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
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TREASURES OF THE ISLANDS
THE WONDER ISLAND BOYS
TREASURES OF THE ISLANDS
ROGER T. FINLAY
The New York Book Company New York Copyright, 1915, by The New York Book Company
I. THE PECULIAR SIGNALS Page 15
The doleful sound. The Alma Perdita. "Cry of the Lost Soul." John, Uraso and Muro listening to the signals of the enemies. The night watch. Stalking. The answering cry. The Konotos. Sacrificial feasts. The dark of the moon. Its significance. The language of birds and animals. Their meaning. Discovery of cannibals. The telltale bone. Evidence of more than one tribe. Strange customs. Sacrifices of ancient times. Mexican rites. Superstitions. Previous history of the boys. Varney, Uraso and Muro. The Professor. The wreck and adventures. John's search for records, and inscriptions. Mysterious happenings. Waiting for morning. The plan outlined. The days of the sacrifices. Determine to prevent the killing of captives. Discovery of the natives in vicinity. Investigating the hills.
II. THE SAVAGES ON THE HILL Page 26
John's instructions. John and Muro scouting. The natives intercepting Uraso. Preparing to resist the attack. The signaling instrument. A shot. A hurried report from the scout. Sending a messenger to Muro. The puzzled natives. Muro attacked. Marching east. Muro in danger. Making a demonstration. The weird drums. The ambush. The approach of the natives. The attempt to be friendly. The Chief's refusal. The appearance of Uraso. Uraso's ruse. The savages confounded. Muro surrounded. His escape. The savages retreating. Muro's story. Muro's efforts to make friends of the natives. Driving them from the woods. The sea of the east. The runner to the landing. The peculiar drums. The Marimba. The mountain deer.
III. CAPTURE OF THE VILLAGE Page 38
The trying time at night. No selfishness in education. The evening talks. Astronomy and early humanity. Savage rites determined and carried out by the signs of the stars. The Zodiac. Its origin. The universal superstitions. A common origin. The continents. The theory of a mid-Atlantean continent. The theory of the joined continents. Language as a criterion of the unity of the races. The pyramids. The tales of the Egyptian priests. The deep sea soundings by the ship Challenger. The beating of the weird drums in the night. Evidence of the natives' belief in witch doctors. The plan of advance outlined by John. The boys, accompanied by John and portion of the force advancing. Nearing the village. Hearing the shouting and the drums. Causes of the demonstrations. A captive. At the edge of the village. A curious proceeding. A huge Chief. The witch doctors. Their fantastic garb. The Chief's defiance. Demands return of the captured Chief. Asks John to surrender. Commands the Korinos to destroy captive. They bring forward Tarra, their own messenger. The warning. The shot.
IV. RESCUING A WHITE CAPTIVE Page 53
Tarra freed. When captured. The fallen witch doctor. The surprise. The warning from Uraso. Exorcising the bad spirits. The influence of noise on savage minds. The gun silencers. The savages insist on aiding their fallen witch doctor. The shot with the silencer. The awe produced. John the white Korino. The terror among the natives. The Chief retreats. Entering the village. The Chief and people flee. The reserves come up. The sick and wounded in the village. A prison stockade. Rescuing prisoners. Their terrible plight. A white captive. The stockade burned. Learning about the tribes on the island. The messenger to the Chief. The latter's message. John's bold march to see the Chief. Astounded at John's bravery. John's peace pact with the Chief. The return to the village. The Chief assured of the friendship of John and his people. Learning about the other tribe. One sun to the north. The Chief told why the white Chief was so powerful. Wisdom. John's practical example to the Chief.
V. RETURN OF THE NATIVES Page 66
Trinkets. Adornments for the natives. Gifts. The day appointed for the sacrifices. John and party invited by the Chief. John sends for the gifts. The Pioneer at the landing. Sails to the native village. The Korinos called before the Chief. He demands that they produce the captives for sacrifice. The Korinos learn of the destruction of the stockade, and the release of the captives. The Chief condemns the Korinos to take their places. John secures delay. At the beach. The natives gathering clams for the feast. The Korinos and their caves. A sail. The boys spread the news. The signal. The natives wonder at the sight of the vessel. The Pioneer. The feast that night. Spitting meat. The natives' customs. Vegetables. The drink. Arialad. The value of the root. Ginseng.
VI. THE SAVAGE CEREMONIALS Page 78
The day for the ceremonies. The native cloth weaving. Dyeing. Black and red. The grotesque figures. The spears. The colored streamers. The covered points. The flag idea. A brilliant scheme by the boys. The band for the ceremonies. A procession. The ship's band. The leader. The enthusiasm in the village. The dancing natives. Arranging the order of the procession. The tall man and huge spear. The Korinos. The band and the flag at the procession. The leader. The magnolia trees. The march to the forest. The great tree on the hill. The ceremony. Striking the tree. The flower at the top. How it was brought down. The rite of the flower. Incineration. The powder. The dance. Return of the procession.
VII. SIGNIFICANCE OF NATIVE RITES Page 88
Fasting before the feast. Great success of the ceremony. The significance of the flower rites. Ancient origin of rites. Explaining customs which followed the practice of scalping. Head hunters. The hair token. The flower before the fruit. The Druids. The ceremonia of the mistletoe. The antidote. The oak as a sacred tree. The great feast after the ceremony. Table implements. The Korinos. Where they were imprisoned. Prepared for the sacrifice. Their attempted escape. Gluttony. Habits of savages in this respect. The siesta. The boys discover the escape of the Korinos. The Marmozets. The tall native with the knotted club. His remarkable garb. The Chief's crown. The club-bearer reports the escape of the Korinos. The Chief's anger. Arrests the guards. Condemns them to suffer instead of the Korinos. The procession to the place of sacrifice. The sacrificial altar.
VIII. HYPNOTISM ON SAVAGES Page 100
John's suggestion to the Chief. Asks that he be made the executioner. Uraso's address to the culprits. Their terror. Mysticism. Hypnotic influences. Mesmerism. Constant repetitions. Mystic numbers. The spell on all the natives. The effect of the mesmeric influence on the Chief. The rigid subjects. John the peerless Korino. The threats against the witch doctors. Bringing the victims to life. Amazement of the people. The Chief's address to his people. The return to the village. The feast. The mystic third. The dance at the end of the festival. To settle the fate of the Korinos. The recovery of the faculties of the white captive. His story. The identity of the skeleton found on Venture Island. Identified with Walter. The story which was doubted by John. The rescued natives. The Maloses. Ta Babeda. The tribe to the north. Distributing the gifts. The delight of the Chief. Telling him about the wonders of Wonder Island. The invitation to the Chief.
IX. THE REMARKABLE CAVE EXPLORATIONS Page 113
The Umbolos, to the north. The supposed cannibals. Determine to visit them. Preparing for the expedition. Chief Ta Babeda cautions John against the cannibal Chief Rumisses. John requests permission to take the Korinos with him. He consents provided John will enter the cave and take them. The trip to the cave. The Chief accompanies John to the cave. Superstitions about the caves. Why no one but the Korinos dare enter the caves. The hill near the ocean. The cove near the entrance of the cave. The flashlights. Lighting the caverns. Evidences of habitations. The escape of the Korinos. Following the trail. The outlet to the south. Tracked to the north. Uraso and Muro follow the fugitives. Their flight to the cannibal tribe. John and the boys return to explore the cave. A new series of caverns. A succession of four chambers. A large round chamber at the end of the lead. A mound in the center of the chamber. Removing the material in the mound. Discovery of the copper box. Peculiar character of the box.
X. THE TRIBE TO THE NORTH Page 125
The copper box taken to the ship. News from Uraso and Muro. Explaining mesmerism and hypnotism. Concentration. The effect on susceptible minds. The Korinos safe with the cannibal tribe. John advises Stut to sail, north for twenty miles, and await their coming. The march. The cinnamon tree. Cinnamon suet. Minerals. Sulphates. Copper ores. Omens. All peoples believe in signs and omens. The shelter for the night. How signals were made. Sighting the cannibal village. Earthenware cooking utensils. Meet the first natives. The dreaded Chief. A curious figure. The hunchback. A smile on his face. The American greeting. The surprise. A white man. Finding the Korinos. The welcome to his village. The Chief told about their ship. On the island fifty years. Telling John about the strange things which have floated ashore from wrecked ships. The Korinos assured of safety.
XI. THE HUNCHBACK CHIEF Page 138
The Chief's house. The relics from the sea. The hunchback Chief's story. His trip as a whaler. Ill treatment. Runs away. Ships to China. His rudimentary education. Shipwrecked on the return from China. Rescued by native cannibals. Regard him with veneration. Misinterprets their motives. In desperation. Asserts himself. Becomes Chief of the tribe. Stops cannibal practices. His great influence over the people. The Pioneer arrives. Ephraim Wilmar, the hunchback. His surprise at the many changes during fifty years. His amazement at the telephone, the cable lines, the phonograph.
XII. THE CHIEF'S FAMILY Page 148
Ephraim's wife. The family. The gifts to Ephraim's family. Delight at the cooking utensils. John tells Ephraim about the treasures on the islands. Hidden treasures. Learning the secrets of early humanity. Archeology. The trip to the cave. The long journey. The cave which had the entrances sealed by Ephraim. The peculiar kinds of masonry. Entering the cave. Dogs with the party. Mysterious death of the dogs. The alarm of the natives. Carbonic gas. Its nature, and how tested. Methods for removing it. The Humphrey Davy lamp. The principle on which it is made. Designed to indicate the presence of deadly gases. Explosive mixtures. How a primitive safety lamp was made. Reentering the cave. A large chamber. The cross-shaped cave. A parchment. The object of John's search.
XIII. THE CHART AND THE CAVES Page 164
The map accompanying the parchment. One of the Treasure caves. Remarkable carvings, and hieroglyphics. The quarrel of the buccaneers. The story of the Spaniard who wrote the chart. The expeditions searching for the treasure. Death of all who participated. Great archeological wealth. No material treasures found. How Ephraim's story affected the boys. John explains why the cannibals feared him. Due to their superstitions. Demented people regarded by some as saints. Genius and insanity. Further explorations of the island. The proposed trip to Wonder Island. Ephraim invited. He and his family accept. Telling Ephraim about Hutoton. The curious tales that were told them about the convict colony. The wonderful character of the people at Hutoton. The Pioneer sails. The first time on the deck of a vessel for fifty-two years. Ephraim and the library. His conversation with the head of the convict colony. The identity of the paralyzed man not established.
XIV. RESCUE ISLAND Page 175
The visitors at Hutoton received with rejoicing. John invites the leader to accompany them to Wonder Island. Retlaw, the captive, rescued, brought ashore. Caramo thought he recognized him. Sailing of the Pioneer for Wonder Island. Calling at the Malolo village. Ta Babeda agrees to accompany them to Wonder Island. Naming the island Rescue. The latitude and longitude noted. Introducing Ta Babeda to the cannibal Chief Ephraim. He explains how the Korinos misrepresented him and his people. The new world to Babeda when he stepped on board the Pioneer. The trip to Wonder Island. The mysteries on board the ship to the Chief. His inquisitive nature. How he characterized electricity. Ephraim's concern for his children. Approaching Enterprise River. The steamship Wonder in sight. The greeting. Going up the river. The excitement in Unity. The crowded dock. Sutoto and his bride. The flag on the Wonder. The curiosity of Beralsea at the sight of the Banners.
XV. THE RETURN TO WONDER ISLAND Page 187
Sutoto and the great wide world. Their trip to Valparaiso. Cinda, and the latest fashions. Blakely, the man of business. The boys tell him of the wonderful islands. His eagerness. He tells them of the great enterprises, and of the prospective new ship. The growth of Unity. The tribesmen coming in. Introducing Blakely to the Chiefs. They marvel at his energy. The Professor. John tells him about the copper box. The new hotel. The wonderful work in Unity. Agricultural pursuits. What they shipped to the north. The plans for surveying the islands. How the lands were apportioned. Building homes on the island. Energy of the natives. Emigration pouring in. Farm implements. Coffee tree planting. Raising cocoa. The schools. The Korinos as teachers. Explaining the trade problems to the Chief. Ephraim's desire to have his children remain and attend school. The Chief also permits his children to remain. Information that the paralyzed man is getting well. What paralysis is. The triangle. The visit of the boys to Sutoto's home. The new automobile. The surprise for the boys.
XVI. THE SAVAGES AT UNITY Page 199
Their new machines. Blakely's treat for the boys. The Professor's car. John in his runabout. The automobile procession. The Chief and the automobile. The cottage for the Chief's family. The boys and the Professor review their work. The great pleasure in their enterprises. George and Harry selected to manage affairs on Venture and Rescue Islands. The copper box. The skull in the package. The Professor announces the return of the reason of the paralytic. The word "triangle" announced by the paralytic. The remarkable coincidence. Opening the copper box. The triangle on the Walter letter. The skull within the copper box. The cryptic signs in the box. The counterpart of the skull they had found. The identical inscription. The agitation of the paralytic at the sight. He mentions the name of Walter. Retlaw enters and starts at the sight of the skulls. Tries to escape on seeing the paralytic. The latter announces his name as Clifford. Harry rightly judges that Retlaw is Walter reversed. Ephraim recognizes Clifford. Walter arrested.
XVII. UNRAVELING THE MYSTERIES Page 214
Speculations concerning Walter. Sutoto informed. The mystery of their missing boat. Clifford's story. The paper with the markings on the skull identified by Ta Babeda. The secret in possession of Walter. The boys' suggestion as to proper names for the natives. Surnames, and how originated. The method adopted by the Romans. The Greek names. English surnames. Clifford's condition improving. Trying to identify the skeleton found on Venture Island. Clifford recognizes Ephraim. Walter's letter. The three islands. The triangle. The three southern stars. The southern cross. The three crosses. Thirty leagues. The charts of the islands.
XVIII. THE STORY OF THE LETTERED SKULL Page 224
Clifford awakes. The escape of Walter and his recapture. Clifford continues his story. His effort to find the treasure island. His meeting with Walter. Capture by the savages. The Juan Ferde. Blakely and Clifford. His knowledge of the skull. The finding of the boys' boat. Sailing down the river. Loss of the boat. Finding his companions. Sailing to Venture Island. His illness. Meeting with Walter on Rescue Island. His belief that Walter had hidden the chart. Walter brought in. Clifford apologizes to Walter. The Sign of the Plus and V. The chambers in the cave. What the inscriptions meant. Surprise when Walter learns of the finding of the copper box. Explains the meaning of the charts. Why there were three skulls. The mysterious letter. The remarkable happenings explained.
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
The scout from the rear now came in with a leap Frontispiece PAGE 'Stop!' cried John, 'It will be death for any one to touch him' 59 'It is copper,' said John 138 The old man pointed to the rocky wall 154
Fig. 1. The Marimba. 36 Fig. 2. The Atlantean Plateau. 42 Fig. 3. The Severed Hemispheres. 45 Fig. 4. Silencer: Convolute Blades. 54 Fig. 5. Spitting the Roast. 75 Fig. 6. Arialad Fruit. Sarsaparilla. 76 Fig. 7. The Mistletoe. 90 Fig. 8. The Jacchus. 95 Fig. 9. The Cave on Rescue Island. 119 Fig. 10. Cinnamon. 129 Fig. 11. Phonograph Disk. 146 Fig. 12. Types of Masonry. 154 Fig. 13. Types of Safety Lamps. 159 Fig. 14. How John made the Lamp. 160
TREASURES OF THE ISLANDS
THE PECULIAR SIGNALS
"Do you remember, Harry, after discovering the treasure and the skeletons of the pirates in the cave near the Cataract, that we heard the doleful sound of some bird while going down the hill?"
"Yes; that cry was something like it. Do you recall the name of the bird, George?"
"It was the Alma Perdita."
"I remember, now; it means the 'Cry of the Lost Soul.'"
"Yes; but I don't think that came from a bird. It is more like an animal of some kind. Don't you hear a sound that seems to be answering it?"
"It does seem so; I think John would know what animal it is; but it is too late to speak to him about it to-night, George."
As Harry ceased speaking, the boys heard a noise, and George arose holding up his hand as a warning. "I think I see something, so we ought to call John."
The boys quietly moved forward, and noted two figures moving about a short distance beyond. The boys crawled over to the place where John was sleeping, and found that the place he occupied, as well as that of Uraso's vacant.
"That must be John and Uraso over there," remarked Harry in a whisper.
They were confirmed in this on approaching the moving figures, and saw that both were armed, and also that they were watching another moving figure beyond.
"Is that a bird or an animal?" asked George.
"An animal," replied John, in an undertone.
"That was my opinion from the first," remarked George, who turned to Harry with a sort of 'I told you so,' expression.
"But it is a two-legged animal," responded John.
"How long have you been up?" asked Harry.
"More than an hour," said Uraso. "Muro is now coming back, and we shall know something more definite."
"Then that is Muro?" asked George, in surprise.
"Yes; he has been stalking the ones making that noise, and was the one who called our attention to it."
Muro disappeared, and the peculiar cries were repeated, then, most startlingly, a sound, similar in character, appeared to come from a point very close to where they were now crouching.
John turned to Uraso in astonishment. The latter did not seem at all perturbed, but after the second cry Uraso imitated the sound, and John smiled.
"Muro has the exact tone now," said John.
"Yes," replied Uraso, "and the cry I gave was an answer, which Uraso understands."
In a few minutes Muro appeared, but he was not smiling. His face was grave, as he said: "We have come upon the terrible Konotos. I feared that when I heard the first cry several hours ago."
"Have you been near them?" asked John.
"Near enough to know that there are quite a number, and what is more, they are now engaged in their regular feast, and if they have any captives, this is the time that they will be sacrificed," said Muro.
"Why do you think this is the time for that?" asked Harry.
"Because it was now nearing the dark of the moon, as you call it, and that time is chosen because the Great Spirit, out of anger, is hiding the light."
The boys now understood that this was a rite practiced by some of the tribes on Wonder Island, during that season of the Moon's phase.
"Did you talk with them in that strange language?" asked Harry.
"No; but I tried to find out the key to the language they used."
"Is that their regular language?"
"Oh, no! That is simply the special language which they use on certain occasions," answered Muro.
"The savages here, as everywhere, have a sort of code language, or a species of wireless telegraphy, used by them only when in the presence of enemies," commented John.
"Harry and I thought it might be the Alma Perdita, that we heard at the cave near Cataract."
"No; but it shows the ingenuity of the savages, when I explain that their most favored method is to assume the cry of some bird or animal, and in so doing make it difficult for the enemy to distinguish the assumed from the real."
"But on Wonder Island we had several methods of talking to each other," remarked Uraso. "For instance, we would perfectly imitate the cries of a number of birds, and also of certain animals, and of the wood insects. Thus, a nightingale would mean watchfulness; the chirrup of a cricket would be the signal that the enemy was not dangerous, or that there were not many of them; the cry of the Lost Soul bird would indicate that there was great danger, and so on with the birds and animals that make noises."
"But I have discovered another thing," remarked Muro.
"And what is that?" said John.
"The natives here are cannibals."
"That merely confirms my knowledge of the matter," said John.
The boys looked at John in amazement. How did John know there were cannibals on the island?
"When did you learn that?" asked Harry.
"Yesterday," was his reply.
"What did you find that makes you believe that?"
"I discovered a bone which was once part of a human body."
"But how would that be any indication that the people here are cannibals?"
"When you see a bone that has on it the unmistakable markings of human teeth, it is pretty safe to infer that the animal which scratched the bone was a cannibal."
From the report of Muro it was evident that there was a large number of people on the island, and, if Muro's observations were correct, they now had some captives, or, at least, were preparing to celebrate a feast in which human beings were to be the victims.
"That satisfies me of one thing," said Harry.
"And what is that?" asked John.
"Why, that there must be other tribes on the island," he answered.
"Why do you infer that?"
"Well, where would they get the victims?"
"From their own people," answered John.
"What! eat their own people?" asked George.
"That is not at all strange. Many people are known to sacrifice their own, and among the most degraded, they are known to kill and eat their own."
"That is the first time I have heard of such a thing."
"Don't you remember that the Bible tells about Abraham about to offer up his own son as a sacrifice?"
"Yes; but not to eat him."
"Of course not; but it is not an uncommon thing for tribes in Africa to sell their own children for this purpose. One of the greatest sacrificial rites of the ancient Mexicans, was to offer up the most handsome youth each year, as a propitiation to the gods."
"So they do not always depend on their enemies to furnish the feast?"
"By no means. Many of the tribes have a superstition that if they eat a brave enemy it will impart to them his spirit of valor, and the fact that they are to have sacrifices here does not mean that there are various tribes on the island; but that is something we shall have to investigate. It is my opinion that we shall find other tribes, but that, I am inclined to think, depends upon the size of the island."
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The preceding volume, "Adventures Among Strange Islands," states the conditions under which the two boys, Harry and George, found themselves on a strange island, in the southern Pacific. Accompanying them were John L. Varney, and about sixty natives from Wonder Island, together with the two Chiefs Uraso and Muro.
Nearly three years previously the boys, George Mayfield and Harry Crandall, who were members of the crew of a school-ship, the Investigator sailed from New York, and while on board, met a professor, who, when the ship was blown up at sea, became their companion in the life boat in which they sought refuge. Together they finally were stranded upon an unknown island, less than a hundred miles from the island which was the scene of the adventures with which we are now concerned.
On this island they discovered five or six savage tribes, from some of which they rescued seven of their former boy companions. Here also they met Mr. Varney, who had escaped from the savages. The Professor succeeded in reconciling all the warring tribes, and the natives were now engaged in agriculture, and in various other pursuits, and the boys had the great pleasure and satisfaction of being able to build their own vessel and return home. The trip to the Wonderful island, with which this volume deals, was for a double purpose, as will presently be shown.
John, as Mr. Varney was familiarly known to them, was not only a well educated man, but a great adventurer, and had traveled all over the world in pursuit of scientific knowledge. He was particularly interested in the history of the men who first went to the western world, and scattered civilization to the benighted countries.
Like many men of his character, he did not consider the question of money. He tried to acquire knowledge and information for the love of the quest, and in order to be of service to his fellow man, so it was purely by accident that he became a member of a crew that sailed for the southern seas at the same time that the boys left New York on their trip.
While his companions undertook the mission solely for the sake of the money which might be acquired, John engaged thinking it might offer the means of laying bare many of the early legends and vague historical accounts with which that region of the South Seas abounds, and he knew that if any records were in existence, they could be preserved only in such secure places as caverns, which the Spanish buccaneers invariably selected as the safest places to conceal their treasures.
While the boys, together with the Professor and John, had found a vast amount of treasure, as stated in the first six volumes containing the history of Wonder Island, they found not a single scrap of historical value, excepting a few traces, which have been referred to, and certain inscriptions which all pointed to the same depositary, somewhere in the South Seas.
The last inscription was found by John, shortly before they left Wonder Island, and which, though its full meaning was wrapt in mystery, pointed, as did the others, to another island than the one on which it was found. What made the matter still more interesting, was the knowledge that some one, by the name of Walters, either had prepared the inscription, or had some knowledge of what it meant.
This man was not known to any of the party, and what made it the more remarkable was the information, lately obtained, that while Walters, apparently, knew one of the companions who accompanied John on his wrecked vessel, that man did not know Walters, at least not by that name.
These circumstances, together with numerous other incidents, which the boys could not understand, or unravel, made such an impression on them, that they were determined to devote their energies to ferret out the inexplicable things, and the earnestness of John was a great incentive in the undertaking.
Up to this time the boys did not know the real motive in the mind of John. To them this quest on his part was to find out where the Treasure islands were for the material value that might be obtained.
His long silence about the real design had been purposely concealed by him, as he felt that merely to delve into the hidden recesses of the islands would not be understood by them in its real sense, because as boys they could not appreciate that real knowledge always must be disassociated from the idea of material or commercial gain.
It was with a great deal of anxiety that the boys waited for the morning sun. They had but a comparatively small force to deal with the situation. True, they were equipped with fire-arms, and they knew that the Pioneer, their vessel, would return within a week, still, within that time the large number of natives might be able to surround them, and unless they could get some word to the ship, and by that means enable their friends to send reinforcements, they would be starved out.
As soon as the camp was astir there was a consultation. John had fully matured a plan in his mind, but it was always a pleasure, as it had been with the Professor, to present any complications to the boys, so that they could take a hand in the developments which might follow.
"Harry and I have been considering the matter," said George. "We think it would be well to leave this place, and go back to the landing and wait for the Pioneer. We will then be ready, with reinforcements to meet them with more than an even chance."
"But," remarked John; "are you willing to go back, and permit the devils here to destroy the captives they may have, or, to prevent them from sacrificing their own people?"
The boys had not thought of this. "I know the feast days, during which these events will take place, will occur within the next four days," added Muro.
"If that is so," said Harry, "I am willing to do my share in keeping them from it. What do you suggest?"
"We must try to get into communication with them, and if we fail then I am in favor of taking some stringent measures to divert them from their purpose," answered John.
"Then you may be assured we are with you to the end," said George.
"After talking with Uraso and Muro, we have agreed on a plan that may be successful, and it will at any rate, for the time, prevent them from carrying out their festival scheme." As John said this Muro appeared, and stated that he had discovered the arrival of at least a hundred natives on the hill beyond the second ravine, and that he saw smoke on the third hill beyond that, and was of the opinion that the village must not be far away.
This intelligence added interest to the situation. As nearly as could be estimated they were at least fifteen miles from the landing place selected when the Pioneer sailed.
"Unless I am very much mistaken the ridge on which we now are is the backbone of the island, and I also believe that it is narrow and we should be able to find the sea much nearer by going east from this place," remarked John.
"But if we do that it will be necessary for some one to go to the place selected for the landing of the Pioneer, and tell them of our plans, and what we have learned," said Harry.
"That is what I have in mind. But before doing that we must investigate this portion of the island more carefully. My plan is as follows: Along this ridge, further to the east, is a sheltered spot, or a place where the rocks form a sort of cove, and which can be easily defended. If the natives have not reached that quarter it will make an ideal retreat for us, and where we can defend ourselves for an indefinite time."
"But why should we take up time to find a place like that if you intend to take steps toward meeting the natives?"
"It will be used to fall back upon."
"Oh, then you intend to take measures against them at once?"
"Not for the first day, at least. As soon as we are established there we will investigate the region to the east, and if we find the shore line closer on the eastern shore, we can then send a runner with a message to the landing place, giving them the information."
The boys now understood. It was evident that it would have been bad policy to retreat in face of the enemy, if such he should prove to be. Something must be done to divert the natives for the time being. This would give them time to communicate with their vessel.
"There is one thing that must be remembered. The savages know of our presence here. They are now on the alert, and we are being watched with the greatest vigilance. If they think there is an opportunity for fresh victims it will stimulate them to the greatest exertions."
"I agree with you in that view," said Uraso, as John finished speaking.
THE SAVAGES ON THE HILL
After a hurried breakfast the party marched along the southern crest of the hill, keeping as much out of view of the watchers on the northern side as possible. The course adopted was one well calculated to deceive the natives, for while the main bulk of the party silently left the camping place, a half dozen of their companions were left behind, and they were particular to remain exposed at intervals, so that the departure of the main party would not be discovered.
To those left behind, John said: "Remain here until you hear firing. In that event you will know that we have met them, and that fact will be sufficient notice that your duty here is at an end. Uraso has begged the privilege of being with you, and you know that is an assurance of your safety in any event."
The place suggested by John was not over two miles distant. Muro went ahead with one of the most reliable men of his tribe, and at intervals this runner was sent back with the information that the course was clear.
Everything pointed to the success of the scheme, until they were within sight of the place, when the runner came back hurriedly with the information that Muro had seen the first of the natives, and he felt certain that they were at the place selected for their fort.
The party halted. The runner returned, and John sent back a messenger to Uraso, advising him to come forward at once. Within fifteen minutes the messenger returned with the startling information that the natives were between them and Uraso.
This was, indeed, surprising. Either they were experts at stalking enemies, or they had been fortunate enough to bring up a force in such a position as to make Uraso's escape a most hazardous one.
"We must make the best of the situation," said John. "Let us prepare to receive them, if they are determined to attack us."
"But what shall we do about Uraso?" asked Harry, in some consternation.
"I think Uraso knows how to take care of the situation. He is shrewd enough to outwit them, and if there is any danger from that quarter, he will let us know."
"But how can he let us know if his messenger cannot get through?"
John smiled, as he looked at George, and responded: "You have evidently forgotten that Uraso has the best signaling instrument in the world, the gun."
"Certainly; I had forgotten that. But what shall we do if—" His voice was cut short by a shot from the direction of Uraso's position.
"There it is," said Harry. "Two more shots!"
The scout from the rear now came in on a leap. "They are coming this way," he hurriedly informed John.
"Who are coming?" asked John.
"Lie down!" he commanded. "No one must fire until I give the command. Oto, go to Muro at once, and tell him to come back immediately."
In the distance to the west could be seen little squads of natives coming directly toward them. In the different groups were fully fifteen men, all armed with spears and bows and arrows.
"Uraso is driving them this way; I am sure of that," remarked John, as he watched their maneuvers.
"What makes you think so?" asked George.
"They are simply retreating, thinking, in all probability that they have met our entire band. They do not know we are here."
"Brave Uraso! I hope he will not get into danger," said George. "There they are now; see them on the ridge to—"
A shot from the direction of Muro now awoke them to action. The moment that sound reached the oncoming savages, they halted, and huddled together, evidently in confusion at the meaning of the new alarm.
"Ah! they are puzzled!" Then, after a pause, he continued: "I hope Muro is not in trouble! I do not understand why his messenger has not returned."
Within ten minutes of the report of the gun which has just been referred to, the messenger sent by John, came in and stated that it was impossible for him to reach Muro, as the hill directly to the east was alive with warriors.
It was now Muro's turn to get the sympathy of the boys, and both of them turned to John, who still seemed unperturbed.
"We will march directly to the east," he announced. "Every man must hold his gun ready for instant firing. Move forward quietly, as you have been doing. We must go to the assistance of Muro. Uraso will take care of the rear."
They glided along the crest, directly behind John, and as they passed over the hill, it was evident that the natives were out in force.
"I wonder whether they have captured Muro?" asked Harry.
"No; he is all right. You may depend on it that he will not be taken without a warning shot is given."
"But we heard a shot."
"True; but that was the messenger."
From the manner in which the natives in their front were scurrying to and fro, it was apparent to John's practiced mind, they had no idea of the approach of John and his party. It was plain that they knew of Muro, or, at least of some one beyond the second hill, where John inferred Muro must have gone, because all their energies appeared to be directed toward that point.
"I am afraid they are after Muro, but I am sure if he finds himself in danger he will fire a shot to warn us. In such a situation we must attract their attention. I will detail the first squad to accompany me. All those remaining will conceal themselves, and under no circumstances show yourselves, or let your presence be known, unless you are attacked. We will go to the point beyond the two large trees, and make the demonstration there, thus drawing them away from Muro."
John with the six men designated hurried over the intervening ground, just as two shots, undoubtedly from Muro, broke the quiet, and placed the watchers on the alert. In less than ten minutes the boys heard a volley to the right, and almost instantly the opposite slope was alive with natives running to and fro in all directions, and the most peculiar cries were heard, while in the distance there was a singular rhythmic sound as though drums were being beaten, in regular time.
It sounded very weird and fascinating. The drums, if such they were, had different keys, and their companions did not appear to be able to give any information about them.
While thus waiting for John to appear, the watchers were surprised to see the force which was between Uraso and themselves, rushing alongside the hill, and directly toward their place of concealment. Here was a problem, not contemplated by John, and the boys consulted the men with them.
Harry said: "I will do what has always been our custom, that is first show ourselves, and indicate that we do not wish to be enemies, and try to gain their confidence."
"I think some of the men should try to talk to them. It is possible that they may be acquainted with their language. You remember the one we captured could understand what Muro said," suggested George.
It should be stated that after they landed on the island, four days previously, they had made a short excursion into the interior, where they were attacked by a tribe, of which one of the men was captured, after being wounded, and then taken by the Professor on board the Pioneer, and carried to Wonder Island.
The savages came forward apparently without knowing of the existence of our party, and when within two hundred feet Harry, and Tarra, one of the most intelligent of the islanders, stepped forward, and waved their hands.
The natives stopped in astonishment. Tarra spoke to them, but they were mute. Then Tarra turned to Harry, and rubbed his nose, and made a sign of friendship. After some hesitation the leader, who was, from all appearance a chief, answered, that they demanded the delivery to them of the wounded man. After this was interpreted Harry assured him that the man would be restored safe and sound, as soon as he was cured.
At this information the Chief told Tarra that he lied, and that he had been taken for the purpose of being sacrificed. He was assured that such was not the case, as they did not believe in sacrificing human beings.
The Chief then demanded that they leave the island at once, or they would kill all of them. Tarra laughed at this announcement, and his demeanor was such as to astound the natives. "You do not know what you say," said Tarra. "The white people who are with us have fire guns, which kill when they speak," and he held up one of them, and the boys were amused to see how quickly they began to waver and look about for shelter.
"We have not come here to injure you," said Tarra. "We want to be friends."
This appeal did not affect the Chief, but seeing his men disappear he silently withdrew to the north. They had scarcely gone before Uraso and his men appeared in the tall grass beyond, and were most heartily welcomed by the boys.
Uraso laughed as he related their experience. He said that the band came up, after John and the party left, and in order to make as big a showing as possible he and his companions hid in the grass, being separated from each other twenty feet or more, thus making a line over a hundred feet in length.
The savages did not know that the entire line was occupied only by seven men. To all appearances the waving of the grass at the different points along the line, indicated to them the presence of a large force. As a result they started for the east, instead of going to the south, as Uraso had calculated they would do, and which indeed they would have done had they not heard the peculiar savage-made signals of the party which was hunting Muro.
The movement of the band in that direction drove them directly toward the watchers who had been left behind by John, and for them to meet a second party, immediately after they left Uraso, must have been a most astonishing thing to them.
But the savages were still more confounded, when, after leaving the boys, they learned from the signals that a third party (the one with John), was still further to the east.
The first evidence the boys had, that the last party had reached the main band of savages, was the recurrence of the same peculiar sounds that were heard during the night.
"They are telling them that we are all over the island. They are worried about the situation," said Uraso. "John purposely took the men forward in order to create the impression that our people might be found everywhere."
"Did you hear the shots that Muro fired?" asked George.
"Yes; they were on all sides of him, undoubtedly, but I am satisfied he is all right now."
"What makes you think so?"
"For the reason that the natives are retreating, and dare not attack him. The last signs were those indicating danger. They were entirely different from those sent out last night."
The peculiar drum beats ceased. Only occasionally could the plaintive signal cry be heard, and after waiting for more than half hour, the boys were delighted to see John and Muro appear on the distant hill, accompanied by the men who were detailed with him.
Muro's story was an interesting one. He went directly east for a distance of nearly two miles, passing between two different parties, who were, of course, unaware of his presence. He sent the messenger back when he met the first natives, and when this messenger was on his way back he found the savages before him, and they made a rush which he stopped by the shot which John and the boys heard.
After he had passed the second lot of natives he ascended the second hill, and beheld, far in the east, the open sea. This, he knew, was a matter of prime importance to them, as he felt assured it could not be more than five miles distant.
While investigating the shore line, in order to select some particular marking point, by means of which they might be able to direct the Pioneer, he was surrounded by the natives. Not that they knew he was at that particular place, but, as he was now near the rocky headland which he was seeking, it occurred to him that they might be going on the same mission, and before he could extricate himself a small band intercepted him.
He told them that they were friends and not enemies, and tried to win them over by promises of reward. For some reason or other they declined to treat with him, and he then had to resort to the rifle to impress them with the invisible power which he possessed.
This was done by the two shots which the boys heard. They were of course awed by the explosion, and by the effect of the shots, and since it did not seem to bring about the desired results, he coolly marched away, and told them that they dared not follow him.
His bravery undoubtedly proved his salvation, for they were too much astounded to move at his audacity. He did not go far, because he knew that his safety lay in keeping himself concealed, since he felt assured that it would not be long before John would resort to some device to attract their attention.
His calculations were justified, for within a quarter of an hour he heard the volley which John ordered, and in an in creditable short space of time the woods were cleared of the watching natives, who, undoubtedly, were on the alert to capture him.
"The boys went with me to the foot of the hill," said John. "I knew Muro would fire three shots if he were in danger. When we were half way up the hill, we saw the natives stealthily moving around the hill, as though trying to encircle the position among the rocks. It was enough to indicate to me that Muro was the one they were stalking.
"We did not shoot at the natives, but intended it merely as a warning. It was sufficient, for they made for cover at once, and within ten minutes we heard Muro's signal, and found him safe."
"But isn't that fine about the sea?" said Harry with enthusiasm.
"Yes; and that means we must now send a message to the landing place. Muro, did you see enough of the shore line to enable you to describe it?" asked John.
"I was not near enough to tell exactly, but I believe it is directly east of our landing place, but, of course, on the opposite side of the island," was his response.
"That will be near enough. Our work is on this side of the island. As soon as we have quieted down a little you will hear some news," said John as he glanced at the boys significantly.
The runner was directed to proceed to the landing place, and to remain there during the night. He was then to return the first thing in the morning, and would find the party camped at the rocky height beyond.
Without waiting for further explanations, and details of experiences, they started for the place where they might find some shelter from the numerous foes, and at which place they might be able to formulate a plan to get into communication with the natives.
It was late in the afternoon when they gained the rocky heights, and saw the wild nature of the surroundings.
"How did you know this place was here?" asked Harry.
"I was here day before yesterday, and it was from this place we started when we heard your first guns in the battle you had with the natives," was John's answer.
"But how does it happen that you did not see the ocean?"
"Well, are you able to see the ocean anywhere from this point?" he was asked.
The question was a natural one, for when Muro came over the last hill to the south the sea was visible, but the rocky point was to the north, and thus out of range.
"Did you hear the singular drum-like sounds this afternoon?"
"They were drums," answered John, "and most peculiar ones, too. I have not seen the ones used by the natives here, but they have the same resonant sounds made by certain African tribes, and also by some South American savages."
"What is it like?" was Harry's next question.
"They are made of flat pieces of wood, very thin, laid over open-topped gourds. The gourds are, of course, dried, and the dryer they are, the more resonant the sound."
"Why, that is something like the Xylophone."
"Exactly so. That instrument is of savage origin. Instead of gourds some tribes use calabashes, which grow to enormous size, and they are highly prized owing to the quality of the sound they produce when used in this way."
"But the ones we heard had different tones."
"They use wooden strips of different lengths, exactly like the Xylophone. They are called Marimbas, balafongs and sansas, by the various tribes."
While George, Harry and Uraso, were scouting to the north they unexpectedly came around the corner of a hill, from which they could see a beautiful valley running to the north, and directly opposite, on a little plateau, was a type of mountain deer, standing like a sentinel near the precipitous edge, while below were dozens feeding.
The boys dared not shoot at them, but they remembered the place, and made up their minds that as soon as they had made friends of the natives they would have a hunt in this section.
CAPTURE OF THE VILLAGE
The most trying time for all adventurers and explorers, is after night has set in. During the daytime there is always plenty to take up one's attention and energies, but as the sun goes down the world seems to contract into a very small space, and when enemies are near the burden of waiting is a doubly trying one.
The boys had spent many such nights. Whenever John or the Professor were about these hours were always enjoyed, because like all healthy boys, they were ever on the alert to ask questions which happened to be suggested by the experiences of the day.
Now, it is a singular thing, that there is no selfishness in education. True education is charitable. Those who crave it with the most eagerness, are always the foremost in wishing to impart it to others. The honest learner does not resent the listening ear of his fellow pupils.
Uraso and Muro, the two chiefs, who were the first to conceive the advantages of education at the hands of John and the Professor, were always on the alert at the evening meetings, whenever their duties permitted it, and hundreds of the natives of Wonder Island craved the privilege of hearing the conversations which took place on all sorts of topics.
In Unity, the capital of Wonder Island, schools had been established and were flourishing, and all the children were pupils, so that within another generation there would be a tremendous change for the better among those people.
There was nothing more enjoyable to the boys than to see the intense interest manifested by the common natives, when night came on, and they expected one of the treats which they knew would be in store for them.
On these occasions George and Harry were usually the questioners, but many times they saw that some of the men seemed to desire additional information, and by degrees the boys encouraged them to put the questions, and to seek inquiries.
This had a very stimulating effect. John was delighted at the spirit thus developed, and he gave it a still broader range by refusing sometimes to answer the questions, and thus inviting answers from the men themselves.
Thus discussion developed. It taught them to begin to think for themselves. If men know that the ready answer is always at hand, it prevents the mind from expanding. The evenings, therefore, were seasons of enjoyment, alike to the men as well as to the boys.
After they had reached the cove in the rocks, and all the dispositions had been made for the night, John warned the men that while the natives were no doubt, in consternation, the utmost care must be observed to prevent any surprises.
The moon had not yet arisen, but there was a beautiful clear sky. The great Southern Cross hung in the heavens like a giant lantern. On one side, and on line with each other, shone the two brightest stars in the heavens, the first being the Dog Star Sirius, and the next in order, Canopus, the one white, and the other a yellowish white.
Then, on the other side of the Great Cross, sparkled Antares, the brilliant red star, of the first magnitude, while Spica, another star made up a most remarkable combination of heavenly orbs.
George had always been impressed with the appearance and the arrangement of the stars, and he was struck by the intense interest which all savages manifested in astronomy.
"Your observations are correct," said John, when the discussion began. "Almost all of the savage rites, their feasts and religious ceremonials, have something to do with the appearances and the movements of the heavenly bodies."
"I suppose the grouping of the stars, when they named these groups of the planets after animals, and the like, was done by the ancients, and really meant something in a religious way," ventured Harry.
"It is difficult really to determine the origin of what is called the Zodiac. From the evidence attainable it was known to the Babylonians, over 2300 years before the Christian era. They divided the heavens into twelve parts, each cluster of stars representing some fanciful animal or being, such as the Lion, or the Bear, or the Dragon."
"Isn't it funny that the tribes here, as well as some on Wonder Island have an idea that the dark moon is caused by the Great Spirit trying to hide it in anger?" asked George.
"It is singular when it is considered that the same superstition is found in many, many tribes, on different continents, and it induces the belief that this idea had one common origin, and that the people all sprang from one source, or, that the different peoples worked out the ideas independently of each other."
This statement caused considerable discussion, the natives being of the opinion that the idea was worked out by the different peoples and could not have been spread broadcast by one set of people.
"Why do you think it could not have come from one race?" asked George, as Uraso urged.
"Because," he answered, "how did the people in olden times cross the big ocean? Even now, people like my own, dare not venture on the sea, for any distance from shore."
"But," said John, "the surface of the earth was not originally like it is now. In many places over the earth, new lands have appeared,—that is, they come up out of the sea, and other lands have disappeared. We have records of islands, and parts of continents, hundreds of times larger than Wonder Island, which have disappeared in a single day. One of those, near Japan, sank, and engulfed over 200,000 people."
"You surprise me," said Muro.
"Furthermore, there is pretty conclusive evidence that the continents of Europe and America, were once joined, or that there was an immense continent, called Atlantis between the eastern and western hemispheres."
"I read something on that subject some time ago, in which the writer denied that such a thing was possible," said Harry.
"I am aware of that, but there are some things which are difficult to explain, unless the two hemispheres were once united, or, at any rate, were close enough together to permit travel from one part to the other."
"What evidence is there on that point?"
"Well, in the first place, the root of the languages in Central America, and in Mexico, are the same as in the corresponding latitude in Europe and Africa. Then the Pyramids of Mexico are built on the same plan, and located, astronomically, the same as those in Egypt."
"But could not the ancients have crossed the seas, and in that way given the same knowledge to both sections?"
"There is absolutely no evidence that the ancients had vessels capable of traversing 2000 miles of ocean."
"But the book I read said that the Western Hemisphere merely broke away from the main body of the land, and that is why the people here knew all that those in Europe had learned."
"That is very plausible, and for the purpose of giving you a fair understanding of the matter, I make a sketch, showing (Fig. 2), the Atlantean theory, in which the western shores of Europe and Africa, and the eastern shores of North and South America are outlined, and between them, in dotted lines, is Atlantis, the only part of that vast continent now being visible being the Azore Islands, at the northern extremity."
"But what evidence is there that such a continent existed? Is it only a theory?"
"It is supported by some evidence, much of which, like the account which the Egyptian priests gave to Solon, would take too long to state; but some years ago, while Darwin was engaged in making the deep sea soundings in the ship Challenger, it was found that the bed of the Atlantic showed a raised plateau, where the legendary Atlantis was claimed to be."
"But might it not be possible that the other theory could be correct, also,—that is, that North America merely broke away, and in breaking away, left Atlantis as an island?"
"I do not see how it can be reconciled. In the first sketch (Fig. 2), note the shape of the continent of Atlantis. Now, in the next sketch (Fig. 3), I have brought the two continents close up to each other. The outlines appear similar, and it would be difficult to make them fit together, if Atlantis should be placed there, or left in that space, after the breaking apart."
The discussion was closed for the night and arrangements made for sleep and sentry duty.
Frequently during the night the beating of the singular drums was heard. After the entertainment of the evening both Muro and Uraso undertook some scouting on their own account. The boys were awake early, and then learned of their expeditions.
Three miles north of the rocky point the main village was located. They had crept forward cautiously until close enough to learn that there must be fully five hundred inhabitants. But what was more surprising still, was the evidence they obtained that the tribes believed in the Hoodoos and the witch doctors.
The boys were jubilant at the information, and John was full of smiles as he imparted the information. The difficulty was to get into communication with the natives, as their efforts of the preceding day did not offer much encouragement in that direction.
The fact that the people on the island observed peculiar rites was evidence to John that they must be steeped in the superstitions that are a necessary part of the craft of the witch doctors, and to the boys, as well as to Uraso and Muro, the opportunity for John to match his intelligence with the crafty Krishnos, was awaited with interest.
It was shown on Wonder Island, that while the people had the most implicit confidence in their medicine men, they were the first to cause their overthrow when it was shown that they maintained their superiority through deceit.
Before nine o'clock the drums began to beat. They were plainly heard, as there was a slight breeze from that direction. John selected fifteen of the warriors, and accompanied by the boys, and Muro and Uraso, started for the village.
"You are to remain here until you get word from us. If you should hear heavy firing it will be the signal for you to come on without delay. In such a case approach cautiously, and rush them, so as to reach us. We do not want to cause the loss of a single life among them, except as a last resort to save our own. Otherwise you are not to leave the cove. One must be sent to the height beyond, to keep a watch for the Pioneer.
"If the vessel is sighted send a runner to the shore, and try to get into communication with it, so they may know where we are.
"As soon as Tarra returns, send him forward to us without delay. He should be back before noon to-day." John was thus precise to deliver the instructions, because he did not know what their reception was likely to be at the village.
As stated, his prime object was to prevent the sacrifice of captives, if such there should be, or to put off the rites which he knew would take place that day and the next.
They marched down the hill, taking all precautions on the way, but they met no opposition. Beyond them was a well wooded plain, and at intervals they could see, in the distance, detached huts, and in many places evidences of crude cultivation of the soil.
The huts were unoccupied, but it was evident from their appearance that they had been used up to that very day.
"I cannot understand why no people are living here," remarked George.
"They have gone to the village to attend the sacred rites," responded Uraso.
They were now less than a mile from the village, which could be seen in the distance through the trees. Something unusual was taking place to their left, and more than a mile away. Uraso agreed to go in that direction, and gain the slight elevation, which might afford him an opportunity to discover the cause of the excitement.
There was considerable shouting, and then the beating of the drums, which they had not heard since the early morning. Uraso was gone not to exceed a half hour.
"They are having something unusual in that quarter. A number of natives have just come in, and a hundred, or more, from the village met the visitors. I cannot account for the demonstration," observed one of the boys.
"It is quite likely," suggested John, "that some other tribe has come in to attend the ceremonies."
"I do not think so, because the visitors belong to the same people who live in the village."
John was determined to go on, and they proceeded, reaching the outlying portion of the village, just as the visitors, and those from the village were entering it from the other angle.
"They have a prisoner there," said Muro. "I am sure that man in the first group is being conducted to the village."
"Unquestionably, Muro is correct. It is plain that a party of the villagers have captured the man, and the excitement we heard was caused by that fact." And John began to speculate on the probability of the island containing more than the one tribe.
"That man is a native, I am sure," was Uraso's observation.
"That looks like Tarra," said George, in excitement.
This announcement had an electrical effect on those present. If such should prove to be the case, what likelihood was there that he had delivered the message at the landing? Was he captured going, or coming.
"It looks to me as though he was captured this morning," observed Harry, "because if he had been taken last night, on his way over, they would not wait until to-day to bring him in."
This looked like a reasonable supposition; but they must first make sure that it was Tarra.
"Forward march!" said John.
But before they had time to go far the whole town seemed to be alive. From every part of the village men were running, and forming in the open space next the first row of huts.
It was a most curious proceeding that the boys now witnessed. In the center of the warriors was a large man, with a curious garb. On each side of him were noticed men with dissimilar clothing, but bedecked with every sort of device, the peculiarities of which could not be distinguished, owing to the distance.
"That large man in the middle, is the Chief, and those about him are the witch doctors. The Chief has brought the witch doctors so as to terrify and destroy us," and John laughed as he remembered some of the wiles of that class on Wonder Island.
To the beating of the drums, the Chief marched forward, his men following, and closing in on his sides to afford him protection. John motioned Uraso and Muro to step forward, and they advanced twenty feet beyond the warriors, and awaited the Chief.
The latter stopped when within hailing distance, and John held up a hand. Uraso then addressed the Chief, telling him that they came as friends, and not as enemies, and desired to be present at the ceremonies about to take place.
He also recited that they came from a neighboring island, where they had a wonderful village, where all the people were happy, and they now wanted to show, their friendship by offering presents.
The Chief was silent, and then said: "Why did you kill my people?"
"We only defended ourselves. Your warriors were the ones who attacked us. We could have killed all of your warriors if we had been enemies."
"You speak lies," answered the Chief. "Why did you take my warrior?"
"Because he was wounded and we are making him well, and will then return him to you so he can tell you that what we say is true."
"You are again speaking lies," he retorted. Notwithstanding the manner in which Uraso had steeled himself, he was visibly affected by the blunt manner in which the savage accused him, but he was judicious enough not to appear disturbed.
"Ask him," said John, "what he wants us to do to prove that we are friends, and not enemies."
The Chief, at this question, drew himself up proudly, and answered: "You are on my dominion, and you have no right to ask any favor from me. You must deliver yourself up as prisoners, and we shall then deal with you as we see fit."
"In what way will you deal with us? Have we committed a wrong? Do you intend to punish us?"
"You had no right to come here. Every one who does so without my permission, must die."
"Then you expect us to surrender so you may kill us?"
"Then our Chief tells you that he has a right to come here, and that you have no right to prevent it, and that if you try to kill us we will have the Great Spirit visit you the same as he visited your warriors the other day," said Uraso.
The Chief was astounded at the audacity of the visitors. He could not understand the presumption of Uraso, and the defiant attitude of the little group behind him.
"Then I command the Korinos to destroy you!" he shouted.
Muro turned to the boys, and smiled as he said: "Do you know what he means? He calls them Korinos. On Wonder Island they are Krishnos. That seems pretty close to the same thing."
Uraso held up a hand, as he said: "I have a Korino here (pointing to John), and he will destroy your Korinos."
The witch doctors then ranged themselves in front of the Chief, and the latter said: "They will sacrifice your friend who came to us to-day."
To the astonishment of all, Tarra was led forward, and ordered to kneel down. Then a great burly man, clothed in the garb so common to the sorceress among savage tribes, followed him with a huge knotted club.
"Tell him that if he raises the club I will order the Korino to die."
This was imparted, but it made no difference to the executioner. He stepped forward, and slowly raised the club, but before it had reached its highest point, a revolver in the hands of John spoke, and the savage dropped the club, and slowly sank to the earth.
It would be impossible to describe the consternation that showed itself at this catastrophe.
"Come here, Tarra," cried John.
Tarra leaped to his feet, and with a few bounds was at Uraso's side, while Harry jumped forward and cut the thongs that bound his hands.
The Chief was bewildered, no less than those around him. No effort was made to prevent Tarra from escaping. The other Korinos did not even go forward to the relief of their slain comrade. He lay there motionless.
"I am sorry," said John. "I must have made a miscalculation, but I am afraid he is dead."
Then one of the Korinos moved toward the fallen man. "Stop!" cried John. "It will be death for any one to touch him now!"
Uraso hurriedly informed the Chief of this new piece of information, which, in reality, caused more terror than the shot itself. What species of sorcery was this that they dared not even touch the victim who disobeyed the white Korino?
RESCUING A WHITE CAPTIVE
"Did you deliver the message at the landing place?" asked George, after Tarra was freed.
"No; they captured me late last night. I tried for hours to get through, but they were within a mile of the landing," answered Tarra.
"But where have you been all this time?"
"They took me north to another village."
But more interesting things were now happening. The witch doctor who was about to go to his fallen companion, hesitated. He turned to the Chief. The latter merely stretched out his hand, and with an impatient gesture appeared to order him on.
"I warn you!" said Uraso. "It will be death to touch him."
If there is one thing, more than another, that is liable to add terror to a low order of human beings, it is noise. It may be said that the most intelligent are not entirely devoid of the feeling of fear at inexplainable noises.
As an example, take the sensations produced by thunder and lightning, one which affects the ear, and the other the eye. During a thunderstorm, the feeling of fear becomes acute only when the roar is heard.
In this case we know what it is that produces the reverberations; but even under those circumstances many people are seriously affected by it. A terrific explosion, of which we do not know the cause, is often the source of great terror.
This is particularly true with all savage people. The drums referred to, evidence this particular feeling of awe, and the louder and more violent, the more intense is it to the untutored mind. It is with this idea in their minds that they exercise the bad spirits by driving them away by making great noises, a practice true of most savage tribes.
When John returned to Wonder Island from the United States he had taken with him several of the well-known Silencers, which, when attached to the muzzle of a gun, will so deaden the sound that no explosion is heard.
For general use, John knew that the unmuffled gun would be far more effective than those equipped with the new invention. Smokeless powder was also used in the guns which John and his company carried. The absence of smoke thus centers the mind of the native on the sound alone, and he sees the effect on the victim.
To the savage the sound and the effect of the shot produce the sensation that there is something more than human in the discharge. It is hard for them to form an idea of the connection between the report and the mission of the bullet. It is some monster which speaks in a loud voice.
But it was more than that to the islanders when they saw the witch doctor fall. There was a white Korino who spoke with a voice of thunder. They were not aware that he held something in his hand like a weapon, and the noise and the result of that noise stunned them.
John also carried a revolver with one of the silencers. When the Korino turned to the Chief, and the latter, determined not to be swayed by the power of the white man, there was but one thing for him to do. He must obey. He knew that if he shrunk from the task it would be a confession that his power was gone.
The man approached the prostrate form. "Stop!" again cried Uraso. "The white Korino will not again speak, but if he touches the body you will die!"
He stood there for a moment, irresolute, and then slowly stooped down, and with hesitation at every motion, finally touched the figure. In the meantime John had leveled the revolver with the silencer, and as the man again rose to an erect position, and glanced at John defiantly, he quickly threw up his hands and fell forward across his former companion with a shot through his arm, as it was not John's intention to kill him if it could by any possibility be avoided.
The white Korino had not spoken, as Uraso predicted, but the results were the same. The savages who were lined up on both sides of the Chief, began to waver. They were moving to the rear. The Korinos around the Chief, finally broke and fled, and when the people saw this evidence of fear on the part of their Wise Men, they could not be restrained.
The Chief followed them hurriedly. "Now, quickly, boys, fire two rounds. No; not at the natives, but up in the air."
The boys could not understand what John could mean by such an order, but they did not have an opportunity to ask the reason for it.
After the volleys John turned to Muro and Uraso, and remarked: "As soon as the men come up you and Muro must contrive in some way to find out the direction that the Korinos have taken."
They now saw the object of the volleys. It would bring up those of their party who had remained at the rocky cove. The watch for the Korinos was equally plain. The experience on Wonder Island showed that the witch doctors inhabited the caves.
In the excitement they had entirely forgotten this part of their enterprise. They thought of the treasure. John had the treasure of the records in his mind. The hills all about; the limestone formations of the elevations were ample assurance to his mind that some caverns would be found; and while they might, eventually, be able to locate the entrances, it would be better to find out where they were by watching and charting the direction they took on their way to the dark places where they hoped to rest in fancied security.
Within fifteen minutes their rear guard came into sight, rushing over the hills, all expectant to find an enemy in their front. Great was their surprise to see the village beyond, and John and his party bending over the two bodies, one of them moving and the other inert. Apparently, he and his force were unconcerned, although many savages were in the village, and in plain sight.
An examination of the fallen men made John happy, because he feared that his aim had been untrue. Both had been severely wounded, and when an hour afterwards both men were able to move, thanks to the knowledge and care of John, they were carried into the village.
Before this was done, however, John ordered the force to march boldly into the village. On the approach of the party the Chief and his followers, together with the women and children, hurriedly fled to the north.
Among the huts were found a dozen or more sick and injured men and women, and a number of old people who were unable to be carried away. John went to each, and after carefully examining them, administered medicine.
In one place they found two warriors, who had been wounded in the battle four days previously. These were given special attention, the villagers meanwhile looking on the proceeding with a feeling of awe, and wonder. They could not comprehend the care and treatment which was being given them.
John's companions were most eager to render aid, and spoke to the patients freely, telling them that they were friends, and not enemies. During this investigation into every corner of the village, George and Harry were the most active. They found many amusing things, but the care of the sick and the infirm was the first duty, and they had many willing helpers.
While thus engaged they reached a long, low thatched enclosure, so entirely different from the huts scattered about. There was no visible opening. They walked around the enclosure with more and more curiosity. Some of their companions from Wonder Island then drew near.
"We have found it!" cried one of them.
"What is it?" asked Harry.
"This is the place where they keep the captives."
"But how can we get into it?" asked George, then adding, "Get one of the hatchets, quickly."
Several men ran back and opened the packages containing their equipment, and others followed to see the prisoners. Uraso was one of the first to come up, and he was soon followed by John, all in excitement over the news. George was the first one to get a hatchet. He soon chopped a way through, and Uraso was the first to crawl into the enclosure, followed by George.
The latter staggered back, as he saw the scene before him. The enclosure was fully fifteen feet high, and occupied a space, probably, twenty feet each way. It was constructed of a species of bamboo, exceedingly hard, two rows of these paling being driven into the ground close together, so that it was impossible to see through the stockade at any point.
Within there was absolutely nothing but the bare ground, and a mass of indescribable filth, as may be imagined. Here, lying on the earth, were five men, with little or no clothing, covered with dirt and vermin. Two of them were in fairly good condition, an evidence that they had not long been prisoners.
The other three were emaciated, and what surprised the boys most was the long, matted and tangled beard of one of the three. The moment John saw that form he turned to the boys and fairly shrieked: "This is a white man. Cut down that fence, so the men can be taken out, and the moment they are removed set fire to this place."
The boys could not understand John's vehement expression.
"Shall we burn the village?" asked Harry.
"Oh, no! Burn only this enclosure, and don't let a vestige of it remain."
His orders were quickly carried out. Meanwhile, not a quarter of a mile away, were the Chief and the owners of the village, who, upon seeing the smoke and the flames, appeared to be frantic. No doubt they regarded it as a sign that the village was doomed, but they were soon reassured by the time the stockade was finally consumed, and the few watchers reported to the Chief that nothing but the prison had been destroyed.
"We have destroyed the Bastille," remarked John, "and must now take care of the prisoners." They found that it was indeed a white man who had been rescued. He was frightfully emaciated, and too weak to talk.
This was also the condition of the two natives. The other two were soon restored, after receiving nourishment, and were ready to tell their story. They had been taken two weeks previously in a battle with the tribe to the north.
Through these men they learned that there were only two tribes on the island, and that this was by far the largest, in point of numbers. There had been continual war between the two people, and the only thing which saved his tribe from extermination was the fact that they lived in the mountain regions, and were thus protected.
This information was very welcome to John and the boys. The mountains seemed to have a fascination for them,—and then, the caves, how could they forget them now?
For three hours the Chief and his people waited in the distance. John did not pay any attention to them, apparently. Shortly thereafter two of his men came in, dragging one of the former patients.
"We saw him trying to steal away," said one of the men.
"Was he going toward his people?" asked John.
"Then let him go, by all means, and tell him that we would be glad to have the Chief and his people return."
The poor fellow was astonished to learn that he was free. He was as much surprised at this as at the care which they had bestowed to cure him. He passed through the village, looking about him with furtive glances, but, at the command of John, no one paid any attention to him.
When he reached the Chief there was a long consultation, and it was evident that a momentous change was taking place. The Chief could be seen constantly glancing toward the village, and soon the self-imposed messenger returned and approached John.
"The Chief is willing to see you, and will come to you, if you wish it." This was imparted to John, and the latter responded:
"I will go with you."
He called the two chiefs Muro and Uraso, and the boys, and told them he would go with the messenger to the Chief, alone, and that they should have no fear for him.
Accompanied by the messenger, John walked boldly to the Chief, and going up, pressed his nose against him, in token of eternal friendship, and then motioned him to go back to the village.
The Chief was astounded, first, at the bravery of John in thus coming to him, and in then vowing eternal friendship.
There is something very peculiar in the characteristics of savages which forbids them from violating a peace pledge, or a treaty of friendship when entered into with the rites that they acknowledge. The most formal of these rites, is that of rubbing noses together.
How the custom originated, is not known. It is something like the kiss, in so far as it is a visible token of either love, friendship, or esteem. It is seldom that the savage violates the pledge which is thus given. John knew this, and felt assured the great Chief would respect it.
When the latter came into the village, the first sight that met his eyes, was the demolished stockade. He looked at it for a moment, in silence. Then some of the old men came forward, and began to tell him the wondrous tales of kindness.
The Chief went to his own home, and when he saw that everything was untouched, and that none of the people was harmed, he could not understand the actions of the White Chief, and so expressed his astonishment to Uraso and Muro. When he was told that the latter were Chiefs of two tribes on Wonder Island, he was still more surprised.
"Do you not fight each other?" he asked.
Uraso smiled, as he answered: "Why should we fight? There is no pleasure in killing, or in causing suffering. We used to think about those things as you do."
"What made you think otherwise?"
"The White Chief told us it was wrong, and we have found that his words were true."
"Where is this place where your tribe may be found?"
"It is on the other side of the sea, over there," answered Uraso, pointing to the west.
"Will it take long to get there?"
"It takes only one sun, and the White Chief would be so happy to take you there and show you the great village, and to see the people and the Chiefs who live together in happiness, and to learn from the people themselves how they enjoy their homes, and make the many curious things that the White Chief has brought over for you."
The Chief looked about him, and finally said: "I want to see the White Chief."
John had purposely refrained from going to the Chief's home, but Uraso accompanied him at John's request, because he was the more diplomatic, and wielded a stronger influence than Muro, owing to his remarkable personality.
John was glad of the opportunity, and the boys, as usual, were also present. The Chief's eyes followed the two boys, as they entered. He smiled at them, as John came up and greeted him.