THE WONDER ISLAND BOYS
ROGER T. FINLAY
A new series of books, each complete in itself, relating the remarkable experiences of two boys and a man, who are cast upon an island in the South Seas with absolutely nothing but the clothing they wore. By the exercise of their ingenuity they succeed in fashioning clothing, tools and weapons and not only do they train nature's forces to work for them but they subdue and finally civilize neighboring savage tribes. The books contain two thousand items of interest that every boy ought to know.
THE WONDER ISLAND BOYS The Castaways
THE WONDER ISLAND BOYS Exploring the Island
THE WONDER ISLAND BOYS The Mysteries of the Caverns
THE WONDER ISLAND BOYS The Tribesmen
THE WONDER ISLAND BOYS The Capture and Pursuit
THE WONDER ISLAND BOYS The Conquest of the Savages
THE WONDER ISLAND BOYS Adventures on Strange Islands
THE WONDER ISLAND BOYS Treasures of the Islands
Large 12mo, cloth. Many illustrations. 60 cents per vol., postpaid.
PUBLISHED BY THE NEW YORK BOOK COMPANY 147 FOURTH AVENUE NEW YORK
ADVENTURES ON STRANGE ISLANDS
THE WONDER ISLAND BOYS
ADVENTURES ON STRANGE ISLANDS
ROGER T. FINLAY
The New York Book Company New York
Copyright, 1915, by The New York Book Company
I. THE STRANGE OARS AND ROPES Page 15
The charted island. Previous history of the boys. The professor. Mysteries. The strange oars and ropes. Experiments. The various trips through the Island. Meeting the natives. The caves. Finding metals and ores. A strange village.
II. A MYSTERIOUS MESSAGE Page 26
The Town of Unity. Enterprises on the island. Building a ship. Homesick. Considering the question of other islands. Treasure hunting. The Krishnos. Their beliefs and practices. The comparison of customs with the white people. Preparing to launch the vessel. The professor decides to remain. Angel. The message. Blakely. A scrap of paper with illegible words. The V-shaped tracing. Guessing the contents of the note.
III. THE ARROW ON THE SHEET Page 38
Deciphering the discolored paper. The arrow on the sheet. The first Walter letter. The comparison. Dimensions of the vessel. The engine. The professor and John's error. Pointing to an island. Convinced of the correctness of the boys' views. Launching of the vessel. The feast day. Putting up the rigging. Selecting a crew. Preliminary trials. The day for departure. The trip to Valparaiso. Reshipping to New York. Telegrams home after three years. Angels and the wonders of New York. The great change in the boys. The return to Wonder Island. Reaching Valparaiso. Meeting Blakely. The new steamer. Installation of a line to Wonder Island. The return trip.
IV. THE SKULL WITH THE CRYPTIC WRITING Page 51
Steaming up Enterprise River. Unity in sight. The natives at the wharf. The enthusiasm. The chiefs witness the arrival. A "Grand Homecoming." The boys visit the natives. Contemplating voyages to discover other islands. Native sailors. Sutoto captain of the Pioneer. Rumors about the boys. Plans for the proposed trips. The force for the expedition. A cargo of copper. The trip to the copper treasure cave. Tides. Fireflies. Explanation of the light. Light without heat The problem of light. Advantages of light which generates no heat. Color of daylight. Phosphorescent glow. Catching fireflies. Scaling the heights. The spot where the Walter note was found. A skull with mysterious characters on it. The mark on the skull and the mark in the message. The star. Cryptic signs.
V. THE TRIP TO THE NEW ISLAND Page 63
Sutoto at the top of the peak. The telescope. The view of Unity. The Illyas' village. The visit to the last captured village. The reception. The kindness of the chief. The great change in the village. The feast of John and the boys. Happiness of the people. The Illyas at work. Return of the Wonder to Unity. The Pioneer on its way to other Islands. Seasickness of the crew. Trying the new cure. Atrophine, and how administered. Explaining its origin, and how it acts. The effect on the crew. Driven out of their course. A light in the dense darkness. Land ahead. Awaiting the morning. Fifty leagues from Wonder Island. The cove in the shore line. Anchoring. The two boats sent ashore. Signs to indicate that people lived on the island. Reminiscences of the Yaks and bears. The discovery of coffee trees. The wild variety. Identity of vegetation in widely-separated countries.
VI. DISCOVERY OF THE ISLAND AND EXPLORATIONS Page 75
Return to the landing. John's advice. Surveying the island. The cardinal points of the compass. Laying out the coast line by triangulation. What measurement of angles means. Transferring the angles to paper. Making plans by means of a scale. Proportionate lengths of the different limbs of the angles. The shore line to the south. Instructions to Sutoto. The party to explore the interior. Starting on their mission. The equipment of the party. The spears, and bolos. The camera and field glasses. Amazing tropical vegetation and fruit. Stone hatchet found. Independent exploits of the boys. Temporary separation. Disappearance of George. A pistol shot in the distance. The search. Evidences of a scuffle. George's tracks found. The footprints of natives. Muro scouting in the direction of the natives. The runner to the ship. The Pioneer sailing away. The new landing place. Uraso advised of the capture.
VII. CAPTURE OF GEORGE BY THE NATIVES Page 89
George's capture. Hearing John's whistle. Firing the gun. The surprise of the natives. Rendered unconscious. He recovers. Sees his gun and glasses in the hands of the natives. Discovers that his revolver is still in his pocket. The natives see him trying to discover the time by his watch. The fight of the savages for the watch. George's determination to escape. The natives discover the revolver. He surprises the natives by explaining the knife and glasses. While explaining the glasses accidentally discovers the ocean in the distance. The matchsafe. Discovers the village. Tries to escape before reaching there. Planning the details. Surprised at the appearance of another party. All hope lost. A powerful Chief. George and the Chief. Investigating George's belongings. How George unwittingly told the Chief about the gun and glasses. The Chief arrests the captors. George explains the weapons. Returns the revolver to George. Invites him to the village. In the home of the Chieftain. Description of the "Palace."
VIII. FIGHT OF THE NATIVES FOR THE TRINKETS Page 102
Scouting. Muro's work. The first traces. Arrival of Uraso. His grief at the news. The conference. John and party march to the east. Finding George's chain. Evidences of a struggle. Determining the number of enemies by the footprints. Reading characters by feet. How people are distinguished. Observing peculiarities of actions. Estimating the number of natives in the party which captured George. Discovering the Chief's footmarks. Judging of the safety of George by the marks of the feet. Uraso discovers the tree where George exhibited the power of the bullet to the Chief. Inferences as to the characters of the natives who captured George. The trinkets and buttons of more importance to the savages than the person of the captive. Power as the great factor with savages. Why right is might.
IX. THE GIANT CHIEF AND HIS "PALACE" Page 113
The Chief interested in George's belongings. Discovery of a ship's chair. The matchsafe in the Chief's hands. The imitative quality. The first meal. The peculiar knives and forks. The Chief's capacity for food. The character of the meal. The siesta after the meal. George's opportunity. Stealing from the Chief's house. The daughter of the Chief. Wandering from the Chief's house. His midnight sleep from exhaustion. The watchers at his bedside. Finding the soap plant. Breakfast. Absence of the Chief. George's suspicions. Follows the Chief. The appearance of John and Harry. The meeting. George introduces the party to the Chief. Uraso and Muro able to converse with the Chief. George's story. "The Palace." The village. The feast.
X. PECULIARITIES OF THE NATIVE TRIBE Page 125
How the feast was served. John relates the story of the boys to the Chief. The Chief interested in the wonderful ship. The story of the island. The runner to the ship. No Krishnos on the islands. Sutoto sees the runners. Sails for the village. The Chief does not believe in a great spirit. His philosophy. Strength is the only right. No caves on the island. Disappointment of the boys. Bad people to the north. Their own kin, but convicts. Stealing and lying the only crimes. No crime to steal from each other, only from the Chief. The sun as a great Chief. The coming of the ship. The natives on the seashore. Casting of the anchor. Sutoto sees the Chief's daughter. George's captors on the way to the convict colony. Intercession on the part of the boys. The food at the banquet. The natives' aversion to fish. Snake worshippers. Witch doctors. The bad god Baigona. Peculiar ideas of right and wrong among the natives. The survey of the southern part of the island. Triangulation from the mast of a ship.
XI. SUTOTO AND THE CHIEF'S DAUGHTER Page 137
Sutoto's love affair. Cinda, the Chief's daughter. The Chief is told of the wonders of Wonder Island. About the activities of the natives on that island. His curiosity. John tells him how the white people live. The acute questionings of the Chief. Teaching him how trade and commerce is carried on. Money and its uses. How it gets its value. Why it is a measure only. The trip to the north in charge of the Chief's son. Gruesome tales of the ferocity of the convicts. John still anxious to find some particular cave. His chart. The unsolved mystery of the boat. The clothing of the natives. Bracelets. Glitter to attract natives. Weaving, the only industry. The aptness of native women to adopt fancy articles of dress and ornament. John's scheme, anticipating the wedding of Sutoto and Cinda. A "State affair." The mission to the Professor. Sending the Pioneer to Wonder Island. Stut captain of the ship. Sutoto's secret mission through Stut.
XII. THE SKELETON BENEATH THE BOAT Page 148
How the present journey reminded the boys of their first adventure on Wonder Island. Peculiar animals. The kagu. The fashionable millinery styles. Singular habit of the bird. The benne plant. Its remarkable properties. Lard from trees. The coffee trees. A tree with sandpaper leaves. The indicus. Analyzing soils. How plants digest food. Larvae. The early forms of many animals. Kinds of food in the earth. The bruang. The sun-bear of Malay. The bear and the honey pot. How it was tamed. The sport. The ocean. George and Harry at the beach. Bathing in the surf. The discovery of the wreck of an upturned boat. Finding the compartments belonging to their lost boat on Wonder Island. Sending for John. The skeleton beneath the upturned boat. The bound skeleton. The startling discovery of the same kinds of ropes found in their lost boat. Evidence of a crime.
XIII. A CONVICT COLONY OF NATIVES Page 161
Describing the skeleton. A soldier or an adventurer. Their first hatchet. The narrow neck of land. The Rose of Jericho. The resurrection plant. The Australian kangaroo. The exiled people. The Chief's son tells about them. Explains they do not believe in killing except in self-defense. The upas tree. Its flowering branch. Valuable mineral in the hills. Description of the convict's home. Banishment one of the most serious forms of punishment for crimes. The survey of the mountains. Hunting for caves. How the parties, were organized. The influence of odors on human actions. Tests of odors on patients. How they affect dreams. Calcareous formations. Where the real caves are found. Erosive action of water on limestone.
XIV. A WHITE PARALYTIC IN THE CONVICT COLONY Page 174
The wide search for the caves. George finds a cave entrance. Preparing to explore the cave. The lamps. A blind lead. A fissure, not an erosion. The joke on George. The first sight of the location of the dreaded criminal colony. The magnificent wild fruits. The beautiful flowers. The first criminals. The industry of the people. Cultivating fruit and vegetables. Hutoton. Peculiarity in names. Well-dressed natives. The distinguished head of the village. His dignity. The welcome to the village. The well-kept huts. The garden plots and bowers of flowers. The criminals preparing a feast of welcome. The boys discover a white man. A paralytic patient. How the convicts cared for him. Surprised to learn that the convicts rewarded the men who rescued the paralytic. How the savages calculated time. The movement of the sun, and how it gave them the time.
XV. SAVAGE MARRIAGE CUSTOMS Page 185
Criminal Colonies. The effects on the people. Its advantages. The principles of punishment. Protecting society. Isolating patients who have contagious or infectious diseases. Trying to ascertain the identity of the paralytic. John's promise to reward the people for the care bestowed on the white man. Refusing to be paid, for taking care of him. Contrasting Hutoton with Sasite, the home of the Chief. Returning to Sasite. The first glimpse of the returning Pioneer. The interesting party aboard. The Chief and the entire village at the seashore. The Professor. Muro's wife. Blakely. The Chief meets the Professor. The Chief knows why the Professor is a wise man. The double eyes, spectacles. The Chief with the spectacles. Muro's wife meets the Chief's wife. They confer about Cinda and Sutoto. The savage customs in marriage. The ceremonies. Stut tells the boys about Sutoto's mission to procure his wedding outfit. The surprising news that Sutoto and Cinda were to be secretly married that night. The plot. Muro's wife informed.
XVI. SUTOTO AND CINDA'S MARRIAGE; AND THE SURPRISE Page 193
The Chief's wife gets the news. The Chief brought into the conference. His will the only law on the matter of marriage. He consents to their plan. The two requirements in the ceremony of marriage according to their rites. The gift of fruit, of fowl, and of game. The blindfolding of the bridegroom. The absolute silence when eating. Preparation for the banquet that night. Sutoto and Cinda arrange to be married that night while the people are at the banquet. Decide to conform strictly to the rites of the tribe. The boys learn of the stealthy plans. Witness the ceremony in Cinda's home. The Chief arrests the bridal couple and takes them aboard the ship. The criminals before the Chief. The Chief upbraids Sutoto. The reconciliation. The presents brought over from Wonder Island. Grief of the boys because they had forgotten a present. The surprise of the natives at the beautiful silver forks. Spices. Coffee. Cream and sugar. Curiosity about the cows. The great surprise to Sutoto. He is made Chief of his tribe. Monuments. The presents. The great mirror, the present of the boys. The crowns. The final ceremony. The dance. Originally a religious ceremony. The encircling wreath.
XVII. HUTOTON; THE PLACE OF DEATH Page 207
Preparations for further explorations. Consulting the charts. Determine to sail northward, on way to Wonder Island. Reasons from shape of the island why an island might be to the north. Geological formations. Upheavals. Islands mere ridges. Sutoto to return to Wonder Island. The Chief agrees to go to Wonder Island. His family to accompany him. Proposed visit to Hutoton. Boarding the ship. The welcome of the convicts. Taking the paralytic to the ship. Stores from the ships for the convict colony. The Pioneer sails to the north. Discovery of a new island. Taking observations from the sun. The calendar. Summer and winter. Taking the angle of the sun, and what it means. Triangulation. The nautical chart. Greenwich or Standard time. The island which they had left named Venture. The new island and its magnificent vegetation. John, with the boys and two boatloads, land. The exploring parties formed. The boys and Muro at the head of one party. Traces of savages. Appearances that cannibals were there. A shower of arrows their first surprise. The volley and the disappearance of the natives. Reappearance of the savages. Surrounded. Preparing for defense. The second attack. The fight. The natives apparently preparing to rush them.
XVIII. DISCOVERY OF A NEW ISLAND, AND A SAVAGE TRIBE Page 222
The effect of the second volley. The determination of the attacking party. The fire on all sides. The ammunition getting low. The relief party under John. Hearing the sounds of firing. The surprise of the natives. The savages repulsed. Muro and the men follow the fleeing natives. Recalled by John. Aiding the wounded. Taking along a wounded Chief. The litter. The decoy. Returning to the ship. Observing the enemy from a tree-top. Following up the party. A rear guard. The runner reports the determination of the natives to follow. The signal shots to the ship. Reinforcements. The determination to explore the island and meet the natives. John with the boys and a strong party remain. The Pioneer sails for Wonder Island. Holding a council.
XIX. FIGHT WITH NATIVES AND RETURN TO WONDER ISLAND Page 231
Arrangements for the Pioneer to return. Ammunition needed. The arrangement of the men for scouting and picketing. Leaving security harbor. A plant which devours insects. Venus's fly-trap. How plants absorb food. Irritability. How the leaf digests the fly. Food absorbed by leaves as well as by roots. A cache of human skulls. Head hunters. The vele. A hoodoo. The rattle. The vele and the bamboo box. How it is worked to produce the charm. Evidences of extreme superstitions. Witch doctors. Peculiar noises. Doleful sounds. Speculating on the mysteries of the island.
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS PAGE He turned it over and examined every portion 75 The rites were progressing very satisfactorily 195 She ... found herself standing in front of a tall oval mirror 218
Fig. 1. The Mysterious Message. 28 Fig. 2. The Walter Letter. 40 Fig. 3. The Fire-fly. 57 Fig. 4. Inscription on the Skull. 60 Fig. 5. Measuring by Triangulation. 76 Fig. 6. The Second Limb 78 Fig. 7. Triangulation from a Vessel. 80 Fig. 8. The Kagu. 149 Fig. 9. Sesame Oil Plant. The Benne. 119 Fig. 10. Flower of Indica Tree. 152 Fig. 11. Bruang. The Malayan Bear. 155 Fig. 12. Rose of Jericho. 163 Fig. 13. The Koala. 164 Fig. 14. The Flower of the Upas Tree. 167 Fig. 15. Getting Angle from Position of the Sun. 212 Fig. 16. Venus' Fly-Trap. 234
ADVENTURES ON STRANGE ISLANDS
THE STRANGE OARS AND ROPES
"I am awfully anxious to know where the charted islands can be that John spoke about," remarked George, as Harry was consulting the plans of the boat they were building.
"They must be in this section of the southern seas, or his party wouldn't have sailed in this direction," answered Harry, after a pause.
"Do you think he would be offended if we spoke to him about it!"
"No;" answered Harry, after some reflection. "He has spoken to me about it several times. But why do you ask!"
"For the reason that I think it would be a grand thing to hunt them up."
Harry laughed, and then slowly said: "That would be a big thing to undertake. But what about going home?"
"I hadn't forgotten that. I meant that when we came back it would be proper for us to undertake."
"Well, haven't you had enough trouble during the past two years?" And Harry laughed, just as though they hadn't gone through sufficient trials to last a life time.
"I wouldn't mind going through the same experiences, when I remember what we have learned and what all of us have accomplished," responded George, as he looked through the window, reflectively, and watched the natives at work.
* * * * *
It will be difficult to understand the force of the above conversation, unless the reader knows the situation in which the boys were placed at the time it took place, and the locality of the scene where the conversation was held.
Over two years previously two boys, George Mayfield and Harry Crandall, were members of a school training ship which left the Harbor of New York, for a cruise in southern waters, the object being to instruct the crew of seventy boys in the art of seamanship, as well as to give them a foundation knowledge in the arts and sciences.
On board they became intimate with a gray-haired Professor, who became very ill. They were particularly attracted to him, and waited upon him, until they reached the Pacific Ocean, where, for some reason the ship met a catastrophe, and the crew were compelled to take to open boats.
The two boys, with several companions, and the Professor, were together in one of the life boats, and after leaving the sinking ship a terrific gale, one of the great monsoons, separated them from the companion boats, and for six days they were driven about in the vast ocean, absolutely helpless. During this time all their young companions were washed overboard, and they were driven to the point of despair, when they were cast ashore on an island.
They were thus placed on an unknown land, with nothing but their scanty clothing, and devoid even of a knife. There is no indication that the land was inhabited, and for the first three months, while recuperating, they had no opportunity to go far from the spot where they landed.
After the Professor had regained his health, they began to make a few necessary things, and hunt for the food which was necessary to preserve life. As they grew bolder, however, they fashioned crude implements, like bows and arrows, and primitive articles of utility.
They made a few trips into the interior, and then saw the first indications which pointed to the presence of inhabitants. From some of the traces it was evident that the people must be savages, and then they saw the necessity of preparing themselves to meet hostile neighbors.
Then began the most remarkable series of adventures on the part of the boys, under the instruction of the Professor, to provide not only the necessaries of life, but many of the luxuries. While engaged in the different enterprises they undertook numerous excursions, all of which confirmed them in the first intimations that they had landed on an island, and that it contained one or more savage tribes.
To recount all that the boys did, even in the briefest space, would be impossible in this book, and it is not necessary, in order to relate the happenings from this time on; but some things are necessary, because we shall have to deal with incidents which took place during their adventures, and this volume also brings into the scene several characters, in addition to the three which have been named, as the principal participants.
The incidents referred to were called by the boys "the mysteries." When they landed on the island they erected a flag pole, and improvised a flag which was kept at half mast, and mounted on a high point, so that it would attract passing ships, if their island chanced to be in the path of vessels. During one of their excursions the flag pole and staff disappeared.
For the purpose of making one of the trips by water a boat was built, and they sailed it up a large stream, only to find that within ten miles of their home was an immense cataract, or falls, around which they could not porter the vessel. It was left below the falls in a secure position, and ten days later, when they went for it, were surprised at its disappearance.
Later on it was found miles away, but the little closets which they had built in to hold their food and clothing, had disappeared, and they were still more startled to find a pair of oars, which they could not have made, attached to the boat.
In repairing the boat a note was discovered, written by some one who could not have been a member of their ill-fated vessel. This added to their perplexities, for it indicated that white people had been on the island, as well as savages.
Then they found strange ropes, evidently fashioned by a crude hand; a skull of a well-developed man was picked up on the shore not far from their home; part of the wreckage of a vessel was discovered; a herd of yaks was captured and a mysterious brand deciphered on one of them.
But in their wanderings they found the entrance to a cavern, and this was explored, resulting in finding that it was formerly a pirates' lair, and they were astounded at finding immense wealth in its hidden recesses.
They industriously searched the island, and found numerous ores which were dug out and smelted and from which they were able to build many things that added to their comfort; and finally, firearms were constructed, and powder made.
They spent much of the time in chemical experiments, in hunting for and gathering the different vegetables, and fibres, and from the latter learned how to weave cloth, to make felt, and to turn skins into leather from the animals which they hunted.
Their adventures were not wholly devoid of the amusing things of life. In one of the expeditions they captured a young Orang-outang. This was carefully taught to do many things, and it became not only a valuable assistant, and a wonderful scout in their wanderings, but it afforded them immense amusement, which was appreciated by the boys.
And now, having been provided with suitable weapons, they determined to go on voyages of discovery, being prompted in this course, because they found in the wreckage along one of the rivers, and far in the interior, a life boat which was a companion to their own which had been lost when they were stranded in the great tempest.
It was evident to them that some of their companions were on the island, and probably, captives. This made the quest a most exciting one, so every energy was bent toward the end of helping the unfortunates.
On the initial expedition, after the completion of the first weapons, they came into contact with several tribes of savages, one of whom was captured, after being wounded. It developed that he was a chief of one of the tribes which at that time were at war with each other.
Returning from this trip they discovered at their home a distinguished looking white man in rags, totally devoid of intellect, and unable to speak. It was evident that he had met with some accident, but he was entirely harmless, and obediently took up and performed every sort of manual labor,—in fact, was an expert in any sort of mechanical operation required of him.
In hunting, or in scouting, he was a perfect specimen of the hunter, or the soldier. It seemed to be an instinct with him to render every kind of service that might be needed, with the gun, or the tools which were all about him. In the absence of a better name they christened him John.
On the second trip into the unknown portions of the island they met three of the savage tribes, with whom they had several battles, and one of the natives was wounded and captured. While wandering through the forests, in their efforts to return to their home, they ran into a savage village, where they were successful in rescuing two boys who had been shipmates on the Investigator which went down months before.
While this was a source of joy it was clouded by the information that they were not the ones who came to the island in the life boat that the boys had found in the river. This was evidence that others must still be in the island, and probably held as captives.
Some months after the silent John came to them, his reason and the ability to speak returned to him, and he told a wonderful tale of his wanderings, and that which impressed the boys most was the information that he had shipped in a vessel which was designed to search out the treasures hidden in the islands of the South seas.
From hints which he dropped from time to time, the islands containing the treasure were charted, and later on, one of the caves so charted was found on the island they now occupied, although they also found several which were not alluded to and could not be recognized by the description, according to the story told by John.
John was an educated man, an archaeologist, and, next to the Professor, had the most varied knowledge of any one the boys ever met, and it can be understood, that their association with men of that class made them remarkably active in seeking out and understanding the wonderful things that nature presents in every field of human activity.
In order to be as brief as possible with this part of the story, it is necessary to add that the rescue of the two boys, and the restoration of John's faculties, made a strong party, and new weapons were made, and the real expeditions through the island begun.
During the first extended trip, the Professor was captured. Out of this misadventure grew some of the most remarkable series of events, but finally, they were successful in rescuing four more of their former companions, and two of John's shipwrecked companions.
The capture of the Chief, formerly alluded to, and the subsequent rescue of a chief who was about to be offered up as a sacrifice, served as a means to bring two of the tribes to the rescue of those in the expedition, and the Professor, by his wisdom, was able to enlist the services of the tribe which had captured him.
The events which lead directly up to the beginning of this volume were brought about by the enmity of two of the most bitter and vindictive tribes, which compelled the Professor and the boys to form an expedition against those hostiles, in which four other tribes assisted.
They captured the Chief, and rescued two of their former companions, and then built a town called Unity, where the advantages of civilization were taught the natives, and to which place many of the families of the natives emigrated.
All the chiefs formed an alliance of peace, and the Professor was made the chief magistrate. After peace and order had been restored, the boys again began to long for home. Prior to this they had determined to build a ship large enough to take them to the nearest shipping point, and they were now feverishly engaged in the work with the aid of the natives, who were eager to learn how the white men built the wonderful things which they saw all about them.
It will, therefore, be understood, that the remarks of George, at the opening of this chapter, had reference to the fact that the most important of the islands, or the ones having the most of the treasures could not be the one on which they resided, but pertained to some other localities.
"Well, if there is anything I am interested in, it is to know why the wonderful buildings we found at the Illyas' village were put up at that place, and what caused all trace of them to be lost," said Harry, after George had expressed his last opinion.
"Do you remember what John said, after we came out of the cave below the village?"
"No; what was it!"
"He said the copper in the cave might explain it."
After the capture of the last tribe, John demanded that the Chief inform them of the location of the Hoodoo, or Medicine Men of the tribe, and he reluctantly consented, but the Chief warned them, that to attempt to enter the cave would mean Death.
John knew that the Chief and the people believed the death tales told by the Medicine Men, as it was tales of this kind which enabled them to maintain such a hold on the people. In order to destroy the power of those people, who really had been the cause of much of their troubles, John announced that he would take the Chief and his followers to the cave, and that he would then go into the cave alone, and come out again, to prove that the Medicine Men had lied to him.
John entered the cave, and single-handed captured the Krishnos, as they were called, and brought them out, thus verifying his statement that those men had deceived the people. Soon thereafter John and the boys entered the cave, which, from the description he had, contained an immense amount of treasure, but they were unable to discover any trace of it if it existed.
By accident the calcareous deposit was broken off at one part in their search, and below was found a dark material, which, after examination, was found to be copper. It was not in its native state, but was a product produced by smelting the ore, and they uncovered an immense quantity of it, sufficient to show that the portion of the cave in which it was found was really a storehouse.
Not more than a mile away was the Native village, where they held the tribe captive. The village was absolutely unlike anything else in the form of habitations found in the island. Three of the buildings were large structures, built in three of the well-known types of architecture, and the other parts of the village were laid off regularly.
Surrounding the village was a strong embankment, as though originally used as a fortification, and the village itself was located on the side of a hill, betokening sanitary considerations.
"But I do not see," observed George, "what the copper in the cave had to do with the town?"
"Nor do I," responded Harry. "Suppose we see John at the first opportunity. There are other things besides the copper I would like to know. John has asked every one that he has come into contact with about the different wrecks that have come ashore within the past two years, and no one seems to have any idea that more than two of the Investigator's boats came ashore."
"Well, if they did it isn't at all likely that they could come to the southern shore, when the wrecked vessel was to the north of the island."
"It is just for that reason," responded George, "that I believe we shall find other islands in the vicinity, and who knows but some of the boats reached those islands?"
"I am with you," said Harry. "Shall we talk to John about it?"
"By all means. But stop! Why not have a talk with the Professor first?"
"Good idea. We owe everything to him."
A MYSTERIOUS MESSAGE
The town of Unity was located about ten miles from the sea, on a little stream, which had a waterfall, from which they derived the power for turning the machinery which had been put up. This consisted of a saw mill, a small foundry, a machine shop, as well as grist mill and other mechanism suitable for a town.
All these enterprises were now being operated by the natives. The leading commercial genius of the town was Blakely, who was one of the owners of the vessel on which John had sailed from San Francisco, and which was also wrecked by the same monsoon which sent the schoolship Investigator to the bottom.
It was Blakely's idea that the work of the natives could be profitably turned to raising coffee, cocoa, and the different fibres which naturally grew all over the island, and in order to take advantage of the crops which could be grown there it would be necessary to open communication with the outside world.
To do this meant that they must build a ship, and thus reach civilization, and vessels could then bring such things to the islands as the natives could use, and take away the produce that the natives could turn out.
Such a plan was one which was heartily seconded by all the boys, who, although they had been engaged in the most wonderful experiences, were homesick, and longed to see their parents in the States, and thus relieve them of their anxiety, after an absence of more than two years.
It was with a will that all took a hand in the work, and the ship was nearing completion. They had no facilities for making a large engine, so the vessel was a sailer, with a small propeller, and the largest size engine they could turn out was to be used as an auxiliary.
The next evening while the Professor, John and the boys were together, Harry brought up the subject of the talk of the previous evening.
"George and I have been talking about making a voyage of discovery."
The Professor looked at Harry with that genial smile which the boys had learned to love. Without answering for the moment, the old man turned to John, as the latter's face lit up.
"I thought you boys were homesick?" he said.
"Well, yes," answered George. "But only for a little while."
"Only homesick for a little while?" and the Professor's hearty laugh followed.
"I mean we are homesick,—that is, we can be cured of it in a little while."
Without relaxing that broad smile, the Professor continued: "I suppose you want to be cured before you go on the voyage of discovery? Is that it?"
"But what do you expect to discover!" asked John, gravely.
"Just what you suggested on one occasion," said Harry.
"We want to know where the treasures are on the islands," remarked George.
"Then, there is another thing," ventured Harry. "I don't think all the boats of our ship were lost, and it is likely that they found refuge on some other island."
"But how do you know there are other islands near here?" asked the Professor.
"Well, I don't know, only from what John has said."
John looked at Harry for a moment quizzically, and then said: "When did I say so?" he asked with a smile.
"When you told about the charts of the treasure caves."
"But we have found them, haven't we?"
"Yes; but not all of them."
"That is true; and your argument is correct. Unquestionably, there are other islands, probably not in the immediate vicinity, but near enough that they could have caught some of the boats. I quite agree with you that we ought to make the attempt. The Professor and I have just been talking of taking up the matter in order to relieve any who might have been so unfortunate as to be east away."
"I am surprised," said the Professor, "that you are not through with treasure hunting, and want some more of it."
"But you know, Professor, that some of the most interesting times we had were during the investigations we made at the big cave at the Cataract on Wonder Island!"
"Quite true; but think of the immense riches you now have. In the vault beneath the floor of the main shop you have the combined treasure of the two caves," continued the Professor.
"Yes; and that shall be taken back by you to your homes in the States, and you will want to enjoy it," and John said this with a most sincere air, as he looked at the boys.
"That would be nice," said Harry reflectively. "But if we are there the only thing we can do is to spend it, and there is no particular fun in doing that."
"What? No fun in spending the money?" exclaimed the Professor.
"Why, we haven't spent a cent since we have been here, and we have enjoyed every hour of the time, except—except—" and George hung his head for a moment.
"I know," said the dear old Professor; "I know what you mean. Home still has a warm place in your heart. That is right. You must see your home, and then,—"
"Then we want to come back," broke in Harry.
"It makes me happy to see that the lessons of the past while we have been together has impressed on your minds one thing; that it is not riches which give happiness."
"I know that," said Harry. "When I go out and see these poor people here, and I meet smiles on every face, and a welcome everywhere, the thought that we have tried to make them feel and know that wars were wrong, and that true happiness consists in trying to make others happy, it gives me more pleasure than all the gold which we took from the caves of the Buccaneers."
"Yes, and there is another thing, that I have been thinking about," said George. "I really don't think the people here are so bad, and never have thought so."
"Well, they have been doing some pretty bad things," remarked John. "I would like to know what makes you think as you do."
"I mean, that if it wasn't for certain classes, like the Krishnos, say, the people would not be trying to sacrifice each other. Those fellows are the ones who lie to the people, just as the fellows at the last cave told the people and the Chiefs that if they went into the cave the Great Spirit would destroy them."
John and the Professor both laughed, while the boys looked on. There did not seem to be anything amusing about that, and they wondered why they should laugh at George's remark.
"Did it ever occur to you how like that is to the white man's way of doing things?" asked John.
"I never thought of that!" said Harry.
"Do the white people act that way, too?" inquired George. "I never knew that we had people who tried to deceive others so they could give them up as a sacrifice?"
"What do you think the Krishnos deceive the people for?" asked the Professor.
"So as to give them the power," answered George.
"Quite true. But what is the object of that power?"
"So they can rule?"
"Yes; but what gives them the power to rule?"
"Oh, I see now! They get paid for it! And that is why the Krishnos have all the best things, and are better cared for than even the chiefs are?"
"You have given the right answer. The Krishnos don't want to sacrifice human life because they love to do it, but because in the doing of it they inspire fear, and through fear they can get what they want."
"But, Professor, you haven't yet told us how that is like the white people do it."
"In exactly the same way. The Krishnos own the big gun factories, and they tell the chiefs that the people across the river, or on the other side of the mountain are going to rise up against them, and they must arm the people and attack them. You see the white man's Krishnos have a great cave, called a gun factory, and while he does not want to offer up any sacrifices for the love of it, he does so because it is his business to make guns, and ammunition, and shells which explode with terrific force, and destroy hundreds at every shot."
"Well, after all, we are not much better than the savages here, are we?" said Harry, as he looked around, with a sad expression.
"We have advanced a little beyond them," interpolated John. "We have tried to systematize the killing. The savage goes at it without regard. But the white man has set rules to conduct the slaughter. Of course, the rules do not say that they shall not kill but it does point out the impolite ways of killing."
The Professor smiled at this homely way of putting it, but the boys looked doubtfully at John's exposition, and then George ventured to remark: "I can see the force of it, and it is my opinion that the savage way is, after all, the most reasonable."
"If it is not the most reasonable," answered the Professor, "it is certainly the most logical. But we are getting away from our subject. I understand from what John says that within the next week we shall be able to launch the vessel!"
"Yes," answered Harry. "Everything is now so far ahead that in two weeks more we can be ready to sail."
"That is well. I hear there is considerable rivalry among the men to go with you?"
"But aren't you going with us?" asked George in a voice of alarm.
"No; my place is here. I have no desire to go back. I have induced John, much against his will, I know, to go with you, but I cannot leave my people here. I will welcome you only the more gladly when you return."
Harry was almost in tears, as he said: "But we wanted you to go back with us so we could take you to our homes and let our people see you. They would be so happy to see you and to hear you talk."
"Thank you so much for the kind invitation. Sometime in the future, when everything is properly settled here, and I can see my way clear, I will consider it an honor to visit your homes, and enjoy the friendship of your dear ones; but not now."
The door opened quietly, and Angel stepped in, Angel being the Orang-outang to which we have alluded. He was now nearly as tall as George. He gravely shambled over to the Professor, and placed an envelope in his hand.
Angel was the most wonderful character in that community. He was the pet and the playmate of all the children. No one dared to harm him or offer an insult. Such a thing would have caused an insurrection in that town.
While he could not speak, he could understand practically everything that was told him. Daily he performed many extraordinary tasks, thanks to the training and care that George had bestowed upon him from the day he had become a captive.
The Professor opened the envelope, and adjusted his glasses. As he read his eyes opened wider and wider, while John and the boys drew closer. While reading one of the sheets the Professor was slowly unfolding a scrap of dark colored material, smaller than the sheet he was reading.
"What is it?" asked Harry.
"The letter is from Blakely," he said as he passed the papers to John. "And what do you think it is about?"
All eagerly peered at the letter and then at the brown missive, whatever it was.
"Read it aloud," said the Professor.
John handed it to George, and this is Blakely's letter:
"SOUTH MOUNTAIN, Below Illya.
"My Dear Professor:
"I felt sure that my view as to the character of the mountain range below the town was correct. Copper outcroppings were found as far south as the range can be seen, and there is also silver in abundance. This will surely be a profitable field for the natives. Yesterday, while prospecting on the southeastern side of the main ridge, I was surprised to find a part of a metal pot, evidently of cast iron. Quite a number of articles, of no particular value were lying near, but within the fragment of the pot, and protected by a shale of rock, was the enclosed scrap, which I thought might interest you, as you have a leaning in the direction of finding out hidden and abstruse things. Probably, you can decipher what it says. All the men are well, and are feeling jolly. We may be ready to return in a week. I hope the old ship is coming along all right.
"Hurriedly, as ever,
"That is satisfactory. Blakely is the right man for his job," remarked John.
"Now, let us see what the scrap has to say," said the Professor.
John held the scrap up to the light, and all peered at it. "I think there are cross lines on it, although I am not quite sure," he said, as he again held it up so the light could flash through it.
"What difference would that make whether it had or it hadn't cross lines?" asked Harry.
"Simply this: I wanted to satisfy myself whether or not it was taken from a ship's pad, which is generally ruled both ways."
"What is the object of having paper ruled both ways?"
"It is a convenient way of making calculations where measurements are necessary, as is the case in figuring out and placing the different celestial marks which guide the sailors. I think this is a marine pad. Now, let us see what it contains, before we go further."
"See the name signed at the bottom," cried out George. "W-a-l-t. That must be a 't'. But the rest is blurred."
"I wonder if that isn't Walter?" said Harry.
"Who is Walter?" asked John.
"Walter? Why he is the man who signed the note we found on the Investigator's life boat No. 3 and from whom we have never heard."
"I remember now," said John, reflectively. "He mentioned Wright who was one of my companions. But I did not know Walter,—but what is this?" All craned forward now. "Here is a line; it looks like a large V, pointing to the south;—that is if the upper part of the paper is the north."
"There is some sort of tracing on it," said George.
"Your eyesight is good, George, see if you can see any figures on the sheet that will explain the V, and the reason for the name below."
"There is the slightest sign of a figure, or a word just below the point of the V. It looks like '30'. This seems to be an arrow, which points to the right diagonally."
"Now you boys have something to occupy your minds. Yon have been interested in the Walter note for a year; now is the time to do some investigating."
"I have an idea," said Harry, jumping up. "Where can we find the original Walter's note? We can compare the signature, and that will tell whether it is Walter or not."
The Professor smiled as he noticed the eagerness of the boys. They rushed out of the room and went over to the shop to reclaim the note that had given them so much concern fourteen months before.
When they had gone John said: "I presume you have already guessed what the note contains?"
"Unquestionably it has reference to the location of the main ledge of copper or other ore which is measured from some point in that vicinity, and which may be determined later on by noting the place where the missive was found, or from some natural landmark."
"That is my view, but I felt it would be better for the boys to dig it out for themselves," replied John.
The wonderful nature of the instruction which the boys had obtained during their stay on the island, was characterized by this little incident. Everything learned by one's own exertions is not only more valuable because of that fact, but the facts thus gleaned will leave a stronger impress upon the mind.
The boys thus learned by doing things themselves, that they became strong and self reliant, and it made them happy to think that they were able to pick up the threads, however tangled, and weave them into a harmonious whole. It is the secret of doing things well.
THE ARROW ON THE SHEET
When the boys reached their rooms they set to work to decipher the colored paper. It was about four by six inches in size, and had been folded twice, as the creases plainly showed. Assuring themselves that it was paper which had been crossruled, as suggested by John, they tried to decipher the straggling letters and form them into some coherent form.
The paper had the following appearance when they received it:
The words, or parts of words "dire," in the first line, and "30 gues" in the second line, together with the letters "Walt" are the only absolutely clear things to be noticed.
"The writing is right across the V-shaped marks, and the arrow is plain enough. It may be though, that the arrow has nothing to do with the V-shaped mark." And George held the paper away from his eyes to get the proper effect at a distance.
"I wonder how close the mountain is to the sea?" ventured Harry.
"I don't see what difference that would make," replied George. "That 30 must mean some measurement. It is either feet, or miles, or yards, or,—"
"Why can't you see that 'gues' is a part of the word 'leagues.'"
Harry jumped up as though shot. "Well, that was stupid of us, sure enough."
"With that key before us, we can make some headway. I believe the V-shape is the lower end of the mountain, probably a headland, and the arrow points to a place 30 leagues to the,—see here, in the last line is a W. and there is a blur before it and after it. That may be SWE, EWS, SWW, SWS, and,—"
"Don't go so fast," shrieked Harry. "What do you suppose the capital I stands for at the beginning of the third line?"
"I—I—, why,—Island, of course," said George, with an air of superiority. "But it cannot be west."
"Well, the arrow points southeast."
"How do you know?" asked George, dubiously.
"Why, that word at the extreme top must be 'north,' and if so then the arrow is pointing south, and the 'W' belongs to something in that direction."
"There, in the second line is a word that looks like 'land.' Can it be a part of the word 'Island'?"
"It doesn't seem so, as there is too much space before the letters. It seems to me though, that it reads 'land 30 leagues' but what does 'se' mean?"
The boys were up late that night, and they went to bed with the missive still unsolved. Before retiring Harry said: "Let us wait until daylight. The sun may help us out."
When they awoke the first thing that occurred to George was the original Walter letter, so that the writing could be compared. It was found, and George came in with an exultant bound.
"I am sure now that it was Walter. Here it is." The original letter was as follows:
"Compare the two and you will see they look alike," said George.
"What shall we tell the Professor!" asked Harry.
"Well but I am not yet through with the paper. Suppose we moisten it, and that may bring out something we didn't see before."
This was done, but it made the entire document worse than before.
"Too bad we have spoiled it," remarked Harry, "but I think we are safe in telling the Professor and John what we have found out."
For the time being, however, the boys had other urgent work to do. The day for launching had been set, and every working hour was valuable, so they were over at the ship yard early, and the boys did not see either John or the Professor during the day.
The vessel as designed by Harry, and supervised by John, was ninety feet long, and had a beam of eighteen feet, with a very deep keel, and high bulwarks. It was constructed of a species of oak, found in abundance in the forest west of the town, and was cut up into boards, and dried in specially-prepared kilns which were put up for the purpose.
While lumber dried in this way is not the best for ordinary uses, it will serve for shipping purposes, because there is always more or less moisture present in the hull of the vessel, and the object was to enable them to get the material in the speediest way.
The saw mill was one of their first experiments in building machinery, and it was in constant service from the day it was first erected, getting out lumber for building purposes.
The engine was designed only for auxiliary purposes, and the boiler was intended to use coal, of which they found an ample supply in the northern portion of the island, as explained in a previous book.
When the boys returned to their rooms late that afternoon, the first thing that interested them was the message. When it was brought in it was dry, and a slight change was noticed in its appearance. Now, what appeared to be the first word of the message, was discernible, the word "Take," and the word "Head" could be made out before and as a part of "land," in the second line.
"We have it," cried Harry, as he jumped up. "Now let them know about it."
They were across the open space, without any ceremony, and without taking trouble to announce themselves, were in the Professor's room.
"We have it,—we have made it out," was the announcement, as Harry held up the message.
"Does it tell you where the Copper mine is located?" asked the Professor.
"Copper mine!" exclaimed George. "What has a copper mine to do with it?"
"John and I concluded, from certain markings on the paper, that it contained a diagram of the mine!"
"Well, you were mistaken," said Harry with a chuckle. "It is something about an island, thirty leagues to the southeast, somewhere."
"Is that so?" exclaimed the Professor in surprise. "Get John. He will be surprised."
John came hurriedly at the announcement, and the contents of the missive pointed out. "This is certainly good news," he said. "That was fine work on your part."
"You see the arrow, and the part of the word 'leagues.' That couldn't mean feet or yards, or miles."
"Quite evident," said John, as he mused for a while. "This confirms, in a measure, the information that we have as to the proximity of these islands, but the charts show them farther away."
"Undoubtedly, if Walter knew what he was talking about, we have an interesting problem to decipher, and the determination to make the voyage is a wise and timely one," interposed the Professor.
"Now for the ship," said Harry. "Every day is a hundred, in my mind."
As may be imagined, the boys now worked with feverish haste. Other islands here, and waiting for them! Sometimes they were almost tempted to give up the trip home, but the Professor would not hear of it.
"Do not change your plans, if you have any good conclusions when you start out. Don't oscillate from one thing to another. Always make up your minds and then take a wise, persistent course. It is that which always serves you best."
"No; we will go home first, and then for the islands," said Harry, who felt relieved that the impetuous nature of George could be brought to their way of thinking, although George was by far the most homesick of the entire lot.
All the boys were on hand when the vessel was launched. It rode the water beautifully, and the natives were the most enthusiastic helpers. They felt proud of their work. Uraso and Muro, the two chiefs, who were the most prominent men in the community, and particularly Sutoto, the intelligent Beree, and Stut, the brother-in-law of Muro, were on hand.
It was a great feast day for the people. Tears actually flowed from the Professor's eyes, as he saw the women and children crowd about him. He was almost a God to them. They were accustomed to receive visits from him in his weekly rounds, and how at such times he loved to tell them how to make and arrange things about the house, which contributed to their comfort.
Everybody was at work; all were happy, and no one appreciated this more than the women, who had been lifted out of the bonds of slavery and elevated through the wise administration of the Professor.
Angel, too, was in evidence. He was the first to climb the mast, as the ship floated in the stream.
"I wonder whether Angel remembers the first trip he took with us on boat No. 1?" asked Harry.
Angel bestowed a knowing look on Harry. "I believe he knows what you said," remarked George.
In another week the rigging had been put up, and the boiler and engine were installed before the launching, so that the necessary work required to enable the ship to sail, was the provisioning. John suggested that what was of far more importance would be the work of training a crew to handle the ship, so they turned their minds toward the solution of this question.
The selection of a crew was a most difficult task, because all the men were willing to volunteer. It was decided, however, that only the unmarried men should be taken, and this at once eliminated many who might otherwise have been selected.
For three days the ship was taken out to sea, under sail only, and John found no trouble in maneuvering the vessel with his new crew. John was a sailor, and had once been owner of a vessel, so that they were in competent hands.
But the final day came, when they must go. It was a most trying time for the poor boys. Almost at the last moment, Harry and George walked back to the Professor's room, and broke out into tears.
"Everybody is leaving you," said Harry, "and I cannot bear to go and leave you in this way."
All the rescued boys were on board, as well as Blakely, since the Professor had insisted that the latter should go, for business reasons, so that the Professor was left alone, the only white man on Wonder Island, when the ship sailed down the river.
True, there was no reason to fear for his safety. The natives loved him too devotedly, but the boys felt that he must often be lonely in his new surroundings, with no one but the natives about him. They little knew that the solace and comfort of the grand old man was the knowledge that he had helped his fellow man, though the color of the skin was darker than his own.
* * * * *
Their voyage was accompanied by favoring winds and perfect weather. Valparaiso, Chile, was the first port at which they landed, and as a trip around the Horn, or even through the Straits of Magellan, and up along the Atlantic coast, would mean several months, with their own vessel, they shipped in one of the line steamers, and within seven weeks they saw Sandy Hook lightship, and then the forts which lined the opposite shore at the Narrows.
Telegrams to their parents created paroxysms of joy in many homes which had been robbed when the Investigator went down. There were no happier homes than the ones Harry and George were welcomed to.
The papers told the stories of the boys in pages and pages of descriptions, and they showed the photos, and told what the boys had done in their temporary home. The hero of all this wonderful home-coming was Angel.
The people, the houses, the wonderful automobiles which he saw on every hand, at first alarmed him, but when he saw that George did not seem a bit afraid, he reconciled himself to the situation.
His first automobile ride was a revelation to him. He held on tightly to George, at first, but soon the sensation became one of joy, and he could not get enough of it. The boys were certainly feted, but when they told their parents that they must go back, the proposition met with strong opposition.
The parents forgot that the boys were now over two years older than when they went away, and it seemed singular that the surroundings did not seem the same to them as before the happy boyhood days before they left home.
For business reasons the parents knew that it would be prudent to permit them to return and they were influenced by the remarkable change they saw in the manners and actions of the boys. They saw the youths were strong and self reliant, ever ready to act and to carry out their resolutions. These boys had been transformed into men.
They spent many days going over old scenes and visiting friends. They enjoyed to the utmost the reunion with their families, but they could not cease talking about the Professor. They now realized in full what he had been to them, and what his example and teaching meant to them. There was really a feeling amounting almost to jealousy on the part of the people at home against the Professor, but it was not one of bitterness.
One who could exert such a healthy influence on the lives of the young, as he possessed, was worthy of the adulation that the boys bestowed. But John was not forgotten in these periods of happiness.
They were never happy when telling the tales of their adventures except when John was present, and the latter was the most sought-for individual, because when he once began to tell some of his vivid tales the people would not let him stop.
Finally the time for departure came. A merry party gathered upon the dock when the explorers were about to depart. They would write at least once a month, as Blakely had assured them that he would arrange to have a steamer run a round trip each four weeks, to take care of the commodities which would be made up by the natives.
The steamship Panama slowly moved out into the bay, and the boys remembered the memorable event which took place at that same dock thirty months before. Then they left with a sort of half joy in their hearts, and now they were going away to finish up the great adventures which they had started when they reached the island of Wonder.
All hearts were anxious as the ship neared Valparaiso, because there they would leave the liner from New York, and again ship in the boat they had built. They keenly scanned the pier as the vessel was being warped in.
"Ah! there is Blakely on the dock," said Harry.
"But I don't see the Pioneer here!" responded George.
Pioneer was the name of the vessel they had built, and which brought them to that port from their island home.
The moment the vessel came alongside the dock, George called to Blakely: "Where is our boat?"
"At Wonder Island," was the reply.
"At Wonder Island?" said Harry, and the boys looked at each other in amazement. And now they must wait several weeks, probably, until it returns. This was disappointing, indeed.
The boys rushed off. "And where shall we go now?" asked Harry.
"Over to our ship," replied Blakely.
They followed his gaze to a dock beyond, where lay a beautiful vessel, a steamer, all decked out with flags.
"Is that our vessel!"
"Yes, and I have been to Wonder Island on her since you left. We just arrived two days ago. We are ready to steam out within two hours."
"Then don't let us waste a moment's time," said Harry.
"I thought you might want to take a look over the town," said Blakely.
"I have no wish to do so, as long as we have the islands in view," remarked George. "And how is the Professor," he continued in an eager tone.
"He is well and happy. But I have no doubt he longs for you, as he frequently goes over to your rooms, and wanders around the shop, a thing which he never did while you were there."
This was joyful news to the boys. How they longed to sail up Enterprise River. The steamer which Blakely had bought, and which was destined to ply between Wonder Island and the nearest trans-shipping point, was called the Wonder, a thing which the boys had not noticed until they were nearing the vessel.
It was a saucy little steamer, and as they drew near Blakely said: "What speed do you think she will make?"
"Fifteen miles at least," remarked Harry.
"I am guaranteed eighteen miles an hour at the least."
"Isn't that fine," said George. "What does she burn?"
"Either wood, coal or petroleum."
"Now would be the time to look up the oil deposits on the island," remarked Harry.
Within an hour the ship was under way, greatly to the delight of the boys.
Notwithstanding the ship was sent forward under full steam, the speed was far too slow for the impatient boys. They were on the bridge most of the time with the Captain who had been employed to run the vessel. He proved to be a jolly, red-faced tar, who loved the antics of the boys.
THE SKULL WITH THE CRYPTIC WRITING
It was at the latter part of May when the Wonder steamed up the broad river which led to the town of Unity. When they were within two miles of the town, where they could begin to see the beautiful white houses in the distance, Blakely came up to the bridge, and suggested that it would be time to give the town a salute.
The Captain gave the order and the great whistle began to make a horrible din, and kept it up for a full half mile. Long before the boat came into sight of the dock itself the boys could see the people of the town hurrying down to the wharf.
When they saw the boys on the bridge pandemonium was let loose.
"This looks and acts just like a real American town," said Harry.
"See the Professor," said Harry, as he rushed to the end of the bridge, and frantically waved his hat.
The plank was swung and fastened, and the crew of natives rushed off and met their friends, but George and Harry were not permitted to walk down the gang plank. The joy at seeing them again was so intense that the people took them on their shoulders, and the Professor had a hard time to get near enough to grasp them and bid a welcome.
The people marveled at the boys. They were dressed up in regulation American style, and the Professor asked them if they had brought the "latest" cuts to put in the show windows.
Everybody followed, and the bantering and cheering made a continuous performance for them until they reached their home. All the chiefs were there, dressed up for the occasion, and what delighted them more than anything else was the fact that the Krishnos, the former witch doctors of the tribes, and who were now the teachers for the children, were the first to offer congratulations on their return.
There was no work in the town that day. Everybody determined to celebrate, and it was with hearts full of joy that the boys witnessed the demonstrations in their behalf.
"Isn't this a glorious home-coming?" said George. "It was worth the trip here to witness it."
"It does seem strange to call it a 'home-coming,' but that is just what it is," answered Harry. "How happy the people are. They seem to appreciate everything that has been done for them, and it is such a pleasure to do things for those who appreciate it."
The stories which John brought to the Professor were so beguiling that he promised the boys that he would probably be able during the next year to make a visit with them to their homes, and this delighted them beyond measure.
Although they had been absent four months, they noted many improvements made during their absence. The boys, on their own initiative, visited many of the homes, and talked to the people, and told them of the visit home. And how those simple people enjoyed this kindly act, and cherished it for months afterwards.
But it was now time to think seriously of the contemplated voyage of discovery, which was ever uppermost in the minds of the boys. While conversing on the subject a few evenings after their return, Harry remarked: "I suppose we must use the Pioneer for our trip, as the Wonder will have to make the regular trips?"
"John and I think that would be the wisest plan. The native sailors are now well adapted to handle her, and do you know that Sutoto sailed her around the island?"
This was pleasing to the boys, who liked Sutoto.
"And who are the others that went with him?"
"Why Lolo was one of them, and Stut and Chump. Oh, they had a jolly time; so they said, and I can believe it, because they are simply crazy to make another trip." And the Professor beamed as he related many of the incidents which they told him of their experiences.
While they were talking, Sutoto appeared, and was immediately admitted. After some talk, Sutoto said: "The Professor said that when you returned you would have some work for me with the Pioneer."
"Yes, and you shall command her," said Harry.
Sutoto could not but show his pleasure. "I knew you would come back, but so many here said you would not."
At this point Professor explained that there were many rumors among the people to the effect that the boys would never again come back, and all showed grief at the news. I assured them that you were just as anxious to return as they were to have you and I then told Sutoto that I knew you had plans which would require his services, but I thought it would be more agreeable if you imparted the nature of it to him.
The boys were not slow to outline the plans to him, but advised him to keep the information to himself, which he promised to do. It was enough for him to know that he would command the ship. It was this that induced Sutoto to take out the ship, and finally to circumnavigate the island, so as to try out the sailors and properly to fit them for the work when the boys returned.
"Now that being settled, Sutoto, we are going to leave the work of provisioning the Pioneer to you. We must take a supply of guns and ammunition, as well, and probably it would be wise to have a small troop of the best soldiers," was Harry's instruction.
"Uraso wants to go. I am sure he would be the best one to take.
"What will Muro say to that?" asked the Professor.
"Oh, take him along, by all means," said George, "because I want Lolo to go with us."
It was then settled that they were to take a small force, sufficient for immediate purposes, and if it was found that the islands discovered were too well settled with hostiles it would be an easy matter to remain aloof, or return for reinforcements.
While arrangements were being made for the departure of the expedition Blakely informed the Professor that it would be good policy to make up part of the cargo of the Wonder with copper, and that both vessels could proceed to the southeastern part of the island, and the men aboard could be used to transport the copper to the sea.
In this way the expedition would serve a double purpose. No one attempted to go contrary to the wishes of Blakely on matters which touched upon the commercial ventures in which they were engaged.
John was only too glad that Blakely had hit upon that idea, as he was anxious to visit that part of the coast, contiguous to the copper deposit, and what was more, he wanted to see the place where Blakely found the missive which the boys had translated.
As there was still a week before the Wonder would sail for its northern port of call, both of the ships wended their way to the east, skirting the coast as closely as possible, John on the Pioneer with the boys.
They now had an opportunity to see the Great South Mountains from the sea. They remembered when they last saw them on land, during the campaign against the Illyas, and also the wonderful village on the western side of the mountains. What would their present wanderings bring forth?
That evening they landed within a cove, both vessels being brought as near the shore as possible.
"We can safely go in close this evening, because the tide is now out," said John.
Sutoto, while he had navigated the vessel, and had shown remarkable skill, was, nevertheless, not well versed in tides and the action of the moon.
Quick to learn, he asked John why the tides thus changed. John explained the reason that the tides flowed in and out twice during each twenty-four hours, or a little less than that time, so that high water, or low water would always be at a time a little later each day, and then stated that it would be an easy matter to so make the calculations that they would be able to tell ahead for a whole year just when during each day the highest or lowest water would be.
While waiting on the ship during the hours of the evening they were interested in the magnificent fire flies which they saw on the shore and along the mountain side. This was not an unfamiliar sight to them as they had witnessed such scenes many times before.
But now they saw such sights as they had never before observed. They must have been giant glow birds, because some of the lights flew at least hundreds of feet emitting continuous streams of light, and this was not all, many of the lights were colored, particularly red and blue or simply faint tinges of those tints.
"I have often thought that there is nothing more wonderful than the fire fly," said George.
"But what do you think makes it so wonderful?" asked John.
"Well, I suppose the wonderful part is that it has strength enough to make a light," answered Harry.
"No, the remarkable thing is that the light which it emits is absolutely cool. Experiments which have been made go to show that there is no heat. In every form of light which man has been able to produce thus far artificially, a great heat is evolved, and it would be a most valuable discovery to find out why these insects are able to do it without raising the temperature."
"But what difference does it make if heat is produced?" asked Harry.
"The production of heat means the loss of power. The heat generated takes up more of the power than the light which is produced, so that it would be a great economy if the heat could be dispensed with."
"But if there was no heat in the light produced would it make any difference in the lamps themselves?"
"Unquestionably. The lamps would last much longer."
"What are the things which must be learned in order to get the secret of cold light?"
"Well, there are number of questions which must be determined. While it is known that the fire fly and the glow worm emit what is called a phosphorescent light, this fact is a mere prelude to the knowledge of what is the exact color of daylight."
"Color of Daylight? Why, I supposed it was white."
"But the light of the glow worm and fire fly are not white."
They watched them, and soon appreciated that John's statement was true.
"You asked what were some of the things to be solved? Well, to find out the secret of the phosphorescent glow. That is one thing. What is the best artificial light, is the next. Then, what substance will have the most intense glow when a current passes through it, and give out the least heat."
"Well, has no one attempted to explain any of these things?"
"Yes; many explanations have been offered, but all of them leave the subject dark somewhere." And John laughed as he saw that the boys appreciated his little attempt at witticism.
"But the time will come when man will find out this, as everything in his way. When you think of it, that electricians, chemists, metallurgists, physiologists, engineers, physicists and microscopists, are all working on the problem, we should be able to extract the secret sooner or later."
"I am going to have some of those fellows," shouted George, and when the natives on board heard the request of George there was a scramble for the boats, and John was delighted to give them instructions for capturing the insects.
Early the next day the entire party landed, and Blakely, together with John and the boys, started for the high peak, the one visible for miles from the west, and which John and the boys often wished to visit.
One of the things which the boys brought with them from the States, was a pair of strong glasses, and these were constantly in use.
"What do you say to scaling that point?" said Harry.
"Just what I have been thinking about," said George.
Sutoto, who was with the party, showed by his glowing eyes that he wanted to be of the party. "Certainly you shall go," said Harry.
"Before going we must visit the place where the Walter note was found," called out John.
The boys had forgotten this. "Most assuredly," answered George, "I had almost forgotten that."
Blakely led the way up alongside the rugged cliff. "See that bluish green outcropping," he said as they were pulling themselves up.
John stopped and chipped off some specimens. "Wonderful!" he exclaimed. "Better than anything I have ever found in Mexico. These hills remind me of the formation all along western Chihuahua, and through northeastern Sonora."
The ledge on which they finally emerged was fully six hundred feet above sea level. When they turned around and viewed the sea below them, and saw the ships at anchor, they were delirious with joy. How Sutoto enjoyed the scene. He had never seen anything like it before and he was amazed and stupefied. He turned and grasped George by the hand. He was too full to speak.
"But wait, Sutoto, until we get to the top," said Harry, as he saw his countenance. As they looked up at the top they wondered what they might see from the elevation.
"Here is the spot," cried out Blakely. "This is the pot in which the message was found. And here is something that I dug up afterwards."
The boys crowded around. It was a skull on which was engraved the characters ABCC, followed by a star.
All looked at John, thinking he might offer some solution. He turned it over, and examined every portion. Not a word was spoken. "Tell me the exact position in which this was found," he asked, as he looked at Blakely.
"The first thing I found was the pot, which was simply turned upside down, in exactly this way. This is the place. It rested on this flat stone. The skull was behind it on this upper shelf."
"And was there nothing else on the shelf?"
John stooped down and carefully examined the shelf. All followed his motions. "Do you see that mark?" he said, pointing to a heavy scratch, which was now plain. "That mark is associated with the skull, if not with the message. I am unable at this time fully to decipher the marks on the skull, but I have an idea of the meaning."
"I wonder if the scratch across that is in the same direction as the arrow in the letter?" asked George.
"Unquestionably: let me see your glasses," and George unslung them as John took them and gazed long in the direction of the line on the shelf.
He lowered the glasses and slowly shook his head. Something was forming itself in his mind, this was evident. He walked around the ledge and back again. Finally, he said: "I wish it were night, it might help to solve the riddle."
"And why?" asked Harry.
"Those letters have reference to the star which follows."
"It seems to me to be a singular thing that anyone should leave this here in the hope or expectation that it could be a guide for any one," remarked George.
"There is certainly one explanation of that," answered John. "It is evident that the articles were placed there as a form of note to others, and it is a sort of cryptic sign, intelligible only to those who have the key. The fact that these signs are here denote several things, one of which is that something important, such, for instance, as treasures, or the location of hidden wealth, or the directions necessary to find mining lodes, or even to point out the direction and distances of other islands in the distance."
"But," said Harry, "the fact that we have found these things here looks as though there were other parties besides Walter and that he was associated with them in some sort of enterprise."
"Quite true; but I am not at all satisfied that the Walter note has anything to do with the skull. In fact there is every evidence to me that they are entirely disconnected with each other."
This announcement was the most surprising to Blakely, who now added a few points of information. "I should have said that the skull was not exposed as you now see it on the shelf. After I went up the side of the hill, I returned and landed on the ledge, and then I noticed the skull through the apertures formed by the stones now lying at the side."
"That is evidence to my mind, that Walter knew nothing of the existence of the skull at the time he left the message, and yet, singular as it may seem, both the skull and Walter's message point to the same thing."
This announcement was certainly curious and interesting, and keyed up the listeners to a high pitch of expectation.
THE TRIP TO THE NEW ISLAND
Exciting as were the events alluded to in the last chapter, the boys insisted on taking Sutoto to the top of the peak. John and Blakely gathered up the fragments, and when the boys left they were busily engaged in making careful measurements of the stone and ledges.
It was not an easy task to gain the summit, but when they reached it, there was spread before them the most remarkable panorama. To the north they could see South River, the first stream they discovered when they came to the island.
They looked on it almost lovingly. "If it were not for the mountain range to the north we could see clear to Cataract," said Harry.
"The dear old place!" exclaimed George. Sutoto smiled. He had been there, and he shared the views of the boys.
"Let me have the glasses," shouted Harry, as he adjusted them and turned to the west. "Unity," was the only thing he said, as he handed the glasses to Sutoto. The latter looked, and stepped back in surprise. George kept his eyes on Sutoto, as the latter bent forward in his eagerness to see the town which was now so plain to him, although more than fifty miles away.
George leisurely took the glasses, as Sutoto said slowly, and with proper emphasis, "Wonderful! wonderful!"
He turned the glasses to the southeast, hoping to catch a glimpse of the land of treasures, but they saw nothing but the wide open sea, calm and peaceful, and he wondered that it could ever be so angry and tempestuous as they had known it to be on two momentous occasions.
They remained there for a long time, and viewed every portion of the island. When they descended they took a route leading to the west, and when nearly at the bottom, heard the unmistakable sounds of voices below them. For a moment the boys were alarmed, but Sutoto set up a shout, his quick ears having detected the voices of their friends. It was the first caravan load of copper which they were taking from the great cave near the Illyas' village.
"Glory! we are near the Illyas' village," said Harry, as he stumbled down the mountain side, and saw the train of men with the loads.
They would now do some more visiting. They must surely go over to the village where they captured the last of the hostile tribes. As they neared the village they were surprised to see Oma coming toward them. He greeted them like a monarch, and led them into the village.
"I am glad to welcome you," he said. The boys were astounded at the words. This man, the most vindictive and bitter of all the tribesmen, had learned to speak, and showed by his actions that he was glad to welcome them.
But when they came to the village, the surprise of the boys was so great that they could hardly speak. Instead of filth and uncleanliness everywhere, they saw carefully attended lawns, and houses, instead of huts. The people came out and greeted them with laughter.
And then the boys recognized many of the men who had lived in Unity, and who had worked for them in the shops, and in the fields. The Chief then escorted them to the large building, the same one in which the Chief was captured by the boys, the year before.
What a change! Formerly the furniture in the room was one jumbled mass of debris, and the household arrangements were only such as savage conditions warranted. Now, the large interior had been cut up into rooms, and they were furnished with comfortable belongings.
The Chief saw the curiosity of the boys, and he read their thoughts. "You wonder at the difference? Yes; it is a difference. We owe it to that wonderful Chief, and to you, and to John."
"Yes; John will be here soon," said George.
"I have seen him. He will be here. We are preparing a great feast for him," and the boys opened their eyes and smiled as they heard this announcement.
The people flocked about them, and the men who knew the boys were only too proud to be recognized by them. Thus they visited every nook and corner of the town, surprised and glad to see that the Chief had insisted on his people going to Unity and learning the ways of the white people.
There was a further reason why the coming of John and of Blake was a joyous event. Oma had been informed that the great copper mines were to be opened in the mountains, which would insure work for every one, and that they would be able to buy every sort of luxury and enjoy all the comforts of the white people.
Late that evening John and Blakely came accompanied by two hundred of the Illyas who had actually been engaged during the day in transporting copper from the cave to the hold of the Wonder.
The feast and the celebration that night in a village which, only a few months before, was of the most savage character, was, indeed, a marvel. Oma could scarcely express himself with enough earnestness, and the women were following the boys with their eyes, and actually caressing them, in their eagerness to show appreciation.
When the time came for them to leave, the Chief accompanied the men to the shore below South Mountain to witness their departure. Before they left the village, the things which had been brought there by the ships for the Illyas were placed in the Chief's storehouse, and Blakely paid the members of the party who had assisted them. This, also, was the occasion for much rejoicing.
Blakely, on board the Wonder, waved an adieu to the boys and John as the boats separated, and Sutoto gave the order to sail directly southeast.
During the afternoon the sea was calm and afforded a beautiful sail, but during the night a strong breeze came up and its intensity varied during the night. The next day, however, the sea became choppy, and over two-thirds of the natives were rolling around on the deck in the agonies of sea-sickness.
"This will give us an opportunity to try the new cure for the malady," said John.
"What is that?" asked George.
"How is it administered?"
"By injecting it."
"What is atrophine?" asked Harry.
"It is a crystalline, bitter and poisonous alkaloid, taken from the deadly nightshade, and the same principle is also found in the thorn apple."
"Isn't it the same as belladonna?" remarked George.
"No; but belladonna is also an extract of nightshade."
"Have you any of it here?"
"Yes; I brought some, together with the other drugs that the Professor ordered, and I am anxious to try it. The remedy was discovered by Prof. Fischer, of Munich, and also simultaneously by Dr. Reginald Pollard, of South Kensington, England."
Accompanied by the boys John went among the sufferers, and administered the medicine, giving at each injection about 1-64th of a grain. It was remarkable in its effects. Within a half hour the sickening feeling in the stomach disappeared, the eyes began to grow bright again, the pulse full, and the patient became strong and vigorous.
None of them objected to John's ministrations. Their confidence in his ability was sufficient for them and the results justified their faith.
When the boys came on deck in the morning, they strained their eyes looking toward the horizon for land but there was no land in sight. John was already on deck and he smiled as he saw them ascend the ladder. "And where is your island?" he asked.
"How far have we gone?"
"We have been driven somewhat out of our course, it is true; but we are more than a hundred miles from Wonder Island, and have sailed past the place where the other island ought to be, according to Walter's letter." And John chuckled somewhat, at the crestfallen looks of the boys.
"Where are we going now?"
"I told Sutoto we would better tack to the southwest. We can use up a day at that course, and then double back, probably thirty or forty miles to the south, and in that way we can cover a wide area."
While sailing in that direction they had to go pretty much into the face of the wind, but it was considered wise to explore that region to the south of the islands first, and then take another section to the east or to the west.
Night came on without any indications of land, and the course was altered directly to the east. The boys remained up until nearly twelve that night, but no light or evidence of land came in sight. Tired with the exertions of the day, they retired, and were soon asleep.
How long they slept was immaterial to them. Sutoto came into their cabin, and awakened them, saying, "We can see some lights in the east." They heard the voice, and its earnest expression, and without waiting to dress scrambled out. Far off to the southeast was a faint glimmer, then it died away.
After a moment or two it appeared again, somewhat brighter than before. The night was intensely dark, and the wind was blowing a steady gale, so that the boat not only rocked but it moved forward into the lines of waves across their path.
John was above, and they hurriedly rushed to see him. He was smiling, as they approached, and he greeted them by saying "We have reached your island, probably."
"How long have you seen the light?" asked George.
"A half hour, or more," he answered.
The boys were not in the mood now to return to bed, so they went back to dress, and then returned, meanwhile watching the light with eager eyes. The course of the ship was directed toward it, and every one on board had now heard the news.
Soon the watch on the port side sang out: "Land ahead," and every one sprang to the left side. There, plainly in the darkness, was a headland, or a spur, which they were passing at almost right angles. The most intense excitement prevailed.
Still the light was directly ahead, and, apparently, a long distance from them. John told Sutoto to haul in the sails, and to take a course directly to the south. He explained that it would be wise to stand off the shore as long as possible, as the ship's clock showed that it was now past four o'clock so that within the next hour they might be able to view the land clearly enough to determine their future course.
Impatiently they awaited that period of gloom which is said to be the darkest time,—just before the dawn. This seemed to be so to the watchers, but shortly after five the curtain lifted. A slight haze was over the land, but they had found an island, at least.
"Do you know our position?" asked Harry, as John approached. "Yes; I have just figured it out. We are fifty leagues (one hundred and fifty miles) southeast of Wonder Island."
The boys looked at each other. Evidently Walter was wrong, or they had read his letter incorrectly. But they saw land, and John assured them that there was no land between that place and their own island.
Anxiously they awaited daylight, and when it came they gazed out on a barren waste,—a rocky and uninviting shore.