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Title: Under the Chilian Flag - A Tale of War between Chili and Peru
Author: Collingwood, Harry, 1851-1922
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Under the Chilian Flag
A Tale of War between Chili and Peru

By Harry Collingwood
There was a state of war between Chili and Peru in the 1870s.  It was
all to do with a desert area that lay between Chili, Peru and Bolivia.
At first this desert was not particularly claimed by any of these
countries, but when it was discovered that it held rich reserves of
nitrates, the three of them fell out.

Two young Englishmen, with sea-going experience, were aboard a British
vessel trading in nitrates and other ores.  The captain was a very
disagreeable character, and they determined to leave him, and sign up
with the Chilian authorities for employment in the Chilian Navy, which
was short of officers.  They were taken on, and the rest of the book
details some of the adventures they had, and the trials and tribulations
they endured.

This is a very exciting and enjoyable book.  There are a few Spanish
words, and of course the ships have Spanish names, but you soon get used
to that.  I fully recommend it, especially if you can make it into an
audiobook. NH.




"You, Thompson, go down and send the second mate up to me.  Tell him to
leave whatever he is doing and to come up here at once.  I want to speak
to him," growled Captain Fisher of the steamer _Pericles_, turning, with
a menacing expression, to the grizzled old quartermaster who stood
beside him on the bridge.

Thompson, as though only too glad of an excuse to leave the
neighbourhood of his skipper, grunted out an assent, and, swinging round
on his heel, shambled away down the ladder leading from the bridge to
the spar-deck, and departed on his errand.

The _Pericles_ was an iron single-screw steamer of two thousand tons or
thereabout.  She was employed in the carriage of nitrates, silver ore,
hides, etcetera, between Chilian ports and Liverpool.  She was owned by
a company, which also possessed two similar vessels employed in the same
trade.  Captain Fisher, her skipper, had a considerable number of shares
in this company, a circumstance which accounted in no small measure for
the fact of his being the skipper of the _Pericles_; for a man less fit
to have the control of other men it would have been exceedingly
difficult to find.

Fisher was a man of enormous stature and splendid physique, but his
features, which would otherwise have been considered handsome, were
marred by a ferocious expression, due to his chronic condition of ill-
humour.  He was constantly "hazing" his men, and was never at a loss for
an excuse for irritating them in every possible way.  In this pleasing
occupation he was ably seconded by his first mate, an American, named
Silas Hoover.  Between the pair of them they had contrived, during the
course of the several voyages which they had performed together, to
render their men thoroughly dissatisfied almost to the verge of mutiny;
and there is little doubt that long before this the crew would have
given open and forcible expression to their feelings had it not been for
the efforts of the second mate, a young fellow of eighteen years of age,
named James Douglas.  This was the individual for whom Fisher had just
sent.  He had conceived a most virulent hatred for him, in consequence,
probably, of the fact that Douglas was the only officer in the ship for
whom the men would work willingly and for whom they showed any real
respect.  The lad had been left an orphan at an early age, and as he
showed even from he first a predilection for a seafaring life, he had
been sent by his uncle at the age of fourteen as an apprentice on board
a sailing ship, and during the four following years he had gradually
worked his way upward until now he was second mate of the _Pericles_.

Up to the time when he joined that ship he had had no cause to regret
his choice of a profession; but the six or seven months which he had
spent under Fisher had proved so thoroughly unpleasant that he had made
up his mind he would leave the ship at the first port at which she
called.  This resolve was echoed by his own particular chum, Terence
O'Meara, third engineer of the same ship, who had likewise found life on
board the _Pericles_ anything but to his liking.  The steamer was, at
the time when this story opens, on her way to Valparaiso, the principal
seaport of Chili; and, as she was now in the very centre of the South
Atlantic, Douglas hoped to escape from his tormentor in about a month's
time.  As a matter of fact, Douglas and his friend were just talking the
matter over when the grizzled old quartermaster popped his head into
Douglas's cabin with the remark, "Skipper wants to see you, sir, on the
bridge.  He told me particularly to say that he wanted you to come
_immediately_; and he do seem to be in a rare bad mood this morning, so
I shouldn't keep him waiting, sir, if I were you."

"All right, Thompson, all right," answered Douglas.  "I'll be there in a
moment."  Then, turning to Terry O'Meara, he remarked: "I wonder what
fault he will have to find this morning.  I'll wager that he only wants
to see me in order to blow me up about something, confound him!  Well,
Terry, old boy, I'll see you again when you come off duty in the
evening.  Trot along to my cabin at about ten o'clock, as usual.  Good-
bye for the time being."

With a wave of his hand, Douglas slipped out of the cabin and hurried
along the alleyway, anxious to avoid keeping Fisher waiting any longer
than was absolutely necessary.  In a few seconds he reached the foot of
the bridge ladder, and, running quickly up it, found the captain
impatiently pacing up and down, evidently in the very worst of bad

"You wish to see me, sir," said Douglas respectfully.

The skipper glared at him for a moment and then burst out with, "Yes,
you lazy young scoundrel, I do; and a precious long time you've been
coming, too.  I suppose you thought that, being off duty, you could
skulk in your cabin and do nothing.  I expect you were hatching some
mischief with that other bright spark, your friend O'Meara.  But let me
tell you, sir, I will have no idlers on board my ship.  Just remember
that; and don't let me see you talking quite so much to that young scamp
O'Meara.  But that's not what I wanted to see you about.  Why have you
not carried out my instructions as to that paint-work which I told you
to see about?  I gave you my orders three days ago, and there is no sign
as yet of the work being commenced.  What do you mean by such conduct,
sir?  What possible excuse can you have for not--"

"Pardon me, sir," interrupted Douglas.  "I fear you are making a
mistake, or that you have been misinformed.  I _did_ put the paint-work
in hand directly you told me; and the work was nearly completed when we
ran into that heavy sea yesterday.  You know that we shipped it solid
over our bows, and the paint being still wet was, of course, nearly all
washed off.  I set the men to work, however, to clean things up again,
and they have restarted the job this morning.  You can see them at work

"Yes, of course I can," roared Fisher; "and I wanted to know why you had
not seen fit to start the job until just now.  However, you have given
me an excuse, and I suppose I must accept it; but if you had carried out
my orders with a little more promptitude the paint would have been dry
before we ran into that breeze.  You can go now, sir, and take care that
I do not have cause to reprimand you again.  I am getting sick of your
laziness, incapacity, and insubordination."

Douglas turned on his heel and left the skipper without any more ado,
but his cheeks burned with indignation at the injustice of it all.  He
had carried out his orders to the letter directly they had been given
him, and it was certainly not his fault that the work had to be done
over again.  Neither was he lazy nor insubordinate; while, far from
being incapable, he had earned the good-will of every skipper with whom
he had sailed, with the solitary exception of this one.  He returned to
his cabin and lay down to think things over, with the result that he
went on duty a few hours later more than ever resolved to make this his
last voyage under Captain Fisher.  True, he would be compelled to desert
and would consequently lose his certificate, and probably have some
difficulty in getting another ship; but even that would be better than
the life he was living at present, which, he felt, was not fit for a

The days slipped slowly away, however, in spite of all the discomfort
and annoyance; and Douglas at length began to look upon his quarrels
with the skipper as unavoidable, and to treat them as a matter of
course.  The _Pericles_ rounded Cape Horn, steamed up the Chilian coast,
and on January 7, 1879, dropped her anchor in Valparaiso harbour.  The
long and dreary voyage was at an end at last!  Douglas and Terry O'Meara
had long before this completed all their plans for an early escape; and
the two lads were now standing just by the break of the poop, looking
across the blue water towards the fair city, aptly named the "Valley of

This was not the first time that the boys had been there, and both knew
the place fairly well; but this morning they seemed to notice some
indefinable change in the appearance of the city, and tried to discover
in what it consisted.

Presently Douglas started up with the remark: "I know what it is, Terry,
old boy; there's some tremendous excitement or other ashore there.  If
you will take a squint through this glass you will see that the shops
are all shut, and that a good many of the streets are barricaded.  Up
there at the back of the town there is a body of Chilian soldiers busily
throwing up earthworks or constructing a fort of some kind.  Take my
word for it, lad, there's a revolution in progress there, or something
akin to it.  What luck, Terry!  We shall be able to get right into the
thick of it; and I shall be much mistaken if we don't find plenty of
employment ready for us when we get ashore.  But what on earth's all
this?  This looks as though something more serious than a mere
revolution were in progress!"

Douglas's exclamation of astonishment had been drawn from him by the
sight of a squadron of warships which had just put in their appearance
round the point, and which were slowly steaming in column of line ahead,
and were evidently making their way toward the warship anchorage in the
roads.  There were five of them altogether, two large and three small
ships, all flying the Chilian ensign.  By means of the glass the lads
made out that the first two craft were the _Almirante Cochrane_ and the
_Blanco Encalada_, both battleships.  Then came the corvettes
_O'Higgins_ and _Chacabuco_; and, lastly, the sloop _Esmeralda_.
Presently they all slowed up and anchored; and as they did so there came
the sound of tumultuous cheering from the city, to which the ships
replied by dipping their ensigns.

"As you say, Jim, this is no revolution," answered Terry.  "War has
probably broken out between Chili and some other country--I wonder
which.  Peru, I expect.  And it seems to me, my lad, that we have just
arrived in the very nick of time.  Here is the chance of our lives, and
we shall be foolish if we don't make the most of it."

"What do you mean?" replied Jim; "I don't quite follow--"

"Why, simply this," answered Terry.  "We want to get away from this
steamer, don't we?  And in the usual course of events we might have some
difficulty in finding another; but here is our opportunity ready made
for us.  Chili is apparently at war with some other country; and the
thing for us to do is to get ashore and enlist in the Chilian navy.
They are sure to want all the men they can lay hands on.  We have had
plenty of experience; and you may be certain that no awkward questions
will be asked.  They will accept us, and be more than glad to get us;
thus, you see, we shall have employment immediately, instead of having
to wait, perhaps, several months for it.  We are indeed in luck's way!
The only question is, How are we to get ashore? for I don't suppose the
`old man' will grant any leave, under the circumstances.  We will try
him first, however, and if he refuses we shall have to think of some
other means of getting away from the ship.  Let us go to your cabin and
talk the matter over; this is a business which we had better decide as
soon as possible."

He slipped his arm through Douglas's and the pair went off to the
latter's cabin, where they spent the whole afternoon in making plans,
with the result that, by the evening, they had perfected all their
arrangements.  They applied to the captain for leave in the usual way,
but, as they had anticipated, it was refused, so they had to look about
for some means of getting away from the ship without being observed, and
they managed it very simply, thus.

The next morning a boat laden with fruit came out to the _Pericles_, in
the hope that her crew would purchase some, as the ship had been ordered
by the authorities to remain at her moorings until further notice, in
consequence of the wharfage being required for military purposes.  Jim
and Terry thereupon got into conversation with the man in charge of the
boat, and made arrangements with him to come off that same night in a
small skiff and take them ashore.

It required both time and money to induce the fellow to fall in with the
scheme, but he at last consented; and he proved as good as his word, for
at nine o'clock that evening he quietly dropped alongside, gave the pre-
arranged signal, and a few minutes later both the young men, with all
their belongings, were being pulled ashore to seek their fortune in a
new land and under another flag.  They little knew, when they stepped
ashore at the Custom House quay, what adventures were in store for them,
what trials they would be called upon to undergo, what perils they would
pass through; but even if they could have foreseen them all it is very
doubtful whether they would have hesitated.  They paid the man, and,
chartering a conveyance, drove away to the nearest hotel, where they put
up for the remainder of the night, fully determined that the following
morning should see their project put into execution, and that the
evening should find them duly enrolled as officers in the Chilian navy.



Although the two lads went to bed early, intending to get a good night's
rest so that they might be up and doing betimes the next morning, they
soon found that sleep was well-nigh out of the question, by reason of
the uproar that never ceased the whole night through.  The mercurial
Chilians were wrought up to a pitch of the highest excitement and
enthusiasm, and bands of them persisted in marching through the streets,
shouting _vivas_ at the top of their voices and singing war-songs.  It
appeared that the inhabitants of Valparaiso had been dreading an attack
on that city by the Peruvian fleet, although war had not as yet been
actually declared; and the activity which Terry and Jim had observed on
the heights behind the city was due to the fact that the soldiers and
citizens had been busily engaged in throwing up earthworks and other
defences in order to repel the expected attack.  But the timely arrival
of part of the Chilian fleet, under Admiral Rebolledo Williams, had put
an end to their anxiety, and they were now testifying to the relief they
felt in the manner usually adopted by Southern nations.

After lying in bed for some two or three hours, endeavouring
unsuccessfully to get to sleep, the two lads rose and looked out of
their window at the scenes that were being enacted in the streets below
them, and when they had been thus employed for a quarter of an hour they
no longer felt any desire for sleep.  Huge bonfires had been lighted
wherever there was room to place them, and processions of men and women
marched to and fro, carrying torches, and singing their national songs
with astonishing verve and enthusiasm.  Groups of people collected round
the bonfires, and danced until the early hours of the morning, when they
gradually broke up and dispersed to their homes.  It was broad daylight
before the last of the revellers had disappeared; and the two lads,
recognising the futility of now attempting to secure any repose, dressed
themselves and went out on a tour through the city which should occupy
them until the time arrived for the public offices to open, when they
would be able to set about their business.

The two lads had not proceeded very far on their way when they
perceived, some distance ahead of them, a small crowd of people
clustering round a building, and they crossed the road to see what the
disturbance was about.  They soon perceived that the building was a
gunsmith's shop, and that the excitement was due to the fact that the
people outside were bent on securing arms and ammunition for themselves,
as a protection against the marauders who were wont to infest the town
upon the slightest excuse, and who were now, under cover of the
excitement caused by the impending war, committing all sorts of
atrocities, which the authorities were very much too busy with other
matters to put a stop to.

"Look here, Douglas," exclaimed Terry, clutching his companion's sleeve,
"it seems to me that we ought to follow the example of these people.
Everybody in this place appears to go about armed, and we had better do
the same, in case we should happen to get into some sort of trouble.  It
shows what a state the city must be in, when the only place open the
whole night through happens to be a gun-shop!  How much money did you
bring out with you, Jim?  Enough to purchase a couple of revolvers and
some ammunition?"

Douglas hurriedly searched his pockets, and the two lads found that
their joint possessions amounted to about fifty pesos (they had
exchanged their English money at the hotel for Chilian currency).
Acting upon Terry's advice, Jim now stepped into the shop and purchased
two revolvers and a packet of ammunition for them, paying about forty
pesos of their money for the weapons.  Once outside the shop, the two
lads slipped round a corner, loaded the pistols, and slipped them into
their hip-pockets.  Having done this, they started out once more on
their tour of exploration, feeling much more secure than they had
previously done.

It was by this time about seven o'clock in the morning; and as the
Government Offices would not be open until nine or ten o'clock they had
still fully two hours to fill up before they could present themselves
for enlistment in the Chilian service.  Therefore, feeling somewhat
hungry, they strolled up and down the streets, on the look-out for some
cafe or eating-house where they might refresh the inner man; and, after
about a quarter of an hour's search, they found a place in a side-street
which promised to afford what they required.  As they were about to
enter, Douglas seized his friend's arm and remarked--

"I say, Terry, I don't know how it strikes you, but this looks to me to
be a very curious sort of place, and the surroundings do not appear
precisely what you might call select.  Don't you think we had better go
on a little farther and see whether we cannot find a more respectable-
looking place?"

Terry cast his eyes over the cafe, and up and down the street in which
it was situated.  Unlike the rest of the town, everything in this
district seemed to be comparatively quiet, and there were very few
people about, so he shook off his companion's restraining hand and

"Oh, I don't know, Jim; I think this place looks right enough, and it is
quiet, and that is more than you can say for the other parts of the
town.  I think we shall be quite safe in risking it; let us go inside
and see what the proprietor can give us to eat, for, to tell you the
truth, I am most ravenously hungry."

"All right," replied Douglas; "if you don't mind, I am sure I don't; we
ought to be able to take care of ourselves, with the little toys which
we have in our pockets.  Come on, then; let's go inside."

The two lads thereupon walked in through the door, and immediately found
themselves in a large room which was filled with little marble-topped
tables, each made to accommodate four persons, while a high counter, on
which were coffee-urns, trays of cakes, flasks of spirits, etcetera, ran
down the whole length of the apartment.  Early as was the hour, the
place was very far from being empty; indeed, the lads found, upon
looking round, that nearly every table was occupied, with the exception
of one nearly in the middle of the room, and a second standing in a
somewhat dark corner, close to a door which apparently communicated with
the back premises.

"The place seems pretty full, doesn't it, Terry?" queried Jim, taking a
comprehensive look round.  "I should scarcely have expected that there
would have been so many folk about at such an early hour.  These people
must have been up all night.  Shall we take that table over in the
corner, there?  It is out of the way, and I don't feel very much
inclined to take the one in the middle of the room, to be stared at by
everybody in the place.  What do you propose to have for breakfast?
There doesn't seem to be a very wide selection, but perhaps they may be
able to supply us with something eatable."

"Well," answered O'Meara, "for myself, I should like some fried eggs, if
we could get them.  I see they have coffee on tap in these big urns
yonder.  What say you?"

Douglas agreed that he too could relish a few eggs; and the two lads
stepped up to the counter and inquired in their best Spanish, which they
had picked up during the course of frequent visits to South American
ports, whether they could be supplied with the required comestibles.

To their astonishment, the proprietor did not at once reply, but, after
staring hard at them for a few seconds, slipped quickly off into the
back part of the shop, where they heard him speaking volubly in Spanish
to some unseen person or persons.  The lads could not, at that distance,
understand all that he said, but Jim fancied that he caught the words
_espias_ and _atacar_.  He naturally did not connect them in any way
with his friend or himself, however; and when the proprietor returned in
a minute or two, Jim renewed his request.  This time the fellow was all
smiles and bows, and he assured the _senores_ that their order would be
most promptly attended to.  The boys therefore seated themselves at the
table which they had selected, and waited for the food to be brought to
them, examining meanwhile the motley collection of people in the
building.  There seemed to be men present of every shade of colour under
the sun, from the pink-skinned representative of some northern country,
down to the blackest negro; and their costumes were as varied as they
were picturesque.  But what gave the lads a momentary qualm of
uneasiness was the fact that every person in the place had suddenly
become very quiet, whereas, when the boys entered, the cafe fairly
hummed with conversation; and they also noticed that nearly every pair
of eyes was directed toward themselves, while the expressions on the
men's faces were, to put it very mildly, decidedly hostile.

Presently Douglas remarked to his chum: "I say, Terry, old boy, it
appears almost as though these fellows did not quite approve of our
presence here; I wonder what's wrong?  The Chilians have always been
very friendly disposed toward us British, so I suppose it is this
anticipated war which has upset their equilibrium a bit.  All the same,
I wish the landlord would bring along our meal, so that we might finish
it and get out; I don't like the look of things here at all."

"Neither do I," replied Terry; "but if there should be a row, remember
that we must not get separated, whatever we do; and don't use your
pistol until you are absolutely compelled to do so.  Should you,
however, be obliged to shoot, you must shoot to kill; for when once we
open fire we shall have all our work cut out to get away alive.  Ah,
here comes our breakfast at last; so let us get on with it as quickly as
possible, and take no notice of the menacing looks of this crowd.  If
they see that we don't appear to notice anything wrong they may quiet
down a bit."

"Right you are," replied Douglas; and he began his meal with a very
excellent appetite despite the uncongenial surroundings.  The two boys
carried out their programme of not appearing to notice the forbidding
glances which everywhere met them whenever they raised their eyes from
their plates; but presently their ears caught the sound of angry
whispers, then low mutterings, until in a few minutes furious voices
plainly directed against themselves were heard from every corner of the
room.  One man jumped upon a chair and began to harangue the crowd,
speaking in some South American patois which the boys did not
understand, and pointing toward them with angry gestures, while several
other rough-looking characters had risen to their feet and were
gradually edging down toward the corner where Jim and Terry were seated.

"Jim," exclaimed Terry, suddenly glancing up, "there is no doubt that
these unwashed scoundrels very strongly object to our presence here, for
some reason or other; I don't much like the idea of running away, but
since we are outnumbered by about ten to one I really think that
discretion will prove the better part of valour in the present case.
Let us pay our score at once, and get out--if we can," he added under
his breath.

The lads rose to their feet and walked, as unconcernedly as they could,
toward the counter, upon which Terry rapped with a coin, to attract the
landlord's attention.  But that gentleman had, for some reason or other,
vanished, and, rap as they might, no one put in an appearance; while all
the time the crowd continued steadily to close in on them, with angry
looks and threatening gestures.

"Come away, Terry," whispered Douglas; "we must not stand on ceremony
any longer.  We shall have to make a bolt for it, or we shall not get
out at all; put your pistol in a side-pocket, so that you can get at it
easily, and then come along."

Under cover of one of the tables the lads shifted their revolvers from
one pocket to the other, and then began to walk toward the door; but no
sooner had they started than, with a hoarse growl of rage, a score of
men, drawing daggers and knives from various portions of their clothing,
dashed at the boys, upsetting chairs and tables as they came, and
evidently bent upon taking their lives, if possible.

As a matter of fact it was only the obstructive presence of the numerous
tables and chairs that saved the two lads from that first wild rush.
With all the agility of youth they sprang back to the corner where they
had taken their meal, put their backs against the wall for safety's
sake, and drawing their pistols, presented them at the crowd of furious
men, Terry inquiring, at the same time, in the best Spanish he could
muster, the meaning of this murderous assault.

Seeing the muzzles of the deadly revolvers pointed at them, their
assailants paused for a few seconds, while one of the men--a gigantic
Chilian with a blanket poncho over his shoulders--took it upon himself
to answer the lad's inquiry.

"Why are we going to kill you, you dogs?" he roared.  "Why?--because you
are a brace of Peruvian spies.  _Caramba_! we know very well why you
have come here; but neither of you shall leave this place alive.  We
have a quick way with people of your stamp in this country."

"But," exclaimed Douglas, at the top of his voice, "you are all making a
mistake; we are no Peruvian spies, but a couple of British sailors, who
have left our ship, the _Pericles_, in order to enlist in the Chilian
navy, and fight against the Peruvians, not for them.  We are merely
waiting for the offices to open, in order to proceed there and give in
our names as candidates for service."

The only reply to this statement was a volley of oaths and mocking
laughter, interspersed with the words "liar," "traitors," and "Kill the
Inca dogs"; while, recovering from their momentary alarm at the sight of
the pistols, the crowd again began to surge forward toward the two lads.
The situation was becoming exceedingly critical; therefore, again
raising his revolver, Douglas pointed it straight at the foremost man
and shouted, "One step farther and I fire!"

The fellow hesitated for the fraction of a second, then his hand shot
forward swiftly as a flash of lightning, and the knife which it had
held, missing Jim's ear by a hair's-breadth, stuck quivering in the
panelling behind him.

With a growl of rage Douglas pulled the trigger of his pistol, firing
twice in quick succession, while, close beside him, Terry's revolver
also spoke out, and so close were their foremost assailants that every
bullet took effect, four men plunging heavily forward to the ground,
almost within arm's length of the two boys.  This circumstance, so far
from intimidating the Chilians, seemed but to stimulate their rage, and
knives began to flash through the air like so many silver flying-fish,
thrown, too, with such force that had one of them but hit its mark it
would have closed the recipient's earthly career on the spot.

"By the Lord Harry!" ejaculated Terry, firing rapidly into the thick of
the crowd, "this is getting rather too warm to be pleasant; we shall
have fired away all the cartridges in our pistols presently, and they
will certainly give us no time to reload.  What is to be our next move,

Douglas, however, had already been glancing hastily about him, in the
endeavour to discover some pathway of escape, and, even as Terry spoke,
his eyes lighted upon the door close to which they had been sitting
while they were taking their breakfast.

"Edge along toward the right a little, Terry," he exclaimed; "our only
hope of escape is through that door.  God grant that it may not be

Meanwhile O'Meara, availing himself of a momentary pause on the part of
their assailants, had contrived to insert a few fresh cartridges in his
pistol, and, firing several more shots right into the "brown," began to
edge his way along to the door, in which manoeuvre he was quickly
followed by Douglas.  Then, shooting out his left hand behind him, he
felt for the knob, and turned it, knowing that their lives depended upon
whether it was fastened or otherwise.  To his inexpressible relief, the
handle turned, and the door opened under his touch, while, luckily for
the two lads, it opened away from instead of toward them.

Emptying the remaining barrels of their revolvers, the boys at once
slipped through, and pushed the door close behind them, just as a
further volley of knives came hurtling through the air, to stick
quivering in the panelling, while, with a hoarse roar of rage, the
Chilians surged forward bent on preventing the escape of the supposed
spies.  But by the greatest good luck there happened to be a lock and a
couple of bolts on the farther side of the door, and these the two lads
slipped home in a trice, interposing between themselves and their
bloodthirsty foes a barrier which they hoped would gain them a few
minutes' grace.

Once on the right side of the door, they hurriedly reloaded their
pistols, and looked round for an exit from the apartment, while the air
resounded with the sound of the blows which thundered upon the frail
woodwork behind them.  Clearly the door would not stand more than a
minute or so, and it was necessary to hasten if they were to escape
after all.  But, look as they might, there seemed to be no means of
egress, until Terry suddenly shouted, "That door will be down in a
second, Jim.  We must get behind this tier of casks; they will afford us
a certain amount of shelter, at any rate."

In a moment the boys had slipped behind the stack of barrels, and there,
right in front of them, was the door for which they had been searching.

"Come along, Terry," exclaimed Douglas; "this way for your life!"  And
like a flash they darted through the door, finding themselves in a dimly
lighted passage, which looked as though it led into the back premises of
the cafe.  Just as they entered the passage they heard a crashing and
splintering of wood, followed by shouts of rage, and they knew that the
frail barrier between themselves and their pursuers was destroyed.

Down the passage they ran at top speed, round a sharp corner at the
bottom, and then emerged into a large _patio_ or courtyard.  A rapid
glance round revealed no exit from the place; and already they could
hear their enemies rushing down the passage behind them.

"Quick!  Quick!" whispered Jim, "we must hide somewhere or we are lost,"
And he cast his eyes round for some place which would suit their

"This way!" he cried to his companion, dashing across the court towards
a large corn-bin.  "This is our only chance!"

Like a flash the two lads raised the lid, clambered inside, and let the
covering down just as the first Chilian emerged into the _patio_.  They
heard their pursuers separate and search the whole yard, calling to one
another at intervals to inquire whether anything had been heard or seen
of the fugitives; but, for some reason or other, it seemed to occur to
none of them to glance inside the corn-bin; the reason probably being
that it stood before them so prominently that they never dreamed that
any one could have thought of hiding there.

Suddenly there was a shout from the far corner of the _patio_, and a
voice cried, "This way, children!  I have found the door through which
the spies have fled!"

There was a quick trampling of feet, more savage cries, and then
silence.  The Chilians had evidently gone off on a false scent; and now,
if ever, was the moment for Jim and Terry to effect their escape.
Listening intently for a few seconds, Douglas raised the lid of their
hiding-place an inch or so and peered out through the opening thus
formed.  There was no one in sight, but they could hear the savage
shouts of the Chilians in the distance as they searched hither and
thither for their prey.

"Now, Terry," whispered Jim, "_now_ is our time.  Out you get quickly,
my hearty; we must make a rush for the passage, through it into the
shop, and so out into the street; it is our only hope.  Are you quite
ready?  Yes?  Then here goes!"  And flinging back the cover, the two
friends clambered out, rushed across the _patio_, up the passage,
through the wrecked door, and into the shop.  To their great relief, the
place was absolutely empty.  After a short halt, therefore, to rearrange
and brush their clothing, which had become somewhat disordered, they
strolled casually out of the cafe into the street.

By this time there were many more people about, and mingling with the
throng the two boys soon lost sight of the cafe, and with rapid steps
made the best of their way down toward the harbour, near which were
situated the Government Offices.  These were now open, and entering one
which bore a plate with the words "_Oficina por empleo en la marina_"
inscribed thereon, they found themselves in the presence of Senor Don
Guzman Cartador, the Director of the Navy, to whom they made known their
desire to enter the Chilian service.  This gentleman listened
courteously to them, examined them shortly upon their capabilities, and
finally gave them a letter of introduction to Admiral Rebolledo
Williams, of the battleship _Blanco Encalada_, to whom he recommended
them to apply, saying at the same time that he had little doubt they
would be successful in obtaining commissions, as Admiral Williams was
very short of efficient officers just then.

Armed with this official's introduction the two lads presented
themselves aboard the warship about mid-day, and were fortunate enough
to find Admiral Williams not only disengaged, but also in a particularly
good humour.  He at once granted them an interview; asked them several
questions, as the Naval Director had done; and finally accepted their
services, much to the gratification of the two lads.  He gave Douglas a
commission as second lieutenant on board the flagship, and O'Meara a
post as second engineer aboard the same vessel.  He then sent them
ashore to have their commissions signed by Captain Morales, and to
procure the necessary uniforms and outfit, and instructed them to report
themselves on board the _Blanco Encalada_ on the 7th of February, since
he, the Admiral, expected orders to sail on or about that date.

The boys left Senor Williams with many expressions of gratitude, and
went ashore to provide themselves with uniform and the necessary kit, an
order for the supply of which had been given them by Williams himself.
The tailor promised to have everything ready by the 6th, and for a
wonder he was as good as his word.  On the morning of the 7th,
therefore, the two lads in full uniform, and with their belongings in
the boat with them, were rowed off to the _Blanco Encalada_, and by mid-
day they found themselves duly installed as officers in the Chilian



The month of February in the latitude of Valparaiso corresponds
approximately to the month of August in the northern hemisphere, and it
was a beautiful, sunny, and very hot morning when, on the 7th of that
month, the Chilian fleet, consisting of the _Blanco Encalada_ flagship,
the _Almirante Cochrane_ battleship, the corvettes _O'Higgins_ and
_Chacabuco_, with the sloop _Esmeralda_, steamed out of harbour, on its
way to Antofagasta, the principal seaport of Bolivia.

It may not be amiss to state here briefly the causes of the war that was
then impending between the allied republics of Bolivia and Peru and the
republic of Chili.

The desert of Atacama, on the borders of Chili and Bolivia, had been for
many years without an acknowledged owner.  Chili claimed it, so also did
Bolivia; but it was not considered by either claimant to be of much
importance, and it was certainly not regarded as worth fighting for,
until it was discovered that it was rich in nitrates and other mineral
wealth.  In 1866 the two republics, being allied in war against Spain,
fixed by treaty the 24th parallel of south latitude as the future
boundary between them; and Bolivia agreed that Chilian citizens who were
already landowners in the region between 23° and 24° south should be
allowed to mine and to export the produce without tax or other
hindrance.  To facilitate this arrangement, Chili was permitted to
maintain a representative in the Custom House at Antofagasta.  The
nitrate business of those days was chiefly in the hands of a Company,
the heads of which were the British house of Gibbs, a Chilian named
Edwards, and the Chilian Government.  On February 23, 1878, Bolivia saw
fit to impose a tax of 10 _centavos_ (4½ pence) per _quintal_ (152
pounds) on all nitrates.  Chili remonstrated; but Bolivia insisted, and
declared, in addition, that the tax was meant to be retrospective, and
that unless all dues were paid before February 14, 1879, the nitrates in
the hands of the exporters would be seized and sold by auction.  As the
day which had been fixed for the seizure drew near, a Chilian squadron,
under Rear-Admiral Rebolledo Williams, was got ready for the purpose of
seizing Antofagasta itself.  It was this fleet which, on the morning of
February 7, 1879, steamed out from Valparaiso, with Jim and Terry, as
Chilian officers, on board the _Blanco Encalada_, the flagship of the

As the fleet weighed anchor and stood out to sea the bells pealed from
every steeple in the town, while the guns in the hastily improvised
fortifications above the town thundered out a farewell salute to the
ships which were going to vindicate the honour of Chili, and the action
of which was tantamount to a declaration of war.  As each warship
rounded the point she returned the salute with all her starboard
broadside guns, while the ensigns at the mizzen-gaff were dipped thrice
in jubilant farewell.

Although war had not as yet actually been declared against Peru, the
Chilian Government had very strong reason to suspect the existence of a
secret treaty between that country and Bolivia; and as Peru was the
possessor of a navy of considerable strength it behoved Admiral Williams
to be exceedingly careful that he did not run into any ambush of
Peruvian ships; a very sharp look-out was therefore kept incessantly
during the six days which the fleet took to steam from Valparaiso to
Antofagasta.  There was no Bolivian navy, if we except a few steam-
launches and old spar-torpedo-boats; there was nothing, therefore, to
fear in that direction; but, as the Chilians had not as yet had time to
advance their forces overland up the coast, a contingent of five hundred
regulars was put on board the ships to effect the occupation of
Antofagasta; two hundred and fifty being put on board at Valparaiso,
while Admiral Williams had been instructed to call in at Caldera Bay, in
order to embark the remainder.

Steaming at the rate of the slowest ship in his squadron--the sloop
_Esmeralda_, which was incapable of a speed of more than four or five
knots--the Admiral arrived in Caldera Bay on the evening of the 9th of
February; and as it was too late to think of embarking the troops that
night, he anchored his ships, in column of line ahead, at a distance of
about half a mile from the shore, and on a course which stretched across
the bay from the signal station to the little village of Calderillo.

Nothing had thus far been seen of the Peruvian squadron, and as Bolivia
had, as stated above, no navy worthy of the name, and the fleet was,
moreover, still in Chilian waters, Admiral Williams did not consider it
necessary to establish a patrol of picket-boats on watch round the
ships, as he certainly would have done had he been lying before a
hostile port.  It was this oversight, coupled with the fact that
Williams regarded the Bolivian sea strength as beneath his notice, that
very nearly led to a frightful disaster for the Chilians at the very
outset of the war.

On this particular night Douglas was, as it happened, the officer of the
watch, and Terry, who was off duty, was sharing the vigil with his
friend, walking to and fro upon the _Blanco Encalada's_ quarter-deck and
listening to the sounds which were wafted across the water both from the
town of Caldera and from the neighbouring ships, all of which were
brilliantly lighted up.  There was a sailor's "sing-song" in progress
aboard the corvette _Chacabuco_, the second ship away from the _Blanco
Encalada_, and both lads listened with amusement to the rollicking
sounds which proceeded from that direction.  There was no moon, but the
sky was spangled with brilliant stars, which shed a faint, silvery
lustre over the sea and the distant summits of the Andes, enwrapping
everything in a soft luminous haze which could scarcely be dignified
with the name of light.

The two lads paced to and fro, eagerly longing for the time when Douglas
should be relieved from duty, for both were very tired; but Terry did
not feel inclined to leave his friend to continue his watch by himself.
As the time passed on, the lights of the squadron disappeared, one by
one, until at length the only lights which showed were the riding
lights, two of which were suspended on every ship, one at the bow and
one at the stern.  The sounds on board the ships had died away
completely, and it was only occasionally that the shouts of a party of
revellers were heard from the shore.

It was shortly after one o'clock in the morning when Terry, who was
still keeping his friend company, walked to the ship's rail and stood
there in a listening attitude; then he raised his voice slightly and
called Douglas to his side.

"Listen carefully for a moment, old fellow," he said; "cannot you hear
something away out there on our port bow?"

Jim listened, and presently his strained senses caught a faint sound
like the throbbing of a tiny engine somewhere away in the darkness.

"Yes," he whispered, "I certainly can hear something.  To me it sounds
as though there is a small steam-launch somewhere out there; but I
certainly cannot see anything of her.  What can a launch possibly be
doing out there, at this time of the morning?"

"Well," replied his chum, "if this were not a Chilian port I should be
inclined to suspect something in the nature of a night-attack; but under
the circumstances I don't quite see from what quarter such an attack
could come.  The Peruvian fleet can hardly have come upon us unawares,
for we should surely have seen some sign of them; they would hardly
steam without showing any lights at all.  Besides, this sound--which is
certainly nearing us, by the way--seems to me more like-- Hallo! did you
see _that_, Douglas?  By Jove, it strikes me that there is something
more in this than meets the eye."

"Yes," answered Jim, "I distinctly caught sight of a flicker of flame.
It appeared to me as though somebody had struck a match for some purpose
or other, and had hurriedly extinguished it.  I wonder what is
happening, away over there.  There is certainly something going on that
is not quite as it should be, I am convinced."

During this brief interchange of remarks the noise of the churning
little propeller had been drawing nearer; and, after listening intently
for a few seconds longer, Douglas whispered hurriedly to his chum, "Slip
below _quickly_, Terry, and bring me up my night-glass; I believe there
is something radically wrong about this business."

In a moment O'Meara was back on deck, bearing the telescope, which
Douglas hastily snatched from him and brought to bear on the spot from
whence the sound proceeded.  He had been glancing through it for only
about half a minute when he turned excitedly to Terry and gasped out,
"Rouse the ship, man--and quickly, too; there is a launch approaching,
and she carries a spar-torpedo; she is making straight for us, _and
evidently means to torpedo the flagship_!"

Like a flash Terry disappeared to rouse the crew, while Douglas
continued to watch the approach of the launch, in a perfect agony of
apprehension.  The little craft was very close indeed now, and, steaming
at the rate of some nine knots, she would be alongside the _Blanco
Encalada_ in a couple of minutes; and once alongside the battleship,
nothing could save the latter from destruction.

But anxiety lent wings to Terry's feet, and in a few seconds the men
made their appearance on deck, in all stages of undress, for they fully
appreciated the dangers of the situation and had not waited to clothe
themselves.  Their officers also had dashed up from below, and hurried
words of command flew from one quarter of the ship to another.  Admiral
Williams himself rushed up from below, upon the alarm being given, and
he now instructed the ship's bugler to sound the alarm, and to sound it
with all his strength, while at the same time a blank charge was fired
as a warning to the other ships to be on the alert.  Immediately
afterward a bugle was heard shrilling from the _Almirante Cochrane_, and
this was taken up by every ship in the squadron, for the whole fleet was
now thoroughly alarmed and on the alert.

For a few moments a state nearly approaching to panic reigned aboard the
flagship; but the men were quickly at their quarters, and every gun in
the ship was promptly trained upon the position indicated by Douglas.
It was too dark to enable the gunners to aim with precision, but the
sound guided them to some extent, and suddenly a perfect volcano of
machine-gun fire broke out on board the _Blanco Encalada_, followed by a
hoarse scream of agony from the torpedo-launch.  An iron bucket was
partly filled with paraffin and this was lighted as a flare, throwing a
lurid glare over the sea and disclosing plainly to view a couple of
rapidly approaching launches, each of which carried a spar over her
bows, from which a torpedo was suspended, the launches heading directly
for the _Blanco Encalada_.  But upon the nearest launch the effect of
the flagship's fire was terrible.  The helmsman had been cut nearly to
pieces by the hail of bullets, and he now hung dead over the tiller of
the little steamer, which was consequently yawing wildly about.  The
remainder of her crew were in the well abaft the boiler, some lying
huddled up on the floor, while others hung loosely, like half-empty
sacks, over the launch's bulwarks, their arms trailing in the water.
Indeed it appeared as though the _Blanco Encalada_, by a lucky fluke,
had concentrated her whole fire upon that one devoted craft.  For a
moment it appeared as though the little steamer, with her crew of dead,
would still effect her purpose, for the torpedo was still intact at the
end of its spar, and the launch was heading straight for the battleship;
but just at the last moment the corpse of the helmsman was jerked from
the tiller by the motion of the sea, and the launch's head immediately
fell off a point or two.  She rushed past the _Blanco Encalada's_ bows,
missing them by no more than a few feet, and a few minutes later a
deafening report from the shore told those on board the flagship that
the torpedo-launch had rushed at full speed upon the rocks, thus
exploding her torpedo and blowing herself to pieces.

The second launch, which had been steaming about a hundred yards astern
of her consort, had miraculously escaped that whirlwind of shot, and
now, seeing the fate of her consort, she described a wide circle, and
headed away to the north-west, out of the bay, at full speed.  In a few
minutes she would be beyond the circle of light thrown by the flagship's
brazier of fire, and would be in safety; but she was not to escape so
easily.  The _Blanco Encalada's_ gunners carefully laid their machine-
guns on the craft, and opened a furious fire upon her.  The rattle of
the Nordenfeldts sounded like a continuous roar of thunder, and the
stream of fire from their muzzles itself illuminated the darkness of the
night with a fitful glare.

The gunners got the range almost immediately, and those on board the
flagship could see that the water was lashed into foam round the launch
by the pelting rain of missiles.  There was no escape from that iron
hail, not even for those desperate members of the crew who dived
overboard, for the men of the _Blanco_ made a target of every face that
appeared upon the surface of the water.

Then the end came, suddenly and dreadfully.  A bullet must have passed
in advance of the launch and struck the torpedo itself, for the
onlookers saw a dazzling burst of whitish-blue flame, which was followed
by a deafening, stunning explosion, and the launch seemed to disappear,
as if by magic, in a tornado of flame, for not even a fragment of her
appeared on the water afterwards.  The roar of the machine-guns at once
ceased, and every man on board the ship wiped away the cold sweat of
fear which had burst out on his forehead at the prospect of being
torpedoed; for there is no arm in the naval service so dreaded by the

Tranquillity was now gradually restored, and half an hour later peace
once more reigned; but not a single man in the whole squadron could
bring himself to go below again until day dawned.  On every ship huge
fires were lighted, and boats were sent to patrol the fleet in order to
prevent a repetition of the occurrence; but it was not until daylight
revealed a sea empty of craft save those of the Chilians that the
fearful strain of suspense was relaxed.

Admiral Williams personally thanked Douglas and O'Meara for their quick
action, which had undoubtedly saved the flagship, and very probably some
of the other vessels of the squadron.  He also questioned the lads
closely, in order to ascertain whether they had heard or seen anything
which would furnish a clue to the nationality of the occupants of the
launches, but they could tell him nothing; and the Admiral was at length
driven to the conclusion that his assailants must have come down the
coast from Antofagasta, and must have consisted of a couple of the
ancient torpedo-launches which the Bolivians were known to possess, but
which Williams had left out of his calculations as being too unimportant
to be taken into consideration.  How dearly this oversight might have
cost him has already been seen.

The following, or rather, the same morning, the ships' boats were
lowered, and, assisted by flat-bottomed craft from the shore, began the
work of embarking the remainder of the troops.  It continued during the
whole morning, and by mid-day the balance of the military contingent was
distributed among the ships, which then got up their anchors and turned
their bows to the northward once more, still under easy steam for the
benefit of the old and rotten _Esmeralda_, two of whose boilers were so
eaten away by rust as to be useless.  A particularly keen look-out for
hostile ships was kept, in view of the alarming incident in Caldera Bay,
but nothing of a suspicious character was sighted, and on the evening of
the 13th of February the fleet anchored before the town of Antofagasta,
the principal seaport of Bolivia, lying in a half-circle at a distance
of about a mile and a half from the shore.

The obnoxious tax was to come into force on the following day, if
Bolivia adhered to her original resolution; and Admiral Williams had
orders that, should such prove to be the case, he was to seize the
Custom House, invest the town, and in the event of resistance being
offered, to bombard it.  Chili did not intend to submit tamely to the
high-handed action of Bolivia, which constituted a serious and
intolerable infraction of treaty.

Immediately the squadron came to an anchor, therefore, every gun was
trained upon the town, in readiness for action, should such become
necessary; and early on the following morning Admiral Williams had his
gig piped away, and, accompanied by his flag-captain, he was pulled
ashore to ascertain the intentions of the Bolivian authorities, and to
warn all the Chilian inhabitants of the place that it would be bombarded
should the President of the Republic not prove amenable to reason, so
that they might leave the town, with their belongings, before his ships
opened fire.

The Admiral was ashore until about three o'clock in the afternoon; and
when he returned to the _Blanco Encalada_ it soon became known that the
Bolivians had refused to relinquish their demands, and that therefore
Antofagasta was to be invested.  He believed, however, that it would not
be necessary to bombard the town, as he thought it was hardly likely
that the inhabitants would be so unwise as to offer armed resistance to
the landing of the Chilian troops.  The soldiers were therefore to be
landed at once under cover of the guns of the squadron, while a naval
force, composed of men from the _Blanco Encalada_ and the _Almirante
Cochrane_, were at the same time instructed to land at the northern part
of the seaport and seize the Custom House.

The Chilian troops, under Colonel Sotomayor, were therefore put into
boats belonging to the warships, which were then taken in tow by the
small steam craft and conveyed to the wharves at the south end of the
town, their landing being unopposed, except for a few stray shots which
were fired from the cover of some closed shops, and which a few volleys
from the soldiers promptly checked.  Then the ships' boats being once
more available, the task of seizing the Custom House was proceeded with;
and it was anticipated that here, if anywhere, a determined resistance
would be made.  A council of captains was called on board the _Blanco
Encalada_, and a plan of campaign resolved upon.  It was decided that
Captain Latorre, of the _Almirante Cochrane_, should lead the naval
detachment, which was to be drawn from all the ships of the squadron, in
proportion to the complement of their crews; and Douglas was the officer
selected to take charge of the party from the _Blanco Encalada_, much to
his delight, the selection being probably due to a desire on Admiral
Williams's part to recompense the lad in some measure for the
promptitude and coolness which he had displayed in saving the flagship
in Caldera Bay.

Jim joyously took leave of his friend Terry--who, as he belonged to the
engine-room staff, could not expect to be sent on shore expeditions--
adjusted the sword at his side, ran down the side-ladder, and took his
seat in the stern-sheets of the steam-launch which, with a whaleboat
which it was to tow, carried the detachment of men from the _Blanco
Encalada_.  The boats of the other vessels were by this time ready; and,
headed by the launch of the _Almirante Cochrane_, carrying Captain
Latorre, the leader of the expedition, the little flotilla swept away
from the ships toward the north end of the town, vociferously cheered as
they went by the remainder of the squadron.

The distance to the Custom House was about two miles; and by the time
that they had covered half of it, it was seen that a considerable amount
of activity was being manifested ashore; in fact it looked as though
here, at any rate, the Bolivians had fully determined to offer

Jim remarked on the circumstance to Lieutenant Alcerrerez, who was
sitting next to him; and while he was speaking, Captain Latorre hailed
the boats to slow up and come alongside, in order to receive further
instructions.  These were soon given, and were to the effect that the
launches of the flagship and of the _Almirante Cochrane_ were to be the
leading boats in a formation of double column of line ahead, in which
order they were to attack.  This matter having been arranged, all went
ahead again at full speed, while the men eased the cutlasses in their
sheaths and inspected the cartridges in their rifles, in readiness for
the anticipated encounter.

Suddenly, when the boats were within a couple of hundred yards of the
mole leading down from the Custom House, a blaze of fire leapt from the
loopholed walls of the buildings, and bullets flew round the little
flotilla in a perfect hailstorm.  The Chilian ensign in the stern of
Douglas's launch was literally ripped from its staff, proving that, had
the Bolivians but depressed their rifle muzzles a trifle more, every man
in the steamer's well would have been hit by the leaden shower.
Lieutenant Alcerrerez, who was sitting next to Douglas, emitted a
curious little cough, turned half round, and fell forward over the lad's
knees, while several men in the launch sprang convulsively to their
feet, only to drop down again in a limp, motionless heap, or to fall
over the low gunwales in the violence of their death-struggles.  Jim
shuddered as he thought of the fate of poor Lieutenant Alcerrerez, but
he pulled himself together and laid the poor shot-pierced body gently
down on the boat's floor grating, thereby saving his own life; for even
as he stooped, another shower of rifle-bullets hurtled into the launch,
killing several more men, and piercing the boat herself in six places
below the water-line, so that she began to take in water at an alarming

Some of the other craft had, however, come off still worse than the
_Blanco Encalada's_ launch; for the casualties were even heavier in the
_Almirante Cochrane's_ boats, while a shot had pierced the boiler of the
launch belonging to the _O'Higgins_, which immediately blew up with
disastrous results, killing and wounding nearly the whole of her crew.

The flotilla was by this time, however, within the shelter of the mole;
and a minute later the boats rushed alongside at full speed, Jim leaping
ashore at the same time as Captain Latorre, who, sword in hand, formed
his men quickly up, shouting, "Forward, my children; you have your
comrades to avenge!"  And away raced the boat's crew along the pier
toward the Custom House, receiving, as they did so, another terrible
volley from the defenders.  The Chilians' blood was up, however, and
they did not even pause to succour their wounded, but dashed forward,
holding their fire in reserve, and with their bayonets fixed.

Before the Bolivians could fire again, the Chilians had reached the
building, and were thus protected from the fire of its occupants, as the
loopholes were too small to allow of their rifles being depressed to any
great extent.

"Bring that bag of powder here!" roared Latorre at the top of his voice
as two men came up staggering under its weight.  The petard was promptly
laid against the door; a train was led close alongside the wall to the
corner of the house, round which the seamen also sheltered themselves; a
match was put to it; there was a loud report and a stunning concussion,
followed by the sound of rending timber; and the landing party dashed
forward again, round the angle of the building, and in through the
breach formed by the explosion.  As they entered the house there was a
shout of execration and defiance from the floor above, and the defenders
began to swarm down the stairs to repulse their enemies.

But, hampered as they were by lack of room to move freely, they could do
nothing.  They had foolishly left no force on the ground-floor, but had
all gone to the first storey, in order to be the better able to fire on
their foes; and this oversight now cost them very dear.  The Bolivians
got jammed into an inextricable mass, in their efforts to descend the
stairs at the same time; and, while thus helpless, they were mercilessly
cut down and bayoneted by the infuriated Chilians.

In a few minutes the bloody work was over; the corpses on the stairs
were pulled away, and the assailants rushed upstairs to complete their
work.  But the Bolivians had now no stomach for further fight, and they
threw down their arms, crying for mercy.  Captain Latorre therefore had
them all disarmed and bound securely, after which he went up on to the
roof of the building and hauled down the Bolivian flag, hoisting the
Chilian ensign in its place.  He then signalled to Admiral Williams:
"Custom House taken, with loss of nineteen killed and twenty-three

Antofagasta was in the hands of the Chilians!



Shortly after the occupation of Antofagasta, a Chilian force under
Colonel Sotomayor--who was in command of the troops landed from the
squadron--advanced to Caracoles, to protect the mines there; and on
March 23, 1879, defeated at Calama a body of Bolivians under Dr
Ladislas Cabrera, who was compelled to retire, with a loss of twenty
killed and wounded, and thirty prisoners.  The losses of the Chilians
numbered only twelve.

Peru thereupon made certain precautionary preparations, and sent envoys
to both Chili and Bolivia; although, as a matter of fact, she had
already mobilised her navy, and was quite prepared to take the offensive
at any moment.  Indeed it was perfectly well known in Chilian official
circles that the Peruvian fleet was actually at this time at sea,
seeking, if possible, to deal her opponent a crippling blow even before
war had been formally declared.

Chili thereupon demanded the reasons for her preparations, as indeed she
was fully entitled to do, and required that they should cease.  Then,
receiving no satisfactory reply, she announced her knowledge of a secret
treaty, dated the 6th of February 1873, between Bolivia and Peru, and at
once declared war against the latter as well as the former.

Immediately following this, Chili increased her navy by repurchasing the
corvette _Abtao_--a sister ship to the famous _Alabama_ of American
Civil War times--built in 1864, of 1050 tons displacement, 300 horse-
power, and with a nominal sea-speed of 6 knots.  This ship was armed
with three 150-pounder muzzle-loading guns and three 30-pounder muzzle-
loaders; and she played almost as important a part in the war between
Chili and Peru as did the _Alabama_ in the American Civil War.

Chili also bought from the Pacific Steam Navigation Company the screw
steamer _Amazonas_, for use as a transport; and by chartering the
_Rimac, Itata, Lamar, Loa_, and _Limari_ from the Chilian Steam
Navigation Company, and the _Mathias Cousino_ and other steamers from
the Cousino estate, she strengthened the effectiveness of her fleet to a
very great extent.  All the upper spars of these craft were sent ashore,
and their lower yards, where they were retained to serve as derricks,
were cock-billed.  The head-booms were unrigged, and all but the
standing bowsprits of the wooden vessels were landed.

The senior Peruvian naval officer afloat was at this time Captain Don
Miguel Grau, a native of Piura, and a man of about forty-five years of
age.  He is spoken of as "an officer of the highest capacity and
bravery, remarkably quiet and unassuming, and an excellent seaman.  His
people worshipped him, and all who knew him honoured him."  In 1868 he
had been given command of the _Huascar_, an ironclad monitor of 1130
tons displacement, 1200 horse-power, and with a nominal sea-speed of 11
knots.  She was armed with two 10-inch 21-ton muzzle-loading guns (both
in the same turret), two 40-pounder muzzle-loaders, one 12-pounder
muzzle-loader, and one Gatling gun.  This ship distinguished herself
more than any other of the Peruvian fleet; and in her subsequent bloody
battle with the Chilian warships, _Blanco Encalada_ and _Almirante
Cochrane_, in which her gallant commander lost his life, she behaved
herself with such gallantry that her name will go down to history as one
of the epoch-making ships of the world.

From 1873 to 1879 Admiral Grau was a member of the Peruvian Congress for
Paita, but on the outbreak of the war he successfully applied to be
reinstated in his former command of the _Huascar_.  By him the Peruvian
squadron was arranged as follows: The first division, under Admiral Grau
himself, consisted of the _Huascar_; _Independencia_, armoured frigate;
and the _Oroya_, a paddle-transport of 1597 tons.  The second division
was placed under the orders of Captain Carillo, and consisted of the
monitors _Manco Capac_ and _Atahualpa_, bought from the United States,
each of 2100 tons; and the _Chalaco_, a transport of 1000 tons
displacement.  The third division, under Captain Garcia y Garcia,
comprised the _Union_, a wooden corvette of 1150 tons, and a very famous
ship; the _Pilcomayo_, gunboat; and the _Limena_, a paddle-transport.

Such was the Peruvian navy at the commencement of the war; and the whole
fleet, in three divisions, as above, was under the command of Admiral

The port of Antofagasta having been occupied by Chilian troops, the
squadron under Admiral Williams left the place and commenced a patrol of
the coast, with a view to enforcing a blockade.  On the 5th of April the
fleet appeared off Iquique, in Peru, and the admiral announced that a
blockade of that port would begin on the 15th of April following, thus
allowing ten days for the Chilian inhabitants of the place to leave and
carry with them all their belongings.

Up to this time no naval action had been fought at sea; and it was, even
yet, a moot point whether Peru would not "climb down," and back out of
her alliance with Bolivia.  But, all unknown to the Chilians, the
Peruvian warships _Union_ and _Pilcomayo_ were cruising up and down the
coast for the purpose of snapping up any small Chilian craft that they
might happen to sight, and to do as much damage to the Chilians as they
possibly could.

Now, it happened that, shortly after the Chilian squadron had invested
Antofagasta, the small corvette _Magellanes_ arrived at Valparaiso,
having returned from police duty in Tierra del Fuego.  She was thereupon
immediately ordered by the Chilian authorities to proceed northward and
join Admiral Williams's fleet.  But on her way, while off the mouth of
the river Loa, she fell in with the Peruvian ships _Union_ and
_Pilcomayo_, with which she fought a running action for over two hours,
when, owing to her superior speed, she effected her escape.  The carnage
on both sides was terrible, and the _Union_, although much the larger
ship, was so seriously damaged that she was obliged to return to Callao,
the principal seaport of Peru, in order to be drydocked and repaired.
The _Magellanes_ then fell in with the main Chilian squadron, off
Iquique, and made her report of the occurrence.

It was at first intended that Iquique should merely be bombarded; but to
render the attendant conditions as stringent as possible, Admiral
Williams strictly forbade the condensation of fresh water on shore, a
prohibition that would naturally cause very great inconvenience to the
inhabitants, since fresh water, either from springs, wells, or streams,
was almost unobtainable in the town.  On several occasions, however,
smoke was observed to be rising from the spot where the condensing
apparatus was located, indicating an apparent disposition on the part of
the inhabitants to disregard the prohibition; and this so incensed the
Chilian admiral that he determined to send Douglas on shore with a
message to the effect that if the offence were persisted in, he would be
compelled to bombard.

The steam-launch was accordingly lowered away from the _Blanco
Encalada_, and manned; and presently Jim, in full uniform, took his seat
in the stern-sheets of the craft, which immediately steamed away to
carry the admiral's protest and message to the _Intendente_ of Iquique.

In about half an hour the launch ran alongside the quay at Iquique, and
Jim sprang ashore, declining the offer of the coxswain to accompany him
and show him the way to the _intendente's_ quarters.

Jim, whose knowledge of Spanish was by this time nearly perfect, made
inquiries at the pier for the office of the _intendente_, and a man, in
a uniform with which the lad was not acquainted, immediately offered to
conduct him thither.  Jim, suspecting no treachery, unhesitatingly
accepted this individual's services, and the pair, entering into an
animated conversation, left the pier and turned their steps townward.

For some distance their way led along a sandy road, paved here and there
with cobblestones, and fronted by buildings which seemed to be hotels or
inns of the cheaper kind, probably intended for the accommodation of
seamen from foreign ships which used the port.  They followed this road,
which ran along the sea-front, for about a mile and a half; and Jim was
just about to pass some comment on the distance when his guide turned to
the right and plunged into a narrow and gloomy side-street, the
appearance of which filled Douglas with aversion, although at that time
no suspicion of treachery entered his mind.  He soon noticed, however,
that his guide, whose name, it transpired, was Manuel Lopes, was taking
him up one narrow street and down another in a most extraordinary
fashion, and that they seemed to be getting into a particularly low
quarter of the town.

Jim had just made up his mind to question Lopes as to whether he was
quite sure of the way, when the latter stopped before a large white-
painted building with green shutters, and led his companion in through a
high and wide archway into a kind of courtyard, the like of which is
nearly always to be found in large houses in both Old and New Spain.

"This looks as though it might be the residence of some official or
other," mused Jim; "but what an extraordinary quarter of the town the
governor seems to have selected for his dwelling!  However, I suppose he
knows his own business best, and--"

"Will you be pleased to follow me, senor?" here broke in the guide
Lopes, bowing in an obsequious manner, and leading the way across the
_patio_ to where a heavy door gave entrance into a part of the building
which overlooked the courtyard.

Jim tucked his sword under his arm and followed the fellow into a room
which seemed, to him coming out of the brilliant sunlight, to be
shrouded in darkness.

"Have the goodness to take a chair, senor," smiled Lopes, pushing one of
those articles forward for Jim, "while I go and ascertain whether His
Excellency will see you."

Jim accepted the proffered chair but, somewhat nettled by a certain
curious change in the man's voice, remarked: "But, senor, I have come
ashore expressly to see the _intendente_; and see him I must; my orders
are imperative!"

"Oh, I assure you there will be no difficulty whatever on that score,"
replied Lopes.  "Kindly excuse me for a few minutes while I announce
your arrival."

Jim bowed; and his guide walked quickly out of the room, slamming the
heavy door somewhat sharply behind him.  Douglas heard him pause for a
few seconds, and then step sharply across the stone-flagged _patio_,
from the other side of which he fancied he heard the sound of a low
laugh and some words spoken in an undertone.  But he paid no particular
attention to the matter and, in order to pass the time, rose from his
seat and began to move round the room.  The apartment was so extremely
dark, however, that he presently walked over to the window, in order to
pull aside the curtains which he supposed, were excluding the light.

Greatly to his surprise, however, he found that there were no curtains
before the window, but that the gloom was caused by the fact that a kind
of iron shutter was securely fastened across the outside.  This was
indeed a curious sort of waiting room, and--

A sudden thought flashed across Jim's mind, and he darted quickly to the
door and turned the handle, pulling it toward him as he did so.

It was as he had surmised; the door had been locked or bolted on the
outside; and he knew now why Lopes had paused those few seconds before
crossing the _patio_.  Jim was a prisoner, and he had walked into the
trap with his eyes open.  Oh! what a fool he had been!  He might have
known that a person of importance such as the _intendente_ of Iquique
would not have had his residence among the slums of the city.  But what
on earth, he wondered, had been their object in making a prisoner of
him?  How came it about that he had been expected, and that a man had
been posted at the pier, ready to receive him and lead him into this

Then he suddenly remembered the dispatches he carried from the Admiral;
and he realised that a person on shore with a telescope could have seen
him put off from the flagship, and have observed his progress the whole
way from her to the quay.  What, too, more natural than that the
Peruvians should be anxious to get a Chilian officer into their hands,
especially a flag-officer, who would be almost certain to have a very
considerable knowledge of the Chilian admiral's plans?  There were many
ways by which that information could be extracted by unscrupulous and
desperate men, and Jim shuddered as he realised the danger in which he
stood.  The first thing that he now did was to take the dispatches from
his inner breast pocket, and secrete them, as well as he could under the
circumstances, next his skin, resolving at the same time that he would
give up his life rather than part with them, or disclose to the
Peruvians any of the admiral's plans.

The only weapon which Jim had brought ashore was, of course, his dress
sword; but he resolved that he would make some use of that before they
should place him in any closer confinement, or lay hands on his papers.

The next thing to be done was to examine the room, to see whether any
means of escape presented itself; and in the first place he scrutinised
the window which was secured with the iron shutters outside.  But a very
few seconds sufficed to show him that there was no possibility of
getting out by that way, and he looked round for a second door to the
apartment.  The walls were, however, lined with massive bookshelves, and
there was no trace of any door save that by which he had entered.
Strangely enough, there was not even so much as a fireplace to the room;
and after half an hour's careful search Douglas was reluctantly
compelled to acknowledge that he was helpless to do anything further at
present, and that he would have to await developments before taking any

He therefore made himself as comfortable as possible in an easy-chair,
keeping his ears open at the same time, so that he might have due
warning of the approach of an enemy.  The house was so silent that, so
far as any sound was concerned, it might have been uninhabited.  Douglas
had been waiting for half an hour, when he discovered that he was
becoming exceedingly drowsy, and that the air of the room seemed not
only to be unaccountably close but also to have a rather queer new odour
in it.  Jim yawned portentously several times, and at length moved over
to the window to try whether the air would be any fresher there, for he
put down its oppressiveness to the fact that there was no chimney in the
room.  But, so far as he could ascertain, the window seemed to be
hermetically sealed; and upon inspection he found that the glass in it
was so abnormally thick that to break it would be practically an

Douglas now began to find that his breathing was becoming distinctly
difficult and, seized with a vague sense of new danger, he ran to the
door and hammered vigorously upon it, shouting at the same time for some
one to come and release him.  But his blows and shouts only echoed
emptily round the _patio_, and not a soul put in an appearance.  He felt
as though all the strength were going out of his limbs, and he presently
staggered to a sofa, upon which he flung himself, powerless to stand
upon his feet any longer.  Strange visions began to float before him,
and curious fancies flitted through his brain, which felt as though some
one had bound an iron strap round it and was gradually increasing the
pressure until it seemed as though his head must split asunder.

How much longer would it be, he wondered dully, before the coxswain in
charge of the _Blanco Encalada's_ steam-launch became anxious about his
long absence, and instituted inquiries, or returned to the flagship with
the news?  Admiral Williams was certainly not the man to allow to pass
unchallenged such a gross violation of International Law as the seizure
and imprisonment of a properly accredited envoy; but then, the people
who had been guilty of this outrage had doubtless acted unofficially,
and the _intendente_ would consequently deny all knowledge of the
business.  Surely, though--

But by this time Jim's thoughts had become more and more confused, and
his brain was refusing to act coherently.  Flashes of lurid light passed
before his eyes, and the horrible feeling of suffocation became ever
more and more acute.  Finally, with what he fancied was a shout for
assistance, but it was, in reality, only a weak whisper, Jim lost
consciousness altogether, and rolled from his couch on to the floor,
where he lay like a log, breathing stertorously.

Almost at the same moment a section of the book-case surrounding the
room moved inward, apparently of its own volition, and two men, one of
whom was the man Lopes, crept cautiously into the apartment.  Hastily
seizing Jim's inanimate body by the arms and legs, they dragged him out
of the room, carried him down a long narrow passage and, opening the
door of another room, took him inside and placed him on a bed which it

"What a time the youngster took to go off, Manuel!" said the second
fellow, addressing Lopes while he industriously searched Jim's pockets.
"I hope we have not given him an overdose, and killed him; for I expect
the information that we shall extract from him will be worth a great
deal more than that contained in the papers which he is sure to carry.
By the way, I wonder where they can be?  They are certainly not in his
pockets.  You are certain you have not made a mistake, _amigo mio_, and
got hold of the wrong man?"

"_Carrajo_! no," exclaimed Lopes testily.  "This is the fellow, without
doubt; I watched him all the way from the ship.  Here, lend me your
knife, and I will rip up his clothes; he is certain to have suspected
treachery after I locked him in, and will have secreted the documents
somewhere.  Ah! here they are.  Now, read them out to me, Carlos, while
I try to bring the _hijo_ round."

There was silence for a few minutes, broken only by the rustle of paper;
then, with an oath, the man called Carlos dashed the packet down,
saying, in a voice hoarse with excitement and rage: "_Carramba_, Lopes
you are a fool! you have made a mistake somewhere.  This is not the man
at all!  I suspected as much when I saw that it was only a boy that you
had captured.  These papers are simply a notification from the admiral
of the Chilians that the condensation of water is to cease!  While we
have been wasting time here the other fellow will have come ashore and
returned again, with the papers still in his possession!  Oh!  Lopes,
you are a mule, _cabeza de porco_!  All our trouble has been in vain."

"Softly, softly, my friend," replied Manuel.  "Even if we have, as you
say, secured the wrong messenger, all our trouble will _not_ have been
useless.  You may have observed, _caro mio_, that this is a flag-
officer, and he will be certain to have knowledge of a great many of
Rebolledo Williams's plans.  Very well; when he recovers we will take
measures to induce him--ha! ha!--to tell us all he knows.  After the
attention of an hour or so which we will give him, and with the
assistance of certain little instruments which we possess, we will get
out of him all the information he has.  It is wonderful," he went on
musingly, "how communicative a man will become--under certain

The man Carlos looked at his fellow-scoundrel for a few moments, and
then broke out into a hoarse chuckle.

"All right, _querido_; I understand," he laughed.  "We will remove him,
however, for the present, to less comfortable quarters, as he seems to
be on the point of recovery.  Lift up his feet, _mi amigo_, while I take
his arms as before."  Suiting the action to the word, the two men seized
Jim's body and carried it away down another passage, until they came to
a flight of stone stairs, down which they went into the very bowels of
the earth, as it seemed.  Presently they encountered a massive stone
door which, on being opened, disclosed a damp and unspeakably filthy
cell.  Into this they tossed the unfortunate officer, and, without
caring, apparently, whether they broke every bone in his body or not,
kicked him unmercifully into the centre of the dungeon, and then turned
and left him.

Although the two scoundrels had been under the impression that Jim
Douglas was on the point of recovery from unconsciousness when they thus
callously tossed him into the cell, they were mistaken; for they found,
upon revisiting him several hours later, that he was still in a state of
insensibility.  The two rascals then became not a little alarmed for the
success of their scheme, and they at once did all in their power to
revive their victim, with the result that, late that same evening, he
recovered his senses, although he was much too dazed to answer the
questions which they tried to put to him.  The men therefore gave up
their attempt for that night, and left Jim in peace, handing him a
little bread and water, and promising themselves that they would return
early the next morning.

Douglas recovered his faculties soon after Carlos and Lopes had left
him, and while eating his frugal meal tried to unravel the mystery of
his capture, and to calculate how long it would probably be before
Admiral Williams should take any steps to find him.  He was, however,
still very dull and heavy, and presently dropped into a deep sleep, from
which he was awakened, just as dawn was breaking, by the entrance of his
captors.  They immediately began to interrogate him about the number of
men in the fleet, the condition of the ships, the number of their guns,
and, above all, as to the plans which Admiral Williams had formed for
the forthcoming attack on Peruvian ports.

Jim, of course, firmly refused to give them any information whatever
upon the matters in question, but loudly denounced the way in which he
had been treated, and demanded to be set at liberty immediately.  Carlos
and his accomplice merely laughed, and Lopes remarked: "So you refuse to
tell us anything, do you, my young cockerel?  Well, we shall see, we
shall see.  I will wager that you change your mind within the next half-
hour; what say you, Carlos, eh?  Now, once more will you tell me what--"

"No!" roared Douglas, in a fit of exasperation, "I will tell you
_nothing_! and you may do what you please, I will still keep silent.  My
captain will know how to avenge me if you offer me any injury."

"Hark how loudly it crows, Manuel," laughed Carlos, showing all his
teeth.  "However, I think we had better not waste any more time; bring
in the playthings, Lopes, my brave."

The latter went out of the cell, and presently returned, carrying an
iron brazier filled with glowing charcoal, and bearing under his left
arm a cloth which, when unrolled, disclosed to Jim's horrified gaze a
glittering array of instruments, the suggestiveness of the shapes of
which left little doubt as to what was their ghastly use.  The poor lad
turned sick and faint, and the sweat began to pour off him at the mere
sight of those fearful appliances.  Still, he did not falter, and he
swore to himself that not all their tortures should make a traitor of

"Now, Carlos!" exclaimed Lopes, throwing himself upon Jim, who struggled
vainly to free himself from the clutches of the two powerful men who
held him.  In a few moments he was bound hand and foot, and Carlos
removed the naval sword which they had not, as yet, taken from the young
Chilian officer.  Douglas was then flung on his back, and both arms and
legs were lashed securely to iron rings cemented into the floor of the
cell.  This done, with a sardonic laugh, the two men stood upright and
looked at the recumbent form of their prisoner.  Then Carlos stepped
across the dungeon and, chuckling all the while, thrust several of the
steel instruments of torture in among the glowing charcoal of the

Half-fainting, and with every nerve and sense strained to its utmost,
Jim suddenly fancied that he heard a faint sound, coming apparently from
a great distance.  It sounded, to his fevered imagination, almost like a
bugle call, but it was so exceedingly faint that he thought his ears
must have deceived him.  He looked at the two rascals above him, but
they were talking, and had evidently heard nothing.  Carlos drew out
from the brazier a long, curved piece of steel, but it was not yet red-
hot and he replaced it, with a malevolent glance at Douglas.

Then suddenly there rang out, high, clear, and quite unmistakable, the
sound of a trumpet; and it was blown at no very great distance away,
either!  Jim recognised it immediately; it was the alarm, and he felt
that some crisis was at hand.

"_Carrajo_!" exclaimed the man Lopes, turning a pale face to his
confederate, "what does that mean?  Run up above, man, quickly, and find
out.  Surely it cannot be that--" He broke off, as a dull boom rumbled
through the stagnant air and made the very stone cell quiver.  "Quick,
Carlos; quick, man, and see what is the matter."

Without further bidding Carlos opened the door and sprang up the stairs,
just as an appalling crash was heard, apparently quite close at hand,
even if not in the very building itself.  Then there was another rending
explosion, and another, not quite so close at hand this time.  Lopes,
quivering with fear, glanced at Douglas, and then at the open door, as
though meditating flight, and he had evidently just made up his mind to
decamp when Carlos came plunging down the stone steps.

"_Amigo mio_!" he gasped hoarsely, "something has gone terribly wrong
somewhere, for the Chilian squadron is bombarding Iquique; and what is
more, all the shells are falling in this quarter.  The streets are full
of dead, and a man I saw flying past just now says that a body of
marines is already on shore, and coming this way.  We must fly at once,
or we shall be too late!  Can it be that this is in return for our
having seized this youngster?  Come along, my friend, quickly; and it
would be well to give the boy a tap on the head and thus spare his
countrymen the trouble of carrying him away, if they find him.  But,
come quickly man, or we are both lost.  Those cursed shells are
beginning to fall in this direction again!"

And indeed he was right; the dungeon fairly rocked under the hideous
concussion of the bursting missiles, while the roar of falling masonry
could plainly be heard above, mingled with shrieks which came to their
ears, strangely muffled by the distance.

"I don't like to leave that boy," muttered Lopes, who seemed much the
cooler of the two men, "but if I stay here we shall both be buried
alive.  No, Mr Officer, I will not kill you," he said, drawing back his
lips from his teeth with an evil smile; "I will leave you here, so that
your friends may have the satisfaction of killing you themselves!"

Then, as another fearful crash sounded above, he kicked the brazier of
coal over so that the glowing embers scattered themselves over Jim's
body, and, calling to his friend, exclaimed, "_Adios, senor_!" as the
two men ran up the stone stairs.  Jim suffered excruciating pain as the
embers burnt their way through his clothes and ate into his flesh; but
at length he contrived to roll and shake himself free of them.
Meanwhile, his two enemies could hardly have gone a dozen steps upward
when there came a most deafening concussion close by, and a shower of
dust and flying fragments of masonry scattered itself round Douglas,
nearly blinding him.  He felt that he was lost; for, bound as he was, he
could do nothing to help himself; but as he lay there waiting for death
he was astonished to find that one of the cords confining his wrists was
slackening, and the next moment it had parted; a fragment of glowing
charcoal had providentially fallen upon it and burnt it through.  With
one hand free, he found himself able, with some difficulty, to release
the other; after which a few seconds were sufficient to enable him to
cast loose the lashings from his feet.  He then stumbled and groped his
way up the steps, passing, as he did so, the mangled bodies of Lopes and
of Carlos, who had been literally blown to pieces.  The house above was
a mere shapeless mass of wreckage, and Jim had little difficulty in
clambering over the debris into the street.  As he emerged from the
wrecked building there was a rattling volley, and a shower of bullets
whistled past the young officer's head.  His own men were firing at him,
under the impression that he was one of the enemy!  He snatched a
handkerchief from his pocket and waved it, just in time to avoid being
riddled by a second discharge.

A moment later Douglas was shaking hands with his rescuers, who had so
nearly escaped being merely his avengers.  It now appeared that the
coxswain of the launch, suspecting treachery, had followed Jim and his
guide to the house, outside which he had waited for some time in the
hope that he was mistaken, and that Jim would presently make his
appearance.  But when an hour had passed, the man felt convinced that
something was wrong, and hurried back to the ship to report.  Admiral
Williams had thereupon sent an ultimatum to the _intendente_ that,
unless Senor Douglas was returned to the _Blanco Encalada_ by daybreak,
he would bombard.

The unfortunate official, knowing nothing of the occurrence complained
of, had failed, of course, to produce the young man; and Rebolledo
Williams had carried out his threat, very nearly destroying the man whom
he wished to save in so doing.  Under cover of the heavy gun-fire a
party of marines had been landed, and, under guidance of the coxswain,
had gone toward the house where Jim was known to be.  The men, seeing
the place in ruins, naturally concluded that Jim was dead, and were on
the point of retreating when the lad put in an appearance among the

Having happily accomplished their errand, the detachment now returned to
the ships, having to fight their way back through the streets in the
face of an almost overwhelming Peruvian force.  But they won through
eventually, and regained their boats without great loss.  That afternoon
Jim reported to the admiral, who thereupon determined to bombard in grim
earnest on the following morning.  Needless to say Jim slept sounder
that night than he had done in the dungeon on the previous evening.



On the following morning, shortly after daybreak, Rebolledo Williams
began his preparations for a further bombardment of Iquique; but, just
as he was on the point of opening fire, the _Blanco Encalada's_ yeoman
of signals presented himself with a report that the Chilian gunboat
_Magellanes_--a vessel of 772 tons displacement and of eleven knots
speed--had just made her appearance in the bay, coming up from the
southward, and flying the signal, "Have important news to communicate."
The admiral therefore ordered operations to be suspended for the moment,
and waited impatiently for the captain of the _Magellanes_ to come
aboard and make his report.  The little vessel was evidently in a hurry,
for she steamed in at full speed, and did not bring up until close
alongside the flagship.  The anchor then splashed down to the
accompaniment of a roar of chain-cable through the hawse-pipe the
captain's gig was lowered away; and a few minutes later that individual
was being pulled across the short space of water between his own ship
and the _Blanco Encalada_.

Captain Simpson was closeted for over an hour with his admiral; at the
end of which time the signal was made for the whole fleet to heave short
in readiness for an early departure.  The _Magellanes_ was also ordered
to accompany the squadron.  As the ships were to go northward at top
speed it was impossible to take the _Esmeralda_ along as well, in
consequence of her phenomenally low rate of speed.  But as she herself
would be at the mercy of almost any hostile ship that might happen to
heave in sight while the main body of the fleet was absent, it was
decided to leave with her the gunboat _Covadonga_; and these two vessels
were ordered to continue the blockade of the port to the best of their

The news brought by the _Magellanes_ very soon filtered through the
fleet, and was to the effect that her skipper had been sent from
Valparaiso to inform the admiral that the Peruvian President Prado
intended to leave Callao, on the night of May 16, for Arica, in the
paddle-transport _Oroya_; and that he was to be accompanied by the
_Independencia, Huascar, Chalaco_, and _Limena_.  Admiral Williams was
therefore ordered to abandon the blockade of Iquique, and, proceeding
northward immediately, was to endeavour to intercept the squadron and,
by forcing a fleet action, to destroy it, and so deal a fatal blow at
the naval power of Peru.  Simpson also reported that while on his way to
join the flag he had fallen in, off the mouth of the river Loa, with the
Peruvian warships _Union_ and _Pilcomayo_, and that he had fought a
running action of over two hours with them; his final escape being
entirely due to his superior speed; as either of the Peruvian vessels
would alone have been more than a match for his own little ship.

This news occasioned the utmost bustle and activity among the Chilians.
Every man was most eager to be off, for the prospect of a decisive
action appealed irresistibly to all, both officers and men.

Jim Douglas, however, was found by the ship's surgeon to be suffering
from a very severe attack of prostration, which had doubtless been
brought on by his recent experiences ashore at Iquique.  Sorely against
his will, he was removed aboard the little _Esmeralda_, together with a
number of other sick men, the admiral having decided that since he was
almost certain to be obliged to fight a severe battle, he would take
with him no men save such as were absolutely sound.

Amid the commiseration of his friends, among whom was, of course,
Terence O'Meara, Jim, together with other sick men from the flagship's
crew, was put into a steam-launch and conveyed to the gunboat, from the
deck of which he watched, half an hour later, while comfortably seated
in a deck-chair, the departure of the Chilian squadron, consisting of
the _Blanco Encalada, Almirante Cochrane, O'Higgins, Chacabuco,
Magellanes_, and _Abtao_, the last-named being filled with combustibles
so that she might serve, if necessary, as a fire-ship.

The poor lad felt very keenly disappointed at being unable to accompany
the fleet and take part in the action which everybody confidently looked
forward to as being inevitable; but, had he only known it, fortune was
at that moment about to smile on him, for Rebolledo Williams did not
catch a glimpse of the Peruvians, while the _Esmeralda_ and _Covadonga_
were presently to take part in a fight which has since become world-
famous, by reason of the dauntless bravery which was exhibited by the
Chilians in the face of overwhelming odds.

Commander Arturo Prat, the captain of the _Esmeralda_, was at this time
only thirty-one years of age, but was the senior officer of the two
ships; the _Covadonga_ was commanded by Carlos Condell, whose name has
also passed into history.  As has been said, Admiral Williams, having
kept too close in under the land, altogether missed the Peruvian fleet,
which escorted President Prado safely into Arica.  The _Huascar_,
Captain Grau, and the _Independencia_, Captain J.G.  Moore, thereupon
proceeded southward in the hope of falling in with some of the Chilian
ships, and, having looked into Pisagua to make sure that the squadron of
Rebolledo Williams was not lurking there, went on again toward Iquique,
off which port they appeared at daybreak on the morning of May 21.

Jim, having had nearly a week in which to recover from his attack of
prostration, was by this time quite himself again; and it was with keen
satisfaction that he reported himself to the commander as fit for duty,
upon the appearance of the two Peruvian warships.  The lion-hearted
captain, when he saw the enormous superiority of the vessels opposed to
him, recognised at once that he would have no chance in the coming
encounter; but, quite undaunted, prepared at once for action, and
signalled to the _Covadonga_ to do the same.  Both gunboats were
fortunately under steam at the time, although the little _Esmeralda's_
boilers were in such a shocking condition that she could muster only
sufficient power to move herself as fast as a man could walk.  In a few
minutes both vessels were as completely prepared for action as it was
possible for them to be, and, calling aft his crew, many of whom were
invalids, Prat made a short speech to them, which exhibited the lion
courage of the man who has been called "the hero of Chili."  He said:

"Children, the odds are against us, but our flag has thus far never been
lowered in the presence of the enemy, and I hope that it will not be to-
day.  As long as I live that flag shall fly in its place; and if I die,
my officers will know how to do their duty."

The men were then dismissed to their quarters, and almost immediately
afterwards--at eight o'clock in the morning--the _Huascar_ fired the
first shot, which fell right between the two Chilian ships, and then
began one of the most memorable sea-fights that have ever been recorded
in history.  The Chilians at once replied with every available gun, and
the action instantly became fierce, the _Huascar_ singling out the
_Esmeralda_ as her antagonist, while the _Covadonga_ was attacked by the

The Peruvian ironclads steamed slowly along toward their prey, the
_Huascar_ firing her two 10-inch turret-guns as she came, but she was
somewhat handicapped by the circumstance that there was great risk of
her shot striking the town, which was, of course, still in Peruvian
hands.  But each of these shells weighed as much as 300 pounds; and
whenever they hit the unfortunate sloop at which they were aimed, the
effect was terrible.  One of them pierced her thin side, and penetrating
to the engine-room, burst there, killing every one of the engineers, and
partially disabling the crazy engines.  Arturo Prat, however,
immediately detached from among the invalids a squad of men to do duty
in the engine-room, and redoubled his fire upon his opponent, keeping up
such a furious fusillade with his small-arms that Captain Grau of the
_Huascar_ mistook it for machine-gun fire; and so excellent was the aim
of the marksmen that it destroyed the Peruvians who were working the
unprotected guns, and prevented them from being replaced.

Jim was here, there, and everywhere, encouraging and cheering on his
men, both with voice and example; but the odds were most fearfully
against the Chilians.  Shot fell upon the unfortunate _Esmeralda_ like
hail, and one of them shivered Douglas's sword in his hand as he waved
it above his head.  The undaunted crew of the sloop were too fully
occupied with the work of fighting the _Huascar_ to take any notice of
what was happening in the town behind them, and suddenly a shower of
shells began to hurtle over the devoted craft from shoreward.  The
Peruvians there had dragged down to the beach a battery of field-pieces,
with which they now opened a galling fire upon the _Esmeralda_.  Her
present berth at once became untenable, for she had not enough men left
to work the guns on both broadsides, and Commander Prat at once rang
down to his engine-room for "full speed ahead," the anchor having been
raised at the beginning of the action; and the doomed vessel's engines
began the last revolutions that they were ever to make.

As soon as she was seen to be slowly steaming farther out into the bay,
the captain of the _Huascar_ determined to try to ram his opponent, and
thus end the fight at once.  He accordingly steamed for the _Esmeralda_
at a speed of about eight knots, steering north-east, while the sloop
was steering due north but was only just moving through the water.

Douglas at once divined the intention of the Peruvian and shouted a
warning to Prat, who had left the bridge for a few moments in order to
assist with the repairing of a gun, the mechanism of which had become
jammed, and the gallant commander immediately sprang to his bridge-
telegraph, and rang for all the steam his boilers could give him.  But
the engineers were already getting every possible ounce of work out of
the crazy machinery, and the sloop's speed could not be increased!  For
two dreadful minutes the combatants paused, as if by mutual consent,
while the _Huascar_ rushed onward, like some fearful sea-monster, at its

But Captain Grau stopped his engines just a few seconds too soon, and
the _Esmeralda_ was within an ace of scraping clear.  She was nearly
past--only a few yards more and she would be in safety--but her wretched
engines chose just that precise moment to break down, and the sloop at
once lost her way.  The next second the Peruvian monitor struck her with
a concussion that threw every man to the deck; but the blow was
fortunately a glancing one, and the _Huascar_ rubbed harmlessly along
the sides of the sloop, coming to a standstill alongside her in
consequence of the entanglement of some raised port-shutters.

Now was the Chilian's last opportunity to snatch success out of the jaws
of failure, and Captain Prat immediately seized it.

Waving his sword above his head, he shouted: "Boarders, away!  Follow me
all who are able!"  And he sprang over the side of his ship on to the
decks of the _Huascar_.

Douglas was the second man aboard the Peruvian monitor, and he raced
along her deck, followed by only twelve men, in the wake of his gallant
commander.  The Peruvians were not prepared for the attack, as they had
quite expected to sink the little sloop with the first blow of the
_Huascar's_ ram; but they quickly recovered from their surprise and
swarmed out of the turret, and up from below, charging furiously upon
the boarders, with drawn cutlasses and revolvers.  Scarcely a man, it
appeared, had been touched aboard the Peruvian, owing to the great
thickness of her armour-plating, and her crew, being practically intact,
brought an overwhelming force to bear upon the handful of invaders, who
were instantly surrounded by their enemies.

There were but fourteen of them, all told, against quite a hundred of
the _Huascar's_ people, but they fought like the heroes they were, and
repeatedly charged home with their cutlasses, into the thick of the foe.
Prat, still at the head of his men, laid about him with his red-stained
sword, and encouraged them, both by voice and example, in the which he
was ably seconded by Douglas, who took upon himself the task of guarding
his captain's rear.  Cut and thrust, cut and thrust, the little band
raged at the Peruvians; and for a few seconds it really seemed as though
their desperate valour would prevail.  But, alas, they had all long
since emptied their revolvers, and only their blades remained to them,
many of which had been broken by the delivery and warding of furious
blows, so that many of the men were obliged to use their bare fists, or
their pistols held club-wise.

Such an unequal conflict could not long endure; the Chilians were
falling, man after man, but all fighting desperately to the very last.
Then, from somewhere up aloft, rifle-bullets began to hurtle among them,
and then the end was very near.  Looking upward, Douglas saw that a
number of Peruvians, armed with rifles, had clambered up on the roof of
the turret, and up into the _Huascar's_ low fighting-tops, and were
firing directly downward into them.

It was one of these bullets that put an end to the career of the gallant
Chilian commander.  He and Jim were fighting, shoulder to shoulder, and,
at the head of only five men, were endeavouring to cut a way through
their foes in order to regain their own ship.  Indeed, their desperate
valour had nearly carried them through when Prat, suddenly dropping his
reeking sword, put both hands up to his face, and, after swaying on his
feet for a second, fell into Jim's arms.  His face, as Douglas saw when
the dead hands fell away, was literally shot to pieces by at least half
a dozen bullets which must have struck simultaneously.  Nothing could be
done for the gallant sailor, for he must have died instantaneously, so
Jim allowed him to sink gently to the deck, and took up his own defence
again.  There were only two men now left, beside himself, and escape
seemed absolutely hopeless, when a volley of rifle-bullets plumped into
the circle of Peruvians, evidently fired by some of the few remaining
members of the sloop's crew.  Taken by surprise, the Peruvians scattered
for a moment; and Jim, with the two Chilian seamen, took advantage of
the opening and dashed through the crowd, gaining the _Huascar's_ side
in safety.  But to his horror he found that the two ships had drifted
apart, and that the _Esmeralda_ was even now steaming away, at a very
slow speed, certainly, but still far beyond the reach of the three
deserted men on the _Huascar_!

Jim took one hasty look round and then, putting his hands above his
head, plunged downward into the sea, and began to strike out after his
own ship.  A few bullets splashed harmlessly into the water alongside
him, and then the Peruvians turned their attention to other and larger
prey.  The _Huascar_ went ahead once more and, taking a wide circle,
presented her stem once more at the unfortunate _Esmeralda_.  Jim then
recognised that the sloop was doomed, and that it would be of no use for
him to strive to regain her.  It would be better to endeavour to reach
the _Covadonga_, should she still be afloat, and he looked round to see
whether he could see her.

To his great surprise, even as he was looking for her, he heard a shout
and saw the gunboat heading directly for him, with the _Independencia_
in hot pursuit.  Carlos Condell, seeing the fate of his consort, and
realising that he was hopelessly outmatched, had evidently determined to
retreat while his engines were still intact; and the _Covadonga_ was now
heading out of the bay at full speed to the southward.

For a moment Douglas thought that the ship would run over him, but a
second glance showed him that it was evidently Condell's intention to
try to pick him up.  As the _Covadonga_ approached, her captain sent his
engines hard astern, checking the vessel's speed sufficiently to allow
of Jim being picked up by a rope which, already noosed, was cleverly
thrown to him.

Although the lad thought that his body must certainly be torn in half by
the strain upon the rope, he was safely hauled aboard and deposited on
deck, whereupon Captain Condell again sent his engines ahead at full
speed and resumed his flight.  Jim was soon upon his feet again, and
almost before he had fully recovered his breath an officer came up to
him to tell him that Commander Condell wished to see him, in order to
receive a report from him as to what had, up to now, occurred aboard the
_Esmeralda_.  Jim therefore made his way to the little conning-tower
where Carlos Condell was directing the fighting of his ship; but before
he had time to enter he saw the final act in the fight between the
_Huascar_ and the _Esmeralda_.

The Peruvian had dashed straight at the sloop and, stopping his engines
when only eighty feet away from her, had struck her fairly on the
starboard broadside, piercing a huge hole in her side, through which the
water poured in cataracts.  That finished the fight; and at ten minutes
after twelve o'clock mid-day the gallant little _Esmeralda_, with her
colours still flying, and guns still firing, plunged downward out of
sight into the deep blue waters of Iquique bay, having fought a most
heroic battle against overwhelming odds.

Jim was not long in making his report to Captain Condell, and with a
glance at the _Independencia_, which was hard upon the _Covadonga's_
heels, firing as she came, he now ran down below to change into dry
clothes and equip himself with another sword and revolver; having, of
course, lost his own when he jumped into the sea.

The _Independencia_ was a slightly faster craft than the _Covadonga_,
but she drew a good deal more water; and Captain Condell, with masterly
skill, availed himself of this circumstance to the full, by running
across shoals over which the Peruvian ship dared not follow him, and by
keeping quite close in to the shore where she could not approach.
Luckily, too, the _Independencia's_ gunners were raw, and found great
difficulty in hitting the little gunboat; but whenever they did the
execution on board the small craft was tremendous, by reason of the huge
size of the projectiles.

At last, finding that he could not hit the _Covadonga_ in a vital spot,
or bring her to a standstill, Captain Moore, the Peruvian captain,
determined to risk his own ship in an endeavour to bring the running
fight to a close.  The combatants were now off Punto Gruesos, where the
shore was steeper, and the water consequently of greater depth, and
Moore decided to ram his opponent.  He gradually edged closer and closer
to the _Covadonga_--continually firing his heavy guns, to which the
Chilian replied with a withering small-arm fire--until he was separated
by only about a cable's-length from the gunboat.

He now suddenly changed his course from south to south-south-east and
steered straight for the _Covadonga_, which was within a hundred yards
of the beach, and had herself just touched a rock in her passage over
it.  But alas for the Peruvian, she missed her blow, and struck
immediately upon the rock over which the gunboat had a moment before
passed, becoming immovably fixed there.

"Now," roared Condell to the helmsman, "up with the helm, and we will go
about and destroy that fellow completely.  Senor Douglas," he continued,
to Jim, "kindly go down and superintend the working of that forward 70-
pounder gun; I am told that the lieutenant in charge has been killed by
the _Independencia's_ last shot."

Jim ran off, as requested, and took charge of the weapon, while the
_Covadonga_, describing a wide curve, wheeled round until she presented
her bow to the wrecked Peruvian, and at a distance of about half a mile,
began to plump shell right into her stern.  Jim made excellent practice
with the gun, and put shot after shot into the hapless vessel, each of
which, entering her stern, passed through the whole length of the ship,
finally setting her on fire in several places.  Then, the
_Independencia's_ hull having very nearly filled with water, she fell
over on her side and became a complete wreck.  Jim, however, still
continued his firing until a man on board the Peruvian crawled aft and,
hauling down the colours, hoisted a white flag in its place.  The
_Covadonga_ then, and only then, ceased firing.

But unfortunately she could not enjoy the fruits of her victory, for, at
the very moment when the Peruvian surrendered, the _Huascar_, having
picked up the survivors of the _Esmeralda's_ crew, made her appearance
beyond the western end of the island which forms the south side of the
bay of Iquique.  The gunboat was, of course, no match for the monitor;
and Condell was therefore reluctantly compelled to abandon the
_Independencia_ and seek his own safety in flight to the southward.

Jim therefore fired a gun in defiance at the _Huascar_, which
immediately took up the pursuit, and the _Covadonga_ steamed away toward
Antofagasta, which she reached on the following day, having run the
_Huascar_ out of sight; that ship being unable to steam very fast in
consequence of an injury to her bow, caused by the ramming of the



On reaching Antofagasta the _Covadonga_ went into the roads and lay
inside the reef which stretches across their entrance; and there, her
captain, Carlos Condell, telegraphed to Valparaiso, giving details of
the previous day's fight, and asking for further orders, while he set
about repairing the very extensive damage which had been sustained by
his ship in her fight with the _Independencia_.  On the following day
Condell received news from Valparaiso to the effect that the Chilian
fleet had gone north to Callao; and was instructed that he himself was
to rejoin as soon as he received word from Iquique that Admiral Williams
had returned to that port.  He was further instructed to proceed,
meanwhile, as rapidly as possible, with the repairs to his own ship.

The gunboat was accordingly hauled alongside the wharf at Antofagasta,
her heavy guns were lifted out of her, and the vessel was careened in
order that the shot-holes below her water-line might be plugged.

As the work on the _Covadonga_ would, it was expected, occupy at least a
fortnight, Jim Douglas applied to Commander Condell for leave to go
ashore occasionally, that he might explore the quaint old town, which
dated back to a period long anterior to the conquest of Peru by Pizarro
and his band of adventurers.

During his short sojourn on board the _Covadonga_ Jim had formed a
rather intimate acquaintanceship with her first lieutenant, a man named
Jorge Montt; and one evening, after he had returned from one of his
periodical surveys of the town, Jim entered the tiny mess-room to find
Montt discoursing at length to an eager circle of listeners upon the
legends and traditions of old Peru.

"Yes," Montt was saying, as Douglas entered, "it is an undisputed fact
that there are thousands--nay, tens of thousands--of the descendants of
the ancient Inca race now living in Peru, Bolivia, and upper Chili, who
implicitly believe that a time will come when the Incas will regain
their old supremacy, drive all the Latin races out of this part of South
America, and re-establish the old Inca monarchy once more, in all its
pristine glory.  You know, of course, that there are many stories extant
in this country as to the existence of vast hoards of buried treasure?
Well, it is prophesied, I believe, that one day a man shall arise in
Peru who shall head a vast Indian insurrection and drive the
`oppressors' into the sea; and his power will, it is said, be derived
from these enormous hoards of buried treasure, the locality of which is
well known among the Incas, and which will be revealed to the
`Libertador'--when he makes his appearance.  The study of these Indian
traditions is very interesting, I assure you, gentlemen," he concluded.

"But then," remarked Jim, who had sat down and was listening intently,
"nearly all semi-civilised races have traditions of the same sort.  Take
the North American Indians, for instance; or the Zulus.  Why, even the
Chinese believe that one day a chief will arise among them who shall
lead them to the conquest of the whole world!  I do not think there is
very much in these old legends.  Every nation has them, in some form or

"Yes, that is so," agreed Montt; "but I have studied the history of the
Inca races very closely, and, so far as my experience goes, there is no
nation on earth whose prophecies are so likely to come to pass as are
theirs.  I am personally aware of many occasions on which prophecies
made by members of this strange race have come true in the most
marvellous way.  For myself, I feel convinced that the Incas really have
some means, unknown to us, of foretelling future events; for I once
visited in my youth an old woman in this very town of Antofagasta, who
prophesied many things about my future, many of which have, so far, come
true, and the rest of which will doubtless happen in due time."

Montt finished his remarks to the accompaniment of a chorus of derisive
laughter, and a number of voices were raised in protest against his
attempted imposition upon their credulity.  Whereupon the lieutenant
became somewhat angry, and replied shortly:

"Well, gentlemen, you may believe me or not, as you please; but it is
the truth that I am telling you; and I can take you to that identical
personage, if you wish, for I believe she still lives here, and you can
therefore experiment for yourselves, should you feel so inclined.  For
my own part I believe implicitly everything that she told me.  Now, are
any of you willing to accompany me to this Inca woman's house and put
her powers to the test?"

There was a lengthy pause, for all the officers were either Chilians or
of Chilian descent, and the South American races are notoriously
superstitious.  But Jim, being an Englishman, had no qualms; and he
felt, for some reason or other, a great curiosity to see this strange
personage.  He therefore replied:

"Well, Montt, if none of these other gentlemen feel disposed to go with
you, perhaps you will have no objection to take me?  I am very much
interested in all matters of this kind, and I have been impressed by
what you have just told us.  I should very much like to go with you, if
you don't mind."

Montt bowed gravely and answered: "By all means, Senor Douglas; I shall
be only too pleased; for I am sure that the woman would interest you,
whether you believe in second sight or not.  I shall be off duty to-
morrow evening, after six o'clock.  We shall dine at half-past, as
usual, I suppose: how would half-past seven suit you as the time for
going ashore?  We could be back before midnight, easily, if we went at
that time."

"Yes," Douglas agreed, "that time will suit me very well, Senor Montt;
and I shall look forward to our expedition with great interest."

The conversation then turned upon other matters, and the subject was
dropped; but the next evening, after dinner, Douglas reminded Montt of
their arrangement; and the two men, dressing themselves in mufti,
stepped off the _Covadonga_ on to the wharf, and made their way up into
the town.

They walked along the sea-front, where the horse-trams were wont to ply
before the electric cars were introduced, right away up to the north end
of the promenade, until they came to the Hotel de Sucre, where they
turned off to the right, up a very narrow and badly-lighted side-street,
which conducted them into a part of the city very much resembling the
place in Iquique into which Jim had been inveigled.  Indeed Jim began to
have some doubts as to the wisdom of their little adventure when he saw
the evil glances and scowls of hatred which everywhere met them on their
progress; for it was not so very long that the Chilians had occupied the

However, Montt betrayed not the slightest uneasiness, and assured his
friend that the Bolivians always looked askance at strangers in the
city, and as they were both dressed in mufti, so that their connection
with the Chilians was not apparent, the young Englishman decided not to
worry himself about the matter, but to trust entirely to his companion's

They traversed a number of narrow side-streets and gloomy alleys, and
presently came out in the broad _Plaza de la Libertad_, where some
patriotic orator was volubly holding forth about the rights of man and
the iniquity of the Chilian invasion.  Montt hurriedly seized Jim's arm
as the Englishman was on the point of crossing the road to hear what the
orator had to say, and guided him away to the left, so that they skirted
the _plaza_ instead of crossing it.

"The people seem in rather an excitable mood to-night," said the
lieutenant; "we had therefore better make ourselves as inconspicuous as
possible.  I wonder what has occurred?  Possibly there may have been
some battle, in which the Bolivians have been defeated.  I would not
have come ashore had I thought that the city was likely to be in this
state of unrest.  However, as we are here we may as well go forward; so
come along, and let us get away from this frothing volcano as soon as we
can.  We will turn down this side-street; it is not very much out of our
way, and we shall be out of sight of the crowd all the sooner."

Jim readily acquiesced, as a good many of the people whom they met
seemed to regard them with anything but friendly glances, and the two
men hurried away down the Calle San Antonio, where they soon got out of
range of the angry growling of the mob.

"Can't imagine what's wrong here to-night," muttered Montt, in a low
voice, "but it must be either, as I said, that we have defeated their
countrymen somewhere on land, or else that one of our ships has sunk or
captured the _Huascar_; nothing less would, I imagine, have roused them
to such a pitch of excitement.  We Chilians are maintaining a
ridiculously small army of occupation here; far too small for the
purpose, in my opinion; and if the Bolivians were to turn restive, as
they seem very much inclined to do, we should have rather a bad time of
it, I am afraid.  However, we are not far away from the house where this
old Inca witch-woman, or whatever she calls herself, lives.  It used to
be in one of the small hovels on the right side of the street we are
just coming to."

They turned into the street--or, rather, alley--indicated by Montt, and
at once found themselves in a cobble-paved and exceedingly ill-lighted
thoroughfare, flanked on either side by a curious assortment of huge,
old-time houses, which were doubtless, at one period, the dwellings of
high Government officials, and tiny, tumbledown hovels, which seemed to
have sprung up, like fungi or some other evil growth, on the small
spaces of ground which had formerly been left vacant between the larger

Half-way down this evil-looking, evil-smelling, and squalid alley Montt
called a halt and, looking round carefully, remarked:

"Now, Senor Douglas, so far as I can remember--for it is a good many
years since I was here before--this is the house; but as I see no sign
of any light in the place, the old woman may have gone away, or died.
However, having come thus far, we will try our luck."  And the
lieutenant knocked softly upon the door.

The sound echoed dully through the little building, but otherwise the
silence remained unbroken; it seemed as though the place was indeed

"_Caramba_!" exclaimed Montt, "I don't believe there is anybody here,
after all; what a pity!  I do not care to knock too loudly, either, for
fear of attracting the attention of the neighbours.  They are a queer
lot down in this quarter, I can tell you.  Hallo! did you hear anything
moving inside there, just then, Douglas?"

Jim listened intently for a few seconds, then replied: "Yes, I think I
_do_ hear something prowling about in there, but--upon my word, Montt,
it sounds more like a--a--well, an animal than a human being; and--what
a very curious smell there is; quite like--let me see--" here the young
officer sniffed several times--"yes," he continued after a pause, "it is
quite like the odour of a wild beast!"

"_Per Dios_! you are right," exclaimed the lieutenant, sniffing in turn.
"And I remember that last time I visited this place the old woman
certainly seemed to carry with her an uncanny, musty, animal odour.
Therefore it is probably she.  I will knock again."

Montt thereupon drew from his jacket pocket a revolver, which he had
taken the precaution to bring with him, and tapped softly on the door
with its butt.

This time there followed a plainly perceptible "shuffle-shuffle" like
the soft padding of a heavy animal's paws, and both men started
violently when, directly afterward, and from the other side of the door,
a whining voice inquired--

"Who knocks at my door?  Go away, whoever you are.  I am a poor, lone
old woman, and if you dis--"

"Are you the Inca woman, Mama Huello?" broke in Montt; "for, if so, we
wish to consult you.  We are two naval officers who have heard of your
wonderful powers of foretelling the future, and we should like to have a
demonstration of them."

There was a pause, and then the whining voice replied: "Yes, I am the
Mama Huello; wait ye there for a short time, while I prepare for your

Again that curious shuffling sound was heard, and Jim somehow felt a
shiver of fear run down his spine.  It was only a disordered fancy, of
course; but to him it certainly seemed as though the voice proceeded
from an animal, rather than from a human being.  Then Montt remarked:

"She must surely have a big dog, or some other pet animal with her, I
should think, for I distinctly heard the `pad-pad' of paws when the Mama
turned away.  I hope the creature will not attempt to worry us, under
the impression that we mean harm to the old woman."

Jim did not reply.  He felt instinctively that they would find no animal
there when they entered the house; but he had no further time for
reflection, for, at that moment, the door opened with startling
suddenness, and a voice invited them to enter.

Montt stepped inside, and Jim followed close upon his heels.  The door
shut after them, of its own accord, apparently; and they found
themselves in a narrow stone-flagged passage, which was dimly lighted by
an oil-lamp with a large red shade over it.  The whitewashed walls were
covered with all manner of hieroglyphs and drawings, the meaning of
which Jim could not fathom.  Nor had he much time to examine them, for
the voice of the Mama, still proceeding from some unseen quarter,
invited them to go forward, and they presently found themselves in a
large apartment, built of stone, upon the walls of which hung rich silks
and cloths made of vicuna-wool, together with a number of other
articles, evidently of ancient native manufacture, the like of which the
young Englishman had never seen before.  To say that he was astonished
at the barbaric splendour of the apartment is to put it very mildly; and
he could not understand how it was that such an apparently diminutive
house could contain a room of such large size as the one in which he now

But he soon forgot his astonishment in watching the extraordinary owner
of the place.  She was a wizened little woman, of an age far beyond the
allotted threescore years and ten, if appearances went for anything; but
it was her face and hands that riveted Jim's attention and excited his
disgust.  Her features bore a strongly marked resemblance to those of an
animal of the cat species, and her teeth were all pointed instead of
being square; while her hands resembled claws, the fingers were hooked
and skinny, and the nails were discoloured and extraordinarily long.
Taken altogether, it was a personality to excite repulsion and fear in
any one brought in contact with it, and Douglas felt another strong
shiver run down his back as he looked at her.  She stood in the middle
of the room, leaning upon a thick ebony stick, and peering out from
beneath her overhanging eyebrows at the two young officers, with an
expression which they could not quite fathom, and which seemed to be
reading their very souls.  Then Montt pulled himself together and

"We have heard of your powers, Mama, and we have come to ask you to
foretell the future to us.  As I said before, we are both naval officers
in the service of--well--I won't say what country; and we are anxious to
learn what may be in store for us.  Will you read our lives?"

"Sit ye both down there," replied the old crone, pointing to a richly
cushioned couch which was placed against one of the walls.  "If ye
really wish to know the future I can tell it ye.  Oh yes, the Mama can
tell ye.  You, Don Jorge Montt, have visited me before--seven years ago;
and I told you many things about your future.  Have they yet come to

Montt started.  He had not expected that she would again recognise him,
for he was very much changed in appearance; and her remembrance of his
name, and the date when he last visited her, seemed rather to savour of
the uncanny.

"Yes, Mama," he replied, "I did visit you at the time you mention; and
all that you told me has, so far, proved true.  But men's actions govern
their lives, and I thought that, perhaps, mine might have altered my
future.  You did not forecast a very prosperous career for me then, you

"You speak truth, Don Jorge," replied the woman.  "Your brave deeds in
the past have indeed influenced your future; and methinks I shall see
great things in store for you.  I will read your future first, my
officer," she went on.  "Come over here, and sit in this chair.  Yes,
that is it.  Now do not speak until I give you permission; nor you
either, Senor Englishman.  Ha!  You wonder how I know your nationality,
do you not?  I will show you stranger things than that, however, before
you leave."

Montt having taken his seat in the chair, as directed, the Mama brought
from a corner of the room a large copper brazier, on the top of which
was a bowl of the same metal.  Having filled the brazier with hot coals,
which she took from a fire burning in the open hearth, she waited
patiently for the metal bowl to become hot.

After the lapse of perhaps ten minutes the copper basin began to glow
dully red, and the witch-woman thereupon poured into it some powder,
which she took from a little gold casket.

Immediately a great cloud of smoke rushed up from the bowl, and, to
Jim's unbounded amazement, hung suspended over it, without mingling with
the air of the room, as he had expected it would.  At the same time a
delightful odour greeted his nostrils, and he began to experience a
delicious sensation of drowsiness stealing over him, while to his ears
there seemed to come a faint sound as of music being played at a
distance.  The outlines of the room began to vanish and fade away,
little by little, until the only thing that remained before his eyes was
the column, or rather ball, of smoke which now appeared gradually to
assume larger dimensions, until at length he seemed to be looking into a
dense mist, wherein he could at that moment discern nothing.  And all
the time his sensation of drowsiness was becoming stronger and still
stronger, until he seemed to be in a state of semi-coma, very much like
that induced by the use of opium.

Then, quite suddenly, his lassitude left him, his senses became
preternaturally acute, and a sense of well-being and complete
satisfaction pervaded his whole being.  The mist into which he was
gazing became faintly luminous, and strange shapes began to flit across
it; shapes the like of which he had never seen in his life before.  Then
something approached him and rested its head upon his knee.  He looked
down and saw that the "something" was a huge jaguar or South American
tiger; and it bore a striking resemblance to the woman, Mama Huello.
But, strange to say, Jim felt no sensation of fear; instead, his whole
being seemed to be quivering with eagerness to see what was to be
displayed upon the curtain of mist, still stretched before him.

The light became stronger and stronger, and the cloud more luminous,
until it seemed to be a mass of living flame; and presently, out of the
mist, pictures began to shape themselves one after another, in rapid

Jim saw his friend, Montt, as the central figure in many battles,
conducting himself with unexampled bravery, and covering himself with
glory.  Scenes occurred which Douglas knew, instinctively, related to
the war at present in progress.  He saw the lieutenant in command of a
small gunboat fighting an action against a whole Peruvian fleet, and
coming off victorious, though sorely wounded.  Then many years seemed to
elapse, during which Montt had apparently attained to a high position in
the Chilian navy.  The country was now divided against itself, was in
the throes of revolution, and Montt was the leading spirit among the
insurgents.  He carried all before him by the magic of his consummate
genius, and out of anarchy created concord.  Then the scene changed
again, and Jim beheld the representation of a broad _plaza_ in some city
which he had never visited but which some sixth sense told him was
Santiago de Chili.  Montt, now supreme head of the Chilian navy, was
just issuing from a building fronting on the square.  It was night-time,
and the man was clothed in a heavy black cloak which he had flung round
his shoulders.  Montt descended the steps leading from the house, and
started to walk across the square, when suddenly, from behind the large
fountain which played in the middle of the _plaza_, there sprang four
men, all masked and armed with knives.  There was a brief struggle, a
shrill scream, and Montt fell pierced by the daggers of his enemies.

Then the scene vanished from before Jim's eyes, and he knew that his own
future was about to be presented to him.  He saw himself once more back
on board the _Blanco_ _Encalada_, and knew that that ship, together with
another Chilian vessel, was engaged in a fierce fight with a Peruvian
ironclad, the name of which was hidden from him.  The Chilians were
victorious, although the carnage on both sides had been enormous, and
Jim perceived that he himself had been wounded.  Several other actions
passed across the screen of mist, in all of which Douglas took a leading
part, distinguishing himself brilliantly, and receiving rapid promotion.
The scene then changed from sea to land, and Jim knew that he was
detailed for shore service in some obscure town among the Bolivian
mountains.  He could distinctly see the whole picture laid out before
him, and he knew instinctively that some great good fortune was awaiting
him when the time should come for him to visit that place.

As he stood, or rather seemed to stand, gazing out over the scene, it
vanished from before his eyes; and a voice, like that of the Mama
Huello, spoke, saying:

"You, Senor Englishman, shall come to great honours through your own
exertions and bravery; but I also see great riches before you, of which
you shall obtain possession with but little trouble on your part.  They
are still under the earth, but in due time, and in a manner little
suspected by you, their whereabouts shall be revealed to you, and you
shall become a great man and a powerful chief in the land of your

The voice ceased, and a rumbling sound seemed to make itself heard in
Jim's ears.  Then the cloud of mist slowly dissolved, and the outlines
of the room wherein he was seated gradually came back to his senses.
Yes, there was the copper brazier, but the glow had vanished from the
coals, which were now black and cold.  Montt was still seated in his
chair, looking like a statue carved out of marble, and Jim found himself
still on the couch whereon he had first placed himself.  The curious
feeling of drowsiness gradually left him, and the figure of Mama Huello
appeared, still standing close to Montt and the copper brazier,
apparently in the same position as she had taken up when the mist began
to appear before his eyes, and she was laughing, a grim, noiseless
chuckle that disclosed all her white, pointed teeth.

Suddenly the spell broke, and Montt and Jim rose to their feet
simultaneously, the former wiping the cold perspiration from his brow,
and smiling in a curiously strained manner.

"Well, Mama," he said, "you have shown us some very strange things, I
must say.  I only hope that the last part of your prophecy concerning
myself will not come true.  Here you are, Mama," he went on, feeling in
his pockets for a coin, "here is a five-_peso_ piece for you.  I hope
you will consider the payment sufficient."

The old Inca woman grabbed the coin and hid it away in the recesses of
her girdle.  "Quite sufficient, gallant cavalier," she replied.  "Your
generosity has not withered with the years.  You are a brave man; and I
would that I might have shown you a more pleasant ending to your life;
but fate is fate, and there is no changing it.  _Adios, senores, adios_;
I do not think we shall ever meet again.  You, Senor Englishman, go
forward to honour and fame; while you, Don Jorge Montt, go forward to
honour and--death!  But you will meet it with the brave heart; and it
will not be very bitter when it comes."

By this time the two men had reached the door, which the Mama now
opened, and a moment later Montt and Douglas were in the street, which
was now illuminated by the rays of the full moon.  As the door closed
behind them Montt shivered, although the night was oppressively hot, and
Jim could have sworn that he heard the sound of an animal's pads
retreating down the passage behind them.

The two men swiftly pulled themselves together, however, and started off
for the _Covadonga_, which they reached just as the first faint flush of
dawn made its appearance in the eastern sky.



The day following the joint adventure of Douglas and Montt in
Antofagasta a telegram arrived for the skipper of the _Covadonga_,
ordering him to leave the place immediately, and rejoin the flag at
Valparaiso without delay.  All shore leave was accordingly stopped, and
that same evening the gunboat raised her anchor and steamed out of
Chimba Bay, on her way to the headquarters port.  The telegram had also
contained a warning that the Peruvian warships _Huascar_ and _Union_
were prowling up and down the coast, and, as each one separately was a
good deal more than a match for the little _Covadonga_, it behoved her
captain to keep a very sharp look-out for any sign of the enemy,
especially as the gunboat was not fast enough to enable her to rely upon
her speed for safety.

Men were, consequently, posted at the mastheads, with orders to report
directly any sign of a strange ship was seen, and the ship slid slowly
along under the stars, keeping as close in to the land as possible.  As
soon as his watch was at an end that night, Douglas, feeling rather
tired after his experience of the previous evening, went down below and
turned into his bunk; and it was not very long before he was in the land
of dreams.

It seemed to him that he had only just fallen asleep when he was rudely
awakened by a commotion up on deck.  He lay half awake in his bunk for a
minute or two, and heard men running about overhead, the sound of
excited voices shouting, and then, loud and clear above the uproar, rang
out Carlos Condell's voice giving orders for the men to be called to
quarters and the guns to be cast loose.  Evidently, thought Jim, there
was more fighting in the wind.  He quickly tumbled into his clothes,
slung his uniform ulster over his shoulders, for the night was cold, and
stumbled up on deck, every pulse in him throbbing with excitement at the
anticipation of another encounter with the enemy.

As he dashed up through the hatchway he cannoned into, and almost
knocked down, his friend Montt, who was rushing forward with orders from
the skipper.

"Hallo, Montt!"  Jim ejaculated, "what's the matter this time?"

"Two steamers have just been sighted coming out of Chaneral Bay, and
heading this way," returned the Chilian, breathlessly.  "They are
believed to be the _Huascar_ and the corvette _Union_, and it looks as
though they had been up to some mischief in there, for there is a big
glare away to the south-east--there, you can see it for yourself!--which
seems to point to their having set something on fire.  But you mustn't
keep me now, my friend, for it is `all hands to quarters and prepare for
action'; and, if it should prove to be as we believe, we shall have a
tough fight to get clear of these two fellows."  And the gallant first
lieutenant bustled away to carry out his orders.

Looking in the direction indicated by Montt, Jim could plainly see the
dull, lurid glare of a large fire away to the south-east; and, outlined
sharply against the glow, he could also make out, even from the level of
the deck, a brig-rigged steamer, which could be none other than the
Peruvian monitor; and she was accompanied by a large, three-masted,
ship-rigged steamer which was undoubtedly the corvette _Union_.  Whether
the enemy had yet sighted the _Covadonga_ was still doubtful, for the
gunboat was close in under the high cliffs which formed the coastline at
that point, and they would hardly be on the look-out for a vessel so
near in to the land.  But when they got nearer to her they could hardly
help sighting her; and her only hope of ultimate escape was to avoid
detection, if possible, until she was nearly abreast of the Peruvians,
and then to make a running fight of it, trusting more to her heels than
to her fighting powers to enable her to get away.

But the _Covadonga_ could scarcely hope to avoid a fight of some sort;
and her gallant skipper, Condell, was not at all the sort of man to wish
to do so.  He would at any time much rather stay and fight than run,
even though hopelessly outmatched; but orders were orders, and he was
wanted at Valparaiso, so for once he was forced to acknowledge
discretion as the better part of valour.

At this moment, the "word" having been quietly passed, the men came
tumbling up on deck, and Jim was obliged to abandon his survey of the
Peruvians and attend to his duty of getting his own particular battery
of guns ready for the coming encounter.  In about ten minutes everything
was prepared, and Montt, the first lieutenant, marched into the tiny
conning-tower and reported to Condell, "Ship cleared for action, sir."
Jim was then free, for a short time at any rate, to turn his attention
once more to the swiftly approaching steamers, which were travelling so
fast as to give the impression that they feared pursuit.

"If," mused Jim, "the _Almirante Cochrane_ or some other of our ships
are really after these fellows it will probably mean the saving of us,
for the _Huascar_ and the _Union_ will in that case hardly dare to
remain and fight against us.

"Ah!--" he continued, as he saw a rocket stream up into the air from the
_Huascar_, "they have sighted us, that is clear, and we shall have to
fight after all.  Yes; here they come!  They are both altering their
course now, and heading directly for us.  I was afraid we should not
escape detection."

The Peruvians, which had been heading off the land, had now turned
slightly, and were pointing about north-north-west, directly for the
spot where the _Covadonga_ was creeping along under the land, and Jim
could see the dull red glare above their funnels which showed that the
stokers were coaling up vigorously.

Condell now shouted down the voice-tube to the engine-room, ordering the
staff to let him have as much steam as the boilers would carry, and rang
for full speed at the same time.  The little gunboat began to quiver
from stem to stern, from truck to keel, under the increased pulsations
of the throbbing screw, while the curl of white water at her bows
gradually crept higher and still higher up her stem as her speed
increased, until she swept along at her best pace of about nine knots in
the hour.

As she ran down the coast the _Huascar_ and the _Union_ both pointed
their bows more and more shoreward, as if to cut off the gunboat; and it
began to look very much as though there was no hope for the _Covadonga_,
when suddenly another rocket, blue this time, soared up from the
monitor, and she described a wide circle seaward once more, her consort
following her example.  Jim immediately guessed that Admiral Grau had,
like a prudent man, had a leadsman at work on board his ship, and that
the Peruvian skipper had suddenly found himself in danger of running
aground through standing so close inshore.

The two hostile warships then eased down to half-speed, and kept on a
course parallel with the shore, and at a distance of about a mile away
from it.  As the _Covadonga_ herself was obliged, by reason of shoals
and sunken reefs, to keep at a distance of quite half a mile from the
beach, this left her an avenue of escape just about half a mile in
width.  But although the _Huascar_ and the _Union_ could not approach
closer than eight or nine hundred yards from the gunboat, she would
still have to run the gauntlet of their fire, and they could easily
destroy her, by gun-fire alone, at six times that distance.  There did
not appear to be very much hope for the _Covadonga_, thought Jim, unless
she could somehow manage to disable her antagonists--a very unlikely
contingency, owing to the smallness of her guns, or unless a Chilian
ship should happen to be in the neighbourhood and be attracted to the
spot by the sound of the firing which was bound to open in a few

When the _Covadonga_ had approached to within about a mile of the
Peruvian ironclads, Jim saw the _Huascar_ go about and heave-to, with
her bows pointing to the south, while the _Union_ came foaming along on
her original course, which was parallel to that of the gunboat, and
about half a mile distant from it to seaward.

"Aha!" thought he to himself, "so that is the manoeuvre, is it?  Grau is
going to get us between two fires if he can.  As soon as the corvette is
past us she too will swing round and attack us with her bow-guns while
the _Huascar_ rakes us with her stern weapons.  It looks as though the
_Covadonga_ were in for a hot time!"

The young Englishman's surmise soon proved correct; for directly the
_Union_ had passed out of the line of fire the _Huascar_ opened with one
of her turret 300-pounder guns.  The first shell passed close ahead of
the gunboat, but it was aimed much too high, and struck the cliffs on
the _Covadonga's_ port beam, exploding with a brilliant flash of light
and a roaring concussion that sent ton after ton of rock hurtling down
into the sea.  The corvette was now abreast of the Chilian ship, and as
she drew level she let fly her whole broadside, consisting of one 100-
pounder, one 70-pounder, and six 40-pounders, at the devoted gunboat.

The effect was as though a hurricane of fire and steel had broken loose
aboard the _Covadonga_.  Three of her smaller machine-guns, together
with their crews, were blown to atoms, while her bulwarks were levelled
with the decks in several places.  The execution on board was terrible;
and Jim had an exceedingly narrow escape, for at the moment when the
_Union_ fired he was just entering the little conning-tower with a
communication for Captain Condell, and a 100-pounder shell struck full
upon one of the _Covadonga's_ 70-pounder gun-shields, tearing a portion
of it away.  It then burst into a thousand fragments, one of which
whizzed past Jim's head and struck the conning-tower beside him with
such force that the piece of metal weighing several pounds was firmly
embedded in the soft steel of which the tower was constructed, while Jim
was dazed with the shock and half blinded by the flying iron dust and
grains of powder.

He managed to stagger inside the citadel just as the _Huascar_ let fly
with one of her 40-pounder guns, the shell from which struck full upon
the very spot on the deck where he had been standing ten seconds
previously, ripping a huge hole in the iron sheathing with which it was
covered, and then exploding right over the engine-room hatch, which
luckily was protected by a bomb-proof grating.

When Jim had at length cleared his eyes of dust and powder he delivered
his message to the captain and was about to leave, but Condell requested
him to remain, saying that he might want to make use of him.  Montt was
in the conning-tower, carrying out Condell's orders as to the working of
the engines, while the skipper himself watched carefully through the
narrow observation-slit in the citadel, waiting for the moment when he
might begin to open an effectual fire upon the enemy.

At length the moment arrived.  The _Covadonga_ had come up level with
the Peruvian monitor, and the _Union_, being obliged to circle to
seaward as she found herself in shoal water, was about three-quarters of
a mile astern, although still firing incessantly.  Condell gave one last
look round and then shouted "_Fire_!" through the voice-tube which led
to the gunboat's little turret.  Immediately there came a deafening roar
and a tremendous concussion, as the two 70-pounders hurled forth their
shells at the _Huascar_, and a dense cloud of white smoke drifted down
upon the conning-tower, filling it with acrid fumes and momentarily
blotting out the view.

When it cleared away it was seen that it had been a most lucky
discharge, for one shell had struck full upon the monitor's military
mast, causing it to fall lengthwise along the ship, partly wrecking the
funnel and a number of ventilators, while the other had apparently
penetrated an open gun-port and thus reached some part of the ship's
boiler-room, for columns of steam were seen issuing from every available
opening on the monitor's midship section.

"Load again, men; load again!" cried Douglas, quite forgetting himself
in the excitement of the moment.

"Another discharge like that, and we shall have the fellow completely
crippled.  Hurrah for the gallant little _Covadonga_!"

He was recalled to his senses by a short, sharp laugh from Condell, who
remarked, with a grim smile: "Surely, Senor Douglas, you are not going
to take away the command of my ship from me, are you?"

Jim, of course, promptly apologised, explaining that it was owing to the
excitement that he had forgotten himself, but Condell told him to think
no more of it, as it was the sort of spirit that he liked to see a young
man display.  There was little time for conversation, however, for the
_Huascar_, as though in revenge for the damage inflicted by her puny
enemy, again discharged her whole broadside--or at least so much of it
as was still capable of being fired; and the marksmanship was so
excellent that every missile again struck the _Covadonga_, while at the
same moment the _Union_ again started firing with her bow-guns, and a
100-pounder shell struck the gunboat full upon the stern, blowing a huge
hole in it, killing four men, and shooting away the ensign-staff and

When the smoke cleared away Douglas saw that their flag was gone, and at
the same time heard the sound of cheering coming across the water from
the _Huascar_--the Peruvians were under the impression that the gunboat
had struck!  But they were soon to be undeceived, for Jim rushed out of
the conning-tower and down below, presently reappearing with another
ensign under his arm.  He then ran aft and proceeded to fix the spare
staff, under a perfect hail of rifle-bullets from the monitor and
corvette, and, having done so, ran up the flag amid cheers from the
_Covadonga_.  Then he went forward once more to his place in the
conning-tower, which he reached just as Condell gave orders for the
battery of 70-pounders to be fired again.

"Bravely done, gallantly done, my young friend," said the skipper, as
Jim made his appearance; "I won't forget that action of yours if we come
through all right."

Both of the _Covadonga's_ shells at this moment burst on board the
monitor, one of them blowing her short squat funnel clean over the side,
while the other, by one of the strange happenings of war, entered her
hull through the same gun-port as the previous shell, working still
further havoc in the _Huascar's_ engine-room.

The gunboat had by this time drawn considerably ahead of the monitor,
and Condell soon saw that the latter was too seriously crippled in her
engines to pursue.  Yet she still continued firing with deadly effect,
and the _Union_ was slowly but surely creeping up astern.  The skipper
therefore ordered his men to turn their whole attention to the corvette
and try to disable her also, since they would soon be beyond the range
of the _Huascar's_ guns.  Every weapon was thereupon trained astern, and
the accuracy of the little gunboat's fire was soon apparent, for on
board the corvette one of the forward 100-pounders was dismounted and
silenced, several Nordenfeldts were damaged and put out of action, and a
luckily placed solid shot struck the _Union's_ foremast full upon the
cap, wrecking it and bringing the upper spars down, with disastrous
effect to the men on deck below.

Indeed it began to look as though the plucky little ship would escape
after all, for she was now beyond range of all but the _Huascar's_
heaviest guns, while the _Union_ had been obliged to slacken speed
considerably in order to enable her to get her wreckage cleared away.
But Condell surmised that the Peruvians must have shrewdly guessed at
his destination, and he knew that they would not give up the chase so
long as there was a chance of getting him again under their guns.
Moreover, he had still nearly three hundred and fifty miles to go before
he could reach safety,--more than a day and a half's steaming!

The _Covadonga_ very soon ran the _Huascar_ hull-down, and had left the
corvette about five miles astern before the latter got the wreckage of
her foremast cleared away and resumed her pursuit at full speed; but
Condell had improved the shining hour by putting his own little ship to
rights, and getting up more powder and shell in readiness for the
renewed attack which he knew must come.

Day had just begun to dawn when the _Union_ again opened fire, and her
first shell unluckily cut the tiller-chains on board the gunboat, so
that the _Covadonga_ very nearly ran up on the beach before the chain
could be repaired and the ship again got under control; indeed, Jim
distinctly felt her keel scrape as she ran over a shoal which stretched
out about half a mile into the sea.  By the greatest good fortune,
however, she got clear, and again resumed her attempt at escape.  But
the Peruvian ship had by this time lessened her distance to about two
miles, and was firing so accurately that nearly every shot came aboard
Condell's little ship, which, however, still continued to reply
pluckily, and with such precision that she did a considerable amount of
damage to the _Union_.

Then suddenly it seemed as though the end had come, for a particularly
well-aimed shell came hurtling into the _Covadonga_, close to her
rudder-post, almost entirely destroying the rudder, and smashing one of
the blades clean off the propeller.  As a consequence, her speed
immediately dropped to about five knots, and Condell ground his teeth
with rage.  If they could but have held out a little longer all might
have been well, and he might have escaped into one of the shallow bays
abounding on the coast where there was too little water for his heavily
armed enemy to follow.  He felt that it was cruelly hard.  But the brave
skipper was not yet beaten; far from it.  He was determined to fight to
the bitter end and, if need be, go down with his colours flying and guns
firing, as did his friend and brother officer, Arturo Prat, on board the
_Huascar_ at the battle of Iquique Bay, in which he, Condell, also took
part.  Surrender?  No; perish the thought!

"Two columns of smoke approaching from the southwest, sir," suddenly
reported Douglas, who had been attentively gazing southward through the
slit in the conning-tower, "and we are raising them so fast that they
must be steaming hard, whoever they may be.  Is it possible, I wonder,
that they are two of our ships brought up by the firing?"

"Where, Senor Douglas?  Allow me to look!" ejaculated Condell excitedly.
"By all that's wonderful, if you are right it means that we are saved!
Be so good as to bring me my glass, young man, as quickly as possible.
Every moment is now very precious."

Douglas was back in less than a minute, carrying the telescope, by the
aid of which it was presently seen that the approaching steamers were
undoubtedly warships; one of them having very much the appearance of the
_Magellanes_, while the other, a corvette, might be either the
_O'Higgins_ or the _Chacabuco_.

Condell looked long at the approaching ships, and then turned to look at
the _Union_.  The Peruvian was fast coming up astern, and could not now
be more than a mile away.  She was still firing remorselessly into the
gunboat, and apparently had not noticed the smoke columns.

"Now," shouted Condell to his men, "there is the _Union_, and yonder are
two of our ships coming up.  We will stand and fight where we are, for
we can no longer run; and we must endeavour to disable the Peruvian so
effectually that she will fall an easy prey to the Chilian ships.  When
once we get to close grips we must keep her so busy that she will not
have time to look round her until our friends are close aboard, when we
will hand her over to their tender mercies!  To quarters again, my brave
hearts, and may God defend the right!"

A rousing cheer answered his words, and the men returned to their guns
full of hope and with renewed energy.  They opened such a furious fire
upon the Peruvian that she fairly reeled under the impact of that storm
of missiles.  But she nevertheless came on, unchecked, and a few minutes
later ranged up, broadside on to the _Covadonga_, at a distance of about
seven hundred yards, when the action at once became close and fierce.

In less than a minute the Chilian gunboat had her mizzen-mast shot away
close to the deck, her funnel riddled by machine-gun bullets, and every
man not under cover killed.  But the survivors sheltered themselves
behind the gun-shields, and manfully replied with every weapon still
capable of firing.  The _Union_ lost her captain and first lieutenant
during the first few minutes of the renewed encounter, her mainmast came
down by the board, having been struck, fair and square, by one of the
_Covadonga's_ 70-pounder shells, and all her small boats were in a few
minutes utterly destroyed by the storm of shot from the gunboat's

Then, suddenly, the _Covadonga_ observed a wild commotion on board the
_Union_, and her screw begin to revolve once more, while columns of
black smoke pouring out of her shot-torn funnel showed that there was a
considerable amount of activity in her engine-room.  Then she began to
forge ahead and, turning slowly to starboard, headed away to the north.
She had caught sight of the approaching Chilian craft, and meant to
effect her escape while the way still lay open to her.

Jim saw a man run aft and dip the Peruvian ensign three times in a mock
farewell salute, while the white water began to boil out from under the
_Union's_ stern.  She was in full retreat, firing with her stern guns as
she went.  But Condell had no intention of permitting her to escape so
easily.  His ship would still steer, after a fashion, if she was not
driven too hard, and he immediately took up a slow pursuit, hoping
against hope that he might still be able to plump a lucky shell into her
which should destroy either rudder or propeller, and so leave her at the
mercy of the new arrivals, which were rapidly coming up, and which could
now be plainly made out as being the _Magellanes_, gunboat, and the
_Chacabuco_, corvette.

The Peruvian was going away fast enough, however, to take her soon out
of range of the _Covadonga_.  But the _Magellanes_ and _Chacabuco_, as
they rushed past the gunboat cheering, now began to fire at the flying
ship, and several of their shells burst aboard her.  As the _Chacabuco_
passed she made the signal "Proceed forthwith to Valparaiso, and report
that I am chasing to the northward.  Good luck and congratulations."
The two ships swept rapidly away in chase of the Peruvian, and the
_Covadonga_, obeying orders and resuming her voyage, made the best of
her way to Valparaiso, which she reached the following evening, dropping
her anchor in the middle of the assembled Chilian fleet, to the
accompaniment of rousing cheers for her gallant conduct at Iquique Bay
and Punto Gruesos.

Jim then bade good-bye to Captain Condell and returned to his own ship,
the _Blanco Encalada_, where he was most enthusiastically received by
all his friends, an especially warm welcome being extended to him by his
chum Terry O'Meara.



Jim found, upon rejoining the _Blanco Encalada_, that there was great
excitement prevailing aboard that ship; for the fleet had received
orders to sail, that very day, for the port of Arica, and the squadron
was only waiting for Commodore Riveros, who had superseded Rebolledo
Williams, to come aboard to start.

There were numerous rumours flying about the _Blanco_ as to the object
of the cruise northward; but the one which obtained most credence was to
the effect that the Chilian fleet had been instructed to find and
destroy the _Huascar, Union_, and _Pilcomayo_, which were waging a
destructive war against the Chilian commerce, and which, it was very
strongly suspected, had been guilty of certain acts against Chilian and
other craft which more nearly resembled piracy than civilised warfare.
So much damage, indeed, had been wrought by them that the Chilian
Government had decided to hunt down the obnoxious craft; and for this
purpose there were now assembled in Valparaiso harbour the _Almirante
Cochrane_ and _Blanco Encalada_, both battleships, the corvette
_O'Higgins_, and the armed merchant-steamers _Loa_ and _Mathias
Cousino_.  The little gunboat _Covadonga_ had also been intended to sail
with the squadron, but, as has been seen, she had been too badly damaged
in her gallant fight with the Peruvian vessels to permit of her doing

Mid-day came, but it brought no sign of the commodore; and it was three
o'clock in the afternoon before his launch was seen to steam away from
the naval steps at the jetty.  The side was then piped, and Riveros came
on board, to the accompaniment of the flagship's band and a crashing
salute from the other vessels in the harbour.  Upon his arrival on board
he immediately went below to his cabin and sent for his captain, with
whom he was in close conference for about an hour.  Apparently he
informed him as to the plan of campaign, for soon after Captain Castello
came on deck it became known, all over the ship, that a telegram had
been received from a Chilian spy in Arica to the effect that the
_Huascar_ and the _Union_ were to call in at that port in about three
days' time, and that they would be detained there for about a week in
order to effect certain repairs.  Therefore, should the Chilians sail
immediately, suggested the telegram, they would be almost certain to
catch their prey without difficulty.  It was also within the bounds of
possibility that the _Pilcomayo_ and _Manco Capac_ might likewise be
there; and in that case, since the opposing forces would be pretty
evenly matched, there was every prospect of a general engagement being
fought, a prospect which aroused the keenest enthusiasm of every man in
the fleet, and more especially that of such young hot-bloods as Jim and
his friend O'Meara, to say nothing of Lieutenant Montt, who was being
transferred, to his great gratification, from the _Covadonga_ to the
_Blanco Encalada_.

A few minutes after Captain Castello had come on deck the bugles
shrilled out, "Clear lower deck.  Hands up anchor!" and the seamen came
tumbling up from below, happy and eager as a parcel of schoolboys off
for a holiday.  A string of signal-flags soared aloft to the _Blanco's_
mainyard-arm, and half an hour later her screw began to revolve as she
led the way out of the harbour, with the other ships following, in
column of line ahead.

It was five o'clock in the afternoon of October 1, 1879, and the cruise
had begun which was to prove so eventful for at least two of the ships
comprising the squadron.  As they passed out to sea with ever-increasing
speed the forts on either side of the bay fired a farewell salute; and
the spectacle of the sun sinking over Monte Bajo and the Centinela Alto,
coupled with the lurid flashes of flame and clouds of white smoke from
Forts San Antonio, Bueras, Valdivia, and the Citadel, constituted a
picture the grandeur of which Jim never forgot.

A very careful look-out was maintained during the progress of the fleet
up the coast, and Commodore Riveros took the precaution to look into
Chaneral Bay, Cobija, and Iquique, to make quite sure that the
Peruvians--who might possibly have got wind of the expedition--should
have no chance of escaping by lying hidden until the Chilians were past,
and then making a sudden dash southward upon the comparatively
defenceless ports of the lower coast.

There was, however, no sign of the enemy anywhere in any of these
places, and all the news that Riveros was able to pick up tended to
confirm the telegram which he had received at Valparaiso, to the effect
that the Peruvians would certainly be found at Arica.  Having,
therefore, made certain that they had left no enemy in their rear, the
Chilians steamed away from Iquique on the 3rd of October, and arrived at
a point ten miles to the south of Arica at three o'clock the next
morning, where the fleet hove to, in order to allow of a council of war
being held by the commodore and captains in the cabin of the _Blanco

The captains of the _Cochrane_ and the _O'Higgins_ were in favour of an
attack by the whole squadron upon the Peruvian fleet supposed to be
lying in the harbour, but the commodore, with the captains of the _Loa_
and _Mathias Cousino_, opposed that plan, on the grounds that the
harbour was very strongly defended by forts; consequently, if such an
attack were carried out the Chilians would be obliged to silence the
batteries before they could turn their attention to the Peruvian
ironclads.  The scheme favoured by Riveros, and which was ultimately
carried out, was to send in a number of steam-launches from the ships,
each armed with a couple of spar-torpedoes, and try to blow up the
Peruvian ships.  The commodore's argument was that they would almost
certainly be successful, if the attack were properly made; while, if it
were to fail, the Peruvians would be certain to come out of port in
pursuit of the torpedo-boats, and find themselves face to face with the
Chilian fleet, and beyond the protection of the shore batteries.

This having been decided upon, the captains returned to their ships, and
the squadron once more headed northward, at a speed of about five knots,
finally coming to an anchor some four miles away from Arica, but
completely hidden from it by the headland of Santa Catharina, which
forms the southern extremity of the bay.  The steam-launches of the
_Almirante Cochrane_ and the _Blanco Encalada_ were then lowered into
the water, together with a small Hereschoff torpedo-boat which the
_O'Higgins_ had brought up on her deck.  These little craft all
rendezvoused at the flagship, and spar-torpedoes were hastily fitted to
all three, one projecting from the bow of each boat.  As the expedition
was likely to be an extremely hazardous one, Commodore Riveros decided
to call for volunteers to man the torpedo-boats; and Jim Douglas and
Jorge Montt were the first two officers who presented themselves for the
service, while Terry O'Meara asked to be allowed to accompany his chum,
should the latter be accepted, to take charge of the engines of the boat
in which Jim was to go.

At length the commodore decided to send Jim in charge of the _Blanco's_
torpedo-boat, with Terry O'Meara in charge of the engines.  Montt was to
take command of the _Cochrane's_ launch; and a man named Juarez was
given the command of the Hereschoff torpedo-boat, which was a craft of
about sixteen tons displacement.  Jim, as being second lieutenant of the
flagship, was given the command of the little squadron; and, after half
an hour's interview with the commodore, during which he received the
most minute instructions as to how he was to proceed, he went over the
_Blanco Encalada's_ side into her steam-launch, and gave the signal to

There was no cheering at their departure, for all those who were left
behind felt that they might never see their comrades again; moreover, it
was necessary to maintain the strictest silence, since, the night being
very still, sounds would carry to an immense distance over the water.
If suspicion were once aroused on shore, it would mean the absolute
annihilation of the brave fellows who had started on their desperate
errand.  The fleet, of course, showed no lights, and neither did the
three torpedo--boats; consequently, within a minute after the latter had
started the darkness swallowed them up completely, and there was no
telling whereabout they were, or what progress they were making.

Jim had, however, most carefully taken his bearings before leaving the
flagship, and, by the help of the chart and compass, knew exactly where
to find the fleet again when his perilous mission had been accomplished.
He steamed along northward over the three or four miles which separated
him from Arica in extended column of line abreast, so that the chances
of detection should be as much reduced as possible, and so that they
could pick up any small craft which might perchance be cruising about in
the neighbourhood; and he had already arranged a simple code of signals,
whereby the three small steamers might communicate with one another
without attracting undue attention to themselves.

Half an hour after pushing off from the _Blanco Encalada_, the flotilla
came abreast of the southern extremity of Santa Catharina island, and
Jim knew that in another five minutes he would obtain a full view of the
harbour, when he would also know whether his intended prey lay in the
roads or not.  The heart of every man in the little flotilla beat fast,
and his breath came thickly under the stress of the intense excitement
of the moment; and Jim, from his position in the stern of the _Blanco's_
launch, tried to pierce the darkness with his eyes to get the first
glimpse of the Peruvian vessels.

A moment later the three boats, closer together now, swept round the
northern end of the island, and Arica roadstead lay in full view before

It was now the hour before the dawn, and consequently the night was at
its darkest, but Jim could hardly repress a cry of delight as he caught
sight of four indistinct, dark masses, looming up on the surface of the
bay.  There were no lights showing anywhere, save in one or two isolated
houses on shore, where sickness probably kept the inmates awake; but he
had not expected to find any lights showing among the Peruvian fleet,
since they would naturally desire to keep their whereabouts hidden from
chance Chilian prowlers.  But in Jim's mind there was no doubt that the
four shapeless blurs lying close together, about half a mile away, were
the vessels of which he had come in search; and he passed the word to
the other launches to select each her own particular vessel, torpedo
her, and then steam away back to the Chilian fleet.  He himself intended
to be responsible for two of the Peruvians, while his consorts were
instructed to take one a-piece.  No conditions, he thought to himself,
could have been more favourable to the enterprise.  So far as he could
make out, no suspicion had been aroused that the Chilians were in the
vicinity; the night was dark, and the town seemed to be asleep.  In
fact, their enemies appeared to be indulging in a feeling of security
from which they would awake--too late!

The order was now passed for the launches to ease down to half-speed, so
that the sound of the churning propellers might be less perceptible, and
the three boats crept forward almost in complete silence upon their
prey.  Jim could now plainly make out the brig-rig of the monitor
_Huascar_, and the three masts and single funnel of the corvette
_Union_, and these two ships he intended to account for with his own
torpedo-boat.  Away to the right, close under the forts, and about four
hundred yards from the _Huascar_, lay what looked like a couple of other
monitors.  He had quite expected, or at least hoped, to find one other
monitor there, the _Manco Capac_, but not a third; for, according to the
information received, the fourth ship should have been the _Pilcomayo_
gunboat.  But, no matter; it would be as easy to blow up an ironclad
monitor as a gunboat; and Jim ordered each of the other two torpedo-
boats to select one of the monitors lying under the forts, while he
himself steamed toward the vessels which he took to be the _Huascar_ and
the _Union_.

After waiting about five minutes, to allow of the other two launches
getting close to their objectives, Jim inquired in a low tone if all was
in readiness; and upon being informed that everything was prepared,
called in a whisper to Terry O'Meara, "Full speed ahead, and give her
every ounce of steam she can carry!"

In response to this command the little steamer's propeller suddenly
started to revolve at a tremendous rate under the pressure of steam
which Terry let into the cylinders; her stern dipped several inches
deeper into the water, and with a rippling noise like that of tearing
silk at her bows, she darted toward the nearest ship, which Douglas took
to be the _Huascar_, and which could not have been more than five
hundred yards away.

Nearer and nearer they rushed, the men in the bows craning their necks
eagerly forward to see where the torpedo would strike, and Jim, in the
stern, crouching over the tiller and holding his boat's bows fair and
square for the middle of his prey.  It occurred to him, for a moment, as
being rather curious that even now he could detect no signs of life
aboard either of the Peruvian ships, for he had fully calculated on the
launches being seen and an alarm raised ere he had approached so close.
But no suspicion entered his mind, and he thanked his lucky stars that
he had been fortunate enough to catch the enemy totally unprepared.  It
would make his task so much the easier.

Now the little steamer was quite close to the Peruvian monitor, and in a
few seconds more the blow would be struck which would send a warship and
her entire crew to the bottom.  Oh, the fools! he thought to himself,
not to take more care of their ship.  They were doomed; nothing could
now save them; success was within his grasp.  Five seconds more--then
three--then two.  Now the spar with its deadly torpedo was almost
touching the _Huascar's_ side--


A rending sound of ripping and tearing timber and another awful crash
came immediately afterward, and every man in the _Blanco Encalada's_
launch was hurled off his feet, and thrown either into the bottom of the
boat or overboard, while the little steamer's bows rose bodily out of
the water until her keel reached an angle of almost forty-five degrees,
and there she stuck, still quivering in every timber from the shock.

In a second Jim realised the terrible truth.  By some means or other the
Peruvians had got wind of the intended attack, and had placed a stout
boom of timber all round the ship, and it was upon this obstacle that
the Chilian launch had charged at full speed, running right up on to it
with the force of the blow, and remaining there immovable and almost a

Jim's first thought was of how to warn the people in the other two
launches, for if the enemy had been prepared for attack in one quarter,
he would certainly have taken the same precautions in the other.  Ah,
yes!  There were several blue rockets in a locker in the stern-sheets;
these would serve to show that something had gone wrong, and might
perhaps save the others from a similar mishap.

Jim scrambled out of his seat and was just raising the locker lid when a
long streak of flame burst from the _Huascar's_ side.  There was a
deafening, thudding roar, and a stream of machine-gun bullets screeched
and hummed over their heads.  They had indeed walked right into a
cunningly contrived trap, and the Peruvians had been on the watch for
them the whole time.

The next minute there was a dull roar away to starboard, and Jim saw,
out of the corner of his eye, a huge column of water leap up, with
something dark poised upon the top of it.  In a second he realised that
one at least of his consorts had been successful and had torpedoed her
prey; but even before the column of water had subsided, there broke out
a crash of musketry aboard the second monitor, and sparks of fire sprang
up in different parts of her, which quickly brightened into a lurid
glare and showed that her people were lighting beacon-fires, the better
to see who their attackers might be and their whereabouts.

Truly it was the Chilians who had been taken by surprise, not their
enemies!  And what a mess they had made of it all, too!

But there was no time now to think about the other launches; they would
have to look after themselves; for Jim's whole energies were now
directed toward the saving of his own boat's crew.  After the first
volley of machine-gun fire from the ship which he had attacked, the
Peruvians got their aim right, and sent a perfect hail of Gatling,
Nordenfeldt, and rifle-bullets hurtling into the wrecked launch, so that
her men began to fall in all directions.  Beacon-fires were also lighted
in bow and stern and at amidships, so that the vivid red glare shed a
lurid radiance over everything within a hundred yards.  And by their
light Douglas saw that the ship which he had attacked was _not_ the
_Huascar_ at all; neither was the craft lying close to her the _Union_!
They were a pair of old hulks, roughly metamorphosed so as to resemble
the warships, and heavy barriers of floating timber had been thrown out
all round them, while they had been armed with machine-guns and crowds
of riflemen.  The monitor and the corvette had escaped out of Arica
harbour to continue their depredations elsewhere, and the _Pilcomayo_
had probably gone with them.  The Chilians had walked into a cleverly
set trap and were paying dearly for their mistake.

Jim quickly recovered his presence of mind, and springing out of the
launch while the bullets whistled about his ears, started to examine the
boat in order to ascertain whether she were still seaworthy.  He soon
discovered that although there were numerous holes in her planking, they
were all above the water-line, as luck would have it, and although a
long piece of her keel was gone, it had not started the boat's timbers
so far as he could see.

"Now, boys," he shouted, "if we can get the launch back into the water
we may escape after all.  Who will lend me a hand?"

The men needed no second bidding, but sprang to their young leader's
assistance, and worked with all the energy of despair.  Man after man
fell under the deadly hail of fire from the hulk, but as fast as they
fell others took their places, until at last, under their furious
exertions, the little steamer began to quiver, and then moved slightly
backward off the boom.  There was an ominous cracking of timber for a
few seconds, as some part of her splintered planking caught in the
obstruction, and then, with a rending, tearing noise, it gave way, and
the launch slid into the water of the bay, shipping a ton or two of it
over her stern as she splashed in.  But she was afloat once more, and
could she only come unscathed through that inferno of bullets, the few
remaining members of her crew might, even yet, hope to escape at last.

"Into the boat with you," cried Jim; "into the boat, all but four men.
You, Terry, get to your engines, and give me all the steam you can,
while the others bale the boat clear of all that water.  Now, you four
men," he went on, "I am going to ask you to help me in a very dangerous
task.  I am not going to leave this ship with my duty unfinished.  I
intend to torpedo her, at all hazards!  Cut loose that spar at once, and
we will place it along the boom in such a way that the torpedo touches
this ship's side.  I will then cut a short length of fuse, and attach it
to the explosive, so that it will burn for about a minute.  That will
just give us time to get out of reach before the powder blows up, and
will not leave the Peruvians sufficient to displace the torpedo.  Now
then, grapple hold of the spar, you four men, and stand by to push all
together when I give the word.  Be ready, Terry, my boy, to go ahead
with your engines directly we scramble on board, for a second's delay
may mean that we shall all be blown to smithereens.  Give me that piece
of fuse, Carlos.  There, that has fixed that up," continued Douglas, as
he cut and placed the slow match in the opening provided for it.  "Now
then, all together--lift!"

As Jim gave the word the men gripped the spar, lifted it, and pushed it
forward until the pointed barrel-like apparatus at its further extremity
touched the ship's side.  The Peruvians up above were by this time aware
of what the Chilians contemplated, and turned all their attention to the
men engaged upon the dangerous task of fixing the spar, thus giving
those in the launch a welcome respite.

But owing to the hulk's high bulwarks and her great amount of "sheer,"
they could not fire directly into Jim's party, and the bullets plugged
harmlessly into the boom about a yard behind the Chilians.  Jim then
ordered the men to place all their weight upon the spar, and this having
been done, he clambered nimbly along it until he came to the torpedo.
Then he rearranged the fuse, struck a match and applied it.

There immediately began a violent splutter of sparks, accompanied by a
fizzing noise, and Jim knew that no power on earth could now avert the
imminent explosion.  Like a cat he worked his way backwards along the
spar, which bent and heaved under his weight, until presently he stood
once more upon the beam.

"Now, there's no time to waste," gasped Douglas, as the five men stood
in the shelter of the hulk's tall sides.  "We must make a rush all
together, and trust to getting aboard the launch unhit.  But if any of
us are wounded, the wounded must remain where they are; for any attempt
at rescue will mean the death of us all.  Now then--go!"

As one man the five brave fellows sprang forward, hoping to reach the
launch before the Peruvians were ready for them.  But the latter were on
the look-out, and as the men left their shelter, rifles and machine-guns
cracked and roared once more.  Two men fell, literally riddled with
shot, but the others scrambled aboard the launch, and Jim gasped out,
"Go ahead, Terry!" not a moment too soon.

The launch had not got more than fifty yards away when there was an
appalling explosion, and the whole side of the hulk seemed to fall
bodily inward.  She heeled over, and almost instantly plunged into the
depths of the bay, the waters of which at once closed over her, dragging
down the living and the dead, in the fearful vortex which she created.

Jim then sent up a blue rocket to call the other boats away, for it was
hopeless to attempt anything farther that night, and half an hour later
he was rejoined, just as day was dawning, by the _Almirante Cochrane_
launch, which was almost in a worse state than his own.  She brought
word that the two monitors had been the _Manco Capac_ and _Atahualpa_,
and that the Hereschoff torpedo-boat, under Juarez, had blown up the
latter, but had herself been destroyed by the _Manco Capac_.  Three men
only had been rescued from her crew, and these were on board the
_Cochrane's_ boat, which had herself lost nearly three-quarters of her
men.  Taking it all round, however, the attacking force had not done so
badly, having destroyed a two thousand-ton ironclad and sunk a hulk full
of men and guns, with a loss of one small torpedo-boat, and seventeen
men killed.

Jim then gave orders for the wounded to be made as comfortable as
possible under the circumstances, and the two launches continued their
journey back to the fleet, which was reached about eight o'clock.  The
young man immediately made his report to the commodore, and the latter,
who seemed to have no mind of his own, then called another council of
officers to decide whether they should enter the bay and destroy the
_Manco Capac_ and the forts, or whether they should take up the pursuit
of the other three Peruvian warships which had eluded them in so
mysterious a way.

It was unanimously decided to pursue, so as to prevent them from doing
any further damage; and Riveros therefore divided his squadron into two
parts, consisting of the _Almirante Cochrane_ and _Blanco Encalada_ in
one division; and the _O'Higgins, Loa_, and _Mathias Cousino_ in the
other.  One column, consisting of the three latter vessels, was to steam
a hundred miles due westward, and then head south, while the admiral
would proceed in the same direction, but would keep close in along the

These arrangements having been made, the captains returned to their
respective ships, the anchors were raised, and the fleet separated into
two divisions--one going south direct, and the other going west in the
first instance.



Although somewhat disappointed at their failure to find the Peruvian
fleet lying in Arica Bay, the men on board the _Blanco Encalada_ looked
forward, with all the pleasure of anticipation, to the time when they
should overtake the marauding warships, bring them to action, and
destroy them.  And Commodore Riveros' offer of a hundred _pesos_ to the
man who should first sight the enemy, only increased the anxiety of the
flagship's crew to fever-heat, and men were to be found aloft upon the
look-out at all hours of the day and night.  It had been made known,
too, that Captain Latorre, who had been promoted to the _Almirante
Cochrane_, had also offered a similar reward; and every man aboard the
_Blanco_ made up his mind that _his_ ship should have the honour of
bringing the Peruvians to action.

Leaving Arica on the 4th of October, the inshore squadron, with the
flagship leading the way, steamed slowly down the coast, exploring every
nook and cranny where the enemy might by any possibility be lurking--for
it was evident that they must have been hiding somewhere when the
Chilians had steamed northward a few days before.  But no sign of an
enemy was seen during that day, nor during the next, in and on the 6th
the fleet steamed into the harbour of Mejillones de Bolivia, in order to

Commodore Riveros, bearing in mind his own attempt on the Peruvians at
Arica, and feeling convinced that their fleet must be somewhere close at
hand, gave the strictest orders that no men should be allowed to go
ashore, and that a patrol of steam-launches should ply up and down the
harbour the whole night through, in order to prevent the attempt of
similar tactics on the part of the enemy.  He had also seen fit to
express approval of the manner in which Jim Douglas had carried out the
task assigned to him in Arica Bay, and he therefore sent for him to his
cabin and informed the young man that he was to take command, in the
_Blanco Encalada's_ launch, of the flotilla which was to do patrol-duty
during the night--a circumstance which afforded Jim the utmost
satisfaction, and emboldened him to ask as a favour that Terry O'Meara
should again be allowed to accompany him; to which request Riveros
immediately acceded.

Night came on with no sign of the enemy; but as Mejillones was in
Bolivia, and had only very recently been occupied by the Chilians, the
danger was almost as likely to come from the direction of the shore as
from the sea, as the port was full of Bolivian and Peruvian refugees who
would stop at nothing to effect the destruction of part of the Chilian
fleet.  As soon as the dusk began to fall, the launches of the two
ironclads were hoisted out, their crews picked, and at half-past six Jim
and his friend Terry took their places in the flagship's boat, which
steamed off slowly in one direction round the harbour, while that of the
_Almirante Cochrane_ started, under easy steam, in the opposite
direction.  Both launches were provided with a Gatling gun in the bows,
and their crews were armed with rifles and revolvers, and orders had
been given that any strange craft upon failing to answer a challenge
should be fired into immediately.

It occupied the launches about an hour, running under easy steam, to
circumnavigate Mejillones harbour, and Jim's boat had already made her
round five or six times without any suspicious circumstance occurring,
and he himself was beginning to feel very tired and sleepy, when about a
mile and a half away, at the northern extremity of the bay, he fancied
he saw a spark of light flare up for a moment and then go out suddenly,
as though hastily quenched.

He was broad awake immediately, with every sense on the alert, and he
strained his eyes into the darkness--for there was only a very thin
crescent moon shining--in order to try to make out where the light had
come from and what had caused it.

"Terry," he whispered to his chum, who was sitting drowsily over the
little engines, with the starting lever loosely clutched in his hand,
"did you catch sight of a glimmer of light away there to the northward
just now?"

"Light?  No; I saw no light," replied Terry, suddenly pulling himself
together.  "Did you?  Whereabouts was it, old boy?  This continual going
round and round has become rather monotonous, and I am afraid that I was
very nearly asleep."

"Well, it was over in that direction," explained Douglas, pointing, "and
it looked as though some one had suddenly opened the slide of a dark
lantern, and as quickly closed it again.  However, it _may_, of course,
only have been my fancy--for I, like you, have been frightfully sleepy
for the last two hours; and in any case it could hardly have been an
enemy, for the light was quite two miles away from the ironclads.  No, I
must have been-- Hallo! though, there _is_ the light again, and, by
jingo! how quickly it is travelling over the water, too.  Here, Terry,
man, wake up!  There is something amiss, after all.  Go full speed
ahead, for all you are worth.  That light is heading straight for the
_Blanco Encalada_, and if it should be an enemy's boat which is carrying
it we shall have all our work cut out to intercept her before she
reaches the flagship.  I wonder whereabouts the _Cochrane_ launch is.
She would be of great assistance to us now.  Get every knot you can out
of your engines, old man, for I fear foul play."

Terry O'Meara needed no second bidding, for he also had caught sight of
the swiftly moving point of light, and the circumstance reminded him
very forcibly of their own attempt to torpedo the Peruvian fleet lying
in Arica Bay.  He pushed over his regulator to its top notch, and
started the weary stokers to the task of shovelling on coal with all
possible dispatch.  The tiny screw revolved faster and faster, churning
and frothing the water up astern, and the launch darted away like a
greyhound slipped from the leash.  The seamen handled their rifles and
revolvers, to make sure that they were loaded, opening and closing the
breaches with a smart click, while the men in charge of the Gatling gun
moved up forward, close to their weapon, and trained it up and down, and
from side to side, to assure themselves that the mechanism was in
perfect working order.

For a few seconds Douglas's heart seemed to stand still with anxiety,
for it appeared as though the launch would not be able to intercept the
rapidly moving spark of light--which he was now convinced belonged to a
torpedo-boat--before it reached the _Blanco Encalada_, for which ship
the boat was undoubtedly heading.  But little by little, as soon as the
engines got into their swing, the launch drew ahead, and after about ten
minutes' steaming Jim saw that he would, all being well, cross the
stranger's bows before she reached the flagship.

The launch was showing no lights, and the torpedo-boat--if such she
was--was still too far away for a hail to reach her.  Jim was therefore
in hopes of taking her by surprise, and ordered the men to maintain
perfect silence, but to be ready to open fire directly he gave the word.

Closer and closer the two converging craft swept toward each other,
until barely a quarter of a mile separated them, and then, just at the
critical moment, when Jim was about to shout his challenge across the
water, an accident happened which had well-nigh proved disastrous for
the Chilians.  A seaman who had remained behind in the cockpit was
ordered to go forward and join the crew of the Gatling gun, which it was
now discovered was one man short, and in clambering along the narrow
strip of deck which ran round the little steamer the man stumbled and
dropped his rifle.  Unluckily, the weapon fell muzzle downward, and the
fixed bayonet dropped edgewise into the tiny crank-pit.  There was a
sudden shock and a noise of cracking metal, and the screw ceased
revolving with a jerk that shook the launch from stem to stern, while
her way, of course, fell off immediately.

"_Caramba_!" ejaculated Jim, keeping one eye fixed upon the spark of
light which was now rapidly travelling past them, "if we can't put that
machinery right in two minutes, then--good-bye to the _Blanco_!  Quick,
Terry, is there any hope, do you think?" he asked, dropping on one knee
beside his chum, who had already shut off steam and was crouching over
the machinery.

"Wait a bit, Jim," replied Terry, working away like a madman with
spanner and screw-wrench; "if I can but loosen this nut I can disconnect
this bent rod and replace it in half a jiffy."

The young man heaved and strained at the spanner, with the perspiration
dripping off his forehead, but he could not get the refractory nut to
turn.  The stout steel handle quivered under the strain, and Terry's
muscles stood out on his bare arms like whipcord, but still the nut
would not budge.  In a second Jim threw his strength into the balance;
the spanner showed signs of slipping round the nut, but the next second
it flew round, and the nut gave at last.

It was then only a few seconds' work to take out the bent rod and
replace it with a new one; but the suspected torpedo-boat had by that
time drawn ahead of the launch.  Jim, however, was not the sort of man
to say "die," and at his quick word of command the boat leaped forward
once more after the enemy, and under the increased pressure of steam due
to the stoppage, actually began to gain upon the chase.  Douglas put his
hands to his mouth and sent a sharp challenge ringing across the water
toward her.  This was immediately followed by a slight commotion aboard
the suspected Peruvian, which showed that the hail had been heard; but
there was no sign of her stopping; indeed, the next second a strong
volume of flame gushed up from her funnel, which proved that her
engineers had shovelled on more coal and turned on the forced draught.

Jim almost groaned in his agony of mind, for it seemed as though the
accident to the launch had doomed the flagship to destruction, and he
was just about to order his men to fire the Gatling gun at the dimly
seen shape, in the hope of hitting her, despite the fact that the smoke
would hide the chase from him, when he saw a long steel-coloured shape
glide past the bows of his own boat.

His heart gave a great thump at the sight, for he knew that he had had a
narrow escape from death.  The torpedo-boat was not carrying a spar-
torpedo, but was towing the infernal machine, which she doubtless meant
to drag under the flagship's bows.  It was one of the newly invented Lay
torpedoes, and a terrible weapon when effectively used.  But alarm at
his own narrow escape was swamped in the feeling of relief for the
safety of the _Blanco Encalada_; for the torpedo-boat would be obliged
to manoeuvre a little to get her torpedo into place, and thus there was
just a chance that he might yet be able to intercept her.  In a second
he had whirled the wheel hard over and was off along the Peruvian's
wake, telling the men to keep a bright look-out for the torpedo, and to
commence firing in the direction of the torpedo-boat.

Then the quick, metallic clatter of the Gatling broke out, mingled with
the whip-like crack of the rifles, and the darkness was illuminated by
the vivid flashes of flame.  From the Peruvian a series of hoarse
screams, oaths, and yells told plainly enough that the Chilians had made
good practice, and that some at least of the hailing bullets had found
their billets; but the craft was all too surely drawing away, and it
became a question whether, even now, the launch would be in time to save
the _Blanco Encalada_.

Suddenly Jim perceived a speck of fire break out aboard the flagship,
which quickly broke into a great glow of flame, and he heaved a sigh of
relief which was almost a sob, for he knew that her people had taken
alarm from the firing and were prepared.  In a few seconds the beacon-
fire spread a lurid glare wide over the waters of the bay, and the
Peruvian torpedo-boat was plainly disclosed to view, together with a
phosphorescent glimmer which indicated the position of the deadly

"Now, men!" cried the young Englishman, "now is your chance, while the
light lasts.  Train the gun on the torpedo, and fire at it until you hit
it.  Riflemen, do the same, and remember that the _Blanco's_ safety
depends upon your shooting."

"Ay, ay, sir!" responded the Chilians, and a second later the Gatling in
the bows began to chatter out its deadly message, while the seamen
rapidly loaded and fired their rifles, in the hope of destroying the
infernal machine before it could reach the _Blanco Encalada_.  But, try
as they might, it seemed impossible to hit that fish-like object which
dashed through the water ahead of them.  Twice the Chilians had hit the
torpedo-boat's helmsman, and twice he had been replaced, while the
shrieks that came from the boat itself testified to the execution
inflicted upon her crew.  Still she was creeping nearer and nearer to
the flagship, the crew of which were vainly trying to depress the
muzzles of their great guns sufficiently to reach the Peruvian, and but
a few more short seconds were needed for the latter to complete her fell

Then, all in a moment, the end came.  Jim did not know how it happened,
whether it was due to his own men, or to those on board the flagship;
but a bullet struck the torpedo fair and square.  The next instant there
was a stunning concussion, and the water between pursuer and pursued
seemed to be blown into a great hollow sphere, the sides of which then
rushed together again, while a tall column of water heaped itself up
fully thirty feet into the air, to collapse into spray which drenched to
the skin every man both in the torpedo-boat and in the launch.

A wild cheer broke out on board the Chilian launch and the _Blanco
Encalada_, and their men now turned all their attention to destroy the
wasp which had just been deprived of its sting.  The moment that her
towed torpedo had exploded she was practically powerless for injury, and
she turned her nose seaward at once, hoping, by a desperate rush, to get
clear away.  And so she doubtless would, had it not been for the launch
belonging to the _Almirante Cochrane_.

This craft had, like Jim's boat, several times made the circuit of the
bay; and she was away down at the south end of the harbour when her
lieutenant in charge first heard the sounds of firing.  He immediately
guessed the cause and, putting his engines at full speed, raced along
toward the spot where he could see the rifles flashing, and before he
had gone very far he had the _Blanco Encalada's_ beacon-fire to help

As the launch came rushing along toward her consort, Jim blew his steam-
whistle three times to attract her attention, and he was only just in
the nick of time, for the Peruvian would have been in front of the
_Cochrane's_ launch in another half-minute.  But like a hawk upon its
prey the _Cochrane's_ boat dashed forward, her commander determining to
hazard all in one stroke, instead of using his guns.  He aimed straight
for a point which the torpedo-boat must pass in a few seconds, and went
ahead full speed.

The impact was so violent that the Peruvian torpedo-boat collapsed like
an eggshell, the _Cochrane's_ launch driving right over the wreck
without doing herself any very serious injury.  The torpedo-boat's
boilers exploded as she sank, and probably killed every remaining man
among her crew, for not a single living being was to be found when the
Chilians proceeded to search for the survivors.

This exciting little episode over, Jim and his consort resumed their
patrol of the harbour until daylight, when their long and trying vigil
ceased.  The ships finished coaling by five o'clock in the afternoon of
the new day, and immediately stood out to sea, much to Douglas's relief,
for he felt that another night like the last would have been too much
for him.  Once outside the harbour, the two ironclads turned their heads
to the south again; and Riveros made the signal that Antofagasta was to
be their next port of call.

It was 3:30 a.m. on the 8th of October when Jim was awakened by a
stentorian cry from the deck of "Two ships ahead!"  Galvanised into
alertness he listened intently, and heard the officer of the watch
calmly reply, "Where away?"

There was a short pause, and then the seaman answered, "Three points on
our port bow.  They are hull-down; but there are two columns of smoke
approaching at a great speed from the south-east.  They are about twelve
miles away and, so far as I can make out, are just abreast of Point

Jim did not wait to hear the reply of "Very good.  Keep your eye on the
smoke, and report any further developments," but jumped into his clothes
and hurried up on deck just in time to hear the bugles call "Hands on
deck.  Clear ship for action."  It was quite evident that the smoke
could not be coming from the second Chilian division; for, in that case,
there would have been three columns of smoke instead of two.  Therefore
the strangers could scarcely be other than the long-sought-for Peruvian
ships the _Huascar_ and the _Union_.

A few seconds after the bugle had sounded the men came tumbling up on
deck, full of excitement at the idea of a fight; and with many a jovial
laugh and jest they hurried away to their quarters.  Jim made the
rounds, saw that the men were at their stations, that the guns were
ready and run out, and that plenty of ammunition had been supplied to
the turrets, and then he reported to the first lieutenant that the ship
was "clear for action."  The first lieutenant at once made his report to
the captain, who, in turn, reported to Commodore Riveros, who had
already entered the conning-tower.  Several signals were made to the
_Almirante Cochrane_, which was steaming about a cable's-length astern;
and the two ships surged forward in silence to the encounter which was
to seal the fate of Peru, to destroy her sea-power, and to go down to
history as the battle of Angamos.

Jim was wandering from gun to gun, seeing that everything was in order,
and waiting for the action to commence, when he heard a roar of anger
and execration coming from the deck above, and, running up from below,
he saw that the ships were the _Huascar_ and the _Union_, and that they
had turned tail, having evidently discovered the proximity of the
Chilians, and were steaming to the southward as fast as they could go.
But Commodore Riveros had anticipated some such action, and as the
_Blanco Encalada_, owing to a foul bottom, could only steam about eight
knots, he sent forward in chase of the Peruvians the _Cochrane_, which
was capable of nearly eleven knots.

Latorre's ship instantly leaped forward at full speed upon the signal
being made, and Jim soon observed through his telescope that the
_Cochrane_ was a good deal faster than the Peruvians, and that she must
inevitably overtake them in a few hours' time.  Riveros also sent word
down to his engine-room staff that the very last knot was to be got out
of his ship, and the effect of the increased steam-pressure was soon
observable on the _Blanco_.

At about a quarter to eight there was another change of tactics on the
part of the Peruvians.  The corvette _Union_, which up to that time had
been keeping station on the _Huascar's_ port quarter, suddenly slowed
down and passed under her stern, turned to the eastward, and made for
Arica under a full head of steam.

Jim Douglas immediately reported the occurrence to Commodore Riveros,
who, after debating for a minute or two as to whether or not he should
follow the corvette, finally decided in favour of pursuing the
_Huascar_, as she was the more formidable craft of the two; and the
Chilian ironclad accordingly was kept on her previous course.  Jim then
returned to his post, and kept his glass fixed upon the flying steamers
in front of him; and hardly had he taken up his position again when he
saw the _Huascar_ put her helm over and head to the northward, steaming
toward the _Cochrane_ and the Chilian flagship.

A second later he saw a brilliant flash of flame leap from the
_Huascar's_ turret; there was a huge cataract of spray as the shot
struck the water midway between herself and the _Cochrane_, and then a
cloud of greyish-green smoke spouted up on board the Chilian vessel,
showing that the shell had exploded on board her, somewhere about her
bows.  The _Almirante Cochrane_ did not reply for several minutes, but
silent and grim as death itself, she held steadily on her course toward
the monitor.

Then, when she had approached to within a distance of a little over a
mile, she in turn opened fire with both her forward turret-guns on the
_Huascar_, and the battle of Angamos had begun in real earnest.  The
effect of the projectiles on board the Peruvian was terrible; for both
shells struck her on the port bow, penetrated her armour, and exploded
inside her hull, and thus temporarily jammed her turret-tracks, and
covered the deck with debris.

Jim closed up his telescope with a snap, and made his way to the forward
turret of the _Blanco Encalada_ to ascertain how long it would be before
the gun captains thought they might effectively open fire; for he was
most anxious to share in the combat before all was over.  At that moment
the officer in the fire-top shouted the news that the range had now
lessened to 3000 yards, and the word was immediately given to fire both
forward turret-guns.

A moment later there was a terrific gush of white flame, a cloud of
fleecy smoke, and a tremendous roar as both guns spoke simultaneously,
followed by a hoarse, screaming roar as the shells sped through the calm
morning air toward their mark.  Both missiles struck on the unarmoured
portion of the _Huascar's_ bows, and pierced her through and through,
without exploding, however, as the thickness of steel penetrated was
insufficient to detonate the projectiles.  The Peruvian at once replied
with a shot from her 300-pounder, which struck the _Blanco's_ navigating
bridge and blew it to pieces.

Meanwhile the _Cochrane_ had by this time circled round, and was running
on a course parallel to that of the monitor, and at the same time
driving her toward her consort, so that the unfortunate ship was now
between two fires.  _Crash! crash_! roared the guns as the two Chilian
ironclads converged upon their quarry; and so excellent was their
gunnery that every shot told.  Half an hour after the action had
commenced the _Huascar's_ tiller-chains were shot away, and she at once
yawed to starboard, almost in the track of the _Cochrane_.  Captain
Latorre instantly saw that this was his opportunity to ram, and he
accordingly sent his ship straight at the helpless _Huascar_.  But the
aberrations of the Peruvian ship's course introduced an element of
uncertainty which defied calculation, and the result was that the
_Cochrane_ dashed past her stern, missing her by a short five yards.

And now the _Blanco Encalada_ closed in on the other side of the doomed
ship, which was already on fire in several places from the disastrous
effect of the Chilian shells, and pounded her mercilessly; while the
Peruvians, on the other hand, fought their sorely pressed ship with a
desperate gallantry that excited the utmost admiration of their
opponents, and in the face of a perfect inferno of fire rove new tiller
ropes.  But it was all to no purpose.  A shell from the _Blanco_, fired
by Jim's own hand, exploded immediately afterwards in her stern, killing
every man at the relieving-tackles, and causing the now almost wrecked
ship again to fall out of control.

It was at this moment that a shell from the _Cochrane_ exploded right
inside the _Huascar's_ conning-tower, and blew the gallant Peruvian
admiral and one of his lieutenants to pieces.  It was clear that the
Peruvians were beaten, yet several brave spirits strove desperately to
regain the control of their ship, and, if it might be, break away to the
northward and get clear.  But it was too late; for a shell had already
exploded in the engine-room and had penetrated one of the boilers.

Lieutenant Garezon, the sole remaining Peruvian officer, then called a
brief council of war, at which it was resolved to sink the ship rather
than yield; and orders were accordingly sent to MacMahon, the chief
engineer, to open the injection-valves and thus flood the vessel; but
even as the Scotsman set about his task a number of Peruvian seamen ran
forward and waved white cloths and towels, in token of surrender.

The Chilian fire immediately ceased, of course, but the battle was even
yet not quite over, for down below, in the seclusion of the engine-room,
it was not known that the men on deck had surrendered, and the engines
were still kept moving.  The Chilians therefore reopened their fire, and
the _Blanco Encalada_ rushed up close alongside the now fast-sinking
monitor, intending to ram her, but was stayed in her deadly purpose by
the exhibition of fresh signals of surrender.

At length a boat, manned by a lieutenant, an engineer, half a dozen
seamen, and four soldiers, was dispatched from the _Cochrane_ to go on
board and take possession of the _Huascar_.  They met with no
resistance; and Jim, who, in a boat from the _Blanco_, had also boarded,
at once rushed below, just in time to prevent the Peruvian engineers
from sinking the ship.  A little longer delay and he would have been too
late; for the _Huascar_ had already nearly two feet of water over her
engine-room floor when he rushed in, revolver in hand, and many of the
shot-holes in the hull were by that time all but flush with the water's
edge.  At the point of his pistol he drove Macmahon and the other
engineers away from the valves and closed them.  The battle of Angamos
was over at last.  The _Huascar's_ men were then secured, a prize-crew
placed on board, and under escort of the _Almirante Cochrane_ and
_Blanco Encalada_ she went under her own steam into the harbour of
Mejillones, where she was temporarily patched up and rendered more or
less seaworthy.

Two days later the three ships left in company for Valparaiso, where
they arrived on the 14th of October, amid the salutes of the forts and
the frantic cheers of the populace, who were thankful beyond measure to
be freed from the menace of the _Huascar_, which, they had felt, might
attack any of their seaports during the absence of the Chilian fleet.
Commodore Riveros was promoted to be Rear-Admiral, Captain Latorre to be
Commodore, and Jim was made First Lieutenant of the _Blanco Encalada_.



The ovation accorded to the victorious Chilians upon their return to
Valparaiso was enthusiastic in the extreme; the officers were everywhere
feted and made much of; and Jim Douglas and Terry O'Meara came in for a
very large share of attention owing to the fact that they were British.
The sympathies of Great Britain had been decidedly turned in favour of
Chili by the atrocities which had been committed by the Peruvian fleet
in its war against commerce, and by which English ships had suffered to
a very serious extent.

After the battle of Angamos Commodore--or rather Admiral as he was now--
Riveros had been greatly exercised in his mind as to what course he
should pursue with regard to the corvette _Union_.  She had effected her
escape before the battle commenced, and when last seen was steaming in
the direction of Arica, the most southerly port which the Peruvians
possessed.  She was a very heavily armed ship, and was nearly, if not
quite, as formidable as the _Huascar_ had been, and thus still
constituted a standing menace to the unfortified ports of Chili.
Riveros was in a quandary, for he already had more work on his hands
than he knew how to deal with; yet the Chilians resident in the coast
ports were clamouring for him to proceed to sea again and hunt down the
cruiser.  But he did not in the least know where to look for her; nor
could he, by the most diligent inquiry, gain any intelligence of her.
She might be at any one of the numerous Peruvian ports; and were he to
go in search of her she would quite probably slip past him again in the
night, as she and the monitor had once before done.

The fleet had been lying at Valparaiso for nearly a month undergoing the
repairs and refit of which they so sorely stood in need, when one
morning Jim, from his station on the _Blanco Encalada's_ bridge, where
he was on duty, observed a signal flying from the official residence of
the Secretary for War.  In a moment he had his glass to his eye, and
began to spell out the signal, which, when completed, ran as follows:
"_Blanco Encalada_.  Admiral Riveros to call here without delay.  I have
important orders for him."

"Hallo!" thought Jim, "what's in the wind now?  More work for somebody,
I'll be bound.  I wonder whether the _Union_ has been up to any fresh
tricks?  She has kept remarkably--_suspiciously_--quiet for some time

Then the young man made his way down to the admiral's cabin and
delivered the message, with the result that the admiral's barge was
piped away, and five minutes later Riveros was being pulled across the
sparkling blue waters of the bay, to learn what it was that Senor
Baquedano wanted to communicate to him.

Several hours elapsed before the gallant Chilian returned aboard, and
when he finally did so his first action was to send for Jim Douglas and
request him to accompany him to his cabin.  Arrived there, the admiral
closed the door, locked it, and then leaning across the table toward
Douglas, remarked in a low tone:

"Senor Douglas, I am paying you no empty compliment, when I say that I
consider you a remarkably efficient and promising young officer.  You
have carried out, with the utmost credit to yourself, several
exceedingly difficult pieces of work, and for that reason I am going to
detail you for a service which I suspect will prove even more difficult
than any which you have yet been called upon to perform."

Jim bowed, and did his best not to look too pleased.

"As you, of course, are aware," continued the admiral, smiling, "we lost
sight of the _Union_ corvette before the battle of Angamos, and as we
had more important business on hand at the moment, we were not able to
pursue her; consequently she got clear away.  The Chilians in the coast
towns have for some time been living in mortal dread of her appearing,
some fine day, off one or another of their ports, and bombarding it; and
for some weeks past I have been daily expecting orders to sail in
pursuit of her and to hunt her down.  We have, however, until to-day had
no definite news of her whereabouts upon which we could work.  But this
afternoon I was summoned ashore and informed by his Excellency, General
Baquedano, that the Peruvians are expecting several cargoes of arms from
Europe, and he has been informed by one of our spies that the _Union_
has been dispatched to the mouth of the Straits of Magellan to convoy
those vessels to Callao, or whatever Peruvian port they are bound for.
If, then, we dispatch a vessel down to the Straits we are almost certain
to fall in with the corvette and bring her to action; and if we are
lucky we may also secure the arms-carrying vessels.  That would of
course be in itself a service of inestimable value to our government,
since if our enemies cannot obtain arms and ammunition they will soon be
obliged to give up the struggle.  To make a long story short, you, Senor
Douglas, are the man whom I have selected to perform this difficult,
arduous, and decidedly dangerous task.  We have recently purchased a
steamer, which we have armed so powerfully that she is to all intents
and purposes a cruiser, and you will be given the command of her.  Your
task is, as I have just explained, to hunt down and destroy the _Union_,
and if possible to capture the gun-running steamers which she has been
sent to convoy.  This new cruiser of ours has been named the _Angamos_,
in honour of our recent victory; and I shall look confidently to you to
uphold the honour of her name.  She is quite ready to sail, and you must
commission her to-morrow, and sail the same day.  It is a very important
service for so young a man as yourself, but from what I have already
seen of you I am confident of your ability to bring your task to a
successful termination.  That is all, I think, that I have to say to
you, Senor Douglas, except that, should you wish to do so, you have my
permission to number your friend, the young engineer, among your crew.
Now, good day, young sir, and the best of good luck to you."

Jim saluted in silence, feeling rather at a loss to know what to say by
way of thanks, and marched out of the cabin, "as proud as a dog with two
tails."  He had never anticipated anything like this when he entered the
Chilian service, and the news seemed almost too good to be true.  Yet he
speedily pulled himself together and hurried off to find his friend
O'Meara, whom he came across in his cabin, smoking, and to whom he
promptly imparted the joyful news.  And half an hour later the two lads
had packed up their slender stock of baggage and were quite ready for
their new adventure.  Bearing in mind the admiral's order that he should
lose no time in getting his new command ready for sea Jim, accompanied
by his chum, went the rounds of the flagship, saying good-bye to their
numerous friends, who betrayed no little curiosity as to the reason of
the Englishmen's somewhat sudden departure.  But Jim thought it best to
keep his own counsel, and only enlightened the Chilians so far as to say
that his friend and he had been selected for a special service, the
nature of which he was not at liberty to disclose.

A shore-boat was then signalled for, and upon her arrival alongside the
two lads got into her and had themselves and their baggage conveyed
ashore, where they chartered another boat in which they were rowed out
to the _Angamos_.  The object of the double journey was to keep, as far
as possible, their movements secret.

Having arrived on board, Jim found that everything was in readiness for
a start, except for the fact that certain stores had not yet come off
from the shore.  He mustered his crew aft, however, and proceeded to
read his commission to them.  His appointment to the command was
received with cheers of delight, for the crew was made up, for the most
part, of men drafted from the other ships of the squadron, consequently
they either knew Jim personally or had heard something of his exploits.
They therefore knew what sort of commander they were sailing under, and
looked forward to a lively and adventurous cruise.  Douglas then sent
the purser and a few men ashore to hurry up the belated stores; and by
midnight everything and everybody was on board--and the ship ready.  But
remembering Admiral Riveros' orders as to sailing on the morrow, he
waited until daybreak, and then signalled that everything was in
readiness for his departure, and inquired whether it was the admiral's
pleasure that he should sail at once.  The answer promptly came back
that the sooner he sailed the better; and Jim, ordering the saluting
guns to be manned and loaded, made his way with a proud step to the
navigating bridge, and rang his engines to half-speed ahead, the anchor
having already been got up.

There was a responsive tinkle from the bridge-telegraph, at which the
young commander smiled, for he recognised, in the long-continued
response, the hand of Mr Terence O'Meara.  A slight tremor thrilled
through the hull as the screw began to revolve, and the shipping in the
harbour drifted slowly astern as the fine 1180-ton cruiser gathered way
and threaded her path out of the anchorage.  Then, as she passed the
_Blanco Encalada_, the guns roared out their salute, and a tempest of
cheers burst out on board the flagship as her crew recognised who it was
that was standing on the cruiser's bridge; and Jim could see the glances
of astonishment and the questioning looks writ large upon the faces of
his recent companions.  But the _Angamos_ was past the flagship in about
half a minute, and Jim then put his engines at full speed.  The cruiser,
which had only very recently been built, was capable of steaming at the
rate of fourteen knots, consequently she was at least two knots faster
than the _Union_, the ship she was being sent to hunt down.  She very
soon covered the length of the harbour and vanished from the sight of
the fleet beyond Punta Angeles.

Although from the information in Jim's possession it was to be supposed
that the _Union_ was by this time several days' steam ahead of him, it
was yet by no means certain where she really was; and it was quite
within the bounds of possibility that they might sight her at any
moment.  Douglas therefore took the precaution to have a man in the
fore-topmast crosstrees, with instructions to keep his eyes wide open,
and to report any three-masted, one-funnelled steamer that might happen
to put in an appearance.  A fresh man was sent aloft every two hours,
since the weather was hot, and it was distinctly irksome to be obliged
to remain aloft, exposed to the full glare of the sun for any length of
time; moreover, Jim kept a man at the masthead day and night.  There was
therefore absolutely no chance of the _Union_ being missed should she
come within twenty miles from the _Angamos_, for a man with a powerful
telescope would be able to cover at least that distance from the
cruiser's fore-topmast head.

But despite the strict look-out maintained aboard the _Angamos_, the
days passed without any sign of the _Union_ making her appearance.  The
gun-running vessels Jim did not expect to meet until several days after
his arrival off the Straits of Magellan; but he could not quite
understand not having yet sighted the Peruvian corvette.  Past
Concepcion they swept, on the afternoon of the second day out from
Valparaiso; then past Valdivia, and still there was no sign of the
enemy; then Childe Island was dropped astern, and on the fifth day out
at about two o'clock in the afternoon Cape Pillar, at the north end of
Desolation Island and the entrance to the Straits, was sighted, but the
sea was still bare of the ship of which they had come in search.

Still, as Jim remembered, the _Union_ was a very fast boat, only two
knots slower than the _Angamos_ herself, and he thought it not
improbable that she might be found lurking somewhere among the numerous
islands which make the navigation of Magellan Straits so difficult and
dangerous.  The young skipper therefore took his cruiser into every
little creek and inlet that he came to, in the hope of finding his
quarry there; or, if the water was too shoal, sent away boat expeditions
to explore.  But still there was no sign of the _Union_, and a week
after leaving Valparaiso the _Angamos_ dropped her anchor off Punta
Arenas, and Jim went ashore to interview the governor of that port, in
the forlorn hope that he might have seen the Peruvian pass, or have
heard something of her whereabouts.

Then Douglas received a surprise which he little expected.  He found
Senor Morales, the Governor, in a state of great perturbation.  That
worthy man had a body of only forty men under his command to garrison
the place; and he gave Jim the astonishing news that the _Union_, with
brazen effrontery, had called in at Punta Arenas that very morning, and
that her skipper, taking an armed force ashore with him, had seized
Morales, and placed the town under contribution for a supply of coal and
a quantity of provisions which he needed.

There was no resisting him, averred the unhappy governor, for the
Peruvians numbered quite eighty men and were all fully armed, while the
corvette's guns were trained on the town, so that, in the event of
resistance being offered, she could have brought the place about their

To make a long story short, said the governor, the _Union_ had coaled
and taken in a supply of provisions--neither of which had been paid for,
by the way--and had steamed off down the Straits to the eastward not
three hours before the Chilian cruiser had hove in sight.  He was quite
sure that _el Senor Capitan_ would catch the scoundrel if he sailed at
once.  And, moreover, the _carnicero_ had had the audacity to boast that
he was going to convoy two cargoes of arms, which were coming from
Europe, back to Peru; that he should return through the Straits; and
that he should knock the town to pieces as he went past, as payment for
the articles that he had received.

Jim ground his teeth with anger upon hearing the recital of this
insolence, and he vowed that, could he but find the _Union_, he would
make Captain Villavicencio eat his words.  But unfortunately the
_Angamos_ was herself short of coal and fresh water, and several hours--
very precious hours--were spent in getting these necessaries on board;
so that it was already dark before Douglas finally got away, having
promised the Governor that he would do all in his power to prevent the
Peruvian from carrying out his threat.  But the _Union_ was by this time
a good many miles ahead, and the navigation of the tortuous and
intricate channel, with its furious currents, was not a thing to be
undertaken at any great speed at night.  Consequently Douglas was
obliged to crawl slowly along at about five knots an hour, with two
leadsmen in the fore chains, at the very time when he wanted to be
steaming fourteen; and he feared that the _Union_ would have got such a
lengthy start, while daylight lasted, that it would be a very difficult
matter indeed to overhaul her.  But there was just one hope for him; he
reflected that she would almost certainly wait at the eastern entrance
of the Straits for her convoy, and, if she were there, he would find
her, and bring her to action.

The moment that daylight dawned, Jim, whose nerves were by this time
torn to fiddle-strings by frequent necessary stoppages during the night,
put his vessel at full speed again, and, still with two leadsmen
sounding the whole time, the _Angamos_ swept along the narrow waters,
finally emerging at the Argentine end of the Straits.  A fresh
disappointment was, however, in store for the young Englishman; for
still there was no sign of the corvette; and now he did not in the least
know in what direction to look for her.  Finally, after cruising to and
fro off the entrance for some hours, in the hope of sighting the chase,
he determined to reach over toward the Falkland Islands, in the hope
that the _Union_ might have gone there to meet the convoy.

The _Angamos_ had, by about midnight on the next night, traversed close
upon half the distance to the Islands, and Jim was almost beginning to
despair of ever catching the elusive corvette, when a hail came down
from one of the men who were still stationed at the masthead: "Light
ahead! bearing about a point on our port bow!"

Douglas's heart jumped.  Here, surely, must be the craft of which he was
in search.  He had to wait a few seconds to control his excitement, and
then he replied: "How far distant is the light, and what does it look

"It's about eight miles distant," replied the seaman, "and looks like
the light at a ship's masthead; but I can now see two red lights, one
over the other, arranged just below the white one; and I should say that
the three of them, shown together as they are, mean a signal of some
sort; for I can see neither port nor starboard lights showing in their
usual places."

"Aha!" thought Jim, "this is not so bad, after all; this approaching
craft can hardly be our friend the _Union_, I should think; it is more
likely that she will prove to be one of the gun-running steamers, and if
so--well, her career as a gun-runner will close somewhat abruptly, I
think.--Masthead ahoy, what is it now?" he continued aloud, as the
seaman aloft gave an excited yell, which he immediately suppressed.

"Why, sir," the fellow answered, "I have just sighted a second set of
lights, almost dead astern of the first lot; we have just this moment
opened them.  There are certainly _two_ steamers approaching, sir; and--
ah! one of them has just sent up a rocket--I expect it is because she
has sighted us."

"Then, by jingo!" soliloquised the Englishman, "they will be the gun-
runners, and no mistake about it.  How I wish I knew what lights it has
been arranged for the _Union_ to show as a signal to them.  However, I
don't; so that cannot be helped."  Aloud, he went on, addressing the
excited Chilian at the masthead, "Keep your eye on those ships, Pedro;
and report any change to me at once."

"Ay, ay, sir!" replied the man, "they are still coming this way."  Then
Jim called up his lieutenant, a young fellow named Manuel, and
instructed him to get the ship immediately cleared for action, and to
douse every single one of the lights on board at once.  He then went
back to the bridge, and, as soon as every light on board had been
extinguished, ordered the quartermaster at the wheel to turn the ship's
head eight points to starboard; thus, a few minutes later, the _Angamos_
was running at full speed, on a course at right angles to her previous
one, and was leaving the gun-runners on her port quarter.

Douglas still continued to watch their lights intently, and soon
perceived that his failure to give them a signal of some sort had
occasioned quick suspicion to their skippers, for they gradually slowed
up; and presently the lights drew close together, by which Jim could
guess that the steamers had run alongside each other to permit of a
conference between the two captains.

A few minutes later Jim turned the _Angamos_ eight points to port,
bringing her back to her old course, but at a distance of about four
miles from the supposed gun-runners.  He held on in this direction until
he was well astern of them, and then circled right round and headed
straight after them, immediately in their wake, at full speed.  After a
pause of about a quarter of an hour the Peruvian skippers again went
ahead on their old course, doubtless much perturbed in their minds at
the sudden and extraordinary disappearance of the craft which, a short
time before, had seemed to be coming directly toward them.  And so
simple were they that they did not suspect Jim's subsequent _move_, but
went straight ahead, keeping all their lights burning as before; thus he
was able to keep them in full view, although they could not see him.
Probably it never occurred to either of them to cast a single glance

Jim had reckoned on the suspected steamers being slower than his own
cruiser, and he soon saw that he was steaming about three knots to their
two, and overhauling them fast.  The lieutenant had some time ago
reported the ship as cleared for action; and the look-out aloft stated
that there was no other sail in sight; consequently, Jim reckoned on
bringing the enemy to book in about half an hour's time, and dealing
summarily with him before the _Union_ could complicate matters by
putting in an appearance; a prospect which caused him no little
satisfaction, as he felt that he might have had all his work cut out to
deal effectively with the three, had the corvette been opposed to him at
the same time.

The _Angamos_, vibrating from stem to stern under the rapid revolutions
of her screw, plunged along through the black night, while, three miles
ahead, the guiding-lights shone out clearer and clearer every moment.
Half an hour passed and the cruiser was very, very near; so near,
indeed, that Jim could plainly hear the throbbing of the gun-runner's
machinery; and they must also have caught the sound of his, for he
suddenly saw another rocket rush up into the still night air, and
directly afterwards a red glow began to hover over the tops of their
funnels, showing that they were trying to increase their speed by
coaling up furiously.

But it was of no use.  The gun-runners only gained a very few minutes'
grace.  The _Angamos_ was much too fast a ship for them; and a few
minutes later she ranged up on the starboard side of the sternmost
steamer, while Jim, seizing a speaking-trumpet, hailed at the top of his
voice: "What ship is that?  Heave-to!  I wish to speak to you!"



For the space of quite half a minute there was no reply; and then, in
response to Jim's repeated summons, both steamers, as if by previous
arrangement, began to send blue rockets flying into the air; while both
set up a most unearthly shrieking on their steam-whistles.  They had by
this time recognised that the suspicious stranger was not the _Union_;
but, knowing that she must be somewhere in the vicinity, they determined
to attract her attention by some means or other, should she be anywhere
within sight or hearing.

But Jim smiled grimly to himself as he saw and heard their despairing
efforts, for he had kept a man at the masthead for the express purpose
of ascertaining whether the Peruvian corvette was anywhere in the
vicinity, and the last report, received less than five minutes before,
assured him that she was nowhere to be seen.

He waited patiently, therefore, until the discordant blasts on the
sirens had ceased, and then hailed again for the skipper to heave-to,
vowing that he would fire into him if he did not do so.  The young
Englishman had imagined that he saw, by the light of the rockets, a
number of men scampering about the decks, but he concluded that it was
merely the effect of terror and astonishment, and he was totally
unprepared for the gun-runner's next move.  The fellow had, when he saw
that there was no hope of escape, hastily prepared his ship for action;
and the last words were hardly out of Jim's mouth when a perfect storm
of machine-gun fire broke out aboard the flying steamer, and the bullets
whistled round Douglas like hail, killing the quartermaster at the
wheel, and several other seamen who were not under shelter.

The cruiser immediately yawed wildly, and in another minute would have
crashed into the gun-runner, probably sending both craft to the bottom,
had not Jim seized the wheel, as it spun out of the dead man's fingers,
and brought the _Angamos_ back to her course just in the nick of time.
At the same moment he saw the leading steamer circle round in a wide
curve and head directly for him, evidently with the idea of helping her
consort in the fight against the Chilian.

There was no time for any more palaver, thought Jim; the fellows meant
to fight, and to disable him if they could, and he must be ready for
them.  In a voice hoarse with anger at the useless slaughter of five of
his men, he gave the order to fire; and immediately the guns of the
_Angamos_ began to speak.

She was armed with several Gatling and Nordenfeldt guns, three 12-
pounder breech-loaders, six 3-pounders, and one 8-inch breech-loading
Armstrong gun, throwing a projectile weighing 170 pounds, which was
mounted forward; and, immediately upon Jim's command her whole broadside
crashed out, raking the foolhardy steamer from end to end, and making
her fairly reel under the impact of the iron shower.  Away forward,
Manuel, the first lieutenant, had observed the approach of the second
steamer; and he now laid the big 8-inch gun directly for her bows,
firing when she had approached to within about four hundred yards of the
cruiser.  The gun's deep roar rang out loud above the din of the smaller
weapons, and a brilliant flash of white light leaped out on board the
steamer, the missile blowing a huge hole in her starboard bow, and
setting her on fire forward; as was seen by the blaze which at once
sprang up on board her.

At the same time the _Angamos_ passed ahead of the first steamer, which,
by the light of the beacon-fires now lighted aboard all three vessels,
was seen to be named the _Miraflores_; and, running alongside the
second, the _Huemul_, she delivered every gun of her starboard
broadside, bringing down the steel foremast, riddling the funnel with
rifle and machine-gun bullets, and killing every man on deck who was not
under cover.  At the same time a 12-pounder shell, which struck a heap
of ammunition which had been placed on the _Huemul's_ deck to feed a 32-
pounder breech-loader, blew up the whole lot, killing the unfortunate
gun's crew, and lifting the gun itself bodily over the side into the
sea.  The _Angamos_ then slowed down a little, and a few seconds later
the _Miraflores_ overtook her and discharged every available gun into
the cruiser, killing several more men, and dismounting one 32-pounder
and two 3-pounder quick-firing guns.

But the cruiser's people had meanwhile again loaded their guns on the
port broadside, and were not slow in avenging the death of their
comrades.  They did not require the stimulus which Jim sought to impart
to them, by urging them in his excitement to "slap it into the beggars!"
for they worked their guns like demons, and, notwithstanding their rage
and fury, made such excellent practice that the _Miraflores_ began to
look more and more like a wreck every minute.  At last, in desperation,
her captain actually tried to run his ship aboard the _Angamos_, with
the idea of boarding her; but the cruiser was several knots faster than
the gun-runner, and Jim, perceiving the fellow's intention, turned the
_Angamos_ to starboard and so avoided the collision, at the same time
pouring in another broadside with all his undamaged guns.

Instantly there arose a dense cloud of steam on board the _Miraflores_,
accompanied by a loud hissing noise; her speed suddenly slackened; and
Douglas knew that one of the cruiser's shells had penetrated a boiler;
and he shuddered in spite of himself at the thought of the scene which
was now probably enacting down in the gun-runner's engine-room.  But,
just as he was looking at the stricken ship through his glass, to see
whether she had surrendered, he was deafened and well-nigh stunned by an
appalling explosion which came from somewhere astern of the _Angamos_;
and pieces of wood and iron, fragments of charred human bodies,
exploding cartridges, and wreckage of all descriptions began to hurtle
round his ears; while, from the shelter of the chart-house, to which he
precipitately retreated, he saw an enormous column of black smoke
hanging over the place near which he had last seen the _Huemul_; and he
had little difficulty in accounting to himself for the disaster.

The steamer had been set on fire forward by one of the cruiser's shells,
which had exploded a quantity of ammunition on her deck; and this fire
rapidly spreading, had communicated itself to some of the powder and
cartridges which formed the greater part of her cargo.  This had
forthwith exploded, and, in its turn, blown up the remainder, causing a
most terrible catastrophe; for, when the smoke of the explosion cleared
away, there was not a trace of the _Huemul_ left upon the surface of the
water.  She and her gallant crew had been blown, literally, to atoms.

Appalled by the suddenness and extent of the disaster, both the
_Miraflores_ and the _Angamos_ ceased firing for several minutes; and,
by the light of the fires which were still burning on board both
vessels, Jim could see the gun-runner's crew dashing wildly about, as
though in the last extremity of terror, while the ship herself was
almost shrouded from view by the dense clouds of steam, coloured ruddy
yellow in the light of the braziers, which still gushed in volumes from
her pierced boilers.

The cruiser's men quickly recovered their equanimity, however; and,
running to their guns, poured in another broadside upon the demoralised
crew of the _Miraflores_.  This was more, apparently, than flesh and
blood could endure; for Douglas saw several men immediately rush upon
the captain, who was still inciting them to continue the fight, and cut
the unfortunate man down.  The crew then rushed aft in a body, hauled
down the Peruvian flag, under which both ships had been sailing, hailed
at the same time that they surrendered, and begged for quarter.  The men
frantically waved handkerchiefs, towels, in fact anything white that
they could lay their hands upon, to emphasise the fact that they had

"I detest being obliged to give quarter to mutineers," said Douglas to
his young first lieutenant; "and these fellows undoubtedly are such, for
they murdered their captain, and surrendered against his wishes; but I
must accept their surrender, I suppose, as it would simply be murder to
continue firing into them now; they are all half crazy with fright.
Have the port and starboard quarter-boats manned and lowered, Senor
Manuel, if you please, and bring off the crew of that ship; but take the
precaution of first putting them all in irons.  After you have
transferred them to the _Angamos_ I will put a prize-crew aboard, under
your command; and you shall keep me company until we return to
Valparaiso.  I have a little plan at the back of my mind which I hope to
be able to put into execution and I will tell you what it is before you
finally go aboard the _Miraflores_.  Now, be as quick as you can, for
there has been a good deal of firing during this action, and the _Union_
may put in an appearance at any moment; and I do not wish to see her--
just yet."

Manuel saluted, and ran away aft to give orders about the boats, and,
five minutes later, they were being pulled across the water toward the
now motionless gun-runner.  Jim saw Manuel climb up her tall sides; and
then he went into his chart-house to await the lieutenant's return, and
to think out the details of the plan about which he had spoken to
Manuel.  However, he first sent a man into the fore-topmast crosstrees,
and one into the main, with orders to keep a bright look-out for the
appearance of the Peruvian corvette.

Some two hours later Manuel returned, bringing with him the whole of the
Peruvian ship's crew, most of whom consisted of ne'er-do-wells of almost
every nationality under the sun: and a choice-looking lot of rascals
they were.  Jim wisely refused to accept the parole of any of them,
placed them, still in irons, in the cruiser's punishment cells, and took
the precaution to post a strong guard over them.  He then received the
report of his lieutenant, which was to the effect that the damage on
board the _Miraflores_ was, with the exception of the shell in her
boiler-room, mostly superficial, and could soon be repaired by the
prize-crew.  Several of her guns had been badly damaged; but the young
man suggested that they could be replaced, together with the damaged
weapons belonging to the _Angamos_, from the gun-runner's cargo, which
consisted, in part, of a number of similar pieces.

Jim carefully digested the report, and then unfolded his latest plan to
Manuel, which was to the effect that the _Miraflores_, with a prize-crew
aboard, and the _Angamos_, should impersonate the two Peruvian gun-
runners expected by the _Union_; and that they should hoist the enemy's
flag and go in search of him; thus getting close enough to bring the
elusive corvette to action.  The lieutenant was therefore ordered to get
aboard at once, with his prize-crew, execute the necessary repairs, re-
arm the ship out of the cargo she carried, and, as the boiler was too
badly damaged to admit of repair at sea, to cut off steam from it
altogether, and fire up under the remaining three, which could, even
then, give the _Miraflores_ a speed of about nine knots.

Manuel accordingly selected his crew, and again went aboard the gun-
runner; where he and his men worked with such a will that by mid-day the
repairs were complete enough to allow of a start being made.  The
remaining repairs were of such a nature that it was possible to execute
them while the ship was under way.  Steam was then raised in the three
sound boilers, and, the water being quite smooth, the _Miraflores_ was
brought alongside the cruiser, which then replaced her damaged guns, and
hoisted fresh ones out of the gun-runner's hold with her own derricks.

At length, by five o'clock in the afternoon of the day after the battle,
both ships were in a condition to proceed; and, much to Jim's
satisfaction, there had been no sign of the _Union_ to disturb them.
They were now ready to go in search of her; and, with two well-armed
ships under his command, Douglas swore that he would pay Captain
Villavicencio in full for all the injury that he had done in the past to
Chilian commerce.  The Peruvian flag was then hoisted aboard both ships,
and each also arranged three lanterns upon her foremast, for use after
dark, in the same manner as they had been previously arranged, as a
signal, on board the gun-runners.  Before starting Jim also questioned
the captured crew as to what they knew of the plans of their skipper,
and where he had expected to meet the _Union_.  The men refused
information at first, but, upon being told that they would be kept upon
half-rations until they chose to speak, they said that they had expected
to meet the corvette almost midway between the Falkland Islands and Cape
Virzins, at the eastern mouth of the Straits; also that both captains
had mistaken the _Angamos_ for the _Union_ when they first sighted her.
Jim could not understand how it was that in that case there were no
signs of the corvette, but he determined not to leave the locality until
he had found her and brought her to action.

With the _Miraflores_ steaming along in his wake, in the same formation
as that adopted by the gun-running steamers, Jim started off on his
search for the _Union_, heading west-south-west for the mouth of the
Straits of Magellan, with a man at either masthead of each of the two
vessels, and a prize of fifty _pesos_ to the seaman who should first
sight her.  He did not feel altogether happy at the idea of sailing
under the Peruvian flag and adopting such a ruse, even for a short
period; but his orders to capture or sink the _Union_ were precise and
imperative, and he considered that, in this case at least, the end
justified the means employed, for he knew that he would never succeed in
getting alongside the corvette if her captain were once allowed to
entertain the slightest suspicion that the two ships were Chilians.
True, the _Angamos_ was a faster ship; but the _Union_ drew far less
water; and, since she would probably be found--if found at all--
somewhere among the shoal waters of the Straits, she might be able to
get away by dodging into shallow water among the numerous islands, where
the _Angamos_, with her deeper draught, would be unable to follow.

Darkness fell very shortly after the two ships had started on their run
toward the Straits; and the lanterns on their foremasts were lighted
after the same manner as on the previous night; while they surged along
over the indigo-coloured water at the rate of about nine knots an hour,
a sharp look-out being maintained meanwhile for the appearance of the
_Union_.  But to the great disappointment of everybody, that craft most
persistently refused to put in an appearance; and when the next morning
dawned the high, rocky cliffs of Tierra del Fuego and the Patagonian
coast lay before them, and it became evident that the Peruvian had
either retreated up the Straits, or that she was still behind them.

About nine o'clock the two ships, still flying the Peruvian colours,
entered the Straits, and immediately slowed down to half-speed, not only
on account of the intricate navigation, but also to give the _Union_ a
better chance of overtaking them if it should happen that she really was
still astern.  Catharine Point was passed and left behind, and the two
steamers crossed Lomas Bay into the "First Narrows," where Jim thought
it possible that the _Union_ might be waiting; but she was not there.
They were steaming slowly across Elizabeth Bay, and Douglas was
beginning to fear that the corvette had eluded him, after all, when a
voice, hoarse with excitement, hailed from aloft:--

"On deck there!  I can see three mastheads showing above that hummock of
rock at the entrance to the `Second Narrows'; and there is a column of
smoke visible, too, so the craft must be a steamer.  We shall open her
out in a few minutes now, and I think she must be that detestable
corsair we are looking for."

Jim was, as usual, on the navigating bridge when the hail floated down;
and his first act was to seize a speaking-trumpet and shout the news to
Manuel on the bridge of the _Miraflores_.  His second was to spring up
the ratlines, seat himself alongside the seaman in the crosstrees, and
take a good look at what he could see of the stranger from that
elevation.  A prolonged scrutiny convinced him that the craft could be
none other than the _Union_; and he hurried down to give his final
orders, both ships having been kept practically prepared for action ever
since the moment on the evening before when they started in company to
look for the corvette.  There was consequently very little to do in the
way of preparation; and a quarter of an hour after sighting the
Peruvian's mastheads both Chilian ships were ready for the fray.

They had not steamed another cable's-length when it became evident that
a sharp look-out must also have been kept aboard the corvette; for her
masts began to slide along the top of the ridge of rock, showing that
she was under way; and a few minutes later the entire ship swept into
view, flying the Peruvian ensign, and so leaving no room to doubt that
she was the long-sought-for _Union_.

Directly she hove in sight Jim signalled to the _Miraflores_ to close up
and come alongside him, at a distance of half a cable's-length away, and
both ships quickened up their speed, by such small degrees as to be
imperceptible, to nine knots, which was as fast as the cruiser's consort
could steam.  Presently a long, dismal wail came floating across the
water from the _Union_, and Douglas saw that she wished to attract his
attention to a signal which she had just hoisted.

He at once dived into the chart-house for the signal-book, and presently
he and his second lieutenant were poring over it in an effort to read
the communication.  But, to Jim's intense annoyance, the signal, when
translated, seemed to have no meaning, and he realised that the corvette
was making a private and pre-arranged signal, which he was, of course,
unable to read.

"Confound it, Aranjuez!" he exclaimed, angrily, to his second
lieutenant, "what are we to do now?  I did not anticipate this; and if
we are not careful he will take alarm and sheer off.  I wish I had
thought of looking among the papers of the _Miraflores_' captain; they
might have contained the key to this private signal."

"Well, senor," replied the lieutenant, "we must delay making a signal of
any sort until the very last moment.  Then, when he shows signs of
becoming suspicious and sheering off, we will hoist, very slowly, a
string of flags meaning nothing in particular.  It will take him some
little time to decipher the flags; and we shall gain a few minutes while
he tries to fathom their meaning from his own private signal-book.  We
ought, by that time, to be close enough to him for you to be able to
open fire effectively if the men will only keep calm and shoot straight.
Should we fail to disable him with the first few shots, however, he
will be off and we may be unable to catch him again."

"Precisely!  This is the best--the only thing we can do, Aranjuez,"
replied Jim, gazing steadily through his telescope at the _Union_.  "I
am not afraid of being unable to catch him if he will stick to deep
water; but I feel convinced that if he takes the alarm he will be
certain to run for shoal water at once.  Have you got that bunting
ready?" he continued, "for, if so, we had better run up a string of
flags; he seems to be slowing down, as though he didn't altogether like
our looks.  Quick! bend on and send them up.  There, that's it--not too
fast now; not too fast.  Ah, he has begun to move again, Aranjuez.
Don't hoist that signal any farther; if he only keeps as he is going for
another ten minutes he will be under our guns.  Oh, good luck, good
luck! he's coming along at full speed, or I'm a Dutchman!"

Jim was right; the _Union_ was coming along at full speed; yet her
captain was not quite such a fool as the young man took him to be.  He
had seen the two Chilians from his mastheads before they had seen him;
and he had been watching them closely ever since; with the result that
he had arrived at the conclusion that some trick was being played on
him.  But he fell into the error of mistaking the cruiser for the
_Huemul_, and of believing that the crews of both vessels, corrupted by
Chilian gold, had seized the ships, after murdering their officers.
Villavicencio, therefore, promptly made up his mind to retake the gun-
runners, which he felt certain were no longer in Peruvian hands, since
his signals remained unanswered; and when he had approached to within a
mile and a half of the two Chilian craft, he very much astonished Jim
Douglas by opening fire upon him with his heavy 8-inch bow-guns.

Although he could not account for this sudden commencement of
hostilities on the part of the _Union_, Jim on his own part had only
been waiting for the proper moment to open fire himself, and now he, in
turn, gave Villavicencio a most unpleasant surprise by returning his
fire with a very much larger gun than the Peruvian imagined that the
_Huemul_ carried.  For a few seconds the skipper of the _Union_
hesitated as to whether he should not, even now, turn and run; for,
taken altogether, matters seemed to be rather in the nature of an
elaborately-laid trap.

But Villavicencio, now that Admiral Grau was dead, was the bravest man
in the naval service of Peru; and his hesitation was but momentary.  He
continued to steam ahead at full speed, but put his helm over to
starboard, causing the corvette to swerve slightly to port, and thus
presented her whole starboard broadside to the approaching Chilians, who
now hauled down the Peruvian flag and hoisted their own ensign.  Then,
as soon as his broadside guns bore on the enemy, Villavicencio fired,
and a storm of shot and shell came flying round the _Angamos_ and her
consort, hulling the latter badly, and dismounting two of the recently
replaced 12-pounder breech-loaders.

Jim ground his teeth as he saw the terrible execution wrought by the
_Union's_ broadside; and, exhorting his men to keep cool, ordered them
to load and fire as fast as they could.  Once more the cruiser's 8-inch
gun roared out, sending its vengeful messenger shrieking toward the
corvette.  The shell struck right at the base of that ship's foremast,
and there exploded, scattering death and destruction all round it.  The
huge spar remained upright for a second or two, then it swayed slightly
forward and to one side; the rigging, which had been badly cut up by
fragments of flying shell, suddenly parted; and the mast went over the
side with a crash that was plainly audible aboard the Chilian ships; and
high above the crash of rending wood rang, loud and painfully clear, the
agonised shrieks of the poor maimed wretches who had been crushed by its

"Now's your time," shouted Jim, "they are lumbered up with the wreck of
the foremast, and will not be able to fire their big gun until they have
cleared it away.  Fire into her now with every gun that will bear, and
keep at it until she strikes.  _Miraflores_ ahoy! pass under my stern
and take up a position on the _Union's_ port side when we come level
with her; I will engage her to starboard.  That's the style, lads," he
continued enthusiastically, as a couple of 12-pounder shells exploded,
one on the corvette's navigating bridge and the other at the base of her
conning-tower,--"that's the style!  Keep it up, and show them how the
Chilians fight."

The Peruvian skipper, however, was quicker in getting his wreckage
cleared away than Jim had anticipated, and the _Angamos_ had not fired
many rounds before the cumbersome spar was cut adrift and went floating
astern, and Villavicencio got his guns to work again.  Their recent
disaster, moreover, had not disturbed their aim; for the next 8-inch
shell fired by the _Union_ blew away the _Miraflores_' funnel, and
killed her helmsman, with the result that she turned sharply to port,
with smoke and flame sweeping along her deck from the cavity which the
shell had blown in it, and very narrowly escaped ramming the _Angamos_.
The latter had by this time approached to within half a mile of the
_Union_, and now got her machine-guns to work, mowing down the Peruvians
who were not under cover as with a scythe, for the deck of the corvette
was crowded with men.

After ten minutes of furious bombardment, and with the _Miraflores_
crawling slowly up to take part again in the encounter, Villavicencio,
brave as he was, realised that he had walked into a trap and had caught
a Tartar; for he now recognised the _Angamos_ for what she really was--a
cruiser.  Something had happened to the _Huemul_, that was perfectly
clear, and the _Miraflores_ was also in Chilian hands; he therefore
considered that he was not justified in risking the _Union_ any longer
in an engagement which could have but one ending, considering the fact
that the corvette was now the only effective ship which the Peruvians
possessed in their sadly depleted navy.  He consequently put up his helm
and, describing a wide sweep to port, made off toward the entrance to
the "Second Narrows," maintaining, however, a well-directed fire as he
went with his 8-inch stern gun, which weapon dropped shell with
remarkable precision aboard the cruiser and her consort.

Jim had just signalled the _Miraflores_ that he was going to chase the
_Union_, and that the prize was to rendezvous at Punta Arenas, when an
event occurred which made a rendezvous as unnecessary as it was
impossible for the second gun-runner.

For, as though determined to do all the damage he possibly could before
slipping away, Villavicencio had ordered a number of his broadside guns
to be shifted aft, to enable him to maintain as heavy a fire as possible
from that part of the ship; and so rapidly did he now fire from his
stern ports that the series of explosions looked almost like a
continuous sheet of flame, while the solid shot and shell fell round the
Chilian ships like hail.  The _Miraflores_ had by this time dropped
about a quarter of a mile astern of the _Angamos_, and the latter was
gaining rapidly on the corvette, when the _Union_ fired what was
intended to be her last shot, a shell from an 8-inch gun.  But that
shell was the saving of her for, having pierced the unarmoured sides of
the _Miraflores_ as though they had been paper, the explosion took
effect right among the tightly packed ammunition-cases which constituted
her cargo, and the next second she went into the air, as the _Huemul_
had done, with an appalling roar, followed by a tremendous shower of all
kinds of debris.

From the very nature of the explosion Jim felt practically certain that
no one could possibly be left alive out of her whole company, yet there
was nevertheless just one chance in a thousand that there might be; and
with a groan of disappointment at being obliged to abandon the chase of
the _Union_, he turned his ship round and began to search for possible

But he found none.  A few poor unrecognisable human remnants were all
that rewarded him for his attempt at rescue; and after a precious hour
lost in this way, he once more turned his ship's head and went off at
full speed after the _Union_.

But that hour's start had been sufficient for the corvette, and had
enabled her to evade pursuit among the numerous islands which dot the
Straits.  Douglas haunted the Straits for a whole week, searching every
nook and corner of them for the Peruvian; but the _Union's_ captain had
done his work well, and the fugitive was nowhere to be found.  And at
length, unwilling though he was to give up his search, but anxious not
to lose time when the _Angamos_ might be required for other and more
important work, he started back for headquarters, arriving at Valparaiso
just a month after he had left it.  He had carried out one part of his
task, which was to prevent the two cargoes of arms from falling into the
hands of the Peruvians; but the _Union_ still remained at large, and was
destined to give the Chilians a great deal more trouble before they
finally closed her brilliant and adventurous career.



When Jim reported to the admiral he was greatly gratified to find that
his chief was perfectly satisfied with the way in which he had carried
out the task entrusted to him; and although the Chilian very naturally
regretted that the young skipper of the _Angamos_ had not been able to
bring the _Union_ to book, he fully recognised that Douglas had done all
that was possible.  And he commended the judgment he had displayed in
bringing the cruiser back to Valparaiso, instead of waiting about in the
Straits of Magellan on the off-chance of again encountering her, for, as
he explained to Douglas, the fleet was even then on the point of leaving
port to harry the Peruvian coast, and the _Angamos_ was required to take
part in the work.

He was also informed that Captain Castello would take charge of the
_Angamos_ on the coming expedition, and that Jim himself was, for
certain particular reasons, to return to the _Blanco Encalada_, in his
former capacity of first lieutenant of the flagship.  Admiral Riveros
also hinted that he had it in his mind to depute to him in the near
future a difficult and extremely important piece of work, the character
of which he would fully explain to him later, and this circumstance was
quite sufficient to compensate the young man for any disappointment he
may have temporarily felt at finding that he was not to retain the
command of the cruiser.

Accordingly Jim returned to the flagship, where he was heartily welcomed
by his old comrades, who informed him that the destination of the
squadron was thought to be Callao, and that in all probability the
Chilians would bombard the place, and then endeavour to take Lima, the
Peruvian capital; so that there promised to be plenty of excitement and
adventure in store for everybody.

At length all preparations were completed, and on the 2nd of April 1880,
exactly a week after Jim had returned to Valparaiso in the _Angamos_,
the fleet, consisting of the _Blanco, Huascar, Angamos, Pilcomayo,
Mathias Cousino_, and the two torpedo-boats _Guacolda_ and _Janequeo_,
left that port and, steaming out of the bay, headed to the northward.

The ships, which had of course been coaled and provisioned at
Valparaiso, had no need to call in anywhere for stores, but headed
direct for Callao, which was openly stated to be their destination as
soon as they were out of the harbour; and on April 9 the squadron
arrived within a couple of hours' steam of the Peruvian port.  At three
o'clock in the afternoon of the same day the two torpedo boats, under
convoy of the _Huascar_, went on ahead to scout; and, arriving off the
port just about dusk, Lieutenant Goni of the _Guacolda_ rashly
determined to make a raid on the Peruvian shipping on his own account,
and accordingly slipped away into the harbour toward the place where the
enemy's warships were known to be lying.

The _Union_ was soon identified as one of the ships lying at anchor, and
Goni promptly headed for her.  But when about half a mile distant from
her quarry, the torpedo-boat accidentally ran down a fishing-smack,
drowning all the crew except three, and losing one of her own torpedo-
spars.  It was by this time quite dark, and in the confusion the precise
position of the _Union_ had been lost; but Goni, having rescued the
three surviving fishermen, forced them to pilot him to the spot where
the corvette was lying, only to discover, when he got close to her, that
her skipper had surrounded her with a boom.  But undismayed by this, the
gallant Chilian forthwith destroyed the boom, and then discovered that
he had lost his second spar, and consequently was unable to torpedo the
ship herself.  The _Union_ then opened a smart machine-gun fire, and the
_Guacolda_ was compelled to beat a retreat, much to Lieutenant Goni's

Unfortunately, this ill-timed attack had put the Peruvians thoroughly on
the alert, and as soon as daylight appeared they hauled their fleet,
consisting of the _Union, Rimac, Chalaco, Oroya_, and _Atahualpa_ into
shoal water behind the breakwater of the stone docks, where were also
the _Talisman_ and two hulks, the _Apurimac_ and _Maranon_.  They had
also several new torpedo-boats, as well as launches and tugs armed with
spar-torpedoes, with which they patrolled the harbour to prevent any
repetition of an attack like that of the _Guacolda_.

Admiral Riveros was extremely angry with Lieutenant Goni when upon his
arrival off Callao he saw that every possible preparation had been made
for his reception; that any further surprise was impossible; and that
the attack would now have to be made openly.  He therefore called away
his barge and, under a flag of truce, visited the senior Peruvian naval
officer for the purpose of informing him that Callao was to be
blockaded, and that, since bombardment might at any moment become
necessary, all non-combatants should at once leave the town and seek a
place of safety.  The Chilian also sent a notice to this effect to the
principal consular agent and to the senior foreign naval officer of the
neutral warships lying in the roads, eight days being the time allowed
for neutral shipping and foreigners generally to leave the place.  Upon
the representation of the consuls, however, that eight days were not
enough, the admiral increased the period of grace to ten days, and then
set to work on the task of making his fleet ready for the bombardment
which he saw was inevitable.

The defences of Callao consisted for the most part of a series of
batteries arranged in crescent form round the shores of the bay.  At the
extreme south-west point of land, between the bays of Callao and
Miraflores, stood the strongest Peruvian battery, called the Dos de
Mayo, which had only very recently been constructed.  This contained two
20-inch M.L.  Rodman guns, mounted on United States service iron
carriages; and these formidable weapons commanded nearly seven-eighths
of the horizon.  Tarapoca battery, which faced due south over Chorillos
bay, contained two 15-inch Dahlgren guns, as also did Pierola battery,
facing Callao bay.  Next to Pierola came the Torre del Merced, a
revolving turret mounting two 10-inch rifled Armstrongs.  Then came a
brick fort called the Santa Rosa, containing two 11-inch rifled Blakely
guns.  The Castle, a very old and ruinous structure, the only strength
of which consisted of two masonry towers, had four 11-inch rifled
Blakelies.  Seven large-bore guns were mounted on the mole, together
with two small and very ancient 32-pounders.  At the north end of the
town itself was Fort Ayacucho, containing one 15-inch Dahlgren and one
11-inch Blakely.  Then came another revolving turret, with two 10-inch
Armstrongs; and finally a sand-bag battery, named the Rimac, which
mounted four 15-inch Dahlgren muzzle-loaders.

It will thus be seen that the Chilian fleet would have all its work cut
out if it meant to take the port of Callao, as the first step toward the
capture of the capital, Lima.

By April 20 all the foreign merchant ships had gone away, and all the
foreign warships had moved out of the line of fire and taken up their
position off the mouth of the Rimac River, about two miles to the
northward of the port of Callao.

It was half-past one o'clock p.m. on the eventful day of April 22 when
Admiral Riveros hoisted a signal on the _Blanco Encalada_ for the fleet
to weigh anchor and stand over toward the batteries in readiness to
engage; and a few moments later the clatter of chain-cables was heard,
as the men-o'-war got their anchors.  The _Pilcomayo_, gunboat, was the
first to move, and she took up a position north of the middle of the
bay; Jim's recent command, the cruiser _Angamos_, being next in line;
with the _Huascar_ at the south-west extremity.  The flagship, to the
intense annoyance of her crew, was held in reserve; but the men would
not have grumbled at their enforced idleness had they but known of what
was in store for some of them.  Jim, in particular, was never tired of
speculating as to what was the mysterious service which Riveros had
hinted his intention of employing him upon, and longed for an
opportunity which would enable him to distinguish himself.

He was roused from his somewhat moody reverie by the boom of a great
gun, and, looking up, he saw a cloud of white smoke hanging over the
_Huascar_, which had been the first ship to fire, while a brilliant
flash of flame on board the monitor _Atahualpa_ showed where the death-
dealing shell had struck and exploded.  The _Angamos_ and the
_Pilcomayo_ were not slow in chiming in, and presently the air fairly
vibrated with the concussion of heavy guns; for the Peruvians were now
replying with their seventeen large-bore guns mounted in the batteries,
assisted by the pivot-guns of the _Union_ and several large smooth-bore
guns from some of the obsolete ships behind the mole or stone pier.

The _Blanco Encalada_ was theoretically beyond the range of any of the
enemy's guns; and although several shells exploded in the air near her,
she was never at any time in the least danger, and Jim Douglas, with his
chum Terry, had a splendid opportunity of witnessing a bombardment at
close quarters without taking any risks.  But both of them were so
unappreciative of this immunity that they would have infinitely
preferred their ship to be in the thick of the fighting, instead of
lying safely out of range as she was.

But presently the Chilians found that it was almost impossible to hit
the shipping behind the mole from the position which they had taken up,
and as Admiral Riveros' principal desire was to annihilate the Peruvian
navy, and thus render Peru harmless at sea, he signalled for the
_Huascar_ to move closer in, and to take up a position more to the
north-eastward.  The signal was acknowledged, and presently the monitor
lifted her anchor and stood over still closer to the mole, maintaining a
terrific fire as she went, and receiving a 20-inch Dahlgren shell on her
water-line as some slight return for the damage that she was inflicting.
But luckily she was well provided with water-tight bulkheads, or
nothing could have saved her, for the sea poured into her in tons
through the huge hole which the shell had made in her side.

Nothing daunted, however, her captain, Carlos Condell--the man who had
fought the _Covadonga_ so splendidly, and been promoted through several
ships to the _Huascar_--continued to stand on until he had approached to
within a mile of the mole, when he dropped his anchor and opened a still
more furious and destructive fire upon the Peruvian ships.  One well-
aimed shell set the _Union_ on fire, and for a few minutes Jim and his
chum--together with every other man in the Chilian navy, for that
matter--thought and hoped that the famous ship had run her course.  But
Villavicencio was, as has already been seen, a man of resource and
energy, and in half an hour he had the fire under control.

Not so fortunate was the school-ship _Maranon_.  Although old, she was
armed with the newest weapons for the instruction of naval men in
gunnery, and though these guns were of small calibre, and therefore of
little use against the thick armour of the ironclad, she steamed out
from behind the mole and replied heroically to the _Huascar's_ fire,
killing twelve men who were working the monitor's machine-guns, jamming
one of the turret-tracks, cutting one of the anchor cables, and nearly
wrecking the _Huascar's_ new foremast which had been put in at
Valparaiso, before one of the ironclad's 10-inch shells burst in her
hold and blew the bottom clean out of her.

"By George, Terry," exclaimed Jim enthusiastically, "did you ever see
such a plucky fight?  Why, the school-ship has given the _Huascar_ a
thoroughly nasty mauling!  I expect the Peruvians feel more than a bit
sore at seeing the ship which used to be the pride of their fleet in
Chilian hands.  _Caramba_! but the _Maranon_ is sinking lower in the
water every second; she will be gone in less than five minutes.  I hope
those brave fellows will be able to get out of her before she goes, for
the bay is simply swarming with sharks!  Look at the black dorsal fins
of the beggars playing round the old _Blanco_!  It's enough to make a
fellow sick to think of those gallant chaps being torn to pieces by such
monsters as these.  Ah!  I am glad to see that Condell has ceased firing
to allow those Peruvian launches which are just coming out to pick up
the survivors.  Too late! too late!" he groaned, a second or two later;
"there she goes already!  Why, the whole bottom must have been blown
clean out of her for her to sink in that short time!"

The launches held back for a few seconds to avoid being caught in the
vortex caused by the sinking ship, and then dashed forward to the
rescue.  They saved a good many, but if Jim had but been close enough he
would have seen that his prophecy with regard to the sharks had proved
only too true; for the voracious monsters, darting hither and thither,
snapped up the unfortunate men before the very eyes of the comrades who
were straining every nerve to save them, the fierce fish sometimes
leaping half their length out of the water in their furious efforts to
snatch their prey back even when the man had been hauled up on to the
boat's gunwale.

The two lads were fortunately spared a close view of this harrowing
sight, and their attention was speedily diverted from the catastrophe by
a further commotion behind the mole, when, looking through their
glasses, they saw that the Peruvians, encouraged apparently by the
damage wrought by the _Maranon_, had got a couple of tugs alongside the
old monitors _Manco Capac_ and _Atahualpa_, and were towing them out
close to the _Huascar_; their ironclad sides being more capable of
resisting the latter's shells than the _Maranon's_ wooden hull.

Directly the Chilians perceived this new move, the _Angamos_ and
_Pilcomayo_ stood in to the support of their consort, and in a very few
minutes Jim beheld the somewhat rare spectacle of a close fleet action
in which the sides were well matched, for the two Peruvian monitors were
of about equal strength to the three Chilian warships.  The thunder of
the cannon now became deafening, and Callao bay was positively flecked
with white by the hundreds of ricochetting shells and solid shot; while
even at the distance of four miles the boys could see, through their
telescopes, the ships' hulls reel and quiver under the frightful impact
of the shot and shell.

But the combat did not last very long, for the merciful darkness came
down about an hour after the monitors had been towed out, and put an end
to the action.  The signal for recall was hoisted aboard the _Blanco
Encalada_, the firing gradually ceased, the _Huascar, Angamos_, and
_Pilcomayo_ got their anchors, and shortly after nightfall the whole
Chilian fleet was once more anchored safely under the lee of San Lorenzo

These tactics and the bombardment of Callao continued day after day, and
the port seemed to be as far from surrendering as it was when they
began; but the Chilians found, after the first few days, that it was
necessary to lay down permanent moorings under San Lorenzo Island and
buoy them, so that the fleet could leave its berth every night at dusk,
and return when morning dawned.  This was because of the fact that the
Peruvians had constructed several fast torpedo-boats which prowled round
the fleet after dark and attempted to torpedo the vessels composing it;
and also to avoid the peril of the floating mines which the enemy put
into the water at the mouth of the harbour and allowed to drift down
upon the Chilian vessels with the tide.

The flagship had, in particular, been made the objective of several of
these torpedo attacks; and it was this fact which put into the head of
the admiral a scheme which he had now been turning over in his mind for
some days past.

On the 8th of May a meeting of officers was convened in Admiral Riveros'
cabin on board the flagship; and Jim was one of the officers present.
It was about seven o'clock in the evening, and darkness had already
closed in, the fleet then steaming, in double column of line abreast, on
and off, about two miles to seaward of their anchorage.  As soon as all
the Chilian officers had come aboard Riveros took his seat at the head
of the cabin table, and straightway plunged into business.

"As you are aware, gentlemen," he began, "we have now been lying before
Callao for nearly three weeks; and, despite our best endeavours, the
town still remains untaken, and the way to Lima is still closed to us.
This cannot be permitted to continue very much longer; for we are
running short of provisions and coal, while the ships' bottoms are
getting so foul that, should the need for fast steaming arise, we should
find that the vessels are incapable of making their top speed by at
least two or three knots.  If we are compelled to raise the blockade of
the place so that we may put ourselves in order, the Peruvians will
naturally avail themselves of the opportunity to throw cargoes of arms,
ammunition, and provisions into the place; and thus, upon our return,
all our work will need to be done over again.  Therefore, it is out of
the question for us to think of raising the blockade before Callao has
fallen; and it appears to me that the principal obstacle in the way of
our bringing that to pass is the presence of those Peruvian ships lying
behind the mole.  We have proved that it is impossible to reduce the
port by gun-fire alone; a general assault, therefore, seems to be the
only alternative left us; and a general assault is equally impossible in
the face of the hurricane of shot and shell which those ships are, as we
have already seen, capable of discharging.

"Therefore, as you will doubtless have gathered from my remarks,
gentlemen, it will be necessary for us to destroy those ships, and that
soon.  The question is, how are we to do it?  So long as they remain
where they are, they are safe from our guns, for they are all protected
by the mole.  I have therefore summoned you aboard the flagship with the
object of ascertaining whether any of you have any plans or suggestions
to offer for the solution of the difficulty.  If so, I shall be very
glad to hear them."

For a considerable time there was silence in the cabin, everybody
seeming to be busily engaged in the endeavour to evolve a plan whereby
the admiral's difficulty might be overcome; but at length Jim, who had
been cogitating profoundly, with his head between his hands, looked up
and inquired whether Riveros happened to possess a chart of Callao
harbour.  As it happened there was one ready to hand; and a few seconds
later Douglas was poring over it by the light of the cabin lamp, with a
pencil and a pair of compasses in his hand.

Meanwhile several of the Chilian officers now began to propound schemes,
each of which was promising enough--up to a certain point, at which
somebody was certain to point out an insurmountable difficulty.  One
suggested a concerted attack by the entire Chilian squadron; but this
was manifestly impossible, in face of the enormously powerful guns which
the Peruvians could bring to bear.  Another put forward the suggestion
that an assault could be delivered in the rear of the town, by landing a
number of seamen and marines in Chorillos bay.  But Chorillos bay was
open to the full "run" of the Pacific Ocean, and upon nearly every day
throughout the year there was such a terrific surf on the beach that a
landing by means of small boats would be impossible.

Presently Jim looked up from the chart which he had been studying, and
remarked quietly:

"I think, sir, I can manage the business; but it will probably involve
the destruction of a torpedo-boat, her crew, and myself!  As regards
myself, I am perfectly willing to take the risk; but it is for you to
say whether you will spare the torpedo-boat, and I suppose it will be a
question of calling for volunteers if you should decide to allow me to
try my experiment."

"Let us hear what you have to propose, Senor Douglas," said the admiral,
"and we shall then be the better able to decide whether your scheme is
sufficiently promising to justify me in risking the loss of--or rather,
by your own showing, throwing away--a torpedo-boat and her entire crew.
Such a loss would of course be a small price to pay for the achievement
of our object; but you must convince me that there is at least a
possibility of success before I can consent to what you may have to
suggest."  Whereupon the young Englishman described in detail what he
purposed doing.

When he had finished Riveros sat back in his chair and stared fixedly at
the ceiling for some minutes while he drummed upon the table with his
fingers.  The other officers seated round the cabin seemed divided into
two parties, one party sunk in deep thought, while the other stared at
the young man as though he had taken leave of his senses.

Then presently Riveros brought his fist down upon the table with a
clatter that made everybody start.  "By Jove! young man," he exclaimed,
"you shall try your scheme; and if you are successful--of which,
however, I have very grave doubts, let me tell you--I believe I can
promise that there is nothing that Chili will not do for you.
_Caramba_! but it is a brilliant as well as a daring idea; what say you,
gentlemen?  Yes, Senor Douglas, you shall have the torpedo-boat
_Janequeo_, and with her everything that you require.  As for a crew, I
cannot _order_ men to go on such an expedition as you contemplate, but I
believe that if you call for volunteers you will get your complement.
At least, I hope so, for the honour of the Chilian navy.  Now when do
you propose to make your attempt?"

"Well, sir," replied Douglas, "I am afraid that I shall require all to-
night and all day to-morrow to prepare; but I have very little doubt
that I shall be able to make the attempt to-morrow night."

"Very well, then," said the admiral, rising; "I will not detain you any
longer, Senor Douglas; for, as you have hinted, you will have a good
many preparations to make, and the sooner you are able to carry out your
scheme the better."

Jim wished the admiral good-night, and retired to his own cabin to
snatch, if he could, a few hours' sleep, which might very possibly prove
to be the last he would ever take on earth.  He left orders with the
sentry that he was to be called at midnight; and accordingly at that
hour he turned out, washed and dressed, and then made his way to the
magazine, between which and his own cabin, with one or two intervals for
meals, he was busily engaged until four o'clock in the afternoon of the
next day; hearing all the time the thunder of the heavy guns rolling and
reverberating over his head; for during the last few days the _Blanco
Encalada_ had herself taken part in the bombardment.

As soon as he had finished his mysterious preparations in the magazine,
he went on deck and spoke a few words to the admiral.  The latter
listened, nodded once or twice, and then gave a certain order to the
yeoman of the signals.  A few minutes later a stream of brilliant-
coloured flags soared aloft into the now fast-gathering gloom; and it
would have taken a very sharp eye on shore to discern that the signal
was briefly answered by a man on board the _Janequeo_, who waved a small
yellow flag.

In another half-hour it had become too dark to continue the bombardment,
and the usual signal of recall was made from the flagship; in response
to which the furious cannonading ceased, and the ships drew away over to
San Lorenzo Island, where they always assembled prior to going to sea
for the night.  Then, with the flagship and the _Huascar_ leading the
double line, the fleet steamed away into the offing until they were
hidden from the sight of Callao behind San Lorenzo Island.  But here, in
response to a signal, the fleet anchored, thus departing from its usual
custom of cruising to and fro during the hours of darkness.

But even before the ships had lost their way prior to dropping their
anchors, the _Janequeo_ was seen to sheer out of her place in the line;
and presently she raced up alongside the _Blanco Encalada_, where she
came to a standstill.  The _Blanco's_ side-ladder was then lowered, and
Jim went down it on to the small craft's deck.  Then a number of seamen
took their places on the accommodation-ladder, one on every step, from
the top to the bottom, and a group of Chilians likewise formed up on the
_Janequeo's_ deck.

Then a man made his appearance at the _Blanco's_ gangway, carrying
something heavy, which he handled with quite exceptional care.  This
object he handed to the man at the top of the ladder, who passed it to
the next man, and so on until it reached the _Janequeo_, when it was
taken aboard and stowed away below with every sign of the utmost
precaution.  This process was repeated again and again, until a dozen of
the mysterious packages had been placed on board; when, in profound
silence, the torpedo-boat sped away from the flagship, to visit each of
the other craft of the squadron in turn; receiving two men from one,
half a dozen from another, and so on, until her complement was complete.
All her lights were then extinguished, and she slid off into the
darkness without a sound.  There was no cheering from the fleet, not
even so much as a shout of "Farewell!" but in his heart every man in
every ship silently wished success to the daring young Englishman and
his crew.  The _Janequeo_ was out of sight in half a minute; and when
she had vanished the squadron got under way once more, and continued its
usual nightly cruise on and off the port; while Admiral Riveros,
standing on the navigating bridge, strained his ears in an attempt to
catch the sounds which should tell him that Jim's effort had been
unsuccessful, and that he and his gallant crew were no more.



Douglas's plan was, indeed, a sufficiently daring one; for he had
resolved upon the accomplishment of no less a task than that of blowing
into the air every ship in the Peruvian fleet then lying at Callao; and
to do this he had been obliged to set to work on quite a new system.
The _Janequeo_ was constructed to carry only two spar-torpedoes, and
these, of themselves, were quite insufficient for Jim's purpose.  For
the ships would almost certainly be protected by booms to ward off
possible attacks by torpedo-boats; and, should he manage to approach
near enough, the young Englishman would need one torpedo to destroy the
boom, leaving him but one more with which to destroy the ship it had

But the destruction of a single ship was not sufficient; for to ensure
the subsequent success of the Chilian fleet it was imperative that _all_
should be destroyed.  The young man had therefore brought along his
spar-torpedoes for use if necessary; but he had also manufactured a
dozen large bombs which he meant to attach to the ships themselves,
afterwards exploding them by means of a time fuse.  By doing this he
hoped to be able to destroy the whole fleet practically simultaneously;
whereas by the spar method, even had he been able to carry a sufficient
number of torpedoes, he would have been obliged to destroy them one
after another; and of course, after the first explosion, the crews of
all the rest would be prepared for him.  He also had it in his mind to
use the two spars themselves as a bridge, should he find that the
vessels were protected by booms.  Thus, if he could but attach the bombs
undetected, he ought to be able to ensure the annihilation of the entire
Peruvian squadron.

But it was a terribly dangerous service that he had undertaken, for he
had on board the _Janequeo_ enough explosive to destroy twelve ships,
and if but one searching little machine-gun bullet were to strike her
cargo--well, there would be an end of Douglas, his crew, and the
torpedo-boat together.  However, neither he nor the brave fellows with
him gave much thought to the danger which they were themselves
incurring; their country needed them, and if it must be so, she should
have them.

Jim had calculated to the utmost nicety the time which he would probably
need in getting through his business, and he had cut each of his fuses
to such a length that the bombs should explode, as nearly as possible,
at the same instant.  If he received no check, and remained
undiscovered, well and good; but if he were delayed at all after
lighting the fuse, it would be very bad indeed for the _Janequeo_ and
her crew.

The wheel was in charge of an old quartermaster who knew Callao Bay as
intimately as he did Valparaiso harbour; and as Jim stood beside him in
the tiny shelter, watching him peer through the darkness and ever and
anon give the wheel a slight turn this way or that, he realised that he
had on board most of the elements which go to make up success.  Luck was
all that was wanting; and, as fortune is supposed to favour the brave,
Jim had high hopes of bringing his expedition to a successful issue.

Away through the blackness swept the little torpedo-boat, with not a
light showing anywhere on board her.  The men had even been forbidden to
smoke; and the stokers down below put coal on as carefully as though the
furnaces were a lady's drawing-room fire, so that there might be no
flicker of flame hovering over the top of the funnel, or even so much as
a spark to betray their whereabouts.  In a little less than half an hour
after leaving the _Blanco Encalada_ the _Janequeo_ sneaked round the
south-east corner of San Lorenzo Island, being very careful not to
collide with the big buoys which marked each Chilian vessel's moorings.
These passed, she slid in between San Lorenzo and Fronton, and entered
the Boqueron Passage, coming in sight of the small lighthouse which was,
strangely enough, still allowed to show its light at the back of the Dos
de Mayo battery.  Luckily for the daring little vessel searchlights had
not yet come into vogue, or she could scarcely have hoped to escape
discovery, for when she crossed the Camotal Bank, previous to turning to
starboard in order to run up Callao Bay, she was so close inshore that
her crew could plainly hear the shouts of the Peruvian soldiers who
occupied the Mayo battery, and who were evidently holding a high
carousal.  For this circumstance Jim thanked his lucky stars, for there
was the less likelihood of any men being on watch; while the noise they
were making would prevent them from hearing, as a careful listener might
have done, the throbbing of the _Janequeo's_ engines and the churning of
her propeller.

Just as they had rounded the point, however, and the boat had turned her
nose north-east, the bacchanalian sounds from the battery suddenly
ceased, and lights began to flicker among the earthworks.  Jim felt his
heart stand still, for discovery now would mean the utter ruin of his
project, to say nothing of the death of all of them; for a shot from one
of those enormous 20-inch guns would send the frail _Janequeo_ to the
bottom like a stone, if it chanced to hit her.  And evidently the
Peruvians in that particular battery had taken alarm at something; for a
tiny point of light appeared on the ramparts, and then quickly flared up
into a bright blaze.  A beacon-fire had been lighted, and at any moment
now its glare might reveal the presence of the torpedo-boat to the

Jim immediately passed the word down to the engine-room for all the
steam she could carry, and the little vessel's speed at once increased
by a knot or two.  They were nearly in safety now, being about five
hundred yards beyond the point, and a few minutes more would take them
under the shadow of the higher ground upon which the Pierola battery was
placed, when the glare from the beacon would be unable to reach them.
But Jim's great fear now was lest the other batteries also might take
the alarm and light their beacons; in which case he could not possibly
escape discovery.

By a happy chance, however, the _Janequeo_ glided into the deep shadow,
unobserved; and Jim now ordered the speed to be reduced so that the boat
should not make so much "fuss" in going through the water, when she
stole along at a speed of about ten knots, fifteen being her maximum, of
which she was quite capable, as she was a perfectly new boat.  The men
in Pierola, being half a mile away from the Mayo battery, had evidently
not noticed the beacon light, nor were their suspicions aroused, for all
was perfectly quiet as the _Janequeo_ crept safely past, with not a
light gleaming anywhere in the battery to show that anybody was awake.
This battery and the two lying next to it, to the north, had, as it
happened, borne the brunt of the fighting that day, and presumably the
men were overcome by fatigue.  Next, the Torre del Merced and Fort Santa
Rosa were safely passed, and the lights of Callao itself swung in sight;
the railway station, which lay close to the waterside, was particularly
brilliantly lighted, while the sounds proceeding therefrom seemed to
indicate that troops were either arriving at, or were being dispatched
from, the place.

They were now only about a quarter of a mile from the southern end of
the mole, and Douglas passed the word round for his crew to hold
themselves in readiness, although the entrance to the harbour where the
ships were lying was still half a mile distant, the mole being nearly
five hundred yards in length.  The queer-shaped bombs were then got up
on deck, and Jim busied himself upon the task of attaching the fuses to
them.  He was obliged to work by the sense of touch alone, as he dared
not, of course, use a light of any description.  By the time that he had
finished his preparations the _Janequeo_ had almost reached the northern
end of the mole, and the moment was at hand for the great attempt to be
made.  Douglas now lessened speed still further, for he did not quite
know what shape the defences to the harbour would take.  He anticipated
that there would almost certainly be a number of floating mines to pass
through; and it was more than likely that a patrol of the place might be
maintained by launches steaming with their lights out.

A few minutes later the adventurers arrived abreast the northern end of
the mole, and were made aware of the fact by a slight diminution of the
pitchy blackness caused by the wall of the mole being left on their
starboard quarter.  The light on the pierhead was, of course,
extinguished while hostilities were in progress; for the Peruvians were
much too sensible to leave any beacon by which an enemy might easily
make the mouth of the harbour.  Jim could now see the forest of spars
belonging to the ships which he had come to destroy outlined against the
luminous haze formed by the lights of the town, although his own little
craft was shrouded in dense blackness; and he ordered the man at the
wheel to port his helm a few spokes, upon which the _Janequeo_ turned
gradually to starboard until she came abreast of the harbour entrance,
which was only about two hundred feet in width.  He then stopped his
engines altogether, and, when the torpedo-boat had come to a standstill,
he proceeded to listen with all intentness for suspicious sounds.  But
everything was as still as the grave, and Douglas began to hug to
himself the conviction that events seemed to be turning out fortunately.
He could hear no sounds aboard the Peruvian warships; and there was no
sign of any patrol launches being about.  Having, therefore, taken all
the precautions in his power, he started his engines once more and went
ahead, dead slow, turning to starboard until the _Janequeo's_ bows
pointed straight for the harbour entrance.  Nearer and nearer she stole,
while her crew waited in readiness for action, every muscle tense and
quivering with anticipation and excitement.  The bombs had been ranged
in two lines of six each, one on the port and one on the starboard side,
so that there would be no need to carry them far, whichever side the
torpedo-boat presented to the enemy.

She was gliding through the water at a speed of about five knots when,
suddenly, there was a slight grating sound, the _Janequeo's_ bows lifted
out of the water, and the boat came to a dead stop, with her screw still
slowly churning up the water astern.  The shock caused some of the men
on deck to lose their footing, and the whole row of bombs on the port
side splashed overboard as the _Janequeo_ heeled in that direction.  In
a second Jim was on his feet and, rushing to the engine-room, bade the
man in charge to stop his engines.  Then he dashed on deck again, half
expecting to hear the crash of guns opening fire upon him, while he
listened intently in order to ascertain whether his presence had been
betrayed by the disturbance.

There was no sound of alarm, however; and Douglas presently realised
that, strange as it appeared, the _Janequeo_ was still undiscovered.
Then, silently, he and his men set about the task of discovering what
had caused the obstruction, and they were not long in finding that a
stout chain had been stretched across the entrance evidently to prevent
just such an attack as this, and that the _Janequeo_ had run in upon
this chain where it "sagged" in the middle, her momentum carrying her
right up on to it, for her fore-foot was nearly out of the water.  Thus
they were in a particularly perilous predicament, for if they were
discovered now no power on earth could save them; but Jim was thankful
beyond measure that he had not been running in at full speed, otherwise
the _Janequeo_ would most certainly have broken her back and sunk on the
instant.  The loss of half the bombs was very serious too, but he still
had six of them left, and if he could sink a ship with each he would not
have done so badly on the whole.

The question now, however, was, how were they going to get clear of the
chain, and, once clear, how were they going to surmount the obstacle and
get into the harbour?  But, "one thing at a time," thought Douglas.  Let
them get off the chain first of all; and that without breaking the
torpedo-boat in half or alarming the enemy.  He listened again intently
for any sound which would indicate that the Peruvians were stirring, and
then, hearing nothing, he sent his engines astern at full speed, with
the concentrated energy of a quarter of an hour's pent-up steam.  The
water frothed and boiled under the boat's counter, making, in the
intense stillness of the night, such a disturbance that Jim thought it
must be heard all over the town; but, although the boat rocked from side
to side under the strain, grinding her keel and bilges against the
chain, she remained immovably fixed; and Jim ordered the engines to be
stopped, feeling that so violent a disturbance of the water must
speedily lead to their detection.

Douglas's face became drawn, and his eyes took on a very strained look,
as he realised what it would mean if he could not get the _Janequeo_
off; the Peruvians would give very short shrift to a body of men who had
been caught in the attempt to torpedo their fleet.  Moreover, he had
heard certain gruesome stories from the Chilian seamen to the effect
that some of the half-caste troops which the Peruvians had with them
were rather addicted to the pastime of torturing any prisoners who might
be unlucky enough to fall into their hands--a relic, undoubtedly, of the
customs of their Indian ancestors.

After the engines had been stopped, Jim called a hasty council of the
crew, consulting with them as to what was best to be done.  They could
not possibly force the boat over the chain, because, even were the
engines powerful enough, the _Janequeo_ would break her back in the

"If only we had a couple of good strong files we might manage even yet,"
whispered Douglas, leaning over the side and feeling at the chain.  "The
links are not more than half an inch thick, and we could soon cut them.
Does anybody know whether there are any good stout files aboard?"

As he ceased speaking a man dived down through the tiny engine-room
hatch, and presently reappeared, bearing in his hands two large files.

"We have these, senor," he whispered excitedly to Jim; "they were
brought on board this morning from the _Blanco_, when I was doing some
repairs to the engines, and I forgot to take them back before we
started.  How will they do?"

Douglas eagerly seized the tools and ran his thumb along the edges.
They were very rough and coarse, being hardly worn at all, and were just
what was wanted for the purpose.  Given sufficient time, and immunity
from detection, the work of getting clear of the chain by filing it
through would be easy.

"That's the very thing, El Lobo," ejaculated Douglas in a low voice.
"Now, start on the job at once.  Let one man cut the upper side of the
link, and one the lower, and we shall be free in next to no time.  Who
will take first spell with me?"

Every man silently held out his hand for the other file, and Jim
selected a fellow of herculean proportions to take first turn with him.
In a few seconds the low rasping sound of the rapidly moving files broke
the stillness of the night, and seemed preternaturally loud by
comparison with that stillness.  The remaining members of the crew
concentrated all their powers in the act of listening, so that they
might give instant warning to the workers, should the noise appear to
attract any attention from the shore.

Jim and his fellow-labourer were soon bathed in sweat, while Douglas's
hands, unaccustomed to such toil, grew red and raw and blistered under
the friction; for the files, as is quite usual in engineering
departments, were unprovided with wooden handles over the rat-tail
shank.  Moreover, the task threatened to be long and difficult, in
consequence of the awkwardness of the conditions.  Jim's spell of work
came to an end after a quarter of an hour, however, and another couple
of men took their places at the chain.  But they had not been working
more than five minutes when there was a heavy splash, followed by a cry
of disappointment from both men.

It appeared that, while working, the two files had suddenly met in the
middle of a stroke, with the result that one of them had been knocked
out of its user's hand and had gone overboard.  This was a serious loss,
indeed, and one that might cost the whole of them their lives; but, as
Jim said, it was no use crying over spilt milk, the file was gone, and
there was an end of it.  The other man must work doubly hard, that was
all.  Meanwhile, he went down into the engine-room and prowled round to
see whether, by some lucky chance, there might not be another file lying
about.  He was successful in finding a small one, but it was very much
worn, and not likely to be of much use; nevertheless, in the hands of a
strong man it might still be made to cut a little.  He immediately took
it up on deck and gave it to one of the crew.  To his great relief, he
found that one part of the chain was nearly severed.  By the time that
it was entirely cut through, the lower part of the link was half-
severed; and then it was but a short job to completely cut it with the
large file.

At length it was done.  There was a final rasp of the file, a little
snapping noise, a sudden splash as the chain fell into two halves and
disappeared below the surface, and the _Janequeo_ dropped back in the
water with a loud "squelching" noise.

But they were free!  Free at last; though every man on board was
trembling like a leaf in the wind under the stress that they had
undergone.  There was no time for delay, however.  Many precious minutes
had been lost, and there were all too few left in which to complete the
work that had to be done.  Jim passed the word once more for steam for
five knots, the screw began to revolve, and the _Janequeo_ stole forward
again on her errand of destruction.  Jim feared that there might be a
second chain across the harbour, a little higher up, but the Peruvians
had evidently considered the single barrier sufficient, for there were
no more booms.

Now he could see the towering spars of two school hulks, and in a few
minutes he passed slowly and silently by them, but without stopping.
They were old and practically worthless hulks; he would destroy them
after he had annihilated the ironclad monsters which were capable of
doing efficient work.

With carelessness that amounted to fatuity there seemed to be no watch
kept on board the ships, and there were no lights visible.  All was as
still and silent as the grave.  The _Union_ was the next craft in line;
she was a gunboat, and had already shewn herself capable of stinging
pretty severely, but he promised himself to attend to her on the return
journey, and pushed on still farther up the harbour.  The ships were
apparently all lying on the _Janequeo's_ port side, so it became
necessary to shift the bombs over.  By the time that this was done Jim
saw a dark, shapeless mass looming up in front of him, crowned by one
short, squat funnel and one mast; and he knew that he was approaching
either the _Atahualpa_ or the _Manco Capac_, the two monitors which had
done so much damage to the Chilian fleet.

Here at last was a foe worthy of attention, and Jim stopped his engines
altogether, allowing the _Janequeo_ to slide along through the water by
her own momentum.  It was a fortunate thing that he did so, for when the
torpedo-boat was within twenty feet of the monitor she suddenly collided
with a floating wooden boom which had been placed round the ironclad.
The impact was very slight, however, and Jim presently had his little
craft securely moored alongside.  He then got overboard on to the boom,
with half a dozen men, and, carrying the bomb gingerly in his arms, and
followed by his men bearing one of the torpedo-spars, made his way round
to that portion of the timber which floated opposite the ironclad's
stern.  Jim meant to affix his torpedo to the ship's stern-post, so
that, if it did not actually sink her, it might at least blow away both
rudder and propeller, and so render the ship useless.

Arrived at the stern, he saw that she was his old enemy, the _Manco
Capac_, and he at once set to work.  The men laid the spar down on the
boom and pushed it out until one end was touching the _Manco Capac's_
stern-post, the other remaining on the boom.  They then lashed the boom-
end securely, and Jim, having slung the bomb round his shoulders,
started to crawl out along the spar, while the Chilians sat on the other
end to make it still more steady.

It would have been a perilous enough journey at any time, but in the
dark and with a heavy weight slung round the shoulders it was trebly
difficult.  Furthermore, the place fairly swarmed with sharks, and
Douglas knew what his fate would be should he lose his hold and fall
into the water, even if he did not happen to be dragged to the bottom at
once by the weight round his neck.  Several times his knees or his hands
slipped, making the spar quiver ominously, but, fortunately, he retained
his hold on the pole, and at last, after many a narrow escape, arrived
under the ironclad's overhanging counter.

Here the worst part of his task was over, for he could now support
himself by clinging to the rudder, and he soon found a large nut, close
to the water's edge, from which he could suspend the deadly torpedo.  He
quickly unslung it from round his shoulders, and presently had it lashed
firmly in position against the curve of the _Manco Capac's_ counter, the
lower edge of the bomb being just about a couple of inches clear of the
water.  He then fixed the fuse alongside the rudder-post, and after
listening to hear whether any one was about, he struck a match and
applied it to the loose end.

This being the first torpedo, he had cut a length of fuse to burn for
two hours, so that he would have time to do all his work and get away
before the first explosion occurred, but when the fuse was lighted it
seemed to fizz away with alarming rapidity, and Jim was so startled that
he nearly fell into the water.

"That fuse will never burn for two hours," he told himself; "there must
be something wrong with it, for at that rate it will not last thirty
minutes."  He therefore made his second journey along the pole at the
best speed of which he was capable, and in a couple of minutes was
standing on the boom once more.  The seven of them made short work of
unlashing the spar and getting it back to the torpedo-boat, and the
_Janequeo_ was soon under way again and stealing up the harbour once

The _Atahualpa_ was the next ship they came to, and to their unbounded
satisfaction they found that she was unprotected by a boom.  The
Peruvians probably thought that a hostile craft would never get so far
without being discovered.  The _Janequeo_ was therefore run right under
her stem, and the torpedo was affixed without any difficulty, a fuse
timed for an hour and a half being lighted.  This fuse, too, Jim
noticed, seemed to be burning away much faster than it ought, but there
was no time to watch it, and the torpedo-boat swung off once more on her
mission of destruction.

These two craft were, with the exception, perhaps, of the _Union_, which
was a fast ship, the most formidable in the Peruvian fleet, and Jim
experienced a thrill of satisfaction at the thought that the _Manco
Capac_ and _Atahualpa_ would, at any rate, not trouble the Chilians
again.  There was another ship lying close at hand, which Douglas judged
to be the fast transport _Oroya_, because of her paddle wheels, and he
made up his mind to attend to her before running back to blow up the
_Union_.  He selected her paddle-box as the best place to which to
attach the torpedo, and as she, too, was unprotected by any boom, he
soon had the bomb fixed in position and the fuse lighted.

"Now, men," he whispered excitedly to his delighted crew, "we will run
down and attend to the only other ship of theirs which is of any use--
the _Union_.  Hard over with your helm, quartermaster, and we will get
down the harbour again."

The wheel spun round in Pedro's sinewy grasp, and the _Janequeo's_ nose
was presently pointing down the harbour.

"Full speed ahead," Douglas whispered down the tube, "we haven't much
time to lose."  And the little engines began to throb more rapidly,
while the screw thrashed the water up astern.  They soon passed the
_Atahualpa_ again, and Jim could plainly make out the jumping sparks
which came from the fuse and hissed into the water, but the sight was
hidden from any one up above by the overhang of the ship's counter, and
he felt fairly certain that it could not possibly be discovered before
the bomb had exploded and done its deadly work.  As they slipped past
the doomed monitor Douglas's eye suddenly caught sight of a dark figure
with a rifle over its shoulder silhouetted against the luminous haze
thrown off by the lights of Callao, and his heart gave a great bound,
for the figure had not been there when the torpedo-boat passed up, and
she could now hardly hope to avoid detection.

Jim's fears were only too well founded, for the sentry saw the
_Janequeo_ as quickly as Jim saw the sentry, and in a second the fellow
roared a hoarse challenge across the water, discharging his rifle at the
boat as she swept past, without waiting for any reply.  And indeed there
was no need for him to expect an answer to his hail, for he knew that no
boat ought to be cruising about there if she were a Peruvian; while, if
she were a Chilian--

The rifle-shot was the signal for an immediate uproar; it seemed as
though every man must have been asleep at his post, for the
_Atahualpa's_ decks suddenly became literally alive with figures, and
rifles began to flash about her in scores, while the bullets pattered
round and into the torpedo-boat with most unpleasant accuracy of aim.

"There is no time to destroy the _Union_ now," hissed Douglas between
his teeth; "we shall have to be satisfied with what we have already
done, and, _caramba_! we shall be fortunate if we get away with whole
skins.  Look out, all people with thin skulls; the _Manco's_ people are
training her big guns on us!  Full speed ahead, below there," he roared,
there being no more need now for secrecy; "give her all the steam she
can carry, or they will have us for certain."

The screw was already turning at its utmost speed, however, and not
another knot could be got out of the flying little steamer; indeed, she
was already doing sixteen, or one knot more than they had any right to
expect.  Just as Jim spoke, a red rocket leaped up into the still night
air with a whistling roar, bursting high up in the sky with a shower of
brilliant red stars.

"A signal to the patrols in the bay!" cried Jim; and at the same moment
the huge 15-inch gun on board the _Manco Capac_ roared out its vengeful
message.  "We shall have to hurry to get clear now, and no mistake."

The flash of the great gun, fired at such close quarters, nearly blinded
the _Janequeo's_ crew, while they were dazed by the hurtling roar of the
shell as it sped past, a few feet only above their heads.  But the
torpedo-boat was now moving very rapidly, and the _Manco's_ crew would
not be able to load and fire their stern gun again before she was out of
its range; but there was still her bow gun to be feared, and the
gauntlet of the _Union_ and the two school hulks had to be run before
they could get clear.  It looked as if the _Janequeo_ was in for a bad
ten minutes; for, after the alarm had been given, it seemed as though
every ship in the harbour had lighted her beacon-fire; and Jim could
see, by the glare of those which had sprung up aboard the _Union_ and
her consorts, that guns, both big and small, had been run out ready to
fire into the intruder as she passed; while every vessel's side was
literally black with riflemen, all waiting to pour a volley into the
daring _Janequeo_.

Douglas had almost forgotten, in the prevailing excitement, the fact
that torpedoes had been attached to three Peruvian vessels, and, in any
case, he did not expect them to explode for at least an hour; when, just
as the _Janequeo_ had got about fifty yards past the _Manco Capac_,
there was a most appalling explosion from the stern of the latter craft;
and Jim, turning round, saw that the air was full of blazing fragments
of wreckage, and that, even as he gazed, the great monitor was beginning
to settle by the stern.  At the moment when the mine exploded, the
monitor was just about to fire her 15-inch bow gun; but the catastrophe
of course threw everything into confusion, and the weapon, flung from
its trunnions in the very act of firing, discharged its deadly missile
high into the air, where it exploded, sending out a blaze of flame like
a miniature firework display.

"One of them done for, at any rate!" soliloquised Jim through his set
teeth, as he bent over the deck-telegraph of the flying boat to ring for
yet more speed.  "But now they will surely find the other torpedoes and
cut them adrift before they have time to explode.  Confound those fuses!
The wretched things must have perished badly, or perhaps they have been
wrongly timed in the manufactory."

The young man had no opportunity, however, for further reflection, for
they were now dashing along toward the _Union_ and the other two ships;
and after the first shock of terror at the destruction of the monitor,
the Peruvians had returned to the guns, and were quite ready to send the
_Janequeo_ to the bottom.

"God help us!" murmured the young Englishman; "we shall never get
through that tempest of fire; but I am going to try!"

Nearer and nearer they swept, until the torpedo-boat was only a hundred
yards away, and then the _Union_ fired her first gun, a large 8-inch
rifled weapon, loaded with a shell which screamed horridly as it swept
past and plunged into the water just astern.  The riflemen raised their
pieces, levelled them over the corvette's high sides, and, at the word
of command, which all aboard the torpedo-boat could hear, they sent
their volleys hurtling aboard that devoted craft.  Jim felt a sharp
twinge in his left shoulder, and knew that he was hit; two other men
fell to the deck, limp as empty suits of clothes.  The _Janequeo_ was
now abreast the _Union_, and, as she drew level, the latter ship
discharged every gun that she could bring to bear.

It was simply impossible that she could miss.  There was a ripping and
tearing of iron as the shower of steel struck the torpedo-boat.  Both
her funnels were blown completely out of her, and the hissing roar of
escaping steam, followed by the screams of the scalded stokers down
below, told all too plainly that a boiler had been pierced.  The
quartermaster at the wheel let go the spokes and collapsed on deck, and
Jim staggered to the helm just in time to prevent the _Janequeo_ from
crashing into the mole.  Then, still floating, and with smoke, steam,
and flame billowing along her decks and blinding her gallant skipper,
the maimed little vessel staggered forward.  But escape was not for her.
The _Union_ had a smart man for captain, and he did not intend the
little Chilian hornet to go clear.  The forward 8-inch gun bellowed out,
and its shell struck the Chilian fair and square on her stern, exploding
as it passed into her hull, and literally blowing the after-part of her

Her stern plunged downward; she rolled heavily once or twice, and then
turned right over, throwing Jim, in a state of semi-unconsciousness,
into the water of the harbour.  Then she sank, and the bottom blew out
of her as she plunged beneath the surface.  At this precise moment, to
Jim's fast-failing senses there came the roar of a terrific explosion,
followed almost instantly by a second, and he knew that, though his own
ship was lost, he had done his duty and succeeded in destroying three of
the enemy.

Just as he was on the point of sinking, however, for the last time, a
hand shot out, grasped his collar, and hauled him roughly into a boat,
while a voice growled out in Spanish, "This is the only one afloat,
senor; the rest are down among the sharks, who will not go hungry to-
night."  Then darkness closed down over Jim's senses, though not before
he had realised that he was a prisoner in the hands of his enemies, the



When Jim recovered consciousness, it was to find himself in a small dark
cell, whether on board a ship or on land he could not tell, for there
was no window in his prison, and there was not a particle of that motion
which he knew there would have been had he been at sea; but he presently
came to the conclusion that he must be in one of the "punishment cells"
aboard some ship lying in the harbour, for he thought that, now and
again, he could hear the faint plash and gurgle of water close at hand,
a sound similar to that which he had often heard when down about the
bilges of the _Blanco Encalada_, far below the water-line.  He also very
soon realised that, in addition to being in prison, he had chains upon
his legs, and further, that those chains were fastened to a ring, or
staple, set into the wall of the chamber.  The poor lad was consumed by
a raging thirst, too; while the wound in his shoulder, inflicted either
by a bullet or a piece of flying shell, was occasioning him very great
pain.  If he only had a light, he reflected, things would not be quite
so bad, and he rummaged among his pockets in the endeavour to find a box
of matches which he knew had been in his pocket when he was thrown
overboard off the _Janequeo_.  They were in a tin box, so that it was
just possible that the water would not have had time to get to them
during the short period of his immersion; and, in any case, as his
clothing was very nearly dry again, it was more than likely that the
matches would be the same.

After trying several pockets, and discovering that they had already been
gone through, and that all articles of any value, including his watch
and chain, had been taken from him, he found the box for which he was
searching in the hip-pocket of his trousers; and, to his great delight,
the wet had not reached its contents.  He therefore struck a light, and
the first thing his eyes rested upon was a large pitcher of water, and a
plate containing a piece of black bread and several slices of pemmican
or dried meat.  These had been placed close beside him, and he was
thankful that he had not accidentally capsized the water-jug in the
darkness.  He seized and drank at it eagerly, and when he had half-
finished the contents he discovered that he was famished with hunger.
He therefore struck another match and, by its light, possessed himself
of the food, which he proceeded to devour ravenously, and finished off
the entire supply before his hunger was satisfied.  Having made a good
meal, he felt very much better, and then by the light of a tiny fire,
made of match-stalks, scraps of straw, and similar odds and ends, he
managed, with some difficulty, to strip off his coat and shirt, and to
attend, in some small degree, to the wound in his shoulder.

It presented a somewhat inflamed appearance, so he improvised a pad and
bandage by tearing strips off his shirt.  These he soaked in the
precious remainder of his drinking water and wrapped them round the
injured part, binding the whole tightly in place with a strip of linen
wound right round his body.  This having been done, he felt so much more
comfortable that he began to think a little natural sleep would do him
no harm, and he accordingly composed himself to slumber upon the heap of
straw which had been thrown down in one corner of the cell.

How long, he wondered, had he been in this miserable hole?  It must
certainly have been a good many hours, or he would not have felt so
intensely hungry and thirsty; and he also wondered in what ship, if any,
he was, and how the Peruvians would treat the man who had blown up three
of their finest ships, leaving them only the bare skeleton of a navy.

He did not think very long, however; for he was fatigued to the point of
exhaustion, and soon sank into a state of complete oblivion.  How long
he had slept he could not tell, but he was awakened by the noise of a
door opening, and the shining of a bright light full upon his face.
Before he could fully collect his faculties the bearer of the lamp, a
burly Peruvian seaman with the name _Union_ on the front of his cap,
bade him in a rough tone of voice stand up, at the same time producing a
key from among a number which hung at his belt and unlocking the young
Englishman's irons.  As they fell away from his limbs Jim heaved a sigh
of relief, which the seaman heard; and hearing, remarked: "You need not
be so glad to get them off, you young whipper-snapper; you will be free
for only a few minutes, while the captain sees you, and after he has
done with you, you will probably be shot--or worse!  So you need not
look so pleased."

Needless to say, after the communication of this item of information Jim
did not feel exactly jubilant; but the fellow, he considered, might only
have been speaking thus to vent his ill-will; and in any case Jim was
not going to let him see that what he had said affected him in the
least.  He therefore merely answered: "We shall see what we shall see;
fate is fate, and nobody can alter that."

The fellow made no reply in words, but, uttering a raucous laugh, bade
Jim precede him out of the cell, and mind that he played no tricks or he
would get a bullet through him.  Then the seaman locked the door,
pocketed the key, and placing his rifle with its fixed bayonet at the
"charge," ordered the prisoner to walk on in front, which Jim did;
keeping his eyes very wide open, meanwhile, so as to make a note of the
position of the cell and its surroundings for possible use on some
future occasion.

They first passed along a passage flanked with other cells, similar to
Jim's, that in which he had been confined being the last of a row, and
then they came to an iron-studded door, which the prisoner was commanded
to open.  It opened at his touch, and the Englishman and his guard
passed through it, finding themselves immediately upon the _Union's_
lower deck.  As the Peruvian marine guided Jim through the ship, with
the point of his fixed bayonet, the young Englishman took the
opportunity to satisfy his curiosity regarding this famous craft--a
curiosity which was perfectly natural in view of the fact that he had
himself fought an action with her, and chased her while he was in the
_Angamos_.  He smiled as his eyes fell upon one of the beams supporting
the main deck, for in it were embedded several pieces of shell which the
Peruvians had not seen fit to remove; and he knew that they were the
fragments of a missile, fired by his own cruiser, which had entered one
of the _Union's_ open gun-ports that day of the battle in the Second

But his examination of the interior of the corvette was necessarily only
a very cursory one, for he was hurried forward by a prod from the
sentry's bayonet whenever he showed a disposition to loiter.  They
presently mounted a ladder leading from the lower to the main deck,
walked along the latter toward the stern, and presently Jim found
himself outside the door of a cabin in the extreme after-end of the
ship, which he shrewdly surmised belonged to the skipper.

The sentry then grounded his rifle, knocked upon the door, opened it
slightly, and announced in gruff tones: "The prisoner, sir!"

There was a short pause, broken only by the rustling of papers, and then
a low, carefully modulated voice replied: "Bring the fellow in, then,
sentry"; and Jim was ushered into the presence of Captain Villavicencio,
the famous captain of the Peruvian corvette.

Entering, Douglas found himself in a large and airy cabin, situated in
the extreme after-end of the ship, opening on to a narrow gallery
running round the stern of the ship, from quarter to quarter.  Two tall
and narrow doors which gave exit on to this gallery, and which now stood
open, disclosed a view of Callao harbour, with the water shimmering in
the rays of the newly risen sun, for it was early morning.  In the
centre of the cabin, which was most luxuriously furnished, stood a
magnificent mahogany writing-table, at which sat the man whose name was
still ringing through a whole continent.  He was an extremely handsome
individual, and his enormous proportions were well set off by the dark
blue and gold of his naval uniform.  He had jet-black curly hair, and a
short, pointed beard; while the dark eyes which looked out from beneath
thick, overhanging brows, seemed to pierce through and through the
individual toward whom his glance was directed.  Jim saw at once that
this was a man among a thousand, one who would make a name for himself,
and come to the front in spite of all opposition.  But there was a
certain subtle something about the Peruvian which inspired in the young
man a feeling almost akin to terror.  The eyes, for instance, had a
distinctly tigerish look about them, and the man's whole personality was
strongly suggestive of a feline nature.  Those deep-set dark eyes, Jim
knew instinctively, could, at times, flash forth lightnings deadly in
their intensity; while that low, purring voice could also take on a note
of such deadly menace as would make the hearer's blood curdle.  The
steel-pointed claw beneath the velvet glove was all too apparent to the
young Englishman, and he looked forward to the coming interview with
feelings that were anything but pleasant.  He felt as though he were in
the power of some gigantic cat which might play with him until it was
tired of that amusement, and would then turn and rend him.  No wonder,
he thought to himself, that the Chilians feared this man, and spared no
pains in their endeavours to destroy him and his ship.

In response to a wave of Villavicencio's hand, Jim took up a position on
the side of the table opposite to that occupied by the skipper, while
the sentry posted himself close alongside the prisoner.  Then the
Peruvian busied himself with some papers for a few minutes, apparently
oblivious of Jim's presence.  At length, having found that for which he
was searching, he glanced up, and his gaze flickered over Jim like
summer lightning, inspiring in the young man so strong a feeling of
repulsion that it almost amounted to nausea.  There was something
horribly magnetic in the look, and Jim felt that this man possessed some
strange occult power which was lacking in most human beings.

After looking at the young man for a few seconds, Villavicencio turned
to the sentry and remarked, "I shall not need your presence, I think,
Jacinto.  You may leave the room, but post yourself outside my cabin
door, and see that we are not interrupted."

The sentry gravely presented arms, and walked out of the cabin, closing
the door softly behind him.  When he had gone the skipper took up a
blank sheet of paper and a pencil, wrote down a few lines on the paper,
and then looking at his prisoner, said in a low, purring tone--

"You are the young Chilian naval officer who was in charge of the
torpedo-boat which destroyed three of our ships the night before last,
are you not?"

Jim replied that he was.

"Well," resumed Villavicencio, "you will be sorry, I am sure, to hear
that all your comrades were drowned when the _Janequeo_--that was the
name of the boat, I believe--went down.  You are the sole survivor.  By
the way, how many men had you with you?"

"There were eighteen of us altogether," replied Douglas.

The skipper made a brief note on the paper before him and then remarked
softly, "H'm, it is a pity that they were all drowned.  I should have
much liked to have saved a few more of them."

Although there was absolutely no fault to be found with the sentiment
expressed by the captain, Jim felt instinctively that the words
possessed a double meaning, and he shivered in spite of the heat of the
morning, which was already becoming excessive.

"What is your name, young man?" was the next question, and upon Jim
answering, his reply was noted down by his interrogator upon the paper
before him.  Just as he had finished writing a thought seemed to strike
him suddenly and he looked up quickly from the sheet.

"Were you ever on board the Chilian cruiser _Angamos_?" he inquired,
still in the same low and even tones, but with a curious new thrill in
his voice.

"Yes," replied Jim, looking him straight in the face, "I had the honour
to command that ship upon the occasion when she encountered the _Union_
in the Straits of Magellan.  If I remember rightly, the _Union_ did not
stay to finish our little encounter."

"Ah-h-h," breathed Villavicencio, through his teeth, "so you _were_ the
man in command of the cruiser.  I thought you might be when I heard your
name, but you struck me as being rather young for the post.  By the way,
how old are you?"

Jim told him, not without a certain curious sinking sensation about his

"So young as that?  Dear me, dear me! it certainly _does_ seem a pity,
but it cannot be helped," said the captain.  "Your name does not sound
like a Chilian one, however.  Of what nationality are you, if I may

"I am an Englishman," replied Jim, "and proud of the fact," he
immediately added.

Villavicencio appeared to be sunk in thought for a few seconds, during
which he ejaculated "_Caramba_!" and "_Carrajo_!" several times.  The
last item of information seemed to be both unexpected and unpleasant.
Presently, however, he muttered to himself, "Well, I don't suppose it
matters very much.  People are liable to accidents here as well as
elsewhere, and if inquiries should be made I can easily plead ignorance.
Only, I shall have to alter the method of it.  My first idea _might_
possibly attract too much attention.  However--I shall see."  Aloud, he
went on, "Have you any relations in this part of the world, Senor

Inconsequent as the question appeared to be, Jim felt an uncanny, creepy
sensation about the roots of his hair, but his voice did not shake as he
replied, "No, I have no relations either in Chili or in any other part
of the world.  I am absolutely alone."

Villavicencio's face at once brightened, and he rubbed his hands,
remarking, "Ah! then so much the better, Senor Douglas, for in that case
they will not miss you."  Then his whole appearance changed, and his
voice dropped to a harsh, hissing note as he resumed, "It is a great
pity, though, that you are an Englishman, and so well known in the
Chilian navy, for that fact prevents me from dealing as I had intended
with the miscreant who destroyed two of our ships and seriously damaged
a third.  But though I cannot punish you as I should have liked, I can
and _will_ have you shot, and that immediately, on the deck of my ship,
the _Union_, the vessel which, you so pleasantly remarked just now, ran
away from your cruiser and her consort in the Straits."

"But," exclaimed Douglas, in astonishment, "I am a prisoner of war, and
I demand to be treated as such.  I have done nothing but my duty,
nothing to merit death at your hands; and even if I had, I have yet to
learn that one man only, even though he be the captain of a corvette,
can sit in judgment upon a prisoner and sentence him to death.  I am at
least entitled to a proper court-martial, if I am to be tried for my

Villavicencio laughed.  "What you say, my dear young man, is no doubt
technically correct; but _here_ might is right, and I will deal with you
as I please, as you shall very soon see.  Sentry!" he called, suddenly
raising his voice and smiling evilly into Jim's face.

For a brief moment Douglas was on the point of leaping across the table
and endeavouring to strangle the Peruvian where he sat, and neither the
man's sword at his side nor his huge proportions would have intimidated
him, but there was that curious look in Villavicencio's eyes which
seemed to hypnotise and chain poor Jim to the spot on which he stood.
The next second the sentry entered, and it was too late to think about

"Sentry," said the skipper, "take the prisoner back to his cell, and see
that he does not attempt to escape on the way; he looks desperate.  When
you have locked him up in safety, send Lieutenant Rodriguez to me at

Like a man in a dream, Jim marched to the door, scarcely hearing the
skipper's sauve voice remarking: "_Hasta la vista, Senor Douglas_; I
will not say _adios_, for we shall meet again--once more."

The cabin door then closed, and Jim was conducted back to his cell,
followed by the curious glances of the men who were assembled about the
decks.  Once back in his prison, he seemed able to think more
connectedly, and he began to wonder whether or not there might be some
means of escape from this semi-human creature's clutches.  He had done
absolutely nothing to merit this threatened summary execution, and he
felt convinced that his sentence was simply due to the skipper's own
desire for personal vengeance on the man who had made him turn and fly
upon that memorable day at the Second Narrows.  If it really was so,
there was nothing to be hoped, Jim felt, from the man's clemency; for he
clearly knew no more of the meaning of the word "mercy" than does an
untamed tiger.

Thus thinking, Douglas fell into a deep and gloomy reverie, from which
he was aroused by the sounds of footsteps clattering about above his
head, accompanied by the occasional clank of arms, and several short,
crisp words of command.  It sounded as though a body of men had been
formed up on the deck above him, and had then been marched off to some
other place.  In a moment the horrible truth struck him; it was the
firing-party which had been told off for his own execution!

That he was right was proved by the fact that he almost immediately
afterwards heard footsteps approaching the door and echoing along the
passage.  There was a rattle of keys, and he was confronted, this time,
by two armed seamen, who roughly bade him get on his feet and accompany
them.  The poor lad was too thunderstruck to move for a few moments, so
one of the men prodded him roughly with his bayonet, and again bade him
rise.  Jim then got on his legs, with the blood streaming from the
thrust which had been inflicted in his thigh, and between the two guards
he again made his way to the main deck.  This time, however, he was not
taken so far aft as before, but was conducted up the main companion
stairs on to the upper deck.

Having arrived there, the intense light from the brilliant sun nearly
blinded him after his imprisonment in the pitchy blackness of his cell;
but as soon as he could see clearly he at once perceived, drawn up in
single line across the quarter-deck, a body of men armed with rifles,
and he knew that this was indeed the firing-party which Villavicencio
had promised him.  The skipper was nowhere in sight; but the lieutenant,
Rodriguez, stood at the end of the firing-line with his drawn sword in
his hand.  Jim was piloted by his guards past the end of the firing-
party and placed with his back against a number of stout planks reared
on end, which were there for the purpose of stopping the bullets after
they had passed through the young man's body.  It was only when the
lieutenant came up to him and began to bandage his eyes that Jim
recovered from the state of semi-coma into which he had been thrown by
the news of his impending execution; but the touch of the Peruvian's
hands recalled him to his senses and, flinging the man's fingers aside,
he protested vigorously against the gross injustice and inhumanity of
the proceeding.

The only answer was a short word of command from Rodriguez, in reply to
which the two guards seized Douglas by the arms and pinioned him so that
further struggles were impossible.  The bandage was then adjusted, and
Jim was forced back against the planks.  The guards then stood aside;
but, Jim's arms being now bound behind him, resistance was useless and
escape impossible.  Rather, therefore, than engage in a useless and
undignified struggle, he determined to put a bold face on the matter,
and meet his fate like a man.  Accordingly, he stood still, waiting for
the end.

He heard the sharp command to load, then to present; and he was nerving
himself to hear the fatal word "Fire!" when the voice of Villavicencio
broke the intense stillness.  What he said Jim did not know, but the
command to fire did not come.  Instead, the rifles were grounded with a
clash, and Douglas heard somebody walking toward him.

Then the Peruvian skipper's voice broke the intense silence.  "Take off
that bandage," he commanded; and the handkerchief being stripped from
Jim's eyes he found himself looking into those of Villavicencio.

"You are reprieved, Senor Englishman," he said; "I have just received a
letter which has induced me to change my mind about you.  Instead,
therefore, of shooting you, I am sending you, together with a number of
your comrades, the Chilian officers whom I captured in the _Rimac_, to
the silver mines on the shores of Lake Titicaca.  That will, in some
sort, compensate me for your insulting remark about the incident in the
Second Narrows, for I can promise you that your life, and the lives of
your comrades, will be made a very purgatory for you.  Shooting is much
too easy a death for you, my friend; you will die, all the same, in the
silver mines; but the process of dying will be slow and very unpleasant.
You will start on your journey to-morrow, senor; and you will have a
splendid opportunity to view the beauties of the country, for you will
walk the whole distance, which is several hundred miles.  And now,
senor, I bid you a final _adios_.  Guards, take the man away and lodge
him again in his cell.  Look after him well; for you will pay for it
with your lives if you let him escape.  Again, senor, _adios_!"



It is small wonder that Douglas felt so unnerved by the ordeal through
which he had just passed that his brain seemed numbed to such an extent
that he scarcely realised what was going on around him.  Villavicencio's
taunts passed him by almost unheeded, and Jim most certainly did not
realise that he was only exchanging a sudden for a lingering death.  He
was conscious only of the fact that his life had been spared; and he
walked to his cell, between the guards, like a man in a dream.  It was
not until the heavy prison door banged to after him that he really awoke
once more to a sense of the reality of things; and, although he speedily
realised all that was meant by his being condemned to the silver mines
for life, hope sprang up again in his breast.  While there was life
there was hope; and he would be a poor sort of man, he reflected, if he
could not somehow contrive to escape, and that soon, from the terrible
captivity to which Villavicencio had consigned him.  And further than
that, he determined that, once free, he would make the brutal Peruvian
skipper pay, and that heavily, for the mental torment to which he had
put his prisoner.

To occupy his mind, Jim then began to examine his prison, so far as his
bonds would permit him to do so, with the view of ascertaining whether
there was any possibility of escape for him; and he came to the
conclusion that, though he might possibly manage to break out, if he
were given time enough, he would need a very much longer time for the
accomplishment of such a task than the few hours which were to elapse
before he was to be taken out of the cell and placed among the chain-
gang which was to march to the silver mines.  No; escape, if escape was
to be compassed, would have to be effected while on the march; and
Douglas fell to wondering who his companions in misfortune would prove
to be, and whether they would be likely to be prevailed upon to join him
in a dash for liberty.  At any rate, he decided, as he fell asleep,
nothing could be done, no arrangements could be made, until he saw the
men who were to be his fellow-prisoners.  Then, and then only, would he
be able to judge whether an escape while on the march would be
practicable.  Jim sincerely hoped that the captives would prove to be
"game" men, for once they had arrived at their destination, the silver
mines, there would be very little chance of escape.  Their freedom would
have to be won while on the march, or not at all.

Thus musing, Jim, overcome by the many and varied emotions of the
morning, at length fell asleep; and he continued to slumber peacefully
and almost continuously until he was wakened, on the following morning,
by the sounds of the clashing of arms and the tramp of heavy footsteps
outside his cell door.  The young man sat up quickly, feeling much
refreshed after his long sleep; and a second later the cell door swung
open, a file of Peruvian marines entered the prison, and he was ordered
to rise to his feet.  His manacles were then unlocked, and, between his
two guards, he walked out of his cell for the last time and proceeded on
deck.  There was nobody there when he arrived, and he was ordered to sit
down under the port bulwarks, which he did, with the marines mounting
guard over him.  But a few minutes later Lieutenant Rodriguez appeared
on deck, followed by a miserable-looking squad of half a dozen Chilian
officers, among whom Jim recognised one or two whom he knew.  They were
guarded by a score of Peruvian seamen armed with drawn cutlasses.  Jim
was then roughly hauled to his feet and pushed into the midst of the new
arrivals, who, recognising his uniform, tattered and torn though it was,
hailed him as a comrade, and received him with, figuratively, open arms.
The seven men were then formed up in line, and their names called out
by Rodriguez.  When they had answered the roll the Peruvian lieutenant
called the sergeant in charge of the guard aside and gave him certain
instructions; after which the Chilians were once more formed up in the
middle of their escort, and the whole body, prisoners and guards,
marched down the sloping gangway which led from the _Union's_ deck to
the wharf, and Jim found himself once more, after many weary months, on
_terra firma_.

Still surrounded by their guards, the Chilians marched away along the
stone quay wall, and presently, having left the precincts of the
harbour, they arrived in the town proper of Callao.  There, as soon as
they made their appearance, a crowd of roughs surrounded the prisoners
and began to deride them and pelt them with such filth and garbage as
came to hand.  Their destination, Jim discovered, was the _Plaza_, or
great square, of the city, where they were to join the main body of
prisoners destined for the mines.  For the whole of the way the
unfortunate men were in peril of their lives from the ferocity of the
mob; indeed, in one instance the crowd made such an ugly rush in its
attempt to get at the Chilians, to tear them to pieces, that their
guards were obliged to halt, form a hollow square, with their captives
in the middle, and repel the attack with their fixed bayonets.

At the moment when the danger was at its worst Jim seized the
opportunity to observe the faces of his companions in misfortune, and on
only two of them did he perceive any signs of terror; he therefore
decided that when making his plans for escape he would take especial
care that those two officers were not made acquainted with them, as they
would be not unlikely to disclose the plot, hoping that by so doing they
might procure their own freedom without the danger involved in fighting
for it.  The remaining four held their heads high, and looked as though,
if only they possessed weapons, they would have been more than glad to
take a share in the fight.  These were the sort of fellows, Douglas
decided, with whom to discuss plans for escape, and he made up his mind
that as soon as he could do so without being observed by the guards, he
would take them aside with a view to the arranging of a plan of escape
to be put into effect before the prison-gang should arrive at the mines.

At length the crowd, finding that the military guard round the prisoners
was too strong for it, abandoned its attempt to wreak its vengeance on
the Chilians, and finally dispersed.  The procession then resumed its
march, and a quarter of an hour later arrived at the _gran Plaza de
Callao_, where another depressing sight met Jim's eyes.  Round the
_Plaza_ now ranged rank upon rank of armed Peruvian soldiers, who were
mounting guard over a hundred or more disconsolate-looking Chilian
prisoners, who were nearly all manacled, some singly and some in groups.
There were present representatives of nearly every regiment of the
Chilian army, and naval men of all ratings; and, since the poor fellows
had had no change of clothing during their captivity, most of their
uniforms were almost unrecognisable.  But Jim distinguished among them
officers who belonged to the Constitucion and Valparaiso regiments, the
Guias, and Grenaderos, together with Carabineros, Lancers, and Rifleros.
Most of the naval prisoners were, however, officers; and Jim was
overjoyed to see that among these were several men whom he knew, and to
whom he determined to make his presence known at the first possible
opportunity.  The Englishman was at first a little surprised at the
preponderance of military over naval captives, until he recollected that
some months before, the _Union_, in command of the redoubtable
Villavicencio, had captured the transport _Rimac_, which was on her way
to Arica with troops.  These unfortunate men had been subjected to a
rigorous captivity in Callao for some months, and had only been taken
from prison that very morning in order to march to the still worse fate
of captivity in the mines.  Altogether there were, with the new
arrivals, about a hundred and fifty Chilian prisoners present on the
_Plaza_; and Jim speedily made up his mind that it would be very curious
if they could not by some means or other manage to effect their escape
while on the road.

The appearance of the naval prisoners from the _Union_ was the signal
for cheers from their companions in misfortune, and Jim was speedily
recognised by some of the officers near him.  The Peruvian soldiers,
however, did not seem to relish this manifestation on the part of their
prisoners, and several of them ordered the Chilians to keep silent,
enforcing the command with savage blows from the butt-ends of their
muskets.  But at this moment a gorgeously uniformed official rode up on
horseback and spoke to the captain in charge of the guard.  Jim could
not hear what was said, but the official handed the captain a paper,
appeared to give him certain instructions, and then galloped off.
Captain Veragua--for that, Jim afterwards learned, was the soldier's
name--glanced through the paper, and then began to call the roll of the
prisoners.  Most of them were present; but a hiatus now and again
occurred, which was filled in by a voice responding, "Dead, captain!"

This ceremony having been finished, several armourers made their
appearance, with hammers and cold chisels, and proceeded to knock off
the prisoners' leg-irons, so that they would be able to march.  Then the
unhappy men were manacled together in groups of a dozen by means of a
long chain to which their right wrists were fastened.  Jim, seeing that
this process was in progress, unostentatiously moved from where he was
standing and took up a position in the midst of a number of naval
officers whom he knew, and who had already been making covert signs for
him to do so.  It thus fell out, as he had hoped, that he was manacled
to a group of men whom he already knew, and he determined to lose no
time in discussing with them plans for a possible escape.

There was no opportunity for that just at present, however; for his
group was practically the last to be attended to; and, directly their
chains had been riveted on, the whole body was formed up in a solid
square.  They were then surrounded by the troops, the order to march was
given, and the entire company wheeled to the right off the _Plaza_ into
the _Calle de los Angeles_, down which they proceeded at a rapid pace.

The low hum of conversation immediately broke out among the Chilians,
and it was not checked by their guards; therefore, although it was
impossible at present to discuss anything of a private nature, Jim took
the opportunity to ask his friends if they had any information as to the
fate in store for them, beyond the fact that they were destined for the
mines.  He found, however, that the latter fact was practically all that
was known.  They were to be taken, in the first place, he learned, to
the recently erected station at Callao, and then put in the train for
Lima.  There they were to be imprisoned in the castle for one or two
nights, until a second detachment of Chilian prisoners should have
arrived from the south, and then the whole body was, as far as could be
ascertained, to be marched direct to Sorata by way of Yanyos,
Huancavelica, Guantanga, Cuzco, and Santa Rosa.  This constituted a
journey of some six hundred miles, the whole of which was to be
accomplished on foot!  Truly a pleasant prospect!  But Jim vowed to
himself that it would not be his fault if he did even as much as a sixth
of that distance before he escaped.  He therefore caused the word to be
passed round among his fellow-officers, to whom he was manacled, that he
wished to have a private talk with them upon the first occasion that
offered; and their nods of comprehension assured him that they pretty
clearly understood for what purpose the conversation was to be held.

But they had, by this time, arrived at the railway station, and the
detachment was halted in the goods-yard just outside.  Although regular
passenger communication had not yet been established between Callao and
the capital, there had been for some time a line of railway for the
purpose of carrying merchandise from the coast to Lima; and when the war
began this line was seized upon by the military authorities for the
purpose of transporting stores and soldiers.  A huge, gloomy barrack of
a station had been built, together with a number of auxiliary goods-
sheds for the purpose of holding the war material; and it was among
these sheds that the Chilians found themselves halted.  The tedious
process of calling the roll was then again gone through, and by the time
that that was finished a shrill whistle, accompanied by much blowing-off
of steam, and the clank of coupling-chains, announced that the train was
being drawn up.

Presently it came in sight round a curve, bumping and jolting over the
points, and Jim saw that it was made up of a number of goods-trucks, to
which no covering whatever had been attached, so that the unhappy
prisoners would be exposed, during the whole of their journey, to the
fierce rays of an almost vertical sun, and, as some of the men had
already been without water for twelve hours, and there seemed to be no
prospect of getting any before their arrival at Lima, it looked as
though their journey, short as it was to be, would prove a never-to-be-
forgotten one.

The Chilians were now formed up in two long lines, one on each side of
the set of metals on which the train was approaching; and, as soon as it
steamed into its place, they were ordered to get on board.  Manacled as
they were in groups of twelve, this was necessarily a very tedious
process, and two hours elapsed before the prisoners were all stowed
away.  It was then found that too few wagons had been provided, and, as
there were no more procurable, the consequent crushing was terrible.
But it had one advantage, which was, that the Peruvians were obliged to
send a much smaller guard of soldiers than they would otherwise have
done, for the simple reason that there was no room for more; and, as all
the Chilians had now stowed themselves away and it would have taken too
long a time to rearrange them, all the guards had to go in the last
truck, instead of being distributed all over the train.  This gave the
prisoners the opportunity that some of them were looking for to have a
little private conversation; but there was no present chance of escape;
for the Peruvians with their rifles could fire from one end of the train
to the other, and thus speedily put an end to any attempts of the sort.

The train was on the point of starting when one poor thirsty wretch
began to cry out most piteously for a drink of water; and in a second
all the others were also clamouring for some.  But the Peruvians merely
laughed at their entreaties, telling them that it would do them good to
be without for a while, and that they would appreciate their drink all
the more when they got to Lima.  The signal was then given, the whistle
blew, and the melancholy procession moved out of Callao station, to the
accompaniment of ironical cheers and wishes for a safe and happy journey
from the soldiery and such of the townspeople as had come to witness the

The pace of the train was positively snail-like, and, as the engine had
no tender attached, and burned wood instead of coal, the stoppages in
order to replenish with fuel were very numerous.  At the same time, it
being now high noon, the vertical sun streamed down upon the uncovered
trucks until they resembled so many ovens.  The intense heat, coupled
with the inordinate length of time occupied by the journey, reduced some
of the prisoners, especially those who had been without water for many
hours, to the verge of frenzy.  Their supplications for water would have
moved the hearts of any but the brutal Peruvian guards, whose canteens
were full of spirit and water, and who constantly refreshed themselves
therefrom, tortured the thirsty prisoners by holding the water-bottles
up to their gaze, and then pouring the contents down their own throats.
Gradually a low moan of pain and misery made itself heard in one of the
trucks, which soon spread to the others as the miserable men became
unable to bear their tortures any longer in silence.

"By Jove!" exclaimed Jim, "this is awful; what fiends these Peruvians
are!  We have never treated our prisoners of war as these fellows are
doing; I wish I had some water to give them, but unfortunately I have
none; moreover, I am nearly perishing with thirst myself.  Dozens of
these men are wounded, you know, Carlos," he continued, to a brother
officer who was sitting next to him, "and their sufferings must be
awful; some of them will go mad before we get to Lima.  Hallo! quick
there, stop that man!" he yelled, as a haggard-looking Chilian soldier
staggered to his feet, his eyes blazing with insanity.

But Douglas's warning came too late.  The Englishman had understood
instinctively what the maddened wretch was about to do, and shouted his
warning, but the men were packed so closely that there was no
opportunity to save him.  Before a single individual could rise to his
feet the Chilian, manacled by one wrist as he was, had flung himself
over the end of the truck and, falling between the metals, was now being
dragged along by the train, his shrieks of agony filling all who heard
them with horror.  The soldier happened to be the end man of his group,
and his length of chain was rather longer than that connecting the other
members of that particular party; but he had nearly dragged the man next
to him to a similar fearful death, for the poor fellow, half crazed with
terror, was hanging over the end of the truck with his arm nearly torn
from its socket by the corpse trailing on the line.  His companions,
however, seized him by the body, while several strove to disconnect the
chain which fettered him to the awful object trailing beneath the train.

Jim and several others had staggered to their feet and were shouting to
the driver to stop the train, but the man was too far away to comprehend
what was said.  The Peruvians in the last truck, feigning to believe
there was a mutiny of the prisoners, and glad of any excuse for cruelty,
began to fire into the huddled mass of Chilians, the bullets doing
fearful execution at such short range.  The officer next in line to Jim
fell dead with a bullet through his heart, and pulled Douglas down with
him, thereby saving the Englishman's life, for a perfect hail of bullets
whizzed into the truck the moment after he fell.

At this moment there was a fearful shriek from the front end of the
truck.  The body of the man who had committed suicide had by this time
been cut to pieces by the wheels, and the loose end of chain had
consequently been relieved of the drag upon it and was now lashing about
among the wheels.  Before the soldier who had been nearly dragged over
could realise this and haul up the chain, the swaying end had got
entangled among the spokes of a wheel.  It was quickly coiled up and
broken, of course, but before this happened it had actually torn the
unhappy Chilian's hand completely off, and his shrieks would have
convinced the Peruvian guards that something was wrong had they been
willing to be convinced, and not been too busily occupied in firing into
their helpless prisoners.

The maimed soldier had, however, fainted, and he now fell senseless upon
the floor of the car, while his companions, unable to assist him,
followed his example by lying down, to be out of the line of fire.  The
Peruvians, however, fired a few more shots into the truck; but since
they could no longer see anybody at whom to shoot, they presently tired
of their pastime, and laid down their rifles, laughing heartily among
themselves at the sport they had enjoyed.  Douglas and his fellow-
officers heard the raucous sounds of merriment, and each in his heart
vowed that, if they lived, they would exact a fearful retribution for
the inhuman treatment which they had that day received from their

At four o'clock that afternoon the train crawled and jolted into Lima;
the trucks were at once surrounded by soldiery who were waiting for
their arrival, and the unhappy prisoners were roughly hauled out and
formed up in a square as before.  The weary, hungry and thirsty
prisoners were hurried off to the castle of Lima, where, in the
courtyard, they were given the first food and water that many of them
had received for nearly thirty-six hours.

While the starving wretches were refreshing themselves, the gates opened
to admit another body of about fifty Chilians surrounded by guards.
These were herded in among those who had arrived by the train, and
likewise were given food and water, upon which they fell like ravenous
wild beasts.  After having satisfied his hunger, Jim seized the
opportunity to look round him a little.  There were now about two
hundred Chilians present, and it was evident, from the preparations that
were being made, that they were all to be taken to the mines.  Even as
he looked about him the new force of guards began to form up.  There
were quite a hundred of them, Jim noticed, or about one to every two
prisoners.  But the Peruvians were all armed with rifle and bayonet,
whereas the Chilians were not; moreover, the guards were free, while the
Chilian prisoners were manacled together in groups of a dozen.

Douglas had been led to expect that they would be kept a day or two at
Lima, but he now saw that he had been mistaken in his surmise.
Apparently the second body of prisoners had arrived sooner than they
were expected, and consequently the authorities had decided that all the
Chilians should commence their march without delay.  The captives were
now ordered to stand up, and were formed into one company of five men
deep.  After this was done a number of Peruvians brought in a couple of
wagons, which they at once began to unload, taking therefrom a number of
pickaxes and shovels, which were then served out among the prisoners,
and each man was given one of each tool.  The reason for this, Jim
discovered, was that there were not sufficient implements at Sorata to
supply the new labourers, so the prisoners were compelled to carry with
them the tools wherewith they were to do their work when they reached
their destination.

"_Carrajo_!" exclaimed Douglas under his breath, as he watched his
fellow-prisoners shoulder the pickaxes and shovels.  "Do those fools of
Peruvians know what they are doing?  Why, they are absolutely delivering
themselves into our hands!  I was wondering by what means we should be
able to overcome a hundred armed soldiers while on the march, but now
that we have got these things it will be easy."

He was aroused from his reverie by receiving a heavy blow on the
shoulder and hearing a rough voice exclaim: "Now then, wake up; don't
stand there dreaming all day.  What are you thinking about?  Here, catch
hold of this spade and pickaxe; that's your share.  Ha, ha! it's a good
idea and an excellent joke to make you rascals carry the tools with
which we are going to make you work when you reach the mines.  That's
it; now get into your place, and look sharp; we shall be on the march in
a few minutes.  I hope your honour won't find the weight too heavy, for
you will come off rather badly if you do!"

Jim clutched his tools with the grasp of a drowning man, and there was
joy in his heart as he shouldered them, for he did not regard them as
tools, but rather as the precious means by which to regain his liberty.
Find them too heavy!  Well, he rather thought not; he would not part
with them, now that they were his, on any account, for a scheme of
escape had come into his mind which he believed he could easily put into
practice, if he could but secure the co-operation of his fellow-

But there was no more time at present for thought; the column was on the
point of departure.  A bugle rang out shrilly from somewhere in the
courtyard; a stentorian voice barked out certain orders, and the
Peruvian guards closed up round their captives.  Then, just as dusk was
falling, the gates were thrown open, and the column of three hundred men
marched out of Lima castle into the broad streets, on the road to

Nothing could be done that night, Jim decided; and a week elapsed before
he could even speak to his companions upon the subject which was
uppermost in his mind.  Then, one evening, shortly before midnight, when
the vigilance of the guards had somewhat relaxed, Jim found his
opportunity.  He softly wakened the man next to him, and whispered
earnestly to him for about ten minutes.  The Chilian officer listened
intently, and then awoke his companion in turn and passed the idea on to
him.  Thus the "word" percolated through the sleeping camp, and before
morning every one of the Chilians who could be trusted had been informed
of Jim's plan, and had agreed to be on the watch for the signal which
the young Englishman had promised to give them upon the very first
opportunity which presented itself as being likely to promise success.



A fortnight had passed since that memorable night upon which Jim
communicated his plan of escape to his fellow-prisoners, and still no
opportunity had come for the Chilians to make a bid for freedom.  For
some days after Douglas had communicated with them the weary men had
brightened up considerably.  The spark of hope which glimmered in the
midst of their darkness gave them strength to bear up under their many
misfortunes.  But as day after day came and went without the signal
being given, a dull despair had taken the place of hope, and many a
worn-out and soul-sick man fell down in the dusty road, never to rise
again.  Belonging, as the bulk of the prisoners did, to a southern race,
they were very easily cheered up or cast down, and their despair was all
the deeper for the short interval of hope which had been given them.
The majority of them seemed to have almost resigned themselves to fate,
and were looking forward to nothing better than a lifelong captivity in
the mines of Sorata.  To such an extent, indeed, was this the case that
Jim realised that, unless an opportunity should very shortly occur
whereby he could put his scheme into execution, his companions would be
too profoundly dispirited to attempt to make use of the chance of escape
when it should actually arrive.  He had told them, however, at the
outset that it would be folly to make the attempt while crossing the
mountains; for, even should they contrive to get away, they would be in
the heart of a hostile country, where they might easily be recaptured.
The young Englishman's plan had been to wait until they got farther
south, when they would again be comparatively close to the coast, so
that they might escape thither and trust to being able to get away in
boats.  But the long-protracted waiting, coupled with the intense cold
which they experienced up among the mountains, was fast taking all the
heart out of the prisoners, and Jim saw that unless the attempt were
made almost at once everything would be lost.

They were now nearing Cuzco, having travelled nearly half the distance
to Sorata, and the weary men hoped to sleep that very night in the
ancient capital of the Incas.  Jim had managed to interchange a few
hasty words about mid-day with the officers of his own group, all men of
high courage and of advanced rank, and they and he had come to the
conclusion that the escape should be attempted that very night, should
they fail to reach Cuzco, or the night after leaving that city, should
they happen to arrive there that day.  These few were the only men who
had retained their courage unimpaired, and Jim felt that he could rely
upon them.  It would not do, they all decided, to wait any longer; and
although Cuzco itself lay among the mountains, it would be better to
make the attempt there, and trust to being able to get away to the sea-
coast, than be obliged to defer it indefinitely.

The word to be on the watch and ready was therefore passed round
immediately after the mid-day halt; and it was astonishing to see how
the news brightened up the weary men and made new beings of them.
Indeed, Jim almost felt sorry that he had not delayed the message until
the evening, for he felt alarmed lest the guards should observe the
change and guess at its cause.  They seemed, however, to take no notice
of it, and the forlorn procession moved forward slowly along the great,
dusty road, which had not been repaired since the time of Pizarro's
conquest.  Hour after hour went by and there was still no sign of the
City of the Sun; so that, by the time that four o'clock arrived, Douglas
decided that the escape would have to be attempted that very night.
Just before dusk the clouds, which had been covering the heavens all day
long, broke; the glorious setting sun shone out in all his majesty; and
there before them in the distance, some fifteen miles away, his beams
fell on the city of Cuzco, gilding and glorifying it until it actually
did present the appearance of a city of gold.  It was a magnificent
sight, and drew an exclamation of admiration and delight from the
Chilians, weary as they all were; but they hoped that the view which
they had just obtained of the place was all that they would ever see of
it--as it would be, if fortune would but favour them that night.

It was now perfectly evident that they would not be able to reach Cuzco
that evening, and as the darkness was fast coming on the Peruvians began
to look about them for a suitable place in which to camp for the night.
About half a mile farther on could be seen, through the gathering gloom,
a small hillock, crowned with great rocks and boulders, apparently the
remains of some ancient Inca fortification.  This struck Douglas as a
place that might have been made on purpose for their attempt, could the
guards but be induced to pitch the camp there.  He was casting about in
his mind for some scheme by which they might be induced to select the
spot as a halting-place, when the officer in command of the troop rose
in his stirrups and, pointing to the hillock with his sword, exclaimed:

"There, over yonder, is the place for us, _mi hijos_; we will encamp
among those boulders.  We shall be as comfortable there as in the city
of Cuzco itself.  Forward, _guerreros_; we shall soon be there; and we
will have a good long rest to-night."

"Ay, that you will, you inhuman scoundrel," muttered Jim; "but it will
not be the sort of sleep of which you are thinking!"  However, the
prisoners and their guards pushed forward, and in about ten minutes'
time the group arrived at the foot of the little hill, which they at
once began to climb.

"Now I wonder," thought Jim, "whether the next time we tread this road
it will be as free men once more.  God grant us success this night, for
if we fail there will be no second chance for us!"

The other officers seemed to be occupied with similar thoughts, for they
examined the whole place and its surroundings very carefully as they
ascended; evidently in order that, should the attempt be successful,
they might be able to find their way down in the darkness.  At last the
summit was reached; but before the weary men could enjoy the rest of
which they stood in such great need, they were obliged to unload the
tents and provisions from the pack mules, the Peruvians being much to
lazy to do anything for themselves.  It was therefore about eight
o'clock by the time that the tents were pitched and the evening meal
prepared; and when the food was ready the prisoners ate as much as they
could, for they did not in the least know where they would obtain their
next meal.  This having been done, the pots and pans had to be cleaned
and put away; so that it was a tolerably weary company which at last
sought its tents to lie down and rest.

But not to slumber.  There was not a single Chilian among those to whom
the plan had been revealed who closed his eyes, lest he should fall
asleep and thus not be ready when the momentous signal should be given.
Long before this it had been ascertained that there were but four keys
for the purpose of locking and unlocking the prisoners' manacles; one
being held by the captain, while the other three were distributed in
turn among the soldiers, being given to three different men every day,
for the better security of the prisoners, and to make sure that there
could be no tampering with the guards.  Jim had been keeping his eyes
very wide open all through the day, and he had noticed which of the
Peruvians were the men who had the keys in their possession that night,
while he had also carefully marked the positions where they had thrown
themselves down to sleep.  Two of the soldiers had retired to a tent,
but the third had fortunately elected to sleep in the open, as the night
was very warm.

The plan arranged was for Jim and his group of manacled fellow-officers
to crawl forward, and either kill or stun one of the gaolers--it would
be too risky to tackle more than one--secure his key, unlock their own
fetters, and then to go silently the rounds, setting free their
companions.  When all were at liberty they were to seize their shovels
and pickaxes and with them attack the slumbering soldiery, killing as
many as possible before they were fully awake and could seize their
rifles.  Should they be discovered before the work was complete, those
who were free were to keep off the Peruvians while the remainder were
set at liberty.

It sounded rather a barbarous scheme, but Jim could think of no other
which would be at all likely to be successful; and he was by this time
rendered altogether too hardened by privation and ill-treatment to feel
very much pity for the callously brutal Peruvian guards.  Besides, it
was his life or theirs, and he had no difficulty in choosing.

The young Englishman waited until midnight, in order to allow the
soldiers to get well asleep, and then he silently nudged his companions
to make sure that all were awake.  They all were,--very wide awake,
too,--and, after a few low-voiced instructions from Douglas, the little
body of men began to crawl away through the darkness, taking the utmost
care that there should be no clanking of chains to betray their
movements.  Forward on hands and knees they went, all moving together;
and they soon passed through the ranks of their comrades, who did not
make a single movement while the gallant little band crawled past.

Soon they had left the Chilian part of the encampment behind; and a few
minutes later, Jim, who was the leading man of the party, came abreast
of the first Peruvian tent.  The night was pitchy dark, although there
was a young moon, for the sky was covered with dark, low-lying clouds.
This was all the better, for it lessened the probability of their being
seen by the sentries; but they had to exercise a great deal of caution
to avoid colliding with and so disturbing any soldiers who had elected
to sleep out in the open.

"Now," whispered Jim, as they came abreast of a certain tent, looming up
dim and ghostly in the darkness; "Pedrillo is sleeping just outside this
tent.  Forward, men; but carefully, for your lives.  One false step now,
and all will be lost.  Come along, and remember--we must be quick and
silent at--at the work which we have to do.  There must not be so much
as a single struggle."

His companions now came up abreast of Douglas, instead of following in
single file; and, still abreast, they crawled toward the slumbering
custodian of the key.  Nearer and nearer they drew, until only a few
yards separated them from their prey, then only a few feet.  They were
almost within arm's length of him now; silently they crept forward
again, then they paused.  The only sound was that caused by the heavy
breathing of the victim and the soft, hissing breaths of his
executioners.  Now they crept forward again until they were close to the
man; Jim plucked the sleeve of the Chilian nearest to him, and together
they leaned over the gaoler.

"_Now_!" hissed Jim, and four men flung themselves upon the fellow's
body at the same moment that Douglas's hands clutched his throat.  There
was a short quick scuffle, and it was all over.

In a second he had snatched the key from the dead man's girdle and was
feverishly unlocking his comrades' fetters.  Then they, in turn,
unlocked his, and in less than five minutes the twelve men were all
free.  Back they sped to their own portion of the camp, and were soon
unlocking their friends' manacles, with the result that in less than
twenty minutes at least half the Chilians were free, and stood, grasping
their pickaxes and shovels, ready for the fight which was inevitable
before they could get away.

Then a horrible thing happened.

Among the Chilians was a naval petty officer, a surly, cunning--faced
creature whom nobody trusted, and from whom, therefore, all particulars
of the plot had been kept secret.  Jim had just inserted the key in his
manacles, when this traitor shrieked at the top of his voice:

"Help! help! the Chilians are escaping!"

Why the fellow did it nobody ever knew, but it was surmised that, being
too much of a craven himself to attempt to escape, he had hoped to
purchase his own freedom by betraying his comrades.  But he must have
been mad to do such a thing, surrounded as he was by Chilians, for he
might have felt certain that before assistance could reach him he would
be dead.

The mischief, however, was done, and the slumbering camp was effectually
alarmed.  The sentries squibbed off their rifles, and then, reloading,
began to blaze away into the Chilian encampment.  The captain's harsh
voice was heard giving orders, and in a few seconds the Peruvian
soldiers had formed up in line, fixed their bayonets, and were prepared
to charge.

"Quick," exclaimed Jim; "seize your shovels and pickaxes and repel their
attack.  I will help you.  You, Manuel, take the key and free the others
while we who are already free keep the Peruvians at bay.  But be cool--
keep calm, and all will be well; we will defend you."

Tossing the key to Manuel, Jim seized a shovel, and put himself at the
head of his men.  "Charge! charge!" he roared, and the fifty free
Chilians charged straight at the place where the Peruvians were known to

The next second a sanguinary and ferocious struggle had commenced in the
darkness.  The Peruvians, hearing the Chilians approach, had levelled
their rifles, and poured a withering volley into the charging men, with
murderous effect.  But, their rifles once emptied, conditions were
somewhat more equal, and for a quarter of an hour the combat raged
furiously.  But such an unequal contest could not last very long; the
soldiers were able, during pauses in the struggle, to reload their
rifles; and this being done, they mowed the Chilians down by dozens.
Manuel did his work well, but the liberated men who straggled up, by
twos and threes, did not prove a very valuable reinforcement for the

Then, to crown all their misfortunes, the moon came out and flooded the
battle-ground with light; and light was all that the Peruvians needed to
enable them to turn a one-sided combat into a massacre.  The Chilians,
mowed down by the score, at last threw down their primitive weapons and
called for quarter; but the soldiers, rendered still more ferocious by
the sight and smell of blood, continued to fire into the defenceless
prisoners until they were sated with slaughter.  Then the hapless band
was surrounded once more, and the unhurt and least seriously wounded men
were manacled afresh.  The mortally wounded were simply bayoneted as
they lay, their friends being unable to stay the murderers' hands.

At last it was all over; the casualties were counted up and the roll
called.  The Peruvians had lost but eleven men, all killed, whereas the
Chilians were reduced to forty, all told, scarcely one of whom did not
bear a more or less serious wound on his person.  But the Peruvian
captain was furious at what he called the "dastardly attack" of the
Chilians on his men, and he swore to take a full and complete revenge
when the next morning should arrive.  The wretched men were then allowed
to lie down once more and sleep--if they could; and thus the remaining
hours of that ghastly night passed slowly away.

The next morning, as soon as day dawned, Captain Garcia-y-Garcia, having
appointed a sergeant and a corporal to assist him, constituted himself
and his two assistants into what he called a "court-martial," and then
proceeded to try the prisoners.

Jim he promptly pounced upon as the ringleader, and subjected the young
Englishman to a short examination, which, however, was the merest farce,
for the captain had already determined upon his fate.  After a trial
lasting, perhaps, five minutes, therefore, Jim was condemned to be shot
before mid-day, as were nine more of his unfortunate companions.  The
remaining thirty Chilians were each sentenced to receive a flogging of a
hundred lashes as soon as they arrived at the mines; and Captain Garcia-
y-Garcia promised himself that he would be the man to supervise the

The ten men who were condemned to death were then separated from the
rest of the troop, and were told to seat themselves on the ground at
some little distance away, where they were at once surrounded by guards.
Garcia-y-Garcia then selected a squad of twenty Peruvian soldiers, and
told them off for the firing-party.  They were then formed up in a
single line and ordered to load their rifles with ball cartridge.

When everything was in readiness, the ten unfortunate prisoners were
brought forward and made to stand, also in line, with their backs
against a huge rock which was to serve as a background; and Jim found
himself, for the second time in his life, facing a firing-party and
condemned to death.  But this time there seemed to be no hope or
possibility of reprieve.  He was surrounded by cruel men who had no
feelings save those of a brutal nature, and it seemed as though no power
on earth could save him.

Jim was very thankful that no attempt was made to blindfold them, for he
had had a bandage round his eyes on a previous occasion, and knew from
experience that the suspense of waiting for the squad to fire, not
knowing what they were doing meanwhile, was worse than death itself
could possibly be.

At last the fatal moment came, and the unlucky men shook hands with one
another in sad farewell.  The doomed men then stood to attention, and
the soldiers examined the breeches of their rifles to make sure that
they were properly loaded.

Then came the word "_Ready_!" and the twenty rifles came up to the
soldiers' hips as though by machinery.  At the second word of command
the barrels glinted in the sun as the men planted the rifle-butts in the
hollow of their shoulders.  Jim involuntarily cast his eyes skyward as
he waited for the final word, and his lips were seen to move slightly.

A painful pause--and then Garcia-y-Garcia's voice rang out, loud, clear,
and triumphant: "_Fire_!"

There was a simultaneous crash as the rifles were discharged, and Jim
felt a sharp, stinging sensation in his left side and in his arm as he
fell back upon the ground.  A body fell a second after his own and lay
right across his face, and Jim had actually put up his hand to push away
the corpse before he realised that he was not at all severely hurt.  He
was recalled to his senses by hearing the captain's voice commanding his
men to reload and fire again into the heap of corpses, to "make
assurance doubly sure," as he put it, and Jim had presence of mind
enough to abstain from making any further movement, though he suffered
agonies of suspense while waiting for the second discharge.

It came at last, and Douglas escaped yet a second time, although the
body lying above his own was riddled with bullets.  The Englishman could
feel now that the bullet which struck him had passed between his left
side and his left arm, grazing both, but inflicting no injury worth
speaking of.  But would he escape after all, or would he have his brains
blown out as he lay?  The question was soon answered, for even as he was
thinking about it, the body was hauled off his face and a soldier
shouted: "Why, captain, here is a man who is still alive."

Garcia-y-Garcia ran up and stood over Jim, looking down at him with eyes
that glittered with savage menace.  He half turned away to give the
order for Jim's death, when he checked himself.  His expression
gradually changed, and presently he spoke:

"No; I don't think I'll shoot you to-day, Senor Chileno, although I
don't know that I may not change my mind later.  However, I will spare
you this once, for you deserve to escape death after having been shot at
twice.  Get up!"

Hardly able to believe his ears, Jim rose to his feet, and was
immediately secured to the chain once more.  Then, still in a dream, he
heard the command given to march, and the sadly depleted company moved
down the side of the knoll, leaving nearly seventy unburied corpses
lying on its summit.  How very differently things had looked yesterday
at this hour, thought Jim: how sadly everything had changed!  Between
now and yesterday lay this blood-red day of Cuzco--a day which Jim knew
he would never forget so long as he lived.



After the dreadful episode near Cuzco a heavy gloom settled down upon
the poor remnant of the prisoners, and the group marched forward and
ever forward in a sullen, hopeless silence.  Jim made several efforts to
put fresh heart into his comrades, and to persuade them that everything
was not lost, even yet, if they could but pull themselves together.  He
told them that the mines were still some distance away, and that a
second attempt at escape might perhaps be so engineered as to be
successful; but it was all to no purpose; the unhappy Chilians had
completely lost heart.  Moreover, they seemed to think that the ill-
success which had attended their effort at Cuzco was in some measure due
to the young Englishman who had, as they put it, misjudged the time; and
Jim soon found that he was everywhere greeted with sullen looks instead
of with the cheery smiles which were once accorded him.  He therefore
gave up the idea of inciting them to another attempt, and came to the
conclusion that he would have to make his escape alone, if it was to be
made; and he determined that henceforth he would keep his intentions
secret from the others, and would not even invoke their assistance; for
he feared treachery on their part in the temper that then possessed

Watch as he might, however, the young man could find no opportunity, for
the guards had redoubled their vigilance, and they kept an especially
sharp eye on Jim, for he was considered by all the Peruvians to have
been the ringleader of the Cuzco affair; indeed, the soldiers quite
failed to understand why Captain Garcia-y-Garcia had shown him any mercy
on that occasion.  The young Englishman also kept his eyes open,
carefully marking in his mind the route by which they had come, so that
he might find his way back along it upon some future occasion.  They had
now left the strictly mountainous region, and had entered upon the flat
dusty tableland in the midst of which Lake Titicaca is situated; and it
was for the northern end of the lake that the party was now heading.

Then, one day at dawn, they beheld a magnificent sight.  There, before
them, lying at a slightly lower level than the surrounding country, lay
the blue waters of the lake, shimmering in the sun, whose beams had
already gilded the snowy summit of Mount Sorata, which lay a little to
the south-eastward.  It was at the foot of this giant among mountains
that the village of Sorata was situated, and Jim realised that their
long journey of seven hundred miles was nearly ended.

It was exactly one month after the tragedy of Cuzco that the way-worn
troop marched into the village; and a fearful-looking lot of scarecrows
the prisoners were by that time, in truth.  They had scarcely a rag to
their backs, while their boots and stockings had long since worn away
from their feet, and they had to tramp along barefooted.  They were lean
and gaunt, with scarcely an ounce of flesh on their poor starved bodies;
in fact they presented the appearance of a squad of skeletons rather
than of living men.  Tanned, as they were, to a deep mahogany colour by
the fierce sun and strong air, with hair growing down upon their
shoulders, and with coarse, matted beards, no one would have believed
that a few short months ago many of these men were among the smartest
and best-dressed officers in the Chilian army and navy.  Jim himself
looked as bad as the rest, but he had one advantage which the others had
not, for under his tattered rags his brave heart beat as strongly and as
resolutely as ever, whereas the Chilians had entirely lost their

The sun was just setting, and the long day's work was over, when the
Chilians arrived, and they were just in time to see the prisoners who
were already there taking their evening meal.  A few half-starved curs
had run out to meet the new arrivals, and now jumped and barked savagely
around them in a transport of fury at seeing a few new faces.  The
village, if such it could be called, consisted simply of a number of
long wooden huts roofed over with corrugated iron.  Some of the huts
were used as barracks for the convicts, some as quarters for their
guards, and a still larger number as engine, boiler, machinery, and
store houses for the purpose of extracting and storing the silver from
the ore.  The whole place was intersected by narrow-gauge tram-lines,
upon which were run little wagons which a couple of men could push, for
bringing the raw material from the mine to the smelting-houses.  Several
of these standing about in various parts of the village added to the
general uncouthness and desolation of the scene; and Jim felt that if he
were compelled to stay here for very long, he would go mad with the very
dismalness and horror of his surroundings.

But he was not allowed very much time for reflection, for directly the
much-diminished roll was called, the prisoners were conducted to a shed
containing a large number of sacks of crushed Indian corn, the staple
food of the Indians in Peru; and here a small quantity of the
unappetising stuff was served out, together with a tin can, to each man.
This corn, made into a sort of porridge by boiling it with water, was
to constitute the prisoners' evening meal; and they were given to
understand that all their other meals would consist of the same food.
The unfortunate men, who had been freed from their shackles as soon as
they arrived at their destination, then took their tins, and, making
themselves as comfortable as they could in the prisoners' compound,
proceeded to boil and eat their unwholesome-looking porridge.  By the
time that this was done, darkness had fallen, and the village was
lighted up by means of rough paraffin lamps hoisted on poles.  By the
light of these the prisoners were now herded together once more and
marched away to the long iron sheds in which they were told they would
have to sleep.  But before entering these hovels, a number of Peruvian
soldiers brought out a quantity of clothing, made on purpose for the
convicts, and the Chilians were ordered to strip and put these on.  Jim
was very glad to have another suit, although it consisted of only a pair
of rough blue serge trousers, a kind of jersey, a neckcloth, and a
jacket, for his own garments were so torn and ragged that they were
hardly sufficient to cover him.  They were then told that a pair of
clogs would be served out to each of them the next morning at daybreak,
when work would commence, but that now they were expected to turn in for
the night, according to the rules governing this little convict
settlement.  The iron-roofed shed looked even more uninviting inside
than outside.  Down each side were ranged narrow platforms, which were
divided into "beds" by narrow strips of wood about three inches in
height, and all the covering allowed was a pair of very old dirty
blankets; of mattresses there was no sign, not even loose straw being
provided, and the whole interior was dirty and odoriferous beyond
description.  However, considered Jim philosophically, prisoners cannot
be choosers; and having arranged his blankets as comfortably as was
possible under the circumstances, he turned in and slept the sleep of
the utterly weary.

The next morning he was awakened by a hideous clanging noise, which
proceeded from a huge gong hung in the courtyard.  Everybody immediately
sprang out of bed, folded up their blankets, and streamed out into the
courtyard, where, Jim noticed, there was a narrow stream of running
water.  He availed himself of this to have a good wash, a proceeding
which excited the laughter of the gaolers, many of whom looked as though
they had never touched water in any form during the whole of their
lives.  This having been done, he procured his tin and his daily
allowance of meal and prepared his breakfast, for which he had an
excellent appetite.  When this was over, the prisoners were told off in
groups of ten each, a soldier with loaded rifle mounting guard over each
section.  These were marched away one by one, until only one group
remained, and Jim had not yet been apportioned to a party; but he soon
found that Captain Garcia-y-Garcia had represented him to the Governor
as being a most dangerous character, so that he was to have a guard all
to himself, and not to be allowed near the other prisoners.  This
arrangement suited Jim admirably, for he had already made up his mind
that if he was to escape at all, it must be alone, and he would have a
much better chance of getting away while working by himself than he
would get if he were one of a gang; for it would be strange indeed if a
strong, able-bodied young Englishman could not get the better of a mere
Peruvian soldier.

He therefore accepted the situation with much satisfaction, which,
however, he took care not to show, and marched off toward the mine with
his guard.  When he arrived at the place where he was to work, he saw
that the word "mine" hardly described the place, for it was not in the
least like an English mine.  The so-called mines consisted of a number
of ancient Inca workings which, after having lain idle for hundreds of
years, had been again started by the Peruvians.  Instead of a shaft
being driven down into the earth, and galleries being cut in various
directions from that shaft, the mines simply consisted of tunnels driven
horizontally into the side of a hill.  It was a primitive method, and
one adopted by the Incas; but the ground was so rich and ore so
plentiful that this method was found as good as any other, and cheaper
than most.  There were scores of these tunnels, some of which had been
exhausted and abandoned, while the ore was being taken out of others by
truck-loads at a time, the little narrow-gauge tram-lines running from
the tunnel-mouths right down into the village.

By the time that Jim had arrived at his allotted post his fellow-
prisoners had disappeared elsewhere, and he found, to his great joy,
that he was working on the side of the hill remote from all the other
convicts.  He could hardly conceal his satisfaction, for everything was
falling out much better than he could possibly have expected; and, under
the influence of his newly awakened hope, he became quite chatty and
affable with the sentry, who gradually thawed under the Englishman's
flow of talk and high spirits.  Douglas now found that he was not
expected to extract ore, for indeed there was no tram-line here whereby
it could be carried away.  This particular tunnel had been closed up by
a fall of rock as long ago as the sixteenth century and had never since
been worked, and as the Peruvians thought that there might still be a
good supply of ore there, they had determined to open it once more.
This, then, was Jim's task, and he approached the blocked-up tunnel-
mouth determined to do as much work as he possibly could, and thus
endeavour to earn the sentry's good-will, for that, he decided, should
be his first step on the road to freedom.

By the time that dusk had fallen and work had ceased for the day,
Douglas had cleared away several cubic yards of rubble from the tunnel-
mouth, and had also impressed the sentry so favourably that the latter
not only thought himself lucky in having charge of so docile a prisoner,
but also decided that it would not be necessary for him to exercise
quite so much vigilance as he had expected to be obliged to do.

Morning after morning the Englishman and the Peruvian went up to the
tunnel, and the two soon became, to all appearance, very excellent
friends.  Jim steadily worked his way farther and farther into the
tunnel, and the sentry sat at the entrance thereto, smoking and dozing,
instead of standing close beside the prisoner during the whole day, as
he had done at first.  Douglas was delighted, for this was precisely
what he wanted.  The soldier's suspicions were being lulled to sleep
very effectively, and Jim told himself that the time was fast
approaching when he might try to hoodwink the fellow still further.
However, in order not to act too hastily, he allowed a few more days to
elapse, and then one morning, during his mid-day meal, he entered into
conversation with the Peruvian, adroitly keeping the conversation as
personal as possible, and leading the fellow on to talk about himself.
It was an easy task that Jim had before him, as he very soon found.  He
sympathised with the man in all his little troubles, and advised him
what to do to make matters easier for himself, the consequence being
that Douglas passed the whole afternoon sitting down and talking with
the soldier, with the result that by the evening the two were as
friendly together as even Jim could wish.

The Peruvian Government, it now appeared, was in the habit of giving the
prisoners a small bonus for every cubic yard of rubble or ore that was
removed above a certain fixed quantity, and this bonus Jim laid himself
out to earn, with the result that he very soon had a nice little hoard
of _pesetas_, which he laid out on such comforts as the village
provided.  He also took care to keep his gaoler well supplied with
_cigarillos_, which proved the best prescription for keeping him in a
good temper.  So that by the time that three months had slipped by, the
man had ceased to keep guard over his prisoner at all, and left him to
excavate the tunnel unwatched, while he himself sat down on the shady
side of a rock to enjoy his tobacco.  Things were now indeed shaping
very well for Jim, and having lulled his gaoler's suspicions, the young
man next set about getting together a small store of provisions, which
he secreted little by little behind a great boulder which he found about
fifty feet inside the mouth of the tunnel, and a month later he had
accumulated what he considered to be enough provender to last him, with
care, until he could reach either the sea-coast or the nearest Chilian
outpost, which at that time was lying somewhere near Caraguara.

The next thing, he told himself, was to wait for a favourable
opportunity to escape; and while waiting he put all his energies into
his work, so that he might have as much money as possible when the time
came for him to make his attempt.  It was quite the usual thing now for
the guard--whose name, Jim had ascertained, was Carbajal--to lie down
behind his rock, and either sleep or smoke while his charge laboured in
the tunnel; and one day Jim crawled over to the rock where he lay and
took a good look at the fellow.  He was sitting with his back against
the rock, fast asleep; his rifle was lying about three feet away from
him, and his peaked cap was tilted over his eyes.  If he would only go
to sleep like that in the morning, thought Jim, all would be well; for
the escape would have to be made very early in order that the fugitive
might get a good long start before his absence was discovered when the
roll was called at nightfall.

Douglas had now quite a nice little stock of money, and he soon made up
his mind what to do.  One evening, before going to the sleeping
barracks, he bought a bottle of _aguardiente_, and from an _Indio_ with
whom he had made friends he procured a large quantity of _coca_ leaves,
which he put into the bottle of spirit to soak overnight, knowing that
by the morning the strong liquor would have absorbed all the cocaine out
of the leaves.

The next morning he extracted all the leaves and recorked the bottle,
which he carefully secreted under his coat, for he had determined to
make his escape that very day.  Then he went up to the tunnel, followed
by the guard, who lay down behind his usual rock directly they arrived
at the works.  Jim considered for a few seconds whether he should offer
the man the bottle at once or later, and finally determined in favour of
the latter, in order to avoid arousing his guard's suspicions, and to
give him an opportunity to get thoroughly thirsty in the hot sun.  Jim
then went into the tunnel and walked down to its far end, not to work,
however, for he determined to save himself up as much as possible, in
view of future contingencies.

He therefore sat down, with his back against one of the tunnel walls,
but would not close his eyes lest he should inadvertently drop off to
sleep.  He had been staring abstractedly at the opposite wall for some
minutes, when it dawned upon him that one of the blocks of stone of
which it was composed had a very curiously symmetrical appearance, and
the longer he gazed at it the more convinced did he become that the slab
was not nature's handiwork at all, but that of man.  In a moment all
sorts of legends vaguely flashed through his mind, and, knowing that
this tunnel had been originally used by the Incas and had not been
opened since, he began to wonder whether the curious circumstance was
worth investigating.  He soon decided that it was, and seizing his pick,
he inserted the point at the edge of the slab, and attempted to lever
the stone away.  It resisted for so long, however, that he was beginning
to think the stone was after all no more than a part of the natural
rock, when, under a more than usually vigorous pull, he saw it move
forward slightly.

He now wrenched at it more determinedly than ever, and in a few seconds
had the satisfaction of seeing the heavy slab totter and then fall
outward on to the floor of the tunnel.  Douglas was provided with
matches and a lantern for the purposes of his work, and he lost no time
in exploring the cavity which the stone had disclosed.  With eager
fingers he searched and probed about, but for some time found nothing.
Then his hand suddenly encountered something that felt metallic and
heavy, and upon bringing it to the light, he found that he held in his
hand a small golden image, some three inches high, evidently
representing the god Rimac.  This spurred him on to new efforts, and in
a few minutes he had extracted five other little figures from the same
place.  Jim believed that he had now emptied the cache, and he was on
the point of abandoning further search, since time was flying, but was
just feeling round the hole for the last time, when his hand came in
contact with something else.

This last object which he brought to light proved to be nothing less
than a roll of Inca paper, a coarse material made of the wool of the
vicuna, which the priests were accustomed to use in keeping their
records.  This was probably a prize of considerably greater value than
the gold, Jim thought, and he carefully opened it with trembling
fingers.  But, as he quite expected, he could make nothing of it, for it
was written in the ancient Inca character, which few white men have ever
seen, and which only a small number of Indians, directly descended from
the ancient Peruvian race, are able to decipher.  There was not much of
it, but Douglas guessed that its value must be great, or it would not
have been hidden so carefully away.  He therefore folded it up
carefully, and put it, together with the little gold figures, in his
pocket, and then left the cave with his bottle of _aguardiente_, which
he meant to present to Carbajal.

The fellow was already very nearly asleep, as it happened, and he was,
moreover, very thirsty, consequently Jim's offer was accepted with
almost indecent haste; as a matter of fact, Carbajal put the bottle to
his lips the moment that Jim held it out to him, and he only removed it
when it was nearly all gone.

"Ah! _senor_," sighed the soldier, as he wiped his lips, "that stuff was
good--it always is good when one is thirsty, but--but what a curious
flavour it has with it.  Not that it is a disagreeable taste, mind you;
indeed, I rather like it, but it is somewhat different from the stuff
one usually gets here."

"Ah," replied Douglas, "I can see that you are unused to the taste of
_aguardiente_.  It is perhaps a long time since you tasted any?
However, there is plenty more where that came from, so don't be chary of
using it; besides, I can see that you are thirsty."

After having offered Jim a taste of the spirit, which he declined, much
to Carbajal's satisfaction, that worthy again raised the bottle to his
lips and finished the contents, flinging the empty bottle away as soon
as he had done so.  He then composed himself as comfortably as he could
against the rock, tilted his cap over his eyes again, and, after a
preliminary grunt or two, announced that he felt tired and wished to be
left alone.  Jim was not slow in taking the hint, but instead of
returning to the tunnel, he took up a position from which he could watch
his fatigued warder.  He kept his eyes fixed on the fellow, and very
soon had the satisfaction of seeing Carbajal fall over on his side,
completely overcome by the potency of the drug with which the spirit had
been doctored.

Jim at once left his hiding-place and crept cautiously forward,
presently reaching Carbajal's side.  Then he proceeded to shake him,
lightly at first, and afterwards more vigorously, until he saw that
nothing would wake him for at least a dozen hours.  The next thing was
to carry the man into the tunnel, and, once there, Douglas lost no time
in stripping off the fellow's uniform and clothing himself therein.  He
then fastened on the leather belt, with its cartridge-pouch attached,
and possessed himself of Carbajal's carbine.

This completed Jim's transformation; and he flattered himself that he
could now be very easily mistaken for a Peruvian soldier, which was, of
course, what he desired.  He took one last look round the tunnel, felt
in his pockets to make sure that he had transferred to them the golden
images and the document, as well as all his other belongings, and
marched boldly out of the cavern.

"_Clang! clang! clang! clang_!"  At this moment there came rolling up
from the village the sound of the alarm-bell, cutting sharply into Jim's
meditations, and he knew in a moment what had occurred.  A perverse fate
had prompted some prisoner to seize this precise moment in which to make
a dash for liberty, and the alarm was being given.  For a few seconds
Jim hesitated, considering; then, with a hurried look round, he started
off down the hillside at full speed, leaping rocks, boulders, and
everything else that came in his way.  The soldiers were already pouring
out of their barracks!



This was indeed a sorry trick that fortune, that perverse jade, had
played him, meditated Jim.  The chances were, too, that the fugitive
would take the same direction as Douglas himself, in which case they
would probably both be captured.  This thought gave wings to the young
Englishman's feet, and he went bounding away down the hill like a
startled deer, thinking of nothing but getting to cover as quickly as
possible.  But the unfortunate fact was that there was no place within
at least a mile where a man could be concealed, and Jim knew well that
long ere he could reach the strip of forest on which he was keeping his
eye, he would be in full view of the pursuers should they happen to come
that way, which was more than probable.

Stay, though; were both fugitives taking the same direction?  There was
not so much clamour perceptible now, and Jim pulled up suddenly to
listen, at the same time looking back along the way by which he had
come.  For a few seconds dead silence reigned, and Jim was beginning to
congratulate himself that the Chilian had taken another course, when
round the corner of the hill he saw a figure emerge, flying along at a
tremendous pace, and leaping every obstacle that came in its way; a
moment later he heard a renewed uproar of shouts and curses, and he
observed that the other fugitive was heading directly for him, doubtless
with the pursuers hard on his track.

Then, at this critical moment, an idea flashed through Jim's brain.  He
did not believe that the fugitive had yet caught sight of him, while the
soldiers would not reach the corner for a few seconds, he hoped.  Like a
man shot, Jim flung himself prone on the ground, and commenced to crawl
toward a large boulder which he had just caught sight of, and in less
than half a minute he was ensconced behind a rock which was just big
enough to afford concealment to one man, if that man had the sense to
remain perfectly motionless.  Then, stretching himself flat upon the
ground, Jim cautiously peered round the edge of the boulder, in order to
keep an eye upon the escaping prisoner, for a plan had come into his
head which he thought might possibly be successful, and which was
certainly the only one which offered any hope of his being able finally
to get clear away.

Douglas had suddenly remembered that he was wearing a Peruvian soldier's
uniform; and his idea was to allow the fugitive to pass him and then
join in the chase, trusting to luck that the pursuers would mistake him
for one of themselves.  He would, of course, take care not to overtake
the Chilian,--let the poor man get away if he could, by all means,--but
he thought that if he could himself lead the pursuit, so to speak, he
might be able gradually to out-distance the rest of the soldiers, and
thus finally get clear away by allowing the Peruvians to imagine that he
was still keeping up the pursuit.  Should the man be caught, however,
Jim trusted to being able to slip away unseen amid the excitement,
especially if the capture should happen to take place anywhere near that
strip of forest country a mile or so ahead.

A very few seconds sufficed to show Jim that he had not been seen by the
Chilian, and that the latter did not intend to avail himself of such an
insecure hiding-place as the rock afforded, for he went dashing past at
full speed, leaving Jim about a hundred yards to the left.

Just as the man fled by, his heavy gasps for breath sounding
marvellously loud in the still air, the first of his pursuers put in an
appearance round the corner of the hill, a quarter of a mile away,
carrying his carbine at the trail; and he was immediately followed by
about a score more soldiers, who began to shout themselves hoarse as
they came in sight of their quarry.  Then several of the Peruvians
pulled up, and, dropping on their knees, levelled their carbines and
began to blaze away at the running man.  Douglas prayed that the unhappy
creature might not be hit, for if he were, it would bring the pursuit to
an end in the precise spot where Jim could not possibly avoid being
discovered; but he need not have been alarmed; the shooting was
execrable, and the bullets flew everywhere but near the fugitive.
Several of them flattened themselves against the face of the boulder
behind which Douglas was lying, and one nearly blinded him with the dust
which it threw up as it plugged into the earth just in front of his

The Peruvians did not keep up their target practice very long, for they
found it impossible to hit the runner, and realised that he gained a lot
of ground when they pulled up to fire.  They therefore rose to their
feet and dashed along in pursuit once more, only occasionally
discharging their weapons pistol-wise in the hope of a lucky bullet
finding its billet.

And now they were approaching the rock where Jim was concealed; in a
very few seconds he must be prepared to act, and to act quickly too.
They evidently had no idea that a second prisoner was so close to them,
for, to the young man's great relief, they were aiming to pass the rock
at a distance of quite eighty yards.  Closer and closer they came, and
as they did so Jim gradually edged his way round the rock in such a
manner as to keep out of their sight as far as was possible.  Another
moment's suspense and the leading soldier had passed the rock without
giving it so much as a glance.  Then another and another man panted
past, until presently the rearmost Peruvian went grunting and gasping

In a second Jim had sprung to his feet and was scudding along in the
wake of the rearmost soldier, at the same time edging away to the right
of the rock in such a manner as to bring him directly behind the group
of Peruvians.  Then he put on the pace a little, and found that he could
easily outrun any of the soldiers, since he himself was quite fresh
while they were already somewhat winded.  He soon overtook the last
soldier, and began to pass him, his heart in his throat with
apprehension lest the fellow should recognise him as one of the Chilian
officers, and shout his discovery to the rest.  But the fellow, although
somewhat astonished to find that there had been a comrade behind while
he thought that he himself was the rearmost man, paid little attention
to his supposed comrade, being too much out of breath to do much
thinking.  Douglas passed him, unsuspected, and meanwhile kept his eye
on the Chilian, who, although obviously failing in speed, was rapidly
nearing the belt of forest.

Jim then put on another spurt, and passed a second soldier, then
another, and still another, without attracting any particular attention
to himself; and a few minutes later he found that he was leading the
entire party of pursuers.  So far so good; his back was now presented to
them all, and they had therefore no opportunity to recognise his
features; yet while he ran he had a very unpleasant feeling that he
might expect a bullet to strike him between his shoulder-blades at any
moment.  But the bullet did not come; and he could tell, by the
diminishing sounds of trampling feet that he was still steadily drawing
ahead of the rest of the soldiers.  At this moment the Chilian plunged
into the thick brushwood, and was, in a few seconds, lost to sight,
while a yell of angry disappointment and execration went up from the
pursuing soldiery.

"Now," muttered Douglas to himself, "if that fellow only knows what he
is about, and keeps cool, he should be able to make his escape without
much difficulty."  And he too plunged forward at top speed, in order
that he also might get into the wood well in advance of the soldiers;
for his own chance of escape depended upon his being able to give his
"comrades" the slip.  A few seconds more, and Jim saw a small opening
among the brushwood disclosing an Indian "bush-path"; it was along this
that the Chilian had gone, and Douglas now himself dashed into the wood,
tearing his hands, face, and clothes on the sharp thorns with which the
path was bordered.

Once inside the wood he was out of sight of the Peruvians; and hope lent
wings to his feet.  He fairly flew along the narrow pathway until he
felt he must soon catch up the Chilian, if the fellow were still ahead;
but, even when Jim came to a comparatively long length of straight path,
he was unable to see any one, and he soon came to the conclusion that
the man had, very wisely, slipped away into the thick undergrowth to
wait until the pursuit had gone past and darkness should come on.
Douglas resolved that he would do likewise, and increased his pace still
more, so that he might be out of sight before the soldiers should enter
the straight length of path, where, of course, they would be able to see
some distance ahead.  The Englishman was lucky in finding an opening in
the thick wall of brushwood, and he plunged into the brake just a second
before the pursuing soldiery came in sight, making a tremendous noise as
he broke a way for himself, which he fervently trusted would not be
heard amid the uproar that the Peruvians themselves were creating.

As soon as he had got about ten yards from the path he flung himself
down at full length upon the ground, in a little open space which was
clear of thorns, to recover his breath and listen to the sounds of the
pursuit.  At the same time he examined the breach of his carbine and,
finding it empty, loaded it, wondering at the carelessness of the guard
from whom he had so recently taken it.  For a second or two the noise of
the runners came nearer and nearer; and then, suddenly, there was a loud
cry of "Halt!" followed by a terrific shouting and hubbub, the snapping
of small branches, the crackling of undergrowth trodden down, and then--
the report of a carbine.

"_Carrajo_!" muttered Jim, "they have sighted that unfortunate Chilian,
then!  I wonder how it was that I passed without seeing him?  Poor
beggar!  I am afraid that they won't show him much mercy--nor me,
either--if they catch me," he added.

But there was no more shooting, and from various parts of the wood men
were heard calling to each other; so Jim surmised that it must have been
a false alarm, and that the Chilian was still undiscovered.  The
soldiers were yet rather too far distant for Jim to hear what they were
shouting to one another, but presently they approached near enough for
him to catch the words, and he found that they were inquiring of one
another whether there were any signs of the fugitive, and whether "any
one had seen that swift-running man who entered the wood first."  The
replies were to the effect that the _Chileno_ had not yet been sighted,
and that the "runner"--that was, of course, Jim himself--had also
mysteriously vanished, but that the latter must be somewhere about, and
that they would soon come across him.

Douglas was beginning to fear that the last part of the remark might
very soon prove only too true, for it was evident that the Peruvians
were slowly but surely working their way through the wood toward the
place where he was concealed.  Observing, therefore, that the
undergrowth was fairly thin ahead of him, he started to crawl along so
as, if possible, to get out of the course of the beaters before they
should arrive on the spot.  Grasping his carbine so that his hand
covered the trigger-guard--in order to avoid any accidental discharge in
consequence of the trigger becoming caught in some trailing twig--he
began to creep forward, making as little noise as possible, and being
particularly careful to avoid disturbing the bushes any more than he
could help.  The soldiers, luckily for him, kept up an incessant
shouting, so that he was able to guess pretty well their relative
positions; and, after about five minutes' slow progress through the
brushwood, he came to the conclusion that he had at last got out of
their way.  There was, too, a nice little open space wherein he could
lie hidden without being in momentary fear of being bitten by a snake, a
particularly deadly species of which was known to swarm in that

By this time Jim had recovered his breath, and was eagerly awaiting the
moment when it would be safe to move, wondering whether or not he had
better remain where he was until darkness set in, when he was
dumbfounded to hear some one come crashing through the brake, apparently
quite close by, and making straight toward him.  It could not be the
Chilian, for he would never be making all that disturbance--unless
indeed he had gone mad under the stress of being hunted--so it must
necessarily be a stray Peruvian soldier.  Jim at once sprang to his feet
and began to poke about among the bushes with the muzzle of his carbine,
as though searching for somebody who might possibly be hidden among
them, at the same time turning his back on the approaching man, who was
still pushing his way through the bush and singing softly to himself as
he came.

Presently the noise sounded very close indeed, then still closer, when
suddenly it stopped altogether.  Jim knew that the other had seen him,
and was doubtless wondering what he was doing there; but he dared not
turn round for fear of being recognised; so he continued to poke about
among the bushes, as though unaware that any one was present.  Then a
rough voice, which Jim at once recognised as that of his old enemy,
Captain Garcia-y-Garcia, broke the silence with an explosion of Spanish
profanity and a desire to be informed why this particular unit of the
forces should be thus wasting his time instead of joining in the pursuit
of the fugitive.

Douglas at once realised that the captain must have come along some time
after his men, and that he had probably only just entered the wood.  He
also realised that, directly he turned round, Garcia-y-Garcia would
infallibly recognise him, in spite of the Peruvian private's uniform
which he was wearing.  He could also see, out of the tail of his eye,
the glitter of a drawn sword which the man carried in his hand.  But it
was necessary to act at once, for at any moment the fellow's suspicions
might be aroused, or the soldiers might come back, or--

Like a flash Douglas wheeled round, bringing the carbine up to his hip
as he did so, and looked the officer full in the face; while his
forefinger curled caressingly round the trigger.  The captain's life
hung by a thread, and he knew it, for he had recognised Jim as an
escaped prisoner the moment that the latter showed his face.

"Ah!" gasped Garcia, his face turning ghastly white, "it is that
scoundrel of an Englishman!  From whom have you stolen these clothes,
senor?" he went on, at the same time taking a fresh grip of his sword-
hilt and moving slightly nearer to Douglas.

It was a lucky thing for Jim that he had never removed his eyes from
those of Garcia, for he saw the murder that was lurking in them.  Garcia
was but trying to put him off his guard by asking that question, and Jim
saw it.  He had barely time to raise his carbine when the officer's
sword flashed in the air and the next second would have smote full upon
Douglas's head.  But the young man caught the blow on the barrel of his
weapon, turning the blade aside, and at the same instant he pushed the
muzzle of the carbine into Garcia's face and pulled the trigger!

There was a sharp, ringing report, and the Peruvian fell backward among
the bushes, with his head blown to pieces.  Jim hastily pushed the
corpse out of sight, reloaded his rifle, and then started to run as hard
as he could; for he knew that the explosion could not possibly pass
unnoticed in that echoing wood; and, indeed, he immediately heard a
chorus of excited shouting coming from somewhere away on his left.  He
therefore picked up his heels and ran for his life.  Luckily he came
upon another path, running at right angles to the main path, and into
this he plunged, stripping off his long military overcoat as he ran.
After running for about ten minutes, and getting thoroughly out of
breath, he stopped to listen; and, to his great relief, found that all
sounds had died away, and that the part of the wood where he found
himself was as still as the grave.

He therefore pressed on again, but not so fast as before, and in half an
hour's time he fancied that the wood was beginning to grow less dense,
and that he was therefore coming to its boundary; but it proved to be
only a large wind-gap in the forest, across which he made his way as
quickly as possible, striking into a still denser part of the wood on
the other side.  It was by this time beginning to grow dark, and Jim was
considering ruefully the prospect of having to spend the night in the
forest when he thought he heard a slight noise somewhere among the trees
near him.  He at once brought his rifle to the "ready," and glared about
him, searching the wood with his glances to see who or what the intruder
might be.  The next moment he sprang behind a tree; for it was certain
that there was somebody close at hand.  It could hardly be a Peruvian
soldier so far away from his friends, thought Jim; moreover, the
individual was treading stealthily, as though in fear of being heard.
The next moment the fugitive Chilian pushed his way cautiously into the
path, looking warily to right and left as he did so.  Douglas
immediately sprang out from his hiding-place, nearly scaring the man to
death for a moment.  The Chilian proved to be an officer who had
formerly been on board the _O'Higgins_, and he and Douglas recognised
each other instantly.

They at once sat down to talk matters over, and Jim soon found that his
friend knew this part of the country very well, having been there
before; and that he had decided to make for Arica, which was at this
time in Chilian hands.  Jim readily fell in with the plan, and after a
good long rest the two men started away upon their arduous journey.
They camped for the night on the outskirts of the wood, which they
reached about midnight, and there made a meal off the provisions which
each had been thoughtful enough to bring.  These provisions lasted them
a week, by which time they were approaching the region where they might
hope to find the Chilian outposts.  But they had either miscalculated
the distance, or the Chilians had retreated, for it was another week
before they finally came into contact with a Chilian force at Tacna;
and, meanwhile, they had had to procure food at the muzzle of Jim's
carbine, for the country-folk soon perceived that the two fugitives were
escaped Chilian prisoners.

As soon, however, as they fell in with Colonel Barros, in command of the
first company of the Taltal regiment, stationed at Tacna, their troubles
were over.  He at once provided them with mules and a small escort, at
the same time lending them as much money as he could spare.  And after a
stay of three days with this hospitable and kindly man they took their
departure, arriving at Arica two days later; and there, before their
eyes as they came in sight of the harbour, lay the _Blanco Encalada_,
the Chilian flagship, a sight which Jim thought the finest that he had
ever seen.  The _O'Higgins_ was there also, together with three other
ships; and the two scarecrows lost no time in repairing on board their
respective vessels.

Jim Douglas's reception on board was one which he will remember all his
life.  He was instantly shouldered by his brother officers and carried
off to the ward-room, where he was made to detail all his adventures,
the captain and admiral being at the moment ashore.  It was nearly
midnight before Jim had finished; and, the admiral being still ashore,
he retired to his bunk and slept the sleep of the utterly weary.

The next thing he knew was that he was being violently shaken, while a
voice cried, "Rouse up, _amigo_; rouse up!  The admiral has just come on
board; and, having been informed of your return, desires to see you
immediately.  Hurry up! for I believe, from the look of the old
gentleman, that he has something good in store for you.  It's just nine
o'clock, and he breakfasts in ten minutes; so look sharp."

Jim did "look sharp."  He dragged a uniform out of his chest, slipped it
on, and in less than ten minutes was standing shaking hands with Admiral



"_Buenas dias_, Senor Douglas," said the old gentleman heartily; "sit
down and tell me all about yourself and your doings since the memorable
night when you left the _Blanco Encalada_.  I feared that you, with all
the rest of the crew of the _Janequeo_, had perished in Callao harbour,
or fallen into the hands of the Peruvians--which is even worse, so they
tell me.  I am indeed glad to see you back again, my young friend.  Now
proceed with your report, senor, if you please."

Thus commanded, Jim plunged into a fairly full and detailed recital of
all that had befallen him since he had left the flagship, only pausing
in his narrative when Riveros wished to be enlightened upon some point
or other.  The admiral continually nodded approbation of what Douglas
had done; and the lad noticed that he paid particular attention to the
account of the silver mine at Sorata, and Jim's description of the
country thereabout.  When the young Englishman had finished his report,
which he did in the course of about an hour, Riveros suddenly said:

"Then I may take it, _Senor el Teniente_, that you are pretty well
acquainted with the country about Sorata?  Did you, by any chance, see
or hear anything of a village called Coroico during your captivity, or
while you were escaping?"

"Coroico?" mused Jim; "let me see--yes, sir; I seem to remember hearing
the place spoken of by a warder with whom I contrived to become
friendly--the man whose uniform I took the small liberty of
appropriating, you will remember.  He said that a Bolivian force was
collecting near there, for the purpose, I believe, of making raids into
the newly acquired Chilian territory."

"Exactly!  Just so," replied Riveros; "that is the matter in a nutshell.
Now listen to me for a few moments, please.  As you are aware, we have
practically destroyed the naval power of Peru; and we have also made
short work of her armies wherever we have come into contact with them.
In a word, Peru is almost at the end of her resources; and the
Government is ready to come to terms, allowing us to keep the territory
we have newly acquired along the sea-coast, namely, that strip of land
reaching, roughly, from Papos to Arica.  So far, so good.  A small
portion of that territory, however, belonged to Bolivia, which is, as
you know, the ally of Peru.  Now, the Bolivian Government is also ready
to surrender that land; but a large portion of the population will not
hear of it being given up, since their only port, Antofagasta, is
situated upon it.  These--rebels, I suppose I may call them, are trying
to displace the president of Bolivia in order to put in power a man who
will not accede to the Chilian demands; but Dr Ladislao Cabrera is too
strong for the rebels, and still retains his office.

"Having therefore been foiled in that direction, a force of Bolivians
has been collected by a noted guerilla leader named Bajos; and this
force, amounting to about a couple of thousand men, has entrenched
itself in a strong position near Coroico, whence frequent destructive
raids are being made into our newly won territory.  They burn and slay
wherever they go; in fact they leave a trail of blood and ashes behind
them plain enough for anybody to follow.  Mercy seems a thing absolutely
unknown among these desperadoes; and instead of carrying on their
warfare in a civilised manner, they are committing the most dreadful
atrocities on all Chilians, both civil and military, who fall into their
hands.  Now, these men are a menace which we cannot tolerate; for,
unless the band is rooted out and utterly destroyed, there will never be
peace or safety in the northern part of Chili.  This has been a somewhat
long introduction to what I have to say, _teniente_, but it was
necessary, in view of the remarks which I am about to make.

"As I say, the work of the navy is practically finished; but we are very
short of men in the army; for the army has to cover a large extent of
country.  I have therefore decided to transfer you from the navy to the
army, and to send you, at the head of five hundred men, against these
outlaws.  You are acquainted with the country; and you have always
carried out most satisfactorily such work as I have given you to do.
More than that number of men cannot, as I understand, be spared.  Five
hundred against two thousand is heavy odds, I admit; but much will
depend upon the man who is in charge of the smaller force; and I have no
hesitation in saying that I do not think I could have chosen a better
man for the purpose than yourself."

Jim bowed and murmured his thanks.  "Now," resumed Riveros, "the force
is actually ready, and is waiting to start on its march.  If you had not
turned up in the nick of time I should have been obliged to send another
man; for this is a matter that cannot wait.  Since you are here,
however, I shall be glad if you will start for Coroico at once.  I am
sorry to be obliged to send you away so soon, for you deserve a long
rest after all that you have gone through; but perhaps this commission
as captain in the army which I have procured for you may be some slight
recompense for what you have been obliged to endure.  Should you bring
this expedition to a satisfactory issue, I think I can promise that you
will be raised to the rank of major.  That is all, I think.  And now,
Senor Douglas, the sooner you get away the better.  _Dios guarde al
Usted_!  Any further particulars which you may desire to know will be
given you by Captain Simpson; you will find him in his cabin.  _A Dios,
senor, a mas ver_!"

The kindly but extremely busy old gentleman pushed Jim out of the cabin
without giving him an opportunity to express the gratitude he felt for
the promotion and the trust reposed in him, and he made his way at once
to Simpson's cabin, in order to get all the information possible
relative to the forthcoming expedition.  When he emerged, an hour or so
later, he was beaming with joy and pleasureable anticipation; for he
found that the task was likely to be a very difficult one; in
consequence of which he had been provided with a squadron of the Guias
cavalry, together with a couple of field-pieces, which Simpson had told
him he would find very necessary.  He quickly packed up his slender
baggage, and, after saying good-bye to his comrades, had himself rowed
ashore.  There his first move was made to the establishment of a
military tailor, where he procured his new uniform and weapons; then he
paid a visit to the cavalry barracks, selected a charger for himself,
inspected his troop, and gave orders for them to be ready for an early
start on the morrow.  They were a fine-looking lot of men, and Jim felt
that they were just the sort of fellows for an expedition of this kind.

The following morning at seven o'clock Douglas rode into the parade
ground, and found his men already drawn up, together with the two field-
pieces; and half an hour later the little army clattered out of the
barrack-yard into the streets, past the _plaza_, out of the north gate,
and swung into the road which led north-eastward toward Lake Titicaca,
reaching La Paz four days after leaving Arica.  They stayed here one
day, leaving on the following morning, and by nightfall the force was at
the foot of the mountains which they would have to traverse before
reaching Sorata.  Here they camped for the night, pushing forward the
next day right into the heart of the mountains, which, at this altitude,
were clothed with thick pine forests, and cut up by mountain torrents
spanned by narrow and frail bridges, across which it was a very
difficult and supremely dangerous task to transport the horses and the

They had been among the mountains a week, and were approaching fairly
close to Coroico; Jim therefore took the precaution to throw out scouts
in all directions round his little force, in order to prevent surprise;
and one evening, just before darkness began to settle down, one of the
men came riding in to say that he had caught sight of a small body of
Bolivians hovering among the hills about a mile to the right of the main
body.  "Evidently," thought the young commander, "the guerillas are
expecting some such expedition as this, and have thrown out their
outposts; there will therefore be little hope of taking them by
surprise."  However, as there was no further alarm, and as darkness was
fast closing down, orders were given for the camp to be pitched for the
night; and very soon the horses were picketed and the men were under
canvas, sentries were posted, and everything was made snug and
comfortable for the night.

About nine o'clock, feeling greatly fatigued, Jim turned into his tent,
and, wrapping himself in his heavy overcoat, threw himself down on the
ground, determined to get to sleep early that he might feel fresh and
fit for the next morning, when they might reasonably expect to get into
touch with the enemy.  But try as he might, and tired as he was, sleep
refused to visit him, and the harder he tried the wider awake did he
become.  He also found that he was rapidly becoming obsessed by a
horrible feeling that all was not right, that there was some unknown but
terrible danger hovering over the sleeping camp.  He strove to
dispossess his mind of such fancies by assuring himself that sentries
were posted everywhere, and that therefore the camp would be early
alarmed in the event of an attack being made; but it was all to no
purpose; the presentiment only held him the more firmly in its embrace.
He had just looked at his watch and discovered that it was midnight, and
that he had been tossing and tumbling for three hours, when his ears
caught a very faint sound, coming apparently from some distance away.

Douglas sprang to his feet in a moment, and striding to the flap of his
tent, bent all his energies to the task of listening intently.  Yes,
there it was again!  It was coming from the direction of a wooden
suspension bridge which spanned a broad ravine, and which the force had
crossed about a quarter of an hour before camping down; and it took the
form of heavy, muffled blows of iron against wood.

"Hallo!" exclaimed Douglas, "there is something wrong here! but what are
the sentries doing?"

In a second he had belted on his sword and revolver, and plunged out of
the tent in the direction from which the sound was coming, and a few
minutes later arrived at the place where the sentry should have been
standing; but there was no sign of the man--he was nowhere to be seen.

"_Caramba_!" exclaimed Jim, "I believe there has been foul play here!"
and he began to hunt about among the undergrowth for some sign of the
missing man.  The next moment he stumbled over something soft, and fell
upon his knees, putting out his hands to save himself.  They came in
contact with a rough overcoat, and in an instant Jim knew it for that of
the sentry.  Somewhat incautiously Jim struck a match, and saw at once
what had happened to the poor fellow; he had been murdered by having a
dagger driven between his shoulders!

"By Jove!" gasped the Englishman, "there has been foul treachery here.
Aha!" he continued, starting to his feet, "what is _that_?"

His exclamation was occasioned by a sudden booming crash coming from the
direction of the suspension bridge over which his force had passed
before camping, and, with a sense of imminent disaster clutching at his
heart, he dashed forward in the direction of the chasm, leaving the
sentry to the tender mercies of the vultures.  Jim came in sight of the
bridge--or, rather, its remains--a few seconds later, and saw at once
what had happened.  The dull, chopping noise which had first attracted
his attention had been caused by axe-strokes, and the bridge had been
cut through from the farther side, allowing it to fall into the ravine.
In a moment the significance of the occurrence flashed into Douglas's
mind.  What if the place whereon they were camped should prove to be a
sort of island between the ravines?  And suppose the farther bridge,
their only way of escape, should also have been destroyed?

Like a hare Jim doubled on his tracks and fled back to the camp, which
he found already alarmed by the noise of the falling bridge, and a few
seconds sufficed to warn the men of what had occurred, and to arouse in
them a sense of imminent peril.  Horses were saddled, bugles rang out,
tents were struck, the guns limbered up, and in ten minutes the force
was dashing along at top speed toward the next bridge, which they now
realised could not be very far away.

As they galloped, Jim suddenly caught the sound of chopping in the
distance ahead, and he urged his men to greater speed, the column
sweeping along over the rough ground like a whirlwind.  And they were
only just in time!  Round a bend in the road Douglas caught sight of a
score of flickering lights, and saw another ravine looming dim and black
in the semi-darkness.  Were they in time?  Was the bridge still intact?
wondered the Englishman.

"_Halt_!  Halt!" he yelled; "halt, for your lives!"

With a clatter and scraping of hoofs, a chorus of hoarse shouts, and a
terrific whirl of dust, the troopers pulled up, and Jim saw on the
opposite edge of the cleft a party of Bolivian guerillas hacking
furiously away with axes at the bridge.

"Forward with the guns!" was now the word, and a few seconds later the
two field-pieces were dragged to the front and fire opened on the
outlaws, to which they replied with a furious fusillade of rifle-
bullets, several of the Chilian cavalry falling under that murderous
fire.  But Jim now ordered the guns to be loaded with canister shot
instead of solid, and the guerillas were unable to face that storm of
missiles.  The men with the axes dropped their tools and took to their
heels into the forest--those of them who were unwounded, that is to
say--while the greater part fell dead and dying into the ravine.  Then
gradually the riflemen themselves retreated, keeping up a galling fire
the whole time; and, from their evident reluctance to retire, Douglas
guessed that they must have a strong reinforcement somewhere close at

There was therefore no time to be lost if they were to get across
unmolested, and Jim was himself the first to go over to the other side
and examine the bridge, to see whether it was still in a condition to
bear the passage of the horses and guns.  Luckily, the guerillas had
only just begun operations upon the structure, and it was hardly
weakened at all; he therefore gave the signal to his men on the opposite
side, and in half an hour the whole force was safely across.  But it was
quite evident that they were in a very perilous situation and completely
surrounded by Bolivians.  Jim therefore called a council of war,
composed of his officers, the result of which was a unanimous decision
to press forward at all hazards and strike a paralysing blow at the
guerillas before they were fully prepared for it, if possible.  Jim's
force could not be very far away now from the Bolivian stronghold;
indeed, they might come upon it at any moment, for the gigantic peak of
Sorata was well in sight, and Jim took his bearings from that.

Forward they pressed, therefore, going as fast as their horses could
carry them over the rough, rock-encumbered ground, and taking care to
keep scouts thrown out all round the main body.  But, strangely enough,
they saw no further signs of the outlaws, and Jim was beginning to
wonder where the force that was trying to destroy the bridge could have
hidden itself, when, away in the distance ahead, he heard a piercing
shriek of intense agony.  There was then a pause of a few seconds, but
immediately afterwards scream after scream went wailing up into the air!
Jim clenched his teeth and drove the spurs into his horse, crying, as
he did so: "Follow me, half a dozen of you; there is some more foul work
going on ahead of us!"

Six men immediately spurred their horses out of the press and followed
Jim at full speed, the little squad of men experiencing no difficulty in
finding the direction in which to go, for the piercing shrieks were now
becoming incessant.  After five minutes or so of hard riding, Jim came
within sight of a ruddy glare of light shining ahead among the trees,
and he at once guessed what was going forward.  Almost directly
afterwards the seven horsemen burst into an open glade, at the far end
of which was gathered a group of men, who immediately fled into the
thick brushwood at the approach of the cavalry; not, however, before Jim
had caught sight of their uniforms, which were those worn by the
Bolivian guerillas.  At the end of the clearing a large fire had been
built in the form of a circle, in the centre of which stood a stout
wooden stake driven into the earth, and to this stake was lashed an
Indian who, poor creature, was being slowly roasted to death.

Jim and his men threw themselves from their horses, and, drawing their
swords, promptly began to clear away the burning wood with their blades;
and the moment that the circle was broken, Jim dashed through the
opening, cut the ropes which bound the wretched Indian to the stake, and
carried him out into the open, where the poor creature was laid down on
the ground and given a canteen of water, which he drained eagerly,
immediately begging for more.  This was given him, and Douglas proceeded
to examine his injuries just as the Chilian main body rode up.  To his
satisfaction, Jim found that the man was suffering from nothing more
serious than a severe scorching, and he guessed that it must have been
the anticipation of torture which had made the Indian send up those
heartrending screams.  As soon as the poor wretch had recovered from the
shock which he had sustained, Jim questioned him as to how he came to be
in such a situation, and was told that the man, whose name, by the way,
was Jose, had been a guide in the guerilla service.  The Bolivians
believed that it was impossible for anybody to find the way to their
stronghold unassisted, and therefore, as soon as the Chilian cavalry
appeared, they had suspected treachery on the part of somebody, their
suspicion focussing itself in this case upon the unfortunate Jose.  They
had therefore put him to the torture, partly as punishment, and partly
to make him disclose the strength of the attacking force, which the
guerillas averred he must certainly know, since there was no doubt that
he had been in communication with it.  It was useless, said the Indian,
for him to assert his innocence and his inability to supply the
information required; he was simply not believed, or perhaps it was that
the Bolivians were glad of an excuse for exercising their cruel
instincts.  The latter, thought Jim, was the more likely cause.  Jose,
having finished the recital of his adventure, now flung himself at
Douglas's feet, praying that _el senor capitan_ would not abandon him in
this place, where he would certainly be again captured, but that "His
Excellency" would take him into his service.  If he would but do that,
Jose averred he would be a faithful and true servant to his rescuer for
the remainder of his life: he would ask no reward for his services; he
would only ask to be allowed to be near Jim--to be his own private
bodyguard, and, in short, to do everything that he possibly could to
show his gratitude for his timely deliverance.

Jim listened in silence to this outburst, and then somewhat
inconsequently inquired: "Do you know whereabout this guerilla fort is
situated, Jose?"

"Yes, senor, I do," replied the man; "it is not more than a mile away
from here, and I can lead you to the place by way of a road which the
Bolivians would never suspect you of knowing."

"Then," said Jim, "I will take you into the Chilian service as a guide,
and you can be my own personal servant as well, if you choose.  Only be
careful that you play no tricks with me, or I will hang you from the
nearest tree.  Now, I think you are well enough to walk, are you not?
Yes; very well, then; lead the way, Jose, to this road of which you
speak; the sooner we root out this nest of rebels and outlaws the

Jose did not, as Jim had expected, burst into a torrent of protestations
of fidelity; he simply bowed his head and placed the young Englishman's
hand upon it, in token of submission, and then said quietly:

"If, Excellency, you will follow me, and also give orders for your men
to ride as silently as possible, I will lead you, undiscovered, to the
fort in less than half an hour.  The road is not very good, it is true;
but everything has been prepared for your reception at the other
approach, and I can tell you that you would never have stormed the
stronghold had you gone by that route."

All being now in readiness, the men again mounted, and, with the Indian
walking in front, swung away to the right, finding themselves in a few
minutes upon a rough but wide road traversing the edge of a ravine, the
inner side of the path being bounded by a high cliff which leaned
outward until its top edge actually overhung the chasm, so that it was
impossible for any one at the top to molest a force passing along the
road by hurling rocks down upon it.  As the Indian had remarked, the
road was undoubtedly rough; they could not therefore get along very
rapidly; but the half-hour had not quite expired when Jose laid his
finger on his lips and held up his hand as a sign for the troop to halt.

"Now, _mi libertador_," said the man, "we have managed to make the
journey undetected.  The fort is round the bend which you see in the
road, and lies among the brushwood a little to the left of it.  There is
a broad slope leading up from the road to a gate in the fort which is
small and very seldom used.  The guerillas will not expect an attack
from that quarter, for they are looking for you to approach from the
opposite direction.  Horses will be of little or no use for the attack;
but if you can run up your guns, you will be able to blow in the small
gate and rush into the fort over its ruins before the Bolivianos can
offer any resistance."

Jim accordingly dismounted his men, telling them, however, to take their
carbines with them; and the horses were hobbled.  The guns were then
unlimbered and loaded, when the pieces were dragged quietly along the
road by the men; and presently the whole force drew up, just out of
sight of the fort, ready to make their rush as soon as Douglas gave the
signal.  This he did by waving his sword, so as to obviate the necessity
for shouting a command, and then swiftly the men swept out beyond the
concealment of the cliff into the open space fronting the fort, dragging
the field-pieces with them, which were immediately levelled at the gate
and fired.

When the Chilians dashed into view, there was a sentry on the roof of
the fort, and he immediately squibbed off his rifle; but the alarm was
given too late; the report of his rifle was drowned in the roar of the
guns, and the splintering and rending of the fort gate was the first
intimation afforded the guerillas that the enemy was upon them--from a
different quarter from that whence he was expected.  Over the ruined
gates dashed the Chilians, discharging their carbines as they went, and
as they entered the fort they threw down their rifles and drew their

Then began a fight most grim and terrible.  The Bolivians outnumbered
their assailants by about four to one, but the latter had the advantage
of a complete surprise, and they mowed down the savage guerillas by the
score.  There was a passage leading from the gate to the interior of the
fort, but this was soon very nearly choked with dead and wounded.  Jim
therefore rallied his men for another charge before the way should be
quite closed, and, with a cheer, his brave fellows forced a passage
through for themselves, cutting down all who opposed them.  So
completely were the outlaws taken by surprise that many of them had not
found time to arm themselves, and were therefore slaughtered like so
many sheep.  The promise of success, on the other hand, spurred the
Chilians on to still further effort, and in another ten minutes they had
struck such terror into the hearts of the defenders of the stronghold
that the guerillas flung down their arms and cried for quarter; and thus
at last the tide of death was stopped.

The guerillas were then disarmed and imprisoned in batches in the prison
cells which they had so carefully prepared for others, while their arms
were collected and destroyed, and the fort was in the hands of the
Chilians.  The terror of the surrounding country had been brought to
nothing at last, and there would be no more savage raids and midnight

A messenger was at once dispatched to La Paz to acquaint the Government
with the fact of the capture and downfall of the guerilla band, with a
request that a body of Bolivian troops might be dispatched to take
charge of the prisoners.  Jim determined, however, not to hand over the
fort, although it was situated in Bolivian territory, until he should
receive definite instructions so to do from headquarters; for he did not
know what new boundaries Chili proposed to arrange as the limits to the
country which she had acquired by conquest from the two republics; and
he thought it more than probable that his Government would decide to
retain the fort, since it occupied such a very commanding position.

He therefore in due time handed over the eight hundred prisoners--the
rest of the band having been killed--to the Bolivian troops; who
immediately returned with them to La Paz.  Meanwhile Jim repaired the
fort sufficiently to provide accommodation for his own troops, with whom
he temporarily garrisoned the place.  Then he sent a messenger on
horseback to Arica to report the success which had been obtained, and to
ask for instructions as to what he was to do with the fort.

Meanwhile the young Englishman made up his mind that he was in for at
least a fortnight's sojourn in the fort, or until such time as his
messenger should return from Arica; and he began to cast about for some
means by which to while the time away.



"Well, Jose, what do you make of it, eh?  Why, surely, man, there is
nothing in it to frighten you, is there?"

So spoke Jim Douglas to his Indian guide one morning, three or four days
after the messenger had been dispatched to Arica.  The Englishman had
found the time hanging somewhat heavily on his hands up there in that
lonely mountain fortress; and therefore, having nothing better to do, he
had brought out the roll of parchment which he had found in the tunnel
at Sorata, and had set himself to the task of deciphering its meaning.
Failing entirely, however, to make any sense out of it, yet somehow
convinced that the document was of some importance, he had called Jose
into the tent and asked him whether his knowledge of the various native
dialects was sufficient to enable him to translate it.

The effect of the sight of the document upon Jose had been peculiar, to
say the least of it.  The moment that his eyes had fallen upon the
parchment, his face had turned that peculiar greyish tint which a dark
skin takes on in lieu of pallor; his hands had trembled with excitement
or some other emotion, and his whole demeanour had been so strange as to
call forth the exclamation from Jim above recorded.

The Indian made no reply for several seconds, but sat gazing at the
document with eyes that seemed to threaten every moment to start out of
his head.  Then he turned the parchment over and over in his hands,
holding it tenderly, even reverently, as though it were some extremely
precious or sacred thing.  Finally he pulled himself together, and, in a
voice trembling with emotion, replied: "No-o, senor; there is nothing in
this document to frighten me, but--but--.  You have no idea at all,
senor," he continued, after a lengthy pause, "what this writing refers

"No, of course I have not," answered Douglas, somewhat impatiently.  "If
I knew the contents I should not be under the necessity to ask you to
translate them, should I?"

"Pardon me, senor; I spoke foolishly," replied Jose.

"Let the senor, however, listen to me while I recount a few facts to
him.  He will then see, perhaps, why I have been so utterly astonished
at the sight of this document.  Long ages ago--ay, long before the
_conquistadores_ appeared in Peru--we Indians worked the silver and gold
mines, which, as you know, abound in this country; and we also gathered
enormous quantities of precious stones from the river-beds for the
purpose of adorning the person of the Inca, our lord, and those of his
nobles whom he deigned to favour, as well as for the adornment of the
temple and of the royal palace.  By the time, then, that Pizarro and his
horde of robbers overran the land, there were millions upon millions of
dollars-worth of precious metals and precious stones in the possession
of the Inca and his nobles.  You have heard of the ransom which Pizarro
exacted from Atahualpa; how a large room was twice filled with gold, to
the value of fifteen millions of your pounds?  Well, the Spaniards
themselves knew that that ransom was but a small fraction of the
enormous wealth which we Peruvians possessed; but they did _not_ know,
as we did, how very small a fraction it was.  We had not time enough to
secrete all our treasure, for the arrival of the Spaniards was
unexpected; but we hid away an enormous quantity of gold, silver, and
jewels.  Some of it has been lost; irretrievably, I fear, through the
sudden death of the men to whom the secret of its hiding-place had been
entrusted.  But we Peruvians still know the whereabout of a good deal of
that vast hoard which is being kept for the time when a new Inca shall
arise who shall set himself at the head of our armies and sweep the
invaders of our land into the sea.  All our preparations are made; we
only await the arrival of the man.  And this document, into possession
of which you have so strangely come, relates to the burial of one of
these hoards, and tells the secret of its hiding-place, as also the
means whereby that hiding-place may be found.

"That is why I was so greatly overcome with amazement when you showed me
the paper, senor.  _I_ am one of the descendants of the ancient Peruvian
race; and, since this document is written in the secret character used
by the Incas, I can read it, and I can say, now, where this treasure is

"Phew!" whistled Jim, "that's a strange story, and no mistake.  I did
not think when I brought that document away that it would prove of quite
so much importance and value; although, to be sure, there were several
small gold and silver images buried with it."

"Images!" ejaculated Jose excitedly; "where are they, where are they,
oh, my preserver?  If you really have the signs in your possession, then
I-- Show me them, senor, show me them, I pray you."

Thus exhorted, Jim dived into the chest which he had brought with him to
accommodate his belongings, and produced the little images which he had
found in the tunnel at Sorata.  Jose fell upon his knees before them in
a perfect ecstasy of mingled reverence and delight, turning them over
and over in his hands, and speaking to them as though they were, in very
truth, alive.  Then presently he recovered himself and, placing Jim's
hand upon his head in token of submission, he said in a trembling voice:

"Oh, my deliverer, it was prophesied of old that the man who possessed
those figures should also possess the treasure; for that man would be
destined to do great things for the benefit of our race.  But in
addition to this, you have found the document; there can be no doubt,
therefore, that you, my master, are the man who is destined to receive
this great treasure, for all the signs point that way.  I am willing,
therefore, to translate this writing to you, senor, and to show you the
way to the place where the treasure is hidden, so that you may obtain
possession of it."

"By Jove!" exclaimed Douglas, leaning back in his chair and wiping his
forehead, "this is the most extraordinary affair that I have ever come
across; and--let me think! what was it that old Inca witch-woman told me
about treasure being in store for me?  Ah yes!  I remember.  She said
that one day I should come into possession of great wealth; that it was
still hidden in the ground, but that the secret of its hiding-place
should one day be revealed to me.  _Caramba_!  It really seems as though
the Inca's prophecy is about to come true.  Now, Jose," he went on,
aloud; "this is a very curious tale indeed.  I hope you are not playing
any tricks with me.

"Senor, you saved my life, only a few days ago," replied the Indian; "is
it likely that I should deceive the man who rescued me from a horrible
death?  Besides, the treasure is situated only a very short distance
from here--about a day's journey--so your Excellency can easily prove
whether I am telling the truth or not by accompanying me to the place,
and seeing the treasure with your own eyes."

"H'm!" said Jim, "yes; that is of course the most satisfactory way of
proving the matter.  My messenger cannot possibly return for eight or
ten days yet, so I should have plenty of time to make the journey.  I
can leave the fort in charge of Lieutenant Munoz, as there is really
nothing in the way of duty to keep me here.  Yes, I think that will be
best.  Very well, Jose," continued the Englishman, "we will start early
to-morrow morning; and you shall show me the way to this wonderful
treasure-house of which you speak.  You had better not talk too much,
however, about the matter whereon we shall be engaged; for there is no
need to excite an undue amount of curiosity about our movements.  Make
all the necessary preparations to-day,--you will of course know what we
ought to take with us for the expedition,--and I will let it be
understood that I am setting out for a hunt of two or three days'
duration.  We can make an early start, travel during the day, encamp on
the spot for the night, and start work on the second day, returning here
on the third.  That ought to give us enough time to do what we have to
do, ought it not?"

"Plenty of time, Excellency," returned the Indian.  "And the senor need
not be afraid that I shall disclose the secret of our journey.  You had
better take a rifle with you, senor, and let me take one, too; for it is
just possible that we might be obliged to defend the treasure after we
have secured it."

Jose then went away to make his preparations, while Jim remained in his
tent thinking over the very curious train of incidents which had led up
to that of this morning.  Later in the day he sent for Munoz and handed
the command over to the lieutenant during his absence, giving him
instructions how to act in any eventuality which was in the least likely
to arise; and the next morning, just before daybreak, he set off in
company with the Indian for the spot where the Inca's treasure was
asserted to be concealed.  Two mules had been loaded with provisions, a
tent, cooking utensils, blankets, etcetera, and in the middle of the
blankets had been concealed a couple of picks and the same number of
shovels.  Jim and the Indian each carried an ordinary army rifle slung
over his shoulder, and had a bandolier of cartridges strapped round his
waist, so that they were well prepared for whatever might befall.

The treasure was buried, said Jose, in a cave in the side of a ravine,
at a spot about twenty miles north-eastward of Coroico, and the road
thither was a difficult and dangerous one to travel, consisting as it
did, for the most part, of a narrow path just wide enough for one man--
or a mule--to pass, and skirting the edge of tremendous abysses whose
bottoms could not be seen because of the mists which veiled them.  Many
a time they came to portions of the cliff-path which were so narrow that
Jim thought it would be impossible to get any farther, but they managed
it somehow; the mules stepping along as though they had been used to
that kind of road all their lives, as, indeed, they very probably had.
For some hours the two treasure-seekers continued to ascend, the scenery
growing more and more gloomy, and the country more and more barren,
until, at mid-day, they reached the summit of the pass and began to
descend.  Then the character of the scenery rapidly changed; they left
the region of bare rock and entered upon that of the forests, leaving
that in turn for the lower lands and the region of tropical foliage,
with deep ravines crossed by frail bridges made of rattan and light

It was just becoming dusk when Jose threw up his hand as a sign for the
little cavalcade to halt.  He then took a careful look round him,
observing the formation and appearance of the surrounding country; then
he made a long and close scrutiny of the document, which they had, of
course, brought with them, and a frown of perplexity made its appearance
between Jose's eyes.

"What's the matter, _mi amigo_?" demanded Jim, noticing the look.

"Well, senor," replied Jose, "this paper says that from here one should
be able to see, close at hand, a large pinnacle of rock in the shape of
a pyramid.  It is from that pinnacle that the bearings of the treasure-
cave are to be taken and--and I can see no such rock anywhere about

"That is awkward," said Douglas.  "Does the paper say whether it was a
big or small column of rock?"

"It says that it is about the height of two men, Excellency," replied
the Indian.

"Oh, then, we may very easily find it hidden away somewhere among this
thick brushwood," replied Jim.  And sure enough, they found the rock,
after an hour's search, during which it had become almost dark,
completely covered with a thick growth of tropical foliage.  They were
able to do nothing further that night, the light having completely gone
by the time that the rock was finally identified; so they camped out
where they were, and began the search again the next morning.

From the rock Jose now carefully paced off certain distances; and, by
ten o'clock in the forenoon he announced that he had discovered the spot
where the treasure lay.  At their feet ran a stream, the approach to
which had been made by way of a gentle grassy slope.  But the opposite
side of the torrent was nothing more than a sheer wall of rock some
hundreds of feet in height, and it seemed to Jim as though they had
reached the uttermost confines of the world.  They had come so far, but
it was manifestly impossible to go any farther.  However, it was not
necessary to do so; for, on the opposite side of the stream Jim saw,
when Jose pointed it out to him, a black, round opening which, said the
Indian, was the mouth of the treasure-cavern.

Douglas thought that it would have been impossible to secure a better
hiding-place; for the approach to the spot was difficult, and beset with
many dangers.  And had any one arrived at the bank of the stream whereon
the two men then stood they would never have guessed that the little
inconspicuous hole on the opposite side was the entrance to a chamber
wherein was contained the ransom of, not of one, but many kings.

The stream, though swift-flowing, was shallow, and the adventurers had
little difficulty in getting across; whereupon they found themselves
standing on a narrow ledge of black rock, while, four feet above their
heads, was the lower edge of the hole, which proved to be much larger
than it had appeared from the other side.  It was the work of a few
seconds only for Jim to mount on the Indian's shoulders and secure a
foothold in the mouth of the cave, after which he assisted Jose to climb

As soon as they were inside, Jose seemed to be overcome with awe at the
idea of standing on such sacred ground; but Jim had no such feelings,
and kindling a torch, he bade the Indian lead the way.  The latter soon
recovered his equanimity, and, after they had hauled up the picks and
shovels, led the way into the interior of the cave, which widened out as
they receded from the entrance, until it assumed enormous dimensions,
the light of the torch being quite insufficient to disclose the
boundaries of the cavern.  And now they began to meet with traces of a
former civilisation.  Along the rock walls were ranged stone images of
the Incas and their wives, and at the feet of each figure was to be seen
a large package wrapped in raw-hide, and secured with strips of the same
material.  These packages, Jose said, contained gold bricks; and Jim
quickly proved the truth of the statement by slitting open one or two
with his hunting-knife.

It was, however, toward a row of huge chests, ten in number, that the
Indian led Jim, telling him that the real treasure was contained in
them.  Although strong, they were quickly broken open by well-directed
blows of the pickaxes; and upon the lids being raised there burst upon
Jim's eyes such a vision of wealth that he was positively dazed by the
immensity of it.  The particular chest which he opened was full, from
bottom to top, of solid gold ingots, black with age on the surface, but
showing the dull red metallic lustre of gold when scraped with a knife.
There must have been half a million pounds' worth of it, Jim guessed, in
that one chest alone--and there were nine others!  The two men then
opened a second box, at random, and this chest contained all manner of
gold and silver ornaments, of the most exquisitely delicate and
intricate workmanship.  Cups, necklaces, finger-rings, clasps, sword-
hilts, and breast-plates, the latter studded with rough, uncut jewels of
enormous size, filled the chest to the very brim, and took away Jim's
breath with the magnificence and lavish abundance of it all.  The other
cases were each opened in turn, disclosing to their astounded eyes the
veritable treasure of the Incas; and Jim immediately saw that the
removal of such a vast accumulation of wealth must necessarily occupy a
considerable time, and that the treasure would have to be conveyed away
piecemeal on mule-back.  He therefore selected from the hoard of uncut
jewels as many of the finest as he believed that he and Jose could
conveniently carry, wrapped them up in two parcels, and, giving one to
Jose to carry, took charge of the other himself.  This done, the two men
closed up the chests and left the cavern, returning to the spot where
they had camped on the previous nigh.  During the long silent hours
while Jose was asleep, Jim kept guard over the spoil which he had
already secured, and made plans for removing the rest of the treasure.
He decided to dispose of the whole of the jewels--or, rather, as many of
them as he might find necessary--and with the money thus obtained fit
out an expedition to the cavern, to bring away the remainder of the
spoil; but while he was wondering how he could elude the watchfulness of
the Bolivian authorities--who would pounce upon the whole if they should
get to hear of its existence--he fell asleep, and it was nearly eleven
o'clock when he awoke the next morning.

The two men then secured the gems to their persons, and started off on
their toilsome journey back to the fort, which they safely reached two
days later, utterly worn-out with the fatigues which they had undergone.
Jim was so completely exhausted that he spent the whole of the day
after their return upon his narrow camp-bed; but by the following
morning he was quite rested, and burning with impatience for his
messenger to return, so that he might the sooner get back to
civilisation and prepare for the expedition to the treasure-cavern.

It was some days, however, before the soldier returned, having ridden
hard night and day to deliver Jim's report and to return with orders to
the young commander.  They were to the effect that Douglas was to leave
half his force in the fort--which the Chilians had decided to hold for
the present--and to return with the remaining half to Arica as soon as
possible.  He therefore set off with his reduced company upon the
following morning, Jose insisting upon accompanying him, and reached
Arica a week later, reporting his arrival at the military headquarters
there, where he was complimented upon the success with which he had
carried out his little campaign against the guerillas, and where he
received his promotion to the rank of major, as had been promised him by
Admiral Riveros in the event of his bringing the expedition to a
satisfactory conclusion.

There is very little more to tell, for by the time that Douglas returned
to Arica the war was practically over, and as peace negotiations were
already in progress hostilities had ceased almost everywhere.  A
fortnight later the treaty was signed whereby Bolivia ceded the whole of
her sea-coast to Chili, and Peru was forced to give up 250 miles of hers
to the conquering Republic.  The Peruvian navy had been utterly
destroyed, with the exception of one or two worthless ships; the
Bolivian armies had been cut to pieces, and the allies had been obliged
to bow the knee to Chili, which had everywhere been victorious.

As the fighting was now all over Jim resigned his position in the
Chilian army and went to Valparaiso, where he eventually disposed of his
jewels for the very handsome sum of one hundred and fifty thousand
pounds, which was very much more than he had any idea they would fetch,
yet considerably less than they were actually worth.  He then made a
journey into the mountains, accompanied only by Jose and a small escort,
in order properly to survey the place where the treasure-cave was
situated before he led the expedition there for the purpose of
recovering the remainder of the gold and jewels.  But to his utter
consternation he found, when he reached the locality, that an earthquake
had recently occurred which had changed the whole character of the

He was, however, at length able to locate the spot where the cavern had
been, and he took such elaborate and complete bearings of it that he
felt sure he would one day, when things had quieted down a little, be
able to get at the chests again and despoil them of their contents.  But
for the moment he had as much money as he actually needed; so, returning
from Coroico, he bought an estate in a lovely spot near Quinteros Bay,
and settled down comfortably there, with Jose as his faithful henchman.

Jim has never married, although he is now getting somewhat on in years.
He says he is quite contented and happy with his horses, his dogs, and
Jose, who has never left his master's side for a whole day since that
eventful night when Jim rescued him from the guerillas.

For ten long years Jim lived in that house near Quinteros, which he
named "Casa Coroico"; and then the Chilian revolutionary war broke out,
and he again took up his commission as major, and fought in the ranks of
the Congressionalists.  How he fared in that campaign is, however,
another story; as also is that of his subsequent adventures in quest of
the Inca's treasure which was lost during the earthquake.  Douglas is
now a man of nearly fifty years of age; but he declares that he is in
the very prime of life; and, if you care to visit him in his magnificent
house overlooking the sea, there is nothing that will give him greater
pleasure, you will find, than to talk to you about the wild days of
'79-'81, when he fought against the Peruvians.  Every particular of this
campaign he remembers as precisely as though it had occurred but
yesterday; and he will yarn for hours together about Prat, Condell,
Lynch, Simpson, Williams, and all the rest of them; men of English
descent for the most part, who had adopted Chili as their home and
country, and who helped to make the Republic what she now is, a credit
to herself and to them, and a worthy protege of that greater country
across the sea from which sprang the noble and gallant gentlemen who
raised Chili to the position of first of the South American Republics.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Under the Chilian Flag - A Tale of War between Chili and Peru" ***

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