THE WONDER ISLAND BOYS
BY ROGER T. FINLAY
Thrilling adventures by sea and land of two boys and an aged Professor who are cast away on an island with absolutely nothing but their clothing. By gradual and natural stages they succeed in constructing all forms of devices used in the mechanical arts and learn the scientific theories involved in every walk of life. These subjects are all treated in an incidental and natural way in the progress of events, from the most fundamental standpoint without technicalities, and include every department of knowledge. Numerous illustrations accompany the text.
Two thousand things every boy ought to know. Every page a romance. Every line a fact.
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Six titles—60 cents per volume
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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
PUBLISHED BY THE NEW YORK BOOK COMPANY 147 Fourth Avenue New York
THE WONDER ISLAND BOYS
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THE WONDER ISLAND BOYS
BY ROGER T. FINLAY
THE NEW YORK BOOK COMPANY NEW YORK
COPYRIGHT, 1914, BY
THE NEW YORK BOOK COMPANY
I. THE FIRST OF THE TRIBESMEN
The first view of the savages. Excitement in their camp. The story of the boys. What they had accomplished. Their home at the Cataract. The fifth expedition. In the savages' country. Some of the mysterious events. "Angel" one of the party. The dense forest. The fight between the two tribes. Going closer to the battle ground. The wagon as a means of defense. Taking position on the shore of a stream. The defeated party retreating toward the wagon. Close view of the natives. The defeated tribe taking up position behind the wagon. The victorious party attacking the wagon. Repelling the charge. The fight witnessed by the defeated tribe.
II. TWO SAVAGE ATTACKS
Their two foes. Preparing for the night. Poisoned arrows. Clearing away the brush. Angel restless during the night. John's adventure as a scout. The shot in the darkness. The result. John's second scouting expedition. Return of the warriors. The arrow and the cap. The reappearance. The volley. The slain warriors. The trophies. The different headdresses. How tribes are distinguished. Determine to go forward. Trinkets of civilized people found on the battlefield. Camp the second night. Angel discerns the approach of a band. The Professor tries to establish communications. Failure. A position of defense. The attack and repulse. The second volley. Charging the savages. Capture of a wounded chief and a warrior. Treating the wounds. The chief advising his men not to attack.
III. A THIRD ATTACKING TRIBE
Difficulty in communicating with the chief. Examining the chief's pockets. Finding a photograph of George and Harry. Hunting the pockets of the slain warriors. The match box. John's startled look. The monogram. Human hair. Its part in ornamentation. Scalps. Customs connected with human hair. Going forward. Surrounded by the warriors. The running fight. The yaks beyond control. The flight. The savages trying to outflank them. Warriors on all sides. The river in sight. A tributary to the West River. Getting the yaks under control. The wounded animals. Heading for a peninsula. The mute captive. The siege. Instilling fear. Learning the chief did not belong to the attacking party. Consternation on discovering that the attacking party did not belong to either of the parties who first attacked them.
IV. THE ESCAPE. ENCOUNTERING ANOTHER HOSTILE TRIBE
War among the natives. John's ability with the gun. Cooped up in the peninsula. Recollection in animals. A dual self. Memory. No attack during the night. The savage attempt to starve them out. Planning to escape. Determine to build a raft. John and Harry's night adventure after material. Crossing the tributary to the north. Bringing in logs. The structure to imitate the wagon. Driving the team into the river. Floating the logs under the wagon. Crossing the stream. A safe passage. A good retreat. How the ruse affected the natives. The amused captive chief. Starting northward. The disapproval of the chief. Viewing a fight between tribes. Short of ammunition. An unexpected native village. The startled warriors. Attacked by the natives.
V. THE RESCUE OF THE CAPTIVE BOYS
The fight. Defeat of the savages. Charging them through the village. The large hut. A cry from within. American boys captive. Their own companions. Weak and hungry. Taken to the wagon. Their terrible condition. The return of the savages. Feeding the famished boys. The second attack. The flanking parties. The first volley. Retreating toward the river. Followed by the warriors. Outwitting the enemy. Flight of the wagon to the hill. A peculiar rock formation. Discovery of a cave. Peculiar actions of John and the Professor. Their advice to go on. A hurried trip to the river. Arranging the weapon for defense. Fearing a night attack.
VI. THE TALE OF THE RESCUED BOYS
Ralph and Tom. Cast ashore in the north of the island. Meeting a band of savages with a captive. Poison berries. Sickness. Hunting food. Captured by a tribe of natives. Peculiarities of the native headdresses. Taken to the mountains. Escaped. Recaptured by another tribe. Sacrificing prisoners. The round silver match box. Savage charms. Kindly treated by the second tribe. The second escape. Hunting food. Starving. Trying to go back to the tribe. The mistake in going to the wrong tribe. How boldness saved them. The watch in possession of the chief. The initials J. L. V. Treated like brothers. Captured by another tribe in a fight. Their last captors.
VII. THE ESCAPE IN THE NIGHT
John's search in the night. Return. Indicating by signs that no savages were in sight. Continuing their flight in the night. The course along the bed of the stream. John in the advance pushes through the underbrush. By motions indicates the possibilities of crossing the river. Finding driftwood. The raft. The launching of the wagon. Camping on the opposite side. Watching the savages. Deep streams. Shallow water courses. Savage strategy. Hunting for food. Coffee and corned beef. Woodchuck and pheasants. Discussing the wounded chief. Conclude to take him to Cataract. Taking up the march for home. Finding the direction of the south pole. The Dog Star Sirius.
VIII. THE CATARACT AND ITS MARVELS
The tramp through the forest. Wonderful effect on the rescued boys. New fruit and vegetables. The rubber tree. Carricature plant. Sighting Observation Hill. The Old Flag. The change in John. Angel happy. The visit of the boys to the shop. The rambles about the place. A wonderful stimulus. Angel turning the grindstone. Appreciation. The Professor's encomium. Rearranging their quarters. Putting up new buildings. The barley thief. Making bread. The chief at Cataract. Crutches. The novelty to him. Learning to walk. His amazement at the workshop. Trying to talk. Threshing barley. The grist mill. The home-made violin. Dancing. A religious ceremony. Different national customs in dancing.
IX. THE WORK AT THE CATARACT. MAKING WEAPONS.
Dividing the work. Hunting vegetables. Securing game. Cultivating the garden. Making clothing. Footwear. John making lasts. Ramie fiber. Preparing more weapons. Angel's new suit. New ores and minerals. Cinnabar. Quicksilver. Poisons from mercury. The boys' trip to Observation Hill. Angel's gun. The talk of the boys. Desire to survey the island. Telling the rescued boys their story. Savage traits concerning property. Locks. Doing work on holidays. Recreation. The instruments for surveying. The boathouse. Chief and the spear. His dexterity. How the chief held the spear. The chief and the bolo.
X. UNAWARES IN THE ENEMY'S COUNTRY.
Observing the heavens. Degrees and what they mean. Angles. Calculating position by the stars. The moon as a factor by night. The fixed stars in the moon's path. Determine to recover the wrecked boat. The boys inaugurate the trip. A jolly lark. Through the forest. The alarm in the night. The attack of an animal. Missed. Sighting the West River. Miscalculation. Discovering their former tracks. In the savages' country. The chatter of Angel in the trees. The alarm. Savages. Eluding them. Escaping to the north. Discovered by the natives. The pursuit.
XI. THE RUSE TO ESCAPE THEIR PURSUERS
Preparing for defense. Appearance of the savages. The charge. Repelling the attack. Driving the team ahead. Harry and Tom as rear guards. Harry's injunction to force the team on rapidly. The warriors. Turning to the east. Eluding the enemy. The rush for the river. Crossing. The savages at the river. Reinforcement of the pursuing party. The ruse leaving the river. Hiding the wagon. Returning to the river. The two warriors swimming the river. Their surprise. Their effort to escape. Recognizing the savages as the captors of the boys. Consternation in the camp of the enemy. Determining to recross the river. The flight to the north. Recrossing. Return home.
XII. THE PROBLEM ABOUT THE CAVE
Their happy reception at the Cataract. Why their observations of the moon led them astray. Distinguishing fixed stars. How Angel fought the savages. Individuality. The chief an enigma. How he used the grindstone. His interest in machinery. The yardstick of the heavens to measure degrees. The Constellation Orion. The new calf. Milk and butter. The mysterious visit of the chief to the clay banks. Eating clay. Observations by Ralph and Tom. The clay eaters of the world. The cave and the treasure. The Professor refuses to take a share of it. Determination of the boys. Harry and George go to the cave. Go back for Ralph and Tom.
XIII. THE ACCIDENT TO JOHN AND THE RESTORATION OF MEMORY
An island of abundance. Nuts and vegetables. Oils for illumination. Unripe fruit. How nature protects her products. Eggs. How good and bad are determined. Gases formed within the shell. Building an addition to their home. Putting up the new building. The accident to John. A terrible wound in the head. Chief's solicitude for John. Watching the results of the injury. The human traits in the chief. Danger point of the fever. The wonderful difference in his eye. Recovers memory. A deep sleep. His first words. Aphasia. The brain center. His initials J. L. V. on the match safe. Recognizing the chief.
XIV. JOHN'S WONDERFUL STORY
Native of New England. Ran away to sea. Fortunately fell into hands of a humane captain. Became chief clerk. Learned navigation. The captain's interest in him. The return. The meeting with the captain's daughter. The wedding. Sailing east with his wife in the captain's vessel. A plague-infected port. Death of his wife. Leaving the accursed port. Death of the captain. Disposing of the ship. Travels through India. Enlists at Gibraltar. Serves in Matabela campaign. Goes to England. Is tutor to a Lord. Goes to Greece. Serves in two campaigns. Returns to New York. Enlists for campaign against Indians. Five years' service. Goes to Egypt to conduct explorations. Returns fever-ridden. Accepts Professorship. Signs as Professor in the schoolship Investigator. Sickness prevents his sailing. Wanders to San Francisco. Engages with friends to search South Sea Islands for treasures. Shipwrecked. Finding a cave. Captured by savages. Escapes. Meets with an accident. Loses all memory.
XV. CHIEF AND THE POISON PLANT
How John's story impressed them. How the boys entertained John with the stories of their adventures. The story of the yaks. John tells them how they could have controlled them with the different knots and hitches. The spectroscope. Light as a medium. The composition of the heavenly bodies. The solar spectrum. The boys remember John's story of the cave. His story confirming their knowledge about the savages. The concert with the flute and violin. Making glass for windows. Silver and mercury. Looking-glasses. Amalgam. Making small glass mirrors for the inhabitants. The chief's surprise at the mirrors. His contribution to the larder. The Amarylla. The poison plant. The boys' suspicions of the chief. Good for food. Stomach or blood poisons.
XVI. A SURPRISING TRIP TO THE CAVE
Completion of the house. Furnishing it. The chief recovers health. Showing John the message from the lifeboat. "Waters" one of his crew. The mystery of the photograph. Information that others of the ill-fated Investigator were on the island. Reasons why certain tribes sacrificed white captives. A new expedition planned. Determine to go overland. Making new guns. Ammunition. The boys invite Ralph and Tom to visit the cave. The surprise of the boys at the skeletons and the treasure. Exploring the cave. A terrific roar. Alarmed. Determine to investigate. Finding the Professor and John. The surprise party.
XVII. THE WONDERFUL PORTABLE FORT
The boys ask John about his wonderful cave. The charted treasure caves. Seeing the treasure in the cave on the hill where the boys were rescued. An occupied cave. The medicine men. The two entrances and the cross-shaped interior. How the hoards were acquired. Piracy on the high seas. The gold and silver of the world. The precious metals taken to Europe by the Spaniards. Rushing work on the preparations. The gun barrels. Chief showing the boys how to make and use the bows. The disappearance of chief. The invention of a portable fort. How it was made. Stocking the wagon. Experimenting with the fort. Necessity as the mother of invention. The improvements in the fort. A new suggestion. Using the fort as a raft.
XVIII. TRAILING A WARRING PARTY OF NATIVES
Weight and gravity. Acting in all directions. Proving the law of universal gravitation. Drilling with the raft equipment. Grinding barley flour. Making sleeping mattresses. The bustle of final preparations. The good-by to their herd of yaks. The march to the falls. John discovers a log in the drift and a rope. The dense forest. Crossing the river to the south. Finding a camp fire with fresh bones. Numerous traces of inhabitants. A glowing fire. Following the trail. Trying to catch them before night. Efforts to capture one as a means of opening communication. Sighting the camp. Hurried consultation. Surrounding the camp of the natives.
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
"He poised his spear as he raised himself out of the water" Frontispiece
"The main body of the savages broke for cover, but several, more venturesome than the rest, sought to carry away the chief"
"'Come out into the light,' and Harry and George each put his arms around one of the boys"
"He started back in fright as his own image appeared to him"
The First Boat The Match Safe Scene of the Fight on the River The Wagon Raft Savage's Hut Deep Stream Shallow Stream Salsify Rubber Carricature Plant Angel, His New Suit and Gun Poising the Spear Northern Hemisphere (Stellar Map) Southern Hemisphere (Stellar Map) Testing Eggs Rope Knots Rope Hitches The Color Spectrum Amarylla, Chief's Poison Vegetable The Portable Fort Gravitational Pull Using the Fort as a Raft
THE FIRST OF THE TRIBESMEN
"They seem to be terribly excited about something, and many of them are running back and forth," said Harry, from his perch on the wagon top.
George made his way back again in time to see a half dozen of the savages dart off into the bush to the left. They were from two to three miles distant when first discovered, so that it was difficult to make out their movements distinctly.
The Professor could not see them clearly, so that he also took a position on the top of the wagon. "Do you see any movement to the left of their camp?"
After gazing a while, Harry answered: "It seems that another party is coming up." In a moment more he continued: "Yes, and they appear to be waiting in ambush for them."
George Mayfield and Harry Crandall, together with an aged Professor, had been wrecked on an island, one year before the opening event in this chapter. They were attached to a ship training school that met with disaster in mid-Pacific, and when cast ashore had nothing whatever except the clothing they wore.
By extraordinary energy they began an investigation of the surroundings and discovered many things which not only excited their intense curiosity, but learned that the island was inhabited by one or more tribes of savages. In this helpless state, with no means of defense, and compelled to depend on nature for a supply of food and clothing, they were truly in a pitiful state.
The Professor was a man of profound learning, and knowing that such a condition must be met in a manner which would enable them to cope with the situation, gradually turned the attention of the boys to producing things of use, first making the articles most needed in their impoverished condition, and afterwards adding some wonderful things which enabled them to become bold enough to attempt the exploration of the island.
A brief review of the situation was this: The first consideration was food. A number of vegetables were found, some of them well known, but in a wild state, as well as nuts and fruit. Barley was one of the cereals early discovered, and from that bread was made. Then ramie, a well-known fiber, was found in the early days of their occupation, as well as flax, and a wild species of hemp.
They were surprised to find various ores, clay and slate, and with these began a series of experimental work which was wonderful in its character, as every part of the work had to be carried on with the most primitive sort of tools and appliances.
Among the first adventures in the field of making the useful necessities was the construction of a water wheel; the building of a sawmill, from which lumber was turned out to make their dwelling; a loom was put up which enabled them to weave clothing; and, finally, a wagon, which arose from the desire to utilize a herd of yaks, which they succeeded in capturing.
Before the present adventure a number of useful articles and tools had been made, among which might be mentioned a lathe, a foundry, in which they turned out articles in iron and brass, and this gave them an opportunity to make first a few pistols, and lastly, several guns, with which the present expedition was equipped.
All these things interested the boys, and they took delight in every part of it, and it gave them satisfaction to see the results of their work on every hand. But that which attracted them more intensely were the series of exploits which brought to light the hidden mysteries of the island, and which caused them to name it "Wonder Island."
Four exploring trips had been made by land, and one by sea in a boat which had been specially built for the purpose, and this vessel was wrecked shortly after they had discovered the location of the savages. In the previous expeditions they saw mysterious lights, and had evidences of human beings by the camp fires used by them.
The first crude boat turned out was left at the foot of a high falls in a river to the south of their home, and after the return the boys set out to get the boat. It was missing, and recovered several months afterwards, but to their surprise, when found, it had two oars and rope that were placed there by some one.
On returning from one of the trips their flagpole and staff, which was put up on a high point, called Observation Hill, was missing. Later on a gruesome skeleton was found on the seashore not far from Observation Hill, and the wrecked portions of a boat, and to this may be added the discovery of a lifeboat, similar to their own, among debris on South river, fully ten miles inland, which must have come from the interior.
In this boat was found, accidentally, a note written by a captive in distress, showing that some of the party had been taken by the inhabitants of the island, and this occurrence determined them the more to put themselves in condition to aid the captives.
The last important development grew out of the finding of a cave, or a series of caverns, not far from their home, which contained numerous skeletons and a vast amount of treasure, showing that it was a pirates' cave, but up to this time it had not been fully investigated in view of the more serious need of haste to relieve those who were in the hands of the savages.
Shortly before leaving on the present expedition, and after returning from the expedition by sea, which had wrecked the boat, they were surprised to find a man at their home, who had entirely lost his memory. This happened six weeks before the occurrence in the opening page, and during that time he had not uttered a single word, and seemed to be entirely unconscious of his surroundings.
He was evidently a cultured man, but how he came to the island, or in what manner his faculties were lost, they could get no clue. He had proven himself to be harmless, and in many ways he was of great service to them, and was now with the party, this being the fifth day of the journey, and the distance from their home was from sixty to seventy miles.
It should not be forgotten to mention Red Angel. Over eight months before a baby orang-outan had been captured. He had grown rapidly, and George, the elder of the two boys, had taken a special delight in teaching or training him, and the result was that the imitative quality of the animal made him useful to the party in many ways. Angel was with them also, and was the only amusing element in their days of stress and tension.
The condition before them at this time was one of intense interest. For the first time since their arrival, savages had been seen. From the first view it was apparent that the party sighted were on the point of meeting a hostile tribe, and while it was their intention to journey west to the large stream called by them West River, it was concluded to remain at the present camping place until they could more fully observe the attitude of the natives.
During two days previous the route had been through a dense forest, and they emerged from this only a few hours before, their object being to make their way to the river, as in the vicinity of the stream there was not much wood, and the land was covered with comparatively little underbrush. They felt that with the strongly built wagon, which had been purposely made with a large, thick body, it would be more serviceable to them as a means of defense than the woods, because the forest would serve as places of concealment for their enemies, while adding nothing to their security.
The strange man, who, in the absence of his true name, was called John, noting the different ones climbing to the wagon top, also made his way there, and gazed in the direction pointed out by Harry. He glanced toward the savages, and then looked wonderingly at the boys and the Professor. He did not appear at all disturbed, nor did he venture to indicate by any sign that he understood or comprehended any danger.
And Angel, too, took a hand in the sights. He was beside George, and the latter pointed out the savages, but if he knew what George meant his face and actions did not show it. How little we know of the workings of the human mind, and how should we know more of what passed in the mind of that animal as he listlessly viewed the scene which so much interested the others? We shall see, later on, how Angel profited by the lesson which they tried to teach him.
"They seem to be fighting; at any rate, I can see them going toward each other, and others running wildly about."
"Our better plan would be," said the Professor, "to go up nearer. In that way we may be able to take advantage of their quarrel."
This seemed to appeal to the boys, and they were down instantly. The yaks had been unyoked, prior to this, but they were now hitched up in a hurried manner, and the wagon moved forward.
A word now as to the equipment of the wagon. It had been made with unusually high sides, and was of thick boards, so that they did not fear the arrows which, undoubtedly, were the only form of missiles which would be hurled against them. Within were ten guns, each with a barrel twenty inches long, and a three-eighths of an inch bore. All were muzzle-loaders, as they had no facilities for making breech-loaders, so that it would be impossible to fire rapidly, after the first ten shots; but they counted on being able to hold out against a pretty strong force of savages, armed as they were.
The wagon went forward slowly, and was kept as much as possible within the sheltering range of the underbrush. All were in the vehicle, as its height gave them a better view, and in case of a surprise all would be guarded and safe.
It was somewhat of a relief to note that directly ahead of them was a small stream, one of the tributaries of the West, and before reaching the open area near the river, the Professor directed the wagon toward a clump of brush, behind which the yaks were tethered.
They were thus in a position where they had an ample water supply, and the Professor remarked, that in campaigning two things were essential, one was food and the other water, and of the two water was of most value for a short period, at least. The yaks needed it, and as that was their means of transportation, every consideration must be given them.
"As we are now campaigning in earnest, we must have some system, and a thorough understanding of what is to be done," said the Professor. "A thorough watch must be kept at all times day and night. We must not separate, but keep closely together, and in watching just as much care must be taken of our rear and our flanks. We do not know from which direction these people are likely to spring up. Remember, from our experiences night before last, this is territory over which they travel."
It should be stated that in the night referred to a band of the savages had passed their camp, going in the direction in which the wagon had taken, and they were of the impression that those discovered to the south of the stream were the ones who had come so near finding them.
"There is also another matter that should be considered. While we do not anticipate any disaster to our party, still we should at all times make provision for any separation, should such a thing take place. I estimate that we are now directly south of the mouth of West River, and that the sea to the north is from fifteen to twenty miles away. Now, let it be understood that in case we are defeated, or by any chance there should be any separation, the place of retreat will be toward the location of the wrecked boat, which is near the mouth of the river."
The great difficulty was to impart this to John. He was interested, in a peculiar sort of way, in the proceedings, and the Professor undertook to make the situation, as just explained, clear to him. For this purpose he made a chart to show the tributary stream on which they were encamped, flowing into the West River, and its course to the sea, and by pointing out the spot to the west of the river mouth, where the wrecked boat was landed, he hoped the course could be fully understood. This explanation seemed to be comprehended by him, but of this there could be no assurance.
Meanwhile they had not for a moment forgotten to keep in sight the warring factions, for now that they were much closer the character of the meeting could not be misunderstood.
"Look at them," cried George; "the other tribe seems to be victorious. They are coming this way." Such seemed to be the case. The retreating forces were coming directly toward the wagon, and the situation now began to take on a very grave aspect.
"What shall we do, Professor, if they come on to us?"
"We are here on a peaceful mission, and should fight only in self-defense," was his reply. This did not exactly suit the spirit of the boys, but they deferred to the wisdom of their friend.
It was plain that the tribe first seen was defeated and was being driven back to the river, and the Professor advised them to prepare for any emergency. The camp was not more than one hundred and fifty feet from the edge of the river, and they had a plain, open view before them.
Beyond the river was a bare shore, the shrubbery did not grow near the water, so that there was an open space of fully three hundred feet or more on the other shore, thus giving them ample time to note and act, whatever the circumstances might be. The Professor hoped that the pursued might deviate from their path and bring them to the river below their camp, but in this he was disappointed, as the first of the savages made his appearance from the brush directly across the river, soon followed by a dozen or more, all in precipitous retreat.
They now had the first close view of the savages. They were almost wholly naked, and had more the appearance of the North American Indians than of the South Sea Islanders, which their fancy had pictured them to be. Each carried a short spear and a bow, and the Professor called attention to the apparent lack of arrows, as the bows were strung on their backs, and they carried the spears as though they depended on them for protection.
"I think they have been beaten because they are out of ammunition. It will not take them long, however, to make up a supply, and it is possible that is what they purpose doing."
The victorious party now came in view. Without waiting the defeated party dashed through the stream not two hundred feet below the wagon, and before they had fairly landed, espied the wagon. The surprise at seeing it was almost paralyzing to them for the instant. They sheered off down the stream, gesticulating wildly.
The pursuers crossed the stream higher up, and, therefore, nearer the wagon. "Watch the party which has just crossed, so we can see what their course will be."
"They are circling around behind us."
As they did so the victors emerged from the stream and made direct toward the location of the Professor and his party. Here was a situation not counted on. The wise savages had calculated on this chance to arrest the pursuers, and they showed wisdom in the move.
"Now, boys, we must stop them, but do not shoot to kill at the first shot. Before anything is done I will try to stop them by peaceful methods."
The Professor, with a gun in his hand, suddenly stepped out from the brush, and held up a hand. It may well be imagined that an apparition was as startling to them as it had been to the others. They stopped for a moment, and then with a whoop, fitted arrows to their bows, and darted forward. The Professor stepped back, and calmly said: "Now, boys, shoot low, and don't get excited."
At the word, and before the savages had gone twenty feet, the boys and John leveled their pieces, and a volley rang out. Several were seen to fall, but were only wounded, as they were at once taken in charge by their companions. The moment the first round was fired, the Professor ordered the relay guns to be grasped. But the savages, stunned by this change of affairs, did not wait for the second shot, but rushed back to the stream as fast as they could go, with the three wounded men.
But where were the other savages? Had they seen the result of the fight? The Professor hoped that the result would be such as to win them over. They lurked at a distance beyond the wagon, and as the Professor advanced toward them and held up a hand, they continued to retreat. He beckoned to them; but in spite of all efforts they refused to come near.
TWO SAVAGE ATTACKS
To all intents and purposes they had two foes, one in front and the other in the rear. They possessed a fine position, however, due to the Professor's foresight. The river was close enough to get the needed water for themselves and their yaks, and the thick clump of bushes, on the river side of the wagon, afforded protection for the animals, while the wagon itself served as an admirable fort.
They could not believe that the band which had been driven across, and which was now at their rear, would attack them, and it seemed that the present danger of a night attack might be expected from the pursuing party. Indeed, the actions of that tribe, after the attack, led the Professor to believe that they must expect a fight during the night.
The wagon was now brought up close alongside the clump, and with their bolos a considerable space of the densest part of the brush was cut away, so as to form a retreat for the yaks, and thus assure them from harm by any attacks with arrows or spears. Before dark, Harry and John went to the river several times to bring water for the cattle and for their own uses, and with the extra boards which the Professor had wisely brought along, the principal portion of the space below the wagon body was closed up.
When all had been arranged for defense all felt satisfied they could withstand a hundred savages armed with spears and arrows. One thing had to be considered, and that was, whether or not those people poisoned their arrows, as many races in southern islands do.
As a further precautionary measure, all protecting bushes within two hundred feet of the wagon were cleared away, so as to afford an open view in all directions.
Darkness set in, and the eternal stillness all about was oppressive. Two watched while the other two slept. John appeared in his element. At the least sign of disturbance in any quarter, his hand was up, and to further attract attention his hand would be laid upon the arm of his fellow watcher.
Thus passed away the first half of the night, and then for the first time Angel began to grow restless. George, who was asleep at this time, was awakened, as he interpreted Angel's actions with greater facility than the others.
"I am sure from his actions that something is coming near us. See, he is motioning toward the forest side and not toward the river." It did seem as though his perturbations came whenever George pointed toward the woods.
To the watchers, there was no sound to alarm them, for fully a half hour, when John slowly moved his hand over to George, as he peered out to the north, and as he laid his hand on his arm, arose and silently moved out to the end of the wagon, and slipped to the ground. George tried to restrain him, and immediately woke the Professor, to whom he related the circumstance.
There was, indeed, a movement in their front, at the margin of the clearing. Forms appeared here and there, but the utmost quiet was observed. Suddenly the report of a gun rang out, and with a shriek, a form was seen to bound upwardly and fall, just as a shower of arrows fell against the wagon.
The shot came from John's gun, and he had fired from a position fully fifty feet away from the wagon, and this is what disconcerted them. They were expecting the defense to come from the wagon, and here was a shot, away from it, and it undoubtedly appeared to them that there must be a number of them defending it, to enable them to put watchers so far from the wagon.
"That was a shrewd action on the part of John, although it was a hazardous one, in case they had determined to rush us. But the die is cast, and we must now fight it out."
John came back to the wagon, and took up the other gun mechanically. The Professor patted him on the back, as he again stole out. This time he boldly marched toward the fringe of the clearing, and the Professor urged Harry to run after and detain him, but he did not heed.
He remained there a full hour before any sign was made by him, but at the end of that time he came back, and by signs indicated that the savages were back again.
"Which band do you think has attacked us?"
"It looks to me as though the fellows who were pursued are the ones; what is that John has brought back?"
He held something in his hand. It was an arrow and a cap, the latter of which had blood on it. This was determined when a light was struck in the little compartment below the wagon top.
"Do you think it is possible they could have gotten these arrows since we saw them to-day?"
"They undoubtedly manufacture them with great facility, and the lack of them this afternoon would be no indication that they would be without them to-night."
John's intimation was right. They were seen beyond question, and without waiting for the initial shot, as before, they bounded across the open space, and the command was given to fire. The result of the shots was plainly seen. The rush ceased, and before the Professor could give the command for the second shot they reached the brush, and the ammunition was saved.
When morning broke, three forms were recognized lying in the clearing, but there was no sign of the savages beyond. John, without waiting for the word, moved toward them, and taking their weapons and searching their scanty clothing, took something from each, and brought them to the wagon.
The trophies brought by John were two pocket knives of English or American manufacture, and other small trinkets, such as any traveler might carry.
"This is interesting," said the Professor, as he looked over the articles. "How is it possible they got these articles unless from white people?"
When Harry and John went to the river for water, the first thing that caught Harry's eye was an arrow, which he carried back with him to the wagon and handed to the Professor.
"I think," said he, "there is another body lying over at the edge of the clearing, the one that John shot at the first attack."
The boys went over, after keeping a careful lookout as they advanced. They secured his cap and the bow and arrow. When they returned the Professor looked up, and announced that he had no doubt they had been attacked by both of the parties.
"Why do you think so?" asked George.
"For several reasons: First, the headdress of the two bands differs, as you can see by comparing the one you have just brought in, as well as the peculiar differences shown in the arrows. This is one you found near the river this morning, and was no doubt dropped by one of them at the time they attacked us, and it is exactly similar to the one you have just brought in. You will also notice that the three that were shot in the last attack have the arrows and headdress different from the others."
It thus appeared that by force of circumstances they had been thrown into the paths of these two warring factions, and had become the enemy of both.
But now something must be done to carry out the determination to rescue their fellows. How to reach the savages was the problem. They had shown hostility from the first. It was evident they were far from the usual habitations of the tribes. They must have their villages farther to the south and probably west of the present location.
The only course was to go forward, in the hope that friendly relations might still be established, notwithstanding the unfortunate circumstances of the night.
During the entire day there was not a sign of either of the parties. The Professor gave his views by stating that if they went forward at once the chances of getting into favorable communication would be improved, and if they could capture one of them it would go far toward putting them on the right track.
They remained another night at the river, and early in the morning the stream was crossed and the course of the wagon directed to the south. In less than half an hour they came upon the scene of the fight between the two tribes which took place the day before.
Here it was made plain that the two tribes had different weapons and dissimilar articles of clothing, and numerous odds and ends were gathered in the hope that some clue might be discovered as to the white people who were, no doubt, on the island.
Nothing of value in this direction was picked up, although there was confirmative evidence that the savages had in their possession trinkets which were taken from captives, and which made the necessity of their journey still more opportune.
Directly to the front of them was a forest, and to the right an incline, rather free from wood, and the course was changed in order to gain the elevation. This was reached about four in the afternoon, and in another hour they were at the crest of the hill. This gave them an unobstructed view to the south and west, and there, in the distance, was made out what appeared to be huts, or evidences of human habitations.
The first care was to select a camping spot, which was as much in the open as possible, and the utmost care exercised to guard against surprises.
But what had become of the savages in the rear? It was impossible to obliterate the tracks of the wagon, so they might be easily followed.
"I believe the hostile attitude of the two warring parties is, after all, a factor in our favor, because if both try to follow us they are bound to again come into contact with each other, so we may be free from that worry."
"Isn't it likely that one or the other may send messengers to the village, if what we see beyond is any evidence, and thereby bring all of them against us?" Harry ventured to ask.
"That is a probability I have been considering, and our only course is to resist their attacks, and, as I have stated, endeavor to capture one of them, so we can establish communications."
Camp was made for the night, but there was no disturbance, and there was a visible relief in the minds of all as morning approached and no signs of an enemy in either quarter.
The yaks were hitched up shortly after breakfast, and the long, sloping descent began. Angel was ahead swinging from tree to tree, and before they had proceeded a mile began chattering from the tree top, in his peculiar way betokening alarm. George ran up, called him down, and started forward. Angel followed, chattering more vigorously, and when George turned in another direction he ceased, thus showing conclusively the direction of the alarm, and it was well they profited by it, for now within fifteen minutes the savages were plainly seen.
They came forward, fully fifty or more, working their way cautiously along, and, no doubt, fully aware of the location of the wagon and its occupants. The crucial time had come, and George rushed back to the wagon, but before he had fully reached it a scouting party well in advance of the main body came within hailing distance.
The Professor, as before, walked out from the wagon, and held up his hand as a token of peace, but to this they made no response, but continued their cautious forward movement, creeping from one vantage point to the next, and the wagon was then turned so that its rear end was toward the oncoming savages.
Harry was directed to drive the team toward a cluster of bush at the right, and they were urged forward with all haste. The yak is a fast-moving animal, and started forward on a run, soon gaining the shelter selected. It should be stated that when the team, which had been named Jack and Jill, was first broken in, the animals were taught to be driven by means of lines, and this was now of great service to them.
With their bolos they cut out a space at one side of the undergrowth, into which the yaks were driven and thus afforded protection, and the guns were taken out and arranged in order to enable them to be readily handled.
Before all preparations had been completed the main body came up, and all breathlessly awaited the attack. They halted several hundred feet away, and the Professor sought by means of signs to indicate his peaceful intent, but this did not have the least effect, as arrangement for an assault was manifested by the preparations which were now plainly perceptible.
The Professor retreated to the wagon, and his cautioning words were: "Do not fire excitedly or wildly, and be careful not to fire at too long range. Furthermore, shoot the leaders, or those who appear to take the lead. Another thing, fire and reload. Do not take the loaded guns which are in reserve, because we may need them later on, at a more critical time. These will be very serviceable if they attempt to rush us. In that event we shall have six guns and two pistols to meet them with."
Contrary to expectations no immediate attempt was made to attack, and the Professor again tried to attract them by signs. For a time no further hostile movement was made, and it began to look as though his efforts would win; but suddenly, with a concerted movement, the bows were swung upward, and arrows began to fall dangerously near.
As no movement was made on the part of the Professor and his party, the savages mistook its meaning, and a charge was made. "Now deliberately pick your man and fire." No sooner had the order been given before all fired, and four fell, two of them being, without doubt, the chiefs, as the howling was beyond all description.
A second volley was not necessary. The two wounded men were surrounded and carried off. The others lay where they fell, and after a short pause another rush was made, this time much nearer to the wagon. It was fortunate that the pause was long enough to enable them to reload. On they came, and when within seventy-five feet, the Professor gave the order for another volley. At this distance there was no excuse for a miss. The leader was a powerful specimen, with a distinctive badge, and the Professor announced that he intended to use him as a mark, and he was the first to fall, together with three more.
Thus, at two shots, one-fifth of their fighting force was disabled. "Now let us charge," said the Professor, and John divining the meaning was the first to leap from the wagon. The main body of the savages broke for cover, but several, more venturesome than the rest, sought to carry away the wounded chief. When one of them turned to discharge his arrow, John raised his gun to his shoulder, as each of them had taken one of the reserve guns, but before he could fire, the native turned and followed his companions, leaving the chief to his fate.
The rush with the newly loaded guns was accompanied by shouts on the part of the boys, who were instructed to do so by the Professor. "Don't go far beyond the chief," was his order; "we need him, and you must not venture into an ambush."
The boys did not dare to go far beyond the wounded man, and the Professor, with the aid of John, had now come up to him, and together forced him to accompany him back to the wagon. He was wounded in both legs, the shot having passed through the kneecap of one leg and through the tendon of the other, thus completely putting him out of action.
When the boys returned from the charge they assisted in conveying him to the wagon, and the Professor at once applied bandages to his limbs. This was getting an opportunity, at close range, to view one of their enemies.
The shot proved to be a glancing one, so that the bullet was still in the tendon of the right leg. When the Professor applied the bandages the savage was surprised at the proceeding. He evidently expected different treatment, and glanced at his captors in amazement. During the first few minutes of these interesting details, the boys had entirely forgotten the savages, and the Professor called out a warning not to rest too securely.
When the natives saw that the pursuit was not kept up they halted and slowly and cautiously, returned. It was evident that they were preparing for another fight. The wagon top was removed at one side, and the chief hoisted up and seated in plain view of his fellows, while the Professor directed the boys how to secure him in that position.
The entire band now appeared at the edge of the wood, not two hundred feet away, evidently with the view to another attack. All the guns had now been reloaded, and with the chief with them they had no fear of an attack with arrows.
The Professor placed himself before the chief, and by motions endeavored to inform the chief that if his men made any attack on them he would forfeit his life. The chief understood, and in a peculiar guttural tongue informed his men of the danger he was in.
Without further incident they disappeared, and now began the effort to instil and extract information. He was entirely naked except a distinctive headdress and a breech cloth, of very peculiar workmanship. The color of his skin was not black, like the negro, but rather copper-colored, like the Indian, thus confirming the impression which was first obtained the night before.
A THIRD ATTACKING TRIBE
There was no common ground on which to start the mute conversation, and the only replies volunteered by him were occasional grunts. Not a groan escaped his lips when the Professor sought to remove the bullet, but he sat there stoically, and bore it without a sign. The boys could not help but admire his heroic mien throughout the trying hour, and when the bullet was finally cut out and the wound carefully bound up, it looked as though he tried to thank the Professor for the service.
During the remainder of the afternoon the Professor persisted in the effort to gain some information, but not the slightest glimpse of intelligence was extracted.
Finally George said: "I wonder if he has anything in those pouches? We found some things in the others, you remember." This was a hint not to be overlooked. A search was made, and among numerous trinkets was a photograph of a dozen or more young men, and with a shout George recognized it as one which had been taken on shipboard several weeks before the explosion on board the Investigator, and which sent her to the bottom.
George and Harry were both in the picture, and were pointed out. Here was the very thing which was needed as a connecting link in their interview with the chief. With the picture before him the chief was requested to look at George and then at the picture, and so in the case of Harry. The chief saw, and recognized the similarity, and his eyes opened in astonishment. This was a most remarkable discovery.
When the Professor pointed to the others in the picture, and then to the chief, the latter seemed for the first time to comprehend, but he slowly shook his head and grunted, or made use of his own language to indicate that he had no knowledge of them. The boys were fairly wild with delight.
"Why not hunt the pockets of the other fellows?" shouted out Harry, as he scrambled over the tailboard. About a hundred and fifty feet beyond were the two who had fallen at the first fire, and they were searched, but nothing in any way connecting them with their companions was revealed, and later they went over the contents of the chief's pockets with greater care.
An American coin, a matchbox, and several other articles, which were apparently the relics of stickpins, were all that had any appreciable value. There was nothing on any of the articles which had a name or even the initials to give them a clue. As they were returning to the wagon Harry picked up a small silver match safe, and on this were the initials "J L V." "Who is J L V? Did you know of anyone by that name?"
"I don't remember anyone by that name. The name is not an unusual one to begin with a V."
The Professor did not recall anyone by that name. The box was handed around, and when John saw it, he started as though he had been struck. He reached for it and almost grasped it from the Professor's hand, and turned it over and over, and glanced at the initials, and then looked at the Professor, and then at the boys, and his eyes ceased their wanderings as he gazed at the chief.
Could it be possible that his name was John L. V.? Was that his match safe? What a wonderful possibility lay in these two happenings which came so close together!
The chief, too, looked at the match safe, and when the Professor pointed to John and then directed the captive's attention to the match safe, he did it with the view of ascertaining whether or not he had ever seen John. But to all these questionings the savage shook his head and grunted a plain negative.
A careful watch had been kept during the entire day, in the hope that the savages would reappear, and that the treatment of the chief would be such as to predispose him in their favor, and thus open the way to obtain such information as would be of service in aiding their companions.
As night approached preparations were made to guard against any night attack, and the prisoner was securely bound to prevent him from obtaining any of the weapons. One singular thing about all of the headgear and other articles of wear was the profusion of human hair, which was worked into many of the garments or formed a prominent decorative feature.
George was the first to notice this peculiarity. "Why is it that most savage tribes take human hair or scalp their victims?"
"The North American Indian was noted for the custom of taking the scalp of his enemies. It probably grew out of the desire to use the locks for the purpose of decorations, just as you see in the case before you. In olden times it was the custom of the vanquished to indicate submission by plucking out a handful of hair and offering it to the victim as a token of submission, but whether this grew out of the custom of scalping, or whether the latter was an outgrowth of the hair token, is not known."
"What interests me is, why they should take a portion of the skin if they wanted the hair simply for decoration?"
"Principally because that was the easiest way to keep the lock intact. Spencer, in his 'Evolution of Ceremonial Forms of Government,' relates some curious things growing out of this custom of taking tribute of hair. Thus, the habit of stroking the mustache, a custom prevalent among Spanish courtiers, arose from this habit. The stroking was done in the presence of ladies and superiors to indicate submission, or as an evidence of inferiority."
"Why is it that these savages pay more attention to their headgear than any other part of their clothing?"
"The savage regards the head as the most important part of the body. It is also the portion which is first seen by an enemy or recognized by a friend, hence he considers it a necessity to properly attire it for the purpose of inculcating fear in one, or admiration in the other. Vanity in the lower order of people leads them to excesses in the matter of dress or ornamentation, just the same as with many civilized people."
Long before morning dawned Angel grew restless, and could not be quieted by George. The latter believed that the savages had returned, if the actions of Angel were any indications; but as the sun came up and a careful scrutiny was made, nothing alarming was in sight.
An early breakfast was prepared, and the yaks yoked up, preliminary to a start for the south. With a chief in their hands they felt safer in their position than before, and were now in a condition to treat with the natives.
Hardly had the wagon started before Harry ran up in haste and excitedly whispered: "I see them coming; look to the south." Not far beyond was a mass of them coming up hurriedly, less than a half mile away, and a stealthy movement among the shrubbery in the immediate vicinity showed the presence of the advance scouts which Angel had undoubtedly scented an hour before.
The yaks were headed to the north, to give them ample opportunity to employ their weapons, and the chief was placed at the tailboard of the wagon, in full view of the pursuers, in the hope that his people would heed the warning given the day before. This seemed to have no effect in the warlike attitude of the attacking party.
"What I fear most is the possible attempt to surround us; to prevent that it is better to drive the team forward at a pretty rapid rate."
The yaks were urged along, and their motion considerably accelerated by the shrieks and howls of the demons, as they brandished their arrows and spears. Thus far not an arrow had been loosened, and the fire of the party in the wagon was reserved.
As the wagon surged forward the din increased, and soon a shower of arrows fell among them, none taking effect, because accurate aim was not possible while they were in motion. And now a concerted movement was apparent to surround the wagon. Over one hundred warriors were counted, and among them certain chiefs, recognized by their distinctive headdress.
"Go for the river, Harry," was the Professor's injunction.
The yaks were now beyond all control. Several of the arrows found their marks in the poor animals, and they were now vying with the foremost savages in making speed. Eventually the flanks of the attacking party outran the team, and the Professor made his way to the front, leaving George and John to take care of the rear.
When one of the prominent chiefs, who was leading the flanking party, presented a fair target, the Professor shot, and had the satisfaction of seeing him fall, and this temporarily checked the pursuit on that side. Grasping Harry's gun, he fired into the party on the opposite side, with good effect. The opening shot by the Professor was a signal for George and John.
And now began one of the most exciting running duels between the contending forces. The Professor knew that if the river could be reached they would have only one side to defend, but they were fully three miles or more from the crossing point of the stream, and to make matters worse, the team was beyond control, and was traveling to the northwest, whereas the direct course to the river was to the north or northeast.
There was no help for it. They must keep cool, and reserve their fire. After each shot the weapon of each would be reloaded, so that they always had a reserve force of guns. The arrows came spasmodically, and only a few of them from the trailing members of the band came near. The danger was from those who were attempting to encircle the wagon.
John was requested by sign to go to the forward end, and he promptly responded, and at every shot one of the pursuers went down. The main object was to keep them away from the team a sufficient distance to prevent injury to the yaks, and this required the greatest energy and watchfulness.
The attacking party began to have a wholesome fear of the guns, and kept at a distance, which prevented them from effectively using the arrows. This pace was kept up for two miles, and the effect was now apparent on the poor animals. Harry noticed it, but he kept up a brave front, and did his share in the firing.
But now there was increased activity in the ranks of the enemy. Most of the advance party had gathered at a clump of bush ahead, and partly to the right, and Harry made every effort to divert the team to the left; but they were blind to the urging, and too excited to heed the tugging of Harry.
The Professor divined the purpose of the remarkable quiet on the part of the savages, and called to George to come to the forward end in anticipation of a rush, en masse, from the shelter of the brush. By some instinct the yaks turned to the left before the danger point was reached, but the band nevertheless rushed forward in rage, and to the gratification of our party, they were so close together that aiming for the thick of the pursuers was sufficient to assure a mark for each shot.
They did not heed the fallen, or wait to care for them, but rushed on and endeavored to head off the yaks. Those in the wagon did not notice that before them, and close at hand, lay a broad river. Harry was the first to announce it with a shout, when he saw the party in the lead halt, and move to the rear.
"What stream is this?" exclaimed George, excitedly.
"This must be the West River."
"And see, there is another stream to the right."
What a lucky circumstance that the team had made its way to the forks of the two rivers, and that they were now protected by the streams on both flanks. It was also fortunate for them that the team was by this time so completely worn out, that as they were going out along the narrow tongue of land, and the danger from their foes was growing less, that Harry carefully crept along the wagon pole to the heads of the animals and by quieting words soon restored them, and succeeded in bringing them under control before the shores were reached.
Both animals had been wounded, and the first care of the Professor was to relieve them. One of the arrows still hung in the side of Jill, and when the wounds were dressed they did not seem any the worse for their experience, but they were very tired, and inflamed with the excitement.
The peninsula within which they lay was not more than fifty feet wide where the wagon was halted, and two hundred feet away its width was not over one hundred feet, so it will be seen they were in a position which could be easily defended. There was plenty of provision on hand, but the matter of ammunition was the immediate cause of alarm. At least thirty rounds had been fired in the running fight, and the first thing was to take stock of this necessary article.
Only eight rounds were left, for the guns, and twenty for the pistols, but as they were now safe from further attack this was not such a calamity as they expected.
Their captive was mute during the entire skirmish, and it was a remarkable exhibition of a savage trait for the pursuers to disregard the condition of one of their chiefs, by firing on him while in that condition. How many were killed or disabled they had no means of knowing, but many must have fallen, for when they lined up across the tongue of land behind them the number had considerably diminished.
"It seems as though they intend to make a siege of it," was Harry's comment, as he noticed them preparing a fire.
The wagon was drawn up so that its broadside was toward the enemy, and the boards which had been carried, let down so as to form a screen for the part below the body. This afforded a safe place for the yaks, if perchance during the night the attacking party should get near enough by stealth to use their arrows.
As night approached there was an evident movement on the part of the besiegers, which could not be understood, until it was noticed that they had taken a much closer position. This was considered most annoying, and with a view to giving them another lesson, a few shots were fired into the thickest groups. This was answered by howls of anger, as they rushed back beyond the line of their former camp fire.
"They will learn a good lesson if they keep after us much longer. They have a wholesome fear of us now, and if our ammunition holds out, we can wipe out the whole lot," was George's grim comment after the last incident.
"Fear is certainly a wonderful thing in this world," commented the Professor; "without it the entire history of the world would have to be changed and rewritten."
"Why do you think so?"
"If you stop to consider the element of fear you will see that it is at the bottom of almost every human aspiration. Why does a man work to lay up a store for a rainy day? Why does he toil day after day, and often lose his life in the effort? What prompts the mother to guard her infant in the face of every danger? You may say it is love, but behind that love is fear which prompts the action."
During the night, when John and Harry were on guard, John quietly stole from the wagon, and as stealthily as a savage moved out over the ground toward the Indian encampment. Heretofore there had been a protest against his doing so, but in this case Harry did not offer any objections.
On his return Harry noticed several objects which he carried back and was surprised to see they were the peculiar headdresses worn by the attacking party. It was a matter of wonder to him that John should make a prize of these things, but when the Professor was called, and he noticed them, his face lighted up, and nodding his head, said: "Well, this is a wonderful piece of information."
"What is it?"
"How stupid I have been, not to recognize that before."
"What is the matter with the headgears that John brought in?"
"Look at the topknot of the fellow we have in the wagon."
The moonlight was sufficiently clear to enable Harry to distinguish a pronounced difference.
"So another tribe that our captive does not belong to has been pursuing us?"
This news was of so much importance that Harry waked up George, although it was not his hour for the watch.
"What do you think, George, the fellow we have does not belong to the attacking party." George was too sleepy to comprehend the intelligence at once.
"How do you know it?"
"John has just brought in several of the headdresses, and they are entirely unlike the one the chief has."
The utter disregard of the savages for the chief was now explained.
When morning came the Professor turned to the boys, and remarked: "I have still further information to impart this morning."
"What is it?" was the query of both.
"Last night when I made an examination of the articles John brought in, I was under the impression that our pursuers were the other tribe that we first met north of the river. On more carefully looking them over I find that our late enemies are an entirely different tribe, so that we must count on three distinct people in our further explorations."
THE ESCAPE. ENCOUNTERING ANOTHER HOSTILE TRIBE
The boys did not know how to receive this news; whether it complicated the situation or really offered an easier solution. The annoying thing was that the natives were at war with each other, and, apparently, all were at war with them.
The Professor commended John for his intuition, or whatever it may be called, in enabling them to gain this information. In his mute way he made a place for himself in the hearts of all. His wonderful ability with the gun, his caution and prudence, and the remarkable calmness and ease that characterized all his actions in the most trying periods, were such commendable traits that the boys could not help but show him their admiration in every way, and he knew and seemed to appreciate this.
Every day some new phase of his character would present itself, and the Professor, ever alert to note any symptoms, quietly told the boys that there was every evidence that he was now in the making of a dual self.
"What do you mean by that?"
"It is a term applied to one who has lost memory of his past, and in that condition has begun life anew and gone on for years in the new or dual existence, and perhaps ended his life in the dual personality. In many cases, however, returning consciousness, which came just as suddenly as they were deprived of it, caused them to forget all that had taken place during the first period."
"Under those conditions which is the real man or individual, the memory he first started out with or the memory he got afterwards?"
"You have asked a strong, leading question, George, and it may never be answered satisfactorily. Supposing a man should live a period of thirty years, and then have memory entirely obliterated, and should exist the residue of thirty years more as another person, there would be as much reason in calling one as normal as the other; but on the other hand, if, during the latter period, memory should return, and he would be rehabilitated into his former self, I am of the opinion that the first period would be the normal one."
"You seem to think that is what makes the person?"
"What else is there to man but memory? Is it the flesh, or blood and bones? Animals have those also. Memory is the greatest faculty in man, and it has been argued that what is called the divine spirit is merely the ability to recollect."
"But animals recollect, and would you call them divine for that reason?"
"No; for the reason that the lower orders of living creatures, as we term them, do not remember all things, but only certain features of events, and do not, except within a very limited range, reason from one phase to another. Man is called divine by his own kind because he has done things so far above what the brute has accomplished that it is regarded as a divine attribute. But he has done these things because he was endowed with a memory which enabled him to retain a consciousness of things, and to follow up the stored knowledge, or the accumulated essences of events which materialized in his remarkable works. Would it make any difference if the being which does these wonderful things should be in the form of a dog or a horse? If Red Angel could remember all that is told him, and could thereby do the next day what he had learned the day before, he would compare favorably with many human beings who possess our forms, and are called human beings."
No attack was made that night, and the next morning all were relieved at the rest afforded them. The savages had too much respect to venture near the camp, and a consultation was held as to a wise course to follow. The captive was of no use to them, but it would have been inhuman to turn him adrift, so that he should fall into the hands of the besieging party. Eventually he might be of service to them.
The main river to the west of them was fully two hundred feet broad, and the stream which bounded the other side of their position was, at its mouth, over a hundred and fifty feet in width, and it appeared to be entirely too deep to attempt fording.
No doubt the savages knew this, and counted on an easy capture when their provisions should give out. Thus the second day neared its close, and near evening there was an evident addition to the besieging force. A close watch was kept during the night, but no attempt made to force the situation.
This inaction became most monotonous. It was exceedingly trying, and the condition after the third day was now made plain; that they intended to starve them into submission.
During the early part of the evening, the Professor, realizing that something must be done, decided on a novel plan to relieve them of the savages. If, by any possibility, they could get some logs, sufficient to build a raft to help sustain the wagon, he believed the yaks would be able to swim the river and thus take the rafted wagon with them.
The boys, when the idea was broached, were heartily in favor of the scheme. Harry looked at John. "I only wish we could make our desires known to him."
The Professor took John by the hand, and led him to the brink of the river, and then pointing to the stream and to the wagon, and motioning in the direction across the river, he seemed to comprehend the meaning.
When they returned to the wagon, the Professor said to Harry: "Do you think you and John could cross the stream to the north of us, and find sufficient poles and driftwood for the purpose?"
Harry jumped at the opportunity. The moon was shining, but was occasionally hidden by clouds. Motioning to John they took their guns and bolos, and at the instance of the Professor, a quantity of rope. Some driftwood had caught at the shore to their left, and this was recovered, and from that a small raft was built sufficient to carry both across the narrowest stream.
To the north of them, less than a quarter of a mile away, was a quantity of small timber, and the Professor suggested that it would be advisable to go a considerable distance so the cutting of the logs would not be heard by their watchers.
They pushed the raft silently across the water, and drew it up for safety, and then stole down to the water's edge to make their way beyond the sight of the savages on the opposite side. All along the shore advantage was taken of every piece of wood available to serve as a floating structure, and when the wood was reached a few of convenient size were selected and cut up into lengths which would enable them to be readily rolled down to the river.
This work occupied them until midnight, and four large trees were thus prepared and lashed together, and one, wading in the water along the beach, using a pole, the other, with the rope, they held it within poling distance of the shore. In this manner the logs and detached pieces were floated down to the mouth of the stream, and having tied the small raft to the stern, it was finally poled across and landed at the water's edge not far from the wagon.
It was fortunate that the water was shallow and that the beach was shelving at this point, as it materially aided in effecting the launching. The moon went down before four o'clock that morning, and the yaks were yoked up and led to the river.
When Harry returned he was surprised at what he saw in their camp. The Professor and George had been at work also. Several uprights had been put up on the side of the wagon facing the besiegers, and over this had been stretched an old canvas and parts of such goods as could be dispensed with, so as to imitate the wagon, as nearly as possible.
Their ramie fiber top was of a light yellowish color, which looked bright in the moonlight. This had been removed and stored in the wagon, so that when the wagon was driven away the sham arrangement did not disclose the disappearance of the vehicle.
The wagon was driven into the water nearly hub deep, and two of the largest logs were then floated in under the axles, and the smaller ones lashed inside, so that the sustaining power of the combined logs, together with the wooden portion of the wagon and body, would be sufficient to sustain their weights.
Harry worked liked a hero, and took personal charge of the handling of the team, which was his especial delight. His presence near the yaks always gave them confidence, and on this occasion he took his position on the pole between them and near the yoke, and thus gently urged them forward.
For twenty-five feet or more the wheels kept on the ground, but soon thereafter the wheels were free, and they were delighted to find that the timbers did not permit the body to go down very low into the water, and this saved their bedding from becoming soaked.
The yaks performed their work nobly. Some months before they had forded the South River, at the time the flagpole for Observation Hill was cut, so they had ample reason to believe that they would be dependable under these circumstances. It did not require much urging on the part of Harry, and the opposite bank was soon reached, and the cattle scrambled up the beach, but were stopped before the wagon emerged from the water so the logs could be cut adrift.
The passage was made without a single mishap, and all wondered why this plan had not been thought of before.
"Let us move on into the interior a short distance, so as to deceive them as to our direction. It is conceivable that they may have boats of some kind which they have sent for, and we should, therefore, try to put them off the track."
All were now tired and needed rest. They had not slept a moment during the night, and it was not yet daylight. Beyond was an elevation, toward which the Professor directed them. There the wagon could be concealed, and from that point they would also have a view of the future movements of their enemies.
When the sun arose the savages could be seen standing guard over the sham wagon, at their old camp ground, and the boys enjoyed this bit of humor in the extreme. "I feel so jolly at the trick that I want to go down to the river and laugh at them," exclaimed George.
Up to nine o'clock there was no indication that the ruse had been discovered. The Professor was in his happiest mood at the good imitation, and John had an unmistakable smile, and, as the boys' laughter grew more boisterous, he broke into a laugh that actually startled them.
It was no less amusing to the captive. Beyond question it pleased him, but whether on account of his own safety or because of the ludicrous attitude of the besiegers, was beyond their comprehension. In his short captivity he had taken a fancy to the Professor, on whom he kept his eyes constantly. It was evident that more than the usual interest was displayed in watching his movements. From the first there was no sulkiness in the chief, nor did he exhibit any moroseness, or anything which indicated a spirit of revenge.
The kind and simple act of binding his wounds and making him comfortable seemed to amend for everything. Occasionally the Professor would go to him, and examine the wound, and sometimes pat him on the back—actions which he seemed to understand. No doubt the Professor had a motive in all this, as we shall probably see. The boys knew that he understood human nature in all its aspects, and that in this, as in other things, they felt he was merely preparing the way to utilize him in the future.
They were now on the western shore of West River, and when they had their full share of laughter at the deluded enemies, preparations were made for a start. But where to? Directly to the east were the three hostile tribes, and that direction was impossible. The Professor attempted another conversation with the chief. As all were preparing for the start, he pointed to the north, and at this the chief shook his head to indicate disapproval. When he motioned toward the south it was even a more vigorous negative. Here was a dilemma. What did he mean by such peculiar actions?
The start was delayed to give them an opportunity to discuss the evident meaning of their captive. While this was going on Harry's attention was directed to their old camp. Their late enemies had discovered the ruse, and were now rushing to beat down the pretended wagon.
"See the party on the north side of the river. I suppose that is a scouting party and they found out our little joke," and George again burst into laughter at the scene.
The chief was interested now. The party from the north came into view, and after passing up the river for a quarter of a mile or more, dashed across, and came back on the same side of the stream that the late besiegers occupied.
"See, they are fighting each other. What does it all mean?"
"It simply means," answered the Professor, "that the other tribe, or one of the other tribes on the island, sent for reinforcements, and are now taking a hand."
The chief was consulted and asked by signs whether the attacking party from the north side was his own people, and he shook his head in the negative. This proved, beyond doubt, that at least three different people inhabited the island to the south and southeast.
"What puzzles me," said the Professor, "is the fact that our chief opposes our traveling to the north and to the south as well."
"Do you think there are any tribes on this side of the river?"
"That is the only inference I can draw from his actions."
A battle was in progress in the underbrush beyond the river. The attacking forces were numerically superior, and within an hour had driven their opponents far to the south, and the successful tribe could be plainly seen, as they searched the hills to find the bodies of victims, and to gather the trophies of their victory.
"We might as well go north on our way home, as directly to the east," was the final remark of the Professor.
The boys were actually startled at this sudden announcement. But when he pointed out that their ammunition was very low, owing to the fierce resistance which they had to make, the wisdom of the course appealed to them.
"I am glad to go," was Harry's immediate response, "because when we come back next time we'll have something that will give the whole lot a better argument than we offered them this time."
The yaks started for the north, and the chief's eyes gave a warning look, which they did not heed at that time. They afterwards remembered how portentous that look was. All that day, over broken ground, and a rough, hilly country, the team laboriously made its way. The best that could be done over such a country was two and a half miles an hour.
Late in the afternoon the party were startled on coming in sight of numerous small huts, and a larger hut at one side of the cluster of smaller ones. The approach was so unexpected that in spite of their efforts, the team could not be turned around before their approach was heralded throughout the tribal village.
Here was the first view of the homes of the natives. The huts were very crude, and were devoid of windows, all of them built round with more or less pointed or conical tops.
"Those huts don't look like the ones we saw to the south on the day we had our first fight," was George's opinion.
"You are correct in that, and if you notice, the people look differently, as well. What is that? I believe they have firearms." The Professor's brow gathered, as he said this, because now, that the alarm had been given, the warriors were running to and fro, and among them were several who carried guns.
The wagon was hurriedly put into a posture of defense, and the cattle protected as best they could. They approached cautiously, and the Professor walked forward and held out his hand in token of friendliness. They withdrew a short distance for consultation. This gave the party an opportunity to study the new people.
The first thing noticed was the entire difference in the clothing worn. The other tribes had nothing but the breech clout, but these had other garments, and their skin was darker in color.
"I am afraid we shall have trouble in a fight with these people, because their guns are first-class make," said Harry.
"You need have no fear of their guns," answered the Professor.
The boys looked at him wonderingly, as he continued: "They may have had ammunition in the past, but it is evident that they have none now. See how the fellows who have the guns carry them. They use them like spears."
They finally turned from their conference, and without a word or sign opened hostilities with a volley of arrows. The gage of battle had been thrown down. It was fortunate that the warriors were few in comparison with their last enemies. Not more than twenty were counted as they were waiting for the result of the consultation.
This challenge could not well be misunderstood, and the Professor gave the word to fire. Every shot took effect, and the result was a startling one for the savages. Without waiting for the second round they broke and fled, rushing down past the large hut and through the village, gathering, as they went, the women and children which had previously grouped together to witness the fight. This was too much for the boys, who rushed down after them, followed by John and the Professor, until the large hut was reached.
THE RESCUE OF THE CAPTIVE BOYS
The boys were chattering and whooping as they ran, to the immense amusement of the Professor. They had converted themselves into regular American Indians for the occasion, and tried to imitate the yells of the savages who had attacked them the previous day.
Passing the large hut which stood in the foreground, the boys imagined they heard a cry from within. Possibly it was a lure, and the Professor advised them not to be too rash.
"Here we are; inside the hut; hurrah for the United States." The boys looked at each other in amazement. The Professor, too, was puzzled. Cautiously approaching the opening, the Professor called out: "Who is there!"
Instantly came the cry from two voices: "We are American boys who were captured by the savages." Nothing more was needed for the impetuosity of George and Harry. With the bolos the enclosure was soon cut away, and they rushed in, but the Professor and John remained outside.
In one corner, and tied to stanchions which had been driven in the ground, were two boys, badly emaciated, and covered with filth and rags. When the ropes that bound them were cut away and assisted to rise they were too weak to stand without support.
"We are so hungry."
"How long have you been here?" asked Harry, excitedly.
"We don't know, but more than two weeks. We were captured by another tribe and in the last fight were taken from the ones who first captured us."
"Come out into the light," and Harry and George each put his arms around one of the boys, and as they came out looked at the Professor and John in astonishment too strong for words.
In the excitement they broke down and wept, and well they might. Our boys were touched beyond description, and John went up to them and put his arms around them, and this act so affected Harry and George that they too joined the boys in tears that could not be kept back.
The Professor was moved, as he turned away to hide his feelings, but he recovered, and with a great show of unconcern, exclaimed: "Back to the wagon, as quickly as possible." This brought them to a realization of their position, and Harry and George almost carried the boys toward the wagon, while John and the Professor lingered behind.
He had anticipated the return of the savages, and surmising that a still larger force might be within calling distance, did not consider it prudent to tarry long at that spot. It was well that they did not remain, as the rescued boys informed the Professor that the main body was beyond the ridge, and not more than several miles away unless they were on the warpath.
There was no time for many words. When the poor boys reached the wagon another surprise was in store for them, as they gazed on the wounded chief, who was bound in the wagon.
The savages did not go far beyond the village, and this was observed by the Professor, and was the moving cause of his sharp order when the boys were brought out. While Harry and John were engaged in turning the team around, George hurriedly set food before the famished boys, and they were cautioned against taking too much. They were really almost starved, and their appearance plainly showed the treatment they had received.
The Professor called out: "They are coming; have all the guns ready." Before they had fully taken all of the food the boys begged to be allowed to assist in the defense, and George was thoughtful enough to recognize the fact that the guns they had were not like the breech-loaders, and without wasting time told the boys how they were manipulated.
"Where did you get these funny-looking guns?" asked one of the boys.
"We made them," was the reply, and the boys looked at each other and gasped in surprise.
Beyond, the savages were gathering, and moving forwardly, evidently with a view of attacking. The Professor turned to the boys and asked them whether the natives had guns, and they answered that when they were captured they saw a half dozen old weapons, but had never used them, as, apparently, there was no ammunition. Where the savages obtained them was a mystery. They believed the weapons were used as charms, to aid them against their enemies, and that belief gained ground from the fact that thus far the tribes, in whose territory they now were, had been victorious in every battle that had been fought for the past year.
This was indeed interesting news, and probably the actions of the wounded chief, in appearing to discourage the trip to the north, had some relation to this belief.
The gathering warriors could be seen plainly, coming over the hill, beyond the village, and gathered in a mass near the hut from which the boys had been taken. A conference was in progress, which did not appear to be harmonious, but eventually the party moved forward and divided into three sections, with the view of enveloping the position of the Professor and his party.