is nothing in it that I need be ashamed of." And forthwith he proceeded to give his new-found friend a brief yet clear account of the circumstances which had resulted in his being reduced to his present plight.
"By Jove, Maitland, I admire you!" exclaimed Grosvenor when Dick had come to the end of his story. "There is not one man in a hundred who, under similar circumstances, would have tackled the situation with the indomitable pluck and whole-hearted belief in himself that you have shown; and I feel sure that such courage will meet with its just reward. You are the kind of fellow that always comes out on top, simply because you will not allow yourself to be kept down. Now, look here, I am going to make a proposition to you—and, understand me, it is on purely selfish grounds that I am going to make it. I am going out to South Africa because I want to forget a—well, a very bitter disappointment that I have recently sustained, and the particulars of which I will perhaps tell you some day if you fall in with my proposition, as I hope you will. The way in which I propose to conquer this disappointment of mine is to go in for a life of adventure—exploration of the interior, big-game shooting, and that sort of thing, you understand. I have heard some most thrilling stories of the wonderful things and people that are to be found in the interior of Africa, and, while many of them are doubtless lies, there is evidence enough of a perfectly reliable character to prove that there is at least a certain amount of truth in others; and it is my purpose to ascertain at firsthand the exact measure of that truth. Take, for example, the contention of certain antiquarians that the ruins of Ophir must exist somewhere upon the east coast. I have read pretty nearly everything that has been written upon that subject, and I am convinced of the soundness of the contention, as I am also of the contention that Zimbabwe is not ancient Ophir. Then, again, there is the statement of the existence of a mysterious white race in the far interior, which persistently crops up at intervals. It would be interesting in the extreme to be able to settle that matter beyond a doubt, wouldn't it? Very well, then; my idea is to attempt to find ancient Ophir, and also the mysterious white race, if possible.
"Of course I know that what I propose is scarcely in the nature of a picnic; it no doubt means a good deal of hardship, privation, and danger; in fact, my friends without exception pronounced me a fool for thinking of engaging in such an undertaking, while at least half of them confidently prophesy that if I make the attempt I shall never return. Well, that is as may be; plenty of better fellows than I have gone under in such excursions, but, on the other hand, as big duffers as I am have done great things and turned up again all right, so there is no particular reason that I can see why I should not do the same. And so far as money is concerned I have more than enough to enable me to equip the expedition in such a manner as to ensure the minimum of discomfort with the maximum of everything necessary to success. The only item that I have had any doubt as to my ability to obtain is—a suitable companion; for of course in my maddest moments I have never been ass enough to contemplate going into so big a thing single-handed. But the precise kind of man that I want was not to be found either among my friends or elsewhere at home, so I came away without him, trusting that I should be lucky enough to pick him up somewhere on the way; and, by Jove, Maitland, the event has justified my trust; for I have found in you exactly the kind of man I have had in my mind all along—or, rather, somebody better, for in addition to your other qualifications you have very considerable skill as a physician and surgeon, which is what I never hoped to secure, even in my most sanguine moments."
"Do you wish me to infer, then, that you are proposing to take me as a hired assistant—or what?" demanded Dick.
"Well, yes—and no," answered Grosvenor, with a somewhat embarrassed laugh. "As a hired assistant, certainly, because the services of a fellow like yourself would be of incalculable value to me, especially when the inevitable sickness comes along. But I want particularly to secure you because—well, to be perfectly plain and blunt, because I have taken a great fancy to you, and because I recognise in you exactly the qualities that would make of you not only an invaluable assistant but also a perfectly ideal partner, friend, and companion. Therefore, in your capacity as medical attendant to the expedition I propose to offer you a regular fixed salary of, let us say, two guineas a day, or, taking one month with another, sixty-five pounds a month—the first six months to be paid in advance—and, in your capacity of partner, all the ivory, skins, and other matters which we may accumulate during the progress of the expedition, except what I may desire to appropriate as trophies wherewith to adorn the ancestral halls."
Dick laughed. "Thank you very much," he said, "but I couldn't possibly accede to your terms; they are altogether too glaringly unfair. The salaried part I don't at all object to, because of course if you desire to include a medical man in your retinue you must pay him a fair salary, and two guineas a day is not too much, in my opinion. But when you come to talk about my share of the spoils, in my capacity of your partner, it becomes a different matter altogether, since I cannot contribute a farthing to the expenses of the expedition, therefore I cannot by any process of reasoning be entitled to any share of its possible profits. No; if you care to engage me as doctor, at the salary that you have named, I will accept the post with pleasure and my most hearty thanks, because the pay will suffice to keep the dear old Mater going; and when we return to civilisation—if we ever do—I shall be able to set about the task in earnest of 'making my fortune.'"
"But, look here my dear fellow," remonstrated Grosvenor, "it is just nonsense in you—if you will excuse my saying so—to refuse the second part of my proposal, for this reason. I am not undertaking this expedition as a speculation, or with any idea of making it pay. I have already a much larger income than I know what to do with, and for that and other reasons money does not come into the question at all. Like other fellows who go hunting, I shall naturally desire to have a few trophies to exhibit as tokens of my prowess; but, beyond those, I shall have no use at all for ivory, skins, horns, and such other matters as we may acquire; therefore you may as well have them as anyone else, especially as you are avowedly out fortune-hunting. Besides, two guineas a day is an altogether inadequate rate of remuneration for a young fellow of your exceptional ability—why, before you had been practising a month you would be earning four or five times that amount, and you will be sacrificing that possibility for an indefinite period if you elect to join forces with me. Therefore I contend that if any profits of any kind accrue to the expedition, you are justly entitled to them, and I shall not be content unless you consent to take them; indeed if you refuse I shall be obliged to withdraw my offer altogether, much as I shall regret having to do so."
Under those circumstances there was of course nothing more to be said; and finally Dick agreed to Grosvenor's proposal in its entirety, the more readily that, after all, when he came to reflect upon it, there was much truth in what Grosvenor had said with regard to the possible loss which Dick might sustain by attaching himself to the expedition and burying himself in the wilds for a more or less indefinite period.
As time went on there could be no doubt as to the fact that Grosvenor was genuinely pleased with the arrangement by which he had secured Dick as his companion in the projected expedition, nor did he make any secret of the fact that he regarded the terms of the agreement as eminently satisfactory from his own point of view; while Dick, for his part, felt that he had done not at all badly in securing a post at a salary of sixty-five pounds a month, to be enjoyed the moment that he set foot on shore. Moreover, that salary was a sure thing for at least six months, and since Grosvenor insisted upon paying in advance for that period Dick would be in a position to remit quite a nice little sum home to his mother, immediately upon his arrival on South African soil. Both parties to the agreement were thus equally satisfied, and thenceforward devoted much of their time to elaborating their plans, in order that no time should be lost upon their arrival.
Grosvenor, with the confidence of the inexperienced, was quite prepared unhesitatingly to plunge into the very heart of darkest Africa with no other companions than Dick, and a few Kafir or Hottentot "boys" as servants; but Dick, although the younger of the two, had discretion enough to understand that this would be a very unwise thing to do, and that it would be altogether more prudent in every way to secure the services of some white man, well acquainted with the country, and the ways and language of the natives, to act as a sort of general overseer and factotum, and this view Grosvenor at length somewhat unwillingly accepted.
Meanwhile, Tom, the injured man, made the most extraordinarily rapid progress toward recovery, under Dick's skilled treatment, much to the enhancement of that young gentleman's reputation; and some appreciable time before the period that Dick had named he was out again and on duty, very little the worse for his accident save that his right cheek bore a scar which he would carry with him to his grave.